For every new beginning, there is an old beginning's end......at least that's what I hear. I'm amazed at how rapidly a year has gone by and how rapidly the trip has approached. I'm again embarking on the 2nd annual Gardner motorcycle trip. Last year's trip (to a wedding in Minnesota and to Sturgis) was an absolute blast. Not only was it a trip of known origin and destination, but it was also a trip of soul searching and breaking in my motorcycle. Well, I've searched my soul, not much new there, I've broken in the bike (6,000+ miles and several scratches), I know my origin, but the destination is as yet unknown. In a matter of 19 hours the folks and I will be departing the Everett homestead on a trek to places, sights, and sounds unknown. We're heading South, that much is for sure, we'll be traversing the North rim of the Grand Canyon, that's a general plan, but other than that, hot temps, twisty roads, no Winnebago's. Simple task right? We have 10 days to figure it out. 10 glorious days of nothing but riding bikes and chasing women (hey, it was Mom's idea) !!
But alas, I have 19 hours to wait. That's 4 more hours at the day job, 6 hours at the night job, 2 meals, 5 hours of sleep, and 4 hours to prep the bike. Oh yeah, that's right, I still haven't prepared for the trip. I still need to pack: 2 pairs of socks, the jeans I'm wearing, 3 shirts, no underwear (it's just more laundry for someone), a book and a toothbrush. I think I can fit it all nicely on the bike. Of course, I also need the laptop and the digital camera. After all, bikers of today aren't quite what they used to be. I will be traveling with my trusty Harley Davidson Bandana (every boy has a dream).
So I'm happy I'm working tonight and I'm not happy I'm working tonight. It's a good thing: cash in my pocket, flirt with pretty ladies, keep me sober (no hangover to start my trip). It's a bad thing: up 'til 3 am, on my feet all night after a hellish week at the day job, flirt with pretty ladies (no wait, that was a good thing right?).
But just to start the trip off on a happy note, and to supply myself and everyone around me with good omens (no Beau, not the kind of omens that I'll be seeing Elvis), I'm going to leave off with an excerpt from last year's trip. For those of you who were privy to the trials, tribulations, and titillations of last year's motorcycle extravaganza, you will recall this excerpt simply as "Day 13, The Bee"
It's 8:45 am. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the day has begun. But not for me. I'm not a pretty sight. My alarm clock will be going off in 1 minute. I've been tossing and turning for 20 minutes now dreading this awful, awful moment. For not only is the alarm a signal that I need to get out of bed at such a ridiculous hour, it also indicates that I got less than 3 hours of sleep. I turned the alarm on at 5:46 this morning as I was crawling into bed. Late night up packing? Hardly. Fell asleep on the couch and am just now moving to bed? Not so much. Up all night at an after-hours party? Right on!! Now, some may say that this is not the most wise of decisions on the eve of a 10 day motorcycle trip, but I oppose such a notion. As of 2:38 am, I was officially on vacation and an all night party is just what I needed. Am I tired? Yes. Am I hating life? Yes. Do I regret partying all night? Never. Would I make the same choice again? Absolutely. To all of you on this list with whom I partied last night (and you know who you are), it was a blast and we will have to do it again very soon. Just remember, what happens at the bar stays at the bar.
But I'm on the road in due time.
At the Everett Homestead for some last minute preparations. Trim the beard (#3 guard), cut the hair (#2 guard), scrub the grommet (120 grit), and we're off to the rodeo! And how do we start the trip? Why, with a kartwheel of course. This year's trip has a definite theme: "Kartwheels Across America". Yes, that's right, yours truly will be doing kartwheels everywhere the mood strikes. Digital camera in hand (thanks DJ), mom at the controls, we capture the first. In the driveway shortly before takeoff. (Thanks for the site and technical advice Preacher)
For as long as I can remember, every vacation involving motorcycles has started in the rain. Don't know why, just happens that way. Today, mild deviation from the accepted norm. Sunny skies, nice fluffy clouds, day looks great. Tired as can be but the adrenaline is pumping and I'm ready to ride. It's South on I-5, steady as she goes:
Finally, civilization is gone. We're down to a 2 lane road, no other cars, no noise of the city, just us and a forest. We're into Rainier National Park. Man is this great, everything the trip was meant to be. Gone is my perpetual need to speed on the bike (we don't have a destination, just a path). The speed limits are slow, but the road is nice and twisty. Pure bliss.
Dam!! Dam!! No really, I mean it, Dam!! Look, off to your right, it's a Dam!! There's some river here, don't know which one, and someone dammed it, don't know who, and then named it, don't know what. But it's cool none the less.
Road sign: "OBSERVE But do not approach or feed the wildlife". The first thing that comes to mind is that they're referring to me. I know I have a wild life, and the Rangers here must talk to the Rangers at Ocean City. I think everyone knows about the tank commander goggles. Be wise, heed the signs, observe, but do not approach or feed.
Any wild ass, crazy ideas I once had about doing the RAMROD race (Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day) have been fully vanquished. There's no way in hell. Now, I love a good hill climb as much as the next guy, but we're 7 miles up a consistent climb. Come to find out later, this particular hill goes on for a steady 13 miles. How do I celebrate my RAMROD revelation? Why, with a kartwheel in front of Mt. Rainier of course.
Mint. Large fields of mint. It's a crop you know. And apparently someone in Washington grows it. By the acres. It's quite pungent. Not necessarily good, but not necessarily bad.
Fruit stands! Everywhere! Fruit Stands!
Orchards! Everywhere! Orchards! That would then explain the abundance of fruit stands. I made the correlation myself. My momma didn't raise no dummy!
Man I need a beer. Not quite sure why, but I REALLY need a beer. Oh yeah, now I remember, it's because I'm driving through hundreds of acres of hops fields. Man what a sight. I can't believe how these vines grow. It's like they're weeds. What an impressive sight. The hops literally blanket the countryside. And man does it smell good.
