Tribute to my riding buddy

This gallery contains 8 photos.

He fell out in Rhode Island :(. Never complained and always ready to ride. RIP little buddy. Good thing I didn’t bring a dog.

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Póóhsapoot! (Come here!)

IMG_0566I would have liked to spend more time in Montana and I plan to visit here again. It is so beautiful here. The Blackfeet Nation has a saying on their visitor info website. “Come Share Heaven With Us.” I couldn’t say it better myself. The small towns are dozens of miles apart with huge cattle ranches and farms in between. I remember crossing the border and after a few miles I pulled over when I got a view of wheat fields in what looked like was a glacier lake. I got to thinking about whether the water was removed by man or natural causes. A mystery I will look into later.

IMG_0581Throughout my trip the prairie land was green as far as I can see surrounded by mountain ranges. It brought back memories of springtime where I grew up. It was my favorite time of year. The hills would turn green with wildflowers, the trees grew new leaves, and the creeks would fill up. My commute to work consisted of traveling through a big ranch for 8 miles and I remember even as a kid dreaming of living as a cowboy. I got to have a small taste of that growing up when my dad leased 450 acres for cattle. We had it for only a few months because my father suffered a serious accident and he had to give up the land while recovering for almost a year. That also got me to thinking about my dad I sometimes wonder what would have been if that didn’t happen. Even though the cattle ranches were shutting down he still tried pursuing his dream  of being a cowboy. Who knows how different our lives would have been if the accident didn’t happen but at least I still had my dad.

IMG_0647After leaving Glacier National Park I crossed into Blackfeet Nation reservation country. I started noticing that almost all of the houses were in disrepair with tires on top of plastic sheets to keep the rain out. I didn’t realize where I was until I took a small break and looked at the map. I couldn’t believe how big it was and later found out it was larger than the state of Delaware.

IMG_0635Through out the ride there were wild horses and colts running wild and I felt like I was in a dream. They are known to be very generous people and I got to experience that generosity when I had a hard time finding a road out after riding in circles. This guy must have been watching me run back and forth so he jumped in his car, flagged me down and after he learned which road I was looking for he led me to the turn-off. I drove by it a few times and it looked like someone’s driveway because it was fenced off except for the entrance which had a cattle guard.

IMG_0646When I went to turn on Hwy 89 heading south I noticed a fellow motorcyclist who looked like he was broke down. I pulled up and he greeted me with a thick Canadian accent. Bruce from Ontario thought he had enough meat on his rear tire to make his trip. The center was completely bald and the cords was showing in some parts. He was waiting on a tow truck so I hung out with him until it arrived. It was a bad time since it was so close to the 4th of July weekend I wondered how he was going to find another tire in the middle of nowhere. I hope he fared well.

IMG_0644Unknown to me I was heading into a problem of my own. I got back on the road and a few miles later my fuel light came on. I thought nothing of it until I passed through towns with no gas stations. I was getting worried after 40 miles and pulled over to ask a lady who was gardening in her front yard where the nearest gas station was. She said it was in a town named Choteau and I had 21 more miles to go. With all the gear I am lugging I knew I was going to cut it really close and I rode a little slower to help conserve gas. As I see the city limit sign come on I looked and I was at 69 miles. Sure enough the bike started coughing and I shook the bike to try and keep it going but it finally died.

IMG_0643If the lady was right I was about a mile or so away from the gas station and I started taking my riding gear off before deciding whether or not I was going to call road service or walk to the gas station. I wasn’t pleased with either option because I had no idea of knowing for sure how long the walk was or how long it would take a tow truck to deliver gas to me. While I was taking my gear off a sheriff car stopped and there were two deputies inside.

IMG_0654Deputy: Are you broke down?
Me: I ran out of gas.
Sheriff: What size is the bike?
Me: It’s a 650.
Sheriff: That’s not too bad, you should be able to push it to the gas station.
Both deputies chuckle.
I roll my eyes.

They offered to give me a ride to the gas station which was less than a mile away. IMG_0637Unfortunately they didn’t have a gas container I could borrow or buy so I walked back outside and told the deputies. They told me right now it’s a bad time because all the stores were closed for Independence Day. Thinking they had already done enough I told them I appreciate the help and that I should call a tow truck. Then the one deputy told me to wait right here and ten minutes later he showed up with a gas can. Sweet. They gave me a ride back and I thanked them for the help. Running out of gas was a minor inconvenience after thinking about it. I got to experience some good old small town hospitality which I will be sure to remember. It got me to thinking about where I grew up at back in the 70’s. It’s a different place now but back then you could always expect somebody to stop and help or at least check to make sure you were okay.

