Travelin' Light - Riding 2up through the Americas

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by csustewy, May 5, 2011.

  1. CrazyLegs

    CrazyLegs In midlife crisis.

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    75
    Location:
    Colorado Mountains
    OK, I'm in too! Looks like a great trip, enjoy it. I just went thru Cortez and past Mesa Verde today, but on 4 wheels. Just got home to Breckenridge.

    How did you guys cope with todays wind, I chatted with a couple of bikes in the Az desert and they were hating the gusts on the slab.

    Anyway, keep up the good work!

    Jim
    #21
  2. cardoctor1

    cardoctor1 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    555
    Location:
    horsham pa
    be safe.
    #22
  3. Oldfart123

    Oldfart123 Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 16, 2011
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    12
    It was great to meet you two in Mesa Verde.....and great that you reattached your license plate! We continued our trip after meeting you including a sandstorm and incredible winds in Monument Valley and a great ride from Durango to Silverton, Ouray, Telluride and back to our adopted home of Mancos. Got home last night and the only scary part of the whole trip was the jockeying traffic in my home town of Atlanta. Crazy!
    Mike, I was telling Ken that I would feel better about your safety if Jill wasn't so attractive! Be careful south of the border!
    #23
  4. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

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    CrazyLegs - yeah, we got some nasty wind across there too. Mostly headwind, with some good sidewind gusts to keep us on our toes. We talked to some locals in Eastern Utah who described this time of year as windy season. A fitting description for sure! Hope you enjoyed your trip by Cortez and Mesa Verde.

    OldFart123 - hey Eric! Good to hear from you! I agree that Jill is a looker, but she's got some fire hidden behind her kind shyness, so she stands up for herself when necessary. Even so, we'll do our best to be safe and careful, especially south of the border.
    #24
  5. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

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    We stayed in Zion for a few days with Mike's sister's family and it was an absolute blast! They were kind enough to let us stay with them at the Driftwood lodge in Springdale, which made the cold and rainy weather bearable. It also gave us a chance to catch up on some much needed laundry and consistent showering. The meals during our stay at Zion were a major improvement over our one-pot meals from camping, and we certainly enjoyed that. We should have taken pictures of those meals since they were presented much better than our camping meals, but it's much easier to get the camera out while camping than while at a restaurant, so no pics of the good meals. Thanks, Mark and Amy, for the dinners!

    The first full day we had there was fairly cold and rainy, but we still went out for a short hike during that rare rain storm - Zion only gets ~15 inches of precipitation each year. Even though the weather was a bit dreary, it gave us an interesting perspective on the park that many don't get to see. There were a number of waterfalls that we got to see that usually weren't there, and the ones that were more constant were thundering water down instead of just dripping. Also, the entire valley floor looked so much greener and more alive with all of that moisture. The rain prevented us from considering the hike through the river up the Narrows, but that's ok, we were able to see a lot, and Mike's niece Claire was able to enjoy all of it too.

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    The second day of hiking we managed to get out fairly early (thanks mostly to Claire's early morning schedule) and enjoyed some morning sunshine for our hike to Angel's Landing. The hike was a long trudge upwards through Refrigerator Canyon to Scout's Lookout. Mark got the best workout as he had Claire in a carrier the entire day, but we definitely all felt the hike up.

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    At Scout's Lookout the trail continuing on to Angel's Landing is a bit more of a challenge with some risky exposure to 1000 ft + cliffs. Mike was the only one that was excited to make it to the top, so set off along the trail. In the riskiest places, there were chains bolted to the rock to help with balance, so the trail wasn't too dangerous. It was bad enough though that Mike took off his sunglasses so nothing would impede his vision, he certainly did not want to kick a rock and stumble anywhere along that path. The pictures don't do it justice, but here's a glimpse of that stretch...

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    We all met back up at Scout's Lookout for a snack and some water, along with a family photo.

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    It was a relief to walk back down the trail, and well timed as it was getting much more crowded as the day went on. That, and rain moved in by the time we got back to the hotel, so we had timed it perfectly.

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    Our final day in Zion was a shorter day, but we managed to view a part of the park that we hadn't seen before, Kolob Canyon. Before taking off, Claire got her first "ride" on a motorcycle. A future ADVrider inmate, perhaps...

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    Claire was soooo much fun to hang out with for those few days. She has the most fun of any of us, and causes us to have a riot as well. Her laugh is frequent and contagious. Even simple things like graham crackers can be the most entertaining (and messy) things in the world.

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    That, and she's very good at sharing, too.

