I rolled into West Plains around 9:00 p.m. last night, escorted by my older sister and nephew who happened to be driving back from Springfield at the same time.

It’s been a couple weeks since my last update, so this one will be a little long-winded.  After leaving Cody, Wyoming, I rode east toward the Big Horn mountains.  Stopping in Greybull for fuel, I noticed several advertisements for an old store called Probst Western Outdoor Clothing Co. which looked like an interesting place to check out.  I found the store a couple blocks down the street and inside met Jeff Probst, son of the store’s founder. The store opened in 1945 and has been passed down through three generations.  

Jeff is in his 60’s and looks just like actor Wilford Brimley. When I mentioned the obvious resemblance, he said, “I get that all the time.  You want to know the strange part?  You see that house just past the red brick building down the street?  That’s Wilford Brimley’s home.  He actually lives here.”  Sure enough, Wilford Brimley and his wife Beverly moved to tiny Greybull a few years ago.  When the two men met for the first time in the Uptown Cafe, Jeff told Mr. Brimley that people often say they look alike.  Mr. Brimley said, “No sir, you’re much more handsome.”  Jeff replied, “I know.  That’s what I say, too.”

Jeff recommended a scenic route through the Big Horn mountains and I left town.  Along the way, I passed a gravel road heading across the Big Horn foothills into some cool looking BLM land.  Roads like that drive me crazy because I want to see where they go.  As I made a u-turn in the highway, Robert Service’s poem “The Men Who Don’t Fit In” popped into my head, as it often does at times like this.  It reads in part:

        There's a race of men that don't fit in,
         A race that can't stay still;
        So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
         And they roam the world at will.
        They range the field and they rove the flood,
         And they climb the mountain's crest;
        Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
         And they don't know how to rest.

The rest of that poem is depressing, but I certainly suffer the curse and I spent the next couple hours wandering around out in the middle of nowhere Wyoming.  If someone wanted to practice for the roads up north, Wyoming and Montana is a good place to do that.  There are a lot of roads there which are very similar to those found in the Arctic.

Next I headed up and over the Big Horns Mountains which are spectacular.  Coming out of the Big Horns on the eastern side, one can see forever.  Jeff said he thought a person could see all the way to South Dakota.  I don’t think the view extends that far, but it is beautiful.  I wound my way down off the mountain, then headed south to the town of Buffalo, Wyoming.

In Buffalo, I stumbled into the historic Occidental Hotel.   The Occidental is one of the most famous hotels in the West and the owner had one room left, so she cut me a deal.  What a place!  Famous guests include Buffalo Bill, Teddy Roosevelt, Ernest Hemmingway, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid...the list goes on and on. If you’re ever through Buffalo, don’t pass it up. http://www.occidentalwyoming.com/

The next day, I rode to Custer, South Dakota as the famous motorcycle rally in Sturgis was just beginning.  We usually stay in the Custer/Hill City area.  It’s more quiet than Sturgis and the surrounding area is very scenic.  Last year, we met Bobby Whittaker, an antique motorcycle collector who lives in Custer.  I mentioned him in an early update, as he put Scott and me up in one of his cabins on our way north.  Once again, he offered a place to stay while I waited a couple days for Nathan and Scott to show up.

Bobby helped organize a vintage motorcycle show for the rally and a couple weeks earlier, he had invited me to put my bike on display.  The Travel Channel contacted him about doing a special on the bike show and he suggested they get in touch with me.  I was in Idaho when they called and spent an hour or so talking to them about this trip.  

Scott and Nathan showed up on Saturday and Sunday we began our daily Sturgis ritual:  Eat breakfast - Ride around the mountains - Eat lunch - Ride around around the mountains - Eat dinner - Ride home.

Monday was the bike show.  I set up a photo collage and a map depicting where the bike has been.  My bike looked strangely out of place as all the other bikes where super clean and highly polished, while my bike is completely trashed - still covered in oil and mud from the Dempster Highway.  Nonetheless, it was well received and was awarded the 1st Place - People’s Choice award. Funny deal.

Meanwhile, the Travel Channel was filming the show and interviewed participants several times throughout the day.  At one point, a staff member sat next to me and said, “So, what do you think?”  “About what?” I asked.  “About the show and how it’s going.”  I said, “Well, there’s a great turnout and there are a lot of nice bikes here.”  She said, “Yeah, but how do you think your bike is doing?  We would like to get you on camera talking about your competition.”  I laughed and said, “Um, I don’t view this deal as a competition and I don’t think anyone else does either.  We’re just putting our bikes on display and the last thing I’m going to do is get on camera and talk smack about these other bikes or the nice folks I met here today.” She was nice about it all but it was funny to see them trying to manufacture a rivalry to add another dimension to the show.

