Finally reached the Salt Lake City and BMW rally

Really interesting scenery after a boring start
Desolate Utah ‘Moonscape’

Left Colorado this morning under cloudy skies and even the threat of rain.  It had rained a lot during the night.  I was on the road about 6:30 and was pleasantly surprised that the cloud coverage was keeping the temperatures down.  There was a period where the driving was rather boring and then we started to move up through a mountain pass and then back down again.  Didn’t last too long but was quite a thrill.  Drove as long as my gas tank allowed before pulling into a restaurant.  Met 3 fellows who all belon g to a K1600 club and they all travel together even though each lives in different states like Arizona, Tennessee.    Later I met up with them as well as the Brantford guys when I arrived at the rally.  I was absolutely shocked when when I crossed the the Utah border – never seen anything so desolate – nothing but patchy weeds, sand – all flat like pictures of mars.  Even stranger, there were signs saying ‘Welcome to Utah’ and then another sign saying no services for 60 miles.    Rather than travel with the 3 K1600’s, Ieft on my own – thinking I just might get a chance for pictures without holding them up.  Alas, there wasn’t much to photography and before long I was on a 5 lane highway for 50 miles heading intocon Salt Lake City and the temperature was rising rapidly.  It was hovering around 36C and the handlebars were getting hot to handle, I thought.  It could have been the tension in my hands from all the traffic.

 

my home for next 3 days

 

Arriving early, the day before  the official opening of the rally was a little tricky as there were lots of people but no one who seemed to know much and the temperature continued to rise.    Finally had a walk around, found my tent all set up,talked to a bunch of the people here.   A lot of them are planning on heading north to Yellowstone park, the same as me.  So, I made a decision to change my plans.  I  will leave Saturday morning rather than Sunday morning.  It will mean I avoid one more day of heat here and will probably miss some cool bands playing on Saturday night but I can live with that.

So, tomorrow is my first full day at the rally.  Chaning the oil in the bike is the only activity I have planned for the first day so probably won’t have much to blog about…. We’ll see.

Day 5 – Trip thru Colorado

Early morning view

My day started out with a strong smell.  With lots of clouds in the sky to keep the heat down (started out around 23C), I thought the farmers must be fertilizing with manure.  Not so, I quickly went passed the largest holding pen for cattle that I’ve seen.  Subsequently, I went passed several more.  One really depressed me as the cattle were lying down – it appeared they had no food or water and were starving, or worse, ill.  I also went passed a very modern one which also didn’t smell.

My decision to re-route my trip to Colorado was really put to the test as I left I-80 and went SW towards Denver.  Terribly boring and as a result very long.  Then I tried to find a coffee in Denver – didnt find it but ended up in a heavy traffic jam.

View from 110000 feet

After Denver, however, the trip was glorious for bike riding.  Several hundred miles of ups, downs, swerving curves, tunnels.  At one point, I was at 11,350 feet.  And the high altitude resulted in lowering the temperature.  Denver the temp was 33C and at the highest peak, the temperature was close to 17.  And much later on, I ended up in a valley that was tres cool – came out of a tunnel into a gorge that was fantastic – high ragged walls on both sides of the road.  Unfortunately, didn’t want to risk stopping to take a picture – doubt the picture would have captured it well anyway.

I stopped at Vail just to see it and the gentleman working there confirmed what I had seen all along – Colorado was in a severe drought condition.  I stopped again at a point past Vail and met a fellow BMW rally goer driving the same bike as mine but early year.  He was from Knoxville Tenn and he had the southern drawl.  Neat guy that I’m sure I’ll meet again but doggone it, I forgot his name already.  He was carrying a huge soft bag on the back that he admitted contained camping equipment.  However, he admitted he had no plans to camp at the rally because of the high temperatures.  Guess I’lll find out tomorrow night!!

View from my window in SILK, CO

Went to a neat restaurant – neat because the food was delicious.  I arrived fairly early and got a table.  Then it started to rain  heavily and people started pouring in (excuse the pun).  So i agreed to settle my bill and give up my table but move to the bar.  Only……….. the bill contained a dessert I hadn’t ordered and there was no room at the bar.   Ended the night standing on the rocks near the unused fireplace and drank a very good cup of coffee I insisted I be given.  Took the dessert home (didn’t need the calories) but it was a pretty good cheesecake..

Off to Salt Lake City tomorrow.

Day 4 – Moving across Nebraska

Another big state – took all day to get across.   But here I am in Ogallala, NE.    Don’t ask why Ogallala – the answer would be becuz it’s here, I think.   Last night I checked the weather and it was expected to hit  39 celsius.    I couldn’t sleep and in my revery I thought it best to rise early and depart in the nice weather.  I packed around 5 and was on the bike by 5:45.  The temperature was 27 celsius but it cooled as I headed west.   It was a great big blue sky again but this time the full moon was right in front of me.   Pretty cool too.   I decided to go as long as I could without breakfast as it would continue to heat up while I sat in a restaurant.  However, the GPS was telling me I would arrive at my destination by 11:30 am so I needed to kill time.  I stopped for gas at Waco but I think the legendary Waco was probably in Texas.  I saw a huge crane/heron fly over me within about 20 feet and since I just passed Kearney, NE – the sandhill crane capital of the world (according to the sign), I guess this was a Sandhill.   I stopped at a huge bridge across the highway but it seemed to be closed. So, I ended up at a Perkins restaurant – as luck would have it the same time as 2 other Beemer riders.   Dan and John are from Brantford and we rode the rest of the way to Ogallala.   I hope we meet again in Utah.

