September 16, 2003 GMT
Day 13

Day 13

Westminster, Colorado to Westminster, Colorado

106 miles

2864 total miles

Another day of perfect sunshine!

We decided to give Laurel a break and make it an easy day. Our agenda included a trip to Boulder, Colorado.

Power poles painted the same color as the mountains ouside Denver

The route took us past a mysterious Department of Energy facility isolated on a large piece of expensive Colorado land. We thought about taking a photo but decided not to. A few months ago during a trip to North Carolina, we drove into a nuclear power plant site thinking it would make a good picture. The guards, with automatic weapons thought otherwise. We figured that if we tried it again black helicopters would swoop down and take us to Washington for a sit-down with John Ashcroft.

In Boulder we would tour of the Celestial Seasonings factory, have a late lunch and then a couple of hours of light riding through the foothills of the Rockies on our sweep back to Denver.

But first, we thought it might be a good idea to tell you a bit about our motorcycles.

Bill drives a 1998 BMW R1100RT. This is a touring bike, with a plastic fairing covering the front of the bike and the engine. It has a twin cylinder 1100 cc engine delivering 85 horsepower. It is equipped with two hard side cases and a tail case. It weighs roughly 650 pounds fully gassed without rider and luggage.

Bo drives a 2000 BMW R1100R. This type bike is called a standard. It has no fairing and is not actually designed for touring. It has the same engine as Bill's but is tuned for 80 horsepower. Two hard side cases, a tailcase and a windshield have been added so it tours well. It weighs 530 pounds fully gassed without rider and luggage.

The bikes have anti-lock brake systems, which gives us both a lot of confidence on the road. The bikes also have five-speed transmissions connected to a shaft drive.

Both bikes are equipped with Autocom voice-activated radio communications systems. We can talk back and forth quite easily while on the road. We each have Apple iPods connected to our Autocoms. Each helmet is fitted with a microphone and we each have earphones custom made to fit our ears. The earphones also serve to block out wind noise, which can be very loud when at highway speed. Even at highway speeds the quality of the music through this system is as good as either of us have had on our home stereo systems.

To make ourselves more conspicuous on the road, we have each added modulators that make our headlights pulse, rear flashing brake lights and front fork mounted motolights that, coupled with the headlight, creates a big triangle of light.

For comfort, we have each added custom seats, a second set of foot pegs that are located about a foot in front of the regular pegs (used to stretch out a bit when on a long highway run - they were a blessing in Kansas) and a device that allows us to rest our throttle hand a bit while on a long highway run.

Now, back to the journey.

The ride from Westminster to Boulder was only about 18 miles. Boulder, home of the University of Colorado, is a typical college town. UC has a large campus, so students on bicycles were everywhere.

Bill used his GPS to take us directly to the Celestial Seasonings corporate offices and factory. The factory, which is not all that big, produces every bit of the Celestial Seasonings products sold worldwide.

Everyone taking the plant tour was required to wear a hairnet. Those of you who know Bo will recognize the irony in that. The tour started with a short video which detailed the history of the company and also engaged in some not-so-subtle salesmanship. After the video, our tour guide, Cherie, asked the group which Celestial Seasonings tea was the biggest seller. Bill raised his hand and answered, "Sleepytime." Cherie was pleased and Bill won a book on herbs authored by the founder of the company.

Cherie at the tour's start (before the book)

One of the best things about the tour were the smells. Herbs and spices from 35 countries are stored in the factory. The smells were overwhelming, but very nice. We then entered a sealed room called the "peppermint room." They store peppermint and spearmint separately because their strong smells would cause the other spices and herbs to acquire a peppermint and spearmint flavor. Within seconds of entering the room our eyes were watering and we were literally breathing peppermint. No one who works in the peppermint room has a sinus condition. We lasted about a minute in there. The production floor relied heavily on robotics. The plant floor looked like a great place to work. We couldn't help but notice the music blaring over the loudspeakers: Sweet Home Alabama.

After the tour we enjoyed their herbal tea tasting room and were then on our way.


Our next stop was Lucile's, a local cajun restaurant. The food was really good and the homemade ketchup was a real highlight (when living on road food the little things - like homemade ketchup - have added significance).


We exited the foothills via Clear Creek Canyon, a beautiful steep walled rock canyon through which ran by a beautiful fishy looking stream. The repeated tugs at our fly rods seem to be consistently overpowered by the allure of gasoline and rubber. We keep riding. We'll fish later...maybe.

Clear Creek Canyon

For dinner we went to a really good mexican restaurant owned and operated by three generations of an asian family. The teenagers were waiting tables, the parents were working the cash register and the barefooted grandfather was sitting at a table working on a laptop computer and bouncing his happy baby grandchild on his knee. Only in America.

Tomorrow we head for southwest Colorado and the San Juan Mountains.

Sunset from our hotel's deck

Posted by Bill Thompson at September 16, 2003 05:26 AM GMT

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