Monday, August 30, 2010

Blacktop Nationals; the Motorcycles

How can you have the "First Annual" of anything. I mean really. I suppose you could say the "Second Annual" of something, and no problem thereafter. But First Annual?

Well we did it here this weekend, the First Annual Blacktop Nationals Car Truck and Motorcycle Show. Participants around the area brought in their vehicles to show off. There was also an auction and various vendors had booths to sell wares. Ford Motor Co was a major sponsor

There weren't a lot of motorcycles on display. Maybe they didn't get the message. But there were some interesting ones to look at. I'll do a separate post on the autos.

This old Indian motorcycle was probably the finest motorcycle on display, my opinion only.

The downtown area was lined with cars on display for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The hope is that the event will be even bigger next year. Judging from the number of people there on Saturday afternoon, the event was a success, and might be even bigger next year.

A 1964 Cushman Scooter in fine condition

There seemed to be more motorcycles parked near the display area rather than being displayed. Around here that means lots of Harleys.

A definate non-Harley. A taxi from Thailand.
A nice early to mid 80's Honda
And another one.
At a separate location I found this Bonneville. Wasn't sure if it was actually on display, had no display card I could find. But it was sure nice. Was Conch here?
A Triumph Bonneville
We wandered over to the convention center parking lot. A couple of local area dealers had trailers set up. There is a huge Harley dealer her just north of town.
The Harley dealership trailer with a few bikes on display.
Just down the way a bit is another dealership trailer. This dealer sells a lot of brands. BMW, Honda, Yamaha, Ducati, Kawasaki and even some Kymco and Honda scooters.
They had yellow tags on some of the bikes on display, indicating a special price for the event. I wished that ther could have been more bikes to look at that day, even though it was fun to look at all the cars. This next bike is one I sort of have my eye on. I just like it, and it is sort of a developing dream to own one someday. I was sort of hoping the dealer would have one on display there at the show. I asked and they said they didn't have one at the show, but did have a couple in stock at the dealership. I may stop by and get a closer look someday.
Honda NT700V

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Cooler Morning

Wednesday morning was very special! I was excited. Monday's high temperature was in the upper 90's. It had seemed like almost every day had been that way for the last 60 days. We hit 109 degrees one day a couple of weeks ago.

But a cold front came through Monday night, we got a couple of inches of much needed rain, and the prediction was for an overnight low of 58 degrees for Wednesday morning.

Absolute heaven!

We left the windows in the house open Tuesday night and slept like babies in the cooler air.

Part of the reason for the excitement though, was that I would be able to wear my relatively new denim jacket on my ride to work, rather than my mesh jacket that I had worn almost every day this summer.

Now, I love my mesh jacket. It has protected me in an accident, and is comfortable on hot days. It has 2 liners to enable me to wear it year round. But for some reason, I have grown a little tired of it. I actually bought the denim jacket a few months ago, but only worn it a few times. It is not a hot weather jacket. It is very nice to have 2 jackets, just for a little change of pace, if nothing else.

On Wednesday morning I donned the denim jacket and took off to work. The denim jacket has zippered vents, but I left them open. The cool air just felt so damn good as I rode. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the ride.

I plan to use the denim jacket almost exclusively in cooler weather. It should be fantastic in the winter months. The denim material is heavy, yet soft and comfortable. As I rode to work on Wednesday morning, I started to imagine what it would be like on a colder day with its own heavy liner and maybe a sweater underneath. It seems like it has been a long time since I have ridden that way.

In a sort of tantalizing way, the ride to work on Wednesday felt a lot more like Autumn rather than Summer. I know there are a few more weeks to go until Autumn is officially here, but I, for one am looking forward with great anticipation to cooler weather. I love riding in cool, even cold, temperatures.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

K-254, Too Dangerous?

