Archive for July, 2014

California

Posted in Uncategorized on July 29, 2014 by Pat Regan

California. Wow! California! Here I was crossing into Northern California. What could be wrong with that? Oh, only one thing… I was freezing!  I had been wet and cold for days now. I couldn’t take much more. My sole purpose for dipping into this particular part of the country was to continue my quest to boldly go where this treker has not gone before. Route 96, a wonderfully windy, tantalizingly twisted mountain road was an unexplored yearning.

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I was bitterly cold. Then, after passing a sign for a tour-thru tree and getting stuck in a line for one lane construction, I turned around and waited once again in the opposite direction for this opportunity to embark the space between the bark.Cali02

I needed warmth, bringing me to Arcata, CA for a room. In the morning I saw this flash (or should I say flashback) from the past.

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I haven’t mentioned it yet, but when I went out to dinner the night before at the local all you can eat Chinese buffet, an old feller told me Route 96 was closed due to forest fires.  C’mon! Now where to? I checked the weather to the south toward Frisco. It wasn’t great either.  At this point I decided go west across Route 299. I rode across 299 once before in 2009 but it was raining hard and cold. Plus, I was going in the opposite direction. I may have lost my Route 96 adventure, but I could look at 299 in a new perspective and direction. Besides this was Bigfoot country.

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Route 299 rolls along the Trinity River, east to west.

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Shasta is an old ming town directly along Route 299.

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How I love a ghost town. Oh surprise, surprise! Here we are at another prison in the basement of the courthouse turned museum.

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The old courthouse is one of the oldest preserved buildings in the town of Shasta. It is now a museum with part of it recreated to the look as it did in the 1800’s.

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Shawhank or the Ohio State Reformatory was the only prison I planned to visit. All the subsequent journeys to locations of incarcerations have been happenstance.

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Welcome to the gallows.

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Also in the museum is this little bit of east coast history. It’s a Browning revolver (below) that John Brown used during the raid at Harper’s Ferry. His wife then moved to these parts bringing this weapon with her and here it lies.

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Along the road in Shasta this was all that was left from a building’s cold cellar.

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I talked for a bit with three young transient dudes looking for what I left on the coast. They were hot and wanted to cool off  and they wanted some spare change. I see a lot of transient folks out this way in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Folks floating perhaps fleeing, who knows? Anyway, we talked about our respective journeys. The guy with the tattoos of horns on his forehead wasn’t so chatty but the other two were. One dude told me that he was from Florida and if you ride down dirt roads deep inland you can find stuff. Native American stuff. He said that people used to bury their valuables and then put large boulders over them to mark it for their return seasonally. You can move these boulders and find old stashes.

I stopped at the Stardust, not for the night, but for a moment to obstruct traffic and take this photo.

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I switched from 299 to 44. When I visited this area around Lassen Volcano in 2009 this road was closed off. Here you can see the results of that inferno. Far in the background you can see Mt. Shasta.

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I was riding along toward the Nevada border when I saw storms ahead. This was unexpected! I thought it was clear sailing. Turns out it was more forest fires. Here you can see the Cali fires as I escape for a night in Carson City.

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This would be my shortest visit to Cali in all my crossings. See ya next time Cali!

Oregon

Posted in Uncategorized on July 27, 2014 by Pat Regan

From Idaho I crossed into Oregon. I planned on getting back into the mountains for some camping. On the way I passed through some old towns. This is Baker City.

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I have no idea how old this In & Out Burger is, but apparently it’s not as popular here in Oregon as it is in LA. It isn’t open any longer.

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Haines, Oregon where there was no gas causing me to backtrack to Baker City.

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I stopped to get some food at a local grocery store, when this guy pulled up on this gorgeous 1941 Knucklehead.

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His name was Little Dan or Little Bill, I don’t remember except that it was Little “Something”. He told me he had a garage in town where he also had an old Panhead. We talked for a bit. I told him where I was headed to camp. He told me to mind the deer. He hit one up there a few years back.

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I was psyched to be back up in some twisty mountain roads.

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I camped out at a site under this snowy peak.

