My Solo Trans-Am-Trail Adventure

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Donniej, Nov 30, 2007.

  1. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    I posted this on another forum... but I'm bored out of my mind right now and I thought you might enjoy it as well...

    BTW, this trip started Friday, 7-13

    here's a little history to get you up to speed. The Trans Am trail is a 4,800 mile trail across the United States. It goes from eastern Tennessee through Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, through the northeast corner of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and finally Oregon ending at the coastal town of Port Orford. The entire trip is extremely rural. The route was put together by a guy named Sam Correro. It is a patch work of dirt roads, mountain passes, abandoned rail road grades, parks, etc... It is almost entirely unpaved, some parts are also extremely difficult to get through, even on a dual sport motorcycle.
    In March I decided I was going to do it. I got a month off work and found a 1997 DR350 (Dual Sport model). I spent the next 4 months preparing. All mainenance was up to spec and I had planned for every conceivable disaster. Finally on Friday, July 13th my Dad and me made way from Philly to Tennessee with my DR350 in the back of my (veg powered) 1993 Chevy 3500 pick up.

    It was 700 miles to TN. We spent the night in Virginia and made it the rest of the way by mid afternoon. It was a *really* long drive, it had to be at least 14 hours and I was happy to be out of the truck! We unloaded the bike and refueled the truck with the extra 30 gallons of veg I brought with me. I thought it would be a good idea to change the veg filter too, it ended up taking forever to get the new filter to seal 100% but I'll be ****ed if I'm going to be responsible for the burning of that much diesel for the return trip! My Dad and I said our good byes and he headed out to see some friends in the area and to drive the truck back to Philly.

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    As he drove away it began to sink in, I was now alone. What ever should happen in the next month, I would have to handle it on my own. I'm in the middle of no where, by myself....... this is definitely going to be interesting...

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    It was around 4:00 and I decided it was too late to get started today. Instead I booked a night in the motel and went otu to find the beginning of the trail. It took a while, since these are dirt roads in the woods, they're not real well marked. I did eventually find it and went out for the first 30 miles to see what I was in for tomorrow.

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    The terrain was suprisingly tough. It was very hilly and there were no sort of protection if you go over the side of the road. You have to definitely take it easy with the speed and keep the bike uder control. With all the weight I had on the bike, that may be a challenge.

    The trial in TN passes through lots of rural homes. There were lots of houses here. Lots of pick-up trucks and Confederate flags, guys bare foot and shirtless, beer cans every where... but everyone was *very* nice to me.

    After only an hour or two of riding I was heading back to the motel and preparing myself for the first real day on the trail...

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    #1
  2. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Day 1;
    Yesterday after I got back from my "try the trail" ride I met a group of guys on KLR's. There were 4 of them, 1 from Ohio and 3 fron NC. We talked over dinner about rides we'd done and of course about the TAT. I hoped I would run into them today, I was kind of nervous about getting lost out in the sticks and hoped I could follow them for the first day, just to get the hang of the trail. That didn't happen though. I knew it was for the best, I came out here to do this my way and it was time for me to figure it all out.

    The way you follow the trail is like this... You have a set of roll charts that provide you turn-by-turn instructions. It works like this; Go 1.7 miles, turn left, go .9 miles, turn right, go .5 miles, stay straight, etc... The physical construction of the roll chart is just plain old paper strips, kind of like what you use in a calculator that prints on the paper strips. The roll chart holder is just a plastic box with 2 knobs. You tape one end of the roll onto one of the knowbs and feed it in, then you tape the other end in. Every couple of turns you turn the know to advance the roll chart to the next set of instructions. For about half of the country there were GPS coordinates at every turn. This didn't help you find the turn so much as it gave you confidence that you were in fact at the correct turn. This was nice because if you got off the trial, it was very difficult to get back on... and I would find myself off it all the time. With the roll charts also came maps of all the areas you go through, I found these useless about half the time. Between the maps and my GPS (Garmin Quest) I usually made my way back on the trail without *too* much frustration.

    here's some pics...

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    It's a good thing I got the bigger gas tank for my bike...

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    Day 1 continued; Sunday 7-15

    With 190 miles under my belt, I feel fine. Elevation was around 2,000' and the bike ran great. The roads were mostly paved but about 1/3 are not.
    Then it rained... hard! There was thunder and lightning all around so I stopped until it passed. This was in a park so I found a shack with an over hang and met some nice guys on quads. Later I met up with the KLR guys again. I rode with them for a little bit but I don't fit in with them too well. They're great guys though and I hope to see them around.

    I did get lost today and it cost me an hour to get back on track. I still managed to cover 190 miles in 10 hours. Then I found the nearest town and a motel room (for $35! ).
    #2
  3. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Day 2;
    This was my journal entry for the day...
    Monday 7-16

    It was a long day. 10 hours of hard riding and only covered 190 miles. I got off the trail twice but not for long. I've now been chased by 5 dogs and have seen 2 turtles on the road. I got some cool cow pics too.
    Now I'm in an over priced camp ground ($18). I also made it into central time. The bike has been doing great and has been getting 60mpg.
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    Here's some pics and a little commentary...

    Clearly this was extremely rural areas, hence it was mostly agricultral. There was lots of farming and lots of cattle... cattle on the roads, cattle that got over the fences... they were everywhere. It's odd too, you come around a turn and sometimes they'd just stare at you. Sometimes *all* of them would stare at you. It could be a little creepy, or comical at times.
    In this pic, I guess the guy on the quad was there to feed them and they sure knew it! As soon as he came around, they got real excited and went running!

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    They come in lots of different colors too. I think these guys were vanilla flavored ;)

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    A little oaisis in the midst of farm fields. These were pretty common...

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    Here's a random shot of the bike all loaded up. I'll post in a little bit of all that I brought...

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    I went over *lots* of bridges. Some were decent, some weren't... few had gaurd rails.

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    This was one of the newer signs I saw. I guess it doesn't take long for the locals to "customize" them. It was a little unusual to see one that wasn't at least peppered with gun fire.

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    There was *so* many animals out there. It was tough to get there pics though because they'd run away. Here I was able to get a pack of puppies running away.

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    Did I mention that this was rural? That explains why many roads had spots liek this in them. Trust me, this was nothing.

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    And a final cow pic for the day...

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    #3
  4. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Here's some more info about the bike.

    It's a 1997 DR350SE. It had ~2,800 miles on it when I got it for this trip. I replaced all the cables, did some model specific mods, tuned it up, new tires & heavy duty (5mm thick) tubes, new sealed rear wheel bearings and did some jetting work with adjustable needle & low speed jet (handy for varying altitudes). I left it jetted a little lean since much of the trip would be 5,000'+.

    The bike came with all the gaurds you see on it. Frame, headlight, belly pan, rotor covers, etc... I did add the DL650 handguards.

    The luggage system was my own creation. I used two 8 gallon, heavy duty containers that Doug got from work. The rack is made out of 1/2" electrical conduit. I bent it using a tubing bender and welded it all with my MIG welder. I designed it to slightly slope down toward the fornt of the bike with the containers openings being at the front. This would allow me to use it as a back rest, would ensure that any water getting in could not pool inside the containers and in the event that a lid came off, I would feel it against my back. The entire assebly also detaches with four 1/4" wing nuts.

    I also added two 2.5 gallon gas cans. One is for water (the white one) and the other is for fuel. I already swapped the OEM gas tank for a Clarke 4.2 gallon tank, these were just for the *really* remote areas. They would generally be empty for weight reasons.

    Also on the rear are 2 blue dry bags, one on each side. They contain my tent & sleeping bag, loaned to me from TonyJuliano (along with lots of other camping gear). On top is a trash bag with a tarp, spare tubes and rain gear.

    The "tank bags" are gas mask bags I got from the local Army Surplus store for $3 each. On the front is my book bag.

    Here is what everything contained...

    The two 8 gallon jugs....
    Change of clothes
    Spare levers, filters & cables
    Glow stick (in the event I find a rave )
    AA BAtteries
    Multi-meter
    Laminated wiring diagram
    Parachute cord
    Camping stove, pot & utensils
    PUR water purification system.
    bed roll
    heavy coat
    Widder electric gloves (loaned by MorganB)
    Thermal underwear
    Wool socks
    Zip lock bags
    Satelite Phone & charger in a heavy case
    Probably lots of other stuff too that I can't remember right now.

    In the tank bags;
    One side had tools and some emergency food.
    Other side had maps and a quart of oil.

    In the book bag over the headlight;
    All the stuff I used all the time.
    Toothbrush, floss, etc...
    Shaving stuff
    A few AA batteries
    My Journal
    Cell phone, blackberry & charger
    Some snacks
    Flashlight
    Bear spray (when it wasn't on my belt)

    I also had a 3 liter Camelbak that I kept at the rear of the seat for lower lumbar support
    #4
  5. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Day 3;
    Jorrnal entry....

    Tuesday, 7-17
    Since I went to bed early, I was up early- 4:30! I packed my stuff and left the camp site. I got some coffee and realized that everywhere in TN has only had non-dairy creamer... strange...
    I did 200 miles in 9 hours which finishes TN, tomorrow I'll get started on MS.

    I rode through Amish country today. They were busy folks with lots going on. I can around some turn in the middle of the road, a woman driving a cart was in the middle too. We weren't that close but she still freaked. She through the reins all the way to the side and I could see her acting all wild.
    I got chased by a few more dogs too.

    At the end of the day I was beat and looked for a motel. I found one cheap ($32) and the owner was great. She's a 85 year old lady who at the age of 50, her husband killed himself. She coped with it by traveling and she's been all over the world.
    The motel is next to a Pigly Wigly so I got some shaving razors, icy hot and a T-shirt. The icy hot worked well as did the percs.
    The bike is doing well but the rear tire isn't doing so great, there's just too much pavement here.
    ----------------------------------------

    Here's the pics and commentary...

