Thursday, August 17, 2017

20170817 - Clarksburg WV to Laurel MD (turned 70,000 miles on this trip)

After 5 consecutive 12 hour riding days, I knew this was going to be an easy last leg.  I was right, and I was wrong.

Being in no rush, I took my time loading the bike.  As lazy as I was trying to be, I was still rolling by 9 am.  The morning was sunny and the temps were cool.  It was a welcomed change from 90+ degree days.  After a short while, I saw an IHOP in Clarksburg and decided to have a bite.  It works out that this Ihop sits on a hill right outside the Clarksburg FBI field office and it's imposing restricted access signs.  The people here were very nice.  Tabby, my waitress, seated me in the back so I could see my bike and told me that if anyone messes with it, I can go right out the back door and take care of business.  Yes, Ma'am.  The 'back door' was an emergency exit, and I'm sure I would get assistance if said event were to happen.  As it was, the only person who came near my bike was an elderly gentleman that just wanted to take a closer look.  He was harmless and it may have reminded him of 'back in the day.'  Good for him.

West Virginia is really nice motorcycle riding country.  The super-slabs are anything but straight, and the posted speed limit is 70.  Each turn beckons to be taken just a little faster than the last.  I'm certain that a novice rider would be challenged and hopefully take the ride a little slower.  More advanced riders are likely to push, and during the day, I think this is fine.  At night, I think it's more than a little dangerous.  Your headlights are all you have going for you, and you're definitely over-driving them.  You're going to hit any pothole, road-gator, gravel, animal, or whatever happens to occupy the space you thought you wanted to be in.  West Virginia is also so beautiful that one should ride during the day if they want to enjoy it.

64 runs into Maryland.  I've been on this road several times.  On my Harley, I used to ride down to Martinsburg, take Rt. 50 all the way out to Morgantown and take the super-slab back home.  50 is the best ride in West Virginia I've been on so far.  It is absolutely fantastic.  As I passed the sign and realized I didn't have time for it, I felt so sad.  When 64 gets into Maryland, you start finding little towns like Frostburg.  These are quaint little towns that are as picturesque as they come.
As I passed the first rest stop in Maryland, I thought about a rest stop that I was going to pass, close to my old house, where the DC Snipers were caught.  Back in 2002, I was working in the Washington DC metro area and these guys were picking off people in parking lots and gas stations.  As the body count mounted, law enforcement put out information they had about the gunman, including a description of their car.  A couple of very alert truckers found them sleeping in their car at a rest stop and pulled their rigs across both entrances so the sniper's vehicle could not get out.  They called the police, and a SWAT team arrested them.  The whole area is picturesque, but I thought it would be a good place to deploy my drone and get some footage.  The area is 10 miles from the nearest airports, so 400' off the deck should be no problem for any aircraft in the area.

video

Coming across 70, my GPS was calling for a turn down 270 to get to Laurel.  I was planning 70 all the way across and then down the Baltimore Parkway.  The GPS route said 370 to 200.  I hadn't heard of any of these routes as they are both on the top side of the beltway, but I thought I'd give it a shot.  I was committed to 270 (being 15 miles down the road) and learned that 200 is a toll road and requires an Easy Pass.  I knew this was going to now involve the DC Beltway, something I really wanted to avoid.  I pushed past the exit, but my GPS kept wanting to route me to 200.  I got through the menus quickly and selected the avoid toll option.  What happened next was dreadful.  Mr. Garmin sent me through Bethesda, Silver Spring, and Beltsville.  This is a death sentence for someone who likes wide open spaces.  Amidst the $600,000+++ homes, there are a ton of people and vehicles.  GPS had me going down side streets and finally routing back onto the beltway.  At 2 pm, the beltway was already near max capacity.  Did I mention that through all the stop and go it was 90 degrees with high humidity?  Yuck.  The last 16 miles of this 3100-mile trip was definitely not fun.

Here, enjoy a portion of the last 16 miles with me...at 2x speed.  I'll spare you the trauma.  Wait.  I can't watch it at 2 speed.  You won't either.  I tried 4x speed.  Still too painful.  Here it is at 8x.







