July 2, 2005 – Saturday – Day 7

48 States or Bust – The USA on Two Wheels
Miles Today:459 – Total Miles:1697 – Daily Average:242.4
11am-9:30pm – 10.5 hours
Erie,Pa to Flint,MI
(-stayed at Don & Krista’s-)
(PA,OH,IND,MICH– 13/48)

(9am) Joel reporting in during laundry duty:
Nice chance while the laundry is drying here at the motel to catch up on some other thoughts from along the way.

– Am enjoying the notes that folks have sent in. My friend, Jim, a long time reader of my bicycle trip journal notes wrote in regarding the battery trouble of a few days ago. He wrote, “Man, I recall the days when the only battery you had to jump start on these trips was the one in your chest!” Then he went on to write, “Hey stop worrying about those miles traveled so much and enjoy yourself MORE! You deal with enough deadlines when you are home. Take time to smell the flowers and have fun!” Always good advice. If you want to write, please know that suggestions, questions about things you may be curious about, or just corrections in things I’ve written are appreciated.

– A few folks have wondered if the single picture I send a day is all that we take. Gosh, no. Zillions. But not as many as on the bicycle trips. Just moving too fast to stop on this type of ride. And too fast to see as many things. BTW, a lot of the pictures are taken by Karen as she rides shotgun on the back.

– Had the first journal list casualty. Someone wrote in saying to be taken off the list. Although she enjoyed getting the notes, it was too much to keep up with, and when an entry didn’t come in one day she was very worried. Yeah, I can’t promise to be every single day in getting these out. Just the nature of this kind of trip, but I set it up as one of the challenges of the day to find a way to get these out daily.

– This hotel stuff is a kind of racquet. If one knows how to do it, and one asks the right questions, and if one is in the right place at the right time, and if one catches the desk person in the right mood, it seems that at much as $50 can be taken off the price of the room in a blink of an eye! And the wireless internet service is becoming more and more common. Almost every motel has it now, and some campgrounds even are advertising it. This EconoLodge is the best place we’ve stayed yet, the amenities are handy and the place is spotless. And most importantly, the shower is hot and steady beating.

– McDonalds is taking over the world. They are everywhere. I didn’t realize how ubiquitous that corporation was! Every rest stop, every corner it seems. No wonder the country is getting heavier and heavier. Out this way there are also a lot of Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kremes.

I awoke this morning at my usual 6ish, and went down to the lobby to work on sending out the journal notes and catching up on emails. After getting Karen at about 7am, we gathered up the laundry and headed out for our run to the laundry room in the motel across the big highway. (Many of the motels seem run by the same big conglomeration anymore!) With laundry bubbling we set out on our mile jaunt. (One highway sign along the way, clearly penned by someone with a sense of humor, “Buckle Up for the Next Million Miles.”

When back, we went to the restaurant for it’s wonderful ‘free’ in-house breakfast. (A lot of the places now have griddles and cups of batter nearby so guests can make their own waffles!) Karen checked her e-mail, and then, while she packed up I went back to put the soggy laundry in the dryer and type these notes. When the laundry was done, I went back to the room, we gathered up all our stuff, and we headed out to find what the day had in store for us.

First stop was a Staples down the way a bit. Needed to send more unneeded stuff home and then to the gas station to tank up. Then out onto west Route 90 under a sky of immense white clouds. One can see much more of the sky here because of the nature of the terrain – and the clouds today seemed to be puffed in rolls from one end of the horizon to the other.

It was in the 60’s all day, and a clear and wonderful day it was! By the end of the day we had amassed a trip one-day record of 459 miles through some of the most spectacular weather any motorcyclist could dream of having – mostly on superslab roadway that was fast, clean, and straight. We rode mostly at 80 to 85 mph, except in Michigan where the speed limit was 70, and everyone went so fast that at 80mph a lot of times, we felt like we were standing still. (I never go faster than where I’m in control – or what seems safe. Today that limit reached 95mph a couple of times. It was joyful!)

Around 1pm or so we found a Super K-mart that had an open pharmacy, a lunch area, and a gas station. It was the least expensive gas of the trip so far – $2.13. (Felt good about that until we left, whirled around the block and saw it advertised for $2.09 some place else!) We chatted with a couple older ladies in the K-mart, and one said, “I’d be jealous about your trip, except that I’m too old!”

Except for about half-an-hour where my energy was down a bit in the afternoon, I felt like one possessed on the bike today. Everything was in high gear, and for hours after hours I soaked in the day and the passing scene with grand abandon and delight.

