Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Irish Twins

Below, you read about the latest addition to our family. Donna says from the get-go it was obviously a male. Since he was the color of the golden sun, and he was a little uppity and needed to be conquered, the name Apollo was almost too easy. He has already seen his first road trip, some personalized upgrades, and he's assimilating nicely.

Problem is, we have the same taste, and the FXSTC happens to be my favorite bike, too. I *love* this thing. Donna's been riding it every time we go out, and I have to watch with envy. She's on her big-girl bike, and I'm a big guy draped all over a little Sportster with 70,000 miles on it. A couple weeks ago, we were at the dealership picking up one of the aforementioned upgrades, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but another one in an awesome blue and silver. Not the limited-edition gold leaf thing that Apollo wears, but sweet nonetheless, with some cool chrome upgrades and a nice set of detachable saddlebags.

It was a year older than Donna's, and I could have gotten it for about the same price, but I hate spending money. And we didn't really have room for the last bike, let alone another. But after a week of double-checking prices, and working a deal for winter storage of my current bike, I eventually decided if I could steal it, I'd take the plunge. I called with a lowball offer.

Well, all that did was get me more wound up. Then, that weekend during the dealer's Open House, I was there as a volunteer and ended up watching the bike ridden off by its new owner, who was willing to pay a fair price. Now remember, not only can I certainly not afford a new Harley, they stopped making this model 2 years ago.

I suppose in an effort to console myself by proving that these things are out there, and to prove that this was not the deal of the century and I missed out on it, I began really looking in earnest. I did find a few for about what "mine" was sold for, so it made me feel a little better. If I could get one for a good chunk under market, I'd grab it knowing I could get back out of it without taking a bath. If not, no biggie. Time is money.

And then, just like that, I found it.

It was an auction on eBay, ending the next day, located in South Carolina. As fate would have it (and I have a strong relationship with fate,) I'd already had the day (Friday) scheduled off to use up my PTO days before the holiday rush. I'm certainly not about to spend that much money on something sight unseen, but I was able to book a last-minute flight at a great price, and in a whirlwind of activity, I loaded up my T-Bag with rainsuit, jacket, and chaps, grabbed my helmet, and soon found myself disembarking in Greenville, SC on a sunny Friday afternoon.

Three hours later, I was riding up I-85 on my "new" Envy Green 2007 Harley Softail Custom. (Envy Green: another shadow of fate?) It's the prior year version of the limited-edtion paint thing, color-shifting in the sun and also emblazoned in gold leaf script, and all the chrome accessory goodies that are already on it are also to my taste and didn't cost me a dime. It really was a great deal.

I don't have a name for her yet, and I'm not even sure if she's even going to stay green - I have a line on an awesome tank and fender set. But now Apollo has an Irish twin, and we have as many bikes as we do kids. And despite the fact that it rained half the way home, as you surely assumed, Kevin is smiling ear to ear!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rain For Rent

The title above probably does not ring a bell to anyone reading this, with the possible exception of my dad.  I'll explain later, but these days nothing could be more appropriate.  I'm stealing it.

Two weeks after Labor Day, for the second year in a row, we headed to Ocean City, MD for Delmarva Bike Week.  (Yes, this post is *very* delayed.)  OC Bike Week is already one of our favorites and is pretty much on the calendar permanently, for a couple reasons:

-There is an awful lot to do, spread out over a pretty large radius.  Plenty of adventure for riders, not just sidewalk bikers and trailer queens.
- There are tons of places to party after hours.  It's a beach town.  Some of these bars can entertain hundreds, even thousands of people.  And, there's the drunk bus!
- Being a beach town, there's a natural main drag to see and be seen, instead of wandering through a town making it up as you go along. 
- There's plenty of places to park a trailer.  (Just kidding!)
- Hey, it's the beach. 

Also, half our friends are there.  Even if we don't travel with anyone (this year, we didn't) we always end up with friends; sometimes by design, often by accident.

So this is the first road trip for Apollo, Donna's new Softail (painted in Golden Glow and Black Glow Pearl.)  We load the bags, cinch 'em up, and guess what happens?

That's right... it RAINS.  We look at the radar, poke around, try to find a window, and ultimately just put the damn rainsuits on and ride our shiny clean bikes down the turnpike.  Un-be-lievable.

It stopped somewhere in Delaware, and actually got nice there for a while, but as we shopped at a venue 40 miles out of town, it was not only pouring in Ocean City, there was a TORNADO that came across the strip of sand that makes up the town.  That's right.  Tornado.  In Ocean City, MD.  Un-be-lievable.

That night, we made good use of the drunk bus.  The next day, we made good use of our hotel room and it was late by the time we ventured out.  It had rained during the day, but stopped before we got back on the drunk bus to go out and see an awesome band. 

Saturday we got out early and met some friends for breakfast, and about 10 of us rode to a site in Salisbury, about 20-30 miles out of town.  The forecast was about 35% chance of scattered showers, but of course we all brought our rainsuits.  It started raining as we got there, and continued ALL FREAKING DAY.  We killed as much time as we could before finally throwing in the towel, suiting up, and heading back.  We ended up taking the bus to a seafood buffet and went back to the room early.  Too much fun...

Sunday we got about 20 miles before stopping to suit up.  It didn't rain for the entire 180-mile ride home, but at that point, who even cared?  Seriously, it rained 4 days out of 4.  Between the weather and the number of accidents that are happening to people we know, this year can go to hell and never come back.  Aside from our 2-week trip out west, which was OK but certainly not ideal, weather has killed all of our long weekends and the majority of our short ones.

Rain For Rent was the name of the Coburn and Miller Top Fuel dragster in the 1960's.  The name came not from the fact that it rained everywhere they were booked into for a show, but from the name of an irrigation company owned by their primary backer.  Still, it seems to Donna and me that if you were one of those Texas farmers living through a record drought this year, you could probably solve all your problems by hosting a bike week and paying us to come.  We could make a fortune.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wild West By the Numbers

OK, so that's about it for this year's adventure.  We're glad you rode along, and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.  We'll leave you with some final statistics:

14,130 - feet above sea level

4,954 - miles

418 - pictures

152 - songs on my iPod

umpteen - bottles of water

15 - US states

11 - new Harley shirts

3 - parts replaced on the road (broken oil filler cap, burned out headlight, worn out tire)

3 - parking lot garbage bucket bike washes

3 - bottles of cherry vodka

2 - soul mates

1 - hell of a great time

Things We Think You Should Know

The Great Plains really are plain. 

The difference between Iowa and Nebraska is that in Iowa, there is corn on *both* sides of the road.

