Day 6: Left Superior, WE at 7:30 AM CDT, arrived at Motel 8 in Kenora, Ontarion at 6:00 PM CDT rode 318 miles.
Thirty nine degrees. A gray angry looking sky. Rain coming down cold and hard. That picture makes you want to be in a warm comfortable place cuddled up with your honey. Right !!! Yeah, any sane guy would be there. Instead we were out on Hwy 71 headed to Internatinal Fall, MN. We had car after car after truck coming at us heading south. I looked ahead and behind me and the only vehicles that were northbound were Nolan and me, makes you think someone is trying to tell us something. Believe me this is not a fun experience. This morning when we got up Nolan exclaimed that he had frost on his bike cover, we knew we were in for a cold one then. Wasn’t too bad right at first and we were making decent time when it really turned colder and started to sprinkle. We pulled in at this rest area and changed into our cold country gear, up to this point we were just in our wet weather gear. Nice little rest area and read this interesting info sign that stated a rain drop falling here would be confused as to where to go downhill. It could either run north to the Hudson Bay, east to the Atlantic or south and bask in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. From these photos it doesn’t look too bad, but the rain is constant and really getting cold. We have stopped at several Walmarts and other places on the way looking for some decent cold weather gloves for Nolan, but never could find what he wanted. Stopped again here in International Falls at a sports store and still didn’t come up with anything, but we did run into two couples from Lakeland, FL on their Wings heading south. They told us they had encountered several bears and a moose on their way down from Thunder Bay. Had no trouble at the border crossing, went to another Walmart on the Canadian side, still no gloves. We were cold and wet so stopped at a Tim Hortons for a bowl of chili. Talked to an older guy while in there and he said he had lived there all his life and never seen so much rain and cold as they have now. Guess we’re just lucky to be experiencing this along with him. Headed up to Kenora and were planning to stay at a provincial park just into Manitoba province but it started turning much colder and we couldn’t find a park at this time of day so gave in and checked into a Motel 8. Nice room and very dry and warm. Hope for better weather tomorrow, although all the locals say it won’t be.
Day 5, left Pikes peak SP at 7:00 AM CDT, arrived at Northland RV Park in Superior, WI at 3:15 PM CDT rode 307 miles
Woke up this morning at 4:40 AM to a cacophony of bird calls. Since most of the calls were the same and I’ve seen mostly robins at this park, gotta assume those were all robins calling. I had hoped to get some shots of the sun coming up over the rivers,but it turned out to be very overcast and started out drizzling rain. The sunrise pictures turned out to be less than impressive and the thoughts of more rain didn’t make us feel any better either. We got off OK, rode across the Mississippi River into Wisconsin and into Prairie du Chien to take on fuel. Traveled up SR 35, which is called The Great River Road, north. This is a very nice road, following the river and going through small picturesque towns . . . however we were in light rain and couldn’t appreciate it as we should have. Uneventful ride up going through the rolling farmlands and towns of La Crosse, Osseo and Eau Claire. The rain finally stopped as we left La Crosse but it did turn a bit colder. Arrived at the Northland RV park early and while it doesn’t have the beauty of some of the other parks we’ve been at, they did have WIFI and I did need to get some posts out. We had some of Babes’ freeze dried dinners for supper and they were surprisingly tasty. Then I had to get on the computer. I’m not very good on this and it takes me so long, referring to notes and backtracking, that it was 10 PM before I could get down to sleep. Turning really cool now and the wind has been blowing about 20 mph all day. Heard a weather forecast earlier that it will get down to 37 degrees tonight. I brought the cribbage board, but we have yet to find the time to play. Babe just told me we were twenty miles short of going 2,000 miles. We go across the border into Canada tomorrow morning.
Day 4: Left Wodtna SP about 7:30 AM CDT and arrived at Pikes Peak SP near McGregor, IA about 4:00 PM CDT, rode 317 miles.
