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Old 03-08-2014, 08:59 AM   #1
Boondox OP
Travels With Barley
 
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Location: North Central Vermont
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VT to the Pacific w/ Barley in a hack



Every year of shared adventure with Barley, my faithful golden retriever sidecar companion, adds a few lessons and generates a few changes to the rig over the winter months. The trip to drought-stricken Missouri in temps as high as 110F forced me to figure out a way of keeping my dog out of direct sunlight while still permitting plenty of ventilation. Since our 2013 ride across the US and back would have us crossing large sections of hot, arid country both ways, I added a ragtop to the hack. I knew it would increase drag and lower my mpg, but if the dog ain't happy ain't nobody happy! I also added a water bottle holder on the right upper crash bar so I could squirt Barley to get some evaporative cooling thru his thick fur. He got a new memory foam dog bed to better isolate him from vibration, and a pannier topper dedicated to his treats, toys, emergency meds and poop bags.

I added a highway peg on the left side of the GSA to let me stretch out on those long passages; the sidecar frame gave me a decent footrest on the right side so no peg was needed there.

Once the snow melted in April we commenced a series of training rides, building up to the daily mileage we would need to efficiently cover 9000 miles in three weeks. The locals all know Barley, and on these rides it was not at all uncommon for us to be followed by tourists with cameras or smart phones held out the car windows.



(The blonde in the second photo is Barley, btw. The redhead in the first photo is Rusty, one of the rescues we rehab and find homes for. He enjoyed "helping" me in the shop, but was too air-headed to make a trusty traveling companion.)

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I got a sidecar to travel with my dog. He never complains, is delighted to be with me, approves of my dietary choices, is a social butterfly who helps me meet folks, appreciates a good beer, snuggles better than my wife, and hangs on my every word as if it's the most profound thing he's ever heard. TravelsWithBarley.com

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Old 03-08-2014, 09:19 AM   #2
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In late June, a week before our departure, I began the task of packing everything in such a way that it made sense, i.e., in a way that I would instinctively know where to find things when needed - in the dark or rain - without having to fumble around. While my packing gets better each year, I've not yet perfected that system. This year I switched to Kriega bags. They are absolutely waterproof, of decent size, and they double as a backrest.



In the top case I carry a small Igloo cooler. Every morning I fill it with a bag of ice. As the day progresses and the heat builds, that ice will slowly melt. At every rest stop Barley and I will use some of that ice water to chill our drinking water. Like humans, in hot conditions dogs will drink more chilled water (not cold) than warm water, so it helps us both stay hydrated. The top case also contains some light snacks, nuts and dried fruit, jerky, etc which we share throughout the day. On top of it all is my emergency medical kit. This is my "Oh Shit Kit," and contains only stuff I might need to save a life. Routine stuff like aspirin, tweezers, tick remover, etc are kept elsewhere.
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I got a sidecar to travel with my dog. He never complains, is delighted to be with me, approves of my dietary choices, is a social butterfly who helps me meet folks, appreciates a good beer, snuggles better than my wife, and hangs on my every word as if it's the most profound thing he's ever heard. TravelsWithBarley.com
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Old 03-08-2014, 09:28 AM   #3
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We left home on the 4th of July, Barley and me. Rusty, Kazoo, and Tully - our other three goldens - were in good hands with my wife, though I was a bit worried about Tully. He is a one person dog, and has bonded so completely to me that I wondered how he would manage while I was gone. Before suiting up I spent some time with him.



We said our goodbyes and set off into the foggy morning. Down our dirt road and past the nearby Trapp Family Lodge. I elected to take the Interstate till the fog burned off a bit; the risk of deer strikes is too high in my part of rural Vermont. We crossed into New York and made it through Saratoga Springs just ahead of their Independence Day parade before I remembered the ContourRoam2 camera on the side of my helmet. Bummer - the streets of Saratoga Springs were packed with spectators, with some wheelchair-bound young veterans pushed right up front. Semper fi, my brothers.





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I got a sidecar to travel with my dog. He never complains, is delighted to be with me, approves of my dietary choices, is a social butterfly who helps me meet folks, appreciates a good beer, snuggles better than my wife, and hangs on my every word as if it's the most profound thing he's ever heard. TravelsWithBarley.com

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Old 03-08-2014, 09:39 AM   #4
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Amsterdam, Tioga Downs, Oneonta, Binghamton. Clouds coalescing ahead, but never enough to offer more than a passing shower. Rest stops every ninety minutes. But it felt awkward in that neither Barley nor myself have established our rhythm yet. Again, no surprise. Each year the first couple of days are about getting it together. It occurred to me that if I’d given up before reaching that point on our first trip I’d never have discovered the joy of long distance adventure with Barley.

It became hot and muggy in mid-afternoon, but we pressed on. By 4pm we reached our destination for the day; as we pulled into the camp near Tioga, Pennsylvania, we were met by friends old and new.

Of all the goldens who have shared my life, Barley is the most sociable. He absolutely loves people. Well, most people. He occasionally meets a disreputable sort that raises his hackles and brings out a threatening growl. That's only happened a couple of times and to be honest, those people raised my hackles as well. I trust my dog's judgement of character. But in Tioga we were among friends, and he soaked up all the affection that was offered.





We left Tioga early Friday morning. In the first thirty miles we noticed a lot of roadkill: six deer, one black bear, eight racoons, four possums, and a skunk. It made me nervous about taking my eyes off the road. And it was muggy! By late morning I decided to leave the rural roads in favor of Turnpikes to reach our next stop early. Within minutes we saw a multiple car crash in the lanes heading back east. One vehicle was upside down with the driver’s side caved in. I counted a dozen emergency vehicles at the scene. But our lanes were clear and moving fast. It’s easy to fall into high mileage mode at those speeds, so I resolved to pull into every rest stop to give Barley a chance to play. We pulled into a Super 8 hotel in Elkhart, Indiana at 5pm. Barley had shifted into travel mode. Home is with me. Home is the sidecar, the hotel room, the tent.





We were up at 4am and on the road an hour later. The plan was to be through Chicago before its citizens wake up. Good plan, bad execution. As we approached that massive city the traffic picked up as did the speed. A damaged Con-Way trailer surrounded by traffic cones was augered into the right shoulder, heavily damaged and nearly on its side. “Construction Zone: 45mph,” read a road sign. “Fines doubled.”

Traffic continued at 80mph.



But we made it through the chaos of Chicago and cross into Wisconsin and a saner pace.
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I got a sidecar to travel with my dog. He never complains, is delighted to be with me, approves of my dietary choices, is a social butterfly who helps me meet folks, appreciates a good beer, snuggles better than my wife, and hangs on my every word as if it's the most profound thing he's ever heard. TravelsWithBarley.com

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Old 03-08-2014, 09:59 AM   #5
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Susan and Steve are nice people who raise very sweet golden retrievers. Having just moved to a smaller home with a sunroom still under construction, their golden girls were confined to wire crates except for regular exercise periods. As Barley and I walked in the house was filled with the sound of excited tails banging against those crates! BANG, BANG, BANG! When last we visited I fell in love with an adorable female pup named Shine. I would have taken her home if there had been a way to smuggle her out from under Susan’s watchful eye. And there she was, all grown up with her first litter on the ground. Sweet as ever, she pushed herself into my lap and leaned into my chest, absorbing all the tenderness I had to offer.

Once again I thought of ways to smuggle her home…



The town was having a 4th of July celebration, so off we went to check it out. One of the first things I noticed is that there are a LOT more blondes in Wisconsin than we have in Vermont. The other thing I noticed is that in the little town of Evansville everybody seemed to know everybody else. And they also seemed to genuinely like everybody! I'd be introduced to an elderly woman and we'd launch into a conversation like long-lost friends. Then a middle-aged man would say hello and be introduced to me. "Say hello to Sven. He was one of my students back in second grade." Delightful!



Burgers and hot dogs and ice cream and games...

Back at the house it was time to meet Shine's pups. Few things are as fun as sitting in a room surrounded by golden retriever puppies. Some attacked my cuffs and laces. One climbed up and covered my nose with kisses. Another tried to suck on my beard. Two curled up in my lap and went to sleep. I held one up thinking it would fit nicely into my tankbag…

Throughout the night whenever I reached out to caress Barley, his tail would thump softly on the floor. It was a happy sound, immediately echoed by the wagging tails of Susan’s girls banging on their wire crates. BANG, BANG, BANG! We were awake at five o’clock Saturday morning. Good thing my hosts were earlybirds as well! Breakfast, more puppy time, a goodbye to Susan, Steve and Shine, and we were on our way.



At a local gas station we were joined by my buddy, Bert, whom I had met two years ago at a rally in Chippewa Falls. We caught each other up on news, then he led us west on a far more scenic route than the one I had planned. So we followed him down the brick-paved streets of Evansville, through dairy country and past the New Glarus Brewery, past vast fields of mostly corn till he pulled over next to a park on Highway 18. “Stay on 18 into Iowa,” he shouted thru a cloud of mosquitos. “Then if you need to make better time you can angle up to I-90.” With a bear hug and hearty slaps on the back we parted. I hope someday to return the favor if Bert ever rides east.



We crossed the Mississippi River, not so massive this far north but still pretty impressive. Recent rains had left everything green. We stayed on Hwy 18 for nearly two hundred miles, entering what I called The Great Flatness. But the Flatness was populated by some truly nice people. Barley and I were taking a break in one small town’s park when a man in a pickup spotted us. He backed up and rolled down his window explaining that his son had been following us on Facebook. With a wave he wished us a safe journey and welcomed us to Iowa. Pretty cool!

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I got a sidecar to travel with my dog. He never complains, is delighted to be with me, approves of my dietary choices, is a social butterfly who helps me meet folks, appreciates a good beer, snuggles better than my wife, and hangs on my every word as if it's the most profound thing he's ever heard. TravelsWithBarley.com

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Old 03-08-2014, 10:17 AM   #6
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By early afternoon it was hot and humid. Damned hot and humid! Oh, and flat. Did I mention The Flatness? We crossed into South Dakota feeling the effects and pulled into a rest area for a break. Inside was a small tourism kiosk with a remarkably knowledgeable attendant behind the counter. She helped us find a hotel for the night in nearby Sioux Falls. Another short ride to the Super 8 where Barley camped out next to the air conditioning unit while I uploaded the day’s photos. A brief trip outside for Barley to pee, and me to groom him, then back to the room and bed.

In the morning, still dark at 4am, I placed Barley’s vest on top of the luggage and forgot to stow it before we got underway. As I drove slowly through a construction zone I saw something fly up behind me, but paid little attention thinking it was a bit of roadside debris. One hundred and fifty miles to the west, as I pulled over to feed and exercise my dog, I realized it had been his vest containing my medical and his veterinary information. Out came the iPhone. A quick search came up with a phone number for the Sioux Falls Police Department. I called, not really sure what I was asking for, but after listening to my situation Officer Claussen dispatched a patrol car to the road I had taken from the hotel. He called back several minutes later to inform me the vest had been found exactly where I thought it might have been, took down my address, and mailed it to me at his own expense, refusing to even consider reimbursement. “Pay it forward,” he told me. It was a touch of kindness that was completely unexpected, but typified the warmth of the people we met on the road.







By mid-morning I could see the dark shape of the Black Hills in the distance. As a Vermonter I’m fascinated by distant horizons. Back home we see only one valley at a time; the horizon is the forested hillside a few miles in front of us. But out here the views are endless!



Noon arrived along with persistent showers as we reached the entrance to Badlands National Park. I sprung for a National Park Service Annual Pass as the plan was to visit enough of them to warrant the sticker price. With a wave to the ranger we were in, and instantly surrounded by a surreal landscape, a tortured place of wild colors and shapes! I pulled into the first parking area we came to and dismounted, attending to the needs of dog, bike, and self in that order. Barley sniffed the air, catching the scent of junk food coming from a nearby car. “Kiteo!” I tell him. Stay! He trotted to my side and sat on my foot, looking up at me expectantly. I grabbed his pack and together we headed for a group of tourists expressing wonder at something just over a nearby hump of Technicolor.

The footing was slick, very slick from the rain, and I kept Barley on a tight lead as we clambered up next to the others. We were standing on the edge of a vertical drop of perhaps two hundred feet; below us the ground twisted and turned like a head of brain coral, the colors muted by the overcast but still remarkable. “Jeezum Crow!” I muttered in amazement, an expression any New Englander could relate to.



Thanks to the URL on the back of the sidecar, Barley had developed a following. Occasionally some of his fans would find us on the road and stop to take photos of him.



__________________
I got a sidecar to travel with my dog. He never complains, is delighted to be with me, approves of my dietary choices, is a social butterfly who helps me meet folks, appreciates a good beer, snuggles better than my wife, and hangs on my every word as if it's the most profound thing he's ever heard. TravelsWithBarley.com

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Old 03-08-2014, 10:26 AM   #7
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Great start! Any pup that likes traveling with dad on a bike is a great pup!

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Old 03-08-2014, 10:40 AM   #8
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Old 03-08-2014, 10:41 AM   #9
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Halfway thru the scenic loop I noticed a dirt road on the left. A sign told me it was the way to Scenic, SD. I'd been told that Scenic is anything but scenic. Still, it was a dirt road and I ride a GSA. We took the road less traveled and crossed a cattle grating.



The road stretched on a bit through sand hills dressed in short, green grass.



Barley saw the bull before I did, or rather he recognized it as something other than a large bush before I did. I heard his growl, a deep, fierce, primal thing coming up from his broad chest. So did the bull. As he turned his attention to us Barley erupted into his best Cujo imitation, hurling every threat and curse in his vocabulary at the remarkably large creature. I believe he even insulted its mother.

Because that’s when the bison charged!

There is something truly magnificent about a creature the size of Volkswagen minibus coming your way with bad intent. I had always imagined bison to be about the size of a dairy cow, but this thing was so much bigger than even the largest steer at the county fair that I couldn’t imagine anything short of a Abrams tank standing up to it! I hurriedly stuffed the camera back in my tankbag and put the sidecar in a sliding 180, retreating back the way we came as fast as possible. Barley leaned out the side of his ride, continuing to tell the bull exactly what he’d do if he ever got a chance.

More guts than brains, my loyal dog!



We stopped briefly at Wall Drug, baffled at why it was on so many "Must See" lists, then found a cheap hotel and continued on to the Black Hills the following day. Once again I got up early and was on the road by 5am to beat the tourists. Barley, who recognizes an obscene hour when he sees one, slept soundly in the hack.



We rounded a corner and there was Mount Rushmore. Magnificent! Barley was utterly unimpressed. I pulled into the park entrance and noticed a couple of things right away. We had definitely beaten the tourists. And we had also beaten the NPS staff.

The place was closed.



No bother. We headed for Iron Mountain hoping for a quiet place to pull over and play. We found it at the summit, and I noticed a curious thing. I was more at ease there, surrounded by forest and granite, than I was closer to the monument. There was something about the size of the parking lot that reminded me of a big mall filled with franchises. Atop Iron Mountain, a mile away, I could see Rushmore as it was intended to be seen. No glitter, no clever marketing, just simple majesty.





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I got a sidecar to travel with my dog. He never complains, is delighted to be with me, approves of my dietary choices, is a social butterfly who helps me meet folks, appreciates a good beer, snuggles better than my wife, and hangs on my every word as if it's the most profound thing he's ever heard. TravelsWithBarley.com

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Old 03-08-2014, 11:15 AM   #10
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We moved on to the Needles Highway, a narrow ribbon of asphalt dancing among stone spires and views that cause your gaze to linger. I briefly thought of turning around and riding the Wildlife Loop, but the memory of Barley taunting the bison bull was still fresh in my mind. Why tempt fate?







We pulled over several times to rest and play among the rocks. We were on vacation, afterall, and while I really wanted to reach the Pacific Ocean I didn't want to do it at the cost of pushing Barley so hard he stopped wanting to travel with me. One must always make time to pee on the flowers.





Reluctantly, I left the Black Hills behind. We dropped into the town of Spearfish with a longing for junk food, refueled, then pulled into a KFC for lunch. We were lounging on the grass in the shade of a small tree when a pickup pulled in next to us. The driver, with a huge grin, introduces himself as Mike. He recognized our rig from my posts on ADVRider.com, where he goes by Griz. With the eye of a machinist he examined my sidecar’s sub-frame and swaybar, taking mental notes for his own rig. “You’ve got to ride Spearfish Canyon,” he said as we shook hands goodbye. “It’s like a miniature Lolo Pass.”

We had already visited the towns of Lead and Deadwood, both overdone in that garish sameness, neither catering to serious riders so much as the chromed cruiser crowd. There was a good hotel a few miles ahead in Belle Fourche, we had time, so I took Mike’s advice. Wow! It was a fantastic detour, the sort of ride you don’t discover without the input of a local rider! From there we rode to the hotel in Belle Fourche, which appeared to be the shining star of that little town. But it was still early afternoon, not yet two, so we crossed into Wyoming and pressed on to Devil’s Tower.





Devil's Tower was beautiful, no doubt about it. But it was also surrounded by so many of the unsavory trappings of rampant tourism that I found it more enjoyable from a distance. It's just too hard for me to focus on what's sacred when surrounded by RVs and screaming kids. I stopped at the trading post for an ice cream which I shared with Barley before we pressed to Sheridan WY.
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I got a sidecar to travel with my dog. He never complains, is delighted to be with me, approves of my dietary choices, is a social butterfly who helps me meet folks, appreciates a good beer, snuggles better than my wife, and hangs on my every word as if it's the most profound thing he's ever heard. TravelsWithBarley.com

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Old 03-08-2014, 11:33 AM   #11
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We left Sheridan WY at five o’clock, heading up Hwy 14ALT as the sun rose. We reached Sibley Lake early in the morning, and it was beautiful! I would definitely camp there if I ever come this way again. Past the campground, we pulled over next to the mist-shrouded lake for a break. Ducks swam lazily in the reflected sunlight. A fisherman stood on a short pier, not seeming to care if anything was biting. Barley and I shared breakfast, then played fetch a couple of times till he picked up rodent scent and started hunting.



We continued west through open range, slowing now and then for grazing livestock, a few horses but mostly cattle. The cattle were not very alert at the early hour, and a few times we had to slow to a crawl as youngsters stood in the road, their rumps facing the warmth of the rising sun. By mid-morning we began descending a long twisty section of highway into a vast desert visible beyond. Halfway down we were stopped by a couple hundred cattle being driven up the highway. I pulled to the side of the road and turned off the engine. Six cowboys – one of them a child of five or so wearing brand new miniature chaps and an equally new cowboy hat – were driving the cattle up the road from one pasture to another.

Barley watched carefully as we were surrounded by cattle that skittered past as they eyed us suspiciously. My dog behaved; he apparently has no beef with domestic livestock. (Okay, bad pun!) As the last beefer darted past us, the child rode up to us on his horse, tipped his wide-brimmed hat with pride, and motioned downhill toward the desert beyond.

“It’s safe now, mister,” he informed me with all the gravity of a first-grader. “You can go on.”




Hot. Dry. We pressed on at 85mph in a posted 75 zone, covering miles of high desert before I saw a large body of water ahead. Water in the midst of a desiccated landscape. But as I rounded the last corner and approached the lake I noticed a construction zone with warnings that delays may be expected. Sure enough, ahead was a flagger. Her sign read STOP. Crud! We slowed to a crawl and stopped about thirty feet from her. She nodded at me, then peered through the nose-besmudged windscreen of the sidecar. A smile began to form on her tanned face. Barley woofed a greeting. Her smile erupted into a full-scale expression of delight.

“Screw the traffic!” she said, abandoning her station. “Can I say hello to your dog?”



Riding with Barley is like spreading pixie dust. People react. Some with laughter, nearly all with smiles. And those smiles warm my soul. The fact that doing something I love, with such a fun and loyal companion at my side, creates joy around us just seems too good to be true. I grin all the way to the high desert town of Powell, Wyoming, where we pull into a McDonald’s for lunch. There’s a large group of Harleys in the parking lot, so I pull in next to them. Harley riders seem to love dogs, and this group is no exception. We were peppered with questions; Barley grunted happily as a pretty woman scratched his butt. They watch him as I went inside and got some chow. Not the healthiest, but Barley loves their fries.

