Saturday, September 3, 2011

Final Thoughts

Okay, this is the final post for this blog.  I want to capture my thoughts and impressions of the trip with this last post.

First off, it was a good trip.  We rode through SC, GA, AL, MS, LA, TX, NM, AZ, CA, NV, UT, CO, KS, MO, IL, IN, KY, WV, VA, and of course, NC.  Quite a swath of states in 21 days!

We made it to all of the places we specifically wanted to visit--Texas hill country, Carlsbad Caverns, Roswell, San Diego, San Francisco, some Colorado fun roads, and the Moto GP race at Indy.  And we visited a few places that were done on-the spot, such as Big Bend and Segauro NPs.

We visited with Whip and Ms. Whip in Texas and had a great visit with them.  They are fine people to put us up for two nights and to feed us as well as they did.  And the guided tour of the hill country was great--one of the highlights of the trip.  And, we visited with a friend in Colorado and spent the night with him.  He fed us as well, and we had a great time visiting and talking with him.  Another highlight!

HEAT; whew did we have heat!  Before going, we knew it would be hot.  I was dreading the heat, and my dread was certainly realized.  From 113 degrees in TX to 5-6 hours of riding in temperatures of 108-111 one day, it was HOT!  We will not do that again; these old bodies just won't take that kind of abuse again.  I had some issues with water retention in my legs and ankles during the hot times that had me fairly worried about my health.  I tend to retain water when it's hot, so this was more pronounced due to the extreme heat.  But I'm fine now.  I drank more water than I ever thought possible, and it still wasn't enough, it seemed.  But, I will not go riding out there again in the hot summer.

Technical/bike problems.  Where do I start?  My bike first, I guess.  My first issue was a headlight bulb burning out very early on the trip.  Unfortunately, it was the one that is a bear to replace.  So, I didn't replace it; I had two other headlights that worked plus my Motolights.  My new highway foot pegs (where I rest my legs on long rides messed up.  On one side, it was very hard to fold it away when not needed.  On  the other side, it started just flopping out and in; a piece broke and the detents stopped working.  The brake rotors on the front warped, making the brakes pulsate when braking.  On curves, this was a bit unnerving because the front tire is not big, and when I'm braking and curving, that's a lot of stress on the tire and could cause it to slip.  It didn't, but if there had been any moisture or oil or sand on the road, who knows what might have happened?  On two mornings, the bike would not idle.  It would run just fine when I gave it some throttle, but would not idle by itself.  The motor used about 1/2 quart of oil on the ride; not bad...  It will go back to the dealer next week to check the brake rotors and to see what was causing the bike to not idle.

Gary's bike had some issues.  His headlights stopped working.  So, he bought bulbs and started to install one bulb, when a retaining spring came free and could not be put back in place.  He wiggled the wires some, and the high beam started working.  So, he finished the ride with only a high beam (plus some auxiliary lights and his Motolights).  We finally diagnosed that the bulbs were fine, but the wiring harness was not making good connections, causing the problem.  We wedged a piece of road debris into the harness to help it keep contact so the bulb would burn.  His GPS quit.  Well, not completely quit, but the touch screen stopped recognizing touches.  So, while he could see the maps, he could not navigate or do anything requiring input from the screen.

Bike to bike communication was hit or miss.  Most of the time, I could hear him and he could hear me just fine.  But sometimes, my system seemed to have a bad connection with some of the contacts in the system, making bike to bike communication impossible.  There's some glitch in the wiring that I need to find and fix.

I covered 8,200 miles over the 22 days I was on the road.  Overall, my gas mileage was good, averaging close to 50mpg.  Some tankfulls were as low as 42mpg, and one was as high as 67mpg.  But the majority were in the 48-51mpg range.  Fuel prices ranged from $3.58 to $4.39 per gallon, with most in the $3.75 range (the bike uses premium).

I think my favorite roads were in the Texas hill country and Hwy 141 in Colorado.  Those roads were just as good as, if not better than the good roads in NC.  I was very impressed with the cleanliness of the road surfaces.  In NC, especially in the curvy areas, there is often gravel or sand in the curves, making them tricky to ride fast.  On the vast majority of the roads that were fun, there was nothing on the road; no sand or gravel at all.  Road surfaces were also very good, from a smoothness viewpoint.  Riding was a pleasure.

We covered a lot of miles on the Interstates.  I-85, 20, 70, and 77 were used for long distances.  We had to cover a lot of miles to get to the interesting places, so it was a necessary evil.  When we found an alternate route to escape the Interstates, we did it.  But that did not happen often.

We had no close calls.  On many trips, something happens that is dangerous or life-threatening.  On this ride, it was very non-eventful, thankfully.  As far as I could tell, we were never in any danger.  God looked after us!

So, I guess this is it for this blog.  Another good trip finished successfully!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Days 21 and 22

8/29-30/11  My last twofer post!

There's not much to report except the races were held at Indy on Sunday.  We got up, packed our mess, and rode to the track.  We learned the hard way that if you are on a bike, parking in the infield is free.  We had paid (and wasted) $10 for parking on Saturday, not knowing about the freebie.   Oh well, what's ten bucks anyway??

The races were an overall disappointment because none of the fast races were close.  In each race, the leader took off and had huge leads.  So, there was no suspense in the outcome.  Some of the races for second or third place were fairly close, but the winner was no contest.  The Harley races were pretty good, although the bikes were much slower than the other bikes.

We left the track and had an easy time getting away and onto the Interstate, where we rode 200 miles before calling it a day.

On Monday, we got up and rode home.  Temperatures were very comfortable, in the 70s much of the way.  I had 502 miles to cover from our overnight stay to Clayton.  Nothing to report on the ride.

So, this concludes the posts following being on the road.  I will write one final post to give highlights and impressions from an overall perspective.  Hope to get it posted before the weekend.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Days 19 and 20

8/26-27/11  Another twofer day.

On Friday we got up and slowly, carefully rode to the BMW dealership in Kansas City.  It was only 8 miles away; we were extremely lucky that the tire did no blow out and that the BMW shop was close by.  The service department obviously has a orientation to customer service because they took Gary's wheel first.  They had a tire, and had it ready to go in about 30 minutes or so.  By 9:30, we were on the road, Gary with a new shoe on his rear wheel.

The remainder of the ride to Indianapolis was unremarkable, except for traffic delays on I-70.  They were pretty frustrating, especially happening at almost the end of the day's ride, when you're tired and ready to stop for the night.  But on the positive side, it was not hot.

We arrived at the hotel at about 7pm (lost an hour due to time zone change), had dinner, and rested for the night.  The day's ride was 485 miles

Today we slept in a bit.  The activities at the track were qualifying for the 3 races being held on Sunday.  So we left the hotel and rode to the track.  The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is an awesome place.  So much history.  Huge.  Gary and I attended the races last year and liked them, so coming a second time was great.

