Sunday, October 15, 2017

Harley wings over America, Part Four, The road home.

Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho.

This 2,000 year old lava flow created some interesting formations. Even though it was almost 90 degrees outside, inside these caves there were still sheets of ice!

Stopped in mid flow, frozen in time.

Frozen in time and cold enough inside to freeze water.

Just a nice walking path through the surface of the Moon.


EBR-1 was the first nuclear breeder reactor in the United States.It's located in the middle of a large restricted experimental area. EBR-1 produced enough electricity to light up the small nearby town of Arco. It's surprising how little shielding was used around the reactor core. I'm glad I stopped to see it.

It gets really hot in the central Idaho- Oregon desert. After I spent the night in Boise, I finished up crossing the desert to Bend Oregon.

Crater Lake, well worth the detour.

At Bend it became cooler and greener. As the elevation increased it even became cold enough to find some snow left on the mountainside.The side trip to Crater Lake was well worth it. The lake is surrounded by very steep cliffs and it is possible to go over the side. That water is 3,000 ft. deep! At the rim of the lake I met some people and we took each others pictures. Unfortunately his finger got in the way! At Grant's Pass Oregon I was lucky to find the only open gas station in town.

Always a picture of the bike.

At least they got my face in the picture.
As I crossed the border into California I knew that my trip was coming to an end.

The coast just south of Crescent City.
California sure did look good.

Paul Bunyan is joined by Babe, who is off camera.
Rick and I had stopped at the trees of Mystery in Klamath Ca. a couple of years back. This time I just stopped to take a couple of pictures. My last night on the road was spent in Eureka. The next day I was home.


This was the trip of a lifetime. When I started the trip my bike was using oil at the rate of one quart every five hundred miles. By the end it was only getting 125 miles to the quart. The valve guides were pretty worn and a puff of blue smoke marked every instance of acceleration. Except for the trouble with the ignition advance weights it had been pretty trouble free. Since I assembled it using Locktite not a single part vibrated off. I had learned my lesson about cheap aftermarket parts and preferred to use genuine Harley Davidson parts and accessories in my bike's construction.

I had bought this bike new and at the end of the trip i think that I only had a total of around twenty five thousand miles on the clock. I decided that a top end rebuild of the motorcycle was required, new valve guides, and regrinding the valves brought the motor up to snuff. It seems odd now that Sportster valve guides didn't have much of a life expectancy. The entire motor didn't have much of a service life beyond around fifty thousand miles. When I reached that mileage I did a complete rebuild and used Manley phosphur bronze valve guides and stainless steel valves, These higher quality components would last another fifty thousand miles. 

Though I continued to ride motorcycles for the thirty years, I've never again took a single trip that was longer than this. There were plenty of trips to Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Mendocino and LA. The responsibilities of adult life started to take up more of my time, and it was not a bad trade off. 

Almost forty years later I don't think that any more motorcycle trips will be in my future. When I stopped riding motorcycles my family and friends were kind of amazed. I had been riding since I was fifteen and a half years old. I rode everyday and everywhere, I had wanted to disprove my Dad's perception (and comments!) that motorcycle was just a toy, not real transportation. My Brother said it was like "Fonzie" giving up his bike.

 My decision to stop riding came from a couple of factors. For one, I had seriously injured my back, though it had not been motorcycle related. After I recovered I continued to ride, but I just found that I didn't enjoy it that much any more. Especially just getting on and going for an aimless ride. It just felt like a waste of time. After a second more serious  flare up of my back problems ten years later, I decided that It wasn't worth taking any more chances, and I would reduce the risk by not riding motorcycles anymore. I suppose that the most terrible thing isn't that I gave up riding. The terrible thing is that I don't even miss it anymore.

In the early shows, Fonzie rode this cool knucklehead
photo source: Happy Days

Fonzie Out!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Keep Calm, Motor On!

I'm at it again, trying to be clever developing logos and such.
I came up with the artwork, My Daughter handled all the computer design stuff.

