Sunday, July 8, 2007

Western Mountain Ride - Day 1

I left the house this morning before 8:00 AM (not sure of exact time) and made my usual first stop at exit 91 off of I-45 in Conroe. It's the perfect distance from the house to make a pit stop, top off the gas tank, and get a breakfast snack. From there it's precisely a tank's worth of gas to the Love's Truck Stop just before the I-20 Interchange outside of Dallas, the last easy off-easy on gas opportunity before the Metro-Mess).

As I was gearing up to depart the Love's near Dallas, a fellow walked by, and pointed to the black clouds off to the east. "Better have your raingear handy." I wear textiles when I ride, so don't need rain gear, but thanked him anyway.

As soon as I got onto I-30 it started to rain. By the time I took the 35E exit it was raining hard. So hard, I missed the split at 35/635 and ended up headed east on 635. I realized the mistake before the GPS so kindly pointed it out to me, but had to let an exit go by before I could work my way over into the right lane in heavy traffic and heavy rain. Oh Joy! The intersection at the underpass was under about a foot of water. But even as I sat at the light to turn left to go through that mess, the rain had let up and the water was receding rapidly.

Back on track, it was an uneventful ride up 35E to 35 and to the Oklahoma border. I saw the state welcome sign and slowed to pull onto the shoulder for my AMA "I've Been Everywhere" photo op. Got it, then pulled back onto the interstate to continue to Ardmore, the next AMA photo op stop.

My Ardmore goal was the post office one block off the main street in the little downtown area. Being new to the GPS, I had written my usual "cheat sheets" and put them into my tank bag. But my GPS gal, Jill, hasn't been wrong yet, so I'm growing to trust her some.

"Turn right at Avenue B." Correct. I turned right. "Turn right at 1st Street and then turn left." Well....I can see the old post office there on the corner, and I'm not too sure about that turning right part, but I obey, and turn right and see a small driveway tucked behind the post office building. I turned in, and find myself in the back of the post office, with loading docks and mail trucks....and parking spots. This is definitely not what I need. So I exit the post office, but I'm trapped in a maze of one-way streets and must go around the block, back onto the main street and back to Avenue B. Jill, my GPS lady, is going nuts trying to recalculate, because Ithese are small town blocks, so the turns are coming up quick. Back to the intersection fo Ave B and 1st Street, I park right in front of the post office in a no parking area (heck, it's Sunday and there is virtually no traffic) and get my photo with the Ardmore, OK name clearly visible behind the motorcycle and little AMA flag.

That done, I head back toward I-35, getting gas and grabbing a quick Burger King before hitting the highway again. I will need one more gas stop before reaching Wichita, and find a Love's just before the KS border. Next stop, a photo op in Wichita, before heading to the hotel.

I had researched and found a post office just two blocks off of I-135 on the south side of Wichita so, finding my exit, I head to the designated location, only to discover that nowhere on the building did it say "Wichita". It said United States Post Office, and it said something about a station, but not the word "Wichita." Okay, on to plan B, only there is no plan B, so I decide to just continue up the interstate until I get near the downtown area and then get off and cruise looking for a municipal building or similar. As I neared the downtown area, I spied a Kansas University Medical Center facility, but too late to take that exit so continued to the next exit and worked my way back on local streets. The parking lot was deserted, the sign was right there next to the entrance, so I pulled in, did a U-turn, and parked right at the sign and took the photo.

The hotel I'd picked out was just 4 exits up from there, so I was pulling into their lot at 6:30 PM. Not bad for 625 miles and 10.5 hours, with some dilly dally AMA photo op stops along the way. Tomorrow I head toward Selina, then onto I-70 for awhile, before getting off to ride local roads north, past Nicodemus NHS for a national park stamp, and continuing north to I-80, where I'll stop for the night in Stanley, NE.

Post-script to today's ride: The Oklahoma welcome sign is not in focus, but the flag and rearview mirror on my bike are in sharp, crisp focus. Not acceptable, as the word "Oklahoma" is not legible. I will have two more opportunities to get an Oklahoma welcome sign (here's hoping for good results!). The word "Wichita" on the medical center sign is kind of small, even though it's mostly in focus. I noticed, when I got back onto the interstate after taking that photo, that the Wichita State University campus was the next exit up, just 8 miles of backtracking from the hotel tomorrow morning and should result in a better photo.

No comments:

Post a Comment