Walkabout day 18: family past and present, and seeing mountains again

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.

About the Author

Jim Harriger