The Trip through Glen's eyes......
Trip Start Jul 17, 2012
41Trip End Aug 22, 2012
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Where I stayed
Wow....where do I start.........When you only just realise that an off-the-cuff remark in a wine cellar over two years ago becomes a notion, grows into a dream, morphs into a rough plan and then becomes full-blown reality and 'you are living the dream'.....it can change you and drum up all these weird and wonderful memories. And those memories are highly addictive and you want to keep re-living them over and over... - like the smell of the trees racing though the forests in Montana and Wyoming, the light mist on your face cresting the Blue Ridge Mountains and riding through clouds with only the road in front of you and a massive drop either side that you can't see, but you know is there.... Or even the sun playing tricks on your eyes (is it a shadow, or a deer?) racing down Needles Highway in the Black Hills, South Dakota.
It didn't really hit me that we had completed the trip until about a week after getting home and I was playing with the kids....and all of a sudden it hit me that for Cliff and I, so many things could have gone wrong and it could have been all over (the trip, a life changing incident etc)
Or, likewise the toolkit and spare parts we took. We had parts and spares for most repairs like flat tyre, busted gaskets and damaged belt drives. And in the end, we needed a few zip ties and some 'Krazy Glue'....and some luck obviously!
I keep thinking about Murphy's Law.......
But, back to the trip. Cliff wrote his summary first - which was great for me because it is actually very similiar to the experiences I had when talking to friends and family about the trip....."What was the best part?" "What was your favourite city?" And it got me thinking....We often just want 'the good bits' in our fast-paced lives and feel like we really just have to get to the 'synopsis' because we are short on time; like gimme the 'brief', the summary, the 'summit' or the bottom line......when it is really like the cliche says....."It's the journey, not the destination" and the various iterations of that quote
So for me, I have summarised parts of the trip below - they might help anyone reading this and planning their own respective trip. But, I do have to say.....it is extremely difficult to just 'cut' out the good bits, because it was the 'bad bits' that also made the journey what it was......Epic.
My personal favourites from the trip:
Best Rides - Tail of the Dragon in the Smoky Mountains, Tennessee. I totally agree with Cliff - this ride is awesome, has certain dangerous elements to it, awesome grade of road, technically challenging and required laser focus. But also thinking 'Best Ride' has me thinking about my own personal feelings and 'zen' while on the bike.....for me, there was quite a few outstanding 'zen' like experiences while riding - weather, music, views and scenery all combine into a fantastic package and lifts you above it all.......for me, this occurred in The Black Hills - sunshine, twistys, scenery and sheer elation.
Best Landscapes - Glacier National Park and the scenery in UtahManti La Sal National Forest) via Emery (Millers Canyon) then the I-70 to The Arches NP.... (I couldn't believe this was a freeway with some of the craziest rock formations I have ever seen; and then into Moab, Utah. So like Cliff - the Arches National park was outstanding, but on this particular day when we road from south of Salt Lake City via the above route the total landscape contrast was amazing.
Best Small Town - Kalispell, Montana. A mountain town with so much to offer! A very close second is Charlottesville, Virginia - I could spend weeks just exploring the independent coffee houses, bars and restaurants - a great college town..
Best City - This one was really hard for me to pick - is it the icons, the people, the weather on the day or the experience that makes it "The Best"?......looks like I have my summary already written: NYC - Iconic; Washington D.C - Iconic and great weather; Milwaukee - Experience. Ok - I cheated, I named three......
Best Hotel - The Iron Horse in Milwaukee. A five-star hotel without all the pretentiousness and price-tag that goes with five-star. Decor, vibe, swank and great staff.
Best Hotel View - Parrot Key Resort, Key West - Florida. Don't get me wrong - Cliff's choice of the Margaritaville Hotel Pensacola was a stunning view also. For me the Parrot Key summed up the laid back lifestyle, they heyday of Key West, the low-key vibe and slow pace of what island life should be. The sunset view over the water really helped soak it up as we drank a few GnTs....
Best Night Out - 'The Smoky Moutains Brewery' Gatlinburg, Tennesse. I don't know whether it was the massive ale, the half-cow steak or the experience of having just ridden the 'Dragon' and surviving......just me, Cliff and friendly wait-staff. And then of course......like Cliff 'The Stockyards' in Fort Worth Dallas. Some great friends there made for a great night..
Best Bar - Old Ebbitt Grille - Washington D.C. The history, the power, the big-man himself occasionally dines here
Best Meal - Without a doubt, the medium-rare, fresh caught wild elk medallions at the 'Blue Canyon' restaurant, Kalispell.
Best Unexpected - After a hard day's ride from Jacksonville to Miami (five thunderstorms after we left Daytona); we were wet, slightly miserable but buoyed by the fact that this was night one....Well I was anyway...Cliffy on the other hand was pretty knackered and I really wanted to take him to 'Yardbird' Restaurant and Bourbon bar - Miami.....He wasn't really in the mood and imposed a 'one-drink limit' before heading off.......Five hours later - I had to drag him out of there.
Rawest Experience - Spending the full day at "Full Throttle Saloon" and trying to stay hydrated. After having been at this world-famous biker bar for all day and part of the evening....I am not going to be easily surprised by any other bar or establishment that I walk into. Like a combination of a UFC fight event, crossed with a circus with some motorbikes and chainsaws thrown in. Oh, and lots of girls dressed in leather
Biggest "I'm overseas Experience" - Riding the mountains of Colorado with about three moutain passes above 10,000ft and finishing in Boulder, Colorado for the night.
Best Trip Gagets - GPS - I echo all of Cliffy's points here. The GPS - a godsend navigating Newark NJ, Washington D.C. and Milwaukee, WI. Also loved the fact that it didn't really distinguish between dirt and paved roads.....made life interesting at times.
Intercom system - Being able to hoot, holler and swear at each other as we raced down moutains or when overtaking trucks.
Iphone/Music - The fact tha we had sync'd playlists was great for sharing music taste and, like a good pairing of wine and food; Cliffy managed to pick some outstanding tracks and albums as we rode across the country. Listening to Midnight Oil 10-to-1 as we rode into D.C was awesome.
So, there you have it. My summary.... only one more page to write and that is the Stats, Facts and Figures page.....I promise you'll get a laugh out of it. Take care and ride safe.