8 Ball In The Wind

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Planning a Big Ride

Have you ever started out planning some big ride, with just your destination as the only sure thing about the run?  Then as time goes on you start thinking about other places along the way you’d like to check out.  Even if it’s just for an hour or so to be able to get a good stretch, and see something you’ve always wanted to see.  Well, that’s kind of what I am dealing with now.

I have a ride to Chicago I am planning for next summer.  That was originally going to be the only set place.  Ride there the fastest, shortest way.  Then I could spend a little extra time with family I haven’t seen since the mid 70’s.  But as time went on, I started looking at the map, and seeing some places I have long wanted to go just off the main road.  Besides, long freeway based trips tend to bore the Hell out of me.

So, instead of making a hard 2 day ride on Interstate 90, I will be taking a more leisurely pace along a few other roads.  The plan is to head east from here in Morton on US Highway 12.  Easy enough, since US-12 is only about a three block ride from my house.  I’ll be heading east on US-12 then climbing up and over 4,500 ft White Pass. 

The eastern half of Washington state lies on top of several layers of basalt that are several hundred feet thick.  And where rivers and Ice Age glaciers carved away the rock, it brings to mind old western movies.  It is along two of these rivers, The Columbia and the Snake, that I plan on riding into Idaho.  Hopefully the damage from this year’s fires will have had a chance to recover in both eastern Washington and Idaho.

After crossing the Snake River into Idaho at Lewiston, I’ll have to make a short side trip to ride the Spiral Highway (probably my favorite road in the Pacific Northwest) once or twice before heading east again.  Still staying on US-12, riding up into the mountains and onto one of the best stretches of motorcycle road in the country.  

I just have to remember to top off my fuel tanks in Kooskia.  Because there isn’t another gas station that I know of until you get to the Lolo/Missoula area.  That’s close to 150 miles. That may not seem like too far; but it is mostly on a climbing, twisting, remote mountain highway.  So, I am planning on carrying an extra can of gasoline bungied tightly onto the back of Gypsy Rose.

I had a photo that a friend emailed me from US-12 going up Lolo Pass.  I loved that image.  All it showed was a close up of a highway sign.  I am sure you have probably seen one just like it a zillion times.  Just the normal “S” curve sign.  The part I liked, was the little sign below it that read; “NEXT 60 MILES”.  In the background you could see the road disappearing around a curve, with nothing but tree covered hills as far in the background as you could focus.

The plan calls for an over night stay in Lewiston.  Then riding up over Lolo Pass to Missoula, MT.  From there, jumping onto the freeway to make-up a little time before stopping at the Little Bighorn Battlefield Monument.  Then onto Sturgis and Deadwood to find a nice quiet place to camp for the night.

So far, that is the extent of the plan for this trip to Chicago.  When my brother Ed and I reach Chicago, I have a few things planned (gotta catch a CUBS home game at Wrigley field), but not a lot more planned on the trip itself.  The basic route is laid out.  Going from South Dakota through Minnesota to Milwaukee (Hmmm, isn’t there some big motorcycle museum or something there?) and then down to Chicago.  The route back is totally up in the air.  I think at last count I had four different ways back.  Including just hitting the freeway the whole way back (OK, all together now…”BORING!!”).  Some of the possible sights on the way back are; Glenwood Canyon and Glenwood Springs, Colorado (where Doc Holiday is buried), the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, Dinosaur Nat’l Monument, Glacier Nat’l Park, the Bonneville Salt Flats.  At this point who knows which way we’ll be coming back.

The whole purpose for this trip is to be a warm-up  run for a trip I want to take in 2014 or 2015.  I have never been through the deep South, and my old ship is in Lake Charles, LA.  So I could go walk her decks again, see some friends outside of ‘Nawlins’ face to face, and keep heading east.  The primary destination is  the Smokeout in Rockingham, NC.  

Once again, the itinerary on the way back is going to be very flexible.  Outside of laying some flowers  at the Reiman Auditorium in Nashville (hey, to me it is Hallowed Ground, and a MAJOR ‘bucket list’ item) I haven’t a clue which way I’ll be going.  Just going to focus on one thing at a time here. 

First things first as they say.  I want to ride back into Chicago to take my Dad’s ashes home.  I also want to ride the streets where motorcycling first got into my family’s genetic code.  It’s been roughly three score and 15 years since my forefathers began riding Harleys, Indians, Hendersons, Excelsiors, and God only knows what else along the streets of Chicago’s ‘South Side’.  That’s what this ride will be truly about for me.  Not just taking Dad home, but connecting with my history in a deeply personal way.  I honestly think that my Uncle Marty will be smiling down on Ed and I when we ride our Harley’s up to his gravesite and pay our respects, and bring his brother home.  I just hope my straight pipes don’t wake the dead.

Catch ya on the road sometime…

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