Travels with Stella! 2. A Great American Ride--Out West

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by JayElDee, Jun 24, 2009.

  1. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    Last fall, I lost my virginity.

    Last fall, I fell from grace.

    Last fall, I said yes, and I did that first solo long distance ride that changes things forever.

    Last fall, was preamble to the ride just taken.

    Last fall, it was Colorado; this spring it was ABC--Anything But Colorado. Don't get me wrong, Colorado was great, but it was always intended to be a shakedown for this ride which I have been selling to the spousal unit as, The Great American Ride.

    Lots of prep, and y'all know the drill:
    The bike
    The technology
    The self

    The three biggies. Well, they were accomplished and on day one out I realized I had only left behind one essential item and that was remedied--coffee.

    So, let me tell you about it. In a word---great. The bike was flawless, no flats, two tipovers, no health or safety issues and I saw this stuff.


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    and a whole lot more

    so to begin...
    #1
  2. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    The prep for the bike (at 40k old, 2004)
    new tires---Michelin Pilot Road 2

    change oil--Mobil 1 20w50
    change tranny and FD oil

    new shocks--Wilbers

    and that's it, Stella! was ready.

    A big chunk of thanks to the many people of the RR forum and the AdvRider forum who were ready with suggestions--they were ALWAYS good. and special thanks to a couple of friends who provided me with my only traveling companion


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    But as the day approached, "performance anxiety" increased as I realized that this trip, so long in the works was about to happen.

    Finally the day had arrived and I was ready to go, ready to pull out of the driveway, not to be this clean for the next 21 days, but wearing that smile much of the time.


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    My planned route took me across Texas, across northern New Mexico to Shiprock, across northeastern Arizona, into Southern Utah, up to Wyoming, Idaho, and across Wyoming to the Black Hills and the Badlands. Then, across Nebraska and down through Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and then back home through Louisiana to New Orleans.

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    I had routes logged into the Zumo and on maps (both were useful), but those routes were suggestions and I was ready to explore, gravel and mud if necessary.
    #2
  3. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    The prep for me was getting the old body fit for this travel. All doctor appts done; all meds put together for 21 days. Tried to work out to get into shape for the long days in the saddle, Mary Jane Farms dehydrated meals--10 days worth; Oatmeal ready to go; lots of Cliff Bars; packets of powdered creamer and Splenda liberated from work.

    I took my winter sleeping bag and two liners--an inner cocoon and a bivy. I was much more concerned about cold than hot, though going from Louisiana to Idaho preperation for both is necessary. But next time, summer sleeping bag (goes down to 45) and the two liners that would bring me down to high 20s.

    And the technology--laptop with external hard drive; cell phone; SPOT; chargers and batteries
    -- cameras Nikon D200 with 16-85, 20mm; 55mm macro; 35mm. Panasonic LZ8 point and shoot (note to self--just take the 16-85 and the 35 and the
    Panny next time)
    Jet Boil, lantern

    Took a first aid kit that I put together with the things I thought would be most useful "in the event..." and I used it for a fellow traveler's broken glasses---Hope it worked for you, June! Duct tape wrapped around a bottle of rubbing alcohol and clothes, and that's about it; but it is all pictured on the bike and it DID affect handling, though not that badly.

    But, we got to our first destination, hot, but everything just fine

    I am sure that many of you have had the experience of a place "calling" you, a call that does quite say anything in words, but means that you should just "be" here.

    Shiprock, the rock, not the place, was the only location on this trip that did that to me. From the first time I saw it I felt I had to see it. Very much in the middle of rural terrain it is called that becasue from a distance it resembles a ship. It is in the Navajo nation and on the day I visited the atmosphere was glum, but there was a quality to the air, to the sky, to the rock itself that, I felt, spoke to me.


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    Traveling closer and closer, it was one of those landmarks that arrest your gaze, that stop time sort of, that say:
    "Ladies and gentlemen, if you will direct your sights on the big rock, Pull the curtain, Fred, and VOILA!"

    It is a sight and a site that beckons a long quiet look and as I was, on this gray and soon to be rained on day, I heard what it was saying ang that was "peace." I know, I know, it sounds corny, but I really did sense Peace and what was interesting about that was that became the theme for the trip. I always remembered that moment when I sensed that communication. Others have had similar experiences I know, but this was my personal Rosetta Stone for this trip, this adventure.


