Tag Archives: moto adventure

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.

IMG_20170812_141900841_HDR

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.

IMG_20170812_165459285

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.

IMG_20170813_201014157_HDR

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.

IMG_20170814_191949111

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.

 

Advertisements

Dinosaurs, Oil, Rain and Flat. Lots of Flat.

So, after riding 275 miles through a driving rain storm in fucking August it was time to hunker in a cheap hotel in Eau Claire, WI. Yes, I’m in Wisconsin. Let me tell ya how I got here and what I seen. I seen some stuff, man. Lots of stuff.

In case you weren’t aware, the entire country east of the Rockies is experiencing a serious weather shit storm. The cold wet type, unlike the hot style Oregon is getting right now. I’d rather be hot than cold, but don’t really have a say in the matter.

Last I typed it was time to head out of Calgary and get the trip headed in an eastward direction. That happened. Since leaving Calgary the 27th, it’s been a smooth re-immersion into the flow of the trip until the rain part.

Went to Drumheller, AB to check out the Royal Tyrrell Museum, home of one of the best dinosaur fossil collections in the world.

Of all the dinos on display, this guy was the one I was most excited to see.

This was followed by a night at Red Rocks Coulee in SE Alberta, known for it’s stunning sunset/sunrise views. Which, of course, meant that it was well populated by amateur photogs with huge cameras. And me with a cell phone. Use what ya got, I guess. A overly familiar rabbit decided to hang out a bit till he freaked and bolted as rabbits do.

Blasted across the border in the early AM and had a good chat with some riders from Brooks, AB who were headed to an off-road rally then Sturgis for some pre bike week shenanigans. It was striking how quickly the landscape changed after hitting the border. Much more land use and farming. Got used to being very alone in a natural setting and it changed fast. Not for long, however as I took off down another gravel road to the Missouri river to camp signs of civilization dwindled. Yet another stunning location to camp right on the river along the Breaks. All I had hoped for and did my memories of images in National Geographic as a kid justice. Had a bit of rain in the morning which made it very challenging to get back up and out of the canyon. Just like the sign said. Fuck signs. Well, except this one

IMG_20170728_165703916 (1)

Thankfully, I only dropped the bike once coming up. Had to constantly scrape the mud off the front tire as I rolled it downhill to a flat spot to give it another go as the shit was so sticky it would clog up under my fork brace and stop the wheel from rolling. You non-riders have no idea how much stupid fun you miss out on in a car.

Yes, this is going to be a photo heavy post. So much is seen each day it’s impossible to remember, much less describe, the bulk of it. That’s one of the biggest things with riding long days, it’s live stream of consciousness. A 12 hour day covering 300-500 miles gets your full attention. Daydreaming doesn’t happen much based on the need to be attentive to riding so it’s constant input. I’ll remember some cool thing from seemingly a few days ago and then remember it was that morning. The next post will be more descriptive of places and things, this one’ll be a travelogue.

 

Ripped across eastern Montana on secondary roads keeping traffic low and giving a good opportunity to look around at stuff. The old glaciers really did a job on the place back in the day. Hitting North Dakota started with Ft. Union Trading Post and ended 2 days later 50 feet under the ground in a nuke missile Launch Control Center I had to quickly run up out of as the elevator motor had a little electrical fire. The last one was pure luck, I saw reference to it on a free state map and as a child of the Cold War it was sweet to see some of the infrastructure that was a part of that horrifying period. Made this current “terrorist gonna blow up mah town” shit look absolutely fucking stupid.

Also stopped at the tallest structure in North America, a TV tower.

Minnesota started out like eastern ND, flat Ag land. Corn, wheat, repeat. Then it just changed into a really cool dense landscape very similar to northern Alberta. Lots of trees, bogs and open meadows with very few people. My kind of place.

Got to Bemidji and was surprised by what a cool town it is. Well worth checking out. Spent the night in an old school lakeside resort and loved it. Except for the continued lack of sleep. Ended up cutting my route the next day short because I was weaving around on the road barely awake. Wished I could have pushed further because the weather was decent and would have kept today’s miserable rain soaked shiver feast shorter. Folks along the way have been, for the most part, very friendly and nice. Wisconsin, not so much. Not everyone has been a dick, but it’s been noticeably less friendly and surly. Just sayin’. Got to Eau Claire, warmed up with a nice hot shower, laid out the gear for drying and got to typing this.

Off to Hartland, WI tomorrow to visit cousins and other relatives long ago put to pasture by my parents to hang out and connect. Really looking forward to it.

Nighty night.

A Short Breather

After 8 straight days of popping awake, grabbing a quick cup of coffee while packing, crawling into horrifically stinky riding gear and hammering down the road for 4-500 miles, it’s delightful to be sitting in a Starbucks in shorts sipping coffee and typing.

