Monday, September 5, 2016

The Journey to the Journey

4:15 am, that is what time we finally pull out of the drive.  Our journey has begun. For the next three days there would be no motel rooms, no restaurants. Only gas fill ups and the occasional snooze at the truck stops. Behind us on the trailer are the motorcycles. The van, now thirteen years old is towing the trailer with bikes better than I expect.  Although Andy claims not to have had a second thought about it. He has an advantage I don't. He's spent the last month making sure the van is ready for the trip. Our destination? Arizona. One of the states on my bucket list. 

Andy being ever frugal, refused the swap out the trailer tires before we leave as they still had "meat" on them. Although not born a New Englander, he possesses the New Englander's spirit of frugality. The old saying, "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without" could have been coined by him. We have a spare set in the van, and after the 1st thousand mile have to find someone along our route to mount them on the rims. The "spares" are actually car tires and seem to be doing a better job than any trailer tire we've ever sunk good money into.

As the country side rolls by, we find that we enjoy this part of the trip as much as we do the actually riding part. From just what crops are growing, changing accents of the locals to even what we see as road kill, all of it is interesting to us. Traveling by day and by night has its oddities too. You meet a different breed of people on the night road. At one truck stop we met a chatty trucker. He had no southern twang and it turns out he and his brother had, a few years back, gone in together on a rig, quit their jobs in their home state of Connecticut and never looked back. He just loves being on the road.

On day three we arrive at our destination of Holbrook Arizona. Tomorrow our two wheeled adventure beings.  Although I had wanted to stay in the iconic Wigwam motel, there is alas "no room at the in". So the Super 8 it is. And after a dip in the pool, we enjoy our first real meal and next, I will lay my head tired body on an actual bed for a good nights rest.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Odyssey on Two Wheels

Odysseys is defined as a long wandering voyage or journey full of adventure. Also as a series of experiences that give knowledge or understanding. That is how I feel about our upcoming two wheeled expedition. At the end of this week, we will hook up the trailer, travel more than 2,000 miles to embark on our own Arizona odyssey. Granted some of the knowledge or understanding may be learned in just the nearly nonstop drive we are planning to get there. It will be a true test of our nearly 40 year marriage. (40 years in October.) A test of endurance for sure.

I have charted out a very ambitious circuitous route of over 1,000 miles for the two wheeled portion of our odyssey. Usually, when people think Arizona, they also think Grand Canyon. There will be no major tourist stops unless you consider Sedona high on that list. So let me dissuade you from that image before it burns into your mind.

Beginning in the northeast portion of the state we will “attempt” to get a room at the iconic Wigwam motel. If not, a photo stop is on my list for sure. From there we will visit the Petrified Forest, then make a stop at the Impact Crater. Something I have only seen from a plane. Then we make our way to Flagstaff. After a small jaunt north to Sunset Crater, we will continue southerly visiting cities and towns like Sedona, Prescott, Wickenburg, and Jerome, eventually ending us in Tombstone. After Tombstone we will test or mettle on Devils Highway as we close the loop. (Check out the great blog in the link.)

The Wigwam Motel
Holbrook AZ

It’s been a long summer with a modicum of riding compared to what we typically do. We’ve spent a good portion of our time on the hunt for a replacement bike for Andy, and in dealing with insurance companies. To say I’m looking forward to this trip would be an understatement. I love traveling and there is no better way to see this great country of ours than on two wheels. And considering that this is the 100 anniversary of the National Parks system, a number of our stops will be through several. Stop back here in the next two weeks and I will post photos of our stops, and update with longer text as time permits. Don’t forget to check out my Facebook page, Motorcycle Touring and Travel Community. Like my page so you are notified when I post photos there as well.

Our planned loop.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Déjà Vu

When all was said and done, the insurance company returned a verdict of “totaled” for Andy’s 2004 Vulcan.  The dejected look on Andy’s face said more than any words he could have expressed. He loves that motorcycle! Then began his investigation into purchasing the bike back from the insurance as salvage and rebuilding the bike to its glory.  First we discovered the true cost of rebuild which was astronomical, but that wasn’t the only problem. We would have to apply for a “salvage title” from the state at a cost of $10. Then once repaired would be subjected to the state’s approved “savage inspector” at a cost of $50. Followed by a regular state inspection, and new registration. All in all, it really wasn’t worth it, but Andy being who he is needed to see all the facts laid out.

Hence began our search for a replacement for the same price the insurance was paying us for the totaled bike. Where are you going to find a great bike for $3100? One that would be everything you had just lost. We did find a few in our price range but none of them “called” his name. His loss was too fresh and no substitute was going to fill that void.

Then on Craigslist to my amazement I saw a motorcycle twin just a 45 minute ride away. We went for a visit. The ad said “needs battery and tune up”. So Andy came prepared with the battery from the old bike. We arrived and saw the bike, body was great, mileage only 12,000. Wow, on a 2004? That’s barely broken in. And before even sitting on the thing Andy was making an offer of $3100, which the guy seemed all too quick accept.

That is when Andy decided to pop in the battery and take her around the block. Once the battery was in, the bike was hard to start. After a few backfires, she started and off he went. But on his return, having been alerted with “hard to handle steering” he had a change of heart. They guy dropped it another $100. Andy apologized and said we would be going on our way.

In the next week we saw nothing else for sale in our price range. We also spoke with a few dealers about the hard steering. With their suspicion that the bald tires would cause that, we sent the guy a note and said we’d take it for the $3000. It was a gamble.

Andy went to get it, loaded on the trailer and brought it home. Then began the stripping of chrome and bags off the old bike and transferring it to the new. Andy even swapped the tires out too. Poor old totaled Vulcan looked a sight, but new Vulcan was looking better than ever. Andy feverishly spent every spare hour at it as we weren’t sure when the salvage truck would arrive.

Once the new replacement Vulcan had all the chrome, highway bar, bags and new tires on, Andy once again tried to start it. Nothing happened. It sputtered but not even a backfire could be had. He got off the bike, removed the air filter cover and discovered a family of mice had taken up residence! Once cleared out the bike started and off to the dealer for a tune up.

I’m happy to report that the bike runs like a charm. The mechanic was impressed with the nice body and running condition after its tune-up. And just in time as we are now on schedule for our epic vacation to Arizona; the major reason for the frenetic search for a replacement.  I find it amusing that the bike is identical save the windshield, backrest and lack or light bar, but to each his own. And none too soon as the truck was in sight.

Old Bike

New Bike

Donating parts and chrome.

Getting some chrome.

Seeing double

Goodbye old friend. Such an undignified end.