Wednesday, August 6, 2008

8-5-08 Day 39 Clarion, PA to Norwich, CT The end of the adventure!

Left the hotel about 7:25 am. The skies were heavily overcast and the air was thick. The weather report was calling for heavy rain later in the day so we knew we had to outrun it. We headed east on 80 and the skies got clearer as we progressed east. Temps started in the 60's and got up to the low 80's with the sun out. I got Sirius radio before I left and they have 24 hour traffic & weather for the major cities. I was listening to New York to find out which way we would go. We had 3 choices. 80/81/84 through Scranton, 80/278/TappanZee or 80/95 GW Bridge which is the quickest if traffic isn't a problem. The report said the GW was clear eastbound so we went for it and it was perfect. Westbound was backed up to past co-op city. Mark & I parted company in Bridgeport for him to go up to Prospect where he lives. I continue on 95 and of course they closed 95 at the Saybrook bridge due to an accident so I had to go up 9 and cross at the Goodspeed and take 82 home. Got home about 4:30 after stopping to visit my mom. I'll put together 1 more post with statistics and thoughts on the trip but it'll take a few days to get to that. It's always nice to be home!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

8-4-08 Day 38 South Bend, In to Clarion, PA and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Left the hotel about 7:20 and headed east on route 80. Another nice day for a ride. We took route 480 into Cleveland off 80 and got to the Hall of Fame just before lunch. It is built downtown right on Lake Erie next to the Browns football stadium. The architecture is very unique. It's facade is 5 story glass triangle and parts of the building are cantilevered of the main structure. The steel structure that supports the glass makes an interesting interior. The only pics we have are of the bldg. and lobby as they don't allow cameras in the exhibit area. This is another place that became overwhelming. There's so much to see you get to a point of sensory overload. We spent about 5 hours there. They have large sections devoted to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Doors. It's a 6 story building (floors 3 -6 are smaller as the glass triangle goes up) with the 5 & 6 floors set up as special exhibits that can change periodically. The 3rd is the restaurant with tables inside & out, the 2nd is the entrance lobby, ticket counter and merchandise store and the lower level is the main exhibition hall. They don't allow cameras in the exhibit areas only the lobby so no pics of stuff. Left the Hall about 5 and wanted to get away from Clevland so we wouldn't have to deal with traffic. It was such a nice evening we road til 8:30 and got to Clarion, PA. Should make it home tomorrow no problem.

8-3-08 Day 37 Milwaukee to South Bend, IN and the HD Museum

Got out of the hotel about 8 am and went to wash the bikes because the HD museum doesn’t open until 9. Got to the museum a little after 9. Of course motorcycles get to park front and center so we are early enough to park near the door. It’s also Sturgis time so I think that helped to keep the crowd down. The building just opened 3 weeks ago on July 12. It’s 130,000 square feet on 2 floors, so think about it as equal to a typical Home Depot or Lowes in size. They used all galvanized exposed steel for the frame of the building to signify the frame of a bike holding it’s components. They also suspended the second floor from the roof so that they didn’t have to deal with columns getting in the way for setting up displays on the ground floor! It’s on a 20 acre site in downtown Milwaukee along a river which is where one of the restaurants and the bar are facing along with outdoor seating. They also have a river walk as part of the Milwaukee renaissance. In addition to the museum there are 2 other buildings. One is the archives from which they pull the artifacts kept in storage for the exhibits and the other is the restaurants, bar and of course museum store for Harley memorabilia and clothing! It’s quite a story of how the company has evolved over the last 105 years. Admission is $16 and I highly recommend the extra $5 for the self guided MP3 player. We spent over 6 hours there (could of spent more time but you get to the point of overload) which included a quick lunch. A large portion of the bikes are unrestored with almost no miles on them which was surprising. The founders had the foresight to put aside many bikes they built as well as the engineering work and some extra parts as well. These bikes are not pristine as they obviously were not stored carefully as they have scratches and dents but they are complete and original. I've attached a few pics. The first is the outside of the bldg., the next 2 are what they call bike #1 and the last is a shot of the group of bikes from 1906 to 1948. This is all upstairs along with the engine room and a room about racing. The main floor has bikes from 1950 to present, an area about the AMF years and how the company was bought back, an area about R & D and some bikes like Evil Knevils jump bike, replica bikes from the Easy Rider movie along with a few odd bikes people have personally customized. We left about 3:30 and wanted to get east of Chicago so we didn't have to deal with Monday rush hour traffic. Well it didn't matter much as due to construction and half the lanes being closed we had traffic anyway but I'm sure it was less then tomorrow mornings rush hour. We made it to South Bend, IN at what we thought was 8pm but found out we just crossed another time zone and it was 9pm. We decided to skip dinner as it was to late to eat and had a couple Fig Newtons instead. We are thinking of swinging up through Cleveland tomorrow to check out the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame before our final push home.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

