Planning for Spontaneity

I know that sounds like an oxymoron, and maybe it is, but still…

Several months ago I decided that my big trip this summer would include attending both the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual AirVenture Fly-In in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and the 75th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in (where else?) Sturgis, South Dakota. Since AirVenture is July 20 – 26 and Sturgis is August 3 – 9, I have some time to fill in between. Also, because Sturgis is, well, a motorcycle event, I’ll be riding the Honda this year instead of trailering it behind the truck. All this means I have to make some plans, while still leaving time for spontaneous adventures and serendipitous discoveries.

I’ve already reserved motel rooms in Wisconsin for AirVenture and a dry cabin in Sturgis for the Rally. “Dry cabin” means it’s essentially a beefed-up storage shed, with bunks and a table, but no bathroom facilities. There’s a common building with showers and bathrooms, but the individual cabins have only a sink (if that). Eve and Rick (daughter and son-in-law) will go with me to AirVenture; Jen and Tony (friends), and perhaps a third friend, will share the dry cabin with me in Sturgis.

Beyond that, things are very, shall we say, flexible. I know that I won’t want to ride as many miles per day on the Honda as I can handle in the truck, so I’ll have to allow more days to get from Tucson to Round Lake. I also know that I’ll want to sight-see on my way home from Sturgis, so that leg of the trip will also take several days.

I’ve been toying with possible routes between Tucson and northern Illinois. I’ve driven the direct path (I10 – I25 – I40 – I44 – I55) several times but have only seen a few sights along the way (such as the Oklahoma City Bombing memorial). On the Honda, and with no specific time frame to get from here to there, I’ll be avoiding the Interstate system as much as possible. I’ve thought about going up through Colorado again this year, to catch a couple of attractions I found (but didn’t have time for) last year – but that would also make an excellent route for the return from Sturgis.

Yesterday I picked up the May issue of Arizona Highways. I’ve been getting (and saving) the magazine for years, and this issue focused on the Arizona portion of “The Mother Road” – US Route 66. Although US 66 was decommissioned years ago, significant portions of the highway are maintained either as state routes or as historic routes. My first thought, when I read the magazine, was to make the Arizona section of Route 66 a part of my return trip – I could come south through Colorado to Albuquerque and then turn west to pick up the old route, following it all the way to California before coming home to Tucson.

Then I thought, well, why not follow the route to Chicago? Since it originally ran from Lake Shore Drive all the way to Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica, CA, there must be pieces of it I can find all along the way. So I can pick it up near, say, Holbrook, AZ and follow it all the way to Lake Michigan. Then on the way home I can again find it near Holbrook and follow it west. I don’t know if I’ll go all the way to Santa Monica, but there’s no reason I can’t.

So, given that I have to be in Round Lake, IL on or before July 19 (our motel reservations in Kaukauna, WI are for the 20th and 21st), now I have to figure out how many days I want to spend on the road between here and there. And on the way back from Sturgis, I’ll have to decide when I expect to be home so that I can let neighbors and family know. So that means I have to determine how many days I want to spend on the road after Sturgis, and whether I want to go to Santa Monica or not.

All this means that I have to read up on the attractions along the road, the condition of the road, its location, and more, so that I can get an idea of how long it *could* take me. There are lots of online resources for The Mother Road, some of which I’ll probably have to figure out how to access from my iPhone. There are also lots of printed resources – maps, guidebooks, memoirs – that I can get lost in as well.

No matter what I decide, I hope I’ll end up wishing I had allowed more time. That will give me things to look forward to on a future trip!

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