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Old 09-16-2013, 07:05 AM   #31
LoneTraveler OP
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Joined: Apr 2010
Location: Garden State
Oddometer: 439
Day thirteen - Rocky Mountain riding - Salt Lake City to Ogalalla, Nebraska - 737 miles

Utah. What more can I say, really? The western part of the state is the most barren, empty, dead place I'd ever seen. The eastern part, however, is quite alive. Beautiful rolling hills, mountains, and fields. I didn't get a ton of pictures, as I was genuinely trying to make a lot of miles in short order, but I did manage to snap a few pictures outside of Moab along the way. I took Rt 15 south through Salt Lake City and then branched off on Rt 6, past Huntington State Park. I wanted to ride back on I-70 across Colorado, so I could see the Rockies, and figured I might also get close to Moab and the Arches at the same time.

Beautiful mountains:
IMG_0660

Very nice place here:
IMG_0661

Just outside Moab:
IMG_0062

The landmasses and the desert out here were stunning:
IMG_0061

IMG_0060

IMG_0059

I crossed Colorado at a very quick pace. I-70 was one of the most beautiful highways I think I have ever ridden. It was so much, so quickly, I'm still having trouble processing it all. I didn't stop to take any photos, as I want to make a special trip back there next year, just to explore and ride around for a week. On the way up into the Rockies, I hit massive amounts of rain, so bad that the road was starting to flood. Quite a mess, but I pressed on, and made it to the other side of the Continental Divide in one piece.

Eastern Colorado, past Denver, is quite empty. Not much to see there, nor is there really anything noteworthy in eastern Nebraska.
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Old 09-16-2013, 07:21 AM   #32
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Day fourteen - Being and Nothingness - Ogalalla, Nebraska to Bettendorf, Iowa - 628 miles

No offense to anyone who lives there, but I do think Nebraska might be the single most boring place in the world. There literally is NOTHING there. In 628 miles on day fourteen, I saw nothing but endless cornfields, farms, and nothingness. I existed in a place where nothing else did. It was in stark contrast to the immensity of the scale of the mountains, the coasts, and so on.

I didn't take any photos in Nebraska, as I was having trouble as it was just staying awake. This was my least favourite day of the trip, since I had nothing but the road, the wind, and my music to keep me company. (Thank goodness for good music!)

I decided to check into The Lodge, in Bettendorf, IA, on a total whim. It showed up as a reasonably priced hotel on Google Maps, and I figured, hey, what the hell, let's check it out. For $73 a night, I got a room in what could easily be used in a re-make of The Shining:

IMG_0664

The whole place is a remake of a classic German hunting lodge, in the middle of Iowa. It seems so incongruous, but there it was. It looms over I-74 like something out of another era, and as I got closer to it, I started to get more than a little creeped out. The lobby itself looks like something out of the 19th century, with creepy music playing in the lounge.

This was my room. Quite swanky, and on the 8th floor:
IMG_0665

This was the dining room. Very good burgers here, and the prices were quite reasonable:
Dining room at The Lodge

After dinner, I took a much-needed dip in the hot tub, and then swam in the hotel's indoor pool. It's clear that this place was THE place to stay at one point, in the Quad Cities area. It had a feel of luxury and upscale-ness to it that I usually don't see anymore. I'd highly recommend staying there if you're passing through the area. Ask for Room 237.

Next up is day fifteen, hanging with my cousin Jimmy in Ohio.
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Old 09-17-2013, 12:15 PM   #33
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Day fifteen - Hanging with Jimmy - Bettendorf, IA to Cuyahoga Falls, OH - 534 miles

Getting to the end of the trip, I had set up an overnight stay with my cousin Jimmy in Cuyahoga Falls, OH. We hadn't seen each other in something like 10 years, and after catching up briefly at the NYC bike show in January of this year, we'd worked out a visit to hang out and get caught up on all the years we hadn't seen each other.

Started out the day with a quick breakfast at the hotel, then hit the road for Ohio. Eastern Iowa is quite beautiful, with lovely rolling hills and quite a few wind farms.

Got lost briefly in western Illinois, and wound up riding Illinois Rt 81 for quite a few miles, through some lovely cornfields to get back onto I-80. For the most part, not much to report. Just lots of time for me to think about my life, and the direction I'm going in. A large part of this trip was to give me time to think things over: about my job, where I live, my relationship, and so on. It was a good chance for me to "blow out the cobwebs" and get my head together.

I-80 across Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio had quite a bit of road construction going on, in both directions. It became a game for me to see how many vehicles I could pass before the lane closure came up. Most motorists were nice and would let me in (hey, motorcycles are faster and smaller than cars, for the most part) so no issues there.

One observation of note was just how many trucks I saw. We have eighteen wheelers in NJ, but not like this. I had never seen three trailers end-to-end before. Quite a sight for a Jersey boy where trucks aren't even allowed in the left lanes on the highway!

The rest of the trip into Ohio was unremarkable. Got off the highway, followed the GPS, and met up with my cousin at his house.

Final leg, day sixteen, the journey home, is up next.
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Old 09-24-2013, 02:55 PM   #34
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The Voyage home - Cuyahoga Falls, OH - North Brunswick, NJ - 430 miles

(Thanks for reading, and for all the kind comments. This was the first time I've written up an RR, so forgive me if I forgot details or got information wrong. I did this ride purely for myself, and figured it might be worth sharing so others had an idea of what to expect.)

The final day was about as uneventful as possible. Got up late, had breakfast with my cousin, and then hit the road. I-80 back home was a quick and quiet journey back into the rancid, festering, rat-race that is central New Jersey.

I had a lot of time to think on this trip, about what's important, and about what I want out of life. I spent most of my early 20's trying to "find myself" and all I got was a shit-ton of credit card debt and a few "friends" who ditched as soon as I ran out of money.

The most important thing I learned on this journey, is that talking about doing things, and actually doing them, are two totally different things. There are people who talk about their dreams, about writing the next great opera, or riding around the world, and never put pen to paper or rubber to road. Then there are those who actually do those things, and never say a word.

I used to be a very talkative person, very outgoing, very much a dominating voice in any conversation. But that's all talk, it's all pointless bullshit. Most conversations are pointless, useless, and serve no other purpose than to bolster egos or agendas. Stop talking, start DOING.

There were moments on this trip where I laughed harder and longer than I think I ever have. There were times where I sobbed with joy, frustration, exhaustion, or sorrow. It was the biggest emotional roller coaster I've ever been on, compressed into 16 very long days.

I'd do it all again in a heartbeat, every inch, every mile, every tear, every smile.

Now the only question is, "How the fuck do I top THAT?"
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