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.

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.