IMG_0649I decided to grab a bite to eat after fueling up and while going through town I saw a camping area. I put in a good day of riding so I decided to stay in town for the night. In the rodeo grounds next door I could hear there was something going on. There was an outdoor boxing event called the Boxing Smoker. I could imagine that there were a few grudge matches scheduled since it was a small town and chuckled to myself. It’s not a bad idea. Afterwards you can hear the town partying and there was loud music playing until the bars closed. I almost joined them but I had a long day of riding the next day so I opted to get a good nights sleep instead.

IMG_0651After packing up the next morning I stopped at a cafe for breakfast right down the street and I could see floats, classic vehicles and the city firetruck being staged for a good old fashioned small town parade and again it brought me back to my childhood and the ones I attended in a small town about the size of this one. I thought about staying but I was anxious to get to Yellowstone since I have been waiting what seems like my whole life to go there.

IMG_0642I headed south and put in some miles. While I was passing through Helena I saw a Starbucks and I stopped to take a break. There was 2 other motorbikes parked there and while I was walking in 2 couples were enjoying their beverages and they looked at me and we all said hi. After I got my drink I sat down at the table close by and we started swapping stories. They were traveling from Los Angeles and went to Vegas, Grand Canyon, up through Utah and Wyoming to Yellowstone. I asked them about Yellowstone and they asked me about Glacier National Park. They were running short on time so they was going to pass up Glacier but they changed their mind after I showed them a couple of pictures on my camera.

I laid down some more miles finished off the day and found a campsite.. I found the rate a bit on the expensive side but it was getting dark so I didn’t want to risk going any further. It was nice with really clean showers and facilities plus I was about 10 feet from the Yellowstone River. Even though I was minutes away from a place I always wanted to visit and for me it usually meant I was going to sleep very well I was tired from the long day of riding. I quickly fell asleep listening to the sound of the rushing water.

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Glacier National Park

Leaving Kalispel. MT I headed towards Glacier National Park. So far staying up this far north is paying off as it’s warm but far from hot. At first the road was straight but ran through some nice farmland. As I got closer to the park there were signs every few miles warning about the bears and wildlife in the area road.

IMG_0593Being close to the 4th of July holiday there was a bit of traffic but the ride was nice with spectacular views. The west side of the park wound through glacier lakes and rivers and about an hour later I ran into road construction that that delayed us for 30 minutes. After getting through it the road started climbing and it next thing I know I am on the Going-to-the-Sun road.

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I later learned it was built in 1932 to bisect the park the east to west and is listed on the register of Historic Places. It was named after a local legend about a deity Sour Spirit descending from the sun to teach the Blackfeet braves how to hunt and as he was returning he reproduced his image on top of the mountain for inspiration. Some say it’s bull hokie.

IMG_0606The road was very twisty at it’s winding through Logans Pass. Below me to the right hundreds of feet below there were rivers and glacier lakes the with an almost turquoise color. Looking down a few feet away with only a 2′ tall stone wall between you and edge made my stomach drop at times but I couldn’t help but look. There was quite a few pullouts for picture opportunities and I took advantage of my small footprint to be able to pull over quick between other vehicles, snap some pics then get back moving again.

IMG_0618As the road got higher in elevation the traffic started bunching up and I didn’t even have to pull over to snap pics as the camera stays in my jacket pocket and I am getting pretty good at whipping it out. The road kept climbing even higher to the glaciers with waterfalls everywhere from the melting ice with some running under the road. I was caught in this surreal moment of awe.

IMG_0624I wondered how much of the glaciers have melted and I even found myself imagining what they may have looked like or 20-30 years ago. I did a search on Google and noticed that it’s been predicted in the year 2020 the glaciers will be completely melted. This makes me feel very fortunate to be able to see them but also very sad to know that this will be gone.

IMG_0631As I climbed higher the wind started picking up and the temperature dropped. It was almost cold enough to make me pull over and layer up but I kept going. At the very top the wind started gusting and the landscape kinda turned gray. At this point all the waterfalls and the glacier river in the canyon below are behind me.

IMG_0632Then the road started dropping in elevation and the landscape changed to cedar trees winding down with more rivers and glacier lakes. As I was leaving the park I wished I could have stayed a few days to take this all in but I am on a tight schedule for this leg of the trip. It took me a few hours to ride through it but it felt like a flash thinking back on it. I’ll just have to come back.

 

 

 

 

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Deer Crossing!!

