Daily Journal

Day Three: Sunday, June 10, 2001

  What is that bright light!? Good grief, it is bright here in the morning! I roll out fairly early and decide to get showered and get ready so everyone won't be waiting on me. Besides, I am excited about getting this show on the road. All of the months of planning and pouring over maps comes down to today. It is a spectacularly beautiful day. There is nary a cloud to be seen anywhere in the sky. the sky itself has a deep dark blue hue to it, unlike anything we see at home except on cold clear days in the dead of winter. The cool morning air is refreshing. I can see why so many people like living in the Southwest.

  Soon everyone else is up and rustling about, packing bags, putting on riding gear and just stumbling about. I start rolling the bikes out of the garage very carefully. The driveway is loose pea gravel about two inches deep and it is easy to slip. Soon John comes wandering out to the truck looking puzzled. He starts going through the truck cab, the back, his pockets, and looking in or under everything he gets near. "Have you seen my wallet?"

  Oh man... this is not a good sign! We have not even left the driveway and we have hit a minor snag. John seems to have either left his wallet back at Will's place in Austin or lost it somewhere along the way across the empty stretches of West Texas. Fortunately, he knows the number for his credit card company and gets right onto the process of getting a replacement card. Fortunate also is that the rest of us have enough cash to float him for a few days until the replacement arrives. Now all he has to do is work out the details of where to send the replacement. After all, if it arrives late, we'll have already moved onto the next day's destination.

  I start loading up the bikes iwth luggage and tank bags. then I wander back inside to take care of this odd emptiness in my gut. Mrs. Moen has graciously provided us with a light and delicious breakfast. Just enough to make me feel satisfied but not full, perfect for riding. Finally everyone else has had their fill and they being to make their way out to the bikes. This is it. We'll get gas and hit the open road. But first a picture to mark the occasion. From left to right we have: Will Bird, 2000 Triumph Trophy 1200; Beth Friday, 2001 Suzuki SV650S; Scott Friday, 2001 Honda VFR 800 Fi; and John Morin, 2001 Triumph Sprint ST. You can see the sky in the background, a portent of things to come. With a good bye wave, we are finally on the road. Let the adventure begin.

  We begin by stopping for gas to make sure everyone is topped off and has a bottle of water. Then we head back to I-10 for the run West to Lordsburg where we will get off the superslab and head into the desert. Let me just say that it is quite breezy out here in the middle of nowhere with nothing to block the wind. Small waves of sand drift over the road in wispy wavy patterns. It is early in the morning, but already the heat is building. It is going to be a real cooker.

  We make good time to Lordsburg. The speed limit here is a mighty 75 mph! When we reach Lordsburg, we stop for gas again. It has only been about 70 miles or so since leaving Las Cruces. But we are getting ready to venture out into the desolation of the Southeast corner of Arizona. We just don't know when we might be able to get gas again. We want to be sure everyone can go their max range before we leave civilization behind.

  Every rider fantasizes about twisting winding roads that curve in and around the countryside. U.S. Highway 70 out of Lordsburg is not this road. It is flat, unbelievably straight and desolate. I keep getting a fleeting glimpse of something small and white shooting across the road right in front of my bike but I just can't make out what it might be. When we stop, Beth mentions this as well. Our best guess is that they are some kind of FAST lizzard. Obviously, they are crossing the road to get to the other side ;-) Did I mention it is starting to get hot?

  A few miles before reaching the Arizona state line, we turn off of 70 onto NM 92. It truly seems as if we are just riding out into the middle of nowhere. I cannot see anything in any direction except for flat scrubland and distant mountains off to the north. What must it have been like to be an early settler crossing this area with a wagon full of everything you owned. It gives me a whole new perspective on the pioneering spirit. In today's age of satellite photos, detailed maps and GPS receivers, it is easy to forget that while I may know exactly what is over the next hill, the early pioneers may have had little or no clue. Scary.

