Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Midwest Roadtrip '09: Texas to Minnesota

Saturday, the 16th, I woke up at 5, which was no surprise since I'd been waking up about that time all week in anticipation for this trip. I got off around 7, dressed lightly expecting typical Texas weather. South of Waco the clouds got dark and the temperature dropped. I was hoping that the rain I hit would be light and isolated, but it picked up and started looking like it was going to stick around. Unfortunately, once I realized this I was just past and exit and a few miles from the next. I was already wet and cold when I pulled over, got gas and put on my rain gear, which is never ideal. I kept on going, only barely slowing down (unlike many other people on the road) despite lessened visibility. It rained the whole way to varying degrees to my next stop in Denton. I was feeling pretty whiny and miserable at that point, but still determined to make good time. Once the rain let up shortly thereafter, it stayed pretty cool and I was feeling better, but still uncomfortable. At the subsequent stop, I changed to my leather jacket and chaps, as well as putting on a dry t-shirt. I felt like a new person after that, and had no problem making it to my designated stopping point for the night, Salina KS. I did, however, run into a triathlon in downtown Oklahoma City which made it difficult to get to the capitol to take a picture. I got to Salina around 6, had dinner and through the power of the Internet found a decent cheap motel for the night. I picked up some beer and sat in the hot tub for a while drinking beer and reading the newspaper I'd brought with me.

I woke up at 5 again Sunday. Since I was ready to leave at 6 and the continental breakfast didn't start until 6:30, I ate at McDonald's down the street. I rode north into Nebraska, then east along the interstate to Lincoln to get the capitol. I headed south back into Kansas to get the capitol in Topeka, then to Kansas City. The day had started pretty cool, but by the time I got to KC around 3, it was pretty warm, and I would have liked to take off my jacket, but it would have been a pain trying to stow it away again. It wasn't actually that bad as long as I was moving. I stopped at the Harley factory, which was closed, but I got a nice picture of my bike out front. I went to a brewpub nearby, which I would describe as a "typical" chain brewpub- nice place, but very mainstream beers. I got an inexpensive motel room nearby, then headed in search of some BBQ for dinner. I went to a location of a local chain I'd visited on a roadtrip many years ago (but not the same location). I got ribs and slaw, but I didn't really love either of them, and definitely didn't think the meal was worth the 16 dollars they charged me for it. I thought the ribs had way too much sauce on them, even after scraping a lot off. I went to try a brewpub called McCoy's, which had some good beer. I was almost going to call it quits around 8, but went along a nice road lined with beautiful homes to a place called 75th Street something-or-other. It was a nice place with a decent band playing, but I thought their beer was pretty weak.

I woke up far earlier than necessary for a 9am tour one mile away Monday, so I had a bunch of time to kill. Fortunately, after breakfast I laid down and dozed off for about a half hour until 8, then pretty much gave up waiting and went to the factory. While I was hoping the visitor center opened before they started tours, I didn't think it would mean it opened at 9 and the first tour was 9:15. The first tour was almost all people who had ridden in, some from WV and one from TN, not sure about anyone else. The tour was really cool and I guess I'd either forgotten or not realized they started making Dynas there in 2002. After the tour I bought a t-shirt and got my bike resituated. Before I'd even started what promised to be a hard day of riding, I felt like I could use a nap. The next problem was that an intermittent problem of my satellite receiver cutting out every once in a while had become nearly constant, so I had to shut it off and ride on silence until the next stop. I stopped at the Iowa Capitol and in addition to the usual pic right out front, I got what I thought was a cool pic of my bike in front of the cornerstone. I headed from there to the state highpoint, in the NW corner of the state. It was a rather unassuming mound off of a dirt road with a tall water tower next to it. On the way onward toward Minnesota I found that instead of my GPS's route over 5 miles of dirt roads, I could have come a much easier route with half a mile of dirt, and I would have seen the entrance to the proper highpoint parking lot. I went up to the interstate in MN and headed east. Since it was getting toward dusk, I had to override the GPS's almost certainly flawed route via state roads and stick with the interstate. As the light was fading, I stopped for dinner at Applebee's about 100 miles from St. Paul. After dinner I pushed onward, finally stopping just outside of St. Paul at 11. I got a cheap motel room, which was clean and adequate and all, but it had a weird smell and it was designed for the handicapped. Nevertheless, I managed to get a decent night's sleep, waking up at 5:45, but going back to sleep until 6:45.

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