Found parking for the bikes and walked into the track after buying tickets.  Then walked around the track, looking at bikes qualifying and stopping in at the vendors to see what they were peddling.  I found nothing that I had to have.  Ate a bratworst for lunch; and it was pretty good.

When qualifying was over, we walked around a bit, left the track, ate at Steak and Shake, and went back to the hotel.  It was a good day.

Tomorrow--the races and starting home.  We plan to watch the races and then hit the road as far southeast as we can safely go.  Then on Monday, HOME!  I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Day 18

8/25/11  Today's post will be short; there's very little to report.

We got up at 6am and were on the road at 7am, the earliest we've hit the road on the trip.  It was a very nice start; cool and moderate traffic getting out of Denver.  No real problems at all.

Once on I-70, the winds picked up, coming out of the southeast and sometimes out of the east.  Winds like that make riding difficult because they push the bike all over the road.  So, constant steering corrections are needed to stay in control.  The winds were about 35mph, and we were riding at an angle in order to stay straight.  When passing a truck, as the truck blocked the wind, the bike would become straight up, but when the truck is actually passed, the bike is pushed again.  Hard riding.

We rode through Kansas with the wind like that.  420 miles of corn, wheat, and cows.  Not much else; it's an extremely boring ride.  I guess the winds made it more interesting than it would have been without them.

It never got really hot; the highest temperature for the day was 95.  And it stayed cool until about noon.  So, riding conditions were good (except for winds).

We rode 632 miles, from Denver to Independence MO.

After checking into the hotel and having dinner, Gary decided to check his rear tire to see if it was wearing okay.  It had several thousand miles on it before leaving town, and he knows how many miles he usually gets on a rear tire, so he was expecting it to be okay.  However, when he looked closely, he saw the steel cords shining through!  The tire is shot.  So, tomorrow starts with a visit to the BMW dealer in Kansas City.  Hopefully they will have a tire that can be installed quickly and we can resume the trip.

Always an adventure...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 17

8/24/11  A day of riding mountain roads in Colorado.  We got up, packed our mess, and jumped on the bikes.  The weather was nice and cool when we took off, and it never got hot all day!  I think it was our first all-comfortable day of the trip.  In the afternoon, thunderstorms popped up, and we actually had some pretty cool temperatures.  At one pass, it was 52 degrees!

Basically, the day was spent riding various roads to cross the mountains in high places.  I believe we did 4 passes; none as spectacular as yesterday's.  I was a bit disappointed that the others did not match up with the first one.

Professional bicycle races were being held in the area, so we had to be sure to not be where one of the races was taking place.  We got lucky to arrive in one town just minutes before the bicycles arrived.  If we had been later, there would have been a 3 hour delay since they close the roads when the bikes are in the area.

The highlight of the day was riding to a friend's home south of Denver.  He and I did a ride together a couple of years ago on the coast of North Carolina.  I've kept up with him with emails and phone calls, so when he knew we may be in the area, he invited us to come and stay with him.  So, we did!  He's coming back to North Carolina in September for a ride on Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway in late September with some other people.  I'm joining him and his friends on that ride.

We talked bikes and rides, and I really enjoyed the evening.  He invited a couple of friends who will be coming to NC over, and we talked about the ride over steaks and beer.  It was a good night.

Tomorrow, we leave Denver and head east on I-70 for about 500 miles or so.  It will be boring, but we'll make some distance.

No pictures tonight again; it's getting late.  I'll try to do some tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Day 16

8/23/11  A fun day today.  We left the motel after a good breakfast of eggs, bacon, and hash browns.  And some fruit.

Part of the day was to make some miles east; Indianapolis is about 1,500 miles from where we're staying, and we'll be in Indianapolis Friday night.  So, we hopped on I-70 and rode east to Grand Junction, CO.  There, we had lunch and jumped on US 50 South to ride some roads that are known to be scenic and interesting.

Several miles south of Grand Junction, we got on Colorado 141 and went south.  WOW what a road!  I've ridden now over 150,000 miles on a motorcycle, and this is the prettiest road I've been on.  It didn't start out so pretty; they were paving the road; it was 102 degrees, and we were sitting still on the  bikes in the sun waiting for traffic to move.  About 15 minute delay, and the scenery started.  The road went down a canyon, with green mountains on one side of the road and rocky mountains on the other side.  It reminded me of the Icefields Parkway near Banff, Canada, which was one of my prettiest roads.  Note the "was"; this road is better.  After some miles, we were riding along with red cliffs going up about 1,000 feet high on both sides of the road.  Beautiful.  Then it changed to mountains on both sides again.

The road itself was in good condition, and it winded along with enough curves to be interesting and fun.  We did witness one thing that could have been a problem, but wasn't.  We were following a truck pulling an air compressor behind it.  I noticed the trailer swaying back and forth, with each oscillation more pronounced, when suddenly it was no longer attached to the truck.  The trailer started sliding on it's tongue, throwing up sparks and dust.  It stopped on the side of the road and didn't turn over!  The weird thing was that the truck never realized it no longer had the trailer.  It kept going!

We speeded up to catch the truck and caught it about 5 miles down the road.  As we passed the truck, we motioned that the trailer was not behind the truck.  It slowed down and stopped.  It was a DOT truck!

At a scenic point, we stopped to see the suspended plumes.  When the area was being mined for gold, they needed lots of water to produce the gold.  So, they built a wooden sluice or plume on the side of cliffs for 13 miles!  The plume carried 23 millions of water a day!!  Amazing to see and to think about how difficult a feat it had to be.

A while later, we veered off this road to ride a high mountain pass.  The road went through Ouray, a quaint town at the bottom of Big Red mountain.  We rode to the top of the pass (altitude 11,110 feet).  It was fun and exhilarating to ride.  Then we backtracked down the pass and rode the 50 or so miles to the hotel in Montrose.

That was it for the day; 450 or so miles, including about 250 miles of smiles.

Tomorrow--more high passes and then visit a friend.

No pics tonight; it's getting late.  But come back later and I'll have some posted.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Days 14 and 15

8/21-22/11  Another twofer post.  Last night we got to the hotel late and there just wasn't time or energy to write a blog.  So, I'll cover two days in this post.

We got up and took our time in getting ready to leave the hotel.  When we left, we rode over to our lunch place, the Mona Lisa restaurant, near Chinatown. Since we had some time on our hands before the restaurant opened, we walked into Chinatown to see the sights.  I had never been there, so it was a real eye-opener.

There was a mass of people in the area--mostly Oriental, but a mix of all of humanity was present.  The sidewalks were filled with people. 

Foods for sale ranged from fresh fruit to live fish to dried shrimp.  And everything else you can imagine, and some that you would not begin to think about, like cow stomachs.  Ugh!  I got nauseous just looking at some of the things.  Peking duck, raw and cooked chickens, whole and in pieces.  Some kind of small bird, whole and feathers plucked.  We saw live fish being taken from fish tanks on a truck  being sold to a fish market.  Talk about fresh; it doesn't get any fresher than those fish!

