Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Road Wise Available

Road Wise, a book about my 2011 motorbike adventure, has just been published.

Paperback available through Amazon.

Electronic versions are also available:
Apple iBookstore for iPhone, iPod, and iPad. 
Barnes & Noble for Nook reader.
Amazon for Kindle.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Post 059 - Fini

The Coulee, June 4 - July 23, 2012
A Motorbike Adventure Across the United States

50 days
23 states
7,083 miles
28 points of interest
1 man
1 scooter
110 gallons of gasoline
5 quarts of oil
1 spark plug
1 tire
45 campsites
5 motels
697 photographs
29,700 journal words
Endless territory
Boundless people

New Hampshire
New York
New Jersey
West Virginia
North Carolina
South Dakota

  1. Hudson River Valley
  2. Delaware River Valley & Water Gap
  3. Boulder Field (Hickory Run State Park)
  4. Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania
  5. Pennsylvania State Game Lands
  6. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
  7. Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway
  8. Great Smokey Mountains National Park
  9. Tail of the Dragon
  10. Cherohala Skyway
  11. Natchez Trace National Park
  12. Mississippi River Valley
  13. Hot Springs National Park
  14. Ozark Mountains
  15. Buffalo River National Park
  16. Missouri River Valley
  17. The Great Plains
  18. The Devil's Tower
  19. Badlands National Park
  20. Sturgis, South Dakota
  21. Black Hills of Dakota
  22. Bighorn Mountains
  23. Beartooth Mountains
  24. Yellowstone National Park
  25. Butte, Montana
  26. The Great Wilderness - The Bitterroot
  27. Grand Coulee
  28. The Scablands

The journey is over after three bus rides and two airplane flights. I’m home in Vermont now.

I plan to write a chronological description of this adventure based on the blog, with photographs, available for download soon.
- John

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Post 058 - The Coulee Ends

The Coulee ended today (Monday July 23) on a stretch of highway by Lenore Lake in the Scablands of central Washington. Moto Fabini's engine blew up.

It is either fitting or ironic or both, that this occurred in the Grand Coulee itself.

A kind couple named Russ and Charlie came by in their pickup truck and gave me and all my stuff a ride to Ellensburg, which is north of Yakima.

I am now plotting my exit. Everything is up in the air. Money is tight. I'll write again when circumstances change.

Thank you for reading my journal.

Moto Fabini's last photo taken in the Grand Coulee, Scablands, Washigton

Post 057 - The Grand Coulee

Day 50 - Continued
The Columbia River spills out of Canada near the Washington/Idaho border. It picks up other rivers and streams (principally the Snake) on its circuitous route south, until it turns west toward the Pacific Ocean. It’s the largest river in the Northwest and the 4th largest in the United States. During the Depression the Roosevelt Administration agreed to a local plan for a dam to control flooding, provide irrigation, and generate electricity. It was considered a boondoggle and much derided. When Hitler and Hirohito started appropriating territories by force, it was the Grand Coulee Dam’s electricity that provided the United States with enough power to build a nearly endless supply of bombers. Many historians credit the Coulee’s electricity with the Axis powers defeat.
The Grand Coulee Dam and Lake Roosevelt behind it, lie on the line between two geologic worlds. North is the rugged mountainous world shaped by uplift and ice. South is a washed out, scraped out world formed by flooding of truly Biblical proportions over a relatively short period. These are the Scablands.
This is a region of the United States I’ve always wanted to explore. The vast channel created by the floods gives my motorbike journey its name. Among the many ‘must see’ places on this trip, the Grand Coulee, this scab land, was paramount. 
So I rolled across the plain from Wilbur to the town of Grand Coulee, a distance of about 20 miles. It had warmed up. I wore a windbreaker and gloves, but no balaclava. Wind battered me as I drove.
The lake and its gorge are not beautiful. They are not aesthetically pleasing. They are not ugly either. They simply are there in a light brown and gray landscape. From my approach I curved around and came to the dam from an oblique angle. Although it is a large edifice, the Grand Coulee Dam does not overly impress. I do not experience its scale when I see it. It is too broad and low. Nevertheless, I am not disappointed. I came for the Scablands, not the engineering.

In the visitor’s center I watch a movie about the devastating end to native people’s salmon fishing and way of life with the coming of the dam. I can do nothing but feel guilt assuaged by pity. Next, a movie on the geologic shaping of the area is shown. It’s very well done. The geologic events and a scientific understanding of them are succinctly explained. I am excited to leave the dam area and head out into the Scablands.
I ask a Ranger for a ‘photo-op’ spot, a large sign or a spectacular vista that sys, “This is the Grand Coulee.” To my surprise he doesn’t have one. With the aid of another Ranger we settle on a viewing point in the hills about eight miles from the dam.
I drive up to the viewing point for a photo and then will head south into the Scablands. As I drive, a noise I heard earlier seems more pronounced. It’s a click or a rattle that seems related to but not completely in sync with the rpms of the engine. I cannot locate where it is coming from. At higher rpms it seems to disappear. I’m aware and concerned, but don’t know what to do besides observe.
I drive south out of Grand Coulee along Banks Lake through the heart of the Scablands. I aim for the town of Moses Lake and plan to stop and camp at the first appealing spot I find. Camping areas I pass and inspect are perfect for their locations, but my Eastern sensibility keeps pushing me on, looking for trees and shade.

The landscape is primeval. It is raw, jagged, untamed rock.  Across narrow Banks Lake 800 feet high cliffs run down its length. I pass Steamboat Rock and the State Park surrounding it. The roadway glides smoothly along at water level only rising once, about 400 feet higher, then back down to the water. At the south end of the lake, 30 miles from Grand Coulee, is the town of Coulee City. It is smaller than its name implies. There is a community park with camping next to the dam.

I decide this is where I will stay. My plan is to spend the rest of the day doing mechanical work on the bike. I go in search of an auto parts store. There is one. It seems to be attached to the only repair shop in town. Its focus is cars and farm machinery. They have no motorcycle experience and none with scooters. I decide I will have better luck in Moses Lake, so I change my plans and continue pushing south.
Just south of Coulee City on Route 17 is Dry Falls. It is ten times the size of Niagara Falls. Why haven’t you heard about it? There is no water falling over the cliff. It’s dry. The last ice age and spectacular flooding changed the course of everything here. Today, Dry Falls is a 400 foot water carved depression in ancient bedrock. Standing on the upper plateau, trying to imagine the mile high wall of water that coursed down the coulee when the ice dam broke, was an exciting exercise for me. There are few terrestrial things you can visualize happening that are far beyond human scale. This geologic event is one. Being there energized me.

I would be energized for another 12 miles.