Not much else the rest of the day. No incidents. Nothing outrageously exciting. No Elvis spottings. Staying in the fabulous city of Walla Walla tonight (which, as all of you know, is host to an execution at 12:01am Wednesday morning). Hopefully we'll be able to swing by the penitentiary tomorrow for a quick glimpse and a picture of.......wait......wait.....guess?......that's right, a Kartwheel!!
Miles Today: 362
Total Miles: 362
Not so good on a great night of rest. That mattress was not the best in the world. But it doesn't matter. It's a beautiful day outside. Quite lovely. Fine day for a motorcycle ride. Which is terribly convenient because we don't really have a choice at this point.
I am such an idiot. Completely stupid. I've been following signs towards Clarkston and Lewiston for some 80 odd miles now. And I've also been following the Lewis and Clark trail. Now, this whole time, I've had a Monkey's song stuck in my head: "Take the last train to Clarksville and I'll meet you at the station".....now, I know I'm headed towards Clarkston, not Clarksville, but that's what's going through my head. But it just now finally dawned on me that I'm driving towards "Lewis"ton and "Clark"ston. I am such an idiot.
Yipes!! It's a T-Rex!!
Yipes!! It's a Shark!!
Yipes!! It's an Alligator!!
Yipes!! It's me doing a Kartwheel!!
I know I'm in Idaho. It's painfully obvious. Yet I missed the "Welcome to Idaho" sign. This is really discouraging. This was a theme last year, missing state lines, but I thought I could rectify that this year. Apparently not. But I'm not alone, Mom missed it too.
World's Largest St. Bernard. That's right, we're driving by it at 67 MPH. Don't really care though. It could be a funny picture. Me. A dog. A kartwheel. But it's not really worth it.
Something in Idaho stinks. Not quite sure what it is. But it stinks. I notice it while we're sitting down to lunch. I think it might be the 'rents. I tell them to go shower in the river, this is the best they could do.
Mountain Time. I see the sign!! I'm so happy!! Although, I did just lose an entire hour of my life. Just a second ago it was 1:14, now it's 2:14. I've been robbed!! I check my wallet, it's still there. I check my belongings, they're still there. I check my watch, someone stole an hour! I don't know what to do.......
Having nothing better to think about, I wonder what I would do if I had to make a choice between travelling North to a really cold place, or South to a really hot place. And I'm talking extremes. If someone asked me "North Pole or Equator", which would I choose? So I started weighing my options. I'm kind of hot, so I don't want to go somewhere any hotter. But I don't like the cold. I like the water, so the Equator would be cool. But I also like the snow, so the North Pole would be cool. So then, maybe one's closer than the other? By looking at the azimuth of the Sun, I try to calculate roughly where I am. Of course, I don't have a sextant, and I'm travelling 71 MPH, so it's kind of tough to calculate it out right now. Maybe I'll ponder this choice again in a few miles.
Oh my gosh!! I'm at the 45th parallel. This whole North Pole/Equator thing is bunk! I can't make the decision based on distance. Can't you see the sign? I'm halfway between the two!! Only one thing to do now.......a Kartwheel!!
Moo. Moo. Moo moo moo moo moo. Moo. Of course, thanks to Pete, we all know this isn't possible. Yes, cows are possible. But not "moo". Pete has proven to us that cows can't moo. They can't pronounce vowels. Cows are all about the consonants. They really go mmmmmMMMMMMmm. So, without further ado: mmMMMm. mmmMMMMm. mmmmmMMMMMMmm.
Gas stop. Dad puts 6.03 gallons in his 6.00 gallon tank. Maybe he's filling the float bowls as well? Close call......
"Real Good". A sign by the roadside. "Real Good". That's it. "Real Good". Brenda, I think it's an omen.
Close to our final destination for the night. Heading towards Mountain Home. I am curious though. I look to the left and 40 miles off in the distance I see mountains. I look to the right and 80 miles off in the distance I see mountains. I look behind me and 30 miles off in the distance I see mountains. I look ahead and I see no mountains. Very odd. I'm headed to Mountain Home, but there are no mountains. This is why I do not live in Idaho. It confuses me.
Miles Today: 427
Total Miles: 789
Not a bad night's sleep. Feeling pretty good this morning. We couldn't get the AC in the room working very well, but it was okay. Sweated all night, but nothing new there either. Headed off to Salt Lake City. Off to see some Mormon chicks. Maybe I'll have a Mary sighting today. If I can hook up with the right people at the Salt Palace, dinner's on RadioFrame.
Train. Off to the right. Man I love trains. I can't explain my fascination but it runs so deep. There it is, hundreds of tons of steel, hurtling down the track at 52 MPH. What an impressive sight. Can you imagine the horsepower it takes to get that much mass in motion? Simply a beautiful sight. Speaking of trains, think about that track. Someone laid that sucker dozens of years ago and designed it to handle nothing like what's cruising on it now. The track is just as impressive as the train. And the width of the track. Pretty interesting huh? If I recall correctly, it's 4' 8" (although it could be 6"). I may come back to this later.....
"OCCASIONAL BLINDING DUST STORMS NEXT 25 MILES" I can't say as though this is a sign I particularly relish seeing. But they're right. It's windy here. How windy you ask? Well, let me calculate it out for you. Assume the bike and I have a combined mass of 750 lbs. My calibrated eyeball tells me I'm leaning at 4.7 degrees to the starboard. Given this angle, I am applying a force of 61.5 lbs sideways. Since I know I'm not turning (and I'm obviously not falling over) that would mean that the wind is supplying an equal force in the opposite direction. If I recall my Bernoulli's equation correctly, this velocity head is equivalent to a 26 MPH wind. And I think I recall this correctly because I just looked up the equation on the internet. Yes, even though I have my PE license, all it says is that I know where to look up equations, not that I know them off the top of my head. But the equation is what I recalled. I tried to calculate this while under way, but I was a little off. My major error was that I assumed that the sin of 4.7 degrees (0.0820 radians) was 0.082 (recalling that the sin of a small angle is the angle). Well, in fact, the sin of 4.7 degrees is 0.0819. So you can see where my math went wrong on this one. At 750 lbs, this error caused my sideways force to be off by 0.075 lbs. See where shortcuts get me in life?
