C2C Ride: Some numbers July 31, 2009Posted by dakotabiker in Rides.
Tags: ABCs of Touring, biker, Coast to Coast, Harley, Las Vegas, motorcycle, Ribeye, Rides
Trip wrap-up is still in the works… but here are a few numbers for those of you who like such things…
Between the two loops I had travelled 10,553 miles bringing my odometer to 44,531.
3200 miles was to attend the LRO/LCROSS launch, but a breakdown in Florida forced a ride extension to make a meeting in Huntsville, AL that I could no longer fly to. The Florida loop marks my southern-most excursion on the bike in Sebastian, Florida at a latitude of N27 °49.1491′.
7,353 miles was the loop to California. This loop marks my northern-most point in Boardman, Oregon at latitude N45° 50.4500′ and my farthest west point in Wolf Creek, Oregon at longitude W123° 23.6230′.
I was on the road a total of 47 days: 21 on the Florida loop (much of which working LRO/LCROSS while in Florida), and 26 days on the California loop (including a short-week family reunion in wine country). I had a total of 4 days at home between the two trips, so while my C2C Blog day count is only for the California vacation portion, I tend to count both loops as I single trip for totals.
During the combined trip I was in 2 countries, 35 states, and 1 province. and traveled the coasts of 2 oceans. I accumlated 62 ABC points (14 on the FL loop, 48 on the CA loop) bring my current 2009 total to 90 points (which gets all the free stuff but a big margin, but is no where close to winning the awards for the top 3 + 10 runners up).
I had 2 breakdowns significant enough to warrant a trailer (both on the Florida loop), and made a total of 5 service stops including:
- 35,000 mile service (FL)
- Fuel pump replacement (FL #2)
- Battery replacement (AL)
- Taillight terminal board replacement (SD)
- Tire replacement (SD)
- 38,000 mile (interim optional) service (SD)
- 40,000 service including fork oil replacement (CA)
- Jiffystand realignment (CA)
- Fuel check valve replacement (CA)
And am now due for 45,000 service shortly.
I stayed in 26 hotels/motels/resorts, 1 campground, and 2 homes of relatives for 30 different waking up locations over 51 days (including home).
I won a total of $191 dollars and three $15 dollar bar tabs in four sessions of gambling, and had my room comp’d in Vegas.
I had three (official) interactions with three law enforcement officers resulting in one warning for speeding, one verbal notice of my taillight being out, and one citation for speeding.
I experienced two bouts of heat exhaustion (curiously coincident with the speeding violations), and saw the highest temperature in which I had ridden, 115°F.
I had four paid admissions to National Parks and Monuments, and countless free-access rides to many more National forest, preserve, nature, and historical areas.
I traveled by motorcycle, ferry, train (the Wine Train), and bus (when the Wine Train broke down). I went to four museums.
I ate 5 ribeyes, and an embarrassing amount of fast food. I discovered a penchant for Red Bull.
I only lost one shirt, and bought 6. I shipped to myself a total of 4 times (twice on the Florida loop to accommodate the volume of work-related luggage, and twice on the CA loop to unfetter myself of purchases and unused camping gear).
Cost? I probably won’t even try to figure out how much I spent.
Up next… the Wrap Up.
C2C Day 19: Zion July 20, 2009Posted by dakotabiker in Rides.
Tags: ABCs of Touring, biker, Coast to Coast, Harley, Las Vegas, motorcycle, Rides, Utah, Zion
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Another spectacular ride today from Las Vegas to Kanab, Utah. I am holed up in the biker-friendly Treasure Trail Motel with a great wifi connection (relative to most of my experience this trip), newly washed clothes, and time to relax, blog, and plan.
True to my late decision last night, my body woke me up 5 minutes before the 3am alarm. Of course my Vegas hotel did not have coffee in the room, presumably so I’d be forced down to the casino faster. It took time, a lot of water, and a shower to finally get me going. I packed up my gear and headed down to check out, glad (but not surprised) to have my room comp’d after yesterday’s marathon o’gambling.
