September, 1987

16 August
1 September
Great Falls
Lake Louise
Grand Coulee
Dry Falls
Walla Walla
(no riding)
Walla Walla
(no riding)
Walla Walla
(no riding)
Walla Walla
(no riding)
Green River

Earlier this summer a friend at work asked me where I was going to go on my next motorcycle trip. I really hadn't given it much thought, but since the place has intrigued me for awhile I said "Banff, Canada" without giving it any more thought than that. And thus, the destination for this trip was determined.

Once Banff was decided, the other locations fell right in place. I would be going through Montana so it made sense to look up the Kalals near Roy and Lewistown. Also, since I would exit Banff on the western side of the Rockies, a trip to Walla Walla made sense. And, for that reason it also seemed reasonable to pass through the Grand Coulee area since I would be near there, anyway. Beyond these locales, I had no real plans. As things turned out of course, that was all for the good. After all, if you don't have any plans to be somewhere you can hardly be too disappointed if you don't go there.

Before I started on this particular trip I went through a bit more preparation than usual--any preparation is more than usual. First off, I ordered several all-cotton long sleeve blue work shirts from Sears. Even though the sleeves were listed as being extra long, they were still too short for me. I very rarely wear short-sleeve shirts on the bike. Since I most always wear a jacket of some sort long sleeves are more comfortable. I then purchased several changes of all cotton underwear and even more pairs of the heaviest extra-long all cotton socks I could find.   I also put together a first aid kit to put in my tank bag. This kit is of the basic variety: I carry a roll of inch-wide tape, several 6"x6" sterile pads, a large roll of flexible gauze and a tube of antibiotic ointment. I only carry the things I might need to fix up abrasion type wounds (road rash) from a crash. Anything less would probably not be too serious anyway (so I don't even bother with band-aids) and for injuries beyond general abrasions I probably wouldn't be in any shape to apply first aid anyway. While I have had occasion to use these things, this trip was trouble free on that account.

I next made a trip to the local AAA office to pick up the maps I would need. I also picked up a Tour Guide as well as a Camping Guide for those areas, but as it turned, out these last two didn't get too much use.

And now for the trip.


I left Wichita around 6:00 Friday August 31. Up until that time I wasn't sure if I would be leaving Friday or wait until the next morning. But, since I was all ready; what the heck. I filled up the tank at Newell's Truck stop in Newton (about 20 miles north of Wichita).

There really aren't too many places to camp along I-70 in Kansas. I have camped a number of times at rest stops, but there are some disadvantages to that, so I decided to stay at a private camp ground in Russell instead. As a note here, some Kansans who live along the freeway refer to I-70 as the "Kansas sewer" for all the oddball people who use it as they drive across the country (and spend the night in the rest stops).

That night I cooked a dinner of chili along with canned peaches and English muffins with sliced cheese.  During this trip I relearned a lesson that never seems to stick: food, no matter how well packed, will eventually get out and spread over everything. This includes all packages except solid cans. Even the cans of fruit that I took with flip top lids leaked sticky juice over the bottom of my rear trunk (where I kept all food). The only reasonable way (at least on a motorcycle) to take food is to pack it in individual containers.


The next morning, after cooking a breakfast of oatmeal, I rode on west to Hays where I filled up the tank and was off again. I didn't stop the engine again until I reached Limon, Colorado, where the engine died on me for lack of fuel. I hadn't counted on the strong cross wind affecting my mileage as much as it did. After flipping the petcock on reserve I waited for the engine to catch (as I slowly coasted to a stop). Without going into detail about how, the bike actually has four different positions for the pair of petcocks, each combination giving me a bit more fuel.   Well the engine never did catch and so there I was at the side of the freeway (near Limon) thinking that this was a heck of a note to start a trip out on. After turning both petcocks on reserve and waiting a minute for the carburetor bowls to fill up, the engine did finally catch hold to take me on into Limon.  For the rest of the trip I never allowed my fuel to get so low that I would ever have to worry about running out of gas. Motorcycles as a rule do not have gas gauges. It's necessary to monitor your miles to know when to get gas.

