HU Traveller Heiko Neumann’s Ride Tale — Volkswagen Campmobile

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Volkswagen Campmobile

Europe/North America 2003-2004

I am 49 old and a latecomer to motorcycling: not having bitten by the bug earlier, I only to take up motorcycling 5 years I have since enjoyed Having had a full-time job in finance, my were limited to the odd 1 or 2-week in and around Europe.

But – something was inside. In the end, I decided to the leap of faith, quit my job to an open-ended leave of absence to the dream. Two longer tours are from mid-May to September Europe (Czech Republic, Poland, Baltic States, Petersburg, Finland, Norway Cape), Sweden, UK (incl. of Man), France, Spain/Portugal). in 2004 (May to September), the American continent: U.S. Alaska, Canada, Mexico.

is the outline of my “experiment”, which is to change as things develop. The of travel is my BMW R1150 GS, two years old and 30k on the clock. I intend to keep an record or journal, with regular up-grades, once or a month while I am on the road or irregular “status reports” the two trips.

May 30, 2004 GMT

Going

I have made it – to Chicago and on. The across the Atlantic was smooth. immigration in Chicago was such within under 1 Ѕ hours touchdown, I was in the hotel near airport (and that certain disorientation problems of the driver). The hotel (Best in Des Plaines) even offered internet access. Everything up to point had gone surprisingly – what did I miss?

Well, the came later that day I called my contact person at the forwarder, merely out of kindness and I like to think that in situations Neumann’s Law, a of Murphy’s, applies (Neumanns’s “Murphy was an optimist”). I had been on the assumption or better on the statement my by in Frankfurt that my bike be ready to be picked up a day after my

Imagine my surprise when I that my contact at DHL was surprised I would want to pick up the BMW the day — the paperwork with the authorities had not be initiated. After we had several telephone conversations, and some nail biting on my I received the bike one day later planned. – Oh well – large and their internal communication…..

The of the unplanned delay: I avoided a of thunderstorms and heavy rain in On Saturday, May 22 my trip really

The first leg led me to Madison, WI. My former in Frankfurt, Renate Labak, had for me to meet with friends of who live in this beautiful – Thanks to Kris and Fritz for a wonderful “coffee and cake” at their home. And also for ad-hoc tour of Madison, the of Wisconsin. The visit to the campus of the of WI (incl. the replica of the Munich and the thrill of a real tornado (loud sirens in the whole while checking out the family’s on Lake Mendota were and exciting. (N.B. the tornado, decided to go another way. )

In of the capitol building in Madison,

The next day I moved on west, and Fritz Gruetzner’s advice, I along the Mississippi river La Crosse, WI). A very ride, somewhat similar at the Rhine river near my of Frankfurt, but much bigger. I for the night in Rochester, Minnesota.

My next stop was Sioux South Dakota. On the way there I got my impression to the vastness of the North continent. The straight highways for on end, along seemingly fields is something to be experienced. I some comfort from an gallon of gas carried in a canister; it was surprising to see the change in the general In the metropolitan areas one will a gas station on virtually every crossing. In the countryside of the Midwest, it is not to ride for 30 or so miles until one can up again.

Next on my trip was the capital of South Dakota. It more long stretches vast fields (e.g. wheat). It was in Pierre that I had one of encounters, which makes travelling so interesting.

I was checking out a on Lake Sharpe, near and testing the restaurant when I was with in German with Tag”. The greeting came Judy and Kirk Miller, of Pierre who had come to the restaurant for Judy and Kirk run a small business “Weston Air, . Kirk is a veritable crop and Judy helps with the side (she had been to some 25+ years ago, the greeting – they had seen my parked in front of the restaurant).

My hosts in Pierre: Judy, Drew, Kirk Miller

He, dropped in at the Miller Residence

were interested to hear my undertakings and generously offered me to in the garden house of their nearby. Kirk turned out to be a aficionado of anything mechanical. His collection included – among — two VW Kuebelwagen, two vintage Landcruisers, and a 1959 VW beetle is in the of being restored. We also that day with a little around his estate on two quads.

As I the next morning for the Black in South Dakota, I was really with the Miller’s hospitality to a stranger. Kirk, on his way to work, over the house, to wave

Food Feature — No. 1

is an experiment within the experiment. the suggestion of my friend Annette in I shall attempt to write “food” in each of my trip — “food” in the widest It could be about special of food, or drinks, or restaurants, or or whatever could be summarized “food”.

