Tuesday, 29 April 2014

4000 Mile Marker….

Today we rode from Socorro in New Mexico to Tombstone in Arizona (much more of this wonderful town later) and on route we reached the 4000 mile marker in a town called Willcox on Highway 191/Interstate 10, about 60 miles north of Tombstone.  As is now tradition here is our marker photo.  Since our mouse mascot 'deserted' us (see earlier post) we will now define these photo's with my Union-Jack bag hooked over my windshield.

We have now travelled through….

New Mexico

Socorro and dinner with 'friends'


Monday, 28 April 2014

High Plains Drifters…….

What a day.  Not for the feint hearted riding 360 miles is some really high winds.  But hey we just love to ride, that's why we came.  We took a taxi from our hotel at 8am this morning to Tripps the Harley dealer in Amarillo. We hadn't seen our bikes for 3 days so it was great to be re-united with them.  It's funny how on a epic road trip like this that if you stay in one place for too long, and in our case at hotel/motel you definitely get withdrawal systems and just can't wait to be riding again.

We are on our way to Tombstone, which is our next 'big' thing to see, but the distance in one day is even too much for Jon and I in these weather conditions.  One thing that we really didn't  give too much thought to when planning this tour was the weather patterns in America.  Well, we have now become almost qualified meteorologists, and we watch the 24/7 weather TV channels every night and every morning to see what's happening ahead of us!

Here's a map of the journey today.

After collecting the bikes we headed west on I-40 to have breakfast at a place recommended to us by the taxi driver and the finance director of Tripps Harley - Russells Truck Stop, Restaurant and Museum.  And we were not disappointed.   Check it out  http://www.russellsttc.com

Two eggs 'easy over' corn-beef hash and hash-browns and a side of crispy bacon and as much coffee as you can drink in one sitting!  

Look at the view….we really were high up on the Texas/New Mexico plains some 2165 metres, that's 7100 feet in 'old money'

"B1GH0GD0G" & "LULU" The High Plains Drifters….and the were all over the road!

The beard is coming on, and that's just after 3 weeks.  I'll look like Gandalf come 3 months and my arrival into New York City!

After breakfast we had a look around the free car museum.

Once suitably nutritionally satisfied and high on caffiene off we set again on the I-40 west, which this section of the interstate is also Route 66  we were heading for the Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa.  

They weren't to busy today…. 

Given the high winds we were surprised this car advertising the museum was still up there!

One of the owners favourite cars.

Jon was in heaven.  He's always loved American classic cars and use to own one - a 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle, this one is a 1967 very similar.

After filling our boots with beautiful American classic cars it was time to get going, and to 'slip our moorings and "sail out" once more onto the plains in force 6-8 gale!

The wind was blowing so hard, as you can see by this flag, that as Jon made his right turn when exiting onto the main road his bike was hit by a big gust and he couldn't hold it up and "LULU" kissed the tarmac!!! But to our amazement she was not even scratched.  Mind you it took all our joint strength to right her!    Still it's all part of the adventure - apparently!  Onwards to Tombstone.

The darn wind continued to blow out on I40 West and we continued to 'tack' our way across America.  We pulled in for fuel at Tucumcari and met up with some military veterans who were participating in the "Ride To Wall" which ends in Washington DC (Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall) having left their homes in Los Angeles on their Harley Davidson's several days before.

After a tiring day battling the winds out on the plain we pulled into a town called Socorro and another Best Western Hotel for the night.

Time to get going again…..wind & sand storm dying away (for now!)

We are chomping at the bit to get back on those bikes this morning.  Amarillo has been a fun and a genuine 'port in a storm' whilst the wind and sand storms have blown through.  We have an early start to get back to Tripps Harley Davidson and pick the bikes up from there Service Workshop where they kindly stored them for us.

We have a 285 mile ride ahead on the I-40 and Route 66. We'll stop for breakfast at the Midpoint Cafe http://midpointroute66cafe.com  which is located at the exact “geo-mathematical” centre of Route 66 - 1139 miles from both Chicago and Los Angeles.  We then ride on to the Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa http://www.route66automuseum.com before the last stretch into Albuquerque for an early night. On Tuesday we head south and for the famous town of Tombstone - can't wait to catch up with those 'Earp Boys' and 'Doc Holliday!'

Saturday, 26 April 2014

When it comes to weather….always listen to a local

Whilst Jon's bike was being serviced this morning at Tripps Harley Davidson here in Amarillo and mine was having a full valet clean, as always we got talking to some locals.

A common question naturally is "where you heading?"  It turns out there is a major wind storm coming in that will contain a lot of dust and sand from New Mexico.  The consistent advice was "you don't wanna be riding it that"  Being the sensible chaps that we are, we are now hole'd up in Amarillo until Monday.  The cool thing is the manager of the dealership allowed us to leave our bikes there to be garaged so as not to be affected by all the dust and dirt coming in on the 60mph winds.   The Finance Manager was even kind enough to give us a lift back to our hotel suggesting places we might want to visit tonight and tomorrow.  One such place is 'Guitars & Cadillacs' for some live country & western music and line dancing!

This weekend could be a blessing in disguise…we'll let "yawl" know

Now that's not what you call a great 'first impression' of the club.  The atmosphere was great though, the folks were kind and full of life on a Saturday night.  The customers aged from 18 years to 80 plus, mostly families and friends letting off steam and line dancing the night away.  The beer was the worst we had tasted in America so far!

Our Route Today….As We Continue West on Route 66

We are off to get a 5000 mile service on Jon's bike here in Amarillo Harley Davidson before continuing our journey west to Santa Rosa.

A Deserter In Our Ranks….

After years of loyal service our road touring mascot "Malcom The Mouse" has deserted us! He was last seen at the National Heritage Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma. Early reports say he has run off with the daughter of the famous Mexican Mouse "Speedy Gonzales" and he and "Fajita Gonzales" are now breaking for the boarder and heading for the Rio Grand as I type this. We shall miss him!

Jon - Living Free, Florida Style…..No lid!

Saturday 12th April 2014 - heading North up the Florida Keys on route to Naples, way to hot for a helmet. As the saying goes….."when in Rome…!"

Friday, 25 April 2014

Show Me The Way To Amarillo.......

In a small town called Erick - The 'Red-Neck' Capitol of the World

Located in Erick’s oldest building - the City Meat Market - is the Sandhill Curiosity Shop - which sadly was closed when we arrived!   We made the stop here after seeing a motorcycle travel documentary made by Henry Cole about Route 66 and the interview he did with the rather eccentric owners.

Containing a crazy Route 66 jumble of memorabilia - and possibly the inspiration for Lizzie’s Curio Shop in the Pixar movie “Cars” - this curiosity shop is just as well known on the route for it’s owners: Harley and Annabelle (the “Mediocre Musicians”) who we didn't get to meet as it is for the collection of items for sale. 

Route 66 Museum - Clinton, Oklahoma

There are many museums along Route 66 but this one in Clinton was exceptional.  Staffed by really helpful 'veterans'  http://www.route66.org and constructed in a way that it tells the story of Route 66 decade-by-decade, from the earliest days of building the road right up today and its modern day renaissance.  Well worth a stop if you find yourself this way.

We've Found It….We're On It "Route 66"

Finding Route 66 is not as easy as it sounds and staying on it is a challenge too.  The trouble is that it's not well sign posted and some sections are either Highway 40 or Interstate 40, there is no other road!  We made it to Weatherford yesterday afternoon and booked into the  Best Western Hotel, which is the best one we have stayed in so far.  Just £55 gets you a great room, very nicely fitted out and a full American breakfast at the dinner next door.  Great value.  Last night whilst unpacking I discovered the shocking reality that we had a deserted not in our midst.  'Malcolm The Mouse' was AWOL!  We must of parted with him back in Oklahoma City at the Cowboy museum.

Today we are off to Amarillo on Route 66.  Our first stop will be in the town of Clinton to visit the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum which by all accounts in the best one on 'The Mother Road'  take a look at their website  http://route66.org   

Thursday, 24 April 2014

The National Heritage Cowboy Museum - Oklahoma City

If you are of the era of Jon and I,  who grew up in the hey-day of cowboy films on TV and watching them at the 'Saturday Morning Pictures' you would have loved this place in Oklahoma City  - The National Heritage Cowboy Museum http://www.nationalcowboymuseum.org  The staff there could not have been more helpful to us.  That allowed us to park our bikes close to the entrance, which meant we could leave our luggage on the bike and not have to worry about it being stolen.  Inside they provided lockers for us to put our helmets and rucksacks in carrying all our critical items - such wonderful American service once again.  It was $12 entrance fee and worth every cent.  We signed their visitors book and off we went exploring the vast expanse.  The staff all appeared to be volunteers and reminder us of the 'National Trust' legions of volunteers back home who work just as hard.   We had lunch in their super restaurant and for just $11 we had a four course buffet, help yourself, eat as much as you want.  The food was excellent especially the 'Chilli' (highly recommended by one of the museum staff) and the we also enjoyed the dessert of fresh peach lattice tart laced with cinnamon.

