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DAY 1 - JULY 4 - THURSDAY

San Diego, CA to Petaluma, CA

We had a mild dread of riding our DRZ400s on pavement for 1,600 miles but other than paying $2k to rent a one-way U-haul, that was our only option. Even as terrible as it sounded, we had perspective on our side: Wayne owned a KTM 530EXC and I had a Husqvarna TE450 and those bikes vibrated like crazy at freeway speeds. In comparison, the DRZs hum like touring bikes. That perspective — and fistsful of ibuprofen — would get us to Canada.

We wanted to get knobbies at a shop near the border, but the leading candidate in Kalispell was closed on Monday, the day we'd be passing through so we strapped our tires on the bikes. It didn't seem like a big deal since we were mainly driving straight lines on paved roads.

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The ride was uneventful until we hit a traffic jam in Orange County due to a crash.

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That's when we realized how top heavy the bikes were with the tires. If we braked too hard we'd have to totter around on the balls of our feet until the bike felt balanced enough to stop. Lane splitting was out of the question — we wouldn't have gotten far before flopping onto someone's pricey rig so we crawled along with the cages.

Above LA the 101 was pleasant, even cool. Just past Santa Barbara we stopped to zip up at Area 1, which is the great-grandaddy of Area 52. That box? Yes, the Truth is Out In There.

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The downside of travelling with a small dog is that they can walk underneath the bike. This is the first (but not the last) time that Simon took the opportunity to clean my sprocket.

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My digital dash quit working a few hours into the ride. Fortunately, the Garmin has a speedo so I could maintain a consistent speed. If my legs appear to be in the wrong place, that's because my ass was sore and propping my legs up on the shrouds changed the pressure points and offered temporary relief.

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We got to Petaluma around 8:00 and my mom had dinner waiting for us. Moms excel at dispensing food to weary travellers, somehow getting third and fourth servings into distended stomachs. All she got for Mother's Day this year was a phone call. Maybe next year I'll make the effort to send her a nifty kitchen gadget.

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One painfully long day of asphalt down, two more to go.

586 miles, 10.9 hours moving time

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cute sequentially-numbered license plates. rolleyes.gif

They must know each other or something :ph34r:/>

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DAY 2 - JULY 5 - FRIDAY

Petaluma, CA to Crescent, OR

We left Petaluma around 8 am and started into another long day of slabbing. Everything was fine until we hit Corning, where the temp was 105 degrees. We pulled off in Redding, where we were both feeling a bit nauseated from the intense heat. After hydrating, f-bombing the weather, and tightening my chain, we were back on the road.

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In an hour we reached Weed, where we made the turnoff to Highway 97 and started climbing up in altitude and out of the heat. That's Mt. Shasta (14,180 ft) down yonder.

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We stopped at Big Pine RV Park for the night. The mosquitos thrilled at having visitors not holed up in an RV and took complete advantage of it.

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This was one impressively long and boring day.

439 miles, 7.12 hours moving time

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DAY 3 - JULY 6 - SATURDAY

Crescent, OR to Sprague, WA

Time for Simon to return to his Cordura prison so we can hit the road. He can use his plaintive look all he wants; it won't get him a ride in a car with climate control.

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A nice big tree in the middle of nowhere. I think you can guess what might be going on. This stop is slightly pivotal, as you'll find out in a minute.

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There's not a whole lot to see during our long slog up 97. Fortunately, I'm listening to an audiobook about the Donner Party which keeps me highly entertained. Not only did people resort to cannibalism, a couple of guys were actually killed for their flesh. My takeaway from that event is that I'll only cross mountain passes in winter with hardcore vegans.

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We finally get to the junction of Highway 97 and I-84 and with all the gas stations and restaurants around, it's a great time for a break. Problem is, Wayne announces that there's a problem with his battery and he doesn't want to stop the bike. Back when we took our bio break by the big tree, Wayne noticed that the battery was hardly cranking. It was Saturday afternoon and we had to find the nearest motorcycle shop to get a new battery. Since most shops are closed on Sundays and Mondays there was a sense of urgency. We pull into an abandoned station to get out of the sun and wolf down some snacks, Wayne's bike all the while running. Someone else is making use of the shade but he or she never pokes his or her head out of the van, even though the running bike is kind of annoying.

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Wayne pulled out his phone and found a shop in Kennewick, 100 miles away. Time to boogie!

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About 20 miles down the road we're taking an exit. Uh oh, now what? Wayne pulls into a parking lot and says we need gas. There's no self-serve in Oregon and he doubts the station attendant will let him keep the bike running while it's being filled so he pulls the Rotopax off my bike and tells me to go to the station and get filled up. While I'm gone, he dumps the two gallons we've been carrying into his tank. And just like that we're off again, hoping to reach Kennewick before the shop closes. I'm not too freaked out, though, because you know who really had it bad? Yes, the Donner Party! At worst we'll call AAA. No need to draw straws to decide if it's white or yellow meat for dinner...

