Grand Canyon Loop; 2-Up

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by laramie LC4, May 28, 2013.

  1. laramie LC4

    laramie LC4 crash test dummy!

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,604
    Location:
    Tucson, Az
    day 2

    this was the day we will jokingly call, "the epic fail."

    i awoke at 4 am and was ready to get moving. my girl was still shivering and i could tell that we weren't as prepared as we should have been. i covered her with my -20 degree bag and went outside to make a plan. i figured the temps would still be high enough that we would have no problems with her less than expensive sleeping bag. i was wrong. i was also wrong about not needing any pillows, wtf was i thinking? while i waited for her to get a little more rest, i made some instant coffee and started to make a plan for the day. we had a few issues, 1) we needed some more items, if it was this cold at this elevation it was going to be bone chilling on the north rim at 9,000 plus. 2) due to our longer than expected ride the day before, we were going to run short on fuel.

    the original plan was to do another 200+ day of off-road up to to the south rim. i knew there was no way that was going to happen. we were only 40 miles east of payson and i thougt our best bet was to head straight to town, then work our way north to flagstaff to get some supplies. this seemed like the best bet and would still give us plenty of time to enjoy the south rim. bad news was it would be all highway for the day.

    after the my girl woke up and we had a less than wonderful freeze dried breakfast (eggs don't work freeze dried) we packed up and rolled out of camp at 6:30 am and headed straight for payson.

    my early morning breakfast nook...

    [​IMG]


    no sooner than we hit hwy 260, i got a low fuel light. i figured we would make it, but i did not like the fact that i had to worry. fortunately is was a nice ride, no traffic, and we rolled into town without issues. we also had cell service so i was able to let the boss know we were still in once piece and hadn't been eaten by bears during the night.

    once we got fuel we started to head north on hwy 87 which turned out to be an awesome ride. nice, cool mountain air with lot's of big trees. some nice twists and turns but nothing too crazy. we also started to use our headphones and listened to tunes the whole way. i can't tell you how much this made the miles easier to do. plus, i must say, my daughter was raised right and has impeccable taste in music. i had never bothered with music while riding before but now i'm sold, especially for the long hauls. we used 1 i-pod touch with a 2-way splitter and she controlled the volume and the playlist from behind.

    about 40 miles north of payson we turned off onto Lake Mary Rd (Forest Road 3) and made our way to flagstaff. this was another very nice, 2 lane highway with awesome views everywhere. trees, deer, you name it. being from the mountains of wyoming but living in the dez of tucson the last 10 years i really enjoyed the change in scenery. felt like i was back home.

    our original plan had taken us past mormon lake for a gas stop, with the altered plan we ended up coming around the east side of the lake instead. not what i was expecting for a "lake" but still very nice and scenic. a few miles later and we were entering flagstaff.

    as luck would have it we came in on the first exit and found a wal-mart right in front of us. we quickly ran in and bought 2 camp pillows, 1 thick sweatshirt for the kid, and new lighters. somehow between using it twice that morning to light my stove, the one i had died. i had to rig it up and just use sparks to light the fire for breakfast.

    after that we decided what we really needed was a real breakfast and and some coffee. as luck would have it once again, an IHOP was just across the street. i'm sure we looked like a ragged pair but it was nice to sit on a soft seat and have some real eggs. the waitress was quite excited to hear about our plans.

    the next stretch was I-40 to Williams. from there we would turn north to the south rim. it was about a 40 miles stretch but went quickly. it sure is nice having a fast bike on the interstate. once we hit williams we headed north on hwy 64 and got gas.

    my plan was to arrive on a monday in hopes of avoiding a bunch of tourist traffic. if this was a light day, i'd hate to see a busy one. once again though, the bike was cruising, we had our tunes, and just hauled ass up north. i was doing 85-90 most of the way and was barely staying ahead of people, gotta love indian land!