Recently, there have been 3 fatal accidents on this road, one of them involving a motorcyclist.
Not sure this was the exact intersection, but there are many like it on this stretch of K-254 between Wichita and El Dorado, Kansas. The intersections are relatively well marked. The construction of the road is very fine.
I admit to not always paying a lot of attention to the news about vehicle accidents. But sometimes my ears perk up if I hear that it involves a motorcycle. In this particular case, a motorcyclist was dead at the scene. He was not wearing a helmet. It might not have made a difference.
The intersection of K-254 and Webb Road. Webb Road is a 4 lane paved road south of K-254, a gravel road north of K-254.
K-254 is a state highway. It is a quick route from the north side of Wichita to El Dorado where you can connect to the Kansas Turmpike. The Turnpike can be accessed in Wichita also, but if you can shave off 25 miles of toll road with an equally good free road, then why not?
I have crossed this road before, but will only sparingly ever travel on it. It's a little fast for Max and I. If I am riding out of town, I generally like state highways as opoosed to interstates and US highways. The state highways generally have less traffic and slower speed limits. But K-254 is an exception to that.
Looks much like an interstate, doesn't it.
For some reason I felt sort of drawn to the area on a Sunday morning. Pay my respects? Maybe. I guess I was sort of curious.
The speed limit is obvious.
Okay, if you are like me, if the speed limit is a certain number, don't you add 5 to that. Well a lot of people do. I have seen people literally fly down this road.
Looking west from one of the intersections
One of the problems as you approach K-254 from one of the intersecting roads is trying to guess how fast the traffic is moving. It is safe to assume that the traffic will, at a minimum. be traveling 20-30 mph more than that of the intersecting road. This requires you to speed up very quickly as you get on the road. There is also the issue of judging the gap of traffic into which you might enter.
Just how visible is this motorcyclist?
He's a little closer now.
This next picture really points out the issue for me. This is taken from a bridge over K-254 at Woodlawn Ave. There are exit and on ramps at Woodlawn. But there are no exit and on ramps at many of the other intersections. It has always seemed a bit strange to me to have a road with such a high speed limit and interstate features with as many intersections, almost every mile, as there are on this road.
In this picture at the top you can see the next intersection. The intersecting road is gravel to the north and paved to the south.
Easy to merge from this street.
The authorities have been looking at some of the safety issues. It's a great road and arguably some of the drivers involved were not as careful as they should have been. But some people have wondered whether this road is just too good. Maybe better than it should be.
The motorcyclist that lost his life was traveling on K-254 just a couple of miles from here. Someone pulled out in front of him while they entered the highway. A damn shame.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The First Air Force One

The monthly ride for the local scooter club, "The Wichita Twisters" happened on August 1. It was hotter than Hades. We had 13 or 14 people show up on various types of scooters from 50cc to 650cc. A few new people showed up as well. Pretty good turn out for such a hot day.

The ride this month was aircraft related. Wichita is famous for the manufacture of aircraft. Boeing, Cessna, Beech and LearJet all have plants here. McConnell Air Force Base sits near the southeast part of town where the old airport used to be. A newer airport now sits near the southwest part of town. Boeing has a large facility on the opposite side of the runway at the air force base. They do a lot of defense related work as well as commercial aircraft work. The Beech plant is on the east side of town with its own runways. Cessna and LearJet are near the newer airport.

I wasn't even aware of the history of "Air Force One". Near the downtown area, there is a display of the first plane designated as "Air Force One". The plane was manufactured in 1937 by Beech Aircraft Corporation and is now on display. I didn't even know this plane was on display here and was glad to learn where it was as we rode.

The sign is hard to read, by picture or otherwise, but describes the history of this plane.

They erected a monstrous fence in front of the display that made a good picture somewhat difficult. I guess they don't want any vandalism. For the day, these were pretty advanced planes and the Beech twin engine planes are famous for speed.

The Beechcraft "Air Force One" , the first one.

Nowadays, Air Force One is a Boeing 747, of course highly modified. We see the plane occasionally in the skies above Wichita because the plane comes here for maintenance and updates. Before that, Air Force One was a Boeing 707.
A shot through the fence of the radial engine
From there on, we rode to the east side of town toward the Boeing facility and the air force base. The old airport building has now been converted into an aircraft museum. Our next stop was to visit this museum and see some of the planes on display there. On the tarmac there is a Boeing B-52, and old Boeing 727 (Fed Ex plane), a LearJet, a Beech Starship, an older Boeing 707 converted to a refueling tanker, and various other planes. Many are very impressive.
Inside the building are many displays of even older aircraft and engines. It is quite interesting. Many early airplane pioneers set up shop in Wichita, and Wichita's growth as a city was largely dependent on this industry.
A Boeing 707 tanker with a bunch of scooters in front
The airplane industry took a major hit when the economy collapsed in 2008. There were thousands of people laid off. It seems to be recovering a bit, but slowly and the unions argue that much work has bent sent overseas to benefit from cheaper labor. After WW II, through the early 70's though, the industry was booming. Cessna, Beech and Learjet now produce luxury jet aircraft while still maintaining a business for propellor driven planes.
More scooters in front of an old Boeing 727 once used by Fed Ex.
The Boeing plant here is huge and does a lot of defense related work. It is convenient for them to have the air force base on the opposite side of the runway. We occasionally see all types of aircraft in the skies here. It is not unusual to see AWACS planes and other significantly modified aircraft.
Boeing also produces the front portion of the new "Dreamliner" which is then shipped by rail to Everett Washington for assembly.

