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  1. #1

    Iowa City to Billings

    Let's see, where do I begin? I suppose I'll start with the rough route: Eastern Iowa to Billings, MT for the MOA BMW Rally. Three other fellers and I left Eastern/Central Iowa on Tuesday, 7/21 with the goal of getting some miles under our belt that first day. So, we super-slabbed it over to Kearney, NE where we camped at the Fort Kearney State Rec. Area. Nice spot with ample space and a stand of Boy Scouts firewood just outside the campground.

    Starting out in Iowa City.

    Pit stop in Lincoln, NE.

    Campsite in Kearney, NE.

    I took more pictures of our bikes on this trip than anything else!

    Day 2 had us start out with a burnt out light bulb on a GS. After breakfast (and time spent looking for someone’s lost keys that ended up in their pocket!), we found an auto parts store and did the bulb replacement in the parking lot. Man, so much easier to do on a GS than on my RT. After the bulb we were on our way north out of Kearney up to Hwy 2 and to the Sandhills of western Nebraska. Hit a spot of rain for a few miles, but beyond that, perfect riding day. We meandered our way up to Custer, SD and camped for the night.

    Do you need a high powered semi-automatic machine gun with that ice cream bar? Um, OK. Welcome to the wild, wild west(ern part of Nebraska)?!.

    Taking an historic break in Ellsworth, NE.

    Carhenge, north of Alliance, NE. OK.

    In Chadron, NE Gearing up for our last push into the Black Hills.

    We farted around in the Black Hills on day 3, taking pictures of Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse. My GPS got messed up and routed us up to Rapid City for a (hot) detour (it was totally my GPS's fault, no user error at all, nope, not at all). We took I-90 for a bit over to Sturgis and then down to Deadwood/Lead. Then the roads got twisty and fun. We got down into Wyoming and then turned NW to head to Devils Tower. Very cool looking. Much different in person than in pictures. Time was running short and our goal of hitting Billings that day looked harder and harder to achieve, so we decided to hit the Interstate (again) and hole up in Sheridan, WY, promising a short ride the next day into the rally.

    Obligatory shot of Mt. Rushmore.

    Obligatory shot of Devils Tower.

    Say, who’s that handsome devil (see what I did there)?

    Friday, we rolled into Billings for the Rally. The rest of the day was spent just walking around checking out the vendors, eating, and getting some adult beverages under our belts; you know, the important stuff. That’s what the Rally is all about, right?

    Welcome to tent city, Billings, MT.

    Continued in next post...
    "Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue..."
    Current ride: 2012 R1200RT
    MOA #175432, BMW RA #41108
    MSF RiderCoach

  2. #2

    Part 2

    Saturday, I’d had enough of the Rally scene so one of my travel partners, Colin, and I took off for the famous Beartooh Pass. Other riders had told us we definitely needed to check out the Chief Joseph Highway (WY 296) after we did Beartooth and I’m glad they did. Wow – amazing road and fantastic ride! I liked it much better than Beartooth and it wasn’t nearly as crowded. I highly recommend that road, if you’re in the area.

    Up to Beartooth.

    This looks a lot different than Iowa!

    More of the ascent to Beartooth Pass.

    At the top.

    Me doing my best Fonzie impression. I think I got it down.

    Colin and me atop Beartooth. It was COLD.

    The view from the Chief Joseph highway.

    More of the Chief Joseph.


    My rear tire after a day of Bearthooth and Chief Joseph. Chicken strips almost gone! Nice!

