Friday, June 13, 2014

21. Day 20 & 21: Norton, KS to Clinton, MO to Charleston, MO

We are moving closer to our destination of Johnson City, TN and we are two days ahead of schedule. I changed our reservation to arrive in TN on Saturday instead of Monday. I'm fine with this because it will give us time to figure out our HVMP merchant table set up as well as kick-start our volunteering duties with hospitality. 

We made an appointment for Tuesday afternoon to get new rear tires. Ours would probably make it back to NY but I'd rather get tires too soon than too late. 

The past two days have been nice roads but nothing monumental in terms of touristy, sightseeing stuff. That's part of what I enjoy about motorcycling, the ride is the sightseeing. I think because I spent the last 20 years commuting in a car that I no longer find that fun. A car (unless it's a convertible) is just a way to get from point A to point B.  I never commuted on a motorcycle so riding it is like a vacation all on its own. 

We did make it to that largest ball of sisal twine in the world. 

Yesterday we ride through the Mark Twain national forest and the Ozark national scenic riverways. 

We had to sit and wait out the freight train in the rain.  You can see it through the trees in the picture above. 

We spent a good portion of the day (200 out of 300 miles) in drizzly rain. I think we just sat in the front that was moving eastward with us. At least we weren't at 10,000 feet so the temperature was warm.  The ride was nice in spite of the rain. 

I had to change the batteries on the spot locator again. But I've learned that the power button blinks red when there are less than 100 transmissions left. 

Not sure where we are headed today. We are only 500 miles from Johnson City but we will take two days to get there. So today will be leisurely. 

We are going to try and take a ferry across the Mississippi. Pictures forthcoming!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

20. Day 17, 18 & 19. Moab, UT to Dillon, CO + Rest Day + Dillon, CO to Norton, KS

We left Moab heading towards Dillon, CO where we planned on doing oil changes and chain clean/lube.  Our plan was to take a direct route to Dillon so we could get the bike maintenance done the same day.  When we left Moab the weather was great, but we knew we may run into some rain.  We took the very lovely 128 out of Moab which followed the Colorado River.  After that we planned on taking interstate the rest of the way so we could get into Dillon early.
The lovely Colorado
Not sure what that structure is.

Of course, our plan fell by the wayside as we got closer to our destination and the weather became colder and colder and rainier and rainier.  As we crossed Vail pass I really thought it might start to snow. It was freezing. I believe the elevation we were at was 10,600 feet,  We had to stop and switch to our winter gloves. The last 65 miles of the trip were tough.

When we finally pulled into our friends driveway it was still raining and cold.  I used his dog to warm myself up and parked the bike for the night.  No work was getting done.  When our host got home he was kind enough to let us use his truck to go to Walmart for our oil change supplies.  There was no way I was getting back on the bike.  I don't think I warmed up until the next day.  We went out for a sushi and hibachi feast and absolutely loved driving in the car given the temperature.
Doubles as a hand warmer.

When we woke up on day 18 (Monday) it was 27 degrees and it looked like it was going to be raining east of us which is the direction we are heading.  So we quickly decided to stay put and wait for it warm up and then we would work on the bikes.

icy seat

Sunny but chilly!!
I only stand up for snacks.

So we got the work done on the bikes and were lazy and snacky the rest of the time.  We watched a lot of Shark Tank and What Would You Do.  This was the first TV we watched since we left so it was a nice distraction.

Since it still looked like it may rain to the south and east the following day we decided to stay on the northern side of CO & KS and heads towards Cawker City, KS which is the home of the World's Largest Ball of Twine.  It was 440 mile goal.  We left a bit late and given that we crossed time zones and lost another hour we stopped after 340 miles in Norton, KS.  Hopefully we will get to see twine tomorrow.

Kansas so far is straight and flat but the weather today was perfect so I just enjoyed the never ending plains and an abundance of sky.  We saw a crop dusting plane, what must have been a buffalo farm and lots of cows.  We had a yummy burger at Cindy's food truck in Anton, CO and just enjoyed the nice weather.  Still no camping but a lovely $55 motel room is just fine!
This is pretty much the view for the whole day.

