900 Miles and the Blazing Sun… And a Happy Heart

This last weekend I took off on my own little adventure through Iowa, just me and my trusty two-wheeled side kick.  It had been a minute since just she and I went on a little adventure, so it was high time!  Of course it was the hottest weekend on record for June.  I mean you literally started sweating just looking outside.  Brutal.  B.R.U.T.A.L.

But, hey.  When the open road calls, I answer.

Friday, June 15th, 10am.  Bags packed, tire pressure checked, oil levels solid.   Time to pack it up and ship on out.   Until my saddle bag handle falls apart ever so nicely in my hands.  I laughed.  Out loud.  Of COURSE this would happen, because why not?  Sigh…   Three pieces held together by 6 itty bitty little screws.  Do you think I can find any of them?   Nope, just one loan ranger that had apparently been hanging on for dear life (and holding my lid on too).  Thanks little buddy.

Operation: fix this shit, stat.

As I am searching through bins in the garage to find replacements Clint calls and says to take his bike. Um, no. This weekend is reserved for me and my girl. His response:  Well, guess you better fix it.  Good luck.

Already on it, good sir.

A little trip to good ol’ Tractor Supply and 30 minutes later, home-girl was on the ROAD!

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Destination: Ames, IA for a late lunch with my HS girlfriend, Erin.

Friends, I don’t think I stopped smiling the ENTIRE journey.  Well, except once, in Des Moines.  Traffic was thick, some cute bubbly blonde teenager was on MY ASS, so I turned around and gave her a little piece of my mind, hopped lanes, and went back to smiling.  Spent almost two hours catching up with Erin on personal and professional life, a nice solid hug to close our afternoon out, and back out to the heat I went.

Second time the smile left my face.  That heat hit ya right in the feelers, man.

 

That frown turned upside down the second I hit Hwy 30 headed East.  Destination: Cedar Rapids, IA to hang with my galpal Cyndi!   She had an ice cold glass of water and a PBR waiting for my arrival and I happily chugged them both.

And then it was off for a fun (and sweltering) photo sesh.

Look at this cutie!!!!!!!!

STOP IT CYNDI!  If you are cool enough to know this chick, you know her laugh is TOP 10!  More to come on that.

We spent an hour or so doing photos and then it was time for drinks, food and music to close out our night.

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Saturday hit me like a hangover from hell.  Mind you I had three beers and one vodka over the span of 4 hours.  PBR HATES ME AND IT MAKES ME SO SAD. I mean, come on.  You’re supposed to be my friend, Pabst.  What happened between us?  My head was pounding, my stomach rolling, Cyndi wanted breakfast, I wanted a soda, so I popped some ever-so-faithful Dramamine and Aleve and off we went.  First hill I had to yell at Cyndi to slow down if she didn’t want puke in her car.  Lovely house guest I make!

Anyway… Dr. Pepper saved my ass.  Dramamine is my hero.  We all survived the morning, and it was off for a day in the sun on the AMVET Poker Run!

We cruised north and east for a little over 160 miles.  I met some of her girlfriends, we signed our names to a random wall, we sweat out any and all drinks that went down the hatch and all and all had us a solid day!

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Poker Run wrapped up around 4pm with Cyndi winning some hundred dolla bills, y’all… (you just sang that didn’t you?)

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4:30pm I peeled off and headed to Ankeny, IA to hit up Whiskey River to see my cousin Erika.  Guys.  4:30pm, heading west, 105 degree index… and I am the genius going straight into the sun.  And guess who didn’t give two shits?  This girl.  Permagrin here to STAY!   My mind was happy.  My heart was full.   This was turning out to be a solid weekend.

6:30pm, drinks and dinner and a few hours of catching up with the gorgeous Erika made for an even happier girl.

And this is where I excel in making plans.   I try not to solidify much until necessary.  I told Erika to pencil me in as I might stay with her, but once 9pm rolled around, I was jonesing to move again.  If you have followed me long enough and know me well, you already know night riding is my absolute favorite time to ride, hands down.

