In April 2008 I got a motorcycle license and bought my first bike, a 2007 865cc Triumph Bonneville. I was hooked. I love to ride. The bike only had 6 miles on the odometer when I got it. 4 1/2 months later it reads over 12,000 miles.
The following is the account of my journey across the United States from New York City to the West Coast and back again. This is the blog I kept as I rolled along. It has been placed here in chronological order. The words have been kept as they were. I have added links to many of those words for further inquiry. More photos have been added as well. If you click on any link or photo they will open on a separate page. Hope you enjoy the ride.
Cross Country 2008
Nygumbo presents a one man army across the nation!
It’s time to go. July 7, 2008. Happy Birthday C.C. and Ro!
Let’s hope 7 is my lucky number too!
Time to go!
The Projected Route West
On My Way in PA!
Rain Day 1: I was one of those guys you see sitting under the overpass.
I can’t believe I thought about leaving my full helmet at home. With the half helmet in a heavy rain, it feels as though every kid I taught for the last 15 years was standing on the side of the road pelting me in the face with rocks.
I got to Cherry Springs State Park to camp for the night. A group of people were renovating this old cabin for an Eagle Scout project.
I was only one of two people camping at this site.
Cherry Springs is supposed to be the darkest place on the East Coast. They have these observatories that you can rent out. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy night, so the celestial heavens were closed for the evening.
I had to ride around a little with no helmet. It felt good!
Major Laptop Problems!
I’m OK, but the laptop is messed up! The screen went dark! I can barely make out what’s going on if I look at the screen in bright light. I am just outside Chicago right now. I think I am going to skip it. Screw cities. Already I am bumping into that city attitude. I’ll get enough of that when I get back to NYC. This laptop is difficult to work, but I’ll give it my best. I am at some buffalo wing place in Michigan City, Indiana sitting by a window in order to see the screen just barely. Photos will be even more difficult, but here we go.
Pennsylvania to Indiana
After visiting the darkest overcast place on the east coast I saw this old bus someone coverted into a residence.
I was just about to cross the border into Ohio when I noticed a bunch of bikes and hot rods in the parking lot of a restaurant. The Quaker Steak & Lube. Naturally I checked it out.
While there I got some advice from a giant tatooed biker. He kind of looked like that long haired guy from the Oak Ridge Boys. He told me to watch out for the antelope. An antelope took a friend of his out at Sturgis last year.
Greetings from South Dakota! I was planning on getting further into the state, but the sun was beaming in my face and I had already rode a few hundred miles. I saw a sign for a Super 8 Motel with internet so I decided to call it a day. I’ll try and get some photos up before nights end. I want to thank those of you who have left comments. It’s nice to hear from everybody.
Back it Up!
Now I am at a motel computer and I can see my photos.
So it’s back to the biker gathering in Erie, PA. Remember, you can click a photo to see it larger.
And just before Erie I visited an old sawmill in Galeton, PA.
Enough of PA. I went on to Ohio. I camped out at a site just off the first exit into the state. The next morning I continued west into Cleveland. I stopped for a few photos and moved on.
Holy Toledo! Toledo Ohio that is, I got lost a bit. I didn’t have a plan for this route. I was riding along the Maumee river then missed a turn. I stopped at a little Ice Cream place and had a chocolate shake. A nice girl that worked there helped me focus back on my path. I crossed the river again and rode along Route 24 to Route 6. This is a place called Roche de Boeuf.
Then it was west into Indiana where I camped at Chain O’Lakes State Park. Nice site. Friendly people. Passed a town called Albion on the way. That’s the name of one of my favorite Babyshambles tracks.
Then it was on to Michigan City. I spoke of that in an earlier Post.
So, Chicago was out of the question. I turned south when I saw this huge storm headed toward me. I stopped to put on my rain gear. As soon as I put the last piece on and place my full face helmet on my head, BOOM! The storm wailed. It was a heavy rain with gale force winds and lightning. I crouched behind a road sign and waited it out. Just before the storm I was taking this picture. I should have taken a photo in the opposite direction as well. The contrast of the storm to this sky was amazing. Like Yin and Yang.
The rain suit is amazing. I wish I had gotten Rain gloves. I’d have been completely dry. Riding in the rain isn’t all that bad with the right equiptment. It’s kind of fun!
I got a little lost again after heading west. Once I found my way I shot across Illinois to another State Park called Johnson Sauk Trail S.P.
That night I did take the time to write a bit.
