Friday, December 3, 2010

My Rides

Upon re-reading the latest entry to this blog, I realized that I have added another bike, this one taking place of the Gold Wing. This one, the silver one in the picture, is a Honda, a 2010 NT700V. The bike has ABS, and I have added the top box, which also serves as a backrest for Ada when she comes with me. This is the first new motorcycle I have purchased in many years, even though I had always sworn to only purchase used machines.

Truthfully, I like the old KLR650 better, especially if I am going on a trip. It just sits better and allows for a more upright seating position. If I can ever modify the 700 to match the KLR's comfort, I will keep it for much longer than the 2 years that I average for motorcycle ownership. Right now I am adding some super bright LED's to share turn signal duty with the stock lights, which are very hard to see during the daytime. I hate going down the road for miles with my turn signal blinking and vowed to do whatever I could to fix this problem. On the KLR I had the same problem, but instead of brighter lights I installed some buzzers that, at least when I am not going road speeds, I can hear them and know to cancel the lights.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More of the Lake Superior a little bit more

Kevin and I really did have a great time on this years' trip. In Thunder Bay we got his clutch cable fixed and met some nice people while listening to a blues concert from across the road. It was $40 each to get into the concert, so we were content to listen from some big rocks at a Mickie Dee's. Kevin even found some Finnish ladies who shared some Italian bakery goodies with us.

Seems like half of Thunder Bay is Italian, the other half are Finns. Seems like food is something we find the best of on the road, and we were encouraged to go to the Finn club's restaraunt, the Hoito, for Finnish pancakes. Yum!

We crossed back into the United States and headed for our next big adventure, which was taking the ferry from Manitowoc, Wisconsin to Ludington, Michigan. It was a night crossing, so we did miss seeing lots of water during the day, but the sunrise over the water was spectacular.

Now came the part of the trip when we reunited with the rest of the family. Ada, Laurie, Ella and Jacob motored up to our friends house, Pat and Joe Chaput. They have a couple of houses on Lake Michigan and invited us to vacation there. While we were there we took a dune buggy ride and enjoyed lots of beach time, including a hot dog roast right there on the beach.

And, if you turn up your speakers and listen closely, you will be able to hear the song of an ancient Indian...or was it a Chinaman????

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Jacob's video

My grandson, Jacob Kiley, got a digital camera at a yard sale and took a video of Kevin and I leaving on our Lake Superior trip. I think you will like it, especially when you hear his farewell closing!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

2010 Motorcycle Trip around Lake Superior it's been a long time since I said that this blog was not going to be continued, but I changed my mind. After all, this site has my name attached and it should be easy for whoever is following to catch up with me.

The big trip this year (on the motorcycles) will be for Kevin and I to ride counterclockwise around Lake Superior. We will start in Indianapolis once again, riding straight north to Sault St. Marie where we will cross into Canada once again. Kevin is sort of apprehensive about crossing the Mackinaw Bridge, and, to tell you the truth, I am getting some pucker factor thinking about it also.

I am not sure if we will be bringing a computer this year....last year my laptop took a beating and now is very unreliable during boot up. I like to blame the trip to Prudhoe Bay for it. I do have a new netbook, one of the tiny screen jobs, and have just not decided if I want to sacrifice it to the saddlebag gods or not.

MUCH LATER.....I have been remiss in adding to the blog, but the Lake Superior trip is now in the books. although it did not have the scope that last year's Alaska trip did, it was quite nice, even when Kevin broke his clutch cable and I had to push him to get him started for over 600 kilometers. I really did get my exercise, and Kevin got another lesson on how to overcome maladies while on the road with 2 wheels.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Giving Thanks - By Kevin

Not to be too cliché, but it seems like a lifetime since Larry and I started this trip. In actuality, we were away from home for about eight weeks. We puttered almost 10,500 miles on our single-cylinder, 650cc dual sport motorcycles. I’ve been asked, “Are you glad you did it?” Of course! Would I have gone on this trip knowing what I know now? Ignorance is bliss.

I started this trip greener than a spring pea fresh from the garden. I was a fair-weathered, newbie motorcyclist who knew next to nothing about riding in adverse conditions, and even less so on motorcycle maintenance. Larry was instrumental in helping me learn what I needed to know. Again, while I’d love to be cliché and say that he “took me under his wing”, it doesn’t convey the right fee

ling. Larry’s method of instruction, like many great teachers, is to throw you out of the nest whilst yelling down the instructions. Just do it and learn as you go, you might say. Thanks for your guidance, Larry. Thanks for the tough love.

