Although we are not motorcycle enthusiasts because they are less safe than cars and cause a great deal of noise pollution, Trip Advisor reviewers rated the Harley Davidson Motorcycle Factory as an excellent tour. Our friend, David also insisted it was interesting even for non-motorcycle people like us, so we decided to check it out on our way to Frederick, Maryland.
Upon arrival, we knew we were in the right place when we were surrounded by visitors wearing various Harley Davidson t-shirts, vests, and hats. We sure looked out of place!
Harley Davidson does an excellent job of marketing. Name one other motorcycle manufacturer who markets their name anywhere near as well as they do. I sure don’t see much in the way of Yamaha or Honda t-shirts or belt buckles out there, that’s for sure. They have created an image and culture that American motorcycle enthusiasts have bought into. For that matter, so have the Aussies, Kiwis, and Japanese.
The factory we toured is 650,000 square feet and has 1,100 employees. On average, it takes 2-3 hours to assemble a Harley motorcycle; the tricycles take about five hours. It was fascinating watching the various steps required to roll one of those babies off the assembly line. (Photos were not permitted.)
The tour was indeed interesting. We are always fascinated by how things are created and produced. This tour did not disappoint.
We were surprised, though, when we looked at the specs. of the motorcycles on display in the lobby. How many miles per gallon would you estimate a motorcyle gets? I would have guessed at least 50; however, our Toyota Prius V actually gets more miles per gallon (46) than many of the bikes they produce. At 37-48 miles per gallon, I was proud to know that Scarlett (an SUV model Prius) is more of a gas sipper and MUCH quieter than those motorcyles. Good on ya, Scarlett!
Terrific tour number two was in Hanover at Utz, the makers of potato chips, pretzels, and other snack foods since 1921. I had never heard of Utz until coming to the east coast, because they are mostly distributed out here in thirteen northeastern states.
Although the tour at Utz was self-guided, it was terrific. After watching a film about their history and seeing all their products on dispaly, we continued on into a very long hallway on the top level of the factory. There were large glass windows lining the length of the entire hallway, and the action was happening right next to the windows. We were able to get a close-up look at the potato chip-making process, and see out over the entire factory from above. (Photos were not permitted.)
Along the hallway, there were signs posted about the process happening in front of that window, and there was a button we could push to start an audio explanation. When it ended, there was instruction to proceed to the next window.
We were able to watch the entire process beginning with the potatoes being off-loaded from trucks to conveyor belts, and ending with boxed bags of chips being forklifted out of the warehouse to the trucks.
Utz produces enough potato chips each day to fill 20 tractor trailers for daily delivery. Since it takes four pounds of potatoes to produce one pound of chips, try doing the math on the daily potato requirement to keep that factory humming!
The most interesting part of the process was watching the optical sorter. A light shines on the potato chips moving through the conveyor belt, and searches for potato chips that are too dark or spotted. When it “sees” one, it blows a puff of air on it that shoots the chip out to the side on another belt and sends it to potato chip hell never to be seen again. REJECT!
The good potato chips continue on to potato chip heaven getting bagged for eventual distribution. Before the bag is sealed, it is filled with nitrogen to ensure a longer shelf life. Nitrogen? Who knew? I’ll never think of a bag of potato chips quite the same way again.
Onward to Frederick. Today, we chose the road less traveled to get to our ultimate destination, so it was a pretty drive through farmland and small towns.
By the time we checked into our hotel and headed downtown, it was late and we were hungry (A few potato chip samples didn’t make much of a lunch), so we just took a quick look around for a preview of tomorrow.
Carrol Creek Linear Park is a beautiful area of downtown. They did a fabulous job with this mixed-use urban park that features an amazing mural on the Community Bridge.
The following is information I found online about the bridge at http://bridge.skyline.net/history/ :
The Community Bridge mural project transformed a plain concrete bridge in Frederick, Maryland, near Washington D.C., into the stunning illusion of an old stone bridge. Artist William Cochran and his assistants painted the entire structure by hand, using advanced trompe (“deceive the eye”) techniques. Many people walk by it and never realize they have been fooled. Once they grasp that the bridge is actually an artwork, visitors discover that there are mysterious carvings in the stones, images too numerous to count. They represent symbols and stories contributed by thousands of people from all over the community, across the country, and around the world. These co-creators have made Community Bridge an inspiring symbol of common ground.
In early 1993, artist William Cochran proposed the bridge project because of the structure’s strategic location at the urban center of the long-planned Carroll Creek Park, Frederick’s key economic development project. This linear park site is positioned along the symbolic racial and economic dividing line in the city. The park plan was stalled by controversy and disagreement until the bridge project engaged the participation of the community to build a symbol of common ground. It became a catalyst for revitalization and a symbol of connection and the spirit of community.
These are photos I shot of the bridge mural as well as the other bridges along the linear park:
There’s a Costco very close to our hotel and downtown, so we opted for another (very) casual dinner. I just love their large $3.99 Caesar salads!
I’m sad I have nothing unusual to report about this Costco, because unlike the one in Lancaster, this Costco did not have a horse and buggy parking shed. Bummer. That was really cool.