West to Salt Lake City

Final posting SLC trip – Safe arrival at home

The Beemer that took me 7200 kms across USA and back
Milwaukee skyline (tilted just for effect)
Milwaukee harbor entrance

Today’s trip was a long trip but very successful, as I arrived safely.   The highlights of the trip were an early morning departure on a ferry to cross Lake Michigan and a surprise kiss on the lips from my darling sister.

My day started at 4:00 am when the wake-up call requested from the hotel didn’t come but I was awake nonetheless.  I packed quickly and very quickly was lost in downtown Milwaukee.  GPS programs don’t know how to deal with closed roads very well it seems.  At the ferry terminal, I met a very nice couple – he was a retired Lutheran minister with his wife on his way to a reunion at a church he was pastor at when he was 25 years old.  He met his wife there, as well.  We had a grand time talking about MGB’s (which he owned at the time he met his wife) and Miata (1995 model he still owns).  The ferry boarded on time for a 6:00 am departure and besides burning my hand on the hot muffler, no issues.

Arriving at Muskegon, MI, I had already lost one hour and so it was now close to 10:00 am EST.  For unknown reasons, probably due to fat gloved fingers, the bluetooth refused to communicate to the GPS for the rest of the day.  The GPS screen is almost impossible to see in bright light, so I was flying blind.  I stopped for coffee at a place I stumbled upon and was told of a road parallel to the the interstate that would be much more pleasant to drive.  the interstate is windy, hot, bumpy and noisy (but fast).  So, I lost about 1/2 hour driving every which way trying to follow instructions given to me by a bicycle shop owner to locate the road and finally give up.

I drove through the Sarnia border crossing with as few stops as possible and was on the highway 401 when I couldn’t stand the stabbing pain in my back any longer.  I get that from long hours of poor posture, I believe.  Pulling off my helmet at the Service Centre, I was greeted by a tremendous kiss.  Donna had spotted me driving in and she was sure it looked like my bike.  Wow, what a great surprise.  When I arrived at home an hour later, Art and Ro were waiting for me and we celebrated my home coming and Ro’s birthday with a BBQ dinner and birthday cheesecake.

Heading Home and getting close in Milwaukee

Today was a great day and a great ride.  I had a feeling that I needed to take things slowly or else I’d run into rain.  So, I sorta followed breaks in the overcast sky early this morning and other than some rods that were still wet, it was great rolling through the luscious country-side.  Lots of hills that I didn’t know existed in south-east MInnesota and hills meant some twisty-windy roads.  Of course I finally succumbed to the need to get to Milwaukee before I tired and so I joined the interstate highway and got to the city early afternoon.  I went first to the ferry terminal to make sure they had my reservation and to ensure I had some idea of how to get there.  They said I should be at the terminal by 5:00 am at the latest.

Beautiful lighting in the hills of Minnesota

The hotel had a shuttle service and so I took advantage and had them drive me to the older part of downtown where I could roam around.  I enjoyed the time to just walk around.

Oldest home in Milwaukee

Tomorrow, I hit Michigan and I’m looking forward to hitting Ontario shortly after.

Heading home – into Minnesota

Almost felt like going home as I’m only a few miles from Rochester, MN where Shari and I lived for several months.  I recall I used to ride my bike back then east towards Wisconsin which is where I’ll be heading tomorrow.  Today’s weather was pretty well perfect – not too hot but a somewhat humid as it was working up towards a huge thunderstorm that hit around 5;00 pm (after I was booked into my hotel).   The bright sun I was facing as I headed east was blocked as the morning wore on by low hung clouds.

There were no photographs taken today.   For one thing, I didn’t see anything  worth shooting, and the lighting was flat.  But basically, it’s hard to shoot landscapes of flat land – sorta need a foreground and a background and they are hard to find without a step ladder.  Didn’t carry one of those things.

Saw an interesting school just as I left the I90 – it was built as 3 large domes joined by 2 tunnels.  Haven’t been able to find background info on why that kind of design.   Saw my first vineyard – called The Four Daughters Vineyard but haven’t found anyone in the town that offers wine to try – a fruit cider, yes – but no wine.

Trying to find a hotel that is close to the ferry terminal in Milwaukee because the ferry leaves at 6;00 am and starts boarding an hour before that..   Difficult to do that kind of search, at least on a phone but I have a hotel booked nonetheless.

