Home sweet home

I’m writing this from a nice, non-moving chair in my living room with a fire in the fireplace.  I surprised myself with how many miles I do in one day and so made it home from Sandy, Utah (966 miles) in 2 days.  Yesterday was 531 miles and today 435.  The bike continues to amaze me and put in another bravura performance today, handling heavy rain and fog in the morning, warm and dry roads across central Washington, then heading over Blewitt and Stevens passes, dealing with rush hour traffic in Everett, and easing me into my driveway.  It’s now sitting in the garage, dry and warm.

The final mileage tally is 3,887 per the odometer, more like 3,576 miles corrected.  I was on the road 19 days and on 6 of those days I did very little riding, so 3,576 miles divided by 13 days = 275 miles per day on average.  Not too shabby for someone who’d never ridden more than 250 miles in one day and never done an overnight ride, let along a 3 week one.

For now it’s time to warm up, relax, and not go ANYWHERE!  I’ll have a few more blog entries in the next few days, so keep watching.

One final thought: follow your dreams, you never know where they might lead.

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This just in…

Here’s what I look like fully decked out – scary, huh?  Don’t let your kids anywhere near this dude!

All decked out and nowhere in particular to go.

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Chewing up the miles and spitting them out

I’m going to make this a short one because I’m totally knackered.  I started in Sandy, Utah this morning in a light drizzle, rode through rush hour on I-15, about an hour later the rain had stopped and I was out of all the traffic.  A gentle left got me on I-84 and into Idaho.

Then all hell broke loose, as in a torrential thunderstorm.  Black skies, lightening, hail, and drenching rain for 10 minutes.  I was going about 40 mph with my flashers on, riding the hump in the middle of the lane to stay out of the worst of the water, and the bike went through it like nothing was there.  I was impressed.  My rain suit also kept me completely dry and all my bags stayed dry as well, so all was good.

After the storm the sun came out and I turned up the wick, averaging about 80mph for quite a while.  Where my bike was getting 50+ mpg over the past 2 weeks, at these speeds it went down to the high 30’s, so after two quick tanks of gas I slowed down a bit to get better mileage.

Eventually the skies turned dark again and I could see rain all around me so I ducked into the first gas station to fill up the bike and myself and waited for the storm to pass.

Again the sun came out and by the time I got into Oregon I was cooking, so it was time to get out of the rain suit.  Ahhh, sweet relief.

My plan had been to stop in Boise but I was making great time and felt fine, so I played it by ear.  I checked by GPS for motels up the road and chose a town with a good selection and when I got there I reassessed how I was feeling and if it was raining.  I did this all the way to Baker City, OR, but once I got on the road I realized I was more tired than I thought.  The next town was La Grande so here I sit in the Super 8 Motel.

If anyone’s counting, that’s 521 miles today, in about 9 hours including stops.  And, boy, are my arms tired.  No, really, they are.

Tomorrow won’t be so nice, there’s a huge front coming in off the ocean tonight and tomorrow and it’s going to rain everywhere.  I’m going to stay on the east side of the Cascades to reduce the amount of rain I ride through, but the forecast is 100% rain everywhere so I can’t avoid it.  My goal is Wenatchee, WA, 248 miles away.  From there it will be a nice ride over the North Cascades Hwy. on Thursday and home.  It will feel so good to be home and not have to go anywhere.  Except work so I can pay for this trip!!

Good night Mrs. Calabash wherever you are

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Heading home

The races are over, I had a great time at the track, and now it’s time to pack up and head home.  Like the previous weeks, however, the weather is going to affect me.  I’ve checked the forecasts for west, north, and northwest of Salt Lake and it’s rain and showers with cool temps.  There’s no way to avoid it except stay here for about a week until this system passes, but that ain’t gonna happen.

I guess it’s time to find out how good my way cool rainsuit is, how waterproof my bags are, and how effective the new windshield is in the rain.  I’m going to see about getting a couple of trashbags and wrapping all my clothes in them just in case there’s a leak somewhere.

At this point I’m planning on just taking I-84, then crossing the Columbia up to the tri-cities, continuing up the east side of the Cascades and taking Hwy 20 across the mountains.  I figure the weather is hit or miss no matter what route I take, so I’ll go for the direct one with lots of towns and motels if it gets bad.

Yee-haw!!!

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Days 15, 16, and 17 – the races

I won’t bore you with all the details about the races, suffice it to say I’m having a great time.  It’s been a long while since I’ve been to any pro racing, let alone a world series, and the sights and sounds are fantastic.  And Miller Motorsports is a great facility, you can get very close to the track and see so much from almost anywhere.  They had spectators in mind when they designed it and it shows.  And the racing’s good, too!

Saturday morning was cold - that's more snow falling on the hills. It got warmer each day with Monday in the 70's.

This is how close you can get to the action!

The midway, home of lots of swag.

Very nice!

The track's located in a nice valley west of Salt Lake City.

That blue thing on the horizon is the Great Salt Lake. The air is humid and salty enough around here to rust cars and anything else made of steel.

A cool V-strom in the parking lot. I want to try this on my bike!!

I’m headed back to the track for the final races, then a good night’s sleep.  Tomorrow begins the slog back home – making miles is the priority so that means Interstate highways, with some 2-lane thrown in where ever I can.  It’s 950 miles via the Interstates or 1200 miles avoiding them, hopefully I can have a good ride and get home in 3 days.  Time will tell.

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Day 14 – Moab to Sandy

Day 13 – Moab to Sandy

I woke up to bright sunny skies and temps in the 70’s but I knew I was in for a dramatic weather change, so I got out of town early.  Thankfully the winds had died down somewhat so the trip north was better.  And then it happened for the second time – the Interstate!  I had no choice but to head 33 miles west on I-70 – yuk!!  The wind and the trucks (and the 75mph speed limit) made it eventful but I survived and got to Hwy 6 for the trip north to Sandy, Utah.

As the temperature got colder and the clouds more threatening I decided I’d forgo the side roads and take the Interstate again.  I wasn’t doing directly to my hotel but rather was meeting up with the owner of Pat Walsh Designs, a company that makes and sells parts for my bike.  The windscreen on my bike is too low for me and the air coming off the top of it hits me right in my helmet and causes some almighty buffeting that blurred my vision and made riding at higher speeds quite tiring.  I’d been emailing Gary for a while about getting an adjustable bracket and taller screen and I decided since I was in the neighborhood I’d buy them.  Turns out he runs the business from his home and he was gracious enough to invite me over and install and adjust the parts on my bike.  (After a few days of riding with the new screen and adjusting it slightly it’s made a huge difference.  I rode at 80 for a while today and my head wasn’t affected by the wind and I could even ride with my face shield open, something I couldn’t do before.)

(I asked Gary who Pat Walsh is, and he asked back, “Do know who the Dread Pirate Roberts is?”  Then commenced a long story but if you know about Roberts you’ll get the general idea.)  (And if not, you need to watch “The Princess Bride”.)

While at Gary’s house it began to rain lightly, so I bid him farewell and made it to the Hilton Garden Inn, my home for the next 4 days.  After staying in low budget, dive motels, this place is the lap of luxury.  Which is a good thing because this is what it looked like from the parking lot:

It was snowing in the hills just outside of town. Yea, snowing!

The weather said it was 52 degrees when I got into town and got into the 30’s that night.

Tomorrow the race track and World Superbike racing.

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Let’s see, where was I? Oh, right, Day 13

Oh right, I’d just pulled into Farmington after my long day.  Despite its name, Farmington is an oil town.  Haliburton has an enormous facility there and there all sorts of companies dealing with pipes, valves, compressors, and the like.  Not what you’d expect but the oil wells keep producing and the natural gas reserves are thought to be the largest in the lower 48.

I had an excellent steak dinner at the 3 Rivers Brewery and talked to the owner for a little (a motorcycle helmet is a great conversation starter!)  It’s a very redneck town and he wasn’t quite sure what he was doing there but the business is doing well so he’s sticking it out.  I asked about a good place for breakfast and he suggested Durango, CO, about an hour up the road.  Everything in town and in nearby Aztec are greasy spoon joints that serve the oil workers and aren’t worth eating at was his opinion.  I decided I’d just drive out of town in the morning and look for something.