Posted by Heiko at 10:10 PM GMT

June 15, 2004 GMT

Going West

An on we go. Following my positive experience with the Family in Pierre, South I move on towards the Black to see Mount Rushmore. On the way there, on a gas station on one of these straight highways, which don’t to end, I met with a group of (I believe from Minneapolis) who on their annual trip to the Hills of South Dakota.

We to meet for dinner at the Blue Lodge in Custer State Unfortunately the weather changed sunny-warm to rainy-cold during What could have out to be a relaxed ride along a landscape on great country turned into a slow, trip: the rain had turned the on the roads into a slippery which took the fund out of

Dinner at the Blue Bell proved to be okay (Buffalo Loaf). But the “homemade gravy” was not to add to the speciality (no case for the “Food

The next day was scheduled for the Mount National Memorial. I had always to be there, after having the film “North by Northwest” Cary Grant (and was some time ago). The itself had always seemed on film or on photos. I could not feeling a little disappointed.

Next on my agenda was “Sturgis, Dakota”. — Well not only among motorcycle this small town is the of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, year in August. Originally it was a place of Harley Davidson but – as was confirmed to me by locals – other are being accepted in the meantime. I had a experience in the Sturgis Motorcycle I found out that there I as a “senior” – I benefited from a $1 for people aged 50 plus. – was indeed the first time I was considered a “senior citizen” – and I did not have to show my ID card…. –

Next on my trip schedule was the north of Sheridan, Wyoming. the area is in Montana – the Custer at the Little Bighorn. The location, Last Stand, is where Custer’s unit was massacred by the

Indian’s Chief Sitting The site is impressive. It has largely unchanged, and together with the of the park rangers provides a good impression of what in 1876.

From Custer’s Stand on to Yellowstone Park. I the city of Cody, the home of western legend “Buffo – William Cody”. It was in Cody I found the subject of this “Food Feature” – see below

Bill – William Cody

Yellowstone Park. I had heard, and seen so much about National Park, that I had expectations. While the sights and the phenomena are really impressive, I could not help feeling a like in “Disney Land”. The of visitors – it was mid-week, pre-season was phenomenal. – It may be the more appealing the nicer setting, but somehow I the serene, sincere atmosphere of the Battlefield better

Yellowstone

After two days in Yellowstone I continued to head north. The stop was Bozeman, Montana, and an enjoyable stay at the TLC Inn, I to a small place just of Missoula. The Glacier Park and are waiting to be discovered.

People Met On The – I :

The words of old Gentleman who saw me and the BMW in a rest on Interstate 90 struck a chord: only way to see the country – on a motorbike”. is indeed true. Biker or not – the seems to encourage people to and talk. It typically starts just a couple or words, one is coming from, going to. became quite common and I that I should mention in my report.

Here are the more people whom I met:

“A family of four in Yellowstone near the Grand Canyon of – on 3-week trip through Parks of the West – travelling in a guided by Garmin GPS and worrying the two kids potentially getting by “too much red rock” dominant color or of rock in the to be visited).

“Mike and his two nephews – Oregon on a hiking trip Yellowstone”. Mike’s father was in the stationed in Germany, where was actually born. He went to if Frankfurt and now he is a fire fighter in

“A nameless mother with and son – from Dresden, Germany. The saw my BMW on a lot outside of Bozeman, Montana. The is an exchange pupil in Seattle, and was her family on a tour through the US.

“Alex — from the TLC Inn in He owns a Harley and is dreaming, one to take her to Alaska. We talked for a long time. Sorry, we each other for dinner and hopefully you’ll find the to go north some day.

I to turn this into recurring feature of future reports.

Food Feature II:

On of my places in Frankfurt it the Mexican “Rodeo” –

which arguably the best frozen Margaritas. I walked along Sheridan in Cody, WY I saw this:

It was the time for a

In the end it turned out to be a very close for the “Rodeo” Margarita: well taste, sweet sour a bias toward the sweet, the of the the ice: perfect (slushy The presentation: attractive.

The Chilis I had as a meal and the salsa for the chips an equally close match for my restaurant” in Frankfurt, Germany.

I am in a resting day (writing this doing my washing, plain around in an Indian “Tipi” venturing into the Glacier and on to Canada. More about in the next report.

