OK. I am just going to come out and say it. Driving through Kansas is really boring. It makes Nebraska and Texas look exciting. The other thing I noticed is that every now and then they have these road closed signs that are similar to a railroad crossing bar. You know, the ones that are in the up position until a train is coming, then it swings down to block the road. Well, there are a bunch of these in Kansas…and no train tracks. At first I had no idea why they would need to close the road like that. Then I realized the whole Wizard of Oz weather, Auntie Em, Auntie Em, It’s a twister! thing. I am not sure I would want to live in a state that has weather so severe that it is common to have road closed barriers at the ready. Part way through the morning I was approaching St.Francis, Kansas, and noticed a sign that said “motorcycle museum”. I don’t remember seeing this on our itinerary. But I figured I would make the turn and go check it out. When I get there, about 12 other riders are already there. This was not a planned stop but everyone else saw the sign and went to check it out, too. We come to find out that the St. Francis Motorcycle Museum had just opened at the end of May, so it was brand new, and ready for visitors. We even got to put the first City of Torrance pin on a map of the US that showed where visitors came from. So this museum was an unexpected bonus for the day and had some wonderful bikes in varied condition. And it was in the middle of nowhere Kansas. So random, but what a great find. Today, I tried to keep up with a group so I would not be alone all day. That worked out fine until after lunch. Then I made the mistake of following them on the “shorter route” to Colorado Springs, without checking that there were not enough gas stops for me. So, in order to stay on roads that had gas stations, I had to divert north, out of the way a bit, which added more time and miles to my day. Oh, well. The only bad thing was that when I was approaching Colorado Springs there was some serious weather starting to happen. I pulled over to put on my rain gear, and in no time at all there was thunder, lightning and rain. Both the kids said “Whoa!” when the thunder happened. We don’t get that too often in California. As the highway kept curving around in different directions, it kept lining me up to go straight into the rain. The last 10 minutes of the ride it was pouring, but we made it to the hotel. Have you noticed the pattern emerging where I get caught in the rain? The kids love it! I mean we rarely see rain[…]Read More
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
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.
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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
“…Lovely watching the elegant yellow Tug negotiate said twisties with precious cargo aboard, while squids launch themselves over guardrails failing at same test. This I will never forget….” George B. My husband grew up on a cattle ranch in the sand hills of Northeast Nebraska, where they grow their own corn, soy, and alfalfa to feed their cattle. He states that the best steak he has ever had is at Jocko’s Steak House in Nipomo, CA. Our motorcycle club, LABikers, tries to get up to Jocko’s once a year, and we make a 2 day trip out of it. Our group motto just happens to be ride, eat, repeat, and this trip would not disappoint. Another reason this trip was important is that we needed to “practice” with the kids to make sure all or our systems were in place and worked. We had the iPad, books, camera, new apps on the phone and iPad, and our new helmet communicators. We also needed to test out the comfort factor of the rig for all of us. This would be the first of two weekends in a row that the kids would be in the sidecar for long periods of time. We were putting the kids (and me) through sidecar bootcamp! We all met at Cactus Patch restaurant in Moorpark for breakfast. Good food and good company. For most of our friends it was the first time they saw the sidecar. Once all the tire kicking was over we hit the road. I would always be the slowest, so I took off knowing they would catch up. The quick details: Balcom Canyon, S. Mountain Rd, the 150, the 33 into Ojai for a gas stop, then continued on the 33 over the mountain, into the valley going north past Taft. Our lunch stop was the McKittrick Hotel and Penny Bar. This is one of those iconic, out of the way but totally worth the drive diners, with a bar in the back where everything is covered in pennies. The place was packed and those ladies were hopping to get all the orders out. Lots of good food and great stories where shared by all. Time to get moving! We hit the 58, did a quick loop on the 229, then eventually got on the 101 to head south to Nipomo. We made great time, so we had the chance to hit the pool and hot tub at the hotel before dinner, since or reservation was not until 7:30pm. To read more, click here:Read More
Today was going to be a great day to take part in the Southern California Ride for Kids Dual Sport. Why is that you say? Well two reasons, and both were exciting. Today’s ride was my friend Steve Squire’s first ride as the new National Campaign Manager for Ride for Kids. So a bunch of us LABikers were on hand to help support Steve as well as the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation. The second reason was rain was in the forecast!! Rain? In California? Inconceivable!! Last year at LA Barstow to Vegas banquet I had won a full Icon Raiden suit that was waterproof, so I was eager to test it out. The day started out with pancakes, and just got better from there. We really enjoyed the routes this year. The first big hill heading up the mountain has some tricky areas though from water run off. I almost ate it when my front tire got swallowed up in a big ditch. Luckily I was already standing up and had enough speed to push through it. It was foggy once we got to the top and we needed to stop and defog our goggles. No fun if you can’t see what you are doing. At the lunch stop: hot dogs, snacks, gatorade, regroup, and it started to rain. I learned that rain hitting face hurts.My first time in the rain wearing my dirt helmet. My new Icon Raiden gear worked like a charm, no leaks! The single tracks by Lake Arrowhead were perfect, especially because of the rain. We all made an agreement to go back this summer to camp and ride those trails again. Overall there were 180 folks and we raised just under $40,000 that day with an additional $6,000 that came in after the ride. To view more photos, click here:Read More