Dave's Cross-Country Trip 2003

Day Sixteen

by Dave Schultheis

Tuesday, June 3, 2003 - Tucumcari, New Mexico

I slept okay, but was awake about 4:00 a.m. I went back to sleep and got up at a more reasonable 6:30 a.m. Mountain Time.

Today's goal would be to reach Amanda's place for a get-together called Meet In New Mexico. Folks from all over the country would be attending. I was a day or two early, but hoped that wouldn't be a problem.

The Weather Channel said it would be sunny, but there would be thunderstorms later. I turned it to MSNBC and watched Don Imus for a while, then turned to CNN to catch up with the news.

When the motel office opened, I walked down there for a Continental Breakfast and then when they opened the laundry, I put in a load of clothes.

A couple other riders, who were staying on the other side of the motel, rode over on their Road Kings to start their laundry as well. These two guys are from Florida, where they bought Road King Police models, then modified them to suit their tastes and needs. One of the bikes was black with red pin stripes, a tachometer, the "hockey puck" saddlebag latches had been replaced with a button, and he was using run-flat tires.

At the time of this ride, I had never heard of, or even thought about, run-flat tires. Evidently they are rated for fifty miles at fifty miles per hour, even if all the air has been let out. The drawback, as I later found out, is that dealership tire workers are not happy working on these tires, as they are very difficult to change.

The one guy I talked to the most was a retired police officer who was working for the railroad. Their trip to the northwest was going to take about 30 days at about 300 miles a day. It must be nice!

I started packing and loading while waiting for the laundry to be done. I knew I had to check out by 11:00 a.m., and I was going to be cutting it pretty close. Some of the laundry was dry, but I had to wait for the jeans and other dark clothes. The sign on a building across from the motel said it was 71 degrees F.

Finally the laundry was done, I changed clothes, checked the room one more time, started the engine, checked out and got moving at 10:50 a.m.

My first stop was the Tucumcari Post Office, where I shipped home more clean clothes, and removed the soft lowers. I decided to run out New Mexico Highway 104 a few miles to where Amanda had told me there was a Quay County sign. Even though I already had a few Quay County pictures, some were taken during twilight and I had no idea if they would come out or not, so I wanted to have plenty to choose from. Since it was a bright and sunny day, I was sure that these pictures would be good, even if none of the others came out. It was only about an 8 mile round trip, and I stopped a couple more times to take some pictures of roads labeled "QR" for "Quay County Road."

I stopped at the Texaco Station at the east end of Tucumcari for fuel, where the clerk was far too busy on the telephone to bother talking to an actual customer. I waited a long time and then he was rude again when he finally did talk to me.

My immediate mission was to get a "Union County" photo, so I rode east on U.S. Highway 54, through Logan and Nara Visa, then turned north on New Mexico Highway 402 for a ways.

About 12:50 p.m. Mountain Time I got my Union County photograph, turned around and returned to Tucumcari. It was about 120 miles out and back, and took about two hours. There was some road construction along the way and I really got tired of the smell of road tar. On the other hand, I was glad to find that the sign was even there, and in good shape. Sometimes signs get knocked down and not replaced.

I stopped at Subway Sandwich near the west end of Tucumcari, then proceeded west on Interstate 40 and stopped for fuel at a Shell Station in Santa Rosa NM at about 3:00 o'clock, where it was hot!, and then continued another half hour to a rest area near mile 252. The highway was newly paved and smelled awful.

When I got back on the highway, I was greeted with really windy conditions for a while. Wow, wind and heat, such exciting riding conditions!

At 3:50 p.m. I took exit 230, out in the middle of nowhere, and rode north on New Mexico Highway 3. It's about 10 miles of desolation that hasn't been paved or smoothed for a while. But it was only about 10 miles.

At one point the road narrows and then follows the side of a mountain down a hill and into a small valley and has a ridiculously slow speed limit, but I had been warned that it was a safe speed, so I went along with it.

Minutes later, at 4:15 p.m. the road widened out a little and I came into the little town of Villanueva (that's vee-ah-new-aee-va) NM. I stopped at the Villanueva General Store ("since 1912"), took a picture, went inside for some air conditioning and cold drinks, and the clerk told me she had not seen Amanda recently.

I followed the directions to her place, just a few minutes away, and got there at 4:25 p.m., and surprised Amanda while riding down the driveway. Again, I knew I was a couple days early, but I was hoping I could be useful instead of in the way.

About 5:00 p.m. Amanda's mom Liz arrived. She was probably the most interesting person I'd met in a long time. Friendly, cheerful, highly-educated, well-traveled, skilled in many areas, and quite amazing - actually, those words could be used to describe both of them! Liz had come along to help Amanda with meal preparations and whatever else was needed for the weekend.

About an hour later Paul Shirron, from the pacific northwest via the southwest, arrived on his Ultra Classic with trailer. While traveling, his bike had developed a starter problem, but once it was running, it was fine, so he figured to get it fixed the next day.

Since I had made a "reservation" with Amanda a few months before, I became one of the "inside" people. She preferred to limit the number of people walking through the house to keep down the dust and dirt. I tried to use my status for good, not for evil.

Amanda showed me to a bedroom with a set of bunk beds and a single bed. I knew I would have to share the room, so I tried not to spread my stuff out too much and prepared to sleep in the bottom bunk of the bunk beds.

One rule of the house was that shoes were not worn indoors. This was a new and unique experience for me. Wait, my niece didn't let me wear shoes indoors when I was in Virginia. Never mind.

So I left my boots near the door and wore a pair of slippers or bare feet when in the house.

Amanda does not have a television set. Intentionally. It was another new and unique experience for me.

The four of us had some sparkling conversation, a nice dinner, some lemonade and then I got out the plastic bags and lined some garbage cans in preparation for my volunteer duties as the garbage can checker for the weekend.

Paul prepared to bed down in the living room. I took a shower (using water sparingly to reduce the strain on the sewer system) and went to bed about 10:00 p.m.

Miles for the day = 256. Miles for the trip = 5682.

Tomorrow: some cleanup, a chemical toilet arrives, and a walk to the Pecos River.

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Created on January 7, 2004. Updated on January 26, 2004.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA