Two Rats on the TAT

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ratsGoneRogue, Aug 24, 2017.

  1. Alfred_Bham

    Alfred_Bham Been here awhile

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    You're very welcome!!

    I've really enjoyed your RR!!

    Ride Safe & Get to that Birthday Party!!

    I'm 70 & I know your MIL will appreciate you being there!!

  2. juno

    juno Long timer

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    Wow! That water crossing story is incredible. I am glad you or the bike did not get snagged on something underwater.
    Endeavor to persevere! Best of luck on the remaining parts.
  3. 805gregg

    805gregg Long timer

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    I told you the DR should carry a tow strap
    ratsGoneRogue likes this.
  4. dhilt

    dhilt Been here awhile

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    The ride out of Ephraim is awesome. Glad you got some warm clothes. Keep up the good work.

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
  5. ratsGoneRogue

    ratsGoneRogue Adventurer

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    Post #28

    September 23, 2017
    Ephraim, UT to Delta, UT
    Daily Miles: 111.6
    Cumulative Miles: 3,443.1


    When we got the KTM back from the mechanic in Ogden, it had some pop on deceleration. Over the course of the ride to Ephraim, this seemed to get a tad worse. (Or maybe it was this way before, but I chose not to hear it.) The bike was running lean. I began to surmise that the tech had reset my TPS to its original stock setting which, for my bike, was low. As we proceed to Delta, I begin to have concerns about the bike. More on this later.

    Out of Ephraim, the ride is great, taking us through the valley that separates the city of Ephraim from the San Pitch mountains to the west. We cross those mountains through a pass, which then gives us a view of yet another valley where the Yuba State Park is.

    File_000 (63).jpeg

    The road conditions are great. Wide, lightly graveled roads make for fast riding. We've got all our hunting gear on, so while it's about 47 degrees outside, it's tolerable, and our current status is sustainable. The trail takes us on winding roads, criss-crossing this valley until we enter the northern tip of Fishlake National Forest. There are a few moto-brothers and sisters here: it looks like a OHV riding area. We punch through this tip to the west side of the forest. The topography flattens out. I can see mountains in the distance, but a lot of flat between here and there.

    File_000 (62).jpeg

    We've been trying to outrun some rain since the morning, but this isn't going to work. It starts to rain on the approach to Delta. This part of the trail parallels both a railroad track and a highway. Dry, I'm sure it's fine, but it starts to turn to mud. We have one low speed wipeout, but bike and rider are just fine. While getting ourselves upright, we have a train pass near us. We wave hello, and the conductor let's the horn go wild. That was cool.

    It was time to do something about the bike, as it was starting to worry me. And riding in remote places with concerns about your bike...not a good mix. @msteward on this thread (above) indicated that there would be a mx race in Delta at the time we were there. (I would have never thought of that, given that the places we go seem to be so random, so small, so out of the way.) Sure enough, there was a MX race at the Bunker Hill race track in Delta, UT. Of course, what's at a mx race? All those I've been to have some kind of racer support, some dude to help you out with last minute bike problems. Lo and behold, Kenny from Inside Line is there with a full support truck. Kenny listens to the idle, listens to the bike rev and pop on deceleration. "Maybe it's an air leak," he says. He takes a can of brake cleaner and shoots it at the throttle body while the bike is running. The bike dies. "It's an air leak!" This guy is a wizard.


    @Alfred_Bham made the same diagnosis (above) with 1/100th of the information. We read his post after we got the bike fixed. But had we not gotten it fixed, this would have been another avenue of investigation.


    File_000 (61).jpeg

    He quickly tears down the bike and re-seats the throttle body. He checks out a few other spots that may be leaking. Puts the bike back together. Presto. Great sounding idle. No pop on decel. All looks good. Amanda and I watch the rain soaked mxers compete in the cold with our new friend Kenny. Nice way to finish out the day.

    There's a scrappiness to this sort of travel. You never know where the solution is going to come from or how things are going to play out. You proceed with a faith that everything will work out, while keeping forward motion toward what you think should be done. That plus a little help from your friends and you may just get to the end of the trail.




  6. advmoto66

    advmoto66 Ride On!

