Day 20
July 2nd, 2005
Rockford, Illinois

I was on the road by 7:30am, so much for sleeping in late, but at least the sun was out when I began the day.
It would be nice to write the day would be a kaleidoscope of small towns, friendly people and interesting back roads, but it was none of that.  Instead it was a 500+ mile interstate ride.  It was time to head for home, my wife was waiting, and a big holiday bash was in the works.  

Weather was cool and sunny as I went to I-39 south.  Traffic was not bad, and the 1300 was quickly in the flow of things.  The jet stream was only a few miles south, and once crossing it, heat and humidity would pick up.  Something I wasn't looking forward to.

Riding south, I knew I had just missed Chicago, located a few miles to the east.  I thought about flying into the city on the UK ride, and how I probably looked down on some the roads I'll be riding today.

Near Mendota I saw a disabled Gold Wing on the shoulder, something you never see; a broken down HONDA, but this bike was at least 20 years old.  The rider was nowhere to be seen, so I kept moving.

Traffic was moving speed limit +5, which in Illinois meant I was riding a sedate 70 mph.

Lots of motorcycle traffic moving in both directions. (mostly Harley) it was Saturday and folks had some riding to get in.

I was nearing the end of a long tour, and was feeling good.  I'd seen America's most breathtaking landscapes, and leaned and twisted on the grandest motorcycle roads you could imagine, now I was on this boring interstate just knocking down miles. I noticed the odometer and noted,  "This tour is gonna come in close to 9,000 miles, as many as last year, when I went to British Columbia."  I wondered how that was, but the meter doesn't lie.

In Bloomington I went to I-74, and connected to I-57 South in Champaign.  A few miles later I took the Pesotum exit seeking refuge in a small con store.  I bought a Mountain Dew and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I used the last of my bread, "I guess tomorrow I'll have to do without."

A man on a Venture Royal with his little girl on pillion came to the pumps.  He pumped gas, went in to pay, and came back out.  He was loading back up when I heard a noise, and a yell, "LOOK OUT! he shouted, the bike was going over, and the little girl jumped clear.  I missed how it happened, only saw the result.  I ran over to help, but he got the bike up before I could get there.  The Yamaha had crash bars that saved any damage.  Everybody was ok.

A fuel delivery truck pulled in, and forced me to move the 1300 to another spot.  I pushed it a few feet and he came by.

I called Uncle Phil.  "Watcha doin?"

 "Eatin breakfast."  Joker loves to eat breakfast.  He went to his computer room and got out the atlas.

  "Where ya at?"

 "Pesotum."  I could hear him sigh, "lets meet me in Paducah exit 4, I'll be leaving out in a little while, soon as I finish eatin."  

"Ok brother see ya shortly."

Back on the road, and time to put down more mindless miles.  That description was generous on I-57 south.  I tried to entertain myself looking at farm country and singing songs, but nothing seemed to work very long.  It was a long ride south to Kentucky.

I overtook a large group (about 20) of south bound Harleys and Gold Wings.  I believe they were 2 gangs that somehow merged into one.  The 1300 filtered through and around the many different kinds of bikes, most riding 2 up.  Some were touring bikes, some were cruisers, but all made room for me when I came around.
I took the Mt. Vernon exit for lunch, because I was bored stiff, not hungry.  The Denny's looked as good as any so I went there.  I took in my camera to edit a few pictures, also the Axim to catch up on some journaling.  I knew I was going to eat bad at the Loveless tonight so I had grilled chicken and rice.  I took comfort in the fact I would be able to run again tomorrow afternoon.

Debbie called and we spoke about our plans for the 4th of July.  "Mike and Beth (in laws) are planning on us coming to the lake."  "That sounds good, they always blow it out bigtime."  "Everyone will be there."  "I'll be home by lunch Sunday, I'll be with Uncle Phil in a little while, and from Nashville it will be a easy ride."

As I was leaving, a group of waitresses gathered around someone in street clothes by the front door.  They were comforting her, and I gathered she had a recent death in the family.  Working people always seem to be there when you need them.  I left a 2 dollar tip and paid my tab.

The 1300 was waiting for me in the parking lot, and I had to get going.  It was a good feeling, at the same time a let down, to know my trip would be over soon.  I had really enjoyed this tour, and didn't want to let it go.  

The riding was routine to I-24 where I peeled off for Kentucky.  I've been through here more than a few times and never really liked it.  

I crossed the Ohio River and was back in the south about 2pm.  I was also south of the jet stream and temps and humidity were rising.  

