Sunday, August 14, 2011

Are you kidding me?

My only job for this morning was to sleep.  I set my phone to ring at 9, just in case I set a personal record, but I was up at 6 and TIRED, but can't sleep.  I finally gave up and figured I'd get some things done early and take a nap later if I could.  Check out is 11, so I've got a chance. (riiiight...)

I'm becoming more aware of how much I have no idea what I'm doing.  Or how very rudimentary the skills I do have are.  Worried?  Nah, I'm not worried...  :/

So, I check the weather, cuz my clothes still aren't dry.
Yeah...all that green stuff on the right side?  Hoagy calls it liquid sunshine.

When I decided that the new helmet I got didn't have enough road time for me to bring it and be sure I'd be comfortable, I grabbed my old helmet. The GoPro camera mount is there, so maybe I'll play with that this week.  I asked the folks I saw the day I left to sign it.
You go, girl, Come back in one piece. -Matt  and Rock on. - Tj
Have a blast & a safe trip. -Kelly C, Oz and Gavin  and I am the green Fairy - Jon :)

Safe travel - Paul F.  and Here's to miles of smiles! -Ron and Barbara and a note to self, just in case.

So, I should go get dressed and work on my list, huh?  Wish me luck!  (and a nap)


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Getting There: The BitE Rally Hotel

Well, after realizing I had waaaay more time than I thought I did to get where I'm going, I got more relaxed about where I was stopping on the way.

After leaving the casino in Charles Town, WV, last night I aw a sign that said Front Royal and realized I might be passing a friend's house, so I called to see if we could get together.
The view behind the Denny's... where I'm going to go ride later.

Ron and Barbara were able to meet me at Denny's for breakfast. 
Ron and Barbara P.

We spent an hour catching up and then they went off to do their thing and I looked up Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Parks.

This was the first of two 'yard crawls' I got stuck in today. 

The whole town agreed to have yard sales on the same day.  Traffic nightmare!

 I hit Ceder Creek and the woman there was great and showed me the new library and gave me some background.

Two miles to get to park hq from the visitor center and after I missed it (7718 1/2 Main St?  Come on! Get a sign!)

I decided to jump back on 81 and get to Skyline Drive.
Saw this on the way out of town.

I stopped at a visitor's center just before skyline drive's entrance and the guy there was tremendously sweet and helpful.  I was there for a little while while we talked and he gave me all kinds of info.  He loaded me up with state maps when I answered his question about why I was in the area.

I got to use my National Parks Pass to get into the park.  I love that thing. :)

Skyline Drive was lovely.  I only did the Northern section.  I didn't have 4 hours to tool around today, but definitely enjoyed the 1 1/2 hours I was there.

Having the gps with me was nice.  Knowing what was around the next corner and what kind of turn I was looking at was reassuring.  Not that at 35 there was much to worry about.  Fun to see the elevation change, too.

It was much less crowded today than when Charles R. and I drove it to get to Dr. Dave's Remedy Run a couple years ago.  I had the place mostly to myself.

One of the other motorcycles that was enjoying the park today in the distance.

It drizzled a little here and there, but nothing serious.

The guy at the VC had told me about the Hazzard Homecoming.  Apparently a bunch of the Dukes of Hazzard cast are in town for a festival of sorts.  There's also an Andy Griffith connection nearby.
Hazzard Homecoming sign.

Where I exited the park.

Really, teh whole day was an uneventful ride.  Not much to say about the scenery.  Looks like home except the roadside growth was taller and more rugged looking than home.  Otherwise, not much of particular interest through VA.  Saw some kitschy stuff, of course.

I laughed at this cuz I see it at SSA all the time, but have never seen it out in the real world.

Social Security billboard

Yogi bear and the sign for his campground.

The Luray Zoo.  you can't see the enormous gator head hiding behind the dinosaur.

The weather report this morning in the hotel had warned me about the scattered storms today.  So far, it hasn't been too bad.
The weather threatened rain on and off.

I stopped at Outlanders when I saw it, cuz there had been some billboards earlier.  It's a bike/ATV/Skate shop, apparently.

As soon as I got off the bike, Lewis was there saying 'hi' and inviting me to the fundraiser down the hill.  That explained the 12 or 15 bikes and the crowd I saw when I pulled in.  He introduced me to the Buffalo Soldiers and the gentleman they were raising money for.  All really nice and a couple of the guys and I chatted for a half hour or so before I checked out the shop.

All-wooden motorcycles were on display around the shop.

$25!  A steal, I thought.

The off-road side and one of the many animals mounted around the store.

Not that I care for the skulls, particularly, but the paint job was incredible!

 I'm working on Smoke Chasers '11, too, so I figure I might as well collect some BBQ joints in VA while I'm here.  We'll see if there are any others this week!
I was trying to get to the buffet meeting at 630, so passed on Smiley's BBQ.

Both Smiley's and Three Little Pigs were listed on the exit food signs.  If they're close enough to be listed, I figure they're a pretty easy on/off to get.

I did pick up some Vinegar BBQ here.  It was ok.  It was ok.  A little dry, I thought and some of the pieces were crunchy-dry.

Finally, North Carolina!

And Statesville!

I got to the early bird dinner at 640 and had fun chatting with the riders and the Rally masters.  BBQ and fried chicken with mashed potatoes on the menu.  I was starving and glad to sit and eat in good company.  I took off at 8 to try to get my act together.

I'd seen another BBQ place listed on the same exit as the hotel when I pulled in earlier, so before I went to the hotel, I stopped for my 3rd VA BBQ place.

I stayed here for a minute to find a hotel.  The one I'd spotted from the highway earlier was available and turns out to share a parking lot with JR's.  I don't know if anyone else is familiar with JR's, but AM, Jon and Matt:  I'm going to JR's tomorrow!!

The view from my hotel room.

So, here's the bottom line:  ok, except that i didn't turn it off when i got to the hotel, so the total time and time stopped are over by a little more than 2 hours.
Double yesterday's miles and still nothing compared to what some folk will be riding this week!

The hotel is ok.  David, who checked me in, was great and the room is fine.  The bathroom leaves a little to be desired.  And, on the ride today I discovered that a drink didn't like the heat, perhaps, and had leaked through it's still closed pop top...into my bag of clothes, of course.  I knew something was wrong at Smiley's when I picked it up and it was half empty.  So, I got to spend lots of time in the shower trying to rinse it out of my clothes.  Now Every light in the room is draped with something.  If I NEED a dryer tomorrow there's a laundromat across the street in the JR's strip.  Of course,

 So, I've been messing with my blog instead of changing out my headlight bulbs, deleting SD cards for the rally photos, checking my camera, charging batteries...blah, blah, blah, so I have a list of things to do tomorrow before the 11 am check in and the 430 mandatory meeting and dinner.   I doubt laundromat will get checked off the list.

Friday, August 12, 2011

If I ever get out the door... the BitE Rally.

Hi, All,

If you're getting this mail, then, for some reason, I think you might be interested in following my next trip.  If I'm wrong about that, just respond and I take you off the next trip list. :)  Please send to anyone else you think might be interested, I know I obscured the recipient list, so you'll have to guess. :)

Ok, so this time 'round I'm doing my 1st multiday rally.  Ok, so the real 1st rally was, like, 36 hours, but I'm not counting that even though it's technically longer than a day.  This one is 5 days and anything East of the Mississippi is fair game.
Now, i'm competitive, personally, but realistically, i haven't got a chance in hades with the group in riding with. :)  Some of them have spent more for equipment for their bikes, than I spent on my house.  There is a 'hopeless' class on some rallies, but that's for 45 year old Nortons or 125cc scooters, etc.  Folks may laugh at them, but it comes with a certain amount of respect for the cajones required to make a serious attempt on something like that.  My bike is a 2010 cruiser with bags.  I'll have a gps and my spot tracker.  I might get laughed at...sans respect.  No, not really, but you know how we humans are...  sometimes, I know not very often, but just sometimes, we're judgemental.  Every once in a while we see something that doesn't fit our expectations and the voice in your head goes, "pfft, yeah, right."  sometimes you might even say it out loud.  That's about where I think I am. :)

So, while I'll still put several thousand miles on the bike and do my damnedest not to be bottom 5 (again), there's a certain freedom to riding with no expectation of winning.  And that's about where I think I am, too.

