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Emails and other weird stuff.

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For those who weren't here 

last time, allow me to add a link 

to my original page. Just click on the bike.

 

For the 2001 trip click here.

For emails from 1999 click here.

If you don't know me, and you probably don't if your at this page, I try to stop at least once a week and let everyone know how I'm doing. Sometimes a lot of stuff happens so the story can get pretty long. I try to spice it up a it with humorous comments and a dry wit. Occasionally I get a comment or two from people who seem to like me writing. And so far I haven't had any complaints, even though I tend to put people on my list even if they don't ask. I decided to put the stories here too, because I don't want anyone to miss out on all the wonderful things I have to say. (Tongue firmly in cheek). Enough with the rambling, here is the first and so far only email from the 2002 trip.

June 12, 2002

Welcome new people I hope your not confused by getting an email from someone called hi there.
I finally made it to San Diego. Thought I did have some harrowing adventures. This may be a long email so you might want to print it out and sit down on the throne, or whatever your favorite place to read is.
The wind and one red eye
I finally got started Friday around noon. I spent the last two days preparing for the trip so everything started well. My little sister Siobhan was in town so I got to see her before heading out. Traffic was light and the weather was perfect. I made great time, crossing the border to Iowa before 3. Then the wind started.
Not a tail wind, that would have been too east. Not a head wind either. No this was a crosswind from the south making me lean way over and struggle to keep on the road. I only made about 50 miles into Iowa before I had to stop and rest.
At the rest stop I noticed a big puddle of fluid under the bike. The small leak I was too busy to take back to Chicago Harley to fix seemed to be getting worse. I decided to make it to Des Moines and get it checked out. About 30 miles out the wind was so strong it blew the sun screen off my nose and into my eye. Blind in one eye, exhausted, and aching I pulled off in town. Then right there at the bottom of the ramp was Zook's Harley.
I tried to pull in but somehow I ended up on the entrance ramp back to the freeway. So I stopped and made an illegal u-turn on the ramp and headed back the wrong way. Eventually I into the parking lot. This involved much swearing and shaking of fists. I might have even punched the gas tank once or twice, but I didn't break anything.
The service guys there were great. Jeff and Jerry fixed the leak in 15 minutes flat and didn't even charge me labor costs. Considering the problem was a pinched gasket that Chicago Harley put in I was very thankful.
Back on the road I did a few hundred more miles, 50 at a time. Until I finally go too tired and slept on a table in a rest stop. I'm a little paranoid of someone taking something off the bike while I slept so I only got a few hours.
All through Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, and Utah I had to fight the wind and so far the trip wasn't very fun. I'd ride about 50 miles and stop to rest. At one point I sat for an hour in the Iron Horse Saloon talking with the owners and putting ice on my elbow and wrist. I kept going though. I had started about 4 AM and was determined to make it as close to Utah or even Nevada if I could.
Fire
The road had other intentions though. About 4:30 that afternoon I was on the Canyon Road section of I-70 in Colorado When I started seeing smoke. I thought I saw a sign saying I70 was closed due to a fire, but I didn't believe it because there was plenty of traffic on the road and no one was stopping us.
I stopped a few times to take pictures of the smoke, but continued on. In No Name Canyon I started seeing yellow above the mountain so I pulled over. It turns out I was just a few miles from the fire. The fire had jumped across the road and they were evacuating everyone. The traffic I had been seeing going the other way were people loading everything they owned onto their campers and leaving town.
I got some information from a guy from a mail packing facility in Glenwood Springs, who had actually seen the fire from work. He said the flames were 60 feet high and moving fast. The authorities had no control over the fire and the Hot shots weren't going to make it until the morning.
I turned around and headed back to the nearest gas station 20 miles back. While buying a map I overheard a lady telling another lady to just follow the wrecking truck in the parking lot. He would lead everyone over Cottonwood pass to Glenwood Springs and past the fire. They were more than happy to let me follow along to.
Out in the parking lot a cop was telling people that Cottonwood Pass was still open and to follow the wrecking truck if they wanted to go. Showing the map to the driver I asked where we were going. He pointed to an empty spot on the map and said, "The road goes down this way and around here and we come out here."
