Rockies 2007

Day 08

June 21


Guy is up early this morning but then I've been up a while already. When he sees me, he says -

"Sure I can't talk ya into riding east on 50 with me?"

"No, I'm gonna ride south and work my way to New Mexico, and if I feel good, pick up 40 and go the distance home. I don't really hafta be back till Sunday, so having 3 days to get east is a luxury to me."

And for me it is a a real luxury to have have 3 whole days if I need them to get home. I've made the ride from this distance in a lot less time. Guy wants to get out before the construction crew starts back up on highway 50 and I don't blame him. He tells me -

"I don't believe those boys will start work out there till about 7:30 or so, and I'll slip past."

As he fires up his ST1300, I tell him

"I gotta wait around for the office to open up, then I'll be outta here."

"OK bro, guess I'll see ya in the Blue Ridge?"

"For sure, good Lord willing."

"Yeah, but he always seems to look out for us middle aged long riders, I know he has for me."

"Stay in touch, and have a good ride, stay outta trouble Guy."

"You know I will, love ya bro," then he eases his way through the gravel and heads east on highway 50.

I finish loading the SweetTreat, then do my hyper-paranoia room scan to make sure that I haven't left anything behind. I do a little pick up of the cabin, then ride around to the front office to wait for them to open up.


When the lady shows up, I make sure the bill is paid and everything is in order. With business taken care of, I head south down highway 550, figuring the Million Dollar highway is certainly worth another ride. The weather is nice and I am really looking forward to seeing what I will see as the day goes on. Too soon I come to the reality of the road as I approach Ouray. There's a slow moving ambulance coming my way, so I pull off to the side. I know that if they are moving slow, it usually means that the occupant is beyond help. As I round the next curve I see it - and it's not a pretty sight. The bike is laying on it's side off on the right shoulder. A helmet is laying beside it and a truck is parked right in the middle of the road. I don't know if the rider swung wide or the truck swung wide or the rider just failed to make the curve. But once again I am reminded of how short a distance it can be between a wonderful day of riding and a heartbreaking tragedy. As I ride into Ouray, I keep that in mind as I bend around the many curves of the Million Dollar Highway.

Since breakfast didn't happen this morning, the old stomach is complaining a bit. When I get into Pagosa Springs, I need fuel and food so I pull into a station and gas up the SweetTreat. As is my good fortune, a local pulls up in a beater old pickup truck at the next pump. I ask him -

"Is there anywhere around here a feller might get some good grub?"

"Sure thing, right over there is the Boss Hogg. It's a bit tricky to get to, but it has pretty good food."

I thank him, not fully realizing the tricky part. As the crow flies, it's just a short hop but there's no way to get there from where I'm at. So I head back up highway 160 til I find a place to turn into.


As I walk in, I see a sign -

"Hog's breath is better than no breath"

I don't know as I agree with that, but it is a catchy slogan. The food's good and the service is good so I've got no complaints. Then it's back to the road killing at hand. Just past Pagosa Springs, I turn onto highway 84 that will take me into New Mexico and to highway 64. Since I'm right at the sign I decide I'll get another picture of SweetTreat at a stateline.

  Once I get on highway 64, it brings back memories of a prior ride when I took it all the way across New Mexico. But I don't like the looks of the dark clouds that are forming above my head. For all the world it looks like it's raining pretty hard where I'm headed.  
  This time when I come in Taos, I remember that the New Mexico DOT saves a lot of money by not putting up too many highway signs. But I know where to turn so it should be too much of a challenge. Just as I get into town, my internal alarm goes off that I should stop here at this convenience store with a very large covered drive. I go ahead and gas up the SweetTreat and about halfway through the process, the bottom falls out.  

A Connie rider soon joins me under the shelter and we strike up a conversation.

"You're riding one of the best value deals in sport touring" I tell him.

It turns out that he's school teacher from Austin, TX on a tight budget and has been camping and scrimping his way across New Mexico. He's having a big time and I'm all for him.

"I don't know how you manage to teach in the current state of affairs without the ability to discipline."

"Well, it is difficult but there are rewards. And besides I get three months off in the summer to do this" he says with a grin.

The storm appears to be letting up, so I wish him a safe journey and head on into Taos proper. Bad choice - because then the bottom really drops out before I travel a half mile and I don't have on my rain gear. It's hotter than blazes and I just didn't want to put it on and bake in a bag. I'm soaking wet but I finally find another convenience store shelter to pull under. There's a HD rider and his girlfriend huddled under there also, waiting out the storm. I change what clothes that I can decently in public and break out my rainsuit. I tell them -

"Don't worry about the rain. Just as soon as I get this rainsuit on and go about another mile or so it'll stop. So just wait a little while and you'll be okay. Trust me on that one."

They smile and say "Thanks."

I get all suited up, wave them good-bye then head out of Taos toward highway 518 in the downpour. And sure enough, before I get out of the city limits, the rain stops. But as I turn down 518, I can still see the storm in the distance. The lightening is jumping back and forth which is not very comforting since I'm way taller than any of the fence post around these parts.

  I have no choice but to just to keep on trucking and hoping that my hair doesn't start to tingle. The storm clouds are a constant companion but fortunately they stay a distant companion.  
  I get into Las Vegas - the New Mexico version - looking for highway 104 which will take me to Tucumcari and I40, my mother road to the Holler. But as I have previously experienced, the highway signage leaves quite a bit to be desired. I finally find my way to it and set a pretty good pace, since there's nobody out here but me. That is until a sheriff's patrol car comes roaring up from behind and passes me like I'm parked. He catches me completely by surprise and I'm glad he's in a hurry - I'm knocking down 70+ mph in a 55 mph zone. He just keeps on rolling and I pick up the pace a little bit more. I have hopes of making it to Amarillo tonight and paying a visit to the Texan Steakhouse, not spending the night in some New Mexico county jail. I get into Tucumcari and head for the on ramp of I40. Then I realize that the heat has just squeezed the life right out of me and I've got no business getting on the slab. It's another hour and a half to Amarillo and it's just not in me. I figure I can easily cover that distance in the cool of the morning after a good night's rest. I turn around and pull into a nearby Days Inn that has a restaurant across the street. After a nice long cool shower, I head across the street to K-Bob's Steakhouse. When I get to a booth I call Guy to see where he ended up. He's doing fine and we talk about how our days went. When the steak comes, it's pretty good and I'm pretty tired so the combination makes for a quick meal and then a quick trip back to the room. It's been around 500 miles for the day, all on backroads and all in the heat. I'm out almost before my head hits the pillow.