It was a restless sleep last night. After months and months of planning, I was down to the final few hours before I departed. I was excited no doubt but I also had a sense of dread that was weighing on my mind. What if I broke down or crashed? What about all that violence being reported in Mexico? And what about the weather! It was only two days ago that Chicago received another five inches of snow, hitting the 68 inch level for the season. So there I was, on Monday, with the snow thrower, adding to the already enormous white termite mounds next to the driveway. I didn’t think I’d ever get a break with warm temperatures to escape.
But escape I did under a crisp 34 degrees and a sunny blue sky. I had seven layers on top and three on the bottom (unless you count boxers: in that case the Ol’ Fellow had four layers) and prayed it was enough. But 20+ years on a snowmobile taught me something about staying warm in the elements so I was comfortable for the ride. It was bizarre riding the bike with snow stretching to the horizon in all directions. Along Interstate 55, the snow was curled over in huge drifts adjacent to the fence line, like a giant frozen tsunami. It was near Springfield, Illinois that the snow began to noticeably diminish and it was there that the temps broke into the 40s. At this point the sun became veiled under a thin haze. On my second fuel stop, I noted my thermometer needle on the bike was tickling the 60 mark. Now we’re talkin’! A nice change of pace compared to the 75 MPH blast at 38 F.
Approaching Missouri, I crossed the Mississippi River at Saint Louis, gave a nod of acknowledgement to the Gateway Arch and kept rolling. I have a long day of riding and I’m camping out tonight. Sunset is around 5:30 PM, and I didn’t want to set-up in the dark. I pulled into Meramec State Park at 5:00 and pitched the tent straight away. Needless to say, I have the pick of the litter – this place is empty. Sites are understandably a bit muddy and deer scat reigns supreme. And there’s WiFi throughout the site!