Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Da'mit and I are OFFICIAL

Great news

This week certification from the Iron Butt Association arrived in the mail. They say the ride Da'mit and I did from Key West to Prudhloe Bay was a first.

The certificate reads:
The Ultimate Coast to Coast Challenge
This is to certify that in May 2013, Jan H. Daub rode a 2011 URAL Gear Up, named "Da'mit" a total of 6,206 grueling miles in 22 days, 9 hours and 55 minutes. Mr. Daub's ride started at the farthest Southeast corner of the United States in Key West, Florida on the Atlantic Ocean and continued across the United States and Canada taking him on one of the most desolate and punishing dirt roads in North America, the Dalton "Highway", crossing the barren Arctic tundra to the farthest Northwest point of the United States reachable by road at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska on the Arctic Ocean.
The Ultimate Coast to Coast Challenge was conducted under very strict guidelines set forth by the Iron Butt Association. Mr. Daub is the first rider to complete this Extreme Iron Butt Challenge on a Ural sidecar rig!

Signed: Michael J. Kneebone, President, The Iron Butt Association

Since 2008, The Iron Butt Association has certified 36 riders to have successfully completed the Ultimate Coast to Coast Challenge. Only two riders have done it twice since then: Dan Luce of Florida and myself. And only one has done it on Ural.

As a memento of the ride, just finished up AMERICA BY URAL, a small book of photographs from the trip. Here is a link for you to look at it. I think you can flip through the pages.  Let me know if it doesn't open for you.

Looking forward to our next ride together, Da'mit and I are considering a coast to coast east-west run next May. Similar to the vintage Cannonball, but this one to follow the old US Highway 50 from Ocean City, MD to Sacramento, CA, then on to the coast to complete the ride.  It is NOT an Iron Butt Ride. Just something we have never done before. Should take about 12 - 14 days to Uralize our way across America. What do you think?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Home at last, Sick again

Last night when I arrived home, I noticed the Omerga3 fish oil capsules were soft and sticky, so I threw them in the frig to firm up. Took one in the morning with breakfast, two hours later was violently vomiting. After the fourth vomit episode, wife called 911. They checked my vitals, all were fine, even good. Said I just had to get it out of my system. Not much a hospital could do, except wait it out.

By the end of the day, had vomited eight times and constant diarrhea. Lost three pounds of body weight. Boy am I glad this happened at home instead of on the road somewhere. Now I realize what had made me sick in Oregon, was not the Chinese food, but the fermented omega3 pill I had taken that morning.

From the beginning, I had been carrying the omega3 and peanut butter in the top case on the back of the sidecar. In the hot sun, the temperatures easily exceeded 120 degrees in that case. Cooking, or in this case fermenting, whatever was in there.

My beautiful, patient wife of forty years / nursemaid took great care of me. Hope to be back to normal food soon.

Enough of that. Not food poisoning after all, but stupid rider error!!!!!

Well, this particular great adventure is over. Now for the writing and publishing.


When we left Texas back on May 19th there were 3188 kms on Da'mit. As we pulled into the driveway back home on July 31rst, Da'mit registered 24,464 kms. Da'mit and I rode together for 21,276 kms, or 13,220 miles over two and a half months. We saw some fantastic sights, visited 20 states and three Canadian provinces, met some wonderful friendly people, had an adventure or two, rode the Alaska Maritime Highway, saw some parts of the United States that were more beautiful than anticipated, took over 2000 photos, visited the southern most, the northern most and the western most points of the continental United States, posted 68 times to the blog and experienced what many only dream of doing.

Oh, we made Ural history and checked off yet another item from the ole bucket list

There will be time to review what worked well, what was okay and what will be deleted from future rides. Some things need to be upgraded and others were excess baggage, better left at home.

Thank you for following along with our travels and stories. Your comments and compliments were what kept the blog going when we just wanted to sleep at the end of an exhausting day.

Da'mit is waiting for a good cleaning and bath. She deserves it after serving me so well on this trek.

This is not the end. There will be other adventures with Da'mit. You can rest assured of that.

Nite Da'mit,

Nite all.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Austin and beyond

The weather forecast was for another 100+ degree day, so we were up and riding by 5 am, trying to get as many miles in before it became unbearable.

The plan was to reach Austin by late afternoon, have dinner with our son Sergio and his girlfriend Amanda. Spend the night there and travel on Thursday.

Da'mit motored on strongly and we were in Austin by early afternoon. So the three of us met for a pleasant lunch together.

Decided to get out of Austin before the heavy rush hour traffic started and try for home. Only 134 miles away at Ural speed... in 103 degree heat. We would stop every so often to wet down the neck scarf and bandana.

Arriving home to the surprise of my wife who thought I was spending the night in Austin. Was exhausted from the heat and miles ridden today, so slept soundly.

