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Published: June 11th 2016
$4.00 for this?
Oklahoma charged me $2.00 to exit the highway and another $2.oo to get back on. He view really wasn't worth it.
Greetings from Pontoon Beach Illinois! Today was a long one. Easily the most trying day so far and as close to a true low point as I have had on this trip.
I left Oklahoma City, OK at 4AM. Fueled and ready, I headed east again, finally ridding I-40 a fond farewell in favor of I-44. Anyone who has made the transition front the 40 to the 44 in Oklahoma City would have to agree that whoever designed that highway system was fried out of his or her skull on every drug known to man. It's good to have a plan but it's better to have a good plan. This was not a good plan. I can't count the number of times I had to exit right or left just to stay on the 44. Insane. Keep in mind that I'm from Los Angeles, so I'm not exactly intimidated by freeways. Still... damn.
Once clear of that nonsense, I quickly discovered how the government of Oklahoma funds all of it's programs. Highway tolls. Each time that I stopped for gas, it cost me $2.00 to exit the highway and another $2.00 to get back on. Then, every 50 miles
First rest stop in Missouri
Much like Texas, they have little huts at the rest stop. This one came in handy as it was already getting hot.
or so, the highway comes to a complete stop for, you guessed it, a toll booth! Those booths ran about $4.00 each.
I was more than happy to enter Missouri. After the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas as well as the vast emptiness of Oklahoma, the rolling hills and winding highways of Missouri were just what the doctor ordered!
As aesthetically pleasing as Missouri was, by 10AM it was also blazingly hot and insanely humid. I was unable to ride more than 50 miles at a time without stopping to take off my gear and guzzle Powerade. In total, I drank 12 32oz bottles today. I found that my helmet, jacket and gloves - which are supposed to protect me - were actually conspiring to cause me to pass out. On one rest break in particular, I found myself swaying on my feta once I dismounted the bike. I took refuge in a tiny shaded spot in back of a McDonald's, peeled all of my safety gear off, hung it on a gas meter and set about reevaluating my strategy. All the leather in my gloves and jacket as well as my full face helmet were
My personal homeless encampment
This is the area behind the McDonald's where I took drastic measures to beat the heat.
just absorbing too much heat. The experienced motorcyclist in me knows that each piece of this gear has a specific function to perform in the event of an accident. In fact, I made a comment to my dad that had he been wearing a jacket like mine, he might have walked away from a motorcycle accident he had when I was a kid. Instead he was seriously injured and still carries the scars and limitations some 36 years later. Knowing all of this but also knowing from my EMS background that I was in very real danger of passing out from heat exhaustion while riding, I chose a solution that constituted an acceptable risk and the only viable means of continuing the trip at that point. The gloves and jacket had to go. I stowed them on the bike, then changed from boots and jeans to shorts and tennis shoes. I couldn't go so far as to abandon the helmet, although I did decide to ride with the chin bar up for the rest of the day.
That taken care of, I carried there bottles of Powered from my ice chest into McDonald's in order to rehydrate in the
air conditioning. I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible, choosing a table in the far corner of the restaurant. Still, it wasn't 10 minutes before the manager started towards me, presumably to tell me to make a purchase or get out. I stopped him with a look that said "Sir, by choosing to engage me at this particular moment, you are making a poor life choice." He met my gaze, nodded curtly and changed direction seeming suddenly to remember other matters which needed his urgent attention. If I felt better, I would have enjoyed that.
About an hour later, I felt like myself again so I resumed my eastward course. The change in wardrobe helped immensely and I even got my sense of humor back. My goal today was to reach St. Louis and have some BBQ. When I got to the St. Louis city limits, I began looking for a Best Western (I have a rewards card and they're running a promotion this week). As I was looking for a motel, I was also admiring the Arch. Right about this time, the road curved sharply to the right (I-70) and I found myself on a bridge over
a river looking at a sign that said "Illinois State Line." The next chance I had to exit the highway was here, In Pontoon Beach, IL. Instead of BBQ, I had a crappy steak at Dennys. So far this has been both the worst and most expensive meal of the trip.
I did find a Best Western though, so here I sit, hoping that tomorrow will be a little easier.
Stay Tuned, On tomorrow's menu are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. My ass hurts just thinking about it.
See you on the road,
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