4/20/08 GPS to Galena IL

I call this GPS to Galena cause in addition to being the first decent trip of  '08 it's also the first time using the GPS unit I bought this last winter... a shakedown ride to see how well we're going to get along...

So, here's the little unit we're talking about... not much bigger than my cell phone... Navigon PocketLoox. Pretty nice.  Comes with a 2Mb SIM card that has all of US, Canada, and Mexico on it. Points of interest even include BMW Dealership!:

First job was to hook it up to the bike.  I had a great shot of the underseat of my bike showing the wiring... but it's out of focus... and I don't have my new digital camera yet... so you'll have to use your imagination... 

Basically I ran a fused connection from my battery terminals to the spot just behind and under my seat, hooked up a lighter socket, plugged in a socket-to-USB adapter, plugged in my USB cable, and ran it to my tank bag.  I then plugged in my headphones for voice direction and I was ready. Yup, the GPS never left my tank bag unless I had to fiddle with it.  

Ok, so it was Saturday night about 8:00 p.m., weather is looking good for Sunday, and I’m programming a route into my GPS… My home in Soutwest Chicago burbs to Galena IL… clear across to the other side of the state and back.  About 9:45 p.m. and I’m sure nothing is going to stop me.  I call a guy who said he might like to ride with me, but turns out he’s got some soccer games to attend to.  So, I’m on my own. 

I’ve been to Galena once, so I’m somewhat familiar with the route.  But this was the first time with a GPS unit.

Fast forward to Sunday morning 7:30 a.m..  Kiss the wife goodbye, pack a lunch, and out the door.  Gear up, set the GPS unit to navigate, stick it in the bag and I'm off.  

Three blocks from the house the GPS isn’t saying anything and then I get a beep.  Pull over on the side of the road.  Open the tank bag.  GPS says SIM card is out… shut down… OK?   No, it’s not OK!… SIM card must have gotten loose.  Take it out, put it back in… wait for navigation to start again… done. 

Life is good… I’m still on familiar ground but the GPS directions are flawless… Half mile turn right… 300 feet turn right… turn right now.  Cool… and it has a sexy voice too. 

Getting onto I355 of 53 the merge directions are not very good… it’s a good think I know where I’m going. 

I get to I88… no problem.  A couple miles and GPS girl is telling me to take the next exit…. No, I don’t think so… way too early to get off… I continue.  GPS Girl says to get off at the next exit…. Hmmmm… still too early… but let’s just see where this goes. 

I got off I88, tells me to turn south, then tells me to get back on I88 headed in the direction I just came from… OK… I’ll play this game… few miles and tells me to get off on route 38.  I get off, go a couple turns, according to direction and… she puts me back on onto I88.  Hmmmmm... this could be a long trip...!! 

One of my waypoints was apparently just off the highway?  So, when I went by it, the GPS figured I’d blown by my destination.  I see how this works… mental note.. next time make sure to zoom into map and put waypoints exactly on the road… not on adjoining on/off ramps…!! 

After that, GPS girl guides me to get off at the correct exit which then takes me to an exit for 47, where I’ll be heading North.  Actually good directions, even at the short fork in the off ramp.  Impressive. 

Turn onto 47 North.  GPS girl says, in .1 miles please make a U-turn…??? OK, fine.  I turn around.  Before I even get to the spot where I first got onto 47, GPS girl says in 300 feet make a U-turn… make a U-Turn now if possible..??  Hmmmmm…. #%^@#$…. I’ll give you a U-turn!  

I pull into a gas station and see if I can figure out which waypoint is now causing this thing to go around in circles.  I delete the one’s I think it is.  Get back on the road and GPS girl says, in .1 miles turn right… Ah…NO!… but OK fine!!  Couple more turns and I come around the block and she tells me to turn South… AH.. NOOOOOOOO…!!!!

I keep going North like I should… so now every .1 miles or so GPS girl is telling me turn left, or right, or make a U-Turn.   But, after 30-40 miles of that… you learn to ignore it!! I guess it's appropriate it should be a woman's voice [JUST KIDDING Ladies].

Pull over, delete every waypoint between my home and my current location.  Start again… Ah… everything is fine.  Directions are good…  MAN! I really need to watch those waypoint locations.  But there was a positive side to all this, every time I pulled over I sat in the sun long enough to get warmed up.  It is sunny, but it's low 50's and the wind is chilly.. Brrrr… Getting darn cold… pull over and put my rain gear on to keep the wind from getting into me… Ahhhh… all is well again.

So, I start getting close to the West side of Illinois.  GPS girl tells me to turn right.   Hmmmmm… seems early.  In .1 miles turn right she says.  As I come to the road I see it’s gravel.  I don’t remember programming in any GRAVEL! roads.  But it's pretty well groomed....OK, let's see where this goes. 

Go up a mile or so… definitely not a road I programmed… but actually an interesting surprise.  I get to a spot where there’s a creek running along the road… nice!  

I take some pictures and get back on.  Let’s see where this goes…

Couple more turns… road starts getting worse... hey this gravel and wet sand stuff is dicy… I didn’t know GPS girl knew her way around the gravel roads too…. AAAAAHHHHH!  Barking Running Dog! ...my 2:00 and moving fast… He stops a couple feet short of the bike and I accelerate past him up a gravel hill….  then GPS girl tells me to take a right… up another really steep gravel hill and now the road is much more narrow and rutted… Hmmmmmm….  Another ¼ mile or so… and I’m near some run down farmhouse… no more road… just fence… I'm going to need to have a talk with GPS girl... 

