Friday, July 18, 2014

Woke in Williams late by choice. The bed at the Route 66 room was soft and the best so far. At this point, I'm only 60 miles from the Grand Canyon but decided that I would have to give up seeing it. Another two hours round trip was too much not to mention the time I'd spend there. Again, tough decision button I had to make. Also, not to get too personal but the miles are starting to catch up on my backside. At about 400 miles, I'm getting uncomfortable. At 450, I can't find a good spot to sit. Understandable considering how many miles are on it in the last two weeks. Ha!

 I head east. At this point, I have no reservations, I'm riding as long as I can and then finding a room. These next three days and they pay back for the beauty and fun I had before.

I did get to see the Painnted Desert, a very nice landmark I had always wondered about. The colors don't show in this picture but it really did look painted.

All the picturesin this blog are taken from my camera. I still have my 35mm and another camera which I haven't accessed. When I get home, I will go through them and post anything good. For now, I think I'm done. I'm still 2 days from home but there is nothing amazing about these next two days. if that changes, you'll know it. Thank you all for following my blog. I appreciate all the comments here and on Facebook. So, until the next trip, adios!
Ok, I slept pretty good after my Tioga Pass ride considering my hotel was about the size of a postage stamp and had no wifi. I could have slept well anywhere though.

I took off south very early before the sun came up so I could get through the hottest part of this ride ASAP. I stopped at the last station to get Gatoraid and a full tank before heading into Death Valley. One thing to now about Death Valley is that it is properly named. It is trying to kill you at all times. Not personaly but it is a fact. There isno moisture here. At all times it is trying to suck any moisture it can get from anything that has it. You don't sweat here, your perspiration is wicked from you like a Coney Island pickpocket. I watched my temperature gauge and for the first time, it crossed into the 5 bar area. I kept my mesh armor on with gloves and everything and the temps never got over 112 due to my leaving early. My feet were killing me. They were burning and I couldn't stop so I kept going. I saw the temps fall to 109 and knew I was coming out of the other side. About 2o minutes later, I saw far off in the distance a man standing in the road alone. As I came closed, I saw there were three ones and a sign. Hecameoverandsaidtherewas a 20 minute wait till I could go on. They were spray coating the road ahead. 20 minutes seemed like andfour in this heat and while I had Gatoraid left,it was the temperature of coffee. No thanks.

I rolled into Williams Az on Route 66 about 5:30. Showered and hit the famous Rod's steak house. Afterwards I took in the sunset with some wine and a nice cigar. I can highly recomend the Lodge on Route 66 and hope to come back here again.

Time to catch up a bit. I woke early Wed and headed south through some really great country. I rode through several large sequoia groves and even visited the Lady Bird Johnson grove on the way to Napa. I've never felt so small as I did sitting near these trees. amazing!

I have visited wine country in Oregon but not California. Rolling through Mendicino, then Alexander Valley and Napaand eventually Lodi, I was constantly shocked at how small the presence of these wineries are here. I mean, to roll up on Opus One and see how small is was amazing. I passed so many wineries that I know from being in the buisness that ended up being small and very personal. I had no time to stop at any and I knew that going into to this trip. If I ever started visiting, I'd be here all day and tme did't allow. I know what you are saying "you were so close" but to pull this trip off, I had to cut some things out.

The ride from wine country to Yosemite was much further that I expected. The length of time to get into and out of the park was much, much longer that I had planned. Today was supposed to be my short day but ended up being on of my longest. I was awe struck at the mighty beauty of Yosemite. It is simply amazing! I parked at several places during the visit and just soaked it in. This is something more than I ever expected.

I left the park via tioga Pass to stay in Lee Vining and once I started up the pass which is 11,000 ft, it began to rain. I pulled over and put all my rain gear on. Things started getting rough here. No pictures because I was giving 100% to maintaining. The temps dropped to the low 40's, the sky grew black and the rain came down in earnest. I just kept going slow and steady. At one point, there was a road block ahead with police. After about 10 minutes of parked in the rain, they
Te everyone slowly pass. The reason for the delay was that about a mile of the road ahead was covered with a 3 inch slush of snow, mud and rocks that had run off of the side of the mountain and down the road. Now, I put 100% street tires on and this part made me nervous. I held it fine and made it through in one piece. Something that suprised me was that the east side of Tioga pass was amazingly beautiful. High lakes and giant granite walls shimmering with the fresh rain.

30 minutes later I was in my hotel, tired and needing sleep. It didn't take long to come.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Long, long day! 12 hours to get 480 miles. Too tired to do anything more with the blog tonight. No wifi anyway. Using my phone for this. Will do better tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hi Friends! Today was a busy and interesting day. Woke about 5:00, kissed Melissa and Regan on the forehead and hit the road from my cousin's house. The first 3+ hours was interstate south on I-5. There was no other practical way to get where I needed to be. Once off the interstate, I turned to head to the pacific coast line and 101. I was on a beautiful 2 lane windy road when I saw a building in the middle of the road ahead. It was an agricultural inspection station. A first for me. They waved me through not realizing the spores that I had been collecting were hidden in...wait, that wasn't me. That was a movie I saw last month.

As I closed on the coast, I kept seeing elk crossing signs and soon after, I passed a large herd of elk in a pasture. I had to take a shot.

I'd like to stop and add that mentally and physically, I feel great. no worries. The temperature had been running in the mid 70's because it was early. each mile is warmed a few degrees and then reversed itself to hit a low of 53. The smokey mist from the ocean blew in thanks to at least 30 mhp winds. I had to pull over to add a layer. The ocean was amazing. There is something so wild about a coastline and this one is alive! Gusting winds and fog, three that look as if they are bent sideways. It's a landscape in motion.

I would leave the coast for an island stretch and the temps would raise 15f. Really amazing to experience. I am now in the land of the sequoia. Whereas I hiked to find a grove at Ranier, here they are abundant. These trees must be seen I person to appreciate.

I hit the busy town of Eureka with plans to. Cut off and find a gem I had researched. A place called the hidden coast. It's a small road that run along (I mean 15ft off) the ocean. To get there, you have to navigate 30 miles of farm roads so there are no cars once there. You can ride along the coast for almost an hour and not see anyone.

Here lies the problem! Melissa texts me and asks, "have you got my ID and passport?". Brakes!!! Holy crap! I look and find Melissa and Regan's ID and passports in my bag from a trip we took in Seattle. Ok, I'm 8 hours into my way home and they are flying back early on Thurs. It is Tues. I call Melissa and tell her to get in the car and start south to meet me. I have an idea but don't know if it will work.

I ride back 30 minutes to Eureka and find a FedEx. With 20 minutes to spare, they tell me they can overnight it to arrive by 8:00am  tomorrow. $64 but I don't care! I call Melissa and she turns back. crisis averted. Whew!

I just checking itto my hotel  worn out and running late but happy. I discovered that I left my netbooks power cord at my cousins so I am now using my ipad to update this blog. Forgive any typing errors. With luck, all mistakes and errors are in the past and the delivery arrives on time.

Till tomorrow my friends,

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hi folks! Today's update is pretty small. We woke and got a late start out to Hood River which is a small town in the Columbia river gorge. For those who don't know, the Columbia river and gorge run west/east and is a deep canyon. The winds along the river are always high and at Hood River, it's a perfect spot for kite boarding. We arrived in perfect time to get to eat lunch at Full Sail Brewery and restaurant. The food here is so fresh and awesome that I can't get en enough.

I can't get pictures up tonight, sorry. It's a bust night and lots to do.

Afterward, we left and headed further east to The Dalles, another city down the river. We shopped a bit there to shop and crossed over into Washington to see the other side of the gorge which is considered the high desert in this area. Dry with exposed rocks, this is much more like Idaho and Wyoming. I head Melissa call out Buffalo! Sure enough, on the rocks in the distant prairie were a small herd of buffalo. Since I am skipping over pictures today, I promise to make another blog update after I get home with nothing but pictures.

So now we are back at my cousin Sam's cooking burgers on the grill and packing the bike up for the long trip back home. Melissa and Regan will stay here for a few days longer to shop and do what two girls in Portland will do.