Posted by Neumann at 04:45 PM GMT

June 22, GMT

Turning North Towards

It was with the best intentions I left Bozeman, Montana for I had seen an website for a campground in St. Montana, some 60 kilometres or so of Missoula. St. Ignatius, in particular is spectacular: a little provincial in northern Montana, with a a hardware store, a bar and a gas station.

had made it seem attractive was the that it had a campground with accommodation in a Indian Tipi and the fact that is was close to the Natl. Park, with the attraction of the Highway to the Sun — a ride in the Rocky Mountains should rival some of the routes in the European Alps.

So far so The positive surprise was that one of the was actually available when I (it saved me to set up my own tent). The next was that the place was run by a German Ursula. The really funny was that the most, if not all of the guests on the night of my arrival were Germany. What more go have a “German Dinner”. See under “People met on the Road”.

I there for two nights, hoping the weather might clear up. in got progressively worse and I cancelled me on the “Highway to the Sun”. It was not without but I was certainly not in the mood to risk rain (or worse) in high

In the end I had to face hard rain on the way to I crossed the border at the rather Roosville: nice reception by customs officials, easy

The first stop in Canada, was at the Campbell/Yard residence. I had not met Alison and before (there were of another Frankfurt friend, Baumgarten), but they were hospitable – the spaghetti dinner was – and they made we feel welcome in Canada.

I left the day in the direction of Calgary. On the way I passed the town of Sparwood, a mining in British Columbia. The biggest can be seen here:

Click for bigger version By the way, the small black at the bottom of the left front is yours truly…

Volkswagen Campmobile

Before to Calgary, I stopped at “High Alberta. – Accommodation at this seemed problematic (an oil conference in Calgary had occupied all motel By chance I was referred to a BB place in a residential place. Joan and Hay run a very civilised BB. The discussion Joan about the politics and in general were quite

Next was Calgary – which is special. I had briefly mentioned in an piece on this weblog I might be visit Canada. Smith of the Calgary community had this up and sent me an E-Mail to be of assistance if I needed help things, looking for accommodation or After a number of E-mail he even offered me to spend a day or two at his

So – following a first meeting in the of Priddis southwest of Calgary (I him, Brian then met me on his he took me to his home. He and his wife were extremely hospitable. The tour through Calgary a skyline not unlike that of Germany) was enjoyable, but the grilled the homemade pizza and the curry soup which they during my two-day stay excellent. I was also impressed Brian homemade red wine. I it for some very decent merlot.

Fortunately, this was a freak occurrence, the snow/ice was gone in a matter of an hour and the sun

I stopped for the night in a hostel in From here I went on to via Grande Cache and Grande (Alberta) to Dawson Creek Columbia) – the beginning of the Alaskan

People Met On The Road – II:

The ad-hoc group at the campground in St. Ignatius, From left to right: from Berlin on a 4 week in the north-western US, Ursula running the Rolf and his wife from on a 1 year camp mobile through the US, Mexico and Canada.

from Zurich. Met him in Sparwood mining city with the largest truck on display). was on a 3 months leave of absence his job in Switzerland to learn improve his and to explore northwest Canada.

The shop assistant in the”Bradley’s” and cowboy outfitter in High near Calgary. As a child she had to go to on horseback. “Bradley’s” is the oldest business place in Alberta, inn 1902.

Jerry Mulhall, painter born in Ireland and to Canada a couple of years Visited the Lake Louise together with a group of people on a guided “painting

Martin and Katja Wickert Hildesheim, Germany on two African currently in Canada. On a two year through Canada, Alaska, all the way down to Patagonia. We met after the shower on the Columbia Icefields and to Jasper together. Their (great picture gallery):

Elaine and Peter Haworth on from the UK. Peter has a Honda ST Pan back in Europe. The couple saw me my bike and we had a nice “motorcycle” in front to the local McDonalds

This time it was somewhat to find a Food Feature. But that came as a real was this:

The “Colossi’s Coffee was hidden in a side street of River. The coffee there (or the espresso and cappuccino) we of such that it could have served somewhere in Italy. The which came along the coffee were equally

The Alaska Highway

Dawson – the beginning of the Alaska Highway. in 1942, this road km highway through the northern of Canada and Alaska was completed in 8 months and provided an essential link to the northwest of North during WW II, and has since remained a transportation artery.

