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Archive for June, 2013

Vietnam Vet Ray Jordan of Salem, OR who decked his 2003 Road King with 105 American Flags for the 105th Anniversary.

Vietnam Vet Ray Jordan of Salem, OR who decked his 2003 Road King with 105 American Flags for the H-D 105th Anniversary Parade.

Next week we will celebrate the 237th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

It happens on July 4th and sure we’re in the middle of what seems like a “J. Edgar” moment with this PRISM gig – Big Government infringing on civil liberties – but, the mysterious man did some great things and it seems we’re always preoccupied with those items that divide us versus the things that pull us together.

Here is an interesting video about the American Experience that reminds us to celebrate this occasion.  It’s from the Bicentennial anniversary and a nice retro look back.

I think we live in a great country, the only one in the world founded on the power of ideas, freedom, equality and the notion that you can come from nothing and become something through hard work and determination.  And like many of you I lack grandeur in my heritage and was raised by hard working, middle class parents who provided all the essentials necessary to raise an educated, healthy, motivated family with a sound ethical background.

And as a member of the motorcycle riding community I know there are a lot of individualists out there who follow their own path and beat the drum to their own song.  So whether celebrating the day with a BBQ, family picnic or solo with the wind in your face… enjoy your freedom and independence!

Flags courtesy of MKEimages.com at the Harley-Davidson 105th Anniversary parade.  The motorcycle belongs to Vietnam Vet Ray Jordan of Salem, OR who decked his 2003 Road King with 105 American Flags for the 105th Anniversary Parade. 

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Gypsy’ed up ride...

Gypsy’ed up ride…

Are you all about bagger bling?

The “bling” refers to any unnecessary accumulation of shiny and glimmering metal.

There is a place for those who can’t stop called the chrome asylum because of bagger bling gone wrong!  Like the rider in this photo…

In my view it’s an example of too much chrome swag.  Some might even think it’s hideous and wholly unnecessary, but as we know there is no accounting for good taste with all the riders out there.

We know that straight off the shop floor most Harleys shine more than your average foreign made motorcycle, and for those that like their ride to blind the onlookers, there’s a seriously fat accessory catalogue full of go-fast bits, chrome doo-dads and custom add-on’s.  Not to mention all the 3rd party catalogs and online part suppliers.

Is it possible to have too much chrome swag?

Clearly!  You’ll know it when kids point, dogs bark and other riders do a double-take.  It’s often described as: “They sure Gypsy’ed up that ride”…

A reference to the bright and flashy which is often associated with folks exoticising voyeruism or wearing Esmeralda-like headscarves, or running psychic healing parlors.  I realize that’s a less than positive cliché, and mean no disrespect.  The Gypsies are fascinating people with an incredible story.

But, creative enhancements and all that chrome is so addictive.  Rainy weekends can be spent pouring over the parts book, matching gas tanks with seats and sissy bars, and tossing up whether to splurge on the chrome rocker covers to match the new floor boards or save up for the titanium lifters.  For those with both a hunger for lots of shiny things and the means to satiate that need, Harley-Davidson is there for you and the endless fun.  They are single-handedly responsible for promoting, propagating, passively approving and ironically being amused by all aspects of the ‘bling’ culture.

I suffer from what’s called the chrome cooling effect – most often called “Bling Delete” and has only increased the flat black or black anodized popularity.  It used to be done by ‘rattle can’, but now manufactures have combined billet aluminum with black anodized finishes to provide riders the perfect mix of function and aesthetics.  There are as many if not more flat-black or deep-cut, black anodized billet accessories as chrome, so if you’re into the less is more glamour, you have lots of choices.

Clearly motorcycle enthusiasts have become “creators”, in which motorcycles are the canvas.

Stay shiny my friends.

Photo courtesy of HOG Asia. Gypsy’ed term courtesy of Hal.

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2013 Ride to Work Day

2013 Ride to Work Day

Back in the day when a cowboy joined an outfit he threw down his bedroll in a chuck wagon.  When he does that, he gives his loyalty 100% to the outfit.  It’s a cowboy thing.  If you don’t like the way an outfit is run, you grab your bedroll, pony and ride on down the trail.

It was a code established by the rugged pioneers and is just as relevant in today’s world as back then, but I’ve gotten off topic.

I’m talking about riding for the “motorcycle” brand.

Huh?

Yesterday marked the 21st Annual Ride to Work Day—it’s a day when thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts across the U.S. ride their motorcycles to work in a show of mutual support and solidarity. Originally created by Motorcycle Consumer News columnist Bob Carpenter in 1992, the event has served as a way to promote motorcycles and rider safety; combining the ride with numerous activities around the country, including charitable events.

Many riders don’t need another incentive to ride, but the Ride to Work Day is not just something to talk about, but to participate in.  I count myself as one of the thousands of motorcycle riders and enthusiasts across the U.S., so I was up early and headed to the ‘plant’ which in of itself is a rare occurrence since I work remote most days.

Sure, I exposed myself to the situation where someone doesn’t obey the rules of the road… like that beat up Toyota mini-van which made an abrupt 2-lane change as they entered onto Highway 217.  The cars were slamming on brakes which was a little concerning, but not nearly as bad as the dude in the well-worn Ford Escape that cut me off on Highway 26.  His NO SIGNAL lane-change was so close that I thought about asking if he’d check my front tire pressure!  Or how about on the way home the lady in the Red Mazda – yeah you – with heavily tinted windows so preoccupied with her cell phone texting that she nearly rear-ended the car in front of her.