Since we’re in bed by 9 or 9:30, pretty well worn out from riding all day, we’ve been waking up about 5 AM every morning and are generally ready to go by about 7 . This morning we left a little later as I had some computer work that had to be done before I forgot everything. As we were eating breakfast, about 8 Canada geese came flying into that little lake here at the campground. Boy, did they ever make a racket with all that honking. Just imagine what kind of racket there would be if there were hundreds or thousands of them. After landing in the water they came out on land and walked right up to the folks that were feeding them yesterday evening. Started out this morning without a cloud in the sky and we crossed our fingers hoping that it would continue throughout the day. Crossed over into Iowa at 8:15 this morning and were really making great time on a very nice road. Took me about an hour to realize the nice road we were on wasn’t the correct road. That was no real problem though as we were able to take a small secondary road that brought us back to where we needed to be. This road was a very local road and doubt many tourists ever got on it, so we go to see some things that most people didn’t get to see. One of my favorite Ziggy cartoons shows Ziggy at a detour on the road of life and he says “what if our road in life does come up with detours and side trips that takes us off our projected paths, wouldn’t it be a terrible waste of time and life if we just let our selves be aggravated and frustrated rather than enjoy the ride?” That may have not been exactly what Ziggy said but you get the idea. Anyway,our ride today took us through rolling farmlands that you would think as typical of the Iowa countryside. Most of the fields were still not plowed in and replanted with new corn. We talked to a local fellow in Burlington and he said they have had so much rain that the farmers hadn’t been able to plant much yet. Traveled up through Davenport and Dubuque but the ride wasn’t too exciting. Arrived here at Pike’s Peak SP with plenty of afternoon left. This area was named by Zebulon Pike as he was scouting for a new fort in the area. Yep, this is the same Zeb that named Pikes Peak in Colorado. He really did like to toss his name around. These bluffs are about 500 ft high and overlook the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers. This shot looks over into Wisconsin and this one looks back into Iowa. The views look off to the east into Wisconsin and are pretty dramatic. While enjoying the this a bunch of soldiers asked us to take their pictures and we asked then to return the favor. I had to get a shot of this Shepherd, he looks just like my Jake, I still get a tear in my eye thinking of him. I think I’m going to get up before sunrise to see if I an get some shots of the sun coming up in the east. Had pork chops with orange picante sauce, sweet potatoes, green beans and apple sauce for supper. Have no more food left, so will have to go shopping tomorrow. We plan to stay just south of Duluth tomorrow evening.
Day 3: Left Canal Campground, Grand Rivers, KY about 7 AM CDT, arrived Wodonta State Park in La Grange, MO about 5 PM CDT, rode 332 miles
Last night, just after Nolan came back from taking a shower, it seemed that the bottom fell out of the sky, then a steady rain set in for the night. It was kind of nice hearing the rain come down on the roof, which was about a foot above my head, knowing that I was warm and dry in my camper. Fortunately by the time morning came the rain had stopped and although everything was pretty wet, at least we weren’t packing up in a downpour. We took on fuel just south of Paducah and caught a glimpse of blue sky and that got us thinking we were finally going to get some clear weather. Wrong . . . it started again just as we got into Paducah and kept up for most of the day. During some of the squalls, when the rain and wind were driving pretty hard, the temps dropped down into the 50’s and that’s too cold for us. The weather did clear a bit just as we were crossing the Mississippi River coming into St Louis and that made our transit through the city much easier. Just west of St Louis we turned north on SR 79 which is also known as the Little Dixie Highway of the Great River Road. It follows the west bank of the Mississippi and is supposed to be a great motorcycle road. Really it was pretty boring until we got to Clarksville, MO. This is the first time we got a glimpse of the river from the road, so we went to the old downtown area (the whole town seemed old) to see what we could see. We stopped at a little park to make a sandwich and Nolan wanted to use the bathroom in the local boat club there on the river. I saw the door had a card type entry system and was probably a members only club. It was, but one of the guys came and asked what we wanted. They seemed a bit defensive at first but soon warmed up and we all became “buds”. They asked if we would stop by on the way back. They were saying the river was down quite a bit from two