Day 19
July 1st, 2005
Jamestown, North Dakota

Another early morning greeted me.  "Dang, I thought I was on vacation?  All these crack of dawn starts necessary?"  Yes, I prefer early starts so I can have a leisurely afternoon, and as much as I stop and poke around, never hurts to put some time in the bank.

There are no traffic jams or clogging commuter lines in Jamestown.  You just get on I-94 and ride.  Weather was perfect, a cloudless sky, but I was looking into a bright eastern sun.  Temps were a coolish 48 degrees so I layered a sweatshirt, and went back to lined gloves.

The 1300 quickly settled on 85 mph and together we started churning out the miles.  I was beginning to see a few more tress, indicating the long ride across the Plains was almost over.  

Every exit of I-94 to Fargo was under construction, and long sections of the road bed were being repaved.  I spent a lot of miles in single lane by passes, but traffic was light, and I encountered no back ups.  

I made quick work of the miles to Fargo, and came through the city without even touching the brakes.  It felt good to get the city behind me, because I felt cheated out of it yesterday.

After crossing into Minnesota, I thought it better slow down.  I dropped back to 70 mph, and it felt like walking.  I didn't have any evidence, just a suspicion, but I figured ambushing folks coming off the North Dakota autobahn might be a good tactic.  One second you're in a state where they don't really care how fast you go, and the next thing you know the speed limit drops, and they DO care. 

That feeling was backed up when I passed a trooper with a SUV (Washington tag) in the radar net, 5 miles east of the state line.

I-94 took me past the backyards of farmhouses and lakes.  The land is full of big and small lakes the state is famous for.  Geography can change quickly in America, from plains to lakes and timber in just a few miles.  I welcomed the change after all those miles on the prairie.  

Again, interesting side roads sprouted off I-94.  How I wished to check a few out.  The weather was gorgeous and the roads dipped and meandered to who knows where, and that was where I wanted to be.
​"interesting side roads sprouted off I-94.  How I wished to 
check a few out."

I went around a RV with a load of driftwood tied to the rear bumper, where they usually carry the mopeds.  The whole thing looked kind of tenuous, so I went around quickly.  I guess firewood was hard to come by where they came from.

Scared off by the trooper a few miles back, no rabbits came by me.  I was stuck at 70 mph.  No way will you ever see ME the fastest guy out there.  

The exit for Alexandria is a busy place.  I came off 94 into a maze of service roads, and boulevards.  I had a choice of con stores, and went to the one that looked easiest to get to and out from.  The store had a few window booths, and I ate my sandwich and read the paper.  I called Debbie and gave her a status report, and just generally hung out.  

I brought my atlas in.  I was going to HAVE to make a route change.  I CAN'T ride interstate ALL day.  The day was too nice to waste it.  I checked a few routes.  I decided to leave I-94 and ride south, then east to pick up the Great River Road at Red Wing.  These routes would bring around St. Paul, and also show me what the state is really about.  Over the years I'd spent a fair amount of time in Minnesota, but none near the river.  

I'd often wondered why they named the river the Mississippi.  I mean, it really doesn't do anything with the state other then form a border.  It doesn't start there, or end there.  It seemed more fitting it should be named the "The Minnesota," after all, that is where it begins.  Too late to change now.

Be that as it may, I followed my notes and took exit 131 and headed south on SR 4.  I just wasn't up to a all day slab ride.  The riding was good again, and I settled in to see where the road might take me.

First place it took me was an accident scene.  Approaching in the distance I saw something on the road ahead.  I slowed and started scanning the area.  On instinct I fell back to my years in the fire service.  In the fire department, you always size up an accident scene to identify potential hazards.   Things like a downed power line, ruptured fuel tanks, small fire that could get worse, victims trapped, or on the roadway etc. 
​I found this wreck on SR 4.  Note the 1300 is in front of 
crashed car.  Making sure no one runs over it.

The mishap had just taken place, steam was spewing from the radiator of one of the vehicles.  The size up revealed vehicle one rear ended vehicle 2, and put him in the ditch.  I pulled the 1300 around the car (using the disabled car as a shield) and set the stand to check for injuries.
​"The size up revealed vehicle one rear ended vehicle 2, and 
put him in the ditch."

Everybody appeared ok.  I shouted to the driver in the ditch, "are you ok?"

  "YES, I think so. What HAPPENED?"

  He was an older man, and not sure of where he was.  The other driver was a teenager, he looked about 18 years old.  I got out my cell phone and called the wreck in on 911.  My experience allowed me to pass on the info with nothing the dispatcher didn't need.  I knew the first thing dispatch was going to ask for was location, so I looked around for a mile marker or other landmarks.  We were near a local road named Hazelwood.  Seeing I was on a cell phone, the dispatcher, true to her training asked my location.

 "Nature of your emergency and location?" 

"SR 4 and Hazelwood Road, 2 vehicle accident, no injuries, 1 lane blocked."  

"Do they want a ambulance?" 

"They say no."

 "A unit is on the way."

After that I asked the boy what happened. 

