Sunday, December 16, 2012


     I made it to Virginia after a long day of driving from Ohio.  I should have made it two days, but it was bitterly cold and camping didn't seem like a great idea.  I paid for my haste though, arriving in the DC area during rush-hours and well after sunset.  The drive probably wasn't that far but it felt like forever and left me totally frazzled.  I planned to spend a few days there and visit some museums but I was so done in by the drive that I couldn't quite deal with the mass of people.  Promising to return, I headed south to friendlier surroundings.
My kind of crowd....
      A few days in the mountains did wonders for me.  I spent time riding the dirt and paved roads around the tiny village of Brandywine, West Virginia, in the George Washington Nat'l Forest.  It was still cold, but not as bad.  Plus I could inhale deeply without feeling like I had to compete for oxygen.

Same spot, looking the other way.
    I spent several days playing in the mud puddles, then loaded the dirty bike back in van and headed to a spot where the pavement was more accessible.

One of the better roads.  Scenery was a combination of "the leaves are gone I can see the view!" and "spooky."

To and from the campsite, I drove 2-3 miles of this "road."  Vanna White wouldn't talk to me for days afterwards.
Camera mounted to the handlebar.  It's a work in progress....
Looks great but temps were in the upper 30s.  

Warmer day but the roads wouldn't dry out.  The bike looks great without the fender but I pay for it with a dirty bike, dirty helmet, dirty jacket....  I had to clean the taillight multiple times to keep it visible.  
       I stayed several days with my good friend Robert, but eventually, the temps here in Charlottesville got too wintery for me, the days in the 30s were outnumbering the days in the 40s and 50s.  Time to head south a little more.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

 So much big stuff has happened since the last update!  No, nothing crazy like a job or a relationship (get real!).  Other big stuff.

I finally got to see the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit.  Great place, and not simply a car museum, like you might expect.  They had a bit of everything.  The furniture section was impressive, as were the motors.  Not motors from cars, these were the first engines ever made, giant, multi-story behemoths that powered cities or pumped water from mines.  Too big to photograph.  Check it out for yourself.  It's worth the trip.  

I toured the museum with Frankie, who you may remember from earlier blog posts.  He's the team director for the racing team I worked with.  It was great to see him again and as a bonus, I got to hang out with his family.  
That's Frankie checking out the chair Lincoln was killed in.

Railroad snowplow.  Frankie leaned on it and it rolled 4 feet!!

Then it was over to Grand Rapids to spend a weekend with Jeff and Catrina.   I wish I could have spent stayed longer, its always a good time since I became the "favorite uncle."  


Fieros Forever, outside of Midland, Michigan.  

Then off to Bay City, my former-adapted-hometown.  I got to have Thanksgiving dinner with some great people, the type who make you feel like family even though they met you just minutes earlier.  

Also, without even being arrested I managed to get a thorough tour of the Bay County Jail, and then spent part of a night-shift on patrol with one of the deputies.  It was a great time and I wish I could say more about what we did and show pictures of stuff, but they frowned on the pictures.  Suffice to say, it was a great time and many thanks to the people that made it possible.

Days like this make me think I should have headed south a month ago...

And as if going to jail wasn't excitement enough, My buddy Paul and I volunteered for a shift in a retail store on Black Friday!  We stood in for the owner of Jack's Bike Shop for a short 5-hour shift.  Another adventure that had the potential for disaster but instead was both a good deed and a great day.

Paul behind the counter.
Me, assembling bikes. 
Finally leaving Michigan behind me (till the next time), I made a quick stop in Ohio that turned into a day off.  Being retired is tougher than you think (no its not) and it's important to know when to take a day off.  I read some papers, worked on crossword puzzles, sat in a hot tub, played with the dogs...  It was a great, relaxing day.

I get partial credit for assisting with the construction of two gingerbread houses.  

Peppermint Patty flavored (and sized) birthday cake.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Idaho to Michigan

From Idaho, my next stop was in South Dakota.  Along the way I had a humorous de-ja-vu moment.  I was in Wyoming, pulled up to the left turn lane at a stop-light, and while waiting for a green it struck me that the combination of street and sidewalk and vacant lots and shady businesses looked very familiar.  That in itself did not bother me, it happens all the time.  But as I made my left turn it occurred to me where I’d been that made this place seem so familiar.  It was that exact place, 4 months earlier.  I had walked through that intersection on my way to dinner after checking into a motel and parking the bicycle for the day, back in June.  
Craters of the Moon, Idaho.  
Wyoming, elevation 9000 feet.

