Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Wet and Cool 2017 GR3

GR3 = Great River Road Rally in Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin.

Hosted by the Madison BMW Club and the Soldiers Grove Lions Club in the same lovely setting, Kickapoo River nearby in the Beauford T Anderson Park.  The 'Grove's proximity to the often raging Kickapoo over time has led a great deal of flooding, flooding to the extent that much of the former business district was moved and once those flood waters receded, there was more than one kind of "Green" that occurred.  The Solar Village was a large part of the relocation/rebuild process.
What I can tell you with great certainty is that we motorcyclists really enjoy the park's facilities and the very warm welcome that we receive from the town's residents.

Those of us that MADE the rally weren't all that surprised by those that did NOT....The forecast had been dismal; rainy and very cool.  There were many reminders that not all that long ago, that very valley on Rally Weekend saw a frosty morning (I was in Lincoln, NE with daughter Hanna) that managed to test the gear and sleeping arrangements of the riders.  This year's conditions definitely kept attendance down from near or around 300 last year to this year's reported 155.  Odds were much better for the door prize give away and in our little group of 3 there were 2 winners.

Honestly, without a real detailed arrival plan, Eric and I managed to arrive late Friday morning within minutes of each other.  Too early for registration, we setup in the misty rain before conditions worsened.  My 135 mile trip down along the river was blustery; the last 50 miles wet.  Once tents were up, we were off to seek out some gravel, which we found in nice abundance.


Our weekend's wet conditions were not the start of moisture in the region; it was obvious everywhere we went that big, fast rains had left a lot of devastation around.  We lost count of the driveway slabs across small streams as well as dry ditches that were destroyed or rendered impassable.  Along the great-riding Tainter valley we found a slab so beat up that the road had a big sign stating "Closed" and of course we needed to see why.


Beyond that grassy knoll over to the right, others, not unlike us, were curious about a crossing too.  We were in possession of the technology, so we used it.  As Dave says, "Onward and forward".


It was Garage Sale/Flea Market Mania along the river towns and normally quiet roads were busy with shoppers so we had to have a care.  We found a quiet spot to take a break here.....


A big counter-clockwise loop and the large 6 gallon tank capacity on the KLR had me complacent about a fueling stop.  Suddenly at around the 275 mile mark, I was in need of Reserve for the very first time since I've owned the bike.  I flipped the lever one way and that wasn't the right way.  Quickly rotating the lever the other way, the engine caught again and we managed a fuel stop in Ferryville.  We both filled up but I began to have trouble.  All morning I'd been making nice smooth shifts and suddenly I was struggling to match speeds for gear changes, something I take pretty seriously.  Pulling the clutch in, I found out why.  With an idle speed of 3000 RPM, smooth shifts had become a problem.  Down hill compression breaking was completely gone, causing Eric to wonder why I'd suddenly started to use my brakes on every downhill section and we had a lot of them to go down before we got back to Rally Central.



We made it back to Soldiers Grove but none of my quick fixes were working.  Gas was running out the overflow tube.  Draining the bowl, rapping it gently with the butt of an adjustable wrench nor will power were able to stop the flow of gasoline.

So I parked the bike and it never ran again all weekend.  Saturday's weather made that option only a tiny bit more palatable but it definitely was not what we'd planned for the weekend.  Sometimes that's just how really good plans can go.

There were a lot of things to discuss with the group as there always is.



 Ready for action.....


 Resting.....


Saturday morning early my brother arrived on his KLR that ran and still does....






 I wasn't patient enough to wait for the butterflies to emerge....






 John kicking his rig through a couple of times to give the push button option a head start.  Shortly after 11, John, the teepee and the last 2 other bikes were gone.




By 11:30 it was only the KLR (sort of) still standing.  Bill from the Lions came over and while he hooked on to the trailer with the provided free firewood, we had a nice chat.  Shortly thereafter, my lovely and patient bride arrived with the trailer.  She may very well have taken the bike and left me there but I think she was ready to sit in the other seat and close her eyes for the trip back to Minnesota.

In two short weeks, many if not most of these riders and hopefully many other like-minded folks will gather once again across the river for a Minnesota version at the Hiawatha Rally.

I'll be there.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Bayfield Weekend - 4 Wheels

Up until just a short month or so ago, this first weekend in May was scheduled to be another spring Slimey Crud Run.  It's during this time of year that we've often made a family trip up to the shores of Lake Superior.  The last couple of years Peg's rental of a condo in Bayfield, WI has been on the same weekend as the Slimey Crud Run.  This year I thought it prudent and wise to join the girls, head north on 4 instead of SE on 2.

What's a trip north without a stop at a special Mario promotion at Target for last minute supplies??


We arrived in Duluth just a bit after noon and went straight to the Glensheen Mansion, historical home of the Congdon family.  Completed in 1908 on 22 acres of land, the property is a testament to the great wealth that was being accessed by the early entrepreneurs in northern Minnesota.  Their success came from ground floor involvement in the mining and lumber industries.  I won't go into the details here other than to say the grounds, the home, the successful family and their philanthropy are all quite amazing subjects.  Peg had done the tour last year and I can see why she was very willing to go again and share it with me.

