Some of you may know and some of you may not – there is a bit of work that goes into getting ready to live on a bike for 30 hours (and even more, when it’s longer). You make sure you’re fluids are golden, your packing list is slim and all-inclusive of the absolutely necessities, and you’re ready to roll when the sun begins to greet you! For my very first trip of considerable length, I feel comfortable picking up and heading about anywhere on my own. Besides, I always have Mama on speed-dial!
On Saturday, at 6:30a, it was time to leave Monroe behind. Taking 163 from Monroe to Fairfield has to be one of my new favorite roads! It’s four lanes, pretty darned smooth, and little traffic! It continues to only get better as you press onto Burlington with some great elevations and unbelievable views of the green hills of Iowa. After a break to stretch (my palms were tingly) in Fairfield, I didn’t stop again until I crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois.
From there, I headed to Lomax, where I encountered my first water snake crossing the highway – wow. It was reassuring to know that my instincts on a motorcycle are different than standing on the ground – I didn’t immediately dance and sprint in any direction away from the snake, while screaming at the top of my lungs.
In Lomax, there is a sight you couldn’t miss if you tried: The Pink. Of no offense to the business, I assumed by looking at the outside, there may be a few polished poles on the inside. Much to my surprise, you walk into a small-town tavern where the locals are still enjoying their coffee. Harold Ravenscraft is one of the owners. It all began in 1889, when it was a mercantile. In 1965, Harold was in the service, while his parents were running it. Business was good, considering you could only get beer in Iowa, but if you crossed the Mississippi, you could get your liquor and whiskey drinks on ice! I highly recommend stopping in to check it out!
From Lomax to Nauvoo, you’re alongside the busy train tracks the entire way, with small towns sprinkled every 6 – 12 miles. As you go through Dallas City, watch for a sign that points you closer to the river to Ike’s. Ike’s has food and drink, with an awesome outdoor section. There are tables and umbrellas all over, so you can catch a live band on their outdoor stage. If you look opposite the stage, you’ll see you can walk right on out to the water. Craig’s owned Ike’s for almost three years now, and is always happy to sit down and talk with the customers. He bought it from Ike, who got it going and set to retire, so it’s now his retirement project!
Once you reach it, you’ll get why Nauvoo is a Hebrew word for “beautiful place” or “pleasant land”. Along highway 96, you’ll reach the Nauvoo State Park. This is right along the Mississippi River and is a tourist must-see! The Mormons were the start of it all in the 1840s, with a house built that is now the Museum. As you stroll through, you’ll see the historic blacksmith shop, printing room, and many others.
Staying in Burlongton for the night, I headed out for a bite at Gator’s, which has GREAT food! Then, to downtown, on Jefferson Street. Snake Alley is something my bike had never been on – once I realized there was a wedding photo shoot going on, I thought it may be funny to crash a shoot. Little did I expect, the bride to be so excited and ask if she could take some of her pictures on it – OF COURSE! Miranda was the bride’s name and she referenced her grandfather and riding his motorcycles. I am watching Forever and Ever Photography, to see the final shots!
When you start at 6:30a, on a very hot and sunny day, you’re crispy and tired early. So, I was asleep well before 9p,and ready to head back in the morning. Once I pulled into my driveway, I was ready for a stiff drink, but settled for a nap!
After breaking myself in for longer hauls, I am planning a BIG adventure in a couple weekends!!!
May your ride be smooth, and your drinks stiff! Cheers!