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    Awesome outcome, got to love ADVRIDER for it's inmates support, thanks for taking the time to share your RR while on the road. It takes a lot of effort to keep us entertained. Ride On! Happy Trails to you and the Mrs.
    ratsGoneRogue likes this.
  7. BornAgain

    BornAgain Been here awhile

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    You know whenever I've had trouble on a trip someone has always been there with a helping hand. The kindness of strangers or someone's always looking out for me. I believe the latter of coarse I've washed a few cars, cleaned up after supper, bought a few gallons of gas and always tried to do my part. I look at it this way if this flat, break down, ran out of gas had not happened then I would not have met some new friends. Glad to see ya'll going again.
    ratsGoneRogue likes this.
  8. Zaboo65

    Zaboo65 Been here awhile

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    I've really enjoyed your ride report! I hope to do my own trip, hopefully with my wife on her DR (if we get it running again). I'm glad to see that the DR was able to get through the mountains with no real issues. Your water crossing episode was one of my big fears (bike drowned!) and I was glad that you got it all sorted finally! Have a great ride the rest of the way to the Pacific, there are lots of us following along and wishing you both good luck!
    ratsGoneRogue and doglost1 like this.
  9. WilberMaker

    WilberMaker Adventurer

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    God Speed, Steve and Amanda! I love the last part of your post. Think I will quote you here so I don't forget it.

    " There's a scrappiness to this sort of travel. You never know where the solution is going to come from or how things are going to play out. You proceed with a faith that everything will work out, while keeping forward motion toward what you think should be done. That plus a little help from your friends and you may just get to the end of the trail. "
    doglost1 and chudzikb like this.
  10. ratsGoneRogue

    ratsGoneRogue Adventurer

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    Post #29

    September 24, 2017
    Delta, UT to Wendover, UT
    Daily Miles: 265.9
    Cumulative Miles: 3,708.9


    We are on the road for over 260 miles today. With the exception of minor traffic in Delta, UT (where we left), Baker, NV (our gas stop for the day) and Wendover, UT (the end point), we see exactly 6 moving cars all day. Of those 6 cars, 4 were on the final approach (about 10 miles) to Wendover, on route 93. The other two cars were spread out over the entire trip. Sometimes it feels like we are traversing the Sea of Tranquility on the moon.

    It's raining in the morning in Delta, UT. We are all suited up and waiting for it to stop: at least the radar pictures suggest that it will. But at about 9am we decide that we can wait no longer, as the day will be long. We get on the trail. The rain is light at the start, but it's been raining all night. As with other parts of the TAT, rain makes road conditions interesting. We negotiate a number of mud puddles in the morning, not getting stuck in one, but certainly getting quite dirty in the process. Mercifully, the rain is moving to points east. We are heading to the west. The rain goes away, but the clouds will stay for the rest of the day. The muck we ride through gets a little less, and we make some time.

    Fall is here and the temperatures are low. "Wait a sec," I hear over the radio from Amanda during a random part of the trip. "I think I am wearing seven layers on my top."

    "No way," I say. We count it up. She's wearing seven layers. She does look a little like a construction worker on the road, but I'm digging that high viz stuff in the rain here. That, plus the motivation to look cool or presentable left us long ago, maybe somewhere in Arkansas. We are 100% functional now. Whatever works.

    As indicated in my last post, once we broke through the Fishlake National Forest the terrain opens up. The vast expanse has mountains that punctuate the horizon. It's open. It's broad. It's huge. It feels like a lonely part of the world.

    File_000 (64).jpeg

    The trail meanders in and out of these mountain ranges, occasionally tackling a pass, but mostly staying in the open. The Pony Express used to run through these parts. We make our way out to a monument and some remains of a station. Not much but a square pile of rubble, but it's cool nonetheless. I can't help but think what the riders thought while galloping through this part of the world. Maybe some of the same thoughts we have today.


    File_000 (65).jpeg


    A handful of times, the Russian Thistle and sagebrush gives up its stranglehold on the land, and this golden brush sweeps over the landscape. I don't know what it is. It's about knee high. Looks a little like carpet over the land. It's a welcome change of scenery. When they call California, the Golden State, this is what I have in mind. But we are in Utah.


    File_000 (66).jpeg

    In the latter half of the day, the trail is wide, lightly graveled and fast. If one were so inclined, you could really open it up here, the roads are relatively straight and the visibility good. We make great time along on the trail into Wendover.

    I was apprehensive before the trip about the DR200 on some of these quasi-interstate roads in the West. I've tried it on a few freeways back in the Bay Area, and it really feels like your pushing the puny engine at freeway speeds. Additionally, Amanda doesn't feel so comfortable at high speed. So we are slow on these 70 mile-an-hour roads, as we anticipated, but it was a tradeoff we were willing to make. The bike is 250 pounds dry.
    The ride into Wendover is on one of these roads. We only see four cars. And of those cars, they pass without issue. So far, the tradeoff is working. We'll see how it goes from here.