I’ve blogged at length about distracted driving in Oregon and how it’s the norm rather than exception and can honestly say that after being on the road in rush hour traffic I was not inspired, but if nothing else I was there in a “show of force” saying I rode to work today!  It was not only an opportunity to raise awareness about motorcycles, but it also provided me a chance to talk about road safety.

And speaking of transportation, one disappointment from yesterday’s Ride To Work event is the seemingly lack of visible support or promotion of two-wheel transportation by John Kitzhaber, Oregon Governor or the legislators.  You might recall that Governor Kitzhaber met recently with and challenged the Oregon Transportation Commission to create a 21st century transportation system that best serves Oregonians.  And, I’m quoting here… “A transportation system that will attract and grow business, provide mobility, reduce the carbon impacts of transportation and transition into a truly multimodal and efficient transportation system for the state of Oregon.”

I would think that two-wheel transportation is part of that “system” and the absence of visible support is odd given Oregon’s home-grown, Brammo that manufactures electric motorcycles in Ashland, and it’s perplexing given that Senators Ron Wyden and Representative Greg Walden worked to get a tax credit extension for Brammo.

One has to ask if we have the right group of individuals at the transportation table at the beginning of the process to define the problem and solution together?

Photo of author.

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Hat-On-High“A little piece of you,
The little piece in me
Will Die
For this is not America”

It’s a song (HERE) by jazz fusion band Pat Metheny Group, Lyle Mays and rock singer David Bowie.

The song is profound and meaningful – and absolutely perfect for today’s circumstances.  But, I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

I’m an avid HDTV watcher.  The last few days I’ve spent time on the RETRO (RetroPlex) channel.  Interestingly there’s been an increase of movies about disillusioned civilian contractors working in the U.S. Government on the line-up.  Covert operations complete with code names, spy camera’s that even Bond would be envious.

someone-talkedIn the 1970’s it was called the “black vault” (classified communications center).  Move forward 30+ years and it’s a data center called PRISM which serves as a communication facility to vacuum up information on millions of private citizens in contradiction to the 4th amendment.

And while we’re on the topic, I was under the impression that the NSA hired Ph.D’s with military service, but now we learn that Edward Snowden, a low-level IT technician making $200K a year – only in America could a civilian contractor who didn’t graduate high school or complete college make $200K – used a banned USB thumb drive to smuggle documents.

I just don’t understand the lack of outrage about his salary, but I’m off point.

Mr. Snowden stated that he justified smuggling documents because the intelligence community had become the United Stasi of America – a reference of the surveillance powers over their own citizens that the East German Stasi – the secret police in the former Democratic Republic of East Germany.

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR)

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR)

Is this déjà vu all over again?

You might recall that back in 1979, journalist Robert Lindsey chronicled the true story of Andrew Daulton Lee and Christopher John Boyce.  Two high school buddies from good families who were tried and convicted of espionage.  Boyce’s FBI agent father landed the floundering 21-year-old a job at TRW who developed and manufactured satellites for the CIA.  Boyce became disillusioned after learning about the CIA activity to remove Australia’s Prime Minister Gough Whitlam because he wanted to close U.S. military bases.  With Lee’s help, Boyce set out to sell government secrets to the Soviets.

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR) - Radar

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Radar – “Prairie Pyramid”

In 1985, the book was turned into a film called The Falcon and the Snowman.

As I watched the movie on RETRO, I was reminded of my employment at ITT/Federal Electric Corporation.  I worked at the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR) or as the locals called it, the “prairie pyramid.”  It was the only operational ABM (Anti-ballistic Missile) defense system.  It’s mission was to defend the continental U.S. from a ballistic missile attack from the USSR or China.  And similar to the movie, security requirements of any installation housing nuclear weapons are specific and extensive.  There were 30 Spartans (long-range intercepts) and 70 Sprint (close-in intercepts) missiles on the complex.  I initially worked at the MSR (Missile Site Radar) facility for about a year prior to receiving a restricted access clearance.  I was then moved to the RSL (Remote Site Launch) facilities which housed the close-in intercept missiles and on many occasions had access to “exclusion areas” (nuclear missile field) in the facility.  The RSL’s were hardened against nuclear blast and were capable of operating autonomously while “buttoned up” during an attack.

RSL (Remote Site Launch) #2

Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex – RSL (Remote Site Launch) #2

After all these years the Edward Snowden story speaks to me, both at a national level and from the mundane working world.

Christopher Boyce justified his actions by claiming he was selling information in the hopes of fostering peace between the Soviet Union and the U.S.  Or there was Daniel Ellsberg who in 1971, as a leading Vietnam War strategist concluded that America’s role in the war was based on decades of lies so he leaked 7,000 pages of top-secret documents to the New York Times.  It was a daring act that ultimately helped lead to Watergate, President Nixon’s resignation and the end of the war.  Do you recall when Nixon stated: “Quit making national hero’s out of those who steal secrets and publish them in the newspaper.”

Spartan commemorative plaque in Langdon, N.D.

Spartan commemorative plaque in Langdon, N.D.

Unfortunately in 2013 this all sounds similar.

