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Thread: 2013 Voni and Paul Summer Wander

  1. #1
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    2013 Voni and Paul Summer Wander

    This morning 94 motorcycles departed Cranberry Township, just north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania headed by several less than direct routes to Rancho Cordova, California. These motorcyclists are riding the second leg of the 2013 Iron Butt Rally, popularly described as "11 days, 11,000 miles". Those unfamiliar with the rally should think of it as a very large scavenger hunt. Riders receive a certain number of bonus points for taking a photograph or obtaining a receipt at some specified location. There are many more possible bonuses than anybody can possibly obtain. Some bonuses may only be available for specified limited periods of time. The game is to plan and ride a route collecting as many bonus points as possible. Voni and I are not among those 94 riders. We rode and successfully completed the rally ten years ago but have not had any irresistible urges to repeat the adventure since then. We are however also headed to Rancho Cordova, California and intend to arrive there sometime Sunday. Not coincidentally those 94 rally riders are expected to arrive Sunday too. The checkpoint window is open for two hours. Riders who arrive on time suffer no penalty, but during that two hour window penalty points apply for every minute the rider is late. At the end of the two hours, any rider who has not arrived is DNF - did not finish - and is out of the game.

    After spending a few weeks visiting Mike in Kansas and Melanie and family in Iowa, we headed west on our road bikes to California. Paul will work at the scoring table as rally riders arrive in Rancho Cordova. Voni is the semi-official hugger at the checkpoint, hugging each rider as they arrive. She has done so every biennial rally since 1999. After the riders depart Rancho Cordova headed back to Pittsburgh on Monday morning we too will depart Rancho Cordova. But our plans are to visit Voni's cousin Paul Hathaway at a cabin on the river west of Santa Rosa and to then attend our friend (who we met riding in Southern Africa) Lindsey Mickles' weekend-long 80th birthday party in Petaluma. When we depart Petaluma we will head directly to our annual BMW national rally in Salem, Oregon.

    Since leaving Mike's in Kansas we have been loitering our way toward California. We allowed plenty of time for a change. We spent an overnight in Colby, Kansas and then camped for three nights in the delightful Cache La Poudre River canyon northwest of Fort Collins, Colorado. About that time newscasters began describing the "record setting heat wave" that had descended upon the Southwest United States. Our entire route from Colorado to California, across western Colorado, Utah, and Nevada was forecast to be not just summer hot but brutally hot. Triple digit temperatures were forecast to be the norm. So we devised a plan to start early each day and to be off the road and at a motel by noon or thereabouts each day. It has been a pleasant trip. Our stops after short days have included: Vernal, Utah; Nephi, Utah for two nights; Ely, Nevada; and Fallon, Nevada. On the non-travel day at Nephi we rode the beautiful Mount Nebo Scenic Loop northeast of Nephi (pronounced 'knee fy').

    Today we slept late, Paul wrote his next technical column for the BMW Owners News a month early, (he wrote the current one last night) and we rode a grueling 65 miles - hotel to hotel - to Carson City. Saturday will be a rest day. Then early Sunday morning we will ride the last whole 115 miles to the rally checkpoint.

    In 2008, after we returned from a motorcycle ride to Alaska, Paul was asked "what is the most important thing to take on a trip to Alaska?" His response was simply "time". "Allow time to see things, do things, and change plans if necessary". Given our current trip we couldn't agree more.

    We will report more as it happens.

    Lots of pictures here:

    http://vonig.smugmug.com/Motorcycles...3636&k=qqHLQwN










    Voni AND her Mechanic Paul
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  2. #2
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    Great pics Voni! I did a sheep drive one time as well on a NYC-San Diego-San Fran trip while we were crossing Colorado. Very cool and something you just don't see in Times Square!

    Ride safe!!

  3. #3
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Cool! That's the plan!

    Lots tricky to ride in amongst all those sheep!

    Voni
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  4. #4
    Back in the Saddle mcmxcivrs's Avatar
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    Glad to see Big Red the RS out on the road again.

