Donn and Deb Do Seattle to Moab

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by donnh, May 22, 2011.

  1. donnh

    donnh Been here awhile

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    Like most trips this one started out as something else, the TAT. After almost 5,000 mostly off road miles under Deby's belt as a new rider including 4,000 miles on a DR200 and then over 1,000 miles on a new G650X Country, I thought she might be ready for a challenge.

    Here is Deby at Death Valley:
    [​IMG]

    We live in Seattle where winters can be dark and dreary so we spent our evenings planning the TAT ride and reading ADV ride reports. It didn't take too long for us to realize her G650 and my V-Strom were not probably the ideal bikes for the trip. We decided to postpone the TAT and try it again on her DR200 and my DRZ400 some other time. In a round about way we came up with a plan to ride the 650s to Moab, explore the area and then allow two weeks for the ride back. I'm bringing TAT routes in case we want to test the waters by trying some of the Utah, Nevada or Oregon sections on the way back. I managed to block out 3 weeks from my schedule for the trip. We leave tomorrow. I decided to keep the route to Moab flexible to account for weather in the Northwest. I have my favorite back roads south that skirt our ring of fire volcano's Mt Ranier Mt St. Helen and Mt Hood but if the weather is wet I have the option of blasting on I-90 East over Snoqualmie Pass into the dry side of the state. Sure enough they are forecasting rain so East we will go.

    Here are the before pictures of our trusty,and clean, steeds:
    Deby's BMW G650 Xcountry
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    My V-Strom:
    [​IMG]

    Preparation
    It's been a wet spring so I've been spending way too much time reading ride reports. Danger. Now I know everything I've been doing wrong on all my previous trips. I've spent way too much money making mods found on the G650 forum, including a few of my own. V-Strom upgrades, GPS downloads and I spent a month gathering and putting together the ultimate tool kit that I hope I never use. I am bringing super-duper ultra light camping gear that I hope I do actually use and am bringing one luxury cotton item, a pair of blue jeans that I promise not to wear while riding. Both bikes are sporting new TKC80s that I hope I don't wear down too much before I hit gravel.

    You may ask why I'm leaving on a Monday? We are taking our son to the airport at 6:00 AM for his school trip to China. When we get home we will probably get on the bikes and go rain or shine (hmmm, I need to remember to oil that chain).

    Turns out it's a good thing I had the weekend because I spent the whole time packing and re-packing the bikes. Geesh, I've never been so organized on a trip. I wonder if it will really be any better than the time my son and I threw a bunch of stuff in backpacks and rode highway 50 from coast to coast. Sure we were cold, didn't have the right rain gear and weren't really prepared to camp like we thought but that trip seemed to turn out. Ok, this is different. I have a woman who is tough but is used to certain comforts and would probably like it if I actually remembered all the parts to the JetBoil so we can have coffee in the morning.

    I'm not sure our adventure will be as exciting as "Kim and Mikes Most Excellent Adventure" but you never know. I'm bring a camera, helmet cam, two GPSs, two cellphones, a SPOT tracker and a Netbook. Did I mention I'm over prepared for this trip? If all goes well my reports will be full of pretty pictures, endless blue sky, dry roads but not too much dust, no need for the tool kit, and happy posts. Heck, what could go wrong on such a carefully planned 3 week trip?

    Her is my SPOT Link:http://miniurl.com/trackdonn/In case you are wondering where I am. Oh - If I'm in the middle of nowhere in Nevada for more than a week look for flares. ::rofl

    D&D
    #1
  2. gobi1kenobi

    gobi1kenobi Adventurer

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    Santiam Canyon, OR
    Looks like you guys are going to have a blast. Looking forward to reading the ride report.:deal
    #2
  3. donnh