From Limon I rode only about 20 miles before stopping at a rest stop.  Here I ate a couple more muffins, drank two 6 oz cartons of cranberry juice and took two pictures with my new camera.

This was my first experience with the Fuji disposable camera (something new on the market). In the past I have either used my Olympus or the smaller (less expensive) Minolta on motorcycle trips. Both work just fine, however they both require some attention in packing, and are too bulky to carry in my pocket. The disposable cameras are about as light as a camera can be and don't require any special handling. The quality of the pictures isn't all that great, however. After viewing the results it's clear that I need to make certain that I am not moving when I take the shot, and that there is adequate lighting. I'm not sure if I'll use this system for future trips. One more alternative would be to by a Kodak disc camera that would easily fit in my jacket pocket. The film isn't 35 millimeter, but then again, I'm not so sure that that is all that important. (2004 note: the disposable cameras proved to be an excellent method, only being replaced by lightweight digital cameras, many years later.)

From Denver I turned right and rode north on I-25. About 40 miles north of Denver I noticed, off to the east, a lone parachutist coming down. His 'chute wasn't the brightly colored square shape thing that is common of sport parachutists, but instead was a pale green traditional round 'chute such as someone would use for insurance while flying aerobatics, for instance. About the time I observed this I also noticed a plume of black smoke rising on the horizon perhaps 15 miles from where the parachutists would eventually land. I can't be certain if the two occurrences are related, perhaps the parachutist was part of some army exercise...

Either way, I never read anything about it, so I'll assume that what I saw was actually nothing.


I stopped at the last gas station on the north side of Cheyenne. Up until this point I-25 parallels the Rocky Mountains such that the peaks are clearly visible. From Cheyenne on, however, the Rockies veer off to the west while the freeway continues on north.  Even so, the flat prairie by this time has turned into rolling grazing land interspersed with trees.

About this time, the sun was starting on its downward slope. This meant that my left eye was in a continuous squint clear to Douglas, at which point I was riding directly into the sun. It was while riding along the Platte River here towards Casper Wyoming that my left eye decided that it had had enough and refused to work anymore! It started tearing so badly that water was just running down my cheek and constantly dripping off of my chin. On top of that whenever the sun shone on it, it stung quite a bit.

Consequently, I rode on into Casper with my left eye closed and my left hand doing its best to shade my right eye from the sun. I was about ready to pull off to the side of the road and wait for the sun to go down when some clouds started appearing in the sky and I no longer had to ride like a one handed Cyclops!  It was almost as if my left eye, under the continuous exposure to the sun, had become sunburned.

At Casper I again filled up the tank and started thinking about where I was going to sleep for the night. The AAA Camping Guide showed not much of anything from Casper to Buffalo (about 120 miles away). I didn't really want to ride that far, but decided to take my chances, anyway, on finding a park or something between here and there.

I had just crossed the Powder River near Kaycee when I saw a billboard that advertised free camping in the city park. So, I exited the freeway, road through the town took them up on their offer. Thanks, guys...

The park looked to be still under construction (by the local Lyons Club I discerned) and there was precious little level ground. As a matter of fact, after setting up my tent and taking the photograph you see I found a better spot about 75 feet away and moved everything there. There were a few sprinkles during the night but the sky was clear and blue the next morning.

After a breakfast consisting of the rest of the cans of fruit, I cleaned out the sticky mess in my trunk and washed out my equally sticky neck warmer (which had also been in the rear box) under a faucet. I kept the neck warmer looped around my left handle bar for the rest of the trip.

At Sheridan Wyoming I again filled up the tank (and bought some postcards) and then rode to a local grocery store that had just opened for the day. There I bought some plastic flatware (no more trying to find water to clean the stainless I had brought (I learn, eventually) and several more cartons of juice (but, I don't learn all the lessons) along with some cans of beans and chili. There was a post office near the store so I was able to send off the post card.

From Sheridan it wasn't all that far north to the town of Crow Agency and Custer Battlefield National Monument. In the photograph the entrance ($3.00) to the park is just on down the road, beyond the parking lot.