A motorcycle shop in need is a most blessed sight. They have a battery that fits the DRZ and it's already charged up. Unfortunately, it's hot and there's no shade anywhere so Wayne is stuck installing it under the blazing sun. He likes to talk a lot so when he's not saying anything it's a distinct sign that conditions have degraded.

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The only shade is in the shadow of a jet ski. Rather than all of us suffer unduly, Simon and I decide that moral support from a distance is an important component of getting the bike properly fixed.

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Once the new battery is in, we push on down the road, trying to make up for lost time. We eventually call it a day in Sprague, WA and get dinner at a hamburger shack.

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Lucky for us the guy who owns the shack also lets people camp on his nice lawn for $10. There was a classic car show in town for the Fourth of July weekend so we share the green with some nice looking vehicles.

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One more day down...tomorrow we reach the United Provinces of Canadia and all its maple-leafed goodness!

411 miles, 7.17 hours moving time

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The 3 of you are my heros ! WOW thats hard core A$$ numbing riding. As always love your writing skilz...... had to try & slip in some ebonics just for grinz.... Cant wait for the next installment. Is taking Simon across the border and getting him home again an issue ? I know you checked all that out ahead of time. All the best.

Thanks

V.

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Wow, what a great adventure. Keep it on two wheels and enjoy!

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Is taking Simon across the border and getting him home again an issue ? I know you checked all that out ahead of time. All the best.

We opted not to cross into Canada (or Mexico) just to avoid the hassle, although we probably should've because it might have resulted in a great story about breaking Simon out of a Canadian prison for illegal house pets...

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Is taking Simon across the border and getting him home again an issue ? I know you checked all that out ahead of time. All the best.

We opted not to cross into Canada (or Mexico) just to avoid the hassle, although we probably should've because it might have resulted in a great story about breaking Simon out of a Canadian prison for illegal house pets...

Yep thats what movies are made of..... Of course at Simons expense...... Better safe than sorry.

Love that Pic of Simon in his "kennel". Wonder if his dog buddies believe his adventure stories ?

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DAY 4 - JULY 7 - SUNDAY

Sprague, WA to Eureka, MT

The sign heading out of Sprague needed a little clarification.

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Highway 2 through Idaho and Montana is gorgeous. With the sparse traffic, it's a road rider's paradise.

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We get to the Roosville border crossing in the early afternoon and let Alex know we're there. He had spent the previous night in Kalispell and at this point he is somewhere not too far away. In the meantime, we check out the border crossing.

Plenty of recreationally minded folks wanting to get into Canada...

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...but no comparable interest for the US. Was it something Homeland Security said about waterboarding people who love hockey and bacon?

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Is it just me or did they actually make this rock look like a sheep? I would love one in my backyard. I'd put a saddle on it and on full moon nights I'd drink way too much beer and pretend I was a cowgirl breaking in the world's meanest sheep.

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When I see Alex rolling up I start dorking out. The dogs and humans are about to join as one pack. Arf arf arf!!!

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We take the obligatory border photo in case one of us gets separated and we have to nail flyers up around town.

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That's Bob Clark looking like he's trying to pass gas at the boys. I looked up his name on the internet but couldn't find a Bob Clark that had anything to do with a crotchety old guy who lived near the border.

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We have four tires that need changing so we decide to find a campground and take care of that time-consuming task. Alex pulls out his DeLorme Gazetteer and we spot two campgrounds not too far away. We try to get to them but both times we encounter private property signs. Rather than risk the ire of landowners and their hidden punji sticks, we head over to Rexford Bench Campground, which we saw on our way into Eureka.

We are happy to do this trip with Alex because we knew he'd be carrying all sorts of crap we didn't want to carry. Case in point: scissor jack. His metal gas can is also the perfect height to keep the bike steady.

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What would be the perfect reward for enduring 1,600 miles of asphalt on a thumper? How about manually changing four tires while mosquitos continually deep probed you?

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Wayne's clothes are filthy after wrestling with wheels, chains, axles, etc. so I hand wash them in my collapsible bowl. As for that perfect Asian squat, I generally try to avoid using it in public not because it perpetuates a stereotype, but because people without the proper genetics may try to do it and blow out their achilles tendons. Alex attempted it but couldn't get his heels on the ground -- I was ready to grab my Spot and hit the SOS button if I heard a "pop" followed by the helpless swinging of a foot.

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289 miles, 5:32 hours moving time

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Good stuff !!

Hilarious ! :)

"As for that perfect Asian squat, I generally try to avoid using it in public not because it perpetuates a stereotype, but because people without the proper genetics may try to do it and blow out their achilles tendons. Alex attempted it but couldn't get his heels on the ground -- I was ready to grab my Spot and hit the SOS button if I heard a "pop" followed by the helpless swinging of a foot."

