BILLY'S TRIP TO INDIANA, SEATTLE, CANADA
Ann goes back to work in Nanjing and Billy takes off across the US on his Honda GoldWing motorcycle to visit family and friends.
23 August 2010
Hi All from Billy during his summer excursion
(You better get comfy, cause this letter grew more than I thought it would)
Thought I'd give you all an update on my travels this summer since being on the road. This is not the entire summer happenings. Ann and I spent a rather quick month back from China traveling on our motorcycle, being with the Long Island Clan, and replacing the back deck of her parents house. She is back at school in Nanjing, busily getting another school year started. I'll be joining her in mid September.
On the Honda Goldwing: August 4th
Left Long Island and went to stay one night with my brother in the Milford area of New York. I had also previously left my favorite long sleeve shirt at their house. They were leaving the next day for their annual summer trip to an island off the coast of Maine and their 'just graduated from high school' daughter, Jane, was heading directly after that to go to Peru for a year on an exchange program.
Drove the next day to Warren Pa and stayed at a campground in the Allegheny National Forest. Beautiful drive , dodged a bit of rain on the way there, stopped under an overpass to put my rain suit on and then I really looked like a giant yellow bumblebee - the rain suit is black with yellow, reflective safety patches. One hour later the rain stopped and great riding after that. Set up camp noticing that the ground was freshly wet, but the sky was open. But not for long. Light rain turned to heavy rain, Ann remembers that the hiking tent we purchased was NOT water resistant, but I thought it was. Slowly the dripping inside the tent became more frequent. The seams of the tent seemed to funnel each drop onto my sleeping bag. And that was at 10 pm - it was a long, wet, soggy night and very glad to leave early (Everything dried later on my daughter's porch railing in Fort Wayne, Indiana)
Next day, off to Ohio. But the first part of the ride leaving the forest and heading to 'corn' land was just fabulous. I even had to stop and put on almost all the clothes I brought with me to keep the wind chill manageable. High 50's with patches of fog along a waterway. Did I say that this was a fantastic ride?
As the day progressed, it got hotter and hotter, slowly, and all the wind chill clothes went back in their cubbies. Roads got less curvy, sky got a bit bigger, and pretty soon my predictable ride consisted of leaving a signaled corner amongst corn fields, riding about 15 miles, and then again an intersection, stop sign, gas station, a few houses and a small school. 300 miles of this along a farm highway directly across Ohio. I avoided all the interstates on purpose, I wanted to see America's open smile, and it had lots of corn in its teeth.
I enjoyed the automatic seeking radio on the bike, used my iPod at times to sing along with the seed company signs along the roads advertising 'their' seed is better than 'those' seeds. Big business in corn seeds. Occasionally soy beans but mostly corn.
Had no intention of driving to Fort Wayne, Indiana that day since it was about 435 miles from my camp. But as the day progressed, and since I got a refreshing 5:30 am start, I was knocking down the highway markers quite quickly. Discovered that even in less crowded highways, you tend to concentrate a lot more than in driving a car. Top that off with limited movement sitting on a breeze filled seat, purring engine keeping your legs warm but not too hot, and you wonder how anyone can sit for 400+ miles; however, it happened. All the way across Ohio and into Indiana and pulled up at Elizabeth and Andy's house late afternoon. 93 degrees is hugely hot especially with the little water molecules close together as well, adding the 'breeze' of a motorcycle, I was frequently stopping and drinking all day. I think I laid on their floor a long time at the end of that day.
Then had several great days with Liz and Kate (this is the 2.5 year old that seems to have stolen the energy of the entire universe), went zooing, backyard pooling, shopping, playing with dolls, being a grand dad takes a lot of hard work. Andy was here and there as well but in addition to working for Raytheon he was sequestered in a small room upstairs that Kate was not permitted to enter. It's her future room and a surprise. She is giving up her room to her future brother, Zeke, who will be popping out sometime in November.
Took one day trip from Fort Wayne, to Pontiac, Illinois. Why? To drive a bit on Route 66. Again, I thought this was going to be a 2 day trip, but turned out to be another 400+ mile round trip. Found a great Route 66 Historic museum and took a walk down memory lane of the great 50's and 60's motoring adventures of the USA. US Highway 66 is called the Mother Road. It started in Chicago and ended in Santa Monica California. One town actually built a subway under the road because it was so busy at times. The museum had so many actual artifacts and memorabilia of those cars, services, maps, gas station pictures, car hops, and black and white checkerboard table clothes of the diners along the way. I had forgotten how much America smoked in those days and it was recalled by the numerous matchbooks that were on display, advertising the diners and motels of the great road.
