Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Basements and potential

We're moving back to D.C. this weekend. My job has, so far, been packing up the basement. This particular job is a significant challenge. The dreams I had for this empty cement canvas are all coming back to me now as I uncover it's cold bare concrete floors. I planned a theater room here, bathroom there, and an airhocky table over there. Over the past several years, I've completely covered those dreams with boxes, toys, newspapers to be recycled, the list goes on... Now, as I pack everything up, uncovering that bare concrete, I remember all the things I hoped to do. I was only able to finish my office.

Basements are a male oddity I reckon. I mean, my wife for example, barely cares to set foot in a basement. I see a basement and the one ounce of creative blood starts flowing through my body - wow, this could be a(n).... I'm not sure what makes a basement a uniquely male facination but it sure seems to be. My wife sees cold concrete floors and walls... I see... potential.

I'm gonna miss this basement...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Last day revisited...

So I was quite short and infrequent posting on the last day - I'll explain. I left Oklahoma City, Ok on I-40 heading east towards Arkansas. It seems to me the geography of Oklahoma can be divided in two right at Oklahoma City. Late the previous afternoon riding to Oklahoma City, I was under the impression that Oklahoma was just an extension of the dry, hot, flat plains I'd just left in Texas. When I left out the next morning heading east from Oklahoma City, the plains were gone and trees began to appear. Turns out the eastern side seems just like Arkansas. It was kinda strange to wake up and begin the ride with the land looking that drastically different than what I'd left when I went to sleep.

I stayed at the Sleep Inn in Oklahoma City. It was there that I had my first goof of the trip - though I didn't realize it until the sun came up a couple hours later. I guess at some point when I was packing the bike to head out my sunglasses must have fallen out of my riding jacket pocket, since I left at zero-dark-thirty I didn't realize it. A couple hours later I was frantically digging with no luck. Given the truth behind the "sun rises in the east..." thing, I was forced to shell out 12.99 for a cheapo pair at a local gas station.

I stopped in the Arkansas welcome center, which is quite nice - no pictures, sorry. The lady at the center talked me through the best motorcycle route through the Ozarks to "just get a taste" of it. I heeded her advice (23N->16E->21S) and headed out.

I went up 23 mostly wondering whether I should have topped off the tank before leaving the interstate as it wasn't looking very promising that a Shell station would be around the next turn. The road quality wasn't great so I didn't really enjoy the curviness of the road as much as I might otherwise have. When I reached the intersection of 16, I saw two older gents - one on a cruiser (HD?) and the other on a trike - and decided to pull over and ask where the nearest gas station was. Turns out it was only about 3 miles further up the road which was quite a relief. The one fellow said they were heading that direction and they'd be on the lookout for me. Said if I needed it, they'd "suck some out of our tank and spit it in yours to make sure you get there". Turns out no sucking or spitting was necessary and I safely made it to a gas station that would have made Goober of Mayberry look like a modern day operation. There were two pumps, old-style. The store shelving appeared homemade and the operation was clearly family owned, humble, and warm. I went to pay for the gas and the lady asked how much I had gotten. After realizing that she was serious, I walked back outside to check. Came back and said "looks like $8.56". She said, "O.k., that'll be $8.56". Cool. As I went back to the bike there was a little boy (2yrs?) that ran past me to his dad that had been standing in the store. As he ran up, I heard him say "Hey Dad-dy" in a familiar drawn out sort of way. Hearing him made me instantly, overwhelmingly, homesick. As I put my gear back on I decided I wanted to wake up the next morning hearing that sound again from John.

