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Jun
30
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We headed out in the cool of the morning and did some back tracking off the Oregon Trail so we could see some other sights we had planned to and we will share them with you over the next few days. Sorry to say I have yet to figure out how to crop pixs on the Galaxy so some shots wont be as good as they could be.

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The first is a view across the high plains dessert to the mountains we rode through most of yesterday afternoon and again this morning. It was relatively undulating here but had previously been full of craggy peaks and canyons but there was only an emergency lane to stop in and speed limit 121 kmh so thought best not to.

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Just a few hundred metres before our fuel and lunch stop Norm spied this and went back to take a few pics. It had a sign on the back which said "Caution vehicle travels at 5mph over bridges".It was 65m long and Norm cocouldn't f find anyone to ask about it.

 

 

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After miles and hours of prairie land with undulating land and grass we all of a sudden came across bigger hills and ponderosa pines. Didn't realise we had been missing trees so much but the reality is that we have been without a tree other than cottonwood and willow trees along river / creek beds since we left Chicago so over 3,000 kms ago.

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A model of a mammoth at the front of the great Mammoth site at Hot Springs where in 1974 they discovered the remains of a great sink hole where to date they have found the remains of 47 mammoths. The model out the front looked more impresive than the skeletons in the museum.

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This is just after our entry to the Wind Cave State Park. There are impressive caves underground and impressive animals on top of the ground and remember these are all in the wild, not a zoo or enclosure.  Awesome! 

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Deer.

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Bison which have ben reestablished after they were decimated by early settlers. Awesome to see.

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Prarie dog. Look like meerkats. Don't know if they are the same or not. 

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Mountain sheep.

Last night's Accommodation: 

Hilton Garden Inn, Casper,

A very comfortable spot to drop. Spacious room, lovely comfortable bed and restaurant on site so no need to head out again to get a meal. Included wifi, parking and tea coffee and cold drinks in foyer. Breakfast not included but reasonable cost and good meal. Good value.

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Jun
29
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After a relaxed breakfast with our hosts we headed off in comfortably mild weather. Through the day the temperature increased greatly but the incredible wind across the high plains dessert cooled things down but made it feel like we worked hard to get here.

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We started out by visiting Fort Laramie which was impressive, this is the Cavalry Barracks (1874).

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On the way back to the main road we snapped the original Platte River Bridge which came about compliments of the California Gold Rush.

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Next we visited Register Cliff State Historic Site which is sandstone cliff where emigrants carved names and dates of their journey.There was also a trading post here for some years, hence the hole blown out of the cliff to store goods in a stable temperature.

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Now to some Wagon Ruts, forget the other photos of wagon ruts and swales THESE are wagon ruts carved in sandstone near Gurnsey. We had lunch in a little bar and grill at Gurnsey and were relieved to see the elevation of the town was 4,500 feet plus. We had both been quite breathless walking up the hill to the wagon ruts.

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From here we continued to climb and headed for Casper with a side diversion to see the Ayres Natural Bridge west of Douglas. After seeing only sandy and light clay coloured soil all day it was a surprise to start winding down to the water and start to see red soil.

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Once we hit the car park we could have been in Central Australia.

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And this is the Natural Bridge. It was a beautiful cool spot with lots of families relaxing and sites booked in family names. A number of multi-generational groups obvious. Felt good.

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And last but not least we made it into Casper in time to visit the National Historic Trails Interprative Centre which was just as well as it is closed tomorrow. It was a lovely space and had some great exhibits and even if you hadn't seen or heard anything about the Oregon Trail it gave a good snapshot view of it and had interactive exhibits like crossing a river in a wagon and riding in a stage coach (simulated but good) as well as putting that in context with modern times. Worth the visit. This is an impressive larger than life sculpture in the car park.

Bits and Bobs:

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Well Australia didn't discover B Doubles check these out........having said that I may be embarrassing myself as I know I had old Uncle's who used to drive Bullock Wagons but they are no longer available to ask and I don't have the photos!.

Last night's Accommodation: 

Tea Kettle Ranch B&B, 9634 Van Tassel Road, Torrington, WY 82240

What a treat it was to retreat to this wonderful restful place. Comfortable and spacious accommodation, comfortable bed and we were made to feel very welcome by our hosts Isabel and Calvin. The view from on top of the world (or so it seemed) was breathtaking and it was a treat to learn much about the local history and area as well as what we still have to come. Some great tips also. Included delicious steak dinner and pie for sweets, breakfast, wifi, parking and country hospitality. Would be a lovely spot to chill for a few days.

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Jun
28
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The thumbnail shot is Chimney Rock with another cliff behind.

Well today was without doubt a day for landmarks as we started to move from the plains into the sandy hummocks and hills and heading toward more rugged lands ahead. I'll let the pictures tell the story.

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The first one is Courthouse & Jail Rock at East Camp Clark.

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And this is Chimney Rock which has been named a National Historic Site and it indicated to the travellers that the monotonous flat plains were about to change and become more rugged terrain.

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Sue (Travel Agent Extrordinaire) commented a few days ago that it looked like the spire of the Church of Christ Centre at Indpendence might have been modelled on it and this is it....what do you think?

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Another National Historic Site Scotts Bluff.

