What a challenge it was to try to locate a bulb for my headlight at 7:00 on a Sunday morning in Burley Idaho. I jumped on Joni’s bike and rode around to try to find an auto parts store open. No such luck. I ended up at one of the ‘mart bros’ and actually found it hanging on the wall. I started on the headlight repair once I got back to my bike. A few people stopped by to talk to me about the bike while I was working on it. One guy said he saw me last year in Utah on a ride for the veterans. I told him that I was doing the same ride again this year, only this time with my wife. He said that he’s glad that I am still doing it and that the bike is still on the road.
Joni and I went down to the breakfast at the motel where I was surprised by Rick Gibbons, of Allen & Gibbons Logging from back home, saying hi Milo. Rick was with his wife, Karen and a friend, Gina, who they picked up in the Crooked River, Oregon area. They were on their way to Rock Springs, Wyoming. I told him, ‘been there, done that’ a few weeks ago, only with snow and a lot of wet stuff. Rick said when they saw my bike parked in front of the motel, Gina got on my bike for a picture. They sent the picture to her sister and said something about her being on the way to Sturgis….
Joni & I got on the road at 9:00. It looked a lot like rain again so we finally dressed for it before we left this time. Hey, it never did rain on us! After a while the rain gear came off and we kept rolling down the road. The first or second gas stop, I put in 5.227 gallons in my 5 gallon gas tanks. Now thats cutting it close. We had a real heavy head wind to battle and because of that I only got 23 mpg. We gained another hour back with finally being in our own time zone. We figured we had almost 700 miles to home and didn’t plan on making it before dark, especially with leaving so late. We did a fuel and go a couple of times just to see how far we could get.
When we got to Vale Oregon, I topped off the tank as it is 115 miles to Burns with a head wind still. The first 31 miles was on a freshly chip sealed road with a lot of small rocks flying up at us as well as the pile of gravel that was built up between the lanes of the two lane hwy 20. It was also built up between the tire tracks on both lanes of the road too. When we stopped in Burns for fuel again, Joni showed me all the gravel that was built up on her seat and in her lap. What another challenge! The next fuel stop was in Bend which was a 132 mile run. I put in 5.1 gallons this time. A gal came up to Joni and told her something about a Redwood Run of 20 years ago and getting some duct tape from me then….I had no idea what she was talking about. Another guy came up to me and said he saw me on the Oregon coast in Florence a few years ago. Every where we stop it seems that there is one story or another about seeing me here or there. Once in a while someone askes me if they saw me in Daytona. I say nope, never been there, with my bike that is. All of us rat bikes look the same….Not.
While we were still in Bend, I called our oldest daughter, Dani, and told her “Papa Aldos for pizza, banana cream pie, vanilla ice cream and our grandson, Dallas. Our house, 8:00. Oh yeah, you and your sister too. She was very excited when she realized that we will be home tonight.
When we pulled up it was exactly 8:00. No one was home. As I turned around I saw Andi, our youngest daughter, come flying down the driveway in her Mustang, jumping out saying, “oh crap, I thought I would beat you home”. Dani and Dallas showed up a couple of minutes later.
All in all it was 34 days with over 8,000 miles and with no tickets. We didn’t even get stopped by any of the many cops who had to take a lot of ‘second looks’ at me and my bike! No fall downs, by me, and only two minor little things that I had to fix on my bike. I had Ray bring along a new tire in the chase trailer for me for Joni’s bike just in case she ran out of rubber with her original factory tire. She had about 10,500 miles on it when we left and I wanted to be ready to have it changed when we got to the east coast. I packed the tire with me all the way back home as she still had enough rubber to be safe. It is now 18,565 and I will change it out in a couple of days.
We had a very fun trip, even with all the weather. I feel very blessed to be able to do these NVAR rides from coast to coast and to bring a little happiness to a lot of veterans along the way. It’s pretty cool to see their faces light up when they see all of us motorcyclists show up just to see them. It is especially rewarding to be able to do the ride with my beautiful wife, Joni riding also. I often hear people tell me that ‘I am living the dream’. You know, I really am! My wife on her bike, me on my rat bike and adding up the ‘miles and smiles’ with all my good friends on the National Veterans Awareness Ride!
For any one who wants to join us next year, yes every one is welcome, check out www.nvar.us to see the ride schedule and the hotel list for reservations. They are usually posted after the first of the year when it all gets firmed up.
Thanks for following along on another ‘rat bike run’ journey and I hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as I did living it.
Oh yeah, this message (and trip) was brought to you by Oregon Tool & Supply in Roseburg and Coos Bay. www.oregontoolandsupply.com Milo & Joni