Posted by: wheelsandfeet | December 31, 2010

Happy New Year(‘s Eve)!!!

It’s been an interesting last 5 days…as I’m sure the next 5 days will be!

Cruisin out of the snow belt was a good goal and we made it.  After having a great time in Decorah, IA and saying goodbye to the Hengestegs, we cruised out hwy 9, crossed over to hwy 52, and made our way towards the border…of Iowa, that is. 😉  Seeing the grand ole Mississippi is always a treat. The bluff country of Iowa really stands out in my mind as one of the great overlooked, peaceful, and welcoming areas of the U.S.  Several examples stand out: The Haystacks covered in snow, the herds of cattle bellowing out steam as they munch on their afternoon feed always looking so content, the brilliant red barns standing out in the hills and valleys below the highway.  These things kept my mind in a pleasant space as we were about to embark on a long journey to get out of the snow belt before the overcast turns to freezing rain.  Those quaint highways in the hills along The Mississippi turn to hell’s gate when they are covered in black ice.  We took Arne’s advice and rolled through Balltown, Iowa.  What a crazy little village.  Classic.  Riding through this country on a road bike would be fantastic.  The roads are winding and rolling and friendly as all get out, I tell ya.  We didn’t actually talk to anyone.  We just knew.  Highway 52 to C9y between Millville and Sageville.  We would’ve taken the ferry across The Mississippi to Cassville if we would’ve been there between March and October.  There will be other chances to take a ferry in the VW and we will take them.  Through Dubuque, Illinois welcomed us with open arms! State #3! WOWEE! 😀  I’ve always heard good things about the quaint little artisan town of Galena, Illinois and it was high time for us to check it out for ourselves.  It’s true!  Very cool town.  We stopped by a cafe with breakfast all day along the main drag of shops to indulge in a hot meal of a couple “signature dishes”. Mmmm…I got the Hobo Scramble and Nicole got the Fried Meatloaf at The Victory Cafe.  Perfect.  Ate the leftovers for dinner…at a hotel…we’ll get to that soon.  As we were eating brunch I thought I should call my buddy Gale since he grew up no more than 20 miles from where we were! Maybe, we thought, we should play a trick on him and take a photo of his parents place and text message him the photo.  We were thinking he was back in Minneapolis!  Wouldn’t that be funny?!?  well, on the other hand, avoiding freezing rain sounded good, too…so we just gave him a call.  Of course, he was there, at his parents in Stockton, Illinois, a mere 30 minutes from us!  Crazy. Coincidences on the road never cease to amaze me.  In this case, as much of a bummer as it was, we had to pass on meeting up with him because we were determined to get out of snow country that day!  Are you getting a sense of forcing it a bit yet?  We didn’t think we were.  After all, we took the time to cruise the bluff country and see Galena.  We are on vacation!  Time should not be an issue.  We even took a quick snapshot of Ulysses S. Grant’s house on the hill in Galena.  Nice!

Once we got through Galena we took another little detour back to Iowa to use a Kwik Trip card given to us as a gift by Nicole’s parents.  We didn’t figure out that Kwik Trips only exist in MN, WI, and IA until we were in Illinois!  Oh well, only about a 30 minute detour through more scenic bluff country.  But, we should’ve taken the couple minutes to figure that out sooner!  Good grief.


Note:  Take the time ahead of time to save time and money later…life in a nutshell, right?  An ounce of prevention is a pound of cure, right?  good grief.

So! Back to Iowa quick through Clinton, home town of my good buddy Ben Roels, right Ben?  You bet! Got ahold of him via text only to find out that he had just recently left Clinton to return to his current nice little hometown of Vail, CO.

Well, at this point we were done screwin around on country roads.  It was time to hit the Interstate for a while.  HWY 80 to HWY 74 through Peoria to HWY 55, chip off St. Louis by using Cty Rd. 4 to HWY 64 to HWY 57 and down to Shawnee National Forest for some hiking, checking out rock climbing, maybe some mountain biking…fun fun FUN!  Believe it or not, on with another ridiculous coincidence…the Stiney’s were headin back from a family Christmas outside Chicago in Brent’s hometown of Spring Grove in the northernmost part of Illinois.  Brent had given me a call to see where Nicole and I were on our road trip.  They were pretty excited for us.  They have had their share of road trips!    Turns out we were all headed to Shawnee National Forest. Crazy.  Crazy! haven’t seen Brent for at least 2 years or Ali and the kids, albeit very briefly, for at least 5!  They are too good of friends not to have seen for so long.  Nicole and I were planning on getting in touch with them the morning after we found a place to rest our heads.  They were planning on getting a hotel nearby.  Turns out we should’ve stayed in the parking lot of their hotel.  We could’ve even used the pool! We didn’t.  WE KEPT GOING!  forcing it.  not good.  1000+ miles into the trip at this point.  getting tired. hungry.  we pulled off the highway to check out a campground.  I put the van in reverse to read a sign at the campground…yep. forgot about the trailer.  little jackknife. didn’t think much of it. we were going so slow…not even 1 MPH. no damage.  checked to make sure the trailer was all right.  everything looked good!  since we didn’t want to pay the $17 to sleep there we kept driving! what?  well, it was 1030 pm.  we decided to stay at a rest stop 10 miles down the highway.


we looked in the rear view mirrors and the trailer was ripping back and forth like a Wildebeest in the jaws of a crocodile.  UNBELIEVABLE!  at 70MPH, our trailer with our two road bikes and two mountain bikes mounted on top and filled with gear to the gills below was about ready to slam into the VW, let loose and fly down the highway on a path of complete destruction, or fly violently into the guardrail smashing all of our goods only to flip off the highway and head straight down a ravine into a knot of trees, hillside, and swamp.  We couldn’t believe what was happening.  “Maybe everything will be just fine”, I thought to myself. Slowing down nice and steady, pulling off the highway in a controlled manner, staying out of oncoming traffic’s way…keeping the trailer upright…now THAT would’ve been great.  Well, we were able to pull off the first two steps.  It was the keeping the trailer upright part that we weren’t able to pull off.  The trailer flipped onto its side scraping the highway from one side then to the other.  NO!  The bikes were smashed.  NO! NOT NOW!

The VW damage could’ve been worse, but we will have to deal with that later.  It was drivable.  It was 11pm on an interstate in the very southern tip of Illinois.  Nicole, myself, and Malto were stranded in what seemed to be the middle of nowhere with too much damage to think about…but we were safe.  It was sprinkling.

well, at least it wasn’t freezing rain.

We’re not sure what happened.  Who knows.  AAA gave the trailer a tow.  The local sheriff’s dept was fantastic giving us a lot of tips on what to see in the area while we waited for the flatbed tow truck.  There were two policeman that came to the scene to help.  We were a little distracted but they kept us interested.  One talked about how he wanted to do just what we were doing but had to wait for the kids to grow up a bit.  The other talked about how the same thing happened to him but the trailer actually slammed into the back of the vehicle he was driving.  The upgrades that I did to the trailer including the galvanized steel reinforcement siding and diamond plate top were hugely involved in keeping everything intact.  The locks popped off the lid opening it up, but the retractable cable lock that I got from Menards on a whim kept everything intact that was stored inside.  No yard sale of our gear all over the highway this time…that was a big deal.  we stayed at a cheap motel and ate our leftovers from Galena…not so much with a smile.  but not quite with a frown either.  I guess we were a little melancholic and downtrodden at that point.  bummin…could’ve been worse, for sure.

Now, we’re at Barnes and Noble. sippin coffee eatin chewy sweethearts.  replaced the rims on the trailer and so far so good! bikes are at the bike shop getting assessed for damage to get a quote to the insurance company.  oh yeah, the bike racks are a mess, of course.  ho hum.  time to start eating cheese sandwiches.  It’s new years eve.  we were hoping to be in Key West, FLA!  then we heard Beale Street in Memphis for New Years was awesome.  instead, for the big festivities of the New Year celebration, we’re headin to Key West Bar and Grill right here in Carbondale, Illinois.  we’re hopin to go for a hike with Malto tomorrow.  We’ll keep our plans pretty humble for now, I think.

On one hand, as everyone says, Life’s Too Short…but, if you’re already really livin it the way you want to, there’s plenty of time.




  1. WOW! Guess I don’t know what to say except that I’m glad you’re okay. Any more details about the trailer? I think I would have needed a fresh pair of underwear. I’m going to refer your post to a local bike shop on Smith Ave. called Capital Deals they repair and sell bikes along with gently used items and collectables. Great place to look at stuff. They might have some follow-up for you as well!

  2. Here’s the website I mentioned-

  3. Quite the tale to tell, glad you guys were safe through it all, but sorry to hear of the bad luck. Stay safe and enjoy your new year’s in Illinois, too bad we aren’t all celebrating here together in WV, hope to see ya soon-

  4. Glad to meet you guys in Carbondale. You both seem like a fun bunch! I see you didn’t make it to Memphis, but Key West, I hear, is always a great time! I hope, that you both had a memorable new year. Speaking of which, where are you now? I’m thinking somewhere in the Florida Keys, sippin’ a tropical drink while the sun is high and the smell of the ocean is dancing in the air!

    Me and the wife are doing good. You both have really inspired a change of thought process for me…simple living. Enjoying life, taking pictures, and living in the moment. It almost sounds like a better life to live. Anyhow, be blessed in all you do, everywhere you go, and a blessing to all those you meet. I’ll check up on you from time to time to check you all out. I’m starting to figure out how to blog, so we’ll see what happens.

    Take Care,

    Willie & Tiffany

  5. oh yeah, here’s a blog I started…we’ll see how it goes

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