|Spring 2020||Louisiana MSTA Newsletter||Page 1|
Greetings! I hope everyone has managed to get in some good rides this winter. We have had some
very nice weather between the rainstorms and a few of us have managed to get together for lunch a
few times. In this issue we have Parts Four and Five of the Great Alaska Trip by Tony Crowell.
Hyder ’19 Part 4
As we motored east on the Beartooth, the sun gave way to cold, grey clouds. Climbing up to the Top of the World store, we passed over frozen lakes and saw lots of snow by the road. We continued onto to our turn-around spot at the Rock Creek Vista. After photo ops at the Vista we backtracked on the Beartooth toward the Chief Joseph Highway that would take us over the Dead Indian Pass and then into Cody, WY and our lodging for the night.
On the way to Cody, the wind picked up to an alarming level. I stopped to take photos a few times and was almost blown over. As beautiful as the Beartooth is, I couldn’t wait to get off it and down to lower elevations. The last time I was on the Chief Joseph, I was riding with a buddy who crashed and suffered a broken foot. No such excitement this time, But the awesome roads were as good as I remembered. Great sweeping curves and stunning scenery makes this one of my favorite roads.
Upon arrival in Cody we found our bed for the night at the Wigwam motel. Probably our worst of all the motels on the trip. It was clean enough, just very small rooms. Located near downtown, it was very convenient to sightseeing. The Wigwam is run by a Chinese husband and wife team. The wife checked us in and was very friendly. Later, we saw and HEARD her husband chewing her out in Chinese. I don’t know what he said or why he was so angry, but the dude went off on her in a big way.
After the Chinese tirade, we walked downtown and found a good German Restaurant. Following dinner, we went over to the Irma Hotel, (built by Buffalo Bill,) and looked around. A very cool old hotel built in 1902. Outside, a crowd gathered for an old-fashioned mock shoot-out between desperados dressed in period clothing.
I always enjoy Cody, but man, it is getting a little expensive. I know they must make their money during the short tourist season, but…
Day Thirteen. Cody, WY to Crawford, NE
We had a bit over 450 miles to ride to Nebraska. After a great Breakfast at Granny’s in Cody, we loaded up and headed down US14 to Greybull. The fun was about to start as we headed east into the Bighorn Mountains. Stunning scenery and curvy roads. As we made the climb it got colder and colder, near Burgess Junction my thermometer recorded 38 degrees which would be the coldest temps on the trip. As we wound our way down the east side of the Bighorns, we got to enjoy some of the best sweeping curves of the trip. U.S. 14 would be the last truly-great road of the trip.
At Ranchester, we turned south on I-25 for a boring ride to Orin about 3 hours away. Near Casper the wind started to pick up which sort of put a damper on the already boring Interstate ride.
Now on U.S. 18, we made good time to the pretty little town of Lusk and then into Nebraska. As we neared Crawford, the scenery went from fairly flat and featureless to low rolling hills and bluffs and a few more trees. Very un-expected, but pretty. At Crawford we found ourselves at the Hilltop Motel, a very clean Mom and Pop motel, where the clerk provided us with towels to wash the bikes. Just a short walk away from the motel was Staabs Drive inn. After changing out of our gear, we walked down the hill to Staabs and an had a great burger. A Dollar store was just across the street, so Scott and I went over for some supplies. As we were checking out, we noticed the sky darkening outside. It got dark fast; a pretty big storm was headed our way from the southwest. We barely made it back to the motel before it hit. A big one with thunder, lightning, hail, blinding rain and of course high winds. We had the covers on the bikes which tended to act like a sail. We were worried that all might fall over as we watched from the comfort of our little rooms. After about 20 minutes the worst was over. The pea-sized hail did no damage and the bikes were still upright. Kind of exciting for northwest Nebraska.
Hyder ’19 Part 5
Day Fourteen. Crawford, NE to Hays, KS
After the storms of the previous afternoon, we awoke to the slightly wet roads and the cool, clean smelling air of western Nebraska. Turning due south from Crawford, we cruised down Nebraska highway 71, which turned out to be very scenic with hills, a few curves and even some trees. We were headed to Alliance and a stop for breakfast and fuel.
