Travel Through the United States of America on a Harley-Davidson

By Peter & Kay Forwood

U.S.A. on a Harley (9/1/02 - 24/1/02)
Distance 2725 km (270070 km to 272795 km)

This is part of the eighth section of our around the world trip.
Complete Trip Overview & Map

Coming from the Seventh Section, U.S.A.

10/1/02 The worst part of the trip over. 35 hours from Goulburn (Australia), train and plane to Florida (USA) via Korea. Security in Australia reasonable, Korea minimal and the USA extreme. All bags pass through the x-ray machine, I had to remove my steel toed boots for x-ray plus a wipe over for bomb residue. Because our baggage had unusual looking contents on x-ray (new front forks) we were security escorted to check them into checked baggage. Each flight now has two plain clothed security personnel. Obvious to myself or any terrorist who was paying attention they boarded late, had no carry on luggage, lingered in the isles watching the passengers and were seated apart next to the isles. Discreet they were not, they were as obvious as if they had been wearing uniforms. The public are paranoid also. The chatty crowd were silent at taxiing, the lady opposite opened her bible and quickly flipping through the pages, found the appropriate section, mouthing its words till we got airborne. Another lady two seats to my right was nursing her book called Jesus, under hands on her lap. Landing was as tense and a quiet relief when we slowed in taxiing. If we had been in an Arabic country the customary loud applause and cheering of relief would have been deafening.

11/1/02 Despite the longer flight or because of it our jet lag was minimal, catching snippets of sleep along the way mixing up the body clock. The bike was there at the H-D dealer ready to ride away and a bit after lunch we were at Jim and Donna Milliken's at Fort Myers completely stuffed.

12/1/02 Back to the land of the non-real where coffee is decaf, tea is orange flavoured, milk is fat removed and fruit and vegetables genetically modified. Nature obviously wasn't good enough for the American lifestyle. Jim has decided to ride with us through Mexico and Central America, although he won't be joining us till next month in Mexico. We readied our motorcycles together in his large workshop, there seemingly always some small repair needed now on the old Harley.

13/1/02 Jim travels to ride the motorcycle, we ride the motorcycle to travel. It seemed to be the best way to get around the places we want to see. But with anything there is a compromise and for us it is the repairs and maintenance. Each time we apprehensively delve deeper into its bowels we wonder if we are fixing more than we are damaging. Today we replaced the front forks. The original seals had lasted 200,000 km and the second set 70,000 km. The dusty roads wore away the chrome. It's a big job requiring the removal of the fairing and inner fairing. And while we are in this deep, replace a dash bulb or two, clean dust from the instruments and bash a couple of dents from the fender and sliders.

14/1/02 Donna had bought Jim a wire feed welder for Christmas to go along with the other fabulous tools in his workshop. So we had to try it out, extending the mirror shafts to get a better rear view and so Kay could back seat drive more easily. Strengthened the crash bar attachment to the frame which had been abused from dropping the bike too many times and modifying the stand bumper for greater ground clearance. My first try at a wire feed welder and a great little tool.

15/1/02 More maintenance with a new primary chain, and starter motor clutch, both original, but at least we had time off to go shopping with the motorcycle get ready jobs almost completed and time to rest with our hosts.

16/1/02 There always seems to be something extra to do when getting ready to start a trip, you never seem to be 100% ready, and if you were it would be too late to leave, and the trip would be too planned it wouldn't be worth taking. Odds and ends shopping and running through Jim's trip planning. He will be travelling in luxury with just one on the bike and a large tent trailer. He decided to leave behind the air conditioner and colour TV for this trip though.

17/1/02 Off at last, and deciding to head straight for Mexico and warmer weather and cheaper places, we hit the freeway for 450 km before sighting an ultra cheap hotel and calling it quits for the night. Never much to write about when freeway riding, just droning along with all the other people going somewhere. The percentage of people on the move in the USA is amazing. The place where you think you are doing something but don't have to think about it. The place where you think you are getting somewhere but usually end up where you started. How long are we tied to the wheels of our vehicles going nowhere?

18/1/02 America at War, the TV news stations plaster it everywhere and report on it constantly. While the enemy is elusive and spread world wide including inside the USA it is difficult for the government and media to keep the motivation going while telling people to get on with their lives normally but be on the look out for suspicious people and circumstances, and tolerate the inconveniences of added security. We thought the hype would have faded by our return, two months later, but little has changed, or is likely to in the near future. Political correctness is being replaced by intolerance, peace power by military school enrolments. We crossed the Florida Panhandle along the I-10 to Alabama, 550 km of sunshine and 20 degrees plus temps.

19/1/02 Tall billboards and taller hotel and fast food signs identify the next exit from the freeway. These purpose built highway towns only for travellers consist of fast food, accommodation and petrol. As the usually mobile traffic has slowed with the more stay at home Americans since Sep. 11 attacks, forced discounts in the competitive country are everywhere. Just 450 km today as the comfortable 22 degrees turned to 8 degrees and rain in just minutes as we passed through a weather front. After two hours of rain, cold and wet we called it a day near Lafayette after traversing Mississippi and into Louisiana.

20/1/02 Houston Texas, enormous sprawling with 16 lanes of traffic dividing the city in some places. The Cuban roadside workers of Florida collecting rubbish, mowing road edges, had been replaced by black Americans through Mississippi to Mexicans in Texas. We didn't see any white Americans working roadside, on this day leading up to the Martin Luther King holiday. There were one or two working with the prison gangs we occasionally have seen.

21/1/02 Finally at Corpus Christi, the jump off spot for Mexico. An industrial port town with signs of greater past prosperity. Tourists have been coming here along with some winter escapees from the north.

22/1/02 Last minute jobs in the USA like new tyres from Dunlop America, internet and last minute supplies. America's isolation still interesting us. As if they are trying not to be part of the world at times. Things like non metric, their own gallon, own bolt sizes, recording the date backwards and more recently their own mobile phone standard. Still the rest of the world is slowly dragging them to change, like our H-D's starter motor, made in Japan is metric as is the new V-Rod H-D which is totally metric. It seems that difficulty in procuring parts, particularly for small run lots is changing manufacturers, even if the government won't change.

23/1/02 With an engine oil change every 4,000 km and gearbox, primary and oil filter every 8,000 km it is necessary to be organized to change oils anywhere. We use a diesel engine oil, hotter operating temperatures for an air cooled motor, also it's readily available in almost every country. All oils are just dropped into plastic bags, new oils inserted and the old oils poured into the empty new oil containers. The car type oil filter is just hand tight and is easily removed without tools. Disposal of the old oil depends on where we are. In poor countries there is usually someone who can use old oil for lubricant, burning, killing spiders, stopping termites etc. In modern countries we can leave it at a recycle depot or sometimes have to place it into industrial bins.

24/1/02 Laredo and its counter part Mexican city, Nuevo Laredo, was our border crossing point. Goodbye to added taxes and 15% to 20% tips, goodbye to perfect roads and pollution free cars, hello to adventure, smog, cheaper prices and rougher conditions.

Move with us to Mexico, or go to our next visit to the  United States of America .




Top of Page

Story and photos copyright Peter and Kay Forwood, 1996-
All Rights Reserved.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website, with more Travellers stories, and a Bulletin Board for all the latest On the Road Information! Webmaster: Grant Johnson