Thursday, October 23, 2014

Planning The Next Leg Of The Cross Country Tour

The ride from Montana to Maryland and then to Florida was great.
I appreciate all the help I got on the Saddlesore 1000-1 from Barry Reddick the Certified Iron Butt witness and coach.
Sidecar Bill Ryder made sure the rig was ready and my twin brother Dean made a great End of Ride witness.
It was great being in Minneapolis for his 80th birthday party.
The visit with Jason and Allison in Baltimore and the visit to Fort Mc Henry was great.
Next is a possible cruise on the Disney Fantasy and then back on the Yamaha for the cross country ride to Houston.
Although Google maps has it at 964 miles, I expect it will be many more by the time I visit old stomping grounds in Panama City and Pensacola, Florida.

I'll be looking for some state camping sites to make use of the Mini Mate camper.
I remember that drive along the Gulf with it's white sands and resorts, and the night Lois and I and all six kids pulled a tent camper acrtoss that area and were awed by the sight of the big ship with all the lights in Mobile, Alabama.
Great moments to remember. I'm looking forward to that part of the trip.
Then Houston where I will see Joni, Gary and Jerusha.
Lois' brother Stan lives there too, we may get to take that hot air balloon ride yet.
I can't decide which way I'll go after that, but it will likely be toward Arizona, New Mexico and then up to San Jose, CA via Highway 101. That is supposed to be a great ride.
Got the oil changed today.
The Yamaha Superstore in Sanford, Florida is the largest I have seen.
An added bonus today was the Can Am factory team was there to offer free rides on the new Spyder.
They had quite a line up of bikers waiting for a ride so I loaded Ilidio into the sidecar and headed off to a Thai restaurant for lunch without taking them up on their offer.
The Can Am with two wheels in front makes an unusual trike, but I won't be making any changes in my rig any time soon.
The Yamaha V Star 1100 Classic is a great Long Distance road bike and the Velorex sidecar and Mini Mate camper makes it a real Iron Butt LD rig.
Enjoying my visit with Diana and Ilidio, and getting a good rest.
Looking forward to a great ride across the south, but sure hate to leave their pool.
Watch for me in your area.
I'll be in the Right Lane America.
Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Vast Scenic Vistas and Multitudes Of Fantastic Fellow Travelers

I had planned to drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway, but after driving the sidehack rig down the Skyline Drive, I turned East on I-64 and headed for I-95 South.
Travel was smooth, not like the winding twisting roads of the Skyline.
It was a great drive, but the Interstate made for an easy ride.
The sign on the back of the Yamaha from Helena to Minneapolis read:
80 Year  Old Iron  Butt Challenge Rider - 1000 miles in 24 hours.
I had made good use of the sign when I missed the 270 cut off around Columbus, Ohio.
I drove through the evening rush hour traffic on I-70 and on several occasions when I got into the wrong lane, people would see the sign and wave me back into the right lane.
I  tried to maintain a 65 mile per hour pace and as I cruised down the interstate where  most traffic was moving at 70 MPH or more, people in passing cars would read the sign and give me a thumbs up, wave, or in many cases slow down long enough to shoot a picture with their cell phone camera. The sign must certainly have been the most photographed sign on the highway.
In Iowa a young father with three sons in his car whizzed up along side then slowed quickly and pulled in behind so they could take pictures. Pulling alongside they all smiled, waved and gave the thumbs up.
This became a familior sight as people young and old laughed, waved, smiled and gave the thumbs up salute.
The old drivers safety adage that you go where you are looking proved true on several occasions as people intent on reading the sign slowly drifted over the line in to my lane. In South Carolina a young lady was so intent on getting a good picture that I was forced to cross the rumble strip and on to the shoulder of the road. She was shocked and embaressed when she discovered what she had done, but a smile and a wave from me brought a similar response from her.
At gas stations, rest areas and food stops fellow travelers would go out of their way and take the time to say how good it was to see an older person doing something special like the Saddled Sore 1000-1 of the Iron Butt Association. What would seem a joke at first took on a more serious note when I explained that the Iron Butt Association was an organization that promoted safe long distance motorcycle touring.
It began to dawn on me that age, race, ethnicity and belief didn't matter.
Americans really do love, honor and respect older people and show those feelings in many ways.
Since leaving Helena, Montana on September 27th, I have traveled 3,667  miles across the United States. Through the evening rush hour traffic in Columbus, Ohio to the Monday morning rush hour traffic around Washington DC, people were kind and courteous.
What a great experience.
Through Montana, Idaho, North and South Dakota, Washington state,  Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida people have been fantastic .
Thank You America for your scenic beauty and for your multitudes of great people.
People who wave, smile and support an 80  year old man on a motorcycle on his quest to ride across the country.
From bikers to truck drivers American travelers have expressed their support for this ride in  many ways.
The word I have heard the most at truck stops and rest areas is "Inspiration."
As if to say other older citizens might be prompted to live out their dreams and take another look at the proverbial Bucket List.
The most frequent question I have received is, "Are you really traveling all by yourself.
I got the feeling the deeper question they were asking was: "You mean your kids are letting you do this on your own?"
I know this has not been easy for kids and grand kids, but frequent updates on the Face Book group Where In The World Is Grandpa kept them up to date on the latest travels.
Another question heard frequently was, "Don't you have a radio to keep from getting bored?"
My response is always the same, "As I travel I have a lifetime of memories which I can play back at will with  no need for a navigation screen, Sirius XM, Bluetooth or GPS.
The memories are as bright and real today as when they were lived all of those years ago.
3,667 miles so far and thousands more coming up as I look West from Lake Mary Florida to Houston, Texas, Denver, Colorado and San Jose, California.
Watch for me in your area.
I'll be in the Right Lane America.
Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WOW! That Was Some Kind Of Storm

