2 Wheels across the States

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Written by Jan Larsen

CEO at BUZZ.travel powered by World Travel Nation

Published: Oct 10, 2019

Dear Community, here we go again!

Our CEO is back on track, this time across the United States.
Of course on top of a motorcycle, because you don’t change a winning team…

We keep you posted about the progress, if there are questions just let us know and reply to the posts.

Taking off in sunny Florida, we start with his Introduction:

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That’s travel too – adventure travelling!

The Beast has been broken in (first 1,000 ml), first oil change done; time to hit the road!

A guy having a party with his new big love – Road Glide Special with a few extra parts to make the wheels spin.

The party: 17,000 km (11,000 ml), 50 – 60 days around the US.

National parks (Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone),
vibrating music cities (New Orleans, Lafayette, Clarksdale, Vancouver, Nashville),
scenic routes (US 1 West, US 1 East, Mojave desert, Rockies),
dirty biker bars, a lot of curious, friendly and communitive Americans – and a few a…… as well (can’t always avoid those!).

Let that engine heat up, and them big Rinehart pipes roar!

Keep you folks posed, adios!

Kissed the Sweat hearth good buy at headed North; West across the Everglades, then Interstate 75 and after Tampa Hwys.

On day 3 made it to New Orleans, LA.

It has been a great pleasure riding though AL, MI and LA. Nice landscapes, very friendly people – and every second guy above 50 seems to have been stationed or know someone who was stationed in Germany (my buddy rides a HD with German plates) – “oh, my uncle’s first cousin’s son, Joe, was in Heidelberg; he loved the German Frauleons” – these talks often take place when we seek shelter against the heavy rain under the roof of a gas station.

A couple of months ago; I rode through Portugal and Spain – saw a bunch of churches. But Deep South beats that – 10 houses and you have 3 churches! Of course, not as big as the catholic ones; everything from large assembly houses to small shacks. Praise the Lord!

New Orleans

French Quarter, Bourbon Street – world famous.

Synonym for jazz, crazy party – and for touristic prices.

Young boys trying to make a buck by playing drums on a plastic bucket.

Would like to go there again and explore other parts of town.

Les bons temps rouler

What La Scala, Milano is to opera, Grand old opry, Nashville to country, Clarksdale, Mississippi to the blues; Randols, Lafayette is to cajun music.

Dishes the size of a small truck, cheap beer, pretty waitresses and music that gets even the most boring guy to tap his toe in his big oil worker safety boot.

Cajun is sung in French – old French. Let the good times roll – les bons temps rouler!

The Mighty Mississippi

The fourth longest river in the world (3,700 ml / 6,000 km).

Still an important water way in the South East of the US. And for us boys; the river where cotton was shipped to the South, where gamblers and professional girls worked on the big paddle steamers.

The Delta / Clarksdale

From Natchez, MI though the Delta to Clarksdale.

Farm country; GDP / head only 60 of the US averages. Poverty index 19.8% against 12.7% for the US. So, the US trade deficit is not because these folks buy too many fancy German cars.

The Delta has a rich history. The blues was born here – it grew up in Chicago (when the blues guys from the Delta got to the big city the bars were too noisy; nobody could hear anything – the blues became electronic (I recommend Buddy Guy’s autobiography, When I left home).
Interesting for a white boy from Europe to see the Delta.

Clarksdale is where Muddy Waters was born. A small city of 20,000. Was looking forward to listening to some fat blues in the smoky bars. Lousy planning from my side; the good people of Mississippi go to Church on Sundays instead of the blues club.

Only one joint was open; too touristic, too white – no blues no feeling!

From Clarksdale, MS through Shreveport, LA to Abilene, TX.

From Clarksdale, the birthplace of the blues – to Abilene, one of the railway stations where the cowboys took their herds to ship the cattle North; a cowboy city. Not only the physical distance of 650 ml separates the two places.

When you get to Texas, they flag not only the Old Glory, as in the East. It is the Old Glory and the Lone Start together!

Saw the first open range cattle (not TX Long Horn though!), the first old oil pumps and wide-open ranges – and several half-deserted towns.