I was up pretty late hanging out with Rob and Aaron and I woke up a little groggy but ready to go. After and shower and packing up my gear I said my goodbyes and left Wenatchee up Hwy 97 to hopefully get away from the worse of the heat. I stopped at a gas station that made breakfast burritos. Thanks Aaron for the tip, it was pretty tasty.

IMG_0529Everything was going good until I was getting ready to leave. I opened my GoPro case and that plastic latch on top fell off into the void. I swear every car, truck or motorcycle I have ever owned has one. The spot something important falls into never to be found again. I gave up after 10 minutes so I will have to buy a new housing when I can.

IMG_0530 (2)I was anxious to get back on the road, it was getting hot so I gave up after ten minutes of looking. I felt bummed but it only took a few minutes of riding before I forgot all about losing the latch to the GoPro. The scenery up through Hwy 97 consisted mostly of farms, fruit stands, rivers and lakes with was pleasing. I noticed quite a few old steel trussed bridges over the rivers and I stopped occasionally to take pictures.

IMG_0571I headed east on Highway 20 where the turns through the mountains with sections of tight twisty corners through the pines and the temperature cooled. I saw a total of 3 deer crossing the road in front of me but I had plenty of time to slow down for them. At around 8 I found a camp site in Little Pend Orielle National Wildlife Refuge where I spent the night.

IMG_0561The next day early in my ride I saw another deer crossing the road but again I had plenty of time to slow down. A little after noon I crossed the Idaho State border and 2 hours later I was in Montana. I was disappointed there wasn’t a sign welcoming me to Montana so I was thinking of writing a letter to the governor.

I took a break at Kootenai Falls and at that point I was getting pretty hot under all this riding gear. I walked around to see if I could get a picture but realized I had to walk down a steep path. I decided against it because I didn’t want to overheat myself so I went to the picnic area and saw an empty seat at a picnic table in the shade.

IMG_0540There was an elderly gentleman sitting there by himself and I asked if didn’t mind sharing the table. He enthusiastically said yes and we immediately started chatting. He was from North Dakata here on vacation on a house that was close by. He struck gold on the 160 acres he owns and told me all about the area where he lives. I am hoping he is not entirely correct because I was planning on riding through there and from what he said I will see nothing but oil fields. Like a big long Bakersfield.

IMG_0577 (2)We said our goodbyes and I continued on my way. I followed Hwy 2 following the Kootenai River with occasional lakes along the way. I got stuck waiting on construction on the way and it was getting hotter. There were boats everywhere and the water kept tempting me to jump in. I saw my opportunity when I spied a gravel road leading to the lake and sure enough I found a nice little beach area at the Middle Thompson Lake.

After getting cooled off I got back on Hwy 2 and after a few hours I arrived in Kalispel where I decided to get a room at the Motel 6. It wasn’t bad at all which was surprising. After showering, eating at the Mexican food next door I worked on my blog for a bit then fell into a deep sleep.

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Today is the day

I woke up excited but I had a couple of things to do first and I was on my way to getting a 1 pm start. I realized after loading things up on the bike and putting it on the kickstand I became concerned about how top-heavy it was. Luckily my friends Mike and Dave were there to see me off. While I was ready to start getting rid of some gear they thought I could still make it work. After a few hours of unpacking, repacking and getting rid of some gear they helped me figure out a system that I was happy with. Thanks guys. Before I left we headed to Tully’s for a coffee and to say our last goodbyes. It’s now 6pm :).

IMG_0517Before leaving I stiffened the rear shock to handle the big load and so I started taking it really easy so I can get a feel  for it. It did feel like the rear of the bike was too high, unstable around corners and under braking. Mike was following me and said I looked fine. Cool, it is always important to look good! Right? I softened the shock up a few clicks and checked the tire pressure. After chugging down our venti iced coffees we said goodbye and off I went. Softening the shock helped a bit with stability and I felt better with the setup for the time being.

This was the perfect day to leave as the weather was sunny and warm as I headed towards the mountains. After I rode over Stevens pass going down the other side the roads were starting to get wet and I looked up and saw blue skies. It never dried up and other than a little sprinkle which was the worse of it. I arrived in the German themed town of Leavenworth at 9 very hungry so I decided to stop and grab dinner.Snapshot 1 (7-2-2013 3-25 PM)

Leavenworth started out in the early 1900’s as a logging community. In 1893 the Great Northern Railway was built and Lafayette Lamb along his brother, Chauncery Lamb built the 2nd largest sawmill in 1903. For the first part of the 20th century the area was heavily logged using the Wenatchee River to float logs to the various mill sites. It also became the site of the Great Northern Railroad headquarters and in 1906 Leavenworth was incorporated. After the Great Northern Railroad relocated their headquarters to Wenatchee in the 1920’s the town’s economy was struggling and almost became a ghost town. In the 1960’s a committee was formed and the town was transformed into a mock  Bavarian village and now it is thriving as a very popular traveling destination.

