Sunday, June 11, 2017

Another Bucket List Post

  Well, folks I am at it again. With my latest bike trip I managed to check off the last state west of the Mississippi that I had not ridden in. This Spring I have managed to get to the last two states I needed  to get to, Louisiana and Arizona, so I can die happy, so to speak. The first night was in Salina, Kansas. The ride south and west of there that morning was so beautiful, clear skies, green foliage, and one town that impressed me with it's cleanliness and order. The town was Lindsborg, home of a small Lutheran college, very pleasant area. Later on the slog west across the high plains I passed through a small town and caught a historical marker calling out Burdett, Kansas as the discoverer of Pluto's home town, Clyde Tombaugh. At that point I followed a string of parked coal cars on an abandoned rail line next to the highway. This went on for 15 miles to the next town with breaks for road crossings etc.. I have seen parked rail cars like this all over the country, kind of an indicator of the rail business and the economy in general. Eastern Colorado was next, and this is not the part of Colorado that most people visualize when they think of Colorado, like the John Denver vision. Trinidad for the second night is right next to the real mountains and the next morning I went west and north out of there on Colorado highway 12. That was the reason I had headed to that part of the state in the first place. It turned out that it was a good choice, quiet roads and little traffic in the morning and the mountains were snow covered. The third photo from the top is of West Spanish Peak. Over into the San Luis Valley to Antonito, home of the Cumbres and Toltec scenic railway. Jan and I rode that one a couple years ago and spent two nights in Antonito, a narrow gauge rail ride well worth the price of admission. Anyhow, to Chama, New Mexico for lunch and Bloomfield for the night. I missed a turn in Shiprock the next morning that took me out of town quite a ways, but I did get a shot of Shiprock which is the bottom photo. To my surprise the weather stayed so nice and cool and quiet all of the way to Kayenta, Arizona, where I stopped for lunch at MacDonalds. Kayenta is just south of Monument Valley and this stop was filled with Europeans, mostly French I think. I can only imagine their horror at those disgusting American eating places. I don't know but that was the cleanest MacDonalds that I have been in in a long time. All native workers because you are on a Navaho reservation there. Out to the north towards Utah and Monument Valley next. I did mount my GoPro and record my ride through the area, the bottom photo is from there. I tried to upload some video to this blog but it won't take it, says it is too big. There are not too many parts of Utah that are not scenic and the ride up to Monticello fit the bill. Then back across south western Colorado to Delores, up passed Ophir, Telluride, to Ridgeway for the night. The second photo is from the back yard of the motel in Ridgeway taken the next morning. Jan and I have stayed there a couple of times, and Phil and Eli and I have spent time there too. It's always been a great place to hang your hat. Get home-itus was setting in the next day as I wound through some of the best roads around. Up to Delta, over McClure pass, Glenwood Canyon and north Towards Steamboat Springs. I stopped for gas and some lunch in Yampa, a big slice of pizza and a coke on a picnic table in the yard. A young lady spotted my Minnesota plate and asked me where I was from, said around 40 miles south west of Mankato, she had gone to MSU. I asked where she was from, and she was from Waconia! Small world, Jan and I had spent several years there when we were first married. I know that I have mentioned this before, but when you are on a bike people just want to talk to you, something that almost never happens in a car. Up until this point I had not seen a drop of rain, but near Steamboat it got really black and I saw some lightning. Turning east over Rabbit Ears pass I thought that I might escape my wet fate, but it looked nasty to the north so I stopped and struggled into my rain gear. Just north of Walden I did run into some rain, but all the way to Laramie the rain had already passed by. After riding my favorite Wyoming 34 over to Wheatland I called it a night. The last day was a long- 700 mile run- home with lunch at Rapid City and the long haul down I-90. I got talking to a couple of brothers from out west and he saw the USAF hat I was wearing and we did the usual, where, when, which bases, which aircraft etc.. When I told him Electronic warfare and B-52Ds he was really surprised, as that was his career field too. We compared AFSCs, and both agreed that neither one of us had ever run across another ECM troop before, and I have been out over 50 years. We stood around in the lot at Murdo and talked B-52s ecm gear etc., etc. until his brother called a halt. If you have ever been around a couple of B-52 freaks before you would know this could go on for hours, kind of like my brother and I with muscle cars. These two brothers had been on the road all over the USA for most of the month of May. I was home by 8:30 or so ready to call it a long day. I turned the GS over to 20,000 miles out in South Dakota somewhere, so I am having a good riding year so far. A lot of the time I feel like I am running out of time, like we all are, and riding is one of the skill sets that needs be sharp if you want to live to ripe old age. So, as usual, leave a note if you will and we'll meet in the future somewhere.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The ongoing Bucket LIst quest

