Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Homeward Bound - Accident!

The Grand Adventure continues as I head for home.
Day three of the ride from Florida found me traveling north through Louisiana to reach the starting point of the famous Natchez Trace.
Ever since I read about it in Dale Coyner's book on the best rides in North America
 I had looked forward to doing at least a portion of the Trace.
Time and weather prevented me from riding the entire 499 mile trail, but I did get to go from Natchez to Jackson, Mississippi.
The trip through Louisiana was uneventful and only short periods of rain were encountered.
The Natchez Trace is a National Park and I was surprised when the Park Ranger at the headquarters office said she had spent several years in Helena, Montana at the Lewis and Clark National Forest.
Small world indeed.
The Trace was beautiful.
Springtime in Southern Mississippi with everything turning green and fields of standing water because of the January and February rains.
Stopped at The Waffle House in Jackson for a late breakfast and was surprised when a guy sitting at the counter said he was from Miles City.
We had to talk for a moment about the annual Bucking Horse Sale for which Miles City is famous.
I missed his name, as I have so many on this trip.
Maybe there is something to this loss of memory stuff.
Day 4 of the trip home ended in Grenada Mississippi at the Frog Hollow Campgrounds.
The owner said it had rained five inches the past week, and left the campground roads very muddy.
So muddy in fact, that I got stuck on my way into my camping spot and two of the staff had to push me through the muck to the gravel pad where I parked for the night.
I suppose I shouldn't have revved the engine as they were pushing me through.
They sure got a blast of mud from that rear wheel.
They were kind and said it was okay.
I had an interesting experience as I wound my way around St. Louis on I-270 and I-64.
Four lanes of traffic on the westbound highway packed with the mid day rush.
Although I try and drive 65 on the Interstate, when going through the larger cities I have discovered that if everyone else is driving 70 then I better be driving 70 as well.
And that's what I was doing when the kid in lane one hit the construction barrel barricade.
Three barrels of sand seemed to explode and it sprayed high in the air.
He slammed on his brake and skidded sideways clear across all four lanes.
I was in lane three and hit the brakes hard as he skidded in front of me.
The bike and sidecar did a slide out skidding sideways as the Mini Mate trailer jacknifed behind me.
As we were about to make contact the car which had been in lane two slid over to lane three and T-Boned the kids car pushing it away from me and it ended up some 15 or 20 feet ahead of me in the middle of the road.
A young guy driving a pick up truck was in lane four and when I skidded into his lane he braked hard and somehow was able to stop four or five feet back without hitting me.
He jumped out of his truck and ran to me calling out, "Are you okay, Are you okay"
I assured him I was fine and he said, "The sign says you're 80 years old, but I don't care how old you are, that was one hell of a piece of riding you just did. When you began to jacknife I thought you were a goner."

Well, it was an interesting little adventure and one I hope to avoid in all future rides.
My THANKS to Bill Ryder of Helena who did such a suburb job in setting up the sidecar to enable it to take even this kind of abuse.
With cars and trucks backed up for several miles on the busy four lane highway, police arrived and were trying to get traffic moving.
I was blocking lane four so I was the first one out and was soon back on the highway again, but with no traffic in front of me and very little behind me. The ride was now peaceful and quiet.

Severe weather is forecast to move through South East Missouri tonight with thunderstorms and large hail forecast.
I opted for a motel instead of a campground and as I write the rain has begun in earnest.
I hope the cover stays on the bike through the storm.
I will be doing some flower sniffing along the way for the next couple of days and will visit Grandkids in Denver this weekend and should be back home in Helena by mid week.

Dave Dudley in his old country truck driving song sang, "Six Days On The Road And I'm Gonna Make It Home Tonight."
After six months on the road and with the odometer showing just over 15,000 miles traveled I am ready to be back home in Montana next week.

