Monthly Archives: August 2013

Back in Gainesville, FL; Back in Motel 6

Four Corners Day 14, Epic Ride Day 34 (revised to Day 38… explanation to follow):

I got myself back to Gainesville so I can be at Streight’s Honda tomorrow morning when the UPS truck gets there with my new rear Michelin Pilot Road 3.  I’ve gotten 13,560 miles out of the one that’s on the bike and I think it would have done another couple of thousand, but it’s down to the wear bars and I’ll be more secure with a fresh one.  I’m also having them replace my front brake pads.  They’ve lasted over 40,000 miles.  The rear pads will probably last forever; I rarely use the rear brake because my knee surgery makes it awkward to bend my ankle far enough to use them unless I’ve pre-planned the move.

I slept fairly late this morning, ate a leisurely “brunch” at Denny’s, got gas and left Florida City around 12:15.  I made the mistake of riding up FL-997, the road in front of my motel.  I didn’t know it was going to have a 45mph speed limit and lots of traffic turning and entering the many nurseries along the 20+ miles to US-41, the old Tamiami Trail through the Everglades.  There was more traffic on it than I thought there’d be, too.  People going to the Indian village and the various airboat tours of the ‘Glades, kept that traffic going pretty slow.  By the time I got west to FL-29, I decided to make a turn and head as quickly as possible for I-75.

To really see the Everglades, you need to take one of those airboat tours, and that probably wouldn’t really do the job.



The Everglades

Signs I’ve seen only in Florida:

1.  “Crocodile Crossing” — on US-1 between Key Largo and Florida City.

2.  “Panther Crossing” — on US-41 and FL-29 in the Everglades.

3.  “Caution:  Key Deer Habitat” — on US-1 in the Keys.

4.  “Turn on Lights and Windshield Wipers During Rain” — on the Florida Turnpike and I-75.

At a rest stop near Punta Gorda, I got closer than I ever expected to get to two Sandhill Cranes:



I wanted to go over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.  It’s a different kind of suspension bridge:




(Obviously, my lens cover was back to its old trick of not quite opening all the way).

Just as the highway leaves St. Petersburg, it heads onto the “Howard  Frankland Bridge.”  And just as I got onto the bridge, traffic began the infamous Freeway Crawl.  Unlike California, there was a clear reason why it did it in this case:  there had been two wrecks, one at the east end of the bridge (in the eastbound lanes — my lanes, of course) and another a couple of miles east of that.

To make everything more delightful, just as I got onto the bridge and the traffic stopped, IT started.  “It” was the typical afternoon Florida deluge.  In stop-and-go traffic in heavy rain, one of the unique challenges when riding a motorcycle is keeping clear vision.  At speed, the wind keeps your face shield pretty clear and with my “Pinlock” insert, it rarely fogs up.  But when you’re crawling along, not even the Pinlock can keep it clear.  Opening it is your only real option, but that breaks the seal and rain gets on the inside of the shield and on your glasses.

But the Crawl only lasted about 5 miles and probably 30 minutes.

The rest of the ride to Gainesville on the Florida Autobahn went smoothly.  I’ve been riding at about 76 (+ 6mph over the speed limit) and I’m not passing very many cars.  I’d guess that about 80% of the traffic is going 80+.  Trucks supposedly have a 65mph limit, but they’re mostly running 70.

Tomorrow, after I get my tire and brake pads, I’ll head toward my brother Mike’s house.  It’s going to really wet in Georgia.  I’ll dig out my “more-waterproof” winter gloves.  The ‘Stitch does a pretty good job of keeping water out, so I’ll be all right … as long as there’s no flooding.

Stats:  Day, 421 miles, Trip, 13,441 miles; Year, 19,328 miles; Total, 71,415 miles.

I realized that I had not counted the ride to Spearfish, the ride to North Dakota with Rick and Jim Moore, or the two rides to Rapid City to the Honda dealer to pick up and return Jim Rau to his bike before we left for Alaska.  Those miles are part of the Trip, so I’ve revised the count to show all the time since I left home.

