My Cross-Country Trip...

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by mnewell, May 21, 2004.

  1. mnewell

    mnewell Lucy.

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    Hello!

    The following posts are a write-up of my journey across the U.S. I thought you guys would be interested in reading it...

    Enjoy!
     
  2. mnewell

    mnewell Lucy.

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    Greetings from somewhere 4 miles south of Indiana!

    (first a little background)

    So as most of you already know, I flew down to Florida on Saturday to buy a motorcycle (2001 Aprilia Mille R). My plan was to check it out and if all was good, I would ride it back. Well, all was good, so on Sunday afternoon I was on my way.

    I left Madison, Fl. at about 1:45 and proceeded north towards Atlanta. I was just getting used to the bike so it was a pretty mellow ride. After about 45 minutes into my ride a girl driving a Cavalier zoomed past me at about 100mph. Twist the throttle and I'm pacing her a 1/4 mile back. Making pretty good time. We encounter some traffic and I am able to zip past her. About 5 minutes later she comes flying up and passes me. 15 seconds after that a cop comes up with the lights on! She's busted! I felt bad for her though... Her and I made good time for about 45 minutes. Oh well, I'm sure I'll have my chance to get pulled over somewhere on this trip.

    Rode through Atlanta. The skies opened up and the rain came down in biblical proportions. It was weird though... The temperature was in the mid-80s and it was somewhat sunny and it was pouring. But it would
    only last for about 5 miles and then it would be sunny. I'd get drenched and then I'd dry off half an hour later.

    About 5 miles outside of Chattanooga, TN. I encountered a guy pushing his Honda cruiser. I immediately pulled over to help him out. He had run
    out of gas. We pushed it about a 1/4 mile up a hill and once we got to the top, he tried to start it. Damn bike fired right up! I ran back to my bike and found that I had broke the kickstand kill switch. Nothing more than an annoying light on the dash... It's weird though. I pulled over to help a guy and increase my good karma and when I got back to the bike, I broke something. <sigh>

    Stayed the night in Chattanooga. Not much to say about that town. Cruised the main strip and noticed about 20 cruisers parked on the road. Saw two sport bikes (old F3 and a Hayabusa) in the mix. Parked next
    to them and went inside to grab a drink. Came out and a few people were checking out my bike. [​IMG]

    I parked the Mille in my bedroom. I'm not taking any chances on this trip...

    This morning I started the Mille and put it in gear. The bike immediately dies. Damnit! It's the stupid kickstand kill switch. I pull the switch mechanism off the bike and examine how it works. I turn it to where I think it will work, put it back on. Start the bike, put it in gear, pull the kickstand up, it dies. Grrr! I figure that the kickstand is moving the
    switch so I loosen the mount for the switch so the kickstand can't move it and it is all good. All of this delays me by about 30 minutes...

    I wanted to stop in Nashville but it started to rain about 5 miles out of town. Trying to find a parking spot and walking around in the rain is not my cup of tea so I rode through. Made a wrong turn outside of Nashville and had to backtrack about 15 miles. Doh!

    Next stop is St. Louis. I want to get some shots of the Mille and the Arch. I think that will be pretty cool. Hopefully, there will not be any rain.

    The ride has been surprisingly painfree. Riser bars give me relatively pain free wrists and arms. The bike has a Corbin seat and my butt loves it. Compared to the Honda seat on my Viffer, the Corbin is a Godsend. I need to figure out someway to strap my backpack to the tail of the bike because my back is starting to get fatigued... By the time I get to
    Seattle, I may have the posture of Quasimodo if I keep this up.

    That's about it. Dunno how far I'm gonna make it today. Depends on how much time I spend in St. Louis.
     
  3. mnewell

    mnewell Lucy.

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    When we last left the story, I was somewhere in Tennessee. No idea what town I was in. They all seem the same...

    Anyways, I stopped at a WalMart and found some bungie cords to tie down my backpack to the tail of the bike. Heaven for my back! The backpack is almost like a backrest too! With the riser bars, the Corbin seat, and the backpack/backrest, I feel like I'm on a Goldwing. Heh... Maybe not that plush, but it's pretty sweet. [​IMG]

    While I was in the parking lot of Walmart I notice that the rear tire on my bike had the wear bars showing. Damn. Doesn't look like I'll be able to
    ride back to Seattle on that tire. <sigh> I was wondering if I'd even be able too make it to Des Moines (where my sister lives) on that tire.