Then in Oregon we have the “slippery slimy” Senator Ron Wyden who tried to cast himself in a positive light.  Being on the Intelligence Committee, he had been briefed and knew the answer, but ask the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, “do you collect telephone data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?”  Mr. Clapper should have duck the question – neither confirm or deny here in open session – but instead he provided the least “untruthful answer” – or LIED.

Hey, I want to defeat the terrorists as much as the next guy, but harvesting data on millions of innocent American’s…  I don’t recall signing up for that or empowering a despotic government here in the U.S.

And long before PRISM there was Good Will Hunting.  Why shouldn’t I join the NSA?  It’s a classic!

You might wonder where Christopher Boyce is now?  In 1977 he was convicted of espionage and spent time in various federal prisons.  In 1980, he made headlines when he escaped from Lompoc, CA., and remained on the run for 19 months while supporting himself by robbing banks in the Pacific Northwest.  In 1997, he was released from the medium-security prison in Sheridan, OR., and sent to a halfway house in San Francisco.  He married Cait Boyce, the woman who helped him fight for parole.  In 2003 at the age of 50 years old, he was released from the halfway house.  He remains free, but on parole until 2046, his original release date.  Mr. Lee was paroled in 1998.

Photos courtesy of U.S. Army, some taken by author at the Stanley R. Mickelsen Safeguard Complex (MSR) – near Nekoma, and Langdon, N.D.   Note: On the Falcon & the Snowman soundtrack the name of the song – This Is Not America is “Chris.”

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Mark Hans-Richer presents leather jacket to Pope Francis

Mark-Hans Richer (H-D CMO) presents a leather jacket to Pope Francis

Getting “rubbed” by the pickpockets is common and expected in the city of “amore” where looking up at an artist masterpiece means your wallet just got lifted.  In fact, the Vatican tourist guides recently threatened to strike due to the inundation of pickpockets.

But, I’m talking about the Harley-Davidson 110th  Anniversary Celebration in Rome.  Unlike the U.S. celebration – where ticket prices range from $95 to over $500 for the unobtanium “Chrome” package – the entry fee in Rome is FREE of charge!  Free is a very good price and unexpected.

Information is starting to flow in about Harley-Davidson enthusiasts from across Europe who are flocking to the heart of Rome this week.   The celebration is occupying multiple sites in Central Rome, Vatican City and the Port of Ostia.  The entire length of Via Della Conciliazione, leading from St Peter’s Basilica to the River Tiber has been turned into a giant Harley-Davidson motorcycle park.  Yesterday’s start of the four-day event includes celebrations from the touristic Port of Ostia to a special motorcycle blessing inside St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City.

David Uhl's, Pope Francis and the Chance Encounter painting

David Uhl, Pope Francis and the “Chance Encounter” painting

Event photos are starting to appear on the web.  One is of David Uhl who painted the “Chance Encounter” canvas which depicts a 1948 Harley-Davidson FL Panhead bike parked in the San Pietro square, with a priest admiring it.  David Uhl presented it to Pope Francis during the weekly audience in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican on June 12, 2013.  According to a number of reports, the “Chance Encounter” will be available in postcard format, printed in a limited run of copies (in various sizes) and for collectors, three hand-signed and numbered canvas Fine Art sizes.

In addition, Harley Davidson has given Pope Francis two of its current motorcycles to mark the brand’s 110th anniversary.  On Sunday June 16th, hundreds will be allowed to park along the road leading to St Peter’s Square while the pontiff recites the Angelus prayer.  Between 1-2 thousand motorcyclists are expected to fill St Peter’s Square for the Pope’s blessing.

Just beware of Rome’s tiny thieves.

Photos taken at Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 12, 2013 and courtesy of REUTERS/Osservatore Romano.

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Mabel's Rage - Bud Clarke (L)

The Band Mabel’s Rage – Bud Clarke (L)

In a remote part of the country sits a nondescript hangar… I’m not talking about the NSA facility in Utah where “The Company” is so paranoid about outsiders catching a glimpse of its e-snooping gear, that server cages are kept in complete darkness and service tech’s are outfitted with lights on their head like coal miners.

An impressive operation, but NSA it’s not.

I’m referring to the Helena Montana Regional Airport where an Alberta native, Bud Clarke, builds airplanes when not riding his Harley.  The firm, Air-Ryder primarily works on “builder assisted” aircraft.  Finishing the final touches on planes built by Lancair, based here in Oregon who manufacture several “high performance” airplane kits that seat from two to four people and can cost upwards to six-figures.

The OilBud™

The OilBud™

But the tinkering didn’t stop with the sophisticated planes, Clarke also invented a unique motorcycle oil cooler called the OilBud™.  The device fits between the motorcycle frame rails and is hidden from view beneath the motor.  It’s built from aircraft quality materials, braided stainless hoses and 6061-T6 aluminum extrusion and a welded in header tank assembly.

Last month Clarke announced an updated design which provides Harley-Davidson owners who’ve added modifications to their motorcycle (i.e. Baker Oil Pans, True-Track, Center Stands and Softails outfitted with ABS) the ability to install an OilBud™ and will keep the oil temperature 30 degrees cooler or more than an engine without the device.

In Helena, Clarke is better known as a guitar player in Mabel’s Rage.  The band’s name is a reference to a scene in the comic opera “Pirates of Penzance” in which Mabel, a tomboy pirate, is getting cinched up in a corset and is quite begrudged.  Clarke for the most part writes the music and lead singer Gina Satterfield writes the lyrics.  I especially like the fact that they are supporting a benefit concert later this summer for Wounded Warriors.