Next, we took a ride through Custer State Park, following a cameraman in the back of a truck.  No sooner than we started, a heavy, heavy rain shower erupted and poured down on us.  Hopefully, it’ll all make for some good video, but we got drenched.  They show is supposed to air late September or October as part of an 8 episode series on Sturgis.

Despite the daily rain showers, we had a great time all week and headed out on Thursday.  We rode together through the Nebraska sandhills to Broken Bow, then parted ways Friday morning.  I headed to Minden, Nebraska while the other two went home.

Okay, listen up.  There is a museum in Minden, Nebraska that every needs to see, but you need to hurry because the dwindling numbers of visitors is putting the museum in financial jeopardy.  Nonetheless, it’s one of the most remarkable places I’ve ever seen.  Here’s the story:

Harold Warp was born in 1903 to Norwegian immigrant homesteaders living near Minden, Nebraska.  Harold was orphaned by age 11, so he moved in with an older brother.  Through his teens, he became fascinated with the explosion of advancements that were taking place during the Industrial Revolution and he began tinkering with inventions himself.  He created a plastic product to replace expensive glass used in chicken coops and at age 20, he left for Chicago to market his patented invention called Flex-O-Glass.   

Harold became hugely successful as a pioneer in the plastics industry and he invented a number of other products including trash bags, Jiffy Wrap and a stall indicator for airplanes.  His fascination with the technological advancements he had seen during his lifetime prompted him to build a museum called in his hometown dedicated to American ingenuity.

Opened in 1953, the Pioneer Village museum sits on 20 acres and houses over 50,000 artifacts chronologically arranged in themed collections.  Visitors can witness the evolution of cars, airplanes, boat motors, cider presses, firearms, washing machines, farm machinery, trivets and an endless number of other inventions.  It’s hard to even comprehend or explain the scope of what this place contains.  Here’s a good article on the museum:  http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2157

Unfortunately, tourism through the town has slowed and the museum has lost money the last two years, leaving the its foundation struggling for a response.  So, if you want to see it, I’d recommend going sooner rather than later. 

I rode south out of Nebraska and picked up Hwy. 36 in northern Kansas.  I pick on Kansas a lot as a horrible place to ride a motorcycle, but Hwy. 36 is actually a pretty nice road.  The scenery is mostly rolling farmland and the wind and temperatures up there are not nearly as extreme as those I’ve experienced crossing the state on I-70.  And if you’re ever through Marysville, KS around lunch or dinner, stop into the Wagon Wheel Cafe for a tri-tip steak sandwich.  Holy cow, they’re good.

Twenty miles north of Kansas City, my bike started coughing, spitting, back-firing and I had to pull over when the normal on-the-fly tweaking didn’t fix it.  The engine was abnormally hot and pre-detonating.  I let it cool for 45 minutes, added extra oil, richened the fuel mixture and the engine ran fine on into KC.  

After a night a Nathan’s house, I decided to wind it up.  I headed south to West Plains and completed the last leg of a huge circle, making it to my folks’ home just in time for Sunday dinner.  

I spent 63 days on the road and rode 11,253 miles, including roughly 1,200 miles of gravel road.  The bike now has 62,592 miles on it since I restored it in 2006 and it has not left me stranded one single time.  I’ve broken down plenty (usually due to some oversight on my part), but that bike has never been towed anywhere and has always delivered me home safely.  Not bad for a 67 year old motorcycle.

After two months of being barraged daily with new sights, sounds, smells, people, food and experiences, it’s a strange feeling to stand in the home you grew up in and just look around.  “Familiar” is the word that comes to mind, of course, and as much as I like to travel, it’s a pretty good feeling.

What’s next?  For better or worse, my life tends to unfold in 12 hour increments.  I don’t know what I’m going to do next.  I need to jump back into work for a bit, but I have my eye on taking my Knucklehead to Europe at some point in the not-to-distant future.  

As for this website, I’ll leave it up and use it to document additional motorcycle trips and projects, like a frame swap on a super-rare 1936 Knucklehead that I’m getting ready to complete for Nathan on a bike I restored a couple years ago.  

So, feel free to check back often and thanks for tagging along on this adventure!

                                             Aaron
http://www.occidentalwyoming.comhttp://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2157http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2157shapeimage_2_link_0shapeimage_2_link_1shapeimage_2_link_2
2013 ride to Inuvik, NWT

   Done!

I rode into West Plains around 9:00 p.m. Sunday night, escorted the last 15 miles by my sister, Andrea and nephew, Luke who happened to be driving back from Springfield at the same time.