The ride from Mt Vernon to exit 4 seemed longer than it actually was.  Big trucks and Florida mini vans seemed to dominate.  I came down off the interstate into a thicket of con stores, fast food joints, and shops.  I looked around for Uncle Phil's red ST and quickly saw it parked in plain view across the street.  I pulled in, and was reunited with my old buddy.

"dang man, how long ya been here?"

"I dunno an hour?"

"well dayum, how'd ya beat me here by a hour?  Ya musta flew up here"

"well you know me, I get lost with the miles sometimes, and just ride."

I went inside for a Dew and a muffin then found a place in the shade.  A couple from Texas on a Gold Wing saw our STs and came over to quiz us.  We spent too long chatting with them, but they were nice folks.
​We met this nice couple from Texas.  They love the GL 1800.
Notice the joker in the background pumping gas, he has on one
 of those tourists outfits, folks up north like to wear when 
they come south.  He also drives a mini van.   He captures
all the stereotypes southerners have of our Yankee brethren.

It was a long break, but at last it was time to ride again.  I followed Uncle Phil back up to the interstate and we took off for Tennessee on I-24.

There were more speed traps on the way to Tennessee then I'd ever seen previously, ANYWHERE.   In Kentucky a state trooper was parked on a overpass checking southbound traffic.  A half mile later we saw at least 6 units writing tickets over a 2 mile spread.  It was awesome.  The guy on the bridge clocked, and radioed a buddy to make the stop.

We went into Tennessee and I saw police units in bushes, behind signs etc, working the holiday traffic.  Talk about a show of force.  

The closer to Nashville, the thicker the traffic.  Lines of cars were making their way south to Nashville and Florida.  Uncle Phil and I picked our way around the slow moving RVs and trucks, and ran with the big dogs in the fast lane.  

Uncle Phil exited and I followed, the miles from Paducah went by quick despite the police presence.  We went to a con store for a break.  I was inside shopping when a young man stopped me and paid me (Uncle Phil too) one of the best compliments I'd ever received on a tour. 

"Y'all passed me a few miles back, and when ya went by I said, "Man those guys, must ride alot.  Y'all were so smooth and effortless working through traffic, always knowing what's going on, seemed 2 steps ahead of everyone else.  Then I saw that red bike had over 100k miles, and I knew I was right." 

Uncle Phil said, "well yeah, we ride a good bit."  He was dazzled by the tales we told him of the places we'd been, the things we had seen, and the miles put down.  He said he use to ride, but not any longer, but after seeing us, he was fired back up to ride again.  Always a good feeling when you inspire some one else.

After the break I followed Uncle Phil down a few Tennessee back roads to the Holler.  It was good riding, and much better than the 500 plus miles I'd just put down on the interstate.  We slid down a road next to the Cumberland River ( think that is the correct name)  The surface was excellent and the curves sharp.  It was good to be in the lush green of Southeast America, after all those miles in the desert and plains.  It was good riding.  

In what seemed like minutes we were on Charlotte Pike Road and pulling in Uncle Phi's driveway after a 575 mile day.  "Dang, farther than I thought it was going to be from Rockford."  I parked the 1300 next to his boat and set the stand.  It was good to be in the Holler again, for all practical purposes I was home.  I put my bags in my usual room, then took a shower.  We were going to the Loveless for supper and needed to beat the crowds.
I loaded up with Uncle Phil and Sharyn and we made the short drive to the Loveless, located just off the Natchez Trace, and a Nashville landmark.  

"Baby, bring me that fried chicken, been thinkin on it for 9,000 miles and tonight I'm gonna blow it out.  My last night on the road and I'm celebratin."

I told Uncle Phil to say a prayer at supper thanking the Lord for looking out for me all these many miles.  
Uncle Phil was right, it was the best chicken I'd had in a long time.  I ate my fill of jelly biscuits and kicked back.  It was great way to end a trip.  Good friend and good times.  I basked in the glory of such a awesome ride and tour.  
End of tour celebration with Uncle Phil at the Loveless Cafe.
When supper was over I took a walk over to a con store for a Mountain Dew to drink later.  
Back at the Holler I sat up late with Uncle Phil in his study, talking about the ride just ending, rides in the past, and rides we'd like to do.

"Yanno Uncle Phil, I think I'm gonna trade the 1100 in on the new RT when I get back."
"yeah I really like the looks of that bike."

"I thought about taking a ride out west this year, but just can't see tryin to do it in 7 days.  I mean I could, but wouldn't be any fun."

"Yeah I wouldn't take a trip if it wasn't goin to be fun, what would be the point?"

We sat up a while longer, then headed for bed.  I'm going for a early start to arrive home by lunch.  It has been a great trip and I was looking forward to returning home to Debbie, my son, training,  and all the other things that make my life so much fun.