This will be the last post on this site. I now have a dedicated domain at http://www.asphaltjourney.com. Update your bookmarks, and make sure to follow my ramblings on the new site!
My wife and I are tentatively planning on participating in Rolling Thunder 2012! We’ve never been, and so far, looks like we are able to get them time off of work. This is the 25th anniversary of this ride, and one we both have wanted to do for years. So, we’re looking forward to planning the ride over the winter months, and accompanying our riding friends on a journey that is sure to be emotional and spiritually fulfilling. For the 2011 ride, over 400,000 bikes participated. The goal for 2012 is 500,000 – 1,000,000 motorcyclists to attend this day of remembering those that served, and gave their lives so that each of us may enjoy the freedoms we have.
More information to come.
October usually brings around cool weather in Indiana, but the last few days has found temperatures exceeding 80 degrees in the afternoons. Not ones to pass up a riding opportunity, we jumped at the chance when our friends Jim and Kim invited us to accompany them to Nashville, Indiana, a ride down 135 South, and an extended return trip investigating the roads inside Brown County State Park.
The plans were to meet before 8AM at Keystone and 96th Street, which just happens to have a combined BP and McDonald’s establishment on the corner…a perfect chance to fuel both the bikes and ourselves before setting out. The morning temperatures weren’t bad…around 56 degrees, requiring a leather jacket and a layer underneath to stay plenty warm. Our trip to the rendezvous site was uneventful, with light traffic other than what appeared to be an overabundance of dump trucks moving around (most likely helping with all the road construction happening in the northern area of Indianapolis).
We arrived literally less than a minute before Jim and Kim, and breakfast for both the motorcycles and ourselves proceeded uneventfully. We decided to mount the bikes, and take them around the west side of Indianapolis to reach our exit from the metropolitan area and head southward.
What expected to be a day of leisure riding quickly turned into a near disaster as we exited the construction zone on I-465 near the old airport when traffic in front of quickly slammed on their brakes, as a lane of traffic suddenly ended and a bad accident miles ahead had caused traffic to stop on the other side of a hill. One driver in a beat up car nearly took out J&K, who took some serious evasion action to keep from getting ran over. Coming to a stop, we pulled up next to them to ensure their sanity was still in place, and we decided to exit on IN-67 South. Up ahead, cars were backing down the interstate in the break down lane, turning around against traffic, and taking the interstate on-ramp in the wrong direction on the other side of the cement barrier that separated us from them. We gleefully laughed when we realized Indiana State Troopers were at the bottom of the ramp giving tickets to the wrong-way drivers.
We proceeded south, and cut over to IN-37 South, which took us over to IN-252, which we took eastward again. That’s a nice ride. Reaching 135 South, we took it southward into Nashville. After finding a place to park in a town that must have had tens of thousands of shoppers fighting for parking spaces, we donned our walking shoes, and did some shopping for a couple of hours.
By this time, lunch was on the menu, and instead of standing in very long lines in Nashville, J&K recommended a small “hole-in-the-wall” eatery way out on 58. Knowing this would take us on one of the curviest, best riding roads in Indiana (135 South, south of Nashville), we happily followed them for the 40 minute jaunt to the eatery. If you haven’t rode this area on a motorcycle, you don’t know what you are missing.
The 58 Cafe, in Kurtz, Indiana, is way out in the middle of nowhere. An enjoyable ride through hundreds of curves brought us to the restaurant. It’s a small place, hurt by the economy as the sign on the door said so…and they had reduced days open to Friday through Sunday only. Going in, we found the traditional small inside feel, with big tables placed haphazardly around. Regulars sat in the place eating a sandwich or sipping on coffee, and we took a table to the rear. The walls are decorated with motorcycle memorabilia pictures, some which Jim and I both also have in our own homes.
Food was hit or miss. Bonnie and I both got the breaded tenderloin, a sandwich so big we could have easily split one instead of ordering our own. We both really enjoyed the sandwich, which was hand breaded and not just a reheated fritter. The fries were good…but the coleslaw that comes with the sandwich basket wasn’t the coldest, which would have favored the taste buds better if it had been.