So, I'll be leaving today, hopefully, to head to Georgia for the start. 
The spot link is

the blog link is
I still haven't caught up from the last trip, so i have no idea if I'll post anything till i'm back, but there you go.

ok, so it's 230 and i haven't left yet, so I probably missed some folks...forward away! 

My first posts will probably be 'what I forgot to pack'. :)

Thank you for your support!!  :D joanne

BitE trip Day 1

Oh, my.

I had planned on leaving by noon today.

That didn't happen.

I had some things to take care of before I left, plus run around and find all the things I can't live without on a bike trip, but never use.

This is what I want to get on the bike.  About a third of that is bike stuff.  Air pump, bungy net, tire repair kit, rain gear, etc.  the dog didn't make the cut and the clothes are on the right.  Bare bones in the clothing dept! 

Desperately trying to finish the email I started 4 days ago.
I went through some email and made sure that I'd gotten caught up, for the most part.

Rear wheel with 7k on it.
Front wheel with 7k on it.

I finally got out of the house at 4.  Once I left the house I stopped at Tj's to drop off some paperwork.  So, finally on the road at 430.  Ok, well, not really, cuz I'm gonna stop at Jon's to say goodbye and return a charger he lent me last week.   Get to Jon's at 5.  Didn't have the power cord.  Leave at 530.  Just in time for rush hour.  And the setting sun.  But the backups didn't last very long and we moved along pretty well.

At about 6, I stopped for food.  My choices at this exit were McD's and a chinese buffet.  Yes, I was tempted, but decided to go with the chain.  A happily uneventful meal and I was back on the road.

I was very proud of myself for not stopping at Harper's Ferry NP

 I took 70W to 81S which puts you spitting distance from Charles Town Races and Slots.  The gps said that the distance to get there would add a whole minute to my route.  Of course, I also lost an hour and $45, but it was a good break from having the setting sun in my eyes constantly and I was able to down a couple glasses of water while I was there not winning anything, so I guess it wasn't a total loss.

On my way out a guy noticed my gear and we started talking bikes.  Al had won the money to buy his last bike.  A ridiculous story of winning hefty amounts over and over...  I was a bit envious, to be sure.

The very ledge where 2 years ago I'd left my tracking phone the week before I was supposed to leave for a cross country trip. 

 When I left the casino, the last of the color in the sky was fading and I didn't have to squint!  I wanted to make another hour or two before finding a hotel to stop at.  It was chilly when I left and I regretted not putting on another layer. 

I saw several things that caught my attention pretty quick:

A sign for Front Royal made me think I might pass Ron and Barbara's place, so I stoppped at the next turn off to call them.  Remarkable, they were up.  And are able to meet for breakfast tomorrow!  I got directions to a Denny's we'd meet at at 830 and got moving again.  And regretted not putting on another layer.  again.

On the way, I saw signs for a Nat'l Battlefield as well as for Skyline Dr.  I was considering how much time I might have for flower sniffing and thought it might be worth a little back tracking in the morning...  10 mins later I pull into the Denny's find out that the hotels on this exit are $100+ and take Matt's advice on the Super 8 less than 4 miles away.  Even though it's north of where I am. :/

When I get there she quotes me something higher than Matt found online.  I asked for the least expensive room for me for one night.  She offers a room where the tv is broken and has a discounted rate, since the internet is down and may not be updating Travelocity.

