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.

Finally, if you'd care to post comments please do so, I'd love to hear from you. CLICK ON "NO COMMENTS" TO ENTER YOUR REMARKS. That seems really silly but that's how it works. The entry window is located at the bottom of each screen. Thanks for visiting, I hope you enjoy your stay.


Monday, September 14, 2015

Sep 14 Day 25 - The Old Spanish Trail - Bandon, OR Home Again

This morning I woke up at 04:30 am and couldn't get back to sleep no matter what. I suppose it may have been due to the anticipation of going home and this was my last day on the road.

I struggled with the early hour but after awhile gave it up and got up for the day. Packing was a chore as last night I hadn't bothered to get anything organized, knowing I'd have plenty of time in the morning.

Out of curiosity I turned on the Weather Channel just to see what I might be up against and they announced there was a 50% chance of rain in the Klamath Falls area. Sometimes it's good to know things like that so after breakfast and loading the bike I put on my rain pants. I'd do my jacket on the road if need be but the pants are a struggle and I don't mind wearing them over my jeans.

As it turned out the rain began within 5 miles of leaving the hotel so I pulled off and got into the rest of my gear, the jacket and the 3-fingered gloves that go over my regular gloves. It never really poured but it was hard enough that without the rain gear I'd have gotten pretty wet.

Rain starting and a couple hundred miles to go. Nice. Welcome home LL

Off in the distance you can make out Mt Doak
What? You've never heard of Mt Doak and you've lived in Oregon all your life? Tsk tsk, you should have paid closer attention during Geography-101 you nitwit.
Mt Doak - The really big view

And for those who care to dismount or get out of their car there's info to be had.
After relishing the touristy stuff about Mt Doak and the Klamath Basin I zipped up all my pockets, lowered my bug-riddled face shield and hit the road again. Who cares if it rains a little, I'd be home in a few hours and I could dry out there.

Riding in Oregon after spending the past few weeks in other states is a bit like running in molasses, everything seems like it's in slow motion. That's due mainly to our 55 mph speed limit. Even when we're allowed to run at 65 mph it still seems sluggish, especially when I recalled work zones in other states that reduced their speeds to 65 mph.

Anyway I arrived home around 2:30 pm and followed Linda through the gates since she'd just arrived too. The dogs were busy greeting her, then they spotted me and went double crazy. All the big dogs were home and they were out of control, especially Toby. For some reason he was over the top about my arrival while Riley was sort of neutral. I think that may be a Collie thing as that's how Chance, our last Collie acted.

Hey, did you bring us anything? No? Humph!
Once all the excitement died down I checked my regular email box and it has 150 postings so that will take some time to go through. Then there's the unpacking and cleaning up, etc, etc. Maybe by this time tomorrow I'll be caught up but for now it's just good to be home.

The trip covered right at 7000 miles, the Bonnie ran flawlessly, I was never cited for speeding, didn't run out of gas or have a flat tire, and for the most part the weather was really good. Hot, humid, and sometimes monsoon-like but that's how it is when you're riding this time of the year.

Most of the motels/hotels were OK, a few were duds (the greedy guys!) and some were outstanding. After mentally reviewing them I'm sticking with my favorite outfit from now on - Best Western wins hands down.

Overall it was really a great ride and I'll probably do it again next year.    
I hope you enjoyed following along, stay in touch.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sep 13 Day 24 - The Old Spanish Trail - Klamath Falls, OR

I think I'm definitely hooked on Best Western properties as the place to stay. Even when there's a discrepancy it's minor and their staff seems able to correct it without delay. Unless it's an issue with the Internet and their ISP of course, and even Best Western probably has support challenges. 

This morning the hotel put on a spread for breakfast that would last me all day, right through lunch without missing a beat. I'll resist listing all the goodies they put out but there were enough choices I doubt anyone would be disappointed.

When I stepped outside to begin the loading process the sky was as ominous looking as it could be and nearly dark even though it was well after 8:00 am. The sun was making a feeble attempt to shine but against the dark smoke filled haze there was little hope of getting through. 