First it was the logo for my blog, now it's this inspirational shield. This shield sort of summarizes the right approach and attitude you need when dealing with hobby cars. When problems or complications occur, keep calm, take a step back and review the situation. You can't eliminate the innate frustrations and disappointments of our hobby, just learn to manage them! The crossed wrenches symbolize our ability to pick up a wrench and fix the problem, and our pride in our ability. Motor on, Good Man.

Wading through the swamp. Too many cars with too many problems.

It feels familiar though I've never been there, at least literally!

I'm sure you've seen a movie where the hero was lost in the jungle or swamp and battles his way through , only to find that he has been walking in a circle! Right back where he started!

Not too easy to find your way out.

That's kind of how it feels to me right now.

My XJS is in limited use status, That just means that I will be able to drive it to work. It doesn't sound like much, but for almost two years it was just sitting. I know the front suspension needs work, but it will wait for now. I have driven it during our recent heat wave, and it performed quite well, keeping it's cool. This week the weather has taken a delightful turn towards Autumn, cool mornings, warm days and cool nights. This is our usual weather pattern. With the windows down it should be quite comfortable. I took the opportunity to wash and wax the car. I found that the area under the rear bumper was pretty dirty. A careful wash was followed by polishing up the stainless steel tail pipes. It made quite the difference. The original paint is still very good, it's a survivor, a twenty eight year old car. I want to preserve the finish as long as I can. The car is under a cover when it's not being driven. A clay bar cleaning is probably next.

The XJ6 is running fine but it really needs the front suspension done. This has got it into the limited use rotation. It has also developed a slow leak in the left front tire. I replaced the tire with the spare this evening. I'm going to drop by the shop to get it fixed. There are lot's of used tire stores around San Jose and I've even used a few. However I wasn't going to trust my Jaguar's wheel to those guys! These shops will usually use a floor jack under the rocker and they are not too concerned with bending the rocker stamping. It happened to my Chrysler minivan so I am very wary.  I would not take my car to a shop like that.

It turns out that the tire was leaking at the valve stem. I visited my usual tire store, Wheel Works, and they were quite busy. The counterman told me to drop off the loose wheel and come back in a few hours. The manager said that he could do it in five minutes! I gave him the wheel and he did have it done, just like that! When I asked how much, he replied, "no charge". Now that is how you build a customer relationship. I have purchased quite a few sets of tires there and that's where my next set for my XJ6 will probably come from. Hopefully a set of Kumhos or Hankooks.

Then something happened to the Explorer. My Daughter was driving it while the newer Mustang was at the dealer getting the airbag recall done. It stalled out at a stoplight and wouldn't restart. My Daughter has no interest in cars, she doesn't even think about them, just drives. She didn't know where the emergency flashers were. I really can't blame her as I've never shown her.

Typical fuel pump set up.

At first I thought that maybe the fuel pump had given out. This is one of those failures that occurs without any warning and it renders the car unusable. This is probably the bane of a modern fuel injected car. With the fuel tank mounted pump it's not something that can be easily or quickly fixed by the side of the road. I remember when the fuel pump failed in my '96 Mustang. My Daughter had made a late night call at one o'clock in the morning telling me that she was having trouble with her car.

After addressing the issue with her car, I was driving home at about two in the morning, when the car suddenly lost power. Luckily I was able to exit the freeway and reach the shoulder. The car wouldn't restart and Triple A flat bedded my car home. I thought that it was the fuel pump. The next day I tested my theory by shooting some starting fluid into the throttle body. The car fired, then died, just what I would have expected.

However the Explorer started when the Triple A guy arrived for my Daughter. He was able to drive it up onto the flat bed. It also started at the house and he drove it off the truck into our driveway.  When I got home I tried to start it and it fired up. I didn't want the Explorer taking up a spot in the driveway so I started it up again later, and parked it in the "Valley of the Excess Cars" ( This is the side street around the corner. Quite a few cars parked there). Maybe it isn't the fuel pump.

