Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hottest winter ever!

Here's a video I put together to show the drive from Denver to Phoenix. I was absolutely amazed by the mountains. You can probably tell by how I freaked out in this video.

The scenery and weather made for the best road-trip I've ever had. When I was a kid there was a summer trip out west that was hotter than hot and spent in the back seat with a toddler. Winter + Riding Shotgun = Perfect.

Last time on Something Mean...

The last thing you knew was that we had an issue with a wheel and would need a few days in Phoenix before we could leave. Three days turned in to seven days. Woweee! After spending nearly a week in Denver and a week in Phoenix it's nice to be on the road again. Let me bring you up to speed.

This is the part where Cody should tell the story.

Parts of trucks that I've never heard of needed to be replaced. Cody would be able to describe it better than I can but it's not really important. The important thing to know is that the part that was ordered didn't fit and it wasn't really needed and we could have fixed it way sooner and saved money. In the end it worked out well... I think? Cody took control of the situation and dealt with all the stress while I worked relaxed and worked on videos. I felt useless but there really wasn't anything I could do to help.

This is the part where tear up the desert, some dessert and this vacation gets more "vacationy".

It was stressful and disheartening BUT we landed in the PERFECT spot to be broke down. Jon and Deb are the coolest parents any of my friends have. Jon has a lot of stories about riding motorcycles from coast to coast and from his experience as a Marine. Deb knows how to cook, loves to cook, and loves to feed people. We love to eat and to be entertained so that worked out very well. They reassured us that we weren't a burden and that having people around was a good thing. We felt bad but if we were getting to be a pain then they'd let us know and we could go sleep in the desert. That didn't ever need to happen but we did get out of the house to enjoy the weather. The desert is probably the best thing I've ever seen and makes for the best off-road riding I've ever done. My abilities are still newbie level but if I get the chance to ride more trails like that I will get better faster than I would if I was in Iowa on those roads.

Our first stress-relieving ride was up to Squaw Peak just a few miles from the house.
The peak is something you have to hike to and some jail bait was eyeballing us. Our plans didn't include hiking so we drove around looking for roads to the top. We found a nice neighborhood with a great view.

Excellent view, right?

Would you believe I found a Shoshone arrowhead?

Well, you probably shouldn't because it was just a rock with a similar shape. It's just a bad habit of mine to pick up a rock and claim it's an arrowhead. Sorry.

Some nice ladies took photos for us so it didn't always look like we weren't traveling as a pair.

This image is supposed to be animated but I don't know if it's going to work but it still proves we were both up there.

Here's the unedited video of the best riding of the week. There was more from before and after this but this was THE BEST.

At some point during the weekend we ended up at a bar called Chopper John's. We walked in to see a cover band all dressed up as hair rockers . They played some very popular songs but not a single White Snake song. Not a big deal. We sat down for a stress-relieving, good night. There was a very nice IPA on tap that I can't remember the name of or the brewery it was produced in. It was good. That's all you need to know. Wild Turkey was $5.50 for a single-shot. Ehh.. no good. Did I mention one of the bartenders was only wearing a tank top, underwear and shoes? She rides a Harley with a suicide-clutch so I guess that makes her a bad-ass. I wanted to road recommendations from her because we were told she's a nice young lady but she was more of an attention-whoring skank. Someday I'll tell you what I really think of her. I did what any man would do: ignore her after she stopped giving out useful information and then be given her phone number after forgetting she exists. At first I felt like the luckiest guy in the bar but later I realized I was just ANOTHER guy in watering hole were she fishes for attention. I called her the next day to talk more about riding. She wanted to drink and watch the Super Bowl (more like "Stupid Bowl", amirite?). I wanted to ride. We stopped by later after a ride and saw her daily sad display of clothing choice and horde of old men and tatted and pierced biker wannabes fawning over her vulgar behavior. Eh..who would compete to be near that? we left. I missed Iowa and Iowan girls.

A place I marked as "Cactus Mountain" on my GPS.

You can't really tell but we had to ride some switchbacks to get to this place. It was somewhere between 200-300 feet up from the level of the road that brought us to the base. Pretty neat. I have video of that too but I can't find it right now but it will make it into a compilation of riding after the trip is over.

I think we put about 400 miles on the bikes during the week and it really helped out with reaching the goals we had set for the trip. Those goals: Ride motorcycles as much as possible and get to Salem, Oregon.

After full days of riding we had nights of hot meals and sitting back having some laughs. I'm not kidding about hot meals every night. We were told when dinner would be served and that if we wanted warm food we needed to be back on time. We wouldn't miss it for anything so we were never late. Spaghetti with extra sausage, burgers, biscuits and gravy, STEAK, macaroni and cheese and each night we had side dishes and a dessert prepared by a neighbor, Wendy, they feed. I say macaroni and cheese and you instantly think of that Kraft crap. Nope. Not from Deb. She had blocks of cheese that she grated to make the sauce. I'm pretty sure there was more than one kind of cheese.

With dessert we also got a few jokes and on the last night we got a little show by Wendy and her two tiny harmonicas. She has toured with the USO and has been involved with show-business her whole life. She likes to bake and sometimes wants the food to be a different color so we had green cheesecake one night and regular-colored banana creme on another.

