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OK, I am home and have finished the trip blog....well mostly.


This will be my fifth ride to the west coast.  201020122014 2016   I figured since I will be turning 70 I had better get another good one in while I can.  There is no real rush to get there, so I have allotted 25 days for the west ride.

There is nothing cast in stone for routes or stops.  The exceptions will be Big Bend National Park in southern Texas, The Space Port in New Mexico and Pie, New Mexico.  The rest will be as the wind blows. I will accept ideas and places to visit if you have something unusual. The Grand Canyon and such will not fall under the category of "unusual".  I am talking about things like the three headed goat or dish towels garden.  Those things.

This trip has been planned for many months and some of the dates hard dates and could not be moved. I tried hard to adjust the schedule to attend my friend Bill's celebration of life. In the end, doing so would in my opinion but me in a unsafe ride condition. It is just a few days but the delay that would have made me ride more miles each day at the beginning than I thought would be safe. So, with Barbara's permission I will miss the celebration and leave on Thursday the 19th.

My Friend Bill

I am missing you and I am missing your big event because I must travel.  I can still hear you asking, as you rock back and forth on my front porch, “but, Ken, why are you traveling all the time”. Something I heard almost, but not quite as much as “it is what it is” and one that I could never answer to your satisfaction. You are probably the first person to have befriended me in the neighborhood and it was always a joy to see you turning up the sidewalk headed for the rocking chairs.  However, that was only exceeded in joy when Newton would lead you up the sidewalk. The picture of you in my mind will always be you stopped at the end of the sidewalk and Newton looking to the front door with the wonderful look of longing. I always loved to imagine that is was because he was my close friend, just as you were, even though I knew it was about the snack I was about to give him. Even when age began to rob you of your memories and you could not remember the two finger signal, I loved seeing you turn up the drive.

Even when you mind turned to the circle of threes, I loved seeing you sitting on the coach and ribbing me about my weight.  Our lunches of Coney Island dogs are some of the best I ever had, though the main conversation was often “now where are you from”, I loved sharing them with you. Of course, since you thought anyone who lived north of 15th Ave was a Yankee, I know why you used to ask “Now, when did you come here”. I know that last days where are great strain on your beloved Barbara when the mind kept repeating itself, but I began see that as you.

The hard part of missing your event is not being able to share with all your family and friends our last visit together. You were laying in the hospital bed and still showing that great smile.  Most of what you tried to say I did not understand, but when I said goodbye, and you reached your hand up to grasp mine and in a very clear voice said “You are my best friend, thank you” I understood totally.  Because Bill, you are my best friend too, and as my best friend I will miss you. Thankfully, I have the great picture in my mind of you and Newton at the end of the sidewalk to cherish forever and I can look at it no matter where I travel.

And Bill, you were wrong when you said, “only the good die young”. A great one died at 90

Your Best Friend, and You Mine

Pre-depature day, May 18

Pre-departure days I usually do not schedule anything. This allows me concentrate on going over the scooter one last time, check all my gear and sort clothes, review the first couple of days route and addressing anything that pops. The problem on this trip was the pre-departure day was to be Friday and I scheduled everything on Wednesday. So now Wednesday is the pre-departure day and it is full of appointments. The last thing the wife's “before you can leave” checklist was a gate for the backyard. First message of the day was from Jeff Degroot, the fence guy, saying he was on the way over to install the gate. Whew, that was the big one and just in time.

Then I went to tell Henry and Devina that I was going away for awhile and for them to keep up their yoga while I was gone.

The rest of the morning was filled with other errands and talking over gate details with Jeff. Every couple of weeks a group of us get together for lunch, so I called a meeting for today and called it “Ken's going away party, bring gifts.” I think they relabeled it to “Ken just go away”. We all met at the Hollander at one and some of them actually brought me great gifts.

Photos are below. That lasted for several hours. Back at the house Vicki was off volunteering and I had to prepare things for people coming for dinner at 6. Around all of this I did what I could of my normal predeparture procedures, but I was rushing things and that is never a good thing. People showed up for dinner and we had a great evening. The main dish was shepherds pie, our friend Bills favorite. They left around 9:30 and, being almost 70, I was beat. I had been running since 5:30 this morning. So, I told Vicki there were things I was going to have to leave undone and, the Princess that she is, said not to worry she would take care of everything. I trudged up stairs and was out when my head hit the pillow.

this came with a package of  large wet wipes

April 19, Day 1
St. Pete to Port St. Joe

This is the same road I have written about and you have read for years now. Cross Tampa Bay, turn left, ride 200 miles to Perry, turn left until you stop. Straight long black pavement with little traffic.
I met Bill at the McDonald's parking lot in Perry and we headed west. The only change from the norm, instead of stopping at Lynn's, we stopped at Pounce's in Panacea for lunch and we bypassed Apalachicola and continued on to Port St. Joe. We chose the Port Inn, built in the '30's and restored around the turn of century. 

