Day Sixteen by Dave Schultheis
Tuesday, August 12, 2003 - Dubuque, Iowa
I was awake early, but had slept well, and was up with the alarm at 7:30 a.m. and got busy packing my stuff. The Weather Channel showed nothing but nice weather through Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota.
I shaved, combed and dressed in light clothing for a Continental Breakfast downstairs. By this time in the trip, I'd had plenty of crappy Continental Breakfasts, and some "no thanks," but I was in for a surprise.
This place was unbelievable. Amazing. For breakfast, they offered biscuits and gravy, English muffins, butter, cream cheese, several cereals, apple and orange juices, milk, coffee, cups of batter so that you can make your own waffles (!), yogurt, plastic tableware, and fresh fruit, plus a grandmother to coordinate the whole thing!
Seriously, they had hired a "mature woman" to come in early and prepare all these things, then help anybody who needed assistance, while keeping supplies restocked through the morning hours.
Plus, there was a computer set up in the hotel lobby, a few steps away, so that you could check your e-mail on the go!
If I were a businessman, _this_ would be the place I would stay.
So after a nice breakfast, I went back up to the room and finished my morning routine, dressed warmly for riding, and made a trip or two downstairs to load the bike.
I checked out of the inn, and started the bike under bright but overcast skies, 70 degrees, and got on the road at 9:25 a.m. Moments later I turned from U.S. 61 onto U.S. Highway 151 in a southwesterly direction, took a U.S. 151 picture, and about 40 miles of rolling hillsides later, turned into the parking lot at J&P Cycles, near Anamosa. It was 76 degrees.
I had seen their catalogs and purchased a rain suit from them, but had never been to their store. It was packed with tee-shirts and sweat shirts near the front, then a large display of all types of stuff for all types of motorcycles, on racks and on the walls. I looked at a few lighting devices I was thinking about, and of course, checked the porcelain for proper operation.
I had been looking for a specific product that I could not find, so I asked the counter man, and after some searching, he discovered that the item had been discontinued, so I was out of luck, and I was outta there shortly before 11:00 a.m.
They had discount coupons for their museum, nearby in downtown Anamosa, but I wasn't in a museum frame of mind. I did go into the downtown area on IA Highway 64 to look for gasoline, but the Phillips 66 Station only had two grades of fuel, and I knew I could do a little better than 89.5 octane.
Back out to U.S. 151, I stopped at the BP Station for 93 octane fuel, 73 degrees, and while merging back onto the highway, I heard a "tink" and noticed that my Scooter Clock had jumped off the bike and hit the freeway.
I was able to stop and retrieve it, but the "second" hand and the plastic lens were missing. The adhesive simply wasn't holding the clock to the mounting bracket, and rubber bands were useless. I didn't know if the movement would keep working, so I put it in the saddlebag and figured I would enjoy the ride now and worry about the clock later.
[Don't worry, I have "backup" timing devices.]
In the next six miles or so, there were some light sprinkles, although the skies looked like there might be more unpleasantness ahead.
In Fairview, I found conflicting signs for County Road E34, but found the right road and headed west, then rode through a construction zone, hosted by the Linn County Secondary Roads Department, between Viola and IA Highway 13. The interesting part about this project was _not_ that they had female flaggers holding brightly-colored signs, but that the female flaggers I saw were also wearing brightly-colored long-sleeved lime-green mesh jackets and pants over their tee-shirts and shorts. Talk about your high visibility!
I eventually made it to Interstate 380 (also known as U.S. Highway 218 and IA Highway 27) and turned north, not realizing at the time how close I must have been to Ironhorse's place near Cedar Rapids. I could have gone by and rearranged the flower pots on his front porch, just for fun. Maybe next time.
I stayed on I-380 for about 40 miles. Near Gilbertville, I saw a sign for Union 76, which I had not seen for a while. It was sunny and 80 degrees near Evansdale, where I turned west onto U.S. 20 and good ol' U.S. Highway 63 (remember U.S. 63 from 8 days ago?), running together for a while. When I see things like this, I am just amazed at how "small" this "big" country can be.
U.S. 63 turned south in Waterloo, so I continued west on U.S. 20 for a while, through a few small towns. In beautiful downtown Ackley, I saw a hand-lettered sign on a utility pole saying "Sturgis 656 miles." Musta been a biker's home, eh?
I turned north on U.S. Highway 65 (photo) toward Hampton, then west on IA Highway 3 for 9 miles and north on Interstate 35, heading toward the Minnesota line.
