24 days and 9000 miles later

Having just graduated from college, and not yet setting a start date for work, I decided that it was the perfect time to head west on my motorcycle.

The short story is that  I took 24 days to travel 9000 miles on my bike. I went through 21 states, met a bunch of really great people, and took over 5000 pictures of a lot of really beautiful scenery.

The long story you will have to ask me for, but I figure  I will quickly get sick of talking about it, so the medium length version follows.

This is the portion I planned out ahead of time.

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And this is some of where I ended up going.

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‘I replaced the tires, chain, points and condenser, air filter, changed the oil, reupholstered the seat, and got it ready for a trip of unknown length.

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With somewhat limited funds, I packed everything I would need to camp and enough food to last me about a week. My first destination was ST.George Utah, to visit my sister - about 2300 miles from Elma NY.

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Heading out on Monday morning, My plan was to make it about 750 miles on the first day. 250 miles in, the clouds choked out the sun and opened up.

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I decided to stop for lunch. About a half-hour later, the rain let up and I pushed on.

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Riding non-stop most of the afternoon, I fell short of my 750 mile goal with somewhere around 650 at sun-set. Tired and damp, I wanted to find a place to camp.

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Riding into a rest-stop off the 80, I found a small covered picnic area and decided to make use of it for the night. The cement pad under the picnic table made a wonderfully inviting sleeping mat.

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I awoke fairly early, fixed myself some breakfast, and headed off.
I was hoping to make up the 100 miles that I fell short of my goal the first day which put my days total at an optimistic 870 miles.

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The weather started out very nice, and remained nice through most of the day.

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The scenery changed very little, however I was entertained by the passing of some custom made cars and a plethora of windmills.

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As the sun set, the rain began to fall, and I quickly became soaked. Determined to reach at least colorado before resting, I pushed on.

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The riding seemed almost surreal, with the amount of water on the road and rate at which it was still falling, I knew that I had to be extremely carefull.
I was huddled as close to the bike as possible trying to stay warm with my feet on the crankcase, and elbows against my stomach.
I made it to Colorado and stopped at the first rest stop off the throughway. To my delight, I found tepee covered picnic areas which made for a nice place to rest.

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Apparently I was pretty tired that night, as I slept through a what the news called a terential downpour.

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I cooked up some breakfast and headed back on the road. The weather wasnt great, but at least it wasnt raining.

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The sky began to improve as I approached the Rockies, however, as I climbed to the top I could feel my bike starving for air. I kept it in fourth gear and took it fairly slow.

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Eventually I made it to the top and was glad to be going back down. The remainder of the ride was smooth and beautifully scenic.

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The rain was on and off for much of the afternoon, and then finally stopped once I hit Utah. Despite the iffy weather, the change in scenery was much appreciated.

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I rode the furthest of the three days, and pushed the bike harder than I had the past two. I was set on making it to my sister’s place in St. George before resting. Finishing up the ride around 1:00am, I had finally made it.

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Happy to have slept indoors, and relieved to not have to do any more throughway driving, I awoke to an absolutely beautiful day.
My sister and I explored St. George for most of the morning getting groceries, and finding a motorcycle helmet for her.
Following shopping, and after getting ice-cream, we visited chuckwalla for some afternoon climbing.

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The weather was perfect, and it was the first I had been climbing in a while. I had an absolute blast.

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The following day, we had to take a trip down to david’s bridal in vegas, so that my sister could be fitted with a dress for my cousin’s wedding.
With that then out of the way, we continued on to the hoover dam, and a state park shortly to the East. We relaxed around the water, and took it easy for much of the afternoon.

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The drive back was slow and boring, however we were able to take some cool pictures along the way.

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St. George has a lot of great climbing, so we headed out to another wall a bit further away. After hiking up the approach, and getting our gear on, it began to rain rather steadily.

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Grudgingly we had to pack up and head back down the mountain.

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So instead of climbing, we drove to Cedar City for a friends birthday party.

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The following day proved to be absolutely beautifull, and so we decided to attempt more climbing, this time up near Cedar City.

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The weather cooperated, and we were able to get in some awesome climbs.

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Despite being out of practice, I was able to almost finish an 11D route - adding one more quickdraw to the lead that someone else had started.

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The day went great, and I was sad to have to leave Cedar City.

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The next day, my sister and I had planned to go hiking in the Grand Canyon. With my gear off the bike, we made room for two and headed out.

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The night we arrived we stayed on the upper rim and explored some of the trails along the edge of the canyon.

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We rode to a couple different points, and eventually stopped and camped for the night.

The following morning, we got an early start so that we could get in as much hiking as possible and still make it back at a reasonable time.

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We stuck primarily to the Bright Angel trail, but took a few detours to find better photo opportunities and do some scrambling on the rock.

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Hiking down to the bridge and across the canyon, we took a break and made a new friend.

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With the limited time that we had, we decided to not go further, and hiked back up.
Even the relatively short few miles of hiking that we did down and back up gave me a much better perspective on the actual size of the canyon.