8:30 am and  it's dark

This is actually a pretty good image of what it looked like
I'd already gassed up last night so all I had to do was load my gear and head out. With so much smoke in the air there was little chance I'd take any decent pics so I stuck to the freeway system I-80 from Elko to Winnemucca, NV and there turning onto 140 for the rest of the run to Klamath Falls.

Once you leave Winnemucca the stretch of highway 140 has little in the way of fuel stops, one Chevron station that's located around 17 miles north of town and the next one is at the little burg of Adel, over 150 miles away. 

Presuming they're open on Sundays I kept my fingers crossed that I'd make it. My two little reserve fuel bottles were full and that should carry me over the top if things got sticky. Thankfully they were open and busy pumping beer to the bow hunters and a few local cowboys. I was the big gas sale of the day, ten bucks to fill up, 2 1/2 gallons of regular. I was happy to get it.

Barely over the border into Oregon you come to Doherty peak overlooking the huge plain below. In past visits I'd stopped for pictures on the way up but this time I thought I'd stop at the hang glider launch site, way at the top. It's located on the opposite side I was traveling in so I just pointed the Bonnie towards the little pull-out and coasted in. 

Oops....what looked like firm surface turned into 3-inch deep pea gravel and I quickly found myself washing through it, wobbling away towards the edge of the cliff. Good thing I'd scrubbed off enough speed before hitting the gravel or I'd have first hand experience at launching the Bonnie ala hang glider style. 

Really great view from the launch site 
I continued making good time and by mid-afternoon I knew I'd make Klamath Falls for the night. The temperature had risen and I was glad I'd started the day with that in mind, I didn't have to stop and remove anything.

Ranch land on the way to K Falls
I'd had such bad luck with the Quality Inn/Comfort Inn offerings lately and such good luck with Best Western I decided to stay at the Olympic Inn, another Best Western facility. 

What a find! Besides having a great price - under a hundred bucks with discounts - they provided a light supper starting at 4:30 pm. Two soups - cream of broccoli and beef stew, and two sandwiches, ham & Swiss and turkey with mild cheddar. Plus coffee, tea, juice, etc. I made it my dinner, sampling everything. Considering the money they saved me by not having to buy dinner they're light years beyond those other guys. You remember them, right? The greedy guys?
Yes, I stole this picture. I'm sorry. 
So that's the deal for today, 425 easy miles on the Bonnie ending with a great hotel. That's how it's supposed to work isn't it? I'm a happy camper.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Sep 12 Day 23 - The Old Spanish Trail - Elko, NV

This morning, after a nice breakfast at the Outlaw Motel in Rock Springs I set out for some meandering, figured I'd ride out to see what's up with the Flaming Gorge attraction. What I forgot about was I hadn't topped off the gas as I'd only ridden 68 miles on the last refill so it was way too early for more.

Most days I fill up before setting out but this time I didn't. Lucky for me I thought about it after riding just a few miles up the road to Flaming Gorge. I carry 3 liters with me for emergencies but even with that my range would be limited so I checked the GPS to see where the nearest gas station was. Yeoww, it was 100 miles away! If I arrived at the gas station and they were closed or out of business I wouldn't be able to make it back. No Flaming Gorge for me today, I turned around and headed back to civilization, found a station close to the slab and topped off.

At least I enjoyed the ride out in the country side
 Back on the road it wasn't long before I saw a sign indicating another historic site, this time it was via a turn off through the community of Green River. I bit and spent the next 20 minutes touring the back streets of the town with zero success. What is it with tourist attractions that either disappear or signs without the mileage to them indicated? I gave it up and returned to the freeway.

After leaving the Green River area I noticed there was a brown hue in the air and the further west I traveled the more dense it became. At first I thought it was smoke from the forest fires still burning but the color was more brown, unlike smoke. It also seemed to be coming from one distinct area which I was riding into. Then I saw it, the source was a plant of some kind way off in the distance out in the desert (or prairie, whichever you prefer)

This was taken alongside the freeway west of Green River
A service road led off from the next exit so I took it and rode back a couple miles to see if I could get closer. Another road led off from that and there were signs indicating the companies located on it. I continued onto that road and eventually came to the source of the nasty pollution. 