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Memories…; Positioning…; Pick-off…

It’s been three days since I’ve updated the blog.  I’ve ridden from Gulfport, MS, to Magnolia, FL, to Florida City, FL, to Key West, and back to Florida City.

On Thursday, with fresh Amsoil in the crankcase, I rode from Gulfport to Magnolia.  In what seemed like a some sort of cosmic joke, within 50 feet (literally!) of riding past the “Welcome to Florida — the Sunshine State” sign, I was in a torrential downpour, which stopped — completely — in about 10 feet after only about 1/2 mile.  Florida rain can be like that.  Very sharply defined lines of precipitation.

In and out of a couple of rain showers after that, all very hard and very short-lived, and I got off of I-10 to ride to Marianna, the little town on US-90 where we lived from late in my 5th grade year until the day after I finished the 8th grade.

As much as I love Longview, TX, the town where I graduated from high school, and value my friends there, Marianna has a unique place in my memories.  Perhaps that’s because I was more innocent and less caught up in the drama of boy/girl relationships.  We lived in town for a couple of years and then moved out to Graham Air Force Base, where my dad was a civilian contract flight instructor teaching student officers and cadets how to fly, first in the AF version of the Piper Super Cub and then transitioning into North America AT-6Gs.  After the first year or so in Florida, they up-graded the training aircraft to the Beech T-34 and the North American T-28.

When we moved to the base, we lived in a trailer.  My mother insisted we call it a “mobile home,” but we all thought of it as a “trailer.”  It was a 43-foot long Spartan, the Cadillac of mobile homes.  But we bought it when the width of all mobile homes was fixed at 8-feet wide.  The next year there was a jump to 10-feet and then 12- and 14-feet wide.  So, our living quarters were … uh… cramped until Dad built on a room that we used as a living room and utility room.  While we lived on the base, we were adopted by the greatest dog I’ve ever known, a collie named Mac.

Both in town and on the base, there were woods for boys to play in, and on the base, they covered lots and lots of area.  We built tree-houses and forts and had a great time.  I started Boy Scouts while we lived in town.  I was confirmed in the Methodist church there and experienced what church could feel like when it was a warm and accepting family.

BUT, there was a dark side to Marianna that I never even imagined.  One of the things I remember is going to the State Reform School for boys on the edge of town with my Sunday School class.  We were told about the ways that boys who’d gotten off to a bad start were having their lives changed for the better.  It’s only been this year that I’ve heard the terrible reports of brutality, including rape, beatings, and murder that seem to indicate that up to 80-90 boys died with no record of their death or of their burial sites.

Plus, in reading Phillip Caputo’s book, The Longest Road, I learned Marianna was the site of the last public lynching in Florida.  When I read that, I realized that I never knew a single African-American while I lived in Marianna.  After we moved to the base, I knew black flight students, but not a single black person when I lived in town.

My idyllic boyhood was lived in a town (like many others, I suppose) with a dark strain to it’s history.  A few pictures:


The Dozier School for Boys.


The house we lived in doesn’t look at all like it did when we lived in it.  Of course, we moved to the base in 1955, so the house is 58 years older than it was, just like I am!


First (United) Methodist Church where I was confirmed and where I began to grow in my faith.


The Scout Hut (it didn’t have the addition that’s on the right of the picture when we used it for our Troop meetings.  It was on the grounds of a park which gave us lots of room for interesting activities.  It doesn’t look like it’s still in use.


The chapel on the old base.  We had a great youth group on the base, thanks to the base chaplain, a Roman Catholic named “Father Little.”

The base has been divided into two parts now.  The parts that were administrative and residential areas are now part of “Sunland,” a state facility for hearing and vision impaired people.  It was beautiful — I just hope that there won’t be horror stories coming out about it 20-30 years from now.


When we lived on the base, this was the “TAC” (or Tactical) Building, where a lot of academic instruction happened.  It also held the base theater and was where we went the only time we ever “evacuated” our “mobile home” because of a hurricane.  I remember that Mac was miserable because the floors were so slick with wax that he could hardly walk.  Nothing happened to our trailer or to anyone else’s.  But it was an adventure!


This was where the base “mobile home” park was.  Now it, and the area along the flight line and a good part of the woods we played in and explored have been converted into an industrial park.


The old control tower, now in disrepair.  The building also had Dad’s squadron offices, briefing room, etc. on the ground floor at the left side of the building.

The other thing I noticed about the way I remember things and the way they are now is that everything is closer together and smaller than I remember it.  What do you suppose ‘splains that?

After I left Marianna, I began repositioning myself for my conquest of Corner # 3 of the Four Corners Tour.  I kept going east on I-10 and realized (again) how useful a GPS is for a person traveling in a strange area.  East of Tallahassee, Florida is about as desolate as West Texas.  I finally decided I had to get gas and got off at the first exit that would have taken me to Madison.  When I finished gassing up, a highway patrolman was also finishing and came over and started talking to me about my bike, my ride, his bike and the bike he’s interested in.  We ended up talking for an hour.  About 20 minutes into that, his sergeant came in off the road and joined in.  The first patrolman knew about my ‘Stitch, the Four Corners Tour, and the Iron Butt Association.  The sergeant just thought we were all crazy.

The next morning when I woke up in my Super 8, I had the first episode of not feeling quite “right” that I’ve had since I left home.  I extended my checkout time till a bit after noon and was OK the rest of the day.

I rode to Gainesville, a few miles east of I-75 and checked in at the Honda dealer who’ll mount the tire I ordered from Motorcycle Superstore and replace front brake pads for me on Monday.

Then I had the choice of riding a longer distance and on some non-Interstate roads or buying a Florida Turnpike SunPass.  I picked the SunPass, and activated it from the food court of the Service Plaza.  I was on “Florida’s Turnpike until within a mile of my motel here in Florida City.  There had been a wreck that caused another episode of the “Freeway Crawl,” this time at night and on the opposite coast.  For about five miles, traffic was stop and go until we cleared the wreck.

Once more, all the warnings I’d gotten about Florida drivers  and traffic seemed inaccurate.  Driving around Miami was no harder than driving in Houston.

Today, I got up, and messed around at McDonalds before heading down US-1 to Corner Number Three, Key West.  The warnings I had about the road to Key West were all accurate.  There was a lot of traffic, only a few places to pass (and if you did pass, you didn’t really gain anything), and, while I never had to stop except at lights, it was a long, hot slog to the Southernmost place in the US.

But I made it!


Corner Number 3!  Only one more to go!

I’m back in Florida City now and tomorrow I’ll ride across Alligator Alley, up and over the Tampa Bay Bridge and end up in Gainesville ready to get that tire on Monday morning.  UPS usually gets there between 10:30 and 11:30.

After I get the tire, I’ll be heading for my brother Mike’s house on Lake Keeowee near Salem, SC.  It sounds like I’ll get wet in a more protracted fashion as I head across Georgia, but that’s OK.


Thursday, August 15, Four Corners Day 11, Epic Ride Day 31:

Day, 402 miles; Trip, 12,341 miles; Year, 18,148 miles; Total, 70,237 miles.

Friday, August 16, Four Corners Day 12, Epic Ride Day 32:

Day, 475 miles; Trip, 12,816 miles; Year, 18,623 miles; Total, 70,712 miles.

Saturday, August 17.  Four Corners Day 13, Epic Ride Day 33:

Day, 282 miles; Trip, 19,098 miles; Year, 18,907 miles; Total, 70,994 miles

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Two New States by Motorcycle…

States Visited

If you’ve never seen this before, it’s a map that you can change to show the states you’ve visited.  I added Louisiana and Mississippi today.  Tomorrow, I’ll get Alabama and Florida colored in and then as I go to Madawaska, I’ll get everything but CT, MA, and RI.  I’ll pick them up after Nova Scotia (and Newfoundland and Labrador (if I can get Newfoundland and Labrador).  I can’t remember if I mentioned that the ferry to Newfoundland is closed to tourists right now.  Hopefully it’ll be fixed by the time I get there.

