Sunday, December 13, 2020

Land Cruiser Drivers Seat

 Decided to tackle the power seat gears on the drivers side today. I also have a clunk in the seat under acceleration and braking. Not a lot, just enough to be annoying. Did a search on IH8MUD and some folks pointed to the gears. I had ordered a full set from Gamiviti so figured I'd dig in and get it done.

First step was to wait for a break in the rain and yank the seat. Good opportunity to vacuum where the seat was.

On disassembly I find this little screw.

Somebody has serviced this chair before it appears. And low and behold, thank goodness I watched the Gamiviti youtube video and did the passenger seat first because whoever did the work forgot to put in the back washers. I might have missed that if I hadn't watched the video and done the other seat.

I grabbed one of the front washers and headed to the hardware store. An hour later I'm home and I find I made a small mistake. Yup, I forgot that the rear washer is slightly larger than the front washer. In fact, it's very precise to be able to fit over the splines but not over the main shaft in the back. I drilled out the washers I bought and installed it all and no more clunk. Going to be much better from here on out.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Land Cruiser Passenger Seat Gear

 When I bought the Land Cruiser, one of the things the previous owner was completely transparent about was the non functioning passenger seat motor that moves it forwards or backwards.  Apparently it's common for the gears in the seats to strip out over time.  Thankfully, Gamiviti offers replacement gears for a reasonable price.

First I had to remove the seat from the truck and tear it apart to get to the gears.  Thankfully the weather was splendid today to be out doing this kind of work.

Here is the bottom of the seat where all the work is being done.

Some of the parts that needed to be removed as well to get the job completed.

The gears on both sides were stripped out.  Here you can see one of the new gears pressed onto the shaft compared with the two old gears next to it.

One thing also that happens that contributes to the gear stripping out is the below end cap comes out and gets lost.  Gamiviti provides those as well.  The youtube video Gamiviti published to show how to do this job recommends drilling the piece and putting a set screw in to keep it from coming out again.  The screw cap was pretty loose so I followed the directions and installed the set screw as well.

Once back in the truck it works like new again.  I'm now able to move the seat forward and give Jakob some more legroom in the back.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Land Cruiser windshield washer issue

 When I traveled down to Austin to get the canoe, I accumulated a lot of bugs on the windshield.  Trying to work the windshield washer I found it to not be working, and just dealt with the bugs collecting.

When I got home I filled up the washer reservoir and found it still not working.  I followed the hoses and they went around to the drivers side where there's an electric valve.  I pulled the hose out of the valve on the pump side and fluid would flow, but when I pulled the hose out of the exit of the valve, nothing came out.

I did a search on the ih8mud forum and found that this is the diverter valve that determines based on your button presses, whether the fluid goes to the windshield or the rear window.  Seems that these crud up on the inside after a while and aren't worth trying to repair and should just be replaced.  Some folks will just replace them with a T fitting and just let the fluid flow to both.  I looked up the part number and found a brand new one on ebay for $40 and ordered it up.  Got the new one in and all swapped out.

Checking the system again I now had flow out of the valve, however no flow out of the nozzles.  I do have fluid raining out of the bottom of the truck though.  I broke the clips holding the insulating blanket on the hood, which apparently is common procedure because you have a better chance of winning the lottery than to pop those out without breaking them.  Looking behind the old crumbling blanket, I find the hoses aren't connected to the nozzles.  

I connect them back up and test and the hoses pop back off again.  Seems that the nozzles are so clogged they pop off the hoses when I try to use them.  I got the nozzles out, used a safety pin to clean the exit holes from the nozzles and then dropped them in an ultrasonic bath of hot water and dish detergent.  They came out looking almost brand new.

Got them popped back in and they work great.  The little nozzles are ball valves so you can adjust them.  During my cleaning they got moved around and two were spraying the hood right in front of them so I realigned them.  It's fiddly to get them aligned but I ended up with an odd looking but very effective spray pattern.  All good now, ready for Texas bug season.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Trip to get a canoe

 I found a good deal on a canoe on Two Wheeled Texans.  I'd been looking for one for a little while and the deal kept getting better and better, the only thing bad about the deal is that it was about 200 miles away.  Finally, I had to go and get it.  I decided to make it the first "Adventure" and road trip in the Land Cruiser.

I took off bright and early with a full cup of coffee, a malfunctioning GPS and some hastily laid plans that involved as little interstate as possible.  I intended to find a few dirty unpaved roads and hit those to see if I could get the truck a little dirty.  I did manage to hit about 30 miles of this south of Ennis.  A few surprises and a little slide, but all good, got the truck dirty, mission accomplished.

I continued on paved roads from there till I got down near Thorndale where I was to pick up the canoe.  Little did I know, it's all dusty dirty roads to the guy's house.  Awesome!

