Day 3
June 15th, 2005
Meade State Park
Near, Meade, Kansas

After a good nights sleep I was striking camp in the early morning light.  Clouds were gathering in the west, but none looked like they harbored rain.

When I staggered out of my tent I saw my Rubbermaid box laying on the ground empty.  A raccoon had somehow worked it open and stole all my bread for peanut butter jelly.  How he opened I don't know, its hard even for ME to pry open sometimes.  I could see where he jumped up on the seat of the 1300 sniffing my saddlebag, he KNEW I had PB and J inside.  Fortunately he didn't scratch anything.  I thought about that last night before going to bed, but figured my bread was ok, that he could never get it open.  Shows what I know.
Luckily, I had just bought a loaf of bread so I restocked it.  I knew the bread would stay fresh for days in my box, and I'd keep the balance to draw from till it got stale.  If I had to throw some away, it would be no big loss, what does bread go for?  Buck 75 a loaf?

The campsite had electric outlets so I was able to charge my phone, it was back to full bars.

I finished loading and packing in 30 minutes.  I'm pretty good after all these miles and years.  I'm starting to get in the road groove now.  I slipped out of the campground before 7, looking forward to the day's ride.  My goal is Walsenburg, Colorado, a medium size city on the Front Range.  I'd already put down the longest 2 days of the west bound leg, and now have SIX days to get to California.  I won't be setting any records this tour, but plan on having lots of fun.  Riding is far more enjoyable when you don't HAVE to be at the next stopping point by a certain time.

SR 23 ferried me north back into Meade, to hook up with U.S. 160 West.  I went by the fields and saw farmers on tractors already out plowing.  The town was still asleep, but I managed to find a con store on the west end to bring the gas tank off 2 bars.  

My gas tank was full, time to put down some miles.  As expected the wind was blowing.  There are no trees, or other wind breaks this deep on the Great Plains.  I counter leaned the Honda to my left to compensate.  The cross wind was not overly strong, but steady.

U.S. 160 makes a hard turn north when it joins up with U.S. 83 in the middle of nowhere.  Flashing lights warn you to begin slowing down a half mile from the intersection.  A good idea after dropping the last 50 miles or so at 90 mph.

While riding north the annoying crosswind became a nice tailwind.

Traveling across, and through the Great Plains you have to like yourself.  It can get so lonely out here.  I was singing songs, and thinking about the most rudimentary of things.  I thought back to my time in the U.K. and what my friends there would think of riding in such wide open spaces.  Wide, smooth roads, that transport you as fast as you feel like going.  I thought about all the dumb stuff I use to see while working in the fire department, and how people do the damndest things.

I came to Ulysses after 125 miles; time for my morning break.  I was in Grant County so it made sense to have a city named after the general.  The city is one of the biggest in this region, but only when judged to others in the area.  A few red lights, con stores, and trucking depots is all that is there.  I found a con store on the west side of town and came off the highway.  I made my customary sandwich, bought a diet Dew, and sat down in a booth.  It is always good when you find a store with a few booths.  

Debbie was just getting to work when I called.  She said everything was fine at home, but it was getting kind of dry.  I sent my son a text, and picked up a discarded local paper off the table in front.  I scanned it and discovered a tornado came through here a few days ago (probably the same system that whipped through Ark) it tore up one of the local schools.  After inspecting the damage, a contractor said the only thing he needed to fix the building "was a bulldozer."

The restroom had a bare light switch with wires hanging out, that I feared would light me up if I had to touch it with wet hands, because no paper towels were in the rack.  Instead of risking it, I just left it on.
The break was nice, but it was time to get moving.

From Ulysses I continued west across the featureless landscape, the only thing interesting was the occasional town.  All morning I'd been struggling to keep the 1300 in check.  It wanted to run 100, but I couldn't risk it.  Out here they put you in jail for such stuff.

Passing through Manter, I noticed there were more people in the cemetery than in the town.  Never a good sign of prosperity.

At the state line I was halted in a construction zone.  

I crossed into Colorado, looking forward to my first glimpse of the mountains.  I estimated I was still 50 or 60 miles from that view.

Pritchett, Colorado is still there, and looks just like it did when I came through in 2002.  A faded and cracked sign on the east end of town celebrated the local school's state 1A basketball championship in 1974.  Who did they play?  This place is in the middle of lostville.

A realtors sign was stuck in the yard of a run down house on Main Street.  No telling how long it had been on the market.  People are not exactly clamoring to move here.

The only thing that had changed on the tennis court were the weeds; they were higher.  I still had the same burning question I had from 2002.  WHO THE HELL PLAYS TENNIS IN PRITCHETT??  

Quiet.  It was eerily silent at this lonesome place lost in the vastness of the Front Range.  I could only hear the wind blowing.  It came and went in small gusts, and rattled the clothes on a line at a house across the street.
​On the scene in Pritchett, Colorado
I was sitting on the table eating Twizllers when a loud clang broke the silence.  A man working on a John Deere combine dropped something, it was so quiet here the sound probably carried for miles.

