Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Road Home

Last night I stayed in Salina Kansas, so it was a short 50mi ride to Junction City to have one more breakfast at Stacys Restaurant (see day 2). I arrived at the restaurant around 9:00a. At that time it was apparent that this was the Saturday breakfast spot as the place was packed. Today the front of the restaurant was full of farmers talking about the day ahead. Since there were no seats available in the front, I went to the back room which was mostly families. I'm sure that the lone biker dude was a topic of conversation that morning. After a quick breakfast of biscuits and gravy, bacon, two eggs and hash browns, I was ready to say goodby to this cute little town.

So I hop on the bike and fire up the GPS, programmed for the final leg of my journey. Arrival time shows 8:43p, although I know that's a generous estimate as that didn't include any stops for gas, food or rest. Today ride would take me through 4 states; Kansas, Illinois, Indiana an Ohio. The weather was starting out cool and cloudy, but fine for riding. Little did I know that just one state behind me they would be expecting severe thunderstorms that even included a tornado in Denver. Other than some cold weather here and there, I've been very fortunate with the riding conditions.

For those who have made the long drive (approx. 9 hrs) across Kansas, the scenery is basically hills, wheat & cows. Perhaps in an odd way this feels very confortable to me as I lived in Wichita from age 3 to 12. I have lots of fond childhood memories from here. Regardless there was no time to stop and remenisce as my mission was to get home as soon as was safely possible.

One treat that I did take time for was to stop at a barbeque place called Bandannas for ribs. With the Kuamoo's Ribfest coming up July 18th (yes this your first notice) I needed to get a tast of midwest barbeque. It was well worth the stop.

The rest of the day was pretty much 'hammer down'. Good weather & good traffic, much better than expected. I only had a few moments of tiredness, but I found that a mouthful of sunflower seeds kept me alert quite nicely. I rolled into the driveway at 10:40p and by that time I was ready for some sleep. It's great to be home!

So let me summarize my trip:

The final tally, as shown below, is 4556 miles. With each rotation of the tires taking me 7 feet, that's 3,436,525 tire rotations. I'll never doubt the significance of a good tire.

So now that my journey has ended, let me share a few things that I have learned:

  • I like riding more than I thought I did (I wouldn't hesitate to go on another ride of this distance.
  • Plan for all weather conditions (it was much colder than expected)
  • Flexibility is good (it's about the journey, not the destination)
  • There's a lot of beautiful country out west (lots of it)
  • People drive real fast out west (gotta love the 80mph speed limits - you know what that means)

I was able to visit 4 national parks while in Utah. Here's a quick summary of each in order of my preference:

1) Bryce - Awe inspiring sandstone structures. Take one of the hikes to see the scenery from within the canyon. The view changes continuously with the light of day. Perhaps the most picturesque of the parks.

2) Escalante (Lower Calf Creek) - A challenging drive through some very rugged country. The hike itself is a great combination of red cliffs and wildlife, culminating in a view of a very nice falls. This park had it all.

3) Zion (The Narrows) - A challenging hike through the river bed that is carved deeply into the canyon. Impressive surrounding rock structures. Initially a bit crowded, but the further I hiked into the canyon the more the crowd thinned out.

4) Arches (Moab) - Picturesque and ever changing. Certainly a must see as what you see today may not be there tomorrow.

In closing, I'd like to thank the readers of this blog for the many nice comments. I hope you enjoyed reading the blog as much as I enjoyed talking about my trip. Over the upcoming weeks I'll be putting enlargement quality pictures on my website (, should you like to see more.

For you bikers, if you've been thinking about taking a road trip like this, but aren't sure if you can do it, I think you would find that it's easier and more rewarding than you think. My reason for taking this trip was more of a personal 'bucket list' thing. But I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.

Last but certainly not least, I'd like to thank my wife who put aside her personal fears and anxieties and supported me in my quest even though her mother was constantly trying to convice her to talk me out of it. Thanks goodness Misty shares my belief that if you gotta go, go doing something you love. Misty, I know this was hard for you, even though you didn't show it (much). I'm a very lucky man!

This journey has come to an end but there's plenty more coming this year. Until then, happy trails!

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