|August 2019||Louisiana MSTA Newsletter||Page 1|
STAR 2019 is behind us. Stacie and I attended and had a great time; see my brief report below. However the feature article for this- newsletter is not about STAR.The August 2013 Issue of this rag featured part one of a report on a trip of a lifetime: Bob and Stacie's Best Of Europe Edelweiss Tour. This August we feature part one of another trip of a lifetime, actually perhaps 4 lifetimes: The Great Alaska Adventure of Tony Crowell, Kevin Yeats, Scott Stewart and Chris Laderer, penned by Tony "Tino" Crowel. Tino promises 3 or 4 more parts to this saga in coming issues!
My dream of riding to Alaska started when I was 19. It was the summer of 1979 and I had just taken my first multi-state, multi-day tour to the Smokey Mountains aboard my Kawasaki KZ1000MK2. I was hooked like a trout in a wading pool after that. Over the years I wore out my Rand McNally Atlas’ planning, routing and dreaming of the day when I could finally head north. Over the years the destinations and routing changed, but to set foot in Alaska was always the goal. Most of my plans included a trip to the Arctic Circle and beyond to Deadhorse.Most of my riding buddies have known I was going for years. I finally made the decision to go in 2018 and the real planning started. I was set to go solo and planned to blast off in June of 2019. As I talked more about my plans, my friends decided they wanted to join me on the trek. Since I’m retired and they all work, that put Deadhorse off the list of destinations as the other guys had jobs that they wanted to keep. No problem because Hyder, AK is much closer than the north slope and some good planning could get us up there and back within my buddies’ two-week vacations.
The players in this adventure included me, Scott Stewart, Chris Laderer and Kevin Yeats. All of us would be riding BMW’s. Two GS’s and two GSA’s. The plan was to converge on Scott’s house in Northwest Arkansas and depart for AK on June 8, 2019. As is almost always the case, the worst part of any of my trips is leaving and arriving back in Baton Rouge. I left home at 4:59 AM. It was already 82 degrees and as steamy as a Turkish bath. MISERABLE!
About an hour into the trip, I stopped for gas and noticed a GS go by. 20 minutes later I caught up with the rider who turned out to be…Kevin! We rode together all the way to Mena, AR where we ran across Chris, who, had departed Houston early in the morning. We all continued north to Scott’s with a small detour up US 71 north of I-40. It was here we ran across the only decently heavy rain of the entire trip. Although it only lasted about 15 minutes. By the time we arrived at Scott and Eileen’s house the heat was starting to build; luckily for us, Scott had just finished putting the finishing touches on his swimming pool. We quickly stripped off the riding gear and dove in. AHHH! Talk about luxury…Scott and Eileen treated us like royalty. They prepared a delicious dinner for us and on the next day, Eileen got up at the crack of dark and made us an AWESOME send-off breakfast. We ended up staying in some nice places on the trip but NONE was as good as the Hotel “STEWART”! Thanks again Scott and Eileen!
Day One. Highfill, AR to Mankato, Kansas
After the aforementioned breakfast our group of four intrepid travelers mounted up and headed for Kansas. Scott lives in a motorcycle paradise so our ride to KS was filled with nice roads and curves. A short jaunt across Oklahoma and the Grand Lake of the Cherokees and quickly, we were in KS. Lots of people don’t like KS, but I think it’s kind of pretty, especially the southeast part with its low-rolling hills and waves of green grass and crops. This trip also marked the first time across KS where I did NOT have a horrible head or side wind. The day was turning out great!
Later that afternoon, the wind did pick up but it wasn’t as bad as it normally is. Just north of Junction City, my radar detector started going off intermittently. I looked all around but couldn’t find the source. I slowed down anyway, only to find Deputy over the crest of a hill who was blasting radio waves as vehicles crested the hill. He got the guy in front of me.
|We were about an hour from Mankato
when the wind really started to pick up.
It was here on the plains of Kansas that
we decided to put the hammer down and
head for the barn! The “barn” being the
Crest-Vue motel. I had stayed here a
few years back. Great place to stay if you
ever find yourself on US36 in KS. A clean
little Mom and Pop place that won’t break
the bank, located next to a steakhouse!
Our first lucky break with the weather came in Mankato. A HUGE storm system moved through about 2 AM and was moving east of us as we loaded up at 7 AM for points west and north. It was cool and blustery with just a damp road to remind us of the storm that woke us up earlier. Our first stop of the day was just up the road near Lebanon, KS at the Geographic center of the 48 states.