    In the middle of August, Amanda and I drove a UHaul truck from San Francisco, CA to the start of the TAT in Andrews, NC to start the trail. From San Francisco, you take 80 east until Kansas until you make a right turn and head down south. I could be wrong, but the one place the TAT crosses Interstate 80 is Wendover, UT. On the way out, we pulled off into Wendover and drove the truck down the main street. The main street is part of the trail. "We might go through right here," I said to her. Five weeks later, we are back in the same spot.
  11. ratsGoneRogue

    ratsGoneRogue Adventurer

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    Post #30

    September 25, 2017
    A Brief Day in the Life


    0700
    We are up and taking breakfast at the hotel.

    0730
    Done with breakfast, we now begin the pre-launch process. Pack up the motobags, put on several layers of clothing, make any last minute information checks (weather, hotel, forest ranger call, etc.).

    0800
    Bikes idling and getting warm. Motobags packed up on the bikes. Check for any loose straps. Electronics on the bike. Leg over the bike. Kickstand up. Radios turned on. Plug into the PTT switch on the bike. "You copy me?" "Five by Five." "Copy that." Clutch out, and we are off.

    0800 until 1500-1700, depending on the day's itinerary.
    Ridin'

    1600
    Arrive at destination (hopefully). Ride to planned hotel and, hopefully, there is a room. Check in.

    1630
    Bike triage. While the chains are still warm, lube. Check chain tension. Adjust if needed. Check oil level. Add if needed. Check air filter. Clean and replace if needed. We usually fill up at the end of the day. Add fuel additive. Occasionally, an oil change. And any other random issues with the bike: add a zipty, clean, fix.

    1700 Shower and clean gear. Start charging electronics, radios and phone. Refill camelbaks. Amanda usually posts to Instagram.

    1800
    Dinner. Try to stay away from the chains. Search for something that's got good reviews. Hunt down anything that looks like a good vegetable on the menu. Go from there. Recap awesome moments/trials of the day. Make convo with waiter/waitress/other customers about the area.

    1930
    Return from dinner. Begin the next days preparation. Open up the maps. Look at the route. Compare with what I see on Google maps (terrain). Identify any milestones and tricky parts. Work through any detours or work arounds. Identify gas stations. Mark important spots with a waypoint in the Garmin. Make sure we've downloaded the relevant maps in the phone (as a backup). Plan another day out, tentatively. Where does tomorrow put us, and where would we potentially go the next day. What do the forest fires in Oregon look like. Idaho. Need a tire sometime in the future. Make arrangements.

    2130
    Put together post for Advrider. Work on video for Instagram.

    2230
    End the day. Pretty tired. Crash hard.
    Karl G., Reddog*, blalor and 11 others like this.
  12. juno

    juno Long timer

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    Thanks for the updates! Which tracks are you using? it looks like Sams. I hope this post isn't too late but the Bonneville salt flats are just outside of Wendover and the golden Spike is just before Trementon which is about a days ride. Two interesting land marks on the way.
    I was solo on the TAT about 6 weeks ahead of you and I just looked through my notes. Lots of washboard on the tracks to trementon. Some things coming up over the next two days, between trementon and Arco there is a section of the Craters of the moon road that is deeply rutted and hardened into cement, and from arco to Ketchum it is nice, but there was a road closure from sun Valley to Featherville. I do not know if there is a viable detour as of yet, someone else may chime in. I took 75 south from Sun Valley to 20 west to 168 and 61 to Pineville. Nice paved and curvy road up along the reservoir and there was gas in Pinvelle just before you pick up the TAT again at Featherville.
  13. WilberMaker

    WilberMaker Adventurer

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    In the photo of Amanda what is the cord with the large white thing going to her helmet? I assume it is a radio, but what is the white thing? What radio are you using?
  14. ratsGoneRogue

    ratsGoneRogue Adventurer

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    That is the connector between her helmet and her radio wiring harness. That connector is, apparently, rain proof and damage proof. Hence the large size.

    It was supplied by PCI Race Radios. (Search on "Motorcycle Kit" at https://www.pciraceradios.com/)

    Looks they've replaced that white connector with something black in the latest iteration.

    https://www.pciraceradios.com/colle...s/motorcycle-kit-kenwood2?variant=17458298309

    Speakers/boom mic in the helmet. Wiring harness that connects radio (Baofeng UV-5R), helmet and PTT button mounted on the handlebars. I have an identical setup. The reason we went with this system is that I already had it. It's what my riding group wears. Why did my riding group chose it? They had tried the Sena systems but they seemed to be limited in transmit distance. We've had more success in communicating with riders across a valley, on the other side of a mountain, with this system.
  15. ratsGoneRogue

    ratsGoneRogue Adventurer

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    Thanks for the kind words. We are using Sam's tracks. We hit both the Bonneville Salt Flats and the Gold Spike Museum. Write-up is forthcoming.

    That section in Craters of the Moon: I know exactly what you are talking about. It rained sometime in the last week and a lot of that hardened dirt turned to mud. We had to do a bit of off-roading to get around some parts. But it was a bear of a road.

    Thanks for the heads up on the road closure. That's up next. Information like this is going to save us a ton of time.
    BackRoadNomad and juno like this.
  16. ratsGoneRogue

    ratsGoneRogue Adventurer

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    Post #31

    September 26, 2017
    A beginner’s take on the TAT….


    I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I suggested we do the TAT.
    But I’ve learned a lot and thought I’d offer some random thoughts.


    First, I think it’s hard to rate the difficulty of rides. Much like many things in life, you need the context and experiences of someone before you listen to their opinions. So here’s mine.


    Before starting the TAT, here was my experience riding a motorcycle:

    • One day intro to dirt biking group class
    • Half day private lesson on dirt biking
    • Two day safety riding on pavement (also counted as my motorcycle license test)
    • Two days at the dirt bike park with Steve
    • Two day overnight trip with Steve (~100 miles total)

    That’s it. I had never ridden around cars. I had never taken my bike beyond 3rd gear. I couldn’t even consistently get into first gear without stalling. I bought a new bike (DR200) and put about 150 miles on it before we took it to start the TAT. I figured it was going to be a steep learning curve and somehow I’d figure it out.


    I was nervous about water crossings. I was nervous to go fast. I was nervous to be around cars. I was worried about crashing a lot. But mostly I didn’t think too much about any of these things. I have done a lot of things in my life that have taken me out of my comfort zone… and lived to talk about it.


    So on the first day in Andrews, NC, when within the first 5 minutes we are around a bunch of cars and then climbing up a big 4000 ft hill, I started to panic a little bit. I was wondering how I would ever get through the whole 5000 mile trip. I felt really uncomfortable. I started thinking about going over the passes in Colorado and wondering how I would do it.


    Then I spent the rest of that first day on an internal emotional rollercoaster telling myself:

    • By the time we get to Colorado, I am going to be a different rider
    • Holy crap, how am I going to get into first gear if I stall on a mountain?
    • I need to give myself a few days of this before I really panic.
    • Cars! So many cars!
    • One day at a time. I can only think about one day at a time. We can always bag this and go home.

    LOL. Seems like ages ago now.


    Yes, that’s how this started for me. You would have never known it though if you saw me. I am mostly a calm person on the outside. And I’m pretty good at ignoring myself. LOL.


    So now with that context and experience… I will tell you what I think about the TAT.


    The TAT is doable for anyone. That’s how I’d describe it.


    1. There are not that many cars. Some days we’ve seen only 3 cars all day. Some days we may see 100. But 100 really isn’t that many to me now. Sam told us that the point of the TAT was to get away from congested areas of the country and he’s done a good job at creating a trail that is rural. 95% of the time you ride in national forests and farmland. No interstates. On average we see closer to 3 cars, than 100, each day.
    2. Any rider that says the TAT (or parts of it) is really difficult was likely trying to ride it too fast. Sand, mud, deep gravel, ruts… yes the TAT has all of this (for short spurts) but I just take it at a speed I feel comfortable with … which is pretty slow. I’ve fallen twice so far… each time going (probably too) slow.
    3. Most of the water crossings are in Tennessee at the beginning. I could’ve walked my bike (if I wanted to) through all of them. No big deal. I was able to do all of them without too much trouble (not walking). Of course, if it’s raining or just heavily rained, then it’s a different story. In fact, the whole trail is a different beast if it’s raining. We have been lucky on the weather front with more or less no rain. If it does rain before we’re done, we’ll take a day or two off.
    4. The Colorado passes were built up way too much in my head. They were more challenging yes, but doable. I took them all (up and down) in first or second gear. I had one hill start I had to do but by this time I could consistently start in first gear, even on a mountain. :) I watched some videos before we did the passes, and that helped put my mind at ease a little. Watching competent riders on video do the TAT helped me. I quickly figured out that watching less competent riders on video do the TAT did not help me (so I didn’t watch those vids).
    5. I still don’t like going fast. But I now feel perfectly comfortable in fifth gear. Lol. But I haven’t gone more than 50 mph on this trip. I am actually not sure my bike would go more than 55 mph. Lol.
    6. I think the most grueling part of the trip was the 30+ miles of sand just outside of Moab, UT. But again, it’s doable.
    7. We are on day 30 of riding and I can say once I made it through the first several days of the learning curve, I actually started having fun and looking forward to what we would see each day.

    I hope this is helpful to all you folks that are trying to get your less experienced or hesitant partners out there with you. It’s a really interesting and fun way to see the country that you just don’t experience on I-80 driving across.
  17. advmoto66

    advmoto66 Ride On!

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    Amanda thanks for sharing your personal trials and tribulations. This RR rocks, thanks to both of you for taking the time to share while still on the trail. Ride on.:ricky
  18. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter

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    Enjoying your story so much-------and what great words you just spoke.
    Everyone should read that.
    I spent half my life being in a hurry. Man I wish I could go back and re-write that part of my life.

    BigDog...........pokin' along lookin' at stuff.
  19. ratsGoneRogue

    ratsGoneRogue Adventurer

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    Post #32

    September 25, 2017
    Wendover, UT to Tremonton, UT
    Daily Miles: 171.8
    Cumulative Miles: 3,880.7


    It doesn't take long to get out of town, leaving Wendover, UT. Head east out of the city, take a left to go north and you arrive in the Bonneville Salt Flats. This is a really cool space, one where many land speed records have set. It's flat salt bed almost all the way to the horizon. Shame on us for forgetting to take a picture.

    After a quick high-five at the Bonneville Salt Flats, we head northwest over to the Toano Mountain Range. Here, we don't forget to take a picture. This is 30 minutes outside of Wendover.

    File_000 (67).jpeg

    The roads are the width of two cars, lightly graveled and fast. And with the exception of the washboard, we make good time. It's still cold out, and when we left Wendover it was 45 degrees. But soon in the middle of the day, it warms to a balmy 58 degrees. It makes a difference. This is a view of the same range but from the north looking south.

    File_000 (68).jpeg

    The landscape is similar to what we've been traveling through for the last 300 or so miles: wide open spaces that have singular mountain ranges that run through. You travel from range to range, fitting nice through a pass and down into the next open space. After the Toano Range, its the Bovine range and Immigrant Pass next. After Wendover, we head back east to points north of Ogden and Salt Lake City (where we just where three days ago). The trail is backtracking, and it's odd to see an "Heading East" on the Garmin. The TAT used to go through Nevada ("But Nevada doesn't maintain its roads so well," Sam tells us four weeks earlier), but now it goes through Idaho.

    Also like the previous two days, there is no one around. We see three cars today. 2 of those are trucks that pass on a highway that we cross briefly. The third is a car parked at a wildlife refuge. Outside of those three, cars, we see no humans for the day. The trail is ours for more than 150 miles.

    But that we didn't see humans doesn't mean that we didn't see traces of human activity. The area is rich in history, and our first stop is Lucin, UT. I remember seeing a sign for this city as we arrived in the area, and there was nothing there. but railroad tracks. Why do they have this sign for a city that doesn't exist? Well, had we been here 150 years ago, this area would have been a bustling station on the trans continental railroad. Later it would be the start of a shortcut that was built across the Great Salt Lake.

    Kelton is another town we pass. Again, nothing there but a cemetery. But the plaque reads that this town saw something like 10 trains a day in its heyday. The town is in view of the Great Salt Lake today. That and the cemetery is the only connection to humanity now.

    We had identified the Golden Spike Museum near Promontary Summit as a place we wanted to visit. We are cold when we get there, but we do it. We like museums, especially the history kind like this one. The documentary there, as well as the exhibits, are fun. We enjoy our time there and are glad we went.

    File_000 (69).jpeg

    The rest of the ride from the museum on to Tremonton is uneventful. We pull into the hotel parking lot. We strip Amanda's bike to do an air filter change, grab a cookie from near the front counter and are done for the day.

    We are almost done with Utah.


  20. ratsGoneRogue

    ratsGoneRogue Adventurer

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    Post #33

    September 27, 2017
    Tremonton, UT to Arco, ID
    Goodbye Utah, Hello Idaho
    Daily Miles: 218.6
    Cumulative Miles: 4,099.3


    Tremonton is cold in the morning. High thirties when we leave. Ugh.

    Outside Tremonton and into Idaho, the trail takes you into farmland. The layout smacks of Oklahoma with grid layouts and well used land. But the roads are a fraction of the length, and the immediate vicinity is ringed by small mountains. As we ride through this area, my first thought is that this is a transition area. Sam is taking us up to the Sawtooths, and this is just a way to get there. Kind of like we are at a play, and the stage crew is re-arranging the props and furniture for the next scene. My second thought is that this area is similar to the area I ride north of San Francisco on the weekends. A "transition area" for the TAT is the best I can do in my local area.

    There are nuggets. Yes, we've passed dozens of dilapidated barns on the trail, but I'm particularly impressed by those that lean to one side. Kind of like a Leaning Tower of Pisa.
    File_000 (70).jpeg

    Soon after we pass this house, we are on a dirt road in the hills. Up ahead, the trail is blocked by a long trailer unloading cattle into a corral. We come to a stop just in time to see a cowboy pull out from behind the trailer. I don't use the word "cowboy" loosely here. This guy was from central casting. Ten gallon hat, blue button down, cowboy boots, riding a black horse, with a large lasso draped off the saddle horn. I'm guessing that lasso was for professional purposes, too. Not for show. As he rides by us, I try to think of something cool to say, but nothing comes to me. I feel like in these situations -- the presence of true coolness -- it is better to say nothing than it is to flub it and look like a gomer. As he rides passed, he says nothing. Touches the brim of his hat and goes about his day. I think of asking if I can become part of his posse, but my better judgement wins out and we ride on.

    We roll into Idaho. American Falls is a quick stop, and we grab a burger at the "Falls Chill and Grill." We continue. Outside of American Falls, we head towards the Craters of the Moon National Monument. To get there, we travel a road called the Crystal Ice Cave Road. This is the first challenge of the day.

    Crystal Ice Cave Road takes full concentration. It's deeply rutted by four wheelers that tore up the earth during wet periods. In addition to the deep ruts, there are pools of mud and water 100 yards. Pick the wrong line and you're likely to get stuck in a mud bog, and the day is going to get dirty. We come to a the first such mud bog that spans the entire road. Hmm, "how do we get through this one?"

    I see a path that goes off the road, and I am reluctant to take it (tread lightly). But it seems the only way through. As I am contemplating this, I'm approaching at idle speed. Amanda passes me to the right, goes off road, through a break in the bushes, and continues on down the road on the other side of the bog. She's picking her own lines now, and doing a great job of it. It occurs to me that there is more danger in my looking back for her (and taking my eyes of the road), than there is benefit in offering whatever advice I can provide. She continues to become a better rider.

    I've already used my "Sea of Tranquility" metaphor, but if I could re-use it and weaken the narrative, the Craters of the Moon National Monument might fit the description. It's a lava wasteland with some shoots of golden plant spurting out the cracks. The area doesn't lend itself to iPhone landscape shots, but here's our attempt.

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    Here's an iPhone pano shot. Not sure if these work, but I'll try.

    File_000 (72).jpeg


    Craters of the Moon takes us the afternoon to get through, and it pretty much looks like what you see above in all directions. A highlight came in the form of an usual cattle grate crossing. We've been through dozens of these. As I approached one particular grate here, I didn't think twice to check my speed. It was painted red (they are all a dark grey or black), but still I didn't think anything of it. As I was 20 feet away, I noticed that this one was a ramp. An upside down V. It was a jump. Opps. I was committed now, so I hold throttle and as the front wheel hits, I give a little gas. The bike launches in the air, lands and bottoms on the other side. I quickly radio back: "slow down for that next grate!!"

    At the end of the day, we roll into the Arco, Idaho. We stop at the Lost Creek Motel.

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    The woman behind the counter wears a "You've Entered the Twilight Zone" t-shirt. Amanda and I walk up. "Do you have a room for the night," Amanda asks.

    "Yes, we do." An awkward pause of unusual duration follows. When we usually ask this question, the respondent usually supplies the options available and so forth. It's a well rehearsed exchange, I think. We stand looking at the woman and she looking at us. I think, "well, with the appearance of this place and this stoic woman at the other side of the table, maybe we are in the twilight zone."

    Amanda breaks the silence.
    "So may we have one of them tonight?"