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Scotts Bluff. This is to the right of the Mitchell Pass which ran through the middle of the bluff.Originally wagon trains travelled around the south face of the bluff which was a lot longer trip so when the Mitchell Pass was discovered it reduced travelling time greatly though for the life of me I don't know how they found their way around the hundreds of sandy hills and valleys. This particular landmark is called The Saddle.

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Our park entry fee meant we could ride pretty much to the top which we didn't expect. Awesome!

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And the route back down through tight winding corners and tunnels.

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And this is the route through the Pass.

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In search of the Robidoux Road reconstructed trading post which we finally found.

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The view back down the valley from the trading post. We continued on from here through to the Carter Canyon Road and back to the tarmac. The big treat was being totally by ourselves and having eagles soaring above our heads. Incredible.

 

We had a late bite of lunch then headed for our lodgings for tonight. Been a comfortable day for travelling. The strong wind we started out with has lessened and the temperature has gone from chilly to comfortable. Very nice.

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A view of one of the canyons as we climbed to our accommodation tonight.

Bits and Bobs:

Well after travelling through miles and miles of corn fields and a few other crops (beans for one) for many days we have only seen corn where there is irrigation today and now rolling grassland. Tonight we are in Wyoming on the top of a windswept hill surrounded by lush grassy slopes with rugged canyons back down 4 - 500 feet to the plains and the township of Torrington. This growth is un-seasonal, the grass would normally be much sparser and a lot shorter as this is high plain dessert country but the view we have is following unusually heavy rain. I'm glad we saw it.

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A shot of the least servo looking servo we have fueled up at so far.

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And this is the old pump inside the shop.

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And a snake crossing the Robidoux Road in front of Norm. They both stopped and looked at each other for a bit then it slithered off the road. About 6 feet long.

Last night's Accommodation: 

Hampton Inn Sidney, 635 Cabelas Drive, Sidney, NE 69162

La Quinta Inn & Suites, 2600 Eagles Place, North Platte, NE 69162

A lovely comfortable spot. Large comfortable bed, spacious room, included breakfast, parking, wifi and breakfast. Just across the street to a steak house / bar with great service and a discount to hotel patrons. Good value. Pleased to report the tornado warning just led to a lot of wind rain thunder and lightening.

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Jun
27
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The thumbnail is a shot of the Scouts Rest Ranch Barn which is on Buffalo Bills Ranch which he built as a place to retreat to after his Wild West Shows to relax.

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This is the house on the ranch.

We followed a country highway today which meant we were for the most part on the Mormon Trail so on the north side of the Platte River rather than the Oregon Trail south of the river and didn't cross the river until we started heading for Sidney late in the afternoon and after getting a little rain and hail on the way in we are now on Tornado Watch (in Cheyenne County) and Norm has left the bikes under the entry portico and in gearand he could hardly stand up against the wind before he came back in. That was around 5.30pm.

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This is a quirky bike Norm found in a bike shop at North Platte when he went to buy some plexus (polish). He said it was at about 2 feet longer than any motorbike he has seen. Can't imagine what it would be like to get that around a corner!

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We stopped for a coffee in a town with a cute set of shops and Norm couldn't resist taking a shot of me before I got the sun hat off. Looks pretty ridiculous with all the rest of the bike gear but keeps the sun off the nose neck and ears.

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We travelled through very sandy areas today which consisted of flat land and heaps of sand like sand dunes but covered with grass. We were trying to find the Caifornia Hills being some wagon ruts over the sand hills and there had been heavy rain last night and the road we had to go on had large deposits of sandy silt in patches. I went through the first but when I saw the second just past the parking spot I decided I'd gone far enough when I saw Norm's bike nealy take a nose dive. Here we are back at the turn off and note the mud much heavier on Norms tyre.

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We descended onto some flat land again through a sandy valley and this is in the Ash Hollow area.

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Soon after this we rode into the Ash Hollow State Park and had a good view down onto the surrounding countryside again as well as finding this historic little stone school. Very cute.

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The early emigrants used landmarks to plot their course by and this was called Frog's Head Bluff and also Indian Lookout Point.

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Another land mark, these are called the Ancient Bluff Ruins as this is what they reminded the travellers of.

Bits and Bobs:

More trains today, heaps and long. The longest one we measured was 2.6kms and had 3 engines at the front and 2 in the middle. As we were heading into Sidney tonight there were a big number just sitting queueing.

Following some signs we saw in the cafe cum bar cum servo we had our lunch at today.

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Last night's Accomodation: 

La Quinta Inn & Suites, 2600 Eagles Place, North Platte, NR 69101

Out of town but good facilities. Included breakfast, parking and wifi. Very comfortable and good value. Just off the Parkway but cannot hear the traffic. Town a few kms away but a number of cafes which deliver to the Inn.

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Jun
26
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We started our day with a visit to the Hastings Museum which had a good exhibit relative to the early settlement and the Oregon Trail as well as the struggle by the Indians to maintain their hunting grounds and lifestyle. Very difficult times. It had a lot of other displays as well and was impressive. 

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This is a sculpture at the museum of two brothers who were fleeing an Indian attack during the Indian wars (1864 -65). They were struck by arrows and fell from their horse and left for dead and discovered the next day alive. Both lived to an old age.

