Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Yard Work & Car Shows

Another weekend recap done on a Wednesday with poor memory recall……

It was another busy couple of days with a lot crammed in them and it really started Thursday evening when I got a wild hair to do a little yard project. Last year we’d planted Hostas from the front steps to the sidewalk. Then I added some of those low intensity ground lights every 8 feet or so and it looked quite nice, but since doing that it’s been a pain in the buttocks keeping the weeds out of there. So I made a trip to Menards after dinner and looked around a bit for some rocks to use as ground cover. Not to disappoint, they had just what I needed in plastic bags for 3 bucks a bag. So I grabbed 6 bags to start with and headed for home. By the time the solar charged ground lights came on I had weeded an area large enough to accommodate all 6 bags of rocks. With the ground lights on and reflecting off the rocks it looked quite nice so I decided Friday night I’d finish the job. We went back up to Menards and purchased another 15 bags of Western Sunrise. (A nice name for a rock I guess….if ya gotta name ‘em). By the time the ground lights came on Friday evening I had completed the little project with a nice thick bed of red rocks from the front steps out to the sidewalk.

Saturday morning dawned clear and warm and found me on my way to Wayland for a car show in the city park. Between the location and the fact it was put on by the local classic car club I had hopes that it would be a well run event and it turned out I was correct.

I got there about 8ish and was car #100 of what turned out to be about a 240 car show. after finding a spot to park I spent some time cleaning and shining, something I’ve been remiss in doing much of this year, and then once the display was set up I grabbed the camera gear and took off to see what there was to see. What there was, was a LOT of real nice cars. Completely the other direction from the Greenville event of a week ago. This was a CAR show. I spent the entire morning shooting frames and before I knew it, it was noon and time for a couple brats, chips and a drink. I also bought a real nice event T-shirt for only 8 bucks! Wow…shades of the ‘70’s!

After lunch I once again grabbed the camera gear, made a second pass and came across some late-comers I hadn’t seen earlier including an awesome yellow Packard all decked out in hot rod gear. Before I knew it, it was 2:00 and time for the awards. Trophies were presented based on a vote taken by the people who filled out the little piece of paper with their top 3 choices listed thereon. After the award ceremonies were completed, everyone headed for their cars and the open road, including myself. To check out all the pics from this show, click HERE.

I got home from the show just about 3:30pm and immediately began packing the van for a trip up to the campsite at Whiskey Creek. Me, Bailey & Mercury were going to do some work around the site and pull another overnighter. After some fiddling around at home and a couple stops on the way….it was almost 6:00pm by the time we got to the campsite and to add to the mix I was having van problems, again, something that I’d just paid 500 bucks to fix a couple months ago. There was also two big trucks parked in the campsite, Trucks that were there to drill a well, finally. It looked to be that they had everything set up and ready to go first thing Monday morning so hopefully by today I've got water in my campsite. Now it's just a matter of getting the electricity hooked up and figuring out how to make the wife happy with a onsite bathroom. I'm working on that one but no brainstorms yet.

So anyhow, I pulled out the lawnmower and set about shortening up those pesky ferns who were trying to reestablish their territory since the last mow job. By the time that little project was complete it was almost 7:30 and so I decided it was time for din din at the lodge. Only problem with that was this time around I was too late for dinner. They’d already shut down the grill for the day. So now, faced with no food in me and no oil to speak of in the van I decided a trip back into town was gonna have to be undertaken. I fired the van up and realized I might not make it back to town based on the current oil pressure readings so I decided to drop in on the Fetts and see if by chance he might have a quart of oil laying around somewhere.

I made the short drive from Meadowview trail to the Fett residence and pulled down the driveway to their trailer to find them in the middle of making dinner and entertaining company. I explained my situation to the Patriarch Fett and he was able to come up with one quart of oil and then told me I was staying there for dinner with them. I put up a feeble protest as I didn’t really want to go all the way to town and what he was cooking smelled good so I went and got Bailey and Mercury from the van and introduced them all around.

