Labor Day 2003
Excuses, excuses, excuses!
We didn't get to Cement City MI today like we meant to. Instead we're in Benton Harbor MI, maybe 100 miles away.
Today we rode & drove only 200 miles in 8.5 hours (7 or so if you take out our break times).
29 mph sounds about right for our average speed.
We left Milwaukee about noon. I wasn't all that eager to leave. The visit at TJ & Dennis' had been so nice, and the Weather Channel said we'd ride into rain as soon as we left.
We did, and the overcast kept the day from heating up, so it was cool to chilly. Bless H-D for my rainsuit! It does some to keep the heat in, but it keeps the wet out very well!
We drove to & thru Chicago, and I discovered that Chicago merges into Gary IN without any not-city between!
Then we rode & drove on to Benton Harbor MI, where we have a nice room with internet connection and wireless connection too! Splendid!
So where did all the time go? What caused all the slow riding & driving?
Times waiting to pay tolls; times waiting for "road work" we never saw (on Labor Day?); times waiting for car drivers to finish their congregating; times waiting for police to unsnarl traffic "caused" by an accident (a truck drove through thr concrete center divider). Poking through Chicago anywhere between 10 mph & 70 mph & terrifying at any speed. (Car drivers may be more frightening there than in L.A. but in any case they frighten in different ways.)
But you know what? Wearying as the slow travelling was, scary as the city traffic was, it was a great day.
We visited with TJ & Dennis some more before we left. The rain never was as bad as it might have been, more dreary than serious. At a Wendy's near Gary, we met a guy who had an Edge with a SprintPCS attachment like mine, and helped him out with several tips. A guy at a gas station gave me a "Milwaukee" attachment for my jacket or vest.
And I rode my Harley, often near one or more other Harley riders. I *love* the sound of Harleys. I love Harley-ing even in the cool to chilly rain. See me beam?
What a pleasant day! What a sweet day!
We woke to a sky with a light overcast that the sun more or less promised to burn off soon. It did.
We'd learned the night before that Lindy's sisters - our visit goal today - wouldn't be available until late afternoon, so we didn't need to hurry away.
Instead we dawdled and internetted and left before noon. Then we rode through Kalamazoo MI (yes it does exist) and Battle Creek MI (the Cereal Capitol of the World) to Jackson MI (the birthplace of the Republican Party).
I confess: I did a double-take when I saw that. Then I remembered they were different then. They stood *for* something, and attracted one of my heroes, Abraham Lincoln.
We're staying in Jackson tonight. Cement City has a Harley dealership - really! Town & Country H-D - but no motel, and no internet connection.
The ride was wonderful, mainly through woods, farmlands, small towns, & small cities.
Light traffic but fast! MI posts speed limits as 55, 65, 70 but maybe they mean minimum? Either that or Lindy and I were the only ones observing them today.
We stopped between Kalamazoo & Battle Creek for a light breakfast, and Lindy had a grilled cinnamon roll. Ever had one? Take a regular cinnamon roll and slice it in two parallel to the bottom, butter it, then grill it. Yum!
The visit, although brief, was fun and surprising. Griff, Lindy's nephew, toddled when we last saw him; he's a college sophomore. Caitlan was a baby; she's a high school junior. Kelsey wasn't yet, and she's running for vice president of her eighth grade (we think).
May yours have been as sweet.
The sun played peek-a-boo with us all day!
Is that called scattered sunshine?
Yes, much of the country was dry today, despite what the Weather Channel showed as its expectation for our route. Whew!
The clouds patched blue sky when we left this morning, but they began to collect into an overcast with holes as we rode out into the day. Soon the overcast glowered, dark grey and heavy. After a while longer, it gloomed threats at us, except when we darted through sunlight. Eventually it loomed and lowered but still didn't pour.
As I rode past the Pittsburgh PA airport trying to find our motel, the clouds finally spattered at me. That was it for the rain today. Thank you rain gods!
Pretty country! We rode south out of MI into OH near Toledo, then across the northern edge of OH almost to Cleveland, except we turned southeast to bypass Youngstown and enter PA on our way to Pittsburgh.
OH was mostly flat, although it rolled enough to collect water in small ponds, large ponds, and little lakes that we rode past. It rolled enough that for several miles the interstate stayed at the level of the treetops instead of the tree roots. OH had woods and farmlands and small towns in sight of the interstate but without connections. The farms grew lots of corn, and lots of crops I didn't recognize.
PA suddenly had hills, real hills, steeply up and down, with lots of difference between down and up - hundreds & hundreds of feet! The hillsides were wooded and maybe forested. Lordy! Is this what Lee had to march an army through? No wonder he lost at Gettysburg!
