Black Hills to Home
Home Up


When I lived in Washington state a few decades ago, I saw these signs for Wall Drug.  What the heck would I want in a drug store in SD?  Well, you name it, Wall has it.  Fuzzy, Linda, Gregg, JoJo, Joe, Val and I head out early Friday morning to find the famous Wall Drug.  It is as good a place as any to have breakfast; 5 cent coffee, and a free donut does not sound too bad for starters.  The eggs, sausage and fried potatoes are great chasers too.  :-)  We have 500 miles in front of us today and we need to keep our strength up.

In Wall, Val and I settle on a few small trinket's just to remember the occasion by, and then head over to the gas station with the rest of the gang.  On the way over, Val drops some post cards into the post office mailbox.  Unlike the times I mail post cards when traveling by air, the cards Val dropped into the box might just make it home before we do.

We set our sights for Algona and head out, stopping every 100 miles or so for gas, food or just a rest.  Its starting to get rather warm and the heat wave is protected to stay on our tails all the way home.  So we are highly motivated to keep the pace up.  It only reached 98 degree today.  Not too bad.  The benefit of the heat when going through the corn fields of Iowa, is that the turkey and hog farms really boast a full bouquet for the olfactory's to really appreciate.  This ode du fowl really does not hit us until we run the Iowa dragon on route 18 (there is a section just after crossing over the Big Sioux River where the road bends back and forth several times).  The smell brings teats to our eyes.  The problem was that there was a farm every 5-10 miles.  Oh my.  It was ripe.  Jojo says I have a stinky GPS.  It is programmed to find the stinky-est routes to travel in Iowa.

The hotel (American Inn) in Algona was a welcome sight.  Fuzzy and Linda went to Stick's to stay the night while the rest of us hotel it for the night.  This is not because we can't accept Diane and Stick's hospitality, its just that old habits die hard.  Besides, I was needing a swim and hot tub and a swim and hot tub and swim.  It was late, but the pool was still open.

The next morning starts out in a bit of a fog; inside and out.  But the group is showing the way ahead of me so I just follow the fender for a bit.

Our first destination today (Saturday) is to J&P Cycle to pick up a tire for Buddha.  He is riding on rubber the thickness of a ....  Well, it is really thin.  He is riding in full pucker mode hoping the tire holds until it can be replaced.

On the way to J&P, we pass a lot of wind mills.  Iowa is said to have the potential to provide 5% of the nations electricity needs.  I believe it.  There are almost as many windmills as there are cornfields.  You can read more about Iowa wind power in a 2001 report prepared by the state of Iowa.  Iowa Hybrid Power Report.

We made it to J&P just before lunch, pick up the tire and then boogey for Fuzzy's dealer which will install it for Buddha.  I was a little disappointed with J&P though.  Here is one of the prime MC mail-order parts store in the country, and they don't have a chrome key-slot shroud.  Not to worry, maybe Pete has one.  He's had everything else I've needed for parts on this trip.  Pete Hatfield, owner of Hatfield Motorsports, is the most fabulous owner/dealer in the country.  He not only had his shop drop everything to put the tire on for Buddha, but he also took parts off of a Goldwing on the sales floor for my wing and had all of the chrome goodies I could want for the wing.  Pete was simply awesome.  Thank you Pete!

While we wait for the tire to be mounted, we cross the street to a little Mexican restaurant called El Allende.  It was nothing to look at on the outside, but inside is was cool and the food and service were top shelf.  After lunch the tire is done and we head over to Fuzzy and Linda's for a last farewell visit.  It was hard parting with our friends, but we had to keep going.  We were going to try and make it to Indianapolis by dark.  We still had 350 miles of riding to do and it was nigh unto 2pm.  Lets roll.

We didn't make it 350 miles, but we did put down over 300 before we called it a night in Crawfordsville, IN; about 40 miles west of the Indiana state capitol.  600 miles were clocked all told today.  Val did quite well, but I was developing a serious case of monkey butt.  We stayed at a Comfort Inn and received a great rate thanks to JoJo and her government rating.

The next day started out pretty well.  The temps were rising but still tolerable.  Shortly after entering Ohio, Gregg indicates he needs a stop.  I look at him and nod OK and point to the tank. He shakes his head and puts his hands together up close to his face.  What the heck?  I give him the 5 mile sign and set sights for New Paris, OH.  We pull into the Petro Truck stop and Buddha takes the bike straight for a shady spot to the right of the entrace, dismounts and lays down.  This is when I discovered that like me, Gregg has type II diabetes and his blood sugar was way too high. When that happens to me, the only thing I feel like doing is taking two Tylenol and taking a nap.  This is also when we found out that his breakfast did not include protein.  This is a problem for folks like us.  Too many carbs and it coverts to sugar to quickly and we are toast.  It was a little scary, but he pulled through after resting and eating some protein.  Whew!  I had visions of horror with Buddha blacking out while traveling 80 MPH on the super slab.  I silently said more prayers.  We will need extra support on this run.

After entering Pennsylvania we started heading south on I-79 to catch I-68 for nice run through the mountains of NW Maryland.  It was time to stop so we get off the first exit we come to on I-79, but there was nothing at the exit.  The only thing I saw was a KOA camping sign and an arrow pointing to the right.  We follow a series of signs and wind on down some twisty roads to the KOA campground where they had plenty of shade, cold sodas and gifts in the office, and lawn chairs on a porch in front of the shop.  Rick and Sharon were very friendly and accommodating.  It was unusual but also one of the more enjoyable stops on Sunday.  No highway noise, friendly hosts at the camp ground, and guests curious about the bikes.  What MC rider doesn't like talking about the bikes he rides or the ride he is on.  It was a delightful stop and we left fully refreshed.  This helped us put down another 500 mile day without a doubt.

Our last overnight stop was in Frostburg, MD.  The most significant part of this stop was the Italian restaurant where we had dinner and got a chance to learn more about Gregg and JoJo.  They are just awesome people and I was starting to dread our departing on our separate ways once we got to Hagerstown.  We are going to have to make a few runs down toward the DC area and hook up with them for a ride in the near future.

After leaving Gregg and JoJo, we pass through Gettysburg, York, and Ephrata on our way to the Penna Turnpike.  It was hot!  Temps consistently hit 99 on the temp display of the Wing.  At one point on the turnpike in Norristown, PA it was 101.  On this stretch of constant 98-101 temps, to help us from passing out from the heat, at every stop we took our mesh jackets off and soaked our t-shirts in the cold water of the sink.  After putting the t-shirts back on and the mesh over the t-shirt, hitting the road in the heat was really not too bad.  We had to stop every 60 miles; about 1 hour.  The t-shirt was completely dry in this period of time.

We finally arrive home safe and sound at 5pm Monday.  In 4 days, we travel 1900 miles.  The entire 13 day trip covers 5000 miles.  What a trip and what a God send Val was on this trip  I really don't know what I would have done without her.  She kept me alert by talking with me, forced me to stop more frequently then I usually stop to help her manage her comfort.

Musings and observations to follow in additional pages, ... later.