Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: Days 1 and 2: Getting off my tuchus and getting it to Peoria...


Days 1 and 2: Getting off my tuchus and getting it to Peoria...

**This series of posts recap my two-week trip to Billings, MT and back from July 1-16, 2013. For the entire list of my featured rides, click here.**

When I said that I had to (get to packing) to leave for this trip in the previous post, I wasn't joking; I hadn't even started until I hit the "publish" button and stepped away from the computer. Since it's one of those typical long-distance trips that I make every so often, prep falls into a very organized system that has me up and out in about an hour or less. Additionally, Eleanor was serviced/repaired about two weeks ago so she was ready to go...I had to catch up with her.

Of course, that one hour window is pretty accurate, unless I'm completely lazy and just taking my sweet damn time, which I did, since the ride to Peoria to see my best buddy, Susy, has become more or less a routine, 450-500 mile ride that I've made many times before. It's the other place I hang my hat when I can make it westward, and for this year's cross-country trip, it's the first stop of a chain of friends I get to see along the way. Speaking of friends, Mr. Doppler Radar helped me avoid a downpour across I-80 because of the deliberate delay.

I left Eastlake, OH at 5PM and took I-80 across most of the way. This was the first time I've ridden to Peoria from there (I usually left from Columbus, OH via I-70 and I-65 out of Indianapolis). I'm glad I took cash with me because of the turnpike tolls, but other than that, it was an uneventful ride through the night that had me there and in bed by 3AM Central Time. Yep, I'm a slacker.

South Bend, IN...I think I'm the only person wearing any Cardinal and Gold in here. This is quite awkward.

When I finally came to around noon, I suited up again and took Eleanor around Peoria to check out other places I still haven't seen in the many times that I've been there. This city is a place of ongoing discovery, and every time I'm here for more than a day I try to check out something new.

Oh hai. What the hell are you doing here again?
My first stop was the Peoria Civic Center, the former home of now-defunct Peoria Rivermen of the AHL. The franchise, owned by the NHL's St. Louis Blues, was purchased by the Vancouver Canucks and immediately transferred to Utica, NY and are now named the Comets. Fortunately, professional hockey isn't completely gone from Peoria; the Rivermen name will continue on with a new team making their debut in the SPHL (Southern Professional Hockey League), an AA professional league, in the 2013-2014 season.
The AHL Rivermen may be gone, but remnants of that team still hang from the light posts.
After swinging through the arena, I scooted up War Memorial Drive (US-150 for those keeping track) to Gander Mountain, a store that looks the same as other locations on the outside, but is actually a firearms superstore on the inside. It's pretty ironic to have a gun store of this magnitude in a state that has some of the strictest firearm laws in the nation with little/no provision for concealed carry for ordinary citizens. However, lots of Illinois natives love to hunt, so I guess there's that. There was enough merchandise to stare at to last a couple hours and the selection was quite impressive.

Traveling down the same road, I took a break at nearby Grayboy Motorsports to check out their selection of new and used motorcycles. I came across this bit of a gem, a BMW K1100RS, the predecessor to Matt's old bike and in the same color. Matt often quipped that the K1100RS was his "missing link" bike, as he had owned the two other models in the series: the K100RS and the K1200RS. I don't know about trading in the Piaggio for that bike, but its engine is much more significant than single-cylinder 250cc powerplant of the BV250.

After a cruise through the backroads of East Peoria, I stopped at the Riverfront Park to see the Dan Fogelberg Memorial. It was pretty cool to find out that he was a native of Peoria, and fan-driven effort created the tribute to this talented singer and songwriter.

Later, Eleanor and I swooped into Bass Pro Shops for a few hours for a late lunch and more outdoor/firearms-themed retail therapy. This location had, of all things, an ocean-themed bowling alley and sports grill/bar. I went for the seafood platter with fried crawfish, spicy catfish, and popcorn shrimp. The butter sauce was tasty with the crawfish. It still didn't beat the all-you-can-eat crab legs I enjoyed at their flagship store in Springfield, MO back in 2007 when I was there for my first WOW Ride-In™.

How fitting is it to eat fish while watching their still-living cousins swimming in front of me? That's just as bad as serving fish sticks at an aquarium.
Yep. That's crawfish, catfish, and popcorn shirmp. Goes well with the buttery sauce to the left.
I'll let you two guys work your differences out.
I returned to the apartment after that and waited for Susy to get home so we could go out and have some frozen yogurt at Cherry Berry. The last time I was here, that store hadn't opened yet, and we were made it right before closing to snag some frozen treats and go. I have a feeling that place will be a frequent stop. It's only been since I moved to NE Ohio that frozen yogurt has been a topic of interest, but with a lot less calories than regular ice cream with a multitude of flavors and toppings to boot, just shut up and take my money.

Crack is whack. But there's caramel and candy in it. Ok fine, then it's not as whack.
There's a high chance that I'll be swinging through Peoria again on my return from Montana. Maybe I'll take Susy on a round of bowling. Next stop, Minnneapolis/St. Paul and friend #2!