So, not a bad day, all things considered. As reported, I spent the night (Friday) in a motel in Phillipsburg, KS. This morning I carefully checked the Weather Channel and also my cell phone Weather Bug, and it looked like the Gulf coast storm is centered over Kansas City, 250 miles away, later in the day. It appeared I could get close without having to deal with rain.
Rain is a hazard when riding a motorcycle. It isn’t just being wet and cold, or the slick conditions, it’s visibility issues. I normally look through three lenses, my windshield, my helmet visor, and my glasses. Once they get wet – both sides – I have to grope along with just the side of the road to guide me. In heavy rain, visibility is sometimes less than 25-feet. I can’t just stop, because the highway offers only a narrow shoulder and you have to be aware of those semis and cars roaring up behind you. Rain is not my friend when traveling on Rosie.
But it was a good day. It was overcast, occasionally foggy, but for 250 miles, no rain. St Joseph, Missouri, is just across the Kansas state line, about 30 miles north of Kansas City. I stopped twice to check weather radar and although Kansas City was being dumped on, St Joseph appeared okay, right on the edge.
My GPS allows me to search for campgrounds and motels. Seeing nothing in the St Joe area of immediate interest, I punched in the Radisson Hotel, thinking it would take me to other nearby accommodations. I was wrong. I was routed downtown into some depressingly rundown sections. I made another selection, Budget Motel. That was even worse, fearing I would have to roll Rosie into my room just to ensure its safety. I finally punched in Holiday Inn Express and was taken to an area of chain restaurants and department stores. It was expensive for a Holiday Inn Express – $120 – but I was tired of looking.
Once unpacked in my room, a check of radar and tomorrow’s forecast suggested I could get across Missouri during the day (Sunday) and then into Indiana on Monday. So, not so bad. That night I watched the IU football game being played in Bloomington under torrential rain. The TV cameras showed water cascading down the stadium steps. Man, I want no part of that.
What a delightful day Sunday was. I rode 311 miles, all of it in the sunshine. It had been several days since I’d seen the sun. Entering Missouri at Hannibal, (I had spent my first night of this trip in Hannibal), I could feel Rosie sniffing his home stable. It’s still raining in Indiana, so I’ll ride up to the rain clouds at Springfield, Illinois, and spend the night while rain moves out of Indiana and into Ohio.
As I passed Chillicothe, MO, (big wave to my Villages writing friend, Julie Johnson, whose summer home is in Clillicothe), I remembered that nearby was General John Pershing’s boyhood home. I considered stopping when heading west but was just too rushed. Even though it was Sunday and the site probably not open for tours, I was determined to check it out.
Yep, not open.
Nevertheless, I was able to tour the grounds, see the statue, read the plaques, and take some pictures. Pershing grew up in Laclede, MO., a tiny farm community and according to records showed little boyhood history to suggest that one day he would become a national war hero. Laclede is a small community of neat homes and mowed lawns. Next to his boyhood home is a Baptist church. All citizens in Laclede are Baptist, even the Presbyterians. (I stole that line from William Least Heat Moon in his book “Blue Highways.”)
Pershing graduated from the West Point Military Academy in 1886 and advanced his military career in the Western states, Cuba, The Philippines, Manchuria, and Mexico. It was in Mexico that his heroic advances earned him the title, “Blackjack Pershing.”
In World War One, Pershing was named Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces. His aggressiveness is credited with our success in ending the “war to end all wars.”
Approaching Springfield, I punched in a KOA campground and was taken to a remote setting beside Lake Springfield that I recognized from a stay several years before. That stay was memorable because after setting up my tent, a 5 or 6-year-old black girl approached and wanted me to push her on the merry-go-round. “What’s your name little girl,” I asked. “Felicity,” she said. “Hmm, what a pretty name. How do you spell it?” I asked. “I don’t know,” she replied.
I gave her a push on the merry-go-round and it looked like fun so I tried to hop onboard. Unfortunately, one of the safety-bars bashed my leg as it swung past and blood was everywhere. I patched up my wound and headed home the next day, but that injury was infected and took four weeks to heal. No merry-go-round pushes this trip, Felicity. Sorry.
Tomorrow, it’s a relatively short ride to Bloomington (213 miles) and the weather should have cleared out overnight. This has been a wonderful trip. I really didn’t know if I had the stamina to handle long distance motorcycle travel and the challenges of camping and dealing with weather issues. Guess what, Old Man Stark ain’t so old after all!
It was so great to have you VIPs (Virtual Invisible Passengers) along. I feel like I’ve traveled with 200 good friends and companions and I loved our conversations. At the end of every trip, I say a little prayer of appreciation, “Thank you, Lord, for returning me home unscathed, unbruised, and unbattered. AMEN!”
Final stanza of “Rosie Made Me Do It”:
It’s quarter to three. There’s no one in the place except you and me.
So, set ‘em up Joe. Here’s a little story that you ought to know.
We’re drinking my friend, to the end of a long episode.
So, it’s one for my Rosie, and one more for that long, long road.