Another Rookie Went to Alaska

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by 72 Yamaha RD350, Jan 3, 2020.

  1. LeMaitre

    LeMaitre Been here awhile Supporter

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    I went north.

    1 TWC Fargo
    2 SIM Cavalier
    38 MSO Walhalla
    40 SIL Langdon
    39 NDP Nek0oma
    4 MWP Tuttle

    Saturday morning I decided to drop 41 CLS Clear Lake to make sure I had enough time for the rest bonus. That drop and one wrong answer on a bonus question kept me out of contention for first place rookie.

    -Mark
  2. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    @LeMaitre: My attitude kept me out of contention for Rookie podium finish. I'm going to run the numbers again but I suspect you made the correct decision to drop CLS. You would have been hauling the mail to have made your six locations plus CLS. Maybe it was feasible. In retrospect I think I should have ridden TWC, MWP, NDP, SIL, MSO, SIM. It will be interesting to see who ran what when they post the results.
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  3. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    With all the attitude gymnastics of the morning out of the way, I departed TWC shortly after 14:00 for bonus location SIM in Cavalier, ND. Around 16:00 as I was cruising up I-29 I had the thought that I should eat something. I stopped outside Grand Forks to gas up and picked up a packet of peanut butter & crackers. I put one of my water bottles in my front jacket pocket and the crackers in another pocket and munched while I was headed up the highway on cruise control with virtually no traffic. That was another reason for choosing to head north; I-29 takes people to Winnipeg. It turns out not a whole lot of people want to go to Winnipeg.

    I arrived in Cavalier at 17:24. In my rush to plan the route I did not work out the distances or timing between the locations - it turned out each was about 30 minutes apart. Crap! - this is going to take twice as long as I anticipated. On my way to SIM I passed what I thought was an active launch site similar to the one I passed on my way to Alaska but, regretfully, did not stop to photograph and now I can't find it on Google Earth.

    The United States developed the Nike anti-ballistic missile system in the years from 1955 through 1976 eventually changing the name several times before resting on the name, Spartan. Spartan ABM’s were three stage solid fuel Thiokol rocket motors stretching 55 feet tall and nearly four feet in diameter with a 5 MegaTon nuclear warhead. The whole package weighed 29,000 pounds and had a maximum range and altitude of less than 500 miles. Spartans were deployed from 1975 through 1976 due to increasing MiRV (multiple re-entry vehicles) deployment. ABM technology at the time simply wasn’t sophisticated enough to keep up with ICBM growth rates and the MiRV multiplier. Upon retirement empty rocket bodies were offered to cities and towns near deployment sites. Cavalier happens to be one of those towns. They placed theirs at the edge of town in an unused easement at an oddball intersection. Flag, pictures, and log completed, I loaded the coordinates for MSO - Masonic Scenic Overlook in Walhalla, ND.

    Cavalier.jpg
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  4. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    The next bonus location was MSO in Walhalla, ND, twenty-three miles from Cavalier on 60mph speed limit roads. Nonetheless, it took me over forty minutes to arrive at MSO cruising slightly over the speed limit. Walhalla sits on the banks of the Pembina River of which there is a picturesque river valley with sporty riding into and out of.

    Walhalla is the second oldest town in North Dakota - dating back to 1840’s to support fur traders of the Red River Valley. It’s only five miles from the Canadian border. The nearest city is Winnipeg, Manitoba (90 miles). The nearest state-side Walmart is 107 miles away in Grand Forks. There is a state historical park there containing the oldest building in North Dakota but I didn’t stop there because I’m on a rally. [That’s the sort of thing I’d stop and spend time at on a normal ride.]

    Kittson.jpg

    At the Masonic Scenic Overlook (MSO) there is a wire frame life size statue of an elk. Here is the exact wording from the bonus packet: “Follow the signs to the overlook, do not go into the cemetery. 0.5 miles of fair gravel with a couple of rough spots.” This is why it took me over 40 minutes to go 23 miles on 60 mph roads.

    Great. I'm taking an eight hundred pound Touring bike on “fair gravel with a couple of rough spots”. Oh, this will be good. I read it as: “GSA’s welcome - the rest of you will regret not having a REAL adventure bike!”. God - what have I gotten myself into - 728 points, that’s what. It’s the single highest point value on my route - likely due to distance to get here and then difficulty of ascent. Yea, I said, “ascent”. Remember - we’re going to the top of a scenic overlook. “Top” means “up there” in all languages. We’re going uphill on a dirt-ish gravel road with ruts and holes… on an 800 pound Touring bike with about four inches of suspension travel front and back. It isn’t going to be fun if I drop it.