But PA also had farmlands and more corn.
We rode most of the day on limited access toll roads, I 80 then I 76. The lady at the toll booth said "Oh my! Lookit that ding in your gas tank! Did that happen on this trip? Were you hurt? Oh, I'm so sorry! Ride safely, y'hear? Watch out for the grease on the road as you leave here."
I talked to a couple of other H-D riders who were on their way home from Milwaukee. They laughed that I was on my way to L.A. by way of Richmond VA. "Helluva detour," one commented. I wished them dry riding today, and they rolled their eyes before they wished me the same.
Asked another if he'd been to Milwaukee. "No, was it as good a party as I read?" he asked. Better, I guaranteed him. He winced. "Knew I shoulda gone!" he complained. I agreed.
So we're here for the night and hoping for as good weather and traffic tomorrow.
Traffic? I tried & tried to find a way to Richmond that avoided WDC. Sigh! Must be part of the way we're punishing the South. Y'cain't get to Richmond except through WDC!
Okay, we'll hope for good weather then.
Almost to Richmond, probably an hour from my folks' house.
Excuse? Riding the interstate in the dark with the road still wet from some earlier rain, and semis hurtling past on both sides of us. Ahead, finding our way through Richmond freeways, roads, & streets in the dark. Whee! I decided against all that and Lindy agreed with me.
The ride here was fun except maybe for WDC.
I set out from our Pittsburgh motel, sure I could follow the instructions. Well, I did, right to the West Virginia state line. Oops!
So we turned around and rode back to Pittsburgh, through Pittsburgh, and eventually onto the PA Turnpike which took us most of the way to the MD state line.
Okay. Nutha confession. I'd dreaded the PA highways all the way there. 17 years ago they were horrible! This trip they were fine with 2 exceptions, both only a couple of miles long. Yea PA!
That let me notice the wonderful hills and woods or forest all along our route! How green! How dark! How apt for stories! We shall see.
More hills and trees in MD, but somehow tamer, almost cultivated or maybe civilized.
Oh! One wonderful stretch reminded me of motorcycling in CO: a rock wall near the right side of the road, tree tops along the left, woods & pastures far below farther out to the left. Wonderful!
Out of MD and into the WDC area. Wow! Either it's changed or I have. I remember the drivers there as mean and nasty. Not this trip: hurried, harried, and without any consideration for anyone else. Pretty much like L.A. except faster and dartier. Not mean, just thoughtless.
Then we started south on the interstate to Richmond VA, only 91 miles away. Hm. Wet road. Three lanes of cars, SUVs, and semis racing each other & us. Darkness descending.
Occasional breaks in the tension, er, traffic, let me see fog forming in the trees along the road. Oh yes! This is Quantico, where we train Marines and spooks! The fog and trees seemed perfectly appropriate for both, eerie and beautiful.
But when Lindy signalled for an exit, I felt a huge relief, and when I followed her to a coffee shop and turned off the Harley, my hands ached from gripping the handlebar so tightly.
Tomorrow we'll drive to Richmond and my folks.
Sorry if I left you dangling.
Yes, we made it to Richmond this morning, reasonably early.
We've had good & interesting visits here with my father, my mother, & my brother. They admired my H-D, even with the dinged gas tank & scraped engine. They admired Lindy more for putting up with me & nurturing me.
Tomorrow we press on.
This morning we left my folks' house in Richmond to drive most of the way to my sister's in Knoxville TN.
We drove 100+ miles in pretty, wooded country, & stopped in Staunton VA for a bite & gasoline. Oh & Lindy had felt some chatter in her steering, so she checked the pressure in her tires.
Rats! Lindy's right front (not right rear) tire was low & getting lower.
The AAA driver took us to WalMart for new tire & mount (tire stores had already closed). The tread was separating from the case!
Took us a while waiting but eventually Lindy had a new tire & we were ready to go again.
We took the next 200+ mjles as lickety-split as we could to reach Bristol & follow excellent directions to the wrong motel. Oops. But they gave us not-so-excellent directions to the right motel. Lindy got us here anyway. Whew!
Oh wait! Those 200+ miles we lickety-splitted took us over the Smoky Mountains! If you haven't seen them, please go to the internet & Google to see them. Wow!
Another oh! Lindy's tires & steering didn't bother her any more.
And a third oh! That road over the mountains is a runway for low-flying semis! I'm not sure they use air traffic controllers!
We woke a little later than we'd meant to and moved a little slower getting the day started for ourselves. OTOH, we had our own coffee to start the day!
Yes, while we waited for the car and its tire yesterday, Lindy found a little coffee maker, and this morning I brewed Yuban coffee with cinnamon in it! Yea!
