Make Sure you are Compatible for Motorcycle trips

motorcycle trips

Motorcycle trips are great, especially when you ride with a group, but as Jim and I have learned on our Travels with Harley motorcycle trips, not everyone is compatible. You may have a favorite riding buddy that you get together with for a day, but how do you know that your friend will be compatible on a long ride?

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If you follow the Travels with Harley blog, you will know how much planning is needed for long motorcycle trips including what you will pack and the route that you will take, however, one of the most overlooked motorcycle trip details is who you will be riding with. Jim and I are great traveling companions, but if you don’t have the luxury of riding with a group that you know or a friend that you can trust, you need to ask yourself just how compatible you really are.

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Riding Skills

If you are a bit of a daredevil, you want to make sure that your traveling companion is up to it. If you can navigate twisty roads with loads of curves, you will want to find a riding buddy that can handle it as well. The last thing that you want to do is slow down or wait for your companion to catch up. You can’t ask your riding buddy to pick up the pace as it can take away from the fun and could be dangerous.

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Budgets

Knowing each other’s budgets will prevent any problems on your motorcycle trips. If your riding buddy is on a tight budget your favorite five star hotel could be out of the question. Of course, you could share a room and split the cost, but if either of you snore, it may cause some serious issues.

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Meals should also be considered. If you eat like a bird and your friend enjoys three meals a day it could be a problem. Most importantly are the places that you choose. Everyone’s taste varies and if you are the type of person who likes to eat like a King, your riding companion’s fast food choices could be problematic.

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Touring Experience

If you travel quite a bit, like Jim and I do, you may take motorcycle touring for granted. If you are traveling with a novice, you may have to wait as your companion meticulously packs up his or her bike every morning. Worse yet, you may have to spend more time in the store than on your bike as your riding buddy shops for items that may have been forgotten.

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Personalities

Before you head out on motorcycle trips, make sure that you spend some time with your potential riding buddy before you venture out on long motorcycle trips. The two of you may get along fine in small doses, but what about on a long trip.

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Remember, motorcycle buddies can be friends for life, as long as the two of you are compatible. If you aren’t, your best weekend riding friend could end up being your worst enemy.

Motorcycle Camping in California

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For the past couple of weeks, Travels with Harley has talked about Motorcycle camping, and if you have been following our blog, you will have all the tips you need for a successful motorcycle camping trip, but you still need somewhere to camp. After some research, Jim and I discovered some of the best places in California for Motorcycle camping.

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Big Sur

Jim and I love Big Sur and have spent plenty of time there; however, we have never pitched a tent. According to other H.O.G. members, Big Sur has a motorcycle camping site that is just five miles down a little dirt road, which certainly keeps the tourists away. The campsite has awesome views of the Pacific Ocean and fire rings, but best bring your own water, as there isn’t any available. Also, be prepared to take your trash out and bring you own wood as it is illegal to gather it at the campsite. The sunsets are phenomenal and something that everyone should see at least once.

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Death Valley Saline Valley Hot Springs

Travels with Harley have talked about the incredible motorcycle road trips in Death Valley, but now we hear it is an awesome place to camp as well. The campsite is about 50 miles from any paved road giving campers two ways to get in, the south, and the north passes into Saline Valley. The North Pass was recently graded, but the south still remains grueling and will test your riding skills. Be prepared as it is a long way in if you have any problems. Make sure that you check out the Saline Valley Hot Springs and don’t forget to pack your necessities and bring plenty of water. Because of the heat, the best time to go is in the winter.

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Joshua Tree Hidden Valley

Another winter motorcycle camping spot that you won’t want to miss is Joshua Tree, Hidden Valley. If you want to enjoy the high desert you will love the campsite, and although it’s remote, it is well worth it as it is the most picturesque in the Joshua Tree Hidden Valley campsite, just make sure you watch out for rattlesnakes. Even if you camp during the winter, they are still plentiful in Joshua Tree.

