Day Three by Dave Schultheis
Wednesday, July 30, 2003 - Gallup, New Mexico
I slept some. The mattress seemed to be made of straw, although the pillow was good. The neighbors were kind of noisy and woke me up around 5:30 a.m. Mountain Time. I got up at 5:40 a.m., dressed and packed. It was sprinkling and 65 degrees while I loaded the Road King.
I started rolling at 6:30 a.m., with dark clouds overhead, occasional sprinkles and many trucks on Interstate 40.
I stopped a little more than an hour later for fuel at a Texaco Station in Grants NM. It was 68 degrees. East of there, it was sprinkling.
Just before 9 a.m. I passed Interstate 25 while riding through Albuquerque. There was some rain off and on as I rolled east.
At 9:25 a.m., I took exit 194 and stopped at McDonald's in Moriarty NM, where it was 71 degrees. I ate outside in the parking lot, and called Grand Canyon Harley-Davidson on the cellular phone and told "Bobber" that replacing the battery had solved the problem, thanked him for getting me on my way, and let him know that I had made it 381 miles.
Since the cellular phone was doing so well, I called my mother at her home to make sure things were okay with her; they were. Back on the highway, I encountered a few sprinkles.
At 11:05 a.m., I took exit 267 and stopped for fuel at a Texaco Station near Colonias NM, about 10 miles west of Santa Rosa; it was 76 degrees. I called my aunt in east Texas to let her know my progress.
About an hour later, I stopped at a rest area near mile 302 or 303 for hydration. It was 82 degrees.
Another hour later, I stopped at the Texas state line for a picture. It was really warming up! I changed from 1:00 p.m. Mountain Time to 2:00 p.m. Central Time.
At 3:10 p.m. CT, I rolled into a Texaco Station near Amarillo (exit 79?) for fuel, and some cold drinks ("Kist" strawberry soda, three for $1), then turned south on U.S. Highway 287.
Very shortly I stopped for a picture of a Dairy Queen advertising sign, "Official Texas Rest Stop," then for a "Left Lane For Passing Only" sign, then for another Dairy Queen sign "Texas Stop Sign" just before I got into Claude TX.
If you don't have a Dairy Queen in your area, you might not know that the Dairy Queen logo is big, red, and not quite round, but resembles a stop sign, and there's a Dairy Queen in almost every small town in Texas.
There was another Dairy Queen sign near Clarendon, which again said "Texas Stop Sign," and in Clarendon it was 91 degrees at 4:20 p.m., and I stopped at a picnic area along the highway for fluid and a map check. Too bad the peace and quiet was ruined by creeps who stopped their car and turned up the music.
I was hoping to get to my uncle and aunt's home today, but Texas is a _big_ state, and it didn't look like it would happen. I had been on this road a year prior and didn't make the distance, so I was pretty sure I'd have to stop somewhere for the night, but I kept going for the time being.
There were numerous "picnic" and "parking" areas along the side of Highway 287 that were quite simple; usually a couple of tables, some garbage cans and either shelter or trees. However, Donley County and Hardeman County had erected some very large and impressive Safety Rest Areas, with plenty of parking and shade, not unlike some that have been built by Caltrans back at home.
I stopped at 6 p.m. for SBS ("sore butt syndrome") at an Exxon Station in Quanah, where I cleaned bugs from my face-shield and glasses, then continued for another 40 minutes to Vernon, where it was 91 degrees, and I stopped at a Chevron Station that I recognized from last year's trip, and realized (too late) that I should have skipped it. There were no card-readers on the pumps and everything was done, by hand, by one employee, who was too busy. While waiting to pay, I talked to another rider who was enroute from Houston to Sturgis, and recommended the Best Western, if I ever had to stay in Vernon.
About 7:30 p.m. I took an off-ramp in Witchita Falls and pulled into a familiar (from last year) Ramada Express on Beverly Drive, where it was windy and 90 degrees. They rewarded my loyalty with word that they were FULL! There was some type of event in town and all the motels were full, so I was out of luck, and kept going.
I continued south on U.S. 287 and then turned south on U.S. Highway 82, which goes mostly east. Almost immediately I came into Henrietta, and since it was getting dark, I stopped at the Hillside Motel, which turned out to be about 7 or 8 notches _below_ scuzzy, so I was glad that nobody answered the bell.
I kid you not, gravel and dirt parking lot, little tiny shanties that hadn't been painted since the '30s, several broken-down cars, shoeless children and dogs walking around, broken windows, junk laying everywhere. I could not have imagined what the insides of the places looked like.
Somewhere around here I called my uncle and told him I would not be arriving tonight, but would be making it down there the next day. He gave me instructions on how to get into the house if they were gone.
It was another 32 minutes to Nocoma, where the woman at the convenience store told met that the Nocoma Inn was nice, but I went down there, and it's in the downtown area with no off-street parking, so it wouldn't work for me, no matter how nice it was.
I continued down U.S. 82 a few blocks, still in Nocona, and found a Budget Inn at 9:30 p.m. This place was about 2 notches below scuzzy, and too expensive, but I had just about reached the end of my patience for the day. It was hot and I was tired and had been up for fourteen hours.
I paid the fee and parked right at the door, then unloaded the Road King, trying hard not to step on the resident motel cat or the crickets and grasshoppers that the cat was chasing around.
The room was quite warm, having been closed up all day with no ventilation. The air conditioner worked well, but took a while to cool the room. The bathroom was even warmer. There was no refrigerator, but the (ethnicity deleted) desk clerk brought me a tub of ice.
After I got most of my stuff put down, I walked to a nearby Texaco Station for a bag of ice, some water, and some Mountain Dew for the next morning. Mountain Dew has a lot of caffeine, so I don't drink it at night, or I'd never get to sleep.
Back in the room, I discovered that Sprint PCS did not work in Nocona, but the television did, so I took a shower, watched some TV Land, and went to bed somewhere around 11:00 p.m.
Miles for the day = 704. Miles for the trip = 1671.
Tomorrow: more warm temps, more small towns, and into familial territory. (There's a nice little play on words for you to think about.)