MP3 500 to Alaska
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Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Tue Jul 06, 2010 10:27 pm quote
June 26, 2010 map.

Map.jpg

Ossessionato
MP3 500, Ducati ST4s, Honda Silver Wing
Joined: 21 May 2008
Posts: 2646
Location: Nomad currently in Placerville, CA
Tue Jul 06, 2010 11:03 pm quote
Re: I slay the REAL Dragon.
Chiaroscuro wrote:
June 26, 2020

When I finally found a hotel room last night I bumped into the front desk clerk from hell. He talked my ear off about the color blue and how to use it effectively with yellow so it's not so overpowering to the senses
Maybe he thought that was a perfect artsy-fartsy conversation for a guy named Chiaroscuro.
Chiaroscuro wrote:
So this morning I decided to take that route and then from there I would connect up to 77 N in Bluefield. From Atkins you go back through Marion and make a right at the McDonalds to get on 16 N. It's called 16 N, Park Blvd and Bf Buchanan Hwy. They are all the same and it, my friends, is amazing. That fat bastard was right. Of course I'm not going back to thank him I might snap a tooth if I hear that high pitched screech that passes for a voice. The road is in great shape and the turn are too numerous to count there has to be 500+.

What makes it amazing is not the number but the quality and variety; off camber left then right, drops and ascension as well as long looping down hills with multiple turns including a few that almost completely turn back on themselves. I looked down at the track on my GPS and it shocked me. It looked like an MRI of my lower colon after a hard night of drinking Bud Light Lime's at Natalie's in Lakeland, FL. It was THAT twisted.

Oh yeah, great views and vistas every couple of miles. You work both sides of the mountain so the drop offs can be on the left or right side.

And did I mention that for the great majority of the ride the speed limit is 55 mph? Yeah that's not a typo 55 mph. That's insane. Of course I had a hard time cracking 40 on most the ride I wanted to 'save' my engine for the trip ahead otherwise look out.

I felt it was divided into three distinct sections. Right off you get into the twisties with great elevation changes, then you drop out into farm land and you think the ride is over but the speed picks up and you get long sweepers with elevation changes thrown in. Finally you get back into the twisties come to the other side of the mountain and drop back down again with some great views.

It runs through Hungry Mother State Park which is pretty impressive as you approach it from the south. It, Hungry Mother, has a beach! They have sand. Fantastic.

What it doesn't have are crowds. I did not pass one motorcycle in the 30+ miles I rode on this route. I had a few, probably less than 15, cars going the other way.
Sounds like a great ride; really like your writing style dude.
Moderatus Rana
MP3 250 (sold) MP3 500 (current)
Joined: 11 Jul 2008
Posts: 21456
Location: Palatka, Florida
Wed Jul 07, 2010 10:01 am quote
Yeah a windscreen makes all the difference. Enjoy reading your posts. Keep the bugspattered side up.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Wed Jul 07, 2010 8:42 pm quote
June 27 - 28, 2010
June 27, 2010

Off day to admire my windscreen and let my rear-end heal. I did figure out how to put the Piaggio medallion back in. The tabs that are on it are too small for the slots cut in the GIVI screen. Hence, the double backed tape. Now it's complete.

My brother and I did head up to Cabala's and a side trip to Best Buy.

I'm using a VHoldR to shoot video with but I've had issues getting the battery to recharge. I've had problems since I ordered it while I was in Iraq. It's now out of warranty so I can't return it. Looking at the online posts and having one to work with this has to be a design defect in the manufacturing run of the one I have.

The battery has to be seated securely for it to charge from a USB cable hooked up to your computer. The only way to do this for me is to slide some paper along the battery as you insert it into the camera or slip something under the arm that holds the battery in the camera. Both are 'pains in the ass' to get. You have to fiddle with it to get just the right amount of pressure for the USB charging to begin.
So, Best Buy for a battery. No go. Foiled again, on to Cabalas.

I fought it but I picked up a dry bag to put my gear in. I wanted what I had to work but what I'm using just doesn't work and it's not waterproof. And it looks pretty (fill in with an appropriate word as I don't want to offend anyone).

I looked at duffle bags and dry back packs. I ended up buying a top loading backpack. My thinking is that this will be easier to carry than a duffle bag with handles or a single strap. Only time will tell if this is the right decision. But at least everything will be dry.

We put RideOn in the tires when we got back. The installation was pretty straight forward without any issues.

June 28, 2010

My brother and I headed to the Mill Creek gorge area in Lansing, WV early in the morning to do a 'canopy tour' - zip lining - put on by Class VI. It's touted as WV's longest canopy tour.

We had a great time. I've always wanted to do zip lines and this was a great introduction to it.

They have 10 zip lines and 5 cable bridges that you get to zip along and walk over. The longest zip line is 5000' long and you get going over 60 mph! Ok, at least that's what it felt like. It may have been a bit shorter and a bit slower but I defy anyone to prove me wrong.

The weather was great. It was a bit hot as we were getting ready but very shortly you're up under the trees 'the canopy' and in the shade. We had a few showers at the end of the trip but no one seemed to care. In fact with the wet zip lines you can get going even faster and it's much more difficult to slow down. What a perfect storm for an accident. Cool.

This is really a great adventure experience and if you're in the area you should try it. It would also be a great add-on if you happen to be the New River Gorge area rafting. And of course don't forget Bridge Day in October!

It was a long tiring day. I tried to make it an early evening as I still hadn't completely figured out how to cram everything into my new dry bag. It was a past the point of no return moment since I had dropped off the old luggage at my brothers and this had to work.

Hopefully the weather holds and I can get out of Clarksburg early in the AM headed west finally

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GIVI Screen.

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GIVI Screen.

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This is embarrassing.

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It's all downhill very fast from here.

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It does sway a bit.

Ossessionato
Jeep 4dr. Rubicon, Hard Rock
Joined: 17 Nov 2005
Posts: 2529
Location: Olympia, WA
Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:17 am quote
Yesterday in Seattle
I ran in to Chiaroscuro at Big Peoples Scooters (Vespa Seattles service side) yesterday. It was a very hot day for our area. I think he said he'd just gotten in from Spokane WA and had scheduled a service for his MP3. Jeff was taken care of him.

Was interesting to hear about his trip and like he said earlier, he and his MP3 500 hit the road right off the show room floor.

His adventures sound like the trip we'd all like to be on right now!

Nice guy. Gave him my card and said if he gets back through the area to give us a call. Dinner is on me!
Banned
MP3 500
Joined: 20 Aug 2008
Posts: 4530
Location: Ashburn, Va
Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:28 am quote
Re: Yesterday in Seattle
Turkman wrote:
I ran in to Chiaroscuro at Big Peoples Scooters (Vespa Seattles service side) yesterday. It was a very hot day for our area. I think he said he'd just gotten in from Spokane WA and had scheduled a service for his MP3. Jeff was taken care of him.

Was interesting to hear about his trip and like he said earlier, he and his MP3 500 hit the road right off the show room floor.

His adventures sound like the trip we'd all like to be on right now!

Nice guy. Gave him my card and said if he gets back through the area to give us a call. Dinner is on me!
Wait, he's in WV, how did you see him in Seattle?
Ossessionato
Jeep 4dr. Rubicon, Hard Rock
Joined: 17 Nov 2005
Posts: 2529
Location: Olympia, WA
Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:46 am quote
Re: Yesterday in Seattle
StooterBoy wrote:
Wait, he's in WV, how did you see him in Seattle?
That would be a trick! Unless the heat is getting to me. He was at Big Peoples Scooters on 1st Ave, in Seattle yesterday. He said he was heading to Canada when his MP3 service was finished.
Veni, Vidi, Posti
. . 2008 Blue MP3 400. . di Peluria Orso .... 1993 Kawasaki Vulcan 500 ....... 2013 Honda NC700XD; 2017 Versys X300
Joined: 02 Jun 2008
Posts: 6153
Location: Milledgeville, GA
Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:22 am quote
Re: Yesterday in Seattle
StooterBoy wrote:
Wait, he's in WV, how did you see him in Seattle?
Look at the WV post again. it was posted July 8 and dated June 27. He has had time to gett to the west coast.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:47 pm quote
Re: Yesterday in Seattle
Fuzzy wrote:
StooterBoy wrote:
Wait, he's in WV, how did you see him in Seattle?
Look at the WV post again. it was posted July 8 and dated June 27. He has had time to gett to the west coast.
One of the most difficult things is keeping up with posts, photos, video, sleep, etc. That in itself is a full time job.

Yes I am on the West Coast, kind of not now but close. I'm trying to edit as fast as I can. I even have a few minutes of video that I'd like to post but can't find the time to convert, edit and post. I figured I'd post as I go rather than wait for the entire trip to be over and then probably something shiny or curvy would catch my eye, I'd put it off for a few days, then I'd go on a vacation from this trip, get engaged, married, kids, kids college, divorced, reconciliation, move to Thailand and get a Thai bride, back to states (sans Thai bride) reconcile with the third ex-wife....you get the idea.


Turkman gave you a peek behind the curtain. These aren't real time posts.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:50 pm quote
Re: Yesterday in Seattle
Turkman wrote:
I ran in to Chiaroscuro at Big Peoples Scooters (Vespa Seattles service side) yesterday. It was a very hot day for our area. I think he said he'd just gotten in from Spokane WA and had scheduled a service for his MP3. Jeff was taken care of him.

Was interesting to hear about his trip and like he said earlier, he and his MP3 500 hit the road right off the show room floor.

His adventures sound like the trip we'd all like to be on right now!

Nice guy. Gave him my card and said if he gets back through the area to give us a call. Dinner is on me!
You never said anything about dinner is on you! I'm turning around. I should be back around 0430 - I like to eat early.
Ossessionato
Jeep 4dr. Rubicon, Hard Rock
Joined: 17 Nov 2005
Posts: 2529
Location: Olympia, WA
Thu Jul 08, 2010 6:46 pm quote
Re: Yesterday in Seattle
Chiaroscuro wrote:
You never said anything about dinner is on you! I'm turning around. I should be back around 0430 - I like to eat early.
Come back this way and Cathy and I will take you to our favorite place for dinner!
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:41 pm quote
Back on the road.
June 29, 2010

I tried to get up early, around 0330, but since I was still awake at 0130 I decided to kill the alarm. Besides I can't stand the sound of it anyway, it wakes me up.

I ended up getting on the road from Clarksburg at about 0745. I was surprised that I left that early because as soon as I turned off the alarm I drifted off to sleep. I should have slept till noon.

The big debate I had with myself was where to go. Yes, Alaska is the end result but by what path?

Talking to my brother he mentioned The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. And I was interested in seeing what all this fuss was about concerning Sturgis. Hmm, and Sturgis is on the way to the Little Bighorn. And down the road from Sturgis is that big mountain that has all those presidents carved into it. A triple header! And it's only a little over 1700 miles down the road. How could I pass this up?

I had purchased a dry bag at Cabela's on the 27th but had never really packed anything into it to see if I could make it work. Well I finally got to it last night before quickly losing interest in it and now it was crunch time.

The bag is essentially a back pack dry bag. It has a webbing system for carrying it on your back but I can't imagine you carrying it far as it is not that comfortable even wearing it around my hotel room. Maybe it was my PJs that was making it so uncomfortable.

This bag loads from the top like a back pack as opposed to the way a gym bag might load - side load. The other choice I had at Cabela' was a large duffle bag that side loaded.

