Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Houston Marathon Lottery

Okay, so today was opening day for registration for the Houston Chevron Marathon LOTTERY! Who in a million years would ever guess that Houston's marathon would go to a lottery system to enter?! But they have. Last year's marathon and half-marathon filled up within 36 hours of opening registration. I was on the road last year at the BMW MOA Rally in Johnson City at 12:01 AM when registration opened. That would be 1:01 AM EDT in eastern TN, just in case you missed that fact. So there I sat, in my hotel room in the middle of the night, fingers poised over the keyboard, mouse in hand, trying to get my registration to go through an overloaded registration website.

In 2008 it filled nearly as quickly. Houston Marathon has sold its soul in order to attract the big names in marathon running: The Olympic medalists and Olympic hopefuls. To do this they have instituted a large cash prize purse which, while attracting the elite, detracts from the amenities and fun for the average weekend warrior like me. To add to the desirability of this event for the elite, it has been the U.S. National Championship Half Marathon event for the last 3 or 4 years.

Today at 6:00 AM registration for the LOTTERY was opened for business. With no pressure to log in, since the drawing will be done August 17, 2010 and time of registration will hold no bearing on chances of winning a spot, I didn't sign up until 5:00 PM this afternoon. In the meantime I've been browsing the Active.com website for other marathons in the December-February time-frame as possible alternatives. As I've mentioned in previous blog posts, "the thrill is gone" as far as the Houston event goes. It's all business, all the time. No joy. No fun. No race-day silliness. The runners are treated like a number and pushed through the system like cattle at the slaughter house. I didn't enjoy it this past January and the hassle of getting there is almost not worth it. I've decided to book a room at a downtown hotel the eve before the event, to relieve the pressure of getting there race day morning. Maybe that will help some. We'll see...that is, IF I make it into the event.

I've identified a few possible events and might even do one or more of them even if I do win the lottery for the Houston event. Hmmm, let's see....there's St. Petersburg for the Women's Half Marathon the weekend before Thanksgiving: a nice loop course, pretty cool finisher's medal and a great spot to spend a few days before and after the event. Or there's Charlotte, NC with a loop course through historic downtown, hotels and convention center right there at the start/finish area. And another possibility is in AZ. Disney has a pretty awesome Half Marathon, too. Just haven't figured out the logistics for it, yet.

I'll just take a wait-and-see attitude, see what happens August 17. In the meantime I'm in training for the Maui Half Marathon in mid-September. That one's a winner all 'round: Get to see my son and his family including my grandson and new granddaughter, a nice little jaunt from Oahu to Maui for a 3 day weekend to do the race, then back to Oahu for the rest of my visit.

Monday, July 26, 2010

More Than Just Pretty Scenery...

In all of my posts about my ride up to, and home from, Redmond OR and the BMW MOA rally I neglected to mention the wide variety of aromas encountered along the way. That's the truly unique thing about riding a motorcycle...a part of the journey lost in a car, windows up, A/C on. And, I guess, for good or for bad, it's what really adds to the experience of motorcycling.

Riding through north Texas there were, of course, the usual stockyards and the usual "olfactory alert" that one is getting close to one or, at least, down wind of one. They are ubiquitous along 287 in the panhandle of TX and, as expected, were in full "ripe" aromatic form in mid-July as I rode past. However, I did ride past a stockyard in New Mexico that smelled of sweet hay, not of rotted manure, and I saw that all of the cows, heads locked between bars, were feeding on huge mounds of fresh green hay.

In western Idaho, riding across I-84 toward Ontario OR, I couldn't help but notice the incredibly fresh and sweet aroma in the air, one that was so strong that even the cattle truck I passed couldn't overwhelm it. It was delightfully heady. At the hotel, as I was leaving to go to dinner, my friend Mike and his riding partner Rick arrived to check in and they also noticed the smell and asked the desk clerk about it. "Mint or spearmint," she replied. Yes!! That was it! It's apparently farmed in the area.

Earlier that same day, riding up UT 30 along Bear Lake, the smell of a fresh water lake hit me and was hard to ignore. It's the smell of wet vegetation and damp earth...a pleasant odor that reminds me of summer camp and mountains.

When I entered Colorado and rode up through miles and miles of fields toward WA state, I was treated to the heady aroma of alfalfa in full bloom. Such a sweet smell! And the acres and acres of fields were beautiful in the morning sun, the dark lavender flowers creating a purple carpet as far as the eye could see.

On our way up to Crater Lake, the Sugar Pine announced its presence by its very distinctive pine scent, sort of a sweet-and-spicy aroma, like no other pine. They stood sentinel along the sides of the road, straight and tall, their distinctive red bark glowing against the shaded wood stands. It brought back memories of a vacation my then-12 year old son and I took to CA to visit Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. On that trip we also visited a steam logging railroad museum on Yosemite Mountain. The narrow gauge steam train took us through dense stands of Sugar Pine and the lovely fragrance was nearly overwhelming. http://www.ymsprr.com/


As I was riding south on UT 21 coming out of Baker NV, I began to smell a familiar odor, but couldn't identify it. It's a sort of "piney" or "spruce-like" aroma and as I rode along the low desert landscape I just couldn't imagine what it was and where it was coming from, since there was not a soul around, not a single evergreen tree standing, and no farming going on. But further along, I came up on a small bulldozer clearing brush away from the road shoulder on this desert-like stretch of UT. He was clearing a wide swath of sage brush. That was it! It smelled wonderful and stayed with me for a long ways down the road.

Coming out of Page, AZ the views to the south are nearly limitless. This gave me a view of potent thunderstorms far off in the distance. But I knew I was getting closer when I could smell it. That distinctive smell of freshly wetted pavement, of ozone, of wet fields. The closer the storms, the stronger the smell, until I was riding into it. Funny how, once in the rain, the distinctive aroma disappears.

Some man-made aromas can be added to the sensory list, as well. Who can ignore the distinctive odor of charbroiled beef when happening upon a Burger King. Or of fresh baked goods early in the morning, riding past a bakery.

Just a sampling of the olfactory experience of motorcycling.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Two More Days and Home

Yesterday was one of beauty and nature's power. The next two days will be spent (mostly) covering the last remaining 1100 miles to home.

In the morning, clean riding pants and jacket and dirty bike headed out of the hotel parking lot toward I-40 and, a few exits later, Petrified Forest National Park. It was a stamp-and-run this time. Several years ago I rode the entire park, including all of the turnouts and view points, visited the museum, the Painted Desert Inn. But today I really was eager to get as close to home as I could. I hoped to make it at least to Lubbock for the night.