We enter the smallest city we've travelled through yet. Malta, ID. Population: 171. Oooooh. Mile 171, population 171, spooky.......
In Utah? I don't know. The state border is (was?) around here somewhere. I missed it. No big surprise.
Rolled 1000 miles for the trip so far. Damn this is fun. This is so exactly what I needed in life right now. The world is beautiful.
Oooooooh. More spooky......We're crossing over I-84 on our way to Snowville. On the freeway below us, directly under us as we cross the bridge, is a truck. A gray Dodge pickup. Full size. With a cap. Towing a dual axle camper. Why is this spooky? 30 some odd miles ago I was driving adjacent to this guy. We're on Highway 30. A nice twisty road that meanders to and fro. Occasionally, it comes near (or crosses) I-84. The last time I saw I-84, it was about 50 feet off to my left. But like I said, that was 30 or so miles ago. This pickup and I are headed in the same direction. On different roads. We've travelled different distances. Yet here we are. The same place. The same time. Too spooky.
Ouch! Dammit! Ouch! Something hit me. In the face. In the little open spot between the top of my sunglasses and the top of the opening in my helmet. We're talking a height of less than 0.5 inches. A total area of less than 6 square inches. I'm hit! I don't know what it was. But it was painful. I put my finger up to the spot to see if I can feel anything (remember I have my summer riding gloves on). It comes away all wet. I wipe it off, feel up there again, it's all wet. Lots of fluid here. The only thing I can think is that it was a rock and I'm cut. I can't tell the color of the liquid, so I can't be sure, but it looks dark (yes, my gloves are black). I know I'm stopping in about 7 miles for a scenic view. I'll wait until then to figure out what it was that hit me.
Screw this. I can't wait. The pain is too excrutiating. My eye is watering like crazy. The pain is so pinpoint and intense I can't concentrate on riding. I pull over to the side of the road, the 'rents next to me. Yard off the helmet, off with the glasses, peel off the bandana, ditch the gloves. Not sure I want to look at it. Ask Mom what she sees. Her respone? "It's still there !!" What's there? That's right boys and girls. Here, on Highway 30, in a state of over 82,000 square miles, with a population of over 2 million people, some little piss ant bee finds me. This does not bode well. I wipe him off my face (after many unsuccessful attempts). I find the stinger. For now he's gone. Six square inches!!!!! How did he find me? Or better yet, how did I find him? Well, it's a mistake he won't repeat. It cost him his life. Pop some oral Benadryl. Apply some topical Benadryl. Time to move on.
Rockets !! Whodda thunk. Out here in the middle of nowhere, we find rockets. It seems as though this is where they build 'em. Well, only one thing to do. But this is more than just a neat sight, it's also an education for each and every one of you. The big rocket you see in the background of the first picture is an RSRM . This is what they use on the space shuttle. And here's where your education begins. Ever wonder how they move this huge rocket from Utah to Florida? No? You're not alone. Not that you care, but they traverse it by rail. That's right. They load it on a railcar and haul it down to Kennedy Space center. Those fabulous design engineers responsible for this wonderful piece of science knew this mode of transportation as a limitation. Rail is the only way to get this sucker from here to there. Knowing that a railroad is 4' 8" wide, and knowing that tunnels aren't much wider than the track, the engineers knew that they could only make the rocket so big in diameter. But whay are rails so close together? Well, that's the way the first ones were built. But again, why so narrow? The people who built the original railroads laid the track in existing ruts in the ground. But where did the existing ruts come from? From carriages of course. Horse drawn carriages. Some hundred or so years ago, the gauge of a track was determined by the preexisting ruts in the road. But who decided how wide carriage wheels were? The horses did. When you place two horses side by side and draw a carriage behind them, the natural width of the carraige is somewhere around 4.5 feet. Why not narrower? The horses asses were too big. So, 2 horses asses determined the width of the carriage, which made the ruts in the road, which is where the track got laid, which then became a standard, which traversed through tunnels, which determined the size of a railcar, which determined the maximum width of the RSRM for the space shuttle. Go figure. A horses ass determined the major factor in the most technological piece of machinery this world has produced. Never underestimate the horse.
Temple Square. Lots of cuties. Who can't love a city where there's hundreds of cute 19 and 20 year old girls running around? And their on a mission. No. Wait. They're missionaires. I was close. DJ, I tried to fulfill my camera requirements. 14 times. Total, utter, complete failure. I tried to invite some of these cute girls out for a drink later. I can never be Mormon. What's this no alcohol policy? Thank God (literally) I'm Catholic. If I didn't drink, I'd be required by the church to feel guilty about it. I'd have to do pennance for not drinking.
Have you seen the Mormon Temple?
Have you seen the Mormon Tabernacle?
And in typical Jason fashion, while at Temple Square, I dropped some kids off at the pool.
This bee sting is really getting to me. Most of the day it was just a throbbing ache. Well, it has progressed. It's swelling. Despite my repeated topical and oral applications of Benadryl, it's growing. I can't fully open my eye. And it's got a leak. My eye is running quite profusely as we cruise at 117 feet per second.
Riding at night is pretty cool. The miles seem go by soooo much faster. Without a point of reference, you can't tell how far you've gone. It's usually farther than you thought. 10 miles seems to take only 5 minutes. And there's so much sky to see. Out in the middle of nowhere you can see everything the sky has to offer. All its brilliance is clear. There's no smog in the way. No pollution. No lights from the city to detract from the brightness. Spectacular.
And then there's a shooting star. Off to my 2 o'clock. Wow. It's a long one. I count off a little over 4 seconds. Think about it. That's a long time. One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Four Mississippi. That's a long shooting star. I have confirmation. Mom saw it as well. What a spectacular way to end the night.
