It’s Still FALL but…Feels Like Winter

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2014 – A Year to Forget but I am still THANKFUL…

Vancouver from the air

Feel free to click the pics for larger Hi-rez versions

2014 has been one hell of a year for me and still is on some levels.  Separation, leading to divorce, death of my beloved 10-year-old Beagle, Cruizer…work issues, deciding to leave Canada after almost 18 years and start over?  So, what to do?  Do I dwell on all the misfortunes I have experienced or do I try to hold on to the things I am and should be grateful for?  Seems like such an easy question to answer doesn’t it?  I should instinctively say I am THANKFUL for being alive, my family, my friends, my passion for organ donation, my dogs, my bike, my many many trips I am able to take, yet I am not completely convinced I feel this thanks deeply in my heart.

I think after I write this post and I’m reminded how fortunate I am, I hope to end with a truly genuine thanks. Let’s see how I feel as I write and post some of my favorite pictures from the Fall of 2014.  I don’t BS, been told I offer too much information, TMI, but again this is me and what I like to do is actually write how I am felling in the moment and I just happen to share it with well?  A few people around the world. ;-)

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Crossing the Border – Day trippin’ in Washington State

October 30th 2014

I made another last minute decision to take a 2 night ride across the border into Washington State.  First time I think I have had no dogs to care for and absolutely no other real responsibilities  at home.  This prompted me to get away yet again. So, off I left around 1430 on Thursday to head down to Washington.  Short back country ride to La Conner for the night.

Pouring rain, lot’s of wind and then everything calmed down as I pulled into La Conner.  Known for it’s tulip festival in the Spring. Continue reading

Tofino, BC Part 2 – click on the pics

A few weekends ago I went on a two night trip to Tofino.  It’s a great little ocean town on the west coast of Vancouver Island.  My goal in the future when off call from work and off work in general is to try to take as many “little” trips as I can to get away SOLO.  I find these trips to be helpful for the soul and exploring places near and far from my own home actually quite adventurous and rewarding.

When I arrived in Tofino is was a beautiful day but you could tell by looking out into the Pacific a storm was brewing.  This place is not only known for it’s surfing but also WELL known for it’s storm watching.

The system that passed through when I was there wasn’t anything too exciting.  No thunder, lightning etc…just pouring rain but gave the beach, the water a much different ambiance to this area. A much different feel then when the sun was out.  Continue reading

TOFINO, BC Weekend to clear the head

If anyone has been following my “story” you will know I have recently separated from Cheryl.  Just this past week I became the sole owner of my house and needless to say I am overwhelmed with mixed emotions.  So, what I do best is get out of town on my F800 to clear my head.  On Oct 3rd, yesterday I did just that…headed out early to take the BC Ferry to Vancouver Island with my destination for the day Tofino, BC.  Tofino is right smack on the Pacific Ocean.  Been here years ago but wanted to return.

tofino aerial no url sm_1 Continue reading

My X Country SOLO Trip Slide Show

It’s long but made for me to share with you.  Music included were the tunes I listened to a lot throughout my journey.  Some may sound depressive some may not.  All have meaning to me and I can actually visualize the sights, sounds, smells and weather of course throughout my trip based on songs.  It’s a cool way to correlate all the many places I was fortunate to explore from May 17th – June 15th 2014.  At the end of course is my tribute to me Beagle, Cruizer….I hope some will watch and get a flavor of what it is like to travel 14,107 KM’s.  Leslie

Day 23 & 24 – Taking it down a notch

I camped out on a lake about 15 mins way from the dock where the fast ferry leaves Muskegon, MI to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.I took thisferry back in 2010 when I rode cross-country then. That year I went west to east. Also, I remember arriving in Milwaukee in 2010 the day they got over 7 inches of rain in a few hours and being soaked to the bone when boarding the ferry at that time. Heading east to west this time around it was an over cast sky but not anything like 2010 except the Lake had waves 3-5 feet. They put out an announcement for passengers to be aware that it was going to be a rough crossing and if they felt they might get sick please see an employee about gettingsea sick pills or a patch.
They were very correct that many would get sick. The crossing appeared to make the little kids throw up constantly as well as some adults. I thought I would succumb at first but was able to get my equilibrium back and make it all the way across without even feeling nauseous. It was sort sad to see so many using the barf bags especially the kids. I swear these Great Lakes sure deserve their names. They are HUGE. 2.5 hours to cross Lake Michigan. At $146 for my bike and me I guess it’s an ok deal seeing it cuts out about 2 days riding if I went around.Before I got the dock I rode through Musekgon and found a very cute little place for breakfast.

