A road trip to discover the American wonders aboard a Harley Davidson
This trip was developed as a gift for my husband's 40th birthday. Being a motorcyclist, the gift for this goal could only be a road trip, in the USA and aboard a splendid shiny Harley Davidson
For a real biker, this itinerary represents the American dream as it winds through the most authentic American wonders, on deserted roads with breathtaking views.
The itinerary includes: 23 days of travel, 18 stages, 17 states crossed and 5,700 miles (or 9,200 km.) It is a demanding journey as you spend a lot of time traveling, on a motorbike. Consider that you will often get at the end of the day running for dinner (in the USA you will have dinner early) without even having the time to get a shower first. But, I assure you, that it was worth it: this trip will remain forever in our most beautiful memories.
Here is the travel story.
Let's start from the itinerary:
I imagine that many of these cities will not tell you anything ... Going on reading the details of each stage, you will find all the answers and you will see which wonders are hidden behind these names, at the moment, mostly unknown to you.
Finally, we land at Chicago airport. With our mini-luggage (remember that it is a trip on the road by motorbike .... further on you will find all the details on how to organize your luggage) we head towards the hotel. Tired of the trip and with our nice jet-lag we throw ourselves in the shower and manage for an American style dinner not too rich because tomorrow is the big day! After a quick breakfast with coffee and a snack at the hotel coffee shop, we take a taxi to reach Eagle Rider (below you will find a special section with all the info for renting the motorbike). Once at the destination we find an unknown number of Harleys parked along the road just waiting to be set in motion for a new adventure. We go in and start to deal with the bureaucracy of motorcycle rental. The guys from Eagle Rider look like real bikers: beard and long hair with a bandana, rings, tattoos but very kind and helpful. While managing with all the documents, the eye runs throughout the shop: there are a lot of accessories for the motorcycle and countless clothing items. We bought some wonderful helmets with a negligible expense, thus avoiding having to wear the rental one. After signing the paperwork, they accompany us to our bike. With great emotion, we get acquianted to our travel companion. They briefly show us the operation, the lights, etc ... and we are finally ready!
Tip: to get familiar with the bike, before leaving, it is good to take a tour of the block.
Leaving Chicago, we head towards Milwaukee: the birthplace of Harley Davidson to which a large museum is dedicated. Milwaukee in the common memory is also famous for the TV series Happy Days. In It is curious to know that the episodes were all shot in the studio and never a shot was made in Milwaukee. Happy Days' memory is celebrated through the so-called Bronze Fonz: the bronze statue of the mythical Fonzie. Milwaukee is a very particular city: a real melting pot where Afro ghettos, mosques, and Victorian villas coexist.
We leave Milwaukee and head to Green Bay, the city of the Green Bay Packers football team. I assure you that, even if you are not a fan of this sport, it is worth visiting the stadium of this team and see what lies behind this sport.
We cross Wisconsin, skirt Lake Winnebago and pass by La Crosse until we reach the small town of Treampealeau, directly overlooking the Mississipi River, where the welcome is American style.
This will be a transfer stop for South Dakota. From Treampealeau we will cross beautiful countryside landscapes until we reach Vermilion.
We leave Vermilion to head towards Rapid City where we will finally visit the mythical Mount Rushmore. On the way we took one of the worst rainy days of our motorcycle career: we were soaked from head to toe. It didn't help having lunch inside the motorway restaurant with the air conditioning launched at the maximum power. Luckily we had the chance to change and wear dry clothes. After all, true bikers face all the difficulties. Continuing towards the Badlands, the weather completely changed ... finally sun and heat, and what a view!
From the Black Hills another transfer stop to enter Wyoming in Buffalo, to get closer to Cody: the gateway to Yellowstone Park.
Memorable stop of this tour. We leave Buffalo to head towards the town of Cody, passing the Beartoot Highway, classified as the No. 1 road in the ranking of the most beautiful roads in America: a mountain pass with spectacular views. From Cody we will enter the Yellowstone park where we will be able to contemplate all the natural wonders of this immense park. In the evening, after a country style dinner we will attend the Rodeo. When you enter Cody, pay attention: the deer roam freely in the streets as they are used to go into houses' gardens looking for food.
We leave wonderful Wyoming passing through the Shoshoni park. This will be a transfer stop to enter Colorado and get closer to Monument Valley, passing through enchanting American landscapes.