The fuel stop is where things got interesting. Chris and I took off east. Scott followed with Kevin just behind. Before they got up to speed, Kevin saw something fall off Scott’s Pannier then saw what appeared to be MONEY flying over the streets of Alliance! Scott had placed his wallet on the pannier, and it blew off just after departing. Scott soon realized he was missing a wallet and looked back to see Kevin chasing money all over West 3rd street! Scott stopped to help Kevin chase money, all the while entertaining the folks at the local Ford dealer who had all run to the window to see, what was probably the funniest and most exciting thing to happen in Alliance in a while.
After the excitement of the money chase, we headed east on NE highway 2. This would take us to more of the Nebraska sand hills. Unlike the flat farmland of much of the state, these little hills come with a fair number of curves. We had a very enjoyable ride all the way to Ogallala and our next gas stop. Chris decided to strike out on his own from here and headed to Wichita. Kevin, Scott and I continued south into Kansas. At Oakley, I needed gas, so Scott and I stopped for food and fuel. Kevin continued onto Hays aboard the Supertanker.
After refueling, I noticed a steak house across the street. Always game to eat a dead cow, I suggested a mid-afternoon snack. This is where the second comical incident of the day occurred. After our meal, we tried to mount up for the last miles to Hays. Unbeknownst to us, while we were dining inside THOUSANDS of small bees swarmed our two parked motorbikes. In order to put our helmets on we had to step about 6 feet away from the bikes to avoid them getting inside. It seemed they were interested in snacking on the many dead bugs that were now plastered to the fronts of our bikes. I will never know how it was we did not get stung by the little bastards. I guess the bugs tasted better than us.
We made it to our slightly run-down Baymont in Hays without further incident. Kevin, Scott and I would have our final meal of the trip together at Freddy’s Frozen Custard next door. We would lose Kevin here as he was scheduled to leave about 3 AM the next morning. Scott and I had planned on leaving about 5:30 but something very interesting happened that woke us up early.
Day Fifteen. Hays, KS to Highfill, AR
At about 3 am, a 4.5 earthquake centered about ten miles north of Hays shook me awake! I was sound asleep and at first thought it was a thunderstorm until I realized that a thunderstorm would not be causing my bed and the floor to shake. Since we were both up, we decided to pack up and beat some of the inevitable heat that we would feel on the way from Hays to Scott’s house in NW Arkansas.
Riding now in the cool air south on US183. No traffic, just Scott, me and a few deer and rabbits. With very few cars on the road I was able to use high beams plus driving lights to light a nice path south. As we turned east on US 54 the sun was coming up which made it a struggle to see as we were looking directly into it for at least a few minutes. After stopping for gas near Wichita, we jumped on the Interstate south for a few miles until turning east again onto US160. 160 would take us into the neat little town of Winfield. Then we sort of stair-stepped our way across southern Kansas to US166, through Coffeyville and then south into Oklahoma on US59.
About the time we hit Oklahoma the first real heat of the trip started to creep through our riding gear. No big deal really as we only had about 2 more hours until we reached Scott’s place and head straight for the swimming pool!
Scott’s Alaska adventure was now officially over as we made it safely to his place. I had 2 more days to go and little did I know the most exciting day of the trip would be next!
Next: Highfill, AR to Texarkana, AR
A huge thankyou to Tino Crowell for providing most of the content of this rag in recent months. I think you will agree he has a great storytelling talent in addition to his trip planning skill!
On a somber note, the Coronavirus pandemic has certainly impacted all of us in major ways and it will get worse before it gets better. Being retired I feel pretty lucky not to have to worry about making a living but not liking the fact that I am in a couple of the high risk categories. Accordingly, I am practicing two wheeled social distancing.
Here is a report worth reading if you have not already seen it.
Hopefully this thing will turn around in time to make STAR 2020 a reality, I know our Executive Committeee is monitoring the situation closely. To stay informed you can find info on the MSTA Facebook group and other social media platforms and our forum. Links to all can can be found on the new MSTA website
That's all for now.
Keep riding & smiling
Bob Chappuis, Editor