We checked in and then stepped into The Thirsty Goat for a refreshment. Thank you Bill for buying. Lubed up, we  headed out for dinner. We were headed for the Provision, a slightly upscale restaurant for St. Joe, but got diverted when we realized we had not had the request oysters, in diverted to the oyster house.

Dinner finished we headed out on a walk. Bill has had a bum knee for  months now and I think this walk convinced him to go see a doctor when he gets home.

Ready to ride into the dawns early light

 On long trips I always pay  to my respects to Elvis

 Steve did a great job of quenching our thrist

 The goats were dressed for a wedding

Day 2, April 20
Port St Joe to Lucedale, MS

Bill and I are both early risers. So, we went for a walk around town as breakfast was not served in the hotel until 7:30. We ducked into a large sporting goods store that opened at 7 to look  for a second bag for my ride. Everything fits in the one bag, but I wanted a smaller bag as I know that things tend to grow inside of my bags. We found nothing that I liked and we continued to walk. At the end of the walk Bill was really ready to go see the doctor about his knee.

After the usual cheap hotel breakfast we saddled up and Bill headed east and I headed westerly. My thoughts had been to head along the coast and catch the ferry from Florida to Alabama, but the more I thought about it I really did not want to ride through all those traffic lights. So, I headed northwest to Defunick Springs north I-10 and turned west. Nothing exciting along this route. Mostly pine forest and some small towns. Things started slowing down in north Pensacola and came to a stop when I ran into a law officers funeral. There were lots and lots of cars and we were stopped waiting for them. So many, that I turned left and went south a mile or two and hopped on I-10. I stayed on it for 15 miles and got off just east of Mobile Bay and crossed over on the old bridge.

When I come this way I have always looked over at the USS Alabama and said "I should visit that some day". And, so I did. Most of the visitors today were senior citizens on bus tours. They are the only interested ones as the number of visitors falls every year in direct correlation to their deaths.
I met a volunteer that was a volunteer here as a youth in 1969 and has returned to help. He says the number of volunteers has fallen way off from when he started in the 60's. A quick tour as I have seen battleships before and I was back on the road. I had originally planned to overnight in Mobile but decided to push on.

I pulled into Lucedale, MS around 4 o'clock. This is a poor Mississippi town and the Holiday Inn Express is the only hotel that does not rent by the hour. I had not eaten since breakfast and went in search of a meal. Every restaurant had fried in it's name, Churchs Fried Chicken, Kentucky Fried Chicken or Super Big Burgers. 

This lead me to break my over 20 year boycott of Walmart. This started many years ago and I have lots of political reasons but one of the main ones is that Walmart put people out of work and lead to the end of small town business's. But, now since I am a Amazon Prime member, I am doing the same thing. So I dove into the Super Walmart in search of some healthy food. It was not easy, but I walked out with two pieces of rostecciria chicken and a salad. Oh yea, and I picked up a small back pack while I was there. I really wanted to take a picture of the cashier. I estimate her age to be in the 80's by her looks. Despite that she was very efficient at her job.


sharing breakfast with the chickens. They were smart enough not to run in the road when we started chasing them for pictures.

this is you Joe Young and Joe Young.

 Carpenter Bee traps. They enter in the little hole that is pointed upward so no light gets in and so they fly to the light in the bottles and die.

May 21 Day 3 
Lucedale MS to Kiner LA

First, in defense of my editing. This is how it was written....
....scroll back up and see how it was printed. It ain't all my fault.

My wife always hides little treats for me in my bag when I go on a trip. Usually it is Mi-Cho-Ko chocolates only available in France. She secretly buys them when we are there and brings them home and hides them.

I like Mississippi. But, it never makes the grade in any of the quality of life areas. This reflected in many ways. From the Holiday Inn Express's kitchen that serves on prepacked meal at day but gets a "B" in sanitation to their old under maintained bridges.

 these are different bridges

At the Loves truck stop next to I-59 I stopped for a break along with all the Harley's and BMW's.
Joe and his buddy had ridden from Houston to the mountains in NC and were headed back to Houston.  All in a week. Boy that sounds like fun.

