I almost forgot

Here’s our “trip picture”.

IMG_0989_2I took this using the timer feature on my camera. It was taken in the Rocky Mountain National Park at about 10,000 feet. Keep in mind that I had been having problems with altitude sickness the whole time we were in Colorado so I was feeling a little woozy to begin with.

After activating the timer, I had to run the 100 feet or so back to my bike in order to pose for the picture. I barely made it in time, and after the picture snapped, I almost fell down I was so out of breath.

I survived though and have good memories as a result.

Motorcycle Trip 3

Over the next couple of days we wandered around the Black Hills, got in some good twisty riding, and saw the sights.

1 IMG_1393Crazy Horse

2 IMG_1422Mount Rushmore (this picture was taken from the road from a distance, we did actually go up to the monument and walk the trail to the foot of the mountain, but I liked this picture better)

3 IMG_1582Deadwood

4 DSC00965Which is the place where Wild Bill Hickock was killed and Aces and Eights became known as the infamous “Dead Man’s Hand” in poker.

5 IMG_0196Calamity Jane is also buried here. BTW, contrary to popular belief, Wild Bill swears he never had a “thing” with Calamity. “I’m a married man” he exlaimed…”besides, have you SEEN her?” he chuckled.

6 DSC00976Wild Bill flirting with the girls

7 IMG_1617Wild Bill Hickock’s been assasinated!

8 DSC01522“The Needles”

9 IMG_1527Driving the Needles Road

10 IMG_1641Devil’s Tower Wyoming (no, we didn’t see any alien spacecraft)

11 comparisonDevil’s Tower is so huge, and so isolated out there, it’s very difficult to get a feel for how big it is, even when standing right at its foot. It really is a huge natural phenomenon. Here’s a picture I created to try to show the scale a little bit.

Devil’s Tower is 1.267 feet tall from its base. The Washington Monument is 555 feet tall. The eiffel Tower is 1,063 feet tall and the Empire State Building is 1,250 feet to its roof, 1,454 feet to the top of the radio tower.

Only the world’s very largest man-made structures are taller than Devil’s Tower.

It’s really an amazing piece of God’s handiwork.

Motorcycle Trip 2

We left off in Estes Park Colorado, wandering around in the Mountains.

The next phase of our trip was in the Black Hills of South Dakota, but Uncle wanted to make a side trip on the way. Between Colorado and South Dakota we took a side trip to Chimney Rock in Nebraska.

12 HPIM4893Chimney Rock was one of the navigation points along the Oregon trail during the expansion years of the 1800’s. As they were traveling across the plains, they could see Chimney rock for days, making it a good navigation point.

13 20140727_105744The visitor’s center is very interesting with a lot of information on the Oregon trail and the settlers that traveled it.

14 HPIM4926We then continued on to the black hills, ending up in Custer South Dakota, just a few miles from the Crazy Horse monument.

Brother was feeling froggy so after we checked in to the hotel, we took an evening ride of Custer State Park, including a run around the Wildlife Loop.

15 IMG_1241We saw a bit of wildlife including wild burros

16 IMG_1264Antelope

17 20140727_200637And Buffalo who actually got a little close for comfort, but we really didn’t have anywhere to go.

18 IMG_1346They were in a field next to the road, we stopped to take pictures, but they decided they wanted to cross the road and ended up on both sides of us, so we just stayed close to the bikes and watched.

Family Motorcycle Trip

OK…if you insist:

As always, click pix to make bigger

Last year we skipped the family motorcycle trip due to schedule conflicts, but this year we got it back on track again.

IMG_0889In the wee hours of Sunday, July 20, I departed Southeastern Virginia to head to Central Indiana to hook up with the Indiana Stones.

Starting Mileage

That’s about a 750 mile trip by itself and took me about 12 hours of driving time (14 hours total travel time with stops). I arrived on Sunday evening and spent the night with my best friend CB and his family.

HPIM4709
Monday morning, I headed to my uncle’s house and met up with them for the leg to Omaha, Nebraska.

Uncle and his wife and Cousin and his wife tend to stop a lot more often than I do on my own, so although the mileage on that day was only about 640 miles, it was another 12 hour day.

IMG_0114We did make one sightseeing stop. On a previous trip, Cousin had noticed this big tractor supply place with displays out front and wanted to check it out. It was pretty neat, and they had a showroom with some company history and displays of their big tractors and such. Very interesting.

2014-07-21 13.20.35We also stopped at the world’s biggest truck stop in Iowa. Yes, that’s a full sized tractor-trailer in the back of the store. They had another just tractor in there as well with their display of lighting and chrome accessories.

