Another Transamtrail report....slightly delayed

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Seth S, Jun 23, 2006.

  1. Seth S

    Seth S Deleted

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    Ok, So I am about a month away from my departure anniversary from last summer when I took off on my brand new ktm 950 on a solo transamtrail/explore the USA trip. I I have been loading the 400+ photos up on smug mug and slowly making progress. Figure its time to start plugging down a trip report.

    The firs day of the trip with the bike all packed and patiently awaiting me to head out. I had a lot of stuff I would later send home and my packing abilities were in need of practise...of which I got a lot of on this trip:

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    This is a shot of my initial navigation setup with trip computer, roll chart holder, gps, and map pocket. I found that the cheap gps holder vibrated the batteries loose all the time....later fixed with some rubber shims....and eventualy will be hard wired in place.

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    I left Rutland VT around 10 am after doing all the last minute things and had to be in Louisville Kentucky by 6pm the following day for a friends wedding. This required 2 500 mile days of riding and I had never done more then about 250 in a day. The day was nice weather wise and it was a very exhilerating feeling to head out of town with a loaded bike, a years worth of savings and loans in the bank, 6 weeks of free time, and a bit of the unkown ahead. I spent all of my time on the interstate during these first 2 days and quickly discovered how truly uncomfortable the stock 950 seat was and how bad the buffeting was for me.....fixed the buffeting later.


    Around an hour east of Buffalo NY I pulled into a rest area to fill up and take a break. While I was there there was a brief down pour...when it stopped I jumped back on the highway only to be hit by a torrential down pour and suddenly slowing and stopping traffic. I assumed there was a car crash and traffic was backed up. Well the rain passed and the sun came out, the humidity spiked, and so did the temperature. Traffic was crawling along at about 10 feet per minute....with frequent stops. I soon came across another couple who had pulled over in the break down lane to weight for traffic to let up....I joined them for a bit:


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    Note the traffic going off into the distance. After about 20 minutes I decided to brave the traffic and get on my way. Great plan....only after an hour or so and maybe 1 mile there were no signs of traffic letting up. I had the pirelli's on the bike at this point so off road traction was decent....and I started looking for a trail or path off the interstate to get on a secondary road. Well there were a few options, but I was afraid I was going to get in trouble...or maybe just not brave enought to risk it this early in the trip. Well after a while the bike started stalling in the heat.....I think the oil was thinning a bit......at this point people were walking down the interstate....pulled over and having little parties etc....I chose the break down lane and a possible ticket to get my sweltering bike some air, and my overheating riding gear some air as well. 7 MILES LATER....I got ahead of the traffic and pulled off. Apparently the had some pieces fall off of a new overpass into the interstate which closed it down until they fixed it....subtract a couple hours of progress for the day. After clearing that mess i pushed on and made it to the sliver of PA before hitting Ohio..where around 9pm I found a campground just off the interstate and spent the night....for $20 on a patch of grass behind the office....at least the showers were hot.

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    Day 2:

    too be continued.
    #1
  2. BSK

    BSK Ohhh mist! Die Bullen!!!!

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    keep them pics coming
    #2
  3. 1reddawg

    1reddawg Long timer

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    What BSK said..
    #3
  4. Deano955

    Deano955 Insatiable

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    :lurk
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  5. Seth S

    Seth S Deleted

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    these guys were on the bike parked back up in day one waiting for the 7 mile traffic jam to let up. The monkey makes a debut on the road....and will forever on be simply known as the monkey....think something along the lines of traveling Garden Gnome and you will have the jist of the monkey.





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    People are always happy to take your picture...this was day two at a gas station pushing towards my friends 6pm wedding in Louisville KY...only 500 miles to go.

    I took their picture too...didnt get any names....or lost it:

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    Definately not ATTGATT

    Kentucky

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    My friends (left to right) Kelly, Geoff (in back) Kristen, and John and monkey. John and Kristen were married the day before and we had all gone out to a kick ass brunch. It was a little sad to be packing up and heading off alone.
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    Damn lazy perverted monkey....never helped me load the bike.
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    Two people I met at Cumberland State Park on the KY/TN border. Will add there names when I get my log boo

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    BIG BUG: aka Cicada (sp?). It was on the door to the shower house and had to be 3 inches long. These things make a hell of a racket in the trees at night. My biggest fear was to hit one at night....having hit moths and June bugs at 60 mph this thing would have taken me clear off the bike.

