The "American Tragedy" Tour...Dr. Greg & Wotan head East

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Dr. Greg, Jul 8, 2014.

  1. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    The "American Tragedy Tour"---Dr. Greg & Wotan go EAST again...

    This is a "preface" to a trip on which I'll be leaving Wednesday morning, July 9. I've been vacillating whether to write a "live" Ride Report or not...I guess we'll both find out.


    American Tragedy? Huh!?

    Well, this trip is due to an AUDIOBOOK that I downloaded and listened to early this spring (also have since read the book and several other books about the tragedy). The book in question was a 1925 classic written by Theodore Dreiser called An American Tragedy. The book is kind of a "historical fiction" account of the tragic Murder of Grace Brown, which gripped the entire USA during the fall of 1906.

    The "Grace Brown" story takes place in central New York state, as well as in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, specifically Big Moose Lake. From the moment that I became acquainted with this story, I knew I had to visit that country.


    So where am I gonna stay?

    Mrs. Greg & I are members of this "timeshare" outfit, but I couldn't find any lodging in the Adirondack area (too many rich NYers beat me)...however I DID obtain a week at a resort in the Green Mountains of Vermont. It's not too far over to the Adirondacks, so I expect to take a couple "day rides" over and check out Big Moose Lake, etc.


    So what am I gonna ride?

    Glad you asked. After nearly KILLING MYSELF on a patch of hoarfrost on my 2010 Ducati Multistrada 1200S, I needed something a little milder, especially at age 66. I always thought I needed a GS, but I'd test-ridden 2008 and 2010 GS's, and didn't really like them all that much. Then I made the "mistake" of test-riding a new 2013 GSW, and that was that. Isn't he (Wotan) pretty?...
    [​IMG]

    Isn't Wotan a gorgeous bike?

    For what it's worth, the above pic was taken near Taos, New Mexico. With just about 18,000 miles on Wotan (it woulda been more, but I've been sick this spring) he continues to impress me. What a bike!!


    So what am I gonna take with me?

    I don't travel particularly LIGHT. I plan to stay with a few ADV inmates, plus the odd motel, but I also plan to camp. So I've gotta take everything. The pic below shows everything (except clothes) spread out on my (beautiful epoxy) garage floor:
    [​IMG]

    Dr. Greg doesn't travel particularly light...

    And all that stuff fits on the BMW R1200GSW...easy-peasy, as shown below:
    [​IMG]

    Loaded bike...ready to leave Wednesday morning.


    Even got a new camera!

    Three days before I was gonna leave, my trusty Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS8 decided to go belly-up. Now the thing I like about the Lumix is that I can work it with gloves on, thereby permitting some "in the saddle" shots (Mrs. Greg does not approve, but indulges me). Couldn't get a direct replacement, but upgraded slightly to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS35. Gotta transfer pics from camera to iPad using WiFi (I prefer a cable, being an old guy), and it's got a pushbutton "on/off" (instead of the easier slide switch). Hopefully it'll work. Here's my one attempt from "in the saddle" yesterday:
    [​IMG]

    New camera test picture...I guess it's good enough.

    BTW, the above pic is heading W on I-40 approaching Albuquerque, NM via Tijeras Canyon. Nothin' special about the view, it's just my "test pic"...


    Caveat Lector---"let the reader beware"...

    I'm takin' this little iPad Mini with me, plus an external keyboard. My eyes (and fingers) aren't the best anymore, and I don't honestly know if I'll be up for updating this RR each day. So things might get kinda slow every so often. But I'll do the best that I can.


    My Expected Route.

    First of all: NO INTERSTATES! Well, except I-25 from Albuquerque to Springer, NM. After that secondary roads all the way. My general itinerary will be: NM - northern OK - southern MO - northern KY - southern OH/northern WV - diagonally thru PA and NY to Vermont. Yeah, it's gonna be hot and humid, especially in the well-worn Klim Latitude suit that I always wear (gear has saved my life in 2003, 2008, and 2010). I'd be dead 3X over if I didn't wear all that stuff...


    Finally -- in Praise of NATUROPATHS.

    I alluded to the fact earlier that I had been sick this spring. From mid-May to late June I was the vicitm of ACUTE ABDOMINAL PAIN!! Had every test done: ultrasound, blood tests, EGD (upper endoscopy - camera down into the stomach), abdominal CT scan, etc. The docs couldn't find a thing, except they eliminated the bad stuff (e.g. stomach cancer). They finally gave up on me. A friend of Mrs. Greg's said "hey, I know this NATUROPATH..." Yeah, a quack. But I went to him, and he checked my body resistance with his snake-oil machine (I'm an engineer, so I'm suspicious of all these gadgets), and pronounced it a KIDNEY INFECTION and gave me three "elixirs." But danged if I didn't start feeling better FAST. Go figure. Had to cancel the mid-June RawHyde course, but by gosh I'm goin' on this "American Tragedy" trip!! Yowza!


    End of the Beginning...

    So thanks in advance for following along. Like I said, "caveat lector." I'll do the best job I can on this RR.

    --Doc
    #1
  2. Sharkguy

    Sharkguy chain lube applier

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    Looking forward to it Dr. Greg. I'm in.
    #2
  3. panhead_dan

    panhead_dan motorcycle addict

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    Subscribed.
    Thanks for the heads up on this over at the BWB, Doc.
    #3
  4. phaneuf

    phaneuf Adventurer

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    DR Greg,
    I have been following your posts and motorcycle adventures with your ULY till now. Have a great trip. When in the Dacks keep going west down BIG Moose rd to Still water and No4 road into Lowville.

    If you have the time whats is the background for the new bikes name?
    #4
  5. SoPaRider

    SoPaRider Been here awhile

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    :lurk Oh boy here we go again, we can't wait for you to hit the road tomorrow Dr. Greg, rest assured we'll be keeping an eye on you as your ridin' east and look forward to your updates along the way, remember your always welcome to drop by the "Manor" and put your feet up for a while.

    Have a safe ride,

    JC&KC
    #5
  6. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    Folks,

    Just finishing breakfast here (Mrs. Greg fixed me pancakes this morning :D) prior to the 0830 MDT departure. My goal for the first day is I-25 (yuck, but better than I-40) and US 64 to Guymon, OK. 378 miles, with a likely detour to visit Fort Union Nat'l. Monument (I dig history). Probably the longest day of my trip.

    I'll enjoy the luxury of typing this on my laptop: gonna hafta be the iPad Mini (plus external keyboard) on the road. Kind of a pain to manage photos, but I'll do it.

    Just read about the storms in central New York (5 dead, and lotsa power outages in NY/PA) with some trepidation. Oh well, it's gonna be a week+ till I'm thru there.

    Thanks for the good wishes, see ya along the road :clap

    --Doc

    P.S. A German bike owned by a Richard Wagner fan...what other name than "Wotan" :evil
    #6
  7. JaxObsessed

    JaxObsessed Endeavor to persevere.

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    In, Dr Greg!!!!! Looking fwd to another adventure through your eyes and mind. :thumb
    #7
  8. adventurebound9517

    adventurebound9517 Been here awhile

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    I followed your trip back home to So. Cal. and I'll be riding along in spirit with you again. Ride safe and I hope the weather is good for you. BTW, how is MRS. Gregg getting to Vermont? Is she riding along?
    Phillip
    #8
  9. Hoppalong

    Hoppalong Adventurer

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    I'm looking forward to following along, Dr. Greg.

    Have fun!
    #9
  10. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    At last, the "American Tragedy" begins...

    Y'know, it seemed like this trip was the hardest one to start (for me). Just kept thinking of excuses why I shouldn't go. Kinda hoped my stomach would start acting up (it didn't). So at last I rolled Wotan out of the garage and got ready...
    [​IMG]

    Ready to go!

    I had lost 15 lbs during my illness, and only gained 2 lb back, so I weighed in at a svelte 145 lb. That's actually a good weight for me, but I didn't really want to get to it THAT way...


    Getting I-25 out of the way...

    I mentioned that I was going to avoid the interstates, but leaving Albuquerque, NM there is really no way to avoid them. To get to the Oklahoma panhandle (Guymon), one can either take I-25 or I-40. And I-25 has superior scenery (as you'll see shortly).

    But before getting into this region, one must first go thru Santa Fe. As I crested the southern rim of the "basin" that contains Santa Fe, I snapped the pic below:
    [​IMG]

    Santa Fe, New Mexico is down in there...

    When I was preparing to take the Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering position at The University of New Mexico in 1976 (in Albuquerque), a friend said "too bad it isn't in Santa Fe." I didn't appreciate it at the time, but I'm sure glad it wasn't. Santa Fe is just too "artsy" for me. I'm a blue-collar, down-home dumb (well...) engineer, and I fit in Albuquerque much better. Just had to say that.

    Now...once out of Santa Fe, I-25 rounds the southern portion of the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) mountains, and the scenery is rather pretty. Well, it's a LOT better than the high desert of I-40. See?
    [​IMG]

    Some pretty southern Rocky Mtn. country along I-25...

    BTW, the annual "monsoon" season has finally arrived in New Mexico (a few days ago), and the countryside is already noticeably greener. We get about 7 inches of rain a year, all in a period of about three weeks (well, seems like it).


    First fuel stop in Las Vegas, New Mexico.

    After something like 120 miles, I get tired. After all, I'm almost 67 years young. So it was time for a fuel stop...at Las Vegas, NM (I've heard there's another Las Vegas somewhere...) I'm sure you're all interested in "bike at gas station" pics like these (hey, there was a long thread about that a while back).
    [​IMG]

    Wotan getting some nourishment...

    BTW, I'm carrying about 90 lbs of luggage (including weight of cases), and on Mrs. Greg's advice I left the suspenion set on "rider only." At my weight of 145 lb (of course that's w/o riding gear) + 90 lb of luggage = 235 lbs. And a lot of guys weigh that much just themselves. And I could get my feet flat on the ground!! The GSW seems to handle just fine at that setting; of course I haven't gone over any curves yet. We'll see.

    The pic below shows the high plains north of Las Vegas, NM. This is sort of the "eastern approach" to the southern Rockies. Elevation is 6,000-7,000 feet. Dry and cool...the temp at mid-morning was in the low 70s. Perfect. That wouldn't last!
    [​IMG]

    The "eastern approach" to the Southern Rockies...


    Fort Union National Monument.

    Fort Union was in operation from 1851 to 1891 (was rebuilt twice), and was intended to "defend" the settlers from the predations of American Indians, etc. It also played a part in the Civil War, in which New Mexico was only marginally involved.
    [​IMG]

    Wotan at the entrance to Fort Union Nat'l. Monument.

    I very much enjoy reading about U.S history, and visiting relevant sites. I've been thru Fort Union before, but always stop when I'm in the neighborhood.

    The setup below looks a little bit like some of my old Boy Scout campsites...
    [​IMG]

    Reminds me of the Boy Scouts, but we didn't use a covered wagon.

    And they've rebuilt some of the original Fort Union buildings...

    [​IMG]

    Some of the original Fort Union buildings...and an old Texan wandering around.


    Finally get to LEAVE I-25...no more interstates!

    My route left I-25 at Springer, New Mexico (home of the state boys' reformatory, BTW). And there was a detour on US 56 to the east of Springer, and as a result I got a little lost. But...there was a silver lining, cuz I found the "DAIRY DELITE." I had despaired of finding a lunch stop in Springer (all the cafes were boarded up), but the detour routed me north by the aforementioned DD. Perfect! The place was crowded with locals, so it had to be good, right? Well, it was. A darned good burger (mediocre fries, however).
    [​IMG]

    The Dairy Delite...discovered by accident!

    Heading east on US 56 between Springer and Clayton is the "Santa Fe Trail." You've heard of that, right? And it's pretty country. Kind of rolling (just enough hills to hide some Kiowa and Comanche), with the odd shower today...
    [​IMG]

    Dr. Greg was fortunate enough to miss this shower...

    And it was GOOD to be on a 2-lane road again. Typical rural New Mexico traffic (e.g. NONE). Just the way we like it.
    [​IMG]

    Nobody around but us riders...

    My luck was still holding out, as I missed another shower. Actually, I wouldn't MIND having a little rain, since---like I said---it all happens in three weeks in New Mexico...
    [​IMG]

    I missed THIS shower, too...

    See, the weather was pretty darned nice. After all my worry about crossing the Midwest in July (OK, ok, I haven't really gotten into the Midwest yet).
    [​IMG]

    All in all, a beautiful day on the High Plains of Northeast New Mexico.

    One more pic of a shower (I know, you're getting tired of these by now, but I just LOVE the New Mexico landscapes)...
    [​IMG]

    OK, this is the FINAL shower pic...


    Crossing into Oklahoma---nothin' but CORN!

    After fueling up at Clayton, New Mexico---BTW, I was passed at fairly high speed (I cruise at 65 mph) by a young man and lady on a Harley, both attired in very "casual" clothes...I thought to myself "if I dressed like you folks, I'd be dead three times over: 2003, 2008, and 2010." I want to LIVE so I can continue riding. But hey, diff'rent strokes and all that...

