Monday, December 6, 2010

This blog has moved to!

Hi everyone. Just a short note to tell you that this blog has moved to VaVaVroom's website. You'll find new posts there. Eventually, we'll shut this blog location down to avoid confusion. Thank you for reading and sharing the road of life with me.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Riding home from Redmond, Oregon - Day 16

Total Miles = 154

Libby, her family, and I all went our separate directions around 7:30 am. I was happy to snap a picture of her youngest on my bike! He looks like he is enjoying it. My trip from Madison to Chicago took longer than expected. It continued to rain the entire time until I reached the Des Plaines Oasis on the outskirts of Chicago. And then the traffic picked up and it got HOT. But do I really want to complain in my last post for my awesome trip. No! Let's sum up how awesome it was.

4, 488 total miles, 11 states (4 of them I had never been to before!), countless smiles and oohs and ahs.

Going home from Redmond, Oregon - Day 15

Total Miles = 353

So I thought today was my last day on the road, but the tornadoes in Southern Wisconsin had other plans for me. I knew I would encounter some rain today and put on rain gear just west of the Minnesota-Illinois border on I-94. The rain became so bad that it was difficult to see so I stopped in about 20 miles to wait out the storm at McDonald's (let's call this McD's #1). By chance, my dad and stepmom were traveling north on I-94 and our timing was just about perfect for meeting for lunch in Osseo, Wisconsin (at McD's #2). After lunch, I was on my way, but encountered black, nasty looking skies and pummeling rain. I exited in DeForest, WI and camped out at the Citgo station for a while - the home of the pink elephant!

I learned at the Citgo station that a tornado had been spotted about a mile away. The word was the tornado warning would lift at 6:00. I traveled down the road to McD's #3 to wait it out. I had also talked with my childhood friend, Libby, who lives in Madison. Being only 30 minutes north of Madison, I thought perhaps I would stay with her if the weather did not let up. Libby later called to tell me to wait until at least 7:30 pm to leave, as more tornado warnings were in effect. At that point, I made the decision to travel to Libby's as soon as the warnings were done. Around 8:30, I arrived at Libby's and caught up with her, her husband and two boys. I had not seen them in over a year and my had the two kids grown. It was great to catch up and I look at it as a blessing to have had this time with them. As I got ready for bed that night (the oldest son volunteered his room to me!), I noticed a map of the United States on the wall. I became curious. Now that I've hit some new states on this trip, how many states have I been to? Well, turns out I have been to 41 - only 9 more to go! It reminded me of a great t-shirt that Bob's BMW carries. It's called Keep Score and you check off the states and provinces you have ridden through as you do so.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Going home from Redmond, Oregon - Day 14

Total Miles = 532

I crossed in North Dakota fairly quickly into my ride. In doing so, the landscape changed quickly - going from a combination of rocky and open plains to "lumpy" hills and more green. A nice treat was viewing what I think were the Painted Canyon or North Dakotan Badlands in Theodore Roosevelt Park. Really beautiful. It looked like the Badlands in South Dakota only smaller and greener. Very cool. As I contemplated the sights, I got to thinking how grateful I am to live in a country that has such varied and breathtaking landscapes. Even some states have multiple climates and looks. Traveling by motorcycle allows me to see this first hand. After I crossed into Minnesota, the landscape changed again - more green, more farmland - less ranching, more growing - more trees - as you would expect Minnesota to look like. It was a fairly uneventful day on I-94. No rain, no weirdos (well, not too bad). Met some nice bikers from all over the country. I'm still loving my new windscreen. Stops for has were in Bismarck, ND, Jamestown, ND, Fargo, ND, Fergus Falls, MN and staying in St. Cloud, MN at the Quality Inn. I like Quality Inns. I've found that they are a good value and pretty nice. As a bonus, I arrived early enough to enjoy a beer and some dinner at the attached Old Chicago restaurant.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On the way home from Redmond, Oregon - Day 13

Total Miles = 477

Driving out of Butte, MT on I-90 E this morning was beautiful with more curves, rock formations and green trees. But quickly, the landscape turned to the typical look of Montana.

Don't get me wrong, it's beautiful, but it looked basically the same for 400 miles! Stops were made in Bozeman, Columbus, Custer, Miles City, Glendive, and finally I stayed in Wibaux at the Beaver Creek Inn.

Today consisted of interstate driving and was kind of boring. I spent my stops re-adjusting my new Airhawk seat cover (I had too much air in it) and the windshield. I had to keep raising it. My new ZTechnik windscreen really makes a difference at highway speeds. A nice UPS man in Custer helped me re-attach the windscreen. I realized as I headed down the road that I didn't extend the brackets on the windscreen, so I stopped at the next exit in Bighorn. I watched the UPS guy pass by and then lost a piece of the bracket for 20 minutes! When I arrived in Glendive to rent a hotel room, the hotels were all full. Thankfully, Jonny had called ahead to Wibaux and reserved a room for me there. And good thing too, because I was getting tired!

