I feel that I have the time and the patience to only do this by breaking it down into parts. Part One: Eastward- Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana
My original plan to leave at 'the crack of dawn' on Tuesday fell by the wayside, and I didn't find myself leaving Madison until past 2:30 PM (grad school all-nighter the previous night, plus pointless new show on Netflix kept me up a second night). I secured the pack using some bungee cords, met up Badgerina for coffee and solemn goodbyes, and set off east. Sport-touring R3!
Since I started out so late, I thought I would camp at Pokagon State Park in Angola, Indiana, where the lady and I had spent a night before and for a camping newbie, this seemed ideal. The ride was going well, though I kept fretting about the stability of the pack behind me, and hoping that the R3 was happy 'cruising' above 9000 rpm. For some reason, my secondary helmet (a newer Bell RS1) that I chose instead of my older, more worn Bell Star, because it would be quieter, kept hurting the back of my neck, and the pain wouldn't subside all of my way east. I also noticed 'OIL' blinking on the dash, and considering I'd just changed it the night before, I was mostly certain that I'd messed something up, and that I was going to be found on the side of the highway with a horribly-seized R3. This feeling kept gnawing me in the head all day and the next. I kept stopping and periodically checking the oil level. With that, I finally began to get in the stride of the ride, or so I thought, until I hit Chi-town at rush-hour. I had no idea what I was getting myself into in the Land of Lincoln
Sweet Home Chicago? I think not...
I literally (the way this word is supposed to be used) spent two hours going through Chicago, thanks to my impeccable planning skills. I have seen snails move at a faster pace than what I was doing through that mad melt of humanity and hot engine. I cursed myself, yelled inside my helmet at unseen and un-prayed gods, dropped innumerable unmouthables at the good people of Chicago and their pleasant town, and I was a broken, hot, stinky, tired man by the time I got out of there and trundled towards Indiana. My original plan of riding till Angola, IN now seemed extremely ambitious, and had to be curtailed. So I settled on another state park (Kankakee River State Park) that was about an hour out of my way. Or so I thought.
Apple Maps mysteriously led me, in the fast setting sun, to La Salle State Fish and Wildlife area, where I was flummoxed to find no signs of any campsites. Without getting shot mistaken for a juicy venison bit on a bike (I would have nibbled on Steve Jobs' neck in heck had I gotten shot that evening), I asked a kindly local for help, and he pointed me to Willow Slough that was further south. Alright, change in plans, and game on.
The mess I made of the route
After further bolstering of directions at a local gas station, I felt emboldened and left. It was now getting pitch dark and was getting hard to make out road signs. I kept seeing the gleaming eyes of a rodent from time to time, and kept puckering up when I saw the curious faces of deer along the side of the road. I went south on 41 and turned west on W 100N, which is arrow straight and scary at night. It was a gravelly bit of road with many houses, and each randomly placed streetlight tricking you into thinking that you were at the camp offices. A dark banner told me Willow Slough was close, so I kept going. I finally saw a bar, a Harley, and two dudes hanging out. I approached them and was welcomed by the aroma of a pungent light beer that these gentlemen seemed to wear like a thick shawl over them. I asked for camp directions and they kindly told me how to get there. Feeling excited, I obliged, and minutes later, I made it to the site, just off of JC Murphey Lake. The offices were closed, so I figured I'd tent up and pay in the morning before I left. Or so I thought... Innuendo in Indiana
I wasn't alone at the campsite, and minutes after I'd disembarked, I was approached by another beer-aroma-for-shawl-wearing heavier-set man that kindly invited me to the fire that him and his buddy had made. I said I'd pop over after pitching my tent. I was honestly so tired that I crawled in after getting everything together, chatted with Badgerina, and decided to turn in. It was a little past midnight.
I had a few issues falling asleep. It was really hot and muggy in the tent, thanks to being brand new and a rain fly that wouldn't fold, and it got cramped in there once I decided to bring my gear in (leather jacket, helmet, gloves, water bottle, etc.). My biggest problem, however, were the two locals, whose mild campfire conversation was now getting very boisterous with quite a bit of 'rich language' thrown in. Yes, we were the only people in that park. I had worrying premonitions of 'squeal piggy, squeal', so I packed everything in a frenzy, hoping that I didn't miss anything in the night, got on the bike and rushed for freedom from being the unwilling recipient of potential unpleasant bondage acts.
Disclaimer: For my sake, and for the most of humanity, I'd like to think that the two guys were just nice people that didn't mean any harm. I wasn't approached a second time. I felt really unsafe and decided I'd rather take my chances back on the road, rather than in a cramped tent. I harbor no ill feelings towards the good people of Indiana (except for Mike Pence, maybe).
I got back on godforsaken 100N, and rode on for dear life. The air was now thick with dense fog, and the gravel had not disappeared in the previous hour. My visor was fogging up as well, and the kamikaze insects that had bravely laid down their lives on it, added to my visibility issues. To reiterate my brilliance in planning, I'd forgotten to pack my jacket liner, so now it was pretty chilly, too. Brilliant, badger!
I made it to I80, and at 1:30-ish AM, checked into a Days Inn in Portage, IN (I will not recommend this to anyone) that reeked of cigarette smoke and prostitution. I plugged my nose and turned in for the night, dispelling disappointment of the lack of a romantic moto-camping adventure with relief that I avoided getting violated.
Stay tuned to find out if badger makes it out of Indiana. What will happen to him in Ohio? Will he finally get to experience twisties in his beloved Pennsylvania (well, 'beloved' may be a strong word here)?