Corporate Runaways: BOS -> CO - 2 dogs in a Ural

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Dachary, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Boston
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    Lake Granby by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    Hooray! We'd arrived at our destination so we didn't have to set an alarm to get up at a certain time! It was worthy of a celebration and sleeping in. Unfortunately, my body has now been programmed to wake up between 5:30 and 6:30AM and sleeping in a tent I'm even more inclined to this timeline, as the sun comes up and it gets light (and I have to put on clothes and shoes and wander off to the pit toilet to pee, instead of having the convenience of a bathroom just a few steps away) so by 6:30AM, I was wide awake. I tried poking my phone, but cell signal in Lake Granby is, unsurprisingly, sparse… so I laid there for a while, and then wandered off to where the early risers were starting to gather.

    Morning chat ensued, and eventually the idea of breakfast came up as more people wandered over. Breakfast? On a day with no schedule and nothing on the agenda but to ride around beautiful mountains? Sure! Off to breakfast at the Chuck Wagon with a bunch of the guys, which involved us gearing up and loading the dogs into the Ural and riding our bikes over while the rest of the guys just piled into cars so as to not have to gear up (or because they didn't have bikes because they'd flown in, etc.) Fortunately, they patiently waited for us so they could show us where to go.

    Breakfast was tasty, and gave me a chance to chat some more with the guys I was sitting near. Kay had stayed out to make the dogs comfortable in the Ural while the rest of us were seated, so he was on the other end of a table with like 9 or 11 of us and we were each having our own conversations. Amusingly, we each ordered some tasty breakfast meats for the dogs - I ordered a side of bacon, and he ordered a side of sausage. Happy dogs!

    After breakfast, we headed back to the campground to see where people were riding. Someone had wisely brought a map which included some dirt roads, which made Kay's eyes light up - he loves riding dirt. I looked a couple of spots and thought we might try Ute Pass south out of Parshall, but first we should stop at the gas station back in Granby and try to pick up our own Colorado map. We did, but discovered that none of the dirt roads we'd seen back in camp were on our newly-acquired map. Yikes! I picked out an alternate paved route for us that would take a nice loop, and we headed off down 40 toward Kremmling. When we got to Parshall, I remembered the name of the road and caught a sign for it, so I quickly told Kay to turn off and we were starting our dirt adventure!

    The first several miles of the road weren't dirt at all, and I was starting to get disappointed for Kay that we weren't going to hit dirt. But it was still beautiful. It's hard to go wrong in this part of Colorado. Pick a direction and you'll see something beautiful. It wasn't the same awe-inspiring beauty of the massive high peaks we'd seen yesterday in Rocky Mountain National Park, but it was still beautiful. We were happy.

    And then - we hit some dirt! It was flat, hard-packed and so nice we could run along at around 45-50MPH on it, so it barely qualified as dirt… but it was unpaved! There was a bit of loose gravel now and again in some of the turns, but it was easy to avoid on the straight bits and I had absolutely zero stress about it. That's one positive thing about riding Routa 40 in Argentina - the mild stuff really doesn't bother me at all any more. A little slipping around on loose gravel isn't a big deal at all. I enjoyed the ride, and we took in the sights.

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    The Dirt of the Day by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

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    A glimpse of the local wildlife by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

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    Pausing for a photo op by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    Kay commented that he loved this road because it felt like unspoiled land. There were a few houses now and again, and dirt roads branching off in different directions, but for the most part, things seemed untouched. Only toward the end of the road did we start seeing signs of human encroachment… some big industrial development company had been laying natural gas pipelines, had a big holding pool for… something and had some massive plants. And we saw a bunch of signs that said something along the lines of "hunters are no longer welcome." It made me wonder what they were doing that they felt that all of a sudden they had to keep hunters out. It was kinda sad to see the massive industrial complex… but soon enough we left it behind again with only the occasional logging scars to mar the scenery.

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    Some sort of holding pond at an industrial site in Colorado by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    At the end of the road, we caught up with 9 and had a pleasant ride up to Kremmling, where we opportunistically gassed up the Ural and grabbed some caffeinated beverages. We've been short on sleep for a while now, since we started getting up before sunrise to make miles before it got too hot, because we're typically up late doing ride reports, uploading photos and taking care of all of the minutiae of life on the road. Last night, we'd been up late chatting with the F650 guys. So the lack of sleep and the early rising was catching up with us, and we were tired. The caffeinated beverages helped, though, so I picked out another loop for us - up to 134 across to Toponas, and then up 131 through Yampa and Oak Creek up to Steamboat Springs, where we could gas up again and pick up lunch.

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    The wave by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

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    The rain falls by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    Heading out of the gas station in Kremmling, we had stowed our rain gear - I'd insisted that we stop and put it on somewhere on Ute Pass because it looked like rain, but we'd gotten fucking hot and no rain had happened, so we said "screw it" and put the rain gear away. Which, of course, invoked Murphy, because we got rained upon. I didn't care. I'd rather be wet than too hot.

    The riding was beautiful. The day was beautiful, in spite of the rain. Temperatures were comfortable and it was a pleasure to be out riding because we wanted to ride, not because we had to make miles to get somewhere. The pace was whatever we wanted it to be. This is the kind of riding we truly love.

    The only drama came when we paused for a moment on 134 a few miles out from Toponas. There was a really cool looking rock that we wanted to photograph.

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    That's an interesting looking rock... by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    Kay pulled the Ural over on the side of the road, next to an embankment, and I pulled behind him on the F650. I didn't even bother to put my kickstand down because it was supposed to be a quick photo stop, so I'm standing there holding my bike up. Kay takes a photo, and then walks a bit further down the road to get a shot without a telephone pole in the frame. He's walking back toward the Ural and he's almost there when I suddenly see the Ural starting to roll forward and right… right down the embankment! It was probably 20 feet down a very vertical slope, with lots of prickly little bushes and scrub grass and a barbed wire fence at the bottom. And the dogs were still strapped in!

    I yelled something over the headset - I can't even remember what - and Kay dashed toward the bike. I remember thinking by the time he reached the bike that the momentum was too great and there was no way his body weight would stop that massive thing from going down the embankment, but Kay had a stroke of brilliance - instead of grabbing the bike and trying to dig in his heels to keep it from going over, he grabbed the handlebars and turned the front wheel back uphill. The bike skidded to a stop a few feet away, on the edge of the embankment at a very unpleasant angle but still upright and thankfully, blessedly stopped. The dogs seemed unaware of their averted brush with disaster.

    This all happened in just a few seconds, during which I put the kickstand down on the F650 and had dismounted and was dashing toward the Ural myself. I grabbed the little bar above the fender behind the seat, although I dunno what I thought my body weight was going to do if the thing decided to take a header - and tried to steady it while Kay hopped on and invoked 2WD in the gravel, loose dirt and scrub brush to get the thing back up onto the road. It was our first time using 2WD, but it worked like a charm! (Although it was a little difficult to disengage it when we were done.)

    *Kay's Note:* The 2WD did *not* want to engage. You have to get the gears in just the right position to make it slip in, and it was not there. Eventually, I was able to move it enough in 1WD to get it to let me push it in, with some elbow-grease. As for my "brilliance", my first thought was actually more along the lines of "Where's the brake on this side?! I'll stomp on it! Where is it?!?!? Fuck! Turn the Handlebars." There is, of course, no brake on the left side of a motorcycle.

    Phew. That little adrenaline blast saw us quite a way down the road. I just kept thinking about what a disaster that could have been - I dunno how we would have gotten the Ural up the embankment again if it had gone down, although it probably would have involved a tow truck or potentially even a wrecker - and no idea what would have happened to the dogs if they went down with it. I think it would have rolled down, gathering speed as it went, and tangled abruptly with the fence when it hit the bottom, which probably would have involved stopping with sudden force… the dogs may have been fine, but they may not have been.

    Either way, I was just really, really grateful for Kay's quick reflexes and quicker thinking that saved the day. Otherwise, what had started out as a very pleasant day could have turned ugly very fast. If I'd been the one closest to the Ural, I don't know that I would have had the presence of mind to turn the front tire uphill. I probably would have just grabbed it and tried to stop it with brute force, which wouldn't have worked… so I'm glad it was him.

    So public service announcement, Ural owners: if you're ever parked anywhere remotely near a hill, use the parking brake! Even if it seems stable when you walk away from it! Oy.

    Eventually, the adrenaline rush faded and I was able to go back to appreciating the scenery, and being thankful that I could share it with someone I love and our dogs. We're really lucky to be able to travel like this, and that near brush with disaster just reminded me of exactly how much so.

    The rest of the day passed rather uneventfully, although it was still quite beautiful. We made it to Steamboat Springs and had lunch - an assortment of sliders - on the patio so the dogs could hang out with us instead of waiting in the Ural. Then it was back on the bikes and heading south again back to the campsite. It almost rained on us when we were sitting on the patio at the restaurant - we were watching the sky and refrained from ordering more food or dessert because it was starting to sprinkle - so when we headed out this time, we donned our rain gear again and closed up the sidecar so the dogs wouldn't get wet. Which was definitely called for on this occasion, as we got poured on when we headed south out of Steamboat Springs.

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    Rain in the distance by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    For the first time I can remember, my helmet visor got really obscured; I kept swiping fingers across it to try to clear some of the water but it didn't seem to help. At one point my visibility was complete and utter crap, and I could barely see the road and the turns. I tried flipping up my visor but the rain stung on my face and made me close my eyes, which didn't help… so it was back to partially-obscured visor. I just kept following Kay's taillight and was riding more by feel than by sight, but eventually we made it into a heavier rain that for some reason helped to clear my visor, a bit, and I could see again.

    *Kay's Note:* For reasons I can't explain, I was having no visibility problems. There was plenty of rain on my visor, but I was still seeing fine. Not sure what the difference was.

    We rode in the rain for probably 20 minutes or so, but then came out of it and managed to skirt cells all the way home. We saw rain all around us - at one point there was rain in front and rain off to the left and there was a little spot of light in between them where there wasn't any rain, shining down on the mountains like a spotlight. It was truly spectacular. As we were nearing Kremmling again, we got to watch an awe-inspiring electrical storm off to the right that was slowly moving across our path. I've never seen anything quite so impressive as this electrical storm that was moving across the mountains, and I grew up in the midwest - I've seen plenty of good storms. There was frequent cloud-to-ground lightning, and the clouds were dark, ominous masses, but the light was absolutely amazing and the color was just fabulous. We kinda wanted to stop and set up with the good camera so we could watch it roll in, but we were both tired and just wanted to get back to camp… and tiredness won out. But it's right up there with the storm we encountered in Bolivia on our way to La Paz. Maybe it's something about the altitude that makes these storms so spectacular? I dunno, but I'd love to see it again.

    Luckily, our path continued to go right between the cells. We unloaded the dogs and hustled them into the tent and started charging our headsets right as the rain struck camp. And it rained. And rained some more. And kept right on raining. We made it over to the shelter where the rest of the crew was trickling in after their respective rides and dinners, and traded stories and BSed. A couple more guys showed up in the midst of the rain - I felt bad for them until I found out they'd gotten a hotel in town. With a shower. And a place to hang up their wet stuff. Bastards.

    Had another enjoyable evening hanging out with the crew, although the rain prevented us from seeking dinner, and the tiredness sent us to bed before 10PM. I got up at some point to make a visit to the pit toilet in what felt like the middle of the night, and some of the guys were still going strong. I'm sorry I missed out on the time to hang, but we were exhausted. It was time to pass out.
    #41
  2. masukomi

    masukomi Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    215
    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    The original plan was to leave Lake Granby, and the rest of the F650.com folks on Sunday, but then we realized that we’d set ourselves up to do 420 miles to the next campsite, just around the corner from Mt. Rushmore.

    On the F650s, without dogs, that wouldn’t be a problem, but the Ural is still being inconsistent, and generally tops out aroud sixty even when it’s running well. The dogs slow things down even more.

    But, we really didn’t want to leave the guys. We’d barely had any time to hang out, and last night’s hanging had been cut short by the rain and chill wind. We rode into town to have breakfast with the guys at the same spot we’d enjoyed yesterday, and the final decision was made on the way back from breakfast when the Ural wouldn’t exceed 50MPH. (We also heard from several of the guys that they were heading out today, so it would be a diminished crew around the campfire tonight… at least we weren’t the only people who would be cutting out early.)

    We hung out for a while, as our rain-fly dried, listening to Ike’s tales, until most everyone has suited up for the day’s rides. We packed at a leisurely pace, said goodbye to the last two, then set out for gas, where we met four more of the band, said more goodbyes, and hit the road to Wyoming.

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    Dachary was a little saddened that we’d had to skip another day of riding for nothing more than the pleasure of it, but the route she’d picked was part of one she’d wanted to do anyway, and it did not disappoint. Maybe half an hour into it I spotted an odd sign on the side of the road: large, green, and pointed towards the side instread of oncoming traffic. What was it?

    OMG. I didn’t realize we were crossing it. I called for Dachary to stop. Pictures must be taken.

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    For the most-part, we simply enjoyed riding. No highways, and the Ural decided to hit 70MPH on the straightaway. Dachary checked for a tail-wind, but no, it was all Ural goodness.

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    Wyoming surprised us both. My impression, from my last time through, was of a state mostly covered by wide, mostly flat, grassy plains. I was sorely mistaken; different from Colorado, Wyoming presented us with beautiful hills, rolling terrain, and goregeous vistas.

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    [Dachary’s note]At a gas stop around 3PM, I observed that we should probably have lunch as it was about that time, and I don’t function well when not fed regularly. We asked a local at the gas station who was checking out the Ural where was a good place to eat, and he sent us down the road to a local inn and restaurant. “Just look for the logs.”

    The logs turned out to be beautiful wood beams and majestic wood pillars, and the ambiance of the inside of the place was just excellent. The light was great and it felt dark, comfortable and inviting after the bright, hot outdoors. The waitress was nice, and when Kay asked what she recommended, we both got dishes she listed. Kay’s was a steak sandwich with a “cowboy steak” on it - and the steak was delicious. Beautifully cooked and seasoned. The fries were kinda lame, though, but in the end he took the steak off the bread and just ate it by itself. He said it felt like sacrilege to eat it on the bread. I got their country fried steak (called chicken fried steak in other parts of the country, apparently) and was less impressed. But we both still really liked the spot. Score for a local recommendation![End Dachary’s Note]

    As we were suiting back up a bicyclist we’d passed earlier came through town with a grin the size of Texas. He just pedaled through, looking around and smiling at everything.

    At the end of the day we had a little beautiful drama… would we beat the rain?

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    We decided that, being so far behind in our posts, it was best to stop a little early and just grab a hotel with plugs, and Wi-Fi, then spend some time typing, and uploading. We hadn’t accounted for Frontier Days in Cheyenne. When we pulled into the first hotel a group of Harley riders let us know that it was full before I opened the door, and warned us to steer clear of the Wyoming Inn, which had rooms, but they were “gross”.

    A helpful lady at the Best Western down the road had just been on the phone with all the local hotels and knew them all to be full except for maybe the All American Inn (back by the first hotel) but its prior owners had a bad reputation, and she warned me to look at the room before taking it.

    The All American did have a room, and it wasn’t spectacular, but it didn’t smell weird to my nose, and had a clean bathroom. The door was a bit… sketchy, but we’d already spent 45 minutes hunting hotels at this point and neither of us wanted to drive the 50 miles to the next town.

    Unpacked and inside, Dachary, feeling very gross from days without showers, decided to shower twice while I walked to the nearby Arby’s. We ate, had a somewhat stressy discussion regarding the state of the laundry machines, got that going, and sat down to work. It was nearly 10PM at this point, and while we really wanted sleep, and Dachary looked like she was going to fall over at any minute, we set about our jobs.

    Our business cards don’t say “Professional Adventurers” for nothing. We really do want to turn this into our full-time gig, and that means not getting behind in the writing.

    We both fought with the crappy net connection, Dachary, being a professional writer, set herself on autopilot while I fought with the iPad’s inability to keep up with the hundreds of images we’d taken over the past few days (there are so many we don’t upload). Skip Duplicates on import from cameras had utterly failed, leaving triplacates in places, iPhoto can’t correctly handle the rotation from the Photos app, the photos app has crap tools for organizing albums, no ability to flag photos, and iPhoto can only save edited photos to the “Camera Roll”, and only one at a time, with a complete reload of the entire library after each one.

    When all was said and done I’d had to do a magic dance and pray to the gods of interconnectivity to get my messages through. I placed the holy tablet down, and hoped that by morning the 15 photos I’d selected, and tweaked, would have successfully uploaded. It was around 11:30PM, and I was still 2 days behind in images processing, but at least I’d gotten the photo library more organized, and backed it up to the laptop, where I could more quickly prep the next day’s batch.

    All day we’d both had happy thoughts about getting clean and making love, but now we were both exhausted, and Dachary was sound asleep. It was a kind-of sad ending to a beautiful day’s ride.
    #42
  3. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Boston
    I should have gotten that Diet Coke. As I sit here typing today's report, I'm longing for that Diet Coke. I'm dreaming of its sweet not-sugary goodness and blessed carbonation bubbling down my throat. But no. I walked away without getting it.

    Let me backtrack to this morning.

    We woke up in the sketchy motel, and I was happy to discover I seemed to be free of the little red bites that indicate bedbugs. (Don't ask me how I know what bedbug bites look like. I live in a big city. 'Nuff said.)

    Got packed up at a fairly leisurely pace as we didn't have too many miles to make today - only 220 miles to Mount Rushmore and our campground as we'd cut the distance in half by leaving early yesterday afternoon. I'd spotted a diner just across the street from the motel where we stayed, and asked Kay if he'd prefer to take time out to have a diner breakfast or just grab some food at a gas stop. He professed to be quite hungry, so diner breakfast was elected.

    Parking lot was full. That's typically a good sign. Unfortunately, the food didn't live up to the hype. Eggs so undercooked that I didn't dare eat them for fear of making myself ill, and a steak so full of grizzle and fat that I couldn't carve off more than an ounce or two. I ate every bite of the limp, lame, under-seasoned home fries just because I was hungry and it was the only thing left on my plate. Even the sausage that we took out to the dogs gave Bandido the runs later. Not the breakfast of champions.

    *Kay's note:* My French Toast was chewy around the edges, the Bacon was overcooked, but tasty in bits, and the waitress had suggested that the French Toast was one of the more popular items on the menu. I fear the rest. My egg, however, was sufficiently cooked.

    I asked Kay to check tire pressures while I ran to the bathroom at the gas station next door, and he discovered that the front tire was low on the F650. We've got an electric Cycle Pump at the bottom of one of the panniers, and a hand pump (the one that came with it) in the trunk of the Ural. Kay had opted for the hand pump, which I discovered when I returned to the bikes to find everything dismantled. While he had it all out, I grabbed the socket set and checked the final drive fluid on the Ural, as it hadn't been puking out final drive fluid in the past couple of days (since ascending the mountains in Colorado.) It was close to the low line so I topped it up. We lubed the chain on the F650 while we were at it. What started out as a brief gas stop before hitting the road turned into a 20-30 minute stop while we did some basic stuff to the bikes and added water to our Camelbaks. We also used the Gaffer's Tape to compensate for a piece of rubber that had fallen off of our door somewhere, and the remaining metal l-bracket had been doing its best to remove all the paint from the edge of the Ural.

    We finally hit the road at 9:30, which still wasn't a bad time as we had a short riding day today. I was struck again by how pretty this part of Wyoming is. Kay had told me Wyoming is flat and boring, but I don't know where he was, because this is just beautiful. An amazingly varied landscape that had us climbing and descending roughly 2,000 feet throughout the day.

    At one point, I noticed we were turning off onto a scenic "Oregon Trail Byway." I got a big kick out of that. One of the first computer games I'd played as a kid was in junior high when they had Oregon Trail on old Apple IIE computers. It was almost all text based and kinda boring. I've played various iterations of the game since then, mostly out of nostalgia. I even have an Oregon Trail game on my iPhone.

    Driving through the actual landscape, I was struck by the amazing spirit that the brave souls who undertook this crossing must have possessed. To cross this vast landscape with nothing but a couple of oxen and a wagon cart, even as part of a caravan, must have prevented grave hardship. Even knowing the basics of how the Trail worked, I was still struck by the difficulty of carrying sufficient food and water, and all the supplies you'd need for 4 to 6 months of basically crawling across this country. We carry a fair amount on our motorcycles, but we're never far from food or fuel or water, so we don't carry nearly the supplies that the settlers would need. And of course, we can cover far more ground on our bikes - even the Ural - than those explorers and settlers would have been able to cover. We cross in a day what probably would have taken a week (or several) for them to cross - assuming nothing went wrong. It's truly humbling to contemplate it, when we have everything so easy today.

    So when we saw a sign for Oregon Trail Wagon Ruts, I was intrigued. I was struck with a fancy to see something that these settlers had left behind, and to better imagine the journey they must have undertook. When we rolled into town and I saw an arrow pointing right, I asked Kay to turn at the last minute. He obliged. We went a mile or two down…

    And saw some bucks grazing in a National Guard Armory parking lot and front yard along the way…

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    Wyoming wildlife by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    And then made it to the wagon ruts.

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    Oregon Trail Wagon Ruts by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

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    Oregon Trail Wagon Ruts by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

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    Oregon Trail Wagon Ruts by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    Frankly, there wasn't a ton to see. It was a nice little site with a pathway that wound up to the wagon ruts carved into the sandstone above the parking lot, with some informational placards along the way the talked about the journey when undertaking the Trail, the role of the military in guarding and protecting the settlers, and things you generally don't think about. The placards were interesting and gave me more food for thought, and the ruts themselves were impressive, but smaller (narrower) than I had expected. Without context, they were kinda meaningless. But I'm still glad we stopped. It's a piece of American History from an era that has lingered at the back of my imagination for decades, and it's nice to be able to sort of watch living history come to life. It's a lot more meaningful than staring at words in a textbook, or even playing a simulated computer game that encompasses the experience.

    *Kay's note:* The pictures aren't inspiring, but their meaning is. Sandstone isn't particularly hard, but it would take a lot of effort to dig ruts four feet deep through it simply by pulling a wagon over it. How many wagons were there? What kind of inner strength, hope, and faith, must it have taken to set out on a journey like that?

    Back on the road and more beautiful Wyoming landscape. I was enjoying the state highway, even if the speed was 55-65 MPH most of the time - it still feels a lot more intimate than an interstate. By the time our next gas stop rolled around, though, Kay was getting tired and having trouble staying awake. He asked for a break so we could drink something caffeinated. While we were gassing up, I saw a van full of young kids (who were just thrilled to see our dogs in a sidecar) eating some ice cream, so I decided that sounded good. It was already around 92 degrees and something cold would hit the spot. So we had ice cream and caffeinated beverages whilst sitting in the shade, to refresh us for the next leg.

    More riding. More beautiful landscape. Toward the end of this leg, we found ourselves fighting a gusty headwind. Stravinsky had been running pretty well today, without the niggling inconsistencies we've been seeing - regularly holding 60-65 MPH, and even holding 60MPH up a grade that would otherwise have knocked hi back to 48-50MPH on a "bad performance" stretch. When we hit the headwind, we found ourselves maxing out at around 55MPH, but it was a relief to have a reason for it this time. We didn't really mind.

    *Kay's Note:* it should be noted that the gas cap was screwed on tight, and there was a tank bag on it. I think the gas-cap-venting theory is pretty well shot at this point.

    I consulted the GPS as we were nearing the next town on the map - gas here, but none for the next 23 miles. We probably could have made it, but with the uncertain gas mileage and with fighting a headwind, Kay didn't want to risk it, so we stopped for gas again. And grabbed some gas station sandwiches and sodas for lunch. Along with a road atlas, because we're kinda sick of relying on the GPS and not really knowing where we're going. We used a combination of map and GPS to navigate on the Americas trip, and that worked really well for us, so we thought it was time to go back to that for this trip.

    Back on the road again after this gas stop, and we were getting close to Mount Rushmore - our destination for the day! It was looking like we'd probably hit there around 3-ish, so I decided we should see it today instead of in the morning so we could get an early start heading over toward the Badlands. It's supposed to be over 100 degrees tomorrow in the Badlands, which means we wanted to get started early and get the bulk of our sightseeing done before it got too hot.

    Made it to Mount Rushmore, where Ben tried climbing out of the sidecar into Kay's lap when we got to the parking gate. He'd never done that before. The leashes are tied into the sidecar in such a manner as to try to keep the dogs from climbing out the outside of the sidecar - there's more slack inside so they could probably actually climb out inside and get themselves wedged between the chair and the bike, which would be very bad with hot pipes and a hot engine. Kay shoved Ben back into the sidecar, but I could tell he was stressed and it made me stressed to think he might try to climb out again, or might somehow wiggle out of his harness and run off and get lost so far from home.

    We found pretty much an ideal parking spot in the corner of the structure where we could park with the dogs to the wall, and the F650 between the dogs and the wall, thus discouraging people from coming around to see the dogs. We took off our hot jackets and grabbed our Camelbaks and cameras and headed toward the monument. As we were walking off, 'dido started to jump out the side of the sidecar and got himself wedged halfway over the door. There wasn't enough leash for him to get all the way out, but it was enough that I was worried he could hurt himself or somehow wiggle out of his harness and go running around. Kay ran back and scolded him and shoved him back inside the sidecar again, and we walked halfway across the parking structure, out of site, and waited a few minutes. Kay went back to check on the dogs. Bandido looked over at him, but they had calmed down and both seemed content to sit in the sidecar, waiting for us. But I'd never seen both of them so determined to get out before, so I was stressed about something happening to them while we were gone.

    Off to the stairs, where I discovered that my sore left calf was agony when trying to climb up stairs. Ow. Ow. Ow. Made me far less inclined to want to do any walking around, unsurprisingly. By the time we got to the top of the stairs and into the monument proper, the sun was blinding me - I had to squint just to see anything - my leg was in agony and I was completely stressed about something happening to the dogs while we were off playing tourist.

    I took one look at the presidential heads and was… underwhelmed.

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    Tourists at Mount Rushmore by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

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    That's it? Really? by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

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    Mount Rushmore by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    All of the pictures you see of Mount Rushmore? Those look a lot more cool than the actual monument itself. They're smaller than you expect when you see it in person, and while it is cool to think of the work that went into carving them… meh. We've seen a lot of cool ruins throughout Latin America, and even the wagon ruts we'd seen earlier captured my imagination more than these giant busts carved into the side of a mountain. I didn't feel the patriotism I think I was supposed to feel. I just felt… underwhelmed. I was hot and blind and worried and in pain and I had no inclination to walk around this contrived monument composed of some giant sculptures. I'd far prefer to get back to the bikes and the dogs, find some dinner and set up camp for the night before the rain rolled in.

    Kay was very good about the fact that I stayed less than 5 minutes, and didn't want to take the little walk around the monument. He'd gone to see it before on his US Tour in 2008, and he had pictures from all of the interesting angles, so we had mostly gone so I could see it.

    I came. I saw. I left.

    *Kay's Note:* I was really hoping she'd want to walk around. I totally agree that the heads are sadly unimpressive in person, but I think they deserve some serious respect, and… I dunno, walking the path around them, and learning more about them… It makes them a little more… something. They're still unimpressive, but...

    Back at the bikes, I was relieved to find the dogs calmly lying in the sidecar waiting for us. They'd chilled out when they realized they weren't getting a walk right away. We loaded up and ran into Keystone, which is only a couple of miles from Mount Rushmore, and stopped at the first touristy mall we saw to grab some food at one of the restaurants. Ate outside at a picnic table and shared some food with the beasts, and I pondered getting a Diet Coke for the road before we headed back to the campground just 2 miles from Mount Rushmore to set up camp. Kay said he's good with water, so I opted to skip the Diet Coke.

    Now I regret it. I'm sitting here typing after a brief romp around the lake with the dogs, and I *really* want that Diet Coke. But not enough to suit up and ride the 5 miles into town to grab it, and the 5 miles back to drink it.

    Today's lesson?

    If you want a damn Diet Coke, get a damn Diet Coke.

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    Camping at Horse Thief Lake Campground by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

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    Our view from camp by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

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    Running after Ben by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

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    Horse Thief Lake by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    (Camp is nice, though!)
    #43
  4. masukomi

    masukomi Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    215
    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    The Badlands awaited us, along with the burning sun. Determined to avoid her killing rays, we got up at five… much to the annoyance of the tent dweller in the next space, I’m sure.

    On the road at 6:30 through the touristy town of Keystone. No breakfast for us, as everything was still closed. In addition to being a day of miles, today would be a day of oil changing, and we had no oil, and no oil pan. A Walmart was needed. Fortunately Dachary spotted one not far out of Keystone. “It’s probably closed.” we thought, but as we rounded the curve we saw a bunch of cars out front. What we didn’t see until later was the row of porta-potties, the craft paper behind each window, or the construction workers out front… back on the road.

    Just outside the Badlands we came to the town of Scenic, which was recently up for sale at the low, low price of $799,000. The last time I came through Scenic the doors were not boarded over, there were a couple cars in driveways (of which there are only a handful), and general signs of life, if not actual people. Now, it’s a ghost-town in the making. Kind-of sad really.

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    We pulled over because we weren’t sure we’d make it to the next gas station without adding in the spare gas. We decided there was no way we could make it if we took the scenic route (Scenic, the town, deserves its name in much the same way Greenland does) through the Badlands, so instead we took the main road to Interior (the town, and presumably the location). We passed through the entirely disappointing five foot section of Badlands National Park that intersects with that road, and spent the next few miles rather depressed. I had really wanted Dachary to see the “real” Badlands; the incredible weathered formations that, as far as I know, exist nowhere else in the United States.

    The GPS claimed we had to get to the next major town to find gas, but Interior surprised us with a gas-station still sporting old-school analog-dial pumps, which I got a great kick out of. We even got to pump first, and then pay. Crazy Talk!

    They had some pre-made sandwiches inside, and with this unexpected turn of events we decided to sit down, and see if we could make it back through one of the “real” parts of the Badlands before heading off towards… wherever again.

    First though, we had to address the Hornet situation. One on Dachary’s windshield, one on the Ural’s spare tire, and one on the F650. I found a discarded broom head in a nearby pile of… debris? Discarded metal things?… and set to work.

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    After breakfast, and more Hornet visits, we set off for a slight backtrack through the northern section of the Badlands National Park. This section, being more than five feet long, required a $10, per bike, entrance fee. In the end we both agreed that it was a far better value than the $11 Mt. Rushmore parking fee.

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    Many photos were taken, and along the way we briefly met Malangi who was spending a month on his own Corporate Runaway and riding from New Jersey to Oregon… the lucky bastard.

    At our first encounter I just asked where he was from and going as we made our way back to the bikes. The dogs were getting some strong sun at this point and we didn’t want to leave them there without wind for more than a few minutes, but as we rode off I regretted not offering to take his picture. We never get pictures of ourselves together, and when you’re riding alone you never get pictures of yourself, just the things you see. Road construction would set things right. A line of parked cars, behind a man with a stop-sign, waiting for a pilot vehicle, gave me my chance. I grabbed my big camera, hopped off the bike, ran back the few car lengths to where he was waiting, snapped a few shots, yelled our domain at him (we were both wearing helmets and earplugs) and told him to e-mail us for the pic.

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    A couple scenic outlooks later and we met again, this time face to face, well… his face to my helmeted one.

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    As we left the Badlands National Park the billboards for Wall Drug started up again in earnest this time. We’d been seeing them, probably since Wyoming, if not farther, and by the time we came to Wall SD, we had no choice but to go in. We were compelled. We couldn’t say no.

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    We found a parking spot, and got the dogs out of the tub. I found a bit of shade against a wall and squatted over a little mound of sand to pour out some water for the dogs before we explored. “There are ants by your feet.”, Dachary said, “In fact, you’re standing on an ant-hill.”

    I wasn’t just standing on an ant-hill. I was standing on a fire-ant hill. I quickly moved, pulled the dogs with me, and stomped my feet a lot, hoping none had tried to climb my boots. A little ways down the way we stopped again and gave the very parched beasts some water, but then Dido started chewing at his foot. This in-of-itself is not unusual. Dogs get itches, and chew on bits to address them, but he wasn’t stopping. He kept going at it, with somewhat increasing vigor.

    I told him to stop, grabbed his foot, and looked, sure enough, there was a little fire ant in between his toes doing its best to bite off ’Dido’s foot. I pulled it out with my fingers, and hurled it away before it could get me too. The damage was already done, and now ’Dido was limping on both back legs (his left one is permanently damaged from a car in Puerto Rico). There wasn’t much we could do though. It’d be hurting him if we left him in the tub and he’d get sun-stroke, better to limp some more.

    Wall Drug isn’t so much a store as it is a mini-themed tourist town, but it does it so obviously, and with such self-humor that you just don’t mind.

    When we got to the main(ish) entrance Dachary suggested that she’d stay outside with the beasts while I went in and checked it out, but “Excuse me mam…” a man had overheard us from a bench and informed us that dogs were allowed in the main part, just not the part farther down where they served food. Whoot!

    In we went, and subjected Ben to about 15 minutes of sheer terror, or… at least a good deal of stress. The problem was that we had to pee, and peeing takes time. Meanwhile there were people everywhere, and noises, and more people, and lights, and and and and… Ben spent the first half huddled against Dachary, and the second half huddled against me. Dido spent both halves chewing on his foot in a vain attempt to address the pain of the bite. For being stressed and in pain they both did exceptionally well.

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    (there were more people there when we had the beasts in there)

    Meanwhile, we saw the most awesome music-machine ever. We had it play a song from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and then then the Imperial March from Star Wars, because it was too awesome to pass up and Ben wasn’t going to get any more stressed than he already was.

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    The moment we got up to leave Ben was pulling us to the exit. Once outside we went and found the food part, where Dachary went in to inspect the “homemade” donuts that the billboards promised us, and get us some drinks. I sat with Ben’s head poking up between my legs while ’Dido sat under the bench, chilled, and occasionally chewed on his foot.

    The donuts weren’t bad.

    We saw a Harley Davidson store on the way in and decided to swing by on the way out to grab oil. I walked in the front door and stared in disbelief. T-shirts, hats, vests, doo-dads, doo-hickeys, leathers, and all sorts of assorted other things with Harley Davidson on them, but not a single thing that you could actually use to fix, maintain, or improve an actual Harley Davidson Motorcycle. There was, however, a Harley in the window, which is apparently their rightful place…. either there or being trailered to Sturgis. Later in the day I saw a number of flatbed Tractor-Trailers with ten, or more, Harley’s strapped on the back headed for Sturgis. Wouldn’t want to ride them there, that would be silly.

    Oil-less, and back in the bikes, we passed a Napa Auto Parts store before leaving town. They had oil, but not an oil pan. I’m not sure what it is but this is the second auto-parts store we’ve stopped in that has not had an oil-pan with a cover. How do people get their used oil to a recycling place without a cover? What do they put it in? I don’t get it.

    Gassed, up, and back on the… er wait… no “Problem… I need to pull over” So, we did. Found some shade along side of a two story chochky store where Dachary removed her helmet and informed me that the clutch wasn’t engaging properly. The cable adjuster had come loose. Silly us for lubing the thing as instructed by the service manual. The lube made the locking finger-nut-thing come undone too easily.

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    Adjusted, and on the highway the Ural had no power even though it had been pulling great all morning. The clutch must not be fully disengaging now. Pull off at a… pull-off thing (not quite a rest area), adjust, test, pull back on the highway… still no power.

    Eventually, we realized that Dachary was encountering what I had encountered on it the day before. Severe Headwind. Apparently when you encounter a severe headwind in the Ural, while sporting a windshield, the Ural ceases to be capable of doing anything more than 50Mph. No joke. The exact same thing happened to me yesterday but it just seemed sensible to me because of how hard I could feel it fighting just to go forwards.

    Soon thereafter an hour of our day literally disappeared. It was 2PM, and then it was 3PM. No minutes transpired between the two. This could really add up if we went Eastward around the world. Good thing we’re heading Westward. :)

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    After a while we approached Al’s Oasis, we didn’t particularly want to attend another tourist trap, which judging by the billboards it surely would be, but it did promise food, and we’d already had one gas-station meal today.

    Just before we pulled off the highway, my new headset died. I tried restarting it and it complained about low battery, let me get a couple words to Dachary and shut off again.

    We found shade for the dogs, parked the bikes so as to make it damn hard for anyone to attempt to pet them, watered and walked them, and set them back in the tub. They didn’t really want to go and we couldn’t blame them. The past few hours had been hot and tiring for everyone involved.

    Inside though, we found air-conditioning, and surprisingly good food. Dachary got a Prime Rib, I got a Bacon Cheeseburger, and we both got the salad bar, which was worth every penny. It wasn’t a particularly notable salad-bar. It was just exactly what our bodies needed. I was… exhausted.

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    During dinner I grumbled quite a bit about the Ural’s excessive maintenance schedule. Oil changes (and other maintenance) must be performed every 2,500 kilometers, or roughly 1,500 miles, which for us is every five days. EVERY FIVE DAYS. Now, the service manager at Ural of New England had mentioned this to us, but he also is the type of person who really can’t get his head around serious travel on the scale that we do it. He thinks that going to Colorado is a big trip. So, to him 2,500 Km involves quite a bit of time.

    I thought he must be mistaken, either that or he just wanted to get people into his shop more often. Most people barely ride their Urals (or motorcycles) so 2,500 km is probably once or twice a year for them. Back at home Dachary had done the research and confirmed that yes, the maintenance schedule is… well, let’s just say “high”. I had either forgotten this, or chosen to not believe it. Today it hit home hard. How the hell are we going to go around the world in a vehicle that requires this kind of maintenance? I think we are literally going to have to pack an entire pannier of Ural oil filters because you can’t buy them anywhere. Either that or pay crazy money to have them shipped to us along the way.

    I was not a happy camper… Dachary just kept repeating “we knew what we were getting into”. Well, she did at least. I think she’s right about me living in denial.
    #44
  5. el' hefe

    el' hefe Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    306
    Location:
    Seattle, Wa
    Sounds like your trip is working as intended. It is better to figure out the maintanence items are an issue now, than finding out once you are in a third world country, right?

    You have a couple of lucky dogs!
    #45
  6. pyoungbl

    pyoungbl Colonel Blood

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,044
    Location:
    Portsmouth, Virginia
    Dachary, I'm enjoying your thread...always entertaining! The Ural 1500 mile oil change interval has me wondering if the reasoning is due to the oil breaking down because the engine is so stressed, or if the factory assumed that there would be lots of swarf in the oil that the filter would be overwhelmed. We can all remember when 'everyone' recommended 3000 mile oil changes in cars, which has been shown to be bogus with new engines and oils. I'd recommend that you take an oil sample and have it analyzed. That will tell you if the stuff you are throwing away is still good. Blackstone Labs will send you a free kit for drawing the sample. http://www.blackstone-labs.com/free-test-kits.php and it's only $25 for the analysis. Another thought is to mount an external oil filter. Summit Racing offers a bunch of kits to install a remote filter. There are two advantages with the remote filter: cooler oil since you can put the filter out in the air flow; greater selection of filters.
    #46
  7. Renegade_Azzy

    Renegade_Azzy Kamen Rider

    Joined:
    May 17, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,097
    Location:
    SW PA
    I think you need to hit up blackstone and these guys.. http://www.kandpengineering.com/

    Get the straight dope on what is happening to your oil, and get a filter you can rinse off. Something else that looks promising is this oil cooler kit :http://uralnwco.ipower.com/store/page8.html

    Oil coolers would help the life of the oil, and probably get you a few more miles between changes. i would trust it only after a second blackstone analysis.
    #47
  8. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Boston
    Just a quick note re: the oil and maintenance intervals - I think it's both: to prevent/deal with swarf, and because the oil is breaking down. We've been using high-quality Red Line oil in the Ural until the 7,500KM service when we just grabbed whatever we could find that was the right weight. But even Red Line visually appears to have been breaking down pretty good - far more than our F650s after a longer interval. And the Ural is notorious for producing a lot of swarf, although the folks on Soviet Steeds mostly seem to claim that after around 10,000kms the swarf pretty much drops off. We have seen a decrease in swarf from change to change, so that seems reasonable.

    As far as the maintenance intervals go - it's been suggested to us on SS that Ural may have revised the service intervals for newer models. My owner's manual with service record doesn't reflect that, though. :/ Ultimately, we're reluctant to do anything to the Ural that could potentially void the warranty. One of the reasons we bought a new bike was so that we could have the 2-year, unlimited mileage warranty. So we've been meticulous about the service intervals and completing all of the items so we don't risk voiding our warranty. I'm reluctant to install an oil cooler for the same reason - dunno if it would violate the warranty, and even if I could get longer maintenance intervals safely with an oil analysis, I might be violating the warranty... so I need to talk to IMWA and figure out what the official take is.

    And Renegade_Azzy - my understanding is that no-one makes a reusable oil filter for the Ural. It's an odd shape/size and we're not thrilled about that. We've had reusable filters in our F650s since before the Americas trip - we'd do it in a heartbeat for the Ural if we could find one. May talk to IMWA about that, too, when we're ready for our next big trip.
    #48
  9. masukomi

    masukomi Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    215
    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    We were too tired to do the service last night, and also way too far behind in the posts. We opted for the less physically taxing task of choosing and uploading images, writing the final day’s post, and putting images into old posts. It took a while, but finally, finally we were caught up.

    Dachary set the alarm for seven, we got dressed, and headed down to do the 7,500 km service. Dachary left me alone for a few minutes which resulted in three quarts of oil going in instead of two. I thought it needed three and a bit, not two and a bit. Already overheated and hungry she was less than thrilled. I got back under the bike and started draining. Eventually, we got the right amount.

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    We’d also been keeping an eye on the pusher tire’s tread, and decided to wait until this change to swap it for the spare. We could rotate the tires every 1,500km but to do so on the road is somewhat masochistic. As you can see from the pic, it was definitely time. Yeah, there’s still tread on it, but running a bald pusher tire in the rain seems a bad idea. We’ll keep it as the spare until the end of the trip.

    When we pulled the spare off the back we got an unexpected surprise: rust. Brand new wheel, never used, already rusty. They come with a little plastic rim around the rusty edge to keep it undamaged because that’s where the brake shoes are about to rub, but…

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    Just as a tally that’s rust in the splines on one of the rear wheels (I forget which), the front bearings (still need to replace those when we get back), and the spare tire, and the steering damper rod. There’s also rust developing on top of the headlight, and the sidecar bumper bar thing. For $14,000 I expect zero rust for quite some time, and definitely not at the first service.

    After we put on the spare tire Dachary grabbed the tire pump that came with it, and it self-destructed. This, sadly, had been predicted by the Soviet Steeds. It’s apparently just what they do. We, of course, had our trusty Cycle Pump with us. We love that thing. It’s standard procedure for us to carry the Cycle Pump and a manual backup. The Ural pump was the manual backup.

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    Service finished, we headed back inside for the continental breakfast (pretty decent, but all carbs), and Dachary took another quick shower just because she could.

    Everything packed up to load on the bikes, riding pants on, and I am walking around the room yawning. So tired. It was to be an omen.

    Packed, loaded, dogs in tub, off to Wallmart again to hand over the used oil. Thankfully, they could take the container too. Most auto-parts shops are only allowed to take the oil.

    It was 11:10 when we were finally gassed up and on the road. Within an hour I was staring lustfully at the billboards advertising hotel rooms with air-conditioning and beds. Not ten minutes later Dachary mentioned over the headsets how she was having the same thoughts. Towards the end of the first tank I was having trouble staying awake. I called for a slightly early rest-stop and lunch so that I didn’t drive off the road into a field.

    We found a Subways with some shade (it’s scary how few places have any shade) and each got a foot-long sub to split. We’ve been consuming a ton of calories and I think we’re both running at a deficit despite this. I was so tired I could only eat half of one. I just didn’t have the energy to keep eating.

    Usually when I’m tired, getting off the bike and walking around for a minute will revive me pretty quickly. This time I got off the bike, sat down in the bathroom and thought “oooh, I could rest here”, which is, of course, a bad sign.

    On the road Ben, who is normally strapped in the back, managed to somehow get himself curled up into the nose, after spending about 20 minutes acting as a hassock for ’Dido’s butt. I couldn’t really see the details, but over the headsets Dachary and I thought maybe the knot shortening his leash from the trunk had come undone. Seemed implausible but what else could it be? I took a picture to examine later.

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    It’s a little hard to tell if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but the harness under Ben’s head is not attached to him anymore. He’s also pulled the Camelback out of the nose to make more space for himself, and apparently to use as a pillow.

    The problem was discovered before we got a chance to examine them though. Somehow Ben had gotten out of his harness. Unfortunately he’s right between sizes. Bandido’s seemed like it might be too tight for him at its full expansion, so we got the next size up, and tightened it as much as possible. We like these harnesses, but there’s not enough overlap between sizes I think. Ben probably turned, pulled against the leash and backed out of it.

    But, before we made it to the next rest stop and discovered that, I was calling over the headset for Dachary to start talking to me. It is the only think that will keep me awake when I’m very tired. It’s pretty difficult to start talking to someone on demand, but she stepped up and started streaming out whatever popped into her head. It worked and I made it to the next rest stop without falling asleep.

    Drinking caffeinated sodas in the shade of a tree near the next gas station, Dachary was yawning, and we half-jokingly talked about just getting a hotel now, and going to bed. Pretty soon we were calling the hotel on the far side of the gas station to see if they took dogs.

    I don’t think we’ll be able to make up the missed miles in time to keep going through Canada on the way back, but we had to stop. Dachary never talks about being sleepy this early in the day, and I had no confidence I wouldn’t be falling asleep again after another 20 minutes on the road.

    Canada be damned. We got a room.

    It smells weird here, but we didn’t care.

    When we rode from Boston to Ushuaia it took us four months, and we felt we were pushing ourselves, and we definitely had to skip things for lack of time. Dachary did the numbers while riding today and realized that if we had done that trip, at the pace of this one we would have finished it in two months.

    We’ve been on the road for thirteen days now without a break, pushing hard, mostly on boring interstates (gotta make the miles) with temperatures from 89–110°F everywhere except those few days in Colorado. We’ve gotten up early to beat the heat and we haven’t had time to open our kindle’s once.

    One of the things we loved about the last trip was that we had time to relax at the end of each day. We’d still write the big posts, but we’d watch an episode of something we’d downloaded on the iPad, or read something on our Kindles. This trip it’s ride, sleep, ride, sleep.

    The goal of this was, of course, to have a good test trip. As someone has mentioned, this has excelled at that. We’ve learned a lot about riding with the Ural, riding with dogs, and what makes a good sidecar cover. We’ve also learned about riding in crazy heat day in and day out. Chilean desert? No problem. Day after day of midwest heat with no rest? Problem.

    We came in, tested the bedsprings, took a shower, and curled up for a nap with the dogs. Still tired, we got up, and had dinner next-door. We both ordered the Steak and Ribs plate with Lyonnaise Au gratin. I was handed a medium steak and small ribs. Dachary, a medium ribs and small steak. Our Lyonnaise Au Gratin, which we’d both been looking forward to looked suspiciously like a pile of hash brows on cheese sauce. As hash browns are an option on the menu I asked the waitress what the difference was between hash browns and Lyonnaise. According to her Lyonnaise is “hash brows with onion”. I refrained from correcting her. The ribs were cooked to perfection, but I couldn’t actually taste them because of all barbecue sauce. The steak was medium, instead of medium rare, and frankly the most uninspired steak I’d had in a long time. I attempted to channel the flavor of the one at the River Rock back in Walden through force of memory, but failed. The Caesar Salad was lacking flavor, the bread was horrid, and at the end of it all we were both a bit hungry still but I really didn’t want to give them any more of my money.

    Yes, we both ate a serving of ribs and steak and salad, and still wanted more. Riding in this heat burns a ton of calories.

    Back in the room, we are looking forward to watching an episode of World’s Toughest Fixes on the iPad, one last dog walk, and lots of sleep, now that I have finished this post. Goodnight folks.

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    #49
  10. masukomi

    masukomi Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    215
    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    We got up at 6:00 AM. I walked the dogs in the light of a beautiful sunrise.

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    Despite our attempts at efficiency it was still an hour before we were on the road.

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    The weather was cool, and it wasn’t long before we had a hundred miles under our belt. Along the way we sat for a few minutes waiting for a pilot vehicle at the end of more road construction. Dachary had an interesting discussion with the woman and discovered that she’d been there since about 5AM and would be standing out in the sun until 8PM. Talk about a long day!

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    At our first fill-up I asked some locals who served good breakfast around there. They both agreed that Bump’s was the place. They were spot-on. Nothing fancy, just delicious American-style breakfast. My “Everything Omelette” was filled with flavor, as was Dachary’s serving of “Bump’s Skillet”.

    We had to move fast afterwards though. Dark skies were brewing behind us and heading in the same direction we were. Dachary tried to capture it over her shoulder, but what looks like blue skies in this pic, is actually the dark underside of the storm-front trying to catch us.

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    The next fill-up was supposed to be a gas and go, but I was falling asleep and needed caffeine. Dachary wasn’t thrilled, but she values my safety more than our schedule, which is one of the reasons I love her. While in there I finally found another pair of sunglasses that fit over my normal glasses to replace the broken flip-up ones.

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    They’d do any cop proud I think.

    Walked and watered the dogs, consumed our caffeine, and back on the road. Towards the end of this tank I was getting tired, but able to hold it together.

    Dachary’s Note: We stopped for gas opportunistically because I wasn’t sure when the next gas would be or how the Ural was doing on gas mileage, and it seemed like a good time to grab lunch, too. I went in and scouted, and told Kay that there was “food ready to go” if he wanted to go grab something nommy. He came out with a sandwich from Subway, which neither of us actually likes and which we accidentally had for lunch yesterday, too… I was a bit surprised.

    When it was my turn to go in for lunch noms, I grabbed a “ready to go” pizza and cheesey bread thing, plus some Wisconsin cheese because HELLO! We’re in Wisconsin! Cheese is their thing! Came back out and Kay was all “I didn’t see food ready to go… I missed it entirely.” My food was better. Most of Kay’s sandwich went to the dogs. On top of a fair amount of Kay’s breakfast, plus the side order of sausage we got just for them today. And some Wisconsin cheese. The dogs are having a very tasty day. End Dachary’s Note

    The next tank I did pretty well through, but Dachary really started to fade hard at the end.

    It was 4:00 PM. We’d been on the road since 7:00 AM, and I declared that as much as we both wanted to camp there was no way she was going to make it 70 miles to the campground. “Executive decision.” I invoked. Before I looked stuff up I ran in to the gas station to pee, came out, and she had leaned forwards, her helmet peak resting on her tank bag, sound asleep. I woke her, grabbed my phone and stared looking for hotels. She went in to grab caffeine and something to snack on and ordered me to stretch the beast’s legs. So I did. Best not to argue with a sleepy girl.

    She declared she didn’t want “another crappy hotel” after I’d called three local ones, and (slightly revived) insisted on going to the campground. She can be stubborn when tired.

    I watched her carefully as we pulled onto the highway. Her head was sagging to the side, and she wasn’t holding the line as straight as usual. Fortunately her better sense kicked in and she followed the GPS to the nearest hotel we’d looked up (which was only one exit up the road). I went in, and checked the room out (she doesn’t trust the cheap hotels anymore), then booked it. By the time I was done she was sound asleep on the tank bag again. Honestly, I would have taken it in just about any condition short of cockroaches and horrid smells, but it’s not bad. Smells of old smoke covered by Fabreeze-ish stuff but I’ve come to the conclusion that if a state has allowed smoking in hotel rooms at any point in the past decade they will smell of cigarettes regardless of any claims regarding “non-smoking”. It’s just a question of how old the cigarettes are.

    Walked her into the room, grabbed stuff from the bikes, and found her flopped with our support crew.

    [​IMG]

    We’ve made up some of yesterday’s lost miles, and if nothing else, we’ll get some rest tonight. Tomorrow, Canada. Last night we realized that it was just as far to go through Canada as back down and under the Great Lakes. We’ve both done the latter, and agree that it’s lame. This part of Canada may not be great, but it’ll at least be different, and cooler.

    Dachary’s Note The Ural was running in tip-top shape today. It was kinda shocking. I had power… UPHILL! I passed people! Multiple people! Sometimes on a two-lane state highway! And once… UPHILL! I dunno what’s changed, but this is the Ural we briefly glimpsed in New York/Pennsylvania. Every time we filled up, I was afraid the magic fu would somehow go away… but it lasted all day. Consistently 55–65MPH with power to spare, and very occasionally even up to 72MPH when I wasn’t paying attention and rolled on too much throttle. I think Stravinsky deserves a commendation today.
    #50
  11. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Boston
    I woke up before the alarm went off and went ahead and turned it off. Hit the bathroom and started doing my morning stuff, and the next thing I know it's 6:30AM and Kay still isn't awake. I woke him up, and we were still on the road by 7:15. Which just goes to show - Kay can sleep in an extra half hour and it doesn't make any difference in the time it takes to get on the road. Our baseline is an hour when we're in a hotel. I feel like we ought to be able to improve that, but we don't really dawdle…

    By 8:15, I spotted gas and wanted to grab it opportunistically for the Ural, because I wasn't sure where the next gas would be. Things are a bit more spread out in this part of Wisconsin. Gas stop was right next to a McDonalds, and I was FRIGGIN hungry, so I suggested to Kay that we grab breakfast even though we hadn't been on the road too long. I wanted noms, and didn't want gas station food. Discovered, to my dismay, that their credit card machine was down and I had no cash on me, so I had to wait for Kay to get back from acquiring water for our Camelbaks to ask him to use his cash to acquire breakfast for us. Dogs got some noms - we got them an Egg McMuffin, and Kay keeps forgetting how much he hates tearing apart the ham in those sandwiches. It seems to not tear as easily as sausage. Maybe next time he'll remember.

    Back on the road by 8:45, and by 10:15 it was time for another gas stop. I was feeling anxious about the number of miles we needed to cover, but Kay was really dragging, so we had to stop long enough for him to grab some caffeine. It couldn't be helped. Safety is paramount.

