Long story short, Amarillo to Cañon City turned into Amarillo to Steamboat Springs and took 20 hours. I left Amarillo at 10:30 am on July 2nd and arrived in Steamboat at 6:30 am on July 3rd.
I ended up taking a wrong road somewhere and didn't end up in Cañon City when it was time to find a hotel. Instead I ended up in Westcliffe and found all the hotels closed except one and it had no rooms. The girl told me that if I went north for another hour I'd reach Salida and there would be plenty of 24hr hotels. It was dark already and I was tired and sore but I didn't really have a choice so I put on my warm gear and headed out.
When I got to Salida I was cold, sleepy, exhausted, hungry, and my lower back was on fire. I stopped at the first hotel only to be told that there were no rooms and probably wouldn't be any in town because it was a long weekend. I was disappointed at this news to say the least. I could, literally, feel myself sliding into some kind of bed from the moment I saw the sign for this place but I had totally forgotten about the 4th of July. I borrowed their internet and looked online for rooms in town. Sure enoug, only one place had a room and they wanted $160 for it. It was already midnight and I just couldn't get down with paying $20 an hour to sleep so I decided to keep riding. I knew this probably meant I'd be sleeping outside so I ate the rest of my cheezits from the gasoline trade so they wouldn't attract animals. I did some stretches to help my back, took three Ibuprofen, and headed out.
I rode for I don't know how long. Could have been an hour, could have been ten minutes. It was getting properly cold now and I had slowed my pace repeatedly to make the temperature bearable. It was to the point where I was doing 40mph and waving cars by me. Finally, I saw a place on the side of the road with a picnic table out front and a light that would, hopefully, ward off bears and sasqaches. I parked up and laid down for a nap without even taking off my helmet.
I fell asleep almost immediately and then woke up again after only a couple of minutes feeling like I couldn't breathe. I opened my visor and tried again. Same result. I had a lot of layers on so I unzipped two of the three jackets I was wearing. Same result. There was nothing else I could do so I would sleep until I felt like I was suffocating, wake up a little, take a bunch of deep breaths, fall asleep, repeat. I don't know how many cycles of this I went through but it couldn't have been more than ten or so before I got pissed off and decided to get back on the bike.
Getting to lie down helped my back but not getting any sleep was irritating. I made it to Leadville and found one of those "Kum and Go" gas stations with a convenience store that was open. I had some coffee and zebra cakes and broke out the last resort in my battle against the cold. The rain suit...
After Leadville it was just over two hours to Steamboat according to Google maps. The time stamp on that last picture was 2:58. The time stamp on the picture in front of the hotel in Steamboat was 6:21 so it took three hours twenty. Part of the reason was that I tried to sleep again. This time I couldn't find a table or a bench so I ended up sleeping on a fence/gate type thing. It was a square column of rocks with a steel arm hanging off one side. The column was about big enough for my torso and, with my knees bent, my feet could rest on the arm of the gate. I got similar results as last time. Sleep, suffocate, sleep, suffocate, etc. After a few of those I got back on the bike for the last push.
First and, hopefully, only sunrise pictures:
Shortly after sunrise it started raining a little and I caught this rainbow:
Finally made it to the destination.
But wait, there's more. The desk didn't open till 7 so I had to wait 45 minutes to pick up my keys. Then they didn't work because the machine programs them not to work till 8 so the desk lady had to walk with me to the garage, let me in, then walk with me to my room and let me in. Finally it was over. I took a hot bath and went to bed until like 4pm.
Now, some highlights from the rest of this leg. I would have put this stuff in its proper chronological order earlier in the post but I felt like that would have been gratuitously saving the miserable part for last to play it up. That's the kind of crap they do on reality TV shows and I dislike it so, here's the happier, less interesting parts now that we've got the main plot out of the way.
Right after leaving the hotel in Amarillo I found this weird abandoned building with half-buried volkswagens.
Then, in Dalhart, TX (I think) I found this guy who makes his living selling stickers out of his RV.
Apparently he just has a vinyl cutting machine and several colors of vinyl stockpiled in there and he just makes and sells stickers, moving from town to town. Seems like it could be a good way to travel while being self sufficient.
Later,I saw a sign for this volcano and decided to go see it.
Hard to tell but this is looking into the crater.
This volcano was the tallest thing around for a very long way.
After the volcano, a bit further north, I caught my first glimpse of snow on mountain tops. Prolly can't see but it's the ones in the middle.
Then I met this guy at a gas station.
He told some tall tales. I bought him a beer. He is a photographer, has a plan to bring back "Battle of the Bands," wants to help homeless veterans get housing, wants to start a veterans dating website. He was in Vietnam. He was also the first person to ever do... Something that I can't remember now. His name is Edward Lietch and he exists on Facebook. Go stalk him.
After the leg from hell was a week of mostly relaxing time in Steamboat.
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