I have been back now almost 2 weeks and have had time to reflect on this trip. I think I feel like most when we return home whether it’s from a weekend trip, month or longer. I have the longing feeling to be back on the road. Don’t get me wrong, life on the road is not easy especially if you have only a certain amount of time to achieve your goal in mileage. There is no time to be lazy, the weather can be daunting but in the end it’s the freedom from reality, the control one has over their own destiny on a daily basis, witnessing your surroundings by being a apart of them versus a passerby that I miss all the time. Continue reading
Arrived home June 14th, 2014 – these are catch up posts. Day 27 was June 12th.
After spending time in South Dakota and Wyoming I have a whole new appreciation for this region. Although much of the states can appear to be “flat” everything this time around for me, verses in 2010 when I rode x country had a beauty to it.
June 11, 2014
When I woke up and was loading my bike up I looked up at the sky and saw this…
I thought to myself, “OK, here we go again.” Continue reading
Badlands, SD and Blackhills
I am not a writer by far, I am a person who uses my blog as away to document my passion for riding and my other passions, my life, home, dogs, work and wildlife. It’s my journal into my life even though I share it with well, the “world” to read. Making new memories? Yep…this will sound funny but I like to stream pics through my Apple TV. I am getting tired of seeing all my trips with my ex other half. I am looking forward to actually streaming while listening to my music new pics…pics of trips I take alone versus the past. So, yes…Making new memories as Leslie only.
I want to try something new. I want to start focusing on my future especially since yesterday June 10th will now be the anniversary of my dog Cruizers death. I spent last night texting my “support” system back home in both directions. West and East. I tried to face time my folks to let them know I was Okay but no answer. I had my sister-in-law call them after I heard the news.
My parents and I think for the most part have witnessed how Cruizer and I got along. ;-) I received a face time request from a friend/colleague and to my surprise she was in the office where almost my entire team was present. I have not been very present at work over the last 5 months to be honest. That too is something I want to get back, my passion for organ donation and my new role as family support program director/developer. I have had a buddy or two all along this trip to remind me to eat and rest. They know who they are and with everyone I feel this trip, my blog, FB and the readers on the ADV Rider forum it’s been a solo trip with many following. I kind of like that, best of both worlds.
This was the view where I was when I heard about Cruizer. At least I was thinking wow this is a little like a piece/slice of heaven only to realize that Cruizer was all ready there…
As I head home I been listening to the final chapters of “Ghost Rider”, by Neil Peart. I have an hour left. A truly well written or in my case well audible book that if you have experienced loss and ride a motorcycle, then you could not help to relate to the way he went about trying to heal and mend his broken heart. I only wish I could write like Neil. His attention to details about his first cross-country trip to Alaska and beyond was truly amazing. I have taken a bike to many of the places he went to but never paid the same attention. I learned so much about what he saw, what I saw too and listened intently to his details. Was as if I never been to those places when I heard how he described them.
The most important lesson I am learning from this book is he had it worse than me. Ok, let’s rephrase that because it’s so easy to get caught up in a bit of a grief competition. I heard from a wise teacher there is no rewards for speed when it comes to grief it’s not a competition. Grief belongs to the individual no matter what the loss. I have to remind myself of that because I am after all competitive by nature, stereotypical Type A, need to control my surroundings…well, you get the gist.
I left on May 17th, 2014 for a ride across the country. I had pre-determined places to stop and tried to meet as many people on the road as I could. I missed many who tried to accommodate my day-to-day route planning, and many of my wants to meet people fell through. I think I may have hurt some feelings by not making a connection and I am sorry for that, I really am but in the end it turned out to be sort of impossible.
I am going to try from now on leave the name Cheryl out of my posts. The main purpose of my endurance ride was to shed the hurt and pain I suffered and still do to a degree when she left. I need to as a wise woman said to me in Geneva, NY….”put that away”. I am or let’s be honest I am trying for sake of me, my job, the people who care and worry about me.
Yesterday, I awoke really early to ride the Badlands National Park before all the cagers (cars) woke up. I succeeded in a big way. I had the park for almost my entire ride and exploration to myself with a few cyclists. Not sure if many know this but the park is open 24 hours a day because it’s used by truckers as a “short cut” and is part of the main highway system out there.
Badlands National Park is a national park in southwestern South Dakota that protects 242,756 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States. Wikipedia
It was a cool, crisp morning, 12.5 C or 54.5 F and the sky was clear, blue a sunny.