Tomorrow I will head out on the 6 day journey back home. Since I'm traveling alone, I will have some time to better update the blog. I have a few great days planned so be sure to check back. Thanks for keeping up!
Missed updating the blog yesterday. It was kind of a day off in general from big adventure and a day on for urban cruising. We were all tired from our Washington trip and slept in a bit. We started off by heading over to Voodoo doughnuts. We've been to Voodoo several times up here and apparently the interest has grown. They now have barriers that divert the folks standing in line and there are a lot of folks standing in line. Instead of waiting for an hour, we headed over to the Saturday Market.
Saturday Market is own town and one of the coolest things in Portland. Part craft market, part gourmet food truck, part craft beer festival and part music and freak show. Mix in the fact that Germany and Argentina were playing in the World Cup so you could hear the boos and cheers from crowds that filled to pubs and bars of the surrounding area.

When it started raining, we headed over to the OMSI or Oregon Museum of Science and Industry to get inside. Dinosaurs and all kinds of fun displays kept our interest until it was time to get lunch. 

Bridgeport Brewing for beer and pizza hit the spot. When we walked in, we had the sense of coming our of a tornado shelter just after the storm. The world cup had everyone in the weeds 20 minutes before and now they staff was gathering themselves and service was slow so we didn't hand long. 

It was about 4:30 and I decided to get some house keeping done. We headed over the BMW or Portland and picked up four quarts of oil and then a NAPA for an oil pan and funnel. I had almost 3,00 miles on my oil even though it was changed only 8 days ago. I have over 3,000 more till I get home so I'm glad I had a chance to do this. I made sure to handle the used oil properly for recycling. IT's a bit more difficult disposing of oil here as local oil change businesses don't accept it. Not a problem though. 

While I'm mentioning it, I don't think I did earlier. One of my fog lights went out on the way up. I have them on a switch so I turned them off. I can't trouble shoot that without taking off several tank panels and it's too much to get into now. I like having the extra light on the road but I can live without them until I get back home. After my motorcycle maintenance, it was time to relax and wind down. One more day until I begin my journey back east. We will wake in the morning and all decide what we want to do. Until then, Adios!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

So sorry for the two day delay folks but we didn't get back to our hotel last night until 10:30. So where to begin? Ok, I'm going to go back a bit to the trip to Seattle. My cousin Sam told us about a wolf rescue on the was up so we decided to stop in. It was one of two official wolf sanctuaries in the US and  well worth the stop in. They have been active for over 30 years. They don't make any attempts to train or spend time with them in any level other than to feed them and allow them to have space to live out their lives in peace.

After we left there, we went to check in and I covered that in my previous post. We woke early to the sun rising over the snow covered mountain in the distance. I had left the drapes drawn so we'd have a natural alarm clock. It worked better than chickens. I love staying in small privately owned hotels and that is much easier up here as you see far less commercial businesses. Think local is in this places soul. 

We left the SUV on Anacortes and took the ferry over to Friday Harbor. Parking is too limited there. Friday Harbor is a small community that is rich in personality and there is no other method to reach it than the ferry. Every brick, board, gallon of fuel, hamburger patty and bottle of wine is hauled over. We had bought Regan a pint of cherries at a road side stand as they are in season. She made a comment that she could lie a stem in a know with her tongue. I saw she was eating a group of three cherries and told her than if she could tie the three stems together without breaking them off the main group in 5 minutes, I'd give her $20. I fell like I was taken by a pool shark! I'm still dumbfounded!

We checked in with the folks who we had chartered out trip with and were soon on our way. 

We ran out top the Canadian Border and found a group of two pods who had been spending some time there. To be honest, I wasn't that interested in the trip and almost didn't go but once there found that these big playful things couldn't be ignored. They really so seem to have a great time I'm happy to have had a chance to see them. 

When we finished the tour, we came back to Friday harbor and had an hour or so before the ferry was going to leave for Anacores and the truck so we took the time to have a few drinks and some great food. 

To say that is all for that day is silly since it was an amazingly fulfilling day. We all had a blast and the last thing we had to do was to drive 2.5 hours to get to our jump off hotel for the next days romp! We were about 10 minutes from our room and I saw blue lights behind me! I puled over and the police asked me for all the pertinent info and told me I was doing 52 in a 35. I told him I thought it was a 50 speed zone. He came back and was totally nice. He admitted that he was parked at the start of a 35 zone because the locals had not been slowing down since they had added the new speed limit through that section. I pointed at my gps where it showed it as a 50 mph zone. He said no problem.  Take care and have a great vacation. Whew!!! What a great opportunity for him to show a visitor how nice you are and he did well.

Ok, the hotel we stayed at last night was pretty cheap and I can attest that none of the small money was spent on mattresses. Wow, I could have slept better on a park bench! It's ok, adapt and conquer. 

We started off for My Rainier and the Grove of the Patriarchates. 

When you enter the Mt Rainier park system you have access to some of the great old growth up in this part of the world. Much of this area was cut years ago but some was help back and protected.

Standing beside these behemoths you fell so small and that is no easy task for me. 

That short 1.5 miles hike hike actually helped my knee. It fells pretty good right now and I hope this continues. Now off to Mt Rainier. The sad thing is that as I look up at this mountain, you have to realize that there are many bodies up there of climbers that have never been found. Rainier is used as a practice climb for folks working tword Everest.

It's been a heat wave up here and I find it odd standing in snow when it is almost 90 out. 

So on the way back to Sam's in Portland, he called and asked for our ETA. Turns out he cooked a wonderful shrinp and chicken pasta with salad and desert that I still have yet to try. For now, I'd like to say thank you for checking out my trip blog. I will try and do better and not skip a day. Tomorrow, we are heading onto Portland Downtown for all those things that it has to show up. Come back and see me then!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Good Thursday folks! I slept great last night. I think having Melissa and Regan back in the fold took a load off my mind. I was worried about them having problems with the flight up and was happy when I got word that they had arrived and my cousin Sam had picked them up. They did have some problems. Number one was that they had to fly out of New Orleans since Southwest left Jackson and flying non-SW would have cost nearly $1,000 more. In addition, when they arrived in New Orleans it was at the culmination of the Essence Fest. They almost missed the flight and once on the plane, still the drama continued as a girl  on their next connecting flight out of Houston had a full on panic attack at the thought of flying and she had to be taken off the plane. This made their arrival in Portland run 40 minutes behind schedule.

So today is Seattle day. When I say Seattle, really it's Anacortes which is an hour north of Seattle. It's the jumping off spot for tomorrow's whale watching trip. If you look at the map below, you'll see that from Olympia where to traffic begins to Anacortes is 2.5 hours. This is two and a half hours of tough traffic and I'm glad now to be done with it.

Annacortes is a quaint little sea fairing community here in Washington. This is the view from my room, note the snow capped mountain in the background. You can see it but just beyond those trees is the bay.

Dinner tonight is Bob's Chowder Bar just across the street. I tried a mix of several things. The fish taco was very nice with just a bit of heat. The grilled cheese was on sourdough with three antisense cheeses. Lastly a cup of their chowder which was the best I've ever had. All with an Alaskan Brewing Summer Ale. Perfect!

The funny thing about the northwest is that it stays light until almost 10:00. Last night I crashed at 9:45 feeling the weight of the last 6 days on the bike catching up. When I laid down, I could still still see it was light outside. I just checked the sunrise/sunset schedule. Crazy stuff:

So, until tomorrow, I bit you adieu! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Got an early start out of Boise. I ran hard in the dark for about an hour before turning off to the west with the sunrise on my back. Within an our I crossed the Oregon border and yelled victoriously in my helmet.

What Since it was 105 last night, I wasn't surprised that the morning already started warm. I started out with my mesh jacket only but something interesting happened. I was in a dry valley running with 79f temps and as I entered a long valley the temps started dropping. I literally watched my dashboard as it dropped over and over in less than five miles to 59f. There was nothing special about this place that I could contribute these dropping temperatures to. I am still scratching my head over that. No picture of this, sorry.

About 30 minutes later I reached an interesting sight. While I've heard different opinions of what shoes hanging from a tree may mean in an urban setting, I have no idea what this means in the middle of nowhere.

Soon after I had a terrible event occur that I fear may contribute to the demise of the rest of my trip. My XM radio antenna died. :( I don't know what to say other that today is the true day the music died, forget that plane crash stuff. I spend some time at a pull over trying to find a solution but nothing worked. Boo!