This was a shot of a sod (earth block) blacksmith shop which was a replica of that at Fort Kerneau which was the first fort actually established ro protect emigrants on the Oregon Trail. Norm deleted it because he thought I had already loaded it onto the blog. 

 

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A very impressive memorial and museum to the Oregon California and Mormon Trails and the Pony Express . Impressive. The Mormons were coming from further north to escape religous persecution and all the trails met around the Gothenburg area along the Platte River. It literally spans Interstate 80.

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A Parkway rest stop where I had an afternoon nap leaning over a table since I woke a few days ago with a couple of huge ants crawling up my arm when I was napping on the grass. The rest area is well layed out and our road authorities could learn a lot. Having said that 2 trucks had to pull out after pulling in because there was an abundance of caravans and RV's so not unlike home there, just better facilities if you get to stop. Having said that this was a small stop compared to many we have seen.

We headed into Gothenburg to see a restored Pony Express Station. It was beautifully restored and the volunteer there was a great guide. We are gob smackd that the Pony Express only ran for 18 months and yet has such a prominent place in history. Perhaps as a tribute to the endeavour of young kids wanting to carve a future and name for themselves in life and history. Needless to say the 3 men who set the company up never made money as they had a massive infrastructure to develop and maintain and never recovered a return on their investment. Private enterprise can be brutal. Unfortunately Nom deleted our only photo.  Doh!

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Aware that while we had riden through miles and miles of corn over the last few days that the terrain was changing and the silos which were common place beside rail lines and on private properties may be about to diminish Norm took this as we were leaving Gothenburg. Soon after this the corn fields diminished greatly and we started seeing sandy hills not that far into the distance.

Tonight we are in North Platte which is a quirky place, the township seems to be indiscriminately scattered around a whole lot of intersections of major roads and then it occured to me that since the Oregon Trail times that its likely what it has always been.

Bits and Bobs:

More trains - As we head across the plains we are accompanied by massive trains often several kms long. Today we stopped to take a photo of some silos at Gothenburg and one went past so we counted 2 engines at front, 104 carriages and another engine at the rear. We rode past another 1.5km long with 2 engines in front and 92 carriages. Incredible scale.

Some statistics - The scale of the emigration west was awesome. Around 300,000 on the Oregon Trail with 1 in 17 deaths along the trail and I cannot remember the number on the Mormon trail, considerably less but they experienced a 1 in 10 death rate. Travel up to and along the Platte River area was comparatively easy with reasonably gentle gradients apart from into and out of water crossings and they hadnt reached the mountain passes and as yet neither have we but I suspect we are looking forward to it with a lot less trepidation than they were.

Last night's Accomodation: 

Holiday Inn Expess Hastings, 3605 Cimarron Plaza, Hastings, NE, 68901

Out of town but good facilities and adjacent to a shopping plaza and literally around the corner from a Mexican Restaurant where we had a delicious dinner. Included breakfast, parking and wifi. Very comfortable and good value.

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Jun
25
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Both the thumbnail and the following photo are a sample of some of the substantial buildings we saw in Beatrice.

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lFelt like a reasonably large but enjoyable day today. We left Beatrice and headed for the Hollenberg Station which had been like an old time truck stop plus accommodation. Mr Hollenberg had followed the Californian, Australian and South American gold rushes before setting up here with his wife. Obviously he had realised that the way to make money out of large movements of people was to supply them with what they needed and they prospered.

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A shot of the station house which also served as a change station for the Pony Express in the18 momths it was in operation during 1860 - 1861. They were made up of mainly young men and they rode flat out for 10 -15 miles and changed horses twice then they were replaced with a fresh rider. We saw an add looking for potential riders 'looking for thin wiry young men, peferably orphans and prepared to die any day'.

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From here we headed to the Rock Creek Station Historical Park which was the overall highlight for the day. 

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This is a shot of some wagons which were at the Pony Express Station where Wild Bill Hickock killed the owner of the station.

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And we saw huge wagon ruts / swales here.

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The black Creek crossing was very rugged and the station owner ultimately built a toll bridge which made him some money and life easier for travellers.

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We checked out a Railway Museum at Fairbury. This station controlled a massive network from 1852 - 1980. It was based inbthe old station building.

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This was in the telegeaph room. Check out the recessed typewriter beside the morse code telegraph.

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The Town Hall.

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And a quirky mural in the town. There used to be a circus based in thethe town and this is a tribute to it.



Bits and Bobs:

Eagles - We have seen lots of eagleas soaring above our heads but so far they have eluded attempts to photograph them. Norm came upon a groupof 10 spread over the road around some road kill and was first on the scene to witness them all lift off, absoloutely awesome, I was just pleased to see them all get out of his way. We also saw a pair sitting on top of a power pole today. Wow.


Last night's Accomodation: 

Holiday Inn Expess Hotel & Suites, 4005 6th St, Beatrice, NE, 68310.

Out of town a bit but good facilities. No restaurant but got pizza delivered for dinner. Comfortable room included breakfast parking and wifi. Comfortable all round and good value.

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Jun
24
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The thumbnail shot is a view looking towards a couple of uncharacteristic buttes in a scenic shot from the road approaching the township of Blue Rapids KS.

We have enjoyed our day today, enjoyed the ride and seeking out what was difficult to find and just the experience of the pioneer and that of small town America. 

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'Old School New School'. A shot just south of the township of Westmoreland KS of a memorial where the wagon trains used to stop for a break, they were known to spread out far enough to cover the whole area covered by the town so an impressive area.

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We lunched at Blue Rapids in the 'Branding Iron Cafe' and forgot our plan to share meals which we should have done! The Cafe was on the square surrounding the huge roundabout in the middle of the little town which boasts it has the first roundabout in Kansas.The town is a little tired and seems to be inhabited by people stuck somewhere between the 70's and 80's going on the hairstyles and lack of hair colour of the women we saw and the general attire of the reidents. I feel a bit bad about saying that but it felt like a step back in time as it has been in small country towns we have encountered which we don't experience in Australia. Interesting, and i

n the middle of the roundabout here is a cute very little building which is the Police Station. Cracked me up.

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From lunch we headed for 'Alcove Springs' which was another favourte camping spot on the trail and marked the end of the tallgrass prairie of Eastern Kansas and entered the shortgass plains. We travelled over 20 miles in total over large loose dusty gravel roads to find this and felt very gritty by the end of it but glad we went. The shot is of Norm doing what Norm does, if there is water running he MUST sample it. The springs have never been known to run dry even in the worst Kansas droughts.

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And the bikes as we were about to head back onto the highway. No prizes for guessing who went second...and I hung back to avoid Norm's dust!

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Marysville was a treat and this is a viewof a small town America Street. Quite a bit larger than many we had seen and obviously doing a lot better than some of the outlying area.

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And a Marysville memorial to the Pony Express, loved this. Norm feels a real affinity with the job done by them and what we have done over many years for our customers and Nation.

Bits and Bobs:

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More rail lines. This was a quick shot from the rail bridge as we headed into Marysville and as we came out there were 8 lines of trains lined up and 2 moving off. A part of heading west is hearing the mournful sound of the trains all through the night as they continue their task of supplying the Nation with all they need.

Before I forget - Roadworks Speed Limits - So much more practical and sensible than at home. On the parkways (freeways) where speeds are between 60 - 70mph the Roadwork speedlimit is between 50 - 55mph (80kmh +) with a sign a few miles out saying it is ahead, then about 1/2 a mile out warning then there it is with a sign (in Illinois) 'Hit a worker $10,000.00 fine and 14 years in jail' (in Kansas) 'Hit a worker $10,000.00 and loss of license and in Nebraska fines are doubled in Roadworks areas'. People behave well through roadworks probably because they are well targeted and make sense! On more minor roads they are sometimes marginally reduced.

Last two night's Accomodation: 

Senate Luxury Suites, 900 SW Tyler Street, Topeka,KS, 66612

Was once an impressive bulding with generous sized rooms but is becoming very tired and worn out. Nice and clean and comfortable but in need of refurbishment. Comfortable bed, included breakfast wifi and parking. Nice and handy to the State Capitol and walking distance to a couple of dinner options. Got what we paid for but not complaining.

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Jun
23
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The thumbnail shot is Christ the King Catholic Church in Topeka where we called in to light a candle to comemmorate the 20th Anniversary of Danny's death today and then went and had a couple of beers and reminisced about the Danny we knew and the one we didnt get a chance to discover. RIP old Mate.

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The Kansas City (KS) Skyline compliments of the internet (not Kansas City MO) which is just a few kms back but also impressive. We have seen glimpses and more of this over the last couple of days and whenever we could see a great shot for a photo we were on parkways (freeways) so couldn't stop.

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Just like all those emigrants through the 1820's to 1860's or so who had to get themselves sorted to get on the road so do we and here is Norm tying down the cases onto the bikes so we could get on our way. Thankfully much cooler today (at least earlier in the day) so more comfortable for travelling, even put the lining into my jacket for a bit through the day.

Today was a day of mixed fortunes and after trying to find a number of significant sites have realised that probably a combination of time, progress (well change anyway), vandalism /graffiti and probably a loss of corporate knowledge in counties and communities that a number of what were significant sites have been lost or at least no longer recogniseable. A bit sad. Having said that, once we were into more country areas things were easier to find and well signed so we are hopeful of finding some at least of what we are looking for.

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This vast wheat field was a camp site and a short distance further on was where the Santa Fe and California Trails separated from the Oregan Trail. The interprative signs shared many glimpses of what life had been for many people on the trail. This is called Gardener Junction not surprisingly just out of Gardener.

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And a bit further on we called into a landmark for the Battle of Black Jack and found an area of preserved prairie grass which was full of wildflowers and massive wagon ruts from wagons heading along the Santa fe Trail. It's a shame that they look so insignifìcant in 2D. I had to climb down into and out of them and they would have been above waist height. While I went trekking in the wagon ruts Norm stayed to talk to another biker, a returned veteran (Afgahnistan) on his way to a veterans day in Kansas City. He introduced himself as Redneck, also embroiderd on his bike jacket. He had grown up in the area and had some chilling stories to tell of the beginning of the Civil War in the area which preceded the Battle of Black Jack. As we headed off he wished us all the best and told us to keep an eye on the weather as it had cooled down a lot and a rapid drop in temperature often precipitated tornados. Mmm.

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It's official we are in Kansas City KS and Dorothy still isn't here!

