Christmas 2009

I realize its been a while since Christmas but i've been out of town in West Virginia for the past 3 weeks so i have a lots of catching up. Here's me setting up my Christmas tree in the living room. Unfortunately this is as far as i got. No lights or ornaments. I didn't even have time to set up my double manger scene in the window with double baby Jesus'.
gif, animated christmas tree


Trip Spending

I just got my credit card statement from the bike trip. I stopped for gas a lot, good thing it was usually only five bucks:credit card spending list from trip, charges, cross country motorcycle, gas
(click on image to enlarge)
I seriously did not delete anything in between these days. All i bought was gas, motels, a crescent wrench and an orange pop. Well i might have paid cash for some stuff too, like camping sites and maybe food. And going across the country on only 64 gallons of gas isn't too bad either.


2,600 miles on a Honda - part 6

By this point in the trip i was basically planning where i was going the the next day, the night before in the tent. I'm not sure if i thought that i wouldn't make it this far or what. I probably thought "eh i'll figure it out when i get there." I reached another goal that day. I finally saw an armadillo. It was dead by the side of the road but it still counts. A couple of days earlier i saw two roadrunners, they were really cool how they ran, almost exactly like the cartoon with their heads pointed forward.armadillo by road, dead, tennessee, cross country motorcycle trip, USA
US-412 was great, lots of hills and turns. I saw on the map that it comes close to Wirth, Arkansas but 50 miles was too far of a detour. Then i came up the the border into Missouri. I still don't know what the Show-Me State even means. The state sure didn't show me much.
I know i only rode a hundred miles through the corner of the state, but I don't remember anything about Missouri except that every farm was growing cotton and it was all over the sides of the road, it looked like snow.

Missouri state line, cross country motorcycle trip, across US, honda motorcycle
Then the only real wrong turn i made was when i tried taking a side road across the Mississippi River into Tennessee. On the map there were two roads on either side of the river and it looked like there was a bridge. Turns out there was only a dead end at the river, no bridge and i had to double back 30 miles to cross into Tennessee.Tennessee state sign, cross country motorcycle trip, honda
Then it turned out that the State Park where i was going to camp was closed for the season. So i camped out at this weird bait shop/boat marina/RV park/campground. It was also weird that this place was the most expensive spot so far that i camped. Palo Duro was great and only $12, Bull Shoals was $17 and the best place out of all of them, Foss Lake was free. I could draw you a graph showing how as price increased, the campsites got worse but i'm sure you get the idea. Also it was really windy by the lake and rained all night.state park camground, tennesse, motorcycle, tent
state park tennessee, lake shore, stumps, i-40
Luckily the next day the roads were fairly dry. But since the high temp for the day was 45 degrees it was not that much fun. Then came the most dangerous part of the trip. Trying to take my picture in front of the border into Kentucky. The sign was in the center of a 4 lane divided highway with a 2 foot shoulder. Good thing the road wasn't busy.
welcome to kentucky, unbridled spirit, motorcycle trip, thousand miles
After a long day of riding i made it to Mammoth Cave and at 3:30 and got to go on the last tour of the day. It ended up being just me, a guy from Chicago and the tour guide. I had always pictured the cave as a small cramped tunnel maybe 10 foot wide. But now i know why it's called Mammoth Cave. It was huge. They said it was the longest cave system in the world, over 400 miles of tunnels, but the size of the "rooms" is what got me. Only a half mile in and there was 100 foot high ceilings and walls probably 200 feet wide. They had 3 hour trips the next day which i wanted to go on but i had to keep heading home. I would have liked to spend all day down there. Except when the guide turned out all the lights for a laugh.entrance to mammoth cave, tour, guide, air, dark
At this point i was 470 miles from home. I figured 2 more days. The next morning was really cold as can be seen from the thick layer of frost on the motorcycle.
cold morning, motorcycle ride, kentucky, ice, snow
To this point i had taken a picture in front of every state border that i crossed, until Ohio. There was absolutely no place to stop on the bridge, over the river, on the highway. So i just kept riding and made it to Dayton, 230 miles, by 2:30. When i stopped to get gas i saw a sign that said "Detroit 140 miles." My choices were to stop then and ride tomorrow in the cold rain or ride home in the dark. I decided on the second option. I crossed into Michigan right after sunset. An hour later and i was at 15 Mile and Ryan Rd, only a quarter of a mile from my house. That's when it finally hit me that i had actually made it. So if you happened to be standing on the corner that night you would have heard a crazy guy with a loaded down Honda motorcycle screaming for joy in his helmet.

