We stopped in Alma AR for the night. Today we were back on the road at 7:30 AM with Ron joining us. He rode in from Temple TX and met up with us at the hotel the night before. Our route put us onto 540, a delightfully mountainous interstate. The early morning sunlight was beautiful as it cast its golden glows and shadows onto the Boston Mountains of western AR.
When we stopped for gas north of Bentonville, I proposed that we take a detour over to Fort Scott to tour the national park and then have lunch. Mike has never been to Fort Scott and was definitely interested. We could then head north on the Kansas side, getting up to Kansas City to catch I-35 without adding too much more mileage.
Once at the Fort Scott National Park, we spent some time at the visitor center talking to the park rangers and then watched the video. Afterward, we walked the short distance to the restored main street area and found a little pizza restaurant for lunch. Over lunch, Ron proposed that he take us for a little detour deep into the KS countryside to visit his childhood home and the town where he attended high school.
So Ron took the lead and brought us to the tiny near-ghost town of Bush City then on to Garnett and the pretty courthouse square. The roads were tiny...on the map and in person, the kind of roads one might pass up, not knowing if they are paved or gravel. But paved, they were, and very scenic as they followed the undulating countryside past tidy farms and acres of lush, green corn.
From Garnett, we worked our way up to I-35 and toward Kansas City, then on to Des Moines.
We passed fields of lush green corn all the way to the horizon. Miles and miles of farms, pretty farmhouses, old barns, even one with a tree growing up through the middle. I spotted many abandoned silos, one a perfect red brick structure.
As we neared our next night's sto,p the low late afternoon sun cast long shadows across the interstate. A young teen girl in an SUV gave me the victory sign as she peered out the passenger side window at me. All day we were seeing many motorcycles on the roads.
We stayed in a new Comfort Inn in Story City, IA for the night, a good location in a lightly populated little town. Nice easy-access gas station, McDonalds within walking distance and, for the ambitious, a Dairy Queen across the street.
The next morning - our final enroute day - I got a short run in first, about 2.5 miles. I ran out of the hotel and turned right where the pavement ended and turned to a groomed gravel road. Along this gravel road I spotted fresh deer prints and was greeted by the song of many birds in the trees overhead.
We had perfect riding temperatures yesterday and this, our final day on the road to Chippewa Falls WI was the same. Clear blue skies, beautiful temperatures, little wind...
We took 35N to 90E to 43 into Winona. When we neared our exit, Mike rode up next to me and signaled a gas stop. He apparently didn't realize that we would be taking the next exit anyway, toward Winona on Route 43. It was over 200 miles since our last gas stop so I knew that gas tanks were all probably close to empty. Mike went inside the gas station to get a recommendation for lunch. My Zumo took us on a wild goose chase and we never did find the place - Lakeview Drive-Inn - but Mike spotted a sign for a place called Timbers Restaurant, just about on our route so we headed that way. I had sauerkraut and dumpling soup, elk burger and chased it with a slice of pumpkin pie a la mode. Excellent!!
Our route up to Chippewa Falls from Winona took us along the Great River Road a short ways then headed north on Route 93, a beautiful road through storybook little towns with neat-as-a-pin cottages and farms and through some beautiful hilly terrain. Most of the agriculture here is dairy farm and corn. Lots of black and white cows gathered in cow-fabs near big, old, but perfectly maintained barns. One barn had the words "Roadside Mootel" painted on the front. The cluster of black and white dairy cows in front of the barn door completed the picture.
In Chippewa Falls, checked into the room at Americinn, we unpacked, changed into shorts and sandals and thought a Subway sandwich and just chillin' sounded like a fine idea. A Walgreen's was within easy walking distance so we shopped for some snacks and beverages to put into the mini fridge in the room.
Tomorrow morning it's the BMW RA Rally!!