I went here as a side trip because I was asked to and I am glad I did. I was told maybe I would feel some sort of spiritual connection with the Native American history of the park. Not sure about that part but I did allow myself to slow down and take the rare beauty of this area in. I was for the first half of my ride as they say, “stopping to smell the roses”. Perhaps Cruizer was telling me to so I could have the soulful experience most tell me I would before I would hear of those “bad” words, Cruizer has died.
The sun was still rising by the time I got into the park. I am certain if you go here, depending on the time of day, sunlight etc, this park would take on a different appearance each time. Without cagers, without the tourist traffic jams I have to say it was magical. As a solo rider I have found when I am around large groups of people who do not ride my type of bike, I feel I have nothing in common with them. I get the weirdest questions and I also get Kudos from travelers who wished they were on a bike like mine and my trip. Many men who were driving an RV would say to me in secret, “if I could only ditch the family for a month or two I could be on a trip like you”. I think they mean that in a loving caring way and I know many dream about taking off for a month or more like I do. My response is find a way to make a trip you dream about without hurting anyone’s feelings.
Trips like this can be seen as egocentric. In my case I am egocentric…I mean I am the one in crisis right? Time to move on from that too…thinking it’s all about me is getting to be annoying not only I am sure to those I talk to most but to me as well. I annoy me. “Pull yourself up” Leslie. You are stronger than you think. I hear this all the time but need to absorb how others see me. “You suck at taking compliments”. I think many of us do. All good observations, all ones I will pay more attention to as I move forward into my “new normal”.
Jumping ahead for second, meet Dan. I decided at the last-minute and I mean last-minute as I would have missed to exit off I-90 to ride the scenic by way through the Blackhills. A very fine twisty road made for a little speed and lot’s of leaning into curves. I loved it and as for the cars? Well, they were easily passed with a little touch of the throttle so I could ride the curves with little interruption.
The above picture I met Dan from Kentucky. Riding an old school BMW, forgot to ask what year, that he rebuilt for his adventure. Dan struck me as a bit of a lost soul as I began talking to him. I told him about my dog but nothing about the real reason behind this trip. He began to tell me, because I asked of course what he was doing out and about. Turns out he is unemployed. He used to teach math/sciences to high school kids but realized he does not want to teach. Dan is smart….really smart but is out riding his Beemer to figure his own life direction. I felt for him but found some peace when I found out he feels the same as me about riding. Passion or obsession…either way it is better than drinking or drugging.
We chatted awhile, he then went north I went south only to run into one another heading west on I-90 hours later. We rode me in the lead until Wyoming…we just simply waved to one another and I tried to take his picture while riding but I don’t see it on my camera. That sucks. In any case while I turned off at the visitors area he continued west, waved good bye and that was it. I wish him luck in finding himself. That is what he is doing, trying to figure it all out. Amazing how many of us use our bikes as a therapeutic tool. Listen to Ghost Rider, he did. I have an hour left by the way before that book is done.
This morning I can say this appeared to be the road less traveled. I pretended it was because like I said most people were still sleeping by the time I packed up to ride. I even saw a few awake, humans that is stretching and yawning as I passed campgrounds.
It doesn’t take long to see why this place is one to be visited. It is like a grand canyon of sorts above the land and down below. It’s pretty cool how mother nature continues to erode this area and changing its form slowly each year. Today it was not windy, it was a perfect day to ride.
You can see a cyclist in this pic. Probably wondering about. I did not hike the trails, was planning on doing that later on in the park but half way through when I heard about my dog, my focus was on my house sitters, my dog and me.
If I had longer I would have ridden more of their dirt roads which had signs warning you that these dirt roads were meant to be on only in dry weather. I would imagine they would easily flood. Felt good to ride dirt even for a few hours versus thousands of Km’s. I will take it…this has been a long ride mileage wise. One I could only do in my time by riding asphalt and keeping up some speed.
I left the pavement, which I am sure many GS riders will be happy to hear for the dirt of the Badlands. “Road is for dry weather only” the signs say. It was dry and perfect weather as far as was concerned. My new tires loved the mud and gravel. Nothing technical but if you weren’t paying attention, look where you want to go kind of thing, you could easily get caught in the HUGE ruts in the mud.
I like riding two-track roads. I like going where most cars won’t although these roads most could. In any case I still had these roads to myself and it was quite peaceful. I use the word peaceful a lot these days because I always feel as of late to be in turmoil. One drama after another. Dramatic yeah…that is how I feel I am behaving…so dramatic and overly emotional. Internal conflict I struggle with and need to hear I will be OK with my new life. Life now without Cruizer.
The dirt makes every BMW GS bike a happy bike with a rider who also becomes happy too. Again for all the non riders out there. It’s hard to explain the freedom a motorcycle can bring to ones psyche. It’s about feeling where you ride versus being a passive observer. Being part of the climate, the smells and yes the weather is all part of it making even the same ride feel different every time you do it on a bike.
Road to no where it seemed but it led to others just like it. I bet you could ride all day back here and not be seen but I had to get back to reality…soon after this little off-road stint I got the news from home and then most everything else became a blur.
Frantic texting to home about the necropsy, the colour of the urn, do I want a paw print etc. I have had three cats I put down due to illness and never really thought about getting their ashes back or paw prints. But this was easy for me…the answer was yes to everything and I told Taylor and Dave pick the colour of the urn. You loved Cruizer like me.
Another challenge for me lies ahead. Keep my head on straight, focus on riding now my woes to get home. Getting home also is creating a little anxiety because everything that has happened since I left I get to see…furniture moved out and now one less dog. It’s tempting to “quit” life and stay on the road but I need to face reality and make sure that this ride was not wasted. That this personal challenge to ride solo across the country can be of some use in my everyday life. We will find out soon enough.
My bike turned 24,000 KM’s on this day…# 25. I will get back to days 22-24 at some point but since I was up early, have this ride fresh in my mind, I don’t take notes…I thought get day 25 out there. I will pack up soon…it’s now 0512, have some breakfast and then off I go. Good news…weather for the region over the next few days is actually to be on the cool side. No high 30 C or 90 F. Somewhere between 70-80 or 20′s C. For that I have to be thankful…I am not a great rider in the blaring sun and heat. Cooler weather I could ride forever.
I forgot to add I did stop at Wall Drug but by this time I was so upset and crying I think I was freaking the tourists out. I had a quick bite to eat and left this town as it was filling up with strangers. ;-)
So, this day I dedicate to my beloved Cruizer and ride with him for him. I never say I love you enough to most humans…so, I do love my human friends and family don’t get me wrong…but the love I felt for Cruizer was different. I have to work hard to hold back my tears right now. can’t ride with puffy eyes. I hope I can compartmentalize today and make some ground. Until next time…thanks for reading…
PS…My tires loved the dirt….
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.
Ended up riding down by the water and this ship, the USS Silversides caught my eye.
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.
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.
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.
Seems like so long ago I was a guest at the Dundas Glen Bed & Breakfast. Located in Dundas, Ontario near Hamilton. I was the first guest at this newly soon to be open B&B. Hosted by Travis and Susan and their little daughter Georgia. I arrived here on Day 21 and spent a night chatting with the Hosts about my travels and their travels over a great steak dinner, salad, beer and baked potatoes. ;-)
Travis has been one of my face book page readers as well as the blog and invited me to come stay with his family back in March. Glad this layover got to happen and my route took me this way.
Travis owns the same bike as mine and both are ADV riders. They are also hoping to get known in the ADV world as a B&B that will accommodate travelers like myself and offer a very cozy and hospitable place to stay and eat for passerby’s. Continue reading
I woke up at 6am and finished putting together a few things that I take with me on trips. Leslie mentioned that her chain was feeling really tight and odd so I brought my tool roll in order to adjust it quickly before we head out. The ride out to Stony Brook, NY was a bit chilly but I had my vents open so that made sense. I arrived a bit early and met Leslie with a big hug. She was visiting her parents for a few days before making a u-turn and heading back to B.C. Canada. After chatting a bit and meeting her lovely mom (Who wanted to make sure I wasn’t related to Donald Trump before I visited) who thought is inconceivable that Leslie would want to meet total strangers and go for a day trip. I then went to check the tension on Leslie’s chain and it turned out that it was VERY loose. So I got my tool roll out and started to loosen the main axel bolt. There seemed to be a lot of lock tight or something preventing the bolt to be removed but I think there was a lot of excess chain wax that was making the removal difficult (and I think it was over torqued).
Tensioning the chain.
Leslie’s childhood friend Dean arrived next with his Harley, I finished with the chain, and we were then ready to go.
The 3 bikes.
Such a beautiful bike, and I want that front fairing……
We then headed out with me leading to go get some breakfast.