Food truck burger.  Yum

Saturday, June 7, 2014

19. Day 15 & 16: Tahoe City, CA to Delta, UT and Delta, UT to Moab, UT

After our rest day in Tahoe City we headed out with the ultimate destination of Moab, UT.  It was 800 miles so we knew we would not get there in one day.  So we settled on our first day goal of Delta, UT which is 530ish miles and a time zone change from Tahoe City.  Again, following water in the morning is chilly.  Leaving Tahoe City was cold!!!

We wanted to ride the "Loneliest Road in America" which I just looked up to see exactly what it covered.  As I thought it only covers the Nevada portion of Route 50 and not the Utah portion.  I think since being dubbed the loneliest road in 1986 that it has made it a bit of a tourist attraction so people like me can buy their pins that say "I survived the Loneliest Road" because  I really felt the Utah portion to be significantly lonelier.

So we gas up in Fallon, Austin, Eureka, Ely - the longest stretch of no gas being 120 miles between Austin and Eureka. Other than that we could get gas every 80 miles or so.  I think a fellow in Austin was trying to scare us by really emphasizing the lonely thing.

We actually went 150 without gas from Ely, NV to Delta, UT.  There was only one gas station the entire 150 stretch but we knew we would make it to Delta.  We passed Sevier Lake.  I had seen a lake on the map and thought perhaps with water was people and business.  As we approached this lake it looked dry, but we weren't sure if it was just low and our eyes were being wacky with glare.  I wikipedia'd that as well and apparently is has been dry through most of recorded history.  So no people and no business.

Nevada was nice, I don't want to insult anything but in my humble opinion the UT portion of Route 50 to Delta (and not beyond Delta) was lonelier and more scenic.
Route 50 in utah

Since we had hit our 530ish mile goal we were able to lube the chains and have a more leisurely ride to Moab.  We stayed on 50 which partnered with interstate 15 for a short clip.  Then we noticed it partnered with Interstate 70.  Bah humbug on those interstates.  But what we are learning is that going east to west in a relatively direct fashion is not always easy.  For example, the route we are looking at for tomorrow is 289 miles on interstate but 440 miles if we try to avoid it.  More on that later.  Since I wanted time to see Arches National Park we opted to stick it out.  I am glad we did.  Interstate 70 from Salina, UT to where we exited for Moab is the prettiest piece of interstate I have ever ridden on.
We even took time for a bike wash.

Oh and it was hot!!!!f Even at 5,000 feet elevation the temp in Moab when we pulled in around 3PM was 97.  We decided to check into our hotel first the head over to Arches a bit later when perhaps it would be less crowded and cooler.  This way we could cool down and unload.  I would have preferred to be here mid-week instead of a Saturday but it is what it is.
He's a hiking fool!!!
Mini Steve
Big Rock, small bikes
Arches selfie!!

Back to my list of things I need to see next time we do this.  So far I had 8 things so I will add to that list.  Here we go:
9) Bryce Canyon
10) Zion National Park (a gentleman from Quebec said Zion is way better than Arches)
11) Canyonlands National Park

Tomorrow we are off to Dillon, CO.  There is a family friend who is kind enough to allow us to not only sleep at his home but let us change the oil and clean the chains.  We have been faithfully lubing the chains every 500 miles but now that we are around total mileage of 5,000 we want to give them a cleaning.  We are still watching the tires closely.  There are definitely wearing and we are strongly considering replacing them when we get to Tennessee.

Since we want to get into town relatively early we will take a direct route to Dillon which will be mostly interstate.  From there we have to review our plans and see if we want to make any changes.  Still not sure what to do about Kansas.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

18. Day 13 & 14. Orford, OR to Tahoe City, CA & Rest Day

When we left Port Orford, OR on Wednesday we thought it would take 2 days to get to Tahoe City.  As the day went on we decided to make it to Tahoe City in one day.  So we rolled in around 8:30PM to Tahoe City.  I was not too keen on riding that late but it was still light out.  A portion of the last 130 miles was in the Tahoe National Forest so I was worried about deer as well. 

Now to rewind..We started the day in usual fashion.  We claim we will try to get on the road by 7:30 and we actually get on the road about 8:30.  Even though we have gained three hours through time zone changes, we still leave at the same time.  I wonder what will happen as we begin to lose our hours again.

We headed out down the PCH towards the Redwoods.  It was cold.  I had on every layer of jacket and it was cold.  That darn Pacific is cold and foggy in the morning....that's really all I can say about that.

