Monday, September 7, 2009

Day 10 - Really? 10 Days? Cool.

I woke up in Illinois this morning, "Land of Lincoln". There was no clock in the hotel room I'd booked, so I grabbed my phone to check the time - 745. ack! While I was getting ready, feeling like a big slacker, I remembered that my phone, for some reason, has not changed automatically with local time, so it was really 645.

It was brisk out while I filled the tank AND the gas can before heading to Springfield, Illinois. At 9 am it was 58 degrees.

It didn't get much warmer and I was appreciating my new fleece shirt. At 11 am it was only 65 degrees out. But that was tolerable dressed in my many layers.

I navigated through the city of Springfield to get to the Lincoln Home visitor center. I watched one of the longer videos shown at any of the parks in the last 2 1/2 weeks and looked around the bookstore before heading out. I called Dayton's Aviation site and spoke with an unenthused ranger to confirm directions and address. The gps said it was going to take about 6 hours to get there.

I crossed into Indiana: "The Crossroads of America", but there were only 2 qualifying parks in the state and both the George Rogers Clark Nat'l Historic Park and Lincoln's Boyhood Home Nat'l Memorial were at the south end of the state. I'd decided those were too far off my route which cut Indiana through the middle, so, without park visits, it was a straight drive through to Ohio. Going through Indianapolis on 70, it looked remarkably like 695 around Baltimore, though I was grateful not to hit Baltimore-like rush hour.

I did stop at a McDonald's for lunch in Indiana. I hadn't stopped at restaurants until recently. I'd been eating fruit and granola bars out of my tank bag at rest stops, and microwave meals at the hotels, but my body was starting to get annoyed by that. I decided I needed some protein and there wasn't anything else quick that was close, so
a double cheesburger it was.

I walked in to a long line and one open register. I decided that since I could catch up on my messages and use the time to plan, I could take advantage of the wait rather than view it as lost time. I sat to wolf down my meal and texted Jon, Jen, Vicky and Denise to see if anyone was interested in meeting me tomorrow when I got closer to home. While waiting for replies and finishing my drink, I noticed a framed print of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper on the wall. I took it as a sign that my McD's break was all in the grand plan.

Before I left McD's, I saw this in the bathroom. Someone had tried to re-write the 'C' in 'Changing'. Think about it for a minute. Now, every time I see one of these I see 'Baby hanging Station'. Even I find that creepy.

Back on the road, I hit the now expected construction. At this point I don't know what I would do with myself if I couldn't follow a snake of orange cones.

Somewhere after crossing into Ohio, 'Birthplace of Aviation', I took stock of where I was and where I needed to be that night. I still had a good bit of road to eat up before getting to Hoagy's in West Virginia. Dayton Aviation Heritage National Park wasn't horribly far off the direct route to his place, but I wasn't going to get to the visitor center before it closed at 6 and the guy I spoke to there was the least friendly of everyone I'd talked to this trip, so I decided I wouldn't go. I was torn, but it's close enough to home to make a seperate trip, if I'm so compelled, and I was already going to have to drive in the dark to finish my ride today, so it seemed wise and convenient to let that one go.

There was, however, an enormous bike supply place that sat right on 70 that I'd passed on the way out, so I called to see what exit they were on (54) and how late they were open (7). I stopped at Competition Accessories for 30 minutes and stretched my limbs while looking at all the fun stuff there. I was out before they closed at 7 and headed to Hoagy's place. It was cold and dark and cold and I was not happy riding that last 2 or so hours. I don't mind riding in the dark so much, you just have to be vigilant for the night issues. The cold, however, I find very unpleasant and do not enjoy riding if I can feel it through my gear.

This I could feel through my gear. On any other night I would have found the first exit with sleeping accomodations and made my round of calls, but tonight, for the first time before or after the conference, I had a reservation. I rode with my shoulders at my ears, unsuccessful at convincing myself to relax. It was so ridiculous that the top of my right foot hurt from contracting every muscle I own in a vain attempt to reduce my surface area against the wind or something.

Finally, 'Wild and Wonderful' West Virginia.
Just before Zanesville on 70, about 2 hours East of Dayton and an hour and a half West of a hot shower, I needed to stop for gas. I took an exit not explicitly marked for gas thinking I'd just cross over to the return ramp and rejoin the highway if there were no pumps. I was running low and didn't want to push my luck given my history, but no, it was not meant to be. There were no pumps and there was no return exit. I was routed on, if it were warm and light out, what would have been a nice back route.

I followed those signs for a couple of miles, watching for wildlife, trying to forget the cold, and ended up at the next exit...where there was no gas, either. Seriously? You're going to make me do this now? Here? Even though trying to avoid exactly this is what got me here? Really? Fine. Knowing I didn't have much left from the last fill up, I took the gas can off the back of the bike and emptied it into the tank for, what I certainly hoped would be, the last time this trip.

I took the next exit marked 'gas' to refill everything. Yes, even the gas can. Clearly, it would be stupid of me not to with my track record, even though I was, theoretically, less than a tankful away from my destination.

With a little confusion, I got to Hoagy's gravel driveway where making the turn in I managed to lay the bike over even while noting all the things I needed to do to keep it upright. I was pretty numb and sore by that point and just straddled the bike for the time it took to remove my helmet and gloves so I could deal with it. Hoagy was there in two seconds to help me right it. I parked it in the garage where I wouldn't have to unload it and met some folks that were hanging out at the infamous Carmichael Irish Pub.
September 1, 2009

As is the case with everyone I've met through Hoagy, they were nice folks and we chatted for a bit before they called it a night. Hoagy made me the finest grilled cheese I've had in years while I thawed out in a hot shower, and we caught up for a while before turning in.

The next day, Wednesday, would be the last of my 2 1/2 week adventure across country. I had no plans except to get home. In my usual fashion, I'd scheduled work first thing Thursday morning, though that still seemed a while away.

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