It was a great feeling, climbing on the Yamaha and looking back to see my new Mini Mate Tent Trailer following up the street.
It hadn't taken Dale Coyner long to hook up the trailer hitch and lighting harness.
As I was getting ready to leave Dale handed me a signed copy of his book Motorcycle Journeys Through North America .
Thanks Dale, it will be well used.
Using the GPS coordinates Dale gave me Verizon Navigator took me to Front Royal, Virginia and on to the Skyline Drive.
Skyline Drive winds through The Shenandoah National Park and ends at the beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I stopped at Mathews Arm Camping Site and used my National Park Golden Passport to save 50% on the $15.00 camping fee. The Golden Passport had been a purchase Lois and I made many years ago for future National Park and Historic site use. It has paid for itself over and over again through the years.
It was just beginning to rain as I tried following the directions for setting up the Mini Mate Tent. It was easy and took only slightly longer that the two minutes I had previewed on-line.
It was only 5:30pm, but already getting dark as the storm clouds moved in.
By 6:3opm, the wind was howling and it continue unabated until near dawn.
The rain fell very hard and the wind seemed to roll over the camp in waves. Slacking off for a few minutes and then coming back with renewed fury. The storm which had rolled through Maine dropping trees and power lines, now, in the mountains, lashed out at a novice camper, while he wondered if his newly purchased Mini Mate was up the  challenge.
It Was!
Although the tent sides billowed inward slightly, the trailer itself didn't budge.
The legs held it firmly in place.
Opening the tent flaps at dawn showed the rain and wind were gone.
Now only a cold breeze brought a chill to the morning and breaking down the camp site was a short job, completed with sweater, coat, hat and gloves on.
The day warmed quickly and by early afternoon I had reached the end of Skyline Drive.
I looked at the map of the Blue Ridge Parkway and wondered if I was up for two hundred more miles of the twisting and turning roadway.
My arms and shoulders were definitely showing the effects of driving a sidecar rig through the rugged country. It was not the same as riding a two wheeler through the twisties.
As I was debating whether to head for I-95 and Florida, a text from Diana set my course.
She told of an air show at Daytona Beach this weekend and how we could camp on the beach.
Sure sounded better than another cold night in the mountains.
I turned on to I-64 and headed for I-95 and Florida.
The Mini Mate, the all night wind and rain storm, and the Skyline Drive made for a great adventure.
This trailer followed smoothly with little or no effect on the Yamaha.
From 35 MPH to 75 MPH it was flawless.
Great ride today and should be a great ride tomorrow.
If you're riding I-95 tomorrow, look for me.
I'll be in the Right Lane America.
See you there
Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Meet the Mini Mate!

