For me, it is about the trip, and the natural and human history along the way. To quote Earnest Hemingway: “It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” So it is a compromise between making reasonable time and distance and seeing and learning as much as possible along the way. Interstates are no fun, so I minimize “slab” travel as much as possible. The best are the two lane scenic byways usually marked on state maps. 400 miles is about 6 hours in the saddle, and that allows time for a travel diversion, or one extended visit of a special sight along the way. And I am a sucker for every historical marker along the way, so I am glad Boxxer has good brakes.
Special, during my second day out, was a short tour along the Mississippi River on my way to the Mississippi Palisades State Park. The river was at its banks from all the rain over its eastern watershed. The riverboat in the photo had plenty of water for its journey.
The Palisades are high limestone bluffs along the river on which the state park was placed, except the campground was at the base near a slough and the mosquitoes and biting gnats were terrible. I compared the viciousness of our gnats versus European midges with a young English couple in the next campsite over. The two of them were traveling to Yellowstone on a BMW 650, which is about half the size of Boxxer—with all their gear! Still asleep the following morning as I left, I revved my engine next to their tent; they will never get to Yellowstone on that time schedule.
The bridge in the background of the last photo crosses the Mississippi at Savanna, IL; it is the one I used. I read an Internet article recently about the “seven scarcest bridges in the country.” I don’t remember the rest, but one was the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel. There are a couple of guys who actually make a living driving commuters’ cars back and forth on the bridge while the commuter sits in the back seat with his/her eyes closed. The story was not written from a motorcyclist’s perspective, if it were, this Mississippi bridge would have been one of the seven.
Probably built 75 years ago, it was hardly wide enough for two cars to pass. Most of these old bridges at least have a steel guardrail like the ones around the curves of high banks on most roads. This one had a wooden rail that looked like a 2×12, and it looked kind of rotten besides. I usually just put my head down and look at the lane in front of my wheel, except the floor of the bridge was made of steel slats with the river visible through it hundreds of feet below. Talk about a “Shovel Ready Project”! Happy to roll off the bridge into Iowa; 7:30 am and a beautiful day!