Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Winter Ride Begins - Do I Know The Way To San Jose?

It's 7AM and I'm packing, planning and cleaning house, ready for a Midnight departure from Shellie's Truck Stop Cafe in Helena, Montana for a thousand mile ride to San Jose.
After watching Jentry, Quay and Greg Painter WRAP the sidecar and the Mini Mate Camping Trailer this week I am Ready to Ride. The sidecar and trailer will certainly be the most colorful on the highway as I embark on my 5,000 mile ride through the West and the South.
 I talked Jentry into taking a seat on the Honda for a quick picture. A true artist when it comes to putting a vinyl wrap on truck, car or even a motorcycle sidecar. The Wrap on the trailer makes it a rolling billboard which I hope will help me meet more people on the journey and also lead to more sales on the book Discovering Life After Alzheimer's.
Book sales should help fund the winter ride through the sunny (hopefully) south lands.
Greg did the Drone Camera photography and produced some great pictures for Face book and this BLOG.

Helena's Metal Horse Artist and sidecar expert Bill Ryder has offered to be my Start Witness for the SS1000 Ride and some of the kids will be on hand at Midnight to get me started.
The ride begins with the 1,100 mile ride from Helena to San Jose, CA.
After a few days with Janis and her family I will do a Flower Sniffing ride to San Diego where Iron Butt Rider and Chosen Few Member, Shareef AsSadiq has offered shelter for the night and will then lead me to the beach, sign my Start Ride Witness form and get me started on my personal quest to ride the famous Iron Butt Association 50cc Quest.
Coast to Coast in 50 hours.
Sounds like a great ride and one I am looking forward too.
After an 8AM start I will have a fascinating ride across California, New Mexico, past Las Cruces, through El Paso and into the West Texas wild country. San Antonio and Houston will provide some Metro riding and there should be lots of great countryside to ride through in Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and finally Florida.
If the ride is successful I could become the oldest rider to appear on the IBA 50cc Finisher's List, which shows all the riders who have finished the Coast to Coast run.
Vernon Rank of Yakima WA is currently the oldest at age 77. He did a great 50cc ride in 2003.

Following the fifty hour ride across the United States I will meet Diana and Ilidio in Jacksonville, have a nice quiet Flower Sniffing ride down I-95 to Lake Mary, FL and then comes my favorite rest area, The Sacramento Lanai!
Sitting in this beautiful screened in area I will once again enjoy a hot cup of morning coffee while listening to the serenade of a million birds in the tree covered back yard.
There will be a Birthday party for Ilidio's friend Jack, an October RTE with Ray King and his group as well as a November IBA ride across Florida ending at Flagler's Beach.
Good rides, good people and good fun. 

Thanks to Ian and Ashley, Grace now has a smart phone.
Talking and Texting will keep me in the loop on North Country happenings.
I have packed the banjo and guitar and will do programs at Senior Citizen Centers in Florida and neighboring states and will also do book signings and book sales.
What a great time this is going to be, but first ... there is the vacuum, the dishes in the dish washer, the clothes in the dryer, and a photo taking ride to York Bar with Grace in the sidecar and Greg doing the filming.

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

Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Four Wheelin' In Montana Mountains - Clouds, Beaver Slides and Cows

Our fifty mile trip through the mountains on a Polaris RZR began shortly after noon on a beautiful, sunny Montana Sunday afternoon.
Grace and I were passengers in the four passenger vehicle operated by her son Greg with navigation assistance from his wife Janelle.
The trip began with a ride up a steep, rough mountain trail.
Geared down for the uphill run the RZR could go anywhere and the ride was rough but fast.

Reaching the top of the ridge line the distant mountains and beautiful clouds came into view.

The unique cloud formation showed the effects of high winds in the upper air and caused ripples to form in clouds across nearly the entire sky. We were fortunate to see these rugged clouds from high above the treeline and between trees at lower levels.

It was windy and the face shield on the helmet Grace was wearing provided some protection from both the wind and the occasional mud splatter as we moved past mud puddles from the recent rains.

The Lodge pole pine grow to great heights in the high country and provide some spectacular pictures as we worked our way up the side of the mountain. The trail had many twists, turns, and mud holes so travel through the area was slow.

