Day 39/40/41 – Billings, Billings, Billings

Billings MT – 24-26th July 2021

Saturday 24th July

Dave has already left and making his way before I am up, so I didn’t get a chance to wish him safe travels. He seemed like a really nice guy, he was from Texas and is touring with 2 of his buddies, staying mostly on camp sites so I guess he was eager to get back to them.

This morning I am going to go over to Honda and try out the Kawasaki, it will be interesting to see how much difference the 900cc engine makes weight wise compared with the 1300 Honda.

Terra and Walt are busy today so I am left to my own devices, however Terra is going on a girls night out birthday meal this evening and has very kindly invited me to go with her, I’m really looking forward to it.

So, I decide to get an Uber over to the dealer.. a very pleasant young man called Cody comes to pick me up. At the dealership Brandon sorts the bike out for me and I get my own helmet off of my bike. Brandon says to, ‘take as long as you want’, ok thanks I will. So off I go, I find myself in familiar territory near Walmart and Scheels where I went the other day and of course there is a Starbucks nearby so I do a spot of shopping and stop for a coffee.

I do like the Kawasaki and it does certainly feel lighter, of course it doesn’t have all my luggage on it, but even so it does feel better. I am starting to work out in my mind if I can afford it, maybe they can give me more on my bike and then I could scrape up the rest… hold on, don’t be silly that means you won’t have anything left to cover the rest of the trip. I was talking with Terra and Walt last night and listing my options:

Sell the bike to Honda as is and fly home early.

Sell the bike to Honda as is and fly east to a large conurbation such as New York or Chicago and buy a replacement bike there, the money I will save on petrol, food, accommodation, etc. could potentially give me a little more to put on another bike, so I would be able to continue the eastern part of my tour.

Swap the Honda in for the Kawasaki, but it will take some time to get the funds together so not really feasible.

Wait and see what they say about the Honda on Monday, it might be a really cheap and easy fix, but I can’t make any decisions until I know what the problem etc. is.

I decide to google other used bike places in Billings, there don’t really seem to be any so I am stuck with Honda really. I think I will just have to wait until Monday and take it from there.

I take the Kwak back to Honda, but Brandon isn’t there.. I’m quietly relieved as I don’t really want a conversation about buying the it today. I book an Uber to take me back to the house and while I’m waiting another staff member comes out and tells me Brandon has gone off on his bike to look for me, he has already been out twice… he was worried I had not returned and he did not have a phone number for me. I said “well he did tell me I could have it as long as I wanted”, “yes, I guess he didn’t think you would be this long”… oops! “So, what did you think to the bike?” “Yeah it was good, I’ll have a think about it and talk to Brandon on Monday, when I find out what the problem is with my bike”

Then I see my Uber arriving and just as he pulls up Brandon arrives back. I apologise for causing him some anxiety, but I took him at his word. He says its ok, it was just he hadn’t heard from me so was a little worried as to my safety. He then tries to engage me in a conversation about whether I want the bike or not, but I explain that I really need to know what the situation is with my bike first so am happy to have a conversation with him on Monday.

While I am chatting with Terra and Walt this afternoon I do make a point of asking them what I can do to pull my weight, Walt suggests I cook a traditional Irish meal… well, for one thing I don’t actually cook; I mean I can, but Gloria loves to cook whereas I only cook if I need to eat so I don’t cook at home. However I do start to give it some thought and Terra has said she will help.. we can go out and get the ingredients tomorrow… oh.. ok.

That evening I go out with Terra and some of her friends, we are eating at a Red Lobster restaurant, so most people are having crab, but of course I don’t eat fish or shellfish so I order a steak. During the meal Walt turns up in his full biker gear, of course, he says he told the manageress that he was the strippergram, apparently this did not go down too well, sense of humour failure obviously.

The food is great, but of course the air conditioning is running full blast, I hate too much AC as I really feel the cold so I am looking forward to getting outside in the heat again. Some of the younger women, including the main birthday ‘girl’ are off partying, but us old gals are all going home for an early night lol. An altogether pleasant evening, thank you Terra.

Sunday 25th July

A pretty quiet day, Terra is planning to do some grocery shopping and I have offered to go with her and give a hand. Before we go she has bought a selection of lily plants and we spend a very enjoyable 45 minutes planting them out together before the weather gets too hot. On the subject of weather, there are warnings in force for the next few days, it is actually predicted to be over 100F tomorrow and even over 104F on Tuesday, so incredibly hot weather… I am certainly hoping the bike will get fixed tomorrow so I can get back on the road and out of these guys hair, but I need to seriously think about being careful in the extreme heat for sure.

While we are out shopping I admit to Terra that I really don’t want to cook anything, I mean I have thought about maybe an Irish stew with colcannon, but cooking really doesn’t interest me at all. Terra tells me not to worry about it, we can pick something up on the way home… yes great, and I will pay as a thank you for rescuing me.

