Day 1: Stormy Start

Saddle bags have been mounted. Backpack stored in heavy duty plastic bag and tied across the seat over the saddle bags. It is sunny and already hot upon departure around 9.30. Flight plan: Terre Haute, St Louis, catch R66 at Eureka just for the word of it.

The hills of Indiana are dry. Up & down, nowhere a straight stretch, rural America with a touch of rundown trailers in which people live and junk cars without any life anymore. Boarded-up ruins next to bright-white painted houses with well-kept yards and the American flag. More churches than bars. Jesus lives here.

The MS wants to go, she doesn’t seem to notice the extra weight; I do a little. Speed limits are to be obeyed and vary frequently. The scenery is peaceful, Hoosier speed of life is slow.

Foreign territory starts at the Illinois stateline. Dark clouds are moving in, headwind. Lightning over I70 where I am going. Or not. Just before the storm hits I find a deserted falling-apart hotel, its entrance protected by a large porch with its roof intact. Cover. A few minutes later, 2 HD couples join me. Dark skies as far as we can see. Calls are being made to St Louis: dry there. A truck driver stops to say that we will be really hammered if we continue. No use waiting for hours. The storm is heading East, we are heading west. Just meet it head-on. So: rain gear and on we go, three motorcyles, there is safety in numbers. Just make it to the storm’s other end. About 100 miles of rain leave us soaked, riding at 50mph, passing trucks showering us with extra waterfalls. The end is suddeny there. Sunshine, dry I70, terribly hot and humid instantly. Rain gear goes out again. The HD couples continue without any protective clothing, they do use helmets to my relief. I remain fully armed. The convoi proceeds now at 60-65 mph.

About 20 minutes later, from nowhere, within a few minutes a second thunderstorm with torrential rains and explosive lightning announces the end of times. Streets turn into rivers. A mad rush to the protective cover of another nearby hotel, this one in operation. Hotel management is OK with us seeking refuge. Almost impossible. The rain falls horizontally under the porch’s roof. As suddenly as it came, so quickly it passed.

The convoi breaks up. The HD’s have St Louis as home turf. I pay a personal, symbolic tribute to the 600+ foot Gateway to the West and head west on I44. Off at Eureka to find R66; at Eureka despite its name is nothing worthwhile like an attractive hotel to be found. Go west, my son. Made easy by the R66 Historic Society of Missouri which has placed R66 road markers to help the poor motorcyle rider who doesn’t rely on a GPS program to keep him on the right path. Memorizing the erratic course of R66 is a mission impossible. Having to stop to study maps is a nuisance. Should I have had a tank bag with a transparant card holder? Probably not, if you need reading glasses.
The markers are a great help, but not full-proof. The EZ66 detailed maps prove to be a reliable compass.

I hit the brakes at a Quality Inn with a pool; I am in Pacific. After a day of riding this will do. So much for finding a vintage R66 hotel/motel. Many more days to score those. My watch is an hour off suddenly. Another timezone.

The twilight zone of time and place. The essence of R66.

Harold – “Ride to Tell”

Comments Off

Comments are closed at this time.