Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hit by a truck.

As always, clicking on a picture will take you to the online album where you can look at larger versions of the photo.  Also, comments are very welcome.  Suggested destinations, comments about the photography, etc...

Two days riding and I am still in Arizona. 


From Mesa to Tuba City



From Mesa to Tuba City

Monday I made it to the National Forest just north of Flagstaff, AZ. I camped in an area that appeared to have seen some campers in the past, though it was short of a designated camp site. The sun was down by 7:30 and shortly after that it was quite dark. Then the bugling began. If you have never heard the mating call from the bull Elk, it is quite a sound. Click the link below, find the "listen" button, close your eyes, and imagine hearing that while you are alone in a dark woods.

http://wild.enature.com/ringtones/elk-bugling

Tuesday I was in Valle, AZ, looking for some breakfast. I had a nice conversation with two guys from Chicago who had ridden to Arizona on their Harley Davidsons. Crazy. Who would do such a thing?

After breakfast I stopped at a Cheveron to get gas. After fueling up, I went in to the store. I was heading for the door when a guy walked by me, not to me, and said "someone just hit your bike." "What?!" I replied. "Some guy just backed in to your motorcycle." A glance at the pumps where I'd left the bike told me nothing, since the was the view was blocked. I ran outside, and could see the bike standing on the centerstand next to the pump.


From Mesa to Tuba City

It took me a second to realize something was wrong. The bike was facing away from the pump. I had left it alongside the pump. A silver Dodge Durango was slowly moving into a nearby parking space. The driver emerged looking greasy, creepy, and timid. Together we looked over the motorcycle but there was no apparent damage. More careful review showed that the Durango had suffered a small dent, visible in the picture where it says Dodge. Greasy-timid guy was not in any mood for chit-chat and since I could find nothing wrong with the motorcycle, we said our good bys. Amazing, hit by a truck and not damaged.


From Mesa to Tuba City

This building in Valle, AZ, is a hardware store.  Can you guess the name?  That's right, Valle Hardware.


From Mesa to Tuba City
I took in the sights at another aircraft museum, and then headed for the Grand Canyon. Seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time was breath-taking. The pictures don't do it justice. For a while, I stopped at every scenic overlook, but then I started to suffer from scenic-view-overload.

A General Motors airplane.  Very small inside, four very cramped seats.

From Mesa to Tuba City



From Mesa to Tuba City

Obligatory Grand Canyone photo:


From Mesa to Tuba City

Hiking the Grand Canyon is not for wimps.


From Mesa to Tuba City

Worst road ever.  And it was a dead end, contrary to my map, so I had to ride it twice.


From Mesa to Tuba City



From Mesa to Tuba City

More to follow.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hanging out in Mesa, AZ

I'm in Mesa, AZ, spending some time with Mom. 

I did a little cooking the other night with pretty good success. 

From Washington to Arizona


And I've watched a few sunsets...

From Washington to Arizona


From Washington to Arizona


Monday I'll be hitting the road again, heading back to Gig Harbor to get my van before continuing the trek.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gig Harbor, WA, to Mesa, AZ.

After just less than a week, I left Seattle heading to Mesa AZ. My route was staying as close as I could to a straight line between Gig Harbor, Washington, and Mesa Arizona. Along the way I camped in several different campgrounds, traveled along main roads, back roads, one road had a gate every couple miles. Signs on the gates made it clear that you were expected to close the gate behind you. For miles, I worried that the road would be a dead end. Instead, it turned out to be a very nice road/driveway that crossed over a mountian. Pictures I took could not do justice to the views and scenery.


From Washington to Arizona


From Washington to Arizona


From Washington to Arizona

I stayed in several campgrounds on my way south. One campsite was in the Prescott National Forest. It was not a campground, just a clearing off a dirt road off the gravel road that was the main road in the forest. There was no moon that night, no city lights, no street lights, no lights. But the stars were so bright I could almost walk around without a flashlight.


These pictures are from Oregon. A jeep trail took me to the top of Steens Mountain, elevation: 9500 feet above sea level.

From Washington to Arizona


From Washington to Arizona


From Washington to Arizona


From Washington to Arizona


From Washington to Arizona

Self portrait in northern Arizona.

From Washington to Arizona

The next morning, heading to Prescott for some breakfast, I experienced one of those magic moments when everything is just right. The air was cool and crisp and clean, the road was smooth and flowing, the bike was just purring along. The picture I took does not reflect the perfectness of that morning. It was another one of those moments that remind me that retirement is better than work.


From Washington to Arizona


From Washington to Arizona

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Farewell Merrill.

Merrill Hapke, 1915-2009. Rest in Peace.

From Merrill

From Merill

From Merill

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Idaho and Washington

(click on any photo so see a larger version)

I have arrived in Gig Harbor, Washington, for a bit of much needed maintenance. Here are a few final thoughts.

