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Old 07-13-2011, 09:39 PM   #1
foobert OP
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Eh? Moto to the planes -- 7K miles of friends, family, and open roads

And so begins the tale of what turned into a 7K mile motorcycle adventure on my trusty 2008 BMW F800ST. The "final" destination is Oshkosh, WI to catch the big airshow that happens each year around the end of July. Some of you may be thinking this all sounds so familiar, but, with an extra week, 40% more miles, better roads, more solo time, more destinations, and ... Let's just say turned into a much different trip for me than the prior year's adventure.

The truly astute observer will recognize that nearly a full year has elapsed since posting this, but, you know what, you can go read someone else's RR if that's a problem


2010 route -- a little teaser of what's to come...



The general plan is to tour around CO, head down to the Dallas area to visit a friend, meet my dad in Memphis and hang out there for a day, and then the two of us head up to Oshkosh for the air show. After the show, we'll turn west and to Idaho to join up with the rest of my extended family and meet up with my wife and kids to hang out for a week. About 3 weeks after it all started, we'll then head back to CA.



Day 1: San Jose, CA to Tonopah, NV -- 370 Miles







The previous weeks were preoccupied by scheming routes that would pack the most into the days of freedom from work and the regular routine of life. Friday, July 16th had finally arrived. After tying up the last fews ends at work, I met up with my wife and 3 girls for a quick lunch before hitting the road. I couldn't help but feel guilty for abandoning them in the most selfish of ways in order to chase the winds of the open road.


Quick lunch with the family -- One last chance to see by wife and 3 girls before hitting the road.

iPhone, map



After saying goodbyes and promising to be safe, and call, and have fun while still being safe -- I was off with just one last niggling detail to take care of: find a gas station.

There were some surface streets along the way get to the freeway and surely one would have a station. And, indeed there was; but the station wasn't on on my side of the street, so, I just kept on going rather than waste time with U-turns and backtracking. Hmmm, the fuel computer claimed there's 3 miles of gas left in the tank, but, it's always erred on the conservative side, so, there must be another station around the corner.

Wrong! A mile past the gas station that I should have stopped at, the bike dies. There is no sinking feeling of stupidity quite like that of trying to save a few seconds and instead wasting almost an hour pushing the bike to the nearest gas station that I had just passed.

While pushing the bike through one intersection, the crosswalk timer had expired and the light was about to turn green enabling a dozen anxious cars to barrel through my path. At the same time, the strap holding my helmet onto the bike gave way and I hear that sickening sound of fiberglass bouncing on pavement as it goes sailing into the middle of the intersection. As if I was unaware of this, some folks started honking and pointing to get my attention. The light turned green just as I got to the side of road with the kickstand down. Thankfully, the cars spared me from a real game of Frogger while running into the middle of the intersection to retrieve my freshly scratched helmet.

Pushing a bike gives plenty of time to reflect and I couldn't shake that nagging feeling about this rather inauspicious beginning of the trip. To add insult to injury, my well timed departure was delayed enough to coincide with the miserable Bay Area Friday flee (read: parking lot) heading over the Altamont pass.


The first of the twisties -- Finally have the central valley behind me...

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/3.5, 1sec, 18mm focal L. @66 MPH, ~111mi from prev photomap



The Central Valley was in typical form for mid July with the temperature peaking out at 106˚F according to bike's thermometer -- there's just nothing fun or interesting about getting across the salad bowl of California. But, the payoff comes on the other side when starting up the hills, the intense smell of pine forests put a smile inside my helmet. When the traffic disappeared past the town of Strawberry and I had Sonora pass to myself, the smile was all grin. The pavement was in good condition with the only worries being the gravel kicked into the sharpest of the corners from RV's cutting the corners.


CA 108 -- Sonora pass is my favorite way to get over the Sierras.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/3.5, 1/400sec, 18mm focal L. @40 MPH, ~22mi from prev photomap





CA 108 -- 26% grade ahead! It's a real roller coaster.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/3.5, 1sec, 18mm focal L. @42 MPH, ~0.8mi from prev photomap





CA 108 -- The trees are really starting to thin out and the rocks are getting more baren.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/3.5, 1/800sec, 18mm focal L. @38 MPH, ~0.7mi from prev photomap



The fun part of Sonora pass is that it is cut along a path that made it easy to build the road, but did almost nothing to make it an "easy" road to travel on. Well, that is, unless you're on cycle that loves corners and has enough pep to power through 10K ft elevations with ease -- a naturally aspirated engine is only making ~2/3's of the power it does at the at sea level (all else being equal).


CA 108 -- Not the steepest section, but, getting there.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.0, 1/500sec, 18mm focal L. @27 MPH, ~314ft from prev photomap
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Old 07-13-2011, 09:48 PM   #2
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CA 108 -- Getting close to the top.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.0, 18mm focal L. @45 MPH, ~3.9mi from prev photo, map



After this, I put the camera away and enjoyed the ride down. Always takes more focus going down, what with gravity doing all it can to keep the speed up for you, even if you don't want it.


CA 108 -- Time to go down...

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/3.5, 1/320sec, 18mm focal L. @10 MPH, ~1.9mi from prev photo, map



At the bottom of the grade, just before getting to US 395, there's a Marine training complex complete with a short helicopter runway next to the road. Never once seen any action here, but, I suppose I've never made the trip during a weekday either.


CA 108 -- USMC Mountain Warfare School

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.0, 1/640sec, 31mm focal L. @60 MPH, ~6.5mi from prev photo, map





US 395 -- Just turned south off 108.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/400sec, 52mm focal L. @58 MPH, ~3.9mi from prev photo, map





Heading through Devil's Gate Pass -- Picturesque place to build a house. Must be brutal in the winter...

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.2, 1/1000sec, 34mm focal L. @74 MPH, ~4.5mi from prev photo, map



I'd come across patches of wet roads, but, never got any rain. Heading into Bryant, I was enjoying the rainbow left behind, even though the radar detector was pleading with me to slow down. Turns out, it was just a mobile "your speed is" trailer parked on the edge of town. But, there is a CHP shop in town, so, I wasn't taking any chances.


Spotty patches of rain -- terrible picture

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1000sec, 70mm focal L. @61 MPH, ~8.6mi from prev photo, map



It was gett'n on 7:30 and lunch with the family had long faded away, especially after the unplanned exercise workout trying to get out of town. The fish tacos at "The Barn" were just what I needed. When I ordered, the price came up a wee spot more than I expected and after inquiring about it, the response was a dismissive, "it's this price plus some tax" and a what's-your-problem attitude. OK, whatever, here's the money, don't expect me to rattle that tip jar.

When I went to pick the order, there was 57 cents next to my basket of tacos and an apology to boot. The tacos were delish and earned them a tip after all.


Dinner stop

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/3.8, 1/1000sec, 22mm focal L. ~1.9mi from prev photo, map



Heading east on CA 120 past Mono Lake is a great stretch of road that I rolled during the previous year's trip. It was quite different at night. I don't much care for riding beyond what the lights can safely show in time to handle unexpected obstacles and it's taxing to stay focused when the only thing visible is black tarmac and a few mesmerizing stripes painted on it.


Evening colors -- The last of the evening light hits the clouds for a warming good night.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/30sec, 18mm focal L. @53 MPH, ~25mi from prev photo, map



There's very little on the way to Tonopah and it was a very dark night roll'n through the desert. I never really spooked myself, but, neither was it relaxing in any way. Quite frankly, arriving into my planned destination of Tonopah around 10:30 was one of the few times I was really glad to be done riding for the day.


Drink'n alone, tonight -- After the late push through the dessert, it was more than the beer making my eyes blurry.

Nikon D70, ISO 800, ƒ/5.6, 0.6sec, 25mm focal L. ~98mi from prev photo, map



The National 9 motel looked to be a reasonable enough place on the outside, but, the price of $39.23 (inclusive of tax) was low enough to think twice about moving on down the road to see what else Tonopah had to offer. It turned out it wasn't half as scary as I'd have guessed it would be and I actually managed a good night's rest.
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Old 07-13-2011, 09:49 PM   #3
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Day 2: Tonopah, NV to Tropic, UT -- 406 Miles




Last year I passed through Tonopah around breakfast time and found a very limited few choices. The motel clerk recommended the restaurant at the Ramada and it was indeed better than the Banc Club. The Ramada was practically like a mining museum with all sorts of equipment stashed throughout for decor. I had a few burdensome quarters that I intended to lighten from pockets on the way through the casino, but not a single one armed bandit accepted quarters. Very few actually had any vestige of an arm for which to pick your pocket with.

And yet, one of them somehow managed to lighten my wallet of a dollar bill -- guess that's why they don't take coins any more...


US 6 -- Heading west out of Tonapah.

Nikon D70, ISO 320, ƒ/4.5, 1/1600sec, 62mm focal L. @94 MPH, map



It was a fairly late start with some sleeping in and then having breakfast before scooting down the road. Shameful, but, what good is vacation if you don't get to sleep in a little? The mining days of Tonopah ended around WWII and the military has largely pulled out of the area leaving the town in a state of decline. I was all too happy to be on my way.


The buzzards are circling -- If you look careful, there's one on the ground too.

Nikon D70, ISO 320, ƒ/5.0, 1/1600sec, 18mm focal L. @95 MPH, ~46mi from prev photo, map



In all of the planning, it never occurred to me that the route was near Groom Lake (Area 51). NV 375 is also known as the "Extra Terrestrial Highway" and I'd seen all the same pictures in other ride reports. None-the-less, the surprise of seeing the sign warranted turning around and snapping a few pics.


Queue the clichι pictures -- I had no idea that I was near Area 51 and Groom Lake.

Nikon D70, ISO 320, ƒ/5.0, 1/1000sec, 31mm focal L., ~17mi from prev photo, map



Inside the store/tavern at Rachel, NV, was a wide assortment of alien chotchkies with all sorts of photos of lens flair, errant reflections, and other gimics that look like something flying in the sky. A few of them looked fairly convincing, but, it was all in good fun. What really perked my interest was the signed photos of famous test pilots that have been through, like Chuck Yeager and Scott Crossfield and several others that I no longer remember.


A mandatory stop -- for more clichι pictures

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/8.0, 1/250sec, 22mm focal L., ~0.3mi from prev photo, map



Back on the road, I was enjoying the desert fauna and wondering how anything could possibly survive out here.


Joshua trees

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.0, 1/640sec, 70mm focal L. @81 MPH, ~19mi from prev photo, map





Gett'n crazy with the tar snake machine on NV 375 -- Fortunately, they weren't terribly slippery like some of'm get.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.0, 1/400sec, 35mm focal L. @81 MPH, ~6.5mi from prev photo, map



On open roads, the F800 normally gets about 50-55 MPG which nets an out-of-gas range of ~220-230 miles. Trouble is: I really wasn't paying any mind to what the fuel computer might have been saying about my heavy right wrist until the low fuel light came on near the NV 375/US 93 junction.

Hmmm, 24 miles of gas left. Tonopah to Caliente is 192 miles.

Let's see, 149 plus 24 ... carry the one, and ... No sir, not gonna make it! Not even close!


Paying the piper -- Should have had plenty to get to Caliente.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.0, 1/100sec, 70mm focal L. @84 MPH, ~7.1mi from prev photo, map



Several miles away from the US 93 junction, it was clear there were some buildings ahead ... just maybe ... cross my fingers ... maybe one of them would be as gas station??

No sir ... I don't like it!

Paging Mr. Garmin to the white courtesy phone.

Me: Mr. Garmin, is there a gas station within a 20 mile radius of me?

Mr. G: How the hell should I know, you cheep bastard never coughed up $50 to update my database.

Me: Ahhhhuhhhhhmmm. Gas stations don't just get up and walk away.

Mr. G: No, but, they do go out of business. And sometimes they even jump ship and change over to the competition's brand. The traitors!

Me: Can you please just tell me if, 3 years ago, there was a gas station within 20 miles of me?

Mr. G: Yes, but it's not along your current route.

Me: I've already learned on this trip that I don't like pushing the bike. Do you think I care if it's on my way anymore?

Mr. G: Turn right onto US 93.

Me: Yes sir!


The end of NV 375 -- I'd really, really hoped there'd be a gas station here.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.0, 1/400sec, 70mm focal L., ~4.0mi from prev photo, map



Maybe I was abducted while on the ET highway, because, that's exactly how that conversation with the GPS played out. It talks to me, you know....

Even the handicapped Mr. Garmin was spot on finding some petrol about 6 miles out of the way. The cold drink and a cool down inside made for a refreshing break to regain my sanity.

After getting ready to roll, the audio/music feed from the GPS wasn't working. Had I insulted Mr. Garmin one too many times such that it was refusing to play music? Odd. Huh, nor did the radar detector audio work either. Well, crapolla.

Just prior to the trip, I had installed an Amplirider audio mixer to sum together various audio sources and give a master volume control. I figured one of the plugs must have pulled loose. Might as well bust into it and sort it out...

In the process, there must have been a half dozen people that saw the bike in various stages of disassembly that asked if I needed any help, bless their hearts. But, then a few of them proceeded to yak at me in a one-way, ad nauseam "conversation" about random stuff. It was almost as if they thought I needed company since I obviously couldn't go anywhere for a short while. I was polite and feigned interest, but, I really just wanted to focus on debugging, and didn't have it in me to overtly shut them down.



Yard sale on bike parts -- No, I didn't need any help. Thanks for offering...

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.5, 1/40sec, 35mm focal L., ~4.8mi from prev photo, map


I had all but given searching for the problem before getting to the point of cracking into the Amplirider itself. Sure enough, the moment the lid was off, the problem was perfectly clear: the voltage regulator fell onto the ground after the slightest of wiggles. It had been soldered to far away from the package body such that it vibrated the leads into oblivion. I carry a wide assortment of tools and repair stuff, but, a soldering iron was not in my abbreviated arsenal.


Geee, why doesn't my audio work -- Now, who's got a soldering iron?

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.5, 1/15sec, 70mm focal L., map


I had to give up on the audio and get to some place that had a modest hardware store to get a soldering iron and solder. Got the bike all buttoned up and plugged the ear buds directly into the radar detector and hit the road. I could survive the rest of the day without listening to the comforting voice of Mr. Garmin assuring me I needed to make a U-turn, "when possible".


US 93 -- Back on the road, still no audio, but, enjoying the road.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.0, 1/250sec, 18mm focal L. @74 MPH, ~36mi from prev photo, map





Through the canyon into Caliente -- Love the strata that the water cut through.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.5, 1/640sec, 40mm focal L. @77 MPH, ~1.5mi from prev photo, map



The town of Caliente is another example of having seen better days. It was a railroad town that kept the steamers chugging through the area. But, the advent of diesel locomotives took care of any need to stop here. Now it seems that the primary employer is the BLM office.


By-gone era -- the 1923 train station/depot is long unused for its original purpose.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.0, 1/1000sec, 18mm focal L. @28 MPH, ~2.0mi from prev photo, map





NV 319 -- Heading to the Utah state line.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.0, 1/640sec, 31mm focal L. @73 MPH, ~20mi from prev photo, map
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Old 07-13-2011, 09:52 PM   #4
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UT 56 -- Welcome to Utah. Now, cool off with a brief shower.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.5, 1/640sec, 48mm focal L. @78 MPH, ~27mi from prev photo, map



Desert showers are usually a welcome respite from the midday heat and it's always a gamble on whether to stop and don the rain gear. This one looked wimpy enough, but, still managed to soak well through my mesh riding gear. Incidentally, all that air flow through the gear makes for a fantastic swamp cooler effect inside. By the time the shower was over, I was quite literally shivering, even though it was still 88˚ outside.


Brrrr. -- 88˚F is chilly compared to the 100+ a few minutes prior.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/80sec, 70mm focal L. @80 MPH, ~15mi from prev photo, map



In Cedar City, UT, I dorked around trying to find a hardware store to get a soldering iron. First couple of stops were a bust and I was about to give up when I stumbled across a brand new Ace Hardware that was the best one I'd ever been into. There were multiple choices to pick from in the soldering and welding section -- I was shocked.


UT 14 -- Leaving Cedar City

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/125sec, 24mm focal L. @52 MPH, ~23mi from prev photo, map



UT 14 through Cedar Canyon was a blast. There was a fair bit of traffic, but, plenty of places to pass and keep moving.


UT 14 -- through Cedar Canyon

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1sec, 18mm focal L. @66 MPH, ~7.0mi from prev photo, map



UT 14 is heading toward the general direction of Cedar Breaks National Monument, for which I'd never heard anything about. But, they usually have good reasons to designate places as such, so it'd be worth a looksee. The painted hills were giving some clues as to what may be in store.


Painted cliff -- A little teaser for the main attraction into Cedar Breaks Natl Monument

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/320sec, 52mm focal L. @42 MPH, ~3.4mi from prev photo, map



Yeah, it's a big tear in the ground, but, the interesting thing is that it's sedimentary rock at 10k Ft elevation. Once upon a prehistoric time, a great lake about the size of Lake Erie covered much of southwestern Utah. The erosion into the Claron basin lake formed the sediment layers and, later, a fault pushed them far above the lake level to the elevation they are at today. Much of the Bryce area was formed by the same lake. More info here.


Cedar Breaks National Monument -- well worth taking the turn-off

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/8.0, 1/50sec, 18mm focal L., ~4.3mi from prev photo, map



A fellow STN'r recommended eating at the Bump and Grind in Brian Head a short hop away from Cedar Breaks. Brian Head is cool little tourist/vacation town that'd probably make for a great ski or snowmobile destination. I happened to be visiting during the middle of Harley Days, and the little town was just swarming with hogs. For the life of me, I couldn't remember the name of the Bump and Grind and touring through the town didn't aid the recollection. With all the Harley's parked at every restaurant, I just motored on down the road.


A ski run over-pass -- They take their skiing very seriously in Brian Head.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/8.0, 1sec, 18mm focal L. @35 MPH, ~5.0mi from prev photo, map






UT 143 -- An easy road to cruise on.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/8.0, 1/160sec, 18mm focal L. @62 MPH, ~7.7mi from prev photo, map





Panguitch Lake -- Would make a great summer home retreat.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/8.0, 1/160sec, 18mm focal L. @30 MPH, ~4.7mi from prev photo, map



After giving up the food quest in Brian Head, the Burger Barn was an inviting lunch spot. The BBQ pork sandwich was all bonus.



Burger Barn -- on the side of UT 143

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/8.0, 1/60sec, 18mm focal L., ~0.2mi from prev photo, map




BBQ Pork sandwhich -- at the Burger Barn in Panguitch

iPhone, map



UT 143 was a hoot of a road -- not too much traffic and generally in good shape. Although too late for my trip, a STN member recommended Mammoth Creek Rd (Forest Service 68) as a better alternative. Next time ....


UT 143 -- Following Panguitch Creek

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/8.0, 1/160sec, 18mm focal L. @64 MPH, ~3.4mi from prev photo, map





Hello Bryce

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.5, 1/500sec, 46mm focal L. @52 MPH, ~15mi from prev photo, map



Bryce Canyon was another treat that I'd always wanted to see. Gorgeous area that is worthy of coming back and doing some mountain biking or hiking.


UT 12 -- Heading toward the park.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.5, 1/500sec, 35mm focal L. @52 MPH, map





Weathered spires

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/320sec, 27mm focal L. @51 MPH, ~1.0mi from prev photo, map



It's such an American thing to do -- find some of the best scenery in the country, and build a road through it. I couldn't be happier that they did!


Coming through

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/320sec, 18mm focal L. @47 MPH, ~0.8mi from prev photo, map





Inside Bryce Canyon Natl Park

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/320sec, 31mm focal L. @58 MPH, ~11mi from prev photo, map



The day was a fairly low mileage day, what with the late start, impromptu audio debugging, and then scrounging to find the needed tools in Cedar City. But, the afternoon light was fading and the town of Tropic looked like a decent place to spend the night, albeit more touristy than I normally prefer. But, after my whopping room expense the night before, a small step up on class wasn't going to break the bank.

This being Utah, there wasn't much happening in the way of night life, but, I managed to find a tall boy in the local grocery store.

The repair of the Amplirider was simple enough to do. Clean out the old solder, fit the (now) shorter legs of the regulator into the holes and get some fresh solder in. As added insurance to keep it from vibrating to oblivion a second time, I mixed up some epoxy and potted the regulator onto the board -- no way it was happening again...


Road repairs -- Noth'ns too hard after the proper nourishment.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.6, 1/30sec, 18mm focal L., ~3.6mi from prev photo, map


The repair worked and everything was buttoned up in the darkness just in time to get a root beer float from the pizza joint before they closed at 9 PM. Life was good on the road.
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Old 07-14-2011, 03:38 AM   #5
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Excellent pictures!
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:21 AM   #6
foobert OP
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Day 3: Tropic, UT to Ouray, CO

Day 3: Tropic, UT to Ouray, CO -- 528 Miles




As I look back at the route above, the day only covered ~240 miles as the crow flies, but, it was 528 miles of good fun on the odometer and it promised to get into a small taste of Colorado's mountains. After yesterday's low mileage day, I was motivated to get going in the morning and was packed and rolling down the road around 0700 (home time). I had 2 days left (after this day) to get to Dallas, so, I was making the best of it.


Got a fairly early start heading out of Tropic

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1600sec, 56mm focal L. @35 MPH, ~4.7mi from prev photo, map



Interestingly enough, not far from here is Kodacrhome Basin State Park, so named after the National Geographic folks came through to shoot it for an article. Apparently Kodak was more than happy accept the endorsement and free advertising from the state of Utah.


UT 12 -- Through the valley and over the hills

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/800sec, 56mm focal L. @52 MPH, ~0.4mi from prev photo, map



This area of Utah is full of plateaus that abruptly fall away into a valley, or just another plateau. I'm a sucker for the exposed sedimentary geology and forever amazed at how erratic the erosion leaves the cliffs with random hoodoos and outcroppings.


Falling plateaus

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1600sec, 70mm focal L. @51 MPH, ~2.5mi from prev photo, map



With the audio repaired and crank'n some tunes, this section of UT 12 was easy going with enough fun parts to keep the rider focused in between long stretches of gawking at the hills around. The only thing really slowing me down was the scenery; pure bliss with a road like this almost entirely to myself.


UT 12 -- There's usually good fun to be had when things are posted at 30 MPH.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.2, 1/1250sec, 38mm focal L. @62 MPH, ~8.7mi from prev photo, map



This area is part of the geologically diverse Grand Staircase. There's some good maps of the geology here.


Up at the plateau's edge

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.0, 1/500sec, 24mm focal L., ~0.8mi from prev photo, map





UT 12 -- Just east of Escalante.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/1250sec, 18mm focal L. @61 MPH, ~23mi from prev photo, map



When I got to this section of road, I had to stop and take a gander. Not only is there a nice little set of sweeping switch backs, but, the painted sandstone formations were quite the sight to take in. The Henry Mountains are just off frame to the left and, according to the roadside marker, they were one of the last areas to be mapped out and named in the continental U.S. due to the extreme ruggedness of the terrain.


UT 12 -- A fun little drop down.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/2000sec, 18mm focal L., ~0.2mi from prev photo, map



But, a word of caution: while the pavement is solid and inviting, many of the inside corners were full of gravel -- chose your line carefully and be ready! Even though I went back and road this section thrice, it was actually less fun each successive time after seeing how dirty the corners were.


UT 12 -- Too bad it was gravelly.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/3200sec, 18mm focal L. @51 MPH, ~0.2mi from prev photo, map



While backtracking through here, I ended up passing the same car three times (twice in my direction, and once on coming) -- I sorta wonder if they actually noticed what was going on as it's not like there was much other traffic.


Navajo Sandstone -- Love the geology of this area.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/2000sec, 18mm focal L. @62 MPH, ~0.2mi from prev photo, map



Ohhh, look, I captured a UFO de-cloaking in the next picture! Maybe I should send a copy to the good folks in Rachel...


UT 12 -- Oasis in the valley created by the Escalante River.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/1250sec, 18mm focal L. @45 MPH, ~2.4mi from prev photo, map





UT 12 -- Following Calf Creek up to the next plateau.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/800sec, 18mm focal L. @39 MPH, ~0.6mi from prev photo, map



Other than the speed limit, this was a fun little section of tarmac nestled into the river basin cut through the sandstone. The contrast of the lush green against the red and white cliffs made for a pleasantly cool (visually and literally) morning ride.


UT 12 -- through the valley of green. The speed limit is 35.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/640sec, 18mm focal L. @31 MPH, ~0.3mi from prev photo, map



The canyon winds its way up to the tip of a peninsula of the next plateau, leaving a great view of the area just covered. This overlook provided a great view of what was being missed up above the canyon cliffs. If you look closely at the center of frame, you can see the stripe of road hugging the bases of the cliffs.


Looking back -- through the canyon that UT 12 comes up.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/800sec, 70mm focal L., ~2.2mi from prev photo, map



UT 12 -- It's 1000' slide down either side of the road.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.2, 1/1250sec, 35mm focal L. @46 MPH, ~1.6mi from prev photo, map


This section of road is like no other I've ever ridden. It is following the spine of a peak that lets you look down both sides of of a steep drop off. As much as I wanted to just blaze through each corner, I couldn't help but slow down so I could get a better look at what could be seen down each side. It's really hard to see from the pictures, but, look at it from the air and you'll get a much better sense for what it's all about.


Ridge top -- Another shot showing the drop off.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/1600sec, 31mm focal L., map



Calf Creek turns into a slot canyon in this section. I bet it'd be a fun hike through.


Looking back -- Calf Creek cut straight into the sandstone.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/500sec, 50mm focal L., ~617ft from prev photo, map



After a brief spell following the ridge, the road works its way down to the town of Boulder. Cresting a hill, I was treated with the sight of a nice (albeit short) section of nice tight sweepers to play on.


UT 12 -- Another stretch I turned around and road thrice.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1000sec, 18mm focal L. @45 MPH, ~4.2mi from prev photo, map





Sandstone mesas

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/1250sec, 27mm focal L. @52 MPH, ~0.9mi from prev photo, map



Each of the sediment layers must have a hard crust separating them to cause the layers to form these "steps" as it erodes away.


Close up of the crazy patterns in the sandstone

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.0, 1/1250sec, 56mm focal L. @43 MPH, ~0.2mi from prev photo, map






UT 12 -- a complete change of scenery.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.0, 1/1600sec, 18mm focal L. @61 MPH, ~9.3mi from prev photo, map


After Boulder, the road climbs from 6500 to 9500 ft to cross over a forested mountain range to get to Torrey. It offered another great view of the Escalante Canyon region that I just passed through, with the Kaiparowits Plateau behind it.


After the big climb -- Looking back over the sandstone region left behind.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.0, 1/200sec, 52mm focal L., ~1.0mi from prev photo, map



Leading up to this, I must have taken almost a dozen pictures leaned over into corners. Nothing all the spectacular (photo wise), but, it serves as a reminder as to the fun to be had on this stretch of road.


Looking east -- at the edge of the forest, overlooking the desert.

Nikon D70, ISO 200, ƒ/5.0, 1/200sec, 62mm focal L., ~9.2mi from prev photo, map
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:23 AM   #7
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UT 24 -- Heading east from Torrey. Getting close to Capitol Reef Natl Park.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.0, 1/1250sec, 18mm focal L. @50 MPH, ~11mi from prev photo, map


At Torrey, UT 12 ends and connects up to UT 24 to head east across the Capitol Reef National Park and crosses through a 100 mile long monocline known as the Waterpocket Fold. The area is so named due to earlier prospectors being sailors, thus calling any formidable obstacle a "reef", and the white sandstone capping the reef resembled capitol domes -- thus "Capitol Reef".



Unweathered top

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.0, 1/500sec, 50mm focal L., ~3.3mi from prev photo, map





Peaks of Capitol Reef -- the many hues of red.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.0, 1/640sec, 22mm focal L. @59 MPH, ~3.0mi from prev photo, map



Throughout Capital Reef, my head might as well have been on a swivel. Too many interesting things to look at. Sadly, I didn't have the time to stop and look at the petroglyphs carved into the sandstone.


UT 24 -- Following Fremont River through the canyon.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.0, 1/640sec, 31mm focal L. @52 MPH, ~3.7mi from prev photo, map





UT 24 -- crossing the monocline.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/1000sec, 46mm focal L. @68 MPH, ~8.3mi from prev photo, map



The thing that I didn't realize at the time about this area is how the monocline created such wild variations in soil and rock. Imagine the vertical stack up of the Earth's crust tipped over sideways and spread out horizontally. It's kind of like wiping a deck of cards across a table -- you can see a peak of each card's face, but it's layers of the Earth instead.


Delicate spires

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/1000sec, 40mm focal L. @68 MPH, ~0.8mi from prev photo, map





Fragile cliffs -- It seems like a good stiff wind would blow over that sliver on the right.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/640sec, 40mm focal L. @69 MPH, ~12mi from prev photo, map



UT 24 runs into Hanksville where I stopped to get some petrol and scarf down some sustenance. While I was fueling, three gents came into the station and I couldn't help myself but to talk to them for a bit. The "leader" was riding a very well used/loved Honda V65 with all sorts of homemade farkles. It was loaded to the gills with a huge tail bag while pulling the trailer you see below.

I forgot his name, but the group was headed to Leadville, CO.


This guy was awesome

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/100sec, 18mm focal L., ~8.2mi from prev photo, map



Now, before I continue, I just want to state for the record that when I'm retired and living off whatever means I happen to have, I sure hope I'm having as much fun as these guys were. If that means I'll be pick'n through the moto bone yard to keep a stable of toys running, so be it! The rest of the world can piss off with their shiny new bikes because I'll be making the best of it and having just as much fun.

But, take a close look at this trailer and realize how it takes recycling to a new level. Moto wheels+axles+brakes, a fork leg for the tongue, front brake master cylinder and lever working against the fork compression to provide trailer braking, front brake splitter to feed the left/right calipers plus various moto brake hoses. I'm sure there's more...

I bid them farewell and hoped to see them on down the road.


Trailer brake system. -- how many moto parts can you count?

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/5.6, 1/30sec, 52mm focal L., map





UT 95 -- heading down toward Lake Powell

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/7.1, 1/400sec, 40mm focal L. @70 MPH, ~29mi from prev photo, map



After the 276 junction, UT 95 follows a river cut down to Lake Powell. The canyon was full of great sweepers, but alas, the tar snakes in 100˚ temps made for a certain amount of pucker factor.

Underneath the water of Lake Powell below these cliffs lies the old boom town of Hite, according to a sign at this overlook.


The far end of Lake Powell -- was tempted to stand on the cliff edge and look down. Really tempted...

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/3.5, 1/1600sec, 18mm focal L., ~8.4mi from prev photo, map



While I was busy taking in the scenic overlook, the 3 guys from the Hanksville gas station had just passed by as I was pulling onto the highway. They were making a steady pace, but, after 5 or so miles, I had to pass them by...


UT 95 -- followed the trailer group for a while.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.2, 1/1000sec, 38mm focal L. @53 MPH, ~0.6mi from prev photo, map





Colorado River

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/800sec, 52mm focal L. @57 MPH, ~2.0mi from prev photo, map





Side trip -- since I was passing by...

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/1250sec, 18mm focal L. @52 MPH, ~30mi from prev photo, map



90+ miles from Hanksville, the turn off for Natural Bridges drew me in. It's a 5 mile side trip to get to the ranger station, which made for a fine place to hose off with some water and turn on the swamp-cooler effect inside my gear. The park has 3 natural sandstone bridged over a river bottom and they built a one-way road looping around with turn-outs at all of the overlooks.

Driving through the park and stopping at the overlooks was a borderline "meh" waste of time. The bridges blend into the background behind them and it just looks like another ravine. After stopping at a couple of overlooks, I'd seen enough and decided it was time to get back to the business of making miles. I felt bad for all the bored teenagers sitting in cars waiting for their parents to come to the same conclusion.

Don't get me wrong -- if you've got the time, plan on spending half a day and do some hiking so you can walk under, over, and around them to get a real sense for how cool they are. In the picture below, the span of the Sipapu bridge is 268 ft -- it's not small!


Look carefully -- this was the best of the bridge overlooks.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1000sec, 40mm focal L., ~2.1mi from prev photo, map





UT 261 -- This stretch is a destination of its own.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1600sec, 70mm focal L. @67 MPH, ~23mi from prev photo, map



At one of the Bay Area STN dinners, some folks recommended that I take UT 261 while in the area, because it just such an oddity. Check out the map.

I had hoped to get a shot of the entire road, so, I took off on trail that lead around to the side of the cliff where I thought I'd get a good vantage point.


Side detour -- was looking for a good overlook.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.2, 1/1600sec, 34mm focal L. @14 MPH, ~1.1mi from prev photo, map
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:24 AM   #8
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Overlook -- with my dual sport F800ST

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1000sec, 70mm focal L., ~421ft from prev photo, map





My trusty steed -- more pictures of the bike ... deal with it!

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/800sec, 46mm focal L., map



I didn't find the view I was looking for, so, I settled for this. I believe the ridge on the left is hiding the view I was look'n for.


UT 261 -- 1200' ft down a cliff

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/2000sec, 18mm focal L., map





UT 261 -- Really, who thought this was a good idea?

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/1250sec, 18mm focal L., ~1.0mi from prev photo, map



I can actually, kinda, sorta understand why they chose not to pave this stretch -- fairly well forces people to slow down for it. Dirt and gravel roads don't bother me at all on the bike (other than making a mess of it), and this proved to be no different. Just take it slow in the corners and don't try to stop quickly.


UT 261 -- rolling the gravel drop off

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/1250sec, 18mm focal L. @23 MPH, ~0.4mi from prev photo, map





UT 261 -- the inspiration for Charlie Brown's shirt.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1250sec, 70mm focal L. @73 MPH, ~4.3mi from prev photo, map



The temperature was a few degrees hotter at the bottom of the cliff. It was about 3:00 and the temps peaked out at 107˚F for the day. I keep a 3L Camelback on the bike to stay hydrated while motoring down the road -- a life saver in these conditions.


Get'n toasty -- thermometer shows 105.8˚F, almost the highest seen for the day.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/640sec, 62mm focal L. @78 MPH, ~2.8mi from prev photo, map





Anvil Mesa

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1000sec, 62mm focal L. @56 MPH, ~2.1mi from prev photo, map



Round about here I stopped at a gas station to fuel up and noticed a F800ST and R1200RT parked under the shade of a tree with their owners nowhere to be found. Went inside to pay the fuel bill and saw a couple lounging in the AC with their full riding suits hanging down below their knees. After trading notes on the F8, I bid them farewell to let them finish contemplating whether to call it a day and check into the motel next door.


Might even still work

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/13.0, 1/60sec, 18mm focal L., ~14mi from prev photo, map



On the way out of some podunk town the radar detector started beeping with a weak signal that just didn't go away. A few miles later I rounded a corner and was about 100 yards behind a white Ford Bronco rolling my direction. I normally wouldn't have given a second thought about it -- except this time because the radar detector was still chirping, now with a slightly stronger signal. He was moving a few miles under the speed limit, just baiting the trap for me to blow by. After what seamed like an eternity, he eventually turned around and headed back into town. Twas one of the many saves the that Mr. Redline gets credit for on this trip.


UT 162 -- and the moon showing its face.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/1600sec, 18mm focal L. @83 MPH, ~8.4mi from prev photo, map



By the way -- welcome to Colorado, and all that.

Why do I have a bizarre desire to climb to the top of a butte like this and just hang out for a while?


Chimney Rock

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/2000sec, 70mm focal L. @12 MPH, ~40mi from prev photo, map



US 160 up to Durango was pretty much just a crap, crowded road. But, heading north on US 550 out of Durango and seeing the narrow gauge Durango & Silverton steamer heading into town brought back fond memories. Around 1984, my family took the trip aboard D&S, following it up the sheer walls of the Animas River canyon. Even at the ripe old age of 10, I remember thinking how there just couldn't be enough cliff edge to support the train and was slightly terrified that a derailing would be the end of us all.

I hope it's still running in a few years so I can take my wife and 3 girls on it.


Old memories

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/640sec, 25mm focal L. @66 MPH, ~52mi from prev photo, map





US 550 -- Finally out of the traffic leaving Durango.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/3.5, 1/1000sec, 18mm focal L. @56 MPH, ~23mi from prev photo, map



Have to admit that the first part of the "Million Dollar Highway" was less than inspiring. But, the traffic thinned out 20ish, or so, miles out of Durango just in time to open up for the some of the better parts of the road.


North Twilight Peak and Twilight peak -- both over 13000 ft.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/800sec, 46mm focal L. @48 MPH, ~1.4mi from prev photo, map





US 550 -- One of the many valley loops.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/250sec, 18mm focal L. @51 MPH, ~0.5mi from prev photo, map





Molas Lake -- at 10500 ft.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/2000sec, 18mm focal L. @52 MPH, ~5.5mi from prev photo, map



The town of Silverton is nestled into a small valley at 9300', surrounded by peaks as high as 13k'. The highway is open year-round, but, folks must go stir crazy in the winter months with a seemingly vertical horizon of white towering above.


