Manteo High School Graduate Tom Serine Tours
Yellowstone & Mt. Rushmore by Motorcycle......
Submitted by Tom Serine
For my 2011 trip, I decided to see Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone. In 2006, I had taken a trip to Mount Rushmore not realizing a good friend lived only 30 minutes south of the monument in the town of Oral, SD. I decided make a return trip to Oral, see Mount Rushmore and tour the area for the weekend then head into Yellowstone for a few days. From the research I did on Yellowstone, camping was on a first come first serve basis and even if I could make a reservation, my tent and other property would be out in the open when I wasn’t there. Although I enjoy camping, I knew I would be in Yellowstone for a several days so I decided to reserve a cabin. I could just keep the extra stuff I packed there and I could tour the area freely knowing I had a place to come back to instead of trying to find a place to camp. I left on the morning of August 17th. The following is an account of what I did.
   
Day 1; August 17, 2011
I spent the previous night packing until 1am. No matter how much I prepare, I always stay up late the night before and always bring too much stuff and that seems to continue each year I travel. Although it was in the 90s at home, it would be cooler in the mountains of Wyoming where the temperature can go down to the low 30s. I brought some extra warm clothing just in case. The first day of the trip was to head all the way to St. Louis. I have done it several times before with the ride taking 13 to 14 hours. However, I didn’t leave until 730. As I’ve gotten older, I find myself sleeping more. I thought I was suppose to be getting up at 4 am on a regular basis to use the bathroom. Maybe that comes later in life. The bike felt good despite the 138,000 miles it had on it. I’ve found the first day of a long trip is always a little odd just because I haven’t taken any long trips in a year. There’s a matter of getting use to the feel of the bike, the weight I’m carrying, and just trying to get yourself in the right frame of mind for long distance. I proceeded along Interstate 77 trying to maintain a 70 MPH speed heading up through Virginia. Outside of Charleston, WV, I got gas and a person wished me God’s blessings on my journey. The worst traffic I hit was Louisville. It was just at rush hour and I was able to stay in the correct lanes of merging traffic without really having to stop at all. I went as far as Mt. Vernon, IL. I decided I didn’t want to push it past St Louis. The weather was good all day and temperature barely got to 90. I made it at 6 pm central time. A first day of travel totaling eleven and a half hours. I found a Motel 6 and ate dinner at a Taco Bell. Went to the local store and picked up some more bungee (you can never have too much), some zip ties, and a 6 pack. I was relaxing at my motel room and went to bed about midnight feeling good.
   