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    Setting up Camp next to 2 brothers on BMW's. These guys were great. They even bought me dinner and breakfast. Once again will post names when my log book is present.



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    ridge/dam across cumberland resevoir
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    Nice corner coming off of the damn, seemed like a good picture shot of one of those...well classic motorcycle cornering pictures....only its hard to take said picture when you dont have a photographer.


    Tennessee


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    I started the Transamerica trail In Tennessee and this was the first gravel road I hit.....as it turned out there are not that many gravel roads in Tennessee. Oh, it was also about 100 deg F with about 100% humidity.
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    Twin Falls Overlook. Another neat bridge/damn on coming off of the above gravel road.


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    One of many frame the bike in front of the sign photos
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    One closed road that looked as if it had been a bad place to put a road with frequent flooding damage. The trail sends you down this road, so I didnt argue. It was passable but rough further down.
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    KTM mirrors work great for these split view shots...sometimes I did it on purpose and sometimes accidentaly.
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    Stopped here to check in with my parents as I had cell phone service here. Learned to avoid walking through the Black tar areas since they tend to stick to your feet in the heat.
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    Campground #1 on trail. Nice spot next to a small lake. Only drawback were the 4 freight trains that went by during the night.....they were a mile or two away but still very loud
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    Another hot day in Tennessee on more paved but fun roads. I had some good sections of twisty turns that were a lot of fun even on a heavily loaded bike


    Arkansas
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    Ok, so we jump forwards to Arkansas with no pictures inbetween. Truth is I was dying in the 100%humidity/100deg F. So I skipped ahead through the rest of Tennessee, and jumped past mississippy as well. I headed up to the Ozarks and rejoined the transamtrail. I tried one campground but there were a lot of stray dogs and it was just plain sketchy. So I headed into the national forest (in the dark mind you) and found this one road. Rode in for a while and found a nice spot, set up the tent and went to sleep.....hoping I wasnt in a bad place. Turned out to be pretty nice.
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    This is a turtle....yes there is a pissed off turtle in there. He was in the run me over position in the middle of the sunny high way so i moved him to the side....where he probably just turned around and went back
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    Damned if I can remember the name of this road...something like white mountain road. A very cool road and I highly recommend it if you are in NW arkansas....ever.


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    Orange Mud to match the orange bike


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    Other then one loose gravel stretch in mississippi this was my first "technical" section. Like all good pictures this one doesnt reveal how steep and loose the trail was. I even had the pleasure of getting around some big trees further down....in future carry folding saw. The bike was a handful with the stock front tire...but I didnt dump it


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    Umm its a spider....duh. But I almost walked through it....something I seem to do a lot


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    This could be me...or you. This guy was interesting to say the least. If I remember correctly he had been a realtor in his earlier years and it sounded like he made some money. Then at some point he just started living off the motorcycle. he was camped out in the Ozarks....and had been in this spot for the last 10 months. He had this cool old Yamaha and a lot of very low tech get the job done cheaply but effectively gear. He even had a walmart email, but when I emailed him recently the address bounced.


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    Figured I'd take a shot with me in a similiar position



    Welcome to Oklahoma
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    Welcome to Oklahoma where its flat, the roads are straight, and we dont have any humidity. To make up for the lake of humidity it will be 120 deg F...enjoy your stay, oh and we have very little shade so enjoy it when you find it. (this pic looks East)
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    looking forwards....aka West

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    KUDZU.....gusunteight. this stuff was apparently brought in to feed the cattle....was probably one of the first good scams that the USA experience. Turns out the cattle didnt like it but it liked its new home. Now its grows over everything in its path until everything in its path dies. This spot was surreal.
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    We just dont have signs like this in Vermont.....or Elk, or what I would call free range. We have woods of course.
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    First flat tire on one of my motorcycles...EVER! Add another tool to the list (bead breaker). It took aboit 3 hours to get the wheel off the bike, break the bead, change the tube and tire, reinflate the tire (my pump sucked and some locals happened by with an air tank), and remount to be on my way. Oh, and I loaded the bike all back up, popped it off its centerstand and it fell away from me and flipped upside down into the ditch. Nothing was damaged and when the oil and fuel cleared out it actualy started.


