West 2020

Day 02

July 14

  This day will at least have some interesting riding at the end of it and I should be able to snag at least two of my eleven needed state line signs. Not one to wallow in the bed long, I'm up at O'darkthirty and on my way.  
  I'm headed pretty much due west on I40 but I manage to get a rear shot of sunrise. Pictures like this are more luck than skill but I'll take luck if I can get it.  
  The clouds in front are just starting to reflect the pinks and oranges of the sunrise happening behind me.  
  Soon I receive my 'Welcome to Texas' but since I already have a shot of BlueBelle at the Texas state line, I don't stop. This whole state line thing has gotten a lot easier over the years due to technology. It used to be I would figure a couple of places where a major highway crossed the state line and head for those. With Google Earth and Bing web sites, I can now zoom in and see if there is a sign and if there is a safe place to take a picture of the bike. I still plan on at least two places because I have seen the time when construction or an accident has removed the sign or placed it out of reach. I also like to use that technology to see the neighborhood where the motel is located and what's nearby.  
  Though the sky does not look favorable, I see a hole in the clouds and have hope that I will stay dry. You realize on the road that a lot of stuff is a gamble and you just have to take the 'vulgarities' of the road as they come.  
  As I make my way across Texas, I see some more of those pesky 'mushrooms' sprouting up over the plains.  
  Further along are some abandoned grain facilities slowly rusting away.  
  When I am trying to makes miles like I am on this trip, I usually like to stop at a Loves, Flying J or Pilot truck stop. They have plenty of clean rest room facilities and usually a good stock of drinks and snacks that see plenty of turn over. And quite often they have an inside fast food restaurant of some sort. This one has a Subway so it will do nicely for breakfast fare.  
  Once again I dine out since I can't dine in due to the Covid restrictions in this part of the country. Subway has a decent toasted breakfast sandwich and some orange juice and chocolate milk do a fine job of washing it down.  
  With that matter taken care of, I'm back at the slab slaying. I see two types of soldiers on a line here - one side with waving arms, the other side standing at strict attention.  
  Then I see the old fashioned version of the wind mill that appears to be in good working order. These are usually used to pump water up from the depths to water the cow troughs. To me, they are bit more artistic than the three pronged tall ones that generate sparks and often kill birds.  
  Soon it's a quick rip through Amarillo right in the heart of the Texas Panhandle.  
  It is interesting when you get a view of the power generating ones lined up. It reminds me sort of a line of chorus girls or the Rockettes doing their show as the blades rotate in interesting patterns when observed head on.  
  Finally I arrive at my first new state line of the trip - New Mexico. It's pretty impressive to me, sort of on the scale of the Minnesota state line signs. There's a smaller metal one further along, but this one suits me just fine and there is a safe place to pull off. I usually carry two cameras when I am collecting signs just for backup. I will take around 4 pictures of each sign with each camera from different angles and views. Then when I get back, I sort through them and pick the one I like the best to post on the state line page for the bike.  
  Before long I see my first butte or mesa (I'm still confused as to which one is which) for the day.  
  New Mexico (at least in this part) is pretty dry and rugged - a big change from the green and humid state of Tennessee.  
  While I ride, I am constantly looking around me for things that pique my interest. I see this abandoned homestead and wonder what the story is behind it. Someone dedicated a lot of effort and time to build it so it meant something to someone at one time. And yet it lies empty and decaying now and I wonder what it would say if it could speak in a language I could understand.  
  I find the variations of Covid enforcement amazing as I travel around the country. In some places you would not know there was a problem. Then one state over there are serious fines - $300 - if you enter into a store without a mask. I have to wonder is it really about safety or is it just another revenue grab by a local government?  
  But at least in the construction zones you can keep pretty well self-isolated and six feet apart.  
  As I ply my way across I40, I see towns and places everywhere trying to cash in on the Route 66 mystique. The construction of I40 'ate' most of Route 66 but anywhere there's a little piece of the old highway, someone is trying to merchandise it.  
  As the day draws to a close, I finally make it to lovely highway 550. This is the same road that is dubbed 'The Million Dollar Highway' when it crosses into Colorado.  
  The landscape is a constant changing variety of dusty browns ...  
  dramatic reds ...  
  and all combinations in between.  
  This almost looks like two aliens peeking up over the ridge to see what is happening along the highway.  
  Then you come across gray stone monoliths jutting up from the prairie almost like ancient pyramids.  
  This part of Highway 550 is pretty straight as far as you can see, but not so much once it hits the mountains of Colorado.  
  I spy an old iron bridge that they left standing which was once part of the old road. Usually they remove them as part of the construction process but I guess they left well enough alone in this case.  
  Soon I am at my next state line - Colorado. There's a good parking place so I can safely get the pictures that I want. At the pull through there is a black sheriff's car sitting, carefully observing me. My first thought is wondering if he is from the Colorado side or the New Mexico side. My next thought is wondering if he is going to stop me and ask about Covid and where I've been. I pull carefully down a little bit to a side street that lines up with the pull through. Doing my best lawful citizen imitation, I pull past him and head back to New Mexico. He stays put and I stay thankful for it.  
  Before long I'm at the Super 8 in Bloomfield, New Mexico. I used to stay at Motel 6s but they got so cheap and their bath towels became the size of hand towels. Super 8s and most Wyndham properties are reasonably well managed and kept up, so they are my current place of choice.  
  For once, I decide that I will take advantage of the veteran's parking spot. I did my time back in 71-73 in the USMC so I reckon that I qualify.  
  Tonight I am dining with the Colonel and the Hostess. It ain't bad for a New Mexico version of a Kentucky favorite. I don't know the secret, but I still prefer KFC chicken above all others - except the chicken my lovely wife cooks for me.  
  This day has been a little shorter - only 670 miles, but I am ready for the snoozer. Tomorrow will be one of the longest days of the ride and a lot of it will be on two lane. I figure I'd best get as much rest as I can cause I am gonna need it before the day ends tomorrow. With that in the old computer, I power off all systems and the lights go out.