Home again

May 2nd, 2010

Well it was a hell of a weekend. We hauled ass to my mom’s house in Daphne, AL Friday night– me in the BigAss truck and Jodee in her car — so that I could meet up with the guy from TN that bought my truck on Ebay. Got there about 4AM, slept till 8:30, got up and had breakfast, met the guy with the truck, got the money. Cooked out ribs, drank better than half a fifth of Jameson, went to bed at 11PM.

We passed a good time with family and friends. I always have a good time at my mom’s house, and it was really good for Justin to get to visit with her and Buddy. It’s just too bad that the visit was so short.

Got up at 4:30AM, packed up the OL’s car, left out at 5:30AM for Temple, TX, home of Horny Toad HD where my bike was waiting with the new reman motor. Got there right at 4PM as they were closing, but that was OK. I had already called and the service manager had arranged for the parts guy to get the bike ready for me. He knew I was coming and would have waited if I was late. Paid him, got the bike and left by 4:20. (BTW, a VAS is a “Vehicle Attitude Sensor,” which I have always called a Cam Position Sensor — $170.) Went and fueled up and headed home. I noticed that the speedo only worked intermittently, and I suspected that there was a wire pinched under the tank. The 109 mile ride home only registered 57 miles on the odometer. When I got home I pulled the dash to look under the tank, and this is what I saw:

See anything wrong with this picture? Yeah, two of the four terminals have no nuts on them. I had no nuts of the proper size, brass or otherwise, (my nuts were too small…) and all the parts stores are closed. So, for lack of two small nuts, I’ll not be riding my bike with the new $3000 motor tomorrow. Has any HD shop EVER done a job right the first time?

I snapped a couple of quick pics. I’m going to bed early tonight, like as soon as I hit the “Submit” button. I still gotta put the “new” factory seat on that I got off of Ebay, and my new Maltese Cross mirror which is the same as the one I broke in my last accident. The handlebars still suck, but that will have to wait until after this summer.



BTW, notice that install job on the seat strap? Another fine piece of professional HD work.

PNW 2010 –The Route

April 28th, 2010

I’ve got my itinerary down. I thought I would go ahead and post it. It’s long and most likely boring to most, but there are those who have requested to see it. My thanks to my friend Tom for his suggestions and for giving me the benefit of his considerable experience traveling the west by motorcycle.

Day 1 – Nothing to see but the rugged Texas landscape on the way. Hwy 290 to Austin, 71 out of Austin all the way to Brady, then 87 through Big Spring all way to Lamesa. From Lamesa I take 137 to Brownfield where I will stop for the night. Overnight in Brownfield, TX at the Crystal Palace Inn, 806-637-2586 – 447.62 miles


Day 2 – from Brownfield, 82 west to Plains, then 380 to Roswell, NM. Out of Roswell on 285 north to Santa Fe. 285 joins up with 84 at Santo FE and at Española I’ll stay on 84 to Chama. Overnight at Vista Del Rio Lodge, 575-756-2138, near Chama, NM – 431.26 miles.


Day 3 – Head out west on 64, which turns into 160 when I get into Arizona. Just past the AZ line, I will make about a 6 mile detour north to see the Four Corners Monument, which supposedly sits on the borders of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, except that it doesn’t. According to my calculations, it bears about 211 feet at 148.6° SE off the mark, but close enough. So, I’ll stay on 160 until I hit Hwy 89, just past Tuba City. North on 89, take 89A at Bitter Springs. That will take me to Marble Canyon. I’ll overnight at Marble Canyon Lodge, 928-355-2225 — 388.22 miles.


Day 4 — I’ll ride around the north rim of the Grand Canyon on 89A, getting on 389 at Fredonia. 389 becomes 59 when I cross into Utah, then at Hurricane I’ll head due west on 9. I’ll hit Interstate 15 right around St. George, UT and stay on it for about 130 miles till I get through Las Vegas. I’ll catch 160 west south of Vegas and overnight at the Amargosa Opera House, 760-852-4441 in Death Valley Junction, CA. They say it’s a real dump. 408.85 miles