After a few pictures I was back on my way.  A Long Rider can only take so much excitement in one day.
A bare headed cruiser rider loomed up ahead.  I could hear the pipes a quarter mile away.  His legs were splayed on highway pegs.  He wore a tank top with no sleeves, he had no fairing or wind screen, just him and the wind.  Don't I feel wimpy in my fancy Arai, ear plugs, adjustable wind protection, quiet, smooth motor, with a 7.8 gallon gas tank, and Roadcrafter riding suit.  Oh well, to each his own, I waved when I came around and he returned the signal.

By the time I came into Kim I was on 2 bars.  I blew by the only gas station and spent a few miles thinking about what I just did.  The sign said the next town was 65 miles, I figured I was good for it.  Then I thought about the empty miles ahead, and decided there was no reason to cut it close.  Running out of gas way out here would really suck.  I went to the general store looking thing and pulled to the single pump.  All it offered was 87 octane.  Low for a 1300, so I only bought 5 bucks worth.  All I needed was just a little insurance to get me to Trinidad.

A nearby house had a his and her garage door.  I wondered how that worked.

Back on the road I saw a object ahead.  I was in open range country, and backed off from the indicated 90 mph I was doing.  I thought it was a cow, but when I came closer it was a joker on a bicycle.  I know about bicycles, he was working against a stiff crosswind, that I'm sure sometimes shifted to a headwind.  I wanted to know where he was pedaling to, but kept going.

Brothers, there was NOT a single thing between Kim and Trinidad. 

I caught my first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains, and my spirits lifted.  There they are! I kept repeating in my head.  I'm always excited to see them, for then I know I'll soon be leaving the Great Plains.
​A nearby house had a his and her garage door.  I wondered how that worked.
​"I caught my first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains"
I saw rain off to south, and was glad to be going west.

By the time I got to Trinidad some serious rain clouds were in the west and south.  I found a Burger King and stopped to size up options.  It was raining south and west of my present location, but north to Walsenburg looked ok.  I wanted to ride SR 12 into the mountains, but no can do.  It was dark and stormy for sure there.  They can be tough on a good day, don't need to make it any more difficult.   

When I finished referring to my atlas, I decided to go north to Walsenburg and hold up  while the rain passes over.  No need to take a shellacking in a mountain storm when you don't have to.   I'll just have to do SR 12 another day.  There will be other tours.  I went to I-25 north, and out ran the rain to Walsenburg.  I could see the snow capped mountains to the west.  They are beautiful.  I entered the town, and found a Mexican Cantina and had Southwest grilled chicken and Spanish rice.  A nice meal.

It was a early afternoon and I was already at my destination.  I went through town to Lathrop State Park, and paid my fees for the privilege of camping in such beautiful country.

I covered 326 miles today.  

The mountains were only a few miles away, and it looked really dark and nasty over there.  I set my tent up, and with nothing better to do, went inside for a 30 minute nap.  

Lathrop is a great park.  It is situated in the cradle of the mountains, and offers a excellent views of their summits and slopes.
​The view at Lathrop State Park
I took a stroll over to the park office to use the vending machines, about a quarter mile walk.  I was coming through the reception area, when I saw several people in line for something.  

"so whats going on?"

A guy pointed at a sign.  It read the Bird watching video was a going to fire up at 5pm.  "we're gonna watch the video."

"Really?  You mean ya gonna see a video on how to watch birds?"  How hard could it be?  So there ain't nothing else to do?

"Oh no its really quite difficult, ya gotta know all kinds of stuff to be good at it."

"I bet."

I continued on and bought 2 drinks, I came through on the way back when a female ranger accosted me just outside the small theatre lobby.  "So you want to watch the video?'

"nah baby, DON'T think I'll be making that movie."

When I returned to the tent I slipped on my running stuff and GPS watch and went for a run.  I took off down the road that hugged the perimeter of the lake.  I ran 2.5 miles out and back, for a total of 5 miles.  Felt good, but my Asics running shoes are about done for.  I have 4 pair at home, I took my worst pair so in case I forget them somewhere, it would be no big deal. 

​Lathrop State Park Campsite
Before going for a shower I debugged the 1300, and cleaned it up the best I could.  I'll check tire pressure in the morning when the tires are cool.

Supper was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, ramean noodles (cooked on small stove a reader sent me) baked chips, and some fat free candy.  Despite how it sounds, it was filling and tasty.  It was a long walk to the showers, almost a mile each way.  I figured the extra miles were good for me.  I talked to Debbie on the way back to the campsite.

My son also called me-

"So where ya at?"

"Walsenburg, Colorado"

"Anything there?"

"I dunno bout that, but I'll say this-they like birds.  They got people lining up to watch a video on bird watching"

"Oh man, that's awesome"

I called Uncle Phil who checked the radar for the area.  It was raining hard in the mountains.  He said it was a good idea not to try to enter them today.  I told him I made it to where I wanted, but I had to alter routes to get here.  He advised a couple of showers might blow over me tonight.  Hearing that news, I secured everything before going to bed.  I stay up late when I'm home, but on the road I sometimes go to bed early.

Another good day went in the books.  I put my adapter on my phone and listened to a FM station from who knows where.  I didn't last long and fell asleep.