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    It was a chilly ride up to Kolob Canyon, but a nice section of the park that deserves a longer day to explore on foot.

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    After our quick tour of the area, it was time to say goodbye to Amy, Mark, and Claire. That was extremely sad as we had such an amazing time those few days in Zion, and we are unsure when we will get the chance to run into them again. Hopefully it's soon, we miss you guys a ton already!

    Jill and Mike took some time to bundle up for the drive slightly north to catch a road East back towards Bryce Canyon. Thankfully, we heard that the road we were considering gained a lot of elevation, so we went out of our way a few more miles to the north to catch a lower road. We still managed to catch up to a cold rain that luckily wasn't too heavy. We pulled off in a rest stop to get our bags and selves covered, where we hung out with a couple heading home on the BMW touring bike. After the rain let up, we headed east, but still managed to find ourselves in a rainstorm. It was a good first ride in the rain for Jill - now she knows what she has to look forward to in future rainy rides. By the time we got to Panguitch, UT, we were cold and tired and wanted to find some warmth. So we sprung for a $30 room (yay, off season!) early in the afternoon, allowing us some time to walk around and catch the National Forest office and library.

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    #25
  6. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

    Joined:
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    back in Denver
    After spending the night in the hotel, we got up relatively early and went to Bryce Canyon National Park. There is a 20 some mile road that goes through the park where you can stop at several overlooks. There are also several hikes you can take through the park. It was tourist city at the main areas, even more than at Zion. The area is really quite amazing. We did a hike from Sunset View that ended up being about 3 miles through the bottom of the canyon. Everyone hiking was super geared up in huge hiking boots and other important stuff. We were in flip flops and kept getting warned about how difficult the trail was going to be. Ended up being not at all treacherous in flip flops and not a strenuous hike at all. One lady stared Mike down as she passed and laughed/scoffed at him for his attire. It was hilarious. Here are some views from the overlooks and trails.

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    (Look at all those hoodoos)

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    Next we went to Kenab, UT just south of Bryce on the way to the Grand Canyon. We happened upon the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office and asked about camping for the night. The lady knew a lot about cows, but not much about camping unless it had showers and other amenities. BLM land is supposed to be free public land where you can camp openly, so we had expected at least a recommendation for a place to stay, but we got no help at all. Then we stopped for gas and found a great outdoor store across the street. Jill was finally able to find a second pair of riding socks and the owner was able to tell us about a place to camp that included petroglyphs of dinosaurs. We didn't find the site he was talking about, but we did find some free camping in a pretty good spot if not for the bugs.

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    #26
  7. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

    Joined:
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    Somehow our alarm didn't go off in the morning so we got a later start than expected. That was ok because we worked the daylight savings system to get a time change in AZ that gave us an extra hour. We drove to Page, AZ, tourist mecca of Lake Powell travelers and had a hard time finding a visitors center. We did find City Hall, but they had no idea where it was either and called random people to find it. Eventually it was found in a strip mall. Then we went to Denny's for a big breakfast. Unfortunately, we saw the Baconalia menu after we had ordered, but still managed to down lots of coffee and good food.

    After breakfast, Mike did some basic maintenance to the chain. The US models (only sold in 1988 & 1989) of the Transalp never had a centerstand, and don't have a mounting bracket for one available from Honda. Thankfully, a fellow inmate, CigarMike, has been working on creating an aftermarket centerstand for the TA. We are lucky enough to be traveling with one of the first prototypes, which so far has been great, and will continue to prove valuable for regular maintenance and tire changes/repairs. The best part about it is that CigarMike, lives south of Denver, so we were able to work with him to get the stand on. Thanks again, Mike, for working so hard to make these stands work out!! There will be a lot of happy TA owners due to your hard work.

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    We then hit the road to make it to the Grand Canyon for some amazing vistas and a short hike into the canyon. When we first saw the canyon, it was difficult to fully appreciate the scene - it's almost too massive to take in.

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    We caught the free shuttle bus from the visitor's center to the S Kaibab trailhead, where we planned on checking out Ooh Aah point, a couple mile roundtrip hike. Somehow we blasted on past ol' Ooh Aah and made it down to Cedar Ridge, which was a beautiful overlook into the canyon. Hiking down and back up that trail certainly gave us a better understanding of how deep and large the Grand Canyon is.

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    While in the park, we decided to take advantage of the showerhouse at the campground. The place was a madhouse of activity with lots of people doing laundry, waiting for showers, and just hanging out in the parking lot waiting for clothes to dry. Jill had the pleasure of waiting in line for the women's showers behind a 6'6", very manly person, seemingly going through a few changes in life, who apparently felt more comfortable in the women's bathroom than in the men's, even if those around him/her didn't feel the same. Luckily the showers were all separate stalls, so no extra body parts were seen. Unfortunately, we don't have any photos to share with you of that experience.

