31 August 2011

Day 09 Westward Ho

Our plan, such as it is, is to go west to Lincoln, Nebraska then north to Duluth, Minnesota. The Nebraska stop will complete our visits to all the mainland states of USA. And Duluth? That's where Aerostich Motorcycle Apparel have their shop. It is at the pointy left end of Lake Michigan, the largest and leftmost of the Great lakes.

To that end, today we headed towards St Louis. One thing we found out was that, unlike the Route66 song, the final S is pronounced.

Anyhow, the day started out fine and cool and we headed a little north.

It was interesting to note the number of different banks in this country. In Australia we just have the Big Four and a few credit unions. Here there are any number of different banks, some have a National presence, but many would have to be local only.

Speaking of banks, we went past Fort Knox. Actually we called in, hoping for a tour with samples. But we were quickly turned away. Bugger. The military guy was quite nice about it.

Shortly after, we left Kentucky and re-entered Indiana for a while. It took some looking, but we finally found a diner around 9:30am and had a hearty breakfast. Not the most memorable diner we've been to, but passable. We also looked in a nearby antique store and came out with some nice smelling crumbles. They are meant to go into candles, or heated above a tea-light. But just by themselves they make the car smell really nice.

Here we turned west and headed along Hwy 50 until we got to near St Louis. Then we took the I64 in to town and turned off to take a look at the Gateway Arch. This huge steel structure overlooks the Mississippi River and the city of St Louis. It is 630 ft high and 630 ft between the stands. Truly massive.

Underneath it has a visitor centre and museum as well as a "train" that takes you all the way to the top inside the arch. Quite an incredible journey as the train starts off lined up one way then turns right upside down as it gets to the top. The tiny carriages are suspended and so stay upright. They are very cosy inside.

Once at the top, in a short hallway, tiny windows let you look straight down as well as out to the City to the west, or across the river to Illinois to the east.

We spent quite some time here, up the top, then back down and in the museum where we learned a great deal about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which departed St Louis in 1804 to travel up the Missouri River then across the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean, returning two years later. It was a very difficult, but successful mission.

Nearby on the river was a helipad barge with a little Robbo. What the heck, we took a flight to have a look at the arch from the air as well, and a short tour of the City. We flew over a 30,000 seat baseball stadium and a brewery where they make Budweiser beer. It is also surprising to see how much traffic still uses the Mississippi River for transportation of goods.

Sufficiently educated, we made our way to our digs for the night, travelling once again on I64, but this time in peak hour. With at least three breakdowns on the 15 mile journey, it took a while. At one stage we saw red/blue flashing lights and sirens behind us and with the rest of the traffic, we squeezed over to allow the emergency vehicle through. Turned out it was the Towie!!

Didn't feel like going out for tea tonight so we had it delivered. A giant burger for me with Idaho potato as a "side" and a huge salad for Charleen. The damage? $18.02 delivered. The really nice Days Inn motel cost $62.00 with taxes. No wonder this country is nearly broke.


We weren't really welcome

This is as close as we got

Bridge across the Ohio between Kentucky and Indiana

Lovely quiet country roads

We found a car yard with an impressive array of 60s classics

Breakfast in Paoli, In with BeigeMobile in the background

Tick one more state

Places like this Karen earns her keep

First glimpse of Gateway Arch

What we should have had and the BeigeMobile

Closeup to the Arch

Nanu Nanu?

Panorama from the top. Click for much much larger

Inside the top of the Arch

The "Train Carriage" seats 5

One serious welding job

Underneath The Arch(es)

Can I have a go?

St Louis and the Gateway Arch

Traffic Chaos finished off our day.

30 August 2011

Day 08 From Indy to Bourbon Sampling

There was no pressure on us to be anywhere by any time today. Our course was set to head back south to Kentucky to pick up the Bourbon Trail and work our way to Washington, Indiana. We are on the hunt for our remaining mainland states - Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri.

We woke late and had a leisurely breakfast. Also had the opportunity to say our farewells to Jack and Linda who are on their own quest. It's been great spending some time with them again.

Checked out of our room, packed the car and headed off on the Interstate again. As we passed Louisville, Kentucky we noticed that the sides of tall buildings were adorned with large posters of local personalities, one of which was Colonel Sanders of the fried chicken fame. We pulled into a travel information centre to find out about the Bourbon Trail. A very helpful couple gave some information and tried to talk us into seeing some kangaroos in the local zoo. No thanks, we've enough close encounters with those critters. We were told that the Jim Beam distillery was the closest one to the highway. Jack and Linda had been there and they told us that the tour wasn't being provided. We also asked about the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History in Bardstown. Duly armed with the necessary brochures and then some, we headed to Bardstown.

Oops! there goes the turn off to Jim Beam Distillery. Oh well, we are in Kentucky after all, so we had better try Kentucky Fried Chicken. The KFC that we pulled into provided a buffet. All we wanted was something small to have as a snack before trying any alcoholic beverages. Eventually we had two pieces of chicken and a biscuit each. They have way more options of sides than we do. You could have greens, green beans, wedges and a few other things that were said in rapid fire Kentuckian that we couldn't understand. None of this coleslaw and potato and gravy stuff. The chicken tasted the same, it's still on the bone which is our preference. Not the sort of food that we would normally eat, but it was worth a try in it's home town. We made a phone call to the Heaven Hill distillery to check on their opening times as the information lady had said they were closed, but the brochure said differently. Success! the distillery was open today.

Karen navigated us through some back roads making it seem like we were headed to some shady place, when all of a sudden we were presented with a venue that had beautiful lawns and gardens. We were just in time for the next tour. Holly was our guide, a local lady who was keen to answer our general questions about life in the area as well as take us through the official tour.

The fungi Torula was evident everywhere. The white storage buildings (rick houses) had what looked to be black soot creeping up the walls.

Inside the rick house we saw rows upon rows of barrels of bourbon in various states of maturation. These were three barrels high per row of 16, called a Rick. Dozens of ricks to a floor and the buildings, called rickhouses, were seven floors high, each holding around 20,000 barrels. They have 49 rickhouses. Holly told us that the evaporation of the contents of the barrels was considered taxes paid to the angels and that if you had a special request, this was the place to ask because there were plenty of angels hanging about and they would be in a good mood.

Back into the main area where we were taken into the tasting room. It's designed on a barrel. Here we were invited to participate in the art of sip and savor of 12 and 18 year old bourbon. Yum!

With the tour finished and a souvenir or two purchased, we decided to change plans and make for Elizabethtown, KY to be our stop for the night. We found a Super 8 motel with a laundry and settled in for the afternoon.

Welcome back to Kentucky

What else to do but have KFC for lunch

Inside the Oscar Getz Museum

What'll it be?

Rickhouses with torula mold on the walls

Inside a rickhouse

Braced for strength

The barrel-shaped tasting bar

A Kentucky Afternoon

29 August 2011

Day 07 The Day has Arrived

We had arranged with Jack and Linda for an early breakfast and departure as we would like to secure a good car park and find our way to our seats in plenty of time.

On the way there, we discussed whether we should turn back to get our flag and decided no.

We found a car park directly behind the grandstand we were to be in. We had a relatively small walk to the entrance gate. Hopefully at the end of the day a few more gates will be open which will allow for a quick get away.

One huge coincidence was that we had booked our tickets online some time before talking with Jack about our plans. Jack booked his tickets online, too. We expected that we would be in separate areas of the same grandstand, but not together. Couldn't believe our eyes when it turns out that we had seats side by side. They were the front row on the penthouse part of the stadium just passed the start/finish line. We faced the Repsol Honda garages ... Casey, Dani and Andrea ... WhooHooo!!!

Uh oh! Maybe we should have our flag. Clint decided to go back and get the one that we had especially brought for the race. It would be good to have it visible.

