2 Dirtbags on the Continental Divide

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Eastbay Dirtbag, Nov 13, 2006.

  1. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    The SO (California-speak for Significant Other, Better Half, Domestic Partner, Spouse, The Old Ball and Chain, Help-Mate for Life,:crash , well you get the idea...) and I headed from the Bay Area on KLR650s through southern Nevada and Utah to Colorado where we hooked up with the Great Divide Route and rode through Wyoming to Idaho before heading home. We were on the road for two weeks and had a fantastic time. We're already planning on doing more of the Route next year.

    Feb 2019 edit: I created tracks that I think represent what we did back in July 2006. See bottom of post 1 for tracks.

    Day 1 SF Bay Area - Tonapah NV
    We headed out during the heat wave that hit the country in late July. We were happy to escape the heat for a while in Yosemite.

    Heading to the high country
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    Tenaya Lake break. A great start to a great ride. [​IMG]
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    We crossed over Tioga Pass and headed east on 120 past Mono Lake, leaving the Sierras behind. :ricky (Love these smilie thingies!)

    Tioga Pass
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    It was our first time in this corner of California near the Nevada border and it was surprisingly scenic.


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    After about 50 miles we dropped in elevation and the temperature soared.
    :knary We kept moving to keep from melting. We were both wearing mesh jackets and Camelbacks filled with ice water otherwise we would have gotten severely dehydrated. :1drink I have a high tolerance for heat but the SO does not. On the flip side, the SO is from The Great White North and can tolerate the cold whereas I turn blue walking past the frozen foods section of the grocery store.

    We took Hwy 6/95 to Tonopah where we stopped for the night. Along the way we dodged the biggest duststorm I've ever seen (and I've lived in New Mexico and west Texas.)

    Day 2 Tonopah NV - Panguitch UT
    The next day was a hot dash across Nevada on 6/375/93. 375 is known as The Extraterrestial Highway due to flying saucer sightings etc. No alien abductions this time. :rofl

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    The scenery is not very dramatic but I'm a desert rat so I still enjoyed it. We had Continental TKC's and these did not hold up well in the heat. We had better luck with them last year in cooler temps when we rode to Alaska. Later in this trip we switched to Avon Gripsters and we've been happy with those.

    We crossed into Utah and the scenery improved immensely east of Cedar City as we climbed up a river canyon on 14/143 toward Brian Head. We passed Cedar Breaks which is a teaser for the upcoming red rock country.
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    We stayed in Panguitch, which was a pleasant little town. We rinsed out our dirty socks and hung them outside figuring no one would want to take biker scum socks. We were right.

    Day 3 Panguitch UT - Silverton CO
    We took Hwy 12 past Bryce Canyon (been there, done that), wanting to get away from the tourist traffic. You don't have to go far to escape! Just past Escalante we came to this overlook.
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    One photo doesn't do it justice. It needs two.
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    Woohoo! This road was awesome. It twists. It turns. It climbs. It drops. No guardrails either! The pioneers who blazed this route through here were some pretty tough cookies.

    In Boulder we gassed up and headed down the Burr Trail. If you are a dual-sporter you MUST ride this road. The road is paved until you enter the Waterpocket Fold section of Capital Reef NP.
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    And it keeps getting better: :rayof
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    The road is about 70 miles long. After this section we only saw one car. It was as if we had this corner of Utah to ourselves, miles and miles of country with no other roads, no power lines, no mailboxes, no signs of civilization within sight except the Trail. :wings
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    Dreaming of neopolitan ice cream:
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    The Trail ends at Bullfrog on Lake Powell. The temp was 110F in the shade but there is no shade. We crossed the desert by ferry to Hall's Crossing.
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    We picked up Hwy 276 and made another hot dash. Pretty scenery but we were spoiled by what we had just passed through. We turned east on 95 and entered more awesome red rock country. No photos because we were hungry. We had planned for lunch in Bullfrog, but would have missed the ferry, so we skipped it and our stomachs were protesting.

    We got gas and gobbled down convenience store food in Blanding. Then it was on to Monticello where we picked up old Hwy 666, but it has been renumbered by the PC'ers. Don't recall the new number. We crossed into Colorado and got to Cortez before we had to replace the broken hose clamps barely holding our PVC tool tubes to the bikes. The new clamps broke later in the trip. Heavy duty zip ties have held up better.

    We jumped on Hwy 160 to Durango then The Million Dollar Hwy 550, to Silverton to meet friends who were dirt biking. Hwy 550 is famous for fantastic views and switchbacks. But we were trying to make it before dark so no pics. My bike seemed to mis-fire at the two high passes on this road (10K and 11K ft).