    Pavement comes and pavement ends...

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    Here's just one of the many dogs to chase me. This one wasn't very intimidating so I got his pic...

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    Tennessee was a odd place. You could tell that it was very poor in places yet right next door there were brand new, expensive houses going up. That would explain why there were so many dirt roads that were recently paved. Here's one of the neew homes. Single level, brick was the norm.

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    This is Amish country. You'll see more of this later but here's a typical Amish house. There are power lines running by but they didn't go to the houses.

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    Water in the roads is par for the course. There is a reason I took a dual sport after all...

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    10 ton weight limit?!?!? I was glad to only be on a 350 ;)

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    So I come up this creek and I noticed the algae on the bottom, covering smooth rocks. I went about 2mph but the bike slipped right out from under me. Picking it up was really tough because it was like being on wet ice!

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    About 2 miles later I find this on my roll chart... It would have helped if it was mentioned a little earlier!!!

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    I took it *really* easy on the rest but they weren't too bad.

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    It's kind of a funny feeling being out in the middle of no where all day, to see a town only to realize that there's nothing there either...

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    And then back to this.

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    #5
  6. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Day 4;
    Wednesday 7-18

    Journal entry;

    What a day...
    I left that nice little motel next to the Pigly Wigly in TN and made it through MS - but it wasn't easy. MS was at least half gravel and that was challenging. It got hot too. I pushed hard and did 250 miles, but western MS got scary. It was all black, very desolate and the nearest motel didn't want to deal with me. Fore seeing the potential for this, while riding near an interstate I found a cell signal and and called them. I asked how much a room was and was told "the night is still early, I'll have to pass" then was hung up on. It was dark and getting late. I hadn't eaten all day and I was getting worried. At the same time the bugs started coming out... they swarmed on me so bad that I had to keep walking while putting in my clear goggle lense. Even after I was on the bike, they'd swarm at the headlight and I could hear them bouncing off the bike and helmet like pop corn!

    I rode into AR to where the motel info on the roll chart was (but was crossed out). It was also pretty scary so I went back to a large casino at the MS/AR border. They were freindly and the room was only $31. At this point I was hungry, shaken and in pain from a long, hard day of riding. I put some icy hot on the sore spots, ate some food from my pack and drank some brandy. It's about 11:00 now and I'll be getting a shower and going to bed soon... I'm just glad it's not on the side of the road with those bugs!

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    Now this pics and commentary...


    This is pretty much what I expected this area to look like. It didn't last long though....

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    Moments later I was in MS...

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    This is how much of the state went. Large gravel which would get really deep in spots. It was important to watch for the deep spots or you'd lose the front end.

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    I *really* hope there aren't any snakes in here!
    (BtW, it did get quite a bit deeper!!!)

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    It sure was nice to ride under this when it sprayed over the road...

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    I saw this field, it was many acres of these big, beautiful sun flowers.

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    There were some really great "gas stations" along the way. This may have been my favorite. This was there only pump. They also had a small general store with a pretty cute girl there...

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    Riding on top of a levee? Cool!

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    IIRC, this went on for 5 or 10 miles...

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    This is when you realize that despite it being dry and grassy right now, there is a levee here for a reason...

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    As the sun was setting, this is where I was... and finding that motel wasn't so easy...

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    #6
  7. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Day 5;
    Thursday 7-19

    Journal entry...
    Isle of Capri was nice and the buffet breakfast was a good choice. I never got over last night though- it really shook me. Being hungry, tired, in a strange place and having no where to go was just too much.

    I did 50 miles of Arkansasbut when the road was *not* passible, I melted down. With no GPS maps for AR, I got a map and decided to hit the state highway. It was a good choice. It's been scenic and pleasant, plus I should get through AR and OK faster. My rear tire is pretty shot though, it will make it for another few days... but not too many.
    I stopped at a post office and shipped some stuff I didn't need.

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    Now here's the pics...

    Morning at the Isle of Capri. Arkansas is just around the corner!

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    And there's Arkansas...

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    There no trash pick up in these rural parts so people burn there trash. Some times these fires are *really* big.

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    Another great bridge I got to cross

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    OK... the maps and GPS coordinates say I'm in the right place but this sure don't look like a road...

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    Well it used to be a road before the "bridge" collapsed. This was a truly nasty experience. The mud walls on each side were several feet high, the water wasn't moving and it *stank*... the musquitos sure loved it though :tard:

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    After waiting for this train for a while, I decided to stop and get lunch while it passed. It went on and on for a very, very long time. Every 1/2 hour or so another would go by!

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    While waiting for the next train to go by after lunch I noticed this sign. There were lots of great signs across thic country, this was just one...

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    A nice little post office to ship some stuff home...

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    Being in a largey agricultural areas, I occassionally got to see some of the hugh equipment used in the farms. Here was a John Deere dealer with some of the largest equipment you can buy. If you look, you can make out the stair case on the side to get in it!

