From Farnsworth to Fallingwater

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by rampantcuriosity, Jun 21, 2019.

  1. rampantcuriosity

    rampantcuriosity n00b

    Jun 21, 2019
    Wellington New Zealand
    The plan is to fly in to LA, buy a bike, head up to Vancouver, across to Calgary, down to Going to the Sun, through Yellowstone, Beartooth pass, across to Chicago (this is where Farnsworth House is) Detroit, Toronto, Dayton Ohio, Pittsburgh, (Fallingwater) maybe NY and Washington DC, then BRP TotD, then somehow across to Colorado, Phoenix, LV and back to LA. As well as architecture and Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW) I also have an interest in bridges and stained glass (don't ask me why) so there will be a few of those featured as well.
    Someone said, a trip without mishaps is not an adventure just a ride, and I agree - but I like rides.
    So hopefully I'll get a bike sorted next week, get a phone to report in (and photo and navigate with maybe) and let you know how it all goes.
    Looks like there are better bikes in Calgary this week so I'm going there direct from LA. (didn't happen)

    Now I'm in LA (San Pedro) and there's a Concours thats caught my eye.
    Well I have a bike and spent the first day getting lost every time I left the freeway system. Its the Kawasaki Concours 1000, 1984, 80,000 miles by 1 owner. Wee dent in tank and screen is aged but otherwise seems perfect for the job.
    So busy getting the bike, I haven't got a phone sorted yet: yes I know it would make getting places much easier, but I'd have to learn to use it and I have enough to deal with at the moment.
    29/6 Finally got started and my first direction change is frustrated by closed off ramps. Figure I should be able to navigate the freeways and continue on. Its blazing hot and I end up stopping every hour or so to sample the coolth of whatever air conditioning is available near the off ramp. After 5 hours I reach Santa Barbara pretty much wiped out and ready to stop. 120 miles: 25mph - all freeway. I might have been a bit optimistic about this. And I really resent the idea of HAVING to get up early to avoid the midday heat. The reason the heat is a problem is the leather trousers, boots and gloves I'm wearing: and there is a strong temptation to ditch them. But I know that gravel rash is degrees more painful than broken bones and I don't yet have sufficient confidence I'm reading the US traffic right - or that I'm doing everything correctly. I can't tell my left from my right because I swapped them round to compensate for driving on the wrong side of the road, the sun goes round the wrong way so I can't get my North/South orientation sorted.

    From Santa Barbara it was another gruelling day to Salinas (John Steinbeck country)
    and the next on to SF where I stayed at hostel in Marin Headlands, rode through Sausalito (which is touted as the precedent for a development in my home city - Wellington NZ - but Sausalito is 10 times deeper and 20 times longer) and on to San Rafael where Frank Lloyud Wright (FLW) designed the Marin County Council offices. An interesting building; really different from his residential work but suffering from the same fault - the roof leaked!
    2 2706 IMG_3092 - Copy.JPG

    The next two days are going to be tough, 350 miles each day. I think 250 from Salinas is my record so far.
    Marin to Crescent City was a buzz, I went over a mountain range and the road was brilliant. The Concours isn't really flickable because of its size and weight but it just glided round those corners, even the tighter ones on the Avenue of Giants (redwoods.) At last this is becoming a bike ride! Petrol pump nozzles don't seem to have consistent colour coding so I have to be careful to avoid diesel. Also use of a card requires inputting a zip code which I don't have so petrol has to be paid for in cash: Pay $20 up front specifying pump number and collect the change after.

    OREGON 3-4 July
    Crescent city to Portland started off well, another mountain range to go over - then it was onto the I5 in the interests of actually getting here. Spend an hour escaping the heat and chatting to a couple who are farming Murray Gray beef cattle from Australia and love our Gallagher electric fences - they live at a place (one of many I think) called 10 mile creek because 10 miles was the comfortable distance to drove cattle in a day. The redeeming features of the I5 is that it wasn't crowded and a good speed was maintained to within about 3 miles of Portland. I don't quite understand speed in these western states: the limit varies from 50 to 65 yet the average cruising speed seems to be closer to 80. Despite all the warning signs nearly everyone seems to be at that speed.
    The entry bridge to Portland off exit 300 is amazing: spaghetti junction indeed. I'll spend tomorrow here and see what this 4th of July is all about (although I suspect Portland might not be the wisest choice.) Met Jamie in Portland - he'd just finished off a trip down to Patagonia and back on a Honda 500 - promised to catch up with him in Chicago. After its initial introduction, Portland gave off the vibe of a aged hippie fascist retirement home but on 4th July walked up Mt Tabor to the accompaniment of a hidden flautist with a spirited rendition of Benny and the Jets by an impromptu pianist at the top on the "Play me" zebra piano. Restored my good opinion of Portland - as did the gentleman who knew the words and sang both the NZ & AUS national anthems.