Monday, July 19, 2010

On the way home from Redmond, Oregon - Day 12

Total Miles = 446 miles

Today, I woke up refreshed and well-rested and was on the road by 8:30. The landscape as I left Walla Walla was breathtaking. Amber waves of grain as far as the eye could see. And when the landscape was green, it was very green. The contrast between different crops was so vivid. I thought it couldn't get any better and then I reached the Idaho border and rode US Rte. 12 across Idaho... 200 miles of winding, curvy roads through national forest. I didn't encounter one stoplight or one stop sign for the entire 200 miles. The road winds along the Lochsa River. The beauty was truly awesome. My pictures do not do them justice, but here they are.

Walla Walla wheat fields with contrasting green fields.

The next town beyond Walla Walla - Yes, that's a camel!

The view along the Lochsa River in Lowell, ID.

Resting by the Lochsa River.

They really do sell cows! - Drummond, MT.

Once into Montana, the speed limit increased and in Missoula, I found 90 E where I buzzed along to Butte, MT. My new windscreen did wonders and I didn't mind the highway speed at all.

Leaving Redmond, Oregon - Day 11

Total Miles = 258

I had planned to sleep in today, but nature called and I needed to use the facilities. I guess I'm up at 5:30 am again today. Turned out to be a good thing because it took me six hours to get out of there between a shower, breaking down camp, packing, Jerry putting my new grips on my bike, losing my keys, saying goodbye to the Bob's BMW crew, saying goodbye to Nancy Foote and Walt Fulton of Streetmasters Motorcycle Workshop, saying goodbye to Scott and the Canadians, running to Walgreen's for Jonny, and lastly, getting gas. Whew! I finally got out of there around 11:30. I wasn't feeling all that well, so I took it easy through the windy roads of Oregon. My route was 97 N, 293 E, 218 E, 19 N, 84 E, 730 E, 12 E to Walla Walla, Washington.

It really was beautiful throughout. 293 and 218 were especially fun with some twists and turns. 84 is scenic along the Hood River. On 730, I crossed in to Washington and began to follow the Columbia River. Walla Walla is a nice tourist town with many wineries. The best hotel rate was at La Quinta. A nice place with all of the necessary amenities.

Scott from Neenah, Wi and me - We met Scott last year at the MOA rally in Johnson City, TN.

Jerry putting on my Grab On grip covers. Grip covers extend the life of your expensive grips and reduce vibration. Jerry was proud of me for getting a bunch of free stuff - a new ZTechnik windscreen, ZTechnik headlight cover, ZTechnik GPS mount (I guess I better get a GPS now), microfiber cloth, the grip covers, a book by Mary Lou Dobbs (I will interview her on Side Stand Up); and a great deal on a new Airhawk seat cover and a PIAA headlamp. I also bought new cooling sleeves from LD Comfort. They are dual purpose - cover my wrists so I don't get sunburn due to my too short sleeves on my riding jackets and you can soak them in water and feel cool on your ride.

Mike with his 3rd place ribbon from the GS contest. Go Mikey!

Jerry and Sharon with the medal and 1st place ribbon from the GS contest. They got two extra points because Sharon was wearing a VaVaVroom shirt that matched the yellow bike!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Staying in Redmond, Oregon - Day 10

Total Miles = 0

No time to ride when you are working like a dog. Up by 6:00 a.m. to shower and ready to work the booth around 8:00. On my way to the showers, I snapped a pic of the mountain range.

The rally site is in a beautiful place. In keeping with tradition, The Chicago Region BMW MOA Owner's Association rented a tent for club members to gather during the rally.

It is nice to have a place to catch up and get out of the sun. Our last day in the booth was busy and VaVaVroom sales were the best of any of the days. In keeping with tradition, Fred cooked for all of the Bob's BMW booth staff. I swear they were the best tacos I've ever had!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Staying in Redmond, Oregon - Day 9

Total Miles = 0

So my good buddy, Fred, let me in on a little secret. In the RV park at the rally site, there are showers that are barely used because most of the RV's have their own. So, no wait for showers this morning! Yay! Even though the band played until midnight the night before and kept me up longer than I would have liked, I felt less tired today. Here's a picture to give an idea of our tent area.

