Thursday, August 29, 2013

We're home ... Milwaukee ... the place it all began

It's a go.  We're ready to rock and roll.  Let the Milwaukee times begin.
 The last day (Wednesday, August 28), we were going down the home stretch, heading for the “homeland” where the pilgrimmage ends, Milwaukee!!! The home of our Milwaukee Iron … iron horses, Harley-Davidson motorcycles. It's where it all began, and we've been traveling to get there to celebrate 110 years of motorcycle madness, wonderfulness.

Everyone was getting lined up in the parking lot to get our instructions before heading out.
Waiting for the briefing.

Taren and her husband, Jim.  Enjoyed chatting with her at various times.  HD has some great folks in their organization.
Taren from HD was on the entire ride from Alaska, and now other Milwaukee folks joined us. They would lead us the last few hundred miles, with the first stop being the Harley shop at Oconomowoc.

We had a pre-ride briefing from our Milwaukee leader, who told us where we going, the route and the exit we would use to gas up for the final push.

We rode as a group, about 25 of us, on occasion getting separated, but running the interstate mostly together. The Rogue Riders were wearing their orange Alaska Rogue Rider shirts, we were all staying in our lanes, looking great as a group, and I'm sure impressing those who saw us … mostly. When we passed, it looked like a giant snake, moving from one lane to the other. It was an accomplishment and looked very cool. Congratulations on a great ride with everyone arriving safely. I was so excited to be part of this ride and proud to be with this group of incredible riders.

The lines were perfect.  This was the group behind me.
One of the special happenings along the route was not far from the shop, on an overpass, there were several people with a sign – WELCOME ALASKA HARLEY'S. Wow. That was incredibly nice, and made me a little teary, knowing I was a part of something very special and a once in a lifetime event. There won't be another 110th.

We all parked rather neatly.  Wheels left, everything looked good.

The corn on the cob was excellent.

Birdie found a pair of heated boots.  Her load is now officially taller than she is.

Was there a reason the ambulance was parked near the Harley shop?  Is it because so many of us are old and they think we might have a heart attack, or serious indigestion?
At the shop there were vendors, food, music. We all came in as a group, and were pointed to special parking. That was excellent. We hung around a few hours and then our Milwaukee friends gathered us up and guided us to the Harley-Davidson Museum. We located the rivets that the House of Harley and the Harley Owners Group had purchased several years back. It was neat to see them, knowing we were part of the reason why they were there.

Parking in the grass at the Harley-Davidson Museum.  We rode over a plastic type pathway put down for us, then we'd turn in to rows to park.  Grass is not my friend; however, I did not drop my bike, nor even come close today.
The Harley Owner's Group rivet, Chapter 66.
The House of Harley rivet.  The two are next to each other at the museum.
And there's another Alaskan, Hands (Neil).  We enlisted him to take some photos for us.
Then it was time for group photos … all Rogue Riders, all those who rode the entire route from Alaska, women riders. So many photos. But what a feeling of euphoria to be a part of this group. Alaskan riders are special …

This is the group that rode in together to Milwaukee, most of whom rode the entire distance from Anchorage.
The women who rode, some the entire distance, some most of it.

Thank you, Barry and Dia, and to all the wonderful HD folks who hosted the group, guided the group and who worked hard to get the group safely to Milwaukee.  The only mishaps that I heard about was Dia's golfball-sized ding in her front fender, various rock chips here and there, a kickstand gone bad and an LED headlight shattered.  The important thing the people arrived all in one piece.  Yeehaw!  That's what it's all about.  Let the celebration begin.
A big “thank you” to the Milwaukee folks who rode with the group, those who guided us along and also to Barry and Dia who arranged all of this. It's a huge undertaking to organize an event with multiple stops. Logistically, I'm sure it was a nightmare, but what a treat to those of us who got to participate.

As a side note to this incredible journey, I've learned that I'm a Harley-o-holic, and probably need a 12-step program. I-90, in particular, is home to many, many Harley shops. I had not realized that among other things, I was on the Harley-Davidson motorcycle riding shopping tour.

We spent time at a number of shops, where people gave us their time, had food for us, and a good time. Yep, bought a shirt at most of them. Was it worth it? Hell yes. There is nothing to compare to what we all received in return … the camaraderie, the making of new friends, the recounting of the day's events. Sure am glad there are post offices along the way and flat rate boxes.

The first box has been mailed home.
 And tomorrow ?? We're home. Let the celebration begin.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Homeward bound

Saturday (August 24) dawned bright and clear. It was another tee-shirt riding kind of day. There are a lot of those here. Sturgis was the end destination, where we'd stay two nights, Saturday and Sunday.

