Regrettably, I didn’t take a bunch of pictures along the way on this trip, as it wasn’t intended to be a report-worthy trip in the first place. It was supposed to be just a quick there-&-back, no drama… just get there & get back. Which it was, more or less, but the weekend held another surprise in store…
A couple weeks ago, one of the Iron Butt Association muckety-mucks asked me the favor of scouting a bonus location for the Workin’ on the Railroad rally. The rally, scheduled for later this summer, is based out of Big Sky, Montana, and will likely cover lots of the western U.S., with possible incursions into Canuckistan for the more competitive riders. (http://thebigskyrally.com/
This would be my first motorcycle road trip since the “Somewhat ill-fated Labor Day trip to Montana” ride almost a year ago. Not to mention the fact that I hadn’t hardly touched the FJR in over a year, and had only taken the Ninja 250 out on a few short putts around town so far this year. I took a day off of work to head up toward Pocatello, Idaho – just shy of 300 miles from here, but the weather didn’t really cooperate that day. There were pretty intense thunderstorms precisely along the route from Elko, NV (lower left corner), through Jackpot (center) and up past American Falls toward Pocatello (upper right corner). The next day was *supposed* to be better weather-wise, so I used the time off to prep the bike.
The objective was simple enough; head to a particular spud farm & take a picture of the bike in front of the main building. The trip up there was nice – great weather, little traffic, & I was making good time. I packed an overnight bag just in case contingencies might require staying somewhere, but I really wanted to make the 500+ round-trip in one day. So I loaded up the coordinates in the GPS, cranked up the XM, and off I went. Made it to my destination trouble-free, snapped the requisite picture in front of the farm building, turned around & started heading back.
I saw a little hole-in-the-wall diner in American Falls, and it seemed like a good time & place for a mid-afternoon lunch. It was called L&J Brothers, and the simple menu was perfect. Sorry, no food porn to share this time, but lunch was awesome! Had a French dip (perfectly seasoned, thin sliced roast beef on a home-made bun with home-made horseradish sauce), a giant serving of tater tots, all washed down with perfectly brewed iced tea, with home-made cheese cake for dessert, all for a whopping 7 bucks & change. And I managed to stay awake the rest of the trip home.
The return trip was similarly uneventful as the first leg, at least until I got headed south out Twin Falls toward the Nevada state line. There was only a slight chance of rain that day according to the weather man, but he lied. I generally don’t mind riding in rain, even for hours at a time as long as it’s warm out. But here, the temperature dropped sharply, and the rain & lightning & thunder became biblical! I started looking for lumber piles & hoped I could remember how many cubits were in an ark, even. Pretty soon it was coming down to the point I could no longer see, and the bike felt like I was riding through several inches of slush. I pulled off at the first wide spot & tried to take shelter under some tall, thick brush. The rain was coming down so hard, the brush didn’t offer much in the way of shelter & I got soaked to the bone.
The storm was blowing west to east, and the sky to the west was just a wall of black storm clouds as far as I could see. Clearly, this wasn’t going to blow over any time soon, so as soon as the rain tapered a bit, I continued rolling south. It was still raining at Jackpot, but not nearly as much. Thankfully, I had packed my jacket liner, and putting that on over my LD Comfort shirt made all the difference in the world, & I felt like a new man. My hands on the other hand, felt numb from the cold & wet, and both of the pairs of gloves I brought were soaked through. Between Jackpot & Wells, the clouds parted, the sun came out, and the temp rose to over 70. I air-dried my gloves along that stretch by holding the cuffs open and letting the air funnel in as I rode along. They weren’t completely dry, but after 10 minutes or so each, they were at least warm enough to wear.
I made it home well before sundown, with 542 and 528 miles on the bike & GPS odometers respectively.
The next day, I gave the FJR a much needed bath and took a glamor shot down the street in front of the community college clock tower.
On an unrelated note, a former coworker & fellow rider texted me that afternoon. He happens to be the 3rd owner of a 1995 Nighthawk 750 that was previously owned by 2 other guys we used to work with. A few weeks ago he mentioned the possibility of selling it, but as much as I would have liked to keep the bike “in the family”, the price was just a bit out of my league.
Long story short, he texted: “Last call before I put it up for sale. Come ride it if you want.”
I texted back, “B there in a short”. No surprise here, I’m sure, but it rode nicely. I expected a little more pull when I romped on the throttle, but maybe it just needs a new air filter. The paint is perfect & even has a little bit of tasteful pinstriping, and the original upholstery looks brand spankin new. It has 20,7xx miles, and is wired for a cig lighter accessory plug as well as a battery tender pigtail. It has the factory passenger backrest & luggage rack, aftermarket hiway pegs, and a throttle lock. We negotiated a price, & I bought it.
That big ol’ barn door windshield will be the first thing to go. Stay tuned!