Wednesday, January 07, 2015

New Orleans Trip

Patti, Jamie and I visited New Orleans over our Christmas Break..(12/26/14 - 1/1/15)

Here is a YouTube video of some of the Pictures we took...  Enjoy!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Italy Trip 2010

We visited Italy during July of 2010. View pictures from our trip to by clicking on the picture above.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wisconsin Weather

I have lived in Wisconsin my entire life. As the years go by I seem to enjoy the winter months less and less. Cold, wet and windy… I’m thinking a change is in my future.

Friday, June 22, 2007

My First SS1000

In May of 2001 I read a trip report by someone who recently finished his first Saddle Sore 1000 (SS1000). An SS1000 is the Iron Butt Association’s most basic ride. You must travel on a motorcycle 1000 miles in 24 hours or less and have witnesses and documentation to validate your accomplishment. I was amazed that anyone would put themselves through such a grueling ride and could not comprehend ever wanting to do such a ride myself.

In June of that year I was having dinner with a group of fellow Shadow Rider Forum members at a get-together at the Honda Hoot in Knoxville, TN. The subject of long distance riding came up and I started to talk about the Trip Report I had recently read. I remember telling those at the table how I would never be able to do such a ride given how I felt after my 2 day trip down to Knoxville… about 700 miles. I was in serious pain and couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to put themselves through that. I expressed my opinion that, “you’ve got to be nuts to even attempt such a thing.”

“That was my Trip Report you read…” came a voice from across the table. I think I said something like “What??? You’re that guy???”… Sure enough, I was sitting across the table from the guy that I thought was nuts. His name was Alan Leduc.

Ever since that day I wondered what it would be like to be able to ride 1000 miles in a day. I’m a large (i.e. fat) guy and my Shadow Spirit just wouldn’t be big enough for me to be comfortable for such a long stretch in the saddle. This year I was fortunate enough to take ownership of a Yamaha Venture – a bike that was meant for touring. Also this year, the Motorcycle Touring Forum was putting on one of their regional SS1000 rides in Wisconsin and my brother Mark was acting as the coordinator for the ride.

I looked over the website that was set up for the ride and studied the route that I would need to take for an out-and-back SaddleSore1000. It was 100% Interstate riding and I knew that my new Venture loved the Interstate. I thought about it and decided to go for it. I clicked the Register button and was signed up for my first SS1000.

I started prepping for the ride long before the event. I made lists of what I needed to bring along; made sure I had the mandatory stops programmed into my GPS; reviewed the route several times on-line; and used Google Earth to take a virtual ride once or twice before the day came.

The night before the Wisconsin SS1000 I made sure my bike was all setup and ready to roll out of the garage for an early morning start. Everything was set to go.

On the morning of the ride, I got up at 4:00 a.m.; made sure I had my fully charged cell phone, filled up my ice water and put a few bottles of frozen water in my saddle bag. I kissed my wife goodbye and she said something to me that I’m sure was very sweet. Unfortunately I couldn’t hear her because I already had my ear plugs in. I walked out the door, and I was off.

I got down to the starting point (Suburban Harley in Thiensville, WI) a little after 5:30 a.m.. After Bill Schneider signed my starting witness form and validated my starting mileage I headed off to get my starting receipt at the required gas station just up the road. I got my receipt, made the required entry in my fuel log, got my picture taken by Matt Milanowski and headed off on my ride.

The skies were blue and the temperature was perfect. I thought to myself… this is going to be a great day. It was - for about 3 hours. Then, as I approached the west side of Wisconsin, the skies turned an eerie grayish black. It wasn’t raining, but I felt like I was in the middle of something that was about to turn ugly. I rode a few more miles into hills that run along the Mississippi and then it happened… It was as if somehow I made a wrong turn and ended up going through an automatic car wash. I was getting drenched. Fortunately I was near an exit. I got off the interstate and pulled over to put my rain suit on. One thing I failed to do during my ride prep was to make sure my rain suit fit over my Joe Rocket Phoenix Mesh jacket. I was able to squeeze into it, but it wasn’t pretty.

The rain let up a little as I approached the Wisconsin/Minnesota border, but as I crossed over the river, the skies opened up again. The clouds were hanging low in the sky. I knew this would be the best scenery of the entire trip, but because of all the rain and the low ceiling, I couldn’t enjoy it.

At this point I discovered a problem that would cause me troubles during the remainder of my SS1000 attempt. The stock windshield on the Venture is way too tall. I needed to look through the shield, and with all the rain I was going through, it was like looking through Wax Paper. This was bad!!!! I needed to stretch to see around the left side of the windshield if I wanted to see what was in front of me. Fortunately after about 10 minutes I had passed through the worst part of it and was able to resume looking through my windshield which was now covered with a bug-splattered gray film.

At the start of the ride my brother told me that I would get extra points if I came back with a can of Spam from the Spam Museum in Austin, MN. This being an SS1000 ride and not a rally I knew that he didn’t really have the power to actually give me points but I figured what that heck, I’ll bring my brother back a can of Spam. As I neared Austin I watched for a billboard or some other informational sign that would tell me which one of the 7 Austin exits would bring me to the Spam Museum. Either I missed the sign, or they didn’t have one. I passed the Hormel plant and with it the exit that would probably be closest to the Shrine of Spam. I was able to get off at the next exit and tried to head back to where I thought the Hormel plant was. I got turned around and ended up in some sort of Downtown Days festivities in beautiful Austin. I maneuvered around the barricades blocking the street and luckily picked the right direction that brought me to the Spam Museum. I knew I did not have time to walk through the entire museum to get the full Spam story so I headed right to the gift shop.

Maybe it was because it was lunch time or possibly the fact that I was surrounded by everything Spam, but all of a sudden I had this incredible craving to eat some Spam. I bought a can of Hot & Spicy Tabasco seasoned Spam for my brother and a single serving pack of Turkey Spam for myself. As I walked to where my bike was parked I ripped open that single serving packet, reached in and grabbed that pale pink looking slab of slimy, gelatinous meat product. I took a large bite and instantly remembered why I don’t make it a habit of packing Spam in my lunch. I finished the entire single serving slab and was able to re-enjoy the flavor several times throughout the afternoon as an occasional burp would bring small pieces back into my throat….

I continued heading west through Minnesota. I made fuel stops when necessary and filled out my fuel log as required at each stop.

As I was nearing the South Dakota border, the skies were again looking bad. This time I found an exit and put on my rain suit before I got dumped on. As I listened to the radio, reports were coming in of heavy rains with hail and strong winds on the west side of Sioux Falls. I thought I was going to be OK since the turn-around point was on the east side of the city. I did get rained on but it wasn’t all that bad. I was able to get my gas receipt at the required stop in Sioux Falls and then decided to go into the store and buy a quart of Gatorade to cool off and boost my energy. Somehow I picked the wrong line at the Flying J gas station and found myself being waited on by someone who obviously did not like her job and wanted to make sure everyone suffered as much as she was suffering. The time I spent stuck at that gas station was long enough for the storms outside to start building into a Hellish Fury.

I got back on the bike and started heading east. About 5 miles into my travels I noticed lightning hitting all around me. I wasn’t getting rained on so I kept moving thinking if I could just get past the lightning I would be fine.

Soon it seemed like the lightning had stopped and everything was over. I was wrong. The wall of water I hit was unbelievable. I found it hard to breath with the updraft bringing sheets of water under my face shield. This was bad! The rain was coming from the right and then from the left. I felt small hail hitting me and it was impossible to see through my shield. Cars were pulling over and some were stopping in the middle of the road. 18-wheelers were taking this opportunity to use the left lane to pass everyone and blind them with the spray from their tires.

For a short while I was thinking that I should pull over but there was no where safe to do so. I kept going and after about 15 minutes I was finally out of the storm and heading home at freeway speeds again. What a relief.

I kept heading east and was surprised at how good I felt. The Venture was running great and I was not uncomfortable at all. The cruise control helped me keep a steady speed and the radio helped pass the time.

As I neared the Mississippi River I noticed that I was getting close to needing fuel. Unfortunately every exit I approached did not have any gas station signs. I was starting to get a little nervous but finely approached an exit that had a sign that simply said “Gas”. It did not mention a brand, but at this point I would settle for anything. I needed gas so I got off at that exit. As I approached the Gas station I could see two very old looking pumps next to a run down building. The price per gallon listed on the pumps said $1.19. I knew that I wouldn’t be getting any gas from those pumps. Right next door was a tavern. I went in and asked the bartender where the nearest gas station was. He gave me directions to a station 8 miles away. I headed down some country road and turned right here and left there. This was not good. I was hoping me reserve tank would be large enough to take me to where I needed to go. I made it to the gas station and noticed that is was right next to the interstate. If I would have just stayed on the interstate for a few more miles, I would have found that same station on my own.

I crossed over to Wisconsin and was now in familiar territory. It was now dark out and I was noticing several Deer Smears on the highway. I didn’t like the looks of that but I needed to push on and get back to where I started this ride so long ago. I kept alert and tried to follow behind an SUV with a lot of light illuminating both sides of the road.

Before I knew it I was entering Milwaukee. I got to my final mandatory fuel stop, got my receipt and finished my first SS1000 in about 18 hours. I got back to Suburban Harley, handed my brother his can of Spam and watched as Roger Barnes, Jim Szudajski and Bill Schneider validated my fuel log and receipts. That felt good!

Back in 2001 when I first read about Alan Leduc’s adventures doing his first SS1000 I never thought that one day I would be writing my own SS1000 trip report. I’m glad I gave this a try and happy that I was able to succeed.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Stay Tuned

I haven't been traveling all that much for work. As a result I have not had much time to kill sitting alone in a hotel room, and as a result of that, I have not added any new entries to this blog in quite some time.

I have a feeling that this situation will change in the very near future. I predict that a big change is going to be happening soon and I will either be spending a lot more time in hotel rooms all across this world, or I will be spending a lot more time at home. Either way, this should give me more opportunities to add additional entries to this most exciting blog.

Stay tuned for more information...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

This has no point

Warning… this entry really has no point. If you want to continue reading, go ahead.. but you’ve been warned.

I haven’t been traveling very much for work lately and as a result I haven’t had much free time in the evenings to add entries to this blog. It seems when I have nothing to do at night while on the road I tend to use my free time writing while sitting in my hotel room. (beats wasting a lot of time and money hanging out in some bar.) Since I’m currently at a point in my career where I’m not totally sure who my boss is or exactly what my responsibilities are, I thought it best not to blow the budget and take trips over to Detroit or England to do on-site support. I’m hoping soon those things will be worked out and I have some direction. Until then, I’ll continue resolving issues and trying to learn as much as I can about the next release of the system that I am responsible for implementing and maintaining.

Right now I’m at home. The TV is on in the background. My wife is watching something and doing the wash at the same time. The volume is pretty loud, but I’m able to totally block it out. I hear the dog down the hallway. He’s taking a drink from his bowl. It seems once he starts he keeps going until the thing is empty. After he finishes he thinks it’s his job to walk over to the first person he sees and rub his face on their leg… this time it’s my wife’s turn. She groans, I laugh…

I made dinner this evening. We had Rotisserie Chicken and baked potatoes. It was pretty good. Very moist and tasty. The rotisserie I have is just big enough for one chicken. With three of us eating we have enough. When there are four of us, I usually have to make some sort of extra side dish to fill us up.

Rotisserie chicken is my second favorite food. My first favorite is my Mom’s Cheese Torte. My mom has been gone for about 12 years now. I can still taste that Cheese Torte… it’s thick and sweet and oh so good… Patti tried making it for me once. It wasn’t the same, as a matter of fact, it was pretty awful. She tried and freely admits that she failed. My Sister in-law’s version is very close to my Mom’s. Usually on Christmas she makes one for the family. It’s really good. Patti always takes the time to tell her story of the one time she tried to make it for me.

In about 1 hour I have to go pick up Jamie from work. She has a part time job entering information into a database for Title transfers. It’s a boring job that takes skill and accuracy to do. Ryan had the same job before he went off to college. During winter break they’ll let him come in and put in a bunch of hours. He’ll need that to help pay for his tuition.

This weekend is the annual Cathedral Concert for the Symphonic Band. We are playing one piece that is pretty percussion intensive. I’m looking forward to that number. I hope I don’t screw it up and we can keep it together. Most of the other selections we are doing have some percussion… some of it pretty important, but not a lot of notes. It should be a good concert if everything comes together at the right time… which it usually does.

See, I told you there really was no point to any of this… Don’t you wish you had those couple minutes back so you could have done something useful?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Soup Run

Five years ago I started holding my annual Soup Run. This is an event held the Saturday after Memorial Day where I invite people I have only met on the Internet to my house for an afternoon of soup and socializing. These people come to my house in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin on their motorcycles from near and far.

The first Soup Run had 12 people in attendance. I thought it was an overwhelming success. People actually got on their motorcycles and traveled to a stranger’s house for soup. My wife and kids thought I was nuts…inviting total strangers and feeding them for free. I thought it was a good idea.

The second year it seemed like a lot more people were going to show up, but because of one reason or another many backed out at the last moment and only 13 people attended. I was pretty disappointed after that one. I worked so hard, tried to get people to commit to coming, prepared a ton of food and then so many people didn’t show. I thought hard about calling it quits, but my family, and an Internet post by Roger convinced me to continue on.

Roger’s post helped me to see that this thing was all about doing good things for others with out expecting anything in return.

Over the past few years the Soup Run has taken off. This was thanks to some word of mouth and postings on multiple motorcycle forums. Year three saw 60 people attend. Year four 70 people showed up and this year and amazing 110 people found their way to my house. Many more would have shown up if the weather forecast would have been better. Now, I think it might be getting too big.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do next year. My neighborhood might be reaching it’s limit and I don’t know if my neighbors are appreciating the fine display of motorcycle machinery that’s invading the neighborhood.