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Old 04-29-2014, 01:09 AM   #1
dogtiredRAT OP
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Zen navigating North America.

This is my story...

It is a retrospective view of an adventure I had in 2012.
It basically involved me packing my life up in Australia, and heading to North America for a year.
My life was a dog's breakfast, I was a mess mentally, just out of a very messy and particularly nasty divorce, I had to escape.
After 20 odd years of doing everything for everyone else it was "me" time. The kids were grown, and I was out of there.

I had a pocket full of cash.
I had no itinery or plan other than a vague notion of heading to Alaska some time during June or July.
I didn't have a bike...
But, I had a contact in Houston who I had never met, didn't know from a bar of soap, but he made a lot of sense, and was willing to help me with bike purchase and registration etc.
A very generous offer from an amazing bloke. He had been quite successful during his life, and had oodles of spare time and contacts, and a willingness to just help. More on him later.
This is all I had, besides an overnight bag with a change of clothes, and a tow hitch for a Bonneville, one hundred small clip on koala bears and a bottle of 15 year old Glenlivett single malt and a sense of adventure.

The ride report will be a lot of cut and pasting from a previous report I did on another site, but with a difference, I will also be adding comments and observations from 2 years after the trip. I will try to mark these observations/comments in italics or a different colour or something. It won't be your usual all dirt affair, although I do do a bit of serious dirt (mud) during the ride, it is mostly back roads with the slab only really being used to make a mile when I had to be somewhere fast.

Don't worry though, the Dalton gets a mention later... Possibly the most life changing split second decision I have ever made, I learnt more about myself than anything else on that ride up the Dalton in the most appaling conditions, it had rained solid for a week before I headed up there... On a Bonneville towing a trailer.

More on that later, but first some eye candy to whet the appetite.





I hope to, over the next couple of months, finally sort out the shemozzle of my ride reports and other posts at the time into some sort of coherent enough for me to eventually get it bound into a book for my own personal satisfaction and use. And no, the book wont be for sale, if you want to have a read, you will have to do it here, ok?

No, down to the task of getting it all together!
If you hop aboard for the journey, enjoy! I most certainly did.
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Old 04-29-2014, 01:28 AM   #2
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Ok, a quick heads up, anything written in italics and a different colour is from 2014, the rest is from 2012.




...and so it began.


Why?
In reality this trip is rooted in a decision I made thirty years ago, where I passed up an opportunity to travel for a job I wanted. Something I have regretted, not travelling had become the itch I could not scratch.
Life being what it is, thirty years, five kids, a few mortgages, and a divorce have all come and gone. I now find myself in a position to be able to travel, time and finances are covered.
I am doing it because I can...


I have a rough timetable based on the weather, start south and head north! Peppered with some events at certain times. Remember that events can be tourist attractions too. For example, at the start of May I shall be whooping it up with the good ol boys watching NASCAR at Talladega, then at the end of May I will be finding myself in Indianapolis. watching the 500. Now there will be two and a half weeks for me to make the 550 odd miles between the two events, and I will have all that time to poke around that general area. I will fine tune the details between these "events" as I get closer to them and get some local knowledge on roads, attractions and places to stay.
Seriously, the above is total rubbish, I didn't get near any of that...

I want to do the ride up to Alaska and back during the small weather window in the summer there. The trip from Seattle to Anchorage is around 2,500 miles, I have allowed myself 10 days up and 10 days back, I am not going to bust a gut getting there or back, on 600 mile days you don't get to see much. In calculating times and distance I have worked on averaging around 50 mph while travelling. This might sound low, but it is a pretty realistic figure, remember I will try and avoid the super slabs as much as possible. Six hours in the saddle is a fair days ride, and by my math, it is around 300 miles. I think my 10 days is fairly realistic.


Ok, the bike...
A Bonnie. About the bike, I know it is sentimental clap trap, and there are much better bikes to do it on but it sort of has to be a Bonnie, it just wouldn't be right otherwise. I will be towing a small cargo trailer behind the bike. I would rather tow 200 lbs behind me than strap a hundred on the bike and wrestle it around. I have been through the trailer versus put it on the bike argument too many times to go through it again, it is set in stone, I am getting the trailer. The sheer convenience of it is hard to ignore, if I am travelling to a destination and there is a nice two hour twisty ride on the way, just find a secure spot for the trailer, unhook it off the bike and go ride the twisties unencumbered. Return and put it back on, and you are ready to roll again in two minutes.


I am still at least a fortnight away from flying out, have to pack up my house and tie up all my loose ends.
Getting excited though.



Check this out, it is my visa from the US consulate... I look like Uncle Fester
Serious... serious hangover...
The night before I had been very drunk half way up a hundred year old oak tree with several mates at a bit of a going away thing.
Seriously? 50 year old blokes up trees with eskys?


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Old 04-29-2014, 01:45 AM   #3
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It is with a tear in my eye that I put "the Pig" my 1971/72 mongrel bred Bonnie in storage, said goodbye to my abode and headed off.
23rd February 2012


The flight from melbourne to Los Angeles was... well a flight, and pretty boring. But I did get to fly over in an A380, which are around three and a half hours quicker than a 747 on a Melbourne to Los Angeles trip. If you have never been up close to one, they are simply massive.


Oh, and while I was waiting to board, I took the opportunity to purchase duty free a 15 year old Glenlivet single malt that I will have to share with someone. Gee, I wonder if I can get a volunteer to help me..?

Had a few hours to kill at LAX before my flight to Houston, never seen so many guns in my life, what a culture shock!

The flight from L.A. to Houston was everything the flight across the Pacific wasn't. I watched stunning scenery and mountains taller than any I have ever seen. I was licking my lips in anticipation.

And so the dog had landed...
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Old 04-29-2014, 01:49 AM   #4
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Old 04-29-2014, 05:14 AM   #5
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Welcome sages.

A couple of things I should explain now.
My every day ride at home was a bike I affectionally called "the pig", because it was.

Being basically a '71 Bonneville, it had the gear shift on the right hand side, unlike modern bikes where the shift is on the left, this caused me a great deal of trouble at different times, and almost undid me a few times too... more than once in the first few days/weeks, I would be coming into a corner in ummm... "a spirited fashion" and while setting myself up for the corner, I would brake before leaning it in fully, you have no idea how scary a compression lock up is coming into a corner too fast, I would brake as if i was on the '71, which had vague braking abilities at the best of times, and stand on the brakes only to select a lower gear. This seriously put the wind up me and I had this weird head thing going on where I didn't trust the bike for a long time, took me 3 or 4 thousand miles to really come to terms with the bike and become comfortable with it. My new Bonnie was probably 80 to a 100 pounds heavier too, plus luggage... add this to riding on the wrong side of the road, and I was seriously struggling for a while, not that I would admit it then. I seriously just couldn't get my schitt together riding the new bike, and it worried me.
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Old 04-29-2014, 05:26 AM   #6
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The Dog has landed.

When I eventually landed in Houston well... will let HAP tell the story as he was the one who picked me up from the airport.

Quote:
For those who have followed Dog's planned trip to America, here is just a couple days worth of news. If you don't care don't read this.
Okay, Dog told me what he looked like and that he would have a green T shirt with cute frogs playing on the front. Couldn't miss the bald head in the air port pick up line, pulled over, shook his hand and loaded the trunk off the dolly onto the bed of the truck (he brought a whole trailer hitch assembly from Aussy land in his baggage). Made me wonder.
As we drove toward my house I glance at the green T shirt. 1970's tie die and in America what the frogs were doing is porn not playing.

He wants to eat and asks if we can stop at Hooters right next to a huge Harley dealership. (this is a lie... ) Says he wants to check out the wings and bikes. (another lie) I am now starting to get a bit more worried.
HAP neglected to mention he was a lay preacher and healer, (another lie) apparently he is (so he says) quite adept at the laying of hands and attempted to show me this at Hooters. The girls weren't having a bar of him!
We got to the bike shop and tried to buy his bike. His Aussy bank card wouldn't fit into the card reader. To big as their dollar is so much bigger than ours. But Dog did spend a couple hours with a 6' tall ex professional stunt rider who drives an old Harley. She is the clothing sales person. I think she was hitting on him but he didn't respond. So off to the bank to get money to buy the bike with. He has to set up an account at the bank. Works with a single gal from South Africa who does the account set ups. Very cute. I can't understand either of them when they talk as it isn't any English I have ever heard. But, it was very obvious she was hitting on the Dog. He seemed to miss that and I worried just a bit more.
Went with cash to get the bike this morning and the six foot Harley gal gives Dog an Art of Motorcycle coffee table book. Beautiful and it is free. Dog misses that. Then the salesman gives Dog a free expensive Triumph T shirt (no nasty frogs there). Looks longingly into Dogs eyes but again Dog missed that. I am very worried now. What is it with this guy?
I am to ride the bike back to my house as he has never ridden on the "Right" side of the road plus he wants to drive a 390 hp pick up down the freeway. The 6 foot Harley gal comes to take his picture next to the new bike and post it on their web site but Dog is in the truck with the stereo cranked, reving the engine so my picture is taken next to his bike and I will be Dog for the new bike purchase.
We get home and get on the bikes to go eat down at the ocean. Dog follows us as we ride the St with his new bike. He seems to have problems letting go of the left hand habit and accepting the "Right" Hand ways of Texas. Stepping on the brake when wanting to shift gear doesn't make the following Texans happy. Even worse is trying to stop and ending up down shifting. I now have grave doubts.
I will let you know how tomorrow goes.
This man tells terrible lies and is not to be trusted, this is not how I remember it...
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Old 04-29-2014, 06:08 AM   #7
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Your reputation precedes you! Your picture in post 1 has been nominated and added to the front page rotation of this site

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Old 04-29-2014, 06:15 AM   #8
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Classic! That is an outstanding photo for sure and gets my vote!

I had a similar "life event" and put 28,000 miles on my bikes in one riding season trying to get my head sorted out. It worked!

Looking forward to more.

Doug
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Old 04-29-2014, 06:25 AM   #9
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Old 04-29-2014, 06:25 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GB View Post
Your reputation precedes you! Your picture in post 1 has been nominated and added to the front page rotation of this site

GB, I am pretty chuffed about that, I will occasionally just sit and stare at the pics for ages, my pic will be in some pretty heady company, they are stunning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by manfromthestix View Post
I had a similar "life event" and put 28,000 miles on my bikes in one riding season trying to get my head sorted out. It worked!

Looking forward to more.

Doug
Welcome aboard Doug, something about time in the saddle, it seems to put things in perspective and gives you time to think.
Glad it worked out well for you.
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Old 04-29-2014, 06:41 AM   #11
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Talking The bike.

I am going to give a shameless plug to British USA in South Houston, great people. If your close, and looking for a bike, definately call in there and see what they have to offer. Triumph BMW (Bring More Wallet) and Urals, I was very tempted by some of their used bikes too.

I walked into the showroom and stood and looked, even if you arent going to buy anything it is worth the trip to their shop just to look at all the old Trumpets, Beezers, AJS's, Nortons from the 50's, 60's and 70's. After some time I eventually realised there was also new bikes on the floor, and quite a few. As my head swiveled down the line of bikes, past the Thunderbirds, the America, Street and Speed Triples, there it was, my heart skipped a beat, and I was in love. My head kept swivelling but my eyes were focused on a grey and black T100. After 20 minutes of trying to think of a reason, any reason, not to buy the T100 and buy something else, I was keen to sign the paperwork. The bike was ready to pick up the next morning. I had them put a Triumph King and Queen seat, and a roadster screen on the bike, arse comfort is paramount, and I have a dislike of large insects. Bolted on my tow hitch, and here is the result.


... that has got to be the second ugliest seat I have ever seen on a Bonneville.
but I could get off it after 500 miles with no discomfort. Worth every cent.


I needed practically a whole new set of gear as well, I had lost a considerable amount of weight over the last three years, around 90 lbs, so my gear from home was practically useless. A Schuberth C3 flip top helmet, some ventilated pants and jacket, and the neatest of the lot, ventilated gloves that are waterproof, I have no Idea how they do this but they work.
Yeah right, they worked the first time...

the next day Hap, SWMBO and myself went for a shake down ride about 90 miles down the coast from Houston to eat seafood. Still trying to figure out the most enjoyable part of the day, the food was awesome, had some Gumbo for the first time. The bike ran like a dream, motorcycles have come a long way in the 40 odd years since mine was built, imagine that, a bike that you push a button to start! And no vibrations, when you got home nothing had rattled off it. The ride was all on straight and flat roads due to being on the Delta that extends south of Houston, but heh, I didn't care, I was on a Bonneville riding on the wrong side of the road in a foreign land, my dream had become reality. I had a schitt eating grin on my face from start to finish. Everything was new and different, the scenery, the road signs, the vehicles, the speed everyone travels at, sitting anywhere between 70 and 90 mph was a whole new world for me.

Returned home just on dark and settled in for a good nights sleep and a new day.
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Old 04-29-2014, 07:31 AM   #12
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Looking forward to more.
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Old 04-29-2014, 08:30 AM   #13
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Laugh GoPro!

I bought myself a GoPro camera to mount to the bike among other things...
Fitted the mounts to the bike, went back upstairs, read 2 pages of the manual, thought to myself, sod this, just turn it on and see what you get, here is the first bit of footage I took, suburbia in Houston. Not exactly adventure riding.

Joe Satriani seemed appropriate.


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Old 04-29-2014, 08:54 AM   #14
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Thumb Pine forests.

More coming... I am currently on a two day ride around the pine forests north east of Houston, and will get back in a couple of days when I got time to post about that.
This is just a two day jaunt to run up the 600 miles before my first service, it seemed pretty pointless to take off travelling before I had this done.





This part of Texas seems to be a well kept secret, very little traffic, great roads, and bizarrely very few bikes.

This is a bit of footage taken by me in East Texas, Greenday this time.


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Old 04-29-2014, 09:07 AM   #15
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I finally have time to write up East Texas.

Hap and I ventured up to the pine forests of East Texas for a quick run around, a lazy 522 miles all up for Saturday and Sunday.

We took off out of South Houston and headed for Woodville in East Texas. Here is the Google aps link. I have no idea what roads we took to get there, I was too busy gawking at the scenery and holding Hap up by being slow, although we both gave the bikes a squirt at times. I got my 'Ton Up!' on the Bonneville just for curiosity sake, it did it in a canter and still had more, The bike continues to impress me as a riding platform, it is not fast for a modern bike, but it is rediculously easy to ride and very forgiving. I am comparing it to my 41 year old Bonneville though...

We rode a lot of roads through the area and saw very few bikes, this area has to be Texas best kept secret. The trick is to get onto the Farm to Market roads, they all have excellent tarmac and very little traffic. You just pull out the map, and point and say, this one looks good, and you have a 20 mile squirt to the next town or crossroads, select another road that looks good, rinse and repeat.

An entire weekend of this is just too much fun.
Here are the trusty steeds parked at the motel for the night.


I am sorry I don't have photos of the scenery, but we were just having too much fun riding. it was good to finally get some miles under the belt.

I must mention the ride back into South Houston, from the time we hit freeway, to Haps house, it was 36 miles of the most intense sensory overload I have had for a long time. 80 mph in mad freeway traffic at night, 4 lanes full going both ways, the lights, the sounds, the smells, it was just awesome, and something I haven't had at home. I am just a country lad... and simply don't see this sort of traffic, it made me feel so alive. I was still buzzing and thinking about it hours later, it was awesome in the true sense of the word.

But there is better to come, I must put todays ride together and post it.



The weekend: 522 miles.
Total: 704 miles.

Crazy old Triumph guys: 0

Ok, the stats at the bottom of my posts, I will continue them all the way through, there are some interesting ones come up later... It just keeps getting added to.
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