I rode closer. It was a huge facility belching out foul looking smog-like grime
This is as close as I wanted to get. A couple of trucks going by gave me the fish eye and I figured if I hung around very long taking pictures someone would probably show up wanting to know what I was up to. Damned if I know what I was up to, it was just curiosity that drew me in and I didn't want to start anything with them so I left. 
The day wore on and before I knew it the temperature had begun to rise; it was getting hot so I pulled into a rest stop to make lunch and use the facilities. As it turned out it was the exact same one I'd stopped at in 2010, just before you get to Salt Lake City. 

Yikes! I'm back in Silly-Land! 

This morning I'd worn my leather jacket with the liner zipped in and my winter gloves. At the time it was perfectly suitable considering it was chilly out, especially when it started out at 55 degrees. After lunch it was back to basics, no liner, summer gloves, etc. 

I continued to ride I-80 west of Salt Lake. The smell from the lake is like dead garbage or something, not very nice. The highway is straight as an arrow, boring as the devil and there are signs periodically advising you to pull over and rest if you feel drowsy. I seldom feel drowsy riding a bike although it has actually happened to me.

Mile after mile the road runs straight. Around 100 miles I think.

The haze or smoke in the air was very dense. Forest fires I think.
The heat continued but the overcast sky helped a little as it darkened the sun. Several times severe wind gusts from the side blew me off course but never off the road. It was difficult to handle but not impossible. 

I decided Winnemucca  was further away than I cared to ride in such heat so I stopped for the night at Elko, NV, a moderately sized town with good facilities. There was a Best Western available so that would be my digs for tonight. Subway sounded good for dinner plus Gatorade, all manly road food. Tomorrow I'll press on towards K-Falls or Lake View, not much new to see since I've been through there so often but who knows, maybe I'll spot a Big Foot.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Sep 11 Day 22 - The Old Spanish Trail - Rock Springs, WY

I've been making pretty good time for the past couple of days so I figured I'd do it again today. My goal is to clear the Rockies before the weather turns snowy and that can't be too far off.

When I was in Alaska the last time we could see snow moving with a weather front towards us and it was a bit disconcerting to say the least. At that time I was on a sidecar rig which would have been a whole lot more forgiving than the Bonnie.

Then yesterday Linda posted a note telling me snow wouldn't be a threat for quite awhile, at least according to the weather gurus and we all know how accurate those folks are. Anyway I made good time today, cranking out just under 500 miles so I'm a lot closer to home and I can throttle back to my normal snail's pace, maybe take time to gawk at more stuff.

Be that as it may, my photos for today are pretty minimal.

Welcome to Wyoming cowboy

It's a big place, easy to see why people want to live here

I wouldn't mind living here but frankly I don't like snow and I have the feeling it's not an uncommon weather type around these parts. At least that would explain why there's so many miles of snow fencing. Tell me if I'm wrong. I'm not.

Because I was bored and also because I'm really vain I took another couple of selfies today. Notice I don't use one of those silly wands? The other photo looked better but I liked this one the best as it makes me look more like RoboCop. Hard to argue with that, eh?

Somewhere out in the sticker-bushes I had to stop to refuel again and low and behold right next to me in their RV were none other than Ma & Pa Kettle on their dream vacation. Not having the slightest amount of consideration I shot several pics that illustrate just how much stuff you can haul around, given you have plenty of bungee cords and duct tape.

Wouldn't you just love following these people?

The sound inside must be deafening when they go over a bump

I'd pay five bucks just to watch them load this baby. Maybe ten. Serious.
That's about the gist of it for today's ride. The weather starting out looked a bit scary but the weather channel people said not to worry for a few more days so I didn't. I know I said I wouldn't watch that channel any more as it's caused me to turn tail and head home on a couple of rides but since I'm already headed that way I figured it might be fun knowing how awful things might get, like snow drifts in the Rockies for instance. 