Then we rode and drove a quick 100 mile trip - from Bristol to Knoxville - and right to my little sister's house. (Yea MapQuest!)
OBTW, I must make a correction. The mountains we ran alongside, not across, yesterday were the Appalachians, not the Great Smokies.
We had a great, short visit with my little sister & her family - what a lively bunch - and a fabulous meal!
Sometime after we ate and visited, we excused ourselves long enough to check-in to our motel. Urk. Lindy can't connect to the internet. Poop!
Oh well. We went back to my little sister's for more visit with her & her family. She graciously allowed us to use her phone line to connect to the internet so each of us could get his or her "work" done while the other visited. Bless her!
Cool day, huh? Beautiful ride, wonderful visits with some fun people, and now for some rest.
Yes, we made it to Little Rock AR today, travelling at the speed limit or near it, and taking the route in roughly 75-mile chunks. They added up to 500+ miles in one day.
I think my nose sunburned, and I know another part of me complained woefully until it numbed.
The road ran through beautiful country! The first 60 miles or so from Knoxville still ran through mountains, but after that the road ran through rolling farmlands and through forests. (I'm guessing about the forests. The center divider was filled with a long long long woods, and another woods ran along the right shoulder. I really couldn't see if it ran very deep.)
At Memphis we crossed the Mississippi River. Wow! It was blocks wide at that point and busy with traffic - boats & barges.
On the other side, in Arkansas, the land was flatter. Trees bordered farms. Many farms grew some crop that smelled sweet and rich. Grand ride!
Semis flew along the road too, sometimes as slow as the speed limit, occasionally slower, but usually neither.
As I waited for Lindy to back out in Knoxville so we could start our trek, a Great Dane trotted up and looked me and the Harley over. We were interesting enough for about 15 seconds of perusal - not often that a dog looks me over from practically eye-level! - then the beast trotted over to its partner, who had watched the whole process dis-Dane-fully, and they went on about their business. They sure move lightly despite being such huge critters!
The weather was all parts of autumn. It started out so cool that I wore my chaps and vest and leather shirt over my jeans and long-sleeved knit-cotton shirt. Eventually it warmed up enough that I shed all the extra layers, then as the sun set and twilight cooled I put the vest back on .
The sky stayed lightly overcast - puffs and wisps of white - most of the day. It cleared for a while in the early afternoon, then resumed the wispy stuff for sunset. Beautiful!
...the first part. The ride!
We left Little Rock fairly early - at least for us on this trip.
We rode right at the speed limit - mostly - and oddly enough cars passed us but semis didn't. Did the rules change while we slept?
We rode through rolling country - think of ocean swells, not waves - with woods around us most of the time. Pines I identified among the trees; they predominated, I think. There were others, leafy trees, but I didn't know them.
We rode past farms and small towns, through Texarkana and into Texas.
It had to have been psychological, but I swear the land flattened and the heat jumped as we crossed the state line!
Still farm country, but the farms made Arkansas' seem lush. Still trees along the road and bordering the farms, but spare and far apart - loners, not crowd-lovers. Woods occasionally, or more accurately stands of spidery thin but tall trees.
Somehow the towns are bigger, more boisterous, more commercially successful I suspect.
And hot. Gracious! Even one of the air conditioned food places where we stopped was hot!
Oh, and silly me, I knew I didn't need any sunscreen today so my face now matches my nose from yesterday. Not bad and not painful, but noticeable. I look like a leathery English version of the me who started the trip.
Eventually we rode across the lake (I don't know its name) into Dallas and checked into our motel here. Oh my! A nice one! We were all set by 1500 and won't be meeting my friend and declared cousin until 1900!
What a lovely day!
First, I apologize. I really do know how to spell Dallas TX without help, & it ain't Dallus T.
That done, let me confess I may be a little drunk. I had 2 margaritas tonight, enjoyed every bit of both of them, but it's been a long while since I drank two margaritas in one evening.
Tonight I met my declared cousin for the first time, and we spent three wonderful hours getting acquainted, swapping yarns, and just having a good time! We worked together for a while by phone, and in the process discovered we both had family in Crowley LA.
Well, Crowley ain't big enough to have folks in it that ain't related, so we knew we must be cousins. We tried & tried to find the link, and never did. We're cousins anyway, and the yarns we swapped tonight convinced us more than ever that we're related.
But she'd *never* ride a Harley across country. (She does ride a little Honda scooter around her neighborhood.)
Ah, we had a wonderful time, and we would have without the margaritas, but they helped make the evening special.
Life is sweet, you know?
