Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Yesterday afternoon turned absolutely lovely; local temps were in the mid-50's and people were out enjoying themselves.  Today's just-above-freezing temps and strong NW winds remind that winter still has a strong grip on what has to be the eventual change.

Peg has been 'cooking' these cupcakes and I'd really like to say that I helped......  I am just about ready to start cooking for this afternoon's meal but will have to come up with something else for our desert......

They would have loved some Easter afternoon sun, but that isn't absolutely necessary to be comfortable......

Friday, March 29, 2013

Woodpecker Dance - Twitterpated??

March 6, 2009

First, the still shot.....

And the video....

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Restless Night, Abrupt Morning

My employer is doing a major renovation to our Machine Shop; walls torn down, floor space expanded with reinforced floors for some new, heavier machines.  A midst the resulting chaos, many pieces of equipment are in very temporary locations (with even more temporary hook-ups).  One of those pieces of equipment is a water blaster that we use for cleaning parts.

Since the usual access to water has been removed, we've hooked up a temporary water access to an outside  faucet, complete with garden hose.  Recent daytime temps left us complacent about properly leaving our setup ready for the overnight dip back to freezing temps and it dipped to the mid-20's.  Added to that were other complications that made simply pulling everything inside difficult.

As a result, I worried about it all night, concerned that at the very least, the hose would be frozen solid (split?) for today's necessary parts cleaning.  Worse than that was my concern about a frozen spigot and possible breakage.  So all of that made for poorer sleeping than was necessary.

Mrs. Coop gets up weekday mornings before I do; her Morning Procedures a great deal more extensive than mine.  Even with my slowed down simple preparations, I have to drag my feet to avoid leaving each morning without my commuting partner.

I almost always hear the shower running, allowing me a graceful lift from my slumber.......

"Coop, there's no water......"  was how we started out this morning.  I struggled to focus on who's water issues I was planning contingencies for all night.  Up and on with the grubbies, checking breakers, listening and watching for a leak anywhere.

By the time I got to the front door with my coat on, I had two ideas, one of them far more probable than the other.  I checked the easy one first, relieved and frustrated to find that the problem lie elsewhere.  With flashlight in hand, it was out in the paddock where the horses no longer play to our fountain waterer.  Sure enough, even before I got there, the sound of cascading water was evident.

In the 100 yards to the basement to turn everything off, then back out to the paddock for a closer inspection (since I was up so early, I had time for inspections).  I've been inside the unit enough times to grab the correct couple of tools to give me access.  Once the water was no longer flowing, it looked pretty obvious and at least was encouraging that the problem was up and out of the ground rather than down, deep below.

I HAD to go to work today to deal with my 'real' water problem and asked Peg if she was willing or able to go along or if she wanted to stay home and let me head up on my own.  She hadn't brought her laptop home.  We both jumped in the car and headed to the city, luckily for our indoor felines, their water bowl had been filled last night.

I will admit that I did not shower this morning.  I won't confirm or deny whether Mrs. Coop did.  She was a little grumpy on the commute this morning though.

Can you find the problem?

Mrs. Coop is bathing in luxury as I Post this.......

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Halloween Day Trip to Bayfield

My 2nd annual version in 2007, typically a very nice 475-500 mile trip at the end of October.

A very quiet Bayfield, the Apple Festival tourists long gone.....

Emil Road on the Red Cliff Reservation.....

Halvorson's in Cornucopia, Wisconsin.  There will very soon be smoked  White Fish in my saddlebag.  The ST2 parked in front of Peg's grandfather's 'moored' fishing boat.

The Twin Sisters, named for Peg's twin Aunts.....

Chimney Road, Solon Springs....

Sunday, March 24, 2013

March 14, 2010

I don't remember how warm it guess would be 50-ish.  There was still snow in the valleys and ditches.  Seeing everyone else's snowy photos reminded me of this ride back in '10 and now it's a bit depressing to see the dates on this batch of photos.

A typical valley township road, only a couple of miles from home.

My favorite yellow signs........

A fun combination of snow and mud, mostly I clung to the snow when I could.

Up on top, out of the valleys.

Horses have been seen on this beach in the past....but none were present that day.

A Few Are Out....

But alas, not I.