Walking out to the bike at 4:20 am, the heat was already oppressive. It had apparently rained not long before, so the humidity was up as well. I had parked the bike in the employee’s level of the valet garage (a special priviledge offered to their motorcycling patrons given the rash of Harley thefts of late). I was relieved to see mine still there.
The bellman was volunteering motorcycle movie recommendations as I packed the bike, and went so far as to xerox the cover of the movie he was watching that morning (a Tarantino film called Hell Ride). After getting directions to the nearest gas station, I headed out onto the streets of Vegas. I had been to Vegas many times before, but almost always travelled by cab or limo, and mostly just up and down the strip, so I had never really seen the side streets of Sin City until now. Interestingly diverse olio of businesses…
It was still a bit before sunrise when I got myself back on I-15 heading north. As dawn broke, I could see the sunlight just illuminating the tops of distant storm clouds. To my right, an active storm system (probably the one that left Vegas in a muggy morning state) was giving a lightning show in the pre-dawn glow. The alien landscape, flat desert with not too distant mountians, lay on either side of me as I sped along. It was getting to be full light as I approached the tiny town of Glendale on the far side of the Moapa River Indian Reservation. I stopped for a coffee and to ditch my reflective vest. The gas station convenience store looked like a converted double-wide, but had the basics. Coffee was free if you brought your own cup. I paid $1.14 for the cup.
Moving on, I started passing the border casinos/resorts assuming their main customers to be folks from Arizona or Utah who wanted to drive as little as possible to gamble, or those who decide they want just one more night after leaving Vegas.
I-15 just nips the northwest corner of Arizona running northeast, so I was able to get my ABC pics for Arizona and Utah in short fashion (though under the worst illumination, shooting straight into the rising sun). The little jaunt through Arizona was really beautiful. I-15 winds through the narrows of the Virgin River and though Sullivan Canyon in the Paiute Primative Area. The stark canyon rock under the low angle illumination of the morning sun was breathtaking. The sheer faces and dropping ravines run so close to the interstate that you really feel the sense of being cacooned within the canyon, like walking through a maze.
After a quick stop in Saint George, I got off I-15 onto SR-9 which took me through several resort towns en route to Zion National Park. The landscape kept getting better and better. I really wanted to pull over and spend some time in these little towns, but didn’t know what to expect for heat in my upcoming ride, and wanted to make Kanab early. I did pull over in Springdale for gas. I didn’t really need to, but really wanted to get a picture of the peaks lining the west side of the town, and ditch my jacket. It was really tempting to spend more time there with all the lapidary shops and tourist traps.
At the park entrance, I again uttered my regret at not buying an annual pass for the national parks, paid my $12 and rolled in. The Vistors Center is right near the west entrance and was my first stop to collect my National Parks Passport stamp. Parking was quite full; the park is a mecca for hikers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts. I was amazed by the diversity and proximity of the wild life just walking from my bike to the visitors center building. In the parking lot, I passed a young deer nibbling on a sapling; I walked past him (her?) as close as your eyes are to this screen right now. He just looked at me with the sapling branch sticking out of the side of his mouth chewing away as if he were hoping I had food, but assuming that I didn’t. Riding out after getting my passport stamp, I was stopped by a ground squirrel who really seemed intent to go the way I was blocking. He fidgeted a couple of feet in front of my bike, then finally gave up and headed for the long grass beside the lot.
Getting back out onto the road, I remembered my Yellowstone experience with slow-moving RVs and tourists, and set my “mood switch” to “patient” in advance. However, the scenery was so beautiful, so magnificently stark and diverse, so close to the winding road, that I found myself going 5 mph under the 35 mph speed limit just to take it all in. One of the things that really sets Zion apart from my other park rides is the intimacy. The road runs through the canyon and very close to the steep faces. From that vantage point even the same face of rock or towering cliff becomes a different entity with new character and composition every few seconds. That is one thing I love about mountains: how they change with every different view; and here at Zion that is a continuous flow. After seeing the enhancement of so many places, I continue to be so struck how the landscape can be so beautiful in ways that I hadn’t seen or imagined.