I saw a sign with the Bar & Shield that said "exit 194," then another sign that said "Texaco - Wendy's - exit 194," and thought, "what else could I want?"
At 2:40 p.m. I took exit 194 at Clear Lake IA, pulled into the Texaco Station, cool breeze, 83 degrees, fueled and then moved the bike away from the gas pump (as per their sign) and went into Wendy's. When I got back onto the frontage road and over the freeway, the sign said that the H-D place in Mason City was another 8 miles. I decided to "let it go," and continued north on I-35.
Another hour later I crossed into Minnesota, and stopped twice for "Minnesota" signs along the highway, then stopped at a rest area for another MN sign, then continued north for about 13 miles and turned west onto Interstate 90.
[Why do I stop for a sign picture, after I already have one? Partly because sometimes I see a "better" sign, and partly because I can never be sure that any particular picture will "come out," and it's better to have an "extra" than "not enough." This may change if I ever join the digital revolution.]
At 4:03 p.m., I stopped at Bergdale Harley-Davidson in Albert Lea MN, 82 degrees, where I bought a quart of oil, added about half of it, and saved the rest for later. At 115 thousand miles, they have a tendency to burn just a little oil.
Another couple hours later I stopped at a rest area by the Des Moines river (exit 73 near Jackson MN) for a map check and rest, 80 degrees, then continued another half hour before stopping for fuel at a Shell Station in Worthington MN, exit 45, again 80 degrees.
Here I met a young man riding a Sportster that was very similar in color to my Road King, but he said it was "Impact Blue." At this point I wasn't sure exactly what the difference was, but it was a nice looking bike. His dad's bike was even nicer, a "Firefighter Red" Ultra Classic. Even though they'd been riding a while, both bikes were much cleaner than mine, and looked great!
Frankly, I like the sound of "States Blue Pearl" rather than "Impact Blue." Not sure why, but it might be similar to the reasoning for a person driving a "Crown Victoria" rather than a "Probe."
As I got back onto the highway, I realized that although I was only 45 miles from the South Dakota line, the sun was getting low in the sky and it was hard to see well, plus the South Dakota sign would be really hard to photograph against the sunset, plus it had been a long day, so I decided to look for a motel and ride into S.D. the next morning.
I took exit 12 and stopped at a Super 8, but it wasn't gonna cut the mustard (sorry, I can't remember why), then continued a few blocks and took a picture of a very nice "Luverne Welcomes You" sign, then found the Cozy Rest Motel, right on the main street, also known as U.S. Highway 75 (oops, no photo). It was 7:20 p.m.
The Cozy Rest looked old but friendly, and the woman said she would charge me the single rate ($28) for a room with 2 double beds. There was no AAA discount, nor did she take American Express, but she took my Master Card and gave me the (metal) key to Room 7.
There were plants all over the place near the office, and a few more near each room, and a Schwan's (frozen food delivery) truck parked in front of Room 16, so I knew it couldn't be too bad of a place. I was able to park the bike right outside the room, although there was nothing I could cable it to, but I wasn't too worried. I also noted that the room had a screen door, which was nice for multiple trips to the bike for stuff.
I put down some of my stuff, checked the television (it got CNN, NICK, etc.) and turned on the air conditioner, then rode out to find a convenience store. I found a Shell Station with food store, got some milk, ice, and Mountain Dew, then got a couple (extremely healthy, I'm sure) hot dogs at the Dairy Queen, then rode back to the motel.
I put the ice in a wastebasket to keep the Dew cold until morning, discovered that Sprint PCS worked, reviewed the maps, checked my voice-mail pager and called my uncle in Texas. The signal wasn't as good as I had hoped, so I finished the call on the room telephone by using my calling card, telling them of my progress and that all was well.
Later, another rider checked into a room nearby, and parked his bike pulling a trailer next to mine. On the trailer was a large cross; he was clearly an evangelist. Trying to save souls in Sturgis must be an uphill battle.
I watched some of Larry King on CNN, some (other stuff) on MTV, then took a shower and went to bed around 10 p.m.
[You don't need to know _everything_ I watch, plus I'd probably deny it anyway.]
It had been 2751 miles since my last 10K service, so I was due for an oil change immediately. I would see to that tomorrow.
Miles for the day = 412. Miles for the trip = 4682.
Tomorrow: my first visit to South Dakota, the rare "Z" county sign, and did you know there is a drug store in Wall SD? Hint: if you have ever been on Interstate 90, you would know the answer!