I really didn't know which would work as I only knew I needed something different than what I was using. Grandma's luggage just wasn't working. Besides women were laughing at me during refueling stops and I couldn't have that.

So I flipped a coin and went with a back pack dry bag. At the last minute I grabbed another small dry bag in case I couldn't get everything into the big bag.

So I top loaded everything in this morning. Surprisingly almost everything went in. I started to run out of time so I couldn't figure out how to get a small backpack I had to fit in the dry bag. So I decided to wear the back pack with a few odds and ends in it.

Rather than put the back pack in the small dry bag and then have to figure out how to carry the small dry bag that held the back pack. Say that three times.

The dry bag was about 2/3rds the size of the Samsonite roller I've had for the last few days. In fact length wise on the scooter there was very little over hang on the rear end. I positioned it as far back as I thought prudent so that I would have room to wear the backpack and not be pushed too far forward.

Plus it looked kind of manly, maybe even sexy, in comparison to the Samsonite. Who knows this maybe the chick magnet I've been searching for? $125 of rubber coated fabric with straps? Who would have thought it so simple?

Out of Clarksburg on 50 W. Probably the first time that I've been truly headed west the whole trip. The sun was rising behind and I was throwing out a long shadow of me on the scooter out in front of me. As time passed the shadow began to recede as the sun rose behind me and my liver slowly metabolized the alcohol from the night before I was feeling great to be back on the road.

I headed west towards Parkersburg. The road was in great shape with little to no construction, slight elevation changes and a few great views. Throughout WV there are thousands of miles of these kinds of roads. For long periods of times you would think that you are in a National Forest because of the dense growth on either side of the road. Occasionally I would come across a deer lying beside the road.

As usual for WV a 65 mph speed limit is invitation to drive as fast as that 15 year old pickup or 9 year Ford Focus can go. If you're not doing 85+ with smoke bellowing from dual exhausts sticking up from the bed of your truck don't even think about getting into the left lane.

The windscreen worked out wonderfully. I felt little to no buffeting. At 70 mph, in the slow lane of course, I could lean into the screen flip up the helmet visor and I would feel no wind movement on my face and just hear the motor humming away. 70 mph is now the new 55 mph.

I passed trucks, I was passed, I was trapped behind a truck with two trucks on my right and I survived. Still some side to side movement but all in all a very comfortable ride. Some of this may be attributed to the dry bag but I would have to give most of the credit to the wind screen. What a great bargain for only $225 shipped next day.

Thinking about an MP3 500? Do not buy one without a windscreen. Include it in your negotiations. Trust me on this one.

The seating position with the dry bag and wearing a backpack seemed a bit cramped at first but as time went by I got used to it. I could lean back into the dry bag and take some of the strain off my back and this helped with the ride.

In Parkersburg I should have taken 77 N and then to 70 W. Instead I continued on 50/33. I have to start looking at a map the night before. Some of the small towns that you go through have a 35 mph speed limit so this really makes it difficult if you want to make some miles.

One of the small towns you pas through is Hocking which has an old abandoned drive in theatre out by 33. It kind of reminds me of a drive in movie theater that I've been watching slow slowly disintegrate for the last 15 years out on Hwy 60 going to Bartow from Tampa. It used to be you could almost picture cars pulled up on those little humps so you get a great view of the screen it as in such great shape. But as time has marched on grass and now trees are slowly growing up where the cars used to be parked. Anyway, this old theatre outside Hocking is still standing vigil over the road.

And right close to Hocking is Nelsonville which has a big Rocky Boots outlet store for your shopping pleasure.

Somewhere in this area I hit a frost heave, or just poor construction. It struck the scooter so hard I was lifted off the seat and my feet were just lightly touching the foot boards. I came very close to losing control of the scooter. And I almost lost control of my bowels it was so close.

Pulling into Columbus I was shocked as to how depressing the city looked. I got off, maybe at the 'wrong' exit, to look for a gas station and was surprised at the condition of the neighborhood. I was born n Columbus. What happened? What didn't help matters was that it was overcast and stormy looking which only added to the gloomy details.

You get on 70 W in Columbus and finally get to make some time. In Xenia the sun finally made an appearance.

In Dayton I got more attention than anywhere so far on the trip. Cars were honking; people yelled out of car windows and from sidewalks and cars were swerving over into other lanes to look. Was my fly unzipped? Am I on fire? It was surreal.

I had some guy come up to me in Dayton as I was pumping gas and tried to explain to ME how this scooter works. He had me for a few moments then I finally interrupted to ask if he had ever seen one before. He hadn't and drifted off to the next set of pumps. Dayton, land of the strange.

A bit past Dayton you now cross into Indiana. I pulled in to get a quick look at the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle since I was getting gas. I'm not a big basketball fan so I wasn't that impressed.

Just down the road was a cemetery that spanned both sides of the road. I'm not sure of the occasion or why but it seemed like every grave had flowers or a flag on it. And it was a huge cemetery. Now that impressed me. Great job New Castle!

While I was taking pictures some lady shouted at me that mopeds weren't allowed in the cemetery. I shouted back "If I see any I'll let them know". I'm sure she still hasn't got that one figured out.

On to Indianapolis. I would have liked to get a peek at the speedway assuming they give tours to scooter riders but I wanted to make some miles today.

Finally Champaign, IL and a bed at the Holiday Inn.

I went to Wal-Mart after dinner. Great job waiting on me Celia. I bought a webbed strap with latching mechanism that I'm going to see tomorrow if it works better than the bungees I'm using.

Scooter is running great, windscreen is wind screening great and that pillow is saving my life.

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New dry bag with bungees.

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It's the MAN, always trying to keep you down

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Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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Good job New Castle.



Last edited by Chiaroscuro on Tue Aug 24, 2010 6:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:45 pm quote
June 29, 2010

Map.jpg

Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:29 am quote
Next: Corn and more corn.

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Corn and windpower.

Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Tue Jul 13, 2010 8:02 pm quote
June 30, 2010
June 30, 2010

I rearranged the dry bag that I had. Yesterday I packed from the top and I didn't seem to have enough room. Therefore I wore the backpack that I have - one that I dreamed of using hiking the backwoods of Alaska in search of the ever elusive (fill in appropriate elusive Alaskan animal name here, or incredibly hot Alaskan female here) but I know in my heart is probably not going to get used much. I should have compromised and used a few plastic Wal-Mart bags; lighter, easier to pack. Yet wearing the backpack yesterday allowed me to lean back in a pretty comfortable angle after a few minor adjustments.

Today I packed the bag with it lying on its side. I was able to get everything in including the back pack that I so dreamed of wearing while chatting up the future ex-Mrs. Chiaroscuro. The load and size; seemed slightly larger than yesterday but not too unwieldy. Thankfully it is set up like a backpack with a strapping system to carry it on your back for short distances. Like from a bar floor you woke up face down with the image of a foreign coin forever imbedded into your cheek or perhaps an apartment of someone who's name you can't remember the next day and call her 'babe' until you excuse yourself and go out in the alley behind that apartment looking for the scooter you vaguely remember riding up on at 0300. But yeah, I'm sure that's why they call it a backpack or an escape from the mistake you made last night pack. Either one works,

Last night I also picked up a set of ratcheting straps. The kind you might use to strap down a scooter to a trailer if you wanted to pretend it was a Harley and you were headed to Sturgis or anyplace else in the world where you could have a good time. I got a lightweight pair with the intention of seeing if I could just run this strap around the bag in an 'x' fashion once rather than all the bungees cords I've been using.

And surprisingly it went on fine and snug without too much jostling. I had plenty of room on the seat behind me. Finally something I have yet to experience on this trip; a place to stretch. Actually it was a bit disconcerting as I now had nothing to lean against. I decided to go with that for the day to see how it felt.

Out of Champaign on 74 W which goes NW through the Lake of the Woods and then skirts north of Clinton Lake towards Peoria. I got that frost heave dance from time to time but for the most part a pretty decent road.

Rounding and avoiding most of Peoria using 51/55 and then back on 74 W north and then NW again. They are rebuilding the bridge over what I thought was a river but it is in fact Peoria Lake.

What's amazing about the area is the interstate through Peoria. It looks like it opened just a few weeks ago. Smooth, wide broad sweeping turns, with moderate elevation turns. And the traffic was minimal when I rode through. It was like something that had been created for a movie it was that out of place to everything I've ridden through. Am I riding into Nuremberg in the summer of '34?

I stopped at the Spoon River south and east of Galesburg/Knoxville. Answered a few dozen questions and had a drink. Non-Alcoholic of course as it was before noon. Just past there was a billboard advertising a 36 Hole Championship Golf course. The course wound through a corn field next to the interstate. Sort of a 'Green of Dreams'. Get it? Field of Dreams; the Kevin Costner movie, Green of Dreams. Of course that's Iowa not Illinois.

Around the Galesburg/Knoxville area 74 W turns north heading towards Moline. Galesburg is the home of Carl Sandburg. He won three Pulitzers; one for a biography of Abraham Lincoln and two for poetry which I did not know. I remember him for '"Sometime they'll give a war and nobody will come.' Galesburg; birthplace of Carl Sandburg nice to see you.

The plan was to take 280 around the southern side of Moline/Davenport and then onto 80 W for the run to Des Moines. I passed through the Rock Island area over some small bridges and looking at the river they looked swollen to me. I 'm not sure if they are at flood stage or they are naturally at this level. They were beautiful though and I got to use the word swollen!

Into Iowa. Which I believe the state motto is something like "Fields of Opportunity". I wonder if that's a play on that Costner movie. Which came first?

My GPS had a mind of its own and detoured me into Bettendorf. Not sure why but I played along for a few minutes thinking that I was bypassing something cataclysmic even though I didn't purchase that option on the GPS.

I finally pulled in for gas. Filled up and gave the attendant a complete run through of the scooter all the while cars backed up at the pump. I reset the GPS and headed out.

I stopped in Kellogg, IA for more fuel and food. The sign said "Iowa's Best Burger Cafe'. I decided to prove this. Since this was going to be the only burger I had in Iowa it was probably pretty easy.

The fry cook didn't blink when I challenged her to prove that she made the best burger in Iowa. I have to agree without a doubt that was the best burger I've ever eaten in Iowa. I also had some ice cream that was the best I've ever had in Iowa as well. Could they give 5 Guys a run for their money? Perhaps. The price was sweet as I paid less than $8 for a great meal.

On the west side of Des Moines is Winterset. The birthplace of John Wayne. I wonder if the Duke would approve of the MP3 500?

And of course this is Madison County. You know 'Bridges of Madison County', Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood heat up the screen in a faux romance that gets everybody believe that they too can find love. I LOVE THAT MOVIE!

I wonder if the Duke would approve of that movie. I stood up on the scooter a few times but didn't see any covered bridges. Where are those damn things?

Road conditions were good but I got hit on occasion by frost heaves that were bit harsher that earlier in the day. Not enough to kick me off the seat but pretty jarring. Some side winds on occasion were complicated by passing trucks that kept me in my lane but very manageable all in all.

The windscreen is working. I'm getting comfortable at cruising at about 15 mph faster that I was in the early part of the trip. Don't buy an MP3 500 without a windscreen!

Corn. Did I mention there is corn here? Corn for as far as the eye can see. And some other leafy green vegetable I'm not sure what it is. But predominately corn. As much corn as I saw today it's still not enough corn to supply The Dillard House for one days serving.

Throughout the day I had been passing these large trucks carrying a single wind turbine blade. These things are huge. I was in GTMO for a few years and they have a wind turbine system up on the hill above the main part of the base. I've been up to see the windmills but I've never been this close to the blades. It was mesmerizing to see them flex and sway on the trailer as either I passed or they passed me. What was strange was there were trucks hauling blades both east AND west.

I finally ran across a wind turbine in Stuart, IA. But I only saw this one and it wasn't turning. Where in the heck were all the turbines or was there a wind turbine manufacturing facility close by? And do they give tours? And do they have a microbrewery onsite?

The mystery was solved when I rolled into Adair. Adair's wind farm is producing 174800 kW of power. I'm not sure how much that is but it seems like a lot. There are about 200 wind turbines in the area. I think they are beautiful and as they are set back in, for the most part, cornfields only add to their beauty. I believe that Iowa is something like the third largest producer of wind power in the world.

While trying to get close to one of the turbines to take pictures I ran across an historical marker on a side road. It was the site of the first train robbery in the west. It was committed by Jesse James and his gang. Not the Jesse James that cheated on Sandra Bullock and crushed the dreams of Harley rider's worldwide. This Jesse James had morals, a conscience and who could be trusted; the train robber James. If not for the wind turbines I would have never seen it. Yo, Sandra!

Further on 80 W becomes 680 and then I changed over to 29 N. 29 north sucks. The road is broken and patched everywhere. It looks like they drizzled hot tar in holes to hide the defects. In a couple of places they've filled potholes in with concrete but neglected to even it out with the rest of the road.

There are a few elevation changes here and then after a few miles you drop out onto a plain/valley? I could see what I thought were mountains in the distance but I wasn't too sure just how far away they were. Behind me were only hills so these could be hills as well but because of the perspective I was seeing them as they looked larger. I had arrived at Missouri Valley, Iowa.

I got a room at the Days Inn, I think that it is a converted grain warehouse but I'm too tired to look elsewhere. It's sad but usable.

495 miles today. I could have gone on and busted 500 but I was too tired.

Big day tomorrow as I'm going to try and make it to Sturgis and see what all this fuss is about with this town. There's a new sheriff rolling their way.


Mileage today: 495 Trip total: 3124

Avg. miles/day: 446

Fuel expenses: $29.33 Trip total: $179

Food/drink: $20.71 Trip total: $213.57

Fuel avg.: 48.5 mpg Trip avg.: 51.5 mpg

Misc. $0 Trip total: $183.86

Beer: $0 Trip total: $44.79

Room: $70.55 Trip total: $762.78

Total expenses: $1384

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Wasserbahn miniature golf is AWESOME!

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Sandra should have married this Jesse.

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Nice.

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June 30, 2010 Map

Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Wed Jul 14, 2010 11:22 am quote
Soon: Those damn swiss tourists!
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Fri Jul 16, 2010 10:29 pm quote
July 01, 2010
Hell is 15 degrees to the left.

Do not eat at the Taco John's in the parking lot of the Days Inn in Missouri Valley, Iowa. I repeat; do not eat at the Taco John's in the parking lot of the Days Inn in Missouri Valley, Iowa even if the hotel gives you a 99% off coupon. You WILL thank me.

A couple of quick donuts, warm OJ, toast but no jam and I'm out of the parking lot headed for...Nebraska. I didn't want to go to Nebraska, my GPS told me I was going the wrong way but for some reason I rolled 20 miles out of the way. It was only after I went across the Missouri River that I realized I had screwed up.

After all my bitching about 29 yesterday I got on 30, which is a much better highway and should have clued me in, and just let the miles roll. Nebraska? I'm not even a Cornhuskers fan. And I've seen so much corn recently I may never eat popcorn again. U-Turn and back to my friend 29.

Oh, how I love thee 29, let me count the ways; pot holes unfilled, mismatched seams, uneven edges between the road and bridges - all the bridges. Think me upsetting the scooter on this miserable piece of asphalt. I have a great dental plan but I'm still concerned about chipping a tooth or two. Who got a kickback to approve these repairs? I want names.

And to add to all this misery they are tearing the road up and replacing it. That's a great idea because it's beyond repair. But in tearing it up they've created a mess with traffic.

It quickly went to two lanes with a 55 mph speed limit. Lucky or unlucky I happened to be at the front of a long line of traffic. The wind was kicking up and combining it with the turbulence I was getting from the opposing traffic it was, at times, difficult to keep up the 55 mph all the time. But I tried.

However, I believe that many of the drivers behind be must be from WV because they were stacked in a long ribbon of rubber and steel behind me. On some of the long sweeping turns you couldn't tell where one vehicle stopped and one started. I kept a steady 55 mph when I could but I suspect 75 mph was probably the norm here. Oh, and the guy behind me was so close in my mirror I could almost count nose hairs. There was a lot of distance between exits so everyone behind me had plenty of time to come up with an original expletive they were going to throw at me if they ever got the chance.

Hah, I wasn't going let that happen. After 45 minutes I pulled into a truck stop for a break. Lucky for them no one followed in as I would have made short work of their vacation. At least I think I would have.

I saw a marker I didn't realize that this stretch of highway was part of the Lewis and Clark trail. Talk about some history here. The road was in better condition when the came through.

Further north I traveled on 29. The sections that they had completed but did not let traffic on looked so tempting. So smooth, so silky, so inviting. Like a big wide ribbon of white alpine chocolate laid out to warm in the rising sun. Yeah, no significant breakfast and plenty of time on my hands.

A cross wind was picking up buffeting me around and when you combine this with turbulence from oncoming traffic moving at 75 mph only 5 feet away from you this adds up for some real dicey handling. For awhile I really didn't think I could keep up any sort of a pace as the wind/turbulence was overwhelming at times. Truck after truck, those big Montana campers pulled by those big Ford F650 all pushing a big wave of air at you to mix it up with the steadily increasing crosswinds.

Then I saw it. A nightmare rolling towards me. No not Mel Gibson pulled over again. Wait, that's a train wreck. A double FedEx truck trailer combo followed by two other tractor trailers with what looked like less than 5 feet of space between each truck. Do they teach this at truck driving school?

I was frightened and I screamed really loud just as I got hit by the first wall of air. I'm sure no one heard me as the scream was carried away by the stiff crosswinds to wake some sleeping child on the other side of the valley. It was that loud and scary. We will both have nightmares for a week centered on that awful screeching sound I made.

As I met them I was already pulling to the left to fight the cross wind when the first wave pushed me back and up on seat. Thankfully my pillow stayed put. As this rolled over me the cross wind stepped in and pushed me right and left whipped me left almost simultaneously. How that happened is beyond me but I'm still not sure how a hurricane forms and I live in Florida.

Then the wave from the other truck hit me while I was leaning over to the left. Cue the crosswind, get pushed left and then right, scream, get hit by the third truck and then almost end up in the oncoming traffic lane for a little variety, fight crosswind, go upright briefly. All the while my helmet has slowly started to rotate on my head.

And that was the easy one.

I do two or three long sweeping lefts and rights in my lane from the extreme right side stripe back to the lane divider just to show anyone watching what great handling the Piaggio has. And yes, I have broken a sweat.

Back in the center of the lane, speed at 60 mph I look up and spy yet two more large trucks doing, by my estimate, 100 mph towards me. It was a Coca Cola truck followed by a Pepsi truck so closely that I thought for an instant the Coke truck was towing the Pepsi truck or the Pepsi truck was pushing the Coke truck. They blew by me so fast I swear I didn't see the red or blue of the trucks only purple as my brain didn't have time to process the individual colors. Fast.

I got pushed over to the right so far my right front wheel almost dropped off the pavement. Then I got hit with the crosswind and combined with the suction of the two trucks I got pulled over to the extreme left. I fought it but ever so slowly I was being pulled into the oncoming lane. I got so close to the plastic lane dividers that they have standing up I swear I could see the handprints of the road workers who installed them. Close, ever so close.

Then it was over, I was upright and fighting the crosswind, and we rolled back into 4 lanes heading north. For the briefest of moments I had a feeling wash over not unlike the feeling you probably experience when you get tapped for Skull and Bones your junior year at Yale. A sense of accomplishment, you've arrived. But it was ever so brief. I rode on refusing to stop and check my polyester shorts.

Iowa loves Lewis and Clark. There's the Lewis and Clark trail markers, Lewis and Clark State Park and in Sioux City the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and the Lewis and Clark stadium.

On I went to Sioux Falls, SD. I made reservations in Sturgis last night. Generally I won't make reservations because this puts a lot of pressure on you to 'make' the mileage. However, I knew Sturgis was a small town and I didn't know the room situation. I would have hated to do all the mileage and not find a room. It almost turned out to be a wrong move.

From Sioux Falls I turned west on 90. This was to be one of the most memorable parts of the trip. There's nothing past Sioux Falls on 90 for a very long way. Well except maybe Draper, IA which to me seemed like a way stop for serial killers headed out west. In fact Sturgis is 360 plus miles from Sioux Falls. You pass, among other things, through the grasslands.

Grass plus no trees plus unbelievably long distances to the mountains equals no wind break.

Right out of Sioux Falls I got hit hard by a northerly cross wind that I would have to estimate was 40 mph. It was miserable. I would fight and fight it all the while leaning left into it at about a 15 degree tilt. If I let go for an instance I know that I would have been pushed over. On I went.

I stopped at exit 84B, the Humboldt exit, and asked at the visitor's center if they thought the wind might die down a bit as the day wore on. I got laughed at by a state employee. Can you believe that? And on I went leaning to the left.

Quite a few times I saw trucks hauling wind turbine blades. I wasn't surprised to see that n this part of the country. This could be ground central for wind energy. I hadn't seen any wind turbines though working though.

Early on in this part of the nightmare, I mean trip, I saw signs for the Mitchell Holiday Inn. If I hadn't made reservations for Sturgis I would have pulled in and spent the night. They have a bar! That's how tired I was. I passed up a quiet evening in a windproof bar. From Mitchell it's still 300 miles to Sturgis.

I fought and fought. It got so bad at times that I don't think I could ride upright if my life depended on it. I was doomed to ride on at a 15 degree angle to the left, I hurt. One section seemed like it took two hours to get through. Wrong, less than 15 miles when I finally go a chance to look down at the GPS. Come on, the French fight at Dien Bien Phu was shorter than this.

I was fighting so hard that I neglected to keep track of my fuel. I looked down, ever so briefly, and the low fuel warning light was on! I rode on till Kimball came into view. Thankfully they had a gas station.

At Chamberlain I crossed the Missouri River which had white caps from the wind. The view was spectacular when you climbed back up on the plain.

Crossing the river meant only one thing though; 150 more miles of those damn Wall Drug signs. Haven't they heard of the internet, radio advertising? Come on change with the times! Get with it! Please, it's the west's version of South of the Border which I can't stand either.

Yes I know there's a Wall Drug sign in 'Kenya Africa', I don't want any free ice water, and Ok you've got a Cowboy Orchestra, but come on stop with these signs. And I had 150 more miles of reading them while leaning over into the wind. At least I was leaning away from them.

I stopped in Draper for gas. This was a small, at least at the freeway stop, one gas station town. I pumped, walked into the metal building that served as the office. Found a guy with a mullet and no shirt behind the counter. Turned around and came eye to eye with what was the meeting of the Midwest Serial Killer's Fraternity meeting that I stumbled on. Left a $10 on the counter, 'change not necessary' and rolled out of there fast. Strange and squirmy scary.

Just before Draper I looked over to my right and saw a bicyclist on what appeared to be the old two lane 90 that ran parallel to the freeway broke down. He looked like one of those guys you read about in the free editions of your local newspaper: 'Frank Morgan, an engineer from Perth Australia is touring America with just a bicycle pulling a trailer with all his possessions and his beloved cat Mr. Bobo. He hopes to complete the visit to all 50 states by 2034'. Reed thin, wearing sun bleached shorts he probably found behind a closed IGA, sandals (probably made of hemp), a holey wife-beater T celebrating the Dolphin's perfect 1972 season, headband made of bison intestine. That guy. For a fleeting moment things were looking up for me.

By now I was seeing hay rolls everywhere. It finally dawned on me that there wasn't a corn stalk for as far as the eye could see. But hay, man there was a lot of hay. It seemed like they went off into the horizon for 20 miles or more.

For just a moment I felt good about my situation until a double FedEx truck almost blew my helmet off.

Then the Badlands began appearing on my left. It was a bit of a surprise when you looked over one minute and you have a great view of the plains and then you look back and there are the Badlands.

You can ride through the Badlands on 240. It cost $5 for the scooter. Well worth it. I ended up riding most of it twice. I wish I had had more time as there are sections that you can hike as well. And it wasn't painfully windy in the Badlands. The park services are doing improvements to an already great park. Make time if you're ever in the area.

The next exit I blew by Wall, where Wall Drug's is located and didn't even look over. I'd rather run out of gas that pull in.

From Wall the divided highway separates for a few miles and takes two completely distinct paths towards Sturgis. You drop down from the plain, there is an increase in vegetation, more and more homes begin to appear. It was still gusty though.

Looking up at the ridge line that ran parallel to the road it is easy to imagine not too long ago riders on horses up there heading toward Sturgis away from Wall. There are some great views from this section. It was a bit cloudy and I thought it might rain.

As I got closer to Rapid City I saw sheets of rain in the distance. I thought to myself after all I've been through now I'm going to run into rain? The road seemed to always turn back towards the rain. Finally at the last minute the road ran right between the two storms and I made it to the hotel.

Sweet Jesus I made it. That beacon of comfort Holiday Inn.

I quickly tried to get everything off the scooter and to the room. As I was unloading I was approached by a small group. I tried to short circuit this Q & A by stating I was tired and needed to check in. As I turned for the hotel one of the guys said that 'He owned an MP3'. For just a moment our eyes locked, time seemed to slow; I thought I heard the faint chords of Mas Que Nada performed by Brasil '66.

An MP3 owner? Here? Now? In my presence? Someone who won't ask 35 inane questions? Here? Now?

My journey may have ended. The sun began to shine, I heard trumpets.

I was meeting Douglas and Nancy Rae Shonley. I hit the wheel of fortune. What a great couple. Long time residents and scooter enthusiasts. I did a quick check in and rushed back out to talk. Nancy Rae has an MP3 400 - I won't hold that against her. They love the scooter like I do. We chatted for some time. They gave me the name of a few places I needed to see and a place for great steaks.

I got showered and ran up to Deadwood. Normally I wouldn't have thought to go town that has 80+ casinos it's just not my thing. But Douglas had mentioned The Lodge for steaks. What a great drive, it's only 10 miles from Sturgis, up through a canyon with great views. As the sun was setting it was throwing off some amazing colors. And I hadn't brought my camera!

The Lodge was good. Great steaks and great service. I didn't stay to do any gambling. The run up to Deadwood is a must do if you're in Sturgis.

Map.jpg
July 01, 2010

Wind.jpg
That American Flag isn't straight because of starch.

IMG_7010.jpg
Rest stop.

Serial_Killer.jpg
Serial Killer Central - Mid West Division.

Badlands_1.jpg
Oh, so bad...lands. Get it?

Badlands_4.jpg
Badlands

IMG_7060.jpg
Badlands



Last edited by Chiaroscuro on Tue Jul 30, 2019 1:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
Veni, Vidi, Posti
RIP: MP3 500 - Brutto Moto
Joined: 10 Jun 2008
Posts: 5278
Location: Austin, TX
Sat Jul 17, 2010 9:46 am quote
Hey man - probably too late but definitely go through Spearfish. Pretty little college town that looks right out of Leave it to Beaver last time I was through there. Did I mention the college is all girl? You will never - repeat never - see so many nubile, long-legged blond-haired, blue-eyed Norwegian descendants anywhere. Turn around and go back
I used to go down to Sturgis before it was such a big deal and Deadwood had nothing. I've seen pictures nowadays where the main street in old Sturgis is 10 deep in Harley's. Those pics of the badlands made me nostalgic - they can be ever so pretty.
Hooked
2008 150 LXV Portofino Green!!!!
Joined: 10 Oct 2009
Posts: 464
Location: southern NJ
Sat Jul 17, 2010 11:44 am quote
i've had my license for two days, have put about 400 miles on my lxv since i got it December....

and you have provided the biggest case of wonderlust i've ever had.....

Why do I see blue highways in my future? <g>

thank you for sharing your trip--i adore your writing style and the photos!
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Sat Jul 17, 2010 5:56 pm quote
BubbaJon wrote:
Hey man - probably too late but definitely go through Spearfish. Pretty little college town that looks right out of Leave it to Beaver last time I was through there. Did I mention the college is all girl? You will never - repeat never - see so many nubile, long-legged blond-haired, blue-eyed Norwegian descendants anywhere. Turn around and go back
I used to go down to Sturgis before it was such a big deal and Deadwood had nothing. I've seen pictures nowadays where the main street in old Sturgis is 10 deep in Harley's. Those pics of the badlands made me nostalgic - they can be ever so pretty.
Thanks for the tip. Your right I am so far past Sturgis you wouldn't believe. The issue is trying to keep up with the trip notes and writing. Definitely on my next trip I am not going to write a thing. Period. Take a few pics and enjoy the nightlife more. I've lost a few pounds because of a reduced carbohydrate intake diet.

Sturgis! The Emperor has no clothes. What a crock. For people living there I'm sure it's sweet as the surrounding area is beautiful and there are some fantastic rides and these events pull in millions for the local community. So I'm not going to bash them. More power to you.

But all I see in Sturgis are 'mega-bars', limited serivces or shut down until the big get together there were limited things to do. Lame. If there were some sporting event or something that coincided with this event I could see making the run; A world Series, Super Bowl, the Katzenberg's youngest bar mitzvah. That Christopher is so cute!

I suffered to get there and I would have been pissed if this was the turnaround point and had to suffer to get home. True, during 'Sturgis' there are a lot more wet T-shirt contests than this time of the year but to ride thousands of miles (well if you're a Harley owner 'tow your whatever' thousands of miles) for this. No way.

I've gotten this thing for with 'Harley Women' on this trip but not the do-rag, leather vest, chaps (unless there on a really hot women) black t-shirt with that ugly orange logo, crappy looking riding boot, spurs, loud pipes, more chrome on one machine than was produced in the 40s, graying Fu-Manchu moustache look. Sorry. Pauly Sr. and Jr. are not my idols.

But I have had a few days to let this sit and as much as I hate to say this I'm might give Sturgis one more chance. Especially if I can get a group up to go there. But even with that Sturgis would not be the end point of the trip.

If I can get sponsorship I'm setting up a booth on Main Street to tell everyone why this 'run' sucks. Now prove me wrong. Someone might change my mind. I'm may get my ass kicked but the ladies love the scars.

1.jpg
Cell phones don't work here. Not one Harley for 500 miles.

Veni, Vidi, Posti
RIP: MP3 500 - Brutto Moto
Joined: 10 Jun 2008
Posts: 5278
Location: Austin, TX
Sat Jul 17, 2010 7:58 pm quote
Chiaroscuro wrote:
BubbaJon wrote:
Hey man - probably too late but definitely go through Spearfish. Pretty little college town that looks right out of Leave it to Beaver last time I was through there. Did I mention the college is all girl? You will never - repeat never - see so many nubile, long-legged blond-haired, blue-eyed Norwegian descendants anywhere. Turn around and go back
I used to go down to Sturgis before it was such a big deal and Deadwood had nothing. I've seen pictures nowadays where the main street in old Sturgis is 10 deep in Harley's. Those pics of the badlands made me nostalgic - they can be ever so pretty.
Thanks for the tip. Your right I am so far past Sturgis you wouldn't believe. The issue is trying to keep up with the trip notes and writing. Definitely on my next trip I am not going to write a thing. Period. Take a few pics and enjoy the nightlife more. I've lost a few pounds because of a reduced carbohydrate intake diet.

Sturgis! The Emperor has no clothes. What a crock.
Nope you didn't miss anything I'm aware of and that's always the way it has been to my knowledge. Buncha bikers get together get drunk the women show tits and everyone goes home thinking they were a badass and had a badass time.
Molto Verboso
MP3 500 08
Joined: 08 Aug 2009
Posts: 1560
Location: Toms River area, New Jersey
Sun Jul 18, 2010 2:40 am quote
Really enjoy the realistic write ups, and pictures! Keep it up.
Hooked
09 MP3 500cc Reddevil, 2011 LX150 IE (Wifes) 2019 MP3 500cc Sport Nightrider (Mine)
Joined: 07 Nov 2009
Posts: 349
Location: Colorado Springs CO
Sun Jul 18, 2010 9:01 am quote
Alaska ride
I love your pictures and the write up on your trip keep it up. I'm thinking of doing something like what your doing maybe next year.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Mon Jul 19, 2010 9:02 pm quote
twoxover wrote:
i've had my license for two days, have put about 400 miles on my lxv since i got it December....

and you have provided the biggest case of wonderlust i've ever had.....

Why do I see blue highways in my future? <g>

thank you for sharing your trip--i adore your writing style and the photos!
Stop right there.

Your mother would never forgive me. You know she and I have issues, especially after that incident with 'Frank' at the Wal-Mart on the south side of town. How was I to know he had a handicap sticker on the van?

Sell whatever an LXV is. I'm assuming it's one of those 'vertical washing machines' I see advertised on European television I get with my decoder box I got from Singapore. I can get over 1500 channels! Of course, only 11 of them are in English. Anyway, I have no idea what an LXV is. I'm out seeing America and Canada up close. Is yours 220v or 110v? I hear the 220s wash clothes much faster.

Life on the road sucks. Long days of riding through the scenic and majestic country side. National park after national park. Why are there so many? Can't we consolidate them into one big one? Meeting people on the same journey as you. Life on the road.

Did I ever tell you about the most incredible woman I saw on a street corner in Seattle recently? Blonde, oh so blonde, and to add to the effect the noon day sun was focused only on her standing on that street corner. Beyond hot. Beyond Amazing. Beyond me. I immediately thought of the Frank Sinatra song 'Summer Wind'. That is a great song and that afternoon she was my summer wind. Wayne Newton did it as well but Sinatra knocks it out of the park. You don't want or need this. Trust me washing machine friend.

This is assuming your male. If your female substitute 'woman' with 'Brad Pitt/David Spade/George Clooney/Justin Bieber with chest hair look-alike', 'Seattle' with 'any town that has a Starbucks and a Target in close proximity to where I get my minivan repaired', 'Summer Wind' with 'Funky Cold Medina' and 'Sinatra' with 'Wayne Newton'. Yeah, that works.

