Oklahoma, Texas & New Mexico
We leave St Louis on Tuesday and arrive in Albuquerque on Thursday
Tuesday 14th April Ė St Louis to Tulsa via Lebanon (by Paul)
By now, Iíve realised that coming back up north has only ensured us more cold weather. Iíve delayed leaving the hotel as long as I can. Itís now after 9am and itís still pretty damned cool. In fact itís 39 degrees Fahrenheit or 3.9 C. Iíve got my layers of clothing on, so I should be right except for my hands. The first hour or so isnít too bad but after that my hands are numb and that is even with Billís over mitts on. I see a bike store alongside the highway, but he doesnít have any ďroadĒ gloves. Onya bike sunshine.
Today, we travelled along the old route 66 http://picasaweb.google.com.au/lh/photo/Nhn6wp9ErA5YMqgMG7rmKg?authkey=Gv1sRgCJGrm_Hyu9-rfw&feat=directlinkfor quite a while after leaving St Louis, but the stopping and starting at all the intersections only causes a reduced airflow through my helmet and so the visor starts to fog on this cold cold morning which means I have to ride with it open. Not a good option. Stuff it, back onto the main highway.
Eventually we make a little place called Lebanon... yessiree Bob, right smack dang in the middle of the good olí USA. We wheel in to our first roadside Ďdinerí though the owner Karyn advises me that itís a restaurant.
One very warm Aussie and a very frozen one wander in. A friendly chap sitting at the counter greets us as we pass him. I spy a heater and make straight for it. Iím so cold that I canít stop my whole body from shivering. Now how is this for a piece of really friendly American hospitality!! The chap (Donald Reeves)
at the counter comes over and hands me a little packet and saws to me ďrub this hereya in your hands and the more you rub it, the warmer it getsĒ. It was a hand/foot warmer from Wal Mart. He advises me to just put them in my gloves and my hands will be fine.
We order some burgers (I wanted soup) but because Summer is on the way, it wasnít available ??? Hello??? It didnít matter, the 4 good hot cups of coffee made up for it. The burgers were great too, so was Steveís lamb and mashed potato. I helped him to finish it off.
After lunch we sat around for a while (defrosting) and talking to some of the locals. We are guided to a photograph nicely mounted on the wall. Itís a picture of President Obama eating lunch in the same place as we. He called in unannounced last year during the election campaign. Karyn and the crew were given only 10 minutes notice that he was arriving. Now, weíre impressed. On top of that she pulls out a newspaper with it on the front page and gives it to me to keep. These country folk are real nice people. We also meet a couple of other blokes sitting in the next booth. One has been to Oz a few times with work and is a retired US Marine who rides a Harley. I hardly see any other bike on the road and I suspect any American found riding a Japanese bike would be deported.
After lunch we come out to clear blue skies and there is some strange yellow thing in the sky above us. It makes me feel all warm and gooey. Ahhh, how good is this. As we run down the highway to Oklahoma State, we come across our only Toll road so far. I think it is a miserly $3.30. We stop at an Information centre a short while after crossing the border and they provide us with free hot coffee and some brochures on Route 66 and a couple of booklets with discount coupons for accommodation.
Steve and I agree at the information centre that we would go past Tulsa and onto the next small town, Sapulpa. However, somewhere along the road he decides to go into Tulsa. Iím sure theyíve gone in just to find Gene Pitney and ask him if heís ever regretted going into that little cafe when he was only 24 hours from home. However, Iím not happy. Iíve been in the saddle for near on 10 hours while he has been in his warm car. Next thing he darts off into some side street while Iím in the middle of some main road. Gone!!! Lost !!! I head around the corner and wait. Nothing. 15 minutes go by and Iím a shag on a rock. Well, Iím off to Sapulpa as agreed to look for accommodation. Eventually we get back together. We finally find somewhere to stay at Broken Arrow and crash out after a long but really good day.
Wednesday 15th April Ė Tulsa to Amarillo (by Steve)
Morning broke on a cold but sunny day. We were up and at breakfast by a little after 8am. Our first stop was the outdoor shop that was located just below the hotel. This is the biggest outdoor shop either of us has ever seen. There is a waterfall, a huge fish pond with fish up to half a metre. There are no words.
We set off for Route 66, unfortunately we had to cross Tulsa to get to the starting point.
Our first stop was a small town named Chandler. We visited the Lincoln County Museum of Pioneer History which shows a lot of the local history.
We then decided it was time for morning tea and wandered down to the local cafe. Lots of locals in for their morning break. We munched away for half an hour and then it was back on the road. The next stop was Oklahoma City. Not really impressive, so we just motored through. Another short trip and we arrived at El Reno. Here Paul had his first exposure to Wal-Mart. His comment Ė ďjust a big K MartĒ. We had lunch here and as we were running out of time hit the road again. We set out for Elk City. We have now passed a number of wind generating farms. They are really big. On the way we stopped at the Cherokee shop. Lots of Indian artefacts, no Indians. We also had a look at the bison in the paddock behind the shop.
