Epic Ride 2010 Recap: Part 6

So after getting back from West Virginia we had two days to chill out and relax. We spent one of those days changing the oil in the bikes and prepping them for the long ride home. We also went out to dinner with my mom (my dad was working) my niece and her husband and new baby.

The little one is soooo cute. I wish I could have spent more time hanging with her. As soon as she started getting used to me we had to go which sucked, but she’s such a sweetheart. While out to dinner my niece’s husband Matt would start to quietly clap and as soon as the little one heard that she would start dancing in her seat and doing this little shoulder move that was just the cutest thing. She was the star of the restaurant.

The second day we had off we decided to head into downtown Nashville and see some sights. I had a few friends I wanted to hook up with but unfortunately there just wasn’t enough time. One thing that was really cool though was that we visited Andrew Jackson’s home. My daughter said she learned more about history in that visit than she did in 4 years of high school. If you ever get a chance to go, check it out.

Tennessee as a whole is chock full of history. They’ve had three (I think) Tennessee residents become president and Tennessee was a major player in early American politics. It’s a fantastic place if you can handle the absolutely awful humidity! I’m sure one can used to anything though if you live there for long enough. I’m still kind of freaked out that it rains in the summer there. I’m such a Californian.

So after our two days off, Robert and I packed up the bikes and headed north. We blazed across Kentucky and stopped in a quaint little town called Paducah which is on the Ohio river (somebody correct me if I get my rivers mixed up, there’s so many out there!). Paducah is a neat little town. All brick buildings and mom and pop shops. The surrounding area is full of machine shops and small business and then further out is all farming. I really liked our ride though and I’ve made a mental note to someday return and explore.

We crossed Kentucky and headed into Illinois and then came across a problem. The highway was being worked on and so we could either endure long delays (in record heat and humidity) or head west on a minor highway. We decided to take the detour. The only problem was that I missed the detour signs that led us back to the highway and we ended up cutting across rural Illinois. We didn’t mind though. Once again we were surrounded by beautiful green farmland for as far as the eye could see. Every 40 miles or so we’d come across a tiny little town, cruise through main street, and then back into more farmland. Folks, this is what America really is about. This detour was fantastic and if I had to run cross country again, and had more time, I would have mapped our trip avoiding the interstates altogether.

It’s kind of funny too how these little towns try and generate a little extra cash. They all come up with gimmicks to get you to stop. One town touted itself as the home of Popeye. Yes Popeye. As we cruised through town characters from the Popeye cartoons were everywhere. We didn’t stop. ha! Another town was called Metropolis even though it had a population of probably 5, and had Superman crap everywhere. Pretty funny.

We eventually hit the interstate just south of St. Louis and encountered what was the worst section of our trip. Missouri sucks, my friends. My brother jokingly said the state name should be pronounced “misery” and he was right. It was ungodly hot. at least high 90’s. Now my Fresno neighbors are probably sitting there laughing since as I type this is nearly 100 here in Fresno. However, humidity is the important factor here. Our humidity here in Fresno is probably about 15% right now. In Missouri it was more like 98%. This means that you sweat like a pig from the heat, but because the air is so moist, your sweat never evaporates. It just sits on your skin, which means you can’t cool off. I swear it was the most miserable 4 or 5 hours on the bike I’ve ever experienced.

To top it off, we stayed in a little college town called Columbia which happened to be the most God awful little town I have ever seen. Maybe it was just the exit we got off on, but the motel was beaten down and dirty. Robert noticed a hypodermic needle and rubber strap in the street on the way to dinner. It was just awful. We both slept with one eye open thinking somebody was going to break into our room and shank us in our sleep or steal the bikes.

We awoke to find our throats untouched and our bikes safe. We didn’t waste any time though getting packed up and hitting the road. That’s one place I hope never to see again.

The next 8 hours would take us across Missouri and into the home of Dorothy and Toto; Kansas.