Birdie and I headed for Forsyth, Montana, which is her last name, spelled correctly. She wanted to get a photo there. The others headed to Devil's Tower, and we hoped to meet them there later in the day. (Didn't happen.)

Forsyth and Forsyth.  It seems to be a nice little town.
Forsyth was a great little town although she couldn't find anything like a souvenir magnet to take to her parents. There is a great museum, though.

Horse and cowboy play.
Seaburg player piano, which seems to be a gem with its stained glass.  A gorgeous piece.
A thresher machine.  Sure wish I could drive it.
A reaper machine that didn't appeal to me quite as much as the thresher.
The museum has different little areas, each with a specialty … kitchens, cowboy stuff with spurs or barbed wire, and an area with big machines … threshers, reapers.

We enjoyed visiting the museum although we didn't have much time to spend. We made good use of what we did have, including visiting with the lady at the museum who was rather amazed Birdie had come to visit her namesake.

There's always something going on for one on a motorcycle.
The backroads sometimes can be treacherous as we came upon a sign warning of construction ahead. In fact, motorcycles should consider an alternate route the sign said. We did slow down for about one heartbeat, and then we rode on … Biddle, Montana. A wide spot in the road, just before the construction.

What's a little gravel between friends?  It was a piece of cake.
Alaskan roads are usually worse than this construction. We just did our usual … rode on.

Somewhere along the way, I saw a dead deer along the road. What was different about this one was that the entire head had been neatly cut off … a wannabe hunter? Disgusting!!!

When we got to Sturgis, we stopped at the host hotel to visit and have dinner. With a little help from Birdie and her tow rope, Jon and Linda used a unique way to get their luggage to the second floor as there was no elevator. They put the rope through the handle and hauled it up and over the bannister on the upstairs hallway. Ya just gotta get creative sometimes.

Sometimes the simple ways are the easy ways.
We were staying in Rapid City at a Super 8. It was one of the more interesting places I've stayed at, with a lime green and turquoise d├ęcor, complete with pictures of palms or some such greenery, reminiscent of a beach house. But, it was a bed, a shower and clean and non-smoking.

This photo does not do justice to the lime green and turquoise decor, along with the fern and/or palm artwork.  Even the lamps fit in with the rest of the furnishings.  I actually liked it as it felt like a beach house.
Birdie and I decided to go to Crazy Horse on Sunday (August 25). This was also a special day because it was Dia's birthday, and there would be a surprise party later at their hotel. We hadn't figured out a gift yet, until we went by some signs for a winery … Buck Naked wine. Yep, that would sure do it.

We found the winery, picked up a bottle of Buck Naked, and another of Full Throttle and one of what may have been a Mount Rushmore white. We figured it to be the perfect gift since she could share it and not have to pack it.

Mount Rushmore, from a rushed photo on a rushed ride past the mountain.
The back road behind Mount Rushmore gave us a quick glimpse at the four faces of some of our most spectacular presidents, and then we were past (after stopping in a no-stopping zone to take a quick photo). A parking area for a photo of the profile stopped us for a moment, and then we got on the road and made our way to Crazy Horse.

The profile face is pretty cool.  Hard to believe that they've been in existence for years.

Just enjoying my ride.

Crazy Horse is a stone mountain carving years in the making. While it doesn't progress far over the years, it is coming together. This time the visitor center seemed larger and more professional. There were Native Americans with some of their wares, others working on projects and a dancer who was quite interesting and informative. He was wearing more than 90 pounds of Indian apparel for his dancing, with some of the pieces dating to 1870, and some of the eagle feathers being more than 100 years old.

His name is Jumping Buffalo.  He's a sixth generation related to Sitting Bull and dances for his kids and grandkids so they can learn the old ways.  Surprise??  He has four college degrees with a 4.0 average, he speaks multiple languages (maybe seven or so as he named them off too quickly for me to count) and he's 20-years plus drug and alcohol free.  Jumping Buffalo was very interesting and he could also dance his feathers off.  He joked that with teepees, his ancestors were the originators of the mobile home.
Crazy girls; Crazy Horse.
The entrance to Crazy Horse ... taken from another no parking zone.  Bikers.  What ya gonna do?
I really enjoyed the visit to Crazy Horse this time, as the progress continues, and it becomes more and more a place for tourists to visit. I remember in the distant past when there just wasn't too much there, so this was a treat.

There was a lot of bike washing going on.
Birdie and I hurried back to Sturgis to wash the bikes and head over to the hotel for the surprise party. Was it? Yes!!! Dia thought her dad and Paul were taking her to dinner in Deadwood, and was wondering why no one else had really said anything to her. SURPRISE!!!

