It has been an extremely busy week or ten days for us. I have attended 4 different visitations and funerals for our fallen heroes from Minnesota. A week ago Sunday I was in Hastings for a visitation for Sgt Wayne Hosford, the following Friday I was in Cottage Grove for Spc Carlos Wilcox and the next day I was in Woodbury for Spc Dan Drevnick. The mission for Spc Wilcox was quite large and followed a thunder storm so the weather was fairly cool and it was on Friday which tends to limit the amount of the turnout due to jobs etc.. Saturday was clear and cool for spc Drevnicks' funeral and we had a large turnout of around 250 bikes. Dave Mude and his wife Jan and I figuring that the ride to Fort Snelling with a group of that size was more fun than we wanted, headed home through Hastings again. We had been riding the same route for all three of the funerals in that area because it is a much quieter and less traveled way to get to the southeast metro. Yesterday-Monday- we were at Bird Island for the services for spc James Wertish and we had a tremendous turnout, Patriot Guards from all over Minnesota and some from South Dakota too. I am not sure but I think that we must have had close to 200 bikes again. The procession from Bird Island to Olivia where he was laid to rest was well over a mile in length riding two wide, with people along the route with flags etc.. As I said it has been busy and we have another coming up on Friday in Apple Valley. As long as there are people out there wanting to do us harm I am afraid that we will continue to have these missions. I am just proud to be able to honor these heroes in this way. This country is lucky to have these young people that will step up to do their turn on the front lines of keeping us free. Remember freedom is not free!! Spcs Drevnick, Wilcox, and Wertish were National Guardsmen from the 34th Red Bull division out of Stillwater that were all killed in a single rocket attack on their base near Basra, Iraq, which was a relatively safe area in the sand box. I have included some pictures. The upper ones are from spc Wertish's funeral and the one on the bottom is from the visitation in Hastings for sgt Hosford.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
When I left you in the last episode I was in Price, Utah. I met another older gentleman with a Yamaha FJR from the LA area who was returning from a rally up in Canada, at least he looked older to me. In all actuality he was probably my age but he looked older to me. Anyhow, the next leg up to Duchesne was great and cool at higher altitudes, then northwest from there and over Soapstone Pass on a dirt road. One thing that boggles me is seeing several trailers as big as ours parked in the trees up there. I can't imagine dragging something that large up the grades and around the corners on those switchbacks, but there they are. Perhaps they hire a big helicopter to airlift them in? Then up through the Uinta mountains to Wyoming. What can I say but that the run over the Uintas was beautiful ( I'm running out of superlatives here ). I cut across the south west corner of Wyoming to Bear Lake in Utah again, a blue lake in a mountain setting that is totally surrounded by houses.To get a picture I had to shoot through a chain link fence. Then it was head east for the run to home. Most of the afternoon it seems I was running off to the south of the Wind River Range and they look like a likely destination in the future. I have used Google Earth to pre-run some areas there and it looks spectacular. Spent the night in Lander, Wyoming and spotted a GS1200 Adventure from Florida with tags from Canada and Alaska including Prudhoe Bay on the Arctic Ocean. Now there is a long distance cruise. From Lander to Casper is a long drone across a less scenic part of Wyoming. I stopped for fuel in Casper and had a long conversation with another interesting person. I was just saddling up to leave when a guy in a pickup ran over and asked about my bike. We talked for a time and I noticed that he had a unique accent and I just had to ask. It turns out he was from Australia, then I had to ask why in of all places did you end up in Casper? It turns out he sheared sheep in Australia and came here to do the same thing, and Wyoming has lots of sheep. He had gotten out of the shearing business and was doing building contracting now. I think that he said that his wife is from the Twin Cities also. Another chance encounter with an interesting person. It must be the mentality of people that ride that opens them up to meeting other riders, as 9 times out of 10 they are either riding or have in the past. Heading east from Casper I passed several coal trains headed my way and by the time I was south of Rapid City I could see a big black cloud in my path and sure enough I ran into a down pour with high winds, but luckily no hail, which is quite common in that area. East of Rapid I pulled under an overpass to get out of the weather with the hope that it would pass by. Another bike pulled in with me, so we sat on the guard rail an hollered at each other for awhile ( we both were wearing earplugs ). He and a partner had been on the road for 26 days already and were heading home to Oswego, New York. It sounds as if they had been all over the lower 48 states. He was on a Harley so they were going to do the pilgrimage to the museum in Millwaukee. That night I was in Wall, South Dakota, at the time I thought that if I just keep going I could be home tonight but it is a good thing that I stopped to dry out. In the morning I was on the road early and had a nice ride home. Oh ya, in Chamberlin for breakfast I was seated next to a couple and when I went to leave I noticed that he had a Butterfield Threshing Bee t-shirt. It turned out that they were from the Trimont area, small world. I think that I was home by about 1pm without getting wet again. Come to think of it the guy from New York had not hit any rain until the downpour we both endured in South Dakota.
