Friday, July 3, 2020

2017/2018 Epilogue

June 2017 was fast approaching. It was my retirement month and I gave my notice to my supervisor and the president of the compay that I was leaving. Not only was it fast approaching but I had no real retirement plans. I always thought there had to be more to retirement than mowing your lawn, fixing your house and blowing snow. Prior to my June retirement I was thinking I should take a motorcycle ride that would be quite adventureous. Something that would really stand out, something that I could do myself, something challenging, something reasonably safe and something I’ve never done. There was only one motorcycle ride that would really stand out among all the different types of adventure riding in the United States: ride solo to the tip of South America. It had a good ring to it and sounded good to me. The next question would be, does it sound good to Mary, my girlfriend? Much to my surprise she gave me her blessing on the trip.

Now the planning must start. I must rebuild the rear suspension in my bike, put on new tires and mount a new ten gallon gas tank on it. All of this takes time. It must be done before I leave my job. When I talk about retiring, the hardest thing to walk away from are the machines. For the last 37 years I was able to machine most any part I could dream up using the company machines. i.e. lathes, milling machines and grinders. Being that as it may, I did get all my repairs on my motorcycle completed before I retired from my place of work.

Once I actually pulled the plug, it was extremely strange getting up and not having to go to work. I staggered around the house with nothing to do but think that I should be at work. Then I started to get organized. I worked on getting my visa to Brazil, my Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit and motorcycle insurance for Mexico. I got my immunizations up to date, organized everything on my motorcycle, checked that all the spare parts were in order and loaded my bike. I ran down every map I could find on Mexico, Central and South America and that my passport was in order. By the 1st of October I was pretty much ready to go. I still thought about work some but not much.

The pressure was on as my departure date was set at 15 October 2017. My Brazil visa was still MIA and was causing me concern. I can’t leave the United States without it. The 15th of October came, I said all my goodbyes and I departed Prior Lake, Minnesota for sunny California. Up until this point I swore Mary to secrecy about my travel plans and she couldn’t tell anyone anything till I was in Mexico. At my brother’s house near Los Angeles I preformed some last minute maintenance on my motorcycle before I left for Mexico. I didn’t even tell him where I was going till I was in Mexico. While I was at my brother’s house, Mary express-mailed my passport to me with the Brasil visa in it. I thanked God that I finally got my passport back and in order for future travels.

I was off. As my travels progressed, a routine developed. I traveled 2 or 3 days and I would stop in a hotel to write my blog and download my pictures from my camera and phone. I would then e-mail them to Mary. She would update my blog. Every riding day had a routine. You would arrive at the hotel that night, eat if you could find food, plan your next day, roughly the distance you will travel, search the internet for a hotel for the next night, get the address and write it down, get the GPS coordinates of the hotel, program the GPS for the next day. Even the morning before you leave the hotel had a routine. 1st eat if there was a breakfast. 2nd put the GPS into its handlebar mount, then load the right saddle bag and then the top box. 3rd get the seat bags and bring them down to the motorcycle. Load them and bungee cord them down. 4th put on my riding pants, check the room that I left nothing behind, check you have your wallet, cell phone and motorcycle keys. Grab the extra tires and your coat. Return the room key to the receiptionist. Don’t put on the coat till the motorcycle is running. It’s to hot and you will start sweating. Bungee cord the tires on the motorcycles top box and make sure you have plenty of water. Then off you go for another day. This was the routine for roughly 6-1/2 to 7 months while I traveled thru Mexico, Central and South America.

Every so often I would spot a machine shop. Since that was my career, if it was convenient I would stop and have a visit with the owners. I would show them some pictures and use our translators to make conversation. Eventually, I got myself thru Mexico, Central and South America.

By the time I arrived back in Prior Lake, Minnesota I could hardly remember the daily grind of going to work. My daily routine of riding my motorcycle to Ushuaia, Argentina must have redirected my focus away from machine shop work because I really didn’t miss it when I arrived home. I miss the machines but not necessarily the daily job. You know, after eight months of being on the road and constantly moving, retirement seems much more palatable. I have to thank the trip for that. I guess you could say that was the biggest reason I wanted to take this trip.