    donnh Been here awhile

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    After about 5 hours sleep and an early morning trip to the airport we were finally home and ready to leave at about 8:30 AM. The temperature was 44 degrees with low overcast and drizzle at the house. Perfect Seattle riding weather. Off we went with full rain gear and heated liners on high. I had my "rain" route programed in the GPS60CSx and were on our way. Within 45 minutes we were climbing Snoqualmie pass, a well worn path for us. At 2800 feet snow was lining the sides of the roads and the rain increased. My temperature gauge dipped into the blue "warning" zone for ice. The roads were just wet so we carried on at 70MPH. So far so good. As we descended the pass I decided I had enough of the interstate so we detoured onto Highway 10 east. I think Highway 10 is what the original I-90 was, I wonder if it went all the way to Chicago? This section of 10 is a nice twisty following the Yakima river. We passed more bicycle riders than cars, I wonder who was having more fun -us. Since we were off our GPS route I decided to hit the "recalculate" button - mistake. I never got the thing to route us correctly the rest of the day. Good thing this is a familiar route so I found my own way. Highway 10 connects to 97 and then to our favorite Canyon Road south to Yakima. We stopped before entering Canyon Road and I turned on my Helmet Cam and flipped it on for some video of the ride. Guess what, now I found out the memory card is corrupt and can't be read, hmm, did I hit the USB eject button? Anyhow, no video.

    We ended up in Heppner OR, population 1500, small. The only restaurant is a bar / burger joint where we met some locals. After the usual questions we found out they work for the forest service, nice, I told them about our planned route to Ukiah. Their response was "well the road aint closed but ain't heard of anyone making it through that road". He continued, "guess if you had a big 4X4 you might make it". We're on motorcycles I reminded him. "Well you might be able to ride in the ruts but your footpegs would be scraping". He then looked at my detailed forest road map and pointed a series of even smaller forest roads I could try. "This might be better but I'm not sure and there probably will be snow" he continued.

    Time to program a new route into the GPS tonight.

    Here's a few pictures - sorry no video....

    Ready to go
    [​IMG]


    Windmill farms are everywhere. I suppose that would explain the high wind across the roads.
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    Should we be here? Nice gravel roads...
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    Stay tuned for tomorrow. Reroute, weather, snow? Cold? Rain?

    D&D
    #3
  4. donnh

    donnh Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    If a motorcyclist is traveling in a southerly direction at 60mph in the rain and the crosswind is so strong that the rain drops on his visor are moving from right to left how fast is the wind blowing?

    But it's been a couple days since my last post (for good reason) so lets start with a couple of pictures:

    So far the camping gear is working out great - I've been warm and dry every night [​IMG]

    Our luxury hotel in Heppner, the only choice in town
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    Another shot
    [​IMG]

    Every motorcyclist knows the importance of keeping hydrated while on long trips so Deby and I dutifully keep our Camel backs full and carry extra water. The best way to keep them full is to fill them once in a while. In Heppner these signs were everywhere so - hmmm I'm not taking any chances.

    [​IMG]

    We woke up Tuesday morning to clear sky's and 48 degrees, a promising start to the day. After fueling our bikes with the last premium they would see for two days and our selves with caffeine we headed south on highway 207. Within 50 miles we were climbing over 5000 feet to cross an unnamed pass in the Umatilla National Forest. As it cooled off we were glad for Mr. Gerbing's heated clothing - ha, laugh at the cold!

    About noon we stopped at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument visitor center. Anybody who knows Deby knows she loves her rocks, I try to stop her but on every trip she manages to return with enough rocks for a new rock garden in the yard. If she could somehow add a fossil to her collection that would be better than gold. I didn't even hesitate, just pulled right in and prepared for a long stay. Actually it was pretty interesting, evidently this remote location is one of the best places for fossils in the US. Dinosaurs and all kind of mammals were entombed here after multiple volcano eruptions, floods and other geological mayhem. There were bones of dozens of prehistoric animals I've never heard of .

    The park ranger behind the desk didn't seem to have much to do so I asked about roads. "Any shortcuts towards Mount Vernon?" I asked. "Just the highway" she replied. "You mean there is nowhere to get closer to the fossil beds?" I kept pressing. "Well, not unless you want to travel on some back country gravel roads". Ok, now we are getting somewhere. "Really?, like what?". "Well I think there is a road that might be open but I'm not sure I should send you that way". In the ensuing discussion we ended up talking about the recent news stories of the couple in the van that were stuck in mud on a forest road in nearby Nevada. The husband went for help and was never seen again. The woman lived on melted snow and trail mix until hunters found her after almost 3 months. It turned out the last place they were seen before they went missing was at this very visitor center.