Another "lineup" of scooters.

At the end of our ride we rode out to the new airport and ended up at this steakhouse for iced tea and soft drinks. It was a hot ride, but a fun one.

The destination for cooling off and getting liquid sustenance.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thoughts on the Road to Nebraska

Some of you that are more experienced and accomplished "Tourers" than I am may find some of the words in this post a bit simplistic. But my intent was just to record some thoughts, pictures and observances from the longest trip I have ever attempted on two wheels. So for posterity, here it is!
The final decision to take Max to Nebraska wasn't finally made until early Thursday morning. The weather forecast was just "iffy" enough to make me consider the possibility of taking the famous Canadian Subaru instead. But at 5:15 am I moved Max out of the garage and started getting the bags and backpack stowed. It was dark and there was some very visible lightning off to the east of town. But the radar indicated that the storm wasn't headed my way. I briefly considered putting on the rain jacket just in case, but didn't. We took off! I stopped briefly, a few miles away from home to check the packing a bit and was glad I did. I had purchased some new straps a few days before because I was worried that maybe one of the bungee cords would break. It happens, you know. The luggage bag I used was "strapped" to the bike and the small cooler I took was then bungeed to the luggage. The straps had come loose a bit and I needed to re-configure the straps a bit. Oh well, it was my first time using the straps, but I figured it out, got the straps re-positioned a bit better, and moved on again. I got gas in Newton, about 25 miles north of Wichita. Getting gas there was convenient because the next stop for gas would be about 70 miles from there, but after that it would be another 50 miles or so. Didn't think I could push it that far, and I was right. The sun was trying to come up when I got to Newton, but a lot of clouds in the east were obscuring the sun. I took this shot along K-15 about 25 miles north of Newton.
Max in the early morning sun
The next city of any size was Abilene, the boyhood home of Dwight D Eisenhower. His presidential library is there and I stopped to get a couple of pictures.
The chapel at the Eisenhower Center
As I slowed down while entering the city of Abilene, I heard a funny noise of what sounded like two pieces of metal clanging together. Not a bad noise, and not real loud, but it made me wonder. Was it me, or the car next to me? It was me. I didn't see anything right away and Max was running fine, so I didn't worry about it while I took these pictures.
The boyhood home of "Ike"
I needed gas in Abilene as well, and after I left the Eisenhower Center, I proceeded down the street to find a gas station. The clanging noise was definately from Max, and it sounded like it might be coming from the muffler area, but while riding, I couldn't tell for sure.
A statue of "Ike" The actual library where his "papers" are stored. I saw many people using the library.
Eisenhower was president in the 1950's after a successful career as a 5 star general and the commander of allied forces during World War 2. Ironically, he was the first president to coin the phrase of the "Military Industrial Complex". More recent presidents have huge libraries created for them. Clinton's, in Little Rock Arkansas, is immense. Ike's is modest in comparison. In my opinion, Eisenhower was an interesting person and was good for the country.
Max at the Eisenhower Center. If you look closely, you might see that the heat shield on the muffler looks crooked. It was.

While getting gas a little further up the street I was able to determine that the shield for the muffler was just about to come off and was the source of the clanging noise. There were supposed to be 3 bolts holding it in place. Two were missing and the third was loose. I tried to tighten it, but it appeared that it wouldn't hold very well, so the next solution was just to take it off. I did and put it in my backpack. I reminded myself not to stand too close to the muffler for the remainder of the trip. I thought to myself, if this is the worse thing that happens on this trip, then I'll be fine.

I tried to make one more stop in Abilene. I was a bit hungry and a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit from McDonalds sounded good. But as I dismounted, I noticed that a tour bus of some sort had also stopped there, the lines inside were long, and I decided I wasn't that hungry anyway and rode on.

I am always interested in "The Wave" that motorcyclists give each other. I gave and received many waves along the way. But for some reason, I didn't get any waves in Abilene. I wondered if the motorcyclists were just sort of "stuck up" there. Oh well, no matter.

It was just north of Abilene that I hit a bird. It was a small bird and it just glanced off my left shoulder, but I hope I didn't hurt him. I wondered a bit about what it would have been like if the bird had hit my face shield. I went riding on, and I hope the bird went flying on.

My route was primarily along K-15 which I took clear into Nebraska until just west and south of Lincoln Nebraska. There was very little traffic. A few trucks here and there. I sometimes tried to predict how bad the "truck wash" would be when you passed one going the opposite direction. Got surprised a bit a couple of times. Not sure I will ever get used to it, and don't like it, but survived very well.

I was a bit anxious to "get there" and pushed Max fairly hard. For much of the trip to Nebraska, I had the speedometer pointed at about 65 to 70 mph. Now I know that Max's speedometer is about 10% optimistic, so I suppose my actual speed was 60-65 mph, but I was fine with that. That would get me there just fine, in plenty of time to meet Gary. I had told him I thought I might get there about 2:00 pm. I was very close in that estimate.

The next gas stop was in Clay Center Kansas. It wasn't all that far from Abilene, and I could have gone much farther, but there were only very small towns after that and it was a pretty good stretch to get to the next town of any real size, Fairbury, Nebraska, so I stopped for gas again.

I used to have this BMW 633csi automobile that had quite the funky gas guage. Now this BMW, my only experience with the famous Kool Aid some of us keep hearing about, was notorious for having the gas guage indicator stay up high for awhile and then drop quickly as the miles went by. I actually ran it out of gas one time, accidently. But because of this experience, I have developed a major distrust of all gas guages, no matter the vehicle.
In addition, I haven't taken Max on many little excursions like this and was unsure what kind of gas mileage I could get at highway speeds. I normally get about 75 mpg in town and Max has about a 1.8 gallon tank. But I assumed that my gas mileage would be worse at highway speed, and consequently I stopped to get gas more often than maybe I needed to. If the indicator got down to 1/2, then I started to get nervous. It turned out I was partially right. I ended up averaging about 60 mpg on the trip.
Helmet Hair!
There was this music playing in the McDonalds in Abilene. It was a relatively popular song maybe 20 years ago, and I knew the song well. As I ride I like to hum songs as I go, and I started to hum this song. Eventually though, I couldn't get it out of my mind and purposefully tried to think of another song to hum. It drove me crazy a bit, but I survived.
Clay Center, the county seat of Clay County had a very nice downtown area that surrounded a very nice county courthouse. I stopped again for a few pictures. I have a client that lives here, but I don't think I had ever visited this town. It wasn't a big town, but the people seemed friendly and I was relatively impressed.
The courthouse in the morning sun Some of the stores in the "square" surrounding the courthouse. A statue on the courthouse square
After Clay Center, I rode through Washington, Kansas. A former business partner of mine was from this area of the state originally. I didn't stop to take any pictures, but rode around a bit, and it seemed like a nice town. From then on I was hell bent for Nebraska. A little turn to the west and then back north to the border.
They say Nebraska is the "Good Life"
It wasn't bad to look at.
I stopped in Fairbury, Nebraska to get gas again, and by now I was getting hungry. After getting gas I stopped at a McDonalds and got a quarter pounder value meal. No pictures. Everybody knows what they look like. The fries were incredibly salty. Do they teach salting fries at hamburger school? I wondered. But it was quick and easy. I was anxious to move on, knowing that at this point I was over 2/3 of the way there. . There was a stretch from Fairbury to Crete, Nebraska, that was pretty boring and Max and I pushed on pretty hard. Both Fairbury and Crete were, to me, fairly non-exciting towns.
Helmets required in Nebraska, not in Kansas. I didn't take mine off.
The ride into Lincoln was relatively uneventful as well. I adjusted my route in an effort to find the hotel, and actually went right to the hotel. I was glad and arrived about 7 1/2 hours after departure. I thought I might be tired, but felt surprisingly good. It was nice to get into the hotel room and cool off a bit, but within a few minutes, I was ready to go again. Gary and I rode and walked around town a bit. I have to admit that Gary's Harley was able to keep up with Max fairly well. (grin) . After spending time with Gary and getting a pretty good sleep that night in the hotel, it was time to re-pack my stuff onto the bike. I discovered that I had two piles of really sweaty clothing that I had worn that first day. Since I am an amateur "tourer" my method of protecting some of my baggage in case of rain was to take along a couple of large plastic garbage bags. I could place the luggage in the bag and strap it to the bike if needed. But no rain occurred, and the forecast was for no rain on the return trip, so the plastic bag was used to house the sweaty clothes for the return trip. I thought that if I hadn't done this, then all the clothes in my bag would have smelled pretty ripe by the time I got home. . Day Two was predicted to be a bit wamer than day one, and I would take the same route home. The skies were a bit cloudy as I left Lincoln and the temperature was in the low 70's. Actually very nice. I was a bit surprised about how much cooler it felt when the sun wasn't shining directly on you. On day one, the sun shone the entire day, but the temperature was actually a bit cooler. Day Two was actually a bit warmer, but partly cloudy. Probably more cloudy than sunny for most of the ride home, and it made some difference in how I felt. It was still warm, but didn't feel bad at all.
I didn't push the speed as hard on the way back. I tended to ride about 5- 10 mph slower on the way home, but I wasn't rushed, traffic was still very light and I wanted to enjoy the ride.
I did. . As I re-entered the state of Kansas, I noticed a Highway Patrol car sitting near the intersection of K-15 and US-36. It ws at this point where I was due to turn back east a bit and approach the town of Washington, Kansas. The Patrolman was just sitting there, but I thought it a bit odd. I made my turn and proceeded east and about 1/2 mile down the road I encountered a funeral procession.
And this wasn't just an average funeral procession.
I became quickly amazed at the size of the procession. It went on for at least what seemed like 2 miles and was pretty obvious that the Patriot Guard was involved. I would guess that there might have been over 300 motorcycles and 100 automobiles involved. My only regret was that I wasn't smart enough or quick enough to even get the camera out and take a picture. You'll just have to believe my description.
It occurred to me later that the procession might have started at Fort Riley, a large US Army base near Junction City, Kansas which ws about 70 miles to the southeast. It was a darned impressive sight. I got a wave from almost every motorcyclist in the procession and felt honored to even see the procession occur. It's easy to take a lot for granted, but here is an instance where I felt a bit humble that someone had given their life in defending something they felt important.
And I was just out here having fun.
Then there was a stretch of road just south of Washington, Kansas that looked like this.
The "Scraped Roadway"
A section, totalling about 20 miles, had been scraped off in getting ready for a new layer of blacktop. Lines and lines and lines. Oh, it wasn't real dangerous on two wheels, but it did command some attention and the front wheel got a but "squirrilly" a couple of times. I slowed down a bit through this area. It didn't last too long, but was a bit obnoxious. I was glad to get away from there.
. The next picture is a bit out of order timewise, but the thought occurred to me about what it was like to "head for home" Kansas has always been my home.
Still many miles to go, but seeing this sign was somehow comforting.
As I rode along, I must admit, that I was getting a pretty sore butt. Day One didn't bother me a bit and sometimes my back gets tired on longer rides. But the way I positioned my bag and cooler for this trip, I had a way to lean back a bit and felt pretty comfortable.
But my butt was another story. I found myself doing things to try and change riding position, like leaning forward, to try and change things up and alleviate soreness. I thought about Jack Riepe's Day Long Saddle. The saddle on Gary's bike was really nice looking, too, and looked like it might be comfortable for a long time. At stop lights I would take a moment to stand up and stretch out the legs. Anything I could do, I tried. But it seemed that mile after mile of bumps from the roadway just added to the soreness. Okay, I didn't die, but it made me consider the fact that if I were going to do some longer touring some day, a different seat might help a bit. . Max is a great bike, perfect, even exemplary, for the commuting purpose I bought him for. And he was great on this trip, no complaints. It's just that if I do more of this touring "stuff" a bigger machine would help, definately with a more comfortable seat. That said, I still have no plans to be a longer distance tourer. But someday, maybe........
The only other mishap, mechanically, on the trip, again occurred in Abilene Kansas, on the way back. What is it about that town? Nobody waves either. As I got gas again, I tried the starter and nothing happened. Now I had experienced a small amount of difficulty with the starter for a couple of weeks before the trip. On occasion, it just seemed that the starter button would not connect. For awhile I thought that the connection with my brake lever was the issue. I have to depress the brake lever for the starter to connect. But then, I noticed that the starter switch itself seemed to be a bit loose in the handlebar shroud. I fiddled with it a few times and seemingly got it fixed. And it never acted up any time previously on this trip. But after trying it about 10 times, I was becoming worried.
I got out the screwdriver and fiddled with it again. I doubt seriously that I really did anything to correct the situation, but the next time I tried, it fired right up, and I headed for home, never turning Max off again, just in case. LOL. Further investigation is warranted when I get home.
After leaving Lincoln at about 8:00 am on Friday, I arrived home about 3:45 pm.
Total miles for the trip were 609 in two days. Not bad if I don't say so myself. Surely not maybe impressive or comparable to what other riders have done, but very significant for me.
The entire trip was a blast. A little shorter of a trip would be more advantageous for Max, but it's nice to know he can do it. He ran like a top.
I, however ended up with a sore butt, but a lot of good memories.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Max Gets to Cavort with the "Leading Ladies"