Watch for me, I'll be in the Right Lane America

Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Heading Home, Day Two or "Mooned Over Mississippi"

Yesterdays rain was still hanging in there this morning so my 9 AM start was in a light rain.
Light for the first 20 miles.
It then turned into a heavy downpour.
Heavy enough that the "Rest Area 1 mile" sign looked very welcome.
Soaked through despite having all of my rain gear on and with even my "waterproof" boots soaked I walked quickly toward the open area of the  building.
Seeing another wet biker I said, "Well this wasn't what we wanted to start the day."
Introducing myself I asked about the two very wet Harleys in the parking area.
He said his name was Keith Johnson from Capetown, South Africa.
He and his wife, Corrina, had flown to Miami, rented the bikes and set off on a cross country ride to California and would turn the bikes in at the Los Angeles rental office.
Mean while they were drying off and getting ready for their ride to New Orleans.
He then took me back to the vending machine area where Corrina had maps spread out so they could check out their travels.
I asked if they had done an Iron Butt ride, which they had not, so I told them to check out and see what they could do to join the many South African IBA members.
I told them about the Natchez Trace which they could ride after touring New Orleans.
Keith said he was a cabinet maker and they didn't get to ride as often as they would like and were really enjoying their five week vacation in the states.
The rain was letting up a bit and we three headed for our bikes.
It was a great visit with some really nice visitors from the south of Africa.
As I crossed the Alabama state line the sun came out and and I was heading into another great ride.
This was a beautiful area to ride through, a great area, still wet from the rains.

Seeking a good WiFi spot where I could upload my position on the FaceBook page, Where In The World Is Grandpa, and thrill the kids with stories about the great people I was meeting, I pulled into a Wendy's Restaurant.
While updating the web page and enjoying a chicken sandwich I saw a group of four bikers arrive.
One couple from Germany and the other from Switzerland.
Again, this group had rented bikes in Miami and would return them in LA after enjoying a ride across the US.

Unfortunately, I tried to use the audio note function on the Iphone6 and don't have their names.
Darned Iphone, or is it just me?
Nice folks and fun to visit with.
Their two week visit will take them coast to coast.
A good ride.

I have had a lot of fun with the sign on the back of my bike.
The sign reads, "80 year old Iron Butt Challenge Rider - One Thousand Miles In 24 Hours.."
Hundreds of people pass me and give me a "Thumbs UP" as they go by.
Always with a big smile and a wave.
 I have fun waving back and with a toot of the horn and big smile let them know I saw their salute.

Today's experience was a little different, as I rode through Mississippi.
It happened like this:
A pick up truck with Alabama plates pulled up beside me, then slowed down and dropped back to get a picture of the sign. They then completed their pass with big grins and a wave out the window.

Behind them a large black SUV did the same thing, although with a new twist I haven't seen before.
The lady passenger didn't have an Iron Butt, she had a very large Fat Butt.
Which she proved to me as she pulled down her pants and waved it up and down as they sped by.
Although a little shocked by this "full window" display, I did manage a couple of toots on the horn and a friendly wave.
She poked her hand out and returned the wave, while the driver almost left the road, apparently in near hysterics at her actions.
I couldn't hear his laughter, but I could see him slapping the steering wheel and poking his partner.
They both seemed to have really enjoyed the moment.
I guess when people see other people having a little fun, they just naturally want to join in, even when they don't join in a more traditional manner.
Isn't there a song about this type of thing?
"Mooned Over Mississippi" is the one that comes to mind.

What a great ride today, and tomorrow, the long awaited ride on the Natchez Trace.

Watch for me, I'll be in the Right Lane America

Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Heading Home To Montana, But First ... DENVER!

After enjoying a few more days with Ilidio, before he left for London, I started packing for the trip home. Where did all this stuff come from?
There seems to be much more than when I started this Grand Adventure Sept. 27, 2014.
I got it all packed, some in the sidecar, the rest in the trailer.
Diana prepared a gourmet seafood snack and spaghetti and meatballs dinner for our last night. It was great. We sat on the lanai, listened to the birds, looked at the Orchid tree and enjoyed the peace and quiet.
Saturday morning, March 21, the first day of spring and the first leg of my four thousand mile ride home.
Looks like there could be some rain over toward Alabama so I decided to try and get some miles in and possibly miss the moisture.
Not an Iron Butt ride, but close to it.
Ended the day with 426 miles, plus the extra 40 miles I logged trying to help a stranded biker.
I saw him laying by his bike and looking at something.
I pulled over and said, "looks like you have a problem. Out of gas?"
Young Guy, "No, I have gas, but it starts and runs a short distance and then quits."
I told him I could help if he needed gas, but beyond that I couldn't help.
Ten miles down the road it suddenly dawned on me that I did have an idea that could help and turned around at the next exit and rode the 15 miles back to the last previous exit and found him again.
"Bad Gas," I said, "I had this once when my bike would start and stop like yours."
Both Bill Ryder in Helena and my son-in-law Ilidio had told me to add some fuel stabilizer to the gas tank to prevent this from happening.
Yesterday as I was picking up some last minute camping things I had stopped at Advance Auto supply and picked up a can of Sea Foam additive, which the clerk assured me was the best they had.
I hope it worked for him, I didn't stick around to find out, after all, I was still trying to beat the  coming rain.
This extra forty miles running back and forth to try and help had slowed me down.
Of  course, if I had thought about it the first time I stopped I could have saved those extra miles, and how many times have I been helped by someone along the road.
Well, we'll see what new adventures tomorrow brings.
This first day could only be described as a great ride.
Many, many people passing me along the way waved, smiled and gave the "thumbs up" sign.
They smile at my little sign, and I get to smile back.
We don't seem so much like strangers after that.
This is such a great country.