I had done a bit of looking around to see if there were any cool breakfast dives near Stony Brook
and I found this little diner called The Cook Room in Middle Island.
This old diner turned out to be quite cool, the perfect place for the start of a good road trip. As we ate omelets, sausage, toast, and many other delicious eats we all chatted about Leslie’s trip. I was quite fascinated to find out that Leslie was very open with her story and breakup which I think is the first thing you have to be in order to let go of the past and onto a brighter future. She’s been on a hell of a trip so far and it’s great to hear about the cool stories in person.
We then saddled up and we decided to take Leslie’s GPS route rather than mine since it had us going over ferries. (way cooler!)
Along our route we stopped by this roadside beach to take a breather and take a few photos.
As we continued our journey we came upon the North Ferry in Greenport, NY that would take us to Shelter Island.
We then boarded and made our way to the Island.
I always like taking ferries and when traveling by bike it makes it that cooler of a trip.
homes and scenery.
Ahh what it must be like to be vacationing here..
We then came to the South Ferry and made our way to Sag Harbor. (Leslie got onto me for taking too many photos and not taking in the scenery!)
We headed towards East Hampton and Montauk Hwy and saw a procession of quite a few people riding dirt bikes as well as firetrucks and other cars and trucks. Must of been local hero that had passed away.
As we headed into Montauk we came across a huge American flag hung from a firetruck latter.
We arrived in Montauk which is one of my favorite small towns. It is a wealthy beach town but doesn’t feel like it. No big skyscrapers, no lavish estates, just a quiet awesome little town.
We then proceeded to Montauk Point where the iconic lighthouse is.
After getting robbed paying $8 per bike we parked and made our way to the lighthouse. We could of fit all 3 bikes in one car parking spot but the lady wasn’t having any of our guff.
Such a beautiful place!
We had to purchase another ticket ($9) just to go up to the top of the hill to see the lighthouse!!
Leslie knew a boy she grew up with that was lost at sea and his name is on a statue here near the lighthouse.
There was a bit of a wait to go into the top of the lighthouse so we decided to skip it but we did tour the little museum.
After walking about the lighthouse and all we were getting hungry for lunch so we packed up and headed to this little seafood restaurant I had been to before.
West Lake Clam & Chowder House is where I had an amazing lobster roll before but they weren’t serving it this time. Must not be lobster season?? So I went with fish and chips, Leslie with a chicken sandwich, and Dean swordfish sandwich (more bacon than swordfish…..)
After a quick lunch and Leslie checking in on Facebook and this blog we headed out to more local roads back to Stony Brook. I had mapped out a route from Stony Brook to Montauk but I could’t for some reason reverse my route so I punched in the waypoint and told my GPS to avoid major highways and interstates. It actually turned out to be an amazing ride back! winging roads, huge fields with horses, at one point we drove through a golf course!
After a bit we stopped and got some ice cream at Carvel to cool off and give us a bit of sugar boost which Leslie needed. (again I think it was $5 for a soft serve cone. Crazy!)
We then headed back towards Sag Harbor and around the bay back towards Stony Brook. We made great time thanks to the great local roads and skipped the huge traffic jams along Montauk Highway.
Once we got back we de-saddled and took another breather. I then met Mr. Sofarelli, Leslie’s dad. He had been looking online at the SPOT page and was seeing that we were getting close! We had a good ol chat about this and that while we downloaded the days photos onto Leslie’s laptop.
I headed back to Brooklyn and miraculously avoided the traffic with the help with live traffic updates via TomTom app. (I recommend this app for dealing with nasty city traffic!) As I was about a mile or so from home I noticed my left side case was lower than normal. Turns out my lock that secured my case to the bike had broken and my case was about to fall! Luckily I caught it in time and didn’t loose all my cameras and lenses! I had this happen about a month ago and I did lose one of my cases and lost my heated gear.
Overall it was a great day with great people to ride with! It was lovely meeting Leslie and her parents. Dean was a great addition to the group and was glad he was able to join our ride. Leslie is quite the spunky gal and I think it’s great that she’s doing this trip SOLO and moving forward after a difficult breakup. She’s going to to be even stronger after all of this. I look forward to seeing her latest stories! I can’t believe how often she writes about her experiences and posting so many photos. Here I am quite a few days late and I’m just writing a small blog. I commend you Leslie!
Travel safe and hope to ride again sometime!