No photos today as the camera's battery died a slow death.

Tomorrow the adventure, or misadventure continues....

Da'mit is safely at rest inside her own stable tonight, for the first time in two and a half months of being on the road.

Sleep well Da'mit,

Nite all.

Four Legged Trouble

It is Tuesday morning, Da'mit is packed and we are ready to ride again. Up early we hit the road only to encounter indecisive trouble before we are out of town.

Slow down, will she cross in front of us or turn around to run the other way.

She decides she has the right of way, so I yield to her crossing. She acts calm so probably will not make any sudden changes in her direction of travel. Still I watch her until she is off the roadway. We have had no close encounters with wild game on the roadway so far on this trip, so for our last couple of days on the road is not the time to start playing chicken with wildlife.

Leaving Angel Fire, the sun slowly creeps across the timberline awakening a new day.

We take a little traveled gravel road over the mountains from Black Lake to Ocate, then to Wagon Mound. Before Wagon Mound we have another encounter with the four legged road hazards.

Can you see it on the roadway? It's a pronghorn antelope outside of a pasture. Which is unusual as they don't normally jump fences, unlike whitetail and mule deer.

It moves off into the tall grass, so we should be safe.

Now the pronghorn starts running ahead of us along the fence line ahead of us, looking for a way to escape a noisy contraption coming after it.

Not finding a hole in the fence, he cuts across the roadway directly in front of us. This is why one slows down when encountering wildlife along the sides of the road. They become nervous and unpredictable.

Cutting across, he enters the tall grass on the other side, and...

races along that fence line.

With one hand on the brake and the other on the clutch, we motor along slowly waiting and watching to see where he will go next. Pulling along side, he reverses direction and is now running away in the opposite direction behind us.

Motoring up we continue out journey across New Mexico: Wagon Mound - Roy and the grasslands, Logan and Clovis, finally crossing into Texas.

Arriving in Lubbock, we seek out the Ural dealer to say hello. Smokey owns Wildfire Motorcycles, a fast and upcoming Ural dealership in West Texas. We visit about Urals, Alaska and making a trip of a lifetime until their closing time.

As with most people I met around my age, we talk of our bucket lists. Making the time to finally start checking things off, or adding new items to it. Time waits for no man. Sometimes you just have to swing a leg over the saddle and do it. A sad delusion is thinking there will always be tomorrow, until one day you awake to find all your tomorrows are gone. If you are not living today, then when will you?

Was able to put another 80kms on Da'mit before landing in Post, Texas for the night. Now there might be some really great things to say about Post, Texas, but I was not able to find them tonight.

After getting a room at the "Deluxe Inn". Turned on the window AC unit to cool things off before retiring. Walked five blocks to the BBQ place, to be told they are closed on Tuesdays. Walked back, then walked to the supermarket next door hoping they had a deli department or fresh... something. Again disappointed.

Could see a McD's across the street but was hoping for something more family style. Walked back to the Inn. Uncovering Da'mit, we rode to the edge of town looking for a place to dine. The only place open was George's Diner. Sign outside said BBQ. Was hot and dry after the ride today, waitress informs me the town is dry. I.e. they do not sell cold beer, nor does anyone else in town. Okay, iced tea. Ordered the Sliced Brisket plate with potato salad and beans.

As anyone who has traveled in extremely hot dry weather knows, the last thing you want to eat in anything greasy or fatty. Pulling the bread aside that was covering the brisket, were three thick slices of the fattiest, most grease marbled pieces of meat you could imagine. Floating on top of the beans was another layer of grease. Sending the plate back, I asked for something lean, not fried. Waitress said that was all they had.

After yet another misadventure trying to find a meal in Post, resigned myself to eating at McD's. At least the grilled chicken wrap with fresh veggies was not dripping grease and fat. And the cold banana strawberry fruit smoothie satisfied my thirst.

Nite Da'mit,

Nite all.


Monday, July 29, 2013

The First Vietnam Veterans Memorial

In 1960s, Dr. Victor and Jeanne Westphall bought the 800 acre Val Verde ranch in the Moreno Valley, New Mexico with the idea of building a resort. On May 22, 1968, their son, Lt. Victor David Westphall and 13 others were ambushed and killed in Vietnam. Jeanne suggested they build a chapel to honor their son and the others. Doc did most of the work himself. All but five acres of the ranch were sold to finance the project.

Completed in 1971, the chapel was a very futuristic looking. Even today it is quite unique, offering a place of healing and remembering for all who enter.

After gaining support from American Disabled Verterans (DAV), Doc and the DAV approached the State of New Mexico to take over the operation and maintenance of the chapel. The State built an educational center and gift shop, while being careful to not over-shadow nor take away from the healing message of the chapel.