Stopped by the cycle shop where they replaced a nut and bolt which vibrated off on the ride. Probably laying in a corn field in Illinois. 

Then it was off to the Mini Mate Shop, hoping to be on the way South by noon. Jason and I set the tent camper up for practice. It worked great. Should be easy to pull and easy to set up. 

Looking forward to getting out on the road with it. The trip has been fantastic so far. Some rain and wind but mostly good. 
(Here are a couple videos that show how easy it is to set up.)

Ready for the Skyline Trail which connects to with the Blue Ridge Parkway. Camping tonight!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Blow Out! Forty Miles From Town And The Rear Tire Blew

It was all going so well.
I completed the Saddle Sore 1,000-1, and made the run through North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and into Maryland.
Less then 100 miles from the home of Grandson Jason and Allison Darelius.
Cruising up I-68 at 65 MPH when I heard a loud bang, followed by a loud whistling sound.
The rear tire had blown out.
The Yamaha didn't wobble, shake or swerve.
It stayed as solid as a rock.
A tribute to the great job  Sidecar Bill Ryder did in setting it up.
I quickly moved to the edge of this very busy freeway and pulled as far off onto the shoulder as I could.
I  have Triple A Premium which covers motorcycle and RV tows, thanks to my son Roger telling me about it.
I got the Triple A card out, but before I could make the call, a sharp looking Harley Sportster pulled over and it's rider sporting a beard, leather jacket and denim vest covered with patches from Biker get-togethers around the country got off and asked if I needed help.
"Blew the rear tire" I said.
Without waiting Sportster guy, Dave Brode said " that's not good let me make a couple of calls."
With a couple of  calls he had located a tire at Twigg Cycles in Hagerstown, some forty  miles away.
I got the Triple A card out and tried to call for a tow truck.
With all of the trucks roaring past I couldn't hear well enough to get a truck.
Just then one of Daves friends pulled up in his SUV.
Seeing that I was having trouble with my call he told me to get in his car, away from the highway noise.
Sadly I neglected to get his name so I could thank him in this report.
Triple A did a great job in getting the information and lining up a towing service to haul me the forty miles in to town.
They said it would be about an hour to get a truck out to pick me up.
Much to my surprise, in less that five minutes I received a call from Scott Carbough owner/operator of Jaz's Towing and Recovery service of Hancock, Maryland.
He wanted to confirm the location I was at.
I told him I was on I-68 East near Exit number 68.
Dave had pinpointed the location for me when he first arrived on he scene.
To my surprise Scott said he was already at Exit 68  but in the West bound lane.
When he received the call from Triple A, he had been on the way to a relatives house to check on some needed repairs on his truck.
His Uncle lived close to the spot where I was stranded.
Instead of an hour long wait for the truck, he was there in a matter of minutes.
In a short time he had my rig loaded on to his truck and 45 minutes later he was backing up to the loading dock at Twigg Cycles in Hagerstown, the largest motorcycle shop in the area.
Service Advisor Andy Horowitz quickly had the bike moved into the shop and the crew went to work.
As Harley Sportster Dave put it, " I think God was working overtime to get you taken care of today, if your tire had blown a half mile further down the road you would have had no cell phone service, it's a dead space for cell phones."
 Yeah, I think he got it right.
On this day, all the good came together for me.
Life is good.
I had a great ride today and a very interesting afternoon.
Met new friends and have another good story to share at side car rallies and other get togethers.
I'm looking forward to meeting many more good folks like the ones I met today.
I'll be coming your way, look for me.
I'll be in the Right Lane America
Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Herbert Hoover Presidential Library

Arrived at 11am West Branch, Iowa. Rain all the way from Des Moines. Visited the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and headed for Davenport and I 74.

Finally rode out of the rain. 2:15pm, Galesburg, Il. I'll get a motel here and dry off. 

Great ride today. The rain is no problem. Just makes it interesting.