Once in New Mexico, my next stop was the Visitor Center in Grants, NM, a joint BLM/National Parks agencies facility where I got a couple of more stamps, and then some gas and a quick snack in town before continuing on. I-40 has nothing but a 75 mph speed limit going for it and I really, really wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. Only the pass through the east side of Albuquerque could provide a bit of diversion from the boredom that is this interstate.

In Santa Rosa, I exited I-40 onto U.S. 84, which took me through plenty of little railroad towns in NM and TX and brought me closer to Lubbock. It was flat and dusty and hot and I had only my XM radio to keep my mind off of the misery that I was experiencing just trying to get home.

I had no reservations and no plans for tonight's lodging but as I neared Lubbock I knew that I could go no further today so started browsing the GPS for possible hotels. Hampton Inn seemed likely so I followed the GPS to that exit, pulled up to the hotel, only to find out that it, the other Hampton Inn in town, and all of the hotels in that vicinity were fully booked. The desk clerk was very nice and helpful by calling other nearby hotels for me, but could not come up with anything. I knew there was a cluster of hotels on I-27 near the south loop so I got back on the bike and let the GPS lead me in that direction. The first hotel I came to in that row of properties was a Quality Inn. Small, but clean and neat on the outside, I went inside and easily booked a room and at a price probably 1/2 what the Hampton Inn would have cost.

The adorable gal behind the counter was so sweet and helpful. And the room was large, very clean, and very well appointed. PLUS, there was a little "happy hour" going on in the breakfast room: Chips, salsa, beer, and soft drinks. It would close up in 1/2 hour so I hurried to my room, changed into shorts, splashed some water on my face, and headed back down to load up a plate of salsa, chips and nice icy cold Diet Coke and brought it back to my room to share with my Subway sandwich that I'd picked up earlier on the road. Exactly what I needed!! Sometimes things work out for the best!

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Thursday morning and I have 550 miles remaining before I can pull into my own driveway, sleep in my own bed. Quite an incentive to stay in the saddle!!

I was pulling into my garage at 4:45 PM! It was a very long trip! But very satisfying! And I saw many new-to-me national parks, had a really terrific time - perhaps the best ever - at the BMW rally, saw some friends, made new ones. This trip is right up there with the best for me!

13 Days
5,200 miles
12 states
24 national park stamps

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Utah Beauty and Arizona Catastrophy: R1200R Plays in the Mud

It was a good stay in Cedar City, all in all, although the Quality Inn was a little ragged around the edges. But the price was right (free room), so I can't complain too much.

It would be a very long day of national parks and, although the mileage wouldn't be that great (about a 400 mile day), it would be arduous with all of my planned park stamps. I had "loaded" them into the front half of the route so that the latter part of the day could be freeway blasting to the hotel for the night in Holbrook AZ.

I was up and on the road fairly early and onto beautiful UT 14 in just minutes after leaving the hotel. I've heard about this road but never ridden it before. What a road! It passes through a narrow river gorge, getting quite tight at one point, with high "walls" on either side right up against the road bed...no shoulders, no forgiveness. As I gained altitude, the temperature dropped, getting downright chilly in the shaded sections of roadway. In 18 or so miles I was at the turn-off for Cedar Breaks National Monument and a few miles after that, I was in the parking lot of the visitor center, ready to see what promised to be a spectacular view off the edge of the high plateau. I was not disappointed!!


Wow! can only describe the view and the colors in the early morning sun. The deep rich oranges, reds, and yellows were offset by the green of the tall cedars that ringed the top edges of the deep gorge-like basin. It was hard not to get a good photograph!

I followed the highway through the park to the turn-off to UT 143 toward Panguitch. This was another kind of "great road," different from UT 14 in nearly every way. Miles and miles of high speed sweepers took me down off the backside of the mountain and around the perimeter of a beautiful lake, as the road took me toward town.

Once onto 89, I had to make a decision whether to turn off onto UT 12 toward Bryce Canyon or to stay on 89 and continue south to Kanab. It was going to be an ambitious day....I might just need to skip Bryce Canyon - save it for another trip - and continue southward. Which is exactly what I did.

After passing the entrance to Zion, I was on familiar ground, having ridden this portion of 89 in the opposite direction on my way to the western entrance to Zion several years ago. It didn't make it any less interesting, though. I love the odd and unusual wind-carved bluffs and buttes through this area. The swirls and horizontal concaves in the red rock appear almost man-made, but are too beautiful to be anything but nature-made.

Kanab was my gas and lunch stop and right next door was the BLM visitor center, which also holds the National Park stamp for Grand Staircase-Escalante. Perfect! I rode along the edge of Escalante all the way from Kanab to Page AZ. Beautiful deep red striated buttes, its red "points" jutting out into the flat terrain beneath them.

Next stop was the Carl Hayden Visitor Center for Glen Canyon NRA, just west of Page AZ. The dam and visitor center sit on the southern end of Lake Powell, where the Colorado River exits the lake and continues south toward Grand Canyon. I love the views from the visitor center, and the truly amazing bridge that spans the gap a frightening height above the river far below.


I stopped for gas in Page AZ and then continued straight south on 89, planning to turn off toward Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater National Park on the loop road that was closed for construction the last time I was here. These were my last two planned stops for the day before getting to Holbrook for the night. If the timing was right, I thought I might just make it to Walnut Canyon visitor center, as well, but I would know better once finished at Sunset Crater.

The road south out of Page passes through a a nice gorge as it drops south toward the desert floor and as I crested one of the hills before dropping down into the gorge, I could see black skies ahead of me...far ahead, near Tuba AZ and regions south of there.

I love the views looking south out of that gorge. The drop off is dramatic and the reds and oranges of the desert are soft, like pastels or chalk colors. I began to run into the rain as I neared Cameron, but it felt good, cooling the air from the day's heat. But as I continued south the winds started to really pick up, blowing from the west and kicking me around quite a bit on the roadway. Each time the road passed through a cut-through in the terrain I had a brief respite but had to brace myself for the inevitable blast once clear of the wind block.

As I neared my turn toward Wupatki, the rains were at their heaviest and looked to stretch east over the area of the national parks, so I decided to abandon that part of the route and continue south on 89. At the entrance to the south end of this loop road, near Sunset Crater, I spotted a fire truck and some other vehicles parked on the side of the road on the northbound side, but thought nothing of it. At this point the road begins a gentle but definite drop as it heads toward Flagstaff. Suddenly, as I crested a small rise, I could see some cars pulled over on the shoulder and folks out of their cars looking...at what?? As I got closer I could see the attraction. A small neighborhood was being inundated with mud and water and already I could see that the mud and water had breached some of the homes.

