Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cross Country report - Day 1 through 3

July 2nd, day before departing on our cross country trip to San Francisco and on to Redmond, Oregon for the 2010 BMW event.   The day finally arrived with great anticipation, preparation had been going on for a while, camping equipment had been purchased, equipment checklists checked and re-checked, oil changed and all packing complete.  We decided we would depart from my house as the bikes could be loaded and parked in my garage ready for departure the day before.  We planned on departing at 4:30am on July 3rd so we could beat the Philadelphia area morning traffic as we planned on crossing Pennsylvania on route 76 also known as the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  My adorable wife prepared dinner for all of us and the whole family had a wonderful last evening together eating and drinking a nice bottle of Cabernet while my dad and I smoked our cigars.

Packed and ready to go
The beginning of our trip
We went to bed early but I couldn't fall asleep, the excitement and anticipation of being on the road for the next 23 days and worrying about the bike not being ready or packed with everything necessary, kept me awake.  No sooner had I fallen asleep, or so it seemed, the alarm clock went off and we were up again.  It was 4am, just time to get dressed, have a cup of coffee, say goodbye to my wife and daughter, they wanted to be up for the goodbyes, and then we were off, still night outside and on the chilly side.  We had decided to have breakfast at the first rest stop on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. About 2 hours later we pull into the rest area, no sooner had we stopped two Harleys stopped next to our bikes.  The typical conversation ensued, where you heading and so on, we find out the couple is also heading cross country to San Francisco.  They were also from South Jersey and had departed about the same time as us.  We never saw them again.

First stop for breakfast
After a quick breakfast, we were off again, it's a long way to traverse Pennsylvania but soon we were approaching the exit for Route 70 East, about 320 miles from my house and soon thereafter we were entering Ohio on the way to Columbus and then Dayton.  We had planned our route and we were going to follow it, the end of the day being in Indianapolis, Indiana, about 700 miles for the first day.
We crossed Ohio and entered Indiana soon passing Richmond on the way to Indianapolis, the capital.  In Indiana, the scenery along route 70 is pretty much farms and with a blue sky above us offering a beautiful contrast we rolled on.
We arrived in Indianapolis late in the afternoon with just enough time to take some pictures downtown and go out to dinner at one of the many restaurants in the downtown area.  We parked our bikes on Monument Circle with the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the center, it's a circle smack in the middle of downtown two blocks away from the Indiana State House.

Soldiers and Sailors Monument

Church and skyscraper
Soldiers and Sailors Monument
Horse carriage on Monument Circle
The downtown area
 We got our pictures and then headed to the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery where a beer was quickly on hand with Mahi tacos for dinner.  After dinner we strolled around the covered area over Washington and Illinois Streets, a beautiful glass structure covering the intersection and then returned to our bikes for a quick dash out of town continuing on route 70 West until we found a motel and stopped for the night.

Rock Bottom Brewery

Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery
Indianapolis Artsgarden

My bike on the opposite end of the line
The next morning we saddled up and were on the road shortly after 7am.  My plan was to do the 250 miles to St. Louis, Missouri and arrive there around lunch time.
Rest stop on the highway
Being 4th of July we encountered traffic as we approached St. Louis and even some closed roads but we soon found a parking garage a few blocks away from the famous St. Louis Gateway Arch, also known as the "Gateway to the West".  Built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States, it has become the city's iconic image.  It is 630 feet (192 m) wide at its base and stands 630 feet (192 m) tall, making it the tallest monument in the United States.  There were too many people in line to go to the top, we decided to skip it, I have been up there in the past and it offers a beautiful view of the Mississippi River.  The park underneath the Arch faces the river and was already packed with visitors watching planes do aerial acrobatic maneuvers while waiting for the fireworks show scheduled for later that night to commemorate Independence Day.  It was 4th of July, a very hot day and we were already almost 1000 miles away from home.