As my own father is quick to point out, not many people have the luxury of taking an eight week vacation. It’s one of the many benefits of being Mr. Mom, the “Domestic Engineer”, as it were. But even with all the free time in the world, this trip would not have been possible without the help and fervent support of Ada and Laurie. Ada took my place in nearly all respects – cleaning, cooking, and keeping the kids in line. Laurie found some way to work eight hours, keep our finances straight and get the kids back to school. I was starting to wonder why she keeps me around at all! Without her encouraging words (OK, insistence) that I keep a photo log AND a blog AND a journal, many of the trip’s details would surely have been forgotten.

I would be amiss if I didn’t give credit to my trusty steed, the bike I now affectionately call “my little oil-burner”. That motorcycle cranked out over 240 million revolutions to get me from point A to point B, to point A again. Who needs a fancy BMW to ride around Alaska, anyway!

I was asked the other day to name my most favorite part of the whole trip. Was it the places we reached? Absolutely. Was it the people we met? You bet. How about coming home? Funny thing is, I can’t name just one favorite moment. It’s a package deal. You’ll just have to try it for yourself and find out.

As for Laurie – will she ever let me go on another long trip like this again? Give it a few years. Ignorance is bliss.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My post trip thoughts

Well, the big return to Indianapolis has finally happened. When Kevin and I turned up Carvel Avenue, side by side, we looked up the street and could see the whole family was out in the street, hastily stretching out crepe paper ‘finishing lines’ for us to break. Cheers, whistles and screams I could hear as we passed by and my odometer was registering 10,300+ final miles of our trip. There was even a couple of bursting skyrockets left over from the 4th of July making a big bang of things and a sign in the yard welcoming home Dad and Grandpa. I have to tell you that I was energized all over again yesterday from all this, but not to the point of going even one mile more. A pizza party followed with lots of camaraderie, chatter about the trip and what we had seen and even some adult beverages. Quickly said, “it’s good to be home”.

A few of life’s motorcycling lessons I learned and want to pass along to anyone who cares to take a trip of this magnitude are:

If you see an open gas station, fill ‘er up.
Don’t let an opportunity to make a stranger a friend pass by.
Take care of your equipment.
Enjoy yourself and don’t let the little things bug you.
Savor the moments, they will last a lifetime.

I cannot add my final comments to this portion of our Alaska blog without some mention of the people who made this adventure possible and those who made it much more enjoyable for Kevin and me.

Tom Bernhardt

Joe Kramer

Tim McKittrick

Gary Soderlund

Jerry Watson

Tom Hendrix and Jeff Allen

Peter and Dawna Stenros

These people, now friends, offered accommodations for us for sleeping, washing clothes and ourselves, and even shop facilities and several times great meals. Before this trip we had never even heard of them, having made contact through a motorcycle adventure group on the internet. Thank you all, and, please, stay in touch somehow.

I would be remiss if I did not include in my appreciation if I failed to mention here my wife of almost 39 years, Ada…

and my daughter, Laurie, grandchildren, Jacob and Ella. Their support that Grandpa still had enough zest for life in him to achieve my lifelong dream of a motorcycle trip to Alaska was on my mind daily.

My final thanks is to my riding companion and son-in-law, Kevin, for putting up with me and my snoring.

Friday, August 21, 2009

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go Home! - By Kevin

“Just tap you heels together three times and say the words ‘There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.’”

Only one problem, Dorothy - we aren’t, never were, and never will be in Kansas anymore. We are in bloody North Dakota where the buffalo roam, the dear and the antelope play, and the freakin’ wind NEVER EVER LETS UP! My thoughts are on only one thing as I ride the motorcycle down this straight, desolate, never ending road. Get me the heck out of this state! Thus begins “The Great Push to Indianapolis”.

North Dakota does have some redeeming features, just none that I care to mention. And in all fairness, Montana gets flat pretty darn quick too. But Montana has happy horses. I watched them running together in groups, shaking their heads up and down, and cuddling up to one another. If there is a heaven for horses, this is it. North Dakota is where the bad ponies go.

So for the next three days, we ride our motorcycles along the entire width of both states.
I am grateful for the times when the road curves to the south. It gives me a short respite from the blowing winds. Fargo is the goal – on the border of North Dakota and where the road blessedly turns to the southeast. Fifty miles short of the border, storms stop us in our tracks. NORTH DAKOTA!!!

We end up finding a very reasonably priced hotel befit of its name – the O.K. Motel in Steele, ND. They’ve undersold it, actually. For fifty bucks, it was way better than “O.K.” It was clean, had two queen beds, a sofa and a color TV. They even let us park our bikes in their personal garage. Follow this with a night at the Amvets Club drinking beer with the local yokels and you KNOW you’re in small town North Dakota.

Thankfully, the weather was beautiful the morning after our motel stay. We have traveled almost 650 miles in one day, starting from Steele, ND and ending up at the Days Inn in Portage, WI. This breaks all of our previous distance records for the trip. Tomorrow, we will end our race to Indianapolis. Sadly, our Alaska adventure ends tomorrow as well. But to quote Dorothy one last time, “There’s no place like home.”