Falling Leaf BMW Rally 2000

Written by: Mark Sampson

      Here are our bikes ready for the road. I would be riding the BMW F650 and my good buddy Cranston Crawford rode the 89 Transalp. The bikes were suited perfectly for the backroads, dirt roads, and creek fords that we were going to traverse over the next 3 days. We never had any trouble with either bike, but found we should have used more bungie cords as we started with two tents but only had one after arriving at the rally. This was Cranston's first ride of this magnitude and I was to be impressed with his riding ability all weekend.  Hey he didn't crash----and I did !!!!!!

      From Southern, Illinois we headed West towards Potosi, Missouri and the rally. Our first fun was crossing the Mississippi River on a small ferry at St. Geneieve, Missouri. The license plates read (in an abbreviated form) "Dualsport 2" and "Dualsport 3". We had gotten our bikes filthy already from riding along a levy on the Illinois side thru some terrific scenery. This was Cranston's first ferry ride.
       We arrived late in the afternoon as we took the longest and most fun route we could find to get there. We went down an old gravel road passing a no-trespassing sign on a dead end road, and as I was trying to turn around in this guys yard I fell over in his sewer ditch as he was yelling at us to get the #@%*& off his property. We exchanged a few course words and looks as I slammed my bike into first gear to make a quick get-away. My shift lever was bent and it wouldn't go anywhere (hope he hasn't got a gun)!!! I jerked it up into second and we were off----well another rally story to tell !!! Even if it was true :)
     Well there was the proverbial sea of tents at the rally and my hometown buddies were no where to be found. We finally hooked up later at our usual camping spot. Here is my buddy Roger Hayes (the cook) and me (lower picture) doing the rally thing!!!! The weather was still holding out and later we had a great campfire with some great stories and a few loud farts !!!! Couldn't be better !!!!
        My Buddy Cranston (who had his own digital camera for the trip) caught this guy having way to much fun in his dad's sidecar rig. Let's call him Daniel Boone. I think he has a frog in his beer mug !!!!
The clouds were moving in it looks like. Not another "Falling Rain Rally" !!



Saturday's All Day Ride !!!!

Ok---- so now comes the Saturday all day ride through the Mark Twain Forest. The weather was still holding out nicely. Me and Cranston had to sleep in the same tent as we had lost one on the way over---or at least we thought we had at the moment. I elected not to ride in the GS/Funduro/Transalp ride as it was going to be way to crowded for me--and I had my own places I wanted to go. We headed out early in the morning (Roger was still a snorin' I think), as I wanted to eat breakfast at one of my favorite eating places in the whole world, "The Bixby Country Store" in Bixby, Missouri. If you haven't stopped in there---you must. It is a very pleasant experience that takes you back in time--this is not a place where they put on for you---it's just the way it is. Don't wear a tie !!!

Bixby, Missouri at the "Bixby Country Store". Actually this is in the remodeled and attached caboose at the store where we ate breakfast. Cranston is finishing off his biscuits and gravy I think. A lot of the old equipment is still in the caboose and you can even crawl up in the upper part and look out while you eat. Someone spent a lot of time and money remodeling this---and I always enjoy it so much--Thank You !!!!!
Further down the backroads we came to one of the most prettiest places in Missouri. This bluff is called "Sutton's Bluff" which is on the Black River.

I was told by Tom Huff (who puts on the GS ride) that a rider almost went off the top of this bluff one year. The bike went down the hill, almost off the bluff where it wedged between some trees, where they hoisted it back up. I don't think the rider was hurt. Cranston's got his trusty GPS--too bad he doesn't know how to use it :)   He said "I don't need no stinkin' GPS" !!!  "As long as I can see your taillight that is" !!!!!!! Can you see the smile under Cranston's helmet ??--I can.