I’m at the Motel 6 in Gulfport, MS, after stopping in Baton Rouge, LA, for an oil and filter change courtesy of Tim Wilke, a fellow NT-Owners Forum member.  Bill Butcher (Big Bill on the Forum) was also there.  It was great to meet Tim and Bill and it was great to have Tim’s wonderful wife prepare us a great sandwich, a delicious smoothie, and refreshing iced tea.  I enjoyed sitting on my butt while Tim did a meticulous oil change (I think he maybe got three drops of oil on his clean garage floor — his garage may not be quite as clean as Chuck Henderson’s [“chucksklrst” on the Forum], but it’s danged close.  Plus I got see what a clean NT looks like … and a clean Wee-Strom.


I think Tim may have photo-shopped the pix he took because Dudley looks cleaner in those pictures than he is in real life.  🙂

Linda cleaned my headlight and windshield and it was nice to be able to see as I came east from Baton Rouge.

I got sprinkled on a bit on the east side of Houston this morning, but not much.  I had been pleased that in the first hour after leaving Bob and Kathy’s I covered 58 miles.  I was over a 60mph average when, just west of Crowley, LA, I saw ominous clouds, very low, very black and accompanied by a “roll” cloud that frequently indicates a particularly nasty squall line.  I pulled off and went to a McDonalds so I could take a look at radar on the computer and it looked like Crowley was the target of everything nasty.


I think I ended up in Crowley for about an hour and a half before the rain finally quit coming in waves.

I rode across the Atchafalaya Basin on the causeway and enjoyed seeing the swamp.


My lens cover didn’t completely open for this picture, but you can get the idea.  The Army Corps of Engineers has been working for years to keep the Mississippi River in its current channel, but some experts say that it’s always looking for the easiest route to the Gulf and “one of these days” it’ll jump over into the Atchafalaya.

I would have gotten to Tim’s earlier than the 5:30 I actually arrived, but I didn’t look long enough at the map I had on S&T and bailed off of I-10 about two miles before the split with I-12.  Then I took a long square-ish detour through some of the more interesting parts of Baton Rouge before I stopped at a little grocery store and went in to make sure I wasn’t completely lost.  The man I was talking to knew exactly where I needed to turn to get to Tim’s house.  I didn’t ask him if he knew Tim.  🙂

The oil change went smoothly (Thanks, Tim!) and if I hadn’t enjoyed the conversation and the food so much, I could have been riding a lot quicker.


Left to right:  Tim Wilke, Bill Butcher (who reminds me of a missing friend from my time in Ogden, UT, a guy named Bill Koenig), and me, the old fat cripple.  🙂

Bill and I left Tim’s at the same time and Bill was in front of me when I got onto I-12, but I never saw him again.  It was a nice ride through the night.  The moon is shining here now.  I hope that bodes well for tomorrow’s travels.  I’m going to pull off of I-10 to swing by Marianna, FL, a little town where I lived from the 5th through the 8th grade while my dad was a civilian flight instructor for the Air Force at Graham Air Base.  Then I hope to get south into Florida far enough that I can get to Key West on Friday and maybe get part way back off the Keys.  I’m probably going to need to get a tire somewhere in Florida.  My rear Michelin Pilot Road 3 is looking pretty worn.

Stats:  Day, 444 miles (two-thirds of the “Number of the Beast!!”); Trip, 11,939 miles; Year, 17,646 miles; Total, 69,835 miles.  I’ll roll over the odometer to 70,000 miles tomorrow!