Jim got the cheeseburger on special, and Kim ordered some kind of pork burger. Both were not impressed with their food, and stated that they wouldn’t order them again. However, both have had the tenderloin in the past, and will gladly visit the diner again to order one of the gigantic sandwiches in the future.
After eating and letting the food digest a little, we proceeded back the way we came, to find a Sunday driver who apparently was deathly afraid of curves in their mini-van. Much of the way back was completed in speeds half of the posted signage, but on a beautiful day like this was, we weren’t complaining at all. Our plan was to visit Brown County State Park next…which turned out to be the same plans that thousands of other Hoosiers and neighboring state visitors had planned as well.
We pulled into the main driveway into the Park, and immediately performed the acts of balancing the motorcycles as the line inched forward at 1 MPH….or we sat and gave our thighs a nice roasting from the heat of the engines that had been run for the previous hour with lots of gear changes through the curves behind said slow mini-van. Once into the park, we could see that many others had planned for a day there, and traffic was heavy throughout our visit.
The leaves had started turning, but the best viewing will probably be next weekend or the weekend after that. There was still quite a bit of green to be seen, but the color we did see looked very nice in offset. We may return for another visit…or, we may just ride somewhere else where traffic is light as others flock to Brown County.
Seemed like at a number of stops, we seemed to capture each other as Bonnie was using her camera skills to get better pictures than what my iPhone was going to capture…and Jim had brought a tripod to get some good pictures as well, and to get some decent group pictures (not available yet).
Finally looking at our watch for the first time this day, we saw that the time was 5:15PM…time to start heading home as we wanted to ensure some rest before our return ride to Wolf Park tomorrow. A quick shoot over to the interstate, a top-off the fuel tanks, and we headed home. Tomorrow, we’ll be leading a larger group of people on a nearly identical ride that we need several weeks ago with two other couples. The only change is we plan to also stop at the Tippecanoe Battlefield Memorial, so we are looking forward to this trip.
We seemed to have struck up some interest regarding a ride to Wolf Park in Battle Ground, IN after a few people heard about the ride we did up there several weeks ago. Bonnie and I are willing to “lead” another ride up that way for those that may be interested in another day out on the motorcycle before the weather gets really cold. We’ve done a lot of riding this year with some new good friends, been taken to some great destinations by great road leaders; so we figured why not invite people to putt along behind us for a change? Also, this is more of a “breakfast” style eatery stop instead of lunch, but they serve everything 24 hours a day on the menu, so you can still try their world-famous chopped steak burgers.
Here is what have thrown together:
8:15AM, Sunday, October 9th – Ride meeting at Northside Harley’s parking lot. Plan on arriving there before this time to meet and greet other riders.
8:30AM – Kick stands-up (be fueled up already, body and motorcycles. Might want to eat light…the breakfast stop is worth arriving hungry for). The route (listed below) isn’t too bad with stop lights or signs until we get to Lafayette, which has notoriously short stop lights, and hard to find places to pull over. If anybody is comfortable with the route, would like to have them scattered throughout the group if it’s big so we can all find our way to breakfast.
10:00AM – Arrive at Triple XXX in West Lafayette. They have the best breakfast in a restaurant I’ve ever had, and was a great hit for all of us on the last visit. My recommendation? Biscuits and Gravy…some of the best you’ll ever eat. A couple of eggs on the side, and it’s a meal filling up anybody. It’s a very popular eatery on the edge of Purdue’s campus, so expect a wait when we get there for seating. They have a serpentine counter to sit at, we’ll get seated in small groups, probably not right next to each other. I suggest pairing up or no more than four in a “must sit together” group, any more than that, your wait is longer. People are really friendly in there, you’ll get to talk at length with other diners (mostly students), and the wait staff. Plenty of breakfast and lunch items, you won’t leave hungry.
There’s a small gas station across the street, if anybody needs fuel, they can get it there while waiting for others to get ready to leave. If you still have 10 miles left in your tank, I’d rather have a group stop at a very large gas station on the way to our first sightseeing stop if everybody has enough gas to get there (for you Sportster riders!)
