Tag Archives: detroit

Home. 11,156 Miles and 7 Weeks Later

Ugh.

Holy shit, it’s over.

For now.

That was a haul unlike any other I’ve attempted. Trying to find words to encapsulate a trip of such size is difficult, hell, trying to grasp all that was seen and done is a lost cause. Gotta love photos and blogging for keeping track of the memories and events. While an epic adventure, not the last big ride. Between the Desert SW this spring and this haul, I’ve only begun.

Blasting across Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Idaho and finally half of Oregon in 5 days wasn’t fun, but at least my crotch is still numb from the ride. Goddamn thumpers.

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The requisite Kansas corn shot. Blasting through the Midwest exposed me to a ton of smaller to tiny little towns that, again despite common impressions, were lively, attractive and flourishing. Honestly, the grossest little shitholes didn’t arrive till Colorado. My route limited my exposure to the overall picture, but I think a good impression was gained and it differs greatly from what is considered common knowledge concerning the ‘flyover’ states.

There is little to report from the 5 day ride home from Detroit beyond shitty hotels, generally monotonous scenery with the occasional surprise, and ever increasing smoke levels the further west I rode. There was a short stint spent under the tongue of a horse trailer in Colorado to avoid a severe thunderstorm, but that was about it.

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The exhaust kind of fell apart in Kansas, leading to some ingenuity in keeping it at least partially functional. Even with earplugs in, Thumper is a noisy beast when uncorked.

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The one place in SE Idaho I wanted to camp had narrowly avoided being burned up not too far in the past. As I cruised through my old BLM District there were a surprising number of recent fire scars, must be a great season for OT.

Pulled in at the Crystal Crane Hot-springs near Burns, OR for the traditional post adventure camp and soak, managed to hang out for a few hours, then said “fuck it”, packed up and did the last 127 miles to home. After so long, 127 miles was a blip, a mere blink of time through well known terrain towards real food, a shower, MY bed. Easy peasy.

Then it was done. Parked the filthy bike in the garage, hit the shower and pigged out on I can’t remember then passed out. All done. Shaving never felt so good.

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The week since then has been a mixed bag. All the fucking godawful tourists sliming around for the eclipse had the town packed and my tolerance frayed. Having to deal with regular day to day stuff and figure how to fill a whole day is now just starting to happen. When 2 months straight is ride, sleep, repeat life is pretty fucking simple. Modern life can really complicate a good thing. Obviously, I didn’t feel like writing, and don’t now, but the 3 of you deserve a conclusion to this whole thing.

Got the bike all squared away, cleaned up, exhaust repaired, oil changed and tires topped off. Never know when you’ll need to get in some ride time for sanity sake.

The eclipse was neat, but so severely overblown by the #hypetards of modern social media it was silly. In the era where snow storms get named it shouldn’t surprise me, but I’m still fairly old school in that regard. Stores are now having big blow it out the door sales to try and recoup all the coin they spent on shit no one cared to buy.

Sweet.

The reason for the cutting short and big blast back shall be attended this coming Monday.  Shaved, got my hair did and have my fancy job getting clothes all ready to go. A finalizing interview, soon followed, hopefully, by a new gig. Requiring yet another relocation to a different state, but I like Washington and will be close enough to PDX for sales tax free shopping and the visiting of all my friends still able to manage there.

So, that’s pretty much that for this trip. Epic sights, wonderful friends and family, kind and friendly strangers, minimal mechanical issues, and a passion even further stoked to do it all over again. Soon. I’ll be hitting the upper Midwest for sure for more exploring and including eastern Canada and the eastern seaboard of the US for good measure. Not sure if Thumper will be my steed for the next big haul, but it will certainly be called upon for smaller trips.

Like the one I head out on this Thursday.

Time to Willy.

 

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Family Funtime

Rolling into Hartland, WI had me nervous initially, but very soon that all went away and a most excellent time was had. For a very long time family for me has consisted of my sister, bro-in-law and their kids. My folks bailed from Wisconsin to the west coast soon after getting married and didn’t keep too much contact with family. Well, my dad did, but his asshole wife cared little for his family and hated hers so extended relatives were not a part of my growing up. Other than visiting WI for the grandparents 50th anniversary as a 9 year old and my grand dad visiting for my sister’s HS graduation (subsequently getting meningitis and dying) it was us alone in the west.