Speaking of that, while I was tooling along down I-80 I contemplated just what I'd have for options in the event it really did start snowing. All along I-80 they have yellow lights on signs that say "If these puppies are flashing best you turn your tail around and head the other way as I-80 is shut." Or something like that, maybe not as wordy. But what came to me was I could rent a 4x4 pickup, load the Bonnie in the back, and head on down the line to where it wasn't snowing. Good idea, huh?

Another thing I did, sort of mindless maybe but since I'm so easily entertained I thought it was worth doing. There's somewhere in the neighborhood of a gazillion freight trucks moving along I-80 at any given moment but I wanted a number that was more accurate. I decided I'd count the buggers, not all of them but say 500 and compare that to how much time passed. Then to make things a bit easier I would only count the oncoming trucks as the ones rolling in my direction would get counted more than once due to passing and re-passing, etc. 

I noted the time and began the count. It was fairly easy as they tend to bunch up which makes it simple plus I was riding around 70 mph so the time between them wasn't great. I made it as far as 250, then my mind started to shut down so I did the math and I can tell you this: The number per hour is close to 600, or about 10 per minute on the average. This sampling was taken during the day, late morning actually, and the weather was sunny. Isn't that just Vunderbar? (No, I don't know how to spell that and neither does the stupid spell checker, it thinks I'm trying to spell underwear. Who would ever say "Isn't that just underwear?")

Late afternoon I arrived by choice at Rock Springs, Wyoming and handed over my credit card to the glassy-eyed people at The Outlaw Inn, a Best Western property. Amazingly their rates are less than those greedy dogs I stayed with last night and the facility is ten times as nice. It has a real sit-down restaurant where I had dinner tonight, pan-fried catfish with sides to die for. No, it's not up to par with what you get down south but those people have made cooking catfish into a real art and for the moment I think they're safe. Still it was a tasty meal with good service, all of which I'm grateful for. The same people will be serving breakfast which according to the menu will not resemble what Day's Inn considers acceptable fare. 

So that'll do it, keep the faith....


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sep 10 Day 21 - The Old Spanish Trail - North Platte, NB

This morning was sunny & bright out with only a slight chance of rain predicted, around 25%. Since I'd be riding north for awhile before turning west I had my fingers crossed hoping for a nice dry ride. 

Yesterday I'd checked Google Maps to see what the distance from Mt Vernon, MO to Bandon, OR was. It came up as 1,836 miles, a fair distance. Given my usual rate of travel I'd arrive home somewhere around Halloween or later.

No big deal I thought, I'll just plug along and eventually I'll get there. I figured I wouldn't be doing a lot of meandering unless the mood struck me, instead I'd stick to the freeways and try to get over the Rocky Mountains before the ski season opened.

A few miles into the day's ride I saw a road sign that startled me, Oregon appeared to have been relocated to the Missouri heartland. Not so I thought, it's probably a ruse contrived by local gypsies to lure unsuspecting Oregonian tourists off the beaten path to rob or kill them. I took the following photo as evidence in case it might be called for in the future and continued on my way undaunted..

You Gypsies can't fool me!

No matter how convincing the diversion might be, it's still evident this is NOT Oregon, it's just another one of those gigantic cow pastures people from Missouri seem to be fond of.
Further along, still riding north I had to stop and refuel. The only facility in view was the Sapp Brothers truck stop so I pulled in and did the deed. I have to admit I'd never seen a water tower done up to look like a tea pot.

I'm not so sure if my name was Sapp that I'd keep it. I might change it to something else like Schmuck or Carbuncle for instance. 

A few weeks ago while on one of the Indian reservations in MT I came across a Jr College named Chief Dull Knife. Names can be a bit disconcerting at times and I don't know that I'd keep that one either, especially on an institution of higher learning. 

Anyway the Sapp Brothers were on my mind to the point I left their facility and headed north again, only this time without bothering to consult the GPS and soon found myself in Iowa. Wrong. I performed the obligatory U-turn and headed back, passing the Sapp Brothers one more time so I waved and smiled as I rode by, somehow feeling a sense of familiarity and brotherhood for them. Straying off course never really bothers me, it's as I've said before, doing so presents an opportunity for spontaneous exploration of places you've never seen.

Bye guys, think about the name thing, eh?

For the rest of the day I managed to stay on track, maintaining a lead against the ominous looking dark clouds that were moving south. I saw a few lightning strikes but all were at a comfortable distance so none were worrisome. 

North Platte, NE would be right about the 400 mile mark for the day's ride so I opted to stay there for the night. My first choice for accommodations was the La Quinta, a really nice Inn and there it was, right next to the first off-ramp. Feeling particularly lucky I marched in and presented my newly acquired La Quinta Returns Card, drivers license, AARP card, and for the final touch my AAA platinum card. I even removed my earplugs. 

The reception gal smiled cheerily and after carefully calculating my discounts announced proudly "That will be our lowest price of only $141 plus tax." I smiled cheerily back at her and reinstalled my ear plugs. "Bye bye" I said and marched back out to the Bonnie. 

The Quality Inn was next and not a heck of a lot lower, barely twenty bucks but I took it as I didn't feel like dealing with Motel 6 tonight. It turned out to be just fine, the room is light years better looking than the exterior and quite comfy. 

As soon as I'd settled in I rode over to the nearby Burger King and picked up dinner, then headed back for some surfing on the 'Net and maybe fool around with Google Maps some more. I still don't know how to paste their maps into my blogs. In fact I don' t even know if the following link will work. Maybe the Dead Link Police will hunt me down....

Google Map - North Platte, NB to Bandon, OR

Anyway once again another fun-filled day of riding at screaming speeds on freeways has passed, hopefully tomorrow will be similarly entertaining..


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sep 09 Day 20 - The Old Spanish Trail - St Joseph, MO

Well today's blog is a total bust, I didn't take a single photo nor did I visit any interesting places. I didn't even spot any of those tourist point of interest stops. Crimony, I never even stopped for Gatorade! 

No pics, that's a bummer. But hey, how about this, Linda sent a picture of Riley a couple of days ago and he's always fun to look at.
Hiya Dad, when ya comin' home?

To be 100% truthful I actually did leave the freeway at one point to look at "Historic old town blah blah, only three miles down the road." That was a bust too as the place must not exist anymore. May have gotten plowed under so the locals could plant more corn. Or it got beamed up by Aliens, that's always a possibility. Any of you guys ever see Children of the Corn....

Last night before going  to bed I peeked out the window to see what was up. Rain that's what. During the night I got up a couple of times and looked out, hoping it would stop. Not a chance. This morning it was still coming down. At least I'd parked under the entry roof and put the cover on the Bonnie so it was nice and dry.

I guess if you're going to ride in the rain it's preferable that it starts like it did today, that way you can put all your rain gear on in the motel, not alongside the highway which is a real bugger.

Once I'd geared up I set out for Kansas City, MO where I thought I might stay over but when I arrived the rain had stopped and I wasn't tired so I kept on going. Freeway riding can almost be addictive sometimes, 75 mph really eats up the miles. Just for grins and for a new destination I plugged in "home" and after calculating for a couple of minutes it started posting instructions, heading me north towards Iowa where it will turn me west. At present it's too far away for the GPS to calculate an arrival time but at least it remembers how to get there.

I could probably have continued for another 100 miles but I'd already ridden close to 400 and that's enough for one day especially without photos. A lot of it was in rain which is tiring and I was ready for a break. St Joseph, MO was on the horizon so I opted for it and followed the GPS to the Comfort Inn, another of my sort-of-favorite haunts. The room is great, everything seems to work, especially the A/C so I think I'll just kick back and watch the tube.



Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Sep 08 Day 19 - The Old Spanish Trail - Mt Vernon, IL

This morning Woody, Linda, and I went out for breakfast, then we said our goodbyes. At our age we never know if we'll get to visit again so goodbyes are always heartfelt and sad.  

So long you old geezer. Same to you, you old geezer.