Met and spoke to interesting guys:

  • Will at the fast-food restaurant; a happy Vietnam veteran; “they shit on us when we got back from Nam; now they are treated as heroes – that’s good.”
  • Bill at “Woody Bar”; a biker from Colorado; “can I buy you guys a beer?”
  • Joe at the gas station in Hamburg (2,200 inhabitants); “yes this Hamburg is small”.
  • Jim at another gas station; “yeah man, we need big trucks in TX, to work in the desert.”

Open range cattle, oil pumps (many not in use anymore), small partly deserted villages, a road bar.

Carlsbad is an oil city; lousy hotel, double price; a lot of demand from oil workers.

About 10 miles West you turn right and head towards Sitting Bull Water Falls. 25 miles down the road you find the Falls. The small side road is fantastic; desert, rocks, cattle, a cowboy who just lassoed a cow!

I was never able to figure out why they call it Sitting Bull Waterfalls. Sitting Bull was a Sioux Chief from Dakota – not from New Mexico (marketing gimmick?)! Anyway awesome!

Carlberg Caverns and off though the desert to El Paso

Back on the Highway and then off again to the Carlsberg Caverns.

The carverns are about 750 ft below ground and are about 260 m years old. 1923 the cavernes were opened to the public. As in all US National Parks – very friendly, attentive and helpful rangers. Again, as in most US National Parks, a healthy balance between easy access to the public and preservation of nature.

On the Highway again and towards West – through the desert to El Paso, TX. After 10 ml we see a sign “Next Service 117 ml” – tank only 60 pct full!! So, 30 ml back to fuel.

Great ride through the desert; but don’t get a flat tire here, bro’

El Paso; hundreds of car repair shops at the outskirts. We didn’t manage to get to Rio Grande in the city (border); only saw a piece of the river where both sides are US American.

Silver City, NM / Gila Cliffs

The weather is spectacular. The sun is shining, suddenly heavy rain, then after 15 minutes sun again. Or the sun shines; in an area with a diameter of a mile the sky is black, and rain starts to pour down.

We got to Silver City, New Mexico. At the hotel me meet a biker, he invites us to a biker party. My riding buddy was happy; finally, he could use his biker colors from the old man’s club he is riding with in Berlin (a few public servants, the local milkman, a retired police officer, 2 women without bikes etc. – worst crime; a parking ticket.

As we turned up; the party was thrown by one of the 1 percentager MCs in the South West; we quickly slid out the back door; and found another party on Labor Day.

The next day Gila National Park; the photos show the fantastic scenery.

Amazing Arizona; From Silver City, NM to Slow Low, AZ

We took the long route; and got richly rewarded. What a scenery? Arizona has some of the most amazing landscape in the US.

First, the desert of New Mexico, a couple of small half-deserted villages and then after Globe along HWY 60 the fantastic mountain scenery. The photos speak for themselves.

Slow Low is a small tourist town at the foot of the White Mountains – and the Apache Reservation.

Rodeo with the Apaches

Monday, Labor Day, we rode down hwy 60, took a turn to the right at the gas station, went through Geronimo pass to the Apache White Mountain Reservation. Fort Apache (known from a John Wayne Western) was the goal. The fort is now a school.

By coincidence we ran into the 94th annual rodeo of the White Mountain Apache Tripe and spent the afternoon with the Apaches. Great show – in- and outside the arena.

The White Mountain is a very beautiful place.

Grand Canyon & Bike Inspection

Next stop Flagstaff; went some of the way along Route 66.

On the way to Flagstaff we stopped at a huge meteor crater; 50,000 years old.

Got the bike inspected at Grand Canyon Harley – the service guy found a problem I needed to get fixed at a larger shop. With Harley there is often some technical problems; this I my 4th Harley and 3 had problems! Still; we buy them!

Next day Grand Canyon; unfortunately, a lot of rain so the view wasn’t as spectacular as 15 years ago when I was there first. Grand Canyon on a sunny day is probably the most impressive nature scenery I have ever seen.

Flagstaff a cool university city.

