Sunday, October 20, 2019

Friday October 18 - Zombie Airport

OK, my flights today did not go well..
Being a tightwad, I bought the cheapest flight home I could find which means I ended up with 4 flights (a new record). If you took a probability course along the way, you might guess that the chances of something going wrong increase with the number of flights.
Hotel was fine and sure enough I asked the nice lady at the front desk for a shuttle and she called someone. While I waited I re-hydrated with juice and coffee at the conti bar, and a local guy picked me up and whisked me to the airport. My first flight was at 8:30 and I was there by 6:30, no lines, so plenty of time to read, people watch, drink coffee. First flight Tucson to Chicago went fine, nice chatting with a young college student going to a neuroscience conference. Second flight (Chicago to Laguardia) not so good. Had a nice chat with a crazy NYC woman while we sat on the runway for an hour getting to the bottom of why NYC people dress in black and lean finance. Got to NYC too late to catch my NYC to Philly flight so I found an American Airlines desk and asked them what was next and the not nice lady told me I was out of luck and I would have to buy a new ticket for the next morning to get home. What!! Your crummy airline made me late! So after arguing with her for 15 minutes, I called Deb and she tried to buy me a ticket (easier on a laptop than crummy wifi on a cellphone) using frequent flyer miles, but the website would not let her pay, so she gave me the info and I went back to the AA desk. A new nice young man was there and he tried getting the ticket from his end and they said I had to call an 800 number to complete the sale, which I did, which ended up in auto-bot hell because the computer thought I was already on the plane (the one I just missed) so did not seem to understand why I wanted another flight. Meanwhile Deb was calling American Airlines to try and push it from her end and the bad lady ended her shift. The next thing I knew, the nice young man handed me two boarding passes for the next morning at 6am, no charge. What??
5636 miles
So by then it seemed silly to get a room so what the heck, lets sleep in the airport tonight. I went to my gate for the next morning and started one of the two books I had brought (and never had time to read on the trip) and watched the airport slow down as the last incoming flights trickled to a stop around 12:30 am. Around 1:00 am I realized that I was pretty much the only person there except the cleaning folks and one woman from Colombia in the same situation as I was in. Around this time a friendly TSA guy came and told us we had to leave. What?? And go where, out on the street? No, you can go to the food court. What? There is a food court this time of night? So me and the Colombian woman left the terminal and sure enough the big central food court was open and about 100 other stranded zombies were there. What a non-festive place. Most were trying to sleep, cranky kids, people crashed on the floor, drooped over tables, talking in their sleep. The one bright spot was the cheery woman running the Au Bon Pain place who told me they were open 24/7 with coffee, juice, pastries (best to keep those zombie stomachs full). So Friday night in the zombie airport.
My book soaked the time up and around 4:00 am security re-opened, I got all my stuff x-rayed again and my next flight left promptly at 6:00 am to Philly. I slept all the way, got the last flight to Burlington and slept all the way on that one. Deb was waiting, got my bag from normal baggage claim (how did they figure that out?) and home and straight to bed. 4 hours sleep and off to a party (with coconut creme pie for my birthday cake, yum), home and bed.
The adventure after the adventure ends.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Thursday October 17 - Globe AZ to Tucson AZ

