OK...back to DAY2. Once I awoke from comatose state, it turns out that Day2 was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, temperatures were moderate, and the traffic on the interstate was bearable. The goal for today was to make it past Des Moines, IA...roughly 660 miles of beautiful U.S. interstate highway across picturesque Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. I was rocking out to the music in my helmet and anxious to see what was around the next bend. Mike was still hanging in there without complaint. Of course he had no idea that we were trying to cover so many miles today...this would be a record for him.
At some point, we caught up with this guy. He was haulin a$$ down the highway and I couldn't get a picture so I had to borrow one from Google.
This thing is awesome! My understanding is that it's a retired amusement park ride that was put on a truck chassis. Whatever it is, it looks like a lot of fun. The driver is way up in the air and there's not a lot of wind protection, but he seemed to be having a good time. Gave us a beep and a wave and then exited the highway.
Somewhere along the way, I remember seeing a stack of combine harvesters...stacked from gigantic to miniature...probably 60' tall...on the lawn of a dealership or factory. It was super cool, but I can't find an image of it anywhere. I'm guessing it was IOWA.
UPDATE: I found it! Turns out they were grain trailers - not combines, but cool nonetheless. I was grateful for the roadside distraction.
Now it was getting late in the day and we were closing in on Des Moines. We were about due for dinner...probably 7:00...when we reached the outskirts of town. After the awesome room that we had at the Hampton Inn, we were planning to find another one tonight. After a 650+ mile day, I could think of nothing better than 3 fluffy pillows, ice cold AC, and a pillow top mattress. I fiddled with the GPS as we rode....looking at our options. There was a Hampton Inn on the east side of the city and we were nearly there, but there was still daylight and I got greedy. GPS showed another one on the west side of the city and thought we should press on. That way when we got started on Day 3, we'd already be through the city and it would be clear sailing to Nebraska. I had it all figured out. I congratulated myself for thinking 2 steps ahead...I'm a damn genius.
Right about then we passed the exit for the Hampton Inn and a few restaurants. The smell from a steak house nearby made me weak in the knees. I so badly wanted to sit down, have a beer or two, and eat an enormous steak. M!ke chimed in on the headset "Why aren't we stopping?"
I assured him that we had even better accommodations down the road and there would be an even better steak house and we would be that much further from the impending storms predicted for Day 3. I could tell that he had been anticipating a stop as soon as we hit Des Moines...not after Des Moines. We were probably at 675 miles at this point...we pressed on.
I was watching the countdown on the GPS and every tenth of a mile seemed like an eternity...the sun was right in my face and not that far above the horizon. We finally hit the exit, made a few turns, and pulled up in front the the Hampton Inn. I swear I heard a chorus of angels. Oddly, there were people EVERYWHERE. M!ke went inside to secure our accommodations for the evening...his gait showing more than a little pain from the day's ride. The lobby was packed so I just hung out by the bikes. A pizza guy, having just made a delivery to the hotel, saw the bikes and came over to talk to me. This seems to happen every time I stop...gas stations, restaurants, rest areas...random people just come over and engage me in conversation...often on the most random topics...but usually about the motorcycle and how far from home I am. This is why I was content with the idea of riding solo cross-country...you're never really alone...and solo motorcyclists are much more approachable than groups...in my experience anyway.
So Pizza Guy and I spend a while discussing the merits of the BMW GSA, seeing the world, and the Boston Marathon Bombing (always comes up when they see Mass plates), when M!ke comes out of the hotel looking dejected. After standing in line at the lobby desk for 10 minutes, he found out that there wasn't a single room to be had. Apparently there was some kind of baseball tournament going on that weekend and there were many teams in town for it. Pizza guy confirmed that all the nearby hotels were packed and suggested that we backtrack east to get a room. I said that we'd probably just keep heading west and find a place in the next town. Pizza guy looked perplexed..."There's nothing out there" he protested..."You really should head back east afew miles on I80".
Now, at this point, I admit that I was suffering from target fixation of sorts. I just wanted to get to Colorado and the idea of going backwards was unbearable. Surely there were more hotels just a little ways down the road. Pizza guy, sensing my inner turmoil, added that the only places to the west were real sketchy and filled with pedophiles and drug addicts banished from the city limits. That sounded preposterous...how does one score drugs or under-aged prey out in the middle of nowhere...those interests are best served in more metropolitan locales. Surely we'd find a kindly mom and pop motel out there...maybe even another Hampton Inn...western Iowa must have something.
I thanked Pizza Guy for his advice while silently questioning his work ethic...he'd been standing there with me for 20 minutes...and we hit the road. Mike looked and sounded a bit weary, but he still wasn't complaining. I was starving. The sun must have gone behind some clouds because it was getting dark. Out on I80 west once again, I decided to let the GPS do the work and find us our next available lodging. I hit "FIND HOTEL" and all of the results were pointing East...behind us. I scrolled through page after page of results and still they were all behind us. I didn't mention this to Mike. I think his headset battery had died at this point and he was stuck following me without any indication of how far we had left to go. The only sign on the road said COUNCIL BLUFFS, NE - 120 miles. We had ridden well over 700 miles, it was getting dark, I was starving, and I'm pretty sure that MIke was hating me.