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Despite not seeing any on the trip, I am hopeful that for my next long trip I can take a powered paraglider.

Here is the point at which my sister had to go back to work, and I headed off on my own again.

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Being as it was on my way to the California coast, I stopped to see the statue of liberty

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and the Eiffel Tower…

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and by that I mean Vegas.

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After making the mistake of trying to drive down part of the boulevard, I parked in a ramp and walked the strip. Lacking interest in gambling, I decided to just walk through the casinos, and see whatever I could.
Starting around the flamingo, I walked the entire length of the strip and back, timing it just right to catch the watershow at the Belagio.
I was thoroughly impressed by the amount of money the different casinos spend to attract gamblers, however, I don’t believe that I would ever want to spend more than a day there.
Finally making it back to my bike, I headed to Death Valley. A few stops in, I decided to get some rest. With the air temp somewhere around 90, I decided to simply sleep on the ground. I balled up my sweatshirt and called it a night.

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I was awoken before my alarm by a car pulling into the parking lot.

The sunrise was quite spectacular, so I walked around taking pictures for a little while before continuing the ride.

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I rode straight through the rest of Death Valley, taking advantage of the cool morning air.

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From there I headed south along the mountain ridge of Sequoia Forest with the intention of entering on the western side.

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Running low on gas, I stopped at the next station I found. After a quick fill-up, I cranked the motor over and …. nothing. F@*#!

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I figured it had to be something with the points, so I pulled the cover off and checked the gap. The left set had shifted, so I adjusted them, no problem.
Check the right set, and they are just free-floating on the adjustment screw. I try to tighten the adjustment, and there aren’t enough threads left to hold it in place. F@*#!
I walk inside the gas station to ask where the closest autoparts store is, and she informs me that it is about 24 miles north! F@*# again.
Fortunately I have the old set of points in my tool bag, so I borrow the nut and bolt from the wire terminal.
I scribe a line where the plate was, pull the plate and fuss around with the nut and bolt till I get the point gap close to where it should be. Pull the plate of again adjust it a bit and reinstall it.
Do this a couple more times till I get the gap within 5 thousandths or so, and put it all back together. Crank it and ….  Whoo Hoo !
It was running surprisingly smooth. I couldn’t hear any knocking, so I assumed that I had the timing close.
I rode to the Napa store 24 miles north, and picked up some more nuts and bolts as a precautionary measure.
Back on the rode I went back south past the gas station I was just at, and into Sequoia National Park to the trail of 100 giants.

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After hiking the trail there, I continued on to the main park entrance.

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As night set I still had a little ways to go till the park entrance. As I rode through the curves and hills toward the entrance I noticed another motorcycle behind me.
When I would take a series or turns, it would disappear behind me. As soon as a straight section presented itself, it was back. Pulling up to the entrance, there were no attendants and the other bike pulled up beside me.
I asked if he had reserved a campsite, and he had. Being as I hadn’t, he offered to let me share his. It was just over 20 miles to the site from the gate, so I let him lead.
Those 20 miles took close to 45 minutes because of the endless turns and switchbacks. Nevertheless, it was an awesome ride and there were no other cars the entire way. Soon after we arrived we settled down and fell asleep.

The following day Clint and I did some hiking, and explored some of the trails in the park.

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We saw the General Sherman tree, Tokopah falls, some other smaller waterfalls, and met some new friends.

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Come nightfall, we collected firewood, and cooked bratwurst over the fire. We kicked back and relaxed for the night.

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Clint apparently thinks that he is still small enough to fit in a kids size tent :)

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Come morning, Clint wanted to sleep in, so I continued on without him. I explored more of Sequoia Park, and went for a tour of the Crystal Caves.

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Shortly outside Sequoia National Park, my left muffler developed a vibration crack and nearly fell off.

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A quick trip to Home depot solved the problem.

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I leisurely headed toward the California coast and made it to Monterey by nightfall.
I stopped at the first coastal beach I saw, and the wind was pretty terrible.

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People were running from the shore as the sand was being tossed around by the wind.
I hopped back on my bike and rode to the first RV Park I saw. I setup my tent and camped for the night.

The following day I rode north to San Fran.

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I parked at the yacht club, and walked to the fisherman’s Warf, pier 39, and china town.

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The weather was great.

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I took a ride on the rocket boat to end my visit in SF, and then headed up the coast.

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I pulled off highway 1 at a state park, and got some rest.

Driving up highway 1 I got to see the beautiful coastline, and drive the wonderful curves of the road.

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I was having an absolute blast hugging the turns coming down a mountain, switchback after switchback, I was really flying.

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I became really confident in leaning the bike into turns until I finally pushed it too hard and too sharp. I hit the ground and the bike went skidding away from me in a trail of sparks toward the edge of the cliff.
I jumped to my feet and ran to the bike. It was still running and gas was pouring out the tank. I quickly shut it off and tore all the bags off that were bungeed on.
Through a rush of adrenaline I righted the bike and moved it to where I could rest for a moment.