 Here are the maps...

Today's run


This trip:



All trips to date:



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

20170816 - Poplar Bluffs MO to Clarksburg, Wv




All 2 of my loyal readers will recall that I have had many encounters with animals on my bike.  I've run over snakes, groundhogs and been hit by bats, birds, etc.  Somewhere, I have a post with a tally.  I'll have to dig that out so I can increment the number.  I just don't know by how much.

This happened the day before yesterday and I forgot to mention it.  I was riding along in Oklahoma, minding my own business and taking note of all the dead armadillos on the road.  I was just in the process of recalling how they tend to freeze when there is danger and that results in lots of road kill.  Right about then, I was jolted back into reality by a sting on my right side.  Not one, but two, then three and by the time I got my jacket open, I was stung 4 times.  I have welts from the little bastard(s).  I was wearing my bright yellow riding summer riding jacket, and with black pants, I imagine I looked like a big yellow jacket riding a motorcycle and the little critter(s) wanted to have a look, only to get caught inside my jacket.  I'm sure they came up from the bottom.  I would definitely have noticed them going down the neck.

Back to today's ride.   Leaving MO, I saw a radar picture that said do not go through Paduka KY, so I didn't.  I started heading up 57 North with plans to grab 64 and continue east.  I have to admit, I was really upset about this.  First, I was on the super-slab and second, I've already been on those highways so I wouldn't be making anymore new lines on my map.  I was really bummed about it.

Well, I stopped for fuel and checked the weather as I've become accustomed to doing now and Paduca cleared, but my current route had a big thunderstorm right in the middle of it.





So, not being afraid to go a hundred or two miles out of my way, I headed back down to Paducha.  In fact, a local who was at the gas station gave me some advice to keep me from going further north.  I actually stopped for breakfast and it was a proper breakfast - Eggs, cheese grits, toast and tea.  I was back to being excited because my route would now take me through the Western Kentucky Parkway and the Bluegrass Parkway.  With visions of the Blue Ridge Parkway going through my head, I was excited by the possibility of some awesome landscapes.  That simply did not happen.  My hopes were dashed.  It was just another super-slab with a parkway moniker attached to it.  ughh.  At least I had new lines on the map and know where I don't need to go back to.

Now, I-79 is another story.  That is in WV.  This features a 70 mph speed limit, twisties and a beautiful landscape.  I recommend this super-slab.  Here's some video:

<<<Insert super slab video>>>

I have been in WV more than once and I know the super-slab is not lit well, so riding these roads at night isn't really recommended.  Fast turns, headlights only, and not so attentive drivers make this a dangerous situation.  I pulled off just shy of Clarksburg WV, leaving me 4 hours to my destination.  I decided to get my room before going to get dinner.  Even if things are closing, it's more important to secure a room before other weary travelers take what's available.

Dinner was at this little Mexican restaurant called Don Patron Mexican Grille.  Their salsa is fantastic, as are their tamales.  Don't fill up on the chips, the dinner is well worth waiting for.

Here are the maps:

Today:

Trip so far:

All together:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

20170815 - Enid OK to Poplar Bluffs MO

Today's leg was brought to you by the numbers 412, 60, 160 and 60.  Yes I mentioned 60 twice.

The trip has been awesome so far.  I've been riding my ride the way I want to ride it.  The weather has impacted my choices, but not in a bad way.  Thunderstorms caused me to miss most of New Mexico, but I got to see the southern part of Colorado.  I can come back and visit New Mexico, so net plus there.  I also needed to avoid Arkansas because of thunderstorms in my path.  Arkansas is close enough to Florida, so I can do more there at a later time.  The push into Missouri wasn't thrilling.  There really isn't any awesome landscapes that I found along my route.  I'm sure Missouri has more to offer.  Someone is just going to have to show me.  :-)

I stopped in Poplar Bluffs, MO for a couple reasons.  First, it was getting late and I didn't have 2 hours of night time riding in me.  I could have, but monkey butt was suggesting Poplar Bluffs is a good place to stop.  I also thought I'd be pulling off the road in time to get something nutritious to eat.  I was wrong.  I wasn't getting on the bike and delivery options were pizza only.  I don't need a pizza pie.  I've been eating light this trip and I can do without dinner.  I will just make sure to get a good breakfast.  This morning, I didn't get around to breakfast until 1pm.

