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Old 10-06-2010, 09:03 AM   #31
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Day 14 (Helena, MT > Red Lodge, MT)

Day 14
Helena, MT > South Dakota

I savor the last minutes of warmth in the comfort of the queen size bed then roll out, take a shower and complete packing my hear. We have a breakfast of steak and eggs soaked up with homemade drop biscuits and washed down by a stiff cup of freshly ground organic coffee. After two days of rich food, I am stuffed and feel fat. The energy is an added benefit though.


After strapping the finishing touches down to the bike, we drive up the mountain to visit with neighbors Don and Trina. He shows me his beautiful AC Cobra Replica and starts it up.

The 409 stroked V8 fires to life filling the air with sweet high octane exhaust, it’s definitively US rumble emitting for a pair of four into one exhaust pipes.

We only say “hi” as he must make a golf tee time. At 9:00, I suit up, take a few pics with the family outside beside my bike, and am riding by 9:15.

I pause leaving town to lube my chain, having avoided depositing an oily spot in their driveway. I take I-15N to US20 and can feel the action of some binding chain links. Not good. Chain wear; I will have to clean it good tomorrow but it can be such a mess (note. Bring plastic gloves in the future). The morning air is cool at 58F for the hours spent travelling at 70mph south in the cloudy gray Big Sky morning.


An Apache passes overhead.


The skies start to clear as I approach Ennis


Snow-capped peaks sit to my right.


I follow the Bozeman Trail


Alongside the road, I spot some Antelope but usually am not quick enough with the camera to get their front sides.


I fill up in Ennis and take a stretch walking around the Old West style main street munching on chocolate covered Acai berries given to me by my aunt.





This Saloon for Mac people ONLY!


Traffic is really a mess


The drivers are always ready to use their horns!




These posts mark the entrance of ranches all across the west.


I make my way up to Raynolds Pass toward Earthquake Lake.




Continuing on, I cover the last 70mi to West Yellowstone passing Earthquake and Hebgen Lake.

Earthquake Lake


Hebgen Lake


Strikingly beautiful mountain reflections appear to my right over the water and the wind blows strong but bearable.









Past the lakes and through some marshy areas, I top off the tank in touristy West Yellowstone, enter the park, and then follow traffic to Old Faithful.




I'm gettnig used to this traffic now...


I see my first Bison in the wild on the roadside and stop for a few photos.


Some more tame Antelope


The aftermath of wildfires.


Evidence of underground geologic processes.


Arriving at Old Faithfull’s massive parking area, it is easy to get lost and turned around. There are many lodges and inns of varying status, expense and class spread by acres of parking lot.

I park once, get a sticker then, after discovering where the geyser is, move my bike closer and walk the boardwalk path for an hour waiting for Old Faithful to do her thang.


The sulpher pools and geysers on the boardwalk are otherworldly, their smell pungent punctuating the path.




The Colors George! The Colors!!!




You can see the water bubbling to the surface here.




It was getting close to Old Faithful time so I didn't walk the distance to and fro to this geyser.




I took a seat at the viewing area and watched as Old Faithful beagn to spit and spray.


At 3:00, Old Faithful explodes in a tower of spray and mist.

Mistakenly sitting downwind, the blast lands directly on me but I don’t mind.

Hundreds sitting in the viewing area immediately flock to their vehicles and I sit in the hourly traffic jam exodus.



Back on the park’s “West Thumb Road”, I follow the slow 45 mph speed limit behind lines of RV’s and neck craning tourists.




Stopping affords me a brief section of open road...that is until I catch up to the line of cars.



I ride past Lake Yellowstone and up toward the Canyon Lodge. I take many pics while riding but the day is growing short so I avoid stopping.


More evidence of fire damage:





After Yellowstone Falls, I pass through this great valley and witness herds of hundreds of grazing bison in the late afternoon sun.


The road twists up and over a mountain pass with beautiful views and great turns.






Zooooooommmmm!




Speaking of fires...


Oh...here's the culprit. He said he started it






Fly fishing anyone?




I stop frequently for photos and they stop traffic walking lazily across the road.


Representin' for the BWDR and Cat Herders!


