Westward Wedding Wander - Colorado Springs in April

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by MapMaster, Apr 14, 2020.

  1. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    "Another" at the start of the thread title would be appropriate, but it would ruin the alliteration. :lol3

    But that addition would establish that:
    A - This account is not my first rodeo involving nuptial celebrations and a motorcycle ride.
    B - It's not my wedding that is serving as justification for the trip, or associated report.

    The rites regarding this ride occurred almost exactly three years ago in 2017. I couldn't do a ride report immediately after the trip because it was at the start of the season (too many other rides and work got in the way).
    But Covid-19 conditions currently compel conservative conduct and climate conditions are coincidentally contra-conducive to contemporary conveyance capers, so yinz get the start of another ride report n'at out of me. :deal
    (Alliteration alerts are active, act accordingly :lol3)

    Places of interest included in the scope of the trip include (but are not limited to):
    Coalwood, WV home of the Rocketboys
    Ozark Mountains
    Air Force Academy Chapel and grounds
    Kansas Motorcycle Museums - St Francis and Marquette
    Geographic Center of the contiguous U.S.
    Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
    The Eisenhower Presidential Library
    Fort Donelson

    Obligatory teaser pics:





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  2. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    It started with a 'Save the Date' postcard from my cousin's son's fiancée that arrived around xmas 2016.

    Date: April 29; location: Air Force Academy Chapel, Colorado Springs.

    My immediate reaction was, "That should be doable."
    Having ridden to 6 previous weddings, 'as a motorcycle trip' was an unvoiced prerequisite. :ricky
    A check of monthly average temperatures for the area confirmed the viability of my thinking.
    Google reported the direct driving distance as 1450 miles. I doubled it per normal practice and set two weeks as the desired time for getting there, I gave myself some leeway for the actual departure date to allow for weather fronts and the trip commenced on the 20th.
    Initially a very open ended return was anticipated.
    And that was the extent of the planning for the trip, though it did put a definite 'have the bike ready to ride by' date on the calendar to ensure all needed winter maintenance tasks were done in time.

    So now I should be starting with detailed distances, directions, diners, distracted drivers, etc, etc, etc...
    But March madness made manifest a mild management malfunction. (April actually, alliteration affliction altered apparent accounting. :deal)

    I was in a quantum retirement state at the time. I was not working and could probably remain in an un-engaged state, but Westinghouse was doing an upgrade to a power plant in England that I had worked on in the 90's at the start of my career as a process control engineer. I had learned of the upgrade back in August and let one of the project engineers know that I'd be interested in working on the upgrade if they could use me. Sent him my resume right after that, but was told that nothing was likely to happen until the new year. January, February, and March pass with no call, so I figured it wasn't going to happen.

    April 10, I get an email:
    If you are still interested, we need some testing help and we need it now. We have already received preliminary approval for you to provide it if you are interested and available.
    Let me know if you are interested and available or if you would like further information.


    I want this job, but I'm too close to the trip to want to drastically change those plans now.
    And telling them that I won't be able to start until after I make a month long motorcycle trip may not go over very well. (They were desperate at this point and I'd more than likely get the job regardless of the delay, but I didn't want to be obnoxious about my priorities. :lol3)
    So upon further consideration, I responded as follows without any details about the nature of my availability:

    I am still very much interested, but I'm not immediately available.
    I will definitely be available by May 15, though I might free up a week sooner and be ready to work starting May 7.

    And that worked out well enough. In spite of the 'preliminary approval' they screwed around getting the i's crossed and t's dotted and I didn't actually start until a week into June.

    I promise I'll start the actual trip in the next post. :D
  3. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Day 1 - 4/20/17
    Monroeville, PA to Clay, WV
    319 miles

    Other than the wedding, I had the following objectives:
    Visit Mammorth Cave, KY
    Visit my son in Michigan
    Continue my exploration of the Ozarks
    Stop by the Geographic Center of the contiguous United States (gasp, I actually planned on riding in Kansas).

