It’s rare that I have to set an alarm.  I have an “internal alarm clock” which, for the most part, does an excellent job of waking me almost to the minute of when I need to get up.  I’d set my “internal alarm clock” for 5:45 this morning.  Missed it by a whopping half hour.  By the time I got the dogs up, out, and fed, it was nearly a quarter to 7 when I left.

We know you’re leaving us.  Just show us how to work the can opener, first.

It was a beautiful day for a 500+ mile car ride.  Yes, I did reflect that I drove a little more in 8 hours than it’s going to take to bicycle over 7 days.

Worthington Ohio at Oh Yawn Thirty

I used the new Google Maps feature on my phone to get me here.  For the most part, it did an excellent job.  With the notable exception of taking me through the middle of an Indy ghetto instead of just routing around on I-465, I have no complaints.

It’s obviously a RAGBRAI tradition for me to have to fill up as I leave.  Gas is still too damned expensive:

The prices only got worse the further west I went

Not far away from the Iowa border I filled up again; spending another $58.  So far I’ve spent almost everything I figured I would for gas.  My “ciphering” was just about dead on.  I could make it all the way back home with what I’ve got in the tank now.

The only construction I encountered was in Illinois.  Seems the entire “mid section” of Illinois — at least throughout Interstate 74 — is under construction.  No traffic to speak of.  Just slow downs so you could get a good look at the road crews leaning on shovels.

Oddest thing I saw today?   I don’t suppose the fox I saw (but couldn’t get my camera out in time) counts as odd.  I’d classify it more as, “Oooo, that’s neat.  Wonder what the chihuahuas would do with it?”

No, the oddest thing had to be the helicopter crop-duster somewhere in Indiana.  I did a double take on that one.

“Watched” three movies on the way.  Five years ago when I did this, I brought along a tiny DVD player.  Now I’ve got over 100 movies on — yes ON — my phone.  Started with “Liar Liar,” then moved on to “Crimson Tide” and finished with “Rocky.”  I don’t really “watch” the movies. These 100+ movies I’ve seen so many times I know all the lines.  I kind of listen to them, more than anything.

Found Fort Madison just fine and the site where we’re going to be loading buses and trucks tomorrow.  I attempted to pull into the parking lot, but the lot itself was being repaved. As soon as tires crossed the curb, they sunk into the soft surface / dirt . . . and I heard a sickening “crunch” sound.

I’d knocked off the splash guard under the car.  Dammit.  Had to go find a garage. Stopped at an O’Reilly’s Auto Parts.  They directed me to Clint’s:

Very friendly people — even when it’s hotter than hell!

I explained my woes to the very sweet lady sitting behind the desk.  She said she’d just sent all of her mechanics home.

Southern Hospitality . . . from a Yankee!  The Mississippi River just makes folks friendly!

They were closing early because it was too hot to work.  (It was 94 degrees outside.)  There was one fella back in the back who was getting ready to shove off.  She said she’d go ask him if he’d be willing to take look at what I’d screwed up.  She must have asked sweetly, or she told him I was a blithering idiot (or maybe both) ‘cuz he did take 10 minutes to put the car on the hoist, fix the cover, get the car off the hoist, come in and tell me what he’d done, and charged me a reasonable $20.  I gave him a $5 tip for sticking around.

From there it was a 17 or so mile drive to the Super 8 in Keokuk, IA where I’m staying tonight.  Going to set my internal and external alarms to get up at 5 tomorrow morning.  Where I have to park the car is a good five blocks from where I have to catch the bus / load the bike.  So I’ll have to drop off luggage at the bus place, drive the car to the parking lot, then ride the bicycle back to my luggage.  That’s going to take a little time so I better get started early.