Dave's Cross-Country Trip 2002

Day Thirteen

by Dave Schultheis

Wednesday, June 5, 2002 - La Junta, Colorado

I slept okay, was awake about 6:30 a.m., listened to the farm report on the radio, got up about 6:40 a.m. Mountain Time and turned on CNN.

As I looked outside, we had bright sunshine on wet motorcycles. A few minutes later the sun was behind some clouds but another few minutes later the sun was shining again.

Tim and I packed, loaded and wiped down the bikes; I took a few pictures of Jake at the motel office and we got on our way westbound on U.S. 50 at about 8:45 a.m. in cool temperatures.

About 30 miles down the road we pulled into the Loaf & Jug Conoco station in Fowler CO for some juice and a short rest, then continued another 30 miles into Pueblo CO, where we arrived at the very distinctive Outpost Harley-Davidson at 10:20 a.m. Mountain Time.

On my 2001 trip I had gotten to Outpost just at 6 p.m. to see employees driving home. On this trip we were able to go inside and browse the boutique, the parts department, and the sales floor. I believe this is the store where Tim asked for help finding parts for his highway lights. I don't think they had what he wanted, but the parts gal was very helpful.

I was happy to find a pair of thermal bottoms (25% off) and some close-out Fat Boy logo stickers on the bargain table. Neither of us were particularly excited by the motorcycles for sale, although they did have quite a variety on display.

It was cool but the sun was shining when we left Outpost. We could see non-helmeted riders on city streets and on Interstate 25, just on the other side of the fence. It was almost lunch time, so we rode a few hundred feet to the Cracker Barrel Restaurant. I think I tempted the fates by wearing my helmet on my elbow, or maybe hanging it on the tent poles (top of my T-Bag).

Those who have Cracker Barrels in their area know that you have to fight your way through the boutique/gift shop to get to the restaurant, but the food is usually pretty good and this place was no exception. We didn't have anything special and got out of there about an hour later.

We got 91 octane fuel at an Amoco Station in Pueblo before continuing west on Hy 50 and then turning northwest on CO 115 toward Colorado Springs. I had not been on this road before, and every mile we rode took Tim farther from his home than he had ever ridden, so it was quite a nice experience for both of us to be seeing parts of the country we had never seen.

About an hour and 20 minutes later we arrived in Colorado Springs, where the traffic got pretty heavy. Between the warmth of the day and the stop-and-go between traffic signals, it was starting to get uncomfortable. We pulled into a Wendy's (are you detecting a pattern?) to check the maps and look for a place to buy cameras and get film processed. The air conditioning was an added benefit.

While standing in line, we talked to a couple of teenagers who worked at a nearby muffler shop, one talking to his friends on his Nextel phone. Between conversations about where he left whatever paperwork, they told us that there was a Wal-Mart near Cimarron and Eighth. So we fought the heat and the construction on Nevada Street (Hy 115), found Cimarron, then found Eighth, then found the Wal-Mart. As with many other Wal-Marts, it was teeming with customers.

We found a "creative" place in front of the store to park the bikes. We used the theory that it's far easier to ask forgiveness than to seek permission.

I got a flag to replace the one that flew the coop in New Mexico, a couple of little plastic cameras, and left another LPC for processing. (If I have time along the way, I like to get my photos processed on the trip, rather than waiting until I get home.) We knew we had enough time to go back later in the day or the next day to pick these up.

From the Wal-Mart we rode west on U.S. 24, through Woodland park, Divide, Florissant and Lake George. Amanda's instructions were to turn into the ranch between mile markers 261 and 260, and just as expected, there was the M Lazy C sign. We took the driveway toward the ranch, slowly because of the unknown terrain. It was sometimes rocky and sometimes sandy, and in a couple of places we found our tires quite deep in real fine dirt.