A couple years ago cousin Mike and wife Sue got hold of us and said they wanted to come out and visit, catch up and see what was going on with us. It was a great visit and made me happy to have missed out on all the funky family shit that had been going on in WI we were lucky to avoid. However, we missed out on meeting their kids, we are the youngest of the family so everyone else is 15 to 17 years older, and grand kids and being a part of their lives.

All that was rectified with this visit. Met my 2nd and 3rd cousins, Aunt Pat who was married to the main family asshole back in the day, but is now more part of the family than him and his demon spawn, and Bubba, cousin Jill’s Jack Russell terrier.

Hanging out with cousin Mike was a hoot. Being a contractor in the area for 40ish years and very involved in the community he seemingly knows everyone and all that goes on in the area. Quite the man about town. Fun to hit the local breakfast hangout for all the old characters in town, chugging coffee and busting balls. Spent time at 2nd cousin Angie’s place in the burbs her husband Jim had turned into a AV/man cave paradise. The garage bar beats any I’ve seen. Their daughter is a serious ball of fun.

 

Her brother Chris and his wife Beth have 2 awesome kids and a sweet 100+ acre farm where they raise chickens, make maple syrup and raise bees on top of having regular gigs.

Spent time on the nearby lake cruising around on the pontoon boat one evening, and a jet ski another. Sea Doos kick ass. If you’ve never gone 70 MPH across water you really owe it to yourself to give it a go. Soooo goddamn fun!

Lake time with the fam

Pewaukee Lake pontooning

Hanging out listening to family history and adding in gaps from my side was a great time. It was universally agreed that the family assholes were not worth monkeying up the cool thing we had going. Supporting each other and sharing time with those we enjoy are values and ideals we could agree on.

Highlighting the visit was a day in Milwaukee checking out where they all grew up in the NW  part of the city, the wonderfully reinvigorated downtown and the topper:

H-D Museum

the Harley-Davidson Museum. Holy hell, what an amazing place. I’m not a huge Harley guy, but as a moto guy I was blown away by the quality and depth of the place. Should you find yourself anywhere near Milwaukee, you need to check it out if you have any interest at all in motorcycles.

Words don’t do it justice, so here’s a ton of photos

 

 

Spent the following day tracking down parts for Thumper, which cousin Mike generously picked up, and got them slapped on to keep the adventure rolling. Rear tire, oil, and battery needed to get updated if things were to continue. That evening was Jet ski and pizza night which is really hard to beat.

Needing to get the party back on the road we spent the morning BSing with Mike, Jill and aunt Pat and chugging coffee before I headed of to the high speed ferry across lake Michigan. No interest in driving through Chicago. Nope.

Met a number of other bikers on the ferry and was the only ADV rider. Mostly H-Ds, go figure. All heading back home from Sturgis. After putting WI in the rear mirror, it was a while until land came back into view. Them Great Lakes is big! Heading across the lake facilitated getting to visit a friend in Detroit for a bit without having to drive through 3 states and Chicago.

 

As is typical, I had an important phone call that was to occur at noon, precisely the time we were loading the ferry. Missed the call, but returned it ASAP and had an excellent conversation with a potential employer. Later in the day I received and email discussing on-boarding me with the company. I believe I have a GIS gig in Vancouver, WA with a good deal of potential for growth.

Got to friend Heather’s place in a suburb north of Detroit and had a nice 2 day hang. She was generous with her time and place despite being in the midst of a whirlwind of suck in her personal life. Didn’t temper her ability to give an excellent tour of Detroit and environs. Now, the current word on Detroit out west is that it’s still stuck in the early-mid 90’s shithole, murder capitol phase and beyond help. That could not be further from the truth. While not perfect, the city is vibrant and happening. As in Milwaukee, old buildings are getting remodeled, there is a great river walk and every block was packed with businesses and people out enjoying it. Took the People Mover to get a good overview of downtown, then hit Greektown and Steeltown before heading back to her place to check out a free concert in a park on St Claire Lake and meet some of her friends.

 

Headed out the next morning to begin the return home. Yes, the trip’s eastward progress is over. 7 weeks out has been a hoot, but the new gig necessitates getting my ass back west to get the next phase rolling. This post finds me in a hotel in St Joseph, MO after 2 days of hard pushing west. Hoping to get back in Bend by Tuesday to be in place before the eclipse madness kicks off. Then to Vancouver to discuss the position.

I’m both disappointed and  relieved to be heading back. Over 9000 miles ridden, so many adventures had and sights seen it blows my mind. Not the trip of a lifetime, but another in a list of adventures in life to be had.

Tomorrow, Colorado or Wyoming depending on route taken.