When tar snakes bake in the sun all day, they really get your attention when you're leaned into a turn.  They instantly move the bike out a couple inches, and set you up with a nice bobble through the bars.  I don't think they could crash you even if you were stupid, but they sure wake you up.

The "Barnyard" as served in Byers, CO is 3 beef patties, cheese, lettuce, pickle, ham, bacon, and fried egg.  If you eat it all, they will name it after you (ostensibly until the next person does it.)

There is no "Klinger Barnyard" special in Byers, CO.

In many old towns that still thrive, such as Cheyenne, you can ride down Main Street (which is usually a US higway) and take a trip through time as the town expanded.  In the center of town are the ornate brick Hollywood movie sets, with signs painted right on the brick and maybe even with gold leaf lettering in the store windows.  A little further out is 50's glass-block-and-neon architecture.  Keep going, and you hit Wal-Mart.  Neat.

If you are traveling through wide-open spaces, and range is a concern (say, as when you're riding a Sporster with a 3-gallon tank) you're better off staying along the railroad tracks.  Many US highways follow them, and those that do seem to have a much better chance of having had towns spring up along the line.  Sometimes, that's all you need.

In Wyoming, "subdivision" means 10-acre building lots.

Every road has a gate so that it can be closed in bad weather.  Doesn't matter if it's an Interstate highway; they just make it 3 lanes wide.  There's the arm, a flashing light, and a sign that says "Road Closed - Return to ___ (insert town name here.)  That's it.  You're parked - hotel, convenience mart, or not.  Deal with it.

The craziest one was about 50 miles outside the tiny town of Lusk, WY, where US 18 & 85 split.  The sign said, "Return to Lusk." Damn, dude - that was 50 miles back!  If the road's that bad, what makes you think I'm going to get there?

There is a product called Butt Paste.  That's all I have to say about that.

You are much less likely to need tools if you actually carry them.

A motorcyle can lose as much as 10 mpg into a headwind.

There are places where they can close one lane of an interstate highway with absolutely no consequence whatsoever.

Traffic sucks.

Chicks dig cowboys.


In line to pay at a vendor booth at Cheyenne Frontier Days, I ended up in conversation with a newlywed couple who were excited to learn we were from the East Coast.  When I told him we had ridden our bikes, he said they saw the coolest thing near the main gate - a bike from Pennsylvania all rigged up for the road with handwritten directions on the gas tank.

Hello, nice to meet you.

They actually shook my hand.  You'd have thought I was Elvis.  Interestingly, they wouldn't be the only ones to think my magnetic tank bag was the coolest thing since, well, you know.  It's a little console / glove compartment thing that holds the stuff you need to get at and has a clear plastic pocket on the top for maps.  I ordered it out of a catalog.  Honestly.  They make all different kinds.

We're proud of our Iron Butt Association license plate frames that we earned for submitting documentation of our having ridden 1,000 miles in 24 hrs or less.  You don't see them very often.  We like parking side-by-side and looking at them as we walk up to the bikes.  At the Boondocks, the bizarre 50's / Hollywood place in the Black Hills, we pulled in and parked right next to a row of bikes that all had them.  In fact, every bike in the parking lot did.  We watched them notice ours when they left.  We thought that was pretty cool.

Donna went potty at 12,000 feet in Rocky Mountain National Park, and had cool air blow up her ass in the latrine.  She thought that was pretty cool.

It was great to see friends so far from home.

I washed my bike in a torrential lightning storm. In hindsight, that was pretty dumb.

We ate dinner in a whorehouse in Deadwood, SD.

We had Cherry Mash for breakfast one day.

In Crown Point, IN, we toured the jail that Dillinger escaped from.  He stole the sheriff's car to get away.  I got to tell the tour lady that I had just a week ago met the son of the guy who changed points in that car in Missouri.  Also, Donna stood in the exact cell Johnny Depp did when filming Public Enemies.  I still don't think she's quite recovered from that.

Leaving McCook, NE, we didn't get 10 miles out of town when we encountered a *large* deer standing in the middle of the road.  From a distance, I thought it was an ill-placed advertisement because it looked perfect and didn't move.  Donna wasn't expecting me to clamp on the binders, but it took off at the last moment and had no friends following him. 

10 miles later, two 30-lb turkeys were grazing on the left side of the road and decided way too late to lumber skyward on our approach.  The dumb one came right across my path and I nicked him with my windshield.  Donna missed me that time, too.

We waited for things to come in threes, but thankfully, they did not.
Wind turbine blade in transit on I-80


Part of the charm of heading out on the road is the characters one comes across who make a lasting impression on us.  The first one was Gary Parita, from Paris Junction, KS.  He was the guy who owned the restored gas station on Rt 66, and all the relics that made up that panorama.

Looking to be in his 70's, but sharp as a tack, he was a humble man who honestly was glad you took the time to stop in and say hi, and who was happy to tell you about the Mother Road for as long as you wanted to sit and listen.  Which was a long time, because he had so many fascinating things to share.  Over the course of a half hour, he steered us to the most enchanting places along our way, gave us free water or pop or whatever we wanted, and made two new friends.  His daughter said he was the most photographed man in Missouri.  You really should click the Picasa link at right and look at the pictures (Day 3.)

It's becoming a pattern to me that curators of the American past are some of my favorite people.

In Badlands National Park, which for all the world looked and felt like the Arizona desert, we ambled out of the outpost with an honest gallon of water, none of which made it out of the parking lot.  There, we were hooked up with some funky pills by a bohemian California couple in a monstrosity of a rig made out of a gargantuan olive green Mercedes-Benz military truck with a camper grafted to it, a spare tire the size of Godzilla's life preserver, and a Yeti cooler that supposedly could keep ice frozen on Satan's front porch or soemthing like that.  Everything to survive nuclear war, but no air conditioning.  We accepted the handful of Thermotabs graciously, which were supposed to replace all the stuff Gatorade does, without the calories and food coloring.  I took one with every bottle of water that day.  I'm still here.

We also ran into a small group of middle-aged "bikers" in near Devil's Tower, 3 couples riding spotless bikes with out of state plates, all wearing Harley t-shirts from dealers within a 50-mile radius.  We don't like to look down our noses at people, but that always gives us that little smirk.  We go into town and look for the trailer.

Pretty much all the employees at Maverick Cycles in Cheyenne suck.

On Route 66, we kept running into this couple stopping to take the same pictures we were.  We waited and took turns, then we finally struck up a conversation in Red Oak.  They were from Spain and spoke better English than many Americans.  They were on holiday in America, doing the entire route in a rental car.  I think the two dusty, bug-specked bikers added to their experience.