It certainly is the most dangerous, but guys.  Your senses come ALIVE at night.  Your mind becomes sharper, your eyes more alert, the sounds and smells are heightened 10 fold.  It’s magic. Simply magic.  So, 9:15pm I fueled up and pointed my headlight towards Omaha.

And we rolled in just slightly after 11:30.  It was pure bliss.

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Father’s Day Sunday and I get a call from my dad jonesing for some open road time and a few beers, and so 20 minutes later I was out the door.   Hair hadn’t been washed in four days.  My face was a collection of at least 6 layers of lotion and sunblock and an additional 3 layers of makeup on makeup.  #killingit

Full disclosure:  Yes, I rolled into bed the second I got home Saturday night.  Sweat and sunblock and road grime and all.  Clint is a lucky… LUCKY man.  HA! #killingitagain

90 miles later I was at dad’s and we hit the road for a mini-southwest Iowa tour of bars.  It was a GREAT day!  As I was telling him about my weekend adventures he said “You are a daring little girl” to my night riding.  To that he followed up with “it’s my favorite too”

Like father, like daughter on that note.  Check!

I decided to peel off at Sidney, IA to head back to the city. I have a college friend staying with us for two weeks and I was in dire need of a shower.  It was when I reached Hwy 34 that the clouds showed their ugly head.

But, I think I had mild excitement at the thought of cold rain hitting my overly tanned shoulders.

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I hit it.  And I have made a mental note to get some RainX for my windshield.  We had a few hairy moments on some construction zones.

Clearly, we made it home safe and sound.

And deliriously happy.

My head needed those miles.  My heart needed those miles.  My LIFE needed those miles.

I recently read a quote:

Just because your time is full, doesn’t mean your life is full

Really hits home, doesn’t it?  Once upon a time, my time was full.  Of stuff.  Of work, of training, of teaching as an adjunct for a University, of fitness teaching, of conference calls, of weekend events, of this, of that.  My time/life. was. busy.  My life is still busy as many of the above-listed items I still do, but I am prioritizing appropriately, and condensing the amount of TIME spent on each.  A balance is essential.  I also reflected and eliminated some of those things in my previous life that were once fulfilling, but then after digging deep into my heart and mind… they actually weren’t.  I was missing out on the here and the present with my friends new and old.  I was missing out on things that at the end of my life, I didn’t want to regret.  I want to spend my time, my days, my life with the people and the things that make me feel fulfilled and that I know will make my heart absolutely happy at 90 when I look back on these times.

So, if this quote resonates with you, I encourage you to stop.  Reflect.  Take action on things that are going to fulfill you and your bigger purpose, whatever that may be.  What is going to make you feel proud at the end of the road?

Now, go LIVE!

 

Cheers!!

 

Mississippi River Riding

Road trips are good.   Road trips on the bike are better.  And for our 5 year wedding anniversary, Clint and I decided to do just that.

Did you know that the first time Clint and I technically met was on a poker run?  In 2006, shortly after I moved to Omaha, specifically.  And our first time hanging out was also on a poker run?  I played REALLY hard to get for roughly four months after that too.  Had to make sure he could handle this independent woman, ya know.  I played my cards right. He respects my strong sense of independence, I respect his and we balance each other quite perfectly, if I do say so myself. 🙂

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So on September 9th, Clint and I took off towards Rock Island, Illinois for a weekend of cabin life and riding the Mississippi River.  Heading straight East on Highway 92 we had an easy ride, a little rain and a stop at one of our favorite grub spots in Indianola, IA.    The Sports Page was always our pit-stop when traveling to the Conesville Rally, back when Conesville, IA knew how to throw a motorcycle rally.  Sadly, they stopped that crazy fun weekend a few years back, so our stops in Indianola are very few and far between nowadays.

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The weather was only slightly temperamental, leaving us a little soggy just a couple times, but the wind and warmth always dried us off soon after.