   A few weeks ago I saw a window in the weather to the south and took a chance that I could beat the odds and dodge the bad stuff again. I loaded up and headed south again for destinations I have tried to reach before, like Arkansas and Louisiana. It was a nice ride through Iowa with clear skies and a tail wind to Indianola for the night. Day two was spent crossing Missouri from north to south on some off the interstate highways. A lot of small towns in that state are in pretty bad shape, with lots of homes in such bad shape it was hard to tell if they were occupied or not, not the town I would like to call home I guess. The ride was nice though through pretty country down to Springfield and around Branson to Harrison, Arkansas. For some reason once you get into southern Missouri and Arkansas things look more prosperous and better cared for. I can see why retirees sometimes head down to Arkansas. It was in the 80s and sunny, beautiful countryside and roads especially, at least the couple of days I was there. Shortly after I made the round trip things got real ugly in that area, with heavy rains with washed out roads, and interstates under water. It seems like I heard that Branson was talking about evacuating, and I had just been there. I ran a road up through the Ozarks with my GoPro recording about an hours worth of riding.  Anyhow, a really nice ride down to the Little Rock area, and then the grind down to the Louisiana state line. I had driven down that same road in 1963, 54 years ago on my way home from tech school in Biloxi, with several guys headed home too. From there I headed over into Mississippi and up to Clarksdale for the night. That area really is the Mississippi delta country and it is flat with a lot of agriculture. The next morning was up to Memphis. I have been trying to download one of my GoPro segments, but it  is evidently to large, so if anyone needs to see it you need to be in front of the laptop. Man, do I hate Windows 10!! So anyhow Memphis was kind of a traffic snarl especially when you are trying to read a map in 3 or 4 lanes of traffic at 60 per. Amazingly enough I got through the whole city without getting lost once! I did see a sign for Graceland but ignored it. I had been watching the weather every day and could see that the crap was on the way from the west, so I kept hitting the road as much as I could. Western Tennessee was a lot like parts of Arkansas, flat and then wooded. I managed to clip the end of Kentucky to add another state to my list and rolled over the Ohio river into Cairo, Illinois. Wow, is the city in bad, bad shape, the miles long main street did not have more than a few open businesses, so I was glad to make my way out of that area and head north into Illinois. About this time I started to get a little moisture coming down, and called it a day in Marion, lucky for me it absolutely poured that night while I holed up in the motel. I left there the next morning with every stitch of clothing that I had along on me. The crap from the west was arriving to be sure. From then on up to Springfield, over to Hannibal, Missouri and up to Iowa City,  fighting the cold and a stiff head wind. I spent that night in Iowa City and cruised home the next day in 4 or 5 hours. Oh ya it was like 35 above most of the last day. So I added 3 more states to my list, and with Louisiana I only have more to visit to have every state west of the Mississippi, which I plan on trying to get to in the next week or two. That would be Arizona. Since I returned, Jan and I had our trailer out last weekend, it was beautiful, this weekend not so much. It is 45 degrees here and has rained all day. My lawn is going wild and it's too wet to mow, gonna need a sickle mower soon. Oh ya, I traded our R1200 RT BMW in on a new t120Triumph Bonneville on the 4th. So no pictures this time.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Spring Follow Up

 I finally finished that model of a Ducati 1199 Panigalle and here are a few photos of the finished product. I cannot imagine tackling something this detailed again. Parts that are so small a tweezers was too large to grip them properly. I have to admit it took a month to get it done, what with painting parts one day and attaching them to the growing bike the next. Did I mention that Jan and I made a trip to Rapid City to a large model shop that I have been visiting for more than 50 years, knowing that they would have the correct colors that are called for in the directions. Well, that was the excuse for a cruise to the Hills again. I actually picked up another color paint at a shop in Fairfax, Virginia when we were out there in February. So I have quite a collection of Tamiya paints. The color on the body panels is Italian red with a couple coats of clear coat on top to make it nice and shiny and cover the decals, which were affixed with a lot of oaths.

Here is the photo of the first resident of Eli and Lindsey's goat farm. Jan and Lindsey are going up to Lakeville this coming weekend to pick up a couple more so this one won't be lonely. Charlotte is this one's name and she was pretty little when they got her. Hopefully they will earn their keep by keeping the grass and weeds trimmed. We shall see.
Lastly, I had several tests done in the last couple weeks to make sure that the old ticker isn't about to fall out on the street. A nuclear stress test- not fun- was first on the agenda followed by an echo cardiogram here in St. James. I have had both of these done before so I was not too surprised at the procedures. A few days later we met with the doctor and I was afraid that open heart surgery was in my future, but PTL everything was fine. He suggested that maybe the reason I don't have the energy I used to have is because I ain't as young as I used to be, imagine that. So I am back planning bike trips for the coming year and chasing after grandkids activities. I will leave you with my usual request, leave a message if you please.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Another State Tournament