At 1pm, I was really in search of eggs and toast, but all these little towns seem to have pizza, Mexican, and Chinese food.  I kept passing up all that till I arrived at Clayton's, where I had Calve's Testicles.  These little gems are an organ meat (obviously) and have a slightly gammy taste to them.  I didn't care for the breaded and fried part, but they were tender and actually very tasty.

Here are some maps...today's leg - all trips on my K1600GT since 7/13 of 250 miles or more.  I'm going to turn 70,000 on this trip.







20170814 - Pagosa Springs Colorado to Enid Oklahoma



Here's the trip so far. 

The day's ride didn't have a good start.   Every night, before I leave the bike, I take the GPS out so I can download my route and make the maps above.  In it's place, I put in a plastic insert that came with the bike to cover the hole in the dash board.  Well, I don't really navigate by GPS and forgot to put it back in the dash.  While leaving the parking lot, I was reminded of this when that square plastic insert popped out and fell through the tupperware toward the front forks.  I didn't hear it hit the ground.  Of course, I pulled over right away and searched for it.  It was still somewhere under all that tupperware and my concern was that this 3x4 piece of hard plastic could work it's way into a place that caused the front fork to lock up.  It would make for a nasty spill if that happened, so finding it was a priority.  Of course, it's black, just like everything else.  I pulled off the right side panel, but couldn't see anything.  I noted that I was very low on coolant.  :-(  Finally, I found the plastic piece with a flashlight by looking up from the wheel.  It was lodged off to the side and probably wouldn't have caused a problem, but it probably would have rattled loose at some point.

It just so happens that there was a Car Quest auto parts store open at 7am just down the street from me.  I stopped in and bought coolant.  I only needed a pint or so, but the smallest they had was a gallon jug, so now I'm carting around a jug of coolant in addition to everything else.  All in all, I can't say I have all that much.  I probably won't need my heated gear, but I have that and my rain gear in the left side hard case, along with my hand tools and a knapsack with my 3 season jacket in the right hard case.  In my top bag I have all my clothes, laptops, cable bag and shaving kit.  In the trunk, I have the drone, oil, miscellaneous stuff and my GS-911.  Now, I have a jug of anti-freeze back there also.

My friend Jeff commented that the route isn't exactly a straight line.  I beg to differ, somewhat.  After getting out of the Rockies and making my way across the state, I turned South to get to 412.  412 is a secondary road that goes between New Mexico and Arkansas.

<<<insert tunnel video>>>

I've been trying to stay off the super-slab as much as possible.  I took 15 out of California to get this trip started, and did about 50 miles on 25 south to get to 412.  If someone dropped a chalk line between the three states, the road couldn't be straighter.  With the exception of short little diversions to pass through some towns, the road is amazingly straight.  I could probably fall asleep and make it across the state.  412 starts out as a 2-lane, unmarked road without a building in sight for my full 135 degree field of vision, all the way to the horizon.  I saw one vehicle every 20 minutes or so for a long time.  If I had opened it up to 160, nobody would have known it.  Out here, there is also no cell service or any other services for that matter.  Truly, this is off the grid.  If I were to break down or need any other services, my bet is that I'd wait a few hours by the time I flagged someone down, they got to the next area with cell service, called it in, and someone made it to me.

When I hit Clayton, I was in need of gas.  This monster thunderstorm was off to the north and I was concerned that it was going to get in front of me.  As it was, the top anvil was over me.  It's possible that I pushed my speed up a little bit to get it behind me and put some distance in between it and me.  The last thing I want to deal with is a thunderstorm in this part of the country.  There is literally nothing out here for shelter and towns with any kind of infrastructure (not just the intersection of 2 roads) is easily 80 miles apart.  That's a long way if riding in weather.  As I got to each town, I looked at the Dark Sky to make sure I'd get to the next town before I left.  It was much more stop and go than I'm used to, but I felt it was necessary.  I also decided to start searching for gas when I was at half a tank.  If I got to 100 miles DTE, I was a little concerned.  Towns on the map don't necessarily have gas and the ones that do don't always have premium.