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Mid-afternoon we made our destination and settled in to our adorable cabin on the Rock Island KOA at Camelot grounds where we spent the rest of our Friday evening fishing, sitting around the campfire, drinking ice cold beers and enjoying the serenity outside of the city lights.

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The only downfall were the mosquito’s.  Oh, the mosquito’s.  They love me, they find me, they are relentless.

More on that later.

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Saturday we donned our Hawkeye gear and headed out for a day of riding up the Mississippi on the Iowa side and back down on the Illinois.

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One of our stops landed us at Antique Archeology for what can only be summed up as a tourist trap and gift shop for the TV show enthusiasts.  Not nearly as impressive when everywhere you turn is another trinket enticing shoppers to spend money on.  Maybe I’d think differently about it if this place wasn’t basically in our backyard across the State, but I was feeling a little disappointed in the lack of cool things to see.

I was surprised, however, to see how close the location was to the Mississippi, considering the show only let’s you view the shop.  And St. Clair, IA is a pretty cute little town that left me feeling as if it could serve as the backdrop to a good book.

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For lunch we actually met up with our friend Vern who was on location nearby for work.   He took us to a pretty cool restaurant/bar with incredible views of the river.  Oddly, I didn’t take a single photo except for the boys mapping out our next leg of the journey.

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The rest of the day we cruised through various towns only stopping to take in the scenery or to have a few brews.  The weather was quite brisk, requiring leather jackets and gloves, but left us feeling incredibly refreshed.

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Our journey back to our cabin led us directly to Poopy’s Pub N’ Grub, which is a must for any biker in the area.  I am sure it’s quite the place to party on the weekend nights, with it’s large dance floor and multiple levels for mingling and people watching. We headed up to the Squirrel’s Nest to view the entire grounds and I’ll admit it was quite impressive.

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We stayed long enough to enjoy a cold beer before my bug bites decided to start making me absolutely miserable.  Remember the mosquito’s referenced earlier?

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Oh, hello darlings.  It was like they began to multiply at this point.   I’ve always been a magnet for bug bites.  Massive amounts of bug bites.  I can remember as a kid mom taking me to Minnesota to visit family and I’d be miserbly covered in these darn bites.  I have yet in my 36 years to find a repellant that works.  I basically bathed myself in Deet the moment we unloaded at the cabin.  Oy…

Anyway, onward we went…

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One last pit stop on the river front ensued before our final destination at a local Rock Island bar for dinner and the Iowa game.

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We made ourselves a little fire to close out our Saturday evening while discussing our Sunday adventures of fishing and our plans for lunch at a restaurant on the Mississippi.

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And, while Clint slept peacefully in our adorably cozy cabin, I lay awake for hours on end in complete misery while mosquito’s found their way through the covers and clothes to continue their torture on my body.

Pure hell.

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These little guys I’m certain are chiggers, however, sparing you the photos of the rest of my body, trust me when I say the bites continued up my legs, covered my arms, back and belly.   I am positive these were worse then chicken pox as a kid.

Torture.

After a middle of the night shower to wash off the multiple layers of anti-itch that only made me stick to my sheets, I finally threw in the towel around 7am.  By the time Clint got up I had my makeup on, fully dressed for the day, kitchen cleaned out and all our shit packed and ready to go.  With a confused look on his face, I pulled up my pant legs to show him the source of my misery and after stopping counting at 100 bites, he looked at me and said,

“let’s get you the hell out of here”

A quick pack of the bikes while I stood by with a constantly spraying can of Deet and we were soon our way back home, away from the open water and the little devil bugs from hell.

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The open air was good for my head and kept me from itching my skin right off.   We made a stop in Oskaloosa, IA at a unique coffee house that provided us delicious sandwiches and scenery, before finishing our Highway 92 journey back to Omaha.

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All in all, we had a GREAT trip and enjoyed each others company immensely.  It was nice to get away from the hustle of the city and wind down together on our bikes, doing what we love.

Next time, I vote staying somewhere far, far, far away from water and don’t blink an eye when you see me rocking a bee suit and wasp net for my attire.

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Not. Even. Kidding.

Cheers!