Thursday, 16 June 2011

Take the Man out of Manchester.

Sunset over Manchester California

Video antics. Gentleman Lawrence

The last full day of riding was another marathon. Big miles, but also a long time. This was due mainly to the regular stops for photos, video and views that are`just amazing. Highway 1 down the west coast is rough in places, land slides cause problems, big trucks and RCV's add to the cyclist, bikers and cars to make going a little fraught at times, but the scenery and road just blows your mind. The Griffin Inn at Elk, was a little more expensive than my normal motels, but it had a monopoly in the area, and as I took my life in my own head, and hit a few MPH over the limit to get back from the Manchester photo shoot 13 miles away. It was worth it. Breakfast bought to my 'chalet' in the morning.

At 46 degrees F, it was a cool start when I got back to Manchester to take some more photos. A quiet place with only the slightly dotty post mistress taking any interest. I soon deposited my message in a bottle near the towns sign. (Bottle with a message to all the Manchesters and the last few threads of the flag that had travelled with me). San Francisco was about 170 miles away, and the journey seemed to take forever as the '1' got busier and more populated as I got nearer. By 5pm I was crossing the Golden Gate bridge
and fighting the GPS and the roadworks to get into the docklands area.
My last night would be in the grand surroundings on the Argonaut Hotel near Fishermans Wharf, but I was a day early so I went back to the edge of town and stayed in a more modest motel.

As I write this , its 2pm on Thursday 16th June, the bike has been returned to Eagle Rider in SF, and the final mileage was 8525 miles. I have ridden every day for 34 days (though some days 5-30 miles).

My longest day was from Livingston, Oregon to Manchester,Washington at 748 miles. My shortest 6 miles to do some some laundry.

Though I was resticted by time and the task in hand, I have only scratched the surface of what the USA has to offer. In fact I have only taken the pin out of its box to start to scratch.

The people I have met have been great, the friendship and hospitality more than I could have wished for. One thing for sure, I can recommend anyone to visit this massive and diverse country, you will never run out of things to see or do. I have never been scared, worried or concerned about who I spoke too, or where I was. (Even that forest in Alabama).

Thanks go out to:

Bennetts Insurance (Bennetts Biker Dream), RBP International, (Nicolien, Becks and the team), Ben, Chris, Jonnys gang, Missy, John (Red), Cory and Jack for the offers of Beds, beer and great conversation.

To my wonderfull wife who put up with months of 'ME' prior to coming over, and a month of being lonely as I travelled. (Love you loads).

Before I fly home, just a short note about Lawrence, (Above) the old chap I met in a Diner on 'Flag Day'. The shortest encounters often have the most profound effect.

Lawrence was an 'Elk', onc of the age old fraternities that have existed here for many years. He was going to a blessing for the Start and Stripes and though he invited me along, it would have been too long to get to where I was going.

In ten minutes he told me of his family leaving Plymouth in the 1600's, how in his lifetime the country had changed, and how proud he was to be an American. I gave Lawrence a pin badge showing the Stars & Stripes along with the Union Jack given to me by the American Embassy in London. We shook hands and he had a tear in his eye (me too), as we parted he thanked me for visiting the USA and hoped his country had treated me well.

You all did, and may I add that I hope that if you should ever visit the UK, we too can offer the same welcome and friendship.

Goodbye America. God Bless and thanks again.

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