Part 1 – before the trip
Almost 9 years ago now, I took a motorcycle trip to Colorado. I got to thinking that there are a lot of interesting stories in and around that trip that might be worthy of writing down.
It was this time of year when I started planning the trip – late August. I had just finished doing a computer contract that involved rebuilding the Crain’s Detroit Business content engine from the bottom up. It paid well and the contract was extended but had just recently wrapped up.
Just prior to the end of the contract I had been renting a room from a guy I knew vaguely. He seemed cool enough and had a room to rent and I had recently moved back from Ohio before landing a couple of short contracts and ultimately the job with Crain’s. Since I was working most of the time, I was never really home, and when I was home I was generally sequestered to my room working further on stuff on the computer for work.
Once the contract completed, I was of course home all the time while looking for work and suddenly began to realize just how much of a nut job and complete asshole this guy really was. He was a pothead, chain smoking weed most of the day, cranking up punk rock thrash music while getting stoned and drunk and bitching about stuff at the top of his lungs.
Needless to say, that didn’t settle with me well and I’d actually started getting hints of it shortly before the contract concluded. A few arguments had ensued over it, including one where he decided to make the vitriolic move of cutting the circuit breaker off to my room. So right then and there I decided to get the hell out of there! I rented a moving truck and a storage bin and arranged for a motel room, then one day when I knew he’d be out on a job I started moving my stuff out.
I knew I couldn’t get it all in one trip and I presumed, due to the arguments, he’d be glad to be rid of me. Unfortunately, while I was dropping off the first load he had apparently figured out I was moving my stuff out (no doubt going through my room which I’d also suspected to be the case) and proceeded to get piss drunk and threw the remaining of my belongings into the dirt and mud in the backyard. I hadn’t planned on moving the rest of it that night, but now had no choice – had to get the police involved and ultimately took him to court for damages. (I never collected on the ass btw, apparently he’d gotten real good already at hiding from his ex-wife who he also owed money. But, knowing he was a big ‘anti-government’ guy, I made sure the postmaster knew he had a habit of sending himself ‘greeting cards’ from his annual trip to Amsterdam – each with a pot bud inside. And I informed them he had tampered with my mail after I left. I also let the EPA know he was storing large amounts of painting solvents in his basement without a permit, and I informed the IRS that he was hiding a great deal of his income – the latter was to try to help establish an income for my court case btw)
So, after getting all my stuff in the storage bin and finally getting to bed around 1 am, I managed to finally get a good night’s sleep at the motel 6. I stayed in the local motels for a few days and realized that would burn up my budget fast but wasn’t having a lot of luck finding a new place on such short notice. I actually ended up stumbling on what I refer to as the ‘cock-a-roach motel’. It wasn’t a bad place overall, but wasn’t the Ritz. Just a small, privately owned motel over closer to Detroit that catered to folks ‘between housing’ as it were.
It wasn’t my intention to stay there long, but the people that managed it were very nice and easy to deal with and the manager’s boyfriend was a hunter. Mind you this was close to hunting season also, so I ended up actually staying there a few months. While I was staying there, I got to realizing that I had enough extra money set aside to take a trip and frankly, after all that mess, could use the time off!
I have a friend that I met online who lives in Denver and I had already flown out on a ‘priceline special’ for the weekend and realized they had a birthday coming up in early September so we started making plans for me to head out for a week this time. I’d always wanted to do a cross country trip on the bike, but previously had only a 535 Virago. By then I’d upgraded to a 750 complete with a full set of bags. It was still a small bike for such a long trip, but that to me was part of the allure.
Taking a cycle trip like that left a lot of things up in the air as far as when to go, but I started watching the weather and making arrangements. To save a few bucks I’d actually moved some of my possessions out of the sleep room for the week and made other arrangements with the management to watch my car while I was gone, leaving a few amenities in the vehicle to hold me over for a few days when i got back.
In addition to visiting my friend there were two other stops, both close to one another in SE Kansas, that I had been wanting to make for some time. They involved looking up two separate curiosities from my family history on my father’s side. One involved a great uncle and an investment he had made in the early days of aviation with a company in Girard, Kansas. The other dealt with my great-great-great grandfather who, at a ripe old age, suddenly took a trip out to Fort Scott, Kansas and shortly after arriving, died there. No record has managed to trickle down the family history as to why he went or how he died.
Eventually things were as close to set as they were ever going to be, I’d gone out and got my hair cut, packed up 3 changes of clothes in the saddle bags and a backpack I strapped on the back seat and was ready to go.
(continued in Part 2)