Posted by: mckenzie68 | September 4, 2010

Elkhart or bust…August 31 or Day 135

We got up late simply because I had no energy and was sore as heck.  The shoulder is causing significant distraction.  So much so, that I am having trouble sleeping and then concentrating while riding, neither is a good combination on a trip!

We loaded up the bikes and I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive for the first time on this trip.  I like to be 100% while operating a motor vehicle and that is definitely the case with riding a motorcycle.

We ran into construction right away as we headed north on Highway 31 out of Indianapolis, which I found unusually stressful.  It was not too bad though and we were through the really slow parts (bridge construction) in a few minutes.

The ride north was actually pretty good, although there was not a whole bunch to see.  We stopped in Kokomo to get some allergy medication for Rae and to get some fluids in us…we were both a little dehydrated.  Rae and I just sat on the curb in the parking lot chatting. It was such a nice moment.  We were both not feeling good, but we could still sit down and chat, laugh, joke about our trip.

We continued north and eventually found our way to Elkhart, IA.  We found a place to stay right away.  I contacted an old friend, “Donnie” from a ZX-12R site.  We had met personally in 2005 and I was really looking forward to seeing him again.  Donnie is a very accomplished rider who loves to put on LONG miles while travelling on his sport bike.  He even did a coast to coast and back ride on his ZX-12R, which would be a very hard ride for anyone.

Rae and I were still not feeling well and decided that it was best not to tempt fate and ride with Donnie to dinner.  He had ridden to work and had to borrow a vehicle to come and pick us up, I felt bad, but I knew it was probably better for us all.

Donnie took us to his home town of Dowigac, Michigan, showed us the entire area, and then took us to his home.  We got to meet his lovely wife and family, which was so much fun. (Rae here – we met his dog too.  It’s a teeny tiny dashaund…oh that thing was cute! For a moment I thought of smuggling that the little fella out.  Just kidding…kinda…) He had arranged for a baby sitter and had obviously planned a nice dinner at a local restaurant along the main street in Dowigac.  To our surprise, just outside the restaurant, there was a little monument made up of running cougars. Rae not missing a beat, recalled our last rally with Donnie where she had an incident with a cougar monument (see the picture below to get my meaning).  We laughed and joked around as she messed about with the Dowigac cougar monument…too much fun.

Donnie took us to “Zeke’s” restaurant which was across the street, and we met his parents who were waiting for us.  It was so kind of him to arrange a dinner out for us with his family.  He produced small picture albums from his adventures, which also included the trip in 2005 at the Pacific Northwest Rally, where we met him for the first time.  We laughed, told stories, and had such a wonderful dinner, it was very special.

Once diner was finished we headed to Donnie’s fathers workplace which had a museum section dedicated to fishing lures produced by the Heddon family (in a second room there was a number of restored vehicles, a fully wired miniature doll house, and other cool things).  Those days are gone as the factory produces a number of items outside of fishing.

Down in the shop, I was excited to see the computer CNC machines.  While we were there, a vehicle bumper mold was actually being machined from a block of resin…very cool.

We got the VIP tour, and it was so interesting to see and hear about the history of the factory, and the town of Dowagac.  We had obviously spent a great deal of time there as it was dark when we stepped out of the factory/museum.  Before the end of the night, Donnie’s father took us to see his two-seater aircraft at the nearby airport.  We could have spent hours chatting about motorcycling, aircraft, and adventures, but it had got very late, very fast.  That seems to be the way of things, time becomes more important, and it is something you cannot cheat or buy more of…that’s why we need to enjoy the time we have!

Donnie drove us back to the hotel and we sat in the lounge area looking at pictures from our trip. I felt as if we had just carried on from the last moments we were together at the Pacific Northwest Rally.  What a special gift the ZX-12R site has been, and I have met so many wonderful people as a result, I am blessed for sure.

Donnie had to work in the morning and although he was completely willingly to sit and chat further into the night, we knew he still had a long drive home, so we decided to end the visit.  Rae and I were so happy to get to visit with Donnie and his family, and at the same time grateful that we could take the time to do it…not everyone has that chance.  This trip is just full of blessings like this.  I am thankful for each day we have to spend…it’ll be over just too soon.



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