    I made it into St. Louis at about 7:00 in the evening on Monday. Went straight to the Gateway Arch. Man, that thing is soooo cool looking! I've seen it from the air but never got a chance to see it up close. While taking pictures of the Arch I noticed that the steel belts on my rear tire were now showing. Yikes!

    Stayed at a casino in St. Louis... Well, casino is stretching it a bit as it was a hotel on the river with a riverboat docked next to the hotel. No
    gambling in the casino but you could walk down to the boat and play. The boat never moved from the dock. Apparently gambling is illegal in Missouri but the river is actually part of Illinois and it is legal there. Weird. And you have to pay for your beers! What's up with that? I decided to try and play a few hands of blackjack. You know, maybe win enough cash to pay for my new tire. But with the house playing with 8 decks, no way was I gonna win. I left after losing a bit of cash and went to the safety of my room.

    The next morning I found a (non-Harley) motorcycle shop that had a rear tire in the size that I needed. The shop actually screwed up and put the wrong tire on my bike. (At first I was thinking, "Man! Metzeler M1s look different in the midwest! Oh wait... Those are Metzeler M6s." Doh!)

    New tires on the bike and I was on my way to Des Moines, Ia. to see my sister. The ride from St. Louis to Des Moines was pretty uneventful. I encountered a cop in Missouri that gave me a thumbs up and then, I
    think, he wanted to race me. He got next to me and was surging forward and then slowing down. I figured he was trying to bait me so I stayed back... Visions of getting thrown into jail in Missouri kept me sane.

    So now I'm at my sister's. Gonna be here for a few days and then hit the road again.

    Not quite half way through the journey... Should be home sometime in the middle of next week.
     
  4. mnewell

    mnewell Lucy.

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    When I last wrote, I was staying at my sister's place in Des Moines, Ia. On Sunday the 16th, I continued my journey leaving from Council Bluffs, Ia. I took backroads most of the way (thanks for the suggestions MilleMan) Let me tell ya, that was probably the worst day of riding in my life. It was wet, cold, foggy, windy. It sucked. Did you all see the video of the tornados in Nebraska? That action was happening just west and south of me... I didn't see any twisters but when I watched the news later, I was not surprised to learn that they were happening. As I was riding through the Badlands of South Dakota, my fuel light went on. Shit! I did not want to run out of gas. Especially here. Finally I see a sign that says the next town (Scenic, SD) is 25 miles away. I pull into the gas station in Scenic (which, by the way wasn't very scenic) at about 4:55. Gas station closes at 5:00. I don't think I've ever been so happy to fill up a vehicle.

    I finally made it into Rapid City about an hour or so later. Stayed at the first clean motel that I could find. Had a few drinks in the motel lounge and learned that the bartender was from Tacoma. He was a cool cat... He let me stay afterhours (bar closed at 7:00) and fed me free beers.

    Thoughts on this day:

    -Worse day riding EVAR! It would have been better if the roads were more fun but pretty much everything about this day sucked...
    -There are a lot of towns with not many people along the way. The smallest town was St. John, in Nebraska. Population: 53. I ask, what's the point in even putting up a sign?
    -The Badlands kinda look like the surface of the moon.
    -Lotsa of towns that look like they were abandoned. Kinda eery riding through them.
     
  5. mnewell

    mnewell Lucy.

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    So I left Rapid City on Monday morning and my goal was to make it as close to Yellowstone as possible. I also wanted to check out the different monuments in the South Dakota area (Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse, etc). The ride from the motel to Mt. Rushmore was the best road, so far, that I had been on. The only problem was it was damn foggy. Like pea soup foggy. Like you can't see 5 feet in front of you foggy. Like you need a lighthouse to see foggy. Well, you get what I'm saying...

    One of the things that was bothering me the day before was the stinging of the rain as it hit my neck. I stopped in Keystone (on the way to Mt. Rushmore) and tried to find a scarf of some sort. They had scarves of some sort... Silk scarves made for women! Screw that... I'm not gonna buy one of those and ride around looking like Zorro the gay blade. So I did the next best thing. I bought the biggest Harley (shudder) shirt that I could find and wrapped it around my neck. In the history of Harley related clothing, this was probably the most functional usage ever.

    So I made it to Mt. Rushmore. Walked to the observation area and I couldn't see a damn thing. Too damn foggy. Went to the gift shop and bought some glove liners and decided to leave.

    About 5 minutes after I left Rushmore the weather miraculously cleared up. I mean, it got nice and hot! After spending the day before in utter misery, the sun shining down was heaven. And the roads were so damn fun! I was tempted to turn around and check out Rushmore again just so I could ride the road again... But, alas, I wanted to continue on my way to the Crazy Horse monument. Plus the road to Crazy Horse was pretty damn good too.

