Our Motorcycle Adventures ~ Sgt. (John) & LCpl (Margaret)
June 23, 2011
Saddle bags are ready and we are staging gear and getting the bike ready -- we leave one week from today. Can't wait!!! Canada here we come. On the road with nothing but the wind on my face and the thunder of the motorcycle. Keeping our fingers crossed that there is a minimum of rain and the road treats us well. Wish us luck!!
25 days until our next big ride -- this year it is across the Trans-Canada highway through the Canadian Rockies and then through Montana, Wyoming and Flaming Gorgeand then through the Colorado Rockies. Mountains, mountains and more mountains. Just hoping that the snow stops in the areas and they are able to get the Going to the Sun Road plowed!
We are back on the road trying to get as many miles as we can before winter hits the midwest.
We are back from our trip -- this year's adventure had an unexpected end to it. Here is the story...
Hippie Memorial- Arcola, Illinois
DAY ONE ~ We got started today at 6:45am. It was a beautiful day, sunshine all the way. It got pretty hot but didn't cause us too many problems. We stopped for breakfast at the Eagle's Nest Family Restaurant in Forrest, Illinois and then headed into Tuscola where we were unsuccessful in finding Amishland. So we headed into Arcola where we saw the hippie memorial and got some info about Arthur, Illinois, the Amish hub of Illinois, so we took the detour and walked around there for a little bit, picking up some cheese and rock candy. Upon leaving we headed back toward Arcola and saw signs for Rockome Gardens and decided it would be a nice diversion-- it was an Amish run rock and flower garden with little shops and stuff. We walked around and took some pictures. We headed into Mattoon, where we were planning on attending 'The Bagelfest'. It took a little doing but we finally found the location of Bagelfest. We were disappointed to find that there were no bagels -- it was pretty lame, but still good for a chance to stretch our legs. We headed back out on the road arriving at our hotel in Effingham, Illinois at 3:45pm. After checking in and getting everything carried up to the room we walked over to Ruby Tuesday's and had some dinner and drinks and walked back to the room where we just hung out and watched TV.
Garden of the Gods- Shawnee National Forest, Illinois
DAY TWO ~ We got up early and ate at the hotel to save a little money and it was easier. We got on the road about 6:30am and headed out. We spent the morning in Illinois, the weather forecast was for rain, but we were on the edge of the front and didn't get wet. We went 'sight-seeing' (our code for we are lost) on the 'roller coaster roads' (the roads went up and down in nice hills) until we found the Garden of the Gods in the Shawnee National Forest. We took the looped hiking trail to see all the sites and then were on our way. We headed on down the road to Cave in the Rock where we hopped on the ferry to take us across the Ohio River. We went sight-seeing again until we stopped a guy in a truck and found our way to Providence, Kentucky where we stopped and ate lunch. We pulled out the map and rerouted our journey to Brownsville. We arrived about 4:00pm at our Bed & Breakfast for the night. We checked in and then headed out to Mammoth Cave National Park. When we got there they told us all tours were filled and we couldn't tour the caves but we didn't need a tour to see the historic entrance, so we headed in that direction. The closer you got to the entrance you could feel the ice cold air emanating from cave through the vents in the path. We headed into Cave City for dinner and the then back to our lodging for the night. It was still early so we sat outside on the patio for awhile where we were treated to a show of hummingbirds and butterflies-- there were tons of them just flitting around. We enjoyed the Jacuzzi in our room, watched a little TV and went to bed.
New River Gorge Bridge- Fayetteville, West Virginia
DAY THREE ~ We left the B&B at about 6:30am (Central Time) and got on the road. Today was about half interstate and half back roads. We made really good time on the interstate. We stopped at McDonald's for breakfast and then back on the road. We had a little drizzle rain on the way but nothing to really get us wet or make us pull over and put on our rain gear. Just outside Charleston, West Virginia we headed down the Midland Trail. We stopped and saw Kanawha Falls and then later down the road we pulled over to see Cathedral Falls. We checked into our room at Hawks Nest State Park at 2:45pm (Eastern Time). We had plenty of the day left to enjoy the park. We walked down the Lover's Leap trail and took the tram down into the gorge and back up. There were lots of butterflies and dragonflies that we took pictures of. We headed into Fayetteville to eat at Dirty Ernie's Rib Pit (a place we read about in a book and decided it would be a fun place to stop). They have a tradition of people writing messages on dollar bills and stapling them to the wall so we added ours to the decor. We finished dinner and then went exploring for a better view of the New River Gorge Bridge which landed us on a one-way, narrow, scary, curvy, torn up road -- but we got some good pictures. We headed back to the lodge and hung out for the remainder of the evening.
Glade Grist Mill- Babcock State Park, West Virginia
DAY FOUR ~ Today was really a weird day full of ups and downs. It started out this morning at 7:00am with drizzly rain and wet roads and the threat of more rain. We put our rain gear on and headed out. The first stop was Babcock State Park where we walked around and saw the Glade Grist Mill (the one from our jigsaw puzzle). It had stopped raining while we were there but we kept on the rain gear fearing more rain up the road. For the next 5 hours it was periods of drizzle, spray from cars and a few short downpours. We made our way across West Virginia stopping for breakfast in a little tiny cafe, just outside White Sulphur Springs. We crossed into Virginia shortly after breakfast and arrived at the Natural Bridge about 1:00. We hiked back to see the bridge and the waterfall and then looked around the gift shop. By then the rain had subsided and we had mostly sun for the rest of the day. We entered the Blue Ridge Parkway and the weather was perfect! We saw a variety of animals in the road and along the side -- a snake, a woodchuck, hawks and lots of deer. One deer ran right in front of us and we almost hit it! We jumped off the parkway for a small into Roanoke to the Harley Dealer and then stopped for dinner and gas (since neither are available on the parkway). We made our way back to the parkway and found our way to our hotel in Floyd, Virginia arriving shortly after 8:00pm. As I was checking in John found a broken spoke on the rear wheel so we devised a plan to get it fixed in the morning before continuing with the trip. We met a group of riders from Illinois who were staying at the same place and chatted with them for a bit before calling it a night.
Mabry Mill- Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
DAY FIVE ~ We slept in a little this morning because the Harley Dealer doesn't open until 9:00am. We packed up and got on the road about 7:30am and headed into Christiansburg, Virginia about an hour away. We got to the dealer about 8:30am and waited for them to open. Once they opened we talked to service. They were unable to fix the spoke and said they didn't have any new wheel in stock for us. After checking around they found a mag wheel at one of their sister stores that would work so we they had the other store drive it over. We decided to walk over to Cracker Barrel next door and eat a little breakfast while they worked on the bike. We were ready to go by noon and then we headed back to the parkway. We made a quick stop in Floyd for gas and were on the parkway by 1:00pm. We stopped at Mabry Mill and walked around a bit. We rode and stopped at overlooks for the rest of the day. We flirted with some rainstorms all day but we only got spit on a little -- nothing drastic. We pulled into our stopping place in Little Switzerland, North Carolina for the night around 6:45pm. We walked around the hotel grounds and enjoyed the sunset and ate a nice leisurely dinner in the hotel restaurant-- they had frog legs on the menu as appetizers so I convinced John this would be a good thing to try! We spent the rest of the evening walking around and chilling out on the balcony.
Lookout on Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
DAY SIX ~ We started our day out at 6:30am this morning and headed down the parkway. We got breakfast in Swannanoa, North Carolina and then stopped at the Harley Dealer for a shirt then back onto the parkway. The storm clouds were tap dancing around us quite a bit and then the higher we got, the darker it got. We were driving in a big black storm cloud-- it wasn't raining but it was black and foggy-- making it really tough to see the road (which was pretty scary to me). And then just like magic we came through a tunnel and we were above the clouds and it was bright and beautiful. We rode the parkway to the end, Cherokee, North Carolina. We rode through town stopping at a little Indian shop and the Harley Dealer. We saw the rain clouds heading for us so we didn't hang around too long. We made our way to the Cherohala Skyway with the storm clouds going the other way. We stopped at the Harley Dealer at the end of the Cherohala in Tellico Plains, Tennessee where we picked up a shirt. We found our way to our lodging for the night about 3:00pm. We discovered they had laundry facilities so we decided to take advantage of it. We hung out in our room while the laundry was going, watching cartoons from our childhood (Oggie Doggie, Wally Gator, Magilla Gorilla and Underdog). We headed out into town and grabbed dinner at a really great little southern restaurant, the Nut-N-Fancy (great food and southern hospitality). We came back to the hotel played in the game room for a little bit, enjoyed the Jacuzzi, watched TV and called it a night.
Backroads of Tennessee south of Tellico Plains
DAY SEVEN ~ Today was really uneventful, we had a bit of fog in the morning but it burned off and we had sun the remainder of the day, it was hot!!! We left Tellico Plains, Tennessee at 7:00am and arrived in Valdosta, Georgia at 3:30pm. The majority of the ride was interstate. We followed 5 to 575 to 75 to 475 to 75 (it became kind of a joke with all the 5's and 7's). We stopped a few little places along the way but there really isn't much to stop and do on the interstate. We went to Ducktown to see the copper basin but it was foggy and we couldn't see anything. We stopped at a little pecan farm and had homemade peach ice cream. We stopped at a road side thing called the Magnolia Plantation-- we assumed it was going to be someplace to walk around 'a magnolia plantation' but it ended up being a cheesy interstate gift shop. We looked around the area and found out that the mall was abouta quartermile away so we decided to walk over there and let the bike cool down. We found an interesting place to eat, the Ole Time Country Buffet, they had a lot of real 'Southern' food (ham hocks, black-eyed peas, BBQ, greens, etc) so we pigged out and then went back to the hotel and hung out in the air conditioning.
Epcot- Lake Buena Vista, Florida
DAY EIGHT ~ We left Georgia about 6:45am and took to the interstate we made a beeline for Disney World. We made really good time and arrived by 11:00am. And surprise Disney's Yacht Club had our room ready! So we took our gear up to our room and walked down the boardwalk and over to Epcot. We had been keeping an eye on tropical storm Bonnie all week to see when the storm would hit the Keys-- good news for us she hit the keys and seems to be going up the gulf side of Florida so we should be following the storm versus being in it. We saw all the pavilions and saw Turtle Talk with Crush and The Seas with Nemo. There was a brief time when it was raining (Bonnie making her presence through Florida). But overall a really laid back day. Disney is way different when you don't have children with you! We headed back to the boardwalk looking for food and found a restaurant on the boardwalk. While we were eating it poured a bit but we didn't care. We both ordered dessert (chocolate cake and cheese cake something we don't normally indulge in) and the waiter gave it to us for free to celebrate our Anniversary which is on Sunday. We headed back to the hotel area and walked around and hung out there for awhile before heading back to Epcot to see the Illuminations fireworks show and calling it a night.
Highway 1- Islamorada, Florida Keys
DAY NINE ~ We got on the road about 7:00am making great time to the Florida Keys. We stopped for breakfast and to get gas. It was a nice ride for the most part, quiet roads and plenty of scenery. We saw some big creature that had gotten hit by a car, I thought it was a small cow John said it was a wild boar, either way it was big. We started to get some traffic in Homestead but not too bad. And then we got stuck in a huge dead stop traffic jam on the outskirts of Key Largo-- with the sun blazing down on us and the bike heating up we made the decision to ride the shoulder to get out of it (I know cars don't like it but sometimes you got to do what you got to do). We made it to Islamorada about 2:30pm checked into our hotel walked around on the beach a little bit and then we decided to go all the way to Key West (about 80 miles one way). So we rode over the seven-mile bridge and made it to the Southern Most Point in the U.S. to take our picture and say we were there. We found a little sub shop on our way back were we ate dinner and then back on the road. The sun was going down so we stopped at a little fishing area and enjoyed the sunset before heading back to the hotel for the night.
