Day Fifteen by Dave Schultheis
Monday, August 11, 2003 - Angola, Indiana
Although I did wake a few times in the night, I think I slept fairly well, and was awake and moving at 6:25 a.m. "Indiana time."
I wiped a bit of dew from the Road King and walked to the motel's Continental Breakfast room. There wasn't much offered, as is par for the course. I had some apple juice and walked back to my room. It was 64 degrees.
I dressed for riding, packed and loaded the Road King, and started the engine at 8:10 a.m. It was 72 degrees.
Meanwhile, the family next door was outside and dysfunctioning while preparing to get on the road. The small child was whining and the older child was complaining.
So I checked out and left the motel, then backtracked across the freeway and rode to the Angola Post Office to send some clean clothes back home, then returned and rode south on Interstate 69 (also U.S. Highway 27) at 9:50 a.m., then about 15 miles later, turned west on U.S. Highway 6 at exit 134. I stopped for a photo ("Grand Army of the Republic Highway"), then continued through Kendallville IN.
Later I came across a flashing red light and stop sign in the middle of nowhere. Not sure what that was all about.
Somewhere on a church sign, I saw "Visitors Are Expected," and wasn't sure what _that_ was about, either.
I made a note at the time that I saw a Kendall County sign, but as I look at the Indiana map, I don't see Kendall County. It's possible that I was operating the notebook under the influence of Mountain Dew and got something mixed up.
At 10:10 a.m., 79 degrees with cool breeze, I rolled into McDonald's in Nappanee IN, and noted they had "brats" (bratwurst sandwiches) on the menu, but it was too early for lunch.
A few blocks west of there, I stopped at the Nappanee post office to admire a large eagle carving, then took a couple of pictures. While there, a local resident told me about it.
A few years ago, some folks had noticed that the big tree in front of the post office was dead, and made plans to remove it. Someone suggested they contact a local wood carver, who came out and (over time) carved this huge eagle with outstretched wings (formed by limbs). It was then painted red, white, blue and gold.
The resident also pointed me toward a nearby home (Summit @ Van Buren) with more carvings, so I rode there and found an "Uncle Sam" carving ("We Salute All Veterans") made to look like he was standing on a stump and saluting passersby. This home also had two concrete lions on the lawn, each painted red, white and blue. I got pictures of everything.
As I was riding through town, I noted that we were still in Amish country, as I saw a buggy go by, as well as a woman riding a bicycle.
I continued west on U.S. 6, crossed U.S. Highway 31, and beyond Walkerton, crossed into the Central Time zone, although I did not see a sign.
In an effort to stay as far away from Chicago traffic as possible, I turned south on U.S. Highway 35 near Union Center, where I stopped for a picture of a red glass ball in the front yard (?), then continued about 6 miles and turned west on U.S. Highway 30, a four-lane divided highway, where the posted speed limit was 55 miles per hour, and I had to wonder who they thought they were kidding.
At 11:52 a.m. I pulled into a Speedway gas station for fuel at U.S. 30 and U.S. Highway 421 near Wanatah, where it was 80 degrees.
Back on the road, I took a U.S. 30 sign photo, then stopped at Harley-Davidson of Valparaiso IN at 12:23 p.m. They had a bargain table, no Fat Boy logo tee-shirts, and a grey macaw named Willie G. in a cage on the sales floor, complete with signs reminding people to keep their fingers away from the bird. I noted that they could not sell motorcycles on Sundays (another discussion for another time), and that the service department was very clean.
As I went back outside, it was beginning to sprinkle, so I put my rain pants on and proceeded west on U.S. 30.
There was rain near Merrillville IN, and I stopped at a Speedway gas station to change from the smoked shield to the clear shield for my helmet. I don't do this lightly, as I keep the clear shield deep in the saddlebag. But with dark skies and rain, it was necessary. I also put on my yellow raincoat and snapped the soft lowers onto the crash bars.
While parked under the gas station canopy, I talked briefly with one of the female clerks who was taking a smoke-break. She said it was just a few more miles to Illinois, then about 14 miles to Interstate 80. One of the reasons there was so much traffic was that gasoline and cigarettes are much cheaper in Indiana, so lots of Illinois residents come to their station to purchase those items.
As I got back on U.S. 30, there was just too much rain, too much traffic, and too many traffic signals. Evidently I had _not_ gone far enough south to avoid the spillover from Chicago traffic.
At 2:00 p.m. I crossed into Illinois and noticed signs on side-streets saying "U.S. 30 - Lincoln Highway." Eventually there were signs on the same pole with the U.S. 30 signs saying "Historic Route, Lincoln Highway," so I took a couple pictures.
I rode through rain, then construction through Matteson IL, more rain, then passed Interstate 57, then a little more rain, too many traffic signals, too many cars, and more rain.
At 3:00 p.m., U.S. 30 merged directly onto westbound Interstate 80, and almost immediately there was bright sunshine.
At 3:10 p.m. I took exit 127 and stopped at Conrad's Harley-Davidson in Joliet IL, 75 degrees. It was a big place, nobody bothered to say "hello," they did not have any Fat Boy logo tee-shirts, and the porcelain appliances worked just fine. I checked the clearance rack, but couldn't find anything that I could not live without.