    The Crazy Horse monument is amazing. When that strusture is finished it will be the largest structure made from rock in the world. To put it into perspective, all of the faces from Mt. Rushmore can fit on the face of the Crazy Horse monument. It's a shame that the thing probably won't be finished in my lifetime. I would love to see it when it is complete...

    All of this sightseeing and playing around didn't allow for much travel. But the roads that I did ride on were the finest yet. A sunny day and great roads. What more can you ask for? I stopped in Buffalo, WY for the night. I was thinking about riding further but ominous dark clouds in the distance made me think twice.

    Thoughts on this day:

    -If anybody is thinking about riding to Rushmore, I have a park permit that is good for the whole year. Lemme know if you need it.
    -I stopped into a sporting goods store in Hill City. All of the employees were women. 6 feet tall amazonian women who looked like they could crush me with their thumbs. It was cool.
    -I'm seriously considering doing Sturgis some day. South Dakota has some great roads...
     
  6. mnewell

    mnewell Lucy.

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    The next morning I was on my way to Yellowstone. The good roads and nice weather continued for me. Life was good. Until I ran out of gas. Luckily when my bike finally coasted to a stop I was right next to a road construction crew (it seems that road construction is a big thing in Wyoming). I had to walk maybe 25 feet to ask the head dude if he had any gas that I could have. He said no problem and had a junior worker grab the gas can and bring it to my bike. I didn't even have to carry the can. I felt kinda bad but quickly got over it...

    I pulled into Cody, Wy. to top off my tank and grab some lunch. It was about 2:00 or so and I still had a good hour or so before I got to Yellowstone. As I got done with lunch, the rain started falling. Damnit. I knew the good weather wouldn't last... With the rain coming down like cats and dogs, I pulled into a sporting goods store and bought a waterproof shell and a neck gaitor to keep me warm and dry. I step outside of the store with my new gear on and the rain had stopped and it was sunny out. Doh!

    As you leave Cody you drive past a dam and along the way, there are three tunnels built right out of the side of the rock mountain. The first two tunnels are relatively short but the third tunnel is probably about 1/3 of a mile long. It's actually kinda eery inside the tunnel because the only light you see is the end of the tunnel. You look up and you can see the rock of the mountain. Definitely not for the clausterphobic.

    On the way to Yellowstone, I went past Powder River Pass. This is the highest point East of the Rockies. Snow was on the side of the road. I was hoping that this was all the snow that I would see.

    As I came into Yellowstone, the rain started up again. I was glad that I had bought that gear back in Cody... I entered through the Eastern entrance and was making my way towards Old Faithful. I wasn't sure if I wanted to stay the night in the park or ride through. But as I continued on my way the weather worsened. I guess the East entrance is the highest and coldest because the lake I passed was frozen. By the time I got to the Continental Divide, it was farking snowing! Not quite blizzard-like but it was coming down pretty good. After some picture taking I mounted back up and continued on my way to Faithful. Fighting the weather, foggy face shield, and frozen fingers. Frozen fingers were probably the worst thing. Coming into a corner you go to grab some brakes and you can't move your hands too well... This was more of a facter two days prior when I was in Nebraska because I was traveling at a much faster pace. At least in Yellowstone, I was going slower.

    I finally arrived in Faithful. The weather had convinced me that I was going to stay the night to dry off. Plus the park ranger had said that the forecast for tomorrow was only a 30% chance of rain. I pulled into the Old Faithful Inn and was lucky enough to get the last room available. I guess lucky is kind of a misnomer because the rates were pretty damn expensive and the room had a double bed, steam heat, a sink, not many lights, and no toilet or shower. The toilet and shower were shared with others on the floor. I believe that the room that I got was one of the original hotel rooms when the place was built in 1904. But I digress. The Old Faithful Inn is an amazing place. Full of character and infused with charm. When I go back to Yellowstone, I am definitely staying there again.

    After checking in, I walked around the geysers. Watched Old Faithful erupt. Well, I didn't actually see it go off. I was trying to take a macro-shot of another geyser when it went off. Doh! I did get some cool pictures though...

    After returning to the Inn I grabbed a beer from the 2nd floor mezzanine bar and people watched for about an hour. It's interesting the variety of people that come to Yellowstone... After that I had an awesome dinner at the restaurant in the hotel and went to bed.

