Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thursday, June 30

Forgot that yesterday I finally got to use one of the Holiday gas cards my co-workers gave me for retirement. Sure felt good ...

The day dawned a bit better. Not warm, but certainly not raining or hailing or tossing lightning at us. We decided to visit the state capitol building. It was worth visiting. There was no one around so we just walked in and wandered. It's beautiful, old wood, stained glass and marble.

From there we headed to Butte ... to the Harley shop, of course. Needed that Harley shirt. I'd been through there last year and they didn't have any dip dots or dealer pins. This year they did. Yay! Got them, and a couple of other things, too. It was an excellent stop.

We got on our rides and headed west to Drummond. At that point we went south on Highway 1 to Anaconda. It's a beautiful road and enjoyable. There are old train tracks, a river and the day was cool to cooler. Birdie had to put on her heated vest. It was 62 degrees and then we went higher to the 6,400 foot elevation. We'd be in the sun, go around a curve and hit a wall of clouds, then around another and into the sun again. It was a mixture of weather, but no rain. Nice. There was off and on wind, though ... seems like it's everywhere.

I saw a coyote and in the very next pasture there was a herd of sheep with a watch llama standing at attention. He knew there was something that wasn't right.

Then going around a corner just off to the side of the road down in the ditch there was a doe in all the grass. She was a gorgeous sight. I never tire of seeing them.

Got back onto I-90 and stopped to get gas near Butte before heading back to Belgrade to meet up with my friend and spend the night. As we did, I turned to Birdie and said a good steak sure would taste good, and we're in Montana. Where better to have a steak? I'm a chicken and seafood girl, but sometimes MEAT just seems like the thing to do.

Jan took us to a place near I-90 about 12 miles from her place, called the Oasis. The steaks were mouthwatering and delicious ... relish tray, salad, bread, baked potato AND a chocolate sundae. It just doesn't get much better than that.

Back to the house and to bed. BUT before I do, I have to finish a story I started on Tuesday, June 28, about the elk. I thought I might be hallucinating. I had told Birdie we had to stop on the way back, and we did. We walked across the four lanes and there it was ... standing on the other side of the fence in a pond. The most beautiful elk ... made of barbed wire with what appeared to be marbles for eyes. Fools. Lol ... A couple stopped to ask if we were okay. Yep, just stopped to see this thing. The guy said a lot of people shoot it in the fall during hunting season. We had a great laugh about that.

All for now.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday, June 29

Got on the road a little earlier than planned. It didn't take long to lose that half hour. We stopped to gas up and the pumps wouldn't take our cards. Inside we couldn't understand what the guy was telling us, and he couldn't figure out how to reset the pump for us. He told us to go to different pumps. Birdie's still didn't work. Lost 15 minutes or more there. Untrained personnel is a no-no if you are in the service business. He couldn't reach anyone on the phone to help him, and there we stood, and other people were waiting to pay and pump, too.
We finally got on the road and enjoyed a nice leisurely ride to LethBridge. Birdie's GPS took us right to the shop, so I'm currently okay with it since I'd probably never found this shop on my own. Or through asking a lot of times for directions.
Brad, the mechanic at Lethbridge Harley Davidson, took a look at the red light issue on my bike. He found a number of issues ... partly because he'd seen the problem before on an '01 (which this one also is). There's a battery plate that is painted and the cable going through it sometimes uses the plate to charge and run the electrical. It gets corroded and then the electicity is actually going through the plate. In addition, the battery cable was pinched and broke through the sleeve, which didn't create a problem, there were spacers missing from both battery terminals and the threads were stripped on one bolt. So that altogether was causing strange readings and an engine light problem. Wow, I'm very impressed with Brad. It was well worth the stop.
While at the shop there was a reverse trike called a Campagna T-Rex. The gentleman who owned it was there and I chatted with him for quite a while. It was a space age-looking type of machine, very sleek and cool, and pearl white. He said it's fast. Would love to see it run. It's a two-seater, with a roll bar and seat belts, but it's classified as a reverse trike. It was fun talking to him about it. It was the second one he had purchased, and I understand they run about $75,000 (maybe that's Canadian).
Left Lethbridge and were looking for booze, Gibson's Rye Whiskey, 18-year. For a friend. Six stops later still had not located it and settled for the 12-year one.
Had an interesting ride, avoiding most of the rain and only getting sprinkled on for the most part. Some wind but even that wasn't anything real ugly.
We stopped at a scenic overlook. A van with some Japanese tourists stopped and started talking with us. One lady was real talkative and said Birdie and I were mother/daughter. We told her no, but she still figured we were. Too funny. They are following much of the same routes we are, going the same places, which was interesting. It was great fun talking to them and they took a photo for us. I may get some of them uploaded at some point.
The rivers are still very swollen. We crossed the Missouri several times, and while it's beautiful to see the rivers so full and lively, and the surrounding areas so green and lush, it's sad to know that people are losing livelihoods, and other things that add to their quality of life.
We visited the Great Falls shop, to get the required T-shirt. I called Jan and she said there was a big storm coming in, winds gusting to 60 mph, rain, lightning and hail. We decided to overnight in Helena and go into Belgrade on Friday. We'll maybe visit the capitol building and ride around the area spending a leisurely day.
Birdie and I had dinner at a Perkins, picked up a couple of items at K-Mart and then I wanted to drop a couple of dollars at a little poker and keno casino called Dotty's. I knew a lady named Dottie a while back, a lovely old lady I met through Chugach. She lived in Florida and I visited her once before she passed. So, it was in her memory that I wanted to go in. She was quite religious, so maybe she's turning over in her grave??? She'd know I did it with the best of intentions and laugh about how I am.

