Day Four by Dave Schultheis
Wednesday, May 23, 2002 - Santa Fé, New Mexico
I was awake at 6:10 a.m. and up at 6:30 a.m. I had slept pretty well for a change. My aunt offered toast, orange juice and a banana. Sounded great!
We had a nice breakfast and more family conversation, then headed out to the garage about 8:00 o'clock. It was a little chilly, so I put on an extra layer (my green plaid shirt) while the Road King was warming up, said my final goodbyes and left at 8:15 a.m.
I skirted Santa Fé, which is a beautiful city to visit, by going north on Interstate 25, which runs variously north, then east, then south, then north again.
I pulled into a Texaco Station in Las Vegas, NM at 9:35 a.m., and while paying for my gasoline, asked the clerk if there was anything special I should see while I was there. She couldn't think of anything, so I looked around on my own. I took pictures of a couple of city signs, then found the post office and prepared for a photograph there.
While getting parked so that I could get both the bike and the sign in the picture, an older resident of Las Vegas greeted me. I asked if he would mind taking my picture. He must have misunderstood the question because he said, "No, I don't want to be in the picture," but that he would take _my_ picture. What a great idea! And so he did.
I returned a few miles south on I-25 and then turned south on U.S. Highway 84. I took a few pictures along the way and then got back onto eastbound Interstate 40. There is a whole lotta nuthin' out there, and it was hot.
A little after 11:00 a.m. I stopped at a travel store in Santa Rosa, NM for a short rest, some Mountain Dew and to remove the extra shirt. I met a woman rider who was returning to Minnesota from Phoenix. I bet she has some stories to tell!
A few miles down the highway I pulled off at Newkirk, NM for a photograph and found a combination U.S. Post Office and Phillips 66 Station with a very old dog sleeping in front of them. Since the "shade" had "moved," the dog got up, moved to another spot and went back to sleep.
I stepped into the gas station office and greeted the clerk. He reckoned that not much happens there "but an occasional shoot-out." Sounded interesting.
If you're not involved in or aware of r.m.h/VB&G, please skip ahead.
[I called Diane F. ("harleywoman") in response to an earlier voice mail message. She was going to get some directions to me for an upcoming Mid-Atlantic event. Some of the New Jersey folks would be staying at a motel in Front Royal, VA on Saturday night and Diane would be trying to get rooms there for herself and for me. She wanted me to call her again the next day.]
I continued east on Interstate 40 and turned off the freeway in Tucumcari, NM. I found the Quay County Fairgrounds, but the gates were locked, so I couldn't get any closer than several hundred feet to the sign, so a picture would have been pointless.
I took a picture outside the Tucumcari Police Department and then stepped inside to ask the Dispatchers to help me locate a Quay County building. They directed me to the "civic center" a few blocks away, but for some reason, neither the County Building nor the Sheriff's Department had signs erected in front of them.
But right around the block was the Quay County Detention Center, with a nice big sign in front, so I parked the bike and took a photograph. Just then, three corrections officers stepped outside for a soda break. I was able to persuade one of them to stand next to me while another took a picture; the third wasn't havin' any of it; he stood aside and drank his Mountain Dew.
I got fuel before leaving town, and the clerk said it was 110 miles to Amarillo, TX. When I got back on the freeway, the sign said 117 miles. I guess free information is worth about what you pay for it.
At 2:25 p.m. I entered The Lone Star State, and took a couple of pictures. As I wound the camera, I discovered that I had run out of film, so I was not able to take a picture of a full-size "Welcome to Texas" billboard that also said, "we drive friendly" (I think). Rats!
A few miles later I stopped in Vega, TX and bought a little plastic camera at an Albertson's grocery store, then took some pictures. The next town was Wildorado, where I got a picture at the post office but found that I had missed the Oldham County Sheriff's office back in Vega. Rats!
On my approach to Amarillo I saw a billboard for Tripp's Harley-Davidson, so I got off I-40 at Bell Street and pulled around back to their shop at 4:05 p.m., and a technician named Astor asked what he could do for me.
I told him that if they had the time and a front tire, I would like to replace mine. They had a Dunlop K491 with raised white letters and they had the time, so he got started on it right away. (I would have preferred a blackwall tire, but they didn't have one.) I also asked him to check for something clinking.
While waiting, I talked to another employee by the name of "Squirrel," whom I believe was the Asst. Service Manager. He said that the right side muffler had worked its way loose and that could be the sound I was hearing.
I wandered up front to the Sales and Motorclothes departments and looked around. I found a tee-shirt that I couldn't live without, for twenty-something dollars.
Back in the Service Department, I checked voice mail and returned a couple phone calls. My neighbor said that the house was still standing and the dog was fine.
I just had to ask Squirrel about his name. His reply was "They can't find you if they don't know your name."
I was on the road again at 6:00 p.m. It was getting late in the day but I wanted to press on. A hour and a half later I pulled into a gas station in Mc Lean, TX with 184 miles on the trip odometer since my last fuel stop. The bike wasn't exactly gasping, but I was cutting it pretty close.
Continuing east, I took pictures at the Gray County/Wheeler County line, then at the Bracken County line and *poof* I was in Oklahoma. I knew because the windshield was getting a lot of hits from suicidal bugs. Oh, yes, and because the sign said "Oklahoma."
At 8:45 pm. I stopped in Erick (pronounced "ay-rick"), checked into a Day's Inn and put some of my stuff away, then went just down the highway to the Oklahoma Welcome Center to take pictures.
The place was closed and the lights were turned off, so I aimed all three headlights at the sign and hoped that the pictures would come out. On the way back I fought several clouds of bugs and took a picture of an Erick sign before returning to the motel at 9:20 p.m.
I parked the Road King right in front of Room 122 and walked across the parking lot to a Love's A&W Root Beer for a chicken sandwich. I took "dinner" back to the room, caught up with my notes, tried to clean the bugs off the windshield , worried about how safe the motorcycle would be through the night, then took a shower and went to bed just after 11:00 p.m.
 Let me tell you a little biker hint that I first read about on r.m.h a couple years back. Instead of scrubbing, apply sopping wet rags to the bug-filled windshield and just leave them there. Come back later, or in the morning, and the mess comes off easily. It worked!
Miles for the day = 469.
Miles for the trip = 1863.
Time spent at dealership = just under 2 hours.
Number of t-shirts purchased = one.
Number of bugs on the windshield = too many to count.
Tomorrow: Oklahoma, Arkansas, and an unscheduled dismount!