Sunday, May 31, 2009

Midwest Roadtrip '09: Michigan to home

Monday morning I had a nice cooked-to-order breakfast in the hotel, then started heading south, meaning I was officially on my way home. After some nice riding through the Upper Peninsula, I got to the Mackinac Bridge in the afternoon. The bridge was under construction and all traffic was going over the northbound two lanes. It took a while just to get through the toll booth, then traffic practically crawled over the bridge. The bridge wasn't much different from any other bridge until I got to the center span. Normally, there would be an option of going over pavement or grating, but since there was only one lane I had no choice but to go over the grating. It was pretty unnerving, first because the tires wanted to follow the grate causing the bike to wander a bit, but also because when you look down, you can see straight down to the lake. I was tensed up the whole way until I got back on pavement and breathed a sigh of relief. Back on solid land, I took a detour to Bellaire to visit a brewpub a friend said I had to check out, but it was closed for Memorial Day. I continued on to Lansing to the Capitol, and decided to get some dinner. The brewpub I found on google was also closed, so I went to some roadhouse-type place I had passed. It was okay, but far from great. When I stopped for gas afterward a guy on a bike came over and started talking, asking about my road trip. I talked with him as I went about my business, and when I was done and ready to leave, he was still talking, so I had to politely say goodbye and get on my way. I finally stopped for the night just south of Toledo, Ohio.

My first destination Tuesday was Ohio's highpoint, which actually has a school built around it. Along the way I stopped for a couple of ABCs pics, and from there it was on to the Capitol in Columbus. I thought about stopping to at least look at the inside, but I just pushed on westward instead. I headed toward Indianapolis, but via Xenia for the elusive X. When I got to Indiana, it marked a major milestone, that I had ridden the Fat Boy in all the 48 contiguous states. Just inside Indiana I turned off the interstate to go to the highpoint. The road leading to it was closed six miles short of the highpoint, so I had to take town roads which were actually not far off course, just a little bit slower. The highpoint itself was nothing particularly special, just a spot in a small wooded area between farms. I had a snack while I was there and headed on to Indianapolis. I thought the city was pretty nice, at least the downtown area. That opinion changed some as my GPS routed me through surface streets out of town. Going along the interstate I realized my load had shifted. Concerned, I pulled over at a truck stop and adjust stuff to keep from losing everything. While I was there I took off and stowed my leather jacket and got some super glue to at least temporarily reattach the sole of my boot which had gotten loose enough to flap when walking. In Illinois, getting close to Springfield, it started to look like rain was imminent, so I put on my rain gear. I did get rain, but it wasn't too bad. It did, however, scuttle my thoughts of finding a campground for the night. After taking pictures of the Capitol, I decided I didn't really want to stay in Springfield at all, and continued south about 30 miles, and got a motel room in Litchfield at about 8. I had dinner at a little local place the clerk recommended. I had a steak which was huge but a little dry, nothing great.

Wednesday morning I had some great riding getting to the Missouri highpoint, and then to Jefferson City to the Capitol. The highpoint was down a gravel road, but then the path from the parking lot to the highpoint was concrete. I thought about riding the path, but figured there might be somebody who wouldn't like that. When I got to the Capitol, I decided to take a look around the interior this time. Security was almost nonexistent, I just walked in and started wandering around, taking pictures. The ride on from there was pretty nice until I got to Osage Beach. Not only was it raining the whole time I was going through the area (I did suit up beforehand), but it was an ugly tourist trap of a town, lined with motels and fast food restaurants, and lots of traffic. The riding was much nicer once I got away from there. I stopped for the night in Joplin, at a place where I took advantage of their hot tub and pool.

I got on the road at about 8 Thursday, and got to Rogers, Arkansas around 9. I stopped there because that's where the state HOG rally was taking place that weekend. When I got there, they were just setting up and things didn't start until much later. I got the picture I needed for the ABCs of Touring, and continued on my way. I hadn't planned on going to the Arkansas highpoint, since I went last year, but when I realized I would be going really close to it, I figured I had to stop. It wasn't too much of a detour (certainly less than some other detours I took on this trip), and it took me over some nice roads. I continued on to Little Rock to the Capitol. I decided to take a look around the inside, which required going through a security checkpoint. It didn't feel nearly as secure as an airport, but I did have to go through a metal detector. I walked around the place a little bit and took a few pictures, then started toward home for real. While I was still in Arkansas, the Fat Boy rolled over 100,000 miles, another big milestone. I hit some nasty construction traffic in Texarkana around 5. I decided to have dinner at Hooters and hope it would die down some by the time I was done. When I got back on the interstate closer to 6, it was just as bad, so I had to just deal with it. I was already feeling pretty tired when I got to Dallas, but at that point I was completely determined to make it home, even if it was after midnight. My last stop was in West, where I ate a couple of kolaches to give me the last bit of energy I needed. At that point it was late enough and I was tired enough that I was actually going the speed limit. I finally got home at 1am, having ridden 850 miles, more than I'd ever ridden in one day. I was totally spent, and I still don't feel like I've recovered yet.

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