Our new baby lemur!!
Our fund raising has just topped $2,000 on our way to $5,000.


north to alaska

There has been a lot of prep going on for this trip. Scooter maintenance is done. Route is planned. Bags are almost packed.
Now, just waiting for Cinco de Mayo to celebrate my departure.

starting milage
May 5 St. Pete to Dothan  373 mi.

The lead up to these spring fling rides is the same every time.  I spend more time planning than I need to just because I look forward to the ride so much and this keeps me in the dream. By four weeks before I go everything is done including all the scooter maintenance. The last two or three days I spend pacing mentally and physically because I am chomping at the bit  to ride. There are the same emotions every morning the trip begins, excitement, anticipation, anxiety.  This one had a little more anxiety as I was leaving during the rush hour. I have ridden in heavy traffic a lot but that does not mean I like it.
I kissed the cat and hugged the wife and headed out at 7 AM under clear sunny skies. The first 16 miles took about 40  minutes.  This was the usual stop and go traffic on I-275 across Tampa Bay. Once that was cleared and I turned north the traffic thinned out. Up the Suncoast Expressway the traffic thinned to almost nothing on my side of the four lanes.  It was like that most of the day. Almost nothing on the four lanes of US19 to Perry. It was not until I got close to I-10 did the traffic on US231 start to get busy, but not heavy.
I met a lot of motorcycles headed in the opposite direction most of the day. At lunch at Savannah’s Restaurant, “The food is really good” they say, which is interpreted as “all you can eat buffet”, I talked to the Harley riders and found out there had been a big motorcycle gathering in Panama City over the weekend.  I think they killed about four and this group had two riders go down on I-75 in the rain. Fortunately for me it is not raining.
I rolled into Dothan AL about 4 P.M. to Capt. Gary’s and Miss Evelyn’s house.  Gary had just rolled in from Panama City where he had done his annual drug testing for the Navy, or as he calls it, going “boating for dollars.”  The bad part about this visit is their guest room was full of scooter parts, so they made me sleep out side in the “dog house”.  We went to the Blue Plate Café for dinner, and the food fits the name. It was good and when it came time to pay I offered but Gary, ever the southern gentleman (though borne a yankee), said“absolutely not”. “You can buy me a dinner in Alaska,” knowing that it would be twice this price.  Then he reached for his missing wallet.........he was a tad embarrassed when he looked at Evelyn who smiled sweetly and said “I did not bring my purse”, then to me and said “I guess I am buying you a dinner in Alaska”. 

along the way...
ready to ride

a sleepy goodbye


tampa bay

I-275/howard franklin bridge

i always stop to pay my respects to the king

i occasionally stop at the dakota winery. they make a pretty good wine

owners max and john, father and son. they started in 1984

west on us-98

"you're going where on this little thing?"

the sign of good food in the south-"buffet"
capt. gary and evelyn

The U turns.....


these were hanging around the place

Lawrence was walking south about 3 miles south of Chiefland. His wife was cheating on me in WV so I am headed to Eustis to stay with friends. I rode the bus to Georgia where I ran out of money and I have been mostly walking since then.

Dothan to Tallahatchie Flats 400 mi

After making my way through Dothan and Enterprise with their rush hour it was smooth sailing the rest of the day. A great combination of roads today. Everything but dirt roads, though I had one of those programed in the GPS unbeknownst to me. I had four lanes down to no lane roads. The smells were great. Well, except that one sniff of cow poop. There was lots of sweet honeysuckle, pine sap from the trees being harvested, cut grass, fresh tilled dirt and just plain fresh air.
I almost dropped Big Red turning into a gas station. It was in rural Alabama in the middle of nowhere at a large truck stop. It was all gravel except at the pumps. I was turning off the highway and the gravel at the edge of the road was deep. With the wheel turned it wanted to keep turning and I wound up doing the one legged dance for several steps until I got it going straight again.
In Louisville I rolled up on tornado relief operations. There was a lot of damage in a confined area along the highway but I was told it was pretty broad in other areas.  When I stopped at a unmentionable fast food place to take a break, they gave me a drink in a can as they were still having to boil their water.
I rolled into the Tallahatchie Flats motel, in the middle of a field, 3 miles north of Greenwood, Mississippi,  about 6:30. I was the only guest and they close at  4, but they left the door unlocked and the key in my house. However, there was a gentleman there taking pictures. He came over to say hello and I found out he was the local dentist but does commercial photography also. We had a great visit. He gave me local history and tips of where to go and what to see. We shared the stories we had both gotten from unassuming people. I told of the old man sitting on the side of the stream fishing in the hills of Virginia who had a great story of being a captured German POW in WWII and sent to Crossville, TN and all that involved. And of his life around the world but coming back to the USA to retire as they “had treated me the best in my life”. He told of a older retired patient who kept his offices' attention for an hour as he told of his life as a prison guard and of being part of the execution team and leaving that to work with the K9 division of the state police. 
We said our goodbyes and Big Red and I sat on the very quiet front porch drinking a beer as the sun set and a 400 mile day ended on a very quiet night.

