September 02, 2003 GMT
Milwaukee and one or two Harley Davidsons

On arrival, we were adopted by a lovely family in Big Bend (just outside of Milwaukee) when we were looking for a campground. The week involved riding around to the wonderful events that Harley Davidson had put on. We toured the Buell Factory, saw BB King in concert, checked out the nightlife, cheered the 10,000 bikes on their parade through the middle of town and met loads of great people. We caught up with our Aussie mates who we had camped with in Yellowstone, we met Welsh Sam who had played the harmonica for us while the sun rose on the grand canyon and had a few beers with Max and his friends and family when we eventually worked out that the campground was right next to where we stayed. The event was just amazing, Hundreds of Thousands of Harleys everywhere we went and everyone with huge smiles on their faces. People were standing on the overpasses and waving at the bikes on the motorways. Even BMW took out a billboard advert – “We’d say Happy Birthday, But you wouldn’t hear us! – Congratulations Harley Davidson”.

One of the highlights was even watching the police clear the street party after the pubs shut on the last night. About 10 bikes (HD’s of course) with sirens and lights blazing drove in staggered formation up and down one side of the street while about 10 polices horses did the same on the other side. It was quite a sight. The police had everyone off the streets and away home within 45 minutes of closing time and so endith the party and it was some party. No one even minded that we were on KLR’s although we got some ironic smiles here and there.

Posted by Leah Chapman at 09:48 AM GMT
September 15, 2003 GMT
Michigan and Ontario

Leaving Milwaukee, we drove around the top of Lake Michigan and over the magnificent Mackinaw Bridge and down to Flint where we had a great weekend with Robin (who we’d met on the ferries on the Inside Passage of Alaska and then in Sturgis) who made us really welcome and helped Dom with the new panniers (side boxes) on my bike. These are state of the art Coleman Esky’s (cool boxes) in a beautiful army green colour. They look perfect and along with the frames that we picked up in a outdoor store cost the princely sum of $30. Compared with those fancy aluminum ones (that don’t even keep the beer cold) at $700, we look a class act. They are fantastic and Dom did a magnificent job on them.

Robin and her friends gave us a fascinating tour through the GMC pickup truck motor plant where they work. We saw robots at work and watched while a single shift assembled some 1100 engines.

From Flint we headed east into Ontario and stopped just over the border in a tiny town called Coruna. Here we took Dom’s bike into the Kawasaki dealer as it had been using oil. It wasn’t obviously burning oil and it wasn’t down on power but it was gradually using more and more. The head mechanic, Mark looked at it and stripped it down. What he found was that the cylinder from new had been slightly warped. When the rings were new they were able to compensate but once they had worn a bit they were allowing a tiny, but ever increasing, amount of oil past on each stroke. Hence, the oil loss without any obvious signs. Fair
play to Kawasaki, they had a new piston sent out overnight and Mark had the cylinder rebored to an oversize of 20 thousandths of an inch. Kawasaki covered everything under warranty and we were back on the road the night after dropping the bike into the dealership.

From Coruna we headed to Niagra Falls arriving late at night. We drove down past the falls and back up to the main street which looks like a mini Las Vegas. We jumped off the bikes and immediately got chatting to a guy called Steve. He was part of huge group that had been at an Automotive Industry Trade Exhibition. Well what a welcome we got when Steve brought us back to the pub with him. These wonderful people from all over Canada made us feel like royalty. To the extent that when Ray remembered he still had the keys to 3 suites in the Sheraton (that he had been presenting his products in) and we were given our choice of which room we wanted. We had unlimited views of the most famous
waterfall in the world from our balcony. The traveller life is a rough life.

The next morning we took some photo’s and sadly said farewell to Canada – What a wonderful country with wonderful people. Thankyou all so much. We are already talking about where we’ll go next time we visit.

Posted by Leah Chapman at 09:51 AM GMT

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