After I had a couple days to come to terms with the news of my Nana suddenly passing away, some decisions had to be made. Depending when the funeral was depended on our mode of transportation, we could fly back to Manitoba, spend a couple days with family and fly back to Florida, or we could ride…
Not feeling so good after a fun night a Chit Chat`s, with Dory fixing us all the shooters and all, we went to the IHOP to see if that would help our heads and stomachs. We decided to ride back to Kissimmee and wait to hear when Nana`s funeral was for sure, this way if we needed to we could fly from Orlando. We chose to take the same route home as it was quiet, not much traffic and given the state of both of us we needed to be extra careful today. We geared up and headed out, the sky looked fine as we were leaving Pompano Beach, about 10 minutes heading west, out of no where it started POURING rain! It rained so hard, so fast that we were riding in puddles and when we stopped at a red light out boots were also in puddles of water. We were in the left turning lane, sitting at a red light, goggles completely fogged up, so were on our foreheads, our light turned green and at the exact same moment that happened, thunder cracked and lightening struck a transformer to the left of us! Talk about scaring the shit right out of ya, Holy Shit, the sound, the illuminating explosion, the down pour of rain, our brains were in total shock of what the hell just happened! We put it in gear and slowly turned the corner, both of us completely drenched after 15 minutes of riding and wondering what kind of ride back to Kissimmee are we going to have? We rode for another 15 or 20 minutes and decided to pull under a covered gas station, get fuel and perhaps wait out the rain. Talking to some locals they say this type of rain happens often and usually lasts 10-60 minutes, so we figured it must be close to being done, well we sure hoped it was. Troy started his bike up and pulled away, I on the other hand couldn’t get my bike to start. WTH?? We were tired, wet, frustrated, hung over and still in a state of shock about Nana, neither one of us said much to one another. Troy turned around and parked close to me, in the middle of the covered gas station, he couldn’t get my bike to start either. We both thought maybe that transformer that blew, shorted out my FOB, we couldn’t figure it out, and the sad part about this, is that both our backup FOB’s were in Kissimmee. Troy had to move his bike and he went to start it and it wouldn’t start.. NOW REALLY WTH??
After a couple tries he got it going, parked it away from the covered gas station, he walked back to my bike and me, I said maybe we should push my bike out of the covered gas station and see what happens.. Troy(my knight in shining armor) pushed my bike out and fired it right up!
Obviously with all the electrical storms, the covered gas station was interfering with our FOB’s, at this point the rain let up.. a bit, we thanked everyone we had cursed and started to ride, still in the rain.
We didn’t take many pictures or video this day, we took our time, tracing out route home to Kissimmee. Troy passed a milestone with his mileage, 49,999km, Woo Hoo!! The rain stopped less than half way back, at least it was a warm rain and by the time we got back to Kissimmee, we were almost dry, still tired, exhausted and thankful we made it. We unpacked our gear, got into the house and another loud crack of thunder and the down pour began, again, at least we were home and inside!
We found out the funeral was going to be on Tuesday July 26th(today is July 21), Thank you Nana for giving us enough time that we could ride back to Manitoba. We did our laundry for the last time for a few days, returned our friends house we stayed at back to it’s original decor, and went to bed.
1st day, 900km, Central Florida to Northern Georgia
We left Kissimmee bright and early, saying good bye to our “home away from home”, we fired up the GPS and got ourselves onto the Interstate as fast as we could. We needed to stay on the Interstate as much as possible to make the miles, we wanted to be as safe as possible so we traveled at a steady 120km/hr, stopping every 90 mins for gas or walk or a break. As the day passed the temperature rose, we had access to water bottles as we were riding, but they sure didn’t stay cool for long! It is Friday about 5 o’clock and guess where we are riding through, Atlanta Georgia, traffic is bumper to bumper and thankfully it started to rain on us. We are serious about thankfully feeling the rain, it was so hot, the rain was refreshing!! It look us a lot longer than we thought to get around Atlanta, we made it through and pushed on as far as we could. We got to Calhoun Georgia, found a Days Inn for $65, had a Mexican restaurant attached to it and few other bikes parked outside! We parked our bikes infront of our room, my cell phone rang, it was my Uncle Neil asking me if I would like to do Nana’s Eulogy? What an honor, I told him I would love to and since I had 3 more days of quiet time, I would be able to write it in my head! Cold beer, cool shower and hot Mexican food, didn’t take us long to fall asleep tonight.