    So, of course, the first I do is… go into the cemetery… because right when I approached the cemetery drive on my right… Ms. Google-B*tch screamed “TURN RIGHT!… which it turns out… was way worse than the correct road going to the overlook. I used my rear brake more in that tenth mile of cemetery trail than I use in a year. Fortunately I made it back to the road without falling over. (Now that I think back - I never took my feet off the floorboards.)

    Now that I was back at the road I continued where I should have gone in the first place by telling Ms.Google-B*tch to STFU. She’d be less cocksure of her directions if she was in my place. A few tense minutes later I arrived at the overlook. It was indeed picturesque. I am forever amazed at the beauty of a good chunk (the northeast quadrant) of North Dakota. [In the last picture, notice the road climbing out of the river valley in the center right portion of the frame.]

    Flag. Picture. Log. Load lat/long coordinates into Google Maps, pick a route and go… not so fast. I now have to descend a half mile of “fair gravel with a couple rough spots”. For the record: I have never ridden a dirt bike. Ever. (Not that I have anything against them.) I kept Elvis in first gear, rode the rear brake as necessary, and chose my line carefully to avoid the ruts.

    Pembina1.jpg

    Pembina3.jpg
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  5. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    Once I got back onto pavement I made a regretful decision. I had last filled the gas tank in Grand Forks. With the 75 mph interstate speed my mpg was significantly lower and the distance between points higher. I made a poor decision not to ride further into Walhalla to a gas station to fill up. Much of North Dakota is a gas station desert. I know that. Claiming MSO had consumed valuable time. It was past 18:00 and I had to be back in Lakeville (south of Minneapolis) by 07:59:59. I knew I was 434 miles (6.5 hours) from Lakeville and had to squeeze in a four hour rest bonus. Plus - I still had two more bonus locations to claim. I assign the cause of the poor decision to a gambler’s mentality. It was only after I was down the road 10 miles that I realized: I had no idea where the next gas station is located. Langdon could be a map dot for all I knew. Fortunately, the poor decision only resulted in added stress as Langdon has the most glorious gas station I’ve ever been glad to see. Four gallons filled the tank - meaning I was 70-ish miles from running out. In this part of North Dakota, seventy miles gets you from nowhere to nowhere often with nothing in between.

    The bonus point at Langdon, SIL, was another Spartan missile body only this one was placed in a city park adjacent to the elementary school. I found irony in the thought that this missile was placed right next to where kids went through nuclear attack drills in the 1950’s and 60’s. Flag. Picture. Log. Load lat/long coordinates into Google Maps, pick a route and go.

    Langdon.jpg
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  6. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    The Egyptians didn’t build a pyramid in North Dakota. The United States Army did... at horrific expense ($15B in current dollars). And no return (it was operational for less than a year). The pyramid structure was a radar to detect incoming Soviet ICBMs and direct the Spartan ABM response to shoot them down. It was technically obsolete before it was completed. Technology giveth, technology taketh away… I think that’s in the Bible somewhere.

    I've known about this place for a few years. Some of the regional moto vloggers trek up here and post videos. The website Atlas Obscura has a paged devoted to it. If I had been in the neighborhood I would have detoured to see it but the truth is - none of these bonus locations were worth the 200 mile ride from Fargo. Rally riders are clearly into it for the riding. These oddities are just the excuse.

    Wind turbines have been installed around the facility. As I stood on the paved road with the pyramid in the distance with a background, the thought occurred to me: It’s as if the Egyptians built a pyramid and the Dutch built windmills right here in North Dakota. Bonus location NDP claimed. Flag. Picture. Log. Load Grand Forks into Google Maps, pick a route and go.

    Note: There is an unpaved road that passes within a quarter mile of the pyramid but there was no requirement to get any closer and, it being 19:30, I had a long way to ride before my rest bonus.

    Safeguard.jpg
  7. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Great stuff RD! Always enjoy bouncing into your thread to check up on your travels. Keep it up. It must have been refreshing to travel through the Lake Wobegone region where all the kids are above average. Hopefully your travels took you to see Margie and the Prowler, maybe even Shep Pridefoot.
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  8. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    @wobbly one: Hope things are still beautiful in Billings.