  Jan and I spent a weekend in Buffalo, Minnesota attending our Grandson Sam's fourth grade basketball teams domination of their division. They ended the season undefeated and took the championship with determination and hard intelligent play. Their team shows the benefit of good players, good coaching, and a close group of kids who want to work hard at their craft. To have seen them last year and this, the improvement and co-ordination of the players was absolutely amazing. My brother Phil and his wife Laura had not seen them this year before last Saturday and were wowed by the level of play. One thing that I can't quite get over, is watching them play to the level that they do, running plays, passing the ball and fast breaks, to, when they are off the court being a bunch of not so regular 10 and 11 year olds. Jan and I were sitting with Gen and some parents and fans between games, and what were the members up to? Lying on the floor working math problems! Anyhow we spent Saturday night at Phil and Laura's house, which is a ten minute drive from the games' site at the Buffalo Senior High School. I think that the school had 8 basketball courts, and it looks as if more are under construction. Sam plays for the Lourdes team out of Rochester and probably will continue right on up through High school. I don't know if it is karma or what but it was Lourdes that beat Gen's St, James team for the State Championship in 1994 and now her sons will probably play for them. Our other Theobald grandson, Gus and I were watching one of the games and I pointed out Sam and his teammates on the floor and said "that's you next year", he wasn't so sure, but we'll see. One thing that helps is that their main coach, Scuba and Tom Week also coach, is the Lourdes high school coach too, so they could play together right through high school.

I have thrown in a few photos from the games. I shot a lot of frames over the 2 days, but for some reason the sport setting on my camera evidently is not working, as it should have stopped action but did not, so most of the half way good ones that I got were when nobody was moving. Being around this group of young men the last couple of years has somewhat restored my faith in the future. In the top photo, Scouba is in the upper right, and Sam, his son, is right below him. After the games Jan and I headed home in a snow storm that steadily got worse the closer we got to home. The last 35 miles were white knuckles at maybe 30 miles per hour. On Monday I had to get the trusty snow blower out to move 6-8 inches of snow out of the way.
   On another note. Rachel e-mailed wondering if I had any photos of Joe playing basketball from when we were out there in Burke. I do, but the photo to e-mail procedure has changed again so I finally gave up trying to attach photos to an e-mail. Let's see if I can get lucky now? I actually got a short video to down load. Here are a couple of photos of grandson number one, Josiah DeFor, he's number 22. In the photos above, Sam Theobald is 23. So that about does it, although I have been working on a model of a Ducati Panigali 1199. This is the most intricate plastic model I have ever tried to assemble bar none. I figure, rather that coughing up huge dough for the real thing I would build the model and park it on the baby grand in the living room. Our 94 900 SSCR spent the first winter in our bedroom in front of the patio door. It was nice to look at the first thing in the morning, you know, bright red in the morning sun. So that about does it for now. Lemme know if you read this OK?

Needless to say it ain't done yet. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

To Burke and Back

   Jan and I just returned from our Navy family in Burke, Virginia. Hans was going back to the Barking Sands test range in Hawaii for a week, and if we could run out there, to Burke, Rachel could go along for a nice vacation. Hans is working on a project for the Navy, so when he was off they could spend some time together. We checked the weather forecasts and checked airline schedules and decided to drive out. With gas prices as low as they are now the fuel costs were not that bad. I did see $1.99 in Ohio, I think. It is a couple of days out and back of pretty hard driving. The truck traffic just seems to get worse all of the time, any more and they will almost be bumper to bumper on some of the interstates. We spent around 10 days at their place. Got to spend some time with the kiddos, watch Josiah play basketball a couple of times, and run to Target, and the grocery store more than once. Hans got home early Sunday morning and Rachel arrived later in the afternoon. They were not on the same flights, obviously, and in a kind of macabre sense, if one of the planes had been lost we wouldn't have lost both of them. I hate to think like that but sometimes thoughts run away with you. Anyhow, Jan and I spent our Anniversary driving down the interstate highway system on Tuesday wishing each other Happy Valentines Day too. Wow, it can't be 46 years already can it? I want the world to slow down a little, for us anyway. It seems as if things are accelerating with the grand kids, and Summer coming on, and getting bikes out for a run. I have a hunch that this coming year will not see me putting another 19,000 miles on like I did last year, but then who knows? Just for St. Jan, the last 46 years have been so good that I am going to wish for another 46. Know that I love you more now than that day in February 1971, OK? And last but not least it was Annika's Birthday on the 15th. She just turned 11. We got to see her at the hospital in Japan just hours after her arrival. So that is about it for now.
                                         Love Pete