Miles Today: 425
Total Miles: 1214
Okay. Not so much on the Beehive State (that would be Utah). The good news? The pain from the bee sting has diminished significantly. The bad news? See for yourself. There will be no bandana wearing today. I can barely fit my head into the helmet as is. The most unfortunate part of this? My left eye is my good eye. But it's not functioning too well this morning. Things are a little blurry. So everything on my right that I try to look at is really fuzzy. I'm swollen so much that my left eye has no peripheral vision to the right. Scott, I can almost (but not quite) sympathize with you. Time to start OD'ing on the Benadryl.
Oh yeah, and no local dial-in numbers to send Day 3 to everyone. Those jerks at MSN.
4 rain drops. I counted them. That's how many hit me. No more, no less. So it's not raining. We all know the rule. Seven drops on one brick and you can call it rain. Anything less doesn't count. Thankfully this doesn't count. I'd hate to have to ride in the rain.
Man what a spectacular day. Everything seems right. The helmet's a little snug, but that's easily forgotten. We've been riding for several hours and it's been perfect. Great roads, no other vehicles, light cloud cover (so it's not so hot), twisties. This is exactly why we're here. We have destinations today, but it's all about the road getting there right now. Life is grand.
And we get to see lots of lightening and thunderstorms. We're headed East on Highway 12 towards Bryce National Park. In front of us: dark clouds and lightening. To our left: dark clouds and lightening. To our right: dark clouds and lightening. Behind us: dark clouds and lightening. Above us: the clearest blue sky we'll see all day. What an absolutely gorgeous sight. I'd like it to last all day.
Here we are. Bryce National Park. Ever heard of Bryce Mountain? Neither have I. Know why? Because Bryce is a canyon. Don't believe me? Here, see for yourself. Told ya so. I simply can't convey how immense and awe inspiring this canyon is. We can walk right up to the edge of a 1500' drop. And we do. But we don't jump.
Having lunch with some new found friends.
We've climbed some pretty good elevation over the last 20 miles. We're up around 8500' now. So high in fact, that all those dark clouds we saw earlier? We're in them. It's raining. What to do?
Quoth the Raven never more
Some serious wind now. We're heading back East on Highway 12. There's only one road in and out of Bryce. So now we're backtracking. But the wind is ferocious. Steady at 8.4 degrees lean angle. Gusts up to 11.7 degrees lean angle. Corresponds to 35 MPH and 41 MPH respectively. Pretty good wind huh?
As you can tell by now, I got a little picture happy today. But there wasn't really much else going on. It was just a spectacular day. No complaints at all. The swelling, the rain, the wind.....whatever!! I'm having a great time and I wouldn't change it for the world.
But alas, we must depart these canyons in search of others.
Found 'em!! More canyons that is. Zion National Park. We're only 60 miles from Bryce, but the rock is totally different. That and our perspective. At Bryce, we did nothing but look down. At Zion, we do nothing but look up. Yup. That's right. We're at the very bottom of the canyon. This particular rock is about 1800 feet high. This park is absolutely breathtaking. And the coolest thing about it? A 1 mile long tunnel right through one of the rocks on our descent to the bottom. Over 5300 feet long. Someone blasted a hole through solid rock for more than 5300 feet. Holy cow. A round of applause for these guys.
Dark now. Quite black out. Low cloud cover everywhere. Cruising down a twisty two lane road with no illumination save our headlights. Well, no illumination kind of. There's a lightening storm going on about 3 miles to the South. What a sight. Lights up the entire sky. Reflects off the clouds. It's so close you can hear the clap before the rumble. Wow !!!
Today's Miles: 319
Total Miles: 1533
Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day. For those of you who are all too familiar with my IBS and RLS, they're kicking in full swing right now. I am definitely NOT sleeping the sleep of the just. And how loopy was I last night? I went back and looked at the log for day 4 and I must have been smokin' crack !! It seems as though I had a handful of words and just randomly speckled them on the page. I didn't finish some of the thoughts I started, I didn't start some of the thoughts I finished, and then there were random thoughts that didn't start or finish.
For instance: I totally forget to mention the HooDoos. I linked one picture, but didn't really go into any depth about it. The only reason I wanted to mention it explicitly is because its perhaps the coolest geological feature of the trip. Here, see for yourself. But what the heck is it? A hoodoo in general, and this one specifically. If you want to know what hoodoos are in general, go look it up somewhere. Any guesses as to what the heck this one is? The park rangers say "it looks like a hunter". We don't get it. Doesn't look like a hunter to us. Looks kind of something out of the Kama Sutra. Not that I'd know anything about the Kama Sutra !! (Remember, what happens on your boss' desk stays on your boss' desk)
What a shame we rolled into Hurricane, Utah in the dark last night. Looking at the area now, it would have been one hell of a ride. In the pitch blackness you can't tell what's hills, trees, plains, or mountains. Well, we descended into a canyon that rests at about 6762 feet (I'm lying, I made that number up, but we're fairly low).
Time: 8:40 am MST (no daylight savings time here folks)
Dry Bulb Temperature: 74 F
Wet Bulb Temperature: 43 F
Barometric Pressure: 751 mm Hg
Visibility: 187 miles
Winds: WNW 7 knots
Elevation: 4500 feet (and climbing)
Can anyone tell me the relative humidity based on the above information? Anyone? Let me help, use the two temperatures.......Anyone?
Okay, another hint, use a psychrometric chart: http://www.techtrol.com/gif/Psydew.JPG
Anyone? That's RIGHT !! It's a dry 22% today
We're climbing. Up about 800' above the town. Man is this road nice. Switchbacks that allow you a complete view of Hurricane. Talk about "make-out point"....there must be 20 good spots up here. This could be a great day.
And Benadryl is my friend. The swelling has gone down by a good 85% and there's no more pain!!
Goodbye Beehive State (and you pesky bees)
Hello Sunny AZ
Cruising through the Kaibob National Forest. Nothing but Jim Croce and (seemingly) endless miles of 45 MPH sweeping turns. We climb up to 8,000 feet, over a mountain, and descend back down to 5,000 feet. This is perfect!!
