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Old 06-16-2013, 05:51 PM   #1
t-bills OP
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Joined: Oct 2012
Location: Chattanooga, TN
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Out west for a month

So I decided to take a month and go see the west. I have never really been out west before. I lined up most of the major national parks. My plan was to camp most of the time with grabbing a hotel about once a week. I had 31 days set to ride ~8000 miles.

My setup:
I rode my 2011 Ducati Multistrada S Touring. I put a fresh PR2 on the back and a PR3 on the front. I had a fresh valve check, belts, and oil. If you care about bike specifics of the bike setup, just ask and I'll either put them here or PM them to you. I loaded all of my clothes, food stuff, bike stuff, and heated gear in my side cases and top box. I put my tent, sleeping bag, and all tent related stuff in a dry bag (Ortlieb 59L) on the passenger seat. One notable thing: I got a MSR Dragonfly because it will burn just about any type of fuel. I carried a couple of fuel bottles with gasoline to serve as fuel for the stove and backup for if I were to run out (and were used for both purposes). I was wearing a Schuberth C3, Roadcrafter, deer skin roper gloves, and Combat Lite boots.


Day 1, May 17, 2013:
I drop my daughter off at school and run home to get rolling. I leave Chattanooga with Ozarks of Arkansas has my final destination for the day. I take 72 through Huntsville to Memphis. It starts sprinkling on my about 20 miles into the ride. The rain picks up and it pretty steady from Huntsville on to Memphis. For some stupid reason, I didn't close all of my vents in a timely manner so I ended up with swampass. Great start to a ride.

I make it to Memphis and the sun finally pops out. I roll into the southeast part of Memphis. I have never seen so many auto repair shops. They distinctly fit into three categories: tire and rims, transmission, and body and paint. The record was 3 tire and rim shops in a row with two tranny shops across the street. Can there be that much demand???

I take 64 to Searcy- not particularly interesting. The rest of the way I took Highway 16. This is a great road. It starts as rolling hills and turns into much larger hills. It is a very scenic road. The road has lots of great sweepers.

I get to camp and it is a primitive campground. I am there by myself, so I get prime pick of a campsite. I picked one that was on an overlook of the Ozarks. The Ozarks are beautiful. I recommend them. I quickly find out that everything you hear about the bugs in Arkansas are true. While putting stuff in my tent, the following got in my tent: 4 sweat bees, 2 flies, a tick, and a yellowjacket.


View from my campsite.
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Old 06-16-2013, 07:01 PM   #2
t-bills OP
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Joined: Oct 2012
Location: Chattanooga, TN
Oddometer: 268
Day 2, May 18, 2013:

Another day of pounding pavement to get out west quickly. I wake up to a heavy fog. I get rolling and am in dire search of a gas station. I haven't seen one in 100 miles. My GPS is telling me no gas for 30 miles. I find one about 10 miles from my campsite that is just opening as I arrive at it. I fuel up and pay. The guy working there keeps wondering around the old rickety place trying to find where a hot electrical smell is coming from. Not good. I get out of there before the places burns to the ground.


Mr. Happy is ready to roll before the place goes up in flames.

I stop at Devil's Den State Park to stretch my legs. It's a nice place, but small. I leave on some state highway and encounter about 20 miles of dirt and gravel. I don't mind, but do laugh at that being called a highway.

