is a small city by American standards and there was not much to
see from where we were staying. Last year a big tornado went
through the city and district. 130 people were killed and there
was heaps of damage. You can still see areas that have yet
to be cleared away. We didn’t venture too far for dinner
tonight, finding an Italian restaurant only a short stroll
from hotel and then turned in early,
Oklahoma here we come. Just over 400 kms. First stop today the Kansas-Missouri border. Then it was on for 13 miles through and out of Kansas into Oklahoma. So if you blinked you missed it. We noticed a change in countryside as the farms had more fences and more cattle. We were now in Indian Territory. The town and street names were quite a mouthful, but we didn’t see any feathers or tomahawks. The Russians expected the locals to be wearing lap-laps and carrying bows and arrows.
Our main stop this morning was in Miami Oklahoma, where LaLa
introduces us to members of the local chapter of BACA. (Bikers
Against Child Abuse) One of the members owns the local
biker shop with heaps of bike clothes. Really cheap! The
Brazilians got here first but we still got a few bargains. There
was a fantastic museum attached with lots of old bikes and
memorabilia about people like Evel Knievel and the Fastest
A special highlight was when half a dozen of the BACA crew
joined us and escorted us out of town for about 20 miles. Both
tour groups joined for this. The BACA mob would block the side
roads (even a cop car) and send us through, then ride on to the
next intersection and so on. They looked quite rough with all
the gear and chains. I asked them what they did for a living
apart from the bikes. They were plumbers and builders. They just
loved playing the part of the tough bikers. A nice group of
Back on the road and into Tulsa. I think this place has the
world’s biggest Harley shop. It was huge. We dined at the “5
& Diner” next door. It was just like in the movies with the
juke box and staff in skirts with bobby socks. Chrome everywhere
and lots of photos of years gone by. Pretty good tucker too. It
was here that LaLa met a local biker who was really keen to talk
about the town and its sights. He ended up taking our group on a
detour to see a train museum that was being set up. There was
going to be a Route 66 display as well.
It was a long drive from Tulsa to Oklahoma City. One of our
riders, Ed, got pulled over by a local cop for going through a
stop sign. One of our early lessons was about how we crossed an
intersection as a group. We were supposed to all pull up behind
the leader and then move as one across the road. The drivers
were usually pretty understanding and stopped to let us all
through. On this day, Ed let a bit of a gap form between the
riders and that was it, the cop pulled him over. Ty was in the
truck behind and started to get out of the vehicle when the cop
turned to him and just said “Get back in the car”, so he did.
Luckily Ed being a local was able to talk the cop out of taking
it further. It shook a few of us up as the cop had been quite
We all stopped at the giant Soda bottle to wait
for Ed and Ty to catch up. This was supposed to be a refreshment
stop. Usually it is a lot hotter in this area by at least 20
degrees. LaLa was a bit concerned with the weather as the wind
often starts up in the afternoon and the roads are very open
from here to OK City. So the vote was taken to pass on the soda
and head straight in to town. As we got closer to OK, the
traffic became worse. People were coming from everywhere. Road
works added to the problem and it was bumper to bumper for
miles. We finally arrived at our hotel The Courtyard by
Marriott. Pretty flash. It was alongside the Chesapeake Arena
and the baseball stadium.
As we pulled in to the car park we saw half a dozen big prime
movers with trailers parked at the hotel. They were decorated
with giant pictures of the stars from Wrestle Mania, the
equivalent of our World Championship Wrestling. There was a
“performance” in the arena tonight and also a big baseball game.
Hence all the traffic. When we set off in the morning all the
trucks were gone. Probably left straight after the show.
For tea we went for a wander to Brick City. It is an area for
dining and entertainment. It was Mexican tonight and we shared a
tasting plate for 2 that would have fed four easy. On the walk
back to the hotel over the canal we danced in the street to
music from a live local band in a cantina.
