Sunday, August 24, 2008

Random Thoughts from the Yellow Brick Road

The yellow brick road is really a purple line in a Garmin 2610 and that is exactly what I did for 5704 miles. It is going to take me a while to sort through the 1500+ photos I took, and recollect the 61 National Parks in 13 states and 1 province and 101 INKs. With this trip I completed the IBA Master Travel Award ( see here ). While this is what I originally set out to accomplish, I have reaped much much more than that. I came, I saw, I experienced and I learned. This might be an addiction of the good kind. There are 391 national parks out there so there is so much more to see. (you should be able to click any photo and see if full size)

Before leaving, I contemplated whether or not, I would enjoy traveling alone for 16 days. I rationalized saying I should not be lonely because once you are on your bike you are essentially alone. It is only at those stops that you would miss talking about a sight you may have seen, a sensation you felt on the road, or a particular aroma you may have smelled. Conclusion, I just didn’t mine riding alone. I spoke with people at the stops like they were my long lost friends, spoke with the bar tenders at dinner (it is much cozier to sit at the bar versus a table for 4 by yourself), and the folks at the national parks are just some of the friendliest and most helpful people on earth.

It is a formiable task to update your blog with an overwhelming amount of information. Note to myself get a wireless card for laptop and make sure you stay in places with wireless. 2nd note to myself once you do that, will you really feel like writing or just chillin watchin the local news on TV. 3rd note to myself don't worry about the wireless NIC card.

Iowa has cornered the market on corn. There sure is a lot of it. They have soy beans as well.

The Yellow Brick Road connection. How could I have forgotten this pic.


The dirt in the midwest is black. Must account for why so much farming happens out there.

Riding in Illinois and Indiana is very very boring

St Louis Missouri is a very very busy city. It is has that old time dirty look of a very industrial city. The arches are truly amazing and they do appear to be a gateway to the west

The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial ceiling in St Louis is a work of art.

Gettin your kicks on Route 66 is still possible but the road has been replaced with the interstate system. Rt 66 was officially designated as irrelevant.

There a ton of windmills being erected in the mid west. You may have to click the second one to see all the windmills.

Once you hit Arkansas the roads South to North (the direction I was traveling) were made with a straight edge and do not vary more than an 1/8th of an inch over the 400+ miles to Omaha, Nebraska no matter what road you select. The roads don’t get remotely twisty again until you hit the Adirondacks in NY. Wisconsin might have roads with a few bends in on second thought.

Missouri names many of their roads AZ, ZZ, QA, which I can not figure out why and forgot to ask. They use numbered routes too, but a lot of the roads are lettered routes. I looked up Wikipedia and found the following link if you are interested.

The walk from the free parking lot at Fort Snelling is a much longer and harder walk than the park ranger at Science Museum in St Paul, MN indicated. It is at least a mile versus a football field in length and the small hill is not bad going down, but the mountain to go back up is a bitch.

Fort Scott, Kansas looks like an old wild west town I use to see on TV.

The state capital building in Des Moines, Iowa is an awesome building

I just like this picture it is on RT 62 just east of Tahlequah Oklahoma. It is also right around here that I figured out why the state of Kansas was a lighter shade of yellow than Missouri on the 2610. I had not loaded the detail maps west of Missouri into the unit. Now I know why I packed my laptop and a card reader. There are just some things more important than underwear. {g} It took quite awhile to load the detail maps into the unit at the motel that night.

The sand dunes in Michigan are huge

The sunset on Lake Michigan is every bit as good as the sunset in Key West

How could you not want to see this once in your life time. Better hurray since it is going the way of the Old Man in the Mountain and the Arches in Utah through nature's doing. Nope we aren't the ones destroying these.

It is easy to go fast on the roads in the Midwest. 90 mph is nothing.

I think the Great Lakes has as many if not more lighthouses than New England

When you tell a park ranger that you will find a place to stay in Ontonagon, Michigan and they smile at you, you might want to ask them why they smiled. They just might know something, but are being polite and don't want to ruin your plans.

