There was no rain this morning and it was already looking like another humid hot day so I dressed accordingly; Bohn armored shirt & pants underneath my Kevlar shirt & Levis. I figured if I got caught in a rain storm I could throw on Big Red but until it happened I wanted to be as cool as possible.
I left Paintsville via the slab around 9:30am and found myself alone most of the time. This allowed me to ride at a steady 55mph with my visor open and enjoy the mild breeze and fresh air. On occasion a car would pass by but not often and that was fine with me, I really like riding alone. The only thing that spoiled the ride was the sight of so many dead animals on the pavement, mostly small forest critters but today there were also two dogs. I’m not used to that and those of you who know me will understand how awful that was to see. Oregon must have provisions for removing dead animals from our roads as they’re usually gone within a day or so. Dogs, like livestock are another matter, drivers are required by law to stop if they hit one and report it to the authorities if they can’t locate the owner. Besides, dogs really are man’s best friend and that should be reason enough. Sorry, guess that’s my rant for the day.
So…moving right along I noticed the farther south I rode the darker the sky was becoming. At one point I thought there might be something going on with my sunglasses so I stopped and took them off. That wasn’t it of course, there was a nasty storm brewing and by 11:30am it was as dark as night.
Just outside of Lexington I pulled over to take a quick picture of a really elegant ranch home, complete with miles of white picket fencing. For someone like myself who’s never seen one of these places outside of a movie it was a special moment. Just as I was ready to leave I felt the first drop of rain splat on my hand. I rode a couple of miles further and decided it might be prudent to change into Big Red as the rain was beginning to increase in intensity. A wide driveway apron soon appeared in the distance and I pulled into it as far as I felt would be acceptable without trespassing, parked the bike and began the tedious routine of changing. The Bohn armored shirt would have to come off, otherwise I’d be underneath two sets of armor and that would be downright miserable to deal with. I guess it’s a good thing I’m not particularly shy as traffic was heavy and moving right past me when I stripped to the waist. Ooohhh....
While I was about to shrug back into Big Red a guy in a pickup stopped and asked if I was alright. I told him what I was doing and I’d be back on the road in a couple more minutes. As we talked the rain began to increase and the wind was kicking up. He told me there was a pretty bad storm in the direction I was traveling with 75-85 mph winds and severe lightning and if I wanted I could ride it out in his place. Winds in that range can be nasty to deal with but if you ride a bit slower than usual it’s not so bad so I thanked him for his offer and moved on.
Man was that storm ever something, lightning like I’ve never seen with blinding rain and cross winds that could blow you away if you relaxed even for a moment. Visibility was down to nearly zip and it couldn’t get much darker. This went on for mile after mile and the only good thing was traffic diminished to the point where I was just about the only one out there.
I’d slowed my speed down to around 55mph which was manageable and I figured I was making good time in spite of the weather when my GPS low fuel warning came on. I don’t have it calibrated exactly right so it’s been preceding the bike’s factory warning light by 15 or 20 miles so I don’t worry about it but I do start looking for a gas station. Noting my next exit and route change was only 28 miles ahead I would be well within the range of my reserve. I arrived at the exit and sure enough there was one lone fuel station and it looked like it was pretty busy, lots of cars & trucks were parked around it. I parked at an available pump, went through the business of removing the tank bag, unlocking the filler cap and selecting the fuel grade I wanted. I poked the button several times and then it hit me, the power was off. Inside the convenience store I could see a lot of people milling around and I couldn’t help laughing at myself for taking so long to notice what was going on. One of the gals inside told me they didn’t have any idea how long the power would be off but I could probably get gas at the next place up the road, around 12 miles so that was that. Judging the amount of mileage I had left on reserve I figured I could take the chance so off I went. I found the place and they were open with business per usual.
Once I finished with refueling I got back on the road south towards my friends Dick & Linda. They live out of town several miles and Linda had told me my GPS wouldn’t be able to find their place. How negative, Garmin knows where everybody lives I thought. Duhh.. So there I was, sitting in a McDonalds in Campbellsville, the nearest town to them and talking to her on the phone. “My GPS can’t find you” I said. “Told you so” she said, thinly disguised smirk in her voice. “So can you find route so and so?” “Yeah, that I can do I think.” She gave me an intersection to look for and I told her I’d give it a shot and call her back if I couldn’t find it. The Garmin found it right away and after a bit of wandering around and one more phone call I arrived at their house.
What a great thing it is to see old friends again, we spent the evening catching up on kids and grandkids and all the stuff we used to do, etc., then my clock ran out and it was off to bed. Tomorrow's another day.