Sunday, June 1, 2008

Road Trippin' (Finis)

The Memorial Day Journey? Most excellent!

We cut out of the EC around noon on Saturday. Here's Brother, Fahjah and I prior to departure.

We traveled through an area known as "The Cut" just outside of Mindoro. Very scenic and VERY twisty. There's no way to describe it, so check out this video of some Harley dudes cruising through it. About 2 minutes in, you'll see "The Cut," which is two soaring stone walls on either side of the road.

Stole this excerpt from an internet article:

Imagine what it was like, though, before the gas engine and rubber-tired horsepower came along to ease the climb. A century ago this path was so steep that wagons hauling cargo to and from the cooperative creamery in Mindoro, over the uppermost point on Phillips Ridge in country where up and down are as linked as black and white on the dairy cows all around, took a longer alternate route. If horses had been spurred up the ridge, they certainly would have said neigh.

To get a better connector between the creamery and the railroad station at West Salem, then, area farmers and county officials decided to dig the ridge down, low enough and wide enough for a narrow two-lane passage, still steep and winding but manageably so. Dig down they did, through hard rock with the help of only wheelbarrows and hand tools for the most part, 74 feet down, 25 feet wide and 86 feet long.

The second highlight of the trip was Wildcat Mountain State Park. While Brother and I had ridden through the Cut before, Fahjah had not, and we were ALL new to Wildcat. Another fun ride. This park is on Hwy 33, about a half hour outside of Richland Center.

More video of the Harley dudes through Wildcat.

A pit stop in Richland Center.

Frank Lloyd Wright was born in Richland Center on June 8, 1867. A building he designed still stands downtown...the A.D. German Warehouse.

We finally got into the NW 'burbs of Chicago around 10pm. It was about 10 hours but the route we took broke up the ride and a handful of stops kept us from getting too sore.

Brother and I found luxury accommodations at Hotel Joy...and we spent some quality time with hotel mascot, Zip-Loc (okay, the dog's name is Sadie, but I like Zip-Loc better).

We were treated to a gourmet sushi meal in Bartlett (yes, Tom actually eats sushi now) and a nostalgic scoop of Mint Chocolate Chip and Rocky Road ice cream from Baskin Robbins. Thanks for the quality hospitality, Auntie!

We spent Sunday evening with the Auntie and our favorite cousins, Heb and Beefcake. After parking the bikes for the night, we indulged in Beefcake's collection of home-brewed beer. Delish! And we tortured Heb about her date that night. Delightful! Also, a junebug landed on my aunt and I watched with evil enjoyment while she shrieked, "Get it off me! Get it off!" Then I saved her and flicked it off her arm. I'm sure she's grateful. No thanks necessary. :)

Monday, we made our way to East Dundee for a Memorial Day ceremony at the cemetery where my Uncle Dan is buried. This was the main reason for our trip down. He fought in Vietnam and returned to marry and raise a family, but he succumbed to cancer 10 years ago. His widow, my Aunt Armadillo, came up with a fitting day of reflection, grateful appreciation and BBQ!

We thought it was only fair to head out to Hillside and visit my grandparent's graves as well. My grandfather served in World War II. I swear, the silk flowers were not put there by any of us. They were sitting on Grandma's gravestone when we got there and it looks like they had blown off a nearby grave ornament. Cool if you ask me. Also, Aunt Pat? Evidence that your quarter went where you intended. :)

The day we went to the grave sites, it was in the 80's. Our trip home on Tuesday? 44 DEGREES. Thankfully, it wasn't long before it warmed up to a "balmy" 60 or so. The rest of the ride was as enjoyable as the voyage to Illinois.

Another 10 hour trip and we were home safely.

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