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Saturday, February 17, 2018

It's Been Too Long

I had plenty of motorcycle adventures following the Father's Day Ride in 2017. Unfortunately, some of those included riding around drowned Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey on my KTM 1290. I followed that up with a surprise open-heart surgery which included some painful post-surgical complications. Put all of that together and I didn't ride much beyond commuting for the last three months of the year.

I did, however, do two noteworthy things.

As much as I liked my new 2017 Harley Road Glide, there were a couple of things about it that I didn't much appreciate. Ridiculous little things but things that drove me nuts. Irritating little things like the suspension and my inability to see the speedometer for much of the day. I found it impossible to find a setting on the suspension preload to replicate the ride on my old Limited. And I found in necessary to always keep the GPS on which I used as the speedometer. Try as I might, after 16000 miles, those two things drove me nuts.

So, when I brought it in to get two new tires, I left it behind and rode home on a 2017 Ultra Classic Limited. Financially, not the best move in the world but I'm at the age where I'm free to do stupid things when they mattered. That mattered, so I did it.

I did do a bit of a test ride between Christmas and New Year's. I want to do a "Ride Around Texas Insanity Gold" ride in 2018. Basically a 3200 mile ride around the periphery of Texas in 70 hours or less. I would love to do that on the KTM but it isn't nearly as comfortable as the Harley so the Harley it is.

I have a few other rides on the horizon for 2018. All of them involve riding east or north. One is going to be with a small group of friends out to Washington, DC for the Memorial weekend "Rolling Thunder Rally." I haven't done a long ride with a group in years - I've pretty much settled into riding solo all of the time - but this one sounds worth it. I also want to take a break on riding west this year - except for a trip to Big Bend in November.

The one thing I know is that my heart surgery changed my thinking on a few things. For one, I sold my little dual sport Suzuki. Falling down on trails didn't sound fun anymore. I decided that I would limit my falling down to the KTM on trails. For another, as much as I love my job, I also love to get away and ride. So I'm going to make sure and take every day possible to do just that.

2018 will be a great year.

Monday, July 17, 2017

2017 Father's Day Ride

I have always loved long road trips. I blame it on my love for visiting my Uncle Tom and Aunt Judy near Epping, ND, when I was young. At nearly 500 miles, those road trips with my family are among my favorite childhood memories. Add to that the adventure and challenge of doing it on a motorcycle and that pretty much explains it. And since I don’t spend nearly as much time with my son, Michael, as I would like - inviting him to join me on a long ride this year set us up for a pretty much perfect experience.

6,704 miles. 20 days. 11 states. Beautiful scenery. Great times with each other, family, and friends. Six tires and four telephones. Read on.

Sunday, June 11, And Away We Go

Odometer Beginning - 8186
Odometer Ending - 8557
Miles for the Day - 371
Miles for the Trip - 371
Destination - Abilene, TX

Kelley reminds me that I am basically useless for the last couple of weeks before leaving on a long ride. I anticipate them for months, plan and prepare, and then finally the big day comes. Since Texas is a mighty big state and I never feel fully “gone” until I cross the Texas border the plan was to leave as soon as possible after worship on Sunday afternoon. As would become a daily reality throughout the trip, we didn’t leave quite as early as I had hoped but we did OK.

Packing the bike was a challenge as we would be bringing all of our cold weather, wet weather, and hot weather clothing and gear as well as what we would need for the nights we would camp. The challenge is getting everything ready to minimize the hassle of getting to a motel, ensuring that we would have what we need when we needed it, and making sure that whatever we put on the bikes stays there until we get there. Since I have done trips on both the Beast (the KTM 1290 that Michael would ride) and Beauty (my Harley Road Glide) the sorting and packing didn’t take long. We were off!

I decided to sort of ease into the ride for Michael’s sake. He’s a good rider and was paying attention but this trip would be pretty new for him. He hasn’t ridden the kind of miles we would need to ride to make all our planned stops. And he has only ridden the Beast one other time that I remember. So we began with back roads.

We went a few miles west of Houston on I-10 before cutting across country to pick up 529 to Bellville. From there it was TX 39…for a long time. TX 39 is one of those little highways that snakes to the northwest through Central Texas. We stayed on it, riding the speed limit +5 or so, mostly, all the way to Abilene.

Old Fashioned West Texas Forest
A week before the trip Michael suggested that we install communicators in our helmets. That made sense to me for safety’s sake, as well as to ease my mind that I would better be able to check on him along the way so I bought a set of Sena S20’s before we left. What a game changer! We could talk to each other, make and receive telephone calls, and listen to music/podcasts/books. They are a great addition to the tool chest. We did learn they need to be charged every night (or on the bike as we rode) as they usually were out of battery by the end of the day.

