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
    5/2 Day 13 - Part 2

    The rest of the day's route was again subject to weather factors. More storms, or permutations of the one that had blasted western Kansas two days ago, were still inundating the eastern part of the state and not in any hurry to clear out. When they did, a slow trek across the Mississippi valley would mean that Missouri/Arkansas and Tennessee/Kentucky would be reaping the benefits of their attention. So I decided to layup tomorrow and check out the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.

    On the way I passed through Lucas which is home to quite an assortment of galleries and funky outdoor art, though for some reason, I wasn't motivated to take any pictures. :dunno

    After Lucas I checked out Wilson Lake and deemed it worthy of a photo:

    And learned that in these parts, on a generally treeless prairie, pioneers made use of sandstone for fence posts:

    Generally, not completely treeless, as this gnarled relic attests to:

    While at the St. Francis motorcycle museum yesterday, I learned that there was an associated one in Marquette, KS as well. I didn't have that as a set objective today, but my wanderings put me near there so I dropped in about an hour before closing time.

    A different flavor and more of a hodgepodge collection compared to the St. Francis version, but still lots of unique machinery and interesting displays. I took a lot of poor quality pictures inside. :(

    But liked how this bit of whimsy turned out:

    Landed in Abilene and booked two nights in a clean/cheap motel.
    There was a work crew grilling dinner outside and we talked bikes. They treated me to a grilled jalapeno and a brat, couple of the guys expected me to choke on the pepper, but I demonstrated that I ain't no gringo when it comes to chilies. :dukegirl

    Later I wandered across the street for some wings and beers at Ike's place. Chelsea - owner or manager - used to be a research assistant at the library and gave me good dope on how to go about being a researcher for a day.

    One failure of my record keeping is now evident as I craft this tale:
    "Smelled like old hotdog water and baby barf" was a phrase I heard at the bar that cracked me up. I wrote down the words, but didn't capture the circumstances. Now I can't remember what was being described, but I still laugh about it.

    All-in-all, a great day meandering through 'flyover country'.
    Robthekiwi likes this.
  2. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    5/3 Day 14 - Part 1, Eisenhower Museum and Library Research
    5 miles


    Stopping mid-trip to do research at a library is an admittedly atypical activity to engage in while on a motorcycle trip. Other than riding to the center and stowing my gear, there's not one bit of motorcycle activity to relate, so I'll forgive you for skipping this prose heavy entry. But I hope some will find this of interest and I uncovered a really funny story that's at the end of all these words.

    While triggered by the weather situation, the motivation was sparked by some recent reading and I was also curious about the process historians go through to gather material for books/articles.

    Eisenhower had been a recent subject of a few books. I came across two instances where General Marshall's selection of Ike to command Torch, the invasion of North Africa, was in part based on how impressive Ike had been when Chief of Staff for general Krueger, commander of the Third Army during the major 1941 war game maneuvers held in Louisiana. I wondered what exactly Ike had done that was so impressive. If I remember correctly, when tapped to lead Torch, Marshall jumped Ike over 34 more senior officers.

    That gave me a specific and more manageable topic to dig into with, what I hoped would be, a better chance of finding some nuggets of information.
    I figured it would be better to show up asking for something like that than to just say, 'What do you have about his time as president that I could look through in an this afternoon?' :lol3

    Chelsea's briefing last night had addressed some of my concerns about this quest. I had wondered if I could just show up with a matter of personal interest only (yes), or if I had to do some advance application and be seriously engaged in some book, or documentary project (no and no).

    The Library was an impressive building:





    I arrived at the visitor center early, was directed to the library, went through security, got credentialed as a Researcher for the year, and was given a key to a locker I could use for the day. This was a pretty straight-forward process and after all that I was met by one of the research assistants/archivists (Valice) who guided me to the main reading room.


    We discussed what I was trying to determine. With that she generated a three page printout of materials linked to the Louisiana Maneuvers held from 1940 to 1943 that listed:
    • 8 collections of personal papers by individual, with one to 5 box numbers or microfilm reels of those papers that contained something related to those maneuvers (there could be over 100 boxes in any individual collection). An example:
    Collins, J. Lawton: Papers
    Box 47: Notes of Comments on Third Army Maneuvers, Louisiana, May 28, 1940 (Not of interest to me since I was after info on the 1941 event)
    • 3 boxes of US Army Unit Records
    • 2 collections of WWII Participants and Contemporaries
    • 6 Oral history transcripts
    • 3 Publications
    • 9 Photographs
    I went through the list and checked off what materials I wanted to look at to start with. I gave this list back to Valice so that she could have the boxes and films pulled from the archives. This would take some time and I went out to walk through the museum and tour Ike's childhood home.


    When I returned they had a cart with the requested boxes each full of file folders. There was very precise regimen on how you went through the various files, only one allowed out on the table at a time with a marker piece of paperboard that had to be placed in the box at the file location. The staff's job in this regard was to provide you with the requested material, NOT to go through all the stuff they had given you to put it back in the proper order in the proper box. :nono

    It took me a little while to figure out how to used the info on the original list to guide me to the specific folders in the boxes, rather than having to read through their entire contents, but once I got the hang of it I settled in to some absorbing studies. :*sip*

    I did not find a direct answer to my question, but did glean some tidbits:

    Ike was a social schmoozer in his correspondence, not too surprising given the nature of achieving high rank in any organization. Not only do you have to be good at your profession, you have to develop a network of friends and boost each other's career.

    General Krueger, his boss during the maneuvers, thought very highly of him. There was a letter to Ike from Sam Jones, the former governor of Louisiana, that told him of a lunch given to General Krueger and his staff at the time of the war games. Krueger had told the governor that Ike:
    "... had one of the brightest minds in the American Army. In my opinion he's 'going places', ..."

    Nicole, the lady who assisted me in the afternoon, got me a copy of Ike's Army efficiency reports (performance evaluations) from the period.
    I learned that he had spent several years in the Philippines with General Douglas MacArthur and Doug gave him some glowing reports.
    The conclusion of these reports contained a comparative ranking statement of where the evaluator thought a person stood among his peers. The one from General Krueger at this time placed Ike at 2 out of 170 other Colonels. :thumb
    I didn't find out who number 1 was.

    And one anecdote from Ike in a letter to his friend General Gerow about the exercise:
    'I wonder if you heard a story that is going the rounds about some of the "Simulated" things that are part of peace-time maneuvers. A corporal brought his squad up to a bridge and marched across it. An umpire yelled at him "Hey, don't you see that that bridge is destroyed?" The corporal answered, "Of course I can see it's destroyed, can't you see I'm swimming?"' :lol3
  3. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    5/3 Day 14 - Part 2

    Other pictures from the center:
    Chapel where he and Mamie are buried:


    Where he grew up:


    The museum:

    Well maintained grounds:

    Another shot of the Library building:

    THE General:

  4. Ol Man

    Ol Man Long timer Supporter

    Sep 17, 2010
    Apple Valley, Calif
    Very nice story on Ike. I remember the "I Like Ike" buttons as a kid.
    MapMaster likes this.
  5. Ladybug

    Ladybug Bug Sister Supporter

    Nov 6, 2005
    Spokane Valley, WA (the dry side of the mountains)
    I'm sure enjoying this report and the details you are sharing on the side trips. The things you get to see while out riding really makes it special. Please keep up the good work.
    MapMaster likes this.
  6. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Glad you liked it. I don't have any direct memories of the campaign buttons, being born just before he was re-elected. :lol3

    Thank you, I'll certainly try. :-)
    Ladybug likes this.
  7. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    5/4 Day 15, Abilene to Oklahoma campground
    350 miles

    With good weather it was back on the road again.
    I stair stepped my way south and east to Oklahoma with a stop at the at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.
    This was a pleasant visit where I enjoyed the displays in the visitor's center and took in the vast open spaces without having to fight the buffeting from the return of the normal Kansas winds.


    A killdeer scolded me, I must have been too close to it's nest though I failed to see one in the grass.

    This land was a former ranch started in 1878 that went through many changes in ownership before it became the preserve in 1996.
    The home and many of the ranch buildings date from the first 10 years of the original ranch.





