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Old 04-21-2011, 09:41 AM   #1
FattyAndIdgit OP
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Location: Chicago(ish)
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Eastern United States,,, well most of them

All right, time to get this thing going considering I'm already a week behind. Beware, this will be a stream of consciousness blog, so if you're offended by poor spelling, bad grammer, incoherent statements, jumbled thoughts, just move along,,, this isn't the blog you're looking for.

Just say'n.

Ok, we're going to start off with introductions since I'm a long time lurker and this is my first real crack at one of these here ride reports, in other words I need to figure out the picture upload thingie works.

First up - Fatty Lumpkin

As you can see, Fatty is sport'n her game face and is totally ready to go waddling across the country

For those of you who don't know anything about Fatty Lumpkin, I suggest reading the Lord of the Rings instead of just watching the movie, I suspect she and Tom B got dropped on the editor's floor along the way,,, cretin.

Regardless, she's a pony,,, not a race horse, not a Clydesdale, a F'n pony.

SIDEBAR: hopefully my loved ones will be reading this so I'll try to keep the rating somewhere around a PG-13,,, I'll fail, but I'll try.

Next up - Idgit Motorcycle Rider (imr for short)

Never noticed that this helmet made my face look so fat,,, bummer, oh well Fatty is way more photogenic anyways.

Ok, enough for introductions,,, will attempt to post and if it's successful, I'll follow up with more silliness and photos

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Old 04-21-2011, 09:56 AM   #2
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Why you ask? Been try'n to answer that for the last few days

So, what's this all about anyway?

It started with an idea to ride the length of the Mississippi. I live near Chicago and,,, ah never mind, just think flat straight roads.

Road along the Mississippi in Wisconsin last year for a bit and really liked it. I was born in Minneapolis and I once went to New Orleans,,, seem like a sound foundation for a trip.

Remember that seemingly innocent statement from above,,, I'll rephrase it in a bit.

While these thought were germinating in my fishbowl of a mind, I began to speculate on what to do once/if I got to New Orleans. Continuing seemed impossible,,, Fatty's not a good swimmer. Which leaves - turn right, turn left, turn around, sell Fatty.

Since I'm not there yet I can't tell you what will happen, but my intention is to turn left. I've got friends in low (as in southern) places, I've never been around the top of the gulf, haven't been out to the Atlantic coast in a while, love the Smokies,,, so many choices, so little time.

Quick update on 4/23 - yeah, I'm that far behind. But regardless I made it to New Orleans and didn't sell Fatty, absolutely no intention of doing it. She's behaving like a champ and deserves much better than I, but I'll just keep her to myself. So, can't swim, won't sell,,, only leave 2 options and smart money is on turn left.

There's an outside chance that this trip will touch all the above and probably an equal chance that I'll wander off in an entirely different direction considering I just bought this damn GPS and haven't completely figured it out yet.

We'll see.


FattyAndIdgit screwed with this post 04-23-2011 at 02:49 PM
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:30 AM   #3
Joined: Jul 2010
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Another Chicago rider here. Always like seeing expeditions originating here. Good luck out there, and have fun.
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:52 AM   #4
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Day 1

Went to the dentist,,, really.

I'm not good at planning but as I was proceeding through my seemingly random acts of preparation, the word Wednesday kept floating around in my head. Eventually I understood, I was supposed to leave on Wednesday,,, I'm kind'a slow that way sometimes.

Jump date was identified, prep (such as it was) was lining up, all systems seemed go'ish,,, what's this email from Stephen's dentistry,,,,,,

So, jump off day begins with an 8:30 checkup,,, am I the first inmate to begin a rr with a dentist appt?

Regardless,,, on the bike by 10:30 heading north through suburbs

Flat suburb

turn left

Flat fields

ride, ride, ride

SIDEBAR - I've got no hesitation stealing good words aligned nicely from other inmates, maybe we'll devise a drinking game and see if others can guess the original author

gas and a bio,,, find this hanging in the mens room

Kind'a freaked me out.