     On to Spearfish, SD.  I’d been meaning to get out there since retirement began, but let’s face it, it’s not really near anything.   That shouldn’t stop you from seeing the Black Hills.  Very spectacular country, and well worth the detour to see.  Maybe even better when the weather is more hospitable.  Niece Donna took me on several beautiful hikes in the area

Hiking in South Dakota was fun but the weather convinced me that I should be moving on.  I made it to Milwaukee in three days when I had planned on two.  I thought I could spend two nights there and see most of the people I wanted to see, then drive to Michigan by noon.  Reason prevailed and I spent one night in Milwaukee, saw only a fraction of the people I wanted to.  The drive to Michigan was only 120 miles but most of that was through Chicago and it took me 3 weeks.  Well, it seemed like three weeks.  It was more like 7 hours.  I got to the home of my friend James at about 7 PM, exhausted, unable to follow directions from the GPS…  It was a long tough drive.  

Then Friday morning, the reason for all my hurrying.  I finally got to pick up the new bike.  It’s a bike I wanted since they first came out (they were sold out when I tried to get one) and I bought this one on ebay without seeing it, without testing it… sent a check for the full amount and asked the seller to store it for me for 6 weeks.  Andy was great for every step of the way and when I picked up the bike it was clean and the battery was charged and the world is a great place.

The Corn Palace.  I always thought it was a museum, but it's not.
From there I headed north to Traverse City to see some friends in a mountain bike race.  As if to remind me that it’s too late in the year for me to be this far north, it snowed.  And yet I linger…

I’ve been camping in the Manistee National Forest and wishing it was just forty degrees warmer.  I’d even be happy if it was just forty degrees.  But I have friends to see here and I’m tired of hurrying to get somewhere.  So I put up with the weather.  As I write this the forecast calls for temps in the 60s (good!) and thunderstorms (bad!).  As soon as the rain clears, the temps go back to the 30s.  Oh well.  It still beats working.

Monday, October 22, 2012

After a long break in Washington and a too-short visit to Orlando to see Jordan and Ashley get married (congratulations!!), I’m back on the road.  Just a couple days so far but it didn’t take long for me to get back in to my grove, back to my comfort zone.  

        Good news at last:

Bruneau Canyon.  Worth the trip.
 I stopped outside of Mountain Home, Idaho.  On the recommendation of some folks I met in June, I was on my way to see Bruneau Canyon.  I drove the van till the road got too rough for my comfort.  Then I pulled off and unloaded the motorcycle.  Within minutes I was motoring on down the road.  Bruneau Canyon was amazing, as you can see from the pictures.  I highly recommend it, but if you go, be warned.  It is a jeep trail to get there.  Not an easy jeep trail either.  It was a tough jeep trail.  After riding the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route, 600 mile of dirt road, I would still call the 10 miles out to Bruneau Canyon a tough trail.  So now you have a reason to go buy a jeep.

 Ten miles of this "road."  Loved it.

From there I headed to the town of Prairie, Idaho.  You might remember, back in June, I went through there on the bicycle trip and got snowed in.  It was such a great, welcoming place back then, it had to be on my list for a return visit.  And once again I feel right at home here.  And once again there is snow in the forecast.  I had hoped to spend a couple days riding the motorcycle around the mountains but my arrival is a bit late and a lot of the Forest Service roads are closed for the season.  Well, it’s a good reason to put the Boise National Forest back on the list of places to visit.  In the summer.

Forest fires were out but still smelled of smoke.  

At 8000 feet above sea-level, the puddle showed no signs of thawing.

From Prairie, I'm continuing east.  Updates to follow as interesting things happen.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Olympic Mountains

I’m not on the road yet, but that doesn’t mean I’ve just been sitting around doing nothing.  At least, not all the time.  There has been plenty of time spent doing nothing, but there have been some minor adventures as well.

Inspired by the time spent on the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route, I took another motorcycle trip.   Different bike, different direction.  Similar theme.  Here’s a couple pictures from my three-day excursion around the Olympic mountain range.  

Next week I hope to do a lap of Mt. Rainier.   Google maps says it’s about 190 miles.  It could be done in one day, but it doesn’t need to be done in one day and the weather is still great for camping.

Also, coming soon: Picked up one like this on ebay and can't wait to get to Michigan to pick it up!