Thursday, July 16, 2015

2015 Bucket List Ride

  Here we go again with another bike trip story, but like I have said before, it is my blog, so I get to blog about what I am doing in the recent past. Again this year my brother Phil and I took off on another bike trip, mostly headed west and south west. We fell a little short of my day one destination due to the fact that Phils' Harley had some charging trouble, and I don't mean with a credit card. We spent some time in Murdo trying to repair the trouble until we got into Rapid City and the Harley dealer. We met the nicest native American couple, he was a Marine, and a union pipefitter, so Phil and he had a lot to talk about while he was charging the battery with a set of jumper cables. We made it to Rapid and the problem was corrected the next day with a few expensive parts. We headed west and ended up crossing the Big Horns on highway 16, which is a great mountain road. It's wide and curvy and has beautiful scenery, when you get a chance to look around. It was Worland for the night. Parts of Wyoming have had some huge amounts of rain recently which was evident in Wind River canyon the next morning, with landslides taking out the BNSF tracks in more than one place, and road repairs on our side on the canyon. At the head on the canyon is a dam that backs up Boysen reservoir. That lake was the highest that I have ever seen it, and it seems as if I get by there almost every year lately. We ended up eating lunch in Dubois at a supermarket deli. Part of the fun on these trips is the people that you meet, it seems that being on a bike leaves you open to just about everybody. For instance I spent a pleasant 10 minutes in the checkout at said supermarket chatting with just about all of the people in the area. Dubois is the home of Marine Chance Phelps who was the subject of the movie "Taking Chance". Jan and I visited his grave a few years ago but Phil and I did not stop by. Next up is the tremendous view of the Grand Tetons as we come over Togwotee Pass. Coming from the east as we did puts the entire range in front of you framed by the forest that you have been riding through. The only downside to that area is fighting your way through Jackson on regular city streets, with crazy traffic and multitudes of pedestrians crossing streets. Were we glad to get out town. From there we headed south and west some more, clipping a corner of Idaho and Utah before dragging into Evanston, Wyoming for that night. The next morning it was off to the Uintah mountains in Utah. This route takes you up and over the Uintah mountains. I believe that the pass was over 10,000 feet and cool too. Just past the pass we came across a heard of mountain sheep grazing in the ditch, I think that there were 16 or so. Took a break in Kanab and ran over a couple more passes to Price, Utah for lunch. The temperature was rising, so I thought that instead of running into southern Utah where it was hotter still we would head south east for the higher elevations in Colorado. After braving winds, some light rain and 102 degree temps we stopped in Grand Junction for the night.

The next morning it was south through Ouray and Silverton to Durango on some of the scariest mountain roads in this country. As many times as I have ridden the road out of Ouray, I still find it a little unsettling to say the least. We got caught in the only shower of the whole trip in a road construction area, but by the time we climbed Wolf Creek pass and arrived in Alamosa for the night I was dry. The next day was one of the most scenic runs ever, between Alamosa and Leadville you pass by a series of 14,000 foot mountains that this year were unusually snow covered, with a deep blue sky to boot. At the stop in Leadville we spent some time talking with a local, another Marine vet, about the local celebration in progress there etc.. While studying a poster on the wall in the convenience store I realized it was a price list for various amounts of marihuana, you can buy it here, just don't bring it home. From there up to I-70 to Dillon, another traffic jam, to Kremling for lunch. Just short of Walden, a bad accident kept us on the side of the road for about an hour, chit chatting with local ranchers and a truck driver hauling crude. I never have been able to find out what happened, but it looked as if the car hit a trailer going the other way, on this nearly deserted highway, and ripped the whole side out of the trailer. The car was in the deep ditch with the top pealed back, and the trailer and it's contents were scattered for 100 yards down the road. It did not look too good for the car driver, but the ambulance passed us later headed for Laramie I suppose. It was Wheatland, Wyoming that night. The next day is the sort of day that you must put in just to get back home, I guess. I thought just this once, for varieties' sake I would try a route across northern Nebraska, all the way to Sioux City. From Wheatland to Chadron, Nebraska was not too bad. We passed through Ft. Robinson, which Jan and I visited last year. An interesting side trip while we were staying at Hot Springs KOA. Lunch was at Chadron and the grind eastward began on a two lane road that went north, south, and then east some more. By 6 pm we were barely to Yankton, South Dakota. Finding a place to stay in Yankton did not go well either, with weddings, and class reunions going on. Luckily we did nail down a room at a former Super 8 where neither  the snack machine nor ice machine were working. The next day it was up through Sioux Falls and east. Phil and I split just over the border in Minnesota so he could head home to Delano and I went east to St. James and home by about noon, after a stop at Eli and Lindsey's farm. 
All in all a good trip with no major trouble beyond Phils' charging problem that got repaired. I admit that I chickened out on my grandiose plans for Nevada and Arizona, due to the heat in those areas. Maybe some other year or Heaven forbid not on a bike.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Assorted Trips Etc.

  I know that it has been quite awhile since I last blogged about anything but sooner or later I need to come out of the background and put something up for the world to see, and marvel at. I had a thought back in February while Jan and I were home bound from Japan. We had gone mostly north out of Narita across Siberia and out over the Bering Sea at 39000 feet. It was -73 degrees outside the window and it occurred to me that this is as close to space flight as most of us will ever get. Extremely cold, low air pressure, and a lack of oxygen that would be deadly in a matter of seconds. We are just floating along in this 777 over the Bering Sea miles from any kind of civilization assuming that this Boeing collection of parts will keep flying to our destination, which it did. Anyhow, there's that. Another thing that I have thought about for years, Mars landing, now I just want to live to see the day. After our Moon landing in 1969, almost 50 years ago now, the plan was that we would plant the flag on Mars by 1985. That plan went by the wayside, and now they talk about the 2030s. If I make it that far I will be in my 90s by that time, although Mom is almost 95. Enough about that.
     Back in May I rode up to North Dakota to visit some of the areas that I worked in 45 years ago, back when that was part of the telephone company territory that I worked for at the time as an engineer. The area was between Fargo and Grand Forks extending to the west as far as Aneta. I had been through all of the exchanges out there, and spent some weeks inventorying Aneta and west Northwood when we sold them to Polar Tel. Our old office still sits on a side street in Aneta with Polars' newer building alongside. West Northwood was on an intersection of two gravel roads in the middle of nowhere, with maybe 10 lines heading in three directions. It was a fun time riding around in the other guys' station wagon counting poles etc.. He had a rifle in the back seat and we stopped sometimes to take a shot at stuff. This year it was kind of windy and dry up there, don't think that I will be back. You know I have  another long one to post so I think that I will post it up in the future. It is about my brother Phil and my western ride.