On April 21 we departed the Adobe in the Big Bend to attend the Blitz to Branson, a BMW motorcycle get-together Voni and Jim Hair invented 15 years ago. Today, we arrived home at the Adobe, 24,054 miles later. In between Voni bought one bike and traded in one bike, and we sold two others we had parked in Kansas, by advertising them on the the Internet.
Our travels took us (in no particular order) to British Columbia, Alberta, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and of course, Texas. Please notice that, as Paul promised himself, not once did we venture east of the Mississippi River.
We spent several days visiting with son Mike in Kansas and with daughter Melanie and our grandsons Noah and Brody in Iowa; visited friends or other relatives in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Washington; and attended BMW rallies in Missouri, Alberta CANADA, Oregon, and New Mexico. Otherwise we mostly rode and camped in the mountains except when weather, whether high winds, extreme heat, or nasty cold, drove us to a motel. Rain we just missed for the most part or we camped in a little over night drizzle anyway.
We each got our annual physical exams, saw the dentist, and got new glasses. We used up all or the better part of 6 or 7 tires. We each bought new riding jackets. Paul bought a hoodie with a skull on the back to keep his neck warm in the sleeping bag at night. Voni bought some red shirts.
We spent almost two weeks in the Rockies in British Columbia and Alberta, and much of the rest of the summer in the Rockies between Montana and New Mexico. We also sampled the Great Plains going to and from Kansas and Iowa, and spent time in the Black Hills in South Dakota and the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming. On reflection we are unsure whether the day it was 107 in Lawrence, Kansas, or the day it was 104 with 44 mph crosswinds near Chadron, Nebraska, or the day we rode in crosswinds gusting to 59 mph near Rawlins, Wyoming was the worst. We also have not figured out whether the Canadian Rockies, the northern U.S. Rockies, or the Bighorns were the most fun. That is probably a tossup. We plan to go back for more research.
Parked in front of the Adobe, Paul's R1150R now has 153,629 miles on it, and the front tire is worn out after 18,757 miles, making it the longest life front tire that bike has ever seen. It is also the only tire he haa ever had in 700,000 miles riding BMWs that is more worn both sides of the center than it is in the middle. That is a testament to riding day after day, week after week, on curvy mountain roads.
When she picked it up in Bentonville, Arkansas in May Voni's new-to-her F800S had been ridden just over 8,000 miles in its three-year pre-Voni life. She has since added just under 20,000 more miles to its odometer. It needs another tire too! Or two!
If arriving back home wasn't special enough, today was also the day Paul logged his 700,000th BMW mile, exactly 16 miles north of the Adobe, looking over at Santiago Peak, a Big Bend landmark. That is almost exactly 200 times the annual average mileage among members of the American Motorcyclist Association and 70 times the annual average for BMW MOA members. No wonder boots, jackets, helmets, and other riding gear wear out so fast.
To put that number in perspective though, yesterday Voni went over the 960,000 BMW mile mark, which is a whole quarter million plus a little more miles than Paul. Paul almost always rides in the front when we ride together. Voni explains that the least experienced rider should go first.
Unfortunately the African antelope sometimes found grazing along that stretch of highway were nowhere to be found for the obligatory photographs Voni took of Paul holding up 7 fingers.
In our absence our recording thermometer (which Paul reset when we left) registered outside temperatures of 45 degrees for a low and 111 for a high. The house which had been closed up was 89 inside when we arrived but cooled well with one window air conditioner running. Tonight's forecast low of about 62 will finish the cooling job once we open the windows and doors to let nature cool the adobe walls both inside and out.
We plan to be home mostly for the next few months, although we do plan to go to a rally over by Houston, a long distance endurance rally at Los Lunas, NM, and the Veteran's Gathering at Deming, NM in the next couple of months. Other than that, we think we'll just ride our motorcycles - once Paul changes a few tires, changes oil, and does a few other routine service items.
There's no place like home.
Paul AND Voni