Sunday, April 22

Sharon, meet Sharon!

My first "trip" of the season and the weather could not have been more perfect. High 70s and enough intermittent wind gusts to keep me on my toes, especially out in the open farmlands, where the gusts felt strongest. My plans for a weekend romp to WI had to be scraped because an advanced skills class was rescheduled for today. A day trip to Sharon, WI and a short trek farther north to Williams Bay was just what I needed to excavate the cobwebs. West of Sharon was a museum, Bartlett Memorial Historical Museum that I didn’t go to because of time. I wanted to reach Williams Bay before the Yerkes Observatory tours closed. I didn’t.

I superslabbed about 28 miles of the trip. Did people just not get the news that using a cell phone while driving is illegal? Last I checked you could purchase an earpiece, which isn’t that safe either or a hands free contraption, fairly cheaply. I saw many folks driving with one hand and a phone cradled between their cocked head and neck. Twice, two cars changed lanes in front of me. Specifically, they ventured into my lane without signaling or looking. This is why a space cushion is critical. Staying out of someone’s blind spot assumes that the driver will be checking that on occasion. These two didn’t bother. One of them, changed lanes in a 45 mph zone at about 10 mph. I tooted my horn at him and he made an angry face and mouthed something that I’m certain wasn’t “I’m sorry for being inattentive and rude. Have a nice day” The woman, didn’t bother to look.

On my first leg, I was supposed to take I-290 west to IL-53. Seems easy enough, right? Wrong. I missed the cutoff for IL-53 and had to take another route. I managed to find IL-173. (This is when the automatic rerouting of a GPS tops a map). I made a few other mistakes too and for every error, I was forced to stop to recollect myself. Even when I think I know a route, road constructions or poor signage on detours can derail me. This time, however, it was my fault. When I found IL-173, I headed for some county back roads. Around Hebron, IL, these roads were in horrendous shape. Huge craters lined the road forcing me to practice the cone weaving skilled learned in safety class. Other than that, I enjoyed numerous sweeping, curvy roads with plenty of rolling “hills.” I had so much fun, I got lost again. Some people have an instinct for direction, I’m not one of them. A curvey road will get me turned around if I’m not paying attention. Eventually, I'll need to stop just to get my bearings. I ended up at some point going in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go. Oh well…it’s about the ride, right?

Finally reached Sharon.
She’s quaint, cute and small. Not much ethnic diversity here, which may explain why I met up with officer friendly so quickly. I seem to have that effect on some towns, which is another story I'll not go into. I pulled into a local school lot to snap a photo and to consult the map on the best way to Williams Bay. Within minutes, a police car pulled in, parked and watched. I studied the map for about five minutes. He waited. He watched. Finally, when I had taken the pics I wanted and oriented myself, I fired up my gal pal. Then I had an idea. Go talk to the officer. I mosied on over and asked for direction. He was nice and actually gave me a better route than I had selected. Glad I spent some time in Sharon, population less than 1600. By the way, Sharon happens to be “Home of the best Swedish Pancakes in WI”—according to one sign.
Williams Bay is home of the Yerkes Observatory of the University of Chicago. It is also the home of George Williams College of Aurora University. The entire area was beautiful, lush and green. Even the distant smell of healthy and abundant livestock didn’t bother me--much.

My return route was simple but laborious. I took IL-67 south to US-14 East much of the way. It’s a long journey that way but one travels through many little towns (and I do like small towns in spite of my experiences in some of them) such as Big Foot (there’s a high school named in its honor), Harvard (where I stopped for a salad), Woodstock, and Crystal Lake and far too many suburbs to mention. We had a little mishap when I thought the kickstand was down but it wasn’t. A kind gentleman with an admiring wife looking on, helped me upright the bike. I thanked him no less than twelve times! I don’t know how I didn’t hurt any flesh or metal.

I started my trip at 9:15 a.m. (very late for me) and returned home safely by 7:45 p.m. The more miles we added, the better Queenie performed. We covered 240.3 miles--not bad for a day trip.