A couple hours later, as the light was fading in the sky and my hunger for food and oil had been temporarily satiated, I said thanks and headed back to the campsite to get a fire going before darkness set in all the way.

I bought batteries and propane on the way up North so that I could have light and sound this time around, but alas……..I needed 8 “C” batteries for the radio….I bought 4 and I couldn’t get the lantern to work even with new mantles and a new propane canister so I was still without light and sound. Instead I contented myself with the sounds of an owl not far away and the light from the fire. At some point I closed my eyes for a minute and forgot to open them back up for awhile. when I did the fire was almost completely out and it was dark, real dark. Both dogs were sound asleep at my feet and the stars were shining brightly without having to compete with manmade lights. I sat there for a bit in the dark and then decided it was time to go crawl in the camper and sleep.
The first moments of consciousness next morning were spent with a big grey dogs face staring into mine. I got the impression that he wanted to go outside so I got up and let 'em both out to greet the morning. It was pretty early so I laid back down for a bit longer before getting up to go outside myself. After a couple minutes of wandering around I decided to go up to the lodge and get some breakfast. MarkE was up there acting as chef again and I had a good breakfast by his hand. After breakfast we headed back to camp. Called home to let the wife know that I was going to stick around for awhile and get something done, seeings how i didn't do a damn thing last night. So between 9:00am and noon I drug all the downed limbs out of the area where the dog pen and the gazebo will eventually be and stacked them all in a big pile for the chainsaw to take care of next trip. I didn't get everything done I wanted to, but I did get the area picked up and mowed. Next trip up we'll cut up the wood and rake out the area so that it starts looking like someone's gonna live there.

It's was almost 12:30pm by the time I backed out the driveway and headed for home and about 2:00pm when we got back into town. After unloading the van I grabbed my bride and we went down to Butch's Beach Burrito's for a quick lunch before she had to take off to do her Sunday night Bingo thing. It'd also come to light since I left Saturday that the oldest daughter was coming up later in the day with the grandbabies for a weeklong visit and I was to be ready for her when she arrived. I wanted to go down to Jeannies for the cruise-in for awhile figuring that Jen wouldn't be up this way until later in the evening, but she ended up pulling into the parking lot at Jeannies about 7:00pm so I fired up the '56 and we headed for home. I spent some time playing with Ryan and tried to get some chores done at the same time. By the time the wife got home Ryan was asleep upstairs and the other one, Jason, was snoozing in his chair so I excused myself and came down to the den to sort thru the weekend's worth of pictures........

I'm still sorting thru pictures tonight, but ready to hit the sheets now.......been a busy week already and there's more to come in the days ahead.



Wednesday, July 19, 2006

North, South, East and ......A New Baby Arrives

Well the big news this week is that Jennette had her 2nd child last Wednesday night / Thursday morning. Jason Robert Polgar was born just after midnight on July 13th, 2006. He weighed in at almost 8lbs, more than his mom weighed when she was born, and was almost 20" long. Wanda got the call from Jennette last Wednesday afternoon and her and Ri were on the road a couple hours later, bound for Hobart Indiana. I got several calls during the evening with updates, the last one at just about midnight, when the doc was saying won't be long now........The phone rang the next morning, just as I was heading out the door for work and it was Jen, who was still understandably wired and awake, calling to give me the details. I had to keep the call short so I could get to work on time, but it was good to know that everything went fine and I was now a granddaddy x 2. The plan was that Wanda and Ri were going to stay down there and help out for the next couple days and that I would come down for a visit on Sunday.