"I dunno I looked down to do something and WHAM!"

  "Damn son! You gotta pay attention out here!"  It was apparent he was too fast for the conditions, and not focused.  The man wasn't even turning, he was going down the road minding his own business, and the kid just ran over him.

A few minutes later a lady in a SUV arrived and said she knew the man.  I told her a deputy was on the way, but it might be a state trooper.  I asked her if she was going to stay, till helped arrived. 


"Well I'm gonna get back on the road, good luck."

I followed SR 4 south to Litchfield, where I went to U.S. 12 East.  I was kind of hungry and decided to beat the lunch crowd.  In Dassel I found the 3rd Street Cafe and went in looking for something to eat.

The cafe has tables, a few booths and a bar with stools.  I took a booth by the window so I could watch the 1300.  A young high school girl, working her summer job, came for my order.  Her name was Sara, and I could tell she was new because she wrote the order down neatly.  Not like the doctor scribble most waitresses employ. 

A man sat at the bar eating a hamburger and reading the paper.  The only patron in the place aside from me.  Three older ladies were gathered around the cash register. One was the owner, the other 2 hired help.  All of them were on the high side of 40.

"I'll have the chicken noodle soup, and toast." 

"That's all?" 

"Yeah baby I'm eatin light now days." 

I made a few phone calls, put in some notes, and kicked back.  I called Motel 6 and booked a room in Rockford, Illinois, and secured it with my AE card for a late check in.  I knew it was going to be a slow go from here.  The soup was good, and so was the toast.  Once again my accent gave me away-

Sara came back to refill my diet Coke.  "So where ya goin?"

"On my way home back to Alabama." 

I noted a jar with homemade cookies.  "Tell ya what baby, bring me one of those Oatmeal cookies for desert." 


I noted a country station on the radio, and when Sara brought my cookie over I said.  Baby, I gotta secret but ya can't tell anyone k?"  She smiled and bent down, "okay what?" 

"I'm Kenny Chesney's cousin."


That was all the ladies at the register needed to hear.  Immediately I was pounced on.  "Ohhhhhhhh I love Kenny, I knew you looked like someone, and that accent gave ya away."

"WHOA!  I'm just kiddin, NO I'm not."

Sara said.  "YES you are!  You're just sayin that so we won't ask for stuff."  The lady with a bun hairdo said the same.  "No need to pretend, we KNOW you are."

I was going to have to argue with them to convince them I wasn't.

"Ladies if I could get his autograph for ya I would, but he wouldn't know me from that dog walking outside."

"oh you're so bad."

"well it ain't my fault everytime y'all hear a southern accent up here ya think he's a singer or a race car driver."

"Well that might be true, but you didn't have to play us to make a point."

Finished with the big hoax I thought I better get on the road before they accused me of being Jeff Gordon's brother.

I left Dassel going south on SR 15.  The road was choked in traffic.  Thankfully, most of it was moving north.  Almost all pulling RVs or some kind of boat.  With so many lakes, everyone in Minnesota has a boat.

I passed cars when I could, but most of the time I behaved myself.  In Hutchinson I pulled into the local park and removed my sweatshirt, and vented out the Roadcrafter.  The first time in many miles I had the suit open.
In Winthrop, I checked over to SR 19.  I went by the con store I stopped at in 2001 and recalled the conversation I had with a retired high school teacher.  Funny how paths can cross in a country as big as ours.  But I've criss crossed this land so many times on back roads, it was getting easy for me to do.

The closer I came to the river the more traffic picked up.  After many miles on the open ranges of the American West I was a little spoiled.  I was trying to reprogram myself to East America riding.
By the time I made it to Cannon Falls my light was flashing so I came in for gas and a a Mountain Dew.  A Gold Wing couple from Michigan came in beside me and we had a conversation.  They had spent most of the day on the River Road.  

Finally I made it to Red Wing.  A busy port on the Mississippi River.  The city plays on its historical ties to the river, and the streets and shops do a brisk business.  The road funneled me through the business district, and across the bridge.  I have a special feeling when I cross the Mississippi on my way home from out west.  Now I know I'm back in my part of the country, and home is only a day's ride away if I need it to be.

A lot of motorcycles were out this Friday before the July 4th weekend.  Most of them Harleys.  After all this is their part of the country.

On the Wisconsin side a local road made a trail down to the river.  I took it to get a closer look at the water.  A bar/restaurant located on the bank was doing a brisk business with the Harley crowd.  I took a few pics and went back to SR 35.  
​I took this picture of  Red Wing, Minnesota on the 
east side of the Mississippi River.

The Great River Road is a series of roads that follows the Mississippi River.  It crosses the river back and forth a few times as you follow along.  The highway has a distinct ship's wheel sign to follow.  It is generally agreed, the best part of the ride is between Rew Wing, and Des Moines, Iowa.  Thus, my reason for being here.
​Along the shores of Lake Pepin.  It was formed by one of
the Mississippi Deltas.  It is 22 miles long.