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    This was some sort of wood mill. The stack of logs behind the office was the size of many houses. Back further int he yard there was a BIGGER pile and there were tractor trailers constantly delivering more!

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    Signs like this were at the entrance to each town. Populations like this were common...

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    #7
  8. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Day 6
    Friday, 7-20

    Journal Entry:

    Today I slept in, got some breakfast and felt great! The rest of Arkansas was excellent, I took a scenic hiway and it went through some large parks. I stopped at a car wash and cleaned the bike then finished the state. There was no other way to get through east Oklahoma so I took I40, this is my first time on an interstate my whole trip. I made it 100 miles to Henryetta. The town is *dead* but I got a room for $28 and ate at a Sonic. I plan to be in New Mexico by Sunday but will definitely need a new rear tire.

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    I really did enjoy this part of the trip. It was a nice change from the trial and much more liberating. Having to constantly watch your mileage and the next turn on the roll charts kind of took away from the trip at times... especially while soaking up the scenenry I realized that I missed a turn and was now off course. Now I was making my own way, with just a large state map. The problem with this is that I am riding a 350cc single, loaded down with 50-75lbs of gear and with a higher sprocket raito (for the mountain passes). Oklahoma would prove to be pretty sparse and in some places, I had to use the interstate. The speed limits here are 70mph, I was wound out doing 60mph. None-the-less, I enjoyed this part very much.
    Unfortunately the pics from Oklahoma aren't very exciting.... but be patient because as soon as I get to the end, it will get very very good ;)

    A new day. Leaving the motel and getting all my gear together after doing a little re-packing the night before...

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    Getting Arkansas off my bike...

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    Yes, it was pretty flat in spots but it was beautiful just the same!

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    This palce was "something else" (as my Dad would say). Notice the "Rebel Stuff" sign...

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    Welcome to Oklahoma

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    Wild cactus's growing on the side of the road! Living in PA my whole life, I've never seen *wild* cactus!!!!

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    #8
  9. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Day 7;
    Saturday 7-21

    Journal Entry:

    My night in Henryetta was odd but quiet. What a strange motel... it was the first time I kept my bear spray out. Everyone was very nice but just *so* odd. They looked part American Indian and part inbred...

    I continued down I40, had breakfast and headed to Oklahoma City to find a tire. I found one and talked ot a guy on a DL650. His wife had the dual front wheel Piaggio. Near OK City traffic got scary (too fast for my 350) so I got off at exit 166. I trucker gave me directions to the pan handle that went on state roads and were very nice. I found a motel in Woodward ($50) and a nice local cop chatted with me about the area. My GPS charger died earlier so I got to fixing it. I had to buy $20 worth of tools but managed to fix it (I hope). I have 200 miles of OK left then I'll do the New Mexico trail, I'll also need to put on that tire soon and change the oil. I just hope the Pirelli 120/90 isn't too big, unfortunately it's all the shop had.

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    Pics and commentary ;)

    Getting ready for a new day. You'll notice all my clothing and gear is white. I did this to help keep the sun off me, and I definitely needed it. It wasn't very hot (90's) but was *very* bright! I used SPF 50 and later 70 but being out in it all day was hard on the skin. The white clothing definitely helped. All the clothes I bought for the trip are also UV protective. They did get dirty fast but being mirofiber polyester they were easy to wash in the sink every night and dried very fast.

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    Cheap but a little scary...

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    "Down town"

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    I don't know how I made it this far in life without one of these!

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    New tire.... install will be fun!

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    Hmmm... I wonder what this store used to be?

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    Another "down town" (Woodward I think)

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    GPS repair...

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    To the right is the broken choke coil. It's not necessary, it just cleans up the charging current. I just bypassed it by soldering over where it used to be (that's what I'm pointing to with the screwdriver).

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    #9
  10. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Day 8;
    Sunday 7-22

    Journal entry:

    I made it to Boise city today (~200 miles, OK/NM border). I got here around 4:30 and thought about heading into NM but stopped for some maintenance. At first I thought the bike was having issues as it was losing power.... it turns out it was a rediculously strong head wind that lasted for a couple hundred miles! That certainly explains all the wind mills. So I got a room ($45) and changed the oil and filter, cleaned the air filter and swapped the rear tube & tire. I saved the old tube, just in case. No luck finding a new spark plug unfortunately. I did find a tire shop and I'll drop off the old tire there tomorrow.

    Now I have to do laundry & re-pack, tomorrow I plan to do New Mexico and a chunk of Colorado. I checked my finances and with staying in motels every night money may run short. It also figures that work is having problems with direct deposit and they are issuing paper checks! The first time in 7 years and it's while I'm away, figures. Hopefully I can start camping soon but the air conditionaing, showers and beds sure have been nice.

    I'm anxious to get back on the trail but I really enjoyed my ride on the road. Even the descolet pan handle was very interesting. One thing is for sure, more adventure is ahead! I think I'm finally over my fear of being alone (and home sickness), I'm really having fun now.

    The tire fit fine- the 120 is a little tight but fine. The install was easy too (~1.5 hours) and both tubes survived (I think).

