Life on the frozen tundra of South Dakota Life on the frozen tundra of South Dakota

An Attempt At A Quieter, Lower Key Trip Than In The Past

An Attempt At A Quieter, Lower Key Trip Than In The Past

I know I say it every single year, but this year really was an unusual year for the motorcycle trip. No really. This time I mean it. I'm not making this up. No. Really.

Well, maybe it's the new normal. In any event, I just wasn't very motivated to take a big trip this year. I suppose it was due to a variety of reasons.

First, last year's trip (as fun as it was) caused me a great deal of stress. Mostly due to a combination of the length and trying to stretch too many miles into too little rubber remaining on my tires. My feeling of dread grew throughout that trip culminating with nightmares. While it all worked out in the end, I learned my lesson about trying to save a buck. Nevertheless, the memory of that stress still lingered fresh in my mind.

Second, due to personal reasons that I'm not going to divulge here on the internet, Jon regrettably informed me that he was unable to go on a trip this year. Which was a bummer. Mostly because he's a friend and it's been great to travel with him the previous three years. Also, because it makes my wife rest easier if I'm not out on the road alone. But mostly because of the former.

Third, once again the summer got busy and the weeks filled up fast. June was out, as I was coaching my son's baseball team and the game schedule didn't allow me to take a trip at the same time. July was packed with two trips to Kansas City to drop my son off at music camp, and then return to pick him up. We also had my 30th high school reunion and a friend's 80th birthday party sprinkled into that month along with a handful of other events.

August was looking more promising. At the beginning of the summer there wasn't a whole lot on the calendar for that month. My son had tryouts with the high school golf team scheduled for the first week, and it was better for my wife if I wasn't gone during that time. Then, in mid-July a friend of my wife's announced that she was coming to visit in August for a while. So the second week was now off the table. Not a problem though, because I still had two more weeks. Well, there were a bunch of pre-school year activities that I should probably attend during that fourth week. Finally I penciled in the 3rd week as my window of opportunity.

Until less than a week beforehand my in-laws announced that they were coming to visit that week. Standing firm on my motorcycle trip plans probably wouldn't be the most prudent decision I'd ever made as a spouse, so I wisely decided to postpone my trip. I did make an appointment and had both of my tires replaced though, so at least the bike was ready to roll whenever the opportunity presented itself for me to actually leave.

Now it was looking into September before I could leave. The first week of school wasn't an opportune time to be gone, as both my son and wife would be adjusting to new schedules and it's better for me to be around during that time to help. Looking at the calendar, I circled Saturday, September 9th as my departure date.

Except now we were into the swing of the fall schedule. On the 9th was a golf team fundraiser where the parents were serving food at a big rivalry football game. Plus it was the USF Cougar football home opener that evening, and I really didn't want to miss that game. So I decided to leave on the 10th.

Except on the 10th I found out we had family pictures scheduled. For the benefit of my health, I decided I should stick around that day. Maybe I could leave on the 12th?

On the 11th, I woke up feeling kind of "off." Not stay-in-bed-all-day sick, but bad enough that I wasn't motivated to do a whole lot. My son had been sick during the previous week (missed the 2nd and 3rd days of school) and I think I was getting a turn at the same illness, whatever it was. I got out of my chair that day to do a couple of things (including pack) but really didn't feel well enough to attempt to leave that day. I had taken the whole week off from work, so at least I had some flexibility in that schedule.

The morning of the 12th I wasn't feeling great, but good enough that I decided I could make the trip. Besides, once I'm on the motorcycle all I have to do is sit there right?

Along with the indecision of when to leave, I had my normal bout of indecision regarding where to go. Jon and I had tentatively mapped out a couple of longer trips. One was to ride "the Dragon" in South Carolina, and the other was to go into Canada, through Niagara Falls and back. Once I learned Jon wouldn't be going with me this year, I decided to shelve those ideas until a future time when he's able to join in the fun. I decided if I was going alone I should just do something on a smaller scale.

I thought about the Black Hills. I have already been there quite often, including a decent handful of times on my motorcycle. I considered northern Minnesota, but again I had been there a few times and felt like I'd seen most of what there was to see in that area. Then my mental map continued to rotate clockwise, and I came across southern Wisconsin. I had traveled there back in 2010 and found the area to be excellent for riding motorcycle. The roads are in good repair, hardly any of them are straight (lots of curves), some nice scenery and it was rural without being in complete isolation should I want to stop for gas or a bite to eat. Plus, being just 6 hours from home it wouldn't take a monumental ride to get there.

I decided that Wisconsin was the winner. As it turns out, it was good that I didn't try and bite off a more extensive trip this year as when the illness hit I just wasn't physically up for anything longer. As usual, it all worked out in the end.

So here we go! Continue on to day one...

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This page last updated on 06/28/2018