It’s Been Too Long

Ten months is way too long. I know that the last trek didn’t have a happy ending. I know that the entire year of 2020 was a challenge for everyone. If you are anything like me, NOT travelling for almost an entire year was pure torture. It’s over! Well, it’s over enough that I can finally get the two wheeler out, pack the bags with way too much stuff and see what’s beyond the bean field in my back yard.

This year’s plans are mostly about the Ol’ Man River. Why not start the exploration with a journey to the headwaters? I’ve been to Minnesota but have never seen where the Mississippi River really starts. That’s where we put the pin on the map. I say “we” because I am riding with a new road warrior this time. I’ve known him for over 30 years. We just never had the right opportunity to share an adventure. You will see pictures of Mason and his super nice Street Glide sprinkled through the coming day’s journey.

Did I mention that I was anxious to get rolling? As usual, I didn’t sleep much last night.

For those of you that are analogically challenged (is that really a phrase? It has nothing to do with anypart of the human body!):

What more needs said? I’m taking clock pictures very early in the morning so I don’t wake anyone else in the house, especially Dave, the cat. I’ve finished the last load of laundry which contains some clothes I want to take on the journey. I swore I was not going to take any external baggage this time. Every little spot on the bike is packed full and there are a couple more things including the sometimes necessary jacket. So, you guessed it, out came the bag. A promise to myself – already broken and I haven’t left my living room.

All I had to do was to strap it on the bike and throw a jacket in it. It was still dark outside as I walked to the motorcycle palace. Wait a minute — why is the ground soggy? Why am I splashing water with each footstep. That can’t be right. I waded out to the bike and retrieved a flashlight which lit the way to the broken hose on the swimming pool. OMG. I promised my wife the pool would be ready before I left on this trip and now it was spreading itself all over my back yard. Broken promise number 2. I’m quoting one of my favorite YouTube Channels – Vice Grip Garage when I say – I did the right thing and pretended I never saw it.

That’s not true really, I told her the fiasco in our back yard and explained what needed to happen. My wife puts up with a lot and it appears that she has accepted this challenge also. To preserve my sanity, I didn’t take a picture of the mess that 2,000 gallons of water can leave when it’s not contained.

The sun finally came up and with my extra external bag secured on the bike, I headed out to the agreed-on meeting point which was a little over an hour from my house. I had cleaned my bike up but it was still no match for the black Street Glide which appeared shortly after I arrived.

Waiting on Road Warrior #2
Mason and his SG – right on time.

We had over 200 miles to cover today and didn’t waste any time hitting the pavement. Indiana like many other states, becomes orange barrel central in the spring and summer. We had investigated the DOT website and were sure that we had plotted a route that did not include a single orange sign or barrel (how naive). The “Road Closed” sign couldn’t be referring to the road we were on. It had to be left from some long ago completed project. Nope. It was true. Well, Indiana is just a big grid of county roads all laid out in nice squares so we turned right, went north a couple of miles then turned back west. All we had to do was get beyond the construction zone, take a left and get back over to our original route. Google Maps said construction ends here – nope. Another jog. We ran out of choices and the way back to our original path was a mile and a half of loose gravel. Hey – at least I didn’t promise. I did use a couple 4 letter words that the intercom didn’t pick up thankfully.

Smooth sailing, right? Wrong! Who invented the machine that grinds (or mills) the roadway surface down 3 inches and then leaves squiggly ruts? This person obviously hated motorcyclists. Fortunately, that only lasted about a mile and we were back on smoothish blacktop. (Expansion joints – UGH!).

We had been rolling over 100 miles and pee-o-meter said it was time to stop. OK – lets combine this break with a light lunch. Wrong! The place we stopped was close enough to Illinois that it was on Central time and we could only get breakfast because it was only 10:30 AM. So we ate a decent breakfast. I didn’t really want eggs, I wanted a burger. Better luck next time.

Lunch — er, I mean breakfast.

We were still 170 miles from the hotel. Set the cruise somewhere near the speed limit (kind of). We were all set to polish off the miles in 95 degree heat when something appeared on the horizon. It wasn’t an orange sign this time. It was two giant letters perched high in the air — DQ. My will power was broken, My diet was history (at least for the moment). The motorcycle refused to pass another Dairy Queen. I made Mason pull in too. He wasn’t going to get by with making me look bad for eating ice cream alone. Hey – did I mention it was 95 degrees?

Cool down completed, we rolled the last 50 or so miles into East Peoria. The Fairfield Inn had been running the air conditioner in our rooms and I was really appreciative. My room was cool enough that I didn’t want to leave for dinner but hey I’ve already blown the diet.

Tomorrow is another day. 270 miles are behind us.

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