As I rejoined my dog the group mounted up and departed as a pack. Barley and I sat in the shade and shared our meal. The small patch of grass at McDonald’s was the only patch of green I could see. Anywhere. I read the headlines through the nearly opaque plastic window of a nearby newspaper stand: AREA GRATEFUL FOR RECENT RAIN. Back home in Vermont, my wife tells me there have been torrential thunderstorms nearly every day since our departure. Three counties lost roads. Roads not just closed for repairs, but missing entire sections. But out there it was dry. Desert dry.

I could see mountains ahead. We reached Chief Joseph Byway by noon, turned north and began climbing. We turned right on 212 and began our ride to the legendary Beartooth Pass. The scenery got better the higher we went. We pulled in at Top of the World Store for the obligatory been there sticker. Barley was very well-behaved as we entered the store…then noticed stuffed animals which he tried to retrieve. I hurriedly purchased a sticker and retreated with my dog.

Outside were several motorcyclists, all clad in HD gear and all having a good time. Three more pulled up, scowling at the world as they did their vest-clad Charles Bronson stern-and-forbidding routine. The tough guy thing is foreign to me. If not for my full-face helmet the whole world would notice that I grin and laugh as I ride. Not these three. One took a look at my protective gear and scowled even more.

“If I was so afraid of riding that I had to wear that shit, I’d give it up,” he announces to the world in a disdainful tone.

“If I rode as slow as you,” I responded, “I wouldn’t need any gear.” The fun-loving group behind me laughed and applauded. I mounted up and moved on with a wave to the friendly group. A couple miles ahead we hit the dreaded CONSTRUCTION ZONE sign, followed by FLAGGER AHEAD. Just our luck, the STOP sign was facing us! There was only one small sedan in front of us. Clearly we just missed our turn; it was going to be a wait. I turned off the engine. Two more cars pulled up behind us, then the three scowling Harley riders. They blipped their throttles to express their displeasure, the noise from their Screaming Eagle pipes echoing off the hills.

We were in a marshy area. It was lovely, and the sky was an incredible shade of blue. But there were mosquitoes by the thousands! As they swarmed around me I simply shut my helmet visor. After buzzing around me but finding no opening in my armor they give up and moved to the Harley riders behind me. I watched the show in my mirror as the riders begin swatting furiously. It was hopeless, however. Their leather vests and branded doo-rags offered no protection at all. It would have made a great commercial for Off! Insect Repellent!

The flagger let us go. I quickly passed the sedan and left the crowd behind. We climbed higher and higher, the views becoming more breathtaking with each curve. Up, above the timberline and still climbing. I pulled over several times for photos and also to let Barley stretch. He peed at one stop two miles up, oblivious of the incredible view behind him.











Beartooth Pass was an incredibly beautiful experience, one that earned a spot near the top of my "Must come back someday" list. But not today. We dropped into the desert town of Red Lodge and continued west. We still had a long way to go...
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I got a sidecar to travel with my dog. He never complains, is delighted to be with me, approves of my dietary choices, is a social butterfly who helps me meet folks, appreciates a good beer, snuggles better than my wife, and hangs on my every word as if it's the most profound thing he's ever heard. TravelsWithBarley.com

Boondox screwed with this post 03-09-2014 at 05:16 AM
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Old 03-08-2014, 05:09 PM   #12
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Loving your RR.
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Old 03-08-2014, 05:18 PM   #13
Ballics
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Old 03-09-2014, 05:07 AM   #14
seevtsaab
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This seems like deja vu all over again!



Lovely little excursion. The Notch is just a few miles up the road. I'm probably
directly over the chin from your location. Love your RR's. Safe travels.
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Old 03-09-2014, 05:58 AM   #15
Long Trail
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Nice to see a ride start from my home state. I'm a bit south of you (near route 4) and don't have the time away from work to allow such a trip as yours. It's cool you have such a great travel companion. Subscribed and enjoying your report.
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