Love these off beat places. My ferry wasn’t leaving until 1015 so I had time. I also had time to think about the couple sleeping in the tent next to me. All night and including the morning this woman was just abusing her very whipped husband verbally. They fought and then would make up…it was like listening to some sort of “white trash” TV episode. Unbelievable how some forget they are in a tent and I really had no need to hear the details of how he was disappointing her on their tent trip.

Their tent was HUGE with a queen sized blow up mattress but he couldn’t please her enough and I really felt like I wanted to “save” him but I put my ear plugs in and shut them out.

Breakfast was really good as often it is at greasy spoons.

Couldn’t eat all the potatoes. Not very good for me anyway. I noticed a few guys hanging out around my bike and when I got done it appeared they were waiting for the “rider” to make claim to this bike. I have heard this comment almost once day…”Oh crap it’s a chick”. In any case, tons of questions about what was loaded on my bike, how much does it weigh, how far am I am going and then “keep the rubber side down” comments which in the end they were three Harley riders. Impressed by the fact I was wearing gear they also said “don’t you get HOT wearing all that stuff”. Anyway…I quickly explained my theory about gear and off I went.

Muskegon is a very small town and it was empty when I was riding through. There seems to always be one landmark or more that catches my eye in these little towns and this historic house did. Beautifully restored and just stood out.

It was beautiful and I found myself just sitting on my bike looking at it for about 15 mins.

Ended up riding down by the water and this ship, the USS Silversides caught my eye.

Silversides, a national landmark and a museum, at “full dress ship” in Muskegon

How can it not catch an eye it’s huge, very OLD and actually very cool but not open to tour when I got there.I arrived with a 1/2 hour to spare before the Lake Express showed up. Impressive how they unload and quickly re-load this boat. It’s fast and when you get on especially for this ride the crew was warning all the bikes to really tie down. There were about 6 Harley riders from Ohio on their annual ride to somewhere. 6 friends and their bikes.I have never tied down my bike by myself before. When traveling in two there are always roles aren’t there? So, as a soloist now I figured it out, I know not rocket science but the tie downs are a bit tricky. I refused to ask for help from the guys getting their HD’s secured. Stubborn I suppose but I ended up doing ok as the crew inspected my bike and said “well done” it’s not going anywhere.

Of course I was the only female. Come to think of it so far by Day 23 I hardly have seen any female riders on the road except a few HD riders who were out for what appeared to be local rides and a few grrls on sport bikes. Tons of pillion passengers on Goldwings and HD’s were women but not riding their own bikes. I never saw another female on a DS the entire trip.

So off we went, to me it was a quick trip across the lake even though it was over 2 hours. I put my SPOT in one of the rescue boats so my track would keep tracking.

When I got off the boat I forgot my SPOT of course. Had to literally run back as they were reloading for the trip back, cruise through security which seemed to really freak the staff out and I was escorted back on to the boat to retrieve my SPOT. I was stopped and asked why I had such a device with me and why on the boat? I said it was just an innocent tracking device so I could see my route and there was no other intent other than recreational. I think the ship’s captain thought I was doing something devious

I posted this picture on my FB page and man did I get a response. The story behind this was there were 6 Harley riders on the boat. They just happened to ride Harley’s and the beer comment I made had nothing to do with their bikes has to do with the riders. I noticed 3 drinking beer as soon as we took off on the ferry. Early morning drinkers I suppose. 2 of them had three beers during the crossing and obviously got on their bikes. I made contact with one guy, their friend and expressed my concerns about the drinking and riding. The man agreed with me he shared my concerns, stated 2 are alcoholics and need to drink. I was told by some FB comments I should have called the police. I didn’t. I spoke to their friend and he said he would “baby sit” and he goes through this struggle with these guys every ride.

Not sure if I should have made a call to 911 or informed the staff but at the time I did what I thought was right. Hope they stayed safely on their bikes and as for me? I have a zero tolerance for drinking and riding period. I do however, have no issues with parking the bike for the day and drinking whatever you want.

