#102 PNW - Seneca Rock, WV

2007 July 31
232 miles
PNW Trip
Day 24
Tuesday

Because it's the last day of the trip, I drag it out from the beginning. I don't leave the motel until 10:30am. No Interstates today! Today I will savor the twisty roads, running close enough to the ground to see the country. The first place I stop to spend any time is Seneca Rock in West Virginia on US33.
This very popular site with rock climbers is a natural limestone formation reaching 800 feet above the North Fork River Valley.
I park Fleeter and wander over to the river for some photos.I found these rocks stacked just so...Time to get back on the road to slowly make my way home.This is what US33 looks like on the map. Now doesn't that look a bit more interesting than most Interstates...even on a map?
About 2pm, I decide to stop for lunch when I saw this small restaurant named "The Cabin" just a few miles before I crossed into Virginia.This was my after-lunch ride. Good thing there aren't any rules in riding like in swimming.This S curve is home to the Virginia -- West Virginia state line. The straightaway after coming down from across the mountains. This is getting easy... "Look Mom, No hands!"
Actually, this was during a construction delay. There were several of us stopped waiting for the flagger to tell us it was our tun to roll.
I made it back home to Fredericksburg at 6pm.
Arriving home after 24 days on the road leaves me with mixed feelings. I'm be glad to be home in MY bed where I should know where I am as soon as I wake up (actually, it will take a night or two.) I look forward to leisurely drinking my morning coffee in MY coffee cup (not paper or Styrofoam) and NOT have to watch the weather for comprehension. When on the road, you have to always be studying the weather...and there are often tests during the day.
A note about watching the weather while on the road:
People normally watch the weather as they are in a fixed place. They just have to watch how the weather will be developing and moving into their location. Not me. I am a moving target! And the weather is moving... Now that takes concentration to watch the weather in motion over a few days and project your path into that movement. Hint: It always helps to watch the big picture. I am usually making tracks across a large enough area, I need to see the map on the national map...at least a multi state- area.
So you see how it is relaxing NOT to have to be studying the weather for comprehension.

The PNW Trip Summary

Total trip: 8,068 miles

Stamps collected: 41 standard + 16 bonus


States fleetered in this trip: 22
Thanks for riding along with me.