Excellent day and the last one. Motel 6 has coffee and the guy running was very nice. Ran it for 14 years, came from Malaysia, seems proud of his motel and it actually shows in how well maintained it is. Unusual for low end motels. The girl last night at the desk was Apache and had just moved off "the res" to work at the motel. She said there was just an annual Apache get together in town last weekend.
I had plenty of time today, but a lot of moving parts. I went across the street for Micky D's Egg McMuffin for breakfast and two Beemer guys from Colorado were there in full gear and nice new GSS1250's. They were a little taken aback that I had ridden all the way from VT. They had been out a week and were heading back to CO.
I had one missing link which was getting from the storage place to the hotel. I tried setting up and Uber account but ran into password hell so bagged it and decided to just walk it. I sent Uber a message telling them the problem. The a quick trip up to Roosevelt AZ where the Theodore Roosevelt Lake is. I assume it is water for Phoenix, but the road up there is beautiful and it was of course a beautiful day (another one). Lots of twisties and lovely views and no traffic and 70's. The turn around and head back toward Phoenix. As I hit the valley floor, the temperature shot up to the mid 90's and stayed there for the rest of the day. Cut south before I got to the city stuff and found
a mix of nothing scrub/desert and some large cotton fields and hay growing (thanks to irrigation). I tripped onto the spot where Tom Mix died in a car accident in 1940. Sounds like quite a character, living large. I stopped an hour north of Tucson and had a long leisurely coffee break. Uber fixed my account and I finished filling everything out, I made a reservation at the hotel near the airport (with shuttle service). So All I had to do was check at the motel after 3, leave everything I was taking home at the motel and load everything that was going to stay in storage on the bike, ride the bike to the storage place, roll it into the 5x8, oil the chain one last time, lock it up, talk to the nice ladies in the storage place office. A customer in the office used to drive for Uber so explained how it all. I waited on the corner watching the little Uber app car and talked to an older man who was waiting for a truck to show up with some steel. He was a welder and spoke little english, but told me all the different kinds of welding he did (heli-arc, tig, stick, etc). He said years ago he working on California welding up the Exxon Valdez tanker (before it crashed). So I successfully did my first Uber (I know, it's not that hard but, I can check that box..) The Uber guy did it part time and was very pleasant.
So another trip comes to an end. The Kawasaki X300 is awesome. It has been in all 48 lower states. Total miles was 5636 and averaged 332 miles per travelling day. I ended up with too much time but used it doing a big loop around Arizona. Time to go home..

Odometer beginning of trip = 35820
Odometer beginning of day = 41247
Odometer end of day = 41456
Miles today = 209
Miles on trip to date = 5636
Travel days = 17
Zero days = 2
Average miles per traveling day = 332

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Wednesday October 16 - Benson AZ to Globe AZ

Busy day. First stop was the Tucson Kawasaki dealer, nice big shop, so they are good with me coming back in March and doing a service, maybe a new front tire before I head back east. The I headed for Biosphere 2. A not so nice little bee decided to hop a ride in my helmet and stung me in the ear so I did the classic pull to the side of the road (I10 interstate) while whacking the side of my helmet. I could not find him and feared the worse (he hid down in my shirt somewhere), but he soon came crawling out of my helmet and wandered off down the side of my tank bag. Back into traffic and part way to Biosphere 2 I decided to backtrack back to get the storage place figured out and to find a motel with airport shuttle Friday morning. Storage guys were very friendly and helpful. Sugars out to $38 a month with $25 setup, so pretty reasonable. Nice nice folks.
Then down the street to a motel close to the airport (I can almost walk to it from the storage place), and good to go there. Feels good to have that all setup.
Now, off to the Biosphere north of Tucson. Univ of Arizona now owns it and they have a nice 1-1/2 hr tour of the insides, even the mechanical rooms underneath it (thing fans, pumps, tanks, vents, computers, etc). Good tour for an engineer. Then north another 100 miles to Globe. The temps were in the 90's today but dropped 15-20 degrees as the sun set and I came down the mountain and into Globe. I have stayed in Globe before so I knew a good Mexican place I could walk to. Irene's did not disappoint with an $8 Fajita special and a cold beer. I am pooped and I think it is time to go home.

Odometer beginning of trip = 35820
Odometer beginning of day = 41033
Odometer end of day = 41247
Miles today = 214
Miles on trip to date = 5427
Travel days = 16
Zero days = 2
Average miles per traveling day = 339

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Tuesday October 15 - Silver City NM to Benson AZ

It was 45 when I got up. I watched some kind of bug crawl across the floor this morning, just to say "Good Morning!". Gotta start working on some better hotels..
All they had this morning was coffee (or rather something brown) so I packed up early and went down the street to a McDonald's and had some breakfast there. Deb called so we caught up while I sipped my coffee. Next door to a gas station where I checked the tire pressure (perfect) and added a little oil since I had noticed it dropping a bit the last week. Not surprised because I have been working this bike pretty hard day after day. I put it in storage in two days and then pick it back up next March when I get a service, oil and maybe a new front tire.
The ride down out of the mountains was very pleasant with almost no traffic. Nice mix of conifers and sage brush. The at Lordsburg I head west on I10, which I was on not that many days ago. Since I got ahead, I am ending up doing a giant loop around Arizona and New Mexico and then back to Tucson. I was originally going to cut the corner down through Rodeo on Rt 80, but when G-Maps said 90 miles to the
next turn, I decided it was a little too desolate and I might have better roads if I crossed the first mountain range that I could see to the west. So back on I10 for another bit and off at Wilcox and then due south. From here down to the Mexican border it was you usual dry grassland but then I started running into big irrigated ag crops and a gigantic dairy which looked like a factory. They were cutting corn and hay down here so they must have gotten water from somewhere. All kinds of signs about flooding so they must get it during the monsoon season and it gets stored in the aquifer somehow.
I hit Douglas which is a much bigger town than I had imagined. The north to Bisbee and a lunch stop at Jimmy's hot dog stand (Deb will remember it). Has not changed a bit. Then a lap through Bisbee (nothing has changed there) and\ then on to Sierra Vista. Sierra Vista is also a good sized town (bigger than Douglas) and there is a military base nearby which feeds it. Then north to Benson where it is laundry night. I caught some sox halfway to the dumpster this morning..
Odometer beginning of trip = 35820
Odometer beginning of day = 40737
Odometer end of day = 41033
Miles today = 296
Miles on trip to date = 5213
Travel days = 15
Zero days = 2
Average miles per traveling day = 348

Monday, October 14, 2019

Monday October 14 - Flagstaff AZ to Silver City NM

It was mid 30's when I woke up this morning, but the temperature rises pretty quickly out here once the sun comes up. I walked the 1/2 mile to my favorite coffee shop, Macy's European Coffee House. I got a large cup and sat in quiet bliss for half an hour. Light traffic in Macy's, students are already in class. The walk back warmed me up a bit and by the time I got packed and handed in the key, it was already 50 degrees. Today I am aiming for Silver City NM. I have been there before a couple times and it is just a bit over 300 miles, and it will be warm tomorrow morning. One last run through Flagstaff (seems bigger and busier than last trip) and then back on Rt 40 east. I gassed up a couple times today since places are fairly far apart, so any opportunity I can get. Interstate to Holbrook and then south on Rt 180, which I spent the rest of the day on. Today was a day of contrasts with interstate followed by open empty grasslands followed by big mountain sweepers. I thought it was going to be just flat and dry all day but not so.
I got gas in Holbrook and a guy who passed me twice this morning on a Triumph twin. We chatted for a half hour. He is a motorcycle mechanic for Los Angeles Police Dept and the have a fleet of police motorcycles. I told him my early dream was
to be a motorcycle mechanic, but he says it's a competitive job market. He is in a good spot where he is and these days the Police Dept has fleet contracts and they go back and forth between Harley's, BMW's, and bigger Japanese bikes. The used bike get sold to Mexico and when the Mexicans wear them out, they go further south. He says they have Harleys down there pushing 300K miles. He is going from LA to Texas on his Triumph. Nice guy.
After a couple hours of riding across horizon to horizon empty grass/desert, I stopped in Springerville AZ for coffee and next door was an auto parts store, so I bought a can of Fix-A-Flat for some piece of mind. If I did not bring a spare tube or tire irons this trip, so I'll go for the piece of mind. A woman from Columbia (South America) and her mother or aunt chatted me up in the parking lot. She belongs to a large motorcycle club in Columbia and they do tours in Central and South America. She showed me pictures of their last tour to Mexico. Big bikes!
I was expecting more empty grassland, but was pleasantly surprised when it turned to a long steady climb over a 8800' pass and then over the Continental Divide. Lots of
coniferous trees with the accompanying scents. Wonderful wonderful afternoon. I stopped in Alpine which looks like a pretty healthy mountain town, albeit remote. Felt like being in the Rockies.
Then a long decent into Silver City and a hotel. Chatted with a guy riding with his wife from Florida to Texas (the long way). He was retired and had been through a few large bikes. His wife loves riding on the back so he was a little envious of my small bike.
Found a local place with a bar, beer, Cobb salad and Green Bay football game. Chatted up a construction guy who had been in town 10 months building a retirement complex in town. All in all a surprisingly nice day. Not sure where tomorrow.