It was a busy weekend and I racked up a bunch of miles and burned a lot of fuel at 3 bucks a gallon. man, that hurts. Saturday morning I went in to work and plugged along until noon. Then I came home and got stuff around so I could take off about 3:00pm and head West to Greenville for a Cruise-in / Car Show. The Greenville deal was adverstised as a multifaceted event with the first stop, for the first couple hours, at Klackle Orchards, a couple miles West of Greenville. I got there right about 4:00pm and got directed to a place in line. I parked the car, grabbed the camera and took a stroll around the grounds. Truth be told, there wasn't a heckuva lot for someone with my taste in cars to see.......only one or two fat fendered hot rods, darn few cars from the 50's and way too many cars that didn't meet the "25 years or older to be a classic car" rule. I spent a little while talking with a couple old timers and then about 5:45pm they announced it was time to get in our cars and go cruising. Well, my impression of a cruise is to ride around for a bit in parade fashion with some sembalence of a audience, but this cruise was simply a ride from Klackle's Orchard to downtown via the industrial park. Maybe 4 miles tops with no audience......and when we got downtown we were instructed to park on either side of the street in an angled fashion, which I did. By 6:00pm I had the hood up, the display set-up and was heading over to get a bite of supper.

After dining I grabbed the camera and did a pass up and down the street. A few more cars had showed up for this portion of the evening, but there was still a deficiency of quality rides compared to most shows I've done in the last 3 summers. Not only was there a small number of "classic" cars on display, there was also a small number of spectators passing by. In Greenville's defense it was in the low '90's, even at 7 in the evening. I'm sure that the temps had an effect on the turnout, most people who owned an air conditioner were probably within a stone's throw of it for the duration of the hot weekend, but it's not likely I'd do this show again next year simply because there were just too many non-classic cars on display. They didn't hand out dash plaques either, which is a small issue, but something I collect and use for proof I was there. The best part of the whole deal was the ride over in the afternoon and the ride back home thru farm country as the sun sat on a perfectly beautiful summer day in July, proving to me once again that it's not the destination, it's the the time I got back home it was a bit after 10pm. I worked on website stuff for alittle while and then, knowing I'd be up early Sunday morning, I gave in to the sandman and went to bed.
Sunday morning we were up and on the road by 7:30am, headed North to Whiskey Creek to work out the (hopefully) final details with MarkE for where we wanted the well dug and the electricial service box placed. I know I haven't spoken much lately about the campsite and progress we're making with it, but I will one of these days real soon go over what's been going on the last couple months. With any luck at all we should have running water and electricity hooked up to the camper by the end of this month to go along with the sewer that's installed and ready to go. Then it's simply a matter of finding the time to go up there and spend some time. At this point we're going to just use the pop-up for the remainder of this year but I'm hoping my next spring to be able to put a decent trailer up there that I can build the rest of the site around. A deck, permanent fire pit, storage shed, a gazebo eventuallly......all stuff that'll be added once there's a decent trailer up there with a inside bathroom and a fridge.
Anyhow, we got up there about 8:30 and found Mark cooking breakfast. Something he says he loves to do. He took off his chef hat for a couple minutes while we rode out to our site and discussed placement of the well and electrical box. 10 minutes later we were back in the lodge dining room, waiting for our breakfast on the house. After a scrumptous breakfast we jumped back in the van and headed back to Grand Haven.
Back at home Chris decided to stay there rather than make the trip to Hobart. Adam, Ri's squeeze, took his place so that riding the bike was out of the question. The plan at this point was to bring back Ri with us as she was homesick. we left GH about 11:00am and headed South, arriving at the Polgar homestead at 1:15 / 12:15cdt. During the afternoon we were treated to another steak cookout, this time with corn on the cob thrown in for good measure, met some of Eric's relatives, took a dip in the pool and spent time playing with and taking pics of both the grandkids. It got to be 6:00pm Indiana time real quick so we said our goodbyes and headed out of town and for home. The ride back was uneventful and we pulled in the driveway just a bit before 9:30pm. After two days driving in 3 compass directions we were burnt out and broke......gas costs for the weekend totaled $135.00!
The plan as of departure time Sunday was that Wanda would stay there until Tuesday afternoon to help Jen out with doctor apointments for the kids, but Monday night she added another day to the stay and arrived home this afternoon. This evening's report is that mother and baby are doing fine and will be coming up here next week to stay for a couple days. Might be a good time to introduce Ryan to Dairy Treat before he moves to
Kansas if I can get his mom to loosen her grip for a couple minutes. :-)
Time for bed now....stay tuned for futher developments.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Holidays, Family Reunions & Birthdays

Well here it is a full week after the fireworks and I'm just now getting around to talking about 'em.

