Monday, August 31, 2009

Ryan's Rants

Have you ever heard the expression "something is bugging me." Believe it or not this does not have its roots in the CIA or KGB installing a wire tap in your phone. It comes from the nature of insects, also called bugs.
Bugs come in all shapes and sizes. Mostly gross shape and small in size. Don't let their diminutive frame fool you, they can cause you more grief than the largest of mammals. After living out of doors for 3 months now I feel I have a greater understanding of all creatures great and small, at least the ones I see, feel and hear. This knowledge is not scientific in any way, just anecdotal and probably wrong.
We will begin our look at bugs with one of the smallest, and most wicked. The mosquito. Why does this creature exist? Of all the bugs, this in the only one I take pleasure in murdering. They attack in packs and are fearless. Nothing keeps them away. DEET helps a little but you cant spray DEET in your eyes, ears or mouth. Mosquitoes know this week spot and take full advantage.  They have obviously read the tactics of the Kamikaze and they throw themselves full force into the fight for the honor of some Divine Emperor Mosquito. At least they don't have Malaria.
The spider is a creepy fellow. They love to hide in your bags and clothes then jump out and give you a fright. Allegra keeps me from crushing them on sight, but when I feel 8 tiny hairy legs crawling on my skin, my instinct is to deal the bloke a fatal blow. Then you have spider guts all over. Most of the spiders we see are small or daddy long legs. I can deal with these guys. The big ones are the ones I don't like and have been tempted to put a couple rounds of .45 into. Again Allegra frowns on this. So they live and I have to live with one eye on them at all times. Its a weird relationship, kinda like Egypt and Israel.
Bees are great. Love the honey and the whole pollinating our food stuff. One request. When I'm biking, please don't fly in my face full speed. This happens all the time, and it hurts.
Ticks are always a concern but we haven't seen any... yet.
Potato bugs are pretty annoying. They love to crawl into your tent and sleep next to you. I'm not sure what kind of signals I'm giving off but this offer isn't one of them.
Dragonflies are pretty cool. They have the best looking wings out there. When they fly past you know it was a dragonfly by the deep bass sound their wings make. You also know what they are because the fly right into your ear and crash, then hang on your shoulder. 
And I have saved the best for last. The firefly. What a great idea that is. A bug that has a glowing ass. I wish we had them in Portland. I could watch them all night. I have no idea what its good for, but its good. 
What have we learned in our look at bugs? I think the most obvious thing is that their jerks. And the ones that arn't jerks are stupid. They kind of remind me of the Denver Nuggets, without all the tattoos. I mean have you seen this Birdman guy? I rest my case.

Go Blazers!

The Cheese and Beer State!

