Well it's official, we've ridden the Skyline Drive / Blue Ridge Parkway, all 469 miles / 750kms of it plus the odd diversion or two to cater for detours and to get to hotels and the like and it was awesome from start to finish. Today was a big day with sunshine, rain, more rain, hail, more rain, sunshine, more rain and fog and what else .... oh yeah a cycle race in the heaviest of the rain which went for miles with over 100 riders to weave past. At least we had the right size vehicle to get safely past. The rain meant we didn't have to consider a lot of photo shots since we were dripping wet and cameras were stowed away as well as big numbers of Overlooks (Scenic View sites) which were overgrown ... as it had been for 30 to 50 years. The Department of the Interior must need some more funding to do the physical work instead of just cranking out the printed matter to say what could be seen if you could only see it. Sounding a bit grumpy, sorry. We have enjoyed the peacefulness of the Parkway combined with the magnificent ever changing trees, foliage and views. No matter the weather or light, or lack thereof the new green of so many leaves was incredible and then when the sun came out the new green became lime green and the dappled shade was magnificent and changed the whole context. It was like seeing a beautiful building suddenly flood lit which totally changed the look of it. As well as the fragrances which followed us all day and were beautifully sweet. We discovered that the cream flowers in the photo yesterday were magnolias as we saw many trees of them today with half opened flowers as yesterday as well as fully open. As to the day I'll let the pictures tell the story below.
The first Overlook we pulled into was the Grandview Overlook so I'll dedicate that to Grandma and Granddad Bransgrove (Normie's parents) their property was called 'Grandview' and now the sign off their home has been refurbished and Michael and Karen are the proud custodians of it.
We called into the Moses H Cone Memorial Park which is a massive Manor House on 3,600 acres which was deeded to the State in 1950. The ground floor is used as a raft centre but the exterior is sadly deteriorating. This is a side entrance.
We headed off the road to have a look at the Linville Falls but not knowing how long our day was going to take we only walked as far as the Upper Falls Overlook. By the end of the day we were glad that's all the time we took.
The Linn Cove Viaduct, very impressive.
View from the Craggy Gardens Overlook and that big black cloud chased us for the rest of the day.
Devils Courthouse on the left, we had ridden through a tunnel under this in fact we traveled through a huge number of tunnels today.
We did a U Turn to park in front of the Parkway sign.
And the final milepost. Yay, we did it!
Bits and Bobs:
We pulled off the Parkway at Little Switzerland to find a coffee and stopped at 'Big Lynns Lodge' but unfortunately she didn't serve coffee just breakfast and dinner with accommodation but she did point us in the right direction. She kindly allowed me to take a photo of her sign which appealed to me. We ultimately had coffee and fueled up at Grassy Creek after passing an 'Inmate Working' sign with the inmates and police with rifles in view. A bit daunting but probably very efficient.
Also at 'Big Lynns Lodge'.
Last Night's Accommodation:
Was the Best Western when we booked months ago but now the Quality Inn, Blue Ridge Plaza, 840 E King Street, Boone NC 28607
A lovely comfortable spot to retreat to last night. Room lovely, bathroom big enough to turn around in, everything nice and comfortable. Staff friendly and helpful and since it was raining when we arrived we asked if there was any undercover parking and were told to park under the front portico. By the time we went to dinner there were eight bikes in total parked there and there was still room to drive through. No restaurant but across the road from an awesome Mexican Restaurant.
So, back to the Blue Ridge Parkway and like yesterday the road was impressive in surface camber gradient and ride with the slight exception of surface (mainly in North Carolina) where there were a few (yes only a few) patches where the surface had a few challenges and that ultimately led to a couple of detours off the Parkway as a result .... see getting picky now. Like yesterday the ride was just beautiful and soul restoring and we both had a real sense of just breathing in deeply and relaxing. The view was one of luxuriant leafy green avenues almost covered in completely overhead and then breaking out into well grassed meadows as well as farmland. Where the Skyline Drive is all within the Shenandoah National Park the Blue Ridge Parkway has narrow strips of park only and most is within farms and road reserves so quite a contrast.
