Monday, August 29, 2016

Bro Ride 2016 Mississippi Headwaters

It is with a Bro Ride report that I will begin to write more on my blog.  My brother TJH and I took off this year for the Mississippi Headwaters.  We debated about going to Canada or to the Headwaters and I'm glad we didn't go to Canada.  The main reason is that it would have taken longer to get to Canada and we were pushing it to get home as it was with the slightly shorter trip.
I left home at 7:18 am, met Tom in Lily Lake, Illinois and we headed due West on State Highway 64 to Savanna, Illinois.  We arrived at Poopy's in Savanna at around 3 pm for lunch.  Poopy's is a great place to eat with good reasonably priced food, but reading the menu might turn your stomach.  Unfortunately they stay with the poopy theme and take it a bit too far.  Anyway, they have good service, great food and if you are interested in buying a biker hangout, it's for sale.
We pushed on and rode the Great River Road through the beautiful Iowa countryside all the way up to Dubuque, IA.  If you love beautiful rolling hills, pristine dairy and grain farms this is a ride you won't want to miss.
We crossed over the Mississippi River at Dubuque and then rode up the Wisconsin side all the way to Onalaska, Wisconsin.  All states probably mark the Great River Road to some degree but I Wisconsin does the best of the northern states.  They left no doubt in your mind which way the Great River Road was heading.  I appreciate that since I have a tendency to stop watching for signs due to the distractions of great scenery. 
The farther we went North the more interesting the terrain became.  We saw some amazing rocky hills that supposedly used to be islands many years ago.  Now they stand towering above the road like fortresses.  We didn't stop much, only for gas and we didn't even stop at the Dickeyville Grotto, a place our family has visited for years.  I honked and waved on our way past but not even the new Holy Spirit Park could coax me or my brother off the road. 
After about 12 or 13 hours on the road we stopped for the night.  Dairy Queen got the honors of the evening meal and we crashed at the Onalaska Motel.  It was clean, the lady at the front desk was like a mother hen for travelers.  She let us park our bikes underneath the awning just to keep any rain or dew off of them.
Next morning we were off early to the Headwaters.  I was leading the way and while I got turned around a bit in the construction around Minneapolis/St. Paul, and having to stop and put on our rain gear, we finally made it to Lake Itasca where the Mississippi River has its beginnings.  It was not a disappointment even though it is a low key attraction. One of the best parts was they have a live camera feed at the headwaters so you can share your vacation moment with your favorite people back home.  TJH called my wife, MKH, and we talked to her and waved while she watched us on her computer.  We laughed and laughed at this novelty. 
It's funny how on the way through Minnesota I kept noticing all these quaint little ma and pa motor lodges that would be nice to stay at for the night.  On our way back, we didn't see any such thing.  They all disappeared or turned their lights out and we kept riding and riding until about 9:30 pm.  That's later than we like to ride.  I kept thinking I was going to run into the back of my brother because we both were scanning the roadside looking for a motel.  We finally stopped at a Comfort Inn and Suites.  Ha.  That was way too nice and expensive for the kind of place we usually stay.  We were however able to talk down the price some and the girl at the front desk finally gave in and let us park our bikes under the big drive through awning for the night.  It was a good thing too because it rained and actually we had to set out in the rain.  Continued in Part 2.


Thursday, February 04, 2016

Does this thing still work?

It's been a long time since I've blogged.  People stopped reading and I stopped writing.  Here I am again. 
I am here posting one of my favorite pictures of last year just to see if this thing still works.  This was taken in Venice as we were going back to our cruiseliner.  We had been caught in the rain earlier, and after the storm ended the sun came out and we were bathed in the most glorious light.  Here is a shot from the back of the ferry.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Poopy, Crapo, Bro Ride 2013