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    Spent the night hear shortly after the above flat tire. The primitive camping was great....wide open, nice grass, quiet. The RV area was a zoo and very sketchy....course I like my privacy and solitude when I camp. nothing worse then waking up to the jackass turning on his generator so he can watch the "game".

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    Neat rock, made me think of old ocean deposits.

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    I like airplanes, my grandfather likes airplanes (he was a WWII ace), thought this was a neat picture.....ended up taking several others whenever I saw a plane mounted like this. Here he is next to his P51 way back when:

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    If you look at the road sign in the top left portion of the screen you will see its East and North or something. This was the beginning of what I like to call "grid navigation". Its one of the places on earth where you can make exact left and right turns all day long and never hit a curve


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    It was hot, I was hot, I figured I should take a picture of myself
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    Another 2 strack to infinity
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    When you come from a state where flat is pretty nonexistent these open areas are pretty amazing. It was pretty cool at first....but by day 4 it was getting old. Notice the complete lack of clouds in the sky....a common theme while I was in Oklahoma....I just prayed for some shade. if you zoom in several miles you can actualy see a hill and curves in the distance...I think I turned before I hit them. its pretty amazing that people live out here what with the heat and the heat. In all seriousness the prairie lands were awesome and I would love to go across them again.


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    A neat old iron bridge that looked as if it would exist to support anything soon....but upon closer inspection it was probably ok.

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    at least a fall would yield a soft landing
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    Another sign we dont see much in the east
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    Hot and flat....good for describing the grasslands of OK, possibly not something you would hear someone say about a playboy model
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    Hark! its a hill
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    Oops, should have turned right back there....I'll just turn around and go back. Oh look all the cows have walked aside except this one.....hmmm looks sort of bullish.....ummmm hopefully that red/orange thing is a myth.

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    Just add water and this road goes from cracked clay to wet clay.....the natural equivalent to KY jelly spread over ice but without any of the pleasurable situations where KY jelly and Ice might be used.
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    "Grid Engineering" had one section of route chart that said go 10 miles cross intersection, go 10 miles cross intersection.........70 miles later cross big road. The benefit of roads like this is that you can see any oncoming traffic, which is nonexistent, and you get to jump across the intersection.


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    BEAVER THAT WAY!!

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    Sun setting on the 16 hour day as I tried to get the F out of Oklahoma. It was a lot nicer riding at night except for all the rabbits and deer that liked to run out in front of me. Later on I hit some deep deep sand which on the orange moose is a lot of work to ride in

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    I probably should have spent more time riding at this point then trying to take a good photo of the sunset....but I was looking at another 100 miles in the dark so what would a few minutes matter.

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    So long story short I made it to Beaver Oklahoma home of the Dusters...WTF? You live in Beaver and you named your highschool the Dusters....Brilliant!. This hotel was next to the gas station....had to take a picture....I spent the night just down the road in the beaver Dunes State Park.

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    hmmm, turn around real slow, I think we are being watched. thousands and thousands of Sunflowers. I thought it was like they were watching this orange bike and thinking, well isnt that just showing off....kind of like when the slutty (but hot) girls shows up at the prom in a flaming red mini skirt and all the guys pay more attention to her then their dates. (yeah I'm crazy....its been documented)
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    More...Lots more.

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    At 70mph the telephone poles go by at a tolerable rate....so does Oklahoma.

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    WTF? There was a museum ahead with a big ass steel dyno on the side of the road. This is Just outside of Boise City (pronounced Boyce).....say it wrong and the locals will be quick to correct you by any means possible.