The abundance of grass meant we saw a number of deer and had a close encounter of the deer kind early in the day and still cant quite believe the logistics of it all. Norm was in the lead and rounding a right hand corner cut into the bank and there was a pick-up towing a van approaching from the opposite direction when a deer (apparently tearing along at big speed) leapt down off the bank literally in front of Norm, hitting the road slightly to the left of him and kept right on going to the other side of the road avoiding both Norm and the pick-up! Neither Norm nor I suspect the pick-up driver had time for things to register let alone brake. Still shaking our heads. Very happy we weren't a second further along the road and on the deer side of things I'd say the deer should get a great big gnarly 'Fleet of Foot Award' in the deer hall of fame!
And more positive news, photos. We hadn't long left Roanoke and came across this crossing of the Roanoke River. This is a power station (I think) not sure if operational or not at the base of a dam spillway.
Walking back across the bridge to the parking lot there were massive trees growing from the rivers edge and still towering above us on the bridge and were deliciously fragrant. A shot of the flowers on the tree. No idea what they are.
Next photo stop was a ride up the Mt Roan loop road on Mount Roanoke. Glad it was one way. The lookout was awesome but the fog was so thick even though we could see out the camera wouldn't focus through the fog just on the fog so no shot there but this is an example of the foliage as we wound further up the mountain, It was much sparser than that on the majority of the Parkway.
An example of a cabin which were once numerous along the Parkway. The sign is self explanatory.
Love these cute bridges under the Parkway. Seem the same right through and saw a double one over the road and railway line in one spot.
Coffee and a chat with the locals at Tuggles Gap.
Yes! We are in the land of the soaring eagles and here were two of four which were soaring out over the Fox Hollow Lookout. Does my soul good to see them. Reminiscent of what it is to ride the bike.
The Mabry Mill built in 1910 and operated for 26 years, supposedly the most photographed site on the Parkway.
Bits and Bobs:
A sobering reminder ... at a Picnic ground. Food for thought. Bear buffet?
Our lunch spot was an interesting store and had pipe tobacco all over the place. These are bags of it at $14.00 a piece.
Amongst the foliage over the last two days have been many rhodedenrom. Yesterday white, pink and purple, predominantly purple. Today white, pink, purple, yellow and orange, predominantly yellow and orange. Beautiful. These were in the car park at the Northwest Trading Post.
Last Night's Accommodation:
Days Inn Roanoke Civic Center, 601 Orange Avenue, Roanoke, Virginia 24016
Well last nights hotel was an exercise in what you get when you decide mainly on price. When we pulled up I said to Norm "Looks a bit scary" and he said "You see these places on the news channel on the TV". That said, it was old tired and rundown but a comfortable bed. Won't mention the bathroom ... but the water was hot. Broke out the old thongs rather than bare feet even though the carpet looked clean it was losing it's surface in patches.
Yep that really is the Shenandoah National Park entrance and the start of an awesome day. We left warm and uncomfortable humidity in Front Royal and climbed into deliciously cool fresh and fragrant mountains and so started an awesome experience as we explored the Blue Ridge Mountains. This was the second bonus of heading east. We had planned to do some 'leaf peeping' of the autumn colours along this route in 2013 but the day was rained and fogged out so had to take the route at the foot of the ridge.
