A day by day journal of our trip....

Before I go ahead with the journal, I have to give 85% of the credit to Dave for producing it. That's Dave over there to your left busily working on his journal in our cabin in the Black Hills. Dave actually brought his laptop with him on the trip and was very disciplined in taking time at the end of each day to recap the highlights. Day-1 through day-3 are my entries alone. From day-5 through day-13, Dave was the sole keeper of the journal. I made a few minor changes, the biggest of which was swapping his mileage readings with my own. I also played teacher and corrected a few spelling and grammar errors, which Dave would not have made if he thought this was going to be graded. Thanks Dave; not only for the journal, but for your friendship all these years!!

Sunday June 28th, 2009 / Day-1.
Slept poorly last night. Anxious for the trip to begin. Got out of bed at 3:30. Almost everything is packed, with a few exceptions (toiletries). Hit the shower, packed the few items remaining and loaded the bike. My brother was staying over and he helped by holding the flashlight. Extremely foggy out this morning, so I had to wear my rain gear. Pulled away from home at 4:45 A.M. with 24,802 miles on the Roadliner to meet Chris on Mass. Pike at Westboro rest area. Had a coffee and donut and Chris arrived at about 5:35. Filled the tank and left Westboro at 6:20. Trying to make good time so following the Mass. Pike to Sturbridge, MA. and picked up RT# 86 West. Took RT# 84 through Hartford and on to Port Jervis, New York. We saw a black bear on the side of the highway in New York. He/she ran at the sound of the bikes. Picked up Rt# 6 in Pennsylvania and followed it West looking for a scenic drive. This cost a lot of time, and I don't feel it was worth it. Many small towns with lots of traffic lights. The scenery wasn't too bad, but at Tonawanda, PA, we picked up RT# 220 South to head for the interstate and make up some time. Ran into rain and changed into rain gear. I saw a dear about 15 feet away when we were changing. We picked up RT# 180 trying to make Williamsport. I picked up an "S" ring in my rear tire so we turned off the highway and there was a "Fairfield Inn & Suites" in Williamsport right off the exit where we spent the first night. The mileage at days end was 25,254 for a total of 452 miles on the day. I have to deal with the flat rear tire before we can get going tomorrow.

Monday June 29th, 2009 / Day-2.
I found a Yamaha dealer about 10 miles east of the hotel so I plugged the tire and filled with CO2 which got me to a nearby gass station where I put more air in the tire. Chris followed me to Montoursville where they mounted a new tire for $328.08. We went back to the hotel and loaded up the bikes and got back on RT# 180 heading for interstate RT# 80. The time when we finally got back on the road was 12:10 P.M. so we lost about 4 hours of driving time. The mileage when I left the motel was 25,276. It was a day of highway miles and intermitant rain showers, but no lightening. We didn't make it as far as we had hoped due to the loss of time for the flat tire. At the end of the day, we stopped at a "Super 8" motel in Millbury, Ohio. They had a restaurant and we walked over and found the whole place square dancing. We each grabbed a beverage and brought them back to the room. Sat outside for a while with the beverages and solved the worlds problems before calling it a day. We logged 424 highway miles on the day, finishing up at 25,678. It was a very good day considering the rain and the four hours we lost getting started. Total mileage so far for the trip is 876.

Tuesday June 30th, 2009 / Day-3.
Did not sleep well last night. Got up at 7:25 and showered and loaded the bike. At 8:10, Chris is still sleeping. It feels like 60 degrees outside but the sun is shining. We found out last night that Adam and Andy have been re-hired!! This is very good!! We will make Dave's house in Racine, WI. today. I estimate a 2:00 P.M. arrival. Headed west on I-80 to Chicago. We drove right through the middle of Chicago. The traffic was barely moving and we lost a lot of time. We picked up I-94 North headed for Racine. Arrived at Dave's at 3:20. The traffic was no problem once we cleared Chicago. We rested a bit at Dave's and unpacked the bikes. After a brief rest, we decided to drive to Milwaukee and visit the Harley Davidson museum. I do recommend the museum. It is very extensive and done extremely well. We left the museum and headed to "Leons" in Milwaukee. They make the best custard in the world (kind of like a soft Dairy Queen cone, but much softer and tastier). Bill and Hillary stopped at Leons when they were in Milwaukee a few years back. Dinner was local pizza. Hoping for good weather tomorrow so Dave can take us on some good Wisconsin back roads, but it doesn't look promising. We put on 392 miles today including our Milwaukee excursion, finishing up the day with 26,070 on the bike. The trip total now is 1,268 miles.