    Mammoth Cave was supposed to be on the outbound leg and Michigan was meant for the return, but weather dictated swapping those visits.

    Loaded for bear:


    Wanting the morning rush into Pittsburgh to clear, I headed out about 1030 and almost immediately confronted the first dumbass of the trip. Me!
    I noticed that the ABS light was on just after reaching the main road, but I had already passed the easy access strip mall parking lot. Why I took the on ramp for the Parkway through da 'Burgh I don't know. I figured the sensor probably had gotten dirty when I mounted the new front tire YESTERDAY and I pulled off once I cleared the Point to check it out.
    Having violated a basic rule of long trips, that of doing check ride after any pre-trip maintenance, I discovered that I had mounted the wheel bass-ackwards and the ABS ring was on the wrong side. I could have swapped it in the gas station parking lot, but I was only about 30 minutes out and rather than juggle with means to keep the front wheel elevated I decided to bite the bullet and go back home to do it in the controlled conditions of the garage.

    The above pics were taken after correcting that mistake and I got rolling again around 1 pm.

    That was the worst travail of the day, but not the last irritant I had to deal with.
    At least the sun was out and a major accident/breakdown on the interstate around Wheeling was in the opposing traffic lanes, so the going was good and soon I was on the WV secondary roads going south.

    In valley farm country just south of Smithville I went to pop open the front of the helmet to adjust my glasses and the modular front piece came loose on the right side. :eek7
    A drama free pull over to the shoulder allowed me to determine that the mounting bolt had backed out and was AWOL.
    At least the helmet would stay in position once I closed it, so I continued on, hoping the next town would provide a solution. There weren't any hardware stores in this neck of the woods and it was already late afternoon/early evening, but just south of Grantsville, I saw an auto garage with a couple of guys hanging out in front. Bingo!
    Keith, of Keith Smith's Auto Service shop and his buddy Greg were able to sort me out with a short 5 or 6 mm bolt and a rubber washer to cushion it from the plastic and I was good to go again. :ricky

    While I had the camping gear, I wanted to make up for the late start and got a motel room in Clay just after dark.
    And I promptly managed to lock myself out of the room. :baldy

    The Wonder of the Day was how I could be such an idiot! :dirtdog
    I hoped the rest of the trip would be better.

    (Spoiler alert, it most certainly was! :D:D:D)
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  4. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    4/21 Day 2, Part 1
    Clay to Breaks Interstate Park in Virtuckey (or Kenginia, take your pick :D)
    232 miles

    View from the back of the motel in the morning:

    Lots of redbud was still in bloom and WV 16, outside of the clog between Summersville and around Beckley, was very nice riding till the late afternoon.


    I made a fortuitous gas stop at this junction with the road to Coalwood. It was time for a Monster break as well and I ended up chatting with an old miner perched on the bench. Noticing the Frog Level Rd sign, I asked how far it went and that led to explorations of Coalwood proper. This was the scene of events described in the book "Rocket Boys" (also put out as "October Skies"), which I had read several years ago. Checking out the sights was a nice diversion in spite of the rain that started.


    Appropriate yard art:

    One of 2 fields reported as the site of rocket launches:

    Coalwood was a classic company town. The remaining buildings, abandoned or not, were interesting:



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  5. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Day 2, Part 2

    Heavy rains and very gusty winds washed and blew away the desire to explore any gravel WV/VA county border roads.
    Visibility got bad enough to actually force me take refuge at a gas station for a bit.

    Fortunately the weather cleared as I neared the Virginia/Kentucky border.
    I saw that the entrance to Breaks Interstate park was open w/o any fee collection, so I poked my head in and the visitor center was open. Learned that the lodge was open too as well as their restaurant and decided to call it a day.

    Scoped out the overlook views. Nice park. The buffet for dinner was a mistake, but the dessert options were very good. Cherry and peach cobbler, brownies, and real ice cream.
    All of the following pics are from the park.