Day 4, I think, on the return from SLC

Isn’t she beautiful

Well today went well.  Slept in a few minutes more than normal and headed north to see the Devil’s tower national monument.  It was a nice drive.  I took a couple of snaps and kept going.  Went past the Black Hills and circled back almost to the same town I started from.   Then I drove through the Badlands of SD.  I ran parallel to the I-80 which I would eventually join.  The speed limit on I-80 is 80 mph and if you don’t drive close to that, all the big transports pass you.  With the easterly wind today, turbulence early in the morning was pretty bad. If transports pass,its quite disconcerting.    There was a strange phenomenon when driving in the prairies.   Totally random gusts of wind will pop up and sucker punch you.  There doesn’t seem to be any rationale for the behaviour.

However, today, I was passing through a gap between 2 low badland mounds.  Almost like the wind was waiting for a motorcyclist, the wind bounced of both mounds and then hit me with a one 2 punch.  It was really fun.

So, I ended up running long on the I-80 in temperatures that fortunately didn’t exceed 33C.    I was tired when I arrived at Mitchell, SD.  Seems to have one of every type of hotel I’ve heard of.  I’m at the Quality Inn.  Poor bike is in desperate need of cleaning – tomorrow I’ll lose the bugs in the obvious places.

Two more days and I’ll be on the ferry crossing Lake Michigan – scheduled for Friday at 6:00 am.  I lose another hour on the ferry in the time change.


Heading homeward in Wyoming – Day 3 of return

Today was a good day, all things considered.  As soon as it opened, the emergency care clinic doctor took a look at my ear that was still dripping some blood overnight.  He gave me a prescription for drops to take 4 times a day.  So, I was well looked after and this was completed by 9:30.   I took the rest of the morning to book ferry crossing across Lake Michigan and sort of balance out the rest of the trip in my mind.

I was told that my part from BMW would arrive in the morning – and I had asked for no later than 10 am.  It arrived a few minutes after 12 noon and I was on my way by 12:30.  As I headed out of Cody, and towards I-90, I started going up through a major gorge and then climbed like crazy for what seemed like hours.  The temperature was 32 C and at the final top of the climb, the temperature had dropped to 22- so nice.   I travelled like this for quite a long time and enjoyed the scenery and wildlife.  There were humungous herds of sheep – some sheared, some not.  There were also bison but I didn’t take the time to shoot photos.  My GPS said it would be after 6 before I arrived at my next stop.  Coming down from the mountain was quite the challenge – no longer were the corners just sharp – a lot of them were hairpin turns.  When the sign recommended 20 mph, guess they were serious.  Had some fun and didn’t get into trouble but sure need more practice.   The rest of the trip was on 4 lane (2 each way) I-90 and speeds up to 80mph.  Where the pavement had been recently re-blacktopped, temperature rose as high as 36.  The black on my boots and the oil in my pants started to cook.  I waved my leg occasionally in the air stream just to stop the sizzling.

So, now I’m located in town of Sundance, Wy.  Tomorrow I hope to have some fun going to the Devil’s Monument, Wy. and the badlands in south west SD.  Then it will be run for the east side of SD somewhere before stopping for the night.

Second day returning from SLC (salt lake)

I started out today under almost cool weather.  I was staying in a hostel in Wyoming and it had turned somewhat cool overnight.  We all welcomed the 14C weather but the day was still young it promised to get hot. Due to the high elevation for the majority of my trip, the temperature for most of the day never went above 25C.  Then, as I descended to Cody, it shot up to 32 again.

My good samaritan had made up 2 possible solutions to fix the oil cap leak.  He was certain that Plan A would get me all the way to Ontario but he was wrong.  I had barely gone more than 20 miles when I noticed I was losing a lot of oil and it was spraying on my leg and the rest of the bike.  So, I brought out plan B which was a simple rubber stopper and stuffed it in.  Miraculously, it survived the whole day.  So, now I’m in Cody, Wy waiting for Fedex to arrive tomorrow with a real oil cap from BMW.   Thank goodness for samaritans.

When I left the hostel in Driggs, Idaho, I had two options to get to Cody – one was taking a highway and entering Yellowstone from the west gate.  The other option was to retrace some steps from the day before,head south and then head north through the Teton Mountains.  I chose the latter and it was a wonderful experience.

I took only a few photos but the mountains are a beautiful sight to see especially first thing in the morning light.  I continued to travel north and then made a western swing to see Old Faithful.   Met a few bikers there while we waited for the appointed hour when Old Faithful delivered the expected spray. That was neat too.  Throughout the day, I saw a beautiful red fox, and large number of bison.  One bison was in the ditch so close I could almost touch him but I wasn’t stopping to get his picture or his signed picture release.  There were several other sites where many people were stopped to see something but I kept motoring on.  I’d like to go back though.