 Remains of hundred year old mines were found while moving through some of the back country trails. With sides made of poured concrete this shell of an old mining building has stood the test of time and while wooden parts of the building have
crumbled, the concrete stands firm against the ravages of time. The smaller picture shows remains of a building that had several smaller rooms and passages. The origin of the structures has faded through history.
Following a trail past the buildings we find a fence made of branches from Lodge Pole pines.
Inside the fence is a small tomb stone marking a grave which has become known to local hikers and mountain travelers as Baby Bertha.
The small stone marking the final resting place of the three month old baby also tells the tale of a grief stricken miner and his wife who suffered a heart breaking loss.
The birth date on the small stone is Oct. 2, 1890.
Death came about three months later.
Robert and Letha Hunter somehow found someone to carve the stone marker and built the fence around the grave.
The grave sits alone on the mountainside with no other graves or structures nearby.
Through the years, area residents have rebuilt the crumbling fence, adding steel fence posts to bolster the old pine branches which had been used to protect their babies grave.
Those were hard times and the grave reminds those who find their way up the side of this rugged mountain of the strength and dignity of the men and women who worked so hard to build a community, a state and a nation.

Leaving the high country we headed toward Avon, Montana and a great little restaurant for lunch.
Driving now through Montana Ranching country we found a real working Montana ranch.
In a beautiful valley with a view that seemed to go on forever, the ranch provided a glimpse into ranching life as it is today.
There were cattle in the fields, plenty of hay in large round bales and a picture perfect modern ranch.
A short distance down the road we found a contraption that gave us a look at what an old fashioned rancher used for hay making, instead of the big hay balers used today.

A genuine Beaver Slide sat by the side of the road and through the valley were large stacks of hay inside fences, evidence that this machine was still in use today.

The Beaver Slide was invented in the early 1900's by two Montana ranchers, Herbert S. Armitage and David J. Stephens. The two ranchers were from Beaverhead Country Montana and when they obtained a patent on the rig it was called the  Beaverhead County Slide Stacker. The name was quickly shortened to "beaverslide," and it became a fixture on many Montana ranches. A few ranchers still use the labor intensive hay maker instead of the expensive balers that create the large round bales of today. The intrepid four wheelers are pictured in front of the rig.

This picture was taken shortly before I attempted to lean out and take a picture of cows that had been blocking the road but were now hurrying to get out of our way.

Unfortunately, as I snapped the picture of the cows fleeing the four wheel monster which had invaded their territory, I dropped my Iphone6 and watched as it slipped out of my hands and landed glass side down on the gravel road.
The Selfie Stick which should have been holding the phone securely in it's grasp was on the back seat of my car where I had forgotten it when we began our ride.

I'll be visiting Verizon in the morning.
Here is one last look at the fabulous Montana back country which has made our ride so pleasant and enjoyable.

My next Iron Butt ride is coming up fast. On September 30th I will be riding a SaddleSore 1000 Mile ride from Helena, Montana to San Jose CA. After a short visit with Janis, Mike and the kids I will head to San Diego where Shareef AsSadiq has offered to be my Start Witness for the 50 hour coast to coast ride from San Diego to Jacksonville, Florida. On that same ride I will be attempting the BBG1500 which is 1500 miles in 24 hours. This ride is labled "extreme" and will be the toughest part of the entire ride. Diana and Ilidio have offered to be my End Of Ride Witnesses and I will be spending much of the winter with them in Lake Mary, FL.
I'll be doing the Ray King RTE (Ride To Eat) in Flagler Beach Florida in October and the Florida west coast to east coast ride in November.
Great winter riding coming up.

Watch for me, I'll be in the Right Lane America.
Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Linda's Iron Butt Ride - 1100 Miles in Twenty Hours

1100 miles in 24 hours. My daughter Linda wanted to add an Iron Butt Association Saddle Sore 1000 mile ride to her Bucket List of adventures completed.
Sky Diving? August 2014, Check!
Hot Air Balloon Ride? August 2015, Check!

Iron Butt Association ride
Saddle Sore 1000?
Monday September 7, 2015.
Depart from Shellie's Truck Stop Cafe, Helena, Montana at Midnight.

 I agreed to ride the bike, she did what very few people have done. She rode the SS1000 as Navigator in a motorcycle with sidecar. 
Leaving Helena at Midnight we had a cold ride for the first six hours.

 It was very cold. A bystander at a Butte, MT truck stop said it was 26  degrees at his house just down the street from the truck stop.
Officially it was 41 degrees when we left Helena and a little cooler as we rode over Monida Pass.

The first 100 miles carried us to Dillon, MT where Linda remembered that she had brought hand warmers to place in our gloves. Since we were riding with no electric suits the hand warmers provided the only heat we carried with us.
They really helped.
The ride through Idaho went quickly and we saw only one deer along the way and very little traffic on I-15.
By 6AM the sun was beginning to peek through the clouds which had formed around mountain peaks and the warm up began.
We had lost a little time at a truck stop in Idaho Falls while trying to stop shivering from the cold.
The 10 minute gas stop turned into a 30 minute warm up stop.
After Monida Pass it did seem a lot warmer and as we dropped down to a lower elevation the temperature did begin to rise.
Morning light found us cruising through Idaho and closing in on the Utah State Line.

