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Old 12-20-2011, 03:20 PM   #16
pavlos79
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Old 12-21-2011, 03:01 AM   #17
Harti OP
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Take The Wrong Way Home

Last preparations and the trip begins

So my bike was under way from Berlin to Baltimore. I was extremely busy to get all the visas in time. A second passport, my brother in Germany and a professional company for visa applications, especially for ex-USSR countries, were very helpful.


Where exacktly is Santa Fe again?


In the last days before my wife Martina and I started, we had to get rid of enormous amounts of stuff, that accumulated over the years in our apartment. Boxes and crates went either into the huge 40 foot container or were thrown away or sold or given away or else...


The spot tracker is a GPS device that tells everyone where you are (if you want) and also if you need help


And we had to put some thoughts into our route which we intended to take.



A few days before we took off my bike arrived in Baltimore. The guys in Berlin did a great job. I assume they were 5 people with power nailer and power screwdriver. I was alone, it was 90 degrees and I only had one lousy screwdriver to unpack my bike. After one hour and a few blisters in the palms of my hands the lady from the shipping company finally gave me a crow bar and then nothing could stop me any more...





On May 3rd, we closed the door of what was our home for 13 years for the last time, left the keys on the kitchen counter and wiped away a few tears that ran down our cheeks. A last visit at my former office to honor the nice plate I got as a fare-well present and the voyage of our lifetime began.


For this trip I had to quit my job for good...


On our way out we took some pictures of the nations capital with us in 'em and Martina checked the gravity of her bike for the first time.





First stop after Washington was the border to Virginia not even 10 miles later. And before we knew it we found ourselves on the Skyline Drive riding south west towards the Smokey Mountains and Tennessee.





Until next time,

Harti

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Old 12-22-2011, 03:01 AM   #18
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Take The Wrong Way Home

Blue Ridge Parkway







I knew it always: mankind wants to go back to nature. Or explain to me why there are soo many trailer parks in Virginia with bar-b-q grills on the porches? The camping idea lives...



On our way to Jellico, TN, where the TransAmericaTrail starts, we passed the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Although the vegetation is 4 weeks behind due to the altitude and the temperatures are still way below 50 degrees, the views are stunning and overwhelming.





Former hippie town Asheville, NC, welcomed us warmly with coffee and quite some people wanted to know where we were from, because my tag didn't fit in anything they had seen before.





My idea of retirement is to camp out, devour a huge steak, relax on a captain's chair by the fire and enjoy a Corona.









We changed today our tires from regular street tires to tires for rough terrain. And the TAT promised some mud and dirt.



Harti

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Old 12-23-2011, 07:18 AM   #19
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Take The Wrong Way Home

Tennessee, Elvis and the Mighty Mississippi





Today came the moment of truth. A first excursion off road should reveal wheather we are made of sugar or not. After about an hour on the Trans-America-Trail we discussed over ice cream and apple pie how to deal with it. We wanted to increase the off road stretches every day to get accustomed to the rougher terrain.


now that's what I call balance...

What iPad, Starbucks or Banana Republic for young people in Washington, Chicago or San Francisco is for this part of the country the quad. This high speed and yet made-for-mud-and-dirt-roads vehicle replaces first bicycles and mopeds, later even horses. It also keeps young kids busy and strengthens their sense for community activities while roaming the local forests. Only once in a while one lonely bike rider gets scared when these quad hordes cut left curves coming towards you...



We found another KOA, our preferred campground. We always know, what we get, because the standard is always the same. An hour ago we witnessed even a show fly fishing contest. Nice to see, that the carps got thrown back into the pond after suffering for a minute or so. Just another way of air boarding...



Those of you, who know, how I like classic cars of all kind will understand, that I can hardly control my desire to stop for every car wreck along the road to take a picture... Jesus, a lot of value is going to rot there. But I can't take them all with me, can I...?



This neck of the woods seems to have a great density of population. Or a lot of people with a guilty conscience. Anyway... it feels like there are 1 million churches around here, but definitely 10 believers for each house of God. That's probably why the streets were empty on Mother's Day like it was the Superbowl afternoon...



In Nashville, TN, our bikes were responsible for quite a crowd coming together. Next to all the Harleys our BMW's looked like from another planet and when people asked us where we came from and where we were going to and I told them about my trip around the world, we sometimes saw them think, how in Gods name one can go from their beloved America to any other continent...





Many times we saw memorials to honor those, who made their ultimate sacrifice for this country. Something you would not find in Germany very often...



Today we passed a crime scene with a dozen patrol cars. Judging by the sheer number a mass murder took place.









Riding off road works better every day. While enjoying the nice flora, I couldn't get rid of a nagging thought about how to cross the mighty Mississippi. Interstates were closed, minor roads also. The flood occupied the people here since a week and my former TV colleagues found it also worth to report about the high waters. So maybe I will meet up with them tomorrow...







Now we want to say hello to Elvis. He started a revolution and ended up a king... Since we have seen the grave of the King of Rock 'n Roll I believe, he is really dead. Who else would be buried in that lovely garden at Graceland?



Harti
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Old 12-23-2011, 07:49 AM   #20
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Nice, looking forward to the rest of the story. And Harti if you ever get back to DC would be great to hear your stories firsthand over a beer or two, my treat
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Old 12-23-2011, 09:38 AM   #21
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DCRider,

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Old 12-23-2011, 11:37 AM   #22
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Old 12-24-2011, 07:08 AM   #23
Harti OP
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Take The Wrong Way Home

Americas Heartland



Who would have thought... the United States in this part of the country are on the same level of development than Burkina Faso. In the Sahel zone their merchandise waits for customers in the hot sand, just like in Arkansas, where refrigerators and washer/dryer combos are on display in front of wooden shops. Welders offer their talents on self painted billboards and fruits of the region are offered to those, who randomly pass along, and no one really knows, how long the vegetables have been drying in the sun... just like in Burkina Faso.







Arkansas is no dorado for bike riders. The TAT is not that challenging, only once in a while deep sand keeps us busy, because our bikes are a little too loaded for this kind of sportive activity. We saw hundreds of miles nothing but corn fields, feed lots, meadows with life stock on it and farmers fertilizing their soil to squeeze out even more than last year. And what can't be fertilized is probably under water...








We drove westwards all the time. In order to avoid falling asleep, I started a little honk contest with an engineer. I bet with myself what the black debris on the road far ahead might be: an armadillo or a tire...



And we passed the arguably largest graveyard for Ford Mustang's I have ever seen. Someone pleeeze give me some wrenches, a screw driver and a weekend and anything is possible...





Yesterday we meandered through the Ozarks. In the middle of nowhere we passed a tiny one stop shop which I first thought was deserted. But than a lady come out of the shop and shouted: "only 4 $ a gallon", so we gased up and payed her store a visit. And while we talked a man put up a note about his dog that run away the other day. So you have gas station, supermarket, coffee shop and community center under one roof. Amazing...




Sometimes you have to find shelter in a motel, especially when the temperatures are in the mid 50's and thunderstorms are predicted for that night and that area.





The next day was lousy cold and wet. But we got compensated with lush forests and the greenest landscape ever. This is heaven for cattle and sheep until they meet their destiny in the feed lots and slaughterhouses. I hope the steak we are going to eat soon will be from this good looking fellow...



Btw, not far away the first oil well has been erected in the late 1800's. Just imagine, what the world would look like, if oil had not been found...

In the half time break of a German soccer game I got really upset. I wanted to take a shower after a long sweaty day in the saddle but I simply couldn't find the switch for the shower and the faucet, 'cause it's always somewhere else. Just like it's impossible to standardize on and off switches for lamps. It took me a long while to figure all that out. Martina commented: it's good against Alzheimer.



Another surprise: in Bartlesville, OK, we found a high riser, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, a capacity amongst architects. He was asked to build a piece of art in the middle of nowhere for Frank Phillips, a self made millionaire, who made a fortune with the black gold...





Under way I obviously took a wrong turn and we ended up on a meadow full of cattle. Once we approached the flock, the until then harmless and peaceful grazing cows turned into beasts going crazy and we were lucky to survive that stampede.



Unbelievable, you see these oil pumps all over the place. But if you need gas you are totally wrong here...



Martina and I rushed through the flat lands of Arkansas and Oklahoma. Fighting wind and tiredness for hundreds of miles is not too tempting. But hope is on the way: we can smell the Rockies already and that should be fun.



Harti

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Old 12-25-2011, 04:48 AM   #24
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Take The Wrong Way Home

Where The Rockies Meet The Plains






Is that admiration or are they just nosy?



The last few days where special. The handle bar could have been welded in a straight forward position, so little curves we had to master. And yet I liked this stretch of the country, because I could finally slow down a little from my work. Almost no traffic makes you feel very safe, and most drivers are defensive and friendly towards biker. And there is always a motel when you need one. And, of course, we don't have that much land in Germany.





So our last impressions of the Plains were these highly cultivated farmlands with a high efficiency.