Yesterday morning early, I was up (drove) for coffee and of course Paul rode his Ural rig to join the fun; he misses very few Saturday morning coffee events no matter the weather.  The turnout was good but there was only one machine on less than 4 wheels.  After spending the afternoon with my mom and my dad's sister, I drove home in hazy, mid-30's sunshine.  With no wind yesterday, it was lovely outside, melting and evaporation combining to do all they could to battle against the drifts and ice.

Last evening, riding buddy Dave shared his afternoon ride with me, on one of our favorite local Minimum Maintenance Roads.  Of course, he was the only motorcycle there and even with his big GS rig, there was too much snow to tackle the truly fun parts of the road.  Conditions were perfect for the snowmobiles however.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

1939 Trip West - excerpts from

This time I'm going to type it....and it starts out....


Our Fourth Vacation

Having again accumulated a 30-day leave with pay, we "hoisted anchor" the morning of June 1, 1939 for points West and Northwest.  The objective was the San Francisco World's Fair or what is advertised as the The Golden Gate Exposition.

This trip was made with a 1938 Chevrolet Town Sedan Master Deluxe, pulling a purchased camping trailer manufactured in northern Wisconsin.

Page 4.....

We soon came to the shores of Lake Tahoe, Gem of the high Sierras.  The level of this lake is about 6,000 ft. but the road runs at varying heights above it and the view is marvelous.  the water is azure blue and with the high mountains capped in snow showing beyond makes a sight indeed worth traveling far to see.  When we came to the place where the highway enters a tunnel on the bank of the lake we got out to shoot some pictures of it.  While there Robert exclaimed that he saw some shiny stone far below us on a ledge, probably a hundred feet below the road level.  Said it changed color if he moved a little.  We came to where he was and looked and this proved to be true.  First was blue, then yellow, then red.  I climbed down and Robert directed me to move my hand first right then left until my finger was upon it.  It proved to be four sets broken from a bracelet and lost there. We had them "assayed" by a jeweler in San Francisco who pronounced them glass.  But in spite of his verdict we kept them as they throw lots of colored light.

Soon after entering the Golden State at Stateline, where we were inspected, we came to the hardest and meanest pull for the car that we encountered on the whole trip.  This was Echo summit near Placerville.  The elevation is 7394 and near the top we encountered a detour that taxed the car to pull it in low gear.  We tied up at Lodi, at Sherman auto camp.  This is just about to the level of the sea.

a few paragraphs later......

Entering San Francisco from the south we took refuge in the Mission Bell Auto court at $.75 per day.  This place advertises they have the largest court in the U.S., having 112 cottages and room for 30 or 40 trailers.  It is a classy place, well taken care of and also well patronized.  The service you get there is good and we can recommend it to any who want to pay six bits a day for the privilege.  We paid for a stay of four days in advance, later renewing for the fifth day.  The following day we took a free tour given by some real estate agents altho we had no idea of investing in California property. (too bad there Gramp...) We visited some points of interest like Palo Alto and the Leland Stanford University and the new development Belle Haven City.  Much early history of the conquest by the Spaniards is connected with this section.

To this city my Grandfather came in the year 1854 by way of wind ship from around the Horn as he journeyed to the Nevada City gold camps to seek his fortune.  What was then a mere settlement now is a great Metropolis.  The completion of the Oakland Bridge at a cost of $72,000,000 and the Golden Gate Suspension Bridge at a cost of $35,000,000 formed the motif for the 1939 Golden Gate Exposition.  This Fair was really our objective.  This trip was the result of two years of careful budgeting and planning in order to bring about its reality.

On Monday we rode the Key System Ferry across that part of San Francisco Bay lying between there and Treasure Island.  This island is a man-made island of 400 acres.  It was made by laying a wall of boulders and other rocks around the boundary and pumping in sand and dirt from the bottom of the bay to fill it.  where salt water ran three years ago there is now the magic Treasure Island with its great buildings, lovely boulevards and lagoons and waving palm trees.

Ferry fare is 10 cents for grown ups and 5 cents for children.  the admission to the Fair is 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for kids.  this admission is all one has to pay unless he enters side-shows on the Gayway.  This Gayway corresponds to the Midway of our prominent mid-west agricultural fairs.  Here one my ride the Ferris wheel or merry go round, the miniature train or shoot the chutes.  Or he may slip away and go to see Sally Rand's Nude Ranch. "Step right up, gentlemen."

After two very long days at the Exposition, time that left the Coop's very impressed. The following morning an extensive visit of Golden Gate Park and later....