I’ve had the opportunity to ride some great roads in Montana; Route 12, Lolo Pass, Highway 200, Highway 86 and 89 from Bozeman, but I’ve not traveled much in the Helena area.  I hope to do so one of these days.  And when I do I’ll be thinking about Clarke and Mabel’s Rage.

I encourage you to check out the music and if you’re experiencing oil temperature issues to read up on the OilBud™ and investigate the various reviews at Baggers Magazine or Hot Bike.

Photos courtesy of OilBud™ and Mabel’s Rage.

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Harley-Davidson Advertisement

Harley-Davidson Faux Advertisement

It makes a lasting impression in only seconds.   It’s provocative.

I’m talking about ads.

We see them every day, everywhere we go, whatever we do… advertisements for products and services plastered in front of our faces.

Good advertising “tricks” the average person into believing that they need a product or service even when they don’t, and the tricks are usually well-constructed.

This advertisement came to me via the Northwest Harley Blog Daily.  It is sublime and will have many motorcyclists wondering if they’ve gone too far.  After clicking on the “play” button my immediate thought was… “What am I watching?”  “Should I look away before something happens that I won’t be able to forget?”  Then you’re left wondering.

I can’t recommend watching it, but if you must the video advertisement is HERE.  The ad seems to focus less on particular features of the company’s products and more on the way these products are used.  Maybe it’s different in your part of the world, but I’m not exactly sure the message or what product is being “evangelized”…  it’s likely I missed the point, but some of the choices might be:

  1. A Harley will make a man out of you!
  2. Even a cross dresser wants a Harley?
  3. Someone who adopts the dress of the opposite sex wants a man or woman on a Harley?
  4. A new stylish dress and Clothing line launch for Ladies of Harley®?

There are times when I can be influenced by advertising techniques.  Although creative, this is not one of them!

Photo courtesy of Jung Chantme.  Harley-Davidson has stated they are targeting all demographics, but the odds of this being an officially sponsored deal is remote.

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4-Corners By Harley-Davidson – Part 3

Beartooth Pass Scenic Highway

Gaining Altitude on Beartooth Pass Scenic Highway

This is a continuation of Part-2 HERE, of our 4000-mile journey to 4-Corners that led us through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota/Sturgis, Montana, Northern Idaho, Washington and then back to Oregon.

Billings to Bear Tooth Pass – Yellowstone – Bozeman, MT – On this morning we said “Hasta la vista, baby” to one of the riders in our group who had to peel off and take a more direct route home to Oregon.

Beartooth Pass

On Beartooth Pass

The rest of the posse was heading to Wyoming’s highest paved primary road…the Beartooth Scenic Byway.

It’s on Highway 212 and runs about 70 miles south and then west from Red Lodge in Wyoming to Cooke City, in Montana. The online data states that the Beartooth Pass summit is at 10,947 feet although our GPS from the top was reading 10,957 feet.

Beartooth Pass

Riding Across The Top Of Beartooth Pass

It didn’t matter because it felt like we were on the top of the world and could see 100’s of miles!

It is an incredible road to ride a motorcycle on and although I’ve never been there, I believe it would compete with riding through the Swiss Alps for excitement.   The road is essentially in two parts – the lower section that rises as you head south out of Red Lodge and the upper part at the higher elevations.

Descending Beartooth Pass

Descending Beartooth Pass

The views on the way up are terrific and it is a difficult decision whether to continue riding or stop every ¼ mile and take pictures.  We did some of both, including GoPro’s mounted on the helmets to video record parts of the trip.  We met other riders along the road and they all had big smiles on their faces as if we had all found a long lost secret riding location.

Some parts of the upper section of Beartooth Pass had gusty winds that were inconsistent from bend-to-bend that required our attention and it was much colder at the higher altitude.  Nothing more than leather jackets, and the slopes were steep and the views were spectacular.  On top there was snow in the shadow parts of the mountain.

Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park

Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park

We made several photo stops on the way down as we headed toward the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone Park.

In the summer this is a dramatic entrance with a rich diversity of landscape compared to other entrances to the park.  Traffic was very light and just after we entered the park at 7,365-feet altitude, we cut between the 10,928-foot Abiathar Peak and the 10,404-foot Barronette Peak.

Bison in Lamar Valley

Bison in Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley is home to large amounts of Bison, some of which we met on the road meandering along without a care in the world.  We exited the park at Gardiner where The Roosevelt Arch is located.  The top of the Roosevelt Arch is inscribed with “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people,” which is from the Organic Act of 1872, the enabling legislation for Yellowstone National Park.

The Roosevelt Arch

The Roosevelt Arch – Yellowstone National Park

We continued on to Bozeman, MT., and overnighted at the rather nice Best Western Plus Grantree Inn.  There was an upscale sports bar and restaurant in the hotel and we grab dinner there and chatted with some of the locals.

Bozeman to Shelby, MT – The next morning we fueled up early and motored north on US Route 86.  It’s also referred to as the Bridger Range Scenic Drive.

On US Route 86 - Bridger Range Scenic Drive

On US Route 86 – Bridger Range Scenic Drive

It’s about 40miles and intersects with Highway 89 north of the town of Wilsall.  The road follows the eastern flank of the Bridger Mountains.  Once the road enters the National Forest, the views are a bit more limited due to the thick forest, but there are still enough open areas to keep the drive interesting.  The Bridger Bowl ski resort is about 20min from Bozeman.