8-2-08 Day 36 Fargo to Milwaukee

On the road at 7:35 going east on 94. Weather was sunny and about 60 when we left and warmed to the mid/upper 80's. Fargo, ND is only a few miles from the Minnesota border so we cross in a few minutes and notice that the speed limit is down to 65 from 75 so we set our speed to about 70. Both MN & Wisconson are farm country but the major crop here is corn not wheat and there seemed to be less livestock. The road here has gently rolling hills and curves and as we are now an interstate that has exits we don't have to have any stop & go through town. We're not in the rural west any more so we won't see tractors, sprayers, cultivators or combines on the road any more! Mark actually heard a commercial on the radio for the new CASE combine! We stopped for lunch in St. Cloud, MN and stopped by the Harley dealer. This is a large dealership with a ton of people working and lots of customers. They had 16 techs working in service. Every Saturday they do a cookout which is probably why it was so busy. They had a huge inventory of new bikes in the showroom and outside as well as the biggest motorclothes display I've seen. They also do internet based sales on Ebay. After lunch we put a bunch of miles on heading east on 94 into Milwaukee where we had a reserved a hotel. It was a 600+ mile day. Tomorrow we're going to the new Harley museum that just opened July 12th. Our plan is to get east of Chicago tomorrow afternoon so we don't have to deal with that traffic Monday morning.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

8-1-08 Day 35 Williston, ND to Fargo

After yesterdays late start, getting in late and losing an hour on the time change we don’t get on the road this morning until 8:15. We continue on 2 east which is a good road. About 20 miles out of Williston it becomes a 4 lane divided highway. Why, I don’t know because it doesn’t have very much traffic and it's still just farms. There are sections under construction and they just move the traffic over to the opposite pair of lanes and make them 2 way. They have added a new crop in this area and that is sunflowers. We are told they use it in bird food and it pays more then wheat for the farmers. We have lunch in Devil’s Lake and call the Harley shop in Great Falls an make a 3 pm appointment for oil changes as we’ve put on another 5K since reaching Alaska. This is a small shop but a busy one with 5 full time techs and in the summer they have an oil change guy. We get in and out in a little over an hour. The tech noticed a bolt missing on the bracket that supports my Y-pipe and put one in. From Great Falls we head south on 29 to Fargo and pick up 94 east and go a couple of exits and pull off and get a hotel room. Tomorrow we are shooting for Milwaukee as we are planning on going to the new Harley Museum on Sunday.

7-31-08 Day 34 OLD RED is Dead

Old Red can't answer the bell today. We determined last night that it's not the compensator that's making noise. It's most likely a main bearing. It's running but the noise continues to get worse after we put on a new compensatoreliminator so rather then possily destroy the bike, Tom's elected to use his HOG benefits and call Road America for a tow (see pic) to the closest Harley dealer which is Great Falls, MT. From there they'll ship it home and Tom will fly. Mark & I will stick around until the arrangements are complete and then we'll head east for the ride home. Tom starts making calls and by noon he's in the tow truck heading to Great Falls and Mark & I head east. We decide to ride for a while and then stop for lunch. We get to Havre which was where we intended to stop yesterday and have lunch. The weather is in the low 80's and sunny and it's great riding as is the road. From the pic you can see the road just goes straight for miles at a time. It's either wheat, hay fields or cattle/horses grazing as far as you can see in all directions. We notice that sometimes some wheat fields are barren. We learn that these are the fields the farmers get paid by the government not to plant. We're told they make more on these then if they were planted. The speed limit is 70 and most folks do more then that but traffic is very light. We settle on a cruising speed of 75. After a couple tanks of gas Mark and I realize we are getting better mileage at this higher speed. 50 mpg vs. 42! We end the day in Williston, ND and we've gained back another hour so we're only 1 hour behind now!. We hope to be in Minnesota tomorrow. Stay tuned as the adventure continues.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

