GL1800Riders Forums banner

1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
(The following is a trip report buying my 'new' '03 Wing from Tacoma, WA and riding it home to Tempe, AZ in the midst of the worst weather of the season.)

It all began with My Favorite Wife (MFW) saying something like "Gee, I wish you hadn’t sold the orange Wing". So, like a dutiful husband and not wanting to learn to cook or…ahem…."entertain" myself, I went shopping.

After several possibilities were uncovered and firmly rejected by MFW I finally found the ideal Wing…unfortunately it was located in Tacoma, WA – not exactly in the neighborhood and want to suffer various and sundry winter onslaughts. More on that later.

After pleasantries were exchanged between me (buyer) and Norm (gentlemanly seller), we arrived at a deal to be consummated as soon as the aforementioned winter onslaught took a hiatus. Fate intervened however in the form of MFW who announced there would be no better time than the present for her to break in the pillion – she wanted to ride! OK, now we’re at the mercy of the weather, which even by doubtful standards are not to be trusted in the stormy Northwest. Workdays were traded and flight plans made and, with an eye to trusty WeatherUnderground.com, we hoped for the best.

Everything went swimmingly - at first. On the flight up I got a seat in First Class but no breakfast was served (requires a minimum of a 3-hour flight and mine was 2:52). You could, however, partake from a wide variety of alcoholic beverages which, because I had planned to ride my new Wing that day, declined.

Norm picked me up at SeaTac (in his brand new whiz-bang Charger R/T) as promised but the shock of seeing several inches of ice and packed snow on the streets surrounding his house made taking the Wing for a ride downright silly if not absolutely foolish. After we traded funds for title he graciously offered to drive self and MFW (who, by now, had arrived at SeaTac after her work schedule ended) up to the "cousins" (Wes & Lisa) where we would drink wine, tell lots of lies and wait out the weather. So it was done.

The next day, Saturday, dawned cloudy and snowy. No meltage of driveways or streets was in sight. Norm wasn't charging rent on the bike so it was left in his spacious and heated garage and we’uns and the "cousins" sallied forth to attend a bit of culture (OK, it was Shakespeare but you get the idea). A jolly good time was had by all after which we dined at "Ray’s" – I’m told, one of Seattle’s best eateries.

Sunday dawned clear and cold but promising…..in that some of the ice and snow would melt in the glare of Olde Sol. We made plans to enjoy the day and leave Monday as snow was forecast for Tuesday. By day’s end some melting had indeed occurred. Norm had a plan…..sand the driveway and lead me out via an alternate way past the icy hills. Wes drove us down to Tacoma mid-morning, Norm sanded the driveway and I drove the bike out. Piece of cake! Little did I know that very brief experience would come in very handy in the next several days.

Norm gave MFW a ride to the freeway so I could test my newly minted ice driving skills and there, on the on-ramp and sad as a puppy who just piddled on the carpet, Norm said goodbye to Mello Y. MFW mounted up and we were off. He told me later he followed us down the freeway for awhile and the tears in his eyes must have been something to behold.

Finally – on the road! Unfortunately, even with 3 and 4 layers on it was very c-c-cold! Cousin Lisa had loaned Valerie her gloves (this made two pair including the ski gloves Val brought along) and Norm’s MFW donated a pair of boots which were fur-lined and waterproof. We shot off down I-5 through what remained of Tacoma’s suburbs and into the green and white pastures of bucolic Washington State. And yes, bucolic means c-c-c-cold!!!!!!

All was well until we crossed the bridge from Vancouver, WA to Portland, OR. On the northbound side was an 18-wheeler which had jackknifed and completely blocked all three (or was it four?) lanes. Traffic NB was backed up at least 5 miles and we had about a 30 minutes snail-crawl while those brain-dead-cagers (BDC) did their best lookie-loo’s. Eventually we got through but traffic from there on moved at about 50MPH. Nothing wrong with the roads…..just "Oregon slow". We finally gave up and found a pleasant, and warm, McDonalds (OK, you take what you can see from the highway when not on your home turf) where we warmed up and filled up. The cold was getting colder and was an omen of things to come.

Temps continued to drop throughout the afternoon as we headed south and when it reached 25F at dusk we gave up and found a motel in Eugene (actually one block north in a sister city called Springfield – kept looking for the Simpsons but never spotted them). VIOLA! It was right across the street from the local state police office AND had the Weather Channel. We thought we'd have a lock on the Information Highway the next morning. Alas, it was not meant to be.

When we awoke Tuesday morning it was raining freeze….or freezing rain – whatever. Not too bad but not something I wanted to risk dropping my new ride (or MFW). So I sauntered over to Ye Olde Ganderm, er Gendarm, er Police and…..they were not open. I’m not kidding! No cops and a phone call just gets you a "general delivery" voice mail. Orygun is sure different!

As an aside on the OR state police….the old guy working the night shift at our motel told me the next morning that office does not take phone calls, provide road information AND has a few honest-to-God tanks! What, they’re scared someone will cut down their trees, steal their strawberries or poison their salmon?

So we waited. Meantime, MFW was getting anxious about getting back in time for her Wednesday shift and the raining freeze, er freezing rain had turned to snow….about 3 inches of it. We soaked our disappointments in a huge pile of pancakes at IHOP as we walked back and forth in the tundra.

Finally, a brainstorm! MFW could fly out of Sac-o-tomatoes and the busses were running! She hurriedly packed and hopped on the city bus for the Greyhound. I returned to the warmth and comfort of our humble motel room to await the screening of The Fockers on HBO. Alas, my serenity was shattered by the phone on which MFW announced that Portland was also snowed in so no busses were running. She would have to hope that Eugene’s sole flight out (is this how Berlin was saved?) the next morning could get her home before her entire shift was over. Meantime, the snow had turned to slush and there was a chance I could ride out of it by heading over to the coast. I hurriedly packed, fired up Mello Y. and made for ocean breezes.

Unfortunately I made it only about a dozen miles when rain began falling. On and off the whole way to Brookings – about six lovely hours of soaking, freezing, drying somewhat then getting soaked again. I wanted to drive as far south as possible but two people who came up from CA said there was black ice all over the highways so I packed it in for the night – coincidentally at the very same motel MFW and I had spent our first wedded trip to Seattle 18 years before. I resolved to attack Mother Nature early the next morning even though the weather reports from the Medford TV stations were sounding the alarm about the unforeseen and record snowfalls overnight.

At 7AM sharp the following morning I hopped on Mello after first melting the ice layer on her seat (some parts of my anatomy disappear completely when in contact with frost) and began a quick search for the town constables. Unable to find their whereabouts or to spot a prowl car I began the ride south into the unknown. Nary a block had passed when Mello slipped, the first of many, on a patch of ice. Fortunately, she handles well and the patch was small but my sphincter tightened up and was to remain that way for the next 12 or so hours. It was still dark so I continued on my way at between 15-40MPH with four-wheelers whizzing past at an alarming rate.

A dozen or so miles later I spotted a bunch of CHP cruisers. VIOLA! I’ll just stop in and check out the road conditions. The good old ChiPsters won’t let me down! My hopes were immediately deflated as no one was home. Do the CHP keep the same non-hours as the Orygun State Police? Just as I was pondering my next move lo and behold Deputy Dawg pulled into the lot. Before he could ask "what you want masked man?" I quickly explained I needed road info and hadn’t been able to get it elsewhere. He said both roads to the world were pretty bad and 199 was the better of the two. Before I go further with my story please remember Dear Reader that he was from CA and not OR. It is important.

I did not have a map with me, nor did he. If we had looked, we would have seen 199 takes you back through the mountains to Grants Pass – one of the cities which had been snowed in by the previous night’s storm. But, he must know what he is talking about, methinks so I launch off but quickly wonder why the destination signage is pointing to Grants Pass and not Redding, where I want to go. The roads in CA are slushy and spotty with ice but have been sanded and miles go slowly by. Then I reach the OR state line and realize – WHAT!!!!! – why am I back in OR? And not only that but OR does not do a thing to their snowy roads. The wind has blown the snow into heaps where passing traffic has pressed it into sheets of ice. After battling the ice for about 10 miles, and within 38 miles of Grants Pass, I finally give up and go back down the mountain to begin again – this time the way I had planned to do it. Five hours wasted and the fury inside my helmet gave some respite from the icy temps.

70 miles south of Crescent City down 101 there is a pretty little town of Arcata, CA - gateway to Route 299. The locals say it is too twisty and has ice but it is now early afternoon and the sun has been shining on and off all day. Can’t be worse than the roads in OR…..can it? Well, not exactly, however, there are 4 or 5 mountain passes on 299 at elevations higher than 2,500 feet. Just the elevation needed to freeze melting water into ice. Got to watch those shady spots! But the bike handles well and just a slip or two gets my heart beating like a June bride. I finally make it out of the mountains around 5PM and into the town of Redding.

Now, you need to know I have been traveling for the 12 hours in rain, snow, sleet, on ice and slush – a trip which normally takes about 4 hours. I am in the most wilderness wilderness part of CA where cell phones work for no man and where I had seen no other folks. I stop at a fast food place along I-5 to fill both myself and the Wing and, for the first time since I left Eugene, the cell phone rings. It is my hometown police department! My first thought was for MFW since we hadn’t talked since my departure the afternoon prior. NO! They are wondering if I am OK and where I am. Seems MFW was very upset at not hearing from me and thought I had tumbled into the ocean. She also notified the OR and CA police so now I feel like Cagney on the lam. I quickly explain I am fine then call MFW to ease her fears. Satisfied that I will not be arrested I once again hit the road. This story is already turning into one of those "you won’t believe this" episodes but wasn’t funny at the time and gets me a dope-slap every time I mention it to MFW.

I should mention now that since I left Eugene 12 hours ago the temps have hovered between 25-40F and I am thoroughly frozen and exhausted. So my plan is to ride down past Sac-o-tomatoes and get a motel for the night. Unfortunately, I-5 does not go by anything in my price range until I get to the "interesting" little burg of Tracy. I spot a motel to my liking and a gas station nearby and pull in to fill the Wing first…..until I look around and notice I am the only person of my particular ethnicity and everyone else has lots of hair, gold chains and thumping stereos. I quickly decide that neighborhood won’t be good for Mello Y. and book it back onto the freeway. By the time I next spot a good motel I have ridden for 5-6 hours and cruised past many fields of frozen garlic’s, avocados or summat. I decide instead to park it at Denny’s and get something hot to drink and manage to while away an hour or so sometimes shaking so profusely the waiter is ready to dial 9-1-1. Finally thawing out, mostly, I mount up Old Faithful and make for, hopefully, a warmer SoCal.

But fate has a nasty surprise in store for me. No sooner do I reach the freeway when an overhead sign says "I-5 closed at Grapevine due to snow". For those of you who do not know, the Grapevine is a very tall mountain which is the only way into El A from the central state. No problem thinks I and quickly remember Highway 58 heading east from which I can connect to I-10 (after a bit of juggle down Old Route 66). Unfortunately for me, 58 is also the way all those truckers get from the central valley into El A too. Now I am the only two-wheeler screaming across the night desert in 16-degree air surrounded on all sides by large, and I mean VERY large trucks. Fortunately, racing along dodging the truck traffic, I believe I am in the middle of some exotic video game and that tends to take the edge off my cold discomfort. At the intersection of Highway 14 the trucks all turn for El A and suddenly I am as alone as a garlic judge at the summer fair. It is quiet and peaceful for the first time in several hours, that is, until the knocking of my knees against the gas tank causes vertigo in my head. It is still 16F and every part of my body thinks I have been buried alongside the Prehistoric Frozen Man. Every time I stop my legs can’t feel the ground and I am afraid I might plummet to the ground at the alarming rate of 2 MPH.

I am still shaking as I refuel prior to taking Old Route 66 down to I-10. The sun is finally rising and is directly in my eyes. I sure could have used a bit of "Seattle Sunshine" at this moment but I swore never to refuse sunshine – never, ever again.

Route 66 lasts about 10-12 miles and is earthshaking. Guess they don’t maintain the old highways any better than the new ones in CA. I stopped at the side of the road to switch to my sunglasses, my whole body itching from the pounding it had taken. Mello Y. may have become airborne a time or two but no complaints from the Wing so I soldiered onward.

The "shortcut" shown so clearly on my map is in fact a deep sand road. Not the kind of material an 800-lb motorcycle wants to surf. So I grudgingly took the 20-mile circuitous route and eventually found myself on my final road home. I must say though, this part of the trip was probably and undoubtedly the most awesome of the entire trip. 25-50 mile desert vista’s were all around and the sky a combination of deep blue, purple and intense red and yellow. Mello and I smiled at each other knowing there were but a few hours left.

Unfortunately (doesn’t this get monotonous?), we were met by vicious headwinds for the next 150 miles which batted this road-going giant back and forth like a terrier shakes a rat. We managed not to collide with anything however and finally got to enjoy the first 50+ temps of the entire trip.

A relatively quick battle with some early post-work commuters and we were finally home…..well, almost. The house key I carefully packed away was nowhere to be found. And, the damned garage door keypad had apparently failed in my absence. Oh well, the list of honey-do’s is never done. While I waited patiently for MFW to appear I make a mental note of the customizing I want to do to the Wing. For now though, it sits in its honored place behind my other treasured vehicle (’87 Isuzu Impulse JR). Tomorrow I give it a thorough shower then we plan to go riding…..what, so SOON?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

I haven’t totaled up the damage yet but I suspect Mello got mileage only in the thirties. The combination of very slow going and stiff headwinds in the desert (in combination with some, ah, "excessive" speed when traffic permitted) meant time was more important than fuel.

Temps ranges from a very brief high of 51 near Redding (which unfortunately lasted only about 15 minutes) to 16 around Barstow, CA (which, unfortunately lasted most of the ride into AZ). Most times it was in the mid 20’s.

Fuel prices were higher-than-a-cats-ass in WA, OR and CA the cheapest being $2.51 near Edwards AFB in SoCal. The highest was $2.79 near Barstow, CA.

The Wing rode superbly on her almost-new Bridgestone tires and caused no rain-groove or ice-alley tracking which helped immensely with my confidence. Her wind protection is very good but nothing, really, helps at those low temps. I used the heated grips until reaching I-10 at the end of my trip and I am sure they helped a lot too. I do hope I never have to use them again. :wink:

I slept like the proverbial log last night after my 31-hour ride and awoke ready to give Mello a sincere apology and a thorough cleaning. Unfortunately, (is there ever an end to that word?) it is raining in the desert this morning so she sits, patient and grime-covered, in the garage until a drier time. Rain never lasts long in the desert and I am very thankful it didn’t happen at the end of my ride yesterday. Would have been icing on the cake so to speak.

Once again, thanks to everyone for all the hospitality. For those I missed on this trip – brother Tom, friend Pam and Ann B., we’ll do it again as soon as the feeling returns to my, er, ah, "bum". In the meantime I’ll get some pics (as soon as the sun comes out) so you can share part of the "adventure".

Oh, and by the way, if I ever buy another motorcycle….I’m going to get it in the sunny, dry and snow-free Southwest! :wink:

One thing I continue to learn…..you do meet the nicest people on a Honda. :D

P.S. For pictures of the Wing in its pre-snow setting you can go to: http://www.normrichards.com
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,662 Posts
LT, ROFLMAO. Brought tears to my eyes. 'Specially ending back up in Oregon. Great story, glad you made it safe. That is a nice looking scoot.

Just see there, all those guys on the OTB who said you never had a bike. :lol: :lol: :lol:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,623 Posts
LT,

Congrats on the new scoot :D

Nice story, glad it was you, not me. :wink:

There is no arguing that you have BIG ONES :yes: :yes:

later..Randy
 
S

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Lt, that kind of trip sure brings back a lot of memories, glad you made it without puting your new ride down .

BTW the only reason you got home ok , is you got the fastest color . :)

Nice Bike :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
243 Posts
Landtuna what a great story. You had me on pins and needles. This one's keeper.

Welcome back home!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,118 Posts
What a great story, much better to read than to live it out. It did bring back some good memories of past years. Since I live here in Washington, I know the weather your talking about. Glad you made it out of here with the rubber down.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
567 Posts
Great Story!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
20,951 Posts
LT
that was for sure one of those trips u will never forget !

a very long ride with no heated clothing or a map !

next time try to pick some better weather

congratulations !
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,625 Posts
Ah ! Excellent story tuna. Good to hear from ya ? And good to hear ya made her home in one piece. I can't count the number of times I would have holed up in a motel. Nice looking ride congrads...... :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,154 Posts
LT, glad you made it home safe, temps were bad enough without the $hitty weather. Tim
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,033 Posts
Hey Tuna,
I was happy to read about your ride, but, I don't want to use the standard
phrase here (Thanks for sharing) :lol: cuz I don't want a share of that ride. :eek:4: :lol: :lol:
Well, Tacoma to Tempe is about 1487 by the computer maps,
And you rode it in 31 hours.
So, a good ole thousand miler in 24 hours is an average of about 42MPH.
You averaged 48MPH for about 1.5 times that distance.
Gues it could have qualified for a bun burner except for two things.
You probably didn't document things the way they want...
And there ain't no way any part of you (including your bun) was burning
in those temps. :snow1: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Great story and you made it a very enjoyable read! :yes1: :yes1:
DC
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,115 Posts
What a story for the books!!!...I thought i was nutz !!!!...but you take the cake!!!!!!!!..glad you made it home in one piece......Would you be interested in going on our annual polar bear ride next year ???
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
562 Posts
To; Landtuna

“While I waited patiently for MFW to appear I make a mental note of the customizing I want to do to the Wing.” LOL, Spoken (written) like a true motorcyclist !

“I slept like the proverbial log last night after my 31-hour ride and awoke ready to give Mello a sincere apology and a thorough cleaning. Unfortunately, (is there ever an end to that word?) it is raining in the desert this morning so she sits, patient and grime-covered, in the garage until a drier time.”

From us in the south…why did you not push it out into the rain and get an 80 - 90 % warsh job free?


DC
“And there ain't no way any part of you (including your bun) was burning “

Naw! Burned buns? Popsicle toes was the least of his worries! Can U say shrinkage? Bet he felt like he had a third tonsil for most of that ride! LOL
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,309 Posts
That was, indeed, a great story! Thanks for sharing it with us. As far as the closed OSP offices is concerned - yep, there aren't too many of 'em out there, but we LIKE it that way. :lol:

Providing the weather is no worse on Super Bowl weekend than it was when you went through, several of us will be making a run down Hwy 199 to the coast and south to Arcata/Eureka for a ride around the Lost Coast. Come on up and join us; you're experienced now! :lol:
 

·
Legend in His Own Mind
Joined
·
4,671 Posts
Sounds like you earned your wing. What a trip, what a story. I don't know if it held my interest because it was so well written (which BTW it was)or because it was so akin to some of my lifes misadventures, LOL. Glad you made it, your a tough dude who is evidently the real deal. Terry 8)
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,633 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for all the compliments guys. I was hoping some of you would find the humor (?) in my Great Adventure.

Loved that comment about "third tonsil"! :lol:

And BTW, thair ain't no freakin flowers and MFW had the camera with her so no pics. I doubt I would have stopped to take them anyway.

One thing I learned.....it is very easy to stay wide awake in very low temps. Don't want to do it again anytime soon tho'.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,928 Posts
Bump just because if you missed it you missed a fun read. Very well written Tuna.


Illegitimi non carborundum, think I have seen that one. LOL
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,362 Posts
Congrats on the new scoot, LT! I have admired the pics of Mello Yellow that Norm has posted in the past. Should be a great bike.
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top