Ahh, back to the road trip. Keep in mind that this is two years ago. I'm pouring over a crudely written journal and hundreds of photos in an attempt to spark some sort of recollection of the events. It won't be easy, so I'm gonna hafta really put some effort into this. Seeing as I'm goin through a rather intense case of the winter blues, I've decided to use this as a distraction and, in the process, actually get some work done.
So last week of July, don't remember the day specifically. In the end, it doesn't really matter anyhow. I spend the morning doing some fine tuning to the old KLR. A quick luggage check, a valve adjustment, and a side-case removal to find a socket dropped during the valve check, and I was good to go by noon. With a wave to my brother and giving my nephew a shove I say my good-byes, bound off the porch, over the curb and out onto the highway. Leaving behind the town of 5,800, Lyons NY. I stopped by my mother's place of employment for one last hug. As I've mentioned, I never really had much of a game plan. West was the goal, with Alaska always kicking around in the back of my mind. I remember simply going south from there to the first westerly route and just following it to see where it ended. As it turns out, Route 20 apparently goes on for.... awhile.
Now I'm gonna go ahead and point out that these first thousand miles don't include many pictures. I'm not as photo-minded as I should be, but I try. And to be honest, I had seen all of this before. Pennsylvania was a lot like New York, and Ohio was pretty similar to Pennsylvania. The goal was just to melt through some miles. I followed Rt. 20 into Buffalo, grabbing a pair of combat boots at a local surplus shop before stopping over at my buddy Bill's place. This is the guy that first got me into the KLR. I remember wandering through an abandoned office building in the outskirts of Buffalo and watching this fool drive down third floor hallways on a KLR.. fun times. A good-bye bake leaves me back on the bike heading south-west towards Erie, before pitching a tent off some old railroad grade. Awoke the next morning to...rain. There's only so long you can go back to sleep before just giving up and packing it up. It's well past noon by this point and I ride in the rain to Erie, PA where the weather picked up to a full on downpour. Taking shelter in a Tim Hortons, coffee was ordered and the GPS updated. With the rain dying off, I fled the scene leaving behind a generous tip and a large puddle of water that enveloped the neighboring two tables.
I got as far as Cleveland that night before exhaustion kicked in and I headed for the nearest green blob on my GPS. Turns out to be some suburban park of decent size. Riding up and under a fairly large covered picnic area with conveniently placed power outlets, I lay out the bed roll on one of the tables. Got a BBQ rolling and lay out my socks and underwear to dry. At one point the local 5-0 come rolling up to inform me that the park closes after dark. I motion to camp and tell him that I just threw my panties on the grill and would leave as soon as they crisped. He was cool with this and rolled on. I stumble back to the concrete table that would be my bed for the night and pass out.
I come to the next morning with a dog smelling around the bike. A long retractable cord leads to an older gentleman with a bewildered look on his face. I roll up my boxers and head out before the early joggers come cruisin through the morning mist. Managed to get a fairly decent amount of miles down today, surely a result of the early start. This won't be the norm. Cruised on along Rt. 20 through Cleveland and Chicago. Just west of Chicago, over the wide open fields, I noticed a deathly black front moving my way. Being the stubborn SOB that I am, I continued onward determined to beat the weather. Didn't work. It wasn't long before I find myself bouncing through a ditch at near-highway speed and aiming for a long semi trailer parked in the middle of the cornfield. No sooner had I hit the kill switch that I dropped the kickstand and in one fluid motion rolled off to the left and under the semi as the rain kicked it into high gear and dumped buckets of rain down for a solid half our. Not much I could do but lay flat on my back under this godforsaken semi-trailer and wait for it to end.
As the rain tapered off, I checked my GPS for the nearest green blob and managed to find some covered picnic areas to once again seek shelter under. I swap out for some dry clothes and cook up a bag of dehydrated chili. With an hour or so of light left I realized this park was way too small to pull off any kind of stealthy camping, I headed out to the next green blob on the GPS. Found an abandoned road cutting through Silver Lake State park and pitched camp on the asphalt. Just before calling it a night, I notice something amiss about the KLR. The luggage, actually. Where the hell is the lid? And half my shit? A quick backtrack a few miles of dirt and asphalt and I find my can lid and my folding saw just off the side of the highway. My new camping stove is AWOL. Awesome. I vaguely remember whipping the remainder of my bag chili into the woods in a fit of anger. I'm pretty sure that's where my super-bad ass space age spork disappeared to as well. I'm off to an awesome start.