Monday, July 13, 2015

Sunrise Festival in Sidney, MT and The Wind - How It Did Blow

All Photos by Linda Darelius

The invitation, when it came several weeks ago was from the Sidney, MT Chamber of Commerce and The MonDak Heritage Center.
I was invited to bring Lois' book, Fifty Cents An Hour - The Builders and Boomtowns of the Fort Peck Dam, to The Sunrise Festival Of The Arts: Writers Row on July 11th, and take part in an Author Showcase on July 10th.
It looked to me like a great excuse for a long ride across Montana.

Daughter Linda said, "That's a great idea, can I come too?"
She has been looking for an excuse to take a long ride in the sidecar and this could be a good one.

Plans were made, motel rooms booked, and nearly 200 books packed up in boxes to be carried to Sidney in the Mini Mate camper trailer.

I was already running 30 minutes late when I rode into Linda's driveway at 6AM on Friday morning.
Her gear was packed into the trailer and we were off on an adventure.
The planned alternate route through Boulder to Cardwell, to avoid construction on 287 between Townsend and Three Forks was abandoned after Roger had told us the night before that he had just driven back from Billings and the construction area had all been paved.
 He was right.
At this early hour on a Friday morning there was minimal construction delay and the road was all paved and a smooth ride for both bike and sidecar.

We knew this was going to be a long days ride of about 500 miles so we skipped the usual stop at Wheat Montana Deli in Three Forks and moved right out onto the Interstate.
It was a cool morning start but the heat build up started early and by mid-day all sweat shirts and sweaters had been removed and vents on the leather jackets fully opened.
There was little wind and the Honda seemed to want to run between 75 and 80.
It just seemed to sound best in that area.

The miles rolled by and after a quick lunch stop at Big Timber, in the Crazy Mountains, we were back on the highway.

By the time we made Glendive the heat had settled in and we were hot!
The cloud of billowing black smoke ahead of us and the screaming sirens of State Patrol cars sent us to the shoulder of the road and all traffic came to a stop.

 The smoke slowly dissipated and officers began moving vehicles through on one lane. That's when we saw the burned out wreckage of a car.
There hadn't been any ambulances so we assumed no injuries, but there was a car that wasn't going to be driven again.
As we passed emergency crews paused in their work to have a look at our rig.

 Or was it the sidecar passenger with her new white leather jacket they were eyeing?
They had a good look at us, smiled, waved us through and we were once again on our way.

The last 53 miles of two lane highway between Glendive and Sidney seemed to pass quickly and the MicroTel Motel parking lot looked very welcoming.

It was 4:00PM and the Author's Showcase began at 5:30PM.
After a quick shower we headed over to the MonDak Heritage Center where Lois' Mom and Grandmother had both worked as Docents.
We took a suitcase full of books in and set up our table.
Although they had asked me to bring Lois' book, I also brought copies of my books Discovering Life After Alzheimer's and Skinner At The International.
The first visitor purchased one of each and I knew this was going to be a great place to meet book readers, people who wanted to purchase books.
It was a great evening.

Saturday morning we rode to the Memorial Park location where the Arts Festival and Authors Row had been set up, complete with awning covers for each book seller.
Looked like a warm day and those awnings would be very welcome.

Other authors soon began arriving and setting up there tables.

Some we had met the night before and they said this was one of the best book venues they attended each year.

The MonDak Center purchased ten of Lois' books for their store.
 A Williston ND bookstore, Books on Broadway wanted 25 books, mostly the Fort Peck book but several of each of my books too.
The Sidney Chamber of Commerce and Kim from the MonDak Heritage Center did an outstanding job of creating this annual festival.

Hundreds of volunteers helped keep everything running smoothly and several thousand people visited the Sunshine Festival Of The Arts and Writers Row.

Good job folks and we will look forward to coming again next year.

By 10:30AM visitors, including some of Lois' relatives began arriving, including Doris Steppler and Jeannie LeLand.
How good to see them again.

