Saturday, May 31, 2014

13. Day 8- The Long Ride continues to change course. Mammoth,Yellowstone to Jackson Hole, WY

We really enjoyed Mammoth Springs.  After sleeping in our lovely cabin I was able to walk to the springs in the early morning.  At 6:30AM there was only one other person there.  I spent about an hour walking around and saw the sunrise from the springs.  I did not see a single animal except for a rather large bunny.
My early morning panoramic
We stared at each other for a while

Our ride for the day was through the western side of Yellowstone.  There was some road construction that had us hanging around for 15 minutes but there are always nice people to chat with during a traffic jam.
Required Yellowstone Buffalo grazing shot, check.

We did this on the way out instead of the way in.  We are generally kind of backwards like that.

We finally made it to Old Faithful.  When I was here in 1997 we missed Old Faithful and didn't hang around to see it.  So I was determined to see it this time.  In normal fashion we just missed it and had to wait over an hour to see it.  But again, we met some nice people to chat with.  One woman was originally from Pelham, NY but now lives in Wyoming.

To be honest when it finally went off I was a bit disappointed.  I guess I had built it up in my mind to some gigantic 100 foot blast up towards the sky.  Apparently, the force of the previous eruption determines the next eruption and we had just missed a good one.  We checked out the lodge, shared a roast beef sandwich and were on our way.
Not so thrilling, huh?

We only road 150 miles because of all the stopping in Yellowstone.  We arrived in Jackson Hole relatively early and we thought about moving on but decided to stay.  It's a nice town and we didn't really know where to go next anyway.  In keeping with our cabin theme (our new version of camping) we found this lovely place, it even has it's own bathroom.
Camping?  Who needs camping when you can have this?

In our constantly changing route, I think we may keep going west into Oregon, then maybe hit very northern Cali before hitting Route 50 in Nevada/Utah (dubbed the loneliest road in America) and then go into Colorado.  The temps of southern Nevada and Arizona currently very off putting, so we may try to keep things northern until we have to dip down in to Tennessee.

I'll let you know when I know!!!  Thanks for reading.

Friday, May 30, 2014

12. Days 6 & 7. Long ride days. Devils Tower to Cody, WY to Mammoth,Yellowstone

Day 6 was tough.  We learned that we really need to prioritize sleep in order to make this trip enjoyable.  I can get by on 5-6 hours but my travel counterpart is more sensitive to sleep requirements.  Since we want this to be an enjoyable endeavor we have revised our stance on camping to only if absolutely necessary.  I’m fine with that.

Since Day 5 was laden with dirt roads and rain we found a place to take the bikes for a quick chain clean and lube at Marlins Auto Body & Motorcycle Shop in Gillette, WY.  I called and they said they would take us.  We were in and out in 45 minutes.  We were also able to buy some spare chain lube, oil and some face shield cleaner since the bugs are plentiful around here.

Our original plan was to make it to Red Lodge, MT so we could hop on the Bear Tooth Pass into Yellowstone the next morning.  It was about 360 miles.  Given the sluggishness of the riders and the chain cleaning delay of game we actually made it around 310 miles to Cody, WY. 

After we left Gillette we were going to continue on 16 west, but about 5 miles out we were alerted to road construction and dirt roads.  We promptly turned around and got on 90 west.  No thank you to Wyoming road construction.  When they say “use extreme caution” they are not kidding around.  This reminds me that I always assess how different states measure the speed with which you take a corner.  Oftentimes a corner sign will say 35mph.  I found that for the most part they are quite conservative.  Except West Virginia.  When West Virginia tells you to take a turn at 25mph you listen.

Anyway, back on task.  Route 90 in this area was not bad for an interstate.  There was not much traffic and we got a great view as we approached the Tetons.  Eventually we met back up with 16, I think in Buffalo, WY to get the rest of the way into Cody.  Route 16 is a nice road when there is no construction.

We were sort of riding the edge of a storm front about 40 miles out from Cody and the wind was INSANE!!!!! Small branches were blowing off of trees, tumbleweeds were tumbling everywhere.  I’ve never seen Steve so leaned over just to go straight.  I really, truly understand why so many have commented on the wind out west.  I couldn’t drive the speed limit if I tried in those conditions.

We were so ready to reach our destination and as I said earlier, we really went a lot further than I thought.

We checked in around 5:30pm, ate another delicious round of McDonalds salads which was right next to the motel and were tucked in by 7:30PM.  Is it sad that we pick motels by their proximity to a McDonalds and the ability to park right in front of the room?  That’s what I told the clerk at check in.  Number of beds doesn’t matter, I don’t want to haul my stuff more than 10 feet.  We were also close to a Super Kmart, which give me something to do when I wake up before Steve.  I try not to wake him up when I get up early, so I go for some early morning walks.  We both needed a couple of little things, so the Super Kmart was convenient.

Day 7 (Thursday) greeted us in a much nicer fashion.  Steve got his 12 hours of catch-up sleep.  We took it easy in the morning, taking time to do some re-packing after camping, checked air pressure and oil and worked out our next route.

We decided to see if there was any chance in hell that we could get lodging in Yellowstone, in which case we would still head up to Red Lodge and then catch the Bear Tooth Pass into Yellowstone.  I thought Bear Tooth Pass was part of Yellowstone but it is not.  I was on hold with Yellowstone lodging for about 30 minutes but we were able to secure an economy cabin for $89 by Mammoth Hot Springs.  AWESOME!!!!! I really want to see the Hot Springs so I’m glad that worked out.  I was going to try for Roosevelt Lodge or Canyon but both of those open for the season tomorrow.  The economy cabin is nicer than expected.  It does not have a toilet or shower, but our main concern is a bed.  The bathrooms/showers are shared by around 6-10 cabins.  We have a stand-alone cabin so that is nice.  Again, we don’t care how many beds as long as there is a bed and we can park in front of it.  Bathroom’s also optional.  That’s kind of like camping, right?
Mammoth Economy Cabin

Since we are still ahead of schedule by one day we decided to take it easy and really be touristy.  First off, Bear Tooth pass is nuts and spectacular and snowy and incredible and now has to be in my top 5 favorite roads.  I often say top 5 but I’ve never really put it to paper.  So I probably have a top 5 list that has at least 10 roads on it.  There were parts where the snow walls we road next to were easily 15 feet tall.  Our waiter at dinner said they had 42 feet of snow at the deepest point on the road.  Just when I think we’ve seen all the cool things, we come across more cool things.  Once we were through the pass I realized I FORGOT to turn on the spot locator after our lunch spot!!!! Ugh.  So there is no proof, except for the pictures we took.  Once I went to turn it on I realized the batteries were dead.  I thought the power button was supposed to blink red when the batteries were going, but I don’t recall seeing that.  So mental note to change the batteries every 6 days or get rechargeable batteries.

We made our way into Yellowstone through the Northeast entrance and began our westward ride towards Mammoth Springs.  We saw a bunch of buffalo, but I guess that is a given.  Steve referred to the Buffalo that were laying as “buffaloafing”.

We saw a lot of people set up to look for black bear.  I guess they have their usual hang outs.  We didn’t stay to watch, we are too impatient.  As a kid when we would camp as a family we would go to the garbage dump in the evening to watch the bear.  I’ve seen enough.

I am typing this from my economy cabin.  There is no cell service or wifi, so I am typing in Word and will have to transfer over to blogspot tomorrow night.  Don’t worry, I sent my Mom a check in message with Spot.  I did speak to her this morning because I was so excited that we got a room in Yellowstone that I had to tell someone.  My wifi hotspot has come in handy.  Even though some motels say they have wifi, it often does not work well.  The communicators are really nice.  It’s nice to be able to pull into a town and discuss where we should stop without having to pull over.

