09-10-2007, 10:32 AM
Joined: Jan 2007
Launch (August, 24th 2007AD)
The departure sequence was uneventful Bruce and Chip showed up as planned, as always, on time in my driveway. We rolled out of town headed toward the slab (WB I-94) on a 2 lane. The jitters are redlined at the moment because of the enormity of the trip and the responsibility of doing something inherently stupid and dangerous with the fruit of my loins on the back of the bike. In short WE ARE JACKED UP.
I practice some relaxation techniques that don’t work. We roll west into an ominous black cloudbank. 15 miles from home we don the rain gear. 15.0000001 miles from home we get hammered 30+ mph crosswinds, hail, lightning and driving rain. No where to run to baby, no where to hide. I had to do the futile endeavor checklist.
1) Pull over and stop= impractical as we would still get soaking wet, still get hit by lightning and possibly get rear ended by a car.
2) Keep going= get soaking wet, hit by oncoming traffic, blown off road and tumble through ditch and get hit by lightning.
We chose number two because there would be less disgrace and less standing in the pouring rain looking stupid.
We finally found a gas station with an awning we could pull under.
This part is true* As we stood under the awning a semi-truck and trailer pulled in to fill up we noticed water was up to its axles.
*as exaggeration is the norm on a trip we resort to presuming that all statements are damn lies unless this disclaimer is present.
. My high buck Aerostich suit might as well be made of crepe paper as I was soaked to the bone. Oh well we are accustomed to this type of foolishness in Michigan so we got on the freeway and picked our way through flash floods in all the low lying areas. Say what you want about the boredom of freeways I kind of like them for the way they quickly, safely and easily get me the hell out of Dodge.
We motored on west toward Chicago with little trouble the post storm weather was pleasant and I started to relax and get in a groove. Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Paw Paw, it was starting to click. Who knows maybe Gary Indiana* won’t be the horrible traffic snafu it usually is. For those of those unfamiliar with I-80/90 through Gary it is exciting.
Every car and truck headed from the northeastern United States to any where west of Cleveland goes through this corridor. It usually has construction and ten mile back ups.
What magic is this? It has four brand new lanes and light traffic. Finally I might have a smooth departure past the south end of Lake Michigan. NOT. As we approach Gary the brake lights come on and we hit the jam. The rainstorm has flooded both sides closing the eastbound lanes and closing half of the west bound lanes. Half of the traffic is Asplund tree trucks filled with Mexicans stuck on the freeway trying to get into Chi-town to clear downed trees from power lines. We are rebels and just blast down the shoulder. Hey if they where all on bikes there wouldn’t be a problem. Not to mention two of our crew are on air cooled bikes and too much not moving makes man and machine fail.
We clear the mess and head into Joliet, Illinois to set down for the night, We get unpacked in our room and Chip calls his girlfriend at the crib. Come to find out 50 minutes after Chip came to my house the storm came through his neighborhood and blasted (knocked down or severely damaged) all the houses but his. Good way to start a trip.
*Michael Jackson’s hometown and from what I can tell a particularily wretched rust belt chancre sore of a town.