Monday, June 27, 2011

On the Road to Wisconsin - Day 1

I'm sitting at the designated meeting spot to get this "show" on the road...it's 6 AM and just starting to get light.  But no Mike.  At ten minutes after 6 AM he zoomed in next to me, flipped up his visor, and stated that he'd forgotten his passport and needed to go back home to get it.  Good thing it's early and he lives only 5 miles away.  So a 6:00 AM start became a 6:30 AM start and we'd have to deal with a little more Houston rush hour traffic with this later start.  But finally we're off, heading north on 288 toward I-45.

We made a stop in Madisonville at the new Buc-ee's to grab a coffee and breakfast snack then continued north on I-45.  Our next stop was at the big Love's Truck Stop just before the I-20 interchange.  It's my usual stop, just the right distance from home to fill up my gas tank before beginning the arduous ride through or around Dallas.  I filled up, pulled my bike around to a parking spot off to the side of the pumps and went inside to use the bathroom. 

Re-grouped - or so I thought - I put my bike into gear and headed out of the Love's and back onto I-45.  After I merged into traffic I did a mirror check and...no Mike!  Now where the heck is he??  He had pulled up along side my bike at Love's, but facing the other direction so, when I moved off, I assumed he was just doing a U-turn to follow me out.  But now he's nowhere in sight in my rearview mirrors.  

While at Love's I mentioned to him that the lights on his new Concours didn't seem very bright and he was not visible in my rearview mirrors, getting "lost" in the mix of cars and trucks behind me.  Now this is more true than ever, as I cannot see him at all in the traffic behind me.  I found a good spot to pull over along the shoulder, in a wide spot just past an exit ramp.  Just as I came to a stop, there he was, coming out of nowhere and whizzing past me down the exit ramp, pointing his left arm ahead of him in a large gesture which, to me, indicated that I should proceed up I-45.  If he'd wanted me to follow him down the exit ramp, he would have made a "come along" gesture. 

So I took off, continuing up I-45, expecting he'd come up the entrance ramp and catch up with me.  But apparently he got caught at a long light.  I never did see him the rest of the day and this, despite going slow all the way through Dallas.

I'm on my own, riding up US 75/US 69 to I-40 - actually, just the way I like it - then over to Alma AR for the night.    US 69 traverses northeast along the western edge of the OK mountain ranges with pleasant views and slight elevation changes.  I stopped just south of McAlester for gas and a cold drink then continued on.  As I passed through McAlester I saw a billboard advertising Pete's Place and remembered finding that restaurant for a photo with my AMA "Italy in America" flag a few years ago.  The town hosts a large Italian festival and Pete's Place is ground "zero," providing the feast.  Here's my photo of Pete's Place, from that AMA Grand Tours ride a few years ago:


I arrived at the Comfort Inn in Alma AR nice and early - 4:00 PM or so - and spotted Ron Goodall's Honda Interceptor parked in front.  Once I'd checked in and showered, I gave him a call and we hooked up, sat and compared Zumo's until Mike arrived about 90 minutes later.  Dinner at Cracker Barrel next door and I was ready to call it quits after a long hot day of riding.

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