In May, between hospital stays with mom, we did the Oregon 500 again. And again with
our friends Aaron and Jim (who are not related).
It was a very good ride through the Cascade Mountains and back to Portland, OR. And
again Kathy won a third place and I didn’t.
The scoring is average time and miles of all the bikes over the approximately 500
mile course, closest to the average wins. There are many more riders than passengers
so the competition is heavier for riders.
In June the plans we had made in January were to go to S. Carolina for the Iron Butt
Rally (IBR). This is a rally that covers about 11,000 miles (nearly 18.000 km) in
11 days. This rally is exclusive to long distance riders and by invite only. You
apply listing your experience and then they invite a selected group. This does NOT
include Kathy and I, but does include our friend Jeffrey from Australia. We had planned,
along with his wife, to support him in any way we could.
With my mother’s health problems this got canceled. This year the start was in S.
Carolina and the mandatory checkpoint was in Kennewick, WA which is a little over
a hundred miles from our home base. Riders were required to check in on the 5th and
7th days. We reserved a site at an RV park and joined Jeffrey in Kennewick. And it
was a good thing too. Jeffrey had rented a GoldWing from a guy in Georgia to ride
in the IBR. During the cross country ride, in terrible weather, the WindBender windshield
had come loose and broken. This is an expensive after-market windshield that we also
have on our GoldWing. So we swapped mine for his. Jeffrey had called the bike’s owner
and he was having a new WindBender shipped to the check point. We would install it
in 2 days when Jeffrey returned and get ours back.
During the install I had left the keys on in our bike and the battery was totally
dead. We tried pushing it but ended up having to get a jump from another battery.
This picture is by the IBR official photographer and was purchased from him. We are
now, unintentionally, part of the IBR record, even though we never entered.
We returned home to mom going into the hospital hours later. It is a good thing
we canceled our plans for S. Carolina.
Our next plans, made last October, are to go to the Albuquerque International Balloon
Fiesta (AIBF) in October. If you want to park in the RV parking on the festival grounds
you have to apply for a space in advance. The tickets go on sale 9 days after the
close of the current show. There are about 2,000 spaces and they sell out in 20 seconds.
We got one! Four nights at $100/night with no hookups. If you don’t get one you are
going to have to reserve at a regular RV park in town and drive to the Fiesta Grounds.
Traffic is a madhouse and backs up for miles!
With my mother’s health problems getting worse we are probably not going to make
it to the Fiesta. The money is paid and too late to cancel but she is our number
one priority and we comfort her through many days in the hospital. Her health is
declining quickly and it is obvious the end is coming. She has had a long and good
life and with the strength of her religious beliefs is comfortable with going to
God and her husband. She passed on August 30th. My brother and sister come up from
their California homes for the funeral and the memorial at her church. We handle
the legal items in her estate and we all get back to living our lives. It has been
a long summer but is only a small payback for the care she gave us kids while growing
For us that means the AIBF is back on the schedule. But we are again taking the scenic
route to it. This time we have the bike in tow. During the summer I had bought a
flatbed trailer and prepped it to hold the bike. I added a front wheel chock,tie
downs, jack stands to the rear and a storage box to the front. I’m not spending another
winter without the bike.
We start with traveling to Moab, UT and spending a week touring the local National
and State Parks. We camped in Dead Horse Point State Park.
The area is a large plateau that supported herds of wild horses. In the 1800’s cowboys
would drive them onto a narrow point and block the entrance with brush and trees.
One time after picking out the ones they wanted they didn’t reopen the exit route
and the remaining horses died of thirst within sight of the Green River.
The horses were stuck there because the sides of the plateau were a thousand foot
(300 m.) drop to the talus slope. The plateau is on the left with the Green River
in the canyon in the center right.
Canyonlands NP is part of this plateau. The plateau is in the top of a “Y” formed
by the Green and Colorado Rivers. This is NOT the Grand Canyon. (We’ll get to that
Nearby is Arches NP. This is Landscape Arch, one of many arches in the park. Some
you can walk up to, others are blocked off. This one was blocked when a few hundred
tons of rock fell from it several years ago.
We continued south through Monument Valley.
To the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
This is really just a side canyon to the Grand Canyon. The Colorado River runs from
left to right in the distance.
From here it is a straight shot across the Native American reservations to Albuquerque.
But we are a few days early. So we go to Madrid, NM. The name is pronounced MAD-rid,
not MA-drid like the city in Spain. It is an artist town that was featured in the
movie “Wild Hogs” about some bikers on a cross country trip. When we got there this
tour bus had driven across a deep dip/storm drain and got high centered on his rear
bumper. The fire truck is trying to pull him out and the car is trying to crowd through.
A real mess. The idiot bus driver should have seen the drain and known he couldn’t
make it! I’ve driven busses and I sure wouldn’t have tried it. Finally after being
pulled out he stopped crosswise of the road and slowly loaded all his elderly passengers.
Another 15 feet (5 m.) forward and we all could have gotten by. But then I already
said he is an idiot.
When we did get to the AIBF we were still a day early. And they have us registered
for only three nights, although we had paid for four and have the reservation paperwork
in hand. We compromised on four nights starting today.
Arriving early really paid off. We got a front row space overlooking the launch ground!
The next day there was a big group that arrived filling two rows behind us. There
are about a dozen rigs in each row and we are fourth from the left in the front row.
The chain link fence prevents one from tumbling down a very steep slope.
There are over 500 balloons in a variety of shapes and colors in front of us. We
can walk down and wander through the launch field with the thousands of other visitors
too. We did that but spent most of our time on the bluff. We are looking due west.
The field is in a shallow valley that runs north and south.
In the morning, before dawn, the “Dawn Patrol” takes off and checks out the winds.
During the early morning while the air is cold (near freezing each morning) the others
that want to take off. Often the winds are from the north low down and from the south
higher up. This allows the balloonist to do a rotation to the south, rise up, go
north, drop down, go south. This is called the “Albuquerque Box”. They can make multiple
passes over the field.
One can rent space to go for a ride in the “Rainbow Ryder” balloons. I didn’t ask
Many of the balloon are the standard balloon shape but one of the reasons we came
to the second weekend is that this weekend features the “special shapes” balloons.
This is a small fraction of the various shapes.
After sunset they have the “Glowdeo” when at intervals the pilots light up the burners
in their tethered balloons.
They also have a jet fighter fly-over, sky divers with fireworks on their legs and
regular fireworks. Click for a 7 sec. Video.
On the last day they had a mass ascension of all the balloons taking off in waves.
Here is a 30 sec. video of the mass launch.
After the AIBF we went to Las Cruces to spend a month.