weeks ago, water had come up to just under the building and in the flood of ’02, it reached halfway up the windows. The road really improved from there with elevation changes, long sweepers and beautiful views of the river. We came to Louisiana, MO and went to the Riverview Cemetery to see the river from 550 ft, this is called The Pinnacle and is the highest point on the river. Nice old cemetery. I like cemeteries, they have a way of making us all equal and tend to humble us a bit. Continued up 79 and really enjoyed the road. Went through Hannibal and although we looked really hard, never did see Mark Twain. Nolan said it was because we didn’t call ahead and make reservations. Stopped at a Walmart (they’re everywhere) and picked up some contact cleaner to see if it will help my CB out, believe it will just take time to dry out. Stopped for the night here in La Grange and this is a very nice park we’re in. It’s right off the highway and while it was very easy to get to, we’ll be able to hear the traffic all night. As we were eating supper we were greeted by two families of Canada geese. They hung around us for a while util they realized we weren’t going to feed them, then headed off for better pickings. Had cube steak, mashed potatoes with gravy and peas for supper. Pretty good day
Day 2 left Macon, GA about 7 AM arrived at Canal Campground in Grand Rivers, KY about 5:39 PM CDT, rode 470 miles
Up and off pretty early this morn, started out a little rough with overcast, windy conditions then tapered right on down to terrible as the rains set in. Seemed that as soon as we got into Georgia the rains really started up, rained most of last night and now today. Reminded me of a song by Nat King Cole, “A rainy night in Georgia”, and rainy day and rainy night . . . I think you get the picture. Rained so much that it caused my CB to quit working, so Nolan had to just ride along in silence. It did clear up a bit as we came into Atlanta, thought we should be able to just shoot straight on through on I-75, bad move there as we crawled our way north. Wound up actually coming to complete stops on several occasions, just glad the rain let up some then. In spite of the rough weather we made quite a few miles as I wanted to get to this campground before they closed for the night. When we came into Kentucky the rain lessened and when we arrived at the campground were able to set up in dry weather. Had Santa Fe chicken, chicken pasta and lima beans for supper. As you can see Nolan had a toast all ready for our first evening meal on the road he said it was ready last night but didn’t feel it was appropriate to serve it in a BBQ joint. After the meal Nolan went about his scullery duties and did a fine job of cleaning up. Don’t know if I mentioned it but my job is to cook the meals and Nolan is to clean up afterwards, works for me. We went a bunch of miles today in some pretty rough conditions, but it should be much easier tomorrow. This campground is run by the Corp of Engineers and is really nice, very clean and everything is up to date. Also, with the Golden Age Passport we got in for half price at $8.00 (or $4.00 each). We try to get into these parks just using one site and of course only one fee, a lot of other parks won’t allow that. Most of this area that we’re going through is what we already have seen and with all the rain today can’t take any pictures. That will change tomorrow as we get into new territory.
Day 1 Left Merritt Island, FL stayed the night at a Motel 6 in Macon, GA. Rode 424 miles
Well, seems that we were able to leave as planned at 8 AM. Went by Mom’s to say goodbyes, then on to pick up Nolan. Sandy and I went up I-95 from home to see how the trailer was behaving and it didn’t behave very well at all, need to change some weight around. arrived at Nolan’s about 9 AM. Took the obligatory pictures. This is how we look to start out, all cleaned up, our gear organized and ready to go. We’ll take a picture upon our return in the same place and see if there’s any difference. I did put two gallons of water in the gas can I carry to see if the additional weight would help. As we took off it did seem to help out some but it took another two stops and continued adding of water before I finally filled it up and now the trailer appears to be quite stable. Started to rain just before leaving Florida and had to stop at the Georgia Welcome Center to put on our foul weather gear. The rain and wind was coming in quite hard along with some lightening so felt a short stay would be in order. Turned out the stay was over an hour and according to the TV in the Center it was going to be with us all the way up I-75 to Macon. We felt we weren’t getting anywhere just sitting around so off we went. In the rain and the wind and more rain. In fact it rained on us the whole way up to Macon. We made our town but instead of camping out at Tobesofkee Rec Area, wound up staying a a Motel 6, at least we can dryout. Really a pretty uneventful day and no pictures, maybe tomorrow will be a bit more dry.
