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Fly-and-ride 2005 F650GS MO to NJ via MN and SS Badger

Last week I picked up a well-used F650GS in central Missouri. The bike had been a little beat-up, but so far I really love riding it. I'm losing my interest in wrestling fully loaded big bikes.

The plan was to fly into Kansas City, catch a ride with the seller to his home in central Missouri, ride to visit family in Minnesota, then make my way home, ideally thru Canada rather than Chicago / Cleveland / etc. I've done the latter a few times.

Other than a large Givi topbox, the bike didn't have accommodations for luggage so had to make my best guess. I had a cheap pair of soft saddlebags I used to ride a G310R home from Minneapolis a few years ago, so loaded those up, with some extra stuff for the topbox.

Flying with that was solved with a $6 rolling American Tourister suitcase from a Goodwill store -- the bags and all fit inside. In booking the flight, it turned out I could get first class with free checked luggage for roughly the same price as coach and a checked luggage fee -- so that was an easy decision. My helmet and a small camera bag were my only carry-ons; I did wear my armored jacket and motorcycle boots for the flight.

By the time I landed, got thru the 2.5 hour drive (which was extremely nice of the seller to do), checked out the bike, loaded up the bike hoping stuff would fit, I decided the day's run would be just 50 miles to the nearest motel along my route. It didn't take long to discover the big notch in the steering head bearing. Also, a smashed left peg made keeping my foot off the road somewhat interesting. Couldn't do anything about the bearing, but ordered new pegs to be delivered to my sister's house in Mankato, MN.

After spending a day or two longer in MN than expected, the weather started looking a little less pleasant. Going north into Canada (via Sudbury) looked like an unpleasant ride, so I took off for Manitowoc, WI.

On the plus side of staying a few extra days in MN...my brother-in-law came up with the brilliant idea to use a pool noodle to have the side bags hang higher and pushed a bit away from the exhaust pipes. My sister put out a "pool noodle" request on her neighborhood facebook page and less than five minutes later, a very cute little munchkin came walking up the driveway with a hot pink pool noodle that was twice her height. It works great!

The next day in Manitowoc I boarded the SS Badger car ferry across Lake Michigan to Ludington, MI. That was a great ride -- I'd highly recommend it to anyone crossing the country. It's an excellent way to avoid the Chicago area, and it was a hell of a lot of fun being out on big water again. Nice people, too. I was surprised to be the only motorcycle aboard that day. It was easy boarding with the bike and getting it strapped down. Although they'd prefer you bring your own straps, there were a number of straps hanging by the bulkhead, apparently left by other riders. If anyone has questions about it (I had lots of them), feel free to ask.

Weather and a navigation issue caught up with me a bit yesterday after a short ride from Ludington to Bay City, MI, although the weather was not nearly as bad as forecast. Light rain this morning, but doable...and then I discovered it is Memorial Day weekend. Hotels either fully booked or insanely expensive for Friday night. I forgot all about that holiday thing. Since it was still raining this morning, I decided on another night in Bay City, with a ride across Ontario (via Port Huron) on Saturday. Finally, no rain in that forecast. Finding a hotel could be a challenge, however, but something will come up.

There has been way too much wind (most days) and a bit of rain (the past few days), but I've really been enjoying riding the 650GS. I absolutely love the bike. It will get some much-needed attention when I get home, and have an appointment with Hermy's to get the steering head bearing replaced. I'm used to the notch by now, and only look like I'm driving a clown car for very low-speed turns.

It has been a great ride so far. I'm looking forward to getting home but am kinda sad I'm almost there.

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Sounds like a great adventure! You could check the anonymous book and see if anyone has a couch to crash on...
That's a good idea -- it might come to that. It seems Canada is getting invaded by Americans this weekend. Even the somewhat scary looking motels are booked up.

I was going to clear back into the US thru Buffalo, but now thinking of heading towards Niagara Falls. Out of a bazillion hotel rooms, surely there has to be one available on a holiday-weekend Saturday night...?
I live 3 hrs from Buffalo in the finger lakes.
Listed in the book under Moravia.
You are welcome to stop by if you need it.

If you call, be sure to leave a message as my phone is set up to reject unknown callers.
I live 3 hrs from Buffalo in the finger lakes.
Listed in the book under Moravia.
You are welcome to stop by if you need it.

If you call, be sure to leave a message as my phone is set up to reject unknown callers.

That is extremely kind of you -- thank you. I'm hoping something will work out on the other end of my ride tomorrow in Ontario (assuming I even get there -- Google Maps suggests the backup to get into Canada at Port Huron is significant at the moment). From Buffalo or Niagara, it's not a bad ride home to western NJ, and I should be a day ahead of traffic at that point.

Again -- thank you. I appreciate it!

I had a great ride across Ontario, checking in at Port Huron / Sarnia and back into the US at Buffalo. In the end, there was no problem finding a nice, quiet motel near Niagara Falls, north of Fort Erie. Cleared back in and finished the ride home from there yesterday. I will definitely take that route again -- enjoyed even my short time in Canada.

Just a quick MOA story, of sorts. Mine was the only motorcycle on the SS Badger that day. There weren't a ton of people on the ship, and I somewhat stood out with my boots, armored pants, ancient (tattered) Street Guard armored jacket with the BMW roundel on the shoulder. Early in the cruise, a guy and his son approached me. He said he was from Great Falls and last summer there was a big BMW gathering there (who knew?). He said all of the BMW people were really great, and the city enjoyed hosting them.

"Much better than the Honda group," he added.

Then he looked at my jacket and said, "All of you BMW guys sure wear a lot of BMW stuff."

Small world.