Then took a plane to Seattle to visit West coast family.
(Found a great Honda dealer about 2 miles from their home, and arranged to have a major service done to the bike. It is still in their shop at the writing of this letter and I'll pick it up when I get back to Indiana.)
So, off to the airport in Fort Wayne and flew to Seattle where my son Jon lives. He is entering his senior year at Seattle Pacific University and is majoring in International Business. We got a great to pal around together and to enter into his life. He lives in the Fremont suburb area, on the North side of Seattle and it is really a great town. Such activity: bike lanes chocked full of bikes, runners, dog walkers, cars of the 60's and up, some very well preserved classics running around the streets, weekend street fairs with lots of things you don't need to take home either in your hands or stomach, organic this and that's all over the place, recycling awareness, kayaking on the waterway that connects Lake Union to the ocean via a 15 foot lock that raises and lowers each day many times to accommodate all the water traffic, a really cool bridge that opens in the center into 2 halves that lift up and away to allow the higher masted ships to pass, more joggers and bikes, lots of green, blue and white where earth meets sky. Needless to say, many people choose to live in Seattle for these very reasons - simply great.
Arriving at the airport I took the link rail to the Space Needle area. When you combine good weather and free passes to the top of the space needle on this certain Friday, you have a queue that didn't ever end. I just figured that the bands playing and all the festivities were to welcome me to Seattle and it was great. Downtown skyline was crystal clear.
While in Seattle, I took an Amtrak train down into Oregon (Albany area) to visit a friend from many years ago. Mike is currently managing a plant nursery, or trying his best. Fuel costs have risen, and decreased purchasing of larger plants and trees in this down economy has made his finances turn down and perhaps he will be onto another adventure soon.
The train I took to Oregon was bound for Los Angeles, a 2 day trip. My portion of the trip was only 5 1/2 hours. It had coach attendants, great roomy chairs, dining car, snack car, observation car, even a National Forest tour guide in the observation car who explained what we were watching as we rode along the coastline. The observation car had glass windows on the side and curved ones at the corner roofline so you could look up as well. I really enjoyed the narrative as the beautiful coastline and forests slipped by.
Came back on a commuter train, not adorned with all the bells and whistles needed for a 2 day overnight trip. OK but not like the other coaches.
Jon and I have just returned from Bellingham, Washington which is about 2 hours north of here on the way to Vancouver,British Columbia. This is where Sharon, my other daughter lives and it is where Jon will be storing much of his belongings including his car, while he is going to school in China this fall. Ann and I will visit him for certain while he is there. He will be near ChongQing, which has 30 million residents. His university exchange program will introduce him to businesses in china as well as take courses for graduation credit. Convertible ride picture included.
Bellingham is a great, little city with an older downtown housing section that reflects architecture of the 50's or so. It's new section is modern suburbia, malls, etc. Much downtown refurbishment and crowded with university students--3 or 4 to a 2 story house. Right on the water, it is a port to Alaskan voyages as well as whale watching in the San Juan islands. Again, cooler weather than when I arrived, 2 layers of clothing minimum.
Sharon had borrowed a large futon for my bed and it was great. I had a great time. She showed me all around the town, and took some time to show me MerchBot, the company where she worked recently. The company has this great, artistic, metal robot out front. The town has lots of unique art around the streets. I think my favorite was a wind sculpture that seemed to have the ability to turn in 360 degrees, pivot, and axes inside that moved as well. All by the gentle breeze.
Yesterday I ate at Sonic, a burger place that still has curb side service attended by roller skate car hops. Yes, I took several pictures and movies. Just like the good ole days! Except it looked a bit odd to see the shiny, SUV's and large pickup trucks; I remember smaller and the not so tall cars of yesterday. Modern, headset, roller skating car hop picture included.
So I conclude at this point, for in a few hours I will be taking a plane back to Fort Wayne, Indiana visiting family again and then resuming the summer ride at the end of the week. Going to take a northernly diversion from Indiana, up through Michigan, and then across that part of Canada just east of Ontario where I will visit with some overseas friends that we met in Hong Kong several years ago. Then back through New York to Long Island. Then home to China.
Will put a part 2 to this epic email after I return to Long Island in early September.
Love to All
(PS I never did get around to part 2 of the email, it turns out almost 1 1/2 years later that Ann and I updated this website with the travels and happenings.)
Photo Gallery: click on each to see a larger image.