The road started open to some clear land and not just a wall of pine trees. Garmin still gets confused and wants me to take some great short cuts.

Right before I crossed into Louisiana at Bogalusa I came across this. Had to make a U-turn to check it out.

In Louisiana, I joined LA10 for most of the day. It was nice ride. Outside of Jackson MS I came across a Civil War reenactment. It seemed authentic down to the rotten teeth, but I don't think the port-a-potty was. The town was named after Andrew Jackson who spent the night there right before this battle happened and I think he lost.

When I make these trips, I usually research where I am going to stay on weekends to see if there is any big events. I did that for Eunice and surrounding towns and found nothing.  I missed the baseball playoffs with 44 high school teams in town. Hotels were full for miles around. The very nice lady, Misty, at the Days Inn in Eunice called to Kinder and found me a room in the Days Inn next to the big casino. Not a location I would normally pick, but wanders can not be choosers at the end of the day.

I had a nice dinner of grilled chicken, boudin and cracklin. Must eats when traveling across Louisiana

May 22 Day 4
Kinder, LA to Benham, TX

A major front moved through last night and it was still raining at dawn this morning.

By 8:30 it had stopped and I began to slowly load Fred waiting to be sure it was over. As I was, a family walked out of the Days Inn and the father says “we have enough money in the bank that we don't have to stay in place like this again.” I agreed with him. Here is photo opinion.....

By 9 I was saddled up and headed out. The gray weather made everything gray and I trudged along as the temperature dropped. Somewhere around noon, in some little town that looked like all the rest in the gray, I stopped for lunch. This was the best part of the day. I ordered gumbo and got a bowl big enough to feed a village and it was excellent and hot, both temperature and spice. I may have eaten a third of it and sure wished I could carry a doggy bag.

gas can be a problem in rural areas

20 cents to use plastic pay

Around 2 the sun came out and I was playing with the idea of going all the way to Austin, but that was going to be a long day. And I said “why”? I had found a really neat ranch place outside of Benham Tx, but I could not find it on the phone. I searched a lot but finally called it quits and booked a local hotel. Being Texas, I felt as though I should have a steak. So, I wandered downtown Benham, a nice and vibrant town, to the BT Steakhouse. It was good and expensive and made me once again realize there is not a better steakhouse than at my house.

May 24, Day 5
Behnam to Austin

What a beautiful day! Clear skies and cool temperatures. I went for a long walk as there was no hurry this morning. I only have about two hours of riding today. Benhnam is a nice little town with a active old downtown. A fun place to stop.

About mid-morning we saddled up and headed to Austin. I have been to the outskirts of Austin before but never right down to the heart of the city but that was where I was headed to day. I had to visit my old friend Stevie Ray Vaughn. The ride to city limits was great. Four lanes, light traffic and that beautiful sky was still there. Then I rode into the jaws of hell. Major road construction, in, around, and over Austin. Maybe it was well signed, but on a little scooter in fast moving traffic, it did not seem so.
Speed limits in Texas are high. Any old road will have a speed limit of 75 mph, and that may be good for west Texas, were there ain't shit around, but in my opinion, it is way to high for downtown. Traffic was heavy, turn arrows on the roads were last painted when people were living in the Alamo. I threaded my way thru all of this to get to the river front park, where I was to meet Stevie, to find all the taken. They were tearing down from the Marley Festival and setting up for the Food and Wine Festival. I talked to the man guarding the parking lot for the people setting up and tearing down and try to get him to let me park my little scooter somewhere for just a minute. He was nice but the answer was no, but he gave me directions to where I might park. So off I went with no luck. However that parking lot, also so shut for festival activities was guarded by Keisha. She took sympathy on a old man but told me not to be gone to long. I hustled along the waterfront till I ran into Stevie. Some nice people from Seattle who were in town for the Moto GP and took a picture of Stevie and me. We visited awhile but I had to hustle back before they towed Fred away.

my parking lot queen

That was enough of downtown for me. The may have a nice waterfront park but what I saw was trashed and trampled from the weekend Marley event so I can say. Across the river maybe nice but the part I rode did not impress me, so Fred and I headed for the hotel. More fear. The interstate was stop and go at 2 pm. When it would start moving, drivers would try to reach that 75 mph again, only to slow down again. One of those drivers in a mustang came up behind me and came to a screeching halt, tires smoking behind me. I got get outta here! I reached the hotel alive, but barely. The only restaurants were on the other side of fourteen lanes of traffic. Fortunately, there was a side walk and stoplights and a underpass that got me there with out incident.

