Little Things Mean A Lot

Nov 15, 2012 View Comments by

Sometimes it’s not the sum total of the experience that makes the memorable moments, but the seemingly insignificant bits and pieces taken out of the whole fabric of the event that are truly special.

So it was with a trip that our group “The Lost Squadron” made this spring. The four of us, two on Harleys, two on Hondas, were exploring southwestern Wisconsin. It was a “loosey-goosey” kind of plan, head west towards the Mississippi then south to the state line and back east to home. We gave ourselves a few days to cover the distance, and mapped out several sites to see. We had no timetable, no reservations, and only a vague idea where we would most likely wind up at the end of the day, which was OK. Our first overnight was in Baraboo, WI, home to the Circus World Museum, which we didn’t go to mostly because the majority of us were too cheap to spend the money to get in. No memories there.

The second day we shot west to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin, his home and studio, along the Wisconsin River tucked into the rolling hills of southwest Wisconsin. I remember this day as being cold and gray. I also remember that once again, because of the high cost of the tour, we didn’t see inside the Taliesin—only cold gray memories here.

This cheapskate tour of Wisconsin was getting to be kind of a bummer, and our next stop in Prairie du Chien did not hold out a lot of promise for high adventure.

Again, a typical early spring day of overcast skies and threatening rain. I really believe the weather can do a lot to dampen the spirits, because by this point it was “let’s just get there,” wherever there was. By the time we reached our stop the main concern was a warm bed and a dry place to park the bikes. There at the side of the road was a retro style motel with an overhang or porch in front of the rooms, just big enough to hold a bike or two, two rooms equal four dry bikes. Seemed like a good idea—to most of us. Part of the Squadron wanted a more modern facility, so they went further on to “explore” that goal. We ended up staying there.

At this point things could have all gone south. There was dissension among the troops; the weather was bad racing towards worse. I even found my new bike to be uncomfortable, and we had only seen the outside of every major attraction. Then it happened! Our retro (but clean) little motel, with the protective overhang, was next to a very active train track!

This we discovered as the blast from the air horns shook the ice in our end-of-day drinks. All you could do was laugh, and man did that feel good—the drinks didn’t hurt either. As it turned out, there were many trains that night but no more air horns, at least until 6 a.m., so, who needs an alarm clock?

Between this trackside abode, and the dinner next door where we had the waitress convinced we were vacationing “doctors,” we mined the one nugget from the trip that will live on, and get better with each retelling, which is as it should be, because…little things mean a lot. Ride on.

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About the author

A Wisconsin farm boy, I learned how to ride a cow, before a horse and way before a motorcycle. I first started riding on my 16th birthday and I took my first real ride at my party: I pulled a wheelie and dug a trench in the lawn, which sent the bike in one direction and me in another. I was irrevocably hooked!