Tag Archives: JAK

11th Annual Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run

Four weeks from today Jim Kennemore and I will be back in Ely, Nevada. We will be on our way to Marseilles, Illinois. Saturday, June 15, 2013 is the 11th Annual Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run. The run is to honor our fallen heroes and to support our troops. Visit the web site at http://ilmotorcyclefreedomrun.org/

Illinois Wall

The Wall

The Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial is located in Marseilles, Illinois. The names of the soldiers killed in action during the previous year are etched into the granite slabs right after Memorial Day, and those soldiers and their families and friends are honored at the annual Illinois Motorcycle Freedom Run on the third weekend in June. The ILMFR supports the Wall, and the etching of the names, with donations from supporters all over the county.

If any of you care to join Jim and I, just let one of us know. We’ll take a northern route so we can stop in Montana and visit SLPD & HPD retirees, Patrick and April Erskine.

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Hail Causes Mini Flash Flood – Monticello, Utah to Ely, Nevada

It’s hard to believe it’s been eight months since I got caught in the open by this high desert hail storm.

Blog Hail

The day before was filled with change, this day with challenges.

The morning started out harmless enough. I walked to a family owned restaurant hoping for oatmeal and fruit, senior price of course. Even though it was past the opening time, it was closed. There was a handwritten note taped inside the glass door. “Sorry, we’re closed.” Down the street was J & B’s Hamburgers.

What the heck, I’ll give it a try. They didn’t have oatmeal, nor did they have a senior price. Bacon, eggs, and pancakes it was. It tasted good with two giant pancakes on a second plate. I could only eat one.

My plan to visit the Arches went awry as soon as I pulled out on US 191. Tired, I decided to skip the Arches. I don’t think eleven days in the saddle had anything to do with it.

Within minutes, a D.E.E.R. appeared. With that omen, I should have been forewarned.

US 191 took me through beautiful country, red rock formations, canyons, and some greenery. The remaining 90 miles were filled with vistas that artists dream about.

My buddy Paul Wallace likes Moab for mountain biking. I can see why. The town is small, attractive, touristy, and bicycle positive. Unlike most towns on this trip, there were no “Bikers Welcome” signs. They didn’t get any of my money.

Reaching Green River, Utah, I realized that this was where JAK had suggested we deviate from our plan last year, and take US 191 north to Jackson Hole. It was an outstanding decision with fantastic scenery. The lower half is different, all desert, but just as spectacular. I recommend either segment for a great ride. Next month, June 2013, JAK and I are riding to a Veterans Memorial Run in Marseilles, Illinois. We might take this route.

Leaving Green River I took I-70 to Salina, Utah. It was hot and dry. That changed. Storms were brewing west and north. Rain chimneys were visible. Shortly after noon, a chimney materialized dead ahead. I kept going and got rained on for about a minute. With the temperature hovering around 100º, the rain cooled me off. Dry in minutes, I narrowly missed a second chimney. I was in for more than rain.

I had nowhere to pull off when it started to rain. Ouch, this stuff hurts, it isn’t rain it’s hail. So much for finding a safe place to pull over, I stopped as fast as possible. The Ultra was not quite off the interstate. I didn’t care. I scrambled off and ran to some small trees for shelter. The hail stones came in two sizes, some the diameter of a dime, most that of a nickel.

Beaten and drenched, I ran to the bike, unlocked a saddle bag, grabbed my coat and ran back. There was no way I could have gotten the pants on. Several cars stopped on the other side of the four-lane interstate. After I got my coat on, I heard a horn honking. A minivan with California plates stopped and the passenger doors opened. A woman in the front shouted; “Get in, Get in.” Still wearing my helmet I jumped in and closed the door. She said; “Does this happen very often?”

“I don’t know. I’m from California like you.”

She said in unaccented English; “Actually we are from Belgium. They are warning of flash floods.”

When I ran under the trees, the ground was dry except for falling hail stones. When I ran to the van, my sneakers were under swift moving water.