    I live on the outskirts of the Lake Wobegon region and regularly ride deeper into it every weekend. (You know you are in the Lake Wobegon region proper when you can see a church steeple from five or more miles away out on the prairie.) It's odd being an outsider here. I can see that era slipping away with every roof-mounted satellite dish and smartphone, but there is enough of it hanging on by a thread that you instantly recognize that Lake Wobegon survives. Flowers blooming in window boxes. Gardens tended in the backyard. Small town Main Streets with home cooking diners. Ice houses on the lake every winter. I can't fathom what it is like to be a native and know that your ancestors settled here in mid-1800's and endured unimaginable hardship to eak out a living on the land. There are dozens upon dozens of small towns west of the cities nestled into woodland valleys among the vast farmland and each one of them shares that heritage. When it came to men in Lake Wobegon it was famously said, "... the odds are good that the goods are odd..." No truer observation has ever been made of Lake Wobegon life.

    Sadly, I don't keep up with Marge and family. They're a bit far from Lake Wobegon and life is busy. Maybe I will catch up with them this winter.

    Thanks for dropping in.
    mike
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  9. wobbly one

    wobbly one Been here awhile

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    Billings is pretty hot and dry right now. Fire season has begun. That looks like a very nice area where you are. Enjoy that slice of Americana while you can - feels like it is passing quickly.
    Pat
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  10. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    The route happened to be due south to intersect US-2 but these bonuses had pushed me further west of I-29. Most people don’t know that much of North Dakota is a wetland. In places, the road was crossing wetlands with birds and ducks - a veritable Terry Redlin painting... but he left out the insects. Elvis was plastered with insects within a mile.

    US-2 is considered a scenic route. Some consider it a must ride. I’m not sure I’d put it in that category but it isn’t far off if you love vast landscapes. At one railroad overpass there was a Subaru parked on the side of the road. Somewhere alongside US-2 about 90 miles west of Grand Forks and I-29 a middle-age couple was sitting in lawn chairs watching birds with binoculars.

    Sixty miles west of Grand Forks on US-2 is a rest area. I pulled in for a quick stop and found myself alone. As I exited the facilities I immediately noticed a V-star parked next to mine with a rear tire as wide as Texas. Walking toward me was Matt wearing his Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association leather jacket covered in patches. He spoke first: “It looks like you have Bear strapped in well.” We met at the bikes, he lit a cigar, and my short break turned into a little bit longer. No rally is worth missing out on a roadside friendship. He had long red hair in a ponytail and a long red beard tied off in spots. He had served in the Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq.

    He had a large patch on the front of his jacket: “CLIMAX”. I asked him, “Where are you from?”

    Matt: “Climax, Minnesota”

    Me: Where’s that?

    Matt: Southeast of Grand Forks.

    Without discussing it we rode the 60 miles to Grand Forks and pulled into a gas station. He said he had never ridden “a thousand in a day” as he called it. He asked where I was "crashing for the night" - I told him the truth - I didn't know but I needed to be in Lakeville before 8 am. He shook his head in wonder. I asked if he rode with earplugs - "nope". I told him I had a new, unused pair if he wanted them. He declined. Worried that I wouldn’t transit the interchange onto I-94 East properly at Fargo, he brought it up on his phone to explain it to me. Then it struck me: He saw me as a grandfather-type out on a bike who might need some help. It was a touching thought and something I had never experienced before. We all like to see ourselves as who we imagine ourselves to be - not how other people actually perceive us. It was a reality check for me. I am not the young man I once was and still imagine myself to be.

    We exited the gas station at 21:20 with Matt in the lead and 35 more minutes of daylight remaining. Besides temperature, additional daylight was a factor I considered in picking the northern bonuses. It was barely dark at 22:00. I looked in my rearview mirror to see the last vestiges of sunlight on the northwest horizon and remembered the Land of the Midnight Sun.

    Matt took his exit from I-29 somewhere south of Grand Forks. I continued on to Fargo and transited the interchange correctly with his prior guidance... touched by his genuine concern for my wellbeing.
  11. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    I had sufficient fuel to get to Alexandria MN around 00:00. As I’ve said before, I love riding at night when it is safe - that feeling of continually punching a small hole into infinite darkness with only the illumination of the instrument cluster and headlights. I felt it was safe enough to ride at night on I-94 even with the occasional deer carcass scattered across both lanes. I neared Fergus Falls at 23:30 and decided to get a room before the night clerk went to sleep. I pulled into a gas station to take on one gallon and get a receipt for starting the rest bonus. I’d fill up the remainder of the tank in the morning to document ending the rest bonus.