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  5. #5
    IBA #44567 Ken F's Avatar
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    Great Pictures as usual Voni! Thanks for sharing your adventures with us 'po workin folk.....lol
    Hopefully someday....

    Ken
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  6. #6
    Just me rad's Avatar
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    Gonna be hard to top this pic....Way cool

    P1170325-M.jpg

  7. #7
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    When last we reported our whereabouts we were lounging in Carson City, Nevada for two days before proceeding a whole 115 miles to Rancho Cordova, (near Sacramento) California, the checkpoint on day 7 of the 11 day Iron Butt Rally. We took a less direct but much more scenic route to Rancho Cordova stretching the distance all the way to 137 miles. We burned more fuel but it was worth it. Here the main roads run generally northish and southish in the valleys, while the connector roads twist and turn up and down over and through the ridges. The topography makes for excellent motorcycle riding if one takes the path less traveled.

    We arrived at the rally checkpoint mid-day, with the riders mostly arriving from late afternoon into the evening. The checkpoint window was open from 8:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. We had time to again meet, greet, and enjoy the company of many of our friends whom we see at most once every year or two. Then the riders began to arrive. Voni assumed her "staff" duties at the check-in room where the rider's arrival time was recorded, instructions given and where after 8:00 p.m. any penalty points were assigned. Paul joined the crew in the scoring room where each rider presented photos or receipts to claim the points for the bonus locations they had visited. Most of the riders arrived on time without penalty points. A few received some penalty. A handful didn't arrive until too late but they had called in so no one had to worry.

    We got up very early on Monday morning to have breakfast with the riders and to see them open their bonus listings for the final leg. They all went off to plan their routes back to Pittsburgh, PA while we packed up for a 120 mile ride - the long way - over to Paul and Lyn Hathaway's cabin in the woods on the Russian River near Forestville, CA.





    Iron Butt links
    http://vonig.smugmug.com/Motorcycles...0418837_79xVmH







    And they're off to PA
    http://vonig.smugmug.com/Motorcycles...0424352_5Kz9wL

    Paul and Lyn were at the cabin when we arrived Monday, but they needed to leave Tuesday. They graciously offered the cabin for us to stay in for two more nights. We enjoyed that immensely! It is such a magical place! Imagine hot tubbing in the Redwoods, lots of catching up and the most scrumptious meals! If you like, they do have a website where you can book your own time there. We took the opportunity to ride over to the coast, up the Pacific Coast Highway to Jenner for lunch, across the hills from Ft. Ross to Cazadero and back to the cabin. We rode four hours, during which we had traveled exactly two miles further than from the Adobe in Texas to the grocery store in Alpine - 55 miles. But we surely enjoyed the roads.

    http://vonig.smugmug.com/Nature/2013...4529&k=Vnh4qbw






    When we left the Cabin in the Woods we rode back to the coast and south on Highway 1 to Bodega Bay. We camped one night at Bodega Dunes Campground, part of the Sonoma Beach State Recreation Area; a very nice campground.






    Riding Sonoma County
    http://vonig.smugmug.com/Motorcycles...0126&k=xgtQKnr

    From there it was a 43 mile day, riding to Bodega Head and then Petaluma for Lindsey Mickles' 80th birthday weekend. We first met Lindsey when we toured for two months in five countries in Southern Africa. Without his coaching the dirt roads we traveled in Namibia would have been a lot more challenging. He was a fascinating travel companion and remains a delightful friend. We had a get-together with some old and some new friends at the hotel Friday night, and rode the Napa Wine Train with 60 other birthday partyers for dinner on Saturday. Tomorrow is a barbeque at Lindsey's house in the afternoon, from which we will travel north as far as Yuba City. Then on Monday and Tuesday we will ride the remaining 600 miles (again the long way not on the Interstate) to Salem, Oregon for Camp Gears for young riders on Wednesday and our BMW owner's once-a-year International Rally on Thursday through Sunday morning. Paul and Lyn's Russian River Retreat

    Lindsey's 80th Birthday and Napa Valley Wine Train
    http://vonig.smugmug.com/Motorcycles...0024&k=dRsK6L2







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  8. #8
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rad View Post
    Gonna be hard to top this pic....Way cool

    P1170325-M.jpg
    When Paul got done helping her she asked him if he wore a helmet and was so relieved to hear that he did!

