Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 2 - Vega

This morning we slept in a little as I was up past midnight working on a client issue. Yes, I was supposed to be on vacation but sometimes you've gotta do a little work for the greater good. Besides this way the client can't complain in October when I leave for a 2 week excursion out west to run around New Mexico.

We were out of the motel by 7:30. The instrument panel indicated I needed gas but said I had 40 miles left and since I have at least another 40 past that I decided to push on in hopes that I'd find a Shell or Exxon along the way. The route was simple, we headed up 83 to 380. We stopped in Aspermont around 8:50 at a local restaurant next door to a motel. We walked in about the same time that a few others did and the place was instantly filling up. Turns out there was a reunion in the next town over and many of them were coming to this restaurant for breakfast. I had oatmeal, toast, bacon and OJ. Reagan had coffee and an egg sandwich. Then it was time to get back on the road.

There was a discussion about whether we should back track to the other side of town and fill up or continue on. The gauge said we had around 15 miles left (it had reset since we left Abilene) and I knew I had another 40 past that. So we kept going.

From 380 we took 70 north out of Jayton. The only gas station in Jayton was closed. When we reached Spur I was pretty worried as I didn't think we'd have enough to make it to the next town. The GPS said there was a gas station just off our route outside of town. When we arrived they were closed on Sundays. So we headed back to 70 and as luck would have it there was a Fina station in Spur. It wasn't in the GPS but it was open and that's what I needed. We filled up with 8.67 gallons of fuel. Yes the tank is rated at 8.7 but I've put 9 gallons in there before so we weren't really on fumes and would have made it easily to the next town with gas. But I didn't know this at the time so it was nice to fill up. Moral of the story, when riding out in north Texas fill up while you still have plenty of reserve. Calculations showed we got 35.22mpg on this tank of gas versus yesterday's 37mpg on the first tank. I think the wide open flat runs past Abilene with speeds of 80mph probably had something to do with the decrease. But it was so flat, so straight and so.... empty.

With a full tank it was time to head to Palo Duro Canyon State Park. So far the weather had remained cloudy with only the occassional sputter of rain. But that would change. By the time we reached Matador we had a pretty good misting going on. Not really enough to get you soaked but enough to start making things damp. We stopped for a quick break and started talking to a local rancher. He figured we brought the rain with us and was happy for it.

Next we took FM 2009 which had some nice twisties on it. Since the road was moist and I had all the weight of the luggage I decided to keep the speed moderate. But it was still a nice change. Then we picked up 97 to Flomont where we headed north on 599. By now the scenery was changing and there was enough elevation change to keep things interesting. We ran into 86 and took that through Quitaque.

Just past Silverton we turned onto 207 heading north. The rain was definitely making things wet by this point but we kept going. A little ways up the road we went through the most amazing canyon I had
ever been through. It was only a few miles but we road down into it on
one side and back up out of it on the other. Simply awesome. FM 207
will definitely pop up on future routes if direction and time permits. We caught 285 over to Wayside and finally road out of the rain for the day. Then it was I-27 up to Canyon where we took the 103 exit up to 1541. When we turned onto 1541 the road sign said 8 miles to Palo Duro Canyon. The sky was cloudy but non-threatening and the temperature was comfortable. It was going to be a great time to see the canyon.

The attendant at the front gate was friendly and took our $8 then gave us a receipt and a map. Reagan was a little concerned about the 10% grade sign but I wasn't stopping now. We went to the visitor center for a nature break and to look around. That's the farthest I had gotten the last time I was at the canyon, so I was eager to go ride around. Especially after seeing some of the information at the visitor center. A quick purchase of some post cards and out the door we went.

We hopped back on the bike and headed into the canyon. There was a steep decent with customary switchbacks and then we were in the floor of the canyon. Lots of scenery to see. We checked out some of the cabins they have for rent. Maybe we'll do a trip near my birthday and stay in them. That would be cool. We followed the park road all the way around and then looped back the way we came. With a great overview of the park completed we headed to Amarillo to see the Cadillac ranch and to find our hotel.

Riding up I-27 is like any other super slab so there's nothing to say. Except going 70mph really seemed slow. I wanted to take I-27 to I-40 instead of taking the loop to the west. Once on I-40 we past the Drury Inn where we planned to stay and headed toward the Cadillac ranch. As we passed it there were lots of people there in cars and RVs. So I asked Reagan if she'd like to see it in the morning. About the same time we saw a billboard for Boot Hill Saloon and Grill in Vega. That happens to be the restaurant started by Rory, a contentant on the Food Network's Next Food Network Star. Since it was time for an early dinner and Vega was only 25 minutes up the road we pressed on.

Upon arrival we were the only ones in the parking lot and it was unclear if they were even open. But finally we found a small sign on the door that listed hours of operation and dinner was served from 2 to 10. It was after 3 so we were set. We walked in and sat in the bar area as it didn't seem we had a choice. They could have easily rented out the space as a walk in freezer. It was down right cold in there. We decided what we wanted and placed our orders. The decission was a little difficult as her menu seemed a little unfocussed but it all looked good. Reagan ordered the Onion soup and a burger, and I ordered a burger with jalapenos. I didn't get the Bruechetta because of the salmanila scare of late but now I realize they've also had problems with jalapenos. Too late for regreats maybe they could have thrown in cilantro for extra measure. The food was good but desert was awesome. I highly recommend the Apple Crisp. It comes in a mason jar with ice cream and whipped cream on top. Very tasty indeed. Rory was in the restaurant working and even served Reagan's soup. Considering we were the only people in there at first it would have been nice if she had actually engaged us in conversation. But considering her proximity to I-40 she probably gets alot of traffic that don't know who she is or could care less.

We decided to stay in Vega and Reagan would go to the Cadillac Ranch on a future stop. Ah! another trip to plan... While we were eating I used my laptop and wireless card to book a room at the Comfort Inn and saved 15% with my AMA membership. So we got on the bike and ran back down the little stretch of old route 66 to take a picture of the sign. Then passed Rory's place and pulled into the Comfort Inn next to I-40. The hotel clerk had a smile on his face from ear to ear and was very friendly. He checked us in and even told me to park in a specific spot just outside the frontdesk's window so he could keep an eye on the bike. Then it was time to unpack and lug everything up stairs. No elevator but then I did have that apple crisp less than an hour ago.

So far we've gone 731 miles on the trip, we've met nice people, seen great sites and had fun.

Tomorrow Taos!


Fred said...

More details please..... :)

Jonti said...

We had the wonderful experience of running out of gas on our recent trip. Denise can tell you ALL about it. We did learn how to carry gas on my bike back to hers. Glad your trip has been awesome so far and that your gastank has stretched to each destination.

Be safe, enjoy and keep writing and rolling!