August 18, 2011


I set the alarm on the cell phone for 6 but got up at 8. The snooze button goes off on it every 5 minutes. I had hit 24 times. It was a hot and humid morning so I went from feeling nice and cool in the AC of the motel to sweating profusely as a packed the bike. I used the extra bungee and zip ties to kip my extra gas from slipping off. I was already in a hurry mode because I wanted to get to the other side of Lincoln, NE before it was dark. I left at 9 and was refueling the bike when a deaf women gave me a card asking to contribute to the deaf society. Being that I was in a hurry and trying to leave I declined (I’d like think it was polite but I believe it didn’t come across that way). As she walked away to the hotel across the street, I realized this would come back and bite me. Because I do believe in Karma. And it did. As I headed down the interstate, I went 10 miles before realizing I left my water bottle in the refrigerator at the motel. Of course, the trip was still early and well, stuff could still happen. As I neared St Louis, I hit some construction and I was just expecting traffic to stop but it didn’t. Maybe leaving at 9 turned out to be a good thing since I missed rushed hour. There were no problems for the 230 miles between St Louis and Kansas City and the bike was running great with the wind behind me. It appeared I would reach my destination by 630. Once in Kansas City, I headed north on Interstate 29. I was 200 miles from Lincoln when I started to notice the flooding along either side of the interstate. Apparently, Northwest Missouri had received large amounts of rain this summer. As I was cruising along, I could see field after field submerged under water with roads that just disappeared. And sure enough, with about 50 miles from the Nebraska border, I29 was closed and detoured. I pulled in to a small gas station and asked directions about how long the detour would be. They said not far, maybe 20 miles. Just to follow the signs and you’ll get to where you need to go. The two lane highway took me into Iowa and I took a nice photo by the “Welcome” sign and enjoyed my slow travel along this two lane highway through small towns and farms. Just wondering what it would be like to live here. I also noticed huge clouds approaching and the fact that I had gone 25 miles and all of the signs said to continue North. As I went another 25 miles, I realized the people I talked to either had no sense of distance or were playing a cruel joke on me. Also, the clouds increased more and more and with no towns in site, I started contemplating pulling over into somebody’s barn to change into my rain gear. I had two hopes, one, I would find a town and in that town, I would see that the detour ended and I could be on my way. After another 25 miles I saw where the detour ended. It was all the way to Interstate 80. Roughly, 75 miles from where I refueled. The one good thing is I didn’t get rained on so I pulled into a gas station. Refueled again and put on my gear. The rain appeared to actually be behind me but I wasn’t taking any chances that I had already. Luckily, it was a smart move because 10 miles heading West the skies became the darkest I had ever seen during the day and a torrential downpour came along with the wind. I had ridden in the rain many times before and as long as I can see, I’m okay. Of course, after 10 miles of heavy rains my goggles became fogged up. I wanted to take an exit but I couldn’t see one. I was going 60 mph still and I didn’t want to just slow down and pull under an overpass without risk getting hit from behind. As I approached Omaha, the rains subsided just in time and I lifted my goggles on my forehead to see better. By the time I refueled on the other side of the city I had enough. It was close to 7 and I still had another 100 miles to go. Not only that, but I could still see clouds all around so it was a good chance the rain would start again. I went another 30 miles and found a cheap motel in Lincoln. Thinking that my day was over, the motel clerk asked if I wanted to park on the sidewalk under the awning because they were calling for tornados. I declined thinking I would be fine. I went and ate a burger at the local store and purchased a 2 liter beer to have. I hung out in the front of the motel with my beer and cheap cigar and talked to a couple of guys that worked maintenance there. They were just good ole Nebraska boys. As we talked, the rain and wind came and we had to go inside. I kept a look on the bike just to see what it was doing. Then I couldn’t see it. I went into my room to see what was going on. I looked out the window and I could clearly see the bike had blown over from the wind and there it was lying on it’s side with the cover still on it. I then ran out in the raging storm, picked it up with the surge of adrenalin I had and tried to start it. It had flooded but after a couple of turns it started right up and I drove under the awning. I ran back inside and waited for the rains to subside. After an hour, I went back out to assess the damage. The crash bars had helped a lot. But the left mirror was broken off. I couldn’t figure out how because the bike fell on it’s right side. I guessed that the wind was so strong the bike fell over and onto the car beside it and caused the left mirror to hit it. I saw I had scratched the car and put a small dent in it but I learned when staying at a cheap motel, most of the vehicles there are cheap also. The women aren’t very pretty either. The car was old with many scratches and dents already on it so I just kept it quiet. And the bike was moved so maybe the owners wouldn’t notice. The motel clerk let me use their computer so I went online and ordered a new mirror to be delivered when I arrived in Colorado at my friend Beth’s. Needless to say. It was a crazy day of travel that didn’t end when I arrived at my destination. Hindsight being 20/20; I would have donated to that deaf women and parked my bike under the awning like I was offered. Lesson learned. Tomorrow I was headed to Oral, SD.

