Thursday, June 24, 2010

Some Afterthoughts

I swear on a stack of bobbles that I speak the truth when I say that after 3980 molls the bike ran well and hit didn't use a drop of awl to boot. As we rode, it was rather unsettling to to see the turkey buzzards in flot overhead as though waiting to see if we had bald sufficiently for them to grab a quick lunch. Furthermore, it wouldn't take a skew teacher to see how relieved we were when we politted our trusty steeds to the cooler climes of Michigan and home.

Ok, ok ... so the paragraph is bad, but after taking the time to identify a few SWD's it only seemed right that I should put them all into a single paragraph. That's my story and I'll stick to it.

Everything that comes to mind regarding a few final comments about our trip seems as though it's been ground well covered in other places. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to repeat because they are still true.

The people that we meet along the way on these trips make me proud to be a part of this country. Oh, there are exceptions (can we all say Leesville), but even there, more people than not tried to be helpful . Looking back there was the waitress at the restaurant on Whitewomans road in Roscoe (part of Coshocton, OH) who was quick to smile and answer any questions 2 geezers had to ask. In Hundred, WV there was the gentleman who told us of his family and how the town was named. There were the bunch of ATV and dirt bike riders who were more than willing to share information about road conditions (they really didn't know the condition of the road ahead). Miss Gertie at the little store in Vesuvius, VA was pleasant as were her patrons ("Miss Gertie, I went to the doctor this morning and he said I had to take these pills for the rest of my life"... Miss Gertie says, "That's not so bad." The guy says, "I suppose not, but he only gave me 3.") The guy on the Blue Ridge Parkway who advised us that we "had to check out Mt. Mitchell, the highest point in the east. (It wasn't all that cool, but it would be difficult to fault the guy's enthusiasm). I won't bore you with any more "people", but the point is folks are pleasant and generally helpful to others.... at least if the others are a couple of ne'er-do-wells traveling on motorcycles. My sense is that while on a motorcycle you are exposed and open and people feel more at ease approaching you; if you are in a car, you're surrounded by steel (that's why they call cars cages and the drivers cagers) and rather untouchable.

The geography of the places we rode were varied and interesting. While our part of the country (that is the Midwest) doesn't have great motorcycle roads, each year I learn to appreciate what it does have (I have to work on remembering this about February). The fact is we saw very few motorcyclists in our travels this year and I believe the simple answer as to "why?" is that it's too darn hot to ride.

The mountains of the east certainly can't compare to the grandeur of the rocky s, but the Appalachians are inviting and have a comfortable feel to them; they also have some of the most amazing motorcycling roads I've ever run across.... hairpin reverses and well banked turns for miles and miles. The Deep South, being flat doesn't offer that kind of road (at least that we could find), but the Natchez Trace proved to be a well groomed highway with slow and lazy turns set off by practically no traffic.

In the sections of Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma where we rode it could have been one state. Once having crossed into western Arkansas and Missouri riding in the Ozarks was also good motorcycling.

Once again thanks for sticking with us for so long. Have a great riding season.

Check in from time to time.... Charlie and I might hop on the machines and find some roads and experiences worth talking about right here in Michigan.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Last Day of the Ride - June23

Nothing too earth shaking for the last entry of the ride... I guess that's a good thing.

As planned we left southern Illinois this morning and headed for South Haven. After checking most of the weather reports it became pretty obvious that we were going to encounter some nasty weather on this last leg of the trip. As we reached the middle part of IL (and route 24 East) the temperature dropped at least 15 degrees, the sky took on a really odd appearance and the winds kicked up significantly. I was convinced, at the very least, we were going to get drenched and at the worst, sucked off the pavement in a funnel cloud (as interesting as the Emerald City might have been, the thought of such a trip was not at all appealing). After being splattered by a few large rain drops we stopped to don our rain gear. This evidently did the trick because for the remainder of the ride there was no rain at all. We traveled over wet roads and didn't pass a creek or stream that wasn't out of it's banks flooding everything from soccer fields to corn fields, but no rain.

Of course the significance of this is that the curse which has plagued Charlie and me for low these many rides seems to have been lifted. The truth is that the only day out of the entire trip that it rained, was day 1 and even that was nothing to be concerned with. The bottom line is that our future as "rain makers" has been shaken to the core and it is most unlikely that anyone would call on us in the future to relieve drought stricken areas with our presence.

After an uneventful ride across I-94 and 196 we arrived in South Haven about 3:45.

I may still summarize our wanderings over the next few days so if you are interested check in from time to time.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 11 - june 22

We left Branson this morning and traveled east on route 160. I was great riding through the Ozarks and the foothills of Missouri. Because we are visiting Charlie's sister and brother in law we continued on around St. Louis and into southern Illinois, where we're spending the night.

Our travels took us past some of the most renown bass fishing water on the continent. Places like Bull Shoals and Table Rock... even past a town that bills itself as the Bass Record Capitol of the U.S.

Well I'm typing this on Char's computer and don't want to use any more time on it, so that's all for now.

Tomorrow we plan on riding the rest of the way home.... possibly arriving in South Haven sometime around 4:00.