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I got to break out the hammock for the first time this trip.

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It also felt good to scavenge for my own wood and use my saw and tomahawk.

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I rode about 60 miles through the twisty rolling mountain roads before coming to this town called Ukiah to refuel. I first stopped at the local grocery store to ask if there was gas in town because I didn’t recognize this place as a gas station when I first passed it. I figured I’d grab a banana while at the store. The old lady who ran the place said, “It’s pretty ripe, just take it.” Thanks!

Then I went to this one pump gas station run by this eccentric, chatty fella. I noticed a lot of rabbits around. He said his dad had a rabbit farm then one day decided to let them all go free, so the town is full of ’em. He also makes these kinetic sculptures to attract business he said. For me it fooled me to thinking it wasn’t a gas station.

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I wasn’t far off from the Painted Hills, a place I love to visit. It is beautiful. Unfortunately forest fires blocked all access roads to the place. You can see the haze from the fires in the background.

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Then I passed the base camp for the firefighters. There must have been 50 or more tents beyond those first set of trees. It looked like a festival.

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Beyond you can see some of the serpentining road that is always a blast to ride on.

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There were some fine old architectural specimens out here.

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In this town called Shaniko there was this garage full of old vehicles.

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I crossed into Washington to shack up for the night.

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This Stonehenge on the Washington side of the Columbia River was a Veterans Memorial.

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Back on the Oregon side I would ride in and out of rain storms throughout the day. Like Lewis & Clark I would follow the Columbia River west to the coast.

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I hid out under the bridge and ate some smoked chinook I bought from the local Native Americans who set up in the adjacent parking lot.

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The next stop couldn’t be passed up. It was the Bonneville Dam!

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Bonnie meet Bonnie.

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The dam provides this mock stream for the salmon to continue their swim upstream to spawn.

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You can then go underneath and watch the salmon through glass observation windows. Besides salmon there were these freaky sucker fish. Look at those chompers!

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These are the generators inside the dam.

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There were numerous waterfalls along Historic Route 30 parallel to the Columbia River. The one below is Horsetail Falls.

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This double falls is called Multnomah Falls.

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I climbed around a bit at Whakeena Falls.

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There was a large group of French folks on an organized bike tour. There was a guide showing them a giant map on the back of the truck above. I am lined up with a bunch of their Harley’s below.

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I finally made it to the coast after an on and off rainy day. I had enough time to pitch my tent and go out for some food and supplies and then splashdown. More rain! And more rain. It was a mess, but my tripod and a tarp extend my tent to have a nice vestibule for sitting outside and staying dry.  There were some breaks in the rain and I was wishing I had wood for a fire.

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You can see the results of the night’s rain on the road. The beach is to the right just over those tall green grasses then to the left it immediately becomes dense forest.

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In the morning a lot of people bailed because more rain was expected so I went from site to site and gathered all the fire wood they left behind. It was cold here at the coast and I wasn’t going to go with out a fire on this night.

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This is the forest right behind the campsite.

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I camped out for two nights at Cape Lookout State Park along the coast. The second night was because of how wet everything was. The following day was supposed to clear up so I figured I could have time the next morning to let everything dry out.

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I woke up in the morning and spread out my tarps, turned the tent upside down and laid out a few other wet items to dry. Then! Kablammy. More rain! Ugh! I had to pack up my wet gear and hit the road.

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This is the beach at the campsite. I never had a chance to see it in good weather.

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Things cleared up and I finally got a good look at the Oregon Coast.

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At the mouth of the Rogue River was this old wreck.

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My gloves have gotten pretty roughed up and have a couple holes in the finger tips, so I stopped at a local Yamaha dealer to have a look. They didn’t have gloves that I liked but that assault rifle in the glass case looks nice. I’ll take two.

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Idaho

Posted in Uncategorized on July 25, 2014 by Pat Regan

While worrying about my tire in Yellowstone, I thought for sure a day would be wasted getting Bonnie ready to roll again. I figured I would shack up somewhere in the vicinity of the repair. The guys at Rexburg Motorsports were so helpful and efficient I still had plenty of riding time left in the day. I decided I could make it all the way to Boise.

