Or in other words,how I spent my Sunday. I saw a post in the local rides forum inviting riders to come join PJROCCO and his crew for a Sunday morning ride out to Skoog's Pub in Utica,Illinois. The weekend weather forecast was dodgy all week,but come Sunday morning the Weather Channel forecast brought some welcome good news,no rain in the forecast. I posted up at 8am to let PJ know I was on my way,and rolled out of my driveway at 8:15am. Illinois here I come! PJ's post indicated that 11am was the meeting time,kickstands up at 11:15am. I arrived at the Shell Station at 10:57am,gassed my Jokermobile up,slugged back a Red Bull and took some pics while I waited. And then waited some more.....got bored and went to have a chat with this smiling upbeat gentleman,his name is Cong he's the gas station attendant. I asked him to hold my helmet for the pic. It's funny how this helmet disarms people and brings a hearty genuine smile to their face. I walked back out to my bike and waited some more and......nothing......nobody showed up! WTF! It wasn't until after I got home that I found out that PJ had cancelled the ride. He posted up at 10:15am,at which time I was well on my way to the Shell Station where we were supposed to meet. In retrospect though I suppose it was my own fault,I probably should've let PJ know a bit sooner that I was thinking about joining him and his crew for the ride. No hard feelings though,I'd like to say Thanks to PJ anyway for the invitation. So now what? It took me about 2 hours and 45 minutes just to get here,do I just turn around and go home? I though about it for a moment,and said to myself "Screw that,I've got an Illinois road map in my pocket,I'll just go find Skoog's myself." Skoog's Pub here I come! But before I begin campers,I have a few observations to share with you about the Great State of Illinois. First and foremost Illinois roads are BBuuummmpppyyy. I'm talking rattle your fillings loose bumpy. I tell you campers,after riding on those bumpy roads I've got a new-found respect for Illinois riders. They've just gotta be suspension set-up gurus. People in Illinois drive fast,and crazy. Driving along in heavy Sunday morning traffic at 75mph in the right lane just to keep up and I glanced in my mirror to see a woman in a Lexus about five feet behind me intently staring into her rearview mirror to put on her lipstick. I turned my gaze forward just in the nick of time to see a nutcase in an SUV divebomb me from the left lane. I guess he decided that YES,in fact,this WAS his exit. This reporter can safely and accurately report to you that the needle on the highly calibrated,finely tuned Spinchter Pucker Factor Meter went clear off the scale. YIKES! Illinois riders seem to be a generally friendly bunch,stick your hand out and they're waving back. Enthusiastically. Usually they had their hand out first,and that included the H-D crowd as well. Illinois roads are flat and straight,well at least the ones that I was on but I'll get to that later. I remembered that PJ mentioned in his post that you could take Hwy 71 to Utica so that's how I went. I came across this oddity just past the town of Norway. Ouch! I bet that landing hurt. Hwy71 ambles along at times through some lonely,desolate Northern Illinois countryside. Nothing but farm houses and flat farmland as far as the eye can see. The air is tinged with a pungent odor of wet black earth and manure. Yep campers,this ain't Kansas,we're in the Illinois heartland! As we like to say in Wisconsin "Can't ya smell that dairy air". Well campers riding hard and fast through the Illinois heartland can sure make a wayward visiting soul powerfully hungry,but not to worry because Illinois has got you covered. Ride in,set a spell,take a load off,and sample some local cuisine. Yep campers,it's Grumpee's Weenie Wagon! I kid you not,a roadside hotdog stand. Just the thing to satisfy the ravenous hunger of a weary roadway traveler. Pure genious,who'da thunk it. I found this on Hwy71 just east of I80. Hwy71 eventually crosses the Illinois River and then follows alongside it until a place called Starved Rock,at which point the roadway gets interesting. It starts to twist and turn and undulate,and wonder of all wonders,it's actually pretty smooth. Okay,so I guess not all roads in Illinois are bumpy,flat,and straight,and this little section,though probably not a mile in length,is a real gem. Framed by armco barriers and stone brick walls this winding ribbon of flowing tarmac is a twisting,turning,undulating rollercoaster rolling it's way serenely through a corridor of trees. Sadly