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Ride to the Rockies, Day Four

Across the prairies pumps were everywhere pulling out liquified fossils from deep underground

The next morning I got packed and back on the road by 6 am, heading west on US 54 to Mullinville, where US 400 veered west then northwest toward Dodge City. There I stopped for coffee and a breakfast burrito for less than $2, staying true to my low cost traveling mantra. 400 Followed the Arkansas River, a green vein in the fields of gold Kansas wheat, all the way into the high plains of Colorado. The river which had been huge in Arkansas, here was just a think ribbon of green winding beside the highway, which left to wander on without me as I turned north on US 287 to Kit Carson, sitting in an ocean of grasses in the prairie wind.

An interesting sculpture garden along the highway on my way to Dodge City on US 400 near Ford, KS

Windmills are everywhere on the prairies. I passed a source of parts along the highway at Garden City, KS. The truck gives an idea of scale and how big these blades really are.

I made a short stop at the Kit Carson Museum to learn a little about prairie life in the 1800s and to talk to the museum attendant about a book I had republished, The Life of Kit Carson by Edward Ellis, that was originally published in the late 1800s. We discussed the book and I made plans to send a review copy to her when I returned home.

The Kit Carson Museum, in where else, Kit Carson, CO

At Kit Carson the highway made a northwestward bend toward Denver and I followed it as far as Limon. I had not brought an extra quart of engine oil with me so stopped there at an auto parts store to pick one up, just in case. I found what I needed and the fellow behind the counter had noticed my ADV sticker on the Bonneville. He was an inmate, too, and as I left said it was cool I was “rockin' the ADV.”

From Limon, I headed west on CO 86 in an effort to avoid Denver, if at all possible. There on 86 I got my first view of the Rockies, with Pikes Peak to the southwest, still covered by snow at its peak. Among the wide grasslands I could picture Wyeth's painting, Christina's World, and tried to imagine further back the area being filled from horizon to horizon with bison.

My first clear view of the Rocky Mountains heading toward Denver on CO 86

At Kiowa I stopped for fuel. The Bonnie had never run so many miles without sputtering out of fuel—over 162 miles. The altitude combined with my fuel injection was working its magic and giving me much higher mpgs than usual.

At I-25, 86 connected with US 85 which would take me clear into Littleton, more of less where I was aiming to stay for the night. Just as the traffic snarl was getting crazy I hopped on CO 470, the southwestern loop bypass, just one exit west to Deer Creek Canyon Road, which headed away from the city. The road passed between red rock formations up a narrow canyon filled with bicyclists. Soon I found the side road I was looking for and turned off to the campground I was looking for.

Up a mile or two of gravel the gates of Mountain Air Ranch appeared. I've never been too body ashamed and Mountain Air happened to be a nudist resort, just at the right place for my stop that day that offered tent camping space. Why not? I figured; there would be showers and a pool to enjoy for the rest of the hot afternoon, a kitchen set aside for the campers' use, making cooking an easy affair instead of having to pull out my stove and gas bottles, and getting dressed in the morning would be much easier being able to just step outside instead of pulling everything back on in the cramped seven-by-seven foot tent that only had an interior height about as high as my waist.

My camp at Mountain Air Ranch. In the morning mule deer were wandering along the fence in the background.

After pitching the tent, I made friends with my neighbor tent campers by helping them pitch their tent and was rewarded with a nice cold beer. I decided to go all in and walked up to the pool area and bought three bottles of water which I downed almost instantly while I sat by the pool, while I chatted with a friendly female nudist of Asian descent. Returning to the campground area, I threw some spam on the communal stove for dinner and enjoyed the rest of the day clothesless as the sun settled behind the mountains and the valley I was in was clothed in increasing darkness. The air cooled considerably promising a comfortable night, compared with the sweat and noise of the night before.

So far 2,198.4 miles

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