Author Topic: Riding Across the USA 2011 - Route 66, Grand Tetan, Yellowstone, Sturgis, and...  (Read 2799 times)

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I've just parked my wonderful motorcycle in the garage about two hours ago, but here I am, trying to put everything together after almost a month on the road, with a "broken heart".  This year trip is quite different than all other years, but I've managed to pull it through, and gotten home in one piece.

At this moment, I am very tired, but I don't want to tell you why, because I want to put everything down from the beginning. :)
That's it for now!
The report will be started tomorrow with some pictures and videos as I will try to upload as many as I can.  Here is my photo album on the Harley site.
Good night for now!
Nick
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Route 66 - On the Way to Chicago
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2011, 11:02:04 PM »
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  •  Crossing this country is always a challenge; even though, I have been doing the same thing for the last fifteen years.  It is even harder to cross the USA on the mother road – Route 66 is what I have meant! I have been thinking, dreaming, and planning to ride the Route 66 for a quite sometimes, but I have had to back out every year for a reason.  Mostly, I just hope that I can find a riding partner to share this lifetime event.   Finally, I have realized that if I do not force myself to “do it”, then I may not have a chance to ride this route as I am getting older, and I can tell you that my daily distance is getting shorter every year.

    I don’t know how to tell you how happy I am, when my friend, George has told me that he will ride the Route 66 with me this year.   Preparation to cross the country is not a new thing to me anymore; either staying in hotel, or camping.  I am now an expert of how to pack, and to know what I should bring with me, and how much, especially with the Bunkhouse.  Somehow, I have a hard time to pull the bunkhouse (I later know why) with my new Harley in last year, so I have decided to prepare a cargo trailer (Harbor Freight tag along trailer) for this year.  I am ended up with two trailers in my garage.  Actually, I have tried to sell the bunkhouse, but no one has come to the price that I want, and to be honest, I just want to get rid of the bunkhouse for more space in my garage.  But then, the bunkhouse is still my best trailer, which I have enjoyed for many times of camping.

    It took me more than six months to be ready, including preparing the bike, and the new HF trailer, and finally the time is come!  To take more precaution, I have taken some extra time off, which has given me more than a month to wander around the country and more time to see my parents. Again, they are the main reason and the destination of my trip – I am in S. Florida, and they are in N. California.  I will meet my friend, George in Chicago, because we want to ride from the starting point to the end in Santa Maria, CA.  I have spent a lot time to research about Route 66.  There is no concrete map, or GPS file to follow, and there are so many different maps, and directions from many people.  I’ve finally decided to buy the simplest map for motorcycle from Harley Davidson web site, and also downloaded all the individual file of each state (7 totals) from historic66.com, and saved them into my smart phone.  I’ve also made note of all the places that I want to visit, such as the most recommended Lou Mitchel’s Restaurant on Jackson St. in Chicago.

    Regardless of how much effort that you may put into the preparation, something may change the plan at the last minute. One day before the departure day, Dean told me that he doesn’t want to camp, because it will be hot, and he doesn't think he will survive in the tent.  I told him that I have an A/c in my trailer, but I told him that we could stay in the hotel all the way, if he wants to.  He agreed.  So, the trailer stayed home, and I was rushing all over motorcycle stores in town trying to get a luggage bag for more space.  Surprisingly, all the Harley dealers in my town didn’t have any, and I founded one bag, which I was really like it, in a Honda dealer.  For my friend, I didn’t mind to share the moment that we had been waiting for a long time – Riding Route 66!

     I left my house on 07/16/11 at about 6 am.  It was warm, but humid and cloudy!  It was not appeared as a nice morning, but the plan was set, and I had to roll, regardless the weather condition.  I decided to take I-95 to Augusta, GA to see an old friend, and stayed there for a night.  It was not bad for a “short” ride, which was about 550 miles.  There was not much to see along the I-95 and in this area in GA. I won’t go in details about the visitation of one of my refugee friends, as he was not a biker and a traveler either.  I left Augusta early in the morning to beat the traffic, and made the day end stop in Florence, KY.  I had ridden about 500 miles today, and I felt tired.  I decided that I won’t ride a long distance anymore, so I can enjoy more scenic, and not to beat up my old body.

    It was a very good feeling to meet Bill, who had traveled about 30 miles on his SUV to see me.

