Friday, June 26, 2009

AK '09 - Day 6

When the alarm sounded at 5:29am I was nice andsound asleep. But I didn't have any problem waking up. My feet hit the floor and I was up, feeling rested and refreshed. I felt like it was going to be a great day. I got dressed and started carrying things out to the bike. When I looked under the bike cover I found a present waiting from me.

Yep, that's a banana, and when I saw it I immediately knew from where it came. Well sort of. The letters FYYFF are well known on the forums. So a fellow "in-mate" had left me a little gift. You can figure out what it stands for if you don't know already.  I need to get on ADV and post a thank you to the banana guy.

It was 6:04 by the time I started the bike and pulled out of the parking lot. Since there was no breakfast at the hotel yet I figured I'd just get something at the gas station since I also needed to fill up. A few miles later I was getting gas and  buying some cranberry juice to go with my Cliff bar. A quick call to Reagan to say good morning and then I was ready to go. I had a little apprehension because it was already 80 degrees and I wan't looking forward to a blistering hot day. But I hoped for the best and took off. Getting out of St. Louis required a lot of interstate riding eventually going west on I-70.

Once I got to Hwy 79 I left the interstate for the day. The plan was to follow the Mississippi river alternating sides as the roads dictated. I was hoping that staying close to the water would help to keep temps lower but I thought it might backfire and put me in a miserably humid ride. I'm certain that's what it would be like riding further south in Louisianna.

Hwy 79 took me to Louisianna, Missouri where it definitely wasn't hot or humid. I was enjoying temps in the low 80s and the closer I was to the water the nicer the temps. I followed 79 all the way to Hanibal, Mo where the road changed to N and then 168 and eventually Hwy 24. I then picked up Hwy 61 and continued north. At times I was close to the river and then I would be far enough away that I couldn't even tell there was a river nearby. When I got away for the river the temps rose but they stayed in the 80's so it was a nice morning.

I cut over on 136 and got back to the river at Alexandria and crossed to the east side at Keokuk, Mo. Hwy 96 put me on right on the eastern shore of the river. It was great! At Niota I crossed back over on Hwy 9 to pick up Hwy 61 again. I went through Burlington and kept heading north. I had seen so many Billboards for Burger King I thought I'd stop for lunch. This was a change from my norm but temps were still cool enough that I felt like I could enjoy a longer day. Of course, then Burger Kings seemed to disappear.

Hwy 61 took me away from the river for a while but finally brought me back at Muscatine, Ia and really got me close in Davenport. Since I was on a scenic byway it led me through the downtown area in several towns like Davenport. They seem to have a pretty good tourist area which might be a good stopping spot for a future trip with a River theme. At some point in Davenport 61 became 67, it kept me along the River but no Burger King. Through Princeton and still no BK. Clinton, Bingo! There was a BK just as I turned on to Hwy 30.

I stopped in for lunch and while I was there a gentleman asked me if I was going to Alaska. I told him yes and he asked where I was coming from. I said Texas and he asked if I knew where Alaska was. I assured him I knew and that I had first went down to Key West. He looked puzzled and then asked, "Florida?" "Yes", I said. And then explained that I was going from one coast to the other at the furtherest points. He still thought I was lost until I told him I was interested in following the Mississippi river for a few days and then it made since to him, sort of. I told him I was on the road for 5 weeks. Then he understood and thought it was pretty cool.

After lunch I got back on the road following the river on Hwy 52 and crossed over to the east shore at Sabula. By now I had crossed over so many times I really couldn't remember what state I was in. It was always a surprise when I came over the bridge.

Route 84 took me through Hanover on the east side and then onto a fun road that didn't have a speed limit  but had lots of twists and turns. I was having a good time until I caught up with the Galena police, so I backed it down and followed her into town. She never once used her radar, gotta love some of these small towns. I crossed back over to the west side at Dubuque and continued north on 52. Northern Iowa is really nice, it has rolling hills and corn fields as far as the eye can see. And it has some nice sweepers too. The diet Coke from lunch caught up with me so I stopped at a roadside park.

Interesting. There was one picnic table, a replica of a birdhouse and a porta-can. It was probably the cleanest porta-can I've stepped into in a long time. Yes, even cleaner than the porta-cans on the first day of the 3day before the walkers get to them.

After my break I had a hundred miles left and continued on up the road. I headed  east on Hwy 18 and crossed the River for the last time. Welcome to Wisconsin, not! Apparently they aren't too hip on welcoming people as there was no "Welcome sign". I turned north onto 35 and followed the river all the way into La Crosse where I had a room at the HoJo.

Check in was easy and it was only 5:15 when I called it quits for the day. While unloading the bike, I put it on the center stand and looked underneath. I found oil on the left valve cover. Hmmm, that explains the occasional burning oil smell that I was attributing to other vehicles. It looked like it's coming from the gasket around the spark plug opening so I figured I'd look at it after dinner.

I showered and headed to dinner. There was an upscale pizza place 2 blocks from the HoJo. The place was decorated pretentously and had a conflicting name, Edwardo's Pizza Wagon???? Prices seemed too high, and my waitress pretty much ignored me, otherwise I might have ordered a second beer. I'm pretty sure she forgot my pizza because other people got their orders before me but it came out hot enough to burn my mouth so I decided not to complain. On the positive side, since she ignored me it was easy to work on this blog.

I walked back to the HoJo and started working on the leak. It turns out I failed to put on the gasket that goes around the spark plug.

Luckily it was in the bottom of the head so I was able to put it back and button up the valve cover. No fuss no muss.

Since this is day 6 of the ride, and since there wasn't a line to use the washer and dryer I decided to go ahead and do laundry tonight. 30 minutes for wash, and another 30 for the drying and it's done. Everything is all packed up and ready to go in the morning. The next time I do laundry should be on the schedule with the rest of the guys. Although if I need to go a few days longer I can since I'll be ahead of them with fresh clothes on their day 4.

Uploading pics from day 5 and 6 seem to be taking forever but then again it may be due to the fact that I tried to take more photos.

Tomorrow, Fargo North Dakota via Lake Superior! 
Yes I know where Alaska is still.
Yes I know where Lake Superior and Fargo are....


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