40 turns south at Steamboat, and I take it to 131, a winding road that will eventually hit interstate 70 to the south. It doesn’t go directly though. There are plenty of hills and valleys and rivers to cross and run alongside. There’s fog in some of the river valleys, but it dissipates in the late-morning sunshine. This is one of the prettier legs of the trip with lots of forest views.
At Wolcott, 131 hits interstate 70, and although it’s only 75 miles from Steamboat Springs, it’s taken a couple of hours to get here. I haven’t missed a single overview or pullover to catch the sights, and it is well worth the two hours.
At about the 200 mile mark for the day, rainshowers start to appear, and the road is wet in places. I stop to put on my rain suit, but I know I’ll be in and out of showers for a while judging by the varied cloud cover up ahead. In Grand Junction I stop for fuel, and since the clouds have cleard off, I decide to be brave and pack up my rain suit.
It’s hot again, the interstate is dry, and the riding is good. Clear sailing ahead, and St. George isn’t out of the question for tonight.
Three hours later. Four hours. Up ahead it’s getting black. The clouds are moving fast though, and when I finally turn south at Salina it looks like I’ll have clear sailing across to the 15.
Man am I wrong. About 5 miles past the 70/15 junction the rain hits. Visibility goes down to a quarter mile. The wind picks up. And finally hail starts. It’s not too bad, just small stones. But the farther south I go, the larger the hailstones get. Finally the road is covered in them, about five or six inches deep except where the tire tracks of vehicles in front of me have been.
I’m starting to get worried now. The storm isn’t letting up and the hail isn’t going anywhere. Traffic has slowed to a crawl, with the lanes in both directions plugged with cars, some off the road in the median. Water is laying on the road, and I’m slowed to a crawl. It’s only 5 p.m., but it could be almost night time it’s so dark.
There’s a sign up ahead. Beaver. Any port in a storm, I think to myself, and I pull off the road and take refuge in a gas station to fill up and ponder my alternatives.
St. George is out. Looking around, I spy a motel. I pay for my gas and head on over. I’m the first in a long line of motorcycles to make this my home for the night.
I spend the evening drying out my boots and socks. The rest of me has stayed warm and dry in my Aerostiche, not the first time that’s been the case.
Almost 500 miles today. I’m definitely getting in the groove.