Monday, January 21, 2013

Last Ride of 2012 And First Ride of 2013

It was a kind of spur of the moment idea to ride across most of the country to attend a lunch gathering.  On December 26, 2012 we woke up very early to get a good start on our ride for the day.  My throat was scratchy and I didn't feel well but darn, I wanted to ride.  I stocked up on cold medicine, popped a couple of DayQuil and off we went.  We started the morning ride at 6:00 am with SNOW!  Yup, it was snowing lightly but not sticking to the ground.  As a matter of fact, it snowed all the way from home to Las Vegas!  Not sticking but certainly snowing.  Thank goodness for heated gear and grips.  We easily made it to Tucson, AZ.  Our route for the day was I-15 to Hiway 95 then south to CA 62 which took us to Parker, AZ.  From there is was back on Hiway 95 south to I-10.  We then took AZ 85 south to I-8 (to avoid going through Phoenix).  I-8 merges back onto I-10 where we found our hotel in Tucson.  The low for the day was 28 and the high was 60.

I really didn't want to be riding after dark, so we planned the trip to ride between 500 and 600 miles per day.  That meant 4 days of riding to reach our destination and be on time for lunch. The return trip was much more leisurely.

Day 2 started early with the temperature pegging 29 and me taking more cold medicine.  Now it was going to be a slog across the country on I-10.  I kept my heated jacket and grips on all day.  I was surprised at how big El Paso, TX was.  I'd never been there.  After riding through the big city the speed limit went up to 80, whoopee!  High temperature for the day was 61.  We stopped in Fort Stockton, TX for the night.

Day 3 we left Fort Stockton at a balmy 44 degrees but it soon turned cold to the tune of 28 degrees for quite a while, Brrrrrrrr!!!!!  Really glad I have the heated gear.  The high today was 72 which lasted all of 5 minutes :-)  Then back down to about 53 with a strong side wind from San Antonio until our arrival at Beaumont, TX.  We took a break at Junction, TX.

We conveniently missed a big rain storm, yipee!  Tucked into a very nice Best Western for the night.  I took more cold medicine.

Day 4 found us leaving Beaumont, TX at 8:00 am with the temperature at 34 with a light wind.  It stayed cold most of the day, never getting above 50.  Yup, still real happy about the heated gear!  Uneventful slog on the I-10 and I-35 and finally I-12 and I-65 to our destination.  We had an interesting experience in Houston.  We were in the HOV lane moving along nicely when it spit us out in the heart of downtown.  I mean right in the center of flippin downtown.  The signs said HOV lane to downtown but I didn't think it would actually force us off the freeway.  Hahahaha.  Of course Greta Garmin went crazy.  We wound our way through some detours due to road construction and Eric got us back on the interstate in the right direction.  We both had a good laugh about that.  Things got intense again around Baton Rouge, LA with thick traffic and aggressive drivers but we managed to get through it all unscathed.  One of our rest stops --

This is the visitor center just as you enter Mississippi from Louisiana on I-10.  It's well worth a stop and look see.  This is what we found there.

That was fun!  We arrived at our host hotel in Bay Minette, AL to find a number of riders already here and more pulling up behind us.  Tomorrow is the big event!

We spent some time visiting with the folks who had arrived and then tucked into bed.  Still slugging cold medicine and telling myself I feel just fine :-)

Day 5 we rode the grueling 10 or so miles to Stockton, AL at around 10 am or so.   We made it - Stagecoach, Last Ride of the Year, Ride to Eat in Stockton, Alabama!  It was absolutely fantastic.  Tons of folks riding everything you can imagine.  Met up with some old friends and made some new ones.  We were tickled to surprise John Harrison #203, host of the Stagecoach RTE, with our arrival.  You see, we'd kept our destination a secret in case we didn't make it.  So it was a total surprise!

We met Ray Fagan, the originator of the Stagecoach RTE and saw his new "project".
 Eric and I were the winners of the Longest Distance award at 2,172 miles!  That was way cool.  And, hey, my bike didn't misbehave once.  She ran like a champ, imagine that!  No tow trucks required :-)
 Here are some random shots of the many, many, many bikes and folks that were there.  All makes and models spanning decades.  All wonderful peeps!
 Vintage bikes and new bikes.  All kinds of bikes!

 Here is a favorite photo.  Mr. Harrison is presenting the award for the oldest rider and its........Dick Meyer at a young 80.  I first met Dick in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada at the end of my first long distance ride - Three Flags in 2009.  I then saw him again in Alaska at Hyderseek in 2010.  He rides a Goldwing and is the bomb!!!  I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to see him at Stagecoach, he really gets around.
Shane Huseman had the oldest bike, a restored 1949 Harley Davidson Panhead with fishtail pipes that has been in his family for over 40 years.  Wow!
 Although I didn't take any pictures, I should mention the food.  Oh, yes, the food.  It was fantabulous!  Good, Southern, home cookin served buffet style.  Comfort food.  I needed that as I was still swilling cold medicine.  The folks at Stagecoach handled the crowd with ease, smiling the entire time.  We ate our fill and then went back outside to mingle and gawk at the bikes and riders.  Estimates are between 500 and 600 bikes were there.  The biggest RTE I've attended for sure :-)

Here is another favorite photo, Eric and me with John Ryan (The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing) and Dick Meyer.  Gosh, it's kind of cool rubbing elbows with riding legends :-)
Yup, I was a happy camper.  We made it to Stagecoach RTE, surprised a few folks and had a fantastic time.  The smile says it all!

We left the RTE shortly after noon and headed to Florida.  Heck, we've already ridden across most of the US and we wanted to add Florida to our "Ride Together Map".  So, a quick jaunt down a local highway to grab I-10 yet again and ride east.  We snap our picture of Welcome to Florida, turned around and head west on I-10.
Our goal for the day was New Orleans where we planned to spend New Year's Eve and Day celebrating.   Decadent, huh?  The ride into the Big Easy was just that and we located our hotel in Gretna (across the river from New Orleans) with no problem.  However, I'd been fighting a terrific cold all week and it all caught up with me Sunday night.  I was really sick.  I mean as in REALLY sick.  No amount of cold medicine was going to make me better.  I guess it was around 11 pm or so when Eric and I decided I should probably go to the hospital.  YIKES!!!!!

Eric called a cab, bundled me up and got me to the hospital where I spent several hours.  I received terrific care and the Dr. knew what he was doing.  He got me the right medication and treatment and sent us back to our hotel.  I spent Monday, day 6, in bed at the hotel, taking my medication, resting, recuperating and following doctor's orders.  So much for our decadent New Year's Eve bash in NO.

Day 7 I felt sooooooo much better.  It's amazing what modern medicine can do.  So, we took the ferry across the river into New Orleans and explored the French Quarter, starting with beignets and coffee at Cafe DuMonde (an absolute must for me anytime I'm in NO).  Yummy, what a great way to start the day!

Then, off to the Hard Rock Cafe at their new location for a collector pin.  Strolling around the French Quarter...some fun photos!
 Not sure if this is a Zombie or what, but it was fun :-)
 How nice is this?
 A quiet fountain and mural hidden away just waiting to be found.

 I liked this signpost - Pirate Alley all knocked over.  Wonder what those pirates were up doing to make this sign all lopsided....
 Some of the many street performers in the French Quarter.  This woman had an amazing voice.
A friendly LEO on a Segway.  We saw quite a number of LEO's in the French Quarter.  All was quiet, after all it was New Year's Day, not Eve and all the party animals and rowdy crowd were still sleeping off their hangovers!
We went to Pat O'Brien's for lunch, starting with their infamous Hurricane rum drink :-)
Well, yes, we had at least two each!  Hey, we were on foot, not riding.  Followed by appetizers, alligator bites and coconut shrimp.  Yummilicious!
 Lunch was awesome.  Eric had the Crawfish Etoufee' and I had the sampler of Jambalaya, Red Beans & Rice and Gumbo!
 We found more silliness to pose with :-)

 There were all kinds of street performers.  These guys were hilarious and talented gymnasts.  They really knew how to work the crowd.
 More poking around we found a beautiful marble horse for our art collection, some Zombie stickers and magnets from the Voodoo Shop and some odds and ends at the French Market.  We stayed dry for most the day until the ferry trip back to Gretna when the heavens let loose.  Man it poured!  Finally, back to the hotel and tucked in for a good night sleep before packing the bikes and heading west toward home.  New Orleans was a very good, fun time.  Go there :-)

 Day 8 we left New Orleans with a light rain and temperature about 49 degrees.  That was the high for the day.  We headed west on I-10 and the temperature slowly dropped to a low of 41.  Rain from NOLA to Houston then just dang cold!  Uneventful slog west on I-10.  We stopped in Sealy, TX for the night.  Yep, Sealy, as in the mattress factory that is located here.  Note - we stayed at the Super 8 and it was really nice!  Feeling so much better, I continued the medication the doctor ordered for me.  Yay!! On my way to full recovery.

Day 9, we were up around 8am or so and slogged more miles on I-10 heading west.  We again rode the I-10 toward Fort Stockton.  We stopped for lunch in Junction, TX at Cooper's BBQ which was delicious but a cold room.  I needed to keep my jacket on as I was chilled.  We made a detour through Ozona, TX for gas  where I spied the biggest flippin Turkeys evah!
We ended up in Fort Stockton, TX again!  And, it was starting to SNOW.  Not little snow like our initial departure from home, but real snow that was sticking.  This is not good.  We stopped at the Super 8 that we stayed at on our trip out and here is what happened...

The powers that be closed the Interstate from Fort Stockton to El Paso.  More snow in one day than they get all year.  Dang, ruined our plans for a visit to Big Bend National Park and Paul & Voni Glaves.  Oh well, there will be another time.  When we got up the next morning, this is what we found.
Day 10, We decided to stay an extra day at the lovely Super 8 in Fort Stockton and let the snow melt and the interstate open.  We hunkered down and spent the day watching movies on TV and catching up on email and the like.  I continued my medication and was making an amazing recovery!

Day 11 we left Fort Stockton around 10am, waiting for all the snow and slush to melt.  The parking lot was slippery but once on the road, all was fine.  More of I-10 heading west.  It was very COLD.  Man, I love my heated gear.  We tried to stop for lunch in Las Cruces, NM for lunch but we were thwarted.  Our first exit landed us at a super mall and all the restaurants were packed as it was noonish.  Yikes, get me out of here.  Crazy drivers and lots of traffic.  We got back on the Interstate to take the next exit.  Even worse.  The town was torn up with road construction and no detour signs.  Heck, we ended up riding through alleys and parking lots.  I got my fill of mud, water crossings, dirt, gravel, slow u-turns, quick stops and stupid cagers trying to get around the construction.  You just couldn't get there from here. Oh well, it's just part of the adventure and we're having fun on motorbikes :-)   We ended up at McDonalds for lunch....YUK....I HATE McDonalds.  Okay, lunch was over and back on I-10.

We ended up at Lordsburg, NM at a very, very nice Best Western.  Side note, on my first SS1K I rode to Lordsburg, NM and ended up at Hila Bend, AZ in November, 2009.  Yes, that 3 Flags Ride got me excited about LD riding and then I found the Iron Butt site.  Been hooked ever since :-)

It was a cold ride today.  It finally reached 40 degrees at 4 pm in Lordsburg.  Most of the day was freezing temps and damp, low clouds with brief moments of sun.  My heated gear had a tough time keeping me warm with the damp.

Day 12 we left Lordsburg, NM and rode the I-10 to Quartzsite, AZ.  The day started out at 35 degrees but warmed up to the lower 60's.  Nice ride in mostly sun or thin clouds.  The Super 8 in Quartzsite was stupidly expensive.  They wanted $134 for the night....NOT....I talked them down to $85 plus tax which ended up being $98 or something like that.  Do NOT stay in Quartzsite....go another 30 miles to Parker.  Apparently it was the "high season" and they are pretty much the only game in town.  Ouch!  This was the most we spent the entire trip for a motel and it was NOT the nicest by a long shot.

We saw some Havalinas about an hour west of Lordsburg.  Enjoying our ride very much.  We should be home tomorrow.

Day 13, oh my goodness, did we really take that long to get from here to there and back?  Apparently so.  The ride out was quick but the ride home was leisurely and very enjoyable (as was the ride out - just different).  I love riding my bike.  After all the heartache with that little machine, she seems to be healthy now.  Should be after a new transmission, new engine, new stator, new front & rear wheel bearings, new steering head bearings and whatever else......

So left Quartzsite, AZ and headed home, an easy ride.

We stopped here, as we always do for a break.  Gee, I wish someone would lease this place and open a restaurant.  This is at Vidal Junction...nowhere California.  Oh wait, they do have an California Agricultural Stop here...that's it...move on folks :-)

We rode a total of 4,440 miles and had an incredible time doing so.  We encountered all kinds of weather, met all kinds of wonderful folks, saw awesome sites and simply had an epic ride!  We didn't do some things we wanted to because of weather, but those things will still be there to do another time.

I had the bestest time, a great ride, saw and met tons of fun folks.  This is what LD riding is all about, at least for me.  It was such a treat to surprise #203 with our arrival at Stagecoach.  It was even better when Dick Meyer and John Ryan showed up.   We met just lovely new folks that I'm sure will be friends forever.  What's not to like?  Freezing temperatures, slogging the interstate, fog, snow....heck it's all part of the adventure.  Thank goodness for no breakdowns and bikes running well.

I recovered from the icky sickness and have a tale to tell.  So, until the next adventure, I bid you adieu.  Oh, hint, the next big adventure might involve something in South America :-)  Let the gossip begin.

Hugs to all, That's All Folks......