We spent the night visiting family in Nebraska and awoke to rain. Not again! It was not in the forecast, so I of course have to run outside AGAIN, to get stuff out of the sidecar and cover things up. I had even left our swimsuits out on their back patio to dry off, and those were now in the rain…oh the irony. This whole “weather” thing is kicking my butt. Since there is a bit of thunder and lightning I decide to wait out the rain, and we will boycott our mission to the family farm and head to McCook, Nebraska to rejoin the group. A little before 10am it clears up nicely (or so it seemed) and we get packed up and hustle to get going. Right as we are saying our last good byes it starts to sprinkle and the wind picks up. Time to get out of Dodge. While waiting for the rain to stop earlier, I had planned a route to take. When I got to the edge of town and turned to head West, the sky was black. I thought for about three seconds if this was a good idea, when a lighting bolt flashed in the sky many miles ahead of us. OK, then, lets go south instead. I needed to try to go in the direction of blue sky and try to stay ahead of that storm cell. As I drove south again, I noticed that I had dark sky and rain almost 270 degrees around us. I went as fast as I could, but about 20 miles later it caught us. We were driving in rain for about 20 minutes, then just like that, it was over and the rest of the way through Nebraska was sunny and hot. By the time we got to Kearney, Nebraska, it was uncomfortable hot, at about 93 degrees. The highlight of the day was going to the Great Platt River Road Archway museum in Kearney. It is a very well done museum that highlights the many ways people moved west across america. You get a headset that tells you stories and info as you walk through the museum. There are nice giant wall sized photos and lifelike displays, that chronicle Indians, settlers moving west via covered wagons, then the train, then the Lincoln Highway. I was impressed by the whole presentation. Plus the whole things spans the I-80, and you can look down on the cars as they go by. Outside there are also some nice sculptures and a giant maze that the kids ran through. We spent the night in McCook Nebraska, were we had dinner at Taco Johns for the first time ever. All I have to say is those Potato Ole’s are one of the tastiest things I have ever eaten (I am sure they are fat free and super healthy too). And the kids meal came with giant Goldfish graham crackers. Where have these been? Yum. My goal for the[…]Read More
Today was an interesting day, and we were kinda all over the place, literally and figuratively. We were traveling along the tollway I-88 out of the greater Chicago/Naperville area, and our directions had us stay on that for quite a while. I was tired of being on the interstate, so I thought I would just get off and take a smaller highway for a while. I saw a sign for the Ronald Reagan Home. OK, I was curious, plus it was about time for a break. We stopped to take a look at the boyhood home of the president who “ruled” the 80’s. It was closed on Mondays, but we got lucky as a tour bus had arrived to have a tour, so the tour guide was nice enough to say we could tag along. Boy did that air conditioning feel good. We did not have time for the video or entire tour, but it was fun to look around at some of the pictures and quotes. I don’t think the kids really cared that much about who he was…but I explained that he was president when I was in high school, and that he was elected to 2 terms, so we had a good discussion about how long someone can be president and other stuff like that. (Ha Ha! Snuck in something educational!) Our next planned stop was Fulton IL, to see an authentic Dutch working windmill. Lucky again, we walked in right when the docent was starting his talk. The kids really liked the windmill, and the museum across the street that had many to scale models of windmills. I learned that they actually had sails on windmills to catch the wind. We were also right along side the Mississippi River, about to cross over into Iowa. I quizzed the kids on what river we might be next to, and Makayla took a guess and was right. (See that, tricked them again into thinking and learning!) For lunch today, we went to McDonalds. Spencer has been bugging me the whole trip. I think I did pretty good, waiting this long. Only now we have two tiny stuffed animals that have been added to the weight I am pulling. Thank you McDonalds for the useless toys in the Happy Meal. Next stop was the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa. We sure are seeing a lot of motorcycle museums. I had no idea there were so many collections of motorcycles and motorcycle memorabilia. This place had me a bit skeptical at first because I am pretty sure it is in what used to be a grocery store. Once inside it was soon overwhelming. There was so much stuff, next to more stuff, on top of more stuff. You could either describe it as motorcycle museum heaven or hell. So much to look at: bikes, art, posters, clothing, toys, pictures, display after display. It was jam packed to the gills. Tomorrow we head into Nebraska. To view more photos, click[…]Read More
Once again I did not think to check the forecast and I woke up to rain on the window and quickly ran outside to check on the bike. My seat and the kids seat pad were wet, so I went about fixing the situation. It was also very windy. Not a good thing if I want to ever get good gas mileage. The morning was cool, so that was a nice relief from the oven blast feeling from yesterday. So today is the day that I completely break off from the group to go visit family in Nebraska. I will catch up with them Wednesday night. It took all day to go through Iowa. It is much bigger than it looks. Gone are the dense trees of the east. We are now in the plains states. Did I mention we grow a lot of corn in this country? We made the Amana Colonies our first stop this morning. We went to the visitors center, and the museum to watch a short film about the 7 colonies. This place is better suited to adults who want to look at arts and crafts and shopping. The kids weren’t really feeling it today, so we didn’t stay too long. My next mission was to find a historic bridge on the Lincoln Highway, but that turned into a wild goose chase courtesy of my GPS. I never did find the bridge. Many people have asked me “What do your kids do all day in the sidecar?” They have a variety of things they rotate through. We have an iPad and a Sony tablet (that I won on the Queen Latifa show! Ask me the story next time you see me!). They can play games, watch movies, read comic books, books, and magazines. Then we also brought some real books, including the summer reading they are required to do for school. We all have SENA helmet communicators so we can talk to each other, listen to music, or listen to the movie playing on the device. Each kid has a “Snackeez” cup and snack container, so they can drink and snack when they want to. We try to take many stretch breaks. So far they are doing pretty good. They are definitely in tight quarters, so they have their moments of bugging each other. My kids also wear helmets. I am not sure about the helmet laws inside a sidecar for each state…but for us it is helmets all the time. I also have my kids wear earplugs to cut down on the wind noise and hearing damage. (It’s bad enough they can’t “hear” me when I call them at home, I don’t want to damage their ears more.) Today was a test for all of us, as we went about 380 miles.Read More
Today was going to be a slightly longer day, about 305 miles. But we had planned on visiting another friend along the way. Spencer’s 1st grade teacher Mrs. Laniosz and her husband Tim, have a small farm outside of the Chicago area and she splits her time teaching school in CA during the year, and summers in Illinois. So we had checked with her and if it worked out we would stop by to visit. Again, the planets aligned and her place was only 30 minutes from our hotel. The morning was (I hate to say this…) more of the same. Also in my ignorance, I had no idea that the rest of the country was mostly farmland. I have been to Nebraska many times, so I am not sure what I was expecting from the neighboring states, but there is really a whole lot of nothing out there. The “big cities” have the people of course, but once you get away from them, there are just farms and small houses that dot the countryside. All I have to say is we as a nation must consume a lot of corn and corn byproducts. Literally mile after mile is nothing but corn fields. The corn currently looks like it is about six feet tall, and I do love the way the it looks as the wind moves through the fields — like waves of green water rippling and flowing back and forth. The afternoon was actually quite relaxing. The kids got to run around for a bit on Mrs. Laniosz farm, gather eggs, and play with her dog. We even went to the local ice cream place, called the Plush Horse, for some delicious homemade ice cream. While we were out, Tim washed and detailed the bike and sidecar. How amazing is that! He did not want to let me continue my drive across the country with a dirty bike. Click on the photos to view larger.Read More
On our way to the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days at Mid-Ohio Race Track we had the chance to go through a little bit of Amish country (we did see one horse and buggy in Pennsylvania). Today we saw families outside of their farm, kids driving the horse and buggy to town, and even saw a beautiful Clydesdale next to his red barn. Another beautiful drive through perfectly green farmland. My one surprise was seeing an Amish couple (I assumed) get into a car at the gas station while I was filling up. Later someone told me they might be Mennonite.
The plan for the group was to arrive together and get staged for a lap around the race track in between the regularly scheduled races. I did not know that. I assumed that we would be in a parking lot, and I would unhook the trailer before going on the track. When we got there, they led us directly to the gate and they lined us all up at the front of the “false grid”, I think they called it. Then a whole bunch of other bikes and riders start swarming around us and we get packed in. So, I guess this was happening now! When it was time, they then lined us up on the grid area, and with a pace car in front of us we all got to do 2 laps around the track. Makayla took video and Spencer took photos, and they said that was a lot of fun.
Some other highlights of the day: the kids got to watch part of a live race (we watch Motot GP on TV all the time, but they have never been to a race before). The most exciting thing was to see the Wall of Death, where motorcyclist ride a bike around a small wooden “bowl”. Both kids thought that was awesome. We walked around and got a lot of great photos of old bikes.
Today was considered a “easy rest day”, so by 1:30 we were done looking around and headed to our next stop for the night, Lima, OH.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that on the way to the hotel there was a super strong headwind, and I got horrible gas mileage. I hit reserve at only 58 mi on the odometer. I was in a section that did not have any gas stations for quite a bit…so I was crossing my fingers to make it to the next gas station. Well my luck ran out and it died about a mile before the exit. Not the best scenario but I was prepared! We had placed a small plastic gas can ( can I call it a can if it is plastic?) in the trailer, so I poured the emergency gas into the tank and got to the station. Not fun, but we survived.
To view more photos, click here: (more…)
So this morning started out fine, but it turned into a “Series of Unfortunate Events”. After breakfast I needed to do all my maintenance checks on the bike; check the tire pressure, oil, coolant, etc. The bike needed oil, so I take of the oil cap, and put it on the foot plate, or so I thought. I was distracted a few times by people talking to me, and taking pictures of the bike, and I was trying to rush to get everything done. When I go to replace the cap I can’t find it. Anywhere. I look on the ground, everywhere on the bike, inside bags, inside the tool kit. Did I kick it and send it flying off into the dirt somewhere? I spent 10 min looking for that thing, and I was borderline in panic mode because now everyone but a few have already left. I finally find it resting on the big flat metal plate/bracket that holds the sidecar to the motorcycle. So relieved yet frustrated at the same time. I finish up, go get the kids, load up the trailer with all of our stuff, get everybody ready and buttoned in…we need to go, we are late! I can’t find my phone. GRRR!! I look through everything. I even unpack the trailer to look in suitcase that has my laptop. Nothing. I go into the restaurant were we had breakfast and someone had found it and turned it into the front desk. NOW we can finally get going. I follow the GPS and start heading east as it told me to…EAST? That can’t be right. Another rider pulled up next to me and I ask her…she says she is going to a motorcycle dealer and I should be going the other way. So I pull over and check. This is what happens when you are too tired to check your route the night before, so you have an idea of what you are supposed to be doing. GPS was right, I should go east. I get to the Lincoln Highway Experience Museum right when the first group is getting on their bikes to leave. Late again! the kids and I get our gear off and immediately are interviewed by a local reporter. The museum has motorcycle shaped cookies and drinks waiting for us! The morning is looking better already. We do a quick tour of the museum, and hustle back on the road. I missed the GPS prompt for the super quick left turn, which was probably a U-turn to go west. I am now stuck on this road for 8-10 miles before I can get to another turn around or exit. UGGGGH!! I don’t need to add an extra 20 miles to my day! I finally get turned around and it starts raining. Pull over, put on rain gear, get the windows on the sidecar. I stop for gas and the kids are really hot and the rain stopped so we take the windows[…]Read More
It was tough waking up this morning. I am super tired, tried to get this posted, and both kids are still wired at night because of the time zone difference. It would be safe to say nobody wanted to get up this morning. It also takes me a little while longer to get everything loaded in the trailer and get everything situated. I have a feeling we will always be one of the last ones to get going in the morning. Maybe by San Francisco I will get it all figured out. Continuing in the westerly direction, HWY 6 was our main scenic route for us to see even more green rolling hills and farmland. I am having trouble taking pictures because there are really few places for me to pull over safely. The roads on our route are two lanes, and there is barely any shoulder to park on. In most areas, it is the size of a bicycle lane. Whenever I see something that I want to check out, it is not always safe. So I feel like I am missing out on some great photos to share. We did get to see a lot more water today, some small lakes and ponds, and a few cool bridges, alas no photos. We had a nice lunch stop in Port Alleghany, at Cabin Kitchen, before heading to Punxsutawney to see about a groundhog named Phil. The town has a bunch of groundhog sculptures painted in different colors and themes. After about 275 miles we finally got to Greensburg, PA. Tomorrow would be a shorter day, but rain was in the forecast. For more photos, click here:Read More
The first real day of riding started with a quick trip to the tire place to get the lug nuts tightened before I took off. If you are ever in Springfield MA, the guys at Tire Warehouse are great! I then realized that the only GPS route that was not loaded was today’s route, even after I spent so much time the night before checking everything. So it took me a while to get out of the Springfield area. I may or may not have take a few wrong turns going through some traffic circles. My GPS and I were not in agreement on a few things, but I finally got out of there. I was fairly certain that these delays put me about an hour behind the main group. I went west and north, following Jacob’s ladder scenic road. I am loving how lush and dense all the tree are in this area. It is like a non tropical forest/jungle. Amazing what a little bit of rain can do, right? California needs some of that! At the next gas stop I actually caught up to the last group as they were finishing up. The next battle was getting through numerous toll roads. I am certain we were quite a spectacle going through those toll booths. We finally got farther out, and we had mile after mile of curves, hills, green farmland, hay bales and more trees. I lost count of all the big red barns that dotted the rolling hills. Our lunch stop was Shirley’s Stoney Creek Restaurant, for food and ice cream. At that point I decided to break off from the planned route to make a side trip up to the south end of the Finger Lakes area. I was not expecting upstate NY to look like a “perfectly groomed” hilly version of Nebraska. Absolutely gorgeous area. I headed to Burdett, NY to visit my old friend Dr. Roberta Mann, from my days working at Torrance Memorial. She now owns a cute little restaurant in town, that she runs during the summer season. After, we said our goodbyes, it was south to Sayre, PA for a well needed dinner and shower. The kids did great, they have not started complaining, and they are reading lots of comic books on the iPad. We covered over 300 miles yesterday, but tomorrow will be less. To view more photos, click here:Read More
