Saturday, May 10, 2014

Coast to Coast: Day 3: Kansas City, MO. Saturday, May 10, 2014

     I didn't wake up feeling too refreshed, but I had plenty of sleep. I opened my tent just as the other motorcyclist left at around 8 am, and that was the end of our relationship. No keeping in touch, no exchange of numbers, just here together for a slip of time before fading out of existence. It’s kind of cool that way. It has an aura of mysteriousness to it, and in the end, only made me feel more isolated.

     Within an hour I had my stuff packed and was on my way downtown to Kansas City, which was only about twenty miles from the previous night’s campsite. Since I left for my trip, my throttle became increasingly harder to pull as the grip kept slipping. I stopped at a downtown bike shop called "Cafe Racer" to get it fixed. I was really worried that I would be spending the whole day at the shop instead of getting to the doctor.

     The inside of the repair shop was small, but it felt open because the ceilings were high and the repair stations were visible from the waiting area just inside the front door. There were some vintage bikes on display here, but the one that caught my attention was a 1960’s BSA.

     I talked with the staff, and I was pleased to see that they understood my situation and that I was far away from home. One of the mechanics stopped working on the Honda he was servicing to bring his full attention to my bike. He knew everything about my motorcycle. He could simply look at a part of my bike and tell me if it was a reproduction or an original part. He told me that he had been fixing bikes since before mine was made. No kidding.

A beautiful, vintage BSA in the motorcycle shop

     He told me that in order to properly fit the throttle on the handlebar (I forgot the reason), he needed to cut off a small section of the handlebar. He informed me that the handlebar was close, but not an original part, so I let him. He cut off a very small piece which I fashioned into a ring.

     I was at the shop for maybe an hour and a half, so I stayed occupied by having a conversation with the owner of a Kawasaki ZX-14R. I knew that this Kawasaki had a 1,400cc, almost 200 horsepower engine and weighed the same as my motorcycle. I looked at this bike online long before my trip. Anyone crazy enough to buy this machine was definitely worth talking to. He said he lived in the area, and went through tires every 6,000 miles. I found that hard to believe, since I would go through tires every 500 miles if I owned that hunk of metal, but maybe that’s why I wouldn’t own one. He was just there for an oil change. I noticed the Kawasaki had some tasteful decals, which the owner said was put on by the factory.

     By the time I left the “Cafe Racer”, my throttle was easy to roll again. The grip still slipped, but only a little. In the interest of time, we decided that the glue holding the grip to the throttle was dry enough that I could continue on my journey. By the time I left the shop, I figured that I could check in to the hotel.

     Check in time at the Hampton Inn was 3:00 pm, and I was there at 11:30 am. Luckily, the hotel staff had just finished cleaning my room, so they allowed me to take the luggage off my bike and take it up there. On my way to the elevator, there was a woman a few years older than me who was massively hitting on me, but I was too tired to say anything smart. When I came back down the elevator, the concierge asked me if she was bothering me. I said no (since she was kinda cute), and the concierge told me that she was travelling with someone else. Uh oh. It occurred to me that either she was a "high class" prostitute, or she was a cheater. I wasn't going to deal with either.

     My next stop was at the urgent care. My first attempt to get to an urgent care was met with failure as they were booked for the day. My second attempt at another nearby unit was also a failure. There was too much traffic, so I turned around. Finally, I decided to take the highway to the second location and reach it from the other side and bypass the traffic. It wasn’t like my bike was being weighed down by my luggage that was safely locked in my hotel room.

     At the urgent care, they were quick to set me up with a doctor. Just as I had hoped, I simply needed antibiotics, and I was good to go. However, I didn’t leave without one of the nurses noticing my bike and having a long conversation with me about the Kawasaki cruiser that he had, how he decked it out, my bike, and my trip. Gotta love fellow motorcyclists.

     I went to a nearby pharmacy to fill my prescription and then went to a gas station to fill my tank. An older man got out of a white pickup truck at the pump next to mine, and asked me if I was from the vintage Japanese motorcycle show. I said no, but was curious about the show. He pointed me in the direction of the Kawasaki dealership a few miles away that hosted the bikes. When I arrived at the dealership, the staff told me that the show ended a few hours ago. Since I only knew about the show a few minutes before, I didn’t feel too bad. I stopped by a nearby Harley dealership instead to look at the bikes. The Harleys looked custom, but a salesman assured me that they were all stock.

     When I got back to the Hampton Inn, I decided to take a dip in the pool. The hotel had an indoor pool that was very small, but there was a hot tub that was exactly what I needed. There was a middle aged man with two small children there, and I started a conversation with him. He was from Arkansas, and he and his wife and children had just moved to Utah. He asked me about my story, and I told him I was on a bad idea trip to San Francisco from Columbus. He didn’t seem to think it was a bad idea. He said that this may be the only time I can go on a trip like this. When I get older I will have responsibilities that keep me tied up. We talked for a little while longer before I started to get too hot from the tub.

     After showering and changing clothes, I hopped on my bike and headed to Jack Stack Barbeque. The wait was 45 minutes to dine in, but I was running out of daylight, so I ordered carry out. In line, I met an older couple who was RVing from North Carolina. They said that they had eaten there before, and the BBQ was fantastic. It didn’t take too long before I had in my possession some burned ends and a full slab of ribs.

     I couldn’t fit both the ribs and the burned ends on my bike, so I ate the burned ends in the parking lot. Holy mother of god, it was the greatest thing that ever passed my lips. It was so tender and buttery and melted in my mouth. I took the highway back to the hotel, since I was still very hungry and wanted to eat the ribs before they got cold. I ate the ribs at one of the breakfast tables just inside the entrance of the hotel, but I couldn’t finish both the ½ pound of burned ends and full slab of ribs. I definitely had to get some more on the return trip.

Best ribs I have ever had 

     Before I went up the elevator, the concierge told me I could park my motorcycle on the sidewalk under the canopy at the entrance of the hotel. It was going to rain that night, so I thanked him and moved my motorcycle to the sidewalk.

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