Thursday, July 31, 2014

Monday, Monday ... sometimes it just works out that way

Slider always gets me out of town.  She always gets me to where I want to be, and then usually she goes one way and I head the other.  This time I wanted to go on Interstate 80, east toward Mineola, Texas, and then angle up on 37 to a place called De Queen, Arkansas.  It’s because my friends encourage me to behave badly.  So, a photo op was in order.

Sometimes your plans don’t always work out the way you think they will.  I stopped along the road to double check my map and my bike wouldn’t start when I got back on.  Crap!!!

A bike going the other direction asked me with the thumb’s up if I was okay.  I signaled with the thumb’s down and he came around.  His name was Gary and he was on his way to work.  He pulled the fuse panel, but nothing going on there.  He couldn’t help me. 

While Gary was there and I was trying to call Roadside Assistance, a mobile repair unit pulled in behind us.  The guy got out and turns out while he works on trucks, trailers and refrigeration units, he also does some motorcycle work.  He figured it was the battery so I unloaded my bike and he finally got it jump started.  I reloaded everything back on it.  What a guy.  Turns out he is a prospect for the Bandidos MC.  He was very kind and respectful to me and I think he respected his wife as that’s what he called her … no derogatory names.  He also would not accept any payment, and just said I was a biker and that we should help each other.  I politely asked if I could take his photo.  It didn’t hurt that he was quite easy on the eyes.  (Yep, I still have eyes, and they’re good ones.)  If you want more information on this organization, Google it.  I did.

My first guardian angel for the day.
Off I rode heading to Tyler, Texas, and the Harley shop.  In trying to get to I-20, I got challenged big-time directionally and just flat could not find it … construction, bad directions.  I stopped to check my phone GPS and made the mistake of putting down the kickstand without the bike first being in neutral.  On a Police bike, that’s the signal to shut it down.  And shut down it did … with no restart in sight.  I got off the bike and just threw up my hands while thinking “that was stupid,”  along with a few other choice words.

A pickup truck with a not-so-young, not-so-old gentleman immediately pulled up and asked if I was okay.  Nope, sure not.  He had jumpers.  Once again I unloaded my bike, sweating, drops of sweat streaming down my face into my eyes and stinging me to tears, down my back and my front … I was soaking wet.  Ugh!!!  But once again we got the bike started and he gave me the proper directions (that worked) to get to I-20.  He would not accept any money either.  WOW!!!  What nice folks I’ve run into.  (Yes, I know there are not-so-nice ones out there, too, but I am pure-of-heart-mostly, and am living a charmed life.  I also try to be very aware.)  Another lady stopped as well.  Yep, I’m good now.  Thank you very much. 

Off I went to Tyler.  My battery test showed it as DEAD, DEAD, DEADER THAN DEAD.  Did I tell you it was DEAD?  A half hour to 45 minutes later and I was back on the road, heading somewhere.  I went east toward Longview, Texas, and eventually got headed north toward Arkansas.  I was back on track, although on a different road than I’d originally intended to ride.  Oh well.  It really doesn’t matter, except that I had to stop and stay further south than I’d intended, still in Texas.

Remember the saga of my friends Joe and Verlie (my Phoenix bike’s foster parents) and the motor coach?  This time as they were traveling someone came up and told them their pickup truck they were pulling had come loose and was hanging on by mere security chains.  When they stopped to check it, the truck rear-ended the motor coach.  That truck is developing a nasty habit of rear-ending other vehicles.  That’s two.  Anyway, the cotter pin or whatever it is that attaches it to the hitch had come out, broken, whatever.  But luckily, no damage other than a hole in the coach bumper. 

But wait, there’s more, and it hasn’t been good news on this trip.  On their way from Medford, Oregon, to Portland where Joe’s family reunion is, they blew a tire on the driver’s side rear axle.  While they got someone out to repair it, they had to limp to a garage as the tire also took out the transmission line and they were losing $80-a-gallon fluid.  Some work, some welding, and they got back on the road and arrived at their campground/resort destination.  At least they did not have a wreck when the tire blew.  They’ve been very lucky that way … only the vehicles have been damaged in the making of this trip.  But it’s all been quite expensive, I’m sure. 

On Tuesday morning (July 29), I once again headed north and made it into Arkansas.  It wasn’t too many miles and this mission was accomplished, De Queen, Arkansas. 
Yep, I'm behaving badly.  And it's all your faults ... encouraging me all the time.
From there I continued north as I wanted to go to Fort Smith, Arkansas.  There was something there I wanted photograph, the 30-foot-tall Mr. Peanut from Planter’s Company.  The statue was originally a Peabody, Massachusetts, landmark, and I wanted a photo since I have friends in Peabody and want them to see it.  Maybe they remember it?  It was restored and moved to the company’s lawn in Fort Smith to live on in history.
Planter's Factory.
And Mr. Peanut.
There was another mission for the day, the Toad Suck Harley shop in Conway, Arkansas.  I rode I-40 to get there as I was starting to fall a little behind where I wanted to be.  What a name for a shop.  Of course, I need a shirt with this name. 

“The Legend of Toad Suck

Long ago, steamboats traveled the Arkansas River when the water was at the right depth. When it wasn't, the captains and their crew tied up to wait where the Toad Suck Lock and Dam now spans the river. While they waited, they refreshed themselves at the local tavern there, to the dismay of the folks living nearby, who said: "They suck on the bottle 'til they swell up like toads." Hence, the name Toad Suck. The tavern is long gone, but the legend lives on.”  (Taken from a website I found on Google.)

There’s also Toad Suck Daze, a 3-day festival held on the streets of downtown Conway.  It’s the first weekend in May if you’re looking for something to do.

Heading north out of Conway, I rode in beautiful hilly country, lush greenery and wonderful roads.  Maybe I’ve been on this road before, maybe not.  It doesn’t matter as it’s not the same as … north or south? every day like at home.  It was a pleasant day’s ride and I ended up in Harrison, Arkansas, about 30 miles south of Branson, Missouri.

I was trying to get to Mankato, Minnesota, on Thursday to stay with my cousin, Kate.  Kate had made arrangements for me to stay at the convent campus where she lives.  (Don’t get up-in-arms; I’m sure it would have been okay for me … haha!!)  But one of our hosts for the reunion was admitted to the hospital and Kate had to leave early to help get everything ready.  So while I could still stay there I chose to bypass it as I’d rather Kate be there to show me around.  Next time.

When I awoke on Wednesday (July 30), I waited just long enough to make sure there was some rain.  I really hadn’t ridden in any rain, just a shower or two, sometimes heavy, sometimes not.  Today was the day.  My mission was to just keep heading north.  I was not supposed to be riding in rain, but it kept coming down, from a drizzle to harder, bigger drops.  Okay, in Branson  I decided it was time to gas up and gear up. 

This vehicle was at the gas station ... half cab, half police car.  Very unique.  It sure gets your attention and I hope it works to get drunks home safely, as well as keep others safe from them.

Gearing up did the trick as I only rode in about 35 more miles of it, 65 miles in all, really nothing in the big scheme.  At home we’d be riding in it for days.  Down here, you often only ride for a short period of time, and this time I was grateful.  It wasn’t cold, but it sure made for a dirty bike and wet pants.  I think my dark blue pants leaked color onto my cream-colored butt pad Slider gave me last year.
The day got beautiful, and perfect for sightseeing.  I've always been attracted to bales or rolls of hay.  This was no different, but there was an added element.

This tribute to our country was right next to the rolls of hay.  What a find, out in the middle of nowhere.
This is a better shot of two of the four statues.  They were very impressive ... just on the top of the hill.  I climbed up to take photos.  Hope I didn't get chiggers this time. 
I made a lunch stop in Sedalia, Missouri, and used the extra time in not having to be in Mankato Thursday to schedule a 35,000-mile-service.  That wasn’t as easy as I’d expected.  I had to call three shops.  They were all booked up, backed up and were dealing with Sturgis traffic.  What?  I’d forgotten.  Yep, Sturgis.  I got an appointment at Chipp’s Harley-Davidson in Osceola, Iowa, for Thursday morning.  Some of us visited this shop last year after the 110th reunion in Milwaukee.  I had wanted a shirt from here as it comes quite close to matching the license plate on the cop bike, CHIPS1.  So now I’ll have another.
Once I’d finished lunch and made the appointment my goal was to get to Osceola and overnight near the shop so I didn’t have to get up at daybreak to ride and be there by 9 a.m.  That mission, too, was accomplished.  Guess I’m just mission-oriented.
Sometimes ya just gotta turn around and go back and get that photo.  I don't know how the person made this but it was beautiful and I went back to get this photo, turning around on a narrow two-lane road, which is always a challenge for me.
On the way, I again rode wonderful roads.  While State Highway 65 sometimes is four-lane, or three when it’s got passing lanes, much of the time it is two-lane, the kind you love to ride.  This road had taken me through the hillls of Arkansas to the lushness of Missouri to the agricultural fields of Iowa.  I really enjoyed this ride, and stopped a time or two for photo opportunities. 
A roadside table set up to sell wares.  It's good use of a power pole.
After all, I needed blog fodder.  I’ve seen Amish carriages, four of them.  I’ve always enjoyed seeing them.  But I often wonder how they can possibly survive in this day and age.  There is so much “progress” and it must be difficult for their young people with all the technology, vehicles and so on.