11:45AM – Kick stands up again. We’ll wait until everybody is done eating of course, so this time may vary.
12:30PM (no large gas station stop) or 12:50PM (with gas station stop) – Arrive at Tippecanoe Battlefield Park and Memorial. The Battle of Tippecanoe happened nearby, where General Harrison fought Tecumseh’s Native American Confederation. It’s a unique place, much like what we saw on the Annie Oakley grave ride some of us did a month or so ago. We won’t be there long, since we have to get to our next stop.
1:30PM or so – Arrive at Wolf Park (it’s about five minutes from the memorial). Read all about their offerings here: Wolf Park There should be a lecture starting about this time (they run every 30 minutes or so, hard to time it right, so we may get in mid-way). No problem though, they talk about wolves non-stop, so you’ll be able to get what you miss if we aren’t there at the start. Admission is $8 for ages 14 and older, $5 for kids 6-13. Money goes to the organization to keep the park running.
2:00PM – Wolf/Bison interaction begins. You’ll get to see both groups interacting with each other. Nature takes over, and you may get to see the wolves “try” to get a bison. Amazing to watch the bison “defend” their groups. In a 45-minute session last visit, 40 minutes was watching and listening to the guides talk. For a few minutes though, it got really interesting. No guarantees on what happens. Don’t plan to see anything gory though, it’s not happened in all the interactions they’ve done, since the bison are able to easily defend their young, even after a wolf grabs them. The interaction only occurs on Sundays…and this will be a Sunday of course. On the way back there, you’ll pass other animals they’ve rescued, including coyotes, and some others.
3:00PM – Wolf feeding. We left before watching this the last time due to incoming heavy rain. They feed the wolves road-killed deer, they may or may not eat. If you may be squeamish, you can always break away and check out their gift shop. Bring extra money…they have a lot of neat stuff in there, at very nice prices.
Wolf Park – Bathrooms are available…as Portapotties. If you need a real restroom, go before arriving. Also, just so it’s on the record….Wolf Park is located about 1/2 mile down a gravel road. The road has some potholes and washboard, but it’s easily ride-able. I can’t stand riding on the stuff myself, but I didn’t have any problem before, and the pucker factor was low as long as you kept the eyes in front of you watching our for the potholes. Also, you will literally be inches away from wolves, so bring your cameras. They encourage photography of everything that happens, and you’ll definitely have many chances for close-ups. The people group is protected by fencing, so they won’t come after you (our Bills or Chip maybe, but that’s only because they’ll want to climb the fence to go play with the wolves…actually, they are very tame, yet somewhat skittish and take off if you make sudden movements…ETA: I meant the wolves being skittish, not our riding friends). Also, there is a little walking in fields and gravel lanes while going on the tour of the park. If your boots give you problems, bring sneakers.
Route – I’m planning on this route (due to construction on 421 into Frankfort): Leave dealership, turn right on Keystone. Stay on this until IN-32, turn west (left). Take 32 until US-421, turn right (north). Stay on 421 until IN-47, turn left (west). Go to US-52, turn right.Go into Lafayette, turn left (west) on Main Street (that’s where IN-38 starts going east). This will bring you to five points stop light, where we go straight through and catch IN-26 West. Follow this through downtown, go over the river, and into West Lafayette. Less than a mile on the other side of the river, keep an eye out in front of you on the right side of the road, and look for this building:
Parking is unique. You turn off of the main road onto a one-way road, right, in front of this picture. There’s parking under the awning behind the restaurant, in a small lot across the street behind the building, and along the street. Expect a lot of students standing around in the rear waiting for their turn to get in (just give it some throttle and run them over if they don’t get out-of-the-way). Service is quick, so we’ll all not have too bad of a wait.
You can see the small gas station awning on the left side of the picture.Anyways, I’ll print out maps for the ride meeting, and hopefully we can find a few people who know their way to the restaurant and we’ll place them intermittently in the group. From there, we’ll swing over to IN-43, and head north to gas (if needed), the memorial, and Wolf Park. I’ll include directions on the map as well.
