A Late Start, But Heading Due West

Posted on June 26, 2010


As predicted, a late start was had by all. Rudi, feeling the effects of his 12-hour ride yesterday, was a little wobbly at the beginning of the day. Leaving at 11 a.m. was not in anyone’s plans, but at least this was about to feel like a road trip.

Rudi's Clothes Dryer: Sometimes Rainwater Rinse

In the past 48 hours, Rudi has ridden over some of the great rivers on the continent: Tennessee, Cumberland, Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri. He’s crossed into seven states, from Georgia, through neighbors Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and on into Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska.

Rudi has experienced 95-degree heat, dousing himself with ice water on his stops, to the amusement of onlookers, and fought to stay on the road in a severe thunderstorm east of Kansas City (making that decision to put on a new rear tire before leaving look pretty good). But it hasn’t felt like a road trip until today.

Today, leaving Council Bluffs, home of the College World Series … which explains the “no room at the inn” better than Trisha Yearwood in concert does … and why all those young men in baseball uniforms were swarming the breakfast bar in the motel this morning … and heads north for a hundred or so miles until I-29 finds I-90 and the GPS orders Rudi to “TURN WEST for 1,100 MILES”. He enters South Dakota.

The Endless Ribbon Heading West ... West ... West

So 1,199 miles into the trip the sights, sounds, and smells of the trip change dramatically. We are heading west for real. The land flattens as we loosely follow the Lewis and Clark route up the mighty Missouri River toward the Northwest of the country. Fields of corn give way to herds of cattle, and the stench of treated sewage sprayed on grain fields turns to the more pungent aroma of manure near corrals and stockyards.

The road runs away forever, but doesn’t resemble those roads in eastern Kansas Rudi drove as a young man in college in Colorado. This road runs in a more unforgiving country, with gates on the interstate that close when the ground blizzards of winter sweep through here, unchecked for thousands of miles.

Culture Shock For An Easterner: Buy Now, Pay Later

The motorcycle is a good wind vane for wind strength and direction as it gyroscopically moves in response to the winds’ whims. When you see a motorcycle leaning left as it goes down the highway heading west, you know we are in a southwest or southerly wind. The rider is just along for the ride, only correcting when gusts hit or depart. Gas mileage is reduced … you never seem to get a tailwind do you … and the rider must stay more alert.

Culture Shock II: Read The Sign

The Sunflower Lobby Must Be Up In Arms

Boredom is not as easy to deal with. Urinal humor helps. But this endless stream of concrete is interrupted frequently by one lane sections as the interstate is constantly being repaired and resurfaced due to freeze and thaw effects buckling the pavement, giving the rider a chance to stand and stretch legs under 70 mph helping to lengthen the day’s ride.

Other Worldy Formations Greet Rudi

The loose goal for the third day was Badlands National Park, about 500 miles from Council Bluffs. Rudi got a helping hand by crossing into the Mountain Time Zone late in the day, and rode the final fifty miles to the Park confident of success, for once.

The sun was lowering as my Senior Park Pass (Rudi will never be mature enough to be labled a “senior”) gained us entry for nary a dime … thank you to all you hardworking, tax-paying citizens out there making my life of leisure affordable).

It Only Took Rudi An Hour To Pitch His Tent ... Poorly

The plus became a minus, however, when the campground attendant remarked about said same pass, “you got a Senior Pass and you’re still on a motorcycle! Congratulations!” Only the fact that he had already lost one front tooth kept Rudi from removing the other one.

Welcome To Blog Central, Badlands Style

Nice campsite among the storied badlands formations. Until 9 pm when a late-arriving RV fired up his generator to power a few light bulbs for an hour. Then the church group arrives at 11 pm and I hear, “Hey, watch out for that motorcycle. You almost hit it”. Feeling very much like a grumpy senior, Rudi stalks out of the tent and glaringly oversees their parking exercise.

But all is well and the land is beautiful. Might take the 31-mile scenic loop before getting on the road today. Just put oatmeal into the coffee grounds, added sliced apples and hot water and got a “What the hell is that” kind of breakfast. Tuna fish and the other half of the apple saved the day.

The Specialty Of The House, Rudi's House

Might make Missoula by late Saturday. But who knows what the south wind blows.


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Rudi G  & Jesse