And the aromas on the street.  Some were somewhat pleasant, but many were awful.  Think fish market combined with cow paddiy--and worse.  It was a real treat to see all of what was going on.  Gary and I were in agreement that the health department cannot have been present to inspect the places; they were very rough.

At 11 we walked back to the Mona Lisa, an old and famous Italian restaurant.  I ordered lasagna, and was served one of the top 3 lasagna dishes I've ever had.  It was traditional, red sauce with beef and cheeses.  What made this one delightfully different is that the meat sauce included chunks of beef, cooked to a great taste.  It also had ground beef, but the chunks really made it different and delicious.  I ate all of it!  If in San Francisco again, I'm going back!

After lunch, we got on the bikes and headed homeward.  We wanted to see Yosemite National Park, so we headed to it.  About 4 hours later we were there.

Time was getting short, so we had time only to ride through the park.  We didn't even get off the bikes.  But we saw a lot.  The most striking feature, to me, was the huge rock faces.  Whole mountains of solid rock.  I've not seen a place like this, where a mountain is clearly one huge boulder.  And waterfalls; very beautiful.  And big trees.  It is beautiful, and next trip to California will allow some time to see things in Yosemite.

It was getting late, and we needed to be moving on, so we got on Hwy 120 that runs some 65 miles through the park.  Just as we got moving, traffic stopped.  For about an hour!  Seems that there was some kind of auto accident that had the only road through the park blocked.  So we waited it out.  Once rolling again, we had many miles to go, and darkness was occurring.  By the time we got out of the park, it was black night, a time that we try hard not to ride in.  But we had no option.

Once out of the park, we rode to the town of Lee Vinnies to find a hotel.  Unfortunately, all were full.  So, we made some calls and secured a motel some 30 miles away.  The ride to the motel was tense; pitch black and unfamiliar roads.  But we got in safely.  Checked in the hotel, had a quick dinner, and called it a night.

Today, we left Mammoth Lakes and headed east.  We found some smaller roads and rode for hours along miles and miles of nothing but sagebrush and small undergrowth.  One road we were on went for 76 miles, and in those 76 miles, there was one abandoned house.  Nothing else.  No buildings.  No businesses.  Nothing but sagebrush!  I'd guess that of the 536 miles covered today, 450 of them were in the middle of nowhere.  No traffic (maybe a car every half hour or so), nothing but sagebrush.

We are staying in Richfield, UT tonight.  It's a little town along I-70 where I had some bike repairs made on our first trip out west in 2007.  Actually had dinner at the same place we ate at on that trip.  It was good both times.

Tonight we're washing clothes--probably the last time we'll have to do that on this trip.  A necessary evil.  But it will be good to have clean clothes again.

Tomorrow, head east towards Denver.  We plan to ride some roads southwest of Denver where there are a number of high mountain passes.  Should be fun...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Day 13

8/20/11  From San Luis Obispo to San Francisco.  It was another good day on the road.  I guess the thing that stands out most in my mind was the weather.  It is so weird that the temperatures can vary so much in such a short distance. 

Most of the ride, the temperatures were in the 60s.  We got on Hwy 1, the famous Pacific Coast Highway in San Luis, and headed north.  The skies were gray and heavily overcast.  It misted a little along the way, but no rain fell.  At one point, the highway swung inland for several miles, and the temperature rose from 63 to 85.  Then the road swung back towards the ocean and the temperatures dropped back to the mid 60s.  The ocean has a definite cooling effect on the temperatures.

The PCH is a wonderful road for motorcycle riding..  It runs along the beach most of the way, but in California, the beach and the mountains are literally feet apart, so the road is just like riding the twisties in the mountains, complete with hairpin turns and significant elevation changes.  While the speed limit is 55, there are few places where most people can reach that speed.  There are straight, level stretches for a mile or so along the way, but much of the road is twisty, making it a motorcyclist heaven.

Along the way, we saw a sign for an elephant seal viewing area, so we went there.  On the beach below were about 25 elephant seals lying on the beach, sleeping.  They would lie still and periodically flip sand on their back.  Why, I don't know, but all of the seals did that.  Occasionally one would move towards the water, moving it's body in an undulating motion that pushed it forward a few inches.  They are definitely not fast on the beach, but I bet they can really go fast in the water.  It was something to see!

Gary worked on his headlight problem while still at the hotel.  We were not able to get the spring to stay in its holder.  But in testing, we determined that one of the leads to the bulb was the problem.  Something about the wire was causing a short that turned off the headlight circuit.  He finally decided to leave the bulb out and ride with only a high beam.  That worked just fine.  He'll work on it more at home.

We rode into San Francisco on Hwy 101, and experienced first-hand the famous slowdowns on that road.  We stopped and rolled and stopped and rolled for a long time, making little progress.  Finally, the traffic picked up and we rolled into town.

Gary led us through town to the Golden Gate Bridge, one of our destination.  We rode across the glorious bridge in bumper-to-bumper traffic, with fog blowing in from the ocean; it was great!  The bridge itself is beautiful, with the large cables gracefully swinging from buttress to buttress.  And all of the vertical supports from the bridge deck to the huge cables were beautiful as well.  Six lanes of traffic cross the deck; three north and three south.  It is truly an amazing bridge.

On the north side of the bridge is a viewing area, which we used for some pictures.  It was cold there; 61 degrees and a pretty stiff wind coming off the ocean.  I wore the bumblebee all day, so I didn't get cold; it felt great.  But other people wearing summer clothes were huddled up and clearly cold. 

After taking a few pictures, we headed back into town to the motel.  Along the way, we did the famous Lombard street, the "crookedess street in USA".  It is pretty steep and switchbacks every few feet.  It would be a bit of a challenge on a motorcycle to ride down it without traffic.  However, we were behind a car with a driver that appeared to be terrified, stopping every few feet and then inching forward.  Going that slow made it very difficult because we were stopping on a steep slope in a curve with camber, making it hard to touch a foot to the ground.  I almost dumped the bike twice, and Gary said he almost went down once.  It was not a fun ride down the street.

We found the motel, checked in, rested a few minutes, then walked down to Fisherman's Wharf for dinner.  We had a good dinner at one of the places over the water and then walked around to see what we could see.  Gary knew that seals would be hanging out down by Pier 39, so we went there to see them.  Wow!  There were 7 docks covered with seals!  They were honking and hollering to each other; it was quite a sight.

We finished the night life by stopping at an Irish bar for some Irish coffee.  We sat in front of the bartender and watched him preparing the drinks; it was quite a performance.  He would line up a half dozen glasses, rims just touching.  Then he poured hot water in all of them in one swooping pour.  The water sat in the glasses for just a while, I guess to heat the glass.  Then he poured the water out and placed two sugar cubes in each glass.  Next came coffee, about half full.  He then did a motion with a spoon to swish coffee out of the glass without making a real mess.  Next, he stirred the coffee, dissolving the sugar, all in just a second or two per glass.  Then he poured Irish whiskey in each glass, in one swooping motion again.  Finally some frothy cream on top.  He was definitely an expert in his craft of making Irish coffee.  It was very good!

Then back to the hotel for the night.  It was a very good day.

Sunday, we'll see a few more sights, have lunch, and then head for Yosemite National Park.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Days 11 and 12

8/18-19/11 Another twofer post.  Last night, I could not get an Internet connection to work, so I didn't write a post.

On Thursday, we had a great day of riding.  Wonderful roads full of curves and elevation changes.  I have worked on my turning techniques, and think I've improved my carving the roads.

We stayed in Big Bear lake, a ski resort located at elevation 7,500 or so feet.  Our room there was nice; it even had a fireplace!  And it had a very good breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and home fries.  It was very good.  Last night, I was not feeling well; very tired and stomach ache, so I skipped dinner (for those of you who know me well, me skipping a meal is unheard-of).  But I just didn't feel like eating.  That made breakfast much better!

It was a very good day of riding.  Noth8ing noteworthy except the roads for the day.  And a piece of very tasty pie.  We learned from a local that the Julian Pie Company makes great pies.  So, for lunch, we headed for Julian so we could try one out.  We ate at a restaurant beside the pie factory, thinking surely they would have the pies.  But on ordering, our waitress told us that their pies were not fresh; that fresh pies were delivered on the weekends.  So we didn't have pie there; but with the factory next door, we went there and had a piece of Apple Mountain Berry pie.  It had apples, boysenberries, strawberries, and raspberries.  With an apple crumb crust on top.  Finally, topped with vanilla ice cream.  It was wonderful! 

Then good roads to Big Bear Lake.  Oh, I almost forgot--we went by an airplane glider park, where a glider was being pulled up to glide.  It went up amazingly fast, and interestingly, the glider was in the air long before the towing plane.  We considered going on a flight, but I nixed it.  The thought of being up several thousand feet without an engine was not something I was interested in doing...  I'm a chicken, I guess.

We left Big Bear Lake this morning; it was 43 degrees when we got up!  Yes, it was 43 degrees.  But it warmed up very quickly, and we never had really high temperatures (about 95 was the high for the day).  The ride today included mountain twisties, valley flats, and freeways.  All went well, and the rides were great.

We stopped for gas, and Gary noticed that none of his headlights were burning.  Low bulb and high bulbs were out!  We decided to ride to our place for the night, San Luis Obispo.  We found that the hotel rates in this town were very high, so we found a mom and pop hotel for a little less and stayed at the Villa Motel. 

Once checked in, we found an auto parts store to buy bulbs for the headlights.  The we tried to install them.  Unfortunately, the access to the headlights is pretty tight, making it difficult to work on them.  Gary got the bulb out just fine, stuck the new bulb in place, and then tried to put the little springy thing in place that holds the bulb in its socket.  Damn, the spring popped out of its holding thing.  So, we fiddled with it for about an hour, failing to get it fixed before dark set in.  We finally decided to go back to the hotel and wait until morning to try again.  

At the motel, he discovered that the high beam was now working!!  Weird stuff. We ordered a pizza and called it a day.  A good day, but frustrating at the end.

Tomorrow--fix the headlight and move on to San Francisco.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Day 10

8/17/11  A good day on the road.  We left Yuma AZ and immediately crossed into California, one of our destination states.  When we left the hotel at 7:30, it was 98 degrees outside!  So much for cooling off overnight...

Once in California on I-8, we rode through one area of huge sand dunes.  They went for several miles, and covered a huge area.  No pics; it was hot, and we wanted to get on to San Diego.  A while later, the Interstate narrowed to one lane, and all the traffic was sent through another Inspection Station, looking for illegal immigrants and drugs.  We didn't have to stop; they waved us through.  I guess two old guys on BMW bikes were not good candidates to smuggle immigrants or drugs.

It got fairly hot along the way, hovering around 100 degrees, until we started up the mountains between east and west California.  The Interstate was fairly boring, so we found an old historic road that paralleled I-8.  Hwy 80 was more interesting, with the road following the lay of the land more than the Interstate, and it had more curves.  But, alas, it crossed the Interstate and headed north, so we had to get back on the fast road.

 We had one side trip that a mutual friend had suggested.  I was told that in a town along the way there was a Buck Knife factory.  I collect knives and love to have them, so I wanted to see the place.  So, off we went to find it.  I had a street address, so the GPS took us directly to the location.  But, it was not there!  It looked like an industrial building, but nothing to do with Buck knives.  A wild goose chase is what it was.

On to San Diego.  The Interstate was not bad; traffic was moving fine, and it was not heavy.  We followed the Interstate almost to the ocean.  Once off the Interstate, I followed some small streets and found Dog Beach.  A weird name for a beach, but it happens to be a beach dedicated to letting dogs run free and to be trained.  LOTS of dogs there! 

We walked out to the beach and let the waves run up onto our boots, and dipped our hands into the surf, to feel the water of the Pacific Ocean.  It was cool, but not nearly as cold as the water is further north.

Then to find a place to eat.  Just up the street we found Shades restaurant.  I had a BLAT sandwich.  Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, and Tomato, and it was excellent.  Gary did his usual fish and chips.  A good lunch with a view of the Pacific.

Then we walked out on the Ocean Beach pier, a concrete pier built in the 1960s.  It's the longest pier on the west coast, at 1,600 feet long!  Much longer than any I've ever seen or been on.  It's a fishing pier, and we saw a few people fishing, but they were not catching much.

Back to the bikes and up the beach highway, just taking in the scenery along the way.  It's so weird to have the ocean just a few hundred feet from the road, and mountains immediately on the other side of the road.  Neat!  It was cool and foggy along the way, with the temperature dipping to 69 degrees.  Almost cool!  It was an extraordinary experience, going from 100 degrees to 69 in the space of 15 miles or so.

Our northernmost point today was San Juan Capistrano.  We rode to the famous town where the Swallows stop and saw the mission building.  Stopped to take a pic and then on to our hotel in Temecula.   The ride from Capistrano to the hotel was a blast, going through the mountains down into the valley on the east side.

Tomorrow--mountain roads!






Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Days 8 and 9

8/15-16/11  Well, it's another multiple day post.  This one will cover 2 days.

On Monday, we got up and packed the bikes and headed into the park.  Our hotel was only about a mile from the park entrance, so it was an easy roll into Carlsbad Caverns National Park.  We stopped for a picture at the park sign--the one to prove that we were actually there.  I noted that in the 10 weeks or so since last visited with my sister, a fire had burned  most of the vegetation on the hills and mountains, leaving burned stalks of yucca and cacti along the way.  I learned that the fire occurred on June 12, just two weeks after the trip with Bar.

