Tag Archives: national parks

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.

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A Good Start

Why, howdy!

After the initial first day clusterfuck start typical of such an undertaking, things have rolled along smoothly. Not that day 1 was terrible, just a too long day ending at a poor camping spot due to the damn sun going down. Actually saw some sweet country and got to ride some sketch Forest Service roads to get the whole thing kicked off.

The rest of week one saw me roll through some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen. NE Oregon and eastern Washington are places that have passed me by as destinations to explore up to this point. So glad I chose to run through the area on this trip, it did not disappoint. From the Painted Hills, Ponderosa stands in huge meadows to dense mixed conifer west-side style forest, it was all there. Plus plenty standard desert. Well, except in WA. They seem to have whacked most of the native sage steppe and replaced it with a metric shitton of dry-land wheat. As in as far as the eye can see Kansas cornfield style.

I knew there was some, but not that much. Didn’t take away from the reason I went that way in the first place: Palouse Falls and Dry Falls. Remnants of the Missoula Floods, or if you are into emerging hypotheses, an astroidal impact on the North American and European ice sheets which may have kicked off the Younger Dryas ice age, these features are massive and impressive. Trying to imagine kilometer high walls of water full of huge boulders stripped from the very bedrock and washing over the terrain leaving behind such features as an after effect is truly mind blowing.

Much of the first week was on dirt and gravel USFS and county roads with a few stretches of pavement on little remote ‘highways’ and 25 miles on I-84 to connect it all up. Rolled through a postage stamp sized community called Troy on the OR/WA border deep in the Grande Ronde river canyon then lots of twisty dirt to a sweet camp spot ruined by a good ol’ boy hauling water in a semi all night long in the sticks running his Jake brake. Fucker.

Hit Winthrop, WA where I worked my first season back in fire in 2011 after my massage business collapse with the economy and finding decent work hard to come by. Crowded as hell, but still beautiful and found an old camping site with a creek and good hike far from the masses.

On to Republic WA to spend a day with friends from the USFS in Bend and got in another sweet day swimming to help keep the oppressive heat and road stench from getting bad. So far on this trek I’ve gone swimming more times than in the previous 2 years and it’s all been a hoot. Good to see dear old friends and their kids, share some stories and just hang out.

Returned to my favourite (see what I did there?) country on the planet to visit friends Mike and Dale (and bonus friend Katie who was also visiting) in Revelstoke, one of the most beautiful spots for a town you can imagine. Showed up a day earlier than planned to be able to hit up Skydive Salmon Arm to celebrate the 150th Canada Day by hucking out of a Cessna 182 at 10k feet with buddy Rob strapped to my back. Skydiving is one of those “gonna do” things I’ve always imagined I’d get to. The time came and it was all I could hope for. Going to have to go a few more times to see if it’ll be the next activity to pursue since ice climbing isn’t really a thing in Oregon.

Mike has been at it for a while so he was jumping for fun, the girls had each done a tandem so opted for the First Jump course which has you control your own chute and land yourself. Wanting to do it, but get in freefall, the tandem seemed a good starting place and was soooooo worth it. Canada Day was the best day I’ve had in a long time combining the jump, good food, swimming, a sweet small town fireworks display, and awesome friends to do it all with.

 

Finished up my time in Revie playing cribbage, spending a day on the Columbia swimming and kicking it, watching Letterkenny (a Canadian show that is one of the funniest things you’ll ever see) and generally enjoying time spent in the company of friends. You may notice a theme with my visits. After a year and a half in Silicon Valley practically friendless, it was time to be among my people and I’m getting my money’s worth on this trek.

 

Currently I’m in Calgary tapping this out at friends B-Rad and Beckie’s place. Oh, and Neve, Jane and Emma the Wonder Schnauzer.  The run over Roger’s Pass was stunning, but hard to pay attention to as the road was packed with less than skilled drivers. Parks Canada made all federal parks free for the 150th celebration this year so the woods are packed with tourons. Did get to see a smoking semi trailer full of meat that had caught fire and some other nifty stuff, however.

 

This trip has been a blast and is as I had hoped, plenty new beautiful sights seen and time with well loved friends. Kicking it here to visit folks and get in some local playing before heading out to Yellowknife, NWT the 16th. Plan to post again before, then after, that run. Then east……….

