Home - Clean & Back - Day 16

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Day 16, Monday 17 August 1998

Today was a short driving day, the last one under 350 miles for the remainder of "Clean Across America And Back"; it seemed blasphemous for this Harley guy to be in Milwaukee and not leave time to make a pilgrimage to some of the shrines! So I left some free time at the end of the day in Milwaukee; anyway, my next refueling stop is over 200 miles down the road, so I didn't want to try to squeeze that in on top of today's schedule.

First I stopped in Chicago to refuel, gaining an hour as I drove into the Central Time Zone from Cleveland in the Eastern Time Zone. (I love traveling west; I also like the end of Daylight Savings Time. I think I'm actually a Martian; I seem to be tuned for a day that's about an hour longer than Earth's 24 hours!) They are going through some personnel changes at the Chicago Clean Cities Coalition, and I had had some trouble getting in touch with them in time for them to set anything up in terms of publicity. Many thanks to Bo Harrison, who heard me mention this difficulty when I met him in Ft. Worth, TX and gave me the name of a contact; and to that contact, George Krass of Nicor Gas of Napierville, IL, who put me in touch with the Chairman (an elected post, different from the Coordinator, I'm told) of the Chicago Clean Cities Coalition; and to that Chairman, Dan LeFevers of People's Gas, who met me at their Division St. refueling station along with Frederick Jakubowski and Dave McCracken of the Chicago Transit Authority.

Chicago station

This was a cardlock facility; there used to be some cash/credit facilities at Amoco stations in the Chicago area, according to my 1995 American Gas Association map booklet, but apparently they have been taken out of service. I just happened to pull up to the high-pressure dispenser (3600 pounds per square inch nominal fuel pressure, instead of the usual 3000 PSI), so they gave me the fullest fill-up I've ever had--well over 3600 PSI! The pressurized parts of my fuel system have a threefold safety margin or something, so I wasn't in any danger of hurting my vehicle, though it's not something you'd plan to do with a 3000 PSI (nominal) system like mine every day... I kind of wish I'd had this level of fill-up in the desert Southwest; but then again, that wouldn't have been an honest experiment, since that region was really the test of my range-stretching ability! Since I came north from Ft. Worth, TX, I haven't had to worry about range, nor do I expect to do so for the remainder of the journey (knock wood...), since there are plenty of stations along I-70.

entering Wisconsin

Next I continued north to Wisconsin, and pulled into Milwaukee about 1:30 p.m. I had planned to refuel there that afternoon, but it turns out it will be more convenient for the folks there for me to do so before I leave town tomorrow, so I'll change the schedule a little. It turns out they are planning a major publicity push in a couple of weeks, so they don't want to use up what media interest they can generate in the subject of alternative fuels in advance of that; if I had been able to make this trip in September, say to the Providence, RI meeting of the national Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition, I could have contributed to that, but oh well.

Harley-Davidson Capitol Dr.

Since I won't be refueling until tomorrow morning, and I got that monster fill-up in Chicago, I didn't have any driving-range qualms about visiting a couple of the Harley-Davidson pilgrimage sites in town. I was grievously disappointed to find out that they weren't giving tours of the engine and transmission plant on Capitol Drive today (photo above), and that I would have been too late for the last tour of the day anyway; I can't stay in town long enough to catch the first one tomorrow, either. Diana Heikkinen of the H-D Tour Center, I suppose, didn't like to see a grown man sniffle, or at least a grown man in a Harley T-shirt, so she graciously offered to set up and run the video presentation that is shown at the start of the tour, for an audience of one. Thanks very much! I don't know that I, properly speaking, qualify as a "Harley guy", since I have only put about 2000 miles under the wheels of Cheri, my 1998 XLH 883 Sportster; but when the video started out with the sound of a Big Twin firing up, my right hand started itching to roll a throttle too... Just hold out one more week, and I'll be back in L.A.! Some of my friends had urged me to pull out the rear benches of my van and take my motorcycle along in there (there's room--she's a big van!), but I'm of that conservative breed that feels that any motorcycle over about 750cc ought to be moved from place to place the way Nature intended: with two tires on the road. Trailer a Harley? Pfaugh!!

1998 XLH & 1954 KH

By the way, did I say yesterday that a 1982 Checker cab had "cool fiftiesmobile styling"? Well, which of the bikes in this picture is the 1999 XLH Sportster and which is the ancestral 1954 KH? (Okay, the alarmed display case is a clue, as are the disk vs. drum brakes...) It's amazing how little the basic looks of the basic Harley, the Sportster, have changed in almost half a century, even as the technology has advanced dramatically (the yellow KH has an all-iron flathead engine, for example, and the black XLH doesn't leak oil!).

Harley-Davidson Juneau Ave.

I also went looking for the old Juneau Avenue plant, site of the factory beginning in 1906 (in a much smaller building!) and today occupied by the corporate HQ and offices. Well, this has very little to do with alternative fuels, but I got my Harley less than a year ago, and you know what they say about the "zeal of the convert"! Yesterday and today will probably be my only days to play tourist, unless you count that evening drive around the Mall in Washington, DC; tomorrow it's back to the long stretches of highway, as I head back south and west.

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new 17 August 1998, revised 18 August 1998