Northwest Adventure 2014… Day 14

Steve Kinchen, Sr/ July 11, 2014/ BMW R1200RT, General Rants & Raves About Riding, Northwest Adventure 2014, Touring/ 0 comments

Departure Location: Madison, WI

Time: 0845

Weather Conditions: cloudy and 68 degrees

Daily High Temperature: 82

Destination: Bourbonnais, Illinois

Daily Miles Logged:246

State Visited: Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana

Departure through Madison Traffic and Construction:

Today’s departure took us on an exciting (more like white-knuckle) ride on I-94 on our direct route to the Harley Davidson Museum.  The amount of road construction, inattentive drivers, and general rude behavior will remain in my mind as the key distinguishing feature about this stretch of asphalt.  There was a nice bridge crossing N 6th Street leading our way into the Harley Museum on Canal Street that presented a nice view of what the rest of our morning would entail.

Visit to the Harley Museum and Lunch.

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As we turned onto W. Canal Street in Milwaukee, everything seemingly turned into a shrine to the Harley brand.  Signage ranging from Harley logos to the full implementation of the Harley color schemes permeated landscape in every direction.  My first question, to myself that is, was would there be official brand ambassadors stationed at every corner to ensure only the loyal and faithful owners could partake of what this mecca had to offer its devotees.

I decided to don my BMW Motorrad cap and hold my head up high.  After all, one of the most important HD motorcycles ever created and built was designed by BMW.  Look it up… It is a matter of fact, and I was even able to convince the loyalists of this fact as I showed them this most important bike, hidden off in the righthand corner of the top floor of the museum.

BMW’s boxer engine, or horizontally opposed engine as HD called it, was reversed engineered by HD in the early days of WWII because the BMW’s were much more reliable and effective on the battlefields in the African theater.  HD even fully implemented the BMW shaft drive design to a tee.  See the photos below for definitive proof!



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I must objectively state that the visit to the museum was a fascinating look into the history of an iconic American company that does indeed build a very desirable and high quality product.  One can see the continuity of the brands legacy from the earliest of days to the current models and determine that there is a very special DNA that runs in the family line from day one.  I do not think I will ever likely own a HD, but I have gained a deeper level of appreciation for them after my visit.

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Lunch was at the Harley Cafe and featured somewhat upscale biker food.  As we were in Wisconsin, I elected to try the grilled cheese sandwich with tomato basil soup.  One of the unique features of this grilled cheese sandwich was that it had fried cheese curds as well as shredded cheese and bacon nestled inside two beautifully toasted slices of sourdough bread.  I am a fan for sure, and I announce to our crew that it was the second best grilled cheese sandwich I had ever had.  Jon, Matt and Randall selected the Harley burgers which seemed substantial and well presented, even despite the mega-sized portion of frozen fries that accompanied the hamburger like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman in her prostitute dress and hooker boots on her first date with whatever that guys name was.  Seriously American Restauranteurs… How difficult is it to serve fresh cut fries?

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Ride through Chicago and the South side

After lunch, we began our southern descent which routed us through Chicago.  We headed south on I-94 until we arrived at HWY 41 which would lead us to our ride along Lakeshore Drive.  Due to our tardy arrival, we hit early peak hour traffic, but we were still able to enjoy the sights of the Lakeshore drive including the Sears Tower, Soldier Field and the Museum.

Whether it was intentional or a simple GPS routing anomaly, we quickly found ourselves on the south side of Chicago amongst the cities finest citizens and most well manicured buildings and neighborhoods.  (what…?)

As we returned to the interstate to make our state line crossing into Indiana, we were greeted by the last ambassador of the fine city of Chicago, the toll collector.  She gleefully charged us $4 to cross the bridge.  Upon our arrival into Indiana, we were first greeted by yet another official ambassador to their fine state.  Yes, another toll collector.  This time, she only asked us for $0.90.  I kept thinking about Eisenhower’s vision of the Freeway interstate system and how far we have strayed away from the original intent of the US Interstate system.

As we were making our way to our final destination for the day, Bourbonnais, IN, we had some familiar challenges navigating through the lunacy of norther aggression on the Interstate system.  One might think that we were specifically targeted because of our Louisiana license plates, however, I suppose we should attribute it to simple rude behavior that overwhelms the populate above the Mason-Dixon line.   There was one particular exit that nearly cause our group to get separated, however, the Randalls’ quick reflexes righted that potentially wrong exit just in the knick of time.

After our fuel and bathroom break, we all plugged in the address of the hotel into our GPS units.  Mind you, we all have Garmin devices.  Jon and I have the Model Zumo 665, Randall and Matt have the OEM specific devices that are “powered by Garmin”.  Each of us confirmed the address and approximate milage and we were on our way.  That is where the hilarity ensued.  Randall was on point, and was in communication with Jon via their scala rider headsets.  Jon’s gps told him to exit later than Randall’s, mine was nowhere near the specified exit when Randall exited off of interstate. From this point on, my Garmin kept recalculating our route, and every single time it would say “Turn Left”, Randall would turn right, and vise versa.  With each passing mile, our arrival time would increase and our distance would as well.

I tried numerous times to get Jon and Randall’s attention to see what was going on, however, they were on a mission and apparently oblivious to my gestures.  After 40 additional miles were added to our route, and 50 additional minutes, I decided to cancel my gps units route and have it start from scratch again and sure enough, were were less than 8 miles from the hotel.  We were in the middle of corn fields, and had been for nearly 30 minutes taking turns on what seemed to be private roads and through farming roads… few of which had signs or labels resembling “HWY XXX” or “XXX St or Drive”.  And then all of a sudden, we exited the corn field and entered the back access way of what appeared to be a modern shopping mall.  There was a red lobster, a best buy, and best of all… our hotel.  How in the world did that happen…???


Tomorrow, we press even further south, riding along Route 66, into St. Louis to see the Arch, and then make our way into Kentucky.  Home is getting closer ever day, and as I told my son earlier today, I have been on my way home for 10 days now!


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