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Yellowstone Wrap-up 2016

Time: 10 days

Distance: 4922 miles

So much amazing riding, but missed opportunities to visit friends.  Normally my road trips are a mix of scenic riding and visiting folks that I do not see any other time; on this trip I was focused on the riding and missed some opportunities to visit people.

The Vision

On my first long road trip, I was worried about everything from where I would stay to running out of gas.  At the time, I had plenty of riding on the Kingpin, so that was one aspect that was not a concern.

Since the Vision is new and focused on touring, a big focus was how it would perform: it was amazing.  I’m really happy with the tweaks I have done and the one thing remaining is to do something about the grips: the Kingpin had comfort grips, but changing the Vision grips would mean losing the heating elements.  Still trying to find the right solution.

Destinations

Yellowstone was amazing, but my favorite part was riding US-14 thru Bighorn National Forest.

I originally planed to turn south leaving Yellowstone, but because I started late and took longer to cover the distance, I had to drop that part of the trip.  Even though I returned home a day early, that extra day would not be enough to include a southwest loop.

Looking back on the trip, there are several things I could have done differently, particularly visiting friends, but was just not where my head was at during the ride.  Even with the missed opportunities, this was an amazing trip.  I’ve been home for three days and would be ready to start another trip tomorrow, but have to go back normal life, at least for a little while.

Visuals

 

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2016 in Slideshow, Touring, Vacation

 

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Road to Home

Day 7: 447 miles (to Rapid City, SD)

Even though it was all interstate riding, this was still an enjoyable day.  I met a number of other bikers at rest stops and realized I am on the younger side of the motorcycle touring demographic.

Day 8: 518 miles (to Albert Lea, MN)

I’ve become somewhat frustrated with online hotel reservations (I’ve been using Priceline).  It seems that about 1 in 5 nights, there’s a problem: no room available or wrong type of room (smoking vs non-smoking).  I’ve heard similar stories from other people, especially people on road trips.

I’m not sure where the fault lies – with the hotels or the online service, probably some of both – but the uncertainty causes stress I do not need when I’m on vacation.  I suspect the services are better for traditional vacations, scheduled well in advanced and with fixed destination.

For the end of this trip, I used the Motel 6 app, which worked well.  In the future, I’ll probably continue to use that app or locate hotels with Google and call the front desk to schedule a room.

Day 9: 528 miles (to South Bend IN)

One unexpected bonus on my ride home was the Enterprise Rest Area.  I pulled over for a quick stop, expecting basic, hopefully clean, facilities, but what I found as basically a small and beautiful park.

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Day 10: 677 miles (to Abington, PA)

This was the longest ride of the entire trip – I normally try to keep riding days in the 400 to 600 mile range, but stopping 77 miles from home just didn’t make much sense.  At least the second half was all PA Turnpike; I driven this road so many times, it feels like home the first time I pull into a service plaza.

It was almost midnight when I arrived home.  I was exhausted it, but it was a great trip.

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Posted by on July 2, 2016 in Motorcycle, Touring, Vacation

 

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Back on the Road

Last year was quite busy with precious little riding (thus the lack of posts), but this year will be different: I am planning a three week road trip, departing around August 9th and returning home by September 1st (max. 24 days on the road).  The only question is Where to go?

Option 1 – Northwest to Glacier National Park

I have been talking about visiting Glacier National Park, and riding the Sun Road, for a few years so maybe it is finally time.  If I took this route, I could also visit Yellowstone since it is relatively close (close takes on a slightly different meaning out west).  When I originally considered this trip, I figured on hitting the American Victory Rally in Spirit Lake, but sadly it is canceled this year.

There would also be the possibility of stopping to see friends in Detroit, Illinois and maybe Montana, many of whom I rarely see.  (Sadly, I will not make it to Pennsic this year.)  On the downside, it will be 5 heavy riding days – 2,300 miles – each way, not counting detours and visits.  The other consideration is the weather, which could be anything and can change at any time; even now, some of the camping areas in Glacier are still closed and will not be clear of snow until June 13th.

Option 2 – Southwest to Monument Valley

Back to my favorite destination, and why not?  I could hit Monument Valley & Antelope Canyon, both of which had to be skipped on previous trips.  On the way out, I could hook a bit north to visit folks in Detroit & Illinois – this would add a hundred or so miles to the trip, but would also keep me far away from Missouri and that is a good thing.  (Sorry to any who live there & like it, but it has always been misery for me.)   On the way back east, I would come thru my future home town, Albuquerque, to see Jane & friends, and stop in Houston to spend time with the Doss family.  I could also revive the plans from 2012 to see my brother in North Carolina and visit with many friends in various parts of Virginia.

