Day 25 – Sweet Home, Chicago
Date: 06/26/2016 Sunday
Starting Location: Crandon, WI
Ending Location: Naperville, IL
Starting Odometer: 11964
Ending Odometer: 12,288
Mileage Today: 324.5 Miles
Mileage Total: 5435.1 miles
Today’s MPG: 39 mpg
Total Average MPG: 41 mpg
Saying good-bye to Crandon
You’ll recall from yesterday’s brief strategy session, I decided to get up early, and take advantage of the lack of rain in the forecast for the morning in Crandon, and try to arrive in Chicago, before the rains that were expected to arrive in the afternoon.
So, I was up at 5AM, loading the bike at 5:45, and fueled up and on the road by 6:15. The early start proved to be a bit ominous as there was a good deal of fog ,and the roads were wet after the rain from last night. Nevertheless, I rode on, managing to stay ahead of the rains in Crandon.
The basic route for today was go head South, all the way until I hit Chicago, and then head West into the suburbs. The total mileage was scheduled to be 332.6 miles, but the computer rerouted me off of the interstate, and while it took a few minutes longer, the route was about 8 miles shorter in distance.
Bear left at the black thing in the road
If you look at that route closely, you’ll see a paw print that I’ve added to the map as an indicator. an indicator of what, you might ask. Well now, that’s where things get interesting.
I’ve been really enjoying the wildlife sightings that I’ve been able to experience, or even capture on video since I’ve left California. I’ve been only a few feet away from Wild Bison crossing the road, Pronghorn Antelope, hanging out in the road, and even a Big Horn Sheep, making a statement in the road. In all cases, I was riding the bike, and I managed to come within a few feet of these magnificent animals.
Today was just a little different. At the point marked on the map above, and more clearly detailed on the map below, I came around a turn and the road opened up to a straight that was about 3/4 mile long. As I rolled on the throttle, I saw a rather large black thing scamper across the road. As I would come to know only 2 second later, that black thing was a bear.
After he crossed the road, he stopped on the other side, just before entering the woods. I slowed down, and thought about stopping to get a picture, but when I went through the inventory of the steps necessary to take a picture, and how vulnerable I would be while doing all of those steps, I decided to roll on the throttle, and head on towards Chicago-land.
This photo is from Google Images, but after looking through all of the photos of Black Bears, This one seemed to capture the essence of what I saw, and what I was feeling.
You may recall that I tried to enter the wildlife park called “Bear Country” but was turned away by the gate keepers because, as they said at the time, “You can’t ride in or on a vehicle that does not have a top. it is too dangerous”. So, as I contemplated taking the picture, that message seemed to provide me with just enough information to make a sound decision. Since I still did not have a roof on my vehicle, i would skip this wildlife adventure, and move on towards my ultimate destination.
Ahhhh, the rain
As I continued towards Chicago, it seemed that i was always riding through dark clouds, which always looked like they were about to open up and start raining. In my head, I had vowed to keep riding until the rains started, and at that point, i would stop for coffee and a proper breakfast while I waited for the rains to subside.
But, I rode and rode and the rains never came. So, by the time I had ridden straight through to 265 mile point without stopping for anything at all, and with about 75 miles to go, the skies had gotten very dark, and I could feel the moisture in the air. Since i was at a truck stop, and I was running low on fuel, I decided to stop for breakfast.
After what seemed like two eternities, I finished with breakfast, and got back on the bike. Once again my timing was perfect (AKA lucky) and the day became closer and closer to a blue-sky day. I arrived at the hotel at 1:10 PM CST, and decided to enjoy a dip in the pool, and to get some laundry done, so that I’ve got something to wear to dinner tonight.
Toll Roads, Really, there are toll roads here?
Oh Yeh, I forgot to mention. As i was riding on I 294, all of the sudden I was forced to pay a toll. The toll was $1.50, and while it seems stupid to stop all of this traffic to pay a toll, I guess I understand that they need money to keep the roads serviceable. But, I had traveled about 5300 miles so far, and had not encountered a toll road anywhere. Now, I was forced to pay 2 tolls, within minutes of one another. It just seemed a bit out of place.
Don’t forget, when you’re on a bike, and you’re not prepared to pay a toll, then it becomes a bit of a project to pay the toll. Lots of opening and closing of bags, and removing and then putting on my gloves, and also stopping and restarting the engine.
Arghhh, what a pain in the neck.
Tonight’s reunion – We’re putting the band back together
I’m having dinner tonight with 2 very dear old friends, Dan and Mark. I met them in 1995 when I worked for Reuters, and was sent to Chicago to meet the folks at the help desk, to see if I wanted a role within the help desk management team.
The whole team in the Reuters Chicago office were warm and welcoming, and made me feel at home from the first moment I arrived. Over the 3 years that I worked there, I enjoyed great friendships, and great times.
And so it is with these fond memories that the three of us get together for dinner tonight. It should be fun, and I only hope that we can behave ourselves.
Mark and Dan arrived a little after 5PM, and we headed into downtown Naperville for dinner. We had a beer or two, and a great Italian dinner before we headed back to the hotel, and called it a night.
it was great to get caught up on our history together, some old friends, and everything in-between. I can’t wait for them to come and visit me in South Carolina.