We spent the night at Brother’s house in Omaha and then the next day, took the leisurely 400 or so mile trip to Sidney Nebraska to visit the Cabella’s world headquarters and have dinner with Sister and her family. Brother, by the way, joined us for the remainder of the trip until the return to Omaha. Sister and family are not bikers, so…

Incidentally, if you ever happen to need to spend the night in Sidney, NE, be sure to make reservations in advance. There are only a couple of hotels and they can basically charge whatever they want since they’re always full. We paid $209 a night to stay at a run-down Comfort Inn. I usually pay way less than that to stay in very nice hotels when I’m traveling. About the only place I’ve ever paid that much was in swanky downtown hotels in Toronto or Seattle. Didn’t even pay that much in San Francisco. I saved the receipt…I may frame it.

5 DSC01264The next day, we headed for the mountains. Only a couple hundred miles so we took our time and saw the sights and ended up in Estes Park Colorado, next door to the Rocky Mountain National park.

6 HPIM4759One of the really cool things about the Rockies for me is how abruptly they begin. One minute you’re in the plains, the next you’re in the mountains. Like pulling a curtain.

That must have been a very daunting view for people who’ve been traveling on foot and wagon for weeks and weeks to see those forbidding peaks rising from the plains in front of them. Amazing.

We stayed in Estes Park for several days, each day driving to see different views, try different roads, etc. I’ve got probably a couple of hundred pictures of it all so I won’t bore you will all of them. Here are some highlights:

7 20140724_121401

8 DSC01317

9 HPIM4806

10 HPIM4838

11 IMG_0151

Next, we headed Northeast to South Dakota, but I’ll pick up with another post later on. This one has gotten long enough.

And the winner is…

certificate-of-achievement-01

Honorable Mention to David of Void Where Prohibited and Guffaw of Armed Laughing

Update: Edited to fix David’s name…my bad

I have to admit I’m surprised anyone got it from that horrible picture, and I had a couple of other hints already lined up to narrow it down, but they got it on the first go.

The picture is of the CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The trip up was a bit hot at times, I got rained on for about 10 minutes outside Fredericksburg, and it took something like two hours to get through the border crossing (Sunday evening is not the best choice of crossing times), but it was still a good trip…however, the trip back was even better. It was cool and clear the whole way. I took back roads through New York and Pennsylvania and had some beautiful riding.

The only bad thing about the trip back was that it was so cool, it didn’t even occur to me to put sunscreen on my face so I’ve got the “raccoon tan” going on now, but that’s a pretty minor issue to have. It’s been a while since I did a long-distance trip so it was very much enjoyed.

Next time I go up there, The Wife’s going too and we’re going to spend a day at Niagra Falls on the way up and then another day exploring Toronto. Going up into the CN Tower is on the short list of things we want to do while there.

Thanks to everyone who played.

Further to my last post

Any body wanna guess where I went?

HPIM4701Hint 1:

Granted, not a great picture because it was from quite a distance and a moving motorcycle, but I’m trying to direct your attention to the big spire looking building in the middle of the shot. Anyone recognize it?

A million internet points to the one who gets it.

Business trip in style

I didn’t take many pictures because anyone who’s been here before have seen plenty of motorcycle trip pictures, but I took my bike on a business trip in stead of flying. The business was conducted on Monday and Tuesday, so Sunday and Wednesday were travel days.

Before: Sunday, 8/11, 7am IMG_9936

After: Wednesday 8/14, about midnight: IMG_9942

1513 miles in four calendar days, two travel days.

Not bad.

I don’t understand.

I’ve been meaning to post this for the past couple of days but I just haven’t had time.

Here’s my quandary. This happened on Monday, but it’s noticeable any day with similar weather conditions:

It was a nice, cool but clear morning; on the way to work, I saw probably 20 motorcycles on the road…other than me, of course.

On the way home, I saw one. Two counting me.

What was the difference? On the way home it was raining. Not too badly, but it had been raining pretty hard off and on all afternoon.

Here’s my question: How did all those people who rode motorcycles to work in the morning, get back home in the evening? Do they leave their bikes at work and have someone else take them home? Call their wives/husbands to come pick them up? Take the bus? Drive their bikes home at the first sign of weather and get their cars?

I just don’t understand it. I realize that most motorcycle riders (especially these days) are not really “bikers”. They’re hobbyists or fair weather riders; but I don’t get how they work that out when the weather is only fair for half the day.

One other thing I’ve noticed lately. A LOT more riders wearing full ballistic gear, even on cruisers or tourers, commuting to and from work. It seems that gas prices have enticed quite a few newbies to take up motorcycles for their commute.

A distinctive feature of these newer riders is that they rarely wave at other riders. For them, it seems it’s a practical thing…the bike is just another vehicle that gets good gas mileage…and as a result they don’t consider themselves among the brotherhood of bikers.

And, I would imagine, those are the very people who only ride one way when the weather goes pear shaped…but I still don’t understand the logistics of that particular trait.

Oh well…no skin off my butt. It was just something that is distinctly obvious under circumstances like Monday’s and got me wondering. Pretty soon, as with every year, I’ll be one of the very few bikes on the road for several months anyway.