    The really big 8 had no vacancies so I pulled into the Rodeway Inn next door. A humble Indian fellow greeted me with total deference and I returned the same to him. He had been closing up for the night when I walked in but checked me in faster than ever despite not having a reservation. I opened the door to find the room a dive but the bed remarkably comfortable. After checking the projected time to Lakeville (3 hours), I set the alarm on my smartphone for 4:07am. The deadline for returning was 7:59:59 am. I plugged the phone into its charger and slid into bed at midnight having ridden 763 miles in 15.6 hours. My energy was still high but I was able to turn it off and fall fast asleep.
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  12. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    The alarm startled me from a deep sleep. I rose quickly and took a 60-second shower before checking the temperature, dressing appropriately, and loading the bike. I pulled into the station across the street to fill the tank and get my second rest bonus receipt. Already there were two rally riders - one on a GSA and one on an RT. He commented on my clean windshield while he attacked his with a squeegee. [I clean my windshield at every fill-up, including at 11:20 pm the night before when I only took on one gallon just to get a receipt.] The two Beemers took off while I pumped 2.5 more gallons onboard. I entered I-94 in darkness at 04:40 for a three-hour blast to Lakeville.

    All was well for the first 60 miles as I punched a solitary hole through the darkness but as I crossed out of the lakes region and into the woodlands the temperature dropped from 64F to below 58F just as the sun was cresting the horizon. I have my riding gear well-calibrated to ambient temperature and know which layers are necessary across a broad range. In my rush to get on the road, I had dressed for 64F forgetting that at 4 am the temperature still hadn't reached the minimum. Riding through the shallow valleys of the woodlands lowered the temperature further. I don’t have a camera mounted on my bike to take pictures otherwise I’d have the image of riding into a valley with fog hanging low over a lake to share with you. I was chilled now - the thermal liner of my vented jacket was insufficient by itself. At the speed I was running I could be on fumes by Lakeville. Not wanting to suffer the uncertainty of a day earlier, I pulled onto the exit ramp at Sauk Center at the 70-mile mark, topped off the tank, and put my Frogg Toggs rain jacket over my riding jacket before rejoining I-94. Just a mile or so later I realized that my HD leather gloves were better at this temperature than the Scorpions I had worn for the last 17 hours of riding. Riding gloves are like socks - sometimes it just feels good to change so I was happy to find myself approaching a rest area. I didn’t even shut off the bike; I opened the saddle bag, threw my Scorpions in, and pulled out the HD’s. Ahhh. A different feeling of comfort
  13. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    That was my last stop One hundred and thirty-nine miles to Lakeville.. I entered and exited my home county (Wright) on I-94 only 12 miles from my house and continued riding until I was 45 miles from home. I pulled onto the exit and into a gas station where I joined three other rally riders. I didn’t need gas but it was cool outside and would only get hotter.

    The rally ended at 7:59:59. It was precisely 7:30 am. My odometer read 960 miles and I was less than a mile from the finish line. One thousand miles in twenty four hours wasn’t important to me. I’m not someone who needs or wants certificates hanging on the wall. I’m fairly certain that anyone who can ride five or six hundred miles per day is capable of a Saddle Sore 1K. Regardless, there wasn’t time to get on I-35 and pound out forty more miles. I mounted the bike for the last time and crossed the finish line.
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  14. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    Remarkably, I wasn’t the least bit tired or fatigued. I had no pains at any time in the preceding 20 hours of riding. The worst I could say was that my ears were tired of ear plugs. Elvis is about 93% comfortable for me. My hips could use an inch or two added to the seat height but that would require an inch or two taller windshield and I’m just not that into perfection. It’s good enough.

    The parking lot contained a fair number of rally bikes when I pulled in. I gathered my scoring sheet and headed inside to double-check my entries. Similar to golf, rally riding is a bit pedantic when it comes to scoring and the littlest error can be costly in points. Fortunately for me, the worst I had done was lost the flash drive I had been given for which I would be deducted 100 points. (I should have put it in my container holding all my electronics but I didn’t and it had fallen out at some point.) I ate a bit of breakfast while reviewing my score sheet.

    Prior to the rally I had corresponded with the only other Harley rider entered. Doug had ridden up from Memphis on his 2017 Ultra Limited to ride and we met on Friday night. On a trip out to the bike to retrieve an item Doug mentioned in passing that he had been disqualified for arriving at 8:04 am. Most rallies have a 100 point per minute penalty for being late to the finish line. This one didn’t - it was disqualification. Doug had ridden to Aladdin WY and back in 20 hours picking up some bonus locations in Rapid City along the way. I felt horrible for Doug.