    Due to our longer than expected hike and much needed shower, we didn't want to drive too far at dusk, especially after seeing a few mule deer when leaving the park. In mule deer vs motorcycle, mule deer would win. We made it to Ten X campground in Kaibab Nat'l Forest, which was a nice wooded place to crash. Since it was an official campground, it cost us $10 to stay there, but getting off the road then and also having a picnic table to sit at was worth it. FYI - there are a couple of signed National Forest roads just south of there that would have been perfect for free camping, if you're headed that way.

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    #27
  8. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2009
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    back in Denver
    We are in Las Vegas now, heading out to Henderson this afternoon. Inmate tbarstow was kind enough to allow us to ship fresh tires to his place and provide us some assistance with swapping tires out. As a noob to dual sport riding, I've actually never changed my own motorcycle tires, or needed to fix a flat, so this will also be a good tutorial for our upcoming ride through rougher roads south of the border. We will post again with some more details of that experience, as well as an update of how the CigarMike centerstand works out for that maintenance. So far, the centerstand has been a huge help and has been holding up perfectly well. This prototype is about there, probably pretty near production.

    And thankfully, neither Jill nor myself is a big gambler, so we still have all the money that we entered Vegas with.

    We also have a couple more days to catch up on to bring us up to today, but that will follow in the next couple of days...
    #28
  9. Cigar Mike

    Cigar Mike Too Old and Too Slow

    Joined:
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    Centennial, Co
    Mike and Jill,

    I have been looking forward to your next post. I is good to know that you are having a great time. It is also good to hear that the stand is being put to good use.

    Be safe and keep us updated on your progress.

    Cheers,

    Mike
    #29
  10. brianstanfill

    brianstanfill has adventure

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2008
    Oddometer:
    222
    Location:
    Touring
    Riding in the wet? If you find the inside of your panniers collection moisture along the way, consider this cheap mod: trash compactor bags at the supermarket offer an additional layer of defense against the elements and they tend to fit very large panniers very well.

    Safe rides!

    Brian
    #30
  11. Jim Bud

    Jim Bud Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2003
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    3,439
    Location:
    Castle Rock, CO
    Enjoy the trip.....:freaky
    #31
  12. potski

    potski Wiley Wanderer

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    565
    Location:
    In the mountains
    Enjoying the RR csustewy, subscribed.
    The Alp looks really well.
    Looks like you are much better than me and my wife when you pack for a 2 up trip; how is it coping 2 up with all the kit?

    Ride safe both; looking forward to your next update.

    Cheers
    Potski :freaky
    #32
  13. WilderRider

    WilderRider Long timer

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    Oct 26, 2005
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    1,803
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    Love the ride. Thanks for sharing.:clap
    #33
  14. EvanADV

    EvanADV Big Bearded Boy

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2010
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    Joplor, NC
    Subscribed!
    #34
  15. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

    Joined:
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    back in Denver
    Our first stop of the day was Williams, AZ - the former little Las Vegas along Route 66. It now has some relics of its former hay day, but is otherwise a nice small town. The visitor's center was helpful, the old man at the cheap gas station was not. He yelled a lot, something about how cheap his gas is (he only had 87 octane), and how it works fine for everything from trucks to weed whackers, and if he was willing to put it into his weed whacker then it should be fine running it in a bike with only 2 cylinders. We should have taken a picture with him, but instead decided to go to the next gas station over, where abrasive yelling seemed less frequent, and higher octane gas was available. We had some breakfast of fruit and granola bars at the Safeway and hit the highway (yuck) towards the Route 66 turn off.

    Historic Route 66 is a fairly desolate road. Much of the time it's a straight shot with not too much to look at. Every once in awhile there was an old gas station or other stop that has faded with time, but then you roll into Seligman, AZ, a tour bus mecca along the route.

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    The shops there sell all sorts of random trinkets and try to one-up there neighboring shops with the amount of kitsch. We got some free coffee from the barber/souvenir shop and wandered around town.

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    We planned on a lunch stop at Peach Springs, which was another hour up the road. It's an important city for the Hualapai reservation and where you can turn off to the Grand Canyon West Entrance, which we opted not to do because it's outrageously expensive (around $70/ppn to enter and walk on the skywalk). That town had absolutely nothing, not even rusted out old cars. There was one hotel/lodge/tour/restaurant building, but we kept driving - knowing how much they charge for their tours, how much would lunch have cost?