The St. Louis Gateway Arch
Threatening clouds and very hot and humid

Old Courthouse
Corn Dogs are a staple of Indiana and I was soon eating one.  The corn dog is a hotdog coated in cornmeal batter and deep fried in oil, they are really good.  We got the pictures, watched a little of the air show and then retreated to the Old Courthouse for a little air conditioning.  We entered the building and were surprised to see a band playing patriotic music and the building decorated with the Old Glory, it was a beautiful sight.  We climbed to the top to take more pictures and then enjoyed a cup of lemonade in the company of some nice ladies dressed in period costumes.

Jumbo Corn Dogs

4th of July and Corn Dogs :-)
Old Glory
The Three Ladies
Inside the Old Courthouse

Old Iron Staircase
A piece of Old St. Louis
It was time to continue our trip and we soon left planning on doing the next 250 miles and arrive to have dinner in Kansas City, Missouri.  Not much to see but farms along route 70.
After a few stops to relax and refuel we arrive in Kansas City and head straight to the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial.  It's a beautiful monument and after the obligatory pictures we went down to the Union Station where Amtrak calls home.

National World War I Museum
National World War I Museum

Liberty Memorial
Built in 1914, Union Station encompasses 850,000 square feet. At its peak during WWII, an estimated one million travelers passed through the Station in one year. The station also draws tourists from all over the world who marvel at the Grand Hall's 95-foot ceiling, three 3,500-pound chandeliers and the six-foot wide clock hanging in the Station's central arch.  It's a beautiful building.
Union Station
Union Station

Beautiful Old Train Station
The main hall in Union Station
National World War I Museum in the background
Ready to leave
We left Kansas City and rode a few more miles on route 70 stopping for the night near Salinas, Kansas.
Monday morning, with a blue sky above us, we departed determined to do the next 450 miles across flat Kansas as soon as possible and arrive in Denver just in time for dinner and a stroll downtown.  We pulled off the highway to admire the corn fields and take same pictures, the green fields contrasting with the beautiful sky.

Taken by my brother
Lots of Corn
Beautiful blue sky
Middle of Kansas
Nothing but Corn
The two Adventurers
A little later we cross into Colorado, almost missing the sign.  We stopped and then had to push the bikes backwards on the side of the road for quite a while since a U-Turn was out of the question with all the trucks flying by us at over 75mph.  It was worth it to get the picture.

The Beautiful Colorado
We arrive in Denver and head straight for the 16th Street Mall, a pedestrian and transit mall in Denver, Colorado. The mall, 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) long, runs along 16th Street in downtown Denver, from Wewatta Street (at Union Station) to the intersection of 16th Avenue and Broadway (at Civic Center Station). It is home to over 300 chain stores and over 50 restaurants.

Downtown Denver
16th Street Mall
Artists display their wares on the middle of the street
Lots of Restaurants
Free Mall Ride
Denver Public Transportation
We found a nice place for a cold beer and a warm meal at the Paramount Cafe.  We sat outside observing the pedestrian traffic on the Mall.  After dinner we strolled around admiring the local stores lit up by the street lights and then retreated to our motel on the outskirts of Denver.  The next day would be the beginning of our real touring, the first three days being a quick dash out west to the middle of the country.

Cold Beer after a long day
Paramount Cafe
Relaxing at the 16th Street Mall

The first three days - 1780 miles, 2/3 into the country


  1. Awesome Job George, can't wait to see the rest.

  2. Thanks, day 4 is done too ;-)

  3. Finally sitting here alone, and I can catch up on all of this. I knew that was Kansas before I even read it! The burst of blue caught my eye and forced me to stop I was checking out the pics and then went back to read. We have great friends that live there and I remember thinking how beautiful the contrast was as we drove thru (which seems like forever and ever and ever and ever).

  4. Great pics and video. Reminds me of the time I drove my car from NY to Vegas. Route 70 had hay flying across the interstate.