Outside I was greeted by an old biker while I was stowing my raincoat. The roads were still moist, so I left the rain pants on, then continued west on I-80.
Down the road apiece, west of Minooka, I stopped at a rest area and was impressed to see a sign showing both a car and a motorcycle (with an arrow) [instead of "Cars this way, Trucks this way"], and took a picture of a sign showing a motorcycle helmet with a hand and the words "Get It On!" Illinois is not a helmet state (for adults), so I assumed the sign must have been aimed at new/young riders.
Some miles down the road, near Ottawa IL, exit 90, I saw a sign indicating a Harley-Davidson dealership, but there were no other signs near the off-ramp, so I could not find the place. I later found in the atlas that I had missed Starved Rock Harley-Davidson. Oh, well. If you put up signs, they may come.
I passed several sections of rough, grooved roadway surface. I did not like it!
Near LaSalle, exit 77, I stopped to remove the soft lowers as the pavement was dry. Unfortunately there was also more construction and more bad pavement after that.
There were dark clouds ahead, so I put my rain coat on again at a rest stop. I also took an Illinois sign picture "Alcohol Limit .08; We Arrest Drunk Drivers" and continued west.
There was more rain and more construction, then I stopped near Anawan IL, exit 33, at 5:30 p.m., 69 degrees, at a Mobil Station for fuel, where it was cool and rainy.
Continuing west on I-80, there was more construction, then more rain, then the rain stopped. A few more miles later, I-80 turned north and I stayed westbound on I-74, past Rock Island and Moline, across the Mississippi River and into Iowa at 6:20 p.m.
I got to the Iowa Welcome Center with some difficulty (very inconvenient location, very small sign, not worth the stop), talked to another touring couple on a Gold Wing, then got back onto westbound I-80, for about two miles, where I stopped for a much better "Iowa" photo.
U.S. Highway 61 snuck up on me with hardly any advance warning (perhaps a sign had been knocked down), and I turned north. The map shows very little of anything in that area, primarily because there is very little of anything there.
I took the off-ramp at IA Highway 136 and stopped to take off my rain coat. While there, a mother and grown daughter, who were out walking, stopped to talk for a moment. They thought maybe the big bad biker needed help, but I 'splained I was just re-clothing for the current weather, but it was nice of them to stop.
Farther north on U.S. 61, I stopped for a picture of avery nice Maquoketa sign, then at IA Highway 64, I saw a sign for the Lazy J Motel, just across the highway, but there was No Vacancy when I got there. There was also a sign saying that Anamosa was 34 miles west, but my Anamosa visit would be another day. It was getting late, and I needed to get up north for a Wisconsin picture.
Back on U.S. 61, about 10 miles south of Dubuque, I spotted a fawn along the highway, and safely avoided it, then rode past the airport and got into Dubuque and across the Mississippi River again, into Wisconsin at 8:15 p.m. It was not safe to stop on the bridge, and there was a great Wisconsin sign way up on the bank of the highway, but a picture of the bike and the sign would have been impossible in the darkness.
I found a visitor center (closed) and a weigh station (no Wisconsin signs), so I rode down a side road a couple miles, found an Illinois sign, then turned around and found the Wisconsin sign, so I took a non-flash, then a flash picture, hoping one of them would come out, then stayed on IL 35, through East Dubuque IL and across a bridge on U.S. 20 to Dubuque IA, where I checked two motels (unacceptable for different reasons), then rode back down U.S. 61 a few miles to a great big Heartland Inn on a hill near U.S. Highway 151, with a couple of gas stations and fast-food places next door.
The Dubuque-South Heartland Inn was a multi-story building with interior hallways, so I could not park the bike in front of my room door, but it was 9:00 p.m. and dark, and I had been riding for many hours, so it was the only likely candidate.
The price was a little high (sixty-something dollars plus tax), but there was no place else around, so I decided that it would (have to) do.
Front-desk clerk Nicki was very helpful. She invited me to park under the portico in front of the office, and checked me into Room 217. I parked the bike under the lights, and took some stuff upstairs. Meanwhile, Nicki said she would make me a couple of hot dogs (they have snacks in the late afternoon and evening hours).
I hung up my jacket in the room (well-lit, two Queen beds, television with CNN, table, chairs, nice bathroom) and decided on the way down that I would not carry everything upstairs. I took the T-Bag (clothes and toiletries) upstairs, but left the tent, sleeping bag and other stuff on the bike, and cabled it to a post for the night.
Nicki apologized that they were out of hot dogs, so I walked to Hardees next door, got some chicken strips and something to drink, and took them upstairs. I noted another couple of motorcycles were parked near mine, in front of the Inn, under the overhang.
Up in the room, I discovered that Sprint PCS worked, so I checked messages, got one from Dave Clements, then called my mother and neighbors back home, checked pager messages, watched another fine Ann Richards appearance on Larry King Live (CNN), took a shower and went to bed near midnight Central Time. It had been another four-state day.
Miles for the day = 426, although it seemed like more. Miles for the trip = 4230.
Tomorrow: a stop at J&P Cycles, time flies, and across the bottom of Minnesota.