Remember, if a bear sticks his head into your tent at night, he's only looking for food. Unfortunately, you qualify as food.

From Montana, Idaho, Washington


Prong Horned Antelope

From Montana, Idaho, Washington


Big Horned Sheep refusing to pose.

From Montana, Idaho, Washington


John Deer.

From Montana, Idaho, Washington


Flowers for Belinda

From Montana, Idaho, Washington

From Montana, Idaho, Washington


This is the model used for the Buffalo nickel.
From Montana, Idaho, Washington


In Montana, for the benefit of the tourists, the street signs come with english sub-titles.
From Montana, Idaho, Washington

From Montana, Idaho, Washington


Insert your own punchline here:
From Montana, Idaho, Washington


Buying gas in rural Montana
From Montana, Idaho, Washington


The road goes on forever...
From Montana, Idaho, Washington


On the boat in Washington.
From Montana, Idaho, Washington


Oh, the bear. Did I fool you? The bear was stuffed in a museum, not in my tent. Shaky camera and close-up shot....

For now, this seems like a good idea.
From Montana, Idaho, Washington

Montana and Idaho

(as always, click on the pictures for a larger image)
After the great plains of North Dakota, Montana is always a welcome change. Eventually. But first there is two more days of great plans, in Montana. I stayed in a hotel in Malta, blaming the heat. From there, I was able to camp in Fort Benton, a very cool and historic town. I camped at the fairgrounds and got a nice hot shower and a nearly deserted campground for $10.

Moonrise over the river.

From Montana, Idaho, Washington


In the morning, while searching for breakfast, I found my way into the Montana Farming Museum. I was most interested in the early farm machinery, but there was much more to it than just that.

From Montana, Idaho, Washington


From there, I went to Seely Lake (Swan Vally). Many businesses were named Seely/Swan _____, and I felt quite welcome. For breakfast, I stopped at a restuarant that had no cars out front despite a big "Open!" sign. Inside, I got the distinct impression that they were not open. The lady I talked to said, no, they were not open. "The sign on the front porch said closed" she said. I thought, if you are going to have two signs, at least have them say the same thing. Later, I saw the fine print under the "Open" sign. 11-6. D'oh!
From Seely Lake I took a dirt road for 30 miles or so. The road went through an area of forest that had burnned over two years ago. It was still nothing but grass and dead trees, as you can see in the pictures below.

From Montana, Idaho, Washington

From Montana, Idaho, Washington


My route then took me into Idaho. I had hoped to hook up with a friend from the eastward leg, but he was on the road doing trade shows, so I was on my own. I stopped at the Riley Campground. Though the campground was full (Labor Day weekend), the campground manager let me put my tent in his spare parking place. It pays to travel light!

From Montana, Idaho, Washington

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Crossing the great plains

I'm writing from a hotel in Montana as I continue my trek west. Here are a couple of thoughts from along the way.

The days of rain I dealt with in Canada came to an end in Minnesota and with the help of a high-powered fan I was able to dry everything in a hotel room.

In Grand Forks, North Dakota, I stopped at Bob's Cycle Service to change the oil in the Ducati. After telling Bob I needed an oil change, he directed me to the back of the store, handed me a drain pain and asked what tools I would need. If only all shops were like that!

After Grand Forks, I checked out a couple different camp site options before choosing the Fordville Dam Campground ("Best Dam Campground in Fordville" is not their moto). This great campground offered showers and views of the river and despite the weather being great and it being a Saturday night, was nearly deserted. That night the coyotes were howling. I sat at a campfire with the campground managers and joined them for breakfast in the morning. Best camping of the trip. Thanks LeRoy and Jo!

I visited the International Peace Gardens located Middleofnowhere, North Dakota. I'm not sure I would recommend it. I was disappointed at the $10 entrance fee. The Canadian side was little more than a 3 mile paved road in the woods. The un-announced surprise was that you don't need a passport to get to the gardens, but you need one to get out of them, since the entrance is between the U.S. and Canadian checkpoints. I had mine with me.

From there I went to Rugby, ND, the geographic center of North America. I can now say I have been left, right, and center. Top and bottom next, I guess.
From Deluth to Montana


There I met Arden who was traveling from Washington to Fargo to visit friends. Then he'll go home. Here is a picture of his rig:
From Deluth to Montana


Fields of sunflowers...
From Deluth to Montana


At times the road is scattered with little grasshoppers. These guys would be okay if they just sat still, but they don't.
From Online Edits

The hop to get away from you at the last second, often jumping directly in your path. As a result, the bumpers of the vehicles around here are plastered with grasshopper guts. Except I don't have bumpers. I catch them with my feet...
From Deluth to Montana


Rebar Bison
From Deluth to Montana


The road goes on forever. In the distance, the road goes over a small rise, and you go for 30 minutes waiting to see what is over that rise. And it looks like this every time...
From Deluth to Montana