#101 PNW - White Castle Burgers & Ms. Bettye

2007 July 30
534 miles
PNW Trip
Day 23
Monday

I feel the trip winding down even though I know I will stretch the remaining miles into two days. Part of me is ready to be back home, but I am hesitant to let go of the road. It's 72 degrees when I pull out of the Super 8 parking lot in Mount Vernon, Illinois.
I take I64 across Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky.
It's a low key kind of Interstate running past a lot of farms and corn fields and without heavy traffic...at least not today.
Though I was only in Kentucky for less than 200 Interstate miles, a couple interesting things happened.
First, I saw a sign for White Castle Burgers on one of the exit info signs. I've heard the interesting history of the White Castle Burger and the place they have in history of fast food, but I have never personally partaken of that burger of history. http://www.whitecastle.com/_pages/about.asp
Here's my chance. It's 2:30pm and I haven't had lunch (big surprise there, huh?!) and I need to make a fuel stop -- the blinker goes on. Turns out that the White Castle is not one of the business right near the Interstate so I head "inland from the Interstate about 2 miles into the Frankfort area. I finally see the White Castle sign and pull into the parking lot. I pull off some of my riding gear and leave it on Fleeter parked in a shady spot in the parking lot and head in to study the menu. I've heard that White Castle burgers are a "quantity burger" -- meaning you order a pack of smaller burgers rather than one larger, fully dressed burger. I make my choice, place my order, take my order number, and go sit in the near-empty dining area.
While I am waiting for my dining experience, I take note of an older (late 70s) woman in the dining room. She is sitting by herself, with a book, but not reading. She seems distracted and unsettled. By the time I finish my meal and ready to head back to gear up and get back on the road, she is also leaving. I hold the door for her as we walk outside together. She still seems to be stressed...so I ask if she is okay and if there is something I can do for her.
Turns out that her dog that she's had for over 10 years is ill and having to be put down. She couldn't stand to be there when it happened so she left to let her son and daughter-in-law to handle the details. She didn't know if it was over yet and if she should go home or what she should do. Her husband is a local pastor and she feels a bit lost and out of sorts that this is happening while he is out of town. She talked to me for awhile about this and that, then gave me a big hug and thanked me for being there when she needed someone to talk to. She wanted to give me something before we parted ways... She thought a few seconds as she fumbled around in the backseat of her car. She came up with a gently used book, "Stories for a Woman's Heart" -- collection of stories to encourage the soul. She promptly opened the cover and wrote a personal note to me, signed it and handed it over to me with another hug. We then went our own separate ways.
Sometimes there's more than one reason to travel down a particular road. When I took the exit, I thought it was to experience the White Castle burger, but this time it was so I'd be in the same place, at the same time as Ms. Bettye.
By the way, I didn't care that much for the burgers. I won't go out of my way to find another White Castle. Give me a good Whataburger any day!
I get back on the road with a warm place in my heart that comes from helping someone...even if you didn't know them when you reached out to them. As I'm riding down the road feeling good about the day, I get a jerked back into another world when I see the huge semi tractor trailer's tires crossing over the stripe right into my lane. Seems that it wants my lane whether I'm there or not. I hit the throttle hard and move over to the shoulder as I pull past it as it takes over my lane. As I pull past the cab of the rig, I see it slightly jerk away from me as the driver sees me for the first time. But it's too late for him to avoid me, I've already done the work of avoiding him! I zoom on and put some distance between us and let my heart slow down to a normal rate. Actually, it wasn't that close...the rig was moving over slowly and I had plenty of time to use the shoulder to pass. I'm just glad I saw him coming over and it happened on a straight away where there was a good open shoulder. A twistier road with close rails would not have been a good place!
Miles later, I see some wild turkey on the side of the road and recall that the last time I was in Kentucky I also saw a few wild turkey. Then I started thinking that that makes sense... Wild turkey is probably distilled and bottled here in Kentucky. Matter of fact it is... in Lawrenceburg -- very near Frankfort.

In Charleston, West Virginia, I get on a different flavor of Interstate...I79.
I79 twists and turns through the mountains.

The mountains even sported a hazy fog as the sun started dipping low enough to hide behind the tips of the mountains.It was just after sunset when I pulled into the Super 8 in Weston, West Virginia. Still, it was a good day on the road.

#100 PNW - Independence, Missouri

2007 July 28
570 miles
PNW Trip
Day 22
Sunday
Packed up and ready to pull out from the Days Inn in Russell, Kansas. It's overcast and 75 degrees with a good chance of rain and cooler weather before the day is over.
Sure enough, I rode in rain while on the toll road leading into Independence, MO.
Fortunately, the rain stops as I enter the city. I had made a decision while riding along in the rain... If it was raining when I reached the exit for the Truman House, I'd keep going. But if the weather cleared (at least stopped raining), I'd take the exit and make the stamp stops I had planned for Independence.
After fueling up, I make my way to the Truman House.
Then a few blocks down the road, I find the Visitor Center where I do some stamp collecting. Statue of Harry Truman

Building Mural

I find more stamp collecting opportunities a few more blacks away at the National Frontier Trails Center. Cool bonus stamps here!This statue is billed as the original Madonna of the Trail statue according to the volunteer and the information sheet.
This old depot is behind the National Frontier Trails Center. This is day 22 of my PNW trip (Pacific Northwest). From this point on, I have no destination, stamps, or stops on my list to make. I kinda had it in my mind that once I crossed over to the east side of the Rocky Mountains, it would be time to head home...tour is over. But after the Greeley accident, I didn't want to end the fun stuff just yet. Something about not letting bad road karma cheat me out of any of the good stuff. So I still did some meandering across Kansas and collected some stamps. But after today's stamps and with all the exciting good stuff of the PNW past...I'm ready to head home.

After all the above comments... I still slow down through St Louis long enough to go downtown and get an Arch shot. On the other side of St. Louis, I stop about 7:30pm for fuel and a Subway sandwich in O'Fallon, Illinois before hammering out the last 100 miles to the Super 8 in Mount Vernon, Illinois.