It is now the only state park in New Mexico to not charge admission nor close; evenings, weekends or holidays.

To all of those who served our country in the turbulent 1960s and 70's, these images of the memorial are for you.

Sitting on a hill overlooking Moreno Valley, Jeanne Westphall selected a soothing site for the chapel.

From a bench on the grounds, a view across the valley.

Entering the memorial grounds, the view is relaxing and calming.

Offering cool refugee for all who enter.

The first reminder of war. At the peak, there were over 500,000 service men and women in Vietnam. 58,000 were killed.

This particular Huey served as a smokeship, earning the name "Viking Surprise". Shot up while rescuing the crews of 13 downed helicopters in one mission, it was rebuilt on the USNS Corpus Christi where 135 bullet holes were discovered.

Walking to the chapel, one sees the wide valley below.

Inside, the chapel is simple, offering a healing remembrance of friends and family members lost, as well as for those who returned.

For those of us who are old enough to remember, who can forget the yellow ribbons tied to trees in every town, village and neighborhood across our country.

A peaceful walk to the visitor center.

Once inside, photos from veterans who choose to share their memories of Vietnam...

Making friends with the villagers...

Drinking water from a nearby stream...

Lt. Victor David Westphall III.

In the library is a book aptly titled, "10,000 Days of Thunder"

Every May on Memorial Day, hundreds upon hundreds of bikers and riders gather to remember family and friends who did not return from Vietnam.

If you are ever in northern New Mexico riding Route 64, stop at the memorial to remember. So that we shall never forget them.

During construction, Doc arrived one morning to find a note scrawled on a piece of plywood. It said "Why did you lock the doors when I needed to come in?" Since then, the doors have never been locked.

Nite Da'mit,

Nite all.


p.s. David is buried at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe. Both Doc and Jeanne Westphall are buried here on the memorial grounds.


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Repairs on Da'mit

Today we rested and did some repairs to Da'mit's farkles.

First we retightened the windshield mounts. It wasn't about to fall off, but the constant squeaking was driving me nuts. Even ear plugs could not keep that irritating sound out. Used some self-tapping screws to tighten the mount.

Then we removed the luggage rack that was mounted on the sidecar fender. Will need it in a minute.

Now for the job that I could not do until I had access to a drill, was to replace the rack that the waterproof camera case was mounted on with the one I just removed the sidecar fender. This was not so easy as the case is wired for recharging batteries for the iPad, iPhone, and camera. Had to loosen the seat to gain access to the fuseblock in order to release the wires for the charging system.

This is the waterproof Pelican camera case mounted behind the driver's seat.

Here you can see the rack mount under the case.

Two of the legs of the old rack broke from the constant Alaska road vibrations. For weeks now I have been strapping the case down for if I lost it, this blog would die an untimely death.

On the broken rack, one weld broke. On the other leg, the metal itself tore loose.

The repair went well, Everything is back together and working again.

Was asked what camera am I using and how am I posting from the road.

Right now, only have one camera with me, an Olympus XZ-1 point-n-shoot. Is kept in the tank bag where I can quickly pull it out when needed.

For writing and posting, am using an iPad 32gig with a ZAGG keyboard, when closed it completely encases the iPad to protect it. The photos are downloaded to the iPad from the camera memory card with that white square adapter you see lying next to the pencil. Can crop and enlarge photos with the iPad program. The blogging software is Blogsy and Blogspot is the site where the blog is hosted.

The white spot is a reflection from the overhead light. Dr. Pepper Diet is the drink of choice. Dr Pepper was born and bred in Waco, Texas. It was impossible to find in Canada too. Had to drink diet Pepsi......... oh how we suffer to be on the road!!!!!!! lol

Back to Da'mit. The rain clouds are moving in so time to cover her up.

Typical in the mountains is to get afternoon showers. The weather channel forecasted rain all day, but was sunny and nice, until about mid-afternoon. Then it started to cloud up. Just like yesterday.

The clouds came in from the east. Taos is 25 miles east on the other side of that ridge. Angel Fire sits in an alpine valley at 8500 feet. The highest point in the ski area here is 10,500 ft.

There are four major ski resorts in New Mexico; Taos, Angel Fire, Red River and Ruidoso. Then there are Santa Fe, Sipapu, Sandia(?) ski areas. There might be other small ski spots too, not sure.

Taos is known for ski-apres, Red River for college-aged skiing-drinking, Ruidoso is in the southern Rockies, but one has drive back and forth from town to the slopes, no lodging there. Angel Fire is a family oriented ski destination. Many church groups in Oklahoma and Texas bring the youth groups here for skiing. Lots of places to stay and eat within walking distance of the slopes. And it is quiet. The town shuts down early each night.

Looking north across Angel Fire and Moreno Valley toward Mount Wheeler, the tallest mountain in New Mexico at 13,000+ feet. We are too far south in the rockies for there still to be snow on the peaks. Angel Fire, Red River and Taos are scattered around the base of Mt Wheeler.

That concludes today's chores. Tomorrow we check the engine valves and change the oil. To do that, we have to ride to Taos to buy oil. The only auto parts store up here only had a house brand 20w50. Not good enough for my baby.

Nite Da'mit, stay dry,

Nite all.


Moab Hot Footing - Chama Cold Footing

On the road in Utah by 6:30, we watch the sun rise in the east. Decided to see what all the excitement is with Moab country.
As we turn toward Moab, the earth erupts with shapes and colors not seen before on this ride. The rising sun dances across the hills and plateaus.
First highlighting them, then giving them color.
Depending on the angle of the sun, is how intense the colors are. At time I wish I had a wider angle lens on the camera. But then I would need a 360 degree lens to capture all of the natural beauty around us.

A canyon for travel - road, train and timeless rock walls reflecting the earth's development eons ago.

Not to be out done, the wind has taken its turn in shaping the landscape.

Wilson's Bridge

An old log cabin awaits for someone to take its picture. The stories it could tell of freezing nights and blistering days.

Da'mit wonders why I pose her next to old buildings and equipment. I ask if she wants to pose next to modern equipment too. "Yes" she replies.

Here is Da'mit posing with a "modern" aeroplane.

Little did she notice that both tires are flat, the weeds are uncut, in other words, this plane won't fly. Dirty trick to play on the mule that has carried me so far.

The temperatures soared into the 90's in Utah, then began cooling off in Colorado but by then we were racing through Cortez and Durango to stay ahead of developing thunder storms. We could see the dark clouds gathering on the highest peaks first, then enveloping the lower ones.

We never had a chance, it won. Finally caught us in New Mexico.

By Chama, New Mexico, the cold wind and heavy rain was all around us. There was no direction we could go and not get wet. Now is as good a time as any to try the rain gear. Once dressed. we rode on. The camera stayed safely packed away in a dry spot.

Climbing up over Brazos Bluff into the Carson National Forest, the temperatures dropped. Cold rain was pelting us as we climbed and climbed. As in the song, Maybelline, the rain was doing my engine good, Da'mit actually enjoyed the cool front, began running stronger. Urals don't like hot hot weather. Saps their energy.

By Tres Piedras we were out of the rain, but still cool. There were no gas stations so I dumped the auxilary two and half gallons of gas in Da'mit. Crossing the high plains of northern New Mexico, we reached Taos in time to refill our gas supply, and get a hot bowl of chili at Wendy's.

The last twenty-five miles takes us back into the high country. Expecting more rain, we re-suited. We finally arrive at our destination - Angel Fire. AF is a winter ski resort with a mountain biking center in the summers.

Here we will rest and perform maintenance/repairs on Da'mit over the next several days. At 8500' elevation, I will not be moving very fast up here.

Nite Da'mit,

Nite all.

p.s. awoke to 55 degree dry sunny day. Ain't life grand!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Utah is HOT

After the long ride yesterday, we got a late start today. Not on the road until 7 am. We thpought the last of the loneliest road was behind us,. We were wrong.

Today the sun was out in full force. Temps went over 100 today. No rain though.

Spotted an orchard of turbines in the wind farm.....

none of them were turning. Too hot to work?
Crossing another high pass, we spotted an unusual ranch gate.
They specialize in antler art, lamps, etc. Must be a lot of elk in this area in order to find that many sheds.
We didn't see any animals today. Well one, but not sure what it is.....
What do you think it looks like?
Finally we cross into Utah, see our first salt lake...

Da'mit thinks Americans are silly. She doesn't understand why some one would throw a good pair of shoes up into a tree. I didn't have an answer for her. She said there must be a lot of Americans walking around barefooted.

The tree of shoes..... near Hinckley, Utah.

Crossing Utah we saw some spectacular scenery, full of color... HOT colors, not watercolors for sure.

Some trees have dried up waiting for rain.

Reaching Green River, UT, we were exhausted from the heat. Da'mit was suffering from the heat too, not running smoothly by the end of the day. In the mornings, she is fine, but by hot afternoon, she wilts. Might be gasoline vaporizing in the carbs from the heat.

Every so often, all day long, we stopped to re-wet scarfs, shirt and helmet liner. Even hot water will cool you when it evaporates on the skin. Plus we drank lots of water.

Tomorrow we turn south to Moab. Have never seen that part of our country. They tell us it is fantastic.

The forecast is for rain. If it is as hot tomorrow as it was today, rain might be a welcome respite.

Nite Da'mit, but she can't hear, is sound asleep.

Nite all.