    I coaxed directions out of her which involved forest road 38, Dick's Creek road, somebody else's Creak Road and somehow they connected at a 5200 foot summit. I checked my GPS and map and the roads seemed to be on there so off we went.

    Deby on Dick's Creek Road. Check out the red layers in the background where fossils were found.
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    Fork in the road, no signs, nothing. A common occurrence on forest roads - always have detailed maps and a GPS.
    [​IMG]

    Who would leave this gem behind?
    [​IMG]

    More to come.
    #4
  5. donnh

    donnh Been here awhile

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    The "shortcut" gravel roads were a blast. It was our first off road test of the fully loaded bikes. While I really tried to keep the weight of our gear down and somewhat balanced the V-Strom was most definitely back heavy. One section was a steep rocky incline and my front wheel really wanted to jump into the air which, of course, makes steering more challenging. Standing on the pegs and leaning forward mostly solved the problem. Granted, the V-Strom is too big for real serious single track but I've had it on some pretty rough terrain and always managed. This time I could really feel the extra weight, note to self: stay off the tough stuff while packing a full load. Deby reported the same lightness on the front wheel. Her bike has a low CG with the gas under the seat and her saddle bags are forward of the rear axle. Only her spare gallon of gas is towards the rear. She followed my lead and got up on the pegs and did fine. There were some loose gravel sections causing the steering to feel pretty "squirrelly". I'm not sure of it was any worse than usual or the fact that it was the first ride of the year and I am just getting back into the feel of riding like I'm on a snowmobile.

    Easy bridge crossing
    [​IMG]


    We got to Mount Vernon around 2:00 and were ready for lunch. The first restaurant we came to had a bunch of Goldwings parked out front so we parked our mountainous dual sports next to the chrome and went in.

    Of course, we ended up sitting next to them and swapping stories of the road, road conditions, lies and exaggerations. They were on a tour of all the cities in Oregon that started with the letter "A". It was a competition to have their pictures at each city and, I suppose, there is some prize to the group with the most cities. A nice group (You meet the nicest people on a Honda?) mostly retired age we figured, two women, one rode a Shadow the other was a passenger. Deby's 120 mile range before using the extra fuel requires that we carefully manage fuel stops. They came from the south and helped us by marking on my map which cities had fuel, not many as it turns out.

    They mentioned in particular Seneca, a town of 850 people about an hour away. There was a single gas pump there, regular, and a lodge called Bearcat Lodge. The proprietor was a biker "who seems to like dual sport motorcycles". They went on to tell stories that only bikers could stay at his lodge and there was no charge, you leave behind what you thought the stay was worth. They seemed puzzled about the whole thing and got the impression that people on Goldwings were maybe not as welcome. It got my attention but we would be going through the booming metropolis of Seneca in only an hour and it was too early to stop.

    We decided to top off Deby's tank at the only station in Seneca, so we each fit a gallon of what was probably really crummy gas into our tanks. While we were filling up I looked over and saw a KTM 990 Adventure bike parked next to the road next door. It was fully farkeled and I could tell a serious rider owned it. Duh, this must be the place they were telling me about. We pulled the bikes away from the pumps and I wandered towards the bike. No one was around as I checked out the bike and then walked up the stairs to the lodge. I tried the door and it was open so I walked in to what looked like a big living room with a big screen TV, table and - a stage with a guitar? There was a guy watching TV who turned when I announced "I'm told this is somewhere a biker should know about". He wouldn't have heard us pull up since we were parked at the gas station but I'm sure the Kilimanjaro jacket and Alpinstar boots tipped him off that I was one of his people. That's when I met JW Everitt, a legend of sorts I was to learn.

    "Do you like tequila?" he asked as he led us to the upstairs bar. Well, of course I do but it was still early, about 4:00, and I wanted to get some more riding in. "We make our own here, come on, try just a little". A Frank Zappa song ran through my mind, "Well I was born to have adventure, so I just wandered up the steps....". Needless to say it was the best tequila I ever had and one led to two, led to three and by then I suspected we would be spending the night. "Well, you could ride south but the deer are out and you would certainly die", he said. Well, maybe that wasn't exactly what he said but something like that. That sealed it.