Just a short distance later - no more than a mile down the road - a large river of muddy water was washing across the roadway. It was only then that I noticed the ditches on either side of the road were out of their banks, filled with rapidly running mud and water pouring down the hillside, in the gullies, in the fields, and - here - spilling over onto the road. Traffic was relatively light, but we all slowed down, the muddy river giving all of us "pause" to consider the consequences of driving through it. I slowed way down, let the cars in front of me get well ahead, and watched as they drove through it, and as cars coming the other way navigated through. I thought I could make it, provided I could keep a steady speed and we did not all come to a sudden slow-down or stop.

So...with a good-sized gap between me and the cars ahead, I proceeded to cross the "wash." It wasn't too bad at first. I could see the muddy wake of my front tire splashing all the way up to my bike's dash and the muddy water washing over my gas tank. At about the halfway point I realized that my front end was pointed straight ahead but my rear end was off-center to the right, in the direction of the flow of mud and water. I knew that if I didn't keep a steady throttle, if I let off just a tiny bit, it would be all over for me. After what seemed like an eternity, I reached dry pavement again and breathed a sigh of relief at having succeeded doing something that in hindsight was very risky.

Another mile down the road and traffic was at a complete stop. The road curved a bit to the right and I could see up to the head of the line, about 1/2 mile away. Numerous fire trucks, Forest Service trucks, and other utility vehicles were zipping up and down the road and, since only a half dozen or so cars pulled up behind me, I could only surmise that they'd closed the road behind me, as well. I stopped the bike, put the sidestand down, and got off, removing my helmet and jacket and preparing for what might be a long wait. We all correctly guessed that it was closed because of more flash flooding of the roadway. I was glad that I'd decided to forego the park loop for Wupatki and Sunset Crater. I could only guess what the flooding might have been like up there.

Off the bike, I was able to assess the state of my motorcycle, and picked twigs, sticks, pine needles and other debris out of the radiator, suspension, wiring, and wheels. My riding pants were muddied all the way up to my crotch and my riding jacket was muddied up to my waist. The bike itself was a mess!! This is the second time in as many months that my little R1200R has done some most un-ladylike riding in the mud!

We waited a little more than an hour as backhoes and shovels worked to clear the mud off the road ahead of us. In the meantime I was enormously entertained by the three horses in the pasture right along side the road who were cavorting, playing, and whinnying around in the water. Their pasture was partially flooded and they appeared to be having a blast playing in the mess.


There had apparently been a large forest fire in this area earlier this year, which destroyed the vegetation and stripped the land of its ability to absorb rain fall and prevent flooding. This flash flood was predicted - well not this particular one - but flooding was predicted if there were heavy rains and today brought the area 2" of rain in a relatively short period of time. News reports say that a 12 year old girl drowned by getting too close to the drainage ditch and I'm certain that the fire- and rescue truck activity I saw racing up the road, followed by the ambulance were directly related to that tragedy. http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/07/20/20100720shultz-fire-area-sflash-flood-abrk.html

Then we were underway again, and I knew that my park stamping was over for the day. I had to ride over three more muddy areas that were only an hour before inundated with muddy water racing downhill and across the roads, but now cleared by the backhoes. At the bottom of one of the worst flooded areas, a gas station sat like an island, all of its access driveways completely torn away by the flood waters. There were two cars stranded on this little gas station island.


Walnut Crater was closed, since it was well past 6:00 PM.  It was looking like more rain east on I-40, so I just pressed on toward Holbrook. But I had a good "haul" today, getting national park stamps at Cedar Breaks, Escalante, and Glen Canyon.


It was a nice Holiday Inn Express in Holbrook and I was apologetic to the desk clerk for my appearance. I really did look pretty rough, with the mud-caked boots and riding pants, helmet hair covered with a ball cap. But once in the room, I stripped down, jumped in the shower, and brought my riding pants and jacket in with me. Rivers of dirt and mud streamed toward the tub drain, while I washed my hair and used my feet to knead the dirt and grime out of the riding gear. All of us emerged clean, or mostly so, and I hung the pants and jacket to dry, got dressed in clean shorts and shirt, and headed out on foot for dinner. Kentucky Fried Chicken sounded just about right!

Tomorrow: The "barn" is getting closer as I ride through eastern AZ, New Mexico and then into TX.

Monday, July 19, 2010

BMW R1200R and I Take On the Loneliest Highway...

I started today's leg of the journey with excitement and anticipation. It's the "unknown" of a ride route that creates the excitement - but also a little anxiety - for me and today would be spent, in good part, riding on what's billed as "the loneliest highway in America" - US 50.  And I honestly didn't know what to expect.

What I do know about that 250 mile stretch of road is that towns are small, few, and far between which means that gas stations are also scant along this stretch of road. Google Earth street view gave me some reassurances as to what to expect as far as the gas situation goes. I identified a Chevron station in the town of Eureka that looked good, and that would get me across the state of Nevada from Fallon to my next gas stop and lunch break in Ely.

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I awoke at my usual "before the crack of dawn" time, had my usual in-room breakfast of banana, breakfast bar and cup of decaf coffee, and then got dressed, gathered my things together and headed out the door. It was a great hotel here in Fallon, and I made a mental note to remember it should I pass through here again. I had topped off my gas tank the evening before, so the only thing to do now was get onto U.S. 50 and head east toward Utah.

The morning was filled with glorious sunshine! As I rode out of town, looking along the south side of the highway I noticed some low sand banks below the road bed and off the shoulder by a few dozen yards. They went on for several miles and have provided "taggers" with an ecologically friendly way of making a statement. All along this stretch were messages spelled out with stones, not spray paint: J♥Ethan, for example, and "Class of 2010" were abundant and plentiful, one touching another for miles and miles heading eastward out of town. Very cool!

I was psyched to be on this road. It has been described by some as quite enjoyable, with changing terrain to keep it interesting. And they were absolutely correct! From the western side, near Fallon, it was more desert-like but as I got further east, the pattern of topography soon became apparent. There are multiple mountain ridges running longitudinally and in parallel to each other all across the state of NV at this latitude. Five or six miles of flat and straight valley road would become twisty and curvy as it climbed a mountain pass, then drop down into the next flat valley. Each climb took me up 1,000 to 2,000 feet from the valley floors. And the further east I got, the more wooded the mountains became and the less desert-like were the valleys. It really was very pretty...and just varied enough to keep it interesting.