Early start again today heading for Amarillo, Texas. About 400kms. First stop this day was at the Cherokee Trading Post. The craftwork and gifts were amazing. We looked and admired it all, but where could we put it? Oh for a larger suitcase. Then it was on to the Route 66 Museum in Clinton Oklahoma. This was another fantastic stop. There is so much memorabilia displayed all along the route. We are really seeing the signs now of the Indian country. Our stop at Elk City was to have lunch at the Western Sizzlin. Huge buffet and it was yum!
The ride from here was on a lot of old road. It was pretty
rough in places with lots of ruins of motels, garages and homes.
Quite sad really seeing how people had just walked away from all
they had owned. Our stop at the barbed wire museum (Devil’s
Rope) was amazing. We saw so many sorts types of wire displayed
really well with all the history. Australian wire even had a
mention. There were also displays on farming with cattle horns
The Ambassador Hotel was our stop in Amarillo, Texas. A special
event was to dine at the Big Texan. We were picked up from the
motel by a retired cowboy driving a huge limo that was sporting
a decent set of horns on the bonnet. The cow’dy gave a good talk
about the history of the place. All the drivers are volunteers
and retirees. We arrived at the restaurant with the giant cowboy
boot out front and went in to meet the whole crew seated at
really long tables.
was done up in the old western theme with wooden balconies and
stuffed animals on most of the walls. The menu was a giant $100
bill and everything is BIG. This is where you can order the 72oz
steak. If you can eat with all the sides within an hour, you can
have it for free. You sit upon a small stage in front of
everyone. A bucket comes with the meal in case you don’t make
it. Apparently some guy attempted the feat just before we
arrived. Sadly he did not succeed. The record is 8minutes and 52
It was at the Big Texan that disaster struck. Chester stood to
tell everyone to pose for a photo from the balcony and almost
went down as his knee gave way. He was in real trouble and
obviously in a lot of pain. The Russians had to carry him out to
the car and we headed back to the motel to start treatment.
Trudy organised some ice from the vending machine and got out
what drugs she had to doctor the injured man. While doing this
she was wondering what was going to happen for the rest of the
trip. Chester had been having a bit of trouble with his knee
before we left home. He had been keeping up with the Celebrex
and that allowed him to keep riding. Now the drugs were running
out and there was a long way to go. There was no way he would be
fit to ride the next day. Panic set in for Trudy. What are we
going to do?
First thing in the morning, Trudy went downstairs to see the tour leaders to let them know what troubles we were having. It was decided that Chester should not attempt to ride that day and as the next day was a planned rest day, we could re-assess the situation then.
By this stage of the bike tour there had been a few problems
with some of the bikes. Each group had a spare bike, but they
were all in use. One Brazilian woman had lost her keys and
another had a second flat tyre. Repairs had been planned to be
carried out in Santa Fe, the next stop. So here we were with
another spare bike and no room on the trailers. So we organised
one of the Russians to ride Chester’s bike as he had the flat
and Chester took his spot in the support vehicle. Trudy got on
the back of the only Goldwing on our tour, sitting behind one of
the Aussies. So all day Chester lay back on the seat with the
beer esky… and used the ice on his leg.
Trudy’s day was so different to those behind Chester. She
really missed the talking and Chester’s consideration when going
over rough roads. But at least she can say she rode the whole
It was getting warmer now as we approached Santa Fe. The
countryside was so like central Australia. It reminded us so
much of Coober Pedy and the Breakaways and the Nullarbor. When
we came to the New Mexico border it was amazing. You are riding
along the flat bare country and all of a sudden the land just
drops away to more flat bare country. There were ranges to the
right and left and the road stretching out forever.
It was along this road that we stopped at the Cadillac Ranch.
You may have heard about this place. A dozen Cadillacs are stuck
in a row with their noses buried. All around were empty or
almost empty spray paint cans left over from the graffiti works
on the cars. Trudy found a can with a bit of paint and managed
to put her initials on the flanks of one. Chester saw it from a
Riding on we came to Mid Point, the official midway point of
Old Route 66. This was not the halfway point of our trip, as we
were doing a few side trips. It was at Mid Point that we met
Flo. She was one of the characters from the “Cars” movie. The
character was based on a real waitress. She now runs a small
souvenir shop in a two-shop town.
