The last road day of a vacation is always the hardest for me. Your brain usually gets home about one day before your bike does. You have to be kind of careful with that because it makes you stop concentrating on staying alive, and that is bad. When we rolled out, it looked like we were going to be riding into a thunderstorm in Austin, so we stopped in Brownwood, TX to put on raingear and get ready for it. We got a total of 11 drops between the four of us, and we stopped a few miles later and took off our rain liners. We ended up getting to Austin without any more rain.
Knowing we were pushing to get into Austin before the storm, we really rode hard today. The way I put it was "Roll like vikings". We stopped twice for gas, and that was it. We only stopped long enough to fill the tanks and drink water, and then we were back on the road. Then we got in and did not see a drop of rain all day long.
After doing a post trip inspection on the bike, I found that one of my side case mounts snapped. It broke at the connection to the passenger peg. Not the same place the other one broke. This one is not going to be fixable with JB weld. I am going to have to replace them completely. It sucks, but it is the price of admission I guess. At least it is a bag mount, not a transmission.
It is time for bed to sleep off this trip. I will put up a full summary later on this week.
Well, we should be home at some point during the day tomorrow. We are spending our last night in Abilene, and we are taking off at 8:00 in the morning. The ride back has been a bit of a beating. We had pretty significant crosswinds the whole way back from Tucumcari. My shoulders are sore, my elbows are sore. I just want to fall down and sleep.
I finally shook off the nerves from the tank-slapper. It took a couple days to clear that out of my head and keep moving. It just seemed like every movement of the bike was amplified and I had a hard time relaxing. The fact that we had a 15-20 mph crosswind most of the way both yesterday and today did not help things at all. I will do a trip wrap up by this coming weekend, and try to get the pictures organized a bit better and actually captioned.
Today was the first day of the ride home. We have passed the apex, and now we are dealing with re-entry. We started off the morning in Tucumcari, NM. It was a cool morning with a light breeze when we started. Since we are headed back south, we are going through the section of New Mexico that I don't enjoy riding through. Aside from the hideous winds and the stupid heat, there are long stretches of nothing. Leaving town on NM 209 toward Clovis, the road is straight. We could actually see the road disappear over the curvature of the earth at one point. All I could see in front of me was a mesa that stretched from one side of my field of view to the other, and a road that was going straight to it. After about 20 minutes we got close enough for me to tell that there was not one, but two mesas in front of us and the road curved between them. That was a fairly disturbing visual on the motorcycle.
The other thing that makes me dislike riding in the desert is the sensation of standing still. Since the only real features in the landscape is a road that goes straight over the horizon, and a Mesa in the distance, riding is very disorienting. The speed limit was 65mph. While I am watching the horizon, if feels like I am standing still. There is no movement, just vibration and wind. There are no close features to see whipping past you an the side of the road. I looked down at my speedometer and it is still telling me 65. Then I look at the yellow road markings shooting under my bike, and I feel this sudden blast of acceleration. It feels like I have just gone from a dead stop to 65mph instantly. It was very disorienting.
We crossed the border back into Texas at a little town called Texico. I have always noticed that when I cross back into Texas from anywhere it just seems to get nicer. In New Mexico we were fighting nasty crosswinds. Once we came back into Texas, the winds started calming down a bit. I have also noticed that the desolation out there looks different. In New Mexico, everything is just empty. All of the colors tend to blend together, and the sky just seems kind of dull. There is some amazing scenery as far as mesas and draws and mountain ranges off in the distance. I do kind of enjoy running out across New Mexico, there are some pretty views out there, but watching the road go over the horizon and not getting any closer, even after 30 minutes of running, starts eating away at your brain. It is easy to get your brain into a rut that can get kind of spooky. You will see a sign that indicates a curve ahead, and you can see all the way to the horizon and there are no curves that are visible. Then you spot the little draw that drops about 5 feet or so makes a quick curve around nothing at all, and then continues directly inline with the road behind you.
We also had a major accomplishment today. This was the first time all 4 bikes made it past the burned out shell station in Anton, TX. Last time we tried to pass that station, Kel blew her transmission out of her bike. This is also the first time we all four pulled into the Lubbock Radisson under power. Kel threatened to kill one or all of us if we tried to stop at that little gas station to get a picture.
Getting up and getting moving was a bit difficult today. This is the last day on the route, and tomorrow we head home. Since we are cutting the trip a bit short, we are just going to take our time getting home. No need to push high mileage days, just move it along home at a leisurely pace.
The thing that has come as the biggest shock to me on this trip is the number of people from other places that I am seeing. I am not talking about other states, I mean other countries. So far, we have seen a group of Germans, a couple groups from Canada, one group from Switzerland, and a whole group from Norway/Sweden. They were a tour group that comes in from Norway and rents Harleys and rides from Chicago to L.A. There were about 20 or so bikes, and they were moving like a band of vikings headed for a village. They pulled into the Midpoint cafe about 10 minutes after we did, took a bunch of pictures, spent a lot of money in the gift shop, had some pie, and rode out in about an hour or so. It was actually kind of scary to watch the ruthless precision with which they moved through the gift shop into the cafe, and then back on the road. While we were at the midpoint, we ran into a few guys from Spain. they started the route in Dallas, and were headed for L.A.
After the midpoint, we went to Glen Rio. This is a little ghost town on the TX/NM border. This is where the First/Last Motel in Texas was located. Here is a shot from the motel.
After that, we took off down the older alignment of 66. It is about 15 miles of unpaved road. This was where the first real pucker of the trip came from. About 5 miles in, I started getting some heavy head-shake from the bike on the gravel. A bit further on, I hit some sand and it threw me into a full on tank-slapper. I managed to ride it out and keep the bike up, but I think I ruined my pants. Turns out Glenn, who was riding behind me, was using me for his canary in a coal mine. When I hit something that threw me sideways, he know to slow down and be gentle with it. Since we were never getting over about 20 mph, Kel and I were both having heat problems. If I could get up to 30 mph, the bikes would cool. The problem with 30 mph is that you are in tank-slapper territory again. I am glad we went down there, but I think one time is enough.
After we got back on pavement, we hit I-40 and ran straight through to the hotel. My nerves were not up for more riding.
We decided to burn a day and go out to Palo Duro Canyon near Amarillo, we also stopped by Cadillac Ranch on the way. We had a lot of fun at the ranch, and of course I had to mark it. We found some spray paint on the ground and I put my "heart with wings" on a Cadillac. Kel marked it too with a KDVG 2010:
The ride down into the canyon was very twisty, but the speed limit was only 30mph. It was also only about 7 miles to the bottom of the canyon, and then 7 miles coming back up. Unfortunately the video camera failed so I don't have any video of the trip down into the canyon. That just means that we will have to go back
We had lunch at the trading post at the bottom of the canyon and then made it back to the hotel by 3:00.
Tonight we had dinner at The Big Texan. If you ware staying in a hotel along I-40, they will send a car out to pick you up.
We managed to make our way to the National 66 Museum in Elk City, OK. It is a pretty nice little complex. They have some real neat stuff there. I got a few pics, they are in the slide show further down. Overall it was a very relaxing ride today. We pretty much wanted to get to Amarillo so we vould go and explore some in Palo Duro Canyon and then have dinner at the Big Texan. I think today we actually managed to find a higher percentage of original pavement than we have any other day. Except for about 9 miles on the interstate, we were on Route 66. For most of the trip it was the frontage road, but you have to be very alert and switch sides of the highway or you will be forced onto the interstate due to a creek. This will happen if the bridge is on the other side of the highway. Then there are times where the access road will take off into the middle of nowhere and pass through a few towns and then come back to the interstate.
I think the funniest thing I saw was just west of Texola, OK. When you cross the border you end up on the frontage road of I40. It is a 2 lane 2 way road. The neat part about it is that there were yellow wildflowers growing on the side of the road that were high enough that you could not see I 40, but you could hear it. By the time you got to where the flowers were short enough to see over, we were behind the trees again.