For The Moto Nerds

So, the KLR has taken everything I’ve thrown at it without complaint. Well, excepting running really low on gas yesterday and clogging up my fuel intake. Acted like it was out of gas with a 3/4 tank after filling up so I fussed with the switch and got it to take fuel down the reserve tube, but I’ll have to pull the thing and clean it tomorrow. That was the only hitch, nothing mechanical, just thumping along.

The Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag has been good for the most part, but is a little awkward for such a trek. Not a bad item, just difficult to access some of my kit the way it needs to be packed. It’s a small complaint for a great piece of gear as I’ve got my system down well enough. The Fandango Pro Tank Bag is awesome, plenty room and not in the way. The down bag, sleeping pad and other goodies I’m testing out for Next Adventure are doing well and a full review of much of my gear will be forthcoming. Figure it’ll help new folks make better gear choices if they can see how they work in real world moto conditions.

My Kenda 761 tires have been doing well considering they are mostly for road and I’ve beaten the shit out of them off road over the last few months. Nearly dead, there was a small leak in the rear I pump up each day for pavement, was fine for dirt. New tires were ordered ahead of time and sent to B-Rad’s so this weekend I’ll be slinging a new set of Shinko 700s on and doing the oil. Used them before and like ’em, we’ll see how they do on the forestry trunk roads heading north. Should be fine.

So far, mine is the only Gen 1 KLR I’ve seen traveling, plenty around for local use. A few Gen 2, plenty BMWs/Tigers/V-Stroms and a smattering of Africa Twins and KTMs. HDs, lots of HDs, holy Christ.

Feel free to ask questions about route, gear, conditions. If I’m going to be in your neck of the woods and you wanna grab a cup of joe and bullshit, I’m game as well. It’s all about the folks you meet on a trek like this.

A New Adventure on the Horizon

Howdy!

Well, that last trip really got the travel bug fired up and thankfully I don’t have much in the way of obligations holding me back. Thus, on or around the 24th of June I’ll be heading out on a 10k+ 6-8 week dual sport moto adventure across Canada and the US.

This isn’t going to be a pavement haul across the continent and back, it’s a full on dirt road/tiny 2 track back road adventure that includes, so far, Exploration of the eastern Washington scablands, Canada Day spent in Revelstoke with friends, a run up to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories with friend B-Rad from last summer’s Oregon Big Desert Blast, bopping back and forth across the border in the Great Lakes region to see folks and hit sweet little rides, surviving the eastern seaboard, a run down the Blueridge Parkway, The Missouri River Breaks, Dakota badlands, Colorado for friends  and some high elevation riding, back to Arizona to buy Tom Kenopka breakfast, LA for friends and to finally check of the home of many of my favorite comedians, The Comedy Store finished up with a run up coast on the 1/101 (hopefully the Big Sur slide will be cleared by then) back to PDX, then home to Bend. Going to try and hit parts of the TAT while I’m at it. Then there is the eclipse to plan a remote viewing spot for.

You, dear reader, are a crucial part of this adventure! I’d love to hear about rides, meetups, cool little trails/roads that I can try and join in while on the road. Please share some of your experience and ride along if you wish.

I’d be very grateful if you could share this with rider and non-rider friends alike to get a little following going. Places to camp, including backyards, would be great to hear about as well.

There are a few companies that have provided a little support and they include:

Giant Loop Moto of Bend, OR. Harold and Ingrid helped set me up with some sweet soft luggage at a discount and I will be reviewing it as part of the trip.

Next Adventure in Portland, OR was the first job I got upon moving there the first time way back in 1999. It has since grown into the largest independent outdoor gear store in Oregon, if not the Pacific Northwest. Deek and Brian offer a unique workplace that has become refuge to many disheartened former REI employees, high level adventurers and gear junkies alike. They offered camping gear and a little cash for motorcycle specific needs. I’ll be posting on their blog, reviewing gear and doing and in-store presentation after I return.

Xero Shoes of Broomfield, CO. I used to make my own huaraches out of pig leather that were OK, then I found Xeros and am on my second pair after nearly wearing a hole through the soles of my first. Great small company with excellent products for minimalist footwear fans or those wanting compact, light durable camping footwear. They offered their affiliate program by which if you go to their site by my link and buy something, I get 10% of that purchase.

