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Old 12-29-2012, 09:34 AM   #1
Paul_Rochdale OP
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From Sea-to-Shining-Sea-and-back 2006

Somewhere I have stored in the bowels of this unfathomable computer a rider's report of a motorcycle trip I did during the summer of 2006 when I rode from New Jersey to California and back, three months and about 17,000 miles in all. When I locate it, OK when my wife locates it, I'll put it on here but in the meantime, here are links to images taken during the trip.

http://s190.photobucket.com/albums/z...02006%20-%201/

http://s190.photobucket.com/albums/z...02006%20-%202/

http://s190.photobucket.com/albums/z...02006%20-%203/

http://s190.photobucket.com/albums/z...02006%20-%204/

http://s190.photobucket.com/albums/z...02006%20-%205/
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Old 12-29-2012, 09:43 AM   #2
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I retired at the age of 55 from the local Police and bought the bike of my dreams, a Honda ST1100 Pan European and the following year, shipped the bike by air out to Vancouver, along with my young niece Penny, and we rode down the Pacific Highway to the Mexican border at Nogales before swooping up to New York, Niagara and Toronto before flying the bike and us home.

I loved it so much that I vowed to return again and this I did in 2006, but riding solo this time. Sending the bike by sea was cheaper whilst I flew to New Jersey and stayed with a friend for a few days until the bike arrived. Getting the bike from the clutches of the cargo/freight people proved 'interesting' but more of that later.

I found the rear wheel bearings and rear tyre (only 7000 miles from new) needed changing by the time I got to Tucson AZ the only reliability incident of the trip. A few of the places I rode to - Blue Ridge Parkway, Little Big Horn, Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Zion, Bryce, Mount Evans, Pike's Peak, North Rim of GC, Las Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite, San Francisco, San Diego, Tucson, Tombstone, San Antonio, Natchez Trace, Tail of the Dragon, Williamsburg, Jamestown, Washington DC and NY. I loved almost every minute of it and will return one day as there are still some places I want to visit, and perhaps try Canada as well. The US is my favourite country, well it's fifty seperate countries each with it's own laws, and that takes some getting used to.
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Old 12-29-2012, 10:39 AM   #3
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Paperwork - good grief, the paperwork

PAPERWORK _ GOOD GRIEF THE PAPERWORK

SHIPPING - In 2002, I flew from Gatwick to Vancouver, Canada, with the bike in the hold of the plane. At 1700 return for the bike alone, expensive, but there you go. Newly retired, flush with money, etc. We flew to Canada as it is/was quite a bit cheaper than flying cargo (ie the bike) to the US. This time the bike is going by sea from Southampton to New York, for 547 single, care of the nice Tony White of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Line. I need to ride the bike down to the Southampton Docks on 26 April, and they will take the bike on board and lash it to an internal deck just like a Dover-Calais P&O ferry. The ship leaves on 2 May, arriving in New York on the 11th. I will be flying from Heathrow on 9 May care of Virgin Atlantic IF MY VISA ARRIVES IN TIME. I just had to scan my registration document to Mr.White and send off a cheque. For the return journey, which Wallenius Wilhelmsen can't do, he's given me the address of two US shipping agents I'll need to contact when I reach the far side.
VISA - Yes, until a friend came around a couple of weeks, I hadn't thought about a visa. Surely not, I thought. I worked it out and found that although I intended to go for three months, in fact it was 94 days, and for travellers entering the US for more than 90 days a visa is required. I quickly phoned up the US Embassy(at a cost of 1.20 a minute!!) and the earliest they can arrange an appointment is 3 May, with the passport being returned in at least five working days. This means there's a fair chance I will not get my passport in time to catch my flight. I went back to Thomsons (the travel agents in Maidstone) and spoke to Jane, the friendly manager. She telephoned firstly Virgin Atlantic then their Head office and NO - the tickets I'd bought in January were non-refundable, so they refused to alter the flight times. We went off shopping for an hour and when we returned to the travel agents, she seemed much happier. She had had another word with her head office and between them they'd agreed that their member of staff was at fault for not bringing the matter of a visa to my attention and that they would, if I couldn't get my visa in time, agree to pay for, and arrange, an alternative later flight. Bingo!
U.S. MOTORCYCLE INSURANCE - I'm using the same company as I did in 2002, Michael I. Mandell of Syosset, New York (www.motorcycleexpress.com). The Americans have a strange method with insurance in that I am insured for a certain sum - $50,000 - at $252. I could have covered myself for $100,000 or $300,000 or $500,000 but I hope this is sufficient. By the time I added a service fee and a mailing fee, the total came to $317, that's 200 for three months insurance (crikes!). I downloaded the application forms from their website, which I had to fill in then scan back to them, as well as my passport and driving licence. With my scanner out of order (no driver), Jade next door did the scanning - a mornings work.
PASSPORT - Visitors to the US must have at least six months remaining on their passports so I've had to get myself a new one. The rules for getting a passport photo are quite stringent too - no spectacles, no smiling, no this, no that, for instance.
DRIVING LICENCE - My old tatty pink driving licence wouldn't do so I've got a new 'credit card' style for the trip.
Well that seems about it. I've just got my four hour interview at the US Embassy to look forward to, when they take a fingerprint and scan my eyes, and hopefully I'll nearly be ready. Oh yes, I have to service the bike next week. Would you believe four spark plugs, one oil filter and one air filter = 72. Now what happens if I strip a thread in the cylinder head when I over-tighten a new spark plug.........[IMG]file:///C:\DOCUME~1\Master\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtml1\01\clip_ image001.gif[/IMG]

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Old 12-29-2012, 10:42 AM   #4
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The bike is hopefully on it's way - and hopefully, the visa

THE BIKE IS ON ITS WAY AND, HOPEFULLY, THE VISA

On 26th April, I rode down to Southampton Docks and handed the Pan over to Tony White at Wallenius Wilhelmsen. All of the cars and motorbikes are assembled in a multi-storey car park and eventually loaded by staff onto a massive container ship which sailed on 3rd May. Once the paperwork was completed, I caught a 31 train journey back home.
Yesterday I went up to the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London to be interviewed for a visa as I'll be in the US for 94 days - 90 days is the limit to not to need a visa. I got the visa photograph done at a nearby shop - these photos are larger than the usual photo booth ones - then joined the long queue outside the embassy. The embassy looked like a seige was taking place with barriers and scores of machine gun carrying Police around the place. After an hour and a half, we finally got into the embassy where I joined 300 other weary applicants as we waited our turn. At 3.30pm (!) my three minute interview took place. "Why are you going to the States? Do you have any family there? Do you have a mortgage? Have a nice day". They've assured me that I SHOULD get the passport/visa by Friday or Monday. That was it. There MUST be a better system surely?
Relieved at escaping from the uncomfortable place, I met up with daughter Lucy in Piccadilly Circus and we walked down to the South Bank where we enjoyed a superb Italian meal and far too much wine sat outside in the spring sunshine. A lovely end to a tedious day.