Smith Valley

Smith River Valley

There are no services along the route, but what an incredible scenic road!  If you ever get a chance ride this route do it.  The road is a nicely paved and provides excellent views of the mountains which dominated the view to the west.

We connected up with US Route 89 which is the “Backbone of the Rockies” and links seven National Parks across the Mountain West.  We rode through the The Smith River Valley.  Stopped for a late breakfast at the Branding Iron Café in White Sulphur Springs.

IMG_3393ADeparting White Sulphur Springs meant we were on the Kings Hill Scenic Byway as it winds through the Little Belt Mountains.  We passed through the Lewis and Clark National Forest and savored the rugged beauty.

As the scenery turn flat there were gravel roads that crisscrossed US Route 89 all the way to Great Falls.  It was hot with a lot of wind buffeting on this day and in Great Falls we stopped at Big Sky Harley-Davidson for a soda break and to look for a t-shirt.

Glacier National Park - Going The Sun Road

Glacier National Park – Going To The Sun Road

We departed and connected with I-15 north and headed toward Shelby.  Several miles up I-15 we stopped at the Mountain View Co-Op in Brady for fuel.  We ran into some old farmers there and spend a good deal of time chatting about various items from how loud the bikes were to the price of wheat.  It was almost like a TV show!

We arrived in Shelby and overnighted at the Comfort Inn.  It was an interesting hotel with part of it being on Indian reservation and had gambling in the lobby, but the rooms in the new section had just opened and they had friendly service.  We walked down the hill and ate dinner at the Ringside Ribs which was full of hungry truck drivers.

Riding the Going To The Sun Road - Glacier National Park

Riding the Going To The Sun Road – Glacier National Park

Shelby to Sandpoint, ID (via Going To The Sun Road and West Glacier) – We departed fairly early the next day and motored out on Highway 2 west bound.  We were headed for the “Going To The Sun Road” at St. Mary and east entrance of Glacier National Park.  We rode through Cut Bank then Browning and when refueling in St. Mary we took some time for refreshments.

If you’ve never driven a motorcycle on the Going-to-the-Sun Road it’s clearly one of the top 10 national park experiences.

Going To The Sun Road

Riding the Going To The Sun Road

There is significantly less traffic (shuttle buses and tourists) when traversing the park east to west and we didn’t have to contend with large crowds at any of the prime viewing pullouts.  The road offers a visual assortment of moutain views that anyone will enjoy.  It’s narrow in places, and in a constant state of repair due to the annual freeze-thaw cycle.

We didn’t pull off at the Logan Pass visitor center.

Lake

Lake McDonald

We’ve been down this road before and the visitor center crowds are not our gig.  The view of the Clements Mountain and the southern tip of the Garden Wall were terrific.  Many of the park visitors motor up the pass aboard a Red Jammer, one of Glacier’s renowned fire engine-red, open-air touring buses that debuted in 1937.  Supposedly they gained their nickname for the way drivers “jammed” their way through the gears.

"Glides" on the Going To The Sun Road

“Glides” on the Going To The Sun Road

We had GoPro camera’s running through much of our way down to West Glacier where it looks like time has stood still in this remote corner of Montana.  The log buildings have changed very little since they were built in 1938.  Any “inappropriate development” has been curtailed and the village has maintain its historic character.  There was a quick break at the village and we were making good time so we continued on to Kalispell.  We motored on and thought about stopping in Libby, but continued on to Bonners Ferry then connected with Highway 95 south for Sandpoint, ID.

Bonner's Ferry, ID

Bonner’s Ferry, ID

We had left the plains-induced sweat running down our backs for cooler temperatures and it was nice riding.  Although I have to admit that the cumulative riding over the previous 11 days had started to wear on me.   We were heading toward home at this point so the time to pull off and take photos were few.  We were really about getting through some miles.

It had been a 345 mile day through some slow going,  RV and tourist ridden roads, but we were in Sandpoint and checked into the La Quinta Inn before 6pm.

Sandpoint, ID at the La Quinta Inn

Sandpoint, ID at the La Quinta Inn

We showered and had refreshments at Connie’s.  We intended to eat at a Thai restaurant, but ran out of patience and instead had dinner at Connie’s.

Sandpoint to Portland – The next morning we were again up and on the road before 7:30am because we had a 430+ mile day and the forecast was searing heat.  We headed out of town and caught a glimpse of the city’s new downtown by-pass as we headed across the Sandpoint Long Bridge.  It was slow going on Highway 95 to Coeur d’Alene, but we pick up speed once we connected with I-90 and then Highway 395 through the Washington State farm land.  We pulled into the Country Travel Plaza for a fuel and refreshment stop as the heat of the day wore on.  We had a late lunch at C&D Drive In at Boardman and then rolled into Portland around 5pm.

After 400-miles the sun sets on the "Glide"

The sun sets on the end of the 4-Corners “Glide” adventure

It’s not often that you get to ride for the pure enjoyment of the open road and the excitement of what’s around the next curve.

We were on the road for 12-days, visited eleven states, made new friends, discovered a part of history and rumbled across 4000 miles of the U.S.  There were smells, wind gusts, moisture hungry lowland desert, tall pines and scented blooms along with blazing sun, searing heat, rugged landscape and mountain peaks that reached up and touched the clouds.  It was a most rewarding trip and riding the adventure with some classy motorcycle buddies was priceless!

