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5600Miles in Ten Days on a Honda 360 / Chapter 1

Itwas September of 1976 in Indianapolis, I was in my twenties, and I
hada red 1974 Honda CB360G. I had decided to undertake a trip out
toGlacier National Park during my one and only two-week vacation in
thelast three years. I put a sissy bar on my bike and, other than
that,it was configured exactly the same as it was when I drove it
awayfrom Honda of Indianapolis two year before. No highway bars, no
footrest extensions, no nothing.

Ihad one delicate complication to resolve before I left. My
girlfriendJudy had come to believe that she was invited to go with
me. Realizing that our combined weight used up most of the
availableweight capacity of the bike and I needed to haul some
campinggear, I decided I needed to "uninvite" her. I never did
inviteher in the first place, but that had become academic at this
point. I was on about rehearsal version #3 of my spiel when Judy
enteredmy apartment and announced, "Those bastards wouldn't give me
thetime off for our trip, so I quit!" That was that I had just
gaineda passenger for my trip. Come Hell or high water (both being

Ihad a framed backpack I had bought at Kmart, which I strapped over
theback of the sissy bar. I had more stuff, including sleeping bags
anda camp stove, lashed to that pack than was hanging from the chuck
wagonin an old Wagon Train episode. Under my front headlight was
lasheda two-man pup tent. With Judy at my back and the wind in my
hair,we departed Indianapolis looking much the motorcycle version of
Maand Pa Joad leaving for California in The Grapes of Wrath. The
wobblewasn't all that noticeable once ya got goin' fast enough. I
wonderedhow long the tires would last. I also wondered if I was
totallyinsane... I guess I might as well mention now that I knew
evenless about motorcycle mechanics then than I do now. If you knew
menow, you would find that difficult to believe. Fact is, I know
nothingnow except how to lube the chain and change the oil. In 76,
Ilubed my chain with either motor oil or 3-in-1 oil; whichever I
grabbedfirst. I knew less about changing the motor oil. Thought
that'swhat the dealership was for.

Sowe set out, Judy and me. We headed West, swung up through
Illinois,across the Mighty Mississippi (much less mighty in upper
Illinois),and into Iowa without much needing to be reported here.
Theonly real difference between Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa is that
thecorn grows progressively higher. As best I can recall, my gas
tankwas about two gallons, including reserve. Seems I got about 60
mpg,so my max range was between 100 and 120 miles. There are parts
ofthe West that exceed that distance between gas stations, take
myword for it. Other than that, I had no problem with getting off the
bikeevery hour and a half or so for gas. The first night we camped
someplacein Iowa. It doesn't much matter where. Iowa is Iowa.


TheBadlands, Mount Rushmore, and Yellowstone...


TheGrand Tetons, Jackson Hole, Idaho and the Montana town that that
closedfor a funeral.


Glacier,180s on the face of a cliff, what do motorcycles and boats
havein common?, and Banff.


Eastward,HO! Calgary, the crash and the Canadian health care
system,the Devil at Lake Superior, and the MACKINAC bridge.


5600Miles in Ten Days on a Honda 360 / Chapter 2

Surprisingly,I didn't sleep very well in Iowa the first night.
Maybeit was still the excitement of the trip or maybe it was the 20
º slope I had pitched the tent on. Anyway, after a pot of coffee
andsome pancakes, we were westward bound through Sioux City,
thunderinginto South Dakota with as much rolling thunder as three
hundredand sixty cubic centimeters can muster. We passed over the
MissouriRiver at Fort Randall Dam, just North of the Nebraska State
Line. Awesome sight. Sometime later, we were apparently transported
toanother planet, or so the initial impression of the Badlands would
haveled us to believe. Including the Mojave Desert and Death Valley,
I'venot seen a more desolate environment than the Badlands of
Dakota. Hardly any vegetation except some occasional shrubs and the
terrainis a constant array of naturally formed trenches, which would
bealmost impossible to traverse without having had a highway blown
throughthe middle of them. The ridges and trenches put me in mind
ofa mammoth brain. Still, in its desolation, it was really quite
impressiveand still beautiful in its way.

Notime to dally. Once you've seen the Badlands for thirty
you'vepretty much seen the Badlands; so it was off to Mount
Rushmore. We arrived in the afternoon. I didn't like the
andgeneral wear on my front tire so I had it replaced in Rapid
City. We visited a huge cave. I think it was called Rushmore Cave,
butwouldn't swear to it today. Anyway, it had been designated a
emergencyshelter for the locals in event of nuclear attack and made
mewish we had something like that around my home in Indianapolis. I
tooka lot of pictures of Mount Rushmore itself, but nothing better
thanI could have bought on a postcard for 10 cents. It was cool to
seea huge white bearded mountain goat ambling around the rock pile
atthe base of the sculptures. At night huge floodlights light the
mountain. Very cool.

Nextmorning was up and at `em, out of South Dakota, into
andoff for Yellowstone. Remember, at the beginning of this I
mentionedit was September. Now, September in Indianapolis is still
almostsummer-like. I can assure you that it's not the same in
mountainsof Wyoming. When the sun goes down, the ride is over for
theday. We basically arrived at Yellowstone as the sun was going
down. Luckily, we found a campsite in the park without much
trouble. Nothing to see here until morning.

Morningcame in its inevitable style and we packed up the bike for a
daytour of Yellowstone. This is sort of the equivalent of a day
tourof New England. Anyway, we saw the geysers, saw the hot
springs,sulfur pits, and got in a couple of cycles of Old Faithful.
Wecaught the falls, avoided a moose with a little too much curiosity
aboutmotorcycles and specifically did not feed the bears, which were
encouragingus to do so. (The greatest need in the presence of a
bearis distance.)

