2008 Trip recap and highlights

So it’s over, our summer 2008 motorcycle trip.  We traveled approximately 4600  miles in about 12 and a half days.  No, not much per IronButt standards but we actually stopped, and saw stuff.


We touched, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, and of course Kansas.


  • The ride on Route 20 from Sioux City to O’Neill Nebraska We were in riding right between two fronts for a while, there was an awesome lighting show off to the left, with beautiful blue sky’s off to the right.
  • The Badlands, SD:  Wow, that place is simply amazing.

    From 2008 Trip
  • Custer SD, Mount Rushmore, and the Black Hills area. Simply spectacular views, and outstanding roads. Custer is a great little town to visit.

    From 2008 Trip
  • The Winchester restaurant in Buffalo, Wyoming.  Simply awesome steaks.
  • Bighorn National Forest, Beartooth Pass, and the Shoshone National Forest. Simply amazing views, great altitude, and great roads.

    From 2008 Trip
  • Cody, Wy.  Another cool town, and the Rodeo was fun
  • Yellowstone National Park, Absolutely beautiful.

    From 2008 Trip
  • Jackson Hole, Wy I could see why you’d want to live here, a tad too touristy though.  This is where the white water rafting on the snake river didn’t happen.
  • Mount Evans, Co.  A fabulous ride up to the top of the highest paved road in America.

    From 2008 Trip
  • Steamboat Springs, Co. Another very cool ski town and where we met Harley-Mike.  The Accommodations at the Bristol Inn downtown were fantastic, I’d highly recommend staying there.

    From 2008 Trip
  • Cripple Creek, Co.  A former mining town, now a Casino heaven.

    From 2008 Trip
  • Manitou Springs, Garden of the Gods, and Pikes Peak.  All well worth it.  We had an outstanding meal at the Stagecoach in Manitou Springs.

    From 2008 Trip
  • Golden, Co. Seeing a few fellow FJR Riders and their machines in Golden at NAFO, even though I didn’t stay…

    From 2008 Trip

Low Lights:

  • Sioux City, Iowa…  What was that smell…  Sewer City may be a better name.
  • Having the XM radio on the Zumo crap out two days into the trip, then having a button fall off the dang thing.   It quit completely after the mount sat out in the rain for a day but at least the GPS functions came back and I had the ability to play the 389 mp3’s I had loaded.  Without that I would have gone crazy.
  • The Golden Hotel in O’Neill Nebraska…  At least the room I stayed in, everyone else was happy with the accommodations.  I would stay there again, just not in that room.
  • The Chinese restaurant next door to the Golden Hotel…  Not good.
  • Kyle Sr’s Crash, but he’s fine and bikes can be replaced.

    From 2008 Trip
  • Mount Rushmore, Charging $10 per vehicle to simply park and to visit the ‘Visitor Center’ and I’m sure spend $4 on a drink.  No-Thanks.
  • BMW MOA Rally in Gillette, Wy.  I was personally disappointed with the vendor attendance.  I know it was out in the middle of nowhere and you can’t please everyone.  Since we only stayed one day it wasn’t that bad.  Had we been there for more than one day it would have been wasteful. 
  • Route 789 from Wyoming to Colorado…  A barren waste land and no fun at all in 95+ degree heat.

    From 2008 Trip
  • The Flat Tire I got on the way to Mount Evans. Though plugging it was easy enough with the right tools.
  • Kansas, All of it.  HOT, flat, boring as hell.

All in all this was a trip of a lifetime.  Getting to do it with my dad was special too.  We laughed a lot and learned a lot.  I wish we would have had more time.   The overall cost of the trip was well under budget.  I didn’t spend any real money at the rally because the vendors I wanted to see weren’t there.  We lucked out with hotel accommodations just about everywhere.  In most cases we were under $120 for a room with 3 beds.  Split 3 ways that’s less than $40 a night.  You can hardly camp for that and have a good place to sleep, and a warm shower.

We lucked out with the weather for the most part.  We didn’t ride more than 300 miles of the 4600 in the rain.   We got wet now and then but it was usually welcome from the heat.

This was the perfect time of year to visit all of these places (except the parts getting to and from the west.  They pretty much sucked).

I’d do this again in a heart beat if I could.

The whole story

So on day 3 I posted about Kyle Sr. hitting a rock and breaking his bike.

While that is factual, it’s not the whole story.  We knew that my wife and my mom were following the blog.  They were already concerned about our safety and we didn’t want them to worry so details were withheld.

The full disclosure:

On our 3rd day  (Kyle Sr’s 2nd day), about 30 miles from the hotel, we had our “YouTube Moment”, or at least Kyle Sr. did.

In the Custer National Forest (just east of the Black Hills), Kyle Sr. blew a corner.  A fundamental, motorcycling 101 breakdown.

He missed on a right handed decreasing radius corner, crossing the center line.  Instead of asking more of the bike (Given his speed we’re all pretty sure it had more to give), he stood it up, when across the road (just missing a head on with a pickup) and over an embankment.

(hitting a big rock and breaking his forks so that part was factual).