Yes, this year the Bro Ride was a Poopy Crapo, ride but that doesn't mean what you might think.  We decided to ride part of the Great River Road (GRR) which for us began in Quincy, IL on the eastern side of the Mighty Mississippi.   Back and forth we went from Illinois to Iowa and back again, then on to Wisconsin and Iowa and back to Wisconsin and Iowa and Illinois again.  Altogether we crossed 7 bridges over the Mississippi and even floated down river for 15 minutes or so....on a ferry, of course.
The plan was to meet in Havana, IL to see mom and dad and then head on out for this year's ride.  My brother had a few destinations in mind and they seemed good to me so off we went.
First on the list was Poopy's Bar and Restaurant in Savannah, IL but before we got there we had to go through Crapo Park. TJH was in the lead and I was happily following behind when we pulled into a park and my brother stopped and looked at his phone and said that we were in Crapo Park.  I looked around and saw trees and bushes and grass, a perfectly nice little park.  What do you mean Crapo Park?  He said we apparently had to go through Crapo Park.  I said, "Crapo Park?"  And he said, "That's the name of the park, Crapo Park." I believed him but I had to see it for myself and take a picture.  Sure enough there it was, and here's the picture.
We never made it to Poopy's that night because a thunder storm, complete with lightning and rain stood right in our way with about 45 minutes of riding daylight left.  Bummer.  So instead of eating at Poopy's we holed up at a Comfort Motel in Fulton, IL and ordered in pizza and tacos from Manny's.  I don't know what Manny's does with their tacos but they were outstandingly greasy and delicious.
The storm blew over that night and the next morning we took off on the GRR.  The timing wasn't right to go to Poopy's now so we figured we'd catch it on the way back.  Our main destination that day was the Grotto at the Holy Ghost Park in Dickeyville, Wisconsin.

I remember the grotto from my childhood days 40 or 50 years ago.  It hasn't changed a bit.  As a child I was somewhat of a rock hound and I can remember that I always wanted to break off some of the grotto and take it home.
After the Grotto we decided to go looking for a Macho Man hamburger at New Diggings Saloon.

This is a great burger made from cattle sired by the bull named Macho Man.  Tasty.  Their apple pie with ice cream was good too.  I would tell you how to get to New Diggings, but I can't. You just have to wander around the Wisconsin countryside until you find it.  The best I can do is say that you should follow Highway 11 east, which should turn into W, or maybe it's the other way around.  It's a very friendly place.  We got there at noon on Friday and we were the only customers there.  The New Diggings General Store would be another place to visit but it didn't open until 3 pm  .... really....3 pm.
Now we were bent on getting to the ferry, mainly because I've never been on a ferry with a bike before and I thought it would be fun.   We crossed over the Mississippi at Dubuque and rode along some of the best scenic roads that we found in Iowa.
We finally saw a little sign that said "Cassville Ferry" by a dirt road.  I didn't think there was any way that could be the road for the ferry.  It was.  We crept down this dirt and gravel road on the river bottom land, sort of a backwater looking place, for about a mile.  I expected to hear banjo music at any moment.  Finally we came to the riverbank, an outhouse and an electrical box. This seemed like a great place to be ambushed, but we pushed the button to call the ferry and within 5 minutes the ferry came around the bend.  We loaded up the bikes, enjoyed the view, and saw two bald eagles sitting on a branch over the river.  It was worth the $8 for the trip.

By now we realized that we'd better head back toward Savannah or we would never make it to Poopy's for dinner that night.  We rolled in to Poopy's and I'll admit I was a tiny bit apprehensive.
Poopy's is known as a biker bar and restaurant.  I ride a motorcycle but I don't consider myself to be a biker, per se.  I didn't know if people would be crushing beer cans on their head or breaking things or what.  We walked in and the first sight we saw was about 50 senior citizens who had apparently turned out for the Friday night fish special.  There was a younger group at the bar.  We had the chicken striips, coffee, clam chowder and a baked potato for $11 each.  The chicken strips dipped in the "Poopy Sauce" was the best meal we had on the trip.  Funny thing was, the place was very crowded but when we walked out to the parking lot my brother pointed out that ours were the only two bikes.  The rest were all "cages".
It got dark on us so we made a bee line for my brother's place back in Dekalb, IL, and I took the long way home the next day through Streator, IL.  I had a great breakfast at Chippers Grill, saw some dear friends, visited a buddy's shop,
ate lunch at The Good Table Restaurant in Kentland, IN
and made it back to Indy in time to take my wife out for dinner.
I traveled a total of 1,127 miles, didn't eat at any chain restaurants and only indulged my sweet tooth in one ice cream shop.

