Santa Fe to Holbrook, Arizona

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!

Chevy Bel Air in Madrid, NM Past Albuquerque New Mexico Sky Reflected Glory Sunset Over Arizona Leaving Santa Fe

 

Amarillo, Texas to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Our first stop of the day was the world-famous Cadillac Ranch which – if you don’t already know – is a patch of a field with a load of buried Cadillacs with their rear ends sticking out of the ground!

Visitors come along and are allowed to add graffiti to the cars; every so often the owner has them repainted to provide a blank canvas. Impressive as I thought it would be.

Then we stopped at the Midpoint Café in Adrian, Texas: halfway along Route 66. An impromptu performance by a group of musicians saw us on our way towards New Mexico, with the Blue Swallow Motel and then onto Santa Fe where we had stopped before a thunderstorm and torrential rain found us sheltering in (expensive) shops and a Starbucks.

Cadillac Ranch Let Us Spray Halfway There Closed End of the Road Objects... Blue Swallow Motel, Tucumcari, New Mexico Trucked Cadillac Ranch

Oklahoma City to Amarillo, Texas

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

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:

Fortune Cookie

Fortune Cookie

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

Big Texan Steak Ranch

Springfield, Missouri to Oklahoma City

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.

Bypassed
Angelo, Giles, Manuel and Davide

Springfield, Illinois to Springfield, Missouri

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.

Old Chain of Rocks Bridge Old Chain of Rocks Bridge Old Chain of Rocks Bridge Old Chain of Rocks Bridge Gateway Arch, St. Louis Devil's Elbow Route 66, Missouri Elbow Inn Meramec Caves

Chicago to Springfield, Illinois

Our first stop, after the obligatory journey’s start photo, was breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s.

Let's Go!

Let’s Go!

 

Lou Mitchell's

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

Gemini Giant at the Launching Pad

 

Dwight

Dwight

 

Picked Up the Harley

…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…

Arrived!

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!

Blogging in the USA

So then. Blogging, Facebook, e-mails, etc.

Yes, we all like to keep in touch with family and friends when we’re away and I will be taking photos and attempting to update this blog as I go. Which all means lots of data. Now, on  monthly basis – without really heavy photo uploads of large RAW images – I’m using anything up to 5GB of mobile data with 3′s “All-You-Can-Eat” data plan at £25 a month, though they have one with fewer voice minutes and text messages for £15 a month.

When roaming in Europe, I’m now using their £5 a day Euro Internet Pass which is fab – in April in Ireland, it cost me £18 for a quick update one day – but sadly there’s no similar option for roaming in the USA. Instead, I face charges of £3/MB so even if I limit my data over the 2 weeks to, say, 500MB, that would be £1,500!

I was thinking of picking up an AT&T SIM when I arrived in the US, but there’s no guarantee I’d be able to find an outlet without going out of my way.

So last night, I tried something else, buying a Dataroam pre-paid Micro-SIM that I’ll load before I go. That should do in my iPhone. But then I thought if I want to start downloading photos from my EOS 7D onto my iPad and then uploading them, I’ll either need WiFi in the hotel – not guaranteed – or I’d need to tether to my iPhone. Sadly, that’s not an option with the pre-paid SIM, so I’ve also bought a MiFi Hotspot device that I can use with all my devices. That way, I can also keep my UK SIM in my iPhone for texts and talk from friends in the UK.