The Trip through Cliff's eyes

Trip Start Jul 17, 2012
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Trip End Aug 22, 2012


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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Well where do I start, about three weeks ago we were still on the trip hanging out on the Gulf of Mexico and that freedom already seems like a lifetime ago.

Firstly I want to say what a buzz it was to hang out with Glen and just experience the total freedom of riding around a different country.  Going somewhere new pretty much everyday over a six week period and also dealing with the challenges that come with it were great and getting out of my comfort zone did me some good and gave me some extra confidence going forward on what can be done if you push yourself and also change your attitude towards things. 

From when we finished the trip back on August the 22nd I had about 20 hours at Glens house before flying out of JAX on the 23rd then arriving back home on the 26th.  It has taken me a full week to really settle back into my normal lifestyle and only yesterday did I really start getting motivated to do things.  Thankfully I do not return to work until the 10th so have been able to relax and clear my jet lag for as long as I wish.

But back to the trip, the dream that started after a few too many wines in my cellar many years ago but grew into reality with me arriving around midnight into Jacksonville on the 15th of July 2012.

Getting out of Glens car back at his house and sitting on what would be my steed for the next 35 days I will admit that the size of the Harley surprised me and I thought to myself that this was going to be a handful.  From riding sportsbikes all my life the Ultra Classic felt like a small truck in comparison and I seriously considered that there was a fair chance that I might drop it............that never happened and riding it was a lot of fun and it was quite nimble and easy to handle through the many twisty roads that we covered.  The bike did not miss a beat and the amount of gear that we were able to load on it was fantastic.  You could not have picked a better bike to do the trip that we did than it, for the few minor issues that we had with Glens bike the Harley network allows for repairs to be carried out very quickly and as it turned out cheaply.

Well I should also mention the trip, 15.200ish kms over 35 days through about 30 states of America!!!  I will do a summary and list my highlights, this could take a while so please bear with me :-)))

Many people have asked me me what the best part of the trip was and it is really hard to name just one part as "the best" so my answer is - actually starting the road trip when we rode out of Glen's street and were on the road.
It was also being given the chance to spend a month and a half away from home and Keiko and to realise how much I missed and loved them both.  Made a promise on the road to appreciate what I have on a daily basis and not to be lazy in making an effort to show how much I care!!  

Now that I have been a SNAG I will move on and describe my personal highlights of the trip,

Best Ride - Tail of the Dragon in the Smoky Mountains, Tennessee.  Outstanding twisty road that put a massive smile on our faces. Blue Ridge Parkway the next day was also fantastic, cresting a ridge and riding through clouds was amazing!

Best Landscapes - Glacier & Arches National Parks.  Two total landscape contrasts, Glacier was beautiful forested mountains with crystal clear lakes and just picture perfect while Arches was arid with the most amazing rock formations in a very hot and barren place.

Best Small Town - Ketchum, had a really nice feel to it and the Rockies as a backdrop. I climbed a rocky outcrop near our hotel and watched the sun set against the Rocky Mountains with a view of the entire town which was a great Zen moment for me.and gave me a lift.

Best City - New York!  So much to see and a great place to explore, will be back. We walked and got lost, rode subways, ferries and a taxi with a no meter 'cashy' driver. Walking around Central Park and paying my respects to John Lennon in Strawberry Fields was also a highlight for me and was at the top of my list of things to do when we first started planning this trip.

Best Hotel - The Iron Horse in Milwaukee.  An old 100y/o warehouse renovated into a trendy bikers hotel.  Fantastic F & B and rooms, and a walk to the Harley Museum.   

Best Hotel View - Margarettaville with our room right on the Gulf of Mexico. Sitting on the balcony with a G&T looking out over the ocean was fantastic and it was a great way to spend our last couple of nights away before returning to play the roles of Cliff & Glen in our normal lives.

Best Night Out - 'The Stockyards' in Fort Worth Dallas.  Great bars, a great meal and great people. Bike night at the Iron House was also great. I really enjoyed when we just had nights in and chatted abouit the ride and planned where we would ride and stay the next day with a pizza and a beer or two.

Best Bar - Yardbirds Bourbon Bar, Miami.  Our first night on the road and we went here for one drink still wringing wet from riding.  We stayed for 5 hours, a great bar! Must also mention the Washington bar where Glen snapped a great pic of me and the barmaid, the ol Irish Bar in NY with the not so friendly anti-tourist barman. Sitting by the water in Key West with a bucket of beer or sitting at the bar in Deadwood watching bikini girls wash our bikes!!

Best Meal - Grilled fish at Blue Canyon in Kalispell, Montanna for dinner and lunch at a Tapas Bar in Rapid City. (pulled pork, outstanding!)

Best Unexpected - Having a few G&Ts at the Garden of Eden roof top bar in Key West and having a great conversation with nude people (we wore clothes) and the Aussie Embassy cellar visit in Washington was great. Having a beer with the Hamsters at the Spotted Horse also rates highly.

Rawest Experience - Camping at the Sturgis Rally, massive.

Biggest "I'm overseas Experience" - Standing in front of the White House in Washington and also crossing the border into Canada and taking in the amazing Niagara Falls.

Best Trip Gagets - GPS - Saved us from so much stress.  Intercom system - Being able to chat/discuss added so much to the trip and saved confusion. Iphone/Music - Value added to the riding big time and a great selection of music by Glen! (I also loved using wifi)  

Biggest Regret - Not securing those tent poles properly on the bike that resulted in them falling off and therefore stopping any further chance of us camping.  That other rider dobbing to Glen that something had fallen off my bike nearly stuffed my entire plan!! 


I could go on but this covers what I'm trying to say.  It has been a buzz writing the blog and actually having fun stuff to write about on a daily basis, it will also allow Glen & I to remember what happened where and when everything happened when we get together and discuss the trip in the decades ahead as our memories start to fade and no doubt talk turns to planning another.
I have always wanted to ride and experience Japan on a bike, mmmmmmmmmm............... 


 
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