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    Pics & commnetary...

    Trust me I felt no pain.

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    I tried to take advantage of Motel ice machines when they had it. The insualted Camelbak worked very well and would keep the water cool almost all day.

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    Oil was big business here (again). There were plenty of wells being drilled, motels booked by the men drilling them and places that did the work...

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    Oh yes, this sign was so good I had to run around to get a pic of it!

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    It was difficult to get a shot of this wind farm that showed how large it was. Seen in the pic below is about 1/4 of it. It was good to see that an area with this much wind was taking advantage of it.

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    The first abandoned house I got to check out...

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    Hitting reserve was a little intimidating here. I did have a larger aftermarket tank (4.2 gal) but this is the middle of no where.

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    Allow me to demonstrate what I mean by "middle fo no where"...

    In front of me...
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    Back...
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    It's time for a tire change. Here's all the tools you need.
    Note the use of the camelbak and motel soap to lube the tube & tire to get them to slip on.

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    New tire mounted...

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    And it's back together.
    This was an abandoned gravel lot across the street from the motel. I worked near the trailer for some shade (while the sun was still up). Unfortunately it was a horse trailer and it stank pretty bad. Luckily there were plenty of tractor trailer tires in the weeds around it for me to use...

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    #10
  11. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Day 9
    Monday 7-23

    Journal Entry:

    With the bike in good shape after yesterdays tune up, I made it into Colorado. I dropped off the old tire and paid $1 for the shop to dispose of it. With mediocre maps and no GPS coordiantes, finding the trail again was tough. I found it but was unsure for a long time. At one point I ended up with the cows and thought for sure a yound one was going to charge me! Plenty were in the roads too. Finally after a non-stop 7 hour, 150 mile trip I found a room in Trinidad. There's a NRA meet going on so I had to look but found one for $50. I found a spark plug and a movie theater so I saw Transformers, it was great! No Sprint service here either so I got a calling card and called Laura. She got my paycheck so I won't have to worry about money. Since everything is still posted private property I guess I'll still be staying at motels.
    She is a great girl and I really do miss her.

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    Pics & Commentary

    Nearing the end of Oklahoma...... now where is the trail?

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    I may be the only person to ever ride cross-country, off road while dressed business casual ;)

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    This is a cattle gaurd. They were *everywhere*. It's a bunch of pieces of ~2" steel tubing welded to some sort of improvised frame. There's about a 6" gap between it and the ground. Since cows have hooves, they can't walk acrossed them. This keeps them in the farm but allows you to drive across it without having to open/close a gate.... and you'll get to see plenty of "gates" when I get to Utah and Nevada.

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    For much of the rest of the country there was nothing separating the livestock from the roads. This was awkward because sometimes they didn't want to move, other wimes they'd wait until you were right by them and then they'd run right on in front of you.

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    The trail can get a little "rustic" in spots...

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    It can also get washed out and filled with deep ruts

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    This was a tough part of the trail to find. Luckily some nice local made a little wooden signs and wrote "Biker Route" on it, pointing in the right direction. It was very nice of them.

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    This was my first mountain pass. It went on like this for a few miles. The terrain was really tough and slow. There was also a fairly vertical drop off the side loaded with big rocks and cactus.

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    #11
  12. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Days 10 & 11;
    Tuesday 7-24 AND Wednesday 7-25:

    Some of these days were very grueling and at the end of the day I couldn't even find dinner. I was sore, tired and sometimes wet and or cold. Needless to say, I didn't always feel like writing in my journal. Tuesday 7-24 was one of those days. There are however many pics from every day. They are below and I will separate Tuesday from Wednesday.

    Journal Entry, written Wednesday 7-25;

    Yesterday was a long day. I didn't eat well and couldn't find dinner so I set up camp at a camp ground ($15) in a beautiful spot, had some percs and a couple drinks- then went to sleep. I also lost the butt pad! I went back a ways to find it but it was gone...

    Today I started early and rode all day. It rained a bit... I got a little lost... then the GPS got me REALLY lost! After I found myself in a filed of sheep I turned around and rode until I found some signs. It was a demanding ride over Cinnamon pass, in the wet but I made it. It was late but I made it into Lake City around 8:00- almost a 12 hour ride. Every motel in town was booked, except one. He had 2 rooms and I ended up in room 13. The room was $86... while I was at it I got a flask of Hennessy, which I'm enjoying right now- just to spite Morgan.
    I also met 3 guys on DR400's who maintain the park roads. They're part of the "OHV Crew, Salida". They were park employees. Check out the axe on the one guys boke!

    I also changed the spark plug today, the bike is running great but my cigarette lighter plug keeps coming loose.
    PS. I got up to 11.5K feet elevation and it was probably in the 40's. I also got to se eplenty of animals on the road!

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    Pics & comments, Tuesday 7-24;

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    This old church was in great shape.