Recovered, continued to ride straight - napping along the way until...

you were expecting something grander I'm sure but listen, when you live in the midwest, any change in elevation is greeted with wild celebration and fireworks.

Made it to Galena Il in early afternoon which reminds me, there's an additional plot or 2 that will be woven in at completely random times. Civil War,,, that would be the US civil war for our foreign friends. Who knew, Ulysses S. Grant lived in Galena Il.

Proof you say? I present his house

Now, you're a war hero, help preserve the union, become president....

Shocking, I didn't know he married a Keebler elf? Maybe it was the artist...

So I make it to the Mississippi and things don't seem quite right - maybe it's the trees, shouldn't they have more leaves on them?

Ride on a bit pondering this strange feeling of 'something's not right' until..

What a weird way to build a road...

Like all good city folk, I'm completely oblivious to the fact that the Mississippi floods and after a really snowy winter like the midwest went though,,, it floods a lot!

I start meandering northward through Iowa (realllly pretty north of Dubuque along the river, who knew?) and get to a scenic overlook where Keith and his wife (Nancy?) are taking in the view. Keith points out the most photographed farm in Iowa,,, +1

They point me towards Pikes Peak State Park as a place to camp for the evening as they head off on their first ride of the season. Nice folks.

I make it to the park, fumble around with dinner, setup camp and drop like a log.

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Old 04-21-2011, 10:57 AM   #5
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Crewwolfy - thanks for the kind words. So far so good. As I mentioned in the first post, I've got a bit of back log to whittle down so please excuse the monologue

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Old 04-21-2011, 11:32 AM   #6
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Day 2

Morning arrives with the local DNR officer inquiring about my self pay campsite. Seriously, I wasn't trying to skate. Really. I'd filled out the form, noted the fee, realized I didn't have correct change and was trying to figure out who to send it to (note to Iowa DNR,,, you should include an address for us honest idgits).

Mr DNR was very understanding and as he cuffed me (not!) said he'd see about getting change for my 20.

All good and in the morning light I could see that we were directly across from where the Wisconsin river dumped into the Mississippi. Actually, I couldn't see that, I read it on a placard at the overlook. Just looked like a really big lake with trees growing in the middle of it.

Turns out that all the national park campsites are shutdown (go figure) and the 16 foot flood level had been exceeded and the river was currently at 20 ft. They were fearful that with all the snow, the river would exceed the record of 26 feet (1963?) but that the spring thaw was slowed by cold temps up north (my slow brain didn't really grasp the significance of that).

One of the thoughts I had while pondering this trip was that there was probably some cool engineering along the river, so every once in a while I'll throw some photos....

I was beginning to notice that it wasn't as warm as yesterday,,, just an occasional thought drifting through my aired mind.

As I drove along the river, town after town was making preparations as the river kept rising.

Really,,, how do you deal with things like this?

As I got further along, I came across this and I didn't know if it was supposed to be this way or whether this was a giant FAIL.

Either way,,, this is about when the rain started. Sorry, but no more photos for today.

When I was shivering too much to continue I stopped in Winona Minnesota for breakfast/lunch and discovered that it was 37 degrees,,, hmmm 37 degrees and raining. Where am I going again?

Eventually made it to Minneapolis and found a hotel, shower, food and drink,,, not necessarily in that order.

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Old 04-21-2011, 11:42 AM   #7
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careful- there is snow this way and hail and ice on roads- not the best time to be eastern
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Old 04-21-2011, 12:05 PM   #8
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Day 3

So I had made it to the northern terminus of my intended trip which was kind'a cheating, but not really if you use the correct words. The beginning of the Mississippi is actually up in Lake Itasca Minnesota, but the beginning of the navigable portion of the Mississippi is in Minneapolis. I'm do'n the navigable portion,,, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

It's to F'n cold.
And wet.

Minneapolis in the background.