No, you don't want this, you do not want to 'roll'. I'm on the road to hell and can't be responsible for anyone following me. Stay home, play more video games, get a tattoo, get one of those big ear piercing things with the big hoop, etc. Oh, the road to hell is paved with dirt. I was on it for two damn days last week.

Please, I beg you, stay put. Go to Myrtle Beach by bus instead. Canada and Alaska are just too amazing. It might make you ill.

I know I'm throwing some tough love your way. But buy a Harley and stay home. I hear they have some really great t-shirts and see if they'll throw one in when you pick the 'HOG' up.

Stay home my friend, stay home.

1 (2).jpg
You never want to see something like this. The sun trying to peek over a mist shrouded valley with a road running next to a small stream with steam rising in the morning light. How disgusting!

M_Lake.jpg
Oh god, the high elevation mountain lake stocked full of trout just down a few miles on a dirt road hardly anyone ever travels. It's like they forgetten about this little slice of high mountain paradise. See how this can get bad?

Train.jpg
NO, NO, not the long lonesome wail of a train whistle echoing up from the valley as the train chugs along a glacial fed river. No, No. Stay home. This can be too overwhelming to the senses. You'll get hurt.

Molto Verboso
2007 GT200L Graphite Black
Joined: 27 Jun 2009
Posts: 1869
Location: Fayetteville, AR
Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:26 am quote
Chiaroscuro wrote:
....No, you don't want this, you do not want to 'roll'. I'm on the road to hell and can't be responsible for anyone following me. Stay home, play more video games, get a tattoo, get one of those big ear piercing things with the big hoop, etc. Oh, the road to hell is paved with dirt. I was on it for two damn days last week.

Please, I beg you, stay put. Go to Myrtle Beach by bus instead. Canada and Alaska are just too amazing. It might make you ill.

I know I'm throwing some tough love your way. But buy a Harley and stay home. I hear they have some really great t-shirts and see if they'll throw one in when you pick the 'HOG' up.

Stay home my friend, stay home.
OMG!

I've so enjoyed reading your posts! I really was frightened for you when you described the windy part, being passed by those trucks.
Moderatus Rana
MP3 250 (sold) MP3 500 (current)
Joined: 11 Jul 2008
Posts: 21456
Location: Palatka, Florida
Tue Jul 20, 2010 4:26 am quote
Damn Chiaroscuro you do have it bad my friend. Try really hard not to look around too much and whistle a lot. You will survive this I am sure and when you get back I am thinking 6 months of therapy and you will be right as rain.
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Tue Jul 20, 2010 9:05 pm quote
Badlands ride.
Molto Verboso
MP3 500 08
Joined: 08 Aug 2009
Posts: 1560
Location: Toms River area, New Jersey
Wed Jul 21, 2010 5:30 am quote
Been a long time since I saw a 100+ railway car train! Those open blue skys! To bad it is "hot". Two years this kind of trip has been postponed, now my wife finally told me she would "never go that long". So maybe next year for me to the west coast? Enjoying ur trip also. How is the road ride with the shocks? Is it really bumpy or ok?
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:54 am quote
G03 wrote:
Been a long time since I saw a 100+ railway car train! Those open blue skys! To bad it is "hot". Two years this kind of trip has been postponed, now my wife finally told me she would "never go that long". So maybe next year for me to the west coast? Enjoying ur trip also. How is the road ride with the shocks? Is it really bumpy or ok?
You need to make some choices my friend: The wife or life on the open road.

I know you love her, the MP3 as I don't know your wife, but maybe it's time to 'move on'. I can make the choice for you but I don't think your wife's going to be happy with it.

The ride can always be better and smoother. It's taken some pretty hard hits, some at high speed, but it's been able to handle them.

Open.jpg
The open road...

Molto Verboso
MP3 500 08
Joined: 08 Aug 2009
Posts: 1560
Location: Toms River area, New Jersey
Wed Jul 21, 2010 1:37 pm quote
One sad issue of traveling alone, is you can never really "share", the stories of the trip with another. Cruised the country a bit at 19, and realized this fact. It is always nice to do it with others! Only reason I held off so far! Wife has done some travel, but never just "get and go with the wind" travel. But thanks for the "hollar"!
Ossessionato
Mp3 500
Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 2320
Location: Denver Colorado
Wed Jul 21, 2010 3:14 pm quote
I laugh pretty hard when I read this stuff, keep it coming--you have a knack for the writing my friend!
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Thu Jul 22, 2010 10:20 pm quote
July 02, 2010
Up early for the ride to Mt. Rushmore and that Crazy Horse thing. It's about 60 miles from Sturgis. I went the back way through Deadwood and Silver City avoiding Rapid City. Beautiful does not describe the run. Great views, lots of farm land, horses, campgrounds and fast turns.

You are in the Black Hills National Forest the whole time. Again I am impressed on how well the roads are maintained. I know budgets are tight but this was quite an experience. I could have ridden all day thorough this forest.

There was minimal traffic until you get to Mt. Rushmore and even then it wasn't that bad. $10 admission which is good for an entire year!

There were hardly any crowds at the exhibit/monument. It was easy to park, easy to get into and out.

The monument and surrounding exhibits are very impressive. You can see it on TV and in magazines but standing there looking up at it you're in awe of it.

About 20 miles further south is the Crazy Horse memorial. It's an 'old school' memorial that is probably just surviving on a shoe string budget. Hey they sell popcorn in the parking lot!

But it is equally as impressive as Mt. Rushmore. The gift/exhibit store is a must see as it traces the history of the construction. Apparently in early June they still lead a hike out and up to the monument for the public. Now that would be tempting to ride up to see. I'd rather ride out for that tan for some event at Sturgis.

The return run to Sturgis was just as fun. Outbound I passed a Yamaha Zuma scooter. On the way back I passed the same guy heading the other way!

I ended up making a few runs through Sturgis to get a feel of the town. This is a small town that I imagine is only 'still in business' because of the motorcycle runs that occur annually. Most shops and the major bars/saloons were closed or had limited services.

I went by the Harley shop but I only saw clothes no bikes. I didn't ask but they must be at a different location? They sure have a lot of t-shirt though. I ran into a few Pauly Sr. lookalikes. So many that I thought they must be having a contest similar to the Hemingway look-alike every year in Key West.

Later that evening I ate the Loud American. Why? It was the only place in town that looked open. Deadwood has more people out that Sturgis. The food was so-so, service was good though.

It was an early night as I need to make some miles tomorrow.

Bighorn_Sheep.jpg
I saw only one Bighorn sheep the whole day. And he had radio collar on.

Mt_Rushmore_Entrance.jpg
Mt. Rushmore entrance.

Mt_Rushmore_MP3.jpg
The road up to Mt. Rushmore.

Mt_Rushmore.jpg
Mt. Rushmore.

Washington.jpg
Washington.

C_Horse.jpg
Crazy!

C_Horse_Gift_1.jpg
Crazy Horse gift and exhibits building.

C_Horse_Gift_Model.jpg
Crazy Horse model.

Deadwood.jpg
Outside Deadwood.

Downtown_Sturgis_2.jpg
Downtown Sturgis.

Downtown_Sturgis_5.jpg
Downtown Sturgis.

Over_Under.jpg
I thought this looked pretty neat. An over_under pass on the way to Mt. Rushmore.

Sturgis_Hill_2.jpg
A hill overlooking Sturgis.

MP3_Harley.jpg
Outside the largest t-shirt shop in town.

Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:27 am quote
Little Bighorn
July 03, 2010

Up early for the run to Billings, MT. I again had made reservations something I try not to do. It has its advantages but it puts a lot of pressure on you to push yourself when it might not be wise.

I went out this morning and someone, probably a jealous Harley rider, had stolen my Wal-Mart scooter cover overnight. The bastard!

Out on 121 NW towards Belle Fourche. It was chilly. When I made my first gas stop in Belle Fourche I put on my rain liner for my jacket to help break the wind.

Belle Fourche, the geographic center for the 50 states, was having a fair. They have set up in the downtown area on one of the side streets.

I stopped for a few minutes to look at the rides I almost got run over in a parking lot by some guy that crossed two lanes of traffic to see the scooter. I'm still working on this whole explanation about the steering lock, manual engagement, automatic disengagement, what is it, who makes it, will you father my children, etc.

He listened for a few minutes and had some reasonable questions then he was off. I was kind of stunned as he didn't ask me how fast it went or how much it cost which is the usual first or second question. He was a whole smarter than that entire family at 5 Guys in Pigeon Forge.

Passing through Belle Fourche I saw my first snow machines outside for sale at a dealer. Yeah, I'm pretty far north for them to sell snow machines in the summer. I'm seeing more and more signs advising campers to use bear proof containers.

After Belle Fourche you are briefly in Wyoming. But quickly you enter Montana and your headed north and west.

My objective is the Crow Agency and the Little Bighorn National Monument. Without signs you would never know that the monument was there. The entire area looks, so I'm told, similar to what it did in the 1800s. I believe it. No glitzy tourists center just some gas, food and a sign that directs you to the Little Bighorn.

It's a bit deceptive as you enter the monument site. It looks deserted at first. You climb up from the main road and there is the visitor center in front of you. Beyond it you catch a glimpse of a large granite monument that you suspect has something to do with the battle. You're correct, it does. Other than that it's open grasslands with gently rolling hills and a few trees in the distance.

The granite marker is a memorial to the soldiers that died there on what is called 'Last Stand Hill'. A road runs up this hill and continues on for several miles.

I was stunned to see headstones right off the road. Some of them are so close to the road. Intermingled with the headstones of the soldiers and Indian guides are marker/headstones of some of the fallen Indian combatants. These are red in contrast to the white headstones of the solders and Indian guides.

Custer and several of his relatives fell at Last Stand Hill. His headstone is black but his remains have been removed and reburied at West Point.

Driving further out from 'Last Stand Hill' along the road you will see headstones/markers and displays for the actions of Marcus Reno and Frederick Benteen which also occured that day.

There are stops along the way that you can get out and walk out along a sidewalk to headstones that are further off the roadway. There are also informational displays set up that try to explain the battle that took place. I found it very complicated and I hope to pick up a book or two to read up on it as it is fascinating.

Prior to coming here I did a little research and in the online forums everyone raved about the talk that the Park Service gives every couple of hours. So I stayed for one.

Big disappointment. It was given by a Park Service employee who is a member of one of the local tribes. She explained that her previous job was teaching her native language to the next generation coming up so it wouldn't be lost.

She should have stuck with that. I was lost within a few minutes and I thought I had a good overview of the events of that day. She jumped around in history, location and perspective. Ouch.

Across the road from the visitors center is an Indian Memorial that is a recent addition the park that is well worth the walk to see.

The imagery you see here is powerful. By leaving everything as untouched as possible they have created something that really allows you to step back in history and almost relive these events. It's quite a contract to Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse. Both were fantastic but Little Bighorn has some very dramatic imagery with those headstones out on the fields of grass.

On to Billings. The Holiday Inn I was staying at in Billings has a wedding. Like less than an hour after I got there. I immediately thought; open bar, bridesmaids, and open bar.

It's an old school hotel with a large atrium and all the rooms opening into this massive space, all 15 floors or so. I went up and showered and came out and there were the bride and groom right in the middle of the ceremony with about 300 people out on the floor!

The elevator has glass on three sides. Guess which three sides? Yeah.