I stop for fuel as I am coming in to Oklahoma and see my phone has a bunch of messages saying to watch the weather. I take a look and find out Oklahoma is expecting nasty weather where I am heading. Great. I ride. And I ride. And I ride. I-40 thru Oklahoma sucks. I am surprised by the amount of casinos. We don't have them in TN. Just about every exit has a small casino in Oklahoma. I get to OK City and stop for lunch. I check the weather and it looks ok. Most everything has already blown through. No biggie. No tornadoes or hail for me today! I start riding up towards the panhandle and eventually stop for dinner in Woodward, OK. I check the weather to find some supercells have developed right over the path I'm taking. Doh. I sit tight for about an hour and watch it start to blow over, but it looks like there might be more behind it. I go to Wal-Mart to get something for my swampass from the previous day. Weird people in there, even by Wal-Mart standards. Because of the weather, I start looking for hotels, but don't really like what I am finding. Most are scary or closed. I rode around town looking for something and get tired of looking so I just decide to ride on. The one nasty supercell isn't directly over my path anymore anyway. I end up riding the remaining 80 miles cutting behind the storm watching it. What a show. Fortunately, I didn't see any tornadoes and experienced to hail. I did see one hell of an electrical show as the storm rolled over a wind farm.

I arrive in Beaver, OK where I am camping for the night. The place has sand dunes. Weird. I've never seen desert before, and so far I it is storming like crazy and they have sand dunes. WTF? Anyway, I set up camp. I get settled in and find what has been hurting my toe all day. Damnit Arkansas! A tick is on my cuticle. My toe is all swollen and looking nasty. So far, swampass and a bad toe. Not the worst, but not a good start. Oh well. Tomorrow is looking promising- because I won't be in Oklahoma for long.


Camp at Beaver, OK.


Sun setting over the sand dunes.
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Old 06-16-2013, 07:05 PM   #3
N-Id-Jim
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sounds like a great start. I will be watching for updates!

Ride safe.
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Old 06-17-2013, 04:55 PM   #4
t-bills OP
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Day 3, May 19, 2013:

Woohoo! Going to get out of Oklahoma! I have a few hundred miles left. I stop to get gas in the small town of Hooker. I was about to snap a picture of Hooker Inn when I found this...

I say you get what you pay for.

I wind up on OK 325 / NM 456. This road is a must ride. It goes around Black Mesa which was kind of neat and eventually winds up in the mighty town of Folsom, NM. It is gravel/dirt for a good portion. You go from plains to mesas everywhere to mountains. It is beautiful. I did almost run over a coral snake and had a somewhat close call with a cow.


I took Highway 72 from Folsom to Raton. This road is also a must. It takes you up and over a mountain, up to 9000 ft, and right back down. Great stuff.

I went to Cimarron Canyon next. This is a very steep canyon with a really nice stream running through it.

At the top of Cimarron Canyon is Eagle Nest. This is a nice little tourist town at ~8500' with a beautiful lake surrounded by snow capped mountains.

I was planning on camping at Eagle Nest for the night. I got there in the early afternoon and was feeling antsy. Also, I saw signs reading to not pick up hitchhikers because Eagle Nest is a "reintegration town." Hmm, maybe this isn't the best place to camp tonight. I decide to continue on.

I ride Highway 64 to just outside Taos and then ride the entire "High Road Taos Bypass." Great road. You go from being in the mountains to being in the desert with all sorts of pretty and interesting rock formations. Also, the road is fully of AWESOME twisty sections. At one point, I exercise my emergency braking to dodge a tumbleweed. I wind up in Los Alamos.

Just outside of Los Alamos.

I wanted to go through the museums, but arrived with them closing in ~15 minutes. No biggie. It's Sunday. I'll go camp tonight and hit them tomorrow. DOH! The only day they are closed is on Monday. Oh well. I walked around the one museum which contains some of the original buildings and read the plaques. Some good stuff.

I start heading on to camp for the night. I start to head out of town and come upon a huge permanent checkpoint. Must be on the wrong road. That must take you to the labs. Well, it takes you to the labs, but also up to Bandolier and the Jemez Mountains. Oh well. The security guy wasn't terribly thrilled with me stopping just shy of the checkpoint for 2-3 minutes and then proceeding. I explain my confusion and he doesn't harass me too much. Off to the Jemez Mountains and to camp at Lake Fenton. First off, that Openheimer knew what he was doing when he selected the location of Los Alamos. The Jemez Mountains are gorgeous. There are tall mountains that are really green with lush prairies in amongst them. I set up camp at Fenton Lake (more of a pond...).

