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John B. Deitz

Build: 100521.2

Day 5
Days 1-3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7 Day 8 Day 9 Day 10 Day 11 Day 12 Day 13 Day 14 Day 15 Day 16 Days 17-18

Tuesday, 2 August 2005.  Terre Haute, IN to Springfield, MO with a stop at the St. Louis Gateway Arch

But before we get to the trip -- The day starts with not so pleasant events.

We had just started out on I-70 for St. Louis and the trip across Illinois and Missouri -- 8 a.m. or so. As we cross the border from Indiana to Illinois, Mike's bike seized-up, dumping large quantities of oil. Pictures tell the story. The bike was trailered back to Terra Haute, and the mechanic confirmed that he had thrown a rod and punched a hole about the size of a quarter in the casing. No chance of repair. Mike decides to buy a new bike, and after some agony, decides on a used Honda Magna with about 2700 miles as being something he can afford.

[Mike's story starts here]

After 6 years of rain and speed and faithful service, The black Suzuki VX800, a very unknown edition of V-Twin Sport touring engineering, literally had a stroke as it entered into the great state of Indiana.

Having just set out for our days push westward, a knocking started and I couldn't place it as coming from my VX or from the truck we were next to. The engine started to bog and sputter. John motored ahead OBLIVIOUS to my frantic waving as I tried to make it to the shoulder in between the morning rush of semi's. Just as I got to the shoulder the engine died. I coasted and stopped 100 ft from the "Welcome to Illinois" sign.

I immediately got off and smell the burning oil and saw some drip out from near the oil filter. Black, burnt oil. Then came the realization I never checked the oil any of the mornings of the ride. "Shit" I thought, "Did I burn out all the oil with the two days of hard constant riding?" The bike had never so much as dripped a spec of oil and I'd had it changed the week before the ride. Did the engine over heat and kill itself to protect it?  Did I seize the engine as a result? Lots of thoughts went through my head while I waited for John to return. None good. John had jinxed me the night before at the Harley Davidson dealer saying I should buy a new bike. Hmmm.

So after a wait and a tow to the local Suzuki dealer (Thompson's Motor Sports, Terre Haute), it was discovered that a quarter sized hole was in the engine casing just above the oil filter. The leading theory was I'd pushed a rod on the engine. Dragonwing, my VX's name, was dead for the foreseeable future. So whether it was lack of oil or just hard riding, who's to say. I was in the position of having to get a new bike if I was to continue the trip.

The selection of bikes in my credit range, thank you Discover Card, was slim, but the Honda Magna V4 750 seemed up to the needs of the moment. The test ride was nice enough and it handled well. Also the fact that it only had 2708 miles was in my favor. So $7500 later, I'm riding away in the best ECMC tradition on the new ride.

Smilin' Bob After the SaleI have decided that I cannot afford to keep it and will be selling it once home on LI. I may even make some money if market is good (though better in April, but a good hard luck plea may get me the full nut of the cost.

[Mike's story ends.]

[Mike later discovers that the Blue Book retail value is $4850 and trade in $3340.  And we come to the realization that he was ripped off by smilin' Bob and the friendly folks at Thompson's Motor Sports.]


Back on the road

We finally got going on trip about 1 p.m. Weather very hot -- high 90's to 100. Got to St. Louis about 4 p.m. crossing the Mississippi on the older Martin Luther King Memorial Bridge.

The Gateway Arch is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.  The arch can be seen while still in Illinois on the east side of the Mississippi River well before you get to St. Louis.  The most memorable image is of the arch rising above a huge landfill.  We went to the top of the Arch on rather uniquely designed tram cars that adjust themselves for the curvature of the arch.  Cars are tiny, fitting only five people each -- with knees touching.

Gateway Arch
Shadow of the Arch on the Mississippi River
As seen from the top of the Arch
Mike at the top of the Arch
John and the Mississippi River

Because of the drought in the Midwest, the Mississippi River was at its lowest level in years.  Local news indicated that barge traffic was beginning to be affected.  Highway in the background is the I-55, I-64, and I-70 bridge.

Then on to Springfield, MO. via I-44, skirting the edge of the Ozark Mountains -- the first hills we had seen since Pennsylvania.   I-44, and later I-40, generally follow the famous Route 66 from St. Louis westward to Los Angeles.  We will see much evidence of the old Route 66 as we proceed on to Flagstaff, Arizona.  Across Missouri, for example, there were many places where it was close enough to be visible from the Interstate.  As I was riding along, I wondered if the adjacent roads (sometimes on the north side, sometimes on the south side) could have been the old Route 66.  A later map lookup confirmed that they were -- and they still look pretty much like old 1950's highways, with occasional abandoned service stations, general stores, and motels.  (Short sections of I-44 were actually placed on top of Route 66.)

We got to our motel in Springfield about 9 p.m. local time; my medications were waiting at the front desk as promised -- good old USPS.  We had a late supper at a nearby chain pub.  Then fell into bed exhausted.

A very stressful day!

And as I write the day's log, I realize how much happened.


Distance:  About 380 miles. Accommodation:  Super 8 (WiFi) Cost:  $61.55

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23 October 2007