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    These locals corrected me by letting me stay they night in their air conditioned house and guest bedroom. They even bought me breakfast in the morning. Will post names later.
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    Welcom to New Mexico. We are even hotter then Oklahoma. Enjoy your stay. I went past this sign and turned right. Thats about all there is to say. It was one of those turns where the GPS, ODO, and map are all slightly different but this is the only plausible looking road. Worse case you get lost in "no mans land". No, it is actualy called "no mans land". I was like sweet!! but gosh darn it all there were no women either.


    check back real soon for the next installment....
    #5
  6. 2whlrcr

    2whlrcr gooligan

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    Nice photos, please send more.

    Looks like Grandpa was a "Double Ace". Not too many of those guys around. Tell him thanks, when you get home.

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    #6
  7. boniface57

    boniface57 Been here awhile

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    I'm enjoying your post. :clap I notice that, unlike some other trans-America ride reports, yours is more about riding dirt roads as opposed to trails. I'm new to biking, myself, and have a "new" '94 DR650. For the forseeable future, I'll be much more interested in riding on dirt roads than in going out on trails. So, my question is, how did you find out about these dirt roads? I understood the trail maps to be about trails (though I've never seen the maps). Do the maps show the same trip using both dirt roads and trails, or does the route alternate back and forth between the two? I find the idea of crossing the USA on unpaved roads to be really exciting!

    Look forward to hearing from you. :ear
    #7
  8. DockingPilot

    DockingPilot Hooked Up and Hard Over

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    :lurk
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  9. Lobby

    Lobby Viel Spass, Vato!

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    How does one live in the Ozarks for 10 months? :eek1
    #9
  10. Seth S

    Seth S Deleted

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    oh the trails are coming. Its just that most of tennessee is paved, I skipped mississippi because it was mucho caliente with a heat index around 140 deg F iirc. The ozarks were all fun dirt roads, and most of oklahoma was dirt roads as well. Colorado on is where a lot of the trails kick in. My take on the trip was that the first half from Tennessee to the border of colorado is fit for a bigger bike. From Colorado on a smaller bike would work wonders.
    #10
  11. Seth S

    Seth S Deleted

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    New mexico

    So after a nice night in an air conditioned house with a bed and a shower and a good breakfast I once again put on all my gear and headed into the nothing. Whenever you leave a town in Oklahoma its a good idea to make sure that your fuel tanks are full as there is a lot of nothing inbetween and when you get to the spots the or on either side of inbetween there is often not much to offer. So with the bike fully fueled and plenty of water on board I rode down a few more dirt roads, one very hot tar road, and then turned off into no mans land:

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    Welcom to New Mexico. We are even hotter then Oklahoma. Enjoy your stay. I went past this sign and turned right. Thats about all there is to say. It was one of those turns where the GPS, ODO, and map are all slightly different but this is the only plausible looking road. Worse case you get lost in "no mans land". No, it is actualy called "no mans land". I was like sweet!! but gosh darn it all there were no women either.


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    I should have taken more photos of no mans land but sometimes you just get tired of stopping to pull the camera out. In the future I need to mount the camera on the bars or something so stopping time is minimised when stopping is not desireable. This valley appeared out of nowhere and was a bit of a surprise. Notice the clouds, I sure did as these were the first clouds I had seen in about 5 days and I was looking forward to some shade or maybe a rainstorm.

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    The section that crosses the corner of New Mexico was very pretty with lots of new scenary and after about 50 miles or so you start seeing signs of civilization again....shortly after you arrive in Trinidad Colorado....and by arrive I mean you sneak in the back door. This is something the transamtrail likes to do....as in one moment your in desolation and then poof, you turn a corner and find yourself in metropolis.


    Colorado
    Not many pictures of Trinidad as it was late in the afternoon and after a visit to Subway for dinner I concentrated on locating a place to camp for the night:

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    This campground was located above a nearly empty resevoir a few miles outside of town. They had nice showers, good tent pads and very few rolly monstrosities (aka motorhomes). The next day i was up early to cover some ground in an attempt to reach Salida which was a good distance away through the mountains. I should mention that there were two opportunities listed on the trail for getting to Salida. One was via the Rainbow trail, and the other was via a few highways and other dirt roads. I borrowed this picture from Trail Scout's account of the ride (this will come into play a little later on):

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    Heading into the foothills of colorado. This was a fantastic road and I stopped many times to take in the scenary and take pictures. If....er when...no if about it...I do another trip like this I will be sure to bring enough memory sticks for about 10,000 photos.