There's no way of knowing when the fuel pump will fail. Usually they will last between one hundred to one hundred and fifty thousand miles. If you bought the car new, you know that you're driving on the original pump. When you buy a used car there's no way to know how long that pump has been there unless there is a receipt for it's replacement in the glove box. Modern pumps are housed in the fuel tank. They run cooler and their long life span is proof that this is a better idea. Back in the old, low tech days the fuel pump was bolted to the side of the engine block and could easily be changed in a half hour, and the pump could be purchased for under 50.00. Though it didn't last anywhere near 100k. Replacing the pump in my '96 Mustang cost me 500.00. Now I know that it's good for years to come. Would a preemptive replacement on an older car with no service history be a good idea? It would give some peace of mind, but it's hard to spend that much money if the car is currently running okay. I remember that the pump in my '90 Dodge Caravan, (purchased new) lasted until 130,000 miles were on the clock. It did give me fair warning of it's impending failure. Sometimes it took a lot of cranking time to fire up, but it never left me stranded.

So what to do? As I stated, my '07 Mustang went to the dealer to have the air bag recall done. It came back with a print out of work that the car need to have done- Pronto. Since I bought this car new, I always think of it as a new car, but it's not. At least anymore. There's a good bit of needed maintenance that I have to get done soon. So my Jags will have to wait a bit more.

Maybe I can find a minute to work on the Mark VII? It's about time that I try to drill out that bolt for the grease fitting. I suppose that I can find a machine shop to do it for me if my efforts don't pan out. I should at least try to get the handbrake working properly. I've got to install the carbs again and see if I can get the motor to fire up. My plan is to make up a fuel can that will feed the carbs directly since I don't think those old fuel pumps are going to be in working order. I've also got to primer those rusted surfaces on then hood and roof, the rain will be coming soon.

My current  big project has been working on my backyard. There has been a lot deferred maintenance. It has taken  up a lot of my time, and has cut down my time available to work on my fleet. It had gotten overgrown since the kids grew up and stopped playing outside, so it was easy to ignore. I had a tree blow over in a storm last Winter.  It resulted in a huge mess that I tried to ignore for awhile. Finally though I had to deal with it, I had to cut up the tree and dispose of it. It was a huge job. That was only the first installment.  

This is just half the tree.

Cutting up all those branches!

Sometimes the cars just have to wait.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Harley Wings over America, Part Three. On to the Big Apple!

After a visit to the Harley factory museum at York PA. I left for NYC.
The factory tour was suspended while new models were starting up on the line.

Rodney C. Gott was the chairman of AMF.
The board was responsible for saving Harley Davidson.

I never got the chance to wear this badge.

A low key sign for a source of so much history.

The streamlining caused instability at speed, 136 mph.

The museum was very interesting. Antique Harley Davidsons were not commonly seen although some of the chopper magazines began to feature articles on vintage bikes. Joe Petrali rode a streamlined EL twin to a new speed record. The EL was the new for 1936, OHV 61 ci. twin. This bike was the father of all following big twins. I had seen the bike pictured in a black and white photo in a book, but was not prepared to see the actual bike in that appealing shade of blue.

The streamlining was removed for the top speed run.
It looks like the paint has held up better than the leather.

Never would have expected this.

The prototype of the OHC Sportster was quite surprising, as HD had the reputation of being excessively tradition minded. Perhaps the most telling vehicle on display was the green and white '58 Panhead. Such a beauty. Everyone who saw it asked the question, "Why can't they build a bike that beautiful now?" Well they did. The return to Classic styling is what saved the company and almost damned them at the same time.

Quite the bike!

The Seventies were not the most tasteful decade.
The boat tail seat didn't work out on the Sportster  or the new Superglide.

As I mentioned before in the Summer of 1979 there was an uneasy social malaise in the air. There had been reports of fights at gas lines although I never witnessed any altercations, There was a free floating anxiety that was pervading the country.

Ready or Not, Here I come!

Adding to the mania of the day was worry of where Skylab was going to crash to Earth. Satillites have to follow the law of gravity and fall back to Earth sometime. The concern was whether or not the debris would be completely burned up upon re entry into the atmosphere. The path of the orbit put it over much of the United States. It ended up landing somewhere in the Arctic.

Three Mile Island

That about sums it up.

Passing by Harrisburg PA which was the site of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor.  This is only a short distance from the Harley Davidson factory at York. Three Mile Island was the site of a near melt down of a nuclear plant. This had occurred in March of 1979, just a few months earlier. Luckily the incident was contained, but some radioactive steam had to be released. Still, tragedy was averted and life goes on. (Things did not go so well at Chernobyl, just seven years later). Everyone was bit jumpy until that space station finally crashed. Duck!

Passing by Valley forge in Pennsylvania I dumped my bike hard.

I had kept my map in the top pocket of the tank bag. I was approaching  a junction where I was unsure which road to take and spent a little too much time checking the map. When I looked up, the car in front of me had braked suddenly. I hit the front brakes hard, locking the wheel. The bike skid and went down on the left side, spinning into the intersection. I went down hard on my left leg and knee, My left boot toe was worn through to metal. My left knee and calf where scraped and bloody where the pant leg had abraded. My left elbow and forearm got pretty scraped up also. Luckily I wasn't struck by any following cars. My poor bike just slid into the intersection on it's side.

My reaction was to jump up immediately and move my bike out of the road. Some motorists stopped and helped me to move the bike to the shoulder and asked if I was okay.  I was already getting sore but I knew that there wasn't anything broken. As fate would have it, I had stopped earlier in Fort Smith Arkansas and  bought a silver and black, stars and stripes design helmet, ( I wasn't about to get a Confederate design) as I knew I was now about to enter the  helmet law states. Lucky for me!  I had left California without a helmet.

I hadn't felt it, but my head must have had some contact with the pavement as there was a scrape on the back of the helmet. I told my helpers that I didn't need an ambulance. I really didn't.

I checked out my bike. Damage was limited to a broken shifter and clutch lever. The end of the left handle bar grip was ground up a  bit and the lower edge of the left saddlebag was scraped up. I didn't realize that the windshield was cracked and that one of the bolts holding the fender brace had broken. I had "cushioned" the bike's fall with my leg. I wanted to continue on until I could find a Harley dealer and fix my bike. I attached a small visegrip pliers to the end of the broken clutch lever and I could still use the twisted remnant of the broken alloy shifter lever to change gears. I set off slowly down the road.

I stopped at nearby market and bought Mercurochrome, gauze bandages, tape and large, square, self adhesive bandages.

I went into a gas station bathroom and surveyed the damage. Lots of fairly light roadrash and scrapes, that oozed blood.  Nothing so deep that I felt that there was any real danger of tissue damage. I washed all the affected areas with soap and hot water, and dried off with paper towels. This was a very clean well equipped wash room! I applied the Mercurochrome and applied  the bandages and gauze. My pants were ripped but since I hadn't been wearing my leather jacket it hadn't sustained any damage. Skin will heal but that jacket cost me money!

I made my way up the road and found a campground in New Jersey and set up my tent. I remember waking up in the early morning darkness feeling very sore and for a moment, disoriented.             Where was I? I looked around and saw the tent and then I remembered what had happened. The thought of the accident filled me with a sudden deep sense of sadness, and I felt very alone. Was my adventure at an end?   How badly was I hurt? Could I continue? I didn't think that I was really injured, just a little beat up. I was beginning to feel sorry for myself until I opened my tent flap and stared out into the darkness.

Photo source: Mike Lewinski

Just then I saw small flashes of light flitting among the trees. What could this be, was something wrong with my vision too? No, these were fireflies. Fireflies! I had always wanted to see them. They had seemed like an almost mystical creature to me. I took this to be a good sign. What ever happened next, I would deal with it tomorrow

The twin Towers

It kind of chokes you up to see it for the first time.

This was the view from inside the Lady's torch.

Touring through NYC as a motorcyclist just passing through wasn't easy. In a car you can hide and lock up your gear, what can you do on a motorcycle? I really wanted to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I decided to follow the lead of Blanche DuBois ( look it up if you don't know who she is!), and depended on the kindness of a stranger. When I parked in the lot, I asked the attendant to keep an eye on my bike and gear. Obviously he must have, because my bike and gear was fine when I returned. I guess all New Yorkers aren't as bad as their reputation! As I was driving around the city I passed some of those stripped out, abandoned cars, that I'd seen on the TV, so maybe some of them are that bad!

I wasn't planning on spending the night in town, so I kept on going.

Through to Upstate New York. Once I left NYC everything seemed to go downhill. I was tired, sore, and in a hurry to get back home. There was a terrible headwind all the way across the state and I had to jettison my windshield which had been damaged in the crash. The headwinds made my back, neck, and arms ache. I camped at a KOA at Herkimer where I met a group of riders from Connecticut, but I still spent a depressing night. At Lowtown NY I had to fix a broken bolt in the fender /saddlebag mount. I headed up into Canada at Highway 81 above Watertown. This time it took longer to get in. Traffic is crazy and no one goes 55 mph. I spent the night in Peterborough. The weather was cloudy and cold. The next day it rained. My ride around Lake Ontario wasn't very pleasant.
The lowest part of my trip was on the day that I drove from Peterborough to Iron Bridge. It was cold and rainy and the campground was infested with mosquitoes. I must have gotten bit at least fifty times on my back and arms. There was a sauna available to the campers and I decided to gave it a try. Walking from my tent to the sauna building was like facing a gauntlet of mosquitoes! Those darn things would crawl along the  zippered tent door and window, trying to find a way in! It was a miserable night. The next morning I made a run for it to Sault Ste. Marie. I saw Cook Nielson's ( of Cycle magazine fame) van at a coffeeshop where I had breakfast. He gave my California plates a quizzical look, but said nothing. I was glad to be back in the US. The ride through Michigan was dreary. Wisconsin was a turning point for me, things began to look up. I spent a really relaxing night at a pleasant motel in Norway Wisconsin, The motel provided a nice Continental breakfast in the knotty Pine, wood paneled lobby. I chatted with the manager who was very friendly.

That morning I began to anticipate my last week on the road. Passing through Minneapolis/Saint Paul I picked up a new windshield. The Harley dealer sold me the windshield off one of the new Superglides that was on the showroom floor. I had kept the windshield mounting brackets on my bike's triple clamps (which are different on the Sportster ) the windshield was identical and bolted right on. As a bonus the shield had been pinstriped to match the showroom bike. Having a windshield really increased the comfort level when fighting the many headwinds.  My morale improved immensely. The Thrifty Scot motel in Owatonna provided a good room for 13.00! The weather warmed up and the helmet came off. I made it to Badlands National Park.

The Badlands national Park.

Things were much simpler back then.

Through the Badlands of South Dakota I made my way to the Mt. Rushmore monument. Things were a lot more basic in those days. Today this is a highly developed site, with a huge parking structure, viewing stands, displays and  a large snack bar /restaurant. And of course gift shops! A couple of years ago my Wife and I visited the site and I told her how much it had changed. I had heard of the Crazy Horse monument back then, but didn't take the time to stop by.  We stopped on our last visit and were amazed. It's incredible and well worth seeing.

Despite all the anticipatory signs, I didn't stop at Wall drug. Maybe next time.

That was the biggest storm cloud I had ever seen!
Those are the Black Hills in the background.

Up across the Continental Divide.

The Bighorn Mountains. Pretty rugged territory.

After the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore I headed north for the Bighorn Mountains. I kept waiting for that giant cloud to unleash thunder and lightening on my head. I've since experienced some horrific thunderstorms on my last visit to the area. Back in 1979 I managed to escape the storm. I spent a cold night in Buffalo Wyoming.

The Bighorns are tall mountains, one pass was over 9,000 ft. At that altitude it was cold. My bike was running pretty good but the third gear ratio jump made it a bit uncomfortable. Lots of time was spent running in second and third gear. The road was too steep and twisty to keep it in fourth. Running through the mountains I passed a caravan from Indiana State University. There were 15 vehicles full of Geology students. They waved as I went by.

Not my photo but my memory. I've gotta take my Wife there.

The next day I rode through Yellowstone Park and made it all the way to Idaho Falls. It was a long day. That's probably why I didn't take any pictures of Yellowstone, maybe that, combined with the fact that I had been there just last year. Rick and I had passed by the Grand Tetons and had spent the night in Jackson Hole. I was feeling like a real adventurer until I met a fellow in camp who was riding his bicycle cross country! He had ridden through those same Bighorn mountains several days ago. Now that would be a real adventure.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Color My World. My first car, a 1966 Ford Mustang.

Ready to add your own touches and colors.
image source: Classic Cars Coloring Pages

Color My World. This was a hugely popular hit for the band Chicago. Chicago was one of the greatest groups during my high school years of 1969 to 1973. In so many ways our first cars are the blank canvases that we have colored with our hopes and dreams, however rooted in reality or fantasy. The car that we end up with is our "tabula rasa" that we will color with our expectations and the life experiences that we wish will accompany this vehicle. So much hope!

My first car was not my first vehicle. I had owned several motorcycles prior to this. I had been satisfied driving my Dad's cars whenever I needed four wheels. During my high school years I had owned a Honda 160, Suzuki X6 250 cc Hustler, Honda 305 Superhawk, and a Kawasaki 500 Mach Three.

I had been a huge Cadillac fan for many years, since I was a little kid growing up in Oakland California during the 1960's and 70's. The city had provided a constant parade of Caddies of all vintages. My Father and I used to hit the low buck car lots around the city, in the back row there were always plenty of clean 1950s and 1960s Cadillacs. I had my heart set on a 1956 model Coupe de Ville.

The year was 1974.

My Father on the other hand thought that I should buy a more age appropriate car, like a Camaro or Mustang. Even though I was paying for it myself, I thought that I would heed his advice. I decided to find a nice used '60s Mustang as my first car. They were cheap and plentiful at this time. I located it the way we all located cars for sale in those pre Craig's List days. I looked in the classified pages of the Oakland Tribune. There was a great section entitled "automotive bargains under 500.00." Where else would I look?

I know you've seen a million of these. Nothing special or outstanding.
 Mine wasn't quite this nice.

It sounded pretty good in the two line classified ad: 1966 coupe,V8/4 spd, duals, runs gd, 300.00. Ads were always kept short, you paid by the word, so there was a whole type of cryptic shorthand that was used. Kind of a vintage analog version of Twitter!

My Dad and I set off to see the car and test drive it. It did look okay. It was straight, with an obviously cheap respray of non original  green paint. The paint was quite dull. Why was the car re-painted? At the tine it was only about eight years old. The interior was nice and clean with only a cracked driver's seat cushion. There was that neat little Ford four speed stick between the seats. Outside I could see the tips of the exhaust pipes poking out ahead of the rear wheels. Under the hood was a clean little 289 crowned with the original two barrel carb. I fired it up and it sounded wonderful. The seller went with me for the test drive. "You'll have to slip the clutch a bit to get it started" he advised me. Why? "Because I put an automatic rear end for better cruising." I supposed my youthful naivete prevented me from asking him why he did that. What was wrong with the original rear end? But who cared? It could always be switched back. Three hundred bucks didn't seem like a lot of money, even back then. Believe it or not, another couple of hundred bucks could have gotten me a convertible or even a fastback. But the coupe would be good enough.

