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Old 06-15-2013, 05:21 AM   #1
AirForce OP
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Joined: Jun 2004
Location: Kickin on Rt 66, Waynesville MO
Oddometer: 587
Went out West where the wind blows tall.

♪ ♪ “Up with the sun, gone with the wind” (Bob Seger, Travelin’ Man)
That was pretty much how each day went, up early and windy riding days. The genesis for this trip came from a Cycle World article on Must Ride Roads in America. The first one they did was the route from Mexican Hat, Utah to Torrey, Utah. I built the entire trip around that ride and a chance to see family and friends in Arizona. I also planned the trip around avoiding interstate highway as much as possible.
Day 1. Rolla, MO to Liberal, KS.
I was antsy and woke up early so I got on the bike and left at 0430. I figured it’s only 179 miles of I-44 and I’ve seen it many times before so why not ride it in the dark and get a jump on the days mileage. The route across Kansas would be Hwy 160 that took me through Coffeyville so I had the Eagles “Doolin’ Dalton” running through my head for a while. Don’t let anyone tell you Kansas is flat and boring. Well, maybe I-70 is, but southern Kansas has enough scenery to keep you happy. While fairly straight, the road between Medicine Lodge and Coldwater is the Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway that runs through rolling hills, mesas, and buttes. Late afternoon found me in Liberal, KS and the hotel clerk said there was the Mid-America Air Museum to see, as well as Dorothy’s House which was just around the corner from the hotel. After unloading the bike I went to walk on the Yellow Brick Road and then over to the museum. I found out at the museum that Gen Larry D. Welch, former Air Force Chief of Staff, graduated from Liberal High School. I was in the Air Force at the same time Gen Welch was our top dog.
__________________
"You're never too old to rock and roll if you're too young to die"
---------------------------------
08 R1200GS
1982 Yamaha XJ650RJ (Seca)
1989 Honda GB600.

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Old 06-15-2013, 05:28 AM   #2
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Joined: Jun 2004
Location: Kickin on Rt 66, Waynesville MO
Oddometer: 587
Day 2. Liberal, KS to South Fork CO.
After talking to a farmer in the lobby of the hotel, I decided to modify my route just a bit as the farmer recommended a road through the middle of many center-pivot farms. If you’re unsure of what a center-pivot farm is, just look out the window of a plane next time you are flying over Kansas. They are all the green circles on the ground. Yes, crop circles. Lots of them. The farmer also said 160 would take me near his home in eastern Colorado, which had been one of the hardest hit places during the Dustbowl. Part of 160 goes through the Cimarron National Grasslands and it was here I got to see my first Pronhorn Antelope of the trip. On the far side of the fence they are OK, but on the roadside they turned into extremely nervous critters which in turn got me very nervous. Into Trinidad and time for lunch at the Corner Shop Café for a very tasty BLT. Google maps tried to take me up I-25 when there was a curvy yellow line labeled “12” that went where I was going. Who wants to ride a concrete slab when there are curves to run?? Hwy 12 is known as the Highway of Legends and what a great ride it is! Running through the towns of Stonewall and Cuchara and passing through the Spanish Peaks Wilderness. Along 12 there were many large herds of mule deer which are much, much calmer than our local Missouri Whitetails. Thankfully. The day ended at 8200’ at South Fork where I’d booked a renovated 100 year old log cabin from Rich at the Chinook Lodge. Rich was from Kansas City so we had a good chat about Missouri. Dinner was at the Silver Fork where I had Buffalo Stew and a nice local brew. The waitress, Barbara, and I are both from Simi Valley, CA so I had another nice chat.
Dorothy's House in Liberal. I sent a donation while on this trip to the people of Moore, OK who lost lives and homes in the recent tornado


West of Liberal in the farms


Somewhere up on top of Hwy 12 (Highway of Legends) west of Trinidad, CO


Chinook Lodge, South Fork Colorado.
__________________
"You're never too old to rock and roll if you're too young to die"
---------------------------------
08 R1200GS
1982 Yamaha XJ650RJ (Seca)
1989 Honda GB600.

