13 November 2011

A Shakedown Run

As many know, the GoldWing has been in the repairers for three months since my ride to Border Run 2011 in August was cut short by a kangaroo.
It was all down to parts being difficult to obtain due to the recent problems in Japan, although I suspect they weren't really trying hard.  The final week's delay consisted of them attempting to locate a replacement HID driving light.  If they had bothered to pick up the phone I could have told them not only where to get them, but that I already had picked up a replacement pair.
That sorted, it was time to do a decent ride.  So I opted to have a go at a 1600km in one day run.  Just for the exercise and not as an Ironbutt Association ride.  So I set out a route on  MapSource which started in Dululu, Qld and went via Emerald, then south through Roma and St George and into New South Wales to Collarenebri, then return home via Moree and Goondiwindi.
The idea was to pick up a photo of the bike in Collarenebri for the FarRider's FarTag game.  The tag had been there for a couple of weeks and I knew a few FarRiders would be heading that way soon for a meetup in Nindigully.  That would be too easy for them so my goal was to move it a little further away.  Which is why I went to Emerald.

I had a lot of loose ends to tie up at home and so did not get away until 11:30am.  It is said by riders that it takes two tankfuls of fuel before you begin to think straight and so it was on this trip.  I needed to get back into "riding rhythm".  So my two tankfulls took me up the Bruce Highway to Rockhampton then west to Dululu where there is a 24 hour servo.  I don't use The Bruce too often, usually preferring the lesser used roads, but this time it was just "get away" without having to think too much.   It seems they are doing quite a lot of upgrades and I was stopped five times at roadworks.  That doesn't do wonders for overall average speeds.  West from Rockhampton it was by now dark, but with lots of oncoming traffic I rarely got the chance to use high beam between Rocky and Dululu.

Dululu is a small town which is quite busy with mining.  The only motel is constantly full and so no accommodation was available.  But they do have a nice big park with toilets and showers and free camping for two nights.  So it was time to roll out the swag and get some shuteye ready for the big ride early next morning.  The weather was fine and warm with a full moon overhead.  I had just inflated my mattress (manually as the blower refused to work) when two trucks pulled in.  They shut down and all was quiet again, apart from the many passing vehicles, mostly semis, loaded with mining equipment.  I made a phonecall to Charleen and then climbed into the swag just as two more trucks pulled in.  Both refrigerator vans with those motors that drone all night.  My pet hate.

So by 11:30 I was still wide awake listening to all the noises and not able to sleep.  Not good for an early start.  I finally nodded off and awoke just before three when an exceptionally noisy semi sounded like he was coming through my camp.  He wasn't, but I was awake now.  I figured this was not going to go well for later in the day finishing off a 1600km journey, but there was nothing I could do about it now.  I packed up and headed over to the servo where they made me a very nice B&E burger and huge coffee.
3:30am sharp, I was under way, wide awake after my nice breakfast and ready to put in a big day.  Traffic was light at this time of day and the new HID driving lights could now be used to full effectiveness, lighting up not only the roadway, but the sides as well.  Essential for night driving on Australian country roads.  That being said, of the four kangaroos I've hit with bikes over the years, three were in broad daylight and the fourth, at night, was just outside Brisbane suburbia.  But it is certainly reassuring to have proper vision when riding at night.
The full moon was now settling in the west and as I rode towards it, it slowly sunk in the haze and turned a pale pink, rather than the expected orange.  It seemed to just fade away, rather than setting.  All around in the dark were lit up areas where mines were busy extracting the precious minerals needed to make motorcycles and go riding them.
The new FarTag
By the time the moon was gone and the fresh glow of morning sky was showing in my mirrors, I was at Emerald where I topped up the fuel, getting a corner docket if needed, and turned south.  I found the airport and pulled in for the first photograph of this run.  This was my "Tag" photo that someone else will need to emulate to keep the FarRider Tag game going - so long as I get the tag awaiting me in the distant south.
The sun then peeked over the horizon and so it was another stop for a photo.  FarRiders see a lot of sunrises and we like to record them.
Sunrise on the Never Ending Road

The run down through Springsure and Rolleston was very pleasant in the fresh morning air.  The countryside looking in excellent condition with long grasses after exceptional seasons.  Here and there were smoky sections though.  Reminders that this country is always on the brink of disaster.  If it isn't drought, it is flood followed by fire, which often leads to more drought.  The short spells between can be quite exceptional though and right now is one of those exceptional times when the countryside is looking its best.
Mt Zamia overlooks Springsure
Rolleston to Roma through Injune is a long road. 170km without services.  Without towns.  Without even any visible farms.  Nothing but green countryside with the only break coming when the highway winds its way through the Carnarvon Range.  The countryside changes from wide open plains to stands of tall gums with a backdrop of sandstone cliffs as the road follows up a creek bed then over a ridge.  Shortly after it is back to those never ending plains.
Another fuel top up in Injune where I had a casual conversation with a pilot vehicle driver for a wide load.  I had seen a few of these on the road.  Sure enough they were huge drilling rigs.  On their way south for more exploration.
Roma was next.  Talk about a mining town.  Just try to get accommodation here on a week night when all the miners are working.  There's lots of motels but always full.  Today was a kinda special day, calendar wise.  November 11 in 2011, resulted in an unusual arrangement of numbers.  It was also more importantly Australia's Remembrance Day when we remember and honour all our fallen Diggers.  It was a little early, but I stopped outside the local RSL hall for a photo.  I might use that for another FarTag one day soon, but for now it just serves as a reminder.
Heading south towards St George I rode through the time we remember, 11:00am, and had my own quiet thoughts and thank you to all who have served and specially those who gave their all for our country.
The countryside itself was still green and seemingly getting greener as I headed south.   I was now heading for Hebel and the Qld/NSW border and the usual description "Wide Brown Land" seemed far from this reality.  Green grass and trees as far as the eye can see.  Let's hope someone is making the most of it while it lasts.
Sky, Trees, Road, Bike.
Stopping at the border to get a photo I really felt the pull of gravity as the bike leaned over on to the stand.  Getting it back up to move on was quite difficult and I realised I was wearing out.  I had been on the road for 10 and a half hours with only three short stops for fuel and a couple for photos.  The lack of sleep at Dululu was starting to tell and although I was wide awake, I was aching in all the parts that suffer from motorcycle riding, bum, knees and shoulders. 
I still had a ways to go to get to my first goal, Collarenebri, so it was concentrate on riding and exercising those bits which needed it.  Leg stretches on the highway pegs, rolling the shoulders and shifting seat position to keep the circulation going in the gluteus maximus.   This kept me occupied until I finally arrived at the little town. 
The old FarTag
First things first. I located the park where Mel had photographed her Kawasaki and took one of the Wing in the same position.  Then I found a nice shade park table and pulled out the iPad.  Full 3G service here so I emailed the two photographs to my home computer.  Then logged on to that computer with the pad and resized and uploaded the photos from there to the site.  Then put in a post on the FarRider Tag topic and the main goal was complete.  The new FarTag location was Emerald Airport.  I wonder how long it will last.  No matter.  This was FarTag No.101 and the game goes on.
Next was fuel and take stock of myself.  I was definitely not 100% but figured I still had a few kays left in me, but now it was check and double check myself at each stopping opportunity, watching for signs that fatigue was setting in.  The road from Collarenebri to Moree was 110kph so I got some good distance in without too much trouble, only being startled once by a low-flying crop-duster as it came up from behind.  I even managed to whip out the camera for a photo-on-the-fly.
At Moree I was still OK and knew I could easily do the next hundred or so to Goondiwindi and usually once I get there, the "smell" of home gives me a new lease of life.  It usually only takes four hours.   Riding up the Newell I watched storm clouds gathering ahead and figured I was in for a little wetness before getting home.
Storms gathering over Goondiwindi
I pulled in to Goondi and could barely get off the bike.  Time for a meal and stocktake.  I checked the weather ahead and sure enough, a few wandering storms lay before me, whichever way I went, via Toowoomba or Warwick.  Stormy night time travel is no fun at the best of times.  I called home and had a chat with Charleen, who could hear the tiredness in my voice, and so, much to her relief, I decided to pull the pin and forgo the 1600km run.  I had covered 1346km since 3:30am, fifteen and a half hours ago but had serious doubts about lasting another 250 or so to make the 1600, let alone the 350km needed to get home.
Luckily, the good folks at the Goondiwindi Motel had a room and I staggered in for the nicest shower and softest bed I had experienced in a long time.  They were probably no better than normal but boy they felt good.  I was snoring by 9:30, with no truck noises to disturb me.
Next morning was quite the leisurely ride home.  The weather was fine and warm, no hint of rain, though wet patches showed where it had rained overnight.  Saturday traffic was mild on the run in to Brissy and I was home by 10am, even with taking time out for a nice breakky at Warwick.
The Wing sure did need cleaning.