With regard to general decorum, hat hair, and fashion statements: whenever we stop and take off our helmets Karen tries to save her last shred of self-respect by quickly putting on her blue ballcap before we mingle with others.

We met a fellow at the pumps of a rest stop who was driving an old, white ’84 Pontiac Sunbird. He said, “What’s nice about it is that it has a 1.8 turbo which adds horsepower.” He said he got 30mpg with it. Because of car troubles in the mountains he was just giving up on a trek to visit all the ballparks around the United States. When I asked if he had been to Busch Stadium in St.Louis, he said he was just visiting minor league ballparks! We passed him a bit later on the highway – he gave some friendly honks, and we exchanged waves.

Figured out today that we’re getting between 36 and 41.7 mpg on this trip. Guessing the difference has to do with the wind and various speeds. Pretty happy about the mileage, but it’s nothing like what I used to get on the bicycle. (All the pumps have been credit card ones – every one!)

Since putting the “THE USA ON 2 WHEELS – SUMMER 2005” sign on the back of the bike this morning we’ve had quite a number of energetic thumbs-ups, broad smiles, and hearty “Way-to-go’s!!!”

Karen hit the movie button on the camera one time today, and we had a 17-minute documentary “About the Back of Joel’s Jacket!”

I first met Don and Krista on-line in an on-line discussion group for the Suzuki Savage. That’s a wonderful 650cc machine, and was my first MC of recent times. The group became very friendly and we all met at a motorcycle rally in West Virginia a couple years ago called Freedom Fest. In order to save some bucks, Don, Krista, and I shared a double room. Since then the group has continued although many of us have moved on to other, and usually bigger bikes. Of the many motorcycle folks I’ve come to know, Don is one of the ones I respect the most for his knowledge about bikes. Our plan was to stay with the couple this evening as we rolled near their home in Columbiaville, Michigan, near Flint. Don and I exchanged cell phone calls at frequent intervals during the day as we inched our way along the map toward his place.

At a gas-up just south of Flint, off Route 69 we met a couple from Chicago, Chris and Bridget. The two of them were sharing an 800cc Triumph bike on the way to Flint to put flowers on Chris’ mom’s grave. I walked over to them while Bridget was giving him a shoulder rub, and said with a smile, “So how many minutes of that will five bucks get me?” We four travelers enjoyed about ten to fifteen minutes of good conversation.

The police were out today more than usual. Around 8ish as we zipped along toward Flint, an officer pulled out from the right from under an overpass as we zipped passed doing 90! Luckily he was after the black van ahead of us who was blazing along even faster.

There were thoughts that Don, a ruggedly handsome guy with a thick ponytail that reached down to beyond mid-back, would come out and meet us on the road. Or that Krista might join him. They were not able to do that early because of Krista’s night shift work at a local Wal-Mart.

We called from the Taco Bell where we had a late meal. The air conditioning must have been stuck in there because it felt like walking into a freezer. The friendly 19 year-old guy behind the counter came over to the table while we ate, and asked us about our trip. And he recounted all the places he had been overseas, and allowed that he, too, had done some traveling. Don came out to meet us around 9:15pm on his beautiful black 800cc Kawasaki Vulcan, and guided us in from there.

It was totally dark by then, and I followed Don’s taillights through the city, and then along the countryside keeping up best I could for fifteen miles or so. Those little red lights were in the distance sometime, and between his black bike and black leather attire they were all I could see on the landscape. Well, almost all – occasionally, in the short distance, off the roadside, my eyeballs caught the flickering of high-rising flares – colorful fireworks rising to the sky and then gently floating back to earth.

I did notice as we crossed a section of road that seemed to have water on both sides. It was a reservoir Don told us. I was sure it flooded over the roadway at times, but he said that since it was a dammed up river they could control the water level.

We unpacked our stuff on the front yard with the assistance of Don and his flashlight. We chatted a bit with Don in the Lueck’s cozy living room. Then somewhat before midnight, Karen and I washed up and fell into a sound sleep on the folded out sofa there.

Author: Joel Perlish

1 thought on “July 2, 2005 – Saturday – Day 7

  1. Just found the blog. Well Bridget did and she sent the url to me. By the way this is Chris, we met at the gas station on the way to Flint, MI.

    Bridget’s an my trip was good, we got into Flint after dark, dropped our things off at a Super 8 near Davidson and rode back to a carnival we passed on the highway. We spent a couple hours walking the midway, eating corn dogs and enjoying the rides. It was a little bit of fun for what was otherwise a rather somber weekend.

    Glad you guys made it safely back to PA. It’s was great meeting and chatting with you.

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