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Guest Bloggers—Brent and Julie Allen's Dual Adventure, Day 9

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.

mississippi river.jpg

First, from Brent:

Monday June 01/Plymouth WI to Nauvoo IL/07:45 to 16:45/1,981miles to 2,357 miles

Two things about Illinois the roads are terrible, truly dreadful and it really seems like a prairie state, more so than the states I expected to be prairie. Illinois is oddly flat. I don’t know what I was expecting but since Nebraska and Iowa were had so much elevation change I was thinking that Illinois because it’s not known widely as a prairie state would somehow have mountains or something. OR it could be that when you think of Illinois all you tend to think of is Chicago and it’s a port city/business hub and you don’t associate landscape with that. The weather was brutal today as well. We got positively drilled by rain as we were leaving Wisconsin and entering Illinois. Visibility dropped to under 300 feet and I eventually pulled over for safety’s sake. The wind then came up and beat the living shit out of me. Combined with the poor Illinois roads it was like going round after round with a fighter who knew enough to work your body. I made several wrong turns and had to backtrack a few times including accidently crossing the Mississippi and having to re-cross it. That time was OK because the bridge we used was an extremely old drawbridge and I love old ironwork. The toll was also only a quarter for motorcycles which beats the hell out of the $3.60 the Illinois tollway cost. My 2up u-turns are getting to be cracking good. We arrived in Nauvoo beat.

We’re here because both Mrs. Crash and I are multi-generational Mormons. She is a descendant of Benjamin Franklin Johnson who was a minor player in LDS history. Two of his sister’s were married to Joseph Smith and he was a lifelong practitioner of polygamy himself.

It’s a curious place and the only description I have for it is that it’s Mormon Disneyland complete with a Main Street USA. Nothing bad about that it’s just a little odd for me to see such a clear target audience being marketed to. As I said I’m pretty beat down so this is a very, very short entry. One thing sticks out about today and that’s as we crossed the big muddy I was shocked to see all the snags that were just peeking out of the water. Just a bit of tree that said, “Don’t get too close, there’s a lot more where this came from.”

And so there is. Be Safe.

And, from Julie:

Word of the day—WIND

Even though we left at and extremely early time we weren't able to escape the wrath of Mother Nature. She caught up with us on the border of Wisconsin and Illinois and thought she take a swipe at us. She did and it was a direct hit.

Crash had pulled over under an over pass so we could put on rain gear, tops only. He felt sure that we'd skirt the storm and maybe, just maybe get a few sprinkles. Hmmm, by the time he got us pulled off the road and into a Hardee's (a few minutes later). We were both completely soaked from the waist down. Water running down my shins and into my boots. It was a gully washer. On a positive note the ST got a good bath and looked shiny and clean when we emerged from the Hardee's 20 mins. later.

The sun came out and warm and bright and being soaked it felt really good. It bobbed back and forth between puffy white clouds the rest of the day but always sharing some warmth. I began to dry out and feel more comfortable. I began to take note of my surroundings. Illinois is much flatter than I would have imagined, much more like a plains state. Fewer trees, lots of green grass and farms, some dry, some pivot irrigated.

One thing I've noticed out here in the Midwest- the striking lack of clear water, meaning every stream, river, pond or lake we've seen is muddy and brown. I asked our suite director Jodi, at Road America about it and she confirmed to me that "it's just the way it is around here." I really do miss the water back home, clear water babbling and talking as it rushes over the rocks in a mountain creek or even the blue green of the Reservoirs. This water even makes the Snake River look like the Caribbean.

The last thing I wanted to mention was the word of the day...Wind. Through all of the rain, the green grass, the fields and muddy water we past by today there was always wind. Not the wind created by being on the road, nasty, external natural wind. It came at us from every direction at some point during the day in the form of head wind, cross winds, tail wind, gusts and continuous hard blowing WIND. I watched Crash expertly, safely and triumphantly arm wrestle the wind for control of the bike. The wind would push and pull us so that from my position it appeared like we were on a children's swing in the park. Back and forth, back and forth we went the wind trying to push us away and Crash silently yet loudly communicating "No I don't think so!"

It was a beautiful ballet to watch. I never once felt concern of any type for myself at any time. Now at the close of the day I see the toll it took on my Crash. He's beat down tired, a little grumpy but non the less lovable. Good thing we have a down day tomorrow.

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