I really should have made sure to take a picture of each meal so I wouldn't forget all the deliciousness but the important thing is that not one meal was standard in any way and I learned a new use for bacon fat. Put that all over potatoes before you bake them and you will love it. Baked beans are better when you season them with your own ingredients and throw some bacon on top when baking them, finish the bacon off in a French Oven and add it back in before serving. We ate a meal where not ONE thing could be eaten by a vegetarian. I almost soiled the dinner by talking about vegetarian food but caught my error before making it. A mistake I do regret is that there were leftovers of those beans. I feel I failed you, Deb. I have been taught the magical-bean way so I know I'll get to enjoy that flavor sooner than later. You give a man some beans and you feed him for a day, etc. I wasn't asked to help with cooking but I did get to do some dishes so I didn't feel like a total leech.

Ride, eat, chill, ride, eat, chill. It was a nice cycle but we both wanted to be on the road because nothing feels better than putting as many miles between yourself and Iowa as possible.

This is the part where we left Phoenix and starting missing it.

Everything was ready with the truck so we were off. Within 30 minutes we could see the haziness blocking the view of the mountains. California has always sounded nice but after hearing about it from a California native it began to sound like a soul sucking wasteland. The over-population and unchecked "environmentalism" acting as the characters in nightmares made me want to avoid California at all costs but we soon discovered that there are some very wonderful aspects to being in this state. This story will continue when I feel like it. I hope the next entry I write is less like a shotgun loaded with words shot at the internet and more like the collection of daily log of events, notes and ideas I intended this to be.

For now please enjoy this teaser.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Colrado, Utah, Arizona.

Holy crap! We left Iowa a week ago! We've made it to Arizona sooner AND later than expected. Plans changed then changed again so people's expectations of when/where we'll be may have been shattered. Sorry. The trip gets to be more difficult as we go on because we are discovering new options as we go. Also it's very difficult to find time to write now that we're west of Denver. The scenery is too good to miss because I'm staring at a computer screen and I won't allow it. Wireless connections are becoming less frequent so here's a long update.

This is the part were we leave Colorado and burn some miles.

Yesterday and today combine into a big ol' blur. We woke up fairly early yesterday and had our stuff packed and on the road by 9. We drove around town a bit and stopped by a sporting goods store to check out the goods. I bought a new head lamp because the one I've been using for the past 10 years doesn't get as bright as it used to and we got some tips about Moab from the guy at the register.

Making it farther on 70 than we did the day before was our number one goal. The view of the mountains just got better and better. Here's the view from near the Broadway Ave. exit, the road I rode up and down several times the day before.

This neat-o pair of bridges was a little farther down the road.

We stopped a few times to geek out over the river flowing near the road. It's weird to see it flow in that direction. Check out the river and the first tunnel we passed through.

The ride through the mountains was the best time I've had on the rode so far. Those mountains are as overwhelming as Cody said the would be. I freaked out many times. Those tunnels really had me excited. You go speeding through that thing and it looks like Space Mountain at Disney World. The transition from the darkness and low ceilings into a limitless sky and snow covered mountains had me freaking out. See for yourself. I think I invented a few new words because of those tunnels and mountains.

Remember Randy's suggestion about taking the Cisco exit? It was worth it. Check out the bright red mountains in that area. The sun was setting on them and the colors were intensified by the low sun. Holding our hands out the window for even a few minutes was pretty rough. Worth it, indeed.

This is the part where we learn how clouds are made.

It was colder than tolerable for camping and there wasn't a lot of wood around so we decided to keep on the road. At some point in the night Cody decided to pull over and sleep in the bed of the truck. He passed my sleeping pad and bag up to me and I found a nice spot on the ground next to the truck. The traffic kept me up for a little while but I slept pretty well until the temperature dropped to around 30 degrees. Thirty minutes later we were back on the road and headed for Arizona. Maybe we were already in Arizona.

My view of my camp site for the night. Good thing I didn't set up my tent, right? I may have stayed warm enough to sleep longer and I would have been protected from poisonous snakes and insects. Those don't exist in the desert anyway, right?

We were probably up at 5 AM because of the cold and had a long drive before getting to the Grand Canyon. The sun was starting to rise so we didn't have enough time to get far into the park when we would have had the best lighting. It was also still fairly cold but the sun felt good. We found a huge whole in the ground before getting to the grand part of the Grand Canyon. My pictures of that part turned out pretty bad because I was running while taking them. Lesson learned: if you're going to run and want pictures then just get a video and grab screenshots out of that. Maybe Cody has better photos to share of that part?

It was cold and we wanted to get moving. 20 miles to go until getting to the biggest hole in the world so cruised to it as fast as legally possible and discussed how stupid it is that there's a $25 fee to get into the park. $2.50 seems more reasonable. But hey, they have to keep people employed there to make sure no one fills in the canyon with trash, right? It was our "lucky" day! The pay station was closed so we just continued to the top.

That is the biggest hole I've seen in my entire life.

Oops. Old habits die hard.

I won't post the video I recorded but sometime when I have nothing better to do I will include it in a video montage of acting unimpressed by really cool things.

That's such an awesome park and I really want to ride the motorcycle there sometime. I bet you all think we're just such lame dudes for not riding there. If they had dirt roads there then it would have been awesome but why get the bikes out just to ride a paved surface? We can do that somewhere else.

There was a guy working on some construction project for their tower at one of the viewing areas who talked to us for a while. He went from helpful and interesting to tin-foil hat sales man all in five minutes. He was replacing 55 windows on the tower and it's taken him a year and a half. Wow. That's why the charge $25 to get in? So they can waste it renovations that should take less than a month? Cool. We asked what time zone we were in and he didn't seem to confident about his answer and explained that Arizona doesn't celebrate daylight savings time. No biggie. When asked what time it was he also said he didn't wear a watch because they are obsolete. I suppose that's why his project is taking so long. He has no way to keep track of his hours and that's the least of his concerns.