    Day 4 Silverton CO - Salida CO
    The next day an old friend, Dennis the Menace, joined us for the climb over Engineer Pass to Lake City. We gassed up in Silverton and the bike ran fine over the 12.8K ft pass. I didn't have any more trouble with it.

    gold mill ruins near Silverton
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    Heading to Animas Forks below the pass before it turns to high-clearance 4-wheel route.
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    We have done Engineer's pass a few times on dirt bikes but never on fully loaded KLRs. They worked great. A little unsettling on the first switchback and set of rock steps, but give it some gas and it pulls. :clap

    visiting with Dennis at the top and enjoying the view
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    at the pass obligatory photo
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    The road on the other side of the pass follows a river canyon past more mining ruins. You'll have to go to see them yourself. No photos here. :wink:
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    Attached Files:

    #1
  2. BDKW1

    BDKW1 KL"X" not "R"

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    Nice!
    #2
  3. sixer

    sixer I suffer from Ainrofilac

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    Is there a part 2? If not great looking photos. :lurk
    #3
  4. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Looks great!! Don't stop now.. more pics!! :thumb

    :lurk
    #4
  5. OnlyVees

    OnlyVees Moto-journalist

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    You are very fortunate to have an SO who enjoys ADV-stuff. More pics please. :clap
    #5
  6. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 4 cont'd
    OK. Let's see where we left our 2 intrepid travellers -- they were grinning from ear to ear after crossing Engineer Pass and heading to Lake City.

    Years ago we rode our dirt bikes into Lake City to get gas and the place was EMPTY. No one in sight. A sleepy little bump in the road. Barely a town. :bore THIS time we could hardly find a place to park! It was mobbed. Times have changed. We parted ways with Dennis the Menace, since he was returning to Silverton.

    Onwards and upwards to Slumgullion Pass at 11.4k ft. :super Slumgullion is some sort of stew. Perhaps it was popular with the gold miners. This area is infamous for Alfie Packer, a ne'er-do-well who cannibalized his partners when things went badly in the winter. "Hmmm, what ya got in the stew, Alfie?".

    At the top of the Pass, we picked up a forest road toward 10.5k ft Los Pinos Pass and miles of beautiful green valleys, ranches, canyons and meadows. We could have taken a gazillion photos in these area. :smile6
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    Each curve brought another lovely vista. I envied the ranchers living in this idyllic countryside until I thought of Alfie Packer and what it must be like to live secluded all winter. We passed 4 other dual sporters heading in the other direction. With the exception of one rider in Wyoming, these would be the only other ds'ers we would see on the rest of the trip.
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    We headed up Marshall Pass near Salida. The stormclouds brewing ahead didn't portend of sunny skies. Thunderstorms frequently hit the high passes in mid-afternoon. In true Colorado style, today would be no exception. Just as we reached the pass, the skies opened. It rained in torrents until the road was underwater. Then it hailed. Lightning flashed around us and cracks of thunder shook our dental fillings.

    We worked our way down the other side of the pass unable to see the road surface. Ouch, a rut. Oww, a rock. People sitting out the storm in their SUVs looked at us like we were nuts. :locoWe smiled and waved. :wave We we having a blast. We spent the night in Salida.

    Day 5 Salida CO - Dillon CO
    The next day was beautiful and sunny. We headed out on Road 175 into the mountains and "parks" east of town, which provided a fantastic view back to the Collegiate peaks. I think we've found where we want to move.
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    North from Salida we kept stopping and taking photos and dawdling along. It was too beautiful to rush through. There was no traffic except for antelope and some bison. [​IMG]
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    We found a way around this
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    Did anyone say wildflowers? Yup. They were there too. [​IMG]
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    You can't get much cuter than a baby buffalo.
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    After the historic little town of Como, the road climbed up to Boreas Pass. Looking back toward Como.
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    Right on cue, the afternoon thunderstorm hit as we reached the top. This seems to be a trend. That's why we packed raingear! Let 'er roll. :ricky
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    We thought the worst was over but the heart of the storm didn't hit until after we descended the Pass, crawled through Breckenridge traffic and reached I-70 heading to Dillon. The sky turned black and all hell broke lose again. Fortunately we didn't have far to go before we were warm and cozy and dry in our room. Life is good. :norton

    Day 6 Dillon CO - Steamboat Springs CO
    We headed north on Hwy 9 to Ute Pass. From the Pass, we could admire the peaks of the Eagles Nest Wilderness to the west.
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    The route passed to the east of the Williams Fork Mountains. There were no more vehicles after we hit dirt on the other side of the Pass. Our companions along this stretch.
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    We gassed up in Kremmling and picked up Route 1 towards the Colorado River. The river is popular for rafting so occasionally a bus hauling rafts would pass. Otherwise traffic was still scarce.
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    I think this is the area where lasvegasrider crashed and broke his hand. (Hope he's on the mend. Here's some get well flowers.) The road gets narrower and steeper through here and more fun before following a canyon down to cross Hwy 134 near Gore Pass.
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    Not far from here we came to the only water crossing of our trip.
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    An old stage stop
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    It was pretty and scenic from here to Steamboat but not dramatic. We passed a road grader at work that turned to roadbed to powder for miles. We encountered the most off-road traffic of the trip through here although there didn't seem to be lots of houses to account for it.
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    Steamboat Springs was a zoo. I hadn't been there in 25 years and, my oh my, how it has changed. Gone is the sleepy little ski town that I remember. We didn't make any reservations on this trip, preferring to wing it. Everyplace was booked because of a little league tournament. We finally scored a room at a nice place set back from the highway. (We had camping gear so we could always head into the mountains and pitch the tent.)