    before you know it we were at he south gate and formed up in line to pay our fee. i had figured that all "organized" camp grounds would be full but swear i had read that "dispersed" camping was a $15 fee and you could go just about anywhere. well i was wrong. NO CAMPING what so ever within the national park boundaries, unless in one of their sites. the ranger told us that we could go back and camp anywhere on the national forest for free so long as we were 1/2 mile off the road. well, we didn't want to go back and figured instead we would see the sites, then head out the east gate and onto the nation forest on that side and find a site. or so we thought...

    despite all the issues so far, we were looking forward to the canyon. we pulled into the parking lot (which was full) and had to hunt to spot to park. i was worried that leaving all our stuff on the bike might make it too easy for someone to come and steal our stuff, but at this point it was either carry it all or trust in humanity. we chose to roll the dice. thankfully no once messed with our stuff.

    it was still before noon but the temps were almost 100. i did bring my camelback and we were sucking down water as fast as we could. it had been almost 20 yrs since my last trip to the south rim and boy things had changed. much more regulated, controlled, and limited in the areas that you could go. oh well, im not one for walking out on ledges anyways...but what a view!

    [​IMG]

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    we walked to all the over look sites on the south rim and decided we had better get back to business if we were going to find a camp site for the night. it was now 2:30, the temps were only going up, and we had no idea were we would end up. we stopped in the shops and filled both our camelback bladders to the fullest and headed out.

    as we worked our way east, we stopped and checked at every camp site but all were full so we continued on. we figured that the park exit was only a few miles and we would have no problem finding a site.

    as we rolled out the east exit the terrain took on a different look. lot's of rocks, fewer trees, and very few turn offs to go explore for a site. before you knew it, we were out in the flats with no trees. this was now navajo land and the last thing i wanted to do was pitch a tent on someone else's land. there were plenty of nice looking spots along the edge of the canyon but once again no trees for shade and no idea if the locals would come knocking late at night. we pulled to the side of the road and had a pow-wow about what we should do. so far the day had gone nothing like planned and we were tired, hot, and not in the mood. to mu kids credit, she was holding her own and said she was up for what ever, let's just make it happen.

    we decided we should jump back on the road and head east. at worst we would pull into tuba, az and find a hotel. thankfully a few miles later we saw an awesome, welcoming road sign that said, "cool, nice, hotel rooms, 20 miles ahead in cameron, az." we looked at each other, gave a nod, and i twisted the throttle.

    we rolled into cameron and crossed our fingers that a room was available. as luck would have it they had 1 left. we snagged it and went inside for a shower and a soft bed. i don't know i i was more happy about the soft bed or the fact that i could have a cold beer? turns out, they dont sell beer on the navajo reservation. the hostess was nice enough to inform me though that just 7 miles up the road, they did. don't think i need to tell you what i did next.... :1drink

    and that is how our epic day 2 ended. us in a hotel, me drinking beer, and happy to be clean and in a soft bed.

    the bridge at cameron, az

    [​IMG]

    more to come tomorrow...

    laters,

    laramie :beer
    #21
  2. KingAz

    KingAz n00b

    Joined:
    May 12, 2013
    Oddometer:
    2
    :lurk Hope there is an update soon.
    #22
  3. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
    Oddometer:
    3,094
    Location:
    Corral de Tierra CA, Ketchum ID
    Nice father daughter trip.
    #23
  4. laramie LC4

    laramie LC4 crash test dummy!

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,604
    Location:
    Tucson, Az
    sorry for the delay guys, life get's in the way...

    anyways, DAY 3...


    day 3 started with us in Cameron AZ and a plan to move north across the canyon and then turn west to the north rim. after our issues with camping the day before we had some hesitation at the beginning of the day as to where our 3 night camp would be made. i was worried that we would not find anything on the north rim park side and should maybe push onto Fredonia AZ and head south to canyon from there. i spoke to a Bud of mine (his name as well :D) and he told me about a place he had camped when he did his G.C. loop. it was a place called Teroweep and was supposedly right off the edge of the canyon. catch was it would take 60 miles of off-road (dirt) that i had not GPS'ed, and i had no idea about conditions of. with the issues we had with camping and the let down from the night before, we wanted a camp sight right on the canyon and this sounded like our best bet. so that was the plan....

    we packed up and rolled out of Cameron AZ at 6 am and headed for Lee's Ferry Crossing. this is the only place to cross the canyon other than the Hoover damn. it sits on the east edge of the canyon and is accesses from Cameron by Navajo Res. land the whole way. traffic was light and we cruised, 80-85 was no problem and no one seemed to care.

    the land became less bleak and more beautiful the farther we went.

    [​IMG]

    great, pretty smooth, 2-lane road. just about perfect road if one has been forced to ride blacktop. then you hit the crossing....

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    the colors are amazing as well as the topography. standing on the bridge and looking down definitely gives you a tickle.

    after this the plan was to blitz ahead to Fredonia for gas, then south to Teroweep. We had fueled first thing in the morning and weren't worried about gas being an issue today.

    as we worked the highway west we started to climb up out of the flat land of the canyon. i was still following my day3 GP route and things were cruising along. we had our music, the weather was perfect, and we were hauling arse. Hwy 89 out of Lee's crossing was beautiful and you start to climb in elevation and watch the terrain once again change. next thing you know you are in a conifer forest and your watching the temp gauge on your bike fall by 15 degrees. as you continue on, there are only 2 options, 1) right to Fredonia on Hwy 89, or 2) south on Hwy 67 to the south rim.

    our plan was to follow Hwy 89 on and to Fredonia, but like i said before, i was happy and trucking along following my day 3 route. as we approached the 89/67 junction i knew which way i need to go, but my GPS was telling me the other way. i promptly turned around and blindly followed my route. :1drink

    once again the roads were beautiful, surrounded by tall, green, evergreen trees, something we don;t see in Tucson much. it really felt like i was back in Wyoming. the miles were flying by and temps couldn't be better.

    after several miles a funny feeling started to tingle in the back of my brain. something told me we weren't right. then i saw it, the North Rim gas station. the only place i had found in my searches to provide the fuel for a run down the north rim. as soon as i saw it i knew i had turned the wrong way and were now in a spot. i had gone 30 miles out of my way and was now going to have to buy gas. i passed the station and turned off on the next dirt road exit. i rode up a ways and stop to talk to the kid and admit my mistakes. as we stopped and i climbed off the bike, my nose instantly smelled something not well. it had caught a hint of it the last stop but this time it was undeniable, something was really hot! :eek1

    i started looking around quickly and my eyes locked on the back tire. i started the ride with a 50% spent perelli mt-90. i put 30 PSI in the tire and assumed that was good. turns out it need 40. oops. i had spent my back tire, it was almost bald and smelled like a hot rubber factory. guess all that 90 MPH down the road fully loaded took it's toll. now we had and issue...

    issue 1) I still had to track back my 30 miles, make it to Fredonia, then down 60 miles of dirt road, then back, then to St' George on this tire. i could have kicked myself!

    after a quick chat with the kid, we decided the best plan was to go back to the station, get some gas (luckily i brought octane boost, they only had old 89) and then ask for some guidance.

    we pulled up to the station (North Rim Country Store) and were promptly greeted by the owners. they asked if we needed gas and how we wanted to pay, we then explained our predicament and they offer a map and advice one we were done fueling. turns out, if you go just a touch farther south and turn off on FSR-611, there are lot's of free camp sites with a view of the canyon. hey, we were saved and had the option of not doing 60 miles both ways, and still getting what we wanted, a camp site over looking the canyon. plus this will save the tire and make it a lot easier to cruise into grandmas house north of St. George. went outside and tried to call the boss on the cell phone to inform her of the change of plans. nothing, no signal at ALL!. went back in and asked them if there was anywhere i could make a call, they told me up on the edge where we were going you might get a text out, if not you had to go to the north rim lodge and hope the signal would come across from the south side.

    we would try the camp site, then head south if needed. and off we went, once again with a fool proof plan....

    promise i wont take so long for the next update,

    laramie :beer
    #24
  5. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
    Oddometer:
    3,094
    Location:
    Corral de Tierra CA, Ketchum ID
    Great ADV drama!
    #25
  6. laramie LC4

    laramie LC4 crash test dummy!