This historic just makes you think of the Wild West. Yup this is the place where the riders took the mail west.

The least populated place I have been too. I think it might be the fastest growing or the fastest shrinking town in the US.


I might chase all the old US Routes after I have finished visiting all the National Parks, so I started taking pictures of them to document the ones I have been to.

P1020668 P1020695 P1020961

These guys are all over the place causing trouble.


I passed this sign and just had to turn around and see what this place was all about. Very effective advertising.


There some unbelievable water falls out there.



How could I not resist stopping for this.


For you car nuts out there, the Walter P Chrysler Museum is a great place. GM has a pitiful display of their heritage and Ford Museum is huge and I will return to Detroit. Observation, in Detroit there are many many new office building with huge parking lots. Many of the parking lots have only the front rows filled up with cars. A sign of the times in Detroit, but I am convinced Detroit will have a come back, but the Lions will still suck .

The GM Renaissance building is pretty impressive


My trip was international. I got my passport at the beginning of the season and I was just dying to use (so that I think I got some value out of the money I dropped) so I headed over the top of Lake Ontario to New York


Niagara Falls are impressive but...


the hydroelectric plant down stream is even more impressive. It controls the water over the falls, which can be shut off the falls if they want.


Outside of Buffalo I had trash for dinner and slop for breakfast. Trash was much better than slop, but slop is pretty good too.

This is trash


This is slop


And of course I found a diner, which served the slop


Last stop was Saratoga Springs, NY picking up the last of the INK


Stay tuned for more pictures of those special places that I visited


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beep Beep

As I was coming into Detroit or maybe it was St Joe, Missouri, never the less I was passed by 2 separate times by 2 wheeled fellow brethren. In one instance it was a Yami FJR1300 with Two Brothers Racing exhaust pipes. What made this particular rider more noticeable was he was wearing a Harley Davidson windbreaker, which I thought was out of character for the bike he was riding. Yes I will admit I am stereotyping on this issue, however my prejudice holds up on both sides. I wouldn’t expect a HD rider to be wearing a Yamaha racing leather jacket and thus the HD windbreaker was of equal imbalance. I twisted the throttle a bit up on the Connie to ride with my fellow tourer. He and I stayed together for a few miles before he turned off into a rest area. I must have worn him out.

The first time I was passed, [yeah this is out of order, but it is my blog and there is a connection here someplace with it being out of order], I saw this blip in my mirror and realized it was gaining on me at a very very veryyyyyy rapid pace. As it got closer, I saw those distinctive headlights of a Gold Wing. It got closer and close and closer, finally it was right on my rear. Varooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmmm past me [more like a swisshhhhh]. By god (not to use the name in vain so not capitalization) it was a scooter and the guy was wearing a green tee shirt. It was so fast that was all the data I gathered. Well not to be out done by a scoot, I throttled up jumping from 75 to 80 to 85 to 90 to 95. As I hit 95 I was still not making any headway on the scoot. It was becoming a distant blip like the one I saw from the rear. So far into this trip I have been lucky and not gotten a ticket and was damned if I was gonna get one trying to chase down a scooter, so I backed off. Actually I don’t think I would of caught him. My guess it was one of those Honda Silvewing.

As part of Chasin Stuff, I have begun collecting the double shot glasses (HD calls them Drambuie glasses) from each HD dealer I stop at. This began with Plourdes in Caribou, Maine. Well on the highway was sign for a HD dealer and INKin (National Park Stamps) was done for the day so off the highway. Low and behold there is the FJR sitting right next to the service door. [see I told you there was a connection] {well in my mind there is}. Out comes this fella and starts asking me questions about how I liked the Connie. He had owned one up to the time he got the FJR. It turns out he is the motorcycle instructor for the HD dealership. The windbreaker now has a connection. He then blurted out, “Did you see that scooter? I tried to catch him, but I just can’t afford another speeding ticket”. And that’s the rest of the story. Oh here's a song that is very apropos.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Zippidy Do Dah Zippity Eh

My oh my Ziplock bags make my day

Why do they box 17 zip bags into a box, why not an even number, or 15 of them. 17 just makes no sense. Is it really 15 and you are getting 2 free, is it because the competitor packs boxes them 15 to a box.

