Then it was off to the US immigration. I walked into the immigration room and there were two long counters. There were chairs in the middle of the room with a few people sitting around. There were about half a dozen immigration officers behind the counter. Only one of them was with a customer. Most of them seemed to be doing nothing and one or two were on their computers.
I looked for some signage to tell me where I was to queue, there was none. As there was no signage I walked up to the counter and approached one of the officers. I had got out no more than four words, where do I queue when a large guy sporting flak jacket and side arms loudly says” SIT. WAIT TO BE CALLED”. I said “ corrr that’s a bit aggressive”, he looked shocked to get a response.
A couple of minutes later a woman officer called me over and she was very professional. I thought what a welcome to the USA.
Now I was in the USA I headed to Buffalo on Highway 90 then onto the scenic highway 20 going through Madison County, Madison is the capital of Madison County. Its jam packed with antique shops. Most of the towns I rode through on this section of high way were very picturesque.
As I rode through Madison County, I half expected to see Clint Eastwood hanging around, instead I saw my first US wild life, a black squirrel and two Beavers slowly making their way across the road. It was far too wet for Clint to show his face but unfortunately, I had no choice and had to keep going until I arrived at Syacruse.
I was going to camp the night but it was so wet that a lot of the fields I passed had large pools of water on them and the ground looked waterlogged.
I ended up staying in a hotel for the night. It’s not cheap in the States.
Day 275 Tuesday 2nd June 2015
It was overcast and lightly drizzling so it was another day with wet weather gear on. I headed into Albany which is the state capitol of New York. The weather had cleared up a bit so I checked out the town.
So I jumped on the bike and followed Tracy to her house in Worcester where I met Tracy’s husband Bruce and their two dogs and two cats. One of their friends, Biaihani was staying over so we all had dinner and we whiled away the evening having a few beers and a good chat.
Biaihani’s boyfriend works for a tour company so she said she would be able to get me a free guided tram tour of Boston. All I had to do was turn up at the booth near the aquarium at Boston waterfront and it would be there waiting for me.
Day 276 Wednesday 3rd June 2015
Bruce had given me a run down on a more scenic route into Boston. I headed off on this route to find there was a detour. I eventually got back onto the route and arrived at the waterfront in Boston. I was lucky enough to find a park right outside a restaurant alongside other bikes. I walked along the waterfront, picked up my ticket and headed off to the sites.
Boston is an old city and was at the forefront of the independence movement. I visited are enactment of the famous Boston tea party and then headed down to the Cheers pub for a solitary beer.
It was then time to get back on my bike and head to Bruce and Tracy’s place. The traffic was heavy and it took an hour longer than expected.
We had a BBQ and then we all went for a ride to the highest peak in the area to see the sun heading down below the clouds.
Thank you, Bruce and Tracy, for your kindness to a total stranger.
I made my way to Cape Cod and went to the very end. I have a thing about having to go to the top of a tall building, the end of a pier or the tip of the land. I don’t know why but I did that again today.
I visited a monument to the Pilgrim Landing and stayed at a campground in a quaint town called Province. While I was putting the tent up, I noticed the Mozzies, they were the size of small dogs, well that might be an exaggeration but they were big and slow. At least they weren’t aggressive.
As I left Province I went for a final ride around. I noticed lots of men walking small dogs drinking coffee and looking very intimate together. I later found out this area is known to be a gay enclave.
No, I’m not on the turn!!!
I headed off from the museum. I wanted to stop a 100km outside of New York so I could get the train into the city to sight see just as I did in London. It’s pointless trying to drive in these cities when It’s far easier to take the train and subway.
I plugged in a campground I found on the GPS. It was 30 miles off my route but it at least it was somewhere to stay. When I arrived at the location the camping ground was gone and a housing estate was in its place. I had no option but to find another one. I checked out the internet and found one called Battle Row Campground in Old Bethpage on Long Island and arrived at 7:30pm just in time to get my tent up before it went dark.
I hear a song. Here it comes
Start spreading the news, I'm leaving today.
I want to be a part of it, New York, New York.
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it, New York, New York
Right, that’s enough of that for now, on with the blog.
I got a taxi to Farmingdale train station and headed for Penn station in New York city. It’s a 56-minute trip. When I arrived, I headed up and out of the exit to 7th Avenue.
Outside the train station there were all sorts of tour companies selling bus tour around the city. I decided to get on one of these tours as they were going to all the places I wanted to visit. They gave me a map and with that I made my way to Macy’s where the bus leaves every 15 minutes. Macys is just down the road from the Empire State building. The Empire state building is on 5th Avenue and was a short walk from Macys. It’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit.
I bought a ticket from one of the sellers on the street. The ticket was to go to the top, so off I went. When I arrived, I was given an audio device to listen to and with that you a good understanding of the history, construction and development of the building. The audio was informative and interesting. The building is very art deco and It’s like stepping back into the late twenty’s early thirties. There was lots of money around in New York before the depression. Anyone with money wanted to make a name for themselves by building the tallest building in the world. The Chrysler building is the same height as the Empire state until the developer placed a mast on top of the Empire State building
The building has had a chequered past with large Apes so I checked for bullet holes or signs that king Kong had been there, there were none. Although the building had been hit twice by planes.
The Empire state was the tallest building in the world for 40 years. I think the Chrysler tower is far more aesthetically pleasing.
I headed to Washington DC via New York city and past the Empire state. I rode mainly on the Interstate. By the time I had reached Greenpark Campground which is 12 miles outside of Washington DC I had clocked up US$28 in tolls. I will make sure I avoid toll roads in the future. In all my travels so far, the UK and the US are the only places I have had to pay a toll. All other countries don’t toll motorcycles.
I had just got my tent up with a mighty storm rolled in. The rain was torrential and the lightening lit the inside of my tent like day light. i had been pre warned that the storm was coming so i made sure the tent wasn’t underneath any trees. The last thing you want in a storm is to get a branch drop through your tent and KO you.
Day 282 Tuesday 9th June 2015
I rode into Washington DC where I was able to slip the bike in between two parked cars on the side of the street right next to the Washington monument. How lucky was that?
From there most of the sights are within walking distance. I strolled to the. White house, Lincoln memorial, Korean veteran's memorial and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
After a full day is was back to the campground.
Parked in an RV up the road from me is a retired Californian called Russ who is travelling all 50 states of the US. He is a professional photographer and is writing a travel blog of his trip and the people he meets on the way. Russ liked the fact I was travelling solo around the world on a motorcycle so he asked me for an interview and bribed me with a beer.
Russ’s blog is www. RussOnTheRoad@wordpress.com
In the evening I watched fire flies. In the dark they look like little sparks that shine for a second. It was fascinating watching this light show. I‘d never seen anything like this before.
Blue Ridge drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia was a beautiful ride today. The roads were like a silky snake and the first time for a while I was able to give the edges of my tyres a good work out.
I stayed in a campground called Peaks of Otter camp ground. No showers only toilets and wash basins.
This is the first time I have seen the bear warnings. All food must be kept in the specially provided lockers. It is common for the big furry creatures to come sniffing around at night. I hope he doesn’t like the smell of an English man fe fi fo fum!!
Day 284 Thursday 11th June 2015.
In the morning I went for a leisurely ride through the local farmland. Within 5 minutes I had seen two separate deer and a fox. The wild life here is plentiful including the spiders and large ants who were hindering me packing my tent this morning.
I did hear a couple of roaring noises last night while I lay in my tent. Maybe it was a bear or maybe it was just my imagination.
It was more twisting roads through the Blue Ridge Mountains and then on to dual lane highways.
Near the end of the day, I found a very well-maintained camping ground with showers, The body was ready and waiting for one of those. The camping ground is called Down by the River camping ground and it's located in Pineola. I sat eating my dinner watching anglers fly fishing for trout. The trout must have retired for the evening as none of the anglers had a bite.
Day 285 Friday 12th June 2015.
A long ride of over 500km got me to Savanna. As I am getting further south the weather is getting hotter. It’s in the mid 30’s Celsius a stark contrast in a couple of weeks where I had 8 degrees in Niagara.
I got caught in a heavy downpour this afternoon and the humidity shot up. When I was putting my tent up it was like being in a sauna.
Some of the campers at the place I stayed last night move up from Florida in the summer to get some cooler weather. I can see why.