    WASHINGTON 5 july
    Portland to Seattle was via Astoria and ended up taking most of the day: the road to the right after the Astoria bridge was a lovely road but since it rejoined the 101, I'm not sure why I took it.
    I have relatives in Calgary but they can only see me this week so I'm omitting Vancouver and going directly from Seattle. The directions to cross the border at Sumas are a bit complicated so I stop in Everson to ask directions. Just as well, I was about to do a right instead of a left. The queue to cross the border takes about half an hour: seems a lot for mid Saturday morning. Warned that reentry to the States would be a lot tougher!

    CANADA 1: 6 - 12 July
    back to kilometers and the engineering that went into the 1 and 5 highways is impressive. At least the Canadians have an excuse for cracks and tracks in their road surfaces (frost heaves) but overall the surfaces are good and I make a late lunch at Cora's in Kamloops. Perhaps this rant should be relabelled "A tour of North American gas stations" Was originally planning to stay at Chase or Shuswap but somehow I missed them both and have to continue on to Revelstoke. (That would never have been going to fast to take the turnoff!) About 420 miles today - the longest so far - and a welcome bed at the Powder Springs Motel.
    Didn't realise that the "Rockies" is actually a series of separate mountain ranges. Its a good run and I'm settling in to traveling - just have to remember to stop a bit more often. I'm hoping everyone is calling me Sir because of an impending knighthood but I suspect its my age - especially as I have no problem getting the Senior discount.
    A lazy start to the day, 10.30, and only 250 miles (400km) sees me rolling into Calgary round 4pm. There were some really quaint animal crossings over the highway reminiscent of Hobbiton, but I didn't stop to take photos.
    In Calgary I need a new front tire and GW Motorcycles provide a great friendly and prompt service - thank you gentlemen.
    After a few days rest it'll be back on the road. Calgary is a nice city, while its slap bang in the middle of Stampede, that seems to be mainly about cowboys and drinking, so its not that enticing. Back to the US tomorrow.
    Upon advice from Don & Marlene (the delightful relatives who've looked after me for the last few days,) I retrace my route on the Trans Canada and take the Kananaskis Trail [40] over the Highwood Pass and this turns out to be a great road marred only by frequent signs telling me the road is closed 50, 40, 30 km ahead. I'm fairly sure these signs are left over from winter but check at a golf course to confirm the road is open.
    The last few miles into Longview are sweeping curves the Concours was built for.
    Then its down the [22] to Pincher Creek to refuel both man and machine and down [6] to the border crossing at Chief Mountain. There the border guard asks me "How are you today?" To which I reply "My ass hurts, my back aches, and I'm hot and bothered" The guard thanks me for my honest answer stamps my passport and lets me go.

    MONTANA 12 - 16 July
    There are a lot of road works round St Mary as I ride to a bed in East Glacier village. I have to retrace my steps through those roadworks to St Mary's to get to the Park Entrance and start Going to the Sun. The ride to the top from this side is shorter and remarkably traffic free however my plans to do it both ways are dismissed by the hoards of vehicles coming the other way. Even the road down from Logan Pass is busier than is pleasant so instead I take the faster route 2 around the bottom of the park. This is a great high speed run with plenty of sweepers: I exceed the mile a minute rate over the whole trip.
    Each evening I'm using my laptop to plan out the next day's route which I write on a pad. This is the easiest/laziest/cheapest solution to not having internet once I'm on the road and rarely works precisely. Today's run is a good example: the plan is to go the long scenic way through Great Falls, to Bozeman [89,87,89] but somehow I end up on the more direct route through Augusta and Helena [287.] which is a fairly pleasant ride and introduces me to the Big Sky country. There sure is a lot of sky - everywhere. Bozeman is nice, I like the place and can't recall whether Pirsig liked it or not during his tenure here but its real America, the elder trees are in full bloom and I have a rest day here. Also need to buy a belt for my leather trousers, but the belts either go round me 1.5 times or don't quite reach so I settle for a bit of rope. Also get some Advil for a strained lower shoulder/back which is becoming distractingly painful - maybe the riding position or maybe age.
    Today its into Yellowstone through the Gardiner entrance which is about 30 miles sweeping up beside a very full Yellowstone River. I follow the river right up to the lake, but the traffic is dense and the day hot. Just after entering, at Mammoth Hot Springs (the last thing I need today) I stop with a bunch of other bikers and realise just how ill prepared I am: one has a puncture - which they repair at the roadside - I don't even have tools. Further along a bear is spied about 200 yds away and a bearjam occurs as people just stop their cars and get out to have a look. Later there is another hold up as two bison saunter down the middle of the road looking for a space to cross. For a moment I think they decide the space behind my bike is sufficient but then wander another few cars down. They are big and I was aware I had nowhere to go. Bison are the main source of injury in Yellowstone.