Modern West Texas Forest
It was hot! But it was good preparation for some other places that we would ride over the course of the trip. We had fun - announcing a decision to pass another car with various variations of “Let’s pass this guy like a kidney stone.” Or “Let’s pass this one like a bad check.” Eventually we ran out of lines and eventually we arrived in Abilene. We were that much closer to leaving Texas behind for a while.

Monday, June 12, Muleshoe and More

Odometer Beginning - 8557
Odometer Ending - 9218
Miles for the Day - 661
Miles for the Trip - 1,032
Destination - Farmington, NM

I was excited about today’s ride. The last time that I was on US 84 was coming from the west and passing through Muleshoe on my way home. There is just something about that name that fits and hits me in a good place. I wanted to go through there again.

Eventually we would be sleeping a few nights in our tents but we needed to cover some serious ground so it was easier to use hotels at the beginning of the trip. As this was our first morning, I tried to impress upon Michael how important it was to get a good start on the day. If we wanted to get somewhere early enough to enjoy dinner and some time before bed, we needed to leave at a proper time in the morning. And we couldn’t dawdle too much at gas stations. Great ideas…but Michael and I have different senses of just what that all meant. Either way, we had miles to eat and we were wastin’ daylight. (I think they say stuff like that in that part of Texas.)

We packed up and headed out of Abilene on I-20 until we picked up US 84 just past Sweetwater. Then it was northwest on US 84 into New Mexico.

I kept thinking about Charles Goodnight on our way toward Santa Rosa.
We crossed into New Mexico at the train tracks that run between Farwell, TX and Texico, NM. I again thought about the arbitrary and artificial idea of borders. Just like that and the speed limits were lower and the roads worse. We angled north at Fort Sumner toward Santa Rosa on I-40. We went west to Albuquerque and then, just north of town, took US 550 to Farmington. That was the plan and we rode the plan.

The landscape got more and more interesting. After leaving west Texas behind we had ridden through mostly empty New Mexico, admiring the wide open spaces. Then, on 550, it just got better and better with distant mountains, rock formations, and the wonderful colors that accompany the setting sun. Another motel and we were done for the day. 661 miles is a long day in the saddle.

The closer we got to Farmington, the more we were excited that the good stuff was just around the corner.

Tuesday, June 13, Four States at Once and Then Some

Odometer Beginning - 9218
Odometer Ending - 9695
Miles for the Day - 477
Miles for the Trip - 1,509
Destination - Vernal, UT

The first time I passed through Farmington was on my way home from Durango after my first ride through Colorado. Ever since I have regretted not visiting the Four Corners Monument at the only place in the United States where four states (Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico) come together. So that was one of the bucket list items on this ride. We had fun taking the same corny pictures that everyone else takes there. Check it off the list.

The first picture featured Michael. Nice but kinda boring.
I couldn't resist. The folks in line got a kick out of our creativity.
Then it was on to Durango, CO, and the Million Dollar Highway to Ouray, CO. That is a wonderful ride and we were thrilled that we were going to do it on an absolutely perfect cloudless sky. Much better than the rain, sleet, and snow I rode through the last time I did it. We got to Silverton and stopped for lunch.
Michael loves rocks and mountains. He would see plenty of both on this ride.
I’ve written about this before but I do have certain culinary traditions on long bike rides. I hate to eat at chains (exceptions for Denny’s, IHOP, and the occasional steak place) or fast food places. I like truck stops. And I like to tip at least $10 for every meal, just to spread a little vacation joy. I also leave $5 a day in every hotel room. It matters. And I do have knack for finding interesting places to eat along the way.

So we rode into Silverton and made a pass through the quaint little town. There were lots of places to eat but my eye caught the Thee Pitts Again BBQ place on the corner. We went in, made our order, and found a table. Suddenly Michael realized that he had watched an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” featuring this place. Sure enough they were looping that episode on a TV screen along one wall. I don’t know what the guy with the crazy hair had to say but I loved the meat. I’ve been on a strict diet all year long but there is always room in every diet for brisket and coleslaw. It was great.

We stopped at the river overlook just short of Ouray and I tested making a video with my camera.

The ride was just fantastic. For Michael, who has spent his whole life in Houston, and for me, always with just a little North Dakota in my consciousness, there is nothing more majestic than mountains. Curves and hills are also right down the alley for a great motorcycle ride and we had plenty of both as we finished the ride to Ouray. Then it was Colorado farmland all the way to Grand Junction before we got the surprise of the day via CO 139 from Grand Junction to Rangely.

Everyone needs to ride from Durango to Ouray several times in their lives.
As soon as we got home this shot became the new screen saver on my computer.
70+ miles of wide open uninhabited land with beautiful mountains and canyons the whole way. We stopped at one point so Michael could say goodnight to his little girl. He missed Harper all trip long in the same way that I never forgot about Katie or Michael when I was away at his age. What he doesn’t yet realize is that I never forget about Katie, Michael, Hugh, or Emma, not to mention Kelley. We carry the people we love in our hearts. Always.

I love it when something looked worth trying on a map and then turns out like this.
We picked up US 60 at Dinosaur (love that name) and made our way to Vernal, UT. That was the goal for the day as it set us up for the next day’s adventure. We found a great little motel downtown, unpacked, and then hit the Mexican restaurant that the hotel guy recommended. I ordered a taco salad (on my diet sort of) and a margarita (definitely not on my diet.) I haven’t had alcohol all year. But this was special and it was delicious so I ended up ordering a couple more and Michael matched me.

That night in the motel room we were like two giggling school kids. We even tried on each other’s clothes. Michael couldn’t believe that I now wore his size jeans and could even fit into his fancy skinny jeans. Rock on cucumbers and salad!

Wednesday, June 14, Montana Rocks

Odometer Beginning - 9695
Odometer Ending - 10,294
Miles for the Day - 599
Miles for the Trip - 2,108
Destination - Butte, MT

We left Vernal on US 40 and slowly made our way toward Salt Lake City. Today was pretty much about getting into Montana so we just rode on and on. The surprise of the day was lunch at a place in downtown Heber City, Chick’s Cafe. It was a cafĂ© with that “we’ve been here forever” feel to it. The day’s special was grilled salmon, vegetables, and mashed potatoes. Absolutely delicious and cheap as could be. $22 for both of us! Both meals also came with their very own specialty scone that Michael reported was beyond delicious. I trusted his word…not on my diet.

I love riding through towns and finding places like this to eat.
It is always interesting to ride through Utah. Even when we got to Salt Lake City and picked up I-15 to head north into Montana. I’m not much of a fan of riding on interstates but you can’t beat them when you’re trying to get somewhere in a hurry. And in that part of the country, even the interstates include beautiful scenery. We rode north until we got to Butte, MT and called it a day.

Michael wanted a helmet free moment. It didn't last long. Doesn't he look good on that bike?

Thursday, June 15, Can You Believe It Rained the Day We Rode Into Washington?

Odometer Beginning - 10,294
Odometer Ending - 10,853
Miles for the Day - 559
Miles for the Trip - 2,667
Destination - Yakima, WA

This was set up to be a big day. The plan was to take I-90 (also a great interstate to ride) to Missoula and then to head south to Lolo and Lolo Pass on US 12. I have read about that pass for years and always wanted to ride it and this would be the day. Unfortunately, it was also a bit of a rainy day. If there is anything that can suck the joy out of 100+ miles of curves it is wet roads.

But we made the best of it. It was a beautiful road…but it did go on and on and on. I found myself thinking, “I believe I have come around this curve to see this pretty little bend in the river before…” Again and again. It would have been better if the day had been nicer. As it was I was grateful to finally arrive in Waitsburg, WA, where we picked up a racing straight country road short-cut to Kennewick and then I-82 north to Yakima.

It had been a great day of riding and I was feeling in an expansive mood so we crossed the parking lot from the Best Western to Outback Steakhouse and both ordered Porterhouse steaks. That did bust my diet and it was also disappointing because NOBODY can cook a steak like my wonderful wife. So I enjoyed my steak because I thought of her the whole time. Michael seemed to enjoy his as well.

Friday, June 16, Remembering Dad

Odometer Beginning - 10,853
Odometer Ending - 11,130
Miles for the Day - 277
Miles for the Trip - 2,944
Destination - Port Angeles, WA

Sometimes plans change on long trips and today would be one of those days. On purpose and not so much on purpose. Originally I hoped to take US 12 across Washington state to see how close we could get to Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. But we woke to a yucky, cloudy day in the mountains and it was clear that nothing would be clear if we went that way. So I changed my mind and we headed north out of Yakima toward I-90. Then disaster struck.

There was a beautiful scenic overlook north of Yakima that seemed to me a perfect setting for a selfie shot of Michael and I. I had purchased my very first and very own selfie stick just for this trip. I had even connected it to my phone via Bluetooth and tested it before leaving. But this would be my first time to use it on our trip.

The Yakima Valley and the last picture that my iPhone would ever take.
We got off the bikes, set up the shot, and then I watched in horror as my iPhone fell out of the selfie stick and shattered on the parking lot pavement. Michael said, “Oh oh. This isn’t going to be good.”

And then there was one less working phone in the world.
I picked up the shattered remains. Tried to type a text but my fingers caught the broken glass and I quickly figured out that the spacebar, and a few other keys, didn’t work anymore. Change of plans. We rode into Ellensburg in search of the world’s most expensive replacement iPhone. So much for worthless insurance.

It was raining in Ellensburg and continued raining as we went over Snoqualmie Pass on I-90. Then into Seattle, following my sorry excuse built in Harley GPS to the ferry landing in downtown Seattle. We were originally going to ride across the state and then up the Olympic Peninsula on US 101 but plans changed and we got on the ferry to Bremerton. That was fun too.

We must be in the front row!
Seattle looks beautiful from here.
The boys on the boat.
From Bremerton we made our way to Poulsbo and the Lutheran church cemetery where my Dad is buried. We hadn’t been there since the funeral back in 2006 so it was time. We found the cemetery and then found his grave. We brushed the grass clippings off it, took a picture, talked a bit, and then it was time to move on. The first key stop of the Father’s Day Ride accomplished.

Of course Dad has a John Deere on his grave. Rest in peace.
From Poulsbo we made our way back to US 101 and then ran across the northern edge of the peninsula to Port Angeles and Lake Crescent Lodge. The family of a great friend of mine, Pastor Marlin Wogstad, was gathering to scatter his ashes into the Elwah River and out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. That would happen on Saturday but first we had a great meal at Lake Crescent Lodge and then a great night of sleep at a cabin provided for us and another friend who traveled from Houston to be part of the scattering.

Peaceful evening.

Saturday, June 17, God Bless You, Marlin

Odometer Beginning - 11,130
Odometer Ending - 11,288
Miles for the Day - 158
Miles for the Trip - 3,102
Destination - Day Creek, WA

“Father” is such a loaded word. Michael and I are both fathers. We are both learning as we go. In many ways, Marlin Wogstad was a father figure in my life. It wasn’t so much that we spent a lot of time together although we did see each other weekly for many years. It was much more about how we were whenever we were together. About how I looked up to him, how much I valued his counsel. It was painful to let him go last fall, an honor to lead his funeral service, and an amazing twist that he had asked that his ashes be scattered so closely to my own father’s grave.

My view with my morning cup of coffee...ok, cups of coffee.
I got up early Saturday morning and made a pot of coffee. There is something about drinking coffee while looking out across a beautiful body of water in a cool morning that makes it the best coffee ever. No wonder Starbucks was born in Seattle. Soon others were up and then it was time to walk along the beach to the river for the scattering. It was fitting. Then it was done.

There is no one else on earth besides Pastor Don Carlson who Marlin would want to lead us in our scattering.
And then it was done.
Michael and I gathered for a bit with everyone else but then we had to leave to catch a ferry in Port Townsend that would take us across the water to Coupeville and then back to the mainland. We passed through Oak Harbor and then I got to show Michael Deception Pass, one of my favorite spots in the world.

I have loved Deception Pass since the first time it took my breath away.

I think Michael liked it too.
We rode through La Conner and then we stopped at the house in the country on Fir Island where I spent six summers with my Dad when I was in high school and college. We stopped along the road to take some pictures and then I heard something behind me. I looked just in time to see Michael drop the Beast on the side of the road. He had gotten close to doing it a couple of times but this time he couldn’t catch it. Of course I had to take a picture. But Michael got it back up on his own. No damage. No harm, no foul.

Lots of great memories of this old farmhouse.

Now...including this one :-)
I did admit then that I dropped it twice on my trip last year to Prudhoe Bay. Happens to the best of us. There is a reason why I call the bike The Beast.

After our little trip down memory lane, including showing Michael Fir Conway Lutheran Church, the little church where I first became a Lutheran, we rode up into the hills beyond Sedro Wooley to the Day Creek community and the home of my niece Laurel, her husband, Travis, and their five children - Andrew, Alex, Anna, Avery, and Augustus. They live on a 20 acre piece of heaven complete with cows, chickens, dirt bike trails, and their very own campground. We pitched our tents and got ready to rest.

Ready for a few rest days with the Lohman's in the Day Creek valley.