The ride......

you can't miss capt. gary's house

capt. gary's garage. that is light reflection on the scooter not scratches 

am i there already?

rush hour

hank's house

a new meaning to rail road

morgan and her sister graduated from culinary school about the time the lease on this convenience story became available. they have been running it for three years and  hope to open a deli.

"ugwees" is a name she and her sister made up and named the store that
i saw a lot of these signs. you can pass a law for the NRA but not for the people.

louisville, ms tornado damage

The U turns.....

i drove this exact helicopter over vietnam many years ago. now i am driving a little scooter on the ground. 

i came back to visit with mr. harrison after i saw him working with a push plow. i operated one of those in my youth in the family garden. he is 87 and still pushing the plow. "I ain't come far" in those years he says.

the curtain, brighter in real life, caught my eye as i rode by

after discovering the hurricane damage i came back to talk to Jon Walker. His group and many many more, both non-faith based and religious groups were set up to help. His group was from danville va and the food kitchen was from chespeake va.

The evening......
400 miles to the dot. that is a long day.

Tallahatchie Flats to the Shack Up Inn  73 miles

Every since I stopped at the The Corner B&B ( ) in 2010 in Vicksburg, MS the delta has been calling my name.  At first I thought the frozen margarita that Macy handed me in Vicksburg after riding in over 100 degree heat was the hook.  But that was not it. This is my third trip here in as many years and I have strong feelings about it. Maybe because there is so much history here and really it has not changed in 100’s of years. I could quote facts and figures about the state's poverty etc. but that does not explain the pull here.  Last night helped me understand it though.

The Tallahatchie Flats are old share cropper/slave houses moved to this location.  Their spirits are still there.  I am no “woo woo” man, as I call it, but if it happens, I do not judge myself or others. So here goes. About 9:30 when I was in bed I heard people talking though I could not make out the words. I actually got up to go see if I had left the radio on that I had been listening to. It was off and I went back to bed. Let them talk if they want I decided.  At 1:30 I came out of a deep sleep because I heard two knocks on the door.  Being in the country alone caused some caution, but I got out of bed and went to check out the window on the front porch. It was empty.  I waited a few minutes and opened the door. Big Red was there and no one else. I went back to bed and it took a while to get back to sleep as my mind was whirling around the spirits. I was up early and sat on the front porch watching the sun come up.  I could feel and hear the people coming out of the shacks in the twilight as they went off to work in the fields. Judge me if you must, but I just report what I hear and see.

Today was a monumental day.  I really wish I was a better writer so I  could convey all that happened today in a few paragraphs. In fact, I could do a whole book on today if I had followed all the trails. Sadly you will have to settle with what I can do.

Back to the report. I awoke early and sat on the front porch and watched the sun rise. The only noises were a few birds chirping, the sound of an occasional car that you heard approaching in the distance and getting louder until it passed and faded away. The train whistle in the distance and the sounds of the trains click clacking along. It was heaven.  At 7:30 a new noise was added.  The sound of a turbine powered crop duster off in the distance diving down on the fields and then pulling back and doing it again.  This is all music to my ears. I sat there for two hours, just refilling the coffee cup. The staff came in around 8 and about 9, I wandered over and met Zelam and Tabatha.  I told Tabatha the “spirit” story and I thought she was looking at me odd because of the story, but when I finished she said “I know” and began to tell me her stories and those of others. Every story was true to the person telling it. She asked that I not put that on Tripadvisor and to please take some of them with me if I wished -  especially the guy in the red house as he just caused problems.

A big John Deer came down the drive and out popped Floyd. I offered to let him drive Big Red if I could drive the John Deere. He said “ you are welcome to the John Deere, but I ain’t getting on that thing.”
We had a group conversation and they all decided I need to stop into WABG  960 AM just around the bend. So, on the way to town,  I rode Big Red up to the small building and walked in up the steps into a very, very small studio and John Poe was sitting there. He was expecting me and immediately picked up a microphone and said “tell me your story”.  I was amazed that there was still a disc jockey working 24 hours a day.

WABG-960 is a amazing story. WABG is a little 1000 watt station trying to almost single handily save the blues in this area. Poe himself has a amazing history. He is in fact a former ATC controller but his passion has always been radio and the blues.  He worked in Thailand during Vietnam as a part time volunteer announcer for Armed Forces Radio on his time off from the tower.  Unfortunately he was cut from the same cloth as Adrian Cronauer played by Robin Williams in the movie "Goodbye Vietnam" and got fired for telling the truth on the radio. He went on to 23 years as a controller, DJ’ing the whole time.

When this little station came available he jumped at the chance and bought it.  It is a very very tough row to plow, as they say on the plantation.  With little money and advertising getting harder and harder to find he presses on. Besides the blues he takes local issues head on.  This does not sit well with the long established hierarchy in a race and class conscious Mississippi. His passion for this cause is enduring and all consuming. I am in awe of him and Beth who he has recruited to help him carry the banner.  My hat is off to him with great respect and I hope he continues to carry on with his cause. I will be back.

I rode back to the Tallahatchie Flats. On the way I met one of  the owners, Mr. Whitaker, about a 5th generation plantation owner.   I stopped in to visit the grave of Robert Johnson believed to be the first person to ever record the blues back in the 20’s.  Tabatha and I decided Robert is the one that came to visit me last night. She gave me a big hug and I was off.

We rode the back roads up to Clarksdale and the Shack Up Inn. It is another collection of slave shacks and a old cotton gin turned into a hotel. I visited with the owner for awhile and we caught up on all that was new since last year.  I like his business model. If something causes trouble he just eliminates it from staying at the Shack. This year he added pets and children to the no stay lists.  His clientele is mainly international adults and people where just letting the pets and children get out of hand, so out they went. He is adding a restaurant and I met the new chef/manger.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
I headed downtown Clarksdale to  the Yazoo Pass Bistro, about the only place to have dinner that is not fried. There was a guitar player on the side walk entertaining with a group of about 10 listeners. I went in and sat at the table and ordered a glass of wine. Melissa the waitress said they could only serve beer, but told me I could go around the corner and buy a bottle wine and bring it back. So off I went.

I never made it to the wine store. On Wednesday afternoons around the corner from the Yazoo Pass the “Dysfunctional Family” has a happy hour. The group consisted of about 10 to 15 lawyers, doctors, hospital CEO’s etc.  One of the great things about the delta is the openness of the people and the next thing you know I am sitting with them telling them of mine and Big Reds big adventure.  I was offered repeated fill ups of the wine glass, but sadly I had to decline.  After pleasant conversation and a group photo, I bid them a fond adieu and headed back to my table at the Yazoo only to find that it had been cleaned off.

Melissa quickly replaced the set ups and I was back in business. I ordered the pan seared red snapper with garlic spinach and it was excellent. It was a little difficult eating as a continual string of people came in and sat down to hear my story and invite me to lunch/dinner/breakfast etc. Through the big windows in front of the restaurant I watched people get up from the music, walk over to Big Red, point to various parts and go back and sit down only to get up with someone else and walk back over.

Melissa is a teacher from Washington State and works at the Yazoo three nights a week. In Washington you have to have three years experience before you can get hired so she joined Teach for America and was sent to Clarksdale, MS. She has stayed on for love and graduate school. She too felt that living in Mississippi was going back in time. When graduate school is over she plans to return to Washington State. Hopefully true love will go to.

Oh yea, I almost forgot. While at the Shack there was a knock on the door and there were three beautiful women. To bad it was the wrong room. They were great people and agreed to pose with Big Red. Dad walked up in his sheriff's uniform and big gun. They were a great family and fun to visit it with.

So, that is the down and dirty. There was a lot more to talk about and report but this is the best  I can do. My writer friends, that is you Helen and Karen, probably could have done more justice to today. Hopefully pictures will add some definition to the day. This was an unusual day with all the encounters, but all of it is what brings me back to the Delta.


poe and beth

mr. whitaker

this mississippi

and this mississipi
the dysfunctional family

patti, willow, alison and will rooker
The shack up inn

The Shack to Branson Mo  323 miles

I left the Shack at sunrise with a beautiful orange sun peeking up through low level clouds. It would have made a great picture to share, but it seems I am the only person I know who can't get a good deal on EBay.  The camera batteries I bought are crap and the one I just put in off the charger is dead.

Just as well, today is a haul ass day. There is major weather coming to Branson by early afternoon. So, this was a Cannonball day. Riding hard, but safe, no stops except for gas, no bathroom visits and no U turns.  The roads were great through the Arkansas hills.

We rolled into Branson a 1:15 and the rain started at about 2. By 3 it was a frog strangler.

Why I needed to come here I don't know but I had always heard about it and decided to check it out. Some people exclaimed how great it was and others said don't bother.  I now am in the "don't bother" camp. 

Branson to Manhattan KS 348 miles

Big Red and me bounced out of Branson just after 7. The weather man said it would rain and he did not lie even though it looked good. About 20 minutes into the morning out came the rain gear. Fortunately I did not get poured on but lots of places did and water was flowing over the road in the hill area. The twisty road was in the wet so we took it easy.  By 10:30 as was good and away we went. The skies became clear and the temp cool. Today we went for miles and the a lot of the ride was on limited access divided four lane.  Mid-day we were on long rolling two lane roads as straight as Kansas. The desire to put miles behind us is, believe it or not, we wanted to reach the plains and then slow down.  Riding a scooter across Kansas in May in 70 degrees is so much better than riding a scooter across Kansas in July in the 100’s. We rolled into Manhattan KS about 4 and called it a day.

Along the way.....

lunch a chez scoot

road or eye test

The U  turns......

Lee. She is not a traveler as I thought but the best I could tell lives in a group home, maybe, and has been abducted or is waiting to be abducted by Aliens.  Or she is just a Kansan.

huh ???

Manhattan to Broken Bow, NE 310 miles

Big Red and I maneuvered out of Manhattan. The weather guesser said no rain but they missed by a few drops. That quickly passed and it was a clear beautiful day with temps climbing into the mid 80's.
Nothing to report as there is nothing in Kansas. I never ever need to ride across Kansas on anything again. Ever. And while we are at it, why do these people get two Senators? I ask this because if you turn on a TV for 30 sec's you will see 15 political ads on how “If you vote for me, I will kill Obamacare”. Every candidate, every party. I guess only Fox news waves reach this far. I don't care what you support, just get a new one. This one is old. Besides, rural Kansas has less people than there are in the county I live in, so I just get part of their Senator.

Rolled into Broken Bow, NE to the last hotel room in town. I had called ahead. I learned in my past adventures when you get out here where rooms are few and far between you better have a plan as the next stop could be a 100 miles away. Often it is construction crews, but this weekend was high school graduation. One of the three big weekends in Broken Bow. 1. graduation, 2. county fair and 3. a town on the 300 mile yard sale.

big red right in the center of the USA

who knew this would be relevant this time of year

May 11 Broken Bow 0 miles

Due to the weather forecast west of here, I decided to take a lay day since I did not bring my tire chains. I had walked to the City Cafe, but it was closed for graduation, so I took Big Red to Tumbleweed for a late breakfast with everyone else in town.. The temperature has been falling all day and the light rain started at noon. East of here they had hail and west the snow is moving in so I am sitting in the room with the heat on, drinking a little grappa and staying warm. The hotel was full last night, but tonight I am the only resident.

Vicki always makes t-shirts for these long adventures. This year she and Melissa of Big Fish conspired to have them made up without me having even the slightest clue. Until I went to make up some of my own shirts and stuff, and Vicki's tone on the phone let the cat out of the bag.

I love these t-shirts but I went to Goodwill in Manhattan and bought some throw away ones.  I did not even see the back of this one until I put it on and someone pointed it out to me. It is a keeper.

mike works the front desk at the hotel. he and i sat around talking about music artists, especially the old masters of rock and blues.


Kikeli, a critically endangered Mongoose Lemur with her new infant!

This week Kikeli's new infant is starting to climb around on mom a lot, and is reaching out to one year old brother, Silvio, and dad Felix.

Silvio and Felix are both very interested in the new addition to their family group, and have groomed it while on it holds onto mom.  Kikeli is being a good, protective mother and only allows the males brief contact with the baby.
Recommended Breeding Pairs:
There are currently 65 Mongoose lemurs housed at Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions.

The Species Survival Program (SSP) recommended 9 breeding pairs in 2013, including 2 housed at LCF.  
Mongoose Lemur Conservation Status:
In the four years between 2008 and 2012 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) increased the conservation status for Mongoose lemurs from vulnerable to critically endangered.
The IUCN and the Species Survival Commission organized the Lemur Red-Listing and Conservation Planning Workshop in July of 2012. Participants met to review the status of all 103 lemur taxa.

Their publication, 'Lemurs of Madagascar: A Strategy for their Conservation 2013-2016,' by Schweitzer et al, states that " With almost 94% of all lemur taxa (for which sufficient data is available to enable their assessment against Red List criteria) now classified as being threatened with extinction, this status review indicates that lemurs are probably the most endangered mammal group worldwide."  

Broken Bow to Helsey NE 62 miles

I awoke at 5 AM and had coffee and watched the AgReport. Did you know that Tom Lovitt sold his 8 foot John Deere drill for $7,700 at auction? Heck, he only paid $3,300 10 years ago when he bought new.
Around 7, I walked down town in a mix of light rain and snow with a temp of 40 degrees.  City Café is everything you would imagine a small town diner to be. I got all the latest news. Custer County commissioners will meet and consider a new liquor license and do their quarterly tour of the jail. The Broken Bow city council will meet at the same time, different location, and consider lots of things;utility bill assessments, a bond ordinance, purchasing of a grader by the street department and Ted Trotter will make a presentation about air quality as well as quality of life and health of residents of Broken Bow.
I also found out that tomorrow is the primary elections, thus the flood of negative political ad’s on TV.
About 10, Big Red and me blew out of Broken Bow.  It was cold, damp and windy.  None of that really bother us.  Not long we were in moderate snow and that did not bother us.  When we saw ice hanging off the bottom of the road signs, that concerned us.  When my visor started icing up and I had to keep wiping it off with an over gloved hand, that really concerned us.  So after just 60 miles we called it a day. Saw no need in challenging the elements when this is not the Cannonball and time was not of the essence.
Halsey is the town crossroads that had the first lodging that I came to. Halsey Frontier Inn is the place I chose, mainly because it was the only choice. It is clean and comfortable even with the shag carpet.  I went to the Double TT Bar and Steakhouse across the street for lunch.  You would never know that it is there if someone did not tell you.  Rita has been running it for over 40 years and sadly her husband died a few years ago and it is now hard work as she is the only employee. So from cook to clean up is her job.  But it is a friendly and not overly busy place. When I walked in, Wayne, his ranch hand James and Marylyn invited me to join them for lunch. It was a fun lunch with lots of local color.  Rita talking about who cannot come in any more, Wayne telling ranch stories, James telling stories about “torch” as Wayne is known, and Marylyn adding color commentary.  “Torch” is considered the best welder around, but he says that is not true.  People say that because he is the cheapest which means usually free. I found out the fun time around here is June 7 when around 150 people come to Wayne’s ranch, did I mention he is 5th generation, for branding.  People come from far and wide, including neighboring states, to brand the 400-500 calves his cows have in the spring.  That is a lot of birthing.  Stories were told of the time Wayne left his wife and sons to do the calving and he went on vacation. They just kept calling him to come home, because he found out when he got back they were having a spring just like this one, but with more snow. 
I had a long talk with Ed who has owned the Inn for about year.  He was a bit agitated as his insurance rates had gone up “because of his increased income”. What?  How did they know his income and why would that matter?  Beats him and me.  Ed was a cowboy for 15 years but it came time to do something else with his life.  He sold all his horses, cattle and equipment and became a Inn keeper.  So far it has been good to him and his wife and three boys.
I returned to the Double TT for a huge chef salad for dinner.  There were four people having dinner with Rita and her nephew came in later. He is a part time cowboy and cowboys a grader for the county.
After dinner the girls played canasta and the men went next door for Texas  holdem’ poker. Lots of stories were passed around the card tables.  One that came through was they were all fed up with all those damn negative, “lying” ad’s that I have been subjected to.

