5900 Miles in 16 Days (Photo Heavy) - BMW K1600 Forum : BMW K1600 GT and GTL Forums
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post #1 of 13 Old 05-19-2017, 06:30 PM Thread Starter
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5900 Miles in 16 Days (Photo Heavy)

My brother, Mark and I decided to ride about the countryside again this year. Last year was about Maine Lobster, (which he never got), even though we went as far north as Nova Scotia. We played around with some options, perhaps Alaska; but we decided on leaving our homes near Lake Tahoe and riding to the headwaters of the Mississippi River and taking the Great River Road to Louisiana.

I knew I was going to need service before I left but my local dealership couldnít get me in for at least another week. So, prior to leaving, I made arrangements for service at Big Twin Motorcycles in Boise, ID. The service manager there is terrific and he arranged a loaner bike for me since the 18k mile service is an all-day affair.

I donít have Tapatalk on my phone, (nor do I want it), so I canít make daily posts. You, the reader get the whole thing at once. I not sure if this is the right sub-forum, if not; mods please move. This all was written a few days after I got home.

May 2, 2017; Day 1:

With only 2000 miles on my Pilot Road 4 GT tires, itís off we go. Out I-80 through Reno and turn north on US-95. Easy 480-mile day from home to Boise, ID. Got in early and dropped the GTL off at the shop. My loaner bike is a BMW F800R. I really do appreciate the loaner but I must admit, itís a pretty sad little bike. Perhaps Iím just too used to my RTs and my GTL.

Another easy day. After breakfast, we decide to see a couple of the sights in Boise. One of the museums we went to was the Warhawk Air Museum. The people working there are very nice and knowledgeable. Seems to be mostly Veterans or Disabled Veterans that work there.

Although they encourage the taking of photos, itís hard to do justice to a P-51 with an iPhone 7 camera. Even at rest inside a hangar, just looking at those six exhaust pipes coming out on each side of the snout from the Rolls Royce Merlin engine, this thing exudes power. What a bird!

Thereís also a lot of personal items, uniforms, photos and some of these veteransí personal journals that are available to read. Itís well worth the visit and if youíre a veteran yourself, you get a discount on the admission.

Day 3:

480 or so miles from Boise here to Bozeman. Beautiful countryside to ride through.
From Boise, east to Mountain Home, we got off the interstate and took SR-20 and US-22 towards Yellowstone NP. Stopped and had an afternoon cup of coffee in West Yellowstone, MT and decided to go into the park and see where we used to camp when we were kids.
We used to camp at Madison Junction as kids. Iíve never seen the mountains there still covered in snow. Some changes there, other things won't change there for another 10,000 years. But the scenery is still stunning.

Day 4:

Today was a "getting there" type of ride. We said we weren't going to do the 600 mile days we've done before, but there we are; at 556 miles, close to it.
After the amazing scenery from Bozeman, we just hammered on towards the east. The Yellowstone River and later joined by the Bighorn, Powder and Tongue Rivers our constant companions just to our north as we traveled. We parted ways along with the BNSF tracks at Glendive, MT.
A stop for fuel and a snack and we were good for another 100 miles and we end our day in Bismarck, ND.

Just another thought while thinking about my travels.
I think the next time someone tells me that they "need some space " I'm going to suggest they try Montana or North Dakota.
There seems to be a lot of it (space that is) and it appears that a bunch of it is for sale; with the main inhabitants being Pronghorn Antelope, Red Winged Blackbirds, Ringed Neck Pheasants and the odd Grizzly Bear in Montana. They may not mind sharing...... or they might. Not my call.

Day 5:

Another get there day. 296 miles from Bismarck to the headwaters of the Mississippi at Itasca Lake, MN.
It's isolated, and very pretty country but thereís not much around. Then another 200 miles to find a place to stay so we can start the journey along the river to the gulf. We get a little lost on our way from the headwaters, (3 GPS units and maps!! How the heck did that happen?!?) so we end up other primary and secondary roads and not the GRR yet. We find a place to stay in Montecello, MN and are read to get started tomorrow.

Day 6:

We blaze through the Easy 245-mile ride down the (so far), clearly marked, Great River Road. Visited with some of the residents of the National Eagle Center which was amazing.

Stopped into the Duluth Trading Company store in La Crosse, WI and my personal guitar store in the same city, (I didnít know I had a guitar store!!). All in all, a great day.

Day 7:

2600 or so miles traveled so far. Today was weird. An easy travel day of only about 266 miles.

It started very cold. Our hotel the previous night had lousy coffee and a crappy breakfast, so we just hit the road.

The great thing about traveling these secondary roads is when you do stop, folks are interested in what you're doing and who you are. Especially these two loons riding motorcycles in 42-degree weather.

The Pump House in Cassville, WI is one of those places. We walk in and the three guys having breakfast at the bar and the group of old ladies having coffee at a table all stop what theyíre doing and give us the ďYouíre not from around here stare.Ē It's definitely a local's place but we felt welcome. The coffee and food were great.

From WI to IA to IL back to IA, IL and finally ending the day in Burlington, IA. Not much in the way of distance, especially at an average speed of 47 mph; but we are wiped out tonight.
We did visit two museums today. The National Museum of the Mississippi River in Dubuque is fantastic. We also stopped at the Buffalo Bill Museum in LeClair. Didn't know he was born there.

Day 8:

Burlington, IA to Cape Girardeau, MO by way of St. Louis for fun filled 366 miles.

Started down the river road in beautiful 70-degree weather. First day of the trip where we didn't need a heavy shirt under the jacket.

Made our way to Hannibal, MO; the childhood home of Mark Twain and visited the sites and had some lunch.

Then we decided we needed a shirt from Gateway BMW in St. Louis. So, the detour to there and back to our original destination today was like riding across the face of the sun. 95 degrees plus the 50 or more percent humidity. In the not so rush hour. It was swell.

Here for a couple of days as Mark has a long service appointment scheduled for Wednesday.

Day 9:

Another day in Cape Girardeau. Mark was told his bike's service would take all day when he made the appointment last week. Apparently, the man actually doing the service had other ideas and it was done by noon. It matters not as it was nice to relax and be off the bike for a day. The Mississippi River is very high and the current is fast. I watched a piece of debris or a log floating south at about 10 mph. An about mile long, 16 feet tall wall keeps the water at bay. Allegedly.
Had a great lunch and dinner and a comfy place out of the humidity for an afternoon nap if needed.

Day 10:
The Great River Road really didn't live up to its name today. 433 miles and we saw the river once; when we crossed it leaving Arkansas and continuing into Tennessee. We actually zipped around a lot; from MO to AR to TN back to AR and somehow missed putting a tire in Kentucky; finally landing in Vicksburg, MS.

Going to visit the National Battlefield Park tomorrow. It recalls the Siege of Vicksburg during the Civil War; or as it's called down here, "The War of Northern Aggression".

Best part of the day was rescuing this little hoodlum while he was trying to cross route US 61. He didn't look like a family man so I think we did the right thing putting him on the other side of the road.

Day 11:

The day started with a longer than anticipated visit into the Vicksburg Battlefield Park. I was never a soldier so I don't have a reference but I just can't imagine the lives those men must have led during that time.

I don't have Seth Laam's email address anymore. If anyone has it, let him know the seat was fantastic!

The bikes at rest in Vicksburg.

A ride south towards New Orleans was cut short by the most torrential rainstorm I believe I've ever ridden in. We stopped and got a motel but it was such a rat hole we left and rode in even worse rain to just get to the outskirts of NOLA. We were greeted by another hoodlum while trying to check into our hotel.

A short visit to the Crescent City in the AM and we turn westwards for home.

Day 12:Momma duck and her brood greeted us at our bikes this morning. Again, I didn't have any snacks for her so off we went.

Stopped in the Vieux Carre for coffee and beignets at the Cafe du Monde and then got the heck out of NOLA.

Didn't explore much else of the town but that part of it reminded me of every other touristy town I've been to.
I'm sure there's a lot more to see and lots of history but it gets ruined by lousy drivers and groups of young men trying to work off their drunk Friday night like they're in a scene from one of the Hangover movies. Perhaps it's just me; I've been wrong before. Or maybe I just miss my wife and house and want to get home.

We stop at Baton Rouge BMW for a t-shirt and get invited out for some type of Cajon sausage and rice restaurant ride; wherein about 30 folks are going to visit about five different restaurants in about a 200-mile radius and have a great day. We thank them for the invite but explain our situation.

As weíre going through Shreveport, LA, we decide to stop at that dealership and get a t-shirt from that store. We take the six-mile detour off the main road and find that they close at 1500 hours on Saturday. Iím glad I just wanted a t-shirt and didnít need anything important.

Day 13:

A beautiful drive north from Texarkana on US 71 to I-40 then west to jam on home.
While I hate the interstates, they serve their purpose most of the time. That is if you can avoid the semi-truck drag races; you know when one truck moves into the #1 lane to pass another truck at 1 mph faster and **** the rest of us on the freeway that have places to be. I get tired of flipping off truck drivers.

While on the subject of courtesy, or lack of it, we're getting fuel at a station right off the interstate. We fuel and move our bikes from the pumps so others may use them.

There's been this family of booger eaters eating corn dogs and smoking at a table near the store entrance since we arrived. 7-8 minutes or so. They get up to leave and they waddle their asses to their POS car on one of the gas islands, apparently not caring if someone else needed the pump.

Meanwhile, on the island next to me, the couple on their Harley, who were there when we pulled in; are having a smoke and looking at a map. Oblivious to anyone else who also may need some fuel. I guess common courtesy isn't, anymore.

No photos today, just the rant. Off the soapbox.

Day 14:

A productive day spanning 650 miles and portions of four states; starting in Oklahoma and ending the day in Arizona.

I've never been in Oklahoma or New Mexico, (that I remember), and I wasn't sure what to expect scenery-wise. As you leave Texas you come up over a ridge and the scenery changes dramatically.

Gone are the plains and the giant windmills than spanned the horizon as far as you could see for the last 200 driving miles. Now it's replaced with canyons, washes, mesas and vistas like you'd see in an old John Ford/John Wayne western. Just that fast; amazing. 600 miles is a long day in a car. On a motorcycle with 25-40 mph cross winds, not so much fun. I'm ready to be home after stopping for the night in Holbrook, AZ.

Day 15:

Another "get there" day. Cold this morning in Holbrook so the sweater went on under the jacket. As we moved along it got even colder so on went the jacket and pants thermal liners.

Stopped in Winslow, AZ for a photo opportunity and to say thanks to Glenn Frey for the great music all those years. I hope he's resting in peace.

Barring any really crappy weather, should be home by lunch time tomorrow after landing in Tonopah, NV.

Day 16:

Brutally cold this morning for a ride, when we left the temperature was just touching 40 and if course the wind was howling again; all the way home.

And 5961 miles after I left, I'm home. I'm not sure there is a nicer word than "home". Back with my own "stuff" and a note from my wife who was at work when I arrived. She really is fantastic and actually encourages these types of shenanigans.


The K1600 GTL is an amazing motorcycle. Iíve done two other 5000 miles plus rides on two different RTs but Iíd never do another ride like this again on an R spec bike. Iím not going to slag the R bike, I really enjoyed my 1150 and my 1200; but the 1600 is simply superb. The smoothness, the power and comfort canít be found on the RT. The Laam saddle I had built in April performed above expectations.

Thanks to my brother Mark, (whoís not a member of this forum). Weíre deciding on next year already, but I think weíre staying west of the Rocky Mountains. We might just wait a couple more days before going for a lunch time ride.

David A.
IBA: 37338
BMWMOA: 139753
2012 GTL Mineral Silver Metallic
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post #2 of 13 Old 05-19-2017, 06:39 PM
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Great report.
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post #3 of 13 Old 05-19-2017, 07:13 PM
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Great read. It made me want to get out and ride for a few weeks. For me this will be the first extended ride on a BMW, let alone a K. Been doing it for 10 years on a HD tourer and cant wait to go in style. Last fall we headed to Albuquque and Santa Fe. One thing I noticed on Hwy 40 the Highway Patrol had people pulled over and they were searching every nook and cranny on every vehicle they had stopped. Had people standing off to the side waiting, even a middle aged woman that looked like she was going to church. I thought that was really odd to see, but was told later that area is a major human smuggling route from Mexico.
Have to ask, did you pay the ransom they wanted to stand on the corner in Winslow? lol
Cant wait to get away after reading this. Less than 4 weeks heading to Big Bear Lake, than PNW, maybe Yellowstone or Glacier, Montana and Wyoming.
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post #4 of 13 Old 05-19-2017, 08:12 PM
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Looks like a great ride!

We ate dinner at the Slippery Otter a few years back on our visit to Yellowstone. If memory serves me it was pretty good food. We stayed in the hotel right behind the restaurant there.

Freedom is the miles I'm rollin' on!

I'm ridin' a 2014 K1600 GTL and I am loving every minute of it!
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post #5 of 13 Old 05-19-2017, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bagman View Post
Have to ask, did you pay the ransom they wanted to stand on the corner in Winslow? lol
Ha!! There was one other couple taking photos. I took a photo of them together for them. Maybe that was the ransom! Have a great ride!

David A.
IBA: 37338
BMWMOA: 139753
2012 GTL Mineral Silver Metallic
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post #6 of 13 Old 05-20-2017, 12:21 AM
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Originally Posted by nigelhobbes View Post
Ha!! There was one other couple taking photos. I took a photo of them together for them. Maybe that was the ransom! Have a great ride!
Sorry I got Winslow mixed up with 4 Corners. They charge a fee to stand on the 4 corner spot.
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post #7 of 13 Old 05-20-2017, 10:09 AM
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Good ride report. I agree with rant about people hogging gas pumps . That really pisses me off. Get your gas & get away from the pumps.

I use to be TOMB now I am Booger Man
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post #8 of 13 Old 05-20-2017, 01:36 PM
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Looks like a terrific trip!

Dave F.
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post #9 of 13 Old 05-20-2017, 07:06 PM
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Great account of the trip.
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post #10 of 13 Old 05-20-2017, 10:07 PM
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What an awesome post, Nigel! Thanks for the share.

2016 K1600 GTL
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