Friday, September 09, 2011

Where have I been?


I’ve neglected my blog for the last several days because I was on the road – a 3,045-mile jaunt up to Indianapolis for the MotoGP races and a ride west to spend time with Tim and Linda Balough in Alma, Colo.

I left at 6:18 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 26. I had hoped to leave a day earlier, but UPS foiled my plans by taking an extra day to deliver my Kathmandu riding pants. I’m glad I waited for them because they came in very handy later.

I rode first to Thorntown, Ind. to do a cursory check of our rental property there, then cruised down to the Indianapolis BMW motorcycle dealership for a free barbecue dinner and stunt riding exhibition. I spent the next couple of nights as a guest in Rich and Kim Nathan’s home in Southport while Rich and I took in the Saturday and Sunday sessions of MotoGP. The seats, courtesy of Jonesboro friends Charlie and Deb Parsons, were prefect. After studying the track layout, I concluded we had two of the best seats in the house.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I rode up to Crawfordsville Sunday evening after the final MotoGP event and spent the next three nights with Lauri and Jim Shillings while I did a more thorough inspection of the Thorntown house and took delivery of a new Garmin Zumo 550 GPS to replace the one I fried in my saddlebag in the hot Saturday sun at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

I headed west at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 31, stopping for a set of Michelin Pilot Road tires at Sportland Motorsports, the new BMW dealer in Urbana, Ill. It’s hard to make time when you spend more than three hours languishing in a bike shop that doesn’t even have a proper customer lounge, so I only got as far as Chillicothe, Mo. by the time I bagged it at the Econo Lodge there.

I spent the next day dealing with blazing heat in Kansas after pausing for a McDonald’s breakfast and Wifi to let a band of showers pass through St. Joseph, Mo. This was essentially a repeat of the trip I made at the same time in 2009 and I decided to revisit the Empire Motel in St. Francis, Kans. because I enjoyed meeting the young couple who owned the somewhat seedy old motel.

This time was different. The wife was absent (divorce?) and her husband had a new woman with him. They showed up about an hour after I arrived, apologizing because their car had run out of gas. He asked if I could pay in cash ($37.84) so he could buy gas and I obliged. The room was buggy and dinner at the Mexican restaurant down the street was disappointing. I won’t be coming back to the Empire Motel.

After days of hot weather – it was 104 when I reached St. Francis – I awoke Friday morning to the sound of cold rain. I gassed at the convenience store across the road and took off, wearing my new waterproof Kilimanjaro jacket and Kathmandu pants. I never found any serious rain in eastern Colorado, but it was chilly enough to force me to stop west of Cope and put the liner into my jacket. I gassed again where U.S. 36 meets I-70 at Byers and cruised on up to Alma, arriving about 12:15 p.m.

Tim and I had lunch at the South Park Saloon and I spent the next three days mostly hanging out and taking a couple of short rides.

Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, I headed home, leaving Chateau Balough about 10 a.m. and drawing rein about 6 p.m. at the Clarion motel in Garden City, Kans.

Wednesday was spent boring a hole in the wind until I reached Springfield, Mo. where I returned to the motel I’d visited two years earlier.

I left Springfield at sunrise yesterday – I hate riding east at sunrise – careening through traffic on I-44 before angling south and east toward home.

Maria had left the garage door open and I dropped my sidestand in the garage about 12:30 p.m.

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