The Desert and Las Vegas; more Desert and Big Bear Lake CA

Democracy is when you sometimes let the other guy get his way. Las Vegas was not on my list of places to visit; I knew it wouldn’t be something for me. My driving buddy wanted to see the city; “it is something one must have seen.”

So, off we went through the desert – 105 f (40.5 c); in Las Vegas traffic jam, the valves of the other guy’s bike started clicking due to overheating.

We saw the sights and my opinion was confirmed; “nothing I need to see.” It beats me why people spent their precious holiday in a place so hot you cannot go outside and spent the day and night gambling in dark rooms without windows.

Americans are generally were friendly and polite. Las Vegas seems to be an exemption – Jim the UBER – driver (another thing the world does not need) from South Carolina, was feed up with the city and told he will leave soon. Perhaps it is just too much with all these drunken tourists for the locals.

More desert (Mohave) and we reached California. In the mountains the heat was suddenly gone like we had pushed a botton. Big Bear Lake a wonderful place. A ski-resort.

When we started WTN, we agreed that we would always be honest (who needs the Trip Advisor reviews written by the hotel owner or his mum?); so here we go: Avoid Knight’s Inn in Big Bear; dirty, bed full of hair from various parts of the body and nails, and the owner didn’t understand why we complained.

“Dwa piwa” and Yosemite

Got to the Pacific Ocean – Coast to Coast.

Spent a night in Solvang, a small village calling itself the Danish capital of America. Founded by Danish settlers some 150 years ago in the wonderful Santa Ynez Valley; a fine wine and farming country.

Except for a couple of Danish visitors, the town was mainly full of Chinese tourists and Spanish speaking Americans. No extra cheese for speaking English with a Danish dialect! Very good Danish pastry though!

Went East and arrived late at Mariposa in the mountains. One cannot really describe Yosemite; too wonderful. Let the pictures speak.

Outside the park a lot of curvy mountain roads with no guard barriers – 100 meters straight down; don’t take that short cut!

Jenny at the bar told us with pride – as she noticed that we are from Europe – she had been learning Polish for 9 years. She didn’t understand the most important Polish sentence – “dwa piwa prosze” (two beer please) – though. She probably hadn’t been my first choice to discuss the latest developments in the field of nuclear science with anyway!?

San Francisco, US 1 & Redwood

On the way to San Francisco we stopped at a Custom Bike Garage. As my driving buddy tied to start a talk in Spanish the mechanic answered in German with a heavy Hessian dialect (Frankfurt region); Antonio, Italian, had lived in German and had now been building / repairing bikes in CA for 20 years.

After San Francisco we rode across the Golden Gate North. The plan was to ride the US 1 to a small town near the Redwood National Park. We soon realized that this would take ages; small twisted roads; and we went up US 101 instead.

After about 100 ml, US 101 also changes; long curves – great ride. Kick it down entering the curve, turn the throttle and change gear again! That’s bike driving.

The giant trees of Redwood are a fantastic experience. The giants are between 1,500 and 3,000 years old, the heart wood in many cases burned, but the tree still thrives.

The park is like almost all US National Parks excellent set up and managed. Always competent and friendly rangers / personal.

Stayed in the small town of Arcata. I have never seen so many young home- / jobless people in the streets in such a small town – a couple under every bush in the park or on every street corner. I later road that here is where the cannabis industry started in CA; probably some sort of explanation for the many “drop outs” here!!!

Oregon

The riding plan said: Go to Vancouver. The weather forecast said: One week of rain in Western BC. The weather forecast wins; we changed plan. We skip BC and go South-East towards Yellowstone; Corvallis and East through the Cascades mountains, flatlands and more mountains.

But before we take off; it is time to buy warm underwear. It is getting cold in the mornings. The best and cheapest solution I find in a lady underwear shop; not sexy – but it will do the job (they have some sizes here where 3 lightly overweight men can fit in one pair of lady pans). And soon we are back South; in the warmth

When writing about a road trip in Western US; one runs the risk of repeating the same adjectives over and over again – great, fantastic, awesome, very beautiful, breath-taking – the landscape is truly amazing. So, in order not to repeat we skip the comments to the photos today – have a look yourself.

