Working My Way Home

The main feature of yesterday was heat and many miles east bound on I-80. The Xway is a story in itself. I've noted over the many years driving I-80, passengers would call it grumbling, that there are as many trucks on this highway as cars. Whether in Wyoming or Pennsylvania, the trucks on this road are its primary characteristic. In Wyoming the turbulence of the trucks blasts you as they roar past at 75-mph, in Pennsylvania you pass them as they crawl at 35-mph uphill, and they roar past you on their downhill runs - it's that way all the way across PA! There are so many trucks that just when you get out of the wind turbulence caused by one you get near another and repeat the process. The speed limit for trucks west of Omaha is 75, and they travel it! Just an amazing amount of economic activity travels across I-80 coast to coast. The most common trucking company is FedEx, with Wal Mart the second most common truck seen. Of course the worst place to encounter trucks on this highway is the Gary / Chicago stretch; they outnumber cars in that stretch, or so it seems. On a bike it's like being in a moving canyon when you're between two of these behemoths.

Saw more state troopers on I-80 across NB than in all other states combines, plus a great deal. The police allowed traffic to flow free in all other western states, and they were rarely seen. Traffic flowed free and safely despite no police on the roads. In Nebraska there was a great deal of sideways travel on the highway as cars moved over for the frequent patrol cars with flashing lights on the shoulder - this causes serious safety problems on a highway with a 75 mph speed limit (and all those trucks!)

Heading toward Lincoln late yesterday I was watching a massive black storm mass building behind me and quickly moving east. I could see lightning in my mirrors, and even moving at about 75 I couldn't outrun it. I pulled into the west side of Lincoln and fortunately found a cheap motel quickly. Ten minutes later a massive rain, wind, lightning and thunder storm erupted, and I was able to watch it out the windows. The weather guys on all the local channels usurped normal broadcasting and they were all gaga over the intensity of the storm. It was very hot yesterday. One town just west of Lincoln had a heat index of 119 - the weathermen were all amazed at a dew point in the mid-80s, they said that is extremely rare. Combine that with a temp in the upper 90s and it's record setting conditions.

Everyone I talk to on trips claims that their state has the country's worst roads. Several Californians on this trip claimed with absolute certainty that CA has the worst roads of any state. I disagree; I believe that Iowa does. I rode a lot of 'back' roads in IA both on my way west and back east. They were all terrible. This afternoon I rode about a hundred miles out of my way to Anamosa IA to go to the National Motorcycle Museum (fabulous- well worth a hundred miles on backed up traffic and rough roads to go there!) Every mile of that trip was on very rough pavement, including about 30 miles that they were working on but all that had been done was stripping off the asphalt and leaving an even rougher base to navigate. Every mile they had posted an orange warning sign stating Rough Road. Duh! It made as much sense as putting signs up in the Arctic, in January, warning of snow and cold. We could notice for ourselves that the roads were very rough. Save the money paid for the signs and invest it in asphalt!

The museum was great - an amazingly broad collection of bikes of every imaginable make and model, from the very first through more modern times. A signed affidavit by Peter Fonda even states that the REAL Captain America chopper from the Easy Rider movie is there.

I did an amazingly stupid thing this evening. I had planned to cross the Mississippi around 6:00. I-80 had a very long backup eastbound because of work on the bridge over the river caused stop and go traffic, and all traffic limited to one lane. I spent 45-minutes creeping along making a mile or so. Just as the river came into view I saw that there was one last exit on the Iowa side. I took the shoulder and exited. I turned left toward a gas station (I was getting quite low on gas) and at a light on a road that seemed to lead back to the gas station and a couple of fast food joints, I turned left toward them. The road kind of twisted a bit and ultimately straightened out - as the ON RAMP back to west bound I-80!! I rode back west losing all that ground I had so painfully gained by creeping along in the heat, cussing like no SW should. The next exit was 8 or 9 miles back and of course I took it, following country roads through the corn fields back in the general direction of town and the river. Half an hour later I arrived back, from the opposite direction, at the gas station I thought I was turning in to in the first place.

So I'm still on the west side of the river, but it's a wonderful view and the sun is shining and I'm almost relaxed again.

Tomorrow I tackle the infamous toll road through the greater Chicago megalopolis. Saturday in the Cleveland area at a community event, selling & signing books at their invitation. I will also be part of a large bike event /rally that is going to end up in the park following a long day ride.

It'll be kind of nice to return to normal for a bit after all this road time.

Every trip I take reminds me of what a vast, beautiful, and special country this is. It is truly magnificent in its beauty and its people. I met many wonderful folks along the way and they are all just great. I'm always thankful and appreciative following each long trip.
I saw a burma-shave type sign today along the road. It said: Urban sprawl....sure ain't very pretty....save our farms.....build in the city. Amen, I couldn't agree more. The wisdom of Hawkeyes!