    OK, where was I? Oh yeah, crossing into Oklahom it was like "night and day." All of sudden there was nothing but big crop circles of CORN! Prolly field corn for cattle feed, but corn is corn. Corn is in everything we eat, almost. What's the saying, "knee high by the 4th of July?" This corn was in pretty good shape...
    [​IMG]

    Oklahoma corn...gonna make some feedlot cattle happy.


    End of the day in Guymon, Oklahoma.

    Made it to Guymon, Oklahoma about 1830 hours (lost an hour in the time change). I was satisfied. It was 96 degrees, but didn't feel too humid, and I felt fine, KLIM gear notwithstanding. Thought I lost a photo on my camera (it's not as easy to use as my old one), but I got them all.

    Gonna rest well tonight, and no need for an early start. Gonna proceed across northern Oklahoma, dunno where I'll stop. Prolly stay in another motel; this isn't really great camping country, and it's pretty darned hot. Although I might camp. The day after (uh, that'd be Friday) I plan to ride through Picher, Oklahoma (the Superfund site). My dad was born in Carthage, Missouri, and his dad (my paternal grandfather) worked in the Eagle Picher lead & zinc mines near Picher, Oklahoma for many years. I've learned quite a bit about the environmental catastrophe that was/is Picher, and I'd like to go thru the area.

    So thanks for following along. Depending on my accommodations tomorrow night, I may not be able to update the Ride Report. But I'll catch up ASAP.

    G'night.

    --Doc
    #10
  11. jhansen

    jhansen Harley Rider

    Joined:
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    Spring, Texas
    Tagging along with Dr Greg....


    Jeff
    #11
  12. RodeoPhotog

    RodeoPhotog n00b

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    If memory serves, Picher was just about wiped out by a tornado 5-6 years ago.
    #12
  13. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    Yes. An F4 tornado came thru Picher in, um 2008 (?) Finished off what the lead and zinc hadn't.

    BTW, if anyone's interested, there was a documentary titled "Tar Creek" that I thought was quite good. Good at documenting the awful mess that Picher and the surrounding became/is.

    Can't believe my grandad and my dad avoided brain damage during their years in the lead and zinc mines. But they seemed OK.

    One of my distinct childhood memories is sitting on my grandad's knee, looking thru his scrapbook of "mine" pictures (he was a foreman)...all the Ingersoll-Rand pneumatic tools, the grim look (and the occasional smile) of the miners. Man!

    So I'd like to at least motor thru the area and take a look.

    --Doc
    #13
  14. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    Thanks for following. Mrs. Greg is ensconced in our domicile in Albuquerque, havin' fun as usual. I ride solo. I used to ride with a group, but too many egos and crashes made it not fun anymore. And I never carry a pillion.

    --Doc
    #14
  15. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    Cool. The eyes are gettin' a little dim, but the mind is still functional. Amazing, considering its heritage of lead and zinc from the Tri-State Mining Company.

    Good to have you along.

    --Doc
    #15
  16. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    Yeah, the '06 Uly was a GREAT bike...IMHO of course. Thanks for tips re the Adirondacks. Must admit they seem a long ways off (well, they are), but I'll be there eventually, if fate smiles on me :D

    --Doc
    #16
  17. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    BTW, a FIERCE thunderstorm (by appearances and on Weatherbug) came thru Boise City, Oklahoma JUST AFTER the good Doctor departed on his way to Guymon, OK.

    I kept dodging the storms all day, right to the end. Gotta be a good omen :clap

    --Doc
    #17
  18. PA RIDER

    PA RIDER Adventurer

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    I am watching your progress astride the mighty WOTAN. I don't like riding with groups either, for the very same reasons but would really enjoy being on this trip with you. My father homesteaded in Estancha, NM in 1917. My first wife and I honeymooned in Kilington, VT in 1970 so I feel somewhat connected to both ends your adventure.

    Your suite is ready if you can still stop by in PA. Looking forward to meeting you as is my wife (Mrs. Greg need not worry). We had some storm damage a few days ago in my area but no damage on Bear Mt.

    Enjoy this scenic country and that beautiful GS. I will follow your every cheeseburger.--PA RIDER
    #18
  19. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    Yeah, I wondered if you folks felt the effects of that recent storm. Hopefully it will be better when I'm there. Thanks for the kind words, and I'm slowly making progress in your direction...

    --Doc
    #19
  20. Dr. Greg

    Dr. Greg Tryin' to get home..