The ride today was awesome. The road surface, camber and gradient excellent and the ride itself spectacularly beautiful. The foliage surrounding us changed from luxuriant and dense and leaves well developed with dense ferns and undergrowth to more sparsely treed with beginnings of leaf cover only as we climbed higher but without doubt it was all beautiful to be amongst and the views were incredible either across multiple ridges and mountains or what appeared to be from the sky down onto the valleys and plains below first on one side and then the other as we traversed the ridge. Hard to stay focused ... might be just as well we didn't get here in the fall, way too much to safely look at and I suspect a lot more to share the road with as well. The traffic increased as the day wore on but not enough to be a bother and with the speed limits (56kmh on Skyline Drive and 72kmh on the Blue Ridge Parkway) it could have been a bit frustrating. We enjoyed a bite for lunch at Loft Mountain Wayside then a hot chocolate at the Otters Peaks Lodge, both a welcome respite off the bikes as my knees were complaining from being bent up for as many hours as they were .... mind you the rest of the body was just singing with the ride!
Photos were a bit of a challenge. Early in the morning the fog on the land below hadn't lifted and there was a haze present most of the day and increased through the day and I didn't bring my camera which does a panoramic shot DOH! and without it any photos just don't do the views justice. Ah well. A collection below anyway.
View from Jenkins Gap Overlook.
Typical of so much of the roadway / vegetation we travelled through.
A cute little tunnel.
Dark Hollow Falls. It was a workout and a half to get there and back!
A not so timid little deer early into the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Peaks of Otter (well one anyway) on Abbot Lake.
Bits and Bobs:
An interesting way to view the countryside ..... well from the riders seat, not so much from the side cart I suspect. In the parking lot at the Loft Mountain Wayside car-park.
Last Night's Accommodation:
Hampton Inn Front Royal, 9800 Winchester Road, Front Royal, VA 22630
Nice comfortable room and bed and included hot breakfast. Shame there is no restaurant on site, we really didn't feel up to heading out once we had gotten out of the shower. Nice and handy to the motorway so makes for a quick getaway when leaving.
Shame we didn't have time to check out Dublin or more of Columbus it looked good but we headed off around 8.30am so an improvement on after midday yesterday and just as well since we had a lot of ground to cover including wanting to visit the Flight 93 Memorial which was the main reason we were heading in this direction. We got in at 6.30pm so an improvement on 9.15pm last night especially considering we had lost an hour with a time change as well. We felt a bit like being home today as we had at least four seasons from clear and cool to rain to warm and humid to very warm.
A fuel stop at St Clairsville found this massive public building (suspect a courthouse / municipal building) but a shame to see it deteriorating like a lot of the rest of the downtown area. Newer areas were in better condition but that may not last as the servo attendant told Norm the town was built on coal and people are being layed off as gas is taking over.
Barely in the gate at the Memorial and already we can see development ahead of us.
We missed out on seeing the Memorial in 2013 owing to the Federal Government shutdown of National Parks and managed sites. Grrrr. Anyway, we found our visit very moving and we were glad we came to pay our respects to the heros of Flight 93 who were regular citizens who decided they were not going to allow terror to overtake their country and made a heroic stand. Interesting to know that they had learn't of the devastation of the World Trade Towers and Pentagon by mobile phone calls and realised that their plane was heading for the White House. No mobiles allowed on Australian planes and yet even in 1998 when we first came to the USA you could make calls from plane installed phones.
First pullover and already somber reflection.
A huge amount of work has been done since we looked out over the site in 2013 and the site already has many spots for quiet reflection and has a quiet respectful feel about it. We're glad we came. Have to confess that in spite of seeing some lovely sights after leaving there even if we had time available I doubt we would have stopped to take photos. There was a lot to process. If we had more time available the audio tour would have been good, as it was we listened to some that others were listening to which gave great context.
A view from the Visitor Shelter at the Wall of Reflection back up towards the Visitor Education and Interpretive Centre under construction.
And a listing of names of all the passengers and crew who perished on Flight 93. Through the gate at the end of the wall is a large rock which sits on the site where the plane came to rest. Very sobering indeed.
Last Night's Accommodation:
Crowne Plaza, 600 Metro Place North, Dublin, Ohio 43017
What a lovely spot to just drop after a huge day. Comfortable and spacious room, heaps of parking, restaurants with a kitchen open until 11pm and even better room service for these two weary campers. Cheerful and helpful and friendly staff. To top it off a beautiful hot shower and comfortable pillowtop mattress ahhh.