Watch for me, I'll be in the Right Lane America.

Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ray King's Bike Week RTE for Iron Butt Members at Flagler's Beach, Florida

THANKS RAY and all others involved in putting together the Bike Week gathering at Martin's Restaurant in Flagler Beach,m Florida on March 13th. 
The crowd gathered early for some tire kicking and war stories about the long rides, the rallies and the good times.
AA wide variety of machines rode into the parking lot, many were tricked out with the latest electronics, fuel supplies and Farkels.
This video is a short look at some of the hundred or so riders who attended.
I couldn't resist taking a short video out of the second floor restaurant window to show the bike traffic on A1A, the south shore drive.
Every kind of bike and riding outfit was on display.

 IBA member standing by my rig.
Had everyone pictured, record their names on the Iphone 6 Audio notes. Well, that didn't work, I guess I need more training. I'll get the names later when I figure out how it works. I do have the pictures and you know who you are. THANKS for helping. It was a fantastic day.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Victor, The Buffalo Soldier and Ilidio, The Black Man From Africa

The rear tire is completely bald.
The Metzler 880 rear tire I had Seminole Power Sports install 6 weeks ago as I was leaving for California was treadless after the 7,343 mile ride to the Pacific and back.
Now as I plan the 4,000 mile ride back to Montana they are ready to install the new Metzler 888 or the Triple Eight as other bikers have called it.
Ultra high mileage the ads on-line say.
We'll find out.
As always when the Power Sports guys are doing their thing on the Yamaha, I stroll through the hundreds of machines on display inside and out of their building.
And as always, I meet other bikers.
Other bikers with stories.
Today is no different as I approach the big black man standing by his Harley.
Extending his hand he says, "Victor, Buffalo Soldier."
That last part with obvious pride.
 I hand him a Right Lane America card with my BLOG address on it and reply, "Del, the old guy who rides with a sidecar."
He laughed as he looked at the 80 Year Old Biker sign on the back of my rig.
He then dug through his wallet and pulled out a card showing Victor "Raw" Burns was indeed a member of the Orlando Chapter of Buffalo Soldiers MC, a national organization of black bikers.

The Buffalo Soldiers have a rich history in the US Military
As we chatted a younger black man sat on his Harley, giving it an occasional rev.
Great pipes, it really rumbled.
I turned to him and said, "Nice Ride."
No response, he just looked straight ahead and wouldn't look at me.
Victor said, "if you are ever in this area again give me a call and I'll buy lunch. Be Safe."
With that the two roared away.
I turned toward a young white biker and said, "Those were great sounding pipes."
He looked at me for a long moment, then turned his back and walked away.
The disgust in his eyes and on his face was obvious.
I thought to myself, "I have just been snubbed by a black biker and a white biker."
Well, I sat down on a new Can Am Spyder and thought about it.
Victor, the Buffalo Soldier, like Ilidio, my black son-in-law from Africa, could look past the barbs, the insults, the indignities of the bigots of the USA, and could see the real America. A good America. The good land I have ridden 20,000 miles through in the past 12 months.
The young black biker and the young white biker couldn't see past the hurt, the hate, the anger that made them what they were.
Ilidio, the gregarious, fun loving African who became my son-in-law so many years ago, and Victor, the Buffalo Soldier who rode his bike from coast to coast and all the way to Alaska were able to look past the hurts and enjoy a good life in a good land.
Is there a solution to the bigotry and racism in the world?
Probably so, but I do believe the only man who was wise enough to solve it was killed over two thousand years ago by the zealots of his day.
Does this generation have a man or woman wise enough to solve these issues?
Probably so, and we can only hope they have not already been killed by the bullets or by the words of the zealots of today.