Made my way over and picked up the canoe.  I followed the seller back into town and we found a nice socially distanced table out on the patio and had lunch before I shoved off and headed home.  I took this picture on the way back.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Minor cosmetic updates

Nothing too terribly exciting compared to what else is going on round here. Guess that's what happens when you get a vehicle already in great shape. Not to be deterred though, there were a few cosmetic items I needed to take care of.

First up, getting rid of this thing.  It's known in the Land Cruiser community as the "Useless Cubby" because it's pretty useless for storing much of anything in it.

Fortunately there's a company called "Wits End" that makes a lot of useful items for the Land Cruiser so I picked up this that allows for you to install some RAM ball connectors there.  I have a lot of this stuff for the motorcycle so it'll be handy.  I'm already testing a phone holder there.  He's got a notch in the top of the insert to allow you to run a power cord out of there which I'll likely do in the future.

Next up, I'm missing a lot of the fancy wood trim panels. I'm ok with that as I am most assuredly NOT a fan of wood trim. However, the glue left behind is rather annoying.

I haven't vinyl wrapped anything in a long time, and wasn't great at it, but it's a nice way to dress things up. I'd previously seen some nice brushed metal black vinyl and wanted to try it. I figured I'd try on the wood around the window/lock switches first.

I'm not overly happy with it. Because of the straight line pattern it really shows where I'm not good at stretching the vinyl uniformly and ends up with some waves in places. Also, when the sun hits it, it's a very annoying bright silver color. I'll likely chalk this up to practice and try something else. Also, I noticed the door trim is wood with black paint over it around the buttons, and some of the paint is worn off. Might have to rectify that as well.

Also, I kinda broke the clock trim. I also need practice on these contours. I went back and watched some more videos and feel I can do better next time. Also, my hand was shaking when cutting and came out badly. Will redo later.

And then there was this annoying thing. 

Someone did a good job with cutting and trimming the foam stuff but really, the part is cheap. I've done a lot of fiche reading to order parts for my motorcycles but a car fiche is a different animal. This gave me some experience looking up and finding parts I need. I found the part number, checked ebay and found I could get a used one for $17 or I could order a new one for $20. Franklin Toyota had the best price to my door so they got the order.

That's it for today, I've been making a list of tiny things that need doing. It's going to be a fun truck.

Monday, October 19, 2020

1997 Toyota Land Cruiser Purchase

Several years ago, we went on a family vacation to Colorado and visited the Great Sand Dunes, which is a destination I'd highly recommend.  While there, my wife found information on nearby Zapata Falls and wanted to visit.  The description warned of the "Gravel Road" leading to the falls area and that an SUV or truck was strongly recommended.  I didn't shy away from most roads in our Honda Accord so we made the attempt.  The gravel road was filled with fist and softball sized rocks and we had to turn around in less than 100 feet.

I didn't like being turned around and vowed to come back one day with something like a Toyota 4Runner and see all the places we couldn't see with the Honda Accord.

It took a lot longer than I anticipated due to some tough economics in our household.  However, recently a member of one of my motorcycle forums was posting about some of his restoration projects and the guy who is a certified mechanic was doing some amazing work.  I noticed in one of his photographs an old Toyota Land Cruiser that looked in good condition.  We had some conversation about it and I told him to let me know when he wanted to sell it.

Fast forward several months and he says he's thinking about selling it as he doesn't drive it much, so we start talking.  The previous owner had thrown a lot of money at it in genuine Toyota parts, even skipping Safelite when his windshield cracked and taking it to the dealer and paying big money for an OEM windshield.  Add on to that, the mechanic that was currently owning and caring for it, I knew this was a good specimen to buy.  I went over to check it out.

Previous Owner's Photo taken the day I looked at it.

We made a deal, I worked with my bank to get an official check FedEx'd to me to exchange.  The owner and his wife were nice enough to deliver it to my house as I was having a hard time figuring out how to go over and get it.

One thing he lamented about owning this truck was that he didn't drive it much and had a lot of trees over his driveway which put sap, sticks and leaves all over the truck, including bird poop.  He'd cleaned it up for me to come see it but in the short week the trees had returned it to it's previous state.  I got to spend some time with the new truck getting it all cleaned up while I waited for Monday to come so I could get it inspected and take care of the title and registration.

With all that taken care of, I was able to take the family out for the first ride.  It's a bit tall getting in but my son loves it.  He keeps telling me that I bought a "Monster Truck."  I've already ordered a few odds and ends to fix a few things.  Got some more stuff to fix on it as it's an old truck that's been well cared for but still has a few blemishes for me to take care of.  I look forward to taking it out on some adventures.  Now to figure out which direction to point the compass and take it somewhere.

