GALESBURG, Ill. — Dave McKillip spent 41 years of his life either in the military or working for it. During that time, he traveled to 43 of the 50 states in the country. After coming back to Galesburg, he and his wife took a trip east and checked another five states off the list. This left only two remaining: North and South Dakota. His idea to finish the list? Round up his five brothers for a motorcycle tour through those states in the summer of 2017. After a couple years of planning, the trip came to fruition in early June.
Of the six brothers, only two live in Galesburg: Dave, 65, and Dale, 60. The other four brothers came together from all parts of the country. Donald, 59, came to the trip from Minooka; Dean, 57, came from Sandy, Utah; Duane, 57, came from Peoria; and the youngest brother Darren, 50, came all the way from Houston. All six brothers graduated from Galesburg High School and are the sons of Richard and the late Phyllis McKillip of Galesburg.
The brothers decided to base out of Rapid City, South Dakota, and begin the first leg of their tour toward the Badlands.
The brothers also brought other parts of the large family with them, including their sisters and children, allowing them to sit on the back of the bikes as they went along. They also brought two trucks and a car to tow some of the extra bikes during the trip and to pack various suitcases and gear. The group stopped in many cities along their long ride, including Deadwood, Sturgis and even a stop near Mount Rushmore.
At certain points, the group split up to do various activities along the way, but they were together for the majority of the ride and made sure to get together for at least a meal every day. The trip last for eight days and the brothers traveled 2,237 miles, measured with a bike pedometer.
Besides a pinhole leak on a water coolant hose on Dale’s bike, which was fixed along the way at a local Napa auto parts store, the group had few problems along their journey.
However, at one point the group came across a herd of buffalo crossing the street. This is the moment they count as one of the most memorable from the trip.
“We rode maybe a mile coming down this hill and were suddenly right in the middle of this herd,” Dale said. “We sat there and we didn’t know what to do. Suddenly, a tour bus came by and wasn’t going to stop. We ended up following the bus and not even 100 yards deep, we were face to face with the buffalos’ watering hole. It was absolutely awesome.”
Dave recalls missing a lot of time back home while he was in the military, giving him an extra reason to make such trips as this with the family. Now, the brothers get together on a yearly basis, for holidays and otherwise. Though they can’t always have every single family member present, they feel lucky to be able to spend so much time together. With their mother passing years ago and their father in his later years, they see this trip as a special circumstance to be able to enjoy the time they have together.
“We’re a close family,” Dale said. “We went as far as to drive 14 hours to surprise Dave on his 37th birthday. If there’s a will and a way, we will all be together.”
The brothers have already started making plans for their next family trip. One idea has been to go down to Tennessee and North Carolina within the next two years to ride Tail of the Dragon and see parts of the country through the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Duane said he feels lucky to have the chance to continue doing these things with his brothers. He sees the good feelings the siblings have as a testament to his parents and the way they raised the kids to bond so strongly. He sees the family as an all-inclusive group that truly wants to spend time together and to continue to make these memories.
“Sure, we have our differences at times and our opinions are our own, but these relationships matter,” Duane said. “This is an incredible gift that some families don’t have. I count my lucky stars all the time that I was born into this family.”
Source: The (Galesburg) Register-Mail, http://bit.ly/2vy8d6C
Information from: The Register-Mail, http://www.register-mail.com
This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by The (Galesburg) Register-Mail.