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,604
    Location:
    Tucson, Az
    day 3 continues...

    so we turn off on Forrest Service Rd 611 and start to head up into the trees. nice, easy graded road, no worries, just taking it easy on the tire. get a few miles in and start to see some camp sites that look interesting. we push ahead and turn of the main road to the right, and head toward the edge of the canyon you could see off to your side. in there were several, awesome sites with nobody in them. we picked a smaller one and stopped to make the call.

    i crossed the dirt road and took a few more steps, and this was my view...

    [​IMG]


    maybe not the edge of the grand canyon but what a view. you can actually see part of the east end of the canyon below. this would do for night 3. :clap

    at this point i looked down at my verizon phone (the "can you hear me now" guys) and thought for sure i would have a signal. sure enough my phone showed 3 bars. plenty. i dialed up my wife to inform her of the change in plans, and waited for the connection. it never came.... although it showed bars, they came and went as quick as the wind, it just wasn't steady enough to make a call. no biggie, i will send a text. type up a wordy text explaining the situation and hit send.

    wait...

    wait...

    wait...

    text failed. connection error was all the phone said. :huh so, i chop the text down to just a few words, figured maybe i was trying to send too much, maybe a small one would be able to make it?

    nope. same story over and over. tried my daughters phone with same result.

    now i'm starting to get nervous. i have to be able to call the wife, she is expecting a call from us soon and if that doesn't go out, all hell will break loose. she is a cardiac nurse that works emergencies and is on call a LOT. she would go into rescue mode and not be able to stop it. if i can't get a signal in the park, i'm going to have to ride out today, use more tire, then maybe change camping plans all over again. not what i wanted.

    so we look at each other, knowing we had to go into the park reguardless of how much we just wanted to sit down and make camp. it's was worth the risk on the tire and one of the main sites we wanted to see. we loaded back up and drove back out to the highway, once again taking it easy on the tire.

    the entrance to the park was just a few miles up the road and no where near as busy as the south rim had been the day before. i already had a pass from the prior day and was granted access again at the north gate.

    no sooner than we cross into the park we see this.

    [​IMG]

    if you have never been to the north rim side of the canyon you need to go. it is soooo different than the south end. elevation is higher, terrain, wildlife, tree's, everything is nicer. the temps were perfect and the road was a nice, twisty, 2-lane with incredible views on both sides.

    after the gate, the north rim lodge is just a few miles ahead.

    we pulled into the parking lot and found a site to stop. jumped off the bike and this was the view.

    [​IMG]

    with a parking lot view like that, i can't wait to see the main show.

    the lodge is built on the top of an edge sticking out into the canyon. there are small cabins for rent and a campground behind. the main lodge is beautiful and has several big rooms. they do have a restaurant and best off all. they had a signal. still a little sketchy, but i could make a call, and do some quick googling to find a new tire in St. George.

    a few pics from the North Rim...

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    there are little walk ways like the one above all over and you can make your way down for the views.

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    if you look closely the distance, the mountain on the left is Flagstaff.

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    after a short walk, some lunch, and having made my call, and found a tire to have mounted tomorrow, the day was looking up. now let's hope no one stole our camp site.

    we jumped back on the bike and headed back, luckily when we arrived there were even less people than when we road in, and still nobody on our little dead end trail. instead of taking a smaller site, we rolled right into the main site and pitched tent.

    one thing i will say we got right so far was the packing. my paniers were full. 1 had food, cooking supply, and H20. the other tools, air pump, bathroom stuff, and all my medical stuff, and H2O. on the back we had our 2 bags, tent, 2 tri-pod chairs, and 2 camp pillows. with more room if needed. we could pull up, unload, and have camp set really quickly and easily. it packed up just as quick and really made things pretty easy.

    now that we had our stuff set, time to explore. we followed the trail ahead down a nasty, little, rutted hill, then back up to the end. we were now at the tip of the cliff and i knew there had to be a trail that took us to the edge. we found it...