Sunday, June 18, Family Reunion Day

Rest Day - Day Creek, WA

I have four sisters. We don’t get together that often but they are all great about showing up whenever I come flying through on my brief visits. This year I asked that we gather on Father’s Day for a little reunion. Everyone except one sister and a couple of the older kids where there. We went to worship at the church where Travis serves as pastor and then we did the reunion thing all afternoon. Delightful and wonderful to be with everyone. Again I was reminded of how time just disappears when you are with loved ones. It is like no time has passed at all.

It was also a wonderful celebration of my sister Sue’s graduation from the school where she received her training and certification to launch into a new career as a medical transcriptionist. Plus Travis had been ordained just that Saturday so it really was a grand time to be together. The day ended far too early.

The Crew. Happy Father's Day!

Monday, June 19, Mountain Slippers
Rest Day - Day Creek, WA

Monday was a fun, lazy, restful day. I knew that I needed to get both bikes serviced and no shops would be open until Tuesday so we just played all day. I found myself admiring the Georgia Boot Company “Romeo” shoes that all the guys were wearing. I have always wanted a pair so Michael, Andrew, Alex and I headed to town to buy shoes, gas, and groceries. We headed to Oliver and Hammer, THE place to shop for all things work wear in Sedro Woolley , WA. Michael, Andrew, and I all got new Romeo’s (I couldn’t believe they stocked a size 15!) then it was off to the grocery store and back up the mountain.

I lust for mountain slippers.
Michael got to ride a four wheeler through the woods.
AND a dirt bike. He was in hog heaven. Thank you Andrew for sharing and being so much fun!
We took a little dirt bike ride up to a high vantage point, the Lookout, above the valley floor. I rode the Beast and was reminded that it was time for new tires. The Continental TA II’s were shot. You know when you see the steel belts sticking through that the bike needs new shoes.

On the way to the Lookout, my 15 year old great nephew, Andrew, had to show me how he could jump with his dirt bike.

Soon we were joined by a whole gang of bikers who led us up the mountainside.

Local chapter of the Day Creek Biker Boyz.
Beauty and the Boyz
What a place to live!
Once we got back to camp we spent the rest of the day watching the kids play, sitting around the campfire, and enjoying the peacefulness of the Day Creek valley, It was perfect. Laurel even made sure that she had the right stuff for my diet. Perfect.

Tuesday, June 20, $$$ervice Day

Beauty and the Beast Go to the Doctor
Odometer Beginning - 11,288
Day Creek, WA

It just so happens that, a little south of where we were, along I-5 in Marysville, WA, there is a Harley shop a little less than a mile from a KTM dealer. Just what I needed. Michael slept in a little too late to make the start so I rode the Harley to the shop so that I could be there right as they opened at 9:00 AM. Then I rented a Harley Street Glide and rode back to the get the KTM.

That was a bit of a pain but I’m glad I did it as I wanted to try a Street Glide. Just like I figured, without my tall guy modifications the ride was scrunched and terrible. I had to stick my knees out to turn sharp corners. I hated it. But it got the job done.

Leaving the rental Harley at Day Creek, I rode the KTM to the dealer and left it there for a 9000 mile service and a new set of shoes. One front fork seal was also bad but they didn’t have the parts to fix it so that would have to wait until I got home to Houston. I walked back to the Harley place and waited until they got it done and I could ride back to the mountain.

Michael spent the day riding dirt bikes and sleeping. You need a good rest in the middle of a long ride and we had plenty of time to rest at Day Creek. Perfect.

Michael and Andrew soaking up the smoke. Loads of campfire time at Camp Lohman.

Wednesday, June 21, And We're Off...but not so much...

Odometer Ending - 11,418
Miles for the Day - 130
Miles for the Trip - 3,232
Day Creek, WA

Once again, our plans changed. The KTM service ran into some glitches and took longer than anticipated so I spent most of the day hanging around the dealership and reading a book on my phone. America’s Hidden History by Kenneth C. Davis. Great read. By the time the bike was done it was too late to get anywhere - especially trying to get through Seattle at rush hour - so we just rested the rest of the day and spent one last night at Camp Lohman.

Thursday, June 22, We Can Rebuild It!

Odometer Beginning - 11,418
Odometer Ending - 12,097
Miles for the Day - 679
Miles for the Trip - 3,911
Destination - Redding, CA

When our trip began, Michael had only two requests for places to go. He wanted to see Yosemite National Park and he wanted to play poker in Las Vegas. Now we were going to do his part of the trip. We packed the bikes and made our way to I-5 and points south.

Thankful for the express lanes through Seattle we flew south down I-5. It was a beautiful clear day and we could see Mount Rainier for miles. We could see the Olympics off to our right. Michael didn’t realize how rare that is to have such clear weather but we both enjoyed the wonder of the day.

