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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Harley Ride to Chicago & Indy

This is a great guest post by my brother-in-law, Marty, about his cross country trip on his Harley Ultra-classic from Salt Lake City to Indiana and back. It's a good read and I'll have to get him to write another about his "misadventures" in the state of Iowa! Thanks Marty!

On Friday, August 9th I left around 6:30 in the morning on my Harley. It was a little cold outside with a few rain clouds scattered around the sky. I rode south on I-15 into Utah County and took Highway 6 up Spanish Fork Canyon. The mountain ride up the canyon, over Soldier Summit, and into Price was beautiful. I stopped in Wellington for fuel and a quick butt break. I continued on Highway 6 to I-70 near Green River and headed toward Colorado. The Book Cliffs and La Sal Mountains were an awesome backdrop. I stopped in Fruita, Colorado for more fuel and a quick bite to eat. The ride over the Colorado Rockies on I-70 was amazing, beautiful, exciting, but cold and wet. I got drenched!
I stopped a couple of times in the mountains to don rain gear and grab more fuel. I ran into some miserable road construction near Idaho Springs, and crawled along at about six miles per hour, in the freezing rain, for about ten miles. As I dropped down into Denver it dried out a little but was still pretty cool. I checked into the La Quinta Inn near Coors Field and was finally able to dry out and warm up. I rode about 520 miles that day.
That night I walked over to Coors Field to watch the Rockies play the Pirates. I had pretty good seats behind the home-team dugout. It was great to finally be back in a Major League stadium and watch my favorite team win. Colorado beat the Pirates 10-1. After the game I walked back to my hotel and went to bed.

Saturday, August 10th I left early in the morning and headed out across the Plains. My goal for the day was to make it to Kansas City, MO. I rode all day, logging 630 miles. I fought a nasty head-wind the first half of the day which really took a toll on me. I made fuel stops in Flagler CO, Colby KS, Hays KS, Salina KS, and somewhere on the Kansas Turnpike. I spent about 30 minutes crawling through a construction zone at the east end of the turnpike. I arrived at the Drury Inn next to Kaufmann Stadium at about 8:30pm. I had a fantastic view of Kaufmann Stadium from the window of my room. I ate a terrible dinner at the Denny's next to the hotel, vowing to never visit a Denny's again, and then went to bed.

I spent Sunday, August 11th in Kansas City. I ate a pretty good breakfast at the hotel and wandered around the area. I walked over to the baseball stadium just before noon and spent about an hour wandering around the inside of the ballpark. They spent several million dollars updating and remodeling the stadium a few years ago. The last time I was there it was a miserable concrete bunker with narrow, crowded causeways. Now it is a modern beautiful park with lots of fun things to see and do. I had an amazing seat to watch the Royals play the Red Sox. I was on the front row behind home plate, the best seat I've ever had at a Major League game. It got real hot and humid during the day game, but I loved every second of it. I loved being so close and seeing so many famous players. The Royals won the game 4-3.
After the game I walked back to my room to cool down and take a much needed
shower. I rode to Gates Bar-B-Q for dinner. It wasn't as good as I thought it would be. After dinner I went to bed.

Monday, August 12th I woke up early planning to get an early start on my ride to

Chicago. It was raining so hard that I didn't dare ride. I hung out at the hotel waiting for the rain to pass. I wasn't able to leave until after 10:00am. The first part of the ride was very wet. I rode north to Cameron MO where I was finally able to remove my rain gear. I then headed east on Highway 36. The ride across
Missouri was fun and pretty. I stopped in Brookfield for fuel and spent a while talking to some interesting locals at the gas station. My next stop was in Barry IL, just across the Mississippi. I continued north and east on I-72 and I-55, making another gas stop in Lincoln IL. I made one last gas and food stop in Channahon IL, just outside the Chicago metro area. The last leg of my ride into the city was in the dark and a little rainy. Traffic got a little congested but it wasn't a bad ride. I arrived at the Hyatt Regency-McCormick Place around 9:00pm. When I walked into my fancy room on the 16th floor I was taken away by the amazing view of the night-time city skyline. I unpacked and crawled into bed. I rode 517 miles that day.

Tuesday, August 13th was kind of a rest and prep day. I did a little work and took care of some administrative issues. I went for a ride through a downtown area and rode out to the burbs to pick up some food and buy a pair of workout shoes. That night I went to a White Sox game with a couple of guys from work. The game went into extra innings so I was out late.

