Ride home .... via Galena IL.
I decided to extend my stay in St. Louis by a day; this extension would allow me to visit one of my favorite Irish Pubs in the U.S. - McGurk's Irish Pub in the Soulard district of St. Louis. A little known fact: St. Louis actually has the 2nd largest Mardi gras celebration in the US after New Orleans. This celebration takes place in the Soulard district. I found McGurk's on my Cajun-Parrot ride in 2013. One of the few places in the US where the Guinness is consistently good (at least good - by U.S. standards). McGurk's has live Irish music 6 nights a week and a great outdoor patio area in the summer time. The same bartender that took care of me in 2013 was there to serve my Guinness on this trip. One of reason's McGurk's maintains a 9.0+ rating on its Guinness lies in the glass rinse station used before they pour any of their beers.
The original plan had me heading back home to Oak Creek after St. Louis, but I learned my daughter was giving my wife a delayed Mothers day SPA visit in the Wisconsin Dells.
Since my wife wasn't going to be home to greet me- I decided to add one more stop to my tour. Approximately 340 miles North and slightly East of St. Louis lies Galena, Illinois. Galena, besides being one of the former home's of President & General Ulysses S. Grant, is also one of few interesting parts of Illinois from a motorcycle riders perspective. Illinois's terrain overall is not particularly picturesque. Most of the state is flat tedious riding. However, because the Mississippi river straddles its entire Western border, the topography in Western Illinois is much more picturesque. As I often do when going to a new place- I ask friends and relatives for references on where to stay, eat, and/or things to do in the area. My reference for this trip was my brother Dick. He and his wife Krys are avid golfers and have gone to Galena on golf junkets for well over 20 years. He recommended Eagles Ridge Resort just outside Galena for a domicile while in the area. He also recommended the General Golf course-however, I explained that my clubs didn't make the trip with me on the bike as there was a space issue 😊 (I'm
also not a big fan of rental clubs!). He suggested Fried Green Tomatoes restaurant in town as a good dinner spot. I took him up on both suggestions and he did not disappoint.
In route to Galena, I passed through Savannah, Illinois. I had been to Savannah a number times in the past because my wife's Aunt Joanne and family lived high up on the bluffs in Savannah. On family visits we'd camp out on "Old Man River's" islands or on her house boat anchored on the Mississippi. The roads in Savannah are a series of swaths cut into the bluffs at various points offering spectacular views of the river. Galena is a few miles inland from the river but still has some of the hills and valley's created by the river and glaciers over many millennia.
The Eagles Ridge Resort was nice, albeit a little rustic in appearance. I scheduled a massage for the next morning since I knew I only had about 160 miles to traverse on the final leg of the trip. .In between Eagles Ridge and the town of Galena, I found Frank O'Dowd's Irish Pub. Frank had passed on a number of years
ago but he created a nice pub and restaurant. I was expecting my luck in finding good pint's to continue at O'Dowd's but for some reason the Guinness was at best a 7.5. (I expect the tap was a long way from the barrel). After Frank's, I proceeded down into town and on to Fried Green Tomatoes for dinner. My bartender Nick, had recently finished law school and was working while preparing to take his bar exam. I also had a chance to meet the owner - Dick and Krys were right - great food and excellent service both at the bar and table. At the risk of sounding sexist, the town itself is better suited for women who like to store shop, there are 8 to 10 blocks of shops and restaurants on both sides of the road. While my wife digs these kind of towns - I found way to few bars for my liking.
After a great massage the next morning- I loaded up my bide to complete the last 160 miles of the 3,200 mile oblong circle composed of 19 states I traversed on my "Mostly South of the Mason-Dixon Ride" (WI,MI,OH,PA,WV, MA,DE,VA,NC,SC,GA,FL,AL,MS,LA,AR,TN,MO,IL). When you
add in the 4 states I was in during my Couer d' alene side trip (WA,ID,UT,CA), I was in 23 of the lower 48 states on this trip. This is definitely a record for my US trips. During the ride I stopped for gas 21 times, stayed in 13 different hotels, and 21 total nights in hotels during the trip, and one 2 1/2 hour ferry ride. While I did have some frustration riding in the rain, I estimate that of the roughly 70 hours I spend on the road less than 4 hours were in rain and while mostly due to my stubbornness- I never donned my heavy rain gear on the entire trip.
This ends the 2019 "Mostly South of the Mason-Dixon Ride". I'm working on next years ride and am thinking about either Denmark-Norway-Sweden or Hamburg to Athens via Eastern Europe. I have to figure out how much time I can carve out. While I retired this year from my CEO position - I also decided to go back to school and pursue a PhD in Business from Oklahoma State University. Classes are 3 days each month in Stillwater but a travel day is required on
either side of the school days. While I have zig-zagged around parts of the Southwest on previous rides, I may end up creating a Cowboy tour of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, and Colorado.
Lastly, thank you to all who have donated to Cureduchenne (www.cureduchenne.org) even though this year was a non-charity ride. Also many thanks for the nice words of encouragement during the ride and those who took the time to read my incessant banter in these blogs and yet encouraged me to keep writing them. Finally, thanks to my wife Karen, who puts up with me doing these rides even though she worries about me non-stop.
Closing thought - As you think about your goals and aspirations and wonder when you should act on them - consider the words "DON'T WAIT". Have a great summer.
Tot: 0.115s; Tpl: 0.019s; cc: 11; qc: 50; dbt: 0.0144s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb