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Page # 5

Tuesday July 21, 2009
   Woke up to a beautiful Montana morning. The air is clean and fresh and the KOA is pretty nice - nice, clean restrooms and showers.
   We had breakfast and discussed our living arrangements with Paul and Mary. They agreed that it was workable, but a bit cramped, so they decided to pitch a tent that we had stowed for them (they were to use it on their return trip as we were headed to different destinations) at our spot.
   Shirlee and I returned to the trailer repair shop and discussed what he had found out about parts for the trailer. He said that he had contacted Interstate Trailer and they wanted a huge price (to him) for the axle, besides which they couldn't have it to us before the following Monday (we were scheduled to leave in four days, on Friday). He then stated that he had contacted the manufacturer of the axle directly in Santa Barbara, CA and they had the part in stock and could ship it second day air. It wasn't going to be cheap, but it was doable. We would continue to use the trailer and enjoy StarDays and then on Thursday morning we would drop off the trailer where they would cut off the damaged axle while awaiting the arrival of the new axle. Once the new axle arrived (scheduled for Thursday, late morning) they would weld it on and it would be as if nothing had happened, save for the crumpled, but straightened out, fender and a pretty nice dent in our wallet.
   We returned to the KOA and started up the bike to go and register for the goings-on at StarDays, which was occurring a couple of mile down the freeway from us.
   Once registered and having received our welcoming pack with patches and pins and such we walked around to see what was going on. People we talked with said that there were less vendors than had been anticipated, probably due to the economy, but there was still quite a bit to see. Star Motorcycles had a bunch of bikes there to test ride and I promised myself that if I rode any of them it would be the Venture, with all of the goodies like fairings, lots of storage, sound system, great stock seats, and so on.
   There was one vendor that was airbrushing artwork on to bikes. They had quite a catalog of different designs, a couple of which I really liked (eagles), but the price was a bit much, so I declined. Paul likes wolves and found a couple of designs that he decided to have put on his bike, which was a Road Star that he had upgraded to a couple of weeks before we left Vancouver. Nice bike! The wolf artwork was very beautiful. Paul was well pleased.
   Afterwards most of the group returned to camp for something to eat and drink and hit the swimming pool to cool off. It did get pretty warm there!
   We hit the sheets after a bit of 'fellowship' with the gang, ready and anxious for a good night's rest.

Wednesday July 22, 2009

   Awakened to another beautiful morning here in Billings. Big day today as we are going on our first StarDays 'SwampAzz' Ride! It is an all day ride that takes us into Wyoming to the south and almost to the north entrance into Yellowstone National Park. The ride is a timed rally with points for time and mileage ridden. Better get ready to go ...

Later in the day:

  What a great ride! And the scenery was magnificent! We started out going west on I-90 for about 10 miles or so to Laurel, MT., then south on US 212, through Red Lodge, MT. (one of our checkpoints) then up and over the
Beartooth Pass. Shirlee took a picture of our GPS as we reached the summit as it read 10,960 feet elevation! That's almost as high as Mt. Hood in Oregon! From there we rode on to intercept State Road 296 after crossing into Wyoming. We then turned right, heading for Cooke City, back in Montana and just above Yellowstone Park. Here was another checkpoint. After getting something to eat Shirlee and I decided to go on ahead of the main group as they were heavy into picture taking and rest stops. This was a timed event and we wanted to see how close we could get to the established time.
   We headed back east on State Road 296 bypassing the intersection of US 212. A few miles past the intersection we came upon our last checkpoint, almost missing it, as it was such a 'hole-in-the-wall' place.  As we continued east we encountered our next turn onto State Road 120 north. From there the ride wasn't as scenic as before so we just upped the throttle a bit. Except for the rising temperature on the way back, the ride was pretty uneventful. Finally merging with I-90 once again we headed west on into Billings and the KOA, where we knew some cold beer was awaiting, but not before checking in at StarDays and recording our finish times.
   We quaffed a couple of cold ones and ate some dinner. By then, the rest of the group started showing up. We sat over where they were camped and reviewed the ride. Everyone agreed that it contained some of the most spectacular scenery we had ever seen.
   After saying our 'goodnights' we climbed back into the trailer and went soundly to sleep.

Thursday July 23, 2009

   Big day today. We took the trailer back over to the repair shop for them to start cutting off the damaged axle. Hopefully the part will arrive on time. They said that they had not received any info about any holdups so we left, keeping our fingers crossed. They told us that they expected everything to be completed by 5:00 PM, if there were no delays.
   We returned to the KOA and got on the bike to return to the StarDays site. I immediately went over to the test ride area and signed up to ride the Venture. I had a wait of about two hours so we just ambled about looking over mostly what we had already seen. Finally the time came for my test ride and I walked back over to the bike area and signed in. I then went over to the Venture and sat on it to see how it fit. Yeah ... it fit pretty well. On command we started up all of the bikes and left the area. We were to ride single file for the ride so as to give everyone the room they might need on an unfamiliar bike. The ride was to last about 20 minutes and reach freeway speeds at times. That would be enough to check the Venture's performance. Wow! What a performer! The bike handled the curves better than I thought it would and there was always more throttle. Yep ... I'd like to own one of these. However, realization brought me back to earth as we really didn't NEED a big cushy road bike for long trips as the long trips would be handled mostly by our toyhauler. Still ...
   After the test ride Shirlee and I returned to the KOA at around 4:30 PM. As soon as we got off the bike the repair shop called to say that the trailer was all done and ready to be picked up. We both said a silent 'thank you God' and climbed into the 4-Runner.
   When we arrived the trailer was sitting outside waiting for us. The only reminder of the incident was the 'not-so-new-looking' fender. I figured we would order a new one when we returned home.
   We paid what we owned and after giving everyone there that was involved with the trailer a big 'Thank You' we returned to the KOA, where we showed everyone the repaired 'home'.
   After some celebrating and saying some 'goodbyes' to some newfound friends, we headed for bed. We had another long travel day ahead.
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