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The Capitol Building, Kansas City.

Bits and Bobs: 

I've just loved the huge scale of the infrastructure and in particular the magnitude of the rail freight task and volume of freight moved in this country.The massive iron horses which propel these great trains are awesome to see and moving through Chicago then Kansas City I've been struck by what is possible when vast distances need to be negotiated (as in Australia) combined with a huge population to be supported plus an earning capacity and taxation base which can support such investment. Riding through Kansas City today and watching massive trains heading in all directions looked like a giant train set. Incredible!

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This was a massive rail freight yard literally across the road and railway line from the Gardener Junction site so I guess it still is a Junction and it was huge with 4 of these massive container cranes loading and unloading containers on and off trains.

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This was a train stationary on the track which stretchd for several hundred metres.

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A quirky sculpture at the door of our accomodation tonight. Very cute.

Last two night's Accomodation

Higher Ground Hotel,

A quirky building which began life as an office building in the 1960's and then converted into a hotel in the early 90's which makes for an interesting mix of spaces and decor and an unexpectedly welcoming feel. Good size room, huge comfortable bed, generous lounge area, included continental breakfast, parking and wifi. Lovely garden to relax in and helpful staff. Will include a couple of pics of the garden as well.

 

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Jun
22
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Now is the time to tell you why we are heading west on this particular route. As children we both grew up on western movies but were intrigued by the 'Wagon Train' series and after seeing the Interpretive Centre in Portland Oregon in 1998 were even more so and when we were looking at heading to the west coast this year the Oregon Trail, where the settlers heading to Portland and beyond to settle and farm the land had traveled seemed the obvious choice. Having said that we are more on the side of tourists than purists so will be making our choices to suit us which also includes zig zaging off the trail to see other things we want to see.

Independence MO was a jumping off point for the trip to start as the River boat captains didn't want to go further up the Missouri River to bring supplies for fear of running aground on shifting sands so a good landing site was found at Westport (eventually to be renamed Kansas City) so this was where people landed and others gathered as they prerpared for the trek. There are apparently 5 good springs surrounding the town of Independence and these were the areas the emigrants camped until they accumulated their supplies, fited out or purchased their Wagons and gathered together in groups to set off as a wagon train. The numbers were huge and a steady stream continued until the Central Pacific and Indian Pacific rail lines joined up to make it possible to cover the same distance in a week in greater comfort and safety and a whole lot less inconvenience.

There were another 2 trails which headed off from here over time and they went to Santa Fe and to California taking around 2 months each but the most arduous and dangerous was the Oregon Trail taking 5 months through rugged terrain and through often hostile Indian territories. From reports we have seen the Indians were generally not fussed with the emigrants while they stuck to the treaties organized but reacted swiftly and harshly when the treaties were broken. The wagon trains had to head off as soon as the grass started to turn green to have feed for animals, optimise chances of travel conditions and to have the best chance to make it through the mountain passes before the snows which would mean they would starve to death. High stakes! 

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A wagon in front of the National Frontier Trails Museum which was the pick of what we saw today. We had a map marked up with a number of sites, most of which proved impossible to find in spite of the GPS. We also found most locals we asked couldn't direct us either so have made the decision (sort of) that when a site doesn't give us the actual address in our GPS rather than a choice of a few which might be close we won't bother especially if the weather remains hot and humid as it has been. Mid 80's today so more friendly than yesterday but trying and getting the bike gear on and off and slow travel searching without much air circulating to cool us down ..... puffing , panting etc.

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This is the site of the original Westport Landing. The riverboats must have been powerful as the current today was very fast and they would have been coming up against it.

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Wagon swales (tracks / ruts) still (just) in an area originally designated for a school to be built so has never been developed. We also checked out a CreekCreek crossing site and a camping area which would have been the campsite for the first night out.

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From our walk last night, this is the Independence Courthouse which sits in the middle of the square which in the Oregon Trail days was surrounded by blacksmiths and all manner of suppliers of food and goods needed for the journey and local farmers were raising mules horses milking cows and oxen. Private enterprise at its best (one can only hope).

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And this is the World Headquarters of the Community of Christ adjacent to the Mormon Visitors Centre. The sun glinting on the spire looked incredible. 

Bits and Bobs: 

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We have encountered many of these particularly through the CBD areas of towns without many traffic lights. They mean that everyone at a crossroad must stop and you leave in the order you stopped in. The same applies to flashing red stop lights of which there were many in Jefferson City yestrday around the Capitol.

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A ride on lawn mower with a difference for anyone who is old enough to remember the old push mowers. This one at the door of our hotel adjacent to the garden which didn't have any  grass to be mown apart from on the front street.


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Jun
21
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The thumbnail

 shot is a look at the Capitol Building (Jefferson City being the State Capital of Missouri) and a couple of bikes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A

 bit of disappointment for the trip so far, yesterday in spite of Doris Day saying she would meet us in St Louis she failed to do so and we didnt see Dorothy anywhere in Kansas City with or without her ruby slippers...okay, probably the wrong Kansas but we were hoping!

 

 

 

 

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The Governors Mansion in Jefferson City (havent got a clue really but it is near the Capitol Building and looks good enough to be that).

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And a quirky building we encountered on our way out of town.

