Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 4 Wednesday, June 29, 2011

North Sioux City, South Dakota to Pierre, South Dakota
Miles Traveled Today: 349.0
Total Miles: 1497.6

Today started out much better than yesterday. We headed back across the river to Sioux City and visited the Sgt. Floyd Monument. He was the only individual to die on the original expedition. We believe today that he died from appendicitis, and at that time he could not have been saved no matter where he would have been, even Washington, D.C.

To think that all the rest of the Corps of Discovery made it back is unbelieveable. "All the stars aligned for them," is how Jeff put it today. "If another group had tried to do that, they would have been killed by the Indians." The best part of the 100 foot obelisk monument was on a plaque. It stated simply, "Graves of such men are pilgrim shrines, shrines to no class or creed confined ." God bless our troops.

The ride that followed was long and hot. By the time we reached Pierre the heat index was 101 degrees, so we all got some sun today. All along the Missouri we saw more flooding, including the Nebraska/South Dakota border near Yankton. They had all the spillways open, and a number of homes were at risk of flooding.

Bikers know that part of the ride is the scenery, but another thing that we seem to notice is the smell. Being on a bike allows the pleasant, and unpleasant, odors to reach the nose immediately. From the skunks, garbage trucks, and livestock to fresh cut hay, clover, lilacs, and all those smells near the water, we ran the gamut the last two days. Being out in nature allows for so much discovery, good or bad.

Some of the views were pretty spectacular. Looking down from the hills around Chamberlain, SD, we ran alongside the Missouri for a number of miles. Then we drove away from the river, and the land became desolate, but still beautiful. Sometimes we would see a herd of cattle and realize that 200 years ago there were no fences, and those animals would have been bison. That would have been quite a sight.

We'll finish with a little humor today, very little. There was a huge bull standing in the corner of a field near SD 34. The rest of the herd was on the other end of the field a few hundred yards away. It looked odd, as if  he had been placed there because he had done something wrong. As teachers, it looked like he had been put in a timeout, probably because he was being a bull-y. You may groan now.

Day 3 Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Oak Grove, Missouri to North Sioux City, South Dakota
Miles Traveled Today: 397.0
Total Miles: 1148.6

Today was about detours and diesel fuel. The day started out beautifully.The weather was not a factor at all. Sunny and high 70s to low 80s with no humidity. Unfortunately when we filled up with gas first thing in the morning, somebody chose to put diesel in two of the bikes. Now everyone needs a little grease in them from from time to time, but a Harley-Davidson motorcycle would disagree. Smoke just poured out of the exhaust. Think how grease burns and you will understand what placing diesel fuel in a Harley will do. We will let you decide who made that mistake. It's not who you think. Then again, it might be. Fortunately Blue Springs Harley-Davidson was just down the road, so we had the tanks drained and refueled, and away we went.

Made it to Nebraska City, where a Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center was waiting. This one was completely different from the other sites, but it did have a keel boat out front. We were actually able to walk aboard this one.

The LCIC focused on the plant and animal discoveries made by Lewis and Clark, 300 to be exact. The center was very children friendly, including the entire downstairs. As you can see, we enjoyed the children's area...maybe a little too much. Those are prairie dog holes for you that are wondering.

We were also able to go on our first hike down to an overlook. Could not believe the flooding of the Missouri. In the foreground of the one picture is the main channel of the river, and the other zooms in on a semi on I-29, miles away. Incredible. It was an omen of things to come.

From that point on it seemed we were on detours. We went 75 miles more than anticipated and saw many area where the floodwaters almost reached the roads we were running. Highway 75 along the west bank was the main road for most of the journey, but we ended up much farther west a couple of times. At least one of the detours had some great roller coaster hills, but the detours seemed to go on forever. It was late when we pulled in to camp about 8:00. That's a long day on a bike, especially when a little diesel fuel is mixed in.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Day 2 Monday, June 27, 2011

Camp Dubois, Illinois to Oak Grove, Missouri
Miles Traveled Today: 291.9
Total miles: 751.6

Motorcycle riders know that sometimes it's the destination that creates anticipation, but usually it's the ride. Today was about the ride.

We made only one stop, at the Lewis and Clark Boathouse and Museum in St. Charles, Missouri. There a 55 foot replica of the keel boat and 2 pirogues (large canoes with sails) were in the boathouse. Unfortunately they were not on display, so we could not even take pictures of them. Instead we were relegated to photographing the models inside the museum.

The lifesize replicas actually were used during the bicentennial celebration of Lewis and Clark from 2003-06.

