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Posts Tagged ‘harley museum’

Harley's line Lake front road

Harley’s line Veterans Park

Many of you know riding is all about the camaraderie of the group.  For many it’s the main draw of having a motorcycle.  Fortunately we’ve got a great group of riders with years of experience and haven’t had the kind of chaos that can be associated with large group-riding.

That’s important because navigating around Milwaukee is like being a pro-snowboarder on Black Diamond bumps that go up, and those concrete cracks that go down and then being shot out of a half-pipe to change directions in mid-air.  I’ve never, ever seen Interstate, streets or roads so bad.  They are horrible!

The 110th post card photo

The 110th post card photo op

I ask folks about the roads and they would claim “allocations for street repair have gone up every year.”  My question is where did all those funds go?  Harley-Davidson doesn’t need a test track.  They can just drive across town and based on the conditions of the road check to see what fell off, was worn out or destroyed!

But, I’ve digressed…

The only thing that could have drowned out the V-twin roar in Milwaukee was the music.  Wow, five years ago, 45 bands played the Summerfest grounds across two days.

Summerfest

At Summerfest for Kid Rock Concert

This year for the 110th, Harley-Davidson added an additional day plus 21 more bands.  The motor company also expanded the number of headliners. Instead of building a separate venue in Veterans Park, as it did in 2008 for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and Foo Fighters, Harley opted for more headliner options, with Toby Keith on Thursday, Aerosmith on Friday and Kid Rock on Saturday.  Then H-D leveraged the Marcus Amphitheater for even more musical acts to play on five stages.

Pano of Milwaukee Skyline

Pano of Milwaukee Skyline

And they say classic rock is dead?!  Sure, not only are the children of the baby boomers pushing thirty, but there’s a whole new generation of kids who have never experienced free-form radio or sitting in front of the stereo listening to full length albums, and if you’re even in the slightest into music then Milwaukee was nirvana.

Near the Art Museum at Lake Front

Near the Art Museum at Lake Front

I captured a video of ‘Wille’ G., Bill Davidson and Karen Davidson, thanking all 110th Anniversary attendees for coming and they provided an introduction to the exceptional Kid Rock concert which also featured John Fogerty, but there was so much more.

There was the Doobie BrothersZZ TopDierks Bentley and Brantley Gilbert.  There was Chance the Rapper and Springsteen-inspired punk group The Gaslight Anthem.  The “Sons of Anarchy” star Katey Sagal, performed with her band The Forest Rangers.

Group at the H-D Museum

The group at the H-D Museum

And many local area acts ranging from Celtic punk group Whiskey of the Damned to Gabriel Sanchez and the Prince Experience. There was even a Mexican pop rock band Moderatto, which played at the Miller Lite stage.  There were acts including Shooter Jennings and North Mississippi Allstars who were booked for performances at the Harley-Davidson Museum and the bands such as Sick Puppies and Puddle of Mudd who played at the free street parties.

Bridge near H-D Museum

Bridge near H-D Museum

I’ve listed just a few and if that wasn’t enough competing with itself, the local Harley-Davidson dealers had bands playing all 3-days, including Aaron Lewis of Staind at the House of Harley-Davidson and Grand Funk Railroad at Hal’s Harley-Davidson.

Our group went on the factory tours and talked with H-D reps about Project Rushmore, the 2014 model year touring bikes that received significant refinements to shortcomings that us owners have lamented for years. H-D has encapsulating over 2,400 new part numbers, and customers were sourced for input on updates that included liquid-cooling, touchscreen GPS, infotainment, improved venting, aerodynamics and ergonomics.  The new touring motorcycles have a lot to offer and props to H-D for rolling out enhancements beyond the typical new paint schemes!

Pano of the H-D Museum

Pano of the H-D Museum

We also pre-purchased tickets to experience the museum which featured the first known Harley model in existence from 1903.  The museum has a truly fascinating collection of bikes, displays and some curious homage to Harley’s influence on pop culture and racing.

Inside the archive area of the H-D Museum

Inside the archive area of the H-D Museum

The history tour doesn’t gloss over the AMC troubled times as they were as much a part of the motor company’s legacy as were the high points.

Prior to departing the city we stopped at the Miller Brewery and enjoyed the tour, refreshments and talking to one of the workers who was working the weekend doing a network upgrade.  We got the inside scoop on the number of cases each employee has for a monthly allocation as well as where the employee pub is located for afterwork libations.  Sounded like a fun job!

