Sunday, September 17, 2017

A Day at the Races....

We woke to a cold, but thankfully dry, day. I was expecting to look out the motel room window and see frost, it was almost cold enough. There was radar indicated snow 50 miles away. We decided to go out and brave the cold. John wanted to ride to Sturgis and find out what time the supermoto races started. They were going to start their practice laps and qualifying at noon.

We left Sturgis and went south, down Vanocker Canyon Road. It's a beautiful, twisty road with a good surface and lots of elevation changes. Some 9% and 10% grades, with lots of 25 MPH curves and right angle corners. Parts of Vanocker Canyon Road are posted 35 MPH and 45 MPH. We enjoyed a spirited ride down the canyon.

When we got to the end of Vanocker, we turned left onto Nemo Road. Nemo's not quite as twisty as Vanocker, but it's just as fun to ride. Nemo ends at the cut off to Johnson Siding. From there, we turned around and ran back north to Sturgis. It was a great way to spend some time before the races started.

It never did warm up much. I think the high I saw was 50°F.

We spent the next 5 or 6 hours watching the races. If you're not sure what supermoto is, it's like motocross on the street with some dirt sections and some big dirt jumps. The bikes are motocross style and most of the riders were running street tires front and rear. A few were on knobbies. The course ran on several Sturgis streets, around a some buildings, across a parking lot or two... There were several classes, including youngsters riding 65cc and 80cc bikes, amateurs and vets, and a couple of pro classes, both 250cc and 450cc.

We didn't make it back to our motel until after dark and the temps were falling fast.

No racing and ALL riding tomorrow!!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Game Cancelled Because of Rain!

I woke up early this morning, around 5:30, and it was pouring rain! John and I spent the morning watching TV and checking the radar. It rained heavily until noon, then it slowed down to a constant drizzle. He called some friends of his, Kathy and Dean, and they came over to our motel and picked us up in their car. The four of us drove down to Sturgis to check on the Supermoto races. We met one of the racers and he told us that the practice, qualifying, and races, had been cancelled for the day and that if the weather improves tomorrow they'll be racing.

We walked around town for a while then decided to head for Deadwood. John and Kathy did some gambling, while Dean and I walked up and down the main street. We all went to the Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant in Spearfish for an early dinner. Afterwards, they dropped us back of at the motel. It finally quit raining around 9:00 tonight...

The forecast for Saturday is dryer, but much cooler.

Only a few pics today.

Even if it's frosty in the morning, I'm going riding!!! I've had enough waiting for better weather.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Arrived in Belle Fourche...

Yesterday it was HOT, today it was much cooler. We got started on our way west about 8:30 this morning. There were a few sprinkles along the way, but no heavy rain. We drove about half an hour and stopped in Gettysburg for a quick breakfast. We were back on the road in less than 15 minutes!

We crossed the Missouri River and stopped to take some pictures.

On both side of the river there were huge fields of sunflowers. Most of them looked like this...

They would have been an amazing site a month ago.

We were in Faith just before noon. Faith is the home of "Sue" the T-rex...

We Got to Belle Fourche in time for lunch. We had a couple of tacos at Taco John's before heading back out of town to do some shopping in Sturgis. John wanted to find a hoodie. It's supposed to rain all day tomorrow and the temp could drop to 37°F by Saturday morning.

We checked into our hotel and unpacked. John went to check on some friends of his, and I made a run down to Spearfish to buy a few snacks for the room. The temp has been dropping and it started raining again. The fires out west and down in the southern area of the Black Hills have made for a very overcast and hazy sky. The hills are hard to see from a distance.

We'll see what tomorrow brings. I want to ride but the weather might not cooperate!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Checking in After a Long Hot Day...

Tonight's post comes to you from the Faulkton Inn in scenic down town Faulkton, SD. Population 747.

The plan was to meet John at the Holiday gas station in Hayward at 8:00 this morning... I was ready and packed. I woke up early, showered and was on time, until I took the first picture of the trip.

Nancy wasn't home this morning to send me off, so I used a mini tripod and the self time to get the, "start of the trip" picture. I put on my jacket, helmet, and gloves, and headed down the road. It was a nice cool 56°F this morning. A hoodie under my mesh jacket was perfect. 7 miles later, I realized that I had forgot to grab my camera.. DOH!!!! So, a quick u-turn and 10 minutes later I was back on my way.

I ended up 15 minutes late, and when I got to the gas station, John was standing on the side of the road watching for me.

We took highway 77 west, through Minong and Danbury. An hour after we started, we crossed the St. Croix River into Minnesota.

77 turns into MN 48 at the river. We followed 48 to Hinckley, MN.

A little fall color and an old stone railroad viaduct...

We turned south onto I-35, and got off the interstate 3 miles later at highway 23. Another hour later, we had a gas stop in Milaca, MN.

Foley, MN...

We continued down 23, through St. Cloud, MN, past Willmar, MN, to highway 7. Then west on 7 to Montevideo where we stopped so John could take the liner out of his jacket. It was getting warmer, HOT actually.

From Montevideo, we headed west on US 212 and stayed on it all the way to Faulkton, SD. Along the way, I saw a bank clock that said 95°F !!

We were seeing a lot of butterflies on 212. When we got to the motel, the staff was telling us that because of the fires in Montana, the butterflies migration path had moved east, into SD. There were lots of them.

Here's one in the parking lot...

479 miles today. Another 250+ miles in the morning. We should be in Belle Fourche in a little over 4 hours after we leave here. Twisty roads tomorrow!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Time for Some Maintenance...

My 9th riding season on the big Kawasaki is winding down, the bike has 53,615 miles on it now.

Since I bought it new in the spring of '09, I've done 15 oil changes, 5 front tires, 6 rear tires (got a flat in one rear tire while in Nevada, put a plug in it, rode home, then replaced the tire... better to be safe than sorry), 3 air filters, 1 battery, 1 chain and sprocket set, and 1 set of spark plugs.

I have an opportunity to take a long weekend road trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota! Before taking this road trip, the bike needed some maintenance. I installed the 6th front, and 7th rear tires, Michelin Pilot Road 2. I also installed a new chain and sprocket set. I did it's 16th oil change and flushed the brake and clutch fluid..

I've scrubbed the bike clean and waxed it up. I've got the GPS and Xm radio hooked up and tested. I just need to pack some clothes and I'll be good to go!

The new chain and sprocket set...

New tires.. already mounted up!

I'll be riding with my buddy John. We're planning to leave Wisconsin on Wednesday and getting to Belle Fourche on Thursday. Staying until Monday, or if the weather is going to be bad, leave on Sunday instead. I should be home by Tuesday evening at the latest.

There are going to be Supercross races in Sturgis this weekend, so we'll try to watch a little racing and do some riding in the hills. I really want to ride Spearfish Canyon, Vanocker Canyon Road, 385, 244, Iron Mountain Road...

This is Iron Mountain Road, AKA 16A. I hope you can click the pic for a bigger view of it! Or, search Google Maps for, "Keystone, SD" and check out the road, it's just south of town. If you ride it from the south to north, you can see Mount Rushmore as you drive through a couple of one lane tunnels..

My last trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota was in 2013. It will be nice to get out and put on some miles again!

If all goes as planned, there should be frequent updates with plenty of pictures... I hope...

Friday, May 12, 2017

Too Many Left Turns...

I know that anyone who reads this won't get the inside joke in the title, so let me explain. I met my riding buddy, John, who Nancy refers to as my BFF, back in 1999. That was the first year I rode a motorcycle to Sturgis, SD for the rally. I went with Lyle, who was my patrol sergeant back then, John, who was Lyle's brother-in-law, and Jesse, who was John's nephew. That first year there were a total of 5 of us. We met up with Garth, from Castlegar, British Columbia, once we got out to the campground. In this small group, almost all of us were, in some way, involved in Law Enforcement. I was a Deputy Sheriff, Lyle was my supervisor, John's wife was an agent with the ATF, and Garth was a dispatcher for the RCMP. I think Jesse had just graduated from high school.

The group stayed the same for several years. Then it started expanding. Lyle's brother Larrie and several of his friends started coming along. The list of who was in our group grew every year. At one point, it had grown to 11 or 12. As to be expected, this caused some bad vibes at times. It's pretty hard to get 12 people to all agree on just about anything. Even trying to figure out where to go for breakfast could turn into a long, heated discussion.

Departure dates and travel plans were a mess some years. One year, I thought everyone was going to Sturgis for the last few days of the rally and then stay there for a few more days and enjoy the nearly vacant Black Hills... I scheduled my vacation time around those plans. I apparently didn't get the updated memo that year, because everyone headed to Sturgis on the usual Thursday before the official start day. I showed up mid week like I thought was the plan... A few days later, everyone was gone.

The problems can't be blamed on any one person. It's just that there were issues with conflicting personalities.

So, what does all that have to do with the title? Well, one day my buddy John was leading the too large group on a long ride through the Black Hills. Traffic can be pretty intense at times with 500,000 motorcyclists all out joy riding in such a small area. One of the riders in the group made a snide remark about planning, and the route making too many left turns for his taste... This didn't sit well with John. I think there were a few remarks about, "If you think you can do better..." or maybe it was even more colorful than that. I don't remember.

I know, this still doesn't explain the title...

I spoke with John last night about getting on the bikes and going out for a ride today, and we agreed it would be a good day for it.

This morning, he called me up and told me he had been looking at a map and found some curvy roads to ride. I quickly got on the computer and brought up Google Maps. I followed along as he laid out the route he had been thinking about. It started with me riding 20 miles to his place. Then, "left on this road.... Left on B.... " We were going to be making a big counter-clockwise loop. I reminded him of the comment someone made about "too damn many left turns". We, He, can joke about now.

We ended up down in Ladysmith, and stopped for a photo opp at Old Smoky.

We had lunch at La Casa Mexicana Mexican Restaurant. I forgot to bring my camera in with me so, sadly, there are no pictures of the meal. Both John and I were glad we stopped there. The food was very good!. I think Nancy and I will have to go there for dinner some night.

I put 179 miles on the Kawasaki, the weather was perfect, sunny, no wind... It turned out to be a nice first ride of the season. Even if there were too many left turns. ;)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

We Lost Another Cat...

I was really hoping to post some motorcycle news, or some happy Spring news. We have no snow, but the temps are still close to 0 at night. I'm sure Spring will arrive, and the bikes and convertible will come out soon. Unfortunately, this post has none of the above...

We had to put Rudy down this morning. This has been an especially hard day. It was just 74 days ago that we had to put down Orangie.

Rudy was born in my closet when we lived in Prescott, WI, on 4-29-09. A pregnant stray cat that wandered into our lives and stuck around our place must have decided we were going to be OK "pet parents". She was an odd one. She wanted nothing to do with either of us, or the other 2 cats we already had, Sticky and Orangie. She wanted no affection, no love.... only food and to be left alone. Early in the morning of the 29th, she jumped up on the bed with us and let me rub her belly. After 10 minutes or so, she got off the bed and disappeared into my closet. I remember waking Nancy and telling her to listen. There was the sound of mewing baby kittens coming from our closet. She had a litter of 6, all nestled on top of my 2 spare pairs of Sorel boot liners.

We now had 9 cats. We worked hard to acclimate the kittens to human contact, but the mother kept picking them up and hiding them every time we'd try. We cared for them until they were old enough to adopt. Then we brought mom and 4 of the kittens to a local shelter that would find homes for them.

We kept two males, Rudy(in the back), and his brother, Screamer (in front).

Rudy was a very unusual cat. Unlike his scrawny, thin and very talkative brother, Rudy was BIG and solid. He had huge paws, thick fur, no fat, no belly, and great teeth. He hardly ever meowed and when he did, it was almost kitten like. For being the big, burly boy he was, he had a gentle and shy demeanor. He was absolutely in love with out oldest, Sticky. Rudy was Sticky's shadow and was never far from him. Rudy would follow him wherever he went. Sometimes Sticky would snap at Rudy, just trying to get some space of his own. Rudy was persistent. He would always try to nurse off of Sticky. It was pretty common to hear suckling sounds and see Rudy's paws kneading Sticky's belly. Sticky just let him...

Rudy was truly an indoor cat. I remember one night when we lived in Prescott. Rudy was lost outside and it was getting late. I took Orangie outside with me and we walked in the woods behind the house. I was calling his name, but Rudy was nowhere to be found. Orangie was a now tame, feral farm cat and was very used to being outside. That night Orangie stayed outside all night. In the morning, I found Orangie and Rudy waiting at the basement patio door. Orangie was fine, but Rudy looked like he was in shock. His eyes were huge, his tail was huge. He looked scared. A few days later we found a very small red scab on the left side, right about the middle of his rib cage. I always suspected someone, like our 35 year-old (still living with mom and dad) neighbor, had shot him with a bb or pellet gun. Today, Dr. Sammi took x-rays and sure enough, there was a pellet! After that night he never tried to sneak out like the other boys did.

He was the lowest maintenance cat we have. He always seemed the picture of health. But this week it all changed. He started getting sick around Tuesday this week. I thought it might have just been a hairball issue. By Thursday, He couldn't eat or drink. Nancy took him to Dr. Sammi and she gave him a shot of antibiotics and injected him with saline because he was dehydrated. She told us she'd be available this weekend if he didn't improve. Friday was tough. He showed no improvement. There was no way he'd survive the weekend if he couldn't eat or drink! Nancy called the Dr. around 10:30 Friday night. At about 5:40 this morning, the Dr. called back. We were at her place by 6:30. She took x-rays and it showed that Rudy's lungs were full of liquid, and his esophagus was very constricted. We talked with her about what to do. She said that she had seen cats with these same symptoms before and was sure this was FIP(feline infectious peritonitis) related. She had found that Orangie had been a carrier of FIP. There is no cure or treatment for FIP. The virus can hide dormant for a long time before there's a problem.

We made a heart breaking decision... There's no joy in the house this evening.

"Heaven is the place where we meet all of the pets we loved on earth"

RIP my little buddy.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

WARNING: Sad Cat Passing Story....

It's with mixed emotions that I make tonight's post. We had our cat, "Orangie", put to sleep today. He'd been living with diabetes for the last 9 months and his physical condition had been slowly declining. We gave him shots twice a day to try and control it, but feline diabetes is hard on them. His back legs were losing strength and he had a difficult time walking on non-carpeted floors. All he wanted to do the last week was hide under our bed. He would use the cat box when no one was around and then head for cover again.

We met Orangie shortly after we moved to Prescott, WI. We started seeing him in our backyard in March or April of 2005. He'd come around with another, much younger, stray that we'd later take in and name, "Sticky". The two of them were best buddies and they were always together. Sticky was a neutered and box trained cat that had probably been kicked out and left to fend for himself by some less than wonderful owner. Sticky warmed up to us right away and once he came inside that spring he found our home to his liking and never left...

Orangie however, was a bit more reluctant to come join our family. He'd had a tough life and we suspected that he was a 2 or 3 year old, semi-feral, farm cat from the other side of the ravine in our backyard. He was very skittish at first and would run when he saw us. It took a long time for him to let us approach him. He'd hang out in the back yard and we'd feed him while Sticky watched...

One of the first times he came into our house, we noticed that one of his front paws was swollen and red. When we called the Vet they told us to bring him in, and we just laughed to ourselves. We managed to capture him in a cardboard box and duct taped it shut to make the trip. By the time we got to the Vet's office, he had clawed a hole in the side of the box and when he put his paw out of the hole, he appeared to be giving everyone the finger. When we explained to the Vet that Orangie was a stray he neutered him for free. They also fixed up his broken and infected paw. At one point during his visit, Orangie broke free in the Vet's office... They later referred to him as "Satan in a Box".

It wasn't until the coldest part of the winter of 2006-2007 that Orangie finally gave in and became a house cat. I had done everything I could to help him get through that winter. I made him a heated shelter out of a plastic storage tub, 2" foam insulation, a down filled throw, and a kennel heater. I placed the box on a table that was under the second floor porch. It was well protected and out of the wind. He'd come inside, but only for short periods and would insist on going back out to spend the night in his box. Until frostbite got his ears...

This looks way worse than it was... He recovered but his ears were a little disfigured.

After the frostbite, he wanted nothing to do with going outside in cold weather. He and Sticky would still go out in the summer and hunt in the woods behind our home..

When we moved up to Cable, we brought all our cats with us. By then we had 6 rescues... Sticky, Orangie, Vinnie (The Thug), Screamer, Rudy, and LBK (little boy kitty).

Since moving here, we've lost 3 cats. Vinnie (The Thug) who passed away unexpectedly in Nancy's arms in August of 2012, LBK in June of 2013, and now Orangie.

It was a hard decision to make. I absolutely hate feeling like Judge, Jury, and Executioner, but I know I did the best for him. Even the Vet said that we did more for him than most people would have. Dr. Sammi did an excellent job. She fitted Orangie with an IV port, and when it was time he passed very peacefully with no apparent pain, physical reactions or stress...

Thank you North Star Veterinary Clinic..

Goodbye my buddy..... Rest in peace...

Sticky and his best bud, Orangie...

My favorite Orangie story...

When we lived in Prescott, WI, Orangie was an indoor/outdoor cat. The last few years we were there he had an unusual behavior. Every August, I would take off on the motorcycle for a week or so, and head to Sturgis, SD. Nancy would let Orangie outside after I left and he would disappear for the entire time I was gone. She would call out for him several times a day but he'd never return. Every time this happened, Nancy would think that he was gone for good... But, like clock work, I'd come back home from my trip in the evening and without fail the next morning Orangie would be outside waiting at the patio door... I'd like to think there was a spiritual connection between the two of us but, knowing Orangie, I'd bet he was never far away and would hear me come home or could see me in the house. He was always excited to greet me!

Once we moved up here, the cats were no longer allowed outside. There are way too many dangerous critters in these woods...