Day Seventeen by Dave Schultheis
Sunday, June 9, 2003 - The M Lazy C Ranch near Lake George, Colorado
I was awake 5:30-ish and then up at 6:35 a.m. and got dressed. TL had left, but Tim and Kurt were still sharing the cabin. We were all leaving this morning, so two of us began packing while the other rested from the night before.
The ranch had told us there would be breakfast at the dance hall at 7 a.m. They had donuts and juice, biscuits and gravy.
Some folks had left early and some left right after breakfast. I continued to pack and load the bike, between saying goodbyes to various riders and helping clean up the area. I decided to keep the small styrofoam cooler that I'd been using as an in-cabin refrigerator and carry it on the bike. It was a good decision as I used it a lot.
During the cleanup process, I gathered a lot of empty bottles and cans and "recycled" them. I also gathered a few unopened and unfinished bottles and cans of various fluids and gave them to wranglers Scott and Hunter to share with the rest of the staff. I sought out and thanked our (adult) hosts, Monica, Brenda, Randy and Keith.
Again many thanks go to Amanda for all the work she put into making this activity happen. It was clearly a lot of work bringing all the details together. Thanks!
One important goodbye and thank you was to Tim O'Brien, with whom I had ridden across America for 4 days. This was Tim's first long ride and his first cross-country ride, but you would never know it. He was a highly skilled and safe rider, and it was a pleasure to ride with him. Thanks, Tim!
It was time for me to go, and I left the ranch at 8:50 a.m.
From the ranch, I turned west on U.S. 24 and rode over Wilkerson Pass, through some very windy conditions, past a couple herds of buffalo alongside the highway, through Hartsell and Antero Junction, then into Johnson Village, where I turned south on U.S. 285 for about twenty miles.
On the western outskirts of Salida CO, I pulled into a gas station in Poncha Springs at 10:20 a.m., where I saw a bunch of folks from the "Cut and Shoot Texas" H.O.G. chapter, who were returning from a rally in Grand Junction CO. I was told that Interstate 70 was closed east of there because of a big fire, but I was going west, so it wouldn't matter.
Upon leaving Poncha Springs, I turned west onto that "grand old two-lane" (copyright Redbeard Emeritus), U.S. Highway 50, where it was windy.
About 20 miles later, I rode over Monarch Pass, where it was windy.
There was a 6 per cent grade going down the other side, and it was windy.
Another 60 miles and I was in Gunnison CO. On the way out of town, I recalled the left turn and then a multi-marque motorcycle dealer where I stopped last year, but they didn't have what I wanted. As it was Sunday, they were closed.
West of Gunnison it was quite windy as I passed Blue Mesa Reservoir and Blue Mesa Lake.
As the altitude decreased west of there, it started getting warmer, although it was still windy.
On into Montrose, where the highway makes a right turn in the downtown area, and I pulled into a Conoco Station about 1 p.m. Mountain Time. I had a hard time finding a shady spot to sit and rest. I rode another 20 miles to Delta CO and found a picnic table at another Conoco Station along Hy 50, where it was warm and very windy.
While riding westbound (compass north-west bound), I could see smoke on the horizon from the fires near Grand Junction, and experienced heavy, heavy crosswinds. It was very tiring riding.
About 2:45 p.m. I pulled into a Wendy's at Mesa Mall in Grand Junction, where it was every bit as hot as it had been at that same spot a year ago. The difference was that it was also very windy.
A couple miles later I found a Conoco Station and got fuel. The attendant told me I would be able to avoid the road closure, but to watch out for the wind.
West of Grand Junction, U.S. 50 and Interstate 70 are the same highway. This continues about halfway across the state of Utah. It's one of the few sections of interstate highway where a certain senior member of the motorcycling community does not suggest getting off the super-slab. The scenery is beautiful, when you can see and enjoy it.
Just before 4 p.m. I stopped at the Colorado/Utah border for a picture, then continued into Utah with windy conditions, followed by extreme winds and blowing dust.
An hour later I pulled off the highway into the Utah Visitor Center for a rest, and for the air conditioning. It was hot and the wind seemed to be blowing at 50 or 60 miles per hour.
Some Scout leaders brought two vans full of Boy Scouts into the visitor center. One of the leaders told me that they had seen me struggling in the wind and were surprised to see a rider on the highway in these conditions. I explained that I needed to continue in order to get home. The visitor center worker told us that the wind would probably subside as we got farther west.
Another 30 miles or so and I took exit 162 into Green River UT. I had stopped for gas here last year, and had run into some San Jose friends, but had not stayed. On this trip, I had been getting pounded by the wind and the heat, and needed to get off the highway.
I rode through town and then back, looking at motels and gas stations. After getting some juice and milk at a convenience store, I chose the Book Cliff Motel (I have no idea what the name means) because it was several notches above scuzzy and because it looked like I could park right outside the room.
So at about 6 p.m. I dismounted, removed my helmet and jacket, walked into the office and apologized for a bad first impression. The clerk was all smiles and gave me a good rate on a non-smoking, ground-floor room. I parked right in front of the room, near a pole and a tree, and cabled the bike to the tree.
As I took my stuff into the room, I discovered that they lacked CNN but had Headline News instead. That's better than nothing. The room was actually quite large, not that I would be holding a dance party, but I could spread my stuff out if needed.
The hotel air conditioning worked quite well, and they offered bags of ice in a chest freezer down by the office, so I could keep my cold drinks cold.
I took a shower, caught up with my notes and checked the maps for tomorrow's travel. After I'd had my fill of Headline News I found a Dave Chappelle (stand-up comedian) concert on TV and watched it for a while.
Rats! There was no Sprint PCS coverage so I had to use my calling card to call family and friends, but there was no hotel surcharge, so that was nice.
It wasn't a particularly long day, but the conditions on the highway were very tiring, so I was glad to get to bed and get some rest.
Miles for the day = 361. Miles for the trip = 4996.
Tomorrow: Cold temps, colder temps, construction delays and the worst motel of the entire trip.