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Old 12-29-2012, 10:45 AM   #5
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New jersey, new york and new phone

NEW JERSEY, NEW YORK AND NEW PHONE

Well, well, who would have thought the departure could have been so straight forward? Heather and Lucy saw me off at Heathrow after snacking on coffeE and bagels. The Boeing 747-400 was comfortably 3/4 empty so I was surrounded by empty seats as I watched 'BrokebackMountain' and 'The New World' on the video. The visual gadgets were mind blowing, with lots of movies and TV programmes. I could even have emailed home from my seat.
Excitement is a funny word. I can't say I'm excited, apprehensive yes. It's going to be a long, long ride but with plenty to see. I shall be happier when I'm on terra ferma and re-united with my bike.
I've just checked in to the gismos and discovered we are flying at 39,004ft, and at 565knots approaching Newfoundland and Labrador, 1685m from our destination. The wonders of i:Map.
Upon landing, we all had to stand in a long queue and after 3/4hr reached the immigration guy. His initial gruff attitude dissolved when he asked me my former profession, so we chatted about length of service and pensions whilst the rest of the passengers, who were mostly Arabs and Indians, waited impatiently. I got the required rubber stamps and with "Have a nice time" it was out of the airport looking for a shuttle bus to Newark, where Tom was to collect me. JFK and Newark are on opposite sides of the city and some distance apart - in fact $24 and a bumpy hour-long journey apart. Upon arriving at Newark, I then discovered my new triband phone could not reach Tom but would reach the UK, so then started a series of trans-Atlantic messages to H to discover where my host was. 3/4hr later Tom turned up - the terminal concourse was on three levels and we had never been more than 200m apart all of the while - and off we went through the evening traffic to meet Tom's wife waiting for us at home in Roebling NJ.
With the ship due to dock on Thursday, I decided to visit NY - so a short light railway journey from Roebling to Trenton, then an hour-long express train journey into Penn Station on 7th Street, Manhattan. The streets were all hustle and bustle so I made my way to the EmpireStateBuilding only four blocks away. This was my third visit and although the views were naturally sensational, the visit had lost it's magic since my earlier visits with Lucy and Penny. After a couple of laps of the viewing platform and a rejection of the awful and compulsory ESB visitor photograph, I found myself striding down Broadway south in the direction of the World Trade Centre site. Dressed in shorts and sandals, it was only borderline-ly warm. (It's not only the Merrycans who can invent words). I came across an excellent vegetable market at Union Square and tasted there some stunning, liitle known 'real' US cheese. As I neared the southern end of Manhattan, I crossed through the dodgy Tribeca district, lots of hoodies and shifty looking individuals. I didn't look too touristy with my bum bag, did I? No eye to eye contact then.
The former TwinTowers site was surrounded by tall mesh screens and work is progressing in reconstructing the underground train station. Lots of bloody tourists having their photos taken in front of the mesh screens. In to an Irish pub for a pint of Samual Adams draft beer, ice cold, tasteless and $5.25. No crisps, no nuts, no pretzels. Then it was on the Battery Park where the boats leave for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I had been recommended the Staten Island Ferry, there were four in fact, and an excellent way to pass the time, with views almost as good. And FREE.
By now it was 3.30pm and and my feet were building up to a pair of blisters in my new, super dooper Merrell sandals. By chance along South Street, I came across the New YorkPoliceMuseum and popped in. Two rooms in the three storey building were so sad; one devoted to fallen officers with their shields around the walls and a voice reading out their names, and in another room, screens playing back the story of 9/11 and those officers who recued others and returned to the towers only to lose their lives. Too moving for words.
Then it was on to Pier 19 which Penny and I visited in 2002. This time I went on the 'Peking', a four-masted sailing ship, once called the 'Arethusa' and moored in the River Medway at Chatham. She was sold to the US and in 1974 towed across the Atalntic to join other historic ships here. Dinner was in a micro-brew pub over the road in Fulton Street, one of the small Heartland Brewery chain. I drank the best ever pint of Merrycan beer, an Indiana Pale Ale ($5.50) (don't say it!) along with a plate of Cajun food called Red Gumbo, a delicious spicy stew made from sausages, chicken and shrimps.
Taking my life in my hands, I decided to take the metro back to Penn Station and was directed to the metro entrance further up the street. It was grubby and with no signs, and easily missed. The grumpy (black) woman who was busy on the phone (to her boyfriend) hurriedly told me that as I wanted a $2 single and she only did $4 returns, to return to the street and get a ticket from a dispenser. My request that she repeated that in English didn't go down well[IMG]file:///C:\DOCUME~1\Master\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtml1\01\clip_ image001.gif[/IMG]. A fruitless search of William Street for any kind of dispenser meant I had to return to the helpful soul. She then produced a single ticket. Through the barriers and at a grubby fork in the passageways, bereft of signs and/or underground maps, I had to ask passers-by the platfrom for the tube to Penn Street. Spanish is not my forte but I was directed to the right train. I caught the express and light railway and arrived back at Roebling with a phone which wouldn't work and feeling a little lost. Then Tom drove up and all was well.
He's discovered on the Net that UK mobile phone users must add 001 before any US phone numbers, and after changing all of my US stored numbers, it actually worked. This morning I contacted the Wallenius Wilhelmsen offices at Port Newark. Although the ship docks this afternoon, I might not be able to collect my bike until Monday. I've emailed Tony White in Southampton to see if he can oil something.

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Old 12-31-2012, 02:48 AM   #6
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Bike retrieved at last

