Stupid Is as Stupid Does

Route 66 1.12

Day 11 July 19, 2008

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

I awoke on this Saturday morning looking forward to finishing my Route 66 portion of this trip. What I wasn’t prepared for was the weather. It was raining in that way that looked like it would rain until Tuesday. A smart person would have gone back to bed until Tuesday. But I had landed in a motel that was substandard even by my standards. This motel had marginal air conditioning and practically no TV. I can live with one bubble soap bars, but no TV is cruel and unusual. You don’t get a lot for $33

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A wet day in Illinois

Not to worry though. I had invested in all of this high dollar gear to allow me to go in these kinds of conditions. I saddled up my Cortec Saddlebags with their rain covers. I passed up my BRP jacket, since it had absorbed water like a sponge in yesterday’s rain, and I went with my Knee Dragger rain top and my BRP bottoms.

I ventured out into a steady rain. The Recluse coughed and sputtered and lit up a few warning icons on the dash as though to express disapproval at being taken out in such stuff. I am not sure how a company that builds jet skis and snow mobiles makes a conveyance that is so sensitive to rain. But then it began to purr like it always does.

In any case, at 65 MPH, no rain is steady. It is closer to hurricane force. My gear offered little protection. The small of my back was the only thing dry after only a few short miles. The traffic going into Chicago was bad. Visibility was bad. Water was standing on the road and while the Spyder looks like my jet ski, it is not a jet ski. At one point I thought that I should just peel off and head out of this madness. No one would ever know, I thought. It was the prudent thing to do. But that is not what I did.

I went all the way into Chicago risking life and limb. Visibility was about 400 yards and traffic was crazy. The roads were in disrepair and would have been dangerous in any situation but especially in these conditions. Something drove me on and I eventually arrived at Shoreline Drive on Lake Michigan in the Southside of Chicago. I could just barely see Lake Michigan through the rain. I was at the end of my journey but where the end of Route 66 was, I had no clue. It was not the kind of day to go searching for it either.

So I ended my Route 66 journey in a rather wet and anticlimactic manner. I had made it and learned a few things along the way. First, one should travel Route 66 from East to West. That way it gets more interesting as you go along. It just keeps getting weirder and wackier as you head out West. The life size dinosaurs and Wigwam Motels all culminate in the craziness of the concrete jungle surrounding Santa Monica Pier. If you only can do half of the journey then do the part that is West of Tulsa. While Missouri and Illinois are definitely the Heartland of America, Route 66 is just another road in this area. No real character to distinguish it from any other road.

America is out there all along Route 66. Evidence of people who have given up on their dreams is every where in the abandoned buildings along the way. The resilience of the human spirit shows up in all the marginal businesses that are out there hanging on by a fingernail. There is still some good home cooking to be had and some really down-to-earth people every where. It takes longer than 12 days to see it properly. 120 days would be more like it. While I intended to go slow, I went way too fast. A few days in each town would be about right to really learn what goes on in each.

I learned a few things about my bike too. It definitely is an attention getter. It sucks in stop and go traffic. It sucks in wet weather. All of the accessories I got were basically useless when I needed them. The Corbin fairing is little more than a decoration. My BRP riding suit is a sponge. My Scala Bluetooth headset started talking in tongues as soon as it got wet. My Cortec saddlebags with rain covers are of little use. My BRP tail bag, while falling apart, does not hold out water. I believe I can replace all of these with a good garbage bag. The good news is that the arena of motorcycle accessories appears to be wide open since no one seems to offer anything that works well.

But back to the trip; Since I was not about to take my camera out in the downpour and take an ‘end-of-trip’ photo, I just turned south to make my way to Big Butter Jesus which is located in Ohio, some 300 miles further on. The rain continued and so did I. The rain eventually stopped but by that time I was so wet it really did not matter. It was not uncomfortable riding in the rain once I got out of the Chicago traffic. It was just wet. Actually it was rather cool which made for good riding.

When the rain stopped I took off my useless rain top and opened up the vents in my riding pants and almost as quickly as I got wet, I got dry. A 75 mph wind does tend to dry you out.

I pushed on until the nerve in my neck and the cramps in my legs told me to stop in Richmond, Indiana. I pulled into a Best Western where there was a congregation of Model T’s. They are having a one hundred year Model T gathering over the next week and there are restored Model T’s every where. Of course, they wanted me to park next to them and have a picture taken with the Model T and the Recluse.

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Bob, Recluse and Model T’s 1

I thought I would put on something dry and go out and have some dinner. That is when I realized how useless my weatherproof luggage really was. EVERYTHING was wet. So I chose my bathing suit and my wife beater shirt and went out and had a beer and something to eat. Now everything looks better.

Tomorrow it is the long anticipated trip to BBJ. More importantly it is time to pay a long overdue visit to Cousin Betty and George in KY. And she said I could get inside the dryer and that sounds real appealing about now.

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