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Part 4

Tuesday - August 7’ 2012

Today’s plan was to head east out of Redding, California along highway 44 into Lassen National Volcanic Park. Highway 89 cuts south through the park but as we got closer and closer to the park the more hazy it became. As we enter the park proper we discovered that highway 89 through the park to the south had been shut down due to the Chips Fire. We were able to drive about 5 miles in but that was it. We turned around and headed down our alternate route by continuing more north and then south on highway 44. We wound our way around and eventually dumped back out on Highway 36 and from there we shot over to and along Lake Almanor south back on to Highway 89.

As we proceed south on 89 we grabbed lunch on Main Street in the little town of Greenville. From there it was on southward toward South Lake Tahoe where Russ had found a reasonably priced motel there and booked it the night before. However, before we could enjoy the beauty of Lake Tahoe getting south on 89 with any speed was proving difficult. Now is was the road construction that was killing us and it was the mother of all road construction. It was tedious and a very slow go and lots of traffic. You need to have a lot of patience to get through it all but we managed. Finally we were pass Truckee, California and entering the rim road that goes all the way around Lake Tahoe. Unfortunately things didn't improve. While Lake Tahoe is a very beautiful area and well worth the hassle to get to and see expect a ton of people, congestion and terrible roads. Again there was construction along 89 that went along the lake. For some reason these are the only two shots that showed up on my camera roll this day although I took many more. I’m also missing some shots from the Lassen Volcanic Park area. Most likely “Operator Error”.
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Summer day on Lake Tahoe
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We finally popped out on the other side of all that congestion late in the afternoon and checked into our rooms.

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I’m sad to say that at the motel room this night my 2+ year old side kick, my Apple Macbook Pro, died. I’m unable to boot and have determined the hard drive is toast. Maybe it was all the smoke, fire and road construction bumps today that finally did it in. I will no longer be able to publish daily updates until I get home. Will continue to journal daily notes and take pictures in hopes of publishing later.

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Angry at my dead laptop and resting tonight in South Lake Tahoe

Wednesday - August 8' 2012

As we rolled out of South Lake Tahoe this morning it was another beautiful day. The bad part about that was the accompanying heat as temps continue to climb in the land of the sun. We took highway 207 east down and out from Lake Tahoe and wound our way back down to highway 88 to go across the pass and drop back into the valley.

Russ's was starting to feel the pain in his leg more and more as each day went by and that with the heat convinced us both we should probably pack it in for our short ride together a day earlier than planned. As we approached highway 88 we once again found road construction and delays with the road going down to one lane and the need to follow a Pilot car through the construction maze.

For some reason the Pilot car was going incredibly slow as he lead all of us up a grade of about 15% Not sure why he was going so slow but it made it difficult to find the right gear and I was constantly going between 1st and 2n'd gear but moving at a snails pace up this pass. Just then I glanced down at the temp gauge on the wing and it was on the move up towards the red zone. This was the first time I have seen the gauge move since I had the coolant issues late last year. Thankfully we got through it before it hit the red zone and then all returned to normal. Whew!

After a quick stop at Russ's in-laws for some much need refreshments in Jackson, California we were ready to part company. Russ was going to head home to Tracy and I was going to head over to Vacaville and spend a couple of days with my Niece, Vicki.

Resting tonight in Vacaville, California

Thursday - August 9’ 2012

I pretty much rested this day except for a short ride up to Lake Berryessa just northwest of Vacaville.
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Love that lush golden color of the under brush and rolling california hills dotted with trees

It was just to hot to ride any more than a couple of hours especially since I didn't have to. I figured I’d head on down to Cycle Gear as there was a shop in Fairfield and browse around some. I ended up picking up a cooling vest at the Cycle Gear shop. My buddy Jim had been recommending one and with this heat I figured I could give it good use. It's made by Bilt and I got it on sale for about $35. Should come in hand on this and other future trips. Heat is on just about everywhere out here.

After another nice dinner with family and visiting my mind raced back to what needed to be done to the Wing to ensure her needs were met. I was concern about the Bridgestone tires and how close they were to needing replacing. I had left home with 2,000 miles already on them and they were around 8,000 miles now. Yes, I probably could have gotten another 1,000+ on these but this was the best time to get it done on this road trip so I went for it. Have an appointment at Stockton Honda shop on Friday to get baby a new pair of shoes on in the morning.

Friday - August 10' 2012

Got to Stockton Honda by 9:00 a.m. when they opened. Russ came up with his car to keep me company and by mid day the Wing is sporting a new set of Dunlop Elite IIIs. There were in stock, good tire and I've run them many times before. Least now I wouldn't have to worry about tires for the remainder of this trip. Now oil was another matter. With about 6,000 miles under my belt on this trip so far I've gone through a full quart of oil having to add some every few days. I figure a Goldwing with this many miles on it deserves to burn some oil and it was. After I got the bike we swung by and saw Russ brother, Greg, and son Josh for a while, grabbed some lunch and then headed back to Russ house.

I’m not quite sure I can put my finger on exactly when it happened but by the time I was dropping my head to a pillow at Russ’s house this night I had decided it was time to go home. Just like that. In the movie Forrest Gump he ran and ran and ran and ran and then one day he just stopped and went home. I feel like that. I had ridden and ridden and ridden and ridden and now I was done and ready to go home … all of a sudden like. Well, it wasn’t all of a sudden as the feeling had been growing on me as the miles and days on the road continue to pass. A yearning inside said it was time although there were other roads south and east into Arizona I still wanted to see again on this road trip you have to respect a gut feeling telling you to go home. No real lost as I have ridden many of those roads before and there would be other road trips … for now it was time to ride home and I slept better acknowledging that.

Saturday - August 11’ 2012

To say I’ve ridden this route from California to Tennessee many times with many variations would be an understatement. I actually believe the wing probably knows the way back home to Tennessee better than I do as many of it’s miles were accumulated on many of the roads we would traverse over the next set of days heading via a more direct route back home. It all starts with getting over the Sierra Mountains and I would be taking 120 east through those and into Nevada this day with my first targeted stop in Ely, Nevada.

The route 120 takes is up behind Yosemite and over the pass to the East. I’ve been in the Yosemite Park Valley… (which by the way is spectacular and a must see if you haven’t seen it)… many times before so didn’t feel like I was missing to much especially taking into consideration the traffic in there. Instead 120 provided these shots as I quickly made my way over the pass to the east.
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I stopped in for my usual fleecing at the Gas Station/Restaurant at Mono Lake. I just love paying almost $ 5.00 for a gallon of gas and getting ripped off here with an $ 8.00 hamburger and $ 3 coke. But it’s all good especially since I met Darren Jackson from San Jose California.

He’s out riding a Suzuki 650 V-Strom that looks exactly like mine with a friend and they too had stopped for a break and were sitting at the table next to mine outside with the bikes. I mentioned that I also had a V-Strom and we were chatting it up pretty quick. Instant motorcycle friend. This is what I like most about riding two wheels on the open road and that’s the great people you meet strictly by chance. You just never know when a short discussion and a little effort to reach out to another person will yield a new friend. I gave him one of my cards to check out some of my journals and he emailed me this night with his email address. Good people no doubt.

Well, I was now getting into Nevada. This wasn’t highway 50 through Nevada but trust me all roads in Nevada look like they qualify for the moniker “Loneliest road in America”. They all look something like this
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The heat was coming on strong but so was the rain in the form of a few strong downpours that hit me pretty hard between Tonopah and Ely.
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It never looks to terribly bad at first and then wham a giant rain drop will hit you smack in the face. Then another and another … No need for a rain suit today … I slow down but continue to press forward in the heavy downpour with my clothes soaking up the rain like a spongy. Several minutes later it stops and a few more after that I’m practically dry again ready for the cycle to repeat all the way into Ely, Nevada which is where I’m resting tonight. You really feel vulnerable and scared out here in the middle of no where plodding through storms like that. Not my first time and probably not my last time. Take the good with the bad.

Sunday - August 12’ 2012

Having been spoiled by the excellent weather so far on this trip I found myself back in the mode of staying abreast of the developing weather to my East as I continued my trek home. This is what I was greeted with as I rolled out of Ely in the early morning hours … beautiful … with a just a hint of rain :-)
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I was seeing this and listening to the Doors belt out Riders on the Storm. Nice combo :-) I was indeed going to be riding along with some storms today. So naturally I did what any motorcyclist worth his salt would do and that was to donned the Rain Suit … not to protect me from the rain but to ward off the rain and make it go away. It seems to have that affect. Isn’t is always the case you put it on after waiting until the last point in time it might be possible to put it on and then it doesn’t rain the rest of the day :-)

Entering Utah the scenery is uniquely it’s own
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Rain was still around but I was making good time towards Moab, Utah for tonight … another favorite spot of mine. Great roads around Moab to take a dirt or dual sport bike on as well. Today the heat was starting to get to me and by mid-afternoon I found room at a local place I’ve stayed before called Adventure Inn in Moab. Locally owned place. It was about 3 p.m. and I think once I parked the bike and got into the room I turned the A/C on high and just sat there in the chair for about an hour cooling down. One of those times I felt like I just had to get out of the heat. The cooling vest was good but only a temporary solution to try and prevent heat exhaustion even with drinking lots of water. Worked out good as once I was refreshed it was near sunset and I jumped back on the bike and went up to Arches National Park. Here are some shots from there …
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What a contrast …. I could sit here and gaze at that all day … ever changing
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Nice view from the saddle
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Balanced Rock at Arches National Park
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Road full of mystery
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Bold and Defiant