Back on the road, we headed for a real ghost town. Several
motels and a garage all closed down. We walked through the ruins
and could see nature taking over pretty fast. It was really red
dirt like central Australia, but we waited to hear the sound of
a rattle snake though we got to see some of their pretty big
Next stop was Tucumcari. An Indian town with tourist tepees and
lots of motels. One of the old ones (The Blue Swallow) is being
done up and looks fantastic. In the old days, each unit had its
own lock up car port. They are now open with all sorts of murals
painted in them.
The winds started to get quite strong here. It was really
pulling at the helmets. It felt like our heads would be pulled
off. The temperature was rising too 91 F. Because we were in
Indian country, there were restrictions on the sale of booze. So
we stopped at a small servo to get some beer for the sun-downer.
Santa Fe was not far away when we pulled into the ruins of an
old Spanish church at Pecos. It was built in the 1600’s. It
stood on the top of a hill with commanding views of the
countryside. This was quite moving and interesting.
It was in Santa Fe as we were riding into the city that we had
our first big split up. We had to wind our way through lots of
turns and traffic lights. Some street rules threw us a bit too,
but we eventually made it to the hotel in one group. Santa Fe
has been kept in the old adobe style with dark timbers and brown
stucco walls. The streets away from the traffic are narrow and
the buildings don’t go over two stories. Our hotel was quite old
and very Spanish. It was not far from the main Plaza where lots
of locals and tourists gather.
By the time we got to the motel, Chester had rested very well. His leg seemed a little better. We got up to the room fairly quickly and after a brief rest wandered down to the Plaza to have tea. We planned to do some sightseeing tomorrow if Chester was feeling better.
Laundry day had arrived. Trudy went with the American couple to have the washing done. They charge you by the pound to do it for you. It was only about $12 to get it all done. Great! Then Trudy got to see the biggest pharmacy she had ever seen. She was not impressed with the service, but managed to get a few supplies to help Chester along. Back at the hotel Chester was resting and getting ready to stroll about town a bit. His knee had improved remarkably. We think a bone fragment had been working its way off from the bone and had finally come away. Once that happened the knee seemed to settle.
We kept up all the treatment and did not push him too hard for
the rest of the day. A stroll to the Plaza led us to the local
hawkers peddling their beautiful pieces made from the local
stone. We caught a ride on a local tour bus to see the city. It
is funny how their timetables work. The buses leave when the
driver is ready, irrespective of what time it is due to leave.
The old cathedral was spectacular and it was near here that we
came across the old chapel with the mysterious staircase. The
story goes that the nuns had no way to get to the choir loft and
they prayed for a solution to their problem. Well along came a
stranger who was a carpenter. He offered to build the staircase
and did it using the old techniques (no nails or glue). Then
once it was built, he disappeared. He didn’t wait to be paid, he
just left. The strange part to the story is that no one knows
how the staircase stands. It has no supports and just seems to
hang there. We had lunch around the corner with a group from the
tour. A lovely day to really relax.
Tea that night was an experience. There were about 8 of us. We
went to a restaurant quite close to the hotel. Now the “rules”
with tipping require you to pay a 22% fee if your party is more
than 6. So when we started having problem with poor drink
service, we thought that the staff had decided to slack off,
because the tip was guaranteed. It went from bad to worse.
Missing orders and doubling up of others. Grumbling waiters and
just generally poor service. Well you can imagine we were not
happy to pay the tip.
Our American friend was amazing. She complained to the manager
and after a lengthy explanation of our grievances he removed the
tip and gave us a free dessert. He hoped that we would be back
later in our stay. Not very likely…. we were leaving in the
Chester had a talk to the tour leaders about riding the next
day. All the bikes had been fixed while we were in town and they
suggested that Chester change bike to a Harley Soft Tail. It is
a lot lower bike, and although not as comfortable for Trudy, it
would be a lot better for Chester. They were right on with that.
Riding was a lot better from here on.