After a rough couple of days I think we are back on track.  I’m on day two of no ibuprofen so I think I am adjusting.  My main issue is pain in my right shoulder.  I think I grip the throttle too tightly.  The spot is the same spot that I get pain in when I sit at the computer to long or really if anything causes me tension. 

So far we have been in NY, PA, OH, IN, IL, IA, SD, NE (although I need to confirm that with Spot), WY and MT.  Total miles so far is around 2,750.  After tomorrow mileage will pick up a bit.  Our current plan is to stay in Jackson Hole tomorrow night but if we get out of Yellowstone and still want to keep going we may go a bit further.   After Jackson Hole (or wherever) we are going to head to the Bonneville salt flats in Utah. 

I hope to update soon.  I am not proof-reading.  I tend to be redundant.  I apologize and I appreciate the reads!!   It’s already 8:45pm.  Time to turn in!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

11. Day 5 - The long ride that should not have been: Wall, SD to Devil's Tower, WY

Yesterday we set off on what was an easy, touristy fun-filled day.  First we were off to Custer State Park SD, because of the windy mountain roads and tunnel passes.  We saw our first Buffalo!

We think they are on the payroll, they walked right by the visitor center.
Unfortunately, it started to rain so the windy, mountain roads became less fun.  We started getting behind schedule because we stopped to often, chatted with other travelers too much and then rain happened.

Off to Mount Rushmore.  We got there just in time to park the bikes in indoor parking, walk to the monument, snap pictures, then haul butt inside to the cafeteria just in time for a hail storm.  So we ate lunch and lost even more time.  I think as many people may note, the presidents did not look as big as I suspected.

See that big black cloud?  It hung over our heads all day(metaphorically speaking).
Then we decided we needed to make some time to Devils Tower and we would like bail on camping (again) since weather had been iffy and it was getting late in the day.  We hopped on 16 west which should have been an quick ride but then we were confronted with the worst road construction zone I have ever ridden through in my life.  It starts out innocuous enough "one lane road ahead" and it's still paved but a bit messed up.  Then the sign "motorcyclists use extreme caution" hmm, why would they say that?  It turn into an entire dirt road highway full of gravel, ruts, soft dirt and of muddy areas.  Me and mud do not agree.  I am quite thankful that it wasn't raining during this time because I would have just crawled into the woods and called it a day.  The dirt would have immediately turned muddy.

After 10 miles of grip clenching yuckiness we were finally out of it.  Then it decided to rain.  Then we hit a few more construction zones but nothing like that first one.

We finally approached Devil's Tower and there was a KOA so we thought we would try it out. Nice campground, nice people, 0% chance of rain according to the Weather Channel app.  We did get some drizzle and some scary sounding wind but we are still intact.

So beautiful.

My personal chef.
We also used our camp stove.  The Chili mac & beef I had was yummy and so was Steve's beef stronganoff.

Steve's brand new sleep mat will not hold air, so that stunk.  He refused my selfless offer to use my mat and stuck it out.

Steve is still in a slumber now, but I think we may switch our game plan on camping.  Originally we thought we would camp when the weather looked good.  Now I think we will camp only if we have to.

On the technology front.  I am typing this on my new laptop utilizing my own personal wifi hot spot, while my phone charges using the solar panel.  I've got this rustic thing down pat.

Today we need to figure out how to get our dirty chains cleaned.  The bikes are quite messy.  Our goal for today was 360 miles to Red Lodge, Montana, but I think we will instead focus on some bike maintenance and get where we get when we get there.  But still moving west!!

Again, all proof-reading has stopped.  Sorry for errors.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

10. Day 3 & 4: Gilman, IL to Sioux City, IA to Wall, SD

Let me start by saying that yes, I forgot my camera.  Then last night Steve realized he forgot the cable to hook his camera to the computer.  So pics will have to come from the phones for now and then we can update once we are home.

So on Day 3 our original intent was to end in Cody, NE.  We set out by 7:30-it helps when you pass into an earlier time zone.  We got 200 interstate miles out of the way in time for an early lunch.  We noticed that ran may be moving in and the # of cars/trucks was increasing on the highway so we decided to head to secondary roads and hopefully away from the rain.

It was this day that I first felt the open plains wind that our friend Jay mentioned.  You sort of have to ride leaned slightly to the left to counteract the wind, but if you pass a house that is blocking the wind you better straighten up or you're gonna have a bad time.

We kept finding then losing the Lincoln highway, but it was nice to be off the interstate.  We finally hit the rain in Cedar Rapids, but it only lasted about 50 miles.  I think we would up doing around 550 miles and ended up in Sioux City, IA.  We were making good time and we felt OK so we kept going. 

When you're seen you're safe!!
We also stopped in Sac City, IA for gas.  We noticed super was cheaper than regular.  We asked a local, he said it was always like that.  We are assuming something having to do with the ethanol.

Super for less, OK.
We rolled into Sioux City around 7ish, I think.  I don't like to judge anything by my limited experience but it was very off-putting when the first people who approach you in the parking lot are obviously under the influence of something and are trying to bum a smoke.  The hotel GM was right on their tail though and he called the police to try to make sure they didn't come back.  The GM was very nice and spoke with us repeatedly throughout the evening to assure us that the bikes would be safe.  We certainly did not want to be stranded there.  There was some massive rain overnight, which is fine by me.  I'll be happy if rains every night - except if we ever actually camp.

Since we went off route we had to come up with a new plan for Day 4.  I have to say when we do 12 hour riding days it's hard to work in anything other than riding, eating, and bathroom breaks.  By the time we got to the hotel it was shower, eat, try to come up with a new route and sleep.  We were not very successful with the new route but thanks to my early morning wakefulness genes and the extra hour of the central time zone I set something up the next morning.

It wound up being a great ride.  We had about 30 miles of rain right when we left. 

South Dakota is freaking gorgeous.  I wish I had come here sooner.  I was here in 1978 but memory fails me.  Plus at 5 I probably just wanted a snack.  The scenery is magnificent.  Badlands is super duper awesome.  One thing I noticed a lot is that the cows stare back.  When we ride in Vermont, the cows ignore us.  Here they seem just as interested in us as we are in them.

The cows stare back.
The little motel I found on the internet is also superb.  The Sunshine Inn in Wall, SD.  I called from Winning, SD to make sure we could get a room.  He blocked us a parking spot right in front of the room so we wouldn't have to carry our stuff.  Very friendly, very helpful and only $58!  Forget camping.

We are taking it easier today to do some touristy stuff.  Heading to Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Devils Tower.  Hoping to camp at Devil's Tower.  I know I keep saying that but really, we do want to camp.

Please note that re-reading of these posts is no longer happening.  I'm hungry and want breakfast.  I apologize for any errors.

Bad grammar be OK on vacation.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

9. Day 2: Not as long of a ride. Mohican, Ohio through Indiana to Gilman, Illinois

Day 2 is in the books.  Yeah, not camping again.  We were going to, I promise, but the KAO in Kankakee, IL was booked.  I guess camping during a holiday weekend without reservations is not going to work.  We are supposed to be at the KAO in Guthrie, IA tomorrow.  I have to call them.  Although with the 30% chance of rain showers tomorrow afternoon in Guthrie, we may just go hotel again.  Can't beat Motel 6 for $60.
I guess the spot locator is working.

Today's ride was great.  Basically due west from Mohican, OH to Gilman, IL.  Indiana was great.  We did a mix of highway and secondary roads which is nicer than all interstates.  Some of the secondary roads were not part of the original route but we had to divert from the highway to find gas so then we decided to take any road that said west.  At another point the GPS got a bit confused to we did the same thing.  I find that we often have some of the best rides when we are winging it.  We spent some time on the Lincoln highway.  So many farms and windmills!! I saw signs upon entering Indiana saying "No Wind Farms" - I never realized that people could oppose wind farms.  I will have to google that.
Windmills in the distance.