The brewery tour.

The brewery tour

If you were unable to make the ride home to Milwaukee it’s difficult to realize the full scope of the celebration from a couple of blog posts or photos.  Our group was fortunate to have participated in the event and being there provides a unique perspective on how welcome and appreciative the residents of Milwaukee made us feel.  Sure I ranted a bit about the roads, but the highways were absolutely jam packed with Harley’s of all shapes and sizes pointed towards “home” in honor of a company for the most part that has excelled for 110 years.  Not many can say that about their history!  Regardless of where we live or where we ride, there were a few days in 2013 that bonded us all together with the heritage of a HOG.

Since 1988, Harley-Davidson started throwing these hometown birthday celebrations every 5-years.  The 110th has to be one for the record books in terms of attendees,  fewest accidents, number of musical acts and from my vantage the number of smiles on attendee faces.

Thank you H-D for a great 110th celebration!

Thank you H-D for a great 110th celebration!

Thank you Harley-Davidson for a great celebration and here’s to another 100+ years!

The 110th Anniversary Homecoming – Part 1 (HERE) and Part 2 (HERE).

110th Anniversary Accident Stats:  The final numbers are not published yet, but I found these initial statistics encouraging.  Approximately 100,000 riders arrived in the Milwaukee metro area over a 6-day (Aug 29 – Sept 1) celebration timeframe.  There was an average of 4.9 motorcycle accidents per day.  There were 28 motorcyclists transported to the trauma center during that timeframe.  There were no reported deaths.  Wisconsin is a helmet-optional state.

Photos by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Idaho Praraie

Somewhere in Idaho…

Five friends, 2200 miles, 15 fuel stops, and Ten Sleep Canyon – priceless!

Sure it’s a nod to MasterCard, but priceless experiences are better when shared and now that I’m back from some extended work travel that is my intent.

It was a sunny Saturday (August 24) and the leather-clad group rolled east like Pacific Northwest thunder to where more than 100,000 motorcycle enthusiasts were expected for the Harley-Davidson 110th Anniversary festivities in Milwaukee.  

Looking down on Jackson, WY

Looking down on Jackson, WY

The group had laid out a casual route plan, but embracing total spontaneity of the open road to see where ever the wind might take us wasn’t really in the cards for this trip.  We did eat when we got hungry, slept when we got tired and would drink refreshments when the bikes were parked at a motel for the night.

Three of us in this group had made a northern journey in 2008 for the 105th Anniversary (HERE), but on this trip we decided to take a more southern route.  That meant a lot more freeway travel and covering some very familiar road for at least the first 500 miles.

Pano of Grand Teton's

Pano of the Grand Teton’s

Boise, Idaho was like déjà vu all over again, (weren’t we just here?) and we must have been thinking about that Toby Keith song, I Love This Bar & Grill because we landed at the Reef restaurant again.  We met a couple Canadian float plane pilots at one of the pub stops and shared some interesting stories.

Grand Teton's

Grand Teton’s

The next morning we departed Boise after a McD’s power breakfast and headed toward Jackson, WY.   We initially planned to take Highway 20, through a desolate place known for the National Reactor Testing and then maybe a quick stop at Craters of the Moon National Monument.  Climbing down a lava tube sounded like fun, but it was another incredibly hot day.  Too hot to be walking around on black lava in motorcycle gear so we took the faster route and continued on I-84/I-15 to Idaho Falls.  

Heading toward Ten Sleep

On Hwy 26 riding toward Ten Sleep

From there we rode out on Highway 26 to Swan Valley then rode on Highway 31 (Pine Creek Rd) through the Targhee National Forest into Victor, ID where we picked up Highway 33/22 (Teton Pass Hwy).  This road took us through the western end of the Teton Pass and southern part of Teton Valley.  There were some great views!

We overnighted in Jackson, WY., which has a cowboy theme about the place.  Downtown has a daily gunfight and there are a lot of shops to spend $$ in if you like the tourist thing.  We had dinner at the Rendezvous Bistro which had outstanding food and to die for Meatloaf!  Strongly recommend the place if you’re in the area.

The next morning we headed out on Highway 191/89 and admired the majestic mountain view of the Grand Teton’s.  The park gets over 4M visitors each year, but the traffic on this day was light.  We stopped for a couple of photo ops, but continued on.  We were leaving the “high-country” and at Morlan, we took Highway 26 east and rode toward Riverton then on to Thermopolis.  There was a sign when we entered that said it was “the world’s largest hot spring” and is situated in a state park.  We stopped for lunch at a local dive that was having issues with the grill vent.  The entire place smelled like an open BBQ, but the burgers went down well.

Pano of Ten Sleep Canyon

Pano of Ten Sleep Canyon

We continued on to Ten Sleep Canyon.  Once a little known backwater, Ten Sleep is today a premier limestone climbing area in Wyoming.  

The Posse at Ten Sleep Canyon

The Posse at Ten Sleep Canyon

At Worland we rode out on Highway 16.  It’s called The Sweet 16 for being the easiest route to Yellowstone Park due to the gentle curves and lower grades.  This 92 mile corridor is a great ride and should be added to your bucket list.  From the town of Ten Sleep, US 16 leaves agricultural land and heads east along Ten Sleep Creek and through a spectacular canyon.  The canyon is filled with vivid colored limestone and dolomite rock walls and the cliffs take on a life of their own with shapes and faces.  The road continues into the Big Horn Mountains, which offers up lush grasslands, alpine meadows and glacier lakes.  The road crosses over the Powder River Pass at an elevation of 9,666 feet and then makes a steep descent (6-7%) into Buffalo.  There we rode on I-90 east and overnighted in Gillette. 

This riding day was truly a highlight of the road trip in my view and one that is most memorable.  It was filled with lots of mountain eye-candy, painted desert and Wyoming wonders.

The 110th Anniversary Homecoming – Part 2 (HERE).

Post Script:  I neglected to include a shout out to MC who couldn’t make this trip.  He and Sherry were excited to make the journey “home” and planned to ride out and join our group in Milwaukee.  Unfortunately MC was hit by a driver (HERE) who was trying to beat a red light while attending Shark Week III in St. George, Utah in early August.  We missed you MC and all of us are looking forward to future rides together!  You can follow MC’s recovery progress HERE or on his blog HERE.

Photos taken by author. 

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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H-D Museum - MilwaukeeI missed this news flash while on the road last week, but Bill Davidson, the current VP of Core Customer Marketing and great-grandson of the motor company founder was “promoted” to the flagship position of Museum Director.

Huh?  Twenty-six years at the company to become the head honcho of factory tours and the Harley-Davidson museum?

Personally I’d find it to be a cool gig, but can you imagine the conversation at the next family BBQ gathering with Willie G. and Jean Davidson?!  What’s next from the fancy-pants bean counters and marketers?  Put Willie G. in charge of re-styling the employee café?

Did the H-D museum not reach its full potential or is this a continuation of the “hack-n-slash” which CEO, Keith Wandell seems fond of as he moves the “old guard” out?  Maybe it was Mark-Hans Richer (Sr. VP and CMO) deciding a guy like Bill running the company’s core marketing just wasn’t throttled up enough?  Change is good, right?  Bill retains his executive management status as VP of the H-D Museum and Factory Tours.

More important is Bill’s replacement who starting in June, will be Stacey Watson.   Ms. Watson will lead marketing for ALL of H-D customer segments across N.A.  No easy task.  Ms. Watson will hold the title of Sr. Director of Consumer Segment Marketing.  Assuming positive results this is surely a segway to the board approving a VP title later in the year.  I’m not taking anything away from Ms. Watson experience or accomplishments as she was instrumental in the design, development, construction and launch of H-D museum.  Having visited this marquee facility I’m hopeful that Ms. Watson can do for marketing what she accomplished at the museum.

Let’s hope that Bill will continue to infuse the energy and passion of building out motorcycle exhibits, create educational programs and reaffirm the role of the museum with Harley riders around the world.  One suggestion is to replicate on a smaller scale a west coast museum in Las Vegas.  There are a lot of people visiting ‘sin city’ with disposable income and given all the motorcycle styling influences which came from nearby California it would be a unique showcase for them.

Photo’s taken at H-D Museum.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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1939 National Safety Ad

1939 National Safety Ad

If you type Harley-Davidson motorcycle accidents into Google you’ll get about 180,000 hits.  Thousands of the hits are motorcycle accident lawyers “hawking services”, attorney blogs evangelizing the merits of taking irresponsible drivers to court or injury sites masquerading as “free advice” backed by an attorney who wants another client for that once-in-a-lifetime “lottery” product liability case.  Gives the legal industry a bad rap.