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    Some of the mud & straw siding was even still on it

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    Sometimes the ruts got deep. You could go pretty fast between them but if you ended up in one, it could be trouble

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    This time I got caught up in one. It was up past the rim and the bike didn't want to get out of it. After almost dropping it, I just decided to stop and lift the bike out of it.

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    BTW, the cut on my nose was from some big-@ss bug!!!

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    Elevation check... going up!

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    The fire department...

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    Not exactly what I had in mind for dinner... but at least I slept well. Unfortuantely with *nothing* anywhere near here there was no food to be had. The best I could do was some trail mix from my pack and chocolate milk from the camping store.

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    #12
  13. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Day 11 pics...
    Pics and commentary for Wednesday, 7-25;

    A cattle gaurd before a forrest of birch trees

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    With the elevation getting higher, I figured this would be a good time to check on my spark plug and put the new one in...

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    A little dark but not too bad...

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    Elevation goes up, temps go down. It's a good thing I brought the heavy coat

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    OHV Crew, Salida. These were really cool, if not strange guys.

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    Note the axe. One end was bolted to the engine, the other bungie cord'd to the back.

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    some weather moving in...

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    The weather didn't get any better

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    Definitely not any better

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    This was a common site, it was just difficult to get a pic of before they all ran away

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    #13
  14. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Day 12;
    Thursday; 7-26

    Journal Entry;

    OK, I admit it's actually friday... I was just too tired last night. When I woke up I was still drained - I planned to take it easy but then I realised that I did NOT do Cinnamon Pass on Wednesdy, that was on TODAYS roll chart!! It was one of the toughest parts and I had to go. There were actually 3 passes, all incredibly tough. It was cold, wet and there were many large puddles... not to mention Jeeps and quads. The passes were all very steep and winding. They were also skinny and loaded with large rocks. I got close to 14,000 feet and muscling the bike with that little air was hard. It made me tired (more tired) fast... the bike didn't like it either. As the altitudes got high it began to stall easily and ran like crap. The mid range was dead and the idle very weak. The top end (over 5K) was still strong, though it did pop a little, especially on declines using engine braking. It took me a good part of the day to get out of the passes, partly because I got lost. I did however get to explore a little cave at Engineer pass and some old mining ruins. Then I was totally spent. Silverton was the closest town so I ot a late lunch and looked for a room... there wer enone available anywhere. Durange was ~50 miles away so I went there. I got a room ($81) and was pretty close to Monticello, UT where I will pick up the trail again.

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    Pics and commentary...

    Colorado was way too full of rich, Californian & Texan tourists for me. Here's a bunch renting quads and Jeeps to see the pass's.

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    4wd was necessary. Even the jeeps had a hard time here

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    12,400' and climbing

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    Being top heavy has it's disadvantages.... especially in tight U-turns to get pics of a little cave

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    It was ~15' deep but there wasn't anything in there...

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    #14
  15. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Day 13;
    Friday, 7-27

    Journal entry;

    I slept in and got a good breakfast. I needed a break after the mountain pass's and today I got it. Durango is a decent sized town so I went to ACE hardware to get some lost nuts & bolts. I also found a RadioShack to get 2 more 1 gig cards. I've already got a 1 gig and two 512 meg cards full! It was only ~100 miles to Monticello, UT so I took it easy but was watching heavy rain and clowds all day. I also found a NAPA where I got feeler blades in case I feel like adjusting my valves some day. I had to put on the rain suit a couple times but only got hit with mild rain. There were heavy storms here and there but I never went through them. When I got to Monticello I found a car wash and a motel ($51). The bike needed the bath! I was happy to get CO off the bike and to be out of there. It was beautiful and challenging but too touristy, expensive and in parts, fake. Despite that almost no bikers wave, I did meet some cool guys and hope to hear from one of them on ADVRider.
    Like usual there's no cell phone service here but I have a phone card and a phone in the room. With a 2 hour difference it's too late to call Mom to check in, I'll do that in the morning- I'm going to call Laura then go to bed... Tomorrow I'm back on the trail!!!

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    Every state I went through I picked up a state road map. Even if I was just ojn the trial, it was nice to be able to tell where you were on a large map. It also made it easy to plot a course on the road. The compass was a gift from my Mother a few years ago, I'm not sure how old it is but I'd guess 1920's or 1930's. it's probably the best compass I've ever had. It was tied with a piece of fishing string to a heart my GF made me when we first started dating, she is a wood worker.

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    This guy's definitely got more trust in a tupperware container and some bungie cords then I do...

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    Funny thing about being in these large open areas is that you can see the weather a long, long time before you get to it... :(

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    I make this rain suit look hawt ;D

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    I left with about 3,800 miles. Here I am at ~6,600. Note that I'm pretty wound out at 60mph. Needless to say that with most speed limits being 70-75mph, I tried really hard to stay off the highways.

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    #15
  16. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Day 14;
    I make this rain suit look hawt ;D

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    I left with about 3,800 miles. Here I am at ~6,600. Note that I'm pretty wound out at 60mph. Needless to say that with most speed limits being 70-75mph, I tried really hard to stay off the highways.

