Gila Mtns.

Gila Mtns.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Beartooth Pass - Cooke City - Ready...Aim...Don't Fire

We decided to take a little trip a few weekends ago. We've been over the Beartooth Pass hundreds of times, but never on the sidecar. Ended up a perfect weekend for the ride. We decided to forgo camping this time, instead reserving a cabin in Cooke City MT. We used to camp at Soda Butte Campground in the past but a few years ago a tent camper was killed / consumed by a Grizzly Bear at the more tent camping allowed.
We arrived in Red Lodge MT. just in time for the "Festival of Nations" Parade. We became part of the parade for a few minutes.

                                          (left click on photos to enlarge)

MT. Highway 212 was in pretty good shape, some new sections. LOTS of bikes on the road .

We stopped for a minute at the Vista Point overlook for a few minutes. Talked with some other riders. The sidecar always brings out folks curiosities.

One of the lakes near the summit....I've seen people fishing in some of them over the years. Unfortunately some tourists don't realize most of these small clear lakes freeze solid in the Winter so no fish inhabit them.

The lower lake in the photo is "Beartooth Lake"...lots of fish there.

Darian at Beartooth Lake. A couple on a Harley stopped to visit for a while.

They lived in the virgin Islands....had their bike stored in Michigan or somewhere. He turned 100,000 miles on the Harley the day before.

Fat (or pregnant?) rodent looking for handouts....

Pilot / Index Peaks "peeking" over the horizon.

Waterfall.....Darian got the Airhead Flag in there too....Good Job!

Dropping down into the valley.

Cooke City Traffic Control.....they were having a street dance so simply threw up two of these signs and took over Highway 212....a local cowboy, dressed in in had, was the traffic "flagman"...

Music went on til all hours of the night.

The next morning we headed over to the Chief Joseph / Sunlight Basin Highway for our return trip home.

A wonderful route!

I always keep my eyes on the road. I thought I saw a gun on the pavement shoulder in a "blind" corner....did a u-turn and returned and sure enough there was a Ruger .380 was laying on the road, the detached / loaded clip a few feet away. Being a blind corner I snatched the gun up (first making sure the chamber was clear) and got down the road. At our next stop I looked it over. Minor "road rash" but nothing serious. Many bikes on the road so it likely fell from someones jacket pocket.(?)

    My "new" Ruger .380...for a few hours anyway....:

My initial thought...."I got a new gun", never being in the position before....... But then I got to thinking....what if the weapon was stolen....what if it was used in a crime.....what if the owner reports it stolen.....what if...what if...
I'm used to finding tools, misc. other items on the road, but a gun?....that is a totally different thing.
We weren't going into Cody, where the Park County Law Enforcement is located, and of course never saw a cop on the road. I took the gun home with me. Company Business took me back into Wyoming the next day, so I called the Park County Sheriffs Office and turned the gun over to them in Cody Wyoming. Today I received an e-mail from the Sheriff and the rightful owner reported the weapon as lost, and he picked it up at the Sheriffs Office. Hopefully he will be a bit more careful in the future with his gun. (I'm sure he will!)

I have had thoughts about finding something like this in the past, but in reality, finding / keeping a weapon is a violation....and likely a Felony. I've made it to nearly 60 years old without "going astray" with the law...not gonna start

We made it home safe and sound and really enjoyed the 260 mile ride. I went over the same route a few weeks ago on the solo R75/5. I never grow tired of this ride!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hacks at the Billings MT. MOA Rally

Wandered around a few times and photographed a few of the Rigs / other bikes present.


"Boxer Metal" tank badge.


Thought there was a dead animal in the chair...guess I was right....







Not a "Hack" but interesting.....Matt Parkhouse's "Eco Friendly" Electric Toaster


I seem to run across this Rig / Rider every couple of years around the Western US


Obviously a "pooch" hauler....


Kayaking anyone?


My rig:



a small fraction of the bikes in attendance:


This R80ST Was very nice.


Another clean solo bike which caught my attention


and another:


Michelin sold a lot of rubber.


Grass camping space was at a premium & crowded...this area was right along a major road...had to be noisy. I think a lot of folks were in motels. Final attendance was around 6000 I heard.


I returned for the closing ceremonies hoping to win a door prize or something....of course I left empty handed. There were a lot of European Bike Touring prizes.....when you think about it, I would likely pass....."Air Fare Not Included".....Prize for one person...would end up costing thousands out of pocket for your "Prize"...