Being transparent is very important to me, hence the above info. If you are a regular reader you know I’ll be doing honest gear reviews and have no problem calling dodgy gear out.

I’ll be hauling a few stickers and such to events to give out from each company and will happily let folks check out the gear I’m using to get a first hand look.

So there you have it, a summer full of adventure hopefully augmented by you folks.

The countdown begins, 18 days till launch!

Cupertino to Bend via Bisbee

The last day in Silicon Valley slowly winds it’s way too conclusion. Got last minute shopping and pack fitting done so while I’ve got a little time before heading out to comedy show #2 in 2 nights figured I’d tap this out.

Bill Burr was so goddamn funny last night my abs were cramping. He’s building a new set and I can’t imagine how much better it needs to get to record.

Tonight is Doug Stanhope and his sorted menagerie of misfits. Having followed him for so long, listening to all his sets, podcasts, seeing him live a few times it’s almost like an old friend is coming to town. Except we’re total strangers.

Then it’s wake up, get some coffee, load up the bike and hit the road.

I’ll be posting photos and vids to Instagram each day and posting a few of these as time and data permit. The bloom in the desert is going nuts right now so there should be some really pretty sights to be had.

Feel free to follow me and share this with other adventures or those stuck in a rut needing to live vicariously through some random idiot riding a KLR all over hell’s half acre.

Wrapping it up in Silicon Valley

imoutSoon, very soon.

March 10th is my release date. After a year and a half in Techville it’ll be time to huck most all the shit back into Mighty Whitey and make a final trek north to Bend. For all the shit talking I could do, and have done, concerning this place and my time on it, I have to say it’s been a hell of a learning experience and some good times have been had. Many cool places I’d have never had the interest in or taken the time to check out have been explored and enjoyed.

Desert moto trips, coastal moto trips, trail running in the Sierras, backpacking in the oak savanna, fucking about in SF, and here soon seeing 2 of my favorite comedians back to back nights in San Jose at the Improv. Bill Burr the 22nd of March followed by Doug Stanhope the next night. So damn excited I may pee myself.

These 2 fun filled nights, however, are only a precursor to the big thrills on the horizon. I’m going to drive Mighty Whitey north, fly back down to catch the shows then jump on the KLR and take off on a 3-4 week road trip all around the desert SW. Fuck YES!!!

Having taken a number of 2-3 week road trips in one of many trusty Subarus over the years, this will be my first this long on Thumper. A multi week outdoor adventure trip involving National Parks, deserts, bouldering, hiking back-road moto adventuring and general fucking about across thousands of miles of mostly desert. SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!

Being a solid minimalist, I’ll be avoiding the “Oakies heading West out of the Dustbowl” look many ADV riders seem to be so fond of. Lashing mountains of heavy bulky shit to a mildly powered bike that will be expected to handle in some tough conditions seems to be a recipe for disaster I choose to avoid. Luckily, most of my gear is higher quality lightweight backpacking kit so I should be able to pack all I need, have a little room and not have to wallow down the road like a pregnant water buffalo.

Many applications have been slung and none have stuck, so what the fuck, why not hit the road for a bit? I’ve seen images of so many cool places it’ll be good to go in person and lay my eyes upon them. Life is too short to just suck up digital content.

Plan to hit a variety of places all throughout SoCal, AZ, Utah, Colorado, NV then back to Bend. This whole thing actually came about figuring how to get my bike back north while the roads might still suck. Thought about running up the coast to Astoria, but the weather is typically shit in the spring on the coast and I’m fucking done with Cali coast trips. Then it was Death Valley for a few days which morphed into a big adventure. Carrizo Plain Natl Momument, Death Valley, J-Tree, Salton Sea then to see a high school friend in southern AZ enroute to Bisbee just in time for the Mishka Shubaly and Christene Lavene gig. Might even be able to buy a beer for Doug or one of his delightful band of misfits. May dip into Mexico for a look-see, not sure yet. Then north through Utah to check out old stomping grounds to Montrose, CO to visit friends. After that it’ll be road trip improv till I roll into me town of Bend.

Anyone along the route or who will be out and about that time of year and wants to hook up and travel a bit, shoot the shit or offer a patch of grass to sleep on I’ll be checking FB on occasion. Lots of Instagram will be happening and blog posts from time to time.

The big adventure begins roughly March, 25. Still have a few things to check out here before rolling out of Cali for good.