My first stop of the morning was to visit the LD Comfort booth. I am a big fan of their products - long distance riding underwear. I have the shorts, tights, and long sleeve shirt. I decided on my ride out that I needed to buy the cooling sleeves - for two reasons. One, if you wet the cooling sleeves and put them on your ride they really will keep you cool! Two, because I have long arms, there is agap between my glove and jacket sleeve. The cooling sleeves covers that gaps and helps ward off dehydration and sunburn.

We had brisk sales again at the booth today. I did take a little break from selling in the afternoon to give a seminar on women's motorcycle apparel. It was well attended and I was pleased to hear that many participants found it helpful.

That evening, I had dinner with VaVaVroom's new sales rep in Arizona, Lisa Malachowsky. We chatted about strategy and plan to take Arizona by storm when we return home. I then went to visit my friend, Jonny. Jonny had torn a muscle a few days earlier at the rally and had been in the hospital. He was recovering well and won't need surgery, but in our discussions about riding home, he came to the correct conclusion that he should not ride home. It is just too risky. He will ship his bike back and fly home. Although we were very disappointed, I know it is the right thing to do. After that settled, I chatted with Sandra, Scott and the Canadians. They are a funny bunch!

Staying in Redmond, Oregon - Day 8

Total Miles = 0

While the BMW MOA rally is a ton of fun, it is also exhausting! I decided to get up at 6:00 am or earlier every day to ensure a timely shower. (The lack of showers this year at the rally is frustrating!). Today reminded me how being on your feet for ten hours straight can be wearing.

However, we had a lot of fun working the Bob's BMW vendor booth today and we sold a lot of stuff. And I do think the booth looks great!

For dinner, I was invited to the BMW ON Magazine contributors dinner. I invited a Chicago Region BMW MOA club member, Mike. It was interesting to hear a BMW Motorrad executive speak about the future of BMW (it looks bright!).

This is Vince Winkel, the editor of the magazine. Vince had tried to play a joke on me in front of everyone, but didn't have the right prop. The prop in question was a thong. Hmmm. I'm glad he couldn't find the prop.

After dinner, Mike and I hung out with the other Chicago club members in our gathering tent. It was nice to see our friend Scott from Neenah, Wisconsin. We met him last year and adopted him as an honorary Chicago member.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Staying in Redmond, Oregon - Day 7

Total Miles = 45

Now, the business part of my trip begins. Today, at the BMW MOA rally in Redmond, Oregon, I will be selling VaVaVroom through the Bob's BMW booth. We spent the better part of the day setting all of this up. The best part of the day was receiving a new, free windscreen for my motorcycle - a ZTechnik brand - much needed. Since my bike was used as the demo bike at the vendor booth, I get to keep it! That is awesome because I was going to buy one anyway! In the evening, I joined Bob Henig of Bob's BMW and Sam Henig (his son) and Fred Oppido (my fellow booth workers) for the BMW MOA Ambassador's dinner. Here is a picture of Sam and Fred.

I also ran into my old friends, Walt Fulton and Nancy Foote, of Streetmasters Motorcycle Workshops (pictured here in their Streetmasters red!).

After the dinner, Bob, Fred, Sam and I took a really quick ride to Smith Rock. We stopped to see "the rock" over looking a beautiful stream with hikers below and rock climbers above.

This trip has been full of beautiful and inspiring geography.

Riding to Redmond, Oregon - Day 6

Total Miles = 320

Days like today make days like yesterday all worth it.

The highlight of the day was riding Hwy 26 in Oregon through a mountainous, cavernous, gorgeous (gorges!) landscape. Roads just technical enough to engage us but not tiring. I highly recommend this route to any riders or travelers. On our first gas stop, we encountered some fellow BMW travelers (see our helmets all lined up together?) and the inside of the gas station had a bison head hanging as well as other local game.

It also had funny signs up all over - reminding customers not to pee on the seat in the washroom, etc. We arrived in Redmond around 5:00 pm at the BMW MOA International Rally site. We found a place next to some Canadians that quickly become friends. Mike from Trenton, Ontario and Jerry and Sharon from Niagara Falls. They are a ton of fun and we enjoyed dinner with them at Coyote Ranch. A good time was had by all, ay.

Riding to Redmond, Oregon - Day 5

Total Miles = 442

We had a lovely brunch at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. Sandra and I parted ways with Jonny at this point. Jonny was riding north to participate in an Iron Butt. Sandra and I were heading west to towards Oregon.

As we left Yellowstone Park, we saw more bison and beautiful sites. As you mayhave heard, there is a lot of construction going on in Yellowstone. We waited for 30 minutes at one point due to a lane closure. We met two very nice couples from North Dakota on Harleys. It takes a while to get out of Yellowstone. Yes, there is traffic and construction, but I found the stay there completely worth it. I only got to see a small portion of what the park has to offer but the sights I did get the chance to see were truly amazing.