    Sometime just after this gas and caffeine stop, we hit the edge of Lake Michigan and drove along the Upper Peninsula along the lake. It kept flashing itself and then disappearing behind trees and buildings for quite a while. I'd heard from a lot of people how beautiful the Upper Peninsula is, but the part we were driving was just kinda… meh. But it was better than driving through the midwest again.

    [​IMG]
    Lake Michigan by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Dachary in Mirror by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    At around 11:30, we passed a sign saying that we were entering the Eastern Time Zone… and there went an hour, *poof* gone. It was 12:30, just like that. I really started feeling a time crunch after this.

    Shortly after 1, we stopped for gas again and grabbed lunch at Wendy's. Again, I could have waited, but I wasn't sure what we'd see down the road, and I've gotten really tired of gas station sandwiches. Grabbed lunch and had our usual UDF, which slowed us down getting back on the road again, so it was around 2 by the time we got back out. I just felt like we weren't getting *anywhere* today with all of these breaks, and how long each break takes… it felt like as soon as we got started, we were stopping again. I do miss that about being on *just* the F650s. We could run around 150 miles before we had to start thinking about gas, which meant far fewer gas stops and far fewer breaks/delays in our day.

    Not too long after getting back on the road, we started driving toward a really black cloud. We'd been flirting with rain off and on all day, but had never gotten more than a few sprinkles. I felt confident that this was gonna pour, though. I called out to Kay, who was in the lead on the Ural, that I needed to pull over and stow my phone in a dry bag so it wouldn't get wet. We both took the opportunity to put our rain covers on our tank bags, and we rolled down the outside of the cover on the sidecar but left the inside open so the dogs could still get some fresh air. We were already quite warm, so neither of us bothered to put on our rain gear - we were thinking it would be better to get a little wet from a refreshing summer shower than to get all hot and sweaty in our rain gear.

    [​IMG]
    Searching by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    That turned out to be a mistake.

    Within a few minutes of rolling out again, we hit the edge of the storm. And pretty quickly after that, the rain was coming down HARD. And then there was hail. The guy in front of Kay kept slowing down unexpectedly (I imagine due to poor visibility) but he didn't have his headlights or taillights on, and wasn't using his brakes, so Kay had to keep braking because suddenly he'd be on top of the guy in front of him.

    Kay's note: most of the time I wasn't that hard on top of him, but the visibility was crap and he kept slowing down unexpectedly, and forcing me to do the same. It was quite helpful to be able to call back to Dachary that I was about to be slowing.

    8 minute after rolling into the storm (I looked at the clock), I could feel water running down my shins into my boots. My glorious, wonderful waterproof boots. They're only waterproof when the rest of you isn't sopping wet. Because I didn't bother to put my rain gear on, the water just ran right down my legs to pool in my boots. Literally. When I got off the bike later, my feet were "squish squish"ing every time I took a step, or shifted a gear. It was really unpleasant.

    Meanwhile, Kay was complaining about the stinging from the rain and the hail. But his gear is heavier than mine. So every little pinprick of rain and hail sting he felt, I felt a lot more. And it really didn't feel too bad to me. So I thought he was being a little whiny - I was enjoying the cooling rain, even if I was sopping wet. It reminded me of when I was younger and used to go walking in the rain just because I could. It's kinda invigorating.

    Kay's note: she's right. I was being whiny. ;)

    Of course, it stops feeling that way after about 15 to 20 minutes. Then you just start getting cold. Especially when you're driving along at 60MPH and you've got wind and cool air rushing over your sopping wet self. By the time we stopped for gas again, both of us were goose-pimpley and unhappy.

    How did the dogs fare with the inside of the sidecar cover rolled up? We'd been through a light rain before like that and it wasn't a problem. The dogs didn't even get wet. But in this epic storm? Kay said afterward that it looked like "the side of Ben's leg is wet." When we stopped for gas, I noticed water dripping from what looked like the sidecar. It was clearly time to investigate. We pulled over to the side of the parking lot and coaxed the dogs from the sidecar to discover a wet, sopping mess. The top of the cushion had a small puddle of water on it. When Kay pulled the cushion and the stuff out of the nose, we found a lot of standing water in the bottom of the tub. It was trying to drain out the hole where the people seat metal thinger attaches, and we've also discovered that the weld in the underside of the nose is not complete as there were a couple of spots where water was dripping from the weld.

    In other words, it was pretty wet.

    Ben was pretty wet, but Bandido, who had been in the nose, was mostly dry. Luckily, it was in the mid to high 80s, so being wet wasn't a problem for the dogs, and he dried pretty quickly.

    Kay's note: This was one of the reasons we were willing to try leaving it up. We had to know what the real-world-effect would be but we also believed that if they did get wet it would be for a short time and they'd be able to dry out, and warm up, quickly afterwards.

    I ran into the gas station to grab some paper towels to begin to sop up the mess before putting things back together, and Kay tried pushing the water toward the hole in the bottom of the tub to get some of it to drain. A few minutes and a few sopping paper towels later, the sidecar was dry again (and some of the dead bugs, dog fur and accumulated dirt of two weeks of dog travel had been cleared out) and we were ready to hit the road again. Kay and I were still pretty wet and not looking forward to riding that way, but I still maintained that I'd rather be wet than hot.

    The rest of the day's riding was pretty uneventful. We didn't run into any more rain. Eventually we did run into a bit of a headwind, which slowed us down to 50-55MPH, but we were nearing the Canadian border and we weren't going too far after we crossed.

    The GPS directed us flawlessly to the border crossing at Sault Ste. Marie, but even if it hadn't, there were plenty of huge signs. There was a moment of confusion as the woman at the toll booth (the bridge from the US to Canada is a toll bridge) thought the sidecar axle was in the middle of the vehicle instead of aligned with the back motorcycle wheel and thus was going to throw her sensor off, but we sorted it out and got through. Right as my headset died. We'd been on the road for almost 12 hours at that point, and apparently my battery was unhappy.

    Got to the border with Kay in front on the Ural with the dogs, and the border guy asked a few perfunctory questions. "Where do you live? Where are you going? How long are you going to be in Canada?" Kay asked if he needed to see the dog's paperwork, but he didn't care at all - he just waved him through. My questions were even more perfunctory. It was nothing like the Canadian border crossing I remember when I went up in 2005. It seemed like at this border, anyway, they just wanted to pass people through as quickly as possible.

    [​IMG]
    Looking back at the USA and Dachary by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Welcome to Canada by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    On the other side, our first order of business was finding Canadian cash. We've learned the hard way on our Americas trip how many fees you have to pay for international transactions, so our strategy was just to pull out the cash we'd need in one lump sum and then use cash for everything while we were in Canada. The welcome center didn't have an ATM, but the helpful lady inside directed Kay to the casino next door, where he grabbed some cash and then we headed out to our campground for the night.

    I had found us Glenwood Cottages, just 8 miles from the border, where we secured a tent spot and Kay worked on setting up camp while I literally dumped water from my boots and lamented my poor pruney feet. As soon as Kay had the tent set up, I was inside - too many mosquitos. I had taken for granted not having to really deal with bugs in Colorado, and the mosquitos hadn't been too bad the couple of other times we've camped on this trip, so it sorta caught me off guard but I DEETed the heck out of myself and then dived in the tent because the Canadian mosquitos didn't seem to care about the DEET too much. I left poor Kay to deal with cooking us dinner on the camp stove while I set up our bed, the dog bed and organized the piles of gear in the tent.

    It was kinda nice to be camping in Canada and not have Internet access to distract us. I talked Kay into putting off writing the post for the day, as we wouldn't be able to post it till we got back to the US anyway, so we just chilled and watched an episode of World's Toughest Fixes on the iPad. It's only the second time we've watched 45 minutes of TV on this entire trip. But we'd gotten into camp so late, and finished dealing with food so late, that it was around 10:30 by the time we finished. That's a bit late for the 5-6AM wake up calls we've been doing lately, so we set the alarm for 7.

    The campground itself was decent, but it was close to a major road which meant a ton of traffic noise. Unfortunately, this was to be a harbinger for the night to come.
    #51
  12. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Boston
    Quick note, all: we made it home this afternoon, right on schedule! Been relaxing a bit and crunching numbers (gas mileage is an interesting one - worst of the trip for the Ural is 17-something and best is 25.86) but we'll get the last few days posted hopefully tomorrow, as well as some follow-up thoughts and responses to questions/replies.
    #52
  13. charliemike

    charliemike wannabe Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    105
    Location:
    atlanta, GA
    Ouch...Ive got an older dodge dakota with a v6 that gets similar if not better mileage...:eek1

    Very cool trip report though! Thanks for taking us along.

    How did the dogs like / do on the long trip?
    #53
  14. roscoau

    roscoau Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    669
    Location:
    Pambula, NSW
    I was good to read of your trip, but things will be much better when you get the tuning sorted out. To show what you could be getting here are my fuel usage since Nov '09.

    http://rosco.id.au/uralfuel.pdf
    #54
  15. ST RIDER

    ST RIDER Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2006
    Oddometer:
    13
    As usual you two did a great ride report. Sorry we missed each other in Colorado. Vern
    #55
  16. Merlin III

    Merlin III Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,814
    Location:
    Maine
    That is decent mileage for a sidecar rig I would think. Why the new engine after 1 year?
    #56
  17. roscoau

    roscoau Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    Oddometer:
    669
    Location:
    Pambula, NSW
    At the 5000km oil change (the bike at the time was running fine) when I took the engine drain plug out there was a piece of bearing cage sitting on it. The bike went back and bearings replaced but as they were reassembling they noted a tiny hairline crack in the case on one of the bolt holes. They said it looked like it might never be a problem but they wanted to replace the case to be on the safe side.

