Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Day 13: Home at Last

Well, rain finally got me. I woke to more of what I stopped last night for. However, there was no waiting it out, so I put on the rain gear - one more time - and headed out for home.

It rained from Birmingham to Montgomery, then it let up and the clouds started to abate, which allowed me to remove the hot rain gear. (Don't worry, I had more opportunities to wear it).

Crossed over the Florida State line around lunchtime and just kept going. Boy, I seemed to have forgotten just how hot it gets in Florida in August. I started looking for rain clouds.

Just prior to Brooksville, I stopped to top off with gas and put the rain gear back on. There was a severe-looking storm crossing my path just ahead and I was taking no chances. However, lady luck was once more smiling on me. The storm moved away before I got there. Still, I got showered a bit for about sixty miles. No big deal.

Pulled in to the homestead around 6:40 PM with 5,251.8 showing on the trip odometer.

All-in-all it was an excellent trip, with no traffic incidents and no mechanical problems. You can't ask for more than that.

I promised my spouse that this was the last long trip I would be making. From here on out we will either ride together or...and I hate to say it...trailer it. Uggh.

Thanks dear readers for your attention and comments. Hope you enjoyed the vicarious ride.

See the Facebook page for more pictures as I can load them.

Stay safe and dry.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Day 12: Lunch with my mom

Made it through Missouri and Tennessee unscathed by threatening weather and headed down to Mississippi to have lunch with my mother and sister.

I have traveled over 4,000 miles on this trip without incident, but I nearly dropped the bike twice on the soft, red clay that makes up the road my mom lives on. The front end just wanted to wash out. It took all my concentration and control to keep it straight. Thankfully, Lori was not there today. With the extra weight I think I would have lost it.

Despite the close call, we had a very nice visit. But, the road called and I begged off after three hours.

After negotiating the clay road once more, I pointed the headlights toward Alabama. I had clear skies and open roads until I got into Birmingham. Once there, the rain, which up until now I have evaded, caught me during rush hour. Realizing that heavy traffic and slick roads are a deadly combination for motorcycles, I opted to pull off and get a room for the night. Wise choice!

So, here I am in Birmingham. I will need to get an early start in the morning if I am to get home at a reasonable hour. So, until tomorrow, which will be my final trip blog, good night and be safe.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Day 11: Weather...what weather?

Woke to a new day and high expectations for a great ride. What I saw when I stepped outside was...FOG! Thick, dense, and pervasive. The rider staying next door said that there were severe thunderstorms moving across I-29, which I was traveling, and headed toward I-70, which I was intending to ride when I left KC. Not good!

He showed me a radar shot of the storms and it was just like he said...bad news for bikers. Well, I couldn't stay there waiting for the weather to pass, so I said a quick prayer, "God, please give me a safe passage to my destination."

With that done, I put my rain gear on (not that I did not have faith, it was foggy and wet), and started out for KC. When the fog finally cleared about fifty miles down the road, I could see the dark clouds looming in the distance. Undaunted, I pressed on.

It sprinkled on me before reaching KC, but that was all. The storm moved east and missed me (or, I missed it).

I left I-29 and turned onto I-70. Note: I-70 is a very busy commercial corridor. Lots of eighteen-wheelers.

Sill wearing my rain gear (not a faith issue... I swear), I started toward St. Louis. The storm was nowhere to be seen, I was pleased to note.

When I got close to St. Louis, the storm materialized in earnest. Dark clouds were ominous and directly in my path. Then, a little voice inside my head said, "you need gas, and you are hungry."
Indeed, that was the case. So, I pulled off and filled both tanks. In the interim, the storm moved off and I continued my journey unwashed by rain.

By now, I was growing tired and began looking for a dry haven.

Now, here I am safe and sound and thanking God for his protection. Was His hand in the weather moving out of my way? I don't know, but it doesn't matter. Whoever or whatever was involved, I am grateful.

Tomorrow I make my way to Mississippi to see my sister and mother. More after that.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Day 10: The long road back

Woke early to take Lori to the airport in Rapid City. We had a quick snack while she waited for her flight. After saying goodbye, I began making my way back to Tampa.

The first leg of the trip was cold and overcast, but no rain...until I got to Iowa. I am holed up at the Super 8 in Onawa for the night while a thunderstorm passes over. Just as well; I was planning on stopping early anyway. I don't want to ride at night.

I need to check in with my brothers to make sure they are all right. Kevin and Sherry appear to be almost home, but no word on Mark and Chris.

More tomorrow.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Day 9: Lori's Choice

Today we said goodby to my brothers and Chris, who decided to get an early start on their return trip. After breakfast, we watched as they motored away and then drove Lori's huge Suburban back to Mt. Rushmore for a longer visit. We were glad that we did, for the time was well spent.

After that, we went to a Christmas store where Lori perused over 10,000 ornaments before settling on two. I did say that this was her day, didn't I?

Then, we had lunch and went to Wall to visit Wall Drug and see the Badlands. Wall Drug was entertaining, but we were a bit disappointed by the badlands. I'm not paying $11.00 to look at barren wastelands.

We returned to the lodge and walked around the grounds. There are several abandoned mines here and we found two - one was still open, but as I had no flashlight...I opted to stay out.

We made our final drive into Custer for supper before returning to pack for the long trip home. I will escort Lori to the airport in the morning before pointing my headlight east for the three-day ride.

I will write more tomorrow from the road.

Day 8: Devil's Tower and Spearfish Canyon

After a long night of rain, we woke to clear skies and cool temps. The six of us went into Custer for breakfast before mapping out our ride. Kevin and Sherry elected to stay behind and run errands, so the rest of us headed for Wyoming and Devil's Tower - via Spearfish, SD.

The ride through Spearfish Canyon was one of - if not the best - roads I have ever ridden. It had the most picturesque scenery and challenging curves of any so far this trip.

Once we left SD, we turned our attention toward the Tower and some wide open Wyoming scenery. We saw the granite monolith in the distance, but it seemed to take forever to get there. We stopped in Hulett for lunch, then continued on our way. Finally, we arrived and were amazed at the sheer size of the thing. No wonder aliens use it as a landing zone.

The trip back was a race against the rain, which by now had become a regular occurrence in the late afternoon. This time the rain won and we had to ride an hour in the cold. But we all arrived safe, sound, and dry (we wore our rain gear).

Tomorrow I am letting Lori choose. I promised her that she did not have to ride any more this trip.

More tomorrow.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Day 7: Deadwood & Sturgis

After being here for several days looking at the peripheral sights, we finally made it to Deadwood and Sturgis to see the main event. It was a great ride on the curving back roads from Custer to Deadwood. We walked up and down Main Street and enjoyed taking pictures of the historic locations.

Sturgis was a short ride from Deadwood. We came in onto Lazelle street and quickly found a parking spot - lucky!  I can describe Sturgis with two words: no difference. Rally towns are all pretty much the same: lots of bikes, noise, high-priced merchandise, and hoardes of strange people.

Despite its similarity with everywhere else, we still enjoyed walking up and down Main Street, buying over-priced shirts, and watching all the strange people.

Later, we headed over to the Full Throttle Saloon to see what all the fuss is about. Besides being a big place, it reminded me of the Iron Horse Saloon in Ormond Beach, FL: Lots of strange people and overpriced merchandise.

Really, it was a great day despite the traffic. We all made it back safe and sound. Tomorrow, we are going to see Devil's Tower in Wyoming.  I expect to have a good time.

More when we return.