As we approached Oregon I made another change. We had been planning on riding through Central Oregon to Bend. But Michael had begun complaining about the seat on the Beast and how it kept pushing him forward toward the tank. And I was ready for a break from the slow speed limits of mountain roads so I made a quick call to Russell Day Long seats in Lake Shasta, CA, and asked if they might have time in the morning to make some adjustments to my seat. I explained where we were and they said they could fit us in. So we made our way toward a motel in Redding.

But first we had to ride in from Oregon. I know I have been there before but the first time it had been in the night and the last time I headed west to the coast out of Salem so I missed the mountain passes into California. We had a delightful ride. We loved the views of Mount Shasta as it invited us into the state. Then we ran into road construction. The traffic was backed up for miles.

Mount Shasta and Michael, Michael, Michael....
Michael, since we were now in California, suggested that we lane split our way through the traffic. I was hesitant. I was riding a fully loaded 1100 lb Harley and Michael was on an equally heavy loaded, tall, adventure bike. We were on a mountain road. It was HOT and I wanted to be patient. But I came around.

First we headed down the shoulder, then we did a bit of the California riding between the cars thing. It was scary but effective and pretty soon we reached Lake Shasta. A quick pass by the shop so Michael would see where they made the magic and then off to Redding and the Best Western.

Friday, June 23, On To Yosemite!

Odometer Beginning - 12,097
Odometer Ending - 12,485
Miles for the Day - 388
Miles for the Trip - 4,299
Destination - Yosemite National Park

As I mention in every ride report, I can’t say enough good things about Russell Day Long seats. In fact, the very day that I bought the KTM I contacted RDL and made an appointment for a ride-in seat build. To ride from Houston to Lake Shasta just to get a new seat made for your motorcycle ought to say something about how much I value the difference that a great seat makes for the type of riding that I like to do.


From the time that I left with the new seat on the KTM I knew that something wasn’t right. I kept sliding forward onto the tank. I felt myself continuously pushing myself backward on the seat. I thought the problem had to do, not with the seat, but with the architecture of the bike so it was just something that I would have to learn to live with. What can I say? I grew up poor in North Dakota so “suck it up and deal with it, that is as good as it is gonna get” runs deeply within me.

But since Michael was also now experiencing the same thing, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to see if there was something they could do to improve it. I was there with the bike when the shop opened. The same guy who built my Harley seat came out to see me sitting in the saddle and to hear my complaints. Then he got right to work. Nearly three hours later he was back with my seat. He had completely rebuilt it. He firmed up the wings and created a better pocket just where I prefer to sit. He did an amazing job.

I was willing to pay anything for that improvement – all the way up to the cost of a new seat. I knew that the seat came with a satisfaction warranty and I knew that I could have sent it back immediately since I wasn’t 100% satisfied…but I don’t do that. When it came time to pay the fiddler I was told “You are only 22 days beyond your warranty date so we did the work for free!” YES!

I went back to the hotel and we loaded up the bikes, ready to head toward Yosemite. Originally the plan had been to ride through Oregon and then cut across Northern California to Reno and then down south to get to Yosemite via Tioga Pass. But that pass was still full of snow and not yet open so we weren’t going to go that way. Instead we went down I-5 to Stockton, cut over to 99 South, went all the way down to Merced and then headed toward Yosemite on CA 140. It was a little bit longer but I had run into a group of Harley guys earlier on the trip who said that was the best way to go. So we went.

I was a bit worried about finding a place to stay. I had checked before leaving and it was impossible to get a campsite reserved in the park itself. We stopped for lunch and got on our phones, looking for options. But there too, the only phone numbers we found weren’t being answered. So we just decided to try our luck and, if we couldn’t find anywhere else, we would just find a way to get off the road and pitch our tents somewhere.

The closer we got to the park, the better the road got. Elevation changes, curves, and beautiful views galore. As we got close to the park we flew by Indian Flats Campground and Resort. We pulled over, did a u-turn, and went to claim what the guy at the desk told us was the “last and worst” campsite that they had. As far as we were concerned, it was perfect. Michael went and had dinner as I set up our tents. We camped right next to an adventure tour group from San Francisco who originally reserved our site but then realized they didn’t need it. The group leader even gave me a bundle of firewood. We were at Yosemite!

I'm still amazed to know that we got the last spot in the campground!
And grateful that the leader of this group gave us some of their extra firewood.