I just noticed something. The windshield on my fairing is still clean. Usually by the time we hit 200 miles you can't see through all the dead bugs (bees, butterflies, moths, flies, etc...), yet it's amazingly clear. Aha!! Arizona must not have flying insects. Why? BECAUSE IT'S TOO DAMNED HOT!!! Yeah, it's a little warm out today. Easily 100F in the shade (and there's no shade around, we're driving through Arizona desert). Complaints? None here. Sure it's warm. But it's not cold. It's not wet. No bees trying to kill me. No wild animals running across the street. No complaints to be found. The perfect day! We stop at several scenic view points, but there's no use in taking a picture. If I could take a 253 degree panoramic, I'd still be failing to capture the beauty of the land. It's absolutely majestic out here. Unparalleled. It even beats the nekkid boobies in Sturgis last year. It's that good.
We have arrived at today's destination . I still can't capture with words the serene setting that surrounds us. It's stupefying. Yes it's a word, I looked it up.
El Canyon Grande (or as Mom like's to call it: The Grand Canyon)
What more can I say? Oh yeah, I thought of it now, stats for the big canyon:
Location: we're on the South Rim (think South Rim)
Length: 277 miles (think Portland to the Canadian border)
Width: 10 miles (think 10 miles or so)
Depth: 1,000 - 2,500' (think Sear's Tower in Chicago)
Water: Lots (think A River Runs Through It)
Yeah, LOTS of water. The river depth (this would be the Colorado river) averages 75 feet. It's 300+ feet in some places. That's some water. And you can walk right up to the edge. You can walk over the edge. You can jump if you'd like. Or you can hike down. To go down one Rim and up the other is about 24 miles. Neat-O !!
How many of you can name Santa's 8 reindeer other than Rudolph? I've spent 14 miles on this so far. I'm not going to tell you why I started thinking about this or how it came up, so please don't ask. But here's what came to mind:
(Yes, I really do think in alphabetical order) It's Vixen that leaves me troubled. Sure, it rhymes with Blitzen, and it fits that catchy tune that you're now singing in your head (which will be there the rest of the day thanks to me; ha ha ha), but there's something about a reindeer named Vixen that just doesn't seem like it should be part of a children's song. I mean sure, Santa was a Commie back in the '50s, but Vixen? Sounds more like a $5/night hooker to me. Not that I'd know anything about $5/night hookers!! (Remember, what happens at the Best Western stays at the Best Western)
Oh well, it's not like reindeer names are incredibly important at this point. It's kept me occupied for awhile. And it's not like some mugger is going to come up to me and say "If you can name Santa's 8 reindeer I won't steal your money". So it's not even valuable information. But it seems like something I should know. I'm all about useless trivia. Whatever.
The roads are still grand. Whisping along at 103 feet per second (a hair over 70 MPH). Taking corners like they were meant to be taken. Toes touching the ground we're leaned over so far. Passing cars left and right (okay, we're only passing on the left). Glorious day.
A perfect day to preceed tomorrow: Getting our kicks on Route 66 as we head towards Las Vegas !!!!!
Today's Miles: 316
Total Miles: 1849
Some drama last night. It seems as thought there was a break-in a the old Super 8. Someone cut the screen on our motel room window. They must have seen the light or heard us in the room because they moved on. But only to the next room over. They cut the screen, then tore the whole frame off the window. Busted the outer pane of glass. Busted the inner pane of glass. Unlatched the lock, slid open the window, snagged some dude's wallet, and off to the rodeo!! Being the helpful folk that we are, Mom and I are junior detectives to the rescue!! We think some crime scene photographs are a must. I'm sure the local police will be calling us in to aid in the investigation.
Route 66. Gettin' our kicks.
Nothing to watch but the bald eagles. And there's plenty of them. Just circling on the thermals above our heads. Swaying in the breeze. Lots of 'em. I count 27 total on today's ride. Man, they're everywhere. The only unbelievable part? We don't get crapped on. Are these bald eagles of blind eagles? I've never known a bird to have bad aim when it came to excreting on us humanoids. I guess I should feel lucky, nobody pooped on me today.
Kingman, Nevada. Anyone recognize the name? No? It's where Timothy McVeigh lived (post service) while he planned a little outing the nation likes to refer to as the "Oklahoma City Bombing". I didn't see a billboard when I entered the city announcing it was the adopted home of little Timmy, which kind of surprised me, but I guess they have prouder things to tout.
I have lost all functionality of Portabel Electronic Devices. Yes indeed. Here in the hot desert, CD players and such don't function to well in the heat. Now, we all know that these devices are certified to function properly in conditions up to 40C (104F) with a humidity as low as 10%. So we're a little warmer than that at the moment. But the player is in the direct sun, so the shade temperature is probably only about 98F this time of day. This is now day 4 of 6 that the temperature rose to the point where PEDs failed due to excessive temperatures. But a look to the bright side, they're not failing because it's below 0 !!
No music is actually working out all right. As we roll through mile 2000 for the trip all is right with the world. This is actually the most peaceful stretch of road we've been on. We're headed North on 93 towards Vegas. We have a decent tail wind which almost totally diminishes the noise of the wind rushing by your helmet. Wind noise is the loudest thing you hear on a motorcycle. The sound of the engine and of the tires pales in comparison. When you take away the noise of the wind, all you hear is relative silence. So we're cruising at 65 MPH down a nice, flat, straight stretch of road, no other vehicles in sight, no wind noise, no music, with bald eagles floating overhead. Damn what a nice day.