       We have been traveling through Wisconsin for about a week or less. Before getting this far we traveled almost the rest of the way to Wisconsin on the Root River Bike Trail. Minnesota and Wisconsin both have an amazing amount of bike trails. If a bike enthusiast was to plan a trip with a route; unlike us, taking the trail systems through these states is relaxing and scenic. The Root River Trail was about 50 miles long and all railroad grade. Once it ended we took Hwy. 16 into Wisconsin. 
     Back in Minnesota we happened to come across the SPAM museum in the town of Austin. This turned into a couple of hours of free entertainment that was fun. No charge to get in and all you ever wanted to know about a product that, at least in Oregon, is more rarely consumed. The wall covered in SPAM cans was pretty impressive, and a little overwhelming. The entire history is laid out in a colorful interactive experience that reminded me of OMSI. The gift shop had everything imaginable with a SPAM logo on it for sale, from boxing gloves, fancy dish wear, to swim trunks.
      Once we did get into Wisconsin we spent the afternoon at a coffee shop in downtown LaCrosse talking to some of the locals about the state. On recommendation we took Hwy. 35 which runs parallel to the Mississippi River down to Prairie Du Chien. The area between LaCorsse and Prairie Du Cien is beautiful along the Mississippi! It's surrounded by forested bluffs on both sides, whereas most of the mississippi is level near the shores. The night that we camped along the Mississippi we found a park in a small town with a covered pick nick area and outlets to stay at. Since electricity was at hand the opportunity to plug in the laptop and rent a movie from the local gas station was possible. I've never watched a movie on my computer outdoors under a covered area by a river, with occasional trains passing by. It was a great way to enjoy a pleasant evening. We spent a day and a half getting to Prairie Du Chien before we began heading East again. So far Wisconsin has been the muggiest state, but its only on hot days after a rainfall. 
        From Prairie Du Chien we stayed on Hwy. 60 all the way to Madison. It's a small two lane highway that runs parallel to the Wisconsin River. Small towns unroll along the way, and many farms in between. Wisconsin, to no surprise, is mostly farmland; all picturesque. 
      Madison is known as a bike friendly city. This is sort of true from our experience there. We arrived in the late afternoon off of a secondary highway before beginning to negotiating our way around. The pitfall of this city was in the condition of the roads. Many of the roads that we were on needed repaving badly. Some of the bike lanes were pretty bad; full of bumps, small potholes, and really uneven. There's a nice bike path that we were able to connect up to by the lake in the middle of the city, but it has some rough patches too. It surprised us both that so many people obviously bike around Madison but don't have half decent roads to use. And, Wisconsin requires that you pay for use of the bike trails right outside the heart of the city. So, if people are paying, why are the roads so crappy everywhere? 
       We camped in a large patch of trees we came across on our way out of town after our battle with the death-trapped roadways. It was stealth camping at some of its best. No one could see us and we had more cover from the rain that night then we normally do. Plus, there was a gas station just down the street encase we needed a bathroom or extra food.
     We cleared out the following day arriving at Helenville in the early evening. It only made sense to go to the bar and ask if anyone new if camping in a park would probably be OK. At first everyone gave us a suspicious look like they normally do; after a couple of bedraggled looking outsiders have asked where in a small town they can camp out like hobos for a night. Once we began to tell our story everyone was very curious about us and gave us suggestions for places we could stay. The owner of the local bar, Wingin' It, gave us a basket of free chicken wings and a couple of sodas. Two local ladies bought us beers. We spent a good part of the evening there exchanging stories with them and other people. It was a great time.
      Soon we will be getting into Milwaukee and should be in Chicago in the next two to three days.

Ryan and Allegra
          Another cool bug we found this morning. I love neat looking bugs.

    Camping last night just off of a busy bike trail into Milwaukee, WI.
   Camping spot in Madison between a freeway and shopping center. It was a great spot on the outside of the city.
          Cranes or herons (?) walking in the street outside of Madison.
                               Downtown Madison, WI.
          Camping by the Wisconsin River in Wauzeka, WI.
                              World's largest six pack.
     Mississippi River from the bridge.
         Bridge over the Mississippi River to La Crosse,WI.
            Entering Wisconsin on Hwy. 16.
       View from the end of the Root River Trail.
      We ate pie for breakfast at Aroma Pies off of the trail.
                                Street in Lanesboro.
             Entering Lanesboro, MI.
                             Dam off of the Root River trail.
              On the Root River Trail near the end of Minnesota.
                                          Section of the trail.
                                              Wall of SPAM.
                                              Outside the SPAM  museum in Minnesota.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Things we miss

Friends and Family



Hair products







The Know


Cheap beer


Washing machines



"Shots lets go"

Bike lanes

Memory foam

Drinking in the park


Going shooting




Quick facts

Total miles= 1950

# of days= 70

# of rest days= 15

# of states visited= 7

# of flat tires= 26

# of broken spokes= 1

# of hosts we met on the road who let us stay in their home= 5

# of books read= 10

# of frogs who jumped in our tent= 1

# of day it rained on us while we were in South Dakota= 9

# of days in South Dakota= 10

# of bike crashes= 3(all small)

# of creepy moments= 1

Best joke heard on the trip= "Why does the wind in South Dakota blow from west to east? Because Iowa sucks."

