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Colorado to Louisiana - September 2011

By Ray Parden

This ride from Loveland Colorado to Albany Louisiana was my first multi-day trip without fellow riders along and a memorable experience. Of course I was not completely alone, I had my trusty steel and plastic pony - my 89 Goldwing, and my I-phone to keep me in touch and guide me along the way. I prefer riding with friends, but I would not hesitate to ride without them if there was a chance for a trip and they could not make it because the joy of riding is great and the journey is always an adventure.

The Long Road

The Long Road


The reason for this ride was to bring my Goldwing home to Louisiana since I had not been making it up to Colorado to ride very much and I wanted it home where I could ride it. The route I had planned was 1,595 miles. Day 1 - down I-25, Loveland to Triniday, Day 2 - continue down I-25 to exit 323 to highway 3 near Ribera, then down to Encino, then 285 to Carlesbad New Mexico. Day 3 - continue down 285 to Fort Stockton, then 1-10 to Kerrville for the night. Day 4- I made it to Lake Charles. Day 5 - home.

Before leaving, my first consideration was the condition of my bike… tires, oil, lights, battery coolant, etc. and the second was having the proper gear for the conditions that I might face like rain, snow and the heat. I was going to travel on specific dates which could not be altered very much, but I could afford to lose a day if I had to. I gave myself some leeway on the travel dates because the weather can wreak havoc on a motorcycle trip, so you have to be prepared with a coat and rain gear. If you are planning a trip through the mountains you should be prepared for cold, rain and snow even in the summer. So I was prepared, but it was September which is a fairly dry month and I was lucky and only encountered cold, heat and just a little bit of rain in the last hours of my journey.

The Loveland to Trinidad leg of the ride was mostly about traffic and getting through Denver. I was concerned about crossing the Raton pass late in the day, so I stopped a little early. Unfortunately the exit that I stopped at had little to offer so I ate cheeze crackers for dinner but I did have a decent place to sleep.

Old Mission Church in New Mexico on Highway 3

Old Mission Church in New Mexico on Highway 3


The second day I was out of the cities and off the freeway most of the day. I had planned a more scenic route which would take me through the countryside of central New Mexico. What I didn’t realize from looking at google maps was how secluded this route was. My last fill up was in Wagon Mound before exiting the interstate at Ribera on highway 3, at which time I had almost 3/4 of a tank of gas. There was no gas available until I got to Vaughn New Mexico. My Goldwing just does not get as good of gas mileage as my Roadking and the 70 miles of being alone on highway 3 was a reminder to check the map and gas up before going off on small country roads. The road was narrow and twisty as it was following a small creek. Old adobe houses and rustic buildings were along the road for the first few miles as well as an old Mission Church which I made a short stop at, but when the road left the creek there was nothing.
Highway 3 New Mexico

Highway 3 New Mexico

I only crossed paths with one pickup truck in 50 miles along that stretch of road. I had never felt so isolated, it seemed like hours traveling down that lonely road, but I was not really alone, I was in the land of enchantment and when I stopped to pee there were Indian paintbrush flowers blooming on the roadside and I didn’t really feel alone, I felt alive. My tank gauge was on empty miles before I got to Encino on highway 285 and I was starting to feel pretty alone. As far as I could see on the horizon there was nothing but the dots of desert bushes and the road going over another distant hill. I stopped at the only place open in Encino which was the post office and asked if there was gas nearby and was told that I could get some in Vaughn. Luckily, when my gas gauge says empty I still have over a gallon of gas and I made it to Vaughn without a sputter.
Roswell New Mexico McDonalds

Roswell New Mexico McDonalds


The ride down 285 to Roswell was uneventful. I made a stop at the spaceship McDonald’s in Roswell and wondered again is this all there is? I heard later that there was strip somewhere in Roswell that was dedicated to the alien tourist trade which might have been interesting to see, so I recommend to the city of Roswell that they should do a better job of letting people who are passing through know where it is. I was pretty tired by the time I made it to Carlsbad so I stopped at a motel that had a restaurant, but unfortunately they were closed and I was too tired to get back on the bike so I ordered delivery pizza and walked across the street and got a six pack of beer.

Day three was pretty easy... there was no stress about finding the right roads and I was getting in tune with my big old Goldwing, so all was well. I continued down 285 to Pecos, Texas, where I stopped at a little Mexican restaurant for an early light lunch of some very good crispy flautas

pecos-mexican-food

Pecos Mexican Restaurant

I got on Interstate 10 at Fort Stockton and continued on to Kerville for the night. I did make one small but interesting side detour on to old U.S. Highway 290 where I followed the road to Fort Lancaster which was not much to see, but there was an old stage coach there and a nice visitor center with restrooms. The road through the desert was good and I got to see the border patrol searching around a bridge, which made me feel a little uneasy since there was no traffic on that road and it was in the middle of no where.

Day four turned out to be a long one as well as a little stressful since I was going through San Antonio and Houston. I timed it so I made through Houston before the rush hour and it was still pretty hectic, but there were no close calls, so all was well. I was ready to get off the Interstate after Houston so I decided to get off the freeway at Winnie and drove in to Port Arthur, hoping to find a little motel along the beach, but I didn’t know that Port Arthur is a serious oilfield town and quite busy.

Holly Beach Louisiana

Holly Beach Louisiana

I hit it at the rush hour and was funneled through till I was finally able to get off and look at my I-phone maps to see where I was. I decided that Port Arthur was not so inviting, so I traveled over toward Holly Beach Louisiana in hopes of finding someplace to stay, but I was out of luck, so I traveled on to Lake Charles and stayed at the casino where I really enjoyed a few cold beers before I joined the locals in singing some karaoke.

Day five was easy... Lake Charles to home, straight down I-10 to Albany Louisiana, although I did encounter just enough rain to make me stop and put on my rain gear, it was just a minor nuisance on what turned out to be a great trip full of memories of the road. It was good to be home and sleep again in my own bed, but the call of the road is strong and I can’t wait to ride it again.

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