The trip into the caverns was great.  I've been in many of the caverns in the eastern part of the USA, but none of those compare with Carlsbad.  I believe Carlsbad is the Grand Canyon of caves.  Gary enjoyed them as well.  For more descriptions, refer to my blog at www.threeweekswithbigsis.blogspot.com  .

We had lunch at the caverns gift shop, and then got back on the bikes headed for Roswell NM.  The 80 or so miles between the towns went pretty fast; the speed limit was 75mph, and traffic was moving at about 85-90 mph.  A good ride to Roswell.

In Roswell, we stopped at the UFO Museum (same as visit with Barbara).  I think Gary enjoyed the museum, although it is a bit weird.  It does cause you to think about whether there is any validity to the stories or not.  I haven't decided for myself.

After Roswell, we hit the road to get to Las Cruces NM for the night.  It was about 200 miles away, and it was getting a bit late.  Along the way, we found the White Sands National Monument.  It is an area with bright white, very fine sands forming dunes that look like sand dunes on our NC beaches.  Weird!!  We went into the area, first on paved roads, then on sand-covered, hard-packed road surfaces.  It felt neat to ride the heavy RT on sand roads.  But in truth, since the surface was hard and solid, it was no problem at all.

As we were leaving, we noted black skies to the southwest, just where we were headed.  So, Gary put on his rain gear and I put my bumblebee on.  We just knew we were riding into a bad storm and we wanted to be prepared.

The road was dark, and the wind gusting a bit, so the ride was a bit hairy.  However, the heavy rain we were expecting never showed up.  We did run into rain, but it was not bad at all.  I found the hotel okay, and we checked in.

It was about 9pm when we started trying to find a place to eat.  The place we chose had closed by the time we got there, so we had to walk a little further to find a bar at the Ramada Inn, where they were serving food.  Nachos supreme were good!  Then the walk back to the hotel.  We got in about10:30, and I was too tired to turn the computer on, so there was no post for Monday.

This morning we headed out to Yuma AZ, our destination for the night.  It was showing as 505 miles, so the distance was not too bad.  When we started out, the temperatures were great; 70s and low 80s. Perfect for a good ride.  We were on I-10 with a 75mph speed limit, so the miles went pretty easy.  Just before Tuscon is the East part of the Saguaro National Park, famous for its large number of saguaro cacti.  Since it was just off the Interstate, we decided to take the 15 mile ride to the park.

Once inside the park, we took the 8 mile loop through the park.  While it was an easy ride, and it had some spectacular views of a forest of giant saguaro, it was HOT.  On the loop, the temperature reached 104, the highest for the day, and the highest we'd experienced in several days.

Working our way back to the Interstate, the GPS took us by the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.  We stumbled upon the place where the military stashes their surplus aircraft.  Hundreds if not thousands of aircraft are stored in this location.  Old, not so old, huge, and small aircraft are stored here because it's a good location to preserve metallic items.  No rain!  So, rust and decay is delayed here, whereas in other places, the aircraft would simply decay away.  It was amazing to see them in rows as far as you could see.  A special treat for the trip.  We took a few pics and moved on towards Yuma.

The ride from Tuscon was VERY HOT.  The temperature went from 104 to 106 to 108, where it stayed for a while.  Then 110 and 112 degrees.  The last two hours of the ride was between 109 and 112 degrees!  We stopped twice in the last couple of hours, once to take in some fluids, and later for gas and fluids.  The air was so hot that it was painful to have any skin exposed to the air--it felt like sticking your hand in an oven.

All in all, we did okay, but we both pledged to each other that we'll never be back in the southwest on bikes in August.  It's just too hot to really enjoy being here.

We found the hotel ok and checked in.  Drank a beer and rested a bit, then had dinner and called it a day.

Tomorrow--on to San Diego and other new places.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Day 6--Marathon TX to Carlsbad NM

8/14/11  A good day today.  We left Marathon after finding one of two gas stations open.  Gary needed gas, and I was worried that, with it being Sunday morning, we might not be able to find a place open.  I'm not sure what we'd have done if none had been open, but it turned out that we found gas.  Not cheap, but $4.38 per gallon for premium.  But high priced gas is better than none.

The road to the park is 68 miles long.  It was pretty much straight, but with some changes in elevation and a few curves.  The scenery was pretty much western--lots of low, scrubby brush and mountains off in the distance.  It wasn't boring, but it wasn't spectacular either.

Inside Big Bend National Park, we stopped at the visitor's center and asked where we could view the river.  The ranger told us two places and warned us about one road that probably had overwash from the rain that fell yesterday and last night.

The roads in this part of the world are sorta weird.  There are many dry washes that cross the road.  When it's dry, there's no problem.  But the water is meant to cross the road (cheaper than building bridges, I guess).  Many of the larger overwashes have depth gauges to show how deep th water is so a driver can decide whether or not to cross the river running over the road.  We have seen hundreds of them, some very large, and some very small.  I guess it's the best way to deal with infrequent flash flooding.

We rode to a group camping area, where there was a boat ramp.  At the boat ramp, we found the Rio Grande river and were astounded at how small it was.  The river at that point was maybe 50 feet wide, and it looked pretty shallow.  I wanted to walk down into the water, but there was a slippery very soft mud for about 5 feet to get to the water.  So, I didn't get my feet wet in the Rio Grande!  I was pretty disappointed in what I saw.

Thinking about the illegal immigrant problem in the USA, having seen the river, it's no problem to cross the river.  In fact, at a viewing area, we watched a man walk from one side to the other.  The water was about thigh deep; he didn't even get his shirt wet!  Later, we saw two boys on a horse cross at the same place.

Not to digress from Big Bend, but we did see a lot of Border Patrol vehicles along the way.   I believe we're pouring a lot of money into protecting our borders, based on the number of vehicles and officers we saw.  And, we came through two "Inspection" stations along the way.  They are set up to find illegal immigrants on the main roads.  Each one has a dog that sniffs about (I'm not sure what he's sniffing for) the vehicle.  Our passing was easy since we were on bikes.  They asked if we were American citizens.  We replied that we were, and they let us pass.  Cars took longer.

A small bunch of mountains are in the center of the park, so we rode up to check out what was there.  At the top was a lodge and restaurant.  Since it was lunchtime, we went in for lunch.  My club sandwich was pretty good!

Down the mountain and back to the main park road and then headed west for Presidio on the River Road.  The River Road is supposedly the best road in Texas.  It winds along parallel to the Rio Grande, and follows the contours of the land.  It is roller-coaster, winding road that runs about 60 miles from the park to Presidio.  While I liked the road, IMO it's not the best road in Texas; the roads in the hill country were better.  But it was fun and I'm glad we did it.