    [​IMG]

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    after a sit and almost a nap (what can i say, it was peaceful) we waled back to camp to prep dinner. i have to say, day 3 was turning into a great one. loved the CAMP SITE and all seemed to be working out.

    [​IMG]

    one other nice detail was were were allowed to have a camp fire. there was plenty of wood lying around so we gathered some and made a small fire. this was the cherry on the top of the cream on top of the sundae. what a way to end a day.

    day 4 tomorrow...

    laters,

    laramie :beer
    #26
  7. Questor

    Questor More Undestructable

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,547
    Location:
    Diamond Bar, CA.
    Nice!

    Have you ever ridden out to Toroweap?
    It's on the north rim side.
    It's the "undeveloped" area downstream from the National Park.
    67 miles of great dirt road to a place where you can look down 3000 feet.
    [​IMG]


    Anyway, I'm enjoying the Ride Report.
    It's cool you got to share such a cool experience with your daughter.
    She will remember this for the rest of her life.

    Q~
    #27
  8. dontlr

    dontlr Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,864
    Location:
    Queen Creek AZ - Its a dry heat
    Cool ride report and hoping to head to the north rim over the 4th.
    #28
  9. utefan

    utefan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    461
    Location:
    Scottsdale - Arizona
    Awesome stuff - keep it coming.
    #29
  10. laramie LC4

    laramie LC4 crash test dummy!

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,604
    Location:
    Tucson, Az
    nope, never been down there. that was the original plan but due to the tire issues i really did not want to risk it. i think we would have been fine in hindsight but on the road and with some of the luck we had, i didn't want to risk it anymore. maybe next time...

    thanks for the comments.

    laters,

    laramie :beer
    #30
  11. 1P8RIOT

    1P8RIOT Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    Oddometer:
    473
    Location:
    Whitesboro, TX.
    I carry a SPOT device. It works great for letting my family know I'm not bear food in places that don't have cell service. Once I stop riding for the day, I hit the "checking in" button and it sends out an email or text message AND a link to google maps showing where you are.:clap
    #31
  12. laramie LC4

    laramie LC4 crash test dummy!

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,604
    Location:
    Tucson, Az
    i looked at a spot but was scared away by the crappy reviews and the issues with the "subscription" and "annual billing". seems it works great for those who are constantly in the woods and using the services, not so much for the guy who is only going to use it rarely.

    thanks,

    laramie :beer
    #32
  13. preacherman

    preacherman Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
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    60
    Location:
    Midland, Texas
    Hahaha this is funny I saw you guys at the north rim lodge parking lot. I remember because I was drooling at the bike and commented to my wife about the two of you riding together. Small world. Glad you guys had fun.
    #33
  14. Britome

    Britome Get Free

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2009
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    1,907
    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    I'm taking notes on your findings. Thx.
    #34
  15. Keating

    Keating Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    322
    Location:
    Ottawa, ON
    Stealing this for my sig. Cheers! :freaky

    Great job getting the kid out like that.
    My daughter is almost 6, and can just reach the pillion pegs with her toes. (Legal to ride here in Ontario)
    Looking forward to doing stuff like this in a few more years.
    #35
  16. laramie LC4

    laramie LC4 crash test dummy!