    Another rider from Joliet, IL, I had met Friday night, approached to tell me that he had spoiled my goal of finishing last. He rode out three hundred miles before deciding that he was not in the physical condition to go any further. He wisely turned around and returned to his hotel near the Start/Finish.

    I finished with nearly 9,000 points. If I recall correctly, the Rookie winner finished with 9,300 points and had gone to the same northern locations as me but tacked on a higher value location along I-90 in ND instead of seeing Prince and Lake Wobegon. Jim Owen won the Expert class. [I would normally say that he’s the current Tiger Woods of rally riding but Tiger has a checkered legacy outside of golf - including his recent car accident.] I met Jim Friday night and exchanged a few words with him on Saturday morning. He scored an unbelievable number of points to win and rode around 1100 miles. [The highest mileage rider racked up 1200 miles but very few points.]

    Scoring everyone took awhile but the awards ceremony went quickly. I stopped to see Doug before getting on my bike to head home… 45 more miles… and to have lunch with Mrs.RD.

    Ultimately I had a fantastic time riding in the rally. It’s not often an atheist goes on a mission from God. I said in the beginning that this would likely be my first and last rally. That may be true… or it may not. Every year when I come back from skiing in Colorado I tell myself “I’m going to ski local next year” and that mantra works until early January when I start watching the snow reports and web cams from my favorite resorts. Before long I have flights booked and hotel/car reserved. I suspect the 2022 MN1000 may be similar - I’ll tell myself that I’m not going to ride it all the way up to the day I register for it. Or maybe not. The 2022 MN1000 is going to be a 48 hour rally - which might be more than I’m willing to bite off. You can ride a long way in 48 hours. Spokane. Salt Lake City, New Orleans. Not to mention east and southeast. Elvis will need new shoes before we head out on that adventure.
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  15. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    Not that money is the most important thing but for those that are interested, here's how the rally cost came out for me. (I didn't include food because I would eat regardless of whether I was in the rall)y:

    registration $110
    Fri night hotel $119
    Sat night hotel $78
    fuel $93
    _________________________
    total $400

    Experience: Priceless
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  16. WYO George

    WYO George I have no idea

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    Thanks for sharing. It’s always good to hear other people’s viewpoints and experiences. Great report.
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  17. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    I got up early to play nine holes of golf so that I could fit in a ride to New Ulm, MN, to see "Hermann the German" - a statue erected in 1897 by German settlers of the area recognizing the achievements of German-Americans. It rained all day yesterday and the forecast was "Partly Cloudy" with spotty showers and highs in the mid-to-high '70s. I had just passed Gaylord, MN when a literal wall of water appeared ahead. I pulled to the side of the road to either suit up or turn around. Since I had made a couple of stops along the way already - I decided to leave Hermann the German for another day. The wall was moving in my direction much faster than I anticipated and I endured a light drenching before reversing course and escaping.

    I've taken a few pictures of historic Catholic churches so it's about time the other major team gets some airtime. Emanuel Lutheran Church in Hamburg, MN, was built sometime in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Unlike a lot of other rural Minnesota churches - it is doing just fine and looking forward... so much so they have posted nothing about the history of the church or its founding year. Maybe I would have discovered its origins by walking the sizeable cemetery adjacent to the church - but I didn't take the time to do that.

    South of Hamburg is the larger town of Arlington. The citizens there have erected an impressive Veterans Memorial with a Vietnam-era Bell Cobra helicopter as its anchor piece. (I passed back in 2018 on the VStrom when visiting my Sergeant daughter who was living in Mankato.)

    emanluth.jpg

    bellcobra.jpg

    Arlington_ToH1.jpg

    Arlington ToH2.jpg
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  18. steved57

    steved57 Long timer Supporter

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    Just read the entire 23 pages over the last couple days - WOW !! Enjoyed the writing and pic's very much so thanks for the time and effort
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  19. 72 Yamaha RD350

    72 Yamaha RD350 Followed the Wrong God Home Supporter

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    @steved57: You're welcome. It appears from your signature line that you bleed some serious Orange.
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  20. Valk rider

    Valk rider Been here awhile

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    1972, Honda CB 350. Left Arkansas 1 week after buying. First bike. Adventures and stories. Dirt and pot holes. 5720B778-BB44-4308-867F-BA18CE5A5DC5.jpeg 1E650384-81FF-43B4-BE6B-E264956437D2.jpeg 903BB2C4-FE1D-48F5-BAF0-8D0910589352.jpeg 1E650384-81FF-43B4-BE6B-E264956437D2.jpeg 903BB2C4-FE1D-48F5-BAF0-8D0910589352.jpeg
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