Prairie in the mountains

Looking back on my campsite
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Old 06-17-2013, 07:52 PM   #5
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Good to see your ride report coming together............ Trout and I stayed in the same campground outside the Beaver as well !

The Big Beaver holding a nice Cow Pie !! I think they use it in the Big Beaver Day Parade each year...


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Old 06-18-2013, 03:53 AM   #6
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Keep it coming....

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Old 06-20-2013, 06:40 PM   #7
t-bills OP
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Day 4, May 20, 2013:

Brr! I wake up to 29F. I get my act together and get rolling so I can plug in and get warm. I start off riding 126 from Fenton Lake to Cuba, NM. This is a great mostly dirt road. It goes up to 9000' with some beautiful views. It runs along some great prairies with streams running along. This road is just shy of a "must" road.

State Road 126


Overlook from 126- doesn't do the area justice

I boogie up Hwy 550 to Bloomfield. I stop and get some coffee at a strange combo store: half coffee shop, half Verizon. I met a nice couple from Texas on their way to Utah at the coffee shop. He was riding an FJR, her a Sprint. Once back on the road, I took Hwy 64 west. I saw the creepiest rock sticking out of the ground: Shiprock.


I continued on Hwy 64/160 all the way to Tuba City. This is a beautiful road with snow capped mountains on one side with constantly changing rock formations on the other side. Eventually I went by Monument Valley around Kayenta. I didn't do the full triangle of Monument Valley, but did get to see a good portion. What neat rock formations!


I took State Route 264 to 87 to Winslow through the Painted Desert. The subtleties of the Painted Desert were great. I wish I had some good pictures of it, but the lighting was horrible for pictures. None turned out worth a flip. Oh well. The Painted Desert was high on my list of places to see. It was a very peaceful ride taking 264 and 87. I rode for 30 miles at a time without seeing a person. I saw a surprising amount of flowering plants along the way. I landed at Homolovi Ruins State Park for the night. It is a nice, quiet campground with SHOWERS!

Once camp is set up, I venture in to Winslow which is ~5 miles away. It is one of the more famous places for still having part of the original Route 66. It was neat seeing some of the old Route 66 stuff; however, the massive amount of Route 66 stuff got to the point of tacky.
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Old 06-20-2013, 07:03 PM   #8
revolut10n
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Nice report! ..Dirty hookers.. Love the picture of the beaver with the cow pie, too. Hilarious!
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:42 AM   #9
FILLETI
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Looking Good Sir

The beaver pic reminded me of a Primus song

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5e922K8R_Q

You didn't miss much by skipping pikes peak. It was cold snowy and visibility was about 200ft.
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Old 06-25-2013, 10:51 AM   #10
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Don't stop now - we need more pics! Looks like you're set for an amazing month. The west is really the best part of the country.
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Old 06-25-2013, 03:44 PM   #11
t-bills OP
mcs are dangerous
 
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Joined: Oct 2012
Location: Chattanooga, TN
Oddometer: 268
Day 5, May 21, 2013:

Time to go look at a big hole in the ground! First stop- meteor crater. That is a big hole in the ground! The museum is ok, the video is cheesy and "end of the world." The tour and the crater are awesome. You get to walk around about 1/4 of the rim. The history behind the crater is pretty interesting. The crater is beside a bunch of volcanoes so everybody thought it was a volcano. One guy was sure it was a meteor crater. He dug around in the bottom of the crater hoping to find a meteor the size of the crater. Umm, think about that. At least he got it partially right.

Meteor Crater


The largest chunk of the meteor found

I got on the road to go play. I took 87 south. I was supposed to take 260 to Camp Verde, but I was running ahead of schedule. I decided to go on to Scottsdale and drop in a dealership. I went in a super dealership that sold pretty much every brand. I got some advice on great roads to ride. Thanks guys! Back on the road. I get on up into the mountains and take 89 and 89A around Prescott. Great roads. Seriously. Great. Roads. I was giggling like a school girl on 89A. I finally plopped down in Cottonwood at Dead Horse Ranch State Park. If you are ever in the area looking for a place to camp, go here. Great campground.


