|Out of the half-dozen or so
Eldorado's we passed through
on our trip, we decided to stop in
Eldorado, Oklahoma for this
three-point IBE photo.
|Our next stop was in Amarillo, Texas
(we crossed the Texas border 6 times,
for those of you keeping count)
for another IBE pic and to give Mike a shot at
the "Free" 72 oz. steak at The Big Texan.
Alas, the idea of everlasting notoriety
clashed with the reality of riding with a
monumental stomach ache for the next
two weeks. Plus, information on
how much the meal cost if you were
unable to finish it was nowhere to be found.
Even though we decided to take a pass,
Mike still took a few minutes to bond
with the gigantic fiberglass bull.
|Our plan had been to stay in Amarillo for the night
so we would be close to a hospital when Mike's
stomach exploded, but with the change in meal plans
came a change in travel plans. We decided instead
to push on 111 miles to Tucumcari, New Mexico
to get some boring desert riding out of the way.
For the first few miles we rode in a bit of a breeze;
for the next few hours, we rode in 40mph sustained
winds with frequent gusts up to 60 mph.
Mike said he was amazed watching me have to ride at about
a 35 degree angle just to stay upright, and wished he could
have taken a picture. Of course, he was riding at a similar
angle himself and the only time he took his hand of the
handlebars was to catch his tank bag as it was flying off.
We finally arrived in Tucumcari, thoroughly exhausted,
and Mike ran in to get us a hotel room while I stayed
outside to keep the bikes upright. A particularly vicious
gust of wind came, causing a hotel light fixture to come
crashing down on my head. (Luckily I was still wearing my
helmet at the time.) Upon collapsing into our room, we
turned on the news to find that most of the towns we had
passed through that day, including Amarillo and points west,
were being pounded by golf ball-sized hail, torrential rain,
and the occasional tornado.
Once again, disaster narrowly averted. This isn't
shaping up to be anything like our normal vacations!
|In Los Alamos, NM, we ran into
a bum GPS point.
Despite attempts to reach the point from
several different directions, we were
unfailingly met by big men in guard shacks
who were not amused by our explanation
as to why we were seeking entry to the
Los Alamos Nuclear Research Facility.
Well, at least we tried!
|All was not lost, however.
It was a beautiful ride in perfect weather
through breathtaking scenery.
Plus, we had an incredible lunch at
the Hill Diner in Los Alamos.
Mike had sweet potato fries that were fried
in a super-thin buttermilk batter (kind of a
Tempura-like consistency), and the sweet
potatoes just melted in your mouth.
Served with a dish of whipped cream for
dipping, these were definitely the surprise
culinary find of the trip!
|Sweeping back roads and endless views
delivered us to Colorado, and yet
another IBE locale ticked off our list.
Being on such a tiny road afforded us
a better photo op than most state line
signs, so we took some time to
kick back and enjoy our surroundings.
|The guys in the "office" looked completely shocked when we walked up to the door.
It appeared by the looks of the sign that at some point, one of the more
functional stoners residing at this ramshackle trailer park said,
"Hey y'all, why don't we throw a sign up there that says 'Campground' and see
if anyone stops. We could get maybe, like, beer money or something, y'all."
Then ten or twelve years later we actually come rolling in, much to the surprise of the
current residents, whose memory of the campground sign is erased daily via
alcohol-induced amnesia. They didn't have any paperwork or anything, and between
the two of them they couldn't figure out when (or if) we were supposed to pay, how much,
or who would stagger off to the liquor store to get another 12-pack and change for our $20.
Mike, still whole-heartedly supporting this plan, then blazed a trail through the dilapidated
trailers and rotting farm equipment to our home for the night: the illustrious Tent/Picnic Area,
situated conveniently in the farthest possible corner away from the bathrooms.
Oh, yes - they did actually have bathrooms. We made the unfortunate mistake of having
Frito Boats for dinner, otherwise neither of us would have ventured into the abominable pits
more than once. I won't repulse you with the details; suffice to say that even the numerous
stray dogs in the area wouldn't come close. I hope we were up to date on all our shots...
|Our Breathtaking Northerly
|Westward we gaze
The Vast Junkyard
|Another big problem came to our attention shortly after setting up camp: It was Friday night.
And what do trailer park denizens do on Friday night? They drink beer.
And where do they drink beer? In the Tent/Picnic Area, of course.
We became increasingly nervous as wave after wave of redneck set out towards us
carrying cases of beer, only to see the look of angry realization come over their faces
as they stomped off to find somewhere else to get liquored up for the night.
After a while, though, it appeared that word of our presence had spread
and our visitors because fewer and farther between.
This gave us time to take in our surroundings:
A Pizza Hut to the north, just past the mud pit. A Mini Storage to the east.
The trailer park to the south. And to the west, a junk yard housing several of the
higher-class residents living in mobile homes on bricks instead of wheels.
As night grew near, we were also treated to the sounds of an honest-to-goodness
redneck brawl: "Screw you, Walter. You jest git the hell out, you damn dawg."
"Yeah, that's right woman. An I ain't comin back naw neither. Jest you git out here
an' push sos I git the car started and I won't never be back here again."
Ahhh - commonlaw wedded bliss, redneck style.
We didn't hear too many gunshots, so I'm sure things turned out all right.
In the morning as we were packing up to leave, we watched a guy maybe
thirty feet from us get into his car, drive over to us, and get out. We got the standard
cop-style "Hows it going" that seems to precede trouble of all kinds, and we waited
cautiously for the guy to make his move. Turns out he was just checking out the new
neighbors, and we chatted with him for a few minutes. He used to live in Bakersfield,
California, but now he's retired and lives here. Everyday he drives from his place
(30 feet south of our present location) to what he called "work" (20 yards west of our
location), where he would sit and drink beer for the remainder of the day.
We wished him well in his career pursuits, and watched as he got in his car, drove
the 20 yards to "work", and knocked on the door. He then sat down on the
lawn chair and began drinking a beer, and was joined shortly thereafter by
another man who, without a word, did the same.
Mind you, this all took place just a hair past 7am.
Well, it was an exhilarating night, but like I told Mike:
We only remember the spectacularly good campgrounds and the
spectacularly bad ones, and spectacularly good ones are few and far between.
And in the end, we left with our lives, our health (pending the
test results back from our doctors) and one more good story.
|And finally, south to The Trailer
|To the East we find The Mini
|These next pictures really deserve their own page, but in the interest of preventing endless page sprawl
I'm going to condense the story onto this page (but only if you PROMISE to enlarge the thumbnails!)
|When Mike says he's about ready to wrap it up for the day, what he means is
he's open to finding a stopping point anywhere within a roughly 1.25 mile radius.
So when he cried Uncle in Walsenburg, Colorado, we hit the closest campground
we could find. I saw it as we passed by, laughed, and kept on riding.
It was only a glance in my rear view mirror and the look of desperation on Mike's face
that brought me to a halt. I say, "Did you SEE that place! Ha ha ha! Where's the
campground map?" and Mike says, while executing a rapid U-turn and
spraying me with gravel, "Looked fine to me - let's go."