Turn around.  Oh, GPS girl is giving me direction back to the road… guess she figured out THAT was a mistake!  Downhill gravel… NIIIIICE… favor the rear brake!… Watch the pot holes!… OH No! Now I have to go past that dog again… hmmmm… here’s the farmhouse, but no dog… maybe he went inside….  AAAAAHHHHHH! Here he comes!  I'm thinking to myself, you better stop, dog!… He barely screeches to a halt a foot from the bike and I accelerate past…  I sure as heck was NOT going to stop… who wins.. 750+ lbs of motorcycle and man… or 70 lbs of dog…? Glad I didn’t have to find out!  It could have been ugly. 

GPS girl takes me back to the pavement and I keep going in the direction I should have been going in the first place.  What… the heck… was that!   Did I get the Adventure version of the GPS unit… throws in occasional random excursion?! 

Finally I’m nearing Savanna and she (the female back seat driver) tells me to turn right on some side road… Hmmmm… I don’t believe you!  I keep going but now I’m getting requests for U-turns… I pull over to look at the GPS… hmmmm… this road behind me goes up into the hills and becomes Scenic Ridge Road… the one I should be on.  So, up the hill I go… 

Let me tell you… Scenic Ridge Road is one nice piece of road.   I saw a sign pointing to Hanover on a side road, but it didn’t click until later that was where I needed to go… So, I just kept going up Scenic Ridge.   Smooth asphalt, view of valleys on both sides, curve after curve.  It doesn’t get better than that.


Ok, time to turn around, and satisfy the incessant, "Please make a U-Turn" requests... and take the road to Hanover.  Yeah, by this time GPS girl is really bitching at me cause I’m not following her instructions! .1 miles turn left… .1 miles turn right… .1 miles please make a U-turn if possible…  .1 miles turn left… .1 miles turn left… blah blah blah...

I make my way into Hanover where I pick up South Blackjack road headed North.  GPS girl is still bitchin.   That road is fantastic… asphalt has occasional gravel spots, but rest is all curves and hills.  I come down a rather steep hill and see an area to the side where I can pull over.  It’s 1:30 pm by now.. Time to stop and eat. I take off all my gear and unpack my lunch... consisting of a couple pieces of fruit, a slab of cheese, some almonds, and lots of water.

It’s all good.  Just hang out there and take in the sunshine, munching on my food, watching the occasional car and numerous bikers go by and wave. 

Sidenote: I pretty much always ride with a bandana.  That one in particular has little green turtles on it.  My daughter gave it to me years ago.  She always gets a kick out of it when I wear it.

While I'm there I take out my Tracfone (just got it a couple weeks ago and still experimenting with it to see just what kind of service I can get where) and it lets me down.  No service.

 Ok, it’s getting late, I should start back home… but I’m so close to Galena… And this is the road I came for… so I decide to continue North… but first we need to satisfy GPS girl!!… Again I get rid of all the waypoints between home and my current location, turn on Navigation… and GPS girl is happy once again. 

Man, am I glad I kept going.  Road is great... better than I remember the first time I was here.  I get into Galena and bikes are just lining the street… It’s motorcycle Mecca…  if you’re into that sort of thing… Lotsaharleys...

Hmmmm… need to find a gas station to do some duty… I go all the way through town… no gas stations… turn around… Cool, down by the riverfront they are having some sort of fest… tents set up everywhere.  I don’t have time for that..  I need to go out of town to find a gas station. 

Before I leave town I pull over and tell GPS girl to take me home with two waypoints…one on Blackjack and one on route 64… Is that simple enough for you!! 

I find a gas station out of town.  I don’t need gas.  I gassed up at 198 miles on the tank and only have about 50 now…  Yup, at 198 miles it took 4.4 gallons… probably shouldn’t have cut it so close.  But, not bad mileage considering I was up to 80 mph at some points. 

I head back down Blackjack… dang this waving at other bikers stuff is getting old… way too many bikes… HEY!  Wasn’t that…?  No…  Yes!… I turn around and chase… who do I pass going in the other direction but three of the crew from last years Mississippi Mud Run.  Dang, I don’t have time for this… but can’t not say hello.  What are the odds we’d meet here.  So I catch up to them in town, chat for just a couple minutes, and take off back down Blackjack.  

Well, going home I make some good time.  I go where I want and GPS girl recalculates and redirects as I go.   I stop for gas make some adjustments to the route and carry on.

At one point I come to the sudden realization that there is now a huge yellowjacket on the INSIDE OF MY HELMET!!!! right where my visor meets my chin bar..... AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!  That's what my primitive mind said... The other half of me said... YOU'RE DOING 70 mph... DON'T #%^$ PANIC!!!!  I reduce my speed... pull over...stop... slowly open my shield and he flies out... then I do the hibijibi-just-had-a-yellowjacket-in-my-helmet dance... !!

6:30 p.m. (11 hours) and approximately 460 miles later I’m back home.  Looks like GPS girl and I need to work on our relationship... but there's definitely potential there.