Monday, 29 September 2014

Valley Of Fire State Park

Valley Of Fire State Park

After getting out of the bright lights and Larger Then Life buildings that is Las Vegas we aimed the brilliant white 2013 Honda Gold Wing north.  After cruising on I-15 for 50 miles we took exit 75 to the first stop on our 6-day adventure, Valley Of Fire State Park.

Valley Of Fire State Park is Nevada’s largest and oldest state park and the name suites it well.  Riding along the Valley Of Fire Highway the rust red coloring of the rock formations give the impression that the area is on fire.  The heat, well over 100 degrees when we were there, adds to the effect.

The west entrance to the park is about 12 miles off the freeway and the fee is $10.00, which is well worth it.  A stop at the visitors center has information on the history of the park, the area and is the starting point for a 5.5 mile ride (11 mile round trip) into the park.  This is a beautiful riding road and the scenery is amazing.

The Gold Wing

A great riding road

Leaving the park heading east there are two ways you can go.  You can ride through the Moapa Valley by taking route 169 back to I-15 where you can return to Las Vegas or head towards Arizona and Utah.  The other option is along 167 / North Shore Road through the Lake Mead recreation area, which will take you back to Las Vegas.

Gerald Trees
Dream Your Ride

Friday, 19 September 2014

The Next Adventure - Leaving Las Vegas

After two days of conference meetings it's time to get out of Sin City and head into the canyons and highways of Utah and Arizona and put some miles on a Gold Wing courtesy of Eaglerider Honda of Las Vegas.

Gerald Trees
Dream Your Ride

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Just Go!

This is one of my favorite motivational quotes.  While many quotes are "feel good" or "ya, I like that" quotes, Thoreau is calling for you (and me), the reader, to take action.

1.  Let go of the past.

2.  Begin today to make your dreams a reality.  In other words, do something, anything, that'll get you closer to making your dream happen.

3.  Live the life you've imagined.  Make it REAL!

Action is hard, at first.  It will be scary because the results of your actions will be unknown.  Do it anyway.  Taking even small steps will put you in control and you'll become the pilot of your life, instead of the passenger.  Now life becomes fun!  Perhaps not easy, but fun.

When it comes to motorcycle travel, the more you get out and the farther away from home you go, the more you'll want to do it.  It may be hard to arrange the time or save the money, and yet you'll find a way to do it.

Get out, ride and move in the direction of your dream ride.

Gerald Trees
Dream Tour Ride

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Next Adventure - Mt. Rainer

The state of Washington is loaded with spectacular mountain scenery and great riding roads to get you there.  One of these routes runs between The cities of Yakima to the east and Enumclaw to the west and the gem along this route is Mt. Rainer.

Heading west on US Route 12 out of desert oasis of Yakima, home of delicious apples and a few award winning vineyards / wineries, you'll slowly climb into the Wenatchee National Forest.  Make sure you take Washington State Route 410 through Chinook Pass.

Besides the spectacular scenery, the 125 mile ride is a blend of sweeping corners along with challenging switchbacks and elevation changes.  The road is paved, however be prepared for a few bumps here and there.

As you crest Chinook and begin the decent towards Enumclaw, you'll see Mt. Rainer and it's a shockingly beautiful and very large view that you must see in person to fully appreciate the grandure.

You'll want to spend some time in this area and there are a few easy hiking trails that offer different views of the mountain.

The decent into Enumclaw is one of the most scenic and fun roads I've ridden.  Enjoy the corners, especially the first part.

Next stop, Las Vegas and the desert.

Gerald Trees
Dream Your Ride

Friday, 12 September 2014

Let the next adventure begin

I'm off on my next adventure.  This one will involve boats, automobiles, planes and a motorcycle.

Day one has already started with a voyage on British Columbia Ferries.  A great way to travel on a sunny day.

The rest of the day will be spent in the car, heading over the Cascade Mountains to Yakima, Washington.

More to come.

Gerald Trees
Dream Your ride

Thursday, 11 September 2014

September 11, 2001 - Always Remember

Always Remember

September 11, 2001 started out as a typical day for me and my family.  My wife and daughters were up at 5:30 am for the girls skating lessons and I had turned on the radio to listen to some music and the early morning news.  My 7 year-old son was still asleep.  When the news came on, there was a report about a small aircraft hitting one of the towers of the World Trade Center and how the building was being evacuated.  After listening to this report, I headed to the living room and turned on CNN in time to watch the second airliner fly into the second tower.  I was in shock, like everyone else in North America.  I was watching in stunned silence when the first tower collapsed and then the second.  By then my son had woken up and was asking questions that I was unable to answer.  Namely, why did this happen and who would be so mean.  Out of the mouths of babes...

Since that fateful day, I've watched much of the world around me grow more and more divided.  People are afraid and the governments and news agencies have played the terror card very well.  Yes, there are bad people in this world who will go to great length to force their agenda and they get all the attention.  And yet it's my experience that there are more good people then bad.  They go about their day working hard to provide for themselves and their families.  They are involved in their communities and if a neighbor or stranger needs help, they help without fanfare or attention.  They do these things because that's who they are and it's within their hearts.

The acts of September 11, 2001 especially, and other acts of cowardice that have occurred since have driven people into their homes and local communities.  The are afraid to travel and experience what the world has to offer because their view has been warped, "knowing" that danger lurks "out there".  Those who do travel and risk the dangers find quickly that while danger does exist, good is also present and in great abundance.

Mark Twain, one of my favorite writers, described the benefits of travel and exploration in this way.