Our plan was to continue on Hwy 20. This took us through Montana briefly and then into Idaho. We missed an exit for Hwy 20 and had to re-route northwest for a bit. On this road and when we returned to Hwy 20, we encountered very high winds. At least 50-60 mph. It was scary and I was so tense!

I'm pointing to the place on the map where we rode through 50-60 mph winds.

Because we were riding through desert, there was nowhere to stop. We tried stopping once, but just got blown around more. So we carried on until we reached the town of Unity. After resting and getting our nerves under control, we carried on.

There were winds but they felt like baby's breath compared to what we had just been through. The rest of the ride was quite nice. We rode through the Idaho National Forest, by the Magic Reservoir and saw lava rocks along the way. I didn't know what they were then and I was puzzled by the sight of them. Our stay for the night was in a Comfort Inn in Boise. Ron, the manager, gave us a good rate. Thanks, Ron! We met some other fellow BMW riders, who were on their way to the rally as well.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Riding to Redmond, Oregon - Day 4

Total Miles = 108

After breakfast in the Canyon Lodge cafeteria, we headed for Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park. Along the way, we encountered hordes of bison. We stopped to take pictures and came very close to some of them. Too close for my liking! I couldn't believe how many people walked really close to these bison to take pictures. Bison weigh up to 2,000 pounds and can travel at 40 mph. Every year, park visitors are injured by bison.

We also took pictures by Yellowstone Lake in many spots. We stopped at one of the many sulfur springs, which was cool, but the highlight was seeing a bear down below from a small cliff. It was fun to take a picture at the Continental Divide, but watching the famous Old Faithful erupt was even more fun. Our final destination for the evening was the Mammoth Hot Springs, which are in the northwest corner of the park. The Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel was built in the 30s and quite nice. After dinner, there was the most vivid rainbow I have ever seen.

We then enjoyed a challengingwalk to visit the many locations of hot springs in that area. Below Sandra contemplates the meaning of life watching over Cleopatra's Table.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Riding to Redmond, Oregon - Day 3

Total Miles = 360

We left our lovely motel in Douglas, WY at 8:30 am in search of the World's Largest Jackalope and the world's even larger jackalope!

We were lucky to see them as they are quite rare : ).

We also got a quick look at the locomotive museum.

On one of our gas stops, someone walked off with my coat (which was sitting on my bike) and left it in the parking lot. Nothing was gone. Were they looking for a wallet? A nice lady found it and brought it inside. Luckily, I was walking by just as she was doing so. Note to self: Don't be so trusting in tourist areas! We had a beautiful ride on U.S. 20 by a lake into some elevation. Sweepers! My favorite. Alas, it started to rain and we had to be more cautious. By the time we got to Thermopolis, WY, the wind were blowing something fierce.

We ducked into the Fountain of Youth Diner to assess the situation. A quick internet search alerted us to a serious storm so we decided to wait it out. Yummy food there - tater tots, brisket. Mmmmm.

Bear spray? Let's hope a situation where that would be needed never arises. Just in case, tips on how to handle a bear attack, here.

When the stormed cleared, we made our way to Yellowstone! As we took winding roads through Yellowstone to our cabin at Canyon Lodge, we passed bison and saw spectacular views of Yellowstone Lake. Words cannot describe the beauty. The sun was going down, creating a beautiful blueish purple hue over the lake. We made it to our cabin just before dark!

Riding to Redmond, Oregon - Day 2

Total Miles = 442

The motel in Osmond, Nebraska was very nice and new! The nearby mini-mart ladies were also very nice. We left Osmond around 10:00 am - too late in my book, but we were on our way. As we continued on U.S. 20 west, we went through many small towns, including Eli with a population of 2.

I've never seen the sky look so beautiful with the wide open spaces, big blue sky with fluffy clouds dotted across the landscape.

Our favorite stop of the day was in Merriman, where we stopped to rest and eat at the Sand Cafe. An old fashioned diner with pictures of customers on the wall, shakes and malts with fresh ingredients, and the best club sandwiches ever - fresh ham cut from the bone. It makes a difference!

When we went out to our bikes, Sandra and I discovered ants in our helmets! Lesson not to put your helmet on the ground!

This little guy hitched a ride on Sandra's bike.

After we crossed the border into Wyoming, we say many longhorn sheep and bison. We passed through a town called Lusk - known for the only legal cathouse in Wyoming at one time. They are no longer in service but there is a monument to prostitutes on the outskirts of town. We settled on Douglas as our resting place for the evening. There was a little league convention in town, so we were lucky to find a room at the Super 8!