Finally back to the barn, to do a load of laundry.  Boring!!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Monday, June 27
Wanted to be on the road early so I'd get to Jan's in Belgrade, MT at a reasonable time of day. It's going to be a long one. Ended up being 605 miles, which is a good cut toward Million Mile Monday that the Harley Owners Group does every year. Got the miles logged.

As usual I forget some of the critical information, such as blinding sun when you're riding east. But ya just gotta suffer for your craft, and mine is riding. Hobby, passion. Onward.

I'd gone to get my electric jacket liner and gloves and in looking for the hookup on the bike, could not find it. My battery was changed recently and I think it was not replaced. But I had a schedule to keep. I put on a few extra clothes and my heavy gloves and got on the road about 7 a.m. It was 43 degrees, but a hardy Alaskan girl can handle that. My feet were cold, my hands were cold, my core not too warm. I clenched my teeth to keep them from chattering so hard they'd split my lip open. I saw some beautiful country. And then I realized why it was so cold ... I was up in high elevation at the continental divide and there was snow. Oh good grief. It suddenly felt even colder. I stopped to take photos and eat a protein bar.

I prefer running 60-65 mph, and the bike which I've now named Tobiano which is taken from the paint horses with round-shaped markings. I had never thought of it before, and the name was a long time coming for her.
Anyway at 60-65 the bike gets about 50+ miles to the gallon, at 70-75 about 40, and over 75 the miles per gallon drops to about 30. So, I have a preferred speed. Besides I can see lots more then, and that's why I ride, to see things and have an enjoyable ride.

This ride has also been diffferent in that my bladder needs more stops than my gas tank. Usually I can run a tank of gas, but this time, not. Does that mean I'm over-hydrated? Maybe. I've tried to drink a lot, but it sure gets tiring stopping every 50-75 miles, not to mention losing time.

I've seen a lot of places where water doesn't belong, trees in the middle of rivers, and sand bags and dirt piled up around buidings to keep the water out. Many of the rivers, the Yellowstone and Missouri to name a couple, are way high, and there are a lot of bridges that are being repaired after being damaged.

Saw something I'd not seen before ... a rail car being hauled on a tractor trailer. Interesting to see as I passed it.

Stopped at a rest stop, you know why, and when leaving forgot to tie off a strap. I saw it in the shadow behind the bike and when I stopped realized what I'd done. Not a good thing to do, but ended well. I'd been in a rush to get out of the stop because I wasn't comfortable when a bunch of guys were acting strange ... yeah, imagine. I might be locked and loaded, but not enough bullets ... lol.

Rode through the Wind River Canyon toward Thermopolis, WY. It's one of my favorite rides, with the river running along the road, the curves that say 55 but you know you can take at 70 or so in a nice, easy run. There were even the three tunnels, one after another, that you go through, then look left and you see the rail tunnels along the hillside. It's a beautiful ride, and I've done it a few times, and don't tire of it.

Near Cody there was a sign that said motorcycles beware, look for an alternate route ... due to construction on Highway 120. Well, I ignored that sign. It was 10 miles ... a lot of gravel and hard-packed dirt. We Alaskans would think it was like a regular road. We should be so lucky to have that for construction. Made it through with looks from the drivers of the big equipment and the construction workers.