# of nights we camped in a Frisbee golf course= 2

# of people east of Wyoming who pronounce Oregon 'Or-ee-gone'= everyone

South Dakota to Minnesota

        We last left off with the trauma of Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, but have sensed regained a realistically grounded understanding of normalcy. Continuing East we stuck to interstate 90. Biking on a major interstate is not the best, but it was South Dakota, and for the most part there is nothing to scenic about any of it outside of it's cities and towns. Our main goal was to get to Sioux Falls quickly in order to pick up a new bottom support frame for Ryan's trailer that had broken just after we left Sturgis. We stuck to Hwy. 90 just in the event that the trailer broke all the way, knowing that it would be easier to hitch hike on a highway that was busy. The trailer held up just fine until we reached the sporting goods store in Sioux Falls that had the replacement piece. As luck would have it, I somehow broke a spoke on the rear wheel of my bike, so we had to hitch hike anyway.
      After two hours of waiting around on the side of 90 a guy with a pick up full of sound equipment and supplies from a Sturgis beer garden he had been running pulled over to give us a lift. Damion, our new best friend, had been at Sturgis the whole week slinging beers, working too many hours a day, and partying, but picked us up despite his fatigue. Somehow we tactfully piled our trailers and bikes into the bed of the truck with everything else. Damion was a great guy to hang out with for the two hour ride into Mitchell, South Dakota. He had great stories and tons of enthusiasm. He drove us roughly 180 miles. Mitchell had the nearest bike shop from where we ended up breaking down. He saved us from roasting all day in the heat of SD!
      After a night of sleeping in the city park there we got in contact with our first Warm Showers host, Dave. He let us stay two nights with him in Mitchell. Sleeping inside for the first time since Gillette, WY felt wonderful. Showers, clean laundry, a nice dinner out, and meeting some of Dave's local friends was hospitality that went far beyond our expectations. Our second night I cooked the three of us a dinner and we had a blast exchanging bike stories. Thank you so much to Dave in Mitchell for allowing us to stay in your home. 
     While in Mitchell we also made a point of seeing the worlds only corn palace. This gives you an idea of the grandeur that is small town South Dakota. Pretty corny........yes. 
      Just three days ago we crossed into Minnesota after picking up Ryan's new frame piece for his trailer in Sioux Falls and reassembling it. I will not miss South Dakota despite some of the people we had the good fortune of meeting. It is treeless, rains everyday ( this summer), is flat, and did not have the most interesting things to see. So far Minnesota has been beautiful. It is farms forever out here in the most southern part of the state. They unroll down the smaller secondary highways for miles. There is an abundance of trees, old classic farm houses and barns, and towns that spring up out of the corn fields every 10 to 20 miles. Everything is incredibly  green here as well; farms, and open spaces in the cities. 
      Yesterday we left heading down secondary two lane highways that run along interstate 90. They are a million times better than a major interstate because Minnesota is much prettier then South Dakota and the traffic is far less then even we thought there would be. State law prohibits bikes on the interstates here. After 46 miles, at an average of 16 miles an hour, (we were making great time) we came to the town of Fairmont and saw a prairie dog exhibit by the side of the road. We pulled over to look at the completely uninhibited, completely fat, prairie dogs sitting outside their tunnels. A local drove by and told us about a bike shop in town and that we should stop by. It was off of the main street we were riding on. Ryan and I pulled around the corner and rode up to the shop. The owner, Larry, was outside working on a bike, surrounded by kids, a couple of friends, his dog Shadow, and a bunch of bikes he had out for sale. We pulled into his driveway. He came marching up and immediately asked where we were biking from and how far we had gone. We told him and he just about fell over. He looked at out trailers and  kept shaking his head and told us that we were crazy for hauling that much so far. We quickly warmed up to Larry who is hilllaroius and spent the rest of our evening with him and his wonderful lady friend Margo. They were both far to generous to us. They treated us to food and an evening at the county fair. This morning we went to breakfast with Larry. Being the nicest guy in Minnesota, he also gave us each a free bike tune up. 

Ryan and Allegra

          Larry, Margo, and Legs at the Fairmont county fair.
    Rabbit who desperately wanted to be petted at the fair.
                        "I'M ON A BOAT!!!"
      In the canoe Larry let us take out on the lake next to his bike shop.
   Prairie dogs at the Fairmont Prairie dog exhibit.
      Bike sculpture in a park at Jackson, MN.
                        Lot's of corn, forever.
                   Oh look! Windmills in the corn.
                             Town of Luverne, Mn.
             Rolling farm land as we entered Minnesota.
     Church that we camped next to our first night in the state.
                             Arriving in Minnesota.
               Gangstas love deep thought.
      South Dakota, where it rained almost every day that we were there.
         Legs hugging corn in Mitchell, SD, the self proclaimed mecca for everything corn.
                  Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD.
                    Badlands of South Dakota form Hwy.90.
                               Dinosaur outside of Wall Drugs. 
    Ryan on a Jackalobe at Wall Drug, SD.
                            Inside Wall Drugs.
  Huge spider in SD, We looked it up and apparently it's a common garden spider.
   One of a MILLION tacky signs along Hwy. 90 you see before Wall, SD.
                            Alleyway in Sioux Falls, SD.