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    Back on the trail...

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    There's really a lot of mining in Utah, as you will see ;)
    Note the "Blasting at Unscheduled Times" sign...

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    GRRRRRR!!!!

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    #16
  17. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Journal Entry for Days 15 & 16; Monday, 7-30

    Yesterday I made it from Green River to Richfield. There were some intense canyons, washouts and mountain passes. I got lost at one point and wound up on a mountain where many of the passes were washed out so bad you could actually see down through them in spots! I also dropped the bike again after trying to go over 2 steep rocks ~6' apart with nothing but sand in between. I was only doing ~2 MPH when it went down... Sam's bypass around the sand & rocks was wrong so I took 70 most of the way to Richfield.

    I got some more memory cards and a room ($42). There was more rain so the bike needed a bath. There was a car wash nearby so I washed it and got back to do a little maintenance. I adjusted the valves and went to clean the spark plug... and it broke off flush with the head!!! For bout 30 seconds I wondered if this was the end of the road.... before I started tearing the head off. It took ~3 hours. Today I got up at 7:00 and by 8:00 I was looking for a shop. I found a welder who butchered the hole... then I took it to a Honda dealership acress the street (Jorgensen Honda). By around noon they had it heli-coiled. I immediately got to work. I got cleaners, sealants, wire brushes and a new spark plug. All together it cost me ~$100 plus another night here and I lost a day. I had to re-use the head gasket so I cleaned it real good and put on 2 coats of Permatex copper. I marked the cam chain but it slipped. Tony looked up the timing marks- but the rotor cover would *not* budge! I had to roll it over by pushing the bike in gear. There was also some confusion over a "missing" split washer. I unded up pulling the clutch cover looking for it. The whole time "Ricky the Retard" (some idiot who was staying there) was heckling me about his 7 speed 175 dirt bike that ate 200's and got such rediculous mileage.

    By 11:00 it was together and I went for a ride. All was well... but then there was a metallic grinding noise... and I realized that I forgot to tighten the god **** cam sprocket bolts!!!! I hope to fix that early and still make it to those ghost towns- but I'll probably skip the trail so I can test the bike on-road. Hopefully I'll be in Nevada (or close) tomorrow night. But for now at least I have Krispy Kreme and Corona :)

    PS. The motel owner has been super cool about me working on my bike here.

    --------------------------------------------------------

    And now the part you've been waiting for... the pics!

    Here are pics from day 15...

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    We all have certain words that touch our hearts.... "old mines", radioactive, abandoned and explosives are all pretty high on my list. If they through in industrial and wasteland, it would have been home sweet home for donniej...

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    Just an accidental shot that I like very much...

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    A video of this area is coming....

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    --------------------Day 16------------------


    Here we go....

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    The broken, threaded part of the plug still in there. When I cranked the engine over before taking the head off, the rest of the electrode shot out like a gun shot. Luckily it hit the over hang and not the window!

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    Here's the welding shop making it worse...

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    But luckily this was a decent sized town and these guys were just down the road...

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    #17
  18. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    It was rediculous how much had to come off to remove the head.... the starter, exhaust, motor mounts and *tons* of little stuff. The table in the motel room seemed like the logical choice of where to put them. Needless to say, I didn't think it was wise to let room servie in that morning...

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    In all my life, I will never get sick of this line in this situation...

    "Alas, poor Urich. Horatio, I knew him well"

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    I really hated re-using the head gasket but I didn't have much choice. I used to know a guy who re-used them all the time and used this stuff on them. It worked for him so I gave it a shot...

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    While I was at it I made a new cam chain tensioner gasket. Unfortunately my Gerber Diesel was the best tool I had for the job...

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    Oh boy. 3,000 miles from home and I'm going to ride what across the desert wasteland tomorrow?!?!?

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    Parts are all on, let's hope for the best...

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    #18
  19. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Day 17. Tuesday; 7-31

    Journal entry:

    I woke up around 7:00- I was still very tired but there was work to do! I pulled the side covers, seat, tank, upper motor mount and valve cover. I imemdiately noticed what looked like a needle bearing just laying there agianst the cam chain. I found a hole nearby that it fit perfectly in but after inserting it relaized that I just plugged an oil passage. I cranked the engine and the oil pressure popped it out. I then noticed that the cam/sprocket alignment dowel was missing! It was the part! I tightened the cam bolts, put it all together and went for a ride. It went OK but now acts like its starving for fuel on the highway. Ipm pretty sure while it was apart some junk got into the carb. It was however good enoughso I packed the bike and was on my way by 10:30. It was ~200 miles to NV and most of it was surprisingly bare. There was *nothing* for 90 miles to Baker, NV and there ain't much here! There was a ghost town though and that's exactly why I came this way. I think it was Frisco. I got to explore some ruins and an old mine shaft. It was definitely worth the trip. In Baker, I got a room ($54) and dinner then rode 7 miles to the nearest pay phone. Laura was upset and misses me a lot. I miss her very uch too- I'm very lucky to have such a great woman.

