Day 14 – June 1, 2010


I left Gary and Nancy's house just before 5:00 AM.  It was a very light traffic time of day for the upper Chicago area.  I pushed my bike around the corner before I fired it up just like the last time I left their house at 5:00 am.  Only this time I had a cup of coffee before leaving, (unlike last time, sorry Nancy)!  It was a very peaceful ride while seeing a bright orange ball slowly coming up to my right as I rode North through Wisconsin. The day was beautiful and the Ratbike is running great at 80+ mph.

A gas stop and right back on the bike for a few fuel runs. I took my leathers off around noon at the next gas stop, and shortly after that the sky was getting very black.  It was still quite warm when it began to rain.  I kept going for a few miles and when I figured that it was not going to be letting up soon, I pulled over and put on the rain gear.  About 10 more miles of rain it was not raining as much.  I just passed Fairmont, Minnesota, and was getting closer to Worthington, when I (unwisely) said, "at least make it worth me having to put on the rain gear."  Wrong thing to say!  The skies let it all dump down at once and it looked like flash floods on the highway.  The wind came next and was blowing me and the Ratbike everywhere.  I went from the right side of the slow lane to the left side of the fast lane in about two seconds and it wanted to keep pushing me into the median at 60 mph.  When I finally powered back to the slow lane, I was looking for a place to get off the highway.  In Southern Minnesota, there are long stretches of nowhere to go.  An overpass was finally in sight.  When I got closed to it, I could see a few bikes already there.  Another bike pulled in shortly after I did.  A pickup truck pulling an orange and black Harley colored trailer, stopped to see if we needed any help.  He even offered to let some of us sit in his truck to try to wait it out.  He said it's real nasty out there. YA THINK?  We declined and thanked him and he drove on.

The wind was coming straight out of the west pushing rain and debris along very rapidly. Compared to the cars going east, we assumed the wind was 50 or 60 mph.  It's a wonder my bike didn't get blown over.  We were standing behind the concrete posts to keep from falling down ourselves.  After about 20 minutes or so, I was the first one to get back on and ride away.  I pulled over for gas about 10 miles later and made quite a muddy mess walking to the restroom inside.  When I walked out I saw just how bad it really was.  I apologized quite a bit and the gal said to not worry about it, that it looks like I have enough to deal with as it is.  A few more miles down the road, I went by another overpass with one of the same bikes under it.  I waved as I rode by.  The next over pass had another of the bikes under it too.

I had to try to make it to Mitchell, South Dakota, to meet my sister, Cynthia and her husband Randy and Randy's brother Lloyd and his wife Tina, by 3:00.  I took a good look at a motel a few more miles down the road, but kept pushing onward.  The wind was bad, but not as bad as a little while back.  I made it to the South Dakota border about 1:30 or so and got gas again.  Sioux Falls was next and I figured I didn't have much farther to go.  Wrong, Mitchell was more than another hour farther West.  When I finally got to a gas station in Mitchell, I called Sis to get directions to Pat and Darwin's.  I finally punched the address in to my GPS and went right there.  It was right at 3:00!

Once again, timing is everything.  Not bad for being on the road since 5:00 AM, with another degree of difficulty thrown in with the weather.  We visited with Pat and Darwin, who have been family friends forever, for about a half hour.  We then went another 30 or so more miles to Woonsocket, where Mom was from.  Dad was from Forestburg, another small town a few miles away.  We got to Jerome (my cousin) and Leslie's beautiful new home for an impromptu family reunion.  Another cousin, Kenneth, who lives next door, came over with his gal friend, Velma too.  His son, Ken, who I met in Council Bluffs, Iowa last week, showed up from Nebraska with his wife, Jean and their daughter, Sydney.  Ken went in the house and called the local newspaper and ask a gal to come over and told her that she would get a "news worthy story" of me and the Ratbike being in town.  Another cousin, Georgia, and her friend Terry, were there as well.  Pat and Darwin showed up as well as Jim and Cathy who are more family friends.  I was named after my dad's oldest brother, Milo Anderson, who was born in 1900. Bernice, who is one of the two daughters that is Milo's offspring, was there with her husband Frenchie too.  I saw her sister, Babe, in 97 when we drove through on a family vacation.  I feel a real close connection to both of them and they do with me too.  Uncle Milo had two daughters, and I have two daughters.

Kenneth asked me to take him for a ride down main street, Woonsocket.  I took him around a couple of corners to a mostly deserted main street.  He said everyone is in the bar this at time of evening.  We went back to Jerome's home and dinner was almost ready.  There was plenty of food and desert for all.  We all had an extremely good time together with a lot of stories and laughter.  I was told there are a lot more relatives around and the Anderson's are almost always a loud and (happy) bunch.  After more conversation we finally went to bed around 10:00 or so.  We are to meet at the restaurant at 8:00 tomorrow morning as Jerome was buying.  All the wild weather that I had to go through was worth being there as we had a great time together.....