BIKE RETRIEVED AT LAST

After emailing Tony White of Wallenius Wilhelmsen in Southampton, he suggested I ring another employee in Port Newark, who proved more helpful. I was asked to ring at 1pm on Friday to see if the bike had been unloaded, inspected and was free to be collected. And it was, so after Tom had an unnecessary shower and made an unnecessary peanut butter & jelly sandwich, off we drove to the Customs Office in Newark, 60 miles away[IMG]file:///C:\DOCUME~1\Master\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtml1\01\clip_ image001.gif[/IMG].
We had to get to the port before 4pm at the latest as the union-orientated dockers down tools and buzz off then. A very talkative customs man wanted to chat about his recent British holiday as I tried to urge him on. Tom waited on double yellow lines outside. With paperwork stamped, we headed off for Port Newark a mere ten minutes drive away (perhaps on a Sunday) through the heavy traffic and time was running out. Thank goodness for Tom's GPS which was a dream. We finally reached the barrier to WW and the aged Tommy, the security man, anxiously glancing at his watch. "Down to that office there as I'm shutting in five minutes" he resentfully commented. $95 passed hands, more forms stamped, then back to Tommy. "Go down there, into the office by the second set of steps" he urged. Up the steps, into the office - "I've come to collect a motorbike" I panted.
"They've all gone home" she said.
"How can that be? Tommy only called up on his talky-talky one minute ago?" I pleaded.
We left the office looking for anyone with an IQ above 40. She came out from the office - "OK, there is someone here" she said. Back into the office.
"Have you found your bike?" Mr Angry asked.
"Nope".
"Right it's at the end of the queue. Go and stand by the bike and start the engine up".
Off we went and did as instructed. Five minutes later Mr Angry strode across the yard to us. "What are you doing still here?" he demanded.
"Doing as you said" I responded.
"OK, OK, I'm having a bad day. Right, I'd better check the VIN number. Oh, the VIN number doesn't tally with what's on my paperwork".
More wasted minutes. Tommy, surely a concentrartion camp guard in another life, was getting fidgety. The VIN number finally tallied and I was told (ordered) to ride over to the barrier and the lovely Tommy. Tommy then decided he also needed to check the VIN number and he decided the numbers certainly didn't tally after all. Mr Angry, Tommy, Tom and I all tried to decide whether the number on the frame was a '6' or a zero. "This is becoming a fucking nightmare" someone cried out. Well we got through by the skin of our teeth and very unimpressed were we. Back along the lunatic freeway in rush hour and back to sanity. What an experience, and in August I'm going back there again![IMG]file:///C:\DOCUME~1\Master\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtml1\01\clip_ image002.gif[/IMG]
It's not possible to stay with Gabe this weekend so I've been invited by Tom and Mary to stay a further night. This morning after cleaning and titivating the bikes, we headed off in the sun for a local ride through North New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. Once we left the northbound freeway, we rode along 40mph roads with pretty clapperboard houses either side and multi-coloured rhododendrons in their neat front gardens. We crossed the Delaware River at Milford then headed to the Vin Sandt 'Airport' - really a grass strip where we joined some Harley and Gold Wing owners and watched a plane towing gliders into the air. Also there was a Steerman, Tiger Moth biplanes and an ex-RAF Chipmunk still in military colours. Just before we reached the airport, a deer crossed the road ahead of us, a beautiful beige doe, oblivious to us.
We then headed back to Milford and stopped for lunch at the SHIP INN, a brewpub run by an English couple. A superb pint and grilled chicken roll and chips, then it was back on the bikes and into a heavy shower. With no waterproofs (doh) it didn't last long and we soon dried out. A nice 125 mile ride out - WashingtonDC in the morning then.

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Old 12-31-2012, 02:51 AM   #7
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Washington dc

WASHINGTON D.C

I set off from Tom and Mary's and headed south for the country's capital, WashingtonDC, a longish, bumpy and boring journey. Traffic has certainly speeded up since my last visit with my 80mph being positively pedestrian. 90-100mph is now the norm up here. The road surface was pretty poor as well. Lots of patrol cars stopping drivers.
When I saw the sign 'West Washington', I turned off but the scenery didn't look right. Black hoodies eyed up the bike so I got talking to another rider at a gas station who told me the place was pants and re-directed me to Crystal City on the west side. I'd mistaken the 'West Washington' sign; what it had said was I-395 West and that Washington, the wrong area, was the next right.
I found CrystalCity and it was full of very expensive hotels, not for me. Further directions got me to a Comfort Inn in Glebe St, Arlington, so that's where I am now. I quickly discovered the shuttle bus to Pentagon (aka Penna-gorn) City then a blue train to Smithsonian. As I left the station, the heavens opened - thank goodness for my kag-in-a-bag, only saturated from my hips downwards. Squelched into the AmericanIndianMuseum, then squelched up Capitol Hill until I heard the sounds of pipe bands. I came across hundreds of immaculately dressed Police Officers from all over the US who'd come to the city to commemorate their fallen colleagues during National Police Week. The pipe music was magic and very moving. There were various old Police cars on the parade as well as a Police stretch limo! Crazy.
Found the Capitol City Brewing Company in the old Post Office Building alongside the Union Station - excellent beer at $3 a pint during their happy hour. Got back to the motel after getting a bit lost on the tube, tired and damp and watched Braveheart on the TV.
Next day. Returned to the Mall and the HolocaustMemorialMuseum. Terrifically moving and after three hours I had to find a corner and blub. I didn't give much attention to my sore feet after that. Visited the NationalMuseum for American History, the White House and the World War II Memorial. The city is full of Police Officers and must be the safest place in the country. They seem to take pleasure driving their cars and bikes around the city with their lights and two-tones on.
Today - With hundreds of noisy schoolkids waiting to get into the Smithsonian at 10am, I chose to visit the US Botanical Gardens where I took advantage of a free tour given by an elderly chap. He showed us the ultra-rare Wollemi Pine, one of the World's rarest and oldest plants - less than one hundred near Sydney, Australia, and 200 million years old. Afterwards I visited the Union Station and joined the feeding frenzy at lunch time. I wasn't at all hungry but couldn't resist the Clam Chowder. Returned to the motel early to rest my poor feet - damn it, I mentioned them - and to decide what to do tonight. I could flip through all of the 105 channels of rubbish in the vain hope of finding something watchable.[IMG]file:///C:\DOCUME~1\Master\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtml1\01\clip_ image001.gif[/IMG] Back on the bike tomorrow and on to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Buena Vista Motel.
Incidentally I've been having some problems with both my digital camera and my triband mobile phone. The mobile has now been on charge for 48hrs continuous and it only shows that it's two/thirds charged. I wonder if the wimpish 110v against our manly 240v is the reason? I shall leave it on charge unless I decide to use it.
The camera showed the other day that it was full up, but only 48 images had been done. I thought perhaps I'd had it on too high a quality so took it to a camera shop (you don't really expect me to remember how to do it?) and was told that I had it on a mere 1 whatsit, so we upped it to 2 whatsits. I've now fitted a 128 thingy card anyway so should get 300+ images.

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Old 12-31-2012, 02:57 AM   #8
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Washington to blue ridge parkway