The museum had some awesome dioramas of scenes from the entire journey.

They also had Clark's ancestry (8 generations) to the present day. He has quite a legacy, including a number of boys with the last name Clark that could continue his family tree. The final item that was of great interest was a model display that shows how the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers form islands, sand bars, channels, and all the other features of a major river. We were so engrossed with the video and model, photographs were forgotten. Looks like it would be a great science and/or geography lab.

That was the destination, but the ride today was the real highlight. Didn't start that way though. About 3 a.m. a storm rolled through the St. Louis area, woke us up, and caused us to have a late start this morning. Usually we are on the road by 8, but packing in the rain and preparing to ride takes more time. With a late start, and driving in a downpour, it did not look like a fun day was to be had.

We reached the museum safely in about half an hour. Then we found out it did not open until 10, so we had to wait around. Then, after the tour, we grabbed breakfast, which turned out to be lunch because the restaurant wasn't open yet either, so we waited around again. Thankfully, by noon we were finished eating, and, yes, the skies had cleared. Good thing, too.

The road we traveled from St. Charles to Jefferson City is Missouri Hwy. 94. As Jeff said, "A biker who wanted to build a road would build one like this one." Twisties and turns, chicanes and a few switchbacks, and tons of hills awaited us. If it had been raining, this road would have been absolutely treacherous. Lucky for us it was dry and sunny...for the time being. It was hot and humid too, nearing 90 degrees. When we applied for the grant to take this journey, we noted that we wanted to experience all the types of weather and environmental factors. Well, be careful what you wish for. You just might get it. We did.

For the wine lovers out there, this road also travels through the heart of Missouri wine country. Vineyards seem to come around every corner. Being on the bikes, we chose not to partake. There is some interesting history there, however. It seems the French wine industry had to use grapes from Missouri because all of their vineyards were hit by disease or insects and were wiped out. Missouri's vineyards saved them. The plants here are much more resistant than those in Europe. Maybe that expensive bottle of French wine you bought originally came from the heart of America.

The last part of the ride was a race against the weather, as it was clouding up in the west. As we came closer to our camp, the sky grew more ominous. Just before we arrived, Poof! The clouds disappeared, and we arrived dry and happy.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Day 1 Sunday, June 26, 2011

Friendship, Wisconsin to Camp Dubois, aka Camp Wood, in Hartford, Illinois
Miles Traveled Today: 459.7
Total Miles: 459.7

The Corps of Discovery II left this morning at 6:00 a.m. There was an air of excitement as we departed. Excitement because we were about to follow in the path of two of America's greatest heroes, who had put their lives on the line to explore our country. Lewis and Clark have inspired adventurers for 200 years to push themselves to the limits of human endurance and perseverance.

Unfortunately, there was a real sadness as well. Yesterday, our town of Adams-Friendship laid to rest another true American hero, Private First Class Ryan Larson. Ryan was killed in the line of duty in Afghanistan on June 15, 2011. He served our country to insure the freedom we enjoy, and he sacrificed his life so that Americans might be able to undertake a journey such as ours with the knowledge that we live in a country where we can enjoy such blessings. We have decided as a group to honor him by dedicating this trip to his memory. Rest in peace, Ryan.

The trip today was not very awe-inspiring. The weather was great, with mostly cloudy skies and pleasant temperatures that reached into the 80s as we neared Camp Dubois. Since the entire trip down was expressway through the flat lands of Illinois, most motorcycling enthusiasts would be bored to tears. We were.

Finally, we reached our camp around 1:30, dropped our gear, and headed to Camp Dubois. There we found a museum with a replica fort. Inside the museum was a 55 foot replica keel boat that was cut down the center lengthwise to enable visitors to see how everthing was stored on the boat.

The fort itself is not in the actual location from 200 years ago. We discovered that the channels of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers have moved 4 miles since then, so the actual site is now probably underwater.

The event we enjoyed most was climbing to the top of the 150 foot Confluence Tower. From the top we could see where the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers flow together. This is considered the point of departure for the original Corps of Discovery. Our campsite tonight lies 3 miles south, so this turns out to be our departure point for new roads never before traveled.

Both Lewis and Clark and our group have one thing in common. They were impatient to head out on their exploration. So are we. Tomorrow should bring plenty of fun and adventure.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Entire Corps of Discovery II

Here is the entire group that will be making this trip:
(L-R) DeAnn Timm, Paul Timm, Ginny Fritz, Jeff Fritz

Only 6 more days until departure.