Today my riding friend Mike and I got on the road to head to the Upper Peninsula (da YOOP) to attend the annual BMW RA national rally, which will be held in Houghton MI on the campus of Michigan Tech University. I finally got the bike packed last night for the final time. Lots of packing and re-packing went on all week to keep up with weather forecasts and indecision. It's always hard to envision how cold it will be at my destination when it's in the mid-90's with high humidity in Houston and this trip is no exception. Should I bring long johns? Will the AST jacket be too heavy? How many days will it be cold, which translates into how many long-sleeved shirts will I need? A call from Mike cleared up one problem. He suggested that doing laundry mid-trip would ease the packing situation. I checked on-line and confirmed that the motel we'd be staying in for 3 days in Houghton had a laundry room. This helps!
Geared up, bike backed out of the garage, I was sitting in my driveway waiting for Mike to show up at 7:00 AM. At 7:10, Mike whipped into my driveway, tore off his helmet and declared that he had a flat rear tire. He popped his bike up onto the centerstand and we quickly saw the problem: a large screw dead center in the tread. The only real viable option was to air the tire up with my compressor and head over to On The Border discount motorcycle tire store in Pasadena. I went into the house to confirm what time they opened (9:00 AM) and we headed over there, thinking he could get the rear wheel off the bike while we waited, and maybe catch breakfast somewhere nearby, as well. We were thinking he'd need to buy a rear tire, and were hoping they'd have something in stock that would fit his BMW GS Adventure, but on the way over there I remembered that I'd had them patch a nearly new tire for me so when we got there I reminded him that this was an option.
They got his tire taken care of very quickly and we were on the road by 10:00 AM, three hours later than we'd hoped, but we should still get to Memphis before dark. By this time the sun was high in the sky and I was sweltering in my riding gear until we could get moving at highway speed to get out of town. We ran into a little rain as we headed north and this cooled things down quite nicely. In fact, the temps stayed very comfortable all the way to Memphis.
The ride up US 59 was uneventful and, after a late lunch and gas stop in Texarkana, we got onto I-30 and headed northeast toward Little Rock. The traffic was noticeably light on the interstate, and remained so, even after we got onto the usually busy I-40. But I did break the $4.00 per gallon barrier somewhere along I-40 and I also dropped my bike backing out of a parking spot at one of the gas stations when my left foot went down into a dip in the tarmac while I had the wheel turned full lock to the right. Full gas tank. The perfect formula for a drop. When these kinds of drops happen I usually stay on my feet while the bike goes down beneath me. When I feel it go, I don't wrestle with it, I just step off to my left, lifting my right leg over it as it goes down. The tankbag hit the horn button on the handlebar which got everyone's attention (nothing like drawing attention to oneself!!). Sheesh!
It was our plan to get to Mike's mom's house in time for dinner. Mike called her to let her know it would be closer to 8:00 PM before we got there, so go ahead and eat. She had oven-fried chicken waiting for us when we got there, and homemade cake for dessert.
We spent the next day, which was Father's Day, in Memphis with Mike's mom, brother and his family and had a great cookout at his brother's house. After eating ourselves silly we sat outside and watched the fireflies...how long has it been since anyone has seen those around??
Tomorrow we head north through Missouri and Illinois.