In the evening we took the Gray Line tour of Chinatown and other points.  A visit was made to the Coit tower on Telegraph Hill, Fisherman's Wharf and other points.  San Francisco is more beautiful by night than by day, with its new bridges brilliantly lighted and the distant Treasure Island shining like a jewel.  Did Robert Louis Stevenson ever dream of anything more beautiful than this Treasure Island?

In Chinatown we stopped at some of the better shops, climbed four stairs to visit a joss house,  (temple) and walked into a Chinese telephone exchange.  In their community there are 2200 subscribers and none have a number.  The caller tells the phone girl whom he wishes to talk to by giving a description of the person.  the girls memorize the description of the patrons and are able to give good service by this system.

On June 15th we again backed in and coupled up our trailer to depart from the city over the new $35,000,000 Golden Gate Bridge.  This is a never to be forgotten experience, crossing this bridge.  The toll was 50 cents each for car and trailer.  We only drove 126 miles, tying up at Ukiah.  We drove slowly, eating fruit and relaxing after our stay in the great city.  At Santa Rosa, where Burbank used to hold forth, we bought more cherries, never seeming able to get enough of them.  The Santa Rosa district is beautiful with fruit and flowers.

There was time at Crater Lake......

On the 22nd we continued on north on #99 and then turned west near Dillard on #42 towards Coquille and finally Marshfield.  Here we went in for a couple $.65 haircuts for Robert and myself.  We also bought some myrtle wood stock for turning after we return home.  Myrtle is fabled in song and story as growing in only two places on earth, Palestine and Coos county, Oregon.  Personally, I don't think it much superior to our own northern hard maple.  We restocked our cupboards and ice-box and moved on over the Coos Bay bridge to north Bend.  This is the first of a series of five marvelous bridges we crossed going up #101 on the Oregon Coast.  The five cost a total of $18,000,000 but are all toll free.  Each bridge is unlike any of the others, all are beautiful.  There are pictures of all five in our sets, now in our vacation picture album.

We tied up at a point near Tahkenich Lake, between the sand dunes and the highway among tall fir trees and other stuff.  the camp site was among the poorest of the entire trip but we stayed at this location two nights.

The next day we drove on north to Florence where we received a letter from our neighbors at home, the only letter we had on the whole trip.

At Seal Rock we drove off the highway into a small park on a high bluff overlooking the ocean.  Here we stayed the night of the 24, 25 and 26th.  During this time we tramped on the beach and over the rocks, fished or waded and in general did nothing and did it thoroughly.  On Sunday, I tried my luck at fishing and within an hour had caught a 5 lb. rock cod.  We ate it for supper and it was not hard to take.  During the afternoon, fished again and hooked another but in trying to land it the line scraped against the mussel covered rocks and cut the line.

At Seal rock Bee (Grandma Beatrice) and Snuffy (Boston Terrier) got drenched when a big wave came unexpected nearly swept them from their perch well above where the waves usually came.

At noon on the 27th we drove north leisurely, enjoying the high spots of the rugged Oregon coastline.  Cape Perpetua is beautiful.  Cape Foulweather, however, appealed to all of us as the prettiest spot on the coast, from a natural viewpoint.  At the lookout we purchased souvenirs.  This is built right on the edge of a high cliff and one may look far out to seas or almost straight down in the the water.

At Depoe Bay we looked at many strange things in the Aquarium.  Among other thigs we saw an octopus.  Going on we turned inland at Otis Junction passed thru McMinnville and other towns, including Newberg, the nut center of the west, and dropped anchor in a neat little camp located in a grove at Tigard, Ore.

The 28th, we went through Portland without stopping for anything other than traffic lights.  Crossed the  Columbia into Vancouver, Wash. and continued north thru Kelso finally camping at a Standard Oil station near Tenino, Wash.  The day was without events to mention.

On the morning of the 29th, we pushed on into Seattle where we tied up just outside the south city limits in Bennett's Trailer City.  We unhooked and drove 5 miles to waterfront and took the 11:10 ferry to Bremerton to see the famous Navy Yard.

Later on Page 10......

At Seattle we got fish at a fish market on the waterfront.  We also saw cable or grip cars, first I had seen since my last trip to Seattle in 1922 when I was there with one Lee, a man I had done threshing with near Lewiston, Mont.  These cars were the Madison St. cable cars, which have their line terminating a block or so from the Colman dock.