    Voni
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  9. #9
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    We're been having a blast at the BMW MOA international Rally in Salem, Oregon.

    A link to pictures here.

    http://www.bmwmoa.org/forum/showthre...d=1#post889719

    Now for the next plan . . .

    Voni
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  10. #10
    Registered User BEEMERCHEF's Avatar
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    It works...
    This is a real nice way to stay in touch.
    Stay safe.
    Ara and Spirit

  11. #11
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Cool! Glad to see you here.

    We need to update again, but there are so many cool backroads to ride. Off to Stanley, Idaho tomorrow.

    Voni
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  12. #12
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    We last wrote from Petaluma, California during Lindsey's 80th Birthday weekend. Since then we have attended the BMW MOA International Rally in Salem, Oregon and traversed back across the Rockies and most of the Great Plains. At Salem we made a presentation again for the young riders attending Camp Gears, and Paul did two bike maintenance technical seminars, as he has done for the past 17 years. We were unable to attend the memorial service for our remarkable friend Ardys Kellerman in Rhode Island so several of us held our own, telling Ardys stories, at the rally in Salem. We also told Ardys stories to everybody who would listen while stopped for 20 minutes in a construction zone in Oregon at the same time as when her service was being held in Rhode Island.

    Leaving the rally we dawdled a bit camping in the delightful National Forests in Oregon. When we reached the valley near Boise, Idaho we encountered triple digit temperatures for the first time since escaping Kansas and eastern Colorado headed west, so we bailed into a motel in Ontario, Oregon and hightailed it for the higher country of Stanley, Idaho early the next morning. We have friends who live in the lower Idaho area and don't understand their weather at all. Furnace Creek in Death Valley in California has the record for the highest-ever recorded and validated temperature on the face of the earth at 139 degrees. Paul calls Boise, Idaho "Furnace Creek North".

    Leaving the heat near Boise we have spent the last several days riding in moderate temperatures, no rain, and little wind. We camped for several days at some of our favorite campgrounds north of Yellowstone, at Sheridan, Wyoming, and in the Nebraska National Forest. Yesterday we saw a few drops of rain on our faceshields for the first time since that little misting back in the Poudre River Canyon several weeks ago. Today we are at Harold Warp's Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska. This is an amazing place with a huge collection of almost everything one can imagine. Paul has declared this a "must do" place to bring grandsons Noah and Brody. We can wander the several buildings full of thousands of things until they say that their "brains are full".

    Riding across the prairies can be fun when the weather is good, but one seldom exclaims "Wow! Look at that". But as we left the sweeping brown hills in eastern Wyoming for the greener grasslands and tree lined creeks of western Nebraska we had two such Wow moments. One was a large herd of Longhorn Cattle west of Fort Robinson. Voni took pictures. The second was when a group of 6 or 7 antelope ran full-tilt-boogy across the highway in front of us, streaking from left to right. Their mother ought to be ashamed of them because they didn't slow down a bit to look left or right. They were a 3 or 4 seconds ahead of us but Paul slowed way down anyway because he wanted to see what was chasing them. We haven't seen antelope run like that since the time we saw a group of them being chased by a lion in Botswana, Africa.

    After riding in what was declared to be an unusual heat wave headed west, we are now enjoying what is described as unusually cold weather for the prairies in July. We have been riding in the upper 60s and lower 70s for the past couple of days. It is delightful. The only major weather system of thunder storms in the United States today has settled right between south central Nebraska and Lawrence, Kansas - where we are headed. Given the luxury of time we decided to be weather wimps and just stay here at Pioneer Village until tomorrow. Then we will ride the last 300 miles to Lawrence with cloudy skies and light rain at worst, instead of dodging severe thunder storm cells today.

