Thursday, December 1, 2011

Driving Ms. Jannie

As usual, if you look at the photos from the bottom up, they will be in the proper order. It has been quite a while since I last drug a blog out of my head so here goes. First the title, in a round about way it all goes back to a day in September when we upgraded from our 2006 Mustang to a newer model that happens to be a stick. Thus, Jan no longer drives it. We took it out to Chesapeake in October to be on hand for Will's birthday party and to watch the kiddos for Hans and Rachel while they attended the Navy Ball- come to think of it I need to include a photo of the couple on their front porch. Anyhow we spent a good time with the DeFors at their home in Chesapeake and on the way home, somewhere in Indiana or Illinois, I looked over at Jan and said "I know what the title of my next blog is going to be". That sounds a little like Fineas and Pherb- I know that I have those names misspelled- "I know what we are going to do today". We watched a lot of them while we were there, touring the "tri state area". Since getting home we have been over to Rochester a couple of times for Sam's birthday and Thanksgiving and nothing medical, thank God. The Theobalds, Jan, and I recently spent a weekend at the Spearfish Lodge in Spearfish Canyon, naturally. I have a couple of pictures in this mess from that weekend also. Lately, since the riding season is over for all intents and purposes, I have started taking the BMWs apart so that I can just get to the valve covers just to set the valves. Another twist is the fact that to get the valve covers off you first need to remove the spark plug coils. This step in the plan requires a special tool, that naturally used to be included in the tool kit, but no longer is. So, I am waiting for my dealer to round one up and sell it to me. Oh well, I shouldn't complain I guess, as I have recently added a new tv to the shop, so I can turn up the heat check out the tv channels, or turn on the sound system and clean and wax to my hearts content. Winter in Minnesota gives the biker a long chance to catch up on maintenance etc.. Sometime this month I need to get started on my annual Christmas letter too, so I had better not spend too much of my creativity on this single blog. I hope that this blog finds everyone fit and looking forward to the Holiday season (Christmas).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Westward Ho- Bucket List roads pt.3

When I last left you, I had just arrived at my sister Kathy's home in Modesto. As usual it was hot in the Central Valley which in fact is not unusual this time of the year. The next day, I think, we headed down to Castle AFB and the museum located outside of the former front gate. I don't believe that I have been in California on visits that I have not visited their museum. As you may recognize, the pictures are of aircraft in that museum. I did include a shot of a flower in our wild flower garden just to show a little color. Next is a B-52D just like the ones that I used to work on and flew on a few times.

To the left is the casing of a hydrogen bomb, if blown up- the picture not the bomb- you may be able to read the plaque that gives some description. Below is a picture of a B-36 with that bomb casing next to the aircraft and people under the wing to give you some idea of scale.

Here is one of an addition of several Naval aircraft that have been added since the last time I was there. Below is some nose art on a B-29. After spending some time there, Kathy and I went for lunch at a cafe in Turlock which has been there for a long time and had a pleasant lunch. That was about all of the touring that we did while I was there. We did go shopping one day for some items for the house, like a new coffee pot and a repair item for the bathroom. I knew that it would happen, but after a couple of days I was struck by there usual case of "get home itis". I can wander for days leaving home and Jan particularly, but turn the corner and I would ride 24 hours a day to get home, if I could. I was out of Modesto at O dark 30, maybe around 5am and through Sacramento before the sun was up. After clearing Donner Pass and Reno it is pretty much just setting the cruise at 80 or so and hanging on until the next fuel stop. I stopped the first night in Wendover and returning from rounding up supper I heard the sound of a big radial engine aircraft. The sound of an R2800 prop plane is distinctive and saw a WWII Corsair make a low level pass at the old airfield right on the edge of town. This is the field where they trained to drop the a-bomb in WWII. Anyhow, I was out across the Salt Lake desert before daylight, through Salt Lake and on into Wyoming by early morning. I got caught in a rain storm, the first of the trip, in Cheyenne and made it to Kimball, Nebraska for the night. The next morning was an early start to try and make as much mileage as possible before it got too hot. I did not really get into real heat until about Lincoln and from then on all of the way home it was HOT. I took the wrong interstate through Omaha and ended up in Council Bluffs looking for the correct road. I ended up coming cross country through Spencer, Iowa to home by about supper time I believe. One thing I discovered on this trip was the importance of regular meals and keeping hydrated in the heat. I have been wearing a camel back pack lately that I pack full of ice when I stop at McDonalds etc., this gives me ice cold water for several hours that I can sip while I'm driving. This concludes my tale of what may probably be my last bike trip to the west coast, it is getting too expensive to spend that many nights in motels etc. etc.. This is not to say that I could drive back some time. Well, lots of other things have been going on here too, but that is another story. So long for now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Westward Ho- Bucket List Roads pt. 2