2nd Day, 1033km, Northern Georgia to Northern Missouri
Up at the crack of dawn, almost rested, we fueled up and starting our morning ride off with the dew and fog. It was a bit chilly this morning, kind of neat to see the morning fog rising, and also the day we are going to ride through some of the states we have been excited to see. Calhoun is 40 miles south of the Tennessee, we had no idea what we were about to see, we can only describe it as pure beauty, WOW! We know we will be back to spend a great deal of time in Tennessee and Kentucky, the terrain is breath taking and we rode in awe and smiled the whole way. We also found fellow riders were the friendliest in these 2 states, or maybe it was us that was more friendly!! We got a chuckle out of how many Tennessee and Kentucky state line sign we saw, as we crossed back and forth a couple times! Again it was a HOT day, we continued with our speed limit and making 90 minute stops, not many pee breaks as we were pretty much sweating any form of liquid! We crossed into Missouri, mid day, well over 105 F, excited about crossing the Mississippi River so we can say the famous line from Vacation “it doesn’t matter what exit we take as long as we get across the river” and sing Chevy Chase’s version of “DEEP RIBER”! We never stop at the road side turn outs for a rest, but today Troy put his blinker on to pull in. We both were almost out of water, and some shade would be a good idea to give our heads a break. We stretched, walked and sat in the SHADE, filled our water up and talked about what is the best route to get through St.Louis. Another biker pulled in shortly after us, he wandered over and we asked him if he was from around here and what was the best way to get through St.Louis. He looked at us and grinned, he said “You guys aren’t thinking of going through St.Louis are ya”? “No offense but you guys probably won’t make it”! SO which we promptly asked, well how do we get to the other side. He told us he lived on the east side of the Mississippi and would take us the by pass route, safer route, the route to the other side. Every thing happens for a reason,we were very grateful for new friend to show up!
Like we knew what we were doing, we followed our rider friend until his exit, we carried on, like 2 little kids, anxious to get our picture taken with the Mississippi River sign, we stopped at the first sign, pulled over on the narrow narrow shoulder and snapped our picture. We got back on our bikes wondering why they didn’t have a bigger shoulder for pictures, well we found out why, another mile up the road was the actual Mississippi River sign, the one we took a picture with was the Mississippi Rest Area sign DUH!! Either way we rode over the Mississippi River Bridge, hotter than ever and it begins to rain, this time not cooling us off so much as the water was very warm, even hotter bouncing off our engines and pipes! We got fuel and phoned ahead for a hotel room in the city we thought we could ride to, only 100 miles away, the clouds were building up to the west and oh look we are heading west. For every mile we don’t put on today is another one tomorrow, let’s suck it up and ride for 100 miles! The rain didn’t pour on us, but showers off and on just to tease us, you know for shits and giggles! We got to our hotel room, needing to do laundry something bad, sweaty jeans after a couple days can pretty much ride on their own! What we learned once we got checked into the hotel was Columbia Missouri was home to the State Summer Games, we were lucky to find a hotel room and even luckier if we get access to the one and only laundry service before 1am!
Nothing cold beer, cool shower and hot pizza wont’ fix, we met our neighbors, got comfy outside our hotel room, comparing US and Canada, sharing stories and patiently waiting for the laundry to be free.
3rd Day, 866km, Northern Missouri to Southern South Dakota
9am, 99F, we are hot and sweaty before we are out of the gate. Neighbors warned us of the forecast, rain to the North West of Columbia, well what the heck would a day be without a sprinkle of rain we said!!
Feeling a little rough around the edges from our friendly neighbors last night, we rode for a couple hours but wanting a much needed stop for some hang over food! One would think we would learn!! We stopped at St.Joseph for a greasy breakfast, and debated whether we head east for a few miles to get a picture of the Kansas State Line Sign, knowing we had too many miles to go we voted to do it next time. We are heading North west on I29, what a shock we got on I29! We knew nothing of the kind of the massive amounts of land covered in water, the flooding went on and on and on. We heard of the North Dakota flooding but not one sniff of this area! We are educated now on the flooding as we took many a detours around it, sometimes as far as 40-50 miles one way and then to come back that 40-50 miles. And did we mention how hot it still was, I, being Angela, absolutely love the heat and it was getting a bit much for me! We did see a sign that said “Des Moines Iowa”, where our beautiful new friend Melissa is from, we did wave at the sign as we were passing! The detours, the sand bags, the barricades went on for miles, and of course don’t forget the early morning rain, someone enjoyed playing with the tap today too!! We drove past the South Dakota State sign in Sioux Falls, due to tiredness we didn’t turn around, we found a room, calculated we had just shy of 1000km to do tomorrow. Nana’s viewing was at 7pm tomorrow night, we wanted to get there early enough to shower and peel our sweaty riding clothes off. I see a pattern here, cold beer, cool shower, hot food and bed! Good night all!
4th Day, 997km, South South Dakota to “HOME” Lyleton Manitoba
We are on the home stretch, getting closer to Canada, it was quite a bit cooler this morning, so long sleeves and light jacket are required. We were on the road very early, and it didn’t take us long to stop to add more layers. I was quite cold, although it did keep me wide awake. We were able to stop and get a picture at the North Dakota border, which was great, due to not being able to find one when we crossed into ND on Day2. WOW being in North Dakota feels so close to home, we even passed by Brandt ND, which is my son’s name, never knew it existed before. We stopped at Grand Forks to buy clothes for the funeral, less than 400 miles to go, we grabbed a 5 hour energy and a hot dog! The temperature started warming up, a few layers taken off and the sun was shining on us, Nana leading us home.
We came up through Westhope ND, where more of the devastating flooding occurred, WOW still so much water! We arrived at the Coulter Canadian Border crossing, spent as little as 5 minutes there and rode onto Canadian soil. Of course stopped to put on our helmets and ride that last 20 miles with excitement and sadness. We arrived at the place my family was staying at 5:30, time to have a cold beer, a cool shower and head to Nana’s viewing.
What an experience, a endurance test and journey we had, so many miles, states, weather changes, people and fuel prices, it felt like it was a lot longer than 4 days! We are happy to made it and we get to see my boys and all my family!