At this point I didn't know the fire was in Glenwood Springs where we were going and I also assumed that the road was just a blacktop that locals knew about. Just to small to put on a map of the state. Silly me.
We headed out of town about 30 of us. The next thing I knew we turned onto a dirt road. remember now I have a Soft tail Custom, skinny front wheel and weighing about 650 pounds by itself. Then add me and all my gear I was not ready to go offroading.
On the road I was vehicle number 5 with a huge box truck following me. Thank God he was an excellent driver because the road got very difficult. The dirt was pretty bad. With all the wind and the traffic the dust was pretty thick. Most of the time I could barely see the car in front of me. Often the dust was so thick I just headed into the thickest part and hoped that I was still on the road. Then things got really difficult.
At times the dirt got so fine it was like driving on sand only it was dust that just flew into the air making it impossible to see. At times I would see the car in front of me slid and spin as she kept trying to move so she wouldn't get stuck. The dust rose almost to my foot pegs, but that didn't matter because I was dragging my feet trying to keep the bike upright. I didn't want to fall over and be crushed by the box truck following me. I knew if he stopped in the deep dirt he would never get moving again.
This deep sand only happened for a couple of short stretches, thank heavens. Then was started going down hill. It was a very steep switch back, mostly hard packed dirt, but occasionally some of the deep stuff. Just a few inches at the most. I kept the bike in first gear and used the back brake. Of course the back brakes have about 10,000 miles on them and had just started squeaking. Not all the time just a bit. I'm definitely going to change them before I leave San Diego though.
As we went down the switchback I could hardly see, but when the wind blew a hole in the dust cloud I decided it was better not to see. The road we were going down was steep, had many sharp turns, as well as thick dust. When I could see I saw that there was no guard rail and a very steep drop off on the right. Not to mention the big truck following me.
We went up and down a few more dirt roads, but at least the dust was gone. When we finally got to pavement I was so grateful I could have kissed the ground, even if there was loose gravel everywhere. When we finally got out of there I was covered in dust from head to toe.
Bonnie and Charlie who led the trip over the mountain offered to let me shower at their house. By this time I was shaking so much I was glad for any excuse to get off the road for a little while. I showered and sat down and played with their kids for a while Charlie went out to find some dinner. When he got back he told us that the fire had burned the community center in town and was threatening the local hardware store. It turned out that they lived only a few miles from where the fire was.
Bonnie and Charlie were understandably a bit worried about their home and seemed a bit uncomfortable with a stranger there that night. So I consulted my map with Charlie and headed for the road again. About 1 or 3 in the morning I passed a car wash and stopped to clean the bike. I was so tired that I didn't want to load all my junk back on the bike. I just unrolled my sleeping pad and slept right there in the car wash.
On the road again the wind was blowing hard again. I did about 150 miles into Utah and stopped at a motel. With a 40 ounce Bud I fell asleep watching NASCAR. The next morning while loading my bike I met two guys in the parking lot. They were heading to LA and asked if I wanted to ride with them. We went 350 miles that day to the border of Nevada and California when I decided to turn around and go back to Vegas for the night. I could have made San Diego by 7, but I just couldn't pass up a night in Vegas.
Forty miles back to Vegas I staying in the Travelodge next to the Harley Cafe. They have very expensive food and weak drinks. I ended up wandering from casino to casino until I met a very loud Canadian couple. They were fun to gamble with and the next thing I knew it was 4 AM again. The pit boss, J.R. was a good guy and a biker too. He gave me a couple of free breakfast coupons and I went off to bed. I was only propositioned by one prostitute on the way home, but it seems I was too poor for her.
The trip from Vegas to San Diego was uneventful and thankfully without too much wind. In Temecula though while getting gas a lady came up to me and asked if I would be in town long. Then she gave me a flyer about a motorcycle ride and horse show this Sunday. So I guess I have plans for Sunday morning now. I probably send out an update next week on my golfing trip Thursday and the ride on Sunday.
Until then keep the rubber side down and shiny side up.
As always you can see pictures and more about the story on my website.
 