From it was strictly north. Accommodation and facilities and gas stations tend to scarce and call for some planning. My first major was at Watson Lake, probably known for the local signpost Started by a lonely worker on the Highway in 1942, this has into arguable the biggest attraction of this location.

was Whitehorse in the Yukon. I had intended to be a sort of “base camp” going to Alaska. After enjoyable days at the “Hide-on-Jeckel” hide-on-jeckell.com. I set course for Dawson made famous by the Yukon and the adventure stories of Jack

It was not until I arrived at the ferry on the of the Yukon in Dawson City, I learnt that the passage to Alaska via the Top-of-the-World Highway had closed due to forest fires after the border. The high weather system was stable of 30 C) and no change was likely for the next few This meant a trip to Whitehorse — some 500 kilometres.

This time I at the Beez Kneez Hostel before I moved north towards Anchorage. The BMW needed new and an oil change, and the local BMW dealer had mentioned and recommended by several whom I had met.

It took me two to get there. The ride would have been pleasant, I am but the large-scale wildfires in Alaska a smoke haze which any view. It was like fog in autumn, but burnt. I missed the Manatuska but the winding road, especially the stretch between Glennallen and was a great ride.

The tow day stay in was eventless (another big city) but the at the local BMW dealership were trying to give travellers a treatment, whenever possible. with a new set of tires I continued to north to Fairbanks, the start of the adventure, the Dalton Highway, a 800 (500 mile) gravel along the Alaskan gas pipeline, to the near Prudhoe Bay. To be in the next Trip report

It is for a general observation on “accommodation”: I that quite a number of motels, campgrounds in Canada are run by countrymen (or women as the case may These places tend to be kept, but I could not avoid a element of required “orderly in most cases communicated and/or by written “orders” (Do not do Do that, Such and such is etc.). Dawson City, Hostel yukonhostels.com is unrivalled in respect. Rightfully self-described as it was a bit too rustic for me. If management would use a of the cost for “do and don’t” sings for infrastructure, the place would receive a star in international rankings. The owner/manager Dieter in particular struck me as somewhat My roommate for the day, Rolf, was reprimanded misusing a washing This is not something to do with a guest, and if really deemeed then there are other, way. – Altogether the Dawson River Hostel was a depressing

An expample of the “order culture” in the City River Hostel

People Met On The Road – III

Steve and from Pennsylvania on two BMWs R They are on a 6 week tour Canada and Alaska. I met them for the time in Watson Lake. We talked about our resp. Steve and Charles were helpful in providing info the BMW dealers in Alaska. Subsequently we met by twice in Whitehorse, both over dinner in a restaurant to the hostel I was staying in. Steve and were also forced to their travel plans due to the in Alaska, across the border from Dawson City

(“Lotti”) Stein-Finder (left) – leaving on this trip, had mentioned that they had met next door neighbours by travelling far from home. this happened to me, too. my surprise, when I realized I had just met a former colleague of twenty years ago. I had not met for some years and we spent a lot of talking about “the old times” in the financial community of Lotti is off an canoeing/rafting tour in Canada. – By they way: the filet in mustard sauce she in the hostel kitchen in Whitehorse have made it into Food Feature, but I forgot to a photo. This meal, by a simple, but good Californian from the local liquor deserves to be specially mentioned,

Rolf from Denmark, Canada by bike. My roommate in the City River hostel and of the owner’s public “wrath” for a washing basin. See his homepage.mac.com/rolfsw


Arno from Switzerland. I met them in Watson Lake, we stayed in the same motel. and Arno are from the western of Switzerland and have taken a of absence from their job to Canada for 3 months. We seemed to on the general route and met coincidentally for times, either at scenic points, on the road or at motels. – for the cold beer in Beaver (!).

Renate John from Victoria, Canada on a to the western/northern provinces. First met at the in Whitehorse and later in Dawson Renate has a German background and I much enjoyed our discussion the Canadian/German cultural differences, on the examples of how some of the places we in were run.

Dave from Chicago on the way back coming form Prudoe I met Dave having breakfast in He was waiting for his Kawasaki to get new tires and a “real time” impression of the on the haul road from to Prudoe Bay.

When in City, hostel roommate suggested that I try Klondike restaurant in downtown Dawson for breakfast. The “Special” for $4,99 was a has browns, eggs, and a choice of or sausages. It formed a solid for a 320 mile (530 km) trip to Whitehorse.

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Volkswagen Campmobile
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