Day 286 Saturday 13th June 2015
I left Savannah and headed south to a St Augusta it is the oldest town in America and also has the oldest house. It is very Spanish looking. I then headed to Daytona Beach and then checked out the famous raceway. Tomorrow I’m making my way down to the Kennedy space centre. When I was a boy, the Americans had supposedly put a man on the moon and I wanted to be an Astronaut. I even got a suit and helmet off Father Christmas and would do the slow motion walk while I was wearing it.
It will be fascinating to look at the exhibits. I can’t wait
Kennedy Space centre advise getting to their premises early. As they open at 9am I was there at 8:50.
The cost of a ticket is not cheap, US$50 for the main sight or US$75 for the main site and an excursion by bus to the launch sites and the Saturn 5 display. I opted for the $75 ticket. It was worth the extra just to see the Saturn 5 rocket. It’s the biggest rocket ever produced.
The main site houses examples of the earlier rockets as well as the Saturn 1, the forerunner to the Saturn 5 which is the rocket that took the Astronauts to the moon.
The Space shuttle Atlantis is there and there are lots of films as well as an I-Max theatre.
The exhibits are a marvel of engineering. A day was not really long enough but it was a fantastic display of human achievement and dedication to push the boundaries of science.
I continued to head south and dropped into see a work mate in Hobe. We had never actually met fact o face but we have worked together the last 5years and spent many hours on conference calls. Stan has just recently retired, it’s all a bit new at the moment but I’m sure he’ll get into the swing of it. It was great to finally meet. They invited me to stay the night.
Stan and Barb, his wife took me around in his air-conditioned car to see the local sites. After riding in the heat fully geared up it’s a real pleasure to be driven. We ended up having a couple of beers at the marina at Jupiter. It was a lovely setting. We sampled a couple of local beers. They were that local that the lighthouse across the Mariner was pictured on the beer bottle label.
From there we went back to Stan and Barbs and finished off with a nice BBQ dinner and a good banter over drinks.
I thanked Stan and Barb for their hospitality and headed south for Key West right at the tip of Florida. I ended up staying in a camp ground right next to the river. There were a couple of Iguanas cruising about. They even swim.
Day 290 Wednesday 17th June 2015
I packed my tent early this morning. I wanted to see if I could find the Iguanas and get a couple of photos. While I was looking, I saw a small black water snake jump back in the river. The river was full of jumping fish, tadpoles and no doubt all sorts of other things. When I turned around the Iguanas were behind me. They looked like they’d come to party and were in no mood for party poopers. They have a very bacterial bite and that can cause a bit of damage. One of them came rushing toward me so I kicked some dirt at it and it backed off. I was glad I had my riding boots on.
From the camp I went into the town of Key West and went to the official buoy that marks the furthest south you go in the USA. Then of to the waterfront and Ernest Hemmingway's house.
It’s a one way in and a one way out deal to and from Key West so it was over the many bridges and north I proceeded towards the Everglades.
I pushed further north right in the heart of the everglade. This is storm season in Florida and today I rode in the worst storm I’ve ever been in. The route I had planned in the GPS took right through the eye of the storm. The rain was torrential and the roads were starting to flood. The cars ploughed through; walls of water sprayed from there wheel arches. The daylight had been blocked by a grey blanket of cloud only permeated by the forked lightning either side of the route I was riding. The thunder was that loud it was almost deafening. I was soaked to the skin.
I rode through it and out the other side in to daylight again.
I soon dried, all except for my waterproof boots. The water had leaked down my legs into the inside of my boots.
I pulled into a campsite right on the river bank. It was like being in the middle of the everglades. I managed to get my tent up in the light rain and then walked down to the river. I spotted three Alligators just floating in the river. The river was teaming with fish which made me feel a lot better. If there’s that much food, they won’t be interested coming up the bank for a side order of English man.
It was west along the interstate. Long straight roads with not much to see. I did clock up over 600km today which was much needed. I stayed at the Gulf Pines RV Park Milton.
Day 293 Saturday 20th June 2015
Pensicola was on the list of places to see namely the National Naval Aviation Museum. It has 108 different planes. The museum is free and was well laid out and very interactive for the kids. The next port of call, literally was in Mobile where the USS Alabama resides. The USS Alabama is a World War two destroyer and is housed in the USS Alabama Memorial Park along with the submarine USS Drum, tanks and an aeroplane museum. For me the highlight of the place and a total surprise that it was there was the X71 spy plane, the world’s fastest plane. This was the diamond in the crown of the US air force during the cold war.