The wind was so strong here it was hard to keep the bikes up, in fact it blew Scott over as he was coming to a stop and parking. After a few photos it was off to Nebraska. The wind continued to hamper our travel and gas mileage as we entered Nebraska. We came across an 18- wheeler on its side in a sharp curve near Blue Hill. By now it was also getting pretty cool with temps in the low 50’s. A McDonalds in Holdrege gave us a nice respite from the wind.
As we continued north the sun finally came out and warmed things up a bit. I also noted that the further north we went the wind seemed to subside a bit which was very welcome. About 25 miles south of Valentine we topped a hill and saw a vast flooded roadway. Cars and trucks were going though so it appeared we could make it. We all made it ok but not without getting a little wet.
On to Valentine and then into South Dakota where we were caught at the tail-end of a very long funeral procession. After about 20 minutes they turned right and we turned left toward the Badlands. As we rode west, the terrain started to rise and get prettier. Soon we were at the National Park entrance where we were stung with a $30-dollar tab each for the pleasure of spending 45 minutes in the park. Caution RANT starts now. I’m not opposed to paying a reasonable fee at our National Parks, but they should sell day passes at a lower rate. I do not want or need to stay seven days! We paid a reasonable 5 dollars for entrance into Banff And Jasper parks in Canada. We rode through, enjoyed the scenery and left. The U.S. needs to adopt this system. Rant over.
Out the NW side of the Badlands we were dumped onto the prairie and into the tourist town of Wall, SD., and our lodging for the night. We all walked down town to the world-famous Wall Drug and had supper there.
Day Three. Wall, SD to Lewistown, Montana
The next day the sun was up early. We were near the Mountain-Central time zone line and also at a high latitude so we could see very clearly at 4:45 in the morning. A little chilly, in the low 50’s but we knew it would warm up soon with a bright sunny sky at our backs.
We were headed to Montana via the Devils Tower in Wyoming. I have been there several times but never tire of the scenery of NW Wyoming and the Tower. Had a very mediocre brunch at the store at the base of the tower, but Chris and I were treated to an awesome display of Bus -Driver skills as we watched, mouths-agape, at a female bus driver negotiate a parking lot full of cars and motorcycles. She came within inches of disaster but never touched one vehicle.
Sights seen…we rode into Montana and turned west on US-12. The scenery though this part of MT is ho-hum until about Lame Deer, where we went through town looking for gas. It was here we came upon some young kids selling pulled pork sandwiches in order to raise money to go to summer camp. We bought some sodas at the gas station then had an impromptu picnic in downtown Lame deer. The sandwiches were excellent! Still heading west, we passed by the Big Horn Battlefield and then onto I-90 toward Billings. 9 or 10 stop lights later we were northbound on US87. Past Roundup, the scenery got very nice. Huge, green, hills and valleys that stretched out forever. US87 turns due west at Grass Range and took us quickly to our motel for the night in Lewistown. When we are on tour, we are always looking for a great place to eat. Well…we sort of struck out in Lewistown. The Yogo Inn was nothing to write home about. I had noticed a little drive inn place near our motel that looked good as we rolled into town. Chris later went there for dessert and confirmed my suspicions that it was the place where we should have eaten. Of interest, was a six -foot, 2 -inch- tall Transvestite who stayed next door to us. He wasn’t a bad looking fellow but was dressed very garishly in a red double- knit pants suit. I feel bad now because I should have invited him in to face-time my Fiancée’ who could have given him valuable tips on make-up and shoes.
Day Four. Lewistown, MT to Canmore, Alberta, Canada
Cloudy and very cool upon departure from Lewistown. At this point I was wishing I had brought my heated jacket instead of my heated aerostich bib. Soon we entered the city of Great Falls and the 4 B’s restaurant. We had a great breakfast and banter with our 75- year-old waitress. By the time we left, it was warming up and the sun was just peeking through the overcast. As we turned north on I-15, the wind hit us and we had to deal with that all the way to Sweetgrass where we would go through the Port of Entry and enter Canada. They only had two lanes open. One for trucks and one for all other vehicles. I noted the truck inspection only took about 1 minute per truck whereas our line took considerably longer. It took us about a half an hour to make it through. All the usual questions…do you have a firearm? Where are you going, how long will you be in Canada, etc. etc. We all met back up at the Welcome to Alberta sign down the road. Since I went though first, I had to wait awhile for the others.