A particularly steep climb passes through the town of Austin, NV. It was surprising that this little town has survived, having been built on such a steep slant, not a single flat surface existed in this town. Even the tiny little gas station was built on the hill and the slab in front of the pump had a 4 or 5% grade to it. Fortunately I could wait until reaching Eureka before filling up as I wasn't sure I could negotiate the gravel and the "grade" in front of the pump.

I dipped into the town of Eureka with 180 miles ridden on my tank of gas. The town is very pretty, with the buildings all carefully restored and looking just as they might have more than 120 years ago. The gas station was exactly as I expected it, with no surprises. As I prepared to leave after filling up, I noticed the building in front of me, and the year "1880" spelled out near the roof in the brickwork. It was a beautiful two-story red brick building and was the town's original opera house.

Refueled and refreshed, I continued eastward toward Ely, where I had lunch and topped off my gas tank again.

U.S. 50 is lonely only to those who seek crowds and congestion and civilization as we know it today. But to me, it was beautiful in its miles and miles of solitude, with only a couple of small towns along the way, very few cars, and wide open views of mountains in all directions.

"I survived Highway 50 - The Loneliest Highway in America."
You can read about the sights along the way here:
http://travelnevada.com/view-guides/nevada-highway-50-survival-guide.aspx

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A nice McDonald's salad resting comfortably in my tummy, I left Ely on U.S. 50 to go towards Baker and Great Basin National Park. Great Basin describes the geographic area made up of most of Nevada, a bit of western Utah, southern Oregon, and southern California. The national park preserves a small region just west of Baker. A relatively new visitor center sits right on NV487 just north of the tiny, nearly ghost town-like Baker NV. I paused a moment to take a photo of my BMW with the pretty mountainous backdrop, then went inside to get my passport book stamped, to watch the short film, and to browse the book store a bit. When I came out, a BMW pulling a small trailer, with Alabama plates and draped in two filthy, well-worn red Aerostich jackets was parked right next to me.


I had only to continue on NV487 into UT where the route became UT21, which took me to I-15 and Cedar City for the night. It was a smooth-sailing, uneventful riding day, with plenty of wide open spaces, interesting change-ups to the roadway, and some surprisingly spectacular views of near and distance mountain ranges along the way.

Tomorrow: Some UT national parks, into AZ for more parks, and Holbrook for the night.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Last Rally Day and First Day Heading Home

It was Saturday, the final rally day, and I was up at 5:00 AM, on the road at 5:30 AM to get to the rally grounds in time to set up for the 8K race. I was greeted by another absolutely perfect day in Redmond! Beautiful morning temps, clear skies, low humidity!

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There were 36 entrants in the 8K race, and while Andrea signed them in, I ran around trying to locate the 5 dozen donuts that were supposed to be delivered to us for the runners. No joy!! But we did commandeer two large Igloo water coolers for the runners' return. With so few entrants, everyone was a winner or runner-up in their age group. Andrea had made some nice little framed certificates for the runners...a nice touch! Maybe next year I'll be an entrant! And...a winner, since no women were entered in my age group!

I had to leave before all the awards were handed out, as my shift began at 9:00 AM in First Aid. We had another busy morning and time flew by. Before I knew it, it was 12:00 noon. Mike met up with me in First Aid and we headed over to the beer tent, where I ate a philly cheese steak sub and we visited with some of the other ralliers before heading for the vendor buildings so that Mike could do a little browsing and shopping. We both bought a really cool multi-tool from Adventure Designs, and Mike also bought another item for his GS.

We returned to the beer tent to enjoy a couple of shaved ice coolers and sat with a couple from S. America - ex-pats - who have returned to the U.S. after being out of the country for many years. They had some interesting stories to tell. I had a bandanna to give to Ara Gureghian for Spirit and had been keeping my eye for him all day. Earlier in the week we met up with each other and Ara shared with me that he would be getting his motorcycle rig in for some needed repair work. So I assumed that's why he wasn't at his campsite all day. But, as Mike and I walked toward the vendors, we met up again and I was able to give him the bandanna and say my goodbyes and Godspeed for their continued safe journeys.

The previous day, when I was returning from my bike after having stowed my few purchases, I chanced upon Bronce Smith. We gave each other a big hug and found some shade where we could get caught up with each other. Such a nice surprise! We exchanged cell phone numbers and made tentative plans to meet up in the beer tent that night after our club photo was taken. Unfortunately we did not meet up for a beer.

But now, as Mike and I headed toward the arena for closing ceremonies, I gave Bronce a call and left a message for him to meet up with us. Soon my phone lit up my pocket and there, across the arena floor on the other side, was a man waving his arms at me!! We reunited and sat together through the closing ceremonies, hoping one or the other of us would win one of the European tours so that we could take the other with us on a really great vacation, and claiming to have the winning ticket for the F800GS...but neither of us won. :-(

A very good rally, the opportunity to meet up with friends and to make new ones, but now it's time to head back to the hotel, pack my things and get ready for the long ride toward home.

My dinner Saturday night was the remainder of my Chicken Balsamic, which heated up quite nicely in a ziploc bag in the microwave in my room. Perfect!

Everything packed, all I need to do in the morning is load the bike and I can get an early start to the day. Now I can reflect on the whole rally experience. It has been said that when they were casting for the movie Wizard of Oz and brought all of the dwarfs and midgets together for the first time in Hollywood, it was mayhem! Never before had these people seen so many others just like them. Many had never even seen another dwarf or midget...ever. This was before television and other readily accessible forms of mass media. It feels a bit like that for me, seeing all of these BMW motorcycles together in one place. It's rare enough to encounter one or two others on the road in my travels on an ordinary travel day, but to start seeing them in large numbers the closer I got to Redmond and then to see thousands of them all together in one place was...well, it was just plain cool!!

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First stop of the day as I headed home toward Texas was the WWII Valor In The Pacific National Monument, in Tulelake. It preserves the buildings and grounds of a internment camp for Japanese-Americans during WWII. The museum is small, on the grounds of Tulelake fairgrounds and they offer tours by appointment of the nearby internment camp. They do not have a stamp, yet, but are keeping a log for those of us who would like one when it is available. the oldest entry in the log was July 2009 but the volunteer seemed reasonably certain they'd have it by the end of this year's season. In the meantime I took a photo and picked up a brochure as proof of my visit.