Arriving at Ogallala, I decided I’ve had enough of I-80 for awhile and with the help of the hotel manager, I’ve decided on a re-route via I70 through Colorado instead of going through Wyoming.  So, my next stop is Silk, CO.  After that, I made a quick tour of Ogallala, visiting the famous Boot Hill (although there may be a ‘Boot Hill’ in every western town.   I also went out to see the big lake used here for community amusement – Lake McConaughy.

Day 3 – Across Iowa State

I managed to cross Iowa state today. The weather started out perfectly – blue sky without a cloud in the sky. I had forgotten how big the prairies look – huge sky and signs that show up in the horizon that take 1/2 hour to reach. I had my first BMW pass me today – no doubt a volunteer at the rally trying to get there early. I later met a gentleman at a rest stop who had an old BMW, a newer Kawasaki 650 and a Harley – none of which he could ride because it hurt his hips. We talked for quite a while sharing stories of injuries (his were on the bike but while in the service). He was driving a large van which he called his ‘small one’. For Florida, he takes his 30 footer for better sleeping quarters. His companion was a rescue dog that he picked up in Florida on one of his trips. Then I saw a one-person plane go right over me – looked like he was having fun. Just as I was pulling out of the rest stop, an older gent (must have been late 80’s I guess) came and asked if I was going to Salt Lake City. He was on his way in his car – hadn’t missed one in 32 years. Hawkins was his name and I hope I see him there.
Cars on the state highways really move along at a clip. The posted speed is 70mph and every car passes me. I see state troopers pulling people over so obviously there is some sort of maximum but I can’t guess what it would be. The good news, no 1927 model T or the like passed me. I came across one section which was fairly fresh asphalt and it sure looked like it was starting to melt. Most of the highway appears to be concrete and as the temperature rose above 30, all the rubber tires on cars and especially trucks yield a high pitch shriek as they go by me.

As the day wore on, the temperature climbed and when I pulled into Bellevue (an old suburb of Omaha), the thermometer was reading 35 Celsius. At the hotel, one of the ladies in the backroom took pity on me and gave me a facecloth dunked in ice water – sure felt better in a hurry. Tomorrow, the prediction for Nebraska is even hotter hitting 39 degrees. So, the only thing I can do is leave at first light and wait while the hotel makes up my room since normal checkin is around 3:00 pm.
So, pretty well an uneventful trip so far which is what I was hoping for. On my return trip, I hope to take less state highways but only if the weather allows me to enjoy walking around.

Day 1 on the road

Had a slow start.  Last night I forgot where I had hid / stored my phone.  Honestly, how many places on a bike are there?  So, had to repack everything after I found it and that upset me so much I couldn’t get to sleep for hours.  Anyway, since I haven’t been on the bike for a long time, I had forgotten how much fun it is.   The border crossing at Sarnia was slick – only 4 cars in front of me and the officer was real friendly.  Got wet for a about 1/2 hour but no lightning.  After that, however, it started to get hot and by the time I was on I-69 heading towards my destination – a burg called Marshall, MI – the temp was close to 30.

So, despite being cut off once and almost side-swiped once, all is OK here in Michigan.  One does have to be vigilant all the time.  The patched concrete roads, however, are hard on the body – it’s like trying to go fast over speed bumps.  Looking forward to getting through Chicago early tomorrow and plan for a relatively short day of riding to Iowa.

West to Salt Lake City – startup

So 2 days to go and my bags are almost packed.  Decided not to travel with all my bags which means I’ll probably regret it later.  Leaving the tail or top case behind because it’s heavy, and, as the name applies, ‘top'[ heavy.  I will be updating my blog site as I travel – I’m travelling using hotels, motels and even one hostel along the way but all seem to have internet.  Also plan to use sherpa service at the BMW rally I’m attending in Salt Lake City.  Sherpa service provides a tent with cot and coffee delivered in the morning.  Not cheap but it’s right on the grounds so won’t miss any events.  I plan to arrive Wednesday July 12 but that’s subject to weather, bike and my noggin’ being all in shape, all the time.

Day 2 and I’m in Davenport, Iowa

Not an exciting day driving-wise which is always a good thing.  The weather was terrific, though with big puffy white clouds and blue sky. It didn’t get really hot (pushing 30) until late in the day. Tomorrow’s weather should be quite a bit hotter so I hope to get out there early and finish early. Got caught in terrible traffic going through Chicago.  They narrowed I-94 to 2 lanes and then split the lanes.  I ended up in the ‘fast’ lane which abruptly stopped.  It was like the construction team forgot traffic would be coming through.  We were barricaded between 2 sets of concrete walls and stopped with engines running overheating.  I was fortunate that it didn’t last  too long but we must have been there for 45 minutes at least.   Went passed a quite a few medical centre offices and signs. One office advertised ‘psychiatric services’ and ‘reconstructive surgery’.  Well it  got me thinking – what if they got the patients mixed up?  Seemed like a place to avoid.  Another huge billboard sign with a picture of a patient of a major hospital advertised  “I got my brain surgery here”   Well, who would believe a billboard like that?


As I entered Iowa, I noticed the big Mississippi river and an ad for Buffalo Bill (William Cody) museum so I dropped in for a 1/2 hour.   Lots of neat stuff of that era from clothes to rifles.  They had bowie knives from Davey Crockett, Jim Bowie- all the big names.  They had the last wooden paddleboat  to ply the river in drydock also in the museum.  Anyway, it was all in Leclaire. IA about 10 miles from Davenport where I’m resting for the night.

Which leaves me to one last thought – guess I didn’t get an A+ for planning this trip as I forgot the time changes.  So I almost arrived before the 3 PM check-in time.  Could have made it another 80 miles or more before packing it in.  Live and learn.