    From Lawrence we will head north to Iowa, and then east to take Noah and Brody camping and exploring with the ghosts of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn at Hannibal, Missouri. Then we will switch gears and head west again to the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia with the Little Guy teardrop camper and our dirt bikes in tow.

    We will report more from that adventure as it happens.



    Pictures Oregon to Nebraska here:
    http://vonig.smugmug.com/Motorcycles...1335&k=R5CNcZL














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  13. #13
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    Greetings from the Yaak River valley in very northwest Montana. We left you as we were headed east riding our street motorcycles towards Iowa and Kansas from Salem, Oregon. We visited son Mike and daughter Melanie and family (and of course grandsons Noah and Brody) in Kansas and Iowa. We watched as the boys took their next rounds of tests toward their black belts in Karate. Then we loaded them in the truck and hauled them to Hannibal, Missouri to camp at and go caving by lantern light with Voni's sister Becky and her husband Al at the Mark Twain Cave Campground on the Mississippi just south of Hannibal.

    Caving pictures here:
    http://vonig.smugmug.com/Other/2013-...Qgcb#!p=2&n=36

    We then switched gears. We left the street bikes at Mike's in Kansas and loaded our smaller "dirt" bikes onto our "Little Guy" Teardrop camper. We headed back to the intermountain Northwest. We camped in the city park at Fort Morgan, Colorado and then proceeded to spend a couple of days (again) in the wonderful Cashe La Poudre Canyon northwest of Fort Collins, Colorado. We proceeded to camp at Salmon, Idaho having skirted Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons by only a few miles to the south. Our pattern was to stay a couple of nights in the same place, and on the second day, to explore winding dirt and mountain roads in the area. This country is magnificent, both for driving through and for riding in.

    Lots more pictures here:
    http://vonig.smugmug.com/Motorcycles...3564&k=wppMs77

    Then we headed off to one of our favorite BMW rallies hosted by the BC (British Columbia) Beemers at Nakusp, British Columbia. Upon entering Canada we were required to turn in our dangerous bag of cherries and our four hazardous apples. We took the easterly route along Kootenay Lake to the free ferry, then to Kaslo, New London, and Nakusp. We enjoyed ourselves immensely for three days at the rally in Nakusp. We missed this rally last year when Paul was exposed to too much forest fire smoke for too many days, so we glad to get back to see many of our Canadian friends - and a few from the U.S. Pacific Northwest too. We hosted two morning coffee discussion sessions and one evening Question and Answer session about our experiences traveling, camping, and living-on motorycles. Voni talked about and answered questions about riding a million accident free miles. Paul's morning session was mostly about motorcycle repair and maintenance. A random sample of Voni's pictures flashed on the screen in the background to give people a clearer idea of where we live and how we travel. We took advantage of the opportunity to explore the area including a ride to a former silver mining town (now a ghost town more or less), and to explore several of the dirt roads which head off uphill into the surrounding mountains. These pictures will come later when we have more internet . . .

    On our return trip back into the United States we took the westerly route to Nelson and then back to Creston and across the border. We of course stopped at the border entry station to be greeted by the dour look of the Immigration and Customs Inspection officer. Without a smile he examined our passports. He then asked, "What is that slogan you have down in Texas. Guessing, Paul replied "The Lone Star State." Without a smile he replied not that one. Voni ventured, "Remember the Alamo". Nope! He looked at us and then said with a big smile, "Everything is bigger in Texas. What happened to your little camper". He asked where we had been and we told him we had been at a campout in Nakusp. He looked at the two bikes on the Little Guy platform and asked, "Did you go dirt biking?" We said yes and he then asked "How old are you?" We told him. His response was "Right on! Have a good trip!" and we were off.

    We are now in the National Forrest on the banks of the Yaak River just west of Troy, Montana. We are headed generally and not quickly back towards Iowa and Kansas. We will eventually wind up in New Mexico and then head home - but not for another month or so.


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  14. #14
    sMiling Voni's Avatar
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    We left our followers hanging out on the banks of the Yaak River in extreme Northwest Montana. We have been winding our way eastward toward and across across the Great Plains. Leaving the Yaak River valley we headed to Yellowstone National Park. We camped overnight at Beaver Creek, one of our favorite campgrounds in the national forest northwest of West Yellowstone. Then, for a closer base location we moved to Bakers Hole, just 3 miles from West Yellowstone. We did something we haven't done for many years - we spent a day riding our bikes around Yellowstone National Park instead of simply hurrying through the park. There were five active forest fires burning in the park and several intermittent road closures at the time. We hiked some of the roadside and nearby wonders in the upwind part of the park, taking care to stay out of the smoke. Wildlife to see were plentiful. We saw bison (buffalo) of course, and elk, and deer, and mountain sheep. We also saw a big black bear ambling off into the trees. We didn't get a picture of the bear. Taking photos of bears from the comfortable interior of a car or truck is one thing - stopping to do it from the seat of a little dirt bike seems to leave us a bit overexposed.

    Leaving Yellowstone behind, we loaded the bikes on the Little Guy and headed to another of our favorite locations - the Big Horn Mountains east of Cody, Wyoming. We camped at another favorite campground, Prune Creek near Burgess Junction, and took the opportunity to ride a number of the National Forest roads in the area. We then rode west to the Medicine Wheel National Monument and the Medicine Wheel at the top of Medicine Mountain. This national historic site, located at 10,000 feet above sea level, is composed of what appears to be a large wheel with a hub and spokes laid out with stones for an unknown purpose some time between 700 and 1100 years ago. We have intended to go to the top of Medicine Mountain on several occasions but the steep gravel roadway to the top has been more than we wanted to undertake on big road bikes. But our smaller dirt bikes were perfect for the task.

    Our next stop was Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills in South Dakota. Established in the very early 1990s as the nation's 7th National Park and the first to feature a cave, Wind Cave NP is both an underground and an above ground treasure. It is one of the largest, and among the most complex cave mazes so far discovered on earth. We took a tour. The surface of the park lies at an interface of the great prairie and the Ponderosa Pine forest. The park is the habitat for one of the largest and most thriving herds of American Bison, having been started by the relocation of 16 head from the Bronx Zoo. Later a few more were brought in from Yellowstone National Park. There are now several hundred wandering the park in five or six groups. The signs in the park warned "Buffalo are dangerous" and the brochures advised to stay 100 yards away from them.

    So imagine that you are riding small motorcycles down a narrow dusty park road and pass by a group of these critters, closer than 100 yards, but not really too close. And then imagine that you go a little ways and find the road and adjacent area full of a whole bunch more of them. So discretion being the better part of valor you turn your motorcycles around to go back the other way. Then imagine that the first group is now all over the road too. And imagine that you have seen on YouTube a video showing the power of an enraged bison as it pounds a large pickup truck sideways into the ditch. We did manage to extricate ourselves unharmed by waiting until the lead bull had wandered away, and scaring a few cows and calves, and ourselves, in the process.

    From Wind Cave we proceeded as directly as possible to visit Melanie and her family in Ankeny, Iowa and visit Mike at Lawrence, Kansas. On our last trip across the plains it was ten or more degrees cooler than normal. This time it was ten or more degrees hotter than normal, but the Avalanche has air conditioning so we didn't care like we do when riding our motorcycles.

    We will spend Labor Day Weekend at a family reunion of sorts with Voni's four sisters and parts of their families at Holiday Island near Eureka Springs, Arkansas. We will then collect Stormy who has been at summer camp with her cousins Winston and Mouser at Mike's in Kansas and head to a BMW rally at the Sipapu Ski Area south of Taos, New Mexico. From there we plan to head home to the Adobe. With all the rain we've been hearing about we're expecting lots of green at our desert home.

    Lots more pictures here:
    http://vonig.smugmug.com/Motorcycles...0757&k=9L7h7JW













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