This is one of the neatest things I have ever seen. It is a man-made concrete lake on the top of a mountain where water is stored. At a peak electrical load--water runs down the middle of the mountain thru a 18ft. diameter pipe to turbines where the waters power is converted to electricity. Nobody I have talked to has ever heard of this thing. It is a very worthwhile trip up the mountain to see it. I once seen it empty--a caterpillar was down in the bottom cleaning out the bottom and it looked like a small little toy. You have got to see this---on top of Tom Sauk mountain I do believe.
Maybe the prettiest scenic spot in Missouri. The water going in to this grist mill is from a small spring which flows into several small ponds before going to the big wheel. I have been sworn to secrecy where this is (it is on private land but visible from a small dead end gravel road) and I would have to kill you if I told you where it was. Or if you got me a set of Jessie Panniers I would take you there !!!!
Well I don't ride to eat-----but I do like the food at the Church in Belleview. This nice young lady took our money and we had the best chicken and dumplin's ever. At the back of the church is a huge table filled with homemade pies and cobblers. What a way to end a days ride thru the Mark Twain forest. The church has this dinner always on the same weekend as the "Falling Leaf Rally". Very nice people--all having a great time feeding us. I never seen so many men washing dishes before--they were a bad influence on me !!!
            We were in no hurry to get back to the rally as we were having way too much fun riding---but we did  want to see the guy blow up the anvil again!!!!!! 

   OK--here's the scoop--way back in the old days they blew an anvil in the air with gun powder---a very big canon like explosion to call all of the locals together for something important. The anvil is suppose to ring when it is blown in the air---so it's called "The ringing of the Anvil"---I'm not kidding here--this if for real.


      Blewwwwyyyyyy!!!! Kind of like farting way to close to the campfire trying to outfart your rally buddies !!!!!

    The camera guy was shaking-----Cause he thought it was all over I think !!!

     I don't lay no claim to knowing any of these people.


   One of these people was driving down the road after sky-diving with friends in his hippie van. Trying to impress his comrades running down the highway--he put the van on cruise climbed out of the van and onto the top of the van driving with his feet--only to find he couldn't get back in. You had to be there and hear him tell it. Which one is he???


Sunday morning time to go home???----Nope---no way--the biggest ride of the weekend. East is home---why are we going South and then West then South again, whoooo pahhhhh we are having fun now !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

   Me and Cranston woke up very early in the morning. We had our tents packed and were down the road and hour and a half before the sun came up. We were both ready to ride and not let the weekend end.  I'll never forget going thru the backroads of Missouri that morning as the sun came up. One fun part was riding in the dark right thru a bunch of toilet paper hanging down off the trees where somebody had tee-peed these people's house. I stood up on the bike and caught a bunch of it on me and the bike and drug it down the rode for awhile. I know Cranston had to be laughing so hard he could hardly ride.

         But before we go---The Gateways BMW riders gave away this restore R/100/6 to some lucky fellow.
      I took several pictures off of this bridge. I love the old steel bridges---and they fall colors made it even better.

F650 on Old Steel Bridge.

Mark Sampson---plotting his next adventurous road.
      Now Cranston-----listen up !!!!

Keep you feet up, the throttle on and don't fall over----I almost did--man that would have been a cold miserable ride home.

         Cranston didn't need any help of mine. Like an ole' pro. Can you see the grin under his helmet ??? He made me look bad.
     I think he got a little up his nose. What a beautiful day.

Bollinger Mill

     Covered bridge at Bollinger Mill
     It will cost you another set of Jessie Panniers for me to tell you where this 4 mile long big cave is in Illinois. The only thing commercial about his cave is what you see. No lights--walkways or any of that touristy stuff!!! And it's free!!

     You must be prepared--have 3 people, and each person must have 3 dependable sources of good light. That's the rules anyway.

    Send me the Jessie's--and I'll send you the longitude and latitude. :)

      Overlooking Missouri, the Mississippi river and the Kaskaskia river at the Kaskaskia state park in Illiniois. The river actually changed it's course because of an earthquake. And the old town of Kaskaskia is in the river now.
     Back in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. This was one of those great trips to remember and I hope you have enjoyed looking at my pictures and re-living the weekend. We had ridden on some wet roads most of the day--but it never rained on us. We broke the "Falling Rain Rally Curse".

    Oh and by the way---we lost another tent on the way home--luckily cranston was behind me when it fell off.  Gotta get some more bungie cords.