Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More Miles Than Money: But Escovedo & Band More Than Worth the Trip

Trying to get ready to leave, for even a two day bike trip, is an exhausting experience for someone wired like me. I put off several tasks ranging in time to complete from several hours to the better part of a day and then try to accomplish them all in just a couple of hours prior to leaving. The end result of which is that I become so frazzled I just say f*** it and take off with the uncomfortable feeling that I forgot to do something or left something important behind.

First stop is the Hitching Post by my gun club to see if I can get my motorcycle serviced. The guys in the service department take pretty good care of me and get me in without an appointment and out the door with an oil change, fluid and battery check in less than an hour. I use the down time constructively by having a couple of cold ones at Nick's down the street. I had been waiting for my friend and gun club manager to join me for a drink but he got held up and since they finished my bike so quick, I decided to drop in to the club and say hello on my way out of town. My timing proved fortuitous as I got to meet the newly elected club President, Mark, as well as getting to see the outgoing President and newly elected Vice President, Gene. I greatly admire Gene for serving many terms as club president, many years by default, as it is a thankless task to be on the board or an officer of a non-profit. As far as I can tell by observation, much of your time is spent refereeing adults who act like children. The King is dead, long live the King! May you enjoy your Bidenhood Gene.

As it turns out, my timing continues to prove good as I leave the club around 2 P.M. beating rush hour traffic on 694 and before I know it I'm on I94 heading east with the warm afternoon sun and a light wind at my back. The weather and ride could not be more beautiful. I get a little carried away and anxious from my abortive Steve Earle Bayfield, WI no-show (by me, I misjudged the distance and missed the entire show; showing up as it ended!) and I open up my throttle arriving in Madison in 3 1/2 hours. Don't do the math.

As usual, I am flying by the seat of my pants, i.e. traveling without a map. Hell, I thought, I made it from Minneapolis to New Orleans without a map, why would I need a map to go just to Madison, WI? Well, I almost found out why but luckily took the last exit to Madison before I was committed to taking the turn off to Chicago. I went South on Highway 30 until I saw an exit for East Washington which, I remembered, was the street the club was on. The club was the High Noon Saloon and was where Alejandro Escovedo and his Band were playing later that night. I follow East Washington toward the state capitol and almost pass the club without recognizing it as it was nothing like its name implied. Instead of a faux western ghost town facade, the club was located in a low-story brick office building which resembled an old bank building or Carneige Library. Great I found the club, now my hotel must be nearby.

Unfortunately I booked my hotel in advance online thru Hotwire and although I got a great rate, they won't tell you the name of the hotel before you book it. Hotwire's description of the hotel's location was between .5 and 5.o miles from the state capitol. You see I prefer to walk to a venue, especially if drinking will be involved and especially if I am in a strange town. I therefore find myself stopped in a lane of thru traffic in front of the state capitol looking for a high rise hotel, oblivious to the rush hour traffic barreling down on me. A passerby, who must have sensed my impending danger of being run over, offerered assistance with a quizical: "Looking for something?" "The Sheraton by the capitol." I answer back. The man said with a look of disbelief, "I know there's a Sheraton out by the XCel Center but I never heard of one around here" he says. I tell him I'm pretty sure its right next to the Capitol, but before I can finish my sentence he has it pulled up on his Blackberry and gives me directions to John Nolen Drive. As it turned out, my hotel was a short drive (3 or 4 miles) down John Nolen Drive which runs between the two lakes with the state capitol at one end and the Xcel civic center at the other, across a bridge.

My $59 room was over the top and I enjoy a couple hours of nodding in and out of consciousness watching the local PBS station on my room's high def t.v. Before I know it, it is 8:30 P.M. and time to head for the show. Madison is actually quite a beautiful town I think to my self as I ride over the bridge on a gorgeous full moon night. I am heading toward the orange glow of the capitol dome with the lights of the city reflecting off the two lakes, one on either side of me.

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