Getting closer to Santa Fe, where we wanted to rest for a few days with friends, we passed a ghost town. Another luxury when land restrictions don't matter. You can just abandon your home and settle somewhere else. Impossible in Germany...





And finally the fauna gets more exotic. I have no idea if the snake is poisonous or not. But I must admit, I had an awful lot of respect and I didn't want to do anything stupid... I also admired the huge trains. 3 engines pull 80 cars, and it seems there is no end...





And then we crossed into Mew Mexico. Although they welcomed us on the board we couldn't help noticing the little bullet holes at the same time... a warning? Anyway, this is way more challenging than the Plains.





In Cimarron, NM, we took a little break in Valeries cafe. She showed us her original soda machine, which is still operational to the present day. On our way to Santa Fe we climbed higher and higher, and we had to gear up a little warmer.











Santa Fe is my favorite place so far. I like the Adobe style and the Native Indians, who want to sell their handicrafts in a very moderate way. Not so aggressive as in Istanbul or Delhi.





Impressive to visit Chimayo, the Lourdes of America, and Bandelier. In Bandelier Pueblo Indians carved their homes into the soft lime stone. That happened all back at around 1200 for roughly 250 years...





And, of cause, we had to pay Los Alamos, the birthplace of the atomic bomb, a visit.



Tomorrow we will dive into the Rockies.

Harti
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Old 12-26-2011, 06:15 AM   #25
Harti OP
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Take The Wrong Way Home

The Continental Divide And The Monument Valley







We left Santa Fe and Los Alamos after a few days of relaxation, a washing day and some improvements on bikes and equipment. Everything we hadn't used in the last 2 weeks we forwarded to Seattle. So we ended up with a few pounds less equipment and some pounds more on our ribs because our friends were pretty good cooks...





When we entered Colorado the world as we knew it changed completely. A dream for serious biking, terrific landscape and one scenic highlight after another.



North Americas largest sand dune in front of an unknown mountain, higher than the highest peaks in Europe... unbelievable.





We conquered the first major pass and realized, that this would be tough, because they are all snow covered. Winter came back this year in May and stayed longer than usual.





But one thing is crystal clear: we are in paradise.





Today it hit us hard. We could not follow the TAT any further due to hefty snowstorms, so that all the passes over 8,500 ft. were impassable. And there were many more summits to come. So the Marshall Pass with 10,850 ft. was invincible for us and we choose the Monarch Pass on tarmac. Although 11,350 ft. high at least the main road was cleared...



The Monarch Pass also marks the Continental Divide. For all Non-Americans: from now on all rivers end in the Pacific Ocean instead of the Mississippi, the Golf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean.



In Ouray Martina invited me for dinner. One that we have really earned today.



Have you ever been in Ridgeway, CO? This is the original location of the original movie "True Grit" with John Wayne. The old man is present in ALL shopping windows in town, on all boards, signs and posters... They even named a cafe after the movie title.



Since we know, that summits are a no-go for us, we decided to rush to Utah, where the temperatures changed from 40 degrees to 80 in 2 hours and also the altitude from 12,000 ft. to 5,000.



On our descent we stopped at the remainders of an ancient Pueblo conglomeration from the 1300's.





If you think of going to Cambodia or Chile, to Iceland or Australia to find the most interesting and spectacular natural monuments of this planet, don't look any further. You find it all in Utah. The deepest gorges and canyons, huge stone arches, deserts and forests... it's all there within a few hundred miles.








The Gooseneck State Park was one of the unique wonders you will never find somewhere else. And the Mexican Hat and finally the Monument Valley. We did the grand tour and our bikes obviously enjoyed it very much. Our sponsored tires really deserved a terrain like this.



Martina dropped her bike only once. No damage done on the bike, maybe some scratches on the self-esteem. She blamed of course me for standing in her way... that was probably the first traffic jam in history at Monument Valley.





Tomorrow we want to see Canyon land.

Harti

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Old 12-26-2011, 08:02 AM   #26
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Terrific RR Harti and Martina. Thanks for inspiring those of us yet to make such a trip ourselves!
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Old 12-27-2011, 06:54 AM   #27
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Monument Valley looks fabulous as always , unfortunately I had to save that for another trip when I was out that way last summer.

BTW, how does Martina like the Scoprion jacket? Was looking at it for my wife, was it too hot for wearing there in NM?
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:04 PM   #28
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Very cool.
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Old 12-27-2011, 10:43 PM   #29
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Old 12-28-2011, 01:47 AM   #30
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Great R&R and I'm now suscribed!
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