Wednesday July 1st, 2009 / Day-4.
No riding today. The weather is not going to cooperate. The Brewers are taking on the Mets at Miller Park so we went to the game. The Mets won the contest 1-0. We had a good time and got some very good seats. We got back to Dave's house in Racine and grilled brats and tenderloin for dinner. One of Dave's neighbors joined us as did Dave's daughter and her boyfriend. Early to bed for an early start tomorrow. It looks like the weather will be good for our departure. Dave and I will head west towards the Great Plains, and Chris will head back to Boston. That's Chris over to your right with the red shirt on. He is outside our room at the "Super 8" in Millbury. So far, I am very pleased with the trip even given the weather and the tire problem. I am anxious and excited about getting started. From tomorrow until Dave and I go our seperate ways, Dave's journal will report our journey. I will be substituting my miles for his.

Thursday July 2nd, 2009 / Day-5.
Left Thursday morning July 2 at about 7:20 with 26,070 on the Roadliner. Took the usual route to Janesville, stopped for breakfast at Perkins which took too long, and then 14 to 92 through Brooklyn and Belleville, then Mount Vernon and to Mt. Horeb. Stopped to take pictures of the trolls in the town, pick up CO2 for Doug and gas up. Headed north from there on S then P to 113 through Lodi to the Merrimac ferry. From there it was through Devil’s Lake (more photos) and a stop at Culver’s in Baraboo so Doug could have some custard. Went west on 33 to 136 through Rock Springs with a stop at the historical maker for Hise’s Rock. Then met up with 33 through Reedsburg and then FF in Wonewoc to Hillsboro. Missed the turn for 33 in Hillsboro but that was OK because it took us to an historical marker about African American farmers in that part of Wisconsin. Continued on 33 with a stop at a marker just east of La Crosse that explained the term Coulee used for the geographical nature of the area. Through La Crosse and over the Mississippi in hwy 16 and into Minnesota. Hwy 16 was nice and twisty for the most part. Cloudy for nearly all of our time in Wisconsin and then the sun came out in Minnesota. Ended the day in Spring Valley at 26,414 for a nice day’s total of 344 miles. Trip total now is 1,612. Ate dinner at Tooties and stayed at the Spring Valley Inn & Suites, nice, clean and reasonable. On a scale of 1 - 10, I would rate this a 6 in eastern WI, and a 8-9 in western WI. Our route in western WI is a definate do-again with lots of rural scenery, lakes, some small mountains, historical markers, and lots of twisties!!

Friday July 3rd, 2009 / Day-6.
Started out on the cool and partly cloudy side. Headed west on hwy 16 and took it to where it ended at I90 and hwy 7. Took 7 to 2 to 218 to 251 to 31 to 35 to 13 to 30 to 10 to 60, many state and county roads zig-zagging westerly. Got on hwy 60 going southwest toward I-90. Ran into a shower and put the rain gear on. Got on I-90 and headed west. At a stretch stop I started talking to a biker about his chaps’ effectiveness in the rain. Turned out that he was from Dickeyville, WI. Stopped at Sioux Falls Harley-Davidson so that Doug could replace his sunglasses. Stopped for lunch at the truck stop across the highway and then headed west again on I-90. Ran into heavy rain and got off the highway to wait it out and get gas. Talked to a couple of bikers from Dubuque, Iowa who also stopped to wait out the rain. Got back on the road in light rain and some breaks. Got off at Mitchell for the Corn Palace and it continued to rain. After touring the Corn Palace it was still raining steadily so we decided to get a room there at the Quality Inn. Ate at the Iron Skillet (?) next store where we tried to encourage young Kara to be more engaging. Ended at 26,748 for a wet day’s total of 334 miles. The trip total is now 1,946 miles. On a scale of 1 - 10, I would rate the Minnesota ride a 6-7. S. Dakota was really all a flat, non-scenic highway and thus gets a 3.