As you can see, there were motor homes parked on both sides of the road for a good distance and the parking lot was full. Of course parking is never a problem with a motorcycle. The photograph was taken near the top of the hill--the site of Custerís Last Stand. To the south of the hill (below) is the valley where the Indians were camped when Custer attacked. The dirt road in the photo connects with a number of grave markers. The top of the hill is also covered with markers indicating where solders fell, although I believe that all the bodies were subsequently reburied either at the national cemetery (above photo, on the left) or elsewhere. George Custer is buried at West Point.


From Little Big Horn I rode on up the highway to a rest stop mid-way between Hardin and Billings where I had a can of split pea and ham soup and the last of the muffins.

I remember this stop more for the strange family that was eating on the other side of the fence from me. They alternately either talked a bizarre baby-talk to their five year old son or yelled obscenities at him for doing such things as kicking the white decorative rocks you see in the picture. Poor kid.

So, here it was only Sunday afternoon and I was already in Montana, and not all that far from Roy. I hadn't planned on making such good time. In fact, when I talked with Joanne Jakes (my first cousin once removed - her father is the brother of my grandfather) the week before, I told her to expect me around Tuesday!

At Billings I silently cursed the town for routing the highway through the main part of town when I knew full well that there was no need for it. State highway 87 is shown on maps as a primary highway. That may be true, but that fact should not be interpreted as meaning that the road is of primary quality. It is not.

The road is a narrow two-lane black top without much of a shoulder. I passed only a handful of cars on its entire length. At Roundup I pulled into a service station just after a few trucks towing some competition trucks on trailers. These are trucks that have no purpose in life except to pull heavy sleds 50 yards or so in competition with other such vehicles. Consequently, they have huge (five foot diameter) tires and equally impressive engines. Anyway it took perhaps a half hour for all the vehicles involved to get their fuel before I was able to fill up my tank.  No matter. I was in no hurry.

I've been in some empty country before, but I don't think there is anyplace as devoid of people as this part of Montana. At Grassrange I stayed on the north highway (now state highway 19) to the intersection with state 191 and turned left to the town of Roy.


Roy is where my father's grandmother Antoinette Benda Kalal moved to in the twenties. She had six children John, Dan, Charles, Edward, Alby, and Sylvia who were all born, for the most part (I believe), in Chicago. The people I would meet here (or near here, anyway) are descended from Edward. Once in Roy, I asked around for the location of the home of Carley Graham (daughter of Alby). I knocked on the door, but no one was home. I then gave Joanne a call.  She said that Bohemian Corners was where I would probably find some Kalals. This was the same intersection that I had passed about six miles back (I should point out that Joanne lives in Moore about 55 miles from Roy).

So I rode back to Bohemian Corners, walked into the cafe and asked to no one in particular "Any Kalals here?" That's where I met Linda (Perry Ed's Daughter, I eventually came to know) who said that everyone was out at her fathers house about six miles to the north, celebrating his birthday. (Perry Ed is the son of Edward) So, back on the bike, again, I rode north on highway 191 to the third farm and pulled into the long driveway to the trailer house. There I met a small boy (Paul - son of Kathy daughter of Perry Ed) and I asked him if Perry Ed lived here. Paul said to walk on in, so I did.

There were quite a few people in the living room. They had apparently just finished eating a very large dinner. I recognized Dick Kalal (also son of Edward and brother of Perry Ed) from the previous year in Vancouver. So looking at him I smiled and said "Dick Kalal!" to which he looked a little puzzled (after all he knew full well who he was, but, who was that guy in the black leather jacket and boots anyway?) Then he remembered, and said "You're Bobby's son!" after which everybody introduced everybody else.

Very soon I was the only one eating at the table as plates of food were placed in front of me. I spent about an hour here before it was decided that I would follow Dick and Lucy (his wife) back to Roy and then on to their home in Lewistown where I would spend the night. (the photo shows, from left to right, Perry Ed with grandson, Margi his wife, Dick, Lucy, and Jackie, Perry Ed's daughter).

They followed me as I rode back to Roy. Once in Roy Dick pointed out some of the buildings that had significance. Then the three of us went to the Legion Hall in Roy for a beer. Dick showed me the original charter for the legion post with Dan's name on it.