“Doing well. Not everything has gone as expected, but as I sit here at the campsite in Johnson Sauk State Park Outside of Annawan, Illinois, I am feeling good. I have a fire going compliments of my neighboring campers who gave me some wood. I have Charlie Daniels playing on my iPod and there’s a cool breeze blowing through the pines keeping the fire ablaze. As I sit here I realize my feet are damp. I haven’t had time to notice. A small but hugely powerful storm blew by today. I had just left Michigan City, Indiana after deciding against going to Chicago. I had stopped for gas and just sensed the feel of the city. It was hostile. I was out here to put the the attitude of the city behind me. Everywhere else I had been (betwwen NYC and Michigan city) I had encountered nothing but warm, friendly people. In Michigan City it was back to the fast pace and the sharp tongue. I turned the bike around and headed south. As I write there are 3 June bugs bouncing around me. One is actually resting on my finger as I write. I don’t know if it’s the light or they are trying to tell me they’re upset about their cousin dying as he bounced off my forehead going 80MPH on the way here today.”
The next morning.
Some wild turkeys strolled by.
An old round meeting house in the park.
Now it was across the Mississippi River and into Iowa.
It’s a grass bear made by indians thousands of years ago.
Views from the cliffs above the Mississppi.
That night I camped at Beaver Creek Valley State Park, Minnesota. The ranger warned me that upon entering the campsite I would have to cross a running stream with lots of slippery algae. He said many a motorcycle has taken a fall there. In fact one went down today. It was almost dark. I had no choice. He said to follow the car tire path where there would be less algae. I did. Just as I had almost traversed the stream I felt the slip but I did’nt go down. While setting up camp I met the man that did go down. Rick and his daughter Renee (correct me if I’m wrong) stopped by to say hi. Very nice people. They invited me for S’mores. Mmmmmmmmmmmm. But I had to set up camp and eat first. I walked down to their site, but I was too late for s’mores. They had gone to bed.
Much to my surprise, when I woke up the next morning, a ziplock bag was on the seat of my bike with graham crackers, marshmellows, and Hershey’s. Thanks again for that! I saw them again before heading out today. Rick recommended some good routes and sites in South Dakota and Montana. He is a Lewis and Clarke head too. He told me where I could see a place where Meriwether Lewis carved his name. It’s just northeast of Yellowstone.
Headed west on Route 16 I saw this. It’s the old version of that machine I saw before the big storm. Pretty cool, huh?
Then I drove like a madman to South Dakota. I was doing between 75 and 90 all the way to Sioux Falls. When I was approaching I noticed a hotel sign which said High Speed Internet. I decided it was time to get back to the blog and sleep in a bed. It’s nearly 2:30am now, so I’m glad I’ll have a bed to sleep in. I was going to get to blogging right when I arrived, but I figured I’d take all the bags off my bike and ride into town and get a bite to eat. Most everything is closed on Sunday. I found some Chinese food and then stumbled upon Falls Park. What do you know? Sioux Falls is named after Sioux Falls. It’s really a nice site.
At night they had a lazer show with a history of the Dakotas and Sioux Falls so I stuck around. I didn’t get back to the motel until almost 11:00.
Tomorrow it’s off to the Badlands!
Ohio to South Dakota (video)
So I am still having problems with video and photos. But here is a quick update. I spent the night in the Badlands. It’s beautiful. At night I went to a bar on an indian reservation. Had a blast. I met some guys from Oregon at the campsite and they drove to the bar. Good thing because we befriended the bartender and were out until sunrise. There is no way I could have ridden the bike. I may have deleted the photos from that night by mistake. Sorry Ely and Reid. No puking parking lot shot for you guys. Now I am staying a couple night in Keystone. It’s a small town just under Mt. Rushmore. I checked into a hotel to rest a bit. Pool, Hot tub, and a bed! Very nice. Very necessary. You can see Mt. Rushmore from the hotel. So today I will just ride around the Black Mountain hills of Dakota and enjoy the day. Hopefully I’ll have some photos for you later tonight.
Seem to be having problems with the videos. I’ll keep trying.
See ya soon!
Actually, Let’s try this.
First of all, can anyone see the videos? I can’t anywhere I’ve stopped.
Still no pics for now. I’ll try to stop at a library or something and upload along the way. Yesterday was fantastic. I went to Mt. Rushmore, The Crazy Horse monument, and Custer State Park. Only saw one buffalo though. Today I head west again. I’ll be going to Devil’s Tower and the site of the Battle of Little Big Horn. I am also going to see a tree that Meriwether Lewis carved his name in. Yellowstone is far. Don’t know if I’ll make it there before dark. I don’t want to push it anymore. As my friend Thierry reminded me: It is vacation! I can’t wait to share videos and photos. Later y’all!