After getting back from the bike trip Monday afternoon, we got up early on the 4th and took a cruise up to Whiskey Creek to check on the camper and progress being made with the lot. Fortunately the camper was still there and in good shape and the sewer install was completed. Still no well or electric, but at least we're making progress, however slow it may be......Ri and Adam were already up there when we got there so after checking out the campsite we jumped in the golf cart and went up to the lodge where they were offering a pancake breakfast for a buck. Sounded like a deal to me and we hadn't had breakfast yet so we all partook of what was there to eat. After breakfast we jumped back in the golf cart and rode all over the territory for about an hour. After the chauffeured ride we got dropped off back at the campsite where we jumped in the truck and headed back for home. Click HERE for Pics.

We got back home about 2:00pm and I ended up napping and working on website stuff for the rest of the afternoon and evening. About Dusk we decided to go downtown for the fireworks. Rather than walk like we should've we took the truck and parked on the West side of the highway. Never a good idea and I paid for my laziness later with a struggle to get back home. After parking we hiked to Harbor Street and wandered around, watching the human circus and the strange cast of characters that an event like fireworks will bring out of the woodwork. I'm never sure whether the sight should make me feel better about myself, or make me want to hide out under the bed......

Of course in Grand Haven, before any fireworks, you have to be subjected to the water and light show that they call the Musical fountain. Having seen it more than once or twice......I've seen it all, so it's mainly something to suffer thru to get to the main event. After 20 minutes of patriotic songs and out-of-sync lights and water, the first shell was launched and the barrage of colored explosions was under way. Fireworks are something I've never outgrown and I enjoy a good show. This years display was probably about a 6 / 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. They kinda blew their wad in the middle of the show and the grand finale left folks going...Well?? Anyhow, after hiking back to the truck like a lost soul in a herd of cattle and sitting in line to get home it was after midnight before I got back to 1400 Waverly. Needless to say I won't be taking the truck, or any motorized vehicle for that matter, downtown again any time soon when there's fireworks or any event that brings out a huge number of out-of-town humans to Grand Haven.

It was a short work week and it went by quickly......Saturday I had planned on participating in the Zeeland car show but got invited to work till noon and being tapped out at the current time it was an offer I couldn't refuse. When I got home shortly after noon I grabbed my bride and we headed down to Zeeland on the bike to check out the car show as spectators rather than participants. Click HERE for pics. There was a decent sized turnout and some nice cars I hadn't seen before. As time goes on and we do more and more shows that's not an easy thing to have happen......We were back home by 3:00pm and I pretty much just kicked back and let the rest of the day slip away.

Sunday morning we were up and out of the house a little bit after 10:00am, heading up to Big Rapids for the annual Family reunion. Along with the family get-together it was also my dad's 81st birthday. There wasn't a large turnout for the reunion, the number of people who show up seems to get smaller each passing year, but it's still nice to see those who take the time to show up along with my favorite Aunt, who hosts the event every year at her house. It wasn't long after we arrived that dinner was ready so we grabbed a plate and picked our favorites from among the many choices. After dining we sat around awhile and shot the breeze, but it wasn't long after the meal was history that folks started taking off and before long there was just a half dozen of us left. We'd rode the bike up and before we left for a stop at the folks house on the way home we ended up giving rides to one of cousin Annette's daughters ( I can never remember which one is who....) and Lauren, Cousin Mary's little precocious daughter who's goal is to work for the CIA! She's into electronic gadgets at an early age in a big way they tell me......even has trip wires in her bedroom?!?! Not sure if they were kidding me or not on that one.