Then north to Carlsbad NM.  The roads we rode on were something else.  Well maintained, straight, and wide, the two-lane roads had speed limits of 75 mph much of the way.  We rode from 75 to about 90 mph most of the way.  I'm sure we averaged over 80 mph, including towns along the way.  It was a fast blast.

We found a hotel just outside Carlsbad Caverns National Park, checked in, walked to dinner, and called it a night.  Before going to bed, I had to repair a boot where the heel had come unbonded from the sole.  Ductape can fix anything!

It was a good day; we covered about 450 miles.  BTW, I've now ridden almost 2,500 miles since leaving home last Monday.

Tomorrow, Carlsbad Caverns and then start west towards San Diego (another 1,000 miles away).

I'm not posting pics tonight; my Internet connection is very poor.  I hope to post pics and blog tomorrow night.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Days 3, 4, and 5

8-11 and 12, and 13/11  Today’s post is a threefer post; I’m going to cover three days in one post. 

We left our motel and headed southwest to San Antonio.  We left the Interstate and got on the secondary roads in Texas.  I like the roads in Texas!  Many of the secondary roads have speed limits of 70mph, and a wide shoulder wide enough for a vehicle to drive on.  The roads have driveways, businesses, and other things opening onto the roads, but still the speed limits are high.

Our destination was the Alamo in downtown San Antonio, and we found it okay.  I had been forewarned that it was a very small building, sorta nondescript, in the middle of San Antonio.  We got there, found parking in an expensive lot ($10 for 2 hours!), and walked to the Alamo. 

In truth, it was better than I expected; larger and had some pretty gardens around it.  We got there too late to do a tour, so we just walked around to see what we could see.  It was interesting, and I’m glad we did it, but I don’t need to see it again.

As we left the Alamo, we went looking for our host in San Antonio.  I had posted a question on the BMW ST forum, asking where the good roads were in the Texas hill country.  Whip answered that he’d be happy to take us out to the good roads.  When I asked where he recommended us to stay, he insisted that we stay with he and his wife, Mrs. Whip.  So we agreed.  When I talked with him the day before, he told me that he had 3 stores in San Antonio, and he’d be in the store across the street from the Alamo.

So, we stopped in one store and told the people we were looking for Whip, and they immediately knew him and where his store was.  Arriving at his store, we asked one of the sales people if Whip was there, and we were asked if we rode with him.  I guess this happens a lot with Whip.  In a few minutes, we met Whip and went to his office with him to talk a bit.  The plans for the night were laid out, along with some discussion of the ride the following morning.

After a bit, we left and started walking back to the bikes.  Along the way, we crossed over the river walk and decided to go down to the water and have a drink before going to Whip’s house.  The Margarita was great!  It was pretty hot outside, so a cool drink was very good.

Then back to the bikes and riding about 20 miles to his house.

His house is very unique, almost 50 years old, one story, and rambling.  But very nice.  It sits on a big lot (wide and very deep) that is completely fenced in.  Mrs Whip opened the gate and showed us where to park the bikes (in a big building in the back yard).  Inside the building were 4 bikes that he uses.

We met Mrs. Whip and talked awhile.  Each of us had a separate bedroom and a shared bath.  Very, very nice!  We showered and put on fresh clothes and then talked with her, while meeting their 5 dogs. 
Because Whip had to work late, we had an easy evening of resting and getting to know Mrs. Whip.
Later in the evening, she cooked a wonderful meal of grilled pork chop and a spinach casserole. Very tasty.

We ate and talked about bikes and adventures and had a very good evening.

The next morning, we got up, had a bite to eat and got on the bikes.  We rode about 40 miles northwest and met his buddy, Phil, who was guiding the ride.

Phil is from England, and is a very good rider.  He was very considerate of our riding abilities and checked in with us to see that we were going at an acceptable pace.  He’s a nice guy.

We rode for about 4 hours on some amazing roads.  Twisty, undulating, fast sweepers, and straightaways.  Great roads.  On one straightaway, I hit 107mph; it felt good and felt safe.  We had some parts of roads that were just like being on a roller coaster; steep downs and steep rises, with you almost coming off the seat at the top.  Lots of turns, some tight, some not so tight.  I worked on my cornering techniques and believe I made some improvements as the ride progressed.  Speed limits were generally 65 or 70mph, so it was a hoot to ride in the area.

Finally at around noon, Phil had to peel off to head back home.  We bid him goodbye after thanking him for his help, and he went on his way.  We continued the ride a while more and then went to eat.

We had lunch at the Lone Star Motorcycle Museum and  the Ace CafĂ© in Vanderpool TX.  In the museum there were many old bikes in very good condition.  I didn’t count, but guess there were maybe 50 or so restored bikes.  And a good burger.   A neat place for lunch.

Then back to the house to rest for the day.  We had time to do laundry (using their machines instead of sinks), fix a boot sole problem, and take it easy for a while.  Very nice to kick back and just relax.

Whip had to go to work when we got to the house, so he got home late last night.  Mrs. Whip prepared another wonderful meal of grilled chicken, pasta salad, and watermelon.  She’s an excellent cook and says she loves to cook.  I love to eat, and she loves to cook, so it was a good match!

Today, we got up and ate breakfast, packed the bikes and headed out for Marathon TX.  Whip and Phil strongly recommended that we go to Big Ben National Park, on the Mexican Border and the Rio Grand River about 300 miles west of San Diego.  US 90 is a major east-west road that runs to Marathon, so we went on the back roads to US 90. 

What a road.  It’s a 2, 3, and 4-lane road that runs across Texas.  Speed limit is 75 mph most of the way!  So, we could make great time running at 80-90 mph.  The road is very straight, and sight distances are very good, so running fast is safe.  We ran fast!!

Along the way, we discovered the little town of Langtry, where Judge Joe Bean held court at the turn of the 19th century.  He was quite a guy, never hanging anyone, but fining everyone that came to his court. And he pocketed the money.  I don’t think he was a real judge, but in the day, no one really challenged him, so he acted as one.

It was time for lunch, so we asked about places to eat, and were told that the service station had barbecue sandwiches.  Since it was only a half mile away, we decided to try it.  The Depot was an unusual place.  We walked inside and it didn’t look like a place for food, with the exception that it had a long table with about 8 chairs.  A guy was sitting at one chair, eating fried chicken.  We stood near the table, waiting for someone to come out to greet us, but no one came.  After several minutes, the guy eating chicken suddenly said “You boys want something?”  We told him we were there to eat, and he went to the back.  After a few minutes, he came out with 2 barbecue sandwiches. 
They were actually pretty good!  We ate, paid, and got back on the bikes.  Westward ho!

About 20 miles east of Marathon, we could see a good storm brewing towards Marathon.  We pulled off the highway at a picnic area so we could decide whether to wait out the storm or to move on.  After a bit of watching the numerous lightning flashes, we decided it was safe to head on.  About a mile later, we ran into the storm.  It rained pretty hard, lightning was flashing around, and the wind blew some.  But we kept moving and got to our hotel at around 4pm.