No one wants accidents to happen and my sincere condolences to the family and friends in all these accidents.  I use the word accident loosely because too often there is nothing the motorcyclist does or did incorrectly to contribute to the incident.  Here is the latest report from around the area:

  1. 09/15/08 – Motorcycle vs. Vehicle Injury In Clark County
  2. 09-05-08 – Fatal Motorcycle Crash on I-5
  3. 09/02/08 – Motorcycle Crash 500 block of N. 8th Street in Lakeside, Coos County.
  4. 08/01/08 – Motorcycle Operator Dies from Injuries Sustained in 7/29/08 Crash near Canby
  5. 07/29/08 – Critical Injury Motorcycle Crash – Highway 99W south of Canby
  6. 07/20/08 – Fatal Traffic Crash – Highway 11 at Athena Junction
  7. 07/12/08 – Fatal Traffic Crash – Highway 730 near Boardman
  8. 07/02/08 – Serious Injury Motorcycle Crash – Highway 20W near Santiam Pass Summit

I’ve previously blogged on Oregon accidents HERE (April-June), reported on Senior Drivers HERE and reported on alcohol related motorcycle accidents HERE.

I personally reject and am against government intrusion on a regular basis, but I would support the idea of mandatory first time endorsement training like taking the Team Oregon safety course.

Ride smart and sober!

Poster art work photo taken at and courtesy of HD Museum.

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Miller Brewery

Miller Brewery

The main set of 105th Celebration events are over – now what?  First off a shout-out to Harley.  They know how to throw a party and no one serves as a better host than the people of Milwaukee.  To put on an event of the 105th  size, takes commitment, organization, time, resources and of course, a great product so thank you Harley-Davidson!

It’s Sunday, August 31st, our final day in Milwaukee and it left us thinking about what we neglected to do.  It seemed the only items we opted out of besides the parade was a cheese tour (I had cheese on the way out..) and donating to the Wisconsin Red Cross Blood Drive!  It’s unlikely they would want our blood.

Miller Operations

Miller Operations

Instead we set the day in motion by heading over to the Miller Brewery.  We heard about free samples and knew it was going to hit the mid-80’s again.  To say the Milwaukee weather cooperated for the 105th Anniversary celebration is an understatement.  It was down right awesome.  A bit warm and humid for those of us from the Northwest, but better than we could have hoped for.

Plank Road

Plank Road

We brought our love of beer and stopped at the Brewery tour! We watched the 10 minute video and walked up and down the 4 blocks of the tour.  By the time we hit the Brew Kettle’s I think the gal was just hoping we’d go directly to the R&R area.  It’s an interesting time in the brewery biz.  Anheuser-Busch recently merged with Belgian-Brazilian brewing company InBev for $46B…yes that’s BILLION.   And back in 2002 South Africa Breweries bought Miller Brewing Company and called it SABMiller.  Then in 2005 Coors merges with Molson and then this year SABMiller and Molson Coors entered into a joint venture to form MillerCoors. 

Miller Brewery Girls

Miller Brewery Girls

A long way from the days of when Frederick J. Miller brought his passion for beer to the U.S. and settled in Milwaukee in 1855 where he bought the Plank Road Brewery.

Like all the people we met in Milwaukee it was no exception to find interesting and nice folks at the brewery too.  We sat for a good while and enjoyed our refreshments then said good-bye to the Miller High Life!

On a whim we decided to try a Harley-Davidson Museum drive by.  None of us received tickets to the museum as part of the lottery system, but we thought at least we could hang out on the grounds or if lucky score an open back door. 

HD Museum

HD Museum

The museum is located near downtown and is set on 20 acres of land which is surrounded on three sides of the Menomonee River.  It looks like a part of town that is getting ready for urban expansion and HD will be one of the major tenants of the renovation.

We parked the bikes and did a little fact-finding only to be rewarded with tickets to enter the museum.  Scored!

The museum truly should be on any Harley-Davidson motorcycle owners list of things to see and absorb.  The museum’s steel and glass exterior has an urban elegance and almost seems out of place in this area of town. 

HD Wall of Tanks

HD Wall of Tanks

The exhibits are unique and the stories of those who lived the HD life are remarkable.  From the recreation of the 1920’s board track, to serial number one of the first HD built in 1903 to the “King of Rock”, Elvis Presley’s 1956 KH motorcycle to the extensive and rare collection of vintage advertising and riding gear to the replica of Easy Rider.  Something for everyone.  The “tank wall” is a photographers dream come true! 

All of this only a couple blocks away from the luxury boutique hotel aptly named the Iron Horse Hotel.

In my mind there are two kinds of people in this world:  Those who ride Harley-Davidsons and those who wish they did. That’s not a slam on other motorcycles just a viewpoint after meeting and talking to numerous people on our two-wheelin’ journey “home”.  

Jumped on a plane Monday morning, I take a moment to reflect.  The Ride Home and 2576 enjoyable miles later along with an awesome multi-day music celebration comes to a close…110th anyone?!

Interested to know more about our “Ride Home”?  Read the road blogs for: Day 1 HERE, Day 2 HERE, Day 3 HERE, Day 4 HERE and Day 5 HERE.

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I read an article about the Harley-Davidson Museum which was accompanied by a photo of the “Captain America” bike in the movie Easy Rider (1969). 

It’s unclear if the film was essentially a western with bikes replacing horses or a post-classical Hollywood male-bonding LSD joy ride.  No matter what your viewpoint, the film was added to the U.S. National Film Registry as having been deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.” 

However, this post isn’t about how everyone should go down to your local video store and rent Easy Rider to be a rebel.  It’s about how some family’s are severely touched by demons and despair in large quantities that’s unequal to the general population. 

For example, earlier this year the Easy Rider producer and lawyer, William Hayward died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  He was 66-years old and the suicide occurred in a trailer where he was living in Castaic, CA, an unincorporated area near Los Angeles.

William “Bill” Hayward was the youngest of three kids and born in 1942.  His growing up years were chaotic. There were several moves between California and Connecticut with the last to Greenwich, Connecticut, in 1948 after his mother, Margaret Sullavan was divorced from Leland Hayward. Sullavan wanted her children to have “normal” childhoods, and isolated them from the “evils of Hollywood”. The children lived in a separate house with a nurse (nanny) and a cook. A tutor taught Hayward and his siblings at home for the first few years of their life. When they were older, his sisters, Brooke and Bridget attended Greenwich Academy a private girls school, where Jane Fonda was a classmate. Bill Hayward and Peter Fonda attended Brunswick, a boy’s school around the corner from Greenwich Academy.  Interestingly is the fact that Sullavan was married to Henry Fonda for less than a year in 1931.

In the fall of 1953, the Hayward children (Brooke, Bridget and Bill) all left home to attend boarding schools. Brooke attended Madeira, a private girls school in McLean, Virginia; Bridget went to Gstaad, Switzerland and Bill to Lawrenceville in New Jersey. Brooke attended Madeira her junior and senior years, graduating in 1955 going on to Vassar and Yale.

Bill’s mother, Margaret Sullavan died of an accidental drug overdose January 1, 1960. At the time, both Bridget and Bill were patients in a mental asylum, Austen Riggs in Stockbridge, Massachusetts and Menninger’s in Topeka, Kansas, respectively. In October 1960, Bridget Hayward died of a drug overdose just 8 months after her mother. Leland Hayward died in 1971 at home, after an extensive hospital stay following an unsuccessful surgery.

At one point and according to Brooke Hayward’s bio, she was married to husband number two, Dennis Hopper, 1961-1969; they had one child, a daughter, Marin. And as you likely know Hopper worked closely with Peter Fonda (a long-time Sullavan/Hayward family friend) and Bill Hayward on the movie Easy Rider.

Bill Hayward also produced “Haywire” (1980) for CBS, an account of his mothers suicide based on a memoir by his sister Brooke.  In Haywire, Brooke wrote of a conversation she had with Bill in which he said if he ever committed suicide, he would do so by shooting himself in the heart….which is exactly what he did.

This was a family whose talent was unfortunately outshined by its demons.

 

Replica “Captain America” bike photo by Randy Leffingwell and courtesy of the 1969 Easy Rider film.  Photo taken at the Harley-Davidson Museum.  (the two originals were destroyed during filming, according to museum literature).

Haywire book courtesy of Amazon.com

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