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Day 12: Garden of the Gods and Cripple Creek
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Day 11: Pikes Peak
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Day 10: McCook NE to Colorado Springs CO
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Day 9:The Midwest Weather is a Fickle Thing…
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Day 7: Naperville IL to Cedar Rapids IA
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What do they do all day?
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Day 6: Lima, OH to Naperville, IL
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AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days
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Day 4: The Lemony Snicket Morning
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Sayre, PA to Greensburg, PA

Day 12: Garden of the Gods and Cripple Creek

I’m taking a break from a long write-up since I am falling behind.  I rode Frank’s bike around and he piloted the sidecar rig while we hit more beautiful scenery near Colorado Springs. Here is what we did today: 1. Garden of the Gods: Fantastic modern Visitors Center with many interactive displays in large touch screen form. The kids loved this place. The views and the short drive were stunning.  I would love to come back here to go camping and hiking. 2. Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument:  Another great visitors center with lots of fun kids stuff, lots of cool fossils, and petrified trees.  We did not have time to do everything. 3. Had lunch in a casino at the historic mining town of Cripple Creek. Cute little town with a really steep main street, and old-fashioned looking buildings. To view more photos, click here: 

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Day 11: Pikes Peak

Frank planned some vacation days to join us on the last part of the ride, and he met us in Colorado Springs last night. Today was a get up early kind of day. Today was an epic adventure kind of day. Today was the group ride up to the top of Pikes Peak. The night before it had rained as we were driving up to Colorado Springs CO. We were all cozy in our hotel not realizing what was going on up in the mountains above us. We dragged the kids out of bed, had an early breakfast and got on the road to go to the staging area (parking lot) just outside of the entrance to go up Pikes Peak. We ditched the trailer at the hotel so I would have less weight to pull. Two new day riders joined us for the day on 1940’s Indians.  I was impressed with the bikes, but would be more impressed when they got to the top. It was a beautiful, sunny, but cool morning.  We knew it was going to be really cold at the top, so we had many layers on to be prepared for the drop in temps as we rose in altitude. We had also had many warnings about altitude sickness, so last night we made sure to drink plenty of fluids.  The signs are headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue or general malaise, and the only “cure” for altitude sickness is to go back down the mountain. So up we went, this motley crew of old and young, new bikes, vintage bikes, veteran riders and newbies, to conquer 14,114 ft of mountain.  The road became more and more winding and the turns got tighter and steeper.  Unfortunately, two riders collided on a turn and went down in a sharp right hander, which ended in one rider with a broken wrist. Others were already tending to the accident, and waved the group on to continue. Little by little we gained altitude, and we left the evergreen trees and rose into the alpine layer. The road became a zig zag course of extremely tight U-turn type of turns that required me to really muscle the rig around. Then the ride got interesting as there was snow on the ground, quite a bit, and the road was wet as the snow was already melting from the morning sun. We continued up when all of a sudden the flow of cars and bikes in front of us came to a stop. The road was closed due to snow.  NO!!! Was this how today was going to end? We would be denied the top of the mountain because of snow? We all pulled over and shut down. We heard rumors that they were clearing the road with a snow plow, but no word on how long it would be. Some of us stayed to wait, but little by little some of the ladies on bikes decided to head back down. We took a quick[…]

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Day 10: McCook NE to Colorado Springs CO

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[…]

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Day 9:The Midwest Weather is a Fickle Thing…

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[…]

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Day 7: Naperville IL to Cedar Rapids IA

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[…]

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What do they do all day?

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.

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Day 6: Lima, OH to Naperville, IL

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.  

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AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days

sisters ride ridersOn 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.

DSC09650-1024x683-psThe 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.

wall of deathSome 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…)

Day 4: The Lemony Snicket Morning

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[…]

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Sayre, PA to Greensburg, PA

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: 

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