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Old 06-30-2012, 10:25 AM   #1
JayElDee OP
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Travels with Stella! The Vermillion Cliffs and Beyond

Have you been to that place, you know that place?
Have you felt that wind, you know that wind?
Have you felt that sun through your visor, you know that sun?

It's nowhere particular, it's calm in your soul, you can see forever if you want. You've been riding for hours, still have half a tank. A car passes sometimes, the grasses gold the sky robin's egg blue. You probably stink. You have a day's stubble. You stretch your fingers, stand in the pegs.
There's a bubble around you and you are not alone within. There's someone else who whispers and chats, supports and advises, sings along.

She gets a little restless in the spring
She might follow the lines you sing
Bu//sh!t though they are
‘Cause sometimes that’s just the thing
If delivered with panache and a certain grace
Fingertips on satin lace
Cutting cards and quoting Proust
Whatever turns her wild mare loose

It's hot, but not that hot; dry, but not that dry and it's a long ride, but not that long.

Stella! and I on the road and this time I know who's riding shotgun. There have been those voices, or maybe it's only one, on rides before and I thought they were me, but now I accept it could be, just might be another.

Oh, hell, lemme get a scotch and show you where I went...BRB
I usually take Balvenie 12 with me on these trips, but this time it was The Macallan (only) 10

And a fine companion indeed, a departure gift from MLW . Always give credit.

So, this is where I went.

According to SPOT it is 4200something miles, but according to my GPS it was 4741. There were a few 500+ miles days, more than I usually want but Stella!'s only erogenous zone, her starter, was acting up or threatened to. More on that later

I was talking about voices, I think. Rewind...yes, that's what I was talking about; that's where I was.

So, I am riding along and I think it's day one of two weeks, an auspicious start to be sure, and I hear it. That voice.
And I think for the first time, since maybe what? Second grade at St Pius X? It could be my guardian angel along for the ride. Why not, better her than schizophrenia, right, and it's a good voice, a sweet voice.
MLW won't ride with me because, "someone has to stay alive," but that does not worry her, my guardian angel. It's a good voice that speaks without words.
Does it take the solitude of two wheels, hours alone, to hear? Finally getting through, shouting loud enough to hear, or me, putting aside the quotidian? It just doesn't matter...and I can play with the thought. And I can play with the conversation and we can sing as loud as we want...Who else the hell is going to hear?

So, I think of this and it makes sense at 75 mph on wherever I was. It fit. So I start thinking about my guardian angel and I think what's your name? Molly.
I knew she would be a girl. Guardian angels are not gender specific, why should they be. And I picture her.
I know she is not the guardian angel of our grammar school "holy" cards, though her mission is just the same.
This is not her--not me either, but you get the idea...

Not Molly, though maybe when I was that age so many years ago that is what she was. No, now I think she is more like Jessica Lange in All That Jazz, one of my absolute favorite movies ( ok, what are the others---Pulp Fiction, Clockwork Orange, Dr Strangelove and anything by the Coen Brothers).
Yes, more like Jessica Lange. More like this.

That's what I'm talking about. Ok, All That Jazz Jessica Lange was Angelique, the angel of death, doesn't matter. That's how I picture her. Like Jessica Lange. Like that.

No conversation, no question and answer, nothing but a sweet ever-present companion in some space between my ears, maybe a little to the left of midline, but so comfortable. Anyone who's ridden those long miles has met their own, You know who I mean. Did you know it was your guardian angel? If you did you should have shared. It's important.
And Molly sings to me in lyrics meant just for me, in songs never heard, in songs I am incapable of sharing. Her songs are sweeter than Restless Spirits (Jimmy La Fave), and more touching than Collective Soul and can Bewitch, Bother, and Bewilder so that even Queen Ella's voice would quake.
She sings that well. Ymmv but you've heard her. Not Molly herself but, well you know. You need only the road and the wind and the sun to hear if you listen, and chances are you've heard your own.

She gets a little restless now and then
She feels the changes in the wind
Way down deep where I can’t see
She can get clean away from me
With a side step and subtle shift
And the turning of a key
Locks me out and lets me drift
She’ll come back if I let her be
She’ll come back if I let her be

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Old 06-30-2012, 01:03 PM   #2
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Always a tough question to answer is where to go.
There is a bucket list:
And there is a short bucket list including the Jefferson Highway to Winnepeg, around Lake Superior, around Lake Michigan and tooling around New England just to see how far I could go.

But as I was deciding I saw an article in the National Geographic, and that made the difference, tipped the scales.

A friend and I had passed through this area on the way back from Torrey a couple of years ago. It was magical as we saw it for the first time at dusk.

Settled, the others will have to wait. It will be the Vermillion Cliffs.
I would leave the day after my birthday.

Dessert at Restaurant August, one of the best meals ever figuring I would burn it off somewhere along I 10, I 49, I 20 the next day and I probably did

Because I was crossing Louisiana and Texas and heading to the Utah Arizona border, weather was a real consideration.
It was spring weather season, read tornadoes and spring storms. I could not do anything about that except get Molly to help. The main concern was temperature. It is often 90 in La and Texas in late April and May, and it would be much cooler at the elevations and dryness of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. I opted for summer mesh pants and my now vintage Rev It Cayenne Pro jacket, carrying the liners for the jacket and a pair of Chillies long underwear for the pants. I took summer gloves and a now nearly worn out pair of HELD "Steve" gloves. That arrangement worked out well. In Az and UT the temps were mostly in the 50s, 60s, and occasionally in the low to mid 70s. I often used the heated grips. I was more likely to be cold than hot.
I also took only 4 pairs of underwear and socks--all Underarmor brand--and that was enough. Other than washing/rinsing them in the evening, no washing was required ( I think :) ) and they held up just fine.

So, it was to be the Vermillion Cliffs.
Aside: Vermillion Cliffs also seems to be spelled "Vermilion," you'll find both spellings

The Bureau of Land Management describes them this way, in this sterile fashion

The 3,000-foot escarpment of the Vermilion Cliffs reveals seven major geologic formations in layer-cake fashion. This remote, unspoiled 294,000-acre national monument is a geologic treasure of towering cliffs, deep canyons, and spectacular sandstone formations, containing the Paria Plateau, Vermilion Cliffs, Coyote Buttes and Paria Canyon. Elevations range from 3,100 to 6,500 feet.
From the map below ...

you can see that they are part of the series of escarpments that make up the Grand Staircase Escalante. That slit or invagination at the bottom is the Colorado River, I think.
They don't tell you that you should expect to see a terrain that the Opportunity and Spirit rovers on Mars see.
This is Mars

This is Earth

The company the Cliffs keep is pretty awesome. To the south is the north rim of the Grand Canyon

To the north is Bryce Canyon and Kodachrome Basin

To the east is Glen Canyon and Monument Valley (well, ok, the northeast)

And to the west is Zion.

Point is that Stella!'s trajectory toward the Vermillion Cliffs seems a good choice. I know I cannot do it all, but focus focus focus.

First stop, the Longhorn Inn in Gordon Texas.
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Old 07-01-2012, 11:43 AM   #3
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The Longhorn Inn in Gordon, Texas should be noted for one thing: it's presence. There is nothing else around. Gordon, Texas is a sleepy town that made it's mark in the late 19th century as a railroad town. It processed coal from, where else, Coalville, but when oil became king its fortunes dwindled. Thurber, Texas is part of the Gordon "metroplex." To the uninitiated, me, it's hard to tell when you've left Gordon and arrived in Thurber. And actually, It seemed the Longhorn was more in Thurber than in Gordon. 600 miles away as I am now, I supposed it's a quibble. But in Gordon (or Thurber), I s'pose, thems fightin' words, pardner. Thurber was a much more cosmopolitan town. It was a center for masonry. Bricks made from the red clay of the area are widely known and are used to pave many many Texas streets, statewide. Immigrants from Germany, Poland, Italy poured into Thurber during it's heyday--the same as Gordon's--to make the brick bearing it's proud name.

But, when oil became king, both Gordon and Thurber declined to their present states.

As I usually do I asked the Proprietrix of the Longhorn ($51 a night and very " spare," but acceptable accomodations) where's a good place to eat.
Well, I always send people to the New York Hill Restaurant, up on New York Hill, up the service road about 3 miles, you can't miss it

Whenever I hear "you can't miss it" I always think how creative I can be in missing such a landmark, and also, after riding well north of 600 miles I didn't want to get on the bike again, I wanted to get on the scotch and walk somewhere.

What about that place across 20?
I had noticed an Exxon with BBQ in BIG BLACK LETTERS plastered over the associated Qwiki-Mart...walking distance, Macallans distance.

Well, that's there too but I really don't know a lot about it, I know a lot of truckers stop there.

Sounds like you don't think much of it? She smiled in a thinly disguised assent.

Well, I send a a lot of people to the New York Hill Restaurant and they all like it.

Done! The Macallans will await my return. The New York Hill it will be.

I unload Stella! and ride, now in the late afternoon Texas heat to the New York Hill Restaurant. You can't miss it.

I walk in and the wait staff and their families are sitting at the only occupied table in the place, but it is clean and interesting in that there are old photos of the towns all over the walls.

I take a seat. Just ice water please and a tall glass, sweating with condensation arrives with a wedge of lemon. A few other patrons arrive, visitors to Thurber.

The remains of the old town in the distance, the brick oven's chimney is pretty much all that remains, except for the cemetery with 1000 souls, awaiting my next visit.

The menu is heavy on attractive pork, and I can't remember what I ordered, but it was good, though not quite as good as the conversation.
At the table of the staff and their familiars...and, no value judgment here but we are talking about a table with an average BMI in the high 30s.

Anyhow, at that table one of the (must be regular) gourmands observes the fine quality of the bread, and it was very good as was everything,
"The bread is so good it sticks to your teeth," and the table's response was a collective "Eeewwwwwwww!" and laughter.

Just then, the big guy in the hat walks in with his woman, seen here reaching for something thought to be edible.

So, before they sit they stop at the staff table and many know each other.
"Oh, look who's here!" and laughter and greetings in that small town way, Cheers without Shelly Long.
A waitress says," You haven't seen me for a while!" The big guy remains the poster child for non-plussed, silent, surveying, thinking of his move. Stealthy in thought.
From across the room I can smell deductive reasoning at work, "who is she," he thinks.
The waitress goes on in fast talk telling him of someone she was married to, or had some relationship with that surely will ring a bell with him...and it does.
He blurts out, loudly, "Yeah, well he went to JAIL!"
Demurring now, getting smaller by the moment, almost invisible now, going going, she manages a very tiny "Yes, well that was a long time ago."

Such drama at the New York Hill Restaurant in Thurber Texas.
They take their seat, and I snap the above pic.

So, what's the deal? Why New York, Why Thurber? Are we talking James Thurber, the humorist, of The New Yorker magazine fame? I make the connection faster than innocence disappears at a Courtney Love motivational lecture.

James Thurber

I ask my waitress, she has no idea, however the lady cashier and I have a discussion about it.
No, not James Thurber, but for H.K Thurber, friend of the founders of the coal company.
Ok, Why New York Hill?
Well, because this is where the rich people lived, Episcopalians, by the way, and the immigrant settlers, who were Catholic, refered to the hill that way.
So, It was sarcasm that named this New York Hill?
Deep in the heart of Texas you do come across some interesting tidbits, ya know?

I return to the Longhorn for what will be one of the most restful night's sleep of the trip, not that the others were restless, but this was noticeably restful.

I didn't mention my fellow travelers in Trurber/Gordon, The moths.
They were swarming and whenever I stopped they fluttered arounf Stella! landing and seemingly checking out this strange beast. They looked inquisitive, not like the flies that swarm to feast on dead bug carcasses on your windscreen or wherever. No, it was like they were looking around and when their curiosity was sated, they left.

Eloise, the moth.

Now to cross the panhandle, but backroads at last, off of the slab for a good while.

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Old 07-01-2012, 07:51 PM   #4
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Kodachrome between the tar

Straight ahead and faster -Bo Weaver 1970
"There I was..." -Griffin Niner Three Hotel
"One day closer to a parade..." Jonny Gomes, spring training 2013
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Old 07-02-2012, 11:28 AM   #5
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SpotAdventures having issues, but the route is now showing up on the link. I departed on the uppermost line and returned on the lower line.

I awoke the next morning eager to hit backroads for the first time this outing. First, some coffee and breakfast. The Longhorn, although "Native Texan Owned," sporting Clean Restrooms,

failed to have Drinks Snacks at the beguiling hour of 715 am, so I walked across the parking lot to the FINA, as in "nothing could be," well, you know, station across the gravel parking lot to sample their wares. Native Texans here also, who actually had home made versions of an Egg McMuffin in an overly hot and bright display case, and weak coffee with the pink stuff. I'm a yellow man, myself.

I remember back during my army days something that came out said the pink stuff gave bladder cancer to mice, but I sprinkle it anyway on the translucent Joe. One half and half makes it too light. I set at a table and let the scene unfold. The two women working there inhabit the late afternoon of middle age and from all appearances received no "stimulus" money, though I could be wrong, having not been here during the what now appear to be halcyon days of George W.
They are manly women.
One resides behind the register and is quiet, the other "floats" and is not. I overhear a conversation:

No, he ain't given her nothing. I don't know what she was thinking getting all involved with him, but now they have Patrick (this was the offspring, who is a baby and being raised solely by the "floater's" daughter. Kids, huh?)
She was speaking to a gentleman who came in for, I don't know, but maybe just to catch up. He nodded and said Yup. And hmmm.
She went on.
Yeah, I know he has money and I don't know where he's getting it (and here I think she mean the "money" because I inferred that as of now he was not "getting it" from the mother of his child). But, he's got money. hell, I called up the DEA on him, I told them to get over there ("there" being the trailer), I even told them which one it was...
More nodding, a Hmm or two
It's easy to see it, you know!
I told'em it's the one with the flashing strings of red lights because he ain't took down his Christmas lights, but they ain't done nothin'. They ain't done nothin'

Oh, the places you'll go when you are alone on the road, but those who have done this know I am not lying. I'm not making this up. You've heard this stuff. After my first trip out with Stella! I carried a small notebook to write it down. Now I use my iPhone, just to share.
I poured another cup of coffee, still weak, still pale. Generalization coming----Texas often has crap coffee.

I pack up Stella! and we hit the road, heading for Santa Rosa, New Mexico and I am ready for the Land of Enchantment.

I head mostly west along US 180 and tributaries to it through Albany and Anson until I take 70 north then 380 and west.
I mention this because, well, it is a ride report, and it was a very nice little stretch of road, nice surface, little traffic, hilly and sweepers.
But, man when I hit 380 heading west and up into New Mexico, the wind really picked up.

This wind has no name and it certainly wasn't Mariah. It was as hot and dry as the Sirocco, but from the west north west.
It was hitting me from 9 to 12 o'clock in position and mostly from like 10:30.

I have never felt winds like this before.
I was glad that Stella! had such heft. They were constant at 35-40 mph with gusts. While riding I just leaned into it, but when stopped I was afraid it would blow me over. It didn't. Sometimes dry earth from dry fields was blowing across the road obscuring vision as a dense fog might.
There were dust devils around and they were big ones. I remember riding through one and when I did the air felt "softer" and warmer for a moment or two.
I sort of aim for them sometimes.
There was one stretch when my low fuel light lit at 122 miles, another tank at 135, and when I tried to nurse it I got to 143. Normally, highway speeds like that would light it at 170-190. Every time I stopped for gas I looked all around to be sure I had no fuel leak. I think of the nearest dealer: Albuquerque.
Nope, no leak. Just wind resistance. Press on. First photo op ahead.
Fort Sumner, NM.

Known to be the death place of William H. Bonney (from wiki), born William Henry McCarty, Jr.on November 23, 1859 and meeting an untimely end, only in the sense that he lived far too long, on July 14, 1881, Bastille Day. C'est la Vie!
He had another alias, Henry Antrim.

You may know him as Billy the Kid

"Billy was not a bad man, that is he was not a murderer who killed wantonly. Most of those he killed deserved what they got."
I cannot tell you the number of times a gunshot "victim" has been brought to the OR and the comments were along the lines of the same. Meaning, they probably deserved it.

I don't know. I have a little trouble with sympathy here. And most certainly the marketing of this "perhaps" thug.

So, I go to the "authentic" gravesite of B the K, the "museum" is not free, but the grave site is. On the walls of the "museum" are images of wild west characters.

Have you ever seen a flattering portrait of Calamity Jane? None to be found here
Martha Jane Cannary, best known as Calamity Jane, was a U.S. frontierswoman who was famous for her riding and shooting skills, as well as for her kindness.
Your mother would've told you she was a good dancer and had a great personality. She also had easy virtue...interested now, grasshopper?

Admittedly, not particularly flattering, but damn! This is CJ at the Fort Sumner Museum

Hot? I think not.
However, Hollywood chose Doris Day to portray her in "Warner Bros. Sky-Highest Smile-Widest Wild'n Wooliest Musical of Them All!"

Aside: I saw no camels on this trip, however it appears one of their toes made it to the poster. And did she have a whip?

Anyhow, I go around to the grave. It is sparsely attended. Lots of room in the cemetery.

And I have enough of the whole Billy the Kid scene. good kid, bad circumstances...maybe I am just jaded from another hundred plus years of that sort of thing, and those excuses are still used for many gangsta predators (victims?) on our streets. My kid is an honor student at Billy the Kid Elementary. SFW!

What was ironic or poignant or somewhere in between were these signs right there.

The Bosque Redondo, just down the road was an internment camp for many Native Americans in the time around the Civil War. Mostly Navajo, but other tribes/peoples also were force marched, in the winter 400 miles on occasion, to this location. One piece of the Southwest is as good as another, right? That appeared to be the thinking then, and that land was "needed" to fulfill Manifest Destiny, I suppose. Terrible times. But this wink and nod to the almost glorification of the Kid, next to this Other real estate, a bit much.

I made it to Santa Rosa being a relatively short ride away, in that wind and hunkered at the Motel 6 on Route 66.
Trivia: Motel "6," why 6?
Because the first rooms were $6 a night.

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Old 07-04-2012, 06:44 AM   #6
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Sorry for the delay, work's been hectic and busy, and many after hours engagements this week, so I have been away from the keyboard. I did get this shot of the Transit of Venus though.

You can see Venus as the circular spot near 2 o'clock--that's about 27 million miles away. On the Sun's face the other dots/smudges are sunspots--cooler areas--that are 65 million miles behind Venus's shadow.

So, how's that for a segue back to the land of the Sun, the American Southwest?
Mercifully the wind stopped by the next morning. I depart Santa Rosa - "the Oasis on Route 66 and Jewel of New Mexico. Santa Rosa is a beautiful small city with great recreational facilities; home of the Blue Hole, an artesian, bell-shaped lake, crystal clear blue water, crisp 61 degrees year round and 91' feet deep" - and my general direction is north west, but a bit of tourism stirred in.

I head down NM 91, south, a neat road to Puerto del Luna. At PDL Coronado and his conquistadors built a bridge across the Pecos River and named the site for the view of the moon they had as it rose over a ridge.

PDL is mostly in disrepair these days, but the church remains, Nuestro Señora del Refugio Church, seen above. A dusty spot renown for it's history and its chili, I depart, swing around and tool off.

When you ride one of these rides, and those of you who have know this, there are pictures you miss along the way and in Vaughn, NM there was one--I think there were only 3 on this ride though. So, I am riding along, looking at Vaughn on US 60/285, a diorama of what used to be, preserved only by Nature now, and on my left is one of those old decrepit former gas stations that now serve only to function as a repository for delinquent tumbleweeds. It's a small one, two ghost pumps, one shuttered service bay, no outward sign of its former affiliation with an oil producing multinational, let go, adrift.
In the window is a sign, hand painted, on wood, black letters on white:

Female Vocalist Needed

and then a phone number.

Sometimes what is out there just bounces you around; it could be the winds, it could be the hitchhikers, it could be three words placed so joltingly inappropriately to their surroundings, or maybe not inappropriately, I'll never know. I realized that was a picture waiting to happen, but by that time, at 80 feet per second, I was a block away and as I considered the 180 involved, I was two blocks, then three, and It was lost. I could have done the 180 and gone back, considered it, but I really do not like to do U turns on any highway, and not this one. So, that was one picture we both lost, but it would've been a good one I think, or maybe not.
Not far from Vaughn, is Willard, NM, home of the Willard Cantina. Great Food and ICE.

The food was ok and I needed no ice. And the coffee was ok, but better than Texas coffee--or the Texas coffee I had.

I sat at that chair on the right, by the window with the plants and the moths that you can't see.
It was a classic road house, though. There was a dining room on one side and a ramshackle bar with tables on the other. It would be described a "rough" if there were any other establishment in Willard to compare it. There were not.
The dining room.

There were other tables occupied by locals with families, kids, grandmas and grandpas, and a couple of harley riders, and two middle aged women seated in the bar area/ dance floor section.
I was the "lone traveler." But, you get that a lot, and it is interesting to do a little out of body to see yourself seated, checking out, walking to the bathroom, see yourself as others there must see you, road worn, bugs on your jacket, helmet head.

It was a place heavy on the skull motif, I don't get it, someone educate me on that. Above the bar, there is the "Ground and Pound" bumper sticker and above that is "You Drink...You Drive...You Lose."
Maybe it's the Día de los Muertos thing, especially seen in this area, but it seems to be the rage among a certain crowd of riders, whose only ties to Mexican culture are microwaved frozen cheese tacos from WalMart.


At the time, Willard was a nice little stop along the way, a photo op and decent food and the coffee I missed at the Motel 6 in Santa Rosa. But now, a month later, It is a microcosm for the road. Relish those places, stop, relax a second and those places, The Willard Cantina, wind up achieving a status you couldn't realize at the time, but will later.

That evening I wind up in Los Alamos. That is a neat place. They invented the Bomb here, Manhatten Project and all that. The museum is very cool with mock ups of the two bombs dropped at the end of WW2. There is a cool film about the whole project.

One of the cameras used
And, home to the greatest junk/surplus shops you will ever encounter: The Black Hole

It is in a beautiful area, and just down the road from one of my favorite cities, described in a previous ride report, Santa Fe.

Really getting into the meat of the trip now, though, I pass through a favorite spot, but now seen from a different vantage point, Shiprock, outside of the town of the same name.
It's one of those places you can just stop and stare for a while and there are roads all around it, but it is Navajo Nation so the dirt roads leading to it are not well traveled and can be very muddy and rutty. Still it is a special area and a beauty.

Shiprock is in the Four Corners area, but I have never been there. It really is the definition of out of the way, but not that far out of the way. People talk about the area as being pretty cool, but I think that all areas around there have the same appeal. Still, it is worth a detour if you find yourself nearby, just to say you've been there.
There is a monument to the political boundaries. It is a spot where everyone takes the same picture, and yes it is cheesy. But, hey, why not! It's not like anyone there is going to talk about you unless you do something like the Chevy/Ford after market (well-after-market) pick-up truck decal

and you then substitute Ford for Arizona and Calvin for Utah, or mix and match to your own "taste."
Then you may be discussed afterward, if not arrested on the spot--take away message if you choose, get it right the first time, there will be no second try.

So, feeling the fromage rising I walk up, take a shot of a happy family at where "X" marks the spot.

The picture taker and the happy family are not related, but these areas engender a camaraderie, so everyone is willing to help out each other. I can feel it coming over me.
Now, it should be noted that the lady grimly observing from Arizona the goings on across the states' lines

accompanied the lady in jeans, also in Arizona, doing the happy family the lifelong favor of preserving the moment of this geographic oddity.

Now it was Grim and Jeans's turn to have their picture taken and I offered. They accepted and we laughed. I said This Is So Cheesy with a smile, but falling deeper into the fondue of the moment. Jeans laughed and protested, Oh No! Not At All, but Grim agreed with me still posing happily at the nexus of Arizona Colorado Utah New Mexico.

Now it was my turn and in full Monterrey Jack Havarti Gouda Gruyere Cheddar mode I Carpe Diem the moment and place four of my longer appendages in each of four states, put on my best feces consuming grin and "snap," a picture is worth a thousand words.

We part, and I head to my destination for the evening, Blanding, Utah

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Old 07-05-2012, 03:20 AM   #7
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Where was I? Los Alamos, Shiprock, Four Corners, Blanding...ready for "red rocks."

But before I leave that and move on, there are two things I want to mention.
1) Lost picture number 2

It was near here

This is on the road to Abiquiu and beyond, outside of Espanola. Espanola is worth a stop if you're in the area. It's pretty old, I think and has a famous trading post, The Chimayo Trading Post

The old guy in the front window is not a mannequin, that is a living breathing human being.
That's Mr. Leo "Polo" Trujillo.
He runs the place. Doesn't say much and we were the only customers. There was truly nothing to buy, but lots of knicknacks and old clothes.
Just outside the Chimayo TP, was this house.

The Trujillo-Blanchard House
Betcha can't see the legend over the blue

I cannot find anything about the Trujillo-Blanchard House, specifically who were Trujillo and Blanchard--a common south Louisiana name, except:
Blanchard, Antoine
Taos, married Gertrudis Trujillo, 12 July 1826

I don't know if that means anything though, but Shoulder of Mutton Alley? :-k

But it could be all of this has a much more mundane history, other than it being a well preserved old home on the National Register.
Turns out, Leo Trujillo worked as a member of a cabin crew on PanAm. He met his wife on the job. They traveled the world and collected stuff and brought it back here when they retired to this place. One of the items collected was the street sign from the dockyards of London, Shoulder of Mutton Alley. You can connect the remaining dots.

There is good food in Espanola, I ate at this place, favored by locals and it was delicious.

El Paragua Restaurant

But back to the item at hand, the lost picture in Espanola. All of us have seen the roadside crosses, marking a loved one's place of demise, automobile, motorcycle...
for example,

Nothing elaborate though in this case. On US 84/285 skirting the western edge of town a simple cross stating:

and then the name and phone number. Yet, again, I am jolted by the incongruity of the view, but unable to turn around on the very busy highway. I made a mental note to get that picture if I came back through, but Stella! had other plans for me, directing me on the way home through ABQ.

Item number 2
Alcoholism among Native Americans
I am not going to get into the social arguments regarding root causes; I am not going to address whether Native Americans have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism (from I I see, btw, it appears not. The "facts" that they lack a gene that is involved in the metabolism of alcohol by the liver is controversial at best and possibly wrong, but the jury is out on that one).
No, what I want to mention is something I have seen primarily in the Navajo Nation in multiple states and that is the beer bottle litter on the side of the road.
It is a strange situation because it seems
1-to be worse in the Navajo Nation than Zuni, or Ute, or other tribes
2-it is only on certain roads, always far from any township, read, in the middle of nowhere, one road will be afflicted and others in the same area will not
3-there is no increased density to the beer bottles at any particular spot on the road, for example, at an intersection, or STOP sign.

I'll be riding along and on a road like this--not this one, but like it, often on a reservation, and again most certainly in a "Nation's" land

something shiny will catch my eye. There will be beer bottles strewn along both sides of the roadway, with no increase in density, but a steady "pollution" for miles and miles and miles. In an area the size of the top of an office desk there will be three or four bottles, clear, green, brown. Thousands of them. In any one spot, within beer bottle throwing distance there will be 25-50 bottles. Again, it will be that way for miles and miles
It is so incongruous that this landscape will be desecrated in this way. And it appears it is desecrated by the people of that Land.
Remember this guy?

Iron Eyes Cody

Ok, there is a story there also.
Iron Eyes was not Native American at all, "but played one in the movies." His portrayals were so good though, that even though not Native American, (from Wiki) "In 1995, Cody was honored by the American Indian community for his work publicizing the plight of Native Americans, including his acting in films."
But wait! There's more!
Turns out that Iron Eyes did NOT go by the moniker Tony Five-Tears, BUT he was Italian! Actually BETTER than Italian...Sicilian! Yeah, Baby!
Born Espera Oscar de Corti in Kaplan, Louisiana (in the heart of Cajun country, Acadiana), the second son of Antonio de Corti and his wife, Francesca Salpietra, immigrants from Sicily. He had two brothers and a sister. His parents had a local grocery store in Gueydan ( pronounced GAY-Dawn), Louisiana, where he was raised.
de Corti became Corti and then Cody.
He denied his Italian (Sicilian) ancestry when it was revealed by our local paper, The Times-Picayune, in the late 90s, but eventually "turned" and spilled his guts.
Tony Five-Tears now "sleeps with the fishes" meeting a "natural" end in 1999 at 95 years old.
So, yeah, we need him now on those back roads, making the litterers an offer they just cannot refuse, capisce?
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Old 07-05-2012, 03:32 AM   #8
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Old 07-06-2012, 05:34 PM   #9
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Hey, Pantah,
Looks like we have the same wanderlust destinations! did you stealth at Shiprock? That is a very cool pic of Kodachrome Basin, btw.

I arrive in Blanding in late afternoon. I take a cool route there, but in truth there aren't many options. Let me put it another way: from the Four Corners area I went into Colorado for a little bit then I followed the squiggliest road marking I could and that included Utah 262 which was a sweeping twisting route with good views off to the south. There was another route out of Aneth (which I always thought looked like "Anes" which is how we often abbreviate Anesthesia, and in fact is the way I'd say it if I had a lisp, which I don't). It was even squigglier, but iirc it was dirt??? On this route, the route from Colorado to 262, I saw the aforementioned detritus, the thousands of beer bottles strewn on the shoulder.
So, Blanding.

Blanding is aptly named, but just outside of town are many scenic areas, all day trips from B., Ut. It had that high plains dry hot wind that promised chill later that night. It had that late afternoon sun that no matter which way you turned, you were staring into our own star. It had a Comfort Inn next to an Italian restaurant, and late on this Sunday afternoon, that was what I wanted. I wash the road kill from my hair, wash my face and I am ready to savor what Mr Macallan has to offer, ice bucket, I pour a double, really a 1.5 into the cups that others use for the weak coffee in the room.

Ok, let's go eat. I hit the restaurant, walking distance. And I do not remember what I ordered, I don't remember it being good or bad or anything but not unsatisfying. I like to remember meals.
Fast forward to the next morning. The sky was washed clean, the late afternoon yellow sun was replaced by a whiter light in the morning.
I take 191 S from Blanding, but hang a right onto UT 95 just out of town.
95 is a beautiful road for both the ride and the scenery. First you are gawking at the beauty of the ride, up and down and sweepers in magnificent country, but there is a spot that will stop you every time, well, it stopped me on two rides through this area.
The road is cut through a mountain and you emerge on the southwestern flank of the Coxcomb Ridge.

This is the route

and the ridge itself from afar

That is what you ride alongside of when you come through that break on 95. You get a hint of what it is when you're along side, but to take it in, you follow the road as the views just become better and better. Both times I've been here have been the morning, but I'll bet that late afternoon golden sun lighting it from the side must be magnificent. If anyone has that shot please post it.

Going a little farther and one of the National parks that make Blanding an attractive base, arrives. It is Natural Bridges National Monument. There are three huge natural bridges in the park and if so inclined you can hike to them.

I am not a hiker by any stretch. And I am especially not a hiker ATGATT and carrying a heavy camera. And this area is at enough elevation, that, for this dweller of submarine atmosphere, I get short of breath. And hot. No hiking.
But you really don't have to. The park has a 9 mile loop with parking and vault toilets (yes) along the way. Viewing areas are placed well. Pretty cool.

The one above I stared and stared and could not see it, right in front of my face, and that was because I didn't expect to see an arch so long

And I saw this. kind of looks like a dinosaur print? But I am ignorant when it comes to this, so I am probably wrong, but if someone wants to say Nahhhhh, I'm fine with it.

At the visitor's center I meet the first European of this trip, Marco, from The Netherlands. Well, actually he is living in Calgary now, and on his 650 GS, yellow, he is tooling around the US and will eventually get to the deep south east, but only after he rides back up to Calgary. Young kid, probably in his late 20s, very chatty. We talked technology and roads and life on the road. I was able to offer some suggestions on considered routes. He was doing this on the cheap and camping. He had just done the loop of the park and encouraged me to do so, and I did. I think I sent him toward the Moki Dugway, but he could handle that. And that is where I headed now.

A good description of the Dugway can be found in the link below, but it's one of those places that you just have to be there to appreciate it. I came from the north side as in the description.
I rode the Dugway a few years ago from the other direction so I was climbing rather than descending. It was easier and felt more sure footed, even though it was in the rain. The gravel/dust mix of the road is that sort that would turn glissando, one would think, with the mention of precipitation, but I found it slipperier in the dry. Not once when ascending in the rain did I feel the sphincter tightening I felt when descending in the dry. It is steep somewhat rutted, had the goldilocks sized gravel (just the right size to make you feel every time your tire slipped on a piece), and never ever level fore to aft, side to side. Stopping for pictures is precarious. It is the kind of place the DESERVES a sticker and if one exists please let me know. It deserves a sticker.

check out this link---good info and good pictures. There is one picture though that could not be taken today because the sign is gone, as is the fencing. It's the second to last one with the elevation listed.

This road literally climbed, descended these cliffs. Looking at them from somewhat afar they looked like and were probably part of the Vermilion Cliffs, and were certainly part of the Grand Staircase of southern Utah.

The feeling was somewhere between Yikes! and Woo Hoo! and Did It!! But it was closest to Yikes! I didn't feel my guardian angel's presence on this ride, or maybe she was just staying quiet unwilling to distract me. Whatever. I made it.
This is what I just came down, see the road? No? Neither can I and I couldn't then, when I snapped this.

It was at that spot, and this is the picture the other way, my direction of travel,

that I had a Clif Bar, drained the lizard, and answered my phone. Yes, answered my phone...there was service here. AT&T huh? Service breaks up in my bedroom, but I have service here. Amazing.

The other amazing thing was that it was a call I awaited, from Hummer Adventures in Page, Az. More on that later though. A fortuitous stop for more than one reason, though.

So, I travel on, and visit an old site, visited once before, Goosenecks State Park, so called because of this bend in the San Juan River.

So, I am there taking pictures with about 50 other people when this subtle roar arises, becoming less and less subtle and then loud, very loud

I think that's a C130? But very cool buzzing the canyon.

I straddle Stella! and we ride out of the park on the nice little road that connects back to the highway and then south toward and through Mexican Hat, Utah, called such because of this rock formation

It was around here, that Stella! started protesting almost whenever I hit her starter button. She whirred rather than yin/yin/yin/vroom!'d. Before the trip I knew there were a few things that needed tending, but I thought, and as it turns out I was right, I thought they could wait for the trip to be over. They were changing the fuel filter, now externalized, and the air filter which requires (for me, ymmv) removal of the tank--ugh, and getting a new starter. Her starter has been in and out of her at least three times in the previous 20k miles, being cleaned and lubed and other than clattering on start, seemed to perform just fine.

Just fine until we hit the exceedingly dry air of Utah and now that Honda Moly grease, the 6% stuff, no longer made the distance to lube the shaft enough to actually engage the flywheel. And it got worse. She always started in the morning and maybe once after that without drama, but later in the day, it was certain that it would take a few tries to get lift-off. Houston we have a problem. On the second to last day I found a trick to coax the starter to engage and that was to bump the starter button a couple of times in rapid succession and she would engage. I really didn't notice anything dramatic with the fuel or air filter and still routinely got nearly 50 mpg, but when I got home and changed them, the air filter was really dirty and gross, and when I blew on the end of the fuel filter there was significant resistance to flow, far more than the new one. And like the good date she's always been, she waited for me to be safely home for her hi beam to burn out.
Always the lady.
Changing the starter is pretty easy, instuctions can be found online. It is FAR cheaper to do it yourself. I found a new OEM Valeo for $191 delivered. A shop doing it would reach $400, I'm pretty sure.

So, we leave Medicine Hat and head toward Monument Valley, skirting it on the west, heading to Page, the Vermilion Cliffs and Hummer Adventures
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Old 07-06-2012, 05:36 PM   #10
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It was getting warm on that ride from Medicine Hat to Page, but there was a photo op along the way: Monument Valley.

I would just skirt it, but the majesty of the megaliths never fails to arrest one's vision. Even if you're just passing alongside, you have to stop. There is a picture that is often taken on rides around here.
It's this one

I took that a few years ago on my big ride, Out West. You'll see it in many ride reports of this area.
This time I couldn't get that one; the area is much more built up, and there was a lot of traffic on this Monday afternoon.

As I approached Monument Valley from the north, from Goosenecks State Park and Mexican Hat, it was clear that the Big Rocks of MV were not confined to the stretch known as Monument Valley. They extended far to the west. This is a view from Goosenecks toward the west and these are not part of MV, but to anyone they would appear to be siblings.

and a baby Big Rock, just on the edge of Goosenecks

Still, just down the road a bit the card carrying formations of MV appear nearly straddling the border of Utah and Arizona, a border that after this trip may have become my favorite place in the USA--if only they had Louisiana seafood.

And here on the Arizona side of the border. That signage was not there just a few years ago.

From there you can take 160 down to beyond Tuba City, a hot dusty place of big box stores and wide intensely bright asphalt streets, OR, you can take 160 as far as Az 98, aka Indian Route 22, through the Navajo Nation

I took 98. It's an interesting ride on a very good blacktop surface with no services. Take that back, there is a gas station on the north side of 98, about 3 miles east of US 89. It is to be avoided. Surly operators--you have to go in and pay before pumping, and with a bladder commanding as much conscious thought as shifting, braking and not falling over, it was just plain awful to hear that the bathroom was out of order. Ugh. And it was not the kind of place you could go "around the back." When in that area, fill up in Kayenta. There are some nice people at the Fina station. OK so I digressed to talk about my bladder, again, but it was that important at the time, ok? Still I got ahead of myself a bit.

AZ 98, Square Mesa and environs

Page, Arizona is a VERY cool destination. It is so near so many beautiful areas, Lake Powell, Glen Canyon, Monument Valley, North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Grand Escalante, Capital Reef, The Wave, Antelope Canyon, and the Vermillion Cliffs.
Page itself looks to be a town dedicated to the outdoor lifestyle. You'll see lots of hikers, bikers, motorcyclists, travelers, etc. And there's a WalMart.
The people are generally nice, and on these trips you'll find that 99% of the people you meet are, but there is that 1%. This is the 1% that the Occupiers should schedule for summary execution...just because.

I neglected to bring a hat to wear when off the bike and everywhere I went the sun seemed to burn brighter and brighter.

I don't do sun well.
I needed a hat, some aspirin, and a couple of other things that Wally world would likely have. The Days Inn where I stayed was:
1-the nicest Days Inn I've ever visited--I had a private balcony.
2- It was across the highway from a WalMart.

I had 2 and 1/2 days in Page and on the first day I would do a big loop around the Vermillion Cliffs, 89 to Kanad to 89a and back to Page--A GREAT ride. But a hot and dry and sunny ride.

I pull into the WalMart and park, as other bikes have in the white cross hatched end on a row of cars
like this

As i am taking off my jacket a gentleman leaving the store comes up and starts talking to me about the bike, where I've been, where I am going, that sort of thing that any rider of these trips knows too well. It happens a lot, almost everyday. Riding like this is a natural conversation starter. No big deal except it's always a nice thing. You know that.

I go in, find everything I sought, including a hat, one of those big olive drab, sort of like a tennis hat with a jungle influence, tie on the bottom, hats, made in Pakistan (that war is good for something it seems), and promising that "one size fits most."
I try it on in the store and sure enough I am one of the great masses, for whom this hat fits.
I am most.

I walk back to my bike and I see a man in a car leaning out his window and taking a picture of Stella! Having just had the experience of chatting it up with a passer by, I think, incorrectly this guy is interested in my travel. I shout, "You want to take a picture of me next to the bike?" Big smile on my face.
This guy is anything but pleased to see me. He's angry. He is the Parking Lot Vigilante. The Self Proclaimed King of All Parking and the sole arbiter of what is and, more importantly, what is NOT a LEGAL PARKING PLACE.
That's you parked there?
Can't you see that you can't park there?
No. (And this really gets his creative juices flowing. A real candidate for arrogance management)
There's a sign right there!!!
No, there isn't.
That Handicap sign!
I look and the handisign says nothing about where I am parked and I left tons of room for a hospital strecther, an OR table, An ICU bed with invasive monitoring between where I am and the nearest vehicle.
Looking to defuse the situation, I say I'm sorry and "It doesn't matter anyway because I am leaving now."
Yeah, well, we see how smart you are when you get a $300 fine in the mail!
Every word this bitter old fart uttered was with a scowl. This guy had some real issues and he was taking it out at the WalMart parking lot. And I get to meet him...the 1%
As he drives away in the current rendition of a K car I see his plates.
Arizona "NOLUCK"
Yep, that was his license plate, NOLUCK. What a POS excuse for humanity, Welcome to Page. This guy did more to destroy my favorable impression of Page than anything else I encountered on this ride. In fact, thinking about it, I think
Mr NOLUCK was the single most rude and obnoxious individual I've met on any of my rides around the country. Ever. He wins. Hands down.

So, if any of my friends in Az run across NOLUCK, try to get him angry, or maybe extend him the ADVRider "salute."

So after, that encounter, and worried that I might get a $300 present in the mail, and not wishing to become again a fugitive from justice in Arizona--I think the statute of limitations probably applies to the incident in Two Guns, Arizona in 1969-I took a couple of pictures of my surroundings detailing other bikes parked egregiously illegal, according to NOLUCK, and then rode rode rode, with the lingering distaste of my tete a tete with the scummy piece of goat cheese, known as NOLUCK in Page Arizona.
Lake Powell drains into the Colorado River that snakes its way along the western edge of Page. There are nice viewing areas in Page of the Lake Powell Dam and the slice in the Earth the Colorado makes, hinting at the carving it will do farther south.

This is a subdivision in Page. The houses are adobe style. Not a bad view, you think? That is the direction of Monument valley.

The dam

The Lake

The Prickly Pears were abloom

And along US 89. I have "officially" gone to where I have been telling everyone I was headed, the area around the Vermillion Cliffs.
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Old 07-06-2012, 06:07 PM   #11
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I am enjoying your report.
2006 Suzuki DL650
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:08 PM   #12
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Great report. Am enjoying your commentary too. Pretty handy with that camera!

I rode through many of those spots a few years ago. I rode that KTM from Boston to Monterey to see MotoGP. I took the northern plains west. Basically hitting the Badlands, Wounded Knee, Black Hills, Yellowstone, Tetons, and into Twin Falls, then south and west through Nevada to take in Yosemite before rolling into Carmel. I left the bike a couple months in the Bay Area and flew back to ride her home through what AAA maps calls "Indian Country". I connected some of the tar with dirt roads suggested by another inmate. I even camped on the edge of the north rim at a remote spot called Toroweep.

The Dugway almost got me, though. I was blowin' south on top of that Mesa trying to make Mexican Hat before dark. The sun had set, but still light and I was cruising about 80, when I saw the first warning signs. Fortunately I snapped out of my zone in time to get woa'd up.

I didn't know about the Dugway. I couldn't believe my eyes when I stopped at the first switch to take a pic.

I've since been back a few times. In fact I keep a small dual sport in Arizona to explore with. My favorite town in those parts is Taos. I have a client who lives there so I visit when I can. In fact in Sep I'm going to ride to Dinosaur National Park and then trace the Pony Express route to Nevada. I bought the tracks for the route from Tony Huegel of

Great part of the world out there. I wish everybody could go see it aboard a motorcycle. Looking forward to your Hummer thing and return trip.

Straight ahead and faster -Bo Weaver 1970
"There I was..." -Griffin Niner Three Hotel
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Old 07-07-2012, 09:25 AM   #13
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Thanks for taking me along! Great writing like yours (and photography) really helps me get through my life. My wife has decided to take away my motorcycle. We have been married for 39 years and I guess she wanted to test the "for better or for worse". Thanks again for sharing.
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Old 07-07-2012, 09:40 AM   #14
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What a terrific Ride Report. Thanks for sharing, I am enjoying this so much. That part of the country is epic.

Your wife "took away" your motorcycle? Dude, seriously. That reminds me of the joke-

"My wife called me a pussy. That made me so mad, I almost said something!"
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Old 07-07-2012, 04:08 PM   #15
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I ride through Page, AZ on a regular basis.. Excited to run across Mr. "NOLUCK" and hopefully amp him up for some fun..
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