I think it was early June 2013 when Kenny and I hatched a plan to tour the US with the purpose of taking Lou to one of the places in this world where she was always truly happy, Disneyland.  It started small with Kenny offering to accompany me while I came over to the US, but our ever adventurous minds soon blew it out of all proportions and we ended up with a map on a wall showing our proposed route and it taking 10 weeks to complete. The route taken was not too far off this, there were some detours, and I will post an updated map when i get home.

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Planning got underway and it turned out being a much larger undertaking than I had ever imagined. Kenny and I both knew that he would not be able to make the entire trip with me due to commitments at home (Kenny and Tam only just had their daughter Poppy come into their lives in February), but we made the decision to keep this information to ourselves so as to not stress anyone before we left that I was going to be doing a large portion of this trip alone (sorry to Dad, Mum and Maggie, I know it surprised you when Kenny came home).

Knowing that I was going to be doing a lot of miles during this trip, I decided to take a warm up trip back in late February just make sure I could stay self sufficient on the bike. The trip I signed up to was run by Compass Expeditions and was a tour around Tasmania, Victoria and NSW with Charley Boorman, Billy Ward and a rather motley crew I have since become great friends with. We still have a group email thread going 6 months since our trip and we are already planning our next together.

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Only 5 days after this trip was completed, our bikes we on a ship headed for the US coast, it was a very long 7 weeks of not having a bike to ride.

Jump forward to the start of May and it had come up to the anniversary of when Lou was admitted to the Royal Women’s in Melbourne. The 1st of May. Maggie and I once again shared the journey Lou took through her short illness, it does not get any easier, but we wanted everyone one who has been supporting our fundraising efforts to know of the fight that Lou put up and how strong of a woman that she was. There were so many people supporting our cause now that never  knew Lou personally we felt that this would help in raising further awareness.

On the 9th May, Kenny and I flew out, it had been a sleepless night for us both, but we were both excited for the journey ahead.

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We landed in the US and still had to wait a few days to be able to get our bikes due to a hold up with US Customs. We had planned to start our ride on the 1st anniversary of Lou’s death, the 13th May. This ended up being the day that we were able to pick up the bikes, and so after a couple of small hiccups, we were on our way on the 14th May, starting our journey around the US.

As we made our way across the US we saw many amazing sights, the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, riding Route 66. But often it was the smaller and little know sights that caught our imagination (The Worlds Smallest Skyscraper).

We stopped by in Oklahoma to catch up with Gary McKnight. Gary had come out to Australia to complete the trip with Compass Expeditions and when he had found out I was coming to the US he had insisted that I drop in to visit. We did just that and had a wonderful time with Gary, meeting friends and enjoying great food and drink at Pete’s Place in Kreb’s, Oklahoma, a local craft brewery that I would highly recommend.

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We left Gary and continued our way around to Florida. We finally made it to Florida Disneyland. Lou and I had always wanted to visit every Disneyland, Florida and Tokyo were the only two that we did not make it too. So as part of fulfilling Lou’s dream, she has now permanently become part of Disneyland, joining Mickey and Walt in looking over the Disney Castle and with a fireworks show every night to keep her entertained.

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A few days later it was time for Kenny to head home. He flew out of Miami while his bike was shipped back to the LA Warehouse to await my arrival when I completed the rest of my trip. Thanks for everything over the past year mate, you support has been wonderful even with the multiple challenges we have both faced.

With Kenny now on his way home I hit the road for the first time alone. Having fulfilled Lou’s dream, this trip for me now became a trip of reflection and rediscovery. Time on the bike meant time to think about everything from the past year. Time to work out where I was headed now that life was so dramatically changed. Lou will always be part of my life and before she passed away, she told me to enjoy myself and do whatever I needed to make me happy. So I am now starting to work out where that path is leading.