So I got in the elevator on the sixth floor and rode down watching this wedding watching me ride down towards it. On the first floor I realized that I had forgotten my keys. Back up to my room on six with the ceremony still going on and a lot of people watching me. Back down to one. Of course the elevator makes a beeping sound at every floor and is groaning and clunking as it makes it way up and down the atrium. So embarrassing. For them, not me, as I really enjoy weddings.

I had a quick dinner and ran a few errands before heading back to the hotel for the open bar and bridesmaids. No open bar and no bridesmaids. Apparently the hotel was the only facility that could hold a wedding of that size. The reception was being held elsewhere as it was smaller than the wedding.

So it was an early night for me.

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Big Sky!

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Monument.

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Headstone.

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Headstone.

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Headstones along the road.

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Custer's marker is in the center, in black.

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One of the sidewalks that enable you to get out in the battlefield.

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Part of the granite memorial at the top of 'Last Stand Hill'.

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Last Stand Hill.

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Indian Memorial.

Hooked
2008 150 LXV Portofino Green!!!!
Joined: 10 Oct 2009
Posts: 464
Location: southern NJ
Sat Jul 24, 2010 7:02 am quote
Stop right there.

Your mother would never forgive me. You know she and I have issues, especially after that incident with 'Frank' at the Wal-Mart on the south side of town. How was I to know he had a handicap sticker on the van?

Sell whatever an LXV is. I'm assuming it's one of those 'vertical washing machines' I see advertised on European television I get with my decoder box I got from Singapore. I can get over 1500 channels! Of course, only 11 of them are in English. Anyway, I have no idea what an LXV is. I'm out seeing America and Canada up close. Is yours 220v or 110v? I hear the 220s wash clothes much faster.

Life on the road sucks. Long days of riding through the scenic and majestic country side. National park after national park. Why are there so many? Can't we consolidate them into one big one? Meeting people on the same journey as you. Life on the road.




I'm a girl --actually a 45 year old chunky blonde with a gorgeous hubby and two kids. so i have to wait for the two kids to grow up. but oh boy....can you say wanderlust??? can you say trip envy???

keep writing. keep posting pics. let me live vicariously through you. except for all the hot women part. please start to substitute "there was this blonde built clean shaven guy riding the harley. i like harley guys now" instead.

betsey
Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Sun Jul 25, 2010 8:46 pm quote
Fourth of July - Part 1
Happy Fourth of July.

No one stole my scooter cover overnight. So that starts the day on a positive note.

I'm up early I think I'm still on east coast time. On the way out I ran over to Wal-Mart looking some noise cancelling ear buds. I found 'noise isolating' ear buds which I pretty sure are not the same so I passed. Best Buy is not open for a few hours so it's back to the foam ear plugs.

I'm getting a lot of wind noise from this helmet. Hopefully I can control most of it with some noise cancelling ear buds. I left, among other things, a really good set back in storage.

I'm going down through Yellowstone and then loop back up into Butte. I'm so close I can't pass up the opportunity to see Yellowstone. Which 9 times out of 10 I call Yosemite. I gots a Y problem.

It's cool so I'm wearing my lightweight long-johns and a fleece top.

From Wal-Mart out 90 W heading, west. I see snow on the distant mountains. I was a bit stunned but I realize that snow may stay year round at some of the higher elevations. Snow!

I stopped at Laurel - don't miss the 'Christmas Lighting' this year and put on the rain liner I had for my jacket to break the wind. It was a bit cool at 70 mph.

At Laurel I picked up 212 which ran towards Red Lodge. I saw billboards advertising 'The Bull Pen' starting July 14th to the 18th with quite a few name bands/artists. Just outside Red Lodge was a construction site that announced that this was going to be the future Bull Pen.

I see more and more snow machines out for sale. Apparently you can go skiing, white water rafting and mountain biking based from Red Lodge. It advertises itself as the 'Gateway to Yellowstone', not Yosemite.

When I passed through Red Lodge was getting ready to celebrate the fourth as a large part of the main street was blocked off and vendors were setting up tables. There were also several of the old Yellowstone touring cars back on a side street. I assumed they were there to take part in the parade.

From Red Lodge you're on the Beartooth Highway. If I had known this I might have hesitated coming this way. The road goes through Beartooth Pass. It's just a hair less than 11,000 feet at the pass! But I didn't know this at the time. I stopped for fuel in Red Lodge and spent about 15 minutes discussing the merits of the MP3 vs. a Spyder and the state of the economy.

This road passes through the Custer National Forest and Shoshone National Forest. The road drops into a valley outside of Red Lodge and then begins this amazing climb to the pass. It goes on and on. Oh, the speed limit for much of the drive is 70 mph with the occasional 65 mph. There are a significant amount of 180 degree turns, and very steep climbs that pass rock fall areas that have steel mesh guards up to protect the road. You just keep climbing as there is no let up. Fantastic views of the valley you're leaving and of the road literally ahead and above you.

The scooter ran without an issue. You make a sharp turn and look ahead and you wonder how in the world you're going to make it up that road. But it kept rolling along.

I stopped at a turn off before the pass; Rock Creek Vista Point that is at 9100+ feet to take some pictures of the view and was mobbed by people asking questions about the scooter. Where's my business card when I need it? Seriously, I've met just two people who have seen an MP3 and one other guy that saw photos in Wired magazine a few years ago. Is there no marketing going on here?

As the climb continues snow begins to appear at the side of the road. As you approach the pass the harshness of the ridge line smoothes out and has a rounded/worn down look to it. There is some sparse grass and boulders/rocks everywhere.

At the top it levels off to a wide plateau. Even though you don't have the extreme drop offs of the lower elevation this plateau is kind of scary in its own right. I'm thinking I'll survive the run off the road but I'll just keep rolling and rolling off the edge. At least at the lower elevations when you go off the road you're done for. Finished. Here you get teased a bit then you're done for.

There are lakes at the higher elevations and a few of them still have ice on them. I saw quite a few people unloading fishing gear at the turnouts. How in the world do fish get to this elevation? Are they flown in?

Just shortly before the top where you pass into Wyoming from Montana there was a bicyclist in the parking lot. My hat's off to you buddy that was a hell of a climb. Unless of course you had the bike trailered up here and you're just posing.

Onward and upwards to the top. Deep drifts of snow were piled up in the corners of the turns. There were pretty unbelievable views of other peaks, lakes and more guys getting geared up to fish at 9000 feet. I had to stop and put on some glove liners as the cold finally got to me.

I passed quite a few motorcycles heading the other way, down and presumably south. No scooters though.

There is a chair lift that you pass on the way up. It wasn't running although there seemed to be plenty of snow on the route it took up. After making most of the climb up and seeing a chairlift kind of trivializes this great adventure; a chairlift? What's next s senior citizens retirement home?

Up and over the top and the ride down is just as amazing and the ride up. On the way down you see signs that you must use 'bear proof containers' at all times. One sign proclaimed that 'This was Grizzly County' and I believe it.

You end up at a small town called Cooke City, Montana; yes you've crossed back into Montana. It has a small quaint Main Street with a few outfitters stores and cafes.

The Fire Department was having a fund raiser cookout on Main Street. I had passed a few tempting diners on entering the city but I pulled in for a hot dog, pasta and homemade donuts. It was excellent and all for a good cause. Right next to the Fire Hall, Cooke was building a new Visitor's Center and this was a very popular building with people passing through town as it had the only public restrooms for the town.

I noticed in Cooke that 4-wheel ATVs were being used on the streets and some even had license plates. I had seen ATV use like this when going to Mt. Rushmore. Entire families were pulling up on them, most without any helmets.

Just down the road from Cooke is an entrance to Yellowstone. $20 gets you a 7 day pass. The park entrance is at 7000+ feet. Even with all the climbing and higher elevation the scooter never missed a beat.

What can be written about Yellowstone that hasn't been written already? You run through a vast open valley with broad views that seem to go on forever. The road is in great shape with large parts of it recently repaved. The speed limit is 45 mph and I did see a few people pulled over by the Park Police. You're in one of the great parks of the world why do you have to do 70?

After driving awhile in the distance I could see a lot of cars parked along the road with foot traffic headed towards a creek that ran alongside the road. Airplane accident? Gold re-discovered? Lindsay Lohan photo shoot? What could it be?

With no place to pull off and park I stopped in the middle of the road and asked some people passing what was going on? A bear had killed a bison by the creek. Ok, I guess a dead mutilated boson is interesting and every child growing up needs to see one. But the kicker here was the bear was still there protecting the kill! Nice.

With no place to park and more people and more people crowding the small ridge overlooking the creek I went on. And then once again in the distance I saw another traffic jam. This must be the Lindsay Lohan phot shoot.

Wrong, a young bison was being attacked by wolves in the valley out from the parking area. As you watched you could see the wolves circling the bison and then one would run in and attack the bison and then pull back. One of the people who had been there for some time told me that the wolves had brought the bison down once but it had been able to get back up. The park service doesn't intervene in situations like this as it is part of the cycle of life.

Some passing kid chimed in with a description of how one of the wolves had grabbed the bison by the throat and brought him down. He then reenacted it for me. I see therapy, numerous tattoos, heavy metal hearing loss and a Goth girlfriend in this kid's future. Good luck to his parents.

Spotting scopes. I don't think I've seen so many scopes in my entire life, most with tripods. But if you're travelling through Yellowstone it might not be a bad idea to carry one as the valleys are so large and the distances so great.

Mile after mile there are scenic views, hot springs, sulpher springs, spring springs, trail walks, camps, etc. You name it for the outdoors and Yellowstone has it.

You pass through a lot of camping areas on your way through the park I'd be curious as to how many campers the park can accommodate?

There is fuel at several locations. I stopped at Tower-Roosevelt and filled up. This park is so vast I bet in the past before park fuel services many people have run out of gas misjudging the driving distances. There were plenty of gift shops and places to eat in this area as well.

I came across very little traffic for the most part the whole day in the park even though it was the Fourth of July. I did go by a general store that was situated on a curve that had a fair amount of foot traffic crossing the road but there were still parking places available in the lot.

To be honest I had forgotten about 'Old Faithful'. I was interested more in touring and riding. But standing at the gas station I saw a sign pointing the way to the geyser known worldwide so I followed it. Even though I may have forgotten about Old Faithful it, alone, is the reason a lot of people come to Yellowstone. This is the one area where I met some traffic. But even that was relatively light.

The road to Old Faithful from the north runs next to Yellowstone Lake. This lake is huge, I mean massive. At times the beauty here is jaw dropping.

I got there just after an eruption. How did I know; a rush of people moving towards the parking lot to rush out. Just like what you see after the last whistle is blown at a sporting event. Or perhaps pyrotechnics gone wrong at an 80s hair band show.

The eruptions are about every 90 minutes or so. This give the new arrivals time to buy some t-shirts, get some ice cream, take pictures of the steam rising from the Old faithful site, more ice cream, find a seat and then watch the show.

There are multiple geysers in the area in addition to Old Faithful. There is a long wooden walkway that winds in and among them. So if you're just not into 'Old Faithful' you can find another geyser to love.

Crowds begin to gather about 30 minutes prior to the eruption. There really isn't a bad seat anywhere. Besides, if you don't get a good view the first time, hang around and get something to eat as it's going to happen again in 90 minutes, every 90 minutes. They don't shut it down at 8PM. Or even better book a room at the lodge and watch it all day and night.

