Driving through St. Louis is not for the faint of heart. Lanes colliding, cars merging, people not paying attention to what is going on around them – it is a potentially deadly mess.
Now try doing it on a motorcycle. Trust me, it is an experience I could do without, but I recently had to do it twice.
I had the, ahem, pleasure of riding through St. Louis on my motorcycle as part of a trip I had been planning for months. The idea was to ride my Harley from Rockford to Arizona to visit my father for my birthday.
Yes, it was a lot of riding. I left on Friday, April 19 and got home on Friday, April 26. In that time, I rode in or through seven states and covered 4,519 miles. And I did it alone.
Crazy? Not really. The only time I felt I was taking my life into my own hands was riding through St. Louis. What a mess.
I left home wearing heated gear and ready to put on rain gear at any minute because of threatening skies. It was a pretty chilly ride through Missouri. By the middle of the next day I had reached Texas and enjoyed the sun the rest of my trip.
Seriously, I rode that many miles and never once had rain. That is almost unheard of, my friends. I know people who go on long-planned motorcycle trips and get rained on every day. I was very fortunate.
As I anticipated, riding across the beautiful, wide open expanses of New Mexico and my home state of Arizona was breathtaking. There is something about that wind-swept, sunbaked land that I find magical.
As traffic was pretty sparse on the hot highways in rural New Mexico and Arizona, I was alone with my thoughts and the rumble of my pipes. If you don’t like what is going on in your own head, this is not something you would like. If, like me, you enjoy a deep dive into your psyche, you would have enjoyed it.
Riding through lovely New Mexico, my nose was burned to a nice, crisp red thanks for my neglecting to coat it in sun block. But I barely noticed as the wind rushed past my face and I tried to not eat bugs through my smile.
I had a wonderful visit with my dad, the real reason for the trip. I also got to see both of my brothers and two of my nephews. There is nothing like family.
I also took a side trip to the Salton Sea in California. If you don’t know much about it, please Google it. It is such a strange and scary and smelly and cool place.
The trip back was expected to be leisurely, but then that famous Illinois weather intervened. As I rolled into Amarillo, Texas on April 25, my wife informed me that the rain expected for April 27 was now going to be snow. So that meant I could do a very long day of riding on Friday to get home before the snow, or wait until Sunday. Guess what I did?
That’s right, I rode more than 1,050 miles on Friday to get home. It took me 17 hours and I rode through the panhandle of Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri (including St. Louis – again!) and finally to the top of Illinois.
Crazy? Maybe. Fun? Definitely.
It was a trip that took just a week, but it will be with me forever. I can’t wait for the next one.