IMG_0522I have been to the Munchen Haus Bavarian Grill before and enjoyed the food and atmosphere there. There were a few people in line so I was worried I wouldn’t find a place to sit but when it came my turn I ordered the BIG “BOB” Bratwurst. This was a Saturday night but I was fortunate to find an empty table which was near the bar. Here you order the food then your drink from the bar. As I was sitting down the bartender kindly asked if I wanted anything and I asked what they had on tap. She had a leftover Bootjack IPA that didn’t belong to anybody so in the spirit of not abusing alcohol I gladly accepted the gift.

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Bartender Hailey. Thanks for the IPA, it was yummy.

After eating I walked back to the bike to end my ride in Wenatchee. I told my old roommate Rob earlier in the week that I would stop by his house but I planned on being there much earlier then getting back on the road. He offered his place for me to crash for the night and the first day ended hanging out with Rob and his brother Aaron which made for excellent company. They are fun to be around and they invited me to go water skiing with them the following day. I was reluctant to say yes because I wanted to get some miles on the road and I declined their invitation. I still have a wedding to make in New Jersey on July 14th and I want to take the long way there.

IMG_0526While lying in bed I kept thinking about what I am going to miss and what I have called home for the past 7-8 years. I started dwelling on the time I spent here, the friends I made and the experiences I had. I learned so much that helped my career. I learned to snowboard, played paintball, bought a reliable motorcycle (or 4), started racing, went traveling, got my SCUBA certification and above all I grew as a person. To top it off I got to live in the beautiful Pacific NorthWest. It was a very positive time in my life and after this I am pretty sure I will come back and call this my home again. I will not stop complaining about the rain though.

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San Sebastian – Mother’s Day

It’s been a few years since I spent Mother’s Day with my mom due to us living thousands of miles apart. On the way there I bought my mom some flowers and a plant because she loves to garden.

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Happy Mother’s Day

This wasn’t planned in part because I almost forgot it was Mother’s Day and when I did get reminded her cell phone service is spotty so I couldn’t call. I arrived around noon which is around the time she gets back from church. I asked if she was hungry because I was taking her out for lunch and after a few minutes we were driving to Los Hermanos which serves great Puerto Rican food.

My mom wasn’t very hungry so she went with the Mofongo which looked delicious and I ordered the special. I don’t remember the name of the dish but it had a big slap of grilled beef and rice with gondules. Yummy. Afterwards I took her grocery shopping and went back to the house and visited. After awhile I left to head back to Cabo Rojo before it got dark. I told her I stop by tomorrow before I had to catch my flight home since I wanted to make sure she had everything she needed.

We had a very nice time together and I will treasure this day because like I said before we live far away from each other so I don’t know if or when we will be able to do spend Mother’s Day with each other again. I am pretty sure she was very happy also.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!!!

 

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Mayaguez

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Uncle Freddie and my 2 cousins who are on the left, Kathy and Jennifer.

I was very fortunate to have my late Uncle Freddie in my life after he was discharged from the Air Force. He lived in S. California which was about 4 hours away and he made we made frequent visits to each other when I was growing up. When I became an adult he invited me to live with him to get started in life. I have a lot of good memories of the time we spent together and I am sure he thought the same. Most of the time he treated me like a buddy but he still popped into the role of an uncle when I needed to be straightened out. I’ll be honest, it was quite often actually. He was a mentor, a friend and his influence has helped make me the person I am now. I really miss him.

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Juan Carlos

We were 16 years apart in age. My cousin Juan Carlos is 20 years younger than me which got me thinking about my Uncle Fred because now I’m the older guy who is old enough to be Juan’s uncle. Unlike me he doesn’t need straightening out be he needs a little nudging heheh. He joined the National Guard reserves. Lucky guy gets to shoot mortars and blow shit up. We’re all very proud of him.

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Coco Piratas

Juan Carlos and I met up later that night after I checked in and arrived in Cabo Rojo. It’s been a little over a year since my last visit so it was good to see him. He already had the night planned out but I forgot that while waiting for him in my room that I haven’t eaten yet. He suggested McDonalds since it was so late. I reluctantly agreed but not without a little grumbling about eating that shit instead of Puerto Rican food. Afterwards he took me to Villa Cofresi which was ready to close for the night but they were nice enough to take our order. Juan got us each a Coco Pirata (Pirate Special in engwish) and after a few minutes we were sipping on a rum drink which was served in a coconut. It was dark but our table was close enough to see the waves coming in about 10 yards away. We did some catching up, swapped stories and after our drinks were gone we left.

