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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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Final Thoughts from Mike

It took me a little longer to gather my final thoughts, mostly because I wasn't sure what I wanted to say.  Being home for a few weeks, I've taken note that the stories I'm currently telling are a bit different than when we first got back.  Now, the stories being repeated are the ones most deeply embedded in my mind.

I certainly can't say we didn't encounter any difficulties.  The mechanical difficulties caused delays that were more of an annoyance than anything else.  But those faded quickly...about 10 minutes after we were back on the road.  The heat related problems were more of a health threat and much more frightening.

After 31 days on the road and just short of 8,000 miles, what has stuck with me, and filled my brain to a point where I am now boring people talking about it, are three things...

First, the absolute beauty of this country.  Beginning with putting our boots in the Atlantic Ocean, everything, including the mundane, took on new meaning as it became part of the journey.

From the buildings and cacophony of our Nation's Capitol, to the Virginia and West Virginia mountains, to the wide open mid-west heartland, to the majesty of the Rockies, to the "Loneliest Road In America" segment in Nevada, and ending the first leg of the ride with boots in the Pacific Ocean, it was nearly indescribable.

Route 50 was my "bucket list" item, and it gave me everything I hoped for:  Originally native trails, then Pony Express routes, today's Route 50 provides challenging riding on fairly well maintained and marked roads, coupled with unbelievable eye candy!  For me, the highlights were in the west: Pikes Peak, the Nevada Desert and EVERYTHING about Utah!

Riding the Cabrillo and Pacific Coast Highways from San Francisco to Los Angeles was relaxing and mostly familiar, as Juju and I had been on much of it before.  The part we had not previously experienced was going through Big Sur.  The mountain forest that sharply drops to the rocky Pacific coast line is something us easterners rarely get to see firsthand. 

Near Los Angeles, the western end of Route 66 is on the Santa Monica Pier.  This marked our turn around point and for the first time we were headed east.  Route 66, in L.A. is...well...let's just say difficult.  In fact, 66 in most of California is difficult...poorly marked and poorly maintained.  Once in Arizona, it was better road, but still tough to follow.  This is where I got us lost by about 50 miles.

Oatman,Arizona is a world of its own.  A classic ghost town with wild donkeys literally running up and down the wooden sidewalks and dirt street.  As Ed mentioned in his comments, the road from Oatman to Kingman was incredibly beautiful and obviously dangerous.  This is where Ed and Nancy went down and their ride came to an unfortunate end (No major injuries, but hurt enough to make riding a motorcycle for another week a painful prospect.  As of this writing, both are on the mend and the bike is in the shop for repairs).  Juju and I continued along 66 to St. Louis before heading home, but it just wasn't the same without them.

The second thing that stuck with me was the outright kindness of strangers.  On three different occasions, we found ourselves in rather dicey situations.   On two of these occasions, members of our group were suffering from heat exhaustion and nearing heat stroke.  The third was the accident.

In each case, strangers stopped to give us water, ice and comfort.  I will always remember these folks; the concern they showed, and their willingness to help in whatever way they could.  I will also always keep that in mind as I try to pay it forward.

The third, and perhaps most important thing I took away from this adventure was gratitude!

  • I am grateful to my wife for not only indulging me on this trip, but for being by my side to experience it with me.  
  • I am grateful to Ed and Nancy for sharing the adventure with us, and allowing us to share it with them.  
  • With almost 3,000 page views, I am grateful to all of you who took the time to follow the blog, especially the folks at Thunder Roads Pennsylvania Magazine for carrying the blog on their web site.  
  • And finally, even though I'm not an outwardly religious person, I am grateful to God for creating what we saw and experienced on this trip, and for making it possible for me to do it.

Coming soon...photos!

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