A Little About Us

A Little About Us
INTRODUCTION: First, allow me to introduce the members of this group...I'm Mike riding my 2003 Heritage Softail Springer...my wife Juju is on her 2015 Freewheeler...and Ed and Nancy are on their 2009 Heritage Softail. For the purposes of this trip we are referring to ourselves as H.A.R.P. HARP is a made-up name and it simply stands for Hogs And Retired People...and all that means is that we are members of HOG (Harley Owners Group) and we are...you guessed it...retired! The name came about when seven of us made a trip out west, but just the four of us this time. I've done blogs before, and this one will be for the same reason...to refresh our memories in our "Golden Years" (they say the memory is the second thing to go...and I can't remember what the first thing was). What is different this time is the blog is being shared by THUNDER ROADS PENNSYLVANIA MAGAZINE...Truly, an honor. This journey will be a round trip from, and to our home town of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The plan is to travel to the Atlantic coast at Ocean City, Maryland for the "Official" start on U.S. Route 50. We will follow U.S. 50 west for over 3,000 miles to its terminus in Sacramento, California. From Sacramento, we will head a bit further west to the Pacific Ocean before we begin to travel south. California Highway 1 and U.S. Route 101, better known as the Pacific Coast Highway, will be the route for about 500 miles to Santa Monica. At the world famous Santa Monica Pier, we hop on Route 66...The "Mother Road". Travelling about 2,500 miles to the north east, we'll arrive at the end of 66 in Chicago, Illinois. The "Official" end of our journey. From Chicago, it's just another 450 miles and we're back in Pittsburgh. We've made very few lodging reservations, thus eliminating the pressure of trying to get somewhere by some deadline. The whole purpose of this ride to see this country and whatever piques our interest along the way...and we will be looking for that giant ball of yarn! So we invite you to ride along with us. We hope you will find it both entertaining and informative. Please feel free to leave your comments and share this with anyone you feel would have an interest.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Day 31 Monday August 24, 2015

Days without incident - 7
Days without rain gear - 17

A cloudless sky was everywhere we looked as a glorious sunrise was on display this morning.   Temperatures were cool but comfortable and we headed out on Route 66 for what was now our final segment of the adventure.

As it turns out, Missouri did a pretty good job on their share of Route 66.  Although not as well marked as Oklahoma, it was very well maintained.  One of the issues with road markings was addressed by a Missouri Welcome Center employee.  She told us that the problem with signage is that the signs keep getting stolen.  That's why they started painting the Route 66 logo on the road surface.  Unfortunately, the more a road is maintained, the more often the logo is a victim to resurfacing.

Never the less, I think Missouri did have some of the prettiest roads so far.  They were reminiscent of many of the roads back home in Western Pennsylvania.  Tree-lined, farm country, rolling hills, and sweeping turns.  A real joy to experience on a motorcycle.

These country roads took us through unincorporated towns like Rescue and Plano, with it's one and only house.  By comparison, Carthage, a few miles east, seems like a giant metropolis with it's 14,000 residents.  And Springfield, with a population of over 150,000 is off the charts.

Lunchtime found us in St. Robert at the Route 66
Diner.  A classic diner in the "classic" sense of the word.  Chrome exterior with red, black and white interior.  Walls adorned with photos of Elvis, James Dean, and Marilyn Monroe.  Diner fare on the menu did not disappoint.

Shortly after lunch we were on Historic 66 and turned off at "Old 66".  This little loop of about 12 miles took us down to Devil's Elbow.  A portion of 66 that crosses the Big Piney River in the Ozark Mountains.  A scenic drive that is well worth the slow speeds needed to negotiate the turns.

Diner's like Skippy's 66 in Leesburg and motels like the Wagon Wheel in Cuba dotted the route before we crossed U.S. 50.  The first time since we left home that our route intersected.

Before long we were in St Louis on the banks of the Mississippi River.  Here, the river forms the border between Missouri and Illinois.  Juju and I have been here three times before (not counting the ride out on U.S. 50).  Each time we have tried to go up in the Arch.  Once, we couldn't get in because of construction.  Another time the cars to the top were under repair and the last time, they were sold out for the day and we were not staying.

This time we were able to call in advance for tickets.  We had to pick them up at the Court House a couple of blocks away.  Then the fun began...We got the
tickets at 2:00 p.m. for a 4:05 ride to the top.  It took us until almost 3:30 to figure out how to get there.  Almost every street leading to the Arch is under construction, closed and detoured.  And they all seemed to lead in big circles.  We could see the Arch, but couldn't get there.

Finally, we spotted a tour bus.  We figured if anyone knew how to get there, a tour bus would.  We followed it down back alleys and through industrial facilities before it got to the riverfront parking area in front of the arch.  From there, even the steps leading to the Arch had a detour, but we finally got there.

The ride to the top took about four minutes and it was like being in a Ferris Wheel...I HATE Ferris Wheels!  And there is absolutely no reason for there to be glass on the doors of the cars.  All you can see is the skeleton of the Arch as your car bounced and rocked it's way to the top.

Once there, it was all worth it.  The view is stunning.  Your can see for miles up there.  The Mississippi
River was wide and muddy on one side of the Arch.  On the other side, the city of St. Louis was laid out in the late afternoon sun.

The currently empty
Busch Stadium, where the Pittsburgh Pirates will defeat the Cardinals in the Wild Card Play Off game, was a beautiful ball park.  Almost as nice as PNC Park.   (Sorry folks!  My home town pride is showing.)

Due to a small mix up with our hotel reservation, we wound up at the Airport Courtyard.  We met a
wonderful employee named Danielle.  With personality plus, this is the kind of person you want to see at the end of a long day on the road.  She was fun to talk to and Juju even gave her a ride around the parking lot on the trike.  Marriott has a winner in this girl and should make every effort to keep her.

As you may have noticed earlier, I mentioned that this was the end of our adventure.  The original plan, discussed early in the year, was Pittsburgh to Route 50 in West Virginia.  West on 50 to Sacramento and then San Francisco.  South on the Pacific Coast Highway and then Route 66 to St.Louis before returning to Pittsburgh.

We got a little ambitious by adding the Ocean to Ocean part on U.S. 50 which took us to Ocean City, Maryland.  After that, we said, "well, we may as well go to Chicago on 66".

The more than a week delay in West Virginia along with mechanical issues experienced by myself and Juju along the way, started to back us into a bit of a corner.  We all became more aware of deadlines looming and business at home that needed attention.

Ed and Nancy's accident and early departure took a lot of wind out of our sails, and Route 66 was at least on our way home to this point.  It just doesn't seem right to continue to Chicago.

We've done more than many people expected.  We've done more than some people wanted us to.  But I think we've done exactly what we set out to do.  Four friends explored the country from coast to coast.  We've seen more in the past 30+ days than most people see in a life time.

I, for one, am proud of our accomplishment.

The blog is not finished.  It will take us a couple more days to get home, and hopefully it won't be boring.

Ed, Nancy, Judy and I will all submit our final thoughts and there will be photos and videos posted for everyone to view.

We all hope that you have enjoyed what we have done as much as we enjoyed documenting it.

Please leave your comments and tell us what you think.

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