 We have another great Bro Ride under out belt and are dreaming about next year.  The best part of the trip was seeing our parents, two of God's greatest
masterpieces.  We are very fortunate to have had such good parents who love Jesus and serve Him faithfully every day.  They are great examples to us and their love never runs dry.

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Friday, September 06, 2013

Steer Inn Diner 2013

All year I have been trying to get over to the Steer Inn Diner on the east side of Indy for their Vintage Bike Night.  I always like to show off my vintage 75 GL1000 but there have been problems...real and imagined.  There were weather problems, too hot or too cold, too rainy, too much like a tornado on the way.  Then there were problem with logistics such as we were having company or we were out of town.  After all since this event is held every month I could always put off going until next month.  Finally the day came when the Goldilocks Effect was in full force...everything was "just right." 

So MKH and I hopped on my 75 Honda Goldwing and made the trip to the East side.  I think I hit every pothole and manhole cover on Washington Street and believe me there were a lot of them.  My eyes must need to be checked because I would be squinting to try to read the street signs and then I'd hit a pothole.  There were a couple of them that I thought were going to bend the rims on my bike.

It was rewarding to pull into the parking lot and see about 100 bikes with their proud owners filling up all the available space in this little diner which was featured in an episode of Dives, Diners and Drive-Ins.

My wife and I both had the Steer Burger, which was a half a pound of beef on a bun.  MKH had the fries and I had the onion rings.  The onion rings were a little too done but the burger more than made up for it.

We saw a dozen or so from the Taco Tuesday crowd that meets in Brownsburg, IN every Tuesday night.  They had some of the nicest bikes there.  I had a chance to snap these pictures before they all took off in a puff of smoke.  I hope to make it back to the Steer Inn Diner in October.  Besides checking out the bikes I think I'll sample their meatloaf dinner.

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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pop Dreyer Ride 2013 Indianapolis

For the past several years I've been hearing about the Pop Dreyer Ride which is organized by Dreyer Honda in Indianapolis.  This year was the first year the planets aligned, rain stayed away, schedules permitted, etc. so that I could attend.  I paid my $20 plus three cans of food for a local food pantry and got more than my money's worth.

I rode my 1975 Honda GL1000 figuring it would be somewhat of an insult to show up on my 2012 Harley Street Bob to a ride sponsored by a Honda dealership.  Not so. There were all kinds of bikes and the day was more a celebration of motorcycles and riders than brand name loyalty.  

The pulled pork lunch with lots of sides was outstanding.  Combine that with some generous little touches such as checking and airing up the tires on all the bikes, a free tire gauge and kickstand plate.  Then throw in a police escorted ride through Indy and you have a great day. It's always fun to run all the stoplights and stop signs in town.  But that's not all.  Nosing around Dreyer's shop and warehouse was rewarded with seeing some of the old bikes tucked away in spots where customers don't usually have access. Dreyer's is the oldest Honda dealership in the country.

Oh, yeah, and then there was this other little perk thrown in.  The police escort led us to the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We watched for ten minutes or so while the pros were practicing for the Moto GP which will take place in a few days.  Once they got the track cleared off we all had a chance to take a lap around the track.  Wow, what a cool experience to see the track while riding on the track instead of sitting in the bleachers.  Coming down the straightaway with the grandstands on both sides I was struck with a very strong sense of place that no picture could capture.

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

naked bike luggage

If you've read very many of my posts you know I have a preference for naked bikes.  My Harley Strreet Bob and vintage 75 GL1000 are naked most of the time but sometimes there's just no getting around it, you have to carry something.  Maybe it's your lunch that you're taking to work, or maybe it's a couple of things the significant other needs from the grocery store, or parts from the dealership.  What do you use to carry stuff and still keep the sleek naked look?

