Sturgis to NYC

Whew! Some time has passed. Let’s wrap this Summer’s journey up already!

I left Keystone on Sunday, the last day of the Sturgis Rally, filled with South Dakota delicacies. I had quail, elk, and buffalo.

A few diehards were still around, scattered about with their bikes packed with rally comforts and necessities. A few diehard birds were high in a tree as well, waiting for some fresh roadkill.

My thoughts of continuing the journey west were now lost with thoughts of getting back to my artwork.

I decided the best route would be south to Nebraska then head west. While filling up at this gas station an old Dodge pulled up.

I planned on riding through the Pine Ridge Reservation on the highway directly across the gas station, but the road was blocked due to police activity which caused me to go directly South.

As I zig-zagged through Nebraska, I kept feeling something on my boots. It felt like rocks being lifted from the ground as I passed, but there was no loose gravel. As I zoomed along, I realized this area looked familiar. Suddenly, a small flock of birds approached from my left and began flying across the road. Oh shit! That bird isn’t getting higher! One of those birds wasn’t going to make it. BOOM! A bird slammed right into my face! SMACK! I was OK but I assumed the bird was not. I just kept riding, but damn! That was nuts! Not only that, I realized I was within 30 miles of where a bird had flown into my bike a few years ago. That bird was alone. It was on the side of the road and just flew directly into my flyscreen. It was as if it meant to do it. At the time I chalked it up to depression. Poor bird. Now I get it. Those stones on my boots were actually grasshoppers. This area is so loaded with grasshoppers that these local birds are able to feast all day. Later in the day, these big fat birds try to take off like they normally would but don’t realize they have gorged themselves to twice their body weight. When they take off they don’t have that lift they are used to and WHAM-O! Dead bird.

I pulled over to literally get my head together at this old trading post. Unfortunately, it was closed on Sunday.

With no damage to my helmet and a fresh pair of earplugs inserted, I was on my way again.

I have noticed over the years that more and more hotels in the United States are being run by Indian families. I don’t know what to think about that but it comes with additional reading material.

The skies were looking dark again as I crossed into Iowa. I stopped at the welcoming center where they had a museum and historic buildings like this cabin below.

There were numerous artifacts in the various buildings.

The one-room schoolhouse has become an unintentional theme on this journey. Here was another old schoolhouse.

I asked the lady at the front desk if this wanted poster was real. She said as far as she knows.

This wooden culvert was of interest to me because there used to be one that looked just like it running into the East River back in NYC. When I first noticed it at low tide, I thought it was really old. Now I see it was probably from the 1940s. Unfortunately, the one back in NYC is gone now. Wiped out by hurricane Sandy.

I stopped in a small town with brick roads to make some rain gear adjustments.

Every once in a while I find a statue of liberty in a small town.

I always stop for an old service station.

I met a funny guy at the gas station. He told me that he met one of his best friends at Sturgis. He said that this good friend was a woman but kept insisting that they were just friends.

I returned to the National Motorcycle Museum. I hadn’t been here for a few years.

I had planned on visiting the museum on my way west. The murder at a local campsite I mentioned a few posts ago isn’t far from here. As a result of that campsite cancelation, I changed my route and missed this museum.

Many of the bikes here are the same as I had seen in years past.

Even if you have seen them before, some of these bikes are works of art. The eye never tires.

I am not sure if Hooper’s bike had joined Captain America the last time I was here.

The bike below is from another Peter Fonda biker movie called The Wild Angels.

The Wild Angels was actually Peter Fonda’s inspiration for writing Easy Rider.

An old Triumph with a Von Dutch paint job.

An original Von Dutch helmet.

I remember the first time I saw this monstrosity was on a poster (like that black and white photo on the wall) at Deals Gap back in North Carolina. Here is the real thing.

That Vincent Black Shadow engine is another masterpiece.

Steve McQueen’s Indian.

This has always been my favorite. The Brough Superior.

This Supercharged Vincent Black Shadow.

Here’s Johnny! A ’53 Triumph Thunderbird like Brando rode in The Wild One.

This panhead below is up for raffle. Hmmm.

A few miles down the road from the motorcycle museum I came across yet another one-room schoolhouse. This one holds the claim to fame that a young Grant Wood attended school here.

This part of Eastern Iowa does sometimes look like a Grant Wood painting with it’s rolling farm hills.

Finally, the inevitable Mississippi crossing was ahead.

On the Illinois side, I saw a sign for a covered bridge. It was here that I first noticed a difference in folks. As I stood here taking this photo three cars passed. I waved at each passing car and not one person in any of the three cars waved back. One dude stared at me like I was nuts. Welcome to the East Coast.

I wanted to stay on small two-lane highways. A detour brought me to the town of Rensselaer, Indiana where there were many murals.

Rensselaer really doesn’t have any regular commerce traffic coming through. It is in a very remote part of the state. It was surprising and amazing to see all this art.

I continued east. After crossing Route 66 I came across this round barn. I have only seen a handful of these as I’ve traveled the states.

I rode all the way to Mansfield, Ohio. I was tired and wanted a bed. I figure the Quality Inn would live up to its name. Not so much. This hotel was not run by an Indian family. It was run by an African American family, or maybe a bunch of families. Kids were running all over the lobby when I got there. In and out of doors, screaming and hollering, having a blast. It was rather chaotic. There were adults meandering about as well. It seemed like a family reunion. I went to the desk. The guy was not very friendly, but I got my room key. When I got to the room I saw a Do Not Disturb sign on the door. I thought, Hmmm. Maybe I had better check again before entering. So I went back to the front desk. The guy said, “Someone probably just left that on the door. No one is in that room”. So I went back, opened the door, and saw a dark room with the TV on and a pair of feet hanging off the bed. Fortunately, the person didn’t wake up. That or they were too freaked out to move. Either way, there was no conflict. But damn! I went back to the desk and the guy seemed put off that I was asking him to give me another room. In the morning I went to get breakfast. I was trying to get some coffee when some lady came in and yelled at me. That’s broken! OK. I recognized her from the night before in the hallway. Then she returned and slammed a thermos of coffee down.

This nice couple was sitting there having their breakfast as all this was going on. We got to talking as we packed our bags. We giggled about the ‘quality’ of the Quality Inn. We actually talked for a while. Sadly, I have let so much time pass that I have forgotten some details. I think his name is Bill and somewhere in all my stuff is her business card. I found it! Sally! She is a Veteran and a major rider! She’s been everywhere on her motorcycle. He was on a Harley trike. She was riding an Indian Scout. They were headed home to Kentucky.

Amongst the many other fine qualities at the Quality Inn, they pointed out the pool sign that draws you into the place.

Then there is this sign blowing in the wind, taped to the door. Pool closed.

My real reason for being in Mansfield was a desire to revisit The Ohio Reformatory.

This is the place where they filmed Shawshank Redemption.

You can do a self-guided tour and explore pretty much the whole place.

I saw a guided tour go by and they seemed to be going through some doors that I didn’t have access to.

The balcony above was not accessible. Notice on the wall before the doorway to a cell it reads, “Forgive Me”.

Aside from the massive tiered prison, there are administrative offices.

Below is the warden’s office.

This view shows a cardboard cut-out of the sadistic guard.

In the movie Shawshank Redemption, Brooks is set free. He works in a grocery store bagging groceries and lives in a hotel. His hotel room was actually a set made up in one of the rooms of the reformatory.

After a quick bite with the fellas, I continued across Ohio and into Pennsylvania. I decided I would snake my way northward and meet up with my old friend Route 6.

In Titusville, there were quite of few of those old big money homes.

This sign memorializing John Heisman was displayed right next to a football field where a high school was practicing.

Back on Route 6, I felt comfortable. It is such a nice, lazy east/west highway crossing Northern Pennsylvania. The lonely two-lane highway is a relief from the hustle and bustle of the east coast that I felt after crossing the Mississippi River.

After dealing with rain throughout the day it seemed like it was going to be a clear night. There was even talk of a possible aurora borealis sighting on this last night of my journey. I decided I would camp out at the darkest place in the east, Cherry Springs State Park. I had been there twice before in the past. Both times it was cloudy and I was the only one in the entire camp. I was psyched to see a nice starry night. When I arrived at the campsite, it was fully booked! What the? Luckily there was another campsite about 6 miles down the road.

There was only one other occupied site at this campground. Some young folks were there. I had a drink with them and chatted a bit. There was definitely a generational divide. One kid wearing a Grateful Dead shirt was amazed that I saw the Dead with Jerry Garcia. Is there any other way? The sky didn’t disappoint. It was dark and there was no moon for most of the early night. I saw many shooting stars and satellites.

In the morning I packed up my gear and had some coffee. I’ve had that knife, spoon, and fork set since I was 9 years old. I got it at a Boy Scouts store they used to have in NYC. As I remember it was right on 5th Avenue.

This old feller below has been through some changes. It was once a long bus with the shed attached. The shed behind it has been completely replaced and the bus has been halved.

Below is a photo I took in 2008.

I rolled along Route 6 and saw a sign for the oldest house. It is indeed an old house built in 1780.

There was a guide who took me and another family throughout the house sharing generations of detail.

I always love a good mannequin setup.

In the frame below is the discharge paper for a Union soldier after the Civil War.

Behind the old house was once a canal and a railroad. Even further is the Susquehanna River.

The journey ends with a rainbow. I apologize for the long delay in writing this post. I have also mentioned the artwork I am doing. I have been busy. In fact, I just finished another mural in Brooklyn. There was also a huge ride down to Florida this past Spring that I didn’t post. What can I say? More to come!

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