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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by rebelpacket, Jul 27, 2013.
As a fellow Ural owner and dog lover.....Hank and I are in for this one. Great report.
Not to worry. Karma debt only extends so far. Look at it as another "long strange trip" w/piss poor planning but probably just fine for most of the happy campers.
The Rainbows left a huge mess of garbage last time they were here in potatoland - early 2000's??? I have no issues with hippies dosing and dancing in the woods except when it impacts the land and other users.
This picture is messing with my brain. What's causing that strange mountain shadow?
Ural Good Vibes?
Thanks for sharing your adventures and writing skills with us. You are one of the few people I have read who has really been able to describe what it is like to travel in the back country on a motorcycle. Zen and the Art of Uralling, if I may make that comparison. It has put a smile on my face for sure.
I am reading your RR with interest. My KLR is waiting for me at the airport in Denver, and my GDR adventure starts on 8-13-13. I have been taking notes on both the GDR and your route north.
I also have a 3 year old son who loves motorcycles, dogs, and camping. I believe we have a Ural in our future. It is good to see that Urals have come a long way since I rode one 10 years ago. I checked out your fabrication of the exhaust over at your Smugmug account. I was thinking that you should have added another hanger on the pipe, and made the muffler bracket a little heavier..... Glad to see it was only a minor inconvenience.
I think your instincts were spot on in regards to getting involved with he "Hippees". Eventually the Sheriff is going to show up, and check out what kind of illegal smiles that they have. You did not want to be around for that. There were a myriad of things that could have gone wrong. No Kharma points lost for good judgement.
Write on Bro,
Im unsure what exactly set the mood off so right for the morning of our 12th day. Maybe it was feeling human again after a shower, or the belly full of vegetables, cheese and pizza dough. Either way, I woke rested and excited to take the Ural somewhere new. Lola on the other hand, preferred to sleep on the floor until we started tripping over her.
I got to work boiling some water right away in the ritualistic exchange of coffee. That first aromatic sip in the morning is a pure golden Kodak moment. Just think how many massive moments in civilization have all started with a cup of coffee. Soldiers in deep jungles with rifles, scientists in labs, and scruffy, unshaven motorcyclists riding to Mexican glory.
I suppose every group of friends traveling needs to have the guy that breaks down all the time, and while I cant say Im happy about wearing that backpack, Ill do it for my friends. While I was enjoying my morning coffee, I noticed that the rear tire I had spooned on yesterday evening was now flat.
It would seem the gorilla that spooned it on, had fat-fingered something and managed to pinch-flat a new tube. No bother, even this minor setback couldn't stop my enthusiasm for the day. New tube went in, inflated at the gas station and finally ready to roll. Wayne kept a careful eye on quality control to ensure that they wouldn't have to wait in some downpour somewhere while I did this again.
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This is what a good nights sleep and a belly full of pizza will do for your spirits.
A cool sunny morning, we cruised down US 20 at Ural Speed for a while, before turning off on the Mesa Falls scenic byway. It was on the side of this road that we came up with a solution for a growing doggie problem.
You see, I can supply Lola with treats all throughout the ride. I reach into a pocket, pull one out, and shes a happy dog. Unfortunately, being in a backpack and so far away from accessable snacking, Simon felt he wasnt getting an equal number of treats, and it had created some drama in the camp.
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Just as helicopters and jets refuel mid-air, we were able to resupply Simon with an intact biscuit of cardboard consistency while oscar-mike. The maneuver was tricky though, with a high risk for motorcycle-sidecar entanglement (which almost always ends in dismemberment).
Now whenever I rode up next to Wayne, Simon would stick his head out like a refueling chute, ready for a stream of buddy treats.
Over fields of varying crops, the Teton range grew steadily on the horizon. Good chip-seal roads with rolling hills kept things interesting on this otherwise straight, forgettable road section.
More abandoned dreams litter the ranching property. Some are used for storage, and Im sure some are used by motorcyclists and cyclists alike as shelter when the skies open up.
We finally hit the dirt on NF-621, and despite passing some Rough Road signs, it was really well maintained. It was fairly straight, with a few deceitful sharp corkscrews and right-angle turns to keep you from really wicking it up.
As we pressed on, deeper into the Targhee national forest, the road started to live up to the signs we saw so early on. Some protruding shelf-rock was abundant in some areas, which made for a very jarring ride.