We had a hot ride today (96F) but it is officially the first day of summer, combine that with suffocating humidity and I was happy to get off the bike every time we did and have been guzzling iced water ever since and now we are chilling in our hotel room until we head out for dinner when it will hopefully be a little cooler. Actually I've been chilling, Norm has been refitting the pockets on the suitcases so they fit the sissy bars better.

The terrain has been a mix of rolling small hills and big stretches of flat land today with lush tree growth and undergrowth between and the roads we have travelled on have been a step down from the parkways we have been on up until today so we have travelled through a lot of family farm size America rather than huge commercially owned America when it comes to the farming.

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We stopped briefly in Sedalia which was a snapshot of old time USA and there was something going on with streets closed and police and firefighers out in force. This is a view of one of the firefighting appliances which was huge and the wheels weren't super singles (dual wheels on the drive) but they were larger than we use in Australia. Interesting. By the way the building behind is the Sedalia Trust Building which is literally falling to bits and there is a scaffolding type arrangement covering the street......to protect passing citizens as things rust or deteriorate and drop off I guess. 

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The Truman Home - Harry S Truman having been the 33rd President of the USA which is literally across the street from our hotel.

Bits and Bobs: 

I saw several signs today advertising the '21st Annual Testicle Festival'. I kid you not, I'm not making this up! 

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We came across some State Police in Sedalia who had a contraption which moved 5mph to a dead stop with people belted in with a seat belt tying to encourage people to wear them which they struggle to do apparently.

Last two night's Accomodation: 

Double Tree by Hilton Jefferson City, 422 Monroe Street, Jefferson City, MO 65101

We really liked the stay last night. Room was comfortable, bed beautifully comfortable, very nice restaurant on site, comfortable lounge downstairs , free wifi and underground parking and friendly and helpful staff. Good value for money considering this wasnt a lot more expensive than where we stayed the previous 2 nights.

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A shot towards the entry.


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Jun
20
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Photo deprived today, too many other considerations which is a shame. The terrain progressed from flat broadacre farming on a large scale to gently hilly tree covered terrain and the temperature felt marginally cooler as we climbed up off the valley land though still hot and humid which is taking a bit of getting used to. We are hoping some of that is our bodies trying to acclimatise from our southern winter selves to northern visiting selves and our toleration level will improve...though we're not convinced but that said we won't be letting it spoil our enjoyment of the trip.

We headed off in reasonable time before the temperature was very high and decided to see if we could source a generic GPS holder for my GPS unit. The GPS unit I usually bring died just before we left home so bought another but between when I bought that and when I asked our bike guru over here to source a mounting bracket for it they were no longer listed as available here. As plan B we decided to ask the kids to post a bracket from home over to here and in the meantime as plan A see if we could source something which would work. The third shop we tackled before we left Springfield we got a generic holder which Norm is now in the process of fitting. I'll charge the unit up each night but it wont have access to power through the day and it remains to be seen if I can tap the screen for instructions through the plastic cover but at least if we get separated I'll be able to navigate my way to where we are going....in theory. Mmm.

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By the way Graham M, this photo is for you of a Victory we saw in the shop where we found the bracket...and some mesh gloves which are much cooler

Norm is really enjoying the new bike, it gets along well, runs smoothly and is both lower and less heavy than his Triumph Rocket at home and the rear tyre is also not as wide or have it's own idea of where the bike should go so will work well to down size to that when he is ready (not yet) but having said that he is having some teething troubles which being in the trucking business we are well aware is part and parcel of new vehicles until they get a few miles on the road before they are sorted. Yesterday morning his clutch linkage dropped off, thankfully as we were leaving the car park so he braked and stalled the bike before he got on the road then re-attached it adjusting it up again a little later until he was satisfied with it.

The second thing, he spent the day yesterday dealing with a slipping grip handle on the left grip as the glue to attach the grip heater didn't take. He ended up with 100mh tape on that until he can get it dried out and get some super glue on it.

The third thing, when we got in this afternoon he discovered he had no headlights or driving lights so he has been trying to sort that after a phone call to the bike shop. He now has headlights but there is a short somewhere in the driving lights and he has used the only spare fuse he had so it's off to a bike shop in the morning to get that sorted by the looks of it so I doubt we will get to see much of Jefferson City other than when we are on our way to the bike shop and heading off. Ah well, you can't see everything and we had a great ride today and in spite of forecasts didn't get wet which was good since it poured rain in Springfield overnight.

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Norm sweating his butt off in the underground garage doing the autolec thing.

Yay!!! Norm has just arrived back in the room with a triumphant grin. He found the short and has taped it up but will still try and find some fuses in the morning.

Last two night's Accomodation: 

The State House Inn, 101 East Adams Street, Springfield IL, 62701

An average hotel. Comfortable public areas and effective air-conditioning but the room had obviously previously had smokers using it and it still smelt strongly of that. Lovely shower and the bed (on my side) was comfortable and Norm's sagged towards the edge. Got what we paid for but it was close to the Capitol and a couple of walking distance dinner options.

Forgot to take a photo and couldn't get one from the website.


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Jun
19
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We did a bit of exploring today and since we had come directly to here yesterday to avoid the rain we went back through Petersberg and Havana which we had missed yesterday.