though campers it's over and done all too soon,and sorry no pics either,there wasn't any real safe place to pull over to get any. This section of roadway would've been BIG FUN except for two things,1. If I'd have known it was coming,and 2. If there wouldn't have been a Honda Pilot SUV in front of me going 20mph through the whole thing. AARGH! Hwy71 crosses Hwy178 at which point you turn North onto Hwy178 and cross back over the Illinois River into Utica. The bridge is a big steel monster with steelwork completely surrounding you on all sides. The roadway on the bridge can best be described as peaks and valleys. It's truly a strange sensation to be riding high above the Illinois River on a bridge and your bike is literally porpoising over the pavement. I had to laugh out loud in my helmet,even the roadway on the bridges in Illinois is bumpy! Sorry campers,no pics of the bridge either,I was stuck in a line of traffic and couldn't pull over to get one. Skoog's is at the far end of town at a busy intersection,if you park across the street it's difficult to get across it. Here's my lonely VFR lost in a sea of H-D. This placard is part of the stonework above the doorway to Skoog's. Thankfully campers this reporter is greatly relieved to report that no tornadoes were sighted in or around the general vicinity of Skoog's on Sunday. Here's a pic of the man himself. Andy Skoog is on the left and John (the other bartender working that day) is on the right. These two guys are Super Nice people campers,definitely worth making the trip out to meet them. Good food,good suds,good people. As Andy likes to say"It's Got To Be The Water". Once again campers,as you can see from the hearty grins sprawling across Andy and John's faces,my orange mohawked Shoei RF900 Pascal Picotte joker helmet was working it's strange magic. Well campers,I came,I saw,I conquered. I did some good riding,saw some interesting sights,and most importantly,met some nice people,but now it was time to go home. I left Skoog's and headed North to Hwy6,then East on Hwy6 to Hwy23 North. BIG MISTAKE! Hwy23 is mostly flat and straight,nothing but wide open farm fields and flat,straight bumpy roadway for miles. Welcome to Boredom Hell. You know how your mind wanders sometimes campers and you try to think up ways to pass the time? Well I was seriously considering that were it not for the bumpy roadway and stiff cross winds blowing across the fields,as long as my Throttlemeister was locked it might just be possible to do twirling handstands on my gas tank to alleviate the boredom. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Man,this road went on forever...... And ever...... And ever,I swear I thought I was in Hell. I had to keep reminding myself "Nah,it's not Hell,just Illinois Hwy23 North" Hwy23 eventually brought me to Hwy14,albeit after a bit of a detour because of road construction on Hwy23. Just think of it campers,smooth virgin roadway in Illinois! I hope it's a start of a trend! I followed Hwy14 to Hwy89 into Fort Atkinson where I stopped for dinner at a favorite watering hole of mine,then made the hour and a half ride home to Brewtown. I pulled back into my driveway at 7:55pm. In the end,435 miles and 11 hours and 40 minutes out riding. In summary,it was a good day. A chance to see and experience new things. I was able to evaluate the new Puig windscreen that I installed on Saturday,and also road test my new pair of Alpine Stars compression shorts. Both passed with flying colors. On this day,with these roads,and my 6th gen. I would humbly say that I had the right tool for the right job. I know this has been a long post campers but there's one more important thing that I'd like to say. I'd like to dedicate my ride on Sunday to my brother John who passed away a few weeks ago on April 30th after a long battle with cancer. Cancer always takes,it never gives. He was the kind of guy who always looked ahead,and never looked back. To him setbacks were just that,setbacks,they were only temporary,better days were coming. As I followed his steady decline I learned something very important from him. While you're out here living your day in the sunshine,live THIS day today the absolute best that you can and be done with it,THEN look only ahead to tomorrow. It would've been easy to simply turn around and go home when PJ and his crew didn't show up,but then hey,look at the day I would've missed. There's a good lesson to be learned there campers. As long as you're here you might as well enjoy the ride,and as long as you're still out riding in the sunshine make that ride count.