    We grabbed a burger at Mr D'z diner in Kingman, followed by a fudge brownie sundae. Entertainment during our meal was provided by a group of Italians (that's a guess, but we're pretty sure) who had all rented Harleys and gone on tour. They took more posed pictures than I've ever seen anyone take in my life, and that was just in the diner - at the entryway, from the other direction, in the corner, at the bar, at the jukebox, back out front,... it was non stop. They got back on their bikes and the excitement continued - all 10-12 bikes were turning left across the highway business loop, following their tour guide. None of them seemed to care whether cars were coming or not though. There were. Luckily they stopped to let them pass.

    After the commotion died down, we ran across the street to a visitors center (clearly our favorite stops in small towns, USA) where we were told of a sweet spot to camp on the shoreline of Lake Mead. The place is called Bonelli's Landing and the NPS map didn't show it at all, but the guy we talked to drew in the road with his pencil and we were on our way. It turned out to be an ideal spot!

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    We were right on the water and had a chance to do some swimming. While we were wading out there, a number of big fish kept swimming really close to us. If we would have paid more attention to a TV show we saw in Zion, Hillbilly Hand Fishing, we just might have been able to noodle us up some dinner. But no such luck. We stuck with chili instead. Here's the smallest guy that was checking us out.:

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    #35
  16. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

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    After a very nice, warm night at Lake Mead, we went to the Hoover Dam to have a look. The architecture is quite amazing. The company that won the bid to build the dam ended up completing the dam 2 years early by working 24 hours per day nonstop for about 5 years in the mid 1930's. The town of Boulder City was established for the workers and their families to live in the area and is now a decent size town in Nevada. Walking around Hoover Dam was pretty spectacular, but we were unable to do the tour or even walk into the visitor center because it was so expensive - a tour was $30 and it was $8 to walk into the visitor center. We tried to use our National Park pass because some of the signage outside the building said that the Hoover Dam was the 5th most visited National Park, but we were informed several times by the cashiers that the Hoover Dam is NOT a park. Apparently the Dam is not funded in any way by the government and is fully funded by a private organization so that makes it ok to charge so much.

    The water level in Lake Mead has decreased drastically in the past several years. At first they blamed it on drought, but now they just call it climate change. You can see from this picture where the water level used to be and where it is now. Since so many states in the SW depend on the lake for their energy, there may be some problems in the near future.

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    After leaving the dam, we took the scenic Lakeshore drive to see more of Lake Mead. Some of the former marinas are no longer running because the water level is so low. We then worked our way up to Vegas where we stayed with Brent, his girlfriend Francesca and their roommate Francis. They were great and accommodating and let us take over their front room, couches and computer for 2 days. We went to the Strip the first night to walk around and look at people, but it was a Sunday, so not too crowded. And, since neither of us really gamble, we didn't even spend any money. The house was about 10 minutes from the strip and we caught a bus directly there and back. Thanks again to Brent, Francesca and Francis.

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    #36
  17. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

    Joined:
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    back in Denver
    We left Vegas on Tuesday to head over to Henderson, NV. There, we met up with a contact and new friend, Tim, from this site - he was kind enough to respond to a random request in the regional forum for tire assistance, and was a huge help! He allowed us to have 2 new tires and tubes sent to his place, as well as offered to give a crash course in tire changing. Mike is a noob to dual sport and dirt bikes - over the past 12 years of riding cruisers, has never changed his own tires. But given the likelihood of having to repair a flat, or at the very least swap out tires again, it seemed <STRIKE>worth it </STRIKE>necessary to know how to do this. And for some reason, doing it for the first time in a comfortable, dry, well-lit garage with beer in hand sounded a helluva lot more pleasant than fighting through the first ever tube repair on the side of a deserted road...at night...in the rain...without a working flashlight...with rabid donkeys attacking us...and anything else that Murphy would have thrown at us.

    Both tires finally arrived on Wednesday evening, after a hassle in ordering - there's a difference when ordering on line between 'Available' and 'In Stock' which made a difference of nearly a week according to the customer rep (but only got the tire to Henderson a day earlier than what was shown for the 'Available' tires). So to try to save further delay, we're running two different brands of 80/20 (road/dirt) tires. The rear is a Kenda K761, front is a Shinko 705; both get good reviews for dry and wet road performance, and as good of a review in dirt as can be expected. The set came out to ~$110 (+ free shipping!), which is a screaming deal compared to the cost of some tires out there.