#99 PNW - Nicodemus, Kansas

2007 July 28
421 miles
PNW Trip
Day 21
Saturday

Leaving the Days Inn of Greeley at 8:10am in a nice 66 degrees. Feels good to be getting back on the road. It was nice to sleep in yesterday, but I'm ready to roll again. Being back on the road is good even though the road isn't offering much scenery along US34 in eastern Colorado. Since I was bored from the lack of scenery, I took great interest in the train traveling along with me.
We ran along side each other for awhile... Then we'd cross paths...I'd wave real big like and they'd wave back and give me a little blow on their whistle. Then I left them behind and started looking at other things...like the darkening sky above me.
(Looks worse than it was...just dropped a few raindrops my way and kept things cooled off.)
I took time to visit with the horses near the road...
They seemed to take a bit of interest in Fleeter also. In the mean time, the train would catch up with me so we'd acknowledge each other again as I flew past them...again.

I started thinking thoughts like... "racing the train through the grain in the rain" I made it to the Nebraska state line before they did, so I stopped and set up for a photo as they flew past.


I am standing along side the state line when they come rolling along. Timing is everything when you're this close and the train is moving that fast. Darn! I missed judged the shutter delay and missed the shot of Fleeter and the Engine "nose to nose"!
I didn't see much of Nebraska, but I did catch the official "Cornerstone of Nebraska" in the southeast corner of the state.Since I didn't stay in Nebraska for long, Kansas turned up pretty quick. Running along KS27, I came upon a memorial to the Cherry Creek Encampment of 1864-65.
This sign posted information regarding the possible Cheyennes at this encampment.
Check the names... Sunflowers of Kansas...These buffalo weren't at the encampment.
I noticed something curious...
Seems that when I stopped, they all looked at me and then turned away with obvious disinterest or possibly irreverence. Why I think that, you ask? I couldn't help but to notice that not only did they turn away from me, but about half of them chose this moment to take a poop. What's up with that? What does that mean? Is this a Bison defense mechanism? Or a personal statement toward me?
Well, I decided to try get over the Bison's reception by turning to the corn...
At least the corn didn't turn their silk toward me in a disrespectful way.

In Hill City, Kansas I see a sight that takes me back about 30 years to when I used to run around Goliad, Texas on my horse.
Next stamp stop carries a special bonus.
Nicodemus Historic Site http://www.nps.gov/nico/Nicodemus, Kansas was holding their annual "Homecoming" where current and past residents (which many of them are related) all come home for the weekend.

http://www.geocities.com/rainforest/vines/5320/nicodemus/nicodemus.html
"The Spirit of Nicodemus... Despite the decline of Nicodemus and scattering of its people through the years, it lives on in spirit and place as a reminder of the many African-Americans who ventured far throughout the west as farmers, cowboys, soldiers, miners, politicians, stagecoach drivers, entrepreneurs and many more. Descendants treasure their spiritual bonds to this place. They come from throughout our Nation to return to Nicodemus every year during the last weekend in July to celebrate "Homecoming". It is a time for renewing family ties and friendships lasting generations. Originating from Nicodemus' earliest times as "Emancipation Day" to observe freeing of slaves in the West Indies, Homecoming has evolved and endured over 100 years. Homecoming is celebrated by a parade, fashion show, food, drink, and much more. People of all races from nearby communities, and around our Nation, join the celebration."


The ladies in the tent were handling registration and t-shirt sales. They got a big kick from me riding the country by myself on Fleeter. Their comment? "You Go Girl!"
After getting my stamp, I decided to walk around and see if I could find the origin of the BBQ I smelled as I pulled in. I quickly found it...I'm sure the fact that I hadn't eaten today honed my hunting skills... at least my "sniff & find" skills. Keeping an eye on the sky, I quickly ate my BBQ sandwich supper before I decided to get rolling before the rain catches me.
I decided a t-shirt was in order to commemorate the lucky timing of my visit during "Homecoming" weekend.
The ladies decided to give me one of last year's t-shirts to go with the one I purchased from this year.
I barely stay ahead of this storm.
If I keep playing "cat & mouse" with the weather, it will eventually catch up to me...but not today.
I'm sure that storm has hail in it, but I don't want to stick around to verify my hunch.Once again, I head for the light in as a tactic of escaping the rain.
I run down to catch US183 and take it south to I70 where I turn back east to cruise on into Russell, Kansas about 7:30pm where I land at the Days Inn for the night.