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Old 09-09-2007, 06:38 PM   #1
vermin OP
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Detroit to San Diego, Zen and the art of motorcycle negligence,

First off I would like to thank all the people at advrider for making me feel like there was a group I fit in. I was an Indian without a tribe, a soldier without an army, a dork without a marching band (relax I was in band I can say that).


The Set Up

I am a middle aged man who sits in a cubicle. I design car parts. I have done it long enough to see the parts that where so important to the suits (management) that they made me miss a large part of my childrens lives, end up, rusty, powering crystal meth addicts around the mean streets of New Jersey on reruns of COPS. In short, I have put the whole thing in perspective. I spend 51 weeks per year scheming about next excellent adventure.

My history, I presume is shared by most people on this forum. My mother begrudgingly let me have a 3 hp mini bike when I was 11. She claimed it was like marijuana in that it was an entry drug. I thought she was crazy, she wasn’t, I have ridden nearly every piece of crap motorcycle that would start over the last 38 years. I have always wondered “what’s over there?”

Thanks to an understanding wife, I was able over the years, to pilot my assorted and sundry hunks of crap motorcycles throughout 46* of the contiguous United States with a vibrant assortment of good hearted ne’er do wells.

Having conquered most of the United States I began to notice a pattern forming, as my real life only allows one week of absence every other year or so I would ride like hell for 3 days away from home, go to as many states as I could, slowly wistfully turn around put my tail between my legs and ride home. This turned the last half of every vacation/adventure into a very long commute to a job that I have long since lost my enthusiasm for.

This summer as I plotted my next exit scenario I stumbled upon “The Big Idea”.
Instead of running out to the end of my leash, jerking up short and dejectedly heading back to the doghouse I figured out a way to double the leash and finally bite the mailman. I WOULDN’T TURN AROUND.

I would go straight out for my whole vacation and abandon my recent nearly used up rat bike and fly home.

To add an element of excitement to the trip my 13 year old son (drifter) expressed an interest in tagging along.

Aye Karumba!

*Rhode Island and Delaware remain elusive dreams, no real compelling interest in either except that George Thorogood and the Destroyers are from Delaware. What gnaws at me is that I know that information but still occasionally spell my wife’s name wrong.
The Trip

Detroit to San Diego
San Diego was a logical destination as it was the farthest I could get from Detroit and I have in-laws there that could help facilitate. The theory being if I could leave the bike at the in-law’s pole barn I could return next year and continue the trip maybe down to Costa Rica, maybe cruise across central Mexico and pop back out into Texas and re abandon the bike or maybe take the Missus up to Seattle. The world is my oyster.

The Bike

My weapon of choice is my beloved Honda PC800. It was Hondas answer to a question no one in the 1990s was asking. It is a pretty dang good all round bike with a copious amount of luggage and as reliable as the monkey bars at school. The only draw back is that if you have any more testosterone than Pee Wee Herman you may be embarrassed to be seen on it. It has followed the path of my last few bikes general neglect and a flair for the practical use of cable ties, dry wall screws and duct tape has created a monster.


Lawn mower handle/barbeque legs luggage rack
Lowes $19 toolbox luggage
Bus turn signals
Pine stick lid prop

For those interested Drifters account is at

Bless his pea pickin heart

vermin screwed with this post 12-16-2007 at 10:52 AM
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Old 09-09-2007, 07:10 PM   #2
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This thread has promise. I predict two run ins with the law, three maxed out credit cards, and I'll give even odds that the 13 year old winds up with a tattoo leaving the op on the couch for a month.
“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.”
― G.K. Chesterton
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Old 09-09-2007, 07:38 PM   #3
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This should be good.

Another Detroiter's story of escape. I made the break 20 years ago, go back once a year, and that's enough.

Save $5 off your smugmug account with this coupon( 1qoLJk8tfsGWM )
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Old 09-10-2007, 05:33 AM   #4
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You guys don't know what you're in for!

Here's a pic of the Tupperware Torpedo in all its glory this time last year at Deal's Gap:

There is absolutely no reason that bike should still be running. Honda should buy this bike back just to do a teardown.