Right about Woodward, I decided that I was going to make my plan for where to stop.  Enid was in my path and would give me an option to get to super-slab, should the need arise.  I also had options to go in any direction should morning storms show up.  With that in mind, I began my last 90 minute leg, which was interrupted by a police officer who gave me a verbal, roadside speed certification.  It would seem that I was coming into town and while setting Enid into my GPS I missed a speed limit sign and when I saw the 30mph sign, I was going too fast and hit the brakes.  He was right there and pulled me over.  I knew he didn't want to give me a ticket.  He addressed me as brother when he walked up.  He also told me he rides.  I asked him what and he said he rides a Yamaha V-Star.  I commented that they are nice bikes and that a fellow paramedic I used to work with rode one for many years.  He then told me that the department was looking at getting motorcycles, but the chief really wanted Harley's.  He said he wanted BMW's.  I commented that there was no way a Harley was going to catch a bike like mine, particularly out here.  He laughed and agreed.  He checked my license and we talked for about 10 minutes more, shook hands and he let me go without another word about my speed.  At the beginning of the stop he mentioned that he got me at 42 when I crossed that 30 mph speed limit sign.

The delay meant that I'd spend the last hour riding in the dark.  412 doesn't have a light on it, so the only thing you have going for you is whatever headlights you have and the lights of an occasional passing vehicle, mostly 18-wheelers.  I made a reservation while in Woodward to make sure 1) there were hotels in this town and 2) to make sure I'd have a room.  I really didn't want to be without a room.  At this point, I'd been riding sun up to sun down 2 days in a row.

Monday, August 14, 2017

20170813 - St. George UT to Pagosa Springs CO

My Internet connection is horrible, so I'm going to keep this short today.  I was up long before sunrise this morning and even had time for an International Skype call with a friend in Korea before getting on the road.  Here's a video of the sunrise:

<<<Insert sunrise video>>>

I took a path through Hurricane UT.  By the sounds of that name, I expected there to be anarchy in the streets or perpetual nasty weather.  None of those were true.  Hurricane is a sleepy little town.  It looks like lights are out at 9am and nobody stirs before 8:30.  Right after Hurricane, I was smack dab in the middle of the Red Mesas.  WOW.  I'm really into landscapes and these were spectacular.  This would last all the way till Colorado, where things turn green.  I even stopped and flew the drone while I was in Arizona.

<<<Insert drone footage>>>

My trip to the North Rim was a little short.  That is to say I got there, walked about 200 yards, looked over the edge, took some horrible GoPro video that I won't even post and left.  It seems that the North Rim was hosting thunderstorms in the morning and the skies were looking mean.  I didn't want to stay, but I do want to come back.  It's breath taking.

I've been trying to avoid the super-slab as much as possible and today, there was no super-slab.  While enjoying the landscapes in UT and AZ, I learned that NM was planning on hosting thunderstorms across the northern tier in the afternoon and early evening.  I managed to detour into Colorado, which was unplanned, but very nice.  It was totally worth doing.  New Mexico has wonderful landscapes, no doubt; but, I had a full day of mesa's.  It was time for something else.

I stopped for the night in Pagosa Springs Colorado after riding from sun up to sun down.  It was 8pm when I pulled into this hotel with horrible Internet.  That's not bad considering I've been known to push well into the evening hours.

The plan for tomorrow is to end up in Oklahoma.  Why?  Well, my K1600GT hasn't been to Oklahoma.  I plan to take 160 to 385 to 412 and ride 412 east for the day.