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Tucson, Az
    day 4...

    as always i never sleep that well when camping, add into that the wind had been howling all night long so it was an early morning. i got out of my bag, got my boots on, and stepped out into the wind.

    it was still before day break and black as hell. the only thing that i cared about though was a cup of coffee. this meant i had to get the camp stove and find a place out of the wind to light it up and heat up some water. so far i had been very happy with my el cheapo burner. it was pretty compact, light, and really easy to use. the night before when boiling water for dinner i had noticed that it was cooking slower due to the wind, this morning i knew it would be an issue. so i got the stove and fuel, dug out my lighter and went in search of some shelter. i ended up being able to stack a couple big stumps that were being used as camp stools and surround the stove on 3 sides. this gave it enough protection that i could get a decent flame. lit her up , put some water on to boil, then took a quick walk over to the edge to see if i could see any signs of sun rise.

    as i got closer and closer to the edge, something funny was happening. i figured it would get windier but instead is was getting calmer. wtf? i thought to my self. oh well, guess i know where im having my coffee.

    the day before i had seen a little trail that led down the edge a ways and thought that was my best bet for a spot to sit. i turned and went back to camp, the water was almost ready so i grabbed my cup, poured in my instant coffee mix (yummy :puke1) and then waited for the water to finish boiling.

    as soon as i had my coffee i headed back to the edge. the wind was still howling in the camp, but 30 feet ahead and down a few it was perfectly calm. i found a nice rock to sit on and looked east for the rising sun. i could see a sliver of light and new before too long the sun would be up and the temps would rise and hopefully put and end to the wind. even with the hassles of not sleeping, crappy coffee, and the wind, all in all, not a bad way to wake up.

    [​IMG]

    as my coffee cup emptied, i ran back to camp and repeated the coffeee routine, grabbed some trail mix, and came back down. by now the sun was definitely up and it was almost time to wake the kid. i only had one more package of coffee and i knew she would want something warm. so i started more water, enough for coffee and breakfast, and woke her up.

    as she dragged her but out of the tent, i handed her the coffee and some food and showed her were to go sit out of the wind. while she ate i quickly began to break camp. by the time she was finished, all that was left was the tent. we took that down, put everything on the bike, packed up any trash we had/found and got ready to go.

    the plan for the day was simple, ride north through Fredonia, past Colorado City (all the crazy polygamist places) and into Leeds, UT. it was only 120 miles and i knew we would make good time.

    before leaving we took one more look at the view, then mounted up and headed out.

    [​IMG]

    the ride that morning was awesome. the temps were nice and cool and i think my butt was finally accepting the fact that this is how it was gonna be, so it better get used to it. as always, we hauled arse the whole way in. up to this point i had not seen a single law enforcement officer on the roads besides park rangers. this made it way to easy to justify going fast. as i cruised into Hurricane, UT i figured my luck eventually had to run out so i slowed down to the speed limit. no sooner than i did, a utah state trooper passed going the other way. wheeewwhhh!

    after that we just flowed with traffic the rest of the way into my grandmothers house without incident.

    as we pulled up i could see the confused looks on their faces, "who are these people on the motorcycle in my yard?" i had not mentioned that we were on the bike, but assumed they may have caught a clue. guess not.

    anyways, it was nice to see everyone and to know we had a 2 day rest before hitting the road again. time to rest the butts, time to clean the bike, and time to figure out that back tire situation. cold beer and a shower were nice too...

    coming soon....the ride home and wrapping it all up.

    laters,

    laramie :beer
    #36
  17. laramie LC4

    laramie LC4 crash test dummy!

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,604
    Location:
    Tucson, Az

    that's cool. small world. we ran into another inmate camping on day 3. motochef317 i believe his name was. he was riding a klr-650 to maine.

    laters,

    laramie :beer
    #37
  18. bbenn75820

    bbenn75820 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,368
    [FONT=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif] "as always, we hauled arse the whole way in".

    That's maybe fine for you, but what about the precious cargo you are carrying and responsible for?

    SLOW DOWN !!!
    [/FONT]
    #38
  19. Oldone

    Oldone One day at a time!

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2009
    Oddometer:
    738
    Location:
    MN. (summers) AZ. (winters)
    Laramie,

    Here's a handy trip check list in case you need one. Lots of stuff on there but the Motorcycle Camping is a good one to use. Have a safe trip.....

    Gary

    M/C Checklists
    #39