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Nelder Grove Campground Western Sierras

If you love the giant redwoods in California, you will not want to miss the Nelder Grove Campground. You can get to the campsite by traveling down a forest service road that is dotted with Sequoia stumps that were left over from logging in the 19th century. You can actually set up camp around the stumps. Best of all, the Sequoia Grove is walking distance from the campsite. Be sure to walk the Shadow of the Giants Trail. The best time to travel to the campsite that has clean toilets and water is during the summer.

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Motorcycle camping can be lots of fun, as long as you are prepared. Make sure that you check out the Travels with Harley Camping Tips.

Happy motorcycle camping!

Motorcycle Road Trips in the fall

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Motorcycle road trips are great all year round, but especially during the fall, and now that summer is beginning to wind down, we thought we would share some of the best places in the country to get on your bike for Motorcycle road trips while enjoying the cavalcade of colors as the leaves start to change their hue.

Although the peak time to see the autumn leaves is between the end of September through the middle of October, we thought we would share a few Motorcycle road trips suggestions so that you can plan your ride.

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Jim and I have had the pleasure of riding through the northeastern states when we rode with other riders on the New England Trail Blazer ride last year. Although autumn hadn’t officially begun yet, we were able to catch a glimpse of early fall with the leaves just starting to turn. If you want to enjoy motorcycle road trips during the fall, New England is certainly a great place to start.

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The Scenic Route 100 in Vermont is stunning and one of the best places to start your motorcycle road trips in the fall. This popular tourist destination is known as one of the most, if not the most, scenic drives in the area and is part of what is called the, “Skiers Highway.” The byway is 138 miles long and takes you through Rochester, Hancock, Granville, Bridgewater, Ludlow and Plymouth as well as a few other towns that include Stratton, Jamaica, Londonderry, and Stockbridge. If you want to enjoy Motorcycle road trips this fall, the Scenic Route 100 should really be on your list.

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The Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee offer travelers a visual feast anytime of the year, but especially when the leaves start to fall. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has several Motorcycle Road Trips that you can take to enjoy the colors of autumn. Spend a few days in Eastern Tennessee on Motorcycle road trips and stay in a delightful B & B so that you can wake up to a gorgeous fall morning in the Smokies.

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One of our favorite rides in Tennessee is Cades Cove. Most of our friends enjoy this trip because the 31 mile drive is located in the western Tennessee section of the National Park and is the perfect place to enjoy early fall colors. From historic buildings to breath-taking fall landscapes and wildlife, Cades Cove should not be missed if you are planning motorcycle road trips this fall.

If you haven’t started planning your motorcycle road trips for autumn, better get a move on!

Things You Might Not Know About Harley Davidson

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Harley Davidson is a name known all over the world, but what even the most enthusiastic motorcycle fans may not know is how unique that history actually is.

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In 1901, William S. Harley created a blueprint for a motorized bicycle. In 1903, William and Arthur Davidson built the first bike that was made available to the public. A short time later, Arthur’s brothers, Walter and William joined the pair. William quit his job with the railroad in Milwaukee to become part of the Harley Davidson motor company.

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The very first Harley Davidson was built in a small wooden factory, 10 x 15 to be exact. The name was crudely carved into the front door.

The first buyer of a Harley Davidson was a friend of Arthur and William, Henry Meyer. Hailing from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he was the first person ever recorded to purchase a new Harley Davidson from the small wood factory in 1903.

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C.H. Lang in Chicago, Illinois set up the first Harley Davidson dealership in 1904, the same year that the first motorcycle was built.

Not one to rest on its Laurels, the company entered its first race a year later in 1905 winning first place.

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In 1906, Harley Davidson moved shop and opened its new plant hiring six employees. That same year the company released its first catalog. In 1910, Harley hired its first full time worker.

In 1910, Harley Davidson placed first in every race including speed, endurance and the hill climb.

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Janet Davidson was the first woman to sit on and ride a Harley Davidson. She was the Davidson brothers Aunt who helped with the pin striping and writing the name Harley Davidson on the bike.