    Lots of land folded up around here:

    I can't imagine the effort needed to build a railroad through here:



    Pre-season discounted room rates and a lousy forecast made it an easy choice to settle in for the night:

    Impressive dining room window:
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  6. boxermoose

    boxermoose Regressive airhead Supporter

    Sep 18, 2003
    Baton Rouge
    Another old Westinghouse guy.....I'll be Siemmenizing you around :D
    MapMaster likes this.
  7. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    :gerg Who you calling old, Sonny! :lol3
    Kinda-sorta but not really on the Westinghouse label.
    I never drank the corporate kool-aid and was always contractor scum (for about 20 years total). :D
    This worked out very well for me, especially in regards to taking time off when needed for long, cross country, mental therapy sessions. :ricky
  8. boxermoose

    boxermoose Regressive airhead Supporter

    Sep 18, 2003
    Baton Rouge
    I'm sure we have a boat load of common colleagues
  9. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    4/22 Day 3, Breaks Interstate Park to Fort Wayne, IN
    454 miles

    Woke up to heavy rain and checked the weather situation. The previous iffy forecast was not so iffy now, two more days of deluge was in store if I maintained the idea of heading to Mammoth Cave. The forecast to the north was better, so I decided to reverse my itinerary a bit and head for Michigan to visit my son on the way out instead of on the return trip. It still left me with a very wet morning and afternoon, but I punched through the front around 3 or 4 and had clear sailing after that.

    Even with the rain, it wasn't a bad ride as I angled northwest through Kentucky.
    At a gas stop in the early afternoon I took a break and had a nice conversation with a younger guy (aren't they all these days? :gerg) who was interested in the bike and had several thoughtful questions about ADV style motorcycles in general.

    As I progressed, it became clear that I could reach Fort Wayne before too late, so I gave a friend of mine there a shout and discovered that Ed could accommodate me in his new place, but I'd have to spread the bag and pad out since the spare bedrooms were still bare. He was on his way to Cleveland when I talked to him, with the goal of picking up a used Caponord. I like his priorities - a bike should take precedence over bedroom furniture. As it turned out, he couldn't close the deal that day, but got it a week or two later. My later arrival coincided nicely with his return, so a run to a brewpub for a couple pints and some appetizers capped the day off nicely.

    The run up through Indiana on secondary roads led me past a couple impressive county courthouse buildings. It wasn't a stop for pictures kind of day, but I would have further opportunities over the next two days to rectify that.
  10. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    4/23 Day 4, Fort Wayne, IN to Portage, MI
    112 miles


    A very relaxed day. Ed and I hit a Panera for breakfast and I meandered more or less directly up to Portage where my son Samuel was currently abiding.

    Some examples of Indiana civic architecture:
    Albion/Noble County

    Lagrange, town and county

    Appropriately enough, this one had pasture around it:


    Reached Sam's place by noon and after catching up, some gear drying and laundry, we went to dinner with his brother and sister and then played some kind of interactive video game (it was fun, but as I'm not into any of the computer gaming options, the actual name didn't stick in the memory banks).

    And one more wildlife shot for the day (I wondered what kind of reptile this was and have been informed that it's probably a bearded dragon, not the dreaded ear ingesting iguana): :D
  11. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    4/24 Day 5, Portage to Washington County Recreation Area, IL
    466 miles

    Another completely dry day, what a concept!

    Stopped for breakfast in Middlebury, IN and liked this old piece of hardware:

    Not much worry of grand theft auto in these parts I guess:

    Courtly county courthouses continued.
    I think this was in Rochester, IN:

    Warren weighs in:

    A wide ranging globetrotting kind of day. Went through Warsaw, Palestine, skirted Paris and found myself in Kansas without even touching Missouri. I wonder if a tornado had anything to do with that. :wink:

    Broke out the tent for the first time at the Washington Country Lake Area park in IL and after setting up, rode into Pinkneyville for dinner and a couple campground beers.
  12. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    4/25 Day 6, Washington Rec Area to Eminence, MO
    277 miles
    Plot (close approximate, things were kind of squirrelly around Fredericktown)

    Today was a great day for old bridges, 'pop' culture, beautifully twisty roads, and one of the odder occurrences of on-road offers of assistance I've experienced.