Checked in, walked to town (1/2 mile away), bought some beer and breakfast stuff and walked back.  Then the rain came!  We missed it at the hotel.

As we were sitting on the porch drinking beer and bloggng, a couple checked into a room in the building across from us.  A few minutes later, the guy offered to trade us hot beer for cold beer.  Since we didn’t need the cold beer right then, we traded.  Later, they returned the favor by letting us ride to dinner with them.  From San Francisco, they were on their way home and happened to need a room here.  They were nice, and we enjoyed having dinner with them.

Tomorrow—Big Bend National Park, the river road to Presidio (supposedly the best road in Texas), and on to Carlsbad.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Day 2

8/10/11  Did I Say it Was HOT?  Good grief it gets hot out here!

The day started fairly nice, about 75 degrees before breakfast.  We decided to stay on the Interstate to Shreveport, LA and then head southwest on smaller roads towards San Antonio.

As the miles went by, the heat built higher and higher.  By noon, we were over 100 degrees on the bike.  We stopped a lot for water and fluids, in addition to gas stops, so we stayed well hydrated and safe.  The hot spot of the day was in Henderson TX when the thermometer hit 113 degrees at around 6pm.  It felt pretty hot, but not unbearable.

We used the Sahara vests from about 11am until we stopped, re-wetting them at each stop.  While it's a bit weird feeling at first, the evaporative effect does help make it a little cooler.  At the humidity we're facing and temperatures we have, the vests dry out in about an hour.  So, frequent stops are essential.

There's really not much to report except the ride so far has been unremarkable except for the intense heat.

Tomorrow we start the adventure.  We'll get up and head to San Antonio.  The Alamo is waiting for us!  So, we'll see it and then meet our host for the next couple of nights.  A guy from the BMWST website volunteered to show us around the Hill country, so we're taking him up on it.  I believe it will be great to have someone from the area who knows what's there and where to show us around.  I'm looking forward to it.

We did 545 miles today, staying in Palestine TX.

More tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day One; Tuscaloosa AL

9/9/11  Well, we hit the road today.  I was sorta dreading the ride today, concerned about the heat that is plaguing the country.  Yesterday riding to Garys, the temperatures stayed at 100 or above almost the whole way there.  Thankfully, about 10 miles south of his house, a thunderstorm brewed up and lowered the temperatures down to about 88.  Very little rain fell, but it cooled off and felt so good.

Waking up this morning, the temperature was 70 degrees outside.  Terrific!  I don't know when it's been that cool at home, so it was really great to be cooler.

We got underway at around 8:45 am after leaving Gary's family and granddaughter in the driveway.  We headed west on I-40 to I-77 towards Charlotte.  Then the by-pass around the western side of town and then to I-85 south.  We stayed on it to Atlanta, where we veered west on I-20.  Then southwest to Tuscaloosa AL.

Traffic was okay; never really heavy at all.  No stopping on the Interstate like happens at home.  Not really much to talk about; everything went fine and we did about 525 miles before stopping for the night.

After checking into the hotel, we walked, looking for an interesting place to eat.  However, we couldn't find anything within walking distance, so we had dinner at Cracker Barrell; each of us having pancakes.  They were very good!

Tomorrow, we plan to get an early start, stay on I-20 to Shreveport, LA, and then get on some smaller roads towards San Antonio.  Will try to take some pics to post tomorrow.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Trip's Eve

This is my last post before leaving town.  I think I've done all that I can do to be ready.

The final drive fluid change was done on Friday, making the bike 100% ready to roll.  The only other things I've done to the bike were to put the sheepskin seat cover on the seat; it helps keep me from slipping forward, and it makes the seat a bit cooler.  And I installed some soft foam grip covers on the handgrips.  They remove vibration and are a little cooler.  I can't think of anything more to do to the bike.

I've packed my clothes and have the left side case full of clean clothes.  I have found that I like to put each type of clothing (socks, short sleeved shirts, undies, etc.) in ziploc bags to make it easier to find them.  The bags also keep some of the odor of dirty clothes away from clean ones.  I pretty much exclusively use convertible pants, the kind that zip off at the knees.  They have extra pockets and can be worn short or long.  They will be short while on the bike, unless we find cool somewhere along the way.  I bought 2 new polyester short sleeved shirts for the trip; they help wick moisture away from the body--no cotton while riding.  Same with undies and socks.

I'll be wearing my Olympia Phantom mesh one-piece riding suit most of the time.  It's the coolest thing I have, and will work well with the Sahara vest.  Hopefully I'll get enough air flow to stay safe, temperature-wise.  We'll stop for breaks and hydration as needed.

Electronics are ready to be packed on the bike.  Charging the Kindle, but the computer is ready to go.  Extra batteries for the phone and camera (yes, I'm anal).  New batteries for the Spot locator.  Maps to help us plan some of the routes.

Meds and personal gear.  I counted out 24 days of each of my meds and put them in ziploc bags marked "AM" and "PM", so I can take them when I should.

Bumblebee, a lightweight jacket, and a sweatshirt are packed in a watertight bag placed on the passenger seat of the bike.  I hope we need them somewhere along the way.

We're moteling this trip, so no packing of tent and other paraphernalia needed to camp.  If we were traveling later in the year, I'd been up for camping, but I'm expecting it to be too hot to camp.  After a hard day's riding, I need cool and a bed in which I can rest.  Maybe next time...

Who would think a 3 week trip takes so much planning and preparation?  It seems that there's a thousand little details that have to be handled to be fully prepared for 3 weeks.  Getting the bike ready is the biggie, but the packing and details of going all have to be handled as well.

Route--I don't know.  I think it makes sense to leave Gary's home and head south on I-85 to Atlanta.  Then take I-20 towards San Antonio.  Probably stay on the Interstates all day on day 1 and most, if not all of day 2.   The sequence of travels is different from what was planned last year.  We're now planning to go to the Texas hill country (near and just west of the Austin/San Antonio area of Texas.  Then on west to Carlsbad Caverns.  Although I was there in May, they are so spectacular that I'm looking forward to doing them again. Then west to San Diego.  Ride the good roads in southern California en route to San Francisco.  Then head west towards home, with a stop in Denver and, finally, ending up in Indianapolis for the Moto GP race the last weekend in August.

We have an offer of a guide and a place to stay while doing the Texas hill country.  A guy from a forum I belong to made the offer, and we intend to take him up on it.  He'll know the roads and the places, so it will be a great way to see the area.  We also have an offer to stay a night with a friend in Denver, so we plan to do that on the way back east.

So, I'll be leaving home tomorrow and end up at Gary's for the night.  I'm hoping we're headed southwest by 8am on Tuesday.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bike is READY!