There was even birthday cake.
Corky and Dia share a birthday.  The Rogue Rider group sang happy birthday and I think it may  have made Corky's day.
I saw Corky and her family going out of the restaurant and couldn't resist the opportunity for this photo.  What a lovely lady.

A lady came into our party room and asked if we'd come sing happy birthday to her mother, 92-year-old Corky who had worked a pancake breakfast for years and years and years during Sturgis week. Of course. It was fun, and is what makes these trips so awesome … adding to the ride, the adventure and the uniqueness of each of them.

It was a fun evening, surprising Dia.  You don't often get something past her.
It was fun to be a part of a special birthday party (Dia's and Corky's, too), on a road trip to Milwaukee for the 110th. What a place to party … and it's not over yet. (And I was told the wine wasn't being shared; it would be shipped home since it was unique and would add to a certain wine collection.)

Great party.  Thank you for having a birthday, Dia.

The sun was setting as Birdie and I made our way back to Rapid City and our hotel.

Monday, August 26, and the road led us to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. But before we got on the road, Birdie and I headed to the Rapid City Harley shop. I finally needed to retire my old T-bag, vintage 1990s, due to the zipper finally giving out, and holes that were threatening to get larger, perhaps leaving my dirty laundry along the road. I decided to get one of the fancy ones, with the roller wheels that some of my friends have.

The removal of my things from the old bag proved to be a bit of a tug of war since I didn't want to do a whole repacking job. Mission accomplished, but not without some help. Thank you, Birdie.

It took both of us to get the old bag to give up its load.

We met Jim, Robin, Sherie and Jim at the shop and headed to the Badlands, wanting to take a little time to explore this road before heading down the interstate to Sioux Falls. It was a beautiful ride and not nearly as hot as what I remember it being when I did it in 1994. In fact, it was almost pleasant.

The group in the Badlands.
Birdie riding the Badlands.
Jim, Sherie, Jim and Robin.
Yep, just enjoying the ride.

Interstate 90 … an interstate, two lanes either direction, straight. And not much to see. You find yourself waiting for a curve, even a gentle one. You beg for something to break the monotony. Fine. Play games with mileage, read road signs. Wall Drug, free ice water. Wall Drug, ice cream. Wall Drug, 5 cent coffee. How do they keep their signs looking so fresh? They must repaint them yearly. Wow. I am impressed.

Been there almost forever.

I ran over a dead skunk and hoped the smell wouldn't permeate my tires and stay with me for miles and miles. It didn't. Thank you.

The Sioux Falls shop had steak sandwiches, fresh corn on the cob, potato salad and cole slaw. Nice.

There was a lady there named Joan who is on a 3-year motorcycle ride to promote Buy American and the Bill of Rights. She will ride with us into Milwaukee. She plans to come to Alaska and so we may be able to organize a run to meet her.
We'll see.

Joan, another interesting and incredible woman.
That's what is so great about motorcycle trips. You never know who you will meet. You ride with or without others, you meet up with some who you will ride with and become friends with, and then as quickly they may pass from your life leaving you with an impression, a thought, a vision, and hopefully a better person as well.

La Crosse, Wisconsin (Tuesday, August 27), loomed ahead. A shorter ride, but still on I-90. Still straight, still waiting for a curve, even looking for strange names like Guckeen, Minnesota. When a curve did come you slowed down, thinking you'd forgotten how to handle one. Some of the pavement had been laid in slabs. Bump, bump, bump. It's hard to maintain your coolness when all you can think about is how far it is to the next restroom.

At dinner I was sitting with a couple, Jennifer and Kenny. I'd spoken to Kenny along the way, but tonight I met Jennifer. She'd flown in and arranged to get to the Harley shop, walked up behind her husband and tapped him on the shoulder. What a wonderful surprise. He had no idea. What a very special couple they are, married about 18 years, and still tossing a surprise or two out there. It was fun chatting and learning this about them.

Jennifer and Kenny.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Wednesday, August 21

And we were off, Birdie at Number 1 left, me at Number 1 right, the position where I most like to ride. Then it was Jim, Sherie and Robin. Birdie, Jim and Robin all have communications so the line up really did make sense.

The destination for the day was Red Deer. We got there using some scenic routes, on purpose, and it was just a nice ride, but cold. Sure did make me think of home. Seems the last few days we've been riding cold. I did find the plug in for my electric vest, and made good use of it for a bit.

Once again there were some casualties. Sherie's LED $500 (or maybe only $400) headlight glass just shattered, a bee, a rock. Whatever it was, there wasn't much left of the lense cover. The headlight still worked although she needed to get it fixed at some point, especially if there'd be any night riding.