August 19, 2011
I awoke the next morning around 7 and proceeded to get a closer look at the bike after last nights adventure. The car that the bike fell on was gone. That was good. After a closer inspection, there were no additional marks or scratches on the frame of the bike. But it didn’t interfere with my ride and I knew that was something I could fix later. After packing I was on the road around 8. The day was beautiful. No clouds and a mid 70s temperature. The only problem I had was trying not to look in my left side mirror because there wasn’t one. I always look behind me as a habit I just didn’t have a mirror to verify. I only drove 80 miles before my GPS told me to take the Grand Island exit instead of staying on the interstate that the directions on my tank bag wanted me to do. I’m glad I made that decision. Because I was on highway 2 though almost the entire state. Just a two lane rode going 70 mph (speed limit was 65). I went through corn field after corn field as far as the eyes could see; one small town after another. The last 30 miles, I had a train right beside me going along as I rode. It was great. I then picked up highway 29 and headed North to Oral. I knew Oral was a small town but I didn’t realize how small it was. Most of the main roads were gravel. When I arrived at Keith and Ronda’s, neither were home but Keith eventually showed up. I never met him before but I could tell right off he was a just a good guy. One thing because he offered me a beer as soon as he showed up. The other reason he invited me up to his shop to hang out with his father and some of his other friends and coworkers. Ronda wasn’t home yet but I felt fine just hanging out with the other guys while they talked about mechanics, farming, hunting, and more about mechanics. Things, I really had no idea about but I didn’t care. They were all just good people. Eventually, Ronda showed up and we had dinner at the house with her two young children. We were invited to a bonfire at one of the other guy’s house. On the way there, Keith hit a deer on the side of the truck (nothing major and it didn’t even damage it or the deer I don’t think). We arrived at the bonfire and proceeded to drink more beer, smoke a cigar, and roast marshmallows. It was great. Everybody was sociable and just good people to talk to. We left close to midnight where we almost hit another deer on the way back. I don’t think I will ever drive in Oral, SD at night. I smelled like smoke and tasted of cheap cigars and beer before hitting the sack. I love it when I feel that way.
August 20, 2011

After a breakfast of ham and eggs made by Keith (I found out he did all the cooking) we decided to take a ride through Custer State Park and then to Mount Rushmore. Keith has a 2005 Yamaha V Star 1100 which he and Ronda have ridden all over the Midwest. He’s also a very good mechanic. From there, maybe head to Deadwood about 80 miles away. After Ronda dropped the kids off with the in-laws, we headed out. Custer State Park was only around 20 miles away. With Keith leading the way we entered and then rode through the Black Hills. Unfortunately, Keith got called on business after only touring about 30 miles. Which sucked because he was a good rider to follow. So, Ronda rode with me and we continued our ride. The speed limit was 35 and there wasn’t that much traffic, it was enjoyable to ride on such a beautiful day through the country of South Dakota. Nearing Mount Rushmore, traffic was stopped for a heard of buffalo that were literally hanging out on the road at one of the intersections. There was a three way intersection and traffic was blocked from all directions. Ronda said to “just drive through” I was very hesitant but she egged me on so I did. We slowly proceeded up near the front. I could feel the cold stares of the people in their cars. What was worse were the glares from the buffalo wondering what the hell I was doing. I twisted the throttle and entered their inner circle. Meanwhile, Ronda was yelling like an 1900s cattle wrangler. I was getting within 10 feet of them and they would start scurrying away. I was nervous and a little freaked just waiting for one of these wild animals to just lay me out. I was almost through when I saw this large buffalo just staring at me straight ahead. I maintained my speed as if we were playing a game of chicken
and there was one point I said to myself “this guy aint moving,” when he suddenly did. Ronda was laughing the whole time but I felt like I just missed a car wreck. After my nerves calmed down, we went through the Black Hills for another 10 miles and actually entered the back way into Mount Rushmore. I had been to Mount Rushmore before so we took some photos from the road instead of paying the 15 bucks to park walk in, take a photo, and walk out. Which is what I literally did in 2006. From there we proceeded to Deadwood but took back roads that not even my GPS recognized. The roads were all gravel for 20 plus miles. Even though the speed limit was 40, I was going around 30 just because the bike doesn’t do too well on gravel let alone with a passenger. But they were in good shape with no deep grades or ruts. It had not rained for some time there so they only thing you had to watch for was dust. There was no traffic either and if I did have a car behind me. I simply just pulled over to let them by. We also went through two herds of cattle (do they not sell fence posts in this state?) but after going through the buffalo, this was a piece of cake. We stopped at one of the smallest towns I’d ever been in called Rockford. There was a bar there that people stop in to check out. It was a really neat place with that kind of rustic look I enjoy. We had a beer there then off to Deadwood. We arrived at dusk and after finding a place to park, we started checking out the area. Deadwood is a fun place. They have concerts, nice restaurants, and casinos. We stopped and got a burger and a beer at one of the casinos. From there, I wasn’t sure how much longer we were going to stay but I didn’t want to drink anymore because I was driving. But Ronda called Keith who was back from work and asked if he could bring the truck up to haul the bike back so I could drink and not drive. This wasn’t my idea but Ronda insisted and Keith was fine with it. How awesome is that? From there, we checked out a couple more casinos and drank some more beers. Keith arrived two hours later. We all hung out and went to one of the concerts at the bar. It turned out, Ronda’s cousin was there and she dated the lead singer of the band that was playing there. We all drank and watched them play. They were a cover band playing some of the recent alternative songs. I really didn’t recognize much of the music (I am 40) but they put on a great show. We departed after 11 and Keith proceeded to drive my bike onto the back of his truck. Cause I sure couldn’t. He is one of the proud few that have ridden my motorcycle. After some pushing and shoving we were able to get it on the back and tie it down. I should not have filled the tank right before we parked because it was leaking gas from where it was leaning. No biggy really. After that, we made it back around 1 am. All of us were beat and we went to bed with the bike left on the back of Keith’s truck.

