Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

They Say That You Can Never Go Home. But, Here I Am...

After our trip to Vermont, we did a lot of hanging about. Joy took Momma to the doctor to check out the hairline fracture she had gotten on her little finger, the first day I was there. Afterwards, Momma came by and spent some time at the house.

Momma and I, sitting on Joy's patio...

The following pictures are random shots from the next few days:

A baby bluejay which had fallen out of the nest. Momma Bluejay followed him around for a couple of days until we lost track of him.

My favorite breakfast-time activity...

The baby bluejay is on the stick behind sSteve's chair.

Proof that at least one person is paler than I am. Sean and I comparing "tans"...

I ordered this repeating rubber band gun for Sean, while we were in Vermont. It arrived in Monday's mail, and we had a good time shooting it.

My mileage at the start of the trip home...

Eventually, all good things come to an end, and I needed to head back to Denver. So, I left Mercer at about 7:30 on the morning of July 4th, and headed west on I-80. I wanted to take a different route back, in order to avoid the I-70 madness between Columbus and Indianapolis.

First gas stop, outside of Mansfield, OH

I got off of the Interstate at Mansfield, Ohio, and got on US-30. It was a good road, and the scenery was relatively pleasant, for Ohio. I made pretty good time, but the heat was building. All along the way, the bank thermometers were showing 97 to 99 degrees, and the sun was beating down.

By my third gas stop, in Monticello, Indiana, I was pretty dehydrated, and getting a bit goofy. I didn't realize it until I had to go inside to prepay, because the pump wouldn't take my card. I sort of got into it with the clerk, and suddenly realized what was going on. I apologized, profusely, got my gas and something to drink, and took off, again.

At that stop, I texted Joy that I had made it 300 miles, so far. About 20 minutes later, after my drink had gotten into my system and my brain started working right, again, I realized that I had actually gone 400 miles, I just couldn't do the math in my addled state.

I made sure to stay better hydrated, after that!

I had to get off of the US highways, in Illinois, and take I-57 south to Champagne/Urbana in order to pick up I-72 (which becomes US-36 at Hannibal, MO.) At Decatur, Illinois, I stopped for gas and had the most aggravating experience in a convenience store.

I went inside, after gassing up, to get a drink and a snack. I got a Diet Mtn Dew and some peanut butter crackers, and went to the front to pay. There, a gentleman had three 18-packs of Keystone light, and was asking if there was any more in the back. (It was on special.)

The second clerk walked up, and the gal checking out Mr. Keystone Light told her to go get him three more packs. Meanwhile, an older guy got behind me in line.

Clerk #2 comes back with the beer, sets it on the counter, then walks to her register. As she does, I start to move that way and the old guy behind me sprints over to the counter to pay. Clerk #2 just looked at me, and started ringing him up.

Meanwhile, the Keystone Kowboy has paid. I start to move forward, and then he says, "I need some help getting this out to my car."

So, Clerk #1 just grabs some of his beer and carries it out. Meanwhile, I'm still standing there, waiting to pay, and the old guy is chatting up Clerk #2.

So, I just put my stuff back and left. No-one seemed to mind...

Anyway, that got my adrenaline up to the point that I decided to just go ahead and ride to Hannibal, another 140 miles away. I really wanted to get Illinois behind me.

My reward to myself for making it to Hannibal in a day...

The next morning, I checked out of the motel, and talked to a Harley rider from Canada. He had been planning to rider to Decatur, get on old 36, and take that to Indy. I told him about my experience with that route, on the way east, and he decided to plot another route.

Fueling up in Hannibal. Notice that I took my jacket off to get gas. I was already pretty damn humid, at 8:00 AM.

Once I was moving, the riding was pleasant. The sun was out, but the temperature was much lower than it had been the day before. Missouri flew by in about 4-1/2 hours. I drank water at every stop, and took it easy. I knew that there was no way to make it home, that day, as tired as I was. But, once I passed Cameron, MO, I knew that I was under an easy day's ride from Denver.

I ended up stopping in Oberlin, KS, for the night. I had planned on staying in a new, "nice" hotel, but I saw the Oberlin Inn and RV Park, and checked it out online. The reviews were good, so I got a room there.

My bike in front of my room. The other rooms in the little building were storage, so I had no wall mates. It was nice and quiet!

I was somewhat charmed by getting an actual room key.

Downtown Oberlin

One of the things I really like about the small towns in Kansas, other than how friendly everyone is, is that most of them have retained their historic look. Brick streets and old storefronts greet you in almost all of those towns, if you leave the highway corridor and go to the Business District. 

Just past that red truck, in the second picture above, is The Reload, where I ate dinner. Pizza and sandwiches ... I had a cheeseburger and fried dill pickle chips. The condiments were in squeeze bottles, and the Coors Beer was ice cold, and both of those facts pleased me.

After dinner, I went back to my room and decided to make myself a cocktail. 

When I'm on the road, I usually drink my whiskey in some Diet Coke. It allows me to have as much drinking time as usual, without drinking as much whiskey. I didn't have any ice in my room, so I walked across the street to the gas station convenience store to get a large fountain drink, with a ton of ice in it. Once I had it, I walked up to the counter and ... realized I had left my wallet in my jacket pocket.

In a moment which was the polar opposite of my experience in the convenience store in Decatur, one of the clerks told me to not worry about it, and she paid the $2.58 for my drink out of her pocket. (Good ol' Kansas!) So, I walked back to the room, got my wallet, and rode the bike back over to the store. (I was tired of walking.) I gave her $5.00, and told her to keep the change.

Later, as I was sitting outside, drinking and swatting skeeters, a truck drove by on 36, and I watched the front driver's side wheel fall off of it, and it continued a few yards in a shower of sparks. The driver pulled off to the road between the gas station and the motel, and made a rather loud phone call describing his predicament to someone I think may have just sold him the truck.

The wheelless truck. You can see that the wheel didn't come off of the hub, but the steering assembly has partially detached.

By the time I finished my second drink, a tow truck had arrived and loaded the truck up and hauled it off.

After a great night's sleep and a refreshing shower, I walked over to the office for the Continental Breakfast. The eating area had a dining table, rather than small individual tables, like a boarding house. I had a bagel with cream cheese and a cup of coffee, then grabbed another cup of coffee and some peanut butter crackers (finally got some!), and went outside to sit and have my "second breakfast". 

After that, I went back inside for a third cup of coffee, since I was in no hurry to get on the road, being only about 250 miles from home. I met the owner, sitting at the table with one of his cronies, and talked for a while. Definitely a colorful character!

A couple of hours later, and I crossed into Colorado (which isn't really very colorful, there). A little over two more hours saw me back in my driveway.

I forgot to get a picture of my odometer at the house, so I took this shot at Fermaentra, which is two miles past my house. If you go back and look at the mileage when I left Denver, and do the math, it comes out to almost exactly 3,000 back to try driveway. And, by almost exactly 3000, I mean 2999.8!

Safe and sound, happy as a clam

Despite my concerns, the pin striping on the gas tank came out undamaged, even though I stopped putting the cloth under the tank bag after the first day.



At 7:12 PM , Blogger Pondero said...

Amazing trip, and so full! All that mileage and you sound (and look) like you enjoyed it. I know you well enough to say you are sharp as a tack and a thinker. So where is your mind during so many miles in saddle?

At 7:45 AM , Anonymous Jon said...

In a galaxy, far, far away...

Seriously, I really enjoy the alone-time in the saddle because it does allow me to think for long periods without interruption. I write songs, solve problems, worry about stuff and whatever. It's kinda like when you lie in bed, waiting to fall asleep, and you start free-associating, only I do it for two hours at a time between gas stops (barring weirdness like traffic or weather).


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