Saturday, 7 August 2010

Premeditated Meeting

Lincoln is 280 miles from Wichita in Kansas.

A long way to ride a 200cc scooter.

Especially without a tachometer.

But that is exactly what Jim, who writes the blog “Premeditated Scootin'” did on Thursday to come and have a premeditated meeting with me in Lincoln. Wow – he rode 280 miles on his scooter. We met in the afternoon and sat chatting for a while before (what else!) going for a ride on our bikes together.

I didn’t know Lincoln at all and Jim had been there just once before, so we hatched a plan of what to see and we set off. Here is Jim on his trusty steed....


























The plan failed straight away as our visit to the Speed Museum was thwarted as it was closed. They only do tours and only at 2pm. Plan number 2 saw us riding to the Nebraska State Capitol Building which is inscribed by an honourable motto “Political Society Exists For The Sake Of Noble Living”. Well, I wonder how many of my readers might believe that applies today? Certainly not back in the UK! The building however was magnificent....


























There is of course a statue of President Lincoln nearby, after whom I assume the city is named....


























Opposite the Capitol building was a small church, that I thought looked German or Austrian in its style. Jim and I ventured inside to see if we could find out more about its origins, but that didn’t assist, so we decided it would be best to Google it later. I didn’t used to like the verb “to Google” but it is growing on me as you hear it more and more....


























We parked the bikes near the Nebraska University and took a walk around the campus. This water feature looked cool and inviting, but it wasn’t – the water was warm....


























The campus had a good feeling....


























This is a stunning fraternity building. Jim told me a fraternity building is like a house that a small number of students live in and that these are normally more expensive than regular dorms and that such houses are meant to encourage an environment where students make friends for life. My only previous experience of fraternity houses was from watching the movie “Animal House” (one of my favourites!). The fraternity houses in Lincoln were right next to the main university buildings. I would have enjoyed living in this building....




















Here is another....




















I liked this shadow which was being made from a parking meter. It reminded me of a certain Mr M. Mouse!....


























We ate in a restaurant that specialises in noodles. Part way through the meal we remembered that Bobscoot likes taking pictures of food, so we took these pictures just for him....







































Jim posed amongst some street art...




















We rode to Holmes Park and our bikes got to know each other....




















I noticed something odd on Jim’s bike....




















The logo makes it seem this could be a small Harley-Davidson!....




















We then rode across the city to Pioneers Park that Jim could remember from his previous visit. Here is one of the statues in one of the entrances. There were buffalo in the park, but too far away to see well....




















What we did see was two spectacular cars being photographed by their owners. I joined in....







































The light coloured car is a Chevy Impala. Nice!

We then saw something odd. A plane flew over....




















If you look closely you might recognise the plane....


















It seemed to be on some sort of training flight as it repeatedly circled and did a “touch and go” landing at the airport, or at least many “fly arounds”. I captured one of its approaches on my P&S camera....



It looks like the end of the road for our bikes....




















After we returned to the hotel we parked the bikes and went for a beer in a huge bar where we were the only customers! I had a really great time meeting and spending time with Jim. He is really good company and I am really grateful he spent a lot of time riding all that way to meet me. Jim, you are a real star and I hope you got back safely.

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The next both Jim and I had long rides ahead of us, so we grabbed a quick breakfast, took a few photos and said our goodbyes. Here is Jim with his bike packed up, ready to go....













































My ride for the day took me across Nebraska from Lincoln to Hyannis, which is 317 miles of mainly straight roads, or two roads to be more accurate. I did smile as I was on my gps / sat nav the instruction to turn left in 211 miles!

I had heard that Nebraska is not the most interesting state and I can see why people say this, but it is not as bad as people make out – ok, there are not many towns along the road, but I was surprised by the beauty of the ride – I certainly didn’t expect the sand hills that make the landscape interesting and it was good to see grass and cattle instead of corn! I am certainly glad that I chose to ride through Nebraska.

I crossed the Platte River soon into my ride....




















I saw a great many trains travelling east alongside the road as I went to the west. These trains ran about every 15 minutes and were carrying coal. I found out later that the coal is mined in Wyoming but I am not sure where. What I do know is these trains are vast – there were some stationary trains and I was able to measure their length with my trip counter. Most were 1.4 miles long and one was 1.7 miles. I cannot begin to imagine what all of this coal is used for. I played a silly game with the train drivers as I rode along. I tried to get them to blow their train whistles (horns?) by waving at them – most obliged which in my own silly way, I was quite pleased with! In the bar that evening I asked some locals about the trains and was told that at peak, there is a train every 7 minutes! Wow.







































However, the train whistles became something of a curse, as I tried to sleep in the hotel in Hyannis. As the trains went passed the hotel they blew those whistles as a warning to anyone on the nearby railroad crossing that they were approaching. This happened about every 15 minutes all night and I am typing this at 4.30 in the morning because I cannot sleep due to the trains! 15 minutes is just enough to fall asleep to then be woken again by the next train.

Watch this and you will see what I mean....It was filmed at 4.30 in the morning, so it is meant to be a little dark....



For some reason, when I told Jackie my wife about the trains this morning, she couldn’t stop laughing! Now there’s sympathy for you!

This is a typical scene on the road through Nebraska. Very straight with the sand hills to the side....




















I passed another milestone as I crossed another time zone. I am now on Mountain Time!

18 comments:

Rosemary Crawford said...

Been there, done that - as to trains. When we were traveling in our RV one fall, we soon learned to look on the map for RR tracks and try to avoid roads adjacent to them. Very hard to do as most RV parks are located right next to a track, and most tracks support trains every 15 minutes, night and day. :(

Geoff James said...

The Frat Houses are certainly luxurious Gary... most of the accommodation I had as a student should have been condemned long ago as health hazards!

No sign of missile silos in Nebraska so far?

Doug said...

Gary, I see your route is to take you through Flagstaff, AZ. Beware when choosing your hotel there, Flagstaff is famous for it's noisy trains near the motels/hotels!

Milwaukee Dan said...

I used to live in an apartment next to train tracks, believe me you do get used to it after some time... but every 15 minutes is too much.

Keep on riding!

SonjaM said...

Great effort of Jim and Max to meet up with you and the Leading ladies.
As for the trains, believe it or not, one gets indeed used to it (took me a few months of sleep deprived nights though...) Keep on rolling!

682202 said...

Gary,

You were lucky the trains only came every 15 mins. Almost half to the coal burned in the US comes from Wyoming and if it moves east it moves trough Nebraska. The area the coal comes from is called the Powder River Basin. My self I love the sound of a locomotive pulling a load, but I certainly understand that it would get very old very quickly when it is right across the street. In more up scale urban or suburban areas they ban train whistles, typically the crossings are protected by automatic gates, but in rural areas the whistle is ever present. Doug is correct about Flagstaff those trains move 1000's of containers of Asian made goods east. The trains may give you a fitful nights sleep, but think of all the trucks that would be fighting for space on the roads.

Nebraska as with Kansas if you travel it via the Interstate Highway it will be vary boring and mind-numbing, but stray just a little away, slow the pace some and it has a beauty all of its own.

Travel safe.

securityfactory said...

This is a followup on the Ohio Marblehead Lighthouse incident. For those of you who have just joined the trip you should read about it at
http://garysusatour.blogspot.com/2010/07/mixed-day.html

Several readers sent protest letters to the marblebrains at the site. Gary asked that we stop sending complaints, so instead I sent this letter "commending" their behavior.

Dear Marblehead Lighthouse Crew,

Today I read a complaint by a guy from Europe riding a motorcycle across the US. His big gripe seemed to be that he couldn't get in to see your exhibits after you closed for the day, even though he claims he was within a minute of the posted closing time. Well, if your rules say close the doors at closing time why should he have any claim to enjoy the view?
It sure seems unreasonable that someone from Europe should come tromping into your facility and demand that you spend and extra minute of your personal time. After all, if he had already spent 3000 miles on a plane and 4500 miles on a motorcycle over a month as he claims, another 18 hour wait to get in to your shop shouldn't be that much of a burden for him.
So see to it that your gatekeepers get letters of commendation for delaying his visit until he can get his act together to fit your schedule. If he can't make it later it is OK. We really don't too many people traipsing around in our tourist attract!ons.

Ri...
R!chland, WI
-----------------
I got a response from the lighthouse clock keepers and I showed it to Gary when we met in Milwaukee. He said I could post it as a comment on this blog. I decided to wait until he got into "boring" Nebraska so I shall do so in the next note.

R!ch

securityfactory said...