Following the photo op, we saddled up and rode north toward Calgary. Even though Calgary is a huge city, we actually made pretty good time through it. MUCH easier than the comparatively tiny town of Baton Rouge. Once we got a few miles (Kilometers) west of Calgary, the majesty of the Canadian Rockies hit us all in the face. Oh, how beautiful!
Once in Canmore, we found our Best Western and began the nightly search for food. We finally ended up at Tim Horton’s. Not exactly gourmet, but close by and filling. Service was a pretty bad, not as bad as the horrible fast food service in the Southern U.S., but pretty bad. The manager, (About 50 years old) had about 7 teenagers working for her. I think I’m the only one of our group that had their order correct. Found a great breakfast place the next morning where we could look out the window at the snow-capped peaks.
Day Five. Canmore, AB to Prince George, BC
Day five was a GREAT day. We departed to the west on Canada Route 1 and headed into the Banff and Jasper National Parks. At the Park entrance in Banff, I paid for all of us to save time and it was STILL cheaper than one U.S. National Park. The bonus here was the beautiful French-Speaking toll taker. Too bad the other guys missed her.
On the Icefields Parkway we saw our first cold temps… 41f. Before we left, we had an informal bet about what low temps we would see on the trip. I said 38, Scott said 39, Kevin said 41 and Chris 42. So far...Kevin was winning…but there was still lots of mountains to conquer. I have seen some beautiful places in my life, The Rockies, Appalachians, The Alps…let me tell you- Jasper National Park is absolutely beautiful. If you go you will not be disappointed. Stopped in the town of Jasper at a great little restaurant that has a gigantic menu, everything from breakfast to Greek food to pizza… you name it. Summertime Jasper is lovely. I wonder what winter-time Jasper is like…
The ride north and west to Prince George was not spectacular as we were all spoiled by Jasper. We made good time to Prince George and checked into the Carmel Inn. The motel was okay but the restaurant next door was fantastic. Great food!
End Part 1
STAR 2019 BRISTOL, VA
By Ninja Bob
The Louisiana Chapter was represented at the annual Sport Touring Association Rendezvous in Bristol Virginia by myself, wife Stacie, Paul Lefort, Eric Babcock and Rod Fors. Everyone had a great time seeing old friends, making new ones and riding some great roads. Jim Randle and Doug Pippen did a terrific job of putting together several great routes. The LA crew spent good times riding and hanging out with old friends Jim Girton of Kansas, Don Laderer of California, Ron Culp of Texas, Keith Danielson of Michigan, Mike Dupuis of South Carolina and new friend Steve Hand of Kansas. The weather cooperated with no real rain except a short thunderstorm on the ride up. Although it was hot and humid in Mississippi and Alabama, once we got to the mountains it was a good bit cooler and dryer.
They layout of the venue, the Holiday Inn, was nice and comfortable for our purposes but sadly the bar had very limited hours, closing at 10:00 PM every night. The HI was walking distance to three good chain restaurants. Each night except Wednesday banquet night our usual group plus or minus one or two would gather in the lobby to decide on a restuarant and walk over for supper. We had a good time and I don't think anybody had a bad meal.
With help from Paul and Don, I lead group rides Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday herding the usual group of cats, with the addition of Keith Danielson and Mike Dupuis on Monday and Steve hand on Wednesday. The routes were special in that semi-rural residential roads were used to get to and from the urban Holiday Inn venue to the good motorcycle highways. These roads had little traffic and were hilly and curvy. This eliminated a common complaint about STAR venues where you had to fight heavy urban traffic to get to the good stuff. The only problem was that there were many road changes and these little known roads did not show on most paper maps so if you did not have a GPS with the digital route loaded you were not going to navigate successfully. With our usual ride leader somewhere off in Canada or Alaska and Paul Lefort without the GPS routes ride leader duty fell on me. Luckily the routes worked extremely well for me and I made only a couple wrong turns turns. We did the Shady Valley loop on Monday, the lunch ride Tuesday and the Sparta loop Wednesday.We rode parts of the Snake more than once and a few other roads that were just as good. In other words we rode some GREAT roads!
Honda was at STAR with demo rides all week and some great accessory vendors were also present including Steve and Sue Nemish of Nomar Tire Changer; changing tires for those in need of tread. I talked Steve into giving a tire change narrative while he did one. I have a Nomar Classic and use it often, but my technique has needed improvement. I have watched the instructional videos many times but seeing it done in real life is so much better.
This was my 26th STAR. It was definitely a good one but they all are! Can't wait til the next one, Cape Girardeau, MO!
STAR PHOTOS BY THE STAR PHOTOGRAPHY TEAM
There are still six great MSTA events left for the year.