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    sorry for the spots on the sensor
    #3
  4. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
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    I had considered stealth camping at Shiprock, but a couple of things conspired to prevent that. I arrived there in late morning and didn't want to stop for the day, and, the skies were threatening and the road in would probably turn to sludge, so I rode on.

    Before I leave New Mexico, someone deserves mention. I was gassing up in Tierra Amarilla (from City-Data.com Tierra Amarilla <- it ends with an A, not an O is in the middle of nowhere. If you are looking for middle of nowhere, then it fits that to a T.) A guy saunters along side of me, How ya doing? he asks. Fine, How are you? Oh I'm alright, and then he goes into a monologue about life, about how he has lived on that ridge for twenty years since he moved from San Fransisco, and how he lost his wife, Ethel, six months earlier to a drunken driver, and how he lost his cat, Rachel, to something I don't remember. I'm Buck, he says, offering his hand. Hi, Buck, I'm John.
    Where ya headed? Oh I am going to southern Utah and then to Wyoming, feeling that little swell in my chest. Well, if you're going to Wyoming I can show you a shortcut, he tells me. But I want to see some things in Utah. Oh! then you have a "Destination." Yes. Oh well, that's different. He goes on to tell me that our paths may never cross again but they might and he will recognize me by "that red bike" and he will tell me hello again and then he starts walking into the gast station. This guy was a character and I ask if I can take his picture. he saunters over.
    Well, who do you want to take a picture of, because there are eleven people inside of me and again he goes on about the nature of self, the condition of man. I choose "Buck" though he said that Ethel and rachel were both within him and if I chose over again, I think I would choose Ethel. Not Rachel. Ethel.

    Afdter I took his picture and showed him the result he again asked my name, it was still John, and he told me his name was also John. I suppose that is true because I didn't feel any energy leave me as if he was sucking up my spirit, though he may claim that I am now part of the menagerie that is Buck.


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    Taking 160 to 163 into Kayenta was an interesting ride. It was the first time I had been caught in a dust storm. Lots of gusty side winds and the dust was blowing across the road in sheets. Also, following cars and oncoming cars threw dust up into the air. It was just like riding in rain with the visibility issues, but it was dust. Around Kayenta "the dust selttled" and the ride in to Utah was uneventful except for the scenery.
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  5. david7774

    david7774 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2006
    Oddometer:
    82
    Location:
    H.S.Va
    :lurk I'm in.
    #5
  6. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    At Kayenta I head north into the environs pf Monument Valley, just passing through, though I did take the required pictures.

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    and then headed into Mexican Hat so-called because of this overphotographed rock formation

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    Great almost primitive camping can be found at Goosenecks State Park overlooking the meander of the San Juan River. Campsites are well over a thousand feet apart and easily half a mile from the viewing tables. I say almost primitive because the toilet is at the viewing tables, very far away from the sites. I arrived late in the afternoon just when a thunderstorm was brewing. I managed to set up my tent though had to reinforce the stays for the rainfly because of the strong winds and the rocky ground. The dust storm that I first met in Arizona now preceded the rain. The dust was very fine and passed right through the screen of the tent. But then the rains came and Mr Macallan and I weathered it just fine.

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    here you can see how the river meanders. This view was about 20 feet from my campsite.
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    It stormed that night, but there were no leaks in the tent. I was concerned about how the mud/gravel road would be in the morning, but the water drained away quickly and the dust stopped!
    #6
  7. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    645
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    The next morning the area still resembled Mars

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    But I was heading to the Valley of the Gods. There is a 17 mile dirt loop through the area that really was not a problem for the heavy roadster. One area of loose switchbacks but otherwise no issues with the road.

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    The "Lady in the Bathtub" Actually it looks like Marge Simpson
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    I headed back to camp and decided I would push on a bit and do the Moki Dugway on my way up to Hanksville. I just finished loading the bike when the skies again became very threatening and now started to rain. The rain was not going to stop me from doing the Moki D. But it did hinder me from stopping to take pictures very much. This rain started what was a common occurrence on this trip: Rain. Everyday for the next 7-10 days I wore my rain suit and sometimes didn't get it on in time. The positive side of this was that it is unusual to see pictures of Utah with gray skies, or maybe I was making lemonade from lemons. Thing is, in spite of the rain, and sometimes it was a cold rain, the riding was still great and it was a real blast.
    #7
  8. kbear

    kbear Mudbiker

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    125
    Location:
    South Central Wisconsin


    Great photos! I'll be ridin' my keyboard along with ya. Also, glad to see your REI tent held up well in the overnight rain. I just bought one but haven't had a chance to test it out under bad conditions yet.
    #8
  9. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    thanks

    yes, the tent was fine. You can see the rocks holding the stays in the ground. The wind was howling and the bedrock was about 2-3 inches below the surface. I put the stays in at a sharp angle and reinforced with rocks. I had a cover on my bike and was afraid with would blow over--it didn't.