May 25 Day 6

I had an appointment at AF1 Racing the Vespa dealer to replace the rear tire and work on a front tire wobble. They were very nice, replaced the tire and worked on the wobble, thought they fixed but they didn't and I was on my way.

 From there I went to Georgetown a small town north of Austin. I waked around, had lunch and got a haircut. The City Barber Shop has been in business since 1967 with the orginal owner still cutting hair. It was pretty busy with four barbers working. Nice old home town feel.

waiting for 1:30

my barber was from Ft. Pierce  FL but had moved here for his grandchildren

excellent lunch accept for the screaming child two tables away that the parents and grandparents ignored

I did not know if he was real or a statue as he was standing absolutely still. When I approached he greeted me and informed me that this was confederate month and some one stood out here for hours each day in memory of people they never knew

From there I went to Sun City to spend the night with my old friends Laura and John. We meet when John and I flew helicopters on t he Amazon for the same company. They had just moved into this new home that they had built. We spent the evening talking about old times, new times, our health, other peoples health, and about how old people talk about health and doctors a lot. Thankfully we are all in pretty good shape.

John and Luara had greatly downsized their home and were still giving stuff away. I was recruited to be the moving man.

May 26, Day 7
Austin to Del Rio

I had a choice of two routes this morning. Go west to Stockton, ride through rain, and watch the temperature dip during the day to 40's by two in the afternoon. Or, go south to Del Rio, ride through the rain, and watch the temperatures drop into the 50's. I chose the 50's. A beautiful ride until it wasn't. It rained sideways, some light hail, some heavy lightening and the wind blew...hard There really was not much to do but press on at a greatly reduced speed as there wasn't even a good tree to hide under. I was on US385 all the way into Del Rio. When I fueled Rocksprings I left town on the same road in the same direction I came in on. Fortunately, about 1 mile out of town, my internal navigation system, the gps having been washed out long ago, kicked in and said “warning”. So I turned around and went back into town. When I had come into town it was raining and I was concentrating find the gas station and missed the sign that said to make a turn at the gas station to stay on 385. Back headed in the right direction the rest of the ride was dry but windy and cold. After checking into the hotel I turned on the heat because I was cold and headed out for a walk and some BBQ.

it started as a beautiful day

things are slow and the ranch so the cows lay by the road and watch tourist for fun

finding a parking place was not a challenge
Friederichsburg TX  is advertised as "little bit of Germany right here in Texas". It ain't. These ladies were on a bus tour from
South Carolina. They kindly let e cut in line at the bratwurst stand. They have a three day drive to get home on the bus. 

the lens was still wet when I checked in

Day 7, April 26
Del Rio to the Big Bend National Park.

I tried to have breakfast at the hotel but the TV was on Fox News and I had to listen to the idiot brag about himself and continue to whine about Hillary. Grow up. Everyone there seemed to be ignoring the whole thing. Most of the people in the hotel were there inspecting their plants across the border in Mexico. I meet a group from Bendix celebrating 30 years of manufacturing across the border at their three plants. Interestingly, they say one of their problems now is other plants stealing their workers by paying hiring bonus's.

A slow departure today as I had to do my yoga and get my head realigned after listening to the talking heads. I was on the road around ten. My GPS usually recovers from a bath but this morning it had not. A GPS is not required in this part of the world as you just ride straight for a couple of hundred miles and then turn, but I have come to depend on it for other things. So, back to Walmart I went. With a new security blanket tucked in the bag, I headed west again. It was a great day to ride. Clear skies and cool temperatures.

I turned the old GPS up to the sun and by noon all the water had baked out and it was happily showing the way again.

every road leading away from the boarder has one or several of these inland border check points along the way

I stopped in Langtry, named after Lilly Langtry by judge Roy Bean. There is a nice little museum and a very friendly lady running it. Across the street, Neil the post master, serves 30 customers. Only 15 live in town. Some live as far as 30 miles away. I mailed some postcards and headed out.

I had picked up a spare gas can in Del Rio as there are some long runs now. Probably won't need it but there is always a chance. Today was one of them. Langtry has a gas station sort of. Some times it is open, some times not. Some times it has gas, some times not. Today I was lucky on both accounts.

In Sanderson the road was closed. Come to find out it is the Big Bend Road Race. They close various roads around the Big Bend and race cars over four days competition . I am told there used to be 100 cars participating but not anymore and no one was able to tell me how many cars were in this year.

My first Gucci coffee of the trip in Marathon. This is a nice small hamlet with a very upscale hotel that pretty much owns everything in town.