August 21, 2011
I slept until 9 and was woken by the smell of blueberry pancakes. Did I mention how great a cook Keith is? In my sleep, he had also gotten my bike off the back of his truck. The plan was to go to the state fair. But all of us were actually tired from the long day and night yesterday. So we took it easy. Which I was totally fine with. I did a once over on the bike to make sure everything was in working order. I had run out of zip ties for my gas tank but Ronda had a ton I could have. I also did a quick sewing job on my ripped leather saddle bag with a shoe string and a nail. Everything else checked out good. I also went riding in the truck with Keith and Ronda around his farmland and saw all of the cattle he had. I got a good photo in the middle of the heard with all the cows looking at me asking themselves “who is this idiot standing out here?” Keith is also part of the volunteer fire department in Oral and they actually had a brush fire they had to fight Saturday. Just like that, 100 acres were burned. Luckily, not property damaged and noone was hurt. It’s amazing how fast those things move. After our little trip, Keith and I went back to the store and I purchased some beer for them against his wishes but it was the least I could do. They gave me a place to stay, sleep, eat, and never asked anything in return. We ended the night eating steaks from their own cows. There is just something great about that. I enjoyed my stay thoroughly and was ready to head to Yellowstone
 
August 22, 2011

After getting up and thanking everyone as much as I could. I was on the road again. It was another nice day. From highway 16, I headed West to highway 18 then South to Lusk, Wyoming. From there, West to interstate 25 North. The speed limit is 75 and the bike has a hard time maintaining this, especially when it’s windy like it was today. Nothing I hadn’t dealt with before just took a little more work. From Casper, I took highway 20 to Shoshoni, North to Cody, and then West to Yellowstone. At one point, I had to turn around on the middle of highway 20 (there was no traffic) to retrieve my leather jacket and bike cover that came loose. Luckily, it hit me before it fell or I would have never noticed. Just felt like an idiot parked on the side of the road watching cars steer clear of it as it sat in the middle of the highway. The weather was nice all day. However, I did have one close call (I do at least one time on every trip). Heading past Thermopolis a lady was in front of me. I had been following her for 10 miles but she was going fast enough I didn’t try to pass. As I watched. I saw her pull to the right side of the road. One thing I’ve learned is never assume a car sees you. And sure enough, this lady started making a U turn as I approached. I wailed on my horn and that was enough to get her attention to stop midway on the road and I had to go through the left lane at 50 mph hoping that no cars were coming the other way, I was lucky. And it woke me up the rest of the trip. Little jolts like that help you to remember you’re not invincible. As I approached Yellowstone, I entered the Chief Joseph Highway and took some pictures through the winding road and again, ran into a herd of cattle (I thought that was only in SD). I reached Yellowstone and paid 20 bucks for a weeks pass. Which I really didn’t like. I assumed federal land met you didn’t have to pay. Oh well. On the way there, I realized I was in Yellowstone real quick when a huge Buffalo was standing in the middle of the road. I watched the park rangers shoot it with a paint ball gun to get it to move. It seemed very annoyed by the whole thing and just slowly moved off the road into the woods. It was another 20 miles before reaching “The Roosevelt Inn” located in the Northeast part of the park. The park is huge. I realized it when I entered I would have plenty to see the next three days I was there. My cabin was a single room with a bed and a wood stove. Showers were down a path. No fires outside (damn). The weather was unusually warm. I was expecting temperatures in the 50s and evening temps in the low 30s but it was in the high 70s. No TV and no radio. After unpacking, I went and ate at the restaurant there at the lodge and discovered they had a bar so I started my tab and stayed mingling with some of the employees. I was tired but felt good and spent the evening outside my cabin smoking a cigar and writing post cards. Looking forward to checking out the area the next three days.