Brendan
P.S. To the new people on the list, if you don't like my long boring emails write me and I'll take you off my list. If you do like them I love to hear from you. Also feel free to share the emails with friends or send me the email address of anyone else who would like to be on the list.
 
June 29, 2002

Hello again everyone,

Well Iím almost finished here in San Diego. Iíve visited museums and county fairs, Iíve gone to the beach (nude and regular), I surfed the internet and on a board, and Iíve reacquainted myself with old friends.

Hanging out in a city isnít quite as exciting as riding, but it does seem to be a little bit safer. I know most people who read the first paragraph are thinking ďnude beach?Ē Itís a place called Blackís Beach just north of La Jolla. Iíd always heard about it, but I never got around to going there while I lived here. So I put a lot of sun block on and went to see what it was like. It was just like every other beach here only no kids. Oh and most everyone was naked. I tried not to ogle too much.

I also tried surfing, not at the nude beach. The weather was cloudy and the surf was a bit rough. By the time I finally dragged the surfboard past the waves I was so tired I could barely move my arms. This made it very difficult to push myself up. I never did make it to a full standing position while surfing, but heck I tried. I could probably actually do it, that is if I ever got into shape, and I donít mean round.

After surfing I decided to stick to what I know best, that is hanging out and playing pool. I think there is something wrong with the air here in San Diego. I couldnít seem to shoot pool at all. I spent countless hours carefully lining up shots only to miss by a mile. On  the other hand hanging out in a place called the Shamrock Shack it didnít matter. I won five or six games of pool in a row and only shot at the 8-ball once. I guess being Irish in an Irish bar has its advantages.

Not much else happened here. My little sister was suppose to set me up with a sister of her friend in D.C., but she doesnít seem to be home right now. I guess staying this long at one place is like staying home, time just passes and you donít really notice it. Or maybe I donít have to countless hours of nothing but wind noise so Iím not inspired and donít notice the silly things that happen right under my nose.

Iíll talk to you all later from the Hollister rally.

Donít forget to see the new pictures on my site. No I donít have any from the nude beach.

 

 

Brendan

Update from June 29th, 2002

Hello again everyone,
Well Iím almost finished here in San Diego. Iíve visited museums and county fairs, Iíve gone to the beach (nude and regular), I surfed the internet and on a board, and Iíve reacquainted myself with old friends.
Hanging out in a city isnít quite as exciting as riding, but it does seem to be a little bit safer. I know most people who read the first paragraph are thinking ďnude beach?Ē Itís a place called Blackís Beach just north of La Jolla. Iíd always heard about it, but I never got around to going there while I lived here. So I put a lot of sun block on and went to see what it was like. It was just like every other beach here only no kids. Oh and most everyone was naked. I tried not to ogle too much.
I also tried surfing, not at the nude beach. The weather was cloudy and the surf was a bit rough. By the time I finally dragged the surfboard past the waves I was so tired I could barely move my arms. This made it very difficult to push myself up. I never did make it to a full standing position while surfing, but heck I tried. I could probably actually do it, that is if I ever got into shape, and I donít mean round.
After surfing I decided to stick to what I know best, that is hanging out and playing pool. I think there is something wrong with the air here in San Diego. I couldnít seem to shoot pool at all. I spent countless hours carefully lining up shots only to miss by a mile. On the other hand hanging out in a place called the Shamrock Shack it didnít matter. I won five or six games of pool in a row and only shot at the 8-ball once. I guess being Irish in an Irish bar has its advantages.
Not much else happened here. My little sister was suppose to set me up with a sister of her friend in D.C., but she doesnít seem to be home right now. I guess staying this long at one place is like staying home, time just passes and you donít really notice it. Or maybe I donít have to countless hours of nothing but wind noise so Iím not inspired and donít notice the silly things that happen right under my nose.
Iíll talk to you all later from the Hollister rally.
Donít forget to see the new pictures on my site. No I donít have any from the nude beach.