So I'm changing from the right lane to the left lane to overcome slower traffic. There's somebody pulling a trailer in front of me that's not going as fast as I am and I'm going to go around him. But there's a semi on my left. As it just so happens, the semi is going fast enough and he's in the right position that I can maintain my 65 MPH, not touch the throttle, and swerve in behind him in just enough time to not hit the trailer in front of me. And a funny thing happens. As I swing in behind the semi I slip right into his draft. I'm in a dead spot behind him where the air coming off his trailer has not closed in and I no longer have a 65MPH head wind. In fact, I have virtually no head wind. Being that I haven't touched the throttle, I start to speed up. Significantly. I shoot all the way up to 77 MPH before I have to dump the throttle lock so I don't hit the semi. Quite a boost in speed for not having given the bike any more gas. So being the dork that I am, I must know how much gas I'm wasting on overcoming head wind. Be prepared, this could get lengthy and boring:
I'm sure everyone knows that most gasoline powered engines are between 30 and 40% efficient. This means that of the energy the gasoline is giving off during combustion, you're only using 30% of it to do useful work. The rest is wasted away somewhere. Where does it go? I'm so glad you asked. We all know that the maximum Carnot efficiency of a cycle (which is what a gasoline engine is, a Carnot cycle) is dependant upon the upper and lower temperatures of the cycle. The lower temperature is that of the incoming fluids (the air and the gas) which in this case will be assumed to be 100F. The upper temperature is that of the outgoing fluids (the byproducts of combustion: carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, water vaper, various nitrogen gases, and all kinds of other minute impurities) which we will assume to be 350F. From this, the absolute maximum efficiency possible out of any Carnot engine (much less just my little motorcycle) can not be greater than 71.43%. But if an actual engine is only roughly 35% efficient, where does all the extra work go? Again, I'm glad you asked. The first place is a fabulous little thing we refer to as friction. As I try to move forward, the road tries to impede through grabbing my tires. There's some. Heat is given off by the engine. There's some more. And then there's the pesky head wind. The faster I go, the more the head wind tries to stop me. As we learned on Day 3, the wind has a velocity head associated with it. Moving wind carries energy. As I move into the wind, the wind tries to stop me even if it's standing still. It's all about relative velocities at this point. As the wind comes to a stop against me, that velocity head is converted to a force termed the stagnation pressure. This stagnation pressure, applied over a given area (referred to as frontal area, or the actual square footage of projected area perpendicular to the wind) results in a force. This force retards forward motion. As I saw today, when I removed the wind (and it's stagnation pressure) from my path, I increased me relative velocity by over 18%. Assuming 77 MPH was my terminal velocity and that I didn't dump the throttle lock, that means that the wind alone (even though the wind wasn't moving, I was) accounted for 15.6% of my loss of efficiency. Damn that wind. Can you imagine the gas mileage you would get if there was no atmosphere? Forget about the fact that there'd be no air to breathe and that you wouldn't have combustion, you'd be getting great mileage!!
Dam!! I've been thinking about Carnot efficiencies for 30 miles now. Dam!! The only reason I stopped thinking about it is to say Dam!! No, I mean it, look off to the right, it's a Dam!! Some dork named Hoover (yeah, he was the 31st president, whatever......Hoover's still a dorky name) conned somebody into naming a chunk of cement after him. WooHoo!! I'm sure it's an impressive dam. I'm sure people boast of its size. I'm sure people are awestruck by its appearance. But having seen the Grand Coulee Dam, this just isn't up to snuff. Oh yeah, and I'm leaving Arizona.
DJ!! Look!! I caught some flashers on film!! Did you see 'em? They're on top of the police car!! The pretty blue and red flashers!!
Entering Nevada. Oh my gosh, is this what the 'rents have been looking at for 2000+ miles?
Entering PDT zone. Hey wait! This isn't right. I just left MST and entered PDT. They're the same time!! I got screwed. When I went from PDT to MDT somewhere in Idaho/Utah, I lost an hour of my life. An hour that I could have used. An hour that I thought I'd get back. But here I am going from MST to PDT and I don't get that hour back. Arizona robbed my of my hour. I know I didn't repeat it. You'd think I'd remember repeating an hour of my life. Somewhere, not quite sure where, I travelled from MDT to MST. But nodoby notified me. Nobody said, "Hey Jason, here's the hour of you life back that we stole from you earlier". I got jipped.
Any why are all these event occuring so far apart? The Dam, leaving Arizona, entering Nevada, and the time zone thing should all be coincident. They should occur at the same place. Not spread out over multiple miles. Somebody needs to figure out who owns the 2 miles between Arizona and Nevada. There's some prime real estate there. Rumor has it somebody built a little Dam on that real estate.
Hello. My name is Jason. I'm a drunk. And this week, not a very good one. It's been 112 hours and 18 minutes since my last drink. I'm ashamed. My liver hates me. My kidneys are in denial. I don't know how I continue to function. But here in the desert, in 100+ degree weather (it hit a high of 104F today) having sweated my ass off all day, no libation sounds quite so refreshind as a cold beer. Thank goodness I'm in the city of sinners and can get a beer anytime day or night. The sound she makes when you pop the cap (no cheap twist off beer here folks). The sweet refreshing sound as she fills a frosty mug. The delightful scent of the hops as you bring the glass to your lips. The cool touch of the foam against the tip of your nose. The rush you feel as the sweet nectar of the Gods pours past your lips, over your gums, along your tongue, on it's pleasant journey to points below. No need to stop the flow to swallow, the throat is cocked and locked in the full on open position. Nothing to restrict the fluid of the Heavens from rushing towards your tummy. Oh what a refreshing moment. But don't stop now. Don't stay in the belly. Continue. Onward young libation, for your journey has just begun. Skip the intermediate steps, find the liver. Please oh please find the liver. Waste not your time, for time is a precious thing and there's drinking to be done. Ahhhhhh. There we are. The liver has had a taste that is has longed for for so long now. Satiated? No. Tided over for a moment? Perhaps. Hungry for more? Oh my yes.
WOAH!!! Am I dehydrated. When was the last time you could feel the effects of half a beer? Before you can even get to the bottom? I know I'm empty on fluids now......only one cure for that: Must drink more!!
Today's Miles: 232
Total Miles: 2081
Leaving Las Vegas.
Arriving Reno. Yup. That was it for the day. I caught all the highlights. Don't believe me? Just look. Pretty much the whole way. This is actually a fairly scenic moment compared to some. But that's all that happened.
