Iowa to Grand Canyon....and back.....the low tech way

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by aaronrkelly, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. aaronrkelly

    aaronrkelly Been here awhile

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    Since Ive owned a motorcycle Ive dreamt of seeing the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle trip.

    This year it happens. Why this year? Cause I finally said fuck it....now or never, Im done waiting for the right time.....the extra money....etc....get out the credit card, take a week off and lets go.

    Ive got no fancy adventure bike with Touratech gear......Ive got my large party barge of a touring bike.....so mostly pavement it is.

    I have no whiz bang camping gear that will compress to fit inside a KTM fanny pack.....Ive got left over shit from WalMart that I likely bought years ago for my kids to "camp" in the back yard in.

    My plan......toss all this crap in my el cheapo Harbor Freight trailer....hook it to the Vision and head to the Grand F'ing Canyon.

    Ive got 9 days....but I want to do it in as few days as I can and still have fun.....cause I do have other obligations that COULD use my time....but if it takes 9 then it takes 9.....but Im hoping for 6ish.

    I made no plans for where to be on certain days or how long Im going to ride.....just that I want to see "in order of importance".

    Grand Canyon
    Pikes Peak
    Manitou Cliff Dwellings
    Skyline Drive in Canon City, CO
    Royal Gorge
    4 corners

    So I get the time off work.....6 weeks till go time.

    In that 6 weeks I took some weekend trips to try out my "fancy" camp gear and such. Just basically ride a hard day out and see something, camp that night and come home. Worked decent.....no illusions of great, but a solid decent. Also discovered my bike needed brakes and tires but again, 6 weeks, plenty of time to sort it out.

    new tire fitted (and brakes)
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    So gear is prepped (ie tied in trash bags.....err, I mean high tech compression sacks)......bikes been gone over (tires, brakes, oil change etc)....and my $250 Harbor Freight trailer is loaded and ready to go....and hopefully come back.

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    .....and to top it off the week before we leave my co-rider (my girlfriend) has twisted the sheet out of her knee; is in a brace, dopped up and walking with a cane.....sweet.....thats gotta help, right.
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  2. aaronrkelly

    aaronrkelly Been here awhile

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    So we are leaving at 3am on Thursday morning.....the plan is to ride hard the first day because Nebraska sucks.....and everything we want to see is near Colorado Springs.

    Before leaving picture....yeah, its 3am....I've just got off work and Im kinda less than thrilled. See my plan was NOT to be leaving at 3am....but a co-worker had a scheduled World of Warcraft game planned so my start time got pushed back.....yeah, no shit....World of Warcraft. I reasoned that there was no point in going in and napping till day light....might as well get to it.

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    So off we go.....in the dark. Not much to see....a couple deer, other then that nada.
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  3. Go-4-It

    Go-4-It Been here awhile

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    Sounds like you have a good plan and the time to make it happen. Enjoy, I look forward to following your Star ship to the Canyon. :nod
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  4. WaywardSon

    WaywardSon Long timer

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    The best plan is no plan...go for it. You're gonna see some nice country! Take lots of pics.

    Hope the girl-friends knee holds up.
    #4
  5. aaronrkelly

    aaronrkelly Been here awhile

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    So is there anything to see in Nebraska....

    Here is Nebraska at day break...

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    and several hours later here is Nebraska again....

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    Oh....more pics of Nebraska

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    Im beginning to think there is NOTHING to see in Nebraska (and well on my way to proving that point) when I come up to Lexington NE and need fuel. I pull of the slab and as I do I see a sign for a military vehicle museum.

    So I get my go juice and take off following the signs.....to hopefully find something redeeming in Nebraska. Honestly I figured I would round the corner and be greeted with a few vehicles.....this place was huge. You couldnt swing a dead cat without hitting a tank, truck, dozer, gun etc.....easily the biggest military vehicle museum Ive seen (which was only this one).

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    #5
  6. aaronrkelly

    aaronrkelly Been here awhile

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  7. aaronrkelly

    aaronrkelly Been here awhile

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    This was the only thing I found of interest in Nebraska - no other scenery.......but Colorado would be worth it.