I'm not sure whether it was the home-sickness that had just kicked in or the fact that I had just left the Rocky Mountains, but the Ozarks were a bit of a dissappointment. I'm sure this isn't fair but if what I saw was any indicator, I'd just assume ride US-52 through the N Ga mountains or Skyline Drive through Shenandoah. But it was an experience. Shortly after leaving the gas station the blue skies were covered by thick dark gray clouds, then the familiar large infrequent sprinkles. Knowing what was in store for me, I turned back for a mile or so to buy me some time, pulled over and donned my rain gear. My rain gear is comprised of liners to my normal riding gear so I have to take things off, then put back on. It wasn't until I was halfway through this rather awkward operation that I realized I had an audience across the street. Just a tad embarrassing. So I finished up the Ozarks in the pooring rain. The rain let up by the time I made it back to I-40 so I took the gear off and headed east, determined to make it home that night.

This determination led to short fuel stops and infrequent updates. I followed Rebecca's rule and did call her at least every 3 hours though. Those calls were really short just to let her know I was doing well. I assured her that if I got sleepy tired at any point that I wouldn't hesitate to find a hotel and sleep for the night - even if that was in Chattanooga.

I stopped in Little Rock for lunch - a healthy Whopper for fuel and a vanilla milkshake for coolness. If the diners in a fast food establishment are any indication, Little Rock has to be the more friendliest of places that I went through. From a group of local firefighters asking about my trip to the restaurant workers asking about my riding gear, they were all the friendliest strangers I've encountered in a while.

Sadly, because I was now trying to get home so quickly, I didn't get to stop in the Clinton Library and Museum in Little Rock where I'd hoped to pick up a "We Miss You Bill" bumper sticker for my dad*.

So the rest of the trip from Little Rock, to Memphis, to Nashville, to Chattanooga was fast and - save some rain - uneventful. I was desparately trying to make it through Chattanooga before dark but that didn't end up happening. I hate riding through the mountains of Chattanooga in the dark because, even though it's an interstate, the road is still fairly curvy and cars begin to think they're professional drivers or something and can't resist the urge to speed like crazy through there. Personally, I wouldn't mind that so much since on a bike I can handle the curves much faster they they can but since we share this same curvy road with the tractor trailers who have to drive in low (slow) gear, it's not a good combination. I hadn't seen the "run-away-truck" ramps before and that wasn't exactly confidence inspiring either. Apparently, if these trucks get out of control (run-away), they can use the dirt ramps that go up the mountain to stop. I've got to wonder how often these ramps get used - hopefully rarely.

Anyway, I made it home Saturday night and cured my home-sickness.

It was an incredible trip even if all my goals weren't met. I had hoped to ride more through the Rockies on the way home, which didn't happen because of weather. I had hoped to spend some time on Route 66 which didn't happen partly due to weather. I guess maybe the real reason these didn't happen was because taking a return trip home slow and easy isn't really in my nature. If I were to have taken leave on the front side of the trip and had work to look forward to, perhaps it would have been easier to take it slower and enjoy sites along the way I don't know. I do know that taking it slow and easy on the way home was a really nice and exciting idea that was ultimately not as appealing as seeing my family again. So next time (hear that Rebecca?), I'll try taking extra time on the way out, as opposed to the return.

To all that provided encouraging comments along the way, thank you.

Total Distance: 3,234 miles.
Total States (11): Ar, Co, Ga, Il, Ks, Ky, Mo, Nm, Ok, Tn, Tx.

* - Merely for humor.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


I'm home now. 963 miles today. More later - to bed now...

Fuel for me and bike

Gased up and eating lunch here in N Little Rock, Ar.

Fueling up

Got gas and a jumbo honey bun here in Webber Falls, Ok. Off to Arkansas...

Heading out...

About to leave the room and get started. I'll just head out on I-40
straight to Arkansas instead of going through Tulsa.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Random road trivia

1) I passed multiple cities with, I think, an elevation higher than Denver.
It caused me to wonder what the highest U.S. City is?

2) My bike's speedometer and my GPS are almost always 3 mph different.
Which is more likely to be the more accurate of the two? ("The faster one."
Is not a valid answer.