For some reason i thought to myself "if the bike breaks now i can always push it home." Although the bike was GREAT. Other then replacing the throttle cable and some spark plugs it performed flawlessly. Not bad for a motorcycle that's 37 years old. The whole trip i wasn't really thinking that i would really make it the whole way, so when i pulled in the driveway i could not believe that i actually rode 2,600 miles.
welcome to pure michigan state sign, last state, motorcycle ride

2,600 miles on a Honda - part 5

After two nights of camping, i was ready for a night in a motel, hopefully with a little time to work on the bike. By the time i got to Garth Brooks' home town of Yukon, Oklahoma i had ridden around 1000 miles. A little later the highway turned into a turnpike so i decided to take route 66. 10 miles down that road i came up to this really strange looking building. It had an awning that kinda reminded me of the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars and had a giant metal pop bottle by the road. Pops, millennium falcon, soda, route 66, motorcycle, honda
The place is called Pops, it's a gas station with several hundred kinds of pop from all over the US. So i filled up with gas and had a Fritz's orange soda. It tasted a lot like Faygo, meaning it was great. In the parking lot there were dozens of motorcycles and after talking to some people, it turns out that on the weekends Pops is the the main hangout place in the area. They said on friday nights there usually isn't a place to park a bike it's so busy.

Then like always people ask me where i'm headed. After i tell them Michigan they ALWAYS say "WOW...you're a long way from home huh? Well good luck and stay safe" The first few days it didn't bother me but i've already ridden 1000 miles, how can i still be a long way from home?

Route 66 was great. Perfect speed with cool little towns every 20 miles or so. I stopped at a motel on the east side of Tulsa and started working on the bike. Changed spark plugs again, realigned the rear tire and tightened the chain. All set for another 1000 miles.

The next day i hit the 20,000 mile mark on the motorcycle. It seemed like a really big event at the time so i stopped and took a picture.
honda motorcycle hits 20000 miles, odometer, trip
Then at the border into Arkansas i talked with a guy selling oranges and blankets with pictures of Elvis and wolves. I didn't buy any oranges but looking back wish i had got that Elvis blanket.welcome to arkansas, the natural state, state sign, road trip
elvis blanket, wolf blanket for sale
That night i camped at Bull Shoals State Park. It was on a river near the Bull Shoals Dam. I'm still amazed at the number of people that camp out that time of year. Although i was the only one in a tent, the rest of the people had RV's or campers. This time i used dead leaves as padding under the tent.
bull shoals state park, campground, river, dam, campsite
I also forgot to mention that back on day 3 in New Mexico i was talking to an indian guy at a gas station. He saw the bike and asked if i was doing some "long traveling" I said i was headed for Michigan. He said "oh ya you are doing some long traveling alright. Well i hope you make it. Be safe." I had never heard that phrase before but after thinking about it while riding a few hundred miles, i started to really like the term "long traveling."

2,600 miles on a Honda - part 4

The next morning i woke up and headed back into Amarillo for breakfast at The Big Texan. Which is the place where if you can eat a 72 oz. steak in an hour, it's free. However when i pulled into the parking lot it was packed and a line had formed out the door. It was Thanksgiving morning and i didn't feel like waiting in line for breakfast so i left.the big texan restaurant, cowboy, boot, steak, 72oz, free
I also stopped at this leaning water tower. I'm not sure why it was leaning, but i think the town did it on purpose???britten USA, leaning water tower, cross country trip
The whole day i would be on I-40 which got a little boring so i decided to see how many miles i could ride no handed. I made it 21 miles without using my hands then had to stop as i crossed into Oklahoma to take a picture. Then i rode another 28 miles no handed before having to get gas.
oklahoma state sign, motorcycle trip, cross country
I planned to camp at Foss Lake State Park for the night and as i was getting gas i talked to a guy and his wife. They said they had camped there before and suggested a good spot. Then the guy tried to give me $20 for gas and stuff. I guess i must have looked poor and dirty and couldn't afford a hotel room. Or maybe it was just a nice gesture on Thanksgiving. Anyways i said no but thanked them for the camping advice.

