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Launch Date: May 23, 2010

February 22, 2010

On or about May 23, Peter and Sebastian intend to launch what may well be an epic journey:  To Alaska and back.  On motorcycles.  That are over 25 years old.  Using bodies whose combined age is 85. 

Our trip will take us to 37 states–including the last three that I have never visited– and will cover nearly 13,000 miles.    In the lower 48, we will be as far west as Oregon and Washington, as far south as Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, and will hit just about every state in between.  We will miss only Florida, California, Colorado and the Southwest, and parts of New England.

We’ll be posting our progress, pictures, videos and your comments as we go.

So, stay tuned and wish us luck.

(By the way, It appears that the newest post will appear immediately after this brief intro.)

Peter and Sebastian

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Photo Updates.

August 16, 2010

We’re beginning to flesh out some of the posts with photos and also are filling in the Gallery page. So we’re not done yet.

The South and the End.

August 3, 2010

Our trip through the South was very quick and we made only a few strategically selected stops. Throughout, the heat and humidity were oppressive. If we closed our helmet visors, we would sweat bullets underneath, if we opened them, it was like driving through a blast furnace. We did not want to linger, and preferred indoor attractions.

St. Louis

Here is a Good Tip we learned for anyone planning a long distance MC trip. Since tires from dealerships are very expensive, you want to try to plan ahead for tire changes. So, in your tool kit pack a tire tread depth gauge, and monitor the rate of tire wear you are getting on the trip for the first few thousand miles. Use that rate of wear to figure out where you will need tires sent. While in Wyoming, I had determined that I would need new tires before the end of the trip, and so I ordered ahead and had the new tires shipped to a Honda dealer in St. Louis. By pre-arrangement with the dealer, they agreed to receive the tires for me and install them once I arrived. The arrangement worked perfectly although I did have a scare when the dealer could not locate the tires that UPS said had been delivered. We located them after a brief search in the adjoining auto dealership. My prediction had been pretty good and I only had to throw away a few hundred miles of good tread.

After installing the new tires in 100 degree heat, we repaired to a hotel for some AC. After the afternoon heat broke we headed into town for some sightseeing and visited the Gateway Arch–an amazing structure.

Gateway Arch

We were not too claustrophobic to take the tram to the observation floor at the top.

Arch Top

The whole thing was an engineering marvel.

Westward

Eastward

That is a very full Mississippi River down there, only two or three inches from washing over the banks.

 

 

 

 

Memphis

Our only two missions in Memphis were to visit Graceland and eat ribs. We didn’t really know what to expect at Graceland and were surprised at the feel of it. Although gaudily appointed, it was not in the least ostentatious, and had a warm, lived-in look and feel.

Graceland

Living Room

The King

Jungle Room

Elvis had a LOT of gold records.

A portion of the trophies.

From what we heard and saw in filmed interviews, EP seemed like a really nice boy! We saw no EP impersonators, but the stream of people flowing past the tombstones at the family gravesite right next to the house looked very serious in their devotion.

Fans

Our choice for ribs was the Rendezvous in downtown. We had little difficulty navigating to the alley, but did have to help a local policeman find it for us (he was just a little disoriented in his direction giving and cheerfully accepted gentle corrections from a tourist). The basement joint is in an alley, service is straightforward and quick and worth whatever detour you have to take to get there.

Rendezvous BBQ

Bustling.

Sooo good!

Well wasn’t that a barbecue!

We crossed the river to Arkansas, gassed up and headed for Leeds, Alabama.

 

 

 

Barber Motorsports Park

Our original itinerary had called for us to skim across the tops of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia on our way to a piece of road on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina–called the Dragon–legendary to motorcyclists. But we had been advised by several people not to focus so much on the Dragon, but we should not miss the Barber Motorsports Park a bit south of our route just outside of Birmingham, Alabama. We’re glad we took that advice.

The Barber museum is a must-see for any motorcycle enthusiast. On five huge floors are displayed hundreds of motorcycles (plus just a few racing cars) from the earliest days to the most modern and custom racing bikes made. We can’t say they have one of every bike ever made–notably absent was a sample of our CBF bikes–but the beauty, variety and ingenuity incorporated in the bikes on display is remarkable. From the glass rear window of the museum you get a good view of the motorcycle race track just outside. This was a maintenance weekend, so the track was quiet. Here are a few samples:

...Old...

...Gorgeous...

...Engineering marvels...

...Strange...

...even stranger...

...Custom racers...

Blue exhaust

...different front brake rotor...

Suitcase scooter folded up.

Suitcase Scooter Unfolded

Track outside

So many...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dragon

In between Tennessee and North Carolina, right along the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains Park there is an infamous stretch of road 11 miles long that incorporates 318 turns. The Dragon used to be a wild free-for-all for motorcyclists of all abilities eager to try their skills on a very demanding piece of road. Accidents occurring at a rate of two to three per weekend, a significant portion of them fatal led the local constabulary to increase their presence. There is one video of the Dragon showing not fewer than twelve police cars on that 11-mile stretch. So we had received conflicting advice. Some had said, skip the Dragon altogether–the police combined with the newly set speed limits made it not the thrill it once was. Instead we should try the Cherohala Skyway, a road offering much the same ride, but much less travelled. We couldn’t decide, so we did both.

The Cherohala Skyway was milder in terms of road challenge, but was very scenic. We caught it early enough in the morning to have an eerie covering of fog. It connected to the Dragon, so we turned off it and headed for the Deals Gap Motorcycle Ranch at the bottom of the Dragon.

Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort

Deals Gap Ranch

After checking into the scene at the ranch, we girded our loins and headed up the Dragon. Two turns in, we witnessed a bike coming the other way miss a turn and pile into a ditch. Four other riders ahead of us stopped to help. In a half-second glance we concluded a) he was not hurt, b) he had plenty of help, and c) frankly, it was not our problem. We continued racing up the road in fine form until… we caught up to a line of cars doping along at 15 mph behind a truck hauling a pontoon boat. We had no choice but to poke along behind. The speed limit on this road is 30 mph with some turns marked for 20. A good sport rider will do the entire stretch at not slower than 30, and averaging closer to 60. We judged that, loaded as we were, we would have been comfortable at not slower than 20 on the sharpest turns, and could have averaged 40. We were almost lapped by a guy on a bicycle heading up the road. It was a total yawn. We completed the run and turned around and headed back the other way. At the turnaround we saw 4 police cars engaged in police business, but we had not seen any out on the road on the way up. So this time we made good speed until we caught up to a pack of Harley riders doping along at the speed limit. Had there been only a couple, we might have taken the chance to pass illegally, but there were 6 of them, and there was really no point in trying. We stopped at one point to let them get ahead, but caught up to them very quickly. While behind them, we were passed by another biker who skillfully passed first one then another of us until Phhht! he was gone. We judged that he never got below 50!

When we reached the ranch again, we decided that there was just too much traffic to ensure an unobstructed third run, so we checked out the Tree of Shame

Tree of Shame

...more parts in the tree...

...even more...

where wrecked bike parts testify to the Dragon’s wrath, shopped at the T-shirt shop, and then gassed up and headed out.

But we survived the Dragon, and have T-shirts, stickers, a hat and a mug to prove it!

Dragon Slayers!

The Blue Ridge Parkway.

We had planned to return doing the entire stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway as our route home. And we made a good start, getting about 40 miles up. We stopped to watch a cloud fill up a valley below us and then turned around to see the same cloud spilling over the ridge where we stood.

Approaching cloud

A few more miles up the road and we were enveloped in wet cloud and couldn’t see more than 30 feet ahead. It was a good thing the lines on the road were brightly painted or we’d be up there still. We slowly made our way along until we saw a turnoff leading down the mountain, and when we got out from under the cloud we saw that we’d only made about 20 miles progress, and had over 450 miles to go. We quickly saw that we would not have time to do the whole thing, and we started hankering for home.

So, we decided to leave the Blue Ridge Parkway for another trip, and plotted course for a quick way home and took interstate highways the rest of the way. We stopped outside of DC for Sebastian to keep a dinner date with friends of his from the Internet, and the next day scooted on home.

And so here we are back where we started on May 21.  In another post we’ll assemble some of our statistics for the trip and continue to reflect.

–Peter.

A Quick Update

July 29, 2010

Another quick note to let you know of our progress and what we owe you.  After Jackson, WY, we visited Yellowstone, Devil’s Tower, several interesting places in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the SAC Air Force museum near Omaha, a working farm in Iowa including several stops of historic note, a visit and tour of the farmhouse where I was raised in Kansas City,  and a scheduled maintenance stop in St. Louis. 

We are now bound for Memphis tonight, and expect to be at least touching down in Kentucky, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia over the next few days.  After that, we’ll head up the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway and make a stop in Wilmington, DE before the final push back home.

I think I’ll take a vacation after this!

Family History

July 27, 2010

The third stop we made was Adair, Iowa. Back several generations on my mother’s side a Great-great-great-grandmother (I may have one extra great in there) wrote a letter to her granddaughter telling about her life on the prairie. In that letter she recounts one event of interest that happened to her while travellling by train from her home in Fremont, Nebraska to visit relatives in Chicago: the train was robbed. Grandmother Ruscoe gave a clear description of the unique circumstances of the incident (train derailed, engineer killed) including its location (about 60 miles east of Council Bluffs), and the date (late July, 1873). She even reported on conversations passengers had with the robbers. Brother-in-law Willis did the research to find that the details of this description coincide in almost every respect with official reports of the first robbery of a moving train in the western US and it was committed by one Jesse James! The scene is commemorated with a plaque just outside of Adair.

JJ's First

Before visiting the scene, we stopped into the Adair News and talked to the publisher. I won’t say he was terribly excited to hear the tale, but maybe he was just holding back not wanting to appear gullible. I promised to send him full documentation which he said would be published in the next annual Special Jesse James Edition of the Adair News. He did thank us for stopping in.

From Adair, we moved on to Kansas City where I was born. Back in the early 50’s my parents bought an old farmhouse on the outskirts of Kansas City and began an extensive remodelling. During remodelling, they uncovered within the walls a log cabin tha obviously pre-dated the rest of the building. They worked around the cabin structure, not changing it terribly much, but also not taking any particular pains to further expose the log structure. They were interested in having a more or less up-to-date home with room for a new family and entertaining. In later years, the house was reserarched and its roots traced back to a Shawnee indian chief of some local significance. It was enough to get the house registerd as a Kansas Historic Place.

I spent the first six years in that house and my sisters Debby and Jan were also born there, and we all have memories of it. We also have a wealth of home movies and family photos of those times. My mission was to see if I could find the house.

The only problem was that none of us could remember the street address, and there was disagreement about even what town it was in. My sister provided me with the filing made with the Kansas Historical Society. The description was accurate but I was certain that its address was incorrect and was pretty sure it was in the wrong town. But it was all we had to go on, so that’s where we went. Sure enough, that was the house. The neighborhood was utterly unrecognizeable, but the house itself was unmistakable.

KC House

Outside the old homestead

We knocked on the door, found the owner home and I had just begun to introduce myself when he said, “Hey, are you Ed Smick’s son?” And so I was. So we spent the next several hours there talking with Ike and his wife Nancy, and touring the house and grounds. The upstairs was almost exactly as I’d remembered it. Ike bought the house in the late 80’s and decided he wanted to confirm for himself the reports that there was a log cabin buried in there, so he removed part of one bedroom wall to expose the cabin logs and decided to leave it exposed as if to frame history.

It's in there!

Ike was the one who put together the registration for historic registry.

