Wednesday August 15th

Landed gently in St. Louis MO about an hour ago. Just long enough to take a shower and get a plate of nachos and 3 large glasses of water from the restaurant on the property.

It wasn't exactly that hot today, I just seemed to need more and more water. Can't get enough of the stuff right now. 

I allowed myself to sleep in this morning after last night's late arrival, and didn't hit the pavement until 10:45 CDT. I still managed to cover 615 miles and check in before 9 pm. I also took time at a couple of gas stops to catch up on some IM'ing with my lovely bride back in Seattle, as well as with Patrick and his significantly better half in the rental truck. I sort of expected to catch them on I-29, but they started much earlier than I, and I had a bit of a weather issue to deal with.

The wind coming out of the south this morning as I left Sioux Falls was pretty fierce, and by the time I reached the Iowa line, I could imagine it was teaching the cornstalks to reach north with their leaves, and making the fields of sunflowers bob and weave and shimmy in a bizarre St. Vitus dance. It was a pulsing wind, almost rhythmic, but still it did its' number on my gas mileage. There's one picture below of when I filled up after only 115 or 120 miles. I have a 5 gallon tank, but it took 5.1 gallons to fill it, and I was *really* grateful to see that gas station out in the middle-of-nowhere Iowa (is that a double negative?). 

I hit my goal today of breaking the final leg into 2 even amounts. I have about 620 or so to ride tomorrow, and I plan to leave here very early to miss the St. Looney morning rush hour. 

Just as it got dark last night, I realized it was the first time in a long time I'd ridden after dark. Too many critters these days for my comfort level. Last night was a necessary exception. My headlight, which is a high-intensity beam, had chosen to adjust itself so that it mostly illuminated the front fender and about 10 feet in front of me. My accessory spot lamps were doing a really good job of helping me inspect the underside of bridges for colonies of bats. I suspect the inspection I got just before I left on this trip was not quite as thorough as I had hoped. I'm very glad I was able to pull over and make suitable adjustments. Twice. 

My favorite time to ride is always late afternoons, just before sunset. I plan to leave early and arrive fairly early at home (at work even!) tomorrow afternoon, so tonight's run away from the sunset was the last for me and this bike. I realized that just as I was snapping a photo, chasing my shadow across I-70. I don't want to get all maudlin, it is after all only a machine, a mechanical geegaw of sorts, but... aside from the LRLR group ride, this trip has been for me all about saying goodbye to this bike. I've known I would sell it for a while, and I wanted one large rolling memory, one more trip to the West Coast (this was the 5th or 6th for this one), and one more bit of time to just listen to the pipes rumble and watch the US glide by. 

It's been all that and more. Even though I have days and days of music on the iPhone, I've maybe listened to 2 hours total on this trip. Just me and the bike, one man astride one machine, seeing the landscape one curve at a time. 

So tomorrow, it's one final leg of a great journey. For tonight, I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story from the last couple of days.

Never forget why we're doing this, and please take a moment to donate and help those in crisis. 100% of your donation goes to the charities, 'cause we pay our own way in addition to raising those $. We're accepting donations for the 2012 ride through August 31st.



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