The morning sessions were the warm ups - 125cc, Moto2 and then MotoGP. Clint missed the 125s, Moto2 and the start of the MotoGP. That's not so bad. It was only warm up, after all.

With the flag duly installed we settled into watch the racing. The last few races have been on tight circuits and we have seen some amazingly close dices. We were hoping for the same. The Brickyard circuit has two long straights with a few twisty corners to make it interesting. Terol pulled out in front and stayed there to win the 125s. Corsi lead the Moto2 class until passed by Marquez who then extended his lead to the finish. Looks like the Brickyard suits the rider with the best set up and the best application of power.

There was about 50 minutes to wait for the MotoGP. We were entertained by a Red Bull Race stunt flyer - amazing skills.

Then it was time! The MotoGP bikes and riders were making their way onto the grid. Clint thought that was a good time to take my photo with the grid in the background. Just as he was taking my photo, I saw out of the corner of my eye that our flag and I were on the big screen around the ground. Can't say whether it will be part of the broadcast or whether Clint was in the shot, too.

The sound! The bikes were impressive during practice and qualifying. Hearing them all take off together was extraordinary.

The first three laps were tight racing, but again Casey got to the front and stretched his lead. It wasn't a good day for the Ducatis. Rossie ran down one of the slip roads on two separate occasions and Hayden pulled into the pits about two laps from the end. He did continue but to no real effect. Three other Ducatis dnf'd. All the Japanese bikes did fine and even the lone Suzuki made a good show.

Once Casey had crossed the finished line we untied our flag and took off for the section of the stadium directly in front of the winners podium. We made our way to the front and watched Ben, Dani and Casey receive their trophies and "get busy with the fizzie" as the local announcer was fond of saying.

The Brickyard caters for crowds of 300,000. The crowd for the MotoGP was about 80,000. That meant there were plenty of spare seats thankfully. Our seats were in the sun for the best part of the day. I would move into the shade when I felt I had had enough sun. I didn't do it enough as tonight I've got sunburnt arms.

Tonight we walked into town and had dinner with Jack and Linda in Scotty's Brewhouse. It's a sports bar and one set of TVs was showing the races that we didnt stay to watch - the Harley 1200 AMA series.

So that wraps up my birthday, it's been super long, super special and I got to spend it all with my super special man.

Clint and Jack

The Indy Control Tower

Repsol Garage right opposite us

Set up with our flag

Just before the start

They're Off

The winners "get busy with the fizzy"

From BeigeBoy
Super Aussie Hero

28 August 2011

Day 06 A Day at the Track

Not a great deal to report today. We spent most of the day at the track. We mostly just wandered about looking at the merchandise and making a couple of purchases. Not much.

For the final qualifying we located Jack and Linda high in the stands and watched Casey blitz everyone for pole position. Here's hoping he can carry that over into the race.

It was a lot of walking early in the day so good to sit down for the qualifying. Then a long walk back to the car.

So we were back at the hotel at 6pm or so and it was still very light. It doesn't get dark here until after 9pm. The best thing to do? Go for a walk.

Downtown is only three blocks away from our hotel so it was an easy stroll for us. Everyone else took their bikes. There were thousands of them. Inner city streets were blocked off to cars and were lined with bikes for several blocks. Plus a constant stream of rolling bikes up and down the road. There was a very strong police presence, with dozens of police bikes in town. It would be a good time to go for a blast down the highway. But I doubt anyone did. Here was the place to be.

By far the most numerous make was Harley Davidson, though all makes were well represented.
A good sprinkling of GoldWings. Not one CB1300 or Biffer.

We had ourselves an ice cream. Then wandered about photographing some of the more unusual motorcycle creations.

Back to the hotel, we are all walked out for the day. More of the same tomorrow.

Watching the qualifying

Ducati have a strong presence

Casey Stoner

Local Hero Nicky Hayden

Street Scene, Can you see a famous face?