Tamiami Trail- Everglades, Florida
DAY TEN ~ OUR 23rd WEDDING ANNIVERSARY ~ We left the Keys at 6:15am and were enjoying the day. We went through the Everglades via the Tamiami Trail we stopped at a little Indian run cafe and ate breakfast. We saw some wildlife (cranes, lizards, buzzards, etc.) but sadly no alligators. The scenery was pretty cool and it was an enjoyable ride. We headed up I-75 and were making pretty good time and then it happened. We were in the right lane doing the speed limit (70 mph), we crested the hill and three cars up (we couldn't see him) a moron (we found out later he was on drugs) decided to stop in the middle of two lanes of traffic! The black car directly behind him swerved to the right and hit him, the white truck in front of us (behind the black car) swerved to the left to avoid the black car and missed him-- but that left us absolutely no place to go-- John tried to stop (he put the brakes on and kept it straight) but when he realized there was no room to stop he did a box slide and hit the black car on the left rear. Better than a direct hit at full speed! We spent the next 3 hours on the side of the road filling out police reports and dealing with paramedics and checking damage. We finally got the bike towed to the Fort Myers Harley Dealer where we were able to really look at the damage-- from this point the bike is still ridable (no mechanical damage (damages ended up being $3,000). As for us we are both pretty banged up on our left side, especially on our lower legs. After we determined the bike was ridable and we could ride we decided to head to Tarpon Springs (about 150 miles away,where we had reservations at a B&B) and re-evaluate in the morning. On the way we ran into some rain and pulled off and waited it out under a bank awning. The bike was getting a little heated so we stopped and ate dinner and let her cool down. We arrived at our B&B about 6:30pm. Our hosts Marie and Dick were wonderful-- when they heard about what happened they took care of us with ice packs and cold drinks. We spent the evening enjoying their company and nursing our wounds.
DAY ELEVEN & TWELVE ~ We got up this morning and John's ankle was in no shape to continue to ride (we would find out later that it was broken). We discussed our options and determined it was not safe to ride with his ankle in this condition so we rented a U-Haul truck and loaded the bike in the back and made a bee-line for home, ending our vacation.We left Tarpon Springs, Florida about noon with John driving-- about an hour in we stopped and ate some lunch and I took the wheel. His ankle was not doing good and we decided it was easier for me to drive so I did. We made it almost to the Tennessee border at about midnight and decided to stop for the night at a Holiday Inn in Dalton, Georgia and continue on in the morning. We got up at 7:00am and were back on the road. We only stopped for gas and breakfast --we made it to our Harley Dealer with the U-Haul just as they were closing (7:00pm) so they helped us get the bike out of the U-Haul and into the service area. Our daughter and son-in-law picked us up and we all went to dinner and then they took us home. 1,223 miles in a U-Haul in two days!
To answer the question everyone asks us -- are you still going to ride your bike? Yes! We won't let a moron in a cage scare us off the road -- just as soon as the bike is fixed and we are mended we will be back in the saddle and back on the road!
July 11, 2010
We leave on Friday :D -- let the ride begin!!!
Just about three weeks away and we are off on our trip for this year can't wait. We are heading across Kentucky, West Virginia and into Virginia to catch the Blue Ridge Parkway and ride it to the end in North Carolina then across the Cherohala Skyway into Tennessee down to the Florida Keys, up the gulf side of Florida and across the south (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana) into Texas up through Arkansas and then into Memphis and then Southern Illinois and headed home. When we finish this trip we will have ridden the same bike in all the states except Alaska, Hawaii and Nebraska.
It is finally spring in the midwest! The bike is out and we already have 1,000 miles on it -- great start to the year!
The bike is put up for the year -- this year the weather was really weird and we were only able to ride 7,000 miles. Can't wait to pull the bike out at the first sign of spring -- COME ON SPRING! I hate winter and snow :(
We are back from our annual trip- this year we went to the East coast. Unfortunately it was one of the rainiest June's in like 50 years.
DAY ONE ~ We left the house at 5:50 a.m. it was pretty cloudy and it threatened to rain most of the day but we were lucky and didn't get wet. Our route for the day was across Illinois, Indiana and then staying on the edge of Lake Erie in Port Clinton, Ohio. As we rode through Indiana we stopped in Amish country and looked at the cheese factory and walked around in the little shops in Shipshewana for a while- it was a nice little break from the ride. We headed into Toledo and picked up a Harley shirt at the dealer. We got off course a bit as we were heading out of town and went a little too far south and had to back track to get to our destination for the night. We arrived at our hotel at 4:50 p.m. but it was really 5:50 because we had to switch from Central Time to Eastern Time. We walked over to the Big Boy restaurant next door and had dinner. Food wasn't bad but the service was awful. We came back to our hotel and enjoyed a little TV while munching on some fresh cheese curds we bought at the cheese factory and went to bed. All in all a pretty uneventful day. The roads were pretty straight but going through Indiana and into Ohio we had some really pretty rolling hills flanked by farms on both sides.
DAY TWO ~ We left at 6:50 this morning (about an hour later than usual). The day started with some sprinkles so we decided to wear our rain pants just to keep the spray off of us (as it is turned out a pretty good decision). As we headed toward Cleveland we saw this beautiful rose garden in a park so we decided to stop and walk around for a few minutes. The smell of the flowers was fantastic and blanketed the area! The weather was still relatively okay as we headed into Cleveland (occasional sprinkles but nothing drastic). Just as we got outside of downtown Cleveland the weather took a real turn for the worse, we spent the rest of the day riding in steady rain with occasional downpours the remainder of the day. And if that wasn't enough the temperature took a dip and we dropped from a comfortable 70 degrees to around 60 degrees (which is pretty cold when you are wet). We saw wild turkeys running across the road and the deer on the side of the roads were pretty plentiful. We pulled into our hotel in Brockport, New York at 4:50 and got checked into our room. The hotel allowed us to park the bike under the canopy out of the rain. The rain let up for a little bit so we decided to take the opportunity and go grab some dinner but by the time we finished eating it was raining again. We spent the remainder of the evening drying out or gear and clothes.
DAY THREE ~ We were on the road at 6:55 a.m. (7ish seems to be a trend this trip). We left the hotel in a rainstorm and it rained all day long- we would catch a break every once in a while but we were pretty much in rain continuously the entire day. So we really didn't have the opportunity to enjoy much of the scenery which was a shame because we were riding through the Adirondacks- the day went by pretty much in a blur of rain! As we were riding down the road we heard this weird noise- I thought it was some sort of strange bird- but what it ending up being was the Zena lock for the bike wasn't turned off and when we went over a bump it decided to sound the alarm (it was pretty funny!). When we arrived at our hotel in Lake Placid we were informed that the people who were in our room before us decided to stay longer so we didn't have the room we reserved (we had reserved a particular romantic suite). So they had to scramble and find us a different room- it wasn't as nice as the one we had reserved but they tried to make it up to us with a gift bag of chocolate and wine. Our hotel was located right on mirror lake but because of the rain it obviously wasn't reflecting back anything but clouds. We got settled in and walked around town for a while in the rain. We headed back to the room and decided to have room service for dinner and hang out in the room- we spent another night drying out gear and clothes.
DAY FOUR ~ We left the hotel at 6:55 and drove through town to get some gas before heading out. We had the opportunity to see some of the Olympic sites as we road through. We caught a break on the weather and it didn't rain all day just in isolated areas- it was still pretty drizzly but at least it wasn't downpour. We decided to ride in our rain gear just in case. We took the wrong fork on Route 9N and we were a long way off course by the time we realized it (we ended up going about 50 miles out of our way). But sometimes good things come from losing your way- we drove past this beautiful water fall area that we never would have seen had we not gotten lost! Ausable Chasm was absolutely stunning and as we drove past it literally took our breath away and we turned around and went back to enjoy the site. We got lost again trying to find where we were staying in New Hampshire- we ended up going an extra 105 miles today. We saw a lot of animals today- a live skunk (usually we only see them when they are road kill), donkeys in a field procreating and the usual deer. We stopped at the Green Mountain Sugarhouse in Ludlow, Vermont to get some maple sugar candy and pure maple syrup to take home. We stopped along Quechee Gorge on the Vermont and New Hampshire border to walk around in the shops and take pictures. We took a break along the Kancamagus Pass and hiked about a mile (roundtrip) to Sabbaday Falls. We pulled into our Bed and Breakfast at about 7:30 p.m. We missed Ernie (John's buddy from boot camp that we visiting for the week end) on the road earlier in the day so he met up with us at the B&B and we all went out to dinner together.
DAY FIVE ~ We got up and had breakfast and headed out on the road with Ernie. We first went to the Harley dealer in Rochester to hang out for a little bit and then we headed to Maine. It was really kind of nice to not have to worry about where we were and where we were going- we just followed Ernie! We rode through Kittery, Wells, York, Ogunquit and a few other little places along Route 1. We stopped in a little tourist area and walked around the shops (John and Ernie talked and caught up while I looked around in the stores). Ernie took us to have lobster for lunch (you have to have lobster in Maine!). Then we headed to Weir's Beach and Laconia (Laconia bike week was still going on)- there were lots of bikes on the road around Lake Winnipesaukee. Ernie's girlfriend, Jane, lives right on the strand where Laconia Bike Week is held so we rode to her house and locked the bikes up at there and walked around. The people can get a bit crazy- young girls hanging out a church bus window mooning people on the street and old women dressed in nothing but thongs and fishnet. It was a unique experience- lots of bikes and people. We rode with Ernie to his hometown, the 'HUGE' town of Barnstead, New Hampshire (an all purpose store and deli and a church) for dinner. Then he led us back to the B&B in Alton. Every time he took us back he took us a different route so we never quite knew how to get back.
DAY SIX ~ Today we left the bike in the garage at the B&B because it was suppose to rain off and on and Ernie was showing us around in the car (he invited Jane and she doesn't particularly like to ride on the bike). We had a really nice breakfast and visit with the people running the B&B and then Ernie picked us up at 9:30 a.m. and we picked up Jane and drove to the Flume Gorge in Franconia Notch. We walked the 2 miles trail to the flume area- it was really beautiful (Jane wasn't happy about the walking but was appeased with the promise of a shopping in the gift shop at the end). We left there and drove through the White Mountains and saw the area around Mt. Washington and then went to the Castle in the Clouds (a house built by wealthy shoe manufacturer in the early 1900's)- it was really a beautiful estate with a gorgeous view of the White Mountains and Lake Winnepausakee. We headed to Wolfeboro and ate dinner at the Wolfeboro Inn a famous local hang out- they have this unique tradition- if you drink a stein of all 500 beers they offer, they give you your own pewter beer stein that hangs from the ceiling and every time you come in after that you get to use your own stein. We headed back to our B&B and hung out there for the remainder of the evening.
DAY SEVEN ~ Rain, Rain and more Rain!!! We left the B&B at 9 a.m., Ernie came over and had breakfast and we all headed out together. He rode with us almost all the way to the State line. It was drizzly most of the morning- not really bad just a little annoying. We stopped along the ocean in Cape Ann and took some photos of the waves crashing (they seemed a bit more violent because of the weather). The weather channel had indicated that there was a rare Nor'Easter hitting the coast (when a storm heads out to sea and gets pushed back along the coast- usually happens in the Winter rare for this time of year). Then it started to rain and rain and rain. We pulled into Salem to get out of the rain for a while by visiting the Salem Witches Dungeon Museum. We walked through the area to find the Harley Dealer but they were closed. We got back on the road and the storm began to intensify- by the time we got to Boston we felt like buckets of water were being thrown in our faces and it continued that way all the way to Cape Cod (the tunnels through Boston were a welcome relief because it was that only time we weren't dealing with rain). We finally got to our lodging for the night (another B&B) about 6:00 p.m. The people running it were not too thrilled that we were entering soaking wet so they made us remove our shoes and rain gear on the porch (she did put our clothes in the dryer though). She wasn't really that pleasant- you could tell she was really annoyed. We got dry and then walked down the street and had dinner at a little local hang out. We got lots of advice on places to check out on the Cape from the locals eating in the little dining room with us. We decided on our way out in the morning we would try one of the suggested routes. We walked back to our B&B watched a little TV and went to bed - we were exhausted from fighting the rain all day.
