Leaving Tucumcari today. We’re heading west to Albuquerque. I get the impression it is hot here in the summer. I’m glad we’re at the end of the summer and not here in July or August.

Tucumcari has a lot of rundown buildings. It’s sad. It really has some neat Route 66 features. When you see this sort of “rust-belt” you have to ask what are all the factors that turned it in to a rust-belt. Taxes? Business environment/regulations? Lack of traffic? Etc.

Before Leaving Tucumcari

Charly saw this cool steam-powered chopper. (Because this is a fictional story I can create fictional items.)

She looked at me and said, “I’ll be back in a minute.”

An old guy stood close by. He was dressed in brown leathers from his head to his toes, had a long ZZ Top beard and a handlebar mustache. His goggles looked like welding goggles, and his helmet was nothing more than an old leather flight helmet.

Charly returned wearing leathers and began sweet talking the guy. Before I knew it, she hopped on the chopper.

“Does this thing drive like a normal bike?” she asked the guy.

“Sure does,” he said in a gruff voice, and added, “just don’t dump it because it takes a crane to upright it again.”

At this point, I was getting real nervous.

The old guy looked at me and said, “She earned it. Any chick who travels with a get-up like that was born to ride a steam chopper.”

Dirt flew, and gravel too. The sound was that of a Harley crossed with a steam train. It rumbled like a Harley, with the sound of a hiss as steam escaped the cylinder.

I could hear the bike as Charly disappeared from view. While I lost sight of her, I never lost hearing that rumble-hiss-hiss-rumble-hiss-hiss sound.

She soon returned, sweat pouring down her forehead and chest and said, “You should give this a try.”

“No thanks, my bike riding days are over,” I said with a smile.

The old guy chimed in with a tone of disbelief, “You used to ride?”

“Yup,” I replied.

“What did you ride?” he asked.

“A Kawasaki KZ-440LTD2,” I responded.

I could read his mind by the look on his face as if he were thinking, “Oh, a rice rocket guy.”

“The KZ-440LTD2 was one of the first Japanese cruiser style motorcycles to have a belt-drive as well as a bit of a rumble sound,” I said to ease his mind.

“Ah,” was all he said as he took the keys from Charly and said to her, “You have a great day and let me know if you ever decide to go to Sturgis.”

He then winked, and rumble-hiss-hissed down Route 66.