Saturday, June 24, Words Fail Me Here

Odometer Beginning - 12,485
Odometer Ending - 12,569
Miles for the Day - 84
Miles for the Trip - 4,383
Destination - Yosemite National Park

After a quick breakfast at our campsite we were ready to head into the park. I had heard about the waiting lines to get into the park but I wasn’t ready for what we found. The line started at least two or three miles from the entrance. Again, we began by inching forward in the sweltering heat and again Michael lobbied that we do the California thing. Again, eventually I gave in and we rode to the front of the line in the wrong lane. We were in the park!

The raging Merced River was worth our first selfie in the park.
I can’t describe the views and the feelings that Yosemite creates. We immediately headed to Glacier Point. Here are some pictures.

I brought my camping stuff kitchen with us into the park with plans to make lunch somewhere. Glacier Point was perfect. We had some noodles. I had some coffee.

Dining and chillin'

THIS is what happens when you give your camera to your son...

Michael wanted to see a bear. This is about as close as we got.

This is an actual picture...not a postcard. This is why cameras offer the ability to take panorama shots.

Of course Yosemite on a Saturday also includes moments like this one...

We had a great day in the park!

Finally it was time to get back to the campsite. We stopped at a little store on the way. I was hungry for hot dogs (not on my diet but I WANTED them) and Michael wanted to test some local California craft beers. That led to me going to bed early and sleeping like the innocent.

Sunday, June 25, From Mountains to Deserts

Odometer Beginning - 12,569
Odometer Ending - 13,097
Miles for the Day - 528
Miles for the Trip - 4,911
Destination - Las Vegas, NV

Yosemite checked off, it was time to make our way to Las Vegas. We again entered the park – the line wasn’t very long on Sunday morning and I didn’t hesitate to take the wrong lane to pass everyone up. We slowly made our way through the park and then back out to the real world on CA 41. We got to Fresno and 99 and headed toward Bakersfield.

My previous record for riding in the heat was 116 degrees in Gila Bend, AZ. Michael and I shattered that record. It was 119 degrees both on the way to Bakersfield and again between Barstow and Las Vegas. That is HOT. But again I was perfectly comfortable using the wet LDComfort stuff inside my riding pants and jacket with all the vents closed. We got gas in Barstow and then I made a GPS mistake which gave us a little tour of the community and then we were on I-15 heading to Vegas. Again, with no plan where we might stay.

I warned Michael that we might end up wasting some time in Vegas looking for the right place to stay. For his sake, I wanted to be somewhere within walking distance of the Strip or Fremont Street and for my sake, I didn’t want to spend a fortune. We checked at a couple of places and either they didn’t have any rooms or the sketchy places were just a bit too sketchy. Even for me and I have very low standards. So we reached out to Kelley back home and she found us a perfect room at the Linq. Very nice hotel. Close to everything. With slot machines that take all of your money and never give you much back in return.

Michael got to play poker and I got to visit The World Famous Gold & Silver Pawnshop. I’ve been there before - once I took a picture of my bike in front of it, earlier this spring Kelley and I went by it late at night, but I have never been inside. All this year, virtually every day I have watched an episode of Pawn Stars while eating my diet breakfast. This time I would see it on the inside.

We ended up spending three nights in Las Vegas and it was a blast.

Monday, June 26 and Tuesday, June 27
Very Expensive Rest Days in Las Vegas

The shop is MUCH smaller than I expected. But I'm a big fan!

All the stars were on vacation but they were kind enough to leave a cardboard cutout behind to take dumb pictures like this one.

I would make a good bouncer here.

Waiting for our first lunch in Vegas.

If you ever watched "Ray Donovan" is where I believe they got the idea of displaying $1,000,000.

Don't get all excited here. Michael got to spin the wheels on the left. Someone ELSE - but not me - got the jackpot on the right. Let's just way we left more money in Vegas than we planned on.

Wednesday, June 28, That Is Certainly a Grand Canyon!

Odometer Beginning - 13,097
Odometer Ending - 13,681
Miles for the Day - 584
Miles for the Trip - 5,495
Destination - Globe, AZ

It was time to put Vegas in our rear view mirrors – we headed out of town on US 93, made a quick pass through the Hoover Dam, got to I-40 in Kingman and headed east.

Dam selfie.

The dam itself.
Then disaster struck.

The Sena S20 communicators were a wonderful addition to this trip. I had phone holders on each of our bikes so we could keep our phones in front of us as we rode. Unfortunately, the interstate east of Kingman was horrible in places! Rough, rough, rough. At one point, Michael’s cell phone fell out of his holder and he had to stop to retrieve it from the engine cowl where it landed. Not thinking that lightning could very possibly strike twice, Michael put his phone back into the holder again. The next time it fell it landed on the road and was utterly defenseless against the 18 wheeler that ran over it. Now we owned two destroyed phones. So it goes.