Well what a day. A day of contrasts. I left the hotel this morning and aimed for the R.66 at Fairfax, scene of the second Police Officer to be shot dead in the area within a week. It seemed a mad man entered a local Police Station and blasted anyone he came across. Anyway, as a result of poor road signing, I found myself heading south on R.95 towards Richmond, so I cut the corner and eventually found myself on the right road to Front Royal, the town at the northern end of Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The two roads are joined and run continuously for over 500 miles from north-east to south-west along the peaks and valleys of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains, hence the title of one of the World's most picturesque roads. After paying a modest $10, I joined the Skyline Drive, a road with no trucks and with a 35mph speed limit. At last I could ride alone with barely another car around, sometimes ten minutes passed before another car or motorbike passed by. The first sign of wildlife was a deer walking sedately across the road ahead of me, a beautiful creature, but a real hazard.Riders can and do get killed by them especially at dawn and dusk. The next animal was a brown bear (no kidding!). He was sat on a low wall as if waiting especially for me to come along. I slowed to a walking pace. He got down from his perch and lumbered across the road, climbing a bank and giving me one last farewell glance. Sheer magic! The next animal loked like a road kill, a furry bundle in the centre of the road. But as I approached he lifted his head, and wandered off the road showing his table tennis bat -like tail.I'm told he was a wood chuck (How much wood could a wood chuck chuck?)
I joined the Blue Ridge Parkway and the first shower of rain but soon reached Buena Vista, (pronounced by the Merrycans as Booner Vista). The Buena Vista Motel was a little run down but was cheap, a light switch was coming away from the wall, and my helmet fell off a shelf as the screws pulled through the plaster board wall. With no decent beer in the local store I found a Food Lion supermarket a few miles away, well stocked with quality liquid refreshment, and I came away with some cans of Steel Reserve beer, an excellently strong beer a bit like Carlsberg Special Brew, at 99c a can at 8.1% alc/vol. Bargain.
Incidentally I was staying at the motel as I wasn't booked into the Natural Bridge Hotel for another day or two. The following day I rode to Richmond thinking it wasn't far and that it may have Civil War connections. It was a lot further than I thought and all I found was a rough, run down area, with rough, run down sad-looking people, so I turned around - no signs to "Historic Richmond" or "The Centre" - and returned to the motel. Another 300 mile day. Later four really decent non-Harley riders booked in at the hotel and we sat and chatted all evening.
Next morning I called in at the Natural Bridge Hotel and saw Tom, as he and Mary had arrived earlier. Found Tom polishing his bike yet again. Rode off to the National D-Day Memorial at Bedford and at 3pm met up with Mike Miller and his friend Eric Jensen. We rode back to the hotel along part of the Blue Ridge.It soon became apparent that Mike was a fast, smooth rider, and Eric and I had trouble staying with him. He seemed to judge the numerous bends to a tee with no apparent braking, unlike yours truly. I got some of them right but had to brake hard for others. Eric had a scarey moment when he caught his left foot under his footrest whilst banked well over. The bike jerked upright and he left the road careering through the stones and leaves at the roadside. Fortunately he avoided the sheer rockface and got back onto the tarmac visibly shaken. We gave up trying to stay with Mike after that. After years as a Phantom navigator, riding an ST was a piece of cake to him.
Booked into the hotel and a lazy day the next day. Eric and I had a quiet ride over to a Radio Shack at nearby Lexington and I bought a 110v battery charger which in fact solved my problems with the phone. Shame the 98 page workshop manual didn't mention the fact that the 240v charger would be so utterly useless in the US. An enjoyable ride around the countryside followed before returning to the hotel and the banquet, um think school dinners. The meal was followed by an auction of donated motorcycle stuff where I bought a fur seat cover to relieve my poor bum, and some waterproof over gloves which resemble baby bin liners. A happy evening with lots of laughter.
After fond farewells, it was off next morning along the Blue Ridge - only a 45mph speed limit this time so it took for ever especially as the stunning scenery caused me to stop often to take in the views. I failed to reach the end of the Parkway and pulled in to the Blue Ridge Motorcycle Camp Ground in Cruso at 7pm after 421 miles. A cosy, tiny wooden cabin and a nightime ride to a Mexican 'restaurant' at nearby Waynesville.

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Old 12-31-2012, 02:59 AM   #9
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Blue ridge to chicago

With only six or so visitors in the campground, we soon got chatting around coffee next morning. ST rider Mike Cole from FL was in the next cabin to me. Chuck and Marcia Saladin with their Gold Wing and lots of camping equipment have promised to post me an SC licence plate - my collection of US motorcycle licence plates is burgeoning as I was donated about eight at the last hotel. Interestingly the cookhouse at the campground had dozens of them, even the much sought after Alaska plate. Yes, I was tempted to unscrew it but... Daniel Walton (BMW) from Vermont, and I left together to ride the remaining part of the Parkway, the more interesting part I was told. The western end was certainly more rugged and higher that the eastern end with it's azaleas. The rain returned so progress was slow on the wet bends, and we had a photo session when we reached the Parkway's highest point, Richland Balsam Overlook at 6047ft. Later at ground level, Daniel even generously paid for my tankful of gas - a touching and generous act. By the way the Parkway is 469.1 miles in length. Passed through Cherokee which turned out to be an Indian reservation , then Daniel and I went our separate ways.
I soon arrived at the Cherohala Skyway, an almost deserted road with 70mph straights joining 65mph sweeping bends, half an hour of adrenaline rush as I rocketed from 3000 up to 4000 down to 3000 then 2000ft. Deep joy.
Finally reached Crossville but made a cock up. Anne's house was in Knoxville, 75 miles east of Crossville. Damn! Finally reached Anne's house but with no one at home, I left a note, and searched for a local Motel 6. (I had been trying to dial the freekin' zip code!) I finally reached this $30 oasis at 8.15pm and finished the memorable day at Ruby Tuesdays opposite with a Sonora Pasta and Californian Merlot, a gift at a mere $10 a bottle.
Drink is a strange subject over here and each state and even each county has it's own laws and habits. At Beuna Vista, the store sold any beer as long as it was labelled 'Lite', and "No Sir we don't sell wine". For that I had to travel 3 miles to a supermarket. The Blue Ridge Campground was in a dry county. When I went into Shoneys, which incidentally was empty, they sold no beer or wine as I was told they were a "family restaurant". OK to smoke in front of the children but not to drink a glass of beer then?
On Tuesday I left the Motel 6 and rode north through the famed Cumberland Gap - I saw no gap but a big highway which climbed and climbed into the sky. Finally reached Indianapolis and took yet another wrong turn which meant riding through the city - it was very hot, about 82f - to find the impressive Indianapolis Speedway. Practice had ended for the day but I did visit the immaculate Hall of Fame museum. A bargain at only $3 so at least I came away with a $2 sticker.
I continued riding for as long as I could, finally stopping at another Motel 6 at MerrillvilleIN just south of Chicago - another tiring day and at 529 miles, my longest ever ride. How other riders manage 1000 mile days, I'll never know. I'm exhausted after a mere 500 miles. Still the more miles today, the less tomorrow when I should reach Paul's place in Minnesota. Evening meal at a local Italian American joint. Loud rock music, video of motorcycle acrobatic stunts, they even kindly ran the near frozen Samuel Adams beer under the hot tap for me so I could taste it. The barman thought my US ride was "cool shit" and gave me a "five", although I can't see me wearing my cap back to front just yet.
With all of this riding, it's easy to see the small differences between driving habits here and at home. Seatbelt advertising is everywhere so presumably this is a new thing here? On this morning's Fox News, they showed a clip of film when a car changed lanes and collided with an SUV which was forced onto the central reservation before barrel rolling violently about a dozen times. One noticeable trait is the failure to move back to the right hand lane after an overtake. Some drivers lazily stay in the lefthand lane for ever, so undertaking is both normal and expected. There are signs up telling drivers to move back but many ignore this. Overtakes can be painfully slow. I often come up behind cars doing 71mph passing a truck at 70mph, so this takes for ever as I sit there in the turbulence. I always accelerate past the truck then resume my cruising speed, usually 80mph when possible.
Flipping through the TV channels this morning I discovered I'd crossed a time zone so could have an extra hour in bed.
The digital camera was on charge all night but failed to fully charge so it's another trip to a Radio Shack then.

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Old 12-31-2012, 03:20 AM   #10
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Chicago to minnesota

Damn it, I just typed the last page out and failed to save it. Here goes again then..
When I left my Motel 6 this morning, the weather looked gloomy, and soon I was wet and lost somewhere in the suburbs of Chicago. A stop at a friendly truckers cafe, then with eggs and corn beef hash inside of me, and my resolve restored, by midday I finally left the roadworks chaos behind and headed north towards Milwaukee and more showers. I had to face the prospect of another tediously long ride but at least this puts me within reasonable distance of Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore which I aim to reach on Saturday. The first two showers I managed to stop and don my waterproofs - and the mini-binliners DID work well. The last shower was a thunderstorm with heavy rain, black rolling clouds, lightning and torrential rain. The spray off the road was waist high as the road markings disappeared, as did the rear lights of the cars ahead of me. Only their roofs guided me. I couldn't even guess where the hard shoulder was. I was soaked but the sun soon came out and I began to dry out. The temperature had fallen from 23c to 11c in minutes.
I called in for gas at Madison when an old chap asked me if I had a tyre pressure gauge. He said his dashboard warning light had come on warning him of a problem with the tyre pressures of his hire car. There was a problem OK, he'd got 57psi in one front tyre! We began to lower the pressure to try to reach the 30psi of the other front one when he decided the car needed to go back to a dealer so he drove off with a 37-30psi combination. Odd.
My scariest moment of the trip came as I left the I-90 to go through La Crosse (I should have stayed on the I-90 until after I crossed the Mississippi) when I needed to perform a U-turn on a busy dual carriageway. With almost no one behind me, I looked, signalled and began to move left when another mirror check showed a very fast moving blue pickup truck coming up behind me on a collision course. I swerved to the right as he swerved to his left with a screech of tyres, as he shot passed me at about 70. It was a 45mph road. Shit.
I returned to the I-90 and exited it where I should have done then headed north along a beatiful undulating and deserted road along the west bank of the mighty Mississippi River to Kellogg where I met up with Paul and his friend Christian Aakland who escorted me back to Paul's house. There I met Joan and Isaac (Paul's wife and baby son) and Jennifer (Christian's wife). We went out for an evening meal at a riverside restaurant and enjoyable all round conversation.
My mileage since leaving Tom and Mary's house on Sunday = 2466 miles.[IMG]file:///C:\DOCUME~1\Master\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtml1\01\clip_ image001.gif[/IMG]

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Old 12-31-2012, 03:25 AM   #11
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Minnesota to rapid city

A couple of relaxing days spent at the Ward homestead - oh, I did go out for a short ride on Thursday, across the river into Wisconsin to Durand, Mondovi and Alama where I saw the rusting wreck of a rare Edsel car. That short ride turned out to be 135 miles. On Friday I cooked a spaghetti bolognese. Jennifer and Christian came around for dinner. That seemed to go down well.
Friday morning. "The speed Sir in this state is 55mph and I've clocked your speed at 68, 13 over the limit" said the nice Sheriff of Winona. I'd only left Paul and Joan's ten minutes earlier before the familiar flashing lights in my mirrors caused me to pull over. His body language was relaxed and when he returned from failing to check me out with my UK driving licence, my "best I/D card in the World'" came out. We chatted, shook hands, and I was on my way. Where the heck had he come from?
I got onto R.14 heading west and the road was very long, very straight, very flat and featureless and utterly dull, so it was a relief to reach Pierre, South Dakota at 6.15pm where the temp was 97f! Nice motel. Trouble with battery charger. It seems the alternative adaptor which didn't fit the house charger but did fit the car charger was a 'marketing fault'. I was sold by Radio Shack a $30 40w Reverse Voltage Converter but when I reached my motel room and unwrapped it from its packaging, none of my plugs fitted the European two-pin holes.
I called in at a local sports bar to discover they were holding women wrestling and midget wrestling there. "Would I care to pay $8 to go in?" No thanks. Found Mad Mary's Steakhouse after discovering another teetotal restaurant. It seems the word FAMILY in the title of the restaurant means the customers enjoy Diet Coke or water with their meals.
Next day I found a Harley Owners Guide to the US left on my bike, by the friendly Harley guy in the next room, whose potato-potato had left earlier. Nice touch. I left Pierre on the R.83 and headed outa town along the deserted highway. Cool and idyllic. First stop was at the PioneerAutoMuseum at Murdo - lots of cars, bikes and tons of memorabilia. A strange old man in a sheriff's outfit allowed me to actually fire his Colt 45, albeit with percussion caps, but it still shocked the local birdlife. I was also recommended the BadlandCountryPark, so rode there and bought a $50 ticket which allows me into any national park for a year. Badlands is famous for its amazing eroded cliffs, like a moonscape; lots of visitors though. I also popped into the Prairie Homestead (www.whiteprairiedogs.com) the original home of Mr & Mrs Ed Brown built in 1909 from clods of earth bound together with the roots of cottonwood. I saw dozens of white prairie dogs, small squirrel-like animals who live in hole in the ground. The small ones are beige in colour and playful, whilst the adults are white and stand erect, keeping guard and letting out a warning screech if people got too close.
I pulled into Wall to visit the Museum of Wounded Knee - not a proud moment in America's history - and decided to book into a Motel 6. I must have crossed a time line as it turned out to be 2.30pm! I got talking to a couple of middle-aged Gold Wing owners on their way back to Alabama.
That evening I noticed a severe weather warning in nearby Rapid City - crikey, that's not far from me - and within fifteen minutes, a terrific thunderstorm erupted and the heavens opened. No water shortage here then..
Well the rain had stopped by the morning and I found that a wayward plastic dustbin had knocked a wing mirror off. I said cheerio to Raymond and his mate and headed off to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, only a few miles from one another, on R.16. Both were stunning but for different reasons. Rushmore was created by an army of workers, before work came to a halt at the start of WW2 when the money dried up. What was once just a massive sculpture is now the national memorial to the American people. The add-on viewing terrace, cafe, cinema and exhibition displays have been tastefully created in polished granite. The Americans certainly know how to create their memorials well. I could have done without the never-ending grinning tourists having their photos taken in front of just about anything. How about in front of some road kill, Folks?
The heads themselves were rivetting though. In a much paler colour than the surrounding rock, when the sun peeped out from behind the clouds, they lit up as if on command. I just couldn't take my eyes off them. Very moving.
Crazy Horse is on an altogether even more enormous scale. All of the Rushmore heads can fit onto Crazy Horse's head! One man alone started this task of creating the World's largest sculpture, after being approached by an old Indian chief to commemorate their hero; in fact it's to celebrate the Indian nation. After seeing everything on display in the visitor centre, I caught the tourist bus up to the foot of the mountain and shared the view with a group of beavers gamboling in the grass twenty yards away.
I finally found yet another Radio Shack in Rapid City and now have a super-dooper charger as the converter "would never have worked". Later in the evening I was waiting to cross the road when two yoblets in a car went by and screamed out insults. What a shame these twits had to do that. I felt very angry at that. It seems popular over here and had also happend in Pierre too. Popped into Ruby Tuesdays to discover they cannot sell alcohol on Memorial Day - Jeez they have some strange laws over here. After the meal and whilst walking back to the motel. a deer ran across the road yards in front of a male/female couple on a pair of Harleys. That was close. In town too.

