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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Hail Wyoming!

Written July 4, 2012, in Fairbanks, AK

An early darkening sky meant a storm was brewing as I rode into Wyoming from the south, having exited westward from Custer, South Dakota after parting with fellow oldrider Kenn Neher of Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville.  Kenn had met me in Omaha, joined me for dinner with my lovely niece Talya McDougall in that city, then accompanied Rocinante and me as far as Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Kenn has now had occasion to meet two of my favorite McDougalls, as when Piper and I drov e from Campton to Aspen to move her to Colorado, we stopped in Edwardsville, specifically to have lunch with Kenn, whom I  had met previously only on academic business.  I'd known Kenn had a BMW touring bike, but until this trip I did not know that he is a far-traveling soul, and a fine companion on a long ride.

Kenn and I bade farewell at the Monument, then he took off southeast toward home, as I headed northwest, toward Wyoming and beyond.

Riding U.S. 16, the two-laner out of Custer, I got as far as Moorcroft, Wyoming, when the late hour and darkening sky caused me to stop at the pleasant-looking, if traditional, "ma and pa motel" called the Rangeland Court Motel.  There I met the proprietor, whose name is Melinda, and whose husband is an active duty member of the military, and not present that evening.  Melinda proved an interesting and interested woman of 50-something years (I guess), and she offered me a somewhat spartan but perfectly clean room at a fair price.
I parked my bike with the aft end protected from the incipient storm by the porch roof, calling the office to tell Melinda that I had done so.  She brought me out a plywood support to put under my sidestand, lest it dent the tarmac driveway.  Warm and dry, I prepared for bed, and had just fallen asleep when startled by what sounded like machine guns firing at the room.  I ran to the sound of the guns, and flung open the door.  Hail.  Big, fast hailstones were smashing into the Harley parked next door, and those reaching the drive were exploding in white flashes against the pavement.  I was glad that only the hardest shells of my bike, the fairing and front fender, were exposed.
That is hail on the tarmac.
The next morning, Melinda came out to inspect her property.  She had a cup of coffee in her hand, but did not offer one to me, nor look at me happily.  I asked if there had been any damage.  "Yes," she said, "the siding is dented, and my truck also.  But I cannot file a claim for these, because I just did so a few months ago, and have just completed repairs.  I am afraid to file again, lest the insurance company designate this a high risk zone, and cancel our policy."

Melinda, you have my best wishes.  You are running your business well.  I hope that things work out well for you and your husband.  Tell him, please, that this blogger thanks him for his service on this Fourth of July!

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