"Is it just me or did they actually make this rock look like a sheep? I would love one in my backyard. I'd put a saddle on it and on full moon nights I'd drink way too much beer and pretend I was a cowgirl breaking in the world's meanest sheep."

Very Cool.

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DAY 5 - JULY 8 - MONDAY

Eureka, MT to Swan River, MT

It's early morning and we're on a peaceful country road heading towards our first sampling of dirt. I'm cruising behind Wayne and out of nowhere a black cat bolts out from the tall grass and heads straight for the belly of my bike. THUMP! I look in my mirror and the cat is down. If I were superstitious I would actually be rejoicing at the outcome since I didn't allow that witch-in-disguise to cross my path. What's more, this happened at mile 13 into the day's ride so I crushed the potential of receiving bad luck squared. But I don't buy into the voodoo and I am just plain sad for that cat. I really like animals and for me to be the Deliverer of Death puts a damper on my morning.

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We get to the dirt and it's smooth as a baby's butt. If most of the roads along the Continental Divide are like this, we should've just done it in our camper van. Alex is looking down because he can't believe it's not asphalt beneath him.

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We're here the day before a road closure is scheduled. Rerouting wouldn't be a problem, but we're only an hour into our adventure and it's nice to stay in a rhythm (i.e., follow GPS tracks and not think).

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I think this is Red Meadow Lake (48.755708,-114.562518). This postcard lake has three camp sites right at the edge.

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Problem is, this is what happens to those who try camping there. These are floating in the water in a semi-circle — clearly the work of the Smiley Face Cult.

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We came across this cyclist riding the Divide (his buddy on the left joined him for the Montana leg). As avid mountain bikers, our respect for those who choose to pedal it is immense. Riding a motorcycle on the Divide is a ridiculous dabble compared to mountain biking it. Man, we are feeling like our sauce is seriously weak.

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Explain to me again why we didn't do this perfectly groomed road in the camper van?

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I had stopped to take some photos so Wayne had gotten ahead. As I'm catching back up I notice lights are flashing on a vehicle that's next to him. Did he manage to get a speeding ticket on a forest road? As I draw closer the vehicle is on the move and the driver waves as I go by. When I catch up to Wayne he explains that it was border patrol and they asked him questions like Where are you from? Which roads did you take to get here? Were you in Canada? They must see plenty of motorcyclists riding the Divide so I'm not sure why Wayne was worth stopping. Wayne said the guys were nice enough. He told them that Alex and I were behind him, which is probably why they didn't stop us.

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We return to pavement above Whitefish Lake and grab lunch at Piggyback Barbecue. We can hear thunder in the distance as light rain begins to fall.

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We finish lunch and are back on the road. At a stoplight Alex asks me if my rear tire is flat. I look down and if it's not flat, it's at least grossly under-aired. Wayne thinks that in his production-line changing of tires, he might've pinched the tube. We pull under a parking cover next to an apartment building where the extras from the movie 8 Mile ended up. (They're not out at the moment, but they will soon present their sideways caps and wifebeaters on the balcony. Either their cable TV was down or they'd never seen a motorcycle tire being changed before.)

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The cover gives us shelter from the sporadic rain as we work. Wayne pumps up the tire while I make sure the tube isn't binding anywhere. Simon is not allowed to roam free because this is the mean streets of Whitefish.

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After the tire change we're on pavement for a while. We stop for gas and come across CDT riders who are going south to north and are almost done. I'm lightly dreading New Mexico (heat and reported bad sections) and wishing we were in their shoes.

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We make our way southeast and eventually get back onto the dirt north of Flathead Lake. There's a lot of standing water on the ground so we somehow managed to miss the brunt of the thunderstorm. It's early evening so we settle on a camping spot in a clearing. We're near the Swan River wetlands and the mosquitos are having a great time at our expense.

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169 miles, 5:27 hours moving time

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DAY 6 - JULY 9 - TUESDAY

Swan River, MT to Moose Creek, MT

Welcome to a damp, damp morning. These wetlands are no misnomer. The sun doesn't reach our camp site through the trees so the tent is going to have to be rolled up wet with junk stuck to it. That disturbs my female sensibilities, calibrated for a certain level of tidiness.

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Being in bear territory, we use the sidecar trunk as a food locker. A bear could probably tear it open, but at least the racket it makes will give Wayne and Alex ample time to put on their shoes and get a head start on me (I sleep with earplugs), although a head start isn't necessary since I am among the world's slowest runners.