    "Want to try the KTM?" he asked. Hmmm, normally I would have thought about my answer for about 0.5 seconds but after the tequila it took me a whole second to reply sure!

    Donn on KTM
    [​IMG]

    Wow, what a bike. My first time riding with a recluse(sp) clutch, I want one.

    We started out talking about motorcycles, of course. He owns dozens, of all vintages including custom Harleys, Nortons, KTMs and what not. He had a picture on the wall of one of his Harleys featured in Easy Rider magazine. Something about the art of motorcycles and bikini babes that is true creativity.

    It didn't take long for the conversation to turn to music. He showed me his studio in the lodge and played some songs. Obviously an accomplished guitar player. It turns out he knew many of the musicians I've played with in Seattle, small world.

    I must be careful here, I could write pages and pages about the stories and exploits he shared with us but I do have a ride to go on.....

    This was only day three of the trip and this stay could very well be the highlight of the trip. JW and Carol were the ultimate hosts feeding us dinner, breakfast, drinks and regaling us with hours and hours of stories. Carol works mining gem stones which was of no end of interest to Deby. The lodge is at one of the crossroads of the OBDR and attracts many adventure riders. JW leads tours and rents motorcycles.

    Here is an excerpt from his web site:
    BEARCAT LODGE
    Nestled in the Bear Valley at the foot of the Strawberry and Aldrich Mountains is one of Oregon’s true four-season resorts. Built in 1939 by the Edward Hines Lumber Company as a boarding house to accommodate Hines’ bachelor loggers, the newly remodeled BearCat Lodge features amenities not commonly found in remote eastern Oregon.




    Here is the link to the lodge: http://www.bearcatlodge.com/

    Backside of the lodge gives the ideal of how big is was. We were the only guests that night.
    [​IMG]

    Main room stage
    [​IMG]

    Next - Wind and Rain
    #5
  6. Craig McCurdy

    Craig McCurdy BIGMAC

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    Sounds like fun, we are looking forward to the next up date & photo's! :lurk Craig & CrashClay
    #6
  7. donnh

    donnh Been here awhile

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    Time to catch up a little. We woke up at the lodge and traded more war stories, mostly about music. A very long time ago I spent 4 years as a road musician, as he did, that led to endless tales, mostly true. When it degenerated to the story of travelling to a gig in Texas and running out of gas on the Norton's and siphoning from the truck using the voice box tube (Jeff? You reading this??) I realized it was time to go. By this time we were overly caffeinated and it was 10:30 and starting to rain. I checked the weather on my iPhone and problem, a big cold front was coming in from the West heading right for us. There was a severe weather warning for high winds, perfect. We said our goodbyes and left.

    He climbed in elevation on twisty 395 to over 5000 ft in on and off rain. The next "big" city was Burns, which had a gas pump.

    Typical gas stop
    [​IMG]


    We headed south of Burns on secondary route 205 past Malheur Lake and Malheur National Refuge. Big clouds on the right heading towards us. We were hauling to get ahead of the approaching storm. JW from the lodge insisted we stop at the city of Fields to get an ice cream shake. We stopped to get gas, regular only, and downed a shake. It was good but not really the best idea when riding motorcycles in 50 degree weather. We were finishing our shake when the wind hit the restaurant. Everyone was looking out the windows in awe of the blowing debris. Seemed like a good time to leave.

    We headed south on 205 and all hell broke loose. Rain, wind, blowing debris and general madness. I almost pulled over a few times but where? There wasn't a tree for miles. I started making mental notes of the mileage as we passed ranches in case I needed to make a dash for help should one of us crash. We crossed into Nevada but the storm knew no boarders and continued to pound us. Seriously, I was going 60 and the rain was being blown horizontally across my face shield. We were leaning into the cross wind at what seemed like a 45 degree angle. Finally we came to a spot where highway 140 curves to the East and our cross wind became more or less a tail wind. Time to pick up the pace.

    Obviously not much opportunity for picture taking but I took this one at a way side. We parked on the leeward side of the outhouse for a short respite from the wind. Check out the storm chasing us.

    [​IMG]

    About 10 mile out of Winnemucca, our stop for the night the road turned South and we were back in the wind. How bad could 10 miles be? The longest ever. This time the rain started coming down, the road was wet and slippery, the wind was worse than ever and to add insult to injury about 5 miles out of town we hit a sandstorm! My helmet is pretty waterproof but for some reason the sand came right in. Since the sand was wet it swirled inside both our helmets coating the inside of our visors. It didn't really matter because the sand storm was blinding and we were forced to slow down to keep from blindly crashing. The wet and sand and wind was causing my front tire to skip to the left. I decided to slow down.

    We made it to Winnemucca, headed straight to the bar at the nearby casino. Whew.

    Deby making a fashion statement in Fields NV
    [​IMG]

    There was as much sand/rain muck on the inside of the windshield as the outside.
    [​IMG]

    Next post - Winnemucca to Ely NV. A much nicer ride.
    #7
  8. donnh

    donnh Been here awhile

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    The ride started with a short jaunt East on Highway 80 then south on 305 to Austin, NV and the junction with the Loneliest Highway, Highway 50. There was still a crosswind as we headed south but the sun was out and the roads were dry. Maybe we were getting used to the ride and the wind and found ourselves keeping a 75 to 80 MPH pace. It was still cool and we stayed above 5000 feet for most of the ride.

    Here is the view from our I-80 exit looking towards the north, fluffy cumulus meaning calm weather
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    The view looking south. Lenticular clouds, typical of high winds. Guess which direction we're going....
    [​IMG]

    South towards Austin
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    Loneliest Highway 50 through Austin NV.
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    Hickison Petroglyphs
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    [​IMG]

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    Camping in Ely NV.
    [​IMG]

    That catches us up to present time. Tomorrow Moab and the start of the holiday weekend with day trips on lighter bikes.
    #8
  9. Craig McCurdy

    Craig McCurdy BIGMAC

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    Well, you have two fans following your trip! It's still raining here in Hood River, OR. so enjoy the sun... :clap We'll just have to settle for photo's of sun... :cry
    #9
  10. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper

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    Nice trip.
    #10
  11. fastcat

    fastcat fastcat

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    bearcat lodge.com
    You guy's paid a price to get to the sunshine. I hope all is going well and your having a GREAT time. Just so you know the weather up here in the great white north has not improved since you left. Pellet or corn snow for the last two days.
    So much for a nice memorial day weekend. Live it up in the sunshine and call before you head back for a weather update......you may want to extend your trip thru june. Have fun, from all the kool katz at the lodge.
    #11
  12. donnh

    donnh Been here awhile

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    Just got in from a fun day of riding paved and unpaved sections of Moab. Tomorrow the story of Pucker Pass! Search for it on YouTube if you can't wait.
    Donn and Deb
    #12
  13. Nacho911

    Nacho911 Been here awhile

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    One of our friends is in LA right now he's been poking around Death Valley area and posting pics on Facebook. Looks like a lot of fun. We've just melted the last of our Snow from last weeks storm. We had 12cm.:cry Rain and more rain. Had the F800GS out only a dozen times this year for short rides. Hope the weather changes soon. Making plans for the Oregon coast to Cali maybe for July. I can hardly wait!
    Have a great trip, ride safe!
    #13
  14. Signal

    Signal Cynical Idealist

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    This good thing is gonna get a whole lot better :deal




    :lurk
    #14
  15. donnh

    donnh Been here awhile

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    We spent the night at a Ramada/Casino in Ely. Our criteria for picking hotels is one that is within walking distance of food and drink. After a day riding it always feels good just to walk somewhere. We thought about camping but the forecast called for a low of 33 degrees, yuck. The casino part of the hotel was out of no smoking rooms so they sent us across the street to what I figured out was the no smoking part of the hotel. It was actually a lot nicer with no smoky casino feel.