    WYOMING 16 July
    Around Yellowstone Lake there are many standing dead trees which I guess is a forest fire - and indeed it was, in 2003. Different time scale for forests - it might take them a human lifetime just to recover from one fire. I'm following the Shoshone River out Yellowstone's eastern exit which seems to be less trafficked. The red rock bluffs are sometimes sheer and high but difficult to photograph. Its also getting towards day's end and I'm hot and bothered and have been all day. Cody is finally reached, a bed is secured, I go to a local restaurant only to meet (briefly at the salad buffet) a Kiwi family - we seem to be everywhere. There are lots of bikers at the motel and we chat away.
    Chief Joseph Scenic Highway is a delight - very serene road, and when I stop, the stillness seems to last for miles. From there up to Beartooth Pass, almost 11,000 ft, there's still snow and ice beside the road but its a good run with plenty of motorcycles in the traffic. The road down is a bit daunting with steep dropoffs and unexpected gusts of cross wind but eventually I get to Red Lodge where I stop but its unbearably noisy so I motor on to Billings.

    MONTANA 2 17 July
    I think it was a Motel 6 I found in Billings where I was greeted in the parking lot by an English accent. Wayne has just driven his Ducati down from Beartooth the evening before with a flat back tyre, on which the metal was now showing through. We spent the evening chatting and had dinner at a nearby Australian "Outback" restaurant. I hope to catch up with him again in LA where he lives. Billings didn't excite me - but I didn't really give it a chance. Tomorrow I start on the prairie!
    It takes a long haul to get out of Montana and into

    NORTH DAKOTA 19 July
    Well and truly on the prairie now but the road is really good tarseal and neither as straight nor level as I was expecting. Hoping to make Bismark which I do - but I've lost an hour to time differences and I find a bed at an economy inn which is on the outskirts, so I don't see much of the town. A 400 mile run today on good empty roads - a delight, apart from the heat. Today I chat with a man at a gas station somewhere outside Jamestown who has lived his life in North Dakota and has no desire to leave - a remarkably balanced man whose family once grew soy and corn but sold up before prices became too fickle. Staying on [94] allows me to bypass Fargo and reach St Cloud.

    I had great plans for Minnesota, following the Mississippi River and doing some scenic byways, but the heat, the amount of time I'm already spending riding, and the desire to get somewhere all keep me on the [94 & 90] Today there is an Extreme Heat Warning for Wisconsin and it is extremely hot so I alternate an hour of riding with an hour of aircon (and chat) as I charge through to Madison

    WISCONSIN 19 July
    I arrive mid Friday afternoon after a frustrating drive back and forth past the airport trying to find tha actual city of Madison - no signposts once you're off the freeway! I'm staying at the HI hostel and the manager courteously informs me the Heat Warning is all weekend. The Capitol dominates the centre of Madison and is a good looking classical building. Adjacent however is G.E.F.3 a functional building: squat, plain and ugly. But at last I'm back into architecture. Monona Tce (FLW) is just round the corner and is an exuberant collection of curves befitting its waterfront location. (Madison is on an isthmus between two lakes - complete with seagulls.) Early Saturday I set off for Spring Green and a tour of Taliesin, FLW's home and workspace, 40 miles away. Another closed road throws my planned route awry but I compensate easily enough. The tour is great but there is a lack of coherence in the hodge podge collection of buildings and I finish the tour with an "Is that all there is" feeling. Mounting the bike I'm aware of black clouds stretching away to the western horizon behind me and sure enough the first drops start to fall, then the heavens open with a torrential downpour. Barely able to see the road through the rain, with buffeting crosswinds and lumps and bumps trying to throw me off the road I stagger back to Madison arriving completely saturated. The only positive note being that I rode straight back to the hostel without a single wrong turn. This was diminished by the rain stopping and normal heat resuming barely 15 minutes after I got back.
    Sunday, I have booked tours of the SC Johnson work campus and Wingspread the family home, both in Racine a couple of hours ride east. My leather trousers boots HOTand gloves are still sopping wet so for the first time I'm riding without leg protection although I had brought a spare pare of gloves - and its still HOT! Another road closure diverts my chosen course. I should call this trip "Lost in America." The worksite is glorious: these are still modern buildings even though they're 80 yrears old! I am delighted. Unfortunately the Winghspread (house) tour has ended up being next week but I'm forming the opinion that FLW is a great public architect but his residences leave a lot to be desired. However that opinion is on hold until Chicago and later, his residential masterpiece Fallingwater.

    ILLINOIS 21 July
    From Racine its an easy run down to Chicago, where I discover parking a motorcycle costs almost as much as a bed for the night. Is this a symptom of American decadence? charging for parking a bike - ridiculous! With the help of hostel staff (Thank you Charles!) I take the plunge and book a bus tour of FLW sites for tomorrow. The bus tour is interesting and informative but only the Robie House shows any architectural merit for me. That evening I hook up with Jamie (from Portland) and both of us wander the lakefront chatting.
    The next day (Tuesday 23rd July) I set off early for a tour of Farnsworth House in Plano at 10am - about 55 miles. I give myself an hour and 45 minutes, but do not realise so many people leave Chicago in the am peak, and I get lost. Arrive at 10.30 and catch the bulk of the tour then repeat it. This building is stunningly beautiful, a design masterpiece: I am in love. Its also totally impractical and deceptive: while appearing to float above the landscape, that is the one thing it will no do and has been flooded several times. But its still brilliant! FLW has a lot riding on Fallingwater.
    There have been lots of toll roads round here and since I don't have an electtronic gizmo I have to use cash which is a real pain for a motorcyclist.

    INDIANA 23 July
    I run down [65] past miles and miles of wind turbines stretching into the distance on both sides of the road, to Indianapolis (I think) stopping at a Motel6 on the outskirts managed by a Nepali immigrant with whom I have an interesting chat. From a comment on the bus tour I decide to go to Columbus IN which has a lot of architecture by Pei and Saarinen. On arrival I book a tour of the Miller House (Eero Saarinen) and wander the town taking in some of the other architecture. The Miller House doesn't have the pizzazz of Farnsworth and to my mind the decor, rather than contrasting the design, conflicts with it. From here its a short run to Dayton Ohio, but somehow the [46] turns into the [9] instead of the [74] but I had seen that the [9] also went to the [70] so it just took a bit longer. I should rename this "Lost in America"

    OHIO 24 July
    Dayton. I have relatives here so I'm resting up for a few days and drying out my now mouldy leather trousers and gloves which have been wet for over a week. Vinegar is a great cureall. Again, family have been a welcome support.
    30/7 On the road again with a short 200 mile jaunt to Dearborn. Its great to be back on the bike again. I'm not wearing my leather trousers or boots having bought jeans and shoes from Walmart and its a significant degree cooler. It really is hot here.

    MICHIGAN 1-2 Aug
    i'm here in Dearborn (nr Detroit) for the Henry Ford Museum: I know for a biker this is some form of heresy but without Henry, the infrastructure available to us would be greatly reduced. The Museum did contain 1 bike, an earky (70s) Honda 750/4. But more importantly do you know who were the agitators for more, better and sealed roads: cyclists! August 1st off to Niagara. I get to cross the Ambassador Bridge - I think.

    CANADA 2 3 Aug
    And yes I did - cross the Ambassador Bridge and got mildly lost looking for the Hostel in Niagara; well it was finding Niagara was the problem. We used to have old fashioned things called signposts to direct you to things of note - apparently not in America. Although I do note if you're driving south from Auckland there are no signposts indicating Wellington for the first 500 km - although there really is only one road, State Highway 1. The Falls were impressive (if a bit short,) I went for a stroll with Hamish (a fellow hosteler from Melbourne) to look at them then had a very ordinary cheap meal somewhere that promised much more. This morning I crossed the Rainbow Bridge back into the States.

    I'm only passing through though it takes about 3 hours to ride down to and around (?) Buffalo and down the [I 90] to the border with

    I get on to the [I 79] and its a delightful high speed road with great sweeping curves and slopes and not a bothersome amount of traffic. As I near Pittsburgh the temperature/humidity rises and on entering Pittsburgh I get lost again. I don't know whether to blame Google or my own inability to follow instructions. Sixth St turns into 6th Avenue and doesn't seem to have a south end - well I would have thought the South part of 6th St would be at the southern end!? Ask directions only to get sent across the river where 6th St is replaced by a Stadium: ask more directions only to be sent back across the river where I see a street name I recognise and finally make it with the first flashes of lightning across the city. Unload before the rain hits. The hostel is an eclectic mix of styles but really great although the neighbourhood is dilapidated and run down. However after a surprisingly good salad from the local pizzeria and a couple of hours chat I discover that the IT gremlins are preventing me booking a tour of FallingWater. I may have to spend tomorrow enjoying Pittsburgh!
    Well, that wasn't too hard: walking to the Du Quesne Incline (a cable car) I was adopted by a family group of nine New Yorkers here for tonight's Mets v Pirates baseball game. Great guys. I also encountered my first grumpy American: the ticket seller on the incline. From there it was off to have a hotdog. From the top of the incline Pittsburgh becomes decipheraable and almost pretty. Again the heat of the day starts hitting about 3 pm and being out and about gets uncomfortable. I have booked tomorrow's tickets - now I just have to get there on time.
    Set off for Polymath Park with an hour to spare for a 46 mile trip and make it with half an hour to spare. We are taken on a tour of the Duncan and Balter houses and Mantyla. The Balter is by a disciple and the Mantyla shows great coherence (ie it looks like it was designed as a complete project) although I would call the design studiously artistic rather than FLW's famed organic. Interestingly its built of single layer concrete block which doesn't seem very good for the cold. After the tour I meet the owner of the other bike parked in the lot, the new retro Kawasaki 900 - a lovely bike. If it doesn't follow most big kawasakis and pump out lots of heat in urban traffic it might be my next bike. Anyway he has GPS in his helmet and kindly offers to lead me, via the scenic route, to FallingWater. Its a good ride but I have no idea where I am or where I'm going for most of it - what's new! Anthony is there with his friend and his parents are following in a car. We enjoy the tour round Fallingwater but while its a stunning design brilliantly sited I find the juxtaposition of the natural stone towers and the painted concrete cantilevers somewhat discordant. Am also shocked to hear that the cantilevers are only reinforced concrete. Not surprisingly they have failed - steel is used for the windows, why didn't he use steel beams. Phillip Glass calls it the best house of the 20C but since he did something in New Canaan CT similar to Farnsworth House I resolve to go see it - until I discover the next tour will be Friday. But I head off in a NE direction until I reach Breezewood where the byline for the Days Inn (Hello Sunshine) a term I use for my nearest and dearest, beckons.
    I've also started sneezing and my nose is running. About 9pm I realise I forgot to feed myself at all today.
    Wake the next morning, its misty and I'm still not feeling the best, still sneezing and running nose: decide I would rather dash to Baltimore rather than hanging round Breezewood for 24 hrs.
    The dash starts well enough until about half way when I stop at a rest area to read about Utica's covered bridges. I figure I can push myself to include them, the divrersion is simple enough and today's route is simple I 70E for 116 miles Exit 91A/B for I 695 S for 1 mile Exit 15 for 40E which turns into E Mulberry where the hostel is just across from the Catholic Basilica. So off I go. Find the first one OK but Old Frederick Road disappears near Creagerstown which appears unchanged since the 50s, a real slice of rural America? Finally get on track, get to the second one but the heat is getting to me so I abandon the third and hitail it back to the I 70 for the final run into Baltimore. I have to say the roads over the last few days (since Niagara) especially the freeways (and the Penn Pike which was ridiculously expensive $18) have been lovely high speed roads and charging down them at 85 to 90 has been a joy - which lots of other drivers also seemed to think. I love the way truckies give you a flash of the brake lights to indicate they're going to pull out into your lane to overtake giving you enough time to blast past them before they do so. Such courteous drivers (apart from the Kia drivers who seem hell bent on demonstrating their cars are as fast as anything else.)

    MARYLAND 8-9 Aug
    Baltimore. Find my way to the hostel, park the bike and relax. The lounge is dominated by half a dozen 20 yr old guys watching continuous reruns of My Little Pony. They're still doing it 24 hrs later - apparently they've been attending a My Little Pony convention - and I thought I was strange! One of them even came from Australia. Ahh I'd probably go to a Dr Who convention if there was one handy.
    Would you believe it. I did everything right: googled where the restaurants nearby were, checked the menu, found what I wanted, went there to find they'd changed the menu 2 weeks ago and all their mashed potatoes were garlic. So after a wander round a large block I spied something at the end of the street that I was sure would supply my desire for mashed potatoes - can you guess? Oshea's - an Irish pub and I had Shepherd's Pie which being America was Cowboy's Pie ie beef rather than lamb.
    Updated this, still haven't figured out how to format it better or put pictures where I want them and its still only 9pm. The next day was spent mostly in bed trying to cure this lurg I've got. Seems to work but I can't believe that economics alone dictates the hostel's use of Almond milk and Coconut sugar as part of the breakfast menu.
    Bright and early the next morning I'm packing to go: pop across to the Basilica for a quick look only to be invited on the tour - which is fascinating. The whole thing is held up by bricks in arches and reverse arches and it survived a 5.8 earthquake.
    But I don't get to leave early, and sure enough somewhere near Philadelphia [I 95] I start seeing lightning. Continue on until finally the rain hits - I use a bridge to stop and don rain gear slowly by which time it eases. Stop at the next Services and spend an hour chatting with Luc, a V strom rider from Quebec who confirms my suspicion its too hot to consider the BRP. Somewhere during this trip I've left Maryland which they informed me by charging a toll, passed through Delaware who also charged me a toll and am about to start the New Jersey Turnpike who are also charging a toll. Having just paid that toll, I'm surprised to be stung for another $15 to cross the George Washington Bridge. Now I admit its an impressive bridge but I've spent more on tolls than I have on gas. Now in New York and the place smells old and dirty. The road goes under large buildings so there are only posts supporting it - can't believe they're still standing. I get confused an take Exit 9 (NY) instead of Exit 9 (CT) which eats up another half hour.