I had forgotten heat. Not temperature, heat. It saps water & energy from you surreptitiously while you ride or drive or work. When you stop, you sag, surprising yourself. Gracious! Mercy!
Heat accompanied us from Dallas, across the Texas hill country (a sign welcomed us to it, that's how I know), and into Abilene. This is not the storied railhead in KS but its rowdy namesake in TX. Home of Abilene Christian University, yes, but rowdy anyway. At least the big boys in Perryton TX used to talk enviously or optimistically about the fine time to be had anonymously if they could just get to Abilene! (Perryton was a *little* town in the panhandle where no one could do anything anonymously.)
We rode 55 miles around 2/3 of DFW - Dallas-Fort Worth. (When I lived in Perryton, people could still drive to either Dallas or Fort Worth.) Then we emerged from city into slowly rolling grasslands that eventually yielded hills & ridges. And trees! I had forgotten trees in TX too!
Just 200 miles today. We basked in memories of last evening and no-need-to-hurry nearly all morning, then rode & drove to Abilene. Haven't heard of anything rowdy yet, so maybe the big boys just hoped.
Dawn-time in Abilene brought an overcast-black sky. The Weather Channel warned of rain & thunderstorms coming in from the direction we meant to travel.
However, an hour later I walked over to the office to get us free coffee under a clear sky. Could the WC have been wrong? I hoped.
By the time we packed to leave, dark grey and purple clouds were working up a new overcast. Sigh.
So we tucked up our daring and ran into the wind as the clouds darkened and collected and streamed toward us. I stubbornly put off putting on my rain suit. If it rained, I would.
Didn't. The clouds spattered on me twice, just enough to dampen my shirt and jeans, just enough that riding at 70 mph dried me as soon as the spattering stopped. Actually kinda fun.
Oh! BTW! Sprinkles did the same yesterday out of a clear sky, four times - well, once it actually rained for about a minute - just enough to dampen my clothes, just enough for the evaporation to cool me as the sun and wind dried my clothes. Nice.
We rode through many landscapes today: the end of the hill country, desert red dirt with tall brush & short trees, yellow-brown dirt with scrub & brush waist- to head-high, green farmlands with some low crop planted in curving rows, a corn farm, cotton (I think), newly tilled soil, stunted trees in a spare forest?
We saw signs for at least half a dozen cotton gins, and a delinter.
And over and over, oil pumps! Some grasshopper heads bobbed, others stood still.
I saw a big man on a big working horse by the short trees & tall brush. I waved, he raised a hand in acknowledgement.
We saw almost no traffic after we left I 20 in Big Spring TX. We took US 87 to Lamesa TX, then took US 180 to Hobbs NM. About 200 miles again.
We had a nice breakfast in a nice little cafe disguised as a windblasted cinderblock building that might sell gasoline.
Off the Interstate, on the US highways, 2 semis passed us, we passed 3 pickups; opposing traffic was as light. No tourists except us travelled the apparently back roads.
Oh! We paid $1.50/gal for gasoline! oil country?
This was a nice restful ride, and by stopping as soon as we crossed into the Mountain Time zome, we got the whole afternoon to relax. Maybe we'll have another sitdown supper together tonight!
Happies to you!
Still in Hobbs.
Once upon a time I lived in New Mexico (Clovis, Albuquerque, Las Cruces) and loved Mexican food here. When I moved to Los Angeles, I mocked Mexican food there as mild, mild, mild. Even the *hot* food is mild.
27 years later in Hobbs NM this evening, I scooped up a chip-load of chile salsa. Oh my goodness! All my training has left me! Oh poor milded tongue! Oh gracious!
Yes, the mockery came around and bit me. Sigh. So good, the salsa was, so good, but so hot!
Oh, which brings me around to another correction: I wrote about the heat accompanying us. My declared cousin chid me that I'd *really* forgotten heat. What we rode through, she said, wasn't heat at all but the trailing edge of heat.
Laughs to you,
Our route today took us from Hobbs to Artesia to Cloudcroft to Sunspot to Alamogordo, all in NM.
What a beatiful ride!
Ah! The road from Hobbs! US 180 to NM 529 to US 82, each two lanes wide, one lane going each way, no divider and no shoulder. The roads ran through desert, farmland (I think), ranchland, and oil land.
In Artesia, Lindy said "This country is so pretty I could live here if it wouldn't kill me." Imagine that! About mostly desert country, her least favorite! (It'd kill her because she's always nearly dehydrated, and deserts take her over the line. We learned the hard way.)
The road from Artesia curved & snaked gently across lush desert, yes, lush desert - too green for the desert I remember, the succulents too close together and the brush too.