    A couple of weeks later I called and it was ready to go - but getting a new crankcase had been going to take too long so they just put a whole new engine in.

    With the benefit of hindsight I can see this engine ran better than the original ever did and with 26,000km on the clock now I wouldn't hesitate to take it around the country tomorrow. I've never seen a company take a negative and turn it into a positive experience like these guys did.
    #57
  18. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Boston
    When the alarm went off at 7AM, Kay and I both groaned. Neither of us had slept particularly well, and his back was already hurting. Not a good way to start the day. I decided that I felt gross and wanted to shower before we headed out, and I needed to wash some socks and underwear anyway, so we headed out for a quick morning walk with the dogs and I was going to shower. Alas, my shower with clothes washing took FAR longer than I had anticipated, and when I got back to our campsite, I found that Kay had already taken everything out of the tent and disassembled it. Unfortunately, this meant that I had zero shelter from the mosquitos. I jumped back and forth from task to task frantically, without really finishing things, because the mosquitos were driving me to distraction and I just wanted to be *gone* before they could get more of me.

    Because of my shower and laundry-washing delay, we didn't get on the road for nearly 2 hours after we woke up, and I decided that since we were in Canada, Kay needed to experience the awesomosity that is Tim Hortons. Consulted the GPS for "points of interest" - found a Tims and headed off. We each had a nommy breakfast sammich, and a pastry, and I had a tasty mocha latte to start my day. So at least there was that. (Although, to be honest, since the last time I had Tim's it isn't as tasty as I remember it. I've encountered too many delicious bakeries in the intervening years and now Tim Hortons has gone from being the bomb diggety to… meh. They still have great variety, and we don't really have a "fast food" chain like it in the US - except that we do have some Tim's here in some parts of the country - but it's not as deliciously awesome as I remember it being. I think Kay was a little underwhelmed after all of the praise I heaped on it.)

    Back on the road, and I'm pleased to report that the riding wasn't as boring as I remembered Ontario being, either. The last time I was in Ontario, I was driving across the top of the great lakes toward Montreal, and I remember it being rather boring. It was largely flat and empty and devoid of interesting stuff. But maybe I was sleep deprived on that trip (I did it in one push without stopping in something like 20 hours in a car) or maybe I just took a different route, because this Ontario was a different beast entirely. It was quite pretty, in fact. We passed endless lakes, forests, hilly bits and just very pleasant scenery. I'm happy to report that my memory of Ontario was about as representative of Kay's memory of Wyoming, which is to say not at all - we were both pleasantly surprised that our memories lied when it came to these places. (These pics don't really do it justice, but it's all we have from the day.)

    [​IMG]
    Dachary by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    [​IMG]
    Quick Stop by CorporateRunaways, on Flickr

    Not a whole lot to report during the afternoon. I was cold all day, but I kept not putting on another layer underneath my jacket because every time we stopped, the ambient air temperature felt quite warm. But whenever we started again, we were going fast enough that I was quite chilly. Like goose-pimply chilly. I don't know if it was remnants from being rained on the day before, or the fact that my body was finally succumbing to the long days and the tough pace, but I was starting to feel unwell.

    By the time we stopped for gas and some noms around 3:30PM, I was feeling downright sick. I felt flushed and cold at the same time, and Kay says I didn't look good. We had fish and chips at a restaurant at our gas stop - and poutine, because HELLO! When in Canada, have poutine! But all the greasy gross food weighed heavily on my poor unwell self, and I started feeling nauseous and gross as we headed out after our late lunch stop. We were back on the road at around 4:30 with still far too much ground to cover.

    Our next gas stop was at around 6pm. I still wasn't feeling well - felt like I was coming down with something plus just exhausted from our long days in the past few weeks - and we still had around 75 kms to cover. At the pace we were going, it would take probably an hour to an hour and a half. And we were off interstate at that point, so the roads were prettier but they were hilly and curvy and it required a lot of energy to muscle the Ural through the turns. My poor exhausted body wasn't up for much more of this. We had conveniently stopped for gas RIGHT NEXT to a campground, so we inquired about getting a spot for the night but they were full up. And they told us about something important that we had completely missed - it was a long weekend in Ontario. They said that ALL the campsites in this part of the country were likely to be full up.

    I looked at Kay. I told him that I wasn't confident that the "close" campsite I had found was actually a public tenting site - it might be some sort of summer camp type of camp. The one that was definitely a public type campground was over 100 kms away, which I was skeptical of us reaching before dark and even if we could I wasn't sure I was capable of driving the Ural that far. But I didn't see that we had a choice, so we hit the road again.

    About 20 kilometers down the road, we rolled into Bracebridge. I had been watching the road signage as we'd ended up on a short stretch of interstate again, and I pulled off when I saw a sign for gas, food and hotels. I led us into a Home Depot parking lot, and told Kay that I was totally wiped out, not sure about the campsite and that I'd need him to drive the Ural the rest of the way if we wanted to try to get out there because I couldn't drive it anymore. I was too exhausted and feeling too unwell.

    Apparently I looked it, too, because he immediately said "I saw a sign for a hotel. Let's check it out." I really didn't want to spend the money on yet another hotel, and I had enjoyed camping last night so I was looking forward to camping again, but I also wasn't in a position to argue, and I was skeptical about our ability to find a campsite since it was a holiday weekend. So we went to the nearby Travelodge, where Kay inquired whether they were dog friendly (yes) and about their rates ($130 Canadian - more than we'd paid for any hotel on the entire trip, including in downtown Denver). In spite of the high rate, Kay suggested that we take it. By that point, I just wanted to pass out, so I put up a perfunctory objection but was secretly hoping he'd override it so I could feel better about the cost. He did, so we got the room and pulled around to unload.

    It was actually a fairly nice motel, as they go. It was all ground floor rooms that open onto a parking lot that wraps around the building, so we were able to park right in front of our room and easily unload into our open door. There was a sliding glass door out the back of our room onto a courtyard type thing with plenty of shade, which was a great place to walk the dogs, and there was a pool that we totally didn't take advantage of, but sounded great if I'd been feeling better. Kay made sure I was safely ensconced and then went out to find cash (as we'd used the last of our Canadian money on the hotel room and still had another day in Canada to finance) and food. It turns out that the town was ALSO having a street fair, so he had a heck of a time getting to the ATM to pick up cash, and the restaurant we'd chosen for him to acquire takeout for dinner for us was packed to the gills so there was little chance of getting food. He came back empty-handed (but with a full wallet) and we ended up ordering delivery from a pizza place just because we were both too tired to deal at that point. Another $55 Canadian.

    This was an expensive evening. But I pretty much ate and then passed out in air-conditioned splendor, thanking my lucky stars for a hotel. And I did get a good night of sleep this time.

    Kay's note: Dachary spent much of the day frustrated by how behind schedule we were, and how many miles we still had to cover. She was determined to get me back home on Sunday so that I wouldn't have to call in and ask for yet another day off of work. The end result was that when I initially pointed out the beauty of what we were passing through she reluctantly grunted in agreement, but had trouble enjoying it. Let this be a lesson to you folks. The worst thing your adventure can have is a deadline. Ugh.

    With regards to the hotel, health and safety are my number one priority when riding. Take breaks when you need them, and pay money when you need to to compensate for the body's limitations. It sucked to spend that much on a hotel for only one night, but I didn't hesitate to pay it, or regret a penny of it. She needed it, so I got it.
    #58
  19. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Boston
    Sorry we missed you, too, Vern! I keep meaning to call you, but I got your VM on a day when we had no cell signal - I just saw it show up magically at the end of a day - and we had spotty signal when we were in CO so I didn't get a chance to get ahold of you. We would have loved to catch up. When we get our RTW ready to head out, we won't be on such a deadline and we'll definitely swing by to say hi :)
    #59
  20. Dachary

    Dachary Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Boston
    Dogs did great! They loved it - it got to the point that when we were packing up in the morning, the dogs would hop up into the sidecar unprompted (often before we were ready for them to get in) because they were ready to go. The only time they didn't seem to want to hop back in were a couple of times on the long mileage/really hot days when they just wanted to chill, I think - even though the cover kept the sidecar quite a comfortable temperature, and the Frogg Toggs chilly pad kept them cool to the touch - they just wanted to not be driving. But after a night's rest, they were right back ready to get on the bike the next morning. The smaller one, Bandido, especially seems to love it - he's constantly sticking his head out. He particularly seemed to enjoy the Rockies, the Badlands and Canada. Ben, on the other hand, tends to curl up when we're going more than about 30 MPH and nap. But if we're going under 30, he pops up to look around, too.

    Kay's working on a more in-depth writeup of the gear and how the trip went, which we'll probably be ready to post later in the week as we're still playing catch-up on the last few days of the RR, and also on sleep now that we're home.

    Which reminds me... :snore :snore :snore
    #60