In the middle of the park is a narrow tunnel cut into the rock. Completed in 1930, that tunnel is 1.1 miles long and unlit. That was cool stretch of road (literally and figuratively), with the low rumble of the Harley resonating off the surrounding rock as I idled along. Periodically, the tunnel was cut out to the side of the mountain, providing blinding flashes of scenic views as I rode throught the darkness.
Leaving the stunning vistas of the park, the highway continued through wonderfully rugged mountian countryside on to Kanab. I had made really good time with my early start, arriving near noon despite my casual pace, and half thought to just press on to Mexican Hat, Utah. But as I rode up and down the streets of Kanab, I felt the temperatures were getting much warmer and I don’t really know what the afternoon climate will be like dripping south into Arizona en route to Mexican Hat (and I do NOT want a third bout of heat exhaustion). Besides, I had laundry, sleeping, and blogging to get caught up on.
Outside the wind has been picking up and thunder has been clapping for the last couple of hours. It is now raining pretty steadily (I covered the bike at the first sprinkles). I was hoping to hop on the bike to check out the only bar near town a little ways down US-89A, but this weather has me reticent to even venture a block down the main street to see what that offers. I wonder if they have pizza delivery here in Kanab…
(UPDATE: They don’t.)
Vegas Decision July 20, 2009Posted by dakotabiker in MegaTweet, Rides.
Tags: Coast to Coast, Las Vegas, Rides
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All things considered – I think I am going to press on to Utah in the early morning targeting only 208 miles to Kanab. Am too tired right now to enjoy Vegas, and the early start would obliterate tomorrow’s night life. I don’t have proper “Vegas clothes” with me anyway. Besides, I am on a ride, not a junket. And the early arrival into Kanab will give me opportunity to further catch up on the blog.
Have finished gambling $91 up, which is an awful lot of work for such a small net movement. Was down as far as $850 and up as far as $200, so I suppose that is all good. (Hoped to have blogged about winning thousands – but hey)
Good night all.
C2C Day 18: Viva Las Vegas July 19, 2009Posted by dakotabiker in Rides.
Tags: ABCs of Touring, biker, casino, Coast to Coast, Harley, Las Vegas, motorcycle, Nevada, Rides, Sahara
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I woke in Boron at 2:30am an hour before my alarm. Still feeling a bit dehydrated despite the copius quaffs of water the evening before. I ditzed around the room longer than I hoped, checking the weather on the TV and laptop, and comparing trip options (continuing along the south route despite the bad heat experience versus kicking back up north to get home).
I finally got my act together and packed the bike under a truly awe-inspiring desert night sky. The moon was showing a thin but healthy cresent with the earth’s albedo illuminating the rest of it, creating that other-worldly look in the sky which happens when things line up just right. To the right of the moon, Venus was shining very brightly. There was the slightest glow on the horizon where the sun would later be dawning.
The air was still and warm, but on the bike it was pleasantly chilly, and very comfortable in the jacket. I headed out of Boron toward Barstow (my failed destination from yesterday). I stopped to top off the tank, and was surprised how big Barstow was. On one hand I’d have had more to “do” had I made it there, but I much more preferred the package of experiences from the day before in Boron to anything I may have done in Barstow.
From Barstow it was an uneventful shot of I-15 to Las Vegas. Still stinging with the angst of the prior day’s speeding ticket, I was reticent to break the limit by much, and was getting irked every time I was passed. Every so often I would drift in behind a speed demon using him as cop-bait to make some time, but would settle back into the driving lane at a 70 mph “crawl”. There was a stream of traffic coming the other direction, presumably the throng of gamblers heading home from their Vegas weekend. (Room rates drop like a rock from Saturday to Sunday night.)
I found the Sahara with no problems (just off of the Sahara Ave exit… What are the odds? – excuse the combined pun/sarcasm). I unloaded, parked, and tried to check in; but check-in was still hours off, so I left my gear with the bellman, and hit the casino.