Some changes had been made to the downstairs and to the grounds, but the basic layout is much the same. The major changes were the addition of a front porch to return it to the way it was before my parent’s remodel, and the removal of a large semi-detached building that Ike kept referring to as a kitchen, but which I always knew as my father’s workshop. The cellar was still the same musty smelling fieldstone-walled old place where our home movies show that we had birthday parties. (This was back in the fifties when my parents and all their friends in the airline business were making babies and having cocktail parties at every excuse, and I think they just packed all the kids in the basement–cobwebs and all! ) In the cellar also I observed one of my father’s hallmarks: he tended to be an early adopter of unusual technology. In this instance he wired the house using a very oddball low-voltage wiring system which used relays in the basement to turn on lights in various parts of the house. Well, all that’s still there, and Ike curses my father every time something goes wrong with the wiring (Ike had for these many years been cursing the previous owner, but I straightened him out on the true source of his difficulties. And he’s now stuck with it because the house is registered and he can’t change it. How’s that for being hoist on one’s own petard!)(Actually, I’m sure Ike can make whatever changes he wants to the inside.)

After the tour, we all went out for some terrific KC barbecue at Arthur Bryants, before Seb and I hit the road again to make progress toward St. Louis, our next stop.

Ike LaJoie

–Peter

SAC and Corn!

July 26, 2010

After our departure from Murdo we made our way across the plains of Nebraska it was the second of the truely hot days we’ve experienced on our trip, the sun beat down, heating the air to a sweltering 94 without a cloud in the sky, the humidty (which we later learned was due to the corn!) shot up to about 70%. Most people think of corn as pretty boring, and uninspiring to look at. I beg to differ… The rolling hills combined with the near perfect rows of corn that extend off into the distance offer the eye a mezmerizing dance, both patterned and yet randomized as the stalks swayed in the wind, the mathematical perfection delivered by the computers of these modern piece of farm equipment is truely a testament to the advances we’ve made since the very beginings of agriculture. After a long day of riding we made it to Omaha and made several circles around the SAC Museum looking for a hotel that had food, turns out we had to go an extra 10 miles to find one. The SAC (Strategic Air Command) Museum wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. The entrance of the museum was misleading because outside they had the ICBMs designed to deliver nuclear payloads to russian and any other nuclear power that might threaten us. We expected the museum to be about the history of SAC, and the missle defense system… it turned out to be an Air History museum, much like the one at Wright Patterson, only smaller. The one advantage this one did have was a retired Air-Force pilot giving a guided tour and telling storries about his friends and favorite planes. Of course at WPAFB we had Uncle Willis to tell us stories. So we didn’t spend too much extra time there, we did get to take a close look of a cut away piston engine, that was pretty sweet.

We decided it was time to press on so we took off for Iowa. Another hot day in Iowa lead us to Louise’s (the Prairie Pirate we introduced a few posts back) house in Redfield. Although we got a little lost on the way, we arrived no worse for wear. When we were settled in Louise’s cousin Ed gave us a tour of his farm… which started with the “Machine Shed” (this building was big enough to be a warehouse) which housed a multitude of farm equipment which was so awsome, it was so much fun to crawl around and inside these gigantic machines (grand total invested musta been over $1,000,000). Ed and a partner together farm nearly 3500 acres of corn and soybeans. He showed us his bean fields, and his corn fields, and the impact Northern Natural gas was having on the farming in the area. Now this is cool… There are these rock formations several hundred feet under the area that consist of very porous rock, saturated by water. Someone figured out that they could pump Natural Gas down into these formations and it would displace the water, filling the rocks with natural gas, the water was then added back in, which would trap the gas in the rocks, making for a perfect (and incredibly immense) storage area for gas piped in from other parts of the country, which is also easily acessed! This company rents the underground storage rights from the farmers, paying them an monthly rent (that per acre reportedly is better than the land makes from farming) Any damage the company does gets paid back to the farmer, taking into account the fact that the chemicals they use may spread, and that the farming equipment cannot easily maneuver around these outposts. Believe it or not the compensation is fair, even above fair! We realized very quickly that we were long overdue the time we said we’d be back for dinner, so we finished up and headed for home… we had a great pork dinner, with all the corn we could fit into our stomachs, fresh picked that day.

