Alrighty then ... here's what's happening. Much to the dismay of the intelligent masses, and to the relief of the left-wing, bleeding-heart-liberal, blame-America-first crowd, my blog may be inactive for the next month ... unless perhaps I can access it using my beautiful, talented and brilliant daughter's computer while I'm there.
I'm taking my third almost annual motorcycle ride back to see my kids, and some old friends, who are about 865 miles away. Hopefully, this ride will be relatively uneventful. This is how the first two went:
Trip 1: Departed Grants Pass OR the morning of the 8th of June, in drizzling rain. Not a big deal inasmuch as I knew neither the bike nor I would melt. It quit raining about 50 miles east of Grants Pass. About 20 miles later I saw the first sign that read Snow Zone Ahead. It stirred a premonition within me, and, sure enough ... **SNOW** began falling from the sky. To make a long story short - I hit 4 snowstorms and 3 thunderstorms that first day out, and only made half the distance I had planned, which also qualified it as the most miserable day I had spent on two wheels in the entire 49 years I had been riding motorcycles (Yes, it was even more miserable than the day I totaled a bike in Las Vegas and was taken to the hospital.)
The visit itself was lovely, and then there was the return trip, during which I had a run-in with a yearling range calf. This animal had obviously placed himself in the middle of this two-lane road, waiting to ambush some human being. I had just passed a slow-moving pickup truck and was doing about 75mph when I saw it. I slid back over into my lane as soon as I could, keeping an eye on the errant calf the whole time. Not knowing what, if anything, it was going to do, I moved as close to the right-hand shoulder as I could without getting into the gravel. I was south bound and the calf was facing east - this was a good sign ... until I got within about 100 feet of it. I had slowed to about 50mph when the calf suddenly turned 180º and began ambling toward the right shoulder. "Ambling" is an excellent word to describe his movement ... not a trot, or a canter, or gallop ... just a leisurely sort of strolling movement - like what cowboys refer to as "moseying". Knowing that I didn't have sufficient time or space to go behind him, and that he could just as easily change directions again even if I did try to go behind him, I held my line along the shoulder of the road. The first thing his head hit was my left highway peg, spinning it around 180º, the second thing was my left knee (imagine being hit in the knee by a bowling ball traveling at 50mph, and then, as a final gesture of defiance, he ripped the front strap off my left-side saddlebag. I looked in my mirrors to see what the aftermath was, and I saw the calf staggering off the road and I assume that he survived our encounter. The rest of the trip was uneventful.
Trip 2: Wishing to avoid a recurrence of weather problems, I waited about 2 weeks longer to begin my second trip, leaving on the 18th of June this time. That was a good move. Other than some bothersome highway construction on I-215 and I-15 from the Salt Lake City International Airport all the way to Davis and Weber Counties 30 miles north (and perhaps even beyond, but that was as far as I was going), the trip over was relatively uneventful. I did notice that when I would come to a stop on the 2nd day of my trip, my oil warning light would come on momentarily, and then go back off. The 2nd day I was there I took the bike to a local Kawasaki dealer and asked what they might think it was, and their answer basically suggested that it was "nothing major," but that I "might want to keep an eye on it". Okie-dokie ... I can do that. A couple of days later, as I was going through one of Utah's many scenic highway construction zones, I noticed a sign that read, Speed Limit 30MPH. Glancing at my speedometer, it was reporting 100mph which, considering I was barely moving, impressed me as being an inaccurate representation of my forward velocity. As soon as I cleared the construction, I stopped the bike and looked at the speedometer which, sitting dead still, continued to register 100mph. About 3 days, and $300, later I had a shiny new, functional speedometer. Another lovely visit ... and then, there was the return trip.
Remember that little "nothing major" thing that I should "keep an eye on"? I noticed a bit of clutch slippage the last day I was there in Utah, but nothing disconcerting. It only happened when I hit the throttle with some gusto - no biggie. Or at least, no biggie while I was in civilization. Leaving a gas stop in Battle Mountain NV, I noticed that all of a sudden I had to release my clutch fully before it would even start to engage. This was not a good sign. As I returned to traveling I-80W in a hopeful manner toward Winnemucca NV, I noticed my speed increasing - gradually - and, 10 miles later, I was almost (68mph) up to the posted speed limit of 75mph. In the 11th mile, I lost all forward motion, and came coasting to a stop on the shoulder of I-80W at high noon on the 2nd of July - ambient air temperature 106º, and probably 115º coming off the concrete of the highway. I had been hoping to reach Winnemucca, knowing that there was a Kawasaki motorcycle dealership there, but it wasn't meant to be. Of course my cell phone wouldn't reach anybody out in the middle of nowhere, except 911, whom I called and explained my situation. About 45 minutes later a very nice Nevada Highway Patrolman named Cory something-or-other, showed up and summoned a tow truck for me out of Winnemucca. About 2 hours later the truck actually appeared. To make a long story even longer, while the truck operator was strapping down my bike, I rested on the trailer tongue. When he said, "Okay, all done.", I got up, took about 2 steps and went flat on my face - heat stroke! I got back up, probably within a few seconds, climbed into the air conditioned truck and rode to Winnemucca feeling like I had been under a truck. The Kawasaki dealership ordered a new clutch for me, and 3 days and $486 later, I was ready to finish my trip, the remainder of which was uneventful.
Two weeks later I sold that motorcycle, and bought a NEW 2007 Honda VTX motorcycle, which is what I'm riding over on this trip. I don't expect any problems with the bike, which has less than 6,000 miles on it today. With cooperative weather, and timid animal life, I am looking forward to a totally uneventful month on the road. (I wonder what the odds are of being struck by a sociopathic nun, thrown by an albino dwarf from a 747, while the plane, piloted by a myopic Icelander, is cruising at 25,000 feet ...)