The riding was good as the road followed the water, and as promised it was not a half mile away, but in view.  I could see barges working the river, and passed through the towns that sprung up when the locks and dams went into operation.  The road has a few gentle sweepers, and I leaned the 1300 when called upon.  

The towns were spaced evenly out, mimicking the river locks.  Each had a bar, a few houses and shops, and a nice view of the water.  
​Following the Great River Road, through the lock and dam
villages and towns.  Good riding.

I spotted a north bound 1300 near one of the towns.  We both gave a hearty wave.  The miles went by slow on the River Road.  Traffic was not bad, but slowing for towns and the speed limit in general, made it tough to put down miles in any significant chunks.  

The roadway threaded under a few bluffs, and the scenery was good.  
​The Great River Road flows between the bluffs and the river.
A house in Fountain City had a early model Gold Wing for sale, and I went over to check it out.  I like classic Asian bikes and if I had the money I'd own a few.
Not sure, but I think this is a 1976 model Gold Wing.  I use
to own a 1978 model.

At the  SR 53 and 35 intersection I got lucky when a long RV, trailering a car, yielded the right of way to me even though it was his to take.  When I saw it the first thing that popped in my mind was, "oh man I'm gonna be stuck behind that underpowered behemoth for the next 30 miles."  It was a great relief when he waved me on.  He entered the intersection with 8-10 cars locked down behind him.

I wonder if they ever feel guilty at how they choke the highways of America.  Everyone deserves to travel as they please, but they just seem to relish at punishing the rest of us.  

When I arrived at La Crosse I left the highway to check the map.  I went to a closed business office parking lot, and broke out the atlas and a twizzler.  It was late afternoon and I needed to join back up with I-94.  I was still a long way from Rockford, but I was glad I made the detour.  The little jaunt added 200 miles and several hours to my journey.

With the sun slipping away, I went I-94 east, anticipating a less than good ride the last 200 miles.  The sun was some what to my left, and projected my shadow bigger then life on the grass and hills beside me.

By the time I got to Tomah it was almost dark.  I don't like riding in the dark because I don't see as well as I use to.  I will if I have to, and this was one of those times.  I had the PIAAs now, and they made it safer and brighter.  

A rest area came into view and I took it to close the vents on the Roadcrafter and to go back to lined gloves.  The temps were steadily dropping.  

The interstate was thick with holiday traffic, but I played it cool and watched myself and everybody else.  I kept the PIAAs on in the dark, I'm sure some thought them too bright, but sorry, I WANTED to see and be seen.

Greasy spots from deer strikes were numerous, I could tell by the green foliage a lot were in the area.  Again, they were my worst fear, but I saw none on this night.

My lights reflected off a chrome trailer far ahead, it almost blinded me when I came around.  Dose of my own medicine, and in the distance I saw fireworks blasting over head.  

It was a long ride to Madison, I was chilled, but not cold in the 52 degree air.  I followed the signs through the city, and kept booking for Rockford on I-90.

The reserve light came on in Janesville, so I exited to find gas.  I made a bad choice when I found no con stores close by.  I was going to have ride a few miles into the city to find one.  The area of the city I was in did not look prosperous and the stations I came across were closed for the night.  

A few miles of riding found me at a red light waiting for a arrow to let me turn left.  In my mirrors I noticed several bikes approaching.  Next thing I know I'm surrounded by Harleys on all sides.  They wore tank tops, beanie helmets and do rags.  The leader was on my left-

" Well looky, looky, here." 

"Man, this ain't good." I thought.  They said some things I couldn't understand.   I wasn't wearing any colors so I wondered what they might want, or they just viewed me as entertainment.  I pointed at my flicking reserve light, to say, "look I just want some gas and I'm outta here."  It was after 10pm and I'd been on the road a long time.  If things got ugly I figured I'd just take off, I knew they had no chance of ever catching me.  But, the light turned green and they sped off to a Denny's and I went to the station with a 24 hour pay at the pump.

I looked ALL around before pumping gas, and kept my eyes peeled while doing so.  I was kind of nervous and just wanted to get back on the road.  When it was over I had worked several miles from I-90 and had to get back.

Back on the interstate I was still cool, and fired the grips up.  I love those things.  Soon the lights of Rockford came into view, and things were good.  I landed in the office a few minutes before 12 and picked up my room key after a 788 mile day.  The ride in from La Crosse was not much fun, but I was here.

After unloading, supper was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I bought a drink out of the vending machine, and used the PC terminal in the lobby to check email and my checking account. 

It had been a long day, but the riding will be easy all the way home from here.  Tomorrow I do a short 400 miles to Nashville, and the next day 300 miles puts me in my driveway.

I was looking forward to hooking up with Uncle Phil and enjoying supper at the Loveless Cafe.  I'd been thinking about their fried chicken since my last visit there on the UK ride.  Uncle Phil says it was some of the best he'd ever had, and I know he wouldn't lie to me.  I only eat fried chicken once a year now, so can't waste it on just any.

It was almost 1am when I turned the lights off.  I can sleep in just a little later in the morning and intend to.