Day Eighteen: Springfield, Missouri to Hayti, Missouri – 253 Miles; Rain; The People You Meet; The Roads You Ride.

Things looked ominous when I finally dragged myself downstairs at the motel for breakfast today. It wasn’t the food choices I saw; it was the pouring rain. I ran into some bikers who were heading out toward St Louis. “Somehow, she got my bottoms [rain suit] and I got hers.” One woman biker was saying to the other. We wished each other a safe ride. They went out toward the bikes and I went for breakfast. Since the rain was falling, I had no other choice but to go up to my room and go back to sleep. Ha ha! Any excuse. When I woke up an hour later the rain had stopped.

Folks are always stopping to talk to me about my motorcycle. Some reminisce about their old bikes and experiences. I stopped at McDonalds yesterday and a 75-year-old man just came up and sat down and started talking about his days riding motorcycles. He asked me about my bike and my trips and believe me, you don’t want to get me started on that. He was surprised that I had ridden from Georgia to Alaska. (See this blog.) He always wanted to visit there – but with some buddies in a motor home. He had a friend up in Anchorage. We talked for a good half an hour. When he was leaving, he told me to ride safely. I said – see you in Alaska.

Another man today came up to me when I was sitting on my bike. He used to have a shovelhead (a Harley made from 1966-1983) and he loved it. Then, for some reason he started talking about his ex-wife who divorced him and “took everything”. “Came one day with a truck and took two of my motorcycles – brought the grandkids to make sure I wouldn’t act up. She met some guy on the internet. 28 years we were married, and I never saw it coming. I guess the cardboard boxes around the house should have tipped me off.”

“Yeah, I reckon.”

I took backroads again today. Highway 60 was my main road, but I was much happier when I was able to turn on a two lane – Hwy 53 -for the last part of my journey. The corn in the fields were the highest I had seen anywhere. “Knee high by the 4th of July” my old pappy used to say. These stalks were easily five feet high. Black-eyed Susan’s, Queen Anne’s lace and wild orange day lilies dotted the roadside. This was my kind of road: small towns – churches, convenience stores, signs for bail bonds.

I treated myself to a stay at Drury’s Hotel tonight and a phone call to my daughter and grandson. Goodnight. Ride safely.

Days Fourteen and Fifteen – Total Trip Miles 4549; Steamboat Springs, Colorado to Beatrice , Nebraska; Crossing the Rockies.

Day Fourteen: Steamboat Springs, Colorado to Sterling, Co. – 279 miles; Amazing Ride -Beautiful Highway 14 Across the Rocky Mountains; Bad Luck -Lost Vest; Subaru – State Car of Mountainous Colorado.

My free day in Steamboat Springs was primarily spent sleeping. Later I wandered around the town and walked by the fast-flowing river. I could live here.

The scenery on Day Fourteen was incredible! I took highway 14 and cut through the Rockies, crossing Cameron Pass at 10, 276 feet. Snow was still on the ground and the road was lined with conifers, pines and quaking aspen. A rushing, whitewater river ran alongside the highway. This was hands down my favorite ride so far. I found myself shaking my head in disbelief over the beauty of the countryside, and feeling immense gratitude. The road was challenging as well, with lots of sharp curves and switchbacks.

Somewhere along the way I lost my nice Harley vest. It was a present from my old riding partner, El Jefe. Called the restaurant I had stopped at and the place I topped up the air on the tires but no luck.

Subaru appears to the state car of the Colorado mountains. Jeep seemed to come a distant second.

Day Fifteen: Sterling, Co to Beatrice, Nebraska – 402 miles; Fate vs. Destiny

I took Hwy 6 out of Sterling and eventually switched to 34. I’m still trying to avoid the interstates. With rare exceptions, interstates are just soul-less roads to help you get through places quickly with meeting as few people as possible. Sometimes that’s what you want. But you’re not really ‘there’; you don’t get a feel for the place. The goal seems always to want to ‘be’ somewhere else, as if this place isn’t good enough for us. Often, it seems we do this with our lives as well.

I’m not great at staying in the present. I focus on the smells – lilacs, cattle, sheep, roadkill, water from a long armed irrigation rig (reminds me of drinking out of a green hose when I was little), something cooking (BBQ!). The meandering streams, the flat prairies, the way the deep cloud shadows drift across the rolling hills. The colors! But I can only do this for so long before I drift into the past or the future,  into praying and giving thanks, into just thinking about things.

Yesterday, it was fate vs destiny. What do you think?

Resting Days: Pregnancy Salad; New Baby; Bike Problems; Bike Miles -114,920.

The day after Big Red and I arrived in Los Angeles, I went with my daughter out to lunch. She wanted to go to this restaurant on Tujunga that was renowned for their special salad. I know that doesn’t sound like much but this salad, and particularly the dressing, was supposed to induce labor in pregnant women. When the waiter saw my daughter in her condition, he said: “You’ll be wanting the salad.” Indeed, on the menu it was listed as “The Salad”. After a while four more pregnant women walked into their place, all quite ready for “The Salad”.

A small journal was passed around where people had recorded their thoughts. One guy wrote about driving two hours to get this salad and that: “I want the baby out of her!” All in good fun.

Five hours later my daughter’s contractions began and less than 24 hours later she had delivered – Henry Arthur… Here’s a picture of me and the young whippersnapper!

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Meanwhile, heroic Big Red’s battery finally bit the dust. I had been having problems with the battery before I took off on the trip – not so much just the battery but the charging system. I had to jump start her twice since I’d gotten to LA. Today, after she failed to start, I had to get her towed over to the Harley dealer in Glendale. I’m at a Starbucks down the street, right now as I write. Hopefully, the bill won’t be too much.

Big Red and I both have still a few miles to travel left in us yet.