We stayed the night of the 29th in order to get a fresh and early start the following morning to make Snoqualmie Pass.  the climb proved an easy one and we were soon beyond the range of the fog from the sea, headed once more in the direction of home.  At Cle Elum we got gas and turned northward towards Blewetts Pass.  This pass was not as bad as pictured but is a mountain pass nevertheless.  It has many curves, similar to the road from Crescent City, Calif. to Grants Pass, Ore.  We had dinner in the mountains beyond the Blewetts, and moved on north and east to Cashmere and finally, Wenatchee.

At Wenatchee we called on one Wesley Stackpole, owner of a 20 acre fruit farm south of town on the famous Wenatchee Heights.  We found the man without trouble and he showed us around his orchards and treated us to all the Bings we wanted to eat and some to carry off with us.  Also showed us the oil well in process of drilling about a mile from his home.  it is now at the depth of 3995 ft. with no traces of oil.

At Wenatchee in 1922 the railroad dicks put me off the train and delayed my flight from the coast to Montana more than a whole day.  But on this trip we met with no such delay and furthermore, we "rode the cushions." So much for owning your own rolling stock and having also, a share in the road....

And from there it was eastward to fun times at Glacier National Park.

In reading through these old travel logs, I'm seeing things in my Grandfather that are new to me.  For all of the years that I did spend around him, the stories that I heard, the many things that I thought I knew that made him 'go', there are new discoveries here, a younger man's ideas, openness and attitudes, an even greater sense of curiosity.  I'm even prouder of him than I was and that is all very good.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Before Winter Gets Away From Us......

Back in the days when my schedule was a bit more, shall we say, flexible, I was able to build my work schedule around my travels rather than the other way around.  There were numerous trips west, some flying, but mostly riding and driving.  Redding, California was home for a brief time, though most of my trips west were for fun (no work).

Utah was a favorite and still is....I love the high desert.  Some hitchhiking worked (there was a crazy girl in a VW Beetle once...), Charter flights from Minneapolis to Las Vegas were popular back then and I took a couple, though have never set foot in a Vegas casino.  Taking the bus to Moab was very easy and efficient.  Often my trips seemed to happen in the long 'off' season, so driving in my cars was the easiest.

Peg and I were there on our very first long trip together.  While visiting our daughter at Aspen many years later, Moab made a very nice day trip for we three.

I need to get back out there and run Highway 128 again......

Anyway, back to decades ago.  One of the sections of the trip I truly miss is the old Glenwood Canyon leg on I-70, before it had been "4 laned".  The new, stacked Interstate is beautiful on its own, an engineering marvel and the canyon remains lovely and mostly natural.  I still miss the old way though.

This was one of my driving trips, Arches National Park, the campground amazingly quiet that day; the car still so warm I had to let it cool off.

There was a time when I was very fleet of foot.......

Almost there.....

Setup and cozy....

The slides didn't scan very well and the color seems to be fading, something I've seen even in many of my old slides that weren't taken in a snowstorm.

There was a very fun night at the Moab Pizza Hut with some new friends; the next day I headed for home.  The snow had really started to get serious, at Grand Junction I pulled in behind an eastbound U.S. Mail 18 wheeler.  Staying just far enough behind so that his taillights were visible, those lights about the only two things I saw for miles and we made really good time.  Visibility was terrible and to this day, I remember us passing a CO State Patrol car that I hadn't really seen until he was almost beside me.  As we eased past, the patrol car's headlights quickly faded into grey....we just kept on truckin'.  For the record, I very seldom pass CO State Patrol cars.

I stopped in Eagle and spent some time visiting with friend Sue.

It was very late by the time I got to the Vail Pass.  There were blinking lights ahead, all traffic was being stopped, I-70 closed "unless you had 4WD or chains".  Thinking I'd have to pull over for the night, but really, really wanting to stop for the night in a Denver motel, I was very relieved when the official shone his flashlight (torch?) on my rear wheels and saw big, coarse snow tires there.  With the window rolled down, he asked if I was really from Minnesota.  Upon confirmation, he let me go ahead with a stern "be careful".  I was able to get down into Denver and then wound up sleeping in the car anyway before my big push back to MN.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wisconsin's Backyard - Part 2

I'll make it easy and more direct this are the links to the photo albums highlighting the last half of the Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail.

August 27, 2009

August 28, 2009

August 29, 2009

August 30, 2009

.....and to provide a bit of timely balance to those mostly warm and bright images above, I offer this morning's drift busting results, a rather mediocre result after two very tough passes with the plow truck, 4AM

I plowed yesterday just before dark, then was forced to go out after winds of 30-40 mph all night long again this morning.  We got home from work this afternoon, stopped at the mailbox where we found mail inside the box and a UPS package on the snowbank behind the box (our UPS driver knows when to avoid our driveway and has permission to be 'creative').

Peg looked at me and said, "you better not".  We spoke this morning and prepared for, my walking in and leaving her up on the road in the car and once I had the road cleared, she'd follow me back to the house.  She had her knitting along, so would have been fine least for awhile.

I said, "we're goin'"

It's amazing what a 30 mph downhill head start can accomplish.  Sure, there were 10 seconds or so when I couldn't see but I know the driveway pretty well.  When I put the car in Park up at the garage (made it this time...ha!), Peg wondered if we'd done a 360 on the way in.  I told her that I was pretty sure that we had not.

"Well it felt like it".

Back out to plow again this evening, the wind is still blowing so I'm imagining another session tomorrow morning as well.  Spring tomorrow.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Wisconsin's Backyard - Part 1

Motorcycle Rides on the less traveled roads over long distances......the T.A.T. (TransAmericaTrail) is one of the grander examples but there are variations most everywhere, not only in this country but around the planet.  Friend Chad put together a wonderful version for Wisconsin and once I learned of it, plans began immediately to do the Route.

Here's Chad's Site
An Map Overview

Many Adventure-style riders have done Chad's Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail, a route that makes every attempt to traverse the state of Wisconsin from the Illinois border on the south to Lake Superior on the north using back roads as much as possible.  An online search will pull up all sorts of ride reports, many of them documented on the ADV Forum, a motorcycle forum that has become one of the universal Sites to gather online; for riders of most every stripe.  Some of our Blog friends are regular visitors there....possibly you are one of them.

600+ miles, primarily on gravel (or less) on public roads is an interesting way to see parts of one of my favorite states.  In a way, it reminds me of riding on Amtrak as it snakes through parts of the villages, rural areas, cities normally unseen to most residents.

My goal was to do the route in two weekends; there are some that run it in one setting.  I chose to do it more casually, mixing in some other stops as well as the Wisconsin Moto Guzzi Rally which I used as a launching location.  In August of 2009, I rode my TW200 Yamaha to the 'Guzzi Rally and Sunday, while most other attendees were headed for home, I rode the few short miles south from the Lake Joy Campground rally site, near Belmont, Wisconsin in the far, southwest corner of the state to the Illinois border.

Rather than highlight the entire first half of my run of the Route here, I'm going to link to the Thread I created on ADV back in August of 2009.  That links to my Picasa Photo albums, all of the photos are there, many if not most of them have captions that tell the story.

My ride that weekend was cut a bit short due to the complete and fatal lockup of my Garmin Quest.  For some very redundant and rare reason, I chose to print out maps of the Route's southern half while still at home.  I normally never do that but did in this case and for awhile, those maps kept me on track.  You have to see what the detailed maps of the Route look like to appreciate the hundreds of twists and turns the ride takes on back roads.  Looking at my tankbag (a very small one on the TW), trying to remember "......two left, then skip the next right, taking the next right....." got really old and next to impossible for me to remember without stopping at most every intersection.  Adding to the aggravation factor was that I used Wisconsin Bicycle Federation Maps highlighted printouts (I'm a huge fan and use them religiously);  they accurately detail 99.9% of the time gravel vs. paved routes over the entire state, but the issue is that often the road names on the maps differ from the locally-named road signs at the intersections.

So, by the time I got to Sparta, I'd had enough and cut short my planned stopping point of Neillsville (which is where I began the 2nd leg later that year).

Enough's the link to the Thread on ADV where many photos w/captions tell the story better than I can here.  There are 4 days of photos, including the Rally, my exploring and my ride on the Wisconsin Cheese  Country Trail.

Friday, March 15, 2013

West on County Road I

Warm sun, cool breezes on an October day......

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Summer Of '79 - Part 1

No apologies to Bryan Adams.....

I've both eluded to and directly mentioned that I took my first retirement at 24, actually I was easing into it at 23.  I had a great job at a thriving medical company, doing what I had trained to do and for the most part, enjoyed.  Practicing (and pretending?) to be a maturing adult, a strong sense of wanderlust that had long been percolating finally took over and began to run things in my life.  There was a girl that made me think about marriage, there were houses that were affordable and yet there was a general gnawing inside, telling me something wasn't right.  This internal strife was completely against my grain, or so I thought, based on what I'd been taught and seen as exemplified around me growing up.  People around me obeyed the rules and followed certain patterns.

There was a job up north, working for a friend.  I worked some temporary jobs one winter down in Brownsville (the GS850 Suzuki my transportation), another winter, with a '64 Chevelle, I was in Redding, CA and looking for work.  I worked my way south to Palm Springs that trip, then east and after a long week backpacking in the Grand Canyon, I drove back to MN where I started driving a school bus (my favorite non-farm job ever?).  Mixed in there were some very short term machining jobs, just to get some traveling money.  For a couple of them, the hiring process took longer than I stayed employed.  One of my favorite jobs even lasted until lunch time.  I stayed to eat my sandwich, then carried my toolbox out the door; a task that shouldn't be executed on an empty stomach (or is it a full stomach.....I always get the two mixed up).  I worked, to help out a friend, in a bicycle shop, not for wages necessarily, but took my payment in a fancy bike that was over priced for his clientele and that he was having trouble selling.

When my school bus route job finished for that summer, I was packed and ready to visit "East".  My plan was to be gone until the Labor Day weekend when bus driving began again.  I was pretty sure that summers off were a good thing before I had even had experienced one. As it turned out, I didn't come back until I was to be an usher at a friend's wedding in late September.

I've mentioned Christopher, the young lad I'd met down on the Shenandoah Parkway.  He was in Virginia hitchhiking from St. John's, NF and I was there on my '75 CB750 Honda.  Christopher's tales of his homeland were very enticing.  As a family, we'd almost always gone west to the mountains on our vacations; the East Coast was a far away and as of yet, mostly unexplored plum for me.  I knew better than to believe that everything east of the Ohio was one big Manhattan and was anxious to see it for myself.

My Suzuki GS850 was a mile-eater in my mind, comfortable, rock solid reliable, shaft driven and yet fun to ride on roads that weren't flat and straight.  My attitude, experience, gear and confidence were far more ready for a season-long trip than I'd ever been before, certainly more so than when my brother and I had headed for TX the summer after I'd finished high school.

Leaving the Twin Cities the day after school got out, found me an hour later in Barron, Wisconsin, where my dad's mom and dad had retired to.  I stopped to see them and to this day, remember my grandmother telling me, "oh, you'll have a good couple of weeks and then come home, there's no reason to be gone all summer."  I know that she was worried, most likely about more than one thing, but I knew and I think that she did as well that I'd not be home in a short, dozen days.

I need to mention here that always, from the time I was little, a trip, a vacation trip, meant 2 weeks, possibly 3 at the most.  Dad's Plant Shutdowns were always two weeks, straddling the July 4 holiday.  If we took a 3 week trip as we did in later years when he'd built up seniority, we'd use the extra time to spend more time on the west coast, or near it. Vacation trips longer than 2 weeks were rare.  Once I began working full time, taking two weeks completely used up my time; using a week for those first couple of years was about all I could get away with.

I mention this because that summer-long trip required a new mindset, a mindset that meant breaking a habit of many years. Distances Away had previously been measured in 4-500 mile days, necessary spans if crossing the Great Plains to access the American West was the goal.  This trip didn't have the same constraints and I struggled, though not for very long, as I came to figure it out.

After leaving my grandparents' place in Barron, I headed east on US 8, stopping early, after doing what I could all day to 'drag' my feet, at a National Forest Campground east of Rhinelander.  I've always preferred to stop early, something ingrained in me after traveling with my parents and being the early birds in the afternoon with a choice of campsites.  Our pattern had always been early starts, early stops, a practice that meant we seldom, if ever, arrived to find a "campground full" sign.

That first afternoon's campground had a great beach, lots of time swimming was good therapy for what may have been any second thoughts ( I don't remember a single one now....), chance to relax after my first longish day on the bike.  I remember a campfire after cooking some dinner, a couple of girls that I had met on the beach had left to spend the evening in town somewhere.

There's a journal here somewhere, though I don't think I really will need it to cover the high points of my trip.

The next day, I headed east, did little stopping, anxious to make and find a spot in the Soo campground that had come up in a previous Post.  I do remember my relief at having found, stopped and getting setup at the campground we'd visited as a family on the east end of Sault Ste. Marie along the St. Mary's river.  I also remember being frustrated with myself for not having stopped more along the way that second day.  There was not one thing requiring me to be at the Soo my second day out.

