For the last seven years, the Great Hunter and I have been members of the local chapter, Missouri 3, of the Blue Knights® International motorcycle club. Its members are exclusively active or retired law enforcement, both civilian and military. We haven’t ridden our motorcycle very much in the last two years and last year was almost totally out due to GH’s torn hip tendon. I am strictly a fair-weather rider. If it’s cold, I’m out. If it’s too hot, I’m out. If it looks like rain, I’m out. We’ve been caught out in some pretty monstrous downpours, and let me tell you, that is no fun. So with all my parameters, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of time.
Our group meets once a month but this month, three of our group’s officers weren’t able to attend our meeting so we decided to have a “No Meeting Ride;” to my favorite location, Grafton, Illinois.
We rode Highway 94 North through the farmlands. I love this area. When I was a Sheriff’s Deputy, this was my “zone”, where I was assigned to spend the majority of my shift. There were a lot of deputies who hated this zone. It was much slower and laid back than some of the other zones in the county where there was more action. But I loved it. As soon as I left the city limits, I felt my spirit soar. It wasn’t uncommon for me to head north from St. Charles and head the twenty-something miles to the northern edge of the county and then not make it back for several hours. It never felt like work. It just felt like I was out meandering in God’s country. And since this area is more sparsely populated, it was easier for me to get to know the locals and for them to get to know me. Highway 94 North ends at Highway 67 in West Alton and we then cross the Mississippi River and ride down Highway 100, “The Great River Road”. The sun was getting lower in the sky and storm clouds were lurking on the horizon, but it made for a really beautiful ride.
The history of Grafton, Illinois is tied to the two rivers, the Illinois and the Mississippi, that come together at this town’s riverside location. Boat making, fishing, plus quarrying limestone caused this town to be established in 1832. The Old Boat Works, which once crafted paddle wheelers and then later PT boats, now hosts antique and craft shows throughout the year. The Schafer’s Wharf Historic District was once one of the largest commercial fishing centers that was located on the Mississippi Rivers during the late 1800’s.
The main street of town parallels the river and has shops and restaurants and marinas. We ate dinner at The Loading Dock along the river with a tug moored next to restaurant.
The sun had set by the time we left the restaurant and we rode home in the dark, something we haven’t done in a long time. It was a very good night.