When I get to the room, the first thing I do is turn on the tv. Check!  It works.

Then I pull out the computer to test the internet. Check, too!  Awesome.  Now to heat up a microwave meal from the saddlebags, shower, do a couple things here and there and get some sleep!!!

So.  An impressive 127 miles today.  At this rate I don't know If I'll make it from the starting point to the checkpoint before the deadline. lol.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 4 or "This was supposed to be my short day."

Not finished, but I"ll publish the draft in case you're curious.  I gotta get on the road!  :)jw

Ah, the beautiful Northwest.  I hope I will not watch you go by through a rain spattered visor.

The outlook for the day.  Rain with a chance of rain.  Some flooding with more rain and be grateful for it, cuz the rest of the country is dealing with triple digit heat.  But this is the route.  Only one planned stop for the day: Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

 I go out to pack the bike and see that I was a stone's throw from a casino.  They are EVERYwhere.  Every state out here.  And I have resisted.  And, therefore, still have money for gas.

My goal for yesterday was 600 miles.  From the odo in the morning, that would have put me at 7000 miles.  I was actually short by about 10 miles when I got to Fargo last night, but I spent so much time running around on frontage roads and being lost, that I 'made it'.  Of course, the goal was to make actual *progress* Westward, but, hey, whadduhyagonnado?

So today's goal, again, is 600 miles.  This is the most boring superslab 600 miles EVER.  It seriously says, "587 miles, then make a right".  8 hours 18 minutes in Joanne MC time is really 12-13 hours, plus a park stop, make that 13-14 hours on the road today.

The sky is clear and beautiful.

But I know what the forecast looked like.

And I ain't havin' it.

I'm exploring my opportunities.

Doin' my research.

Cuz I see you out there, Sky.  And I know what you're doing...

Not trusting the weather, I decide that, even though I'm hungry, I'm going to run out as far as I can before the rain starts and wehn the rain starts I'll take a break.  The weather holds out longer than I do and I need gas anyway.  It takes me till North Dakota to have some Wisconsin cheese.  Yum, breakfast.

Because of the way the stickers are on the pump I ask about the gas here.  Indeed, the sticker is meaningfully placed.  Only one grade of gas in 'enriched' with ethanol.  Woot!  I get non-ethanol gas and know what to look for now.

Back on the road with some string cheese in my face, I'm still looking for the clouds.

It's a long and boring drive.  Not much to the scenery, though it's pretty, but it's the saaaaammme for a very long time.  So I notice other stuff.  Like the odometer.  Ok, so it's not just here.  I also got the 6666.6 odo yesterday. :)  I'm keeping an eye out for 7777.7 later, too.

And analyzing my possibilites.

As I watch the clouds develop.

Most of the underpasses are similar.  There are two primary types, as far as I'm concerned, with variations of each.

I definitely prefer one over the other. 

There's this one, where the slope is concrete from the road to the corner.  Now, it is unfortunate that there's no 'seat' on many of these, but at least I can park the bike and walk up there easily and it's fairly clean and straightforward.   Imperfect, but totally acceptable.

I prefer the paved to the dirt, weeds, gravel or rocky inclines.

She thinks I don't see her sneaking up on me?  Pfft.  Lady, been there, done that.  I see you and your water-holding particulates.

Thinks she's sly...  making them all pretty and everything.

Come on, even the cagers are getting suspicious...

Then Mother Nature gives up being subtle about it and the clouds start to take over.

I make a pit stop, but resist getting off the bike for photos, since the rain is clearly coming.  But from the bike I manage to pull over for two seconds to get these.


Evidence of the heavy rains and flooding that have been causing problems for several states recently.

The clouds continue to gather.

And I make sure the overpasses still appear at regular intervals.

The bag I got at Wendy's on Day 2 in Ohio has developed holes form being battered by the wind.

I've been plowing along, but my bum is not happy on this seat and I use a scenic pull-over to take a minute to restore circulation.

This, of course, means SUP!er Macroooooo....