Many thanks to our friend Wayne, and fellow LABiker, for driving out our sidecar rig from California, and picking us up at the airport in Connecticut. We took the red eye on Sun July 3rd, and landed in CT at 5:30am. We were lucky to have breakfast followed by a 3 hour nap at Waynes’ house. Then we drove up to Springfield Massachusetts to check in for the Sister’s Centennial Ride. We had a riders meeting and got to meet all the riders who would be going all the way to California. Some had some amazing stories to tell, and one gal had heard about it the day before and signed up! We will have many members of the Van Buren family on the ride with us, and it was emotional to hear them talk about their famous relatives. The night continued with a dinner banquet, videos, more stories, press pictures, and more. And of course we can’t forget that it is 4th of July, and we had a spectacular view of the fireworks in Springfield. Tuesday morning, I awoke to see that it was raining outside, and had not covered the bike or put the windows on the sidecar. So I frantically went down to try to prevent more water getting on the leather seats, sidebags, and inside the sidecar. I did such a good job that it stopped raining. Note to self: we are not in California anymore, and other states do have rain. I will need to check the forecast more diligently. Today’s events included a visit to the Springfield museums and Andover Air Force Base. We had a great time meeting more of the Van Buren family, and having the Mayor of Springfield give a proclamation. See more about the morning here on Masslive.com. The kids and I had a fantastic time wandering through all the exhibits and museums. The kids had two favorite areas; the Milton Bradley game exhibit, and “the Scoop on Poop” exhibit in the Science Museum. Who knew poop could be so exciting? I, of course, loved looking at all the Indian Motorcycles, but I also loved all the Dr. Seuss info I learned as well as seeing the Dr. Seuss sculpture garden. After lunch we headed out to Westover AirReserve Base, I was treated to the view of Robert Pandya of Indian Motorcycles, riding the other sidecar on this journey. He is talented enough to balance his sidecar up in the air even with a passenger in it! Pretty sure my goal is to not have that happen with my sidecar. Once we got on base, we had more amazing stories from the Van Buren family as well as the female base Commander Karen Magnus. It is truly fascinating to hear how things have changed over the years and how inspiring so many of these women really are. I am surrounded by awesomeness today that is a fact! The them for today is how we really should keep our history alive,[…]Read More
Memorial Day Weekend is our annual Sierra Rally ride, that takes place with Porterville CA as our home base as we ride all the twisty in the southern Sierras. We have gone every year since 2000, but this year would be our first with the sidecar, and the first time the kids would join in the adventure! In the past we just hired a babysitter to watch them while we were out riding. This year is the 21st annual Sierra Rally. The fantastic Lorraine Aldort organizes the hotel, the catering company, and provides maps and such for all of the attendees. As I said this was our first year bringing the sidecar, and it would be the longest all of us would be on the bike, or in the sidecar. Four days of being on the road for many miles. Boot camp continues! SIERRA RALLY DAY 1: We started out on Friday morning, and because we are bad parents and pulled our kids out of school for the day. We did our usual route of eat, ride, repeat. I had to sit in morning traffic on the 405 as I unfortunately can’t lane split with the sidecar. We had breakfast at the Ranch Side Café in Sylmar. Our route loosely followed Sand Canyon- Soledad- Valley Center -Golden Valley- Plum Canyon-Bouquet- San Francisquito, then across the desert to Willow Springs, over the windmill speckled hills to Tehachapi. We made a quick stop at the world famous Tehachapi train loop, but no luck, there was no train. Next we were dodging cattle on Caliente Bodfish rd before going over the hill to Lake Isabella. Mandatory lunch stop at Nelda’s Diner. They have the most amazing milk shakes. Of course the food is good too. After lunch I had a real test of the bike going up the 155. I had to stay in 1st or 2nd gear the whole time going up the hill. It was a lot of work getting that rig with all the weight up that hill. The rest of the group left me in the dust. Unfortunately, I caught up to them when one our our riders went wide on a turn and crashed into the dirt hill. The bad news: was the forks were bent and the bike was not ridable. The good news: the land barge had just arrived and I was able to take all of the gear from 2 riders, so they could ride together the rest of the way to Porterville. SIERRA RALLY DAY 2: The plan was to go to the annual Posey BBQ and raffle, because we love the small town fun and they have a gun raffle. No kidding. Plus it would be less miles than Friday. So a win win situation. SIERRA RALLY DAY 3: Today was to be our most ambitious day. We decided to go to Kings Canyon and Cedar Grove, then go through Sequoia National Park. No matter how many times I have dropped down into Kings Canyon, it remains[…]Read More