My Soo Campground site, the result of being there mid-week, early enough in the day, found my tent perched right on the shore of the St. Mary's River.  The freighter beyond my tent has left the Soo Locks, is east-bound into Lake Huron.  The Ore boat is headed most likely to Minnesota to pick up Taconite for delivery to the eastern steel plants.  The Canadian Shore is in the distance.  Just to the right of this, or a bit to the east, is the beach my brother and I years before had played on, enjoying the huge 'tides' the passing ships created as they passed by.  The very best ones were created when two ships met, a common occurrence at this point.

This photo was the first one I'd taken on the trip.  I was living on a small pocket of savings, Kodachrome was expensive and so was the developing into slides.  I'll post many of the photos taken, holding a few back for various reasons, but for the most part, lots of discretion was used before pushing my shutter button on the old OM-1.  Lenses, motor drive, filters, etc. were all there in the saddlebags somewhere.  I'm now quite fond of digital photography though that old Olympus and I spent a lot of time 'going' together.

I'd arrived on a Thursday night and on Friday I spent a good amount of time watching the traffic through the locks.

It just happened to be Open House Day, when the Corps of Engineers would conduct tours of the facility.  I've taken tours of the Mississippi River Locks before, but being able to get a detailed look at the Soo Locks was almost too cool.

The Staircase in the HQ building....

Here our tour group is between Locks, in an area normally closed to the public.

After my Friday morning tour, I headed back to the campground, with no real plan...maybe I intended to go for a swim; I don't remember now.  When I got there, two young guys were tossing a Frisbee in an open area between the camp's loops.  I went over and introduced myself, found out the two young guys had come up for the weekend to check out the Community College, possibly to attend that upcoming school season.

We drank beer and threw that disc all afternoon, burning off most if not all of what we were consuming in liquid.  The sun was warm, the three of us all quite experienced throwers and I remember being disappointed that it was finally time to get something to eat.  The young guys were anxious for some fast food; I was not.  They headed back into town and as I was heading back from a shower, a couple of campers waved me over.

Wiley and his wife were retired from Fort Wayne, IN, spending time at one of their favorite 'North' places to stay cool in the summer.  They invited me to dinner, a much better meal than the one I'd planned on cooking for myself.  After a very fine meal, they were off somewhere to spend the evening with some of their Michigan friends, so I went back over to join the two young guys around their campfire, long returned from their Fast Food.

It was nicely dusk when an old Rambler drove in, two young women got out and began to set up camp in the adjacent site.  We invited them over once they had finished getting their tent set up.  We learned that they too were students, though without the summer off.  Attendees in East Lansing at the University, they were up for a break before starting an intense Summer School session.  It developed into a very fine June evening that lasted long into the darkness.

The next morning my two guy friends were off to the local campus for their arranged tour and Orientation, mostly feeling good enough for the day's start.  After joining the girls for breakfast, they invited me to join them to head west to visit Tahquamenon Falls State Park for the day.  I hopped in the back seat and off we went.  I was having too much fun referring to their car as a Nash and "M" kept correcting me that it was not a Nash, rather a Rambler.....sometimes I'm a very slow learner.  It was quite a day, we swam, found trails to explore, visited the south Shore, another camp fire that again lasted until we couldn't find any more wood.  There isn't a lot of room in a Nash, er, Rambler, but we fell asleep in there anyway.  The next morning we drove back to the Soo Campground.  The girls shared their favorite Irish Pub with we 3 guys, another late night campfire and the next morning the girls were off, headed back to East Lansing for their summer session.

The guys left as well that morning and things got very quiet around the busy campground, almost too quickly.  I spent the day, another visit to the Locks and a couple of hours lazily watching ships come and go.  There was some exploring of the area on the Suzuki and then in the evening, wondering about a visit back to the Pub for dinner, decided against doing it alone and rode back to the campground.  I wasn't even off the bike yet when Wiley came hustling over, again inviting me to join them for dinner.  I felt guilty since I didn't have anything to offer them in return, but was sternly rebuffed for worrying about it and ended up sitting down with them.

Wiley's wife told me that she had been very worried when I hadn't returned the previous night.  Wiley quickly piped up and with a wink, "I wasn't worried in the least; looked like you had a couple of fine friends there."  He made sure to tell me that he'd kept an eye on my bike and that no one had bothered it.  I learned a lot more about Indiana that evening, about the mobile home business, their local agriculture and probably dozens of other things that I DON'T remember any longer.