I mean, sure it got too hot for Portable Electronic Devices. And sure my nipples got hard at mile 314 when I thought we'd ride through some cooling rain. But I didn't think you'd care about the first one and I'm sure you didn't want to know about the second one.
Today's Miles: 462
Total Miles: 2543
Not too much happening in Reno last night. No drama to speak of. 3 days left of the vacation and it's time to start thinking about heading home. We have had some conceptive plans, but it's time to actually firm them up and decide what we want to do. We pick destinations for tonight and tomorrow night, and plan the trip all the way home. Of course, this is always weather dependant, but we think we're going to Klamath Falls tonight and The Dalles tomorrow night. Should be some nice roads between here and there.
I'm goin' back to Cali, Cali, Cali. I'm goin' back to Cali, hmm, I don't think so. I wouldn't know California if it came up and bit me on the bum. Apparently I'm in it now, but I missed the sign (typical, I know). Not too terribly disappointing. Come to find out later, I was actually looking at a trio of motorcycles passing us when I missed the sign.
Oh yeah. Toes dragging on the ground. Long sweeping right handers. Long sweeping left handers. Doing 67 in a 55 around 40 MPH recommended turns. We're climbing about 1700 feet on this short stretch of road. It's just a teaser though. An enticer really. A preview of what's to come. We're going to be going over Mt. Lassen. There we will encounter a 4500+ foot climb and a decent to match. The road's so curvy it can't be displayed properly on the state map. But that's later. For now it's all about the climb we're on. No one in front of us, no one behind us, no oncoming traffic. Beautiful forests either side. Couldn't be better (okay, we could be doing 75 instead of 67....)
The lovely little town of Westwood. Home of Paul Bunyon and his ox Babe don't ya know. Quite the little place. Unfortunately, I blink as we pass through town and miss 80% percent of it. I don't think we even had to slow down the place is so small. And I thought Paul cut down all the trees? That cant' be. There's nothing but dense forest here. Oh well. Where are those twisty roads I dream of?
Here they are. Entering Lassen Volcanic National Park. No time to stop for a kartwheel now, there's twisties ahead. And boy are they beautiful.
Knuckle whitening, knee dragging fun. 15 MPH turns and we're doing the max posted 35. This is awesome. This is what the entire trip needed to be. So glad Dad decided to detour us through the park. This is phenomenal. And even more? Jim Croce is again crooning in my ear. You must listen to appreciate. I can't believe how many miles of this there are. Up, down, up, down, left, right, oooooooh my!!
After 31 miles of windy, twisty roads, it's time to bid adieu to the park. Being in a total state of bliss, nothing would be better to mark the occasion than a kartwheel
The last 100 miles has been a blur. The euphoric state from the windy park road is still fresh in the mind. Every turn, every lean, every toe drag is still a vivid memory. I'm still in awe that there could be 31 continuous miles of perfect road. But here we are now in some little city in Cali. Perhaps we'll stop and enjoy some Weed at Mt. Shasta
And yes, I did spot this state border all by myself (a first of the trip I believe !!)
And now, onto lovely Klamath Falls.....
Today's Miles: 368
Total Miles: 2911
Finally, a full night's sleep. I actually got upwards of a little over 9 hours last night. I even feel asleep before the 'rents! But it's off to greener and colder pastures today. On the way North. Heading back home.
Man, I hate getting gas in Oregon. There's some damned state law or something that says you can't pump your own gas. Some silly little 15 year gas jockey has to come out and man the pump for you. I'll be damned if I'm letting some zit faced punk scratch my tank and spill gas everywhere just so he can have a job. As it just so happens, this gas station doesn't make him do that. He just has to punch in a code to activate the pump ("3333" enter, if anyone is curious) and I'm free to do what I need.
Bugs. Everywhere. Bugs. In Pearrygin, I refer to them as shade bugs. They're tiny little critters. Smaller than skeeters (that would be Washington skeeters, not Minnesota skeeters). And they're everywhere. I hit my first swarm of them going around a shady corner. Barely saw them coming. Thankfully I ducked in time (I would have gotten a mouthful if I wasn't careful). I thought there must be thousands of them. And there were. Then I rounded the corner and my jaw dropped agape. More than thousands. More than tens of thousands. Quite into the hundreds of thousands. You could see them swarming. Now remember, these guys are really small. And I'm doing 60 MPH. So to actually be able to see a swarm, there has to be thousands bunched together. And they all moved as a group. Kind of like fish in a school, they all turn and move at the same time. And I can see dozens of swarms. Mostly on the side of the road, above bushes. But there are plenty in the road. We actually drive through 10 miles of these things. We're skirting the edge of Upper Lake Klamath and apparently that's where these guys like to hang out. There had to be literally millions of these bugs flying around. Absolutely amazing the shear volume we encounter. That guy at the hotel this morning is making a lot more sense. When we were getting on the bikes this morning, he made some comment to the effect of "So, did you guys hit any of our Klamath bugs yet?". We didn't know what the hell he was talking about. We chuckled, rolled our eyes, and replied "Yeah, a couple". We thought maybe he was referring to all the little yellow moths last night (that looked like miniature butterflies) that we saw rolling into town. Now we understand what he meant. We hit thousands of them. Literally. There are so many of them they start coating the windscreen and headlights. Just look. Look closely at the bottom of the headlight. That dark strip is hundreds of dead bugs. To get a coating like this usually takes about 1200 to 1600 miles of driving, Many hours of which must be at dusk or dawn, to get a coating like this. We do it in just under 10 miles. But we come out of it okay. I didn't ingest a single bug. None in the mouth. None up the nose. None in the ears. I am thankful.
Entering Crater Lake National Park and looking at Mt. Mazama. No time for a kartwheel, there are dozens of miles of canyon roads waiting to be carved by yours truly.
We do stop along the way to take some pictures. Quite an amazing lake really. Some 1900+ feet deep. Bluest water I've seen in years.