DAY EIGHT ~ We left Cape Cod around 7:00 a.m. in the rain but by the time we made it to Connecticut we had some blue sky popping through and we were able to take our rain jackets off (we left the pants on to help with the spray). We drove through Fall River and stopped at a couple of Harley Dealers for shirts. We made it to our B&B about 4:00 p.m. and checked in. We headed off the Brotherhood Winery (the oldest winery in the country and the reason we were staying in this little town). But by the time we made it there they had just closed (10 minutes before). One of the staff decided that even though he could give us a tour he wasn't going to let us leave without at least giving us a tasting. He was really nice and we appreciated the special attention. We took a few pictures of the outside of the winery and headed out to find some dinner. We ate a little Japanese restaurant in the center of town and then went back to the B&B. The B&B was located in a nice area well away from town set back in the woods. We decided we would just enjoy the house for the remainder of the evening- we sat on the porch and took pictures of the deer that were hanging out in the back area of the property.
DAY NINE ~ We started out the day at 7:00 a.m. and it started to sprinkle a little bit so we stopped and put our rain pants on just to be safe. After getting turned around a couple of times and missing roads trying to follow the Delaware River coast we headed down through the State Park on Rt209 in Pennsylvania and then cut back over to the New Jersey side farther down the road. We made a small detour to find tumble falls outside of Frenchtown, PA but we couldn't find it and got back on our way. We were making good time into Washington, D.C. and then we hit gridlock just outside the city. We were at a stand still and the bike was heating up (we hit 300 degrees on the oil temperature). We finally had to just stop and let the bike cool down for awhile. We finally made it across the river to Arlington, Virginia where we were staying for the next few days. We had a nice room overlooking the river in a nice area, with a beautiful view of the city. We walked around the area for a bit and had a nice dinner before calling it a night.
DAY TEN ~ We slept in this morning and just kind of hung out for a bit. John heard about a private driver who does tours around the city from another biker staying in the hotel, so we decided to go this route to see the city. We made arrangements to meet him in the lobby at 9:30 for a 3 hour tour. We met George, our driver, and headed out to see Washington, D.C.! George customized the tour for what we wanted to see and was great, he dropped us off right in front of memorials so we could walk around and visit and he was waiting for us when we returned. We saw all the memorials on our list (Iwo Jima Statue, FDR, Korean War, Vietnam Wall, Lincoln's, Jefferson's, Arlington National Cemetery and the WWII)! And then he took us on a driving tour of the remainder of the city, pointing out buildings and giving us lots of history and trivia about many of them. He showed us Capitol Hill, White House, Library of Congress, Smithsonian, FBI building and lots more. It was a great way to enjoy the city. He dropped us off back at our hotel and we headed off to find lunch- we went to a little neighborhood bar and grill- I can't believe John got carded at 51 years old! After lunch we walked across the Key Bridge to Georgetown and walked around there for a bit. Several Presidential helicopters flew over our heads as we were walking. While we were in downtown we saw a bunch of secret service agents with guns drawn, apparently something going on. And there was a protest being held outside the White House. We walked around Rosslyn for the rest of the day and hung out at the hotel for the remainder of the evening.
DAY ELEVEN ~ We left D.C. early (5:00 a.m.) to beat the traffic- it was a sunny when we headed out toward North Carolina. Today's ride was mostly interstate and highway. We changed needed to change the oil because of the bike being overheated in D.C. so we stopped at the Harley Dealer in Yorktown and picked up oil (checked there oil change prices- outrageous) so we decided to do it ourselves we just needed a place to work and a pan to drop the oil in. We stopped at a little garage and they said no- so we went across the street to a little motorcycle shop and they were really nice and let us use their garage and gave John everything he needed to change the oil, while I sat in the office and talked with the guys. After about an hour we were back on the road and on our way. Just as we started to get near New Bern, North Carolina a storm hit, thunder, lightening, rain... so we ducked under an underpass to put on our rain gear and to let the worst of is pass. We were back on our way in about 30 minutes it was raining but not as hard. We got ahead of the storm a bit and made it to Havelock where we were going to rent a car for the week end to spend with our son (he is stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina). While I got the rental car, John went to the base to pick up Sandy. By the time they got back the rain had returned so Sandy and I drove to Jacksonville in the car and John rode the bike- getting soaked in the process. We were visiting our friend Todd for the week end and while Todd and John visited and checked out the bike, Sandy and I headed to the hotel to check in. We stopped for food and headed back to Todd's house to visit for the rest of the evening.
DAY TWELVE ~ We slept in today and took our time to get up and get going. Sandy and I dropped John off at Todd's house so they could spend the day together and work on the bike (they went to the Harley dealer and hung out). Sandy and I headed to the beach and the Fort Macon. Then we went back to the base to pick up some stuff for Sandy and we stopped at a tattoo parlor and I got another tattoo. Then we went back to Todd's to pick up John and the three of us hung out at the hotel for the remainder of the evening.
DAY THIRTEEN ~ We met Todd and his wife Barb for breakfast at 9:00 a.m. at the local Cracker Barrel. After a nice breakfast with friends Sandy, John and I set off to see the memorials in Jacksonville (the Beirut Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial and the 911 Memorial). We went to Camp LeJeune and hung out at the Post Exchange for a bit and drove around. We then went to the Emerald Isle Aquarium and spent some time there before taking Sandy back to base. We went back to the Todd's house for a bit and then went back to the hotel to pack up and get ready to go in the morning.
DAY FOURTEEN ~ We left this morning at 6:00 a.m. and headed out- a lot of the day was spent on the interstate. Just before we reached the North Carolina state line we got pulled over by a state trooper he said it was because he couldn't see our license plate but we think it was to just check out the bike! A little farther down the road we stopped at a Brookstone Gardens on Hwy 17 just outside of Myrtle Beach to stretch our legs and get off the bike for a while. We walked around and took pictures for about an hour. We got back on the road and pulled into Lexington, South Carolina about 4:00 p.m.- we took advantage of the free Manager's reception at the hotel (free appetizers and beer & wine) then we walked down the road to the local Taco Bell and then we just chilled out back at our room for the evening.
DAY FIFTEEN ~ We left a little late this morning (7:15 a.m.) and headed across South Carolina- not much interstate today only about 18 miles of it so the day was pretty laid back. We stopped at a gem mining place in the Smokey Mountains and sifted through a bucket we got for free because the guy didn't have change for a $20. We found our hotel for the night- a nice place catering to bikes (the Two Wheel Inn). We had plenty of day light left and the sun was shining so we decided to ride around the area for a while we rode to the start of the Dragon's Tail at Deal's Gap and we got a t-shire because we knew they wouldn't be open when we came through in the morning. We back tracked back around near our hotel and then rode through the Nantahala Gorge (we got stuck in a little traffic because of an accident on the winding road). We found a place to have dinner and then went back to the hotel and shared road stories with other bikers at the hotel before turning in for the night.
DAY SIXTEEN ~ About 4:30 a.m. we were woken up by the sound of pouring rain on the tin roof of the hotel. We immediately thought no, not more rain- but it stopped raining about 90 minutes later (leaving all the roads pretty wet). We got up and got on the road just before 7 a.m. and headed out. We ended up riding the Dragon's Tail on wet roads in the fog, with the sun just coming up through the trees. It wasn't as bad as the hype but you could see where pegs had scraped on the pavement. We only had one semi truck come up the other direction (crossing into our lane). We made it through to the other side and stopped in Maryville for breakfast and to visit the local Harley Dealer for a t-shirt. We got stuck in some major construction traffic so we pulled out the map and found an alternate route which was actually quite beautiful. We finally crossed over into Kentucky at about 1:30 p.m. (it seemed like it took forever to cross Tennessee). We made our way to Elizabethtown where we were staying for the night. We found our hotel but we were not pleased (the clerk was rude, the room was dirty, we saw bugs, the TV was nothing but fuzz and it faced the interstate so all you heard was highway noise). We went to dinner and came back and decided to find a new place to stay. The Holiday Inn Express not far away had a nice room with no highway noise, no bugs, clean and a clear TV. So we moved to the new hotel and settled in for the night.
DAY SEVENTEEN ~ We got started at 7:25 a.m. and after we found our way back to original starting spot (we went the wrong direction for about 25 miles) it was 8:30 and we were finally off in the right direction. We made our way through Kentucky and into Bloomington, Indiana where we stopped at the Harley Dealer and then we were back out on the road. We drove through Brown County and around the state park. When we got to Rockville, Indiana we picked up a map at the visitor's center for the location to the covered bridges (Parke County is the covered bridge capital of the world there are 31 in the one county). We followed the brown route on the map to see 8 bridges and then we followed most of the yellow route which turned out to be nearly 20 miles of gravel roads. We made it to the Turkey Run State Park where we were staying. We checked in and ate dinner at the lodge and walked around the state park trails for a little bit to round out the evening we checked out the Jacuzzi and went to bed.
DAY EIGHTEEN ~ We were on the road by 7:00 a.m. and headed home. We decided to take some pictures of a few more covered bridges before we headed out of Indiana so we spent a few hours driving around Parke County and then headed into Illinois. We made our way into familiar territory and got home around 12:30 p.m. Another trip comes to end!
We're getting ready to leave for our annual summer trip (13 days and counting). We are going East this year -- can't wait -- 18 days on the road.
This is the story of our 2008 summer trip. This year we went all the way to the California coast and through the Pacific Northwest and back to the Midwest.
DAY ONE ~ We left the house at 6:30 am on our way and everything was fine we drove 66 all the way to Lincoln stopping at the landmarks in Odell (Gas Station, etc.) and downtown Lincoln (Hot Dog Man). We stopped at the Dixie Truck Stop about 10:30 and ate we were back on the road. After going through Lincoln (at about 11:30ish) we turned onto old Route 66 and as we were going down the road John felt, what he thought was water, on his face and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. He pulled over immediately and discovered fluid from the bike spraying him in the face (it was all over our helmets and jackets). At first he thought is was brake fluid and that we had lost our front brakes and we could limp it to the nearest Harley Dealer (Springfield) so he wiped it down and wrapped a bandana on the area and we started down the road again slowly. As soon as we started back down the road the fluid came spraying back in his face-- we pulled over again. After further inspection he determined that it was not the front brake but the fork. We called Harley Owners Group and set up with them to send us a tow truck. So we sat on the road emergency flashers on and took pictures of flowers and talked. So many people stopped and asked us if we were okay! After 45 minutes of waiting we called Harley Owners Group back to find out about the tow truck and were told they had cancelled it (without even telling us) because they weren't sure about the company and that they had ordered us a new truck and it would be there sometime in the next hour. After an hour had elapsed (with no tow truck in site) John decided that he could drain the fork fluid and we could get it to the dealer ourselves. After draining the fluid he tried to start the bike and because the emergency flashers had been on all this time we had a dead battery-- we weren't going anywhere! The tow truck finally arrived and took us to Springfield about 20 miles away. Tow truck bill $167 (H.O.G. paid $100 of it so it cost us $67). It was 3:00 by the time we arrived at the dealer. The dealer determined that it was a pinch pin that had broke in the front right fork -- both forks were fixed under our extended warranty but we had to pay the $50 deductible and buy a new battery total bill for us $197. While we waited we got some food at a local BBQ joint and at 5:00 we were finally on our way again. We thought we could still make it to Lebanon, our stop for the night. We took I-44 all the way only stopping for gas. We stopped at a little liquor/convenience store to get something to drink and looked at a guy's weather radar on his phone-- it didn't look good, there was a big storm coming and we were headed right into it-- the question was could we make it to Lebanon before it poured! It started to sprinkle a bit and it was getting really dark so we stopped at a gas station and put on our rain gear and were back on the road. As we neared Rolla, MO, (it was about 9:30) we could see large cracks of lightening and huge black clouds and it was late and dark and we were tired so we decided to just eat the cost of the hotel in Lebanon and stay the night in Rolla. We pulled into the Holiday Inn Express and they had a room. After we secured the bike and got settled in our room, John looked out the window and it was pouring cats and dogs. If we hadn't stopped we would have been drowned rats! We showered and did our little routine and went to bed.
DAY TWO ~ We headed out on the road at about 6:30. We started to try and follow Route 66 but it was really poorly marked through Missouri and in many spots the road just dead ended and we would have to back track or there would be a sign on the interstate and we would get off and try to follow it but there would be nothing giving you the direction on the off ramp. So after several hours of this we decided to skip Route 66 through the rest of Missouri and pick it back up later. We stopped at Tiny's Smokehouse and had a bite to eat and were on our way again. In Joplin, MO we stopped at the Harley Dealer and got a shirt and met a group of riders out of the Chicago area headed for a rally in Arkansas-- one of them had John's tattoo painted on the rear fender of his bike. After the Harley dealer we were able to pick Route 66 back up and we slipped into Kansas without even a 'Welcome to...' sign. We stopped and took some pictures of a fire engine that looked like Big Red from the movie Cars. We stopped at Sonic and had some iced tea and let the bike cool off for a bit and we were headed down the road again. Near Baxter Springs, KS we crossed over Rainbow Bridge, the only remaining Marsh Arch Bridge on Route 66. We jumped onto the turnpike and took it into Kellyville, OK where we jumped back onto Route 66. We stopped in Arcadia at Pops where they have the largest selection of soda pop (and of course gas and food). We let the bike cool down for a bit while we sat in the grass and drank weird sodas like Brain Washed. We finished our soda and were on the road again. We were through Oklahoma City and onto El Reno. We checked into our hotel (The Best Western at Hensley) and ate dinner at Montana Mike's across the street before calling it a night.
DAY THREE ~ We started the day okay at 6:00. There was some rain the direction we were going so we hung back a little to give it time to blow over. We stopped and had breakfast at the Trading Post Restaurant when we arrived they weren't quite open yet. We chatted with an older couple seated behind us and took a look around their gift shop. After breakfast we headed back onto the road-- the weather was looking a little dicey so we decided to stop at the rest stop and put on our rain paints, just in case. We crossed the Texas state line and picked up Route 66 again. We stopped and took pictures of an old Conoco station that had been restored and John saw cars in a used car lot that looked like the characters from the movie Cars (Doc, Flo, Mater and Lizzie) so we stopped and took pictures of them too. We followed Route 66 into McLean, TX were we stopped at the Devil's Rope Museum (barbed wire). We walked around inside for about 45 minutes and when we came out John noticed that back tire was acting funny-- we had a flat! John pulled out his fix a flat and wasn't able to get the nozzle on the tire (he bought the one without the hose) so while he cussed at the tire and was trying to get the fix a flat in it-- a couple on a bike stopped and made sure we were okay and upon our assurances they were gone. After several minutes of John cussing, without much luck with the fix a flat-- I decided to go back into the museum and see where the nearest gas station was. I talked to the nice older lady who ran the place and she called the local mechanic (he was at home on his day off). He agreed to meet us at his shop a few blocks away. So John rode the bike slowly down to the shop while I followed behind on foot. The mechanic was really nice and between him and John they were able to get some fix a flat in the tire and it appeared to be holding air so we could limp it to Amarillo and the nearest Harley Dealer. We crossed our fingers and headed onto I-40 to get to Amarillo. A little ways down the road we stopped at a rest stop to make sure it was still holding air and it appeared to be doing okay. We passed the World's Largest Cross in Groom, TX and kept going. We stopped in Conway, TX to take a picture of the Bug Ranch-- John was determined not to let a flat tire ruin our trip. When we arrived at the Bug Ranch we took pictures and John checked the tire-- we had lost a lot of air so we went across the way and filled it up again and we made a bee line to Amarillo hoping that the air would hold until we got to the dealer (the dealer was on the far end of town). We made it to the dealer and they took us right in and were able to replace the inner tube (there was nothing wrong with the tire, the inner tube was installed incorrectly and it had twisted and caused a hole). We talked to them about the front tire and they didn't seem to think there would be an issue so we left it as is. But, John had them check the belt and make sure it was okay. They were really nice to us! We back tracked to the other side of town and ate lunch at the Big Texan Steakhouse and then headed for the Cadillac Ranch. We walked through the field to the famous roadside attraction and John spray painted S&M on the cars and I added 4 Ever and we were back on the bike and headed to Tucumcari, NM. We made it to our hotel (The Blue Swallow) and upon checking in a couple was sitting outside their room and it turned out they were the couple that had stopped and asked us if we were okay in McLean. We walked around town a bit, grabbed some dinner and waited for dark. After the sun went down we took pictures of the neon at our hotel (the owner gave me some pointers) and then we rode around town and took pictures of other neon signs. John went to the convenience store to get a six pack of beer and he got carded (50 years old and they are still carding him!)! We spent the remainder of the evening enjoying a drink and sitting and talking with the couple from the road. We finally hit the rack about 10ish.
DAY FOUR ~ We got up early and were on the road at 5:45. John didn't finish all his beer from the night before so he left it with the owner for the next group of bikers to enjoy (which I am sure was appreciated). We headed through town on Route 66 and were on our way again. We decided to stop in Santa Rosa for breakfast but couldn't find any place to eat so we pushed on. We were on the interstate for a while and were making good time-- there was another bike on the road and John kept pace with him weaving through the cars at a good pace. We finally stopped for breakfast at Cline's Corner, worst breakfast ever. We walked around the gift shop (it was huge) but didn't find anything we wanted to buy so we were on our way again. We made it into Albuquerque in such good time that the Harley Dealer wasn't open yet so we decided to stop at the Navajo Culture Center-- we walked around and looked at the exhibits for a bit (and took this opportunity to use the bathroom) and then headed to the dealer for a t-shirt. We spent a good portion of the day stopping and looking at Indian Trading Posts on the side of the road (I was on a hunt for an armadillo, a watch and of course Kokopellis for Hiedi). We crossed the continental divide and stopped and took pictures of the sign which was in a cluster of trading posts that we browsed through. We stopped at a little shop on the reservation and bought Hiedi the world's smallest Kachina doll and also found a beautiful Kokopelli with boots for her down the road. We rode the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park. A lot of the initial scenery reminded us of the badlands in South Dakota. We walked through a couple of the petrified forests and John was going to bring back two small pieces of petrified wood-- I convinced him we didn't need any more bad luck and he put them back. We made it to Holbrook, AZ where we stayed in the WigWam Motel. The wigwams were a lot bigger than I had expected them to be! We ate at the Butterfield Stage Co. Restaurant (not the greatest dinner). We headed back to the wigwam and took some pictures of their neon sign.
DAY FIVE ~ 6:00 and we were on our way to Winslow, AZ. We stopped to take pictures of the standing on the corner corner. After we finished we were headed to get some gas and have breakfast and then we were going to come back for some t-shirts. But, when we got back on the bike it was acting funny and John noticed that the front tire was flat. We were right in front of a hotel and we asked the gardener that was walking around about a tire shop or garage or something near by. He told us there was a tire shop just a few blocks away and that they had a motorcycle guy next door. So once again John carefully rode the bike to the shop and I walked the few blocks. When we got there we found out that the shop opened at 8:00 so we sat down to wait. The tire guy showed up to open the shop and told us that the motorcycle guy had the day off and wouldn't be in. Crap! So we pulled out the fix-a-flat and put it in the tire along with some air from the tire guy and we had to limp it to the Flagstaff Harley dealer (which was in the town outside of Flagstaff) the only other Harley dealer was in Sedona about 100 miles away. So we started to limp it to Flagstaff about 60 miles away. As we got into the outskirts of Flagstaff we pulled into a gas station just off the interstate and put air in the tire I called the Harley Dealer and found out they were closed on Monday. Crap! We talked to a guy at the gas station and he told us about a Motorsport shop that was open and told us they should be able to fix the tire, so we set our sights for the Northland Motorsports shop. From that point on we had to stop every few blocks or so to put air in the tire. We finally got it to the shop and talked to the guy they agreed to fix it for us (John later found out that the guy in the shop had grown up in Aurora and went to the same high school as our children). So while the bike was being fixed we walked over to the mall and ate lunch. We decided that we were not going to be able to do both Sedona and the Grand Canyon so we gave up Sedona and headed for the canyon. We stopped at all the scenic overlooks and took pictures-- we both agreed that we thought the Northern Rim was much prettier than the Southern Rim (even though you could see the Colorado River only on the Southern). We headed out of the canyon and into Willliams where we were staying for the night (The Lodge on Route 66). We got settled into our room and John lied down to take a nap. I took a relaxing bath and then walked to the local convenience store for some drinks. When I got back John was up and we decided to walk around town and get some food. We walked through the stores and the first thing we found was a purple rabbit's foot (maybe it would bring us some luck) we also found a beautiful watch and my armadillo and then we ate dinner. As we were walking back to the hotel there was a show going on in the street just past our hotel so we stood around and watched for a little bit before going back to our room. We locked up the bike and added our rabbit's foot and then went to bed.
DAY SIX ~ We left early today (5:00) to get a jump on the desert heat. We made good time into Kingman where we stopped for breakfast and got a t-shirt at the Harley dealership. We left Kingman and were on our way to Vegas. We road across the Hoover Dam and looked for the state border on the pavement (it wasn't there). We stopped just on the other side of the Dam and had something to drink and let the bike cool off a bit and then were on our way again. We pulled into Vegas and rode down the strip. The stop lights were really long and the bike was heating up so we decided to stop at the Gold Coast Casino and gamble a little bit while the bike cooled down. John taught me how to play some of the machines and we spent $25 on the slots-- we walked out of the casino with $27.76 so we actually came out ahead by $2.76 (we are such high rollers!). We hopped back on the bike and headed to Beatty-- we made a few stops along the way to take pictures and the bike continued to heat up (it was 110 degrees). When we pulled into town there were donkeys just walking down the street and we found our hotel (Stagecoach Hotel & Casino). We met up with Gaylene and Gil (my sister and brother-in-law you drove up from Victorville, CA) and chatted a bit before going to dinner in the hotel restaurant (they bought us dinner). Gaylene and I walked around the little candy shop for a little while there were two life size statues of pirates so we took a picture of John and a pirate (to bring back for Hiedi) and then we went to the casino-- Gaylene showed me how to play the penny slots. Between John and I we spent about $15 dollars. John won 17 quarters ($4.25) and put it all back into the machine. I won $35 on the penny slots and walked away before I put it back in the machine so we walked away with about $20. We got some drinks and sat at a table near the pool and just visited for the rest of the evening. We called it a night at 9:30 and said goodbye. We had a nice visit with Gaylene!