    CONNECTICUT 10 - 11 Aug
    Finally arrive at motel in Stamford almost on dark and just before the rain comes down in earnest. Try the Peruvian restaurant next door. I thought Peru was the home of the potato but they seem to have adopted rice exclusively here. Get the impression this is a Stamford campus haunt - also feel this is the mileu and site for "The Graduate" movie which I was discussing with someone back at Fallingwater: their opinion that Benjamin was a spoilt ungrateful brat struck a chord.
    Next morning (8/8) I set off for the 20 min ride to Grace Farm with 1.5 hours to spare and sure enough I get there just in time. Is there a principle in America not to put up street signs or directions??
    Grace Farm is a stunning building but their wealthy self sufficiency approach contrasts strongly with my sister's approach. The $83 million cost of the building stuns: but its a stunning building. However, its too brilliant to merge into the landscape as was intended. After the tour, I have a delightful lunchtime conversation with their interim lawyer. Given tomorrow's tour of the Glass House starts an hour earlier I spend a couple of hours trying to find my way round New Canaan which apparently (and evidently) is one of the richest towns in the US.
    A Dayton Solution to a problem: my computer has decided to stop responding to the
    y t and o keys. Using dayton solves it awkwardly - too awkwardly as this sentence has shown - 10 times! Haven't time to figure an easier way now.
    Arrive a little early for the Glass House tour - since. for once, I know where I'm going. While lovely, and usable, the Glass House is too high - the proportions are wrong and sitting across from the Brick House, which contains all the infrastructure for the glass house and is truly ugly, just shows what a show pony it is. Not too keen on the brick core either - wonderfully circular that it is. So from here its into N.Y.

    NEW YORK 11 - 12 Aug
    I might be getting the hang of this: manage to drive straight to the hostel in Amsterdam Ave without getting lost or distracted. But the one hour trip takes two because of congestion leading up to the GW bridge. Its a hot afternoon and I decide to try the unacceptable. I go for a ride round Manhattan wearing just shorts, shirt and sandals - and its still unbearably hot! The heat rising from the Kawasaki engine doesn't help either. Park the bike on a side street. Meet up with a Czech law student who's just been to a scout jamboree and we discuss legal systems - doesn't sound like theirs works any better.
    Next morning, after breakfast with a French family, I walk through Central Park to the Guggenheim - still a stunning building and enough to save FLW's reputation. From there I return to hostel, on to Metro station to get a Metro card (buses won't take cash.) At least the train has aircon and I go to the High Line to see the external stairs at Hudson yard, a joyous piece of sculpture by the same people, Heatherwick, who did the Rolling Bridge in Paddington London. Have dinner at Chinese restaurant up the road a bit then again with the leftovers with the French family - their English is much better than my French.
    Leave early the next morning determined to put on some miles on the I 80 and 500, and 10 hrs later I call it quits at Mansfield OH.

    OHIO 2 13-20 Aug
    Another early start down to Columbus OH, which I seem to remember has some interesting architecture on the University Campus. But I can't find it and the Information Office (which I do find!) doesn't know of any so I head west on I 70 to Dayton. Arrive just before midday. Time to figure out what I'm doing. I think its 5 solid days across to Las Vegas via Colorado Springs so if I allow 10 that should work.
    Am worried about oil so find somebody who'll do an oil change for me.
    A couple of days later and KRW Cycles are a great family firm who have done an oil change and checked a few other things for me. In the meantime, I've arranged to have the laptop fixed - just waiting for a new keyboard to arrive. Visited the Wright Patt Air Force museum yesterday - I'm hoping the nuclear bombs lying around were dummies and got a different perspective on the development of flight and how dependent it was on warfare. Another day spent visiting the Dayton Art Institute and a couple more getting my laptop fixed and I'm off again.

    INDIANA, ILLINOIS and MISSOURI. I start early to try and beat the heat and just charge westward on the I 70 through Indianapolis, then somewhere in Illinois (Greenville?) I need gas. As I turn off I 70 I see huge black clouds. 2 minutes later there are lightning flashes everywhere. I fill the bike then it buckets down. I wait it out for an hour and its all clear again. On to St Louis MO then Kansas City MO? Another few miles and I'm on the Kansas turnpike [I 70] until I stop in Lawrence. 670 miles. Today I've also met my first rude American driver - although I noted some spirited dodging across lanes round St Louis. Undertaking isn't really a thing here most of the time and there were 3 vehicles including myself at the rear who were charging down I 70 in the left hand lane at about a bit faster than you can probably get away with. A grey Chev truck comes up behind us and takes the right lane to undertake us all but, because he doesn't go any faster, cant complete the move and has to fall back but pulls in in front of me. A few minutes later he tries again and fails but this time I'm closer to the car in front and despite the lack of room pulls into me forcing me to brake. A few minutes later he tries again, fails and pulls in on me again. I admit to playing silly buggers so a minute later I show him how its done and accelerate, undertaking all three cars and leaving them to sort him out.

    KANSAS 14 Aug
    Lawrence is a charming town but the heat is ridiculous even after dark. My early departure from Lawrence is thwarted by rain and thunderstorm warnings. Finally get away just before 10 and realize that the screen on the Concours both deflects a lot of light rain and concentrates the engines heat towards the rider. Unlike yesterday today is fitful and I never do more than 100 miles without stopping. And like Indiana they have miles and miles of wind turbines - in fact there may be more wind turbines than trees in Kansas. I do get some of those long straight vistas i expected but the real problem is that the road just goes on and on and on. At Burlington I'm advised there wont be accommodation until Limon so I call it quits. At least I'm not in Kansas anymore.