Moving westward I crossed this unusual flat land gusting with wind. It was government land used for experiments. That’s all I knew. It was called the Idaho National Laboratory. Makes the mind wander what could be going on here.

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That question was answered when I showed up in a town called Arco. I met a fellow biker named Ron at the local gas station. He was enjoying a cherry slushy after crossing the hot gusty government territory. I asked Ron if he knew why the head of a submarine would be placed in the middle of Idaho? He told me they do a lot of nuclear testing at those laboratories. In fact Arco was the first town in the United States to get their electricity from nuclear power.

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After Fueling up in Arco I stopped by The Craters of the Moon National Monument. What you see here is miles of volcanic debris. A land once covered in lava that has cooled leaving this blackened landscape.

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Much to my surprise I saw a fellow Triumph traveler in one of the pull offs.

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This guy Kinsey had ridden from Seattle to Yellowstone to meet his brother and now he was headed back home.

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I had a shot of Kinsey with his bike but for some reason it won’t upload. Sorry Kinsey.

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You pass a number of lonely towns along the way. Here an old saloon sits alone.

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This beauty sits behind the saloon.

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It was a long ride across Idaho to Boise. Just before hopping on the Interstate to make my passage to Boise I saw this tank.

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The Idaho State Penitentiary

After waking up in Boise I looked to see if there was anything to see before continuing my journey west. Indeed there was. The Old Idaho State Penitentiary was a functional prison from 1872 to 1973.

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This prison started in 1870 as a one cell prison. It grew over time being built with stone quarried nearby by the prisoners themselves. They even helped design some of the buildings.

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There were large riots here in 1971 and 1973 over the living conditions. This was the dining hall designed by a prisoner who killed himself upon his release. It also was burned down during the 1973 riot.

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This old sign sits weathering away next to the prison barn.

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This was the women’s ward built outside the prison walls.

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This is a cell on death row.

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After vacating the death row cell an inmate would stand on that gray square with a rope around his neck. The executioner would pull that lever to the right.

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The prisoner would then drop to this room below ending his life.

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A seventeen foot wall surrounds the prison with a guard tower at each corner.

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This building called the Bishop’s House sits outside the prison.

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On to Oregon!

Yellowstone

Posted in Uncategorized on July 23, 2014 by Pat Regan

After fueling up south of Independence Rock, I said later to Karl and Quinton and headed Northeast toward Yellowstone. It was further than I realized as are most places out west.

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When I arrived in Yellowstone the sun was going down. When the sun drops in Yellowstone, it gets cold. Real cold. I set up my tent in the dark. I wasn’t real pleased with my site. It was very much in the open. I like some trees to surround my site. But in Yellowstone I didn’t plan on spending much time in the campsite.

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Yellowstone Falls.

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There is a lot of wildlife in Yellowstone but pelicans came unexpected to me.

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Here an elk sat basking in the sun.

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The upper part of Yellowstone Falls.

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Many bison warm themselves by the various geysers about the park.

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I was taking photos of three bison and was nearly one of those idiots you see on YouTube. One of the three had wandered off and I lost track of him as I photographed the other two. I had my earplugs in from riding and did not notice the third bull had returned. Fortunately I did hear someone in the parking lot yell “Look out!” I turned to see this huge beast charging at me! I ran like mad and escaped his wrath, but it was a close call!

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Yellowstone is a beautiful place. This pool is deep and clear. It looks so welcoming, but it would boil you into a nice soup if you took a dip.

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This geyser makes sounds like a breathing dragon.

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I was watching this osprey fly around above. Then I noticed him diving. I was pretty far off, but I was able to capture this shot of the osprey defending his territory against an unsuspecting raven.

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I saw more bison in Yellowstone this time than in all my previous visits.