Harley Davidson earned the nickname, “Hogs,” in 1920 because the race team used a pig as a mascot. After every win, the driver would lift a real pig on the tank and drive his victory lap. The Bar and Shield Harley Davidson logo was painted in 1911.

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Always a cult classic, Malcolm Forbes, founder of the magazine, loved the motorcycles so much that he owned fifty Harley Davidson’s and gave just as many away as gifts.

In 1998, Brazil became the first country outside of the United States to open a Harley Davidson factory.

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The most expensive Harley Davidson motorcycle, the CVO Ultra Classic Electra Glide, will set you back $40,000.

Great Motorcycle Trips Websites and Guides

Travels with Harley

By now, most people are getting weary of winter. Thoughts of spring flowers, warmer weather, and motorcycle trips on the Road King for a Travels with Harley trip are occupying my mind, and my time.

Travels with Harley

Over the past month, I have been checking out motorcycle ride websites. There are some very cool ones out there including the Harley Davidson Road Planner.

Travels with Harley

As Harley Davidson riders and members of the Harley Davidson Owners Group, lovingly referred to as H.O.G., Jim and I enjoy meeting others, going on Harley Davidson rides and seeing what Harley Davidson and other enthusiasts have to offer on the world wide web.

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I especially like the Harley Davidson Road Planner where you can build your own trip on the Harley Davidson website. This is a great way to plan your trip and take it with you on the road. You decide where you what to start, stop along the way and finish your trip whether you prefer a trip on Route 66 or are looking for something that has got some ferocious climbs and plenty of twists and turns along the way.

Travels with Harley

I did a search on Google for the best Harley Davidson websites and came up with quite a few that Jim and I will use when we plan our Travels with Harley motorcycle trips.

Edelweiss Bike Travel

The Edelweiss Biking Company is another great website where you can plan your motorcycle trip. With motorcycle trips around the world available at your fingertips, you can plan the adventure of a lifetime. All you have to do is select the continent where you want to plan your motorcycle trip, and Edelweiss will do the rest.

Open Road Journey

Open Road Journey is a website that is dedicated to modern day adventurers. Acting as a trusted guide, Open Road Journey has more than 6000 motorcycle trips on the site that have been ridden, honestly reviewed, and rated. Open Road Journey caters to beginners and advanced rides and is the place to go for inspirational motorcycle trips.

America Rides Maps

One of my favorite motorcycle trips websites, AmericanRidesmaps.com makes it easy to download a map and store it on your device, or print up a pocket sized one for those times when cell phone reception is nowhere to be found.

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HDLinks.com is a great site that points you in the right direction whether you are sourcing Harley Davidson leathers or looking for reputable Harley Davidson parts dealers. With over 1,720 links, you are sure to find what you are looking for when it comes to Harley Davidson and other Motorcycle brands.

Travels with Harley

I really hope that spring is around the corner so that Jim and I can get out and enjoy one of our many motorcycle trips that we have planned for 2015.

The Final Leg of our New England Trailblazer Tour

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As the New Year, approaches I am reminded how thankful I am for our family and friends and how much I enjoy our Travels with Harley. Before I write my final installment of our New England Trailblazer Tour this past September Demea and I would like to wish everyone a safe and prosperous New Year, now let me digress and get back to one of the best rides that we have had in some time.

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One of the things that I loved about New England was how clean the air smelled. It was brisk and fresh and made me want to go another New England Trailblazer Tour and a Travels with Harley ride sooner rather than later.

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As I said last week, I’m not that keen on big cities, but dealt with it as best I could. It was cold and we were hungry, but we were so tired that we really didn’t feel like stopping at a fancy restaurant so Demea yelped and found this Mexican grocery store with a grill out front. The two guys who were looking after the place didn’t speak English, but were able to understand our order which was four taco’s and a Pepsi served in a glass bottle.

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The meat was hot and grisly, so we just grinned and bared it. The day wasn’t that great as Demea and I both love our food and we didn’t have much that day.

We weren’t really in a hurry the next day, and that was probably a good thing, as it got really cold around midday. Both of us were tired and hungry and were seriously considering renting a truck and hauling the bike back, even after hunting for warmer clothes at a local store in Gander. Even though Demea bought a shirt, it wasn’t enough for the ride home.

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After having a bite to eat we decided that the $800.00 it would cost to haul the bike back wasn’t worth it. We warmed up, got back on the bike, and rode into Indy on our New England Trailblazer Tour before spending the night.

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We weren’t really in that much of a hurry the next day on our New England Trailblazer Tour and that was a good thing as it was pretty darn cold, not as cold as the day before thank God, but according to the forecast, rain was expected.

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We got within 20 miles of St. Louis on our New England Trailblazer Tour and it started to come down hard. We went into the Casey store to get some coffee and a pizza while Demea worked on her laptop. We were able to visit with Susie and Neal who own a couple of Sears Hometown Stores and three outlet stores. Everything happens for a reason and it was good to catch up and get advice and ideas for our business.

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After checking the weather and getting warm, we gassed up the Road King and headed out for the final leg of our New England Trailblazer Tour. Considering all the weather that we had to put up with, it was a pretty easy ride.

As we pulled into the garage, I checked out my trip meter and discovered that we had traveled 3740.9 miles on our New England Trailblazer Tour. That meant we had been through 13 states in 12 days.

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So, that is my take on our New England Trailblazer Tour…and although I may have been longwinded at times, it was sure good to reminisce. Thanks for joining us on our New England Trailblazer Tour journey and we’ll see you next year!

New Pipes for Jim’s Road King and a new Computer Chip Too

frontwallrideEver since Jim bought the Road King he has wanted to change the pipes, and about a month ago, he finally got around to it. A friend of ours has a Harley Repair Shop with a Dyno.

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For those of you who aren’t mechanically inclined, a Dyno, or Dynamometer, is, according to Wikipedia, a device that is used to measure the force and torque along with the power of your motor or engine, or any other prime mover. A Water Wheel or Steam Engine is a good example of a prime mover.

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Jay, the mechanic is awesome at what he does and has a great little shop that is 30 miles off the main path in the quaint little town of Rosebud, MO. With a population of 409, according to the 2010 census, Jay’s shop is always busy, not to mention that most shops don’t have a Dyno machine. His piece of equipment is so popular that Jay is often asked to take it to local events. Businesses can advertise Jay’s Dyno machine enticing riders to have their bikes tested for a small fee.

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Jay put on a Vance and Hines pro pipe on the Road King. They have a great sound and offer a more comfortable ride with not as much heat coming off. According to the website, Pro Pipe increases the torque, and I can attest to that. Equipped with 12mm o2 Sensor Ports the Pro Pipe is designed to address tuned motors that have been built for higher horsepower needs.

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Jim also had a computer chip installed on the Road King that boosts the performance with the high flow air filter. The combination of pipes, chip and air filter let the engine breathe better, sort of like putting headers on a car. All put together, he is really loving his bike a lot more. He’s getting more horsepower, loves the sound and it is running perfect.

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Jim and I went for a spur of the moment ride on Sunday with a retired military friend who we met a few years back. Bert brought along a few of his other retired military friends and we went for a nice ride. Although it was overcast, we still had a great time.

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It was nice to get out for a ride. Unfortunately, Jim and I had to cancel our Colorado trip. Work is really busy at the moment, and we just can’t take the time away, but I’ll tell you more about that next week. It’s been a long week and I’m exhausted…

Communication is the Key When you Plan a Harley Davidson Road Trip

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A Harley Davidson Motorcycle trip takes lots of planning. I like to research the stops along the way, search the eateries and hotels on Yelp and get a feel for the ride before we take off.

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Last year I first heard about the Kyle Petty Charity Ride and sent away for info for 2014. It looked like it was going to be an awesome ride hitting the road on our Harley Davidson from coast to coast for the 20th anniversary. When we received the info in January, I forwarded it to our two friends, Sidecar Mike from Idaho & Jon from Colorado. We had met them both on the Wild West HOG ride in 2012 and they had stopped to visit us on a Route 66 ride they took in 2013

Mike responded with the following: (The Kyle Petty ride was a no for him)

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I am thinking about a ride that I read about in the Hog magazine. Two peaks in Colorado above 14,000 feet and both are paved all the way to the top. Mt. Evans and Pike’s Peak. That should be a fun ride.