Down to the bike shop soon after opening and Eric pulled the fuel pump off my bike and got out the new one to discover that instead of being supplied with the pump and gasket as they are supposed to be it had arrived short the gasket. Doh!
And here is my poor little bike in bits with the fuel tank sitting on the bench in front of it. But ... as luck would have it they were taking delivery of a new 950 this morning so they very kindly transferred the fuel pump and gasket from that onto mine and away we went so three cheers for the boys at DuPage Honda Yamaha. www.dupagemotorcycleswestchicago.com
We decided instead of doing two days riding in one to split it up given we were going to be getting on the road after midday and having cancelled last nights accommodation at Fort Wayne IN we also cancelled tonight's at Wheeling WV and instead booked at a hotel in Dublin OH on the outskirts of Columbus and believe me we are glad we did since we finally got into our hotel at 9.15pm tonight.
But to today. Once we were finally out of Chicago and surrounds we pulled off in Gary Indiana to get fuel and it was a sorry site with huge numbers of empty and decaying private homes and commercial apartments and factory and office sites and even into the town itself it looked very tired and in patches a little bit daunting. The two nice things were a good ol boy hanging out his pickup window at traffic lights wanting to know how old we were and how far we were going and he was impressed then told us his Dad had still be riding his bike at 80, Yay I thought. The reason we had such a long chat was that the local police were escorting heaps of students and families across the road for a graduation ceremony complete with cap and gowns so in spite of what we saw an element of hope.
From here we traveled through thousands of acres of picturesque farmland being prepared for the new corn crop. Just loved the many quaint farmhouses and hotch potch collections of silos and outbuildings as well as the ocassional delicious fragrance of something like a faint hint of jasmine. Seemed to be when there were low growing creamy green leaved bushes in the vicinity. No idea what they were. Then the closer we got to Dublin the more forest area we came across complete with signs for deer and some dead on the side of the road and others wandering along the fence, glad we got into suburbia before it was completely dark.
Around 6pm we pulled off at an interchange to get a hot chocolate ... didn't have any so Norm got a 'kill a brown dog' coffee and I got a chocolate milkshake which was so thick I couldn't suck it through the straw so took the lid off and tipped it up and sucked it out of the cup as I walked around the shop to get my knees moving again.
Bits and Bobs:
Check out the accessory Norm has added to our bikes, it's a camera holder so we can sit our cameras in them so we can grab them quickly even in gloves. He's used a couple of 'Bobber Daves Custom Cycles' stubby holders.www.bobberdavescustomcycles.com.au I suspect Dave hadn't anticipated his stubby holders would be traveling the USA. Ha ha.
Last Night's Accommodation:
Holiday Inn, 150 S Gary Avenue, Carol Stream IL 60188
An adequete spot to stay. Getting a little tired but clean and comfortable. Indoor pool available but couldn't quite face it with how cold it was outside. Two restaurants on site and large conference areas. Staff very helpful and found a room for us well before midday.
For those paying attention you will notice we didn't clock up many kilometres today and we're not in Fort Wayne Indiana tonight where we are supposed to be. DOH! So for everyone who has asked over time what we would do if we had an unavoidable hold up on our trip see below.
After having a trouble free ride yesterday, this morning shortly after we headed off my bike started to make a whistling noise which quickly worsened and we discovered the issue was with the fuel pump so we pulled into DuPage Honda and Yamaha and the decision was made it needed to be replaced. Unfortunately they didn't have a 950 in stock to swap one out of and we learnt there were only 3 in the country all in California. So bottom line plan it will be Fed Ex'd to the shop arriving hopefully before midday tomorrow and it will be replaced and then we will head to Wheeling West Virginia (a distance equivalent from Melbourne to Adelaide so a big day). We cancelled tonight's accommodation and booked into a Hotel not far from the bike shop. Fingers crossed it all comes together tomorrow and we are grateful we were close to the bike shop instead of in the middle of nowhere.
Waiting for the bike shop to open at 10am.
This spot probably looks familiar. We rode around looking at some very pretty areas revisiting Whealing for lunch which is where we used to get the train to from Chicago when we came to collect the bikes and then onto Geneva again for a coffee on our way back to our hotel closer to the bike shop.
Bits and Bobs:
And Norm spotted Mr Eggward (Humpty Dumpty) at Saint Mary's park on our way back to Saint Charles.
Last Night's Accommodation:
Hotel Baker, 100 West Main Street, Saint Charles IL 60174
Always lovely to stay here. Staff very friendly and helpful, deliciously comfortable bed, breakfast included and parking close by. Very quirky Art Deco design and decor and beautiful function rooms as well as a comfortable restaurant.
As you can see we've started our trip (barely) and at Hotel Baker in St Charles which is where we've finished the last two USA trips so it was nice to come to a familiar spot yesterday evening when we felt decidedly second hand. After a shower and walk we had a beautiful meal at the Italian Restaurant across the street then 11 hours sleep. Aaaaaahhhh! The bed as always was superbly comfortable and it's cozy and quiet. The weather is very grey and cold as it was yesterday, today being 13c but feels like 9c so pleased we brought sufficient bike gear to be warm on the bikes and also that we are heading slightly south as we head east tomorrow.
Lucky to have this shot. I dropped my camera in the cab we took to collect the bikes today so called the cab company (Fox Cabs) and they dropped it off at the hotel. God bless them! This is a shot of the A380 we travelled in from Melbourne to Los Angeles. It was huge and when we landed it was escorted from the runway into where we unloaded by cars with flashing red lights at each wingtip I assume to show the pilots and others just how wide they are. In spite of the size the take off and landing seemed short and effortless. Amazing!
The lobby of Hotel Baker, it is a great example of an Art Deco Hotel and quite a quirky place as well as jazz inspired. Our friends Neil and Marie would love the dining room complete with jazz background music.
And a farewell to the boys at DuPage Honda Yamaha L - R Mike (business owner) Robert (Sales Manger) Nola and Norm. They have been a great support and a lot of fun and we can thoroughly recomend them. http://www.dupagemotorcyclewestchicago.com/
One of the cute shops (we assume formerly a home) on 3rd Street Geneva.
And a little further out a typical home in the township.
And along Main Street.
Bits and Bobs:
After having littlies staying with us for a bit over a year we are missing the kisses and cuddles but thought it was safer to try this than attach myself to an unknown child in the street. Pretty cold reception actually.
Well after a lovely Farewell / Mothers Day lunch we headed for the train to Melbourne and the big bonus was that our grandson Ashley headed back to Uni with us so we had his company to Clayton. A treat! We've had a leisurely dinner and headed to our bedroom at the Holiday Inn and we head over to the airport in the morning and off again on the next adventure.
Made it to the station, L - R Norm, Nola & Ashley
Well we are at the point of hanging on by the fingernails to our sanity as we countdown to our departure from here on May 10th. As always it's a bonus to have people moving around here all the time with work but also have someone staying here in our absence of course.
Come and join us for our trip, the last to the USA on the bikes. We will be selling them before we leave.