03 October 2011

FarRide East #17

This was a first for me.  All my FarRides have been done on a GoldWing and as I have always said, it is cheating.
Doing 1000km on a big comfy 'Wing is nowhere as difficult as doing it cramped up on some sporty crotch rocket, and I've often marveled at those who subject themselves to such hardships.
With the 'Wing still in the shop getting kangaroo damage fixed and awaiting parts from a beleaguered Japan, the FarRiding Steed duties fell to the "little bike", the CBF 1000, known as the Biffer.
OK so it is not really a crotch rocket sporty, but it wasn't designed as a long-haul tourer either.

Our plan was to keep it down to a 1000km FarRide this time.  Charleen is eligible to go for a 1200, having completed four riding 1000s, but this ride was not the time.  Besides, how I would go on the little bike was in question.  I've done some longer rides on it, but not a FarRide as such.

So we set out from Brisbane on Friday morning, planning to stay at Biloela, then do the 586km from there to Eungella in the morning and complete the 1000 by making it to Rocky after lunch.

Also in the plan was to keep away from The Bruce - not our favourite highway. Despite being well and truly over-policed for speeding offences, it remains a dangerous road and the school holidays don't help.
So it was turn left at Caboolture and head up the D'Aguilar Hwy to Nanango then join the Burnett Hwy to Biloela.

We were lucky at the Blackbutt Range, which has a one-way section similar to Cunninghams Gap and due to the same wild weather last year.  It can often result in a half hour delay, but we just got in at the end of the queue.
Pulling up for our first fuel stop at Gayndah, we noticed it was 11:55am so we waited for five minutes and got a midday docket just for fun.
Taking a break at Lawgi Hall

The going was pretty easy and we arrived in Biloela in the early afternoon which gave us plenty of time to have an early night for an early start next morning.

In fact we had so much spare time we decided to go for a ride - as you do.  We figured that if we did a 160km run this afternoon, added that to what we'd done since Gayndah and to what we'd do in the morning, we'd have over 1000km up before getting to Eungella.

A break at Roundstone Station
Was it hard to see?
The Sunset Shot - CeeBee, Charleen and the Biffer
So we picked a spot on the map west of Biloela, Roundstone Station, and off we went.  We went past the large mining district and through the town of Moura and out a bit further before finding Roundstone.  Turned out their front access road was made of all little round stones and difficult to ride on.  But we managed to not drop the bikes and sent of a SPOT OK message, enjoyed a bit of peace and quiet in the late afternoon sun, then headed back in to Biloela.  Now we had the sun behind and the riding was much easier.  We only stopped for a quick sunset shot and then gathered every bug in the district on our way in.

A bite to eat and then the early night.

Woke up at 3:25, just before the alarm - I seem to do that on long rides - and we were underway a bit late at 15 minutes after our planned 4:00am start.  Charleen was in front as she had the HID lights on the CeeBee whereas the Biffer only had the standard lights, which turned out to be pretty good.

It wasn't long before we hit the fog.  Thicker and thicker it got until we were riding under 60kph and practically having to feel our way along.  This was no way to get distance under the wheels!

But the fog persisted all the way up to the Capricorn Highway and in to Duaringa.   Then it cleared up a bit and we pulled in to Dingo roadhouse, cold, damp and our ETA half an hour later than I would have liked.

After a quick breakky and coffee we headed north and the going got much better.  Good road, warm sunshine and only the odd road train to contend with.  We slowly pulled back the ETA to something more respectable.

