Monday, August 1, 2011


Part of the charm of heading out on the road is the characters one comes across who make a lasting impression on us.  The first one was Gary Parita, from Paris Junction, KS.  He was the guy who owned the restored gas station on Rt 66, and all the relics that made up that panorama.

Looking to be in his 70's, but sharp as a tack, he was a humble man who honestly was glad you took the time to stop in and say hi, and who was happy to tell you about the Mother Road for as long as you wanted to sit and listen.  Which was a long time, because he had so many fascinating things to share.  Over the course of a half hour, he steered us to the most enchanting places along our way, gave us free water or pop or whatever we wanted, and made two new friends.  His daughter said he was the most photographed man in Missouri.  You really should click the Picasa link at right and look at the pictures (Day 3.)

It's becoming a pattern to me that curators of the American past are some of my favorite people.

In Badlands National Park, which for all the world looked and felt like the Arizona desert, we ambled out of the outpost with an honest gallon of water, none of which made it out of the parking lot.  There, we were hooked up with some funky pills by a bohemian California couple in a monstrosity of a rig made out of a gargantuan olive green Mercedes-Benz military truck with a camper grafted to it, a spare tire the size of Godzilla's life preserver, and a Yeti cooler that supposedly could keep ice frozen on Satan's front porch or soemthing like that.  Everything to survive nuclear war, but no air conditioning.  We accepted the handful of Thermotabs graciously, which were supposed to replace all the stuff Gatorade does, without the calories and food coloring.  I took one with every bottle of water that day.  I'm still here.

We also ran into a small group of middle-aged "bikers" in near Devil's Tower, 3 couples riding spotless bikes with out of state plates, all wearing Harley t-shirts from dealers within a 50-mile radius.  We don't like to look down our noses at people, but that always gives us that little smirk.  We go into town and look for the trailer.

Pretty much all the employees at Maverick Cycles in Cheyenne suck.

On Route 66, we kept running into this couple stopping to take the same pictures we were.  We waited and took turns, then we finally struck up a conversation in Red Oak.  They were from Spain and spoke better English than many Americans.  They were on holiday in America, doing the entire route in a rental car.  I think the two dusty, bug-specked bikers added to their experience.

One of the employees at Mile-High H-D saw the back of my Space Coast (FL) Harley shirt, and walked up to ask me if I was from Florida.  I told him no, I'm from Pennsylvania.  He asked where.  Turns out he *used* to live in Florida, but also lived a few miles from us and worked in the Harley dealership just down the pike, where Donna remembered talking to him.  How's that for convoluted?

The alpaca guy, we didn't meet.  But that's probably just as well.

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