  We are just cruising along when all of a sudden, the road drops over a ledge and we start a steep descent down into a hidden valley, not of the salad dressing variety. Just a minute ago, I would have never guessed this was here, apparently all my high tech gadgetry did me no good. But this is a pleasant surprise. The dry dusty browness of the last few miles is replaced with the lush greeness of a fertile valley. When we reach the bottom, we cross the Gila river and proceed to follow the river through the valley in a Northwesterly direction to the state line. This is obviously a farming area and I would expect to see the occasional large tractor tire laying in a yard or two. What we see instead are MONSTER tires that would never fit any tractor I have ever seen, in person or on television! What in the world could they fit?

  I put the nagging tire question into the back of my mind and get back to noticing the ride, the smells, the feel of the dry air, and the isolation of this small community. We pass through Virden, not a Dairy Queen to be seen. That must just be a Texas thing. I think to be a legitimate town in Texas, it is required that a Dairy Queen be present. Too bad, I could really go for a cold cone of ice cream right about now. We head out of town and soon reach the state line and cross into Arizona where the highway becomes Virden Highway until it reaches AZ 75 just a bit Northeast of Duncan.

  The distant mountains are starting to loom on the horizon, we are getting closer. I am eagerly anticpating the ride into the unknown as we head for US 191 and our run through the Apache National Forest. While looking at my map software, I spotted this particular road because it was super twisty, even on the map. Then someone showed me a website where you can go and look at satellite images of just about the entire continental United States at very high magnification (www.terraserver.com). So I actually found this road and took a look at it. WOW! I knew right then that it was a must ride. After conferring with several of my knowledgeable VFR list memebers from the Tuscon and Phoenix areas, it was a done deal. I am really looking forward to this. But first, I am thinking about gas again, not from breakfast but for the bikes.

  Shortly after crossing into Arizona, we reach the intersection of AZ 75 and US 191. US 191 used to be US 666. I have no idea why it was changed, but it has led to a bit of confusion. At the intersection we find a gas station on one corner, a minimart of some sort on the opposite corner, a few mobile home on the next corner, and a whole lot of dirt and rocks on the fourth corner. Nice town.

  Not having any clue when we might see another gas station, I decide we might as well pull in and fill up the bikes. The run up 191 is going to be a long haul out through mountains on a lightly travelled road. I don't want anyone running out of gas out there. Calling this place a gas station is a bit of a stretch. It is a one room shack, about ten by ten with a door and a window with a straining window unit AC grinding away. As we pull up to the pumps, I notice that they are all full service and about $2.10 per gallon! They have to be the last place for miles to get away with this scam.

  Out from the shanty comes this tall lanky fellow, all of 18 years old at best. He starts trying to pump the gas and cannot understand why I want to do it instead of letting him do it for me. I guess he finally concludes that I am just one of those weirdo biker nuts and concedes the issue. While I am pumping, Beth informs me that she is going to head across the road to the minimart in search of a restroom. It appears that all the gas station has is an outhouse around back.

  I get both of our bikes fueled up and move them out of the way. As I am paying for the gas, several old airhead Beemers start trickling into the parking lot. I'm not in a hurry to get back out to check them out because I am enjoying the air conditioning in the shack. But the young attendant won't leave me in here alone while he goes out to attend the other customers, so I have to leave, harummph.

  When I step outside, I find a crowd of other bikers standing around checking out all of our bikes and chatting with everyone. Beth comes back and is not looking too happy. She informs me that the folks across the street use the restroom over at the gas station. Oh Joy! Like the soldier she is, she decides to tough it out and use the outhouse. John is deep in conversation with a long bearded fellow about his Sprint ST. It turns out that this fellow also has a Sprint ST.

  While Beth is gone, I notice a fellow checking out the VFR. This guy has a beard that would make the members of ZZ Top envious. It reaches his belt and is a beautiful shade of white. He informs me that he has a 98 VFR at home in the garage. He is also 80 years old!! This guy just became my hero! When Beth comes back around from the outhouse, I introduce her to him and she is also amazed. Suddenly I feel the urge to relieve myself as well. The thought of the outhouse is not pleasant.

  I am sure we have all been in the porta-potty outhouses as large events. They are never much fun. Now imagine that experience except try to imagine it being about 140 F in the outhouse. This thing is basically a Crock-Pot! Unfortunately, it takes me longer to empty my bladder than I can hold my breath. Not good. I breath very shallow for the next minute until I can finish my business. Stepping back outside the outhouse is like a breath of fresh cool air. Whew!

  Relieved and with a full tank of gas, I am ready to get this show back on the road. We spend a few more minutes talking with the other riders and then get ready to leave. As we are putting our gear on, I spot two sport bikes heading up 191 the direction we are going. I doubt very seriously if we'll catch up to them. They give a quick wave and disappear from sight around a curve. When everyone is suited up, we head back to the open road. This is gonna be great!

  As soon as we get on 191 and start heading North, the road begins to descend. We pass through large cutouts in the sides of canyons as the road makes its way down the steep valley wall. It is curving back and forth, the wind is howling up through the narrow passes. And all above us is crystal clear deep blue sky. Chicken soup for the soul, hehe. Then all of a sudden we come around a corner and there sits a nice modern looking Chevron gas station, doh! The two sport bike riders are gassing up and give another wave as we go by them. I notice the gas is about ten cents cheaper per gallon here. Oh well. We have now entered the town of Clifton.

  Apparently,Clifton is quite the historic little town. Like many mountain towns, mining was once the life blood of the community. In this case, copper mining is the base of the economy. The town sits in the bottom of a long narrow gorge with steep rock walls climbing up from behind the buildings. There is a small river off to our left. Most of the buildings have the look of late 1800's architecture and are abandoned. This place would make a great setting for an old western movie. Abandoned and rusting train cars sit idle on the tracks that lead down from the mines on the mountain above the town. Us 191 wanders right down the middle of the town and then starts to climb out of the North end of the gorge in a series of tight switchbacks. Soon we are looking down on the town below.

  As we climb the sides of the gorge, we start to see more development up on the top of the mountain. There is a full blown humongous mining operation up here. As it turns out, this is one of the largest open pit mines in the United States. Then it comes to me, now I know what those monster tires are for, monster dump trucks! These are the massive machines that we've all seen on the Discovery Channel's Extreme Machines series. Trucks with tires that are over twelve feet in diameter and several thousand pounds apiece. I feel the manly power tool hormones starting to flow through my veins.

  When we reach the top of the mountain, we pass what seems to be the main ore processing facility. Conveyor belts are running in every direction. There are pretty large chunks of rocks in the road and we really have to keep an eye out for them. As we reach the ridge we have to go through a tunnel, kind of cool. When we come out the other side, we are greeted with the sight of a BIG hole in the ground. I spot a line of about ten of the massive dump trucks cruising along one of the pit terraces, astonishingly fast! By the time I manage to get pulled over and get out the camera, most of them have already rounded the side of the mountain and passed from view, but I get a few of them. Seeing helps put the size of the pit in perspective. There is another even larger pit around the backside of the mountain.

  As we make our way around the mine, I spot a sign in one of the corners that warns of acid trucks. I think that hitting one of those would definitely not be a good thing. Road rash with acid is not a good combination. This mine uses the acid to separate the copper from the ore. The resulting goo is then put in large vats. Huge sheets of copper plates are lowered into the vats. These sheets are then electrically charged to some ungodly high voltage. This attracts the copper ions in the solution and it collects on the plates. Then the plates are removed and the copper is collected from the plates. The resulting copper has about a 99.9% purity. This particular mine produces about two BILLION dollars worth of copper each year!! I can certainly tell that very little of that money goes back into the community. The houses we see have the look of a company owned mining town. I have to stop several times to take in the view of the mining pit. I just cannot get over the scale of this thing. But soon we are on the road and start working our way out into the wooded mountains, leaving the mine behind.