Back to the trip and I headed up the east coast, once again seeing many of the major must see sights but it was once again the smaller sights like Mark Twain’s house and the natural beauty of the landscapes around me the I really enjoyed seeing. Part of the US that are not usually on the radar of tourists.

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Crossing into Canada I got to spend time with Lou’s cousins who Live in Barrie, Ontario. My time in Canada ended up being a mini holiday in the middle of my trip away. I stayed with Caroline and Eddie and was able to relax with fishing trips, sailing and quite an amount of beer.

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While in town I was due to have my rear tyre replaced which was done with the assistance of Caroline’s dad, Ivan and I was then ready for the road again. They day before I left Barrie, I also had the chance to catch up with a school friend who I had not seen in 18 years. Reality had come out to Australia during my final years in school and it was wonderful to catch up again, still plenty to talk about even after all these years.

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Before I left Canada, I did have another stop to make. My dear friend Helen Stephens who I went to Uni with, met Liz a couple of years ago when she visited the US. Liz is a radio presenter for Heart FM in Woodstock, Ontario. So I dropped by to see Liz who kindly promoted my ride to help further with our efforts in raising awareness for Ovarian Cancer.

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I eventually had to leave Canada, but I will be back in the future. I crossed the border at Niagara Falls. But before crossing I felt this was another place that Lou would have loved to have been to, so I put some of Lou’s ashes into the river above the falls allowing her to take the ride over. She always did love her thrill rides!!

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Re-entering the US I continued to stick to all the back-roads and small town America, it is much more interesting that sitting on the interstate freeways and I continued finding hidden little gems along the way. The town of Bradford threw up the completely unexpected but ultimately extremely fascinating Zippo factory and museum. Another must see that is that is not on the list of regular tourist destinations.

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I had Indianapolis on my list of must visit places for two reasons. The first was to visit a good family friend, Benny Ko. Benny’s history with Lou’s family goes back many many years, but I finally got to meet Benny when Lou and I traveled to Hong Kong in 2011. Benny grew up in HK, so he met us there and took us around as locals, so it was amazing to see the real HK.

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The second reason for me going to Indianapolis was to tick of a motor-racing icon off my bucket list. The Indianapolis Speedway. I have been a motor racing fan for as long as I can remember and it was a dream of mine to one day stand on the yard of bricks that forms the start/finish line.

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The other unexpected part of stopping with Benny was the invite to stay a couple of extra days with him and spend July 4th with friends. It was a fantastic night and something I will never forget.

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Leaving Benny and Vicky behind I started heading west again. While continuing to dodge the weather I definitely saw the aftermath of the storms that had ravaged the northern states. Flooding was a big issue with a number of towns being inundated and be having to take quite a large detour to be able to cross one of the rivers, but with knowledge from the locals I was able to make it across and continue onto my destination.

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My travels west continued and I was well into the groove of solo travel. Talking to so many people along the way, traveling by bike is the ultimate conversation starter. Everyone wants to know where you have come from, where you are going, so I would let them know all of that as well as the why I was completing the trip. I am sure many more people are now following our efforts than when we started.

More national icons were visited, Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, the Rockies. I have seen so many things, probably more than I will remember, but the feelings that it evoked in me, the feeling of knowing who i am and the path I traveled to get there have become part of me. It was the times when I was completely alone that I really felt I had found me.

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I finally reached the west coast again when I reached San Francisco. Meeting up with old friends and being introduced to new, I had a wonderful night out with Bradford, Carina, Sean and D’Angelo, stuffing ourselves with garlic cuisine.

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The final leg down the west coast was pretty magical with some of the best roads I found and seeing the giant sequoia trees. I have finally made back into LA, my bike gets reunited with Kenny’s tomorrow for the trip home, while I will be hopping on a flight home. Thanks to everyone for following my travels. Some more of Lou’s dreams have been fulfilled and Lou’s fund is now a worldwide effort. Let the awareness and fundraising continue. See you all again soon which ever side of the world you are on.

Terry.