By 12:30 p.m. The temperature was in the low 80s, but I was still cold and wearing my jacket, but with lighter gloves. I never did take off the jacket.

Lots of deer and some antelope. Had one deer run across in front of me, and another right next to the road, looking like the proverbial deer in the headlights ... looking, not knowing which way to go, left, right, left. Luckily it went off the road further.

Got to my friend's and we went out for a great Italian supper. And then I was tuckered and in for the night ... to bed, to bed.

Tuesday, June 28

Was great to spend a short evening with my friend, and a few hours this morning. Birdie and I will be back this way on Wednesday.

Today I ride to meet Birdie in Claresholm, Alberta, Canada. I left about 9:20 a.m. and went to gas up. As I stopped at the gas station I noticed my battery light was on. I headed over to the Belgrade Harley shop which was very close. As it turned out it was an engine light. I was told the stator, battery and regulator all checked out and they reset it and it didn't come on again. So off I went.

By the time I was half way to Helena the light had come on again. I phoned the shop and they said to go ahead and keep going and it was probably just a bad light, so I was going to stop at Great Falls. Blew through without seeing the shop, and without getting gas. I should have stopped.

I rolled into Shelby, MT., with 172 miles on the tank, and needing 4.130 gallons of gas. It's a 4.2 gallon tank. I was running 55 mph and hoping I'd make it. I'd been running harder since the speed limit is 75 mph ... wow, I sure breathed a sigh of relief, and promised myself I'd not do that again.

On the road about 15 miles from the border crossing I saw under a solo tree what appeared to be a huge and beautiful elk. In retrospect, I thought about it and it looked like a reindeer, big, dark brown, horns dark with velvet. As I thought about it, I remembered coming through this same area last year returning home from Sturgis, and riding in the dark. I saw a large elk then, too. Now I'm thinking maybe I'm hallucinating, or someone is playing a strange prank. I will stop at that mileage post on the way back to check it out ... very strange.

This time I figured I'd see the shop in Lethbridge and stop there. Nope. So, gassed up and tried to blow through there, too. However, typical of me, I did not take the right road and had to backtrack a mile and ask directions three times before I found my way.

At 6 p.m. I pulled into Claresholm and a few minutes later found the Bluebird Motel, one that Two Bike has wanted to stay at. I got registered and then took photos so I can send them to him. It's a quaint little place, where you park outside your door. The rooms have been refurbished, and have antiques in them. Our room has a TV stand that is an old Singer sewing machine stand. It's a large room, with two queen beds, and is very clean. Wi-fi is definately a plus, too.

Birdie got in about 7:44, just in time for us to go get a bite to eat and take a little walk to stretch our legs. We were both starving. Was good to see her, know she'd arrived without incident and we can now start our excellent motorcycle adventure.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday, June 26
Still wasn't on the road as early as I wanted today. But it was a fine day for riding. I didn't see anything live, just road kill. Bummer. And a lizard that ran across the road in front of me.
I started in Page, Arizona, and went west to Kanab, Utah, on Highway 89. There was only a gentle wind from the bike cutting through the air. I love riding in Utah with the red rocks and all the formations. This highway is especially beautiful as it follows rivers with rock walls reaching to the skies. I followed it until it became 189, and then ended. I hopped onto the slab called 80 and headed east to Wyoming.
I stopped to take a photo of some pelicans, but couldn't get anything great. Bad luck on my part. I scared them when I stopped and the others then took off out of good camera range. There must have been a couple dozen of them.
It started to get a little late, so decided to stop in Evanston, Wyoming for the night. As I was getting my gear off the bike my cell phone rang. It was Harvey checking on me since the tracker hadn't marked me past Richfield. Yep, I'm A-okay, but it's nice to know people get concerned. I called Hobbs later when I got in the room and he'd tried calling, too, but didn't get me. Thank you, everyone.
I figure I'll get a good night's sleep and hit it hard tomorrow. Want to get to Bozeman, Montana, and have dinner with my friend before crashing at her place.
So, a short blog, my friends.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Birdie and Peppermint's Excellent Motorcycle Adventure

Birdie and Peppermint's Excellent Motorcycle Adventure –2011

Wednesday, June 22

Flight day for me, work day for Birdie. I had a bit of a problem checking in with my luggage, but soon got it all straightened out. I'm not used to checking any luggage when heading out for a motorcycle trip since I have duplicates of everything in Arizona. Then it was on to the security checkpoint. I saw Birdie from a distance and waved.