And then we entered the Sacramento Mountains! Oh yes! From our entry into their foothills all the way until our ride down their canyon exit to the plains of Alamogordo, the speed limits dropped to 55, to 45, to 35, even to 25 in places. Why? (See me beam.) The road curls, twists, climbs, esses, drops, sweeps, tightens up, between, and down foothills, mountains, and a canyon! Pure joy to some motorcyclists, pure hell to others. Count me among the first group. You may have felt me grinning that happily no matter how seriously my eyes studied the road and glanced at the country beside it! Beautiful! Both! That big ole Harley leaned way left then way right as I took it through the curves as fast as the posted speeds allowed, and a few times a little faster, but not much!
I'd second Lindy's remark about Artesia, and even more about Cloudcroft, if we could support ourselves here. Oh my! So pretty! So wonderful to ride their roads. And so not in need of two more techies!
Besides we're not winter folks any more than we're desert folks or country folks. Nope, we're urban and techies. L.A. we're on the way.
But we did take the road from Cloudcroft to Sunspot and back! My! More grinning and clenching my teeth through turns that tightened or banked wrong! That road to Sunspot has 25 and 30 mph limits because it twists up and down and up some more til it reaches 9300 ft high at Sacramento Peak. (Yes, in the Sacramento Mountains - I didn't do it.) That's where we have the National Solar Observatory. If you don't know about it Google for it on the internet and learn!
Some of the best solar observations in the world are done there, maybe most of the solar observation in the world is done there (I dunno about the latter).
The tower telescope! Wow! Makes me proud and happy and admiring that someone came up with the idea, that engineers showed him how to make it, and that we built it, and that it does such marvelous work! Cheers!
Then finally the canyon ride down out of the Sacramentos! Whee! 35, 45, & finally 50 mph curves, esses, twists, and horseshoes!
I'm grinning about those roads all over again!
Happies, oh happies!
We're out of SprintPCS service again, this time in Springerville AZ, about 14 miles into AZ and about midway up its eastern border.
We rode & drove here (about 300 miles) since about noon today in Alamogordo NM. We had a splendid visit there with my soldier son. We could have stayed longer but he had to go to work and would have been at work or asleep most of the time we would be up. He works a shift as strange as mine in L.A. but longer. So glad we got there for one of his days off!
We rode & drove north from Alamogordo to Carrizozo and stopped for a lunchlet. OMG, I had forgotten man~ana ways! Took half an hour to prepare a chile-smothered cheeseburger, maybe because it's world famous. Or maybe it's world famous because they take half an hour to prepare it. Yes, absolutely, next time you're in Carrizozo stop for one of their world famous chile-smothered cheeseburgers! Lindy & I both loved it!
On the way to Carrizozo through NM desert - but green! - we passed two abandoned trains. (They weren't moving and looked like they hadn't in a while; no crew was visible in the cab of the locomotive; they were just sitting still, miles from anywhere but Alamogordo and Carrizozo. Hence, I concluded abandoned.) We also saw one rollicking along.
Yes the NM desert was green. Grasses ranged from green through yellow to brown, and covered a lot of the pale tan sandy earth. Brush did the same, and clumped together closely; when I knew it last, I found some here, some there, but none close together. Heck, I even saw wildflowers!
We also saw from the highway the Valley of Fires, a tumble of grey and black earth and rock that looked volcanic from far away.
The Sacramento Mountains shaped our eastern horizon, and the Caballo Mountains our western for that leg of today's ride and drive.
After our world famous chile-smothered cheeseburger, we took a highway west to I 25, which we took briefly to Socorro. On the way along the northern end of Holloman AF Base and White Sands Missile Range (and north of Trinity Site where we exploded the first atomic bomb), we passed through the northern end of the Valley of Fires. Aha! Not volcanic at all, but petroleum laden! Really! Black lumpish, clumpish rock and earth that looks grey when sunlight catches it at the correct angle. Strange place!
From Socorro we rode & drove west on US 60 - well, south, then west, then curving and turning and veering but still bearing west - slowly upwards from the desert into the high plains. We rode & drove around what seemed to be hills from our perspective near them, but surely must've been some of the mountains that made our western horizon as we rode from Alamogordo to Socorro!
In the high plains we saw ranches with cows and horses. The cows grazed far apart from each other; otherwise they'd've had to share the same grass. The horses clustered near a corral, which had a pump that occasionally splashed more water into a trough.
We also rode & drove past the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a lonesome collection of 10-m dishes and maybe a 30-m dish far from any interference from cities or towns.
The high plains gave way to more and closer hills-that-must've-been-mountains until suddenly and surprisingly we crossed the Continental Divide! What? At 7400 feet? Yep! So the sign said! Near Pie Town, NM.