From Mobile I headed to Shreveport a journey of 675km. I decided to do some of the back roads. I ended up at Springfield Plantation only be told by e real estate agent that the house is not for tourists and that she only left the gate open so her clients could view the property. Well, I ended up viewing it too, and then headed off.
More interstates and finally made it to Fort Worth for the night. I met a guy called Wade who had read my blog and was keen to do a trip like mine. He came over to my tent site with a few bears and then shouted a pizza for dinner. He’s a real nice guy and has his own garage door company. He has been a biker for many years and has been up to Alaska.
I spent the remainder of the night in the pool to cool off.
Day 296 Tuesday 23rd June 2015
I went to visit Eurosport cycle in Fort Worth s Texas. This is where I purchased Winston. I mainly dealt with Martha and she has the best customer service of any of the Triumph dealers I’ve had anything to do with.
I also Met Martha’s Husband Tony. These guys own the dealership. While I was there, I asked Tony if he could check out my side stand as the bike had a real bad lean and it was a major work out just to get on. Actually, what I said is do you have a sledge hammer. He was far more professional than me and ended up replacing the mounting bracket under warranty. Winston now sits up beautifully.
I asked him why there was no one there, he said the lake level is low and that stops the tourists. I said how long has the lake been low, he said a decade. I then asked him about the sign I saw that said not to pick up hitch hikers. He said there was a prison nearby. That got me thinking, I’ve seen plenty of films where escaped prisoners go bad. He gave me his phone number and said if you need help just call me. Now this really got me thinking. With that he drove off.
After all that I was pretty hungry so i got all my cooking gear out and started to make dinner. The sun was fading and there were hundreds of little flies, almost like sand flies, that wanted to be all over me. As soon as I stood still, they were there. I ended up walking round eating my dinner out of the saucepan with a towel over my head like an Arab to keep them at bay.
It was ironic I sat watching these biggish spiders build a web and none of these flies went any ware near.
Day 297 Wednesday 24th June 2015
I left my solitary camp and headed for Carlsbad Caves. On the way I passed hundreds of oil wells. You can smell the oil in the air. There were many that weren’t pumping. There were wind farms and solar too.
The Carlsbad Cavern is a world Heritage site and has been since 1995. They were once an ancient limestone reef which was dissolved by sulphuric acid. There is a section called the Big Room and it is the largest natural limestone chamber in the USA.
It’s well set up. You can either walk into the caves the natural way or take a lift which takes you down 750 feet. Once you’re down there, there are specific walks you can do. There is signage that has information on that section of the cavern. It takes about an hour to do the Big Room section. The air is cool and quite a contrast to the outside.
Albuquerque was the destination today. Again, it was along straight interstates. The scenery has changed to scrubland now and a few more hills are appearing. The oil wells have also gone.
I headed through Roswell, where Alien bodies were supposedly found. They have a museum there; the entry fee was only $5. They let you make up your mind whether you believe it is true or not. I did see a space saucer and Aliens abducting some people just before I entered the town.
I can say I have ridden part of route 66 today. It was only a small piece but I’ve still done it.
I finally changed my rear tyre today. The Heidenau lasted 25000km, now that’s impressive. I might have been able to get a bit more out of it but I’m heading into more desolate country so decided it’s time to change it.
I ended up at a camp in Coronado. This is the best view I have had from my tent so far on this trip. I just missed a huge storm again.
A guy arrived in camp riding a Harley. He was your quintessential Harley rider. He just loved being on the road. He was a nice guy to chat with.
Just before dark I saw a Jack rabbit which is like a hair and a road runner bird, there was no sign of Wiley coyote sitting on an Acme rocket in hot pursuit of the Road runner though!
I left New Mexico and headed into Arizona along I40. The scenery got more interesting towards Arizona, lots of cliffs and plateaus.
My final destination was Meteor Crater. It is the world’s best preserved meteor crater. It’s 1.2 km in diameter and 170 metres deep. The meteor hit around 50,000 years ago and was thought to be 45 metres wide (120 feet) and was travelling 65,000mph.
