Whooah, we’re half way there

The Trooper had to be at the Harley shop at 8.30 sharp to guarantee being seen to first. It was very handy staying in the hotel next door. I was there at 8.20 and had to wait for them to open up. As check-out from the hotel wasn’t until 11am, I came back to hang at the hotel until I had to be out.

When I got back, Ed had packed up his bike and was about ready to leave. We said our good-byes and gave each other contact details with a view to meeting up at Sturgis and having a beer.

At 11am, I checked-out and went over to Tripp’s. I browsed around the store, brought a replacement pair of gloves for the ones I’d lost, and just as I sat down with a complimentary cup of coffee (note to Edinburgh H-D, there were free donuts too), the service manager came over to tell me the bike was ready.

I paid my $300-odd and went out to load the Trooper. I was a little surprised to see the Trooper has still filthy from yesterday’s rain. I don’t think I’ve ever had work down at a H-D dealer, where they didn’t at least give the bike a basic wash, even if not fully detailing it. That the Trooper hadn’t had a clean kind of summed up my experience of Tripp’s Harley-Davidson in Amarillo, TX – quite efficient but not very friendly.

But I was on the road earlier than I had expected, and my first destination was the Cadillac Ranch just west of Amarillo. When I pulled up by the ranch, the first thing that stuck me was the 20 or so cars and RVs also parked up. Looking over at the caddies, I could see swarms of people around them. Me and crowds don’t mix well, so I’d afraid I just snapped one distance shot and I was on my way. Personally, I think the Bug Ranch was much better, especially since Ed and I had it to ourselves.

From Texas, July 2013

Carrying on across Texas, all I could see to my right was mile after mile of wind turbines. Not only has Texas got oil, but they’re also apparently the biggest producer of wind energy in the US.

From Texas, July 2013

Around lunchtime, I reached the mid-point of the old Route 66. From there it is 1,139 miles to Los Angeles and 1,139 miles to Chicago.

From Texas, July 2013
From Texas, July 2013

Across the road from that sign is the Midpoint Cafe, and as I hadn’t had breakfast, I stopped for lunch. It’s a great little place with good sandwiches and friendly staff. They had a big party of Corvette drivers in on a Route 66 tour, but I didn’t wait long for my food, and a good sandwich it was too.

From Texas, July 2013

As I was preparing to leave, I offered to take a photo of a couple that had just come out of the cafe. They turned out to be a Finnish couple on a Route 66 trip by car. Ed had told me about meeting a Finnish couple in Tulsa, and it was the same couple. Small world. For the next few stops, we kept leap frogging each other and then seeing each other coming back from following the same dead ends.

Along the route there are more signs of the decline of the once prosperous businesses that used to serve Route 66 travellers.

From Texas, July 2013

I rolled into New Mexico around mid-afternoon and already the landscape was beginning to change. The flatness of Texas was being replaced by more and more contours. I knew I was getting close to one of the parts of the US that I love to ride in.

From New Mexico, July 2013

Around 5pm, I rode into Santa Rosa. If I hadn’t been delayed with the Trooper’s service in the morning, I had been hoping to make it all the way to Santa Fe. There was no way I was going to make that now, at least not if I hoped to arrive at a reasonable time. After an iced tea and a bit of internet time in the McDs, I decided that I’d look for somewhere to stay in Santa Rosa.

From New Mexico, July 2013

I found a motel next door to a bar and grill, so that ticked all my boxes for an overnight stay. The motel must have been a 50s or 60s vintage, and the fixtures and furnishings may well have been the same vintage too. These original motels may not have all the mod cons of the generic chain hotels that cover the US interstate intersections, but they are a darn sight cheaper and with buckets more character. I’d much prefer to stay somewhere like that – especially if they have wifi which this one did.

I ate in the next door bar and grill. The chicken burger was fine but it really wasn’t the most happening place, so I left after just one beer, and decided I’d do just as well having a tinned beer sitting outside my room.

When I got back to the motel, there was a party of 4 twenty-somethings unpacking their car into the room next to mine. I said hello, and their replies were in unmistakable French accents. It’s funny I’ve heard almost as many European accents on my stops along Route 66 as I have American accents. It made me wonder whether Route 66 wasn’t actually a European dream of what America should be like.

I asked my French neighbours about their trip. They had flown into Chicago, rented a car and had followed the Mother Road; but they were planning to deviate from it once they reached Flagstaff, and instead head up to Grand Canyon, then Las Vegas, Death Valley, Yosemite, San Francisco, before heading down Highway 1 to LA. When I heard this I recommended that they visit Zion, and possibly Bryce Canyon, National Parks in Utah if they had time. Zion was one of the most picturesque places I saw on my last trip, and I’m looking forward to taking Doreen there when she gets over in August.

When they realised that I had been that way before, I was bombarded with questions about route timings and things to see. I did my best to answer based on my 2011 experiences and then bade them good night.



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