Monday, August 3, 2020

My Red Lodge Rendezvous


Holy crap that's a lot of words words words. If you just want to sit back and watch some videos, I got just the thing for you. In fact, please watch the videos, I spent far too many hours digging through footage and putting this together.

Getting to Red Lodge:

Riding at Red Lodge:


I'd been needing another motorcycle trip to the mountains as it had been quite a while. This was especially needed considering all we in the world have been through the last few months as cabin fever had really set in.

Note: For anyone reading this in the future, remember the fun events of 2020? Yea, that's what I'm referring to. With two high risk family members, we've been being very careful and I'll have to be very careful on this trip too.

Big John on the FJR board had posted quite some time ago about another Red Lodge Rendezvous so named for taking place in Red Lodge Montana. I was curious but wasn't sure I could make the logistics work as that is a really long boring two days on the road, or an even longer three days of interesting riding, just to get there. Still, I figured I'd continue to try to find a way to make it work with my limited vacation time.

Big John ended up canceling the event officially because of COVID-19, however many riders posted in the forum that they already had the time off from work and the reservations so they were still going to come and ride, event or not. Things started opening up around the country for the tourism industry and I ended up having the time off from work and things worked out at home for me to slip away for this.

The plan was to take about three days going up, camping along the way, stay for the weekend in Red Lodge and then three days camping on the way home while exploring Colorado and New Mexico as much as possible. Wyoming and Montana were big unknowns as I've never been there before. But it was happening!


Day minus 1

So much for plans. Things are already changing. I'd found a really good RTIC cooler to go in my side bag to carry food for lunch and my dinner items so I could have things like steak for dinner while camping. In fact, I already had a ribeye ready to marinate in fajita seasoning for my first night of camping. However, I've got way too much crap that I'm taking and I need the extra room in the side bag to make things work. I know I have too much crap but it all seems essential at this point. I know it's not because my friend Josh who I'll ride with later is bring his daughter and camping so he's got less room for bags and still managing it, but he's much more experienced camping off the bike than I am.

I ditch the nice cooler and opt for a smaller lunch cooler that I can make work with other items in the side bag. The bike is packed and ready to go. All I have to do is work my shift tomorrow and then after work I'm off.


Day 1
June 23, 2020

I work through my shift but my mind is in the mountains. I started early and worked through lunch so I can cut out around 2PM and get on the road. I'm done, suited up and rolling by 2:25PM, finally on the road, it feels good. The skies are cloudy threatening rain but I only see sprinkles getting through and out of the DFW Metroplex. About an hour west of Dallas and I'm out from under the clouds and the sun is shining. I see very nice temperatures for this time of the year in the upper 80's and lower 90's throughout the day, so I really can't complain.

My destination for the night is Amarillo and that means crossing Texas and that means a lot of small towns to slow down and ride through. On entering one town, the first "Adventure" happened. As I'm approaching I see smoke coming from one of the vehicles way ahead of me. It isn't long before the cause is revealed to me in a literal smoking carcass of a tire in the middle of the road.

There's a lot of trucks on this road so someone has just lost a tire. I speed up and start checking tires on every truck through town. Soon I catch up to this guy, and you can see he's obviously lost a tire from his UHaul trailer.

I flag him down and get him to pull over and I let him know that he's completely lost a tire off his trailer. He's completely clueless but thanks me Then I'm back on my way.

A bit later I start to think about food. I see that in the upcoming town of Childress TX there's a BBQ restaurant so I figure I'll check that out. As I arrive into town, I see it right away and it must be good because the parking lot is packed. With COVID-19 though, the last thing I want to do is to sit in a packed dining room so I pass it on. I'm glad I did because I spotted this J T's Drive-In, complete with outside dining on picnic tables. I flip a u-turn and pull in. This is the best photo I have that I extracted from my Spotwalla trip.

One of the best burger's I've ever had and amazing french fries. So much I couldn't eat it all though I wanted to. If you are passing through, I highly recommend it. Excellent service from the staff there, and they are popular with the locals because there were a LOT of drive through pick ups while I ate.

After that I'm on my way, one thing west Texas and New Mexico are good for is train spotting. Lots of trains. Last time I've been through this way there was a lot of maintenance going on and the trains weren't running but today I saw a lot of trains on the move.

I'd contemplated camping at Palo Duro Canyon, but it was closed for COVID-19 until right before my trip, and it would have added about an extra hour to each day of riding because of how you have to go through there, so I opted to stay at the Quality Inn for $50. The room was clean but the bed was far from quality, it was the worst mattress I've ever slept on. It felt like they removed all the padding and just re-skinned the springs and frame and let you sleep directly on them. Boot camp beds were more comfortable than this thing.


