Sunday, July 3, 2011

An Afternoon in Pete Egan's Garage

The picture to the left here should tickle the Theobalds. Jan and I were taking a break at a church outside of Cashville, Wisconsin and I spotted this gravestone.
On the picture below, I was taking one of my frequent map breaks to try and figure out where we were and I managed to get one of Jan patiently waiting for me to get my bearings.

Anyhow, the primary mission for Tuesday the 28th of June was to head down to Madison to visit the grave of Rachael Hugo, who was killed in action in Iraq a few years ago. It was one of the first Patriot Guard missions that I had gone on and I wanted Jan to see the grave site. She originally was buried above ground but evidently been moved to a private site in the interim. This stuff drives Jan crazy, but in wondering around the city trying to locate the exact location on the cemetery we had a funeral procession pass by that seemed to be heading in the right direction, so I just fell in and followed them to the proper cemetery. We visited her grave site and had a peaceful lunch there and then headed out on the second part of our excursion, trying to locate Pete Egan's home location. He writes for Cycle World and Road and Track magazines and is the column that I turn to first thing when the magazine comes every month. We are similar in age and he writes about the area quite a lot so I know what he is talking about when he refers to weather conditions etc.. A little game I play is trying to nail down a location from bits and pieces of his column and I thought that I could have it narrowed down to a couple of small roads in the Madison area, so Jan and I did a little more exploring without a whole lot of luck. I am not sure just what I figured would happen if I did manage to find his location. Jan and I have tried to track down Dan O'Brien in the Rapid City area more than once without any luck. Anyway, we stopped for a break at a tree covered closed bridge over a creek. I was just going to get a picture of Jan framed in the trees when we heard a bike coming around the bend and he stopped and it is Pete Egan in the flesh. We introduced each other and invited us up to his garage for a Coke!! Jan and I spent at least an hour just hanging out and talking and meeting his lovely wife Barbara and her friend whose husband is an F-16 pilot with the Air Guard- they were going out on a bicycle ride- and another neighbor who just got back from Norway and his dogs. It seems like such an idyllic setting, a modest home and the garage that is smaller than I expected with his drum set right in the corner of the garage where I expected to find it, all of this along a tree covered back road in Wisconsin. I guess the part that really makes me smile when I think about it, is how relaxed we were just talking bikes and the 34 Ford he is working on. He intends with Barb to follow Bonnie and Clydes' routes probably as the basis for another book, in the same brand of car that they actually used at the time. We also discussed the amount of road work going on and he related that just getting home from the airport in Milwaukee had been tough the night before. He was returning home from covering a race in Las Vegas for Road and Track . You may notice a little hero worship here, but I think that he is the first person I have ever met of such national stature. This is a guy that has been to and written about all of the places that you read about in magazines. I guess the surprise is, how he is just like any other gear head that I have ever run across, except he has a real talent for writing. Eventually we had to head back to the trailer up at Oakdale and he mapped out a route on some nice roads. Quite an afternoon to say the least.

The rest of the trip was very good too. I think that I have told you that almost every road is paved in those hills, but we hit some exceptional ones this time, narrow tar roads winding through the trees, it reminded me of the Black Forest in Germany. And the Amish almost everywhere, with huge gardens and every thing being done by hand or horse power. You could always tell when you were in Amish country by the amount of fresh horse apples on the road. All in all a very fine several days in Oakdale, Wisconsin. Stay in touch and check it out sometime, I know that we will be back.

More Bucket list roads

As usual I have these photos in pretty much reverse order of when they were taken. Eli and I headed West one Thursday after he got off work in Worthington, dodging rainstorms, we ended up running across South Dakota on highway 44. This is the first time that I have actually made the trip from Sioux Falls to Rapid City on that road. Except for hitting heavy rain around the Badlands it was a nice trip on a quiet road. We spent the night in Rapid and headed up through the Hills the next morning. West of Edgemont we tried a "shortcut" on a back road and I got a little sideways in a soft spot. I managed not to dump it so no foul I guess. That pretty much set the tone for my sense of adventure for the rest of the trip. We spent a lot of time waiting in road construction zones between there and Laramie, but for the most part they were pleasant breaks by the side of the road. I wanted to take two passes west of Laramie and the pass over the Snowy Range- you can judge by the photos how true that was-had just been cleared. We spent that night in Saratoga, where the North Platte river was over it's banks and still rising. There are a couple of photos from there. The next morning we were going to head west over the next pass to Baggs, but he motel clerk said that they had not even started working on clearing that one. So, change of plans, we cruised up to Rawlins, Thermopolis, Ten Sleep canyon and Crazy Woman canyon, where one of the photos shows a babbling brook, so to speak. Coming out of the canyon on the east side of the Big Horns we outran another rain storm and stopped at Gillette for the night. The next morning we were going so well that we agreed to try for home after a detour through the Hills on back roads. Eli did some shopping at the Rochford Mall, which can be seen in a picture. We pushed on to the east and home for what seemed like an awfully long time, due to the high cross winds all of the way home, but we made it shortly after sundown. Not too bad, over 600 miles with stops in Rochford and Rapid City on the way. I have fallen way behind in my blogging and have one more to do covering a fabulous trip to Wisconsin that Jan and I just returned from. So there will be more in the future.