    COLORADO 15 - 16 Aug
    Its a short 150 mile run to Colorado Springs and the 24 road starts interestingly, a good bike road but some of the "cities" it passes through look like villages and there is a hint of ruin and abandonment about some of them. Whereas Colorado Springs looks brand new and thriving. Back in Yellowstone I had a 5 min gas pump conversation with a couple of bikers, Tadd and Julie who invited me to stay with them in Colorado Springs when I got there. So here I am. Tadd is off on another trip leaving Julie to host me. Her children are concerned that I might be an ax murderer or something so one stays the night to provide support. I confess that I had forwarded details of where I was staying for the same reason. However the 2 ax murderers got on famously. We went out to see the Royal Gorge Bridge and Garden of rhe Gods the next day - it was a great delight to be driven, I didn't have to figure out where I was going and I was cool thanks to aircon. I was surprized to hear that I was staying at 7000 ft (2100m) because I never noticed any climbing at all over the past few days. Saturday and its time to go - I'm splitting the trip to Las Vegas into 2 at Green River because there isn't much accommodation fpr 100 miles after it. The run up to Denver is ordinary enough but the I 70 through the Rockies is a delightful run. I've started early (8 am - must try for 7) and the heat doesn't strike until after midday. Have a pleasant if slightly stilted (language!) gas pump chat with 3 Mexican bikers who are vaguely Canada bound. Arrive in Green River overheated as usual but its been a good day. And I'm still at 4000 ft elevation.

    UTAH 17 Aug
    During one of my rest stops yesterday, an airconned visitor centre introduced me to the delights of Utah, and it looks like a great place to look around - but only in Spring or Autumn. Too hot now and it snows in Winter. Another early start. One of the great things about Utah is its reasonable speed limit, 80, which sort of means 95 - 100, which also means that covering distance gets easier, although fuel consumption drops and there's 110 miles without a gas pump after Green River. (Not a problem for the Concours/GTR.) However the views and countryside heading west are spectacular - it truly is stunning country, I might have to come back and visit the parks its too hot for now. As I'm passing St George the bike starts to die (fuel) so I make a dive for the last exit. There's still half a tank but I fuel up with thoughts of water in the carbs or blocked fuel filter/line. Have lunch then go back on the theory that if it is broken I might limp back to the previous exit where a man has said there might be a garage open (even on Sunday!) However it seems to have self repaired so I start cautiously (ie 70) back west. Soon I've thrown caution to the wind and the heat is getting ridiculous. For some reason I'm in Arizona - I didn't expect to be here, maybe I should spend more time plotting my route. Well, today seemed easy I 70 west, I 15 south to I 95 south then 618 or 9 west to junction 81. You'd think I'd know better!
    Because of the heat the ride through Arizona becomes endless with only the signposts offering hope that there is an end to this eternal ride. Then with 15 miles to go Las Vegas is visible! In this land of wide open spaces only Las Vegas has skyscrapers.

    NEVADA 18-29 Aug
    Las Vegas is HOT 38 C (100F) day and night. Am staying with relatives and while they are keen to entertain, the heat is oppressive: on one venture from the car to the shop (a walk of 30m) I get that small of ironing clothes. I'm really delighted to be in a car (aircon!!). Visit Bellagio but the art gallery is showing contemporary Japanese prints and I'm not intersted. After a couple of days I decide I will fly to Vancouver - it (and BRP) are the only major destinations I've omitted.
    The last two months have spoiled me in that I've forgotten just how inconvenient air travel is (although in this instance its still better than the bike.) We have to get up at 5am (for a 7.45 departure half an hour away.) At the airport the ESTA which has got me in and out of Canada twice is deemed inadequate and I have to get an ETA online - sometimes carting this laptop round comes in handy. Yes I know I could do it on the phone - if I knew how. Anyway I'm the second to last to board and we're off to Seattle for a 1 hr wait for the half hour flight which then gets held up for 40 mins.

    Attached Files:

    Kruzof, B10Dave and Amphib like this.
  2. Henry Brian

    Henry Brian n00b

    Aug 30, 2019
    Wellington New Zealand
    You must have cheeks like a baboon after all those ks. great read though my geography and knowledge of architecture lets me down so I have to cross reference a lot. When are you back? James
  3. rampantcuriosity

    rampantcuriosity n00b

    Jun 21, 2019
    Wellington New Zealand
    Nah, even the plane seat got uncomfortable after an hour: never thought I'd be wishing for a fatter arse! Still gotta get the bike to LA and try and sell it so not back until September 18th. As for american geography - I'be been temptrd to rename this "Lost in America"
  4. Henry Brian

    Henry Brian n00b

    Aug 30, 2019
    Wellington New Zealand
    Hope you enjoy Vancouver. How many ks have you done on it?
  5. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

