So, this past Sunday, it was O'Dark Thirty or 3:00AM when the alarm clock went off at my beside and I groggily got out of bed to get ready to drive the rental car down to Amarillo, TX.
Amarillo is where Perry, of Perry's Motorcycles of Fort Worth had agreed to trailer a R90 Sidecar rig and meet up to turn it over to me. I'd rented a car the day before and had packed it and ready to go so I was on the road by 3:36AM, leaving my family still sleeping warm in their beds.
The ride down was uneventful and it didn't take me long to get back in to the "swing of things" in terms of staying awake and alert while driving. I made good time and by 6:30AM I had crossed over the New Mexico state border, driven through Raton Pass, and got fuel and food at the junction with US287/87.
From there it was another 4 hrs to Amarillo, TX. Only one incident along the way, I was going 80 in a 70 mph speed limit area and one of the Texas State Patrol stopped me. I thought I was going to get a "performance" award for sure but when he found out I was enroute to pick up a vintage BMW motorcycle with a sidecar rig; all he said then was "That sounds pretty cool" and he let me off with a warning.
The Toyota Yaris I rented, 447 miles from my house to Amarillo International Airport
Keeping steadily to the 70 mph limit from there on, I got to the rental car parking lot without further excitement. The GPS in the rental car was useless in finding the place and so Perry had the same issues finding me! After a bit of wandering around the area, he and I finally met up in person after weeks of emails and phone calls.
She looked good didn't she?
She was quite beautiful to my eyes and I eagerly listened to Perry's instructions on its individual care and maintenance, it's controls and such.
Perry gave me the title, I gave him the remaining balance on the motorcycle, we shook hands and he went off back home to Fort Worth. The winds were pretty fierce throughout this whole time, making it hard to even stand in one position when the winds hit you!
I packed up the sidecar with my tools and stuff, returned the paperwork on the rental car and away I went to fuel up.
The R90 handled beautifully in spite of the increasingly stronger winds that kept buffetting me and the rig. The horizon, both in front and behind me as I rode on US287, was blotted out by a solid looking wall of sand and dust picked up by the winds.
The last time I'd seen dust storms like that, had been while on active duty in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm. Not exactly ideal riding conditions you might say.
Stil, the R90, with the Dneper sidecar rig pulled strongly in spite of the very strong headwinds I kept encountering. When the winds hit me sideways, she'd pretty much hold onto the road though there was one particular gust that blew me onto the neighboring lane. That sure got my attention! When the winds hit me headon, I'd have to gear down to fourth gear and she'd still hold 60mph easily....I was quite pleased with her performance (in between fearing for my life) from the waves of dust clouds I road through.
Sorry, no pictures, just picture a big brown horizon-blotting cloud, coming at you at speed...no shelter around you, just wide open plains covered in dry grass.
I made it past Dumas, TX, now on US87, when I felt the transmission fall out of gear! Hmmmm, I thought, you dumbass, you didn't click it fully into gear. I snicked it back into gear and carried on a few miles west of Dumas. Then, the transmission fell out of gear again....dammit I thought, something's wrong.
Still I kept going seeking a safe sheltered spot to stop, until it started falling out of gear and not allowing me to move between gears. I limped into the hamlet of Hartley, whose claim to fame is the Dalhart Consumers Co-Op grain silos and the gas station. I called up Perry on his cellphone and damn if he didn't immediately say he'd head back and come rescue me!
Of course, by then, he was about 140 miles south of Amarillo, battling the same dust storms I had ridden through. He was driving a Mercedes Benz Sprinter Cargo van and pulling a trailer so you can imagine the rough ride he had in those winds which apparently gusted to a maximum of 68mph according to the news!
I had called Perry just before 3:00PM and it was a little past 7:00 before he managed to arrive at Hartley, he'd battled high winds and apparently a very large prairie fire that had invoked I think all the fire engines in the Texas Panhandle! This explained all the fire engines I saw racing back towards Amarillo I'd seen while parked, stranded, by the silos in Hartley.
On a sidenote, not one person stopped, as they cruised through Hartley enroute to other places to ask me if I needed help. What's up with that? Do motorcycle riders sit for hours on end by the side of the road in a parking lot in Texas?
I ended up moving the rig over next to the big silos, on the leeward side, to escape most but not all of the sandblasting effect brought on by the strong winds which blew all afternoon and into the evening.
Once Perry arrived, he did a quick check and told me he thought something had broken within the transmission and that he'd have to take her back to the shop. We got her tied up on the trailer and headed on back to Dumas to get a room as it was quite late at this point.
Enroute to Dumas, Perry proved again he merited the great reputation he has within the BMW motorcycling community and offered me several options. I chose the one where I'd return the motorcycle to him (he was selling it on consigment it turns out) and he'd refund me the full purchase price. He returned my check to me and he said he'd mail me the deposit amount soon as he got back to his shop. Now this, is a shining example, of a man standing by the motorcycle he's selling, even when he's only the middleman!
After a restless night in Dumas (Perry paid for the room to kind of make up for the inconvenience all the above had caused), he dropped me off in the early morning at the Greyhound bus station in Dumas. Dumas is a small town and the bus station reflected it. The waiting area was at best described as "disheveled", heated too warmly but the attendant was gruff but helpful.
Dumas' Bus Station
My view of the bus from my seat
The bus departed pretty much ontime and between uneasy attempts at napping (too much noise and movement by the bus), I was able to capture these pics and film clips out the moving bus window.
Capulin Volcano National Monument
Lunch was 30 minutes in the border town of Raton, New Mexico. Had I'd been on a motorcycle or in my own car, it would have meant I was 3 hrs from home. It would be another 4.5 hours till we got to the Union Station stop in Downtown Denver.
The bus I rode home on from Texas
The rest of the bus rise went pretty much downhill in terms of travel comfort as it pretty much filled up in the town of Pueble (which is Spanish for town) and got filled up in Colorado Springs. Nothing like a bus full of pregnant women with little ones along, what looked like just-released prisoners from Cañon City's jails, and seemingly down on their luck folks to make one wish for the open road with a working motorcycle underneath him.
We got to downtown Denver around 5:30PM, rush hour traffic was in full swing and hectic as usual. I got off at the last stop, right after most everyone had departed at the next to last stop, the main bus station for Greyhound. Schlepping my heavy belonging and riding gear (what a pain) I walked the 1/2 mile or so to the RTD Light Rail station by Union Station. The rest of the next trip was standing packed like sardines in a light rail car, with the daily commuter crowd, again wishing for a working motorcycle.
My loving wife picked me up at the nearest light rail station to our home, and I drove us home in the cage. I was sure glad to be home, quite the adventure but nothing to show for it at the end. Oh well, the search continues anew for a second sidecar rig.