The day started pretty badly: the Wigwam Motel doesn’t have a restaurant so it had been suggested we go to Joe & Aggie’s Café for breakfast instead as that was a real treat. Sadly, they were shut that Sunday morning, so I had to settle for a coffee and doughnut at the nearby Safeway!
Anyway, our destination was the Grand Canyon so off we went, stopping by in Winslow, Arizona to go and stand on a corner – as per the Eagles’ song “Take It Easy” – and Bellemont where there is a Harley Davidson dealership which features its own cafe where visitors cook their own burgers and sit around the pool tables. Out the back, there’s a garage specialising in doing up old muscle cars with some cracking cars for sale. What an excellent idea!
Then on to the Grand Canyon itself. Which was a bit of a disappointment from the vantage point we visited. I’m not sure what it was but I was underwhelmed by it. Maybe the visit planned for the next morning might be better?
More thunderstorms were forecast for the day, but we somehow managed to avoid them and spent the day basking in sunlight and heat as we travelled out of New Mexico via Madrid, used in the film “Wild Hogs”, and Albuquerque.
Into Arizona and a bit of a treat: the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona as sunset started to fall. Very impressive it was too.
As sunset fell, we got into Holbrook where we were staying at the Wigwam Motel, which was interesting!
Leaving Oklahoma City a short while after a much bigger group of Norwegians and Swedes, we headed off towards Amarillo (as we knew the way…), stopping by the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum.
Oklahoma Route 66 Museum
Then a stop for lunch at a Chinese buffet restaurant, eating with some of my new friends, Angelo and Manuel with Davide and Loredana and a great fortune cookie message:
Arriving in Amarillo, we were collected by Cadillac limousines with bullhorns mounted on the bonnets – no worries with Health & Safety here, it seems – to be taken to the Big Texan Steak Ranch and its 72oz steak challenge (which I declined to take). Good steaks though, and possibly the biggest carrot cake I’ve ever seen!
Big Texan Steak Ranch
Leaving Missouri, we headed through the SE corner of Kansas, stopping in one of the bypassed towns, Galena, for some photos.
Then into Oklahoma with its “heat advisories” given it was 115°F/46°C. This was to be a common occurrence for the rest of the trip, with temperatures above 100°F every day, hitting 115°F throughout Oklahoma, Arizona and the Mojave Desert in California.
Along the way, we met a biker from Toronto called Giles, who was semi-permanently on the road these days.
Sadly, our hotel for the night had a problem in the kitchen that even with its chef(s) who’d walked out and cover from other staff failed miserably: after a late 2 hour wait for food, it was awful so we didn’t pay and went to our rooms hungry and tired.
Leaving Springfield, we headed off towards Missouri and the Mississippi stopping for photos at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge.
On from there, we headed through St. Louis which was hot. Very hot. So hot that after a number of stops and starts, the Electra Glide got a bit tired and emotional and the engine management system decided to take a lie down and refuse to let the bike work. After a while, it decided to come back up, though the idle speed was too high, but at least I could continue my journey.
We stopped for lunch at the Meramec Caves, rumoured to have been the James Gang’s hideout. I’m not surprised they were caught, given they weren’t exactly camouflaged (see photo).
We also stopped at the Elbow Inn, Devil’s Elbow, which is a fabulous biker bar with hundreds of bras hanging from the ceiling!
Finally we reached Springfield, Missouri after a long 360 mile day in the saddle.
Our first stop, after the obligatory journey’s start photo, was breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s.
Then we headed off down Route 66 to Springfield, IL via a nuclear power station(!), Wilmington with its Gemini Giant at the Launching Pad, Dwight and Pontiac for lunch.
Gemini Giant at the Launching Pad
…and it’s not the one I chose.
Having had the Road King Classic as my first choice, I was a little disappointed when we turned up at Woodstock Harley Davidson after an hour’s bus ride to collect the bikes to be told that as they were out of Road Kings I’d have to ride one of their fleet of Electra Glide Ultra Limited bikes instead.
Woodstock Harley Davidson, Illinois
I consoled myself by thinking about being able to hook up my iPod – bought specially for the trip – to its sound system but was horrified when I saw the colour: “root beer”, aka ‘horrendous metallic brown’.
Harley Davidson FLHTK Electra Glide Ultra Limited
A ride back into central Chicago with traffic jams on a hot day revealed that it started to pink when hot…
Well I’ve arrived here in Chicago at the start of Route 66. My fellow travellers will be gathering later today and the plan has changed slightly in view of the high temperatures around at the moment: we will be picking the bikes up on Sunday morning rather than Monday, so we can be on the road first thing Monday morning.
The flight was fine but it did take United Airlines 35 minutes to check my bag in which, coupled with the mile walk to the gate, meant I had no time to grab a coffee and breakfast at 6.00am. Grr!
US immigration was also sadly on a par with the UK Border Agency so more delay getting through there, exacerbated by an Air India flight which seemed to have mainly wheelchair-bound passengers…
Off to explore now, I think!