Oklahoma have a few toll roads and they also have the worst roads we've encountered so far. Bill, Paul may have picked up a traffic infringement at an unmaned toll gate. I gave him the $1.00 for the bike and after I went through he dropped his coin in but nothing happened. So he back pedals on the bike to allow a little old lady come through. She dropped her money in the slot and Paul quickly followed her through because he didn't have any more money on him at the time. Oh well.
Another short trip and we arrived at Elk City to have a look at the National Route 66 Museum. A tip for those planning on visiting this museum, arrive before 5pm because it is closed at 5. There were two Harleys sitting out the front of the museum but no riders. As we walked around we came across a couple who looked like they would fit nicely onto one of the Harleys. Yes, it was their bike, and they came from Sydney Ė Blakehurst. The other couple came from Marrickville. The two guys had arrived two and a half weeks ago, picked up their bikes and had ridden across the states to Chicago where their partners joined them. They were on their way back to Los Angeles. We talked to these four for 15 minutes and then back on the road again to complete the trip Ė 130 miles. We cross the border into Texas and finally arrived at Amarillo at 8pm. So we started at 9:30 and arrived at 8pm. A very long day on the road.
Dump the bags, then off to a very swish Japanese restaurant for dinner. Food was OK, but it was very expensive. Far too much food. Back at the motel by 10, but completely done in.
Thursday 16th April Ė Amarillo to Albuquerque (by Steve)
A very early start to the day. At breakfast by 7am. Paul wants to get the riding done as soon as possible. He thinks the winds get stronger in the afternoon making riding more difficult. We speared through Texas very quickly and then it was into New Mexico. The scenery changed dramatically today. Lots of very open plains with mountains in the background.
The morning ride was very comfortable in the car, but another uncomfortable one for Paul on the bike. He is becoming quite adept at riding at a 45 degree angle to the road. We stopped in at Santa Rosa for a refuel and lunch. Not a very large town, not much to write about. After lunch we set off for a set of Indian ruins at Pecos National Historical Park near Santa Fe. We got 30 miles down the road before Paul pulled me up. He pointed to the white capped mountains in the direction we where travelling and discussed the merits of riding a bike into the snow. Paul then headed off to Madrid (more on this below) while I headed off to the Pecos Park. More astounding scenery on the way and about an hour later arrived at the park.
This was a city of around 2,000 Indians which existed for hundreds of years. It was colonised by the Spanish coming in from Mexico looking for gold. They then brought the monks to turn the Indians into Catholics. This didnít work too well for the locals. After the Spanish the local Indians made the inhabitants life a misery. The walk took about an hour and then it was onto Santa Fe. The city has some fabulous architecture in the Spanish style. The local Catholic Church is really beautiful, and there is also the oldest Catholic Church in the USA. A quick look through the local Spanish markets and then it was off to Albuquerque for the over night stay.
Paul here...... Yep, as soon as I saw those white peaks in the distance, I thought ďI ainít having any of that stuffĒ and Iím mighty glad I did. For those of you thinking the name Madrid sounds familiar, I can only assume you have watched the movie Wild Hogs.
This is the little village where it was filmed. I rode the entire main street in about 1 minute flat at a staggering speed of 20mph. :-) I turned around and pulled up out front of Maggieís Diner. The diner was actually purpose built just for the movie and hasnít been used since. I noticed that there is a development application attached, asking for any objections to it being opened as a cafe/restaurant.
The little village was originally a coal mining town and it also did very nicely from turquoise mining. In later years the only people that lived there were hippies eking out a meagre existence from pottery and jewellery to passing visitors. However, since John Travolta and his gang have been there, they are seeing a large increase in tourists.
While I was there I met a lovely couple Al & Finley from Albuquerque. I stood in the sun in the main street talking to them for at least an hour and just letting the sun heat up my bones. I told them that we contemplating changing our route to include El Paso and the adjoining Mexican border town. They looked in horror. This is when they told me all about the drug cartels taking over the area and regular shootings in the streets in broad daylight. Al reckons, theyíd shoot me just to get the bike. So, weíll take their very timely advice and instead head from here to Sedona in Arizona. Itís nearly 600km.
If you google it, you will find it is home to some truly remarkable landscapes. Hereís hoping that damned wind stays down. Bill, you need to send me some new tyres for the bike please. You know the ones with the tread on the sidewall of the tyres instead of the bottom. I find that Iím wearing out the wall much more quickly. Oh, and while Iím at it, thank you for the advise on all the winds. Apparently we couldnít have picked a worse route for winds. This corridor that weíve been riding has the worst record of strong winds and tornadoes in the country apparently. Onya mate. ;-)
Anyway thatís it for today, I just wish I knew a good physio who could give me a good rub down right now. C ya
Posted by Paul Brealey at April 17, 2009 05:22 AM GMT