Day 5 – 190 out of Death Valley — about 5 miles before Keeler 190 heads of to the SW. I’ll continue NW on 136 to Lone Pine. At Lone Pine I head north on 395 and stay on it all the way through Carson City and Reno (obviously crossing back into Nevada.) According to Tom, “Hwy 395 is a bitching highway, follows along the East side of the Sierra Nevada mountains, very picturesque.” I don’t doubt it. About 64 miles north of Bishop, just short of Lee Vining, I’ll head west on Hwy 120 through Yosemite National Park. Past the park 120 meets up with Hwy 49 and I’ll continue on 49 all the way to Grass Valley where I’ll turn onto Hwy 20 and head into Yuba City, CA. I made this change because instead of overnighting in Susanville, I’ll be staying at my friend Hawgryder’s house in Yuba City. He has promised me a good time and I have no doubt of it. I have heard many legends surrounding his annual Hawgfest, though I’ve never attended. Google it — oh, and look at his snapshots, if you dare.

Anyway, he also promised to escort me out the next morning and help get me on my way. If my expectations are met, I may need some help. 

About 3 or so miles outside of Susanville, CA 395 turns abruptly to the east, but I will continue on my NW heading on 36 and overnight at the Best Western Trailside Inn, 530-257-4123 in Susanville,CA. 480.67 miles.

A long day at 531.41 miles — but seeing friends and a free night’s lodging will be worth it.


 Day 6 – 36 west out of Susanville till I get to 89, Hawg will get me on my way toward my next destination which should take me north on Hwy 70 towards Chico and Hwy 32 out of Chico until I run into Hwy 36 just west of Deer Creek. Then continue on 36 to Hwy 89 over Mount Lassen. I guess this is an old volcano that you can drive right over. Should be interesting… hope it doesn’t blow on me. I’ll turn NE onto 299 and at Canby, I’ll head NW on 139. I looks like 139 becomes 39 at the Oregon state line. I will continue through Klamath Falls, maybe stopping to look at Crater Lake if I can. Out of Klamath Falls I take 97 north, hugging the shoreline of Klamath Lake. I’ll continue north and overnight at Sugarloaf Mountain Motel- 541-330-5998 in Bend, OR – 413.42 miles.  469.30 miles.


Day 7 – I’ll head out on Hwy 97 going north. At Madras I take 26 north up to Mt. Hood. At Government Camp, I turn off onto 35 and go to Hood River, in the Columbia Gorge. I’ll get on Interstate 84 west for just awhile, and turn off at Cascade Locks, and cross the Columbia at “Bridge of the Gods.” (That sounds ominous.) I’ll be on Hwy 14 heading west. Tom says, “Be careful, it’s a nasty little 2-lane road. At some point — don’t remember exactly how many miles— the road is carved out of the cliff face. Be sure to pull over there for a stunning view back up the Gorge. If you miss it, turn around and go back, it’s worth it.” This sounds awesome. I’ll cross back over the Columbia River just south of Vancouver and follow the river (more or less) all the way to its mouth at the Pacific Ocean. I’ll cross what I think is Gray’s Bay at Astoria, OR and be in Washington when I get to the other side. I will follow Hwy. 101 up to Willapa Bay, (home of the world’s best oysters!) Then various other little roads and end up the day in Olympia, WA at Tom’s house. 420.7 miles.


The next few days are up in the air. I’ve got two brothers and an aunt living in this area, and Tom has promised to take me on some day trips to see the local sights. I think he may also ride west with me a ways when I head out, so I’m gonna give him the lead on that. Once I get to Olympia, I figure I can afford to stay in the area until Day 11, 10, at which time I’ll need to start the homeward leg. So that gives a solid three two days to see it all. I ought to be able to eat plenty of oysters in that time.


Day 11 – Hopefully I’ll have Tom as a tour guide for part of this leg but, if I’m going to stay in WA this long and stay on schedule, I’ve got to make it to my sister-in-law’s house in Kalispell, MT at the end of the day. Right now I have it planned as taking Hwy 2 out of Monroe, WA all the way to Spokane, then 290 to just past Rathdrum, ID and catch 95 north to Sandpoint. Or, I could just stay on Hwy 2 and it would also take me to Sandpoint. Hwy 200 around the north end of Lake Pend Oreille. Continue following 200 to Trout Creek, MT and find the Vermillion River Rd, which twists and turns (and changes names a few times,) until it meets up with Hwy 2 again near Logan State Park. A short jaunt from there and we will arrive in Kalispel, MT – 596.42 miles.

Day 10 — Tom will accompany me for about a day-and-a-half out. These are his stomping grounds, but it will probably go something like this: Hwy 702 out of Olympia through McKenna, south on Hwy 7 till we get to Elbe. East on Hwy 706 outside of Elbe to Packwood. Hwy 12 out of Packwood and we’ll stay on 12 for quite a ways. Around Pasco we will cross first the Columbia River, and then the Snake River where it empties into the Columbia. We’ll closely follow a big bend in the Columbia until just south of Wallula where 12 turns sharply to the east. We’ll keep on Hwy 12 and stop for the night in Lewiston, ID — 379.63 miles, and an additional day on the road added to my trip.

Day 11. Today should be a good ride. We’re going to be following Hwy 12 to Lolo, MT which means we’ll be traveling Lolo Pass. I think this is where there is a warning sign that says something like “Curves next 77 miles.” Anyway, Tom and his wife Nikki will split off for home at Missoula. If I’m lucky and the timing is right, maybe I’ll get to catch my wife’s niece Darah performing somewhere. After leaving Missoula I’ll head north on 93 all the way up and around Flathead Lake. I could stay on 93 around the lake, or I could take 35, I’ll see what looks good when I get there. I’ll continue on to 93 to Kalispel and end the day with 329.95 miles.

Day 12 – Leave out of Kalispel up Hwy 2 to Glacier National Park. I’m not sure if there are better routes through the park, but there probably are. I see that when I get to West Glacier there is the Going To The Sun Hwy, which I have heard of. I’m sure that I’ll get plenty of suggestions before I get that far. I had mapped out to stay on Hwy 2 all the way to Browning, but it looks like I could take the Going To The Sun Hwy to Saint Mary, then take Hwy 89 down to Browning. From Browning I stay on 89 south to Choteau, then angle SW on 287 towards Augusta. At Bowman’s Corners I’ll go almost due west on 200 till suddenly in the middle of nowhere, just before we cross Alice Creek, about 11.5 miles east of Lincoln, I turn sharply SE onto Hwy 279. Now, I could go a little further down the road and turn, just so I could say that I had ridden on Sucker Keep Cool Creek Road, but this Hwy 279 looks interesting, with a few little twists and turns before you get to Canyon Creek and continuing SE until I get near Silver City. Here I turn to the SW on Birdseye Rd., (no number, just Birdseye Rd.,) until I come into Birdseye and meet up with CR 356. Then it’s CR 356 to Hwy 12 just outside of Helena, MT. Hwy 12 goes to Townsend then turns sharply to the east, but I’ll continue SSE on 287 from there. Close to Three Forks I’ll jump on I-90 for just a minute (well, maybe a few minutes,) and go on into Bozeman, where I’ll overnight somewhere. I have a sister-in-law that lives there also, but I have not spoken to her. (Really, these really are all my sisters-in-law.) 386.58 miles.


Day 13 – Hwy 191 out of Bozeman, through Big Sky, cross over into WY somewhere in the vicinity of West Yellowstone where Hwy 191 becomes Hwy 20, past Old Faithful (I probably should stop and take a look, ya reckon?) Then at Duck Lake, (it’s not a town, just a lake,) 20 appears to end where Hwy 14 tees into it, and I continue south on Hwy 89. About 12 miles south and I’ll cross the Lewis River and will generally parallel it until it joins the Snake River, then I kinda follow it for a little ways. Anyway, I stay on 89 until I get to Moran Junction, then head south on Hwy 26. There I find the Snake River again (looks bigger on this part of the map,) and roughly parallel it through Jackson, then cross it about 9 miles south of Jackson. Interestingly, there is a Swinging Bridge Road just south of this crossing. Could this be THE swinging bridge of DCS08? I continue down the Snake River, crossing it again and leaving it behind as I head east on 191 at Hoback Junction. (Insert corny joke here.) I’ll continue on 191, which mysteriously becomes 189 after it crosses some yellow boundary on my map, which is not a state line, until I come about 6 miles outside of Fontenelle. Then I get on Hwy 372 and go south to Peru, (not that Peru,) then jump on I-80 for a minute to Green River where I’ll overnight at the lovely Super 8 Motel, 307-875-9330. 400.61 miles.


Day 14 – Today should be an interesting day. Today I’m going to see both Flaming Gorge and the Moab Arches. I’ll head out south on 530 all the way to the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. When I cross into Utah Hwy 530 turns into 43 and at Manila I’ll turn south onto 44. This looks like a nice little road which after a little ways meets up with Hwy 191 at….. somewhere. At Vernal I get on 40 till I get to 88 about 7 miles east of Gusher. I go south on 88 through Ouray, after crossing the Green River 88 becomes Seep Ridge Rd. From here things get a little fuzzy. I found this cool looking little twisty turny road that comes out at I-70 at Harley Dome, UT. But it forks off from Seep Ridge Rd. about 10 miles south of 88 and I can’t find any road name or any designation for it at all until it crosses the county line (for whatever county Harley dome is in,) and then it becomes Winter Ridge Rd. But anyway, after it splits off of Seep Ridge Rd., it pretty much follows Willow Creek until about 16 miles short of that county line. If I don’t lose it between where it deviates from Willow Creek (because there are TWO other no-name roads that DO follow Willow Creek from there,) and where it becomes Winter Ridge, I should be good. Then, Book Cliff Ridge Rd. runs into it and I follow that all the way just about to Harley Dome. I’ll have to find some memento from Harley Dome… too cool of a name. So, then I’ll jump on I-70 for a minute to Cisco, then take Hwy 128 to the Colorado River and I’ll run right with the river until I get to 191. I’ll take 191 and cross the Colorado and go to the Arches Entrance Road at Moab. It looks like there’s a couple of roads worth a few miles of exploring here. After leaving the Arches I will retrace my way back down 191 then go through Moab and continue on 191 until I get to La Sal Junction. There I will head west on 46 into Norwood. Having already seen two awesome natural wonders – the Flaming Gorge and the Moab Arches – I stop for the night at Norwood Inn – 970-327-4982 in Norwood, CO and call it a 402.61 mile day.


Day 15 – Been looking forward to this one too. Today I will head out on 145 to Ridgeway and get on Hwy 550 and begin the twisting winding climb to Silverton. Another twisting winding decent and I’ll be in Durango where I’ll get on Hwy 160. 160 will take me west to Pagosa Springs where I’ll turn south on 84. At this point I’m probably going to be in “horse smells the barn” mode and be focused on getting home. 84 down past Chama, NM where I spent the night on the way up, all the way to Santa Fe. Out of Santo Fe I’ll take 285 to Vaughn, NM where I will overnight at the Bel-Air Motel, 575-584-2241 – 427.47 miles.


Day 16 – Nothing happening here but beaming straight home – through Lubbock, TX, Snyder, Coleman, Brownwood, Lampasas, Taylor, Giddings and home. 656.80 miles on the day.


6.012.46 miles total and approximately 103:41 hours in the saddle, not counting day trips and site seeing detours. Of course, I’ll be listening for suggestion from those more widely traveled and possibly readjusting accordingly.



 Like I said, not real exciting reading but it will give you some idea of what is before me. Did I mention that I’m anal when it comes to trip planning. At least I’m not camping — now I don’t have to finish that spreadsheet with the average mean temps over the last ten years for each stop.

 I’m pretty sure that the posts from the road will be much more interesting.

Welcome to Norton’s World

April 24th, 2010

Hello, and welcome to Norton’s World. I started this blog mainly to chronicle my trip this summer. I’ll be riding my 1998 Harley from south central Texas, across New Mexico and Arizona, through Nevada, California, Oregon and on to Washington to visit family and friends. I will return home via Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, back through New Mexico and finally home to Texas. I’ve never been out west before, and I hope to document many natural wonders that I will be seeing for the first time. I’ll have my laptop with me so I can post from the road. I’m no stranger to long road trips by motorcycle but at 5670 miles round trip, it will be my longest.

I’ve been carefully planning for several months, and am now in the final planning stages. I originally planned to camp but decided instead to stay in motels. I’ll be 16 days on the road and I have a lot of miles to cover in that time. In fact, I have a litany of excuses for not camping but hell, “I just don’t feel like it” will have to suffice

My bike has about 78,000 miles on it, but it is fresh out of the shop with a newly re-manufactured, (not rebuilt) motor in it. After the break-period, I will install my secret performance modifications which will void the warranty on the factory re-manufactured motor. No matter, I have enough confidence in the Harley Evolution motor that I figure if it gets through the break-in period fine, it’s good for 100,000 miles. I would not have bothered with replacing the last motor if I had not had to deal with a previous owner’s error for the last 65,000 miles.  But that’s a long story… maybe we’ll get into it later.