Rendezvous Run Day 4: End of the Road

And then there were two. Last night after a long day on the road, while we were eating a very late supper and enjoying a few cold beers, our friend Eddie suggested that he might opt to get up early and head for home, leaving my son John and me to take our time and enjoy riding together. John and I were both fine with that suggestion and I was pretty sure the following morning would play out exactly that way. I was quite right. 

When Eddie’s text came in the early hours, confirming that he was indeed on his way, I rolled over and let John know. The kid looked so tired, as if he had still been riding all night, so I suggested we sleep a bit longer. John seemed to like that idea, so we killed our respective cell phone alarms and fell back asleep. I woke up a while later and began my morning ritual— shaving, etc.—periodically checking on my son, who continued to sleep. Only after I emerged from a long, hot shower did my son once again show signs of life. 

“Hey, Pop.”

“Yes, Son?”

“I guess I really needed that sleep!”

” I know.”

We didn’t even make it downstairs in time for the hotel’s complimentary breakfast, but we didn’t care. We ate granola bars and leftovers from the night before right in our room, while we talked and laughed about all manner of things. 

We picked up more sunblock and looked, unsuccessfully, for a set of headlamp bulbs for my bike. Then we hit the road heading east from Lincoln, knowing in advance that with such a late start, I might or might not be able to continue home after John stopped in Rock Island, his final destination for the day. 

Once again there were no touristy stops today, but we hit the jackpot once again when John chose The Corn Crib, in Shelby, Iowa as our lunch stop. Nothing fancy, just a mom-and-pop restaurant with home-style food and a convenience store inside and a BP fuel center outside. Try the hot beef sandwich. You will thank me. 

There is an unwritten (until now) rule of motorcycle touring that whenever two or more bikes are traveling together, the group must pace itself for the least experienced rider, the slowest bike/operator, and the smallest gas tank. My son has ridden more miles than a lot of people who have been riding for many more years, so while I would not call John an expert in proficient motorcycling, inexperience is not a concern. His 750cc motorcycle, however, is on the small side by today’s standards, especially for touring. I had to laugh the other night when John informed me that when fully loaded, his bike is not capable of speeding on the interstate highways of Wyoming. And while my ocean liner of a bike can run between 175 and 225 miles on a tank of gas, John’s gas tank is generally good for 100–130 miles. What does all this mean? We really didn’t exceed today’s 65–75 mph speed limits by very much and we stopped for gas every 100 miles or so. 

We picked up some rush hour congestion when we passed through Des Moines. Traffic was heavy, but moving. Then a little ways east of Des Moines, not the middle of nowhere, but definitely out of the city proper, everything came to a grinding halt. After spending miles and miles in stop-and-go traffic, mostly stopped, with the hot sun beating on us and substantial engine heat rising up from between our respective legs, we came upon an accident clean-up scene involving at least one well-smooshed car and some broken glass and bits of automotive debris strewn across one lane. After that it was smooth sailing, but time-wise, my chances of getting all the way home before dark had been reduced to zero.

And so the Rendezvous Run concluded in Rock Island this evening. I got myself a decent single room near the airport in Moline, sent John off to be with his best friends, who had been anticipating his arrival all week (and with whom he will be living while working for the Mississippi Bend Players this summer), picked up some food and drink to enjoy in my room, cleaned and covered my bike for the night, and settled in to share my day with you.

A few closing thoughts… Some road trips are about the destination(s), others about the journey. In the case of some road trips, the opportunity to travel a specific road can indeed be the destination. The Rendezvous Run wasn’t about destinations, although we truly enjoyed many of our stops along the way, nor was it about spectacular motorcycle roads, though we did manage to take in some very pleasant scenery and even a bit of wildlife. I set up the Rendezvous Run to do one thing. All I wanted to do was meet up (i.e. to rendezvous) with my son John as he rode across the western US from Portland and then ride with him to his destination, Rock Island, Illinois. Based on that sole objective, I’d say we were successful, even though I have not yet gotten home myself. 

It’s been a great run. Thanks for coming along!

Epic Journey Day Nine — Farewell to Portland

This was our day of departure from Portland, but we still had one more touristy thing to do with John before we said our goodbyes and headed toward home. Multnomah Falls is an incredibly popular 611-foot waterfall, one of several found along the Columbia River Gorge. A paved hiking trail leads up to a picturesque bridge from which visitors enjoy taking photos of the falls and of one another. That same trail also leads to the top of the falls, but we didn’t go that far up. 

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This video doesn’t exist
​The views are well worth the climb, to say nothing of the long wait for parking, which is limited relative to demand. 

After viewing the falls, we got a table inside the Multnomah Falls Lodge Restaurant. I had it on good authority that their Fish ‘n Chips are awesome. That turned out to be completely true. They use wild-caught Alaskan cod and it is quite delicious. But then so is the Flatiron Steak Salad. 

Once lunch was over with, we spent some time in the gift shop, took a few final photos, and then followed John out to Interstate 84 and to a gas station where everyone fueled up or topped off before saying goodbye. Then two motorcycles and the chase van went east on 84. One motorcycle went west, back to Portland proper. It was three in the afternoon. 

I could not get over how quickly green gave way to brown as we followed 84 along the Hood River, but that’s exactly what happened. The temps went up, too. My bike’s onboard thermometer read 102 at the warmest point, but I attributed a couple or three degrees to engine heat. 

We rolled on, mile after mile, down I-84, up I-82 into Washington, onto US 395, which took us northeast through some of the brownest agricultural land I’ve seen on this trip, and also tied into Interstate 90, which brought us to Spokane Valley, where we stopped for the night. 

It felt awkward having only two motorcycles in our group. It felt awkward asking for a table for four instead of five. We’ll quickly get used to it, of course, but this day was a little bittersweet for me. While I am truly anxious to get home and see my daughter, spend some quality time with our family pets, and go hang out with my friends again, there is no use denying how I knew darned well I would feel when this day came. 

I miss my son.