Thanks for sticking with us on the blog and I may put in a follow up just to include a few more random thoughts about the ride.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 10 - June,21

No pix today and not too much on which to report.... however allow me to bid you all a happy Summer Solstice.

We left Mena, Arkansas this morning in cool but humid weather and headed in a northwest direction stopping to have breakfast in Ozark. The road we took out of Ozark was AR 23 aka "Pig Trail Scenic Byway". It was a great motorcycling road with hills and plenty of twists and turns and entered Missouri. We crossed an arm of the reservoir just to the west of Bull Shoals and Bronson. You will notice that I did not mention the name of the body of water; this is due to the fact that I'm an old geezer, and our map doesn't show the name. I did take a picture of the bridge, so maybe I'll include it to see if anyone recognizes it.... so disregard the "No pix" comment above.

We are now in Branson, MO staying at a Baymont Inn & Suites. It's a nice motel, located just outside of town on the main drag. We went to the mall along the river for dinner and ate at Romano's Macaroni Grill.... turned out to be good food and in a pleasant setting. The heat here is as overbearing as it was in Louisiana... you could fry an egg on our helmets.

Branson has the reputation of being a town were the geriatric crowd go to watch the shows that used to be on TV during the 50's and 60's. Just as a casual observation it appeared to me to be populated with young families here to enjoy the usual tourist trap kind of things associated with a resort town like this.

Tomorrow we strike out for Illinois and plan on spending the night in the town were Charlie's sister and brother-in-law live. It looks like we will be ending the ride a little earlier than planned, possibly arriving home on Wednesday.... likely no later than Thursday.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 9 - June 20, '10

This begins the second week of our ride and we are leaving the deep South. While this does not seem like a particularly significant milestone, it is in that it marks the last day of the SWD educational component of the entries. There are two words today, and they are related. The subtleties of there pronunciation are difficult to master so lets waste no more time and get on with it. Word one is.... "flot" and the second is.... "polit". To make this easier, remember that the "o"'s have the same sound as the "o" in "odd". Now that you have this mastered here is a sentence containing both words: "Due to the terrorist on board, the "polit" was forced to end the "flot" by landing in Atlanta."

After the horror of the evening before, Charlie and I set out for Texas. We had breakfast in Louisiana just short of crossing Toledo Bend Reservoir. Once in Texas the riding was fast and enjoyable. The day had not yet warmed up to the point of blistering the skin and the speed limit was 70 mph on the secondary two lanes. We only had one episode to get the old ticker pumped up when we entered a corner a little hot and threatened to launch ourselves into the pucker brush. All's well that ends well.

By the time we made Oklahoma the temperature had risen to about 98 degrees on the banks' signs and we were stopping frequently to replenish our electrolytes... at least that's what Charlie told me. I still don't know what an electrolyte is and why it's so important that I have them.

From Oklahoma we crossed into Arkansas and ended up at a motel in Mena, where we rest now.

Today we logged about 360 miles and took no pictures.... sorry.

Special Edition - June 19, '09 - P.M.

The last post ended with me bemoaning the fact the the scoot wasn't running well. As it turned out, Charlie's ride wasn't running well either. I went out to check the oil and the machine wouldn't start at all. Conclusion.... bad gas. The tank would have to be syphoned out, and the fuel replaced. In addition, there was the possibility that a jump would be needed because of failed attempts to get ignition.

I should have known better than to buy gas from that particular station. I figure it's never a good idea to buy gas from a station whose pump areas have pot holes of a size of a VW Beetle. It won't happen again.

I walked to another station to see if they had a hunk of tubing or hose..... No. The proprietor said to one of the patrons that I needed some assistance.... the guy said, "He looks like he's doing fine." and walked out. I returned to the motel and asked if there's a towing service I could call... the guy said he only tows wrecks from accidents and then gives me the number of his competitor. The competitor said he's really busy, but may get around to sending someone over in a couple of hours (by this time it's 9:00). Charlie in the meantime managed to get his bike going and headed off to WalMart to buy some tubing; all he could get was a 6 ft. washing machine hose. We are able to syphon about half the tank by running it into a plastic bag lined waste paper basket from the room. I tied up the bag and left it on the lawn (the gas ate through the bag in short order... so much for that grass); I was paranoid for the rest of the night for fear someone would toss a cigarette on the lawn. In the meantime I called: 1. Smitty to have Jon (his son in law who is my insurance agent) give me a call. 2. My insurance company. 3. The AMA (for road assistance) 4. Both State and Local police (Charlie's doing).

At about 11:00 the towing guys showed up with an electrical pump to syphon the tanks... an empty can.... and new gas.

Long story short it worked. Cost: Original bad gas.... $20.00 - Fee from towing service .... $85.00 -Tip for tow guys .... $10.00 - Washing machine hose.... $6.00. Total.......$121.00.
Hearing the damned things running again.... Priceless.

Lessons learned.... 1. never visit a town called Leesville, Louisiana.... 2. Never visit a gas station with pot holes bigger than your vehicle.

Sweet dreams.