Idaho, Yellowstone & Night Ride

I had never been to Idaho before and didn’t expect much. I knew the state is famous for potatoes, a very low population density (8.1 persons / s.km2; US average 36, Germany 237) and wide fields. But Idaho has its share of plains, mountains, “moon landscape” (Craters of the Moon; lava).

The idea was to spend the night 50 miles from Yellowstone and then head for the park next morning. The weather forecast scrapped that plan; one day of heavy rain. It didn’t make much sense to visit Yellowstone in rain; so, we had the first not planned stop for a day in Ashton; a small farming village.

After the rain, we rode to the Western entry of Yellowstone. Snow on the mountains in the horizon; the ride to the park – wonderful!

Spent much too much time in the park; had underestimated the traffic totally. It got dark as we left. 180 miles from we left the park to Idaho Falls where the hotel was booked – the route was across the mountains. Riding night is ok; riding in mountains is ok too; but mountains and night in an area with a lot of game like around the Yellowstone Park is a bit tiresome. One never knows if a deer or an elk runs on the road chased by 4 wolves – so all senses open, right hand on the brake!

Utah, Dead Horse Point

On route to Utah we visited a small Indian museum, the Shoshone Tripe. Ida, the manager, told us interesting things about the Shoshones: Same family as the Comanches in TX (first Indians to use horses), the language comes from the Aztecs in Mexico – no one knows why.

Utah, the state of the Mormons, is a great place to ride; fantastic mountain views, 80 miles speed limits on the free-way, cheap gas, clear blue sky. You don’t need to visit a park to enjoy the scenery – just head down the high way, and look left and right.

Dead Horse Point is a Utah state park. The legend says “the point was once used as a corral for wild mustangs roaming the mesa. Cowboys rounded up these horses and herded them across the narrow neck of land onto the point. The neck, only 30 yards wide, was then fenced off with branches and brush, creating a natural corral surrounded by precipitous cliffs.

The cowboys then chose the horses they wanted, and for reasons unknown, left the other horses corralled on the waterless point, where they died of thirst within view of the Colorado River 2,000 feet below”; State Park Brochure. Not a nice story.

Absolutely amassing views – Grand Canyon League; and much less crowded.

State parks are a good alternative to the well-known National Parks; less crowded and the entry costs about half of the entry in a National Park.

Colorful Colorado

Colorful Colorado – the slogan of the state. How true that is. The grass seems greener, the rivers bluer in Colorado.

Missouri and Kansas wide plain states full of farms, ranches and cattle; truckers with t-shirt texts like “we were hauling (cattle) before you were crawling”, boots and hats. The fields are in many states round and not square as we know from Europe. They have GPS controlled watering devices driving in a full or half circle; the land is so plentiful that it doesn’t matter if a few corners are not cultivated.

Meet three crazy Swedish bikers on old pan heads without suspension driving from New York to California.

Dodge City is a name for all “grown up boys” who love Westerns.

Nashville

Nashville, Tennessee, the capital of country music.

My second time in Nashville; I love that city. Super music, top atmosphere in every bar on Broadway. During my three nights in Nashville I never saw confrontations, sensed bad atmosphere – always good vibs (I am not sure I would say the same after 3 nights on the town in Berlin or Glasgow). Life music in all bars; top musicians playing for a tip.

And one of the best and cheapest Harley garages in the US I have come across.

The music you hear is J. Edwards, he gave a great show. I bought his CD the next day!

Nashville, I will be back soon!

Smokey Mountains, Charleston, Savannah

Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most scenic bike routes in the US.

Georgia, Carolinas – the old South. Where the lady at the gas station says, “what can I do for you, honey”, the receptionist “welcome, dear”. The South has so much charm.

Saw junior play soccer in Georgia, Bone Hall Plantation in Charleston and a few Southern bells in Savannah.

After Daytona Beach time to hit the Interstate, kick the beast in the sixth speed and get home to “the ol’ lady”.

It’s been six fantastic weeks, 12,000 great miles. The US on two wheels; a must do for a biker / cowboy at heart.