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I started to get concerned about my rear tire. When I went for gas I noticed it was completely bald on one side. Also, it was Friday. I knew most bike shops are closed on Sunday and Monday. I needed a tire Saturday. I am not sure it would have lasted another two days of endless riding. I had planned on traveling north into Montana after Yellowstone. I called all the bike shops in Bozeman and no one had my tire size. This had happened on a previous journey when no one in Missoula had my size. One of the Bozeman shops recommended I try Idaho City. No luck! Finally a shop in Idaho City recommended this place in Rexburg, Idaho. They told me they had a Michelin that would fit. So long as they could reuse my inner tube, I was set.

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So instead of spending my day on Saturday exploring more of Yellowstone, I had to get up early and head to Rexburg. I had a chance to visit Old Faithful at a good time of day, because the sun was at the right angle in the sky to produce this cool rainbow.

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I made it to Rexburg to see this huge bike and motosports shop. The people here were great. I talked for a while with an employee named Eugene and then one of the co-owners Jared. Jared is Mormon or LDS as they say. That stands for Latter Day Saints. He told me Rexburg is one of the most populated LDS towns in the country at 98%. In the photo below you can see the temple in the background to the right of the shop.

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I unloaded Bonnie and left her in the hands of the people here in Rexburg. Besides a new rear tire I need my chained tightened up too.

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It’s always strange to see someone else on my bike. Here is Jared taking her in for service.

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This shop had a huge stock of bikes and accessories.

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They took her in and got right to work.

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With a new rear tire I could confidently continue my journey. This is a great place for your motorcycle needs. I highly recommend them if you are in the area.

http://www.rexburgmotorsports.com/

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As a result of having to go south to Idaho for repairs, I changed my planned route. I would head west from here.

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Fort Laramie and Independence Rock.

Posted in Uncategorized on July 22, 2014 by Pat Regan

When I left off in the last post I was whining about my BS afternoon in Nebraska with bee stings and bird guts. And even though I knew the following day was going to be stormy, I was well rested and ready to take it on. When I woke up I stared at the doppler radar endlessly. On this day there would be no way to avoid riding into a storm. And some of these storms were whoppers! The previous night’s weather report said it would be raining first thing in the morning. Fortunately it hadn’t started yet when I got going and came across this old church. At least I thought it was a church. When I pulled over to have a closer look, a pick up truck pulled up and a big old grizzly looking guy named Danny leaned out and told me it was an old schoolhouse.  Danny hopped out and lit a cigarette. He told me he rides too then showed me the colors on the back of his vest. We talked a bit, then I went inside to have a look.

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As I crossed the border from Nebraska to Wyoming I passed through my first storm of the day. It wasn’t that bad. It gave me a chance to try out my rain gear. I was trying a new glove technique. Everything was holding up fine except the waterproof boots did not keep the feet dry. The rain let up and I saw Fort Laramie was nearby. I had passed this way before in the opposite direction. But at the time I was high-tailing it north to get to Sturgis before dark, so I never stopped.

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Fort Laramie

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Fort Laramie began as a private fur trading fort in 1834. As America expanded westward conflict with the native people caused a shift in the fort’s use. It became the largest military post in the US.

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Fort Laramie was comprised of trappers, traders, Native Americans, missionaries, emigrants, soldiers, miners, ranchers and homesteaders all interacting.

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Below is the prison.

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A diorama of the fort as it was in the 1800’s.

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Upstairs in this building was the soldiers barracks.

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There was a bar with a pool table.

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This bridge, built in 1875 crosses the North Platte River on the way to Fort Laramie.

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From the visit to the fort I was headed north away from the obvious storm to the south. I rode on for a while thinking I was out of harms way. No such luck. I got slammed. It was bad but I plowed through it. After a short while you realize that you are fine and start to enjoy it a bit. Conquering the storm is character building. But this storm was getting worse. I made a stop to get gas and have a look at the radar on my phone. I did not like what I was seeing. I needed to get to Casper then go south and find camping. A storm was increasingly growing as it headed toward Casper. It looked real bad. I figured I would time it so that the red eye of the storm would have crossed Casper by the time I was arriving. I was about an hour or so away. I decided camping was out of the question. I would find a room in Casper for the night. I checked a few hotel sites and found nothing. Nothing! Casper Wyoming is a big town and everything was booked! I was talking to a couple other bikers at the gas stop. They were headed east and told me a tornado had already touched down somewhere on the Nebraska/Wyoming border. As they were leaving one of them handed me a card. He said, “I don’t know if they have any rooms, but if they do, Tammy will give you a good rate.” It had a hand written note to Tammy at the Best Western. I called ahead, there were no rooms. I checked Priceline one last time and BAM! A room available at the La Quenta. I jumped on it. When I got there the guy at the desk said he was surprised to see a name pop up. He thought they were booked. Lucky me. And the next morning as I was looking at the paper in the morning I realized it was a very good thing I waited out that growing storm.