Old Faithful starts slow with an increased output of steam, some bubbling and water erupting like a fountain and then finally the main eruption. Surprisingly quiet, and surprisingly small. Kind of like visiting the studio for the Jay Leno show, the small part not the quiet part.

As the show begins the crowd raises their camera, and then lowers them as it's a false alarm, then there back up and back down about a dozen times as the suspense builds. Finally when the main eruption does occur there is a frenzy of picture taking which ends before the geyser stops as a large part of the crowd is already headed for the parking lot; gotta get on to the next t-shirt shop before they're all sold out.

I have to say it was pretty neat even if the whole experience wasn't as grand as I anticipated it. There seemed to be quite a few people from other countries there. It was quite a melting pot.

Now I turned north and west and eventually out of the park. I had wanted to exit the park at the West Yellowstone entrance/exit. This exit is still at 6600+ feet.

On the way out I started to see more and more bison in the fields that were on either side of the road. An interesting thing I noticed was that there were always several bare spots in the vegetation near where the bison are gathered. It took me a few minutes to figure it out but this is where the bison rest. I don't know if they lay in the same spot all the time but it does look like they sure use these same barren patches over and over again.

Along the way there are still more geysers that you can pull over and look at, quite a collection in fact. You're now heading north to Madison you then finally west to the exit.

Next the Madison Valley run. I find scooter heaven.

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Red Lodge 4th of July parade staging area.

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Rock Creek Vista - 9000+ feet.

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Welcome to Wyoming - Beartooth Pass.

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Near the top of Beartooth Pass.

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Backside of Beartooth close to Cooke City.

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Backside of Beartooth close to Cooke City.

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Cooke City Firehall Fund Raiser.

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Backside of Beartooth close to Cooke City.

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Backside of Beartooth close to Cooke City.

Yellowstone_3.jpg
If you can 'molest' a Grizzly and get away with your life. PM me as I have a great idea for a reality TV show pitch.

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Yellowstone.

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Barronette Peak - Yellowstone.

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Fuel services are available at several locations in the park.

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Want to know where all the wildlife is? Just look for crowds along the road blocking traffic.

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Elk.

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Yellowstone.

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You have to stand in line to get your picture taken here. It's almost as popular as the park liquor store.

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Old Faithful.

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They may have parts for an MP3 500 here. Yellowstone gift shop.

Old_Faithful_Crowd.jpg
This is just a small portion of the crowd that is there to watch the geyser.

Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Sun Jul 25, 2010 8:49 pm quote
July 04, 2010 Map
July 04, 2010 Map

Map.jpg

Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:53 pm quote
July 04, 2010
Part 2, The Madison Valley Run

Just outside the park entrance is the town of West Yellowstone. A Fourth of July parade had just started when I exited the park blocking off the main road through town. I was able to use some back roads to skirt the downtown area and head out of town.

Heading north on 287 from town I noticed I was low on fuel. I've tried to fill up when the gauge reads 1/3 full or 2/3rds empty depending on your view of life so this concerned me. I continued on following 287 towards Lake Hebgen and according to the GPS there was fuel available 16 miles in that direction so I went on.

Lake Hebgen is big it's over 15 miles long. The wind had picked up considerably since I left the park and I could see whitecaps out on the lake.

As you approach the lake heading north and west there is a large open field that had knee high weeds and hay that needed cutting. In the middle of this field is an old farm house. I'm sure no one's been there for years as I didn't see signs of a road leading to the house. Probably most people don't pay it much attention as they pass. Gray, weather beaten and ready to fall over you can even see the lake through the open doors and windows as you pass by.

The wind was tugging and pulling the grass that surrounded the house every which way as it stood vigil to this stormy dance. The stories that have been told or could be told by that house, how many thousands of sunsets have those windows witnessed?

The lake runs in a valley with the mountains very close to the road on one side and the lake on the other. In front of me where the mountains seemed to come together I could see rain falling in sheets. The angle of the sun late in the day made for some remarkable colors and patterns in the evening sky.

I checked the GPS again and fuel was still 15 miles away. Now it was directing me to a turn where there was no turn.

With the rain approaching and low on fuel I turned around. Turning around is not something I do. I knew I had a good chance of getting back to West Yellowstone where I saw a station when I rode through.

So I headed back. On the way out I had passed a marina and campground but I hadn't seen a place to fuel up. I did smell hamburgers, hot dogs and brats being grilled though. I even thought I caught a whiff of a Bud Light Lime being downed. I couldn't believe that with as many campers and boats in the area that there was no fuel, yet nothing showed up on the GPS.

As I passed by the campground I just happened to glance to my left and there was a pump out in front of the camp store. I made a quick u-turn with fingers crossed as it was late on a holiday. Open! I was at the Kirkwood Resort & Marina.

The rain that I had seen in the west rolled in as I filled up. I was going to dig out my rain gear when I got done fueling but by the time I was finished the rain had moved on past me.

Standing at the pump looking back towards West Yellowstone I saw a large rainbow that started on a hill behind the camp store and ended out over the lake. Beautiful, photos don't do this justice. I'm sure my old farmhouse has seen many rainbows out over the lake in its time.

I moved on along the lake. This is the Gallatin National Forest that borders this area. The mountains tower over you at times they are so close. Ahead of me I could see the sun trying to peek through storm clouds with sheets of rain tumbling from the sky.

Eventually you will come to Earthquake Lake. The lake was created after a massive meteor strike in 1959, the largest witnessed meteor strike in the US.

There is a visitor's center that you can stop at and get information concerning the meteor strike. It wasn't open when I went by. Just kidding, the lake was created as the result of an earthquake. Get it. Earthquake Lake, earthquake?

Eventually you enter the Madison Valley or Madison River Valley as it is also known. You're now running in the middle of a broad valley surrounded by three distinct mountain ranges.

The sun had not yet dropped behind the mountains and the clouds were low, so low that some of them were touching the surrounding mountain peaks. All across the sky the clouds seemed to roil and boil with the sun light and colors were shifting from pale blue to yellow to a gold. I could see for miles and miles along the valley that stretched out in front of me.

The ranchland here is huge with the ranches running from the road up into the mountains. Occasionally I would pass a farm house close to the road but for the most part they were set far back.

I rode on for miles with no lights in front or behind me watching the ever changing light of the sky. Then ahead of me I saw what I thought were fireflies dancing by the road. As I came up on the fireflies I saw it was a large Fourth of July celebration going on at a farm house close to the road. A large crowd had gathered outside on a deck to celebrate with the hanging party lights moving and swaying to the rhythm of the wind. The fireflies, they were children with sparklers running in the field in front of the house.

I beeped as I went by but I don't think anyone heard me. Happy Fourth of July Madison, Happy Fourth of July.

On I went down this valley 70, then 75, 80 the scooter was rock steady on the road. I was chasing the storm trying to get a better look at the light it was painting on the valley in front of me.

Broad beams of golden light fanned out over the landscape running up the mountain sides to the sky. The light seemed to dance as the clouds rolled and turned with the light. To the south sheets of rain twisted and turned and eventually fell on the mountain slopes followed by bright paintbrushes of light.

This was my big sky country. At this moment, if I stopped, turned around and went home I'd be content.

I drove on through Cameron at 75 mph. There were no lights on in any of the houses in the town.

Just past Cameron I came up on a small farm that was right next to the road. Out sitting on a fence post was a large white cat that was nose to nose with three horses. I wasn't sure what I'd seen as I passed but I looked in my rear view mirror and could see that white tail flicking back and forth for a time in the fading light.

On I went. I rounded a wide sweeping turn and as I fought the scooter to stay on the road I caught a glimpse of the GPS, 82 mph! I brought it back up as I exited the turn and began to slow down. I had arrived in Ennis Mt.

Ennis had just finished their fourth celebrations. Vendors were breaking down displays and people were moving to their cars off the main street. Here I passed the first gas station since Kirkwood, 70 miles ago. I would have run out long ago if I hadn't turned around. Another 45 miles of back country riding and I was at 90 W where I started out earlier in the morning.

Butte was now about an hour away. One large ascent and descent you make right before Butte is Homestake Pass which sits on the Continental Divide.

I couldn't have timed my entrance to Butte anymore perfectly. Coming into Butte fireworks were going off in the distance next to the road to celebrate the Fourth of July.

Yellowstone_Rainbow.jpg
Rainbow outside the Kirkwood Resort and Marina.

Madison_Valley.jpg
Madison Valley; I want to stand here and watch this light walk across the valley forever.

Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Thu Jul 29, 2010 6:08 pm quote
July 05, 2010
I left late from Butte, really late. I tried to get in touch with a Piaggio dealer in Spokane and set up a service but no one answered. It being Monday and a holiday weekend were working against me.

90 W to Spokane. I put back on my long johns and fleece top as well as my rain jacket to cut the cold wind. It was pretty chilly.

Surprisingly even though I had had a quick breakfast at the hotel I pulled off at Exit 122 for McDonalds; 6 miles from the hotel! I'm getting queasy writing this. Oh the grease!

What is it with the casinos and gambling? I've noticed it since, I believe, South Dakota. There are gambling places/casinos on every street corner. At the travel plaza where McDonalds is located there is a free standing casino in the parking lot as well as one sharing the building that McDonalds is in. There has to be one casino for every 3 citizens of the west of the Mississippi.

What I've also noticed is that there are live stock gates at the entrances to the on ramps of the freeway. It would not be pleasant if some live stock were wandering about on 90 W.

It turned cool and blustery. I could see snow on the peaks of the mountains in front of me. The outside temperature gauge on the scooter got warmer by 7 degrees in about 15 minutes yet it seemed no warmer on the scooter.

There was little sunshine to enjoy. And what little there was I think the 'warmth' was more psychological rather than actual heat.

I stopped in Drummond for fuel. Of course when I stopped the sun came out. In Drummond I ran across a used cow lot. No one was around so I'm not sure what a used cow lot is. Leaving Drummond I got hit by lots of strong gusty wind.

Further west the wind got stronger and stronger. I was travelling between a series of small valleys and it was if the wind was being channeled through these valleys right the scooter.

For a few miles it was almost like the run from Sioux Falls to Sturgis. Only this wind was quite a bit stronger. I was wondering if I was going to be able to take this all day again. I really had to fight to stay upright.

In my rear view mirror I saw an armada of big trucks headed my way. They were taking up both the lanes; two abreast two deep. They just kept coming and coming. I was cold and really wanted something warm to drink so this was the perfect time to get off the highway. So I raced to Jens to see the white and blue sign; No services. Bastards!

So it was time to take it like a man. They rolled on towards me. The one in my lane pulled up behind me so close I could see where he cut himself shaving and with that big International truck logo filling up my rear view mirrors. Remember objects in mirrors ARE closer than they appear.
The driver in the left lane pulled on past and over in front of me. I mean right in front of me. He was so close I could see a sticker with what seemed to be foot high letters; 'If you can't see my mirrors I can't see you'. Yeah, I can't see your mirrors can you hear me scream and curse you?

There was a big Schlage lock on the back door and I swear I could read the serial number off of it. X88543323 if you're checking; that close. As an extra bonus I got to fight a cross wind that started up.

The second truck on the left pulled up ever so slowly to my left and just hung out there. His tires appeared to be about 7 feet tall in my peripheral vision, IN ALL my peripheral vision. They were just spinning and faster as time went by. In my mind I pictured the rim exploding off with such force it disintegrates the tire, what is probably a Korean sub-standard knock-off retread, that I'm vaporized along with the cargo of fake Dolce&Gabanna handbags for junior high school girls in Seattle. When the Highway Patrol finally sorts out the accident site there is nothing left to identify except a memory foam pillow folded over and taped together. They never figure out where that came from.