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Old 09-10-2007, 05:38 AM   #5
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Roll the Pacific Coast gypsy wagon

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Old 09-10-2007, 09:02 AM   #6
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the posse

The Players Left to right

Big Bad Biker Buddy Bruce- Human GPS. A long term buddy who can always be counted on to roll I mean ROLL. Distance is nothing but math to Bruce. We started riding dirt bikes together in the mid seventies so we have history. Now he is riding Electra Glide number 4 he puts 100k on them and buys another one. I bought my first motorcycle off him in 1974 (TS250 Suzuki). We have hit most of the states together. Rock solid riding buddy and all around guy.

Drifter- my 13 year old son wants to grow up to be a writer so I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to flash some cool sights, smells, feelings past the boy to create fodder for his fertile imagination. It was his last week before school starts and a trip like this is just what he might need to help him stare out the window and let his mind wander for the next 9 months while his grades falter. I have no small amount of personal experience with this.

Chip- Next gen. excellent adventurer. Neighbor of Bruce’s as a child, turned ‘hey Bruce watch this” into an early reality series. Has been a reliable co conspirator since the early 90’s. He is rolling on a 1985 E-Glide (Bruce’s number 2 AKA Blue) that he has resurrected from a rusting rattle canned barn ornament status to a new looking and running touring bike. Most impressive feat to date was 4,000 mile tour to the 4 corners on a Suzahamasocki impaler (250lb man, deli sandwich sized seat). Will go anywhere and do any thing on a moments notice. I have known him for 10+ years and never knew his real name or needed to until last year.

ME- AKA Vermin, behind the camera, grumpy middle age man since birth according to my wife.

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Old 09-10-2007, 09:14 AM   #7
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Pre-trip Planning and Inspection

Usually I don’t do either I just leave, but because pride and joy was coming along riding shotgun a certain amount of parental prudence was necessary. Buddy Fat Bastard (ex excellent adventurer who has given it up for golf) Suggests that as I am going through the desert my coolant level should be reviewed. This disturbed me because I suppose I always knew the bike had coolant but had never checked it. After a little furrowing of the brow and some sloppy new math I came up with the number 17. 17 years since the anti-freeze was installed in Japan, god why didn’t check this earlier? I looked in the resevoir NOTHING (hyperventilate), looked in the radiator and someone had replaced the antifreeze with restaurant grade Coca-Cola™ syrup (conniption). T minus 21 hours till blast off and I had a marginal situation on my hands. I impatiently kicked off the shroud covering the radiator and chiseled out the remaining coolant and replaced it with fresh. There ready to go.
Threw all my crap and his crap in the luggage and went to work for the final day.

There is nothing can stop time in its tracks like having a loaded bike at home on your last day of work. I endured. Departure time at home was 4 o’clock.

This picture was taken just after I had kicked off the front lower radiator cowling. I pray to god no one from the Pacific Coast web site sees this or I will be lynched. The mere breaking off of a tab sends them into a state of apoplexy.

ap·o·plex·y (āp'ə-plěk'sē) Pronunciation Key
  1. Sudden impairment of neurological function, especially that resulting from a cerebral hemorrhage; a stroke.
  2. A sudden effusion of blood into an organ or tissue.
  3. A fit of extreme anger; rage: "The proud . . . members suffered collective apoplexy, and this year they are out for blood" (David Finch).

vermin screwed with this post 12-28-2007 at 12:47 PM
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Old 09-10-2007, 09:23 AM   #8
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great thread, can't wait to see more.
hell i'm 25, just started cubicle life (omg!) and am already dreaming of these kind of adventures ;)

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Old 09-10-2007, 09:32 AM   #9
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Launch (August, 24th 2007AD)

The departure sequence was uneventful Bruce and Chip showed up as planned, as always, on time in my driveway. We rolled out of town headed toward the slab (WB I-94) on a 2 lane. The jitters are redlined at the moment because of the enormity of the trip and the responsibility of doing something inherently stupid and dangerous with the fruit of my loins on the back of the bike. In short WE ARE JACKED UP.

I practice some relaxation techniques that don’t work. We roll west into an ominous black cloudbank. 15 miles from home we don the rain gear. 15.0000001 miles from home we get hammered 30+ mph crosswinds, hail, lightning and driving rain. No where to run to baby, no where to hide. I had to do the futile endeavor checklist.

1) Pull over and stop= impractical as we would still get soaking wet, still get hit by lightning and possibly get rear ended by a car.

2) Keep going= get soaking wet, hit by oncoming traffic, blown off road and tumble through ditch and get hit by lightning.

We chose number two because there would be less disgrace and less standing in the pouring rain looking stupid.