Saturday July 4th, 2009 / Day-7.
Today started with light rain so we put the rain gear on again and headed west. Stopped for gas at Chamberlain and started on the scenic byway north along the Missouri River, very scenic. Breakfast was at the hotel. Ran into the end of the July 4th parade in Fort Pierre so that slowed us down a bit. Crossed the Missouri for the fourth time and took pictures at the state capitol. Headed out of town on hwy 14 crossing the Missouri for the fifth time. Ran into more showers and getting a lot of practice at putting the rain gear on. Hwy 14 had a construction zone in which the entire pavement was removed for stretched of a few hundred feet. One was a mud pit that caused some anxiety for us as the bikes were sliding and fish tailing through the mud. But we made it. A few more showers between there and Wall. Stopped at Wall Drug for a while and then headed for the Badlands. Stopped at every scenic view on the way south and then droved without stopping on the way back. Back onto I-90 for our destination in Belle Fourche. Took longer than expected and we got there around 9:10, later and darker than we wanted. Doug spotted a group of about 8 - 10 mule deer off the highway just outside of Rapid City. Stayed at the AmericInn and when we headed for food at Hardy’s, but the sign went off so we settled for gas station packaged sandwiches. Ended the day at 27,236 for a day’s total of 476 long, wet miles. My trip total is now 2,422 miles. On a scale of 1 - 10, I would rate the ride northwest of Chamberlain S. Dakota a 9. This was largely Sioux Indian land with great vistas, hills, and valleys. It felt like we were in a painting. From Pierre to Wall will get a 6-7. Very beautiful country. The Badlands are a definate 10.

Sunday July 5th, 2009 / Day-8.
Today started out pleasant and sunny. Breakfast was at the hotel. We rode south from Belle Forche through Deadwood and onto the Spearfish Canyon scenic road. Much nicer riding it on a Sunday morning without all of the rally bike traffic. Continued south on 85 to Four Corners which is really only 2 corners and no gas station. Headed north on 585 to Sundance which did have gas. Very scenic with wide vistas. From Sundance we continued on 14 to Devil’s Tower. A lot of other people were also interested in that site. Walked around the chunk of stone and took pictures. On the way out we stopped at the prairie dog area and then headed to Hulet for lunch. The one place that looked open wasn’t serving food but said that we could walk to the deli behind the bar, get a sandwich and bring it back to the bar. So we did. While waiting for the sandwiches there was a brief downpour. When we came out of the bar there was a break in the rain but we weren’t quick enough to beat the next shower and stood under a shelter for a few minutes until there was another break. We suited up and headed east getting out of the rain in just a few hundred yards. Continued on hwy 24 and then 34 to Belle Fourche. Again we headed south on 85 and picked up 385 which we took to Hill City. We found a small hotel and cabin place, Spring Creek Inn and asked for a room. They were out of regular rooms so we were offered a 2 bed cabin for $165. We balked and they offered it for $125 and we took it. Very nice building with a porch overlooking a small creek. Went into town for Subway sandwiches, got some beverages and had dinner on the porch. Ended the day at 27,486 for a short day’s total of 250 miles. My trip total is now 2,684 miles. On a scale of 1 - 10, I would rate anything in the Black Hills at least an 8. Parts of this area score the highest. If you haven't b een here before, Spearfish Canyon is a must and scores a 9. I would rate the Needles Highway an absolute 10. If you do nothing else in the Black Hills, drive the Needles Highway. You will have to pay a small toll. The ride to Devils Tower was very scenic. Hulet is a small town north of Devils Tower on Rt#24 that has a real "wild west" feel to it. From Hulet to Belle Furche on Rt#24 and then Rt# 34 is also a nice ride with hills, and some nice corners. definate 10.

Monday July 6th, 2009 / Day-9.
Once again, today started out sunny and pleasant. We started out going to the hand wand car wash to get some dirt off the bikes. Then a couple of blocks to breakfast. From there we headed down 385 to 244 to Mount Rushmore. Took pictures, walked through the exhibits and the sculptors studio and headed out via 16A and Iron Mountain Highway. Very twisty road with pig tail turns. That took us into Custer State Park. We continued on 16A to Custer to gas up and then headed back on 16A to 87 to the Wildlife Loop through Custer. Saw many prong horn antelope and a lone buffalo early into the loop. Towards the end of the loop we came across a group of 20 to 30 buffalo and stopped to take pictures. The group started slowly towards us and so we quickly got on our bikes and moved down the road. We exited the wildlife loop and took 16A to 87 which is Needles highway. Another twisty road with one lane tunnels and slow traffic in front of us. Darkening skies had us heading back to our cabin. Got back around 5:30 an unusually short day but we had enough time in the saddle. Headed into town for dinner at the Alpine Inn. The evening menu consisted of filet, either 6 oz or 9 oz. Good beef. Picked up a bottle of merlot and sat on the deck sipping wine and checking maps for the ride through Nebraska and Kansas. Ended the day with 27,605 miles for a short day’s total of 119 miles. My trip total is now 2,803 miles. On a scale of 1 - 10, I would rate 16A and the Iron Mountain Highway a 9-10 with great views Mount Rushmore and lots of nice twisties. On a hot day you will still find lots of shade and plenty of scenic vistas with parking and picnic tables. The Wildlife Loop through Custer is nice but slow going due to the abundance of wildlife.

Tuesday July 7th, 2009 / Day-10.
Today started with breakfast at the Slate Creek Grill as we did on Monday morning. At breakfast Doug decided that this was the day to find the Yamaha dealer for an oil change and I decided to find the Harley dealer for a new rear tire (really needed one). The Yamaha dealer said they could get Doug in right away and the Harley dealer told me it might be an hour wait before they could get to me. We headed from the cabin around 10:00 getting Doug to the Sturgis Yamaha dealer a little after 11:00 and me to Black Hills Harley around 11:40. Doug got his bike back a little before 3:00 and mine was finished a little after 3:00. Doug met me at the Harley Dealer and we went to Sturgis to walk around and take photos. From there we went to Deadwood to walk around and take photos with a soda break at Mustang Sally’s. We then went up hill to Mt. Moriah cemetery where Wild Bill and Calamity Jane are buried. From there it was 385 back to Hill City and Subway on the deck. Finished the day with 27,781 miles for a tiny total of 176 miles. My trip total is now 2,979 miles.

Wednesday July 8th, 2009 / Day-11.
Today is the start of the ride home. We headed south on 385, departing at 8:05 local time, and stopped at the Crazy Horse monument. Slow progress but it does look like things have changed since Dave was there in 1998. Doug discovered that he lost his debit card. Must have left it at the ATM yesterday. From the Crazy Hourse monument it was south to Custer on 385 where we stopped and Doug called in the lost card to his bank. We continued through Custer but we missed the turn to stay on 385 and we headed west on 16. I thought something was wrong when we passed Jewel Cave and knew we were on the wrong road when we saw the sign about exiting Black Hills National Forest. Nice road so the impact was minimal. So we turned around and headed back to Custer and stopped at the Cowboy Café for breakfast. This time we found the right road and took it south through Hot Springs, SD to Chadron, NE where we picked up Rt#-20. We then traveled east to Gordon where we got on Rt#-27 south to Ellsworth. At the ‘T’ where Rt#27 ends and we begin east on hwy 2 we stopped at the only trees for miles for a break from the sun. There was a small general store and leather shop there called Morgan's Cowpoke Haven. The place was very interesting as we talked to the owner and he wanted to show us his Harley in ‘the back’. We went through about 5 different large add-on garages where he had some shop stuff, some items stored like trucks and old cars and then got a look at his bike. Back on the hot and windy road through the sand hills of western NE. These were huge and the road, although mostly straight, had some large inclines and declines with an occasional turn in the road. We stopped for gas in Hyannis, NE and there were 4 motorcycles there from Manitowoc, WI. They noticed my Sheboygan Harley shirt and that started the conversation. Small world. We made it to Broken Bow and looked for a motel. Found an ‘America’s Best Value’ and all they had was a room with a single queen bed so we asked for a roll away and were set. McDonald’s next store was the place for dinner and there was a liquor store across the street for cold beverages. Ended the day at 28,203 for a hot day’s total of 422 miles.

Thursday July 9th, 2009 / Day-12.
Thursday July 9 was the second leg of the ride home starting with breakfast at the motel, a failed search for premium petro, then being followed by the local sheriff after leaving the gas station (no problem as he passed us a few miles down the road), and continuing under overcast skies but no precipitation. Continued on hwy 2 to Grand Island where we topped at the Harley dealer where I got a t-shirt and Doug bought the skull face kerchief to protect his sensitive skin. From there it was south on Locust Street to where I thought was hwy 34 but wasn’t but it ended up on hwy 34 after a couple of miles. Went through Hastings and missed the sign for hwy 6 east but that worked out because it was time for lunch at Wendy’s. Back tracked a couple of blocks and got on hwy 6 east to hwy 14 south. Missed the sign for hwy 14 which should have indicated a right turn and we went straight and eventually ran out of pavement. That was a clear indication that we needed to go back to Superior and picked up hwy 8 east. Took this to hwy 81 and stopped for gas. Again no premium but not much choice. Doug struck up a conversation with the clerk who was from Framingham. The day had heated up considerably by this time. Picked up hwy 36 east in Belleville and took that through Kansas crossing over the Missouri river at St. Joseph, Mo. Went a few more miles to Cameron where we found a Days Inn, ate dinner at Ma & Pa Kettle’s and headed back to the room. Ended the day at 28,625 for a hot day’s total of 422 miles. Big thunderstorms woke me up around 3:00 am, the fire alarm went off 4 times and Doug slept through it. My trip total now is 3,823

Friday July 10th, 2009 / Day-13.
Today started with the storms moving to the south and east. Breakfast was at the motel. I had left the plug out of the auxiliary port and lost that input to the radio. We left the motel at 9:20 A.M. Continued east on hwy 36 stopping just before Hannibal, MO for lunch at Hardee’s. We gassed up with premium and headed the few miles to Hannibal where I headed north on hwy 61 and Doug continued east looking to pick up I-72. (This is where Dave and I departed company, so from here until the end, we are back to my own hand). Shortly after Dave and I departed, it began to rain, and when the lightening started, I pulled into a truck stop to wait it out. I called my brother in Connecticut who got on the internet. I described where I was and he told me to wait it out and it would go over me soon. It did and I resumed my trip on I72 East in Illinois. I72 becomes I-74 around Champaign, Illinois. Followed I74 East to Crawfordsville, Indiana, where I got a room in a Days Inn. The next building housed a strip club, which made me wonder where I had landed. Parked the bike right under my window. My mileage now reads 29,069 for a days total of 444 good miles. My trip total now is 4,267 miles.

Saturday July 11th, 2009 / Day-14.
I woke up today at 6:00 and was loading the bike at 6:30. The sky does not look promising and rain could be a big factor today. I got through Indianapolis with very little traffic on the road. Saw the stadium the Colts play at right off the highway to my left. Some construction, but due to the light traffic, it posed very little problem. I picked up I70 East on the other side of Indianapolis and soon after I crossed into Ohio, the sky opened up. I stopped to put on my rain gear under an overpass. I was about 40 - 50 miles into Ohio and now there was chain lightening and VERY loud thunder claps. I decided to seek shelter and call it a day. I stopped at a Motel 6 in London, Ohio at around 11:30 in the morning. Discretion was the better part of valor. After I was checked in and in my room, the rain came down in torrents. A number of other bikers also checked in and called it a day. A benefit was that I got a lot of rest before I departed the following morning. My mileage read 29,287 for a paultry, wet and mostly anxious 218 miles for the day. My trip total is now 4,485 miles. I am hoping for good weather tomorrow.....

Sunday July 12th, 2009 / Day-15.
Today is Dianne's birthday, and I will not be with her. Happy birthday Dianne!! I got a very early start this morning, and I am on the road at 6:30 A.M. The weather is finally cooperating. It is sunny and comfortable. No rain gear today it seems. I crossed southern Ohio on I-70 east into Wheeling, West Virginia where I filled up the tank and drained a large Gator-Aid. I drove through WV in what seemd like about 15 minutes, and entered the great commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I drove south of Pittsburg on I-70 and connected with I-76 East near Youngwood. Followed I-76 East to Carlisle where I picked up I-81 going northeast and hoping to reach Port Jervis by days end. Southern Pennsylvania was beautiful. The scenery was very pleasant, the highways were in great shape, and the drivers were courteous. I enjoyed driving this route and would enjoy doing it again. At Scranton, PA I picked up I-84 East. Arrived at Port Jervis staying at a very nice Best Western hotel for the night. I ordered a lovely meal brought to my room with a fine cheesecake desert and a glass of merlot. I finiahed the day with 29,873 miles on the bike for a total of 586 very nice and enjoyable miles. My trip total is now 5,071 miles. Tomorrow, I should cruise into Wrentham before noon if all goes well.

Monday July 13th, 2009 / Day-16.
Slept very well last night. I awoke early and was heading out at exactly 6:22 after filling up the tank. It was cold enough to put my hoodie on under my rain top which I was, and had been, using as a windbreaker. The sky was very clear. I stopped at a nice diner in Bethel, CT right off the highway for breakfast. I topped off the tank and took off. I left I-84 East in Manchester, Ct onto I-384 East to Rt# 44 in Bolton CT. Stopped in Willington, CT. for fuel and a cup of coffee and to stretch the legs a bit at 9:55 A.M. I followed Rt#44 into Rhode Island and picked up I-295 North into Cumberland, RI. where I took back roads the last few miles home. It was a beautiful day, and it was a fantastic trip!! My mileage was now at 30,109 miles which was 236 miles on the day, and a final trip total of 5,407 unforgetable miles.