Dodging thunderstorms

Didn’t sleep as well as I thought I would last night.  Still too much on my mind (exactly the reason for the trip).  While I didn’t sleep all that well it was still relaxing to get away.  The camp site was extremely quiet with the only other campers being an elderly couple with their very nice and friendly golden retriever.

There was no cell service so I wasn’t able to use the weather app on my phone to try to get an idea of when the rain would stop.  It had the feeling of the sort of rain that could stick around most of the day so I figured I could either pack up wet gear now, or sit around in the rain for a few hours and pack up wet gear then… might as well get moving.  The rain did let up fairly well as I was packing but there was no way the tent was going to dry out.  I do hate packing up wet gear.

Not far from the campground I was able to get a cell signal again and could check the weather.  Certainly looked like I was going to need to stay on top of it to stay safe.  I have no problem with riding in some rain but severe thunderstorms can be a different beast altogether.  I made the mistake several years ago of riding right in to one, rain came down so hard I had around 10 foot of visibility, I had no shelter (well, none that I could see with my 10 foot visibility!) so rode slowly in first gear along the shoulder of the road.  With the visibility I nearly ran into the back of a parked car.  Anyway…. that was 7 or 8 years ago and I learned the lesson then.  That was in Ohio and not far from where I was today.

A former gas station now repair shop was a nice quick shelter.

A former gas station now repair shop was a nice quick shelter.

Made very slow progress in the morning.  Took shelter at what appears to have been a gas station that is now a service shop but still had the awning over where the pumps used to be.  Once I saw a hole in the radar I saw I could jump down south a ways and get around a cell.  Then another 40 miles later I stopped in a small town at a car wash

My view of the heavy rain as I waited it out in a car wash.

My view of the heavy rain as I waited it out in a car wash.

(car washes make great shelters in these situations… you stay dry and when it is raining nobody is trying to wash their car so nobody complains).  Waited around at the car was for nearly an hour, ate some snacks and browsed facebook a bit.  Eventually I saw that if I went north about 5 miles I could get on I80 and get to the west of the storms.

Once I got around the storms it was a rather uneventful day, just had a nice ride and enjoyed the blue skies.  Stopped at Grand Lake St. Marry’s State Park in western Ohio for the night.  Not a bad campground however I usually prefer the more out of the way quiet spots.  They do have a nice shower house though which is key after 2 days of riding in warm humid weather wearing full gear.

As soon as I got here I unpacked my disgustingly wet tent and immediately got it set up.  I still had a little over 2 hours of daylight left and a nice breeze which dried it up nicely.

Weather here tomorrow looks nice… however as I head farther west I suspect I will see more.


Day 1

I am writing this from a campsite in the middle of the Allegheny National Forest with no Wifi or even cell phone signal so I won’t be able to post this until sometime tomorrow.  I did send a quick OK message to Jane and others via my inReach satellite tracker so at least they know I am OK.

A great day of riding.  Weather was clear the whole way and traffic was light.  Can’t ask for more than that.  Was a little chilly and foggy over the mountains in Vermont but by the time I hit Troy NH it was mid 80’s and a little humid.  Fine when moving but not too comfortable when wearing full gear when you get stopped at a stoplight.  I figure it is a good “warm up” for when I get farther west where it is supposed to get into the mid 90s.

I found a campground at around 6:30 so I am having plenty of time to set up camp and cook dinner before dark.  I decided I wanted to try more cooking on this trip.  That can be a bit of a challenge when packing light …. wait…. was that a raindrop.

…. a couple hours later …..

I should have been paying more attention to the weather.  Felt a few sprinkles on my head as I was typing and was not yet prepared!  The test was up (I may be a rookie but I DO always make sure the test is set up first thing) so I threw the laptop and a couple other key “don’t let it get wet” items in the tent and ran around organizing other things.  I brought my rain tarp and a couple of poles with me exactly for this sort of situation but had not bothered to set it up yet.  Good to know when the rain hits I can get that set up quickly!  Got that set up and made sure all critical items were dry and went back to eating dinner.

Now, before we were interrupted by the sudden rain shower I was starting to talk about camp cooking and how it can be a challenge when packing light.  For short weekend camping trips I carry a small soft sided cooler so I can have some fresh food to cook.  For a longer trip I don’t have the space for the cooler nor the patience to stop to refill it with ice each day.  So I did some digging on the internet and found some backpacking cooking recipes to try.  I found a couple of rice dishes where you mix up all the dry ingredients into a mylar bag then when you are ready to cook it you just boil water then pour it in the bag, stir it up, and let it sit.  So, I mixed up a few of these before I left.

I had planned on trying some of the recipes out at home before I left but never found the time.  So tonight was the first attempt at it.  I boiled the water, poured it in the bag and stirred, then even wrapped up the bag in a jacket to keep it hot.  While it sat I opened up a can of chicken and warmed that over the camp stove to add it in.

Ten or 15 minutes later I stirred it up and took a bite…. nope, the rice wasn’t even close to being cooked.  I had suspected this might be a problem, even with instant rice.  So I dumped the bag into the pot and finished cooking it.  Would have been nice to only have to throw out the dirty bag instead of cleaning the pot but either way it was actually quite tasty.

I think I will sleep well tonight, the heavy rain is past and just the nice sound of a light sprinkle on the tent.


Packed and ready (mostly)

After a crazy week at work I had a busy day yesterday getting the bike packed up and ready to go.  The plan had been to get some things ready each evening after work but we had some critical issues I needed to work on and got home way to late to get much done.  So I spent all day yesterday running around and going crazy.  Then around mid-afternoon I finally thought to check the weather and saw that today (Sunday) would be extremely wet with a chance of serious thunderstorms.  Now, I am not one to let rain get in the way of a good motorcycle trip but this looked like a little more than I wanted to deal with, the remnants of tropical storm “Bill” is making it’s way east.  By Monday morning it is supposed to be dry and clear.

So, since I was already exhausted from trying to organize all my camping gear I used this as an excuse to delay my departure for another day.  It was nice sleeping in this morning listening to the rain outside and knowing I am dry and comfortable.  I think I now am mostly packed up, with the exception of organizing a few of the bike specific tools which get packed away inside the skid plate and my laptop (which I need now to post this!).

Tomorrow I should be ready to get up, have a good breakfast, and hit the road early.  I want to make several miles tomorrow to get away from the east coast.  I should be able to make it to western Pennsylvania by tomorrow evening at which point I hope to set up camp and enjoy my first night of motorcycle camping in a few years.

I am really looking forward to the zen of just riding and camping for a few days.

Exploring the world of motorcycle travel

Several years ago I did some long cross country trips on my KLR and chronicled that on another web site I had access to giving it the name “random places”. Since then work, life, and other adventures have prevented me from getting back to wandering about the country on 2 wheels. I also seem to have lost all the content from those trips which is unfortunate.

I have decided it is time to get back to this. So here it is, brand new web site, brand new blog, brand new adventures.

I will be leaving on my next trip in less than a week. The plan is to go back to my home town in Kansas to visit family but the majority of the 2 weeks I have off from work will be spent riding. I hope to camp most nights but will allow myself the luxury of a motel room from time to time.

Hopefully some of you enjoy hearing my stories from the road.