Sunday, May 22, 2011

What I've Learned on the Trip

OK, so after all was said and done, I traveled 7329 miles across 18 states and I learned some things along the way. For those of you who are following me from work, I guess this would be my "lessons learned". It's sick, I can't seem get away from work...

Here is a list of what I learned:
1. Semis will try to pass other semis if they are moving 1/2 MPG faster and clog up the road.

2. Bring some lip balm and hand moisturizer along. The cold wind will dry out lips and hands faster than you can blink. This is even through gortex gloves.

3. Get your espresso any opportunity you have. It is tough to find it in Utah, Wyoming, and west Oklahoma. Four shots of espresso at Dunkin' Donuts in NJ was actually 8 shots.

4. Once you get into New Mexico people/ businesses get touchy about using their bathrooms. You have to start asking for keys or buy something before they will let you use it. Also, along those lines, use the bathroom when it is available. You never know when the next one will be coming up.

5. If you are planning to do a ride like this, make sure you have a cruise control mechanism on the bike. A cramp buster is good but not good enough. Over time, the throttle gets really tough to hold on to in order to maintain speed.

6. There is no substitute for good gear. The old saying "you get what you pay for" could not be more true than with motorcycle gear. Whether you are trying to stay warm, dry, cool, or what ever, good gear keeps you comfortable and the ride fun.

7. Using something like Fast Pass or E-ZPass makes the trip much easier. It is tough to fish change out of your pocket while on a bike. Wearing gloves makes this all the more complicated.

8. There is no reason to stay on the bike for extended periods of time... I'm talking longer than an hour and a half at a time. Take your time getting from one place to the next and take frequent breaks. You are not as tired and worn out when you get to the final destination for the day.

9. Listen to your body. I know it's hard to ignore the feeling of having to go to the bathroom but if you are cold and body parts are going numb, stop. If you are thirsty, stop for some hydration. If you are tired, stop and rest. Your body will tell you if you are trying to do too much.

10. In general, most of the people you run into are extremely friendly. They see the CA plate on the bike and start to ask all kinds of questions. A round trip from CA to NY gets a lot of raised eyebrows...even at BMW dealerships.

11. The helmet law is not a federal law. I have seen in several states people riding around with nothing but a pair of shorts, sunglasses, and sandals on. It would suck to be them if they went down. ATGATT!!! Motorcyclist, you know what I mean...

12. Sometimes the sound of a boxer engine is preferred over music while traveling down the interstate.

13. Sometimes visiting with family can be better than anything you can possibly see on the road.

14. Helmet head is completely unavoidable... I don't care what Progressive says!

15. Parents will drive you absolutely bonkers while you are out there, especially if you are by yourself, but it is only because they love you.

16. Three cases on a motorcycle can hold a lot of stuff!! And be sure to keep candy bars out of the left case. (This is the one up against the exhaust.)

17. Have confidence that that you can do anything on the motorcycle but know your limitations. Although this is meant to be challenging, it is also meant to be fun.

18. No mater how challenging you think your trip is, there is always someone doing something more challenging than you.

19. Economy of motion becomes important when driving through congested traffic over long periods of time. Example, the clutch doesn't need to go all the way to the bar with every shift (thanks Reg Pridmore for that one).

20. The air wake of a semi is not a good place to be with all the buffeting unless you are fighting a really hard crosswind. With a cross wind, it actually smoothes it out.

21. Santa Fe was my favorite new place on this trip. I would like to come back there again.

22. Mother nature can be more unpredictable than any w... can be unpredictable.

23. I still don't like Pennsylvania.

24. Chicago, LA, and NY had the worst bumper to bumper traffic...unless you include the never-ending mystery road work in Pennsylvania...then it would actually be them.

25. The roads in NY are so bad, direction wise, that the GPS gets confused.

26. You can never take enough photos.

27. I am apparently a BMW guy. When asked where I was going by the General Manager of Victory BMW, my response was "this way until I get tired. I'll figure something out when it's time." According to him, that is a BMW guy.

28. Bug guts can be really sticky and difficult to remove from your helmet, jacket, and pants. Bird guts can be problematic as well.

29. The people who live and work along the route rely on money from tourists. At times they request donations for taking photos usually the donation applies to purchasing something from their business.

30. After taking a trip like this you don't look at your bike and gear the same way again. It is hard to explain but this bike and gear that has taken you across the country and protected you the entire time. You have been attached to this stuff day in and day out for the last several weeks... Or maybe I'm just loony toons.

It's great to be traveling like this. I had a lot of fun...but as Dorothy said "there's no place like home".


Nineteenth Day on the Road

Well, first off, I am going to apologize for a half ass entry. Today was my last day of the trip. I left Barstow and headed to Santa Monica. Things were going OK up until I got passed the Cajon Pass. As soon as I passes this, I was entering the LA area. I have to say I now have another reason, other than the Kings, to hate LA. At the beginning of the day, I was looking at the route...167 miles total for the day which was supposed to be about 3 hours. Yeah, right! It took me 7 hours to get from Barstow to Santa Monica! During the ride, traffic was so bad that I didn't bother stopping and getting photographs. I was worried that if I did, I would not be able to get back on the road and finish the route in a reasonable amount of time. The only photos I have to show for today's time on the road are a coupe of the beach.

Once I got to Santa Monica, I called to wish my brother a happy birthday, snapped a couple of photos, then started for home. Actually, my intention was just to get clear of the LA area then find a hotel to stay in over night. But as I continued on, I began to see that I could actually make it home. Oh, on thing to mention, I traveled for 19 days on the road and today it happened...I took out a bird. Running down I5 at about 80ish MPH when all of a sudden I feel something hit my chest on the right side. Along with the hit was a bit of a "splat". There was something that landed on my helmet visor. When I pulled over to clean the stuff up, there was bird chunks all over my jacket, helmet, and parts of my bike.

I ended up getting home at about 11 pm. I came home to a "Welcome Home" banner hanging from the garage door as it opened. When I came into the house, there was another "Congratulations" banner. Some friends and my parents set these up and left me some food in the fridge that will get me by until I can get things settled. This was a great trip and I had so much fun. According to Karen (my GPS) I traveled 7329 miles during trip. The trip over was 3039 miles while the return trip via route 66 was 4290 miles. I know I just got back but I am already wanting to plan the next one.

There will be one more post after this one. I have been working on it for the last week or so. It is a list of things that I learned and observed on this trip. So until the next trip, I'll be seein' you... around Fremont.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Eighteenth Day on the Road

Today started in Kingman. I packed up my bike and started down the road. It didn't take long for me to find several thing to photograph. I ended up stopping at Mr D'z Route 66 Cafe. I had already had coffee and a cresant at Starbucks so I settled on a rootbeer float... Great float. This place was kinda cool. Over the PA was a radio program from the '60s. Of course, there was a gift shop there too.

Right after leaving the cafe, I found a mural on another route 66 museum building. This is just a block up the street from the cafe.

Shortly after this stop I was on the road for a while. My next stop was a small shop that was in the middle of nowhere. The place was called Cool Springs. It was a gift shop with a bathroom and some food and water. I don't remember if it was a gas station too but it was all by itself on the top of a hill. The guy who ran the place was pretty cool to talk to. He shared some info on the area and the different surrounding roads.

My next stop was a fun one. I had to go about 20 miles of twisty canyon roads to reach the city of Oatman. This city is interesting. There are mules walking around freely, all the building are western styles, and they re-enact an old western gun fight in the streets. I had lunch here before moving on.

There were several short stops after Oatman but for the most part, it was all desert wastelands all the way to Barstow.

Barstow was my stopping point for today. There is another ~2 hours to Santa Monica. It is possible tomorrow may be my last entry depending on if I feel up to continuing on to Northern California. Until I know, I'll be seein' you from the road.

Total miles traveled today: 246

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Barstow,United States

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Seventeenth Day on the Road

There are no pictures from today's ride. I was actually off Route 66 for the entire day. I dropped off my bike at Victory BMW in Chandler, AZ. I then went to hang out at a Dunkin' Donuts with my iPhone and a wifi connection.

As they were wrapping things up, I saw they had cruise control components for the GS. I had them install the parts only to find that they didn't have the set for my model year...bummer. They were done with my bike at 2:30 in the afternoon.

While I was waiting for my bike I was trying to figure out how I was going to get back to Route 66. I wanted to go back to Flagstaff which is where I deviated yesterday from the route but they received 4 inches of snow last night. They were expecting ice storms this morning that were expected to turn into heavy rain by the afternoon.

Looking at the maps, I17 leads to Flagstaff and I40. The other route, 93 north, also goes to I40 but it links up with the interstate about 20 miles east of Kingman. Taking this route would eliminate a segment of route 66 that I will not travel. Well, because of safety, I chose to go directly Kingman.

Highway 93 takes you though an empty area. In fact, google maps says it all:

The road itself is really fun. It was like a roller coaster without the train cars. The way up to the top of the mountain was a steep climb. It seemed to me the grade was much larger than 6%. Once at the top there were long straights with ups and downs that, when taken at high speeds, feel like an amusement park ride! That was so much fun. This was ~150 miles to get to Kingman. The weather was nice throughout the ride and is expected to be nice for the next couple of days.

This is pretty much it for the day. Once again, I'm sorry for such a poor update but I was more interested in getting back to the route as soon as possible than stopping and snapping some pictures. Tomorrow's update will be better and will have some pic. Until then, I'll be seein' you from the road.

Total miles for the day: 237 miles.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Historic U.S. 66,Kingman,United States

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sixteenth Day on the Road

This update will be relatively short. I decided to deviate from my original plan by riding into Phoenix to visit my brother and have my bike serviced. I was only able to take a few pictures today because of the weather.

Today was another rough day of riding. In fact, it was the toughest thus far. What made it difficult was the weather. Yesterday, the wind was a factor. Today, the wind was much stronger. In addition to the wind, there was also a lot of hail.

As I left the hotel in Holbrook, I found the hotel that inspired "The Cozy Cone" hotel in the cartoon "Cars". The hotel is the Wigwam Motel. It looked like there were people still staying at that hotel.

My next stop was on Jackrabbit Road. This is where the "Here It Is" sign is. There was also a gift shop there with some cool painting but since it was about 8:00 am, the store was closed.

Winslow was the next, and pretty much the last, stop of the day. There were several signs and referring to the song by The Eagle "take it easy". I was thinking about it...that would drive me nuts if I had to listen to nothing but the eagles day in and day out.

That was pretty much it for Route 66. The rest of the day was spent just getting to Queen Creek. The toughest stretch of road I have had to travel was along I40 between Winslow and Flagstaff. This 50 mile segment started out with a strong cross wind that just grew stronger as I continued on. The winds were 30+ MPH for the entire time. Half way through, there was a severe dust storm that limited visibility to about 1/4 mile. In addition to the dust storm, I was getting hit with fast moving tumble weeds. The winds were so bad that I had no choice to slow down to about 50MPH. During the rest of the trip when I encountered wind, I have not had to slow down until today. About 10 miles before reaching Flagstaff, the rain started to fall and the temperature dropped. I ended up having to stop to put my jacket liner in before continuing on.

The winds were coming out of the south so as soon as I got onto I17, the winds went from being crosswinds to being headwinds. After about 5 minutes on I17 the cold temperatures started turning the rain into hail. Add a headwind to falling hail and you have ice projectiles bouncing off your windscreen, helmet and any uncovered skin... Not pleasant. It took a while but as I came out of the mountains, the temperature began to increase and the hail gave way to light rain. I waded through the traffic in the Phoenix area until I reached Queen Creek.

That was pretty much it for the day. Now I have to figure out how I am going to proceed. I was watching the news earlier and they were saying that there is snow currently falling in Flagstaff. I am thinking that I may have to bypass a small section of the route if I want to continue on. I will look again after my bike is worked on and decide what path to take at that time. Until the , I'll be seein' you from the road.

Total miles traveled today: 296

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Queen Creek,United States

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fifteenth Day on the Road

Today was a little stressful. The weather didn't really want to corporate. It was sunny and mild temperature but it was really windy. The wind really blew... Literally and figuratively. For most of the day, I was riding the bike with a lean for most of the day to compensate for the wind.

So the day started with a stop and "The Pony Espresso". This is a little shack that was on the side of the road. I actually found it by mistake as I was driving by. I do have to say this place has the best espresso I have ever tasted. They use locally grow and roasted beans... This stuff was total axle grease, totally awesome.

As I was leaving town, I noticed the little BMW emblem in my path on the GPS screen. I ended up stopping at BMW Santa Fe. This is the first dealership I have seen that sells, both, motorcycles and cars. Now, the smart person would have looked at the mileage on the bike and actually thought about having the bike serviced... I mean since I was there. Is this what I no. So I leave the dealership in Santa Fe then completely drive through Albuquerque, where the only other BMW dealer is in the state, again, without considering that I am about 400 miles from my service interval of 18,000 miles. it is not until I'm another 150 miles from the dealers that start to actually think about where I should service the bike. I have a plan but more on that later.

My next stop was at the Flying Star Cafe. I thought the sign looked cool. I think I found this cafe just as I entered Albuquerque. I drove through down town and made sure I made that left turn.

After leaving Albuquerque, it was desert again. I snapped some shots of the road and the desert landscape.

Later in the day I reached the continental divide. It is kinda funny because there were two Native American gift shops right next to each other. These stores sell the same item at the same prices. In this case, I think one would have been enough.

My next stop was at the Red Rock Park. This place has a museum, trails, and other stuff. It was apparently not very interesting as my bike was one of, maybe, five vehicles in the parking lot. This was my last stop in New Mexico.

My next top was at the largest Teepee gift shop just inside the Arizona border. It is a huge...I mean really huge gift shop.

The last place I stopped at today was the Petrified Forest National Park. The best part of this stop was the painted desert. There are so many different colors and landscapes within the 28 mile road. I took so many photos while at the park. I only wish I could have stayed a little longer. I had gotten there 2 hours before the park was to close.

So when I finally checked into a hotel, I started looking at what I have left to travel. It turns out that I am about 90 miles from Flagstaff then another 150 miles to Phoenix where my other brother lives. So the plan is to deviate from the route at Flagstaff to go visit my brother tomorrow. Then on Thursday, I am going to have my bike serviced in Phoenix or Chandler.

Well, that's it for now. Until next time, I'll be seein' you from the road.

Total miles traveled for the day: 347

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Holbrook,United States

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fourteenth Day on the Road

Let's see if I can get this published correctly.

Today started out as a bad day. I was tired from getting to bed last night and getting up early this morning. On top of that, I had a problem with the room where I thought they used something to clean the room that made it feel like I was inhaling ammonia. They did change my room but it followed me. Turns out that I must have ridden through some really nasty pollen yesterday some where in Texas. It was all over my riding suit and I was feeling the affect all day. When I got to the room, I basically rinsed my suit, CamelBak, boots, gloves, and helmet. I am feeling much better now so on with todays update...

The day started with me getting back to the start of today's route 30 miles from the hotel. My first major stop with in Adrian, Texas. This is the exact midpoint of the route. There is this cool sign and a really cool cafe/ gift shop. I ended stopping for breakfast.

Shortly after breakfast I made it into New Mexico. My first stop was at the visitor center. It was pretty cool as it was built in the southwestern style. It is different than all the others I have stopped at during the trip. There was also this bronze casting of a dinosaur fossil. There is actually a dinosaur museum in New Mexico but it was closed today.

My next stop was at a coffee shop in Tucumcari. This town is is about 5000 people and was really cool. I actually stuck around and snapped a bunch of photos of all the different places. This is the city that had the dinosaur museum.

The next photos are of road segments in New Mexico. When compared to the others I have posted there is a definite difference between these than the other roads in the route. While I was on this road, I found this little oasis that was essentially in the middle of nowhere. When I walked in, there was a guy getting gas who asked the check out guy " that church over there, how old is it?". The check out guys response "old". I couldn't help but to laugh.

By this time, I was ready for lunch. I found this cafe in Santa Rosa, the Route 66 Cafe. This is a cafe and a gift shop, like all the other shops along the route. There is a lot of route 66 memorabilia through out the place. They also serve pretty good food too.

On my way to my stopping point for the day, Santa Fe, I stopped at the Pecos National Historical Part. This is a small museum and an actual pueblo that you can walk around. It was pretty cool.

My final stopping point of Santa Fe is really cool. The architecture of the buildings is really beautiful. I didn't have a chance to take any photos as I was looking for the hotel and didn't stop to snap some pics. I may walk around tomorrow morning...depending on the timing.

I think that is it for the day. So until next time, I'll be seein' you from the road.

Total miles traveled for the day: 305

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Location:Santa Fe,United States