He pointed at the clouds and started on about how the straight clouds are from airplanes. Yep. With you on that one, buddy.

"The other clouds in the sky look like real clouds but are actually emissions from planes."

Alright, maybe that's true. I don't know. I have better things to do than analyze clouds all day. Then he takes a step farther away from what I consider to be reality.

"They contain all kinds of chemicals to prevent global warming. They just tell you that it's vapor but it's not just water. There's barium and aluminum in there too".

Maybe that's true but I really wanted to twirl my finger around my ear while saying "cuckoo". The tower didn't open for an hour. Neither of us said much on the way to the truck but we both decided that hanging out with Alex Jones back there wouldn't be much fun.

We saw other stuff instead.

Wow.. Look at that view!

We pull over and I recognized the mountains on this can.

What's with beer cans and places of natural beauty?

Oh man! The first cactus I've seen in the wild!

I discovered a hole.

Cody thought it might be fun to fall down into it and have a rock land on my arm but I didn't have my knife on me so cutting my own arm off wasn't really an option. "127 Hours" reference there for you movie lovers.

A skateboard would have been about the coolest thing to have right here.

Then we left the Grand Canyon and never looked back.

This is the part where we find a place where we want to ride.

Cody has been wanting a picture in front of an elevation sign for a while. I like that idea and we decided it would be worth while to pull over for one.

Flagstaff was one part cool, one part trashy, and one part garbage. I'm really sorry if anyone is reading this is from Flagstaff but not because I'm worried you're offended. It's because the land there is BEAUTIFUL and how are people treating it? Thre are way too many spots on the road where we full bags off garbage emptied out right into the street. The place just seemed dumpy. Plus you got this jerk roaming around your town, getting photos of himself in front of your signs.

It's about 130 miles from Flagstaff to Phoenix so we hit the road after getting some gas and some coffee. COdy reports the coffee there is absolutely horrible. There was a Starbucks off of the next exist. Doh! The view between the two cities was spectacular. I'm pretty sure I was too busy gawking to get something recorded. Cody? Got something good for that area? The signs at a rest stop indicated the presense of poisonous snakes and insects. My favorites! Well, I suppose there's a video I could post but it's pretty stupid. I played spot the cactus along the way. There were cactii scattered all along the side of the road. Also, there was a lot more garbage too. Perfectly good trash was just thrown out into the road. Jeez, kids these days.

We talked about going to Sedona because of some good riding but we also had heard that the town has a reputation for being all new age and weird. Healing crystals and vortex nonsense is listed right on the front page of the city's website. Lol, wat?

One reason for stopping at the rest stop was to get some of that pretty WIFI (pronounced "wiffy") and look up the number for our hosts for the evening. Crap. No WIFI. So we mess with transferring photos and get back on the road. The rest of the ride into Phoenix became much cooler. The copper-colored moutains became visible again and the elevation dropped nearly a mile within 70 miles. That's a pretty nice slop, aye? Oh.. speaking of "aye"! We met some Canadians at the rest stop and they were very nice. They've never seen the movie, Canadian Bacon. Go figure. They don't like American movies about Canada. Gee, I wonder why?

Guess what started making a noise again? Yeah! That wheel on the front left? How'd you ever guess that. I'm impressed with Cody for not getting too visibly irritated by these occurances. Without knowing a whole hell of a lot about cars I probably would be furious.

The desert visible from I-17 was amazing. Cactii as far as the eye could see, GORGEOUS mountains and the coolest was Sunset...something. I can't remember the second word in the name but I could tell it was named for the obvious reason. Watching a sunset there would be worth the drive from anywhere in the country. We could also see dirt trails in the valley and spotted a few trucks with trailers attached. The ramps on the trailers were down so we could only assume some people were out there doing what we wanted to do. They sure as hell weren't mowing any lawns down there.

We continued on after deciding to locate an open wireless network closer to the city, to pick up some decent coffee and to locate a brake shop. The Starbucks drive-through window was infested with bees and the networks were not letting me connect for some reason. I really should have brought that hi-gain, 2 amp USB wireless card/antennae. With the decent cell reception I just used Cody's phone to check my email to get our hosts, Jon and Deb, number and address. We were parked only 3.5 miles away so we didn't have to go far. We hoped to park and then get out and ride but we immediately enjoyed meeting Jon and Deb who are my friends parents. Their daughter, Megan saw that I had posted on the ol' Facebook about needing a place to crash in Arizona so she recommended that I stay there and that she would be jealous of me for getting to eat her mom's cooking. Yep, start feeling Jealous, Megan. That spaghetti was AWESOME! Jon talked to Cody and I for a while and we heard some wild stories of some long trips he had taken on motorcycles. I now see why choppers are so cool. Jon also gave us motorcycle riding guide from last year that highlights recommended routes in each state. Why haven't I seen these guides before? It's chock-full of good information. Jon is going to hunt feral hogs with a spear. If it's okay with him I'll post a picture of him with the spear so you don't think I'm making this up. I'm much too tired to make that up.

Jon and Deb know a local mechanic and had apparently called him to ask if he could help with the tire. Just before dinner is ready he shows up and is ready to work on it! How awesome is that? Cody was outside helping for a while and we had called them in for dinner but they weren't interested at the time so we started without them. I felt guilty for starting without Cody because I knew he was probably pretty hungry. The delicious spaghetti and sauced loaded with meat had defeated the guilt and I snapped a few photos.

