Sunday, April 5, 2009

Motorcycle Ride-Father and Son


In 2002 Chris, our oldest son, had just come back to MN from living in RI. He was a couple of years out of college. He brought a Honda 1100 Blackbird cycle back with him, at one time the fastest production bike made, from what I understand.
I still had my 1982 920cc Virago, an air-cooled twin. Kinda like Mutt and Jeff going down the hi-way with those two bikes or Speedracer and Easyrider, maybe?

We had a mini-family reunion at Lake Tahoe planned for the summer, so we decided to ride the bikes there. Chris left St. Paul, MN and I left La Crosse, WI and we met in Albert Lee, MN. We rode to Greeley, CO our first day. 915 miles for me and 900 for Chris and stayed at a nephews place.
The next day we decided to ride through Estes Park then south toward Fair Play. Somewhere around there we found a place to camp for the night, after picking up a bottle of something to go with the ice and mix in the Virago saddle bags. I think it rained some, but luckily by the time we found a campsite, it had stopped.

The next day we headed off in the general direction of Poncha Springs and eventually to Grand Junction. It was great riding, up, down and around the Rockies.
Chris had been giving me a little crap about the condition of my tires and my bike in general. I kinda blew it off. Somewhere short of Grand Junction, at one of our stops, either Chris or myself noticed my rear tire had some cord showing through. ooops! We gently rolled into town and proceeded to try to find a bike shop that had a tire for me. I think we went to a couple before we found one that had a Harley name brand tire but the correct size for my bike. I told the guy to just put the logo on the inside and that would be fine.....

After the bike was put back together, the mechanic took the old gal out for a test ride and came back shaking his head, wondering how I could even ride it across the street, let along half way across the country. Seems he thought she was kinda wore out and needed a face lift along with some other surgery. Chris kinda mumbled "I told ya so" not wanting to be too much of a know it all, but obviously he was right. He'd been hinting maybe I could use an upgrade for quite awhile. As he had worked at a bike shop in RI, he had gotten pretty educated on bikes and was hinting that my ride was getting a little untrustworthy. Is it still paranoia when people are actually out to get you? I accused Chris of working the mechanic over to say all those hateful things about my baby.

Later, on the way back through Denver, we stopped at a Honda shop and we found a Honda ST1100 that he thought would be a good fit for me. It took me a few years, but I finally got one. I might be slow, but I'm still processing....
Getting it back to WI from CA was a trip, but maybe that's a story better left for another day.

We must have stayed not too far from Grand Junction, CO because we didn't have any problem getting our nightly supplies. Unknowingly, the next night proved a little more difficult.
We took off the next morning heading for Hi-way 50, labeled "The Lonliest Highway in America".

There is one stretch out of Green River on I70/US50 where it's 110 miles between gas fill ups. The Virago can only go between 100-120 miles on a tank but we figured we could always drain some out of Chris' bike, if needed, as his tank was a lot bigger than mine.

We left I70 and continued straight west on HW 50 and pulled into Hinckley, UT. It was late afternoon and we figured we'd do our normal, catch a quick bite, something other than subs, as we'd been eating them pretty regularly during the day, then get something to wash the dust out of our mouths from riding all day.
When we asked where we could pickup a jug of something, we learned that UT is a pretty dry state and everything was closed as it was after 5pm. We asked where the nearest alcohol was and we were directed to Baker, NV, 85 miles away, across desert with nothing in between. Did we want to chance a night crossing all for a bottle of rum? I don't even think we looked at each other and as Bob Seger says in Roll Me Away.

We just walked out and got on that bike
And we rolled
And we rolled clean out of sight

With that we gassed up and headed out. It was just getting dark and after we we out about 30 minutes I felt Chris wasn't going fast enough and passed him. We had decided that Chris would lead as his headlight was much better than mine...actually, mine was pretty much non-existent, they've came a long way in 25 years. That was one if not the major reason we decided to do all of the riding in day-light hours.
I didn't go a mile when an antelope came out of nowhere and I almost hit it. We got back into our formation and slowed down some. Figured Baker wasn't going anywhere as there was a casino there that was open all night so why push our luck. Once we got there we ate, got a bottle and went and found another quiet camp site out off the hi-way to solve most, if not all, of the worlds problems.

Well we made it into Tahoe for the reunion and hung out a few days there with family. It is/was a yearly thing with my brothers and sisters and our kids. We rented a sailboat we could all fit on, did some kayaking, sightseeing and even gave a few motorcycle rides around the rim for those that wanted to.

Then Chris and I headed back to WI and MN. Things were pretty much the reverse as when we came out. Swung south in CO again and picked up some more mountain/high plains riding down by Durango. Almost ran out of gas at one stretch and got caught in the rain climbing over a couple peaks in the middle of the night making our way back to Denver to meet up with Chris' friend from college, Angie. Gotta add a little excitement to things or is just wouldn't be normal.

The next day we decided to head north to see the sights of Mt. Rushmore instead of heading straight back. The whole trip we looked for excuses to stay off the interstate. Somewhere along the way we figured out we hit the final days of Sturgis. Moving up toward the Black Hills we ran into a hail storm. We stopped and tried to find some cover. Even with leather on, they felt like someone pelting you with rocks from close range.

Pics after the storm passed.

Pulling into the Black Hills there were bikes everywhere. Did the usual, Mt. Rushmore, and I think we checked out the Sitting Bull site as well. I had been to both a few times but Chris was only there once before I think when he was about 5 or 6.

We stopped to eat and enjoyed watching all the shapes, sizes and colors parade by and that was just the riders!

We decided not to even try to get into Sturgis and figured we'd hit the secondary road that parallels the Interstate heading east. Camping and motels were going to be at a premium, if we could find any at all, but we headed out of Deadwood, SD to see what we could see and find what we could find.

30-40 miles out or so we noticed a somewhat wooded area with a single lane dirt road off to our right. We pulled in and looked it over and decided this was the spot. We drove back out to the road, noticed a ranch house up the road a ways and pulled in to see about camping at the spot we found with the small pond with the grassy, wooded acreage. The rancher and his family all came out to see us as we asked permission. He didn't have a problem with it and we had our usual cocktails on that spot, our last night out. In the morning we swung by again, just to say thanks.

Little over 4200 miles round trip.

Of course it was a neat way to spend a couple weeks getting to know Chris again and maybe him me. He had graduated from college and had spent a couple years away from home so this was a nice way to welcome him back to the neighborhood.

I listened to this when I was young, as many of you may have. Always liked his smooth, soft, simple style. Kinda lost that for a number of years, what with the pressures of raising a family and always concerned about having enough money to keep the kids in clothes and food with a roof over their heads.
Funny, you change from the Son to the Father and then maybe get to go through all again when your son becomes the father.....??

This is David, our youngest son with Jason, born 2-28-09


mike said...

That sounds like a great bonding experience : )

Mimbres Man said...

Right now I am working with a 29-year old from Vermont. He is pretty clueless about the world. I admire him for coming overseas fairly early in his career (something I wanted to do but didn't) but he needs to learn more about the USA. He has no clue what is beyond New England. I suggested he buy a motorcycle and ride across the USA. Heck, it is something I want to do.
Looks like it was a great trip!

motoscotch said...

thanks for the comments guys.

it was a fun trip, hope we get to do it again someday. Chris now has a sport BMW and I have the STeed, so it would be a faster trip if nothing else!

I'm planning a trip to bike to Alaska. Going via ferry from Seattle, cruise around some and come back via AL-CAN Highway. Maybe in a couple of years. Want to take my mtn. bike with.

My wife and I made a number of trips on the old's always a good time on a motorcycle, any motorcycle!