That was the 4-Corner’s ride in August 2012.  It is now history forever saved on the internet!

This is multi-part blog post.  Part 1 – HERE and Part 2 – HERE.

Photos by author.

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4-Corners By Harley-Davidson – Part 2

Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

This is a continuation of Part-1 HERE, of our 4000-mile journey to 4-Corners that led us through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota/Sturgis, Montana, Northern Idaho, Washington and then back to Oregon.

Cortez to Meeker, CO – When we plotted our original route to 4-Corners, I don’t think any of us imagined riding in such dry, scorching heat through unimaginably desolate terrain.  It seemed like the buzzards were the only thing alive and they were circling patiently overhead for a couple days.  As a result, we decided it was time to head north for some cooler weather.

Red Mountain Pass

Red Mountain Pass – 10,708 Feet

On this morning’s departure the buzzards had taken the day off. We headed east on Highway 160 toward historic Durango and the Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. We stopped at the Durango Harley-Davidson dealer and picked up a t-shirt and exchanged some information about where to ride with other motorcyclists.  We then headed north on Highway 550 toward Silverton and then Highway 110, over what is also called the “Million Dollar Highway” toward the little the town of Ouray — “The Switzerland of America.”  We allowed for plenty of time to ride this route as the winding roads go through mountains and we knew there would be stops for photos and time to enjoy the vistas, waterfalls, deserted mining towns.

Looking down onto Silverton, Colorado

Looking down onto Silverton, Colorado

The GPS displayed 10,708 feet when we crossed over the summit and started to descend into Silverton.  I’m not sure what the town is like in the winter with its 300+ inches of snow that falls each year. We stopped for fuel and a soda break then rolled onto the main part of the Million Dollar Highway – north from Silverton to Ouray.  I’ve heard a couple  different reasons about why it has its name. It is either because it cost a million dollars a mile to build, or because the fill they used to make up the road has traces of gold and silver contained within it. Whichever is true, it is still a great name for a road.  The road itself is a terrific ride, but there are some parts where you have to pay close attention with steep drop-offs and no guard rails. In other places the road hugs the side of a steep slope of a mountain and in others, it has great bends which are ideal for motorcycling.

Outside Ouray and the gully washer and hail were on the way!

Outside Ouray and the gully washer and hail were on the way!

About 20 miles from Ouray after going around a mountain switch back the weather changed quickly.  We could see dark clouds rolling up the mountain valley, the temperature dropped 15 degrees and it started to spit some moisture.  We pulled over and hunted for rain gear which somehow had relocated to a deeper part of the hard bags in the days of searing heat.  It was a good call, because in less than 15 mins there came lightening and a gully washer.  As we rolled through Ouray it was hailing BB sized hail and the road was literally flowing with a mud/water mix.  We could see blue sky and kept rolling through the weather.  By the time we arrive in Ridgeway it stopped.

In Meeker, CO. washing the dried mud off the bikes.

In Meeker, CO. washing the dried mud off the bikes.

We finally arrived in Meeker and overnighted at the Elk Mountain Inn.  We ate a Mexican dinner at Ma Famiglia which was an extremely satisfying meal with great service.  We discussed riding to Sturgis since we were headed north and needed to start thinking about our return route.  The next morning coffee was on early and the hosts were very pleasant.  We wanted to clean the motorcycles after riding in the mud flow outside Ouray the previous day and they offered us a hose, buckets and cleaning soap.

On Wyoming Highway 70

On Wyoming Highway 70

Meeker to Torrington, WY – We were up early to clean the mud residue off the motorcycles.  Afterward we rolled north toward Craig on Highway 13/789.  Once we passed into Wyoming we headed east on Highway 70 where it passes over the Continental Divide and then descending onto the junction for Highway 230 north.  We picked up Highway 130 east and rode by Lake Marie and Mirror Lake while crossing through the Medicine Bow National Forest.

Highway 130 - Medicine Bow National Forest.

Highway 130 – Medicine Bow National Forest.

In Centennial we stopped for fuel at the Trading Post and then continued east on Highway 130.  At Laramie we got on I-80 east and headed toward Cheyenne.  It was a quick trip to Cheyenne and then we headed north on I-25 and then at Exit 17 is where US Highway 85 (Torrington Road) branches off to the northeast.

We arrived in Torrington fairly late in the day and tried a couple of motels which were full of bikers before ending up at the Motel 6.   It was the only place with vacancy and that should have been a red flag.  It was being renovated or had closed and then sort of reopened, but didn’t know what it was going to be in final form?

The Motel 6 door decal was duck taped over...

The Motel 6 door decal was duck taped over…

All the signs were removed from the building and significant remodeling was stalled.  We were fortunate to have A/C and a bed/shower, but I can honestly say don’t stay at this place until they get it finished.  We ate dinner at Deacons Restaurant and the hearty steak meal helped offset the strange motel situation.

Torrington to Rapid City, SD – On this morning we got up early and traveled the 8+ miles for a photo op on the Nebraska state line.  We did a U-turn and headed back onto the route that is known as the “Traditional” way for riders to get from northern Colorado to Sturgis.

We started to notice a lot more motorcyclist as if the NO vacancy signs weren’t a clue the night before.

On Highway 18 going to Custer, SD.

On Highway 18 going to Custer, SD.