Half-way through my first bowl of blurry spaghetti.

Cody's empty chair and bowl.

What a sad sight.

After dinner I started writing this but I decided it would be more fun to sit in the man-cave with the other guys. More interesting conversation and talking about guns. Did you know there's a class you can take that's sponsored by the NRA and the army that upon completion gets you a FREE M1 Grand? I know a 12 year-old who would just love to do that. Maybe when I go back to Iowa we can both go take that class and get our free rifle!

We're staying in Megan's old room and I really like the paintings she has on her walls. The goat one is really nice. Tonight I get to sleep in a bed instead of on the snake-infested ground! Woooot! In other good news: the tire gets some more work done to fix it and we get to riiiiiiiide!!!!! Where's it going to be? Tomb Stone is highly recommended so don't be surprised if that's what we do. TOMBSTONE!

This is the part where I go to bed and try to sleep even though I'm really excited.

Nothing to report for this section. Good night.

This the part where it's 24 hours later after writing the rest of that stuff

Here's a short summary of the day: breakfast, chill, truck tire, F&*@, S#&$, D@)%, check out a mountain, get gawked at by girls who are too young to be gawking at grizzled old men like us, pizza.

Final result: Staying three more nights in Phoenix. Will explain later.

Beautiful day, crazy night.

After a night of fun in Denver we woke up and unloaded those bikes. Cody, Blake and Anita were headed for The Garden of the Gods and I set out for Denver to pick up Mariam on the way to my uncle Stephen's for lunch. Riding I-25 north was a pretty good time even though all the cars on the road were doing 75 it was a good time. I was poking along at 60-65 because my new tires are probably still a little slick from being new and there's no need to consume more fuel just to arrive too early. Also the new front sprocket is to increase my first gear performance so at 75 MPH my tachometer is about 1200 RPMs away from the red line. It was good to see Mariam having appropriate gear on and having dread-locked woman in a leather jacket on the back. I don't always haul someone around on my bike but when I do they're not ugly. She made fun of me for always wearing so much gear/ATGATT(All The Gear All The Time) but also using headphones. The music isn't so loud that I can't hear traffic so it's all good. Rock N' Roll makes me a better driver.

I hadn't seen my uncle since my brother's funeral and we didn't really have much time to catch up then. It had been about 10 years since we saw each other before that at my mom's wedding and I don't remember talking for that long. Before that was when I lived with him in Virginia for a few months. Those were some good times back then. It really was more fun than I thought it was at the time. So it was really cool to meet his family and have a nice lunch while talking about the world, traveling and recent shenanigans.

Mariam had a good time meeting some new people that I had told her about several times. They became friends pretty quick and might be getting together in the future for more hang outs. It's always nice when my friends and family like each other. Riding at night is not my favorite thing to do in the world so we set out for Denver so I'd have enough time to get back to Castle Rock before sundown. We followed Stephen's car to the highway. Just before taking the exit I had to switch lanes at the last minute. The person behind me honked and I was flipping her off as I watched Stephen wave goodbye. I don't doubt being a jackass. We had enough time to cruise around downtown Denver and by the state capitol. The fourth capitol builing I've seen in a week looked pretty much like every other one I've seen. It was a rad day and I have some pictures but I don't have permission yet from anyone to post photos or videos so you'll just have to believe it happened.

When I dropped off Mariam I went up to her apartment to hang out with the new kitten and had some tea. Her wheat allergy prevents her from being able to drink whiskey and tequila so I got a half bottle of each donated to our mission. Thanks Mariam!

That night we enjoyed a few cigars and I had some of that tequila. It was 100% agave and I shared some with a bonified tequila expert. He approved and gave me a cigar from his private collection. Tequila on ice and a cigar? Yum. The cigar shop has a nice lounge in the back and Blake's buddies were all in there puffing away. There was a sports ball game playing.

Cody puffed and made a bunch of flame.

We told them about our trip and the Red Rocket and showed off the video. No one has ever seen that video and said it wasn't cool. The shop was closing and Randy was encouraging us to go to "The Dirty" to play some pool. Blake used our lack of knowledge about the town to lead us to believe it was a shady place and that fights break out easily but it would be alright because he was packing heat. Needless to say, I was mortified. It's not a roadtrip without a little danger, right?

"Let's go! This sounds awesome.", said the tequila in my system.

The Dirty was turned out to be the oldest bar in town and was exempt from the non-smoking lawas in the state. Nice. Blake is a prankster and was just messing with us about the shadiness of the place. The patrons were pumping the jukebox full of techno and dance music. That didn't strike me as being too hardcore and everyone was friendly. I even ran into an Iowan from Mason City that knows a friend of mine, Corey, who I met in Ames.

Randy and Cody discussed routes to take when we leave. He was adamant about avoiding New Mexico. His suggestion was to take the Cisco exit and go south through Moab. Something we both wanted to see so it was an easy decision. We made that the plan and I informed my cousin in Albuquerque we wouldn't be passign through. Maybe on the way back.

"New Mexico is a world of pain." The best Randy quote of the night.

We wrote down all of his suggestions on a beer coaster as he listed them off.

See? Right there at the bottom. It's upside down but it says "New Mexico = World of pain."

After leaving the bar we went back to the house, hung out for a bit then we were all ready for bed.