Sunday 10th May 2015
V LINE TRAIN FROM TRARALGON TO SOUTHERN CROSS STATION
SKYBUS TO MELBOURNE AIRPORT
Monday 11th May 2015
FLY MELBOURNE TO LOS ANGELES. CALIFORNIA
FLY LOS ANGELES TO CHICAGO, INDIANA
SAINT CHARLES, ILLINOIS
Wednesday 13th May 2015
FORT WAYNE, INDIANA
Thursday 14th May 2015
WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA
Friday 15th May 2015
WHEELING, WV VIA THE FLIGHT 93 MEMORIAL TO
FRONT ROYAL, VIRGINIA
Saturday 16th May 2015
FRONT ROYAL, VA VIA SKYLINE DRIVE AND BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY TO
Sunday 17th May 2015
ROANOKE, VA VIA BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY & MOUNTAINS TO
BOONE, NORTH CAROLINA
Monday 18th May 2015
BOONE, NC VIA BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY & MOUNTAINS TO
CHEROKEE, NORTH CAROLINA
Tuesday 19th May 2015
CHEROKEE, NC VIA NANTAHALA GORGE & LAKE (WAYAH ROAD) TO HIGHLANDS AND THEN ON TO ATLANTA, GEORGIA
Wednesday 20th May 2015
ATLANTA, GA VIA TALLADEGA NATIONAL FOREST (SCENIC HIGHWAY) TO
Thursday 21st May 2015
MONTGOMERTY, AL TO
Friday 22nd May 2015
SPRINGFIELD, LA VIA BATON ROUGE, LA TO
Saturday 23rd May 2015
NATCHEZ, MS VIA THE NATCHEZ TRACE PARKWAY TO
Sunday 24th May 2015
TUPELO, MS VIA GRACELAND, TN TO
Monday 25th May 2015
MEMPHIS, TN TO
Wednesday 27th May 2015
NASHVILLE, TN TO
ST LOUIS, MISSOURI
Friday 29th May 2015
ST LOUIS, MO VIA MARVEL CAVE TO
Saturday 30th May 2015
BRANSON, MO TO
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA
Monday 1st June 2015
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK VIA ROUTE 66 (CLINTON & ELK CITY) AND PALO DURO CANYON STATE PARK TO
Tuesday 2nd June 2015
CANYON, TX VIA ROUTE 66, AMARILLO, TUCUMCARI & SANTA ROSA TO
SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO
Thursday 4th June 2015
SANTA FE, NM VIA ALCADE, TAOS, GREAT SAND DUNES NATIONAL PARK, TO
PUEBLO - COLORADO
Friday 5th June 2015
PUEBLO, CO VIA CANYON CITY, ROYAL GORGE, CRIPPLE CREEK, PIKES PEAK, COLORADO SPRINGS, TO
Sunday 7th June 2015
DENVER, CO VIA VAIL TO
Monday 8th June 2015
FREE DAY TO EXPLORE CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK AND ISLAND IN THE SKY MESA
Tuesday 9th June 2015
MORNING: MOAB TO ARCHES NATIONAL PARK AND BACK TO MOAB
MOAB VIA DOLORES (ANASAZI HERITAGE CENTRE) TO MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK
MESA VERDE, COLORADO
Wednesday 10th June 2015
MORNING – EXPLORE THE MESE VERDE
EARLY AFTERNOON - MESA VERDE (PARK ENTRANCE) TO MONUMENT VALLEY. LATER THIS AFTERNOON & EVENING. EXPLORE MONUMENT VALLEY
MONUMENT VALLEY TRIBAL PARK, UTAH
Thursday 11th June 2015
MONUMENT VALLEY TO PAINTED DESERT VISITOR CENTRE, THEN LATER THE SAME DAY RIDE FROM PAINTED DESERT VISITOR CENTRE TO
Friday 12th June 2015
HOLBROOK, AZ VIA FLAGSTAFF, HIGHWAY 17 AND THE VILLAGE OF OAK CREEK, TO
Sunday 14th June 2015
SEDONA, AZ TO
MARBLE CANYON, ARIZONA
Monday 15th June 2015
MARBLE CANYON VIA 89A (TO TRY AND GLIMPSE THE VERMILION CLIFFS) TO
BRYCE CANYON, UTAH
Tuesday 16th June 2015
BRYCE CANYON, UT TO
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
Thursday 18th June 2015
LAS VEGAS, NV TO
DEATH VALLEY, CALIFORNIA
Friday 19th June 2015
DEATH VALLEY, CA TO
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CALIFORNIA
Saturday 20th June 2015
DAY TRIP SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, RENO, TRUCKEE TO SOUTH LAKE TAHOE
Sunday 21st June 2015