After yesterday in the rain, I figured the worst was over. I'm heading south for a long time and it can only get nicer,,,, right?

Are you F'n kidding me???

Gratuitous engineering shot - I was really looking forward to seeing the lock and seeing how they move ships from one elevation to another along the river...

Not anywhere near as interesting when the waterlevel is the same on both sides... oh well.

Turns out they maintain a 9 foot shipping channel the entire length of the river,,, here are some of the toys they use.

So I shiver my way southward chanting in my head, I'll be warmer any minute, warmer, warmer, it'll be warmer any minute now, here it comes.

I lied in Day 2,,, it didn't really rain,,, it kind'a drizzled.

Today,,, it rained.

Cleanse the world kind'a rain.

Mid 30's again.

Oh,,, and wind.

back in Galena,,, might not leave.

I should mention that I went up the west side (Iowa, Minnesota) and down the east side (Minnesota, Wisconsin)

Now numerous 'so called friends' began pointing out to me that it was 'I' who decided to ride a motorcycle north in mid April... Really, did I do that?

After thinking about it, I guess I had. It sounded much nicer in my second post where I talk about a ride along the river from Minneapolis to New Orleans.

F'n reality

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Old 04-21-2011, 01:16 PM   #9
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Day 4

After listening to the wind and rain while I dropped off to sleep last night I awake straining my ears to 'hear' what the weather is like.

Can't hear a thing,,, no wind - my soul sings with glee, no rain - could I be past it???

Creep over to the window and peek out...

Yeah,,, snow is kind'a silent isn't it. Temp still in mid 30's but that doesn't mean that snow won't fall.

I've got to get south TODAY!

By the time I get packed and geared up, snow has stopped, no wind, still cold,, this might not be to bad.

In fact, the first couple of hours are the best since Day 1. Pretty ride along the Great River Road (been following it on and off since Day 2).

Things are still a bit wet, but overall a nice morning ride.

Sunny blue skies

But of course, later on the inevitable happens

and it begins alternating between rain and snow (wind came back as a constant) for the rest of the day.

No real interesting engineering shots, but I did find this.

I swear I never saw this bell. I've been riding with a lanyard and a point and shoot and I was just shooting randomly...

The river continues to amaze me,,, how close is this to epic?

I'm guessing that the good folks who live along the banks are used to this because I haven't heard anything in the news about the flooding.

Eventually I decide to tuck my face right behind the windshield and barrel on to St. Louis,,, looks like the temperatures begin getting reasonable down there.

Blue skies and 50's as I roll in

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Old 04-21-2011, 02:38 PM   #10
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Day 5

Wow,,, really pretty outside, wonder what the temp is?

Warm,,, like really warm.

This will be weird.

Eat, pack, begin to load, decide to move Fatty a bit closer to the door to make packing easier and NOOOOOOOOOOOOO,,, dead battery.

Suzuki, in their infinite wisdom have a position for the key that is a micro radian from the normal position where you lock handle bar that turns on the parking lights.... Grrrrrrrrr.

Luckily the Hotel has a charge boxie thing that breaths life back into Fatty in no time, just don't stall it....

Regardless of the shaky state of my electrical system I decide to push on, its Sunday, no one's going to test and charge my battery for me and I don't really want to loose the day. What's the worst that could happen?

Blue sky, warm air, quiet back roads,,, glad I didn't go north to start this thing out (that memory has rapidly faded away). Absolutely beautiful ride.

Freight trains rolling through farmers fields

Sun dappled road without painted lines just rolling though the country side. Now this is what I've signed up for.

Can't forget the cute baby farm animal pictures for my daughter,,, hey noodle!

This is really starting to feel like a summer time ride.

Once I noticed them I couldn't take my eyes off them. I don't know what they were after but they were everywhere.

WTF? Worms?

This whole ridge is empty,,, something came along and just gutted it leaving these holes all along the face. How many of us could have resisted the urge when we were younger (maybe I'm dating myself for not going for it), but remember, I've got a flaky bike right now.