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Posted by: Terry | July 22, 2014

Day 73 – Palmdale to Los Angeles – 185 kms

Last full day on the road today. It was been quite a journey and today I was going to be ending it on a high. I had picked a seldom used route to make my way into LA, the Angeles Crest Highway. This highway cuts through the mountains north of of Los Angeles and is a wonderful road for scenic views with many outlooks.

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The weather was just perfect again. In the 10 weeks I have been on the road, there has only be 1 day here I got off the bike having to dry all my gear and that was when I left New York. Every other day I have been spared from the rain.

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The views just kept getting better all the way along.

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The road threw up a few surprises as well. Came around a bend and found this ahead of me.

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For my motorcycle riding friends, as you can see from the next picture, I keep adding roads onto you bucket lists to ride. You can see the road cutting along the side of the mountain.

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It really made for the perfect last day on the road being able to experience such a wonderful road and scenery. Lou traveled the entire trip with me.

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I finally saw LA in the distance as I came down from the mountains.

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With the trip complete I have completed 21,834kms (13567 miles) in 10 weeks. Saw some amazing sights, caught up with old friends and made quite a few more. Final update for the trip in a couple of days.

 

Posted by: Terry | July 20, 2014

Day 71 – Bakersfield to Palmdale – 155km

My trip around the US is coming to an end. Today was essentially my second last day of riding. I am having a day off tomorrow just to get stuff sorted out before I head into LA on Monday. Today was just a short ride down from Bakersfield through the mountains before crossing the open plains of Southern California coming down Palmdale. There was still some very interesting sights to see. Coming through the mountains, the train line followed along by the road, I noticed a train off to my right that appeared to be circling a hill, it was then I noticed that the line actually looped all the way around this hill. I have since found out that this section of track is known as the Tehachapi Loop. On the loop, the track passes over itself, lessening the grade. The loop gains 77 feet (23 m) in elevation as the track climbs at a steady 2% grade. A train more than 4,000 feet (1,200 m) long thus passes over itself going around the loop. At the bottom of the loop, the track passes through Tunnel 9, the ninth tunnel built as the railroad worked from Bakersfield.

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Once I left the mountains I came across the most densely packed wind-farm I had seen so far

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The last 10 weeks have been an unforgettable experience and I cannot thank everyone enough for the support you have shown and also continue to give in raising awareness for Ovarian Cancer and for raising funds towards the Lou Quinn Ovarian Cancer Fund.

Thanks to Kenny for joining me during the first 3 weeks and for being there when I took Lou to Florida Disneyland. Thanks to Lou’s family in Canada for putting me up while I was in town, I will definitely be back, might try winter next time. Thanks also to Benny and Vicky for hosting me while in Indianapolis, 4th July was an awesome time to be with friends.

There will be two more updates before I come home, so please don’t change the channel just yet.

 

 

 

Map Link

Today was purely a day of sight-seeing and riding some great roads. I got away early and started making my way towards the Sequoia National Forest. It was my aim today to see one of the massive Sequoia trees. I could see the mountain range ahead of me as I crossed the plains and through the various fruit groves.

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The gap in the middle of the range was where I was headed I thought this was a good time to turn on my helmet camera, I had a feeling I would be riding through some pretty magic areas.

I wasn’t wrong, I rode through the valley with the river flowing beside me all the way. Yet to see much in the way of trees, I was still in amazement of my surroundings.

I eventually came upon a dam that was feeding the river. California is definitely low on water at the moment. Still quite a sight though.

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Further along the valley I traveled and some green was starting to show. Small shrubs we now growing along the riverbank.

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And there was even some wildlife hiding in the growth.

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Riding further along, there were quite a few other riders out, also more wildlife, just after I go past the other bikers in the next video, you will see a chipmunk run across the road in front of me.

I finally got into the forest proper and the trees around me we just getting bigger and the smell of the pines was almost intoxicating. I soon came across what I had been looking for though. Massive Trees!!!

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To get some better scale for size, I managed to find someone to take a photo for me.

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After leaving the trees, I came across a little place for lunch. The town of Ponderosa is not overly large with a population of 16. But they do have a great little bar and restaurant. Beer is served in jars and the bar is decked out in all sorts of paraphernalia.

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Once lunch was done I headed down the road and found a road equal with the Rockies, but with a lot less traffic. This loop through the mountains is definitely another ride that should be added to a list of places to ride.

Another amazing day.

Posted by: Terry | July 18, 2014

Day 69 – San Simeon to Bakersfield – 245kms

Started today with a walk along the beach, beautiful day.

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After my walk and some breakfast, I got on the road. I made the decision last night to head back inland, how could I beat the coastal ride I enjoyed yesterday. I also have an ulterior motive that will become apparent tomorrow. Today still threw up some surprises though. Only 20 minutes from leaving I came across a wonderful view looking out across the hills I had just come up and looking out to the ocean. The ocean is a little hard to see in the photos with the haze in the air, but it was definitely worth it.

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As i descended from these hills I came out onto  a large expanse of open plains. Looking into the distance, for a start i thought the heat was causing mirages into the distance where everything looked like water, but I was mistaken when I got closer. There was a massive solar area covering most of the plains all around me.

I eventually came across a sign, California Valley Solar Ranch. The project is constructed on 1,966 acres (796 ha) of a 4,365-acre (1,766 ha) site of former grazing land. It is utilizing high-efficiency, crystalline PV panels designed and manufactured by SunPower. The project includes up to 88,000 SunPower solar tracking devices to hold PV panels that will track the sun across the sky.

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Leaving the plains there was a second mountain range to cross for the day before heading across more plains into Bakersfield. Once again the views were really quite breathtaking.

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Once into Bakersfield it was time to get undercover for the day, it was pushing 38c today. Will be getting on the road tomorrow early to beat the heat. Here for another night though, doing a day trip tomorrow.

Posted by: Terry | July 17, 2014

Day 68 – Monterey to San Simeon – 150kms

Today was one of the shortest days of the trip so far for distance, but by the time I hopped of the bike today I had been out on the road for 6 hours. So much to see and enjoy along this stretch of road.

The day started with promise, the view ahead of me was giving hints of what was ahead.

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Early on I was given a treat by the expanse of ocean to my right. I spotted a couple of whales a couple of hundred meters off shore.

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Not much further down the road from where the whales were playing I found a restaurant that seemed like a pretty good place to stop for lunch. It had amazing views to enjoy as well.

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Also just out from the restaurant were a few fishing boats and some more whales made an appearance. Plenty to see while my lunch was being prepared.

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My lunch soon arrived though. I started with a creamy cauliflower soup for entree. For mains I had seared scollops with asparugus and fava beans and finished off with a nice chianti.

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Once I had finished of my lunch with a coffee, I hit the road again, but I only made it a couple of minutes down the road before I came across one of the main attractions/sights along the pacific coast highway, the Bixby Bridge. At its completion, the bridge was built under budget for $199,861 and was the longest concrete arch span at 320 feet (98 m) on the California State Highway System. It is one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world.

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The view of the bridge and the coast was pretty damn good from a bit further up the road too.

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The road kept throwing up more surprises along the way.

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Along the way I had a few more whale watching opportunities, but the next highlight was being able to get up close with Elephant Seals.

There was a large number of them all laying about on one of the beaches along the way.

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An amazing day again. And for all of my friends who consider the Great Ocean Road as an amazing ride, I am sorry, but this road in my opinion is better. You will all have to get over here and ride it soon.

 

 

Posted by: Terry | July 16, 2014

Days 66-67 – San Francisco to Monterey – 191kms

Yesterday I just had a quiet day having a look around San Francisco. Nothing too exciting. Was still rather tired so took it easy.

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I woke this morning wanting to get on the road early so that I could get down to Monterey to visit their Aquarium. Bradford and Carina who I caught up with a couple fo days ago visited it and it looked amazing. I had to see it myself. Setting off from San Francisco this morning it was very foggy. Much of the coastline was shrouded.

 

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In making it to the coastline today, I have now successfully completed the east to west of the US.

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As I started making my way down the coastline it was very closely resembling the Great Ocean Road at home. I then had a big case of homesickness hit me as I reached a section of road surround by gum trees. Was amazing to ride through, the smell of the eucalyptus really got to me.

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The coastline kept changing all the way along through which kept it interesting. So many different landscapes.

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I eventually got to a little town call Moss Landing. They had a store/museum that caught my attention. Eagle Iron and Leather. Very cool place that sells a lot of motorcycle accessories.

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Upon making it into Monterey, I checked into the hotel and then headed on my way down to the Aquarium. I definitely was not disappointed.

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It really is a fantastic aquarium I would recommend visiting.

Another day along the coast tomorrow. Looking forward to what it brings.

 

Posted by: Terry | July 15, 2014

Day 65 – Reno to San Francisco – 427 kms

Another beautiful morning. I really have been blessed with the weather throughout my trip.

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Leaving Reno, I crosded the Californian border. After a little over 8 weeks I have made it back into the state in which I started this adventure. Riding through the mountains could not have been a better way to start the last portion of this trip.

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Coming out of the mountains I had to follow the interstate for a little while getting past Sacramento, but I soon hit the back roads again.

I was headed towards the Napa Valley, the winery region of California. More hills and winding roads, then I came across an area that had wildfire go through.

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But what was really amazing was on the other side of the road was a beautiful river with the bluest water.

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I eventually came across a dam that was feeding this river. I was also just as beautiful.

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I made it down into the Napa Valley and it was a really nice place to be, rural area, relaxed atmosphere, but what really set it off for me was the experience created by the surrounds of the roads.

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Coming into San Francisco, I had decided before I even began the trip that I would be crossing the Golden Gate Bridge as my preferred route.

It was such an amazing sight, at the time that I reached the bridge, half if it was shrouded in fog. It was also quite cool, after the heat of the desert form the past few days, I was actually glad to be rugged up in riding gear rather than freezing in shorts and tshirts like most other people around me.

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I made my way to the hotel to get checked in and cleaned up. I was due to go out for dinner with friends who were also in San Francisco. Bradford and Carina have been friends of Lou’s and mine for over 10 years. A few years ago they moved away to New Zealand due to work, but we have always kept in touch. When we realised we were going to be in San Francisco around the same time we had discussed the possibility of catching up. I was not due into SF for one more day, but when I found out Bradford and Carina were leaving the same day I arrived, I pushed things forward and made it here 1 day early.

We headed out for some pre dinner drinks at Rogue Ales before heading out to a restaurant called The Stinking Rose. The Stinking Rose is a garlic based restaurant. We had the most amazing fare which included dessert of Garlic Icecream, which sounds interesting, but it was absolutely delicious.

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Had a wonderful night. Was absolutely exhausted from the day.

 

 

Posted by: Terry | July 13, 2014

Day 64 – Wendover to Reno – 727kms

Today I had no option but to have a big day in the saddle, there are very few accommodation options in the Nevada desert. I hit the road early as today was going to be long for a couple of reasons, I was doing over 700kms today and I was also traveling on the road known as “The Loneliest Road in America”. The view from the outset was amazing. The vastness of the Nevada desert was mind-blowing.

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Life Magazine is said to have ran a very negative article about Nevada State Highway 50 titled “The Loneliest Road.” An AAA spokesperson had described Nevada State Highway 50 route through Nevada in these words: “It’s totally empty. There are no points of interest. We don’t recommend it. We warn all motorists not to drive there unless they’re confident of their survival skills.”