Yesterday the view was largely of huge areas of broad acre farming with cropping predominantly corn which stetched for as far as the eye could see in all directions. Today the terrain was slightly more undulating than yesterday and largely smaller land holdings but still just as picturesque. I'd just been thinking there must be good access to water seeing all the extensive irrigation systems in place and then we crossed the Illinois River....and enough said. It is huge and has massive levy banks each side.

The area we explored was the area Abraham Lincoln grew up and lived in before he headed to Washington as President. Springfield is a stately city with many grand buildings, Petersburg looked a bit tired to me as did Havana. Rushville we thought was the prettiest town we  ravelled through.

Not sure what the temperature got to today but it was again oppressively hot and humid and a challenge in staying hydrated on the bikes.

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The ride into Lincoln's New Salem Village was reminiscent of the heavily wooded Forrests we rode through in the UK. It was magnificently lush and ultragreen. Just beautiful and probably gives a glinpse of how things looked long ago before clearing of the land for farming.

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This was the home Abraham and Mary Lincoln bought in Springfield (half its size when they bought it and before their family grew) and lived in it for17 years.

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A bonus for us was finding another Frank Lloyd Wright designed building (Dana-Thomas House) which we just managed to get in to see. Loved it!

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On our way to dinner we decided to take a shot of one of the 2 rail lines which run through the city. Neither have fences beside them, apparently Citizens know to be responsible about where they walk. Go figure!

Night before last night's Accomodation: 

Hyatt Place, 5225 South Harper Avenue,Chicago, IL 60615

A nice spot to stay, plenty of room in our suite. Staff very friendly and helpful and the bed was sublime. 24 hour cafe on site and bar as well (not sure if that was 24hour or not). Lots of places to sit and chill out and relax and breakfast to start the day.

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Jun
18
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NB. Not happy with the f

ormatting on this post. Loaded from a different spot. Won't do that again and will  c

orrect this when I get access to a computer, so probably when I get home.

 

 

 

The thumbnail image is the bikes parked up where we had a cuppa this arvo. The empty block where the trucks park is a dustbowl in spite of earlier rain. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We left our hotel by taxi and headed into

the train station in Chicago and for anyone who thinks we take our lives in our hands by riding motorbikes would no longer think so if they  had been in the cab with us! We were well and truly focused throughout the whole ride as we darted from one lane to another at a feverish pace and just about got launched each time the brakes were applied, oh and the indicators were only used twice for the whole trip and that was to change from one road to another. But, enough of that, we got the Union Pacific train to Wheaton then another cab marginally less exciting to the bikeshop to collect the bikes and walked in a couple of minutes before the skies opened up and did it pour!

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Norm getting his new bike sorted. He traded last years bike on this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had looked at the forecast before leaving the hotel and there was a band of severe thunderstorms and lightening sweeping in from the north west and heading towards the south east of Chicago and on down south to where we were headed. The temperature plummeted to a tolerable level and we fiddled about and didnt head off until the rain had cleared and were accompanied by incredible black and grey storm clouds for most of the trip and lightening and pouring rain to our left, right and behind us but we got a slight sprinkle only and ended up before getting toSpringfield seeing a temperature gauge saying it was 90F so very unfriendly when stoppd at traffic lights and roadworks.

 

 

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My bike loaded up in the workshop before we headed off.

 

 

The most impressive sights for the day:

 

 

 

Seeing Norms new bike a Yamaha Silverado (1700cc) which looks great

 

Seeing the birthday present Norm arranged for me - driving lights fitted to my bike

 

Jet black skies spread out as far as we could see in front of us with black columns of rain in patches and an eerire pink sky ahead of us underneath the low cloud ceiling as we headed south west and were grateful that each time it looked like we were heading right into the thick of things the road veered in a different direction so we skirted around the storms through miles and miles of undulating Illinois farmland.

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At one point we stopped to put the waterproofs back on and the sky above us had rolling grey and white clouds progressing in a circular direction above us and slightly to the left. The centre of the circle looked empty to the sky above but there was no tornado tail and since there have been many destructive ones in the last few days further south we got the hell out of there. Oh yeah and did we mention there have been floods and earthquakes as well, it's all happening here!

 

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The Illinois State Capitol Bulding in Springfild as we walked through the heat to dinner around 8pm.

Bits and Bobs:

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Saw this sign at a servo where we fuelled up this arvo? The only moonshine I've heard of is the illegal stuff so this intrigued me and check out the fuel prices and that is a per gallon price obviously.

 


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Jun
17
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We have spent most of the day exploring the Museum of Science and Industry which was great.  From there we headed to the lakeshore for a walk through the park to Promontary seriously hoping my Iback to the hotel which is in a pretty alive community with lots of families evident and many apartment buildings.

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Typical of  a lot of the apartment buildings we walked past today.

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 A view inside a German U Boat at the museum. This was both crew quarters as well as torpedo storage and also where the front 2 torpedos were fired from. Talk about multiskilling.

Still having IT difficulties with the Samasung Galaxy and soooo will wish I'd brought my Sony Vaio,  it took heaps less time to do what I'm trying to do here.  Bugger!  


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Jun
16
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Well after around 22 hours from leaving Tullamarine we checked into our hotel in Chicago. The Qantas flight went well and we got a bit of sleep and napped on our way from LA  to Chicago but soooo looking forward to an early dinner and off to bed.