“I am glad the American Vandal goes abroad. It does him good. It makes a better man of him. It rubs out a multitude of his old unworthy biases and prejudices. It aids his religion, for it enlarges his charity and his benevolence, it broadens his views of men and things; it deepens his generosity and his compassion for the failings and shortcomings of his fellow creatures. Contact with men of various nations and many creeds teaches him that there are other people in the world besides his own little clique, and other opinions as worthy of attention and respect as his own. He finds that he and his are not the most momentous matters in the universe. Cast into trouble and misfortune in strange lands and being mercifully cared for by those he never saw before, he begins to learn that best lesson of all -- that one which culminates in the conviction that God puts something good and something lovable in every man his hands create -- that the world is not a cold, harsh, cruel, prison-house, stocked with all manner of selfishness and hate and wickedness. It liberalizes the Vandal to travel. You never saw a bigoted, opinionated, stubborn, narrow-minded, self-conceited, almighty mean man in your life but he had stuck in one place ever since he was born and thought God made the world and dyspepsia and bile for his especial comfort and satisfaction. So I say, by all means let the American Vandal go on traveling, and let no man discourage him.”

Mark Twain – The American Vandal Abroad lecture

The events of September 11, 2001 were tragic.  Many lives were lost and even more were for ever changed that day.  Always remember this.  I would also ask you to remember that this act was meant to terrorize and strike fear in people and that it was cowards who did this and the best way to deal with cowards is to LIVE, in spite of what ever fear they have put in you.  

Love, have fun, travel and make friends with as many people as you can.

Gerald Trees, Dream Your Ride

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Dream Your Ride - Dirt Road Adventure

Dream Your Ride - Dirt Road Adventure

I grew up riding dirt bikes so heading out on a logging road or rural gravel road is second nature. The charm of the dirt road is that few people take them on their adventure and the scenery, people and places you’ll encounter are beautiful and unique.

The Road To Lares, Peru

You never know what you'll find.  Exploring "off the grid" in Peru.

Sometimes the road ends, even though the map says otherwise.

A cold beer tastes great after a good dirt road adventure.

Get comfortable riding in dirt and go exploring. The rewards are well worth it.

Dirt road adventure in Peru

Gerald Trees - Dream Your Ride

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Dream Your Ride Test Ride - 2014 Harley Davidson Ultra Limited vs 2014Kawasaki Voyager

TheHarley Davidson sells more touring motorcycles then any other manufacturer and the Ultra Limited is the flag ship of the touring line.  For 2014 Harley Davidson re-worked their touring line with upgrades to the 103 ci V-Twin engine, the suspension, brakes and the batwing fairing.  In the case of the Ultra Limited, the engine has a water cooling system that cools the area around the exhaust manifold.  By doing this the compression ratio was increased which increases the torque by 10%.  Harley Davidson also added a new stereo / info center and easier to use saddlebag lids.

The reincarnation of the Voyager occurred in 2010 and has changed very little in the past 4 years.  The Voyager is powered by a 1700 cc water cooled V-Twin and was styled to have the appearance of a 1960's roadster, including the gauges that are large, analog and very "car" like.

I had the opportunity to ride both motorcycles on the same day so it was easy to compare the two.

I'll get the price comparison out of the way first as there is a huge difference.  In Canadian dollars, the Harley Davidson comes in at a whopping $31,659 while the Kawasaki is a little over $10,000 less at $21,399.  From my seat view, this is the only area that the Kawasaki wins.

In the handling department, which is first on my priority list, the Harley Davidson wins.  It's very nimble for a very large motorcycle and it took aggressive cornering on my part to make sparks fly with the floor boards.  The Kawasaki, on the other hand, was less solid in it's handling and it took more effort to get the big bike turned.  I was also shocked (at least the first time) when I touched the floor boards down with little effort and little lean angle.  The poor guy riding behind me was also shocked.

In the engine department the Harley also wins.  The "tweak" that were made to the engine are noticeable compared to the 2013 model and I enjoyed the roll on torque, along with the sound and feel of the engine.  The Kawasaki's engine was bland.  It got up to speed, however it felt sluggish and I found the engine feel and sound to be too refined for a V-Twin.

In the rider comfort department, the Ultra Limited wins as I loved the feel of the seat, the position of the handle bars and the leg room.  The Kawaski's seat pushed me into the tank, which was an uncomfortable feeling and I kept trying to push myself back.  The seat would be the first change I'd have to make if I owned this bike.

Passenger comfort is very important for large touring motorcycles and my wife found the Harley Davidson seat to be very comfortable, unfortunately the chrome "protection" bars at the front of the saddle bags pressed against the backs of her legs and she found that uncomfortable.  For some reason Kawasaki Canada wouldn't allow me to take my wife along on the test (something that Harley Davidson encouraged).

I've liked the looks of the Voyager since it "came back" in 2010 and I find frame mounted fairings to be better for riding long distance then the fork mounted batwing fairings, however when it comes to overall appearance the fit and finish of the Harley Davidson is much better then the Kawasaki, which has a "plastic" appearance.

For this comparison, the Harley Davidson is my clear choice for a winner, however I would have a difficult time justifying the cost, especially since my wife found the overall comfort of the Harley Davidson uncomfortable.  The Voyager is a great budget touring motorcycle, however $21,399 is still a lot to pay for such a bland motorcycle.

My wife and I will be spending a week with the 2014 Honda Gold Wing later this month so I'll report back on how this motorcycle stacks up against the Harley Davison and the Kawasaki.

Gerald Trees
Dream Your Ride