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Wreckchecker 06-01-2012 07:46 PM

FireTerp & Wreckchecker head west from MD to - Dunno yet
Every story needs a who, what, when, where, and why. We have most of these, we just don't yet know the Where we are going or the What our full plan is. Destinations are so over-rated.

Beginning with the logical Who, we are a father/son team and the When for our adventure is that the younger half of us graduated last week from the University of Maryland with a degree in Fire Protection Engineering. Thanks to the Maryland Terrapin mascot, Tim got the knick name FireTerp. (Feel free to pm him/us if you know of an opening for an engineer in fire protection engineering. He likes to do computerized fire modeling and develop special hazards applications.) Wreckchecker has investigated airplane accidents around the world, so that name came a long time ago. We may be lacking in creativity, but it works for us.

Tim began to ride in the Spring of his Freshman year, when he took a safety course given by an off-duty motor officer. Tim went back to the U of Md with our "experienced" 1990 KLR650, which was a great college bike that wheezed like a tired Briggs & Stratton. The next Spring, the KLR was sold when Tim picked up a sweet DL650 WeeStrom named Suzy. Again, so much for originality.

This trip began almost 2 years ago when we began to talk about what we could for a cool graduation trip. Something between college and Tim's starting a career. Tim had been snow boarding in Utah and loved the Rockies, so heading west was an early part of the plan. We also talked about Thailand, doing a 4 corners tour, Ireland, etcetera. We kept coming back to the idea of the Rockies and then started talking about Prudhoe Bay!

Things really started to gel a little over a year ago, when Bob got on a new Yamaha Super Tenere in Europe and put a deposit down for one of the first (#231 actually) to come to the US. Unfortunately, the deposit went in on the day that the earth shook in Japan and the bike wasn't delivered until August 2012. This was in WV on a shakedown ride we took to the Dragon:

The Tenere has a fresh set of Heidenau K60s for this trip and is almost ready to go.

Tim loved Suzy, but the idea of overloading the poor girl in the mountains didn't sound like fun and Tim tripped across Suzy's big twin, now named Vee, a 2003 DL1000 at a price a college student could afford.

We've come up with nearly a dozen potential routes, then deleting all but 2. Either way, we start early Monday, June 4, (See green Point A) and head for Yellowstone National Park (see point B on the map). We then plan to go to Glacier National Park and Eureka, Montana. Once we reach Eureka (see Point C on the map), we've got to make a decision on where to head next.

One option is to continue north to Banf in Canada, then west to Hyder, Alaska (Red A). The second leading option is to head west to Seattle, then south along the Pacific coast.

TOTim 06-01-2012 08:19 PM

If you get that close you must venture into the greatest country of Canada, just saying, do the crowsnest highway and the KVR.

JaxObsessed 06-04-2012 05:18 AM


skierd 06-04-2012 03:54 PM

:lurk Gonna be a good-un! Have a great trip guys!

Just saying... if you make it up to D2D, first sourtoe's on me. :freaky

true grip 06-05-2012 04:14 PM

Congrats to FireTerp:clap

I'll be following along a trip out west is on my calender for late July. I've been told to check out Logan pass visitor center on the Going to the Sun road. There is a trailhead right across the road from the visitor center just a short walk down the trail is a most spectacular view. Enjoy your time together and be safe.

Wreckchecker 06-06-2012 12:49 PM

Thanks Dave, TruGrip, & TOTim

We left early Tuesday after my windshield took a whack from road debris and cracked on Saturday.
It was probably for the better, as we've each been crazy busy so Monday we got to really prepare togehter.

Tuesday we iron butted our way from the 'burbs of DC and ended in Newton, Iowa, at close to 3:30 am. Not much exciting about he day, just lots of droning along. Tim is now certifiable. Um, meant to say can be a certified Iron Butt Award applicant. :deal

We have been using Sena SMH10 bluetooth communicaotrs and they have made a world of difference. It's great to just chat along, see if the other guy is awake, and not have to pantomime our thoughts between bikes.

What with getting the Iron Butt done and arriving so late, there's been no rush today and we've only gotten to Omaha so far. So much for break, we're on the way north from Omaha to Sioux City, enroute to Mt. Rushmore. Got stuff to do, too.

Like finding a suitable spot for a nap in the sun.

Wreckchecker 06-07-2012 05:40 AM

hard to believe this was us just a few days ago, doing a throttle body sync as part of a 12,000 mile tune.

We've now spent most of 2 days like this and it's not been much of a vacation yet:

Stopped at the American Motorcycle Association in Ohio because my daughter's Travel Bear is such a camera hog and needed this shot:

We are supporting the oil industry and making dino friends everywhere. This one is in South Dakota:

Almost into Badlands and Mt. Rushmore, so there will be less of this:

Wreckchecker 06-11-2012 08:45 AM

To Bozeman, Montana
We've been slacking at updating the thread because we've been covering ground and seeing sights. It's also been a chance for us to re-connect a bit, now that Tim is not going through final exams and the last rush of college. Here is some text and we will have to insert photos later.

The South Dakota Badlands were beautiful and we got off to do a little walking.

Somebody fell while climbing above us and the SD Guard was called in to lift them out in a basket. Obviously a bad end to their vacation and a reminder.

After doing the usual paved loop through the Badlands, we decided to follow the gravel Rim Road for about 20 miles, which would technically also be a shorter way into Rapid City, rather than getting back on the highway. The first portion was fine and we were making good time, passing by fields of bison on our right and the Badlands on our left. Really pretty stuff.

As we progressed we found that the road had been freshly worked on and the gravel suddenly got a lot deeper. While the Tenere handled it well, with the coarser Heidenau tires and traction control, the VStrom had the more street oriented Shinko tires.

Tim was in the lead and suddenly went into a huge left right left right fishtail that was so deep the tops of his luggage was visible from behind. He rode mountain bikes for years and habits took over as he straightened it up, going off the road, dropping about a foot and a half into the grass. Fortunately there were no rain ruts and somehow he managed to keep it upright. We dug a path to get him back up onto the road and finished the route with a bit more respect.

Meanwhile, we had a huge western style thunder storm bearing on on us.

We were still 20 miles southwest of Rapid City and about to put up a tent when we came across this oasis.

Turned out to have several other bikes already pulled in and the sweet woman running the cafe let them park in a garage. It was full so we parked ours in the lee side of the building, then had a late lunch & fun company.

After the storm, we got groceries in Rapid City and found a nice camp ground near Mt. Rushmore for the night.

Rushmore was impressive, especially when considering how it was built.

We also learned important history there:

Afterward, we rode some incredible roads. Southbound through the Black Hills, we took the Iron Mountain Loop and got to see the wooden PigTail bridges, some open grazing, and beautiful mountain scenes. The weather was perfect.

We crossed to what is now our favorite road, the Needles Highway, to come north again. Toward the bottom of Needles, we had to stop for a bison, who decided that he had right of way and he liked to just stand in the middle of the road. Great photo op, right? As we were sitting, several more buffalo meandered out of the woods to our immediate left. The first one just happened to be the crossing guard and we were now between members of the herd. Comparing notes later, we both kept the clutch pulled and stayed in gear for a quick get away. The buffalo moved on to much the fresh grass next to the road and we gave them as wide a berth as possible. Very cool experience to be within 30-40 fet of these creatures.

Rode into Deadwood and then Sturgis. Got a T-shirt and then back on the highway west. Sturgis looks like a town that waits all year for a single week long party, and is dead without it.

We got off the highway at Sheridan and climbed into Bighorn National Park in a light sleety rain, but it was beautiful. Every time we came arou d the corners, we were talking about new sights on the intercom. There are all sorts of great sights, such as the waterfalls.

It was getting older, too, and the sleet turned into light snow. At one point we saw a herd on bighorns running through the woods nearby, which we probably would not have noticed in a car.

The weather had gotten cold and really windy, with gusts that were knocking the Suzuki around, with its' big windshield. Wei ended the day camping to the west of Cody, Wyoming. On the way into town we got to see herds of wild mustangs. As opposed to Sturgis, Cody was a vibrant place and we both regret not stopping in town for the night.

Our camp sight was near the town of Wapiti, to the east of Yellowstone and this was dinner

Wapiti is in the Shoshone valley, which acts as a wind tunnel. The owner of the camp ground warned us that we would have very strong winds coming in and potentially sever weather. This was while it was already blowing at well more than 20 kts.

It was really an RV park and his tent area was behind what had been the ticket shed for kiddie pony rides at some point. We got one tent up and had to use both a wooden bench and the picnic bench for a wind break. The tent was still dancing in the wind, so the owner let us use the shed, too. Tim chose to sleep in the tent and neither of us got a lot of sleep. The winds didn't just howl, they hammered and drove sand with force.
The next morning we woke to snow on the mountains around us and temps in the high 30s. In June. It took both of us to control the flapping tent material and pack, then we headed west again, toward Yellowstones' East Gate. The road was beautifully set between snow peaked mountains in a valley with a river running over rocks and through trees.