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But At Least It’s Not a Dry Heat…

I needed to make it to Katy, TX, in time to have dinner with my (ex) sister-in-law and her husband today and since I was looking at about a 500-mile ride, I knew I needed to (as my dad used to say) “get my rear in gear.”

I set my alarm for 6:20, had the bike loaded and the SPOT started when I swung my leg over the seat at 6:44.  It was a short ride to McDonalds for an Egg McMuffin and a thermos of coffee.  I left McDonalds at 7:10 and was on the road to watch the sun come up at 7:16.


A sight I don’t see very often!

I got a few more “shadow” shots:


but missed the shadow!

It had been 69 when I left the motel, and an hour later it was up to 80.  I had a few stretches of highway where there gusty winds, but it was never too bad.  By the time I got to San Antonio, the temperatures were up into the high-90s and by the time I got around the Loop it was up to 102.  After I got out of San Antonio, it went back down to 99 for a while, but when I got here, it was 105.  I took a break at a rest area about 70 miles west of here.  From a distance, Dudley doesn’t look as bad as he does up close.  🙂


Stats:  Day, 495 miles; Trip, 11,495 miles; Year, 17,303 miles; Total, 69,391 miles.

Tomorrow I’m heading toward Baton Rouge where Tim Wilke, a fellow-moderator of the NT-Owners Forum is set up to do an oil and filter change for me.

Chuck Frank, a member of the NT-Owners Forum known there as Chuck 500, joined us for supper and by the time he rode “The Horse With No Name from downtown to Katy, his thermometer was reading 110.


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A Long Short Day

Four Corners Tour, Day 8; Epic Ride, Day 28:

When I hit the road this morning, I knew I was going to lose an hour to a time change.  I was wrong; I lost two hours!  And on the western side of the Central Time Zone, it gets dark earlier.  I had planned on going to Sonora, TX, before stopping for the night, but it was dark when I got to Fort Stockton and I could see the Motel 6 from the gas station, so I checked in, got a meal, and am getting ready to go to bed.

The only time I’ve driven the highway between San Antonio and El Paso it was at night until we stopped in Van Horn.  It’s all a lot prettier than I had expected so I don’t want to miss more daylight.

I’m going to hit the road at 7AM in the morning to make it to my ex-sister-in-law Kathy and her husband Bob’s house in time for us to go out for Mexican food tomorrow.  515 miles to go, but I’ll start earlier, grab lunch to eat as I ride and save time in general.

A few pictures from today:


Southern Arizona with a UP coal train being passed.


That may look like water in the distance in front of the mountain, but it’s not.  It’s sand.  There were warnings all through New Mexico about blowing dust reducing visibility to nil; but my winds were light.


West Texas (east of El Paso)





An abandoned building near Balmorhea


Sunset over my shoulder


Stats:  Day, 514 miles; Trip, 10,934 miles; Year, 16,807; Total, 68,895 miles.

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The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Men…

For months my NT-riding buddy Rick Ryan and I had been planning to do the Epic Ride together.  But just before the NT/ST-Owners Rally in Spearfish, Rick started having serious family issues.  These required him to abandon the Alaska part of the trip, which opened the door for Jim Rau to ride with me through Canada and Alaska.  We had a great time and managed to adjust to two radically different personal circadian rhythms.  Jim’s a quick-starter in the morning.  I, to put it mildly, am not.  But we handled it.

When Jim left Prince George, he headed home to Wisconsin.  Rick got back to his home in Henderson, NV, on that same Friday that Jim and I rode to PG.  After a quick packing job and a night’s sleep, Rick left Henderson and rode to Baker, OR, on the day I was riding from Prince George to Blaine, WA.  He joined me in Blaine on Sunday evening a week ago.

We rode Leg One of the Four Corners Tour together, but got separated in one of the Freeway Crawls yesterday.  When I got to the hotel after collecting the Corner at San Ysidro, I could tell he wasn’t feeling good at all.