    "Camping" at the Ramada in Ely
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    Closeup of the V-Strom
    [​IMG]






    The downside was that the free breakfast in the morning was across a major 4 lane road with no crosswalk. Since the first thing I do in the morning is get coffee for little miss can't do anything without caffeine I had to run across the road for two cups. The breakfast bar had the smallest Styrofoam cups and no lids. With both cups dripping hot coffee on my hands I scrambled across the street and delivered 3/4 full cups. With the smallest amount of caffeine in our systems we packed up and were on the road by 8:00 AM a new thing. Good thing because we were about to loose an hour as we headed East.

    Continuing East on Highway 50 the road was a series of climbing over 7000 foot passes and then down across long straight valleys.

    Here is an elevation profile of the route from Ely to Moab
    [​IMG]



    As we neared the Utah boarder we came to a sign that said Great Basin National Park 10 miles to the right. I never heard of that and it was early in the day so we took the detour. We were the only people in the visitor center so we started chatting up the bored looking park ranger woman. Somehow, like it often does with Deby, the subject turned to gems and minerals. The ranger told us if we were heading East to be sure to stop at Sunstone Knoll, a place over the boarder in Utah where, as the name implies, Sunstones are found. According to the ranger "They're all over the place, you can see them glistening along the road. That was the end of our visit to the visitor center, the displays, the self guided tour, the cave tour, Deby was on her bike ready to go before I could look at the route on the map. It was about 100 miles away and nothing was going to stop us even her 120 mile range on the G650XC.

    Boarder crossing into Utah. Fortunately a fuel stop was there
    [​IMG]

    On the way to Sunstone Knoll we passed Sevier Lake which actually had a fair amount of water due to the wet spring and recent rains. We rode out a little but realized the weighted down bikes were sinking pretty fast so we turned around once I almost got stuck.

    Deby at Seiver Lake Utah
    [​IMG]

    Typical valley on Highway 50
    [​IMG]

    The top secret way to get to Sunstone Knoll is to turn South on highway 287 out of Hinckley and go about 15 miles. Cross the tracks on a gravel road and you are there. We stopped at what appeared to be a parking area and sure enough the ground was sparkling all around us, wow, Sunstones were everywhere! Well almost. Upon closer inspection we must have parked at the local party spot for Hinckley teens and we were surrounded by broken glass. We saw some other treasure hunters a little further down the road and up a hill so we carefully rode closer to them assuming they knew where the precious stones were.

    Sunstone Knoll
    [​IMG]

    We spent at least an hour searching for the elusive Sunstone gems. You find them by looking for a sparkle reflection from the sun and then follow it to the stone. Hmmm, maybe that's why they call it Sunstone? I found the first one which ended up being the biggest all day, the rest were pretty small, like ibuprofen size or smaller. All in all we ended up with 10 or 20 small samples and decided it would be better to have some basic tools, like a hammer, to get the best rocks so we moved on.

    We gassed up and had lunch in Hinckley where we chatted with another V-Strom rider. He was going from southern CA to Salt Lake City. He was on an 1100 and had a 2.5 gallon red gas can strapped to the back of his bike. He was travelling on all paved roads so it seemed odd to me, but oh-well. Nice guy.

    At this point Highway 50 jogs around the Canyon Mountains to the South and picks up I-15 North for about 10 miles before veering south to Salina UT where it picks up I-70. Ordinarily I'm not a big interstate fan but I've been this way a few times and it's one of my favorite roads through the Rafael Swell area. There are many view point stops but here are some pictures from one of my favorites.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    Continuing east on Hwy50/I-70 the road drops into the city of Green River.

    Zoom in to read about what it took to build this road through the canyons of the San Rafael Reef
    [​IMG]

    I-70 East to Green River. Look where the road goes through the Reef, at on point "only a mule" could get through there.

    [​IMG]

    We got gas in Green River, next stop Moab. We were glad to get off the interstate dodging the truckers and off on 191 south. The wind out of the West which had mostly been a tail wind was once again a crosswind. Still not as bad as Oregon but pretty strong. We must be getting used to it by now but it helps that its warm, sunny and dry. We arrived at the LaQuinta about 7:00 PM after 425 miles for the day, the longest one so far. The GPS said 6hr 51min moving time and 3hr 50min stopped, average speed 62mph, max 83.7mp - must have been Deby passing that truck on the way to Sunstone
    Knoll.