In the morning I was the first up so I made a huge pan of scrambled eggs, baked some bacon and cooked a few pounds of potato, caramelized onions and celery in the left over bacon fat. That meal absolutely destroyed me. It was way to much for me to handle and lethargy made me temporarily stupid and lazy. Cody wanted to get up and ride and I wasn't quite ready to even think about moving about. He explained his frustration that I got to ride the day before without him and he explained why it was stupid that I didn't feel like riding. He was absolutely correct and I felt really selfish. It wasn't fair and I was trying to say it would be fine with me if he went for a ride on his own. Dumb idea. Just plain stupid. That's not as much fun and it defeats the purpose of traveling with someone. This soured both our moods and we both were unsure of what was going to happen. I started to pack up all my things in case we were going to leave for Utah. At the same time I was also getting ready for a ride. The entire hour was pretty silent for both of us and I was feeling better and really hoping we'd go for a ride even though I messed up the mood.

"Wanna go check out Devil's Head?", I finally said.


"I'm going to need gas".

Cody let me empty his gas can into mine but it was only enough to get there and back. I'd still need some just for exploring. We hit up a gas station and I topped mine off. Cody was on the phone for a bit so I rode a few laps around him and the pump. 0.4 miles of laps to be exact. As soon as I had a full tank and a few minutes to look at those mountains I became instantly excited and extremely happy. I stopped, pulled up my face shield and then apologized for being a grade-A bastard. We said a few things, we bashed fists and then we were good again. I pointed at my wrist where I normally have a wrist watch with a smiley face instead of a clock face drawn on my hand and said from now on I would write "Ride" their. The priority of this isn't fun. It's to ride. If we ride then fun is guaranteed. He seemed pleased. I hope making this apology shows how sincere I am about that. Sometimes I have to be reminded of how much fun can be had by not being a lazy ass. Taylor has done this for me far too many times and I always have thanked her for it. I hope.

Let the fun begin! Let's see that mountain!

For the next 15 minutes we had an amazing view of the mountain, curvy roads, warm weather and clear skies. Nothing can ever be perfect though. Never. As we're entering the on-ramp to I-70 West I notice Cody looking back and to the right towards the ground. I look at his rear tire and notice it's flapping around, flat style. Balls. Balls. Balls. We pull over and start pulling out tools.

I had everything I needed for a tire change on mine but Cody left his in the truck and my tool kit doesn't include a bolt in the size he needed. My spare rear tube also wasn't the right size but it would have worked if it were an emergency IF we had a way to loosen that axle bolt. I even had a tube repair kit that would have worked in that case. I also can't find where I packed my hand pump so it wasn't with me for the ride. If anyone I stayed with in the last month happens to find a nice hand pump with an inline pressure gauge please let me know. I will pay you to ship it to me. That sucker is nice.

We look over the fence and see a nice surprise. Check out when we pulled over.

NICE! A tire shop! So we head over there to see if there's anything they can do for us. There said there was nothing they could do for us because they don't work on motorcycle tires. Fine. There's a Target just down the street from there so Cody ran over there to get a pump and some of that green tire goo stuff. It didn't work. He thought maybe it needed higher pressure air. I decided to finish the previous night's cigar while Cody was away but I forgot my lighter and headed over to the tire place to see if I could borrow one for a minute. As I walked over there I realized I could just ask to borrow a socket of the right size and we could fix it right there and continue on. NOPE! They claimed that they don't work on metric anything. I bet not every bolt on a car tire is standard. Jerks.

Cody fired up the GPS to locate a gas station so he could try using the compressed air to force the goo into the hole. He walked it along the highway to the gas station on the other side of the tire shop while I rode down to Broadway Ave., took a right, and another right on County Line Road and followed that up to a block short of University Street where I found Cody pumping air into his flat tire. The goo was just coming out as fast as it went in. The nice lady working the register happened to be from Iowa so she was very nice and let us borrow a phone book to track down a number for a motorcycle parts store that is too stupid to put their phone number or hours on their website. As I was walking up with the number I heard Cody talking to a place that was open and that had a tube in the right size. It was about 13 miles away and is called Performance Powersports. The plan was to pay for the stuff over the phone while I rode to the shop to pick it up and return with the parts. He also asked if they had some tire levers that have the right sized wrench for the axles on the other end. So If went to get back on Broadway Avenue through Littleton right past South Park, the area the show is named after. I didn't stop to look at it just like I wouldn't stop while flipping through channels if the show was on.

The store was pretty awesome and a guy named Keith showed me around the store while I recorded a short video that I could use to show Cody later. After looking around for five minutes I was back on the street returning with the parts. The complete trip took an hour and was around 25 miles total. When I showed Cody the parts he realized that they had sold him and extra front tube and the tire levers/wrenches he wanted was just a double-sided wrench. Ooops. Those fools misunderstood his clear description of what he wanted. Not a big deal really as it's still something he could use. I have tire levers but it's not really a bad idea for everyone to have their own. He finished the tube change in around 30 minutes and we decided to make the most of the little light we had left to go back to Performance Powersports so Cody could check it out.

Here's the video for that ride See if you can spot the lady that tried to kill me. It happens within the first 2 minutes of the ride. This sort of horrible driving happens all the time and that's why I ALWAYS look both ways and I love recording every ride so I have evidence I could use in court if I needed to.

