Summer 2015 – Headed Home

It’s been another great Summer and it’s still not over! Sturgis was a lot of fun as always! I am really glad I made it out for the 75th Anniversary. The thick, light red line represents this years journey. The other lines represent all my journeys, as do the lines on my face.

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I wish I could have hung out with more people, like Cliff who I met out on the road years ago in Montana. It looks like he enjoyed Sturgis as well. I swiped this shot from his FB page.

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There’s Lynn who I met on the way out. We kept shooting messages but never did hook up! Every time I have visited Sturgis I have made new friends and revisited old ones. Tyler from Sioux City, I hope to read about your travels in the near future. To the gang from Oregon and the crew from Sacramento I camped with, it was a pleasure. And Randy! See ya next time brother! Sturgis is a fantastic event, but it was time to move on. I have another vacation planned so I needed to head East so I can fly back West. Fortunately one of the new folks I met gave me a pass to cut through the Badlands. As I was leaving the Chip, Richard gave me his receipt from having visited the Badlands the day before. It was good for the whole week! I had planned on riding south and around the Badlands. Cutting through made the ride shorter and lot more pleasurable. Thanks again Richard.

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I have been through the Badlands before. Camped here a couple times as well. It’s a wicked, surreal landscape. Today was overcast so I didn’t get too trigger happy with the camera.

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This particular wolf ran with a pack.

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This one did not.

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From the Badlands I was off to camp out just on the other side of the Missouri River.

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As I look at this photo, it occurs to me that I have a way of holding the camera that could easily be mistaken for a rude hand gesture by anyone passing by.

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So I parked the bike and had a look at the Missouri River. It was wide here and they call it a lake as they had near Red Wing along the Mississippi. When I took this photo I thought that’s as close as I would get to the river.

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Then I met these folks. While I was setting up camp, two guys approached. Jack and Pumpkin were their names. Along with a bunch of their friends, they rent all the lakeside cabins for a week each year and have a reunion. Jack used to ride and is eager to ride again now that the kids are all grown up. They were super nice. Jack and his wife Heather brought me some food and even some fire wood. Then he said if I was up for it, I could join them for the nightly midnight, shotgun a beer and swim in the river event. And so I did!

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In the morning Jack and the gang were going golfing. They invited me to join them and from the sounds of it I would have fit right in with the skill level, but I had to make miles. So thanks again for breakfast and everything else! Send those pictures when you can!

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I have grown an affection for Casey’s General Store. If I get a choice where to stop for gas, I choose Casey’s. They always have these chocolate peanut butter rice cakes by the door that (along with a Red Bull) bolster the moment with a solid sugar rush to get the motor going.

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I continue to hit the brakes and turn around when I see a bit of America’s past slowly decaying. This time when I hit the brakes I really heard the sound of metal grinding. See, I have been without rear brake pads for a while now. I’ve known about it since my blowout on the way to Chicago but never took the time to get ’em replaced. Basically I have been downshifting and giving the soft touch to the front brakes to slow down this whole trip. Oh well, I’ll make it home.

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Crossing into Iowa I took some scenic roads. Saw this old service station in Pisgah.

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This guy was proud of his 73 Charger. Or was it his wife’s? Either way, he said they replaced the old engine with a 450 that runs on alcohol and tears it up!

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I set up camp and let my feet air out. Feet get pretty beat up on the road. Unfortunately I left those puppies airing out after the sun went down. I got to talking and having a few beers with a guy named Mike at a campsite down the way. Mike used to ride but had a few too many spills so he gave it up. While hanging out by the fire my legs got chewed up. I never even saw a mosqito but they sure saw me.

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Another nice family next to me had me over for breakfast in the morning. They were local farmers camping out for the weekend. Biscuits and Gravy. That was a heavy meal. Thanks y’all!

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After a week at Sturgis, BBQ was the last thing on my mind but the bus sure looked cool.

