Picking up where I left off, immediately after the thunderstorm line blew through North Platte, there was a dramatic change. The air was 20 degrees cooler, the humidity dropped by about 35 points, and there was this awesome color and texture to the sky.
Tuesday dawns clear, beautiful, and actually chilly, for the first time in days. I haven’t really been chilly since I left Lubbock, TX. I head west on I‑80, actually using the grip heaters and jacket liner. Here is a pic of my cockpit:
GPS on the top, a Garmin Streetpilot 2720, old but it get’s the job done. Below that is the KTM dash. The left-hand knob is the heat control for my jacket liner (plus pants liner if its really cold). The LED next to it flashes to tell me how far i’ve got the heat turned up. The KTM digital speedo and ODO is next. It has two trip meters, I use #1 to track miles on the current tank, and #2 to track total miles for the day. I use the trip computer in the GPS to track total miles for the trip. The tachometer is obvious, the LED above it is a voltage monitor: green is good, yellow and red means that voltage is dropping. So far, I’ve not had an issue with alternator capacity. The right-hand knob and LED is a similar control to the one on the left, but this one controls the heated grips. And on top of my tankbag, a paper map of the state-of-the-day. That give me a way of seeing an overview in addition the detail the GPS gives me. It works out pretty well.
I cut northwest up to Scottsbluff, NE to visit my parents gravesites and to have lunch with my favorite uncle, Mike. I get to town and ring him up. Well, it turn out that the same storm front had been through the panhandle of Nebraska the day before, only it had dropped golf ball to baseball-sized hail. My uncle is in the roofing business, so he was way busy, and 45 miles south, in Kimball. So I drive out to the cemetery, wondering as I approach the gate, how hard it will be to find the grave sites. But my mind has a picture of the site, and I know which way they face, and I ride right to them. They are well kept and just as I remember. A few minutes reflection on everything they gave me and did for me seemed appropriate; dad taught me the value of hard work and integrity, and mom taught me the value of belief in yourself and careful planning. I miss them. But I leave thinking that they’d both be pretty happy with the son they raised.
I blast down the road to Kimball, and find my uncle walking around on top of the town bakery. We have lunch and a nice chat. I gotta keep in better touch with him. Resolution #625!
From there, it was an uneventful couple of hours to Fort Collins, to visit Flash and Beth. I get to the address in the GPS, and have a sudden memory problem: I remembered the address as 1516, but the GPS is programmed for 1416. But at 1416, I run out of road. I slowly ride around the corner, thinking the patio on the place looks familiar, then I see an old white Alfa Romeo in the driveway: yep that’s the place! (Beth is a rabid Italian car and motorcycle fanantic). There’s ducati’s (and cagivas and guzzis and.…) in that there garage.
Quick unload, change clothes, and I help myself to a beer from the beer fridge (as instructed: “there, now you know where it is, get yer own damn beers” – flash), a Fat Tire ale, from New Belgium brewery. Flash comments that I chose well. I say that Fat Tire and 1554 are staples of our beer inventory at home. He says ‘you wanna go visit the brewery’. Sure, I say. So we go off on a short brewery tour. I forgot my camera, so here are a couple of cell phone shots that flash kindly took.
You will notice that i’m holding the growler with both hands. There’s two reasons for that; it’s really good beer, and therefore important, and i’ve been sampling beers with some amount of abandon and am now somewhat drunk. That also explains (at least partly) the stupid grin.