Michael broke his phone even better than I broke my phone.
We got to Williams and headed north on AZ 64 to the Grand Canyon. Nice ride, and yes, a very grand canyon indeed! A few pictures and we were ready to go.

A seriously grand canyon.

Mama Elk isn't a bear but it is still pretty cool.
If I had to do it over again I would have checked the map and stayed on AZ 64 over to US 89 but I was relying on the GPS and it always wanted to find the shortest route. So we went back to Williams, over to Flagstaff (where we stopped at the phone store but didn’t buy one) and then south on I-17. I wanted to go to Globe for the night.

We got to Camp Verde and then took AZ 260 and then AZ 188 to Globe. Beautiful ride through the Tonto National Forest. The Theodore Roosevelt dam and lake were nice surprises. We got to Globe (passing by the Shell station where I had set my tent up in the middle of the night during the initial Hoka Hey race) and found a motel room.

Thursday, June 29, Oops...But It Worked Out OK

Odometer Beginning - 13,681
Odometer Ending - 14,262
Miles for the Day - 581
Miles for the Trip - 6,076
Destination - Van Horn, TX

Thursday morning began with an immediate mistake on my part. I knew it was time to head to Texas and that meant making our way down to I-10 but we left town on US 60. I was following the GPS again but hadn’t checked a paper map. After a few miles it just didn’t feel right so I stopped at the side of the road to get our bearings. The GPS insisted that we were on track so we just kept going.

Let’s just say that those extra 150 miles or so that we rode through the mountains were well worth it. US 60 to US 191 in Alpine to US 180 through Silver City to I-10 at Deming. I never knew that Arizona was such a mountainous state. The best part about it was how it felt to see mountains off in the distance knowing that soon you would find yourself riding through them. Several canyons, lots of twisties, hardly any cars. It was an accidental route but it was great riding and it postponed the inevitable waiting for us on I-10.

Michael got a new phone in Deming and we got on I-10 toward Texas. We took the loop around El Paso and didn’t stop until Van Horn. This is also where I start smelling the barn and quit taking pictures.

Friday, June 30, Waltz Across Texas

Odometer Beginning - 14,262
Odometer Ending - 14,890
Miles for the Day - 628
Miles for the Trip - 6,704
Destination - HOME!!!

At one point the day before Michael complained about the KTM suddenly losing power. We switched bikes and it didn’t act up for me so we switched back. This morning began with Michael again on the KTM. I told him to just set the cruise and hope for the best. So we were tooling along at about 85 mph when the KTM suddenly slowed to 62 mph. Clearly something was wrong. But it wasn’t like we were going to get anything fixed out there in the middle of nowhere. OK, actually the middle of West Texas. Trust me, you can see nowhere from there.

So we switched bikes again and I proceeded to ride the next 400 miles on the Beast. Of course it didn’t act up for me.

There isn’t much to say about I-10 through Texas. We just kept going. It was hot but not as terribly windy as it can sometimes be. We hit San Antonio at rush hour but took the 1604 loop and it wasn’t too bad. I can’t explain it but sometime in the past few years I-10 to Houston has become one of the great interstate race tracks. There were times when it felt like we were on I-25 in eastern Colorado as fast as we were riding – just keeping up with traffic.

We got to our last gas stop and we switched bikes back for the final sprint to the barn. I needed to be on the Harley to complete the trip.

It really was an epic trip. It was a great time for Michael and I to get to know each other a little better. We both discovered stuff about each other, both good and not so great. Michael was a superstar rider and riding partner (given the fact that no one gets through a gas stop faster than me and no one else is as impatient as me when it comes to leaving on time in the morning.) He didn’t complain. He rode lots of miles day after day. And he was very clear about appreciating the experience we were able to share.

The Father’s Day Trip came to an end. Kelley had been watching our tracker and listening for our bikes so she was there in the garage with the door open as we came around the corner. I don’t know what she did but she got prettier in our time away and it was wonderful to see her. Home is the destination of every trip and I’m never more excited to get anywhere but there once a trip starts.


The diet I mentioned a time or two in this ride report began on December 3, 2016. I weighed 378.8. I set a goal of losing 120 lbs. The day after we got home from this ride I stepped on the scale at home and it read 257.2 lbs. That is a total loss of 121.6 lbs. I can’t imagine a better experience both to celebrate the effort and achieve a big goal. My son tells me he is proud of me and I’m going to assume that both of my dads, Larry and Marlin, would say the same thing.