"Sothis is Yellowstone," we reflected as we heated up a can
ofCampbell's chicken noodle soup. "MmmmmMmmmm Good," and
it'sSouth to the Jackson Hole and Grand Tetons.


TheGrand Tetons, Jackson Hole, "So these are Hell's
Angels",and the
Montanatown that that closed for a funeral.


5600Miles in Ten Days on a Honda 360 / Chapter 3

Southwardbound out of Yellowstone, soon the two great peaks of the
GrandTetons came into view. Somewhere on this day, I learned
that"Grand Tetons" meant "big tits" in Spanish, anobvious reference
tothe twin peaks. Anyway, I cruised southward running parallel to
themountain range off to the right, the Snake River between me and

Iremember glancing into my rear view mirrors and seeing a swarm of
motorcyclesclosing in rapidly on the 360G. In next to no time, I
becamefully engulfed into a sea of other bikes and bikers. These
werereal bikers, not the bikers we all occasionally pretend to be in
ourmoments of machismo between going off to our 9 to 5 jobs and
balancingour checkbooks. They were hard. They were dirty. And they
wereugly. Only the passage of 24 years and a distance of 2,000
mileshave given me the courage to describe them this accurately. I
don'tknow how many they were, but I couldn't see the end of them in
mymirrors. Wondering what was to be my fate on this highway in the
middleof Wyoming, I raised my left hand in a wave to the guy who had
pulledup on my left - a big bloke with a leather cap and a full red
beard. I did not want to appear too meek nor did I want to be
lookingfor any trouble. The guy looked down at my bike (perhaps
figurativelyas well as literally), gave me an almost imperceptible
nodand pulled away. This routine was repeated with about another
twentyto two dozen riders, any of which I figured I could take in a
fight- so long as I had a gun and they were strapped in a chair. It
occurredto me that being strapped to a chair might be the ultimate
fatefor some of these guys. Anyway, we all then rode together for
aboutsixty miles through the Jackson Hole area of Wyoming.
Eventually,upon some silent command, the group hit the throttles and
roaredonce again out of sight. I waved and just after they crested
thehill in front of me, I flipped them off. Lucky for them they
didn'tgive me any ****...

Thesun went down, so it was time to stop for the night. I found a
KOAcampground north of Jackson with showers and even a TV lounge.
Itwas a Hilton without the brick and mortar. About 8:00, a couple a
dozenof the bikers with which I had ridden pulled into the
campgrounds. They took over a couple of sites near mine. I'm
prettysure they did not abide by the number of campers per site limits, as
therewere about 30 of them in two sites. Pretty soon, I smelled
burgerscooking on the grill and my mouth started trying to drown my
tastebuds in a watery grave. One of the guys came over to our camp
site. He couldn't believe the Indiana plate on the 360 and asked
ifwe had come all that way. When I nodded, he invited us over for
some"grub". We ate, drank and smoked some green tobacco in
aplastic baggie that seemed to make us crave potato chips well into
thenight. I was relieved the next morning that my throat was not
slitand my belongings and girlfriend were present and intact.

WestwardI turned across the Teton Pass that rises to just below
8,500feet fairly rapidly. Although I would not have won any drag
racecontests, the fully loaded (overloaded) 360G scooted right up
themountain pass without a wimper. Then it was downhill all the
wayinto Idaho.

Idon't remember anything noteworthy about Idaho except that I was in
avalley between two pretty big mountain ranges to the east and to
thewest after I curved northward. It was in Montana that I
discoveredthat 120 miles between gas stations is not unheard of. I
hadgone onto reserve without the slightest indication of
civilizationanywhere for miles around. Please take note. I had not
passedany gas stations since my last fill-up. I slowed my speed to
about35 mph to try to maximize my ride and minimize my almost
certainwalk. In answer to prayers for which I am still repaying
today,I came upon a gas station. I pulled up to the little store to
usethe bathroom and get something to drink. After emptying and
refillingmy bodily fluids, I went to move my bike over to the gas
pumps. It wouldn't start, out of gas!

Ifilled my tank and bought enough oil to change my oil, which had
comedue. I decided to do my oil change further down the road and
departedthe sanctuary of the gas station (finding out in advance how
farit was to the next one). Now, the only tools I had with me was
thatmarvelous set of tools provided by Honda Motors. What a joke!
WhenI pulled over a while later to change my oil under the shade of
abig tree, the wrench would not even begin to budge the oil drain
plug. After repeatedly trying and failing, I noticed a small town
justdown the road. I hoped they would have a hardware store where I
couldget a wrench big enough to remove my oil drain plug. I pulled
intotown, much like a cowboy probably did a hundred years ago. The
townwas one street with stores on each side. To the best of my
recollection,there was no intersection. But, one of the stores
proudlyproclaimed "Hardware" on its edifice. Delighted, I
dismounted(I would have loved to have tied up at a hitching post)
andwent to open the door. Locked! Damn! But it's only about
2:00on a weekday!

Agroup of people had gathered on a hill outside of town. One of
themhad left the others and was strolling toward me. The man asked
ifhe could help me and I explained my dilemma. He said he had
closedfor a funeral, but reckoned he could help me if I didn't
taketoo long. Of course, he had no metric tools. I don't remember
ifhe had a crescent wrench or not, but I settled on a big pair ofchannel
locks.I paid the man, thanked him and he returned to the funeral
andI went back to the big shady tree and changed my oil. (The
channellocks worked fine.) The old 360G didn't have an oil
filter,thank God.

Myluck was holding. Tomorrow I would reach Glacier National
Park.probably the most beautiful of all the national parks.


Glacier,180s on the face of a cliff, what do motorcycles and boats
havein common?, and Banff.

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