I figure people can drift homewards whenever they want. Bonnie and I will stay as long as need be, and more than happy to lead any size group back into Indy, I’m thinking around 4PM or afterwards. We’ve been known to stop at IN-47 and US-52 for an on the way back for an ice cream too, good place to say “see ya soon’s” to everybody 🙂
Yes, this was a long posting. You all know once I start writing, I don’t quit. Just wanted to give everybody my thoughts, in case anybody is interested in riding along. If you are interested in going, or know others that will once you invite them, TELL ME. I’d like to give Wolf Park an idea of a head count before we all arrive. Send me an email (click my Profile link on this blog near my bike/me picture), or simply post in the Facebook wall posting I have going.
One more thing: MY DISCLAIMER : I’m not organizing anything. I’m not assuming liability for anything. You ride at your own risk, not mine. We are going for a ride, and glad to have anybody else along that happens to be going the same way. This is NOT a HOG group ride…anybody on two wheels wants to go, feel free to bring them along. If you get bitten or eaten by a wolf (Chip), make sure you have enough money in life insurance already 🙂
Hope to see you there for a great Sunday. Oh, weather is currently planned for 70 degrees, sunny, and no chance of rain. I’m not guaranteeing that though…but this will be a rain or shine event unless weather the night before is projecting severe weather. It rained on us last time, and we still had a blast. Just keep an eye here and on FB for any updates.
This weekend we have a ride scheduled with the local HOG group to tour the covered bridges on the east side of the state. I believe there are five still in existence, so looking forward to seeing them in person. The western side of Indiana has quite a few more covered bridges, somewhere around 31 still standing. There’s a ride scheduled for later in October, just when the optimal leaf color changing is in full swing. Not sure if we’ll do that ride or not at this time, as we look to be leading two rides back up to Wolf Park since quite a few of our riding friends have expressed interest in doing that in the next several weeks.
Stay tuned…ride report to come (again) this weekend. Looking forward to it…long week at work writing standard operating procedures for an upcoming certification we’re doing; and already miss riding. With winter coming fast, I’m sure we are going to get the winter blues and spring fever pretty strong soon.
ETA: Sorry, no pictures today. Weather was not cooperating, and I am not interested in purchasing a more water-resistant camera at this time. So, words will have to suffice for this ride report.
As posted on Saturday night from the Evansville hotel, the forecast for Sunday was 80% chance of rain; one weather forecast specifically stated 80% chance of thunderstorms, which did not abode well for any of the riders that evening. We resolved to just see what the weather was when we all awoke, and make a determination of what to do with the ride at that time.
Sunday morning came early for Bonnie and I, 5AM. We proceeded down to the lobby to find that food was being placed out for the guests, but our first goal was to acquire the needed morning java to get the senses awakened. Taking our paper cups outside, we discovered that the rain had reappeared in the middle of the night, and was steadily wetting our motorcycles. Somewhat depressed, we opened up the radar apps on our phone, to discover a storm was coming in, and reaching back into Missouri. Watching the time-lapse for the direction of the rain, we saw that the direction of the storm was going to loop all the way into the Indianapolis area.
Heading back to the room, we literally scared Shiz as she came off the elevator in search of coffee for John and herself. Once acquired, we retreated to the room to find John pretty much ready to go for the day, and looking forward to breakfast. The two of them went back downstairs in search of body fuel, while Bonnie and I readied ourselves for the day. Eventually we headed back downstairs to the dining area in search of hot foods, to discover that the closest we would get to homemade eggs and bacon was to throw a refrigerated Jimmy Dean’s breakfast sandwich into the microwave. It actually was not too awful in taste, and allowed us to continue pumping coffee and orange juice orally into our veins.
Kicks stands up was scheduled for 9AM our time, 8AM local. We lounged for a while in the room, then gathered our belongings to take out and strap to our bikes. The rain intensity had increased, but it was time to go and get back on the asphalt. Due to the weather conditions, it was decided that we would head back home as a group, as we had at least one newer rider with us, and the original route for the day would probably have caused both the newest rider, as well as some of the experienced riders, some problems. Leaves are falling in the area, and some of the roads previously picked were narrow and would be hazardous to navigate in such a large group in the current weather conditions.
