Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Riding through the prairie

We started the 3rd day of our cross-country motorcycle trip in Clayton NM, in the northeastern corner of the state. We started on U.S. 56 east, riding through the Kiowa and Rita Blanca National Grasslands that straddle the New Mexico and Oklahoma state line.

As we were looking out over the sea of grass to the far-off horizon, an Oklahoma state trooper pulled us over for riding 7 mph over the speed limit. The friendly and professional trooper gave Mike a warning, and he and his partner told us about the area and how their families have ranched and farmed here for generations.

I took advantage of the time to take photos of the BMW and the buffalo grass growing along the side of the narrow highway.

Oklahoma was the first of the 19 states we plan to ride into so that we've been on the BMW in all of the lower 48 states, and soon after Oklahoma we rode into Elkhart, Kansas, knocking off our second new state. We then headed south on OK 95 through the panhandle, crossing into Texas at Texhoma and our third state.

We were mesmerized by hundreds of windmills that spread across the horizon. Texas has more windfarms than any other state, which fits with the saying that 'everything is bigger in Texas'.

Continuing with the 'everything is bigger in Texas' theme, as we were riding south on TX 136 we passed by a huge cattle feed yard, and then what seemed like hundreds more windmills.

As we rode south on TX 270 we left the flat prairie grasslands behind and wound our way down a 10% grade into Palo Duro Canyon.

Palo Duro is the second largest canyon in the United States, behind only the Grand Canyon. It's 120 miles long and 6 miles wide on average, with the widest section topping out at 20 miles. In the 1890's William Hamblen created a rough road through the canyon using old Native American Indian trails. The road was finally finished in 1928 and paved in 1954.

We stopped at the top of the canyon to get a better view, and took advantage of the picnic area to take some additional photos.

Energized, we got back on the BMW to finish up today's 366 mile trip through more flat prairies to our destination for today, Childress, TX. Like so many towns in this part of the country, it was established because of the railroad and it continues to be a busy commercial hub.

The majority of the time today we rode on straight 2-lane paved roads with grasslands, ranches, and huge agriculture fields on both sides of the road. Infrequently we rode through small towns of less than 500 people where the main streets were lined with mostly closed brick buildings. Days like this demonstrate the vastness of the United States, and the resilience of the people who live in these quiet open spaces.

Tomorrow we continue to ride east through West Texas and into Oklahoma, looking for more adventures.  Here is today's route

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