I had everything out of my pockets, my computer, cell phone, camera, sandals, reading material, journals, all in the bins. I still set off the bells and whistles. I thought it was my earrings, large silver ones, until I remembered ... and the security person said it was lower than my head ... that I'd had the knee replacement and was sporting a chrome and titanium knee. So, it was the total checkout for me. I was thinking of Zookeeper and how he'd be revelling in the patdown from head to toe, that bit of affection and attention that he craves. Soon I'd been scrutinized to the security agent's satisfaction, and laughed at from the distance by Birdie. I'd make her pay for that, or maybe not share the Starbucks coffee card I'd gotten from my good friend Spinner as a retirement gift.
Being hungry, as usual, I stopped for a chicken Caesar salad at Humpy's prior to finding out if I was going to be flying, compliments of Biker Bill, and boarding my flight. This will probably be another of those trips where I try the Caesar salad everywhere, looking for ones better than those I've had before. One of the best is in California, and maybe I'll get there again. It's at the Four Seasons Bistro and Wine Shop in Calistoga. Jaz and I went there a few years ago and I kept the card because I'd enjoyed it so much. I'll say Humpy's Caesar at the airport is not in the Top 20.

Birdie came and spent a few minutes chatting while she was on her break. We'll meet again in Alberta, at the Bluebird Motel on Tuesday, June 28. I've got the reservation. The reason to meet at the Bluebird comes from Two Bike passing this motel multiple times on his way to and from Sturgis, and never being able to stay because it always comes too early in the day. I passed it on my ride back in 2010, and it was the wrong time of day for me, too.

It's in Claresholm, north of Lethridge and is the kind of motel many of us like – small, one story with a door for each room so you can park right outside, load and unload easily, and just enjoy the small, comfortable and cozy feel of a mom-pop kind of establishment. You usually meet some of the most interesting folks in these places.
At boarding time, I was lucky enough to get first class on the Anchorage to Salt Lake leg of my journey. Roomy seats, lots of water, and yes, a meal. Of course I'd be fed. I'd already eaten. Taking one for the home team, I ate again, but not all ... chicken Marsala, some type of rice that I didn't eat, aspargus, a beautiful salad with spinach, craisins, feta cheese and walnuts with a raspberry vinigrette, pretzel roll (new to me, but good), and tirimisu, which I took a bite of ... and didn't finish since I don't care for that ... yay, my diet aid for the day.

So, I'm sitting here at 30 or 35,000 feet, enjoying the sun streaming in through the windows to my right, and starting the blog writing.

Thursday, June 23

I got here safe and sound last night, as did my luggage. Verlie was waiting for me, and we headed off to get a salad, talk and catch up a bit and then head home. I was really tired. She had to wake me this morning. I'd heard her hair dryer as she got ready for work, but then zonked out again. Oh well. I'm on vacation. Not retirement right now, but V A C A T IO N!!!

Verlie has gone to work, I'm drinking coffee, and while we plugged my little computer in, I can't connect. I believe it's because I'm set up for wireless and don't know how to do the landline thing for the computer. That's okay. I'll post on FB from my phone until I get to a wireless connection once I start the bike trip.
Today I'll relax, maybe get in the pool, go through my stuff and get packed up partially for my departure on Saturday or Sunday. By my reckoning it's about 1500 or so miles to get to Alberta and the Bluebird Motel. That should be fairly easy in three days, or a few long days if it's further. Not like that hasn't happened before where I've miscalculated. Lol. Just another good day's ride.

Temperature at 9 a.m. was already 90 degrees. Supposed to be 110 today here in Phoenix.

Same old dilemma ... what size jeans will I wear? I have eight pairs stored at Verlie's, 10s, 12s and 14s. So I always have to try them on to figure which ones to take. While I can fit the 10s and they're comfortable, the 12s are the ones I'll take ... more comfortable when riding for hours and hours and hours. I think this time I'll bring the others home with me. I've had a complete wardrobe here, with doubles of everything else like electrics and boots, gloves, jackets and the like. Time to downsize a bit. So that's the major clothing issue out of the way.
The next one is determining which swimsuit to take with me ... the turquoise or the brown/tan multi-color. Oh the decisions one must make while traveling. But traveling on the bike is different. There's only so much space, and the cop Road King does not have all the storage I'm used to on the Ultra. It's a solo seat, so no extra bag on the back seat, and no tour pack. Joe (Ver's husband) fixed me up with a bag on the luggage rack, so with that and the saddlebags, that's it. And I carry more stuff now ... computer, cell phone, tracker.

