So last year about this time I embarked on a trip on my Harley Davidson Sportster from Pensacola, Florida to Brewster, Washington to do this cherry-drying, helicopter-flying job. I knew the ride up would be an adventure, and almost got more than I bargained for. Part of I-90 in Montana was closed (closed!) and the 150-mile detour sent me down through the Bighorn National Forest, up over a snow-covered pass, and then over a 20-mile gravel, dozer-tracked road in heavy rain. It was horrible. I barely made it into Butte, Montana suffering from hypothermia. The trip took four whole days. I chronicled, whined and complained about it in this very blog.
This year was decidedly easier. Here’s the short version: We took the car.
No, it wasn’t as exciting, but it was more comfortable. MUCH more comfortable.
Flashback: Brandon and I had stayed in Brewster long after the cherries had been picked. Eventually we had to leave. A friend called and asked if I could be in Dallas quickly to help him evaluate a helicopter he was hoping his boss would buy. So I left my motorcycle in Brewster and took off in a car borrowed from owner of Golden Wings Aviationm Dave Smith and his wife Joyce. You can make much better time when you don’t have to stop every 120 miles or so for gas as I do on the bike. I kept the car in Florida over the winter. I told them I'd bring it back, and I did.
This year, another pilot would be driving up with me. The plan was to pick him up in Atlanta and then head northwest. And that’s pretty much how it worked. We left Atlanta around 4:00 on Tuesday afternoon. I don’t like driving at night, so we stopped early each day. But we started early too. The Trip Planner said it would be 2,626 miles if we went through Kansas to Denver, which we did. We got into Brewster right at 2:00 on Friday afternoon.
The mode of transportation this time was a 1998 Buick LeSabre four door with the 3800 V-6 (one of the finest engines GM has ever made) and 138,000 miles. We motored along in stately, quiet comfort, averaging 30 mpg. People often make fun of these huge “land yachts” that we Americans are so fond of. But I’ll tell ya, if you have a lot of miles to cover, a big ol’ American car is a pretty decent way to do it.
Our route took us up to Chattanooga and then Nashville, Tennessee, St. and then on to Louis, Missouri and then Kansas City. I’ve been across the country many times, but had never driven through Kansas. Can’t say that anymore. And it’s just like they say: Flat. We hit Denver, Colorado, then went north through Wyoming to Butte, Montana and Spokane, Washington where we jumped off the Interstate and took back roads the last 120 miles or so to Brewster, which has somehow eluded being hooked into President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System. We got rained on a bit in Wyoming, and snowed on a bit in Montana, but really we didn’t worry at all about the weather.
It’s great being back in Brewster! I’ve renewed all the old acquaintances…with aircraft and people, and even reconnected with my long-neglected Sportster, which didn’t for some reason seem as happy to see me as I was to see it. On the other hand, Mikey was as happy to see me as I was to see him. It’s great to be together again. I know that might sound weird, but we’re really close. It’s like we’re a team. It was he who got me into this mess in the first place.
So let the fun begin! There should also be plenty of stories to share this summer.