  No sooner than we leave the mine behind, the road becomes fantastic. It starts off with a short run down the backside of the mountain into a long narrow valley. It then follows the winding of the valley for a few miles until it dead ends. At which point it begins a twisting curving run up the sides of the valley and onto a ridge. (My Photo / Satellite Photo) My photo is looking South back toward the mine. The top of the satellite phote is the road back to the mine. This is just a VERY small sample of what we have in store for the next few hours!

  While we are stopped so I can take pictures, I hear the familiar buzz of inline four's ripping along at a break neck pace. Sure enough, the two sport bike riders we had seen a few miles back are carving their way up the bottom of the canyon and heading for us. A scant few seconds later the buzzing of their engines fades out of earshot into the next canyon. We never see them again.

  We get back on the road and get down to knocking out some miles. The curves on this road are amazingly tight. I find myself squeezing the grips quite hard and have to force myself to relax my grip. The road is quite narrow and in most places the trees make a tunnel over the entire road. There was very little grading and filling done when this road was made. It pretty much just follows the original terrain, up and down, round and round, Grandma's house nowhere to be found.

  After about an hour or so of nothing but curves, I spot a place to pull off and take a break (Pic 1 / Pic 2). My forearms are getting a bit sore. I need a stretch and something to drink. There is a large gravel rest area and I park in some shade. We are getting up into the elevations and it is cooling off, but the direct sunlight is still pretty warm when we are standing around in full gear. We take in the scenery and some water. Dehydration is a serious concern out here. The air is very dry. Being cool, it is easy to forget that sweat is evaporating and pulling fluids out of our systems. We have to make an effort to drink at every opportunity. I should have also packed some Chapstick!

  As we are getting ready to get back on the road, we see one of the few other vehicles on the road, a Harley riding two up and pulling a trailer. They go thumping right on by with a quick wave and rumble off around the next hill. It is getting into the early afternoon and we still have mucho miles to knock out before we get to Flagstaff. Off we go!

  The next hour is spent in silent heaven. I am totally blown away by the perfect riding conditions. There is not a cloud to be seen. It is in the low eighties with little wind. The road is an endless ribbon of snaking asphalt, in surprisingly good condition considering its distance from any large population tax base. There are some days and moments that you wish could just go on forever, this is one of them. However, being basically a flatlander, my body is not used to this much winding and twisting on the bike and I am getting stiff again. Time to pull over for another break. As we round another corner near the top of one of the many peaks in the area, I spot another "rest area" and we pull over.

  As soon as we get back on the road, we start to wind our way down. It is steep and the road has lots of sharp curves. Blowing one of these curves is likely to be fatal. It is certain that it would be extremely difficult for anyone to get down to me if I were to go over the edge. And it is a long way down. The best I can hope for is to get stuck in the top on a tree before I start to plummet down the mountainside. I slow down just a bit.

  As I round one particularly tight corner, I am greeted with the sight of loose gravel in the road. It seems that the southbound side of the highway is being recovered with tar and loose gravel!! Thank God there appears to be none of this on the northbound lane. But the gravel has spilled over into our lane at places so I slow down a bit more and keep my eyes peeled. I sure hope they sweep the loose stuff off later, otherwise they will have ruined one of the most spectacular roads I have ever experienced.

  Before long, I realize that I seem to be holding up Will. So I give him the "come on by" wave and away he goes. It is a scant few seconds later when John comes zooming around me at warp 10 in pursuit of Will. I let up and wait for Beth to catch up to me. Then we set to enjoying a nice relaxed ride down the mountain. Occasionally, one of us will point out something interesting using our bike to bike communicators. But for the most part we just silently take it all in and marvel at the natural beauty around us.

  About an hour or so after leaving the mountain top rest area, we come out into a meadow, Hannegan's Meadow. Here sits a campground/lodge miles from anything. We pull over for a break. John and Will are long gone. I guess they will stop in the next town to wait for us. We grab a coke and sit for a few minutes, just absorbing the feel of this place. I could spend a long time here before I get bored. After about ten minutes and some stretching, we get back on the road. We don't want John and Will thinking something has happened to us.

  The stretch of highway from Hannegan's Meadow down to Alpine is amazing. Unlike the section of road earlier that was being recovered with gravel, this section is wonderfully smooth black top, without even so much of a hint of a ripple or pothole. When we are riding in such a remote place and on such treacherous roads, I don't like to get very far ahead of Beth. I must confess that at this point I am really having a hard time keeping the bike slowed enough to keep her in communicator range. Whereas I tend to speed up on these kinds of roads, she tends to slow down. At least she is smart enough to stick to riding her ride and not trying to impress anyone by cooking along faster than she is comfortable. The remaining miles to Alpine are a blur of hard leans and tight switchbacks. Then we pop out of the woods and are looking down over a dark green valley with a small town below. We have reached Alpine. I'm hungry.

  We pull into town and find John and Will sitting at the local gas station. From the look on their faces, I surmise they are getting a bit hungry as well. After gassing up our bikes, we head across the street to the Bear Hollow Cafe to sample the local grub. Behind the restaurant we can see the mountains we were just riding. The food's good, the portions large and the waitresses cute (and married hehe). If you find yourself in Alpine, it's definitely worth the stop for lunch. Unfortunately, with a belly full of food and a hard morning of riding behind me, I am feeling exceptionally lazy. There is a cluster of trees behind the restaurant near where we parked. If only I had a hammock...

  It is pushing 3:00pm. We are still a few hundred miles from Flagstaff. Somehiow I get the feeling we won't be getting there before dark. I still want to stop and see the Petrified Forest. As we head out of town I see something that is a sober reminder of where we are riding, a warning sign for Elk. We are not totally down off the mountains yet. Alpine is about a third of the way up in elevation from the desert floor to the North. It does not take long before we come down out of the woods and hit the open desert again. This road becomes the antethesis of the roads we have been riding the last five hours.

  I pull off and wave everyone by me. Nature seems to be exerting an undue influence on me and I have to go explore behind a large pile of rocks. Much to my surprise, I find a little pocket of beauty nestled amongst the barren rocks. I make my way back to the road and set out to catch the others.

  Apparently the others are cruising a little faster than I thought. This road is about as straight and open as they come and I am making real good time. I can't understand what might possess someone to live out here, and yet, I see quite a few houses as I zip along through the open and barren desert. Perhaps it is the sense of being isolated, the rest of the world and its worries just don't seem to make much difference when I am out here. Of course, I don't feel the need to pack up and move just yet, an annual visit will do just fine.

  The next town is St. Johns. I figure I'll find the others waiting for me when I get there. The wind on these wide open roads is something else. I don't recall ever doing a hundred miles an hour leaned over and going in a straight line. It is certainly a peculiar feeling. Especially when the road runs through a cut out in a small ridge. As I pass into the opening of the cut out, in an instant the wind comes at me from the opposite side with just as much ferocity, then just as instantly it resumes it original direction as I come out the far side of the cut out. It can be a little unsettling if you are not prepared for it. The bike is running great and I am feeling good. The sun is amazingly bright and I can see forever. St. Johns appears on the horizon.

  When I roll into town, I start scanning for the others' bikes. I find them about half way through town stopped at a gas station sipping some cool water. The run through the mountains earlier was nice and cool, but now that we are down in the desert again, the heat has really picked up again. I fill up my bike and grab some water. We use the stop as a chance to reevaluate our plan for the remainder of the day. I still want to see the Petrified Forest. I was there once before as I small kid of about six years old and I want to see it again. It is only about 4:00pm and we still have about four hours of day light left. Flagstaff is still a few hundred miles away and we have already done in excess of two hundred miles. We decide to just head for the Petrified park and see how we feel.

  We head West out of town on US 180. The turn off for the park is about 40 miles out so we hunker down and slip into cruise mode. I take the opportunity to soak up the expansiveness of the scenery. It is next to impossible for me to adequately capture the wide openess of this place with a camera or words. It simply has to be seen. And as desolate as the desert appears, there is still an amazing variety of colors and vegetation. When I'm in a forest, the trees demand most of my attention and the surrounding geography is often hidden for the trees. Out here the geography is really in my face and there is no escaping the immediacy of it. It's kind of cool.

  We reach the turn off pretty quick. I experience an instant flahsback to my childhood. This is the very tourist stop where my family stopped over twenty five years ago. It looks exactly the same! (Pic 1 / Pic 2). This is the only stop for miles and sits on the South end of the park road. We decide to stop and take in the touristy feel. I like unusual pictures and the columns on the front of the building are unusual. Once inside, there are pieces of petrified wood everywhere in every shape and size imaginable.

  We take our time wandering throughout the store checking out the trinkets and oddities. I find a corner under an air conditioning vent and take root. MMmmm.... Of course the store sells other geological curiousities besides petrified wood. There is a wide assortment of other types of stones and crystals. The coolest piece I find is a globe made of inlaid polished stone. Very cool. Then I see the price tag!! $4000 not including packing and shipping! The stone trinkets are looking better every moment. The others eventually find me back under the air vent in the corner and we head back out into the heat to ride through the park on the park road.

  As we pull up to the park entrance, we notice that the rear tire on John's bike is showing a strip of metal bands through the rubber on the center of the tire about ten inches long! This is not good. Being in the middle of nowhere, he decides to just ride it out and try to make it to Flagstaff. The twisty fun stuff for the day is behind us. Nothing but gentle curves and superslab lay ahead. We buy National Park passes for $50 each. It seems high, but it is good for a year in any National park in the country, so what the heck. Off we go to explore the park.

  The road winds gently around short multicolored peaks that rise out of the desert floor (Pic 1 / Pic 2). I am struck by the way in which the relatively small peaks can look massive if you forget their scale. There is little in the landscape to use to judge the size of the peaks. It is easy to imagine them as mighty peaks soaring into the deep blue desert sky.

  Before long we arrive at the Crystal Forest, a small park within the park. We park the bikes and take a look. As we take off our riding gear, were are carefully observed by one of the few local residents. Even though it is getting into the early evening and the shadows are lengthening, it is still pretty hot. John and Beth are not up for hiking around the small park area so they sit on the rock wall near the bikes and wait patiently. Will is always up for any challenge so he follows me off into the Crystal Forest.

  Will and I finish the loop and return to the parking lot to find john and Beth looking cool and refreshed, yeah right! They are sweating good and anxious to get back on the bikes and get moving. As we ride away from the Crystal Forest, I am still intrigued by the feel of this place. The flatness abruptly displaced by the isolated peaks and wandering ridges seems so incongruous. In a matter of minutes, the desert of the Petrified Forest gives way to the Southern edge of the Painted Desert (Pic 1 / Pic 2). And once again the scenery has completely changed in a brief moment.

  About the time that I catch up to everyone else, I spot a rest stop and scenic overlook. I just crossed I-40 on the park road. I tell everyone to just keep going and I'll catch up to them on the freeway. I just want a few more pictures.

  As I walk to the high point of the overlook, I spot another gentleman taking pictures. As we are taking our pictures, we engage in a a bit of small talk about the awesome view. I moan something about how lame my lense is and that I really need a decent wide angle lens for this kind of low light photograhpy. Noting that I have a Nikon camera, he trots down to his car and returns with a NICE wide angle lens that fits my camera and offers to let me take a few pictures with it. Who am I to refuse? (Pic 1 / Pic 2). We chat for a few more minutes and then I realize that the sun is fast fading from the sky. I had better get going if I am going to catch up to the others.