It’s been a couple weeks since my last update, so this one will be a little long-winded. 


After leaving Cody, Wyoming, I rode east toward the Big Horn mountains in the eastern part of the state.  Stopping in the small town of Greybull for fuel, I noticed several billboards for an old store called Probst Western Outdoor Clothing Co. which looked like an interesting place.  I found the store a couple blocks down the street and inside met Jeff Probst, son of the store’s founder. The store opened in 1945 and has been passed down through three generations. 


Jeff is in his 60’s and looks just like the actor Wilford Brimley. When I mentioned the obvious resemblance, he said, “I get that all the time.  You want to know the strange part?” then he walked outside.  Pointing he said, “You see that house just past the red brick building down the street?  That’s Wilford Brimley’s home.  He actually lives here.”  Sure enough, Wilford Brimley and his wife Beverly moved to tiny Greybull a few years ago.  When the two men met for the first time in the Uptown Cafe, Jeff told Mr. Brimley that people often say they look alike.  Mr. Brimley said, “No sir, you’re much more handsome.”  Jeff replied, “I know.  That’s what I say, too.”


Jeff recommended a scenic route through the Big Horn mountains and I left town.  Along the way, I passed a gravel road heading across the Big Horn foothills into some cool looking BLM land.  Roads like that drive me crazy because I want to see where they go.  As I made a u-turn in the highway, Robert Service’s poem “The Men Who Don’t Fit In” popped into my head.  It reads in part:


        There's a race of men that don't fit in,

         A race that can't stay still;

        So they break the hearts of kith and kin,

         And they roam the world at will.

        They range the field and they rove the flood,

         And they climb the mountain's crest;

        Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,

         And they don't know how to rest.


The rest of that poem is kind of depressing, but I certainly relate to and suffer the curse, so I spent the next couple hours bouncing around in the backcountry.  If someone wanted to practice for the gravel roads up north, Wyoming and Montana are good places to do that. 


Next I headed up and over the Big Horns Mountains which are spectacular.  Coming out of the Big Horns on the eastern side, one can see forever.  Jeff said he thought a person could see all the way to South Dakota.  I don’t think the view extends that far, but it is beautiful.  I wound my way down out of the mountains, then headed south to the town of Buffalo, Wyoming.


In Buffalo, I stumbled into the historic Occidental Hotel.   The Occidental is one of the most famous hotels in the West and the owner had one room left, so she cut me a deal.  What a place!  Famous guests include Buffalo Bill, Teddy Roosevelt, Ernest Hemmingway, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid...the list goes on and on. If you’re ever through Buffalo, don’t pass it up. http://www.occidentalwyoming.com/


The next day, I rode to Custer, South Dakota as the famous motorcycle rally in Sturgis was just beginning.  We usually stay in the Custer/Hill City area.  It’s quieter than Sturgis and the surrounding area is much more scenic.  Last year, we met Bobby Whittaker, an antique motorcycle collector who lives in Custer.  I mentioned him in an early update, as he put Scott and me up in one of his cabins on our way north.  Once again, he offered a place to stay while I waited a couple days for Nathan and Scott to show up. 


I spent the first day going over my bike and decided to pull the battery to check the fluid.  As I reached in to pull it out, I realized the backside of the battery had blown apart.  Somewhere along the way, my battery exploded. There was no acid left in the battery, but it was still putting out 6.4 volts, as normal.  Once again, I was left speechless.  I have no idea when it happened or how the bike continued to run without a good battery, but it did.  I assume the beating from the Dempster cracked it apart.  Fortunately, some Harley dealers still stock 6 volt batteries and I installed a new one from Black Hills Harley Davidson.  The charging system checked out fine and it worked perfectly the rest of the trip.


Bobby helped organize a vintage motorcycle show for the rally and a couple weeks earlier, he invited me to put my bike on display.  The Travel Channel contacted him about doing a special on the bike show and he suggested they get in touch with me.  I was in Idaho when they called and spent an hour or so talking to them about this trip. 


Scott and Nathan showed up on Saturday and Sunday we began our daily Sturgis ritual:  Eat breakfast - Ride around the mountains - Eat lunch - Ride around around the mountains - Eat dinner - Ride home.


Monday was the bike show.  I set up a photo collage and a map depicting where the bike has been.  My bike looked strangely out of place as all the other bikes where super clean and highly polished, while my overloaded bike is completely trashed - still covered in oil and mud from ride to Inuvik.  Nonetheless, it was well received and was awarded the 1st Place - People’s Choice award. As I walked away with the award, someone yelled, “Now you can take that thing to the car wash.”  Ha!