Return Day 1 Complete

After a dissappointing start not going through the mountains and pikes peak, it turned out to be a really nice ride. New mexico was quite a pleasant surprise to me. After my entire ride in Colorado being drizzle overcast, as soon as I crossed the mountain (rotan pass?) The sky was a deep blue and the mountains were different - more blocky than round. 87 was a great road for mostly until dumas, when it turned interstate-like - until then, it was a 2 lane road with little traffic and a 70mph limit. Texas and Oklahoma have a lot in common so far - they are both hot, dry, flat, and boring. Texas kept it interesting with some incredible wind gusts - unsettling to say the least. I made it to Ok City where I'm staying the night. A little over 700 miles for the day. I'll start out tomorrow towards Tulsa, then on into
Arkansas. Haven't really done the mileage but my arbitrary goal is to stay in Little Rock tomorrow.

Amarillo by late afternoon...

In Amarillo filling up and there is front behind me. I'm pushing on to
Oklahoma. We'll see how far I get. It's been a real nice ride so far.
Little hot lately, but the road (87) was nice until I got to Dumas. Thanks
to the dude at the NM welcome center that suggested I just take it all the
way to Amarillo. Now I-40 to Ok.

Lunch and gas

Forgot to record stopping for lunch in Clayton, NM. Now I'm in Dalhart, TX
fueling up...

Gas stop

Stopped for gas in Raton, NM. I'm off 25 now and heading east/se on 87
towards clayton.

No pikes peak for me

Well coming through colorado springs was pretty rainy and the mountains
peaks were in the clouds. That, combined with the anticipated bad weather
this afternoon made me decide to skip it and try to get some solid miles
covered. I had to stop for gas here in Pueblo, Co., which is just south of
colo springs. I'm skipping the mountain highway (24/285) and just going
straight to New Mexico via I-25. More later...

this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, August 20, 2006

St Louis...

Posting the pictures from St. Louis. Sorry these are out of chronological order...

The bike and the Arch...

Neat building just down the street from the Arch...

Just a couple blocks from the manicured lawns and new buildings around the Arch is this rusted train track and alley.

Look closely and you can see the Arch in the background...

In Denver...

The last 150 miles or so had the cloudy rain give way to deep blue skies with puffy white clouds which made for a nice welcome to Denver. When I think of Colorado, I think mountains and snow. I guess I've never thought beyond the stereo-type. In fact, there are hundreds of miles of beautiful rolling fields in Colorado before you get to the mountains.

At the last fuel stop as I pumped the gas I watched two little boys (the youngest probably Grant's age) strolling along on two ponies. They were wearing blue jeans and cowboy hats and boots. The oldest was leading the way and looked over at me in my funny-looking space suit and tipped his hat and said "Howdy." I smiled and returned the greeting. My arrival picture:

Last night as I settled into the hotel, I planned to wake up first thing this morning and take the bike up to Rocky Mountain National Park. When I woke, I decided instead to give my backside a rest and chose to walk to Starbucks for a good cup of coffee. I walked around the streets of Denver looking like a typical tourist and snapping pictures of random things. Below is a sample...

I got quite a few shots of Union Station, I think it looked really cool with the deep blue sky...

And the "Rio Grande" train parked on the tracks behind it...

Just a block away was this Ice House/Creamery building. I thought it was a neat looking building.

I have no clue what this thing is supposed to be but was kinda neat it s just really big pole sticking up out of a platform.

Clock tower in the middle of the 16th Street Mall. This is a cool pedestrian friendly area with tons of shops, restaurants and a Starbucks every 3 blocks or so.

I have to work this afternoon but hope to make it to Rocky Mountain National Park this evening...

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Wasn't finished...

I reckon mother nature wasn't done with me. I walked 6 blocks to dinner and it's storming like crazy out. I'll wait a few minutes and then the reward of the besd is worth it...

A mile high at last...

Just a quick note to say I made it. A hot shower is calling my name, I'll
post more later.

Last fuel stop

Should be the last fill up before Denver...