I want to thank my Chile and Brasil friends who are experienced motorcycle riders for helping me thru my trip. I met many very nice people who helped me along the way. Their helpful information helped guide me through the different countries.. 

– Dave Reinhold

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Signing Off---- Prior Lake, MN – 1-2 July 2018

1 July 2018 – Today I pretty much just kicked back and took a break. If I saw any neighbors, I would say hi. I also noticed there were some changes about the house for the better.

2 July 2018 – One more picture needed to be taken. It officially proved that I had arrived home from my trip. I needed to take a picture by the “Welcome to Prior Lake, Minnesota” sign officially marking the end of my motorcycle trip to Ushuaia, Argentina. I had Mary take about 10 different pictures to make sure we got one good picture. I had her use my cell phone and camera. This post officially ends my writing about my trip thru Mexico and Central and South America. My Kawasaki / Quackasaki arrived home with 52408.5 miles / 83343.3 kilometers.

James Sr. and James Jr., who I stayed with in Brazil, coming to Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Sturgis, SD, August 2018
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally August 2018, Bear Butte Creek Campground

No haircut since January 2018 - Dave Reinhold in June 2019

Camper Business – Anamosa Iowa to Prior Lake, Minnesota – 30 June 2018

30 June 2018 – I spent a miserable night in that mold infested room. My nose ran and I spent a good deal of time coughing. Horrible, horrible mold smelling room. I will never sleep in a room like that again. For sure I will ask for another room or leave the hotel. I collected up my belongings, loaded my motorcycle and left. I stopped at McDonald's again for a quick bite to eat. I then headed out to Front Range Gear RV Dealership. 

When I arrived I parked my motorcycle out of the vehicle traffic pattern. I didn’t want my motorcycle hit by some car or truck flying in. It was a gravel lot. I looked around some and only saw a couple of trailers setting outside. I walked inside the showroom that had 4 trailers setting around. I walked over and met the salesman. I told him I’d like to look at the Little Guy Travel trailer that was on sale. It was one of the trailers that was setting outside. It was a bigger trailer than I liked. I also didn’t really like the craftmanship I saw on the inside of the trailer. I was only thinking it. I never said it out loud. One nice thing about the trailer was that the rear compartment was open all the way thru from one side to the other side of the trailer. That is a nice feature for like skis, hiking poles or a sewer pipe etc.


We walked into the showroom and I looked at several of the trailers there. I walked thru a NuCamp T@B400. It was more my size and I liked the craftmanship much better. Everything about it was smaller than the Little Guy. I took pictures of it and I would talk to Mary about it when I get home. I also looked into several other trailers they had there. One other trailer that I liked was a boondock type trailer or maybe a hunting trailer. I kind of liked it but it would require a large truck to pull it. We sat in there and talked a while about travel to Alaska and my travels to Mexico, Central and South America. We shared a few stories and then I said I needed to getting going and want to be home before dark. I also said I’d discuss the different trailers with Mary and if we decide on any of his trailers, I’d let him know. We walked outside together and he looked at my motorcycle and couldn’t believe I rode it all the way down to the tip of South America. Anyway, we shook hands and said good bye.

I rode back to Cedar Rapids. I picked up Interstate I 380 North to North Hwy 218 to West Hwy 18. Hwy 18 connects to Interstate I 35 North. I rode north to Lakeville, Minnesota where I exited Interstate I 35 on to 185th Street. I made a left turn on 185th Street / Hwy 21 and drove toward Prior Lake. I reached Texas Avenue / Hwy 27 and made a right turn onto it. I followed it until I made a right turn onto Creekwood Road. I rode a victory lap around the Creekwood neighborhood and pulled in to Mary’s driveway and beeped the horn that I was home. Mary came out of the house and we kissed and hugged a quite a bit. It had been 8-1/2 months since I left home. I left Prior Lake, Minnesota 15 October 2017 and didn’t get back to Prior Lake, Minnesota until 30 June 2018.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Busy Day – Nebraska to Iowa – 29 June 2018

29 June 2018 – I arose at 5:30 a.m. slowly. I still hate getting out of bed early and even worse I hate to hear that cell phone alarm go off. I put my clothes on and went outside to remove the cover from my bike and bag it up. Several other men were out there walking around smoking and talking to each other. They are the early riser crowd. I only rise early when I need to, have to, but never because I want to. I loaded all my bags, computer and shaving kit. I programed Omaha Nebraska, Des Moines Iowa, Iowa City Iowa, and Anamosa Iowa into my GPS. I like to watch the miles click off as I travel toward my destination. My destination today is Anamosa, Iowa. I want to get there before the sun goes down.