Hallelujah!!  The bike is ready.  Most everything I needed to do worked out as planned, but there are always unsuspected surprises along the way.  Tires were installed on Tuesday; this is the first time I've had two new tires on a bike at the same time!  So, the rubber is good to go.  Other than spilling about half of the old transmission oil on the walkway, making a mess, the fluid changes and filter changes worked as it should.

Just after I put the fairings back on the bike and had it ready to check out, I noted that the Motolights and Hyperlites were not burning when the switch was on.  Damn!  So, I started diagnosing what was wrong.  A test lamp finally showed that the fuse block had no power.  Since there was no in-line fuse, it had to be the relay that had gone bad.  Simple to remove, and surely I could pick one up in an automotive store.

Went to Autozone and Advance Auto.  They checked every relay in stock, and the terminals on those did not line up with my plug.  Double damn!  I could replace the entire wiring harness for the fuse block, but I had done such a neat job installing it that I didn't want to undo and start over.

To the Internet to search for the relay.  Google is good!  Found the relay I needed, but it's offered by only one distributor in the USA, and, of course, it was located in California.  Went to order one, and immediately got an error message telling me that their minimum order was $15.  So, I ordered two.  Since it was Monday when I discovered the problem, and I'm leaving town this coming Monday, I had to do 3 day delivery to get it in time.  Shipping cost more than the relays!  Oh well, it's only money.

The relays were delivered today, as promised, and I installed a new one.  Voila, lights again!  I did an autopsy on the old one and found that water had seeped into it and shorted it out.  So, I installed the new relay in a different orientation to help keep moisture out.

Checked out the radio (which is what I had planned to do on Monday when I discovered the power issue), and it's working as it should.  If this stays true, I'll be able to talk to Gary, and he'll be able to talk to me as we travel.

We don't talk a lot, but it's important to know that one of us needs to stop, or if one sights something newsworthy along the road, it's great to be able to talk about it as we ride.  Most of the time, we're each listening to mp3 players or GPS.  Sometimes I'm talking on the phone.  So, we have lots of audio entertainment along the way.

Tomorrow morning the bike goes back to the dealer to have the final drive oil changed.  They like to change it after 600 miles of initial travel, but the bike was at the BMW rally in Pennsylvania when 600 miles came up.  Now it has about 1,300 miles.  Just a bit late...

The final preparation is to get packed.  I've started a packing list, and have begun making piles of stuff to pack.  From electronics (computer and Kindle) to clothes washing detergent, it all has to be identified and put somewhere on the bike.  I usually dedicate one side case to tools and bike things, the other to clothes, and the top case for electronics.  I also carry my Roadcrafter riding suit (aka Bumblebee) in a waterproof duffel bag in the seat behind me, for rain or cool weather.  Looking at weather forecasts, I'll never open the bag to get the bumblebee out!

Well, that's it for tonight.  Maybe one last post before heading out next Monday.  Maybe not.  Only way to know is to come back and look!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Gettin' Ready

Well, I'm in the midst of getting ready for the trip.  The first order of business is to get the bike ready.  With 24,000 miles on the bike, it was time for a major service to be done.  Oil and oil filter change, air filter, transmission oil change, check brake pads, and several small things to be lubricated.  So, yesterday and today I spent most of the day doing those things.  The fairings had to be removed to get to some of the things needing attention, so the bike became pretty naked to do what had to be done.

All of that went pretty well.  Oil and filter change is easy.  Transmission oil change is a little more involved, but not difficult.  Air filter was not difficult.  So, all in all, the service went well.

The tires on the bike needed to be checked to see if there was enough tread to get us out west and back.  I looked at service records and found that the front tire has 11,000 miles on it.  My records show that front tires have lasted from 15,000-17,000 miles, using a different brand of tire.  The tread looks pretty good on the tire on the bike.  But I think we'll probably ride about 7,000 miles out and back.  If that's true, I'll need a front tire before I get home.  The rear tire has about 8,000 miles on it.  I never get more than 13,000 miles on a rear tire, so it's clear that I will need a rear tire installed.

After considerable thought, I decided to replace both tires.  I had ordered new tires a couple of months ago, so they are available to be installed.  Tomorrow I'll go to Wilson and have the new rubber installed.  Then back home to reinstall the wheels and put the rest of the bike back together.

That will have most of the work done.  However I have two additional things to do.  On Friday I take the bike to the dealer to have the final drive oil changed.  The new final drive's oil needs to be changed to flush out the metal filings created when the drive was manufactured.

The final thing to be done was not anticipated.  Today I started to check out an issue with the walkie-talkie and found that the main fuse panel was not being supplied with electricity.  Checking with a tester, I decided that the relay that serves the fuse panel had gone bad.  And, of course, it's not a relay that fits in normal cars.  Google found the only distributer in USA that handles this particular relay in California.  So, a new relay has been ordered with 3 day shipping.  Hopefully it will arrive on Friday so I can install it and check things out.  Seems to always be something to do.

Next item to deal with is a packing list.  I find anymore that if I don't have a list, I forget things that I'll need.  So, I'll work on a list that I'll use on Sunday.

That's it for this post.  We're getting down to the short rows and plan to leave town a week from tomorrow (August 9).

Friday, July 29, 2011

Try Again

Well, it's a year later, and we're going to try it again.  To do the trip that didn't happen last year.  I still feel bad about the way it turned out, but even after a year to think back over it, I don't know anything I could do differently, given the circumstances.

I sold the 05 bike about 6 weeks ago.  Took a hit, financially, due to the repairs and high mileage.  But that's done now and there's nothing I could do differently.  I ended up fixing everything that was broken (driveshaft), using used parts.  Turns out the transmission was not leaking; I don't know where the fresh oil came from, but it was not the transmission or the final drive (could have been excess oil from filling the final drive, I guess).  A russian guy bought it, and I think he planned to export it to Europe.

The new bike is not quite ready to go yet.  The fuel pump controller started failing and was replaced about 2 weeks ago.  In checking out the bike after the repair, they discovered the final drive was beginning to fail.  So, it has a new final drive now.  The fluid in the drive has to be changed for the trip.  So much for BMW reliability!  I doubt that I'll buy another BMW when the 09 is gone.

Need to do the 24K maintenance too (oil and filter, air filter, trans oil change, valves).  Planning to do it Sunday or Monday.  New tires to be installed; hope to do that on Tuesday.  Flush final drive on Friday morning.

We plan to leave on the trip on or about August 9 for 3 weeks, and plan to take in the Moto GP in Indiannapolis on the way home.  So, it's about the same trip as last year's trip, but done earlier.

I decided to add on to last year's blog rather than to start a new one, thinking that bringing back some of last year's thoughts would be good (and I'm lazy; didn't want to repeat some of it).  So, this is a twofer blog, but this time two years in one blog!  Hope you enjoy it.