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Old 06-15-2013, 05:35 AM   #3
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Location: Kickin on Rt 66, Waynesville MO
Oddometer: 587
Day 3 South Fork CO to Ridgway CO and he Million Dollar Highway.
I awoke to a gorgeous 30º sunny morning and loaded up for breakfast at the Spruce Lodge. A ‘Gooey Mess’ and company provided by Beatrice the Dog. A Gooey Mess is an English Muffin with scrambled eggs, bacon, and then drizzled with maple syrup. Dee and her husband cook up just the kind of breakfast you need on a 30º day when you didn’t pack your electric vest because it is late May. Hwy 160 runs over Wolf Creek Pass (way up on the Great Divide, truckin’ on down the other side) so now I’ve got that fun song in my head. Some of the curves did look like malaria germs and I refrained, for the most part, from flyin’ offa the shoulder sprayin’ pine cones, rocks, and boulders. The scenery, road, curves and all are spectacular and I’m just having fun. In Durango I get a fine slice of pepperoni pizza at Home Slice before heading up the Million Dollar Highway. I’ve heard about it for years and now it’s finally my turn to ride it. It’s not that far to Ridgway mileage wise, but it takes me 5 hours with all the stops for photos! At one point I see a dirt road going off into the mountains so riding a GS I decided a little gelande would be in order. Scenic? Yes. Difficult to turn a loaded GS around on a rocky single lane with a looong drop off on one side and sharp rocks on the other? Also, yes. A tad bit of sweat was worded up getting the big girl turned around and headed back for safer terrain. After crossing Molas Pass (10,910’) I catch up to a car with the license plate “ZPTDUDA”. If you figure it out you too will have this little song stuck in your head. My oh my, what a wonderful day it was. Traffic was minimal so they enjoyment factor was high. I stayed the night in the Adobe Inn in Ridgway and was absolutely stuffed on their enchilada dinner and margaritas. So stuffed I had to take a walk around town and see their Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum and the town square and surrounding area which were the location for True Grit. The John Wayne version.
Old watering station on the rail road

Looking down from the Pagosa Springs side of Wolf Creek Pass. Thank you C.W. McCall for contaminating my brain.


Million Dollar Higway, US 550

Mineral spring on US 550




Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum, Ridgway Colorado.
__________________
"You're never too old to rock and roll if you're too young to die"
---------------------------------
08 R1200GS
1982 Yamaha XJ650RJ (Seca)
1989 Honda GB600.

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Old 06-15-2013, 05:42 AM   #4
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Joined: Jun 2004
Location: Kickin on Rt 66, Waynesville MO
Oddometer: 587
Day 4. Ridgway CO to Window Rock AZ
Cold. Frost on the bike, but it’s sunny and I’m on vacation! Today I ride the rest of the San Juan Skyway over to Telluride and down to Dolores and Cortez. The scenery is spectacular as is the ride. Well, except for all the traffic!! But it turns out they are all headed for Telluride so when I turn off to the south I have the whole road to myself. Up on top the scenery reminds me a lot of my previous home in Alaska and I find myself getting a little homesick for the Great Land. Dropping out of the snow-laden mountains into Dolores helps me get back into the ride. I detour up a paved road that runs up Dolores Canyon and it is just full of great curves and horse and vacation properties and proves to be a very fun 40 miles. Stopping for a late breakfast in Dolores I find The Depot and order a HUGE chorizo breakfast burrito that holds me until a late dinner. Turning back to the east on Hwy 160 has me headed to Mesa Verde and the cliff dwellings. The cliff dwellings prove to be everything everyone has said about them. Amazing, confounding, and very moving. What I hadn’t planned on was the 23 miles of superb twisty road to get back to the cliff dwellings. All that for just a $5 entry fee. Is this a great country or what?!?! My plan had called to head to Four Corners with a backtrack to 491 and head south for the hotel in Window Rock, AZ. Looking at the map I made a big mistake. I can continue on 160 west, turn south on 191 and then left onto Indian 12 to see Canyon De Chelly. This only adds about 4 hours to the day, but is well worth it even if the folks were a bit concerned that I checked in 4 hours late. After the stop at Four Corners to take the obligatory “Hey, look! I’m in four states at one time!” photo (as well as reading about all the surveyors who established the lines and points of the states) I head for Canyon De Chelly. Riding through the Indian reservation it strikes me…this is the first time I haven’t seen a barbed wire fence along the roadside. It also means free range cows and horses are right next to the road. Luckily they seem pretty oblivious to the passage of the GS. Another thing I noticed on the reservation, virtually every road sign is covered in graffiti. Kind of disappointing given the beauty of the countryside. I pass by Hwy 13 and don’t even give it a glance. I’d find out what a mistake this was on Day 9. Canyon De Chelly, the Canyon of Changes. Spectacular, awe inspiring, breath taking. All adjectives that don’t do justice to the canyon in person. Add to the beauty the fact that for the most part I am alone at most of the overlooks so I can just sit there and absorb everything I am seeing. You can keep your Grand Canyon, Canyon De Chelly is much smaller and more personal. If you are daring you can even walk right to the edge of a 700’ drop with nary a guard rail or rope in sight. Just a simple sign warning you to control your children and pets. Or adults acting like children. I’m glad I make the stop even though I will be stopping here again in a few days with friends. Two stops here still turns out to be not enough.
Obligatory "Hey look!!! I'm in four states at one time!!!!" photo.


Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde CO


Indian 12 in Arizona. Can it get any straighter???


Canyon De Chelly, Arizona


__________________
"You're never too old to rock and roll if you're too young to die"
---------------------------------
08 R1200GS
1982 Yamaha XJ650RJ (Seca)
1989 Honda GB600.

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Old 06-15-2013, 05:44 AM   #5
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Joined: Jun 2004
Location: Kickin on Rt 66, Waynesville MO
Oddometer: 587
Day 5 Window Rock AZ to Payson AZ
It’s another early morning departure heading for Gallup and then down the Indian roads to 32, 12, 180, Alpine, Eagar, Show Low and on into Payson to visit family for a couple of days. Even though this is a “short” day, it is still filled with scenery, beautiful skies, nearly empty roads and very friendly folks in Alpine. Over lunch I listen to a cowboy bemoan the obstinance of mules, extol the virtues of a good cattle dog and the benefits of a solid horse when hunting mountain lions. This is not the corner diner in Missouri. Outside of Sunrise Ski Area I get held up for 20 minutes waiting for the pilot car on a road paving project. I spend the time talking with a retired Navy dentist and his wife from Flagstaff who are out on a back roads ride themselves. That afternoon I have a little reunion with my parents and uncle and aunt. All is well in the world today.
Salt River Canyon, AZ


Apache Trail from Roosevelt Reservoir to Phoenix. I didn't ride much of this as I really wanted to see family. Another day.
__________________
"You're never too old to rock and roll if you're too young to die"
---------------------------------
08 R1200GS
1982 Yamaha XJ650RJ (Seca)
1989 Honda GB600.

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Old 06-15-2013, 05:48 AM   #6
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Location: Kickin on Rt 66, Waynesville MO
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Day 7 Payson AZ to Window Rock
Same route back to Window Rock and the same hotel. Not a chance! There is the Apache Trail and Salt River Canyon to ride today! From the alpine of the Mogollon Rim to the saguaro filled desert, Arizona just keeps changing and delighting. At least I didn’t have to go into Phoenix where I would have been delighted with 100º temps. Too much, too early. I seem to be gifted today. Every time I pull off to take a photo a bunch of cars go past and I am left with an open road in front and back so it seems that I have Salt River Canyon and 77 all to myself. Out of the canyon and into Show Low and no more curves. But that doesn’t matter because the high desert still has a beauty all it’s own. I have to stop for a few photos of laser straight roads. These are a surveyors dream. Set up, backsight, plunge, foresight, set point, move instrument, repeat. One quick stop in Gallup for a photo of the old Route 666 Devil’s Highway sign. I’ve heard it was renamed 491 because people kept stealing the 666 signs. This evening will be a good evening because my friend from the Marines and his wife are riding up to spend a day riding with me. Mark and I taught troops at Fort Leonard Wood, shot archery tournaments and bowhunted back in the late 90s. When he married Gin, I was his best man. So this would be another excellent reunion.


OK, explanation first. When I lived in Alaska I saw a postcard that just cracked me up called "On The Road To Tok" (google it) and I've been taking "On The Road To..." ever since. nuff said.

On The Road To Gallup.


Gallup NM
__________________
"You're never too old to rock and roll if you're too young to die"
---------------------------------
08 R1200GS
1982 Yamaha XJ650RJ (Seca)
1989 Honda GB600.

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Old 06-15-2013, 05:57 AM   #7
GrizzLee
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Nice pictures. Looks like a really neat trip. Like the C.W. Mcall reference. That is some incredible country.

Word of advice here. Hard to read the text. You copied it in from some other place I suspect. The black font on grey background makes it very hard to read.

Otherwise,
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"Nature Sets the Boundaries; We choose to cross"
Blog: RubiKonAdventures
RR: Destination Nuxalk Nation
RR: Our Life Behind Bars
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