I went into the hotel room, put on my riding clothes, checked the room that I left nothing behind and dropped my key off with the reception desk. My trusty steed has a big day ahead of her and it’s time to get rolling.

I’m out on Interstate I 80 and I will keep my speed at 60/65 mph / 100/105 kph. I should have no problem with that because the temperature probably won’t exceed 80/85 F / 27/ 29 C degrees. The only reasons to stop is to take on fuel, potty breaks and food. So, I’m rolling down highway looking for adventure. I see mostly farm land and beef cattle. Occasionally I would ride by one of those large feed lots. Oh my, do they smell. I reached Omaha, Nebraska before 12:00 and it’s time for my 2nd break, dinner, and to take on fuel. I just rode 281.0 miles / 452.0 Kilometers. I love that 10 gallon / 38 liter gas tank. I am going to take a break for about an hour and let my food digest some before I go back on the road.

It’s time to get rolling again. Next stop: anywhere East of Des Moines, Iowa. The old bike is just humming along and before you know it, I’ve passed by Des Moines. I stopped in a Rest Area somewhere East of Des Moines. A potty break was in order. I was pulling out to get back on the Interstate when I rode by a woman riding a Black Honda Rebel 250cc. I stopped and talked with her some. She said she had just started riding motorcycle and was out for the day. It was a new shiny motorcycle. I told her that I just got back from South America and told her not to put any boundaries on how far she can ride. I went on about my trip and gave her my blog cards for South America and my 2009 Around the World trip I took. I wished her good luck and said good bye. 

In another second or two I was back on Interstate I 70 again. In another 50 miles / 81 kilometers I will take another break for gasoline, food and another break. My butt is beginning to talk to me. Screaming more like it, I hurt get off this XXXX motorcycle. I walked around some trying to get some blood flowing in my butt. I know that in 20 miles / 32 kilometers down the road my butt will be hurting just as bad as now. My next stop is Anamosa, Iowa so I best get on my way. I have just reached Iowa City and will pick up Interstate 380 North to Grand Rapids, Iowa. I will then pick up Hwy 30 East and in a short distance I will pick up Hwy 151 North and East to Anamosa, Iowa. 

Roughly speaking, I arrive in Anamosa, Iowa at about 5:00 p.m. I found a Super 8 Motel near the National Motorcycle Museum. I immediately pulled in and purchased a room for the night. I unloaded all my gear and drove over to the National Motorcycle Museum. I found out the museum would be closing in 2 hours. So, I had hustle to get thru it before the museum closed doors on me and locked me in. There was a Kawasaki KLR650 in the museum that had done some international travel. I’m thinking Mexico and Central America maybe even South America. I can’t remember for sure right now. I bought a souvenir hat pin from the souvenir shop before I left. 

As I was walking out, I took several pictures of a concrete H-D Softail Twin Cam. That was an excellent replica of a H-D Softail cast in concrete. I sure would like to know how the guy / artist cast it. I had one other thing I had to do yet before I went back to the motel. I want to look up the “Front Range Gear” RV Dealership in Anamosa, Iowa. Mary and I have been talking about purchasing a small teardrop travel trailer to travel in. She had heard about the “Little Guy Max Teardrop Trailer” at Front Range Gear RV Dealership. On my way home I was suppose to stop in Anamosa and check out this trailer. To night I want to find the dealership and then Saturday morning I’ll stop in and visit with the sales people. I also want to check out the inside of the Little Guy Trailer. I typed in the address of Front Range Gear into my GPS. Amazingly it wasn’t more than 3 miles / 5 kilometers away. Excelente!! I will drive over there tonight and find it. Then tomorrow morning I will stop in and visit with them.

After I found the dealership I stopped in at McDonald's for a hamburger and fries. I then returned to the hotel for the night. I went back to my hotel room and opened the door. It smelled horribly of mold and the motel tried to mask it with some type of fragrance. I opened the window to get some fresh air in the room. All thru Mexico, Central and South American I never smelled mold like that. I can tell you I stayed in some pretty dumpy hotels / motels and never smelled mold like this. I will never forget the smell or ever let this happen again.