One of the employees at Mile-High H-D saw the back of my Space Coast (FL) Harley shirt, and walked up to ask me if I was from Florida.  I told him no, I'm from Pennsylvania.  He asked where.  Turns out he *used* to live in Florida, but also lived a few miles from us and worked in the Harley dealership just down the pike, where Donna remembered talking to him.  How's that for convoluted?

The alpaca guy, we didn't meet.  But that's probably just as well.

Things That Are No Longer Novel

Things that were neat for a while but no longer capture our fancy:
  • Windmills (the Little House on the Prairie well pump kind)
  • Big Cows
  • Little Cows
  • "You want that in a sack?"
  • Oil Derricks
  • Dirt Roads
  • "No Services Next 75 Miles"
  • Wind Turbines (the Amalgamated Energy Corp kind)
  • Ooh, there's a car coming the other way.
  • ... 30 seconds... Ah, maybe it's just a mirage
  • ...30 seconds... Nope, it's definitely a car coming
  • ...30 seconds... Actually, it's a pickup towing a horse trailer
  • ...30 seconds...  Whoosh
  • ...30 minutes... "Look at the cows"

Memories From the Top Of the World

We got to see a lot of incredibly beautiful scenery over the last two weeks, plenty of historic, offbeat, and significant sights.  It's hard to call one kind of splendor more splendiferous than another, kind of in the same way you love all your kids equally.  But that Friday in the Rockies was really something else.  Awesome by its true defninition - we honestly stood mouth agape in awe of nature's majesty.

Heading out of Denver, there was the WTF? moment of 2 alpacas standing in a passenger van working its way through Boulder traffic.  There was the grandeur of the towering peaks after days on end of grassland; the cool, crisp blue sky after riding through a heatwave.  We rose steadily through canyons, pine forests, crystal-clear lakes of fresh snowmelt, to the awesome sight of peering from rocky peaks thousands of feet down into lush green alpine valleys.  We made snowballs in July.  By the end of the day, 10,000-foot passes and the views they afford had become almost routine.  We saw mountain goats and sheep and God knows what else.  Then, after leaving the National Park, we had a once-in-a-lifetime moment in the tony ski resort town of Winter Park.

Ever since our trip through Maine and Canada, Donna has been obsessed with seeing a moose.  She even made me take pictures of her next to signs warning you not to hit them (as if that's necessary.)  Moose, moose, moose.  Now, here we were again, having just gotten through Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park, and no sign of a moose.  Donna was heartbroken.

Then, as the last traffic light in town turned green and we pulled out, Donna must have subconsciously wondered why no cars had proceeded through in the other direction and instead just sat there.  She looked to her left, freaked out, and yelled for me, a yell I had never heard before.  I turned around to see her eyes as big as golf balls and her mouth wide open.  A moose!  A huge, hairy, freakin' moose! He was just moseying across the intersection like he was going for a Starbucks and to hell with everybody (which, based on his size, was pretty much his prerogative.)  I couldn't buy that moment for a million dollars.  Neither of us could stop smiling.

From there, we went to Mount Evans and up the highest paved road in North America.  We scared ourselves half to death scaling that narrow, cliff-hanging, frost-buckled strip of asphalt, too nervous to look anywhere but straight ahead.  I can't explain the rush of doing that on a bike (or even a car) unless you've done it yourself.  We parked the bikes at 14,130 feet and caught our breath, amused by the mountain goats wandering around where not even crabgrass can survive.  At that point, neither of us was motivated to climb the trail up the remaining 110 feet to the summit.

We've done a lot of cool things, but that was truly an epic day that neither of us will ever forget.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

That Was Quick

OK, here it is 10:00 Sunday night and time for bed.  No updates post, no nothin'.

We got home Saturday, 4,954 miles and two Saturdays after we left, at exactly 5:59 pm - 1 minute early!  Since then, we've managed to unpack, sort the souvenirs, sleep (well!) do all the laundry, grocery shop, clean the bikes, and go through the pictures.  They're not uploaded yet, but you won't have to look at 300 pictures of flat grassland once they are.

I also have a couple more posts, as I usually do, to capture some moments and thoughts that didn't make the real-time updates.  (I actually have some notes in a notebook.)  Check back again over the coming days if you're so inclined.

But at any rate, it's great to be home.  Not so great to be setting the alarm for work after two weeks, but that's what pays for all the fun.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Last iPod Moment

This morning, we packed up for the last time. Dropped the bike in gear, & flipped on the tunes. First song it served up was Bon Jovi -"Who Says You Can't Go Home."

We should be there for supper. And, ya know, it's about time.

Friday, July 29, 2011


We woke in Crown Point to see the news reports of all the overnight flooding there and in Chicago.  Jesus.  After saying our goodbyes, we set out with rainsuits on again, but this time headed directly south (we had planned to take I-80 all the way to Pennsylvania.)

That worked like a charm; we barely got wet, no lightning, and at the first gas stop the rainsuits went back into the bag.  We had one more overnight stop on the way home, and I knew from experience that reaching Columbus would make for a manageable ride home tomorrow.

About 40 miles out, we stopped for gas and it was hot and humid as hell.  We noticed the sky darkening around us a bit.  Sound familiar?

We knew there were a lot of motel options in Columbus.  There were 4 at this exit.  It was after 5:00.  I asked Donna if she wanted to call it a day a little early, and she responded that based on what resulted from her choice two nights earlier, she would abstain.

I figured it would be nice to  not push our luck, get in the 45 minutes earlier, and relax.  We'd still be home in under 9 hours tomorrow.

10 minutes after we checked in, we were sipping a cool cherry vodka iced tea, gazing out the window at a blinding thunderstorm that almost blew the bikes over and washed them away.


Dancing With the Devil

Aside from the heatwave on the way out, we have had pretty good weather - at least, certainly nothing like we've had on our long weekends on the bike earlier this year.

We had a couple of drops of rain each evening we pulled into the hotel in Denver, but they lasted 30 seconds.  We got caught that afternoon in the Black Hills (while our rainsuits were back at the room,) but we sat out the brief hailstorm while enjoying the peach cobbler that it led us to, then we hit a little more an hour later on our way back to Deadwood from Mt. Rushmore.  The worst thing about that was it made Iron Mountain Road wet and drizzly and prevented me from blasting through it leaned way over with footpegs grinding.  According to the shirt I bought from the cobbler lady, it's 17 miles, 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, 4 Presidents (which you get glimpses of from time to time along the way,)  3 pigtails, 3 tunnels, and two splits.  That would have been way fun in the dry, and we didn't have time to go back.


After our night in Mitchell, SD, we needed to overnight somewhere on the way to a date with Donna's co-workers in Crown Point, IN.  (Remember that?)  We had worked our way to the Mississippi as noted in that earlier post, and were heading south along the riverbanks, when rain forced us to suit up.  The worst of it was over by the time we pulled back out onto the road, and we ended up taking them back off in Iowa.