Well, the Metzler Triple Eight is on and I am ready to ride.
More places to see, more new friends to meet and more stories to share.

Watch for me, I'll be in the Right Lane America

Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Saturday, March 7, 2015

TEXAS! Heading for Houston & Lake Mary, Florida C 2 C 2 C

Tucson/Benson, Arizona behind me now and I'm heading for Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Windy ride.
Winds running 25 to 35 MPH and gusting even higher, I'm really getting bounced around.
Big rigs sailing by me bring more wind gusting.
What a ride.
I pulled off the road early at Deming, NM and called it a day.
Didn't even try to set up the tent camper, and pulled in to a Days Inn instead.
The motel room was big and most important, out of the wind.
Should be a better ride tomorrow.
And indeed it was.
The wind had turned and I was riding in the cradle.
A great tail wind behind me and the machine was running swift and easy.
I made a quick stop at the Lordsburg, New Mexico McDonald's for coffee and to use the great McD's WiFi.
I keep trying to update the kids Facebook Group, "Where In The World Is Grandpa" as often as possible and McD's is the quickest place to do that.
Not this time though.
The big guy with a full set of leathers looked over from another table and said, "Mind if I join you?"
He brought his coffee over and asked about my ride.
"I parked next to your rig out there, and that is quite a set up."
I asked about his ride.
"DR 650," he  said.
Now I knew there would be a story here.
The DR 650 Suzuki is not only a great street bike, it handles the off road runs too.
"I'm on my way home to BC after riding all the way to the southern tip of Argentina."
At that point a young rider sitting at another table said, "Did you say DR 650? That's what I'm riding too."
WOW! I could see another story coming on.
I said "Where has your ride taken you?"
He said, "I made it as far as Costa Rica, but money started running out so I'm on my way home to BC too."
Here were two kindred spirits, running their own ride, but meeting at a McDonald's Restaurant in the middle of New Mexico.
Bob Weeks was the tall guy with gray hair and beard.
Tom Trautmansdorf was the younger man with black hair and beard.

They had fulfilled whatever dream it was that took them from Canada through the USA and deep into South America.
What fantastic stories they would have for their children and grand children.
As we talked other customers seemed to gravitate into the section we were sitting at and seemed to move even closer to hear the biker stories that were being shared by three strangers in the middle of New Mexico.
I finally had to say, "Guys I have really enjoyed meeting you and hearing your stories, but I have to move on, the family Houston is expecting me."
But I knew I would never forget my chance meeting with Bob Weeks and Tom Trautmansdorf. Great guys and they had both made a gutsy ride through some rough country that most of us would never dare to make.
I knew I would be stopping off in Kerrville and Fort Stockton before seeing the smiling faces of Joni, Gary, Stan Smith and the others in Houston so I needed to get back on the road.
West Texas Hill Country, they call it.
It's a long way between towns in West Texas.
Lots of miles, rolling tree covered hills to see and interesting people to visit with.
This was a long ride day.
360 miles across New Mexico and into Texas with a tail wind lending strength to my machine.

Rode into Kerrville at 4:30 but another chance meeting with a couple of interesting bikers held me up.Howard Wong and Brian Rudy were Vancouver British Columbia attorneys who had planned ahead for a great ride through the southern USA.
Six months earlier when all was warm and sunny, they had ridden their Harley Davidson machines to San Luis Obispo in southern California and put them in storage..
Now as the cold of winter held sway over their homeland, they took a plane ride to California, picked up their bikes and began a ride which would take them to San Antonio, Austin and other Texas cities and would lead them to Daytona for the big Bike Week gathering in March.

What were the odds that I would meet four people from British Columbia in the wilds of New Mexico and that they would each have their own dream and their own ideas about what constituted a great ride through this fantastic land we call America.