One of the places I stopped was Peter’s Market.  The reason I stopped mainly was because they had fresh peaches, and I was sure wanting to sample a few.  They had rows of different kinds of peaches, and it’s difficult to make a decision for only one kind, especially when you can only get one.  I talked to some other folks on a bike and we decided to split a basket of them, so each of us got three.  Perfect.  (Plus the lady gave me a tip of something to look for … quilts on the side of barns, mostly in Iowa.)
Did you say peaches?  How many kinds do you want?  You want it, they've got it.
But there was so much more to Peter's.  It was not merely a produce stand, but a real market with jars of pickled this and that, apple butter, and butters of all kinds, and the fruit?  I’ve never seen fruit the size of the cantaloupes they had.  WOW!!!
This is a full-blown store, with everything you need for a snack.
If you want something pickled, there are lots to choose from.
Have you ever seen cantaloupes this big?  $2.99 each.  Don't we pay nearly that per pound at home?
Then I found the ciders and slushies.  There was a peach-lemonade slushie that I had to try.  Talk about  refreshing drink … this was IT!!!!  I enjoyed my short stay, but then I was off again, landing in Osceola about a mile from the shop.
It was a great day of riding ... farmland, animals, produce stands.  Fun, relaxing, the kind of ride day you dream of. 


Visiting good friends is always in style

We spent Saturday morning in a leisurely fashion … drinking coffee, talking, and trying out some Zumba CD’s Slider had bought.  We also replaced her furnace/air conditioning filter up in the attic area and were a bit dewy. 
I'd been up in that attic and couldn't find where to replace the filter.  Slider could and did. 
We worked so hard we needed a reward so we had to get showered and hit the road.  It was time for some shopping therapy.  I had a couple of places I wanted to go …
I must have tried on 50 pairs of shoes to find a pair of sandals that felt good.  My poor feet suffer and it's hard to find something that feels good.  Usually they aren't the best looking, but these are Clark brand and look and feel good.  You'll see.  Maybe.  I'm not sure if I'll bring them home or make them my Lower 48 sandals.
DSW for a new pair of sandals, a couple of other places since I needed a family reunion outfit and, most importantly, the Dirt Store.  Don’t be fooled.  The Dirt Store is only what we call it.  It’s a nursery (Ron’s Organics … her husband) with a boutique inside, called The Brown Eyed Girl.  I love this place and the lady who owns and runs it, Mona.  She has unique items and I never tire of looking, purchasing a few items and talking with her.  Mission accomplished. 
There's so much to look at at the Dirt Store ... beautiful, unique and things I never see at home.  Of course, I don't do much shopping at home for these types of things.  It's much more fun to come down here to either Texas or Arizona or anywhere to shop.  The Lower 48 is where I do that ... different things ... and a present or two for others is always in good form.
We’d had lunch at a Souper! Salad! But what was missing was … wait for it … frozen yogurt.  I located a place online called Sweet Frog, and we found it.  Oh yes, delicious.  It was quite good.  They had cake batter frozen yogurt but no fresh raspberries.  I’m pleased to announce that our frozen yogurt place, the Yogurt Lounge in Anchorage, is the best I’ve had … although there may be a few others to try.  Home grown is my favorite.  I think I’m becoming quite a connoisseur.
Cake batter frozen yogurt ... how can I resist?  I can't.
Slider and I got up Sunday morning, but it was just a nice day to relax, do laundry and talk.  We don’t often talk on the phone so this has to make up for a year’s worth of chatting.  But in chatting we think maybe the long sleeves are making my sunburn worse.  She gave me a pair of socks and I cut the feet out of them.  I’ll use them for my arms and put sunscreen under and maybe that will help.  Armlets … the protection I hope will work.
Armlets ... hoping this works to keep my arms from blistering up each day.  Blister and peel is not my idea of a good time.
We eventually decided we needed to try a catfish place she likes, the Catfish Cove.  It was quite good, and a lot of food.  But I was still daydreaming about the brisket I’d had on Friday.