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    Pics & commentary...

    I really, really don't like this. I just did all this work, in less-than-ideal conditions and now I'm going to rely on this machine to take me through some rough and descolet areas. Will the head gasket hold? Did I miss anything? Was the heli-coil properly installed? Will the junk in the carb get worse? These are all thiings that need to be considered.

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    Like I said, descolet...

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    "Next Services 83 Miles". There was *nothing* on this road. No cars, no trucks... just me and the sky.

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    I saw this down a dirt road off the "highway". I had to check it out. It appeared to had been abandoned a long time ago...

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    Down the road a ways, there was this place. There were a few coorugated steel shacks and this old steam boiler. It was mostly intact but the fire box was no where to be seen.

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    Not too far away were some old Indian ruins. There was a fence around it but it was falling apart. I guess it was just to keep the animals out...

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    This was definitely one of my favorite parts of the whole trip... an old mine. The opening was well covered over but still passable. Most mines were blocked off or blown up but this one was still open. This is no game though and there are certian things to keep in mind. I was in the middle of no where, by myself and if anything happens then donniej is toast. Keeping this in mind, I was cautious and only went in a straight line. The tunnel branched off but I couldn't chance getting lost. I also carried 3 flashlights with me.

    Right at the entrance was this. I have no idea what it is but it was definitely mid-late 1800's and was in great shape, the pics do not do it justice.

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    These rail road ties were up in the ceiling. I have no idea what they were there for.

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    At the end of this seciton of the shaft was this ladder... What was up in the level above? I had to find out, my curiosity was on fire.... I began up the ladder and got ~2 steps up when the 'smart' side of my brain protested with all it had. Here I am about to climb a ladder that is most likely from the turn of the last century. If I fall, no one will find my body for years. I simply could not take that big of a risk. Even as I sit here today I burn inside wanting to go back to go up that ladder.

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    About 50' or so from the entrance on my way back. This is the entrance. No joke fella's.... without a flashlight, you are *screwed*.

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    This is what most entrances look like. I would tap on the boards and it usually sounded like they were also filled in with dirt and rock. Sometimes they'd also used steel doors.

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    But after a while I was out of stuff to explore and was on my way.

    Along the way I found this recently dried lake bed. There were lots of dried lake beds but this one was fresh. There was plenty of vegetation and if you look, you'll see a heard of deer grazing.

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    This is the other end of the dried lake bed... I think... it may be a different one nearby?

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    You could just see this from the road that went from the "Great Basin National Park" to the town.
    I have no idea what this car was. It was only the sheet metal, everything else was gone. I got plenty of pics of it, very creative use of a cow carcus... the top half anyway.

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    #19
  20. Donniej

    Donniej Das ist ein uBeR n00b!!1!

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    94
    Location:
    Philadelphia, PA
    Day 18
    Wednesday, 8-1

    Journal Entry;

    I woke up early and had soem granola and coffee at the Lectrolux then headed out. I found the trail pretty fast but got bored of it just as quickly. It covered lots of miles but didn't go anywhere. After some mountain passes and deep gravel I dubbed NV as "Utah light" and decided to find a road map. I got one at the lunch spot and decided to head to Ely and Eureka. NV is a big, baren place and all the towns are small, they're also all 70 miles apart. I got gas in Ely and headed to Eureka. ~40 miles into it the rain came. It rained a little every day since CO but mid way to Eureka it RAINED!!! It came down hard and the wind made it sting so bad I had to ride with my hand over my mouth. Finally I made it to Eureka when the pea-to-marble sized hail started!! Luckily that didn't last long but the rain got fierce.

    I looked for a room but both motels were booked solid. The next town over was Austin (70 miles) so I waited for the rain to die down and I got on my way. It was really cold (65*F) with the rain so I look for a spot to camp instead.... Everything was too muddy and I got stuck on a small hill/ditch. So after I dragged the bike out on its sideI kept towards Austin. After ~20 miles the weather improved and I made decent time. Of 3 motels 1 was already booked and I took the last room in the second. It was $38, looked kind of shitty outside but is very nice inside. I looked for a pay phone but there are NONE in this town, no cell service either. After my long (300-350 miles) I settled in to dry off and warm up. Some dinner, TV, Heinikin and a couple pain killers hit the spot.

    The bike is doing well. It's running good and still starves for fuel a little at high speeds but seems to have worked most of it out. I am however getting bored of NV. The weather has been a bit cool, there's still the daily threat of rain but mostly the geography is challengine but un-rewarding. I may take the roads to Oregon if I don't see anything on Sams maps.... I just hope my rear tire can handle it.

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    Pics and commentary...

    This place was nice but I think they tried too hard to by cute & artsy. It was however nice to be able to get some breakfast other than pancakes or eggs.

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    Back on the trail...

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    Abandoned mine shafts were still common but were usually filled in. I'm not sure if this one was filled in but there sure was enough trash in the bottom to keep me out.

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    And the rain comes....

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    #20