The Bro and I usually meet for breakfast at 7:30 and are on the road by 8:30 am. This morning, the Bro called me at 6:00 am and suggested that we get an early start in order to beat a storm system that was headed our way. A quick shower, a remarkably unsatisfying breakfast of a cold sausage patty and cold eggs and we headed off. I guess quality is relative at this particular Quality Inn. The skies looked menacing and we didn’t want to hang around to find out just how mean the storm was going to be. We set our sights and GPSs for Saint Louis, MO. Along the way, I noticed a billboard for the world’s largest rocking chair and another for the world’s largest bra emporium. Had a storm not been on our heals, I would have stopped, taken a seat in the world’s largest rocking chair and contemplated the world’s largest bra. Missouri seems to have cornered the market on “The World’s Largest” whatever you can imagine. It’s also home to the world’s largest arch. In Saint Louis, we stopped at the Saint Louis Arch aka The Gateway Arch.
The Gateway Arch is an arch that is the centerpiece of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and was built as a monument to the westward expansion of the United States. At 630 feet (192 m), it is the tallest man-made monument in the United States, Missouri’s tallest accessible building and the largest architectural structure designed as a weighted catenary arch. Threatening skies or not, we had to stop and admire. To get the best vantage point, we crossed the mighty Mississippi River into Illinois and rode to the Malcolm Martin Memorial Park on the east side of the river. The Bro’s GPS and my GPS had conflicting directions to the park but both took us through a rather dodgy looking part of town. The burned out buildings we passed were not reassuring. Nor were the attack dogs chasing us are we rode along. Clearing a grove of trees and there it was: an oasis of green lawn and a stunning view of the arch across the river. The rains were on their way and we had one more site to visit before hitting the highway.
We rode back into Missouri and to the Chain of Rocks Bridge on the west side of the river. Once a toll bridge connecting the east and west sections of Route 66, it is now decommissioned and serves only pedestrian traffic. The bridge’s name comes from a large shoal, or rocky rapids, called the Chain of Rocks, which made that stretch of the Mississippi River extremely dangerous to navigate by boat.
It was unavoidable, the rain was coming and we were going to get wet, really wet. The Bro had a moment of panic. During a particularly heavy downpour of rain and whilst passing an 18 wheeler kicking up copious amounts of spray, the Bro, as lead rider, lost sight of the headlight on my motorcycle. He slowed down and I soon caught up to him. My headlight had gone out. Panic abated, we rode on. The good thing about a riding partner on a trip such as this is that there is someone watching out for you. You’ve got my back Bro and I’ve got yours.
We arrived in Indianapolis, IN soaked to the skin. I stopped along the way to have my headlight replaced. The service crew at the BMW Motorcycles of Indianapolis dealership was amazing. I arrived 20 minutes before closing. They gladly replaced the bulb in the headlight in a matter of minutes and sent me on my way. Perhaps they felt sorry for me as I looked (and felt) like a drowned rat. I always assumed a rain suit was supposed to keep you dry. Not so much in my case. At the hotel, rivulets of water were running down our drenched clothes forming pools of water on the hotel’s polished marble floor. The hotel staff offered us towels to dry off with. When refused, they gently asked us to stand on the carpeted area of the lobby. A janitorial crew was dispatched to clean up the puddles of water trailing our every movement. With a hot shower, hot meal and warm bed, the balance of life was once again restored.