We finally found a gas station with an awning we could pull under.

This part is true* As we stood under the awning a semi-truck and trailer pulled in to fill up we noticed water was up to its axles.

*as exaggeration is the norm on a trip we resort to presuming that all statements are damn lies unless this disclaimer is present.

. My high buck Aerostich suit might as well be made of crepe paper as I was soaked to the bone. Oh well we are accustomed to this type of foolishness in Michigan so we got on the freeway and picked our way through flash floods in all the low lying areas. Say what you want about the boredom of freeways I kind of like them for the way they quickly, safely and easily get me the hell out of Dodge.
We motored on west toward Chicago with little trouble the post storm weather was pleasant and I started to relax and get in a groove. Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Paw Paw, it was starting to click. Who knows maybe Gary Indiana* won’t be the horrible traffic snafu it usually is. For those of those unfamiliar with I-80/90 through Gary it is exciting.
Every car and truck headed from the northeastern United States to any where west of Cleveland goes through this corridor. It usually has construction and ten mile back ups.

What magic is this? It has four brand new lanes and light traffic. Finally I might have a smooth departure past the south end of Lake Michigan. NOT. As we approach Gary the brake lights come on and we hit the jam. The rainstorm has flooded both sides closing the eastbound lanes and closing half of the west bound lanes. Half of the traffic is Asplund tree trucks filled with Mexicans stuck on the freeway trying to get into Chi-town to clear downed trees from power lines. We are rebels and just blast down the shoulder. Hey if they where all on bikes there wouldn’t be a problem. Not to mention two of our crew are on air cooled bikes and too much not moving makes man and machine fail.

We clear the mess and head into Joliet, Illinois to set down for the night, We get unpacked in our room and Chip calls his girlfriend at the crib. Come to find out 50 minutes after Chip came to my house the storm came through his neighborhood and blasted (knocked down or severely damaged) all the houses but his. Good way to start a trip.

*Michael Jackson’s hometown and from what I can tell a particularily wretched rust belt chancre sore of a town.
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Old 09-10-2007, 09:38 AM   #10
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another escape from the mitten of unemployment!

I'm hooked, neat writing style, excellent adventure. Write/ride on brotha, I'm watchin this one!
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Old 09-10-2007, 10:58 AM   #11
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Old 09-10-2007, 01:43 PM   #12
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Let me guess. You left town on the 24th of August for the great adventure. I'm right down the road from you and left at 4AM that morning for Wisconsin thru the UP, missing all the weather this time. Hope you had a great ride and the teen got some real inspiration for his creative writing stories.

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Old 09-10-2007, 03:33 PM   #13
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It is time to reveal the true nature of Bruce and Chips involvement in this whole charade. They have limited time so they are going part way. Their role is to be the booster rockets that help get me past the gravitational orbit of my normal life. They are damn good blokes for doing so.

Below is my shrine to excellent adventures the dark black lines are the places one or both of them has traveled with me so I cut em some slack

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Old 09-10-2007, 04:33 PM   #14
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Day 2 (August 25th)

Day 2 (August 25th, 2007

Anyone who does this trip knows that an eastern boy traveling west has to recalibrate somewhere around the Mississippi River; Things slow down a little, you get your groove back. I was not meant to be a go-go go getter and out here that is just fine they like you the way you are. It rubs off and I begin to be less of an asshole. The cashier asks how is it going and listens to the response. She seems to care more about your day than you do. The smiles come easier. There is one more recalibration around the Missouri River I will get to later. I don’t know if this same transmogrification happens in a car full of people. I doubt it.

We head into the Quad Cities (Davenport, Rock Island, Ottoman and Moline) I holler at Drifter to get pictures of the flooding. The water is up the roofs on some of the houses and outbuildings. I should have given him some rudimentary instruction on digital camera operation before leaving. Tempers flare. Oh well the inappropriate double A batteries fail almost at once anyway. It would be some time before we found the appropriate gillion dollar kryptonite batteries to take blurry pictures of the back of my head.

I get the distinct impression that this had been a bean field the day before.

We went to the worlds largest truckstop on I-80 it is quite an edifice to movement. Chip was like my mom at a scrapbook convention as he is a trucker. I forgot to go around back and look at the 800 parking spaces filled with American Steel. Enjoy your biscuits and gravy boys the Mexicans are coming.

This is one large truck stop. There are 2 semi rigs inside along with miscellaneous other vehicles.