Not for Wayne and Zina though. As they zipped by me, I heard rapacious Whoohooo! noises from their helmets. They are both exceptional riders, and these roads are just easy cruising for them.
And then we crossed some magic line in national park operating budget, turning the rough roads into a winding ribbon of smooth, almost manicured gravel. The trees grow right up to the edge of the road here, thinning out briefly before thickening up in plots that rush by in a pulsing rhythm.
But the good gravel times couldnt last forever, and all too soon we found ourselves slowly idling behind an endless parade of rental-rvs, motorhomes, huge coach-style buses and overloaded minivans packed with families of 10 touring Grand Teton National Park.
Youd think with this impressive scenery, itd be a relaxing, easy cruise just looking around in awe and wonder. And it is, to a point. You can only see it in glimpses, since the motor pool parade is prone to sudden stops, or violent maneuvers whenever someone gets a glimpse of something that looks like a wild animal.
I love to see people out enjoying their national forests. Being fortunate enough to have grown up in the woods has given me and my brothers a lifetime of memories that I hope other folks get to experience. However, more often than not, these Teton and Yellowstone simply turn into a drive-through zoo of sorts.
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Case in point, the video above. Despite the volunteers trying to wave people away from the wild baby bear (where is mama?) they are still jamming in to every available spot without a cone, or standing on their hoods with 30,000$ lenses trying to get that National Geographic shot.
If you want to see (and really see) the parks, go in the spring, or fall. The colder temps and snow keep most of the tourists away, and youll have a much better chance to experience the place without 25,000 of your closest strangers.
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Despite the slow-n-go traffic, and the construction, there was a silver lining in the chaos of diesel fumes and brake lights. A construction worker threw his hands up and started clapping and laughing at Lola in the Ural. I raised my hand, and he gave me an enthusiastic high-five. Thankfully, Zina was rolling the whole time and captured it in ones and zeros.
With the sun directly overhead, it was time for lunch. Right around 12:00 noon, everyone in the group starts to get a little chippy. Simon barks, Lola whines, and the humans desperately squint at the horizon for any signs of civilization and sandwiches. The Buffalo Ranch Cafe served up some great grub, adorned with freshly cut french fries. Huge bonus points for shaded outdoor seating and the waitress bringing water for the dogs.
Wayne and I both enjoy debating and discuss various issues at length, while usually Zina rolls her eyes and wishes she was somewhere else. I think in this picture Wayne and I were attempting to solve our countrys immigration problems. While we dont always come to a consensus, I always leave the discussion with some new ideas and questions I wouldnt have thought of on my own.
Back on a short segment of trail after lunch. There are a lot of snowmobile trails in the area, which are always of varying quality. Turpin Meadows Rd was in great shape, with hundreds of wildflowers in bloom through the meadows.
Sadly, the dirt ended too soon, and we found ourselves at Togwotee Lodge, back on US-26. Togwotee had rows and rows of pristine snowmobiles lined up in long rows, waiting patiently for signs of winter, or transport to a warm garage.
On US-26 we hit another divide marker, and one of the highest elevations weve been on this trip so far. While Zina and Wayne added clothing to combat the colder temps, I checked my spark plugs. A little black and sooty up here, so I gave 1/4 of a turn on the idle mix screws. Heaved on the kick starter once and the Ural came to life with a nice even idle, instead of a sickly rich lope.
Though pavement is usually boring in comparison, this portion of US-26 was positively radiant. Large sweeping bends with some majestic peaks in clear view along the way.
We left the pavement at US-26, for Warm Springs Creek Rd.
The first portion of this road was a beautiful, well groomed forest service road. Absent of large buried rocks or large potholes, The Ural made good speed through the forest.
Despite being around 9000 feet for most of Union Pass Road, the Ural was running and pulling very strong. Its amazing how much difference a quarter turn on a mixture screw can make. The Ural is from a different time, where checking spark plugs, or noodling with carbs wasnt seen as service, but simply a part of ownership and daily riding. Getting into Ural ownership with the set it and forget it mindset, is only setting a date with mechanical sadness.
Lola didnt need any re-jetting though, and took some time to smell the wildflowers. Its a shame it wasnt later in the day, as this would have made a beautiful camp spot.