This one is giving me the stink-eye. Right back atcha!


There is a managed wild fire upwind which creates and intensity and shade to my photos as the sun slips closer to the horizon.


Eventually working out of the park on 212.






In Cooke City, the road turns into the highly discussed Beartooth Scenic Highway.


This ribbon of pavement was designed only for the enjoyment of the high altitude switchbacks and scenic vistas looking back toward the 10’000ft peaks of Yellowstone.
Temperature falls as I twist higher and higher. The sun sets to my back and the distant western peaks rest shaded in dark purple and blue in my mirrors.


Nonsense!


Oh! I had been looking for this place!

So this is what it looks like at the top of the world...




I spot snow up high on the pass ahead. Doubling the suggested speed limit, I climb skyward on this magnificent road to the summit.


Negotiating switchbacks reminiscent of the European Alps past the timberline, I finally reach the summit pass at 10’500ft.






I pause for a couple pics of my bike in the snow despite the 20mph winds coupled with temps in the low 40’s.



This snowman is fading fast!


The vistas here are magnificent.


Stopping frequently for pictures of this wonderfully engineered road, I creep deeper into the valley floor below and it grows darker.




Okay...when there is a chair-lift up to the road, you know you are in prime country.


Weeeee!!!!!


I see a fellow in shorts trying to take an arm-length self portrait so I pull up and ask if he'd like his picture taken He is a long way from Massachusettes!


Wyoming behind me


Dark clouds are visible miles to the west, perhaps it will rain overnight.


Another new Wallpaper shot!


The descent...


Smoothe on the throttle.




Thisriver flows down beside the highway between it and the Forest Road.


I make it down the pass to about 6000ft and turn down a National Forest road eventually choosing to camp along a flowing stream bordering barb-wire fenced private land.

I make leftover beans and bratwurst with sauer kraut supplied by my aunt, check email over coffee, chocolate and a pipe then retire to my tent for a marathon writing session to cover the last three days of neglected journal entries.

Tomorrow…South Dakota!
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:22 AM   #32
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Day 15 (Beartooth Pass, MT > I-90, SD)

Day 15
Beartooth Pass > Rest Stop somewhere on I-90 in South Dakota

I’m happy I made Beartooth Pass last night. This morning I woke to a dry tent and watched the fog rolling over the mountains to the west. I packed the gear and set off for the east. By Red Lodge, the fog had really set in. I fueled up then set forth into the dense 30 foot visibility dawn and was surprised yet relieved when I came across the red taillights of a Subaru with a bicycle affixed to the roof rack. I followed him through speed zone small towns with parents guarding their children beside the wet highway waiting for the school bug. Kids with trombones, oversize jackets and pink book bags stood beside the roadway struggling to see the flashing school bus in the fog. Eventually reaching I-90, I get coffee and pie at a convenient McDonalds then set off into the cold drizzle with a slight shiver.


After maybe an hour of riding in the cold wet conditions, I pull off for gas shivering uncontrollably as the north wind cuts right through me. I drag out my heated gear and strip to my base layers to put it on. Down the road, I am much more comfortable and happily smile as my core temperature rises. I turn off I-90 and stop at the Little Big Horn Museum and ride up the hill to the site of Custer’s Last Stand.




This shots for all you firearm buffs




Accurate dioramas


I chatted with this guy outside the visitor center who was having trouble with a fouling plug.


Upon that hill he lays, a black grave marker stands out amongst his men’s many white markers dotting the grasses.






Back into the chilling mists, temps are around 38F and the mean north wind attacks me for hundreds of miles across tribal lands. The speed limit is high and I stop only for gas.

My eyes reflect the determination...


To stave off the bone chilling weather and boredom, I turn on some episodes of my favorite radio program: “The Story” and listen to complex tales and dramas of distant cities and cultures.

The clouds seem to be breaking south of me but are still cool and dreary where I ride.


Yes...this pipe line was the most exciting thing I saw for this stretch of road.


Shoot! I even took two pictures








This guy makes his bike look REALLY small. I think he was just HUGE!


I reach I-90 and speedily make my way to Deadwood for a snap shot of the town.

ZZ Top soptting in Deadwood


Then I ride over to Sturgis where I procure a $.49 sticker and make a cup of beans beside my bike.






Bunch of Jap bike parts:


Back on I-90, I only travel 5 miles when my cell-phone suction mount falls off at 75mph. I reattach it and resume but it soon falls off again and I angrily stuff it away in my tank bag. Rolling into Rapid City, I follow signs for Mt. Rushmore and am dismayed when I enter the city traffic then spy the “Mt. Rushmore 27 Miles” on a sign ahead. Damn! I keep on anyway not knowing if I will ever be here again and make short work of the distance there.




More like "City of Tourism"






I take a snapshot or two while rolling by, stop for a sticker, then head back to I-90 where I slab my way into the Badlands evening.

Nice Fiat!


Out into the Badlands...


I begin to pass numerous burma-shave style signs for “Wall Drug” and am sucked into its vortex by the allure of 5 cent coffee and a donut.



I pull in and stop for my evening snack, take a free sticker then continue on my push east.

My beard is getting a little scraggly but nothing like this rough guy!


It was really only $.05!


Our buddy RatFink helps me finish the second cup.


I didn't make it to see the dinosaur


Heavy 30mph side winds continue to hinder my progress and foreboding dark clouds blossom to the north.

75mph kills the mpg so I keep it around 70mph.


A glimpse of the distant national park.


The sun sets behind me and I watch the changing colors of the horizon in the vibration of my rearview mirror.






I pass a rest stop in the dark but see the sign “Next Rest Stop 54mi” When I reach it, I welcome the break from my slabbing slant into the wind and quickly pull over the curb and around back behind the main facility building. Shielded from the wind and under the overhang of the roofline, I inflate the air mattress, roll out my sleeping bag and walk inside to brush my teeth. I cover the bike and myself with two ponchos then slide deep into my sleeping bag.


Shielded from the wind, the back side of this rest stop is rather comfortable and I take advantage of the electrical socket to charge my Chatterbox unit. I am awaken around 1AM by the clap of thunder and flash of lightning signaling the approaching storm. I slip closer to the building under the awning akin to the insects hiding beside me in the shelter of the roofline. I fall back asleep
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12' Ruckus, 01' R1150GS, 75' XL250
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:43 AM   #33
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Eek Day 16 (I-90 > Some Casion in Indiana)

Day 16

1000mi in 24hrs

(I-90 > Some Casion in Indiana)

I sleep through the rain which mostly misses me and awake in the darkness around 5AM. Packing goes quickly and I hastily make my escape over the grass, curb and back onto I-90. I ride until my gas light comes on then fuel up and check my tire pressure. I watch the sun rise as I make for Mitchell, SD where I eat breakfast and make a brief visit at the Corn Palace.

The entire facade is recreated each year out of corn cobs.


All the art up there is made of corn cobs.


Corny aye?



This thing just looked strange. Some pseudo tribal tourist thing-a-ma-jig.


The remainder of this day is all about big miles and crossing as many states as I can in a final push back home.

Minnesota.




See ya Minnesota


Hello Iowa


It began to sprinkle in Iowa and I glanced at my radar on the phone. Looks like I am riding into the back end of a storm




Later Harley Dudes




Guess I will just have to push on right through.

BREAK ON THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE!


Success!


I ride well in to the night and stop somewhere in Indiana by a Casino at 11PM or so. After covering over 1000mi for the day, I am starting to nod off and could use the break. I pull off the interstate, ride past a marine store then down a dead-end road to a clump of trees where I string up for a four hour rest. Laying in my hammock, I watch a police car pull over an SUV on the opposite side of the interstate. Soon, a couple cop cars flash their blue lights and haul away the driver in front of the Casino. As long as they stay busy on that side of the highway I'm happy.
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Old 10-06-2010, 10:57 AM   #34
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Thumb Day 17 (Indiana > Home)

I have just over 500miles to get home. I pack up the hammock, have a bite of beef jerkey and set off into the darkness with four hours of sleep. The miles roll past but the sun doesn't show any traces of awakening the night sky. After 120miles, I stop for fuel and breakfast in Cincinatti.

Somewhere in Ohio, the sun begins to rise in the sky.


The landscape changes and I start to feel more at home.


In Kentucky, the fog sets in and I deal with it.




I lube my chain and fuel up in KY then cross the river to WV









The Capitol Dome in Charleston, WV shimmers in the morning sunlight.



The wide Kanawha River


Leaves are starting to change as I climb higher into the WV hills.


I make my way back to VA, fill up for my final time and remove some heated layers and wool. It is not 85F, the warmest temperature I have seen since California!

I-81 is back to the same old congestion.


My father surprises me when I get home. The first thing I do after pulling in to my driveway is give my bike a big hug and "Thank You"


I was running a relateively fresh set of Bridgestone Battlewings when I left.

This is after 8500mi on the tires:

FRONT


REAR:


RatFink and I both MADE IT!!!


Now to find space for all these on my panniers (I eventually do but it takes me some time...they are now full)


I shower and shave. Ahhhh I feel like a new man!


Dad picked up a meal of Ribs as a surprise so we sit down and I tell him about my trip over a Dogfish Head IPA


I finish the meal, clean up the dishes and our buddy George (ONandOFF) happens to ride by. We chat with him for a few hours then Dad and I get Ice Cream in town. I go to bed around 9PM, savoring the fresh white bamboo sheets of my own queen size bed.

Monday is just another work day...though I am a changed man.
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Old 10-06-2010, 12:25 PM   #35
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So you smuggled fresh fruit into California?
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Old 10-06-2010, 12:28 PM   #36
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They weren't taking my Fruita peaches!
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Old 10-06-2010, 02:02 PM   #37
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Thumb Darth Peach!

Quote:
Originally Posted by HBN







Eventually I pass the cue and arrive at the market just in time to meet the famous Darth Peach of ADVRider.com.


More beautiful in person than photographs, I introduce myself and taste some of her complex and unique varieties of jam. I select some interesting flavors such as Peppered Pomegranate and Jalapeno Garlic for fellow inmates back in the Shenandoah Valley.


I help her pack up the stand and enjoy her genuine personality and wit. She offers to show me around some of the area this afternoon and I graciously accept. While she returns home to get her Tiger, I stroll around Point Reyes for an hour then suit up when she returns.



I follow her to the Point Reyes Seashore and the views through my helmet look like snapshots from her Ride Report as she negotiates the sometimes rough road through ranch land and down toward the ocean. She frequently points out the view of Tamales Bay to the right and the foggy Pacific to the left.




Our valley tag mascot, RatFink, sneaks a ride on DP's Tiger


The one and only


She waves me by and I take photos descending the grass lined ridge seeming to drop precariously into the sea.




Wow.
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Old 10-06-2010, 02:04 PM   #38
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Thumb Epic Report

Great fotos...outstanding narrative. Bravo.
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Old 10-06-2010, 04:08 PM   #39
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Mike- Nice report, the perfect amount of flower pics.

As Pirsig wrote, " On a cycle the frame is gone. You're in the scene, not just watching it anymore".

Thanks for sharing your scene.

BTW, do your JMU friends know you travel on a UVA seat pad?
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Old 10-06-2010, 04:23 PM   #40
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It cost $1. Something about putting it under my backside just seemed so right. Honestly, I'm not one for sports or team spirit.
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Old 10-07-2010, 05:08 PM   #41
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Really great ride report and pictures! Thanks for sharing. I could totally relate to your description of Mt.Evans. I rode up it 2up with my wife this past July, it was 80 degrees at the bottom and 42 degrees at the summit. When we got to the top I got off the bike and thought for sure it would be blown over, I just stood there holding the bike up.
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Old 10-07-2010, 05:50 PM   #42
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Old 10-07-2010, 10:10 PM   #43
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WOW! Excellent Writing and Great Pics. I very much enjoyed that.

btw. those were elk not antelope in Yellowstone.


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Old 10-08-2010, 04:39 PM   #44
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Photos

Wow... nice photos!
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Old 10-08-2010, 06:35 PM   #45
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Great fun Mike. I kept calling my wife over to the computer and showing her your pics, we both really enjoyed the RR.
Thanks, we're fired up to head West again!
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