The Travel Channel crew filmed the show and interviewed participants several times throughout the day.  Next, we took a ride through Custer State Park, following a cameraman in the back of a truck.  No sooner than we started, a heavy, heavy rain shower erupted and poured down on us.  Hopefully, it’ll all make for some good footage, but we got drenched and it was frankly a little embarrassing.  I’m sure the crew thought, “Wow, look at these idiots.  People will do anything to get on television.”  Anyway, the show is supposed to air late September or October as part of an 8 episode series on Sturgis.


Despite the daily rain showers and hail storms, we had a great time all week and headed out on Thursday.  We rode together through the Nebraska Sandhills to Broken Bow, then parted ways Friday morning.  I headed to Minden, Nebraska while Nathan and Scott went home.


Okay, listen up.  There is a museum in Minden, Nebraska that every needs to see, but you need to hurry because the dwindling numbers of visitors is putting the museum in financial jeopardy.  However, it’s one of the most remarkable places I’ve ever seen.  Here’s the story:


Harold Warp was born in 1903 to Norwegian immigrant homesteaders living near Minden, Nebraska.  Harold was orphaned by age 11, so he moved in with an older brother.  Through his teens, he became fascinated with the explosion of advancements that were taking place during the Industrial Revolution and he began tinkering with inventions himself.  He created a plastic product to replace expensive glass used in chicken coops and at age 20, he left for Chicago to market his patented invention called Flex-O-Glass.  


Harold became hugely successful as a pioneer in the plastics industry and he invented a number of other products including trash bags, Jiffy Wrap and a stall speed indicator for airplanes.  His fascination with the technological advancements witnessed during his lifetime prompted Harold to build a museum in his hometown dedicated to American ingenuity.


Opened in 1953, the Pioneer Village museum sits on 20 acres and houses over 50,000 artifacts chronologically arranged in themed collections.  Visitors can witness the evolution of cars, airplanes, boat motors, cider presses, firearms, washing machines, farm machinery and an endless number of other inventions.  It’s hard to even comprehend or explain the scope of what this place contains.  Here’s a good article on the museum:  http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/2157


Unfortunately, tourism through the town has slowed and the museum has lost money the last two years, leaving the its foundation struggling for a response.  So, if you want to see it, I’d recommend going sooner rather than later.


I rode south out of Nebraska and picked up Hwy. 36 in northern Kansas.  I pick on Kansas a lot as a horrible place to ride a motorcycle, but Hwy. 36 is actually a pretty nice road.  The scenery is mostly rolling farmland and the wind and temperatures up there are not nearly as extreme as those I’ve experienced crossing the state on I-70.  And if you’re ever through Marysville, KS around lunch or dinner, stop into the Wagon Wheel Cafe for a tri-tip steak sandwich.  Holy cow, they’re good.


Twenty miles north of Kansas City, my bike started coughing, spitting and back-firing.  I had to pull over when the normal on-the-fly tweaking didn’t fix it.  The engine was abnormally hot and pre-detonating.  I let it cool for 45 minutes, added extra oil, richened the fuel mixture and the engine ran fine on into KC. 


After spending Saturday night a Nathan’s house, I decided to wind it up.  I headed south to West Plains and completed the last leg of a huge circle, making it to my folks’ home just in time for Sunday dinner. 


All told, I spent 63 days on the road and covered 11,253 miles, including roughly 1,200 miles of gravel road.  My odometer now reads 62,592 miles, the total distance I’ve ridden since 2006.  Amazingly, the bike has not left me stranded one single time.  It has broken down plenty (usually due to some oversight on my part), but the bike has never been towed anywhere; it has always delivered me home safely.  Not bad for a 67 year old motorcycle.


After two months of being barraged daily with new sights, sounds, smells, people, food and experiences, it was a strange feeling to stand in the home you grew up in and just look around.  “Familiar” is the word that comes to mind, of course, and as much as I like to travel, it’s a pretty good feeling.


What’s next?  For better or worse, my life tends to unfold in 12 hour increments.  I have no idea what’s around the corner.  I need to work for a bit, but I have my eye on taking my Knucklehead to Europe at some point in the not-to-distant future. 


As for this website, I’ll leave it up and use it to document additional, shorter motorcycle trips and projects, like a frame swap on a super-rare 1936 Knucklehead that I’m getting ready to complete for Nathan.  


Feel free to check back often and thanks for tagging along on this adventure!  It was great getting feedback from all of you and I hope you enjoyed the ride.


                                                     Aaron

Monday, October 28, 2013