Now why am I using a big zip lock bag for all the stuff and put other stuff in ziplock bags in the big ziplock bag and then I put the big ziplock bag in a waterproof duffle, which is just another big plastic bag.

My knees don’t hurt this morning.

The secret too getting a TourMaster top half of the rain suit into a 1 gallon ziplock bag is to fold first to about the width of the bag and then roll the folded mass to slip into the bag.

I just put 18 fishoil pills in a bottle, why not 20, so maybe 17 makes sense.

I can't decide which ones of my designer T Shirts to take with me.. so many choices, so little space. Here's the ones that got selected, Garmin, Aero Diner, IB SS1000, Spotsvania NP, NER yellow.

I just packed the plastic box that goes in the top box. The second I pull something out of this box, the lid will not close again. Sigh

It looks like I won't be leaving at 6am, since it is 5:30 and I just spent 1/2 hour packing the little plastic box.

The last of Sky's bike pay-me-back fund is gone.

5:52am: The top box is packed and I am almost done with my 2nd cup of coffee.

I just called Sky to see if he needs a ride to work and he does. While I don't fear for my safety on the bike, this could be the last time I see him...boy thats a morbid thought on such a wonderful day.

In case you want to hear the song

The Morning of

my big trip has arrived. It's 3:30am, I am up, rested and definitely restless. The coffee is brewing over the campfire (the coffee is perking as it is plugged in), the cattle are rustling (the cars are beginning to drive up and down the street) and the sun has not gotten up yet. A quick check at tells me it is going to be a good start. I still need to pack clothes but all the electronic gadgets (phone chargers, SanDisk Micro chip, dual tail accessory extension, GPS wires) and important stuff are around the plastic box that they will go into, which gets neatly placed in the top box on the Connie is ready.

My itinerary has my departure from gate 3 at 7am, but as I sit here contemplating absolutely nothing, I just might leave at 6. I really can't leave earlier because my first INK stop has me arriving at 10:30. By quick calculation if the train A leaves the station 1 hour earlier traveling at whateva speed and Destination B is a stagnate location and Destination C which is thrown into the question being totally irrelevant to the total question confronting you, (those test question makers are an evil lot) I should arrive at Fort Stanwick at 9:30am. Any earlier they might not be open.

Yesterday (yeah I am jumping all over the sandbox, because I can) on the way home from work I stopped in at my local AT&T store to see if they had a device which would give me internet access while on the road. The sales person (it was a guy so I should of said salesman, but I am being PC right now) showed me a couple of PDA things. I looked at a Blackberry, Tilt and the infamous iPhone. Now being a PC guy, an accountant and has been IS guy, I always had an attitude (note when you say it that way you don't have to qualify "attitude" with positive or negative, because negative is implied in that context) about Apple's. Without a doubt the iPhone has the other beat hands down at my quick and thorough review of the products, so maybe this mean I might not vote Republican any more. I figured it might be a good thing to have on the trip for googlin stuff and accessing and other stuff. Now figure this out. If you get a Blackberry and want to IM someone, you have to have the data plan and the text plan, however if you use the iPhone and IM someone you only need the data plan. What's with that. Long story short, they didn't have any iPhones in stock, so I saved myself some money and the other just wouldn't do.

Here's a pic of my trip, by my calculations will use all 16 days of my vacation, cover 5,695 miles, stopping at 71 parks, capturing 130 INKS, using 135 gallons of gas, half way wearing out my new tires, and the smiles will be priceless.