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You can see how much rain had accumulated in the parking lot.

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The next morning I got up to head over to Yellowstone where I was going to camp for a couple days. On the way was Independence Rock.

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When I pulled up to Independence Rock I was startled by the amount of people climbing all over it. It turns out there were multiple bus loads of these people. I guess they were Mennonite. They were dressed in some traditional garb. Not sure. All I knew was there was a lot of ’em!

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Independence Rock was a stop during the time when people were originally emigrating to Oregon, California and Utah. Wagons would start at the Missouri River in the Spring and try to make it to the rock by July 4. Hence the name.

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Many of those people stopping here would carve their names in the large granite rock.

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There are names all over this rock, but I just climbed to the top, had a look about and split.

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When I got to the bike I saw two guys having a look at ‘ol Bonnie. It turns out one of them road here from New Jersey. That’s Quinton from Jersey in the center and Karl on the left. He is from Lead, SD.

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When we got to talking, I mentioned I may have a fuel issue. Foolishly I did not fill up before leaving Casper. These guys were very cool and told me they would ride with me to the next town to see if there was a gas station. If not Quinton said he had a tube to syphon a bit to get to the next station.

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I call this the Jesse shot. Jesse is another two wheeled traveler who keeps a blog of his travels. I saw him take a down low shot like this so I have to give him props. http://twowheelin.wordpress.com/

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Thanks Quinton and Karl for looking out! Maybe see you for Sturgis 75! Now on to Yellowstone!

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On the way to Yellowstone I made one more stop in Fort Washakie to visit Sacagewea’s grave. Or is it?

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From Ohio to Nebraska

Posted in Uncategorized on July 17, 2014 by Pat Regan

So I split early in the morning from the bike show to beat the storm. My planned route to the southwest quickly turned to the northwest to get above the pending rainfall. I did just that. Eventually the skies cleared and I rode almost 500 miles before calling it a night.

First through Indiana.

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The Illinios River in the background.

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This water tower has been continuously used by the town of Havana, Illinios since 1889 when it was first constructed.

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That hill you see behind Bonnie is actually Rockwell Mound an old Indian mound also in Havana.

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An old service station in Carthage, Illinios where I finally stopped after an almost 600 mile day of riding.

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In Carthage I was looking for an old jail I saw marked on the map. I stopped to take a photo of this old drug store sign (below) while riding through the town square. After I took the photo I was fiddling about on my phone when I noticed an elderly gentleman in the window watching me. I waved, he waved back. I smiled and went inside. I figured I’d ask him where the jail was. When I did he asked “The Mormon jail?” I said I guess so. He said it was a couple blocks down the road. His name was Bob McHugh and he told me a bit about the sign and the pharmacy. He said that sign had been there since 1937 when his dad opened the place. There used to be a soda fountain there and if you didn’t find a parking spot by 5:30 you were out of luck. Then Bob went to war. When he came back the fountain was gone and it was just the pharmacy. He has been working there since.

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I ended up riding right past the jail and back around to the square. I stopped and asked this fella in a wheelchair if he knew where the jail was. He asked, “You mean the Mormon jail?” I said I guess.

Well the map didn’t mention this old jail was Mormon affiliated. It turns out this is a sacred place to them. It is the place where their prophet Joseph Smith was killed or as they said martyred. He was shot 4 times and fell out of that top left window in the house behind his sculpture.

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Now, if you have never been to a Mormon site, you have to be aware. There is generally some Mormon preaching involved. There is usually a movie too. I have always said no thank you to the movie. It is still interesting history. The guy in the photo was the guide.