So after the rides we made the stop at the folks house to do some computer stuff for the mom person and then said Happy Birthday one more time and headed back for the homestead. We got home about 6:00pm, parked the bike, backed the '56 out of the garage and headed down to Jeannies for the Sunday night cruise-in. I took Bailey with me and we had supper and ice cream and hung around until I didn't win the 50/50 drawing. We headed for home at that point and cruised thru town before tucking the ole girl back in the garage until the next time.

In Retrospect........I wanted to get some pics of dad on his 81st birthday and other relatives at the family reunion, but pretty much fell flat on my face on that one. By the time I got the camera out people were leaving and the mood just wasn't right for suggesting that folks get close together and say cheese. Guess I'll try again next time.

NEWSFLASH - 07/12/06.........I got a call at work this afternoon from the wife who told me that she'd gotten a call from Jennette and that her and Ri were on their way down to the hospital in Hobart Indiana to be there when grandbaby #2 is born, probably sometime tonight or tomorrow morning at the latest. I just got a call at Midnight and she said that the doctor thought it wasn't going to be too much longer so I guess by the time I wake up in the morning I'll be a granddaddy times two.......I just keep telling myself that you're only as old as you feel and with that in mind I think I'll go find a tire swing and not act my age...........


Saturday, July 08, 2006

4th of July Weekend Trip

Somebody tell me please how we got to the 4th of July so fast this year?? Seems like it was just the 1st day of spring last week and now we’re in the middle of summer already……

Anyhow, with the 4th falling on a Tuesday and not enough vacation time to take a week off at a time I decided to make the holiday into another extended weekend like we did over Memorial Day weekend and take another bike trip. This time I decided to go in the opposite direction and revisit an area that we’d been to over a 4th of July weekend back in 1984. The area I’m talking about is Southwestern Wisconsin, Platteville in particular. Back in 1984 my buddy Dan was living out there and going to school, so my bride and myself took a bike trip over a long 4th of July weekend and went out for a visit. Without recapping that entire trip now I’ll just say that there were places we visited that I wanted to see again and figured that now was as good a time as any so……..

Friday afternoon, after getting out of work, I stopped by the credit union to pick up some spending money and then went home and packed the bike. The plan for the Friday portion of the trip was to go as far as Hobart Indiana, where the oldest daughter is currently staying with her in-laws, spend the night there and then take off for Western Wisconsin first thing Saturday morning. We left home about 5:30pm and headed down 31. The ride down was mostly uneventful except for an incident with the bike cover. On the last trip I had it stuffed down between the handle bars and windshield and it rode there for the entire 6 days without a problem, but this trip, somewhere past South Haven, all of a sudden it decided to launch itself into the air. It took a second or two and a couple 100 yards to come to a stop on the side of the road. Once we got stopped Chris took off back up the road to retrieve the errant bike cover. From my spot with the bike I could see cars dodging the bag and I was hoping Chris could get to it safely before somebody mutilated 80 bucks worth of bike cover. After a couple minutes to hike back up the road, he waited until traffic was clear and then ran out and scooped it up. I decided when he got back to the bike that one time doing that was enough and put the cover on the top of the packs, under the netting for the remainder of the trip.

We didn’t stop again until we got to the Michigan City rest area. 10 minutes later we were back on the road. I got within two miles of Jen’s current residence before I had to call for final landing instructions…..turned out we went one exit too far, but that wasn’t too bad seeing how I was operating on memo
ry…..I left the map at home, duh.

We found the house easily with the instructions and pulled in the driveway, got unloaded, met the in-laws. Dinner was only a couple minutes away and they’d put on quite the feast….steak on the grill that was excellent, mashed taters, corn and even green onions. After stuffing ourselves we kicked back for awhile and shot the breeze, met all their dogs and played with Ryan for a bit. It was almost 10:00pm when we made a run to the local DQ with Jen driving to get desert. A little bit after we got back it was pretty much bedtime for everyone so we joined in too, to get a good nights rest for the journey next day.