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Before leaving our camp site, we see a cyclist coming down the forest road towards us. Of course we can't let him pass by without a thorough interrogation. We learn that Pascal is from Switzerland and enjoys epic rides, having done such inconceivable journeys as pedaling across the Sahara. Wayne asked how he managed to get so much time off to ride and Pascal explained that whenever he wanted to undertake a new adventure, he just quits his job. He works in the software industry and doesn't have much of a problem finding a new job when he returns home.

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There's a small stuffed koala in the front bag that Wayne asks about. Pascal explains that when he's reincarnated he wants to be a koala because they sleep 20+ hours a day and their food source of eucalyptus abounds. He adds that the eucalptus makes them extremely amorous, but alas, chlamydia runs rampant and has had a significant impact on the population. Until scientists work out the vaccine for koala chlamydia, I would recommend that Pascal select another reincarnation vessel. Might I suggest the kangaroo? They've got killer cycling thighs.

The first part of the day's ride is more easy forest roads. This is the biggest obstacle in our path.

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Well, until we get to this one. There's no way we're crossing it — the workers would probaby be pissed if we even walked across — so we get out our maps and look for an alternative route to Highway 83.

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We leave Pascal a message about the impasse. If his route's the same, maybe we save him from excess pedaling, although he might enjoy the extra miles to fantasize about life as a koala.

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We get back to Highway 83 and cruise down to the Condon store...

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...which features an outdoor freezer with a beam that blocks the door.

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We're on Highway 83 for about 40 miles. The Ural has a top speed around 55, with little (maybe nothing?) in reserve to overcome hills or headwind. Alex recedes into the background and the only way we know he's still back there is the dot of his headlight. Our speed disparity isn't a problem, though; the agreement is that we always regroup when the pavement turns to dirt, or vice versa. Yeah, I know, it's pretty funny that the DRZ400 can outrun anything.

The trail picks up again at Seeley Lake. If I recall correctly, the problem so far with Montana is that there are lots of lakes but you can't see them because of all the trees lining the road. The Montana Tourism Board should work with the various government agencies to have view-blocking trees relocated. Certainly there's enough room in that big state for a tree sanctuary.

The above mentioned tree problem is why Cottonwood Lake (47.166726,-113.351916) is striking. The tree-blinders are suddenly removed and your eyes are treated to a shimmering blue that follows the road.

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Crossing Highway 200 drops us into the CDT-friendly town of Ovando. Today, we increase the dog population by 2.

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For $5 per night you can sleep in a wagon, teepee, or the town jail. A solar shower in the tent goes for $2.

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Not too far outside of Ovando we're back in the dirt. We try to stay close so no one has to eat all the dust.

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The horses cluster behind a sign posted for their benefit. One of them must know how to read, and I bet his name is Mr. Ed.

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Through this stretch of forest there's logging activity and the road shows the wear from heavy use. The bumpier stretches are tamed by standing on the pegs. Alex and Lola don't have this option and just have to put up with getting their teeth rattled. Alex gets some payback on a long sandy downhill that has Wayne and me plowing all over the place. What's fun for the Ural is usually not fun for the DRZ.

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We meet another CDT cyclist. Unlike all the other ones we've chatted up, this guy looks FRIED. His eyes are red and he speaks quietly and somewhat haltingly, like he's not entirely sure where he's at. I ask him if he needs anything. He wouldn't mind some more water so I top off his bottles. In hindsight, we should've attached a tow rope to him and pulled him into the next town so he could get a big fat cheeseburger and a good night's sleep.

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Remnants of industry, or perhaps random wall building.

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Montana's loneliest llama. Not even a horse or a cow for a friend.

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We cross Highway 12 and find a good stopping point for the night. Moose Creek Campground is about 8 miles west of Helena.

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I haven't had a shower in a few days and I can't take my filthy hair anymore. One of the biggest differences between my male counterparts and me is that their threshhold for odors and uncleanliness is a lot higher. Compared to the general female population I'm low maintenance, but compared to adventurers I'm probably borderline high maintenance. Greasy hair and smelly feet bother me, as does the fact that I packed a pair of green shorts of a hue that clashes with my green shirt. A dude just wouldn't care — how liberating that must be!

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The communal dinner tonight is what Alex calls "Taco Soup." It's a bunch of stuff that comes out of cans and something that comes out of a packet heated together in a pot. Poured over Minute Rice, it's a perfect end-of-day camping meal.

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190 miles, 6:10 hours moving time

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:heh:/> More, more........we must have more.... :good:/> :smile_anim:/>

I agree. This is especially entertaining with the dogs involved. Keep it up please.

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The horses cluster behind a sign posted for their benefit. One of them must know how to read, and I bet his name is Mr. Ed.

Of course, of course.

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Yo Monkey Business :excl: This has been EXTREMELY entertaining to follow :excl: VERY creative indeed :excl::D

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As always, a very entertaining ride report. I started reading and did not put it down until I finished. Can`t wait for the rest ! You should write professionally!

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