Steve noted that he felt folks to be a bit friendlier in Indiana/Illinois than Ohio.  We are sure there are great people in Ohio, it is just a note from our piece of the journey.

I will say that people tend to be more open to just walking up to us to start talking about the bikes, the trip, the camelbaks, etc.

We met a charming Irish hitchhiker and her cute as can be dog.  She was hitching from Florida up to Michigan.  She said it took her about five days so far, but she really had no idea what day it was so that was a guess.  She said she got stuck in Atlanta for a day because "You know, it's hard to hitch out of the cities." Well, no, I was not aware that it was more difficult to hitch out of cities, but I will store that information for future reference.  She told us some great places to stop along the way.  She's a highway lurker, I guess because it's easier to get rides.  She highly recommends Nevada City, she's never met an unhappy person there.  Noted.  I've got a lot of respect for the Irish chick hitching around the country.  I would have loved to sit and have a cup of coffee with her, but the road called us all back.  She's headed to Maine after Michigan.  She wants to get a job for the summer so she can fly her and the dog back to Ireland in the fall.
The cute dog guarding the stuff.
Then a young man came up to talk to us as he was intrigued by the camelback water bladders that we wear.  He had just gotten his license and was taking his first "long ride" from Fort Wayne, IN to Akron, OH on his Yamaha V-Star 650.  Total mileage = 200.  Good for him.

Steve was also wondering how farmers pick that one tree in their field that they don't cut down.  Is it arbitrary or science?  We also determined that chickens smell worse than cows, but  we don't think cows smell bad.

Tomorrow we have a another 400 mile day much of which is GPS'd for interstate again as we make our big push west.  Even though we are in this luxurious Motel 6 I can already tell I might in for trouble tonight with the screaming infant next store and the half-hourly freight train.

8. Day 1: A long ride indeed

So we are officially underway.  I guess the chances are 100%.  As suspected in the last few days leading up to departure it felt like there were not enough hours in the day.  Early in the week I took to waking up between 3-4am to things done.  That caught up to me eventually and I was exhausted on Thursday. 
With just a few more things to do on the list, I was ready to go at 6:30AM Friday morning.  Steve, not so much.  He is not a morning person, never was, and sometimes you just have to give him the time he needs.

We took off around 8am, with the thought of however far we go is fine.  Our initial goal was 520 miles to Loudonville, OH.  Since it was our first day and we just wanted to get west we pretty much stuck to the highway.  The first lesson I reminded myself yesterday was just how much interstates suck.  The speeds, the wind, the tractor trailers, all yuck yuck yuck.  We should be avoiding that from here on out.  The second thing I learned is that Pennsylvania is doing a lot of work on their bridges, lots of construction zones.  Luckily in mid-day traffic wasn’t bad and I actually welcomed the slower speeds.
I listened to my music for some of the trip.  The third thing I learned is that if you listen to a quiet kind of music like Damien Rice or Brandi Carlile, at highway speeds it can sometimes just kind of sounds like ghosts making noise in your helmet.  It freaked me out a little bit at first.  I may have to consider adjusting the speakers in my helmet to see if that helps. 
We finally made it OH and my fourth lesson of the day, which is rush hour on Friday of a holiday weekend in Akron, OH has nothing on the West Side Highway in NYC.  The only traffic was due to a couple of crashes.  Once we finally left the dreary interstate for secondary roads I was reminded again how riding through farmland is still my favorite place to ride a motorcycle. It is so wide open that you can see for days, so that makes me feel safer than wondering what is lurking around the next turn or what is waiting to dart out of the woods.  We have ridden in the in the Alps which is beautiful and very dramatic to look at, but there a nice quiet riding through farmland. 
As you may suspect we decided that we really didn’t feel like camping on our first night  out.  So we made it to Loudonville, were cell service disappeared.  Steve looked up a hotel in his GPS and off we went.  Here I was again reminded that most of the country is not like the northeast.  We arrive at the hotel to see keys sitting out on the counter for people checking in and a note with a phone # to call if you have any questions.  It was 7:00pm on a Friday of a holiday weekend and the hotel was left unattended.  Of course, we had no cell service, but someone let us use their phone to call the number.  Unfortunately they were booked so we were off to the next location on the GPS. 
After going up a windy, rain rutted dirt driveway we made our way to the Mohican River Inn.   They had rooms, and we were not picky, so it was a perfect fit.  By this time it was 7:30ish so we were off to McDonalds for dinner, since they were the only place around with wifi.  I have to say McDonalds has some darn good salads.

The fries were pretty good also.

The view from our hotel.

When we returned to the motel we wanted to buy some bottled water but they also left!!  Is leaving a motel office unattended on a holiday weekend the norm?
So I am typing this blog from the hotel in Word since I cannot get online to post anything.  Hopefully AT&T will come through when we make it to Kanakee, IL today.  Today’s plan is 320 miles.  We also realized we may have to reevaluate camping on a holiday weekend.  We are not interested in the bonfire, party scene right now.
I certainly won’t object to another hotel stay.  A lumpy bed is still a bed.  And heat is heat.
I’ve also learned that only bringing my mesh jacket may not have been the best choice.  It’s cold.  I wore a long sleeve T-shirt, two fleece jackets, my mesh jacket and my rain coat and it was still a bit chilly yesterday.  I figured the rain coat would block the wind.  But it was also overcast yesterday, so hopefully a sunny day will change that.
On to day 2!!!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

7. Only a short time to the long ride!!!!

Less than a week!!!!  All still looks like a go.  I think I'll increase the odds of the trip happening to 70%.  I want to be cautious.  As I said before it's not 100% until I pull out of the driveway.  Perhaps I need to get three states away before it will really be real.  Although it may feel like an eternity just trying to get through the very wide state of Pennsylvania on the first day.  Now is the time when it feels like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done.  I anticipated this.

We have also moved into last stage panic shopping!  The money is flying everywhere.  The new Sena communicators we wanted have been delayed to June so just yesterday we set up our new Sena SMH10 Communicators.  No one would answer the phone when I called from my helmet.  I finally had to call a work person from my helmet just to try it out.  It is superb.  "Siri, play my play list called Riding."  Yes, yesterday I set up a play list called Riding.  After I spent $24.99 to send my entire iTunes playlist into the cloud. "Siri, call Mom." Voicemail. "Siri text Mom."  "Why aren't you answering my call? I'm trying to call you from my helmet."  I certainly see the appeal of these.

Portable solar charger, because you never know when you may wind up in the desert with cell service but limited battery life, right? An extra fuel bottle to carry our camp stove fuel.  Practical (obviously a Steve purchase).  A couple more wicking shirts, so now I own 6 even though I'm only supposed to be bringing three.  Rush order of HVMP T-shirts now that we have our awesome logo thanks to Kendra from COG.  Check out the wonderful banner design Kendra did for us.  We won't see the actual banner until we get to Johnson City, TN but I really like the artwork.
The 6' long banner will meet us in TN after our long ride.
Just this morning I woke up to an e-mail from Amazon from midnight last night (I was already asleep) that apparently I ordered 2 Klymit Inertia X Frame Camping mattress in chartreuse yellow/green.  I have a feeling Steve is concerned our sleep pads are too big, and they probably are.  I wonder if it was the chartreuse that sold him on these specific ones.  I'm not even sure I could identify that that color.
I must be sleep shopping again.
Finally, at the urging of my 7 year old nephew we got my Mom an i-Phone for Mother's Day.  So not really for me but still kind of for me.  Facetime from the Grand Canyon!  Heck yes!  She's been talking about it for a while and it will be nice for her to see my Spot locator tracking & check-in e-mails on her phone rather than having to sit down at the computer.  Facetime is nice.  That is really why my nephew wants her to have it.  He wants to Facetime Grandma.

