Day Twelve by Dave Schultheis
Tuesday, June 4, 2002 - Dodge City, Kansas
I slept okay and was awake just after 7 a.m. There had been rain overnight, so the motorcycles and parking lot were wet. The Weather Channel showed more rain in the general area; we were not sure how much more rain we would get; but it seemed that the storm was moving east, while we would be moving west.
I dressed, combed and shaved, then found Tim (a few rooms away) and we went over to the motel office for Continental (crummy) breakfast. We told the front desk clerk that we were going to the repair shop and hoped to be back before noon (check-out time). They were nice folks, and we were told "We won't throw your stuff out."
It only took five minutes to get to Dodge City Harley-Davidson, which is also a Honda motorcycle and ATV dealer. We got there at 8:50 a.m. Central Time to see various employees arriving for work and moving all-terrain vehicles from inside two different buildings to outside, where they could sit in the sunshine and pose all day. One employee parked an H-D bagger in front as well.
Service department employees knew that we would be there for an oil and filter change (black filter, please, I'm not a poser) and primary chain adjustment, and they got on it right away. I asked them to check brake pads "while they were in there."
Tim and I lounged in the waiting area, looked at Honda and Harley-Davidson parts, read various magazines and brochures, and listened to the cricket hiding behind the soft drink vending machine.
Outside, a group of out-of-state law enforcement types rolled in on their personal motorcyles, primarily of Honda parentage but there may have been one or two of another variety. I recall talking with them briefly as they admired the ATVs and the Harley-Davidson parked in front. When they were done, they left in a cloud of dust, continuing their journey.
Just about the time I got tired of waiting and wandered outside the building again, I saw that they had moved the Road King outside the building and were pressure-washing it. So I went inside, where they said the oil and filter had been changed, the primary chain was adjusted properly and the brake pads looked fine. I paid by check and we were on our way at 10:45 a.m.
Tim and I returned to the motel, finished packing and loaded the motorcycles, then checked out. We stopped a few blocks away to refuel at a Texaco Station before leaving Dodge City. We got on the road about 11:30 a.m., heading west on Wyatt Earp Boulevard (Business 50) and then turned back onto westbound U.S. Hwy 50 a few minutes later.
Another 20 or so miles down the highway, we pulled into a rest stop near Ingalls KS, where optimistic Tim took off his rain gear.
Tim and I noted that while yesterday's wind was coming from the south, today's wind was coming from the north. We figured that we'd simply continue to "lean into the wind" and wear down the sidewalls on the other side of our tires today.
Shortly before 1 p.m. we pulled into Garden City KS to cool temperatures and breezy conditions. We stopped at Hanna's Corner Restaurant, which appeared to be a greasy spoon popular with the locals. It was; I recall checkerboard oilcloth table coverings and lots of local workers eating lunch. I enjoyed a Texas Steak Sandwich and a great big Pepsi while looking for a red-headed waitress, but she never surfaced.
(That was a Texas Steak sandwich.)
We got back on the road about 1:45 p.m. and continued west on Hy 50 in slight rain for a few miles, but then it stopped.
At 2:30 p.m. Central Time, we crossed into the Mountain Time zone in Hamilton County, KS. I did not recall seeing that sign in 2001, but was more alert this year. It's interesting that the time changes 12 miles east of the state line.
We stopped at the Colorado state line for pictures at 2 p.m. Mountain Time, then pulled into the Holly Rest Stop a half mile later, under breezy and overcast conditions.
Another thirty-plus miles of colorful countryside rolled by, and then we pulled into the Colorado Welcome Center in Lamar. The building was originally the local train depot, and in fact, AMTRAK still rolls through twice a day, one eastbound and one westbound. I recognized the two volunteer ladies staffing the desk from last year. I believe I picked up a Colorado map to be sure I had the current version.
This may be a good time to point out that in my experience, the best state maps are the ones produced by each state. I often stop at welcome centers or visitor centers to get the latest issue. You can bet that every little town pushes to get themselves listed, and they may not be listed on all of the commercial maps. Plus, I have found that you can sometimes get a map of the state you just left, or the next state you're heading to, as the states sometimes exchange piles of maps for the convenience of travelers.
(Why would you want a map of the state you just left? So that you can mark the route you took to better remember it, or for your own future planning, or so that you can give it to someone else who needs it.)
After leaving the Welcome Center, we stopped at a Phillips 66 station in Lamar for 91 octane gasoline at 3:30 p.m.
Back on Hy 50, about 4 p.m. we encountered rain, so we stopped and put on rain gear. This was coming at the end of tiring day, but we forged ahead.
Another fifty-plus miles and we pulled into a Sonic Drive In, just to get out of the rain. I looked at Tim, he looked at me, and he said, "Let's stay here" in La Junta CO. Excellent idea.
We rode a few blocks west, then circled the block and pulled into the parking lot of the Stagecoach Motel in La Junta. It was an old place but looked like it would be nice enough. The woman in charge checked us in and introduced us to the security officer (Jake the dog). Jake, like Uncle Joe, "was a movin' kinda slow," but was friendly.
I carried my stuff into Rm 106 and Tim took his stuff into a room just a couple down. I found in-room coffee and a refrigerator among the amenities. Tim's room came without bags of coffee, so I gave him mine. Around this time the rain stopped and the city of La Junta started looking a little nicer.
After we had hung up our clothes, I noticed it was just after 6 p.m. Mountain Time and we started thinking about dinner. The woman at the front desk suggested the Hog's Breath Saloon and Restaurant, so we rode down Third Street a few blocks and found the place easily. I recall having an excellent piece of chicken with barbeque sauce, a (healthy) salad and a baked potato.
After dinner we returned to the Stagecoach Motel, parked the bikes right-side to right-side and cabled them to a girder, assuring their presence in the morning.
It had been a long and tiring day, so we retired to our rooms. I pulled out clean clothes for the next day, secured everything else, watched a little TV, took a shower, watched a little more TV and went to bed around 10 p.m.
Miles for the day = 220. Miles for the trip = 4319.
Tomorrow: Outpost H-D and a Crackerbarrel Restaurant in Pueblo. Can we find the M Lazy C Ranch?