Day Seventeen by Dave Schultheis
Tuesday, June 5, 2001 - Hutchinson, Kansas
One of the benefits of being in a small town in the middle of Kansas is that there are probably train tracks nearby. In this case, they were right behind the motel, about 25 feet from the building. I was able to hear a few trains go by (through the ventilation system). There was a grade crossing near the motel, so there were just enough whistles to make music to my ears as I slept.
On the other hand, the toilet "ran" every few minutes. I checked the chain length, cleaned the bottom of the rubber plug, but couldn't fix it. So I closed the door.
I was awake at 5:49 a.m., just moments before my alarm would have gone off had I been at home. I lolled in bed until 6:10 a.m. and then got up. Even though the previous afternoon had been pretty nice, it had rained overnight and it was still raining.
I checked the Weather Channel and they had lots of bad news for central Kansas. I remembered how "waiting a while" didn't particularly work before, but decided to try it again.
So I checked my voice mail, walked down to the motel office, had a nice Continental Breakfast, glanced at the newspaper, walked back to the room and watched the rain fall.
At 9 a.m. it was still raining and I decided that I might as well get going, so I started the Road King and put my stuff on the back. I checked out at the front desk and talked to a couple who were visiting Hutchinson.
It turns out that Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is just down the street. It sounds like it might be an interesting place to visit some day, when it's not raining and when I'm going in the other direction.
I left Hutchinson, refueled at a Conoco Station in South Hutchinson, then returned to U.S. Highway 50 and continued west. After a while the sky was bright and there was some sunshine. Then I rode right out of the rain and into good weather.
About two hours later I turned off Hy 50 and went into Dodge City, Kansas on Business 50, also known as Wyatt Earp Boulevard. I stopped at a truck stop to resupply (Mountain Dew) and noticed that nearly everyone was driving a diesel pickup truck.
Back on Wyatt Earp Blvd., I passed several historical places, including Boot Hill, McDonald's, KFC, etc. Dodge City looks like a place I'd like to visit again, and stay a while.
Back on Hy 50, there was a delay west of town due to a truck accident where the roadway was completely blocked. I managed to get as close to the front of the line as possible without causing any hurt feelings, so that I could see the show. After a while, the tow trucks cleared the roadway and the Kansas troopers let us through.
About an hour and a half later I pulled into a Conoco Station in Garden City, Kansas. Another pretty little city that deserves a future visit.
Then there was road construction and more road construction. It sucked, but let's not dwell on it. The day was getting nicer as I continued west. Quite warm, actually.
Close to 2:00 p.m. I crossed the Colorado state line, stopped for the picture and noted that I was now in the Mountain Time Zone. Closer reading of the map showed that I'd actually been on Mountain Time for a short while, since the time zone boundary is east of the state line.
A half hour later I stopped in Lamar to rest at the Colorado Welcome Center in the historic Lamar Depot. There was bright sunshine and some breeze. I got a picture outside and then went inside to get a Kansas map and see how much farther I might be able to go that day.
The ladies behind the counter had not only maps to give away but had a relief map of the state attached to the counter. That made it easier to see what the terrain looked like as I continued west. (Hint: mountains.)
They also told me that the depot had been remodeled about 10 years ago to look as authentic as possible. AMTRAK still comes through town twice a day. Aha, maybe a train trip is in my future.
There had been some tornadoes recently and both of the ladies had suffered broken windshields on their cars.
One of the most unusual people I met on the entire trip came walking across the parking lot and into the Welcome Center while I was there. He was a long tall hitchhiker from Texas, heading for Alaska. He was about 20 years old, with a full pack and a big smile. He'd been walking for a few weeks and was planning to make his way to Alaska and then back to Texas in about a year.
He eyed the Road King but saw that it was fully packed. I felt sorry for the young man and would have given him a ride if I'd been in the car, but then I hoped that he would get plenty of rides from plenty of people and have a great trip. He could call it his Walk to Remember.
I rode west for about another hour and a half, then stopped to rest and continued another 15 minutes or so into La Junta, Colorado. About an hour and a half later I pulled into a postal substation in Pueblo, Colorado but they were closed. I wanted to mail some stuff home, but it would have to wait.
I cruised up Interstate 25 for a short distance and happened upon the main post office, but the postal store was closed since it was 6 o'clock. I talked briefly with another motorcyclist in the parking lot.
Just a few blocks away I found Outpost Harley-Davidson but they had also closed at 6 p.m., and all I saw was the shop pickup driving away. So I salved my irritation at a nearby Wendy's.
At this point it was still light and the weather was great, so I decided to press on into the Rocky Mountains.
A tough two hours later I pulled into the Whispering Pines resort to rest my tired body, and noted that if I wasn't so tired, this would be a great place to go river rafting.
I continued west on Hy 50 for another hour but that was about all I could take. In Salida, CO I pulled into a nice new Econolodge shortly before 9 p.m., walked into the office and was met by a young Polish woman and her child. She gladly took my money, gave me a room key and I was able to park right outside Room 111 under a bright light.
Several doors down were two other motorcycles with two guys and two younger guys on a road trip. It could have been dads and sons. They were just barely friendly and didn't seem to want to talk. It could have been a case of motorcycle envy. Oh, well.
Back in my room I was amused by a sign that said "Towels are for people. If you want vehicle rags, ask at the office." Sounded like a good idea to me. But maybe in the morning.
I hung up my stuff and took a shower, then watched TVLAND for a while (they still rerun some very old situation comedies) and then went to bed.
Miles for the day = 513.
Miles for the trip = 5905.
Nice people met = several more.
Tomorrow: Warmer weather, more miles, and friends from home in the middle of nowhere.