They took us out for pizza at The Depot Saturday evening and we had a chance to visit with even more of our old friends and relatives.

All in all a great day on Author's Row and many opportunities to visit with people from North Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota.

We planned for an early start for home Sunday morning and were on the highway by 6:15AM.
There was little traffic and we cruised the two laner from Sidney to Glendive at 70 MPH.
Those who did pass us in cars or trucks gave the usual thumbs up, with a smile and a wave as they saw the 80 Year Old Biker sign on the back of our machine.
Although the speed limit was 65 and we were cruising at 70, the State Trooper who passed us waved and again gave a thumbs up.
A few miles down the road he had the blue lights on, but had stopped only to assist a motorist who appeared to be having engine problems.

By the time we pulled on to the Interstate at Glendive the wind was starting to pick up.
Fierce winds were blowing from the Northwest. We were running almost straight west.
We were getting bounced around pretty good. I had to keep it in fourth gear most of the time.

Both the sidecar and the Mini Mate were carrying extra weight and it showed when the wind slammed into the front of the machine.
The winds changed direction as we rode through the badlands.
Look at that sign post bend.
This was a great ride.

Despite the wind we made good time across the state with more frequent gas stops needed because of the wind. Mileage dropped from the usual 35 MPG to under 20.
Running in fourth gear kept us running at a slower speed but fifth gear on this machine needs to be running over 65 MPH to sound comfortable and we couldn't maintain that speed with this wind.

Carrying a spare gas can on the back of the sidecar has been helpful to many stranded, out-of-gas Bikers, but on this day, I was the one who couldn't make it to the next gas station.

The rig sputtered to a stop less than one mile from the Johnson Lane Exxon in Billings.
A McDonald's attached to the station gave us some WiFi so we could update the Where In The World Is Grandpa Facebook group and a small milkshake cooled us down a bit.
With gas tank and spare gas can filled we were once again on the highway and on our way home.

We moved quickly through Bozeman Pass with the wind dropping in some areas and swirling around from other directions as we passed the mountains.
The pass is always a great ride and this day gave us a little extra challenge.

The big rigs and fifth wheel RV units were catching the wind blast much worse than us and did some bouncing around of their own.

They probably weren't enjoying this wind as much as I was.

Monday morning TV reports showed a huge weather front had moved through the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota causing power line and tree problems across much of the state.

We must have been on the western edge of the front and although we were bounced around a little it was nothing like what the Minnesotans were getting.
 The sky was beautiful with an ever changing cloud cover.
  Ever notice how hard it is to concentrate on the road when the clouds are so beautiful?
 At the truck stop an old biker standing by the door looked up, smiled and said, "Well, any day on a motorcycle is a good one."

I loved the way he said Motorsickle instead of motorcycle. Old memories there.
Funny, I just don't feel like one of those "Old Timers," but I guess I am, and have to admit, I'm quite happy to be able to ride the Iron Butt rides, even though it may take a day or two to recover from the long ones and I can feel the arthritis creeping into my fingers on a long, cold, rainy ride.

Although we skipped the Wheat Montana Farms Deli on the eastward leg of our weekend ride, we weren't about to skip it on the way home.
By 3:30PM we were pulling into the parking area, a short distance away from that group with the shiny new Goldwings with the fancy Bunkhouse trailers. The Bunkhouse has a sleeping area like our Mini Mate, but also has a large living area tent that pulls out to one side.

On the bright side, our little Mini Mate sets up in two minutes flat.
You sleep three feet off the ground with a two minute set up time.
That's my kind of camping.

We each had one of those great Wheat Montana Farms sandwiches and felt much better about getting back on the machine for the final 60 mile run for home.

The odometer had read 499.9 as we pulled in to the motel parking lot in Sidney, and was hovering around the 1,000 mile mark as I pulled into Linda's driveway.