We took the tour that included the 3rd floor, the boys' floor.  The architecture, so many of the home's design features were far ahead of their time.  Amazing thought and planning went into most every detail and I won't pretend to show or highlight anything more than a small sample.  There is a great deal of detailed info available if you're curious, photos and facts, etc.  The family basically willed the home, the property and contents to the University of Minnesota.  Most everything was left as the family had lived with it.

Ticket booth at the end of the parking lot, the Carriage House to the right.


 Carriage House.....




Main entrance.....






 A LOT of Italian marble and a LOT of silver.....


The view from in front of the formal garden.......


 Turning 180 degrees, their boat house which housed their 55' yacht.



After a hearty lunch at Grandma's Saloon in Duluth, we dipped into Wisconsin for the drive along the South Shore, ending up in Bayfield at our condo.

From our deck.....looking lake way.


From our deck, looking uptown.


 Hanging in the hallway.....


 Friday evening in front of our rented condo.....




Saturday was a busy day for the Marina folks, parking lots full of sailboats waiting to get wet.







I try and get up the hill to the Bayfield Carnegie Library each time that we visit.  We made it again but our stay inside was short.....had to make the next ferry over to Madeline Island.



Leaving Bayfield....



 Arriving in La Pointe, Madeline Island.


We saw many signs saying, "Open May 12" both in Bayfield and on the island.  Many businesses were open but just barely.  There was activity everywhere as the business owners were scrubbing, painting, getting things setup for the new season.  The reason we go when we do is for the lower lodging rates and honestly, without ALL of the tourists, we get to see a bit more of the working town, especially once the weekend is over.

Back in the early 2000's when our daughters were attending music camp on the island, I had an afternoon to kill and rented one of these.  When I learned that I'd be joining the girls for the weekend, I right away got online to see if I could rent one again but came up with the same answer...."Open 5/12".  Back then, I hadn't twisted a grip for almost 20 years.


 There are some Free Spirits on the island.....isolation can bring that out.



5 Star dining establishment......If you look closely you'll see the "For Sale By Neighbor" sign.


The park signs are all in both Anishinaabe and English.



  We visit the Town Park (eastern end of the island) whenever we take the car across, something that doesn't happen every trip due to the cost.  The hike along the String of Pearls is worth it though.  We start at the north end (top of this view), walk into the bordering State Park and then around the eastern tip of that park's peninsula where the beach is more rock than sand.

 




 






 Nice walking temperatures but anytime that we were not in the trees, the 40 degree temps and wind made the warm sun almost mandatory.


To the lagoon.....


Looking the other way....


Lauren and I on the rocks....







Storm damage from a '91 wind storm, gusts of over 100mph.

 After a coffee and cookie break in La Pointe, it was back on the ferry to cross the channel to Bayfield.


 Almost back to the mainland.....


You can see our condo unit here through the trees.  The little park commemorates this area that once was strictly the last home of watercraft no longer fit to be on the lake.  Topiary, formal gardens, paths, a bridge over a small pond.....I even took the time to watch tadpoles sun themselves in the shallow water.  A very nice place to sit; I spent time there more than once during our long weekend.



When I got up, I headed down the Brownstone Trail, a collaborative project with lakefront property owners.  The trail follows the old rail line that carried goods back and forth between Ashland and Bayfield.




On the Brownstone Trail, looking back to the south end of Bayfield



 My favorite tadpole pond.....


Early Sunday downtown....Magic Time.





 For those of us that twist, this kind of reminder can make all the difference....Lefty Loosey isn't always the path to success.




I got the impression that it might be a training weekend for the Coast Guard cadets......



Hopefully the girls just missed their sailors' return.....



Sunday our plan was to make a loop, working our way over to Cornucopia.  The Delta Diner our first destination.


 A group of riders from Duluth....



My Spiked Grilled Chez Combo.....jalapeno's in both items.


 Peg's PBLT......perch, bacon, lettuce and tomato.

 

From there on to Iron River, Port Wing, Herbster and finally Corny.



Smoked fish to push back starvation.....







The National Park HQ for the Apostle Islands....



I had seen some of this equipment being unloaded Monday afternoon.  Tuesday morning they were making it go.  Apparently the flags mark footing locations.  The big tapered tube has an auger inside and based on my deductions, the auger assists the "funnel" to go down 15-16 ft.  The loader dumps more rock into the hopper and as the tube backs out a couple of feet at a time, the auger reverses, driving the rock down into the sandy hole.  In those pecks, the tube pushes down, packing the placed stones down into the hole.  It was fascinating to watch.








Getting packed up and ready to head for home.....


 But not before stopping for lunch at Maggie's.....




Such a nice break and almost enough days to really get away.