So this is the response from the Marblehead folks. I read it with laughter thru tears. Sometimes I think my subtlety is wasted on gummint workers.
---------------------------------

THANK YOU. You have no idea how much your comment means to us and the staff at the Lighthouse. Every day, especially in July they are turning people away at closing time because it is completely bombarded with people. If they didn't set a strict timeframe for closing tours we would have more people upset because we weren't doing the same for everyone. At the time Mr. France got to the door the last tour had already been sent up. It was a full group and they could not send any more people due to safety/maximum capacity rules. The employee said folks from the last tour were already coming down the stairs and the stairs only allow one way because it's narrow in there. The employee disputes that he was there within one minute of the end of tours but that is really besides the point. I spent all day Friday responding to complaints and being cussed at by Mr. France and his friends over email.... as I was trying to explain our side as far as how busy the Lighthouse gets, how demanding people are and how we have to keep the same strict times everyday regardless of where the visitor is from. They couldn't understand it at all and felt we owed the visitor a public apology....?? The employee said the same day she turned away Mr. France she also turned away dozens of other people and that happens everyday. It certainly was nothing personal toward Mr. France. I tried to explain that to him and his friends.

Sometimes we lose faith in the American public because we are constantly dealing with people who feel some sort of entitlement beyond the rules. It gets very upsetting. Your email this morning has been forwarded to the Park Manager and the employee at the Lighthouse. You have no idea how much it means to hear a comment on this side. It helps us believe there are still some reasonable people. So often we are dealing with unreasonable people....

Thanks again very much...
Debbie Paul
East Harbor
----------------------

It sort of pains me to think there might be some "servant" out there with a gold star on his sleeve because they appreciate my letter so much. So it goes.

Axel said...

Sorry, but I also couldn’t stop laughing watching the night train video… :) what a noise
... and the answer from the Gulag wardens, brilliant. Entitlement beyond the rules? NIET :)

Axel said...

Me again. Having liked the 1997 movie with Harrison Ford and impressed by your sighting of "Air Force One", I wanted to read more background on the plane, and it turns out your pic is not Air Force One, or one of the 2 customized Boeing 747-200B using the call sign when Obama is on board, as they have a distinctive blue front top and tail design. More here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Force_One . Sorry...

Axel said...

I like to "google" :), but "your small church looking German or Austrian in its style" quickly leads to a dead end. Its the St. Mary's Catholic Church, here their website: http://stmarylincoln.org/main.html. The call it "The Old Cathedral", associated with a school. From your picture (and Google street view) it looks quite new, to me it feels more "Disneyland" then "German", a replica?

bluekat said...

Love all the buildings and architecture. Good catch on the Mickey Mouse parking meter. :)

They say you get used to the trains if you live next to a track. We camped in a canyon where a track ran through. It sounded like the train was coming right through the tent. There were several each night. It was kind of cool, except for the lost sleep.

biker baby said...

We get to hear the trains all day and night. We have tracks just across the street, I'm guessing about 100 feet. You get to the point that you sleep through it.

Gary France said...

Rosemary – I will take your advice and use it when looking at hotels to make sure there are no RR tracks nearby!

Geoff – I couldn’t believe the quality of the buildings!

Doug – I will certainly be careful now that you have mentioned it!

Dan – I used to live near train tracks and I got used to the sound of the trains, but the whistles were new to me!

Sonja – It was a tremendous effort. A few months! – I only had to endure one night!

GAW – Thanks, I was wondering where the coal was mined. I will be more careful in Flagstaff. I don’t use the interstates unless I really have no choice. Since the start of my tour I think I have done no more than about 100 miles on them, which out of over 7000 miles now, is pretty good. I totally agree about the beauty of Nebraska.

Security Factory, aka R!ch – that is sooo funny. They just didn’t get the sarcasm of your letter. It made me laugh when she said I had cussed at her by e-mail because I did nothing of the sort! Hmmm, maybe I should sue for libel.... !

Axel – It is ok about laughing! Shame it wasn’t the real plane – I was convinced it was as it says United States of America down the side in the same way as AF1. Never mind! Disney or a replica – LOL!

Bluekat – This wasn’t cool – it was downright annoying. A little like having an alarm clock go off every 15 minutes! I was impressed with the ‘feeling’ of the college.

BB – You must be able to sleep anywhere now!

Chris Luhman said...

Good to see we're not the only ones sick of corn fields! Sorry, but I had to laugh about the trains. I learned that lesson last year trying to camp to close to the mississippi river. The trains run on both sides... and their horns echo off the bluffs.

Gary France said...

I have seen enough corn fields for a few weeks now! Its ok about laughing at the trains - looking back on it now it is even funny to me!

Max Piedra said...

It was so great of Jim and Max to make those long rides just to go down and meet you, especially Jim and his scooter! That couldn’t have been easy! Still, what an awesome way for you to become more acquainted with the US than on a bike with a fellow biker friend! I’m sorry to hear about the troubles with the museum though! Hopefully things have been sorted out since then, and you’ve actually been able to go and check it out.

Gary France said...

Max - You are absolutely right, it was fantastic that Jim did that ride to meet up with me. What a star he was.