    Thoughts on this day:

    -Remember when I said I saw a town with only 53 people in Nebraska? I passed a town in Wyoming that said there were only 10 people in the town. I was tempted to pull into the town and round up all 10 people for a group shot...
    -When I was going through that tunnel, I swear I saw eyes shining when I looked up. It gave me the heeby-jeebies.
    -The Mille handles pretty good in the snow.
    -Buffalo are lazy animals. No wonder they almost went extinct...
    -As I was riding through Yellowstone, I had to pee really bad. I stopped in a semi-secluded area and did my business in the woods. I was afraid a bear would maul me as I stood there. Probably the quickest pee in my life.
     
  7. mnewell

    mnewell Lucy.

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    This now brings us to Wednesday morning...

    I woke up super early. Too much damn commotion going on to sleep so I decided to hit the road. Completed the loop around Yellowstone and left through the North entrance.

    Hauled ass through Montana. Gotta love a state in which, just a couple of years ago the speed limit was "Reasonable and Prudent". I was cruising at triple digit speeds when I encountered a cop going in the same direction as me. Damn. Now I'm going to have to do only 75mph. Not so! The cop was cruising at about 97-100mph so I just dropped back about 1/4 mile back and paced him for about an hour as I rode into Missoula. Made it into Missoula, fueled up and was excited to be riding Highway 12 (Lolo Pass).

    Holy cow. Highway 12 is the best road in the country. Too all those that have not been on this road, you must go and do it. Do it now. Do it this year. Just do it. There is a sign that says "Winding Roads Next 77 Miles". The winding roads actually last well over 100 miles because the jaunt from the bottom of the pass to Lewiston is a lot of fun too. It was kinda weird at first riding Lolo Pass because the pavement looks deceiving. The pavement in the center of each lane looks just like loose gravel. And then the pavement changes and it kinda looks like wet pavement. This lasted for about 30 miles or so... No worries though. I still had another 40 miles of awesome pavement to work with.

    I made it into Lewiston at about 6:00. Decided that I was tired of staying at hotels and I really missed Janet so I was gonna ride through to Seattle. Made it home at about midnight.

    Thoughts on the day:

    -We need to make a weekend trip to do Lolo Pass. Seriously. It kicks arse.
    -After riding well over 3,500 miles, averaging close to triple digit speeds, I finally got a ticket less than 50 miles into Washington. It just goes to show you that the cops in Washington are Nazis and they take there speed enforcement a bit too seriously.
    -I saw some really cool electrical activity in the clouds when I was in Eastern Washington.
    -There are waaaay too many bugs in Eastern Washington. When I stopped for gas in Vantage, I was literally covered in bugs. It was pretty gross.
    -The Mille makes a pretty good long distance tourer.

    It's good to be back home.
     
  8. mnewell

    mnewell Lucy.

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  9. GCEX

    GCEX Drifting Along

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    :cool: How many miles were you averaging a tank? Fuck I would've been scared shitless if I was on some desolate highway and my reserve light came on. :wtc: You've got big balls.
     
  10. Hybr1d The0ry

    Hybr1d The0ry phatb0i

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    one word, awesome.


    i seriously love that bike.. great write up.

    ride safe!!
     
  11. mnewell

    mnewell Lucy.

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    The Mille gets about 150 miles before the light goes on and then I've got about another 30 miles before it is empty. This is highway cruising at about 90-95mph. Around town riding the bike gets about 120 miles before the light goes on.

    I was pretty freaked out while going through the Badlands and the light came on. It's in the middle of nowhere!
     
  12. fyp619

    fyp619 New Member

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    cool pics and story...nice bike too :bigthumb:
     
  13. Pineapple Devil

    Pineapple Devil beat it!

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    i wish i would have known you were going to stay in chattanooga you could met up with me. what day was it that you were downtown? i bet you all us other bikes were on the other end of town
     
  14. mnewell

    mnewell Lucy.

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    I was in Chattanooga on Sunday night (the 9th). If I recall correctly, the downtown area are two strips. I basically rode down to the aquarium, turned around, and went back. Had a beer at a bar that served frozen drinks and had Queer Eye for the Straight Guy on the television. I thought I walked into a gay bar! :ugh:

    I was thinking about letting people know I was gonna be doing this trip but I really had no itinerary and relatively sparse internet access...

    But if you are ever up in the Seattle area, feel free to let me know!
     
  15. Pineapple Devil

    Pineapple Devil beat it!

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    you missed the best part. if you would have went across the bridge to the park thats under the bridge thats where all the bikes hang out. i guarntee you that we were down there too.
     

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