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Chili and Carolyn's Ride Report 2008

Who is Chili?
Chili is the mascot of, a motorcycle message board that I've been involved with since its inception in 2001.

Chili joined STN at its first annual National meet in...I think it was 2003, in Custer, SD. Ever since, he has ridden with members all over North America, tagging along whenever someone goes on a long motorcycle ride.

This report is an aggregate of the posts I made to STN during my cross-country trip with Chili in May-June 2008.

What is Chili wearing?
A popular outfit for motorcycle touring is the Aerostich Roadcrafter:

In August 2007, an STN member's very talented wife made Chili a custom Roadcrafter.

I added the zip tie belt for this trip so that I could easily clip him onto my luggage via a small carabiner.

And now, on with Chili's report.

Chili says, "what is THIS bullshit?" in southern California.

He contemplates the cruiser lifestyle while waiting for me to get a new tube in Globe, AZ:

Chili's starting to like the desert. Poor little guy needs a cooling vest for his 'stich, though!

Chili is definitely dirty now...especially after a ride through a sandstorm today. He must have thought so too, since he decided to take a bubble bath and relax back at the hotel.

Chili, you dirty boy! Look at the mess you made in the bathwater. :(

Chili gets some extra seasoning near Salt Flat, TX:

Chili in flight!

Going spelunking at Carlsbad Caverns:

Chili takes a dip at the artesian springs at Balmorhea State Park (sorry for the backlight) -- that's not a chlorine swimming pool; it's a natural spring with fish and everything!

Phoning home from the Hobby-Eberly telescope at McDonald Observatory in the Fort Davis mountains in Texas:

Chili dies of boredom on Hwy 90 in west Texas...don't worry, he was revived and was shortly relaxing in the air conditioned comfort of a Del Rio, TX hotel room:

Chili spent a relaxing morning frolicking in the bluebells:

But then we had a small problem.

Chili astutely points out that this front sprocket has:
A) No nut/lockwasher
B) One fewer tooth than god intended

Unfortunately, the above happened at 70mph.

Here's what the rest of the drive train looks like (pardon no Chili in the photo):

Here's Chili hanging out at Alamo BMW/Triumph in San Antonio, TX, after a 70-mile tow which I mostly slept through. No word on how Chili entertained himself on the drive.

Fortunately, I was on my way to see my good friend Monica in Austin, so she came down to pick me up. Chili and I are now staying with her until Wednesday, the soonest that my new parts could come in due to the Memorial Day weekend. Really, I could be stranded in worse places!

Woah, I can't leave naughty Chili alone with these wacky tobaccy artist types! Though I can see why he was so attracted....

After our stay in Austin, Chili gets culture at the Stark Museum of Art in Orange, TX:

Chili looks out for alligators at Lake Fausse Point, LA:

Found one! (this was right off the little deck at my campsite)

Uhoh! Is Chili dinner?!?

Chili checks out the New Orleans French Market on Decatur Street:

Sunning on the Mississippi gulf coast:

Chili enjoys our 27th state:

International Lounge Chili in Fort Walton Beach with my friend Paul:

Nom nom nom!

Is this a diner or a sushi restaurant? Florida has so many choices!

Nothing but class at Captain Tony's Saloon in Key West!

Chili wants to go to COOOOOBA!

Chili and I watch the Red Wings/Pens game 5 from Rick's Bar on Duval Street:

Back on the road and Chili visited the Coral Castle outside of Homestead, FL.

Peter, Chili, and I about to blast off at Kennedy Space Center:

Chili meets Private Ham, a smaller version of whom is now along for the ride as well:

Launch Complex 39-A, originally built for the Apollo missions (and due to be deactivated in 2010 in preparation for Project Constellation):

(Off topic: it's so strange to think of NASA discontinuing the Space Shuttle...the orange external tank with orbiter and 2 solid rocket boosters is exactly the image of "space flight" that everyone of my generation has...)

Chili gets an eyeful of my friend Diane in South Carolina:

The first stop on the "in law" tour in Greensboro, NC (that's Peter's uncle, me, Peter's cousin's husband, Peter's aunt, Peter, and Peter's cousin):

Checking out the Blue Ridge Parkway:

An awesome dinner of Irish beef stew, corned beef sandwich, and local ale in Lewisburg, West Virginia:

Hanging out (literally) over the New River Gorge in West Virginia:

Hello! I'm Chili!

Peter and I visited his old high school in Worthington, OH and Chili thought he could find some fun in the chem lab fume hood:

Chili snugglin' up to my sister in law:

The next stop in the in-laws tour: Columbus, OH (my father-in-law, sister-in-law, mother-in-law, Peter, and me):

Who's less amused? Chili or Ollie the cat?

Sparkler fun with Chili!

In Kankakee IL, Peter's grandparents Harv and Mary are a little confused as to why they're being asked to hold this filthy stuffed chili thing:

Chili notes with distress that the road to my mom's house (Musekgo, WI) is underwater. Note Peter in the background scoping out the fording possibilities (we chickened out).

What's a trip to Wisconsin without cheese curds?

A Mississippi River sunset in La Crosse, WI:

Chili has an admirer!

Happy Chili finally sees some dualsport action in rural southern Minnesota:

Chili meets a fellow fan of vegetables:

Prairie dog fun outside of Fairmont, MN:

Everyone loves Leinie's!!

Unfortunately, we had to leave the land of cheese, but then wandered through the land of corn! And you know what that means...

Corn Palace!!

Little Chili on the Prairie:

You gotta make your own entertainment out in the middle of South Dakota. Chili demurely averted his eyes.

Riding the jackalope: A fine South Dakota tradition.

The fifth head:

IMHO, you can't visit Mt Rushmore without visiting the Crazy Horse Memorial and, thus, Chili dutifully obliged.

Chili returns to his hometown of Custer, South Dakota.

Peter and I wanted to see where Chili came from, to see if there was indeed an entire Chili family to visit ("Chili! You have a suit! And a tattoo! You never call; you never write.....") but I forgot to ask Colleen where she got him before she left for her Oregon dirt fun :(

Chili finds a road that Doesn't Suck (tm) in Wyoming:

Colorado gives Chili a buggy butt!

Somehow I don't think Chili would make a good wheel....

BTW, I now have empirical proof that it is way easier to change a flat tire on the DRZ roadside than to do so with the F650GS.

The hiiiilllllssss are allliiiiiiiiive with the sound of Chili.....

Chili is depressingly close to being back in California, as you can tell from the return to desert scenery here in eastern Utah:

Chili checks out a DR-Z70 while waiting for Peter's bike to get a new tire (we noticed while fixing the flat that it had zero tread left).

I think he's quite stylish!

Where's Chili?

There's a whole lotta nothin' out on Highway 50:

Chili loves rural Nevada (and who can blame him?)!

Chili throws himself under the bike to break its fall. Not a scratch on the bike or on Chili! (Really, the bike was just tired and wanted a quick nap)

The Butte Mountains...Chili says "I like big buttes and I cannot lie!" (sorry, I've had that bad joke in my head since Colorado)

Chili keeps guard at the Eureka Sentinel Museum to make sure that I don't buy every book on Nevada history (I only bought one!)

Mmm, Nevada microbrew:

Chili was bored along Highway 50 and decided to make some fun with Peter's rear tire...

Chili is so helpful:

Once we were finally back on the road, Chili is pleased to make the acquaintance of Donna and Gary...friends of mine from many m/c forums who live in Oregon, who happened to stop at the same gas station in Austin, NV!

Chili enjoyed the Sierra Nevadas, despite the views being less than usual due to the wildfires:

Over 8000 miles and the best (paved) riding of the trip is less than 200 miles from my house.

Finally home again, the weary travelers relax at their usual sushi jaunt:

Some did more relaxing than others...

Since he was in town anyway, Chili cheered my hockey team on to a 4-1 victory! Thanks, Chili!

...sadly, it is now time for Chili to leave me for his next adventure. Godspeed, sir Chili!