The first half of the ride was being completed quickly with the sun providing a welcome warm up and the Honda VTX 1300 performing like a real Mile Eater.
Salt Lake City was all that stood between us and the Half Way Goal, Provo, Utah, 525 miles from Helena.
The ride through the city on I-15 went quickly. Very quickly!
It was fast.
I had no idea that Salt Lake Drivers drove the freeway at speeds exceeding 85MPH!

Speed limit signs read 70MPH but were ignored by most drivers.
We rode my age and maybe a little more.

There were few stops on the way through SLC, but we did find one beneath an underpass.
It was a momentary respite from the fast moving traffic.
To their credit, these drivers seemed to know where they were going and would provide room for a Long Distance Rider to make lane changes when he found himself in the wrong lane.

The 80 year old Iron Butt Rider sign made a year earlier by the Sign Masters at Fast Signs in Helena worked it's magic again on this trip with many drivers waving, honking a horn and giving us a thumbs up.

Thousands of drivers from coast to coast and border to border have read the sign, smiled and waved as they went by.

On this trip, like past Long Distance Rides, we never met a rude or discourteous driver.
People are great.
It was a quick stop in Provo to get a computer generated gas receipt and a picture to prove we had been there, and then it was time to retrace our route back to Helena.
We arrived in Provo at 10AM, ten hours after leaving Shellie's Truck stop in Helena.

The return ride began with another run through Salt Lake City on I-15, the high speed freeway we had pulled off of moments earlier.

But first a quick lunch break at Denny's.

Now we were off on a beautiful ride in bright, warm sunshine.

This is what a Long Distance Iron Butt Rider dreams of and we were both living the moment.
Linda being Navigator and photographer was having a great ride.

The ride through rich farmland and fields of Lava was beautiful and interesting with scenery changing constantly and light traffic making the ride a smooth enjoyable event.

A rest area in the lava fields provided a short break from the highway, but with the goal of making the nearly 1100 mile ride in less than 24 hours were soon on the road again.

The miles passed quickly as we maintained a constant speed.

Posted speed limits through Idaho were 80MPH and I was trying to stay at that speed.

There were very few construction project delays
on the entire trip, but the one that we did drive through had the most interesting road improvement sign we saw on the entire trip.

I have no idea what the blasting sign was about, but apparently we drove through the blasting zone without realizing what was happening around us.

Linda was enjoying her Bucket List ride of One Thousand miles in less than twenty four hours and the pictures would prove her bragging rights if we could reach the goal.

The ride through Idaho was near completion as we rode again through Monida Pass, near the states border with Montana.

The early morning ride through this colorful Pass had been rather uncomfortable, but this time through we had a chance to admire the mountains, valleys and the never ending highway.

This beautiful roadway had been the brainchild of President Eisenhower after World War Two.
Returning GI's who had ridden the German Autobahns were supportive of the Interstate and Defence Highway Project and this great ride is the result.

As we closed in on the Montana border we began to feel more certain of a good completion of the Linda Saddle Sore 1000.

Her bucket list ride was rapidly coming to an end.

Through Monida, I decided to skip the gas stop in Dillon and try to stretch out the ride all the way to Butte.
 It worked.
Rocker, Montana, the truck stop on the west side of Butte came into view as we went to the reserve switch on the gas line.

The gas stop was quick and we were now on the last 60 mile leg of our one thousand mile trek.

Oh sure, the start of the trip had been a little iffy with the cool temperatures, but the cool weather hadn't slowed us down and we made it through the night and into a day of Golden Sunshine and a wide open and welcoming highway.

Our End of Ride witnesses, Aaron and Roger were ready to sign the forms and we were home
The Linda SS1000 was history and she had completed one more item on her Bucket List, as I completed my third Iron Butt ride.
It was 8PM.
The ride had taken twenty hours, well within the 24 hour limit

A little stiff and sore? Of course.
Elated at the successful ride, for sure!
This has been a great ride for both of us and it was a good warm up for my Sept. 30th run to California and across the USA to Florida.

Watch for me, I'll be in the Right Lane America.
Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist

Photos by Linda Darelius

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Wolf Creek Canyon Ride and Traffic Jam

It began as a quick trip to Great Falls, Montana to check mileage on the rig while carrying a full load.

Linda volunteered to travel as the sidecar passenger, and needed some supplies for the ride.

It does get a little windy and cool when riding shotgun through some of Montana's canyon country.
What I wanted to find out was, what kind of mileage would the VTX 1300 get with sidecar, tent trailer and passenger in the sidecar.

It went well too, until we began our drive through Wolf Creek Canyon.

Construction crews are working on the stone cliffs along I-15 to minimize falling rock.
The crews were working high above us to knock loose stones off the walls, some worked on the ground others were lowered down the side of the cliffs to knock off loose slabs of stone.
Signs warned of possible 30 minute waiting time as the crews loaded rock on to trucks and changed positions with the huge screens used to keep the falling rock from crashing on to the highway.

No! No! Wait until I get the helmet on,my hair is a mess!

 It is a most unusual construction project and provided interesting pictures and video.
Photo ops were plentiful and I thought I would get a good picture of my passenger.

Oh, there, that's better.


The wait turned out to be about twenty minutes and I had a chance to visit with folks waiting in the truck behind us.

The day was beautiful and the scenery fantastic.

Smoke from the Holter Lakes fires swirled around above the cliff facings and was visible for a great distance.

Wolf Creek Canyon, on I-15 between Helena and Great Falls, Montana is usually a fairly quiet ride with fewer vehicles than you find on most interstate Highways.

Today was different as the construction crews held up traffic giving us what could very likely be the first traffic jam in canyon history.

I took some great video of the traffic jam, but haven't figured out how to make it play on this blog.
I'll try again tomorrow.
Just imagine, lots and lots of cars, trucks and RV's waiting in line in a long, long row and then all trying to get to Great Falls as fast as they can and you'll have it. (LoL)

The rest of the trip was quick and after a quick lunch at Denny's we headed for home and again were stopped for about twenty minutes.
Interesting watching the crews at work.
As I said earlier, a most unusual construction project.
 I found out what I needed to know about miles per gallon and I feel better prepared for the trip south on September 30th.
Well, you all will have to admit, it was a good excuse for a ride through the canyon on a beautiful day.
Any excuse that will get you in the saddle for a few hours has to be good.

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

Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist
(& Linda)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Saddle Sore 1000 MIles in 24 Hours Certificate

It's always fun to open the mailbox and see a package from the Iron Butt Association.
Since the IBA is an all volunteer organization it's usually a couple of months after you make a ride that you receive "The Certificate" in the mail.
These IBA volunteers are usually swamped this time of the year because of the many rides being done all around the world.
So it was a surprise that in two short months, I received my certificate.

Thank You Iron Butt Association volunteers for your quick work in getting this 80 year old bikers second SaddleSore 1000 Certificate in the mail.
It was a real thrill to open the mailbox and see your letter.
The ride from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Helena, Montana June 30th was fantastic and included 7 hours at night, 5 of those hours in the rain.

In addition to the certificate I received another license plate backer.
The Iron Butt license plate sign brings a quick response from other Iron Butt Riders wherever you travel. So many times in a service station, rest area or restaurant another rider will approach and say, "I'm Iron Butt too."
It is fun to visit with these dedicated Long Distance Bikers.

This ride was a great warm up for my early October 50cc Quest ride from San Diego CA to Jacksonville, FL and the Bun Burner Gold 1500 miles in 24 hours, I will attempt, as part of the 50cc ride. 
The 50cc is a ride from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast and must be completed in 50 hours.
The total distance is about 2,450 miles.

While concentrating on the 50cc ride I will also attempt what is termed an "extreme" ride, the BBG or Bun Burner Gold 1500 miles in 24 hours.
This ride will be from Las Cruces, New Mexico to Jacksonville, Florida.
If I am unable to complete the 1500 miles in 24 hours I will still be in good company since many others have come close but couldn't make the 24 hour time limit.
That would be okay since "The Ride Is The Thing!"
It's the ride that is fun, the completion certificate is secondary, but also fun to get. 
What great times and great rides.
Thanks Iron Butt Association folks for all you do to make these exciting rides so meaningful.
I'll turn 81 years old in November and am looking forward to a fantastic 2016 full of IBA rides and a long visit with Diana and Ilidio in Florida.

IBA member Ray King already has me scheduled for the Florida West Coast to East Coast ride in November and an RTE (ride to eat) in October.
Thanks Ray, I'm looking forward to the visits.

An IBA member designed a brand new logo for members who are called "Mile Eaters," so it was fun to receive this patch along with the latest certificate.

Thanks to Iron Butt Long Distance Riders from around the world for their good wishes via Face Book and other Rider pages. 
It has been great hearing from you and I'm looking forward to seeing many of you in my travels.

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

Watch for me, I'll be in the Right Lane America
 Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist 
IBA #60280