When we woke up this morning, he said that one of the things he’d learned when he was taking flying lessons was that if something didn’t feel right, you ought not to be doing it.  Even thinking about doing the CC-50 didn’t feel right to Rick, and neither did riding farther away from home than he was this morning.  He said that his ego was telling him to go but his gut and his brain were telling him that he didn’t have it in him to go any farther.

I really appreciate Rick’s integrity and judgment in choosing to terminate his part in the Ride today instead of cratering somewhere on the causeway above the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana (for instance).  He made it home, but it took him way longer than it should have and he considered stopping for the night in Baker, 85 miles from his house.

I left SD at about noon, stopped for a late breakfast that included a burrito at a Carl’s Jr, east of San Diego, and then rode on through the mountains to the Imperial Desert and then into Arizona at Yuma.  The temperatures were a balmy 105-110F, but the winds were light and one of the things I learned from Rick (and had confirmed by Kurt Worden, a long distance rider who had witnessed the start of my now-abandoned CC-50) was to ride with LD Comfort long underwear and with all the vents to my Aerostitch Roadcrafter riding suit closed.  The LD Comfort gear is a two-layer wicking material that keeps your skin totally dry and all the sweat you have goes to the outside.  Air comes up the open cuffs of the ‘Stitch arms, hits the sweat (or water if you pour it up your sleeves and instantly creates a micro-climate inside the suit.  You can actually be cool in 110.  You can get the water onto the outside of the LD Comfort stuff by pouring it up (or down) your sleeves and your neck or by drinking it and sweating it out.  I did both today, drinking about two liters of water between the start of the Imperial Desert and Tucson.  The temperature stayed above 100 until about an hour after sundown.

I’m staying at another Motel 6.  This one is only $39.99 for a senior.  Motel 6’s are another good legacy that Rick passed along to me.

I’m going to ride somewhere into Texas tomorrow so I can get to Katy and visit Kathy and Bob Harvey Tuesday night.  Kathy’s my ex-wife’s sister and she and Bob are great friends.  Plus, when we’re together, we almost always manage to find the best Mexican food on the west side of Houston.

On Wednesday, I’ll get to Baton Rouge, where an NT-Owner’s Forum member will set me up for an oil and filter change.

I’ve ordered a GPS that will be waiting for me at my brother Mike’s house in South Carolina next week.  Navigating from here to Florida isn’t too challenging.  I made the only turn when I merged from I-8 onto I-10 (although I guess I’ll do a stint on I-12 east of Baton Rouge).

A few pictures:





Stats:  Day, 457 miles; Trip, 10,420 miles; Year, 16,280 miles; Total for bike, 68,372 miles.


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Two Down; Two to Go

Four Corners Tour Day 6, Epic Ride Day 26

P1060106It took six days, but I checked off another Corner of the Four Corners Tour today.  This one was the Post Office in San Ysidro, California.  To get there you ride to Exit 1 of Interstate 805, turn right and go up San Ysidro Blvd for about a mile.  To claim the corner, you have to get a picture of a recognizable landmark (Post Office, Police Station, or a few others that the Southern California Motorcycle Association recognize in each of the “Corner” towns), a gas receipt that shows the date, time, and location on a computer-printed form, and record your odometer reading.


After San Ysidro, I visited Kurt Worden, a fellow member of the Long Distance Riders List, who had graciously printed out the documentation needed for what we’ll be starting tomorrow.  We’ll be attempting what the Iron Butt Association calls a CC-50 (Coast to Coast in 50 hours or less).  It’s not as crazy as it sounds.  And we’re not deeply committed to anything but getting across the country reasonably quickly and completely safely.  Believe me, I’d rather do 1,000 miles on an Interstate than ride 200 miles on California Freeways like they’ve been the last three days!

Kurt did a CC-50 back in March on a Kawasaki Ninja 250.  That’s a bike with an engine less than half the size of our NT700Vs, and many people don’t believe that the NT is “big” enough to ride for long distances.