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA VIA VIRGINIA CITY AND THE LAVA BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT TO
KLAMATH FALLS, OREGON
Tuesday 23rd June 2015
KLAMATH FALLS, OR VIA CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK TO EAGLE LAKE TO
IN: 23RD JUNE 2015
OUT: 24TH JUNE 2015
Wednesday 24th June 2015
EARLY IN THE DAY: RIDE FROM CHEMULT VIA CRESCENT LAKE AND ODELL LAKE TO DAVIS LAKE
EARLY AFTERNOON: RIDE FROM DAVIS LAKE VIA CASCADE LAKES AND SCENIC BYWAY TO
Thursday 25th June 2015
RIDE FROM BEND, OR TO
Friday 26th June 2015
RIDE FROM EUGENE, OR VIA FLORENCE OLD TOWN, OREGON DUNES, BANDON-BY-THE-SEA TO
GOLD BEACH, OR
Saturday 27th June 2015
GOLD BEACH, OR VIA THE REDWOOD NATIONAL PARK TO
Sunday 28th June 2015
EUREKA, CA TO
Monday 29th June 2015
SONOMA, CA VIA PETALUMA AND SAUSALITO TO
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Wednesday 1st July 2015
RIDE FROM SAN FRANCISCO, CA VIA HIGHWAY 1 (THE COAST ROAD) TO MONTEREY.
SPEND THE AFTERNOON LOOKING AROUND MONTEREY AND CANNERY ROW.
LATER THIS AFTERNOON, RIDE FROM MONTEREY TO
Friday 3rd July 2015
CARMEL, CA VIA MCWAY WATERFALL AND HEARST CASTLE TO
MOONSTONE BEACH (CAMBRIA) CALIFORNIA
Saturday 4th July 2015
MOONSTONE BEACH (CAMBRIA), CA VIA SAN LUIS OBISPO AND SOLVANG TO
SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA
Sunday 5th July 2015
SANTA BARBARA, CA VIA MALIBU AND SANTA MONICA TO
WEST COVINA, CALIFORNIA
Tuesday 07th July 2015
FLY LOS ANGELES TO MELBOURNE
Thursday 09th July 2015
ARRIVE IN MELBOURNE
SKYBUS TO SOUTHERN CROSS STATION MELBOURNE
V LINE TRAIN FROM SOUTHERN CROSS STATION TO TRARALGON
Well we had an absolutely awesome trip from start to finish and with this being our 5th trip OS on bikes I guess we would need to be getting the hang of it after all. Lot's of people make one of two comments.
1. I'd love to do that but I doubt I ever will - Our response- If you really want to you need to plan it to make it happen and you will .... and then work like mad for 40 odd years to make sure it does.
2. You did what? Man how lucky are you! - Our response - Yep and the harder we work the luckier we get.
Bit of a theme happening here I think.
The favourite part of our trip as always is being out and about together….being immersed in spectacular geography and on the bikes was a great bonus!
What worked well:
Packed less and still didn't use it all .... again. Better get it right next year it will be the last year in the USA and we will have extra bits to bring home!
Circling all destination towns on map so we could track weather from the weather channel and make decisions for more / less direct routes, also to divert off 4 lane highways to more rural roads and to key in other sights / must sees locals have told us about (often highlights of our day).
Norm arranged a birthday present for me (driving lights for my bike) so I could be seen and be safe and his new bike had them also, shame we had to disconnect his so they could be rewired but his headlight was awesome anyway so he was still very visible.
Thankfully our health was good and the old bodies didn't let us down. I had a restless nights sleep a few nights before we got to Chicago to return the bikes and apparently slipped a tendon to the wrong side of my shoulder which wasn't too comfortable but I could comfortably ride which was just as well and it's now sorted.