I'm not sure which one of us enjoyed the ride most, but the feeling of euphoria that comes with hours in the saddle on a long wide highway seemed to be equally divided between us.

We sold a lot of books and had a great one thousand mile ride.
Hard to beat a weekend like that.

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

Be Fantastic

Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

RTE in Boulder - Nice Ride - Good Eats

Bikers call it an RTE.
Ride To Eat.

Now just what could be better than that.
The notice is posted on a Social Media that everyone is invited to an RTE.
Date and place are posted and bikers make their plans.

RTE, it's a Biker thing, you none riders wouldn't understand.

 First you ride, alone or in groups to the designated city and restaurant.
Next you stand around and kick tires and swap stories.
Then you eat, share more stories and ... Ride again.

And that's the way this months meeting of the Last Chance Riders Motorcycle Club went.

The announcement came several weeks ago, with occasional reminders on FaceBook.

Riders gathered in the Perkins Restaurant parking lot at 6:00PM on a Tuesday evening and lined up for the 25 mile ride south to Boulder.
The Cozy Restaurant staff had kept the eating establishment open hours past regular closing time to accommodate this influx of bikers. Thanks Cozy Restaurant people!

Over twenty motorcycles lined the street and riders gathered in small groups to visit and share stories.

Great dining spot.
Service was excellent and food prepared quickly and tastefully.
The visiting around the long table was interesting and informative.
A meeting was held.
Plans were made for the Bikers rally and other coming events.

Than, back to the street and the bikes.
One by one riders, with pipes rumbling, moved out and headed for home.
Another great ride over Boulder Hill and through some beautiful Montana countryside and home.

Ride To Eat
This is one Biker tradition that should last as long as there are bikers who ride and machines that beg to be ridden.

Whether it's an Iron Butt Association RTE in Flagler Beach, Florida, a call to a Saturday noon gathering at Liam Fitzgerald's Irish restaurant in Lake Mary, Florida, a Tuesday night LCRMC gathering in Boulder, Montana or a gathering of the Chosen Few Motorcycle Club in San Diego, California RTE means the same thing.
A good ride, some good food, some tire kicking and some story sharing.

The menu may differ from state to state, the accents of those attending may be slightly different, but when all is said and done, it's all the same.

Ride - Eat - Ride some more.

I have no idea who originated the idea of an RTE, but my hats off to them for creating an endearing and long lasting tradition for bikers everywhere.

Like to visit with people who have something in common?
Put a note on Facebook that you will be at a certain restaurant in a certain city at a certain time and see how many like minded people pop up and say, "ME TOO!"

See you at the next RTE.

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

Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Friday, July 3, 2015

United Sidecar Association Annual Rally in Sturgis, SD

The United Sidecar Association Annual Rally is always a good place to find friends, old and new, with whom you can spend a few days kicking tires and sharing stories.
This years rally in Sturgis, SD was no exception.
It was blessed with great weather, blessed by members of the Christian Motorcyclist Association, and it was also blessed by The Short Family, all 16 of them, under the guidance of Will Short.
This family gathered around the patriarch and helped him make this rally, what many called, the best rally yet with a large turnout of Sidecarists from the US and Canada.
How good it was to see young children riding with parents and grand parents on the many rides through Mount Rushmore Memorial Country.

Rally attendees easily discussed their rigs and the hundreds of others gathered in the parking lot of the Elk Grove Campgrounds.
Over 200 sidecars were on display.

One looked like a car.

      One looked like a Shark Tank

Each person got two paper clips and each motorcycle had a cup.
Put your paperclip in the cup to vote for that rig as the Best of Show.

  The Best of Show winner, as chosen by attendees at the rally, carried a dog.

Bentley, the dog, when on the move seemed to really enjoy the ride.
Sandy Freiberg was the owner of the Best of Show rig and you can learn more by visiting
"SidecarBentley"  on Facebook.

