On my longer motorcycle trips, I travel with SPOT, a satellite messenger geo-locator. It emits a periodic signal that plots my route via a network of satellites on a password-accessed web map with an approximate 10-minute delay.
SPOT also has an emergency button in the event that I’ve done something really stupid – and assuming I haven’t shuffled off this mortal coil. In normal use, SPOT’s most important asset is that it allows my wife, Lora, to know where I am at any given time. This is a great comfort to us both. And on my recent cross-country trip, yet another benefit surfaced.
I was about to leave Deadwood, South Dakota, on a route to Devils Tower, Wyoming. A look at the sky and a quick weather check changed my plan and pushed me southward toward Casper, then on to Rock Springs for the night.
Daybreak promised a great ride, with only a bit of ugliness on the distant horizon. “Distant” turned out to be about 25 miles south of Vernal, Utah, where I caught up with the Gods of Weather as they emptied their cold, wet, and icy satchels onto the road in front of me. Getting through the worst of it, I pulled into a gas station in Duchesne to fix a leaky collar.
A car pulled up beside me, the passenger window rolled down, and an older woman yelled something at me. I mimed that I couldn’t hear her. She got out of the car, walked over, and sternly warned me: “You need to get off the street!”
My blank stare caused her to point over my shoulder. Turning, I saw a black sky. “Storms like this have a lot of lightning!” she again yelled. My goal was to reach Green River by nightfall, about another 130 miles south on U.S. Route 191 in the opposite direction of the black sky, so I thanked her for her concern and took off.
That ride to Green River was one of my most memorable rides ever, but not for the best of reasons. The aforementioned Gods of Weather worked me over. U.S. 191 is a storied highway running from Canada to Mexico and supposedly dotted with spectacular scenery. I couldn’t tell you if the section I rode was scenic, as that black sky followed and then engulfed me, forcing my eyes to remain locked on the road ahead.
Snow flurries interrupted by hail (one stone large enough to knock my hand off the left grip), rain, and icy patches had me wondering if I was going to need SPOT’s emergency button. After cresting a nearly 10,000-foot pass, things improved, but by the time I arrived in Green River, I was physically and mentally thrashed.
All I wanted was my cozy tent and warm sleeping bag. The storm that dogged me had other ideas: The KOA campsite I reserved was underwater. Luckily I had a hastily devised Plan B: a Motel 6 directly in front of the KOA.
After checking in but before going to my room, I walked next door to the Tamarisk Restaurant. I needed a drink. I needed food. Absent my preferred medication of tequila at the restaurant (“Beer & Wine only”), I settled in with a beer and a menu, deciding on penne alfredo for my meal.
I had not talked with Lora since morning but knew she was SPOTing me. As I took my first bite of the penne, my phone chimed a text alert. It was from Lora and read: “Think you should get the penne alfredo, not the liver.”
She had seen where I had stopped, noted the restaurant as my likely choice, brought up their menu, and … decided on my meal. Gotta love her!
SPOT, the don’t-leave-home-without-it Husband Tracker & Dinner Menu.