As an addition, Jan and I spent the weekend of the 4th at a KOA in Oakdale, Wisconsin. We went riding Saturday and Sunday on the back roads in that area. Wisconsin back roads are one of the best kept secrets in motorcycling as they are all paved and go up and down and round and round and are quiet to boot! Anyhow, we had a great time and brought our lunches along and ate at a couple of interesting locales, one at a downtown picnic table and another at a shelter in the country next to an old country school. We will be going back in the future I am sure. Well, that is about it for now, maybe I'll do another posting in the future on the Fallen Hero's ride I participated in over this weekend. I'll throw some pictures in here and try to get them in proper order for a change. Bye. Phil and Paul may recoginise the picture of the sign for Farsn, Wyoming. Think about our 1973 trip.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Last Fall when I went on the ride to Colorado and Wyoming ( Nebraska doesn't count) before my surgery I had been planning a ride like the one I recently returned from. Last year I was short on time and afraid that doing long rides like the ones I have done this year might not be in my future. Well, I am here to tell you that the long ride is alive and well. I should take that back about Nebraska, as the first day out I had a fun run down to North Platte where I spent the first night. From there it was a drone down I-76 to Denver where I dodged traffic and finally got out into the mountains. I spent the second night in Buena Vista, where Phil and I stayed a couple of years ago. There is a diner in town that we all ate in in 1985 while passing through and Phil and I ate breakfast there every day we were there too. Jan can tell you that the omelets were and are still terrific. From Buena Vista I headed over Cottonwood Pass to the Taylor Lake area ans I'll throw a couple pictures in to show you how beautiful it is this time of the year. You will have to guess in what order to view but I think if you start at the bottom and work up they should be in proper order. Anyhow next up was Crested Butte another trendy town kind of like Aspen was years back that is also in a beautiful area. From there it was over Kebler Pass to Delta where it was 101. These two passes are gravel roads, the main drawback is this, they were grading and treating the road surface with magnesium chloride for dust control and it was like riding in mud for miles on the way down from these two passes. The next photos up from the bottom are from Kebler Pass. From delta it was a long run over the Umcompagre Plateau on a pretty desolate road, I don't think I met more than 3 vehicles on the east side of Columbine Pass. On the west side it was much more tree covered and more people were evident. From Nucla to Moab was another great ride through canyons and over hills. It seems that every time that there is some semi-flat land it is irrigated and growing alfalfa, oh, and another thing, all of the time going over these three passes it was in the 60s and 70s for temperatures. For most of this trip I thought that the idea of a helmet camera would have been cool, but when do you turn it on or off? For hours on end the scenery is so incredible I would just have to force myself to stop to snap a picture, which never does the scene any justice, you just have to be there. As usual in Moab I ran into interesting people. A couple from the Twin Cities that winter in Arizona and both ride down in the Fall and they were on their way home to Minnesota when I met them. He said that he owns 8 bikes and when people ask him why he says "because I can". I had to tell him that I was ahead in that category with 10. I said the biggest problem with a collection like that is walking into that garage trying to think who wants to go riding today, and they're all waving their mirrors at me going "pick me, pick me". It is a problem. From Moab I went south to Blanding and around over Lake Powell to Hanksville, as desolate a town as any I have seen lately, then west to Loa and north to Price, Utah. I will add two more or so and end this first installment here. Check back for part two of "Farewell Tour The Sequel". I will be on Patriot Guard rides to Fallen Hero's grave sites in this end of Minnesota.