Friday, July 31, 2009

The Eagle has Landed

Arrived at the point of debarkation at 4:15 pm today, which was the same place as the point of embarkation. The final trip was from Lander WY to Park City UT, was approximately 320 miles. I crossed the UT border by heading west, then traveled south, and then re-entering WY at Evanston. I stopped to see Lee, but really didn't get much chance to converse because he was busy with customers...but it was nice to talk with Rusty.

The final days travel was very pleasant while in WY, and the weather was exceptionally nice - very cool and not windy. I stopped to make a bike adjustment and a man approached me asking to take my picture...of course I obliged. There were many people that took interest in my travels, and I thank them for showing their curiosity.

As you can see from the picture, total miles traveled was 2,693.7, which was 6.3 miles short of the projected 2,700 miles. I could have rode to make it to 2,700, but thought that would have been a cheap way to finish the trip. Sorry for the lousy picture of the speed-o-meter, but it is sufficient.

I anticipated the final day of travel from the time I arrived in Lander WY - my final night on the road. When I arrived in Lander the weather was horrible, and it had raining from the time I departed Douglas WY. When I departed Douglas it was a whopping 48 degrees, and at times during my travel it sleeted. Being hit in the face with rain is bad, and being hit in face with sleet feel like bee stings. I purchased a full face helmet in Casper WY only because the one it took with me remains somewhere in SD. I thought I had it strapped down correctly, but lost it on my way to see Crazy Horse.

I also lost my log book used to keep track of all my stops / fuel / personal contacts / and ham radio contacts I made along the way. Fortunately I had back up copies of the ham radio contacts, and will be sending those who I made contact with a Discovering America QSO card. I would have lost my head had it not been permanently attached!

Would I do it again? It is difficult to be away from home for this long a time, but that is the price of adventure. There were days when I thought I must be nuts, and would much rather be home. But I had so many supporters from home, and those I met along the way, that I realized the trip was worth it. It was the support of everyone that made even the worst of days bearable, and give inspiration to move on.

Thanks to AYL for their coverage of my trip - what a superb presentation. And thanks to The Public Opinion (Watertown SD newspaper) for their story. And of course special thanks to my wife and family for being supportive in my adventure. And to all those who followed my travels, and made posts to the blog, thanks!

I must start preparation to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest ATV trip. It currently stands at 16,400 miles (give or take a few miles), and it will require a bit more planning - just kiddin'... or am I.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Help along the Way

I told Terry Hloucha, the owner of Action Motorsports Inc. in Gillette WY that I would give his place a plug. Action Motorsports set me up with a new belt, pulled both clutch assemblies, greased the bearings and got me back on road. His staff was very friendly and didn't give me a song and dance about being 10 days behind schedule. They realized my plight, and the urgency of need to get me back on the road. Kudos to such great people who put the customer first.

I need to tell you that I was thinking about trading in my ride for a Spyder, but common sense got the better of me. It sure would be a better ride home, but it would also have modified my trip enough that AYL might have had something to say. Besides, I figured it better to stay on track and finish with the same ride that I started out with.

Terry and Crew - Thanks!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Devil made me do It!

Today I hobbled from Belle Fourche SD to Gillette WY to have my ride repaired. I didn't mention that to change out the belt in the field required a bit a innovative mechanics, and as a result a piece of metal used as a bolt extension remained in the secondary clutch. The belt I had on board was a bit small (functional but small) which caused the belt to ride deeper between the plates on the secondary clutch. Sooooooo...$276 dollars later I had a new belt installed, and both primary and secondary clutch were dissassembled, greased, and re-installed. All systems are a go.

I was very nervious about driving nearly 200 miles with the mechanical issues, but I really had no choice. I should be able to make it home without any issues. Prior to arriving in Douglas WY, I stopped at Devils Tower. It truly is a wounderful site, and I am happy that I took the time and detour to make the visit.

I am currently in Douglas WY for the night staying at a KOA. I like to reside where other people are, because it gives way to conversations. As usual, many people like to converse about my ATV, and today was no exception. Mark and Susan from Springfield MO were interested enough that they followed me into the Devils Tower parking lot to ask questions. A half hour later we went our seperate ways. They were very nice to talk with, and I told them I would give them a plug for the Cursin '66 Cycle shop in Springville.