    We parked by the front door and including Deby there were 5 BMWs and my V-Strom. We talked for a while with one of the beemer guys and he also noticed I was the only non-BMW person. I guess Suzuki riders are at the Motel-6 I told him.

    Tomorrow: Canyonlands NP and Pucker Pass.

    D&D
    #15
  16. donnh

    donnh Been here awhile

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    Moab Day 1

    Where to go? This place is crazy, it's a holiday weekend, every hotel is full and there are street bikes, dirt bikes, jeeps and quads everywhere we look on the street and parking lots and strangely only a few dual sports hmmm.

    One of the problems here is that there are maybe too many places to ride. Some are just hiking trails with no bikes allowed, mountain bike trails, 4X4 Jeep trails, quad trails and somewhere, I assume, are the motorcycle trails. We thought we would make day 1 a familiarization day with a simple ride to Canyonlands National Park. We stopped at the visitors center in town where the overworked host recommended Highway 313 towards Canyonlands and then back on Gemini Bridges trail. In checking the map I noticed we would be near Dead Horse Point State Park, most famous for the place where Thelma and Louise drove their car off the cliff. We rode there on a nice windy paved road paid $5 to enter the park and looked at the viewpoint.

    So I suppose this ride report so far could be in some kind of Harley forum since almost all of the roads up to now could have been ridden on a bagger. Up to now that is. All the pavement was wearing a nice flat spot on my by now, almost new, TKC80s. I've been trying to keep them round by leaning into fast corners but mindful of the less experienced rider behind me on her BMW. As it turns out, no matter how fast I took a turn she was right behind me. Obviously her skill was improving and quite possibly her bike handled better in the twisties.

    I pulled out my trusty park map from the visitor center itchy for a more challenging road. I digress here because I have Moab, maps, books, ATV books, National Geographic maps, GPS tracks, GPS routes and more and for some reason I decide to plan my first off road excursion using a cheap map from the park ranger. Check out the picture of the map below and look at Long Canyon outside of Dead Horsepoint State Park.
    [​IMG]

    Did you notice where it said Pucker Pass? Neither did I.

    (I must put a technology disclaimer in here. My Contour helmet cam seems officially dead which is really too bad because this would have been the best place to use it. For some reason my computer will not read the MicroSDHC card after it's been in the computer. I get an error message that says "Card must be formatted", when I try to format it I get an error "cannot complete format". I bought two new SDHC cards and I couldn't read them either. I took my reader and cards to a local computer shop and he couldn't read them either. Hmmm, camera? Card reader? Computer? If anyone has an idea let me know.)

    Oh, and when we got to Dead Horsepoint Park I noticed my camera battery was about dead..... geeh, so a sorry lack of pictures follows. Fortunately there are many good pictures and videos of Pucker Pass online.

    We cut off on the dirt road towards the pass. It was easy enough mostly packed red dirt with some ruts and sections of Moab slickrock.

    Check out this YouTube video of pucker pass, the narrative pretty much sums it up. We slid and slided the bikes down this very steep section of loose powder. Very slippery on the big bikes, I'm glad we were going down because I'm pretty sure the old Strom would not have made it up on the loose stuff.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6F44bx6WIt4

    See the road below? That is where we were heading
    [​IMG]


    Next: Getting blown off the road.
    #16
  17. Signal

    Signal Cynical Idealist

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    8,715
    Location:
    Utah
    Yup-- :lol3


    Pucker pass sucks on a big bike.
    On a smaller/rental it still sucks. :rofl
    #17
  18. donnh

    donnh Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    274
    Location:
    Near Seattle
    Sounds like you did that. I'm glad I was going downhill, I'm not sure I would have made it up.

