JULY 14 - A Brush with Bandits on the High Plains
Driving across Kansas can be boring, but we enjoyed the beautiful countryside and seeing different sites. From Hays, KS to Goodland, KS, there was mile after mile of brilliant green cornfields patch worked against fields of golden hay. Taking local roads to avoid the interstate, we went through many little towns and I really think each one had a John Deere dealership. You know how you drive by a car dealership that has a ton of cars on the lot and you think “Wow. A lot of money tied up in that inventory.” Well, you ought to see the inventory in some of these JD lots!
Goodland, KS (elev. 3600) is a “must” stop. It is the last town in KS before the CO border. For many years, it was THE place to gas up before the long dry drive across the high plains to Denver. Although there are tiny little towns now that have maybe one pump, the tradition continues. Everyone stops in Goodland. And we did too!
We pull in and get out to stretch our legs. Filling up next to us was a couple of guys on big motorcycles.
Now, you should know that I’m pretty open minded about motorcycle people. I don’t have negative stereotypes. I know that many of them love America and travel in groups to see the incredible beauty of our country. So I go over and say, “Hi! Where are you guys from? Are you traveling as part of a group?”
“Denver. We’re Banditos," comes the reply.
“Really? What’s that?” I continue chatting as Larry is pumping gas.
“We’re the ones your parents warned you about. We’re the 1 percenters,” he says, pointing to a patch on his black leather jacket.
Now, I’ve heard of the 1 percenters! But I always thought they were very wealthy and usually Republican. Stereotypes aside, these guys don’t seem to fit that description. So, I say,“One percent?”
“Ninety nine percent of motorcyclists are great. But the Banditos are the other 1 percent.”
You have to know, I’m still kinda thinking this is a goof or something. “So, what? You rob and steal and…” My voice kinda drifts off.
Looking at our license plate, they say to Larry who has just walked up, “Where are you from? Sure must be a lot nicer riding in that fancy car than on these things. Got any golf clubs in there?”
Me, still being friendly: “Oh. We’re from Georgia! We’re doing a 7 week coast to coast road trip!”
With that, we wish them well and drive off. “They’re Banditos,” I tell Larry who had not heard the conversation. To answer his “what’s that?” I begin to Google.
“Uh oh. They were serious. They really WERE bad guys. It says they are an outlaw motorcycle club, an organized crime syndicate. It talks about trafficking in stolen property, gun violations, racketeering...Oh, God...and assassination-style murders.”
At this point, Larry is studying the rearview mirror intently to see if he can spot two motorcyclists following us down this very deserted stretch of road.
Obviously I am here to tell the story so all is fine. But if you folks on the Island happen to see a band of motorcyclists cleaning out our house, please call the police.
Off to the Rockies!