They are selling GoPro 2 cameras for $10 cheaper than most stores. He bought one! Wooooot! Now we both have one of those suckers and we'll be recording everything from two perspectives from now on. The store has a lot of cool stuff and some good deals. There's a dual-sport helmet there for $130. Not bad. I might pick one of those up in the future because my helmet is better for highway riding where you don't really want a lot of wind getting in.

Check out all the tires!

It was getting dark so we booked it back to Castle Rock on I-25 south. This gave Cody his first opportunity to legally ride at 80 MPH. Want to see? Not much took at because it was really dark out. I switched out my shaded visor for the clear one that has a lot of scratches in it. It wasn't connected correctly so I tried to ride with it up a lot. What a pain in the ass. Night riding really isn't cool. Tomorrow I'm going to work on making that better by fixing the headlight that shines on the ground as opposed to directly into the rear view mirrors of whoever is in front of me.

Here's video of the way back. At some point in this video there's a guy who nearly turns right into Cody from a red light. We made him feel pretty bad for it and he pulled up several times to apologize.

When we got back everyone was feeling pretty tired so we hung out for a bit before we said some mini-goodbyes and planned to do a full goodbye in the morning. We were up too early in the morning to see Anita and Blake so we wrote them a thank you note. I quoted a White Snake song and drew a picture of someone launching a rocket.

Farewell, Denver area, you're a very nice place. Maybe I'll be back!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Why we were in Colorado for so long.

We arrived on Thursday night. It's Monday now. You have probably read about most of our first day and know how much fun we had. It only got better. Where were we? REI, Cabrini, dune buggy. That's not even the whole night is it? Wow.. let's get started. Put on some tunes and some coffee because we might be up late.

We have stay for so long for several reasons. The weather and our hosts have been amazing. Blake and Anita have been so fun, interesting and generous. They also love having people visit from out of state. They have several guest rooms and a shared bathroom so Cody and I each get a bed and our own sink. The bed... oh man. It's sooo nice to sleep on a bed after spending a month on couches. I didn't shower the first night here so I just slept on top of the sheet under my less than silky smooth wool blanket. I guess I can't sleep without some kind of discomfort. Like the times when I used to sleep halfway wedged between the bed and a wall.

Now that we're about ready to leave the state I figure it's time to fill every one in with what we've been up to.


Since I already wrote enough about that morning and afternoon we'll skip to the evening. On the way down from Cabrini it became clear that the front-left brake on the truck was not happy. We got a quote from Brakes Plus and then started to roll towards Castle Rock when we saw that dune buggy and stopped for pictures. On the way back to Castle Rock we discussed hauling the bikes into Denver so we could ride around while they worked on the brakes. Less than 3 miles away from our temporary home we noticed another Brakes Plus. Who knew Brakes Plus is a huge franchise and there's one on almost every block? We had the brakes fixed while we looked around at an organic grocery store. They must have been in a rush to get them done by the time the store closed because the brake was still making weird noises. It's a different weird noise but still, that's not cool. We followed one of the employees for about two miles in complete silence. Honestly, I was a little afraid that I was about to get involved in something. It was probably just a coincidence we followed the guy for so long and no one got hurt.

Dinner time! Cody made chicken alfredo and bow-tie pasta. Look at it.

It was better than it looks because in real life it was not blurry.

After dinner I believe we just sat around watching TV and doing internet things. I also write on a forum that is specifically for people who travel with motorcycles. Even though we're not riding the whole way there we still have them and ride as much as we can. For the rest of the night I brought everyone on that site up to speed about what's going on. It's really important to keep that up to date because more people read that than this and we're hoping riders in other areas will try to contact us to go for rides.


This is the first time we took the bikes off the trailer so far.

I should have put the straps in a better place so it they wouldn't crack my fairing.

We got these things out so we could go for a ride after helping a neighbor with a chore. This is cool. Don't skip this. Blake and Anita's friend, Scott, displays some interesting holiday lighting. A custom made steel christmas tree in his yard requires several people get it taken down. Here are a few images of the piece we moved.

The guy in orange there is Scott. The guy taking the picture accidentally got a glove in the way of the lens so I removed it as much as I felt like. It's good enough.

So.. Christmas lights, huh? I know what you're thinking. You're wrong. Please watch this video from his site. It is from 2009 and it's exactly what Christmas lights should be used for.

Dueling Banjos - RockinChristmas 2009 in HD from RockinChristmas on Vimeo.

Check out the rest of his videos on his website. His newer decorations are incredible. The tree we helped to move can even scroll some text in a while spiraling up the tree. Just check out something recent to see that in action. If we got here just a week sooner then we could have seen it live.

After completing our daily chore it was time to hit the road on the bikes! YAaaa HOOO! Maybe you just want to watch the ride instead of me typing at you about it? Ah.. crap. I'm going to do both.

There are some occasions in the video where just stop and maybe we can't be heard that well. Cody's brand speedometer cable for his GPS got caught on the tire and was shredded so it stopped working on a road that is notorious for speed traps. The sun was getting low soon anyway so we turned around and headed back.

Most people really don't want to watch a video of riding and I understand that. It's kind of boring when you're not really doing it but there are exciting moments that I would combine into a compilation video with some sweet tunes to make it interesting. My laptop just isn't fast enough to handle that. So those videos will have to wait until I get my desktop computer shipped out to Oregon. What I will try to do is log the time of a cool spot in a video so people can skip straight to it if they want. Skip to 18:39 to see a comparison of how we turn around. I go very slow and keep the bike very vertical. Cody, on the other hand, always does this other thing that I REEALLY need to learn.