My wife and I rode through Rocky Mountain Park a couple of years ago. She got altitude sickness at the scenic overlook at 12,000 feet on that ride. We couldn’t stay long because I had to get her down off the mountain.

Jon also said no to the Kyle Petty ride, and responded:

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Mike I would be more than happy to join you on the two peak rides. I have done Mt Evans but not Pike’s Peak. Just let me know, as you are always welcome to stay at the house. Maybe the wife can come and get use to the altitude before going higher. Demea and Jim you are welcome to join us as well as I have plenty of room. Late last summer I did a CO Rockies ride for about a week and had a wonderful time. It would not take much of an arm twist for me to set one up for this summer.

Ultimately, we also had to say no to the Kyle Petty ride – we hope to join it next year (it is going on right now).

So….I asked if Mike had made definite plans and next thing you know I get this message from Jon:

Hi everyone:

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I am available the week of July13 if that would work with everyone. I would suggest everyone come to my house in Castle Rock to stay and we would do two-day trips. The first to Pikes Peak and beyond (my favorite day ride) and then Mt Evans and beyond (second favorite day ride). Then we could take off for three to five days depending upon how much time you have available. I have a couple ideas that would be fun. If there is a part of CO that interests you let me know. Remember I also have a Colorado ranch in Westcliffe, CO that if anyone wants to use it is also available. Check it out at fazendaranch.com.

Think about it and let me know.

Regards
Jon

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 As you can see it takes lots of planning, even when there are just a handful of riders, and this is only half of the messages that we had going back and forth. I can only imagine what the organizers must go through when they plan a big Harley Davidson bike rally.

Motorcycle Camping, Just Wishful Thinking I Guess

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After last week’s blog Jim reminded me that the last thing he wants to do is tow anything behind our Harley Davidson Road King. It’s funny how you forget things when you’ve been married for a while. If you have been following our blog, and if you haven’t, subscribe now at the bottom of the home page, you’ll know that we have a few trips lined up for the summer and early fall.

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We’ve got the New England motorcycle camping trip coming up, and the Colorado motorcycle camping trip. Speaking of which, I got an email from one of the guys will we be riding with. He seems to have a difference of opinion when it comes to camping on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Here is what Mike had to say,

Hi Demea,

I just read your Travels With Harley from 12 May 2014 where you talked about camping while on the road. Often times when I take off for a few days by myself or when I take a longer trip with my wife, Lynn, I like to pack all of our stuff in my little Escapade trailer made by California Sidecar.

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California Sidecar used to be in California, but taxes in that great state forced them to look elsewhere. The state of Virginia offered them a sweet deal in terms of corporate taxes so they moved east.

Back in 2001, I planned a motorcycle camping trip along the northern tier of states, and the three places that I have always wanted to visit. Vermont, Wisconsin, North Dakota would finish off my list of states.

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I didn’t have a trailer, but I wanted one for my two-up tours with Lynn. I searched for a good deal on trailers for our motorcycle camping trip and found ours at California Sidecar in Virginia. They offered this small trailer painted to match the 2001 Electra Glide® that I had at the time but they wanted $500 to ship it to Idaho. So I hatched a plan to extend my northern trip to include Virginia and pick up the trailer myself. They supplied me with the wiring diagram and wiring harness so I could just plug in the lights and hitch it up when I got there.

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Lynn’s family lives in Richmond and Lynn travels back east to visit her family every summer. My new plan was to ride across the north checking off the states on my list and then ride down the east coast to Richmond to meet Lynn. She and I rode to pick up my new trailer at the factory location in the middle of Virginia and then we toured some of the old Civil War battlefields that exist in the state.

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Lynn rode with me up to York, and on to Pennsylvania to visit the Harley® factory and then we continued northwest through the hills of Pennsylvania and into Ohio where I dumped her off at the Cleveland airport. I continued to take in the Bean Blossom Boogie in the town of Bean Blossom, Indiana.

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The Boogie has since moved from Bean Blossom to the town of Springville, Indiana. I had a wonderful time for three days, in spite of the rain.

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Having the trailer when you’re traveling two up makes the trip a lot easier. Obviously, it gets most of the weight off the bike and puts it behind you with a very low center of gravity. Pulling this little trailer with a big bike is no problem at all. Honestly, I don’t even know it’s there, but I can’t forget that it is, and I’ve got to leave plenty of extra room in traffic for stops or quick maneuvering. Finding a suitable parking spot can sometimes be a challenge. You always want to park in such a way so you can go forward. Backing up with a trailer is a bitch because when you turn your handlebars, the mirrors turn with them and then you can’t see the trailer or where it is relative to the bike or the parking slot.

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I estimate that I have pulled this little box for about 27,000 miles but I am getting to an age where I don’t like sleeping on the ground as much as I used to even with all of the goodies that I can carry with me. I will probably look for a buyer for it in the not too distant future. This picture was taken in Wyoming on Beartooth Pass, east of Yellowstone Park. Take care, Demea. Say howdy to Jim. —Mike

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Thanks for the email Mike! Jim and I always enjoy hearing other peoples stories, especially about things that we don’t normally do. Maybe it will have convinced Jim to give it a try!

Speaking of which, if any of you have stories that you would like to share, I would love to share them on my blog. Who knows? Maybe we will one day meet on another, “Travels with Harley.”

A Harley Davidson Motorcycle Camping Trip Has Been Added to the List

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I have to admit that when Jim and I venture out on the Roadking for a real trip, not just a day ride, we don’t rough it. We usually stay at a hotel or a cozy bed and breakfast before we take off for day. We’ll stop for lunch at a roadside pub or a diner, drive-in or dive that we saw on the food channel. DCIM100GOPROWith that being said, anywhere we stop has been researched on the net. I’ll check Yelp and other online review sites before we eat, drink or sleep.

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Maybe this summer Jim and I will decide to sleep under the stars after a long ride on the Harley Davidson. Camping on a motorcycle trip would be fun, but I know that Jim and I would have to buy a few things, make that quite a few things, if we wanted to wake up in the morning renewed and refreshed instead of grumpy and grouchy.

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I went online to see what would need so that I could come up with a budget for our Harley Davidson motorcycle camping trip. What I found made me realize that Jim and I have been living in the 20th century and we don’t have to give up comfort to enjoy the great outdoors.

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According to Soundrider.com motorcycle camping is preferred over hotels and motels when it comes to Harley Davidson enthusiasts. When you go on a Harley Davidson motorcycle camping trip you do not have to worry about checking in or checking out. You can come and go as you please.

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The first thing we would need is a good Harley Davidson motorcycle camping tent. The tents that were around when Jim and I were kids are a far cry from what is available today. Easy to pack, travel with and set up the top makers of light and affordable tents have made it easy to plan a Harley Davidson motorcycle camping trip. Apparently, a new 2-man tent available, which only weighs 4.5 pounds and is the lightest tent on the market. It can handle serious weather and is no larger than a football when packed away.

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I don’t like to sleep on the ground. I’m not a teenager anymore and I like my sleep. Jim and I would have to invest in a good airbed that would fit in our new tent and shrink down small enough to carry on the Roadking. After spending too much time online and not finding anything suitable, as traditional camping air mattresses, or even airbeds are too bulky and heavy, I found a few mats that when packed are smaller than your old school thermos. The down filled mattress is my favorite, as it will keep me warm up to 0 degrees.

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There are so many things that Jim and I need to buy if we decide to go on a Harley Davidson motorcycle camping trip. A stove and an ice chest is a must, but how the heck do you fit that on the Roadking?

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I guess I’d better get back to my research. At this rate, we might have to find a cute little trailer that we can tow behind the Roadking when we go on a Harley Davidson motorcycle camping trip. Now that’s what I call camping.