Blog Hail.2

The trees didn’t afford much protection. This picture was taken minutes after the hail stopped falling. In the short break between hail and the subsequent rain, I got into my foul weather gear. I had one question, Where are my boots?
Two more cars and a motorcycle stopped to inquire if I was okay. None had been in the hail storm; it was pretty well confined to a small area, my head.

* * *
Continuing on, it started raining heavily. I won’t say it was a cloud burst, but darn close. I could not find any shelter. I put on the 4-Way flashers and slowed to 30 MPH on the 70 MPH Interstate. Motorcycle helmets don’t have windshield wipers and my vision sucked. The cars passing me were all doing over sixty. To say I was stressed is putting it mildly.

In Salina I went straight to the world famous Mom’s Café. The building was constructed in the 1890s. The café has been in continuous operation since 1926. When I finished eating, the rain had stopped, the temperature ninety plus. Once again off with the hot foul weather gear.

It remained hot until I got into Nevada, the rain chimneys getting darker and closer by the minute.

For two hours I fought winds strong enough to push the Ultra across the roadway, a tad scary. The area was desert with blowing sand. In one stretch the sand blew handlebar high across my path. It hurt like the dickens.

Blog Hail 3

I continued for a few miles after I took this picture. I pulled over and geared up. Five minutes later I was in the rain. It rained the forty miles into Ely, Nevada. Of course, as I parked in front of the Motel 6 the rain stopped.

I knew if I went downtown to eat, it would rain again, I ordered pizza. “It won’t be long.” After an hour I called. “The delivery man will be back soon and you’re up next.” How reassuring. Another hour passed before my cold pizza and warm soda arrived.

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Mesa Verde National Monument – A Biker’s View

Approaching Mesa Verde National Monument, I noticed a very steep road cut into the face of a high mountain. This is the road into the park. Road Repair season ensured that new pavement covered the 23 miles to Cliff Palace. About fifteen miles was “almost” smooth with fresh tar and gravel.

Not this biker’s favorite!

Despite the construction, the ride from the park entrance to the Visitor Center is scenic with sufficient turn-outs for the tourist to enjoy and photograph the panoramic vistas.

There was a long queue for tour tickets. A volunteer talked about Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Long House cliff dwellings. His photo album presented shots of multiple ladders, of crossing an open rock face, and crawling through a tunnel. This got my attention. For starters, I’m afraid of heights, especially ledges, and the knee replacement dislikes weight on it. We asked him for details. He showed close-ups of the rock face. There is a safety wire to hold on to.

Okay, I can do that.

Then he showed photographs of a 32 foot ladder one must climb to enter the dwelling.

Okay, there are people older than me doing the climb.

Next he pointed out a 12 feet long tunnel carved through stone.

Maybe I can drag my right leg.

The tunnel is narrower than my shoulders, and parts of my body tend to be large. If I didn’t have to worry about my knee, I think I could squeeze through. The volunteer suggests; “You might want to try Cliff Palace.”

Mesa 1

I check Cliff Palace, no rock face, no tunnel, and the longest ladder was only 10 feet long.

This is for me.

I bought a ticket for Cliff Palace. I didn’t notice 5 ladders and a 100 foot vertical climb to exit the cliff dwelling.

Oh well, live and learn.

Spending four hours in the park, I only saw Cliff Palace. If I can get back here, I will stay in the lodge and spend two or three days exploring.

Mesa 2

The oval pit above is a Kiva. All 23 Kivas of Cliff Palace were perfectly round until just a few years ago. Several have changed dramatically. Without going into detail, it has to do with water and foundations deteriorating. Recently the park lost 80% of its trees to fire. Without the trees to use and hold the water, it seeps into the ground and undermines the dwellings.

Mesa 3

When I climbed out, it took me ten minutes to get my breath back.

Mesa Fire Damage

This gives one an idea of the magnitude of the fire damage.