DAY SEVEN ~ We left Beatty at 5:00 am another get ahead of the heat day. We started out across Death Valley we stopped and took pictures of the sun rise and the sand dunes. At one point John thought there was another issue with the bike because he couldn't get any power past 50 mph but then he realized that we were climbing and he needed to change gears. The rocks in the valley started out lighter colors but the deeper you got into the valley the blacker they got from the sun. At the end of the valley we were stopped by construction for a bit but no big deal. We stopped on the other side of the valley for breakfast and then headed north to Yosemite. We stopped at McDonald's so I could use the bathroom and a bird attacked my head (which John thought was pretty funny). We made good time and made it to Lee Vining by 10:30. We drove the few miles past the Yosemite turn off to see Mono Lake-- but because of the wild fires in California there was a haze that covered the sky and the lake was not clear and blue. We backtracked and took the Yosemite turn off-- there was a lot of construction and we waited in a no passing area for the construction to clear but several cars felt the need to break the law and pass in a dangerous way as if it was a bad thing to be behind a motorcycle. We made our way across Yosemite stopping to take pictures and let the bike cool down and enjoy some of the views. It seemed to take forever to make our way across the park. We pulled into Jamestown, CA about 3:00 and found our hotel right in town-- our hotel was said to be haunted and we were right across the room from the haunted room but we saw no signs of ghosts. We walked around town for a little bit-- found the Harley dealer but didn't find any shirts that John liked so we moved along. We found out that there was not much available for food until much later. So we decided on the pizza parlor and sat down and had some food. We had way too much food (our eyes were bigger than our stomachs) and some local boys came in with little money trying to decide what they could buy with what they had so we gave them the remainder of our pizza. We walked to the train station museum where the Back to the Future train was suppose to be but they had just closed so we walked back to our hotel and took a nap for a bit. We took the bike to the next town over and visited the grocery store for necessities. We went back to our room-- used the Jacuzzi, watched a little TV and went to bed.
DAY EIGHT ~ We set out early again at 5:30 am. We made good time to Mercant where we stopped to have breakfast at the IHOP. We talked to a guy while we were having breakfast that told us that the route we planned would be full of rush hour traffic and we would be sitting there for hours (which we suspected). He gave us a new route taking 12 across into Stockton and then across the Bay Bridge. We made really good time taking the alternate route and when we started to get near the city we jumped into the car pool lane and made really good time into the city. We followed 101 through the city of San Francisco and then headed across the Golden Gate Bridge. While looking at the bridge and taking pictures a couple came up to us and asked if we could take their picture, we assumed of them and the bridge; no they wanted their picture taken with them and our bike! We headed up Highway 1 along the coast. The scenery was pretty but the road was really slow going and a challenge, it was nothing but switchbacks, sharp turns and curves. We stopped in Bodega Bay to have lunch (the restaurant where The Birds was filmed). We had a nice leisurely lunch-- the seafood was good. We were back on the road and headed to our final destination, it took us nearly 9 hours to get to Garberville, CA and we only stopped for gas and once or twice to take pictures. When we got into Fort Bragg we had to detour across Route 20 to go to Hwy 101. We got to the Humboldt Inn in Garberville, CA-- walked up the road had some dinner and were in for the night.
DAY NINE ~ We got off to a late start this morning (6:30 am). We started out on the Avenue of the Giants and then onto Hwy 101. We rode through groves of redwoods and saw a huge tree that had fallen and stopped to take pictures of it. We stopped at The Tree of Mystery and walked around the gift shop and took pictures of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. We stopped to take pictures of waterfalls and walk along streams. We didn't find the main grove that you always see but we did see many different groves. We headed into Oregon and found out that the road around Crater Lake had opened just a week before so we would be able to go through. We stopped at a little place to get something to drink and the locals told us of a really pretty gorge and waterfall that we had to backtrack to but it was worth it. We walked along the stream and took pictures along the way then headed to Crater Lake. There was still plenty of snow on the ground and the lake was beautiful it was crystal clear and brilliant blue. After seeing the lake we headed to Chemult, OR where we were staying (The Featherbed Inn). Chemult is a tiny little town-- we ate dinner a little restaurant and grabbed something to drink at the little grocery store and headed back to our room. We had a Jacuzzi so we hung out in it for awhile and then went to bed.
DAY TEN ~ We started out for the day at 6:30. We stopped in La Pine-- we missed the turn off for the cascade highway and didn't realize it until we were well passed it so we decided not to go back. We got to Bend, OR and decided that we really needed to change oil so we looked around for a Jiffy Lube-- we finally found one and they were no help at all, they didn't have a pan and didn't have any place that we could change oil. So we went to an auto supply store and we were waiting for them to open when the guy came and let John in early and he bought oil and a pan and everything he needed. The guy even let us use the back area to change oil and when we were done we gave him the pan full of oil and he took care of disposing it for us (better than Jiffy Lube). We found the Harley dealer and bought a t-shirt and we were on our way. We went through the Columbia River Gorge and only saw two waterfalls and then John turned around to find the rest, we didn't see anymore they were too far the other way, so we turned back around and headed in the right direction. Not as spectacular as I had imagined. We made our way to the hotel (Cousins Country Inn and Hotel) in The Dalles. John did his normal lock down on the bike and discovered that we had lost our lights. We knew there would be no place in Washington to get them fixed (all the Harley Dealers were closed on Sunday in the state) so we knew we would have to try and get it fixed in Kalispell, MT on Monday. We did our laundry and ate dinner in the hotel restaurant. Then we headed back to our room and watched TV and went to bed.
DAY ELEVEN ~ We were on our way by 6 am (again), and we were on our way to Sandpoint, ID. We followed the gorge along the interstate and crossed into Washington about 8 am. We made good time through Washington and crossed into Idaho about 1:00. We saw eagles nesting on the top of telephone poles and we turned around to take a picture an owl on top of the pole. We saw little private train cars going down the track-- they were really cute! We found our hotel and at first thought it was this trailer park because where the sign was and then we saw the hotel next door-- it was not much better. I went into the office with the kid running the place and when he came out of the back there were a lot of teenagers and the smell of marijuana was definitely in the air. He showed us the room and it was a total dump. So we told him we just didn't feel comfortable staying there and we would find someplace else to stay. We headed down the road and ended up on the outskirts of town without finding anyplace else. We stopped on the side of the road to look at the map and see how far away the next town was and we saw a lady on a bicycle and asked her if she knew any places to stay in the area. She gave us some directions to several different hotels in the area. We finally ended up at the Best Western Edgewater. It ended up costing us $222 for a room and we were lucky to get one. But it was a nice room with a pretty view of the lake and a heart-shaped Jacuzzi. We walked around town for a little bit and just wandered in and out of shops. We helped a guy push his car out of the road and then we went back to the hotel. We found the hotel restaurant and sat outside with a view of the lake and just hung out for awhile having a drink and munching on some food. We went back to our room, used the Jacuzzi and watched some TV.
DAY TWELVE ~ We got off to a lat start today (6:15) and made our way around the lake. We could see really pretty mountains and stopped to take pictures of them, the roads were pretty desolate. We saw goats running along the road and into the bushes. We stopped and ate lunch at a little place and looked at their gift shop (we bought Spike a couple of toys). And were back on the road we made it into Kalispell, MT and found the Harley dealer where we bought a t-shirt and John bought parts for the bike so he could fix the lights. He was able to fix the main headlight but the dealer didn't have the passenger light bulbs, so we would just have to make due with one large light. We asked about the Going-to-the-Sun road in Glacier and were told the road was not all the way open-- we could go in 29 miles from the east and 20 miles from the west so we decided to go in on the east side and back out and then around to our destination for the night (Browning). Glacier was really pretty and we stopped a lot to take pictures -- we saw two moose and lots of waterfalls and streams. You could see the water streaming down the mountainsides. We stopped and walked around and followed a stream to a lake. We stopped in West Glacier village and walked around in the shops for a little bit. We stopped a stream outside the park and took pictures and then we were just getting up to speed and I saw a beautiful waterfall and asked John to stop-- after giving me a little shit about stopping he turned around and went back-- it was worth it the waterfall was like stars and I got some great pictures. We made our way around the southern edge of the park and into Browning. We found our hotel (and I use the term lightly) 10 miles outside of town in the middle of nowhere. When we arrived no one was there and the restaurant was closed-- we were low on gas and were hungry. After pounding on doors for a few minutes a girl appeared and we told her we were not staying-- it was little more than a campground or RV park. We headed back into Browning and found out there really wasn't any options for a place to stay there, so we got gas and headed into the next town. There weren't many options in the next town either-- so we decided to go one more town over (Shelby). We stopped at several hotels as we got into town and they were all booked-- the last desk clerk told us about a hotel in downtown (Ohaire Manor Motel) that had availability. We found the place and it was good-- it was already after 9pm when we got to the hotel. We locked the bike up in the garage and walked a few blocks downtown and ate dinner and then we called it a night.
DAY THIRTEEN ~ We headed out of Shelby at 6:15 and down the road. The road was so desolate-- there was no one in sight for miles, and miles, and miles -- (you get the idea). We were going to stop in Havre for breakfast and weren't able to find any place to eat-- so we kept going. As we were riding the street the street just disappeared it became a gravel construction zone with no notice. We took it easy and made our way through the area and out the other end (the road sucked!). We got a little way down the road and there was more road construction and there we had to sit and wait for quite awhile ? then we were finally escorted through the gravel road and finally onto a real road. We made it into Glasgow by 12:30 and found our hotel and checked in (we had an issue at check in they had cancelled our reservation but were still able to find us a room-- so all was okay). There wasn't much in town outside the hotel and nothing close enough to walk to. There was a casino (a handful of video poker games in the bar) in the hotel so we decided to entertain ourselves for awhile-- John wasn't playing but I was so they gave me my sodas for free-- lucky me (I didn't win anything and decided to quit while we were ahead) so we found the hotel restaurant and headed back to our room for the night.
DAY FOURTEEN ~ Today when we started out at 6:15 it was really cold-- not freezing, but pretty cold. We rode down another really desolate road and crossed into North Dakota about 8am and then we made our way to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit. It was a wonderful surprise. It was really pretty, kind of like the badlands of South Dakota but with a lot greener. We stopped at lookouts along the road and took photos. We stopped at one of the first overlooks and walked around a little bit and took pictures of a lizard and cactus flowers in bloom. Continuing along the road we saw bison on the side of the road in one area and were able to ride right passed them with no worries and then further up the road there was a herd of bison blocking the road but they seemed to be moving away so we waited for a little bit and gave them some room. After a few minutes they cleared the road and we were able to pass. We stopped at one area and walked out to a scenic overlook and took the road to the end for a really pretty view where the bison were grazing freely in the landscape. We turned around and headed back out of the park, stopping at the visitor center on our way out where we saw this huge moth and looked around a little bit. It wasn't long before we had made our way to the park's South Unit which was a different atmosphere-- not far into the park we saw a prairie dog town and we stopped to take pictures. While we were taking pictures we started talking to this lady and she took us to see some wild horses (she helped take pictures of the horses to identify them for the park). There were four beautiful horses up on a hill and by following her and doing as she instructed I was able to walk around the horses and even walk between the herd-- we got really close and the horses didn't seem to be scared at all-- I got some great pictures and it was super cool! We left the horses and the prairie dog town behind and headed down the road further into the park-- it seemed like around almost every bend there were more prairie dogs running around and poking their heads in and out of there little tunnels as eagles soared above. We headed back out of the park and to our hotel in Dickinson, ND (AmericInn). We got to the hotel around 5 and had some dinner and hung out in the room for the evening.
