Omaha, Nebraska to North Dakota, errrr, Wichita, Kansas
Woke up fairly groggy from the night before and turned on the Weather Channel. I suppose I should have rolled out from under the covers and walked across the dreary, mostly yellow decorated room (the walls, carpet, furnishings all had various forms of that color – as do just about all La Quintas) lifted the window and looked outside, which revealed a cheery scene – it was so grey as to be almost dark and pouring rain.
The temperatures in the Dakotas were in the low 30’s and there was snow forecasted off and on for most of the week. I’ve ridden through plenty of weather but October snow in the Dakotas THEN having to ride across Wyoming, Colorado and Utah was an absolute deal breaker. So I looked at the radar and decided to head south and do my best to stay where the temps were in the 70’s and 80’s. It’s great having enough time to simply abandon your trip plans and re-route to other interesting locations and places. You have to be a bit of a free thinker to just point the bike in another direction and just go. Most people spend considerable time thinking about the route prior to leaving and to scrap it entirely can be very difficult.
This would be another day of slab. Running from the cold and the rain. You will notice that on the days were the weather was nasty or the trip mostly involved interstate there few pictures. Why record the pain of riding in the rain for 10 hours and the interstate in the mid-west all looks the same.
Somewhere in Kansas
More of the same but the weather is starting to improve. I love being able to look at the weather radar on my IPhone and plot routes that will take me out of the bad weather!
Somewhere in northeast Kansas I got on a Kansas Turnpike. Yes, I know that in a tip report you are supposed to post detailed route maps, Google Earth sat pictures, topo maps, and coordinates. You will have to forgive me as at this point I had only broadly figured out where I wanted to go. So detailed routes were not important to me. It was on this part of my trip I learned two interesting things. The first is to observe the nature of where you are. Kansas – Ok, what they have lots of in Kansas – WIDE OPEN SPACES. What else? Well not too many gas stations in the more rural parts. So when I got on this turnpike and banged the Futura into 6th gear the low fuel warning light came on. Crap! That sucks. I stabbed a finger at the Garmin and told it to find me a gas station. 35 miles….. What’s the range of this thing when the light comes on? About that, maybe, I’m not sure. Options? Turning around? No, it’s a similar distance…. Crap. Well in for a penny. There was NOTHING on this stretch of highway. Absolutely nothing but farmland. I made it to the fist exit about 20 miles up the road. Nice smiling older woman in the toll booth. “Where is the closest gas mam?” About 15 miles down the road she replied. “Anything closer? I’m in a bad way with fuel” Nope she replied. So now I’m rolling down a road in the middle of nowhere IN the middle of nowhere. No idea where I stand with fuel but worried. Doing 55 now and coasting down hills. Heck I say to myself I’ll just ask at a farm house if I run out. Of course that assumes that there are farmhouses with people in them. There is absolutely no one around, no cars, no cows, nothing. Down a long straight the bike coughs and dies. ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRG! Well I’ll figure this out and put down the kickstand and climb off. I take off my gloves and helmet and look around – silence and nothing. I walk around the front of the bike and crouch down to think looking at the front wheel. I’ve been off the bike in total for less than 2 minutes when over the hill come two Harley riders. Now this is the second thing I learned today. Although Harley guys usually won’t wave back at non Harley riders they absolutely WILL stop for another biker in distress. I’ve seen this now enough to be certain about it. So they pull up and I sheepishly tell them I ran out of gas. “Hop on” says one. So less than 4 minutes after running out of gas I’m on the back of a Harley headed towards a gas station! Talk about being grateful! Man!
It’s hard to hang on to the back of the bike as there is no back rest and I feel that any moment I might slide off, Then again I feel a bit weird about hanging on to someone I don’t know and most of all I’m worried about people seeing two six foot guys in black leather holding on to each other…. I’d rather fall off. Anyway, we get to the gas station where they have an unusually large supply of red plastic gas cans. So I buy one and fill it with gas and we toss it into the Harley’s saddle bag and head back to my bike. We chat a bit about riding and I tell him a good friend was raised in Lawrence, Kansas. This elicits a response as apparently he is from a rival town whose football teams face each other and he makes a few good natured insults about the smell in Lawrence, and why the football teams suck, etc.
We get back to my bike and I fill up and the bike immediately starts. One guy has a new Zumo and we compare it to my Nuvi. Almost identical displays and menus except of course, for the Zumo being waterproof. I cannot thank these guys enough for saving me and convince them to keep the gascan – as one says it might come in handy at some point and it fits perfectly in his saddle bag. I fire up the bike and head for the gas station vowing to go out of the way to help any other biker I see to return the favor – and many weeks later I will.
As you can see from the picture I finally rode out of the bad weather and it was actually starting to turn nice. I make it into Witchita early evening and try to find an affordable place to stay for the night. For whatever reason I decided to spend a bit more and hit a Courtyard Marriott. Fantastic room with a gigantic big screen HD TV, great view and bed. This is the only place I stayed during the entire trip that had “a free hot breakfast” that was actually worth a crap. Waiters and fresh juice and a breakfast buffett that was actually filled with food I wanted to eat. Packed up the bike and bid goodbye to Wichita.
Next – Wichita, Kansas to Amarillo, Texas