or the alternate title
What Happens in Lincoln, Stays in Lincoln
Max at the border
Look at how much worse the road gets when you cross over the line
Do you ever get those wild hair ideas?
A few days before this trip, my wife looks at me with a very skeptical look on her face and says: "OK, you're telling me you want to ride your scooter to somewhere in Nebraska, you don't even know exactly where, or when, and meet up with a guy (from England) you don't even know who says he is touring the USA on a Harley Davidson?"

I say: "Yup!"

She says: "How can I believe this? You could be going anywhere to meet anybody and I would never know."

She had a point there.

She asked where I was going. I said either Lincoln or Grand Island Nebraska depending on where Gary wanted to stop for the night. They were both about the same distance, both almost straight north of Wichita, Lincoln a bit to the east. Grand Island a bit to the west.

I said I will leave either Thursday, Friday or Saturday depending on when Gary made it to Nebraska and what city he decides to stop at. I will ride back the next day.

She didn't say it, but the look on her face was like "You Gotta be Fuckin' Kidding Me"

I never kid! (LOL)

She said: "It's Too Hot"

We had just had 6 days in a row of 100 degree temperatures. I really didn't want to spend 7-8 hours on the road with that kind of heat. Two days before I left the rain forecast also looked bad, the only benefit to that was that it was supposed to cool off a bit. Highs in the low 90's never sounded so good.

I said: "If the weather doesn't cooperate, I'll take the famous Canadian Subaru"

She said: "Uh huh", again with that look on her face.

Bottom Line? I am going to owe her for a long time for this little stunt.

But, the weather cooled off, the rain didn't materialize and Thursday morning I left the house at 6:00 am headed north. I had close to 300 miles to go so I didn't stop too many times to take pictures.

Gary and I had been emailing eact other with plans for almost two weeks. I didn't want to mess up his plans, but he seemed very interested in the idea of meeting up with me. He had provided me with the name of the hotel where he was staying and the approximate location. He sent me a link to their website, but it didn't work on my phone. Nevertheless, I was sort of familiar with Lincoln having been there a few times before. And I changed my route a little bit as I came into town hoping I might just stumble on to the hotel. I looked up and there it was on my right.

Gary's bike was easy to identify. I wondered if his bike wouldn't mind sharing a space with a scooter.
Max was a little timid at first. He's just a little guy compared to the almost Amazonian size and configuration of the "Leading Ladies" (Gary's bike)
Max and I got to admiring the ladies themselves.
After leaving Max and the Leading Ladies together to get acquainted, I went to see if they had another room at the hotel. They did, and as I was paying up for the night, I saw this guy walk into the lobby and knew right away it was Gary.
More of the "Ladies" on Gary's Road King
I checked out my room. I thought I would be tired from the ride, but felt surprisingly energetic. I got cooled off a bit and went over to Gary's room. Lincoln is the capital city of Nebraska and the home of the university of Nebraska. He had some potential activities for us for the rest of the day (It still wasn't 3:00 yet). They all sounded good and we decided to get on the bikes and go to a museum that had race cars and "speed related" stuff.
Okay, now Max is really excited! He not only gets to meet the Leading Ladies, he now gets to go for a ride with them. Almost like a date! If he played his cards right...... then maybe later.......

The paint on this bike is beautiful

We took off for the nuseum. Gary has all the "gadgets" and he punched the address into the GPS and after a short struggle we found the museum. We discovered it was closed though and only available for guided tours, the last of which was at 2:00. Oh well. Then we decided to go look at the state capitol building and the university which are relatively close to each other. Gary punches new information into the GPS and we take off.
Max and his new friend sharing a space.
We find appropriate parking at the university after we had spent a few minutes at the capitol.
Gary was telling me about motorcycle parking in England. It's apparently usually free, but some people want to use the spaces for cars and charge for parking. A revolution is possible.
Gary was curious about fraternities and sororities. We talked about the differences in the education systems in England and the United States. He wanted to know what was good about the University of Nebraska, or what they specialized in. My answer was "They are good at Football". I was only partially kidding. Nebraska has a good school, but football is very very important to people "up" here.
There's an old joke about the Nebraska football helmets, which are white with a red letter"N" on the sides.
The question is, "What does the "N" stand for?
The answer is "Nollege" (Knowledge) We walked around he campus a bit and took a couple of pictures.
It's a nice looking campus
I had about a zillion questions for Gary. As we walked around Iasked questions like How he had organized the ride? How long he had been planning? What did his wife think of all this? I tried to get all my questions answered and Gary was very cooperative about answering them. I hoped I hadn't asked the same questions he had already answered before and repetitively, but probably so.
All in a British accent of course. I did forget to ask him whether he loved the Queen.
Gary waded into the center of this fountain
We walked and talked and eventually got a bit hungry. I had stopped in Fairbury Nebraska for a McDonalds Value Meal, only because it was quick and easy. The salt content seemed to be enough to clear the streets of Philadelphia from snow. I needed some good food and we located a noodle restaurant that turned out to be very good.
Isn't 7 a lucky number?
Good food and more good conversation
After eating we wandered around a bit more and eventually decieded to ride some more to a couple of area parks. Gary punched the information into the GPS and we took off again. It was a comfortable evening.
Max and the Leading Ladies chatting it up by the lake
Gary and I talked about many things. Told many stories. Eventully we decided to go to another park. When we got there, we saw these two low riders and Gary wanted to get off and talk with the owners.

Low Riding Buick and Chevy

We had seen a 747 flying in the sky as we were riding. This park was directly south of the Lincoln airport. But then we noticed that the plane was "Air Force One". Gary got a better picture than I did.

The plane flew over us 4 times, maybe doing touch and go's at the airport

I had been very interested in Gary's trip since I first learned about it earlier this year. To me it would be like a "dream" trip to take. He's taking over 5 months to do this. Maybe traveling 150 miles a day. Stopping to see things along the way when he wants to or feels like it. He's generally not tied down to being certain places on specific dates. Can it get any better?

I asked him if he was really retired. He's only a couple of years older than me. He is fully retired, but I suspect he still stays a little "involved" in some things.

But can you imagine a better opportunity to see the country? Staying in the northern part of the nation during the summer, then visiting the southwest part of the USA in the fall. He has already seen many things I will probably never see in my life.

Me Jealous? Hell, Yes!

At times on his tour so far, he had other riders to ride with. Some are old friends and business associates. So not all of his travel has been solo, but a lot will be. He has already ridden with another blogger, Chris Luhman of Everyday Riding fame. He may also ride with yet another blogger after meeting me in Lincoln. I won't give it away who that might be for now.

Max and the Leading Ladies at Pioneer Park, near Lincoln

He mentioned to me after this shot that it might be getting close to "Beer O'Clock"! We rode back to the hotel and locked up the bikes and eventually headed across the street to a little bar to get a beer, or two, or three, or.....................

We talked a lot more about many things, generally harassed the waitresses, laughed and had a good time.

But it was getting to be 10:00 or so, I had had a long day, and we were both ready for a little "shut eye". So we went back across the street and went to bed. Not sure what Max and the Leading Ladies did that night as we slept, but "What happens in Lincoln, will stay in Lincoln". We met again for breakfast in the morning and had a decent breakfast. He was riding west and north with a relatively long day for him. In a few days he plans to be in Sturgis. They apparently have some sort of rally each year out there (grin). I was headed back south toward home.

I observed him packing up his bike and getting ready to travel. He is extremely organized. He'd have to be to attempt this trek of his. Max and I were getting ready to go too.

Gary is very proud of this ear of corn he picked up a day or two before Lincoln. You can see how well organized his bike is.

We only spent a few hours together, but the experience for me was very enjoyable. Maybe part of my reason for even trying to meet him was to somehow share in the dream that he is able to be "living out".

Gary, thanks for the opportunity to meet you. Take Care , Ride Safe, and Have a Blast.

I know a bunch of us will be following your blog and wondering what you might be up to, as well as wishing it could be us living the "dream".