    The old bridge:

    Rereading the above sign now, I was laughing at the original 'except for' list and wondered what was left.

    But the trusses are of worthy significance, and they alone probably account for more than half the timber used to build it:

    Chester, IL and a new (to me) crossing of the Big River was my next way-point and that resulted in one of those small, unexpected, but pleasant surprises that brightens a trip. The home of Popeye!:

    This required further investigation, after all, I was a sailor man myself. :D


    I had caught a glimpse of the statue of Swee Pea and Olive Oyl on my way through town, but did not go for the complete collection. The prior change in general routing was leaving me a little short on cushion for getting to the wedding in time. I had to give priority to dancing through the Missouri Ozarks today over collecting bronze busts.

    So over the river I went:

    After entering Missouri I stopped for lunch and broke out the Butler map of the Ozarks to stitch together a route taking in as many yellow segments as I could while still, generally, kinda sorta, in a round about way, maintaining westward progress while tilting to every point of the compass at severe lean angles. :ricky:ricky:ricky

    //Side Note 1:
    I like the Butler maps for identifying those twisty road gems in areas that I haven't been able to fully explore yet.
    But a combination of the sheen from the waterproof paper and a lack of contrast compared to other road maps make it virtually worthless for side-of-the-road reference in a tank bag. For this area in particular, the green background of the 'forest land' was a particular hindrance. (You listening to this @eakins :D)//

    A bit west of the town of Bunker, the dance has to be paused to render assistance to a fellow Tiger rider.
    He was stuck at a gravel side road without any oil. The lack of oil caused by a drain plug that had gone AWOL.
    As it turned out, he was also without any tools, having left the normal pack at home.
    I had one quart of oil in the bag, and a knife that he used to cut a branch from one of the nearby bushes to whittle into an ersatz plug - all well and good, but he commented that the knife kind of dull (:dirtdogbeggars can't be choosers :D). While this was in progress, his riding partner, who had been well ahead, arrived in a very pissed-off mood. This was the last straw for him, apparently being fed up with having to wait on his 'buddy' too many times through the course of the day. Before the situation could be explained he said he was leaving on his own. After getting a word in edgewise to justify the latest halt, it looked like he was still going to leave, but he did finally park and calmed down a bit.
    I suggested that he go into town to get some oil while I would putter down the road on the off chance of finding the absent drain bolt.
    I found the start of the oil slick, but no joy on any threaded stopper.
    I came back, the other rider returned with oil, and with the bush plug wrapped in a bit of rag in place; oil was added and seemed to be holding well enough for them to continue.
    Mr Tiger is an inmate and I followed up with him later to learn that he had made it back home okay, cutting a better fitting plug 20 mile later (with a sharper knife I assume) and flushing 5 quarts of oil in the process.


    //Side Note 2:
    One reason I didn't do this report during the next winter's downtime was because I couldn't think of a way to do justice to the story of the above incident without it coming out either as especially harsh (a couple other details didn't put either of them in a particularly good light), or getting laughs at their expense.
    But if you ride at all, you've had 'dumbshit' moments yourself, and that was why I included my own example of idiocy at the start of this ride. And I've had group rides that were so maddeningly frustrating that I just walked away at stops rather than attempt any conversation. So my feelings thinking back to this episode have mellowed. I wasn't mad about it, just extremely incredulous.//

    Rolling again, there wasn't a lot of daylight left and I didn't see any likely campgrounds as I made my way into Eminence, so I grabbed a motel room there and enjoyed a decent dinner on the patio of a Mexican restaurant and watched a bald eagle soar around for a bit.
  13. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    4/26 Day 7, Eminence to Van Buren, MO
    90 damp, dryish, and then drenched miles

    I woke up to wet roads with heavy rain in the offing to the west.
    So I swung east in hopes of it passing by before looping back and had a great ride into Piedmont where I stopped at an auto parts store and got a replacement quart of oil.
    The staff there recommended Zephers for breakfast and it was a great steer.
    My waitress was on the ball and knowing which cook was dishing it up, suggested that I request extra crispy for the hash browns. They came out perfect! :dukegirl

    But my rain avoidance plan failed. Not long after leaving Piedmont the skies opened with an absolute deluge!
    The spray from other vehicles was literally blinding and when I could see, beavers were building arks instead of dams.
    I sloshed into Van Buren and stopped at the Ozark National Scenic Riverways visitor's center. A very good break, not only did they have some good exhibits about the early settlement of the area, it was dry.
    One display regarding the initial schools showed a list of rules that teachers had to follow. One of which was "No shaving at barber shops!" I have no idea what social stigma was associated with that kind of behavior, but the civic minded townspeople of the era certainly weren't going to put up with that sort of tomfoolery. :lol3

    After inspecting all items of interest there, with the rain still at frog drowning levels and the forecast and radar images both showing massive amounts of wet stuff well into Kansas for the rest of the day with it clearing out tomorrow morning, the executive decision was to sod this for a game of soldiers and I pulled the plug on further riding for the day. Found a motel at the edge of town, got some extra towels from one of the housekeepers and was settled in front of the TV around noon.

    More Weather Channel and scanning of the NOAA site revealed an unwelcome future.
    Today was Wednesday and the wedding was Saturday evening, so I had planned on arriving at the designated hotel near the Air Force Academy where most of the out-of-town guests were staying around noon on Saturday.
    5 to 6 inches of SNOW was predicted there starting Friday afternoon.

    "That ain't gonna fly Orville."
    So I changed the campaign plan to arrive Friday as early as I could.
    Cancelled my reservation at the one hotel and booked two nights at one closer to my cousin Bill's house, so I could get a ride to the ceremony with one of his contingent, most likely cousin Karen's (Bill's sister) family who were coming out from the Pittsburgh for the event as well.
    While I like to ride the bike to the actual ceremony when possible, that is not an absolute requirement. The key is getting to the town for the event (I had to go to the first one in PA, after riding from Bremerton, WA, in the limo since I was the Best Man :deal).
    The added benefit to this was that I could properly toast the newlyweds at the reception. :drink :freaky
    The downside is that a picture of the bride next to the bike was not gonna happen. Given how grimy it was going to be with not much chance for a proper wash beforehand, this was not likely anyway.

    So with the altered arrangements assessed and assault assignments aligned, I binge watched the food network for the rest of the afternoon.
    Got a burger at the motel bar to go with some beers and good chat with the locals and hit the sack early.
    Sorry, no pictures for the day.:permazot
  14. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    4/27 Day 8, Van Buren to Pratt, KS
    543 miles

    Still wet to start, but not nearly as bad as yesterday. Cleared by late morning.
    Stop for gas and coffee
    Stop for late breakfast/lunch
    Stop for crap :D

    (made with an old manure spreader, Carthage, MO)


    Stop for gas and Monster
    Stop for a cool view:


    Stop for the night in Pratt
    Winds from ESE - made for easy running.
    Unlike several past crossings, Kansas did not try to kill me today. :D
  15. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    4/28 Day 9, Pratt to Colorado Springs, CO
    399 miles

    Early start - 7:12
    Wind from SE till Ford, then SW - buffeted about for awhile and then they calmed.
    The forecast for Pueblo was dire - the heavy snow to start earlier than CS, so CO 94 would be my approach and I plotted the rest of the route with that in mind.

    Around Garden City an approaching trooper lit up and I thought I was screwed, I saw him make a u-turn behind me, so I slowed and pulled over to the shoulder but he went right on by and pulled over a car ahead of me, one that I had probably been gaining on. (whew!)

    I don't think we're in Kansas anymore:

    I know weed is legal now, but Colorado farmers are planting some really strange stuff in their fields these days:

    The time zone shift helped and I made it to Lamar in time for a late breakfast at the Hickory House. A very good burrito (as might be inferred, I like breakfast burritos when travelling out west, they don't make them very well in the east).

    On US 40 I picked up a lead rabbit (pace car) and happily droned along at 80+
    We both turned onto CO-94 -and a sign informed us that the next services were 70 miles into the future.
    The rabbit slowed - due to rough road, or a realization that he might need to conserve gas? I knew not, but went on by.

    Yep Toto, this is definitely not Kansas:

    Periodic flurries began on this stretch, but not an issue at all. :pynd
    I was warm enough, roads were dry enough, and visibility was good enough.

    Arrived at the hotel at 3:00 pm exactly (start of check-in) and as I walked in, snow started in earnest. I was Stoked!

    Speaker tucked in for the visit:

    A beer coupon for the Rock Bottom Brewery out front was put to use.
    While I generally prefer a more relaxed, stop-and-smell-the-roses, pace; the occasional sustained, take-no-prisoners blast can be rewarding. The body was popping and fizzing as either the endorphin high, or adrenaline rush, subsided.
    Normalcy returned as I sipped my beer, a little disappointed that there was no one with similar experiences who I could share the satisfaction of the moment with.
    jathkajoe likes this.
  16. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    4/29 Day 10, Wedding
    0 miles

    Speaker is not happy:

    And I wasn't too pleased either, because I thought my streak of always delivering good weather whenever I rode the m/c to a wedding was ended. (Well, let me amend that to 'sunny' weather, the 95F and 90% humidity at a couple of them wasn't necessarily good, but it was sunny. Why do so many folks have to schedule weddings in July anyway? :lol3)

    Okay, it's a ride report and I didn't do any riding today, but the wedding locale was pretty impressive, so I'm serving up some pics from the ceremony. Deal with it. :D :deal

    Bare Bones Dramatis Personae:
    Bill - Cousin
    Jill - his wife
    Karen - another cousin, Bill's sister
    Chris - Son getting hitched
    Lauren - Air Force Major (I think she's a LT Col now), Academy graduate and lovely bride.

    I don't know why I had a brain cramp when sorting out the logistics for this trip. I should have run a suit over to Karen's house so that she could haul it to CO (she and her husband Matt were driving out). A strategy I've employed on other occasions.
    I decided to forgo trying to pack a jacket and opted for the following look which allowed the cleaned up motorcycle boots to serve for footwear (I wasn't planning on any dancing :photog):

    It was a raw day, cold and crusty ice and snow

    The iconic Academy Chapel:

    Got the history of water leaks at the chapel from the minister who conducted the ceremony. It's leaked from day one. It was scheduled to close before the end of the year for major renovations, but that got delayed. Was finally closed in Sept 2019 for a 4 year renovation.

    I know this is a lousy shot, but it at least shows the interior positioning of the walls/roof so the the following detail pictures will make sense:

    A section of the side wall:

    And the roof:

    One decentish group shot of the party:

    Even with my mediocre cell phone camera and crappy skills, I got lucky when I grabbed a video of the procession back down the aisle. I was not aware of the tradition of extracting a toll from the couple before they could pass. Don't know if the Army and Navy do the same, but would be surprised if they didn't. When a simple kiss wasn't accepted, Chris delivered!

    Wedding march: smugmug link

    The reception was a fun time.
    Ol Man likes this.
  17. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    4/30 Day 11, stayed in Colo Spgs area, Air Force Academy tourist
    42 miles

    Checked out of the hotel and went over to join the brunch crowd at Bill and Jill's.
    The one item of note from this was learning that Chris actually wanted snow for the wedding. :clap
    My steak of delivering "desired" wedding weather continues. :deal
    I don't know if that was Lauren's preference as well, but knew better than to ask about it. Why qualify my streak and potentially poke an area of marital dischord. :amazon :lol3

    And I took advantage of the opportunity to pass off my wedding duds to Karen and Matt for a future pickup, freeing up some packing space on the bike.
    I spent the rest of the day touring the Academy grounds in bright sunshine and temps in the 50s. What a difference a day makes!

    Got the obligatory patch at the visitor's center and took in a film and the displays there before going back to the chapel area.

    Lots of cool plane monuments and sculpture in a plaza near the chapel:



    Better shots of the chapel: upload_2020-4-19_14-6-52.jpeg


    The main floor is the Protestant chapel, Catholic, Jewish, and Buddhist chapels are below:



    It's an impressive campus!

    Lots of planes/jets around, all dwarfed by this BUFF (Big Ugly Fat 'Fellow' :D):

    It was late afternoon by the time I finished wandering around the Academy grounds, so rather than trying to do any significant miles in a rapidly cooling evening, I grabbed a room at a nearby Motel 6 for the night.
    xcsks and Ladybug like this.
  18. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    5/1 Day 12, Colorado Springs to Smith Center, KS
    375 miles

    Couple more pictures from yesterday (forgot a folder):
    Pike's Peak from the hotel room:

    Front range and Air Force Academy from I-25:

    Early/cold start, stopped about an hour out for a warming breakfast burrito in Simla.
    The eggs were very fresh:

    Not a favored sign actually:

    Whole lot of this to start with:

    Wildlife to contend with today included a jackrabbit and deer in CO, and an effing cow! on the loose in KS.
    I stopped in St Francis, KS and toured the motorcycle museum there. Quite an impressive collection, I'll put pics from this visit in the next installment.

    After the visual tire kicking I got a good bit further down the road to Smith Center. The roads were clear all day, but lots of snow was on the ground in Kansas and a lot of power lines down. It blew hard around here when the storm went through.

    Too cold to camp, the motel staff was friendly:

    The pizza place in town served up a tasty pie and chased the chill away:
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  19. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    St. Francis Motorcycle Museum link

    A modest front:

    Which hides a first class collection inside.

    The whole point of having a plane deliver you to the front is so that you don't have to walk there.
    Paratroopers don't like to walk. :deal
    So they took these along sometimes: :D

    Indians and Harleys are so passe, in addition to Hendersons and Excelsiors; examples from Ace, Pope, Yale, Flying Merkel, Flanders, Iver Johnson, Orient and Jefferson were all new to me.
    Well worth going out of the way for if you're ever anywhere semi-close to the area.
    The link above should provide details for all of these and the rest of the collection.




    Iver Johnson:

    Feilbach Limited:

    1902 Orient:


    And a favorite lust object from my youth:
  20. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    5/2 Day 13 - Part 1, Smith Center to Abilene, KS
    227 miles

    Today's immediate objectives were easily aimed at. Even before my 'MapMaster' moniker was hung on me by a good friend and riding compadre, geographic points of interest regularly drew my interest and I was long aware that the center of the 48 states was in Kansas. I was finally going to add that location to my personal collection. (The town of Smith Center was named such due to it's proximity to this point, which was nearby in the town of Lebanon.)
    And while perusing the Kansas map on the way to Colorado, I noticed a dot labeled the Geodetic Center of North America nearby. This piqued my interest, I did not know what that meant, but the interwebz corrected that knowledge gap. I had to go there. :deal
    Though that detour meant that I would miss seeing the World's Largest Ball of Twine. I like oddball items like that, but being more of the purely tourist trap variety, I could continue to live without that experience. :D

    Old marker:


    Newer one:

    Lebanon, KS welcomes tourists, but won't tolerate any rowdiness:

    I liked this detail on their municipal center:

    There's a sign for the Geodetic Center along one of the major roads in the area, but that too far away from the actual location for me. It took some deep drilling on google maps and consultation with locals in Tipton to get me pointed in the right direction, but I still had to do some quartering on back roads of this ilk to finally get close enough.


    The marker is on the hilltop behind the sign.


    While collecting the above pics, I heard a plane buzzing around. Mounted and heading south I crested a ridge and saw a crop duster going at it.

    Smugmug crop duster video

    Since it was a publicly accessible area, I assume that direct exposure to whatever was being sprayed would be harmless.
    I wonder why corn tassels are growing out of my ears now. :D
    jathkajoe likes this.