Wednesday through Friday, August 14-16 I attended the International Association of Fire Chiefs annual meetings and training. It was held at McCormick Place Convention Center which is connected to the Hyatt where I stayed. I attended multiple meetings, training sessions, and social/networking functions. It was nice to see some of the friends I've made over the years from all over the nation. Every morning before my meetings or classes I spent about 90 minutes in the gym at the hotel riding an exercise bike. Riding an exercise bike is not nearly as fun as a real bike on real roads or trails, but as Jethro Tull says, "I don't want to be a fat man".
While in Chicago I did venture out into Chicagol and a few times. Twice I took rides on the Harley through the amazing downtown areas, along Lake Michigan, and several miles out into the suburbs. The rides were interesting and fun. One night I took off on foot and walked around for several hours. I walked past Soldier Field where the Bears play, the Shed Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and out onto Northerly Island Park. I saw some fantastic evening views of the city, Lake Michigan, and a very beautiful marina full of fancy yachts. There was a very loud outdoor rock concert going on at Meigs Field out on the island. I'm not sure who was playing but I stood outside for about thirty minutes enjoying the music
and cheering of the huge crowd.

Saturday, August 17th I did my early morning workout, showered, and went to the IAFC Closing General Session. I left before it finished. I packed up the bike and checked out of the hotel. I rode south along Lake Michigan, mostly along back roads, until I crossed into Indiana. From there I rode the Interstates toward Greenwood. I fell in with a huge pack of bikers that was riding over 100 mph, and rode with them for about an hour. That was fun! I arrived in Greenwood at about 3:00 pm. A few days earlier I tried to make hotel reservations for Greenwood. It seemed like every single hotel in the area was booked for the night. I was finally able to get a room at the Red Carpet Fanta Suites real close to Tom & Norene's house. The reviews of the hotel were pretty bad, but I didn't have any other options. When I checked into the hotel they asked, "Do you want the Las Vegas Room or the Alien Encounter Room". I was a little shocked to find out they had themed rooms..., really old and outdated themed rooms...., that were probably nice about 40 years ago. 
Space ship bed
Oh well. I picked the Alien Encounter room, and was then told it wouldn't be ready until after 4:00 pm. I jumped back on the Harley and rode over to Tom & Norene's house. I had a great visit with Tom & Norene, catching up on things and looking at several of his paintings. The exciting part was when he offered to give me one of his paintings that I love. I am so excited to finally have a Tom Slack painting. After our visit I rode back to the "fancy" hotel to change out of my biker clothes and get cleaned up. The Alien Encounter room was both disgusting and fun, but mostly disgusting. The hallway smelled old and moldy. The room itself was clean, but very outdated and dark. I did get a kick out of the room and it's nutty decor. After cleaning up I went back to Tom & Norene's and we went to dinner at a really good Mexican place. I loved spending time with them! From there we drove up to Sarah's house where I was able to visit with her family and see their beautiful home and property. Sarah fed us some really good desert.
We then drove over to Jennifer's new house. It is beautiful. I enjoyed visiting with her family and catching up on everything. By the time we got back to Tom's house it was pretty late, and since I needed to be up early to start my ride toward home we ended the night and I went back to my crazy home for the night. It was weird sleeping in a space ship, and I didn't get very much sleep. In retrospect I probably should have accepted Tom & Norene's offer to stay at their home. I hate being a burden on anyone but, lesson learned.

Sunday, August 18th I left Greenwood as soon as the sun was up and headed west. I enjoyed a beautiful day of riding through Indiana, and all the way across Illinois and Missouri. I arrived in St. Joseph, MO around 7:00 pm. Along the way I made stops at Oakwood IL, Jacksonville IL, the Mississippi River near Hannibal MO, and Brookfield MO. I rode 519 miles.
I checked into a Days Inn that looked deserted, but it was clean and nice. I had an
interesting meal at Carlos O'Kelly's (Irish Mexican) and grabbed a few things from the grocery store before calling it a night.
Monday, August 19th after a quick hotel breakfast I was on my way again. I rode north for a little while and had to pass across a tiny corner of Iowa. Have I told you that I hate Iowa, absolutely hate that state? But that's another story based on past riding adventures. I can honestly say however that my feet never touched the ground in Iowa, only the rubber of my wheels. Once I crossed into Nebraska and brushed the putrid Iowa air off my body I felt much better. The ride across Nebraska was kind of nice. The weather wasn't bad and the scenery was actually pretty nice. I stopped for the night in Cheyenne Wyoming after riding 600 miles, arriving just after 7:00 pm (Mountain Time Zone). Stops along the route included Syracuse NE, Doniphan NE, Gothenburg NE, Big Springs NE (next to the Northeast corner of Colorado), and Pine Bluffs
WY. I checked into a little "hole in the wall" motel, ate dinner at a crappy restaurant on Lincolnway, and went to bed.

Tuesday, August 20th was the last leg of my ride. Rainclouds and wind plagued me all the way across Wyoming and through Utah until I arrived in Taylorsville. I spent about an hour in Rock Springs along the way trying to rest my sore butt. I arrived home and resumed the normal chaos of life at about 4:30 pm. I rode 454 miles.

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