Sunday, October 25, 2015

Delivery Road Trip

We had decided a number of weeks ago that it would make the most and best practical use of everyone's resources for me to deliver Ben's Honda to him in Texas.  The October 23-25 weekend fit both his and my schedule, giving me time to blitz down with his bike on the trailer, behind the van.  I'd stop for a few hours of sleep when I needed them (sleeping equipment still in place from our Slimey Crud weekend), make the trip right down Interstate 35 to Killeen, TX / Ft. Hood.  Not only would his bike make the trip but with his new, more permanent assignment at Ft. Hood, it made sense for him to have more of his personal items and the bike hauler/minivan was a perfect vehicle to make that happen.

Last weekend events in my neighborhood altered some of our plans.  I opened up the Flea Market section of Adventure Rider (shouldn't have and I really do know better), saw a 650 KLR for sale within 100 miles of home, mentioned my new purchase to Mark and the two of us went after it last Friday.  Cody was thinning his collection by a count of 4 but the KLR was really the only one of his machines that belonged here with mine.  Thursday evening I texted son Ben to let him know what was happening and he wondered if my "old lethargic 250 KLR" might be for sale.

 I'll put it this way; it wouldn't have been at any other time or to anyone else.  He had spent enough time on it to grow almost as fond of it as I am.

Sunday, my brother was excited to learn that there would be some extra space in the garage, wanted to stop by to see the units inside before they all disappeared.  We then made a quick lunch run, each of us both way too busy to do any extra miles that we'd otherwise have preferred to do.....way too many home projects that needed finishing in his case, started in mine.

So this week instead of one bike passively riding to Texas on Thursday there were two of them.  I was on my way by 5PM and stopped for a few hours of rest just north of Kansas City at the last Rest Stop before the city.

I was reminded that single women seem very cautious about guys taking Rest Stop photos at 3AM and they have good cause. Hopefully she was relieved when I got back into the van and drove away.

Gas stop in Emporia, KS......hard not to be reminded of a film.....

All week, actually ever since the decision had been made to make the TX trip, I've been looking forward to returning to, actually passing through the Flint Hills again, if however briefly.

Remember this from almost exactly 4 years ago??  My Flint Hills Ride Day 2??

Looking Northeast.....

Looking North from the bridge, atop the "Mound"......

 What Teapot Mound looked like early on Friday from the Kansas Turnpike.....

(Just an aside, after my original Post about riding the Flint Hills, I had a question from a rancher in the area based on some research he'd been doing on Chase County, KS....our correspondence fun)

Seeing the area again, the names on the signs and the very few sights available from my limited access on the Turnpike brought back so many memories.  I need to get back down there for more exploring.  That view from the Matfield Green - Knute Rockne Memorial Service Area, located on a high point is incredible.  I think you can see almost half way around the world from there.....well, maybe 1/3 of the way.

 The sign warns of springtime burning with cautions about smoke across the road.....

South of the Flint Hills, land(s) of windmills, an entire 'farm' not yet up and running.

 Through KC, through Oklahoma City and finally through Ft. Worth.  At that point, local radio reports of "inches of rain" the day or so previous and I certainly found out that they weren't lyin'. 

"Avoid Interstate 35 if at all possible......"

South of Dallas/Ft. Worth, around Waco there was a section of Northbound lanes that had what looked to me like 3' of standing water.  Three lanes of stopped traffic for what I measured as 10+ miles south of there.

Pouring rain and MORE pouring rain, as if we needed any more.  Central Texas had been dry.

Between wiper sweeps.....

At least those of us Southbounders were still moving.....but that didn't last, not long enough anyway.  Beyond Waco it was our turn.  Between accidents, traffic, flooded roads, etc., etc......

Those poor, poor folks still moving North wouldn't be for long.

Free advertising......I had my fingers crossed that his oily, smoky exhaust wasn't going to foul a couple of his plugs, which then would have fouled me.

Those of you familiar with Texas freeways know about the one-way frontage roads beside the major artery roads.  Some of us with less patience, thought we'd be crafty and avoid the blockages.....

Trouble was, the road ditches were soft because Texas road ditches aren't always dry and hard.  Even for those that managed to traverse the low spots, there was for most of them the later issue of MERGING back ON, only compounding things once we actually started to move again.

 It took almost 2 hours to make my last 20 miles, but I finally made the mall parking lot in Killeen.  The rain gods were kind to rain for the swapping of personal goods, getting the bikes unloaded at his buddy's home on the Base or for us to get some dinner together.

Ben's 'new' Forerunner.......

Ben and I said our goodbyes, it was about 9PM and I felt like crawling in back for another nap right there in the quiet Walmart parking lot.  Weather radio said "Flash Flood Warning, 6-8" more rain overnight......."   Darn that Hurricane Patricia!!

Knowing what I knew about road conditions already to the north and with adrenaline flowing, I jumped back into the driver's seat and drove to a quiet gas station parking lot north of Dallas (Argyle) for a nap, deciding not to get caught in even worse conditions when traffic would be more intense the following morning.

About 3AM the local constable seemed to be nervous about my presence in the "all night pumps but store is closed" parking lot.  It wasn't a different enough time from my normal wake-if-not-rise time anyway, so I drove to Oklahoma City where another hour and a half nap carried me through to a cloudy, misty sunrise.  From there, a quite pleasant drive home.  Conditions were better, got some more views of the Flint Hills and for the most part, courteous and reasonable travelers were my company.

50 hours, 2300 miles and cargo delivered except for Ben's USB cord that I forgot to grab from under the seat.

It's good to be home.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Full Weekend - Last Of The Season?

Early last week another long weekend of camping (on/with the bike) was being considered but then as the weekend got closer, I decided to forego another weekend away and instead fill the 3 days with day rides.  Peg and Lauren were away so I was Home Alone ....just me and the cats.

By the middle of the week, friend Pat reminded me that they would be doing their annual B&B weekend across the river so plans were being formed for a meetup.  Later in the week, friend Eric wrote and shared a link of the counties in Wisconsin that were at or near 100% color for autumn leaves.  All weekend the temps were predicted to crescendo so Friday, heading north where the leaves were at their prime only partly made sense but with all plans and commitments considered, Friday seemed to be the best day to head north.

If you remember, my old Quest GPS unit has been giving me lots of trouble lately, a huge disappointment since it's been my very favorite ride companion.  A couple of years ago (almost to the day) I bought a Tom Tom Rider and I'm still trying to figure out if I like it.  Determined to give it another go, I loaded a Route using their Tyre software and off we went Friday morning, colored-leaf bound.

As I got closer to Eau Claire, my plan was to bypass the city, work my way around to the east side and begin the part I'd been most looking forward to on the east end of town at Hwy 178.  My approach was from the southwest corner and by the time I finally reached the 178/29 junction I was ready to 1) smash the Tom Tom and then 2) throw it in the Chippewa River.  By the end of the day we'd reached a sort-of truce.

When I got home, I opened up the manual and learned that many of my troubles were my own fault....trying to 'Garmin' my way through the Tom Tom.  My Saturday ride was much more successful.  Our 8th grade Algebra teacher's admonition came to mind...."When alllll else fails, try following directions."  In this case at least, it did in fact make a difference.

North of Chippewa Falls along the Chippewa River.

Working my way up to Cornell, then east to Gilman where I stopped for a Friday Fish Fry meal.

After lunch, I worked my way up to the Chequamegon National Forest and took a side trip to the Chippewa National Forest Campground.

Our road has become full of washboards, hopefully the grader will make another pass before freeze-up.  I was surprised at how well the camera captured these.

All day, crisp, cooler than I'd hoped for but the skies were along Lake Pepin, no clouds.

 I wouldn't have told you that gold was a proper color but this '63 looked awfully fine.

Had hoped to get closer to Hayward but decided to turn towards home at Bruce.  There was some more consternation with "Tom" as I got closer to Bloomer.....though we worked it out once more.

So the above was all Friday.  Saturday morning I headed down to Pier 4 for breakfast (had the Special and it was).

With my newfound knowledge of Tom Tom usage, I was ready and loaded for bear though changes were already needing to be made.  Pat texted me while I was eating, our noon lunch venue had to change and now my Route planned at home the evening before was NDG.  Feeling cocky and very proud of myself, I Cancelled Route, chose New Route and then picked Winding Roads.  At that point in the selection process, you can choose Change Route which I did, more than once after seeing 2 Route previews that were presented.  Settling on the 3rd Route the unit picked, I was soon delighted to see that 2 of my favorite Gravel roads had been picked.....and that made me smile.  Happy that the unit didn't know a gravel Winding Road from a paved one, things were definitely looking up.

I met Susan, Dave, Christine and Pat at Mindoro at the home of 100+ burgers on the menu.

Not mentioned above, my hope for the weekend was to give some of the other bikes a bit of exercise before getting them bedded down for their winter sleep.  The fact that I chose to do both Friday's and Saturday's ride on the Breva is a testament to the fun I've been having on it.  It is just SO motorcycly.  Friday's ride was 400+ miles, I haven't been doing those lately and it never felt like a long day, all day long.

Today (Peg got home from Cleveland very late last night) I had one more chance to get the other bikes out.  The KLR was first, a new fill of gas, a bit of gravel another bit of pavement and then home.  The Ascot was out for a longer loop, took me to lunch at Pier 4 and then on from there for some more leaf watching.

From my table at lunch, a tug and barges bound for the Twin Cities.

County N.....

Serum Road, a good place if gravel is in the sometimes happens, a paved start....though in the distance the best fun begins.  There was lots of washing, more ruts than I remember ever seeing on this road.....made it extra fun. :)


Wiechmann Road.......

 County "I"......

Home, the Ascot parked and the XS650 fired up.....a nice ride through the corn and bean country, much of both crops already in the bins.

One last loop for the day on the Hyosung.....Lake Pepin and a Tow headed downriver.

There was speculation that we'd break an October high temperature for the day.  I'm not sure if we  actually made 84 or not but if the record wasn't broken, we were very close.  Crowds, motorcycles and Asian Beetles everywhere with very special emphasis on Everywhere.

Quite a few miles this weekend, haven't even totaled them up yet, almost everything out that should/could come out.  Between batteries and tires, the rest of them are getting ready for hibernation until they get rolled mid-sleep into the heated shop for their annual TLC.