Resting tonight in the Magical Kingdom

Monday - August 13’ 2012

I sneak out of Moab, Utah the way I always do … highway 128 east along the Colorado River. Beautiful road to get you back up north to the super slab that is I70 east in style. Some pics along the way …
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Highway 128 next to Colorado River …. Dark Clouds ahead
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They are grouping together and the radar app shows me most of Colorado is in for rain much of this day. As I put the rain suit on this time I knew it was for real. After getting on I70 east there didn’t seem to be be any way to avoid it. I even consider going south on highway 50 at Grand Junction, Colorado but stayed with I70 up until highway 24 south then I couldn’t take it any more. The rain was getting more and more hard and dangerous the higher the elevation. I was having to stop every 10 miles to clear/clean my shield and glasses that kept fogging up making seeing the road almost impossible. Finally after getting through a few high passes on highway 24 south things finally improved and I made my way in the back door to Limon, Colorado where I’m resting tonight. First real dose of continuous rain for most of the day on this entire trip … up until this point the headline had been the record heat.

Tuesday - August 14’ 2012

What can you say about riding through Eastern Colorado and all of Kansas that hasn’t been said before? It is as flat as a pancake … can’t fix that. However, it’s also usually hot and windy as a hurricane everytime I come through here … but not today. Today was my day and I caught this stretch of road at my peak desire to cover some miles. It was about 530 of them between me and beers with my buds in Kansas City. Funny I was there only about three weeks ago when I was on my way out on this road trip :-)
Todays storms were ahead of me so all I had to do was fall in along behind them and follow them all the way in to the KC area and I did just that without hitting any rain and staying cool in the wake of those storms.

Resting tonight with my buddy Robert after having happy hour with George, Jean, John and Robert at the local watering hole

Wednesday - August 15’ 2012

This was it. This was the victory lap an easy 430 mile romp home to Dover, Tennessee today and my longest road trip ever would be a done deal. Unfortunately, this is also the most dangerous time. Not that the other 25 days out surviving on the open road were a walk in the park as you try to stay alive out there but I was extra careful today. I was also thankful for a safe return home to loved ones as I roll along eating up the miles with ease. As I rolled through the Trace and down into Dover, Tennessee from Kentucky for the last few miles I couldn’t help but expect to see thousands of people lining the roads in Dover waving flags and welcoming me home a hero and hailing my great accomplishment on two wheels. Unfortunately, There was none of that but I did feel it inside. A sense of a great accomplishment and pride the Wing and I were still in one piece after all we had been through on this road trip … ready to roll again soon I hope.

I pulled into my driveway in Dover, Tennessee around 5:05 p.m. today. The Eagle has landed.

26 days on the road
8,500 miles

This was a new personal best record for me (my old record was 21 days and 7,195 miles done last year on my little V-Strom Wee) Now the Wing has reclaimed the record
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What an amazing journey and I loved every mile of it and I lived every moment of it. The wing ran like a champ and now has 255,920 miles on the odometer.

I took oil with me due to the age of the bike and knowing that it burns oil now. I went through about 1 1/2 quarts of oil over those miles having to add it from time to time as I went. I figured a bike with this many miles on it deserves to burn some oil if it wants to.

The engine never overheated and the temp gauge only moved off the half way point where it usually sites one time and that was when I was following a slow moving Pilot truck leading us up a mountain pass on a steep elevation on highway 88 in California at a a pace of about 5 mph. Once I got moving again the temp gauge returned to normal and that was that.

My rear trunk latch completely broke off after the 2nd day on the road. The weight on the Krukran rack and bag on top of it helped keep it closed the rest of the road trip but I had to watch the alert on the dash board continue to flash the rear trunk was open the entire rest of the trip. I eventually learned to ignore it.

I had to swap tires out while I was in Stockton, California. When I left home on this road trip on July 21 the set of Bridgestones that were on the bike then already had 2,000 miles on them. When I put on a new set of Elite IIIs on in Stockton, California the Bridgestones had about 8,600 miles on them. They had a little more tread left but I went ahead for peace of mind and had the new Elite IIIs put on.

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I’m glad I was able to finally finish writing my journal and adding the pictures for this Road Trip. I hope you enjoyed tagging along with me on this road trip and I’m sure I’ll be doing it again soon.

I sure hope everyone else is getting out and riding ... It's a blast out there on the open road but it ain't for the faint of heart so be careful. So thankful I made it home safely and in one piece ... no small miracle given the distance and method of travel. What a blast!


Take Care and go ride somewhere …

Donnie

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