Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Giddy up and gone

When I return to Anchorage, sometimes it’s difficult to finish my blogging for my trip.  But when colder than cold weather sets in, it makes it easier to sit in front of the computer and complete my mission, or at least get a bit further on with it.  So here goes.

By Friday, Oct. 9, I was back on the road and making miles.   I’d gotten a bad sunburn the previous afternoon as I’d not “sunscreened up” when the sun came out in the afternoon, but today I was better prepared for that. It seems as though I start out the day in cloud cover and it clears by about 2 in the afternoon and by then I don’t think about sunscreen.  That needed to be remedied.

I’d gotten somewhat behind due to being lost a few times, and wanting to go see things.  I’m easily sidetracked (It’s called squirrel syndrome.), and now had to buckle down to the mission at hand … getting to Phoenix.  So, ride, no photo stops. 
I'm always up for a photo of a train.
But I did have something important to do.  My friend, Ruth, lives in Topeka, so while I was stopped I called her to see if she wanted to have lunch.  She asked where I was.  Once we determined how far each of us was away from a specified destination, the answer was “You bet”.  We met at a gas station.  I got there a little bit before she did and was just hanging around, drinking some water and watching people.

A vehicle pulled in, and while I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to it, I heard someone get out of the driver’s side.  I heard footsteps go along the walk and around the side of the building.  Then these words were quite clear, “Hey, Goofy.  Did you know you’re smoking right next to a propane tank”?

Whoa.  Who does that?  A young man came toward me from around the side of the building and I chatted him up a bit.  His name was Taron, a service tech for Wiese in Kansas City.  It turns out that he’s done studies in safety, he works for a company that values safety, and he works at being safe and helping other people be safe.  He tries hard to make others aware that they’re doing unsafe things, but in a way that they won’t be offended.  I believe this young man hit the mark.  I spoke with him for a bit, and he was clever, engaging and committed to working with people.

Then Ruth appeared and it was time to ride for lunch, and then to a shop in Junction City.  I’ve been trying to stop at shops I’ve not visited before so that I can collect dip dots or dealer pins for my map.  I’ve gathered a few, so the mission is going quite well. 

We had to part, and I headed to Salina, Kansas, arriving just before sunset.  While it wasn’t a big-mileage day, and I’d not crossed an entire state like I’d mostly been doing, I’d still managed to do 411 miles, and I was on my way to getting out of Kansas. 
These are out in some field in Kansas.  I've passed them more than once, but they always intrigue me.
They must go on for abut a half mile, and continue around a corner.  They appear to be recycled items, and some are quite artistic.
The next was another shorter day as I needed to get a new front tire … safety says do it.  I ended up in Guymon, Oklahoma, with 345 miles under my belt.  

The stench was upon me ... coming at me, attacking me from all sides.  This was the largest area of feedlots I've ever been through.  Remind me to stay out of Oklahoma.
I got brave on Sunday, Oct. 13.  I didn’t wear long johns and figured I’d pay for that.  Yep, I sure did.  Froze for quite a while, but once on the road I’m too stubborn to stop and put on chaps or anything else.  Oh well.  In this country it usually warms up pretty nice, and I was counting on it. 

It was still a good day.  It was sunny, making it way easier to get up and ride.  My knees were in the breeze, I was feeling good and I was moving out.  I was running harder, and could tell that just by gas mileage.  When I’m running more conservatively I get anywhere from 45-55 miles-per-gallon.  Running harder?  Not so good … 31-35 miles-per-gallon.  I’ve figured out it’s not very practical to run 80 mph or better with the big dogs on the Interstates.  Which is another reason to try to take secondaries most of the time.  My guardian angel was running hard, too, but I was keeping up with her.  They say don’t ride any faster than your guardian angel can fly.  This one can fly, believe me. 

I stopped in Tucumcari, New Mexico, for gas.  I turned down a main street.  In two miles there was one gas station and no public restroom.  I did not gas up there as they didn’t need my business if there’s no place to “rest.”  It was an interesting stretch of road.  It was part of the old Route 66 and there were more hotels on this stretch of road than I’ve seen anywhere else.  They were all set to the 50s and 60s themes.  I should have stopped to take a photo but a restroom somewhere was loudly calling my name.

The highway had another gas station.  I stopped.  There was a line of women 10 deep.  A tour bus.  What?  I told the lady last in line to look for me peeing alongside the road and wave to me.  I’m sure she thought I was a nut case.

Across the highway there was a different as station to which I had immediate availability. 

Around Vaughn, I hit Highway 60, which is the one that will take me on into the Phoenix area and through some of my favorite Arizona riding.  But for now, near Vaughn, I saw a big dust devil and slowed down to avoid it hitting me crosswise.  That was the beginning of the worst wind of the day.  New Mexico stayed windy until I got into the mountains in Arizona, and heading toward the last leg of my journey. 

Sometimes you see the strangest vehicles pulled up at the hotel.
I’d decided to not try to get into Phoenix during the heat of the day and stayed in the high country of Arizona, riding down and into Phoenix on Monday, Oct. 14.  It was nearly over, this trip.  There were some friends to have lunch with, laundry to do, and repacking the bike for the next trip.  But now, I truly was finished riding for the season.  It had been a good one, logging more than 33,000 miles this year.  And a new year is coming.