Nevada tourism officials were quick to agree that while Highway 50 did not have traditional tourism related stopping places like amusement parks, “The Loneliest Road” has many little-known and unique items of interest. In addition, most of these places along the Loneliest Road were free for the tourist to see.

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The colours of the surrounding landscape were also something to behold, photos really do not do them justice.

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I eventually stopped at a little town for lunch. The town kind of make me feel at home. Eureka

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After lunch the view continued. Traffic was seldom all day with other vehicles being seen only every 10 to 15 minutes or so. And with towns being 200+ kms apart, it definitely lived up the the title of the loneliest road.

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The other item that I saw a lot of today were dust devils. They were all over, luckily none of them came close to me.

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Part of crossing Nevada though was not just flat plains, there were quite a few mountain ranges to cross with passes cut through them.

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I eventually came across a sign pointing towards an earthquake fault line that was exposed back in 1954. The site was about 10km of the main road, and was only accessible via a track that was really only suitable for off-road vehicles. Luckily I happened to be off-road capable.

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The other benefit from visiting this site was the views.

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Leaving the fault line I was now headed towards Reno, my sop for the night, but I came around one of the few bends in the road I had done today and I found myself in proper desert, sand dunes and all. It really blew me away.

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It ended up being another amazing day of riding albeit a very hot one with temps topping out at 38c during the day. Lots of water today. Lots of rest tonight.

 

Posted by: Terry | July 12, 2014

Day 63 – Grand Junction to Wendover – 647kms

No choice today but to stick to the highways. There are not many ways through the Utah desert. Riding out of Grand Junction this morning though and I was amazed by the change of landscape from the mountains yesterday. Even though I was still on their fringe, it was a different environment, different climate, it was like a different world.

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The countryside really opened up though as I crossed from Colorado into Utah.

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I little way into Utah I decided to stop at a little roadside area where there was a lookout. While I was there a couple pulled up and as soon as they got out of the car, they walked over. He owned the exact same bike so was wondering how mine was going, he had only had his a few months. When I told him I have been here 8 weeks and covered over 11000 miles, he was impressed and pleased with his purchase. After chatting for a good 20 min, I finally made it up to the look out. The view was impressive.

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The views along the way were getting more impressive as the day went on. I was wrong about the Utah desert being a ride I had been dreading a little, especially after yesterday.

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I finally made it to a town called Green River where I was due for fuel and a bite for lunch. It was here that I also got to leave the interstate and get back onto the more regional roads. This bought a whole new adventure. It started with getting to ride through some magnificent canyon roads.

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As you can see from the last photo, there were some darker clouds starting to come across as I came through the canyon. Due to the height of the walls around me I could not see into the distance so I thought it would be good to hightail it out of there just in case. I was right when i finally decided to stop and have a look behind me.

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I decided to watch the storm go across as I was well clear of it by then and I was then rewarded to a little show. Lou was definitely taking care of me once again.

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I soon got underway again to make my way into Salt Lake City. I never knew that Salt Lake was surrounded my so many mountains, being an area known for it’s “Salt Lake” I always assumed it was in a fairly flat desolate area. I was once again proved wrong. Riding though a huge mountain pass before making way down the mountains into the city.

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Making it down into the city, the view of the lake was impressive. It is so vast that the horizon of the lake cannot be seen as it melts into the sky.

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My final destination for the day was still another hour and a bit away though. I was heading to a small town called Wendover. On the outskirts of Wendover is another motor racing Mecca that I had to visit while in the US. The Bonneville Speedway. These are the salt flats where many land speed records have been set over the years. In 1967, New Zealander Burt Munro set the Speed record for a motorcycle under 1000cc at 295.44 kph.

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I did not take my bike out onto the salt as I did not want to have to wash it all down afterwards to prevent corrosion. But I did go for a walk on the flats. There were quite a few out on the raceways as well doing their thing.

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It was another amazing day with many unexpected experiences. Another exciting adventure beckons tomorrow.

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