August 23, 2011

I woke up around nine and didn’t get on the road to about 10. My cabin bed was very comfortable and it stays quiet. Although I was in Yellowstone, I wasn’t really planning on checking out the park until the day after. Today, I wanted to check out the Beartooth Highway which was near the Northeast entrance of Yellowstone and takes you into Montana. It was rated the number one scenic motorcycle highway by subscribers to Motorcycle magazine. I know it’s all a matter of opinion but being that I was this close to it, I had to check it out. The road consists of Highway 21 with a many twists and turns as well elevations going from around 5,000 feet to over 10,000. The entire ride is about 80 miles. The weather was a warm sunny day with no threat of rain. It was definitely a top five road. The only trouble was a brief stop for road construction but the rest of the highway was not very busy and there were plenty of places to pull over and take photos. As you reached the higher elevations, it did get windy. So most of the photos were taken of just the bike. I did find a couple to take a picture of me with the bike at one of the small lakes. The temperature dropped to 62 at the highest point but was never too cold. I drove into Montana and then headed to the small town of Red Lodge for lunch. I love these small Midwest towns. They are nice to check out in the summer time and I often wonder what it’s like here in the winter. The only bad part was that I lost my ear plugs somewhere from the time I got off the bike to the time I ate. No telling where they went. I knew I should have bought an extra pair. I decided to take a back way to Yellowstone. Which really didn’t turn out as scenic. It was mostly flat with various farms (I did see a fox). Which lead me back on the Chief Joseph highway that I had already been on. But hey, I was in Northwest Wyoming on a beautiful sunny day. No need to complain. For those that are from the Outer Banks, you learn to drive very aware during the summer because tourists will stop to see something immediately without any care for what’s behind them. That helped on this trip because people would stop immediately if there is any hint of wildlife seen. I had already seen enough buffalo from South Dakota to last me a while. I didn’t feel the urge nor wanted to take the chance to drive through a herd again. Plus, the buffalo in Yellowstone were much bigger. The rule in Yellowstone is to stay at least 20 feet away. So when cars stopped in front of me, I would just maneuver around them. One time, I was stopped behind some cars as a heard some buffalo where in the middle of the road. As I waited, I heard some thing coming out of the woods to the right of me and it was a huge buffalo. I ended up riding the bike to the left of the car in front of me. So I wouldn’t be in there way. I’ll admit it’s a little scary when you see an animal the size of a Volkswagen van walking toward you. There are plenty of places to pull over and park but people would still stop in the middle of the road. I saw plenty of motorcyclists but mostly vans and RVs around. The speed limit ranges from 35 to 45. Every 30 or so miles there is a place to eat, shop, and refuel. I only saw a small part of Yellowstone today since I arrived late in the afternoon and got something to eat in Canyon Village. I also found a pair of basic ear plugs from the outdoor sporting goods store. I arrived back around 7 at the Roosevelt and went to the bar. The people that work at Yellowstone are mostly young college kids that recently graduated and want to have some fun before getting into the real world. I would have done the same. There were also people from other countries using their visas to work in the US. They were friendly and weren’t freaked out by the old guy hanging out with them. All of the tourists I met were families with their children that were going to bed at 10. Not many single adults my age staying in Yellowstone.
August 24, 2011.
I woke up around 8 (have to stop going to bed at midnight) to another sunny day and departed at 9. Today, I headed down to the South area of Yellowstone to the Grand Tetons. And then head up to see Yellowstone. I will say that there is a scenic place for photos literally every 100 yards. If there aren’t buffalo, there are plenty of overlooks, rivers, natural springs, and lakes to see. You can run out of film easily. My trip South took me off of Yellowstone and into the Grand Tetons which are all interconnected so I didn’t have to pay 20 bucks again just for a day visit. I was able to check out the Tetons, but didn’t get very close to them. Just some photos with them in the background. I came up the Northwest route and was able to see Old Faithful. Talk about crowded. There is a set schedule that it goes off and I was right at the tail end of it. I was able to get to the park and see the last 5 minutes before it stopped. It was neat to see but the number of people there made it not fun. It reminded me of a fourth of July weekend on the Outer Banks. After departing Old Faithful, I ate dinner at the cafeteria in Canyon Village then went to the bar and hung out until they closed. The people that worked there were going to have an employee party later and I was hoping they would invite me since I was getting to know them but I guess they didn’t want me to hang out with them. They said they were even going to have a fire. I felt like I was in high school again. Oh well, I arrived back to right in my journal and smoke a cigar outside my cabin. It was another good day to ride.
August 25, 2011.
On my last day I wanted to make sure I saw the rest of Yellowstone so I spent it checking out the North and West areas and getting some more photos. I also checked out some of the springs. I will say that the stench of sulphur is very potent. There are stories of people that have fallen in these things are even jumped in to rescue pets and they didn’t come out too well. I can see why because the heat is intense and very hot. All of them are different colors, some were blue, other’s black or red. They are easy to see and not gated off so if you wanted to jump in you could (if you have some sort of death wish). I also encountered some bad weather this day. It was sunny but a storm rolled in. It was in the higher elevations and I actually missed most of it. As I headed up, I noticed large chunks of hale all over. There had been a major hale storm. It looked like it snowed. I actually had to stay on the tire tracks to not slip. I was lucky I didn’t hit it full force. I then hit some rain before heading to dinner in Canyon Village again. Several tourists asked me if I hit the hale storm. I made it back and hung out at the bar on my last day in Yellowstone. It was an uneventful evening and I headed back to my cabin trying to pack as much as I could in order to get ready for my long ride South to Denver.
 