The next day was full of adventure, we had many very important things to do right in the nearby area and we made sure we took the time to do it.

The first stop was Dexfield Park.In this spot was a very famous gun battle between Bonnie, Clyde, Buck and Blanche Barrow vs the police and posse. This is the spot where Buck was fatally wounded. Along the side of the road were a couple of granite plaques with a description of the events that took place–you wouldn’t know to stop at it unless you already knew it was there.  Here we said good bye to Louise and continued on.

Dexfield Park Marker

The second stop practically deserves its own post!

Well as you can see from the picture we were a little skeptical. At dinner the previous night we were told of this rock. It was easy enough to find,

Signage worked.

even though when we asked a clerk at a local store where the rock was, she said with a perfect deadpan: “Which rock?”

When we got there, it wasnt much bigger than what could be held in your hand,

Shucks!

but then we messed with the scale some more and we found that it was actually a lot bigger than we expected.

Rock

The story is this: The farmer that found this rock thought it was a regular field rock which is only about as big as a sofa, he kept digging around it, and it was getting bigger and bigger, soon enough they had unearthed this massive rock, which they estimated at 15 feet tall, 60 foot circumference weighing in at 500,000 lbs (allegedly). It took the combined effort of many of the local farmers to move this rock, using anchor chain with each link weighing 30lbs.

Rock Chain

It took something like 3 caterpillars, 5 Tractors and more, to get it to its final resting place outside their house.

There is even what appears to be a converted outhouse building as a “visitor center”

Rock Visitor Center

where you can see the event take shape through pictures and videos. and an honor system gift shop. Truly fantastic!

I’ll have to continue this day on another day! im tired.

-Seb

Black Hills

July 23, 2010

From Greybull we had our choice of two routes across the Big Horn Mountains. We opted for the one that I had done with Sky some years ago. I couldn’t really remember it, but I remembered that it was a good way to go. I suppose that’s a good way for this sort of memory to work. It guides you somewhere, but lets you rediscover. Not unlike the plastic castles in the fish tank, though. The road up Shell Canyon was twisty and steep and we rode it pretty hard considering that I had no rear brakes, and we were both loaded with gear. On the way up the temperature dropped about 20-25 degrees. We passed a rancher’s hand-written sign about a sheep crossing ahead. We’d been passing all sorts of wildlife warning signs throughout the trip and seeing nothing. So why should this be different? We rounded a curve and had to slam on the brakes and then proceed to wade through hundreds and hundreds of sheep all over both sides of and completely across the road for some miles. They were very funny playing with us darting back and forth across the road.

Across the ridge, the road descended down an equally steep course with more sweeping switchbacks than before until we reached the plains below leading towards the Black Hills of South Dakota. I think that of all the terrain we’ve travelled, nothing has compared to what you see in eastern Wyoming and the Black Hills.

Wyoming

Wyoming

It’s a beautiful combination of gentle and dramatic landforms, forests of dark green conifirs and open space, populated and unpopulated. Devil’s Tower was our destination for the night

Devil's Tower

and we arrived in late afternoon and stayed at a KOA campground right at the base of the monument.

DT Campground

LB and Friends

We did our laundry, ate dinner at the campground cafe and under the starry sky watched a movie on the outdoor deck. Yes, it was Close Encounters (of the Third Kind). What a hoot! We kept looking over our shoulders to see if something might be rising from behind the tower right over there.

In the morning we entered the park and walked around the base of the monument. Climbers were already busy at work trying to reach the flat top which, in indian lore, elevated the Seven Sister princesses being chased by bears up to the heavens to become the constellation Pleides. The bears left their marks on the sides of the mountain as it rose up skyward. WE think there is a secret DOWN elevator at the top that only climbers are allowed to know about, because we never saw anyone coming down.

Seb at DT

Morning climbing

 

The plain around the base is inhabited by hundreds of little prairie dogs.