Sunday, May 10, 2015


Happy Mothers Day.....a I am a lucky man, blessed to have such a Wife and best friend.

Not so happy day....she don't like rid'in in snowstorms too much....

More at home in the desert.....

And she loves the ocean....

And the mountains...

After riding her own Airhead for many years she is now happiest reclining in the sidecar with a good book.

I think she is pretty "hot" with her "fuchsia" colored Toaster back in the day.

I Love her more than I can say.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Death Valley Airheads Rally - 2015

 We had prepared for a 5 day road trip to / from Death Valley which turned into 7 days.  The weather was absolutely perfect for the entire week. Leaving Yuma Wed. AM we did have a bit of wind...and blowing sand while passing through the nearby dunes. Darian tried to capture the sand blowing across the road as we passed through but the photos didn't do it justice.
                    (left click on photos to enlarge)
 Due to the wind starting out the day, we decided to bypass the Glamis Dunes Route and ran up some miles on I-8 which goes through Holtville CA. That also delivered us to Calipatria CA. and our favorite Mexican Bakery / Taco Shop for lunch.

Traveling around the east side of the Salton Sea, we crossed through the "Box Canyon" Road north to Joshua Tree Nat. Park.

We had never traveled into the Western portion of the Park, opting to always take the direct "North / South" route for the sake of travel time. This time we decided to explore the western section. We drove into our past favorite camp spot, "White Tank", but most all the camp sites were taken. The only one we saw available was sandwiched in between two occupied sites. We decided to travel on towards "Jumbo Rocks" Campground.
Approaching "Jumbo Rocks" you pass the "Skull Rock", which "peeks" out at you as you pass..
We found a very nice secluded site with a fire ring/barbeque and table.
We had a very nice sunset. Took a walk through the entire campground. Lots of large RV sites further in. There weren't too many unoccupied sites. We carried 2 different tents with us, since we had plenty of room. One is the small Eureka and the other is a massive Eureka. After one night in the crowded small tent, the larger tent will be used from here on out. I wanted to have the small tent along in case we ran into high wind situations.

The campsite was rather loud during the night. Someone kept opening / slamming a van door throughout the night. Didn't really bother me but did wake me up a number of times in the night. 
 We had our required morning coffee prior to heading out in the AM. We ran through the Park, exiting at the town of Joshua Tree.

 There are some climbers on this big rock....
 This was our first ride through this section of the Park.
 A small Moon crescent in the upper edge of this photo.
We stopped at 29 Palms for a Macdonalds breakfast and fuel. Heading from there to Amboy and the old Route 66.....  Kelso and then to Baker CA.

The old train station at Kelso was once again active. The cafe was closed last year when we went through. 
Much of the road from Kelso to Baker was in pretty rough shape. Plugging along at 55 mph gave me plenty of time to dodge the largest protruding rocks and pot holes. 

 The old "Worlds Tallest Thermometer" has been renovated and is back to working condition after a few years of deterioration.
We pulled into Tecopa Hot Springs at a fairly early hour. Set up camp right near the Hot Springs and enjoyed the mineral pools. No photos from there....
 The next morning we headed to Shoshone CA. and had breakfast at the one and only cafe in the town. Slow service but great food....besides, we were not in any hurry. Leaving Shoshone we took the "Bad Water Road" into Death Valley. A somewhat longer route but much more scenic than the Armagosa Junction entrance.
 Down and down and down we go......
 The temperature increased every few miles as we dropped down in elevation. Death Valley in the distance.....


We made numerous stops along the route.

You can see the run-off / silt deposits below which come off the mountain.

Stopped at "Badwater" to look at the view. As usual, had a couple folks stop and visit about the sidecar.

We arrived at Furnace Creek in the early afternoon. The Park Entrance Fee must be paid at the main Park Service Visitor Center to gain access into the campground.

 There was already a pretty large contingent of "Airheads"  present we we arrived.

Also our favorite "vending chefs" were present. Kevin Kempton and Kelly Pixton made fantastic meals for a modest fee.

An interesting restoration on an "Earls Fork" model BMW:

"Home" for the next few days:
 We've attended the Death Valley Rally at least 10 times over the years. If there is a chance of rain, one needs to be diligent and pick a tent site on "high" "high", I mean a spot a foot or two higher than the area we were set up in. We've witnessed water running through tents set up on "low" ground during a rain event. Since no rain was in the forecast, we weren't concerned much about elevation.

We typically just hang around the campsite during the rally, but since the weather was so beautiful, we decided to ride over to visit "Scotty's Castle". I "dropped" the trailer in our parking spot.
The views along the route are wonderful:

 We stopped at a Ranger Station along the way...

 We had never stopped at the "Castle" before, although we've passed it a couple of times. They offer tours through the place but we opted not to join the crowds and did our own tour. Dozens of people were lined up waiting for the scheduled tours. +80*  outside and nice!

This photo shows an area which would have been full of water, which in turn powered the generating plant for electricity back in the day. There are windows in the sides of the structure so the underwater scenes could be viewed.

The Clock Tower:

Nice little "Oasis" in the desert.

We made a loop tour over to Beatty NV...quite a few remote miles of desert terrain and minimal traffic.

Our friend John. hauled out his authentic WW2 Era (1941) BMW R-12 . He took it for a few rides around the area. I love this bike!

The machine is mostly original and has some "Wermacht" stampings in the castings. Many civilian machines were requisitioned for military use  by the German Govt. during the war. Eventually all production from all companies went to the military.

"Tool Box" access under the round plate....would make for some "hot" tools!

Some friends hauled supplies out to the Rally in a pickup...we decided to do a "4 wheeler" afternoon in the truck.

Good friends....good times....

We drove a few of the easily accessed scenic dirt tracks in the Park....lots of different colors from mineral deposits evident.

"Dantes View"

Back to the camp in time for dinner and a nice sunset... We hung around the fire ring for a few hours and visited with old friends and made some "new" friends. "Back in the day" I would definitely intake my fair share of "adult beverages"....not so much

 The final day at the Rally, I spied this sidecar which had come in.

 Seeing the "logo" on the back, I was aware I had talked with this guy via the Internet over the years. He owns / operates a sidecar building / import business out of Bejing China.

By chance he had moved his family to Nevada a couple years ago.  He and I had a short visit and he passed a business card to me.

 Photos from the trip end here....only narrative of our "troubles" from here on

The following day was time to head South to AZ. We planned on a stop outside of Henderson NV. at a little truck stop / casino which we had some promotional "free rooms" available. That made our day ride shorter and gave us a nice break from sleeping in the tent.
When we stopped for fuel in Pahrumph NV., we then had a quick Macdonalds breakfast. When I restarted the sidecar I noticed that the "generator / charging light" did not light up. The light is supposed to light up, then go out when the engine starts and rev's to 1200 - 1500 RPM. It is normal to have the illuminated light at lower RPM's as the charging system has minimal output at lower RPM's.
I pulled the headlight from its' shell to check the light connection....all seemed OK. We decided to proceed to Henderson, about 75 miles up the road. Made it to Henderson and everything seemed fine.....battery appeared to have "juice". I did not have my testing light / multi-meter with me as I usually do....darn.
We had a nice evening and a good dinner. The next morning the bike started right up and the light was still "out". About 35 miles down the road I noticed a "low voltage" blinking light on our GPS accessory receptacle. I then decided to head back towards civilization and Boulder City NV. Going further South towards Searchlight would have had us in the "boonies" and away from any services.
Made it to Boulder City and to a fuel station.....filled up....went to start the bike and it was 100% "dead"...bummer!
I remembered the card from "Jimbo Sidecars"....pulled it out to maybe call him and get his opinion of my issue....I'll be darned but he lived right there in Boulder City. I called him and he showed up in 5 minutes with a "multi-meter....sure enough a "dead" alternator.

I travel as prepared as possible. I had a spare rotor and the removal tool required to take it off....but dead battery and no way to charge it. Jim gave me a "jump" and we fololwed him to his place and a battery charger. I swapped the rotor in short order and the battery charged for 5 hours.
Jim has a huge cache of BMW goodies and is building / restoring old sidecars in his garage. Had a great tour of his place and Darian "hung out" with Jims' Wife while I repaired the bike.
By the time the bike was ready to go it was nearly dark so we opted for another night in Henderson. The following day the bike worked fine and got us home to Yuma. Darian had a scheduled plane trip to MT.from Mesa AZ. the following day so we made it home just in time.
Many thanks to "Jimbo" for his help getting us back on the road!