Brent Allen, author of Motorcycles, Life, and… and The Elemental Motorcyclist and his wife, Julie, are on a road trip, two-up. They are heading to the AMA Superbike races in Elkhart Lake, WI, riding their Honda ST1300 from their home town of Nampa, ID (just southwest of Boise). They will be our guest bloggers while on the trip, and each will give their own impressions on their travels and give us a look into each of their own individual ways of looking at the same experience.
First, from Brent:
Thursday June 05/Salina KS to Aurora CO/09:15 to 16:30/2867miles to 3303miles
Finally all my preconceived notions, my prejudices and stereotypes have been confirmed: western Kansas and eastern Colorado are every bit as flat as I always thought the prairie would be. What was really unexpected were the huge cathedrals that occasionally appear on the horizon as the tallest things in a town other than silos or water towers. If the prairie is the sea of grass then the area between Kansas and Colorado is the Sargasso Sea; calm with slow, low rolling waves. As with biome the flat wide spaces have a beauty of their own. Out here you can see the small dimples and ripples in the land and the trees tend to stand alone without the undergrowth so prevalent in Missouri. Water is here but its not in the quantity of the more eastern states. Most water is in small ponds folded into the plain and though there are rivers, creeks and streams I didn’t see any large bodies of water be it pond, lake or even river.
Your field of vision is so big that it can be hard to gauge distances well. Stuff seems close but is faraway and sometimes things that seem miles away are impossibly close. Because of the striking lack of state troopers the traffic moves at shockingly high speeds. Most of the time I was belting along at 85 to 90 miles per hour and that was simply to keep up with the flow of traffic. Speaking of traffic I saw a license plate from every state west of the Mississippi and a couple on the east side of it. Steel trusses for bridges when by. Wood trusses for houses were rolling down the road. I saw these foot thick, nine foot wide concrete disks that baffled me as to what they were for. Combines on trucks motored along. Unidentifiable heavy equipment was chained down and rolling down the road. I saw at least a dozen Harley trikes—which look like Harley’s pulling trailers as they come toward you—and I saw half a dozen or more Harleys pulling trailers as well.
Meet a gentleman named Roy who was riding from Fort Collins to points east. He’s a Vietnam vet and we had a good time watching bikes pull into a travel stop and talking about bikes and life and things. He was riding his Harley and he spoke lovingly about his MotoGuzzis. We swapped weather reports and stories for a few minutes and we were off our separate ways. I doubt I will ever see or hear of him again and I’m sure he feels the same way but we’re friends now. On a bike in the middle of the big empty anyone else on a bike is your friend. You can walk up, talk, swap road information or ask about weather or machine and nobody gives you that “who are you and why are you talking to me?” look. There is a camaraderie that allows you to simply walk up like an old friend and ask, “How’s the gas mileage on that?” or “Do you like those tires?” It’s just that easy to be people.
I like that part a lot. Tired tonight. Raced a huge nasty thunderstorm cell into Denver. I won.
And, from Julie:
Today started with thunder and lightening illuminating the sky, wind and rain pelting the window, hard enough to wake us. Crash videoed some of the weather and came to the decision that we postpone our departure from Salina, Kansas. We had a leisurely morning, having breakfast and watching the weather reports while waiting for the rain to cease and the wind to die down. By 9am we were back in the road, in windier conditions than we would have liked but on the road. A long day ahead on the road ahead of us.
Crash loves trees all trees, the more trees the better. Trees are not abundant in Idaho, they are a precious commodity. Offering canopies of green and cool shade in the scorching temperatures. They have been the cause of some dissension in our home. Crash wants trees and our son the horticulturalist wants to remove some of Crash's trees. He, our son believes there are good trees and trash trees just as there are good plants and weeds. (He has research and documentation to back his side up.) Most of our trees are trash trees. There in is the rub. So a compromise was reached. For every tree removed from our property a new non-trash tree has to be planted, preferably a fast growing tree. It amazed me as we past large sections of land in the Midwest that we were in a place where trees were a nuisance, trash to be bulldozed, piled into large unruley mountains in the middle of large fields or at the ends of the fields' rows, turning brown and I assume waiting to be burned. What an odd turn of events.
As we whipped and I mean whipped along 1-70 trying to beat the next storm into Denver we past a myriad of interesting signs. Post Rock Country, where fence posts were made from quarried limestone starting in the 1800's because there weren't trees available. Good fences make good neighbors. Lots of cows means containing them and the ingenious ranchers improvised, adapted and overcame.
Every town has it's own attraction and signs along the interstate to lure you and your wallet int their little town - Worlds Largest Prairie Dog, World's Largest Czech Egg, Wild West Shows, Train Museums, buffalo even Bob Dole and Arlin Spector's home town (if you can call that an attraction.) The signage is amazing too, literally every mile leading to a particular towns exit, some even starting with their signage from as far as 100 miles way.
Then there were the just plain interesting signs. The giant easel and Van Gogh that was hard to miss even from the freeway.
Then for those of you who don't know...Jesus is hiding out in a wheat field in Kansas.
(I know, we were as surprised as you. It took awhile for us to process.)
The last and probably my favorite sign (because my butt was telling me so after so many hours on the bike) was the Colorado state sign. Dark clouds were gathering on the horizon and we knew it would be a race to the finish line. One we barely won.