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Upon quick inspection, the handlebar had gotten bent, the generator cover was scratched with holes, the shifter was bent into the case, the tank was dented in, and the rear turn signal was broken off. I was relieved that things went pretty well considering the circumstances.
I straightened out everything as best I could, loaded my gear back on and kept riding.
The next stop that I made was the famous drive through redwood tree.

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I drove through, took a picture, ate a hotdog and kept riding.
Things were going pretty well until I started accelerating up a hill on the throughway, and my muffler shot off the back of my bike.
I quickly turned around to watch one of the cars behind me drive over it. I picked its flattened body up off the pavement and kept riding. The bike was quite loud without a muffler so I knew that I had to do something about it.
I stopped at the next Napa I saw and asked to borrow a hacksaw. I cut off the flattened portion and patched it back together.

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I found an RV park close to the water and decided to camp for the night.

In the morning I decided to walk along the beach for a ways.

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After a couple miles I came across a woman walking her dog, and we talked for a little while. She recommended that I go to see the lighthouse at cape Blanco, and a few other places I cant remember.
After walking back to the RV Park, I continued up the coast and stopped at the lighthouse.

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Although there was a bit of waiting in line, it was interesting to see the lenses and hear some of the stories about their history.

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From there I pushed on toward Portland, and spent the night at a rest stop.

In the morning I rode into the city, and parked along the street by the Chinese gardens. I walked to the waterfront, and ended up following a speedwalker who gave me a twenty minute tour of the bridges and main attractions of the city.
I then walked back to check out the Chinese gardens and give myself a stomach ache with voodoo doughnuts.

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I jumped back on the bike and headed north out of Portland. I stopped at a little ceasars to eat some pizza and check my atlas.
At my next stop in a rest area off the throughway I met Garrett, a guy from Seattle who was returning from delivering a yacht to Portland. He offered to let me stay at his place for the night, and I gladly accepted.
I rode around Seattle for a while, checked out the U. Washington campus, and went to the grocery store before heading to Garrett’s place. I called it a night, and got some rest.

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The following day I went up north to the Boeing Plant for a tour. It was pretty sweet to see assembly on such a large scale.
They didn’t allow cameras in the plant so I unfortunately don’t have much worth showing from it.
I stopped back at Garretts to pick up my bags and began the journey back East.

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My next big stop was Glacier National Park in Montana. I drove through the park on the road to the rising sun, and then cut down to go to Yellow Stone.
On the drive down, I pulled off the road to get gas, and f@*# my rear tire was almost flat.

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I found a mysterious slash in the sidewall of the tire which slightly punctured the tube. I asked where the closest motorcycle shop was, and I received the expected “oh about 40 miles south”
There was however an agricultural repair shop close by.
Once finding that they had tube patching supplies, I broke the tire down, and pulled the tube out. Half an hour later, I had the bike back together and was back on the road.

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Continuing the ride to Yellow Stone I reached into my jacket pocket to grab my camera and take a picture and F@*#!
I felt three sharp pains in my finger. I wasn’t sure if I had cut it on something or if I had been stung. So I slowed down and pulled into the closest pull-off.
I squeezed the pocket to kill anything that might be in it, and sure enough it was a big fat yellow jacket. I took a couple photos of it and pushed on.

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The ride into Yellow Stone was absolutely beautiful, and I was able to snatch the last available tent site in the entire park. As I unloaded my gear and set up my tent,
the man in the site across the road handed me a cold beer and said he figured I had to pack light.

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My day had improved quite dramatically.
With my site situated, I took the bike for a couple hour ride to see Old Faithful, and some other sites.

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I froze my ass off on the ride back to the campsite, built a fire, and then got some rest.

The following morning I continued through Yellow Stone and out through Bear Tooth. This was an absolutely beautiful ride.

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Next I headed to South Dakota and visited Devil’s Tower.

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I walked around the base, and drooled at the group of climbers who had nearly reached the top.

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Jealous, I continued to Sturgis, where I got my fix of everything motorcycle, and checked out some enduro style bikes (which is what I would like to get next).

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I took a stroll through the motorcycle museum, and checked out some of the famous places within the area.
Next I headed to Mount Rushmore, and learned a few interesting things

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- that the monument was never completed to its original intent.

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I also saw some incredible tree carvings.

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From here I continued East and stopped to see the Bad Lands.

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As I rode into the evening, I witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets that I think I have ever seen.

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From here on back I mostly stayed to the highway and did little stopping.
I had a couple more issues with the masterlink on my chain stretching and with the rear rack breaking, but I took care of everything and made it home.

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I’ve already been asked multiple times what my favorite part of the trip was and I honestly cant pick just one.
I have also been asked if I would do the trip again now knowing what I know, and the answer to that is complicated, but I will simply say Hell Yes!

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