Fort  Stockton was a Texas city I had stayed in when I was heading west and now on the eastern run I was there again.
Yesterdays tail winds had changed in to South East head winds with some heavy rain.
Arriving sat Fort Stockton I was soaked through. Even my waterproof boots were soaked and I could wring water out of my socks as I held cold feet in front of the portable electric heater I carried in the rig.
Stepping out the motel room door I met another biker headed for Daytona Beach and Bike Week.
Guido was from Switzerland and had borrowed a US friends Yamaha for a ride through the south.
Wearing his Frog Togs wet suit he had managed to avoid some of the weather but not all. He was also in the process of drying out wet clothes.
Guido was full of praise for the people he had met and the country he had seen on his sojourn through the US and was looking forward to meeting a lot of interesting bikers at Bike Week.
As we visited a man who identified himself as Fuzzy, stepped out of his room and began checking over his truck.
He was an artist and was headed to Bike Week to set up his portable paint booth and to send some bikers home with decorations they didn't expect to have when they rode in.
He also sold paintings he had prepared before leaving his Texas home.

The remainder of the trip into Houston was uneventful and a good smooth ride.
SIRI helped me find my way through the suburbs to Richmond where my brother-in-law Stan Smith  was ready to offer me a dry and less windy place to stay then the one I had been used to these past  weeks on the road.
 We had a great time at dinner the next night with my daughter Joni, her husband Gary and daughter Jerusha, as well as Stan's daughter Shelli, her husband John and son Johnny.
That was a fun evening with many stories to share.
I decided to begin the final leg of my trip from Houston to Lake Mary, Florida a day early.
Always fearful of the Houston morning rush hour traffic I took my leave in the rain and fog on a Sunday morning.
The Sam Houston Tollway was one wet, foggy place to be at 8am on a Sunday morning.
I had carefully stowed a twenty dollar bill in the side pocket of my rain gear, preparing for the tolls to come.
Stopping at the first "pay with change" toll booth I pulled a wet, soggy bill from the rain coat pocket.
"I was trying to keep it dry for you," I  called in to the lady who looked somewhat amused at the sight of a dripping biker.
She deducted the toll and wrapped the change in a couple of paper towels to try and keep it dry for the next one.
It did seem to help as I handed the next toll collector a crumpled up wad of paper towels with some not nearly as soggy bills sticking out.
Each toll collector found wetter and wetter paper money, but eventually I had paid the last one and was back on I-10 Eastbound and headed for what I hoped would be warmer climes.
The rain and fog stayed with me until I reached the Louisiana border where the first rays of sunshine peaked through a leaden gray sky.
I was pretty wet, but sunshine helped and Slidell, LA came in to view in early afternoon and I pulled into a KOA to make camp.
What a great feeling to have the heater on and things drying out.

Leaving Slidell at 8am the next morning I prepared for a long day in the saddle.
368 miles to Tallahassee, Florida which would then be an easy 240 mile ride to Lake Mary.
I was making good time and pulled in to a Florida Welcome Center to take a break.

As I dismounted and began removing my helmet I was hailed by a couple who had passed me several miles back.
The Harley they were hauling on the trailer would be their ride when they checked in to their Daytona Bike Week motel.
 They were from Austin, Texas and were ready for a big week at Daytona.
Julie, who had seen the 80 Year Old Rider sign on the back of my bike said, "I can't believe you are 80 years old."
Bill said, "Hell man, my bikes on a trailer and I'm only 60 years old  and I still can't keep up with you."
Seems they had passed me a couple of times and each time they got ahead of me they would stop for a break and I would pull ahead of them.
We had a good visit and a couple of laughs and then it was time for me to get back on the road.
The ride south on I-95 was busy but uneventful.
Many bikers were on their way south, most of them trailering their ride or hauling them in the back of a truck. Not too many of them riding.
My strange looking rig with sidecar and tent trailer was the object of some bemused looks by more conventional bikers.
The biker community is a tight knit group and every time I have had a problem there has been someone there to help, and the two gallon gas can I carry on the back of the sidecar has filled gas tanks for others more often then it has filled mine.
SIRI brought me through the Orlando suburbs and to the driveway of my daughter Diana and her husband Ilidio was there in the driveway to greet me.
It was great to be off the road and relaxing by the pool.

 From C 2 C 2 C is the way the Iron Butt Association terms the ride from the Atlantic to the Pacific and back to the Atlantic.
This was the ride I had just completed.
What a Grand Adventure.

Watch for me, I'll be in the Right Lane America.

Del  "Lonnie" Lonnquist