One of hundreds

After leaving Devil’s Tower we entered the Black Hills and planned a route to take in the Crazy Horse Memorial, the Needles highway, and Mount Rushmore and leave us in position for the Badlands area.

Crazy Horse was a complete surprise to us. When I was in the area in the late 70’s I had only barely heard of it. I seem to recall it as merely a plan in someone’s head, and I figured it must have been completed by now. It is in fact a stupendous undertaking: carving a mountain into a 560 foot high sculpture of Crazy Horse mounted on his steed. The ceremonial first blasting was in 1948, and so far only the face of Crazy Horse is complete. The horse is blocked out, but has no form yet.

Crazy Horse Memorial

Crazy Horse is watching you.

The projection is for completion in approximately 140 years! The project is being conducted by the family of the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski (born in Boston) whose dream the memorial is. Work is financed entirely by the family, visitor fees, and contributions. There are no federal or state funds accepted. In addition to the carving on the mountain, a spectacular Visitor’s Center has been completed. Ultimately the site will include museums and university-level study facilities. Mind boggling this was!

The Needles highway had been billed to us as a road closed to automobile traffic and dedicated to motorcyclists. Alas, not true. It was quite a ride, running up into a section of the hills studded with thousands of tall pointed formations,

Needles

one lane tunnels–some barely wide enough to pass a pickup truck, and tight switchback curves which were quite challenging at 10 mph. The tunnels were quite fun. The sensible protocol for passage seemed to be that a line of cars would stop and accumulate at one end of the tunnel until the tunnel was clear, and then the line would proceed through as oncoming traffic stopped to wait its next turn. While we were there, we never saw more than 10-15 cars stopped to wait their turn and the informal system worked well. At the entrance to one of the tunnels we pulled off to the side in a small parking area and watched the antics of several drivers who didn’t have the sense and patience to get with the program. With a car at the head of the line stopped (because only she could see cars already in the tunnel) the next guy in line tried to go around her and enter the tunnel only to have to back out and get back in line. The joker behind him was getting very frustrated with the delay and was sufficiently brainless that he couldn’t figure out why the guy in front of him had to back out. He thought he’d try his luck and with tires a-screeching jumped out of line and tore into the tunnel only to be turned back by a much larger SUV coming out. By this time he had to back out fuming and swearing in view of a sizeable crowd that had gathered to watch. It was quite a spectacle.

As we approached Mt. Rushmore, the view from the road was all we needed. It was crowded, getting late and we were getting hungry. Then too, after Crazy Horse it seemed rather paltry. We ate dinner down the road a bit still in view of the site.

The originals

 

We pulled out of the Black Hills and headed east, and, after making the obligatory stop at Wall Drug,

Wall Drug

entered the north end of the Badlands National Park. The Badlands is a very strange place. It is a large basin of volcanic ash that has been carved into canyons by winds and water over the course of 500,000 years.

Badlands

Badlands

The formations that have resulted are not particularly large (maybe 500 feet tall), but they are proportioned and shaped very much like the huge canyon carvings like the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Looking out over the Badlands, the cliffs and peaks that you might expect to be several miles away, are really only a few hundred yards away. We hit it just before and after sunset,

Badlands Sunset

(with a bonus almost-full moon rising)

Moonrise at Badlands

and the colors and shadows added to the effect.

After the Badlands it began to get dark as we continued east across the plains to Murdo, South Dakota about an hour east of the Badlands. Here we encountered a strange motel phenomenon. In this small town of perhaps 50 businesses, half of which were motels, they all seemed to be full. The first one shook her head sadly when we told her we had no reservation, and she clucked and sent us to one that she thought had room. We took her suggestion and drove to the other end of town to find a motel whose large lobby was decorated to the nines in overstuffed antique furniture, gaudy wallpaper, dried flowers, mirrors, antique dolls, and heavy drapery. It looked like it might have been a high-class brothel from the 1870s! The only room the concierge had was an outlandishly decorated (he showed us the pictures) two-bedroom suite each with two king-sized beds. He realized it was overkill for us (even though we’d paid more for a room on this trip), and apologized that none of the other rooms he had were available (he showed us their pictures also). Then he helped call around town looking for other rooms. He explained that this suite was available only by dint of a last-minute cancellation. We asked him what accounted for the high occupancy and his eyes opened wide and he said “I don’t know, it’s just always like this.” Out in the middle of nowhere at no particularly festive time of year (except that it’s summer). He helped us find a room at a motel in the middle of town.

On the way back through town, it appears that I forgot to come to a full stop at the town’s one crossroad stop sign and the local sheriff was none too pleased. Especially so since I didn’t know he was a chasin’ me and just went on my way to tha motel, hitched my steed up to tha hitchin’ post and moseyed on in to see the motel man. I heard a call: “Hey, come back here!” and turned to see the red-faced sheriff and his red-lit car lighting up the night sky (it clashed badly with the pink neon trimming the entire front and sides of the motel). I was able to disarm his anger within a few minutes by being as sweet and innocent and apologetic as I could be. We talked about the trip, and at the end he said: “Now what we have here is just a warning. You don’t havta pay a fine or go to court or anything like that, it’s just sort of a note that we talked about this.” And off he went. When the motel proprietor came out he was sympathetic and asked what happened. When I told him, his jaw dropped and he said “Gosh he hasn’t given out just a warning in over twenty years!”

“Now,” he continued, “the room is really small and it only has two small beds. And the bathroom is very small. But it’s clean, and I hope it will be OK.” It was late, we were tired, the room was fine, we slept.

–Peter

Yellowstone II

July 22, 2010

In the morning the weather had improved a little. There was a low, thick overcast and fog, but at least no rain. I could not determine why my brakes had failed. There was no leakage, plenty of fluid, good brake pads, but still no pedal pressure, and no braking. I made a few adjustments and was able to get just a tiny bit of stopping power at the very bottom of the brake pedal. Since there was nothing I could really do about it, and since I had good front brakes, I decided to move forward carefully. So we packed up and headed out of Jackson for the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.

As we passed by the Tetons, we were running under an overcast and fog and couldn’t see the mountains.  We didn’t want to waste the drive, and it looked like the cloud cover could possibly burn off. Since we hadn’t had breakfast yet, we pulled into the Jackson Airport to get something to eat and give the weather a chance to clear.

Before

Nah!

After

To our delight, it worked. The mountains came out, the skies cleared, and weather was no longer an issue.

We passed the 13,000 mile mark right here.

At 13,000.

Lots of traffic, lots of people, lots of buffalo, lots of steam, and lots of sulphurous gases pretty well cover Yellowstone. It was certainly better than the first time we went through. The highlight was a single buffalo trying to catch up with the rest of the herd that had crossed the road earlier. This guy was crossing a causeway near a lake and we found him strolling peacefully up the road in the oncoming lane. He had traffic backed up behind him as far as we could see, and was also backing up our lane because nobody knew when he might want to cross. Next to our motorcycles he was huge and not a creature to challenge. So we just waited and eventually he crossed our lane and moved away from the road. Fortunately we did not meet up with the bear that recently did in a camper. Here are a few photo highlights.

We arrived and it was already ready already.

The Grand Prismatic Spring

Excelsior Geyser Crater

The Sulphur Cauldron

Sulphur Cauldron 2

Leaving Yellowstone in early evening put us out the east entrance out a gorgeous canyon road toward Cody, Wyoming where we stopped and enjoyed a terrific steak dinner at Cassie’s Supper Club and Dance Hall. After dinner we decided we still had energy for more riding, and since I couldn’t find my planned destination on the map we just headed east and got as far as Greybull, WY.

This let us have another experience desert night driving. My father once told me about driving across the desert on his motorcycle using just the light of the full moon. We tried it, but just didn’t quite have enough light. I now seem to recall Dad saying something about following behind a big truck and using his lights. Doh!

Peter out.