I last left you at Lewiston, Idaho where I spent the night. Actually I was in Clarkston, Washington, but it is one solid city, and I never did see a state line marker. The pictures above are of Mount Shasta, and Mount Lassen, I think, Lassen I am not sure of. Anyhow, from Clarkston I made a loop through southeastern Washington to Walla Walla. In one small town in that loop was the most attractive county court house square that I have seen in some time. I never did stop to take a picture although I did consider it. When I am trying to make time I very seldom stop to take pictures even though I regret it later.
The picture above is from the afternoon that I finally got to the coast near Fort Bragg, but I will get to that in due time. From Walla Walla I ran down to Pendelton- I just noticed that there are a lot of cities names that end in ton in this area-. At Pendelton I picked up highway 395. This road runs all of the way down to the L.A. area I think. The ride from Pendelton down to Burns, Oregon was a pleasant surprise. I expected for the most part that this route would be mostly open country, but it was mountain ranges and green valleys. From Burns south to Lakeview, Oregon it was open country with very little traffic. I passed by Lake Abert which is 20 miles long and 7 miles wide. On the highway side of this lake is a very high cliff of volcanic rock. Some pieces, as big as houses are in the lake off shore, which means that at some time in the past they fell off of the cliff and rolled that far. I would have liked to have seen that- from a ways away, of course. I spent that night in Lakeview, Oregon, a very nice town not far from Goose Lake which is mostly in California. The trip across northern California was chosen for it's crooked roads, and I came to regret that route choice after a few hours of very crooked roads and traffic. Coming through Redding it was in the 100s again and the worst roads were ahead of me yet. I had been on highway 299 for most of the day but thought that 36 looked like a shortcut to the coast, big mistake. I thought that 299 was bad, but 36 was crookeder yet, in places it was so narrow it did not have a center line. I finally got out to highway 101 which is a 4 lane for most of it's length. Heading south on 101 occasionally it would neck down to a 2 lane and plunge through a redwood grove, very unique. I was on 101 until I hit highway 1 at Leggett, then it was out to the coast. That night was in Fort Bragg. The next morning dawned cool and foggy, about normal on the coast, I think. The run down to Bodega bay was part good, running through eucalyptus and redwood groves, and part bad. In places the road, which is not that wide to start with had lost a lane to slides into the ocean, which is hundreds of feet below. Some of the corners crossing creeks at the bottom of a grade had me in first gear looking up over my head at the road around the corner. I know that it is kind of hard to picture, but trust me it works. I had intended to cross the Golden Gate into San Francisco, but after that morning I thought better of fighting that much traffic just for the thrill of it. So I headed inland through Petaluma, Fairfield, to Lodi and down 99 to Modesto to my sister Kathy's home. I think that I will call it a day here and pick up part 3 when I feel up to more 2 finger typing. Stay tuned faithful reader, whom ever you are.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Westward Ho- Bucket List roads pt. 1

I think that I may have finally learned how to attach photos to my blogs, start at the bottom of the file and work your way backwards. That way the first photos show up on top. Anyhow, on to my narrative of my trip to the west coast. I left St. James toward the end of July, as I had to be back by August 10th for a follow up at Mayo with the ENT doctors. The first day out things were going so well that I made it all of the way to Gillette, Wyoming. One drawback to that stop was the fact that the motel- which Eli and I had just stayed in a few weeks previously-had about doubled in price, due to the fact that the National High School rodeo was going on. Believe you me, $166 bucks for a Super 8 that wasn't so super made me look at other chains for the rest of the trip. The next morning it was cool and clear as I rode over the Big Horns to Cody. Hiway 14 regardless of which route you take on the west side of the Big Horns is a good ride. From Cody up through the Sunshine Basin and over Bear Tooth pass into Montana. Several of the last pictures in the string are from that location. I actually got a shot of the peak that gives the pass it's name and some of the flowers above the tree line. I have been over Bear Tooth several times and it is always a terrific ride. One time I got caught on top in rain, snow, and hail, this was not so terrific! I ran into a couple from Billings at an over look that were BMW riders also, so we talked bikes for awhile, and she saw my PGR sticker and was familiar with our mission, so we had a nice talk about that too. From there I headed up to Livingston where I spent the night in a Comfort Inn, which was really very nice. The next morning I headed up to Missoula on I-90. I had not been that way before and that is a very scenic drive most of the way. From Missoula I went west over Lolo pass into Idaho. I was a little disappointed by this pass, as it is pretty much just a climb out of Montana and a little more fun on the west side. The ride across the panhandle of Idaho got a little old after miles and miles of twisty roads throught the forest along a river. By the time I got to Lewiston my themometer was reading 105 and I figured it was time to call it a day, plus the fact I would have had to go another hundred miles or so to find another good sized town. So here is where I am going to call it a day also. Stayed tuned for part 2 of my magical mystery tour-kind of, there isn't too much magical or much of a mystery to it, just keep it between the ditches and watch out for the idiots out there.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

An Afternoon in Pete Egan's Garage

The picture to the left here should tickle the Theobalds. Jan and I were taking a break at a church outside of Cashville, Wisconsin and I spotted this gravestone.
On the picture below, I was taking one of my frequent map breaks to try and figure out where we were and I managed to get one of Jan patiently waiting for me to get my bearings.