When I started out of the park, it began to drizzle. Ten miles from the park exit, I decided to follow some sage advice that JAK had imparted when considering the prospect of rain several years ago. “If in doubt, suit up.” I pulled to the side of the road and dug out my foul weather gear. George Bob (GB) had paid me another visit. My boots were nowhere to be found, leaving me outfitted for a blizzard but wearing sneakers. Thanks GB!

I continued down the mountain. After no more than a quarter mile, there was a clap of thunder followed by a cloud burst. Five miles down the road, right at the apex of a curve posted “15 MPH” was a mud slide.

Oh what a joy.

The minute I exited the park the rain stopped. Within 20 minutes it was 100 degrees. The good thing was that my sneakers dried out. It was 50 miles before I stopped at a Ute Indian casino for gas. I changed out of my foul weather gear, now a sweat box. I chugged some water and put the rain gear away.

As miserable and as dangerous the ride from Mesa Verde to the highway was the sheer grandeur of the cave dwellings made it worthwhile. An added benefit was checking off one more item on my Bucket List.

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Grand & Glorious Motorcycle Ride Day 10 – Second Installment – On to Durango

The scenery on 285 and 160 was spectacular but difficult to enjoy with the traffic. There are little towns and homes all along 285. One of the mysteries of the universe is where all the thousands of “Snow Birds” go when they leave Arizona for the summer. Now I know, they go to US 160 in Colorado. I passed one RV Park where there were literally hundreds upon hundreds of RVs parked ever so close together and with only a narrow lane between rows. I don’t believe it possible to pull one out or put one into the rows without moving dozens. There was not a single shade tree in sight. For a hundred or so miles along 160 there are endless RV parks, fishing camps, rafting companies, and hunting lodges. All seemed full. Even with all the distractions, I was glad I took this route.

I bet you all thought you had heard the last of Jim Bob and his exploits. Well on that eventful ride in 2009, we were Four Amigos, JAK Kennemore, Larry Eade, Burny Matthews and me. All retired cops headed out to D.C. to honor fallen comrades. All except me from OPD. I retired from San Leandro PD. I had lunch at a small place on US 285 at US 50. 23 miles east on US 50 is Monarch Pass, Colorado at 11,312 feet. We crossed the pass in May, 2009; it was 22 degrees and snowing. The coffee shop at the summit was covered in snow, with a tunnel dug to the front door.

As usual, Jim Bob was doing his Alpha Biker thing. As we other three prepared to dismount our steeds for a photo op, Jim Bob rode away. Not a word, he just left. We looked at one another, none of us had a clue, but figured we’d skip the photo op of a lifetime and follow Jim Bob. When we finally got clear of the snow, we had ice on our clothes up to our waists. Finally stopping for fuel, Jim Bob told us; “The snow plow operator told me I should get off the mountain, so I left.”

Asked why he didn’t communicate with his three amigos his typical Jim Bob response was; “You’re big boys.” Not sure what that meant.

Blog 1

I had lunch near the intersection of 285 and 50.

I was wearing the last of the non-Harley T-Shirts I brought along to wear and discard. I never throw away a Harley T-shirt. I began to wear my new Harley Ts.

About an hour out of Durango, Colorado, I took a hydration break. I called ahead for a room. Yelp gave me a list of a half dozen motels. I called Best Western, $189 for a single. No thanks. Next on the list was an independent motel. A call got me a room, with free WiFi for $54.

Blog 2

From one of the scenic overlooks.

Blog 3

Looking back up from the valley floor.

Until I reached Durango, the only wildlife I saw was a turkey. Whoop Dee Do!

In Durango I saw two deer happily munching away alongside a city street. Pulling into the motel lot, I saw a D.E.E.R. As I maneuvered across the uneven and steeply sloped parking lot, a big D.E.E.R. came running in my direction. It crossed not twenty feet in front of me. Can you imagine the catastrophe had I collided with the D.E.E.R. and wound up in the hospital?

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