    Have you ridden here much?
    #18
  19. donnh

    donnh Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    274
    Location:
    Near Seattle
    Ummm, just checked your link.... I guess so.
    #19
  20. donnh

    donnh Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    274
    Location:
    Near Seattle
    After making it through Pucker Pass the rest of Long Canyon road was a fun and somewhat challenging downhill, rocky Jeep trail with frequent switchbacks. We passed a few 4X4s on their way up. I was wondering if some of the stock Suburban's would make it over the pass. I'll never know. After a couple of miles we reached the paved section of Potash road which runs along the Colorado river. After about a mile the road turns to gravel and heads West towards Canyonlands National Park.

    Picture of Potash Road
    [​IMG]

    It was along this stretch that the wind started picking up. The problem with riding in canyons is the unpredictability of the gusts. It can be calm on second and then - Blast - a strong cross wind.

    That's what hit me as I was on a uphill section following an easy left hand bend in the road. The sudden gust from the left almost knocked me over. I managed to stay upright but veered dangerously close to the edge of the road. Of course, off the edge of the road was the downhill side of the road. Steering left I managed to keep the front tire on the main gravel part of the road but the back tire spun to the right over a small berm of what looked like pea gravel. I stopped in that position, probably hung up on the skid plate (Yes, V-Stroms really do have clearance issues).

    The hill was steep enough that Deby couldn't stop so she parked at the top and ran back down to assist. I was more worried that the Jeep I blasted past a mile ago would have to winch me out which would be totally embarrassing. My instant instinct was to rev it up and burn my way out, which I tried for a second before I realized I was just digging a big hole behind me. Deby was still walking down the hill when I decided to sit and think about being stuck for a minute and make a plan.

    No amount of human force was going to lug this big pig of a bike out of the hole, uphill over the berm of pea gravel. I looked around for plan B. To the right of the berm the ground sloped down but was lightly covered with gravel and had solid rock under it, probably I could ride on that. That same terrain paralleled the road uphill to a spot where there was a low spot in the berm. It looked like a plan.

    Gravity is a helpful friend. I turned my front wheel to allow the bike to roll backward and totally off the berm. Deby was still walking down the hill and looked pretty surprised that I was getting myself further off the road. I pointed myself parallel to the road and despite the what now seemed even steeper uphill grade I slipped a bunch of clutch and picked up as much speed as I could. On the pegs I swung to the right a little and then a hard left to tackle the berm at it's weakest point. I blasted through just as Deby made it down to me. "Are you ok?" she asked. I looked at her like this was an everyday occurrence and said "just a gust of wind".

    Did I mention the battery was dead in the camera? Actually the warning light was on so I probably had a few pictures left but didn't really feel like documenting the event.

    Stop along Potash Road
    [​IMG]

    Potash road continues to the junction of White Rim Road and Shafer Trail road. One of our original plans (for another day) was to ride White Rim Road which is about a 100 mile loop but we were told flooding on the Green River had the road under about 5 feet of water. At the junction we met a couple riding two up on a Triumph Tiger. Very impressive I thought, big bike, same TKC80s as I had but riding with a passenger. We chatted for a bit and he reminded me about the road closure and that the only way out was up Shafer Trail Road. I assumed that he had come down that way so I thought, how hard can that be. I found out later that they actually came in the way we did and were just turning around to go back.

    As it turns out Shafer Switchbacks are somewhat famous and there are a number of YouTube videos. Here is a short one that shows some motorcycles climbing out of the canyon: http://youtu.be/VuelpsFDOQU

    It was slow going with some really tight switchbacks on loose dirt/gravel. The only way to make the corner was to slow down enough to turn but slip a lot of clutch to maintain upward momentum. I had no way to communicate this technique to Deby behind me but she somehow figured it out and kept up pretty well.

    Finally at the top we rode the short distance to the Island in the Sky Visitor Center and parked the dirty bikes next to all the really shiny Harley's ridden by really clean people. We looked like a couple of sweaty scruffy dogs in our adventure riding gear. The Harley group generally ignored us as they walked past.

    We stayed on pavement the rest of the day and explored Canyonlands Park and some really great twisty roads towards the Grand View Point Overlook. Had to pass a few Harley's to fully enjoy the twisties. Deby was right behind be as we swept the turns, her signal to me that the pace is just right.

    An almost perfect day: 130 miles, Moving Average 32.4mph.

    Tomorrow - A day of rest.
    #20