Crossing back into Texas also meant Texas bugs. I collected a huge grasshopper in the cooling fins on my motor. It was kind of scary.
Here is the shot of the U Drop Inn in Shamrock, TX:
It was actually a pretty tiring day of riding for only going about 150 or so miles. Route 66 miles are like dog miles. They feel much longer than the odometer says. This is maily due to the fact that you may end up going 70mph, or you may end up going 10mph on a gravel road. You may also circle an intersection a few times trying to figure out how to get there from here. Then realizing that the only way to get to that section of 66 is to take the back exit of a hotel parking lot.
After we got back from dinner last night, we checked on the bikes and my kickstand had sunk half an inch in the parking lot. The nice people at the Outback Steakhouse gave us a couple small cooking tins to put under the stands so we wouldn't sink.
Here is the route we took, hopefully, I will shoot some video from Palo Duro Canyon tomorrow.
So today we took out of Yukon. After looking at the weather options and the condition of all involved, we decided yo continue down Rt 66. We are taking very small jumps, and we will likely end in Tucumcari. Then we will either head back to Austin, or do something else.
Since we have drastically cut back our days, we have a lot of time to mess around and see what we can find. Today, as we left Yukon, we saw a big sign that said "Original Route 66, this way". Beside that one that was an arrow pointing another direction that said "Paved 66". The one for paved 66 was very small and hand painted. It was almost like they did not want us to find it. We followed that one all the way to Hydro Oklahoma. That was where we ran across Lucille's. This was the original that has closed down. We stopped and got a few pictures and then went on to Weatherford, OK to the new Lucille's and had lunch.
After that is was on to Clinton, OK to visit the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum. We managed to follow a little bit of the Route to Elk City, OK, but we ended up back on the Interstate and on our way to the hotel. We are going to hit the Elk City National Route 66 Museum in the morning.
The bid thing I am seeing on this trip is that it is not a mile burner. If you want to ride a lot of miles, don't do 66. Moving too fast misses too much. Following the actual route will be slow. The ribbon road was 13 miles and it took us over an hour to complete. Today we left Yukon at 11:00 and made it to the hotel in Elk City at 5:30. We only went 100 miles or so.
Well, after 4 riding days, we got a look at the weather and the condition of the riders and decided that discretion was the better part of valor. Between Vern's bum knee, my trick elbow, and Glenn's sensitivity to heat, we decided that trying to cross the panhandle and then New Mexico in 30 to 40 mph crosswinds would just be stupid. Today we burned a day in Yukon, OK to get the new routing down. We have decided to turn East and go to the Barber Motorsports Museum. The miles will be a little easier on the joints, and the weather will be better.
Spending the day in Yukon has been interesting. We went to the BMW dealership over in OKC to pickup a new pair of gloves to replace the ones that Vern blew the seams on. While we were there, we ran into a couple guys, one from Florida, and one from Toronto. They were going down Route 66. Kel spent about an hour going over maps with them.
Random thought from too many miles on the road...."My butt is asleep, that wasn't a fart.....it is snoring.
We also had our "Wild Hogs" moment....we went into the little restaurant in the lobby of our hotel. The name of the place is Big Dick's Roadhouse. It took us about 5 minutes to realize that we were not in our element there. This is not a restaurant, this is a bar that serves food. It had a very nice bar feel, but we felt a bit.....out of place, especially when most of the other customers sang along with the chorus of "Jack and Dianne". I also got to explain to the rest of the crew that "Biker Friendly" does not always necessarily include the touring crowd..... The service was excellent, the food was awesome.
Ok, tomorrow is the leg to Ft Smith, AR. Kind of a short leg. Most of them will be due to the fact that we only have about 800 miles to cover to get to the museum and 4 days to do it.
Here are a few shots of the Canadian River Bridge here in Yukon.