All too soon it was time for me to get back on the road … Monday, time to head for Minnesota. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Blisters upon blisters from the searing heat

I was up and moving.  I’m being plagued by blisters on my sunburn and my dermatologist will chastise me when she sees what I’ve done to my skin.  I’ve done everything I can think of … sunscreen, a long-sleeved shirt.  But still I’m blistering up and now starting to peel.  This isn’t good.  I have to be on the road, riding to my next destination. 

On Thursday, July 24, I was working my way across the few short miles left of New Mexico  and heading into Texas, my final destination to be Mesquite where my good friend, Slider, is.  My plan is to spend the weekend since I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like.  It’s nice to take a few days and to spend time on the weekends as my friends aren’t working.  Then they go back to work and I go back to my job of riding Monday through Friday.  Works for me.
There sure are a lot of trains in New Mexico.
The heat hasn’t been too bad.  Propel in my water and ice in my drink has helped a lot.  Drinking more has improved as I often have a problem drinking enough on trips.

Texas came into my headlights near Muleshoe.  Interesting name, that.  The city was founded in 1913 when the Pecos and Northern Texas Railway built an 88-mile line from Farwell to Lubbock.  The name Muleshoe is traced to a brand registered in 1860, and a ranch supposedly named after the owner found a mule shoe in the soil. 

I also had to make another little side trip to find Jolly, Texas (for our friend, Dave Jolly).  It's so small it took me a while and I couldn't even find a sign for the town itself.  This would have to do.

I pretty much just rode, making miles toward my friend.  But I had to make a photo stop … the Boston Terrier Museum.
The Boston Terrier Museum in Floydada, Texas.  I wish it had been open as it would have been fun to poke around in there.  It was opened in 2007 by a husband and wife to showcase their collection of all things Boston Terrier.  The collection (started in 1991) kept growing so to keep him out of trouble with his wife they opened the museum, a former hospital where many of the people who live in Floydada were born.
By the time I hit Wichita Falls, Texas, I figured it was time to call it a day.  The motel I ended up at was called the Wayfarer’s Motor Inn. Do NOT, repeat DO NOT ever stay here.  This is in my top two worst hotel/motels ever.  I’m embarrassed that I even stayed there.  I did not sleep well nor shower.  Nuff said.

On Friday, July 25, I was going to meet up with Slider.  We decided to meet in McKinney, on I-75.  But, of course, I got sidetracked a little bit.  Along the way I saw a crop duster dusting crops.  I had to stop and take a few photos.  It was fascinating to watch and the little plane was yellow.  It was a beautiful thing to watch.
He flew back and forth, and then he was gone, like a mere figment of my imagination.  I so enjoyed watching this as he was like a pilot flying aerobatics, up, down, looping around.
When I got to McKinney, Slider and I had no trouble finding each other.  I pulled off the interstate and pulled into a Lowe’s parking lot.  I checked my text messages.  She was in the next parking lot over at Home Depot.  Great minds. 

Hugs around, and then I was dying of heat … and it wasn’t that hot.  But there’d been an accident that had slowed down the traffic and so I got in later than expected. 

As we’d not eaten we went to a little barbecue place she’d seen on the way to meet me.  What a place.  The food, especially the brisket that was fork-cutting friendly, was over-the-top, mind-blowing delicious … the place and parking lot and drive through were packed.  There’s your sign. 

I know I posted this on Facebook, but it was so good ... what can I say?
On the way home we did the usual, I followed her … and we took a couple of nice roads to stay off the main ones.  There were some nice little curves and I was enjoying the ride.  I had my sheepskin butt pad on and I needed to adjust it so I was sitting up and things felt a little off … I wasn’t leaning into my bag on the back seat.  I looked around to find that it was hanging off the side of my bike with one nylon strap and a bungee cord.  Oh man, I pulled over.  That could have been a disaster, but I was able to avert it.  I can’t believe I didn’t feel the unbalancing of the bike.  That was probably a good thing as I probably just counterbalanced without realizing it; otherwise, I could have been pulled over.
This whole incident scared me as the results could have been disastrous. 
We got my bag secured in Slider’s Cadillac and got to the barn.  I unloaded everything and looked at the strap.  It had broken.  I’d seen a little slit in it and the more I looked at it, the more I think it had been cut.  I just bought this bag last summer so it doesn’t have many miles on it.  And I’ve NEVER had a nylon strap break like this in the middle.  I noticed it when I was packing for this trip, so it must have happened during my spring ride.  
Let the talking marathon begin.  Food, talk, talk and more talk.  Then bed.  I was tired and the nylon strap and more blistering has me stressed out a bit.


Monday, July 28, 2014

On the run again

I continue running along on my Lower 48 trip.  A good thing since my Alaskan bike had an issue (loud clunking noises and difficulty shifting in and out of gear) the day before I left home to come down to Phoenix, Arizona, and on to points east, south, north.   The House of Harley-Davidson picked it up and it’s on its way to recovery.   The diagnosis is that a nut backed off inside the transmission, and there went the transmission.  Parts and pieces.  It will be ready soon and waiting for me when I return home.

A New Yorker ahead of me, a New Yorker behind me.
But back to my New Yorkers.  We left Silver City and headed north and west on Highways 260, 78 and then 191.  What beautiful country we were riding through, at least after we got out of the mining part with big equipment, rock tunnels and a barrenness to it that is beautiful in its own way. 

Mining country.
Kim in the tunnel.

Richard entering the tunnel behind me.
It's beautiful country, and perfect riding.

We were traveling mountain roads that have sheer drop offs, rock walls, flowers, huge trees, and a smell to it that has you breathing deeply breath-after-breath.  It was wonderful, even when we hit a rain shower.  I wasn’t wearing a helmet or much and was thinking it was going to get ugly.  But as quickly as it appeared, it disappeared.  It’s not like home where the rain lasts not an hour or two but for days.   

We still had blue skies, no smoke here.
There's evidence of previous fires in the area.
Smoke in the distance rose like giant plumes over the mountains and mixed with the clouds.  I was hoping we’d not be riding into a wild fire.  The smoke disappeared, but we found it again, multiple times, to the point of smelling it and then riding through some of it.  Luckily we were never threatened by the fire itself. 

Yep, smoke found.
On we rode, 10 mph corners, 25, 35, 45 mph corners.  The 45s are my favorite.  My game is to not hit the brakes and to run 5-10 mph over the speed limit.  Yep, a test every time.

We took a break here ... would be fun to stay a night or so, Hannagan Meadows Lodge.

This one's for you, Biker Bill ... at the lodge.
Black clouds surrounded us and as we kept going it wasn’t looking any better.  Kim checked the Trip Advisor app on her phone (which I now have) and there was a motel/restaurant called the Largo Motel in Quemado, New Mexico.  She noted that it had received good reviews.  Off we went to find it.

When we arrived, it was exactly the kind of place Biker Bill and I like to stay.  A motel laid out so you park outside your door and just walk in.  The bike is in sight and it’s easy, breezy to load and unload the bikes.  And, best part, they told us to park under the roof of the rooms, along the little walkway to protect the bikes from the rain.  Clean, an Internet connection, and great water pressure in the shower.  Yahoo.  Yep, our favorite kind of place.

Biker Bill has a friend who lives nearby in Fence Lake so I messaged him to see if he and his wife would like to join us for breakfast the following morning.  It appeared not, so I’d have to try again the next trip.

We sat outside under the roof, talking and playing on the computers, sorting photos and so on for a relaxing evening that never had a heavy rain, lightning or thunder materialize.  That was good for me although we were protected.  I was so glad to have time to visit more as I don’t know when I’ll next see these wonderful East Coast friends of mine.

Relaxing, working on the computers, chatting.
Wednesday (July 23) there was no sign of the un-New-Mexico-type-weather we’d experienced the day before.  It was a glorious day, which would only be marred by separating from my friends.  It saddens me each time I leave someone behind, but we have to go on to the next adventure … be brave, experience the new, ride to new levels …

As we loaded the bikes, prior to going to breakfast across the parking lot, up rolls a midnight blue Harley trike.  Who is that man behind the dark glasses?  Haha!  Our friend, Dave Bigdog Jolly.  He said it was only right if we’d ridden that far and asked to see him that he ride 45 miles to meet us.  Hell ya!!!
Dave Bigdog Jolly and his trike came to visit.  A wonderful surprise.
Dave joined us for breakfast and we sat for a long time enjoying the camaraderie.  As Dave was running some errands he would ride awhile with Rich and Kim.  I, on the other hand, would only ride with them for about a half mile, then I would head east while they rode in a northerly fashion toward Durango, Colorado. 

I watched them in front of me, going left while I kept going straight on Hwy. 60 heading to Socorro, New Mexico.  My plan was to go north on I-25 and then cut over onto Hwy. 60 again and follow it to Clovis, New Mexico. 

Squirrel!!!  Sidetracked.  I was running 60 and I came upon these big dish-type antenna.  I’ve ridden this way so many times.  I’ve stopped and taken a photo or two, but I’ve never gone into the visitor center.  Should I, shouldn’t I?  Yep, this was the time I was going to do it.

This is the VLA from a distance, before I decided to visit.
This was a fascinating place … the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) Telescope.  It’s named after Karl Jansky who is considered the father of radio astronomy.  He worked for Bell Laboratories and his job was to track down radio noise that would interfere with their overseas wireless communication devices.  Instead he surprised astronomers in 1933 by announcing that he had discovered radio waves coming from the Milky Way. 

The VLA has been the hardest working telescope on earth since 1980, watching the skies day and night for astronomers around the world.  It’s a 22-mile wide telescope made up of 27 dish antennas, which is what I see every time I go by here.  Each dish is 82-feet-across and weighs 230 tons. 
These things don't look so big, but they are huge.
The purpose of the VLA is to do research on the nature of the universe … how did it begin, how big is it, how old and so on.  It was built during the 70s but currently is being updated to make it 10 times more powerful, allowing astronomers to study distant cosmic objects that currently cannot be seen.  It will then be called the EVLA (Expanded Very Large Array). 

The 70s design used waveguide, a stainless steel pipe with wire wound inside it.  With the EVLA the waveguide will be replaced with fiber optics, resulting in an increase a hundred times over in the amount of data that can be brought back from the antenna.
There's also a sun dial at the VLA.
And on one of the sun dial pieces, imagine what I found. I am not sure, guess it's graffiti.  But ... SWEET!!
I probably shouldn’t have made a stop, but it was something I’d wanted to do every time I’d followed Hwy. 60.  I’ve always been in a hurry, going to or from somewhere else, and in a rush.  I’m glad I made the stop.
Yep, very glad indeed.

Once I’d made the run on I-25 and on to 60 I wasn’t so sure about my decision to stop.  In the mountains toward Mountainair, New Mexico, there were dark clouds, not just here and there, not just gathering.  I rode until I saw lightning and hit some rain.  Hmmmm.  Time to turn around, go back and go up I-25 further until I hit I-40 and go east to get around it.  Not so fast.  I did just that, but never made it to I-40. 
I’d gassed up and was told there was something happening up the road and traffic was at a standstill.  I also heard that maybe the rain had passed so I backtracked and went back to 60 east.  Nope.  No rain at all now, although I could see where it had rained pretty hard.  Yep, golden right now.
While I didn’t get to Clovis, New Mexico, which is where I’d planned to be, I stopped only 60 miles short for the night.  It was a good decision.  I was tired and needed to get off the bike.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

New Mexico is in my headlight

Monday  (July 21) dawned bright and beautiful as it seems to most days in Arizona.  I had two missions.  One was to meet up with the New Yorkers, Kim and Richard, in Silver City, New Mexico.  The other was to find the bus with Verlie.  There had been other problems and it was parked down off the road and Joe had gone to Phoenix to get some part repaired and get other things needed for the bus to try to nurse it to Las Vegas, Nevada, to a place that had worked on it and knew the bus and its parts and pieces inside and out.  She was about 18 miles down Highway 260, which was the way I was going anyway.

Of course, the saga of the motor coach didn’t end there.  I found out the bus would not start at the Walmart on Saturday morning until two hours later and then Joe had rear ended a guy at a stop light on his way into town.  Then his engine light on the pickup came on.  Good grief.  If there was no luck on this trip, there would be none at all. 

I got to 260 and then started watching the mile markers … yep, there was the road she described and down it I went.  There was the bus parked just outside the training camp for the Arizona State University football team.  Woo hoo.  Alas, there were no young bucks in sight.  But if you’re going to be broke down somewhere, what a beautiful setting.  Huge trees that stretched to the end of your sight with a smell that made you think you were in the middle of nowhere, and no traffic except for the occasional vehicle going in or out of camp.  It was beautiful.
No access for me.

The beautiful setting, and the perfectly paved spot for the coach.
So, into the bus I went.  We visited and Verlie fixed me lunch.  Jazzy, their little Yorkie, had to tease me with jumping into my lap and out.  What a short memory she has … pretending she doesn’t know me.  Ha!!!
Jazzy and me in a beautiful setting.
All too soon I needed to get back on the road as I’d been there a couple of hours and I would lose an hour going into New Mexico.  It was hard to leave Verlie there alone, but Joe would soon be on his way back. 

On I rode, making time, avoiding any rain clouds, and I rolled into Silver City about 6 p.m. and found the hotel where Kim had reserved rooms for us.  It was the historic Murray Hotel and I loved it. 
The Murray Hotel opened in October 1938, named after William Dennis Murray.
I was backing my bike in next to theirs and down the sidewalk runs Richard.  Oh man, it was so good to see him.  I love my New Yorkers.  We hugged and got my luggage to my room and then went back to where Kim was.  It was another joyous reunion.  I think the New Yorkers are even louder in their greetings and happiness than I am. 
The Little Toad Creek was where Kim and Rich were sitting when I went by.
We had dinner and a wonderful visit.  I decided then that rather than go visit my swan at the Baton Rouge Zoo on this leg of the trip, I’d travel with Kim and Rich for a day as they headed north toward Farmington, New Mexico, for a bike service.  Rich was coming up on 105,000 and desperately needed a rear tire.
The food was excellent, the company even better.

Friday, July 25, 2014

What's happening here?

Adventures … but strange things are happening

There’s always another adventure just around the corner, and this trip, to date, has been no exception.

I arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, Thursday morning, July 17.    Joe was picking me up at the airport and he’d said if I didn’t have too much luggage he could do it on the bike.  I made sure I brought only camera gear, my computer, my phone, medications and make up.  It did not take up much room. 

As I wandered to baggage claim, I was texting Joe to find out where he was.  I was just finishing up and I looked out the window and there he was parked next to the curb, the big silver and copper-toned Ultra Limited motorcycle, my ride and my chauffer awaiting my arrival.  Too cool.
It's nice to be picked up in style.
We loaded my stuff, then I loaded my butt onto the bike and off we went.  What a glorious day to ride, even on the back.  We headed home to drop my things off, pick up my bike and go do some shopping, including getting Systane eye drops.  Later I found out I didn’t really need them as I already had two bottles in my belongings at their house.  Oh well, I can always use them.  (Of course, I lost that bottle for a while, too.)

Later at the house we awaited Verlie’s arrival (from work).  Their plan was to leave in their motor coach the following evening after she got off work as they were going to Colorado to visit her mom, then to a family reunion in Oregon.  Part of the reason to leave at night was so the bus wouldn’t have to work so hard to go up the hills like it would during the heat of the day.  That evening we loaded some, did a bit of cleaning up and readied ourselves as best we could for the following day.  My plan was to follow them to Payson, or wherever they chose to spend the night, stay the night in the coach with them, and then head to Sun City on Saturday to visit with the Peeps for the weekend.
We be loading and getting ready to rock and roll.

On Friday Joe was busy loading things into the motor coach, I helped him wash it, and when Verlie got home we did some last minute loading.  We were quite the caravan … the 45-foot-long, 45,000-pound coach (loaded) pulling a loaded 4,500-pound pickup truck and me following on the bike. 
Washy, washy.
If I don't look while I'm rinsing then if I get Joe he can't complain to me, right?  Sorry, didn't see you  Ha ha.

The pickup adds something to the caravan effect.
I'm loaded up and ready to get on the road.
Out of town we went, leaving maybe 8 p.m. or so.  I followed behind, sometimes close, sometimes not so.  Once we hit Highway 87, it was pretty nice, no stoplights.  But when we hit the hills, I finally reached my point of having to pass them.  They were running about 30 mph, so naturally, with it being a good road with nice easy sweeping turns, I needed to get by and ride, even if it was night time.  There wasn’t much traffic so it was great, and I kind of wasn’t fearing animals too much, but I was very aware that I needed to be watchful. 

At one point I pulled over to wait for them to come up the hill.  They didn’t come, they didn’t come, they didn’t come.  It was dark with no traffic and I could see a long ways, but there weren’t many lights.  A vehicle passed me and pulled over to the side of the road in front of me, maybe 10 car lengths away.  No one got out, no one backed it up, no one hollered out of it.  Time for my left turn signal and an entrance back onto the road.  I didn’t like that. 

I ran slow, and when cars came up behind me I’d use my flashers to make sure they saw me.  Still no motor coach or Joe and Verlie.  Wow, that honking big thing is sure slow.

A car was pulled over to the side of the road with a guy out by it … and he hollered “broke down” as I went by.  Hey, sorry, I don’t know you and I’m not stopping.  I’m not mechanical so it’s not like I could help anyway … and I’m highly suspicious of things like that.  I kept on going as I’d decided to get into Payson and call them to find out where they were.  A car went by (the same one broke down by the side of the road).  A guy was hanging out of the window and he said, “Your friends in the RV are broke down back there.”  Oh.

I stopped and they stopped.  They told me Joe and Verlie were broken down about Mile 217.  I was at about 230 or so.  I went down the road looking for a place I felt safe so I could pull over and call them.  I found it … some buildings, businesses.  So I pulled into the parking lot and pulled around facing out.

Verlie answered the phone and told me what had happened.  The bus overheated, and went black.  Nothing was on, no lights, no flashers, no power steering.  Joe was able to get the coach pulled over toward the side of the road but the back end of the pickup was in the other lane … no flashers and people whizzing by narrowly missing the vehicles and hollering at them horrible things and telling them to get the vehicle off the road, like they’d intended to park in the middle of the highway?  Good grief!!!

A man in a vehicle stopped behind Joe and Verlie’s vehicles and put on his flashers.  From what I heard he was wanting people hollering at them to come back so he could kick their a$$es.  That’s kind of funny.  NOW!!

Verlie and I decided I’d go on to the Walmart in Payson and wait in the parking lot as that was where they would try to get.  I wandered in to Walmart and got a few things, and sat on my bike outside.  It’s quite friendly with a community of motor homes gathered there.  I got to meet a Harlequin Great Dane named Hercules who had ears nearly as soft as a Beagle’s and a man and his son who ride.  So it was not bad and actually entertaining, and the bus pulled in probably an hour after I’d gotten there. 

I got on my bike and over to the coach and we hugged and were glad everyone had made it safely although they’d had to stop several times coming up the hills to add water and let the engine cool off.  Joe said he was glad I’d not been there when the bus broke down as they’d both thought someone would hit their vehicles and they’d be killed.  What a night.  We finally got to bed, but it had been quite an adventure with a lot of excitement … and it wasn’t a good kind, only the kind that stresses you out.

Joe is a mere fraction of himself.  He's been bicycling 30 miles a day.  Wow.

Their Yorkie, Jazzy.  She's a sweet baby.

Perked coffee, yum.

The motor coach kitchen, one side, complete with decorative flowers.
On Saturday morning we got up and I eventually headed back down Highway 87 to go to the Peeps (Judi and Ken) in Sun City. 

Packing up ... goodbye Walmart parking lot.
It was a great ride going down through the big curves in the day time.  But I had to stop at Joe and Verlie’s because I’d gotten up and remembered I’d forgotten to bring a jacket and I’d probably need it going to Minnesota.  Crap.  I picked it up, and then remembered I hadn’t put on any sunscreen.  Too late.  Burned.  And I’d forgotten my Spot Tracker that is in the house.  I can’t get to it.  Guess I’ll just have to post on Facebook.

I got to the Peeps about 2 p.m. and spent a couple of nice and relaxing days.  We had some wonderful meals (including at the Cheesecake Factory, wish we had one), and had Auntie Lavon with us.  We played cards, a game that Ken beats us at every time, and I slept in. 

Mama and baby quail ... they're so cute.
Hummingbirds are always around sipping from the fountain.

We watched hummingbirds and quail and their babies and other birds.  And Judi and I talked for hours on Sunday, never getting dressed until late-afternoon.  Yahoo.  But then it was time to get on the road again.