After I got it home I started coloring in my Mustang. I was finally going to get the opportunity to apply all that automotive knowledge that I had been soaking up over the years from the multitude of car and hot rodding magazines. During this time I actually learned a few valuable lessons that I promptly forgot over the next few cars that I bought.

On the other hand it didn't look this bad either.
This would have been a fifty dollar car back then.

First thing I did was to pull that huge horse out of the grille. I replaced it with one of the smaller Ponies that were used on the side of the fender, off set to the left side. Very cool looking. I removed the filler cap from the tail light panel by rotating it on the hose to locate the cap in the trunk. I was planning to fill the hole in, but never did. Might have been a good idea to vent the trunk, well, the open hole could take care of that. Of course I never got around to filling in any of the holes that were left after I removed the trim. The front gravel pan was dented up when I bought the car. I removed it to straighten it out and found it was full of Bondo. I took it to a sandblaster to have it stripped. The counter man asked me why I just didn't buy another one from a junkyard, it would have been cheaper and quicker. How would I have known that?

I don't remember how much I paid for these.

I wanted to lower the car but didn't  know how to, or want to, mess with cutting the springs. The car had come with two 13 inch, five lug wheels on the front, while the rear were the original 14 inchers. It gave the car a nice rake. I decided to swap out the rears for another another pair of 13 inch wheels which gave it a real nice low stance. I topped those off with a set of stainless steel Pinto hubcaps, it looked pretty good!

I drove it like that to watch the second run showing of American Graffiti playing in Alameda. Like Kurt in the movie I still didn't know the formula for finding a girlfriend and I watched the movie solo. I guess I needed a little more color in that area, too.

Where were you in '74?

I figured out how to stitch in a square patch for the seat cushion. Some routine wrenching followed: changing out the clutch, replacing the water pump, and switching out that rear end. I ended up spray bombing the front of the car in grey primer. Earl Scheib was still charging 29.99 for a full paint job, why didn't I go there? I don't think that I even kept this car for an entire year, didn't want to.

Another back row beauty.
 (Not the actual car.)

I found my real  "dream car" sitting on a used car lot on Broadway Avenue. Over thirty years would pass before I even thought of Mustangs again.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Harley Wings Over America, Part two. Run for the East Coast.

Crossing the Mighty Mississippi River entering Memphis.

After the delay and expense of my mechanical failure I realized that I was running my bank account down much quicker than I had anticipated. One of my priorities had been to make it to the East Coast, so I decided to pass on the Carlsbad Caverns and put some miles down. Across Texas and Arkansas. I did stop long enough at a Texas trading post where I bought a pair of steer horns, which I carried throughout the entire trip. These garnered quite a few humorous observations. These steer horns are still hanging up in my garage!

I entered Memphis, where gas rationing was in full effect. I almost ran out of gas and was running on fumes. Drivers were limited to five gallons per purchase. That didn't bother me, my tank only held a little over three and half gallons. The hour long wait did bother me though. Lot's of folks were pretty upset, five gallons won't take your Buick Electra very far.

I made a stop at Graceland which was one of my most anticipated destinations. Unfortunately, this was the weekend that Elvis' Father Vernon had just passed away and Graceland was closed down until after the funeral. While I was parked in front of the gates I was interviewed by a local television news crew. I'll never know if my interview made it on the air.

There was a thriving economy based on the mansion.

So close, yet so far. I still haven't gone back.

There was a large crowd waiting to get in.

This motorcycling couple hadn't come as far as I had, but they were still disappointed.

Just a glimpse of the grounds was all I got.

I found that the area consisted of the mansion and surrounding museums and souvenir and trinket shops. There was a lot of tacky memorabilia of all types available. I have been an Elvis fan for a long time but I could do without most of this stuff. I saw the motto "TCB" used on many of these items. I asked the clerk what that meant. I was informed that it stood for "Taking Care of Business." A good idea so I hit the road again.

