Sunday, May 11, 2008

Post Game Wrap-Up

So, tomorrow my vacation is over, and I have to head back to work. I can't believe 6 weeks has passed already. My road trip did not go exactly as planned, as you all know. In the end, I am glad I decided to get another bike and keep going. Perhaps I didn't take the route I originally planned. And maybe I didn't get to see a few of the places I wanted to, or spend as much time as I'd have liked at the places I did get to. But, in the end, I'm happy for having done it. And I'm very glad I got to see everyone I had planned on seeing. Places and things will always be there, I can visit them later. Seeing my mom and my friends, that was important to me. You never know what's going to happen in the future. I think I made the most of the time I had. And just under 9000 miles in 4 1/2 weeks is pretty respectable.

Stuff I missed and want to still go see: Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, more stretches of old Route 66.

Stuff I want to go back to and spend more time enjoying: Niagara Falls, The Grand Canyon, Badlands National Park.

Places I never want to ride or drive through again: Arizona, New Jersey.

Those are just some quick thoughts after being back at my house for a couple of days. I am sure that as I get back into the work routine, I'll be thinking about the trip more and have some more thoughts to share. Also, some people are probably interested in my thoughts on the Concours 14, so I'll write something up on that as well.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Victory Lap of USA Complete

I am home, I am safe, and I am tired. Bigger update coming later, probably tomorrow.

Thank you all for reading along. I appreciated all of the comments, it was nice to know I had so many friends following along.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Homeward Bound

Slept in this morning, which I sorely needed. I stayed up way too late, after going out to dinner with Nicole and Keith. Jesse from NY was actually in Phoenix yesterday visiting a client, so he joined us as well.

Headed out and stopped by Brent's place to say hi to him, his wife Rachel, and their new son Kyle. And then it was off to San Diego.

I struggled again with the heat and hydration today. After draining the camelbak, I stopped in Gila Bend, AZ. While sitting at a Burger King eating a chicken sandwich and downing cups of water, another motorcyclist walked in and we started to chat. Turns out that Bob is also heading to San Diego today. So I asked him if he'd like some company, and after lunch we headed west.

After weeks on the road by myself, it was really nice to have someone else along to chat with at rest and fuel stops. Bob also set a pretty good pace, and I was able to follow along without doing what I usually do - overdo it for a short time, and then feel worn out for the rest of the ride. Near San Diego we parted ways, and I made it to Walker and Renee's place, where I'm staying for my last night on the road. I'll also get to meet their son

Tomorrow, I head north back to San Jose and close out the last chapter of this road trip.

A Grand Day Out

Another 580 miles behind me after today. I left Gallup in the morning and crossed into Arizona, the wind still letting me know how much it hates me. I visited the Petrified Forest National Park, which was quite neat. I then turned off I40 to go see the Metor Crater, which was a waste of an hour and $15. From there, it was on to Flagstaff, and then up towards the Grand Canyon.

That's when I started feeling crappy. I hadn't eaten lunch, but it was much more than that. It turns out I'd been spending most of today at altitude, as much as 7000 feet at times. Well, that combined with the constant wind, I got dehydrated pretty fast. I did get to see the south rim of the Canyon at Desert View, but didn't stay very long. I did purchase the National Parks pass for the year, and I saw enough to know that I want to go back and spend more time there. Maybe in the fall.

Chugged a Powerade and put down a couple of Tiger's Milk bars, and then headed back towards Flagstaff. I started to feel better, and made it to Phoenix around 8 PM.

I did take a bunch of pictures today, which I'll upload tomorrow. I can sleep in a little bit tomorrow, and take my time getting to San Diego which is *only* 380 miles from here.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Getting My Kicks

Headed out along Historic Route 66 this morning, and then got back on I40 westbound. For a very long stretch today, old 66 ran alongside I40 much of the way. It's a very old, unmaintained 2 lane road, but still driveable. It's a bit depressing though, as there are all these modern gas stations and shops along I40, and a few thousand feet away are rusted, gutted remains of what once was the Main Street of America. I didn't take any pictures of things like that today, as I tried to minimize stopping and get all the way to Flagstaff, AZ.

I stopped at the Big Texan, in Amarillo for lunch. The place was nearly empty, as I was a bit early for lunch and the weather was turning awful. High winds, much like the ones in South Dakota were present the entire day, and dark storm clouds covered much of the Texas panhandle. For those of you that don't know, the Big Texan is the restaurant that advertises a FREE 72 oz. steak. The catch is that you have to eat the whole meal in 1 hour, and no breaks. You stand up, the house wins. The price of failure? 72 dollars. When I got there, a fellow had just started in on his attempt. In the 40 minutes I was there, he made decent progress, but I'm pretty sure he walked out of there feeling sick and $72 lighter.

From then on I continued west, got sprinkled on a little, but outran the rain clouds. Stopped in Clines Corners in New Mexico, to see what all the billboards were about, and use the rest room. In the parking lot, a woman noticed the Oregon tag on the bike, and asked if I was from there. I started to tell my story, and the fact that I live in California, but am originally from New York. Well, so was she, and her friend that joined us was in the process of moving from NY to Chandler, AZ. Too funny. 2 days ago at a rest stop, I met a couple moving from New Jersey to the Palm Springs area.

The wind did a number on me today, and sapped a good deal of energy riding through it. No missing tail bags, thankfully. But I called it a day in Gallup, NM. I'm planning to get an early start, head out to the Grand Canyon, and then into Phoenix to meet some friends.

The Route 66 museum in Elk City, OK.

The Big Texan.

I am pretty sure it did not end well for this fellow. With 20 minutes left to go, he was looking pretty unhappy.

My much more sensible 8 oz. steak, which was delicious. As was the sweet tea.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Cannonball Run

I got up this morning with some ambitious ideas of making it the 820 miles from Jackson, TN to Amarillo, TX in 1 day. It was not meant to be. I got as far as Elk City, OK, and called it a day. Being so close to the end of the trip, now would be a really inopportune time for some bad judgment and pushing too hard in one day. So I found a hotel, with a laundromat across the street. My laundry is done, and I'm probably going to turn in early tonight, I'm pretty beat. 680 miles in one day is still pretty respectable.

There's a Historic Route 66 museum here in town that I'm going to check out in the morning, then head to the Big Texan in Amarillo for lunch. From there, I'll see if I feel like pressing straight on to Albuquerque, or head southwest to Roswell. Still making things up as I go along. I've pretty much seen everything and everyone I've wanted to on this trip, except for the Grand Canyon, friends in Phoenix, and friends in San Diego. Those are my only 3 goals left at this point, and then I just really want to be in my own bed.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Big Deal's Gap

Post title compliments of Brian Cupini.

Sorry there was no update yesterday, I was nowhere near a cellphone signal, or any kind of internet access. I wrote up the post for yesterday offline; here it is:

Left Asheville early, and headed to Cherokee to meet a friend coming up from Atlanta to give me a guided tour of Deal's Gap and the Tail of the Dragon. Just south of Waynesville I picked up a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway that would dump me off just outside of Cherokee. Wow, the BRP was some of the nicest twisty road I have seen, and the pavement was well maintained. The weather was threatening to rain since the sun came up, and about 15 minutes into the BRP run, the sky opened up. It was still an enjoyable ride, but I couldn't get many pictures of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I met up with Tamara in Cherokee, and her friend Eddie. We had lunch and then headed to the Deal's Gap Motorcycle Resort, taking a combination of freeways and some twisties, the final stretch being the Hellbender 28. It rained just about the entire time. Shortly before we arrived at the motel, a tree had fallen and cut the power and phones to the whole area. We decided to wait out the rain here, until tomorrow morning when it is supposed to clear up. A while later, the skies cleared and the road started to dry up, but we still had no power. So we headed down the hill to the Tapoco Lodge, but they were also powerless and not cooking. We then continued on to Robbinsville and had dinner at a mexican restaurant, filled up on gas, and rode back to the motel.

Tomorrow morning we're planning to do a Dragon run, then pick up the Cherohala Skyway out to Tellico Plains where we'll part ways. Tam and Eddie have to head back to Atlanta, and I'm going west towards Nashville.

And now for today.

We got up early and did our Tail of the Dragon run before many people arrived, and had remarkably little traffic. So, is it a big Deal? I don't know. It's a fun enough road, if you like tight technical stuff. But the posted speed limit is 30 mph, and there a lot of police out there most of the time. To have gotten to the area and NOT ridden it would have been disappointing, so I am glad I did. But if one was to ride across the country just to ride that 11 miles of road, they'd probably feel less than fulfilled. After our Dragon run, we had breakfast, packed up the bikes, and headed back towards Robinsville, and then headed over the the Cherohala Skyway. Now that was a much more enjoyable road. The corners are all smooth sweepers for the most part, and you can actually enjoy the scenery. We rode it out all the way to the end, in Tellico Plains. From there, Tamara and Eddie headed south, and I headed north up 68 to I75, and then I40 westbound.

The Tail of the Dragon. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

I stopped in Old Hickory, TN to see the house that my manager Mary Ann grew up in. It's now on the National Register of Historic Places, so I took a few pictures of it and then figured out where to next. I made the most of the hour I got back, and riding towards the sun. I made it as far as Jackson, TN before I called it a day.

From now till home it's superslab all the way, hopefully I can knock out a few really long days so I can have some time to see the Grand Canyon.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Out with the old...

Left VA Beach this morning and headed southeast, on my way to Asheville. The various law enforcement establishments must have had a ticket writing contest today, because they were everywhere. The "don't be the fastest guy on the road" technique worked very well today, as I did not contribute any funds towards outfitting a police cruiser with a new donut holder.

About 70 miles east of Asheville is Held USA, the US importer/distributor of Held stuff. I was running a bit late, so Charles called them up for me to tell me I was on my way, and they stayed a little late so I could stop by. Clay, the owner's son gave me a brief tour, and I picked up a pair of these and left my burnt gloves there for his dad to look at when they get back from a bike rally this weekend. They'll repair them if they're able to, and send them back to me in California. Turns out the Akiras are sized a little different. I needed a size 10, where I wore a 9.5 in the Galaxy. In case any of you are looking to get a new pair.

Now I'm in Asheville, going out for dinner soon and will try and catch Iron Man.

Here I am, at Held USA.

The warehouse where all the goodies are kept. No pic of the showroom, since it was nearly empty - the Held people are at a bike rally in GA this weekend.

My old crispy Galaxy gloves, and a new pair of Akiras.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Slingshot States

After a late night cheese steak and not enough sleep, I headed south from Collegeville, PA. It rained in Delaware, but was only cloudy through Maryland, and then sunny in Virgina. Riding across the Chesapeake Bay bridge was neat, even though the wind was blowing pretty strong, and I just know it was eyeballing my tail bag.

300 miles later, I'm at the Beebe household in Virginia Beach. After dinner we stopped by Caroline and Rex's house to say hi while I was in town.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to have breakfast at a Cracker Barrel, something I've never done. Then, it's time to start the return leg of the journey and get on my way West with Asheville, NC being where I'm aiming to end up for the night.

The new tires are decently scrubbed in at this point, and I like the way they feel a good bit more than the stock tires.