By now the sun was down and so I followed Dick and Lucy down highway 191 to Lewistown and then back on highway 87 for a few miles to their house. That evening Dick and Lucy's son John (photo, below) arrived from Zortman.


The next morning I went with Dick and John into town to have some work done to John's pickup. At the same time, I picked up some oil so that I could do a change on the bike.

Not everybody has their own, large museum. Dick only recently moved it from Zortman, so things weren't all setup, but all the same it was very impressive. He has a large building (above, photo) just to house it.


The collection contains most everything you could imagine from the time of the first settlements in Montana. In addition he has quite a few running vehicles only some of which I took pictures of. I really think that Dick would be able to fix any kind of vehicle and probably have the parts on hand or at least be able to make-do with something similar. All of the engines in the vehicles run. That evening we went out to eat at a Lewistown buffet restaurant.

The next morning, after spending a second night in Lewistown, I rode west to Moore (guided by Dick) where I stopped in to see Joanne (I should say here that I'm not sure if her name isn't spelled Joan. In any case it is pronounced as I've been spelling it). I spent about 40 minutes visiting before once again riding on down the road.

I had further reason to curse another town as I rode through Great Falls. Of all the stop lights on this entire trip I'd bet that over half were in this one town. It took me about 45 minutes to get from one end of town to I-15. For the same obstinate reason as before I refused to patronize a town that would do such a thing, so I didn't get gas here. As a matter of fact I didn't get gas until Conrad.

The speed limit on I-15 is 65 mph, but I don't think people in Montana pay that much attention to little things like that. Traffic was zipping right along. From Conrad I didn't stop until I reached the Canadian border at Sweetgrass.


This was my third border crossing into Canada. The first two were about as difficult as crossing into California or Arizona, but this, the third, was something else. I pulled to a stop after shutting the engine down (my normal procedure) and was expecting to answer a few questions and be on my way again when the border guard asked me to dismount and to remove my helmet. He then asked me where I was from, where I was going and for how long--routine, enough. He then asked me to park the bike and to please enter the administration building.

After I had done this I was told to report to the upstairs office and make arrangements for an appointment.  Sitting in the waiting room for about 15 minutes I was then called into an office where I was asked to sit facing an official behind her desk. There I  answered the same questions, again, in addition to questions concerning any criminal background I might have and my citizenship history. I then told her of all the credit cards I had and also counted out all the American cash I had on hand. Everything was handled quite politely and very proper.

After talking for about 15 minutes, I was asked to please wait outside again. I sat there for perhaps 5 or 10 minutes when the same woman came out and asked me to please follow her downstairs where she quite formally introduced me to the original inspector "This is Daniel Kalal, he will be visiting us for two days". The inspector then said "Very good" and opened the outside door for me.


After that rather strange introduction I was now in Canada. The first thing that struck me was how poor the road signs were. In the US it may be poor English to have a sign say "DRIVE SLOW" instead of Drive Slowly, but it does get the message across quickly. In Canada (or, at least in this Province) the same sign is apt to say in very small letters "Please reduce your speed while driving near the school yard". The sign pictures also contain a silly amount of detail. For example, the school bus stop signs are a full colour detail picture of the rear of a school bus that is, unfortunately, nearly unintelligible.

Near Lethbridge I ran over a large brown grocery bag in the road that somehow got caught up in my front fender. This gave me about ten miles to wonder if perhaps I should stop and take it out. On one hand I hate stopping for any unneeded reason, but on the other hand, the tire rubbing on the bag, not to mention the heat of the exhaust pipes might catch it on fire. Well luckily when I stopped at a light in Lethbridge it fell out of the fender.

It was at Lethbridge that I encountered the worst of quite a number of really bad road signs. My intent was to go to Calgary, so I was naturally on the lookout for signs that would lead me through Lethbridge in the right direction. Well, I came upon a large direction sign that had a hydra of arrows; one pointing straight ahead and one each pointing right and left. To the right of these same arrows, and on the same sign was a list of about five places including Calgary. I was stopped at a stop light so I had a couple of minutes to study the sign. Well I never did figure it out. So I relied on instinct that says never go through a major city if you can at all help it. By taking a number of lesser roads around the southern edge of Lethbridge I eventually caught up with the correct highway number on the other side. And all without any further stop lights! I rode with three Harley-Davidson choppers for about 15 miles beyond the city. Not once did they even acknowledge my existence. There is this strange code of invisibility between  some outlaw bikers and more conventional touring motorcyclists. The only reason I stayed with them for so long was because I thought the whole little game was kind of funny (and it was a chance to be invisible). At Fort Macleod I stopped for gas and also withdrew $50 Canadian from a local bank using my Visa Card. That $50 was equal to about $38 U.S.