Some parts of Union Pass Road were very tricky though, and large washed out sections caused quite a bumpy ride for Lola and I. Coming down the other side into the green river area, was absolutely hellacious. Buried baby heads distributed randomly across the road didnt give us any clear three-wheeled path. Every rock, or section of washed out trail came one step closer to ripping my arms from their sockets. Lola went through her own misery, being bounced and tossed randomly into the air by the buried rocks.
When I met up with Wayne and Zina near Green River Lakes road, I was throughly exhausted. The mileage was not bad, maybe 15-20 miles of bad roads, but it had taken me quite a long time to plod through all that. I laid down and tried to soothe my aching back and shoulders. For the first time in the whole trip, I hit a bit of a low point.
They say that riding well, is the best revenge. The roads after the hour long pogo-stick competition rejuvenated my spirits after the rattling section. Some deep gravel in the turns with wide open views of the road and surrounding countryside brought me out of my low point.
We were back on the pavement all the way into Pinedale, where we refueled and refit our supplies for a meal. We rode a bit out of our ways to a campground just off Half Moon Lake. The campground was bursting at the seams. The only campsite we could find had a reserved marker on it. However, the reserved tag was for the next day. It was a stealthy steal from the endless loop of RV's and trucks towing coaches looking for a spot.
While unpacking and setting up camp, Wayne made a startling discovery. The rocky roads had bumped his can of bearspray against a jetboil canister for one bump too many. It discharged in his saddlebag.
It covered his sleeping bag and some other key items. The fun didnt end there though. While dealing with this mess, Wayne accidentally rubbed his nose with a scant trace of the spray on his fingers. Immediately a burn set in. He did his best to tough it out, but the burn started to grow and grow.
It ended with Wayne dunking his head repeatedly into this scenic lake behind our campsite. Only once he had flushed the trace amount of bearspray out of his nose, did he being to recant the building pain. Every man has his limit, and Wayne suggested that he was getting close to his own, right before he baptized his nasal cavities in the lake.
We ate our communal meal of tortellini, veggies and sauce with some dinner rolls while darkness fell. Tomorrow wed be pushing through The Big Empty. 210 dirty, dusty miles through the Great Divide Basin into Rawlins, WY. We all agreed to try and knock the whole big, bad basin out in one day.
Early to bed tonight. Long day in the saddle through the desert tomorrow.
Days Mileage: 232 miles
Total Mileage: 2,070 miles
Looking back from a legal perspective, you are probably correct. Their unwillingness to leave the van and hoof it, leads me to believe there might have been some paraphernalia in there with them.
However, it wasn't that long ago in our own country, anyone with a motorcycle jacket was turned away from diners. Most riders didn't dare ride into a motel parking lot to find a room for the night, as the "No Vacancy" sign would light up the moment the ignition was off.
In hindsight, I would have given them a ride on the sidecar fender or something. We all have wildly different tales of our first motorcycle rides, and we've all made some pretty idiotic mistakes. These kids are still students of the road, no matter what weird choices in life they may have made.
Its the HDR function on my camera not keeping up speed with the on-the-fly shots. It essentially takes two photos simultaneously and then merges the lighting values together.
But I do like the "Ural Good Vibes" description better. Fits the mood of that photo. :)
"Admitting defeat, I quickly put on pants"
Haven't we all...
And Pascal is a software programmer - hmmm...
I had thought of that. Seemed like a strong coincidence.
Me: "Oh, your name is Pascal, what do you program?"
However, he was far to laissez-faire to be someone on the run from the law.
Enjoying the journey!. Tip: You may want to stick to riding and leave the dancing for the pros... just sayin'!!
Really enjoying your writing style and pictures. My brothers and I did this trip a few years ago...no sidecar or dogs....Enjoy!
Awesome RR. I wanna replicate this trip
Thanks for taking us along on this ride. Your writing style is great and I love the pics. Having your 4-legged furry friends along also is plus. I love it.
I have subscribed and I am in for the whole ride. Keep it up!
Well written RR, its a joy to read.
The tubes you use, are these regulars? If so maybe you should try some thicker cross tubes.
Enjoy the road!
I will do about anything for a stranger, but i like my dog more than most people. I'm sorry, but if it means leaving my dog with some possibly drugged up hippies they can just walk.
Concur. No way I'm leaving my dog with a bunch of losers. They could walk till hell froze over before I left my dog with them. Good call on your part.
I nominate for front page!!
(...how do I do that for real again?)