    The museum did make my day though....its was a great place. Run by volunteers and staffed by people that were very passionate about saving this bit of history. There was a older, very knowledgeable gentleman walking around and he came right over and told us all about each vehicle we stopped to look at. He said they try very hard to keep and get everything they can in running condition and that they do take them out and run them often. The older lady at the front said she loves to ride in the tanks and trucks, especially pulling into the gas station at WalMart to get fuel.

    Admission price - donations......tanks and good folks, well maybe Nebraska isnt THAT bad....but the scenery still sucks there.
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  8. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    Very nice. Looking forward to more. Btw, I'm no stranger to those early departures myself on peaceful, empty highways. Must be something about living on the plains and having seen everything for a few hours in either direction hundreds of times over and over again.
    #8
  9. gvthnks

    gvthnks Been here awhile

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    Loving the Nebraska shots. Lived there for three years and averaged between 5k to 8k a month along I-80. Been in that museum a dozen times or so.

    I think there's a barbed wire museum in either Cozad or Gothenburg and Buffalo Bill Cody ranch and home are in North Platte.

    Sounds like a fun trip.
    #9
  10. hyperboarder

    hyperboarder Potato Farmer

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    I moved from CO to IA to work for John Deere. They paid me too much and it was an easy job, but I quit and moved back a year later. Haven't looked back once, the midwest was not for me. That being said, I do believe Iowa is better than Nebraska :D. I was a fan of the quad cities and Des Moines.

    Anyway, where are you staying at the canyon? I just finished a trip through southern CO with a stop at the north rim, bloody gorgeous down there right now.
    #10
  11. aaronrkelly

    aaronrkelly Been here awhile

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    The plan was to camp.....the plan did not go as planned.

    Lesson #1 from this trip (Im already back)......camping is great but you HAVE to get off the road early enough to find a site, setup and get comfy. If your going to ride hard all day......your going to ride yourself out of camping. I SHOULD have stopped at around 6ish.....instead I was consistently rolling till 8......and right into a motel room.

    Near the GC I stayed at the Anasazi Inn....
    #11
  12. muddriller

    muddriller Been here awhile

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    Aaron: I think you've gotten this wrong! I am sure that the reason that Iowa is so windy is that Nebraska BLOWS and ILLINOIS sucks. Hence the windy conditions.

    Great report keep it up.

    Todd
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  13. electroman

    electroman 6.02*10^23 Gigawatts

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    As a seasoned veteran of Nebraska drives, I've passed by that museum many times - now I'll have to stop next time.

    Great RR so far.
    #13
  14. aaronrkelly

    aaronrkelly Been here awhile

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    It really is worth stopping at.....flip them a few bucks and enjoy some machinery.
    #14
  15. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

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    Can't believe I missed that going through Neb as much as I have in my roamings. I don't do interstates very much so that may be the reason. But, it's on my list of Nebraska things to see now.
    #15
  16. aaronrkelly

    aaronrkelly Been here awhile

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    So our last post of this adventure left off with the museum....the only thing of value I found in Nebraska.....that and for some reason when I went thru Omaha it smelled like donuts.....that was nice. Other then those two things I wasnt impressed.

    .....but we were almost to Colorado....now it was going to change.

    So we leave the museum.....more 4 lane.....humming along......welcome to Colorado.....this is going to be great.

    .....damn. Colorado looks just like Nebraska.....that sucks. We rode for another 2 hours or so before we started seeing mountains.....waay off in the distance.

    Now I dont have any Colardo road shots cause to start off with.....Colorado looked just like Nebraska. When the mountains started showing off in the distance then I got in the first "rain" off the trip. A very light drizzle.....and wind gusts to rival my ex-mother-in-laws mouth. Not exactly picture taking weather. It actually wasnt that bad and only lasted maybe 30 mins.....but Id been riding forever and just didnt give a crap about some distant mountains.

    So after about 830 miles......and 15 hours.....we pull into Colorado Springs around 6:30 to 7-ish.

    First thing....find some good food - ie some place that doesnt have paper hats or a drive thru.

    So we hit a place called The Mason Jar.

    http://www.masonjarcolorado.com/

    Guess this places claim to fame is their chicken fried steak and the fact the drinks come in......wait for it.......a mason jar. Yeah, shocked the hell out of me to....wowwa.

    I ordered something that was likely to clog an artery, cause a heart-attack and end the ride early.....check out this fatty goodness.