I thank them all for making me feel at home.
see the well marked city cafe

the ice on the wind screen is just like the ice on my visor

they are not big on signs for cafes here

that is wayne through the foggy lens in the double tt

this game was a lot more fun than the poker game

Halsey to Hill City, SD  301 miles

What difference a day makes. When I opened the curtains there sat Big Red basking in sunshine under clear skies. I walked over to the Double T while the sun melted the heavy frost off of Red’s back. Rita was busy so I helped myself to the coffee. It is that kind of place. After doing morning chores she came over sat down and we visited for awhile. Then three middle aged men, all dressed for work came in. No, no coat and ties.  I said work.  They sat  at“the table”. The one that every small town has at it’s local restaurant.  Wayne had held court there yesterday, the ladies dealt cards there last night. The men helped themselves to coffee and Rita introduced me. Shortly another man came in with a box of donuts and sat down.  I should have guessed he was the politician having brought donuts on primary day. The conversation was about the weather, my travels, their travels, locals and how they were doing, work and politics. John is a county commissioner and I think to win all you have to do sign up. They can no longer vote in Halsey and you have to drive to Thedford to vote. I do not know if it is gerrymandering or as Rita says there are not any people left here.  Their county, like most of the central U.S., has a declining population. Seems the only people I met who have moved to the plains state are retires moving back home. When asked by Jim if she was going to vote Rita said, “I can’t. I am a democrat and there is no one in the primary.”  I exclaimed in joy to find one of my people here in the middle of the plains.  Jim said “be afraid, we know where all five of you democrats live”. The conversation covered families and mainly cousins.  You know the cousin, we all have one. The ner-do-well that is shunned by the sane part of the the family.  I told the group that the table is usually occupied by the senior members of the community. Rita said “we ain’t got any”.  The only old persons are Jim's father and mother, 97 and 92 respectively. Still living at home, still cutting his own grass, and rides his three wheel bike down to the Double T. When he gets ready to leave he says “I have to go, I left my motor running”. 

While the Republicans talked politics, Rita and I talked of her life with Lee, her husband of 42 years before he passed away two years ago, about the best way to make chicken fried steak, about Merlyn  who had gone back to Broken Bow and more. Lee and Rita had a good life here at the Double T in the many many years they owned it together. She asked if I had eaten at the Tumbleweed in Broken Bow owned by her cousin and I said yes.  She said they had breakfast at the Tumbleweed after drinking all the bars closed on their wedding night.  As for chicken fried steak she said “my momma told me never cover up your food if it is good, so I don’t put gravy on mine”. Merlyn was a long time friend and had worked at the Double T for years and had come to town from Broken Bow for the weekend to help Rita prepare for Mothers Day.  It sounded like hard work, but a fun time for two old friends working hard in the kitchen.
I got up to go and asked how much the coffee was.  “fifty cents” she said and she quoted a newspaper article about the Double T, “eat your heart out Starbucks”.
Click here fo rthe newspaper article on Double T.

Big Red and me hauled out of Halsey about 9 headed west on Nebraska 2 with a river of water on the left and a river of coal in trains on the tracks to the right. At bit cool and breezy but not uncomfortable under the blue skies. The whole ride all day was up hill. We started at just under 3000 feet and ended at 5,500 feet. At noon we arrived in Alliance, NE our destination yesterday. I had researched on the internet and found a coffee shop. I walked into Newberry’s, in a old saddle making building, and saw my savior for today.  A barista named Sara. With all due respect to the Double T I needed a triple shot latte. They also had a something not fried for lunch. A chicken cordon bleu sandwich with spinach and I chose a spinach salad with strawberry and almonds for my side.  I slowly ate lunch enjoying every bite and then saddled up and headed north on US385.
Just outside of Alliance is Carhinge.  I discovered Carhinge via Story Trek a great show on BYU-TV where the reporter wanders the country knocking on doors and getting people’s stories. Right down my alley. Click here for Story Trek
We ended  a great ride in Hill City, SD just around corner from Mt. Rushmore and called it a great day.

ed, big red and sunshine


jim, cousin of james, trent, thayne, son of wayne and john

barista sara with her effiel tower 


no "welcome to SD", just a slot machine

i think this guy and his posse came through my house. in fact i am walking in their boots  

Hill City to Hill City  103 miles


Hill City to Billing MO  343 miles.

So, have you ever had a hotel manager call you up and say they enjoyed your visit that they sure would like to see you stay another day.  I now have. But, I out found out later that Brenda does that with a lot of her customers.  After climbing up to 6000 feet to Deadwood we descended down out of the Black Hills to 3,500 and the high plains.  Today was just a ride along long roads. There was some traffic, mostly cattle trucks, aggregate trucks, and lots of pickups with cattle trailers. The pickups were lined up on the highway at a cattle auction house outside of some almost abandoned town that looked like all the rest of the towns. By noon I was alone.

All I wanted was a damn margarita!! That should not be a challenge. In Hill City I went to their Mexican restaurant and ordered dinner and a marg. Two of the worst items I have ever had.
So, in Hill City, after going to my scheduled hotel and finding two school buses full of kids in the lobby and changing hotels I went in search of a marg. First the Mexican restaurant. Nope, no alcohol, go next door to the casino. Yes, but not just a straight marg. One with anything from Lysol to strawberries, but not a marg. Off to the sports bar. Hooray they had one. Not so fast. It had so much sugar in it it made my teeth hurt.  I went home and went to bed.

brenda kissing me goodbye

lisa was the first person to take my senior pass for the national park service at the little big horn

i did not know but should have known that the little big horn was mainly because the US wanted the indian's land because it had gold on it and they would not sell it.


Billings to Helena MO 302 miles
It was warm enough for me to hit the trail early this morning. There are gucci coffee shops everywhere and the first stop was Rock Creek Coffee Roasters in downtown Billings and a triple latte. Thus fortified, I was off in the light drizzle. Today was like all the other plains state days, long, straight roads and little or no traffic.  A couple of ex-towns and a couple of Native-American towns and the sad state of squalor that too many of them are in.
i am making sure there are road signs in the photos now lest you think i am using the same one over
Until I came to Harlowton. It is almost an ex-town but it was something grand at some time looking at the architecture.  I turned left down the main street for about four blocks to the old grand hotel now standing derelict. 

Back at the main highway I was about to turn left and head on down the road when I noticed that just to my right on the corner was a coffee shop. I thought about it for a minute thinking “I have already had a triple”, but "what the hell". A coffee shop in this town is a mystery in itself and I had had a shortage of gucci coffees this trip so in I went. I sat enjoying my $3.75 coffee when in walked Larry and Nick.  We struck up a conversation over Big Red.  Quite quickly I learned that Nick owns a fully restored 1972 Norton and through that I learned that, amongst many talents, Larry is a motorcycle mechanic. Nick and I discussed the VA and our treatment.  Mine good, his, to say the least, not so good.  He then asked the very important question, “are you disabled?” When I replied “no” he looked at Larry and said “see, I told you.”  He then explained what he meant.  If you are in good health and require no real service from the VA other than an annual check up you are fine.  But, if you are disabled,  he went on to explain, it is not so great. From talking to him, I feel he is not a person expecting something for free from the world.  Just good service, which he has not had. Operating on the wrong leg I think qualifies as an example of poor service. When we finished beating that horse Larry says, “I have a Indian Scooter, want to see it.”  I think I sounded tongue tied as I tried to get out “yes please, pretty please, yes, yes” but all that came out was “sure”.  “And I have a few other motorcycles you might like to see” he says. 
larry and nick
So, first we walk up the street about half a block to a large building. Now let me set the picture here. This is a town that life has left. Everything looks like it has been abandoned. This building was a little better than the others.  So we walk in and here is what we see.....

 Then, when we are done there he says come on back here....OMG.......

both sides were lined with bikes all the way to the back of the building

Ok, go down the hall and turn right......
nick and his norton

 Lets go out the back door.  We are going to that garage over there.

“I have a few more and the scooter if you want to go see them” he says....well YEA!!!  So, we get in his truck and drive down to the end of Main street to a old slaughter house.  Inside he explains what it was with all the overhead cranes and rails and what he has done to it and is working on.  Then we go into one of the old meat lockers.  There it was......... 

In 1962 Indian Matchless marketed the Papoose 150cc SCI in North America. "Hydraulic shocks front and rear - 12 inch safety wheels - real brakes - Matchless steering - precision built 150cc motor - 3-speed transmission - all packaged in deep drawn fenders and fairing for maximum protection. Lush two-tone colours as standard."

the engine mounted under the floor board

larry traded a john deer tractor for this one

individuals stored their meat in these lockers. now parts are stored in them
After seeing the scooter and more motorcycles we went on a town tour.  The town was named after the president of the Montana Railroad which later became part of the Milwaukee Road railroad. From here west Milwaukee used electric trains that were built in WWII for the Soviets by GE but never delivered.  The train company was in and out of bankruptcy starting in 1928 and ending in 1977 when it folded. The railroad gave the city all the land and buildings, the station, the round house, and the work shops.  They also gave them a polluted ground water system. During the operation of the shops they dumped thousand of gallons of diesel on the ground.  It is now pumped out on a regular basis and trucked to Texas.
I left Larry thanking him for the experience and headed west once again. A few miles out of town we moved south about 4 miles from US12 and had a great ride through the high plains on MO294 all by ourselves.

john used to breed border collies but no one would pay, so he switched to full size poodles that sell for big bucks.  he says the two he keeps are just as good as border collies working cattle.

At the end of the day we rolled into the Carolina B&B in Helena.


Helena to Clark Fork ID 302 miles

Sometime yesterday I decided I wanted to stay in a Bed and Breakfast, so I googled it on the Smart Ass Phone (SAP) and found Carolina B&B. Being a Carolina boy in my youth and most of my family still   living there I chose it.  I called the number and talked to the very pleasant owner. She was driving but she knew she had rooms just not sure which ones and could she call me back. I told her I was driving also and if it was ok I would just show up at the front door in a hour or so.  She said she that would be fine and she would inform Pat the Inn Keeper that I was coming. The Carolina is a big old huge house with I don’t even know how many rooms. It is across the street from the old Governors Mansion, to give you a idea of the neighborhood. Pat gave me the downstairs room so I would not have to drag everything up the stairs and I settled in. I popped the cork on the wine and starting reading and writing and planning.
Later I inquired if I would get to met Colleen the owner that I had spoken to. Pat replied “Oh, I don’t think so. She lives in Alaska.” ????? What.  Long story real short. Colleen is from the area. Colleen went to China and had a business there that she sold. Came back, moved to Alaska with her husband. Bought this big old house probably cheap, but never lived in it. Rented it out but somewhere along the line converted it to a very stately B&B. She has family in the area but does not live here. And the name is not related to the state at all. Pat was not sure but she thought it might be associated with Colleen's daughter who is named Caroline. Odd but very interesting. The place was busy with roof repairs and setting up for a 60 person wedding of one of the local chef’s over the weekend.
There were several guests I met but I got to know Sven Larson. He grew up in northern Montana and still owns a farm there, but with no house. He is retired from the Park Service and is now a fellow traveler. At the moment when he is in the U.S. he stays in a small room at the Carolina. We talked for about an hour last night and again over breakfast this morning. He, like me, loves South East Asia. We decided he was in a rut and needed go someplace new, maybe Columbia. He goes to Denmark for several weeks every other year to visit relatives. He, like me, goes to experience the people and “moment” more than the tourist sights. At our age as travelers, you have seen enough. What you have not seen live, you have seen in documentaries or read about in National Geographic or other places. Don’t get me wrong, there are places still to see and revisit, but just as high on the list is sitting in a street side tea/coffee shop in Hanoi or Paris and watching real live action.  Maybe we are old and lazy.
After a hearty B&B breakfast Big Red and me headed out of Helena. Today was “we get to where we get to today”. Our only check point was an aviation museum in Missoula and sadly we did not find it.
With a mixed bag of traffic from none to lots of Subarus, we headed up into the hills on a beautiful day. It was a great ride with some of the most stunning scenery yet. I think the stunning part was the sun and blue sky. You can have the “Big Sky” give me the “Sun Sky” any day. By noon for the first time in over a week I started peeling off layers and by the end of the day almost all the layers were gone.
It had been a fun ride stopping and enjoying the views along the way.  I had one of the best hamburgers I have ever had a few miles out of Missoula.  The owner was doing everything by himself  as one of his cooks was in the hospital. A friend of his stopped by and he immediately put her to work. Fortunately the place was not very busy, but by 6 he said it would be packed but he would have a staff of 7 by then. I talked to a elderly gentleman at a gas stop for some time. He had just been in the hills playing with his snowmobile and pointed way up on top of mountain where he had been. “Still eleven feet of snow up there.”
Traveling along the Clark River I started seeing lots of fishermen and No Vacancy lights were coming on, so I decided the first lodging I run into in Idaho I would stop . So, when I rolled into Clark Fork, Idaho fortunately the Clark Fork Lodge in Clark Fork was the place I came upon. A nice clean motel with a recently new owner, who like most small hotel owners, was doing everything from maintenance to room cleaning. Got me a big beer from the local gas station and settled in for the evening.

sven larson at the carolina b&b

i thought this was a mosque but it is the helena convention center

white pelicans

Clark Fork to Spokane WA 182 miles
I awoke to beautiful skies and moderate temperatures. Kelly the motel owner gave me a fishing rod and some worms and I went out and caught two trout just like that. I put both of them back but one died because he had swallowed the hook. At the same time an osprey also caught a fish next to me.  I stood in warm sun in the parking lot talking to Kelly and Kurt and Diane Ward, nouveau-ranchers from Montana,  about my trip, their trip, some politics and life in general.  Kurt and Diane, handed me there address and said “we would love for you to come by” and headed out over the mountain. Kelly went back to work and Big Red and me left town.
It was a nice ride along Lake Pend Oreille to the town of Sandpoint.  I cruised around the “downtown” looking for a Gucci coffee shop. I passed a pristine Vespa with a dapperly dressed gentleman on the sidewalk  behind it and I could tell he was the owner of the Vespa by the expression on his face as he saw me ride by. I circled the block to further investigate.  I parked next to the 2009 Vespa GTV, a copy of Big Red but in the classic style.  Rags and his wife Barbara are the owners of this fine low mileage machine.  After visiting for a while Rags invited me to breakfast. I passed but once getting on the road I decided I may be passing a big opportunity to interview a very unusual person...and I was hungry. A U turn and back to Di Luna and took Rags up on his breakfast offer.  Rags is one of  people I do these rides hoping to meet. He lived in Hawaii for 22 years, owned Rags Mercedes repair, ran out of places to see on the island and moved to Sandpoint, ID. He runs a very unusual garage. You bring your car and he helps you repair it or lets you stand and watch or get in one of his canoes- it is a water front garage next to his dads house- and canoe while he works. It all makes for great bonding with the customers. He has had over 100 motorcycles in his life and at the moment rides a 2011 Indian. One of those big heavy things with cruise control. But better, he has designed a pull behind trailer for the Vespa. The smart part of this trailer is how it connects to the scooter. Rags, besides being a mechanic, is a traveler, philosopher and all round knowledgeable person.  I greatly enjoyed our breakfast and the exchange of thoughts and ideas on the world. We said our good byes and I hit the road.
Some times we make wrong choices without even knowing it.  Of all the wonderful places to stay for the last night on the road I chose Spokane. I booked a room in the downtown area at a very upscale hotel with a greatly reduced rate, but when I arrived I did not care for the area at all. Closed shops, though it was Sunday, lots of homeless people and just not a uplifting place. So, I aborted and went back to the Holiday Inn Express on top of a hill next to downtown. At least I will have a view I thought. However they must have had gold plated faucets by the price and I said no thanks. So I said the hell with it and headed to the Hampton Inn near the airport as I figured I knew what I was buying in to. All this in on and off rain. The Hampton was in the middle of nowhere. There was not even a McDonalds within 5 miles, so back to town I go. I now had made up my mind and I rode with dogged determination to Oakwood on the northern edge of town that I had come through a hour ago and checked into the Quality Inn, went next door to Walgreens and bought a bottle of cheap Vodka and called it a day.

kelly and kurt

rags and the vespas
his big ride

not taken today

Spokane to Wenatchee WA. 172 miles 

For the last day on this part of the journey the sun was out and the  temp’s were moderate, but still cool enough for two layers. Getting out of Spokane was much easier than yesterday when I had to stop at all the lights.  Today for rush hour they all seemed to be green.  A pleasant journey across the plains with little traffic and by noon I rolled into to Wentachee to the Upper East Side Coffee company, a fine gucci coffee shop. Right shortly Ed and Jet rolled up. Ed and I go way back to the Army and college together where he met Jet.  Ed retired last year from flying helicopters in the Gulf of Mexico and Wenatchee is as far away from Louisiana as they could move. Mark Patterson, Jail House Doc, rolled up on his Vespa right behind them. We sat in the sun an talked for a hour or so, then Ed had to get back to his gardening (so we could go drinking later) and Mark and me went to his house to see his collection of motorcycles and scooters.  He seems to have two of everything, two Vespas, two Honda scooters, two motorcycles, and two cars. He was off to a meeting and I continued up the hill to Ed and Jet's house.

jail house doc

The Intermission

Well, that is the end of leg one. Big Red has gone in for fine care at Doghouse Motorsports and in the fine care of Ed and Jet when he comes out. I am on an airplane jetting my way back to NC to spend time with Mom who is not doing so good at 94, but still as determined as ever.

I will fly back to the fine city of Wenatchee on Monday and head for Alaska on Wednesday May 28 and the blog will begin on the 28th or the 29th. There will be a few changes when I come back. I will start writing under the “Oh Canada” page that will be added. That is for those that are scroll challenged. On the “Where I Am” page it will now be displaying the official Scooter Cannonball tracking map. It will show the location of every participant in the Cannonball that has a tracking device and display their number. My number, if you have not guessed, is 59.
jet and ed watching over big red
The riders with trackers:
#3 - Maroy
#5 - yanobobano
#8 - cochid
#12 - 4n6iscool
#13 - Kraken Master
#21 - Tomkellyiii
#22 - Feb31st
#24 - monkeybutt
#29 - Tupelosue
#41 - wleuthold
#59 - lostboater
#61 - teacherquinn
#75 - chucklestx
#89 - Wire89
#96 - old as dirt

Enjoy your holiday and we will see you next week. Remember, as Rags says "Life should be an adventure"........

Please remember to help the Lemurs.