We were shooting for Davenport, but by then had settled for Dubuque and an early start the next morning.  About 25 miles out, we stopped before the on-ramp to the "big road," and did an assessment.  A quick phone call told us a room could be had for a reasonable price in Dubuque.  Here in Dyersville (where Field of Dreams was filmed) were 3 motels, one of which was a non-chain that looked clean and inexpensive.  And things were looking black-ish the way we were heading.  But ultimately, we decided to go for it. 

10 miles later, we were under an underpass at the edge of a downpour, looking directly into regular bolts of lightning.  Rain -  bad.  Downpour - really bad.  High winds and lightning - stupid.  We turned back to Dyersville, only to have another storm closing in on us now from the west.  We poured on the coals, blasted through the rain with our heads down, and made it back.  Got a room and listened to it storm all night.

Next morning, we turn on the news while packing up.  Today's top story:  Dubuque is flooded from 10 inches of record rain overnight!  Bridge across the Mississippi is closed.  Do not go out unless its an emergency.  Many roads in the county flooded or blocked by fallen trees.

WHAT?  So obviously, turning back had been a good call.  But now, could we even get out of there?  And more importantly, dangerous storms and flooding were forecast along the entire corridor we were taking to Crown Point (Chicagoland area.)  Unable to head east to Dubuque, we needed to get south, and continue 100 or so miles past I-80 to I-70 before turning east. 

In order to do that, we had to get on 80 for a few miles anyway.  We left the hotel with rainsuit bottoms on, yet actually had to apply sunscreen because at that moment the sun was breaking through.  We busted our asses to outrun black skies to the west, and got wet on our way to I-80.  But the lightning we saw to our left remained on our left as we turned from south to east.  We really, really wanted to get to Crown Point, and in an act of stupidity decided to continue east on 80 until a storm forced us to stop or turn south immediately. 

Believe it or not, we made it all the way to our destination with little more than a spritz.  It was a ballsy thing to do, but we sometimes do take risks.  It worked out, though, and she caught her network guy hard at work, impressed the boss, and caught up with some folks.  It also enabled us to spend the night with friends, see a car show, play cornhole in a barroom, and tour the jail that John Dillinger escaped from in 1934.  We played the Devil's game and won.

The Great River Road

OK, so we're a couple days behind here.  We're safe and sound, leaving Crown Point, IN in the rain.  I'll go back now and give the post I owe from, uh, whatever day it was.

Leaving the Badlands, we tore across I-90 through South Dakota and Minnesota, and as soon as we got into Wisconsin, we headed south along the Mississippi on the Great River Road.  In Eau Claire, we popped back over the other side into Iowa, shooting for Davenport. More details on that, and yesterday's fun, to come later.

Things got a little funky there with the weather, and have been that way since.  We're changing things on the fly today and heading south back to Indy, from where we will retrace our steps back east.  We had originally planned to continue from here on I-80, but the weather is forcing our hand.  Either way, it's Interstate, and we've seen both routes more than once so it's really no big deal.  We'll go with "dry."

I will try to update again from the road, and there are lots of pix and a bunch of neat little anecdotes that I will catch up on over the weekend.  This has been a great, great trip, 4100 miles so far heading into the home stretch.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Yesterday, we packed up our filthy bikes and headed out of town fairly early.  The sky was gray again and spit a drop or two on us every now and then.  After breakfast on the hallowed grounds of Main Street, Sturgis ( there are bikes in town already; 2 weeks before the rally) we jumped on I-90 and started to make tracks.  Next stop:  Wall Drug Store, in Wall, SD.

This is not quite a drug store - at least not anymore.  They started out in the 1930's giving out free ice water to travelers (which they still do) but have evolved into an enormous attraction.  To us easterners, it's kind of like South of the Border in Dillon, SC, but with a Frontier theme instead of cartoonish Mexican.  You should google it.

By now, the sun was out in force, and those leather jackets needed to get back to traveling as freight and not outerwear.  We headed directly south into Badlands National Park, which was just amazing.  This also took longer than I anticipated (Klinger Time) so we got back on I-90 with the Minnesota line a longshot. We battled heat and massive crosswinds, lost an hour to Central Time, and by the time we crossed the Missouri River, we decided it's time to look for a room.

That's how we ended up in Mitchell SD, home of the world's only Corn Palace.  Who would have thought in this great big world of ours, there would only be one Corn Palace?

We ordered a pizza, did a garbage-pail bike wash in the parking lot while our clothes were washing, and downloaded the pictures from the camera.  I'll get them up ASAP, I promise. For now, we have a lot of ground to cover today - it will probably be the longest riding day of the trip.  And we have a palace to see.  And I'm sitting here blogging.

That is all.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dead Presidents

After checking into the Iron Horse and cleaning up a bit, we headed out into the cobblestone streets to rustle us up some vittles.  We ate dinner in an old whorehouse, and ended up cashing in our chips pretty early.

The weather is still terriffic; the only time rain even threatened was the two evenings we pulled into the hotel in Wheat Ridge, CO.  Monday, (after writing the previous post) we headed into the Black Hils with a light load and a sense of adventure.  We found a neat outpost just outside town, full of old cars, Hollywood memorbilia, and collectible kitch of all kinds.  From there, we went to see the Crazy Horse monument, and spent a lot longer in the visitor's center than planned (this is one of the foundations of Klinger Time.)

As we headed down Needles Highway (amazing) and realized we wouldn't have time for the wildlife loop, we noticed the puffy clouds above were starting to get a little dark on the bottom, and they were starting to get together and circle the wagons.  Within a few minutes, the roads became wet.  Then, I got pelted in the thigh by a stray hailstone.  Things were looking pretty bleak in the direction we were headed, and sure enough at the next intersection, a park ranger in a truck leaned out to us at the stop sign, and said, "might want to head south - big hail up that way." 
Of course, "light load" meant our rainsuits were about 75 miles away.  What resulted was one of those unplanned discoveries that so often happen on the road.  The shelter we sought was 1/2 mile to the south in the form of a camp store / cafe / gift shop.  It was there, with hail pinging off the metal porch roof, that we lucked into an indescribably good peach cobbler ala mode and a cup of coffee while waiting for said hailstorm to pass.  I also got a nifty shirt.

After a bit, we took off up Iron Mountain Road for Mount Rushmore.  This was an awesome ride, wet and treacherous but with very little rain actually falling on us.  We stopped for a picture, declined another park admission fee (would have been the third of the day and it was getting late) and headed back to Deadwood.