    Jul 29, 2012
    Nice report! You sure covered a lot of miles! Fallingwater.....a flawed masterpiece. During construction Wright had big arguments with the builder and the owner over construction. I've read that the cantilevers were poured dead level, not as designed (bowed upward so the ordinary deflection would leave them level) and with 2 x as much steel in them as Wright specified. But the deflection continued for years and years, without stabilizing as it should have. The design did not properly calculate the stresses and loads involved and apparently neither did the engineering firm brought in by the owner during construction. And yeah, the roof leaked! Maybe not a good idea to try and design a house like this in just 2.5 hours with your apprentices finishing it up while you have lunch with the client? There were structural issues with the house evident during construction. By contrast, Wright designed a Usonian-style house for the Phillips family in New Hampshire and they loved it so much they sent him flowers every year on the anniversary of their first day in the house. You are right about the seemingly ever-decreasing number of road signs in the US. It is getting very common not to have any signs identifying a main thoroughfare, only the cross streets! Frustrating when your gps uses the name of the street and you can't find such a sign anywhere!! When you were in Stamford, Connecticut you were indeed in one of the highest income areas of the country thanks to people with great jobs in NYC who commute from there. CT didn't used to have an income tax, and I think in the good old days of the 20th century that may have made the area attractive to wealthy New Yorkers. And as for Cooperstown, NY....there is one exceedingly wealthy family that pretty much dominates the town (and owns key properties in it and thousands of acres besides). They see to it that the village atmosphere is retained. Did you find it difficult to register and title the bike given that you live in NZ? Was getting insurance a problem?
  6. rampantcuriosity

    rampantcuriosity n00b

    Jun 21, 2019
    Wellington New Zealand
    CANADA - VANCOUVER 29 Aug - 2 Sept
    Some organization in the Canadian Airport League deserves the "Greatest Bureaurocratic Redundancy" award. Many businesses use post and ribbon arrangements to direct lines (queues) of people. After debarking the plane we are ushered into a very large one of these systems - but much to my surprise it flows fast and freely - we're almost trotting through it. And then I discover why - there is nothing at the end of it - no desk or official - just a hall and some stairs that lead to another line management arrangement.
    Vancouver disappoints - nice enough city but the architecture seems forced - Look how clever we are.

    NEVADA LAS VEGAS (2) 3 -5 Sept
    One of the casinos has a Peter Lik gallery - eye grabbing stuff.
    Leaving Las Vegas early (to beat the heat ie only 88/31 not 103/39) I have all day to cover the 270 miles to Los Angeles do I detour to Palm Springs to try and see in person "Lucid Stead" (look it up) and other modernist architecture apparently there. On the way I have two insightful moments. The first is that sagebrush actually smells a little like sage the herb and then there is a round stainless steel tanker with a new or perfectly cleaned (polished?) rear which perfectly reflects the road and me zooming up to meet myself.

    CALIFORNIA (2) 6 - 16 Sept
    Palm Springs is a mirage - it is generally concluded by all I ask (Tourist Information, Architectural Centre and Art Museum) that it may have been demolished but nobody knows for sure and nobody can give directions. Similarly most of the interesting houses are privately owned and unvisitable and their "glass house" is in a pit where you can only see the roof and must arrange a viewing through some committee. So the architectural heritage of Palm Springs is mostly unviewable - not even a mirage!
    Its also as hot as Las Vegas and I get "hot and bothered" and head back to Los Angeles - arriving just after 7pm. While LA may get hot during the day it cools down in the evenings - aahh I love LA. Stay with Wayne (whom I met in Billings Montana) in Venice.
    Russ, whom I originally bought the bike off, has listed it for me on craigslist, so the adventure is almost over. 10,500 miles.
    What have I learned: Its far too hot to motorcycle in Summer. America is too big to motorcycle around in one hit. There is so much scenery I could have spent twice as long. Americans are kind generous and compassionate people regardless of their political leanings. As drivers, they are courteous, careful and deliberate - I don't think I can say that about the drivers of many other countries I've visited.
    One further thought: in the west, generally, America is regarded as something of a cultural desert: burgers, Coca cola, and cars. As well as things like Wayfarers Chapel and Lucid Stead I think America has an important contribution to make to Western Civilization in the openness, frankness and generosity of its people: many countries could learn from them.
  7. rampantcuriosity

    rampantcuriosity n00b

    Jun 21, 2019
    Wellington New Zealand
    Sorry Blader54, I'm sure people have figured by now that I didn't read the instructions on this site. In answer to your question about buying and insuring the bike - it was a bit hap hazard. The guy who was selling it allowed me to use his address to satisfy DMV and give them somewhere to post tickets to. Insurance was through a walk in office - I think I paid through the nose and am really glad I didn't have to rely on it for anything as I'm not sure how effective it would have been. Cost me $900 all up for insurance and transfer costs for a year - be interesting to see how much I get back when I cancel it.