I am not an overly spiritual person but there is something about Saint Christopher I believe in. A gift from some friends before I left…the medal, three amethyst stones to represent my three friends and a butterfly for new beginnings. I kiss this every morning just so I know someone is over looking me throughout this trip. My attention to karma and powers bigger than me gets stronger as I head towards to the Badlands, Blackhills and even Yellowstone.

Once off the boat I navigated around the city and construction. The winters sure wreak havoc on many of the roads in this region and construction seems ongoing and does at times pose a challenge for the bike to keep two wheels planted. My Karoo 3 tires absolutely hate the black snakes on the road dry or wet. For those who do not know what a black snake is?

It’s the tar they use to fill the cracks on roads. I found these tires to be FANTASTIC on pavement and off-road but they are showing wear and I got them on in CT.

While heading to my unknown destination for the day it warmed up, sun came out and my first real encounter with getting smacked with bugs. Been sort of lucky this entire trip. No bug swarms, some black flies, mosquitoes but nothing that could not be easily controlled with a little bug spray.

Took some nice scenic back roads towards the Badlands in SD.

This rider was getting blown apart but gave me the thumbs up and seemed to be enjoying himself at about 75 mph. Can’t imagine the vibrations he must have been feeling but cool bike nonetheless.

Spent the night in Rochester, WI and awoke to this…

and it was cold heading west…

I have used my heated gear quite a bit up to this point with the only really HOT and humid days heading to North Carolina and up the coast to DC. After that little warm spell it’s been cool and typical Spring time storms that I have been riding through.

I rather have it cooler, better for my to ride longer and from what I found out better for my diabetes. Found out that HEAT, riding long distances really makes it hard for me to keep my sugar levels up but I worked that out by eating different trail mix and even eating McDonald’s at some points to just get a quick fix of carbs and calories.

Odometer keeps clicking, 23,000 KM’s for today.

I really like the eye protection I have worn for this trip. The lens on these glasses transition and adjust to the light. Very nice to have because I wear them all the time night or day. Here you can see them clear but once the sun comes out of there is brightness they darken up pretty quickly. Anyway, I like them, have good coverage for when I open my shield and work.

I got to South Dakota with my destination being the Badlands. I have never been to this park and on my return trip I decided I need to go. I was also told by many to go there as well to well??? Feel the power of this area. Like I said I am not overly spiritual but after I got to ride the park all by myself because I woke up at 0500 to do so, I can tell you there is something special about this area.

I fast tracked my ride using the interstate to get to the park before it was too late in the day. My ride really didn’t start from Wisconsin until about 1500 hrs.

Weather got so much better which was a nice relief. One thing I really love about my gear is not only is it so comfortable I barely feel like I am wearing a technical suit, but no matter the weather…I am protected without stopping having to put on a rain suit or liners. I just make sure all the vents are closed in rain and open when it gets warm. Add a heated liner and I am all good. Simple.

Getting close to the park you can see such a change in the horizon and terrain. From flat to rugged in the middle of what felt like no where. When I traversed South Dakota in 2010 I felt like it was boring. I look back and no know we were BORING. Took the wrong route, by passed the best park of this state. I love being my own navigator. I know I have missed a lot of this trip, will need to go back and hit other roads and attractions but for my first time out, I don’t even have a paper map at this point it fell apart, I think my route day to day planning worked. Using my GPS to help find everything from parks to lodging etc…seemed to work out well enough without really having a plan.

I arrived to the Badlands late in the day and there were cars and tourists all over the place. Me being one of them. I tried to get camping and not ride the park at this time but everything was full to my surprise. I ended up at little motel outside the park in the town Interior for the night.

I found out the park is open 24 hours a day and made the decision to wake up early, not hard for me to do as I don’t sleep well…and ride the park at dawn with hopes no one would be up. Later I found my plan worked out perfectly.

The beginning of the park was a neat foreshadow of what I would see on Day 25 but nothing prepared me for what I was going to hear halfway through this spiritual land.

I got settled into my room, tried to relax a bit and started to plan my route for the next day which was supposed to be more slowing it down a bit. The last report I got about my beagle Cruizer after being diagnosed with a late onset of Addison’s Disease was that he was doing well. I was sort of trying to rush home because I felt he needed me but did find some peace knowing he was in great loving hands and at this time felt a sense of relief knowing he seemed to be getting “better”. Went to bed early for my hope to be lone ride through the Badlands the next day. To be continued.

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