I rode up to the parts store and picked up a new radiator cap at lunch today, installed it, and then got back to work. After quitting time, I beat feet down to Heather’s office to meet up with her and head over to the Majestic Theater for a reading and book signing with Neil Gaiman.
When we got there, there was a huge line wrapped around the building, and like good humans, we queued up, only to find that it was the will-call line. Since we already had tickets, we got in a much shorter line to get in, pick up our copy of the new book, and find some seats. Seating was first come first served, and thankfully we got seats on the lower level. From what the staff was saying, there were over 1,200 people there.
Once everyone was situated, Neil came out and did a short reading from his new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. He gave a little introduction to the book, talking about how it was inspired by some of his childhood, and how it ties in to other books he’s written. The reading was fun, he’s got a real talent for reading his books, as well as writing them in the first place. After the reading, he did a short question and answer session, and then left the stage to get set up to do the book signing.
It was a good thing we got seats on the lower level, because that’s where they started taking people, row by row, to go get their books signed. We had about an hour and a half wait before we got up to him and got our books signed. Then we headed out and drove back to the house, tired but really happy with the entire experience. This is the last signing tour he’s doing, and we were glad we didn’t miss it. He’s a really nice guy, who seems to genuinely enjoy meeting and interacting with his fans. He said he’ll still be doing appearances at cons and other events, just not the marathon book signings, as he was planning on staying until the last person got their stuff signed at each location. That’s dedication!
While I was out running errands on Friday, I noticed a really strong odor of coolant coming from the Jeep. When I got home, I popped the hood and quickly slammed it down, along with letting some strong language slip. There was a crack across the top of the plastic part of the radiator that was hissing boiling coolant. That’s a catastrophic failure waiting to happen, as well as a trip to the burn ward if I happened to be eyeballing it when it let go. So, once my darling wife got home from work, we headed out to the local Car Quest store (actually a storefront attached to their regional distribution center) and picked up a new radiator and various other parts.
Mike came over this morning to give me a hand swapping it out. The entire job was pretty easy, though a little messy. The new radiator is now in, refilled, and burped. It’s still leaking, but I think that’s my fault for not replacing the radiator cap. I’m going to pick one up on Monday and see how things go from there.
Here’s the top of the old radiator, you can see the crack running left to right on it.
The last day. I got the bike packed back up, and headed down the last few hundred miles of highway towards home. The heat was really building by the time I pulled in to the garage, but it was good to finally get back home. Back to back road trips really wear you down. I’ll save the unpacking for later, it’s time to cool down and rehydrate.
It’s never long enough, and it was time to head home. I got the bike packed up and pointed it towards Texas. I wasn’t planning on getting home today, just trying to get about half way there, taking my time and enjoying the ride. And true to form, from somewhere around Rolla, MO through to somewhere around Lebanon, MO, I got monsooned on. The streak is intact for another year. After getting back into the sun, I slowly dried out as the temperatures rose. I’d initially planned to stop in Joplin, MO, but I was making good enough time that I pushed on to Miami (pronounced my-am-uh), OK and grabbed a room at a hotel that was a few steps up from scuzz. After getting the bike unpacked, I popped over to Kick Off Bar and Grill, a local sports bar for some dinner and was pleasantly surprised to find that they had local beers on tap. The Atlas IPA by Marshall Brewing Company went really well with the patty melt. After that, back to the room and off to bed. Home tomorrow…
As has been my tradition, since I’m only a few hours away, I rode up to Peoria to see Reese. I’d texted with Joi and she knew I was coming, but we decided not to tell Reese so that it would be a surprise. Needless to say, he was definitely surprised. We spent a few hours together, hanging out, running errands, and grabbing some lunch before I had to head back to the farm. Reese has gotten taller than I thought he would. Soon enough he’s going to be looking down on me.
I got back to the farm just in time for dinner, and then settled in around the fire for an evening of more good booze and time with good friends. I think I finally turned in around 11:30 PM.
Me and Reese, June 2013
Today was a short day, which was exactly as I had planned, because I had a special stop intended for lunch. There’s a great barbecue restaurant in St. Louis called Pappy’s Smokehouse. I’ve wrote about it before, and it’s still as good as ever. The line to get in was also as long as ever, but trust me, the wait is worth it. It took me about 45 minutes to get up to the counter to put my order in, a pulled pork sandwich and sweet potato fries. It was delicious, and filled me up nicely for the last bit of the ride in to the party.
I crossed into Mordor On The Mississippi north of St. Louis and headed in to the farm where the super secret party is happening. There were lots of familiar faces, and a few I haven’t seen in years. I got my tent pitched and spent some time catching up with everyone before heading in to town for dinner. After that we spent the evening hanging out around the fire, drinking good booze and telling better stories.
Yeah, it’s on the blog, but it’s not the ride that’s the secret, it’s the party. Today was just me beating feet for Springfield, MO. I left around 9:00 this morning, heading up TX-121 to US-75, then up US-69 to I-44 and in to Springfield. I’m happy to announce that my 20 year long streak of getting rained on, serious rain, not little sprinkles, is intact. I rode in an out of showers between Sherman, TX and Durant, OK before emerging in to simply overcast skies for the rest of the ride. Tomorrow will be a short day, with a stop in St. Louis for some great BBQ…
Last day of the ride, and the longest. Not much to report, other than it being a long day. I left at around 8:30 in the morning, and rode all the way back to the house, a total of 683 miles, arriving at about 8:45 PM. The total distance ridden was around 2144 miles. I’m pretty beat, so I’m heading to bed. Photo downloads, Spot Adventures creation, and video editing will be done later.
I finished packing the bike, said goodbye to Heather, and headed for Birmingham, stopping for donuts and coffee at Dunkin Donuts. The ride was pretty uneventful, except for the downpour about 30 miles from tonight’s stopping point. That has kept my 20 year streak of getting rained on on every long ride I’ve ever taken intact. Slightly damper than when I started, I pulled in to the hotel and unloaded the bike.
After that, I hopped back on and rode over to Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum to ogle lots of motorcycles that I’ll never be able to afford. It’s a really nice museum, with five stories of motorcycles and cars. Each one has a card listing its specs and a small paragraph discussing its significance. There were a number of Harley-Davidsons and BMWs, as well as Japanese, British, and European motorcycles dating all the way back to the late 1800s. And to make it even more fun, the back of the museum looks out over the track, where we could see riders ripping through the turns. I really can’t say there was one favorite bike, there was just too much there to simply pick one. So if you get a chance, please pay them a visit, it’s well worth the time.
The severe weather that hit Oklahoma City yesterday is heading this way, so I decided to grab an early dinner instead of getting caught in even more rain. After a little googling, I chose Rusty’s Bar-B-Q and wasn’t disappointed. The ribs were fall off the bone tender, the sauces were tasty, and I left there stuffed. It was only a couple miles down from the hotel, and I made it back before any more rain hit.