0800 Hours, 26 May 2009. This is our anticipated Liftoff for Alaska. My riding buddy, Nolan Polley, and I plan on riding north to pick up the three remaining states that I haven’t been into (Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin) then on through Canada and up the Alcan into Alaska. We’ll probably spend about a month cruising around Alaska as there is so much to see before heading home. The trip will take from two to three months and we expect to cover about fifteen thousand miles. We don’t really have a time table and won’t have to spend twelve hour days in the saddle as I’ve had to do on other trips. Although we’ve known each other about six years we’ve really never ridden too much together, so we went on a little shake down run two weeks ago to see how the equipment will work and how we will work together. I’m on my ’99 Gold Wing pulling an Aspen Sentry popup camper and Nolan is on his ’03 Wing pulling a Bunkhouse. We spent two days going to two different Florida parks, setting up and breaking down, just as we would on our trip. We’ll fix our own breakfasts and lunches and I’m the cook for suppers, Nolan will clean up the dishes. It was kind of scary that everything went as well as it did. We had no problems with not having the right equipment, everything set up and brokedown as it should. The meals were great and Nolan did a fine job of cleaning up . . . even whistling while he worked. I’m beginning to feel real good about this trip. I wanted to make a trip log of this journey and had no idea (still don’t) how to do it. My niece, Carol Wilson, said “no problem”, we’ll set you up with a web site, you just take a few pictures and write about what you see and feel. Yea, that’s easy to say until you have to sit down at the keyboard and acually come up with something to say, much less try to figure out how to make all this go over the internet. I’ll need a lot of help.
I was recently asked how my camping rig works out while on the road, so felt a few visual aids would help out. I keep almost everything in the storage area of the camper. (insert) The two plastic boxes on the left store the food and cooking gear, the two on the right have all my clothes and the large bin in the center houses all the miscellaneous stuff. Almost everything is contained in the boxes. emergency items such as first aid, flares, etc are in the left saddlebag of the bike, computer and electronics in the trunk and breakfast/snack items are in the right saddlebag. A fifty quart cooler is on the trailer tongue with a 2 1/2 gallon fuel can behind that. This is how the unit would look while rolling. (insert) In the event of bad weather and we can pull into a campground, I an leave the camper hooked up to the bike and be at this stage (under cover and out of the rain) within 45 seconds of putting the kickstand down. (insert) The interior, when opened up, makes into a queen sized air mattress with foam topper that since I’m traveling alone will just hold my sleeping bag. Outside the bed is about a 5′ by 5′ dressing area. I added a few changes to make my life a little more comfortable. I cut a piece of carpet for the dressing area and since it’s not quite square had to paint arrowns to indicated the direction it should go down. (insert) I didn’t have a real good way to hang the lights and had to have them be able to be removed and stored when I’m closed up. Fortunately the framework is internal, so I took a plastic pipe clamp, glued two button magnets where the screws would go, glued a metal plate on the back of the plastic light. (insert) Now I slip the clamp over the framework and the light attaches to it. (insert) When I lay down at night I needed a place to put my glasses, watch, phone, etc and putting them on the bed frame wasn’t the answer. I took a 3/4 inch plastic plumbing T, made a verticle cut on the long side, took my torch out and heated up the cut to flare it out to fit around the frame, riveted a piece of Velcro around the top half to hold it onto the vertical framework and stuck another piece of plastic pipe in the horizontal that I had cut off flat to accept a plastic bowl that was liberated from my wife’s kitchen. Works good. (insert) Table top space was always a problem. The area of my small aluminum table was rapidly used up, so made a 15 inch by 45 inch table out of an old street speed sign that rests on the bed frame when not in use (insert) then folds out when needed. (insert) The sign was a little springy so had to make a stiffener out of angle aluminum. None of these “improvements” are going to win any awards for beauty but they serve a purpose to make my life a little more comfortable. Nothing in any book I’ve ever read about camping said you had to be uncomfortable.
A few days ago we were visiting with some friends and they had some other folks there also. As usual, the conversation turned around to my upcoming trip. One of the younger ladies (most ladies seem so young anymore) pointed out that it was really great that people as old as I was would still consider going off on a trip of the magnitude. I pointed out that if she thought I was too old, it was a good thing my riding buddy wasn’t around as he would really be offended. I told her he was 72 and this was his fourth motorcycle trip to Alaska, turns out that Nolan is actually 74, and I was having a tough time just keeping up with him. This caused me to think a little. Am I really too old to drive fifteen thousand miles on a bike and camp out for two to three months? I don’t feel too old . . . no aches or pains. My doctors say I’m in fine condition, but then if I’m really in fine condition why am I going to doctors to confirm this in the first place. I guess I’ll make this a test and let everyone know how old I really appear to be when we get back in August.
Man, I’m not too old, “I have miles to go before I sleep”.