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    Thursday, July 10: Guymon, Oklahoma ---> Ponca City, Oklahoma

    Leaving Guymon

    Guymon, OK is about in the center of the Oklahoma Panhandle (more on that later). I headed E on US 412 and stopped 16 miles out at Hardesty, OK. Found a little "rest area" to stop at...
    [​IMG]

    Dr. Greg & Wotan at a rest stop near Hardesty, Oklahoma...

    Here's a closeup of the "monument" to Old Hardesty.
    [​IMG]

    Turns out the town was named for Col. Jack Hardesty...

    Another view of my beautiful bike in the Oklahoma Panhandle...
    [​IMG]

    Wotan looks mighty nice anywhere...


    One advantage of traveling on TWO WHEELS.

    You all know this, but in a cage one is SO isolated from the environment. On a bike, not so. Midway between Guymon and Woodward, the country began to get a few little hills. And---of course---it was another gorgeous day. See?
    [​IMG]

    A few small hills, and---more important---cooler temps!

    And---mysteriously---the temperature quickly dropped by about 10 degrees! It was about 90F, and it dropped to 80F. And on a bike you can REALLY feel that...man, it was NICE!



    Welcome to NO MAN'S LAND...

    Turns out that for a while the Oklahoma Panhandle was literally without any form of government. This monument explains it. First gotta show off Wotan again...
    [​IMG]

    Wotan in front of the "No Man's Land" Monument...

    Ok, ok, here's a closeup of the monument. Hopefully you can read it (might help to zoom in if you can); it's kinda interesting.
    [​IMG]

    The story behind "No Man's Land"...

    A GRAMMAR Lesson...

    Mrs. Wilson was my 8th grade teacher, and she drilled into us that UNIQUE means UNIQUE. One of a kind. It's nonsense to talk about "very unique" or "most unique"...so imagine my revulsion as I read this portion of the monument text:
    [​IMG]

    Mrs. Wilson would be turning over in her grave...


    The "Cherokee Strip" Museum...

    I'm a sucker for museums, so when I hit the junction at Alva, Oklahoma and saw a sign for the "Cherokee Strip" museum, I had to see it. So here it is:
    [​IMG]

    The front of the museum.

    In case you can't read the fine print, here's what it is again:
    [​IMG]

    I'll list a few photos I took inside, along with my comments.

    This looks like my old living room: piano, old radio, old TV, etc.
    [​IMG]

    Looks like Dr. Greg's old 1953 living room.

    Dunno know if these were Kiowa or Comanche, but they look relatively peaceful at this point.
    [​IMG]

    The original occupants of Oklahoma.

    This looks like it coulda been machine a "naturopath" might use...
    [​IMG]

    Yikes! What a quack could do with the "Medcolator"!

    This tonic looks like something that would do ME some good...
    [​IMG]

    And it only costs $1.25...

    Not sure I'd want to recline in this dentist's chair...
    [​IMG]

    Ouch! Dr. Feelgood is definitely NOT at this wheel...

    This looks like the typewriter I took to college with me...
    [​IMG]

    This baby predates the IBM Selectric by a bit...

    And the ol' switchboard...
    [​IMG]

    Number, please?

    And of course there's the forerunner to the iPod...complete with operator!
    [​IMG]

    What would Steve Jobs think of this?

    Here's my favorite, an old Data General machine. Any of you illiterates ever read The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder? That's Pulitzer Prize stuff. All about the development of the Data General Eclipse minicomputer. As a long-time user of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) PDP-8s and PDP-11s (and LSI-11s), this is very cool...
    [​IMG]

    An old Data General machine!!


    Still a beautiful day, and some advanced corn...

    No thunderstorms today, nowhere, nohow.
    [​IMG]

    Nothin' but gorgeous weather today.

    Finally, this corn is already tassled out. Musta been using some Gro-Rite, or whatever...
    [​IMG]

    Knee-high? This corn is neck-high...


    The wrapup.

    Well, folks, that's it for today. I'm struggling with a lousy WiFi network tonight, so writing the RR update has been a pain in the, well, neck. But I'm gonna get 'er done. Tomorrow I'm going to check out the Picher area, and see the effects of that toxic lead and zinc mining. No idea what's there. For all I know, the road thru there is closed. But I doubt it.

    As usual, thanks for following. Sorry for boring you with those museum pics, but I dig that stuff. Rest assured, there'll be more. I was kinda disappointed the Cherokee Strip museum didn't have more history, but...it was still interesting.

    --Doc
    #20