Tomorrow I hope to get to Lander WY, or further if time permits. I am not to optamistic about the weather, as I have heard that there was a 60% chance for rain. In fact, the 60% chance for rain applies to this evening as well. Oh well, will just have to work through it and make the best of it.

Will keep you updated!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

St. Francis's Secret Spot

We all have weaknesses.

Breakdown, Shakedown, it's Busted!

Woke up at 05:30 this morning and decided to get crackin', pack up and hit the high road. The mosquitoes were out of this world but were no match for the bug spray I was using. But they still won the battle because of sheer numbers. I packed up as fast as possible trying to minimize their presence, but they were like an itch on the bottom of your have to remove the shoe to get to the itch!

Departed the camping area and headed into Pierre for fuel and a couple bottles of choice of drink. Came out of the store and was approached by a local Can-Am dealer who was mesmerized by my ride. He was taking pictures with cell phone, but asked if I would stop by his shop so he could take pictures with his digital camera. It was on the way, so I accommodated after breakfast.

Now the reason for Breakdown, Shakedown, it's Busted! I was 56 miles east of Sturgis and I suffered a serious problem with the machine...I blew a drive belt. I heard what sounded like an explosion and assumed it was a tire that blew. I didn't feel any swaying on the ATV, which was a blessing, so I thought it was a trailer tire. Pulled over and check all tires, and as you might imagine, none were blown. I then looked at the shroud that covers the clutch and saw that it had been damaged, which meant that the belt broke.

I had a spare belt, but didn't have a metric expander for the secondary clutch to remove the old belt that was jammed in the belt sprocket and allow me to install the new belt. Two and a half hours later with the help of locals, the new belt was installed, but with an added mechanical problem. Drove to Bel Fouche, which is about 20 miles from Spearfish, because I was told a Can-Am dealer resides in the area.

I must admit that I am staying in a hotel for the evening hoping to find resolution to my mechanical issue in the morning. If I can't do what I think is necessary to resolve the problem, I will continue my trek hoping for the best. As of this evening, I have traveled 1920 miles, and really want to make it back home under my own power.

Will keep you posted!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Heading Home

I packed my equipment last night in anticipation for an early morning departure, and I packed as slow as possible. I can't wait to get back to Utah to be with family and friends, but I will be leaving family and friends in SD as well. Time went by much to quickly, as it always does when visiting. I did not get to see everyone that were acquaintances during my younger years, but it was expected given the limited time of my visit. Perhaps next time I will have more time to rustle up the remainder.

We made our final comments, took a few photos, and then I departed at 07:30 and started my way west. I remember how long it took to get to Watertown, and my trip back home should be equally as long, but I hope not as hot as it was coming out during my WY travels. Here are a few pictures I took today as I made my way west.

It has always been reported that pheasants in SD were much larger than in the rest of the world, and this photo is confirmation. Not sure what the farm animal is, but you are welcome to make a guess.

The Roadside Chapel is actually on the SD map. If my memory is
correct, it is located just before you get to Henry SD on highway 212. I almost didn't stop to take the picture, but realized that I would regret not doing so, so I turned around and went back to take a picture.

I made my way west into Pierre, the capital of SD for the night. I located my tent approximately 200 meters from the west bank of the Missouri River. The camp ground is very large and has accommodations that include showers and electrical hookups. I was hoping for more neighbors to converse with, but the weekend is over and the homesteaders have moved to greener pastures.

Tomorrow I plan on leaving early in the morning to beat the heat of the day. I plan on making it to Devils Tower WY and anticipate the trip to take 6-7 hours to complete. I just hope the temperature remains low. Will keep you posted on my travels.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

With Family & Friends

Last night gave a great opportunity for a silhouette picture and I captured this shot to the west. Shortly after this picture was taken the sky darkened and the night sky made its way in. The evenings have been quite cool, and the humidity has been has been quite comfortable even during the day as well. It has not been as hot/humid as I thought it would be, and certainly nothing like southeast Asia. Perhaps this weather pattern will hold as I make my way west tomorrow.

Early this morning gave way to fog that started lifting as I looked southwest towards the airport. It was quite cool and comfortable on the shady side of the house, and I suspect at this hour of the day it would be on sunny side as well.

Yesterday was spend with family. We started with nine holes of golf at the Country Club, went out to dinner and took in a movie. Time flies when having fun, and the departure set for tomorrow has come much to soon. Today I will take some time to visit a few friends that I have not seen yet while here - getting older and not sure when I might make it back this way again.

I would like to say longer, but I have to get back home and fortunately work as well. I look forward to heading west and spending a nights rest at Devils Tower in WY. While it might sound to be at odds with previous posts, I do look forward to Wyoming (hope to see a few customers along the way), as it takes me closer to home.

Will keep you posted as I make my way home.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Arrived in Watertown

I arrived in Watertown at 3:30 today (7-22), and it was a wonderful site as I crested Harmony Hill heading north on highway 81. It felt like this leg of the trip went the quickest, perhaps because I knew that I would soon be in my hometown. Despite having lived in Salt Lake City for the last 29 years, I still consider Watertown & South Dakota to be my home.

This has been a long trip, which has culminated in a total of 1432 miles to date. While there are more direct routes from Salt Lake to Watertown, I did have to make a few adjustments along the way that added to my mileage. I missed a few turns in Wyoming trying to find dirt roads, and a few detours on the highways all added to my mileage as well. And yes, during my travels I managed to miss a turn or two because I was enjoying the scenery - but I didn't get lost!!!

Will update as new information becomes available. I will be spending the next few days resting and enjoying the company of family. I plan to start my departure from Watertown on Sunday morning. You can also view the AYL segment about my trip on Youtube by searching for 2700 Mile ATV Adventure. My wife said I can aad a link, but I haven't figured out how to do it yet.

Thanks for all your interest in my adventure.

Till next time - chow!!!

The Black Hills

After 768 miles of travel I finally reached South Dakota. There certainly is a stark change in scenery between Wyoming and South Dakota, and the Black Hills make that immediately apparent. The sudden change from high plateaus of barren soil to full landscapes of pine trees has made the trip worthwhile. The smell of the trees was immediate, and refreshing.

I stopped at Jewels Cave for a scenic tour, but found out that I needed to go a couple of miles further up the road to purchase a ticket, and then return - I decided to bypass the cave and continued deeper into the hills. I stopped at one of the many camp grounds to reserve myself a spot for the evening, pitched my tent, and then headed out for a scenic tour.

My first stop was the Crazy Horse Monument. It is a marvel how the stone slowly metamorphosis from a mountain without feature to a distinguishable face. The size of the monument exceeds the size of the four faces of Mt. Rushmore, and will be a work in progress for many years to come. Needless to say, I won't be alive to see completion.

Moving on I took a stroll along Needles Highway which is a slow drive that winds through the pines. It leads to many a scenic views and vistas that draws you into to take a closer look. I stopped at Sylvan Lake which has memories that takes me back nearly 40 years. As a Boy Scout, Sylvan Lake was one of several camping locations as we made our way on a 50 mile hike through the hills.

The following day I stopped at Mt. Rushmore before continuing my trek to Watertown. When I arrived at the visitors center I immediately thought about the movie North by Northwest - those who know the movie will understand my interest in the cafeteria. The facility has had a dramatic face lift (so to speak) over the years, which has been a great improvement.

I moved on to Burke SD and arrived at 6:00 pm for a nights rest. Had dinner at a local restaurant (the only one in town) and headed to my humble abode - Burke Lake Camp Ground. Total miles traveled to date is 1154 miles. I was the only camper that night, which made for a very quite nights rest. A good rest is what I need for the final leg before arriving in Watertown. I had the pleasure of speaking with Dave (W4PBU) in Tampa FL on 20 meters for nearly a half hour - he was intrigued with my trip. Looking forward to moving on in the morning.

Chow!! I forgot to add a picture of Mt. Rushmore and I got some flack about it - rightfully so. I have others but this one seemed to be the best.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wyoming - There is beauty in all Things!!!

I figured I had better take a few shots along the way, even if there ain't much to take pictures of. I am sure that when I start my trek back through the northern part of the state it will be a much better picture story.

Finished yesterday in Newcastle WY. Not a very large spot on the map, but seemed a reasonable place to hang my hat before entering SD. Wyoming...indescribable, at least the parts I have seen thus far. There is a standing joke in my family about camping in Wyoming, and it is that no matter where you camp you will awakened by trains. Last night I camped adjacent to a major thoroughfare for trains. A train passed through on average every twenty minutes. The rumbling of the train is one thing, but I didn't need to be reminded of their presence by them blowing their horn.

I got up at 05:15, took a shower and brushed my teeth with a morning surprise - Cortizone 10 Plus! While it may be the itch medicine doctors recommend, it doubt it has been approved by the American Dental Association for use as a dentifrice. Well, at least my teeth won't itch!

I move into South Dakota this morning and look forward to seeing the hills again. I may have to spend a whole day/night there because of a slight change in plans, that allows me a bit more leisure time.

Will keep ya posted.

The Departure

Finalized loading at approximately 9:00 am at the point of embarkation, and headed out on this adventurous journey. What can be said about the Utah High Uinta Mountains that has not already been said. Stopped at Mirror Lake for a short break, took a few pictures and headed back out on the road. Goodbye Utah and hello Wyoming.

Wyoming...I don't want to say anything bad about Wyoming because I return next week. But truth be said, there really isn't much to see between Evanston and Riverton - but the people were sure nice, and inquisitive about my journey. I did make one discovery, one that I have never read about, and it must pertain ONLY to Wyoming - no matter which direction I was traveling, the wind was always hitting me from the side. If I made a turn into it, it somehow managed to turn as I turned. Truly amazing!!!

I depart this morning to Newcastle WY for a layover. I hope as I make me way towards SD the scenery will change a bit, and perhaps the wind will be my friend. Yesterdays travel rounded out to 412 miles...much more than I had planned for, but with detours and a few missed turns it was expected.

Well, I am off and will keep you posted. I will add pictures along the way.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Discovering America ATV Ride Ready for Airing

We finished the interview and filming on the 9th of July in Park City and Kamas UT for the AYL show. The process took nearly three hours to complete, and culminated in driving from the point of embarkation (the intersection of Highway 40 and Highway 32), into Kamas and return. The weather was excellent which made the experience even better.

I don't want to give anything away about the show, and invite you to watch it on Channel 4 @ 09:00 am, or 11:00 pm on the 19th of July. Steve and his accomplice (I apologize for not remembering his associates name) were a pleasure to work with. I will have departed prior to airing, so I won't get see how badly I performed on camera...but will watch it upon return.

I would like to thank AYL for taking an interest in my adventure, and thank Steve & accomplice for their kind words and enthusiasm about this adventure. See you on on the 19th!!

PS. I would like to thank Park City Towing for storing my trailer during this adventure...makes things so much easier!!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

2 Meter Communications Check

An integral part of the communications plan is 2 Meter ham radio. There are so many 2 meter repeaters it made sense to use this band as part of my general, and emergency communications plan.

I currently have 26 repeater frequencies programmed into the ICOM 2200H based on each travel leg. Today I completed installation of the 2M antenna (which is slightly visible in this picture) and completed a radio check. I don't remember the station call (my bad) but was informed that my signal was clean and I had no problem hitting the 146.620 Salt Lake City repeater from my location.

I hope this weekend to pull the Yaesu 450-AT out and try some contacts on HF (20M/40M). Yesterday I finally received all component parts to the BuddiPole antenna which will be my HF antenna system. I did set-up the antenna today (test only - no radio connected), and it took about 3 minutes to set up. It is without question an extremely easy antenna to set-up (I set it up in a Dipole configuration). I have had the pleasure of speaking with N6JKH who was using a Buddipole in California, and have subsequently heard several stations making contact with the same antenna.

When the HF Communications Check is complete I will post the results.

73 from KE7WUI

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Trailer Glory

Just a few pictures that show local emotional supporters for the trip.

AYL is a local television show that promotes and shares the adventures that outline Utah's vast outdoors.

Full Throttle is where I purchased my rims. Unfortunately I did not take notice of the product offered. I was excited to get the rims.

Advanced R.V. is a local purveyor for Arctic Cat ATVs and snowmobiles.

The Edge Motorsports offers Can-Am ATVs, and several other brands of ATVs, motorcycles, and snowmobiles.

UNI just happened to be the brand used when I replaced my air filter. They provided stickers in their packaging, so I added it to the trailer.

RR is Red Robin chain of restaurants. This sticker was provided by the manager from the Red Robin located in The District.

High Adventure is a local Can-Am dealer that has provided some advice on spare parts in preparation for my trip. Purchased my windscreen from High Adventure as well as the brake light on the rear of the trailer.

Infinite Cycles is a local bike shop. They offer a variety of bike styles, which includes a three-wheel recumbent that both my wife and I ride.

Drinkcoffeedogood...where we purchase our coffee beans - by the pounds!

D&D Toys can be found at the intersection of Bangerter Highway and 35th South. The specialize in scooters and other off-road adventure products.

KE7WUI is my Amateur Radio License call sign. I can be found on local repeater frequencies along the way during my trip.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Why in the World?

If you look back on man's achievements, and don't take them for granted, you will better be able to understand, and perhaps answer the Why question yourself. Consider for a moment the art of flight. When the Wright Brothers decided to build an airplane, I think the most often words emitted from the curious spectator would have been "Why in the World"! I could be wrong in my assumption, but it had to have asked at least once. And once was enough to invoke a stream of answers to the curious onlooker, who might, or might not understand.

On the surface, the answer to the question is - Why Not. When I am asked the Why question, it invokes a stream of answers; some based on the excitement of the flight, and some based on the emotion, the expectations, and uncertainties of the journey. It will undoubtedly be the only such flight I take, but I hope it invokes a litany of memories not only for myself, but for those I meet along the way.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Two Tin Cans and a String

Seems simple enough. That's what I thought too until I tested the contraption. There is no way to keep the string taught enough to get a good connection more than 27' in length. I was hoping for a patent.

That is why I opted for a communication plan that is a bit more simple to operate, and hopefully more reliable. Checking zone coverage for AT&T Wireless, and Verizon, indicates that both have their local strengths and weaknesses. I will use AT&T primarily for voice communications, and Verizon for Internet connectivity.

The communication plan calls for voice contact during each fuel stop, and during conclusion of each trip Leg. Blog updates will be completed at layover locations using a Verizon Air Card...hopefully during evening resting periods.

The third communication option is 2 Meter radio. I have pre-programmed my 2 Meter radio with 47 repeater frequencies that are aligned within 40 miles of the complete route. It is understood that not all repeaters listed in the 2008 / 2009 Repeater Directory are active, but there really is no way to know for sure. It is easy enough to switch between each frequency using pre-sets, which means I won't have to bring the book along as well.

For those who might be interested, I will attempt to make contact at each layover location using all repeaters in that locale. You can see where my layovers are by viewing Follow the Yellow Brick Road page. My call sign is KE7WUI. I would like to take the HF rig as well, but the antenna is a bit to cumbersome. 73s

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

People often look perplexed when asking how I get from Utah to eastern South Dakota, and back home on a ATV. The answer is simple - Follow the Yellow Brick Road. Understandably, they assume that my route must consist of back roads, unpaved trails, and four wheeling adventure spots that will all but destroy both machine and me. Reviewing the previous posting you will see the ATV has been modified: It has 14" rims and 205/75 R14 tires, making it hard surface road worthy.

Also, the machine is licensed for highway use (all the safety features a motorcycle has) which is the predominant surface that will be traveled upon. Utah has hundreds of miles of unimproved, rocky, mountainous trails that aren't fit for my hard surface tires, and conversely, hard surface roads are not conducive to standard knobby ATV tires. I decided that 4 rims / tires was much less an expense than perhaps 2 or 3 sets of standard ATV tires.

But the tire swap payoff is even greater. Hard surface tires are smooth, and can be balanced making for an extremely efficient and stable ride. Even better, they produce very little road noise unlike standard ATV tires. Also, gas mileage is greatly improved.

What is the route? Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota! Sure you want more information than that. Here is the condensed version - round trip and is listed in Legs.

  1. Park City UT to Kemmerer WY
  2. Kemmerer WY to Lander WY
  3. Lander WY to Newcastle WY
  4. Newcastle WY to Martin SD
  5. Martin SD to Watertown SD
  6. Watertown SD to Coleman SD
  7. Coleman SD to Pierre SD
  8. Pierre SD to Devils Tower WY
  9. Devils Tower WY to Shoshoni WY
  10. Shoshoni WY to Farson WY
  11. Farson WY to Vernal UT
  12. Vernal UT to Park City UT
What is the longest Leg of the trip? Based on the above outline, the longest is Leg number 8, which is 288.78 miles, and the shortest is Leg number 6 consisting of 52 miles. Legs, as outlined above, are simply a means of breaking the trip down into manageable components. They are more specifically used to help determine my location at specific times in the event that I don't communicate with home each day.

Want to understand the communications plan? Review Two Tin Cans and a String.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Test Drive

Today was my Test Drive. I put the 14" rims and new tires on the ATV and headed south to Highway 68 near Lehi, UT. After off-loading, I did a few preliminary checks to insure that all systems were a go, to include checking lug nuts.

This was a perfect spot to test drive, as the road speed limit is 45mph in the residential area. Traffic was lite, the skies were clear, wind was calm, and a wonderful 65 degrees. I started to head south on Highway 68 keeping me speed in check. The bike handled wonderfully, but I did notice some yaw on parts of the road that had been patched. Keeping a firm grip kept the bike in check and I soon felt comfortable even with the yaw.

Proceeded south and the speed limit changed to 55mph. While the speed limit for an ATV is 45mph in Utah, I moved to the posted limit to get a feel for the bike. Again, it performed flawlessly, and seemed to smooth out at higher speeds - the yaw disappeared. The ride was extremely quiet, and all I could hear was the hum of the engine and sound of the exhaust.

I continued south on Highway 68, and then headed east on Highway 6 to Santaquin, UT. I pulled into the local gas station for a fill up, and the conversations soon began. I was approached by five local gentlemen, with whom I spent nearly a half hour talking about my modifications, and planned trip to South Dakota. Each gave me their support; had a cup of coffee, and started towards home.

After loading the bike, I stopped at a gas station for a fill up. I wanted to determine what my gas mileage was, which I figured it had to be better than what I was getting with standard ATV tires. My average with standard tires was 24-25 mpg, but with highway tires it jumped to nearly 31 mpg.

My next test run will include the trailer.

That's it for today...will keep you posted.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

In the Beginning

18 July 2009 marks the beginning of a journey that will span 2700 plus miles. This journey is not your normal journey, it is rather an epic journey. Traveling from Salt Lake City, UT to Watertown, SD on a Can-Am ATV will take me through the 12,000' peaks of Utah, the flat Plateaus of Wyoming, and finally through the Black Hills of South Dakota. Continuing on, I will make my journey to Watertown for a few days rest, and enjoy the wedding of Dan and Julie in Colman, South Dakota.

I realize the trip is still two months away, but I find it necessary to get something posted. I am still in the logistical planning stages, and will continue to be for some time.

Switching out ATV rims/tires with new 205/75 R14 tires has been slow going, but a necessary evil. There will be a fair amount of hard surface travel and normal ATV tires won't last long. I am waiting for two more rims from Rocky Mountain ATV, and when I receive them I will mount them as well. I will post a few pictures when that task is completed.

Here is a cleaned up version of my license...scanned copy isn't very clean so I had to do some handy-work.

On the far right side you will see a list of Emotional Sponsors. I have sent several email contacts requesting support from additional / local businesses as well, and perhaps you will follow up with my request and send your stickers as well.

That's it for today, and will keep you posted on my planning.

For those who have sacrificed for it, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know. De Oppresso Liber!