Monday, May 18, 2009

Man, I'm a tool.

I promised myself that I was going to try and do this trip without ever eating at any national chain restruants . . . and already I'm at a McDonalds.  In my defense, I'm mostly here just for the internet access.  Which means it's time to spam you with pictures from the last few days.

Saturday, May 16th

After some last-minute packing and fabricating of stuff, including finally getting around to sanding the rust off of my highway peg holds (and then painting them), I loaded everything onto the bike and got ready to head out.

I didn't have space for much in the way of food, but I accepted these as a gift from my dad.  I'd gotten mostly accustomed to eating them while on the ice, but to be honest, they still taste like cardboard.  Although the Chocolate and Mint ones are better.

The starting mileage on the bike.  This is going to be going up quite a lot.

I headed south of Chicago and was greated with . . . your typical Illinois roads.

Yaaaaaaaaaaaay.  And it was cold, too.  The air temp was 65f or so, but at 60mph, that's damn cold.  I'm wearing my mesh Teknic jacket and kevlar-lined jeans, in anticipation of the hotter weather in the south, but at this point I was very much missing my yellow Olympia suit.

These things, though, are the reason that I take side roads instead of main highways.  You don't see this kind of stuff on an interstate.

I saw this, so I had to stop.  I mean, we all know how much I love weenies.

Mmmm, bratwurst.  Boiled, which is different then I'm used to brats, but still tasty.

I headed down the Illinois river, which was running at least a few feet high.  Really, I think they should purpusfully build paygrounds like this, though.  I mean, srsly, that looks like tons of fun.

As long as I stuck close to the rivers, the road was at least scenic and pretty.  Not really twisty, but (shockingly for Illinois), pretty smooth and nice.

Some people had planned for floods.  What I can't figure out, is why the heck is no one living here!?  I would TOTALLY live in that house.

And finally, my campsite for Saturday night, when I recorded that video.  Yes, it cost money, but I was cold and feeling lazy.  And it was pretty. 

Sunday, May 17th

I started the day with a breakfast on the camp stove of oatmeal and hot chocolate.  This little stove puts out so much heat that it's FREAKY.  In the time it took me to go have a pee, it had brought a pot of water to a roiling boil.  No real heat control on it, though.  Pretty much full on or full off. 

The roads were about the same as the day before, but getting better.  Slowly.  I actually waited until almost 10pm before hitting the road, just waiting for it to warm up a bit.  Even with three layers of shirts on below my jacket, 60mph was still cold.  I mostly kept it to 45-50mph.

And more people who'd actually seemed to think ahead about where they were building their house.

What always has struck me as strange about humanity is the relentless urge to beat nature into submission.  People love building houses right on rivers and things, and then freak out when rivers do what they usually do.  Which is flood.  So people go through INSANE amounts of effort to hold the river back, building dams, dykes, locks, and levees just so they can keep building their houses the same way they usually do . . . instead of just putting the house on stilts, and working AROUND nature, not trying to restrain it.  People are weird.

Anyway, it was still chilly, so around mid-day I stopped at a rest area for another snack of oatmeal on my psyco little stove from Hades.

I rolled through Quincy, right on the Mississippi river, and while getting gas I was amused by the carnage that had collected on my windsheild.  Damn.

Right next to the gas station, there were . . . GO CARTS!  :D

These guys were obviously seriously into this.  Whole pit lane full of high performance parts to make these things go a lot faster then I ever got to go as an 8 year old.

While I was standing there taking these pictures, I did realize the weirdness of the situation.  Here I was sitting on a 750cc, ~60hp motorcycle, and being envious of a bunch of kids buzzing around in little ~100cc go-karts.  Ah well.  I wish I'd been able to do that kinda stuff as a kid.

I kept going along the river, going past these at one point.


Ooooo, we wants to go exploring, yes we do.  But we don't, because it looks like these things are still being used.  Old/abandoned mines, is my guess?

I headed south, eventually coming into . . . Uh, whatever town it was that was the birthplace of Mark Twain, and the setting for a lot of his novels.  I can't remember the name of it, but EVERYTHING in this town was something to do with Mark Twain.  I took a break from the bike, and took a wander around to streach my legs.

I stopped into that little shop to get some carbonated high fructose corn syrup.  The were selling cans of soda for $0.50.  What the hell decade was this place stuck in, the 1990s?

I stopped into an Aldi to grab some supplies vital to any motorcycle trip

At this point, I've been popping Iboprofin like candy.  Ow, my sholders . . .

I kept going south, and then . . . then was where the road starded to get good.  Sadly, all I took was videos, which as I looked at later, I realized they were almost compleatly un-watchable due to all the dead bugs on my windsheild.  I'll see if I can upload them later.

After having an absolute BLAST on the roads (Anyone who's in this area, you NEED to ride Country Road W.  Hold dear god, it's heavenly), I started looking for someplace to camp.  I wasn't having much luck, so I asked a farmer who was watering his lawn.  He said that most of the land in the area was privately owned, but pointed me down this one road and said there were some clearings by the river that I could camp on.  

It was a great spot.  It really made me realize just how much better stealth camping is then campgrounds.  Besides the better price, it's quiet, you're not surrounded by people, you're not in proximity to a road and traffic noise . . . man, it was awesome.  I had a dinner of Chicken Noodle soup and peanut butter, and went to sleep.

Monday, May 18th.

Again, I didn't get an early start.  Today feels warmer, but I still waited for the chill to leave the air before heading out.  I was really low on water at this point, so I just stuck to hot chocolate and a cliff bar for breakfast. 

With that, I got packed and headed out. 

Now, I need to say something about the state of Missori


Maybe I'm just warped from growing up in Illinois, but at one point I looked at my GPS, and there was twisty stuff in any direction I picked!  Not only twisty, with LOTS of rapid elevation changes, but everything is brilliantly green and happy-smelling.  Smells like plants, and farms, and cows (which smell a bit like poo, but it's a good sort of poo.  If that makes sense.)  Blasting through these roads that have hardly anyone else, let alone a cop on them, no potholes, with the sun shineing and everything just . . . awesome.  It's just awesome.

At one point, I almost hit this little guy, who was in the middle of the road trying to commit suicide or something.  I stopped, got off the bike and said hi, and moved him to a ditch off the road.  He came out of his shell and binked at me in appreciation (at least, that's what I'm telling myself)

Anyway, that's all I've got for the time being.  I do have videos, but I'd need to get them edited and compressed, and I need to get back on the road, I've been at this McD's for too long. 

Lets hope everything stays twisty!


  1. Looks like you are having a good start to your trip, if you think MI is good wait until you get into the MTs of the east coast, awesome stuff.

  2. You have a safe trip and if you buzz through Richmond VA let me know. You can shower and shave and sleep here. If you need a tech stop for the bike I have a garage you can use to get your bike up also.
    Catch me on the forums if I dont see you here. Im in Colonial Heights VA. We have access to fabs and my friend is a whipping good bike mechanic.