Our goal for day 6 was Amarillo, TX. It would be a long ~350 miles. Every trip has a high and low day and this would end up being my least favorite leg of the adventure.
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The rain from the previous evening had soaked my mesh jacket and pants, jeans, helmet and boots. Luckily the Speedpack bag had kept all my other luggage dry as a bone and I still had wearable skivvies, socks, shirts and shorts for the next day. The mesh jacket and pants dried almost immediately after hanging them up. I left my helmet near the AC fan overnight and, while the cheek pads were slightly damp, it wasn't miserable when I put it back on. This left the boots as my only concern for the next day. I used the hotel's hair dryer on the inside of the boots, which worked somewhat. Instead of being cold and damp on the inside, they ended up being hot and damp. The hair dryer's internal temperature sensor eventually kicked off and that was the end of the hair dryer. As for my jeans, I strapped them to the outside of my bags and they were completely dry halfway to Amarillo.
Knowing we were probably going to hit hot weather in Texas, Vern and I got up pretty early and I think we left the hotel by 6 or 7am. Vern wanted to stop at a local geocach in town before we left, so we ended up in Annie Oakley park, a few blocks away. I had assumed that the city of Oakley had ties to Annie Oakley, but after some research I can't find any connection between the woman and the town. Oh well:(
After filling up with gas, and checking the air in our tires, we were headed south. It was still a bit chilly and I had my wind breaker on under my jacket and pants. After 80 miles or so we hit the town of Garden City and I convinced Vern to stop for breakfast at McDonald's. He was against it until he remembered they now serve oatmeal:) On the way out of town our path was blocked by a train that was completely stopped. I broke out the smart phone and found a overpass a mile to the East. Not even the nation's rail lines could stop our mad cap journey across the plains!
After passing through the town of Liberal, KS our original trip had us staying on I-83 due south to the Texas town of Perryton. Vern had other plans and wanted to try to find a geocach in the town of Hooker Oklahoma. This would give him a find in the state of Oklahoma, as well as a cool picture with a sign that says Hooker:) Who could argue against that. So after crossing the state line we headed southwest towards Hooker. The temperature started to rise.
Once we reached Hooker, we pulled off at a truckstop so Vern could get a GPS reading. I snapped a couple of photos of the town's grain elevator. They must have been running something as it looked like grain dust was drifting out of the building. Every town you pass through east of the Rockies has one of these buildings. You know you're coming to some sort of population center when you see one out on the horizon.
We drove to the west part of town. It was really starting to feel warm and the highway was under construction so it wasn't the best place to look for a geocach. Vern had trouble locking onto the right coordinates. We found a dirt road leading off into the distance and Vern though it might be down that road, but since he doesn't drive on dirt we just turned around and headed back towards town. At least we got his Hooker picture:)
Restroom facilities were found to be lacking, so we just pressed on.
At this point we should have just gone due south to Amarillo, but I really wanted to stick to the original trip path and catch I-83 back to Perryton. This added 23 miles that would would eventually have to be crossed again in Texas. But worst of all, it added time that we spent out in the heat. Once we crossed the state line we unknowingly entered a blast furnace.
From here the winds really picked up. My guess is that they were up around 20-30mph but I'm not positive. I can tell you my bike was thrown around on the road like crazy, and most of the time I was in a hard lean to the right just to keep the bike going in a straight line. It tired you out pretty quick since you were always fighting to keep the bike under control. We stopped in Perryton for gas and decided to take a break for an hour and re-hydrate. I had water and Doritos and ended up buying a bandana at the gas station to keep the sun off my neck. I poured water on it to keep cool but it would only stay damp for 5 minutes before drying out. On the way out of town I accidentally left my bottle of suntan lotion on the outside of my bags and it fell off somewhere down the road. Vern motioned for me to pull over but by that time it was a ways behind us and I didn't feel like going back to look for it. We pressed on.
We were finally headed into the wind a bit, which helped, but the temperature kept climbing. Vern's bike had a thermometer and it was reading 105 degrees. It felt hotter. We stopped in the town of Stinnett for gas. In one of those strange twists of fate a Harley rider pulled up to the pumps and we started shooting the breeze. He told us of a side route we could take that had some curvy roads, it would take us over a dam and wouldn't add any miles to Amarillo. Hey, it was a chance to see water. So after a short break Vern and I headed west and ended up finding Sanford dam and Lake Meredith. The dam was created in 1965 and creates a reservoir that provides drinking water for 11 Texas cities, including Amarillo. As I said, it was hot, so we didn't stop for pictures, but I found this one on the web and it matches exactly what I saw. The earthen dam is to the left, which we drove over, and the lake snaked off to the right. (Source)
From here it was a hot miserable drive to Amarillo. Vern and I split up going into town as he ended up staying at another hotel. I can remember getting into my hotel room, cranking up the AC to max and drinking ice water for 30 minutes before unloading the bike. I'm sure I was at the early stages of heat exhaustion. Not good.
Later that night Vern and I met up for dinner at a local touristy place called the Country Barn. It's a big red barn on I-40 with a huge TV screen out in the parking lot. It's hard to miss. Although it was touristy, I think this place had the best food of the trip. Vern ordered a steak and I had pork ribs. It was amazingly good. I'm the sort of person who normally doesn't order dessert, but the food was so good, did I mention it was good, the waitress talked me into something called a "Texas Tumbleweed".
I had never heard of this before. But it's a scoop of ice cream rolled in coconut and drizzled with caramel. How can something so simple to make elude me all these years?? The sin of the whole thing is that I was only able to eat half of it since I was full to the gills with onion rings, pork ribs, baked beans, texas toast, coleslaw and Blue Moon beer. After paying for dinner I waddled back to the hotel and had a bad case of heartburn.
Tomorrow, New Mexico!