    The tent did shake pretty good during the night with the storming, but that was pretty cool.

    John
    #9
  10. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    So, that afternoon, loaded the bike and started up 95 to Hanksville, or a state park if I found one along the way.

    Just an aside re camping on this trip. I came fully prepared to camp most of the time but ultimately did not because of two reasons:
    1) It is never fun to set up a tent or take one down in the wet, and it was wet a bunch
    2) When I did happen on a campground it was usually filled with RVs parked right next to each other like a parking lot
    So, for most of the time I stayed in motels, usually of the Mom and Pop variety

    I stayed in such a place in Hanksville and the parking lot was DEEP gravel that was very hard to maneuver within.

    But along the way to Hanksville 95 crosses Glen Canyon and it is striking.

    This is where the first tipover occurred. I was stopped taking this picture of the rain distant over the mountains

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    When I started to pull out of the overlook I didn't realize that the ground sloped away from me to the right and I locked the front and cursing in double time, but falling in slow motion--lots of time for expletives--Stella! went down. And there was no one else there.

    Fully loaded she is probably over 600#, and I had to take everything off the bike and on the second try got her up. Broken lens right front turn signal, duct tape came in handy for that and a loosened R mirror retightened, and she was good to go.

    The remainder of the ride was uneventful, but the next morning leaving Hanksville the rain started when I was leaving the parking lot and this was Utah 24 to Torrey and then Utah12 down south, both storied roads. It rained hard. The whole way to Torrey.

    When I stopped at Torrey for a needed break, hot chocolate, stretch legs, etc this is how wet it was. This is Louisiana winter wet, not Utah spring, or so I thought.


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    My gloves were soaked and since the tipover the day previous I had been warming my soaked gloves on the jugs, and that really worked pretty well. At least the water was very warm when I put my gloves back on.

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    #10
  11. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    So, Now I am heading south on Utah 12.
    Green and forested I am heading up and up and it is getting colder and windy, still raining and now foggy. At 9700 feet it is brutal riding, and now about 34 degrees. I think two thoughts to myself, well, three

    1-this may be the hardest riding I have ever done
    2-just keep her between the lines
    3-This is AWESOME

    Fortunately, on the way down on 12 Through the Capitol Reef area in the Dixie National Forest the weather improved and I could see the magnificence of the road.


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    #11
  12. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Utah 12 brings me down to Panguitch and Harold's Place

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    A nice place ideally suited for day rides in the area and having a nice restaurant. They let me park my bike in the carport--the owners lived on the property.

    It was Memorial Day weekend and the touristas were out in force, especially German tourists. It was still easy to get around whatever traffic there was. Still I thought the best day to visit Bryce and Kodachrome would be Monday, thinking the bulk of the tourists would be gone. So, Sunday I did the Hwy 14 loop to Cedars Break Nantional Monument. That would be 12-89-143 then back to Cedar City to 14
    This is how 143 starts

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    It winds along Panguitch Lake very nicely--fly fishermen, and women--this looked to be a prime area for it, there were many people out fishing the small streams feeding the lake

    but changes to the ride up to Brian Head Peak at around 11,000 feet

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    a jump on the slab to get to 14 (managing to miss a turn and getting lost a bit (but that's part of it, right?)

    and eventually

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    and then arriving at Cedars Break along beautiful 14

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    Shortly after this, the rain clouds, my constant companion these days, start brewing and prevented me from doing the very interesting looking N Johnson Canyon Road. Next time.
    #12
  13. Ensey

    Ensey KLR Combat Touring

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Duncan, Ok
    Great RR.....:lurk :lurk
    #13
  14. Moraflex

    Moraflex Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
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    1,342
    Location:
    San Dimas California
    Kick ass area to ride. I did it last year. Keep the RR coming.
    #14
  15. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
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    thanks and lots more coming

    John
    #15
  16. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
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    Memorial Day morning, I get an early start to beat the crowds at Bryce, but to get there from Harold's Place 12 goes through Red Canyon, caught in the early sun.

