Roanoke, Illinois bruschetta

On Sunday at Ed and Lynn’s house in Roanoke, Illinois, there’s white bean and tomato bruschetta for two California travelers
Photo: Dusty Davis

From San Luis Obispo, California, to Roanoke, Illinois, is a little over 2100 miles, east through Denver and Des Moines — “31 hours, 12 minutes” according to mapquest. But Dusty Davis doesn’t go that way. He prefers A Long Ride. Leaving San Luis Obispo with his companion Elena, he maneuvered a 2004 Yamaha FJR1300 south through San Ignacio, in Mexico’s Baja, then east through Big Bend National Park, onward to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, then north across the cave country of Western Kentucky.

Arriving in Roanoke (not far from Peoria, IL), he and Elena basked in Illinois hospitality. “We just met Ed and Lynn,” Dusty wrote, “but they welcomed us into their beautiful home and spoiled us rotten with gourmet meals and a jacuzzi to relax our muscles.” On Sunday, the California visitors were served this delicious white bean bruschetta.

For many a Roman, ancient and modern, bruschetta has been the humblest of meals: stale bread, toasted, with some smashed up garlic and olive oil. But look how Ed and Lynn and others too have embellished that good old recipe!

Opting for A Long Ride has taken Dusty on several extended trips, through many parts of the rural U.S. His fine website contains all sorts of rare and valuable information. He remarked how at harvest season, chemical applied to the cotton fields made Mississippi smell “like burning plastic for hundreds of miles.” Dusty finds hotels “easy but lonely and expensive,” and clues you into spots like the exceptionally fine hostel in Seaside, Oregon, and the Desert Air Motel in Sanderson, Texas, that loves motorcyclists.

“There are motorcycle magazines in the rooms and nice chairs on the porch to admire the sunset while you read them,” Dusty wrote. And what’s more — “When I came out in the morning, there were ‘Biker Buckets’ waiting for me and Andy, the guy next door on the BMW RT 1200.” The Desert Air supplies two-wheeled guests with “clean rags, spray and wipe polish/wax, and Windex…The FJR left sparkling.”

Dusty's route

Here’s a rough map of the route he and Elena took last spring.

His travel diary of the Deep South records, “This was the first place I’ve ridden where the kids would point and run after me. It scared me the first time, then I got used to it, even expected it when I went through very small towns on very small roads. Everyone I talked to was very friendly but a little incredulous when I told them how far I’ve ridden.”

On another journey, straight through the Great Plains, he met an angel of mercy: “The waitress in a diner west of Pratt didn’t charge me for my apple pie a la mode and coffee because (she thought) she took too long getting it to me. This is with one waitress and a very busy restaurant full of locals!” (We’re not sure if that was Sunday dinner, but it sounds like a righteous miracle.)

Taking A Long Ride you never know quite what will turn up — one night, it’s the tail of a skunk in Star City, Arkansas, and one day in Roanoke, Illinois, there’s a plate of fresh bread decorated with beans.

Many thanks, Dusty.

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