I get up early, I'm always the first, start packing my bags and try to get my brother up. I finish packing and head downstairs for a good breakfast, my brother joining me soon thereafter. We have oatmeal, some orange juice, toast and coffee, put a few energy bars in our pockets and return to the room to finish packing. We have a long day ahead of us and will have to make a stop in Iowa City for my brother to have a new rear tire mounted on his bike. We are soon on the road heading south on Interstate 29 with last night's storm ahead of us. The interstates in mid-America are surrounded by beautiful green fields. Iowa is often referred to as the "American Heartland" and is also known as the "Food Capital of the World". Iowa's main agricultural outputs are corn, soybeans, oats and is the nation's largest producer of ethanol and corn. With the storm south east of our direction and moving north we continue south until Interstate 80 and then proceed east towards Iowa City.
We cover the 295 miles to Iowa City in about 5 hours and then stop at a BMW dealer to have the rear tire mounted on my brother's GS1200 Adventure. The storm had been to the north of us but as we pull into the dealer it starts raining. He unloads his panniers from the bike and leaves them outside by the main entrance while the bike gets taken to the back to have the tire mounted. A little later, with the tire mounted and ready to go, we say goodbye to the techs and hit the road, my brother in front with me following him close by. With a drizzle coming down we return to the interstate and just a few miles down the road I see him signaling me to pull off while pointing to the back of his bike and that's when I realize my brothers bike looks different, there's no panniers. We were in such a rush to leave that he forgot to mount the panniers back on the bike. We pull off at the next exit and I wait at a McDonald's while he returns to the dealer to get his panniers. I have a quick meal at McDonald's while I wait for him and we leave as soon as he returns. We cross into Illinois and make our next stop in Princeton for a late lunch/early dinner at the Big Apple Family Restaurant.
With the storm having moved north we continue east and as the night approaches we decide to continue riding past the Chicago area so we could avoid the Saturday morning traffic the next day. We cross into Indiana and finally decide to stop around 10PM when we see a Hampton Inn sign near La Porte. I like Hampton Inns, they are very clean and reasonably priced and include a full breakfast. I was so tired that my eyes closed even before my head hit the pillow. We covered 567 long miles. We were beat.
It's Saturday, we are still 750 miles away from home and it's pouring rain outside our window. We head downstairs and have a good breakfast and after packing our bikes proceed to put on rain gear while other guest look in astonishment since it was still raining heavily. We hit the road and ride in the rain for the next hour. We are soon in Ohio, the sky clears and after removing our rain gear we continue east on Interstate 80. The temperature soars midday and 285 miles later we pass the Cleveland area and then take Interstate 76 south towards Pittsburgh. We enter Pennsylvania, pass the Pittsburgh area and then get on Interstate 70 now moving east again. We are now getting closer to the end of the trip and at the next gas stop we discuss our options. We decide we can continue and make it home in one day.
We hit the road again and continue through the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. We see lots of state troopers, my radar detector flashing intermittently, we maintain our pace stopping only for gas and water as the temperature was in the low 90's.
My bike can do about 275 miles on a tank of gas and my brother's can do even more, we do our last fill up at 175 miles from my house on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We have a drink and a snack and decide this will be our last stop, we look at each other a little sad knowing the trip is almost over, thank each other for a great trip and camaraderie and then hit the road. We pass Harrisburg, it's dark already, the sun having set earlier. My brother splits from me near King of Prussia and heads south east towards Philadelphia while I continue into New Jersey entering the NJ Turnpike a little later. I am now less than 35 miles away from home and do the rest of the trip below the speed limit on Interstate 195 as I approach home, almost not wanting the trip to end. I pull into my garage at 11.30PM, my wife and daughter waiting for me and thus ends my cross country trip. I did 750 hard miles today but if I could, I would turn around and head west again.
I covered 8900 miles across the US, crossed 3 time zones, 18 states, a number of National Parks and Forests, mountains, rivers and lakes, even a desert, went from the Atlantic Ocean and saw the sun setting over the Pacific. Saw amazing landscapes, crossed paths with Bison and numerous other animals, visited beautiful cities and crossed paths with numerous friendly people. Only one word to describe it; WOW!
It was a very successful trip, I am a very lucky man to have had this experience.