Smith Center, KS to Glenwood Springs, CO
I knew day 4 was going to be long. It had to be. One of the easy "freebie" bonus was stopping at In-n-Out Burgers and getting up to five receipts. It was a progressive bonus, so if you hit all five you could get more than 11,000 points total. Two catches. 1) The only place I was near an In-n-Out would be in Salt Lake City and 2) they close at 1:30 on Saturday nights/Sunday mornings. This meant I would need to get from somewhere in eastern Colorado, down to the Million Dollar Highway, over to Loa, UT, down to Panguich, UT, then back to Salt Lake City by midnight at the latest in order to have enough time to hit 5 In-n-Outs. This mean that I needed to get to somewhere past Denver tonight, by way of Topeka, KS. All of this necessitated a very long day, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 1050 miles with a dirt road, many secondary roads, and downtown Denver on a Friday night. Oh yeah, its the Fourth of July too.
Day 4 would start, coincidently enough where Day 3 ended, in Smith Center, KS. Smith Center looked much better by day and I was on the road by 7:00. My first bonus of the day was a memorial Tom "Boston" Corbitt, who after killing John Wilkes Booth, moved to Kansas where he dug a hole in the ground to live in. Oh yeah, he later castrated himself with a pair of scissors, so it was obvious to the people of the day that 'ole Tom was few fries short of a Happy Meal. The local Boy Scout troop erected a memorial near the dugout site, and I was on my way to take a picture of it. There was road construction on the main highway near the site, and in fact at least one rider wasn't able to get down the dirt road leading out to the memorial. I was able, and a few miles out on a dirt road in the middle of a field I found the memorial. Seeing that time was short, I chose not to walk out to the dugout site itself.
Next stop was Topeka and the M&M's Factory. However, there apparently wasn't a main road that went straight there, so I went around two sides of the triangle, rather than over the hypotenuse. One of the required items for M&M's Factory bonus was to bring back an unopened bag of Dark Chocolate Peanut M&Ms, seemingly the most rare form of M&Ms, since not a SINGLE GOD DAMNED GAS STATION I'd been in had them. However, before I left this morning, I googled the elusive confection and found a hit: Target - and it was right off the road when I passed through Topeka. Bless you Target. I was even able to check their inventory and verified they were in stock. I resisted the urge to buy them online and have them ready for pick, figuring this would likely take longer than just running in an buying them.
Upon arriving at the Topeka Target, I did feel a bit out of place amongst the normals as I'm sure I was quite the sight after the morning's ride. However I got my hands on the damned M&Ms and was back on the road without significant delay.
The factory itself was closed for the day, and after a quick chat with the rent-a-cop, I was able to get my picture. I had a nice bit of luck upon leaving the factory, as a Deputy Sheriff pulled up and stopped right in front of me. I pulled in behind him and persuaded him to hold my rally flag for the picture. He was really nice and seemed interested in the ride.
Now it was time to get on I-70 for a scenic ride across Kansas, insert Dorothy joke here. I would have one brief respite from I-70 in Abilene, KS to go to President Eisenhower's Library. While leaving Abilene, I definitely did not stop to get fireworks, which was a bonus location. Since transporting fireworks across state lines is apparently a crime, I most assuredly did not stop and pick up the lamest roman candles ever. If I had picked up some lame roman candles, I would have been thrilled that they were small enough to fit in my pannier. However, I'll never know since none of this ever happened.
I-70 across Kansas is not very exciting. Oh, why beat around the bush...it sucks. It was really windy, enough that I was perpetually leaned at about a 20 degree angle. Remember the 300 mile right turn on i-80? Now I was in a 600 mile left turn on I-70. Another thing that sucked about this section of highway was the fact that I was getting really horrible gas mileage. The combination of the wind, an 80 mile-per-hour speed limit, and the slow climb up to the Rockies was causing me to start looking for gas after only 120 miles. I ended up getting gas one more time on this stretch of road than I'd planned on, which only made the day longer.
Denver was one of the cities I was looking forward to returning to. Then I remembered something: When I was there, I thought Denver was an absolute hole and it was the area outside of Denver that I really liked. I'd be hitting downtown around 9:00 pm on Friday, the Fourth of July. Lets just say there were a few people out of the streets.
I finally pulled up at Union Station and found the loading zone I'd planned to use from my Google Street View research had been made into a sidewalk. Dammit. There wasn't much of anywhere that worked for a good picture while remaining on the bike, but I managed to squeeze in front a parked car and get a really lame picture of the sign. At least you could tell what it was...I hoped.
Next stop was down in Littleton. This should be easy right? Ah, its Fourth of July and roads are closed! I was able to route myself around them, but spent a lot of time in traffic. I finally got to the memorial and was happy to get back on the freeway, as I was thoroughly sick of surface streets. However, Denver would get one last shot in at me. My route out of town took me by Red Rocks, where they were having a fireworks display. Many cars were pulled off the road, and others decided to slow down and watch the fireworks go off from the road. Idiots. Eventually I got back on I-70 and started the climb out of Denver.
At some point, I stopped to put on my heated gear, which I definitely needed. It got pretty cold. I also was starting to get pretty tired at needed to find a place to call it a night. I started calling nearby hotels on my GPS as I continued down the road. I'd purposely refrained from using my Sena headset to conserve power for the evening, when I knew I would need it for GPS directions through Denver and finding a hotel. Luckily, I left enough power to accomplish all those tasks.
The first several hotels I called were full. Uh oh. Not good. I finally talked to a very nice lady at the Holiday Inn in Glenwood Springs who told me the Ramada had a few rooms left. I took the exit and found the Ramada just off the exit ramp. Thankfully they had a room left, for $140. Seeing that I was going to spend less than 6 hours in it, I was a little peeved, but not so much that I didn't pay the money and turn in for the night.
I did learn why I had such a bitch of a time finding a room. Apparently all the hardcore outdoor types from Denver come up to Aspen and Vail for the weekend and go "camping" in hotels. Sigh.
One more day to go. At this point, I was starting to have the slightest inkleing that I just might finish.
Indicated mileage: 997