I was awoken out of a deep sleep by the sound of the tent zipper going up. It was my wife's head that I saw poking into the door. Wow! It was still dark out and they were here already! Steve's girlfriend and my wife drove up all through the night to get us. Now it was time to start packing up the goods and cramming five people into a late
80's era Blazer.
<===Cedar River, the place we thought was a town but wasn't, on the Upper Penensula. The pickens were slim inside this joint, but we made the best of it. This was on Day Six going to Escanaba.
We were all ready to go as the gray light of dawn had just started peeking over the horizon. I thought the bikes looked naked and forlorn up on the roof rack stripped of their panniers. That was my last memory of Michigan. I climbed into the Blazer and was in a half asleep stupor for several hours afterward.
I kind of perked up as we went through the Green Bay area. I started joining in the chit-chat now and the miles went by on into the afternoon. Soon we were approaching Iowa again. I was really anxious to get back to Waterloo and get out of the sardine can like conditions I had suffered since leaving Michigan. As we got closer to Dubuque, we noticed that the Blazer smelled hot and it wasn't running so well. Steve thought we should stop and check the oil. So, after a quart of oil and some concerned looks, we were off. Steve's girlfriend, Brenda announced that we would be taking it slower, and the Blazer didn't have the power to climb the steep hills of Southwestern Wisconsin anymore at top speed. I was worried and a bit disappointed. This meant I'd get home even later than I had wished.
Well, for those of you familiar with Highway 20 coming out of Dubuque to the west, you know that there is a long, long climb to the top of a hill where there is a gas station perched at the crest. It was here that the ol' Blazer gave up the ghost. Blew the motor! It was a crazy, funny, sad, and depressing thing all together in one moment. Steve pronounced the rig dead by going in and buying a six pack and sitting it on top of the smoldering motor's air cleaner.
Now we had no ride home and 90 miles to go. Brenda got a hold of her parents, who were gracious enough to come out and fetch Troy, my wife, and I and take us home. It seemed like an interminably long time for them to get there, but they finally did. Steve and Brenda stayed behind with the Blazer. I had no idea what they were going to do, and at that point, I was so tired and mentally fried, I didn't care. The westering sun was on my face, I was in a big Buick, and we were going home. That was all I cared about right then and there.
That was it. The end of the adventure. I eventually got home and went back to my routine at the bike shop. Troy did as well. Brenda and Steve came back with the Blazer that Monday and my stuff along with it. The old Mongoose mountain bike did well, but the saddle on it, an old Avocet touring model, had given me no end of grief on the last days of the ride. Troy said I should ceremonially burn it. I thought that was a cool idea, but I didn't do it.
Next Week: Some final thoughts on The Beg Borrow, and Bastard Tour and a look ahead at what is in store for Touring Tuesdays.