Larry would you pleeeeze not do that! 
Before leaving I managed to drop my helmet and of course the darn visor popped half way off so I got to go through the remount routine again. I'm actually getting pretty good at reinstalling it since I've done it so often. Eventually I headed out with Kansas City as a new destination. It was over five hundred miles away so I  knew I wouldn't make it in one day but it was my destination just the same.

This is the time of year when thousands of acres of corn are harvested and Kentucky seems to be highly active in this business. I'm not knowledgeable about what it's used for; probably animal food or maybe fuel for cars.

Some time later on I seemed to have passed through Indiana into Illinois without noticing it. I stopped to refuel, made a wrong turn in the process, drove darn near twenty miles out of my way and got to see some of the country I might otherwise have missed. Such is life on the road.

This place was somewhere out in the sticks in IL. I've no idea where as I was off the grid and wandering aimlessly. I stopped for gas, had a Gatorade and a Cliff Bar while the proprietors kept an eye on me. Probably because I was the only guy wearing a leather jacket when everyone else was in shorts & T-shirts. 

Gas is really cheap compared to home prices

I noticed it was getting on in the afternoon and since I'd ridden 318 miles for the day I decided I'd hang it up. Mt. Vernon, IL was on the radar and I stopped and checked into a Days Inn. 

Mt Vernon appears to be heavily committed to culture and the arts

Wait a minute, weren't these the greedy guys?
The manager Jerry told me to park the bike right out front and they'd keep an eye on it for me so I did. I like that policy a lot and quite a few places are doing it these days.

Jerry's a nice guy and very accommodating. He gave me a room at the far end of the hall well away from the front desk. Not the handicapped room either, this is a real room. Very nice. 

Please do not photograph the employees sir. Now go to your room.
So there ya go, all done for another day and the blog's all caught up. Tomorrow I'll push on to Kansas City.


Sep 07 Day 18 - The Old Spanish Trail - Otter Creek, KY

This morning I arrived in Otter Creek, KY where I'd stay overnight with my old Navy buddy Woody and his wife Linda. I unpacked and we visited, then it was time for Woody to have a lie-down and give his newly installed shoulder a rest so I scooted over to the nearby town of Hodgenville to see some of the Lincoln touristy stuff. I'd been there once before but I wanted to pick up a couple of gifts and take a few pics.

Hodgenville's downtown square 
I wandered into the Lincoln Museum where their primary focus seemed to be selling souvenirs to the unwary traveler. I glanced through an open doorway into the adjoining room and as I did so an officious looking man said "There's a $3.50 admission fee if you'd like to visit the museum room and the upstairs room." Somehow I couldn't bring myself to fork over even such a piddly amount to look at more artifacts so I changed my course and without missing a beat did an exit. 

Museum or souvenir shop?
 Back outside I decided to head over to the Lincoln statue and take a quick photo. As I approached there was a guy holding a selfy stick and grinning away at the camera on the end. Evidently he wasn't happy with the shot so he continued to shoot, then look at the result, then shoot some more. I found this entertaining so I started shooting pics of him and his selfy efforts but when he noticed me he sort of blanched and said "Uh, I'm just learning how to use this but I'll get out of your way". 

I shot a couple of pics and turned away so he came back and picked up the teddy bear he'd posed with but left sitting between Lincoln's shoes. This time he said sheepishly "I forgot this, it's been all over the world with me." I nodded and said "Uh huh." 

With the Lincoln statue photo session concluded I walked around the square a bit looking in the windows - most were closed since it was a holiday -  and eventually I went into the Almost Home foo-foo store. Those people seem to have accumulated the world's largest inventory of brick-a-brack; their items must have numbered in the thousands. I found a couple of gift things and called it good, stores like that make me nervous.

With my shopping done I headed back to Woody's where we had a fabulous dinner fixed by Linda, then we just sat around catching up on old memories from our days in the Navy and the years that followed. Woody's three days older than I am so I have to show respect and not challenge any of his recollections regardless of how unfounded they may be. 

You got that right some respect
As holidays go, particularly Labor Day, this one was great.; I got to mingle with tourists and hang out with one of my oldest friends. It doesn't get any better than that.