Sunset from campsite
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Old 06-26-2013, 04:56 PM   #12
t-bills OP
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Joined: Oct 2012
Location: Chattanooga, TN
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Day 6, May 22, 2013:

Hmm, where to ride today? I know, back to 89 and 89A on my way out of Cottonwood!

89A outside of Jerome, AZ.

I spend the next bit riding around on some back roads. I end up going through Bagdad, AZ. Desert and rock. Rock and desert. I can't imagine Bagdad, Iraq being much different. None of the back roads are particularly awesome, nor bad. Just winding around some big ol' rocks. I make my way to 93 and up to Kingman. I then ride out to Hoover Dam. The Hoover Dam was pretty high on my list of things to see on this trip. I'm in the power industry, so this sort of stuff is particularly interesting to me. I pull into the parking garage and the attendant waves me over to the mc parking. Sweet! Free parking for motorcycles!

Hoover Dam


Discharge

I took the full tour and had fun. I asked the dam tour guide where I could get some damn dam bait in honor of Cousin Eddie. I could write a bunch about the tour, but will let the pictures do the talking for me.


One of the strings of turbine-generators


Looking out a vent from about halfway down the dam.


AAAAAAHHHH!


The new bridge

I finished my time at Hoover by riding the Multi across the dam.

So, it is 4:00 and 98F. The ride back to Kingman is 1:30 in this heat and I am not feeling it. I head in to Henderson, NV to at least get some liquids in me and recharge before the ride. As I am going to Las Vegas, I notice a bunch of casinos with cheap room rates. Hmm. $140/night in Henderson for an old Holiday Inn or get a cheap room here. I check around and make the executive decision- going on in to Las Vegas to get a cheap room. I end up staying at Bally's on the strip for $50/night in a suite. Not bad. In fact, so not bad that I decide to stay two nights there and do the Vegas thing and also get some seriously needed rest.
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Old 06-26-2013, 09:07 PM   #13
N-Id-Jim
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Great trip so far.. Hoover dam is way cool..

Need pics from Vegas!
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Old 06-27-2013, 04:49 AM   #14
Oldone
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Great photos!

Thanks for the great series of photos. I've been planning on a ride up to that dam but maybe now I can go elsewhere, this was so good.

Gary "Oldone"


Grampa’s Lake Superior Ride
Grampa’s National Monument Ride

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Old 06-27-2013, 04:06 PM   #15
t-bills OP
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Day 7, May 23, 2013:

Las Vegas. What to say... I get up and head down to get some coffee in the lobby/casino. There are two distinct groups of people in the casino at 7:00 AM: 1) old people who go to bed by 7:30 and get up early to beat the crowds at the slots and 2) people who have obviously been up all night and can barely stay awake but must. push. button. must. push. button. I go walking around through several of the big casinos. Paris is pretty neat. Caesar's is thoroughly impressive with the level of detail. Bellagio is beautiful, especially their fountain show and gardens.

I eventually ate lunch at Caesar's Palace buffet. This was by far the best meal of the trip and perhaps of my life. Huge variety of excellent food. I ate for 1.5 hours. If you are in Vegas, hit up this buffet. It is worth twice the price.

I venture out into the casinos for people watching. Several guys are throwing away insane money at the craps table. it turns out World Poker Tour is at the Bellagio. These people throwing away 20k on a hand/game are pros that already lost in the tournament. I stayed amazed at how people (even regular joe schmoes) could throw away so much money so quickly. For those of you gamblers, keep it up. It provides excellent entertainment to me.

I wondered around town a bit more, saw some excellent street performers, and called it an early night. Sorry no pics of Vegas.
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