Saturday morning I woke up at 6am. The house was quiet so as to not wake sleeping babies or dogs I went outside and sat in the morning sun. I ended up dozing off for awhile and waking up to the sounds of flowers being watered with a hose about 8am. Mr. Polgar said breakfast was about ready at that point so I headed indoors to the dinner table for a morning feast that equaled the previous night’s dinner. There were eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns and biscuits and gravy…more than I could possibly stuff down the pipe. After breakfast we hung around until about 9:30am and then said our goodbyes, jumped on the bike and headed towards the Windy City, Chicago.

In typical fashion I gave my rider the choice as to going around or thru the metropolitan area and he, also in typical fashion, said go into the belly of the whale. So, that’s what we did……Traffic was a bitch to put it mildly. No surprise there. Major construction on the Dan Ryan into town kept us considerably below the speed limit, but we never came to a stand still either, so we counted our blessings as we headed out the North side of downtown. I decided to take 90 (Toll Road) and head west toward Rockford, just to get away from the disgusting urban sprawl, but traffic was even worse on the toll road and we ended up creeping the bike for about 2 miles just to get to the damn toll booth. Figuring that that was a freak occurrence we pulled into the first oasis we came to and took a break for about 45 minutes. After ingesting and expelling fluids we jumped back on the bike and continued westward. I’d planned on jumping off the toll road after we got past Elgin, but before we got to Elgin there was another toll booth and another long line to suffer thru. At that point I said that’s enough of that and we got off at the next exit and headed South a couple miles until we hooked up with routes 20 & 72 West. From that point on the ride became enjoyable again and more rural the further West we traveled.

Our next stop was in Genoa Il. It was warm there, high 80’s and you could smell rain, but we’d yet to see any. We talked to a guy at the gas station who suggested we hang around town and check out the races and fireworks at the track later that night and if we’d had a couple extra days to burn I’d probably took him up on his suggestion. As it was time was going to be an issue so we thanked him for the info and headed onward towards the far reaches of Illinois and Wisconsin.

As we went thru one small town later in the afternoon we did get rained on for a couple minutes, but not even enough to consider getting out the rain gear. Out in Western Illinois the roads were mostly good and got
hilly as we got closer to the Mississippi, making for an enjoyable cruise. We took a break before we reached the Wisconsin border in a small town called Pearl City. Got a drink and a candy bar and shot a couple pics, including this one of "downtown" Pearl City.

Once we passed the Welcome to Wisconsin sign and entered the land of cheese we were within an hour of our destination, Platteville. Only problem was that there was a detour on route 11, due to a bridge being out for repairs and the ensuing detour took us about 30 miles out of our way. Pretty irritating when we're that close to the destination to have to add miles to the trip, but what are you going to do? We had to stop in Darlington Wi, for fuel (they even had a race track there! :-O ) and then it was just a short run to Platteville from there.

It was just about 5:00pm when we pulled into the parking lot of the Super 8 Motel. We got a room and then went across the parking lot to Ed’s Diner for supper. Now generally it’s not a good idea to eat in a place that’s attached to a gas station, but ole Ed had his act together and I had an excellent steak with onions, mushrooms and melted cheese…(hey, it’s Wisconsin), mashed taters and finished the meal off with a big Chocolate malt made the old fashioned way. After our meal fit for highway ramblers, it was time to cruise out Northeast of town to the fabled “M”.

The weather was iffy at this point, looked like it could rain any minute and it was darker than it should’ve been for the time of the evening it was, but we soldiered on to the parking lot at the bottom of the mound. Thanks to the weather we pretty much had the place to ourselves. There was one other car present and the folks from it were already at the top, but otherwise, the hill was ours for the taking. On the way past the big farm at the bottom of the hill I’d noticed a late 40’s early 50’s Pontiac sticking out of one of the barn doors so before we hiked up to the summit I walked back down the road to the barn to get some pics of the classic old car / barn scene. Were I a wealthy man I’d have gone and knocked on the door to the house and asked if it was for sale, but being painfully aware of my current limitations I settled for a half dozen shots and then hiked back up to the park at the base of the mound.