Today we rode a part of the Turquoise Trail that follows Route 66. It was going to be a long ride to Gallup. It was getting warmer.
This morning we had a special treat. LaLa seems to know so many
people, she is always chatting to the locals. It was one of
these chats that led her to meeting a ranch owner who owns and
runs a movie ranch.
invited to go out to the ranch. A movie was in production, so
there were some restrictions on where we could go. There was a
mock-up of a main street of an old west town. Filming had gone
on late the night before and all was a bit quiet. Instead of
strolling into the bar (out of bounds), we wandered over to the
old church - so typical of many films and the cemetery too.
The ranch was used in movies dating back to the 1960’s. Gene
Kelly and John Wayne had been involved in movies that were made
here. It used to be 2000 acres, but now it is only about 135
acres. Movies like Silverado, Wyatt Earp, The Young Ones, Wild
Hoggs and Smokin Joe were filmed here.
we rode on to Madrid and called in to Maggie’s Diner from the
movie Wild Hoggs. It is a funny little place that has been taken
over by tourism since the movie came out. The diner is now full
of souvenirs and of course we bought another T-shirt. We will
have to watch the movie again to see if we recognise the places.
There was no time to stop at Albuquerque, so we
rode the outskirts and headed for Acoma Sky City for lunch. This
was the first of the Indian Casinos that we saw. They are huge
and stuck in the middle of nowhere. It was just near here that
we crossed a section of desert and came to the foothills of Old
The Indians have a pueblo (village) built on top of the table
mountains. Here also we witnessed the US air force refuelling a
helicopter from a huge fixed wing aircraft. The whole area
was amazing to see. Everything here is so big. You can see why
the Americans brag about their country.
More desert and more Indian country. We stopped at a trading
post that stood on the continental divide. It at this point that
water flows both ways. Back-tracking a bit we headed for Gallup
through some beautiful peaceful country. The local Indians have
small holdings often with small adobe houses attached to the
There is not a lot to see in Gallup. We were all pretty tired
so we decided to eat at the hotel. El Rancho was its name. A big
white Spanish style building. It was quite dark inside. The
walls were covered with hundreds of autographed pictures of all
the old movie stars who have stayed there. We actually
recognised a few.
Each room was named after a celebrity. Ours was Paulette
Goddard. The Aussie blokes had Errol Flynn. Chester’s knee seems
to be a lot better now. What with all the ice packs and hot
baths and Trudy running around kicking the bike stand up or
putting it down, we got on top of the problem.
Today we see the Grand Canyon. So it was ride - and ride fast as it was a long way to Flagstaff. But before the GC we visited the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. Wow! This was amazing. We got delayed by a road crash at the freeway turnoff. We had to ride on for miles and then turn back to make the entrance from the other side.
Driving into the national park you see the odd big dark rock,
not realising that they are parts of trees. LaLa sent us all on
our first free ride. No chance of getting lost she reckoned. We
had an hour to do the grand tour. There were spectacular views
of the desert with all colours mixing in the sweeping sands.
Some areas were covered with petrified logs. Huge trees that had
fallen en masse and froze where they lay, turning into hard
rock. We were really impressed with this spectacle.
We had to be at the Grand Canyon by 3.30 as the last helicopter
flight left at 4. Not everyone wanted to fly, so the two groups
were mixed together and split in two again. Those flying, rode
hard and fast and up and up on our way to Flagstaff. We were at
8046 ft. We drove past Winslow, Arizona which is mentioned in a
line from the Eagles song “Take it easy”. No time to stop.
We arrived at the airport just in time for the weigh-in. yes
that’s right. We all got weighed and then got paired with others
according to how heavy we were. Even to the detail of what seat
we sat in.
Well we can tell you now… The Grand Canyon is BIG. Really BIG.
As we flew away from the heliport, we were over forests and
could not see much else. Then the land dropped away and there it
was. Wow. It is so hard to describe. The canyon seemed to go on
forever. The Colorado River runs through for over 280 miles. You
could see specks down in the valley that were camp-sites and