Monday, June 8, 2009

day twenty-nine: there and back again

Our own Blue Ridge Parkway
Our last objective
Michael, the youngster, constantly needed rest . . .
Highway 50 in West Virginia
Amazing beauty is everywhere!

We left off last in Nebraska on day 26 and much has happened since our last visit. The first thing to mention is that we reached good ole’ South Carolina about 10 AM. Mike and I both did simultaneous fist pumps to have made it back to our home state. This is especially true since we slept (or at least spent time trying to sleep) in a Virginia rest area somewhere above Roanoke last night. I mean that it’s especially true that we’re happy to be back in our state and that we’re happy to be alive after riding the last 5 hours in a “fog.” (Literal, coming down Hwy 81 and figurative, from sleep deprivation- I know those are not adverbs but they’ll do for this post!)

Here’s the short version of what happened over the last few days. We left North Platte, NE early on the 4th headed for Kansas and Missouri. We did a repeat of the previous day in that we rode a lot of miles without taking many pictures. (That is definitely relative since by my estimate we have about 1500 pictures of this trip) We spent the night in Columbia, MO at what turned out to be the best RV park we stayed in for the trip. It was really neatly laid out, the hosts were helpful and polite and it was peaceful, quiet and restful. From Missouri, we traveled through St. Louis to Illinois, Indiana and finally Kentucky before settling. There was not much to see with the routes we chose through these states but we were trying to cover ground rather than sight see. St. Louis was a disaster. Hwy 64, the route which allowed us to largely by-pass the city, was closed. The detour led us through the worst part of the city and cost us about an hour of travel time without much gain in mileage. After St. Louis we tried taking Hwy 50 as a more scenic route but it was a little too scenic with a small town every 7-10 miles. We abandoned 50 for Hwy 64 east through Illinois and Indianapolis before arriving in Kentucky. We enjoyed riding through Lexington horse country but once again, took no pictures (My bad) That night we stayed at what turned out to be the worst RV park for the trip. It was poorly laid out- everyone seemed to park where they wanted. There were dog fights, people arguments, carried on in public, no peace and no quiet. If someone had started to play the theme from “Deliverance,” I would not have been surprised. Neither would I have stayed to spend the night! Mike and woke early to the protracted hacking from a guy who clearly suffered from emphysema trying to light a cigarette. I wanted to say, “Here let me light that for you. You just take care of that coughing. I don’t think you should multi-task in this case.” One alarm clock is as good as another I always say as long as it gets you out of bed! From Kentucky, we did another version of what the military calls a “forced march” again attempting to cover as much ground as possible. This, we did passing through the remainder of Kentucky, West Virginia and into Virginia. We wanted to accomplish two goals. The first was to catch up with the Tingles, our special friends who were in Pennsylvania for a graduation. The second was to see Gettysburg. As it turns out, we didn’t accomplish either of these- the first, because of delays in getting to the area and the second, because of the beginnings of chain failure on Mike’s bike. It seemed that cutting the trip a little short was the best and most discreet course. We did reach the Blue Ridge Parkway before the end of the day and were able to ride down about 50 miles of its course before switching over to Hwy 81. We rode as far as I could go last night and, as I mentioned above, did time in a Virginia rest area. In a car you may be uncomfortable but you can lay the seats back, lock the doors and attempt some form of rest. On motorcycles our version went something like this- lay out your Thermarest pad on the ground (in our case, the parking lot since we needed to watch the bikes and equipment), cover up with your coat and sleep . . . Oh, and wake up every time some new car or truck rolls in! It probably goes without saying (have you ever noticed that whenever a person uses this literary device, he always goes ahead and says it!) but we were only too happy to get up at 5 AM and get moving.

As I said at the top, we are home and resting. There will be some time for deeper reflection later about the trip. Another description of the Platte River, I spoke of a few days ago, is that it’s a mile wide and 2 inches deep. That fairly accurately describes the depth and focus of my thinking! For me, it is enough to know that the trip was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done and the time with Michael was something I will never regret. There is a Longfellow quote which goes like this:

Let him not boast who puts his armor on,

As he who puts it off, the battle done.

Don’t read anything I’ve written as any form of boast. For me, though, there was genuine concern that I might not be able to complete this trip- that my mind might write checks my body couldn’t cash! As it now stands, the trip is done and there is, in my heart, a certain pride of accomplishment- a month well spent with someone I enjoy and admire a great deal. For these I can only give thanks.


  1. Welcome home!! I'll stand in line to see all 1500 pictures, let me know when it's my turn. Oh, by the way, you're teaching Sunday.

    I'm so glad you guys are back and that you were able to make this trip. You're both a real inspiration to us dads!


    {jk about the teaching...}

  2. Well Bud, ya beat me to the comment wall this time!

    Alas, our trip has come to an's both bitter and sweet all at once. I'm not foolish enough to think that opportunities like this one are common. Some who have the ability to take a journey with someone special won't sacrifice the time, and some who would readily make time simply don't have the ability. Life certainly knows how to get in the way. But I hope that someday, I'll have the chance to share something similar with my son(s), and maybe even get to tell my grandson(s) about the time I saw our country from a motorcycle with my papa. God is good. We'll see.

    As dad said, God made the rough areas smooth and brought us home safely--we'd probably never go anywhere if we could see all of the ways that God protects us that we don't ever even notice. For example, dad mentioned we had a major-league setback in St. Louis--huge bummer. But I can't help thinking in those times that God has sent me a certain way because that's exactly the way I needed to go...for whatever reason. Anyhow, we made it just the same.

    As a side-note, I think I may have driven my bike into the ground--I was relieved to pull it into the driveway in one piece. I mean, you should've heard it. Don't think that I'm bad-mouthing the machine though, I was thoroughly impressed with it's toughness. I just chose to ride a chain that was a few thousand miles too old all the way home--no matter what. I'm sure you mechanics are sick that I would do such a thing, but you probably also know how hard it is to stop once you've reached the finishing stretch! Hopefully my chain rings still have all of their teeth, and my transmission isn't totally worn-out--if not, I'm sure BMW will be happy to fix anything/everything for a modest fee, haha. Hey, I'll be a real-life working man soon, and I'll need something to spend all my money on! (That was a joke if you're reading this Megan...please don't beat me!!)

    To all you followers, thanks again! It's been so fun sharing our experiences and photos. Mom and Mel, thank yall for letting me steal dad for so long, and for holding-down the fort! Mere and DP, it's always a treat to see yall on your side of things!

    And that's all...I'll leave yall with a Steinbeck quote (I think I already mentioned that he's my boy!)

    "A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us."

    Signing out. M

  3. Mikey! I would never think of beating you! Haha! Just kidding, sometimes you need a beating! (:

    I was laughing at the picture of you laying on the ground - I can't imagine how bad you stunk - oh wait, yes I can! You smelled one day worse than that when you arrived home!

    Glad both of you are home safely! (: (Hmm it's a little weird that I'm posting this now, after having seen you both for almost a week now!)

  4. America sure is a beautiful nation. We are so blessed to have been given stewardship of her. Great photos boys. Thanks