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    I get to Bryce Canyon about 830 and the hordes have not yet arrived, not a tour bus in sight. If you do not take any hikes into the Canyon, to see the sights from the viewing areas takes about 4+ hours. Bryce is amazing.
    Story goes that in that area the "people" that lived there were really all sorts of animals, but in human form. They were a very successful civilization in everything they did, but they were "bad." The Great Spirit, displeased with their evil turned them into stone, and it is said that if you look at the shapes of the "hoodoos" (the rock columns) you can see human shapes, sometimes single, sometimes double. Indeed, there are many hoodoos that do have human form and this old legend resembles the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot's wife.

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    You can see my traveling partner, the rain, coming to say hello and on the way out of the park I stopped to put on my rain suit, buy a senior pass for the National Parks--lifetime for $12! I also broke the belt clip on my SPOT and had to figure a way to secure it for the remainder of the trip.

    The rain was cold and hard, but short lived and down the road (a few miles toward Panguitch) at the Pine Something INN, sorry can't remember the name, but it is green and white and large and has a sign out touting it's "Homemade Soups and Pies," well, that sounded awfully good, cold and drying as I was. It was a nice place and the bowl of corn chowder was delicious and hit the spot.

    Warmed and satisfied, I headed out again in search of Kodachrome Basin State Park, so named because the predominant colors resemble those on a Kodachrome box-- yellows and reds. It did not disappoint, though again I was playing cat and mouse with the rain. I was the mouse.
    #16
  17. kbear

    kbear Mudbiker

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    125
    Location:
    South Central Wisconsin
    Last year I was in Bryce Canyon in August, with lighting conditions similar to these. Heavy thunder and lightning in the distance, and darker clouds, with penetrating rays of sunlight, made for a very ethereal scene. I could have stayed for days just observing the changes in weather patterns. The colors are simply amazing. The ride out of Bryce to Torrey (Us 12)was one of most awesome roads I've ever been on. So, I know that you are having one helluva cool ride man!!
    #17
  18. Northyork

    Northyork Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2009
    Oddometer:
    271
    Location:
    Canada
    Great place, great trip. Thank you for sharing
    #18
  19. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Unfortunately ride's over, though not forgotten fa sure! And I am thinking about the next one.

    and you are right, 12 is something. It's not like the road is so technical, but it is just so pretty.

    There's more coming

    Thanks

    John
    #19
  20. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    So with the afternoon mine, and the rain's, it was time to head off up 12 to Kodachrome Basin, but first a couple of parting shots of Bryce Canyon

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    and on the road to KB

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    Kodachrome Basin was not overrun by tourists. There were some, but not many. It was, however, where my second, and last, tipover occurred and this was not my fault, I swear, it was an act of God.
    Those of you who have traveled the west know about those freak winds that suddenly arise from NOWHERE and blast you. Ok, so I am on a dirt road going to I think Shakespeare Arch and it is soft dirt, not cotton soft, but flip flop soft and I stop to take these pictures

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    nice picture, you think? and I am stopped and straddling the bike holding my dslr with both hands when suddenly one of those gusts, and prior to this it was calm, one of those gusts hits me from the right side. I lean into it and no big deal until a mini moment later the mirror image gust hits me from the left side and I am still leaned to the right. I start going over managing 4 or 5 expletives before contact with the soft dirt. I go into it, all pointy things on the bike goes into it and my Nikon with my new zoom 16-85 goes into it. The flow of expletives continues. I stand and shake the dirt from me and look at the camera, just sure that I have driven dust into the helical threads of the zoom. A car stops and German tourists ask if I need help. Immediately: YES. I think they expected me to say No, but I didn't. Yes, I reiterated and a very kind young man helped me right Stella! and told me to "be careful." Yes, thank you, I know that part. I was being careful. There is this thing they call Mariah that just ducked with me, but not dUcked. Pride a bit wounded I ride on to the main area of Kodachrome Basin losing stuff that had shaken loose along the way. So, I get to the main parking area and shake more of the dust from me, still p.o.'d about Mariah and concerned about the camera. I tighten the mirror that always loosens when Stella! goes down, look the bike over, check out my camera and remarkably all seems fine. Now I just have to be "careful." Or, failing that, have a ready supply of willing-to-help German tourists.

    So you've seen the before picture and now the after shots

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    I'm no gynecologist and I have never stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, but Earth Mother? Did you lose this?

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    and leaving
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    #20