Stopped for gas in Goodland, KS. Temps have dropped considerably - kinda
chilly riding. No rain anymore, really cloudy, threatening skies. They
tell me I'm about 190 miles from Denver. I hope they're right.

this is an audio post - click to play


Yeah I gave up and decided just to push through the rain. Thanks for the
update - I liked the other forecast better...

Day 1 complete

I've arrived in a hotel in Lawrence, KS, which is in between Kansas City and Topeka. Mileage total for the day is roughly 820. The day was great in
total even with a rough 100 miles or so outside st louis. It turned into a beautiful evening for the ride in. If I weren't so tired, I'd have kept going to enjoy it. Local news is forecasting rain tomorrow so it should be an interesting end to the first leg of this adventure.

Thanks for all the comments today, they are very encouraging... to be continued tomorrow...

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lesson #1

Don't attempt to ride in a Missouri thunderstorm - the wind is crazy. I
only made it another 20 miles or so and had to stop because of the wind.
Hopefully it passes soon.

Ice cream break

This heat is tough stuff. I only made it to Boonville when I got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. My luck I reckon, I'm fine traffic-wise through
some of the larger cities around and I get stuck in traffic as soon as the temp climbs above 100. I'm eating an Oreo McFlurry to cool down and wait for it to cool off a bit. No, there wasn't a DQ around:)

100 miles from KC...

Gas and burger

Filled up both me and the bike. New Florence, Missouri, just west of St Louis. Kansas City should be roughly 170 miles away...

Through the Gateway

Took some token photos here in St Louis, now heading west to Kansas City. The Arch is *big*. Will have to take a family road trip up here, St Louis
looks much cooler than I would have thoguht - lots of character.

Closing in on St. Louie

Stopped to gas up in Mt. Vernon, Illinois which, I think is roughly 70-80 miles outside of St Louis. Warming up considerably out here so I'm staying for a few minutes to hydrate. The beautiful I-24 that I left at breakfast quickly gave way to the blah interstate we know and love.

Not sure if I gave props to the Cracker Barrel management or not in my last update but they rectified the delay in breakfast by making it complimentary...

On to the Arch...

this is an audio post - click to play


After 300 miles I decided I deserved a hearty sit-down breakfast and the Cracker Barrel here in Cadiz, Kentucky.

Things to remember...
o) there is a Lodge Factory store just north of Chattanooga with up to 50 percent off.

So far...
The drive has been really nice. I admit I was looking forward to riding out in Colorado and the ride back much more than the ride out because it'll be less highway miles. If you've got to do highway miles, I-24 is a good highway to do them on. Between winding through the Appalacians to the rolling farm land here in Kentucky, it's beautiful.

Someone should really send a note to the Nashville tourism department and let them know that the solid waste transfer station greeting folks isn't very inviting. Otherwise, they have a nice skyline...

(Becca)I passed Ft. Campbell too...

Fuel stop

Had to fuel up in Christiana, TN - somewhere in between Chattanooga and Nashville. Glad that the sun is up and the cold mountains are mostly

Early update

I-24W just north west of Chattanooga... On to Nashville...

this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

From Atlanta to Denver

Distance: 1,384.7 miles
Departing: Acworth, Georgia
Destination: Denver, Colorado
Transportation: BMW R1200GS (see below)

So I'll be making my way from Acworth, just North West of Atlanta, to Denver, Colorado. I'll be leaving up I-75N to Chattanooga where I'll catch I-24, to I-57 just south east of St. Louis, Mo. I'll then take I-70 across Missouri and Kansas through to Denver. I'll stop to take at least token pictures of places like the Arch along the way. I anticipate the trip out there being fairly boring and, hopefully, uneventful.

I'll be returning a different, longer, route. I'll post the return route separately but plan to hit Pikes Peak then down near Albuquerque, NM, taking I-40 and Rte 66 through Texas, Oklahoma, then up to Tulsa and over to Arkansas where I hope 16 will get me through the Ozarks. Then down to Little Rock, over to Memphis and the home stretch back home. But more on this later...

To appease various family members, I'll be posting (written and audio) updates along the route here...