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


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 stop was Sioux Fall, Dakota. On the way there I got my first to the vastness of the North American The straight highways for miles on along seemingly endless is something to be experienced. I took comfort from an extra of gas carried in a canister; it was quite to see the change in the general infrastructure. In the areas one will find a gas on virtually every street In the countryside of the Midwest, it is not unusual to for 30 or so miles until one can fill up

Next on my trip was Pierre, the of South Dakota. It meant long stretches along fields (e.g. corn, It was in Pierre that I had one of those which makes motorcycle so interesting.

I was checking out a campground on Sharpe, near Pierre, and the restaurant when I was greeted in German with “Guten The greeting came from and Kirk Miller, residents of who had come to the restaurant for drinks. and Kirk run a small family “Weston Air, Inc.” . is a veritable crop duster and helps with the administrative (she had been to Germany 25+ years ago, hence the – they had seen my bike in front of the restaurant).

My ad-hoc in Pierre: Judy, daughter Kirk Miller

He, too, in at the Miller Residence

They interested to hear about my and generously offered me to stay in the house of their estate Kirk turned out to be a real of anything mechanical. His vehicle included – among others two VW Kuebelwagen, two vintage Toyota and a 1959 VW beetle is in the process of restored. We also ended day with a little trip his estate on two quads.

As I left the morning for the Black Mountains in Dakota, I was really overwhelmed the Miller’s hospitality to a total Kirk, on his way to work, flew the house, to wave good-bye.

Feature — No. 1

This is an within the experiment. Following the of my friend Annette in Frankfurt, I attempt to write about in each of my trip reports “food” in the widest sense. It be about special types of or drinks, or restaurants, or recipes or could be summarized under

Posted by Heiko Neumann at PM GMT

June 15, 2004 GMT

Still West

An on we go. Following my very experience with the Miller in Pierre, South Dakota, I on towards the Black Hills, to see Rushmore. On the way there, on a lonely gas on one of these straight secondary which don’t seem to I met with a group of bikers (I from Minneapolis) who were on annual trip to the Black of South Dakota.

We arranged to for dinner at the Blue Bell in Custer State Park. the weather changed from to rainy-cold during afternoon. could have turned out to be a ride along a beautiful on great country roads, into a slow, careful the rain had turned the dust on the into a slippery film, took the fund out of riding.

at the Blue Bell Lodge to be okay (Buffalo Meat But the “homemade gravy” was not something to add to the (no case for the “Food Feature”).

The day was scheduled for the Mount Rushmore Memorial. I had always wanted to be after having seen the “North by Northwest” with Grant (and that was time ago). The monument had always seemed bigger on or on photos. I could not avoid 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


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…

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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” 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 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

Met On The Road – III

Steve and Charles Pennsylvania on two BMWs R 1150GS. are on a 6 week tour through and Alaska. I met them for the first in Watson Lake. We briefly about our resp. trips. and Charles were very in providing info about the BMW in Alaska. Subsequently we met by chance in Whitehorse, both times dinner in a restaurant next to the I was staying in. Steve and Charles also forced to chance travel plans due to the wildfires in across the border from Dawson City

Lieselotte Stein-Finder (left) – before on this trip, people had that they had met their door neighbours by chance, far from home. Well happened to me, too. Imagine my when I realized that I had met a former colleague of some years ago. I had not met Lotti for years and we spent a lot of time about “the good old in the financial community of Frankfurt. is off an canoeing/rafting tour in northern – By they way: the halibut in mustard sauce she prepared in the kitchen in Whitehorse should made it into this Feature, but I forgot to make a This meal, complemented by a but good Californian Chablis the local liquor store to be specially mentioned, however.

from Denmark, travelling by bike. My roommate in the Dawson River hostel and sufferer of the public “wrath” for misusing a basin. See his

Petra from Switzerland. I first met in Watson Lake, where we in the same motel. Petra and are from the western part of and have taken a leave of from their job to travel for 3 months. We seemed to on the same route and met coincidentally for several either at scenic view on the road or at motels. – Thanks for the beer in Beaver Creek

Renate John Ferguson, Victoria, Canada on a trip to the provinces. First met at the hostel in and later in Dawson City. has a German background and I very enjoyed our discussion about the cultural differences, based on the of how some of the places we stayed in run.

Dave Hinks Chicago on the way back home form Prudoe Bay. I met having breakfast in Whitehorse. He was for his Kawasaki to get new tires and provided a time” impression of the condition on the road from Fairbanks to Bay.

When in Dawson hostel roommate Rolf that I try Klondike Kate’s in downtown Dawson City for The “Special” for $4,99 was a classic: has eggs, and a choice of bacon or It formed a solid basis for a 320 (530 km) trip back to

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Volkswagen Campmobile
Volkswagen Campmobile

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