Snapshot 1 (6-4-2013 12-46 AM)

In Mayaguez this means GO.

I’m a lightweight so being a little tipsy I thought it would be easier if I let Juan drive. Thanks to my cuz, I got to see firsthand how the locals drive. I guess stop signs and red lights don’t mean crap other than lift the throttle, look both ways then floor it. I asked my cousin if he’s ever been in any accidents. He shrugs and says not a lot, only a couple. How about tickets I reply. He smiles, mumbles and kept driving. The buzz I had was gone by the time we arrived.

Snapshot 1 (6-4-2013 3-34 PM)

This is a Thursday night. It was like this last night also. Click to view video.

We were in the college part of town and the streets were crowded in areas the police blocked off. The legal age for drinking is 18. College students were all walking from bar to bar with drinks in their hands, mingling, laughing, screaming and at that moment I told myself if I would’ve have come visit here 20 years ago I never would have left. I have never seen anything like it but being the only middle aged adult I could see I didn’t feel really comfortable. Regardless I am glad to experience it. Click on the picture to the right to view the video which was shot the next day.

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Catedral Nuestra Señora de la Candelaria. This church site was originally built in 1762 with wood but in 1780 it was rebuilt and became the first masonry building. The church has been rebuilt a few times due to earthquake and lightning damage.

Downtown Mayaguez is beautiful with buildings dating back to the late 1700’s when the Spanish ruled.  The villa formally received its city charter from the Royal Crown of Spain on July 10, 1877. It is the fifth-largest city and is considered one of the most important cities in the island. It is home to the Caribbean’s leading science and engineering institution along with the Eugenio Maria de Hostos Law School and the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. Between 1962 and 1998 80% of all tuna products consumed in the United States were packed in Mayagüez  It was also a major textile industry hub until recently. The city itself is centered around the impressive Spanish-style Plaza Colon, a tribute to Christopher Columbus, whose stature stands in the middle of the square, surrounded by 16 bronze statues. I wish I would’ve taken pictures which I meant to do. Next time.

 

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Joyuda Beach, Cabo Rojo

When I left for Puerto Rico I didn’t think I was going to have time to do anything much since I went there primarily to help out my mom. I felt bad for not making any plans with my other family before or while I was there. Hopefully they forgive me, especially Titi Estrella. For the first 6 days I stayed at my mom’s house and did what I could to help her get settled in. After realizing there wasn’t much else I could do I decided to spend some alone time which I have never done in my previous visits.

 I called my cousin and asked him if he knew of a cool place to get a room and he recommended the Parador Joyuda Beach.

Driving though Barrio Guajataca, San Sebastian PR
Click to view video.

Instead of taking the Autopista I decided to risk taking the back roads following the GPS directions on my phone. I wasn’t sure how accurate the directions was going to be and to top it off the voice guidance feature wasn’t working on the island. It was raining very hard during this time and there was fallen trees everywhere on top of the roads being flooded but I didn’t regret my decision. The route took me through very narrow and windy roads, with pastel and neon colored houses. I was amazed at how close to the roads some of these homes were, it’s almost you can reach out the window and knock on their front doors. One minute you’re in the middle of the jungle without a living soul. The next thing you see after rounding a corner is a cantina, a panaderia and a video rental store in the middle of nowhere.

I found the hotel a few hours later. It was around 4:30.

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My home for the next 5 days

There was a pretty young lady at the front desk and  after finding out if a room was available and the price she offered to show me the room first.  It was clean, had a TV, shower and a bed but before I told her I would take it she asked if I wanted to see the room with the ocean view. I was like sure… “but how much more is it?”. She replied, “I’ll give it to you for the same price”.  I said “Let’s check it out” but I was thinking why didn’t you show me that room in the first place. After walking in I opened up the curtain covering the sliding glass door and without thinking about it told her I would take it.

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Beautiful sunset minus the hairy legs

 In terms of luxury I would say this room is equal to a Motel 6. Not harping because for me it was just fine and it would have been just perfect except the bed wasn’t comfortable. Regardless I decided to stay here until it was time to catch my flight home. I sent my cousin a message thanking him for the tip. He replied that he wanted to get together later on and I said sure. He told me he had a couple of things to do first then he would give me a call. I told him don’t hurry, I am going to sit here and watch the sunset. Little did I know I was in for quite an experience. Next up, Mayaguez.

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