#123 Road to Moonshine

Road To Moonshine

 April 10, 2008
Day 1
709 miles

It's Moonshine time again! While flowers are popping out all over the south, tornados spout from Texas to Tennessee, late winter storms invade the Midwest from the Canadian Rockies, and flood waters rise along all the major waterways in Central US...a group of motorcycle riders across the US and Canada hit the trail that leads to Moonshine, Illinois. By the time the riders claim their prize of a moonburger, they will be riding in temps of 30s to 40s and wiping rain, sleet and snow from their face shields. But these conditions will not come as a surprise to most of these riders, neither will it deter them. It is understood that Moonshine weekend historically provides challenging weather to the riders coming from near and far to join a few friends for a moonburger. Last year weather was in the 30s with a snow/sleet/rain mix, but that didn't stop over 400 riders from converging at the Moonshine General Store located at a small crossroads out in the fields of Illinois.

With the destination of Moonshine on my mind, I set out westward from Virginia toward Illinois. It's a good day weather-wise in the middle of the day, that is. I start out at 7am with 52 degrees in the mist and heavy fog. It turns to partly cloudy and 69 degrees as I cross West Virginia and Ohio. By the time I arrive in Casey, Illinois the local weather reports will be talking about the severe thunderstorms in the area and worsening overnight. Today's weather will be the best weather by far over my four day trip.

US highway 50 hugs Cheat Mountain as it snakes its way toward the Ohio border at Parkersburg. Cool Springs has been offering an oasis to travelers and tourists since 1929.Entering Ohio puts me almost halfway to my destination -- the Comfort Inn in Casey, Illinois where the parking lot will have more motorcycles than cars.
Across the Ohio River, I land in Belpre, Ohio -- originally named Belle Prairie (beautiful prairie). Settled in 1789, it is known as "The Baby Doll Capital of the World," but also claims its spot in history by being the location of the first library established in Ohio.
I debate on the route through Ohio right up to the last minute and decide in Athens to abandon US50 and jump on US33 to go up through Columbus and catch I70 rather than continue northwest through Chillicothe and meet I70 north of Dayton. I decide that over 400 miles of avoiding Interstates is good enough during a 700 mile day. It is now time to roll on the Interstate and make better time for the next 300+ miles. So far I've been lucky with the weather, but I know that the weather Gods won't smile on me all weekend -- there's rain ahead. It's just a matter of when I'm going to run into it. I'm of the mind that I'd like to get as many miles behind me as I can before having to ride in the rain...and I'd rather be on a straight, smooth Interstate when the rain finds me.

All went well until I reached Indianapolis. That's where I ran into cooler temps of 54 degrees and rain. While traveling around Indianapolis on loop I465, I came up on two large gravel dump trucks. Knowing that I didn't want to be following behind them... I took the first chance I saw to make a smooth and speedy pass past them. The pass was almost a clean success. When I was closing in on the left rear corner of the lead truck...it hit a bump in the road. The back gate pops and small rocks come showering out the back tailgate, bouncing like small rubber superballs. I got peppered for only a second as I completed my pass, but it only took one rock a fraction of second to pop my right turn signal lens. I'm just glad that I was almost past the back of the truck when the rocks started their attack.

If you look real close, you can see the rock is still inside the lens where it will stay until the lens is replaced. Richard, a buddy from Florida, drilled a small hole into the front lower corner of the lens to let the water drain out. I have since covered the hole with clear packing tape to keep out water from the next rainstorm. The blinker is still functioning. The RT is doing a great job -- takes a hit and keeps on going without a falter. Glad the fairing protected my hand. That rock would have left an impressive bruise if not broken bones.

The last 10 miles into Casey warmed up to 63 degrees and the rain came down heavier, but I was tracking straight and steady along the freeway. I made it to the Comfort Inn in Casey, Illinois ahead of schedule at 7:45pm.
The motel already had 30+ motorcycles in the parking lot at 7:45pm. The cookout under the hotel's entry pavilion was just winding up, but there were plenty hotdogs and munchies waiting inside. I checked in, unloaded the RT, and loaded a plate.

April 11, 2008
Day 2
155 miles

Overnight brought heavy storms and emergency warnings flashing across the TV screen, but by daylight the rain was letting up. More and more riders rolled in to the parking lot throughout the morning.
The group pulls out at 12 noon for Coles County Airport Restaurant in Mattoon, 30 miles north. Word is that they serve up a mean Elephant Ear sandwich.
Coles County Airport parking lot. I guess the fire fighters are here for the Elephant Ears too.www.colescountyairport.com/
There it is -- the famous Elephant Ear Sandwich. Small airplane pilots fly in from all over just take a bite (or two) of this. It's a pork tenderloin flattened and breaded.
After properly stuffing ourselves with an Elephant Ear, I went north 40 miles with Charles, a buddy from Georgia, to Savoy to visit the BMW dealership. Winds were steadily blowing 23mph with gusts up to 40mph. The crosswind was strong enough to blow Charles onto the shoulder three times, so we exited I57 and continued at a slower speed up US45.

We made it to Twin Cities BMW in Savoy, IL, said howdy, shopped the sale table, and headed back south to Casey for the organized supper at Richard's Farm Restaurant.

On the way back to Casy we pass through a place called Oilfield. Oilfield, Illinois smells a lot like Luling, Texas. Not much to be found here in this wide spot on Illinois state hwy 49 among the fields of oil pumps, but this place is supposed to serve up a burger almost as good as you can get at Moonshine. Maybe next time through this way I'll give it a try. http://oilfieldillinois.com/dnn/Home/tabid/37/Default.aspx
Charles is patiently waiting for me to load up and get back on the road.
Richard's Farm Restaurant had a buffet waiting for us at 6:30pm.http://www.richardsfarm.com/
There will be many, many more show up tomorrow, but already the group fills the private room of the restaurant.
Remember...this is not a rally. Nor is it an advertised event. It's just a few friends showing up to go to Moonshine to have a moonburger for lunch. It all started with a local farmer...a rider of motorcycles...asked a few friends to ride in and join him for lunch. Farmer Terry has lots of friends...from far away places! That's Terry addressing the group.
Farmer Terry on his Honda ST1300.

Tomorrow: We go to Moonshine!

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