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Old 12-31-2012, 03:27 AM   #12
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Rapid city to cody

Digital camera checked this morning and STILL a single bar showing so back to Radio Shack again. Another employee asured me that the most likely cause was a poor battery and "No" they didn't have one but directed me to another shop which did.
Headed west and stopped in Sturgis, the home of the largest ever annual gathering of motorcycles, in August. I called into the modest motorcycle museum and chatted at length to the attractive curator. Finally got going again at 11.45am and still no breakfast. I'm having breakfasts later and later on this trip, still it does save on one meal a day, as I then wait until a larger evening meal. Passed through the town of Belle Forche and stopped at the Legends Hickory Pit. I asked for a beefburger and received a sensation. Instead of a mere beefburger I got a great chunk of beef. The owner proudly told me he smokes his beef brisket in his smokery for 30hrs. I could almost have sucked the beef through a straw, it was that tender. He even gave me a spare rib to try, not the skimpy efforts I've tried at home in the past but more 'liquid' meat. Wow.
Rode further west and finally reached the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Memorial after passing many antelope en route, although only one was by the roadside. It seems that these Wyoming Pronghorn Antelope are shot for food in the autumn. After visiting the site of the battle, I decided to return in the morning to spend more time there. I met up with another rider, Chris from PortlandOR with his little Suzuki Savage. He told me a sorry story of a robbery in a test stop near to Chicago, when he and a riding companion were actually attacked by a couple of Mexicans who stole their riding gear, cameras and money. A local bike shop gave him a tatty helmet and leather jacket with a broken zip to get him home. Chris was a little chap and the bruising on his face was still visible. We went for a drink that night, tried fried chicken (very good) and I got slaughtered at pool. My English rules amazed him. "You'd get beaten up playing like that where I come from" he said. He had worked for United Airlines for twenty years but as they had folded, he'd lost his job. I wonder what the future holds for him at the age of 58yrs.
I checked the camera next morning - new battery - and.....no difference. I've just about run out of ideas. However when I stay somewhere for longer than just one night, I'll leave it charging for 48hrs and try that. Visited Little Big Horn again - very moving, many English served and lost their lives with the 7th Cavalry - Custer seems to have been a hot-headed fool, in that he divided his force and attacked a vastly superior Indian force.
I said farewell to Chris and started off toward Yellowstone along the R.90 to Ranchester then off along the I.14. I slowly climbed through the sweeping 3rd/4th bends of the BigHornMountains - I knew GranitePass topped out at 8950ft. The serpentine climb was thrilling but as we rose, I worried about the lack of gas. As we went higher and higher, and into the conifer trees, the engine began to lack power. Please don't stop now, I thought, but as the needle was way below it's usual stop, I cruised into a mountain lodge with petrol pumps. The temp had fallen dramatically from 23c to 9c and I was cold but relieved. 6 1/2 gallons went in - I've never done that before. I was advised to take the 14 ALT to Lovell and Powell as this was more picturesque, and she wasn't joking. I left the tree line as we climbed higher and higher, and areas of snow appeared. I finally stopped at 9350ft and surveyed the landscape in awe. I could see the hot moonscape in the valley below as I stood on this chilly mountain. Truly beautiful. I then started down the far side, sweeping through the gentle curves as my bike thermometer showed things were getting warmer and it soon showed 23c again. I finally pulled into Cody, home of Buffalo Bill, found a motel and phoned H. It seems my trouble with the phone card is that the international dialling code for the UK is now 44 not 044. Bloody Merrycan phones. Still the most stunning road I've ever been on. Truly amazing.
During the evening I visited the IrmaHotel, built by Buffalo Bill for his daughter of the same name. What a place. A lush extravagance of Victoriana, rich colours and even a cast cherrywood bar in the restaurant paid for by Queen Victoria and shipped over from the UK.
Today? Camera on charge all night, and no difference. Spent the morning in the library trying to get my hotmail, even the staff were flabbergasted. Finally changed to another terminal and although that one worked, I'd run out of my thirty allotted minutes, so I found an internet cafe. Tonight? A staged gunfight in the closed off main street and a rodeo. Yippee!

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Old 12-31-2012, 03:34 AM   #13
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Cody to jackson

Absolutely brilliant! I was just timed out in this Jackson internet cafe and it wiped out 1/2hr of writing! F***!)
Friday. Another lazy day in Cody but I simply couldn't leave without visiting the impressive Buffalo Bill Historical Museum just yards from the Sunride Motor Inn where I'm staying. The building has four museums and art galleries in the one building, and truly impressive especially the Draper Natural History Museum. Just right for kids. But after five hours of admiring painting of cowboys and injuns, even my enthusiasm waned.
Tonight I took a battered old bus ride to see the World Famous Cody Rodeo, a slight exaggeration there I think, as a mere 200 spectators turned up to witness the event. Whilst the professionals turn up in July, these were local amateurs. In the bull riding event only one stayed on past the 8 seconds required to start the clock. In one event children from the crowd were invited into the ring to try to snatch ribbons tied to the tails of two calves. Good fun.
Next morning it was an 8am start as I rode west following the Shoshone River the fifty miles to the eastern entrance of Yellowstone. Surely the best time of the day to ride, cool and with empty roads, even at 70 I could still admire the terracotta canyons and the serpentine ribbon ahead of me. Once in the park, I encountered the road works Raymond had described to me. It was dire. The road was unlevelled roadstone and the bike wobbled and slithered all over the place between humps and furrows. At a mere 10mph, impatient drivers soon got fed up with my antics and pased me by. The worst sections were only a few hundred yards long before simply gravel on muddy tarmac. After four miles of this it was a relief to get back onto normal roads.
The first bison sighting caused me to stop, but I was to see hundreds more before the day was out.
As I neared CanyonVillage, I noticed a white BMW GS by the side of the road. At a pull-over, the rider caught me up, and who should it be but Mike Oughton from the UK, the guy I sold my GS panniers to! He was on his umpteenth visit to the country. What a VERY small world, eh?
I continued and saw some deer and even a black bear at Mammoth Hot Springs, although he was a hundred yards away as I stood with the awestruck Japanese tourists. I reached Old Faithful just in time to join the hundred or so spectators witness quite a disappointing display. I'd read that the jet reached 100ft but this time it could only manage 25ft or so. The old timer apparently can't get it up these days then?
I rode on through the Grand Tetons which stood majestic and snow covered on the far side of JacksonLake. How the early French trappers likened them to three breasts I don't know. They must surely have been away from home for too long. :-)
Finally rode through Jackson and found, after three attempts, a room at the Virginian. Lots of pick-up trucks driven by good old Southern boys with loud voices and expanding waistlines, who arrived back at the motel with their noisy families at one in the morning. Ate a delicious small steak at the Gun Barrel Restaurant and watched the fatties become fatter still. On the TV News it said that the government was trying to do something about the enormous portions served to customers in restaurants, but I think the people like it that way.
In the small folder which the waitress brought was a small card 'for the help of our overseas customers' - advising that I should leave 15-20% tip. Ooops. I've been leaving 10% since I've been here.
There seem to be a lot of Betty Boop impersonators here. Waitresses often have squeaky voices and are only too happy to please. "Are you ready to order, kind Sir?". "Yes, I'll have the squashed snails, a portion of whatever road kill is on the specials board, and some gravel, please". "Oooh" she squeaks "my favourite" as she jiggles with glee. And on leaving "Have a really really wunnerful evening won't you?" Wait til you see my tip[IMG]file:///C:\DOCUME~1\Master\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtml1\01\clip_ image001.gif[/IMG]

