All the rain we’re getting this weekend reminds me of the tail-end of our trip to the Grand Canyon. We left Valentine, Nebraska, behind a storm system that was destined to dump record amounts of rain on Minneapolis. It was gray, misty September day. Our objective was Aberdeen, South Dakota, and a straight shot home on US 12 the next day.
The previous day we’d left Colorado, its spectacular mountains gradually fading in the distance as we traveled the Great Plains. The hills of western Nebraska reminded me of a rumpled brown blanket; I half-expected to find a giant asleep beneath them.
The rain got a little heavier and a little colder as we rode north on US 83 toward Pierre. We stopped at a truck stop somewhere along the line. The farmers and truckers just glanced at us as we drank some hot coffee to warm up. We had no choice but to ride in the rain that day. We had to get home.
Yesterday there was thunder and lightning and driving rain. We had a choice, and we opted for my 2000 Saturn as we headed down 35W to Motoprimo to do a book signing. Sales manager Bill Bassett set up a table next to the Victory motorcycles, and Ralph and I spent the day chatting with folks from around the area. The local chapter of Women on Wheels had met at the store earlier in the week, and Bill had ’em primed and pumped to buy a copy of Ride Minnesota.
One of the book buyers was a lively little motorcycle instructor from the Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center, Laura Shaffer-Munson. Saying, “Only an idiot rides a motorcycle in a thunderstorm–you’re nothing but a lightning rod,” she told us a story about a motorcyclist who was hit by lighting. Witnesses said the rider continued down the road for a while, then ran into the ditch. He was dead long before he reached it.