Some police are observant

Today they are

Some fabulous creations

State Police were here too

Now THAT's an ice cream

27 August 2011

Day 05 We made it to Indy

Today was to be a straight forward run of about 180km to get from Cincinnatti to Indianapolis. Our route was to take us on some alternative roads, rather than using the Interstate. We had been using the Interstates and were looking forward to a more relaxed run. It also allowed us to make a stop at our bank branch.

We should have known we would be in for a difficult day when Karen uttered "drive" as the only command as we left our accommodation. She seemed to be out of sorts and not providing the usual calls for turns.

We'd been enjoying our run throughout the countryside when on the approaches to College Corner on the border of Ohio and Indiana when signs showed that the road (Hwy 27) was closed ahead. Strange thing was that it appeared the locals were ignoring the closures, so we did too. Jack and Linda on their bike followed us for a little way and got separated from us by some traffic. When we realized they weren't with us any more, we doubled back to where we last saw them. Still no Jack and Linda, so we went further back into town where we might have some phone coverage. We were on our way back to the township of Oxford when we were able to make a call to them. Jack reported their location on Hwy 44 near the town of Liberty. Jack tried to explain which turn off he took, but we got confused. We used all available technology and worked our way through farms and back roads to eventually find Hwy 44. Then it was a push onto Connersville where Jack and Linda had pulled over to wait for us.

Back together again, Karen ignored our request to make a small detour to our bank in Rushville. Time to override her willfulness.

We encountered more road works, more road closures and more detours. How straight forward it would have been if we had travelled the Interstate. Eventually we found our way to our Indianapolis accommodation. It didn't help that they and changed names in between the time of the booking and the time of arrival.

Inside, we checked in and received the envelope containing our tickets. This was the only niggling thought I had in the lead up - I hope our tickets are there when we arrived, that they hadn't been sent to Australia by mistake.

We quickly made arrangements with Jack and Linda to meet up with us and travel in the car to the track.

At the arena, we found some free parking that wasn't overcrowded. We walked through to the stadiums in the heat. All of the stadiums were closed off with ropes and no access signs. We were getting tired of this as the MotoGP Free Practice 2 session had started. So we slipped in to one stadium for a short while until a security officer asked us to move on. Finally we found somewhere to sit. We managed to find some seats way up high near the end of the front straight and the first set of corners. Rather good view from here to watch Casey Stoner take the lead.

At the end of the session, we explored the next level up and found some better seats closer to the start/finish line to watch the Moto2 Free Practice 2 session.

Session over, we walked to where our allocated seats for Sunday are and then through the tunnel into the arena where the merchants were. Honda had a good display of their machines as well as clothing. We treated ourselves to a new Honda shirt each.

We walked for some time in the heat and full sun of the merchants area. A lot of good displays of bikes factory models and custom ones too. Our meanderings took us in the slightly wrong direction to get out to the car. We were looking for the alternative tunnel which we knew wasn't far from where we had parked. Footsore and weary we made it. Back towards the motel, maybe get some dinner on the way.

No options for dinner presented by the time we were back at the motel. We unpacked the technology for recharging. To our horror we realized that we had left the adapter plug in our motel room in Cincinnati. Our electric gear was useless once the batteries wore down. The helpful desk clerk in our accommodation sent us to Radio Shack about 15 minutes away. Jack and Linda decided to come along for the ride and to pick up some dinner, too.

Radio Shack people were very helpful, but sadly didn't have the plug we needed. So we headed for the International Airport to try our luck. About 30 minutes later we had success. Paid a gosh awful price, but at least we were now able to charge up all of our equipment.

Dinner was at Arby's which do burgers and sliced meat sandwiches and salad. Pretty good food all round.

On the run back into town, Jack spotted an old bike in the window of the Yamaha shop. A quick U turn and we were sticky noses pressed up looking at a beautiful red Indian and a square four Ariel and sidecar. A place to go back to when the shop is open.

Tonight we sleep to the sound of motorcycles outside our window. Tomorrow, more MotoGP.
Another on the List

Made it here

Me too

This is a wide one - click to see it in full
First close look at a 2012

Something for Deb

And one for Kath

ZX14 and a paint brush