The bike down in the ditch.  The photo doesn’t really show it, but that was about 8-10 feet off the roadway.  We had already moved the bike to make sure it would still run, and see if we could get it out and continue on.

The skid marks from the truck that almost hit him…  He was coming around this corner.  The ditch is to the right.

Kyle Sr. getting checked out.

At least he kept his sense of humor.

He was not ticketed, it was just dumb rider error.  Nothing more nothing less.

In all seriousness, this could have been tragic.  Kyle Sr. was bruised up a bit, but he was wearing gear, and a helmet and he walked away.  Plastic and metal can be replaced (though Insurance is usually a good thing).

Now, that being said, the same thing can happen in a car, and actually did happen to a motor home the very next day on a straight piece of road even. 

Our trip was still great but we would have loved for Kyle Sr. to have been able to finish it with us.

So there ya have it.  The rest of the story about lucking into finding someone to bring the bike home is true. 

Days 11, 12, 13

Thursday, our final real day on the trip before we start heading back is supposed to be light.

We started out the in the morning by visiting the Garden of the Gods, a really cool place.  If I were 20 years younger I’d be climbing all over those rocks.

From 2008 Trip

(more photos in the gallery)

After spending a little time there we grabbed a quick breakfast at McDonalds, then called Pike’s Peak to see if we could get up.  It was a go.

It costs $10 for the privilege of riding up the mountain.  The road wasn’t nearly as treacherous as I’d heard, and the views were spectacular. 

From 2008 Trip

We spend about an hour up top taking in the view, taking photos and what not.  Then we headed down, and it’s good we left when we did.  The mountain got pounded with rain shortly after our departure.  The unpaved areas are not good for bikes when wet.

From there we beat feet to Golden, where the first ever National FJR Rally was being held.  It was this weekend and I was on the fence about staying any more days.  Two weeks is plenty.

We slummed around the hotel for a while and I finally decided I’d see these folks again at other get together’s and it was time to head for Cincy.  Or at least put an effort towards getting  home.

We tried to beat the weather but it was brutal.  Literally raining sideways in two different directions.  I didn’t have time to stop and take any photos but clearly a tornado was in the works.   We got a good distance past the storm and stopped for dinner in Limon, Co.   While eating the storm caught us and there was no way we could ride any further.  So we grabbed a room at the nearby Best Western.   We slept from 8pm until 1am.  Riding at night across Kansas turned out to be the way to go.  It was much cooler.  We put down about 600 miles before it again became unbearably hot (and boring).  It also looked like we were going to hit St. Louis at rush hour.  Not a good thing when your tired and it’s 95+.   Again we decided a hotel with a pool was in order.   Same plan, we slept from approx 8:30pm to midnight then got up and beat feet for home.

This was a trip of a lifetime.  It was special to be able to do this with my dad, and a great friend.  It’s unfortunate that his dad couldn’t continue.  (more on that later).

I am looking forward to taking the family out west in the future.

There’s still more to write about, more thoughts, more details.  I’ll add a couple more posts about the trip after I catch up on some sleep.

Days 8, 9, 10

Well crap…  We show up at the rafting place at 7am as instructed for our 8am rafting trip.  The raft guide was there opening up the place then he looked at us like we had 3 heads.  What are you doing here? he asked.  Uh, we’re here for the breakfast and the 8 am river ride.  Then he looked befuddled.  We uh, canceled that trip..  We checked our phones and apparently we didn’t get a call, so they refunded our money.  We couldn’t hang for the 10am trip.

From there we tried to locate a pass over the Tetons but it wasn’t going to be as good as we thought and was in the wrong direction.  So we headed south towards Mount Evans.

After a good day of riding and some long boring roads we decided to stop for the night at Steamboat Springs.  We had a little trouble locating a room and the rains were coming.  We stopped at the Best Western and they told us they were booked as were all the other hotels in the town.  It was peak season after all.   After calling about 12 hotels we found rooms at the Bristol Inn, another historic hotel in downtown Steamboat Springs.  We also ran into a single guy riding a Harley.  "Harley Mike", he too needed a room, and we told him to follow us to the Bristol.   We booked our rooms, unpacked and had dinner with Mike at the Italian restaurant beneath the hotel.

Tuesday morning, we got up early and made the round about run down to Mount Evans…  Which is the highest paved road in America, higher than Pikes Peak, which is also on our list.

About 30 minutes out we stop for a pee break, and Kyle notices the screw sticking out of my rear tire.  This is exactly what we need to round off this trip.  Luckily it’s not on a sidewall and we’re equipped with plugs so we put some air in the tire and head off to a gas station that has a real air compressor.  We locate said gas station and plug the tire with my stop and go plugger (thanks for getting the for me for Christmas Claudine)

We get there and make the accent.  It takes for ever but the views are spectacular (pictures forthcoming).

