Coming down US50, west of Monarch Pass
Dry (riverbed on fire)
Dusty (you can't see the dust devil very well)
|Friday morning we got up decently early and said goodbye to the people
we'd met. Some people were trailering home, but several were riding
fairly long distances, or heading down to the RA rally in Red River, NM.
We headed north on 550 up to Montrose, then got onto US 50 heading
towards Kansas City.
Breakfast was at a great diner in Gunnison (recommended by a local) and then we were up and over Monarch Pass. At the top we pulled off for a view (didn't find a particularly good one) and encountered a man and woman riding a hybrid bike that was the front of an R1100S and the rear of a Japanese bike. It was very long, and towed a trailer. Why didn't I get a picture?!?!?! No idea. Then I had the harebrained notion to stop at Royal Gorge... what a waste. There's a bridge over a gorge, but the road only exists to cross this bridge and you need admission to the theme park ($17.50) for that. So we shared our dismay over the general situation and moved on.
10 IT'S HOT
Bank thermometers in Canon City showed 100 and 105 as we went through. And it was crowded. East of Canon City all traces of terrain disappear completely. We saw a brush fire and some guys on Harleys, and we got really hot. It's all a haze but I think we took brief refuge in some sort of Quik Mart for lunch.
Hotdrydustyhotboringhotflatdustywindyhotflatboringflathotwindydustyhot. That about sums up the next few hundred miles, and the flat, boring, dusty, dry, windy hotness was only broken by a brief detour to the tracks of the Santa Fe trail just west of Dodge City KS. Neat place; the tracks are really wide swails in the ground where the wagons went 4-wide across the prairie. When one track got too worn, they'd move over and make more, so there are a series of gentle but substantial ridges about 50 feet wide each. A bit further back was the remains of an early irrigation canal feeding off the nearby Arkansas River.
Dinner was in Dodge City, where we wasted FAR too much time looking for a steakhouse (there are supposed to be a lot there, but we saw very few) and eventually settled on Mexican. Then we hit the road again in darkness and put another 80 miles behind us before stopping at a Mom & Pop motel in Stafford.
The next morning we got started before dawn, and as the day lightened we could see heavy thunderstorms and lightning directly ahead. After exactly 100 miles we pulled off for breakfast and the skies opened up. Hey, let's wait it out with some more coffee! Back on the road we ran into more rainstorms and lightning but it became somewhat apparent that we were going to run out of it which we did shortly after Emporia, at which point US50 was running with I-35. The camera was safely sealed away at this point, and we were trying to get out of Kansas without dabbing a foot, so on we went pictureless. But at least the land was beginning to show signs of vegetation and terrain.
After KC we used interstates, taking I-70 to St. Louis and the I-64. Lunch was in Indiana and we got to Lexington KY that night. 840 miles - longest day of the trip.
Sunday was only 510 miles, taking I-64 to Charleston and I-79 north to Morgantown. At Flatwoods we found a great diner (Waffle Hut) and then got caught in a few real frog-choker rainstorms farther on. Not long after that we mercilessly rode the shoulder to get past construction traffic and then hit increasingly heavy traffic, as usual, on the final approach to the DC area.