Last minute failure of my GPS before we left for our trip and difficulty by the bike shop getting another mount for my bike saw me without a GPS for a few days until we came across GARMIN HQ... who says there isn't a God! They were brilliantly helpful and nothing was a bother. I would NEVER consider such a trip, especially into and out of large cities as we do without one especially if on your own unless you want to quickly go round the bend ... as in the insanity one.
Had a number of comments of how visible we were on the road with the yellow 'rain coat covers' we have over our suitcases. Good feedback.
The roads overall were excellent, surface and camber good and even the older ones maintained well. Travelled over more than 100km on gravel roads this year ... what were we thinking? Thinking we wanted to get to or from somewhere we couldn't otherwise do is what. VERY variable surfaces on these as you would expect .... enough said.
Norm solved an age old problem of flat feather pillows suffocating him and not being comfortable......shove one pillow into the pillowcase of another pillow. Worked a treat!
Balanced Rock-heard about it from the locals. NO signs until almost right on top of it. The Canyon area surrounding this was literally in the middle of a lot of fields of corn. Bizarre.
What didn't /could improve
Some things we have little / no real control over other than feedback to hotels and that is often like a 'talk to the hand ' experience. Only 2 hotels on the whole trip had luggage stands for 2 suitcases. Seriously? I don't think I've ever seen a couple travelling with 1 suitcase and it sort of defeats the purpose of having a nice armchair if it's covered with a suitcase.
While I'm at it I think a lot of hotel bathroom installation people must have chiropractic businesses as a sideline for all the overstretched necks arms and backs from trying to access a toilet roll while using a toilet!
Enough whingeing. Small things only but both things from the customers perspective which would be simple to fix with little cost.
I need to try and review rooms better also so we can hopefully have enough floor to stretch out on to do our morning flexibility exercises to keep everything where it should be and be willing to work like we need it to.
The blog was on a new format and wasn't as user friendly as it should have been so I'm hanging out for the capacity to upload multiple photos at a time among other things. Still working on that.
I used my Samsung Galaxy 10.1 to do the blog and we're still getting used to each other so not sure what the final outcome of that will be .... we will see.
Reasonable size but only one chair, had to use the floor for the second case when we didn't have one.
What was different / better than last time / expected
The USA economy (and citizens) both seemed more positive.
The people in business clearly wanted to be there and there were fewer retirees working in fast food stores and looking like they wanted to be anywhere but there and overall apart from really small communities, there seemed fewer empty shops and big shopping centres generally had more parking spaces being used and more people in shops.
Truck configurations were also vastly different to what we saw last year. Not sure if that is differing state rules or just more practical application since the GFC.
Last year there were predominantly tandem drive and tandem axle semi's. This year there were countless tri-axle semi's and heaps of flat top open trailers where we hardly saw any of those last year and they were almost always loaded.
Like in Australia in both the USA and Canada there were many young people from other countries, university students and others of similar age, working in seasonal workplaces and apparently there are many adds in Universities of work coming up in University break times, I assume it is the same in Australia. Heaps of Aussies working in Whistler and other places which are snow ski sites as well as summer attractions.
Conclusion - the economy has improved, infrastructure works are increasing (and road maintenance was definitely more noticeable this year) and fewer operators doing what has always been done i.e. taut liners from point to point. We talked to truckers at roadside stops and roadhouses but not enough to really know.
A more creative combination than was usual to see last year
Planning for 2015 USA.
Well underway so we can be poised and ready to swoop on specials for airfares!
Travelling part of the way again this year with Sharen and Ken our usual travelling companions so we are looking forward to that.
Have just finalised the route for 2015 as opposed to theory and making sure we can take advantage of 'must sees' along the way, now to getting onto booking accommodation.
Got the Map marked up with most of our last 2 trips on it except where the map didn’t spread far enough.