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I was slowly rolling along the local Iowa highways when I realized that if I hopped on the Interstate I might make it to Anamosa and see the motorcycle museum before it closes. I meant to stop there on the way to Sturgis but the weather was impossible as I headed west. Now was the time. This was it. I hopped on I80 and flew toward Cedar Rapids. It looked like I might not have enough time or maybe they wouldn’t let me in this late. I got there around 4:30. They closed at 5. I said to the lady at the register right away, “I know it’s late! Just let me see what I can before you close.” I must have looked crazed. There was chrome everywhere. I saw my reflection. I know I looked crazed! For the last few hours I had been blasting through heavy teaming, truck traffic weaving at 85 mph plus!

Now I could slow down and look at some gems.

The National Motorcycle Museum

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This museum is packed with vintage bikes spanning motorcycle history.

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An Indian Larry portrait hangs on the wall as does vast amounts of motorcycle memorabilia and other artwork.

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This is a Harley Trike chassis and transmission providing the armature for a vehicle hand built in the 1940’s from 14 different cars.

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Below is a steam powered motorcycle.

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In the reflection of this Honda tank is the most beautiful of bikes.

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The Brough Superior.

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It is the motorcycle on which Lawrence of Arabia met his fate. In fact he owned 7 of them. He named each one George with a number. I-VII. And behind the bike hangs a painting.

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This is an original David Uhl painting.

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It was nice to see an actual painting with it’s original texture as opposed to a canvas print.

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The brush strokes were fiery over the wheel illuminating the frame of the bike. Nice!

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Now back to the Brough Superior. I was talking to an old gentleman at a Casey’s in Iowa a week earlier when my bike first started leaking oil. He was close to if not past 80 years old. He was telling me of the many rides he used to have. I told him how I missed seeing this museum in Anamosa on my way out. He said he went there once specifically to see a Vincent Black Lightning as ridden by Rollie Free when he broke the land speed record back in 1948. And then he said, “But the most beautiful bike of all was the Brough.” However he was saying unlike I had been saying it for years. “Bruff” is how he said it. Bruff? I have been saying “Bro!” He said no, it’s “Bruff”. Then he told me it used to be just Brough (Bruff). It was a father/son team but then the son wanted to go on his own and made the Brough Superior. Well it’s a mighty fine machine. And there are a few of them here at the museum.

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PS…My girlfriend was just walking by the Ralph Lauren store in NYC and said there was a Brough Superior in the window, but this one’s new. New? Yup! They are making these babies again. Check it out!

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Back to the museum.

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Old biker club jackets lined a counter filled with motorcycle merchandise from another era.

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There were many Triumphs besides this beautiful chopper in a workshop display. The only complaint I can think of is that this place doesn’t have more space. The bikes are fantastic! I wish there were more space to move around all of them!

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The Triumph Thunderbird like Brando rode in The Wild One.

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Just look at this place. And here I am again, as I was in Sturgis, alone amongst all these amazing motorcycles.

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It was well past 5 now but the lady running the place never said a thing. She let me check the whole place out.

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I could have easily spent another hour leisurely looking over the museum, but I sure did appreciate not being rushed after trying time and time again to get here.

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THE ROADOG. I remember the first time I saw a picture of this beast. I was at Deals Gap after first riding the Tail of the Dragon for the first time. And here it was in person.

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Fantastic Museum!

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From here I would head east to the Mississippi! I would try to cross  the river and make camp before dark.

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I crossed the mighty river and made it to Mississippi Palisades State Park.

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I made it to the park before dark, but once I realized the sun was going to break at just the right time, I ended up pitching my tent in the dark.

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In the morning there were butterflies all over my bike. That’s why I took this photo. I didn’t notice it at the time, but this is the first photo in which I see that my right muffler has become dislodged and is sticking out diagonally.

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As I checked out my maps for today’s travel, I realized I could criss cross the town in Illinois where I met Lynn. I texted him and he said to drop by the grocery store. He had told me about the grocery store before. It used to be the town theater. Then when television came around, the theater went kaput. His grandpa bought it and opened the grocery store you see today.

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Here is Lynn. If you don’t remember, he had that cool man cave garage from a few posts ago.

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Lynn seemed to understand my taste for old Americana and asked if I wanted to see an old wooden grain elevator that this guy was converting into a saloon. He also seemed to understand my taste for steaks and he treated me to one from his store. Thank you sir!

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So after lunch I followed Lynn down the road a while to this cool old elevator.

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The guy who owns it wasn’t here today but he told Lynn we could stop by and have a look. During the week it’s quiet but on the weekends he turns it into the Psycho Silo Saloon.

Check out their Facebook page HERE.

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The service station below is actually the rest room for the saloon.

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This silo is made of stacked 2 x 6 planks. That’s solid!

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This guy is serious about making this place a great establishment.

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He has plans on expanding the grounds and adding a campsite as well. If you are rolling down Route 6 in Langley you may see the giant BEER sign on the side of the silo. It’s also a short distance from Route 80. So if you are passing by Langley over the weekend….Check it out!

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While we were at the grocery store discussing places of interest, George the butcher mentioned the canal. Then he got back to making the ground meat. No additives at this grocery store I assure you. Anyway, after parting Lynn’s company at the silo I came upon the canal George mentioned.

The Henepin Canal was built to connect the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. But due to political strife and bad timing, the plan was delayed repeatedly. By the time it was finally financed and built, barge travel on both rivers had grown beyond the limits of this small canal and it was never used for it’s original commercial intent.

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Also sitting next to the canal was this old Pontiac! Sweet!

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Sitting before the roaring train and clanging signals with a front row seat is always a thrill.

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However, on this second occasion it afforded me the chance to check out an old house I noticed while passing.

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I went back to see this house in the Illinois River valley as the long train passed. While I was there to take the photo, the only two cars to pass by both slowed down to make sure I was OK. Kinda nice!

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Not sure if James Brown played this one.

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This is an old photo of a clean shaven Abraham Lincoln as he looked when he was a young lawyer in Illinois.

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And here is the courthouse in Metamora where Lincoln handled over 70 cases through 1858. On October 10, 1857 Lincoln defended Melissa Goings, a seventy year old woman accused of killing her husband. While in the custody of the sheriff she managed to escape. The court bailiff accused Lincoln of chasing her off, but apparently Lincoln turned to the judge and said, “Your Honor, I did not run her off. She wanted to know where she could get a good drink of water, and I told her there was mighty good water in Tennessee.”

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Damn storms again. If I continued east as planned it would have been a bad wet day, so I shot south for a while.

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It was good to see Richard Serra expanding to middle America.

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Then I noticed what I mentioned in the butterfly picture before. The two bolts that hold my pipes flush with the frame were gone. Maybe all that oil splashing around earlier in the trip had loosened them up. I was concerned that leaving it sticking out might cause added strain to the pipe clamp and I could lose the whole thing while riding at 75 or more. So I made my annual trip to Home Depot for some do it yourself rigging. I wired her up pretty good. Good enough at least. It was go time. Time for an Interstate blast back into the the East Coast mayhem!

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The last couple days of the journey were all Interstate. It was however the first time I made it around Indianapolis without making a wrong turn, so that was good. There was only one last stop to make. Shartlesville, PA.

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Besides that old log home above, Shartlesville will greet with with a couple of giant Amish people.

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And a paddle boat out of water.

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But the reason I pulled off at Shartlesville was to see Roadside America.

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Roadside America is visible from the Interstate in Eastern PA. I have passed it so many times but I am usually in a hurry to get out of town or in a hurry to get back home. This time I would take the time to pull over and see the World’s Greatest Indoor Miniature Village.

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It’s all in the details. And to make sure you don’t miss the village’s nuances, small notes are left about. Like this one to Note the fustrated hunter. A little rabbit jumps in and out of a hole fustrating the hunter. Can you feel the fustration?

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Here is a tribute to the man who created Roadside America.

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Various buttons surrounding the village will give you control over some of the mechanics or trains.

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Was it worth the price of admission? I have no regrets! A last pose with Lady Liberty reminded me that I was close to home.

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My final approach to the big city!

Thanks for joining me on another exciting journey.

Looking forward to the next!

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