Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Touring Series: In A Blazer Of Glory

  Welcome to "The Touring Series". This series is a re-posting of a story I told here on this blog in 2008. The story is about what I named the "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour". This was a fully loaded, self-supported bicycle tour from just Northeast of Waterloo, Iowa starting in a little village named Dewar and the goal was to get to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada in one week's time. The plan called for us to be picked up there and taken home by car.

  As mentioned, cameras, smart phones, and the like did not exist for us in 1994, so images will be few. There are some though, and I will sprinkle those in when they are relevant. I will also sprinkle in any modern images of places we visited when applicable and when I can find images that convey the same look as 1995. 

This brings the first part of the series to an end. The story of the Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour comes to an end with this post. There was another tour the next year which I will continue the series with. In between there will be a few interim posts bringing you all up to speed with things which were important the year following the Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour. Thanks for reading!

A Guitar Ted Productions Series
 The tour was over, but we had one day to get back home. We were in a state park near Manistique, Michigan waiting on a ride home.  Here is what happened on Sunday, the eighth day after we had left Dewar, Iowa. 

I was awoken out of a deep sleep by the sound of the tent zipper going up. It was my wife's head that I saw poking into the door. Wow! It was still dark out and they were here already! Steve's girlfriend and my wife drove up all through the night to get us. Now it was time to start packing up the goods and cramming five people into a late 80's era Blazer. 

We were all ready to go as the gray light of dawn had just started peeking over the horizon. I thought the bikes looked naked and forlorn up on the roof rack stripped of their panniers. That was my last memory of Michigan. I climbed into the Blazer and was in a half asleep stupor for several hours afterward.

I kind of perked up as we went through the Green Bay area. I started joining in the chit-chat now and the miles went by on into the afternoon. Soon we were approaching Iowa again. I was really anxious to get back to Waterloo and get out of the sardine can like conditions I had suffered since leaving Michigan. As we got closer to Dubuque, we noticed that the Blazer smelled hot and it wasn't running so well. Steve thought we should stop and check the oil. So, after a quart of oil and some concerned looks, we were off. Steve's girlfriend, Brenda announced that we would be taking it slower, and the Blazer didn't have the power to climb the steep hills of Southwestern Wisconsin anymore at top speed. I was worried and a bit disappointed. This meant I'd get home even later than I had wished.

Steve's future wife, Brenda, and the blown up Blazer outside of Dubuque

Well, for those of you familiar with Highway 20 coming out of Dubuque to the west, (circa 1994) you know that there is a long, long climb to the top of a hill where there is a gas station perched at the crest. It was here that the ol' Blazer gave up the ghost. Blew the motor! It was a crazy, funny, sad, and depressing thing all together in one moment. Steve pronounced the rig dead by going in and buying a six pack and sitting it on top of the smoldering motor's air cleaner. 

Now we had no ride home and 90 miles to go. Brenda got a hold of her parents, who were gracious enough to come out and fetch Troy, my wife, and I and take us home. It seemed like an interminably long time for them to get there, but they finally did. Steve and Brenda stayed behind with the Blazer. I had no idea what they were going to do, and at that point, I was so tired and mentally fried, I didn't care. The westering sun was on my face, I was in a big Buick, and we were going home. That was all I cared about right then and there.

That was it. The end of the adventure. Brenda and Steve came back with the Blazer on Monday and brought my stuff along with it. I eventually got home and went back to my routine at the bike shop. Troy did as well. The old Mongoose mountain bike did well, but the saddle on it, an old Avocet touring model, had given me no end of grief on the last days of the ride. Troy said I should ceremonially burn it. I thought that was a cool idea, but I didn't do it. 
This was a weird day. Admittedly, and not revealed in the above text, I was pretty hung over. We drank a truckload of beer the night before and I think we were awakened at around 4:30am. So, I didn't get much sleep. Then we were all crammed into this S-10 Blazer, so five adults, gear, and bits from our bikes we couldn't let sit in the wind. It was a very uncomfortable experience. 
Knowing what I know now about S-10's, I believe the oil cooler hose was leaking badly, (a common S-10 issue) and the oil probably got too low before we discovered why the motor was loosing power. But anyway..... We were stranded and while the scene was a bit humorous and all, I was desperate to get home and sleep in my own bed. I don't really have a memory of anything past getting into the Buick and being in the back seat. After we got home, everything just became routine again. Nothing memorable about that!   

Next Week: Some final thoughts on The Beg Borrow, and Bastard Tour and a look ahead at what is in store for the Touring Series.

1 comment:

blooddoc23 said...

Thanks for those writings. The series really fun to read! That was some pretty high adventure! And you guys were able to do something that most of us never get to do and just dream about.