By the way…the other biker I saw on my way home from work on Monday? He waved.

Attempted vehicular homicide

I hesitate to post about this because to do so I have to accept my part of the responsibility for what happened. I do need to talk about it a little though so I’m going to. Obviously, it’s hard to be objective about one’s own failings, but I’ll try to be as honest and up-front about what happened as I can be, considering my perspective.

I’ve often joked about cage drivers “trying to kill me” while I’m out riding. I’ve never really meant it literally…only that they were figuratively trying to kill me by driving like idiots and/or not paying attention to what’s going on around them.

This morning, however, for the first time, I had someone literally attempt to commit vehicular homicide on me.

Here’s what happened:

I was traveling south toward the interstate on a large, three lane road.

I went through the light at the top of this picture in the middle lane. I needed to get to the ramp onto the highway, but traffic was bumper to bumper and no one was wanting to let anyone in.

Here’s the first thing I did that contributed to the situation. I found a spot in the traffic that my bike would fit into. It was barely big enough, but it was big enough. I matched my speed to the traffic, turned on my turn signal, and moved over. I was probably only about a foot or so ahead of the bumper of the light blue mini-van I cut off. In my defense, they were being jerks by not letting anyone in and when I got over, I was going the same speed as the rest of the traffic, so I didn’t cause anyone to have to slow down.

But the honest truth is that I cut them off.

What happened next, though, was ridiculous. I reached the exit loop to get onto the highway and started around it. I tend to take curves tight so I was toward the right side of the curve, but well to the left of the line delineating the travel lane.

So, I’m in the bottom loop of this picture, at about the southernmost point of the loop, when I notice the light blue minivan BESIDE ME, to my left, half in the lane and half on the shoulder.

Understandably (at least to me), I didn’t really want a mini-van sharing my lane with me so I reacted. This is my second contribution to the incident: I slowly edged toward him, to try to get him to back off.

I got closer and closer and he edged to his left, but there’s a guard rail there so he could only go so far. I expected him to get nervous about the guardrail and back off.

Nope. In stead of backing off and getting to where he should have been, he swerved toward me and sideswiped me.

It was more of a bump than anything else and, of course, his 3,000 lb mini fan had no problem pushing my 900 lb bike over a little.

I was never in danger of losing control, and it happened too fast for it to really scare me…but boy did it piss me off.

I think the look on my face told him he’d gone just a bit too far and he immediately backed off.

When we got onto the interstate, I worried about getting into the traffic safely first so by the time I got onto the highway and looked for him, he was WAY back behind me. So far that I couldn’t pick him out in the traffic in my mirrors. Apparently he’d wanted some separation and had entered the highway very slowly.

I drove for a minute or two and then decided that I wanted to at least get the guys license plates…I couldn’t exactly force him to pull over from my bike, but if he decided to pull over for a “discussion” about what happened, I’d be VERY happy to oblige him.

With that in mind, I signaled, and pulled off onto the shoulder. It was a good 15 seconds before he passed, but I saw him go by, signaled again and accelerated back into traffic.

Coming from a dead stop like that, I had to get into the center lane to catch back up with him. He obviously saw me coming and did what every brave cager who tries to use his vehicle as a weapon of revenge against someone who cuts him off: he suddenly and very frantically decided he needed to take the exit he was passing.

I was still in the center lane and didn’t have time to safely follow him into the exit, so I just let him go.

I needed to get to work anyway. Not a good idea to chase someone down when you’re pissed enough to stomp a mud-hole in them anyway. I’m not real fond of the idea of going to jail for assaulting someone, no matter how badly they needed it.

Granted, I contributed to the situation by my actions, but that guy flat out could have killed me. If I’d been less experienced, or on a smaller bike, I could have easily lost control when he bumped me, and been run over by the trailing traffic. I don’t think assault with a deadly weapon is a suitable response to being cut off in traffic, do you?

I’m not really looking for any reassurances or critiques from my readers, I know full well what I did wrong and I know full well that, had the guy pulled over and any type of altercation ensued, I’d have had to have accepted my part of the blame. I’m mainly looking to just vent about it.

I simply have a difficult time believing that any rational human being would INTENTIONALLY endanger someone else’s very life over something so trivial as being cut off in traffic.

I will be looking out for this guy. He’s a coward who feels empowered when behind the wheel of a 3000 lb lethal weapon and that’s a dangerous combination. Hopefully, I’ll never see him again…and if I do, he’ll be willing to just ignore me as I will him. But if we do happen across each other again and he chooses to get froggy, I’ll be ready and he won’t be happy with the outcome.

BTW: in case anyone is wondering…both me and my bike are fine. He did hit my left highway peg hard enough to move it, so hopefully he at least got a nice dent for his stupidity, but my bike (and body) is well protected by engine/saddlebag guards so I had no damage or harm at all.