We continued on Highway 85 north and headed to the town of Lusk.  Lusk was full of Bikers, and coincidently was having a big parade.  We had planned to get fuel there, there was a long wait at the gas station and one of the law enforcement officers who had traffic block mentioned that we should just head to the next town.

This stretch of road is heavily patrolled, but despite that we witnessed a number of bikers running near 90mph, though I don’t recommend it.  In fact, we came up on the first accident of the trip on this road.  It looked like an overloaded motorcycle dumped their load and skidded off into the ditch.  If anyone had been hurt they were already gone by the time we rolled past as the tow vehicle was picking up the motorcycle.

Crazy Horse Mountain Monument

Crazy Horse Mountain Monument

About halfway between Lusk and Newcastle is Mule Creek Junction with a nice rest area and it’s possible to head east on Highway 18 from there into Custer, SD which is what we did.

We rolled through Custer and past the Crazy Horse Mountain Monument and stopped in Rapid City.  We paid double the going rate for a room at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel and spent the remainder of the day and evening enjoying the typical Sturgis activity.

Knuckle-8We were only in town for 24 hours, but managed to hit The Knuckle Saloon for refreshments, One-Eyed Jacks Saloon for dinner, and see plenty of billboards, souvenirs, belt buckles, t-shirts, music and people watching on Main Street well into the evening.

Rapid City to Billings, MT – The next morning was another early rise.  It was a beautiful sun-drenched morning.

Sturgis S.D. at dusk

Sturgis S.D. at dusk

There was a quick sausage biscuit (yeah, we eat well on the road!) at Burger King and it was on the road again.  It was going to be an “Interstate Day” – all the miles would be on the freeway.  We motored west on I-90 toward Sundance then Gillette and Sheridan.

As the miles clicked by I gazed out over the landscape, it was not hard to imagine the challenges faced by those who struggled to forge a living from this land 150 years ago. It says something about the human spirit that they even tried.  When you’re rolling along on the freeway you soon learn to really hate semi-trucks and RVs.

Buffalo Country

Buffalo Country

These behemoth’s create their own wind patterns and take no issue with trying to out run motorcycles cruising above the speed limit!

Much of this route is prairie with long stretches of straight road.  Just outside Hardin we rolled past the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument at the Highway 212 junction.  We’ve ridden Hwy 212 a couple of times when returning from Sturgis, but this time we needed to make up some miles.

Rest stop in route to Billings, MT.

Rest stop in route to Billings, MT.

Passing by Little Big Horn I remember seeing the 135th anniversary signs of the battle.  It was late 1875, Sioux and Cheyenne Indians left their reservations, outraged over the continued intrusions of “whites” into their sacred lands in the Black Hills.   They gathered in Montana with Sitting Bull to fight for their lands.  The following spring, two victories over the US Calvary emboldened them to fight on in the summer of 1876 – the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Dusk at Holiday Inn Express

Dusk at Holiday Inn Express

A couple years ago I blogged about the Guidon, an artifact found/auctioned off from that battle.

It had been another hot day and we arrived in Billings at the Holiday Inn Express on the edge of town.  It was a new hotel and had all the amenities.  We headed to the pool and then I remember having dinner at a Subway shop up the road followed by some DQ ice cream.  There were a number of bikers returning from Sturgis who overnighted at the hotel and we made some new friends.

This is a multi-part blog post.  Part -1 HERE and Part – 3 HERE.

Photos by author.

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4-Corners Route Map

4-Corners Route Map

It doesn’t get much better than a tour of America’s most famous roads aboard its most famous motorcycle.

To be clear,  this wasn’t the SCMA sanctioned ride to the four-corner cities in the U.S. (San Ysidro, CA; Blaine, WA; Madawaska, ME; and Key West, FL) in 21 days or less.  I’m talking about the 4-corners of Arizona/ Colorado/New Mexico/Utah which is a leisure trip in comparison.

Cruising Toward Boise

Cruising Toward Boise

I’m very late in posting a summary, but about 10-months ago, three of us set out for the mystical 4-corners.  It turned into a 4000-mile journey over a couple weeks that led us through Eastern Oregon, Southern Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota/Sturgis, Montana, Northern Idaho, Washington and then back to Oregon.

My view is that any motorcycle is better than a car, and not for the biker type reasons, it’s because you engage with the environment and the people in a far more intimate way. When it rains, you get wet, when the temperature drops, you get cold, and if those sound like reasons to take a car, then you just don’t understand – feeling the air and the weather rather than viewing it through a windshield or soaking in the experience of the environment instead of merely looking at it truly is the only way to go.

Boise Street Celebration

Boise Street Celebration

On this road trip, Moab, the Million Dollar Highway and Beartooth Pass were my most memorable highlights.   The road trip was much more than just a motorcycle ride.  We were exposed to multiple days of 100+ searing heat, dodged wildfires and rode through hail and torrential rain storms with “mud-flows” on Colorado’s Highway 110 where fishing gear seem appropriate!  Nothing we couldn’t handle and it all made for the adventure of touring by motorcycle.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Boise To Spanish Fork, UT

Boise To Spanish Fork, UT

The romance and history of the great American road trip is a powerful draw.  I’ve wanted to ride through Monument Valley since seeing an image in an American motorcycle magazine smuggled into an electronics amplifiers lecture in college: an abandoned gas stop, tumbleweed, a rusting Phillips fuel sign you could almost hear squeaking in the hot, dry breeze and, down the road, a post-war Ford tilted into a ditch, its sun-bleached side peppered with bullet holes.  Yeah, we all know the imagery; 20th century Americana, the open road, the songs, and the countless films – so, let’s jump into the actual ride:

Departing Spanish Fork, UT

Departing Spanish Fork, UT

Portland to Boise –  I’ve blogged ad nauseam about riding from Portland to Boise on various trips to Sturgis and won’t bore you by repeating the details.  We departed early and it was about getting some miles under our tires with I-84 being the fastest route east.  We overnighted in Boise where the perpetual street scene celebration seems to always be running.  We grabbed some dinner at the Reef “Tiki” Restaurant.

