I very carefully folded all of the dirty clothes exactly as they were folded when they were clean and packed the first time. I put the last remaining clean shirt and shorts into a plastic bag and laid it on top. Nothing additional went into that sidecase liner that didn't come with me from home. So why does it seem so much fuller? Weird!
I had three new t-shirts and volunteer hat coming home with me from the rally, but then I expected that. I brought an old, worn pair of running shoes with me with the intention of abandoning them in the trash can at the end of the rally. This would make room for the extra shirts in my top case. I remember the Gillette WY rally and standing there in my hotel room trying to figure out how to get the really cool volunteers' cowboy hat home without crushing it. I never did figure that out and ended up abandoning it at the hotel.
Remember that pillow I bought at Walmart? It was a very nice Beautyrest down/feather pillow with very nice box-quilted pillow cover. I momentarily considered strapping it to my back seat to get it home. But then I came to my senses and realized that it only cost $16, a small price to pay to get a good night's sleep for 3 nights. And if I really wanted that pillow, I could just go to the Walmart near my house and buy another. So I abandoned it in the motel room, sitting on top of the nice Beautyrest zippered fabric/vinyl dust cover that came with it.
The early morning sun gave the nearly deserted streetscape a lovely golden color as I rode out of the motel parking lot and headed east on US 50 in search of gas to top off my tank. After turning south onto US 65, I glanced to my right as I passed the rally/fair grounds. Bikes and RV's were queued up at the exit, waiting to turn onto the road for home. There was very little traffic and the ride down to I-44 seemed to pass by more quickly than the ride up.
I debated whether to stop for gas before Joplin or wait and stop at the service plaza on the OK toll road. But a quick check of the distance and I realized that I wouldn't have enough gas to make it to OK. It was a good, easy stop in Sarcoxie, exit 29. Easy off, easy back on and now I could relax and not worry about gas again until I was south of I-40 on US 69. So I just droned along, enjoying the relatively cool morning temperatures.
A nice, big and new Love's truck stop beckoned to me off the Eufaula exit. It was starting to get hot as the sun got higher in the sky, and I needed a bathroom/water break anyway. I was second-guessing my original plans to stop in Durant and was seriously considering riding straight through to home. There were some benefits to this, but the unanswered question was how hot was it going to get today? I hadn't seen the forecast for the day along my route home. I tried checking it on the WX service on my Garmin, but couldn't draw any conclusions. The current temps along my route and the forecasted temps were very disparate.
As I neared Durant, I made up my mind. I was hot and hungry and the idea of quitting for the day was very appealing. It was a short day, mileage-wise - 439 miles - but I cut myself some slack, convincing myself that there was no dire need to get home a day early. My cat would survive one more day; the mail was already on hold until Monday. So, as I topped off my gas tank at the hotel exit, I chose to turn right out of the gas station, rather than left. Another Hampton Inn, another late lunch.. More ice cream.
A decent Mexican chain restaurant, one I'm not familiar with called Taco Mayo, sat right behind the hotel, so I walked over there and got a very good chicken/rice burrito for lunch. There was a Walgreen's next door, so I walked over there afterward, with a craving for something sweet to round out my lunch. I cruised the aisles and settled on a package of cookies to eat later, and a pint of Ben & Jerry's to eat now!
Then I settled into my room, turned on the TV, something I'd not done for 5 days, and ate my Ben & Jerry's. Tomorrow, I should be home by lunchtime.
I was up, dressed, and packed, ready to go early on Monday. But I wanted to time my departure so that I wouldn't be riding into Dallas rush hour. As it turned out, I did run into a bit of it, but it was mostly just slow, and never came to a complete stop as I rode through McKinney and Plano. Then, once I popped out onto I-45, the traffic was behind me and it was just GO, GO, GO to get home.
A quick stop for gas in Buffalo and I noticed that it was cooler here than it was while riding through the Dallas metromess. Now that I was conscious of this, I periodically checked the WX temp on my GPS and noticed that the further south I got, the cooler it was getting. By the time I got to the Conroe area, there was broken cloud cover and the temperature was high 80's. As I got onto the Hardy Toll Road, it began to sprinkle, then to rain steadily, and it stayed with me all the way to within a mile or two of home. Ah, it felt soooo good!!
A couple of red lights, couple of turns, and I was into my neighborhood, onto my street, and into my driveway. Pulling into the garage, I breathed a sigh of contentment.
Home again, home again, jiggity-jig.