August 25, 2012 was my first time going to the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, WI. We had 7 bikes total, 3 girls and 4 guys. I love riding with my friends and having a cool destination like this made for a mini-vacation that I’ll cherish forever. A day trip can really contain a lot of activity and a lot of memories.
The day started with meeting Ross (for the first time) in my neighborhood, then Joe and Vicky came to meet us as well. Troy jumped in with us off a ramp on I355. Then we strolled up north (including one potty stop for Joe), where we met Nancy and our ride leader Jim (first time meeting him as well).
We took off about 10AM and headed to Uke’s Harley Davidson in Kenosha, WI. I really liked this dealership. They have lots of everything: bikes, motorclothes, gifts, parts and accessories. I picked up some pin locks and a dress shirt on clearance (economics ya know). I was outside having a drink and putting my pin locks on a few pins on my vest when I went to my bike and was ready to roll out, I found a cute little bag on my ignition… Vicky had bought me a new bike bell as I had lost my old one. It had a spider and spider webs on it. Such a sweetheart she is.
From Uke’s we took some back roads into Milwaukee and Troy knew of a place called The Safe House. I’ll write more about it in the eatery section later but let me just say, this is a “must visit” place. You enter through the back alley, there’s a secret bookcase where you have to pull the lever to open the door and get in, and there is so much inside that you’re looking around the whole time. We took the secret telephone booth to a hidden underground passage and thankfully there was somebody on the other side when we came back through cuz you can’t get out (except to exit to the alley and go all the back around and inside). And for sure, you have to go in the girls bathroom – I won’t give it away but you must go in the girls bathroom. Oh yeah… and the steak I had was amazing – that’s right, we did eat – nearly forgot with all the fun inside.
After The Safe House our ride leaders were shall we say ‘discombobulated’, perhaps too much good food and shenanigans. We took the “scenic” 5 mile route through Milwaukee to travel 1.5 miles to the museum – hey, bikers are never lost, they just take alternate pathes. 🙂
For me being a first time visitor and a highly visual person, sitting at the light waiting to turn into the Harley Davidson Museum had me a little awe struck. The massive expanse of the property with its gloss black brick and steel beam structures made me feel like a kid going to Disney World.
There were several dozen bikes there when we arrived and looking around you saw a plethora of bikers: all nationalities, all types of clothing, and types of bikes. A bike loaded and packed to the gills sat just across from where I parked. As I passed the bike, which was full of road grime and bugs, I saw strapped to the top of the pack a vest with a club patch from Ireland. Another gentleman I ran across later had ridden down from Canada and I noticed license plates from at least 5 other states. Needless to say, the Harley Davidson Museum is one of those places you just have visit for history sake, even if you don’t ride a Harley, there’s a lot to be absorbed and appreciated in the realm of motorcycle history.
Within the museum we saw a modest collection of bikes from the past, old documents and information from he beginning of the Harley heritage, working demos from the engines that highlight Harley technology, a demo of the welding robot used on the production line, a wall of tanks showcasing the tons of signature paint colors over the years, and a back room full of more bikes from each year Harley has existed and then some.
I enjoyed the Hollywood room that held memorabilia from motorcycles in the movies and I especially got a kick out of seeing the poster for “She Devils On Wheels”. My roommate and I ran across this movie earlier this year on cable and it’s a total cult classic. A funny watch for a night of beers and boredom.
The Harley history of racing room was pretty cool too. Seeing images of the original ‘patched’ groups that kicked off our love of belonging and camaraderie gave me a sense of pride. I stood in that room looking at the pictures of past groups and the old vests and patches and I thought to myself how blessed I am to have over 330 riders in my group, people that I didn’t know yesterday and love more and more today and tomorrow. These people have not given me a sense of purpose as I have discovered that on my own, but they have made my purpose worth while and have made me successful in that purpose. Seeing those pictures flashed image in my head of the thousands of pictures I have from different events with different biker friends.
And of course, I would be remiss if I forgot to mention the kiddie section where I sat and colored a pretty picture with a sweet little girl that wouldn’t talk to me at first. She was there with her Dad and Mom and I’m sure she was little leary of this 5’11” lady sitting at a kiddie table, knees to my chest practically, hogging the crayons – well I wasn’t hogging them, but she didn’t want to reach for them. I handed her a few crayons from the container, and I asked her if I was doing a good job on my drawing. She shook her head yes and slowly she warmed up as I asked her if her Daddy rode a motorcycle and she said yes, I asked her if she will learn to ride a motorcycle someday and she said yes, and as I got up to leave I extended my hand to shake and she looked back at her Mom whom told her to shake hands. I held her hand for a moment as we shook and I told her, “Girls can ride motorcycles just as good as boys, so when Daddy teaches you to ride, you be safe and have fun.” The most words she said to me followed, “Do you ride a motorcycle?” I said, “Yes I do. I ride a Sportster and I love every minute of it.” She said, “You have fun too.” I smiled at the Dad and Mom and rejoined my friends with a bit more warmth in my heart. (Side note: as I walked around after that, I saw her on the electric kiddie motorcycle and she smiled and waved to me.)
Then we encountered the pro-type room with all sorts of schematics and drawings from various bikes and the clay body styling used to develop the V-Rod. This is how they molded the body parts around that kick-ass engine and frame.
I especially enjoyed watching the welding demonstration; a robot that seamlessly welds the frame and smooths the finish.
After that, we hit the test rides… Being that my journey will not be comfortable on my old girl, I have been considering the Street Glide for a few months now. Their demo bikes don’t run, but are on movable mounts. I climbed on the Street Glide and was instantly in the seat of luxury but still with a bit of style. I’m not a girl that’s into the full dresser, so this bike has a bit of everything I need. I tossed it around as best I could on that dern mount and watched the big screen in front of me with rolling hills and twisty turns and for a moment I was lost – except I couldn’t hear the rumble or feel the wind. NOTE TO HARLEY – put wind machines in the front of the screen and put some audio in that joint.
Upon exiting they have a sign-in book. Most of my crew had already signed it by the time I got over there, cuz I take my sweet time reading, exploring, and taking pictures. I had yet another moment of pride as I approached the book. Joe had drawn a huge spider web and put the ULRB stamp upon the book. For these people that have only known me a short time, they sure do love me. I sit here typing this with tears welling in my eyes. To see these people leaving the ULRB mark and to know that I created that group gives me more pride than I explain in words. I have always believed that it takes all kinds of people to make the world go ’round, and I know that I am not the average broad, so my life philosophy and my acceptance of people has clearly served me well. If you judge a person solely on their looks, on their attitude of that moment, on their career, on their troubles, or any other individualized trait, then you are certainly missing out on some great people that could potential enrich your life forever. You must give people a chance, you must know more about then before you can judge, and you must remember that you too have traits that could be undesirable – and where would you be if everybody wrote you off cuz of just one little thing?
We did the tour of the Worn to Be Wild leather exhibit and all in all it was cool to see the fashions of old, the new fangled leathers being worn by the stars, the Sears catalogs with leather jackets at $9.80 and sales receipts for custom chaps at $5.40.
We hit the MOTOR restaurant for a beverage and the gift shop where I bought my weather proof map of Route 66… quite possibly a mission for my journey (or at least in part).
On the ride home I saw The Bunker in Waterford, WI, a place my friend had told me of before. I yelled to Troy that I wanted to go there. He zoomed ahead and turned the group around. The place is totally cool and has so much military paraphernalia it’s like a museum on its own. We hung out a bit and just at dark we continued our journey home. In the cool dark night, riding through Wisconsin and back into Illinois, I lost myself in thoughts of missing these people when I leave and I daydreamed about some of them coming out to find me on my journey. I thought about the lonely miles and I thought about the sites out there that I have yet to see. I thought about my son, my grand daughter, my friends and family… And I thought about ME. I’m not perfect not even remotely close, but I am perfectly blessed and I know that where ever my journey takes me, I will find more great people in the world and I always know that there are great people to come home to.
SPONSORS that give 10% of Purchases back to The BROAD when you enter “BROAD” in the coupon code.
Rider’s Claw – Hold your Tunes & GPS on your Harley or Metric Cruiser in high quality style & craftsmanship; custom for your device.
Nailmaille – Gorgeous, Unique, and Heavy Duty Jewelry made with Stainless Steel Nails.
Fox Creek Leather – Fine American made leather products for riding horses (furry or steel) and much more.