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    Tim started showing Mike the basic procedure. We pulled the rear tire, put in a brand new tube, and then Mike proceeded to absolutely demolish the tube while levering the second tire bead into place. Luckily the old tube was in good shape, so that's what went in next, and seems to be holding air, so Mike's gotten better already! The front tire was swapped next, and we've got a fresh front tube as a spare.

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    When installing the rear wheel, Tim had a chain alignment tool that showed exactly how bent the swingarm of the Transalp is - a lot. The old Tourance rear tire showed some lopsided wear caused when the alignment markings on each side of the axle were even, and really only noticeable over the last 1000 miles or so. Now we know that the right side has to be almost 3/8" forward of the left in order to keep the chain straight from sprocket to sprocket. I guess that lady who rear ended Mike in August did more damage than he thought. The rear wheel was balanced and trued, but the swingarm and frame must have taken a good hit as well. Makes sense given the condition of her bumper and lack of license plate after the collision... But for now, we'll keep the chain aligned and see how the ride goes.

    A grilled steak dinner with spinach salad was the perfect reward for the tire change, but mostly for Tim's patience. Thanks Tim for your help!

    With a little repacking, we also got our 2 person hammock to fit into the front engine guard bags, leaving a little more space in the GIVI trunk. Now that we've finally hit desert heat, that trunk space will be valuable for our extra jacket and pant liners. Jill's stoked to be in consistently warmer temps, and can't wait to get to the beach...
    #37
  18. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2009
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    back in Denver
    After the new rubber was on the bike, we left Henderson towards Phoenix, AZ, with plans to pass through Tucson and then hit the border close to Douglas/Agua Prieta crossing. Since we have been bums while in Vegas and Henderson (fully blaming the delay in tire arrival, of course), we didn't want to have too big of a riding day. Looking at our free visitor's center acquired map of AZ, we targeted some BLM lands and National Forests on the NW side of Phoenix. That took us through Wickenburg, AZ, but the last 8 miles before Wickenburg looked something like this:

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    Road construction kept us on the road for about an hour to travel that last 8 miles into town. Finally there, we picked up a couple of items at a motorcycle shop and found some dinner at the Bashas' grocery. Buffalo Chicken flavored rice with canned chicken and hot sauce. Best one pot meal yet!

    We asked in the moto shop about places to camp for free and they weren't too familiar with easily accessible options. The salesman mentioned a pull off near Lake Pleasant that had a big parking area about a mile off the highway. We found that turn off - an access road to a boat ramp into Lake Pleasant - and saw the parking area with a few makeshift fire rings. That was after passing it originally, turning around where 2 guys were firing rifles and handguns into the hillside. The parking area was heavily used, and not well maintained = Trash Canyon.

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    As we were eating our Buffalo Chicken goulash, those same two firearm toting gentlemen came into the parking area and starting firing there. At first we couldn't see them, as we were in a slight depression, but thankfully they were not using the hillside behind our slight depression as a backstop. Nonetheless, we were wondering if small arms fire was going to keep us awake all night, but they took off just after dark.

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    We slept well and were both happy to be on the road again!

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    #38
  19. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2009
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    back in Denver
    We have just arrived in Phoenix and will take our time today getting over to the Tucson area. Everything in this city is the color of desert, for instance the desert most definitely is, the houses are all adobe, and the buildings are all tan brick (if not adobe). It's not offensive. It's just boring. At least the desert landscape is still intact amidst all the buildings, with interesting plants, cacti, rocks, etc.

    We'll take a look at some hiking around here and then camp before meeting up with a couchsurfing host in Bisbee, AZ. That will serve as our jumping off point for Mexico. We're both excited to finally get south of the border to feel like we're making real progress on our journey. The tour of the southwest US has been great, but we're ready for the next stage.
    #39
  20. csustewy

    csustewy Motojero

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    551
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    back in Denver
    Brian - thanks for the tip! We will keep that in mind as we find ourselves in wetter situations, but so far so good...

    Potski - thanks for the compliments :D. It looks like you've got a couple of beauts in your stable as well. Is your '88 in moonstone? That color scheme is tops in my book.

    2-up touring on the TA is definitely pushing the limits. Both Jill and I are happy to get along with minimal changes of clothes - the true test is whether our friends and acquaintances along the road agree with us! With a bigger bike we would have brought a couple more small items, had more room for food (we can only really pack 2 days worth of light meals) and water, and had an easier time stashing our jacket and pant liners. But so far, we're managing pretty well. And we're expecting that the smaller size of the TA, relative to the big 1150GS we used to have, will be a benefit more often than a detriment. Only one way to find out...
    #40