The next morning I did just that and about a half hour later I was looking for anything I was so hungry.  I found a local place full of old people and the food was about as bland as could be.  It filled the whole is all I can say.  I was already looking forward to lunch.

Starting this day, my trip changed in tenor.  I had to be in Salt Lake the next evening, at the race track the following morning, and after the races I have only a few days to get back to Bellingham in time to return to work.  The sight-seeing and meandering roads were off the agenda and making good time has become the priority.  I have to admit that after 2 weeks on the road I’m getting antsy about getting home and staying in one place for a while.  However, the road beckons and I must obey.

A few miles after eating I was in Colorado so I stopped for gas and a map of the state and Utah, too.  I was only in CO for about 45 miles so that was an unnecessary purchase.

The ride into Durango was beautiful, mountains now, with a nice smooth road and a honking great tail wind.  It’s broken record time but the winds came up again, the weather service said 20-30 winds with gusts to 50, and they weren’t kidding.  As long as it was behind me all was good but the mountains caused gusts in all directions and it was a challenge.

I’d hoped to spend some time in Durango because I’d been told it’s a nice little town but the wind was telling me to move on before it got worse.  The road drops steeply into the town then follows the Animas River valley out.  At this point I headed west which put the wind directly on my left and I spent the next couple of hours leaning just to stay upright and hanging on for dear life.

Since I was going past Mesa Verda National Park I thought I’d take a look, which turned out to be the wrong decision.  The road to the ruins is 23 miles long and was in the process of being rebuilt.  They had recently ground the asphalt down, leaving deep grooves in the direction of travel.  Motorcycles don’t like grooves and my bike was wandering all over, as was the road and the motorhomes clogging it.  After 10 miles the grooves stopped but they had chip sealed the road that morning so now I was on thick gravel.  After some quick math I realized this was a 2 hour trip at the minimum and I didn’t want to use up that much time, so I turned around and headed back to the highway.

The view north from part way up the road to Mesa Verde

A canyon to the south

[Another hour of strong winds goes here]

I finally made it to Monticello, Utah, where I found the Peace Cafe.  It’s a cool hippie kinda place in the middle of Mormon country, rather unexpected.  However, they make a killer club wrap and blueberry milkshake, so I was happy as a clam.  They only had one table so I joined a local who chewed my ear off about the local powers in town and how they were doing everything in their power to stop him from building a big garage.  People are the same everywhere!

The best news about Monticello is that I turned north on Hwy 191 and had that d**n wind at my back almost the whole way into Moab.  I made some great time, cruising easily at 70 most of the way.

In Utah the landscape changed again, this time to well worn red sandstone.

I passed both Arches and Canyonland National Parks on this road, I suppose I’ll have to add these to the list of places to visit next time I’m in the area.  As it was Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, the roads were crowded with campers and motor homes, and the roads into these parks were crowded, so it’s probably a good thing I bypassed them.

I had tried to get motel reservations in Moab but everything in my price range was booked, so I figured I’d cruise the town and see what popped up.  Finding a motel here is like looking a grain of sand on a beach – they are everywhere!  As are restaurants and outfitters.  If you took those three businesses away you’d be left with a few houses and gas stations.  Eventually I chose The Virginian because it looked nice and had free wi-fi.  The Apache Motel (“stay where John Wayne stayed”) was tempting but a quick glance told me to move on.  I ended up getting a newly remodeled handicap room with a huge shower, so I scored.  I noticed the Harley riders all got rooms out front while I was all the way in the back.  Maybe I should have cleaned the bugs off the bike.  Oh well, I like the patina.

As you might have surmised, Moab is a major recreation destination, from mountain biking to ballooning and everything in between.  It turns out that this Memorial Day weekend there was a national Unimog happening, so the town was filling up with them.  What a truly weird sight.

The weather in Moab was unnerving, it was blowing like mad, over 90 degrees, and had a feeling like a storm was blowing in, but the skies were clear with nothing on the horizon.  There was a sort of energy about the wind that gave me an odd feeling, the willies perhaps.  Certainly not the heebie-jeebies, though, please don’t that impression.

The end of another day, with yet another one coming right up.

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