As I pulled out I began to enter a canyon that was stunning. 

This was an oasis that stretched for miles. I noticed several deer and all of a sudden one came out in front of me. I braked within 30ft which is far too close. I regained my composure and two miles later, I took a curve to find five cows in the road. Brake! As I left the canyon, I topped a hill and found four hippy cross country cyclist ridding four wide with a car coming on the opposite lane. Lock brakes down!!! Crisis averted.

I soon found a site for the Oregon trail. This guy was from Australia and was traveling across the US. I've seen a lot of cross country cyclist since I'm raking back roads. 

When I made the turn at Bend north. I could see Mt Hood. Pretty amazing that you can see it from almost 100 miles away. I am parking the bike for a bit in Portland at my cousins so I feel the end closing in. It reminded me of a time I went horse backing riding and when the horses sensed they were nearing the end of the ride, they sped up. That is me right now. My hood in it's splendor with cars after car of  snow boarders.

2,600 miles of bugs. I rode up to my cousin Sam's house and was happy. 

Melissa and Regan flew up to meet me. We went to the grocery and Sam, the girls and I all cooked an awesome meal. I'm full and happy right now. 

Until tomorrow! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Woke this morning and decided at the last minute to change my route to include a few sights. I let the hotel at about 6:30am after a terrible free hotel breakfast which I hardly ate. I traveled north from Rock Springs, Wyoming north to Jackson Wyoming.

First thing I'll say is that I have never seen so much vast space. This is the third day on the trip where I can ride for hours and not see a man made structure. It was early so the temps were cool but the terrain was dry and sparse. In the distance all around me I could see snow capped mountain ranges. The thing about this country is that you can see for an easy 75-100 miles. I would find a spot on the distant horizon where the road ended around a curve or hill and then count till I reached that place. It would take 20 minutes to get there. That is something we in Mississippi aren't used to and I may never get used to it.

I was booking at about 75 when I came to a building that turned out to be a gas station. There was a police SUV with the lights on. I thought "Oh no". As I came up, he got out of his car and put his hand up for me to stop. I muted my XM and said hello. He said, "It shouldn't take long, we only have about 100". Huh? I said "Sir?" He realized I wasn't local and said a rancher was moving a hundred head of cattle from one pasture to another and was coming down the road. I pulled over and watched these cowboys move the cattle. The were quick and efficient. In 10 minutes I was on my way without the ticket!

I looked down and noticed my SPOT GPS tracker was dead. I tried to re-start it and got the battery dead message. No tracking today. 

As I got closer to Jackson, those snow capped mountains got closer. I came into town and couldn't refuse the tourist pic at the town square. Jackson is a busy city buzzing with folks shopping and cars heading in and out of town. I didn't spend long here.

I then headed out to see the Tetons. This is an impressive mountain range. I wish I had time to get further north but I have many miles to go and much more to see.

I crossed over into Idaho and passed Crater of the Moon lava field. It goes on for miles and miles. It's amazing to see. There is even a campground there. Not my kind of camping.

I started warming up so I began to peel away layers. At some point as I closed on Boise, I looked down to see it was 105f! I got apicture at 104f. It was hot and I was cooking. I had been doing good hydrating but I felt a little dizzy and realized I hadn't drank anything in the last hour. Out here, you have to drink a quart and hour which is easily said but when you go though the 2 waters you bought at the last store and you've driven 3 hours since you saw a store or gas station, it can create a problem.

At this point, I'm done! Ive driven 578 miles and am ready to get to the hotel and relax. I checked in at 5:25 and at 5:27, I was here!

A few things I noticed; I've meet a lot of really nice folks. People drive well here. Even though I have 350 +/- miles on a tank of gas, I get gas when I see it for sale. I never know when I will get it again. Here in the west or at least where I've been in the last three days, you either live in the city or you live in the city. I mean who owns all this land? I could walk 200 yards off the road and feel like I'd be walking where nobody has walked either ever or in years. You don't see scattered houses or even farms out where I've been. 

Ok, good day but hot. Who would have guessed 105 in Boise? Not me!