Day Four by Dave Schultheis
Thursday, May 22, 2003 - Highland, Illinois
I had set the alarm for 6:00 a.m. but found myself awake at 5:45 a.m. Central Time. I turned on CNN to keep up with the news while dressing, loaded the Road King, and walked down to the office to check out. I recognized the woman at the front desk from my last visit; she works the day shift and lives upstairs. They have a mini-Continental breakfast, so I warmed a bagel and added some cream cheese while settling my bill, exchanging pleasantries and checking out.
I hit the road at 6:50 a.m. and perhaps because of the flatness of Illinois, the sun was already up.
I rode south on Illinois Highway 160 (took an "Illinois" picture), then turned eastbound U.S. Highway 50 (remember Hy 50?) for a while, passing through Carlyle, where it was 56 degrees F., then Odin and Salem, and continued east to the turnoff for Xenia IL. I got my "X" picture about 8:15 a.m., then returned westbound on Hy 50 to Salem, and turned southbound on Interstate 57.
In Mt. Vernon IL, I stopped at Walgreens to see if they could process my LPCs, but the gal said she was "backed up until noon." I assumed she meant that in a photographic way, instead of a gastro-enterological way, and decided to get the pictures processed somewhere else.
As I passed a church in Mt. Vernon, their sign said "The Best Things in Life are not Things."
I pulled into Dale's Harley-Davidson in Mt. Vernon at 9:15 a.m., asked if they could handle an oil and filter change, and was accomodated immediately. Meanwhile, I browsed the bargain table and MotorClothes department. This is the second time I've had service work done at Dale's new location while passing through, and I've been treated well both times.
In less than an hour, they were done; I paid the cashier and was on my way at 10:20 a.m. I rode eastbound on Interstate 64, stopped for fuel about a half hour later at a Marathon Station in Wayne City IL, and in another half hour crossed the Wabash River and stopped for an Indiana photograph.
Some time later I stopped for a Dubois County photo, then stopped at Wendy's in Ferdinand IN. It was fairly warm. I wanted to "keep movin'," so I headed toward Louisville, and crossed the Ohio River into Kentucky at 1:55 p.m.
It's nice for them to put state signs on bridges, so that you know what state you're entering, but it's not possible to stop on most bridges for pictures. So I had to look for another sign.
About 20 minutes later I stopped at a Chevron Station in Louisville, where the gas station receipt said it was "3-something." The clerk at the gas station confirmed that I was now in the Eastern Time zone. I had not seen a sign, but this had happened way back near Wendy's. I did see the sign that said it was 73 degrees, and I agreed; I was hot.
I had still not found a state sign, so I took a photo of a Kentucky Lottery sign at the gas station. I asked the clerk about the location of the nearest AAA office, and she made a phone call and got directions. I had some difficulty in locating it, due to heavy traffic, but eventually found it and got some KY and WV maps. I believe the woman there also wrote down my card number and the maps that she had given me.
At this point I knew I would not make it to the Super 8 Motel in Front Royal VA (near Washington, D.C.) by nightfall, so I called and canceled my reservation for the night. I also called my sister but got her answering machine.
I continued eastbound on I-64, stopped at the Kentucky Welcome Center for a picture, and later found myself in a sudden traffic backup near mile 40-something. There were signs saying "road work" and "lane closed," but there was no road work and there were no road workers. My only hope is that they had finished their work and were enroute back around to pick up the signs and cones. If not, it was a good case of poor planning on someone's part.
I passed Frankfort, then Georgetown, then Lexington KY. At 5:25 p.m. Eastern Time, I stopped at a rest area to recover from sore butt syndrome and lots of traffic. Also at the rest stop was a fellow by the name of Larry, who was a former rider (and evangelist) who gave me some routing information.
I continued eastbound on I-64, stopped for a Bath County photograph, and pulled into a Speedway Gas Station at exit 172, in Grayson KY, at 7:00 p.m. By this time it was cool and overcast. The station offered "pay at the pump" like many others, but unlike many other stations, the island had a good supply of windshield fluid, squeegees, towels, funnels, a wastebasket, and a machine that sold "Sprite Remix." I should have bought some, just to see what it was. I was impressed by the funnels being available, as I was running low on them.
I continued east on I-64 for about 20 miles, then crossed into West Virginia and stopped at the Welcome Center, but there was just a small sign inside the building. I took a picture but knew I would have to find a better one later.
Mini-rant. Do the highway people not realize that some travelers want to take their pictures in front of the state sign? What's up with not having the state's name in big letters where people can stand and smile and wave? Many states have them, more should. End mini-rant.
Near Milton WV I saw a billboard that said "Motorcycles are Everywhere," recommending that car drivers be alert for riders. A good idea. Thank you, highway people.
I pulled off the highway in Hurricane WV, looking for a post office, and instead found the volunteer fire department, where they were holding a drill. There was a nice sign in front of the place that said both "Hurricane" and "West Virginia," and one of the firefighters was nice enough to take a picture of me and the Road King in front of the sign. I thanked them and continued east.
It was getting late, so I tried to find a motel in the Charleston area. I hope nobody in Charleston WV gets upset, but I have never had so much trouble trying to get around in a city before, and I have ridden in many cities, big and small. I could see motel signs but could not figure out how to get there.
Somehow I found a hospital and talked to some firefighter/paramedics about places to stay. I tried to follow their directions, but there are so many one-way streets and bridges you can't get to, that I could not find my way. I did find a few motels, but they were either full, or high-rises with no safe place to park the Road King. I ended up wasting a lot of time riding around Charleston.
I was amused when I stopped at Wendy's and asked the young woman for directions back to the highway. She thought about it for a second and then stammered something like "you have to be from here" or you'll never get where you're going. To this moment I still don't know exactly how I got back onto Interstate 64, but it was a long and tiresome ride in circles in the dark.
A short distance south of the city, I-64 becomes the West Virginia Turnpike. It was late, it was dark, and there wasn't any room to pull over and make notes, but I seem to recall a toll-booth, one or more service areas, and another toll booth where I had to stop and give them a dollar and some change. I can't remember how much it was.
Near Beckley WV, I-64 leaves the Turnpike and continues east. I pulled into a Shell Station in Beckley for fuel at 11:15 p.m., then continued to Dawson WV, where I found the parking lot of the Dawson Inn full of motorcycles and the hotel full as well. I even asked the clerk if I could sleep on the couch in the lobby, but no dice. So I continued into the darkness.
About 20 miles later, at exit 169 in Lewisburg WV, I found the Greenbrier Inn, which was full, but then found the Days Inn on the north side of the freeway. It was 12:55 a.m. and they had a room. It was not cheap, but they had a room. It was $75 plus tax because it was a holiday weekend, but they had a room.
A nearby sign said it was 58 degrees F. I parked the Road King on the sidewalk right outside the room, since cars were parked in all the nearby parking spots. I employed the theory that sometimes "it is easier to seek forgiveness than permission." It turned out that nobody was bothered.
I turned on CNN while unpacking, made some notes, had something to eat and checked the maps. I took a shower and melted into bed about 2:00 a.m. It had been a long day. I had started in one state, ridden through two others, and finished in a fourth. IL, IN, KY, WV in approximately 20 hours. Whew!
Miles for the day = 691. Miles for the trip = 2894.
Tomorrow: mist, heavy moisture, rain, fog, and the Black Dog Ranch.