Kurt also pointed out that I’d forgotten to start my SPOT tracker this morning.  Sorry ’bout that.  But believe me, you didn’t miss much because Rick and I had more opportunity to do the California Freeway Crawl and it finally became so frustrating that we were enticed into trying lane sharing.  He did better at it than I did.  After a few minutes I gave it up and he disappeared down the road.  Of course, he did have a pressing biological need that I didn’t share, so he was more motivated.

After we were separated, he came on straight to the hotel and missed San Ysidro and meeting Kurt.

Tomorrow, it’s eastward ho!

Stats:  Day, 211 miles (for me); Trip, 9,963 miles; Year, 15,860 miles; Total on Bike, 67,915 miles.


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The not-quite-so-supercali… part of the day


We came down a steep and winding CA-154 into Santa Barbara, having enticing views of the city and the sea.  We got onto US-101, looking forward to fast freeway miles spinning out from under our wheels.

By the time we got onto the 101 and into Santa Barbara, we could tell that we were going to wake up in a new world.  Palm trees were everywhere, architecture consisted mostly of red tile roofs and stucco.  The ocean was still blue and we could see the oil-production platforms offshore.

But then, with no warning, the fast-flowing traffic stopped.  And it crawled for 13 miles, with no discernible explanation.  Occasionally, it would get up to 20-25 mph, but then it would stop again.  For over an hour, we crept along, just keeping our focus on staying upright and uncrushed.  Finally, we did get a chance to enjoy freeway speeds for the last 20 miles or so to the motel.

Stats for the day:  Day, 300 miles; Trip, 9,752 miles; Year, 15,608; Total, 67,697 miles.,

BTW, I want you all to know how much I appreciate your comments and suggestions.  BUT we are on the clock and don’t have unlimited time.  So, I’m not skipping sleep to reply to each of you.  I am really glad to have you all along for the Epic Ride.  I value your company as much as I do that of my two great riding partners, Jim Rau and Rick Ryan.  I appreciate them almost as much as I do my loving and supportive wife back in Fort Morgan.  Thanks, Joanne!

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A Supercalifragilisticexpeali…

….docious Day… In other words, another very good day!

As we left Salinas this morning, I was immediately impressed with the agricultural abundance of this part of California.  They’ve got some big people growing our crops:


We had our first stop-and-go experience of the day as we rode through Monterrey.  For a couple of miles, traffic on both sides of the road wasn’t moving faster than a few feet a minute.  Our first two hours took us down the coast only 70 miles.

But when we got clear of Monterrey and Carmel-by-the-Sea, things opened up.  Compared to the coast north of San Francisco, the road is in better shape and has fewer of the 15mph corners that bugged me so much on Wednesday night and Thursday.  The highway was more “sweepers” than “twisties,” and we all moved along at the same speed, about 5mph under the limit.

We saw a couple of lighthouses:


Point Lobos and:


and Piedras Blancas near San Simeon and Mr. Hearst’s castle (which we did not see).

In between, we had beautiful weather, not too hot, not too cold, and the fog bank was several miles offshore.  We saw some outstanding engineering and construction as we rode through a tunnel being built at a site where the road has been closed on a semi-regular basis due to land- and rock-slides.  When this is finished, that won’t happen again.  Or if it does, it shouldn’t be as bad.



A little over two hours after we left Salinas we arrived at the Ragged Point Inn and Restaurant, a place that had a magical feel and that we enjoyed for nearly two hours.

The views are amazing, the grounds are very well-tended, the restaurant was excellent, and the atmosphere is laid-back.  How many places with a restaurant will let people bring their own picnic baskets and spread them out on the manicured lawn?


Rick, my friend and riding partner, and


me, in all my radiant pulchritude.  🙂



After lunch and just sitting and soaking in the day (the smells were amazing, as were the butterflies, the bees, the flowers, and the begging bird), we went on south to Seal Beach, where we saw… no, you’re wrong — we didn’t see justseals, we saw ELEPHANT seals:


Looking at these guys, we decided that they have the kind of retirement many people look forward to, and it made us glad that we were more active.  🙂


On down the coast we saw this rock.  If you think you recognize it, you probably can’t remember where it is.  Well, it’s in Morro Bay, California.


