North to Alaska

Day 2


Sauce Béarnaise on a motorcycle?


I’m told that the French developed their tasty sauces in order to cover the sometimes-rancid meat of yesteryear – before the days of refrigeration.  I confess I needed some sauce on the motorcycle trip today to cover the rancid taste of the toll roads across the three evil sisters I encountered today – Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.


I rarely listen to music on the bike, but today Mozart, Chopin, Bach, and Sibelius were tasty sauces, indeed.


Got the day underway at 7:45 – first stop is Cuyahoga Valley National Park, but the visitor center doesn’t open until 9:00 so I have time to swing by Reggie’s Restaurant in Cuyahoga Falls for a short stack before stopping by the park to get my passport stamped.


I’m the only visitor this quiet Sunday morning – so there is a chance for a brief chat with the Ranger on duty about the park and my trip across the country.  The visitor center is named “Happy Days” from the Happy Days Camp completed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938.  It is beautifully constructed of Wormy American Chestnut taken from the local area.


It is already 90 degrees at 10:00 – so before I leave the park, I retrieve the Camelbak from the trailer and fill it with ice water.  It is clear that this is going to be a difficult day because of the heat – and I need to get a head start by hydrating early.


Next stop is Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, but before I get there, I must endure the rest of the Ohio Turnpike and most of the Indiana Turnpike.  Suffice it to say that the Sauce Béarnaise helped me through the day.  I couldn’t find any shaded picnic tables to make lunch, so I pulled under the canopy over the diesel pumps at one of the service areas in Indiana.  The lid of the Bushtec trailer served pretty well as a surface to prepare lunch and I was appreciative of the shade provided by the canopy.


While I was there, a motor home the size of a three-week pay pulled in to get fuel.  I stood there trying to imagine how much it must have cost – I suppose at least a half million dollars.  Just couldn’t help thinking on this Sunday morning that Habitat for Humanity could provide houses for perhaps 10 families – for what that one family spent to spend a couple of weeks a year on the road.


Can’t really afford to spend any time appreciating Indiana Dunes – just get in the door – get the passport stamped and get on my way.  I want to get past Chicago today – I can’t imagine dealing with Monday morning rush hour.


The temperature is up to 97 degrees by now – and the thermometer on the bike soars to 112 while stopped in a traffic slowdown through Chicago.


I had hoped to sleep in Wisconsin tonight, but that is not to be.


So to you and Iowa Sioux and Pork Chop, Australian Shepherd, Oakhurst, CA – I say goodnight from Rockford, IL.

North to Alaska

Day 3


The Jolly Green Giant is still there – but more about that later!


Today my lucky number is 13 – 13 miles to the Wisconsin border.  I feel alive again – living large with a smile as wide as that six-cylinder engine between my feet.  No tolls – no jersey barriers – just green fields, red barns, blue silos, and pungent bovine smells.


It’s 83 degrees at 8:00 and heat advisories have been issued for heat indices from 105 to 110.  I stop early at a truck stop in Madison, Wisconsin to replenish my fuel and water – and set up the camelbak to help me keep hydrated.  The F-16’s are out to play this morning – while I’m filling up I’m treated to a four-ship take off – maybe looking for a little 2 v 2 in the boondocks of Wisconsin.


I’m reminded once again of how fortunate we all are to live in this enormous country.  I’m remembering visiting my son, Paul when he was at ENJPT – Euro-NATO Joint Pilot Training – and remarking about the number of European pilot trainees there were in the program.  Come to find out that they love to come to America to train, because there is so much flying room.  Some of the European countries are so small that it is difficult to practice air combat maneuvers without violating neighboring countries airspace.  I don’t think the F-16 bubbas are going to have to worry about that today.


Do you think it’s possible for a Red Tailed Hawk to fly faster than I can drive the Valkyrie?  I don’t hardly think so, but just as I approach the bridge across the Mississippi River in La Crosse, Wisconsin – there she was – waiting for me – flying lazy circles right over my head.  Could she have flown from the Hudson River to the Mississippi River – I don’t know, but there she is – looking 360 degrees – she tells me all is well.


It was just a little over two weeks ago that I was on the banks of this great river in Memphis, TN.  You see, I started this Iron Butt Adventure Memorial Day Weekend with a trip to see my daughter in Stafford, VA and to attend Rolling Thunder.  I also made a weekend trip to MA, ME, VT, and NH – as well as a swing down the East Coast and across to Memphis.  I’ll try to tell you about those trips as we travel along on this adventure – but anyway – I digress.


I spent most of the Fall and Winter installing a new software system at work – and the software company hosted a national users group meeting in Memphis during the middle of June.  I attended the meeting – but decided to ride the Valkyrie – and found that the National Training Manager for Shelby Systems – has a Harley.  He was kind enough to take me on a tour of downtown Memphis – including a drive along the Mississippi River one night during the convention – thanks Jerry.


So here I am, once again, at the great river – I-90 travels north for a short distance along the river – and then we begin to climb.  The altimeter reads 350 feet on the east side of the river – but rapidly climbs to 1300 feet and the relentless wind of the prairie begins.


Traveling is easy here.  No cars for a mile or more in front or in back of me.  Rolling fields – more livestock trucks that Lexis Dealers – the Valkyrie loves this road – as the butterflies open in those six carbs – her sound becomes throatier – and gas mileage drops to 20 mpg.  Even with the big interstate gas tank, fuel stops shrink from 180 miles to 120 miles.


And yes the Jolly Green Giant is still there.  Those of you who traveled with me on “A Connecticut Yankee in Yosemite Valley” will remember my stop in Blue Earth, MN – where I discovered the Jolly Green Giant.  Well as fate would have it, I needed fuel just as I approached Blue Earth – and you will remember the giant is located right behind the Texaco station.  After the fill up – I cruised by to find that someone has given him a brand new paint job – and he and his friends continue to watch over the Valley of the Jolly Green Giant.


I feel as though the trip really started today.  Tomorrow I visit Pipestone National Monument – and then move on to the Badlands.  The next few days I will be retracing some of the ground I covered in the Yosemite trip – I have such wonderful memories of that experience – that I want to do some of it again.  Come along with me.


So to you and Iowa Sioux and Mizu, German Shepherd, Miami-Dade, FL – I say goodnight from Luverne, MN.

 Index, Day, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 thru 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32&33 34