Entry was US$18.
I stayed the night at a campground just down the road from the crater.
Twenty-five dollars is the entry fee for a motorcycle to enter the Grand Canyon National Park, that’s only $5 cheaper than a car. The queues to get in were massive. I snuck down the inside but still had a half hour wait in the heat.
Once through the gates the traffic was quite light. There are lots of opportunities to peer down in to the Grand Canyon. It is over 3000 feet deep and was carved by the enormous amount of water that once flowed through this area. This was the south rim. Tomorrow I will check out the north rim.
I then headed towards monument valley. Lots of cowboy movies were made here; the famous one is Stagecoach starring John Wayne. For a desert I was surprised by the amount of vegetation.
I stayed the night at a campground near the monuments. It was a very rustic spot.
My food supplies in my panniers are low and need replenishing. If only I’d had a can of beans, I would really be living the cowboy lifestyle, instead it was beef stew. Maybe they eat that too, after all they were “cowboys.
I left early in the morning to make the most of the cooler temperatures. I headed west towards Antilope Canyon. I stopped at a supermarket to get a few supplies, when I came out, and was about to put the food in my panniers two dogs turned up and sorrowfully looked at me. One of them was all ribs so I undid the loaf of bread I had and gave him 4 slices and the other one who was a bit fatter one slice, one slice was all he wanted. The four slices seemed to do the job for the other fella. I said “sorry mate, that’s all", packed up and headed off.
Antilope Canyon is Indian land and an $8 fee is charged to enter the park. There are two options one is the upper and the other is the lower Canyon each one will set you backUS$40. I did the upper tour.
The canyon is a spectacle to see. Water has eroded the sandstone and there are these really cool swirl shaped passages. Where there are different compounds there are different colours.
Although the canyons are worth seeing the number of tourists squashed down these small passages does take the shine off it, many jostling for selfies and family portraits.
I headed to the Grand Canyon north rim. Most of the walks into the canyon commence from here. I did a short walk, took in the immenseness of it all and then headed north towards Bryce Canyon. I stayed at a camp ground 40 miles from Bryce Canyon. The camp was at 6500 feet above sea level and the air was cooler.
I made my way to Bryce Canyon. The entry fee for a motorcycle is US$12. It’s a one way in and one way out. The end of the road finishes at Rainbow point which is 2778 metres (9115 feet) above sea level. There are lots of viewpoints right off the side of the road. Each one of them has spectacular view.
There are different types of wildlife too. I spotted a Uinta Chipmunk darting across the road. They’re very small and very quick. I stopped to watch a group of Utah Prairie Dogs run through the long grass from their burrows. They sit up and watch what’s going on around them just like Meer cats.
It was time to leave this beautiful place and make my way to Salt Lake City. I think one of my rear wheel bearings is on the way out so I’ll pick a couple up tomorrow from the Triumph dealer.
Salt Lake City was the destination to pick up some spare wheel bearings from the Triumph dealer there.
Then I rode past the Salt Lake the city is named after. It was big and it was still as a mill pond.
From there it was west to the world-famous Bonneville Salt Flats.
When Winston and I arrived, we had to get on to the salt flat. Although this is just a salt flat, for me it’s one of the highlights of the trip. To think that this is the place where man has travelled the fastest on the ground was amazing. The technology, bravery and living on the edge to realise your dream encompasses all I hold dear. There have of course been those who have sacrificed their lives and failed to achieve the ultimate goal. There was an eerie stillness; you could feel the history all around.
I then travelled the most desolate road in America, at least that’s what the sign said. There were hardly any cars and it probably is the most desolate place based on my trip so far.
I meandered down some lovely sweeping roads through the Idaho farmland and then onto some smooth gravel roads to mix it up a bit. If I thought yesterday was desolate then today, I must have been on another planet because it took me an hour before I saw a living thing.
Idaho is famous for its horticulture, specifically potatoes. They are that serious about it they even have a potato museum.
I passed through Caribou National Grasslands, Caribou National Forest and then through the Teton Pass to Jacksons Hole. They just call it Jackson now. I don’t know what they did with the hole, maybe they filled it in!