Silverton, CO

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1600sec, 38mm focal L. @41 MPH, ~3.9mi from prev photo, map



The stretch of road from Silverton to Ouray is how the "Million Dollar" moniker came to be. I don't think it's true that the fill dirt actually has low-grade gold ore, but, there are numerous gold mining remnants visible from the road.

There's one thing that is certain about this awesome stretch of road -- the speed limit is low. The absence of traffic left plenty of room to enjoy the fresh tarmac while that nagging voice said, "you know you'll be lucky if you only get a speeding ticket..."


US 550 -- Why it'd be really easy to get in trouble here...

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/320sec, 18mm focal L. @60 MPH, ~5.7mi from prev photo, map





US 550 -- A million dollars was more than worth it! Yeeee HAWWWW!

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/3.5, 1/800sec, 18mm focal L. @40 MPH, ~3.0mi from prev photo, map





US 550 -- surprisingly enough, it's a year-round road.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/3.5, 1/250sec, 18mm focal L. @44 MPH, ~4.7mi from prev photo, map





US 550 -- Did I mention this was a fun road?

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/3.5, 1/500sec, 18mm focal L. @62 MPH, ~716ft from prev photo, map



I assume these women were fundamentalists of some sort. I didn't see a parked vehicle that they may have been associated with, and me thinks they were on their way into town...


US 550 -- Out for a walk?

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/3.5, 1/640sec, 18mm focal L. @33 MPH, ~1.0mi from prev photo, map





US 550 -- steep penalty for messing up (yeah, yeah ... bad pun).

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/3.5, 1/500sec, 18mm focal L. @43 MPH, ~0.4mi from prev photo, map





Looking back -- the road is literally carved into the cliff side.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/250sec, 29mm focal L., ~538ft from prev photo, map


Upon nearing the town of Ouray, the overwhelming desire to turn around and ride back to Silverton almost won me over. But, it was already dusk and I just felt like I'd used up enough traffic and LEO karma for the day that I'd better not push my luck. It'd been almost 12 hours since leaving Tropic and it was time to be done for the day.

Ouray is another tiny town nestled into a small valley at the modest elevation of 7800'. It's fairly touristy, but I found a reasonable motel off the main drag that offered a pool and hot tub. The folks playing cards by the pool thought I was nuts to go swimming, but, after spending much of the day in +100˚ temps, a few laps in the brisk pool made the heat of the day a distant memory.

Later, I started yak'n with local carpenter in the bar and he tried to convince me that the problem with America lies in the popularity of Nascar. If it weren't for Nascar, we wouldn't need to import all that foreign oil and America would prosper. Interesting viewpoint that wasn't backed up with any facts, but it lead to a cordial exchange over a couple of pints and we all walked away smiling.
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Old 07-14-2011, 02:01 PM   #9
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Day 4: Ouray, CO to Pagosa Springs, CO -- 498 Miles





The sunrise broke fairly late down in the bottom of the valley that Ouray, CO, sits in. The night before, I'd seen several places that looked hopeful for breakfast, and indeed they held true to their promise.

Over breakfast, I consulted the maps and GPS and called my buddy, Clint, to discuss plans for my arrival in Plano. Clint had already made arrangements for my arrival the next day, yet, my planned route called for 1300+ miles of mostly 2-lane roads between here and there. My previous slackardly days and road repair delays were starting to catch up with my plans to take the long winding roads to Texas. A bit of ciphering, and I figure it's doable, with a slight modification.

Little did I realize, 500 miles and 10 hours later, I'd only be 64 miles (as the crow files) away from my starting point!





[click to go to an interactive map]


Leaving the big mountains behind -- 13000 ft peaks
Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.5, 1/500sec, 55mm focal L. @58 MPH, map



Between Placerville and Norwood on CO-145, a crew was working along the cliff faces sloughing rocks and debris that was in danger of falling on the roadway. I wasn't first in line upon arriving at the delay, but, that didn't stop me from being a bit cheeky and passed all the waiting cars to pull up to the front of the line. I figure they won't be waiting for me once the road is opened up again, what's the harm?

While waiting, I chatted with the flagger and he informed me of the happenings. Among other things, he also told me to wave to the woman at the other end of the delay since what was his wife. They literally live on the road following the work around. Boring as hell job, but, interesting way to make the most of it.


Had a nice chat with this guy.
Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.2, 1/1250sec, 38mm focal L., ~22mi from prev photo, map





CO 141 -- Out of the mountains, and into the desert.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.5, 1/1000sec, 46mm focal L. @52 MPH, ~34mi from prev photo, map



CO 141 was an amazingly fun road. Good tarmac, loads of sweepers, awesome dessert canyon scenery. Much of my route through Colorado was heavily influenced by this post on sport-touring.net.


CO 141 -- Joined up with the San Miguel river to run the canyon to Gateway.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.2, 1/1600sec, 35mm focal L. @67 MPH, ~0.9mi from prev photo, map


I did take the time to stop at some of the road side points of interest. This hanging flume was constructed around 1890 and was considered a true engineering marvel at the time. It delivered water for hydraulic mining a of claim downstream. Turns out, they spent all the fortune on the flume, and not so much on proving there was a worthwhile claim. More info here, and here.


Hanging flume -- Look carefully along the vertical section of the cliff.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.5, 1/1250sec, 50mm focal L., map




Sheer red walls

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/3.8, 1/1600sec, 27mm focal L., map



Did I mention that there were just some fantastic sweepers through here? The kind that you can be mid-corner, deep into the lean and then just start rolling into the throttle a little more to just play with leaning over a bit more. But, they aren't such a gentle turn that you need insane speeds to make it fun. I was all smiles through there.


CO 141 -- This section was full of awesome sweepers.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.0, 1/1250sec, 18mm focal L. @72 MPH, ~8.8mi from prev photo, map





The path ahead on CO 141 -- follow the valley floor.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.0, 1/1250sec, 25mm focal L. @72 MPH, ~9.8mi from prev photo, map



The town of Gateway sits in the shadow of this sharp edged cliff. That'd be a totally worthwhile climb to sit on the edge and look out over the valley.


The Palisade -- this spine formed where the Dolores River and West Creek come together.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.0, 1/2000sec, 29mm focal L. @44 MPH, ~2.8mi from prev photo, map



And just after leaving Gateway, there was another drastic change in scenery. I'm just amazed at how different Colorado's scenery can change in the course of a few hours ride.


Thimble Rock Point

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.0, 1/1600sec, 27mm focal L. @72 MPH, ~14mi from prev photo, map



CO 141 ends at Grand Junction and then it was a brief hop on I70 to get to CO 65. This would be my northern most reach in my zig-zag across Colorado. Time to head back south and make my way towards Texas.

The section of CO 65 along the river was good fun, excepting for the oncoming sheriff that I met at the apex of a corner. The fuzz buster stayed quiet, but, I felt the burn of the stink eye through my riding suit as he accessed my lean angle and passed judgements about my speed. After a mile or two of paranoid mirror checks, I relaxed and settled back into a "comfortable" pace.


CO 65 -- Heading east out of Grand Junction.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.0, 1/2000sec, 18mm focal L. @56 MPH, ~39mi from prev photo, map





CO 65 -- Crossing the range through Grand Mesa Natl Forest, in the middle of a very fun section.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.0, 1/2000sec, 18mm focal L. @56 MPH, ~14mi from prev photo, map



CO 65 runs along a river and then through the plains before reaching Grand Mesa National Forrest. It then starts a fast climb up to 10k+ ft at the top of the mesa. The mesa is dotted with small lakes that look to be ideal camping destinations.