Odometer beginning of trip = 35820
Odometer beginning of day = 40415
Odometer end of day = 40737
Miles today = 322
Miles on trip to date = 4917
Travel days = 14
Zero days = 2
Average miles per traveling day = 351

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sunday October 13 - Needles CA to Flagstaff AZ

I looked at what parks I could make it to without freezing and Utah was a bit too cold, but Grand Canyon looked to be the perfect destination today. It was pretty warm when I left Needles and I took a different route back toward Arizona than yesterday coming in. Temperatures were great topping out in the upper 70's today. Again, there was more traffic than I thought, which was ok. Not too much. There are more people living up here in these remote towns than there used to be. My first time through there was 1976 with my buddy Pete on a couple beat bikes. We came through Needles way back and and rode across here at night because it was going to be too hot during the day. We slept at picnic areas back then (poor, dumb and broke) but it was an adventure.
Rt 40 goes right through Needles so it was directly onto Rt 40 from the motel (after some so so coffee).
Nice cool clear day and stopped in Kingman for more coffee and gas. I have been pretty careful with gas since there are stretches with none. I did notice gas in California was over $4 per gallon and tonight in Flagstaff it is above $3 per gallon. I assume CA has high taxes, not sure what's up with AZ. Lowest gas I have seen this trip is $2.15 or so down south.
The turn to Grand Canyon is a little confusing because there are three exits labeled Grand Canyon. Topped off the tank again so I could make it all the way to the park and then back out the east side and to Flagstaff without a stop. Good thing I did because the eastern entrance has not much for services (Indian reservations).
Used the Senior Park Pass ($30 cha-ching) and there were more people than I anticipated for this time of year. But it was a beautiful day and people were in good spirits. I parked the bike and stipped to shorts and a t-shirt (and boots) so I looked like a hiker. Grand Canyon always overwhelms you when you see it. Gigantic and beautiful, especially today with clear sunny weather. Lots of foreign tourists and lots of retired folks. I took lots of group pics for folks which is always appreciated. I took and hour and hiked the Rim Trail a half hour one way and then a half hour plus the other way. Felt good to hike. Back on woth the bike dudus and headed out the east entrance to the park. The landscape was open and beautiful and the sun dropped fast so that by the time I got to Flagstaff, it was dark and cold. Dinner down the street at a pub type place which ad great burgers and good local beer. Good day!

Odometer beginning of trip = 35820
Odometer beginning of day = 40073
Odometer end of day = 40415
Miles today = 342
Miles on trip to date = 4595
Travel days = 13
Zero days = 2
Average miles per traveling day = 353

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Saturday October 12 - Casa Grande AZ to Needles CA

Double events today. I made it to Nevada so I can now say this bike has been to all of the lower 48 states in the US. And the Odometer rolled over 40,000 miles today. Kinda early start since Arizona is an extra hour late (3 hrs from home). After seeing the Phoenix Bypass sign yesterday and talking to the waitress last night about Phoenix traffic (even on Saturday), I headed the few miles back south and took 8 west 60 miles to the Rt 85 bypass. It seemed way out of the way so I might have been ok riding through Phoenix, but it turned out to be a good road with lots of cactus and
rock formation to look at. The east on Rt10 and then what turned out to be a real nice road north (Rt93) to Rt10. I love the Arizona rock formations and cactus. I smelled sage and or mesquite all day. The roads were a little busy which puts my mind at ease when riding solo. I do need to start packing water. The bike ran flawlessly again and I did the math in my head and I could buy 4 or 5 of these X300's for what I would have to pay to replace my BMW R100RT. And this bike is far easier to maneuver and I can go up goat paths and I can pick this bike up and it fist my "go slow" philosophy that drives other riders nuts. Looks like solo trips for me from here on out.
I rode through Kingman AZ which my daughter Hannah and I had stopped in some years back. We ended up in the historic part of town and never realized there was a bigger more modern part of town. This part of Arizona is more developed than I had thought, which gave me a nice feeling (I am sure there are Kawasaki shops around).
Then Rt 68 over a beautiful mountain range and a long decent down the other side to the Colorado River and into Nevada. Laughlin, NV is a casino / gambling town, very flashy like a small Las Vegas (yuck). Bullhead City is on the east shore ov the river and has no casinos but appears to take some overflow people (shops, restaurants, hotels). There are also a lot of fancy housing developments here and the views are tremendous. I wandered around some hillside building lots and took in some nice views. The Colorado River is not that big here and I saw irrigation going on (green fields of frsh mowed and baled hay). Never did figure out how they divvy the water up..
Due south to Needles and called it quits. The good Mexican restaurant was slowed (TripAdvisor#1) and the #2 place was a Jack-In-The-Box, which tells you something, so I found a small Mexican place (not on TripAdvisor) which was pretty good. Good day. Not sure where to go tomorrow since my mission is done.
Odometer beginning of trip = 35820
Odometer beginning of day = 39725
Odometer end of day = 40073
Miles today = 348
Miles on trip to date = 4253
Travel days = 12
Zero days = 2
Average miles per traveling day = 354