Anyhow, the primary mission for Tuesday the 28th of June was to head down to Madison to visit the grave of Rachael Hugo, who was killed in action in Iraq a few years ago. It was one of the first Patriot Guard missions that I had gone on and I wanted Jan to see the grave site. She originally was buried above ground but evidently been moved to a private site in the interim. This stuff drives Jan crazy, but in wondering around the city trying to locate the exact location on the cemetery we had a funeral procession pass by that seemed to be heading in the right direction, so I just fell in and followed them to the proper cemetery. We visited her grave site and had a peaceful lunch there and then headed out on the second part of our excursion, trying to locate Pete Egan's home location. He writes for Cycle World and Road and Track magazines and is the column that I turn to first thing when the magazine comes every month. We are similar in age and he writes about the area quite a lot so I know what he is talking about when he refers to weather conditions etc.. A little game I play is trying to nail down a location from bits and pieces of his column and I thought that I could have it narrowed down to a couple of small roads in the Madison area, so Jan and I did a little more exploring without a whole lot of luck. I am not sure just what I figured would happen if I did manage to find his location. Jan and I have tried to track down Dan O'Brien in the Rapid City area more than once without any luck. Anyway, we stopped for a break at a tree covered closed bridge over a creek. I was just going to get a picture of Jan framed in the trees when we heard a bike coming around the bend and he stopped and it is Pete Egan in the flesh. We introduced each other and invited us up to his garage for a Coke!! Jan and I spent at least an hour just hanging out and talking and meeting his lovely wife Barbara and her friend whose husband is an F-16 pilot with the Air Guard- they were going out on a bicycle ride- and another neighbor who just got back from Norway and his dogs. It seems like such an idyllic setting, a modest home and the garage that is smaller than I expected with his drum set right in the corner of the garage where I expected to find it, all of this along a tree covered back road in Wisconsin. I guess the part that really makes me smile when I think about it, is how relaxed we were just talking bikes and the 34 Ford he is working on. He intends with Barb to follow Bonnie and Clydes' routes probably as the basis for another book, in the same brand of car that they actually used at the time. We also discussed the amount of road work going on and he related that just getting home from the airport in Milwaukee had been tough the night before. He was returning home from covering a race in Las Vegas for Road and Track . You may notice a little hero worship here, but I think that he is the first person I have ever met of such national stature. This is a guy that has been to and written about all of the places that you read about in magazines. I guess the surprise is, how he is just like any other gear head that I have ever run across, except he has a real talent for writing. Eventually we had to head back to the trailer up at Oakdale and he mapped out a route on some nice roads. Quite an afternoon to say the least.

The rest of the trip was very good too. I think that I have told you that almost every road is paved in those hills, but we hit some exceptional ones this time, narrow tar roads winding through the trees, it reminded me of the Black Forest in Germany. And the Amish almost everywhere, with huge gardens and every thing being done by hand or horse power. You could always tell when you were in Amish country by the amount of fresh horse apples on the road. All in all a very fine several days in Oakdale, Wisconsin. Stay in touch and check it out sometime, I know that we will be back.

More Bucket list roads

As usual I have these photos in pretty much reverse order of when they were taken. Eli and I headed West one Thursday after he got off work in Worthington, dodging rainstorms, we ended up running across South Dakota on highway 44. This is the first time that I have actually made the trip from Sioux Falls to Rapid City on that road. Except for hitting heavy rain around the Badlands it was a nice trip on a quiet road. We spent the night in Rapid and headed up through the Hills the next morning. West of Edgemont we tried a "shortcut" on a back road and I got a little sideways in a soft spot. I managed not to dump it so no foul I guess. That pretty much set the tone for my sense of adventure for the rest of the trip. We spent a lot of time waiting in road construction zones between there and Laramie, but for the most part they were pleasant breaks by the side of the road. I wanted to take two passes west of Laramie and the pass over the Snowy Range- you can judge by the photos how true that was-had just been cleared. We spent that night in Saratoga, where the North Platte river was over it's banks and still rising. There are a couple of photos from there. The next morning we were going to head west over the next pass to Baggs, but he motel clerk said that they had not even started working on clearing that one. So, change of plans, we cruised up to Rawlins, Thermopolis, Ten Sleep canyon and Crazy Woman canyon, where one of the photos shows a babbling brook, so to speak. Coming out of the canyon on the east side of the Big Horns we outran another rain storm and stopped at Gillette for the night. The next morning we were going so well that we agreed to try for home after a detour through the Hills on back roads. Eli did some shopping at the Rochford Mall, which can be seen in a picture. We pushed on to the east and home for what seemed like an awfully long time, due to the high cross winds all of the way home, but we made it shortly after sundown. Not too bad, over 600 miles with stops in Rochford and Rapid City on the way. I have fallen way behind in my blogging and have one more to do covering a fabulous trip to Wisconsin that Jan and I just returned from. So there will be more in the future.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