From Fort Maclead I turned north on highway 2 past "Smashed-in-Head-Buffalo Jump" Provincial Park. At Nanton the day's nearly nonstop riding was beginning to catch up with me, so I took a break at the city park where they had an A. V. Roe Lancaster bomber on display. This was the first one I've ever seen. It's an amazing airplane, although I would prefer to see it in flying condition. I spent about 45 minutes here sleeping under a tree in the park. The weather had been pretty hot all day.

About 30 miles from Calgary an absolutely beat Rover sedan full of high school age girls went roaring by me only to pull up short just in front of me. Since I make it a point never to vary my speed by more than one or two mph I would soon pass them only to have them pass me once again. This automotive game of leap frog went on for some miles until I noticed that whoever was driving wasn't doing a very good job of it and seemed to be getting worse. And eventually they seemed to be oblivious to me or anybody else on the road, so I decided enough was enough and accelerated well away from them.

Once in Calgary I choose the route that would keep me off of surface streets as much as possible. Even so, Calgary does not have a complete freeway system and I was forced to ride for about 40 minutes in bumper to bumper traffic through the city in order to reach Canada highway 1 to Banff. I wish Calgary luck this winter during the Olympics, but I sure wouldn't want to be driving during that time.


Calgary itself is in the plains, not unlike Denver. The Rockies don't actually begin until about 50 miles to the west. By the time I reached Canmore for fuel, however, I was well into the mountains. After paying a total of $18, I set up camp in a campground near the town of Banff. This National Park is not the same as a National Park in the U.S. There were no folders or handouts concerning the park. In fact the campground attendant said they didn't even have maps to give to tourists.

The next morning I rode north to Lake Louise stopping a couple of times for pictures. This is an overwhelmingly beautiful place.

British Columbia

Just beyond Kicking Horse Pass I stopped to look at the Spiral tunnels that were built to enable trains to make the grade. Originally the rail line went through the pass along much the same route as the current highway. The line was so steep, however, that runaways were distressingly common place. So, spiral tunnels were built to lower the grade required. A train will enter the side of the mountain at one level, spiral upwards within the mountain, and emerge out of the mountain above the point where it entered. There are two such tunnels within view of where I took the photographs (although you'll probably not spot them).


I followed the highway through Glacier National Park (obvious to state that this is not the same as Glacier National Park in Montana) where I stopped at a rest area for lunch.


Signs posted there said "Watch out! Thieves are present!" (It also said much the same thing in French). The thieves that the sign was referring to were Stellar Jays. And in fact while I was eating my food one hopped right up on the table and tried to help itself.

I stopped at Rogers Pass to visit the museum, get fuel, and to add a few more layers of clothing under my rain suit (it was becoming pretty chilly)


The pass is named after the person who headed up the surveying team that laid out the first rail line across the Canadian Rockies. The original line (as earlier) followed the current highway route. However, in addition to the steep grades, avalanches were a major problem here. So early in this century a tunnel was built under the pass to help alleviate both problems. An even more ambitious tunnel is still planned that will be under the current tunnel to lower the grade even more. The photograph (above) gives you some idea of why I was a little bit worried about the weather here. The fact that all the cars had their head lights on did didn't bode well for me. Not to mention those thick clouds hanging over the mountains. Oh well , I knew I had to hit rain sometime on the trip, and it might was well be here.

I rode in a constant downpour all the way to Vernon, when I decided that enough was enough. Since I had no need to be anywhere just then, I might as well stay here and let my gloves dry out. My rain suit did a very good job of keeping everything else dry. It may not sound too exciting, but I spent that evening at the Vernon library reading about the air war in WW II from a Canadian vantage point. I also read a book describing the QE2 (passenger ship) experiences in the Falkland war. And, all the while the local high school band was marching up and down the library parking lot playing Sousa marches.

