Yesterday was one of beauty and nature's power. The next two days will be spent (mostly) covering the last remaining 1100 miles to home.
In the morning, clean riding pants and jacket and dirty bike headed out of the hotel parking lot toward I-40 and, a few exits later, Petrified Forest National Park. It was a stamp-and-run this time. Several years ago I rode the entire park, including all of the turnouts and view points, visited the museum, the Painted Desert Inn. But today I really was eager to get as close to home as I could. I hoped to make it at least to Lubbock for the night.
Once in New Mexico, my next stop was the Visitor Center in Grants, NM, a joint BLM/National Parks agencies facility where I got a couple of more stamps, and then some gas and a quick snack in town before continuing on. I-40 has nothing but a 75 mph speed limit going for it and I really, really wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. Only the pass through the east side of Albuquerque could provide a bit of diversion from the boredom that is this interstate.
In Santa Rosa, I exited I-40 onto U.S. 84, which took me through plenty of little railroad towns in NM and TX and brought me closer to Lubbock. It was flat and dusty and hot and I had only my XM radio to keep my mind off of the misery that I was experiencing just trying to get home.
I had no reservations and no plans for tonight's lodging but as I neared Lubbock I knew that I could go no further today so started browsing the GPS for possible hotels. Hampton Inn seemed likely so I followed the GPS to that exit, pulled up to the hotel, only to find out that it, the other Hampton Inn in town, and all of the hotels in that vicinity were fully booked. The desk clerk was very nice and helpful by calling other nearby hotels for me, but could not come up with anything. I knew there was a cluster of hotels on I-27 near the south loop so I got back on the bike and let the GPS lead me in that direction. The first hotel I came to in that row of properties was a Quality Inn. Small, but clean and neat on the outside, I went inside and easily booked a room and at a price probably 1/2 what the Hampton Inn would have cost.
The adorable gal behind the counter was so sweet and helpful. And the room was large, very clean, and very well appointed. PLUS, there was a little "happy hour" going on in the breakfast room: Chips, salsa, beer, and soft drinks. It would close up in 1/2 hour so I hurried to my room, changed into shorts, splashed some water on my face, and headed back down to load up a plate of salsa, chips and nice icy cold Diet Coke and brought it back to my room to share with my Subway sandwich that I'd picked up earlier on the road. Exactly what I needed!! Sometimes things work out for the best!
Thursday morning and I have 550 miles remaining before I can pull into my own driveway, sleep in my own bed. Quite an incentive to stay in the saddle!!
I was pulling into my garage at 4:45 PM! It was a very long trip! But very satisfying! And I saw many new-to-me national parks, had a really terrific time - perhaps the best ever - at the BMW rally, saw some friends, made new ones. This trip is right up there with the best for me!
24 national park stamps