We leave Craig to head to Ouray and enter the lands of the great Ranches that you have often heard of in TV series The Ranch starring Ashton Kutcher. To get to Ouray we will pass through the Grand Mesa National Forest, the largest flat mountain in the world, where we will witness a wonderful spectacle of nature. On the way, I suggest you stop in the town of Montrose: a small, folkloristic town with nice little shops and cafés along the main street. Scattered around the city you will find hay bales. The photo of the cowboy below explains the reason for the presence of all this hay ... The town of Ouray is a fairly popular mountain tourist destination. All hotels are very characteristic and in style. Being in the mountains, the weather is quite variable as you can see from the photo below ...
We leave Ouray and go along the beautiful Million Dollar Highway, one of the most beautiful scenic roads in the USA, down to Durango, passing through Bluff up to the entrance of the magnificent Monument Valley. The stage from Ouray to Monument Valley is quite long but equally fabulous in terms of views and nature. For this reason, the route deserves an exhaustive description that you find in the detail page, below.
The next leg to New Mexico will be long enough. Being on the street, a stop to visit the Four Corners Monument is a must. It is a monument located at the point where the borders of the states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico touch the center of the region called Four Corners. It is the only point in the United States where four states meet.
We leave the Four Corners Monument to head towards spectacular New Mexico. The first stop in the land of enchantment (New Mexico is called Land of Enchantment..you will find it indicated on all car plates) will be Madrid ... an inevitable stop if you are a true biker. Do you remember this small town? You have certainly seen it in a famous film with John Travolta among the protagonists ......
We leave the hippie community of Madrid to continue our journey through New Mexico. To immerse yourself in a typically American atmosphere, stop for lunch in Carizozo at the Four Winds Restaurant and take a seat at the counter. Also this time the climate was not very forgiving: we came across a storm with lots of sand reels that rose from the land adjacent to the roadway. Fortunately, the storm cleared and allowed us to reach our final destination with the sun ... .and what a destination !!
Before leaving New Mexico and entering Texas, we make a stop in Roswell: a town made famous by the so-called accident of Roswell that occurred here on July 2, 1947, when an unidentified object crashed to the ground. The story soon became famous as the first news disclosed by newspapers assumed that the crash of one or more UFOs had occurred which, according to some theories, would have followed the alleged recovery of corpses of extraterrestrials by the US military. Today Roswell still lives on the fame of this accident: in fact you will find numerous extraterrestrial themed shops and museums.
We pass the border with New Mexico and enter Texas. You will immediately understand that you have entered this state from the black masses that you will see in the distance ... these are the typical Texas cattle farms. This stage will take you on the famous Route 66 which crosses the city of Amarillo. Here you can immerse yourself in the typical Texan atmosphere made of cowboys, ranches and huge steaks!
We leave Texas and enter Oklahoma. This will only be a transfer stop. For our trip we hadn't planned anything for this stop relying completely on chance. We then stayed at a pleasant motel, dined in a fastfood. and had breakfast at a gas station. The most electrifying thing about this stage (Oklahoma does not offer much from a tourist point of view) was to ride a motorbike, even if for a very short distance, without a helmet. Here in fact the helmet is not mandatory but it is good to always pay attention!
After leaving Oklahoma we head quickly to Mississipi, passing through Arkansas. The journey will take us to know the immense river and the picturesque villages of its delta. Clarksdale, in particular, the capital of the blues where we will be able to attend an unusual live music show ....
From Clarksdale, a trip to Memphis in Graceland is a must: the monumental house museum of the legendary Elvis Presley! And along the way, don't miss the opportunity to buy and enjoy boiled peanuts: boiled peanuts that you will find only here ...
We leave Mississipi and enter Tennessee to reach Nashville: the capital of country music. Here we can go around honky-tonk bars, drink some Jack Daniel's, dance some line dance and boots for a few dollars ...
In Nashville, Hurricane Harvey passes through and on the day of the restart we are under the incessant and copious rain left by the tail of the hurricane. What a trip !! In the end we managed to leave Tennessee and enter Illinois: the last state that will be touched by our tour.
We leave Springfield and head towards Chicago where we will leave our travel companion to then continue visiting this beautiful city that will have a lot to offer!
And here we are, as promised, in the fateful chapter on how to organize your luggage for our 3-week motorcycle trip.