Still having some IT issues and when sorted will load a photo at LAX which apart from being huge is also undergoing continuing major works.

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A view from the American Airlines lounge where we chilled for a couple of hours after taking just over an hour to get through border control and customs.

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And a shot in the lane behind our hotel.


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Jun
15
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The thumbnail shot is me burning the midnight oil trying to learn how to drive the Samsung Galaxy which will replace the Sony Vaio notebook this year and yes that is a "not happy" look on my face!

Well I finally got my bag packed this morning much to Norm's horror and that only finished as all the family was arriving for our farewell BBQ lunch. To quote Norm on the train ride down to Melbourne "I just want to go on record to say that is way too late to be packing". I agree whole heartedly but there was just way too much going on this week and damn, forgot to pack my bathers and other unnecessary stuff so will just have to accumulate as I go. 

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A parting shot at the station and our train approaching behind

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We stopped off at Clayton for a hot chocolate with Ashley since he was busy studying for exams. A bit blurry sorry,  the cafe owner was a bit distracted with the football.


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Jun
10
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Come and join us for the ride as we explore the country and infrastructure of the USA and Canada and like us be grateful our home will be full of people in our absence.

Our Itinerary

Monday 16th June 2014

Depart Melbourne    Tullamarine                                             

Arrive in Los Angeles

Depart Los Angeles                                                 

Arrive in Chicago Ohare

Chicago  IL  USA  60615

 Wednesday 18th June 2014 - Pick-up the bikes today

Springfield, IL, 62701 USA

 Thursday 19th June 2014 - Free day to explore

 Friday 20th June 2014

Jefferson City, MO, 65101  USA

 Saturday 21st June 2014

Independence, MO, 64050  USA

 Sunday 22nd June 2014 - Free day to explore

 Monday 23rd June 2014

Topeka,  KS,  66612

 Tuesday 24th June 2014

Beatrice,  NE

 Wednesday 25th June 2014

Hastings, NE

 Thursday 26th June 2014

North Platte, NE 69101

 Friday 27th June 2014

Sidney  NE  69162

 Saturday 28th June 2014

Torrington  WY  82240 

 Sunday 29th June 2014

Casper, WY, 82601

 Monday 30th June 2014

Custer, SD 57730

Tuesday 1st July 2014 – Free day to explore

 Wednesday 2nd July 2014

Gillette  WY  82718

 Thursday 3rd July 2014

Cody   WY  82414

 Friday 4th July 2014

Yellowstone National Park,  Wyoming  82190

 Saturday 5th July 2014 – Free day to explore

 Sunday 6th July 2014

Jackson Hole, WY 83001

 Monday 7th July 2014

Pocatello,  ID  83201

 Tuesday 8th July 2014

Twin Falls ID 83301                   

Wednesday 9th July 2014 – Free day to explore

 Thursday 10th July 2014

Boise  ID  83709

 Friday 11th July 2014

La Grande  OR  97850

 Saturday 12th July 2014

Pendleton  OR  97801

 Sunday 13th July 2014

The Dalles  OR  97058               

Monday 14th July 2014

Portland, OR, 97205

 Tuesday 15th July 2014  Free day to explore

 Wednesday 16th  July 2014

Seattle  WA

 Thursday 17th July 2014

Take the ferry from Port Angeles, WA 
British Columbia V8W 1N8

 Friday 18th July 2014 - Free day to explore

 Saturday 19th July 2014

Take the BC Ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen, BC

Vancouver  BC   V6B 2A8

 Sunday 20th July 2014 - Free day to explore

 Monday 21st July 2014

Whistler  BC  V0n1b4               

 Tuesday 22nd July 2014

Bridge Lake, BC, Canada

 Wednesday 23rd July 2014

Jasper  T0E 1E0

 Thursday 24th July 2014 - Free day to explore

 Friday 25th July 2014

Field,  BC,  Canada

 Saturday 26th July 2014

Banff  AB  T1L 1H8

 Sunday 27th July 2014 - Free day to explore

 Monday 28th July 2014

Calgary   AB

 Tuesday 29th July 2014

Waterton Lakes National Park, AB T0K 2M0  Canada

 Wednesday 30th July 2014

Browning  MT

 Thursday 31st July 2014

Great Falls MT 59404                  

Friday 1st August 2014

Billings MT 59105               

Saturday 2nd August 2014

Medora, Theodore Roosevelt National Park,ND

 Sunday 3rd August 2014 - Free day to explore

 Monday 4th August 2014

Bismarck Nd 58501                

 Tuesday 5th August 2014

Fargo Nd 58102                   

 Wednesday 6th August 2014

Brainerd MN 56401                   

Thursday 7th August 2014

Minneapolis  MN  55404           

 Friday 8th August 2014 - Free day to explore

 Saturday 9th August 2014

La Crosse Wi 54601                                   

 Sunday 10th August 2014

Madison Wi 53703

 Monday 11th August 2014

Saint Charles Il 60174                 

 Tuesday 12th August 2014 - Return the bikes today

Depart Chicago Ohare                                            

Arrive in Los Angeles

Depart Los Angeles                                                 

Thursday 14th August 2014

Arrive in Melbourne


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