So I gingerly, put Fatty on her kick stand, get off, shoot the photos of inside the mine, carefully get back on Fatty and stick her in first gear. Engine immediately dies. Arrrrgggggg. Kick stand still down, stupid safety features...

Luckily, 2 hours of constant riding was enough to recharge her battery and she fired right up,,, scared me silly though.

There's that river, wondered where it had gone off to.

So, raise your hand if you knew that Popeye was really based on a real person... be honest now.

Gratuitous engineering shot

somewhere in this shot, the Ohio and Mississippi are meeting,,, not sure where it's supposed to be or where it actually is,,, both are rather flooded

Fatty at our campsite for the evening,,, Land Between the Lakes in Western Kentucky. Nuff said.

Good night

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Old 04-21-2011, 06:40 PM   #11
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Soaring birds

The big soaring birds were probably turkey vultures.They soar as a group.Hawks are loaners.The turkey vultures are ugly on the ground with long turkey necks but look beautifull when they soar.Good luck on your trip.
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Old 04-22-2011, 05:48 AM   #12
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rydry -- thanks for the heads up, it'll be a bit before I'm anywhere near your neighborhood, I'll be in the south and working my way up the Blue Ridge and Skyline for the next 4ish weeks.

mark2wheeler - I'm sure you're right, I saw something ugly on the ground within a day or so of seeing those guys in the sky. The shear number of them was what was surprising. That photo was taken after I'd been riding and watching them all along that ridge,,, so that was just a small sample of the total number of birds that I saw.

All - I'm still 3 days of riding down on the report. I will catch up, photo's have been selected and they're uploaded to smugmug, I just need the time to do the typing.

I'm actually down on the Natchez Trace Pky (spent the last day hiding in a hotel in Tupelo Ms and getting a start on this blog) but I'll be back on the bike today so this is probably the only post for today.

If you like the Civil War stuff,,, Shiloh is in the bag and Vicksburg is on the menu.

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Old 04-22-2011, 08:28 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by mark2wheeler View Post
The big soaring birds were probably turkey vultures.They soar as a group.Hawks are loaners.The turkey vultures are ugly on the ground with long turkey necks but look beautifull when they soar.Good luck on your trip.

Also turkey vultures are protected birds. Why?
They are the clean up crew. They eat dead animals as they decay. Without the service of the turkey vultures there would be far more chance of disease spreading from carcasses.
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Old 04-22-2011, 08:34 AM   #14
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Awesome so far...Keep 'em coming
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They gave the ultimate sacrifice because they answered the call without question
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Old 04-23-2011, 02:42 PM   #15
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Day 6

Sorry bout the lag,,, it'll happen again.

I'm just being realistic.

What a way to wake up, birdies, lake, sunrise,,,, its all good!

As you can see Fatty is up and raring to go. This was such a pleasant campsite I almost stayed another day just on principle.

Didn't,,, but got to ride through the "Land Between the Lakes". If anyone doesn't know about this its a National Recreation area that lies between the Kentucky Lake (damned up Tennessee river) and Lake Barkley (damned up Cumberland river) in western Kentucky. Really pretty area and a nice ride with lots of trails for those that like to get mud on their bikes

Lots of interesting stuff to see and do within the area, there's an ATV area, lots of boat launches, lots of overlooks and a few big furry things.

Engineering alert!

I think these things are just awesome!

at the southern end is Fort Donelson which was an earthen fort, kind'a cool but the best (of course) was the hardware.

wouldn't that totally freak out the wake boarders!

Once you pop out the south end you're actually in Tennessee and I swear that state doesn't really understand creating straight roads (thank your favorite deity)

Maybe its some form of childhood bias but I think riding through Tennessee is always just breath taking...

End game was Nashville,,, wander around meeting folks, eating ribs at Rippy's and watching shows on a monday night,,, even the open mic folk in that town rip it.

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