As we left Kingman, AZ, we were pretty stoked. We had been there before so we weren’t really treading new ground. But as we headed east and pushed past the turnoff to the Grand Canyon, we were suddenly in new territory. The adventure into the unknown had really begun.
The road to Albuquerque was a pretty long and uneventful one. I won’t say boring, because for me there are no boring minutes spent on the bike, but it was uneventful. Lots of desert. Lots of time to think. We pulled into Albuquerque about 9 hours after we started and the first thing I noticed is that Albuquerque (I’m getting really good at spelling that) has fantastic freeways and all of the overpasses and on/off ramps are kept clean and are decorated with a southwestern flair. It’s a great first impression for a city to give. Even the concrete dividers in the center of the highway are color matched to the overall design. Very nice.
The city itself is pretty cool too. We ventured into Old Town first and found the town square which was occupied by a large grassy area with benches and huge trees. Lots of people were just kicking back and enjoying the shade. We struck up a conversation with a married couple sitting there who were on motorcycles and found that the husband was originally from Hayward. He pointed us to a Mexican restaurant and we enjoyed a dynamite meal and a few Dos Equis. But here’s where we started seeing some of the weird attitudes this country has about alcohol. We wanted to retire to the outside deck in order to have our customary end-of-day cigar and beer but since we had already paid for dinner, they would not start a new tab for us with only alcohol on the bill. Apparently since they were next to a church they could only sell alcohol if it was part of a meal. Weird! So we took off to the college district and found a really nice cigar store with a full bar and had our cigar and beer.
That evening was the 4th of July and so we were wondering where we could see some fireworks. Well, we found that there was no need to go see a “show”. New Mexico sells fireworks year round and they sell REAL fireworks. We’re talking missiles that fly up 100 feet and explode just like the kind you see at baseball games. So everyone in the entire city seemed to be lighting off these suckers and the sky in every direction was lit up. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen. I like Albuquerque!
The next day we had a short ride day to Amarillo, Texas. Only 288 miles. We would arrive in Amarillo early in the day and so we had a lot of time to sightsee. We checked out the famous Cadillac Ranch as well as the Giant Pair of Legs and also the Helium Time Columns Monument. Apparently Amarillo is a large producer of helium, so they made a monument to it back in the 60’s. The monument also doubles as a time capsule and different parts of it will be opened at various times in the future.
We ended up staying at a place called the Big Texan Steakhouse which plays up the whole “Everything’s bigger in Texas” line to the max. They have a pool shaped like Texas. They have a GIANT cowboy boot out front. The shower curtains in the rooms are printed with the Texas flag. They have a shooting arcade inside the restaurant. And they offer the food challenge to end all food challenges; A 72oz steak that they give you 60 minutes to eat and if you complete it, it’s free. Unfortunately we didn’t see anyone take on the challenge. I thought about it, but then my colon overruled my brain and I settled on an 8oz fillet with a baked potato on the side. Not too bad.
The odd thing about Texas though is that it’s a place where there’s a giant Baptist church on every corner, and on the opposite corner is either a strip club or an adult superstore. And when I say superstore, I mean superstore. They have porn shops the size of Targets in Texas. I guess everything is indeed bigger.
The storms are bigger too. As we were kicking back by the bikes having our customary beer and cigar we saw a massive lightning storm rolling in from a distance. It was amazing, with lightning strikes flashing constantly as the storm rolled closer. I’d never seen anything that active here in California. At that point we realized we were going to get wet the next day. Very wet.
We crashed out that night knowing we had a long ride the next day to offset our short one this day. We’d be heading across Oklahoma and into Arkansas.