Here's what I did today:




Saturday, August 12, 2017

20170812 - Redlands California to St. George UT

8/12 - I can't start the trip until the laundry is done.  I fell awake at 4:48 am, so getting started was easy.  It's alway so rude being awakened by the alarm clock.  I should be able to load out and be on my way by 7 am.  Today's destination is somewhere around North Rim Arizona.  I don't know if I'll see the Grand Canyon today, or tomorrow morning to lead into tomorrow's ride.  While I'm waiting for my socks to launder, I might as well plan for what I'm going to do tomorrow!  This trip, there's something new.  I'll be posting a video from my new DJI MavickPro.

As I'm loading up my bike, I realize that I've never had so long to do a cross-country trip.  I have a serious get-there-itis problem and tend to push.  I don't need to this time.  I'm hoping I'll be able to relax a bit and enjoy this trip more.  I don't want to end up in Maryland long before I need to.  There is plenty to see in this country.

1523 mountain -   It was a relaxed start, as starts go.  I was turning wheels before 8 am.  Considering that I didn't start packing until I woke up and did laundry, that's not bad at all.  Packing for a motorcycle trip is an interesting exercise in decision making.  I've posted about this before.  This trip had a wrinkle - I needed to pack shoes, dress socks, dress pants, and dress shirts, three days worth.  That takes up more space than my traditional extra pair of underwear and meant something would have to be left behind.  I'm also planning to get up into the Rockies, and at 12,000 I'm going to need some warm gear.  I'm also going to be traveling through the desert, so I'll need my light gear also.  I'm leaving early so I can do some hiking, so I'll need some clothing for that.  As it works out, all my clothing, plus both laptops, my shaving kit, and cables all go in my top bag.  This is good because the less stuff I need to take off the bike, the better.  I prefer only having to pull one bag from the bike if I can.  When it was all said and done, I have rain gear, heated gear, and my tools in one hard case, and my 3 seasons riding jacket and a knapsack in the other.  The trunk has my drone, air compressor and miscellaneous things I want to be able to reach easily.

Let's talk about bongo ties.  I recently picked up a package of these and boy are they wonderful.  I've been riding around with my Spot tracker loosely strapped to my master cylinder.  With this, I can securely keep it there.   I also have one that makes sure my ham radio doesn't try to escape from the cradle and two that hold my Sena SR-10 in place.  They are also great for keeping wads of cables together and allow for quick release.  Get some.

The ride from my house to St. Charles Utah was mostly uneventful, except for a few things.  This young lady (20's), who decided to climb partially out the passenger side window on I-15 and flash her boobs at the car next to them.  I was totally surprised, and to my dismay, she would not repeat the event for my GoPro.  She was quite attractive.

Then there was the skid into Love's.  Someone was running a sprinkler, or for some reason, water was running down the concrete gutter at the entrance of Lowe's.  I definitely saw it.  I even took note of it, but I did not process the dangers of having water in my path while I was going to be turning right on top of it.  Needless to say, I had a fair amount of lean going for me when both the front and back tires started washing out from underneath me.  As it was happening, I had just enough time to think 'stay in the lean' when both tires grabbed the asphalt.  My bike wiggled around a little bit, but I got things under control and continued on.  There was some lady in a mini-van that witnessed the whole event, and she was probably worried it wasn't going to end well.  After it had happened, I thought about how sad it would be to wreck my bike right at the beginning of the trip.  I'll be more careful.  Promise.
The other interesting note for this trip was the heat.  Temperatures started in the 90's when I left and steadily rose through the desert.  The high was 112.1 degrees Farenheight in Barker California.  Temps fluctuated mainly between 104 and 108.5.  Temperatures in the 90's never cooled me down so much.

My friend Paul turned me on to cooling vests.  Basically, you wear the material wet, and as the water evaporates, it provides some cooling.  When I bought mine, I had to buy a 3x.  The 1x was tight, and they don't make a 2 x anymore (????).  I thought the loose fit would be good to allow more air to circulate.  I do get some cooling from it, but not much.  I can't decide if it's worth it yet.

I decided to stop in St. George, Utah for the evening.  I wasn't going to stop, but at this point, there is very little between me and the North Rim.  I thought it would be nice to sit in the air conditioning for a little while and relax, hitting the North Rim early in the morning.

So, here's a tip if you're in a hotel room and need to dry something over night.  For those that are on the synthetic riding gear train, I'm not.  I've ridden thousands of miles in all climates with that on and I can't stand how my skin feels when I stop riding.  The blah, blah, blah, will wick moisture away from your skin is nonsense.  Give me cotton, cotton breathes.  No, it won't dry as fast as synthetic stuff, but that is not worth the feeling I get from it.




Here's some gorgeous Arazona landscape with music by Bensong.


Today's Map



Monday, July 24, 2017

20170723 - Redlands - Inglewood - Solvang - Inglewood - Redlands

I  reconnected with a friend today, picked her up in Inglewood, and went on a ride to Andersen's Split Pea Soup in Solvang Ca.  I'd been to Andersen's before and it is a nice restaurant.  The trip up the PCH is always wonderful.  I left at 6am since Google was saying the trip to pick her up would take 1:47 minutes.  I took 91 and when I arrived around I-405, I pulled over and found a place to park.  I was running early and needed  to check my oil.  The oil looked good and I was still early, so I stopped at Starbucks about 15 minutes from her house and had a hot chocolate while I checked email.

I pulled up to her place right on time and within about 15 minutes, we were having breakfast at Denny's while we caught up on everything since 2013, the time I saw her last.  The conversation would continue over  Bluetooth  Sena headsets for hours.  The plan was for us to get on 405, cut over to 10, and pick up the PCH in Santa Monica.

The coast was nice and cool almost all the way to Solvang.  The heat jumped up to 90+ for the last 5 miles or so to Andersen's.  We stopped once to check out the ocean and stretch.  The Pacific ocean is huge and gorgeous.  Where we stopped, there were multi-million dollar homes below us.  It must be normal in these circumstances to wonder what the people that own these homes do for a living because we both asked the question at the same time.  When I looked at all that blue water, I found myself wondering how far out I can see and how much water all that amounts to.  It is vast.   The answer to the first question comes from howstuffworks.com:
SquareRoot(height above surface / 0.5736) = distance to horizon.
 For us, overlooking homes below us, I guesstimate we were about 100' above sea level.  That would put the horizon 57 miles away!  Seeing something that far out is impossible without magnification.  From an airplane, only 6 miles high, you can readily see land features, but not too much more.

One thing to remember about Andersen's is that their portions are enormous.  I got Danish Meatloaf and the portion might have choked an NFL linebacker.  Joy ordered the  Danish Style Danish Sausage - Medister Polse, and it was equally sized.  We both left plenty on our plates.  Sorry mom.

The conversation and company was excellent.  There was so much to catch up on.  We weren't watching the clock.  I suspect we spent about an hour there.  Outside, it was 94.7 degrees and we baked for the ride back to Santa Barbara, where the temperature dropped back down to something reasonable, like 70 something.  We were starting to get a little saddle sore along the way, so we stopped at an In-N-Out burger place for something to drink and to get off the bike for awhile.  I'd never eaten at the California staple In-N-Out, and I still never have.  We had an iced tea and a lemon-aid and jumped back on the bike.  Traffic was horrible, but moving.  We were splitting lanes for miles.  It was all the return traffic from the weekend we were mixed in.  It's the first time I split lanes while 2-up.  On a big bike, that doesn't make any difference, but, I suspect on a smaller bike, it would.  We arrived back at Joy's place at 6pm and said our goodbye's till next time and I was on my way home.

605 was an absolute nightmare.  Traffic was completely stopped for miles in both directions.  I think something happened on one of the overpasses.  I was splitting lanes for over a half an hour straight.  That's a lot of weaving and mirror dodging.  The rest of the ride home was really uneventful.

Here's the maps:



The map above is comprised of 795,004 unique latitude, longitude coordinates.  The actual number of coordinates in the file would be approaching 1.5 million at this point, but every once in a while I uniq the file to make it easier to load.  After my trip in August, my bet is that I won't be able to get that number under 1 million any more.