May 29, 2006

Landed, Part 2

Filed under: Portland — Tom @ 12:17 pm

I’m feeling a lot better today. So, a quick wrap-up of how I got to Portland.

Basically, I was exhausted the entire trip. I pulled over and took naps often and wasn’t making very good time. I only managed another 520 miles or so on Thursday and spent the night in Alexandria, MN.

Friday was even worse. I stopped for gas in Dickinson, ND. I checked out my cargo and found that the R100 GS had torn loose and only some boxes (placed with great foresight by Rick) were keeping it from falling onto the F650GS.

Sure, the back of a U-Haul isn’t the best transportation for three motorcycles. But I’d used one with a single bike in ’96 when I moved to Florida and thought it would work. This newer U-Haul didn’t have the same tie-down points, though — the sturdy wooden rails I’d had in 1996 had been replaced with aluminum bars that were higher and fastened at only three points.

The kicker? The metal rails are just screwed into the fiberglass wall of the truck. I was stuck — while I had a side rail that I could use, it suffered from the same weakness as the front. If that went, I’d have nowhere to secure the bike and likely be stranded in the middle of nowhere.


So I got out my Owners Anonymous guide put out by the BMW MOA. I can’t say enough about how great these people are. The OA is a book of MOA members who have volunteered to be listed, and there’s a list of codes of what they’re willing to do — provide coffee and chat a bit, have tools available, a place to pitch your tent, that kind of stuff. No names — just a member number and a phone number. Sure enough, there was someone in Dickinson and within 30 minutes he’d driven over to look at the damage with me.

We ran through a bunch of options like trying to fix the tie-down, buying a motorcycle trailer at a local shop (he recommended a couple places I could go) and visiting the local U-Haul. I grabbed a motel room and spent all day Saturday trying to fix the problem. Trailers were way too expensive or places were closed — it was Memorial Day weekend, after all, and I was told that lots of people were “down at the lake.”

Finally, I just bought some extra straps at Wal-Mart and used them to share the load on the side rail. The setup below (with everything else unloaded) got me the rest of the way to Portland.

R100GSPD with extra straps

Way cheaper than buying that motorcycle trailer.

After that, I just wanted to get done. I got out of Dickinson in the afternoon. I slept in rest areas when I needed to and things went better — dinner in Billings, some breakfast (and wi-fi) at 4 a.m. yesterday in Bozeman, lunch in Coeur d’Alene and by 6:00 p.m. I was in Boardman, OR fueling up for the last 160 miles or so.

And that’s it. Portlanded around 9 p.m. last night. I love beginnings.


May 28, 2006


Filed under: Portland — Tom @ 11:05 pm

So I’ve arrived in Portland. The last bit wasn’t so bad.

It’s different. Which is to be expected. But it’s really different. So on the long drive out I got the idea that I’m going to blog about it. I’m going to talk about how Portland looks to an outsider coming from a way bigger city. And I’ll talk about other stuff I like to talk about — technology, media, motorcycles.

I’ve mentioned that the last bit of my drive out wasn’t so bad. Here’s the rest: Things go wrong from the start. I’d planned on hitting the road on Monday, but meetings with potential realtors keep me around until Wednesday morning.

Of course, if I’m hanging out until Wednesday morning, I might as well stay around until Wednesday night and meet up with the ChiVinMoto folks one last time. Wednesday afternoon we loaded up the U-Haul with all the important stuff I’ll need for phase 1 of this move — three motorcycles, all my clothes, all the computers. (Phase 2 will happen in August; Diane’s staying in Chicago until the end of the summer.)

I figured we’d load up the truck, I’d head over to the Bucktown Pub, then I’d come home and get an early start Thursday. But I live (lived! lived!) in Rogers Park, a neighborhood that offers one of the last places where you can afford to buy near the lake. Unfortunately, it’s still pretty run down and is pretty popular with criminals. I finished loading the truck and hadn’t even closed the door when I saw two asshats sitting on a wall along the sidewalk (part of my own front yard, even).

I told Diane to go inside and get a few things I’d left there while I stayed with the truck. There was no way I was going to be able to leave the truck parked on the street. I decided to drive it to the Bucktown, say good-bye to my friends and hit the road. I’d put in a few hours and catch some sleep at a rest stop somewhere.

By 11 p.m., I’d said my farewells and gotten some help from the experts in fixing my terrible job of tying the bikes down. (Thanks to the Ricktator and everyone else!) By 11:30, however, I was ready to fall asleep at the wheel after the first toll plaza on I-94. (And let’s not mention that I should have been on I-90, but wasn’t thinking very clearly and headed straight north toward Milwaukee.)

I pulled off at the next rest stop — the Lake Forest Oasis — and had a surpisingly peaceful sleep in the cab of the truck until the sun came up.

Lake Forest Oasis

I’d made it about 26 miles from my house. This was shaping up to be a long trip.

OK, I’m beat. I’ll wrap up the rest of the trip out tomorrow.

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