Again, so many shots of not-what-I-was-aiming-at.

Still checking out the local accommodations.

So, clearly, something is going to happen.  It's just a matter of time.  I can't believe I've escaped it this far.  I watch the oncoming traffic for signs of what's ahead...

First, you'll see headlights in the middle of the day.  Very useful to notice when the skies aren't as obvious about your future as these.  Most cars forget about turning their headlights on, so when more than 50% of the cars coming your way have their headlights on and there doesn't seem to be a reason, well, there's a reason. 

Then you watch for wet cars.  Obvious, yes, if you're paying attention.  Dry road and wet cars = peek into your future.  Wet road and dry cars = peek into the not too distant past.

Wet cars, with or without lights, still running their windshield wipers = peek into your immediate future.

I see some cars with headlights, but none of them wet or running their wipers...  moving, moving, moving...

Not a whole lot of company out here.

A frequent reminder not to mess around with your fuel limits.  The no service sign is common and they ain't kidding.

A gas stop before the park.  12:30 and 71 degrees.  I stopped at Evil Mart right before this to get a voice recorder.  We'll see if that helps me keep track of things any better.  My usual note-taking strategy has been suffering.  12 hour days are hard to keep track of.

The clouds continue, but no rain.

And I continue to keep my eye out on my resources.

The park!!

This is the first of two VC's I'll hit.  The other is just 12 miles or so up the road on my way.

On the way in I pass a rider on an LD set up packed for the long haul.  I wonder again if any of the LD-looking folks I've been passing are on the Long Distance rider list or headed to the Good, the Bad and the Ugly Rally that I know is happening soon.  Gotta check that out.

Some of the displays at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

I REALLY want to see the Bison.  I REALLY wanted to go through Wind or Jewel Caves, but there's definitely no time on this trip for that.  But, I got all giddy when I read online that Bison are in the TRNPark.

Didn't see any, though. 

Here's something cool that I won't be going to.

An excellent example of how the landscape changed in a blink from boring flat to 'broken', as Teddy apparently called it.

The sky still looks gloomy.

I'd had my rain jacket on from the start, since the forecast was calling for rain starting in the afternoon and it was cool in the morning.

I put the rest of the gear on at the other visitor center.

And now I'm HOT!

And still no rain.  But it looks nasty.

At least the land is interesting to look at now.  It was pretty before, but like Pop said of Nebraska, miles and miles of miles and miles.

Second VC coming up!

The town of Medora that the park is in.

Oooh, the Fudge and Ice Cream Depot.  I can totally see spending time there.  But I don't, cuz I have a schedule and need to keep moving!  NONE FOR YOU!

The park is where T. Roosevelt owned some land/ranches for many years after some deaths in his family, apparently.  This was before he was president.  He was a big hunter, but fell in love with the area.  It was a weird and sudden shift in the landscape from the flat, flat of East ND to here.  And then it turned into 'the badlands'!

Some cool stuff at the second visitors' center.

This looks like one of the birds I saw earlier swoop into one of those road lakes to join a group of others...  I thought 'Was that a pelican?', but I have no experience with pelicans and didn't know that they lived in this area, that they hung in groups and that they were so dang big!  But apparently I did see a bunch of these birds on the flooded roadside lakes earlier.  Cool.

Oh, my God, she's off the bike...which means??!!   SUP!er macroooo...

This is actually a large petrified tree trunk in the visitors' center.

Denise's Moto Guzzi, Fuzzy, is doing great on the road.

We're in Medora, ND.

Off the bike again...and messing with some Sage.  I love sage.  I rub my hands all in it and put it on my neck wrap.

Got this one while I was waiting for Courtney to get an answer from her boss about MC parking stickers to go with the Annual Pass I just picked up.

No luck on the sticker, but I grabbed a hang tag for now.  Maybe I can trade up at another park. :)

Back on the road and it still looks ominous.

I realize that  there's sage all over the roadside.  And I want some.

So I start looking for a 'good place' to stop and grab some from the side of the road.

Little rain drops spit at my windshield and knock on my visor...

But it only lasts a couple of minutes at most. And doesn't get any heavier.

And then the clouds start to develop form.

And diversify.

And... break up?

I start to think that I may have ridden under it.

That I escaped an impromptu underpass rest stop.

There's still the random construction to keep you hopping, though.  The 4 lane becomes 2 and somebody, East or West bound, has to jump over to split the lanes on the other guy's side.  This time, though, they just divert all of us to an exit and back on because they've dumped piles of dirt on the highway. 

I couldn't figure out why, but what do I know?

 I'll bet she's mad...but I think I dodged it.

Finally!  Montana!!  Big Sky Country is right.

I seem to have made it though without hitting significant rain.  I'm sure Mother Nature is planning her retaliation.  I've got a whole lot of time left to find out.

So, still cloudy, but getting nicer.

Many spots of construction, but not enough traffic to make it obnoxious.

What?  Bad Route Road?  Seriously?  Well, I have to pay homage to this exit, as I've been on this road so many times and had no idea that it was actually in Montana.

Which meant I got to see these cows.  And the cow saw me.

And I love this.

And back on the road.

Yellowstone river!  Oh, now I'm just aching to make a detour to Yellowstone.  I wanna see me some bison!

I love signs that say 'World Famous'. Really?  I mean I certainly don't know everything, but I'm often dubious.

Reasons I hate my GPS, continued:
GPS tells me to get off 94 to go on business route 94.  WHY?  I look at the gps and zoom out and can't figure out why.  But I stop here to have some water and try to figure out why it's routing me this way.  I decide that I know better and go back the mile I came to go back on 94 proper.  I didn't have as much water as I thought I did, so I'll be looking for an exit soon to take a break and hydrate.  This exit is 'business 94', but none of the businesses in sight or on the gps have food.  Stupid gps.

And it's hot!  I did get to take off my rain gear at the Pepsi sign, though.

So, the very next exit (of course) has fast food and gas and everything I need.  and a chinese buffet...

Wendy's/Chinese. Wendy's/Chinese.  I'm actually in need of some down time.  I need some time off the bike and out of the sun and some time to get some water back into my cells.  And this, I tell myself, is the perfect reason to break my road rules: never eat at one-offs!  Stay with chains.  Stay with what you know.  But do I listen?

Now, if I'd seen that it was $12, I would have turned around immediately and gone to the Wendy's .25 miles the other way, but I was already in when I saw the sign.

So, here's my$12 worth of 10 cnets of rice and some meat.  Waitress was ok, but I met Peter, who bought me a drink. (Took my soda off the bill) and had a great sense of humor.  He got me my white rice.  He took my check at the register and after many years of searching, I finally ask this guy from California who's here helping out the family restaurant:  I like 3 kinds of soy sauce.  All of them are to-go.  That panda one right there is one of them, but I can't find them in the store.  Do you know what brand they are?  He gives me a website to try and later brings a plastic bag full of to-go packets to the table.

Now, I'm still at the table because I broke my rule.  The food did not sit well and I was going to have to wait it out there.

So, I talked with Peter and texted my mom and talked to a boy who was fascinated by this frog.

The frog with the creepy flash-eyes.  Creepy, misunderstood albino frog.  We also watched the turtle race around and the fish that sometimes tried to eat the pennies that aren't supposed to go in there any more.

And then, an hour or so after breaking my rule, I head out again.

I pulled off at a scenic pull off for a little while.  Now that I hit the park, I have nothing specific planned except to make as much progress as I can before I call it a day.

SUPer Macroooooo!!!

Then, as the sun starts to set the clouds return.

The office.

The friendly, but not open, corner.

no photos for: flat tire car, bird, speed limit, Billings, flying J, Phil-not drunk, just tired, smelled like he trucks cows, hotels casino.

Oh, mah gawd, that was a long day.