    Bill has been a have-not-seen friend for many years from my web site, but somehow, Bill is kind enough to give me a hand on the forum.  A wonderful dinner, and a few pictures have brought to me a warm feeling and courage to get on the road for my Route 66 adventure.
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    Crossing USA 2011 - Route 66 - Chicago
    « Reply #2 on: August 17, 2011, 11:19:05 PM »
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  •  I arrived at a hotel in Willowbrook, IL, and Dean was there just about the same time.  What a pleasant feeling to see an old friend again!  After unpacking and having a shower, I suggested to Dean that we should have an early diner, so we could have more time to look over the maps, and instruction about the Route 66.  Dean made a joke that he would be a “follower”, and I would be a captain, but I’d forced him to take the Harley Route 66 map, and I would study the downloaded road instruction.  Later, I’d found out that we were not prepared, and having a good plan at all., but that was a later story.

    We got up, and headed out toward Chicago about 6:30 in the morning.  There was only twenty three miles based on the Zumo, and we were very exciting to get on the road for a lifetime ride.  Turned out, life is not easy as someone have been saying!  It took us about two hours to cover twenty three miles, and I had to say something that I really didn’t want to judge based on my own personal opinion:  Chicago drivers were the worst in the country!  I was from Florida, and I had been all over the country, and traffic in Los Angeles, or California could not compare to Chicago.  If I met whoever designed the road sign system in Chicago, and I would smacked him in the face.  Even with the Garmin, we had had to make a detour a couple times.  My plan was getting to the intersection of Jackson and Lake Shore Dr., having breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant, then starting the Route 66 from there.

    Life is not easy!  I was complaining too much to myself.  After almost two hours of struggling with Chicago traffic and road construction, we finally arrived the historical intersection of Jackson and Lake Shore Dr., and there was no way that we could find the starting point (terminus) as there was no place to park, and other vehicles were always pushing behind you.  We pulled over a park (Grant Park) on Michigan Ave.,

    hopefully that someone would give us some information about the “mark”.  After asking about five or six people, surprisingly, there was only one person heard about Route 66, and he had no idea where the terminus was.  We decided that we would skip the “terminus”, and heading to Lou Mitchell’s restaurant.
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    Riding Across the USA 2011 - Route 66 - Chicago, IL
    « Reply #3 on: August 20, 2011, 11:33:31 PM »
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  • This was what I’d told myself, “Unless, I get pay half of million dollars a year; I may live in Chicago.” To have a breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s was a nightmare!  No parking place.  We circled around the block twice, and I couldn’t help myself anymore, so I stopped in front of the restaurant to ask a man who dressed up as a restaurant employee, was sweeping the front porch.  “Where can I park?”, I asked. The man just smiled, and said nothing. I asked again, and he smiled again. I still felt very bad to my behavior until now, when I asked him, “Do you speak English?”  He didn’t say anything either.  But I really frustrated at the time.  If you had a chance to cruise around in this area, and you would see what I’d meant.  There was almost no traffic law.  Even all the public bus would cut you off to take the lane.  Taxi!  There was no word that I could use.  Finally, we found a parking place around the corner, and the price was seven dollars for one vehicle, and the parking controller asked us for fourteen dollars for two bikes.  I told him that I would pay seven dollars for both, because we would park two bikes in on car space, and we would not stay here long.  I guessed he could see seriousness, so he agreed!



    Food in this historic restaurant was different.  They are house-made, and I could say that they were not bad.  Nice atmosphere and employees were friendly.  Except, the service was a little bit slow, but might be, I was impatient at the time, due to all the annoyance that I had had in the last few hours.  After filling up the stomach, we decided to get on the “route 66”, and get the heck of here!  Even so, it took us almost half an hour to get out of Chicago downtown.  Too many constructions!  One thing I needed to mention was you did not need a map to ride on the route 66 in this town; Route 66 signs were posted along the road to guide you to the next turn.  Bravo!

      So far, we still didn’t use the Route 66 map or any Internet instruction yet.  Route 66 signs were posted on almost every corner at most intersections in Chicago and the next towns (Cicero, Berwyn).  I had felt the adventurous excitement in the air, and I bet my friend, Dean had the same, too.  After making a few stops to take some pictures, we got on the longest road “66” in Illinois is Joliet Rd., and I could tell that the Route 66 was getting thinner.



    I had had to open the map, and make some “wild” turns few times.  I had found out that Dean had no ability to help me to navigate at all.  I was feeling “lonely” in this task
      I didn’t tell Dean how frustrated I was.  I just wanted my friend to enjoy the ride.  A tough ride!

    To be continued...
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