After we have completed the shopping we drop in to KFC and pick up some dinner. Walt has been busy all day in the garden, mowing etc. so he is pretty tired and disappears off to his den, Terra thinks he is asleep in there with Olaf. Meanwhile I introduce Terra to the marvellous Killing Eve series from the BBC, we watch several episodes before it is time to retire.

Monday 26th July

So today’s the day. Of course Walt and Terra are working so I am focusing on my blog until a little later in the morning when I will call the dealership and find out how things are going, there isn’t much point in calling too early so I decide to call around 11am. In the meantime I have done a little bit of research, looking at available bikes in New York and Chicago where there seem to be quite a few available so I shouldn’t have any problem finding another bike there if that is what I decide to do., I have also been checking out flights out of Billings and getting anywhere other than Denver or Minneapolis involves at least 2 flights, but the costs are very reasonable so I could actually fly to either Chicago or New York from here via probably Denver for around $300 or so. The other bit of investigating has been to find a valuation for my bike. One of the used bike sites offers an online valuation app so I have a go at completing it and it comes back with $2250 so considerably more than Honda is offering, that figure is wholesale not retail by the way.. I also check out Kelly Blue Book and it is showing similar figures so that’s a bit of ammunition that might come in useful this morning. Just before 11 I try giving them a call, but am not able to get any answer so eventually I decide to get yet another Uber over to the dealership.. it’s Cody again.

I arrive at the dealer and find that both sales and parts are closed on a Monday and there are only 3 mechanics on site. One guy tells me they have only just put my bike up on the the lift, oh really I was hoping we would have some kind of diagnosis by now. This means I am a bit stuck as I’m not shelling out any more money on Ubers until I know what I am going to do. I decide to go through my bags as I want to lighten up as much as I can. Outside the workshop there is very little shade and it is incredibly hot, I ask one of the mechanics if I can use part of the workshop to look through my gear, he seems a bit reluctant but eventually agrees. I also ask about Brandon, he said he was going to be in this morning.. apparently he was in earlier but has gone again now; he will see if he can get him on the phone.

I start chatting to the guy who is dealing with my bike, he used to live in the UK for a short time so tells me all about his experiences there. He says he really can’t find anything wrong with the bike but he will keep looking. Just then the other mechanic comes back, he has got Brandon on the phone. I have a brief conversation with him and basically tell him I am not looking to purchase the Kawasaki, (I have already decided to fly to Chicago and get a bike there if the Honda is too. expensive to fix). I also try and negotiate a better price of the bike, explaining that I have been on Blue book etc. the upshot is that I have asked for $2000 and Brandon has said he will need to speak with his manager, but he is going to a dental appointment now and will call me back around 4pm, so that is where we leave it for now.

I spend a further hour waiting for a diagnoses and the mechanic cannot find anything at all, the bike is fine, ok so I need to make a decision, do I sell it here and go to Chicago, or do I take the bike now and carry on my tour; if there is another problem I can just sell it then, at least I have an idea of how much I can get for it. Ok, I’m going to take it and carry on, so how much has it cost me to find out there’s nothing wrong? $218 plus 3 Ubers so all together $270… oh well at least my mind is at rest, sort of. I give Brandon a call and tell him my decision, so he doesn’t need to get his managers approval after all.

I re-pack the bike and then go looking for a car wash so I can give it a good clean before I set off tomorrow. Round and round; despite finding a couple of places on google I don’t seem to be able to find them even using my GPS, I give up. I go to Starbucks for a coffee and then take the Honda back to Terra and Walts. I have cleaning gear in my saddlebags so I can give it a quick clean this afternoon anyway.

I tell Terra and Walt that I will be leaving in the morning, for good this time lol. I think I am going to have to get up really early, like 4am so I can get on the road by around 5 to try and avoid the worst of the heat later in the day. I have already been in touch with Linda in Sturgis again and she has agreed to let me stay tomorrow night so it’s definite that I am going.

We take the opportunity to get some selfies before the sun goes down as obviously they won’t be awake when I am leaving in the morning.

Terra cooks a great pasta meal made with wheat free pasta and very nice it is too.

I decide to trim my hair and I think I must have a touch of heat exhaustion because I forget to put the gradient attachment on and scalp the side of my head so I have to scalp the other side to even it up… sheesh!! Well at least it will grow back eventually.

So it is time to say goodbye, again, and we have a group hug, with the dogs too, and promise to keep in touch. I tell them they are coming to stay with us in London, no arguments…

I know I have said it time and again, but I just cannot find the words to properly express my deep gratitude and delight at having met and been hosted by the wonderful Walt and Terra Gusler of Billings Montana.

Back to the road tomorrow at last.

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