An Update of Sorts

Here we go again, playing catch-up. I wonder if it was the loooong Winter, which is just starting to break around here, but just getting started on any project has been tough. Since my last post in February, Jan and I have spent time in Virginia at the DeFors among other activities. I've been on a few Patriot Guard missions and am organizing a send off for the local Guard unit here in St. James next Saturday. Last Saturday night Jan and I were at the Rochester airport to welcome home a plane load of WWII vets from an outing to Washington D.C. What fun was that!!! Those guys and a few women vets were so excited to see the crowds. We were shaking hands with as many as possible and one guy told me "I haven't shaken this many hands in the last two days as I have in the previous 50 years!" We will be doing that in the future for sure. The program is run by the Honor Flight organisation. I am just getting over a cold, with a capital C. Damn, I don't know what it is, but it seems since my cancer surgery any cold I get, borders on pneumonia, which come to think of it I did have twice since then. I used to be able to work right through it, but not any more. One of the downsides of getting to retirement age I guess. I have also been digging out some of my aircraft models with an eye to maybe finishing them for once. I can't hardly believe it, but it has been 40+ years since I started on them, my how the time flies. As to travel plans for this year. I am thinking that Alaska has slid off of the radar for me. That would have been a 7000 mile trip of at least 3 weeks by myself. I am kind of a lone wolf but I do have my limits. So I am rethinking a western sweep again after I do another back road loop in Wyoming next month. I have added a few pictures to this report as usual. At the top are two of our rocking chair. Jan and I put it together before we were ever married, and I added our children to it as they came along, so one project that I finished this Spring was getting all of the Grand kids on board too. Things are a little crowded on the back of that chair, kind of like our house when we are all together. Next down are a few of Rachel, Josiah, Annika, and William from our time at their house in March. I guess that it is the march of progress but most updating now days seems to be moving to Face book. I guess that blogging is getting so ancient not many people are doing it anymore, but I plan on hitting here once in awhile anyway. Take care, drive safely, and be healthy.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

This one's for St. Jan

I don't know why it is so hard to sit down and start a new blog but lately it seems to be. Maybe it is the brutal winter we have had here this year. Anyhow, I got the idea to dedicate this one to my wife of 40 years as of tomorrow the 14th of February. Thinking back to our first date, which was a blind one to boot- lined up by friends- we hit it off right off the bat. Thinking back she should have known I was a little unusual by the selections in my 8 track tape collection for the player in my 1969 Mustang Mach 1. It included some J.S. Bach, Johnny Cash, 3 Dog night, and Henry Mancini. I think that I didn't get her home to Alpha until the early morning hours. Life with her has been an adventure with only a few bumps in the road. So far our health has been pretty good with only my brush with cancer the major bump in the road. I think that one of the reasons for our marriage stability is the fact that we have always been such good friends and comfortable around each other. I know from my side of the equation, that I love Jan more every day, and it has been that way for more than 40 years now. She has given me three beautiful children which has progressed into seven beautiful grandchildren. When they are all here it is a little crazy, but it is a house full of love. What an amazing sensation that is! I wish we could spend another 40 years together but I am sure that that scenario is not in the cards. I have added some pictures, one is Jan with Rachel when she was a baby. Jan is doing what she is really the best at, being a Mom. I love to listen to her talk to her daughters, and son, and daughter-in-law, and sons-in-law. We have a relationship with our family that I don't always see in others. The scary part of getting older is not being around to see how this all plays out, but I am sure that everybody feels that way. I just wanted the world to know that all I really want from Jan is to grow older together, although I don't feel that old yet. Hopefully I have a few good years left in me to give her warm coffee kisses in the morning, and hugs in the evenings. The other picture at the top is Jan with Leah, Aaron and their Mom Lindsey. So, Jan, I hope you like your surprize at work today and I'll see you later.
Love Pete