Monday, August 24, 2009

Wichita to Cheyenne

Interstate 80 here has a 75 MPH speed limit. Kansas is 70. You would think that 5 miles per hour would make little difference but it does. The bike and I want to go much faster anyhow, at least a hundred, but I think I can get away with about 78 so that is what I set it on. The traffic is moderate and I park it in the left lane for the most part because the right lane is more or less owned by the truckers whom I pass by the hundreds. I only know of one time that I got clocked by a state trooper. Construction zones came up a few times but were not too much of trouble. It is 609 miles from Wichita to Cheyenne. That is a pretty fair ride and it was in the mid 90s I guess. The wind was strong out of the south making the bike tack a little to the left as I attacked the distance. My brother and his wife were camping in their RV in Cheyenne I thought and it was my intention to visit them. They didn't know I was coming so when I got to Sidney, Nebraska I stopped for gas and called to let them know my intentions. They had moved that day to Helena, Montana. I was pretty tired so I thought I would just stay in Sidney so I checked out a few places but they wanted more than I was willing to pay. Motel six was about a hundred dollars. No way was I going to do that. Sidney is where Cabella's outfitters has their headquarters. I think that is why the rooms are so expensive. So I mounted up again after wasting an hour in a fruitless search and headed again into the westering sun.

Arriving in Cheyenne about four in the afternoon I cruised the main drag looking for a good place to overnight and eventually ended up at the Roadway Inn near I-25 on the west side of town. Here again as I was checking in I asked the desk clerk about a good place to have a drink that evening. She told me I should check out the Outlaw saloon just south of I-80 near down-town. After taking a shower and working a little on my equipment and gear I headed out at sunset for the Outlaw Saloon.

The Outlaw bar is country/western and there too I found some motorcycles. Parking next to these you could hear and see a band with the volume cranked way up. There was a patio there and an indoor/outdoor bar where I ordered a scotch and soda from the very tall and stout female bartender. The club was almost empty and what people there were were concentrated on the patio which was fairly pleasant in the early evening air. The best part about it was the music was at a little distance. It was too loud. Four ladies shared the bar with me. They were maybe in their late fifties. As I walked across the patio I locked eyes with an attractive brunette who was maybe 35 or so. I caught her looking at me. We exchanged greetings and she went to her table where she joined a small group. I took a place at the end of the bar leaving a space between me and the ladies.

Once I got served I walked around the patio, checking things out. A lone dancer, a guy, was whirling and jumping on the dance floor in something he no doubt thought was a dance. I thought it was the dance equivalent of the visual artist who is unconscious of the fact that his rendering of his profound vision is tantamount to a baby discovering he can play in the stuff in his diaper.

I turned away from the music putting my back to the bar. About that time a guy approached me from my right. I could see a name tag on his shirt that said "staff". He asked me if I knew the time saying he didn't have a watch. I had my left hand in my pocket. His time query was just a ruse so he could see the back of my left hand because when I pulled it out he said, glancing at my hand that I needed a stamp there. This bar had a cover charge. He said I needed to go pay so and so lady across the way five bucks. I said no thanks, that I would just leave instead. I didn't like the way he handled me. I didn't know there was a cover but, never mind. I didn't particularly like the place anyhow.

I rode the mile or so down town and parked in front of the Plains hotel. I love this place. It is a 1911 period piece. I walked through the lobby following the path of all those people who came before. There weren't but a couple of people around the lobby besides the doorman and a lone desk clerk. I wanted to go to the bar but I was also interested in staying the night at some point so I got the price. About $100. The bar was pretty active with a lot of people eating at their tables. There were two women at one end and a guy with the biggest black felt cow boy hat one is likely to run across. The bar was a beautiful piece of sculpted wood. It was dark coloured, but not too dark. You just wanted to touch it, rub on it. I sat down leaving one seat between me and the guy in the big hat. No sooner did I settle down than he warmly introduced himself as Don. I said my name is John. He said Don John. That's easy to remember. I laughed. I ordered my second scotch and soda for the evening at the same time greeting the bartender. He was pretty nice. His name was Artie and he drove a Budweiser beer truck for his day job. I commented on how many pounds he lifted per day and his retort was that it was tons not pounds. I thought he might be working his way through college but he said he wasn't in school at the time.

Meanwhile Don and I are talking too. He is actually a frequent guest of the hotel. Works for Makita, the tool people. He is of an age with me and we hit it off pretty well because he was also a fan of BMW motorcycles. He used to have an R90/6, he said. A 1974. I have a 76. These are fine machines. He said he made a twenty thousand dollar bet with a guy once on a race to New York City. His friend was a Harley guy. He lost. His bike broke down several times on the trek, but not the Beemer

We had a pretty good little party. I also talked a little across the bar to the two women on the end, when I could interject a quip, and the girl to my right, when her boy friend would absent himself for a moment, I engaged also. I thought they left once and when they came back she told me they had gone out to smoke. This gave me a chance to loudly declaim that the world must be truly changing because I was sure that the smoking Nazis would never find success in Wyoming of all places.

I turned over 100,000 miles today.

Cool picture of bike from my balcony. I took this the morning of my departure for Great Falls.

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