After a pleasant evening in a KOA campground in Richfield, UT, I turned Rosie 180 degrees and started heading homeward. There are many sightseeing options in the next Utah and Colorado miles, but my planned stop two days from now is visiting my college roommate who lives in Longmont, Colorado, just north of Denver.
I have seen Jim Hickman from time to time over the years. Not too long ago, I flew to Colorado and we went camping/fly-fishing together. Jim and I played football at North Central College in ’59 – 62. Jim’s a big guy – 6’3”- and played defensive end. His nickname is Bambi. So how does a big rugged guy get a name like Bambi? In high school, all his teammates wrote threating words on their helmets, like “Kill,” “Death,” and “Mayhem.” Jim wrote “Bam-Bam” and the coach misread it, thinking it said “Bambi.” The name stuck.
Bambi had his nose broken several times in high school, leaving him with a large and rather bent proboscis. Of course, being the thoughtful, roommate I was, I never tired of pointing out Bambi’s facial uniqueness. My face, in contrast, was perfectly undamaged. During one football game in our junior year, I took a massive hit which sent my helmet flying. Returning to the huddle in a daze, Bambi started pointing at me and howling. My nose was laid flat against the side of my cheek. The quarterback called timeout and sent me to the sidelines. Our team doctor, a tough old bird, placed both palms on either side of my flattened nose and gave a yank. The pain dropped me to my knees, but the nose has been straight ever since.
I traveled east toward the Colorado state line on interstate 70 – yeah, I know – not a blue highway, but the speed limit is 80 and you can really make good time. I pulled off at a view point to see Castle Valley. This was one of the places Brigham Young told his Mormon follows to settle. Grazing land was poor and the local Indians said, “Don’t do it. The water has killed our women.” A good reason why the Mormons continued on the Salt Lake.
In the parking lot I met a fellow motorcyclist by the name of Bill Parrot. Bill made me feel like my five-thousand-mile ride was just a jaunt around the block. He and his son had ridden their motorcycles from Massachusetts. The son had a wedding to attend in Denver, so dad continued on to California. Bill is now on his way back to meet the son and return home. Gad, that’s heavy mileage.
Rosie has a sound system that includes AM/FM radio, weather stations, and CB radio. Unfortunately, the earphones in my helmet had a problem and I removed them to make the repair but never got them replaced. So, I ride in silence. Not so bad because that’s my opportunity to imagine the words I will use to describe the sights I am seeing. And sometimes my thoughts wax poetic. I can rhyme “mash” with “dash” but don’t expect Ogden Nash. Here’s an example:
Rosie Made Me Do It
Rosie made me do it, his teeth were in the bit,
“Come on young fellow, let’s do a western trip.”
Rosie is my companion, a two-wheeled brave crusader,
Honda never made a Wing, more staunch or ever braver.
We’ve explored America’s reaches, North, East, South and West,
But the western Rockies and Canyons, get our vote as perhaps the best.
On a ride out to Nevada, we stopped at Moab and Arches saw,
“Let’s go back to the canyons,” Rosie said, “and tour fair Utah.”
Canyonlands Park, the state’s largest, is rugged and oh so bold,
Don’t expect coddling, like water or refreshments being sold.
Pitch your tent on bare ground, you gotta pee in the bush,
If you came here without much gas, you may have to push.
“Island in the sky” is in the north end plateau,
You look down on the canyons, a thousand feet below.
The “Needles” in the south, is the floor of the land.
Gaze up at lofty buttes of towering granite and sand.
Rosie says, “Let’s move now. There’s much more to explore.
Let’s ride to Bryce Canyon for unique vistas more.”
En route, we stopped, Natural Bridges Park had beckoned,
Such amazing formations, millions of years to make, I recon.”
Bryce Canyon National Park is a most spectacular place,
Can’t remove the look of wonder from every viewer’s face.
Inspiration Point is one name a wonderous site is given,
It’s just one of many, making them worth the miles I’ve ridden.
(To be continued)
Crossing the Colorado line, dark clouds could be seen in the eastern sky. I’d traveled about 300 miles this day, leaving 270 to get to Longmont. As it happened, I had arrived in Grand Junction, CO, a town I had stayed in on my way to Utah. Why not. It was enough travel for the day.
The next morning, seeing a scrambled sky, blue in some parts, dark and wet in others, I tried to trick the odds by preparing for the worst and hopefully dodging the weather. It didn’t work completely. I was in and out of the rain, but fortunately, it was never too heavy.
I arrived at Jim and Shirley’s in Longmont (just north of Denver) five hours after I started. The Hickman’s share their house with their son’s family. It’s a lovely ranch style home with two complete housing levels; kitchens, bedrooms, baths, and living rooms both upstairs and down. Because their former home in Boulder had appreciated so dramatically, they were able to buy this one practically without a mortgage.
Jim and Shirley are incredibly gracious hosts. The gave me their master bedroom with its own bath and dressing room. Wow, my tent has a tough act to follow. The three of us sat in the Hickman’s lovely backyard, beside the pond and garden, and Jim and I probably bored Shirley to death talking about football heroics, old girlfriends, and favorite (many now departed) classmates.
Shirley grilled a delicious steak on the grill served with all the fixin’s. See what I mean by gracious hosts! Jim’s a very thoughtful guy. The time he and I went camping and fly fishing up in the mountains we slept in a tent. It got cold at night. I had my down sleeping bag good for 40 degrees and it was just barely warm enough. In the middle of the night, Jim quietly covered me with an extra blanket. What a nice guy he is.
After a morning of fruit and coffee cake, the three of us posed for pictures around Rosie and I bid adieu.
It had been a lovely visit.
Skies were clear over Longmont, but it wasn’t long before I could see I was riding into some inclement conditions. I had checked the weather that morning, concerned about the big storm coming up from the Gulf. I hoped I might be able to get into the middle of Kansas before I caught up with it. I was in the fringes of it all day occasionally getting hit with some heavy rain. The good news was the road was perfectly straight and traffic was light. I pushed on through the wetness, reaching Phillipsburg, Kansas, before calling it quits.
It’s Friday and I could be home by Sunday, but Illinois and Indiana look like they’re going to be battered this weekend. I just may have to hole up somewhere. We’ll see what the morrow brings.