I rode to the lake and it was great. Camping was free and the only one other family there was in their RV. They had spots right by the lake with electricity, running water, a fire pit and picnic table. I picked the best spot by the lake, set up my tent then grabbed soap and shampoo and went for a swim/bath. The water felt like it was about 40 degrees.
foss lake free campground, rocky shore, dam, great site, road trip, free
swimming in foss lake, campground
I decided to have a fire that night and while i was collecting wood, a cat started following me. I assumed it was from the RV since they were the only other people out there.
night time visitor, stray cat, campground
When i got back to the tent i started the fire then had freeze dried lasagna with meat sauce for Thanksgiving. It was really good.fire at night at foss lake campground, site
cross country motorcycle trip, night, camping, silhouette

2,600 miles on a Honda - part 3

I stayed in Amarillo the night before so i only had 30 miles to ride to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. My plan was to get there early enough to go hiking, then camp in the canyon, which it turns out is the 2nd largest in the US after the Grand Canyon.palo duro canyon, amarillo texas, campground, grand canyonpanorama, palo duro canyon, texas, colored rocks
When i got there i still wasn't 100% sure if i wanted to camp out in 25 degree nights but after talking to some people standing by their tents who said it wasn't too bad if you have a good sleeping bag. So i went back to the main office and got a camp site to stay for the night. Long story short, they gave me a duplicate number as someone else, i had to move once for this old married couple, who were a bit snobby and almost had to move again for someone else but the park ranger straightened it all out.

I was so proud of myself at my first camp site. Finally using the knowledge from all those times watching Survivorman i made a soft insulated grass mat under my tent to sleep on.

animated gif, setting up tent

I was so proud of my first camp site
palo duro campground, site, tent, road trip
After setting everything up i went hiking in the park to look for the Lighthouse Rock, which is what Palo Duro Canyon is known for. I took a shortcut, then left the trail to climb one of the fairly steep mountains to get a better view of where i was going. I kinda got lost but i'm glad i did. I had an awesome view and saw things i never would have seen, like big horn sheep. At least i think they were big horn sheep. They were at the top of the mountain, heard me and took off, down a rocky face that would have taken me 30 minutes to get down. They were a half mile away in about 20 seconds.
lighthouse rock, palo duro canyon, texas
argali sheep, palo duro canyon, texas
view of palo duro canyon, visit, vacation, trip, texas, hike, camp
So after a few hours i finally got off the mountain and back to my camp site. That's when i had to deal with moving my tent for those people. It was a pain but i made an even better mat to sleep on and then started boiling water for dinner. Around that time is when the second family showed up and wanted me to move again. Luckily i didn't have to.

During the day the weather was great. It got up to around 75 degrees. But at night it dropped to around 25. I thought i would be the only one dumb enough to be camping out but a lot of people showed up. It was a cold night and i did hear some coyotes howling around midnight.