  The stretch of the park road on the North side of I-40 is fun. It is a long series of high speed sweepers. Of course it is posted at 45 mph and has been since we left the Museum at the park entrance. Let's just say that I have fun and leave it at that. When I reach the park exit, I spot signs indicating that I should expect to be thoroughly searched to ensure that I am not absconding with bit and pieces of the park. Imagine if millions of visitors each leave with only a tiny piece of memoribilia? Pretty soon there would be nothing left in the park. But as it is late in the day and I am in full gear, the ranger takes one look at me and just waves me on through the exit gate. I'm soon cruising West on I-40 in pursuit of the rest of my exploring buddies.

  Apparently very few people observe the speed limit on this stretch of road. I am cooking along at nearly a hundred and am barely catching up to the Semi's that are hauling down the highway. They all seem to be doing ninety plus. As I see the sun getting lower and lower, I decide this will be a great place to stop for a quick shot of the sunset. I find a place to pull over, dig out the tripod and get setup. The big rigs blasting past me are causing quite a bow wake to come off their cabs. At one point I fear my bike might actually be blown off it's kickstand. I hurriedly get my picture of the sunset and get back on the road.

  Considering the state of John's rear tire, I would have expected the rest of the group to run a fairly conservative pace. Apparently I'm wrong. I cruise along at sustained speeds for about forty five miles and never see them. As I pass exits with gas stations, I start yammering into the communicator in the hope that Beth might hear me if I pass them. I hear nothing but silence. When I reach Winslow, I decide to pull off and get gas. It is now completely dark. Fearing that Beth might worry, I call ahead to the hotel and inform the desk clerk that I am on my way and ask him to let everyone else know I am fine. After gassing up the bike, I head back onto I-40. As I clear the top of the on ramp, amazingly, I slide right in behind the rest of the group. I say Hi to Beth and it scares her because she is not expecting to hear anything on the communicator. She informs me that they had stopped for gas a few exits back. She did not have her helmet on when I went by and thus did not hear me, hehe. Oh well.

  The run from Winslow to Flagstaff is short. As we climb up the mountains to Flagstaff, the temperature begins to drop and it gets refreshingly cool. I spot several roadside signs warning of Elk. When I spot a HUGE mass of dead stuff on the shoulder of the road, I scan the shoulders ahead a little more vigorously. Soon we are parked at the hotel, unload the bikes and check in to our rooms. It has been an amazing and long day, nearly 550 miles depending on which bike we check. After quick showers, we start wandering about dinner.

  It is a little after 9:00 on a Sunday and everything seems to be closed. John has stayed here before on business trips. He suggests we walk up the road to a Jack-in-the-Box. Having been on the bikes all day, a nice walk to stretch the legs sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately, the lobby is closed and they won't let us walk through the drive through and order. We face a dilemma. Enter the crazy highschool guys in a jeep.

  While we are standing around trying to figure out what we are goind to do, a Jeep full of highschool guys pulls up to the ordering microphone. After hearing our sob story, they take pity on us and order our food for us. We give them some cash and wait on the other side of the restaurant, hoping they won't abscond with our food or cash. Fortunately, they are good natured kids and soon come around the building with our food. We thank them profusely and then head back to the hotel. John did not come with us, he stayed at the hotel fighting with his credit card company, trying to figure out how they were going to get a new card to him while he is on the road. We bring him some grub and find him still on the phone with the credit card company. He's not a happy camper.

  Beth and I leave John and Will to themselves and head to our room to call it a night. We are exhilarated and exhausted by the day's ride. In our wildest dreams we never expected a day full of such a wide variety of riding experiences. Little do we realize what is to come...

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