Oddly it seemed that we still climbed. Perhaps that was a trick of perspective. We did keep riding and driving in swoops and swerves around more and closer hills-that-must've-been-mountains past Datil and into Quemado. (It means burned.)
Bless Quemado! It had an open gasoline station and an open cafe late Sunday evening. Both vehicles were close to empty, although neither was as nearly empty as its operator feared. Whew!
Oh! What amazingly dandy weather we had! I rode in T-shirt and jeans, boots and gloves (but not gauntlets) from Alamogordo to blessed Quemado, then put on my leather shirt for the rest of the ride.
So after the operators shared a BLT, we rode & drove toward the setting sun, which coyly ducked behind then peeked out from and ducked again behind a wide bank of clouds. Eventually the sun sank low enough to underlight those clouds, yellow-orange, then orange, then brown. Yes, brown! Oddest sunset I've ever seen.
On and on we hurried into the twilight, admiring the high plains and hills, the trees and brush and even standing water in the gathering darkness. There! We crossed the state line into Arizona, and 14 miles later found a nice and inexpensive little motel in the little town of Springerville. Just as the darkness turned chilly!
What a gorgeous ride! What fun! What an adventure watching the gas gauge needles sink and finding only closed or abandoned gasoline stations! What a fine, fun day!
I think I have discovered the source of gravity: Arizona sucks. No wonder the Grand Canyon is here!
At least Arizona is responsible for the first grave moods and responses Lindy & I have had on this trip. While we looked for a motel, Lindy expressed her desire to just drive to the GC and drive in.
Okay, okay. You'll probably insist that I be a little more fair than that.
We woke early up in a fine room in a lovely motel in a dandy little town, Springerville. We couldn't get the water hot in the shower, but there are worse fates. Boy, are there!
We rode over and had a good breakfastlet at McDonald's, then rode & drove out onto a wonderful 2-lane US 180. It took us through grassy desert with round close-to-the-ground trees, some human-high, a few horse-mounted-human high. (T-shirt weather already, BTW.) US 180 carried us through St. Johns, a quiet little town with almost no traffic while we went through it.
After St. Johns, US 180 ran through more desert-y desert. Twice roadside signs warned of "blowing dust areas". Fortunately the dust didn't blow while we rode & drove through.
Then we got to Holbrook. Outside town, little icons announced dozens of food places. I didn't find them. I found two places with huge "Restaurant" signs; both were closed. I found gas stations with brands like Watermelon, Peter's, Sunsigns. Right. Finally I found a Union 76; we pulled in, and an attendant came running out to tell Lindy she had to park in the sun unless she bought gasoline. Yes, even if she bought oil. Yes, even if no one else pulled in to buy his damned gasoline.
I left. Lindy meant to, but she got caught by car drivers drifting down the street first one way then the other, just fast enough that you didn't dare throw yourself before them, but so slow you could hardly resist.
How slow are Holbrook drivers? When we did find a McDonald's, we watched a driver take 6 minutes to pull forward into a parking place. He was driving an American car, but still!
I'm glad I didn't get to watch him back out!
I might have found them amusing or enjoyable if my engine hadn't balked and stalled and refused to run after I sat and sat and sat and sat waiting for Lindy to find a break in traffic. After I fiddled with it in the sun for 30 minutes or so, the engine ran fine, but by then I hated Holbrook and hated Holbrook drivers in particular and almost couldn't remember how much I'd enjoyed Springerville and the ride to Holbrook.
What a rotten, miserable, nasty little town!
I was so mad about it that I don't even remember the countryside between it and Winslow.
But I knew I ought to stop and cool down. Ha ha ha ha ha! I pulled off at an exit with icons for food places. Don't trust those in AZ! Shees! There was a food place, but I couldn't find the way in, except to the servicing area for semis. I left and got back on I 40, and stayed there until Flagstaff.
Sigh. A map we had showed that the business route for I 40 wrapped itself around Flagstaff, but would take us to some nice-but-inexpensive motels. It did wrap itself around Flagstaff, and eventually we found the address we looked for. A huge sign announced the motel we'd picked as a first guess, and when we turned into that entry, it led us to the gated grounds of the Institute of Religion for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Huh! It didn't seem a likely place to put up the likes of me & Lindy for the night. So we drove out past the huge sign that announced the motel, and tried a block farther down the street. Aha! We entered an alley-lane-driveway marked Exit Only for the motel and found our way around to the Lobby.
Gracious! They wanted twice their advertised price. I think I said a bad word out loud. We left.
Six blocks or so back up the street we found our guess for a second choice. Its entry was by the sign for the motel. They rented us a room for their advertised price. So far so good. I guess I'm still waiting for what further nastiness AZ has in store for us.
We've thought about supper twice, but neither of us is ready to risk it.
Okay, okay. Maybe it wasn't entirely AZ, and surely not all of AZ. I'd go back to Springerville in a flash, but I'd sure map some other way out of there!
Bleah on Flafstaff. Bleah on Winslow. Multiple bleah on Holbrook. May it shrivel to a "blowing dust area" and may its drivers suddenly find themselves driving in NYC. May that gas station attendant find himself needing something while afoot in the Sahara.
Hope your day was *lots* happier,
The Grand Canyon
Oh wow! Oh wow! Oh wow!
Yes, three times Lindy asked me "What do you think?" and I could only inarticulate. Oh wow!
But I've jumped ahead, way ahead.
After yesterday, we let ourselves sleep in until nearly 0800, then made coffee and played with our computers (emails & such). Lindy tinkered with her website. We watched a country music station for a while (remember, I'm a fan, mostly).
But eventually we left to go visit the Grand Canyon, which I'd never seen but Lindy had.
We took the motorcycle; Lindy rode behind me. I took the wrong turn and we saw the Lowell Observatory! Wow! What a nice wrong turn!
Then we rode from the edge of downtown Flagstaff out through some very nice (swank?) suburbs out into a pine and spruce forest that had at least two kinds of brambles. (I didn't know either by name.) Some of the pines were Ponderosas, and I'm pretty sure some of the spruce were blue.
After about 60 miles of that, we rode out onto desert tabletop and gratefully stopped at a restaurant. Poor Lindy! She hadn't ridden pillion for longer than we've been gone. 60 miles is a long first ride, and I didn't see a place even for me to pull over safely and let her stand and walk.
We rode back into the forest or one like it to get to the entrance, where we paid our $20 toll and rode in.
I love forests, and especially pine and spruce forests, so I was thrilled and delighted already. Then we caught glimpses of the canyon.
That wasn't exactly what I said. Actually it surprised a bad word from me, but in admiration. Lindy laughed.
We pulled over into a parking area, parked, then walked maybe half a mile along the rim walk. Oh oh oh!
If you haven't been to the Grand Canyon, go.
Those first scenes and panoramas were worth the $20. Heck, they may have been worth riding 7100 miles on a motorcycle to see them!
Well, we could have ridden west about 25 miles then back then east about 30 miles. We could have, but we didn't have a lot of day left. The desert gets cold quickly after sunset.
Okay, I elected to ride east only. Good choice. At least half of it was under construction, and at least half of that was gravel road. Gravel is tricky when the motorcycle only carries one, but it's really twitchy with two aboard!
Even so, we rode and stopped for a viewpoint, rode some more and stopped for another. We twitchied a while, then took an offroad to a lookout point.
Then the gods got mean. They gave us twenty cars to travel with, and later a road crew who had to stop us a while. (I shut off my engine until the car in front of me lurched forward in anticipation.) More gravel followed, this time with company. Yuck. Finally we came to a Y.
To the left we could have gone to the East Rim lookout. I wanted to, but the sun had lowered in the sky while we toyed with gravel and cars. Bad words! So we took the right toward the exit.
We rode through forest for a while, the Kaibab National Forest - probably what we'd ridden through earlier too.
Gracious! Then out of the forest we rode into a magnificently curling and twisty road down mountainsides onto the high plains and into Big Wind! Oh yes, wind whipping down off the mountains (a 4000 foot drop peak to base) to the right of us.
The wind so distracted me that I almost missed how majestic those mountains were! Worse! It so distracted me I almost missed glimpses (all I could spare) of the Painted Desert. Oh my! Oh wow! Oh how glad I am I spared those glimpses! What beautiful country! Even after the Grand Canyon, even seeing it in glimpses, even focused on the wind, what a beautiful desert and canyon!
Running down the road, trailed by twenty or more cars still, we passed several rest areas where Navaho marketed jewelry and trinkets, curios and souvenirs. (The highway runs in or near the Navaho nation.) Finally we saw a restaurant at the roadside and stopped for supper and a break from the wind.
After supper, as the sun set and the sky darkened, we raced the last 40 miles to Flagstaff. At one place the road crossed a mountain ridge. Yikes! Cold! Then we dropped slowly into town, and slowed down to street speeds. We found our way back to our motel, and here we are.
What a magnificent day! What scenes and views! What a splendid way to nearly end our trip!
No, nuthin for you to worry about. We've decided to press home tomorrow. We're ready for our own neighborhood, apartment, and bed.
But what a splendid day!
...since 1935 - or that was when I first looked at a clock. We started the air conditioner, half-unpacked the car, then sat nearly numb in front of the telly. 485 miles today!
See us beam? Tiredly, but beam we do!
Flagstaff AZ to Williams AZ to Kingman AZ to Needles CA to Barstow CA to home, 485 miles. One day.
How much did we want to go home? We both woke at 0630, as if an alarm had rung. We grinned at each other and I started the coffee brewing. While it perked, we packed what we could, then sat back and grinned at each other again as it burbled its last gasping noises then trickled quietly into the pot.
I made "12 cups" which translates to about 4 mugs in the real world. Most mornings we'd've finished all 4 before we started on the days visits or travels. Yesterday, by the time we each finished one mug, we were showered & dressed, and almost finished packing. I poured out half the coffee I'd made and we didn't even consider it a waste.
We had to wait for the coffee pot to cool before I could package it all up, so I charged one last PDA and Lindy began packing her car.
Finally we rode & drove away from Flagstaff!
Well, actually toward home.
We rode & drove through more of Kaibab - more pines and spruces and brambles - as far as Williams, and a little farther I think.
We swooped out of the forest and mountains and into between high plains ranches for a few miles, then swept into a lush desert with a hard cool wind that tried to make us go back or at leat leave more slowly.
Nunh-unh! We rode through that desert at the speed limit despite the wind! So there!
The wind got back at us though, tugging and pulling at my helmet so hard that it almost tore off the little bill attachment. At Kingman I removed the bill and we had coffee.
While we did, the power went out for the restaurant, which I understood as another attempt to slow us. We found a cashier who knew the price of two coffees with tax though, and Lindy paid her with exact change. So there again!
After Kingman, the desert changed from lush (mostly green from plants close together in red or brown dirt) to desicated (mostly brown plants scattered widely over powdery dirt). The wind changed from cool to hot, but stayed as hard and resistive. We drove the speed limit anyway.
The desert and wind stayed pretty much the same from Kingman to Barstow, right through Needles. Ah but the mountains! I swear every damn mountain in that desert is its own peacock! A city feller can hardly believe how many variations of red, brown, orange, tan, copper, burnt ochre, and more reds and browns they use!
Didn't anyone tell the mountain builders that everything is supposed to be shades of grey?
I just have to mention the prices. Sorry. We paid $2.80/gallon for gasoline in Needles, and $2 apiece for small cocolas in Ludlum CA (between Needles and Barstow). Wow!
Barstow gasoline didn't cost that much less, but by then we didn't care we were less than 150 miles from home! Less than 150 town miles: Victorville, Wrightwood, San Bernardino, I can't remember, Azusa, Monrovia, Pasadena, Glendale, North Hollywood, Studio City, Van Nuys, I can't remember again, and Encino! Home!
This old apartment building may never have looked so good or so inviting!
Juneve is washed! Her not being clean left the trip unfinished.
Something about this series feels unfinished too, so let me address that.
In a cemetery along the way, I saw a stone that read "In the end, it wasn't what I'd seen or done that mattered, but the people who shared in my journey."
It was a helluva trip, 7695 miles in 36 days for me, about 800 more for Lindy. It was a helluva celebration! Three days of events and an all afternoon and all evening party! Happy Centennial, Harley-Davidson!
Thank you for 100 years of wonderful machines - even during the AMF years. Thank you for the magnificent rides I've had on Harleys, and thank you for creating an unmissable opportunity for this journey.
Thank you to all the people along the way who added to the wonder of the trip: the waitresses and waiters who took care of us and awed at what we were up to, the motel clerks who made us feel welcome and at ease, the McDonald's and Wendy's servers who were pleasant and quick. Thank you to the people of Milwaukee for embracing the celebration and welcoming a quarter-million strangers who had a rowdy and a wonderful time in your town and your parks (and bars and restaurants and museums and even freeway dividers).
And thank all of you who welcomed us at our stays along the journey. I'll send you individual thanks too, but thank you for sharing your homes and your lives with us and letting us share our lives with you. Thank you for your generosity and hospitality and for your caring.
Thank you, too, you who read these mini-reports of what we saw and felt and did. Thank you for the excuse to put as much as I could into words, to make it that much more real, and to share the countrysides, the rides, some of the people, some of the doings. You helped make the trip memorable and you helped shape my awareness and my delight in the journey.
So now the Harley-Davidson Centennial journey is complete. After a few days of rest (and getting things back in order), I'll resume work on Monday. My ordinary life? If it ever was ordinary before, it won't be now. I'll be carrying this trip, its memories, and our sharing with me.
Thank you again,
And thank all you who rode the trip with me after I put it on my website. Hope it made you as happy and fulfilled as it did us.