As we came around the final turn, we could see the "land spreadin' out so far and wide," then we saw cabins, barns, a ranch house, horses and more. As we got closer, we could see dogs and pickup trucks and cars and some fine-lookin' farm gals. It turns out these fair maidens were part of a summer wrangler crew, there to learn how to keep a ranch runnin' properly. Hello, girls! They also appeared to be about 16 or 17 years old.

We found the office and greeted other ranch personnel. The office also served as the General Store, where they offered trinkets and memorabilia, hats, tee-shirts, cold drinks, ice cream and (most importantly, we would find out later) bags of ice. The porch of the General Store was the daytime resting spot for various canine and feline residents. One cat also liked to recline on a display shelf inside.

After getting the lay of the land, we toured the cabins. Each was a little different and all were just a bit more than primitive.

One cabin contained two beds and little else, but it was indoors and it was cozy. Another (the Foreman) had a double bed and a single bed with rollaway bed underneath. It also had a wood-burning stove (which we could not to use due to burn restrictions), an electric-powered oil heater, in-cabin coffee, two chairs, a table and a small clock. Visitors to these two cabins had to walk a short distance to a bath house for shower and toilet facilities.

The biggest cabin slept about 6, depending upon how friendly they were with each other. It had a sink in the room with a private toilet and shower behind a door. I seem to recall a double bed downstairs, a double-bed (or two beds) in a loft, and a set of bunk beds.

Each cabin also came with electricity and windows and a supply of clean towels, and there were chairs and benches outside, along a wooden sidewalk, for lounging. Great accessories for this crowd.

Oh yeah, don't forget the hummingbird feeders.

I had already paid for the "Foreman" cabin for Friday and Saturday nights, and they had room for us to stay this night as well, but we decided not to do so because we had other things to do. We did, however, make arrangements to stay in the cabin on Thursday night.

We left the ranch about 5:25 p.m. and rode back (east) on Hy 24 into the Woodland Park area. We stopped at the Eagle Fire Motel and Conference Center, where the clerk gave us a tour of one of the rooms but it was far too expensive for the likes of either of us. The place was nearly empty, but they insisted on charging the full rate, so we did not stay there.

We stopped at a Safeway Gas Station for fuel (that sounds strange to me, because while we have Safeway Food and Drug in the Bay area, they don't have gas stations), then another mile down the road we stopped at the Grand View Motel in Woodland Park.

This was a small place with only about seven rooms, and we had to choose from what was available. Tim was offered a smoking room for a fairly good price and I was offered a non-smoking "suite" (two rooms and a tiny bathroom) for $58, an outrageous price in comparison.

When I told the woman runnin' the place that I was only gonna sleep in one of the three beds and asked if she couldn't she drop the price a little, she just looked at me. That look said "no, I won't" quite loud and quite clear. So we paid. On the other hand, this was a nice place.

In the forties.

Actually, it was surely more than "a notch above scuzzy." The walls were shellacked tongue-and-groove redwood, as I recall, and were certainly beautiful and stylish in their time. And we had to admit that the coin laundry, which was right next door and under the same management, was well worth the price of the motel rooms. We had not been able to wash clothes for a few days, so we took advantage of the time and did two or three loads.

While waiting, I walked next door and spent about 99 cents on a styrofoam cooler since I would be taking cold drinks to the ranch and they did not have refrigerators in the cabins.

When the clothes were washed, dried and put away, Tim and I walked across Hy 24 to the Rocky Roost Restaurant for dinner. We had a great server ("Christine") and some great food.

After dinner we walked back across the highway to our rooms and made sure the bikes were cabled together for the night. I worked on my notes, watched a little Nick at Night and took a shower. This place must have been fun. In the forties.

Again, it was nice enough. After watching a little more television, I went to bed.

Miles for the day = 200. Miles for the trip = 4519.

Tomorrow: Noise from the primary case (again?), fifteen feet of rope, another service department experience, and we return to the M Lazy C Ranch.

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Created on February 10, 2002. Last updated on February 15, 2003.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA