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Sep
12
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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.

 Us.jpg

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.jpg

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.

 room.jpg

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.

 truck.jpg

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.

 USA map.jpg

Got the Map marked up with most of our last 2 trips on it except where the map didn’t spread far enough.


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