Tuesday, May 8

Ride Report: Rockford, IL--Gardens and the Oldest HD Dealership in the world!

Although the weekends have be great weather-wise, I haven’t become organized enough to do an overnight trip. Saturday was cloudy and cool, but definitely ride-worthy. Yet, I stayed in and did some much-needed domestic chores. Besides, Sunday promised to be better. Turned out to be a repeat of Saturday--mid-60s, cool and breezy, with occasional wind gusts—one of which slide the tail of my little gal pal slightly but enough for me to yell, “Whoa Nellie!”

Headed out Sunday at 9:30am--later than I wanted (again!). I took the expressway for approximately 40 miles of the 100 miles out. I picked up US 20 West to IL-72 West and picked up US 20 west again, all the way to Rockford. Both roads had enough smooth straight-aways, rolling “hills” and long sweeping curves to keep me entertained. The open space gave the wind full reign and forced me to crazy-glue my hands to the handle bar.

On Harrison Avenue in Rockford, one can find Kegel's, the oldest Harley Davidson dealership in the world. They’ve been in business for 97 years! How could I not stop! I expected the place to look its age but its quarters look new, snazzy, and gigantic. In addition to the dealership, you can buy all the HD items imaginable—two levels worth. A 50ish style diner is on the premises, the smells of which wafted through the showroom. From the looks of things, HD riders might do a regular Sunday pilgrimage to Kegel’s place. It’s easy to see why. It must be a great meeting place to see the latest HD brands (if that’s your thing) and grab a bite to eat with friends.

A couple of the sales personnel told me the insider route to get to the Anderson Japanese Gardens – far easier than my map indicated. I was tempted to have lunch at Kegel’s but the sky was getting grayer and more overcast. I decided to wear chaps today because of the hassle last week at Starved Rock (needing to find a bathroom to change into hiking clothes shoes). The chaps were easy to peel off on the spot, eliminating the need to go back and forth to the bike to store and retrieve gear. Within minutes of parking, I was ready to hit the trails.

The gardens are touted as among the best Japanese Gardens anywhere and I believe it. Calm came over me as I strolled along the crunchy-graveled paths. Even though people were out, the gardens conveyed a peace, a quiet occasion and a wonderful break before setting off to return ride home.
I shot a roll of b&w and far too many color pics to count. The grounds were magnificent and I felt transported to Japan. I hope the pics do some justice to the gardens. A goose was one highlight. S/he seemed to want his/her picture taken.

I came close to it and it didn’t seem pestered.
It stood still and turned a couple of times as if to present only its best side. It kept looking at me, being surprisingly cooperative and patient. Garden visitors have probably made the geese there feel comfortable around people—and cameras. I just had the feeling that this bird felt like s/he was the star attraction at the gardens.

The return trip was uneventful. Stopped at a PotBelly’s for a tuna sandwich and strawberry Smoothie and to map check for a different route home. I decided to take the toll way part of the way. That was a strange experience.
I don’t have a transponder that allows me to zip through the booths without stopping. To expedite matters, I strategically placed money in one jacket pocket and in the diagonal pocket along the right leg of my chaps. Still, stopping was tedious. At one booth, a nice toll collector told me to “take your time; I’ll lift the bar when you’re ready.” That was kind of him as I was fumbling to replace my glove while nervously feeling that I was holding up the line of cars behind me. I had to apply brakes and get into neutral so that when I actually stopped, I’d be immediately ready to remove one glove, dig in my pocket, pay, take the change, place it in my pocket, put on my glove, make sure I Velcroed my jacket cuff to ward of the cold rushing up my sleeve at 75 mph, get in first gear, and watch for the slippery-greasy spots on the ground. Whew! By my third tollbooth, I had things well choreographed. Great ride definitely worth taking if you're near.

Made it home safely around 6:30pm.
Sunday's day trip: total distance 214 miles.