The northern detour part of the east/west trip was mind blowing and exhausting. Having done a lot of travel in remote areas of the US, I’d have to say the run up through BC to Yellowknife and back takes the cake for middle of fucking nowhere. Gloriously so. Through much of the interior western US you still get frequent signs of civilization: power lines, fences, a small homestead now and again. Once we got north of Ft Nelson it was easily 500 miles of nothing but a sketchy gravel road between tiny little settlements you hoped had gas. The north is so verdant and lush it was often difficult to see much beyond the tight edge of the “road”. Now and again a break would open up and treat me to views that blew my mind. Endless miles of stunted black spruce, lodgepole pine, mixed conifer forest and marshy lakes highlighted with an endless blue sky. Signs of past massive wildfires were everywhere, often miles of burned black spruce lined the road and ran back to the edge of the horizon.

Much of the haul is jumbled in my head as there was little time to chill and take it in. Brad had a limited window for the trip and covering 3500 miles (half gravel) in 8 days necessitated hard riding and very long days. I’m looking forward to easing back to the flow previously set in the beginning of the ride. So much to see that I don’t want to miss. Road trips as a kid were the classic look out the window while dad hauled ass to get wherever the hell it was that needed to be gotten to, destination travel. Being a journey type in my adulthood has paid off, allowing me to experience a great deal even on short trips.

Yellowknife was a great surprise as a few of the remote towns we had hit along the way were methy and a little gross. Well, mainly Prince George, BC. Total shithole. Ft Nelson was a delightful surprise much like YK. It’s a very culturally diverse, open minded, and rather sophisticated little city for being a long way from anywhere. Of course we couldn’t stop at hitting the city and took a day to run out the Ingraham Trail which goes 50 miles out into the boonies and stops at a lake. During the warmer months, anyway. In the winter it is one of the many Ice Roads utilized to reach very remote villages and settlements only accessible by plane otherwise. This particular spot was made famous by being the featured road in the first season of the “reality” show Ice Road Truckers.

Spent the rest of the day checking out the tourist sites, coffee shops and a spendy, but worth it, funky restaurant for crazy good fish and chips. Then a chill evening at camp followed by the long hard grind back to Calgary.

Signs and warnings about wildlife were abundant, actual wildlife, not so much. Saw a few deer, a black wolf, 3-4 black bears, a few dozen bison and a cute little red fox trotting down the side of the Ingraham Trail with a muskrat half it’s size in it’s mouth. Didn’t get photos of much of it as it was either seen on the side of the road while blasting by or, well, only dumbass retard tourists stop in the middle of the road to take photos of bears, bison and other things that can kill you. Besides, mental images and memories are better than photos. Wanna see a wood bison? Go to where they live. Vicarious experience is OK in little doses, but if that’s all you get a change in priorities is needed. That being said, a couple shots got taken:

Being poor white trash, I headed out initially accepting I couldn’t get the bike to 100% before the trip without spending too much cash, so some replacing would need to be done along the way. Get my money’s worth out of everything. Tires were done in Calgary and it became apparent halfway through the YK haul that the drive train would be next. Had a year and over 10k miles on it so no surprise, but still stressful to watch your rear sprocket degrade at an ever increasing pace knowing it was still a long way back. Thankfully, a little adjusting of the chain and begging the gods of moto travel for mercy paid off and I rolled in with little nubbies for sprocket teeth.

IMG_20170724_130809_928.jpg

Parts were ordered from the road and should show up today or tomorrow so I can get Thumper fixed up and head out on the next phase of the haul.

Weather tended to be pretty good with occasional rain for the run up, then got very mixed and funky on the way back down. Got drenched and hammered with hail by this asshole storm cell:

IMG_20170722_171555442

Then as we finally rolled into Edmonton the clouds looked ominous, but I figured we could swing by and be OK, but that soon proved in error and we dove under an overpass within seconds of a rain/hail/wind squall slammed into the area causing traffic to go bonkers:

IMG_20170723_190554854_HDR

The image doesn’t do it justice. Cars just stopped in the middle of the freeway and semis dodged them with an artful skill. Amazing that no one got hit. Ended up grabbing a hotel as we had ridden 600 miles already, Calgary was 3 hours away and we were soaked and exhausted. Good call.

Lack of sleep was a constant thing as we were rather north and it never got dark. This is 2330 about 800 miles south of our furthest north location

IMG_20170721_191945_857

6-7 hours a night with regular little wake-ups kept the brain foggy, but wasn’t too hard on the mood. Mosquitoes were a concern going in and while dense everywhere, they weren’t very aggressive. Got plenty bites, but the bug shirt and hat were unnecessary. A good spritz of bug dope kept them at bay and allowed for plenty outdoor time. Only once camp in BC was bad so we hunkered in the tents after dinner and stared at phones and read.

IMG_20170719_103413_700

Time to get my butt in gear, looks like my parts will be in today. I’ll be trying to do more frequent, shorter posts to get the stuff out of my head in a more coherent manner. Honestly, this is done for me. I’m glad the few people who read this seem to enjoy it, but it is done mainly for sanity maintenance.

Hope y’all are getting the most out of your summer.