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Old 12-31-2012, 03:41 AM   #14
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Jackson to salida

With the comings and goings of the Good Ole Country Boys last night, revving the engines of their pick-ups and slamming doors, I didn't get too much sleep so this morning I booked out and rode a mile down the road to a Motel 6, my favourite chain of motels. Always clean and peaceful. Days Inn seem a lot more expensive these days as is Super 8. I caught the free shuttle bus into town to find Jackson a really pretty place. The pavements are timber and mostly covered, which proved handy when the heavens opened later in the day. The shops catered for stuffed animal heads and t-shirts, but when I wanted to buy some wrapping paper and sellotape, lots of blank expressions. At lunchtime I found the Snake River Brewery, a microbrewery which has won more awards than any other in the US. The Pale Ale on draught was good, the Zonker Stout even better. I visited a camera shop where they put my camera on charge with a Fuji battery charger. I returned an hour later and.....no difference. So I bit the bullet, and bought a new camera, a slightly better but familiar Fujifilm F410 (to replace my defective F401). All of the existing pics were put on a CD-ROM to be posted home. Never mind, at least I now have a camera which works.
Called in the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar as recommended in my guide book but it was as tacky as hell and I kept getting pestered by a waitress - "No I don't want another beer (at $4.50 a bottle) , now bog off!". I returned to the brewery where it was $2.50 a pint. Superb beer and amazing atmosphere. Ate Jambalaya for the first time - just like gumbo but less liquid.
Left the Motel 6 at 07.55am and headed north back into the Grand Tetons. Saw four bison galloping across the road ahead of me plus others coming along behind, only when they reached the road, they seemed unsure and galloped along the verge by the roadside. I even saw one leap a 5ft fence. Climbed the TogwoteePass (9658ft) where the thermometer dropped from 23c to 9.1c! Gradually descended as the country became more desert-like. Stopped at JeffreyCity, a real odd-ball place. All shacks and mobile homes. Apparently JeffreyCity was once called Home on the Range (after the song) but the town needed a doctor and Dr. Jeffrey wouldn't come until the town was named after him. Wonderfully empty roads across wide, flat bottomed valleys. After Rawlins, a short distance on the I-80 then down through Saratoga, Riverside and Walden. Called in at a KOA but declined a cabin at $48 with a restaurant two miles up the road, so rode on over CameronPass (10,276ft) to Rustic and a shabby cabin at $60 a night Oh well.. TV doesn't work, hot as hell inside, thermostat set at 90f, and the tumbling noisy PouvreRiver yards away. The place is run by hillbillies. Humming birds everywhere.
Slept well and away by 07.15am. Saw two deer crossing the road. Rode down the wonderful PoudreValley to Fort Collins. Reached the RockyMountainNational Park at EstesPark, an alpine holiday resort thousands of feet above sea level. Climbed and climbed through and past the tree line to sensational views of snow-covered peaks. Reached the cafeteria at 12,183ft and ate bagel and coffee whilst watching seven elks grazing on the grass below. Met an amazing character, Scooter Bill from Paris, Arkansas, with his Suzuki 400 Bergman. He reckons it will do 95mph and even invited me to ride it around the car park. We agreed to ride to Mount Evans together, stopping at Idaho Springs so he could get a bite to eat. After two beers, Bill suggested we should ride the mountain this afternoon rather than wait until morning. So off we went and climbed up this amazing mountain road. The road got very bumpy in places but was manageable. When we reached the summit at 14,260ft. the bike refused to tick over in the thin air, and I got a bit breathless. With stupendous views around us, a single white mountain goat kept watch on us visitors. The remains of the Crest Hotel is on the summit, once the World's highest hotel, but destroyed in a propane explosion in the 60s and never re-built. On the way down saw another mountain goat by the side of the road. What a beautiful animal. Saw lots of marmots by the roadside. Returned to Idaho Springs and another 'average' $54 motel.
Next morning Bill insisted on breakfast and as we sat in the cafe, we noticed a $27 motel opposite. Damn. He had other plans so we said our farewells and I set off towards Denver and Pikes Peak. Bill was an amazing bloke, four times married and with a tale about everything. A very positive character.
The freeway down towards Colorado Springs was awful, with lots of high speed traffic, aggressive Peterbilt monster lorries and a rough road surface. I finally reached the foot of Pikes Peak, famous for not only it's height but an annual motor race (hill climb). Knowing it was not paved for its entire length, off I went. It started with wonderful swoopy bends but after ten miles, the gravel started, loose gravel on compacted dirt. I rode slowly and carefully up, mostly in 1st and 2nd gear, but the dirt often had a washboard surface which caused the rear wheel to skip up and down. It was very scarey. I didn't worry too much about toppling off the guardrail-less edges but more about dropping my heavy bike. I really shouldn't have been doing this, as the road shook the heck out of the bike. I didn't look at the views as I needed every ounce of concentration to keep the bike on track. Once at the top, 14,110ft, more stunning hazy views and lack of breath. The downhill ride was mostly in 1st and very girlie but we made it safely. Headed west over WilkersonPass, then fantastic views ahead of the basin with snow capped mountains on the horizon. Took a wrong road but ended up in Salida and the excellent Colorado Lodge Motel. Met a really friendly group of riders from the Cheyenne area who meet up twice a year, even one ST amongst them. Invited to join them for a meal in a local restaurant, I spent an enjoyable, chatty evening with ST-owner John McNiff and his lovely wife Amy.
Next morning. Did some much needed washing and tumble dried it. Updated the website in the office, so shortly I'll be off to Ouray and Durango, and a road much revered for it's beauty.

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Old 12-31-2012, 03:47 AM   #15
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Salida to tucson

A short day today. By the time I had spent an hour and a half updating the website, the Wyoming crowd had already left. Rode over the impressive MonarchPass (11,312ft) with it's wide, sweeping bends. By the time I reached Montrose, the traffic was getting busier. Finally reached Ouray (pronounced YOO-RAY), a wonderful Alpine town nestling between vertical rock faces, and with Alpine and Victorian buildings. With rain starting, I decided to stay here the night, then ride the famous Million Dollar Highway in the morning. The rain is now lashing down. The motel room I have in the Alpine Inn in Main Street is very twee.
A late start, and I'm running out of superlatives to describe this wonderful country. No need for an early start as I only intend to ride the 75 or so miles to Durango today. The road between here and there is called the country's most scenic road (the Million Dollar Highway), and not to be missed, but they all say that. We climbed and climbed through pine-covered mountains, passed old, decrepit mineworkings, where tough men once tunnelled for years to extract gold, silver, copper and uranium. The uranium for the first A-bombs was mined here. The twisty road was precariously carved into the rockface of the mountain side and we seemed to climb for half-an-hour or so.
At one overlook I met a elderly English couple with their adult daughters, who told me their story of US beaurocracy when they decided to buy a motorhome from an Ohio dealer. They were told they could not get the motorhome insured as they had no US address, so the dealer agreed they could use his address. Then they were told that they needed to take US driving tests as their UK licences were worthless. This they both did. In the meantime, they lived in the motorhome, still parked at the dealers. Then they were told they could not be issued with US driving licences as they had no US Social Security numbers. They finally managed to pursuade the authorities that this was poppy-cock, so finally got their motorhome on the road. It makes you think, eh?
When I arrived at a very warm Durango, I visited the Visitor Centre and asked them to find me a motel rather than traipse from door to door looking for a bargain. The Siesta Motel was located and was fine. I caught a 50c trolleybus ride into town and discovered a fascinating place. No vast out-of-town shopping mall, but hundreds of attractive little shops with Victorian frontages. Two grand hotels, the General Palmer and the Strata, were jewels in the crown. Visitors are encouraged to enter their foyers to admire their Victorian splendour. I also found the Steamworker Brewery, their superbly bitter IPA and the Poland football match. After an afternoon of window shopping, I returned for some more IPA and a plate of Jambalaya to die for, crawfish and prawns, wow! I caught the last trolleybus back to the motel and left the noisy, bustling town to those who appreciated it.
In the morning at 7am, I found a Mexican channel on TV and watched the England v Paraguay match - 1-0.
A trip to the famous MesaVerdeNational Park was abandoned as I was low on fuel, and it was a 14 mile trip to the visitor centre plus a further 30 mile round trip. I came down the mountain and filled up after 290 miles - a record - and at a whopping $3.50 a gallon.
Lazy day again - visited the local library for free use of their computers. Called in at Lady Falconburgh's Barley Exchange to try a couple of their thirty beers on tap, all pressurised though. Also called in at a blues bar and struck up a friendship with Tom and his lovely Colombian wife Gloria. They insisted we visit the Strata Hotel bar to admire its Victorian decor. Even met some people from West Malling and Newcastle.
Left at 8am. Thought about riding down to Tucson to see Gary, Shannon and Ed before seeing Heather on the 7th July. Visited the Four Corners, the only spot in the US where four states meet (Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah) but found it a sad and depressing place. The circular monument was plainly understated, but with a tacky wooden platform poised above it for grinning Merrycans to be photographed straddling four states. Hmmm. The dreary stands surrounding the memorial were manned by sad-looking Indians selling jewelry. I was told that the American Indian is still subjected to a lot of predjudice (The Navajo and Ute tribes own the land where the monuments stands), but then again, it depends who you speak to. Rode through MonumentValley, stunningly impressive in terracotta colours and majestic buttes. Very hot at 34c. There's a famous picture of a road disappearing into the distance with buttes in the background, and I wanted a pic of my bike at the very same point, however when I got there, there was a Indian roadside shack selling jewelry and his red pick-up. Damn. Finally reached PageAZ and another Motel 6, this time staffed by serious Navajo women. I thought this would be a good base for trips to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and Bryce and ZionCanyons (wrong!). Page has nothing worth seeing and was only created 45 years ago when a township sprung up for the workers of the nearby LakePowell dam.
I was sitting that evening in a Mandarin restaurant, looking out on the sun-drenched terracotta cliffs of Arizona, with Navajo Indians walking to and from the supermarket next door, and listening to Dusty Springfield singing "Windmills of your mind" on the restaurant's speakers. Crazy.
Just spoke to Ed again. Solved it. I'll ride to Las Vegas on Wednesday, then down to Tucson on Thursday.
What time is it? In the UK, that's easy. I left the motel this morning after watching a thrilling Australia v Japan match, with the Ozzies trailing 1-0 for most of the game until scoring three goals in the final 15 minutes. With the first US game scheduled for 11.55am Eastern Time, I reckonned that if I returned at 3pm, I should catch the match. It was a good ride down I-89 and spectacular views. After about half-an-hour, I rode downhill through a gap in the red rocks as the valley floor came into view 1000ft away below us. After crossing the Colorado River, we climbed and climbed as it got cooler again. They reckon on about a drop of 5c for every 1000ft of ascent. The countryside then began to resemble Yellowstone with broad green meadows of both sides of the narrow R-67, flanked by dense pine forests. The North Rim eventually came into view, 1000ft higher and cooler than the touristy South Rim and with better views - it was impressive as canyons go. I noticed a clock on the wall showing 1.30 but my watch had 12.30 so I checked up. I had lost an hour somewhere. Of course I was in Utah and Page was in Arizona, hence the hour difference. Apparently Arizona is on Mountain Standard Time and Mountain Daylight Saving Time - no wonder everyone is confused. My quick jaunt to the North Rim was 249 miles long.
Called in at the Honda dealer in Page and phoned the dealer in Tucson to ensure they have replacement tyres - they do.
Tuesday - After watching the Korea v Togo match, it was back on the road to visit the Zion and BryceCanyons. Saw an unmarked Police car on the R-89, could he really have stopped a driver for speeding along an isolated desert road? Really? If so, where was the sense in that? The approach road to Zion dropped down and down into the canyon as the temp rose. In a tunnel I saw the distinctive headlight of an approaching ST. We stopped and it was Jason S from Kentucky. Nice bloke. Stopped at the Visitor Centre and took the shuttle bus for a ride. Tremendous 1000ft high brickred rockfaces towered above us. Quite beautiful.
Bryce was quite different. Only an hour or so up the road, but there we rode along the spine of a ridge with the canyons either side. To the right, it was all pine trees, but to the left, and in gaps in the woodland, were the spectacular columns of pink and orange rock. These must look so remarkable at dawn or dusk, but are flat during the day, even more flat as the raindrops appeared. Met Adam Reid from Maine on his R1200GS on a four month tour. More chatting. Got back to the motel at 7.15pm, a long day. In fact 411 miles long! I should have found a motel a lot closer to the North Rim, Zion and Bryce. Rear tyre now very dodgy and tread disappearing fast. 7027 miles in the last four weeks - in 2002 we took six weeks to do that.
Wednesday - Set off for LV which meant retracing the route through Zion. Arrived in the stifling heat of LV at about 1pm. Bloody crowded with traffic along the Strip at a crawl. For once the mobile phone worked, with a text from H saying Ed would be happy for me to stay at his room in the Tropicana. We met up, I wandered along the strip and later on in the evening, we both went to see the Folies Bergere show.Not, I thought, my cup of tea, but it turned out to be very enjoyable indeed.
Thursday - Bade farewell to Ed at 7.45am - I hope his op is successful and he's soon up and about - and set off in the early morning LV heat to Tucson with a rapidly fading rear tyre - and the front's not too clever either. It got hotter and hotter. I even rode for a while sans jacket, but my arms got cooked. Nothing nice to say about the ride other than it was hot and tedious - Phoenix was 40c and Tucson 42c. Jeez! Miraculously found Gary and Shannon's house - hooray for the US grid system of town planning - the tyres made it. A chatty evening with beer and pizza. Sat outside on the patio watching woodpeckers making holes in a Saguaro cactus. Coyotes making frenetic noises from the land at the side. Gary says they most likely have caught something, probably a spike from the many smaller cactus covering the deserty ground. Total mileage - 7752 miles so far.

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