Thursday, June 25, 2009

AK '09 - Day 5

When I awoke this morning I was still stuffed from last night's Chinese buffet and I really didn't get a good night's sleep either. I jumped in the shower and then quickly packed things up. I'm starting to get a rhythm to my morning routine. I just have to watch my time on the laptop.

I finally rode out of the parking lot at 7:30. The gps led me down local streets giving me a taste of what the locals see on a daily basis. The temperature was in the low 70s and traffic was moderate for the time of day. I was slipping out of Knoxville without touching the interstate. I rode through Oak Ridge, Oliver Springs, Wartburg and Livingston. Initially the roads were really twisty with exciting elevation changes. I was laughing at one point because the speed limit was 55mph and I was happy to be doing 45mph. I continued on through Celina and Moss (they build log cabins there) and crossed into Kentucky on a small little farm road. There wasn't even a state line sign. I was surprised to find Kentucky to have so many pastures, I always thought of Kentucky as being a much more hilly state.

I rode through Scottsville toward Bowling Green. The gps routed me around Bowling Green through Russelville. The farther west I went, the bigger the roads were getting. At first I was on little 2 lane roads, and now I was on a parkway. The temperature had been rising too since I'd gotten out of the mountainous area around Knoxville.

Finally I find myself in Indianna near Evansville. I didn't know I was going to Idianna today??? There I picked up I-164 which then took me to I-64. I rode across the rest of Indianna and all of Illinois on I-64 with the exception of a 20 mile segment where I had to avoid a 5 mile backup due to road construction. It's great to have a CB so you can ask the truckers how far a backup is around posted road construction.

My only gas stop for the day was on I-64 about 300 miles into the day. When I got back to the bike after going inside, the thermometer on my handlebar reported 117 in the sun. Yikes! I opted to eat my Cliff bar in the shade. Then I adjusted the pressure in the tires (I had aired them down yesterday for better traction). It's great to have the tire pressure monitor so I know just how much to add regardless of cold or hot tire temps.

I made it into St. Louis around 4pm. I was finally back in the Central Time zone. It helped that I gained the hour back since I got a slow start this morning. Once in town I went over to the BMW dealership to get rear brake pads (just in case) and a new alternator belt (forgot to bring my old one along). Hopefully I won't need either of these items on the trip but if I do, I'll have them. After talking to the parts guys I decided it would be OK to ride over to the monument instead of taking a taxi so I went back to the river and parked right along the river.

I went into the monumet and rode the tram to the top. While I was at the top I could look down and see my bike. Some dude was checking out the cases while I was watching him from 600 feet above. I snapped some photos and then came back down. I checked out the movie detailing the construction of the arch and I looked around the museum. I wasn't really interested in the whole Western Expansion theme but that's what the Arch is supposed to be a monument to. I was a little annoyed that everything seemed to cost and they only gave $3 off on the tram ride up because I had my annual park pass. This place it probably the most commercialized national parks location I've been to yet. I'll come back with someone who hasn't been here yet, but I won't return by myself. It's just doesn't excite me that much.

After the monument I rode back up to the north side where I found my motel and checked in. There wasn't anything but Taco Bell within walking distance so I had to get back on the bike and ride down the road looking for something to eat. I found a Picadelly cafeteria, I figured that would work since I had just been thinking about my grandmother only moments before seeing the cafeteria. That's where we always went when I was a little boy.

Being on the road for 5 days, it was time to do a little house cleaning. I put on a few stickers and cleared out some trash. I should probably find a post office in the next day or 2 and send some T-shirts home along with a pair of socks. My coconut socks are working well and when I get done in the evenings my after-riding shoes are comfortable without socks.

Planning to get an early start in the morning. Hope to be on the road by 6am. It's going to be hot tomorrow and I don't have any interstate on the route. It's all country roads and state highways following the Mississippi. Look out La Crosse, WI. I'm coming to your town.

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