Day 2: Amarillo to Denver
NOTE TO SELF: Do not stay at grungy motels adjacent to 24 hr truck stops...
I hardly got any sleep from the noise of airbrakes all night and was cranky and groggy today. I also think adrenaline was a factor since I woke up wide awake at 4 am ready to go
The night before, in the midst of the huge storm 2 guys on Harleys pulled in and bailed into the adjacent rooms. They'd been caught on the interstate when the storm hit and rode through it for a long way. Next morning we chatted while loading bikes and turns out they were heading to Montana as well. They were intrigued by The Pig and hadn't seen a GS before. Just as we loaded up the sun began breaking through the clouds. Perfect timing! Yowza!
Pig in a Poke
Honey, does this angle make me look fat?
Heading out of Amarillo to Dumas, the flat landscape turned to rolling plains and became pretty as I approached the Canadian River. The morning sun was great, the air was cool and the bike was running great. I watched a train crossing a large trestle bridge near the river and the excitement of the trip really hit me.
By the time I got to Dumas, the temperature had dropped and I was beginning to get a little chill in my mesh jacket. It felt great knowing the Texas heat was slipping away.
Riding through to Dalhart, the huge plains to either side were fascinating in their own way, and it was interesting seeing how the hay was stacked high and in long lines in the field. I wondered if they were also used as wind breaks for the cattle... who knows.
Entering Dalhart, I had my first close call on the bike. On the main street, a small white minivan pulled out ahead of me and was cruising along at my speed for a bit. For some reason the driver suddenly stopped dead in the middle of the road - of course it was at the exact instant I glanced to one side. I've now bonded with the Beemer's ABS brakes
I got the bike stopped just in time but man was I PO'd. Oh well. I stopped in Dalhart, threw on the jacket liner and got gas. Boy Scout troops, van trains and cars with gear on top were strewn through the little town as they trekked to the mountains. I started feeling the rush of excitement and blew on to Texline then hit the New Mexico border. Yeah baby yeah! - that first glimpse of volcanic mountains protruding up from the plains is a rush.
*Note To Self - actually change your watch after reading the sign...
Clayton, NM came up soon and I circled through the little town. It has charm and looks like a neat place to hang out, though I suspect few do since the mountains are calling. I pulled up to the light next to an old rancher in a beat up pickup truck with his window down. As we waited I said hi and he nodded and tipped his cowboy hat and then said slowly "Where you goin?" When I said Montana, he grinned and said "Good Luck".
Maybe he was wishing me well because he knew I had to pass the giant cattle feeding station just outside town. When I saw it and the thousands of cattle, I decided to stop and get a pic - that is until I hit the valley where the stink was. I was wishing for oxygen by the time I got halfway past.
As I headed on towards Raton, the air was cool and the scenery was beautiful. That part of New Mexico has a great quality - huge plains of green grass with the mountains jutting up. The vistas are inspiring and give you a sense of time and history. Can't help but wonder where the little ranch roads go and how long the families have been there. Pronghorn antelope were spotted here and there with the occasional windmill at some far distance to give a scale of how massive the area is.
There is a lot of road construction on the road to Raton, so much of it was posted at 45 mph. In addition there is the "Safety Zone" for many miles with warnings of double traffic fines, so the trip was slow. That was good because it forced me to really enjoy the beautiful landscape, the smells of green grass, etc. I passed the Capulin volcano and wish I had taken a side trip to the park. Maybe on the way back.
The bullet holes in the sign made me feel just like I was in Texas
Got to Raton, NM about noon and rode down through the town. Great little town I'd missed in the past since I was always focused on getting into the pass.
I needed coffee and stopped in the Crystal Cafe. Great place!
It didn't take much for the waitress to sucker me in to getting the olive oil and garlic pasta lunch special
Man was it good!
The waitress looked out and saw the bike and said "Well that's just a gigantic dirt bike!" Well it sure isn't a dirt bike but it sure is great for trips like this. On the highway with all the gear on and my 6'4 frame, I think a few truckers have been drafting behind me
Today the weather has been absolutely perfect - sunshine, blue sky and puffy white clouds. Raton Pass was just beautiful as I went through. I'm still amazed at how different everything looks when riding as opposed to driving in a car. I began to see a more steady supply of bikes heading south.
The drive up I-25 past the mountains is quite a sight and makes the interstate ride a lot more interesting.
Somehow I was expecting the Rockies to be more impressive...
I wanted to make time and rode on to Colorado Springs and grabbed a Starbucks to relax and wait for rush hour traffic to thin. This where I should have payed attention to the Mountain Time sign
A huge thunderhead formed over the mountains and was coming in fast so I got back on the bike to hit Denver. Got stuck in rush hour traffic and looped back off to get gas. Lightning hit about a hundred yards from me as I was gassing up and strikes were frequent.
Looking back at Colorado Springs as I was leaving
I eventually got out of the rain and made it to Denver and my friends house.
My new Ohlins are due to arrive and I'm anxious to get them on the bike
Total miles today: 456
Total bugs killed: 27 (but they were really big ones)
Total pasta plates killed: 1