Overall, the focus would be on visiting as many friends as possible.  This would be slightly less distance than the Northwest option – minimum 2,100 miles to the most westward point – and have many more social occasions along the way.

Option 3 – North to Oak Island

A friend recently suggested riding up the east coast thru Maine, at which point I immediately thought of continuing on to Oak Island.  I originally learned about Oak Island via In Search Of, and, more recently, was obsessed with The Curse of Oak Island.

I have been on a ride as far as Connecticut, and visited Boston numerous times (by car), but Maine would be a completely new experience.  In addition, there are many folks in Boston I would love to see.  This would also be a relatively short trip – only 847 miles to Oak Island – so I could hit some other areas.  Possibly pick up the Virginia and North Carolina portion of Option 2.

Decisions, Decisions

Option 1 – amazing sights to see, but lots empty road to cover and weather concerns.

Option 2 – familiar, but also my favorite part of the country.  (Is it odd to say a 2,100 mile ride is familiar?)  Also, many, many friends to see.

Option 3 – most likely breaks down into multiple rides, never getting too far from home, but new areas to explore and plenty of visiting with friends.

I am currently leaning toward Option 2, but Option 3 definitely warrants more investigation.  It is unclear when I will make the decision (possibly in the driveway on August 9th) but I should probably get my passport renewed, just in case.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2014 in Blog, Motorcycle

 

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Long Ride 2012 Wrap Up

Route

Statistics

19 days
15 states, visiting 2 for the first time (Arkansas & Kentucky)
Starting Odometer: 16,413
Ending Odometer: 22,491
Rain Storms: too many to count
Friends & Good Times: also too many to count

Special Thanks

  • Jane for a great weekend in Albuquerque (and introducing me to my future home town)
  • Trumbauer’s for getting the Kingpin ready for the trip at the last minute, as always.  It ran like a dream.
  • Kristen for good times in Houston
  • Dan & Sam for rides to / from Trumbauer’s.
  • Everyone who sent encouragement & travel tips, so I never feel like I’m riding alone.

Most Memorable Moments

Moving Map Slideshow

Music by Boogaboo.  See the video here.  Buy it here.

Pictures
Nice Day to RideIowaIowaStorms near Hays, KSRaccoon TanKansasOpen RoadOpen RoadSugar CitySugar CityRookies in SightWolf PassThru the RookiesRoad to Wolf PassWolf PassWolf PassWolf PassWolf PassWolf PassOne of these things is not like the othersRoad to PageRoad to PageRoad to PageRoad to Page

Long Ride 2012, a set on Flickr.
 
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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in Motorcycle, Slideshow, Touring

 

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Last Leg

I’ve ridden between Columbus and home many times, but there were two important differences on my previous rides: it was summer and the ride started before noon.

When I’m on vacation, I almost never set an alarm, but generally wake up at a reasonable time.  This Wednesday, for some unknown reason, I didn’t wake up until after 11 AM and didn’t get on the road until almost noon.

I reached the PA turnpike very late in the afternoon and the temperature was dropping rapidly.  The line of storms, which I had spent so much time avoiding, was the leading edge of a cold front, so I had dressed for chilly riding: Grand Canyon sweatshirt, riding jacket & gloves.

As night fell, I was still in central PA, almost 3 hours from home.  The problem with riding in the cold is that it is can be quite draining and I could feel myself getting drowsy.  I could have ridden for another hour or so, but it was clear I wasn’t going to make it home that night, so it didn’t make sense to continue riding.  Central PA is a rural area, but I was able to find a room in Chambersburg.

The extra stop created a real problem as I had used up all my extra time for this trip and was supposed to be back at work Thursday morning.  As soon as I got to my room, I emailed the office to let them know I would be a day late.

My company, MEI, is generally understanding about my road trips and allows me flexibility on the schedule.  They are so amazing that in 2008, they let me ride cross country as part of a business trip.   On this occasion, however, arriving late was a problem as my boss would be on vacation the following week; I needed to meet with him on Thursday to get updates and prepare to act as his backup.

It was critical that I get to the office as early as possible so I set the alarm, got on the road at a reasonable time, kept my stops to a bare minimum and went directly to the office, rather than going home.  I arrived a little after 1 PM which allowed me enough time to take care of business.

Even though this has been a great trip, I have never been this far off schedule.  My plan contained 3 slack days (including the decompression day) and, at the half way point, I was expecting to be home Monday evening and back at work on Wednesday (a day early).  Avoiding the weather, cost me about 1.5 days, but the rest of the time was spent at various locations and with friends.  The plan for my road trips tends to be vague so I can make changes on the fly, but in the future, I’ll have to keep closer track of the time remaining and how far I am from home.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Motorcycle, Touring

 

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The Road Home

I arrived in Nashville late Sunday afternoon, checked into the hotel, then drove around town a bit.  I think I need to come back to Nashville with friends and more time to go out & about.  Ultimately it ended up being just a stop along the road to Geoff’s place in Morrisville, NC.

Watching the weather last night and again this morning, it was clear there was some nasty weather in the area.  My trip to Geoff’s house would take me close to coast, then I would travel home via I-95 on Tuesday.  The problem with this plan was the line of thunderstorms between me and Geoff; this was further aggravated by the forecast for Tuesday: thunderstorms, heavy rain, high winds & damaging hail, along the I-95 corridor.

Though it was disappointing, I decided it didn’t make sense to continue to Geoff’s place in Morrisville.  To make matters worse, this is the second year in a row I’ve planned to visit my brother and had to abort.

Choosing a new path, I momentarily considered heading back to Albuquerque, but that was just wishful thinking: I’m planning to move to Albuquerque in the near future, but need to make many arrangements before that can happen.  I decided the best path was to head north, and a little bit west, to break thru the storm front and find some dryer weather.  It was a soggy ride with steady light rain, interrupted by some heavy downpours.  By the time I reached Illinois, I had cleared most of the weather.

Riding in the rain isn’t too bad if you are prepared, but there are a couple of annoying points: bathroom breaks take a while as you have to remove most of the gear; all the plastic gear gets that sticky damp feeling.  Even though my gear worked, I’m still going to look around and see if I can find something better for future road trips.

Tomorrow, while the east coast is getting the heavy weather, I’ll be riding I-70 into Ohio.  It may be a bit chilly and I’ll have to be careful not to drive back into the storms which are moving east ahead of me.

Today’s detour will cost me my decompression day: at the end of a long trip, I like to have a day at home to get back into the swing of things before going back to work.  I had planned to get home on Tuesday night, but my arrival has been postponed until Wednesday afternoon.  Even though I will need to be at work the next morning, it’s still better than riding thru a massive storm.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2012 in Motorcycle, Touring

 

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Leaving Houston

I had great time in Houston, visiting with Kristen and family, highlighted by taking Grayson & Caroline for rides around the block.


Everyone else in the house had to get up early on Friday for school or work, but they let me sleep in.  When I got downstairs, my things all packed up and ready to go, I found this touching farewell.

My next destination was Nashville, which would be a 2 day ride.  I’ve never ridden thru this part of the country and this would be my first visit to Arkansas.

Approaching Arkansas, weather radar showed scattered showers, but they looked small, and rain gear seemed unnecessary.  It turned out the storms were small, each one taking only a few minutes to ride thru.  What I didn’t account for was the amount of water coming down: in just a couple minutes of rain, I was soaked clear thru.

When I stopped to dry out, I discovered serious thunderstorms over Little Rock.  After misjudging the previous storms, I decided to stop a little early and stayed that night in Hope, AR.

I woke the next morning to scattered showers across Arkansas, a head full of congestion and a bit of headache.  I took some cold med’s, donned my rain gear and headed out.

The rain wasn’t bad, drizzle to light rain, which never lasted long.  The fog in my head was much worse.  Most cold medications effect me strongly, so the one I had taken was quite mild; as a result, it didn’t really help.

As I approached Tennessee, I realized I needed to stop and decided to stay the night in West Memphis.

When I was planning this trip, I chose to visit Nashville based on recommendation of my friend Michelle.  Since I stopped so early today, it will be a short ride tomorrow which should leave me the afternoon to walk around and check out the town.  The only potential problem is, once again, the weather.  The forecast for tomorrow is scattered showers in the afternoon.  If it’s really nasty, I may just ride thru, but hopefully I’ll get a break.

One final note: the fog in my head not only prevents riding, it also makes blogging difficult; this entry required more edits than I can count.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2012 in Motorcycle, Touring

 

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