After the ride we called up my friend from high school and arranged to meet at a trendy little restaurant downtown in Denver. It's a vegetarian place that a contact of mine wanted to meet at. Three of us all got there late and he got there earlier when the line was too long so we didn't end up getting to meet. Oh well, I probably will be back in the area again some time and it would have been for only a short while because I would rather hang out with Mariam for a few hours and get to catch up since we hadn't seen each other in probably three years.

Recently I found out she used to ride a Virago. That's a pretty big bike for a girl her size. She crashed it one night at a low enough speed to not get seriously injured and then decided it would be good to take the safety class. It paid off well. She's now on a more reasonable sized machine for a beginner and has learned that much of what her first "instructor" taught her was most likely wrong. She's getting skilled and tired of the small 250cc and is looking for something that can go over 55 MPH. I'm going to keep pressuring her into getting a dualsport. Why not have one when the mountains are so close? We've talked before about riding together when I was going to be coming through town in the summer but never did. If that did happen I would have been by myself unless a friend from Missouri had decided to go with. All this talking and no eating? Where's my food?

Oh.. what a lovely plate of blurry slop.

That right there, is a glorified pancake. It's called a savory crepe and it's the first one I've ever tried. The best part was when I hit the flavor hidden under the crepe.

"Ginger!" Is what I said when I tasted it.

Cody pretended(?) to be offended by my words until I apologized. I didn't need to be involved in a fist-fight in the middle of such a seemingly nice place. Our server overheard most of our conversation. How could she not? I was having a few "loud mouth soups" on an empty stomach and I am not known for my silence.

"What kind of motorcycle do you have?"

"A Kawasaki KLR650. It's a dual-sport."

After explaining what that is she seemed a little disappointed and said something along the lines of "Well, I only like riding on Harley's." Whatever it was that she said, I took as an insult for not riding what someone else thinks I should ride.

I was quick to respond with "I don't friggin' care what you like to ride. I'm the one riding it. Also, I don't want to constantly be doing maintenance and chrome polishing." I'm putting this in here because Cody thought it was hilarious. She was a nice girl but I think I took that statement the wrong way and I'm a little sensitive about people asking what I ride and then being told they prefer some thing else. Well, WHOOP DE DOO!! It's like asking someone what kind of lunch they had and then telling them they should have eaten a grilled cheese sandwich because it's what you prefer. White bread and American cheese. Yum. Sorry, lady, if you're reading this. I don't know if I got your name but you're alright. I'm just a sensitive and mean spirited jerk who doesn't like people who don't like exactly the same things I like. Her friend is traveling from Denver to Austin (or somewhere else in dumb, old Texas). We laughed and mocked him for being so brave to endure such nice weather conditions on the super-slab. For the 10 hours it takes to get there.

Here's the gal

These blurry photos are really making me want to sell something and pick up a nice camera like Taylor has. Why ruin your memories because of some slop?

When the restaurant closed we went to a bar/coffee shop and sat around a while longer talking. At 1 AM I noticed Cody and Mariam both yawning. They said they weren't bored but very tired after long days. I was bummed to have to leave and maybe someday when I stop staying up until 4 AM every night then it won't be so bad.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Castle Rock, CO

How long has it been since I've slept on a bed? A month at least. I slept in the top of the bed so I didn't mess up the sheets. My scratchy wool blanket has become so familiar to my beard that I just can't feel right about sleeping if I don't have it over me. "Home" is a funny word. Home used to be where I lived with my family. Home used to be where I kept all my things. Then Home became the objects I consistently sleep with.

Moving on...

After waking up to the universal smell of breakfast I go downstairs and see this.

Cody made some dang breakfast. It was so bacony and delicious. After breakfast I took a shower for the first time in three days. Thank, Uncle Joe, for the advice on showering.
The plan for the day was to get a lock for the truck's rear window so people can't steal our possessions and to see the city. Seeing the city consisted of shopping in motorcycle stores and REI. We also went up into some hills to see a monument of some variety. It was a statue of a saint or a nun or some such, I don't know but it was a cool place to be. The 30 mile drive to Denver took us past some cool sights as well. Enjoy the photos! More story after the pictures.

Cody was taking a picture of himself with his tasty breakfast.

We ate breakfast like any house full of nerds would.

After breakfast we were bummed to see that it was snowing while we drove to Denver.

This was whilst getting a new lock for a window.

Yaaaaaaaawn. Can we go already?!!!?!?!?!

Yes!! We left and went straight to several motorcycles stores!

Cody stood in front of that big dumb bridge so I could take photo for you all.

REI has some cool stuff indeed. We resisted the urge to buy anything.

These photos speak for themselves again.

We met the owner of this cool car.

I would post every picture I took but it's hard to say which images people want to see. I suppose I'll just put a link to the album and you can look through if you would like. If there's a picture you see that you want more explanation for then just leave a comment here. This will be the easiest way to handle this.

The gallery of images is located here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Kansas City to Castle rock, CO

Where did we leave off yesterday? I think I was writing from the road about the day.

Crossing into Missouri felt splendid. It was the first time I've left Iowa for over a year. Cody's feet were farther ahead in the truck than mine so he beat me to the sign that said "Leaving Iowa". His face may have been first to leave Iowa but my face was farther ahead, out the window going into Missouri. Not that it's a race but it's noteworthy. It's not hard to be amused by simple shenanigans in the midwest.