DAY FIFTEEN ~ We started off at 6:10 this morning and right away we turned onto the Enchanted Highway. We stopped at every sculpture and took pictures. We stopped at the fourth sculpture (fish one) and there were cows in the field adjacent to the sculpture area-- John started to go over to the cows and they were staring at him and then they just left (I guess they didn't like him). We drove through a very desolate farm area-- we came around one bend and two cows were going at it and John wanted to stop and take a picture but by the time we turned around to take the picture the cows had gotten off of each other and they were all just staring at us so we turned back around and just kept going. Throughout the whole area there were lots of deer in the field and pheasants everywhere. We made our way to Mandan and they had some festival going on-- we stopped at the local Hardee's and had breakfast and got directions to the Harley dealer where we were able to find a t-shirt for John and were on our way. We stopped in Jamestown to see the World's Largest Buffalo and took pictures standing under it (the statue spit on John) and we kissed under the buffalo's balls. We walked around the pioneer town for a bit, stopping to look at Louis Lamoure's writing shack and the other little shops and building they had. Back on the road again we headed into Fargo, we stopped at Famous Dave's and had Linner (in between Lunch and Dinner) and then on our way to Detroit Lakes, MN. We found our hotel-- right next to the road and a set of railroad tracks (the train went through a lot). The clerk had told us about a place we could eat, but when we walked down there it turned out to be way too expensive so we walked back to our room and John bought popcorn and candy out of the machines and we made do with that for dinner. We took a bath in the Jacuzzi and watched a little TV and went to bed.
DAY SIXTEEN ~ We left Detroit Lakes, MN at 6:20 and headed for Frazee where we looked for the World's Largest Turkey-- we found one statue in town but never did find the other one. We made time down the interstate and took an alternate route around Minneapolis/St. Paul where we made really good time around the city. We took the Great River Road and followed the Mississippi River which was really pretty the road had some nice twists and turns but not too much. We stopped to take a picture of the World's Largest Six Pack of Beer and headed into downtown La Crosse. We checked into our hotel (The Radisson) by 2:00. The hotel was right on the river and the LaCrosse Riverfest was going on right outside the back entrance. We walked around Riverfest and found some food-- we went back to our hotel for awhile and kicked back. We decided to go back out and walk around town for a bit to find something for dinner-- never found anything so we went back to our room and order pizza from room service. We hung out in our room until dark and then walked back outside and sat on the grass for awhile before the fireworks started. When they finally did we moved into the crowd and watched the show on the banks of the river.
DAY SEVENTEEN ~ We left early and were on our way home, we followed the Great River Road on the Wisconsin side. We stopped in Dickeyville, WI and saw the Dickeyville Grotto-- one man's tribute to religion and patriotism (people in Wisconsin have a lot of time on their hands). We crossed the Mississippi into Iowa and then within minutes we were through Dubuque and across the Mississippi again and into Illinois. We went through Galena and into familiar territory. We pulled up to the house at 12:30 just in time to see Hiedi before she went to work! John went to wash the bike-- the chrome was black-- full of bugs! It took two steam washings and one hand wash/polish to get the bike looking good again.
October 21, 2007 -- We live in Illinois so we have an abbreviated riding season due to snow (although we have riden it in the snow a few times). This year we took the bike out of storage just after Valentine's Day and as of this date we surpassed 10,000 miles of riding this year! If the weather holds out in the midwest we may be able to get some more time in this year before we put it up for the winter.
This is the story of our 2007 summer trip through the United States as told through our journal we kept on the road. We traveled through 11 states and visited as many National Parks as we could only traveling major interstates as little as possible. We rode back roads, two lane highwaysand scenic byways. For a complete route go to the United States Inner Loop Route(http://www.openroadjourney.com/loadroute.asp?rid=1056). We ride two up on a 2005 Harley Softail Deluxe(which replaced a 1981 Harley Sturgis). We have logged over 20,000 miles since we bought it in March '05. We are both former Marines and have been married for 20 years. I am an amateur photographer and love to take photos and am never without my camera (I even have it in my hand taking pictures as we ride down the road). This was my husband's 11th trip cross country on a Harley (he traveled home every year on leave from the Corps -- mainly via interstates) but his first with a sidekick traveling back roads. This was my first cross country trip (we made a small trip last year around Lake Superior 5 days and 1,800 miles). We made this trip in 17 days averaging about 300 miles a day. Hope you enjoy reading about our adventure -- we are starting to plan for summer 2008.
DAY ONE ~ We left early to get ahead of a rainstorm that was looming. We took an alternate route to get ahead of the storm. We drifted on the edge of the storm into Galena, IL. The song that kept going through my head was Riders in the Storm. We stopped briefly in Dixon,ILto put on our rain suits and kept going. As we approached Galena, the sky had cleared and we decided to take a break at the Galena Tower and chill for a little bit. We took our rain suits off and hung out for a little while. We got off the interstate and had lunch in Dyersville, IA and ate at The Country Junction. The Field of Dreams movie site was just 5 miles up the road so we took a detour and went to take a look. It looks just like the movie! For a little bit we were the only ones there but then 4 bus loads of kids showed up and we decided that was our cue to exit, so we took a quick bathroom break (nicest porta-johns ever!) and headed back to the interstate. When we got into Waterloo, it started pouring; we were looking for our hotel and ending up passing it and having to come back. We finally found our hotel, it was nice and we had a Jacuzzi in our room that we had not planned on. The area wasn't bad, it was right in a business district with the mall across the street. Just as we got settled we were checking out the weather channel and the tornado sirens were going off. The front desk called us and told us to come down to the lobby with the other guests because of the tornado warning; we decided not to go. We walked over to the McDonald?s to get something to eat and they wouldn't let us in. They said they were closed because of the tornado, go figure. So we walked down the street and went to Subway, they were open. The severe weather calmed down for a little bit so we called the Harley Dealer and found out they had a store in the mall across the street. We went to the mall and got a t-shirt and by the time we came out it was raining again. We got wet going back to our hotel, used the Jacuzzi and watched TV (Hawaii Five-O).
DAY TWO ~ We started the day in our rain suits! From Waterloo, IAfor the first 70 miles or so we were right in the middle of a pretty bad storm. It was pouring and thundering and lightening (we found out later when we got to our hotel that there had been a tornado touch down in one of the towns we passed through in the storm!). When we finally passed the worst of the storm, we stopped in the middle of the interstate (there was no one on the road but us) and we took a few photos of what we had just come through. The sun came out and we were in the clear. We stopped and ate breakfast at the The Villager Restaurant and while we were stopped we filled up the tank and went to see The World's Largest Popcorn Ball, which was right across the street from the gas station. We made it to Vermillion, SD and after a brief stop tovisit family weheaded toSioux Falls and found the hog dealer and bought a T-shirt. We went to the falls and took pictures. As we were headed back to the bike, a guy in the parking lot overheard us talking about where to eat and recommended The River Walk so we decided to give it a try. We both had filet mignon ~ best steak ever! We were surprised by how little it cost~ under $30 for the entire meal. We headed out of town and down the road to Canistota. We found our hotel in this sleepy little town. Our hotel room was pretty nice and the hotel was actually in a residential neighborhood. We decided to walk downtown (just a few blocks) to see what there was~ not much. So we stopped at the convenience store, bought a few munchies and soda. We went back to our hotel and just hung out there for the rest of the evening.
DAY THREE ~ We got an early start, as always, and as we were headed out of town, we waved to the Amish people walking on the side of road and joked about the long way they had to walk. We stopped in Mitchell, SDto see the corn palace and as we were getting off the bike a local guy walked up and chatted for a few minutes,he referred to the corn palace as the world's largest bird feeder. We found that funny. He recommended Betty's Cafe for breakfast so we thought what the heck and stopped and ate. Back on the road, we saw the man walking a dinosaur sculpture. Just up the road from there we stopped at 1880 Town for a chance to get off the bike and walk for a bit. Back on the road we saw pheasants flying across the highway. We kept seeing the Wall Drug signs along the highway and curiosity got the better ofus and wentto see the tourist trap. So we changed our route and took I-90 into Wall, SD. We walked around and ate lunch at the Cactus Cafe and we were on our way. We took Rt. 240 down to the Badlands Loop and then Rt. 44 into Rapid City, SD. It was 100 degrees today which broke the record for a high temperature. The ride from the Badlands into Rapid City was long and hot. The Badlands themselves were really beautiful. We saw mountain goats playing on the rocks at one of the lookouts we stopped at. The landscape changes from jagged rocks to domes and curves and the colors were remarkable, especially with the wildflowers along the roadsides. We found our hotel, set in a business district with lots of restaurants and other hotels, not far from the interstate and the mall. After eating dinner at Boston Pizza, we decided we would try and see Mount Rushmore lit up. We parked just outside the park and watched it light up and took some photos. As we came through the mountain, heading back into town, you could see the lights of the city glowing in the valley a beautiful sight.
DAY FOUR ~ Today was a pretty full day, we saw a lot! We started out by touring the Black Hills. We went through the Needles Highway and pretty much had it to ourselves. We saw two turkeys, lots of chipmunks, a mouse, quite a few deer~ some close enough to touch. John commented about the buzz he got from the pine and mountain air, a natural high. We turned onto the Iron Mountain Road and as we were going around a bend there were buffalo, first one and then more, and they were getting bigger! We didn't know what to do; blowing the horn did nothing! So we decided to turn around and go back and just as we were started to get going some other bikers came by. We thought if we all went together it might be okay, but it was decided it wouldn't be the best idea. So, we went to plan B which was to wait and see it the buffalo moved off the road on their own. As we were sitting there just chatting with the other bikers a car came by and we thought okay she will move them but, she chickened out, and then a truck came by and he had no fear and headed into the heard so we got back on the bike and followed the truck! It was soooo cool! Just a little way down the road, we were surprised by a group of donkeys which were in the road. We came up on them so fast we rode right through them. We made our way to see Mount Rushmore~ it was kind of a let down after the buffalo, but it was still pretty cool to see. We wound our way through the hills and into Deadwood, SD. We thought we would go see the graveyard (Moriah Cemetery) where a lot of western legends were buried (Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok for example). We got to the top of this really large, steep hill where the cemetery was and found out that they were charging people to see the graves so we decided not to do it and headed back down the hill and out of Deadwood. We went to the Sturgis Harley Dealer and bought t-shirts for everyone and talked to other bikers and hung out for a little while. We wound back through the mountain and ate lunch at a little cafe in Hill City, SD. There was a storm that was gathering overhead and we thought we might get rained on, but we just followed our route and bypassed it. We rode through Spearfish Canyon, with a creek that followed the road most of the way and occasionally popped out of the rocks and trees as beautiful waterfalls. We stopped a couple of times and took pictures of the streams. John noticed a big waterfall on the side of the road that I had missed and he turned around so we could stop and take pictures of Bridal Veil Falls. We arrived in Sundance, WY at our hotel, which was right next to a horse ranch and nothing else, in the middle of no where, next to the interstate. It wasn't great but it was livable. We went into town only to find that there were very few dining choices and nothing was open. We decided that we had plenty of time and nothing else going on so, we headed out to see Devil's Tower. We were on the edge of a storm once again but it was sunny and hot and we felt fairly comfortable that we would be able to go around it. When we got to the tower we noticed that the storm was coming in really fast so we thought we would just hang out and see what it does. Then the storm got closer so we decided to just stay put and wait it out ? we ate dinner at the Devil's Tower Trading Post and waited the storm out with some other bikers before heading back to our hotel.
DAY FIVE ~ We started on our way and went through Hulett, WY. We missed our turn and didn't realize we were going the wrong way until we saw the Welcome to South Dakota sign. We pulled out the map and realized it would be quicker to continue in the direction we were going and catch Rt. 212 in Belle Fourche, SD instead of turning around and back tracking. We got into Belle Fouche, ate breakfast and filled up the tank. We crossed into Montana where we saw wild flowers everywhere ~ you could smell their fragrance in the air. John stopped several times to let me get off and take pictures. We saw a lot of deer and a herd of horses running free along the road. We went through the Crow Indian Reservation and when we came up onto a hill we saw a group of Indians on horses and an Indian in full head dress ~we later found out it was a celebration of the anniversary of Custer's defeat. As we rode through the reservation, we rode on top of a hill and the clouds above us were like a canopy. We stopped at an Indian gift shop and they had real teepees. We made it into Billings, MT about 2:30 and checked into our hotel, it was a VERY nice room with a Jacuzzi. The hotel was in a business area with a few restaurants within walking distance. We decided to have the Harley dealer change the oil instead of the hassle of doing it ourselves. We were surprised to find out that it was $65 for oil change! When we got back to our hotel, we walked over to the restaurant area and nothing was open for dinner yet except the Chinese restaurant so, we ate dinner at the Jade Garden and took the leftovers back to our room to eat later. After a dip in the Jacuzzi and some TV, we went to bed.
DAY SIX ~ We started out the day by having a morning snack at the hotel before heading into Red Lodge, MT~ we stopped and ate breakfast at the Red Lodge Cafe while we waited for the Harley dealer to open. It was a cold morning, only 54 degrees to start and it got colder as we headed into the pass and up the mountain. After the Harley dealer, we headed into the Beartooth Canyon (about 9:15). The pass was a bit scary for me because of the turns and how high it was, there were very few guard rails between us and the steep drops, but John rode it like a pro with no fear. However, the views were breathtaking and so worth the ride. There was snow along the side of the road and the air was so crisp and clean and everywhere you looked there was another amazing view of the mountains~ it was so peaceful it was like you were literally on the top of the world. We stopped at the top and walked around in the snow and took pictures. On the way down we stopped at the appropriately named store, The Top of the World Store, and picked up some souvenirs and headed down. Going down the other side, we saw a lot of waterfalls and streams along the side of the road and stopped and took pictures of many of them. We arrived in Cooke City, MT about noon and were able to check into our hotel early. The area was a bit rustic with a rowdy atmosphere. We decided to shed some gear and head to Yellowstone. We saw buffalo immediately in Lamar Valley and a multitude of animals along the way (black bear, moose, pika, marmots, deer and eagles). We rode through Roosevelt Tower into Mammoth Hot Springs where we stopped and walked to some of the terraces and then rode around to the back and through the scenic loop to see the terraces from the other side. We rode through the far side of the upper loop to Norris Basin. You could see the steam coming up from the ground right along side the road and we stopped a couple of times to get a closer look at stuff that caught our attention. We walked a short distance to Steamboat Geyser and saw it spurting with small eruptions. Along the trail, we stopped and saw Emerald Springs and other small fumaroles. We stopped at Canyon Lodge, had dinner and did a little souvenir shopping before heading back through Lamar Valley. We came back to Cooke City and stopped at a little bar, The Ore House Saloon, and had a few drinks before going back to the hotel and to bed.
DAY SEVEN ~ We started the day at 6:00 and headed into Yellowstone, again through Lamar Valley, and saw more buffalo. We took the road headed toward Tower Falls and Canyon Village. It was freezing!! It got so cold we had to stop and buy hot chocolate to warm up a bit. While we were standing around trying to get warm, we saw a family of pika in the brush and I was able to get pretty close to them and take some close-up pictures. After we warmed up just a bit, we headed to Tower Falls. We rode the length of Falls Road and saw the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Lower Falls. As I was looking at the falls, trying to decide how I was going to take my pictures, an osprey flew right in front of me just a few feet away. I was so awed that I didn't even think to snap a picture of him until after he flew away (dummy!). We left the falls behind and rode around to Madison Basin. We got off the bike and walked around the geyser walks to get a look at some of the geologic features~ the paint pots, geysers and Morning Glory Pool. We made it to Old Faithful with only about a 20 minute wait to see the eruption. It was pretty cool, but it wasn't as exciting as I had expected. We rode on to West Thumb and out of Yellowstone. We were really getting hungry (we hadn't eaten anything all day) and cranky and decided to stop at Flagg Ranch just outside Yellowstone for some food and gas. We rode down the Rockefeller Scenic Byway and into Grand Tetons National Park~ the mountains were so beautiful they almost seemed fake. We took the scenic road around Jenny Lake and stopped at the lake to take some photos and get a really good look at the mountains. The sky was looking pretty cloudy through the Grand Tetons thus we were riding through a stormy sky, but again we were lucky enough to not get wet. I had noticed that the soul of my boots had broken but was not quite broken in half yet so we decided that since we were stopping in Jackson, WY to take a picture of the antler arches anyway, we could look for new boots and have something to eat. We walked to the Harley dealer and picked up a t-shirt and stopped at a local pizza place for lunch. I finally found a pair of moccasins that would replace my boots and we were on our way. As we were coming into Idaho Falls, ID, the heat just hit us and the bike was getting overheated. We were getting pretty cranky so we found the local Harley dealer for a t-shirt and luckily our hotel was close by and it was nice. We took a nice leisurely walk along the river and took photos of Idaho Falls. We walked back to the hotel and did laundry and hung out for the rest of the evening.
DAY EIGHT ~ We slept in a little and got on the road at 7:00 ~ it was 48 degrees and really cold! Coming through Pocatello, ID we saw a Jack in the Box and had to stop for breakfast. The ride was all interstate. We got off the interstate to go through the Nebo Loop but when we got there, there was a detour~ we tried to follow the detour but it just took us back to the interstate so we decided to give up and get back on I-15. We stopped in Lehi, UT and had lunch at the Harvest Restaurant. When we first walked in we thought maybe we needed to be more dressed up but they said it was okay. We had a nice lunch and walked around the few shops for a little bit and were on our way again. We stopped at the Ogden Harley Dealer to get a t-shirt and then on to Nephi, UT. We encountered dump trucks throwing sand, traffic and construction. We saw llama on the side of the road and we rode passed some lavender fields~ you could smell them in the air. Today was a day of extremes ~we started the day at 48 degrees and by dinner time it was 98 degrees! We ate dinner and after dinner we just went back to our hotel and hung out.
DAY NINE ~ We started early again, and ate breakfast on the road at this little cafe in Bicknell, UT where they served World Famous Pickle and Pinto Bean Pie then we headed to Capitol Reef. We were the only ones on the road. We stopped at this one area and walked up into the rocks, there was such a sense of solitude. It was really beautiful in a way that is hard to describe. I couldn't stop taking pictures. We got back on the road and onto Hwy 12 (All American Highway). We rode through Grand Staircase Escalante and the Hogsback. As we got to the top of the Hogsback, we saw some bicyclists that had just made it up the hill and they asked if we would take a picture for them. The road was pretty steep and curvy for a long while~ some parts were pretty narrow with no guard railings. Another one of those no scenery and boring roads to ride (wink). We got to our hotel, which were little cabins and they were really nice ~ the back of the cabins overlooked the mountains. We rode up and down Main Street a few times to survey the area (not a very long main street maybe 5 blocks tops) and see what we could do. After the bike had a chance to cool down and we ate some food we rode toKodachrome Basin State Park. We walked the trail and took pictures and came back to our hotel. We hung around outside hoping to see a sunset but we didn't get much of one so we just watched TV and went to bed.
DAY TEN ~ We left around the same time as usual and caught the sunrise leading into Bryce Canyon. We were the only ones on the road and had the whole park to ourselves. The Natural Bridge was tits wiggle as John said~ this is his new phrase for something that is beyond beautiful. We headed through Cedar Breaks on our way to Zion and decided to stop and take pictures of wild flowers while we let the bike take a break and cool off. We came around a bend and went through Red Canyon. It was so beautiful and totally unexpected. It was like a big surprise. We went through a rock tunnel and there it was ~ this canyon of bright red rocks. Every bend and turn was like turning the page of a picture book and seeing a different landscape or rock formation. We arrived at Zion and it was crowded! Culture shock! After all this time having the roads to ourselves we were suddenly trapped in bumper to bumper cars. We found a parking spot and after telling many people we weren't leaving (they kept pulling up and wanting our space), we walked to the shuttle depot. We rode the shuttle to a few stops and got off a couple of times (Court of Patriarchs and Weeping Rock) we determined that the shuttle sucked and we would just get off the shuttle and ride the bike what part we could. We headed through Hwy 9 which is the road that goes east and west in Zion and leads through the Zion Tunnel, it was pretty cool. There are windows cut in the rock tunnel for ventilation and you can see the scenery through the holes. On our way to Kanab, UT we stopped at the Thunderbird Cafe in Mt. Carmel, UT and ate lunch at the counter. We arrived in Kanab and found our hotel~ a dump. However, there wasn't much else there so we just made the best of it. We walked around in the little gift shops and decided to eat. We went to this combination art gallery/restaurant and the food was nothing to brag about~ we called it the weed restaurant because that was pretty much what we ate. We took the bike out to see if we could find a gas station and found other restaurants. Since we were still hungry we stopped and shared a buffalo burger at Big Al's Drive-In. We went back to our dump and went to sleep with a plan to leave early in the morning.
DAY ELEVEN ~ We were on the road by 5:40 this morning and got some awesome pictures of the sunrise on the road ? you could see the silhouette of the Vermillion Cliffs with the sunrise on one side of the road and on the other side you could see the moon over the desert ~ it was really cool! It was so freezing cold going through the valley when we passed this little restaurant, Jacob Lake Inn, that said open John turned around and we went back to have breakfast and to warm up. We saw deer and a condor in the meadow. We got back on the road and headed into Grand Canyon park. We rode down the road and you couldn't see any of the canyon~ once in a while you could catch a small glimpse but John said we weren't allowed to look so we would get the full wow effect when we saw it at the end. It is so big and is really beautiful there are no words to describe it. We decided to walk out on Angel's Window~it wasreally high with only a little tiny fence~ I was terrified! But I made it to the end with John holding onto my hand and we took a picture as proof. We walked the other trail and saw the whole panoramic view~ Spectacular View! There was only one other person there so we had the place virtually to ourselves. It was really special to be able to share the experience without other tourists around. We rode down the other road and saw the other end and took pictures of wild flowers wherever we could. We decided to head to the lodge area and see the lodge and the canyon from that vantage point as well. We left the canyon and headed to Tuba City, AZ through Vermillion Cliff National Monument and the Navajo Indian Reservation~ it felt like we were in a furnace while riding through the desert! I was literally standing on the pegs at times, because my butt was so hot! This really big rock caught John's attention and he turned around to go back and get a better look. There was a professional photographer there scoping out the area and he offered to take our picture with my camera so we have a few pictures of us together on the bike. We crossed the Colorado River Bridge and we were on the reservation. We stopped at a little Indian trading post on the side of the road and talked to some of the Navajo women there. Further down the road, we stopped at a little store to get something to drink and talked to a fewNavajo while the bike cooled off. We arrived at our hotel on the reservation and it was really nice. The people were all very helpful. We walked across the parking lot and saw the Navajo museum and ate at the Hogan Restaurant next door to our hotel where they served traditional Navajo food. We headed back to our hotel and hung out for the rest of the evening.
DAY TWELVE ~ We left really early this morning to beat the heat through the desert. We got some great photos through Monument Valley. The sun was just coming up as we entered the valley so on our right you could see silhouettes of the monument formations with the sun behind them and on the left you could see the beautiful color of the red rock as the sun bathed them in light, with the moon lingering in the blue sky. After we passed the main body of formations we stopped and looked back and took some more photos, Including stopping in the middle of the road and taking the classic western shot. No one was on the road at all so we had it all to ourselves, which just added to the tranquility of the valley~ the only thing you could hear was the thunder of one lone Harley! We stopped and ate breakfast on the edge of the reservation in Bluff, UT at the Twin Rock Cafe. Just before we got intoMoab, UT we stopped at the Hole in the Rock and took the tour of this house that was carved out of the rock~ people lived there (creepy). It kind of reminded me of the House on the Rock in Wisconsin Dells, WI(another creepy place)! They had some animals there and a metal sculpture garden. We hung out, had something to drink and did a little souvenir shopping. When we got into Moab we found our hotel on the main strip with a lot of restaurants and other hotels around. After we settled in, we decided to walk downtown to check out the area. We went back to the hotel room and John went over to the Quick Lube and changed oil ~ $8 versus the $65 we paid in Billings! After he came back we just snuggled up for a bit and took a nap. We got up around5:00 and decided to ride into town and find some dinner. After dinner we went to Arches National Parkto see Delicate Arch at sunset. We saw Balanced Rock and a few other formations and then we decided to take the trail to the arch. The trail was supposed to be a moderate 3 mile round trip hike~ it was not a moderate trail! I just couldn't finish I got a bit more than half way and quit. We decided that I would head back to the parking lot while John hiked the rest of the way to see the arch and take photos. He made it to the arch but he ended up on the outer edge of the bowl and on a steep cliff (scaring a lady to tears). He got photos of the arch but missed the sunset by a few minutes. By the time we met back up at the parking lot it was dark and we decided to come back in the morning and see the rest of the park. We went back to the hotel and got back around 10:00. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't make it to the arch but John said he was glad I went back. He felt that it would have been too much for me to get up there. We apparently missed the trail and were actually trying to climb the rock!
DAY THIRTEEN ~ We slept in a little and got up at 5:45 and were on our way at 6:30. We headed back to Arches to see the rest of the park that we had missed because of our trail mishap. As we rode passed the entrance to Delicate Arch John declared it Bad Arch. So we bypassed the trail to the arch and kept on riding to Devil's Garden. There were a few people other than us hiking the trail but it wasn't crowded. This trail was an easy trail and we were able to see a lot of arches~ we took the trail to Landscape Arch and headed back. On our way back, on the trail, a lot more people had started to hike the trail and when we reached the parking lot there were tour buses parked there so we finished it just in time! We left Arches about 8:30 and got back on the road. We started on our planned route but when we got to Hwy 128 (the scenic route) we discovered that the bridge was out so we had to back track and take Hwy 191 to I-70 (the long way). We made our way to Fruita, CO where we would find the statue of Mike the Headless Chicken. We stopped, got gas and ate at Burger King and then headed through the Rocky Mountains~ crossing the Continental Divide a second time. We rode through The Rockies with a menacing storm overhead. We had started to see some storms on the weather channel across Colorado and Kansas, so this was probably one of them~ we were hoping it wouldn't dump on us! We got to our destination for the night, The Beddin' Down Bed & Breakfast and Horse Hotel, with the storm still hanging above us. Our room was REALLY nice with a very large, private bathroom. The house was on a ranch and was really beautiful. The owners were very nice. We walked around the property and took pictures of the cows and horses, then John went and took a nap in the chair in our room while I hung out with the owner's kids for a bit. We went into town for dinner at The Windmill Restaurant and by the time we came back the storm had pretty much passed us but it left some clouds for an amazing sunset.
DAY FOURTEEN ~ Today is the 4th of July! We left about 6:00 this morning and headed across Colorado and into Kansas. After trying to find a place to eat in several towns along the way we finally stopped for breakfast in Canon City, CO and John convinced me to eat at Denny's. We really didn't do much except get from point A to point B. We stopped in Lamar, CO and saw the Petrified Wood Gas Station. John started the slug bug game and we kept slugging each other when we saw slug bugs and slam vans. He had a few up on me for a while~ but after I caught up I noticed that at every area that had a lot of cars he was slowing down to look for VW's! We stopped in Pueblo, CO to find the Harley dealer but even though the sign didn't say itwas closed we waited and they never opened~ so we weren't able to get a t-shirt (which was one of the one's John had wanted). As we approached Kansas we saw a stockyard with acres of cows and just as we thought there were no more cows~ there were MORE cows! We stopped in Lakin, KS and ate lunch at the Sonic. When we arrived at our hotel it was not the best location~ a trailer park was behind it and the interstate on the other three sides~ we checked in and went to our room. I didn't have a great feeling when I was checking in and after we got to our room I decided that I just did not want to stay there. So I looked at the book in the room and found the number for the Holiday Inn Express and was able to get us a nicer room for only $5 more. The Holiday Inn Express was down the street in a business district. We found a Lone Star Restaurant and had some dinner and settled in for the night.
DAY FIFTEEN ~ We left at 6:15 and headed for Dodge City, KS. We stopped at the Pancake Inn in Dodge City and ate some breakfast and then headed over to Boot Hill to waste some time before the Harley dealer opened up. We walked around the old stores and the cemetery. We looked at the exhibits but not much was opened up yet. It was kind of like a ghost town and gave you an eerie feeling walking through some of the areas. We made our way to the Harley dealer for another t-shirt and then we were on our way to Emporia, KS. We made great time going across Kansas. We rode through Kinsley, KS looking for the exact middle of America sign and didn't find it so we turned around and rode through town again and found it on the other end (we passed it coming in and didn't see it). We were getting really hungry and we weren't finding any food in the small towns we passed through on the highway so we decided to get off the highway and ventured down a street into Newton, KS where we found a McDonald's. We made our way back to the highway and on our way again. We found our hotel in an area right next to the highway. We ventured out for dinner at Baum's and then back to our room for the night.
DAY SIXTEEN ~ We started our day at 5:45 and headed out across Kansas. We stopped at The Waffle House in Olathe, KS just off the interstate~ horrible place! We made great time going through Kansas City rush hour traffic. John was watching signs and making his way through the traffic like a hot knife through butter! We were in Missouri before we realized it and we made our way across Missouri in record time. We made a detour off the highway in Marceline, MO to stop at the Walt Disney Hometown Museum as an excuse to get off the bike and walk around for a little while. We filled up the tank and headed back to the highway. We found our hotel in Hannibal after getting turned around a few times (very confusing streets). We headed out to the Tom Sawyer Days events in downtown Hannibal and didn't find much worth sticking around for. We debated about whether we should just check out of our hotel and try and make it home this evening, but my butt was really sore and I just didn't want to be on the bike for another 6 or more hours today. We finally decided to just go back to the hotel and chill out and get a fresh start in the morning.
DAY SEVENTEEN ~ We started the day bright and early like always and headed home. We crossed into Illinois in no time, but since we had missed the Welcome to Missouri sign when we first came into Missouri we decided to drive across the bridge and get it when we crossed into Illinois. After driving across the bridge a couple of times we headed into Quincy, IL so I could get a picture of the water tower for my book. We found our way to Quincy without much problem and went downtown. We stopped at a park where some people were setting up for a farmer's market and asked for directions to the tower. We found the tower but were disappointed to find out that it did not have Quincy written on it~ wont work for my book! We tried to make our way back to the highway, but we just kept going around in circles~ we were lost. We rode down one street and there was a little old lady walking and I told John to stop and ask her directions~ but don't scare her. She wasn't much help but just around the corner we found a fire station and asked the firemen and found our way back to the highway. We were on our way again. Back in Illinois we stopped at a rest stop and hung out for a little bit and took some quick photos of flowers. The closer we got to home it seemed like the faster John wanted to ride~ he was in a race to get home! We arrived home at 12:15 and were cheerfully greeted by our daughter and faithful dog. We took a few pictures of the bike before we washed it to show the bugs and grime we had accumulated in our 17 day adventure!
castellanossr has been a member of our motorcycle community for 8 years, 177 days. castellanossr's home location for riding is Aurora, Illinois. Since becoming a member, castellanossr has racked up 25 road reputation points!
Sounds like a great trip. Your pictures are outstanding - really enjoyed reading through this.
Fri Oct 5, 2007 at 2:34 PM
That is one of the most detailed trips I have ever seen! It was like you had a journalist with you. I usually say I will keep notes on this trip, but then do nothing until I get home, and then try to put it in words. Sounds like an incredible trip. Next time you get into NE Utah, you have to go thru the Flaming Gorge area, you'll love it.
Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 10:07 AM
Congrats on the 10k mile marker on the bike for this year!!
Wed Oct 24, 2007 at 8:11 AM
I agree, the commentary made me feel like I was riding beside ya. The pictures were amazing, I love the shot and reflection in the helmet. Ride on!!!!
Mon Nov 12, 2007 at 8:11 PM
Outstnading commentary on what was obviously a great ride. The pics were great and I am now inspired to get to work on our trip for next year...the Pacific HIghway...the only question is ship my trusty steed or rent one?
Mon Apr 7, 2008 at 1:09 PM
Loved reading your story!! I cannot wait to do a trip like this!! I live in Indiana and feel your pain with the winter weather!! Lol!! Thanks so much for all the detail and places you visited along the way. The pics are awesome too!!
Fri Jul 11, 2008 at 10:38 AM
Great story and pics! This is the kind of ride all of us wish we could go on. Thanks for posting it.
Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 10:44 AM
Holly Crap!!! Did you guys not give a donation to the "Gods of Trouble on the Road"!!!! lol Sounds like you shouldn't have any problems for a long time. Must have a been a bad day for HOG Roadside, I have used them many times, and always found them to great. The trip sounded great, as I have traveled most of that route at one time or another. Route 66 is really so hard to find and/or follow anymore it isn't really fun for the most part. But riding some of those roads a while and finding the old motels, dead end roads etc. is kainda cool. I liked how they painted the Route 66 logo on those old roads. Did you see any of those?
Fri Aug 1, 2008 at 11:10 AM
Wow Awesome Trip.......... I got some advice from you back before we went on our trip - it was our first long trip and we went in June/July hope you take a look. We are hooked , hope to go again next year. If you are ever in Northwest Arkansas let us know!!1
Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 2:58 PM
Awsome story, I love the pictures. I would buy a honda and avoid all the break downs.
Mon Dec 1, 2008 at 12:32 PM
I really enjoyed your story. Have been to Sturgis, Deasdwood, Devils Tower. You guys make me want to take your trip and check it out..Good Riding To You ..Tim
Thu Mar 26, 2009 at 7:08 AM
Awesome story and awesome pictures. Thanks for posting this.
Fri May 22, 2009 at 9:05 PM
Reading your post of these trips is what helped me write up mine like you did. I read the 07 trip post and the 08 and started typing. I had the pictures and inserted some for each day of the trip. A breakdown of a trip backed up with pictures from each day makes GREAT reading.
Keep us up to date.
Sun Jun 7, 2009 at 7:37 PM
Wow!! Your page is very inspiring. Keep the adventures coming.
Wed Mar 24, 2010 at 6:03 PM
love the pics and stories also how many times have cyclists gotten off track only to find something unexpectedly wonderful.my fav is the buffalos down the middle of the road. we have ginea fowl down the road that do the same, you just have to laugh. seeing as you have so much experience riding in wet weather, any recommendations on apropriate gear......Ride On
Sat Mar 27, 2010 at 12:34 PM
I cannot wait for you to make this trip and give us the details and pictures. Just to read a detailed ride report would be awesome. That is what makes the rest of us ache to ride!!!!!
Wed Jun 23, 2010 at 12:01 PM
Well that was a good trip til the accident. I enjoyed the story. Sorry about the mishap and I am glad ya'll will continue to ride when mended. Live life today and enjoy what you will cause tommorow may not come!
Fri Aug 20, 2010 at 10:58 AM
Great ride/pics/story... Thank you... Dude
Sun Sep 12, 2010 at 8:52 PM
I really enjoyed reading about your adventures. I am ready to get on our bike and take another trip. Thanks for sharing your stories....very inspiring!!
Wed Mar 9, 2011 at 3:55 PM
WOW!!! Great trip with wonderful story. I am truly inspired to ride more and experience the beauty of what motorcycle touring is all about.
Sat Oct 15, 2011 at 6:49 AM