When my only bike was my Honda I got by for a long time just putting things in the shelter.  The shelter is a small space inside the faux gas tank.  It is handy for a lunch, a few papers or odds and ends.  When I started going on long trips with my brother, I bought a small Tourmaster bag with built in bungee cords that would attach to the back half of the seat.  I would go for 4 days or so and if it didn't fit in that bag it didn't go.  The nice thing about that little bag is at the end of the day I would just unhook the bungee cords in 10 seconds and carry it into the motel.

I travel light when I'm on the motorcycle.  I also pack clothes to wear that are mostly worn out so at the end of the day I just throw them away.

The Harley Street Bob was a different story.  There was no faux tank to stash my stuff in the Harley.  I rode it for quite awhile before I finally gave in and bought and installed a luggage rack to my Harley.  It's small.  It's black.  It isn't very noticeable, and it works pretty well.  I bought another Tourmaster bag that had a profile that fit the Harley better than the bag I use with my GL1000.  Even though this bag is small it still holds enough for a 4 day trip.  If I really need to I can stack the two bags on top of each other and the bungee cords hold nicely.  They both have a rain cover that work perfectly.

I have a third bag that I use quite a bit with the Harley.  It's a tank bag with magnets that hold securely.  This fits nicely on the tank and it even has a clear plastic compartment that allows me to write out a list of the highways I want to take on my trips and I can stay on course with a quick glance to see what junction is coming up next. More often though I use the tank bag on my daily commute.  Its magnets hold tight to the luggage rack in back and is just the right size for my lunch and a few papers or a book.
You have to carry things from time to time but the best thing about these bags is that when you don't want them cluttering up the look of the bike you can just take them off and you have a naked bike again.

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Friday, July 19, 2013

Vintage Goldwing rally in PA

I attended my first Naked Goldwing Bike rally and despite some of the wings being fully clothed it was still a lot of fun.  The rally was in PA and my son AMH and his family lives in Eastern Ohio so it was a great chance to see his family, attend the rally and get out of town with MKH for a few days.

We loaded my 1975 naked Goldwing into the back of the truck and away we went. Putting the bike in the back of the truck is always a hassle but in many ways I prefer that to putting it on a trailer, mainly because it seems more secure.

All my gear came out for the trip and I took off through Eastern Ohio to my destination near Cook Forest and Vowinckle PA.  I'll have to say that traveling the back roads of Eastern Ohio was beautiful.  Entering PA really got my attention because there was a huge bump in the road that felt like it destroyed my kidneys.

The next thing I noticed was that PA must have a lot of money because they were reconstructing every road I took. Just the money they spent on detour signs must have been astronomical.  So much for my carefully planned route.  I just kept saying to myself, keep going North and East.  Five hours is not too bad for a three hour trip but hey, it was beautiful and I had some wonderful accommodations waiting for me.

I had a cabin all to myself, in fact I had all the cabins to myself since no one else in my club rented one.  They were all in motels that had trivial things like air conditioning and swimming pools for the 90 plus degree days and nights.  Who needs air and pools?  I had two fans.  And notice in the picture, I had a clothes line, a pretty blue tarp on my roof, an overhang to park my bike under and two lovely rustic blue plastic chairs with tremendous patina.  You can't get that just anywhere.  

I also basked in the glory of a deer head hanging on the wall and lovely fruit decals on the beams.  "Wipe your feet" was written in magic marker on the threshold and who doesn't need to be reminded of that?

Really, the bed was comfortable and I slept well once I stopped sweating.  I woke up thinking that something was nibbling on my toes but it was probably just a bad dream.  I took a quick check out the window each of the four times I woke up in the middle of the night to make sure my bike was still there.  It was.  The shadows from the moonlight shining on the trees was quite lovely in fact.

The two fans ran all night and I'm sure this place was as nice as any blast furnace in the country.
Nearly thirty vintage Goldwings were lined up at our various stops.

It was great to see all those bikes looking so good and still in such wonderful shape after 30 plus years.  I felt secure that no matter what happened to my bike there would be someone there who could fix it whether I could or not.


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