    Sunday came and it was (already) time to pack up and start the trek home. My riding buddy from the day prior, Colin, and I decided to head home together. The other two guys had other plans so, after breakfast, we said our good-byes and headed out. Colin and I decided to ride the Chief Joseph again on our way down to Yellowstone. It was as fun as the day before, even loaded down with all our camping gear! After about an hour wait to get in (in the rain), we were greeted with the awesome splendor that is Yellowstone. We spent a good part of the afternoon just riding through the park. Traffic was crazy, but it was still a very enjoyable ride. Lots of wildlife – bison, moose, deer. We didn’t see any bears, though. We exited Yellowstone and continued south through the Grand Tetons and into Jackson where we camped at a nice (but expensive) KOA right on the Snake River. We had a late dinner at this awesome restaurant called The Bird. If you’re in the area, check them out. Great food, fantastic beer, and a super friendly staff. They even stay open late for us – as I think they felt sorry for us!

    A quick stop in Yellowstone – of course, I take pictures of the bikes instead of the spectacular scenery!


    Have I've shown you a picture of the bikes yet? Parked at one of the Yellowstone visitor centers.

    Yellowstone Lake.

    Long shadows in the Grand Tetons.

    Sunset over the Grand Tetons.

    I overslept the next morning (thanks for letting me sleep in, Colin) and we went back into Jackson for some grub before our push further south and into Idaho, Utah, and Colorado. After grub and gas, we finally got on the road about 1:00pm! Not soon after leaving Jackson, we hit some big time rain that eventually turned into sleet/hail for about 2 hours. Miserable and cold. We pulled off at a gas station to warm up and dry our gloves a bit (I stupidly pulled my waterproof gloves out of my tankbag before leaving, “I won’t need these!”). We thought our day was going pretty badly until we chatted with a few Hardly riders from San Francisco headed up to Sturgis. It appears that one of the bikes had that new-fangled keyless start feature. Some 120 miles back, at their last stop, the rider fired up his bike and took off. It wasn’t until he stopped here that he realized he left the key fob on his back seat. Since the fob was in the vicinity, the bike started fine and he took off. However, somewhere in that last 120 miles, the fob fell off and he was unable to get the bike started again. Of course, this was on a Sunday and hundreds of miles from any Hardly dealer. No fun. Made me happy my bike was "old fashioned"!

    My own private stream, leading into the Snake River, south of Jackson, WY.

    The good news for us, though, was that the rain finally stopped and the temps started to creep out of the low 40s (where they were for the entirety of the rain storm). So, we hit the road and meandered our way into Idaho for a bit. When we got back in to Wyoming, the sun was shining and the temps were back into the 70s – perfect! Well, not so fast. Wyoming’s a bit infamous for its high winds and today, the state wanted to show a couple of Iowans just how Wyoming likes to roll. Holy ****. I’ve ridden through a lot of heavy winds in my day, but this stuff in Wyoming is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It was like a living being. A few times it felt as if the wind was coming from the ground up, lifting my 600+ pound bike and 240+ pound body into the air. It felt like I was losing contact with the ground. It. Was. Insane. My wrists, fingers, knees, and butthole hurt from gripping the bike so hard (yes, I was actually utilizing the sphincter muscles in my ass to help grab onto the bike). This went on for about an hour. We pulled off in Mountain View, WY for a break. I pulled off my helmet and looked over at Colin and we just both burst out laughing, uncontrollably. There was nothing funny going on, but I think the adrenaline we’d stored up over the last hour just released itself. It was a bizarre feeling! But, we got thought it and now Utah awaited.

    Weird, green mountains in Wyoming.

    Continued in next post...
    "Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue..."
    Current ride: 2012 R1200RT
    MOA #175432, BMW RA #41108
    MSF RiderCoach

  3. #3

    Part 3

    As soon as we crossed the border into Utah, it was as if the landscape changed instantly. We entered Flaming Gorge Nat’l Rec Area on Hwy 44 and, oh my, was that a sight. Great roads as well. It was just such a nice surprise/break from what we had just endured! The sun was starting to set which put a nice wash of reds and yellows across the landscape – it was gorge-ous! (see what I did there?)


    Double wow!

    Atop Flaming Gorge.

    Atop Flaming Gorge again, this time without that jackass in the way, blocking all the scenery!

    The plan was to get all the way down to Steamboat Springs, CO that day, but since I took my sweet time getting up and ready that morning, we had to cut it short and pull into a KOA in Vernal, UT. Nice campsite.

    Nice campfire in Vernal, UT.

    The next day, we started out early with our goal to get somewhere into western Nebraska so our next and final day’s journey wouldn’t be too hardcore. We aimed for North Platte or Kearney. On our way there, we drove through the western slope of the Rockies, hitting Dinosaur, Craig, and Hayden, with a stop in Steamboat for some lunch a bit of a walkabout. Years ago, before we were married, my wife (to be, at that time) taught high school in Craig. She only stayed out there a year and I have to admit I didn’t miss that town much at all (apologies to anyone who loves Craig – it just wasn’t for us). Of course, I didn’t have a bike at the time, so maybe that would’ve made a difference, as the roads out there are pretty spectacular. We did, however, spend a lot of time in Steamboat when she was out there, and that’s where I first learned to ski with my dad back in the 80s, so there’s still some sentimental elements to those places. Oh, and I proposed to my wife on our way from Denver to Craig many years ago, so there’s that too!

    Anyway, Steamboat was fun. I even walked over to the Big Agnes headquarters (a tiny house on a side street) and chatted them up a bit about my gear (I have a lot of BA stuff). We ate, gassed up, and hit the road to tackle Rabbit Ears pass. I remember riding that pass in the ski club’s bus when I was a kid and taking it many times while my wife was out there, so I was mentally preparing myself for the tough ascent and descent. Well, after taking the Beartooth Pass a few days prior, Rabbit Ears was a walk in the park. Perspective, I guess.

    We angled up to Laramie then hit I-80 for the rest of the way home. Boring, but we need to eat up some miles. We stopped in Sydney for a quick bite of dinner, then continued on into North Platte for our first and only night in a hotel. It felt kind of wrong, until my head hit the pillow!

    And then, the next day, Wednesday 7/29, we super-slabbed it all the way home. After it was all said and done, we had covered over 3500 miles. The RT was an absolute pleasure to ride. In the higher altitudes, I was getting close to 57 MPG! Overall, I think I averaged about 50 MPG. Short of needing to add a little oil, there were no maintenance issues to speak off. Of the four of us, the only things we needed to do was replaced a couple of headlight bulbs (one in a ’14 GS and another in an ’09 GS) and top off the oil in a couple of bikes (mine and the aforementioned ’09 GS). The oldest bike in the group, an ’06 1150 RT needed nothing but gas the entire time! And, as an added bonus, I was able to pretty much eliminate my tire’s chicken strips. I was dragging my boots on a few of those hairpins!

    Loading up at the palatial Quality Inn in North Platte, NE.

    Welcome (back) to Iowa.

    Pit stop in western Iowa. Just wanted to make sure I had a couple pictures of the bikes……

    All in all, it was great trip and I’m looking forward to my next one! I promise to take a least a few more pictures of my bike!
    "Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue..."
    Current ride: 2012 R1200RT
    MOA #175432, BMW RA #41108
    MSF RiderCoach

  4. #4
    Left Coast Rider
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Great pictures! Interesting and comedic commentary!

    Need more pictures of your bike, though.

  5. #5
    Registered User lkraus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Central Ohio
    Quote Originally Posted by BC1100S View Post
    Great pictures! Interesting and comedic commentary!

    Need more pictures of your bike, though.

    Don't encourage him or you'll be looking at pictures of his Escort...
    2006 R1200RT

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by lkraus View Post
    Don't encourage him or you'll be looking at pictures of his Escort...
    What did she look like?
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by lkraus View Post
    Don't encourage him or you'll be looking at pictures of his Escort...
    I'm here to please....

    "Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue..."
    Current ride: 2012 R1200RT
    MOA #175432, BMW RA #41108
    MSF RiderCoach

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