Where Are We Right Now?

Where Are We Right Now

Thursday, May 22, 2014


I can't believe it, but after 10 days and 48 States we just crossed into Oregon, our last state.

Where we are right now!

Check out our GPS location by clicking here

Day 9 Recap - May 21: The Beautiful West

It was very apparent that we entered the west today. The plains of South Dakota changed into rolling hills and trees. We entered a small town called Aladdin WY, population 15 and, just in case you were wondering, the entire town is for sale. It is all old school, old gas pumps, old store, old folks.

The drive to Devils Tower was phenomenal and one of my favorite rides of the trip. I highly recommend going out there.

While at Devils Tower we met some interesting people filming for the Travel Chanel while going over the mechanic of the bikes:

Day 8 Recap - May 20: A Whole Lotta Straight

Written by Cami and Grant:

Day 8 was refreshingly short in mileage (600 miles feels short to us now) so we decided to take a late start, which all of us appreciated. After eating a hot breakfast at the hotel, we set off on the long, flat, straight road of Iowa. We were very excited to have warm weather, enabling us to take off a couple of our (sometimes even 4) layers.

We stopped for lunch at a restaurant in South Dakota where we had good conversation about concerts in the 80s while we ate loads of popcorn. Steve just kept refilling our popcorn baskets before they were even empty and I don't know how much of that stuff we ate! We had an impressively quick waitress also (a huge improvement from the pizza place in Chicago) so lunchtime was very enjoyable. The downside to how full we were after lunch is that it makes the driving after feel very long. We made it up to North Dakota though, where Andy took an awesome picture of the gas station worker, a spunky old man, on his motorcycle. That guy was loving it, and we told him we would recommend his gas station to anyone we knew who was coming to North Dakota. 

In the evening, the sunset was beautiful to watch as we rode over to Minnesota and back down to Aberdeen South Dakota. We finally made it to our destination before doing any riding in the dark and got Steve a nice bowl of soup (just what he wanted) at the Millhouse Family Restaurant before retiring to the comfort of our beds.

By Jared:

Although they call them the Plain states, I was surprised to find they were not as plain as I thought they would be. Today we cruised through Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota. Each had their own beauty. A little piece of heaven can be found right on the corner of ND, SD and MN where there is a large lake there that we got to ride around. It was beautiful. Everyone really enjoys getting off the highway and onto back roads for a bit where the scenery is much better and the riding more engaging. Nonetheless, today's ride was a lit of straight, flat backroads. But at least we got to make good time!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day 7 Recap - May 19: Chicago, My Kind of Town

(By Marc Menlove): Erie to Waterloo

Who would have thought that southern Wisconsin/Northern Illinois would be so amazing.  The rolling hills, farm houses, barns, and dairy cows were breathtaking. It makes you want to up root the family to a small town and live a simple life with far less worries and more time with family and doing the things that are truly important.   As we came off the smaller road out of the country and into Dubuque we crossed the Mississippi river headed west.   As we rolled through town I could smell baked goods baking somewhere. 

We have been heading west now for two days and the thoughts of getting home to see badly missed family are looming.  The miles are getting shooter and easier as time goes by. 

Our country is truly diverse and exciting.  I have found many places off and on the beaten path that I would love to bring my family back someday to explore.  Suddenly the vacation hotspots seem dull as there are so many places in our very own country left unexplored. 

We’re on our way 2 more days!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 6 Recap - May 18: Beautiful New England

I asked Steve Peacock to write up the Day 6 Recap:

Today we started our ride with a different 'feel' concerning what we have been and are doing.  So far we have spent half the time of the ride and traveled over half of the distance - over 4,800 miles of an expected 6,600 miles.  We have struggled through the adjustment to the long days in the saddle.  We have handled the pressures of being split into two different groups for two days with four or more hours separating us. And now on this, the 'over the hump' day we enjoy a leisurely short day heading homeward, and reflecting on the beauty of New England and the heritage/history we find here.  We have smiles on our faces and renewed energy as we're "Hammer Down - Homeward Bound"!

Spring is just coming to New England.  Many of the deciduous trees are just barely developing leaves.  The winters are harsh, but when spring comes it arrives with intensity.  The greens are so very very green!  Our travel takes us westward through southern New Hampshire and Vermont to Albany New York.  The forests have some evergreen, but are 90% leaf bearing.  In the fall the leaves are most brilliant with Orange, Red and Yellow that are so bright they almost fluoresce!  The evergreens serve as punctuation points.  They a green spots in a sea of brilliant color.  Fall in New England is magical! 

This beautiful Highway 101 wanders through small townships that have existed since the founding of the country.  It's a two-lane highway that follows the paths and trails created by the residents over two hundred years ago to get from one village to another. These hardy people live a simple lifestyle.  The homes are modest.  Mostly two stories and square.  Yards are simple.  Where flowering bushes have been planted the colors of the blooms are brilliant - purples, blues and reds to contrast with the green of the lawns and surrounding forests.

Every place the highway goes over a hill and dirt has been moved to flatten the contour the sides of the road expose layers of granite.  Good old New England granite (not dirt and gravel).  It's covered with lichen and moss, plants have grown in the seams, and it's most beautiful!  We stopped to purchase real maple syrup.  We notice at the old country store that the wooden threshold into the building has been worn by countless crossings.  How many stories of joy and tragedy have been told by those entering or leaving.  We pause to take photos of the 'Creamery Bridge'. 

The numerous lakes we pass have us looking for moose in the swampy fringes.  Passed over Hogback Mountain (2,300 feet above sea level) where you can see three states (New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont).  As we ride up and down the shady hillsides we have a chance to recall phrases of our early heritage;  "One if by Land - Two if by Sea", the "Green Mountain Boys", words on the revolutionary flag "Don't Treat On Me", and people and places like Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, Walden Pond, and the 'Tea Party".

This has been a journey through early Americana!  We moved through upstate New York enjoying easy riding on divided highway.  Along the way we paused to visit Palmyra and spent a few moments in the Sacred Grove!  WOW!!!!!  Part of our party wanted to see Niagara Falls - and did!  The sunset was particularly touching. The rest of the group just wanted to find a bed.  We stopped in Erie, Pa. for the night.  Lake Erie was off our right shoulder, and it's so huge you can detect the curvature of the earth's surface on the horizon of the lake. 

Tomorrow promises a challenge.  Almost 800 miles to travel, but the biggest concerns are the early start and the intense stress of negotiating the traffic around Cleveland, Toledo and Chicago!  In a car - no big deal.  But a group of 5 bikes trying to stay together with city traffic, speed up-slow down, DON'T CUT ME OFF!  It will be a stressful day.  But today - a bit of heaven enjoyed on two wheels with the wind in our faces and the sunrise at our back!  We're comin' home!

It happens to the best of us:

Riders #5 and 6 - Grant and Cami Sumsion

“How Crazy Are You?”  When I read the subject line of Doc’s e-mail last winter I knew he was working on another Ironbutt. My response after learning it was to be the 48/10?  “I just might be that crazy.”  My wife’s reply?  “Noooo.”

Maybe motorcycles suit me because they are a wonderful mix of the rational and the irrational.  So economical, so exhilarating.  So practical, so foolish.  I rationalized my way onto a Harley-Davidson nine years ago, when my pickup truck was bleeding me dry at the pump.  “Maybe I should start taking the bus.  But I would need something to get around during the day.  What happens when I need to run to court?  A bicycle?  No, too sweaty.  A scooter?  Sure.  Did you know that scooters are actually more dangerous than motorcycles?  They lack the power necessary to move with traffic at highway speeds.  Really?  Well, that’s what some guy on the internet said.  Works for me.  Plus if I have to go to Salt Lake for something, I couldn’t go on a scooter.”  Boom!  I had talked myself into getting a motorcycle.  Completely practical, right? 

From there it was a purely emotional step to get the Harley.  My grandfather was a Harley dealer 100 years ago.  Here he is with his “business card” showing him with a 1914 Model.

I rode some other bikes but they just didn’t feel the same.  When I took that first test ride on my 2005 Super Glide, I was hooked.  There was something of a connection there with Grandpa Hellyer.  More than that though, was the sensation I remember from a recurring dream from my childhood.  You may have dreamt, as I did, of flying.  My dream flight wasn’t the superman, fly over tall buildings kind stuff.  In my dreams I flew very low, almost as if I were hovering just above the ground.  I think I will never forget those dreams, nor the identical sensation I felt when I rode my motorcycle over Ironton hill.  Hovering just above the ground, the wind in my face.  Flying.

The next summer Harley-Davidson had their HOG rally in Billings, MT, where Grandpa had lived and I had graduated high school.  I had to go.  I talked my middle daughter, Cami, into joining me.  Despite frigid temperatures as we rode through Yellowstone after dark, she endured the trip cheerfully and was an ideal traveling companion.

She also joined me on my first group motorcycle tour, which was when I met Doc– my wife’s parents’ neighbor’s dentist (so we’re practically related).  My father-in-law had invited me to join them on a tour of southern Utah.   On the first night, at a grimy motel in Panguitch, Doc initiated the new members of the Bar-T Riders (a title I could not earn for several more trips).  Quite the showman, I thought.  I’ve since joined Doc on rides to Jackson Hole, Glacier National Park, Jasper/Banff, and the Black Hills – each time joined by one of my daughters.  A few years ago Doc and I did our first Ironbutt – a Saddle Sore 1000 across the Nevada desert and back.  There is a lot of show there, but even more “go”. 

Maybe because I had started to enjoy recreational riding so much, I felt a growing need to balance that fun time with something more useful.  In 2009, after I upgraded to a Road King Classic, rode to Glacier National Park, and got my first taste of huckleberry ice cream at the Big Dipper in Missoula, I helped to found the Ride Against Child Abuse (www.rideagainstchildabuse.org).  Now in its sixth year, we’re still trying new things to help it grow. I’m happy to find any chance I can to bring more attention to the ride and encourage more riders to support our efforts – including my participation in this ride.

Considering my schizophrenic desire to be involved in something at once beneficial and yet ridiculously impractical, when Doc asks, “How crazy are you?”  the only possible response is, “Just crazy enough.”