Last weekend was all about bike maintenance.  We changed the oil, put a new battery in the Versys, cleaned and lubed the chains.  We both put new pro grip grips on and I gave myself a snazzy new pair of shiny black extra heavy HVMP bar ends.  I had the stainless heavy before.  I'm trying these out for the trip.

New squishier grips!

Men at work!
We also took a ride to test out the Spot Locator.  I had to meet a potential customer so I stuck the spot in my pocket.  When we arrived I took off my jacket and I think the lack of motion made it stop tracking.  I recall checking it before we left and I thought the tracker button was blinking, but it did not seem to record. 

I thought I would include some pictures from our 2005 Nova Scotia trip.  Back then I was riding the Ninja 500 with soft bags and Steve had the Concours.  I would definitely put that on my "to do again" list.  Although these days I don't think there is any boat transportation out of Maine into Yarmoth.. 

One of my favorite riding days ever was in Nova Scotia.  It was somewhere heading north out of Halifax on our way to the Cabot Trail.  There were no other vehicles and all I could smell was Christmas trees.  It was a very peaceful day.

 Well I better get packing!!! So much to do.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

6. Tick tock...long ride coming soon.

The past couple of weeks have been long ride uneventful as we were just waiting patiently.  With just over two weeks before our scheduled leave date I feel things are ramping up and before long I will feel completely unprepared and frazzled.  So far we are on track to make this happen.  My fingers are still crossed.  Steve has spent a lot of time fine-tuning the route to keep things scenic.  I know things are going to get hectic in the next couple of weeks but we will just ride it out.  Once we leave things will just have to figure themselves out.

Last weekend we did a test run of tent set up, to make sure all the pieces were there.  I'm not crawling in it until I have to though.  We also did some hiking/snake hunting with our nephew.  We were successful in the hike but not in the snake hunt.  Bring on the great outdoors!!

Comfy looking, right?
There's got to be a snake here somewhere.
Just today I activated the spot locator.  I tried the check in option to my very short list of people who would tolerate a pre-programmed message from me and it worked.  I'm still learning.  I'm having some issues with the route tracking, but I'll get there.

This upcoming weekend we are doing our pre-trip oil changing, chain cleaning and Steve's Versys needs a new battery.  Steve also purchased some mushy new hand grips from Pro Grip.  So this weekend is all about bike prep.  Oh, and Mother's Day of course.

The weekend after next, which will be our final weekend before we leave, is all about packing.  I want the bikes packed by Sunday night so all we are doing is tying up loose ends during the week.

On the HVMP front, a friend of ours recommended that we sell our bar ends at the Concours Owners Group (COG) national rally we are attending in Johnson City, TN.  This entire journey was born because of the planned trip to Johnson City.  He was also kind enough to offer to transport our product for us since he will be trailering his bike down to TN.  Of course, I then decided we needed a HVMP banner for our table, which means we needed a logo update.  Luckily for me, another lovely COG member is handling the logo stuff, so I can get my banner printed up in time.  Those COGger's are a really helpful bunch.  I guess that's why their motto is Join for the Bike, stay for the people.

I've also decided to place a last minute order with our machine shop to stock up on inventory.  Leave it to me to leave HVMP unmanned during our busy sales month of the year.  I'm sure my back-up will do a great job since the business used to be his!!!

I also decided to get a PayPal card reader for my i-phone so we can accept payments at the rally.  Another thing to add to the technology list.

Want to give me money?? I am prepared to accept!!
Since it's currently Thursday, how about a TBT?  This is my first touring bike, the Buell Blast.  This was taken in Sugarbush, Vermont around 10 years ago.  Both my safety gear and my luggage have improved dramatically since then.

This was a loud, loud motorcycle.
Finally, what's a blog without cats?  We hope these two won't miss us too much.  We have a team of regulars who will be feeding and tending to them and a lot of people on call. 

So as the clock winds down I will continue to wind myself up until the moment when we pull out of the driveway and begin heading west.  I will continue to worry about preparation until that moment, but when we are underway everything will just fall into place.

Thanks for reading!!!