Brendan

Update from July 18th, 2002

Hello again all,

I'm sorely disappointed. I'm sitting at the library in Rochester Minnesota, I was hoping to spend a few hours writing on the web page and putting links to my pictures so you guys could see what the heck it is that I'm doing. The problem is I can't do that from here, all I can do is look at stuff. I can't even upload my pictures that I took in Canada. Most likely you all will have to wait until I get home and fix my computer (I broke it just before I left) to see the photos. I know I can hear you all weeping with sadness from here.

Anyway, after leaving Hollister I continued up the coastal highway into redwood country. Now I thought it was pretty cool riding up the coast and watching the mist rise up the cliffs, but entering the redwood forest is just awesome. The trees just rise up for miles and they get taller all the time.

Even on a bright sunny day, I have had a lot of those, you don't see it much. Just an occasional dot of sunlight on the road. And the road is great too. It's smooth and clean, with out the occasional lose gravel on the turns like the coast. the heat of the sun is gone, yet you still have great visibility. Then the road starts twisting and turning around the trees and up the mountain. It's so much fun to ride. I kept finding myself going faster and faster. Oh and did I mention that they recommend no large vehicles. There was almost no traffic at all. I loved it.

Eventually though the coastal forest ended. The problem was I didn't want it too, so I skipped the Oregon coast to take the 199 over to the I5. This kept me in the forest a bit longer and made the trip to Seattle much faster.

I'm just about at my time limit on this computer so I'll have to tell you the story of the beauty of Canada and the strange ways of the people next time. And trust me those Canadians are strange.

Until then just remember the sunny side goes up.

Brendan


Update from July 30th 2002

 



Well as I said I'm home safe and sound. It took me a bit longer to update the web page than I thought. Normally I put the pictures in then write while browsing through the pictures.
They help me remember what happened and I can put links into the story right away so you can see what I'm talking about. This time I couldn't access the pictures, though I could upload them. So if the writing seems a bit more jerky than usual its because I went back to add stuff I forgot when I couldn't see the pictures.
If I remember correctly I said I would tell you about the strange and beautiful land of the Canadians. First of all there aren't many people living up there. (They think San Diego is a big city and can barely comprehend the size of Chicago). this makes for a gorgeous country. Practically untouched by humans. Even the plains area from Calgary to Winnipeg is nice. Where the same area in the US is almost all corn fields and cattle ranches, the Canadians seem to be growing flowers. It's really very pretty.
Then there is the talking. I guess not having many people makes the Canadian starved for conversation. They just keep talking and talking. (And yes they do say EH after almost every sentence.)
Everyone I met in Canada was exceptionally friendly and helpful, with the exception of almost everyone I met in a bar. Hardly anyone talked to me in the bars, and most of those who did were either rude or found it difficult to hide their distaste for us Americans. On the other hand almost everyone I said hello to on the street would draw me into a conversation. I found that particularly amazing because I rarely talk to anyone for any length of time.
Like the guys in the lounge at the Harley shop while I was waiting to get my brakes fixed. We just talked and talked and the next thing I knew the bike was ready.
Back in the states (I was only grilled for a minute by customs) the people were still very friendly, but as I got closer to the big cities I could definitely tell it was getting harder and harder to find.
In Canada I followed the Tran Canadian Highway across Southern Canada. When I got to Winnipeg I turned South and went through the corner of North Dakota. I didn't stay very long. It seems that a big storm was heading East and I wanted to get South of it as soon as possible. Of course last year I spent almost everyday riding in at least some rain until the AidsRide when it was unbearable hot. So this year was the opposite. Almost everyday during my ride was hot and when I got to the AidsRide it rained a lot. We even had to evacuate one night into a high school gym.
The ride is over for now. I started with 24750 miles on the bike and I now have 33520 miles. Quite a long trip and my but is still hurting. The strange thing is when I was in Montrose Harbor saying goodbye to the riders I didn't really want to leave. Of course I get to look forward to riding up to New Hampshire to see my little sister get married. And if I'm lucky I might even bring a date along with me.
Until then ride fast and take chances.

Brendan

 

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