As I winded my way across Kansas I knew I’d be kissing the great plains good bye and would soon be climbing the steppes to the Rockies. Decisions must be made. As winter sneaks upon this part of the country I wonder where should I cross the continental divide. Have the Aspens begun their transformation? When will the first snow fall? And where?
I set my sites on Colorado Springs. Two reasons. Two very dear friends, both of whom worked for me in some capacity or another in the past moved from California not long before I started this journey. My old company spawned a number of love affairs, relationships and marriages. But perhaps none has sustained like Heather and Doug. Doug an amazing illustrator and perhaps an even better watercolor painter met Heather, a production artist, designer and production manager there in the mid-90’s. They shared passion for music, art, travel and wine. Seems that before I even knew what was going on, they were making marriage plans. Then came their lovely children, Frankie and Beckett. And they pursued their passion and love for the outdoors and moved to Colorado. Even better, they’ve opened an Art Gallery and Wine Bar (including serving delectable eats, I’ve heard) just outside the city in the historical district of Monument: The Second Street Art Market and Wine Bar. Anyone traveling between Denver and Colorado Springs or find themselves in that part of the country must visit!
Though as I crossed the border into Colorado, there was no hint of mountains, continental divide or anything but more silos, agriculture, tractors and field workers. My plan was to try to make to the Springs by nightfall, though I knew I’d be pushing myself and Doc.
Also in Colorado Springs I’d hoped to connect with another kindred spirit, Kyle. I never expected that I’d meet someone at perhaps the country’s best producer of ear protection products — for sound attenuation – that shared a passion for travel and motorcycles. I’d been using Westone products for more than 15 years when I contacted the Colorado Springs based company in 2004. In preparing for my journey, I knew I’d need a good set or earplugs or two that would make it around the world. I rarely ride my motorcycle without my Westone custom fit ear plugs designed specifically for motorcyclists. I also hoped to find high-quality custom earphones (or earbuds) that would be comfortable under a motorcycle helmet — for those rare times I might be on a long road where music might make the miles go by quicker.
One of the executives of the company took an interest in my journey and helped me with the earplugs and buds. But two things happened to me in South America. First, some Ecuadorian school children took advantage of my absentmindedness and stole the earbuds I’d draped over the door in a gas station bathroom while changing into some rain gear. And the nasty winds in Patagonia got hold of one of my ear plugs and sent it sailing into the chilly waters near the Perito Moreno glacier.
When I contacted Westone again to requisition replacements I met Kyle. With a V-Strom and a restored 4 x 4, Kyle and his band of local friends love to take to the miles of dirt roads in and around the Colorado Springs area. Through my travels we communicated regularly and built a friendship. I hoped to finally meet him in Colorado Springs.
I continued to follow Colorado State Route 96. Through the town of Haswell, where I had to make the decision to pass on seeing the nation’s smallest jailhouse. And then through Sugar City where 96 crosses railroad tracks that seem to have long been ignored. Soon came nightfall. Temperature dropped. Wind picked up. No sign of city lights. Dark and lonely on the prairie.
When I arrived in Monument I was greeted by happy faces, smiles and home cooked meal. Starting to really feel like I am coming home.