Of course the first thing we notice about Missouri is the huge fireworks store. If we had thought ahead we would have pulled over to grab some illegal (in most states) fireworks for when we're out in the middle of no where, USA. Oh well. There will be other hazardous materials to play with elsewhere. Later on the road I saw an organic bulk food store that also sells firearms. Neat!

Rolling into Kansas City was a pretty nice sight. The sun was setting behind those big dumb buildings. We're just not used to scenery like this. Well, I'm not. I'm impressed by large objects that are visible for miles (foreshadowing?). Keith's friend bailed on the climbing for the night so we replanned the GPS to take us to his new house. After getting the tour of his house we headed to Price Chopper for some grub. Price Chopper is a grocery store similar to Hy-Vee but instead of being employed by high school students they emply recovering meth addicts. Would you believe that? I hope so because that's what my perception of the situation was. Three separate cashiers asked for my discount code. That's not something I have so I was charges full price. Big deal. Cody's in the other lane going through the same ordeal and his cashier turns around to ask if he can use my code.

"Nah, lady, "I don't have a code." She ends up asking Keith for his and Cody saves $1.20 on his supplies. Nice!

My deteriorating drivers lincense was almost denied and my receading hairline was not proof enough of my age for a tasty tobacco treat.

What's the point in writing about these slightly odd social situations? It seemed slightly funny and odd at the time plus we've got 367 miles to go before we hit Denver. What else have I got to do?

Back at Keith's house we start up our devices in need of downloaded updates and recharged devices. We start up the grill and get some brats cooking. Sometime in there we ate some extremely hot sauce and Cody got some in his eye. If he wasn't blinded by the capsacin he would have hit me for laughing at his pain.

"I'll hit both of you!"
"Not you Keith, I mean both Johnnys." Cody was having some pepper induced double vision. I've blinded myself too many times to not laugh at a guy for doing the same.

Since we missed out on gettng fireworks we asked where we could pick some up. Keith had the answer. He had everything we needed. See that red and yellow tube? That's a flare. It shoots hundreds of feet into the air and is visible up to thirty miles away.



Like I said previously, Keith is an experienced adventurer and apparently had been on an African safari since I had seen. He showed us pictures of a cheetah that jumped 15 feet up into a tree as they approached it in the Jeep. The cheetah stared at them through the open roof while growling. Keith growled back. No regard, I say, no regard for his own safety. I love it.

Post dinner hiking along a railroad track was much needed after a day of sitting on ass, counting miles. The bridges and streams were maybe 30 feet beneath us. A church had this dealy of there. I didn't get a picture of the wall of rock that I fell onto because the poorly placed lead pipe. Some kind of cactus jumped out and attacked Keith with a thousand tiny spikes.

Back into the safety of his home, we planned our next few days while checking out sweet pictures of Joshua Tree and Zion National park. We'd like to see both but we'll have to see what happens. The Grand Canyon looks absolutely amazing and we're goignt to see it while it's mostly vacant. Good. We don't want to be around a bunch of fools anyway.

Remember back on Tuesday when we came to the agreement to skip Colorado and hit the southern warmth as soon as possible? That was reverted because of the prospects of places to stay in Oklahoma. The weather may have been nice but it would add an extra day in an area that has nothing worth seeing that we know off. We don't know people there and it would have added miles we don't need to endure. I'm glad we're going to Denver because we both know people in that area and in the end it's going to make for a better story no matter what happens. There is also the possbility of getting to use a cabin for a few days. That's about 30 miles south of Denver and would make a pretty good place to keep the truck while we take the bikes out for a ride. Finally, we feel like we're getting into the part of trip we set out to do. Ride, explore and see the mountains.

The tentative plan is to enjoy Colorado for a few days and then head south to the heat and explore. We're still looking for a place to stay in New Mexico but I'm hoping one of my cousins will be willing to hang out and give us some guidance for our adventure. It's always good to ask the locals. After leaving NM, we'll spend a few days exploring Arizona. There are too many things to do there to only spend the minimum amount of time passing through on an interstate. There are several options for places to stay but I'm leaning towards meeting my friend's girlfriend's parents. Her step-dad rides motorcycles so maybe we'll have a nice crew of people to roll around with....if they have dual sports :^)

We just stopped for gas in Hays, KS. There was a Wal-Mart so we stopped for that dual 12-volt adapter so now we're cruising with GPS and good tunes. The radio stations around here are horrible. If it's not pop-country or religious talk radio then it's the same Katy Perry song over and over. I picked up some sliced roast beef and Jarlsburg cheese to go with my wheat French bread and apples. Yummmmm. Cody got some sun-dried tomato turkey breast and cheddar to go with his mayonaisse.

Our contact for the day called back and confirmed we can stay at their house for the night. There are several couches to choose from but also three spare bedrooms. Dinner and libations provided as well. I gotta say that so far we've been extremely lucky to have hospitable friends to act as hosts for our sweet ride. Let's hope we can keep that going.

After cresting a hill we had our first glimpse at those mountains. Simply incredible. It has been far too long since I've seen something that far away in the distance. Large objects that area far away are fascinating, remember?

Arrived in Castle Rock about an hour ago and we were received by our wonderful hosts and a hot meal ready to go. Too much pulled pork is never enough. How many salted chocolate covered caramels did I eat? Three too many. I can tell this is going to be an awesome weekend. We're starting to hear back from a lot of people about getting together to hang out and have some mini-adventures around here.

I'm about done with nerding it up with this computer. It's time upload photos in no particular order.