I continued on through town toward East-West Road which took me to Hill Road toward Lava Beds National Park. The ranger at the fee station was adorable! She gave me the full rundown of what to see and do while in the park and didn't seem the least bit concerned that a line was forming behind me. She wished me a safe ride and waved as I rode away. The ride through the park was all I needed to see, as it went on for many miles through lava beds and fields as far as the eye could see. At the visitor center I stamped my passport book, chatted with the park ranger about the condition of the exit road to the south ("Don't go there, back-track to the petroglyph road which will take you to 139 south of Tulelake") and then with an RV'er in the parking lot who concurred about the road having come into the park that way ("I drove it, but I didn't like it").

So I backtracked out the north entrance but turned right, onto rim road, which took me east and out of the park. I am amazed at how quickly the terrain changes out here! From lava beds to cedar-dotted mountain sides, to flat desert-like terrain in a matter of a few miles!

A quick gas-up in Alturas and I continued toward Fallon NV and my night's stop. Along the way I passed some really interesting hills off to my left. At first glance they appeared to be unremarkable, covered in brown grass, but then I noticed an interesting striation texture on their surfaces and so studied them more closely. They had a tiger-stripe like texture, looking like striped velvet, and I soon realized the darker striations were lava, and the lighter striations were brown grass growing up between the lava ridges. It made for a very unusual and attractive effect.

In Reno, I stopped for gas one last time at a little Chevron station on the east side of town, past all the commercially intense exits. It was one of those gas stations with two working mechanic bays and as I pulled up to the pump, I noticed two employees sitting in the shade of one of the bays. I struggled a bit with those miserable "foreskins" on the nozzle that are the law in CA and prevalent in other stations near the CA border. These "fume capture" devices prevent us motorcyclists from getting a full tank of gas and, as I tried to fill my motorcycle gas tank, one of the employees, a really friendly gal, came over and attached a flat aluminum ring-like device to the nozzle, which effectively held the "foreskin" back and out of the way, letting me get a good fill of the tank. I thanked her profusely and went inside to use the restroom and purchase some Gatorade. We chatted a bit about motorcycles and I was then on my way the last few remaining miles to Fallon NV.

Tomorrow: I ride the Loneliest Highway in America.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Day Ride to Crater Lake

I was 10 years old or so when my parents, sisters, and grandparents all loaded up in the family stationwagon and headed for Crater Lake OR. We were living in Hayward CA at the time, my dad being stationed at Alameda Naval Air Station. My grandparents would come visit us every summer, coming from Cleveland by train, and we'd go pick them up at the train station, ready to head out on our annual major car trip to somewhere beautiful on the Pacific coast. It was very special for me, getting to spend so much time with my grandparents...and with my family, particularly my dad who was often gone for long periods onboard aircraft carriers deployed to the far east. I was old enough to remember a good amount of detail about that visit and I was really looking forward to getting back to Crater Lake and to revisit some memories.

Mike, Rick and I met at a little restaurant - Sargent's - in Bend for breakfast and then Mike and I continued south on 97 while Rick chose to stay behind and do other things. It was a beautiful morning and those 90 miles went by quickly. Soon we were turning west onto 138 toward the north entrance to the park. Mike got ahead of me to go through the toll booth, flashing his senior pass. The ranger didn't want to let us both in on one pass and I was prepared to pull out my own pass when she relented and let us through "this time."

The park road quickly began to climb up the side of the mountain and I had the benefit of a GPS to show me how close we were getting to the first good view of the crater. I bypassed a few turn-outs that I knew wouldn't be as spectacular as the one coming up. Around a bend and up a particularly steep section of road and I knew we'd arrived at the spot that would give Mike his first "WOW" moment. I pulled over into the turn-out, parked the bike, dismounted and walked just a few steps toward the low stone wall and there it was....


The view literally took my breath away! The crater view was spectacular, the water a deep, deep blue, snow still evident in patches along the rim. Even the tiny little lavender flowers that seemed to be growing everywhere in pretty little clumps were putting on a show. The air was so clean and clear, and the skies were a gorgeous cloudless blue. It made for a postcard view, one which the camera could not capture adequately. Mike was totally blown away by the view. He had always wanted to see Crater Lake ever since he missed his opportunity when in OR for the BMW rally 9 years ago.

We hiked up to the top of a small promontory which gave us a great view of the entire crater and lake and took lots of photos.


I wanted to continue on up to the Lodge and visitor center, where I could get a national park stamp and where we could have a light lunch at the cafe. It was a short walk from the cafe to the NP visitor center and we stopped to play in the snow a bit before wandering along the walkway between the two, which offered more fabulous views of the lake from a different angle. The old lodge was off in the distance, a little too far to get a good view of the entrance. I confess that it did not look familiar to me and I'm sure the surrounding area has changed significantly since we were there those many years ago.



Returning back toward the north entrance to leave the park, we rode past a spot that I was nearly certain was the very same spot that we stopped at 50 years ago. My dad pulled over so that we girls could play in the snow while my grandpa took home movies. I remembered it so vividly that I could imagine the scene playing out one more time in my imagination as we rode our motorcycles past that point.

It was the perfect day ride!!
We both wanted to get back to the Bend area, Mike to pick up his clean laundry, me to return to the rally grounds so that I could attend a meeting for the 8K race runners and volunteers. We also had a club photo shoot scheduled for 6:00 PM.

At the 8K meeting, I realized that Andrea, the race organizer, could really use some volunteer help so rather than sign up for the race, I offered to volunteer! I promised Andrea I'd be there at 6:00 AM tomorrow, so with that in mind, once our club photo was taken, I hung out at the beer tent for a while, meeting up with more folks from MTF and the Houston club, and then headed back to the hotel.

Tomorrow: Up early! And a full day spent on the rally grounds volunteering for the 8K race, a four hour shift in First Aid, a bit more shopping the vendors and then closing ceremonies.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Opening Day of the MOA Rally!


This photo really captures the "Rally in the high OR desert" ambience that surrounded the rally grounds!

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The usual time zone lag had me awake at 5:30 AM and despite my best efforts at trying to fall asleep again, I was up and at 'em by 7:00 AM. So I jumped on the bike and started her up. I was immediately stymied by the road situation departing the hotel. I didn't notice this before, but there was no break in the median to get across to the northbound lane. Hmmm...what to do. I turned right and continued a couple hundred yards to a red light and, thinking I'd make a u-turn, got into the left lane. Then I noticed the "no U-turn" sign, so I eased over to the right lane and turned into the Lowe's parking lot where I could exit out onto the side street, get the light and legitimately get onto U.S. 97 northbound.

The start of a new year's rally is always exciting. What vendors will be there? What new things will I not be able to live without? What new friends will I make? What old friends will I run into?

The first thing I did was head over to the first aid room to change into sandals and stow my riding pants/boots. But it was locked so the next thing to do was head over to the free coffee, grab a cup and find the Louisville group and visit with them for a while. Louisville?? Well, my friend Mike has made friends with a group that attends the MOA rally every year. They come from various locations in the Louisville area and are always easy to find at the rally site by their giant yellow parabola-style sun shade that they erect over their campsite. So with coffee cup in hand, I picked my way through all the tents to make my way for their landmark parabola and had a very pleasant visit with Phil and Kent until First Aid opened at 9:00 AM.



Stuff safely tucked away in a corner of the First Aid room, I struck out, first to the Country Store to deposit my drawing tickets in their respective bins, and then to shop the vendors. Before I did that, though, I poked my head into the room where Mike Kneebone and volunteers were signing in the Redmond 1000 riders. I chatted with Voni and Paul for a while, asked Mike if they needed any more volunteers, and then spoke with Rob Nye for a bit before hitting the vendor hall.



So many of them!! They filled two large halls and surrounded all of the halls on the outside perimeters. I certainly don't need anything but that didn't stop me from shopping anyway! I bought a long-sleeve Silver Eagle technical fabric shirt for much less than I'd pay for similar shirts sold as running shirts. I bought a replacement crown liner for my Arai helmet. The new LDComfort shelf-bra tank top was tempting, but I don't suffer from the problems that led to its design and manufacture, so I passed on it.






Walking around the outside vendors, I came up to the Bill Mayer Saddles booth and successfully convinced a shopper to bring his bike back over for a custom measure and to place an order. Bill remembered me and chimed in on the "pitch," mentioning that I was an "Iron Butt" rider who rides all over the country and that he'd done several saddles for me...actually he's done four of them for me so far and in a few more months I may send my current BMW saddle back in for a re-do. As Bill said, "Even shoes wear out." Glad I could help, Bill!

I realized it was getting close to the start of my shift in First Aid, so I cut the shopping short, brought my purchases out to my bike to stow in a side case, and hitched another ride on a cart to the Hooker Creek Building where First Aid was located. We had a good shift; one of the long-timer volunteers and I took the cart out and roved the rally grounds, grabbing a lunch along the way. We were kept steadily busy, not overwhelmed, but busy enough that the time flew by. Soon it was 5:00 PM and our relief workers were arriving. With big plans to ride to Crater Lake tomorrow, I decided to return to the hotel and walk down to Olive Garden - about a mile away - for dinner. Mussels in wine sauce, a bowl of pasta y fagioli with bread sticks, all washed down with a mug of Blue Moon draft.

Tomorrow: Mike and I ride down to Crater Lake then return to the rally grounds for a club photo.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Redmond Oregon is in My Sites

We split up this morning, with Mike and Rick heading west on 26 toward Redmond, and me continuing north on I-84 to get to Washington state.

I don't know what I was expecting to see in Oregon but it certainly wasn't the mountainous terrain I saw from I-84! It was beautiful! Just miles up the road from Ontario OR, the landscape changed dramatically, as the interstate gained elevation through hills covered in brown grass. This sounds ugly, but it wasn't! The hills were steep, with lots of smooth contouring to them, and they rose up on either side of the highway. About 60 miles later I began to see evergreens - firs, pine, spruce - dotting the hillsides and not to long after I was riding in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and the elevation was surprisingly high.

In Baker OR, I decided to ride the 5 or so miles east to the Oregon Trails Interpretive Center. Unfortunately it was only 8:30 AM and they didn't open until 9:00 AM. I didn't want to wait, so turned around and returned to the interstate to continue up to Pendleton and my turn-off to Route 11 which would take me to Walla Walla WA.

Now this was an interesting road! Miles and miles of wheat fields on either side of the road, as far as the eye could see. The road was almost straight as an arrow, so the views were nearly limitless.

I arrived in Walla Walla and followed the GPS to U.S. 12 where I'd be turning left toward Whitman Mission National Historic Site. Just one block west on U.S. 12 and the road was closed, detouring me back a couple of blocks to a road I had just crossed a mile back. Had I only known!

Whitman Mission NHS was easy to get to once past the detour. I went into the visitor center, got my park stamp, and then watched the short video. Whitman and his wife Narcissa were Presbyterian missionaries, some of the first pioneers to arrive in the area. Whitman was both a doctor and a minister. A measles outbreak decimated nearly half of the resident native Indians in the area and, believing that Whitman was poisoning them - since none of the "white men" were dying from the disease, they rampaged and killed a dozen settlers, including Whitman and his wife. But the trail had been blazed, so to speak, and soon the indian tribe disappeared as more settlers moved into the area.

The visitor center sat on a nice shady piece of land and a park ranger was sitting out front under a tree, greeting approaching visitors and offering an introduction to the events that surrounded this location in the 1800's.


Back on the road again, U.S. 12 west took me to U.S. 730 which ran for miles along the south banks of Lake Wallula on the Columbia River. The views were spectacular! A large dam at Umatilla OR creates the Wallula lake on the river. From just south of Pasco all the way to Umatilla, the river was framed by high, brown hills on either side. The road stayed right on the banks of the river and at one of the pull-outs, I was able to climb over the guard rail and get down onto the river, touch the water, see the dark almost-black sand and take photos.


U.S. 730 took me to I-82 and then to I-84 west which also stayed close to the Columbia River, now downstream of the dam, all the way to U.S. 97 south. It was a scenic ride which turned to "spectacular" when I came up over a rise in the road and there, in front of me, was Mt. Hood! I would catch a glimpse of it every now and then, whenever the road gained some elevation allowing me to see over the hills that hug the banks of the river. Just for grins, I checked the altitude on I-84 as it ran along the river and found it to be averaging 270 feet above sea level.

Once I turned onto U.S. 97 - the final leg of my journey to Redmond and the BMW rally - the road immediately started climbing into the hills. The average grade was 7% and a slow truck lane was filled with lumbering 18-wheelers. When I thought we'd reached a final altitude, I checked again and discovered I was now 2500 feet above sea level and still climbing.

The terrain was barren and otherworldly up here on 97, with miles and miles of brown grass-covered hills, some wheat farms, and not too much else. This went on for many miles, until I reached Madras, a decent-sized town.

I knew I was getting closer when I began to see more and more BMW's. Two pulled away from the gas station in Madras just as I pulled in. I was seeing others at gas stations and restaurants all through town. I was about 30 miles north of Redmond at this point and was eager to get to the rally site to register before they closed at 5:00 PM. I needn't have worried. I got there at 4:15, in plenty of time to register and hitch a ride in a golf cart to the first aid station to meet with committee chair Pat Carol and get my name onto the schedule for a couple of shifts.

That accomplished, I got back on the bike and continued south to Bend and the Holiday Inn Express. As I was checking in, one of the two desk clerks was getting ready to call in an order to Carino's for himself and the other clerk. I asked if they'd be willing to order something for me, too, since I hadn't really eaten all day. They gladly obliged and this gave me time to unpack the bike, get into the room, and take a shower before the food arrived. Perfect!! I had Chicken Balsamic with angel hair pasta in a light balsamic sauce and fabulous garlicy bread sticks to go with it. I could settle in for the evening with my feet up the A/C turned on and relax!

Tomorrow: Up early and over to the rally grounds! I'll check out the vendors, check in with the IBA folks to see if they need help signing in the Redmond 1000 riders, get lunch, then report for work at First Aid at 12:00 noon.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In Search of Fossils and Trains

Today the boys and I split up, so that I could cover more ground, do more things. They weren't sure they were up to the aggressive (for them) itinerary for the day. We'll meet back up this evening in Ontario OR.

I got a good early start, leaving the hotel in Green River at 7:30 AM. This would get me to the Fossil Butte visitor center right at 9:00 AM opening time. It was a beautiful, crisp morning, the air was clean and cool and every color shone clear and brilliant in the early sun. I made my way up the interstate to U.S. 30 and found myself overtaken by two BMW riders headed the same direction. A short delay at a flag man stop, and we were underway again behind a pilot truck.


The park ranger was just opening the gates to the park when I arrived at Fossil Butte National Monument. This was a special stop for me for two reasons: I was here 3 years ago for a stamp and - more important - I would be able to purchase my Senior Pass! I wanted to buy it at Chattanooga last month on the day after my birthday but there was no park ranger there at that time who could take my money. So now I am the proud owner of my very own Senior Park Pass, good for the rest of my life.

New Park Pass in wallet and park stamp in Passport book, I got back on the road continuing north a ways on US 30 to the Highway 89 turn-off. It was along these stretches that I began to see my first prairie dog towns of the trip. A few even scooted across the roadway in front of me and I had to dodge one or two of them to avoid hitting them.

The road started out flat and relatively straight but it didn't take too long for the road to get exciting! Soon I was twisting my way down toward Bear Lake, rapidly losing altitude. Around one bend and the lake came into view in front of me, a large, deep blue expanse rimmed with sandy beach. Gorgeous!! As I got down to lake level, the road skirted the shore of the lake all the way to the quaint tourist town of Garden City. On the southern outskirts of town a small park appeared and I turned into the parking lot, got off the bike, and walked to the edge of the lake to soak in its beauty. The photo op's are at the tops of the hills on the approach roads but there's no place to pull over to capture the absolute beauty of this lake, so photos taken on the shore will have to do.


Through the town and a turn onto US 89, I continued my journey toward Logan UT. US 89 starts a steep ascent out of the town, offering more specatular views of the lake before disappearing into the mountains. The Beaver Creek tumbles down the mountain along side the road, its waters finding their way to the lake. As the road continued to climb higher, it crossed Logan River at one point, and from there onward, the river and the road traveled together. The pass through the mountain was narrow and beautiful and I found myself surrounded by high rocky ledges densely covered with evergreens of all varieties. It was hard to believe that earlier that day I had been riding through desert-like terrain west of Green River.




Forty miles of this spectacular road and I found myself in the college town of Logan UT. A gas stop and break in this town, and I then continued south on 89 as the landscape changed back to the desert-like UT terrain. I connected with I-15 for just 3 miles before exiting onto UT 83 toward Golden Spike National Monument. I expected "dreary and boring" but got excitement. Not because the road itself was exciting, (it was flat and straight) but because it skirted along the north side of the Great Salt Lake! Very cool! I alternately rode past pools of water and dry lake bed, white with salt the entire way along this road, until I turned left toward the park.


This park was WELL WORTH the out-of-the-way ride to get to! The visitor center is spacious with a theater, a large book store, and a really nice covered patio area with tables and chairs, the perfect place to sit, relax, and wait for the re-enactment of the steam trains to begin. I had some snacks and water on the bike so walked back out to get them, and then munched a light lunch while watching the re-enactment. It was amazing how cool the breeze was in the shade compared to the heat under the rays of the sun. Afterward, I walked out to the trains, their hot engines ticking and softly chuffing, and I could smell the burning wood of their fire boxes.

It was a nice break to the day, and I was ready to get back on the bike and continue northwest toward Ontario OR on mostly interstate. Exiting the park, from the high promontory, I had a spectacular view off to the east of the Great Salt Lake. A nice finish to this little side trip!

I had one more detour to make, this to the town of Hagerman and the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Park. The turn off the interstate took me onto a nice, tiny little country road with lots of roller-coaster hills past and around farms and fields. This road brought me to US 30 north and into the tiny little town of Hagerman ID. Along the way, I was riding between two bluffs: The one on the south side to my left was the typical permian basin-type buttes, their sedimentary layers visible along it's eroded faces. To my right, on the north side of the road, the bluffs were composed of lava rock, black and jagged and sitting much higher. The narrow valley in the middle was carved by a small river. It was an interesting contrast!

The visitor center sits right in the center of town and I parked in front and went inside to get a stamp and look at the exhibits. The Hagerman Horse fossils are the best known and there was a fine example on display inside the visitor center.



Now it would be a long stretch on I-84 toward Ontario OR and the nice, new Holiday Inn Express. Somehow, despite the many stops along the way, I still managed to arrive at the hotel ahead of the boys. Checked in, showered, and I headed out on foot for the nearby Sizzler Steak House and one of the best salad bars ever, a nice sirloin steak, and baked potato. It was a very good and productive day; 550 miles but with an early start and long daylight hours and plenty of stops along the way, it hardly felt like a long day and I regretted not talking the "boys" into sticking with me and my itinerary as I doubt they rode fewer miles than I did, and I'm certain I had a prettier route and more interesting things to see.

Tomorrow: We split up again as I head north toward WA state and the "boys" head straight west on 26 toward Redmond OR.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tantalizing Clouds

All morning, while riding through eastern CO, heading north then northwest toward Cheyenne, I could see a bank of fluffy white clouds way off to the west. In all other directions the sky was a deep and clear blue. I knew what those clouds represented...

It was while riding along US 34 northwest toward Greeley that I could begin to separate the mountain peaks from the clouds on the horizon. We were officially in Rocky Mountain territory!

At Greeley our route took us north along US 85, where the road paralleled railroad tracks and passed through small grain elevator towns every few miles. The towns were tiny, hugging the railroad sidings and featuring a tiny derelict gas station or so, maybe a homegrown hardware store, and one giant-ass grain elevator. After passing through a half dozen or so of these tiny little towns, the road opened up, the landscape fell away, and we were navigating through some high and hilly - and very windy - terrain in north CO and south WY.

At Cheyenne, we stopped for lunch, chatted up a couple on a triked out BMW K1200LT with a Hannigan trailer behind, and then got onto I-80 for what was most definitely one of the windiest rides I can recollect. We were pushing strong headwinds for 250 miles, all the way to Green River WY, our stop for the night. As the road took a bend, the head wind became a strong side wind. We stopped at a rest area about an hour east of Green River and when I brought the bike to a stop, we were faced broadside to the wind, I couldn't hold the bike steady enough to deploy my side stand. Friend Mike was oblivious to my predicament until I screamed to get his attention. He grabbed the back of the bike then moved around to the side and got my side stand down for me. WOW! I knew it was windy, but didn't realize just how strong those winds were until coming to a stop. Mike had to move my bike so that it faced into the wind before we took off.

When we got to Green River, I pulled into a gas station next door to the hotel and we found ourselves in the middle of an apparent crime scene. The parking area was covered up with police cars - maybe 6 or 7 of them - many uniformed officers and some plainclothes men in suits. A few of them had on blue rubber gloves and were going through a pickup truck parked against the building. Very odd....and very interesting. They gave an occasional look our way, as if to say, "Hurry up with your business and vacate the premises." Believe me, I hurried!

Tomorrow: I have a great route planned out to take me to 3 national parks and on what promise to be some interesting and entertaining roads.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Out-of-the-Ordinary Moments

Riding along on US 287 through OK and CO today, I got to thinking about some special moments I've experienced while on the road. You know those moments. They're those fleeting events of mind and soul, the kind that can never be re-created and that last just a few fleeting seconds or minutes but are impressed in your memory forever.


What triggered this was coming up 287 through CO, where the views in all directions are limited only by the curvature of the planet Earth. Off in the distance, across almost 360 degrees of horizon, I was surrounded by black sky, rain, and the occasional bolt of lightning. This reminded me of a trip I'd taken coming up this same road, headed for Gillette WY and the BMW MOA rally. It was late afternoon and I was surrounded in much the same way by threatening skies, which turned to heavy rain as I neared I-80 and Sydney NE, my stop for the night. The late afternoon sunlight was other-worldly, as it sent slices down through the clouds to bounce off of the golden wheat fields below. Eventually I rode in to the rain, just at dark, and rode in that rain west on I-80 to Sydney NE and the Days Inn. A small group of Harley riders arrived just moments before I did, and we all had a good laugh at ourselves, riding in the dark, in the heavy rain and glad to finally arrive at the hotel.


Thumbing through my recollections of similar sky- and landscapes, A particular morning on the Atchafalaya Basin, west of Baton Rouge, came to mind. I rode across the causeway just before sunrise one time, heading east toward Jacksonville FL. The very low rising sun turned the water of the basin beautiful soft shades of pink, lavendar and violet and the surface was like glass, so calm and still. Numerous aquatic birds were roosting in the cypress or wading in the water, in search of breakfast. It was stunning!


On another trip across LA on I-10 in early December, friend Mike was in front of me and he noticed the sky at the same time that I did. The sky was overcast, a low ceiling of white with no blue at all, a typical winter weather day in the South. And it was filled with large V-formations of geese high up in the sky, as far as the eye could see. What a sight!

Today, coming up 71 in eastern Colorado, the undulating fields of golden wheat looked like immense and limitless sand dunes, as far as the eye could see. Cruising along, the occasional hill and curve would open up a whole new vista. For a while, the golden wheat fields were interspersed with giant squares of deep green fields of corn. The contrast between the gold and green were dramatic...and gorgeous!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Houston TX to Childress TX

Yep...ride all day, don't even get out of the state of TX.

Not much to say except it was flat...it was sorta flat....then it was flat. We had surprisingly comfortable temperatures, thanks to light cloud cover all day, even a few sprinkles of rain here and there, and evidence of previous copious rain in the towns we rode through.

Lots of cows, too. In one particular pasture the cows were lined up single file, all headed in the same direction we were. Big cows, little cows, black cows, brown cows. All trotting along in perfect formation, spaced evenly apart, moving along at a pretty good clip, too. But always a trot, never faster than a trot. I'm always curious when I see this, wondering where they're going, who they're going to see, what treats await them when they reach their owner in his pickup truck. When I got to the head of the line of cows...and there must have been 30 or 40 of them...there was no one. No rancher. No pickup truck filled with cow treats. Just a corner of the pasture, and the cows were forming up against the fence line. They apparently knew something the rest of us didn't.

We had lunch at a Dairy Queen, parked our BMW's next to a Ducati and a BMW F800RT. The owners were easy to pick out of the Hayseed, USA clientele at the DQ. We sat with them and chatted, found out where they were headed, told them were we were headed. Asked the fellow why he wasn't headed for the BMW rally in OR.

In Wichita Falls, at a gas stop, we saw our first group of BMW's. They zipped by on US 287.
That was kind of exciting.

In Childress for the night's stop, having a Subway sandwich next door to the hotel, we saw our next group of BMW's. We wondered if it was the same group.

Tomorrow: More of the same landscape for much of the day as we ride to Limon CO.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Tomorrow is the Day!

Tomorrow morning I get on the road, heading north and west toward Redmond OR and the annual BMW MOA rally. The bike has new "shoes" and had a thorough service done at Wild West BMW last week. She sits out there in the garage, nearly packed and ready to go. I sense some excitement on her part, since she's always rarin' to go! Little red FZ6 was looking rather forlorn and forgotten, not ridden in more than a month, so I took her out for a nice ride this week, used up the 1/2 tank of gas and filled her with a fresh tankful.

Under pressure to fulfill my commitment to Brooks Running as a "test mule" for them, I ran an inordinate number of miles this week. Sort of "banking" the miles, you might say... Both pairs of test shoes have seen equal numbers of miles these past 4 weeks, and I've come very close to the committed number of miles promised to Brooks when I applied for this gig. One of the two pair are packed on my bike, ready to see some use while on the road. Since the weather here has been downright miserable - very hot, very humid - I'm looking forward to the cool mornings and evenings I'll start seeing once I get into Colorado.

So...bike packed, plants watered, mail put on hold, and some "just in case" tropical storm precautions taken such as stowing the patio furniture and packing the freezer tightly to fill every square inch in case of power failure, I'm ready to go!