Kyle doesn’t like heights much.  And really doesn’t like looking over switchbacks that have 3000 feet drop offs without guard rails.  I find that extremely ironic since he’s a pilot 😉

After about an hour at the top we’re all feeling a bit funny from the high altitude so we head down the mountain.  The altitude has taken it’s toll so we decide to look for a room and find a great deal at the Best Western in Frisco.  Again a room that sleeps 3 (in three separate beds) for the bargain rate of $91…  Can’t beat that.  Although they are all in the same room.  This will be snor-a-polooza 2008.

In Frisco we find a really good meal at some high end restaurant in a strip mall. A little rich for my tastes but the food was excellent.  Think of Hell’s Kitchen in a strip mall.

After dinner we finally get the opportunity to rest our tired bones in the Best Western Hot Tub.

Wednesday morning we head out for Pikes Peak.   But the weather is chasing us.  We stop about 30 minutes short for lunch and it’s starting to rain by the time we get going.   When we get to Pikes Peak the recommend we don’t go up because of the weather.  So we choose Plan B, which is a run in the rain to Cripple Creek, an old mining town that is now Casino heaven.  We stop at a historic jail and take a quick tour.  Then off to Starbucks.  We’re supposed to meet Frank Frederick at a Greek restaurant for dinner.   We get there on time but the restaurant is closed, like for good.  So we punt and meet Frank in Manatou Springs.   Again another great meal.  After dinner we start the hunt for a hotel.  We tried the Cliff house but were informed by the valet that the rooms are $199-$450 per night.  Just a tad out of our budget so we settle for Pike’s Peak Motel.  $89

We check in and hit their hot tub by the creek and have an interesting conversation with a family from Texas.

Tomorrow, Thursday is another light day.  We’ll try to cram some stuff in, the make the decision if I’m going top stay behind and hang with my FJR brethren at their national meet for a couple days.

More later…

Current photos are being posted now… http://picasaweb.google.com/mdisher/2008Trip

Days 5, 6, 7

So Day 5 started with getting Kyle Sr. off to the airport in a torrential down pour.  Because I used my brains (and didn’t want to ride 40 miles in a storm we got him off in a taxi.   That allowed us to sleep in somewhat then we packed up and headed for Gillette, WY.

The ride started out wet with a little rain but nothing we couldn’t deal with.

Up route 16 across Wyoming and up to I90.

The rally (for me) was somewhat disappointing…  One of the reasons you go to these things is for the vendor pavilion.  Lots of Motorcycle gadget stuff that you can always get on the Internet but you get to touch it, feel it, etc.  It’s not like the Iron Pony super store, because we don’t tend to be the chrome cruiser types that are only looking to make our bikes louder and/or shinier.

In my opinion there were only 1/3rd the vendors that were at the Vermont Rally in 06.   I can imagine the cost of getting a crew and inventory out this far was prohibitive expensive and kept a number of vendors out of the show.

So I spent $45 to get in (non-member price), and only bought a couple things…  An extra pair of rock straps, a key chain and something else I can’t remember.  I spent maybe $30 total, not including food and beer.

We did get to see the BMW stunt rider, he was pretty good.   I almost bought a new Zumo, as mine had crapped out the day before.  But it turned out to be water logged from the storm and after it dried out and worked when I went back to the bike to check.  So that saved me $700 for now.  The XM is still broken so I’m stuck with my 380 backup tunes.   They are getting kind of old.  I almost bought a new jacket and tank bag but passed on both.  I didn’t like the tank bag enough to justify the cost, and the jacked wasn’t a deal.  I’ll get one later.

Kyle went crazy and bought a bunch of stuff including a new helmet.

Overall the show was OK.   So it was off to Buffalo, WY

The ride was good, mostly slab though.   We had an excellent steak at The Winchester.  Good Wyoming beef.

The night at the Roadway Inn was uneventful.  We chilled out with a couple beers and cheep cigars.

Saturday took us up through Bear Tooth Pass.  10962 feet.  The views were spectacular.  Then down into Lovell for lunch at the switchback cafe.  A good small town restaurant.  The owner Walt had recently save a small child’s life who had choked on a life saver and delivered a baby in a broken down car on his way to doing his Christmas shopping in Billings.

On in through a corner of yellow stone to get go Cody.

In Cody we lucked into a small two bedroom cabin for $111.  We were advised to attend the rodeo, since allegedly Cody is the rodeo capital of the west.  They have a rodeo every night from June through August.  Saturday night was supposed to be the best show.  The bulls won.  Only one cowboy rode a bull for 8 seconds.

Another night of beer and cigars before we turned in.

The plan for Sunday was Yellowstone to see the geyser and then to Jackson Hole, if not further.  We wanted to pass over the Tetons but there wasn’t a route that we could get to, so we may hit that Monday.

The trip through Yellowstone was fairly uneventful.  We saw some wildlife.  A couple elk, a few deer, and buffalo.  No bears though 🙂

Mexican for dinner in Jackson, it was great, and fairly affordable.  The beer and cigars… not so much.  All good beers were $10 a six pack.

We decided to take a white water rafting trip on the snake river.  We’re doing that tomorrow at 8am.

More photos uploaded to: http://picasaweb.google.com/mdisher/2008Trip