The Yellowstone park ranger at the East Gate cautioned us about reports of snow, icy roads, and slush that we might encounter as we went up through the pass to Yellowstone Lake.

We found all of those and later agreed that it was the best part of Yellowstone. Passing through the mountains was stunning, despite the light snow and cold temperatures.
On the way in we stopped for bighorn sheep grazing next to the road, close enoughfor an eyeball encounter. They were magnificent. As we were about to descend to the lake, a pair of black bears were in a lush field to our left.
We rode around the lake and had a late lunch to the southwest, on the road to Jackson. We stayedsimply to warm up. Looking at the time and with the potential for more snow to ice the road behind us, we decided to skip Jackson and head north.

We got to see the upper and lower falls, Mammoth Hot Springs, elk, and a few other sights. At one point a huge black crow flew next to and between us for a number of yards, as a close wingman. Yellowstone is another place we can return to.

W stopped for a break at Gardiner, on the North Gate, and met a guy who was also seeing the country. He'd left New Jersey slightly under 3 weeks before on his R1200 Adventure and was pressing to get home.

On the road north to the town of Livingston on I-90, the road follows a beautiful river through a wide valley. As with Yellowstone, this is bear country and we saw a blackie who looked like he was just on a stroll.

From Livingston we headed west to stay in Bozeman for the night. Today the weather is warmer and we are headed toward Glacier National Park.

Again, photos to come...

blaster11 06-11-2012 12:35 PM

Subscribed...nice pictures!

skierd 06-12-2012 02:14 AM

Just so you know, it was nearly 80 degrees and sunny here in Fairbanks. Looks like you guys are having a great ride! Bonus for Yellowstone, cold weather means no RV traffic. :thumb

Of course, you can't get here now by road since the AlCan is closed outside of Destruction Bay (washed out from all the rain the Yukon's been getting), but the road should mostly be back in place here in a few days.

Wreckchecker 06-12-2012 06:19 AM


Originally Posted by skierd (Post 18891534)
Just so you know, it was nearly 80 degrees and sunny here in Fairbanks. Looks like you guys are having a great ride! Bonus for Yellowstone, cold weather means no RV traffic. :thumb

Of course, you can't get here now by road since the AlCan is closed outside of Destruction Bay (washed out from all the rain the Yukon's been getting), but the road should mostly be back in place here in a few days.

So glad you are enjoying Fairbanks Dave - congratulations!

tshelfer 06-12-2012 06:39 AM

I'm in. :lurk For the record, you can't really overload a WeeStrom unless you're hauling bricks. But you'll love the DL1000, too. Happy trails.

Wreckchecker 06-12-2012 06:54 AM

Glacier NP
We are waking at the gate of Glacier NP and about 60 miles from the Canadian border. Before continuing, here are some more photos from Yellowstone. We've both been enjoying emails & texts from family & friends who iare following this thread. Thank you.

The 3rd in our group has been around the world & has a fear of snakes & spiders. Travel Bear did NOT want down from here.

SD after the storm.

Sturgis without tens of thousands of Harleys.
SD is one of the States that puts a marker next to the road where people get killed & there are a sobering number of single & dual markers near here. The following is Iron Mountain Loop & we agreedthat we would avoid the area when the Sturgis rally is on.

Another of falls in Bighorn.


Thru the pass & just above freezing.

Crest of Lower Falls, looking downstream.

Wreckchecker 06-12-2012 07:08 AM

Just learned that we are on a painfully slow connection so will not spend time uploading photos from getting here. Kristi D from work suggested getting off the highway at Three Forks, which was brilliant. For those following, we took a route that used Montana 141, then 200, then 89 to get to Glacier. Speeds were typically 70, it was a winding 2 lane, a very beautiful. We got sandwiches & had a late lunch on a serene mountain lake. Thank you!

One reason we came up to Glacier was to aeeGoing To The Sun Road & use it to get to KVR in Canada. We will get toi ride most of GTSun but the far endis still closed with snow. They hope to open it Friday & we will be long gone.

Like the adssay:
Time to ride!

true grip 06-12-2012 04:01 PM

Glad your trip is going well. Its nice to share father and son time. A memory to keep. I wrote the roads down you mentioned and will be giving them a good look on the map. My bro in law and i should be out the end of July. Ride safe and have fun. Mark

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