Island Lake -- Can't figure out how they named it such...

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.0, 1/1250sec, 18mm focal L. @66 MPH, ~3.6mi from prev photo, map

foobert screwed with this post 07-14-2011 at 02:06 PM Reason: fix picture links
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Old 07-14-2011, 02:07 PM   #10
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CO 92 -- One of the boring sections.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.0, 1/2500sec, 18mm focal L. @69 MPH, ~26mi from prev photo, map



And then, another complete change of scenery. Sadly, this change also brought about an hour of rather boring straight roads, with some major road construction just to drive the point home.


CO 92 -- Just about to the really good stuff...

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.5, 1/1250sec, 25mm focal L. @74 MPH, ~14mi from prev photo, map







Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.5, 1/2000sec, 18mm focal L. @43 MPH, ~4.2mi from prev photo, map



But, the map promised to reward those with patience. And reward it did! This stretch of CO 92 is in my top 5 best roads to ride.


CO 92 -- Tasty section of corners to carve around.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.5, 1/640sec, 18mm focal L. @59 MPH, ~3.2mi from prev photo, map



The road follows the edge of a mesa, high above the Morrow Point Reservoir. Every valley cut into the mesa leads you away from reservoir, and then shoots you back toward it again. While the speed limit of this stretch is 35 MPH (iirc), there was zero traffic and freedom to play.


Morrow Point Reservoir

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.5, 1/800sec, 18mm focal L. @44 MPH, ~1.1mi from prev photo, map





CO 92 -- This is squarely in the middle of the "gold" section.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.5, 1/1600sec, 18mm focal L. @58 MPH, ~3.0mi from prev photo, map



It was along this stretch of road, that I realized I had an asymmetry in my cornering technique: I only ever scraped my left foot peg, but, never the right. This got me to think'n -- why was that the case? The epiphany moment was that I have an aversion to hanging off the left side of the bike because that would put me closer to the oncoming traffic. Thus I was pushing the bike over farther to compensate, and dragging the left peg on occasion. Deep into a right-hand turn, there is no foreboding feeling of an errant car bumper appearing out of nowhere, and so, I'd throw myself into a right hander more correctly.


CO 92 -- One of the many valley loops.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.5, 1/1600sec, 18mm focal L. @51 MPH, ~1.7mi from prev photo, map





CO 92 -- Up the valley about to make a U-turn to head back on the other side.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.5, 1/1250sec, 40mm focal L. @57 MPH, ~1.6mi from prev photo, map





Blue Mesa Dam

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.5, 1/1000sec, 24mm focal L., ~5.1mi from prev photo, map





Looking down Blue Mesa Dam -- That's 300' down!

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.5, 1/400sec, 22mm focal L., ~260ft from prev photo, map



After a fun run down to the reservoir, CO 92 connects up with US 50 and runs along the Blue Mesa Reservoir toward CO 149. Heading south on 149 after the junction, the adrenaline of the twisties had faded and the need to stop and became overwhelmingly apparent. It was gett'n on 3:00 and I hadn't bothered to stop for a proper lunch yet. There was also that pesky problem of where to find some petrol along the way. But, Mr. Garmin promised there was a station that was in range up ahead in Lake City, so I could only hope there'd be food too.


Blue Mesa Reservroir -- Following it along the brief run up US-50.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.5, 1/640sec, 35mm focal L. @68 MPH, ~2.7mi from prev photo, map



Just before getting into the tiny town of Lake "City", I was greeted with the likes of this while following the river. Up until this point, CO 149 didn't have all that much to offer.


CO 149 -- This is an "orange" section according to Butler.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/250sec, 18mm focal L. @61 MPH, ~25mi from prev photo, map
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Old 07-14-2011, 02:08 PM   #11
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Time for a late lunch

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/800sec, 18mm focal L., ~5.9mi from prev photo, map



Cruising through town, I didn't have to look any further the moment I saw this place. Mmmmm, BBQ. I was the only customer when I showed up, and they were happy to be of service. I inquired about what style BBQ it was, and I'm certain I offended the chef by asking. I got a "there aint no other BBQ besides Texas BBQ" type answer.

In retrospect, I should have known better with Texas flag flying proudly out front.


For Texas style BBQ, it was a descent sauce -- but, sandwich didn't come with slaw on it already.

iPhone, map





CO 149 -- This was coming off a great stretch through the Rio Grande National Forest
Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/2500sec, 18mm focal L. @67 MPH, ~9.0mi from prev photo, map



It's all "down hill" from here, so to speak.


Over to the east side -- be over there for most of the trip.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/500sec, 18mm focal L. @41 MPH, ~1.6mi from prev photo, map



I picked up a little rain. It wasn't any big deal, but, enough to warrant putting on the dry gear. It was get'n on to be almost 5 PM local time, and the rain really cooled down the temps.


CO 149 -- Fun sweepers to cruise on.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/640sec, 38mm focal L. @69 MPH, ~1.4mi from prev photo, map



I had forgotten my river geography, and it really took by by surprise to be crossing the Rio Grande so far north. A roadside point of interest sign had a nice refresher on the river's path.


Quick, call boarder patrol! -- Someone is sneaking across!

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/4.2, 1/500sec, 35mm focal L. @32 MPH, ~20mi from prev photo, map





Heading south on US 160

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/5.0, 1/100sec, 18mm focal L. @70 MPH, ~16mi from prev photo, map



US 160 -- Heading down Wolf Creek Pass

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/5.0, 1/40sec, 31mm focal L., ~8.3mi from prev photo, map



The sun had set over the hills about 15 minutes ago and the bugs were thick as porridge. This accumulation was just from following the river along US 160. I was glad to have my rain gear on since the bugs clean off that so much better than the mesh jacket.


Evening bugs

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/5.0, 1/50sec, 31mm focal L., map



Wolf Creek pass was practically a super slab. That is, right up until coming upon a semi-truck doing the 20 MPH slow roll down the hill with a long line of cars unwilling to cross the double yellow to get around him. The absence of passing lanes on the down-hill side was a real bummer.


US 160 -- One of the switchbacks down Wolf Creek Pass.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, f/5.0, 1/50sec, 18mm focal L. @60 MPH, ~0.6mi from prev photo, map


The light was fading, and 10 miles down the road, I decided to call it a day in Pagosa Springs. Found a real dive of a motel to crash out in for the night. Well, not before a stop into the nearby watering hole to reflect on the day over a couple of pints.

It'd had been one of the best days on the road that I've ever had. Life on the road was definitely good. The next day, I'd probably be reconsidering my decision to stop so early in the evening. There were still a lot of miles between me and Plano, TX.
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Old 07-15-2011, 09:07 AM   #12
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Day 5: Pagosa Springs, CO to Plano, TX -- 824 Miles



Today was all about miles. If I'd planned it smarter, it wouldn't have been too much more to have made a Saddlesore 1000 out of the day.





[click to go to an interactive map]






Small fortune on fencing -- the long vanity fence baffles me.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/1000sec, 34mm focal L. @67 MPH, map



Heading south on US 64 out of Pagosa Springs, it wasn't long to get to New Mexico. I'm sure I've been to the state before but, I don't have any memorable recollection of doing so. For some reason, I half expected it to quickly transition into barren desert, which of course, is all rather silly since I'd chosen to follow the mountains as far south as I could before turning east toward Dallas.


US 64

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/1250sec, 70mm focal L. @74 MPH, ~15mi from prev photo, map





US 64

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/500sec, 60mm focal L. @75 MPH, ~6.4mi from prev photo, map



And, it didn't take long to arrive at the desert.