Oh! Kep, there is a BMW meet in Gillete, Wyoming this weekend. BMW’s all over these lands. That, and Harleys. I still have not seen a Triumph since I left NYC. I don’t know if I’ll get to Gilette. If I do I’ll be sure to rub it in. Sorry bro. I really wish you could be here with me.
And lastly, happy anniversary dad. Big 25!
I found an Internet Cafe!
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
The falls that the town was named after.
It said 104 when I hit the button. It dropped to 102 before the shutter clicked.
The Corn Palace, Mitchell, SD
Then it was off to the Badlands!
I found a bar on the indian reservation. The woman to the right is from the Sioux Nation. She told me she could tell I had a good spirit from the moment I walked in the door. The Sioux are so perceptive.
This is the bartender who was feeding us drinks until sunrise!
This is the result of that experience. Say hello to Reid from Oregon.
OK, back to the badlands!
A Badland Goat.
Takin’ Care of Business in a Flash!
A last shot with the Badlands.
I flew across South Dakota and shacked up at a motel in Keystone for the next two nights. I needed rest and relaxation.
Here is an old train from the 1800’s
Chillin’ in Keystone at the Ruby House.
I checked out this guy sculpting with a chainsaw. I gotta try that.
Keystone is the town just below Mount Rushmore.
Today is Jimmy’s Birthday. Happy Birthday Jimmy!
Nearby is the Crazy Horse Monument. It is being worked on by one family and is far from finished. The project is being worked on by the children and grandchildren of the man who began the project.
I went to Custer State Park and only saw one buffalo.
I went back to Mount Rushmore at night. I figured out how to park for free. Otherwise it’s 10 bucks.
I was so disappointed at having only seen one buffalo. So I went back to Custer State Park. The tatanka did not let me down!
People thought I was nuts walking amongst the buffalo, but I couldn’t help myself!
I stayed at the campsite under Devil’s Tower. A storm blew in. I hung out with a guy named Tim from upstate NY. We drank beer and watched the lightning.
The next day I was inspired to ride like the devil all the way to Yellowstone. The winds were incredible. I had to ride at a 20 degree angle just to keep from blowing into oncoming traffic. In the Rockies I played in the snow. I have a video of my sliding down this snowbank but can’t upload it right now.
Beyond the train yard you can see the dust blowing. It was brutal.
Yellowstone is beautiful.
A mule deer.
And more buffalo!
A bald eagle
An Eagles Nest
Cooking steak on the campfire!
Well folks, that does it for now. There is so much more to say. I just don’t have the time. It gets really cold here at night and I am at least an hour from the campsite. The sun will be setting soon and I gotta get back and start a fire.
Thanks to all of you who have left comments! It’s nice to hear from you.
Yellowstone National Park
Hey There! I am in a library here in Butte, Montana. Didn’t expect to be here but a storm blew out the electricity at the gas station I intended on fueling up at. In Montana gas can be far and few between. So I ended up in Butte after going 163 miles on a tank of gas. I had to kick in to reserve at 140 miles. Thats a record for me!
Let me go back to Yellowstone before I move on.
I hit the 5000 mile mark!
This is called the Dragon’s Breath Spring. It sounds like it’s breathing.
There are lots of fly fishermen throughout the park.
OK Brancusi. Here is a bird in flight!
Smimming to Mama!
That night I stayed up and sat around the fire with a fun family from the “rural Suburbs” of Chicago. The next morning another family pulled up with an owl stuck in their grill.
Let me add that the internet cafe I found was in West Yellowstone. Cammy who runs a travel business out of the same location was real kind and gave me a great deal on the internet time. Cammy, I can’t find your business card. So leave a comment and I can add the # of your business. Thanks again. After Yellowstone I crossed the Continental Divide and went south to The Grand Tetons.
After leaving the Tetons I continued into Jackson Hole. There waqs a storm ahead so I stopped to gear up. While along side the road I heard “Hey look!” It was an older gentleman pointing out my bike to his friend. His friend told me he useed to hold the speed record in a 1954 Triumph Tiger. I said “That’s what Brando rode in The Wild One. He said yes. He used to love beating the pants off the Harleys. Then I rode into the mountains of Idaho. The rains were coming down heavy when a big mama moose and her baby jumped out in front of me. Unfortunately I couldn’t get my camera out. It was packed up because of the rain.
I headed North from there and caught this shot. Kind of erie. A big cross shape behind my shadow and a rainbow ahead.
I stayed the night at a motel in a town called Lima. Had a nice talk about the area with the hotel hostess. And more good conversation with Dorinda and the people at a cafe. They told me I can find crystals in the mountains. That’s where I am headed today.
Then it was off to Bannack. A Ghost Town in Montana!
An old stage coach shed.
I had to take shelter as a couple storms passed through.