The Bumblebee and the Vespa 2014

I think it's time for me to redefine what this new blog is about. In the past I've posted individual blogs for motorcycle/motor scooter rides to places like Alaska, Nova Scotia, Key West, Mexico, Canada, New York, etc. That's all well and good but it seems nowadays I'm dividing my rides into shorter ones comprised of two or more weeks each on different bikes. The total time and mileage is about the same, it's just split into multiple rides with a break somewhere in the middle.

The summer of 2014 serves as a good example of that wherein I rode south to Tombstone, AZ on my '92 BMW R100GS Bumblebee/Ural sidecar rig, (phew!) then returned home for a few days and set out again on my '07 Vespa 250ie motor scooter to visit Canada. That summer has gone and the seasons have changed as will the reports, some will be about shorter rides, some will be about maintenance, and maybe on occasion I'll post a photo or two just for interest. I may even introduce other bikes, a few of which are lurking under cover in the barn...

Navigating this blog is easy, just scroll down the list of posts by date to whatever interests you, click on it and you're in. Photos can be viewed in larger format by clicking on them.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Jul 13 - Day 11 2015 Tour - Malta, MT

Today was really something, weather-wise. About the only thing I didn't get to experience was extreme cold. No snow or ice, but the point is it changed from super hot to torrential downpours nearly all day. I knew first thing this morning it would be cool, maybe even cold so I switched back to the leather jacket over a T-shirt. That worked fine for awhile until I hit the first monsoon.

The weather channel got me again...why have I started believing in weather reports?
I rode for quite a long time before I saw anything that caught my eye. Then I saw this enormous field - acres & acres of purple flowers which I'd never seen anywhere before. I took a few pics of it, then a few miles down the road I began seeing lots of them. I've no idea what they are or what they're used for but they're beautiful to look at.

The next thing of interest were the natural gas burn-off towers. I didn't realize North Dakota had huge oil reserves but apparently it's so. What I really didn't like was the intense diesel smell floating over the highway. At first I thought it was coming from a pickup ahead of me but it continued after he turned off and I realized it was from the oil wells. I'd hate to have to breath that stuff in 24/7, your lungs would probably develop one of those scary sounding diseases you see advertised by lawyers on TV

One of the gas stops I made was at an unmanned station. You filled up the same way using your credit card and if you needed to use the bathroom they were available inside the station. I did and on the way out - the office area usually occupied by an attendant was devoid of anything - there was a big sign on the door saying "Thank you for using our fuel". Unmanned....think about it, no cash, no employees, zippideedo overhead. Not a bad idea.
Darned if I can recall the name of this little burg
No waiting in line to get gas
Later in the afternoon - I think it was when I'd reached Montana - I rode through a small town on one of the many reservations. Nothing unusual about it but this burned-out motel caught my eye so I rode back to take a photo of it. I think the name did it for me - The Jolly Swagman Inn. Stuff catches fire all the time but on the way out of town I noticed another business burnt to the ground, this time a service station. I also noticed a number of political signs around the area so maybe it was a rowdy election. Notice I resisted suggesting it must have been a hotly contested race?

Who's jolly now Mr Swagman?
One of the many stops I made to change rain gear was after I reached Montana. The heat was building up fast so I shucked the rain jacket and went back to the leather one, this time was the final one for the day.The highway runs for miles through grazing land and it was apparent that oil wasn't the top priority for the state.
I know from past experience that coal is a big deal to the state but I was really glad to get away from the stink of raw crude. I also like the pristine look of the open range.

It seemed like it was getting late so I began the hunt for a motel and quickly realized all the places in every small town were booked. I finally decided to ride the next 70 miles to see if I could find something and it turned out to be a good decision. The town is Malta and it's typical of old western towns, nearly every business looks like it's been around for 75 - 100 years. The train tracks run right through the town so you get the benefit of their noise. Sleep tonight should be interesting...

You get the feeling you're stepping back into the 50s until you notice the old motels advertise "We have DSL" Yes, it's WIFI but way back in the beginning that's what a lot of people called it. My place, The Sportsman Motel is one of them and nice as it is there's only one other guest if you count cars. Or maybe it belongs to the receptionist. For dinner she suggested The West End Cafe and it was great, right out of the sixties and serving home-made food.

All was more or less well for the day until I discovered the cover on the sidecar had developed a large tear in the fabric. Tomorrow first thing will be a run to the local hardware store for Gorilla Tape, that should fix it.

Arrrgh! Dammit anyway!

Oh, I nearly forgot, it was a somewhat boring day but 350 miles wasn't so bad.


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