The journey began with the odometer reading 60,163 miles at 9 am on Friday, May 19, 2017. My destination that day was Echo Park outside Los Angeles, about 360 miles south of Mountain View.
Feeling a tad nervous but excited to shove off the curb and see my brother Joel and his family in Echo Park, about 360 miles south of Mountain View.
Getting gas somewhere outside of Barstow. Nice weather heading east, but hot as blazes when Jean and I stopped to refuel a couple weeks later on the way back.
Historic Route 66 felt historic, and was memorable if too short.
My second night was spent at the lovely home of our friendsJoe Murray and Kim Sargent in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Joe and Kim have worked hard to make this house their home, adding special touches all around the property.
What would a trip East through Santa Fe, New Mexico be without a visit with this happy fella, Dylan? He's movie pals with Henri, and a silly, lovely dude.
New Mexico has plenty of desert and plateaus that stretch for miles.
Third night was spent in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Had the worst burrito in my life at the adjoining restaurant, but the room was clean and the bed cozy.
Fourth night was spent with my mountain bike pal Chris Pierce in Colorado Springs. We watched the Air Force Thunderbirds practice near his house, which he was packing up before moving to nearby Monument the following weekend. Discovered `Longmire' and mourned the death of Nicky Hayden on May 22, 2017.
Damn near ran our of gas in rural Colorado. Thank God for Loaf `N Jug! Left Chris's house with a slight dusting of snow on the ground en route to Lincoln, Nebraska.
Nebraska was windy, windy, windy, and had the ginormous wind mills to rub it in! Spent the night in a hotel outside Lincoln, unpacking the bike moments before the sky opened and dumped heavy rain.
I decided to hoof it 600-plus miles through Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin on my last leg. I'm not much of a fast-food guy, but Arby's offered tasty Meat Craft (whatever that means), pretty decent coffee and a respite from the wind.
I reached my first final destination in 2,700 miles and five days: Bob and Joanne Houillon's Wauwatosa home, where I beat Jean to the door by a mere 30 minutes.
Jubilant siblings, Bob and Mama Jean. They smile like that all the time.
Enjoyed a catch-up lunch with nearly-30-years-a-pal Steve Smith at Cafe Hollander in downtown Wauwatosa. Caught up on family stuff and drank my first Sprecher Root Beer of the trip!
Sis-in-law Joanne with her bitchen vintage Klein mountain bike.
After my first 2,700-mile solo trip, bro-in-law Bob asked what I was havin', so he busted out his finest brown liquor.
Enjoyed a celebratory pizza with nearly all of Jean's family at Marty's Pizza in Brookfield. This is her dad's 1953 MG Magnette.
Jean's mom loves working in the garden, and had the company of her daughter's Jean and Jackie for two days.
The subterranean Man Cave of Stephen H. Smith, the gent who inspired me to take bicycling seriously in the summer of 1988 when we both worked at Johnson Hill Press in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.
Esteban has eclectic tastes in nearly everything.
Mama Jean and Esteban, barely ageing!
We neglected to tour the Wauwatosa Harley-Davidson factory when we lived there many years ago, so we had to tour the H-D museum. Well worth it.
Our lone Bavarian sheep among a hundred or so American wolves.
The photo that inspired a Cycle World article, taken at the Motor Cafe & Restaurant across from the H-D museum.
Sisters reunited! Jean and Jackie are five years apart but cut from the same Polish cloth.
What would a visit to the Midwest be without playing yard games with pregnant nieces?
A rather memorable Memorial Day dinner at Kathy and Charlie's ginormous garage in Sheboygan. Winds were nearly 30 mph riding up highway 43!
No better feeling than putting up one's feet at my parent's new apartment in Bellevue, just a few miles away from my childhood home in Allouez.
Jimmy JJ, Mama Jean and Margie B bundling up for a day out.
"Where would you like to eat lunch," they asked. "Kroll's West!" I said with no hesitation. It's a Green Bay institution, located across the street from Lambeau Field.
My two-wheel inspiration, Margie B!
These two have been best buds since 1965.
We drove to Wausau to see nephew Christian graduate from high school. Proud papa John on the right looking dapper in his gown.
Papa Jimmy JJ is the kindest, smartest guy I know. It was a real thrill meeting several of his friends in Green Bay.
Nephew Graham is the only sane one in this photo. His house in Monona, Wisconsin is righteously sweet.
Sister Drea and bro-in-law Dougalicious were gracious hosts, always good for at least 48 laughs.
We stayed overnight in Hannibal, Missouri, birthplace of Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain.
Lunch was fun at the Hwy 36 diner just inside Kansas.
Our pal Chris had just moved into his new townhouse in Monument, Colorado. No one makes his face light up more than our Samantha.
Chris is an ace volunteer and display maker at the National Museum of World War II Aviation in Colorado Springs.
It was a long slog from Salinas, Kansas to Colorado Springs. Wind, heat, and rain meant we were starving after the museum tour. so we wolfed down some Chick-Fil-A.
Somewhere between Colorado Springs and Las Vegas, New Mexico.
A fine Carnegie Library in Las Vegas, New Mexico. If we would've turned left twice after this photo we would've experienced the town square, where they filmed exterior shots for the Netflix series "Longmire".
Dylan grew a fantastic mustache in the two weeks since I saw him on the way to Wisconsin.
Alive and well in dreamy Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Two different sets of wheels, two different costumes in Santa Fe.
Tasty lunch at Earl's Family Diner in Gallup, New Mexico. That's Earl!
Kim's sweet Vespa in Flagstaff.
Fancy taco joint in Flagstaff.
Breakfast was mighty-fine at the Roadkill Cafe on Route 66.
It was 105 degrees on our way to Barstow, California through Searchlight, Nevada.
Hot, hot, HOT outside Barstow.
Popular Disney voice actor Andy Devine was born in Kingman, Arizona and played football for Santa Clara University.
Eclectic dinner at the Firehouse in Barstow.
Met some new friends at a Shell station outside Bakersfield, California on the last leg of our tour.
Home! 12:45 pm on June 7, 2017.
Our riding gear needed a good washing and airing out.
Three days shy of three weeks on the bike. We racked up 5,845 memorable miles; Jean joined me for 3,100 of those hardy miles heading West.
On Friday, May 19 I departed the comforts of home in Mountain View, California, with the front tire of my 2003 BMW R1150RT pointed south to Los Angeles. The objective was to visit family and friends on my way to Milwaukee, Wisconsin as part of Jean's four-week sabbatical from her role as general manager of Red Rock Coffee. She would fly out to meet me in Wauwatosa on Wednesday, May 24. After a few days visiting family and friends, we'd hop on the Beemer together to spend time with family in Sheboygan, Green Bay, Wausau and Monona before crossing the country for home. After 5,845 miles, we pulled into our driveway at 12:45 pm on Wednesday, June 7.
Gary J. Boulanger is a California writer with a focus on motorcycles and bicycles.
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