Motorcycle Memories – North Platte, Nebraska – 28 June 2018

28 June 2018 – I got up and went over to the restaurant for breakfast. They served a good breakfast but were extremely slow getting your food to you. It was a good hot breakfast which I liked. I just think of those days in South America when I'd wake up hungry, I'd leave the hotel hungry and be hungry all day. I had to kill some time until 9:00 a.m. for the Harley Shop to open up. I get there a little after 9:00 a.m. and the door is open. The employees walking around inside had the look of “I really hate being here.” There was a meeting going on in service waiting area. Five people with one person doing all the talking.

I waited until the meeting was over and asked if they had some YamaLube 20w-50. They didn’t but had something similar. I bought it and then asked the parts guy if I could change my oil because I bought the oil there. I also told him that I don’t need any tools because I have my own. He said yes but there is re-cycling fee of $10 for the oil. OMG this is a rip-off, but I paid it because I need to change my oil. He went and fetched me a drain pan and I asked where I should put it after I’m done. He showed me where and then left for the parts department. This is going to be a good day.

I have a small problem: it’s a little windy and that’s bad for changing oil. I found a spot where I could tuck in out of the wind. I backed my motorcycle in and changed my oil and oil filter, and adjusted my counter balance chain. I did get hit by a gust of wind which spilled some oil on the ground, but I can wipe it up. I poured in my 3 qts / 3 ltr of oil into the engine and started my bike. Everything is good. I put everything back in my tool bag and back into my saddle bags. I checked that I didn’t leave anything laying around and then I move the drain pan to the location the parts guy wanted. 

While I was changing my oil, a Harley-Davidson trike sat idling for over 30 minutes without moving. Something I would never do but they have a small set of fans installed on the engine that were blowing on the cylinders to kept them cool. Once during the 30 minutes somebody checked the bike and all the gauges indicated the heads and oil temperature were within safe operating guide lines. Personally, I would never idle an air-cooled engine like that. But that would be a great thing in some of the stop and go traffic I’ve been caught up in. I saw traffic stop for over 20 miles / 32 Kilometers and people idling their bikes.

I saw a guy come into the Harley Shop. He was riding an Evolution engine Harley-Davidson. He was having electrical problems with bike. His approach to repairing it was remove the faulty component and try the bike. That didn’t fix the problem so he replaced another component. Nope that didn’t fix the problem either. He was in the H-D Dealership spending hundreds of dollars while getting no results. I felt bad for him. Nobody these days want to work on Evos because they date back to 1985. I had a 1989 that had a computer intermittently acting up. I lived with that for 20,000 miles / 32187 kilometers. Finally, it just became so obnoxious that I stopped by a dealership. I asked if an electrical tech could listen to it. He instantly diagnosed it as a computer problem. I was in South Bend, Indiana. I rode it home being totally obnoxious. The next weekend I installed a new computer and new wiring harness. It started up and ran like a new motorcycle. So, I know that electrical crap can be a big headache.

I went back to the hotel and parked my motorcycle. I oiled the chain and then put the cover over it. I went over to McDonald's to eat a hamburger and fries. Then walked over to the gas station and bought a small container of ice cream. When I got back to the hotel, I ate it. I need to have everything organized because I’m going to get an early start in the morning. My route is still pretty simple. I will ride Interstate 80 to Iowa City, Iowa. It will be about a 600 mile / 966 kilometer day.

It's The People You Meet.. - Colorado to North Platte, Nebraska – 27 June 2018

27 June 2018 – I got up fairly early to get jump on the day. I was removing my cover on my motorcycle cover and the trike rider came out. Probably thought I was going to steal his motorcycle. We talked a little while he was getting his trike prepared to leave. From what I gathered from the conversation he and his wife never really left the state. Both were retired. I went in collect my bags and bungee-corded them onto my motorcycle. I put on my pants and jacket, checked the room and left. It’s time to put some highway behind me.