From there, we went inland and took CA-154, which was just as beautiful as the coast in a different way.


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Back near old (very old) stompin’ grounds…

We woke to find very wet bikes, which gave us the chance to do a little cleaning.  My windshield, headlight, and the top of my gas tank (basically what I can see) are cleaner than they were.  When we park, Rick usually finds a different part of the parking lot, because he doesn’t want anyone thinking that his pristine bike associates with a filthy pig like mine.  🙂

But the “wet”  was more mist than fog, so we could see where we were in a monochrome sort of way.


The temperature stayed in the low 50’s so I appreciated my electric grips and heated jacket.  Rick appreciated his windbreaker equally as much, I’m guessing.

This coast is near my family and I lived in ’78-’79, when we spent a year living in Santa Rosa while I was “oil-field trash.”  My wife had an MG-B and we had fun driving some of the roads Rick and I rode today.

It was fun riding through Bodega Bay and remembering the day my flight instructor put me under “the plastic cloud” (a device which restricts the student’s vision to the plane’s instruments and is more frequently called “the hood”) and took me out to practice instrument flight and recovery from unusual attitudes.  After we’d done that, he gave me vectors and kept having me descend lower and lower.  When we got down to 100′ AGL, I knew we had to be over the ocean.  Then he took me down to 50′ AGL and removed the hood.  We were just above Bodega Bay, with the town and the cliffs on our left, the headland between the bay and the Pacific and nothing but ocean in front of us.  It was one of my best flying moments.


This is a picture of a church in Bodega Bay that may have been the one featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s film, “The Birds.”

We rode along Tomales Bay, which looked like it would have been a great place to sail “Taradiddle,” the wooden 17′ cat-ketch we owned while we lived in California but which never got wet, the whole time we were there.  I confess that I never really considered sailing in Tomales Bay after someone caught a 15′ Great White shark there not long after we moved to Santa Rosa.  But there were lots of boats sailing in the south end of the bay today.


After a brief stop in Stinson Beach, we rode up the southwest flank of Mt. Tamalpais and were treated to stunning views of the vastness of the Pacific Ocean.  You could see three or four ships heading west and one coming into port.


This was taken just as we started out of Stinson Beach.  I wish I’d gotten better pictures of the ocean, but we would have needed to stop … or I would have taken a plunge into the icy depths.

We came out onto Highway 101 at Sausalito, and were quickly onto the Golden Gate which has made a big improvement in processing traffic — they no longer make you stop and pay a toll.  Instead their cameras record your license plate and I’ll have a bill waiting for me when I get home (unless I can con Joanne into paying it for me).


You might be able to guess where this was taken.  🙂

Getting through San Francisco wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  We rode through the Presidio and then down Highway 1, right past Calvary United Methodist Church, one of the places where we and a bunch of University of Wyoming kids, along with the Wesley Foundation Director, Bill Bruce and his wife Jean, did a Mission Trip and painted the pre-school back in 1982.

The traffic got us in San Jose and then again about 20 miles south.  We were reduced to a crawl or less.  We got to see what “lane-sharing” looks like, and it was scary.  A couple of times, when we were moving at close to 60mph, a guy on a crotch rocket blasted past us and then through the moving traffic at 75-80mph.  A couple of other times, we were barely moving and a guy on a crotch rocket blasted by us and through the traffic at 50-60mph.  The only person who seemed to be doing lane-sharing the way I thought it “ought” to be done was a man on a Goldwing, moving about 10mph faster than traffic which was moving at 15-25mph.  I was slightly tempted to follow him.  But not enough to do it.

Stats for Day 4 of the Four Corners Tour and Day 24 of the Epic Ride:

Day, 296 miles; Trip, 9,452 miles; Year, 15,305 miles; Total, 67,393 miles.




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