Day Eleven by Dave Schultheis
Monday, June 3, 2002 - Joplin, Missouri
I slept okay, was awake early, and finally got up at 6:06 a.m. Central Time. I dressed, packed and loaded the bike, then took a couple pictures.
I contacted my hosts next door, and we decided to go to breakfast in beautiful downtown Joplin. Andy fired up his Honda motorcycle and his wife Erin and their friend Willie followed in their Saturn. We drove a few miles to a Country Kitchen restaurant.
It was an excellent breakfast, with a fairly wide variety of choices and very few other customers in the place. I picked up the tab and then said goodbye to Erin and Willie, while Andy led me to a gas station on the west side of town.
We fueled at a Phillips 66 at 8:45 a.m., where the bank across the street said it was 84 degrees Farenheit. I thanked Andy again and he went on his way. It was awfully nice of them to be so hospitable.
I followed his directions north on MO 171 to the Missouri/Kansas state line (pictures), then took KS 57 and then westbound on U.S. 400. A short distance later it crossed U.S. 69 (remember Hy 69 from the TX portion of the trip?).
It was windy in eastern Kansas as I stopped for a "no Jake brakes" photo in Cherokee and another in Parsons. I made note that it was so windy, I barely noticed the heat.
I pulled into a rest stop where U.S. 169 crosses U.S. 400. It was really windy and there was almost no shade for any vehicles. I continued in a northwesterly direction until just beyond Fredonia KS, where Hy 400 continued in a more-or-less westerly direction.
Wind plus heat plus trucks equals hard riding conditions.
I pulled into another rest stop, still some distance from Witchita KS; where again, there was no shade to be found.
In the vicinity of El Dorado KS, U.S. 54 joins with U.S. 400 and they continue westbound. I passed Augusta KS, where it was hot and windy.
In Witchita KS, where it was hot and windy, I stopped for 91 octane fuel at a Conoco Station with a Wendy's right next door. (How convenient!) Not sure if I mentioned that it was hot and windy as I got back on the road.
For the past few hours, I had been hearing a slight bit more noise from the engine or transmission, and did not know what it was. The oil level seemed a little low, so shortly after Hys 54 and 400 turned into freeway in Witchita, I was glad to see the familiar bar-and-shield logo off to the right. I pulled into Mid-Continent Harley-Davidson in Witchita, where I got a quart of oil and put about half in the Road King, then crossed my fingers and saved the rest.
Somewhere west of the city I stopped for a roadside picture (Mile 181) and while doing so, noticed another rider slowing to see if I needed help. I didn't recognize his bike from the front and he didn't recognize mine from the back, but as soon as he stopped, he recognized me, and as soon as he raised the front of his helmet, I recognized him as Tim O'Brien from South Carolina, whom I had met in Tennessee a few days before.
Tim had stopped to visit family, while I had gone up to Illinois for the ABCs picture, and he was also headed for the meet in Colorado, so we agreed to ride together for a while.
We stopped a short way down the highway for gasoline for Tim, then continued into Kingman KS for a stop at a Sonic drive-in, somewhere around 3 p.m. I might have mentioned that it was hot and windy.
About 4:30 p.m. we pulled into another rest stop for some shade somewhere near Greensburg KS. We noted that in about another 10 miles, U.S. 54 would veer south and west toward Liberal KS while U.S. continued kind of north and west toward Dodge City KS, our goal for the night.
We rode through Ford KS in hot and windy conditions, through Fort Dodge and then into Dodge City. U.S. 50 ("One of the last of the grand old two-lanes." -- Redbeard Emeritus) merges with U.S. 400 nearby, and we rode into Dodge City on Business Route 50, also known as Wyatt Earp Boulevard.
Near Boot Hill, we turned south on 2nd Avenue and found Dodge City Harley-Davidson down a few blocks. It was 5:30 p.m. and two guys were closing the doors. One listened to the bike and suggested it might need a primary chain adjustment. They said that we should return when the opened at 9 o'clock the next morning.
We went back to Wyatt Earp Boulevard and headed west, looking for a motel. We found the Silver Spur Best Western Inn, where they had rooms available, let us park right near the rooms, and I could cable the bike to a post.
My room was a plain vanilla motel room, normal in most respects, except that the clock on the night stand was plugged into a receptacle controlled by the wall switch. I suppose it could have been worse; the toilet could have been controlled by the television remote!
The motel's cable system had CNN, there was an ice machine nearby, and there was a restaurant across the back street. We couldn't ask for much more. I walked over to the restaurant and borrowed one of their menus, then showed it to Tim back at the motel. It looked good, so we walked over there.
To counterbalance some of the Wendy's food I had been eating, I decided to have a chicken salad while Tim used good sense and had a big hunk o' beef. The server was excellent, she saw to all our needs, including refilling my glass several times.
After paying the bill, Tim and I walked back to our rooms to vegetate.
We ended the day with several assumptions: that Dodge City H-D would fix my bike in the morning, that we would continue to Colorado, and that we would need to do some laundry, perhaps in La Mar CO.
I checked for Sprint PCS coverage, but there was none, so I used my calling card to make a few calls to family and friends. People were fine, the house was fine, the dog was fine.
I took a shower and watched CNN for a while, then went to bed about 11 p.m.
Miles for the day = 357 hot and windy miles. Miles for the trip = 4099.
Tomorrow: Repairs? Rain? Wind?