We took that to McKinleyville where we took 299 (aka Trinity Pass) and made our turn east.  It's official we are headed home!!!!  We did not take Grants pass (199) even though it was highly recommended.

When we made that turn east it got hot and it got hot fast.  It was like a desert. So hot that we stopped at the Whiskeytown Lake so I could dunk my shirt and Steve could dunk his evaporative vest in order to be cooler. We went from winter temps to summer temps quickly.  

We did do around 25 miles on Interstate 5 so we could hit route 36 which took us through the Lassen Volcanic National Park. Another new one to me but nice all the same. There is such a marked difference in temp as you increase elevation by 2,000 feet.  We hit 4,000 feet and we felt much better.

And huge pine cones.  Who doesn't love huge pine cones?

I guess this goes to reinforce our decision to cut the Vegas and Grand Canyon leg of the trip.  Those temps are brutal and we like to be comfortable.

Our last 130 mile push was tiring.  It was route 89 which is a really nice road, but I just wanted to make the destination, knowing that Mom was watching the spot map.  She said she like to know that at least I was OK 6 minutes ago.

I had looked up a little motel in Tahoe City which we went to first, but apparently the motel office closed at 8PM so we were out of luck.  This is another occurrence that confused me being a NY'er where everything is open late.  We wound up at the Pepper Tree Inn.  The nice woman who checked us in was also really helpful in getting us some food in a town where everything closes at 9PM.

Since we did two days of miles in one day we decided we would take another rest day.

So we spent today walking around and looking for fish.  We took a nice 3 hour lunch cruise on the Tahoe Gal and had a yummy dinner at Jake's on the Lake.  Jake's was actually recommended to us by a woman we sat with while waiting for Old Faithful to go off.
It's like Caribbean blue

I should start a list of sites we've missed so I have it for next time.  OK, I'll do that now.  I was saying to Steve we need six months to do this so we can spend a 4 days in Yellowstone, 4 days in Yosemite, etc.  Someday.
1. Crazy Horse
2. Yosemite
3. PCH in Monterey-17 miles on the 1 anyone?
4. Grants Pass, CA
5. more redwoods and sequoias
6. Washington State
7. Las Vegas
8. Grand Canyon

If you're wondering Micki and Otto are doing fine.  Mom sends pictures.  We do miss them.
Micki-We miss her!!
Otto - I guess we miss him also.

Tomorrow begins the push to Arches National Park.  This will definitely take 2 days since it is 800 miles away.  Lonliest Highway in America here we come!!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

17. Day 12 = HVMP is OOO

HVMP blogger is currently out of the office....just kidding.

Today was our rest day.  We did some route planning and dealt with some technical issues back at home due to power outages caused by some storms back east.  We did manage to spend some time at the local Port Orford Heads State Park.  They have some really neat trails that go out to the bluffs (is that what you call them?) overlooking the sea.  Port Orford is a historic Lifeboat Station. 

Did I mention that Port Orford is the Westernmost point in the contiguous 48? 

In the later afternoon we walked along the Port Orford Battlerock Beach and I finally stuck my toes in the Pacific.  Wow - that is some cold water.

Steve adjusted the pre-load on his bike and also had the realization that some of the heaviest stuff (such as spare gas, extra chain) was in his top case and moving that stuff to the side bags might keep the bike from being less top heavy.  It only took 12 days but we are figuring this stuff out.  I followed suit.

We are walking back to the same restaurant for dinner to see what the catch of today is!!!

16. Day 11 - Prineville, OR to Port Orford, OR

This was our push to the coast day.  We took the Over the River and Through the Woods scenic route and just made the miles to the coast.  We hit the coast in Florence (my mom's name), OR.  101 is pretty inland so we did not really see the coast until we got to Port Orford.  We generally try to find sleepy towns and Port Orford fit the bill.  I read about a place online called the Castaway By the Sea  where it said all the rooms had views of the Pacific.

We pulled in around 6PM and got our ocean view.  We were able to walk down to the docks to a restaurant called Griff's where we had some fresh caught Ling Cod.  I also had some yummy banana cream pie.