I spent the evening of July Fourth at the Mountain Shadow Campground at Lookout Mountain in Georgia. I stopped to check out Rock City, it's kind of hard to tell the seven states apart from this view. I headed back into Tennessee to see the Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Town square, Cherokee North Carolina. That is a statue of Daniel Boone.
This was a typical sight in these small Southern towns.

I had read about this road in so many touring magazines, it did not disappoint.

The Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline drive were enthusiastically portrayed in all the touring rider literature I had been reading. I was really looking forward to seeing this beautiful country and I was not disappointed. The speed limit is very low, thirty five miles an hour, and the road can be choked with slow moving cars and especially motor homes. Passing is not allowed. I don't blame the motorists for driving even slower that 35 mph. so that Granny can take in the sights, but it's hard to ride a motorcycle that slow on a curvy road. It's just impossible to get in the rhythm of the curves, which makes riding a motorcycle enjoyable and even effortless in these situations. I would ride until I encountered a group of slower vehicles then pull over and wait for ten to fifteen minutes and hope that they had pulled into a pull out. President Reagan once said that if you've seen one tree, you've seen them all! This was one time that I had to agree with him.

It was quite an experience to actually ride on this fabled roadway, traffic not withstanding. It was beautiful with the fog covering the higher passes.

Skyline Drive is just an extension of the Parkway.

When I reached the end of Skyline drive in Roanoake I was ready to get back into the highway hustle and bustle.

I had read a a magazine article about the Lynchburg Virginia Harley dealer who had an impressive collection of vintage bikes. It was on my itinerary as I planned to stop. This was the first time I had seen a collection of classic Harley Davidsons. Motorcycles had not really been considered as museum items and a collection of this quality and size was quite unique. The owner was very accommodating and let me take some pictures while I sat on the bikes. I think he was impressed that I had ridden all the way out from California to see his collection.

After I had left Skyline Dr. I filled up the bike and headed for Washington DC. After taking the wrong roads a couple of times, I was almost out of gas when I reached town. There wasn't a station open anywhere. I slowed down to 45 mph. on the freeway. There were lots of cars doing the same. I stopped at a couple of closed stations and drained the hoses into a Coke can. Both stops barely filled up one can. I decided to try to make it to Annapolis, where I had a camping reservation.  Just after I checked in at the campsite I ran out of gas.  I arrived at the KOA just outside of DC and actually ran out of gas just as I reached my camp site.  A fellow traveler, who was towing a nice old Airstream trailer came to my rescue with a gallon can of gas. He and a friend were travelling around the country earning their way by painting houses.

A group of people were there  from Albuquerque, (what a coincidence!) and they said that they would keep an eye on my gear while I did some sightseeing. I set up my tent and left my bike behind for the weekend. My plan was to take a the camp shuttle into D.C. where I could join a bus tour of the city.

Washington DC Visitor's Center.

Taking a bus tour was really a good idea. Finding my way around and locating parking would have taken up most of my day. My favorite monument was the Lincoln memorial, just so impressive.

Dinosaurs, now you're talking! The Museum of Natural History had this great Stegosaurus statue out in front. I was so jazzed to see this. When I was a kid growing up most young boys were mad about dinosaurs. Anytime there was going to be a TV show or movie we would discuss it for days before and days afterwards. Most of the time the "dinosaurs" were just some iguana with a rubber fin glued on their back, nothing like the exciting pictures in the science books. At least this Stegosaurus looked like the real thing! Kids today are spoiled. Once Jurassic Park came out and dinosaurs were brought to realistic life on the screen, kids seemed to lose interest. Inside the Museum were displays of dinosaur skeletons . There was also the museum of Science and Technology which was crammed with interesting displays.

I didn't have the time to check out the Smithsonian Museum, much to my regret. It, and the Henry Ford museum are still on my bucket list.

I spent only a couple of nights in the area. The gas situation had not improved very much. I had to wait in line for over an hour to fill my gas tank in the morning. Destination New York City.