August 26, 2011

I got up at 530 this morning and was able to shower and pack the bike and be on the road by 7. I thanked the people at the Roosevelt for my stay (it was a very nice place) and headed out through the East entrance. Not before I had to drive by a buffalo standing in the middle of the road. I drove by and gunned the engine to try to scare it off but all I could see was his eye looking at me as if to say, “That aint’ gonna work” and it just stood there. I got around it and before you know it, I was heading out of Yellowstone on Route 16 towards Cody. I also had taken for granted protecting my face from the sun. I didn’t think it was a strong since so I didn’t where sun screen. That was a big mistake because by today, my cheeks were red and crusty. It wasn’t very nice to look at. So I put a lot of sun screen on and proceeded. I’m sure I was a quite a site. From Cody, the ride was the same as it was heading to Yellowstone and it was just a matter of getting to Casper and heading South. The day was warm and sunny and I was making good time. I made it to Casper and then headed on I25 South knowing it was just a matter of a few hours. Nearing Cheyenne, the wind picked up and I could see what appeared to be storm brewing. One thing I’ve learned driving across the Midwest is that just because it looks like a storm. Doesn’t mean there is going to be one. But I wanted to make sure I had my gear on just in case. The head wind was so strong I had the bike at full throttle and it was barely going 60. Thankfully, I saw an overpass in the middle of nowhere and parked under the bridge to put my rain gear on. The rain had not yet come. There was also a couple on their Harley’s parked under as well and they were going to sit it out. They wished me luck as I proceeded on. By the time I was back on the interstate, the storm had slowly dissipated. I would have bet 20 bucks that if I hadn’t taken that exit and changed, I would have been in a downpour. I made it to Cheyenne and refueled. From there, I know I could make it to Denver on one tank. Of course, I had to hit construction traffic in Fort Collins and before you know it. I was at a standstill. I then decided to take the exit towards Longmont and head South that way. This took me into the downtown area which was closed off due to some parade they had going on. So I had to detour even more. From that point, there was a stop light every mile and it was taking me just as long going through here as it did being in I25 traffic. No to mention that it was sunny and warm and I was still in my rain gear. I then headed back to I25 which finally cleared out ( I was about 10 miles South of where I had been). The rest was smooth and I made it at Beth’s at 8. She was there with beer and pizza waiting for me. It was wonderful.
August 27 and 28, 2011.
I was taken it easy this weekend. My mirror had arrived and the big event of today was attaching it back to my bike and just doing an overall check to see if everything was good as well as do some laundry. There were no trips planned for the weekend. Beth was off doing her thing with her friends so I just took it easy at her house catching up on email and contacting people. I spent the weekend relaxing which I needed for the last 1600 miles back. I almost left Sunday but decided to hold off until Monday. I should have left Sunday
August 29, 2011