Day 2
June 24, 2020

I woke up early the next morning as I wanted to get a sunrise photograph at the Cadillac Ranch. I've been there before but not early enough to watch the sunrise. I did get there plenty early though.

However, photography plans are at the whim of mother nature and those clouds on the horizon decided to block my sunrise, but it was still nice enough.

I head back to the hotel, throw the bags on and start heading northwest.

I work my way through the northeast corner of New Mexico and before long I can see the mountains on the horizon and then I'm in Raton ready to head north on I-25 through Raton Pass. Usually I'll run up to Walsenburg on I25 but today I decided to turn at Trinidad and check out CO-12, the "Highway of Legends."

The first half of CO-12 was highly disappointing. Mediocre views, trashy towns, terrible road conditions, and a little bit of traffic. However, the second half was absolutely beautiful, great pavement and fun turns. I stopped at this lake to enjoy being in the mountains and to take in the view.

I finished up CO-12 in La Veta and had planned to take Co Rd 520 north to Badito as a shortcut to CO-69, however it was very much not paved and did not look like a good road for the FJR. I turned around and ran to Walsenburg and then caught 69 north.

As I approached Westcliff I found a small park that was ideal to have my picnic lunch at. There was a guy with a hammock there and we chatted a bit as he used to ride motorcycles and was originally from Dallas when he used to ride. This was my view as I ate my lunch, not bad huh?

I ran 69 north and caught Highway 50 back east to catch CO9 north. My goal was to catch Terryall Road north. It's supposed to be a very nice ride, not epic, but certainly better than riding up the very straight CO-9 all the way to Highway 285. Riding interesting roads over to Terryall road is a bit complicated so I had set up a route in my Garmin to get me there. I usually just use way-points instead of routes for this purpose but due to the complication of it, I thought I'd try a route instead. As I'm navigating some very nice roads I'm watching my fuel level and I realize I'm going to have to get gas before my camp site so I should start looking, because I'm not sure what is available near my campsite or after. Fortunately I did this because there was nothing near the campgrounds at all and I wouldn't have made it. I look up on Garmin and find the "Evergreen Station" near the town of Florissant about five miles away so I route there as a Via Point in Garmin. 

 I'd managed to miss most of the weather throughout the day really only getting some sprinkles and light rain. However, talking to the lady in the store, she said she had some motorcyclists take shelter during a storm the previous day. While they waited another guys showed up on a cruiser without a helmet. When he came in, his face and head were all bloody. Turns out he'd gotten caught in a hail storm. Check off another box for why to wear a helmet.

I left and started following directions again on the Garmin and next thing I know, I'm in Hartsel. Somehow, when I rerouted to the Evergreen Station, it recalculated my entire route and found it to be inefficient and I'd completely missed Terryall Road and was now back at C-O9. I was pretty exhausted and frustrated at this point so I chose not to double back and continue on. CO-9 and Highway 285 were as I expected, nice views, but super straight and full of slow moving cars and enough traffic to take away pretty much any passing opportunities. This reroute will play into events of the evening as I continue.

I turned up Guanella Pass Road and what magnificent pavement it had. The road wound it's way up in elevation lined with pine and aspen trees and a creek flowing along the left side of the road. It was a beautiful five miles to my campsite. Burning Bear Campground at over 9000' altitude.

You'd think I'd be in my happy place and all is right with the world, right? However, for some reason I got into a bit of a funk that turned into a bad mood. Then things started happening that pushed that bad mood even worse. Looking back, it's all a bit petty but when you are in the mood, it sucks. I had gotten into the funk shortly before the routing issue with Garmin. I got to the campsite and found the bags of ice had leaked all into my lunch cooler, which leaked into the side bag. My blue jeans I was supposed to wear since it would be cool that night were soaked with cold water. There was no firewood in the campground, you had to bring your own. The match light charcoal wouldn't light, so using my new bushcraft grill wasn't going to do anything to my steak. It was sprinkling and obviously had been for a while so all the leaves and sticks around were soaked. I tried to cook the steak over my jetboil on a pan I had but that had terrible results. I managed to get one crappy taco out of it all. I was too angry to heat up the can of soup I'd brought for backup and also because the skies opened up and started raining hard so I had to retreat to my tent. At this point I was tired, frustrated and depressed about my evening. I really needed at least one piece of good news and I was recalling my routing to get me to Red Lodge and was thinking and hoping that my third day would be a shorter one, but Garmin revealed it'd be 50 more miles than I'd ridden this day. My mood was so bad, usually when this happens I can get on the phone with my wife and she'll level set things, give me a pep talk and I'll be better but there's no cell service at the campground whatsoever. I briefly plan to just hit the highway back home the next day till I figure out how far that'll be. I laid down in my sleeping bag pissed off at about 8:30pm with it still being very light outside and listened to the rain.