Finally exhausted and after thanking them with a promise to keep in touch, I said my goodbye's to my Indiana hosts.  Climbing into my tent and that wonderful sleeping bag felt good beyond words.  Fighting sleep for a bit, I was at peace, concentrating on the sound of yet another ore boat streaming by in the heavy night air and then barely overheard some nearby campers, a couple of sites away, talking around the campfire.

I recognized the one guy's voice since we'd talked a couple of times in passing.  He had owned a bike, so we had that as a common thread. I had run into his wife on my way to the shower the day before and she had all kinds of questions about my vacation, where I was headed, how long I'd be gone, she knew someone from the Twin Cities, etc. She told me that my trip really sounded like fun.

Almost asleep, I happened to hear a voice I didn't recognize say, "I don't know how anyone can do that,  you know, travel solo like would get so lonely...".  Knowing I was the subject of the conversation, I did all I could to lie still and listen.

"Lonely?  Lonely??, that kid hasn't been by himself since he got here.  He palled up with two guys and they spent all day drinking beer and tossing a Frisbee, then he went away with two girls that camped right over there; they were gone for two days, who knows where and that old couple over there feed him every night......My wife was talking to him over by the bathroom and now she's talking about how much fun it would be to go.....I think that being lonely is the least of his problems."

I struggled to quietly giggle myself to sleep, the smile on my face ran from ear to ear.  I felt confident that I had beaten the "500 miles tomorrow" habit and as it turned out, I had. In those following weeks until mid-September, I spent a total of only 4 nights not in my tent; two of those nights were in East Lansing at the end of the summer on my way home.  There were days I didn't even get on the bike; there were other days I packed up and then set up again only 30 miles away.  It was a trip that defined travel for me.

What's ahead???  Quebec City and the St. Jean Baptiste Festival......

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

On The Way to Poy Sippi

A beautiful June day....sure it will get wetter but that's what early June is often about.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Not Really A Book Review

Early Sunday morning I stumbled upon a book that caught my eye after seeing a review on a scooter website.  I grabbed the image only to share with you here; there is no link to "Look Inside".

I wasn't aware of BJ Strass or his Scooter Rider magazine but I'm certainly enjoying this little book.  I 'borrowed' it as a Kindle Prime customer.  Mr. Strass, at least at one time, began his riding from Corvallis, OR, a place that I know a couple of other people begin their rides from as well.  The first story in the book is about his departure from Corvallis, heading west and when he gets to salt water, he turns "right".  Vancouver and surroundings are part of his quest before heading south again to his home in Oregon.

The author freely admits that he takes a few liberties with the English language and I appreciate that, though he doesn't abuse it like I do.  His tours/rides are often extensive, sometimes done alone, often with his wife.  He uses mid-size scooters, machines he's moved towards not unlike I have, from larger displacement motorcycles.

He mentions various gear he's tested which is fun but the very best part of the book for me is having an open map beside the chair while reading.  I've never been a fast reader, but I slowly savor the descriptions and mention of places as I follow along using my maps.

Like the author, I'd jump on one of my 250cc scooters and head for either coast at any time.  Here in the Midwest I've got more choices about avoiding busy roads than he's sometimes had along the busier edges of our country.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Two Waterous Posts In One Day

True as predicted......the snow-pack headed for the Gulf of Mexico.

Our 'dry' ditch...

Our "Tree Field", an acre that once was cropland.  When we arrived here in the valley, we planted a stand of soft maples that has served as shade and rough pasture for the ponies.  I walked straight ahead through 4" of watery slush, almost (and what turned out to be) too much for my snow boots.  Driveway is on the right, the valley's drainage ditch on my left.

The snow (ice) dams not strong enough to hold back the flowing water.

The rain and snow pellets were soaking through my jacket, the water was slowly seeping into my boots but it was still hypnotic to stand here, watching and listening to the flow.

Note the leaned fence post on the end of the orange; we had some big winds before the ground was frozen.  The orange netting truly acts as a sail.  The winter fence did serve its purpose however.  There is a huge pile of snow on this side of it.

I'm standing about 10 feet from where the car was stuck the other day....again, the visible water drains from our hills, the valley's water is (so far) contained in the ditch where the trees are.  The two converge just to the right of the image.

A good day to brew some tea and read a book.....more on that book in my next Post.