The weather was getting more iffy (or is it iffier?), with lightning and thunder off in the distance, so we started up the steps to get in whatever time at the top we could before the weather got inhospitable. It took a couple rest stops to make it to the top, but once up there the view was as cool as I remembered it being 22 years ago. As far as you could see in every direction was a patchwork of farmland, dotted with homesteads that looked to be islands in a sea of various shades of green and gold. The folks already at the top were friendly and asked if I’d take a couple pics of them with the orange and red sunset sky behind them. I did that and then shot some of them for myself too with the sun breaking thru the clouds as a red ball just off the horizon. Lightning continued to flash off to the west of us as we chatted a bit and then as the sun disappeared they said goodbye and headed off back down the steps to the parking lot. We stayed on top for awhile longer, until it was pretty much as dark as it was going to get that night. When it started to spit rain we decided it was time to call it a day and headed down the stairs, fired up the bike and went back to the motel for the night. It wasn’t long after a hot shower that the lights went off and we headed for dreamland.

I don’t like to waste much time sleeping when I’m traveling…..I can sleep at home, so our wakeup call for Sunday morning was at 6am. I got the bike packed and got things ready while Chris tried to get the sleep out of his eyes. By 6:30am we were on the bike and headed back out to the “M” for a morning visit. The weather didn’t look much better in the morning than it did the night before, but when you’re only somewhere for a short while you just plug on ahead and hope for the best. We got to the parking lot and climbed the steps up to the top again and took in the view for awhile. We explored the South side a bit but there was a chance for quite a fall so we didn’t hang around there long. I shot a bunch of pics and then as we were about to come down I heard the clip clop of horses’ hooves and around the bend came an Amish buggy at a good clip. When we got back down to ground level several more buggies went by in procession, no doubt on their way to morning services.

We decided, once the buggies had disappeared down the road, to say goodbye to the “M” and head out for Dickeyville and The Grotto while the weather was still bearable. We took the new highway that went thru Platteville all the way to Dubuque Iowa and got to Dickeyville in about 10 minutes. The road was wet as we pulled into town and followed the signs to the Grotto. It started to spit rain as we parked the bike and headed into the grounds. We spent the next hour and a half taking pictures, wandering the grounds and dodging raindrops. After 22 years away I was impressed at how much I remembered about the placeand spent a fair amount of time looking for items that I’d photographed the 1st time I was there, that I wanted to shoot again. With the weather not being all that agreeable and our stomachs growling from lack of breakfast we decided to pack it in and head down the street to Valentines Restaurant for a farmer’s Style breakfast.

After a breakfast fit for a king (Dinner plate sized pancakes and a pile of hashbrowns) we waddled out to the bike, fired it up and headed for DuBuque Iowa. It had been raining while we were having breakfast but had pretty much stopped by the time we left Dickeyville. We made the short highway ride into DuBuque, going over the bridge spanning the Mississippi. We had no plans to stop anywhere, I just wanted to cross the river a couple times and add another state to our conquests so we headed south out of town on Route 52. I was hoping we'd have a view of the river from the road, but for the most part it was not to be. We made a fuel stop on the outskirts of Bellevue IA and then cruised thru old downtown, where mainstreet ran alongside the river. We parked the bike and walked around for awhile, checked out the sights and watched a tugboat go up river thru one of the locks. We'd pulled into town just about the time that their 4th of July parade was coming to an end and remanents of the parade were leaving downtown as we strolled around. One of those remenants was a old Model A with a bunch of folks in it dressed up to be the Beverly Hillbillies and as they came down the street I got out in the middle of the road and shot a couple frames of them as they went on by. I'll bet the whole parade woulda been a good time with participants like those folks


With threatening skies overhead we decided to jump back on the bike and continue on along the river. We suffered thru some rain as we rode South but it never got bad enough to stop and put on the raingear. When we got to the junction of 52 and 64 we decided to jump over the river back into Illnois and take 84 south. so that decision made we headed thru the little riverside town of Sabula. I couldn't help but wonder as we cruised thru a half dozen streets if anybody from Sabula had even been to Grand Haven. When we made the turn East to head over the bridge we both kinda made a "yikes" sound as we saw what we'd have to drive over. It was a blue bridge, a tall bridge and a skinny bridge, all of which would've been no problem had it not been for the fact that this old bridge's roadway was entirely steel grating. NOT my favorite surface to ride on but at that point we were committed to make the crossing so up, up and over we a whopping 25mph as I tried to keep the back end and the front end of the bike pointed in the same direction. We managed to make it to the other side without incident, to be welcomed by a "Welcome to Illinois" sign and decided right then was a damn fine time for a break. So we parked the bike and took a breather while I took some shots of this bridge, built in the early '30's by the people that made up the commuities of the area. I took a pic of the plaque posted at the entrance, but I don't think it's readable at the size I'd post here so here's what it said.....

"The loyalty and courage of the people in the communitites along the "shortened route", which has been created by this river crossing, are the things which have made this structure possible. Realizing the neccessity of providing more adequate transportation facilities to keep up with the ever increasing demand of traffic and desiring to stimulate even futher commercial intercourse between the states of Iowa and Illinois, as well as to provide for the comfort and convenience of the motor traveling public, the citizens of the communities along this route have banded together in a common effort to turn their dreams into a physical reality. With boundless faith and unlimited courage they have carried on thru every hazard, meeting each rebuke with renewed energy and increased determination to win. The physical results of their efforts are here before you in these bridges and connecting highways. the less tangible results of promoting the common welfare can only be measured in the years of service ahead. To these, the communites along the new route between Chicago and Cedar Rapids, we dedicate this bridge". (Dated December 1, 1932). I could close my eyes after reading that and see model A's coming up and over that bridge on their way to Chicago or Cedar Rapids and thinking nothing about a couple of goofballs on a motorcycle 70 years later. When built that bridge must've been quite the structure. I'm almost surprised it hasn't been condemned and closed by today's standards. At any rate if I'm ever out that way on the bike again I do believe we'll take another bridge across the mighty Mississippi. Steel grating and rain ain't the best combo for safe traveling on two wheels, especially over a big ole river.

After we'd caught our breath we got back on the bike and continued South towards US 80. We made a couple other stops before getting to 80, not really being in a hurry to get anywhere at that point and knowing we would be sleeping somewhere along US 80 in Illinois for our last night out. Once we got going East on 80 the "trip's over lets go on home" mentality set in and we tried to cover some ground before the end of the day. About 6:00pm we reached Ottawa Illinois and decided that was as good a place to stop for the night as any so we pulled off the freeway and into the parking lot of the Super 8 motel. We got a room, got directions to a good place to have dinner and found it with no problem. After dinner we just headed back to the room and kicked back for the rest of the evening. We had about 4 to 5 hours of road time left to get home the next day so we cut ourselves some slack and had the wakeup call come in at 7:00am.

When the phone rang the next morning I jumped up and started to get things around. We got the bags battened down on the bike one last time and then at Chris' request had breakfast at the Dunkin' Donuts. After ingesting the sugar buzz materials purchased there we got on the bike and put the hammer down. Not much to see between Ottawa Illinois and the Michigan state line so, except for a fuel stop, we hauled butt until we got to the Welcome to Michigan rest area. It was also about that time that the skies opened up and finally decided to rain on us in a serious fashion. So we put the rain gear on and headed for home. We arrived in South Haven, minus the rain that we'd left behind, about lunch time and after one last fuel stop we hit the local Wendy's for lunch. After wolfing down Wendy's version of a Taco salad we got back on the bike for the final hour's worth of ride and pulled into the driveway just about 2:30pm. Total miles for this trip were somewhat less than our first journey to Virginia, but we did 910 miles in 4 days and saw some interesting stuff. It'll probably be the last bike trip for this year cuz there's too many other things that need to be taken care of now that it's July already and none of my chores for June got taken care any rate it was an enloyable ride and I'm looking forward to the next time, whenever that may be........stay tuned.

For all the pics of the whole trip click HERE.