Making a circuit through Yellowstone made for a long trip and I was anxious to get to my destination.  If the rubber stop got loose from all the bouncing around, I’m not sure what I would have done.  So, I hurried through Yellowstone and didn’t stop for anything other than the odd snapshot taken from the bike and gas pitstop.

Arriving at Cody, I made use of my time by inquiring of the pharmacy whether they could give me a product for the ear and they said no.  So, I purchased a bunch of heavy duty cleaning products and proceed to wash my boot, Pants and bike – trying to rid them of as much oil as I could.  I haven’t kept good records of distances travelled.  For the period that my GPS was running, it has recorded 2624 miles so far, or about 4000 kms on the bike.  I’ll need to take apart the rear brake when I get home and clean it better than I’ve been able to so far.

I met a young couple – the fellow just left the marines in San Diego last Friday.  He was doing a quick tour before returning to his home town in Minnesota where he’ll take a HVAC course starting in the fall.  Here he is starting a new career and I’m still wondering if I will be starting one as well.  Incidentally, one of the older BMW riders at our ‘tent city’ had told me a few days ago that he had to get home and have the doctor look after his knee that was extremely painful that he couldn’t sleep.  When I asked him the following day how his knee was – he said it was still the same.  He then gave me the following advice – ‘Getting old sucks:  if you aren’t strong, then it will kill you”

Not sure what tomorrow will bring.  As soon as Fedex delivers my package I’ll head towards the Devil’s Monument but not sure where I’ll end up for the night.  Wherever that is,I’ll probably plan the remainder of my return trip.Someone told me the ferry across lake Michigan gets booked up so I had better book my return trip

Back on the road again – heading to Yellowstone

largest organ in the world as I understand it
Where the Mormon tabernacle choir sings

m back on the bike again but I think you may recall how I didn’t want too much excitement.  Today, I got much more than I wanted.  I  changed the oil at the rally and drove the bike for a day on a 1/2 day driving course.  I headed north today to the Tetons thinking I would be able to practice my new found skills on twisty windy roads.  I certainly had plenty of practice but discovered part way through the morning that the bike had a funny rattle.   I pulled in to get some gas and noticed my foot was sliding on the pavement.  Then I looked at my foot and it was covered in oil, as was my pants, boot, and half my bike.  I had also lost most of my rear brake which I don’t use a lot anyway but I was worried about the oil on all the rubber parts, tires, etc.  So, I sweated bullets for a long time, looking in hardware stores, etc.  Finally a good samaritan by the name of Joe gave me a hand.  We drove back and forth looking for various parts that might be forced into the opening.  While he built me a white oil cap out plastic I phoned around all over Utah, Wyoming (which is where I was) and Idaho which I had just come through.  The best that I could get was that the BMW dealer would Fedex me a new cap to Cody which is my next stop after tonight.

Needless to say, I was covered in oil and didn’t feel much like taking photos after that.  The Wyoming hills (and Idaho hills) did look beautiful, however,   Unlike the Colorado hills which were dry and bare, these hills were green and pretty lush looking.  I passed lots of big lakes and being as it was a Saturday, there were lots of boaters enjoying the lakes.  They are very strict here about boaters and they have boating inspection stations in a lot of the states near the bigger lakes – checking of unwanted organisms.

  • So, I finally arrived at my location and found sufficient oil in the crankcase to give me encouragement that I will arrive in Cody tomorrow as planned, albeit with more oil on me.  I’ve washed the bike as best I can and will plan to wash it tomorrow or Monday morning (as soon as stores open) and as soon as my part arrives

At the rally, I “invested” in a new bluetooth helmet unit to talk to gps, ipod, etc.  I also was convinced to have custom made ear plugs made to protect my hearing.  Hah, hah.  The laugh was on me.   They inject silicon into your ear and then twist the sucker out.  It wouldn’t come out of the right ear  – not without a lot of pain and brute force.  Which has left me with some blood still in the ear canal.  So, as soon as I get my bike cleaned up, and my clothes, I need to work on my ear.  It doesn’t hurt anymore – it just feels like I went in swimming and the water hasn’t drained.  Needless to say, I have not tried to use these ear plugs.  I’m sure a trip to a pharmacy will help me immensely.

So, that’s my day.  Tomorrow, I’ll be seeing Yellowstone but not stopping too much.  It will be a shorter than I wished visit to Old Faithful, I think.

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.