By now, it had been mostly black everywhere, but looked to be clearing to the west as we headed northwest for Deadwood - still 50+ miles away.  Here, we did get rained on moderately, but our legs were soaked through from the tires, and we were actually cold most of the time.

We got back to town just as the sun came out to dry the streets.  Tonight, we hit the buffet at the Silverado, drank our way to Saloon No. 10, and escaped with $50 from their blackjack table.  That's good shootin', pardner.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Deadwood, SD

Tonight, we are in Deadwood, South Dakota, in the Iron Horse Inn about 500 yards from where Wild Bill Hickok was shot in the back playing poker in in Saloon Number 10 in 1876. 

We're running out of adjectives here, but this place is really, really cool - an actual Old West town more or less the way it appeared 100 years ago right down to the cobblestone Main Street.  The entire town of Deadwood is on the National Register of Historic Places, the only town with that distinction.

We left Torrington this morning and headed north to Devil's Tower, the first National Monument in the United States.  This was the de facto "destination" of the trip; not because we needed to get to it more than Route 66, or the Rockies, or the Sturgis motorcycle rally (but definitely more than the World's Largest Ball of Twine.)  The reason it was the destination was because it was somewhere we'd never been, that we could get to and from in two weeks.

And so, as we headed away from the tower and Wyoming Route 24 made its turn eastward out of Hulett with 2,830 miles on the tripmeter, we officially began to head home. 

Not that there's nothing left to do but run.  We have another night here before leaving town, and there's still a lot to see before we jump onthe interstate in Indiana with our heads down and the throttle cables stretched tight.

It's getting late, so the pictures will have to wait one more day until tomorrow.  At least we have them this time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Wild, Wild West

Tonight, we are in Torrington, WY - about 200 miles north of Denver.  In between, we spent the better part of the day in Cheyenne.

It's Frontier Days there in Cheyenne; the greatest celebration of Western life anywhere.  We didn't have a great experience at Cheyenne Harley-Davidson (but that's a story for later,) and we were frustrated with how slowly the ticket line moved at the Frontier Park grounds.  But that stuff aside, it turned out to be another great day nonetheless.  The rodeo is the "Daddy of Them All," in its 115th year.  I had never seen a rodeo, and I don't think I've ever even touched a cow.  But  I do know a bunch of country songs :-)

So we spent the day watching bull ridin', steer ropin', and all kinds of other cool stuff.  There isalso a neat Indian Village, complete with tepees, a trading post, and Native American dancing exhibitions, etc.  The flute music is ethereal.  There were plenty of city slickers there, so we didn't stick out by any means.  We took off around 5, and got here to Podunk about 6:30.

The weather is great.  Even down off the mountains, it was in the low 80's and sunny today.  When we pulled in to our hotel in Denver on Thursday night, we got like 3 drops of rain on us, and when we returned to the same place Friday night, we got 3 more.  The sun was out in both instances, so it was never a question of if we were going to get soaked at any time. 

We're back on schedule again also.  We were never really behind, but that short day leaving Kansas City in a heatwave cost us an extra day in Denver.  Instead of returning after Frontier Days, we instead had the bikes loaded and continued north afterward.  We're planning 2 nights in the Badlands before heading east in earnest.

NOTE:  We seem to have fried the memory card in the camera.  There were 2 days' worth of pics on there, including some incredible shots from 14,000 feet.  We're hoping to salvage them somehow when we get home, but for now we have a new card in there and all of today's images are good to go.  I just have to get around to uploading them.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Rocky Mountain High

We have spent many, many days in the saddle of a motorcycle.  Today was the best one.  Ever.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Photos posted

Just figured out that the albums were not made public... We're still 2 days behind, but we'll catch up soon.

FRIDAY UPDATE:  Our memory card seems to be fried.  This a major issue.  We're going to buy a new one and mess with the other when we get home, but for now, we don't have a set of pictures that we thought would be very cool.

High Plains Drifter


Today was one of those days that we talk about when people ask us why we do this. Woke up before the sun today, got fueled up and out of town before 8, and made up another hour with the time zone change about 20 miles down the road. Despite temps already in the mid-70's, we roared out onto the plains cool, comfortable, and recharged with the morning sun low and at our backs.

Somewhere in Colorado, among gentle rolling hills dotted with grazing cattle, a grain tower off in the distance reflecting the morning sun, and with the bright blue sky above, the iPod gave me one of those moments. I *love* the Dixie Chicks' "Wide Open Spaces," and with all the various tuneage shuffling around in there, I had only heard it once so far - days ago. But right then, it sort of froze everything in time, and became one of those moments that will remain forever burned in my memory. I looked at Donna, she smiled back at me, and all was right in the world.

With my limited range, I had planned gas stops the night before based on the map, hoping those little dots had gas stations. As we worked our way westward, the elevations got continually higher, and the populations, lower. Before we got into Colorado, we were staring across dead-flat land that was way higher in elevation than the 3213-ft highest point in Pennsylvania we had just visited and posted below. Some of these towns had barely 100 people in them, yet they appeared on the map. Last Chance did too, with one fallen-down building and as far as I could tell, a population of approximately zero. My analysis was right, however, and when we left Brush, CO after topping off with just over a gallon each, we hung a right on State Route 81 and read the following warning: "No gas next 75 miles." There you have it. Had there been no sign and had we not topped off, we'd have been using the turkey baster.
You did figure out that's what it's for, right? That's another tip I had gotten from a good biker friend, (thanks, Scoop!) but fortunately never had to employ. Donna not only gets 50 mpg to my 40, her tank also holds a gallon more than mine. Sharing is caring! Leaving Kansas City the other day, I had expected to find gas at the lunch stop, only to be denied. We got back on the "big road," and sweated bullets hoping for salvation. At the next exit with gas, I put 3.25 gallons into a 3.3 gallon tank. Do the math: that's about a tenth of a mile. I'd rather not do that again.

Anyway, sure enough, 70-some miles later, we're pulling into Byner, CO for gas and lunch. We found a little restaurant, walked in, and quickly realized we were the ONLY PEOPLE NOT WEARING COWBOY HATS. You can't really take a picture of that. You're just going to have to take our word for it.
We got back on I-70 there (remember I-70?) about 45 miles outside Denver. Let me tell you how awesome it was for us to, almost suddenly, watch the snow-capped Rockies rise into view ahead of us after 1000+ miles of the country's heartland. Just an incredible feeling. We stopped at a dealership for a headlight bulb, and checked in just west of downtown Denver in Wheat Ridge. It's early yet, so we're in the Starbucks across the street while our laundry is spinning. We're going to be here tomorrow night again, so we're planning to spend the day crossing 12,000-ft. mountain passes. Should be more stuff for the "awesome" folder.

2100 miles so far. Weather is getting better and trending.

Bumblefork - via County Road

Another interesting thing from today:  seems like most routes that are not state or federal highways are dirt roads in these parts.  Where they meet the "paved road," there are sometimes signs pointing the way to the next town, with the mileage shown and then underneath in small letters, "VIA COUNTY ROAD."

One of them, off US-136 I believe, said 25 miles.  Twenty- five miles over a dirt road!  Seriously?

Also, check out the pricing fail:

Guess what we went with?

Yeah, But It's a Dry Heat

This morning, reveille was at 06:00 hours, and we had the kickstands up not long after 7.  We really had to cover some map, and this was the only sensible way to beat the system.  It worked; by 10:00, it was still only 90, and we had more miles logged than we did the entire previous day.  We got through Cawker City, where Donna had the thrill of a lifetime, (click on photo above) and then passed through the geographic center of the United States in Lebanon KS before popping up into Red Cloud, Nebraska.
We continued west through the Cornhusker State, and ended up here in McCook early in the afternoon.  The UPS guy from the last gas stop 60 miles out told us to find the bakery and order a sandwich on their otherworldly rolls, and also told us there were a couple motel chains in town, and even where to get dinner.  That gas stop was about 1:00, and the mercury was reading an even 100.  When we looked at the map over lunch and estimated our odds at finding a place to stay anywhere within a reasonable distance beyond McCook to be about nil.  So, Days Inn, it is.

The last two days, I mentioned to Donna how amazing it was how there was so little humidity.  You can tell, because the glare in the chrome is so much sharper, like it is in the fall.  The Weather Channel confirmed my observation; it was 99 and 30% humidity when we threw our bags into the room.  Since we live in the Lehigh Valley and the only time I was in Las Vegas was in December, I have had to listen to all those people that say, "Oh, but It's a dry heat.  Or, "It's not the heat, it's the humidity," and I've had to keep my mouth shut, because I've never experienced a summer day with less than 97% humidity.

Well, sorry, but I'm calling bullshit.  100 degrees is frickin' hot.  Period.

We're heading for Denver tomorrow, and they're saying it will only get to the low 90's.  That'd be great, but we've got the alarm set for 6 anyway.  We're still pretty much on schedule, still lovin' life, and looking forward for it to get even better.  After all this flat, hot farmland, seeing the Rockies come into view should be pretty awesome.

In the meantime, if you like cows and corn - have I got the ride for you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

You Can't See Brooklyn From Here

Tonight we are in Manhattan, Kansas, home of the K-State Wildcats, and a whopping 158 miles from where we started this morning.

Today was a "workday" for both of us.  Donna is evaluating some manufacturing software at her job, and it just so happens that one of the major manufacturing players already using it is Harley-Davidson.  The rep sees Donna's Harley stuff in her office and asks if she would like him to set up a meeting with the engineers who run it in the plant in York and see it in action?  Well, we're going on vacation, so "no."  But if you could work out Kansas City next week, well, that would be great!

Done.  So, we rode our Sportsters back to the place they were born for an 8:00 with John Willis, who led us to his office and on a personalized tour through the plant and the various work cells.  We were 100 feet from the 2012 models, which are top-secret until the official release on Friday, but we couldn't convince him that we had no use for the inside info, and certainly would never put anything like that on the web!  So, no sneak preview.

After that, we headed the 10 miles to the MetLife Kansas City office for a long-overdue visit with some folks I work with but haven't seen in a long time.  From there, we went to lunch at the BBQ joint I wanted to have dinner at the night before, which is a really neat biker-themed place full of Orange County Choppers, antiques, and, oh yeah, great Kansas City Barbeque.  http://www.backfirebarbeque.com/

By now it's after 1:00, we are exactly 10 miles west of where we started, and it's 100 degrees again.  Not wanting a repeat of yesterday, we agreed on a reasonable goal that we could make in a couple hours, and here we are in Manhattan.

That worked out great - the ride here was hell and couldn't end quickly enough.  We dragged our asses into town, crawled into a Wendy's and ordered a Frosty and a gallon of lemonade, and booked in at the Comfort Suites right next door while we were sitting there.  So we were in the pool by 4.  Once our core temperatures stabilized, we were able to get gas, a turkey baster, replacements for a broken pair of sunglasses and an empty bottle of cherry vodka, all within a 3-block radius, and then walk for a BBQ and a beer.  A happy ending in KevAndDonna land.

I'll tell you about the turkey baster and why it's part of our packing list some other time, but it was the one thing we forgot this time, we just didn't get to procuring one yet, and I was about 2 minutes from desperately needing it today.  So we were getting one, one way or another, and with the heat it was nice that the Wal-Mart was right across the street.

Tomorrow will be funny.  And hot. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

One Hundred Seven

Well, *that* was quite a day. 

As detailed below, we had a little bit later start today.  That sounded real good at 8:30 when we were eating breakfast.  We set out about 9:30, clipping the corner of the Ozarks on I-44, before picking up the ghost of Rt. 66 again just past Springfield.  Little did we know we'd just be pulling into tonight's hotel with the same thing displayed on our watch. Eating lunch at the "It'll Do Diner," we came to terms with the fact that getting through to Oklahoma and back up to Kansas City in time for dinner was pretty much not going to happen.  I called to make a status report, and got us off the hook for our dinner plans.

We then lucked into an awesome afternoon of sightseeing and batting the breeze with one of the most entertaining and interesting people we've ever met in Paris Springs at the Sinclair station.  Had we not decided to make a u-turn, we'd never have had met Gary, and we'd have about 50 less pictures.

Following 66 into Joplin, we came to a chilling scene we will remember forever.  Coming from the north, everything looked like a normal Midwest town of 16,000 people.  Cresting a rise at about 20th street, the scene changed almost instantly to a war zone.  We were awestruck by both the destructive power of the tornado, and the precision with which it struck.  Just two blocks away there was no sign of damage.  But the tornado's path was wide, and ruthless. 

We continued on 66 through the 12 miles that pass through Kansas and into Oklahoma, just to say we were there.  A few miles down the road, we turned back toward Kansas and made a beeline for KC. 

Did I mention it was 107 degrees through all this?

We drank probably 2 gallons of water today and dumped at least that much over ourselves.  I employed the old biker trick of taking off my shirt and soaking it, which works amazingly well at cooling you down at at speed, until 3 minutes later when it's completely dry again.  The last leg northward, through untold miles of nothingness, was unbearable.  And I blame Donna entirely, because she said after all the rain we've ridden through this year, she didn't care if it was 100 degrees every day, as long as the sun was shining and she was getting a tan in her spaghetti strap top. 

Ask, and ye shall receive.

But honestly, we have a strict 'no whining' rule, and we both held up our end of the bargain, just like always.  The alternative was to go nowhere and see nothing, which to us isn't much of an alternative at all.  Right now, we're both cool, clean and happy, even if dinner did come out of a vending machine in the lobby and our gummi bears are melted into one big blob.  We're ready to give it another go tomorrow, but I can tell you that we'll be off the road *much* earlier.  Even though excused from dinner, we had to keep plugging to get here because of an appointment tomorrow.  Check back in and see what it's all about.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gettin' Our Kicks

I'm pretty sure this title was used for another post somewhere back in the archives.  Maybe even two, if you go back to my old blog.  But, hey, what else would you call it?

We're in Rolla MO, about 100 miles down the Mother Road from St. Lou.  Old Rt. 66 has been decomissioned long ago, but we're finding traces of it as we pop on and off I-44.  (I know I said just below that we'd be on I-70 for days.  We're doing well enough that we could afford the detour to see some sights, and we're headed down 66 to Joplin, a peek into Oklahoma, and then up to Kansas City and back on I-70

This post was almost titled "Kevin Goes to White Castle" because I was in a tizzy Saturday night when we had stopped at a neat Mexican place, only to end up checking into a hotel RIGHT NEXT TO A WC.  Now, we don't have many of these things back home, and I absolutely love them.  I almost ate twice.

But we stopped for gas today in Terre Haute, and it was lunchtime, and I ended up with my sliders at the very next meal.  So everything is OK, no need to call for help, thanks.

It's HOT - After a great start, yesterday was the kind of hot where it's 8 am and you're sweating while loading up the bikes.  Oh well.  Donna said after all the rain we rode through this year, and freezing in July, she'll take hot, humid, sunburn without a whimper.  And she's true to her word.  We both are happy as clams.  We'll see if it lasts.

We got in kinda late again Sunday night, but at about 4:00, we called ahead to book a hotel with a pool, so we at least had that to look forward to.  And we got to see the World's Largest Ketchup bottle and Largest Rocking Chair, so I mean, it was worth it, right? It was about 9 when we got out of the shower, fixed a cocktail and took a dip, and that's after gaining an hour during the day.  We hung out with some 8-year old kid and his Grandpa, who we bedazzled with our tales of adventure while our body temperatures stabilized. 

So here we are behind the 8-ball already for today; I still have to shut laptop down and pack everything up. Our hopes of getting some miles in before the heat really gets going are dashed.  We have a room booked for tonight, and "only" about 325 miles to cover, so we're good. Check back tomorrow for some pictures.

Enjoy your day at work!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Richmond, IN

Beautiful day, 0% humiditiy, and no holdups.  We were hoping to cover a lot of ground today, and we actually got 50 miles more than we'd hoped; 560 today.

Today's funny moment:  Donna usually asks me at gas stops, "what's next?"  I give her the towns we're heading for, routes, turns, etc.  This gets her "engaged" to use a corporate-speak term, but more importantly, she can pull up alongside me and smack me if I'm daydreaming and miss a turn.

So after one tank (110 miles) we're fueling up before getting on the PA Turnpike, and she asks, "what's next?"

I tell her, "Well, we're getting on the turnpike here, then in Breezewood, I-70 will merge in.  When they split, we'll keep to I-70 and stay on that for a couple days."

That oughta be easy.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wagons West!

It's almost time for KevAndDonna's annual week on the road.  This year, we're having a double-coupon special:  We're going to visit the Wild West, and take two weeks to do it.  Our crazy week is progressing along nicely, the bikes are ready, and we're on target to hit the road first thing Saturday.

Our itinerary is just a rough framework, taking us to Wyoming via Kansas, and back home through South Dakota, Iowa, and on eastward.  We're planning to hustle like crazy the first couple days and then again the last couple days, and in the middle we hope to
be able to stay in the same place once or twice to slow down the pace and smell the flowers.

We'll pass the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, cross the Continental Divide a few times in Colorado, spend a day at a rodeo in Wyoming, and then spend some time in the Badlands before heading east.  We're also both planning to visit friends from work that are based in places we'll be passing through.

Cross your fingers for us that all the rain chronicled below is payment in advance for 2 weeks of sunshine, and that we'll have good luck and no mishaps along the way.  In return, we promise that we'll update this as often as we can (but not every day) to let you know where we are and what kind of neat stuff we've come across.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Disaster Tourism

Saturday morning, we rode to the same little place for breakfast, because damn, we've never had homefries like that before.  And, it's half the price of the buffet at the Holiday Inn.  Our timing was perfect; we got there just as the V-Max club was saddling up to leave.  Always loved those things since Yamaha introduced them in '85.  They're some badass hot rods - the original musclebike in many eyes.

The forecast was a little better, but you'd never know it sitting there.  Our agenda for today was the Quecreek Mine rescue site, a ride to the highest point in PA, and a stop at the Flight 93 Memorial .  I had wanted to visit Fallingwater and maybe Kentuck Knob, two neat Frank Lloyd Wright-designed houses, but decided they had to wait for another day.

The mine rescue site was really neat, and the farmers who own the site have a ton of artifacts and stuff, which they're happy to describe in as much detail as you'd like.  Nice people.  Leaving Quecreek, I realized I needed not only my leather jacket, but the sweater I'd left behind in the room.  No lie.  I had to stop at Wal-Mart and buy one, which isn't a simple thing to do the week of the summer solstice.  We got to the top of Mount Davis, and at the base of the lookout tower I could see my breath.  June 25.  Seeing my breath.  What.  The.  ????

We endured the day's ride wondering when the cold, gray sky would spritz on us again, and it continued to answer us periodically.  We visited the Flight 93 temporary memorial, and then, chilled and tired, we headed back toward Johnstown.

It was then that each of us came to a realization.

I love nothing more than strapping that pack on the ol' girl and riding off into parts unknown.  Now I am doing it with my princess right alongside, and I just can't describe how good that feels to me.  I can honestly say that I have everything I want. I can also say that I don't mind a rainy day now and then; and in fact sometimes it's actually kind of neat all nestled in my little cocoon with the rain pinging off me and the windshield as people look at us like we're crazy.  (Crazy?  Us?)

But honestly, right then I was just plain sick and freaking tired of riding my motorcycle in and out of rain.  Even when it's not actually raining, you're looking up wondering.  It's on your mind.  When it starts, do you pull over and suit up, or will it be brief?  I never feel as dumb as I do after guessing wrong and putting a rainsuit over soaking wet clothes.... Or, in places where you just missed the rain, your boots and legs are soaked from the wet roads.  The bike has been cleaned 4 times in the last month and is filthy again.  I'm freezing.  I had had enough.  For the first time that I can ever remember, I just wanted to park the damned thing and do something, anything, else.  For this reason, I cannot entitle a blog entry a "Flood of Good Times."

Donna's realization, which she shared later on, was that we'd basically spent two days in the area looking at historical sites that are based upon some kind of disaster or other.  And, she's right.  Kind of weird for the vacation bureau to have to say, "Come visit us and see all the calamity for which we're famous!"  And of course, there's so much more beauty and legacy there, but what's the first thing everybody goes to look at?

Just outside town, the sky got lighter and we stopped at a genuine bikers-in-a-field party with all kinds of freaks and hairies doing all the freaky things that happen at those sorts of things.  We were too late to sign up for the bike games that I love to do, so we watched the slow race and keg roll, etc. and left in the middle of the weenie bite.  Saturday night was pretty lively in town, and we spent our last night finishing up the booze and watching all the action.

Sunday morning, we hit the road (after our daily breakfast at the Corner Coffee Shoppe,) and never did a mostly-cloudy day look so good.  On the way home, I thought again about how cool it is to be able to do this stuff with my parents, and how good a set of traveling companions we all are - which you're probably sick of reading about by now.  But if you could have seen Mom and Donna laughing and carrying on like a couple teenagers that first night, soaked from the knees down from splashing around in a water puddle in front of the stage, you'd probably have to agree.

Photo Album

She'll Be Comin 'Round the Mountain

I was looking forward to titling this post "A Flood of Good Times" or some such play on the great Johnstown Flood. And it was a good time, don't get us wrong. And we did get to the site of the breached dam, and all the historical exhibits about that fateful day in 1889. But...

We go to these bike week things to party, yes, but we don't wake up at 11 and start drinking. We are there on the bikes, so we're gonna ride 'em. Take in the sights, do the tourist thing, and do some cruising around on our days off. Then, we always pay the premium (read: price gouging) rate for the hotel room in town, so we can park the bikes, and *then* act like idiots.

Which we do pretty well.

Anyway, back to the "but." Once again, we had the rainsuits on during the ride out. Not the whole way, but still... We got the lay of the land, then came back and worked our way into a bottle of Jose Cuervo, and danced to some good music between showers. The next day (Friday) was looking like more rain than Saturday, so we decided to stay "close to base," and did the flood stuff (actually 15 miles out of town) before moving on to some transportation history where the "way west" in the early days was blocked by the mighty Alleghenies. The South Fork Dam, which broke to flood Johnstown, is tied into that history as well, along with the Portage Railroad, Gallitzin Tunnels, and Horseshoe Curve, all of which we also visited Saturday.  In the rain.  Ended up wet and 40 miles from "home" instead of 65. Way to take the safe route.

Interestingly, we happened upon something that railfans come from all around to see but rarely do. Horseshoe Curve has 3 sets of tracks that carry trains up the long grade over the ridge. Pusher locomotives based in Altoona help them up and then brake them down the other side. If you visit long enough, you'll probably see a train.  Since we paid to get in, we decided to climb the steps to the viewing area, and within 2 minutes, a train was heard climbing the grade. Then, lo, along the downward slope came another. Wouldn't you know it, they met head-to-head directly in front of us at the center of the horseshoe, where your valiant reporter snapped a photo. So, two bikers who couldnt have cared less happened to record something that probably would have made a rail buff's whole vacation but will never get to see. Then, while those two trains were clanking by, a heavy coal train came around the bend, slowly and deliberately making its way down the grade. Trains on all three tracks. Neat.

So, we spent the day seeing what an ordeal it was to cross the mountains in days gone by (the Portage Railroad shortened the trip from Philly to Pittsburgh from 26 days to nine!), something you never think about as you zip through the tunnels on the turnpike at 70 miles per - or fly over them at 500. We got back kind of late, and found ourselves with some partying to catch up on.

Which we did pretty well.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Party Time

Work has been hell lately.  The 16-month project I've been working on was deployed last weekend, and as is always the case, the last few weeks have been a flurry of activity, late nights, and stress.  You knew it was coming.  We've also had a lot with graduation, etc., as you see.

We also knew *this* was coming:  Thunder in the Valley in Johnstown, PA.  The way the schedule worked out, this was going to be perfect timing; the perfect opportunity to kick back and blow off steam.  Our usual haunt, Gettysburg Bike Week, has changed venues this year, and we decided to let others tell us how it works out.  We've always heard great things about Johnstown, and you can only do so many things.  We decided this is the year.  I'm finishing up my coffee and we're firing up the bikes.  Check back next week to see how it went!

P.S.  Rainsuits again.  WTF?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A New Addition to the Family

Suddenly, we find ourselves with our 1st-generation kids grown, and us now totally free of our exes.  We already know how good we are together, and we are looking forward to spending the rest of our lives inseparable.  We also know that the time is getting short.  We are in the prime of our lives, and from here our opportunies for many things gets only dimmer.  Right now, our financial situation is sorting itself out nicely.  Our health is still good.  So we've been thinking.  Donna asked my opinion, and together we decided it's time to make a move.

You gotta admit, those Softail Customs are some hot-lookin' bikes.  Kind of like my late-model Mustang, where I knew the first time I laid eyes on it that it would be my next car whenever that day came.  Donna had that same reaction when the FXSTC was introduced, and the urgency was ratched up when was the model was discontinued in 2010.  We make most of our purchases in the used vehicle market, and we know you can't order your color, your options, and nothing is in mint condition anymore.  Mileage can be low, high, or off the chart.

We've been doing our homework, we accidentally (we swear) ran across a number of used ones that made us pause, she even test rode one, but due to circumstances nothing made Donna pull the trigger.

Saturday, she did.  We were at the dealership where I'd volunteered to help park cars for a show, when there in the showroom, glowing like the sun among weeds, was The Bike.  Literally.  Limited-edition Golden Glow paint, 3,900 miles, six-speed, and even a new set of tires.  For all intents and purposes, it's as close to a new bike as you can get, and she negotiated a price that was better than less-desirable examples we've seen.

I stopped trying to dissuade her.  If you're ever going to do it, you're going to settle for something less, look back at today, and realize you blew it.  Carpe Diem!

We still have no place to put it long-term, but at least we know where we are with the kids, etc., and hey - they got nice graduation presents, right?  We stacked up some stuff in the shed, made just enough space, and rolled her in.  The kid can't get the lawn mower out now, but what the hell.  We'll work it out.
You didn't really think we were having a kid, did you?  We're bold, friends, but not stupid.  We solved that problem long ago.