Cruising the CO. River

Cruising the Colorado River on Highway 128

Boise to Spanish Fork, UT –  We departed Boise fairly early and continued to roll on the freeway through semi-arid rolling hills.  We were not fully into the “tourist” mode until we stopped in Spanish Fork, UT outside Salt Lake City.  We did a quick stop at Timpango’s Harley-Davidson.  The 6-acre complex and building was the brainchild of Dave Tuomisto and was a great story.  It was a mega-dealer – almost a mini-museum – and part of Harley-Davidson’s growth strategy, but during the “Great Recession” fell on bad times and Joe Timmons purchased the dealer for pennies on the dollar.  It’s a unique complex and well worth a stop if you’re ever in the area.

Wide Open Skies

Highway 128 Heading Toward Moab

The most memorable item I recall from this part of the trip – I’m writing this post nearly a year later – was the incredible amount of road construction on I-15 in and around Salt Lake City.  It’s as if there was a mass-transit revolt by residents and the state decided to build enough lanes to accommodate traffic into the late 21st century.  There was no time for day dreaming as car’s cut us off and darted across multiple lanes.

At Arches National Park

At Arches National Park

Spanish Fork to Moab –  On this day the ride was all about mountains.  US-6 leads to Moab and Arches National Park and from the first mile we were climbing.  The grade was mild so the elevation stretched out for miles until we finally reached the summit at 7500 feet.  All the while peaks with short scrubby trees surrounded us.  US-6 between Spanish Fork and Price has the honor of being one of America’s most dangerous roads owning it to a mix of heavy trucks, RVs and cars traveling at freeway speeds through narrow canyons.  There were 519 fatal and serious accidents from 1996-2008.

Balancing Rock at Arches National Park

Balancing Rock at Arches National Park

The descent from the summit was much quicker though it didn’t seem all that steep and we ended up on I-70 at a Papa Joes Gas-n-Go station where we fill up the fuel tanks.  We headed east on I-70.   Most people will take Highway-191 at the Crescent Junction interchange into Moab.  There are over 8500 cars that travel this road daily.  We decided to take a less-traveled route that adds only a few miles and you come into Moab from the back side on Highway 128.

Parade of Elephants at Arches National Park

Parade of Elephants at Arches National Park

This spectacular 44-mile scenic byway meanders along the Colorado River and the lack of vehicles was a bonus. About halfway you pass a viewpoint of the red rock spires of the Fisher Towers which is set against the peaks of the La Sal Mountains.  It was an impressive scenic ride with the red sandstone walls rising up around us as we watched the colors of the sunset.  It was a day of searing heat and we headed to the Best Western Plus Greenwell Inn pool to cool down.  We had dinner at the Moab Brewery and reviewed the “tourist” plans for the next day.

4-Corners National Monument

4-Corners National Monument

Moab to Cortez, CO (with stop at 4-Corners Monument) – We awoke early to get a jump on the desert heat and rolled out of town in the cool morning toward the River Canyon.  The plan was to ride the loop in Arches National Park and do some tourist sightseeing early then rumble toward 4-corners.  There have been good books written about Arches and this simple post will not do it justice.

4-Corners National Monument Plaque

4-Corners National Monument Commemorative Plaque

We rode most of the 36-mile round trip scenic drive.  We rolled through the petrified sand dunes between “Courthouse Towers” and “The Windows.”  We stopped and walked around a bit at “Balanced Rock” and again at Elephant Butte near the “Parade of Elephants.”   Unfortunately we didn’t have the time or were we dressed appropriately to walk the 1.5mile hike into “Delicate Arch.”  We took a lot of photos and then exited the park.

Departed 4-Corners Monument Heading to Cortez

Departed 4-Corners Monument Heading to Cortez

We headed south on Highway 191 where the only sound was of the V-Twin rumbling off the canyon walls.  Horses nuzzled the rough cottonwoods by the riverbank and the red sandstone walls rose up around us again as we headed toward Monticello and Blanding.  I don’t exactly remember which route we took to Montezuma Creek – all roads looked similar – but we ended up in Teec Nos Pos, AZ and then connected to Highway 160 for the 4-corners monument.  We paid the fee to get into the park and walked around, did some shopping at the Indian vendor stands which wrap around the monument area.  It was cool to stand on the 4-corner disc and straddle the four states.

cortez-motelIt was getting late in the day and we really needed to find a town large enough to host a motel so we departed.  We headed north on Highway 160 and overnighted in Cortez, CO., at the Best Western Turquoise Inn & Suite.  It was another scorching day of heat so a quick dip in the pool was in order and then we headed to dinner to discuss the next day riding plans.

This is a multi-part post.  Part-2 continues HERE.

Photos taken by author.  Map courtesy of Apple.

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