7-30-08 Day 33 Eureka to Shelby, MT

Up at 6 and on the road at 7:10. There are some spotty light showers but decide to go without rain gear and see what happens. It's about 80 miles to the entrance to Glacier National Park and at about 50 miles we see dark black clouds ahead and we've hit some wet roads off and on so we pull the trigger and stop to put on the rain gear. This doesn't take long because we've mastered doing it on this trip! Of course now that we are geared up it probably won't rain. That's usually the best deterent! We continue on and arrive at the park entrance and pay our $12 admission. The Ranger cautions us that it's windy at the top. The "Road to the Sun" is 52 miles long and it's 30 miles to the top from the west entrance. The road is barely 2 cars wide and has numerous turnouts for picture taking/sightseeing along with campground areas. About 6 miles in a light rain starts and comes and goes! The road is winding it's way up. It has a 40 MPH speed limit which only works for a little while til we catch up to a line of cars! We decide to drop off the pace a little as no one is behind us and stop to grab some pics. You can see from the pics that the road has some steep drop offs and their isn't much of a guard rail. It's an 18" stone wall that's in bad shape in many places or non existant. We continue on until we come to a line of cars where there is a construction zone with alternating one way traffic. Of course it strats raining again and this area is about 2 miles long and only gravel. So much for cleaning our bikes! After about 10 minutes we start moving at about 5 MPH. We get through this section and from there to the top the weather started improving as I think we got above the clouds. The top is called Logans Pass as you can see from the pic. There's a visitor center there and fortunately bathrooms! Behind the visitor center is a plaque put there by the United Nations in 1976 declaring this area to be a Biosphere test study area. Now we know what they do with there money! I'd like to see the data they've collected! The weather has cleared up but haven't seen the wind the Ranger mentioned.
We start down the other side of the mountain and the views are equally spectacular. Once we get down the last couple miles is flat along a lake. We see white caps on the lake and the wind is blowing harder then when any of us have been on a bike. We are getting tossed over 3 - 4 feet when the gusts come and we're laying the bikes over at a 15 degree angle to fight the wind. We get out of the Park and theres a gas station and Lodge there so we pull the bikes behind the building and go in for lunch. Tom's bike is still making noise so we start calling Harley shops to see if they have a compensator. Unfortunately out here they are not set up with the parts locator network like we have at home so you have to keep calling dealers. The Harley shop in Bismark, ND tells us that a bike builder in town might have one. We get a hold of him and he has a used one which is the best we can do at this point and hope Old Red can make the 700 miles to get there. After lunch we gas up and head out the local road to pick up route 2 east. The road to 2 is very windy and it's still very windy. To add to the challenge a few miles down the road it is being chip sealed. Chip sealing is when they spread liquid oil/tar and imediately cover it with pea stone gravel. This is not very motorcycle friendly cause of the loose gravel so we have to go slow. At list it's not raining! Did I mention this road was windy and windy. We are getting blown around like crazy. It is blowing between 40 -50 MPH! Some times the wind is at our backs and we're using the brakes to slow ourselves down cause the wind pushs so hard . This section went on for about 12 miles until we finally came to where the consytruction was and then we had alternating one way traffic to get through. We get through this area and find the junction of 2 which is a great 2 lane highway. It's flat and straight as far as you can see. The wind is at our back and off we go. This is farm country and I mean BIGGGGGGGGGGG farms. It's miles between houses and barns and lots of cattle. We are going between 65 - 68 as Tom doesn't want to push Red to hard. We are getting passed because people just fly down the roads here. About 10 miles past the town of Cut Bank Tom radios that his oil light has come on and he stops immediately. We pull over on the side of Route 2 which has about a 4 foot shoulder. He has plenty of oil in his tank but it doesn't seem to circulate. We check the in line screen for the lifter galley and fiind it clogged with fine filings but their not sticking to a magnet. He cleans the screen and changes the oil filter. (See pic) He starts the bike and the oil light goes out. It still has the noise. The thought is that the compensator issue is allowing the primary chain to rub on the rotor cover which is making the filings. We decide to get to the next town, Shelby, and Tom has an idea on how to tighten the compensator enough to get to Bismark where there's a replacement. Shelby is about 10 miles ahead and we pull in and check into a hotel. Tom & Mark start pulling the cover off again to attempt the repair. The wind is still blowing about 50 MPH making it difficult to work. The hotel parking lot layout didn't make it available to get on the backside of the bldg to block the wind. Tom amazingly has the tools to take this apart but the socket & breaker bar for the compensator nut isn't enough to loosen the nut. There's a diesel repair shop next to the hotel so Tom goes over to see what they can do. The owner of the shop, Don, happens to be a part time bike builder and understands exactly what Tom needs. He lets him borrow an electric impact gun and gives him some washers to use as shims on the compensator. He gives Tom a ride back up the hill to see the bike. He says he'll be back later for the impact. Tom & Mark get the nut off and Tom puts his shim idea on the compensator and puts everything back together. He starts the bike and the noise is still there. Don comes back and says those compensators always do that and he thinks he has a conversion kit to eleiminate the compensator and that will cure it. It must be fate that we happen to find this guy who has the part instead of 600 miles away. He goes to get the aprt and Tom & Mark start to take things apart again. See tomorrows entry for the rest of the story as I need too get some sleep.

I haven't mentioned this before but we all have CB's which is a huge help. It allows the leader to let the others know if we're turning, stopping for gas, etc, but more importantly you can alert the group to potholes, road debris, construction zones etc. Also with more eyes on the road others can relay if they spot something especially the wildlife and to just talk about stuff we see.