Taos was unbelievably hippy. The stench of patchouli oil assaulted the nose just rolling through town. There are more artists studios/shops than a town of such size could possibly support. I wasn't shopping today, so, I just kept on moving as fast as traffic would let me.


Bizarro house nearing Taos -- Note the usage of old tires.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/800sec, 60mm focal L. @62 MPH, ~30mi from prev photo, map





Crossing the Rio Grande -- one last time on this trip

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/800sec, 29mm focal L. @42 MPH, ~1.6mi from prev photo, map



I stopped for breakfast at a cafe in Angel Fire. Geek that I am, the thing that comes to mind when I think of "Angle Fire" are all those (lousy) first generation web pages/sites hosted for free on anglefire.com. Ohh, how times have changed....


US 64 -- almost into Angel Fire. Just couldn't pull the trigger on getting around this one.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/800sec, 18mm focal L. @25 MPH, ~23mi from prev photo, map



Looking at Google maps, NM 120 takes a nice direct line in the direction I needed to go. But, the first sign of trouble was that Mr. Garmin refused to take me that way. 3 miles into it, the "Pavement Ends" sign explained why Mr. Garmin was so insistent upon making a U-turn, "when possible". As you've seen, I'm not adverse to riding off pavement, but, I was potentially looking at 70 miles of dirt road to follow my intended route. It likely would have been less (depending on when pavement stared on the other side), but, I didn't figure it was worth the risk. With only 3 miles invested, I decided that a longer route on tarmac would certainly be faster.


NM 120 -- Looked like a very promising road.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/1000sec, 34mm focal L. @55 MPH, ~10mi from prev photo, map
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Old 07-15-2011, 09:08 AM   #13
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Back on NM 434

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/1000sec, 38mm focal L. @64 MPH, ~1.0mi from prev photo, map



And, it turns out that NM 434 proved to be a very interesting road to have been "stuck" on. It meandered through the hills and offered plenty of distraction to take my mind off not following the planned route. The most striking feature of the road was the sheer variation from narrow goat trail to a manicured 2-laner.


NM 434 -- A bit longer route, but, turned out to be fun all the same.

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/400sec, 18mm focal L. @47 MPH, ~4.0mi from prev photo, map





NM 434

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/1000sec, 18mm focal L. @57 MPH, ~4.6mi from prev photo, map



In my head, I was hearing dueling banjos from one of the porches in the sparse community at the junction of NM 518 and NM 434.


I wonder what sort of building used to be

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/5.0, 1/320sec, 18mm focal L. @35 MPH, ~14mi from prev photo, map





NM 518 -- back to making time...

Nikon D70, ISO 640, ƒ/4.5, 1/2000sec, 18mm focal L. @61 MPH, ~1.8mi from prev photo, map



Rolling into Las Vegas, NM, (didn't even know there was another), I said goodbye to fun roads and gassed up in preparation for the start of a long burn through the mostly flat lands.


NM 104 -- Leaving Las Vegas -- not that one, the one in New Mexico.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1250sec, 48mm focal L. @72 MPH, ~27mi from prev photo, map
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Old 07-15-2011, 09:10 AM   #14
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Little house on a prairie

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1250sec, 46mm focal L. @71 MPH, ~1.9mi from prev photo, map



NM 104 heading east of Las Vegas was interminably straight and devoid of any other cars. There was the very occasional ranch house, but, mostly it was nothing but prairie on either side as far as the eye could see. I wondered how old the abandoned house and windmill pictured above were.



I had settled into a grove of about 80'sh with the throttle lock on and generally kept half an eye out for any errant 4-legged creatures. I really wasn't overly worried about any LEO's, but, I wasn't in such a hurry as to go stupid fast. After a half an hour of this, I was at the point where boredom sneaks up and attaches tiny lead weights to the eyelids at every blink.



Suddenly, I was very literally startled when a lady in dark blue POS blew by me going well over 100 MPH. Awww, what the heck, might as well make this a little more interesting and poured the juice to it. She kept up that speed for a while and then slowed it down some after drifting precariously from one edge of the road to the other. I was far enough behind her not be in danger if she went for an extracurricular adventure, but, she managed to keep it mostly centered between the two lanes after that.


My rabbit -- a little of your lane, a little of my lane.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/640sec, 62mm focal L. @96 MPH, ~18mi from prev photo, map





Down it goes...

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1sec, 18mm focal L. @59 MPH, ~6.7mi from prev photo, map



Just prior to stepping down off the plateau, my rabbit blazed through the "reduced speed zone" for the small community and tore into the parking lot of a convenience store. Shucks, fun's over...


A brief respite from straight and boring

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/1000sec, 18mm focal L. @57 MPH, ~1.8mi from prev photo, map
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Old 07-15-2011, 09:10 AM   #15
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And, back to straight and boring

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1250sec, 70mm focal L. @91 MPH, ~18mi from prev photo, map



After dropping down from the plateau, the shoulders of the road had been very freshly mowed and, little did I know, the mower had kicked up gravel and dirt all over the road. It sure got my attention when the bike got all squirrelly on me in the middle of a corner. One can never be too relaxed...



As I was approaching the mower tractor, the radar detector started chirping with a weak signal that faded, coincidently enough, shortly after passing by the mower. Now, there are some agriculture applications that utilize radar for precise speed control (think: pesticide application), but, a mowing tractor really has no such need. Hhhmmmmmmmmm.


As I pondered this, the radar detector started chirping yet again, and just then, my friendly rabbit blew past me a second time with a renewed fire in her britches to get someplace.

Uhhhh Ohhh, this is not good. I slowed it down and watched the train wreck happen in front of me. I wished I could have warned her somehow that it wasn't the best of times to be drunkenly speeding.


And, not 30 seconds later, a dark SUV emerged over a distant crest causing the radar detector to go berserk. The LEO hit his lights just before passing the rabbit and she just jammed on the brakes and pulled it off the road such that the LEO only had to make a U-turn to pull in behind her. BUSTED!

I just casually rolled by at a legal, yet, abysmally slow pace. Show's over, nothing to see here...



Welcome to Texas -- Mmmmmm, beef

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.0, 1/1250sec, 18mm focal L. @74 MPH, ~128mi from prev photo, map



I eventually made my way to the superslab that is I40 and then US287. It didn't really seem like I was missing all that much through these parts.

Although, I'm fairly certain they didn't have these massive rest stops along the 2-lane roads.


Everything's bigger in TX -- The rest stop was a complex of 4 buildings on each side of the freeway.

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/1000sec, 70mm focal L. @76 MPH, ~93mi from prev photo, map







Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.2, 1/1000sec, 34mm focal L. @79 MPH, ~16mi from prev photo, map



Terrible picture, but, I was completely surprised to see camels roaming through the fields. Apparently, they have a long history in Texas.


Camels, in Texas?!? -- Who'd have thunk?

Nikon D70, ISO 500, ƒ/4.5, 1/160sec, 70mm focal L. @73 MPH, ~108mi from prev photo, map


Almost 14:45 hours after departing Pagosa Springs, I pulled up to my buddies house -- by far the longest day I've ever done in both miles and hours. Considering I had a relaxing breakfast, stopped to enjoy a root beer float with lunch, and tooling through some cool back roads -- an average of ~56 MPH from start to finish wasn't too shabby at all. I can certainly see how a Saddlesore 1000 is readily doable.

Even though it was after 11 PM, my buddy was all to happy to share a beer and shoot the breeze to catch up on lost time. But, we had plans for the next day, so, it wasn't too long before we called it a night so we could be rested for, more adventures.
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