Next thing I know it's midnight and cold. I'd fallen right asleep. Thanks to my sleeping bag and fleece sleeping bag liner I stayed quite warm all night and my Klyimt mattress kept me comfortable all night long.

Here's a shot of the beautiful campground I'd intended to enjoy but due to the rain, I mostly only saw the inside of my tent.


Day 3
June 25, 2020

I woke up and felt much better in the morning. My spirits were higher but my jeans were still just as wet as they were the night before. I packed up camp including stuffing a very wet tent into it's bag, which I'd have to do something about later if I didn't want mildew.

As I rolled out to finish my run over Guanella Pass, it was 41F, but my spirits were much improved from the previous day and I was happy to be on the road again.

It was cold and the roads were damp, but the sun was shining and I was enjoying having this road all to myself.

However, when I reached the summit, I was greeted with this.

Apparently Guanella pass is a popular hiking area, even during the week. The parking lots were full with folks parking on the street to get that early morning hike in. From here on out, there were lots of vehicles coming the other way as that's the easier way in coming from the Denver area.

Now, I've learned over my times in the mountains to never understimate a driver based on their vehicle. Especially, never underestimate a local who knows the roads and drives them daily and is in a hurry to get somewhere. I pulled over and let this 4Runner get by.

He was running hot, and wasn't afraid to let his tires howl through the corners. More importantly, quite a few of these corners had drivers cut the inside and the road was covered with gravel, of which he was definitely more confident to fly through than I was.

Guanella pass ends in Georgetown which I hopped on 70 for a little bit to catch Highway 40 north. I'd been on this road for a family trip once before and was looking forward to it. It's a nice climb with multi lane 15-25 mph U turns all the way up.

This runs up through Winter Park and into Granby, where we'd stayed before. I got a quick splash and go in Granby before turning north on CO-125.

I had intentions of staying at Denver Creek Campground on the way back, however it's first come first served, no reservations. That kind of winging it might work for others, but I'm the type that prefers to have a plan, and wandering around when I'm tired and frustrated because I didn't properly plan ahead and found my campground to be full, just doesn't work for me. So I'd planned on checking it out this morning and seeing how full it was on a weekday, since I'd be coming back on a weekday. Once again, Garmin failed me as that was a via point and it never showed it to me and I remembered it way after I'd passed, so my recon mission was failed.

Once past Rand colorado it gets pretty flat, but the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge is still quite scenic.

So, I've been pretty hard on Garmin in this report and not especially happy with it. It doesn't necessarily do the things along the way that I'd like it to do, but it DOES get me where I'm going pretty reliably. You might notice the phone in my photos and videos, well I was running a test using OSMAND on the phone for navigation. Somewhere around this area is where Garmin kicked OSMAND's butt. I looked down at my navigation devices, which had been in agreement for most of the way the past few days, but I noticed a dramatic disagreement between them. Garmin was telling me to turn left in 5 miles, while OSMAND said to turn right in 24 miles. That's interesting, I wonder where they are taking me that is so different, then I noticed something. Garmin had my estimated arrival time in Red Lodge as 5:20PM. OSMAND had my arrival time at 9:15PM. Right then and there I was thankful I was following my Garmin because who knows where OSMAND was taking me. This was pretty much a HUGE failure of the test and I didn't hardly look at the phone apps the rest of the trip.

I don't know what it is about Wyoming, but as I approached the border, the bugs became terrible. I stopped for this picture and had to get going again because I was being swarmed. Never been to Wyoming before, and this welcome was not what I'd expected.

I can't even begin to tell you how much video is ruined from my GoPro due to it being covered in bugs. Here's what my helmet looked like when I stopped for lunch at a Subway in Rawlins.

In fact, I'd clean my helmet at every gas stop and it'd look like that by the next one. Subway lunch was good, and I had cell service so I phoned the family while I had lunch, it was good to talk to them.

The whole area was pretty flat and kind of boring, but different from what I'm used to at home, so I was enjoying myself.

I turned north on 135 (Sand Draw Road) from 287 following Garmin. At some point I remember seeing a sign warning trucks about a steep slope in 11 miles. I squint and look ahead and its flat for as far as I can see. I think, that's interesting, but shrug my shoulders and continue on. The location they are talking about is the following google maps link about where it says "Wagon Bed Spring":,-108.1775874,2324m/data=!3m1!1e3

The Google street view doesn't do it justice and I wasn't running video at the time due to the flat boringness. However, the road makes a few turns climbing as it does, but not that dramatically. Now, the land to the west must be falling away faster than I am climbing because I pass a guardrail and I'm quite high up now. Another few turns and you see the road just fall away over the crest of the hill. It's a little unnerving because of all the turns, and there's no turn warning signs as you crest the hill. Once you can see over, the road just drops what looks at the time like straight down for miles. It was quite impressive and very out of place in this area. Soon enough, it was back to flat boringness.

I arrived in Riverton and turned toward Shoshoni. The last several miles into Shoshoni and across the Boysen Reservoir were some of the worst crosswinds I've ever experienced. I've ridden for hours across the pains of Texas with crosswinds so bad I had to slide over onto the side of the bike, but they were continuous cross winds. Annoying, but ridable. The area around the Boysen Reservoir was so turbulent that it kept blowing me this way and that. If I weren't wearing gloves I'd be able to see how white my knuckles were. I was pretty terrified at times.

I stopped in Shoshoni and a guy warned me that the canyon had awful winds that were blowing his truck all over the place. "Great" I think, more of that. I wondered if this was how the Wind River got it's name, but it wasn't bad when I was coming back. I don't know which situation is unusual. The ride from Shoshoni to the North and coming back across the north side of the Boysen Reservoir was just like earlier, and several times the wind tried to blow me into the path of oncoming trucks. Once in the canyon however it was quite nice.

I think it was Joey that told me the ride between Shoshoni and Thermopolis was amazing and I have to agree. Wind River Canyon was fantastic and I enjoyed it all.

The ride up to Greybull and Cody were pretty uneventful. Finally, I get a new state I've never been to, Montana!

Dear Montana, I thank you for not choosing to welcome me to your state as Wyoming did with the bug welcoming committee, but perhaps you could move the sign to the pullout and make it a little bigger please?

On my way from there to Red Lodge I stopped for some photos. The temperature was dropping and I could see rain on the horizon so I decided to put in the waterproof thermal layers into my Rev'It Tornado 3 suit.

I was glad I did because two miles later the rain started and three miles further the temperature had dropped almost 30 degrees.

I punched through that and rolled into Red Lodge. Seems like all of the FJR community was walking up the road into town for lunch and I got a lot of waves as I arrived.

I quickly phoned Josh and they were up in town waiting on a table, so I hurried down there and met up with the group. I had a fantastic pizza of which I ate half and ended up giving the other half to Craig who arrived late and didn't have time for dinner, so it all worked out well.

I laid my towel on the floor of the closet in my room and hung up my jeans and my tent to let them dry, then I went to bed and slept well on a comfortable mattress.


Day 4
June 26, 2020

I woke up happy and refreshed. I made coffee for the cabin and everyone started coming downstairs in a bit. Our group would be me, Josh, his daughter Kenzie, and Craig. Josh has been here before and offered to lead us over Beartooth Highway and though a "Quick" loop of Yellowstone. Big John had arranged for us to have some breakfast burritos supplied by a local restaurant so I heated one of those delicious burritos up and had it with my coffee. Great start to the morning.

We headed out and up Beartooth Highway and it far exceeded my expectations. I thought Colorado was the most beautiful place to ride but this is my new favorite. Josh led us on a spirited ride on some excellent pavement through the turns and scenic drive. It was amazing to see him and his daughter running two up carving the corners ahead of me. We pulled off at Rock Creek Vista for some photos.

I commented that only motorcyclists lean over a railing to take a picture of a road.

We hopped back on and road on up to the summit.

There was a big snow field to play in. Josh kept ribbing me about being from Texas and being inexperience with snow, but these two sure had a hard time walking in a couple inches of snow. Spoiler, I grew up in Vermont and also lived in Ohio for a year. :D

I had to lay down in the snow though. We were a couple of days from July, and how often does someone from Texas get to lay in the snow this late in the year?

Kenzie must have about a million photos stored in her icloud.

We pushed off from there, stopped in the gift shop on the way down the back side where I got a Beartooth sticker for my top box. As we came down, Josh pulled us over to get some photos of the waterfall along the way.

Craig parked opposite us and I had to get a photo of him.

The waterfall was pretty amazing.

Josh and Kenzie see rocks and water, and they must go scramble on them.

I spent a good while trying to get this photograph for them with a good splash of the water behind them. Each time, they'd get doused with water. I might or might not have gotten the good shot a while before I let them know I got it. ;)

Then I yelled out "Do a Joey!" and they needed no further instructions and immediately did this. (Joey is in the FJR community and loves to do this pose in front of every waterfall he encounters.)

Craig and I opted for photos from the bridge.

Still not sure what these two were doing.

We stopped for lunch in Cooke City at I think the Bistro Cafe. We chatted with the owners and it was sad to hear that COVID-19 was really threatening the area. They'd had to lay off their two workers and were struggling to keep the place open just the husband and the wife running the cafe with less than 30% of their usual business. I opted for a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with french fries. Lunch was good and got us energized to head into Yellowstone.

Happily, I was able to be the second bike in on Craig's National Parks Pass so entry for me was free. Now, I'll say this about Yellowstone. If you were to drop someone into Yellowstone they'd think it was the most beautiful place ever, but having experienced Beartooth that morning, it was beautiful, but it was definitely a step down. I'll also say that I was frustrated with the traffic, and considering the park was only about 30% full, I can say I'd never come back on a motorcycle again, especially when the park is at capacity. If I had a nice big comfy SUV that I could cruise in and chat with my family and enjoy it along the way, it'd be different, but on a motorcycle, hell no.

That said, I did enjoy myself. Kenzie had been talking earlier about wanting to see wildlife and quite soon into the park we saw a juvenile bear on the side of the road. A short time later we saw a herd of bison.

Then another herd, then some other animals and another bear. Needless to say Kenzie got her share of wildlife sightings in.

The scenery was amazing still.

I'd gotten into the rhythm of Josh's passing maneuvers of slow moving cars in the park. We were coming up on a left hand turn that went up a long hill and there was plenty of clearance to get around the vehicle in front of him. I lined up waiting for Josh to make his move. Well, Josh looked down and realized the right turn we need to make was, oh, RIGHT THERE! He nailed the brakes and dove off the road to the right coming right across the nose of my bike. I had no time to process what he was doing and make the turn though so I had no choice to continue on. Craig was a bit behind me and got a good view of this. I finally got turned around and caught up to them. Craig and Josh were talking on their headsets and Josh had Craig wave me to the front. Josh looked over at me and was pleading "I'M SOOOO SORRY!" to which I have him the finger, laughed and went back to my place in line.

One of the things that really stuck out to me that day though was Yellowstone Lake. I'm not a boater or a fisherman, but I really wanted to grab a boat and go spend a relaxing afternoon fishing on this lake. It was quite spectacular.

We headed down to Cody. By the time we arrived, my F had been flashing on my fuel guage for while and I was dying of thirst. I was really regretting not bringing my camelbak. We finally stopped for gas and I guzzled down a Gatorade. We then headed into town to do some souvenir shopping and, Joey would be happy, we stopped for ice cream.

From Cody, we had the option of the boring way back to Red Lodge, which I'd ridden the night before, or Chief Joseph Highway. I was pretty tired and ready for the boring short way, but was intrigued by what I'd heard of Chief Joseph Highway. I was glad we didn't ride the boring way.

Now, the time of day made our spirited ride interesting as we were constantly turning into the setting sun. I couldn't get any video this evening as it would be all washed out and the glare on the face shields made for interesting riding, but we had a good time regardless.

After that run, we stopped for a breather before turning to run back over Beartooth Highway one more time. Kenzie has a good eye for photography because she noticed how our bikes were lined up with Beartooth mountain and the setting sun. I grabbed my camera but had left it on and the battery was dead so had to resort to my phone. I think we all ended up with our own version of this photo.

We started off at a spirited pace over Beartooth but somewhere past the summit I was starting to feel gassed and started making mistakes in my riding. I finally waved Craig through and figured I'd slow it way down and just meet them at the lodge, I could find my way from here. Craig and Josh discussed it over the intercoms and agreed with my decision and turned down the pace and we all moseyed back to the lodge.


Day 5
June 27, 2020

This day we talked about what we wanted to do and came up to some very different conclusions. Josh and Kenzie wanted to go back to Yellowstone and get off the bike a bit and see the sights. I'd seen enough of Yellowstone on the motorcycle and wanted kind of an easy sightseeing day. Craig had been on his bike riding around the country for the past three weeks and wanted a rest day and needed to work on his new trailer hitch for his motorcycle before heading home. He also was planning a BBG Gold the following day (1500 miles in 24 hours) to get home so he wanted to rest. Thus, we'd each be on our own today. Probably good for the whole "Social Distancing" thing anyway.

Before I headed out though, Craig was talking about some place he'd had breakfast at the day before and wanted to go back. Breakfast sounded good to me. He couldn't remember the name of the place or exactly where it was so we went up and down main street in Red Lodge looking for it. Eventually we stopped at a donut shop and went in to inquire about it. Between the lady at the shop, Craig and another customer, we figured it out. However, as we turned to leave, the customer said "But if you want the best breakfast in town, it's not on main street. He gave us directions to the "Cafe Regis."

We arrived and asked about a table and I looked out the back doors and made the command decision that we were eating outside.

The waitress pointed out that many of the ingredients for the menu come from their garden, including the rhubarb that was harvested that morning for the strawberry rhubarb pancakes that Craig got.

I opted for a more traditional breakfast. Yes, the bacon was as good as it looked.

The waitress brought the bill to which Craig snatched it insisting on paying for my breakfast. This place was super nice and the food was fantastic, and apparently the bill reflected that. I thought Craig was going to choke, and I offered to pay for my own breakfast but he wouldn't hear of it and insisted to pay and wouldn't give me the bill. Thanks Craig, I did very much enjoy it.

I headed off on my own after breakfast to get some video and photos that I hadn't been able to get the day before. I stopped to set up my selfie stick and realized I left my memory cards sitting on the bed stand. I rode about 10 miles back to the lodge and got them, and noticed I'd also stupidly left behind my camelbak. Remember how thirsty I was yesterday?

I got back and got some good onboard footage with the camera mounted to the nose of the FJR and a good selfie stick run, the way that Itchy Boots gets hers.

Once again I took advantage of Kenzie's eye for photography and totally ripped this shot off from her and Josh. I'd seen their version and was jealous so I took my own up by the summit.

In the process I was playing with my Mini Tripod and the $7 remote I got for my camera off of ebay.

A few turns later I saw a guy scrambling down off some rocks so I immediately pulled over, not realizing there was about a six inch drop off from the pavement followed by undulating dirt. I kept the bike upright though.

As I walked up the guy coming down told me that the view was definitely worth it. He was right.

While up there, this guy came out. He kept his distance but was very curious as I guess he'd never seen a human with a giant yellow head.

Today I wanted to get some shots for the Calendar Contest at FJRiders, and I really wanted one of this view with this turn.

I'm not a great photographer but I could see that I needed to get the whole turn in the shot, and to do so, I could do one of two things. Either back up a little bit, or use a wider angle lens. Backing up wouldn't get the shot because I'd be dead at the bottom of the ravine behind me. So I ran down and got my GoPro, and used it.

That's super wide but I like it.

I also took a selfie that I really liked.

She got a big butt but I think she's sexy so I keep taking pictures of her.

I stopped off and played with the tripod, timer and remote some more.

Then I started a run down Chief Joseph Highway, stopping to read placards and learn some history. Beautiful ride, and it's amazing how the scenery changes in such short distances.

Took me a little hike

Fun little racetrack to get up here. Afterwards I felt a little bad that I was having fun where many ran for their lives. Lots of history down there.

I ran back to Red Lodge the boring way. A bit later Josh and Kenzie showed up and a bunch of us went across the street to eat some burgers outside on picnic tables at the "Red Box Car." I also had a malt from there and it was quite good.

That evening the usual parking lot antics went on with some social distancing thrown in for good measure. Again, I slept well in the bed through the night.


Day 6
June 28, 2020

You might recall that I'd planned on camping my way back to Dallas over three days. I had a reservation in New Mexico and had researched a few places to stay. The previous night I did some mapping and came to a new plan. I'd blast home as quick as possible for me, and have a day to recoup before going back to work, and I could spend it playing video games and watching movies with my kiddo that I hadn't seen in a week. I cancelled my reservation at the camp grounds, thanks to fees I got back $10 of my $30 that it cost me. Halfway was the Best Western in Walsenburg that I've stayed at many times and like because the back rooms open onto the parking lot allowing you to keep an eye on your bike and make loading and unloading easy.

I woke up early and it was raining just as the weather service had predicted. I loaded up, suited up and got on the road. It only took about 30 minutes for me to punch out of the rain headed east. I hear the same was not to be said for those heading other directions.

I had a pleasant ride through Wind River Canyon and no heavy winds around the reservoir. I stopped for gas and caffeine in Shoshoni and an old lady came over to talk to me about my bike. She and her husband used to ride his Goldwing around all over the place, but they are too old to ride now. She asked me if I wanted to buy an old Goldwing and I had to politely decline and let her know that I lived in Dallas.

From Shoshoni I was taking different roads home, instead of cutting back west and south I was headed more east this time. I caught I-25 in Casper and enjoyed some mindless riding being able to cruise, and to ride for as long as possible without worrying about gas because there's gas at every exit every few miles along the interstate. I was feeling really good and had until I think 4PM to cancel my hotel reservation if I wanted to push on further and make the last day a little shorter. However, after a detour through Denver and dealing with traffic all the way through Colorado Springs I decided that calling it a day in Walsenburg was the right choice. Oddly, the Taco Bell next door is one of the few you can't order online so I had to actually go in the restaurant to order.

I talked to my family on the phone, then turned the TV on and had to laugh. It was tuned to Shawshank Redemption. I don't think I've ever seen the whole movie because I always seem to catch it at the part where he starts doign taxes for the guards, which is right where it was on the TV.

Early bedtime for me, and I slept well.


Day 7
June 29, 2020

A pretty uneventful day. I got up early, put in the miles, suffered through many hours of temperatures over a hundred degrees fahrenheit, and made it home in time for dinner.

7 days
5 states, two of them new
3,421 miles