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    Everybody likes pictures of birch trees. This was a road that meandered up and over a pass I cant remember the name of and may or may not have written down. I fealt like a true adventurer since I was at about 10,000 feet and had never been above 6280 without being in a winged vehicle

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    I stopped to take this picture and noticed some dark clouds ahead, some virga (i believe thats what its called....basicaly rain that never hits the ground), and no natural protection to be seen.

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    Then I went a little farther and had to grab a shot of this cloud. Thats when the lightning bolts started dropping around me. First one on the right, several in front and several on my left. I decided that it was time to get to a lower elevation and seek some refuge. I put the camera away and broke the majority (all) of the speed limits as i headed for the valley. During the decent I saw an elk with a nice big rack of horns about 25 feet to the right side of the road. I looked at him, he looked at me, and we both decided that heading our own directions would prove to be most beneficial for everyone.


    The road back to the valley was very straight and the valley was just fantasticly large. It could have easily been 10 miles across and appeared to be perfectly flat at the base with huge mountains jutting out of either side.

    this is the view as seen from google maps:

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    As i race across the the road indicated in the red line I found myself getting peened with some very big rain drops that were gusting across me at a very high rate of speed. I zipped into westcliffe and hid under the awning at the gas pump island while I fueled up. Thats when I saw this cloud coming over the mountains:

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    This was the biggest and darkest storm cloud that I had ever seen. It was an amazing contrast and I struggled to capture it adequately on the camera. On one side of the valley it was pitch black as the sun was completely blotted out. On the other it was a bright blue sky with a few clouds and large jagged mountains. you could literaly be in night on one side of the valley and day on the other....it was very twilight zonish. looking towards the sunny side:

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    #11
  12. JackL

    JackL T minus 5 months

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    Donald Strait flew 87 combat missions in the P-47 before switching over to P-51s. He became the leading ace of the 356th Fighter Group with 13.5 aerial victories-three in P-47s. Long after he had flown in the WW II, Korea and Vietnam conflicts, Maj. Gen. Strait became a major player in the development of the P-47's modern-day predecessor: the A-10 Warthog (also known as the Thunderbolt II).

    Your grandfather is a rare man.

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    #12
  13. Uzay

    Uzay Adventure Dreamer

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    Hey,

    This is really a good one, i liked that report but this straight roads are really boring, by the way what is an Ozark? Why a men can't live 10 years in an Ozark?
    #13
  14. soundasleeprecording

    soundasleeprecording genuine pleather seating

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    #14
  15. DC950

    DC950 Microadventurer

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    :thumb:lurk
    #15
  16. Staxrider

    Staxrider dirt dauber

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    Great report. Aren't those birch trees called aspens?:D
    #16
  17. boniface57

    boniface57 Been here awhile

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    Wonderful Photos! :norton
    #17
  18. cantrma

    cantrma Adventurer

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    Seth,

    Great report! Quite a bit of it sounds and looks familiar. Your Grandfather must have been a hell of a man.

    Mark
    #18
  19. Seth S

    Seth S Deleted

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    he was and still is. I think he turned 89 this year...still lives on his own, plays golf, drives etc. He even bought one of the new mustangs a year or so ago.
    #19
  20. hpsVFR

    hpsVFR Hoosier Daddy Supporter

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    I've run into cicada's before. AFAICT, they pretty much just bounce off; I never found parts on my jacket or helmet, anyway. It was a suprisingly "soft-feeling" bounce, actually Of course, the ones that I was hitting were likely (it was night-time, and I was going pretty fast) rather smaller that yours. They were from the "brood X" 17-year cicadas that came out in southern IN a couple years back.

    :clap I've been there. It's a beautiful road, if a bit hairy for a noob (that would be me) at night (that would be me, being dumb). :lol3

    Great report, keep it coming!
    :ear :lurk
    #20