On the brighter side being encircled on three sides with 75000 pounds of steel, rubber and 400 empty Gatorade bottle filled with 'trucker urine' moving at 65 mph the wind died down and it did seem warmer. I considered unzipping my jacket except I WAS FIGHTING TO STAY UPRIGHT AND THEREFORE STAY ALIVE TO SEE ANOTHER DAY.

Slowly ever so slowly they moved on in search of other prey and I pulled in for fuel. The sun came out again. I found a bathroom and relieved myself, twice.

I ran into a guy from Florida delivering campers to Spokane. I had passed him earlier and when I noticed the Florida tag on passing had given him a 'scooter toot'. I tried to explain the MP3 500 but he couldn't grasp the concept of the lean and no lean. I gave up early and moved on. Oh, if you need you a used cow Drummond is your place.

Later I pulled into St. Regis for a drink and as luck would have it a banana. It might make up for the McDonalds I had this morning. A dozen questions, many of them twice, a souvenir hat and I was gone. The gas station in St. Regis has a great display of live trout that they have in tanks inside the gift shop. Well worth the stop just for that. Oh and the sun came out while I was there.

A few miles outside St. Regis is a large electronic sign that is out over the entire highway. In Florida they use them to announce traffic conditions, Amber Alerts, etc. In Idaho: Watch for livestock and rocks in the road. Great I get to meet a cow at 75 mph and I'm trying to cut down on meat.

The next stop was Osburn. I could see rain lots of rain in the distance so I got out my rain pants and put them on.

At the next gas stop I tried again in vain to explain the lean/no lean concept to three people but my mojo was failing me. I'm 0-11 today. Earlier in Drummond there was this woman I thought I had on track but I crashed and burned at the last minute. I moved on quickly.

At this gas stop I met a rider on a Honda heading to Butte as well. He was carrying a tire that he was going to get mounted. The fibers on his rear tire were showing through. We talked a bit about comfort and that's when I noticed he was sitting on a pillow as well. A full size Winnie-the-Pooh pillow he had picked up at Wal-Mart.

Back out on the highway I was passed by a 7 series BMW (735i) pulling a camper trailer. Now I'm willing to bet that when this car was in its initial stages of design pulling a camper trailer did not come up in product development meetings.

I hit rain, lots of hard rain outside of Osburn. And to add to the enjoyable day the cross winds picked up and the odd bit of turbulence from large passing vehicles just to liven things up.

Also, I crossed many small bridges that still have the old low guard rails in place. These needed to be replaced in the 60s. They look like the railing around a balcony for hotels that still have balconies. Inside this old guardrail is a very low, no more than 2 feet high, concrete wall between you and the old guard rail.

So the scenario is this; you're either impaled on the old guard rail as your blown off the bridge or you clip this low lying concrete barricade and flip up and over the old guard rail, not getting impaled. and land in the river below at 70 mph. Both seem kind of unpleasant.

Right before you enter Washington State you pass Coeur d'Alene Lake. You cross a bridge by that is very high. There is a wind sock at either end of the bridge. I imagine that it's pretty gnarly on that bridge on some days. From there you drop down several hundred feet to the lake. This is a huge lake.

It's not too long before you're in the suburbs of Spokane and as the day winds down the sun finally comes out. A quick shower, some food from Crazy G's on N. Division Street and bed.

The scooter ran fine with no issues. Hopefully I can get in touch with the Vespa dealer tomorrow for a 6000 mile service.

Oh, while I was checking in a Vega station wagon with a trailer hitch pulled in. Again I just can't see the designers of this automobile doing a few 'what-if' scenarios that include pulling a trailer.

Map.jpg
July 05, 2010

Drummonds_Finest.jpg
Drummond's finest establishment - so I'm told.

Used_Cows.jpg
You need a used cow? Drummond has them.

Vega.jpg
Check out that hitch!

Hooked
Joined: 26 Mar 2010
Posts: 290

Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:18 pm quote
July 06, 2010
I stayed late in Spokane to call the local Piaggio dealer. The first time I called the person who answered the telephone sounded like they had just woke up. Sleeping late AT the dealership?

Voice on other end: (cough) Hello.

Me: Hello, is this the Piaggio dealer?

Voice on other end: Uh, (pause) yeah. But they don't open until 1000.


I waited till 10 and called back.


Voice on other end: Dollar Rent a Car.

Me: Uh, (pause) is this the Piaggio dealer?

Voice on other end: (long slow and drawn out) I think so. Let me transfer you.

Voice on other end: Dollar Rent a Car.

Me: Uh, (pause) is this the Piaggio dealer?

Voice on other end: Oh, no.

Me: I got your number off the Piaggio USA web site.

Voice on other end: Let me check.

On hold for about three minutes.

Voice on other end: Yeah we are.

Me: Can I have service?

Voice on other end: I'm the service guy.

Me: I have an MP3 500...

Interrupted by voice on the line...

Voice on other end: Cool.

Me: I rode it up from Key West and...

Interrupted by voice on the line...

Voice on other end: Cool.

Me: I'd like to get the 6000 mile service done. Have you ever worked on one of these?

Voice on other end: No but I know scooters.

I know space shuttles but I could never get hired after the Challenger blew up.

Me: I mean it has the tilt lock assembly, the...

Interrupted by voice on the line...

Voice on other end: Yeah, I saw that on the website.

Me: Ok...

Voice on other end: Let me get you with our scheduler.

Phone dropped on counter, someone's name is yelled out. Long pause, phone picked up.

Voice on other end: Hello, this is xxxxxxxxx can I help you?

Me: I have an MP3 500 that I'd like to get the 6000 mile service done on it. Can you do it tomorrow?

Voice on other end: Sure.

Me: You know it may need a drive belt replacement and the tilt lock assembly looked at as well as an oil change and a new plug.

Silence on the other end.

Voice on other end: It does? Let me check.

Silence on the other end.

Voice on other end: Ok.

Me: You have the parts because I want to ride out tomorrow?

Voice on other end: I'm not sure if I have the belt. Let me check.

Me: Check and let me call you back.

I left for Seattle a few minutes later.

I didn't put on any fleece or long johns as the weather looked great. I got back on 90 W and questioned whether I should have as it was quite cool. However, it warmed up quite nicely in the next 15 minutes.

In my mind I pictured the ride from Spokane to be a series of small towns and eventually the suburbs of Seattle and then Seattle itself. I was so wrong.

It's pretty desolate west of Spokane. It looks like what I imagine Arizona (no there weren't border patrol agents arresting people that I saw) or Nevada looks like; small trees, low scrub, and small rolling hills, a real surprise. Lots of gusty wind as well, thank you Washington.

The other surprise was that I was low on fuel. My GPS was telling me that the only fuel was 20 miles behind me. I saw signs for Sprague but the GPS didn't have any gas stations listed. The choice; Sprague or turn around. Sprague won out.

There was one station. The other one was shut down, permanently. I filled up and would not see another station for some time. If I hadn't got gas in Sprague I would have run out. I didn't learn my lesson outside West Yellowstone not so long ago it seems.

Out of Sprague I started see some areas that had long vistas and small rolling hills in the distance. It kind of reminded me of the grasslands from Sioux Falls to Sturgis, minus the 40 mph winds blowing the entire time.

I pulled into George and grabbed a sandwich and some gas. There was a Harley rider there and we chatted for some time. He said he had rode from Seattle to Florida a few years ago. The thing was his mileage travelled didn't add up. When I challenged him on it he admitted that he had trailered the bike some distance rode and bit and then trailered it back.

Lots of hay. I mean lots of hay along the way. I saw thousands of acres planted. I saw more bales and rolls of hay than I've ever seen in my life. Potatoes and corn as well. I noticed that the corn is much shorter that the corn I had seen earlier in the trip. I attribute that to a later planting season.

I blew into rest stop at 68 mph to call the Seattle Vespa dealer, passing two elderly ladies walking either a three legged Chihuahua or an overweight ferret with a skin condition and no tail, I went by so fast I couldn't get a fix on it. I'm sure the 'dog' rolled over and passed away right there I was so close.

I called Vespa of Seattle and set up service for tomorrow. It was pretty straightforward. The guy knew the estimated shop times and said he could get me back on the road the same day. I had planned to stay in Seattle for another night but this works for me. I have an appointment at 1200. So tomorrow will be a short day but I can still get some miles on the road.

From George if you look over to the right at about 1400 you'll see a large wind farm in the distant hills. Really beautiful. And shortly you'll see a gorge on your right as well. It's the Columbia River which I imagine allows all these crops to grow. The bridge over the river has wind socks at both ends so I'm sure it can get pretty dicey crossing on some days. You drop down and climb out to get over the bridge which is a great little run.

As you climb out you come to the back side of the wind farm and can get pretty close to the wind mills. From the first rest stop after the Columbia River you can see Mt. Rainier is the distance for the first time.

I climbed Rainier last year in late July. What a great experience.

There is another wind farm in the Elk Heights area as well.

I stopped in Easton for fuel. They must a get a tremendous amount of snow here as there are snowmobile signs everywhere. There are also a few snowmobile rental shops as well.

Onward to Snoqualmie Pass which is awesome. You're in the Cascade Range now. It's a big highway with lots of traffic. You've got sheer mountain faces right next to the road. It's only about 3000' at the pass but a fun little section. Downhill the speed limit is 65 mph yet I almost got blown off the road several times by trucks that had to be doing 80 mph.

I may have seen it all today. Right before ascending the pass there was a kitchen sink lying next to the road.

Slowly Seattle appears in front of me. The drive in was great with very little traffic to deal with. Seattle and the surrounding areas are beautiful. I should have moved here 30 years ago.

My GPS took me right to the front door of my hotel. I made a wrong turn or two because I couldn't see the screen for the sun. The hotel is just a few blocks from the Space Needle. Of course my room faces the opposite way.

I got out and walked about a bit. I went down to REI on Yale and surprisingly didn't spend a dime.

Map.jpg
July 06, 2010

Columbia_Gorge_2.jpg
Columbia River Gorge.

Columbia_Gorge_WindTurbines_1.jpg
Wind turbines near the gorge.

Space_Needle_1.jpg
Space needle.

Space_Needle_3.jpg
Because you just can't have enough photos of the space needle.

Seattle.jpg
Base of the space needle.

Ossessionato
Mp3 500
Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 2320
Location: Denver Colorado
Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:27 pm quote
I catch up with your writing every few days and I always stay up late reading it. You are being appreciated, and I look forward to your reports.

Just a little morbid side note--that enormous lake-Yellowstone lake? That is actually a caldera for an ancient volcano. Its apparently going to blow unexpectedly again one of these days, so scientists say. A really, really big boom when that happens......its about 60,000 years overdue at this point.
Good to know what your riding past.....future cataclysm that you can fish in.

No check engine light at altitude eh?? Maybe they fixed it ( bedevils all the ones I know here in the Rockies, including mine). What year is yours again??
Glad the bike has run so well! Fingers crossed!
Scooting the Ozarks is a scooter rally held in Eureka Springs, Arkansas offering riders scenic twisty rides, poker run, and more.   Vespa Wasp Pin Badges   AF1 Racing Vespa Austin
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