Up and at em… then have to pack the bike so that slows me down. Never mind am going to the local Harley dealers before I have a quick look around Gettysburg and then back on the road to Niagara Falls, which I am really looking forward to.
Oh oh… what’s that wobble on the handlebars, I don’t like that! When I am going slow the bars are wobbling a bit. It could be a number of things, uneven wear on the tyre, wrong tyre pressure, loose headstock (the bit where the front attaches to the motorcycle frame), or worst case scenario, collapsing wheel bearings. Lucky I am on my way to the dealers, I hope someone can take a look at it for me… today!!
Arrive at Battlefield Harley Davidson in Gettysburg and am looked after by Eric who takes one look at the bike and says all that I have said above as possible causes plus too much weight on the rear of the bike, which is definitely going to be an issue. Thankfully he can fit the bike in now for someone to have a look and check everything out.. hurrah!
Of course that means I’ll have to do some shopping… tut, tut. I head straight for the saddle bags and luckily they have some that match my existing bags and aren’t too expensive. Harley Davidson leather bags are about $600 but these are Saddleman and non leather so come in at just over $130 so am well chuffed. But, do they have the supports? Yes they do.. sold! Brilliant, I can at least re-distribute some of the weight. I am also considering sending some stuff home, especially the heavy camera equipment 🙁
All told they have the bike for over 2 hours, but have given it a thorough going over and the only thing they could find that needed doing were a few spokes, front and rear, that were a little bit loose so they have tightened them up.
Now I have to take all the luggage off, fit the new saddlebags, re-distribute the contents and then put all the bags back on…. in boiling heat… very sweaty work.
At last I am able to get on the road, no chance to stop and look at Gettysburg except to take a couple of photos
As I look down, I see some names carved in the pavement… hang about, that’s my nephew! What are the chances of that? I don’t know who they are or why they are there but they are all outside the James Gettys hotel… I suppose he is who the town is named for.
On the way out of town I spot some monuments to the fallen at the battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War.. gosh this blog is turning into a tour of dead people!!
In the end it is almost 4pm by the time I am on the road again, I have to consider whether I can risk riding up to Niagara Falls now, seeing as I have lost a day almost. I um and err about what to do.. Niagara or straight to Chicago, its a difficult choice.
I decide to head for Chicago and after about 10 miles change my mind and re-route to Niagara. It is somewhere I definitely wanted to visit so if necessary something else will have to go.
I decide to keep riding as long as I can to get as far as I can towards Niagara. It is a great ride with plenty of twisties to keep me busy… I did record some video on the phone, its at a weird angle but see if you can spot the Amish I passed on the way.
Having probs with the iPhone its not uploading…. humph! I don’t understand why this won’t work.. its showing as in photos on my iPhone but not on my laptop… any advice much appreciated.
Just coming into Huntington and I pass a motel, this makes me think it’s about time to stop, no sooner have I thought that than the rain starts and within 30 seconds it is hammering down… Drenched! I immediately pull over and get the cover on the bags, but I’m already soaked right through so don’t bother with the romper suit. A quick turnaround and I go back to the motel I spotted just a few minutes ago, hope they have a vacancy.
Yes they do… Hurrah. The room is pleasant and I turn the AC on to heat to try and dry stuff out. I come to realise that the motels here are all pretty much the same.. Same layout, equipment etc., but all cleaner than the Super 8… Well so far.
DAY 9 – TOWANDA!
Next morning it’s brilliant sunshine, I enquire at the desk re a launderette, the woman is most helpful… Down to the main road, turn right, at the traffic lights turn left into town, carry on down Main Street and turn left into 4th street, the laundromat is on the right. Fab at least I can get the stuff dry and do my washing, while getting a coffee hopefully. The woman engages me in conversation about my trip… When I mention New Orleans she says… Oh take me with you, I love NO… I would say she is a few years older than me, probably early 70s and no attitude whatsoever. I have to say this is what I have found with people so far, no negative attitude to me as a, obviously gay, lone traveller at all, really very kind and engaging… Hey Yanks, I’m impressed.
I can’t find my leather bracelet, it must have fallen off when I was sorting the bike out in the pouring rain last evening… I’ll have a look where I stopped to see if it is there.
I follow the directions, and after turning right at the bottom of the road I stop to look for my bracelet.. ah there it is;
Oh no… squashed… should have got here sooner perhaps. Damn, I really like that one.
I carry on but seem to be riding a long way to find the traffic lights… Err I know this is an enormous country and people travel long distances for stuff, so figure it must be up ahead. Eventually I come to some lights, turn left and am on a road with just a couple of houses… no town, no Main Street. I stop to set up the iPhone gps to continue to Niagara. A young man comes over and asks if I am ok… Yep fine thanks. OK you ride safe now is the reply… Again just so lovely.
Eventually I come to a town called Tyrone, so with it being an Irish name I decide to stop and look for a launderette. Nope can’t find one, but on the way out of town I spot one so pull over. Of course I don’t have any washing powder so hope they sell it in the launderette.. no.. ok so I ask one of the women and she gives me directions to the nearest store. Am soon back and can get the washing done.. yay.
This means another delay on the journey, but hey ho life has to go on and I can’t do without clean undies. Sorry too much info there methinks.
Again I decide to keep riding until I am within 50 miles or so of Niagara, my reasoning is that it is an enormous tourist ‘trap’ and the hotels are probably going to be more expensive.
I stop a couple of times to check out my route. I have to stop at one place.. Shirleysburg in honour of my sister Shirl the Pearl.
As I am sitting on my bike checking out the route I have the engine running, next thing I know the door of the house I am outside of opens and a little old lady with a shock of white hair is talking to me. Now I still have my earplugs in and the music playing so I can’t hear a word… I quickly disconnect and apologies profusely for the noise and I assume that is why she has come out… Noooo she is not worried about the noise, she is worried that I am in trouble and do I need any assistance. Just fabulous.. she goes on to ask if I would like a drink of water or anything and adds that some of her family have motorcycles. Just speechless really at the genuine concern people have shown.
I am getting hungry now and am in need of a coffee. All at once I am almost in Bradford PA where they make Zippo lighters. I must stop and have a look and try and get a coffee. I think I should get a Zippo for my mate Spin as he collects them.
Well, what a disappointment… there does not seem to be anything much here. I was expecting at least a zippo shop but not able to find one; again I am probably in the wrong part of town, but I can’t even find a cafe or anything. Weird.
Not long after I leave Bradford I cross the state line into New York State. At about 50 miles to go I am still on the highway and there is nothing to stop at so I just keep going and decide to take the next turn off. I arrive in a place called Hamburg and find there are loads of restaurants etc. fab and I stop to have some dinner.
I have a delicious steak at Masons Grill followed by chocolate ice cream from the parlour across the street…. heaven. Unfortunately I can’t find any accommodation here so have to book in Buffalo, a place called Tonawonda. If you have seen the film ‘Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe’ (one of my all time faves) you will know that all I can think about is ‘TOWANDA’, if you don’t know it then rent it immediately.
Back on the road and before long I am at the motel. It is now 11 at night so straight to bed..