Next morning I followed the Okanogan River down through Kalona, over an intriguing floating bridge and on down to the Oroville border crossing.

The crossing into the United States was a whole lot quicker than the reverse was. I parked the bike under an awning and had a few more containers of juice. I also walked over to the border and read all the various plaques that had been erected by Rotary clubs and the like. I then rode on down to the Oroville City Park where I took a nap for about 30 minutes after filling the tank up.


At Omak I turned left onto highway 155.

Soon after entering the Colville Indian Reservation, I was again climbing into a forest. Route 155 from Omak to Nespelem is one of the prettiest roads of this trip. The town of Disautel was listed on the map, but I must have blinked because I don't think I ever saw it. From the looks of Nespelem it's clear that this is one very poor area.

When I reached Grand Coulee I rode straight through town, over the river and to the visitor's center. I found out later that the visitor center is in the shape of one of the giant generators of the new third power house.


While at the center I viewed a movie of the history of the Grand Coulee area which finished with (Joan Baez?) singing the Woody Guthrie song Roll on Columbia. About half the audience joined in singing! The light shows of the past are still put on in the evening when they release water over the spillway. Of course, the spillway isn't as long as it used to be, nor do they release water over it continuously as before.

From the visitor's center I rode on up to the left power house where I parked the bike. I took the self-guided tour down into the generator room and tried to take a picture in that darkened area (but none too successfully).

These generators can also serve as pumps to lift water up into Banks Lake. In the photograph (below) you can see the large array of pipes that connect Roosevelt Lake to Banks Lake.

From here I walked across the dam (leaving the motorcycle parked) to the right power house and went through the self guided tour there, as well. I then walked on over to the new third power house where I joined a group of about 50 people still another tour. We all descended down the incline of the dam face in a glass walled cable car. The size of the new generators is really difficult to grasp. Just imagine the visitor's center spinning!


In all I spent perhaps 3 1/2 hours at the dam.

During the ride south along Banks Lake I was worried that my "sun burned eye" problem would crop up again. The sun was to my right and low in the sky and it reflected right off the smooth water such that I had a hard time seeing anything. I did, however, see a patrol car coming from the opposite direction. As he passed me he turned on his lights and motioned for me to stop.

This was to be the second time that I would be pulled over in Washington for not having my headlight on! the first was about ten years ago. As soon as he found out that I was from Kansas, and therefore couldn't be expected to know anything at all, he loosened up a bit and sent me on my way again. Just a warning.

I stopped at Dry Falls and went through the visitor's center there. There are a total of five lobes of the kind shown in the photograph 40. Poor Niagra Falls, which is always used in waterfall comparisons, would be an insignificant little run-off problem when compared to the torrent that once passed through here.

Just beyond Dry Falls, I stopped for the night at Sun Lakes State Park.

During the night, one of the campers from a large Lutheran church group was swearing loud enough for the entire campground to here. It seems that a raccoon had torn into all his (the Lutheran's that is) food and had strewn garbage all around. From what he was yelling, apparently the raccoon was up in a tree watching everybody as the crazed man cursed it. After about 10 minutes of this another person in the group got him calmed down and everyone when back to sleep. Well, I was entertained.

The next morning I stayed on the same road south to Moses Lake and then on down to Othello where I filled up the tank. From Othello I went down to Pasco then passed the smelly paper mill at Wallowa, through Touchet and then on to Walla Walla.

Becky had been able to get a day off from work, and showed up a few hours later. While it wasn't a very long visit I'm sure glad I was able to stay for as long as I did. I don't think the weather could have been any more perfect. 2004 note: I have the Padouk wood gavel that Grandpa gave me (and, I packed in the rear trunk), in my office.



Becky left for California, Sunday, and I left Monday morning.


This was one of the more interesting days from a riding standpoint. I don't think I have ever covered more miles as effortlessly as on this day. In fact, about the time I began to think that it was time to start planning on lunch it was actually time to start planning on where I was going to spend the night!