Sidecar Bentley Cheerleader Debra Holliway, a Denver Realtor was not only a great cheerleader for Bentley but a purveyor of a great Rib Eye Steak which this writer enjoyed immensely.
Thanks Debra. I am looking forward to seeing you, Bentley and Sandy at another rally, maybe the 2016 rally in Grand Junction, CO or sooner.
And remember, you are welcome to ride in my sidecar at any rally, with or without those famous, and very tasty Rib Eye steaks.
                                                                 Bentley the dog even had his own umbrella

Jon H. Daub of Cypress Texas had just completed the Iron Butt Association 48-10, visiting all 48 contiguous states in ten days.
It's called Speed Stating, and you can visit a lot of states in a short time.

His map was a work of art.

The Texas flag was the final flag decal to be placed on the map. A great way to show off the states and explain what he had just done.
Visit his BLOG, to learn more about the 48 state ride and about the Iron Butt Association.

On his card Jon puts it this way:
Experiencing the wind,
ridden from within,
floating fast and free.

They called it a Knucklehead Harley.
It was the oldest bike on the lot.
A 1940 Harley Davidson with a 1947 engine.

It was a one kick start too. Nice ride.

With the Independence Day weekend approaching the riders displayed their patriotic pride and their military affiliation, reminding us that the Fourth of July is more than Camp Outs, Cook Outs and Fund Raising opportunities,
       One rider just may have been a Marine from the looks of the display! 
Veterans of all other branches were well represented.
This was the back of a riders jacket.

 The Black Hills Bluegrass Festival provided entertainment. 

Met many interesting people including Professor Daniel Dolan, the founder of the CAMP program at the South Dakota School of Mining and Technology. They have student teams working on solar cars, unmanned flight vehicles, and even a Gamer Development Team which takes part in International competitions on Esports and on-line war games. The games move so fast they have been dubbed, a game of chess on steroids. They had even heard of our Grandson Erik who is a Cyber Castor broadcasting Esports in Korea and around the world. Congratulations to Professor Dolan and his team for helping these young people leap frog ahead of students in many schools around the world through their creative and imaginative studies at SDSMT.
From all over the United States and Canada, 
riders displayed their license plates and their pride in the home state.



Another United Sidecar Association Rally has come to a successful conclusion and all agreed it was one of the best ever.
Good turnout of Sidecarists, fantastic scenery, beautiful weather and friendly folks.
This is what riding a sidecar is all about.
A big Thank You to Will Short and that 16 member family of kids, grands, nieces, and nephews.
What a bunch.

I traveled on from Sturgis to visit with Pastor Al and Pam.
Laura and Lydia were there too. Someone called them the Giggle Sisters.
I wonder who could have done that.
Then off to Minneapolis to visit with twin brother Dean and his wife Bev, as well as little sister Vivian and her husband Dave.

I got to visit with Nephew Darren and see the re-build project he has going on his old Harley.
It looked a lot like a street rod you would see in an old James Dean movie.
It's a going machine. (or will be when it's done.)

I had decided to do another Iron Butt Association ride from Minneapolis to Helena, Montana as a quick ride home. The Saddle Sore 1000-1 ride takes you one thousand or more miles in twenty four hours or less.
I started the ride at 10PM CDT Tuesday evening and arrived in Helena 19 hours and 56 minutes later.
It began with a seven hour night ride and as it turned out, five of those hours were in a light to heavy rain. I finally ran out of the rain at Dickinson, ND.
From there on it was sunshine and wide roads all the way home.
The 95 degree temperature across Montana did make for some warm weather riding, but, as you all know, any ride is a good ride.
All the same, it felt mighty good to make that last gas stop at Montana City, get the time and date stamped gas pump receipt and pull into the driveway at home.

Thanks everybody, for all you did to give this 80 year old biker another memorable biker experience.

May your ride be long and may all your roads be wide.

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

Be Fantastic

Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist