You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

Frank Gray

  • Paulding reports big-cat sightings
    It’s not necessarily a case of who’s hunting whom, but over in Paulding County, Ohio, there have been reports of a big cat – a really big cat – lurking in the woods and fields a few miles southeast of the county seat.
  • ‘Never give up’ is warrior’s way
    Travis Mills was a staff sergeant on his third tour in Afghanistan on April 10, 2012, when he stepped on an improvised explosive device.
  • D-Day tokens find their way home
    Last spring, we ran a column about a woman named Joanne Schultz-Ithier and the fact that she had been invited to the dedication of a monument in the little village of Tamerville, France, honoring her father and other Americans who had been shot down
Advertisement
Frank Gray | The Journal Gazette
Gary Lewis of Huntington recently finished his tour of the four corners of the United States.

4-corners rider sees changing America

Taking a trip around the country on a motorcycle definitely offers a different view – and a different smell – of America.

Just ask Gary Lewis of Huntington, who just finished an epic tour of the country on his Harley-Davidson.

We wrote about Lewis last month when he left on what is called the four-corners ride, a trip that takes you to the most distant four corners of the continental United States. It’s a ride that can be as long as 10,000 miles, and more people have climbed Mount Everest than have completed the ride.

A lot of motorcyclists have contacted me, wanting to know more about Lewis’ ride and whether he did complete it, so I contacted Lewis for a look back at his trip.

What he told me is that he experienced some of the scariest times of his life, some of the nicest, some of the friendliest and some of the smelliest.

One of his first experiences was at the border crossing between Canada and Maine. He’d ridden through Canada because it was the quickest way to get to the first corner at the tip of Maine.

“Even the customs man knew what we were up to,” Lewis said. “He said, ‘You’re on the four-corners tour,’ and after that everything was different.” Lewis said the agent, apparently a motorcyclist himself, said he wished he could go with them.

Before long, though, Lewis realized the trip was going to be more dangerous than he ever expected.

“I saw more cars than I ever imagined,” said Lewis, who is used to rural areas. He points out “I’m in corn and beans and can get to Fort Wayne in three stop lights.”

On the East Coast, though, “People were doing so many things in their cars besides driving,” he said.

On one occasion, Lewis found himself on a four-lane interstate highway jammed with traffic traveling at 70 mph, and he looked over to notice “one guy talking on his cellphone with one hand, working on his computer with the other and driving with his knees.”

Lewis realized that if anything happened, he’d be done.

The trip, though, also gave Lewis a view of people he’d never had before.

“In 15 days I saw what goes on in the world. I never saw so much change,” he said.

In New Hampshire, he said, people were nicely dressed, and they were all about business. In Key West, everyone seemed to be dressed for a party. Texas was full of just plain hard-working people, he said, and in Oregon, “everyone was really laid-back.” They even pumped your gas for you, he said, the result of a state law that keeps alive a tradition that many young people have never seen.

He said he was warned by some husky, tattoo-covered Harley riders that one stretch was particularly hazardous. After dark, he said, “six men in a truck might decide they’re going to take your motorcycle if they want it, and nothing’s going to stop them.” The lesson: ride during daylight.

There was one stretch of desolation through Death Valley in which he rode 403 miles and encountered only three isolated convenience stores along the entire stretch.

California, home to Hollywood and who knows what else, stunned Lewis because of the amount of agriculture taking place, something he never realized.

And fish farms stink, he learned.

I couldn’t help but wonder, though. After riding 600 miles a day in temperatures up to 115 degrees, would he do it again?

To be honest, when he reached the end of the ride near the Canadian border in northwest Washington, Lewis said, he pondered turning around and doing the whole ride again in the opposite direction. But he had family at home waiting for him. Once would have to be enough.

Frank Gray reflects on his and others’ experiences in columns published Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. He can be reached by phone at 461-8376, by fax at 461-8893, or by email at fgray@jg.net. You can also follow him on Twitter @FrankGrayJG.

Advertisement