The Final Chapter
Sunday, July 22, 2007
The Final Chapter
We’ve been home for a week, and have had a chance to reflect on our adventures.  Following is a recap of what worked and what didn’t -- and what we’d change if we did a trip like this again.
1.    Vehicle
    Harley worked surprisingly well without any mechanical problems that would have left us stranded.  Ron was worried about sustained high speeds, but Harley loved to run all day at 4,000 rpm.  There were no oil leaks, either. We did install a new set of mufflers in Chicago.  The rear muffler baffle had come loose inside the muffler and was making a rattling noise.  Ron changed them only because the rattling was annoying.  Other than that, Harley was great!!!!!  He just needs a bath, some TLC, and an oil and filter change.
2.    Cameras, computers, phones, and “techie” stuff
The Canon Power Shot SD600 camera worked great.  After a little learning curve and set up, it was just point and shoot.  Also, it was very small and would fit in a shirt pocket.
The Canon ZR 500 camcorder also worked great, but, except for some video while driving, we didn’t use it much and probably could have left it home.  If we had some sort of handlebar mount, it would have been fun to do more video while driving along the older parts of Route 66.
Perhaps our favorite item was the camera tripod.  We could wrap it around a fence post or whatever, snap either camera on it, and shoot!!  It took up very little space in the backpack.
Cathy’s MacBook laptop worked the best, connecting to the Internet wirelessly at motels, or with our smart phones.  Uploading pictures and video was a snap.  Posting almost every day to the website and editing pictures was so easy.  Ron had built some aluminum side panels for the MacBook soft case, which were held in place with Velcro tabs.  These panels protected the computer from any twisting while packed in the backpack.  The screen for would surely have been damaged without them.
Our Phones
Although Ron sometimes got frustrated with his Palm Treo 700W, we would have been lost without it.  The moving maps were great, and even showed Route 66 and mileages.  The phone always worked, and we used the web to find motels along the way.  It also connects via Bluetooth to Cathy’s MacBook and doubles as a wireless modem, allowing us to post to the website when we didn’t have any other connection.  However, the charging port on the phone did short out and we couldn’t charge it.  We had the phone replaced under warranty at a Verizon store outside of Oklahoma City.  (Ron thinks it shorted out because it was was being charged while driving and the vibration in the saddlebags may have loosened its connection.)  Next time, we would probably use an AC charger and an inverter, so we can charge on the road or in the motel room.
Cathy upgraded to a new Blackberry global phone while we were at Verizon.  We used it on the last part of our trip.  It has all the same features as the Palm Treo, and, in some cases, it works better., We can use it in Europe, too.  With all our techie stuff, we managed to stay connected to the Internet 24 hours a day!!!!
Motorcycle Headsets
Our Cellular Line bluetooth headsets worked well, but, with Ron’s bad hearing and the wind noise with the open-face helmets, it was difficult to have a conversation at speeds much over 60 mph.  At low speeds, they were great, with Cathy as navigator.  The headsets also worked well with our cell phones via bluetooth.  Ron could answer the Treo phone while driving by just saying, “Hello.”  Cathy’s phone worked even better.  She could make a call as well as answer one using the voice recognition features built into the Blackberry.
3. Luggage
The SMC backpack we bought a few years ago worked great.  We were able to carry the computer, cameras, chargers, maps, Route 66 info, tennis shoes, and two days’ clothes for each of us -- and still keep the weight to about 30 pounds..  The pack slips over the backrest and attaches with quick-connect straps.  
We bought a small American Tourister cosmetic case from Wal-Mart that was another one of our favorite items.  It is a soft bag that holds all bathroom stuff, medication, Band Aids, glasses, etc.  When unzipped, it hangs up in the motel bathroom area like our own portable medicine cabinet.  We kept it strapped to the outside of the backpack with a cargo net.  
We used a regular black garbage bag (lawn and leaf size) over the packs when it rained to keep everything dry.
4. Saddlebags
We kept water, tools, Harley document, and miscellaneous stuff in one bag, and phones, wallets, the charging system, maps, etc., in the other.
5. Clothing
We did a fairly good job of choosing clothes for the trip.  Two outfits each just meant wearing our swimsuits every couple of days while we did all of our laundry at a motel.    Ron just might leave his jacket liner and vest behind.  He didn’t use them after the first day, and they took up space in the backpack that could have held his chaps on really hot days (like in Death Valley). Cathy says she’d probably leave the fringe off her boots -- after one day at highway speeds, the fringe curls up and the boots look like they belong to one of Santa’s elves.
6. Following the Route
We did our best to follow Route 66 turn-by-turn directions left by those who went before us.  Early in the trip, it became obvious that some flexibility is needed.  Often, the stretch of road we planned to use had deteriorated to dirt and gravel, had been flooded or unstable, or was otherwise impassible.  Sometimes, we had to opt for the freeway (sometimes the modern replacement of Route 66) to avoid bad weather or make up lost time.  
Trying to find every piece of the Mother Road -- in its three or four different alignments -- is a major undertaking, not a month-long summer trip.  We covered most of what is left, and we enjoyed the ride!
The only place we wish we could have cheated is through Los Angeles.  Being caught in traffic gridlock from Santa Monica Pier to Rialto almost killed Harley.  Next time, we would probably do this stretch at about 3:00 am -- or find a way to airlift the motorcycle over the city!
7. Cost and Mileage
We travelled about 7,000 miles (6,988) in 27 days.  That’s an average of 259 miles a day.  Considering that we spend two nights in Rialto, two nights in Chicago, and five days in Tennessee -- and had one ride under 100 miles in an Oklahoma thunderstorm -- that’s a decent daily distance to travel.  Cathy found 250 to 300 miles reasonable, but once we got past about 360 miles in one day, she started looking for the closest airport.
Because we chose to do this trip on a motorcycle, the only item that fit on a “budget” was the gas.  We spent a total of about $500 on fuel -- averaging $3.30 for 151 gallons, and 46 mpg.  Some stretches obviously got better mileage than that, but long rides on less than optimum pavement cut down the average.
Our cost per day was about $130, with half of that allotted to motels.  The other half ($65) covered meals, snacks, park and attraction fees, laundry, souvenirs, etc.
We wanted the daily Internet access, so camping or cheaper motels were out of the question.  Also, the simple pleasures of a coin laundry, color television, free continental breakfast, and air conditioning certainly gave us the rest and relaxation we needed to face the next day’s ride.  Because of this, we probably wouldn’t change our lodging arrangements next time.
Actually, everything we put together worked well.  We don’t think we would change too much when we do this again!!!!!!!
NOTE:  We will archive the entire record of this trip in the near future.  It will be available as a continuous story.