I stopped at the visitor centre in Jackson and was advised to get a camp site just outside of Jackson as all the other camps are full right through to Yellowstone. I took their advice and made camp at 4:30pm. Tomorrow Yellowstone. I will be keeping an eye out for Yogi and Boo Boo.
I awoke to a cool morning which is refreshing as the day gets quite hot. I left camp and headed down a gravel road which leads to a paved one. This road had a lovely view of the mountains with wild flowers growing in the field in front. It was a great way to start the day. I headed for Yellowstone on the main road. The traffic was heavier than normal as this weekend is 4th of July celebrations. Five minutes on to the main road then I get my first flat tyre of the trip. It was the rear tyre. I pulled over to the side of the road and found somewhere I could tie my front wheel down so it didn’t lift because of the weight of the panniers when I put it onto the centre stand.
No problem here I thought. I have a spare tube; I have tyre levers and I have an air compressor. I whipped the back wheel off and found a slither of a nail in the groove of the tyre. I thought, what are the chances of the nail hitting the thinnest part of the tyre? quite high by the looks of it.
I got my tyre levers out and tried to break the bead, wow it was tough. The tyre levers I have, have a very rounded edge which did not bite into the bead. I persisted for over an hour until I got it. I had taken a far bit of bead off in small chunks with the levers. Then for the other side, I found this impossible to break. A guy pulled over and gave me a hand and we could still not break it. Another guy pulled up. His name is Bear and he is an ex-Brit now living in the States running a security company. He kindly offered to run me back into Jackson to the KTM shop to fix the tyre then run me back to the bike.
The guy in the KTM shop didn’t have a 17-inch tube so he patched the one with the hole and said I hope that holds. I discovered he’s an Heidenau agent and had the K60 front and rear that fit my bike in stock. While I was there, I purchased a longer square edged lever. I asked if he had a bead breaker but he didn’t. I’ll have to pick one of those up before I get into more desolate country.
Bear dropped me back to my bike and I refitted the wheel and put all my gear back onto the bike.
I am always amazed by the kindness of total strangers. Thanks, Bear, for all your help.
As it is 4th July weekends all of the campgrounds in Yellowstone Park are full, so I returned to the one I had left in the morning. I booked in for three nights and decided I would get the set of Heidenau’s fitted on Monday so I will be ready for Alaska.
Opposite me in the campground are a group of guys and their wives riding two Yamaha FJR1200 and one a Ducati Multi Strada. They invited me over for dinner and we had a good chat. It was a nice way to end a less pleasant day.
My neighbours with the bikes invited me over for breakfast which was nice. They then invited me on a ride which I declined as I wanted to get some things done. Exciting things like washing!
Day 308 Sunday 5th July 2015
My motorcycling neighbours have dwindled down to two, Keith and Larry. They’re good guys and invited me over for breakfast again. They are definitely well set up.
I spent most of the day planning my route to Alaska with the help of one of the seasoned travellers in the camp. It’s 5500 km to get to Prudhoe Bay.
Day 309 Monday 6th July 2015
It was drizzling when I took the tent down this morning but that didn’t dampen my spirits because I headed for the KTM shop to get my new set of Headenaus’s fitted. The guy wanted to charge me $90 to take each wheel off so i did it myself. I also borrowed an oil tray and did an oil and filter change while I waited for the tyres to be fitted.
Bears Tooth Canyon is supposed to be one of the best rides in the US so Larry, Keith and I decided we would ride it together. I met them at Cody which is named after William Cody alias Buffalo Bill.
The ride to Cody was scenic and followed the river for some of the way.
Day 310 Tuesday 7th July 2015
We headed off up to the famous Bear Tooth Canyon or highway 212. As soon as we got on to it the roads started to twist and ascend. The views were magnificent, the road was smooth and cambered and around every corner there was something new to see. As we got higher it got colder and the snow line began to approach. Before long we were above the snowline and at the top which is over 10,000 feet
Besides the magnificent views, lovely motorcycling roads I saw my first grizzly bears. There were two of them bighting the tops of the long grass. How ironic that they were at bear tooth Canyon.
We then descended down the curvaceous road and ended up in a town called Red Lodge. Larry, Keith and I went for lunch, which they kindly paid for. It was nice spending time with them; we shared many common interests and had a good laugh. We bid each other farewell and we went our separate ways.