Time to go check out more stuff and make more decisions.It's 3 p.m., and the temperature is 108 degrees. I've spent a busy day, relaxing a bit, but doing things getting ready. Even so, it has not been without event.
I went in the pool after choosing the suit to take with me, and was doing water aerobics. After a bit of time bouncing up and down, stepping sideways, and swimming across the pool a few times, something just did not seem right. Yep, I'd bounced my top end right out of my suit. Believe me, I'm glad there is a high fence between the neighbors and my friend's place. Strapped myself back in and continued on. It was fun, and very refreshing at that time of day.

Scooped a bit of stuff from the pool, ate cereal, talked to the 2012 Rally Coordinator for the HOG rally to let her know I'd help, sorted clothes some more, showered and got ready for the day, played on the phone games and then decided it was time to go through the bike as I was hoping to lighten the load some. I was able to toss some things, and set others aside to take home. Lighter is better as long as I have some warm clothes, my electrics and raingrear stowed in a saddlebag somewhere. While I wasn't out in the sun directly, I was in the garage and eventually had to seek shelter inside as sweat was running down my forehead into my eyes. I can finish some of this later as most of the sorting is finished. Now it's mostly just loading up what I take for the trip. And drink, drink, drink ... water, of course.

Verlie got off work and so we went shopping to get a few of the last minute things I always need. It also included dinner at Cracker Barrel which is one of my favorites, and the grilled catfish. From there to a grocery store, and when I went to pay I realized I did not have my credit card. P A NI C!!! With a capital P. We tracked back but it wasn't anywhere to be found. I looked on my phone and located a phone number (I love my phone), called and they had it in the safe. We'll pick it up in the morning. How I hate doing stupid stuff like that. The clerk handed me my receipt but not my credit card. My sstomach settled down ... but it was a hard 15 or 20 minutes.

Ver and I came back and hopped in the pool about 11 or later. It was so nice, in the dark watching the stars. We're all looking at the same stars, you, me, her.

Friday, June 24

Slept in until about 7:30. That's really late for me. Loving that for a change. We had coffee, got ready to go and then went to pick up the credit card ... definately first item on the list for today.

Then it was a busy but ordinary day ... Mexican food at a place called Abuelo's where they gave me the senior plate of a chili relleno. Did I really ask for the senior plate? I think not, but I got it, ate it all and it was wonderful. I should have ordered two of them.

We got pedicures. Good thing. My toe nails were so long I probably could have scaled a tree. But now my pretty little cranberry-painted toes have white polka dots. I be styling now ... and will cover them all up with motorcycle boots. Then shopping for an outfit for Verlie for a wedding, picking up the last few little things and home to enjoy the pool. I'd also heard from some folks who live down here and we'll meet them for breakfast in the morning, and then I'll head out ... north on 17 to Flagstaff firstly. At least I don't need to stop at that Harley shop. Been there, done that, bought more than one T-shirt and a pair of white sunglasses one trip. So I'll pass and ride on north, north, north, Canada is calling and my friend Birdie is starting out on her ride south.

For dinner? Kettle corn, the best cantalope I've eaten in a while and strawberries. Hey, I can do that. I'm on vacation. I believe in vacationing from retirement because ... you can.

Saturday, June 25

Up at 6:30 and packed and ready to go at 8 a.m. Verlie and I went to meet Shelly and Doug for breakfast. They had their grandbaby with them. Was so nice to see them and have a chance to visit. Hopefully Ver and I can ride with their group when I come back through.

Got on the road a little after 10 running the slab, 17 to 89. It was hot, then hotter and hotter. It was at about the 5,000-foot elevation that it cooled a little, but didn't really feel good until I reached 7,000 feet. It didn't last nearly long enough, though, and it was back down the hill. I hit hellacious winds, and was pretty much running sideways. There were dirt devils hundreds of feet high, looking like brown sand tornadoes, and sand blowing across the road. It was not a super fun day ... but guess it's still better than working.

I decided to overnight in Page, AZ, up near the Utah border. I got tired of fighting the wind and sand and heat, and decided to stop and go try another chili relleno ... maybe this is not the Caesar salad run, but the chili relleno run? That's two of them in two days. They are soooo great.

I'd wanted to get into Utah today, but tomorrow will work.. North, young woman, go north.