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The jail cell on the second floor. The walls are 3 feet thick and only have two slits for ventilation. So the story goes that Joseph Smith and another follower of his were arrested for treason and taken to this prison. In the Mormon faith, Joseph Smith is the guy who translated these golden tablets given to him by some Indian spirit or something like that. Joseph Smith translated these tablets and so began the Mormons. Anyway while he was locked up here an angry mob stormed the place and killed him.

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I rode through a couple old historic towns along the Deluth River.

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This house had a sign on the side welcoming some ghost hunter. I guess the place is haunted.

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I camped in Waubonsie State Park.

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Then across the Missouri River and into Nebraska.

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Over my shoulder is a crop dusting plane about to swoop around and make a dive to my right. That looks like a fun job!

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This was route 2, it runs along the the BNSF railroad line which transports coal in mile long trains which pass in either direction all day.

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Then the day turned sour.

I stopped for gas and I put the auto click thing on. Duh! Bad move. It didn’t click off. Gas went spraying. I caught it quickly but damage was done.. My tank bag got it and wreaked of gasoline. Broken Bow Nevada, your gas pump is broken.

I continued down the road and saw a digital clock on a bank. It said Wednesday, July 15. What? I had made a reservation in Yellowstone for Thursday night! I can’t get there in a day! Panic! When I stopped for gas again I checked my calendar. It was Tuesday, July 15. Hey Broken Bow, your digital clock is broken.

Again I continued down the road. Oooooowwwww! A bee stung me on my inner thigh. It felt like it was still pumping. Damn that was a strong sting. I’ve been stung before while riding. It freaks me out that they are able to react at 70 mile per hour to get that stinger in you.

Continuing down the road once again and SMACK! When I saw the bird on the side of the road he didn’t look depressed. But for some reason as I was riding by he flew right into my headlight. WTF!

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When that poor bird hit the headlight, greenish yellow guts splattered all over my face mask. It was disgusting! After that I was beat and I got a real shitty hotel room.

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This day turned shitty quickly and stayed that way. Well, there is always tomorrow. Before going to bed I checked the weather. Things aren’t looking good. I can expect to spend a good portion of the next day plowing through some large storms and temperatures in the low 60’s. So much for tomorrow.

Goodnight.

Brooks was here…so was Pat

Posted in Uncategorized on July 16, 2014 by Pat Regan

I took a short break from all the fun at the bike show and headed north to Mansfield, Ohio.

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Destination Shawshank Prison!

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Although Steven King’s story is set in a prison located in Maine, the place where they filmed Shawshank Redemption was a short 10 miles north of the Mid-Ohio Speedway. It is the old Ohio State Reformatory.

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The place closed at 4:00. When I arrived it was after 4:00 and the electric gate was shut. However, as I sat there in disbelief a car was exiting. So I rode on in before the gate closed again. I quickly parked the bike and went inside not stopping for anything. So as Andy Dufresne was busy breaking out of Shawshank, I was breaking in.

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The place is huge. There are endless hallways and rooms besides the many tiered rows of inmates quarters.

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This cell room was made up to have that lived in look.

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Most of the cells look like this.

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A number of the scenes in the movie were also filmed in a large warehouse made to look like a prison interior, but most of the scenes were filmed on site here at the old reformatory.

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Here is the yard often displayed in the movie. The brick buildings that once occupied the land behind the yard are gone. It is now a new prison and photos are prohibited in that direction.

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The hotel room where Brooks spent his last days is actually a room in the reformatory.

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I was lucky to have seen this room. I had somehow passed it by during my journey through the massive labyrinth of passages. But being the last person in this place, I was found by the guy who goes around to look for anyone left in the building. Fortunately he was a nice guy and when I asked him if he knew where that hotel was where Brook went, he told me the room was here in the building. When I expressed how much I would like to see it he took me up a back staircase so I cold check it out. Someone took the original sign that Brooks and Red had carved into, but it was replaced by the one in the photo below. After Shawshank it was back to the bike show.

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