Cross Country on a K12GT
I posted this ride report on another forum. My apologies for the repetition.
On April 15, I decided to leave town on a little putt. Seemed like a good day to leave even though a nor'easter was blowing. After thirty years of traveling on commercial airlines for business, I thought that using this fine motorcycle was going to be infinitely more fun. When I left my hometown, High Point, NC the weather was cloudy and 64 degrees. By the time I got to Asheville, NC, it was 38 degrees and looked like it could rain any second. I went through the Natahala Gorge and all the way through the Ocoee River section of US 64 and the precip finally got me but only for about 30 miles. I rode through Chattanooga via the interstate and made my way over to US 72, my goal for the day being Florence, AL. The weather broke in Athens, AL . . . 58 degrees, sunny with a stiff breeze. As I refueled there, I thought I saw a dollar bill blow by me. I noticed, stuck to my Aerostitch pants by the wind, a $100 bill. I got it plus two more laying wadded on the pavement. I went inside the convenience store and asked if anyone reported lost funds and the clerk said "No." I left her my cell number and told anyone who inquired about missing money to call. Great start, huh? I checked into the hotel in Florence around 4:30 Central Time.
The next day, Monday, my goal was to make Bossier City, LA, taking the Natchez Trace much of the way. On the way over to the Trace, I passed a little tin building that had been there awhile. The rusty little structure had a hand painted sign over the front door that said, "The Little Ryman" and, less than a mile down the road, I saw the sign for the National Coon Dog Memorial Cemetery. I just love Alabama. Riding the nearly deserted Trace was great but by Jackson, MS, I knew I had to take "the big road" if I was going to make Bossier City during daylight.
On Tuesday, I took mainly US and TX routes down to Houston where I had to go to work in three Texas cities in as many days. By Thursday evening, I finished my business schedule and went by The Old Bike Shop in Dallas. A friend and several of his buddies have opened the shop/museum on Empire Central, about a mile east of I-35. They have quite a collection of old bikes and it's definitely worth a stop if you're in the area.
Friday morning, I left "Big D" at 4:30 AM and had breakfast in Abilene just as the sun was coming up. My goal for the day was to make Big Bend National Park, about 600 miles away. My plan was working but, as I went through the Midland/Odessa area, I saw the sign for the Commerative Air Force, formerly the Confederate Air Force. I'm a bit of a history buff (having lived so much of it) so I stopped and took the self guided tour, staying about two hours. Leaving the museum, I had to ride I-20 a few miles before gladly getting on to TX 18 and US 385 heading for the park. I refueled in Marathon and though about staying there but, heck, it was just 3:30 and I want to spend a little time in Big Bend. I made it through the park on a prefactory pass, vowing to return the next day. After a few lodging inquires, I found the local hotels full. One person told me about the Resort at Lajitas so I rode there to inquire about a room . . . any room. The place is beautiful but the rooms are pretty steep . . . $325. Remember the found funds in Alabama? You got it. Since it was about 95 degrees and I'd ridden 618 miles, this looked like "room sweet room" to me. By the way, the restaurant there is nothing short of superb.
On Saturday, I spent most of the day in the park. I find that place to be absolutely beautiful, although desolate. My only wish is that I had gotten into the park before dawn when the light is best for photography. I really hated to leave but TX 170 was waiting. This road goes from Lajitas to Presidio and it's made for motorcycles. A word to the wise on the river road: there are lots of "dips" that can hid a car or another bike . . . be careful. After refueling in Presidio, I took US 67 up to Marfa where I stayed at the Hotel Paisano. This hotel has old Texas charm with a good restaurant and bar. It was nice, at the end of the day, to relax at the bar and explore my Irish heritage without worrying about a police escort .
On Sunday, I left Marfa for a nice little breakfast spot in Fort Davis. The Old Texas Inn, across for the Hotel Limpia, has great "down home" food and they treat everybody like they've known them for years. Thoroughly full, I did a quick tour of old Fort Davis and rode on the the Mt.. McDonald Observatory on TX 118. Finally, I had to drop down out of the hills and pick up US 90 to Van Horn. From there it was an interstate blast to El Paso. Monday was another interstate blast until I got off the "slab" at Lordsburg, NM where I picked up US 70. It was long straights dotted with small towns but, just past Globe, the road, US 60 became fun but I had to slow it down as I approached Queen Valley because of a heavy police presence. What the heck, I'm almost 60 anyway . . .
Tuesday morning's business was over by 11:00 AM and I rode to Scottsdale BMW for a 6000 mile service. The guys there were great an I was on my way in under two hours. By the time I cleared Phoenix, it was 2:30 PM and I headed for San Diego . . . another interstate blast. I arrived at the hotel at dusk and enjoyed the hotel's restaurant and bar. On Wednesday and Thursday, I had business in the Los Angeles area so there wasn't much riding. I left L.A. around 11:30 AM on Thursday and did another interstate ride in order to get to San Jose for a business breakfast meeting. At Coalinga, I'd had enough of I-5 and strong winds so I looked at CA 198 and 25 on my GPS. I decided to take those roads and, wow, I'm glad I did. I'd say there's a motorcycle rider in California's highway engineering department. Both roads are superb; banked curves, scenic, lightly traveled and challenging. Ride them if you can!
I finished business in San Jose and Sacramento by Saturday and headed east around 11:00 AM on I-80. At Fernley, NV, I took US 50 across the state, arriving in Ely, NV around 7:00. I met some Harley guys from the S.F Bay area and enjoyed their company that evening. They were two days into a 10 day ride. I told them about Arches NP and they said they might just head that way. We had breakfast together the next day and, after wishing each other well, I departed. The ride across the remainder of NV was nice and everything changed when I entered Utah. The road got a little rougher and I was now riding in total desert with dry salt lakes everywhere. After that section, I had a little interstate riding to do and, everyone will think I'm crazy, but the ride was nice . . . very scenic. Anyway, I made it to Moab around 3:30 and rode into Arches National Park to scout for photo locations. When I got back to the hotel, there were 5 Harleys parked in the lot that looked exactly like the bikes I'd left that morning. Then I heard a voice yelling, "We had to watch for you because we can't hear that piece of crap (I cleaned that up). You want a beer?" Well, heck, it was social hour! I had a great evening with those characters! They departed the next day but I got to stay around and work on my photography.
On Tuesday, I had to say goodbye to Moab and head to Denver for more business. I took UT 128 out of Moab and this is a superb road. The only problem is you get to I-70 all too soon! The rest of the day was an interstate cruise and I had two days worth of work ahead. Hey, everybody has to pay the piper sometime.
I left Denver on Friday afternoon, May 4, with my destination being Hays, KS. As I rolled past Pena Blvd. on I-70, I saw DOT signs flashing "High Wind" warnings. They weren't kidding. The winds were sustained at 30 with gusts to 55! Folks, the K12 is sleek but it doesn't matter when your traveling east and the wind is from the south. I'll just say that I was challenged. (Remember, I'm Irish!) Well, I made it to Hays around 7:00 PM. The next morning, I heard the news about Greensburg, KS getting leveled by a tornado. I looked at my mapping program and discovered Greensburg was 87 miles south of Hays. We didn't get a drop of rain!
I rolled out Friday morning and took all day to get to Kansas City were I had a Saturday morning meeting. I always stop in Junction City to salute my former unit in Vietnam, the First Infantry Division. That done, I proceed on to KC and did my duty. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday getting home from a great 8,806 mile trip. When I got back to my office, I found out I have to do a similar trip in August with the Pacific Northwest thrown in. Darn.
Attached are a few pictures I took along the way.