Day Ten by Dave Schultheis
Sunday, June 2, 2002 - Martin, Tennessee
Sunburn prevents sleep.
Both forearms were quite burned because I foolishly wore a short-sleeved shirt and rode in the sun for a few hours without "protection." To add to the fun, I also had a number of bug bites on my fingers. Not sure how that happened.
I was awake and up at 6:40 a.m. Central Time. I dressed and packed to CNN, then stopped at the Shell Station convenience store for juice on the way over to Roger's to help with cleanup.
A number of folks who had a long way to go had already left. The rest of us took down and folded the large blue and white tent. (I understand it comes down a lot more easily than it goes up.) There was a lot of cleanup to, but a number of folks helped. I said my goodbyes and left Roger's about 8:15 a.m. I'm sure the work went on for a while, but I did what I could.
I fueled at the Shell Station in Martin, rode across the street to the motel, finished packing and loading, made one more bathroom trip and checked out. I was on the road at about 8:30 a.m.
Northbound TN 43. Northbound TN 22. Northbound U.S. 45E into the Commonwealth of Kentucky at Fulton. I continued north on U.S. 45, stopped at a Kentucky State Police building, couldn't find anybody home, but helped myself to a Kentucky map from the display table. Either they're glad I have it or there's an all points bulletin out for my arrest.
On the approach to Paducah, I rode across the bridge over the Ohio River, stopped at a rest stop for an Illinois picture, continued westbound on Interstate 24 and later turned northbound on Interstate 57. Around this time I was glad I was alert, as the driver of a small green Geo merged left into the lane I was already occupying. A little evasive maneuver solved the problem (for me; the driver is probably still just as stupid as ever).
About 11:30 a.m. I stopped for a rest about 22 miles south of Mt. Vernon IL. It was warm, I was tired and my sunburned arms were quite painful.
In Salem IL I turned onto U.S. Highway 50, heading for Xenia, about 16 miles east. Xenia is important because it is one of only two cities that start with the letter "X." I should have stopped for fuel in Salem but neglected to do so. When I finally looked down at my speedometer/odometer, it read 194 miles, and there was no gas station in sight. I decided to keep going, because I had a 50% chance of getting where I was going.
It (195) was (196) a (197) very (198) long (199) sixteen (200) miles. It (201) seemed (202) to (203) go (204) on (205) for (206) ever. But I was lucky and pulled into a Citgo gas station in Xenia for some 92 octane supreme at 12:40 p.m., with 207.9 miles on the odometer, the farthest I have ever gone on a tankful.
On this trip to Xenia, it was about as hot as it had been cold and rainy a year ago. I got pictures at the Xenia post office and town hall, then rode back to Salem on Hy 50 and back south on Interstate 57. I took a side trip into Mt. Vernon (to Dale's H-D's new location and to Soapy Joe's) before heading north on I-57 and then westbound on Interstate 64 toward St. Louis. It was 70 plus miles and there would be some construction.
About 3 p.m. I stopped to rest in New Baden IL. It was not that late in the day but I was hot and tired. I sat inside McDonald's and sipped on Mountain Dew while checking the map and trying a chicken flatbread sandwich. (Didn't particularly like it.)
I continued west on I-64, then south on Interstate 255, then south on Interstate 44. It was still really hot. Somewhere along that route I crossed into Missouri but there was no sign.
At 4:40 p.m. I took the offramp at Pacific MO, and it looked quite familiar. Last year I had followed a rider on a broken-down old motorcycle to this exact offramp, in the rain, and he decided that he'd be able to get help, so I continued. This year, I went under the freeway and pulled into a Mobil station up and around the corner. It was hot!
I got 93 octane gasoline and while cooling in the shade, met two other riders, Andy and Willie, enroute from New York to Joplin MO. Andy worked at a hospital and Willie was a friend coming home from college for a visit. Andy suggested I follow them to Joplin and I could stay in his rental house next door. (This was either a dangerous situation or a golden opportunity. I'll let you guess which one.)
We moved right along the freeway through the heat, stopping for a rest near Rolla MO and for 91 octane fuel in the Lebanon/Stoughton area. Andy warned me to be especially vigilant for deer as it was getting dark. He also slowed the pace so that we would have room to manuever if we saw any errant ruminants.
We arrived at Andy's house in Joplin at 10:05 p.m. Central Time. He introduced me to his wife Erin and their dogs. We parked the bikes in front of their rental house so it would be convenient for me to unload my gear. They chuckled when I cabled the bike to the building, as they (evidently) have no crime in Joplin.
Their rental house was in mid-renovation, with quite a few things askew, but beggars can't be choosers, and I decided that it would do just fine.
Within a few minutes, I knew I was going to like this place. I could hear train whistles - lots of train whistles - as many trains passed, just a few blocks away.
Andy had called ahead and asked Erin to prepare a room for me. She had turned on the air conditioning in the front room and the ceiling fan in the bedroom, made up a bed on an air mattress and provided towels in the bathroom. I took a shower and went to bed.
Miles for the day = 636. Another long day (for me). Miles for the trip = 3742.
Tomorrow: A nice breakfast, a windy ride, and I meet a friend at the side of the road.