Scottsdale / Montrose
July 2002
Day 16


Sunday, July 15th, 2002
Start: Iowa City, Iowa
End: Dearborn, Michigan
491 Miles

In the morning, we just want to get home... We share a quick breakfast in the hotel lobby. We shower, and then load the bike while scanning the Weather Channel. Forecast is for good weather today, we should have clear sailing into Dearborn, Michigan.

At Sharon's insistence, we take the scenic route through Iowa City. Yes, there is a scenic route. It's not an official scenic route, basically we meander our way through an older section of town with grand old homes. I have no idea how the wealthy in Iowa City made their money, but the homes are nice.

Then it's back on I-80 eastbound, and watching the scenery go by. In Iowa, the scenery consists of large farms overlaid on a rolling landscape. It's pleasant, but not awe-inspiring like the Southwest. It's also too familiar, too much like the farms back home, to be really interesting to us. Iron the land out a bit, and it's just like Ohio or Indiana.

After 100 miles or so, we cross the Mississippi and enter Illinois. On the Illinois side of the river, we pull off into a roadside rest / park. The roadside rest is up on a bluff, overlooking the bridge and the river. The view is very scenic, with various types of ships and boats passing by now and then under the bridge, and auto traffic crossing above. Now and then you'd hear a Harley or a truck on the bridge, but most of the traffic passes in silence. We fill our water bladders, talk quietly about the view, and continue on.

Riding through Illinois eastbound on I-80, and the farms get smaller and closer together, the small towns more numerous, and the traffic more dense. We have lunch and fill the bike's fuel tank in Morris, Illinois; then we continue on to Chicago.

Chicago is a bit of a blur eastbound. We don't hit any construction snags, so it's relatively smooth sailing. But like always, it is busy - very busy. We jump onto I-94 eastbound after passing through Chicago, and continue into Michigan.

Shortly after crossing into Michigan, we stop at a roadside rest. While Sharon uses the restroom and collects pamphlets, I lay down in the grass under a tree near the bike. It's nice to be somewhere that you can simply lay down in the grass, without worrying about fire ants or scorpions or plants with thorns... Michigan is pretty much domesticated, especially compared to the Southwest.

Parked next to my bike is an early 1980s Yamaha Venture, and the left-hand saddlebag is leaking something. The owner comes out, I mention it to him, and he tells me its ice. For the beer. Do I want one? I ask if he has any cold pop, and the answer is no... I politely decline the beer.

We talk a bit. His Venture is in nice shape, low miles, and he loves it. It's amazing how many older bikes there are here in the north that never accumulate big miles due to the winter weather. Old bikes are much more rare in Phoenix than in Detroit or Chicago.

We continue west on I-94, grabbing a bite to eat in Paw Paw, Michigan at Coyote Creek. Just a bite, we want - no, we need - to be home tonight. No time to dawdle...

Back on I-94, and a couple miles later traffic comes to a crawl. There's a smell of paint, and as we move forward we get to see the problem. There's a pickup truck in the median, with a trailer behind. The trailer is twisted around, and there's paint scattered all about. There's rescue equipment there, and since traffic is moving we catch only that glimpse and whiff. We've no idea what happened, but we hope the driver is OK.

We continue on, with a pause to re-fuel the bike in Jackson.

I-94 through this area is normally boring for us, simply because it's so close to home. But having been gone for over two weeks, the familiar sights are welcome and noted. We pass Willow Run airport well outside Dearborn, then Detroit Metro at the edge of Dearborn. Exit Telegraph Rd. / US-24 northbound, and a few miles later we're at Sharon's home in Dearborn.

Entering Sharon's house, and her cats are about as affectionate as cats can be - which means they meow and rub against us a little bit more than normal. Either they missed us, or they're hungry. It's so hard to tell with cats...

We unload the bike and go to bed - I need to get up at 5:00 AM Monday morning in order to be at work at 7:30 AM; 95 miles away in Clyde, Ohio.

It's good to be home; or almost home in my case...

Doug Grosjean
Pemberville, Ohio