Brent Allen, author of Motorcycles, Life, and… and The Elemental Motorcyclist and his wife, Julie, are on a road trip, two-up. They are heading to the AMA Superbike races in Elkhart Lake, WI, riding their Honda ST1300 from their home town of Nampa, ID (just southwest of Boise). They will be our guest bloggers while on the trip, and each will give their own impressions on their travels and give us a look into each of their own individual ways of looking at the same experience.
First, from Brent:
Wednesday May 28/Omaha NE to Cedar Rapids IA/08:15 to 16:10/1321 miles to 1596 miles
I have a couple of questions starting with, on US30, what’s the deal with the red pavement for the first 30, 40 miles coming into your state? Was it a Husker bet you lost or a prank by drunken Nebraska frat boys? It was nothing but odd. Also, I noticed a lot of churches, dozens and dozens of them. You have more churches than Nebraska has Subways and you can’t turn around in Nebraska without bumping into a Subway. Are all the churches because everybody dry farms? I mean there’s not a lick of irrigation anywhere, no wells or pivots, no canals, no pipelines, or sprinklers! I’m assuming you need to stay on the Lord’s good side for rain and whatnot, yes? OH, and I saw the Museum of Religious Art, great looking building I thought about stopping by but didn’t have the time. Enjoyed the entire trip across the state, loved the green grass and boy howdy, your citizens keep their homes and yards tidy! Very impressive to see, I’m looking forward to the last few miles on the way to Wisconsin. Glad to have been here.
Love, Hugs & Sloppy Wet Kisses,
This has been a odd, difficult day. To use a cliché, I’m just not feeling it today. Not sure why. We started by visiting the Mormon Pioneer visitor’s center run by the LDS church which was dandy. We, being the first in, were subjects of intense interest and everyone was very curious about our ride. Meet some nice folks, re-learned some history, and enjoyed the air conditioning. It was all quite painless. The visitor’s center sits on a hill on the north side of Omaha with an LDS temple and pioneer cemetery crested on the top of the hill. Although they’re not known for their stained glass the Mormon temple at Winters Quarters has some beautiful glass work which is visible from the outside. If you want to see it from the inside that’s a more complex equation I’d rather not try to explain. All in all the entire property is very pretty and soothing, loads of trees, and a Catholic community center next door. The neighborhood is very ecumenical and cool. Ignoring some undoubtedly good food and tourist advice from the local missionaries we headed out to relocate US30 and get on our way to Cedar Rapids where we are now spending the night.
The easy way out, the thing that folks want to do is lump all the plains states into one pile and say, “They’re all the same” but they are not. The differences are subtle things, in Iowa the terrain is more pronounced than the hills in Nebraska with faster elevation changes and more altitude for summits. The tree canopy seems taller in Iowa and the undergrowth not as thick as that in Nebraska. US30 spends a great deal of time along the railroad tracks in western Iowa but eventually turns away and occasionally returns to the tracks for short runs.
Right now I feel like a paisley tie. If it’s working it’s working; if it’s not then it’s not. Right now I’m not. I neglected to wear earplugs today and maybe I’m paying the price. As all the glorious stories of pioneer heritage were being shared at the Mormon site my pioneer story to share was, “Ummm, my great, great, great, great grandma took a boat from Iceland to Liverpool, a boat from Liverpool to New York and a train from New York to Salt Lake City.”
Maybe I’m feeling inferior because my ancestors didn’t walk across the plains and eat their own boots or maybe the wind just rang my bell--I’m not sure but I’m in a funk. My eyes are dry and burn a touch and I’ve not got a big appetite. I’m sore but not busted up any more than normal. Mrs. Crash and I had a very nice conversation with a genial farmer at a Casey’s General Store near Des Moines talking agriculture, rain, and shine (the sun kind not the moon kind). He was even wearing overalls which gave it a really authentic feel. I’m neither sunburned nor dehydrated. I’m just off and I apologize I don’t have more but I’m out of bullets tonight. In fact, I can’t find my gun. The WiFi at the hotel is crap and I can’t even upload this entry. Grrrrr. Tried to fire up Mrs. Crash’s hot spot but that bit me on the ass too…
Tomorrow will be better, I’ll find a doughnut shop.
And, from Julie:
We started this morning in Omaha, Nebraska, not far from Winter Quarters. A temporary winter camp for Mormon pioneers in the 1800's. Since we were ahead of schedule Crash proposed a visit which turned out to be educational and emotional for me.
We spent an hour with our young Sis. Missionary guide touring the gallery and listening to stories and excepts about the trials that the early Saints endured during their stay and looked at replicas of the minimal supplies they took and humble cabins they stayed in while in Winter Quarters.
After our tour and a few pictures we were back on the bike heading out of Omaha and across the Missouri River and on to Iowa. There wasn't a noticeable difference between the states just subtle changes much like when an artist blends colors on a canvas. It may have started blue but the artist mixed a little yellow and there was green he added a little red and soon it's became brown. There may not have been a lot that was noticeably different from Nebraska to Iowa but the differences between Idaho and Iowa, striking.
As we rode along the Lincoln Highway mile after mile, acre after acre passed and I found myself pondering on a specific topic brought to my mind by the acres of green farm land and the man seated in front of me on the ST. Backstops and Windshields.
I mentioned in an earlier blog that I lost my Dad a month ago. He was 69, in seemly good health. He came in from work, called my brother and chatted about a few work related things. Sat down in his recliner to take a nap and never woke up. A peaceful passing just as he always said he'd have. It was a complete shock for all of us.
For 23 years of my life my dad was the strongest, tallest, meanest, funniest, most loving, fun loving man I knew. When I was with him I never felt fear. He was Superman. He was McGyver. He was invincible. He was my counselor. He always had my back. No questions asked, if life pushed me backward, Dad was my backstop.
Then 26 years ago he passed the baton on to another guy (Crash) who wanted to take on the challenge of being my backstop. Don't get me wrong, Dad didn't stop being my backstop he just stepped back and took the role of backup backstop. Crash thought he knew what he was getting into, I'm sure he didn't and I'm sure there have been times when he questioned his decision to take the job.
For 26 years he has without question, listened to my incessant droning about the house, the kids, church, family, broken appliances etc.. He has made every attempt to fix what he could for me to hold me and comfort me, love me. His patience has been only bettered by Job from the bible. As I sat behind him today I realized what an amazing backstop he has been. I realized something else.
Crash isn't just my backstop, he's my windshield. He has without me even realizing it protected me from the nastiness of life as much as he possibly could. Sheltering me from the things life tried to pelt me with like the bugs, rain and hail that have smashed themselves against the windshield on the bike. Just like my Dad, Crash is invincible. When I'm with him I know no fear. He is my superman, my McGyver. I trust him implicitly, whole heartedly. I know he has my best interest, safety, comfort and spiritual welfare at heart.
People have asked my how I could possibly enjoy riding as a passenger on a motorcycle. They would be too scared or don't feel they could trust their riding partner to make good decisions, be safe or control the bike. That's sad and unfortunate for them. Crash is my best friend, my other half. When we're on the bike just as in life, we work together, in tandem. He has my back and is watching out for what's approaching from the front. He is my Backstop and my Windshield. I pray that I can be both for him.
Thank you Crash, I love you.