Monday, August 11, 2014
Based on what our noses were telling us, Liberal, Kansas must be a cow town of sorts… As the sun rose, the super moon was on its way down in the western sky. The night had been rain free, so we were looking forward to good progress on the TAT today. We had a 250 day in front of us, so efficiency was in order.
When we split off the highway to hit the first unpaved section of the TAT, we ran into an older farmer walking his dog. We slowed down and chatted with him as his dog was checking us out. He asked us if we were enjoying our trip and in response we asked how he was doing. He said, “I’m just trying to stay alive and getting a little exercise.” When he found out that we were from Oregon, he commented that he had heard Oregon was beautiful, but he was sure he would never make it there before he died…
We motored ahead on wonderful unpaved roads and it seemed like we could see forever. The miles passed as we zig-zagged through the Oklahoma panhandle. Temperatures started in low 70s and gradually climbed as the hours passed and the sun took a more vertical position in the sky.
The landscape was largely farming; dryland, centerpivot, pastureland, and lots of hogs. The above image has been reduced to make upload easy; however, what is difficult to see are 65 hog buildings (Kendrick counted) sprinkled across the horizon.
Then we started seeing the animals: one more turtle, beetles, herds of antelope, and lots of bull snakes.
We made it to Boise City for lunch and found the Angel Cafe. We searching for a place to eat by looking for where the pickup trucks are parked. Because we arrived slightly before lunch, we got a table right away and that’s a good thing as it was packed by 12:00pm. Chicken enchiladas, beans, rice, and a salad was recharge material for what we would soon tackle.
We started noticing standing water in the fields, puddles in the roadway (both paved and unpaved roads), and softening road conditions. So, we asked our waitress when it last rained and she responded “last night”. Okay, time to heighten our sense of caution again. Lunch was a good break and we still had many miles to go in order to reach Trinidad, Colorado by the end of the day. This also included about 70 miles of TAT in New Mexico.
West of Boise City, Oklahoma we found muddy roads. Imagine that… We proceeded cautiously and navigated our way through the worst of it, mostly incident free.
One minute we were in Oklahoma, the next minute we were in New Mexico on the Santa Fe Trail. Kendrick managed to get some sort of stinging insect in his t-shirt and we did a little roadside medic exercises and he survived!
At the start of the New Mexico section, we had ~140 miles to Trinidad. We were in good shape time wise, so on we rolled! Although the shortest segment to date, New Mexico was the most desolate (least amount of other humans) and really quite spectacular. The high plains started rolling into more pronounced hills as we trekked north and west towards Colorado.
We spent miles riding through the Pacheco Ranch. What a neat piece of property. We wanted to stop and take a picture of the homestead, as we rode right through the middle of it small campus of home and ranch buildings, yet we also wanted to minimize our intrusion into their space. We left the same way we came, with virtually no trace minus the three narrow pairs of motorcycle tire tracks.
One water crossing and more mud, but we managed to travel through uneventfully.
Before we knew it, we were riding in Colorado. New Mexico truly is the Land of Enchantment and a really fun segment of the TAT. One more state could be marked off the TAT list.
Colorado is home to the mountains. Almost immediately we began seeing large mountains. The riding was fast and dry, so we made it into Trinidad well before dark. We wrapped up the day with wood-fired pizza at Bella Luna Pizzeria. A great treat another foodstop worth making!
Today we conquered sections of the TAT! 248 miles of riding and full tummies meant sleep would be no issue.