Travel Challenges: Leaving Home & Finding One’s Way

IMG_3031NAUVOO, ILLINOIS—Given the chronic religious persecution that drove the Latter Day Saints from their homes here on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River, I shouldn’t really complain about my day. The challenges of my day are evanescent giggles compared to the hardships the Mormons endured as they ultimately found their way to Salt Lake City, helping pioneer the route that would become the Oregon Trail. But they certainly would have understood my frustrations, once they got over the wonder of the technology that caused them.

With my bike packed and ready for the road, my 0538 wakeup call was my wife’s resonant call from the basement, where she’d gone to clean the kitty litter. “Scott! There’s water in t*:30.”he basement!” This has been an ongoing problem that included a new sump pump and running an extension cord to power it. Its dedicated circuit was dead and I could not ferret out why. I replaced the socket and checked the circuit breaker. Still no power. This morning the circuit powering the extension cord died, as the the freezer that was also on line. Resetting the GCI button was a game of whack-a-mole.

Finding an electrician in the Yellow Pages, I woke up Aaron Masters at 0615, after I’d run extension cords from different upstairs circuits to the sump pump and freezer. Then I attacked the water with the Shop Vac and waited patiently for Aaron to arrive “around 8″:30.” He solved the problem in about 10 minutes. The sump pump circuit runs through the generator panel that came with the house, and has it’s set of breakers. The GCI checked out okay, and it worked as it should when the freezer and sump pump overwhelmed it while dealing with last night’s rain.

Getting on the road at 0945 punched Nauvoo into my new Garmin Zumo 390 GPS. I expected it to automatically follow the elegantly crafted route I’d created in the Garmin Basecamp software and downloaded to the GPS. It was the 369-mile scenic route to the John Deere Historic Site in Grand Detour, Illinois, on the Rock River, and then along the Great River Road to Nauvoo. 

IMG_3033No matter what I tried, it kept routing me on the Interstates and toll roads that I wanted to avoid. I surrendered to it and finally arrived at the Deere homestead, anxious to see the blacksmith. Mounting up at Subway after lunch, a kind women asked where I was going. Having taken her grandkids there the previous weekend, she didn’t tell me the site is closed on Monday and Tuesdays. The gate in the white picket fence that surrounded the immaculate white clapboard structures on the well manicured green lawns was locked.

I arrived in Nauvoo at 1743, just as the GPS said I would as it lead me down Interstate 88 to Interstate 80 East, to Interstate 74, before dumping me on the US and state highways that brought me here. There was a short stretch on the Great River Road, tree lined and twisty, a tease to all the great riding the GPS has kept me from. I could have turned it off and resorted to old-school maps, the I’d been riding under clotted gray clouds all day, and they were starting to spit at me. And my frustration was holding a convocation in a burning balled up muscle under my left clavicle. I was ready to call it a day.

IMG_3041Finding a room at the Hotel Nauvoo, and feasting on its excellent buffet, was a much needed emotional and physical antidote for the day. It even provided picnic tables by the parking lot, where I could savor my cigar and settle for a Bud Light tall boy as I pound these words into my writing machine that, so far, hasn’t given me any problems. The long walk up and down both sides of historic Mulholland Street worked the kinks after dinner.

The locals may have driven the Mormons out of town back in they 1840s, but they cater to them now with main street hotels and vacation rentals, the Zion Mercantile gift shop and several LDS bookstores. Religion is big here. On the bluff at the west end of Mulholland Street, which overlooks the Mississippi, are three churches. The Mormon Temple dominates. To the south is a Lutheran Church, and to the north is Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church, and the academy school that I first visited about 30 years ago as a chaperone for the Missouri Military Academy cadets that road-tripped here for a dance.

Tomorrow I’ll be stopping at old MMA on my way west. Maybe I’ll figure out my GPS, too. But just in case, I’m digging out my maps. More adventure awaits; the only question is whether it will be good or challenging.


About smspangler

Freelance writer, editor, and photographer of myriad aviation topics and the exploration of America's small towns.
This entry was posted in Food, Lodging, Main Street, Motorcycle, Travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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