My first stop, the Sahara Club to get a new membership card printed. When I was last at the Sahara, I had over $1000 of spendable credits, but found this out my last night there with not opportunity to spend. Unfortunately, all those points expired before I was able to come back. (One great pit boss, Linda, later looked into getting that all back. But since the Casino was actually sold since I was there last, the new owners permanently zeroed out anyone who didn’t show up within 6 months of the new ownership. …Nice to be told – eh?)
My second stop was at the cashier to see if my line of credit was still good… nope. And it would take until three days after I planned to leave to get it reinstated. Long story short — I didn’t have a lot of cash on me. Credit card advances have exorbitant fees, which I paid and headed for the craps table…
I stay at the Sahara for 2 main reasons:
- $5 craps with 5X odds. While most of the other strip casinos are $15 with 2X, 3X, 4X. The ONLY way to make craps a “fairer” game, is to make the odds bets for as much as you can afford or the table will allow. The odds bets are the ONLY bets on the table that pay off at the true odds of the roll (no house advantage – they get that on your Pass/Don’t bets which are required to make the odds bet. I did say “fairer” not “fair”) So… you want to minimize your Pass and Come bets while maximizing your odds bets. The Sahara has the best ratio for this while keeping the minimum bet low enough that smaller bankrolls are needed.
- Blackjack (at least on multideck) still pays off at 3:2. I noticed a few years ago that most of the casinos on the strip are now only paying 6:5 on blackjack, which gives the house (in my opinion) an unscrupulous advantage. The house edge at the Sahara is about 0.6% while at most every other casino on the strip it is upward of 2%! (worse because many of those other guys add more edge- boosting rules like no re-splits, or limiting the hands on which you can double down). I don’t understand how they get away with it (uninformed clientele and cool theme decor I guess). The Sahara is the only place on the strip that I know of with a reasonably fair blackjack game.
The remainder of the day was a lot of work (at blackjack and craps) with a couple of “breaks” (Texas Hold’em Tournaments) interspersed in between. My bankroll throughout the day saw a lot of oscillation, starting at a large craps loss, and spending most of the day there. I played a morning poker tourney to break of the time and was eliminated pretty quickly (but not first!). I finally got to check into my room for a quick shower, and I returned to the casino.
Craps was pretty cold except for one shooter that just had the touch. I had a very nice run of about $500 betting the Come with full odds with that shooter. But every other shooter was cold. When he left, so did half the table. A late afternoon push with a great dealer at the blackjack tables brought me back to being even, and then up about $200 (after fees and tips). I really wanted to leave better than that, but was really getting tired.
I instead opted to play in a another poker tournament figuring that since my fatigue may have paid off in poker in Cody, maybe it would here too (and you don’t lose more than your buy in playing in a Tourney where $45 gets you $4000 in tourney chips). The cards didn’t pan out though, and I was pulled by two good hands into large betting rounds against better hands which was pretty devastating for my stack. I managed to win a couple of decent pots, but it was not enough to sustain, and I was eliminated pretty early.
Back at the blackjack table, I tried to parlay my winnings into more, but the cards were cold, my favorite dealer had left, my favorite pit boss had left, and I was tired. So I called it a night up a total Vegas net of a whopping $91. (Yeah, I know I was stoked by the $100 poker win in Cody, but this is a matter of scaled expectations.)
I headed back up to the room, and faced a tough quandry. The age old question, should I stay one more night or should I go? And if I were to go, I’d need to get to sleep immediately to wake early enough to avoid the desert heat.
Reasons to stay…
- Haven’t done anything other “Vegas” stuff (dinner, shows, clubs)
- Haven’t won nearly as much as I targetted.
- Good to have another “rest” day
- Already paid for 24h of internet pretty late in the date.
Reasons to go…
- I’m on a ride, not a junket.
- Too tired to go out anyway.
- Made a great recovery from being way down (and that’s entertainment)
- Home a day sooner.
I deliberated quite a while, polled my Tweeps for advice, and finally decided to get to sleep for an early ride to Utah.