Tag Archives: Wisconsin

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.

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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.