2,600 miles on a Honda - part 2

New Mexico border right after sunsetnew mexico state line, motorcycle ride, USA
The next day i only rode 180 miles but it was one of the longest days on the trip for me, 10 hours on the road. My first stop was at El Morrow National Monument. I wasn't sure exactly what this was at first but i was riding by so i stopped. Turns out it's basically a puddle of water at the base of a rocky cliff. Well it's a little bigger then a puddle but not much. But apparently to people 100 years ago this was the main place to stop while traveling t
o get fresh water.el morrow national monument, rocky, visit
Then a few miles later i crossed the Continental Divide. Which as we all know is the dividing line between rivers draining into either the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans. Actually i only kinda knew that, i had to google it to be sure. And yes that's snow on the other side of the road. New Mexico is cold at 7,882 feet.

continental divide, new mexico, sign, motorcycle trip, ride
Just down the mountain from the continental divide was the Bandera Volcano & Ice Caves. Let me just say that the name and billboard are way more exciting then the place really is. The volcano was a big cone shaped hole in the ground. And the ice cave was a 50 foot hole that when you walked down into, it gets cold. Let me just say, don't go out of your way to see it any time soon.
I then drove through El Malpais National Forest to I-40. It was only 2pm and i figured i could drive another 180 miles to camp at Santa Rosa State Park. 30 miles down the road that idea came to an end. The traffic on the highway was at a complete standstill. So after waiting a few minutes i rode through the cars on the dashed lines for about a mile, to where i could see the accident. Turns out that two semi trucks collided, one caught on fire and the other spilled paint all over the road. In hindsight i should have immediately crossed the median, turned around and taken route 66. But i didn't, i waited...and waited. From 2:30 to 5:00 i sat, walked around and lied down on the highway next to my bike.
motorcycle trip, stopped on the highway, traffic jam
motorcycle trip, sitting on the highway, traffic jam
When they finally cleaned up the paint it was near dark so i rode through Albuquerque and stayed at a motel. The low temp that morning was 27 degrees and the bike was running poorly from the altitude so i decided to change the spark plugs in the Comfort Inn parking lot. By the time i left it was all the way up to 35 degrees. I stopped at Santa Rosa Lake State Park off route 66. Apparently New Mexico and I have a different opinion of what should qualify as a state park. It was a lake. Not very big, just a lake. But i guess that's cause i'm from Michigan and there aren't a lot of lakes in New Mexico. I ate lunch at the Route 66 Restaurant then rode to Tucumcari where i was going to buy some $4 mexican blankets from a mexican guy, but i didn't have room on the bike.

Another 50 miles and i was at the Texas border. I thought i should wear my cowboy hat i got in Nashville to try and fit in.
texas state line, sign, highway, motorcycle ride, cross country trip
After that i had to hurry because it was almost dark and i wanted to see the Cadillac Ranch. From the pictures i thought it was tons of Cadillac cars buried half in the ground. Turns out it's only 10 but it was still really cool. I got there right at sunset and stayed for about a half an hour.
cadillac ranch, cars, stop, sunset
cadillac ranch at sunset, texas


2,600 miles on a Honda - part 1

Leaving Adam's house my odometer read 18,598.8 I was kinda nervous and thought "There's no way i'm going to be able to make it all the way back to Michigan." But less than 1 hour later i knew i made the right choice. I was driving to Globe, Arizona which is at an elevation of something like 4,000 feet above sea level. Half way there the view was amazing and i stopped to take pictures.
arizona motorcycle ride, mountains, honda motorcycle
I got really excited while riding on one of the mountain roads, i rode through a tunnel in the side of the mountain. It was the best bike ride of my life, until two days later.

I rode to Globe to visit my friend Laura who just got a job out there as a counselor for kids on the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. The next day i helped chaperon for the all day field trip to the zoo, back in Phoenix. The zoo was actually really cool, they had pretty much everything except elephants.
arizona zoo, turtle, petting
giraffe tongue, arizona zoo, feeding
The next day i was back on the bike riding to the Salt River Canyon. I didn't really notice it on the map but Laura said i would probably enjoy it. She was right. On the motorcycle it was great, with road switch-backs going right down the mountain. salt river canyon, arizona, river, great ride
That same day i made it to the Petrified Forest. I just assumed this would be old logs, that you weren't suppose to touch, lying on the ground. It was a lot better then that.
petrified forest, national park, view, trip
petrified trees, wood, petrified forest, national park, take
riding through the petrified forest, driving
I was planning on camping somewhere near the park but it was too cold and no campsites were around. So i rode east on I-40 into New Mexico.

Here's some other pictures from the first few days: