Today is Beth’s and my 25th wedding anniversary. We’ll celebrate later in the summer with some sort of getaway.
I rode my personal best in terms of miles in one day – 610. Not nearly an Iron Butt day, but maybe someday I’ll try to ride 1000 miles in 24 hours. The day started by climbing straight into the mountains up Taos Canyon. The speed limit on the road is 40 mph and that’s not too generous. Along the first several miles of the road are cabins, cottages, and art studios. It looked like a neat place to spend some time exploring, but of course at 6:30 a.m. no one was open. Farther up the mountain the speed limit was 25 mph and that was about right. The curves were tight and steep.
The road goes down into a valley and then climbs up and over another range. By 9 am I dropped down into the flats of northern New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas. Quite a contrast in terrain. Oklahoma and western Kansas are high plains. There aren’t very many trees, just grassland. Throughout the state along the route I took are cattle. Even when you can’t see them you can smell them. I pulled over at an overlook in Dodge City to see some of the feed lots.
Eastern Kansas has more farms and ranches. There are grain elevators in every town. The speed limit is usually 45 mph through the towns. At the edge of one town I followed an older, green, small pickup truck. The sliding window behind the driver was open a bit. The pickup was doing less than the speed limit. I thought it was a bit strange as all the other pickups drove fast and passed me whenever they could, even though I was usually doing a bit more than the speed limit. Just before the slow pickup made a left turn on a local road it became evident why the driver was taking his time. My helmet filled with the smell of that “special” smoke. He made his turn, my helmet cleared, and I was on my way again.
I stopped for gas and a snack in one of those small towns with big grain elevators. The store had three booths along the front windows. An older gentleman was sitting in the middle booth, so I sat in the last booth to eat my sandwich. A gray-haired lady came in and sat at the first booth. She talked with one of the teen aged girls who was in the store and she greeted the guy in the middle booth. It was obvious that people know everyone in town and what’s going on. The lady looked at me with some concern and talked to the other gentleman about a young woman who had been in a motorcycle crash. The victim was in a drug-induced coma during this phase of her recovery.
Another older fellow came in and joined the guy in the middle booth. He asked me about my bike and where I was headed. He has a BMW R1200 and had been up to Illinois and Wisconsin with a friend a few weeks earlier. the friend had the same model GPS, but had trouble with it. They had to call the Garmin factory to get it unlocked. I asked him how he liked his bike. He said he liked it very much, but the gear ratios were too tall and they didn’t need to be. He said he needed to be sure he had the engine speed up when starting in first. He wished me well on my trip. As I passed the lady in the first booth, she told me to be very careful. I thanked her and marveled at the contrasting sentiments of these two.
The weather was good and I felt good, so I kept riding until I hit Emporia and the end of the red roads for this trip. I’m staying at Rodeway Inn; tomorrow I’ll aim for Indianapolis. If all goes well, I should be back in Pittsburgh on Friday.