Our silly video we made.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sturigs: T-shirts and lack there of

    For the last couple of days people we meant kept asking us if we were going to the rally. What is this rally to which they keep referring? Sturgis.

     Yes Sturgis, the small humble town of 6000. However, for a week in August it hosts the worlds largest motorcycle rally. Over 500,000 bikers from all over the globe converge in the middle of the Black Hills to do what bikers do. And what is it that they do? From what we saw they park their bikes on Main St. then go shopping for things that say Sturgis on them. 
    It was a little less exciting than what I imagined it to be. There were a lot of nice bikes, but it seemed like Halloween for motorcycle enthusiast. Everyone was dressed up as a biker or a biker babe. You could tell that 99% of the people in attendance never dressed like this except at Sturgis. Guys are tough and act the role to prove themselves to each other? Most of the women there wore the typical biker babe attire, within a functional purpose. Then there were the gals who wore pasties, chaps with underwear only, can get the picture from there. What if you fall off of a motorcycle wearing that? You would be lucky to have half of your skin left if the fall was bad enough. It was petty ridiculous. Other attractions included wet T-shirt contests, beauty pageants, burn-out contests, and rock concerts with "awesome" bands like Aerosmith and Korn
     Guess what! Steven Tyler fell off stage during his bands set while trying to entertain the crowd after the sound system failed temporarily. His groupies were supposed to catch him, (so we heard from a local here in Rapid City) but the message didn't make it to them somehow. He fell several feet and suffered neck, head, and shoulder injuries and was life-flighted out to the nearest hospital. That is hilarious!!! I don't hate Steven Tyler, and hopefully the fall didn't seriously injure him, but the image of a sixty-something year old rocker of skeletal thinness with a ginormous mouth flailing around stage, then falling off the side is too much! Sturgis would have been completely worth it if we had been at the Aerosmith show. 
    We could only handle so much of Sturgis and left after a full day and night of gawking at the spectacle. 
     Before we had even got as far a Sturgis we spent half a day in Deadwood. Its a very nice looking historic town tucked away in the Black Hills, in a small valley. If you like to gamble then Deadwood is a great place. I'm not the biggest fan, but we both played the penny slots for a little while just to test our luck. Ryan won $8.00 and I won $13.00. At least we came out on top. We also happened to be there on the anniversary of Wild Bill's death. The bar he was shot in still survives to this day, but all the historical glamour it once had has been replaced with gambling machines and modern casino amenities. It's nothing special anymore.
     South Dakota is normally very hot this time of year, but like the rest of the nation the weather has been abnormal. Two nights ago, Ryan and I sat watching incredible lightening bolts illuminate the sky during a rain storm. We were camped right off of Hwy. 90 in a big field ten miles outside of Rapid City. We sat under our tarp huddled up together in the rain watching the bolts flash brilliant against the clouds. The sky filled with oranges and pinks behind the sheets of grey clouds and downpour. That was more fun than pasties and lots of exhaust fumes.

Ryan and Allegra 

                                                Pride of America.
      Legs at the custom bike show during Sturgis.
          Custom motorcycle with an airplane engine.
                        Classy viking style motorcycle helmet.....very classy.
                                Thousands of motorcycles...
                                       Rat, on a cat, on a dog.
             Another picture of Sturgis motorcycle rally.
           We stopped into check out the scene of the shooting.
                                           Magnum P.I.'s car.
                                  Deadwoood, South Dakota.
                   Life-size bronze statute of Wild Bill Hickock.
                      View of Deadwood from Hwy. 85.

           Could the welcoming committee be a little more cornier?  I love great faces and great   places."Thumbs up!!!"