Hit 3,000 miles for the trip. Nothing spectacular happening, but thought I'd share.
Ba Bye Crater Lake. Smell ya later. Some 48 miles of good roads. Not great like Lassen, but good. Hey, how can I complain about 40+ miles of twisty curvy roads?
These damned gas stations. Thankfully this is the last one we'll be stopping at in this state. This station is a little more strict. The young punk runs over when I pull up, has to know what grade, has to know what payment type. But that's not enough. He needs to physically run my card through the pump. That's right. I can't "Insert and quickly remove" the card myself. Someone's tax dollars need him to do it for me. He then has to pick up the nozzle, select the grade, and only then is he allowed to hand the nozzle to me. Thanfully he doesn't actually try to pump it for me. But my goodness, is this really necessary? Are there so many unskilled workers in this state that I'm not allowed to pump my own gas? So much for our neighbors to the South.
I roll 10k miles on the bike. Not 10k on the odometer. I've now put 10k of my own miles on the bike. Bought it at 7,400, I now read 17,400. I don't think any of you care, but this is a story about me, so you're going to read about what I care about. (And I'll tell you what your opinions are later if you'd like......)
Roll into lovely The Dalles, Oregon. Quite the cutie at the hotel. Elizabeth. My oh my. That's about all the town of The Dalles has going for it.
Today's Miles: 312
Total Miles: 3223
Well, here we are starting off on our last day. I'm not certain that I'm ready to go home yet. In fact, I know I'm not. For I don't have all that many happy things waiting for me. Work. Bills. Rain. Work. Not necessarily in that order. But alas, the time has come for this year's journey to end. It has indeed been a memorable one. Long gone are the sorrowful thoughts of a missed Sturgis. Long gone are the thoughts of Amanda at the County Club at last year's wedding. Long gone are the thoughts of endless miles of corn......
It's official. We're back in Washington. Interesting side note, Washington/Oregon is the only state that we actually saw a state line!! There was a clear demarkation point that officially stated where one state begins and another ends (much like this journey). Unfortunately, it was in the middle of a narrow two-lane bridge and was not exactly conducive to picture taking. So the Welcome sign will have to suffice.
Oh yeah, we're definitely in Washington. Gone are the endless miles of hot, sticky weather. Gone are the 14 hour sunlit summer days. It's time to don the jacket once again. I'm the last of the 3 of us to give in to the chill. And thank goodness I did. It got cold. It's still 71F, but that's not fun in the shade at 63 MPH.
Oh my goodness. It's chilly. We're darn near at the top of Chinook Pass. We're taking the Northerly route around Mt. Rainier this time. Little did we know how chilly it would be. I give in and turn on the heated hand grips, the second time of the trip. As we climb over the pass, it's a little foggy out. We never did see Mt. Rainier. It was blanketed in sheets of fog so thick, they.....ok, they were just thick. There's really nothing for us to look at at this point. The road is clear (albeit wet) but there's so much fog above our heads and on our sides that all we can see is the road. And it's a really wet fog. Almost like it's misting out. And damn is it chilly!!
Damn. No denying it now. We are so on our way home. We pull over to put raingear on. Every car coming at us the past 2 miles still has their windshield wipers on. No denying it, it's raining. But at least it's a little warmer with the raingear. I'm not sure that's a consolation, but it's something. At least the rain only lasts 9 miles. By lunchtime it's but a distant memory.
Man, this sucks. Nothing like reality
slapping you in the face then by traffic on I-405. Oh well, we knew the 2
lane twisty roads through canyons without another vehicle in sight would
end. But reality sometimes isn't as nice as it should be, even when you
thought you were prepared for it.
Today's Miles: 265
Total Miles: 3488
And so this brings us to recap time. Here's some stats on the adventure that was the Gardner Motorcycle Trip of 2001:
Total Miles: 3488
Total Miles in rain: 27
Total Miles using heated grips: 33
Number of US states: 7
Number of adjacent countries: 0 (I tried so hard to get this trip to run through Tiajuana, but there just wasn't time)
Number of Kartwheel pictures posted: 24
Number of Kartwheel pictures taken: 25
Number of Kartwheels performed: 27 (this is a true testament to both the camera, thanks DJ, and truly to the photographer, thanks Mom)
Number of unsolicited break-ins: 1
Number of unsolved cases: 1
Number of alcoholic beverages consumed: 3 (2 by me, 1 by Dad)
Number of meals at McDonald's: 0
Number of stops at McDonald's: 1 (just for some drinks and a McFlurry)
Number of meals at Taco Bell: 0 (despite my best efforts at persuasion)
Dollars lost at the craps tables: 0
Dollars won at the craps tables: 0
Number of times I need to go back to Vegas this year: 3
Number of months I need to live in Vegas to fulfill my life: 0
Number of motorcycle baths needed: 4 (they each need at least 2)
Number of new tires needed: 4
Number of days needed to explore Utah properly: 7
Number of days spent in Utah: 2
Number of National Parks/Monuments visited: 8
Number of random pieces of roadkill we passed: Like I can count that high
Number of roadkill worthy of a Kartwheel: 0
Number of Park Rangers we saw: 22
Number of those who were cute, young females: 9 (Thank you California. Thank you Arizona.)
Number of flashers caught on film: 1
Number of flashers caught on film according to DJ: 0 (sorry man, I tried, but those Mormons and their principles....)
Number of days it got too hot for Portable Electronic Devices: 7
Number of days we were glad it was that hot: 5
Number of additional CD's of music I needed: 4
Number of CD's I had with me that malfunctioned and were unusable: 4
Number of bugs who tragically lost their lives as they hit my motorcycle: 1000's
Number of bees who should have found another place to fly that horific day in Utah: 1
Number of bees who will perish as a result of that one lone bee stinging me: Every one I see
Number of birds who died at the expense of my reckless driving: 0 (a first, I didn't hit any birds!!)
Number of miles of driving when I was glad I lived in Washington and not Nevada: 466
Yee haw !!