Arriving at Nebo, I noticed Tack had made a call and so rang him back to find he was only ten minutes behind us.  While we waited, Malcolm turned up, then Tack arrived with a veritable convoy in tow.  Riders from SA, Vic and all places in between had joined in.  Great FarRiding stuff.

But we were on a mission to get there early and set up checkin, so we said a hurried "Hi and Bye" and took off with 130km still to do and some not-so-quick roads ahead.

Turns out they were even less quick as we got stopped time and time again at roadworks, four of them in all.

Finally, at the last roadworks stop, we turned up our 1000km with 11 to do, the last four looking like they were straight up.   Turned out to be a great set of twisties that were quite technical.  Mainly because there were several grids strategically placed on sharp corners.  That sure kept us on our toes.  The Biffer took to it like a duck to water and I had a few minutes of great fun.

We arrived at the top with a good fifteen minutes to spare before checkin opened, to be greeted by FarRiders galore in a spectacular setting that looked back down the range towards Mackay - or would if there were less smoke in the air.

Still, it was a great place for lunch and also great to catch up with all the old and new FarRiders from Near and Far.
Click this for a much larger version

Checkins, lunch, speeches and photos, all the usual stuff and before we knew it, we were due out again as we still wanted to make it back to Rocky for the night.

Down the hill again and we soon caught up with JC and Andrea on that beautiful CBR1000F.  We stayed with them until Homebush then headed south to Sarina for a fuelup.

We had a nice untroubled run then but only until just south of Clairview where we came up behind a traffic queue of a couple of kilometres.  Apparently fires had blocked the road ahead and stop/go had been set up.
Moving forward bit by bit, we soon got sick of that and could see a group of bikes further down the line.
We made our way slowly down the "bike lane" and caught up with BmacG with Deb and Spada plus a couple of other bikes.  We inched our way towards the front and then through the smoke together.

Then it was an hour and a half run in to Rocky in heavy traffic.  Eventually we all shoved Spada in to the lead on his Blackbird and we threaded our way past the throng, arriving in Rocky just on dusk.

That was enough for us, it had been a long day and Charleen and I were just about shot.  Spada and BmacG and Deb decided to keep going and to their credit, I heard they made it home in good time.  Well done.

Our Sunday was much better but it got off to a slow start.  I decided to fill in the Finisher Form, only to find the database was stuck on an incorrect password and refusing to load.  Aagh!  I knew all those FarRiders would be trying to get on.  So I got on the phone and got our lodger at home to get out of bed and switch on my computer, logged in with the iPad and spent a good hour or so tracing the problem and getting it fixed.

Only a couple of minutes of it being online, the first entry came through.   Success.  We could be on our way.

Keeping to our idea of not using the Bruce any more than we had to, we headed out through Mt Morgan and back down to Biloela and from there to re-trace our route back home.  We had a lovely day of riding.  There was quite a bit of wind which resulted in some interesting lean angles on some corners, but also stirring up much smoke and fires.  I was pretty sure we only just made it through a couple of places before the Brigades turned up and closed off the road.  This was later confirmed by a phone call from MichaelP who came along after us and had to be re-directed a couple of times, even over some dirt roads to Mt Perry and across to the Bruce.

We were much more fortunate and made it home in plenty of time to give the bikes a much needed tub and sit back to finally take in all of what turned out to be a very eventful and exciting FarRide.
Tubby Time
So, how did I go on the Little bike, rather than the 'Wing?   Well the Biffer handled itself quite well and was (as it usually is) great fun to ride.  It was great to have it for that quick run up and down the Eungella Range.
But for the long-haul rides of 1000km plus days, I won't be getting rid of the 'Wing.

19 September 2011

Day 29 Getting Ready to Fly Home

C U SOON - be sure to click the photo.

Day 28 Last Full Day in USA

Well - maybe.  We leave LAX at almost midnight tomorrow night, so let's call this our last Free day.

Began by watching the MotoGP.  They didn't have Speed channel here amongst the 30 or more channels on the hotel TV, but luckily we get it on iPad.  It's only in graphic form, but gives an idea of the race, which consisted of Casey Stoner taking the lead in the first couple of laps and extending that lead throughout, leaving the minor placings for the rest.   When in form he is unbeatable.