I got thru Colorado Springs, Colorado quite easily. They I picked up Hwy 24 to Interstate 70 East. I continued down Interstate 70 until I picked up North Hwy 385. That road reminded me of a song sang by Tom Jones in 1967. The Green Green Grass of Home. It was a popular song that would tear up many a soldier during the Vietnam War. You know, it’s kind of like I’m finally getting home. Something that looks familiar. The green green grass of home. I wish I would’ve had my old 1941 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead Chopper rolling down that piece of highway. That would have been the icing on the cake. I took several pictures of it because it’s beautiful rural America.

I continued up the road to Interstate 80. I stopped and ate lunch at the truck stop. I also took a picture of myself in a window. If you look at the motorcycle, you’ll see the right side of the motorcycle is on the left side and visa versa. So to speak, it is the mirror image or opposite hand of the motorcycle. My riding jacket is also a mirror image. Just a funny picture.

I jumped on Interstate 80 and rode east to North Platte, Nebraska. On the Interstate I was passed by a Honda Black Bird. That bike was guaranteed from the factory to go 178.5 mph / 287.3 kmh. I always thought it was guaranteed from the factory to be able to run 200 mph / 322 kph but I guess not. They have always interested me, but not enough to buy one.

I saw a gas station so I decide to fill up to be ready for the next day's ride. When I pulled into the gas station there sat the Honda 1100cc CBR XX Black Bird. So, I talked with the rider for a while. A nice guy. He was from Detroit, Michigan. This Black Bird was his dream motorcycle when he was a young kid. When he found one that had very few miles on it, he bought it and has been riding around the U.S. with it. He’s at a point where he needs to change oil. He has stopped at several motorcycle dealerships and asked if they could change his oil. It’s the same old reply, we won’t be able to get to it for about 3 weeks. It’s true, service is always backed up for 3 weeks during the summer. In three weeks, you could ride around the United States 3 times. We talked about my travels around the world in 2009 and my trip to the tip of South America in 2017. He could hardly believe I did that. So, I gave him both blog cards and told him to read them.
I planned to stop in North Platte, Nebraska so I left the gas station to find a hotel. I ended up in a Motel 6 for two nights. The reception desk was weird. I asked if they had Wi-Fi. No, not unless you pay extra…….God it just went on. I got my key and could access the motel through another door so I didn’t have to walk past the receptionist. I found a restaurant to eat at which was nice. I also found one of those gas marts that sold small containers of ice cream. I bought an apple, banana and ice cream. I ate the ice cream when I got back to the motel. I saved the apple and banana until tomorrow morning. I will be changing my oil in my motorcycle tomorrow morning. I went to bed wondering how that was that going to go.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Wait! What Was That? - Colorado – 26 June 2018

26 June 2018 – I ate breakfast, loaded up and was cruising the highway looking for adventure. It’s mostly mountainous terrain. I’m gaining altitude. I can see that on my GPS. I’m coming up on 10,000 ft / 3048 m. I hope my old coal burner keeps on chugging along. I drove up to Monarch Pass 11312 ft / 3448 m and went right on by. I stopped about 1 mile / 1.61 km later and thinking “I’m going back to look and see what the Monarch pass is all about.” It’s the Continental Divide. It’s where rain water must decide if it’s flowing West or East. At the top of the mountain it’s 12,000 ft / 3658 m. and you can take a lift to get there. It was very scenic and windy. I had some ladies take my picture. I also took theirs. I eventually had seen everything the mountain had to show me and I took the cable car back down the mountain. No scenic trip or tour can skip walking through the souvenir shop. I found a gift for Mary. I took a few more pictures at the sign and the souvenir shop. I was glad I went back and checked it out.

Then it was back on the road again seeking adventure. Next stop Canon City, Colorado. I found a hotel ok. The price wasn’t bad either. I was going to stop in an see an old friend but they apparently faded into the Colorado Mountains. I stopped by their place and looked at their horses briefly, then left. I went and got something to eat and then back to the hotel. When I got to the hotel, a Honda Gold Wing trike was parked next to me. Nobody was to be seen.

I covered my motorcycle and went into my room. I planned tomorrow's route. My route was all about bypassing Denver, Colorado. I would take Hwy 115 to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Then pick up Hwy 24 to Interstate 70 East to Hwy 385 North to Interstate 80 East. It would be straight sailing on Interstate 80 all the way to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I was getting closer to home.