Drifter looks natural behind the wheel doesn't he

We probably saw 100 of these tree trucks headed toward chicago.

Obligatory picture of the Mississippi

I like Iowa, it is like rural Michigan was when I was a wee lad. We headed west (I-80) for awhile until Bruce got tired of leading at which point he instructed me to go about 70mph for 25 miles and then head south (just west of Des Moines which is French for “the Moines”) to break up the boredom. God I was excited I got a position of responsibility. I charged out front and enjoyed leading my posse across the cornfields. Once the thrill of the promotion wore off it occurred to me that I had no way of knowing my speed or distance* and I hadn’t been paying attention to the mile markers.

*I abbreviated/eliminated my instrument cluster when my speedo broke. The logic being that I had not been pulled over for speeding since 1987 and even then I had a speedo so it didn't help. Bye Bye speedo. Tach who needs a tack it is a Honda twist the handle until the noise quits getting higher there is your redline. A side benefit of this arrangement was that without a temp. gauge it would not overheat. I would have liked to have kept the gas gauge but my mallot was not that precise.

I blame Bruce for pegging me as leader. Oh well I rode west for a undetermined period of time and then headed south on a 2 lane.

As it turns out this areas claim to fame is that it was the setting for the book/movie “Bridges of Madison County”. I read/saw neither. I don’t tend to watch Merle Streep movies as they don’t usually have any explosions or wet scantily clad women. For that matter I am not sure I want to see Merle wet, scantily clad or exploding. I digress. As fearless leader I decided to follow one of the historically significant signs to one of these bridges. The name of which escapes me. I envisioned a long covered bridge with gingerbread scroll work on the peak. I thought it would be an excellent photo op. to add some interest to our mid afternoon ride. Of course the fact that I cared for the aesthetics of the moment and had heard of Merle Streep put me on the suspicious list with male nurses, male flight attendants and banquet organizers. Sorry if I offended anyone, if so go take a nap.

Anyhow we turned off the two lane and headed down a soupy gravel country road for quite a ways. Under these circumstances Chip usually gets quite agitated, this was no exception. Bruce just handles it having driven 800 miles of gravel road in the Yukon on his fully loaded E-Glide the previous summer (distance and territory subject to later fact injection). Now that I think of it my bike was no picnic, a tired road bike with no suspension* 2 up with the equivalent of a refrigerator on the back. We rode some distance (no odometer) and finally came upon the bridge. It was a piece of crap, It had a flat roof and was about thirty feet long with some pot bellied local guy running his riding mower next to it. Oh well, we still have our health. We headed west on county 2 lanes till we got to the Missouri River and we crossed on an old tyme run down toll bridge that was about 1.5 lanes wide. Just think approx. 200 years ago Lewis and Clark went under this very bridge headed toward North Dakota. Historical footnote, the act of shivering was perfected during this phase. Until the Lewis and Clark expedition shivering was only used as a primal response to kissing old moley aunts.

The Missouri River up north by where it crosses I-90 is the boundary of the true west for me. When ever I ride out to Sturgis on westbound I-90 over the hill that gives you the view of the Missouri it takes my breath away. To the east is the world you know, square cornfields, Home Depots, and lip biting soccer moms. To the west is the true prairie, hot grass lands as far as the eye can see that mankind has never really figured out how to harness. Teddy Roosevelts only failure involved loosing a large portion of the family fortune grazing cattle in the badlands. I dig it. Drifter has no point of reference for this feeling yet. Maybe he'll get it maybe he won't. I hope he is better at adapting to the "real world" than I am and becomes a success on his own terms and won't have to run the prairies to find peace.

unfortunately we are between cameras now use your imagination.

In Nebraska now, Ride, Ride, Ride, Ride, Ride,

corn, corn, corn, whats that smell corn, corn, corn, (Haywood Banks I-80 song)

York sleep

*after a several year struggle with fork seals the forks finally puked fork oil all over newly installed brake pads. That was the straw that broke the camels back. I drilled holes in the fork legs and watched the demon fluid drain out into a tray. I have never regretted that move.

For those unaccustomed to reading advrider ride reports this report continues through page six that you can get to by poking the next page in the Page 1 of 12 bar at the bottom of this page.

vermin screwed with this post 12-03-2007 at 01:11 AM
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Old 09-10-2007, 07:03 PM   #15
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Man..tha is one ugly motorsickle..but the writin' is purdy..,.
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