Then it was down for breakfast at yet another small cafe on 56th Street.  A good cheap one - hard to find in this city.   We were looking for the Sunday street markets like they had last time we were here two years ago.  Many blocks of 6th Ave were closed and stalls set up.  Lots of bargains and we had left our main souvenir purchases just for today.

For these markets.

That weren't on.


Oh well.  We wandered about a bit then decided to make the train journey to Coney Island.  That'll kill a few hours.  Down to our now well-known underground system and jumped aboard a Q train.  It was mostly express for a while until out of Manhattan then up in to the light and across Manhattan Bridge then all stations to the terminus at Coney Island.

Quite an interesting place.  Coney Island has seen better days.  That's the nice way to put it.  The boardwalk is pleasant with a nice sandy beach leading to dubious looking "surf" in which a few hardy souls swam.
The souvenir shops and eateries were - ordinary.  We had a coffee.
Thought we had better go for a ride on something seeing as we were here so we picked a rather unusual ferris wheel where the cars seemed to have free reign.

Actually they just moved back and forth on rails, but it was a bit of fun for $6 each.

There was also advertised a Bike and Tattoo show which we tracked down to find it was just a bar with an old WWII era outfit rotting out the front.  In an unrelated incident there were a few Harley riders parked nearby and we watched and listened to them roar away.  One or two of them probably had a tattoo.

Manhattan Skyline from Coney Island  Wonder Wheel

The Bike and Tattoo Show
Back at the station, we needed some cash as our pocket green was running low so we went in to a Bank of America ATM "safe room".  You know the type, where you swipe your card on the door to have exclusive access to the machine in a locked room.   The door was unlocked.  There was one "local" person using one machine and another loitering in the corner.  So we got our money and left.  Incident free.  Perceptions can be daunting.

Back on the train - N train this time to return a slightly different way - and in an hour or so we were back in Manhattan.

Time to go souvenir hunting and we went up and down 7th and Broadway checking out the shops, finding the cheaper prices in the little off-street shops.  We got what we wanted to get that morning at the 6th Ave street stalls.

Whilst there, we decided to go to a Broadway play - as opposed to a musical - for our last night in Manhattan.  We decided on Perfect Crime, showing at the Jerry Orbach Theatre.  The theatre named for the late actor who capped a Broadway career with a starring role in Law and Order.  Got some tickets from  TKTS for a discount then returned to the hotel to get ready.

Plenty of time so we ventured down to Hells Kitchen for dinner only to find the street stalls being dismantled after a long day of selling their wares from 9th Ave - rather than 6th where we went looking this morning.

Double dammit.

Oh well, nothing for it but to have a meal in a nice Italian Restaurant.  Delicious it was too.  Then off to the play.

What an amazing play.  We discovered that this play, Perfect Crime has been playing on Broadway since 1987 and some time next week will clock up it's 10,000th performance.  The lead star, Catherine Russell has played all but four nights, earning herself a place in Guinness's Book.
It was a great, if confusing, yarn and kept the audience guessing all the way through.  Very entertaining.

Then we wandered back "home" only stopping for an over-priced coffee at a nearby cafe we won't go near again.

Tomorrow we begin our journey home.

18 September 2011

Days 26-27 Two More in NYC

7th Ave traffic from our window
Never got around to a blog yesterday.  Too full a day and we were back at the hotel around midnight.

My birthday dawned fine and cool for us here.  A lovely day to go exploring.
Breakfast was at a local diner.  A bit crowded and full of tourists, but nice food.  Prices here are a bit like home, so much more expensive than everywhere else in the country.

Then it was on the underground for a ride downtown to the Staten Island Ferry terminal and a ride on the ferry.  No real wish to go to Staten Island, but the ride takes you past Ellis and Liberty Islands and is free.   Something in New York for free is hard to pass up.
Lower Manhattan Island

Someone took our photo

Lady Liberty
The Staten Is Ferry

Freedom Tower from the river
Nearly back again

After that it was a wander around the Wall Street area then back on the trains - we are getting pretty good at them now.
Zippy little police bikes

Someone asked did we see him.  A Times Square icon

We made our way back to Times Square where they sell tickets for Broadway Shows for that night, usually around half price.  There were two huge queues and it took nearly an hour to get to the front.  I left Charleen to look after that and made my way back to the hotel for a nap.  No real need for two to do the job.She came back with tickets for The Addams Family musical and so we both rested up and then went back down to Broadway.  It was a pleasant evening for a stroll down Broadway and we got to the theatre with plenty of time to spare.

The show was very good, starting out the right way with the orchestra playing the familiar da-da-da-dump and the audience responding with fingersnapping Click Click.   Brooke Shields played Morticia beautifully and the rest of the cast did a great job.  Uncle Fester and Grandma were probably the most entertaining characters.

Back out into the crowds and we slowly made our way home, stopping for coffee on the way.

What a great Birthday.

Saturday we kept it low key and just went for a stroll in Central Park.  Now Central Park is a big place so we didn't see it all.  It started with a few locals having a friendly game of baseball and with all the calling out and mild sledging, it was quite entertaining.

Then New York put on a parade - just for us - and we wandered down Fifth Ave and enjoyed the show.  Apparently it was Steuben Parade day, a day when locals from near and far celebrate any German heritage they may have.

It was a very long parade and went for a couple of hours, by which time we were far from home and so had to catch a train back again.  This idea was shared with just about everyone else and the train was more like a sardine can.  Not a big worry as we only went four stops then changed to a marginally less crowded train another two stops to pop up right next to our hotel.  What a great system.

The rest of the afternoon we have taken it easy, only venturing out to Hells Kitchen for dinner.  Lots less tourists and more locals down there and the food and prices reflect.  The language can be difficult to interpret sometimes.  They do speak english - mostly - but with a wide mixture of accents.

Another full day here tomorrow.  Wonder what it will bring.

16 September 2011

Day 25 - First Day in NYC

Sad to see a brick wall as our "view".

There was a misunderstanding about our room booking at the Park Central. We had booked online a Times Square View Room.  The check in attendant mentioned something about an upgrade, but we didn't catch on.  We got to our room, opened the curtains and looked out to see a solid brown brick wall.  How disappointing!  A phone call to reception and we were told that there wasn't anything they could do as all the Time Square rooms were already allocated and that the information showed the booking was made through an external online agent.  We searched through our paperwork and found a printout of the email confirming our booking and the room type.  Next morning we will see someone about sorting this out.

After a restless night, we woke early and decided to go for a walk.  We called past reception to see if there was someone in charge we could discuss our situation.   The manager would be available in half an hour.  We went for a walk towards Central Park and around the block.  On our return we talked with the desk clerk again and explained our request.  Thankfully he acted on the detail in the email without argument.  We then had to pack our bags and put them in storage for the day.  Our room would be ready after 4pm that meant we were roomless.

Feeling much happier, we found a deli to have breakfast and discuss our plans for the day.

We ended up buying a Metro card each for unlimited travel for 7 days.  We used the underground train to make our way to the World Trade Centre site.    The platform and carriage weren't crowded as we were well past peak hour.  We walked around the site and spent time in the museum shop.  There were lots of folk here.  We were content to walk around and see the site from different vantage points as we hadn't pre-purchased our tickets to access the memorial gardens.
Nearly caught playing in the fountain

The new Freedom Tower rising to overlook the Memorial Gardens

This almost looks like someone we know.  Trev will know who.

Lunchtime sees the square filled with construction workers in fluro shirts

This is a very sobering place.  Never having known what it was like before the event, we could only imagine the devastation.  Ten years on, New Yorkers have done well to reclaim their space.

Time to work our way back, so we caught another train on a different line.  This one took us through Grand Central Station.  This was another place that we wanted to see.
Grand Central Station's Main Hall

and no one to give me a shine...

It started to rain, so we stopped in a park in the shelter of a statue.  There was a piano player entertaining a small lunch time crowd.  This seemed to part of a number of events celebrating the onset of Fall.

We weren't far (in the scheme of things) from our hotel, so we walked.  I spotted a shop that proved to have some fabulous clothes and a chair for Clint while I looked around.  A new top and a pair of trousers later, we were on our way.

A slow wander back and we joined a very long queue of people waiting to check in.  We chatted with a young fellow who had arrived from Alaska where he had been hunting moose!

Much happier
Finally, we were re-checked in, collected our luggage from storage and found our room.  First things first, Clint opened the curtains and saw the view he had been waiting for - Times Square.  Happy birthday!  Bags stowed and settled in for the remainder of our stay.  We should sleep well tonight.

15 September 2011

Day 24 - Bye Bye to the BeigeMobile

Our final day on the road started well.  We didn't have too far to go so slept in a little.  Not easy though, those cars, trucks and trains on the nearby Interstate were a tad noisy.
The road ahead looked a lot easier than it might seem.  Driving in to New York City sounds daunting.  But there is a parkway called Taconic State Parkway that ran from near our motel all the way in to the city.  Parkways are for the use of passenger vehicles only.  No trucks, no commercial vehicles, no caravans or motor homes even.  This sounded like heaven.
Karen's GPS route showed us going the Taconic, the Sprain Brook Pky, The Henry Hudson Pky, 56th St then 7th Ave.  Easy.
Too easy.
But first, breakfast.  We let Karen find us a food outlet, selecting "American", and sure enough, just two miles off the parkway here was the nicest looking diner of our trip so far.  Dan's Diner is run by three young ladies and they do a terrific job.
Is this neat or what?
Just as neat inside and good food too.

Taconic State Parkway - no trucks, no caravans.

Only Mustangs.
Back on the Parkway and we cruised along listening to podcasts and enjoying the relatively traffic-free run.  We were early so doing right on the 55mph limit and getting overtaken by almost everyone, except one Mustang that stayed behind us for miles.
Nearing the end of the Taconic, we pulled over for a while and sorted out the BeigeMobile.  We would need to have her cleaned out fairly quickly in Manhattan and packing all the loose stuff away was best done somewhere quiet.
Still way too early - checkin was listed as 4pm - we got Karen to find us a Starbucks.  Just back a little from where we stopped.  Coffee, snack, internet and restroom, we were still four hours from checkin and less than half an hour away by parkways.
Looking idly at the map I saw a road nearby that joined up with another called North Broadway.  Looking all along, it turned out that this road ran all the way in to the actual Broadway as one long road - eventually - and Broadway runs right behind our 7th Avenue hotel.
Well, we had all this time to spare so I suggested we drive all the way in on this "surface" road rather than the Parkways.  Charleen was a bit dubious but it looked like a pretty straight through run.
So I switched Karen's directions off and away we went. We could always call her back up if needed.
Well, that sure used up most of the spare time.
Paintings of buildings on the buildings

Almost looks like a movie set.

It was fun.  Though Charleen is not sure of my idea of fun.  Heck, I've driven heavy vehicles through the centre of all of Australia's major cities and punting the BeigeMobile in NYC traffic was a lark compared.
Well, there was this one incident involving a school bus and an unmarked police car, but we all missed each other.  Not even a horn honk, but that was probably due to the presence of the police car and the signs that advise a $350 fine for unnecessary horn use.  A law that many NYC drivers ignore most of the time.
Oh yes - on Columbus Circle I had to duck across a couple of lanes and cut off a couple of yellow cabs - but they were fine with it.  Really.  American drivers are much more polite than the average Aussie city driver.
Plenty of these

Getting in to the thick of it

Yellow Cabs - must be close now

We turned in to a quiet street
so we could run beside Central Park

We didn't honk and the cab drivers were very patient.

Arrived at the Hotel and casually parked out the front, the door bloke helped us unload and let us leave the car there while we checked in.  By the time we got back out, there was a different bloke there, but he had our keys so he got the tip.
We took the BeigeMobile the last couple of blocks to the rental company and gave her back.  We were just a little sad to see our gallant little steed go.  Sure, a Ford Escape wasn't what we asked for, but it served us well, never missed a beat and was pretty comfortable and quite economical.

Total distance for the circle, shown below in magenta, was 9592 kilometres according to Karen.
So here's all our USA tracks since 2009, the magenta one is the most recent.