I left at 7 with the plan to head to St Louis. It was going to be a long 800 miles. And I was going to lose an hour. Despite the wind, road conditions, weather, etc. the bike had been running well. Today, however, It felt tired and it was running out of gas sooner than usual. One time, it ran out after just 99 miles. It had done that before but it had been awhile. The places I usually wanted to stop at to refuel I couldn’t and had to make sure there was another gas station sooner than what I wanted. Then, it ran out at 90 miles! Which was almost at the exact point I had broken down back in 2008. There is some sort of Bermuda Triangle area there or something for my motorcycle. Now that was weird. I couldn’t figure it out. But as long it was running I knew I could keep going. From that point on, it ran out after 102 to 108 miles. Usually, on I70, fighting a wind, I can still go at least 120 before switching it on reserve. It stayed like this all the way into St. Louis. I arrived at the Super 7 Motel at 830 about 25 miles West of St. Louis and checked in. I hadn’t eaten much all day and the only thing open was a small convenience store. I purchased a soda and chips and some fried chicken that the clerk didn’t charge me for because it had been there all day. I didn’t care, it tasted great. Only about 800 miles left to go
August 30, 2011
I left about 7 which was too late, I ended up fighting traffic through the entire city. It was already delaying me. I actually turned around on I70 and went west 8 miles before heading on I64 to only hit more traffic. Once I made it through, I hit construction traffic, in Illinois, Kentucky, and West Virginia. The bike was still running out of gas early. And I found myself empty 25 miles from the closest gas station in Indiana. I then realized my reserve gas tank is good for about 25 miles because I ran out a quarter mile from the exit in Santa Claus, IN. I drifted into a rest stop and used my spare tank to refill (good to always bring one). I got the bike started as a nice guy drove up on his Harley to make sure I was okay. At the same time, as I’m refueling, he’s just talking to me on the side of the interstate like he’s known me forever. It was just too funny. Once I got it restarted he took off. The construction traffic was ridiculous. The speed limit is 65 but it’s single lane and you have to go 45. There was just one delay after another on this last day. Luckily the weather stayed nice. By the time I got into Morgantown, my extra gas had almost slipped off on the back (I had run out of zip ties) so I had to exit on a road that had no reentry to secure it back on. I then had to go another couple of miles downtown to take an exit back on the interstate. When I refueled in Beckley, I took the wrong entrance and headed back North on 77. Aaagh! Then had to find an exit to take that took me through parts of downtown (I was not in a touring mood). Once I got back in the right direction. There was a construction delay again as a tractor tailor decided not to let me stay in the left lane before it merged. You know, I’m on a bike, it’s not going to hold up traffic as opposed to a truck. By the time I reached Virginia, it was dark and I arrived home at 9. Very relieved.

Epilogue:
The total miles for this trip was 5,499. So you could say 5,500. I haven’t gotten the bike looked at yet about the fuel consumption problem. Since then, it seems to be running okay so there’s no telling. Probably need to run a diagnostic test on it. Other than that, the only thing I’ve done on it is change the oil and filter. Yellowstone was great but I have to stop going to these family type places. I might as well go to Disney World on my next trip. For those that do have families. I would highly recommend Yellowstone. It’s just a very family friendly place. Although I chose to tour the area, there are so many places to hike and explore. You can easily get lost there. I have not found any Youtube videos of me pushing through the herd of buffalo. And I have looked under the words “idiot” plus “motorcycle” plus “buffalo.”

Special thanks to Ronda and Keith in Oral, SD. Thanks to Beth for letting me stay in Denver. The wonderful people at the Roosevelt Lodge in Yellowstone, and Wall To Wall Cycle for their excellent service on my motorcycle.