If you like a quiet and charming town I highly recommend this one.  We liked it so much we decided to extend out stay by one night and take  much needed rest day.  I have noticed that while we usually ride 100-120 mile between breaks/fuel/bathroom/food we had been stopping between 70-90 miles.  Some stretches were longer but I think we are getting a bit road weary after 11 days.

Some of the locals at the restaurant told us about some nice places to explore on or day off.  Apparently, Port Orford is turning into a big retirement community.  Since it is well known that I keep the hours of the elderly (awake at 4am and asleep by 8PM) I fit right in. 

We will also spend our rest day catching up on HVMP business and trying to plan a few routes ahead since we officially bagged our southern return.  The Grand Canyon will still be there and I'll get there some day.  Our goal to be in Johnson City, TN on 6/16 so I think we are doing well for time.

Monday, June 2, 2014

15. Day 10 Ketchum, ID (Sun Valley) to Prineville, OR

As the trip progresses the happier I am that I am doing this blog.  Although it is often written at 6am after I tend to anything that has to be dealt with for HVMP (printing shipping labels remotely for my substitute packer) or my other day job, I think in the long run it will help me remember the trip.  I tend to be a forgetful type.  Names, faces I forget it all.  I once said "nice to meet you" to someone I had previously had a lunch meeting with.  When she mentioned what we ate I remember the food but not her or the meeting.  That is why I have taken to using the term "nice to see you" when meeting people I may have already met.

If I try to go back through the past ten days in my head and remember where we slept each night a few are fuzzy.  I remember night one because of the scary dirt road to get to the motel.  I remember Sioux City because of the shady characters, there was a motel 6 but I don't know where.  You get my point.  By forcing myself to crank out a few pics and paragraphs each day, I think I will get a lot out of it in the long run as the days are starting to jumble together.

So yesterday we did around 470 miles (I think).  Since we had headed a bit north to go to Sun Valley we did not have a lot of options for the morning since there are not a lot of roads.  It was either head back the way we came and take the short route towards the coast or head north then come back south and west.

I can't even remember all of the scenic byways and national forest we were in but let me refer to the map to remember.  We continued on 75 north through the Sawtooth National Forest and scenic byway. Was that cold!!  I had to change into my winter gloves and add a windproof layer.  Luckily the Smiley Creek Lodge had some yummy coffee for me and hot chocolate for Steve.  And they take mastercharge!

Then we took the Ponderosa Scenic route (aka rte 21) through the Boise National Forest.  Then we went on 55 along the Payette River (georgeous) and we were in Wallowa-Whitman national forest.  Travelling along the Payette river was fun.  There were a lot of rafters and kayakers out. I can't even imagine how cold it was.

We stop for a snack and gas somewhere in Idaho and met Chip and Queenie.  They were super cute and friendly and I got permission to pet them,  Chip, although smaller is the boss.  Queenie might be the sweetest thing ever.  The dogs owners told us that as nice as Idaho is that we will like Oregon even better.  That's promising.  We spoke to a couple of people about what we were thinking with regard to our Oregon, northern Cali route and I think we are on the right path!

We finally ate lunch at around 3:30 at the Black Canyon cafĂ©.  We felt like we were really in the middle of nowhere.  Being the NYer that I am I assumed a chicken sandwich was a grilled chicken sandwich but after subsiding on peanuts, an apple, coffee and M&M's all day my pressed chicken patty was the best ever.

The highlight of the day was the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.  We were riding along and essentially the mountain opened up and we followed the canyon through it.  We had no idea it was there.  We just happened up on.  The Idahoians (is that what they are called) were right, Oregon is stunning.

The day went a bit longer than we thought it would given the lack of lodging along the way.  Eventually we happened upon Prineville around 7PM PST.  As we were riding I thought "It's getting late, I bet my Mom is tracking us with Spot"- Sure enough as soon as I called her she said "Are you in Prineville?" - She even knew there was lodging there.
$55 for the night.  Awesome.
I also have to give props to my AT&T wifi hot spot.  While most motels tout wifi, generally the signals are crap.  More often than not I have had to use the wifi hot spot.  I have now also had to purchase an extra 5GB of data until my new billing month kicks in in 3 days, but it's been very useful for work and blogging.

Here are some other random shots for the day.  I think I really need to try to blog as I go throughout the day.  I think of so many things to say while riding, but then blank out when I type.  Here are a few more shots from today.