From here I headed south to the Big Bend National Park. There was no lodging available in the park so I had made reservations at a hotel run by the same company that runs the one in the park. I could not be choosy as one night is a Friday night and everything is booked for the weekend, so I took the room.

Day 8, April 27
Big Bend National Park
I rode over 200 miles today in the park. It was overcast and the temperature was in the 70's. High on Wednesday will be 97.

The blooming cactus is what everyone comes to see.

every one comes here looking for birds, especially colina wobbler. No one seemed to care about this very rare sighting

In the park there is a border crossing. You get to go across to a very small poor Mexican town and the only way there is by boat.

Day 9, April 28
Big Bend to Ft. Davis, Tx.

I left Big Bend and headed west on TX170. This is the best scenery so far and no traffic. It follows the Rio Grand and the Mexican border to Presido. A great place to build a wall. I made several stops at the picnic and primitive camping sites along the road. There I met Janet and Jim. She had been camping in the park for eleven days and loved it. She had camped along the way but had driven up here to have her morning coffee. I took the picture with Fred but in retrospect I should have taken the picture with here car and the gas burner on the picnic table warming the water for her tea.  She is a traveler and had just came back from six month in Asia with the time split between Sri Lanka were she goes often, India and Laos.  She loved Laos.  We chatted for awhile and let her enjoy her tea and I hit the road.

In Presido I turned north on US67 and the terrain turned to more of a rolling plain.

Another check point.
Marfa is the town that has gotten all the TV coverage out here.  It started with the Parda desplay outside of town and now they talk about how it is such a artsy town. They have a great PR person. It was a neat and clean town. There were a few galleries scattered around town "open by appointment".
I was later to learn from the paper that there was a big event going on right there in town where I was. I saw about a dozen touristy looking people wandering the streets but that was about it.

This is the rental trailer park I have seen in many a magazine and on TV.  They did some creative shooting to make it look a lot more attractive that it is.

A great city hall.

Dedicating this mural was part of the big event and I was there just minutes after the dedication but nobody hung around.

By far the most interesting thing in Marfa was Christy. I did not steal this picture she posed and we talked for awhile

Fort Davis had been recommended to me as a much better place to stay than Marfa and from I whole heartily agree. I had reserved the last avalible room again and did I luck out. The Stone Village Tourist Camp is just what I need. A old motel nicely redone and the room I reserved is a large one bedroom apartment.  I immediately signed up for another night.

Bags unloaded I headed up the mountain to the MacDonald Observatory for two and a half hour tour. Learned a lot and it was well worth the time and money.

Fort Davis is a very small town with maybe four restaurants. I headed for the Bistro the upscale place in town. I had not had fancy meal this whole trip. Good meals but not a meal that I felt like I was treating myself. This was the place and I was not disappointed.

When I get time I will put these pictures were they belong. Until then enjoy.

Day 10, April 29
Fort Davis, TX

I did nothing.

Day 11, April 30
Ft. Davis to Alamogordo, NM

After a day of not even setting on Fred, I was ready to go. I was packed and hit the starter at 6:50 when the lady, who was staying two doors with her husband, came out to say goodbye. We had spoken a little the day I arrived and where both setting outside. I was kind of surprised she came out, but she said she wanted to wish me a safe trip and wish we could have visited more. I did not ask to take a picture as she was in pj's and a robe and did not think it appropriate.

I really had not done “nothing” yesterday. I had walked most of the streets in town, there are not many and none were paved, and visited the Fort Davis National Park just down the street. It is the site of the original fort and is the best preserved in the southwest. It had a very interesting history. Built before the Civil War, it was occupied by the Federals, then the Confederates and then the Federals again. The post was manned by black soldiers or “buffalo soldiers” as they were called, including the first black graduate of West Point. Of course, the main purpose of the fort was to kill Indians if they tried to keep their own land.

A major storm came in around one yesterday, never predicted of course, and brought storm warnings and flood warnings. The rain beating down on the tin roof was deafening and I loved it! The rumbling of thunder in the desert is amazing to me and I love that too.

I don't know if it was the rain or it just happens on Sunday afternoon, but the streets were deserted by five. Most things close by 7:30, so when the rain stopped I headed for the old drug store to get a hamburger but when I reached into my pocket for my wallet the pocket was empty. So, back the The Stone Village to get it. Now everything was closed but the Bistro that I eat at last night and had a great and expensive dinner, but I know they had a burger on the menu. Arriving at eight the main dinning room was closing but I did not care as I was headed for the bar. Dinner was a hamburger, $12, and a martini (my special blend) $13.

One of the reasons I wanted to leave early was to get some pictures of the early sun over the Davis Mountains. Didn't happen as the sun was cover by clouds, but the ride to Pecos was beautiful.

After Pecos, not so much. This was the center of west Texas crude. The town was dirty and the road headed north, US285, was very busy with lots of tractor trailers and pickup trucks. The road surface was OK but not great and the scenery was all pump jacks, oil collection tanks, and drilling rigs.

I came to two major road blockages. The first was backed up for over a mile. There was no on coming traffic, so I got in the left lane and went to the front of the line to find a construction stop light for a bridge that at some future date would be repaired. You could see the other end with the light was and there was one truck waiting. The light turned green and away I went. One human setting there controlling the light would have made things a lot better using common since to facilitate the flow of the traffic.

The next backup was even longer, at least two miles if not more. Again I made my way to the front seeing people setting in chairs next to their vehicles and some starting to cook. I think they had been there awhile. At the front I found the reason for the stoppage was a head on between a tractor trailer and a pickup. There two police cars on the side of the road but the officers were nowhere in sight. I believe they were attending to the people in the vehicles. No one from the line of traffic was helping and the ambulances had either come and gone or not arrived. I decided there was nothing to be gained by me seating there all day, so since the opposite lane was clear, I drove on giving the wreck a wide berth and passed another couple of miles of backed up traffic.

Shortly after that I crossed in New Mexico and everything got sane again. The road surface greatly improved, the speed limit dropped from 70 to a sensible 55 and the fines for speeding were doubled along this stretch, just to remind you you where not in Texas any more. And they had police cars there to prove it.

In Carlsbad I picked up a whole roasted chicken, cheaper than parts, for lunch. I rode on north to Artesia where I turned west again. On my very first cross country on Scoot in 2010, I had spent several days in this town, because I liked it, I was tired, and the wind was blowing to hard to ride. It now seemed a lot bigger and active than I recalled. I found a picnic table in a little park for lunch. There I encountered two problems; the wind was still blowing making it hard to keep things on the table and the damn chicken, despite being labeled “original”, it was lemon pepper. I hate lemon pepper or any flavored strangely chicken for that matter.

After lunch I headed west across the high plans. There was almost no traffic as Fred and I climbed form 3500 feet to over 8,000 feet. In the mountains I came up on a roadside stand that I had stopped at last time through here. It was a good experience then, not so much today. I was afriad when Tom came out with his Trump hat. Honest, I did not start it. He did. He started asking me which way I had come and said that the oil boom was due to Trump and the tax cut, yadda, yadda, yadda. I did not confront but just asked questions. Questions are not what people who are radical want hear. They want you to say that you agree with them. I did not agree but I did not disagree. Not showing totally support pissed him off and he asked me to leave. I did.

At Coudcraft I feel off the mountain. You descend from over 8,000 back to 4,000 in probably a direct distance of about 5 miles. On the way down I meet Roy. He was the former PR man for several motorcycle companies including Indian and Aprilla. He was from Austin and had just did a event for AF1 the company that changed my back tire. He headed down the dirt road for twenty miles to overnight with a old friend and I continued down the mountain to overnight in Alamogordo.
I arrived early so I went to their space museum. I bought tickets for the dome theater and the museum.The movies was The Black Hole. This is the second time in a week that a scientist has tried to explain the black hole and I will be honest, I don't get it. By  the end of the movie I was not up to walking the museum and back home.

Roy on his Indian headed down 20 miles of dirt to his friends house.

Their claim to fame

Day 12, April 1
Alamogordo to Truth or Consequences NM

The day did not start well. I left the hotel to go get gas and realized that I had left my favorite, and only Buff on this trip, on top of my bags and it had blown off. I quickly returned to the hotel but it was gone. I was to learn later that I had also left my glove liners in the hotel.

So off I went westbound on US70. The Battan Highway. First stop was the White Sands National Monument. I walked some of the dunes and rode around. It is like the beach dunes on the Outer Banks.

Back on the highway the next stop was the Army 's missile test sight. The guards were kind enough to let me on the base without my Army ID and just used my drivers license and VA card to do the NCIC background check. Otherwise I would have had to back around to the welcome center and do all the processing. It is a small and worn museum here. I did learn something new and they tell me that is very important. Learn something new every day they say. I did not know that native Americans, you know the ones we kept trying to wipe out because they did not look like us and had what we wanted (sounds familiar doesn't it) , lived in underground houses. It was interesting to see that they had used in the past dogs to track missing missile parts.

From there I rode on to Las Cruz's. The only reason to stop here was because they advertised a “Train Museum”. In fact it was just a train depot and the only thing interesting was that they had a men's and women's waiting rooms. The person on duty could not tell in what time period this had been and I could find no documentation in the “museum”. The added bonus for wandering around in Las Cruz's, not that I wanted to wander, but the streets were all blocked off for construction, was I came upon the Virgin Galatica parked in front of the city hall.

From here I headed north along the Rio Grand river. This is a small narrow band of farming in the desert. There were onions, alfalfa, pecans, but the main crop seems to peppers. There were pepper processing operations all along the road. I stoped in Hatch, the chilly capital, for lunch. Nice people, nice place.

If you are looking for work.

They use flood irrigation here. I am not sure that is the best use of water in the desert

Another postcard for Barbara

I rolled on northward headed for one of the biggy's on this trip SpacePort America. It is located close to Truth or Consequences NM. For those of you who do not know, Truth or Consequences used to be Hot Springs. But, in 1950, the TV show Truth or Consequences selected Hot Springs as their choice to be named after the show. This brought fame and money from the show. I did not realize it was in 1950 that this happened. That was a lot earlier than I realized. It was a hotly debated issue in the town and some people split off from the town and started Williamsburg next door. So, I found the SpacePort Amerca office/Turth or Consequences tourist office. Most of the facility was full of SpacePort info, none very exciting. I engaged with the tourist lady. “Can you recommend a place to stay?” I expected, “here is a list of the hotels in the area and people have recommended …..”. I got “no not really”. A little more discourse yielded nothing better. OK then. “How far is SpacePort America from here?” “I don't know but you cannot get in”. “I know that, but how far is it from here in miles?” “Well you can't get in.” “But if just wanted to go for a ride in the country and pass by it, how far would that be?” “Well I don't know but you can't get in.” At that point I gave up but all the time thinking “SpacePort America” is the name of this building you think....... Anyway, for any of you that would like to know it is 19 miles. I know because I saddled up on Fred and rode there. I could not get in but, as Rolf, the very nice gate guard, said “there is nothing here anyway but a big empty hanger and a lot of concrete”. However, their vertical launch site has been very active with of 50 launches and tests. There is a big one coming up this year and look forward to what it is. I forgot to ask.

Back in TorC, as the locals call it, I found a hotel on mine own and had a nice night.

Well, not really.

The lady of no answers

Day 13, April 2
Truth or Consequences to Gallup NM

In this part of the world there some times no alternative to the interstate highway. I jumped in I25 and headed north. I could have got on and off to some the roads paralleling the interstate but there was nothing to be gained as the few was the same and no one was on the interstate. I had programmed in County road 107 for a shortcut to Magdelana. Google said go for it, Garmin said not so fast. Fortunately, there was a little store out here in nowhere when exited. Local knowledge is usually better than a map or a computer. The owner of the store “don't do it. It is a dirt road and I don't even drive my truck on it.” I thanked him and got on the interstate again for a few more miles and then exited in Sorroco and headed west.

First stop in Magdelina was for gas. They had none. Fortunately, there was a small garage that had some non-ethanol gas. Headed on down the highway the next was a must stop. The Very Large Array telescope sight. You have seen this sight in many a movie and I was last here in 2000. They have several patterns that they move the antennas on railroad tracks. Today they were all in the A configuration. Unfortunately, this scatters the 26 antennas over 13 miles so it was not as impressive as the D configuration that they were in last time, when they are all bunched together. Again they started with that black hole stuff and my eyes glazed over and I moved on. Next stop was PieTown. This is a small hamlet of maybe 10 occupied houses and three pie/cafes. I chose the mixed berry pie. I should have gone with a straight one not a mixed. In the cafe where several people who were hiking the Continental Divide Trail. From the conversation I realized these were serious hikers as they talked of their adventures on other trails. To be honest, ninety percent of the conversation was from Dixie and Yodda, their trail names, both of the female persuasion. I donated half of my pie to these calorie burners.

Why I carry a gas can

The toaster house is a free hostel for anyone, though mainly for hikers and bikers.
Back on board we headed west to Quemado. The temperature had been falling all along and I encountered a small shower. At Quemado I gassed up and had to make a decision. Head north to Gallup or remain here overnight. The problem was the weather. The weather man had earlier said there would be rain after noon, but then had rescinded, but I knew there were wrong as had already encountered rain. It was two hours to Gallup. Riding in the rain is OK. Riding in the cold is sort of OK. But riding cold rain is the worst. Where ever I landed there was a good chance I would have to spend another whole day due to the weather. So, spend 48 hours in a town with a old motel, care and gas station or gamble and head for Gallup. I chose Gallup. After the first 30 miles I came to my first rain/hail event. It was light and did not last long. I encountered several more before I reached Gallup nd the temperatures had dipped into the 40's. I was cold, a little damp and turned the heat in the room up to 80 and took a long hot shower.

In the middle of nowhere there is a official heliport

Day 14, May 3

It is way to cold to travel today. The temperatures will still be in the 40's till noon, and though they say there is no rain I see rain on the hills. This gives a break to plan and reflect on the meaning of life.
People have asked if I have met any interesting people. I have but not nearly as many as in the past. I attribute that to several things. First, I am staying in more chain hotels, like the Hampton and Holiday Inn Express. These are more sterile and you are less likely to interact with others than mom and pop's that I have stayed in the past. I also am not taking breakfast at some dinner in the mid-morning, thus missing the interaction with the locals. It is interesting how these small changes change the nature of the trip. The is a more introspective feel of this trip also. Maybe age has something to do with that.

Day 15, May 4
Galllup, NM to Canyon de Chelly, AZ Mexican Hat, UT

Day 17
Mexican Hat, UT to Monument Valley, AZ to Kanab, UT

Last night proved the statement from yesterday. My stay in Mexican Hat was at the San Jaun motel. A 1950's style place on the river. I met and visited with over ten people from all over the world. Gunter and his brother-in-law Eric where traveling the southwest in a Mustang convertible as was many other European tourist. To car loads of 4x4 guys that had come in to town for a day out of the dirt. Most interesting to me was Kenny and Lisa. Kenny was an old oilfield guy and we talked about that for awhile. Until I found out that Lisa grew up in family of custom combiners. Custom combiners travel from Texas to Canada cutting grain as the go north. As a young man I always fantasized about doing this. They would leave school in May and not return until November making their way across America.
Her grandfather had been the largest custom combiner in America in the late 40's and 50's. Now days, the company, now owned by her brother, has the latest and most modern equipment. You do one trip around the perimeter of the field and then the machine does everything else. I mean everything. It adjusts everything on the machine and you are just along for the ride. These things cost upwards of $500k.
Kenny and Lisa

The road today was just some more long straight roads with fantastic views. See the slide show

Kanab is a very clean Mormon town all aimed at tourist. I checked into one of "those" hotels. I should have stayed here.....

It was good enough for these people
Keeping with the tourist theme I had a great dinner and then took in a show.

Day 18, May 6
Kanab, UT to Caliente, NV

More straight roads and great scenery.

I saw this great looking truck and pulled in for a closer view where I met Chris the owner. Chris had had a bad week. Trailers flipping, trucks and car breakdowns, and on and on and on and on and on. After 45 minutes of non-stop bad luck, someone else pulled up and I was able to escape.

A "comfort animal" for the Walmart clerk. It was attached to his waist.

The train station from the days when Caliente was a real place

The whole town came out to see Fred.

Day 19, May 7
Caliente to Tom Vining, CA

 I stopped and Rachel for breakfast with all the Aliens. I had spent a night in this fine town back in 2012.

Most europeans I met were driving mustang convertables.

Grandfather and grandson on a ride

Day 20, May 9
Tom Vinning to Walnut Creek, CA.

The last day on the road. We climbed over the Sierras on highway xx that had just opened up for the season. Some of the road is included in the video above. I had to get on the express for about an hour. There is a new expression we use "ride fast and take chances". We really use it tongue in check, but not today. It all played true riding on the expressways leading into the SFO area.


I spent time in and around San Francisco visiting old friends and hiding Fred in storage for a few weeks. Traffic in this area is crazy bad. No need to hang around here.

Kristin and Jim took me out to a fantastic vegan meal in Walnut Creek. Kristin had introduced me to vegan at the end of the 2012 Cannonball when we spent the night in Santa Barbara and we picked up some sandwiches and had a picnic on Fess Parkers winery in the hills out of town.  It was great.  As was this meal. As you can see, desert did not last long.

Is that a guilty face or what?
The next morning my long, long time friend, way back to Army days in Europe, came by and took me out to breakfast. You will hear more about her when the Eastbound Leg begins on June 6

The next day was lunch in San Rafael. I drove up and Janet caught the day down from Petaloma.  We go way back to boating and DC days.  It was great to spend time with her.

I had this guy escort me around since evidently with that automatic weapon strapped on his bike this place is NRA scary.