Sometimes, as a group, it’s hard to get everybody ready to go on time. When it’s pouring down rain and you’re sitting on the bikes ready to go, people are actually antsy to get going. Rain gear will keep your dry, but the sound and feel of the rain hitting your helmet and body is slightly annoying, and you just want to get going for the day. The decision had been for us to go back north to I-64 East, and take that as a group to the US-231 exit where we would regroup and decide on how to get back home. The rain battered the group the entire way, causing some of the more cautious riders to fall back on the interstate and find their own comfortable paces to ride.
At the gas station at US-231, the decision was made to offer two choices to get back to the Indianapolis area. One would be to diagonally cut across the state, which was the shorter path back, but would require transit through a number of small towns and would require encountering unknown condition state highways. The other choice was to head back and use the interstate system the entire way…I-64 East to Louisville, I-265 around to I-65, and then head northwards. The group seemed to cut in half each way. We decided to go the interstate route, as even though it was a longer path, I knew that the roads were in above average shape.
We said our goodbyes to half the group, and our group left first out of the parking lot. We again encountered the rain on the super slab, and our ride leader wisely chose to keep speeds low to guarantee that the group stayed close together. Traffic passed on our left going just slightly faster, as even the “cagers” seemed to be wary of the road and weather conditions due to the storm. The spray coming off the tires of passing semis was enough to cause gray-out conditions, so each rider moved over to the right to prevent being blinded by the additional volume of water.
The rain subsided outside of Louisville, and the sun actually started to peek out from behind the clouds for a few minutes until it was overwhelmed by the increasing cloud cover. We had outran the storm’s speed with our motorcycles, but we all knew that the direction of the storm would intersect with us again as we proceeded north. A stop just north of Louisville on I-65 allowed us all to fuel our gas tanks again, and we talked about choices for heading home. Some people (me included) were already hungry due to a lackluster breakfast, and decided to stay at the fuel station and get the offered McDonald’s or Subway fast food choices. Others wanted to proceed north, and stop in the Columbus area to visit the local Harley Davidson dealer there and find a sit-down restaurant. Still others wanted to proceed directly home, as we all knew that each of us would encounter the storm again.
We said our goodbyes again as our group again seemed to split in half, and Bonnie and I retired to the warmth and saltiness of a McDonald’s burger and fries. We ended up staying at the rest stop with John and Shiz, as well as Dan and Marci…the same people we had gone to the James Dean Festival with a couple of days before. Eventually, it was time to head out, and face the wrath of the storm that was waiting for us about forty miles north. The storm causes the rider to focus entirely on the road ahead, as gray out conditions make it hard to see others around you. Rain is collecting on the face shield of the helmet, spray is coming in under the shield, people in vehicles do not seem to care that they are driving inches away from you and still talking on their cell phones in the down pour, etc. It can be exhausting for the rider…and scary to the passenger who is sitting behind you, who has absolutely no control of the situation.
The storm opened up with a strong intensity, and did not subside until we exited I-65 to allow for one more fuel stop for Shiz’s Sportster (which has a smaller fuel tank, requiring more refilling opportunities). We said our goodbyes, proceeded north, and each of us parted ways as we came to exits we needed from I-465. The rain continued for the rest of the ride home. When home is just miles away after an exhausting ride, it is very tempting to give the bike more throttle so you can arrive earlier. However, you fight back the urge, knowing that a steady, safe pace is what will actually get you home in one piece. Pulling into the driveway, we gladly got out of our helmets and rain gear, and finally relaxed.
Our final small group made it home safely, and Facebook postings have abounded throughout the afternoon as our riders let the group know they were in their homes, warming up from the cold rain of the day. We didn’t get to do the planned route for day 2, but we will make sure to ride those roads in the future when better weather prevails.
It was a tiring day, filled with rain, strong breezes at times, and hard to see conditions. Not every ride can be in 80 degree sunshine, at least not for us. We ride because we love to do so…and what makes it so much better, is to enjoy a ride with friends. On days like today, being with friends is what it’s all about…and even though riding conditions suck, being with those that we love and care about on the open road makes it all worth it.