    Speaker reached a semi-major milestone during the day:


    After reaching Oklahoma, I went through yet another Kansas before landing for the night.
    I had no set endpoint for the day defined, so when a likely looking campground appeared I swung in to see if they were open for the season yet.
    Yes and no, the shower house wasn't opened yet, but that made for a very cheap campground fee and I settled in next to a good group of 'Bama rednecks (their self description) who were there with jeeps and quads to explore a portion of the TAT (Trans America Trail) that ran through the vicinity.
    I was made welcome at their fire and they generously supplemented my meager beer supply. :drink
    Well it wasn't meager if all I was going to do was entertain myself, but much story telling ensued, which tends to increase my consumption of malt beverages. :lol3
  8. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    5/5 Day 16, OK to AR Trailhead campground
    344 miles

    I provide the links to Google plots for those interested in detailed routing, it's rarely essential to the story, but today is a bit of an exception. :deal
    I had no long absorbing stops today and very little commentary in my notes, just a whole lot of

    A pretty morning:


    I did stop to stretch my legs once or twice:



    Had dinner at the Cliff House Inn, the view is always great and usually lots of humming birds at feeders, but it was still too early in the season for them this time.

    With all the storms that had come through, this was a condition that would become very common. I could cross this one with no problem, but there would be a lot of detours/closed roads over the next two days:

    I was having so much fun that the evening's passage was unnoticed.
    But eventually I realized that the shadows in bottoms of the hollers weren't dropping away at the top of the knobs anymore.

    With lots of deer in the area, I had no desire to spend much time searching for a campground in the deep dusk.
    I doubled back to a trailhead parking area with the idea of just tossing the tent up on the edge of the lot.
    Lucked out when I saw that there were actually several camp sites just off of the trail. Not much in the way of amenities, but I enjoyed a chat with a German couple who were hiking through on the Ozark Highlands Trail and found enough wood lying around to collect for a fire.

    Was woken when a whooping whippoorwill went wild, wailing in the wee hours. :wink:
    Ladybug and jathkajoe like this.
  9. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    5/6 Day 17, AR to Poplar Bluff, MO
    302 miles

    Ho hum, another day of great roads. I had more social interactions today, but took only a few pictures.

    With no coffee available, an early start to commence crucial caffeine consumption was dictated.
    Though this resulted in a difficult ride heading into the morning sun. Seeing more deer than cars for the first hour also contributed to restrained use of the throttle, but eventually I reached Carls in Marshal for breakfast.

    An hour or so later, I came upon a large group of riders when I made my first fuel stop of the day. They were gathering for a group ride. One rider approached me as I was pumping gas and started asking questions. I still had ear plugs in and the helmet on, so I said to hold on and let me finish. I wasn't blowing him off and would have welcomed some bike chat, but he walked off - seemingly pissed. :dunno Must not have had enough coffee yet. :D

    Today's only photo stop:

    As I worked my way east more and more closed roads and detours due to flooding impacted my routing choices. All the rain last week plus even more from the front that I let run ahead of me had really put the hurt on the whole region.

    After a couple days of baby wipe baths it was time for a proper cleanup, so I stopped earlier than normal in Poplar Bluff and settled into a Motel 6 and did some chores - hand washed some laundry, adjusted the chain, checked brake pads - all was good.

    It got even better when I went to the Casa Grande for dinner. I don't regularly do food pron pics but tonight's meal was an exceptional one.
    I had asked about a Mexican soup on the menu that I wasn't familiar with, the waitress said is wasn't available today. Then I asked if they had any mole dishes and had no luck with that request either, but both requests were not typical gringo choices, so she said she'd get me the 'other' menu - the one with the "real" Mexican food. SCORE! This was delicious:

    Picked up some beer on the way back to the motel and swapped sea stories in the parking lot with another ex-Navy chief.
    Another not so bad day. :wink:
  10. jathkajoe

    jathkajoe Been here awhile

    Aug 12, 2009
    E WA
    A tad S of Cliff House Inn is McElroy Gap Road. Turn there, wind your way downhill about a mile dropping about 1000’ elevation and you’ll pass my parents last residence. New owners had a fire a few years ago, only the outbuildings left.

    Good writing, sir. Really enjoying your RR.

    MapMaster likes this.
  11. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    5/7 Day 18, Poplar Bluff to Drakesboro, KY
    347 miles

    Another early start with a good ride to a killer breakfast at Katie's just before Portageville, MO. (get the country ham :dukegirl)

    Eastern Missouri yields nothing to Kansas in regards to any claims about being flat:

    I'm going to have to keep track of Mississippi River crossings, a few more trips out west should allow me to collect the full set. :deal

    Following my history inclinations, I made Fort Donelson part of the day's itinerary.
    Of civil war fame, it along with Fort Henry, were the first significant Union victories in the Civil War and launched Grant to higher commands. Fort Henry has been submerged, but Fort Donelson still sits above the Cumberland.
    Ironclad gunboats, operating under Andrew Foote, in close cooperation with Grant, subdued Fort Henry on the Tennessee River a week earlier, but they could not reduce Fort Donelson, requiring Grant's soldiers to capture it. Chugging upstream against a stiff current and having to face 6.5 and 10 inch shells, was a bit beyond the Navy's capabilities that day.

    There's a bald eagle in there somewhere:

    The Upper Battery, more guns:

    From the fort I headed northwest through The Land Between The Lakes recreation area.
    It is so well forested that lake views aren't very common, but it was a pretty, cruising kind of ride.
    At the northern end:

    Camped at Gregory Lake RV/ATV park outside of Drakesboro.
    Meh, they had had a major gathering of quads and such over the weekend and everything was muddy and chewed up by quads. Oh well, the evening view looking over a small lake was nice.
    Ladybug likes this.
  12. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    5/8 Day 19, Drakesboro to Home
    629 miles
    No plot today, a lot of KY-70 across the state, mostly slab through WV.

    Unless prominently signed, I rarely pay any attention to what county I'm in. This morning's breakfast stop was within a couple miles of the campground and I decided to fuel up early today:

    Like many a country diner, there was an 'old codger' table that was well attended this morning. Stripping out of the riding suit got me some of the usual looks and a couple good-natured comments. I replied that they must not have finished solving all of the world's problems because they hadn't finished their coffee yet. :D
    Looking over the decor in the cafe I realized I was in the Muhlenberg County John Prine sang about. What I didn't realize at the time is that the given title of that song is "Paradise" (though even Mr. Prine often called the song "Muhlenberg County"). The cafe name was based on proximity, the actual remains of Paradise were a few miles away.

    In honor of his recent passing:

    I finally made it to Mammoth Cave, but another weather front was coming up behind me with overnight night rains expected. Not wanting to deal with a wet camp and now catching a bout of 'get-home-itis' I settled for checking out the visitor's center and gathered more info on the different guided hikes that they provided. Cave clomping would have be part of a future trip.

    That left me with a long day's ride into the night to finish this journey. I was into central West Virginia as dusk came on.
    I've finished many a trip with a dark deer country ride. My usual preference is to run about 45 on the secondary roads and let any traffic behind me go on by. But I was further away than usual and opted to stick to the interstate and run in the 55-60 range (70 mph limit). I was passed by everybody except a wheezing camper rig of some sort, but had no issues from the traffic and bumped no bambies.

    Total trip mileage was 5,511.
    Outbound was 2,888 (that was within 12 miles of doubling the direct driving distance :thumb)
    The return was a bit shorter at 2580 (the math appears off because I didn't include the day at the AF Academy :deal)

    So 'all good(?) things must come to an end,' even tortuously typed Triumph trip tales told to toddlers, trolls, trollops, tyros and trike-riders. :evil
    Hope y'all have enjoyed the ride.
    xcsks, bjor1978 and mttandem like this.
  13. JurJar

    JurJar n00b

    Dec 20, 2020
    Well, that sounds really cool. I hope you had a great time. By the way, I also thought of going there for a vacation with my wife. Maybe I'll think again. In any case, there is still time to think about it. My wife and I had our wedding in Gatlinburg. It was our best decision. The company elopetogatlinburg.com arranged an amazing and unusual ceremony for us, which was remembered by all our guests, and there were very few guests. That's the whole point of running away. So if you don't like big ceremonies and big crowds, this is perfect.
    MapMaster likes this.
  14. MapMaster

    MapMaster Human Compass

    Sep 28, 2008
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I certainly did.