The Grand Entrance to the museum

This sculpture by James Earle Fraser is very famous and is called "The End of The Trail" It stands within the lobby of the museum and must be 18 - 20 foot tall.

Levi Strauss Jeans.  These are from the 1850 - 1870 period.  He made them from a French cloth known as "serge de Nimes" which soon became know as 'Denim'

Winchester Rifle Collection.  We hope to find a shooting range where we can experience what shooting these basic rifles was like.  Still looking though.

Close up engraved Winchester Rifle.  You had to be "a man of means" to own a rifle like this.

My favourite painting "Gun Fight At The OK Corrall"  We will be going to Tombstone in Arizona and look forward to exploring the town where this lovely painting is set.

This painting was entitled "Protecting The Mail"

This painting was about 10' X 5' and entitled "Immigrants Heading West" My photo does not does not do it justice, it truly was spectacular

Wonderful sun-light colours in this oil painting. Native Americans out on a hunt.

I loved this painting - Everyone out in the frontier country had to learn how to shoot, both for food and protection.

3000 Mile Marker

Although we have been in America  now for 17 days, we have only have been on the road for 14 days - just two weeks riding.  Today we hit the 3000 mile marker in a very small town called McCloud, just off Interstate 40 about 35 miles east of Oklahoma City.  We pulled into a petrol station to fill up with both fuel and coffee.  Here is our picture with "Malcolm The Mouse" once again defining our 1000 Mile Marker photo's.

Whilst at this fuel stop we asked about 'Tornado Alley' and were surprised to hear from the staff that we were still firmly in it! Jon asked what should we do in the event of seeing an tornado.  A fuel tanker driver explained we should firstly not try to out-run it, in case we ran into its path, secondly we should not try and hide underneath the bridges of the Interstate 40 "we would get sucked right out by it, including the bikes!"  He best advice was if caught out in the open was to find a shallow ditch and lie face down in it.  Jon asked "what about the bikes?"  He replied......."You leave them!  They are replaceable!"   It was profound, but the stark truth of living in this part of America.

In Search of "The Mother Road" - Route 66

We awoke in the small town of Okemah, just off the Interstate 40W to tremendous rain, lighting and thunder storms in the early hours of this morning.  We had pulled into the 'Days Inn Motel' the night before run by a very unhealthy looking Pakistani/Indian lady who coughed constantly whilst telling us about the continental breakfast would could help ourselves to this morning!  

Fortunately last night, after dinning at the Mexican restaurant across the street, we had decided to park our bikes right outside our motel rooms under the floor canopy of the upper floor.  Given the size of the hail stones landing on all the cars and pick-up trucks at around 5:30am it was a smart move, otherwise we could have been looking at two bikes come day-break with cracked plastic windscreens and chipped paintwork.

Today we were heading out to join Route 66.  We intended to pick it up in Oklahoma City right alongside the 'National Cowboy & Western Museum'  http://www.nationalcowboymuseum.org   We took Interstate 40 just to get west quickly because the skies looked bleak and after all we were in 'tornado alley' and really did not fancy hitting the sort of weather we had seen earlier.

Chasing Gators in The Everglades…..

Better late than never!  I have finally got round to posting a video we filmed what seems ages ago now, but in fact was only 11 days back.  It's our ride on an air-boat down in the Everglades of Florida.  These boats are driven by a 572 cu inch Chevy V8 engine (9.4 Litre Motor!) - that's pretty cool for basically a big hair-dryer!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Ride to Fort Smith…..We Changed Our Mind

The are many joys of a road trip like this, one being just as you think you have worked out a route for the day a better idea one comes up.  This happened yesterday (see previous post).  Thankfully we decided to take this ride - 180 miles of incredible roads, long sweeping bends and even some tight ones that you sports bike riders would have loved.  We rode west out of Little Rock on Highway 70 which leads into Highway 270 and takes you through the 'Ouachita National Forest' http://www.fs.usda.gov/ouachita We are still early into our adventure across America but we were both thinking how can the riding get any better than this!  It was just perfect, about 75 degrees, just riding in T-Shirts covered by blues skies with the occasional cluster of white fluffy clouds.

Our 'glorious' route

The Americans know how to picnic.  It seems every 'rest-stop' we pull into there is always provision to have a BBQ if you come prepared.  We must get to a grocery store and buy some charcoal and fresh steaks and make our selves some real road food at one of these stops along the way.

Our Ride Today...

We continue our adventure west this morning, taking a detour to visit another Harley Davidson dealership that has a motorcycle jacket Jon is interested in buying.  Mind you it will be too hot to wear it until we get to Northern California!  But compared to the prices in the UK it sounds like a bargain.  Here is our route.