It might be hard to see but all of the glass in the middle is gone, with only some remaining around the outter edges.

Although I'd been to the Red Deer shop on my way to meet the group, do you think I could remember where it was? No!!! But I knew when we ended up in a field that it wasn't the right spot. Haha!!! Another GPS Trickster. Must be of the Raven Clan in Alaska.

Finally we were back on the interstate, and got to the shop a half hour before closing. We made good use of our time there.

Kalispell is our destination for the day (Thursday, Aug. 22). There's a big party there for the Rogue Riders, catered, at the hotel. Wow!!! Who knew all this was going on? I'd not checked on all of this when I did not sign up originally to come on the ride, and wasn't paying attention later. I was just going where I was told, doing what I was told. I know. Hard to imagine.

I learned a lot about Sherie last night. She did the original Hoka Hey in 2010, the one from Florida to Homer, 9,000 miles in 11 days for her. That's impressive, so it was interesting to talk with her and find out her thoughts on it. I'd been a bit sceptical (sp) about the whole ride, but she thought it had been interesting and a great thing to be on the first one, although there was a lot of rule-changing as they went, and it wasn't as organized as it could have been. Maybe they needed to use an event planner?

The line to the border patrol building just crawled.
We got to the border crossing and there was a line of cars that seemed to go forever. You couldn't even see the building where you showed your passport and all. And it was hot. We baked in the sun for an hour waiting, crawling, moving forward a few feet at a time. I'd never had this issue when crossing before.

I spoke to the biker in front of us. He said it wasn't usually like that. I talked to the guy in the car behind us who was just going to check his mail. He said it wasn't usually like that. Hmmmm. What's going on?

The biker in front of us got called in to have his bike checked over. We told the border patrol he wasn't part of our group. Robin got her bike pulled in to be checked over. Random? So, she sits in the shade waiting while they go through her bike. We suffer out in the heat, waiting. Who was the luckiest one here? Robin, sitting in the shade. Glad it wasn't me pulled over. I had my contraband for my good friend, Daisy Corn.

But there were some nice looking deer laying by the border fence. American deer, or Canadian deer? I know not.

All in velvet.

We followed the Road to the Sun in Glacier National Park. While we didn't do much (or any) stopping, it was still a beautiful highway. The traffic was bumper-to-bumper in some places, so you really had to keep an eye on it rather than gawking at the beauty of the park. The trials and tribulations of a biker.

What's a little park riding without some construction and gravel.  Birdie just sailed on through.

When you had time to look, there was beauty everywhere.  Sure am thankful to have a pocket camera in addition to my good one.

Narrow roads, beautiful scenery and two lanes make for a great ride.

For those without a car or a motorcycle, this can be your mode of transportation, with a tour guide, too.
The arrival in Kalispell was timely and we got ready for dinner, wearing our Rogue Rider shirts. In Anchorage when I decided to buy someone else's ticket I also purchased one of the shirts so I'd kind of fit in.

The Rogue Riders.
Sherie, Jan and Birdie with the Alaska State flag and the chapter flags.
Robin and Jim, smiling as always.
Father, daughter.  Enjoying the trip and having some quality time together.
Kenny, Tony, Howard and Paul ... some of the boys.

Sherie, Birdie and Taren, from Milwaukee who had a bike shipped to Alaska and is joining us on the ride.

Dinner was great, and the hotel did an awesome job of it. We all had plenty to eat, more than plenty, in fact. And then I had to go to bed. Too much food and fun.

Friday's ride (August 23) was to end at the Billings Harley shop, with yet another party. Could a person ever get tired of parties? I think not. Well, maybe. But not yet.

We rode in mostly smoke all day. The forest everywhere seems to be burning and the smell sometimes is nearly overpowering. The roads, though, are wonderful as we've taken a few back ones here and there.

There was smoke everywhere, sometimes so thick you could hardly see the hills in the distance.
We stopped in Helena, Montana, to have lunch with Robin's sister. When possible, you always try to work in a visit with a relative or close friend since you don't know when you'll be that way again.

Don't they look like sisters?  It was a very nice visit but too soon we were back on the road.
But, we overstayed our lunch allotment of time, and arrived late in Billings. Dia chastised us, nicely and with a smile, but I was determined that I'd not be late again, oh no!!!

The Beartooth shop had a great spread for us … ribs, beans, slaw, potato salad and corn bread. It was so tasty. And yes, to make up for being late, I bought another shirt. But when haven't I bought a shirt at one of the dealerships?