From Walla Walla I went south to Pendleton and then south to John Day. I stopped at Canyon City for fuel even though I also filled up in Pendleton, since I wasn't sure just how plentiful gas stations would be. I then went on south to Burns and over to Burns Junction for more fuel and also a long drink of water.

I can't say that I know why anybody lives in this part of the country. As you can tell by the picture not much of anything even grows here.

You might have noticed the sign that says "No Self Service". Oregon is a funny state. Apparently many years ago a motorist injured himself filling up his car, so the only (?) solution was to ban self-serve. This might work for cars, but there are very few motorcyclists (and, I am not one) who will allow anybody else to put gas in their motorcycle. Adding to the difficulty with my bike is the fact that I use a tank bag which means you have to prop it up with one elbow while filling the tank. The attendant seemed finally satisfied to be able to simply touch the hose as I did the actual filling myself. Still it got a little comical. Especially in Pendleton, where the attendant felt he had to be actually touching the trigger handle.


From Burns Junction I road south to Winnemucca, Nevada and then east to Battle Mountain before I even stopped. After filling up here I turned south on highway 305 and rode south to Austin. I passed only two cars going the opposite direction on the entire 90 mile stretch of rode. At Austin I stayed in a motel in town and had dinner in a nearby restaurant. Austin is an interesting town. It doesn't seem to have changed much in its 100 or so years of history.

The next morning I rode east on US 50 towards Eureka where I filled up the tank.

From Eureka things were going quite nicely until I had just about reached the summit of Robinson Pass (elevation 7588), when there was a loud (or at least it felt loud through my helmet) "clunk".

I immediately got on the brakes and brought the bike to a halt on the side of the road just as the rear wheel fully locked up. I was nearly convinced, even then, that my U-joint had failed. When I pulled back the rubber boot that covers the U-joint and smelled the burned oil I knew it had failed. In hindsight I should have known that the U-joint was about to go, but some of the signs only became apparent after the fact.

I had no expectation that a car would stop and pick me up, so I waited for a motorcyclist to come by; I knew they would stop to help. Well, after waiting for about half an hour with no bikes and precious few cars I began to get a bit more aggressive with the thumb (the rain cloud you can just see in the also had something to do with it). Finally, a man stopped in a pickup truck and took me on into the town of Ely. He gave me the name of his son who he said might have room for me to work.

I next walked to a garage to see if I could find someone to help me pick the bike up. They had a tow truck as well as a low trailer so the two of us drove back to the bike and brought it back to the garage. My next step was to find a place to work on it.

The owner of the garage wasn't in and his people said that it was doubtful that I could work on it there. So I gave the son of the man who first picked me up a call and he said to come on over.  So, it was back to the tow truck (we hadn't unloaded the bike from the trailer) and we took the bike to his son's garage.

This all occurred on Tuesday. It wasn't until Thursday evening that I was able to get on my way again (there's an awful lot that happened in between). My phone bill for all the calls I made out of the motel in Ely (training to get the right parts delivered) were healthy. The new U-joint (and bearings) was flown via Delta airlines from Sacramento (and came from the Sacramento Guzzi dealer that I used to use).  Changing out a U-joint (which entails removing the swing-arm, and much more) under these conditions was interesting...

With a fresh U-joint, but with very little time, I made quick progress to the Utah border for fuel and then continued on to Delta, Utah for the night.



From Delta I followed highway 50 as it zigzagged up and down before settling down to a straight line where it crossed the Green River plains.


I stopped in Green River for fuel and a hamburger.


From here I rode to Parachute, Colorado for a rest break along the Colorado River. The ride over Vail Pass and through the Eisenhower tunnel was a lot of fun. The speeds that cars travel as they descend down into Denver are really amazing. I don't think I exaggerate when I say that the average speed at times approached 85 mph! I spent the night in a motel in Aurora (a suburb of Denver). It had been a long day.


The next day (Sunday) was pretty routine as I retraced the same ground that I had traveled just two weeks prior.

Except for the U-joint incident, everything went fairly smoothly. I would like to have been able to see Arches National Park and perhaps Black Canyon of the Gunnison, but those will wait for another trip.

About 4,600 miles.


last edit: 4/7/2008