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    chicken fried chicken.....with mashed potatoes topped with bacon......green beans.....and of course a side of more gravy

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    my drink.......in the most coveted "mason jar"

    Food as really good after a long ride.....and honestly it was good food.

    The plan next was to score some ice and beer in our cooler.....and make way to Mueller State Park for some camping and scenery.

    So we head up the mountain towards the park and its starts gusting...

    I could literally see up the road a "wall" of what looked like hail. So I pre-warn my girlfriend in my most Captain Sig Hansen voice "its about to get nautical". Now Ive ridden in torrential downpours.....even hail. I was prepped for it....really wasnt a big deal.

    .......but it wasnt hail. It was gravel and sand. I guess when the wind comes up this stuff just flies off the mountain.

    game the FUCK over.....turn this bitch around and head back DOWN the mountain

    My big camping and scenery adventure......Im headed back in town looking for a motel.

    So I roll my big futuristic pavement eater down main street and start looking for some "locals". I chatted up some "urban" looking youths....baggie pants and all that.....they tell me for a cheap motel I want to go to this place called the Chief.

    Sweet.....Im cheap....and Ive only been "out west" for a single day and Im already hunting indians.....hell yeah - this Chief is gonna be my bitch (with the help of my trusty tracker Mr Garmin).

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    Gotta love a place you can hole up for $35. I parked my bike outside, we hauled our asses inside (out of the gravel/sand/rain storm).

    Now as far as cheap motels go Im NOT that picky. I stayed in a place once that cost $15 a night.....sure the place smelled a bit and all the sheets and blankets had moth holes in them.....but that can be overlooked.

    Cheap motels need only these things to make me happy.

    a bed more comfortable then my sleeping bag on the ground
    a good shower with decent water pressure
    air conditioning

    Thats it.....and the Chief delivered. TV, small fridge, coffee pot, microwave......great shower.....REALLY comfy bed.....and only 1 mystery stain on the wall and 2 empty vodka bottles in the tub.

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    I also kinda liked the layout of this place. Between the rooms was a common parking area....so each room had a covered place to park a vehicle. Kinda different - at least from what Im used to seeing anyways.
    #16
  17. aaronrkelly

    aaronrkelly Been here awhile

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    I stand corrected.....I DO have some of those "mountains off in the distance" shots.

    I was just going thru the pics off my gf's cell phone and apparently she took some.

    the part of Colorado that doesnt look any different then Nebraska....
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    then you can see it is going to get better....
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    Hell going thru these pics makes me wanna load my shit up and head back.....damn.
    #17
  18. aaronrkelly

    aaronrkelly Been here awhile

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    So after we wake up....get our stuff packed and roll outta the Chief we headed north towards Pikes Peak.

    First stop.....some cliff dwellings in Manitou Springs.

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    ...but we were a bit early. So we set on the side of the road and waited till they opened.

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    The view from inside one of the cliff dwellings - cant be all bad to wake up looking at that in the morning.

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    #18
  19. aaronrkelly

    aaronrkelly Been here awhile

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    The cliff dwellings were cool (something the gf wanted to see) but the big kahuna for the day for me was Pikes Peak.

    .....lets do it.

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    #19
  20. aaronrkelly

    aaronrkelly Been here awhile

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    I pay the nice lady at the toll booth and she informs me I have to drop the trailer in the lot here at the bottom. OK....thats kinda inconvenient but no problem.

    Ive been to the top of Pikes Peak before....but I was 10 and it was in a car. As such I wasnt paying attention and of course wasnt driving.....so I didnt really remember much.

    We unhook and head up.....

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    At the top we wandered around the gift shop and such. Met a couple from New York that were riding either 11 or 14 different mountain ranges on a Super Glide.....talked with them for half an hour or so. Great folks. There were tons of guys on adventure bikes - looked like maybe a riding group or a planned ride. You couldnt swing a dead cat without hitting a GS or HD of some sort......no Victory's in sight.

    So we headed back down the mountain....following the GS dudes standing on their pegs. I stood up on mine for awhile to but didnt see the point, so I set back down......to each their own.

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    ......had to make a little stop on the way down.....all the gear all the time...not exactly.....but some of the gear when necessary

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    Stopped and ate a little snack at Crystal Creek Reservoir on the way down.

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    .....and the Pikes Peak adventure was over....next.
    #20