    Day 7 Steamboat Springs CO - Rawlins WY
    From Steamboat we took 44 and 129 to the blink-and-you'll-miss-it town of Clark. This was a scenic stretch and it only got better from here. :clap
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    Oops missed the turn by a few miles.
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    Back on track
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    The road got rocky through here but it was some of the most fun riding of the trip.
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    We also took an "interesting" wrong turn to a dead end campsite. As usual, it never looks as steep as it was, yada, yada. The mighty KLRs pulled it like champs. :gdog
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    The view from the campsite
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    We crested a saddle and the descent was the steepest and loosest of the trip, but ok if we didn't pick up too much speed. None of the Great Divide Route that we covered was difficult.
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    The Great Divide Route was mapped out by the Adventure Cycling Association for mountain bikers. I felt sorry for the bikers who were pushing their bikes up this grade. One of them had panniers made from plastic kitty litter buckets. Creative.

    There were virtually no vehicles from here until Rawlins Wyoming. Only lots and lots of antelope.
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    Wyoming border
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    Plenty of elbow room
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    Toto, we're not in Colorado anymore...
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    The temperature soared again.
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    We reached Rawlins and got a hotel near the truck stop, where you could buy almost anything: candy by the barrel, black leather jackets, antifreeze, mudflaps with the chrome girl, etc. You could even get a little salvation in the parking lot.
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    More later as our 2 Dirtbags head into the Big Empty.
    #6
  7. nevgriff64

    nevgriff64 .

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    Sensational photo`s..:clap :clap

    You have a very good eye for what it takes.. Well done.. :thumb
    #7
  8. SgtMarty

    SgtMarty Retired, baby!

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    "Esposas" in Spanish is the same word for "wife" and "handcuffs."
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  9. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Wow! :thumb

    :lurk
    #9
  10. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 8 Rawlings WY - Lander WY
    From Rawlins there is a long stretch of busy highway. We turned west into wide-open country, without a tree, house, ranch or mailbox in sight. We saw one dual sporter headed in the opposite direction.

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    The only sign of civilization was an abandoned shack, the road and some power lines.[​IMG]

    Here is the last shade for 100 miles. What good is a tank with a door?
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    As ride leader, I watched herds of pronghorn before they bolted away. My poor spouse didn't get to see hardly any because they spooked when I shut off my engine.
    "Did you see those pronghorns?"
    "No."
    Miles later. "Did you see THOSE pronghorns?"
    "No."
    Repeat.

    I learned to slow roll, but not stop, so I wouldn't frighten them.
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    I spotted a large badger. It dove into its burrow and flung clouds of dirt as it dug deeper. This was thrilling because I had never seen one before. I couldn't get a photo in time.

    We came upon a herd of wild horses. WOW. This was another thrill because neither of us had seen any before. We only saw one other herd close up. The rest were only noticeable by the dust they raised as they galloped out of sight.

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    For the next 100 miles we would not see another human or vehicle. Definitely not the place to break down.
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    The route eventually intersected the Oregon Trail. WOW. The real thing. It would be cool to do an Oregon Trail trip sometime. I'm a history buff so it's neat to read about someplace and then go see it. I read a fantastic book about the Klondike gold rush before our trip to Alaska and it made it much more intriguing.


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    The road dropped into the ghost town of Atlantic City. We beelined to the saloon for a cold drink and lunch. :dutch Inside we spoke to a few bicyclists getting ready enter The Basin. One asked, "Are there any stores along the way?" I almost choked. [​IMG] We warned them about the heat and lack of shade, civilization and water. I don't think they completely believed us.


    Our tires, new at the start, had worn quickly on the hot desert highway. We could probably finish the Divide but the return home would be dicey. We headed to the nearest dealer, Lander Marine & Kawasaki.


    Red Rock canyon outside of Lander.

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    In Lander the temp climbed to 107F. Soon we had new Avon Gripsters and were ready to rock & roll. :ricky


    Stay tuned for Leaving the Big Empty. :deal
    #10
  11. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

    Joined:
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    Day 9 Lander WY - Dubois WY
    Instead of backtracking, we headed into the Wind River mountains on a dirt road toward the Divide Route in Atlantic City. The Loop Road climbed to 10,000 ft and passed several scenic lakes before dropping to where we left off yesterday.

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    We passed through another ghost town, South Pass City, and were back on track. The cemetary overlooked the town and struck me as a sad and lonely place to be buried. :cry Although the view isn't bad.

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    We took a short section of highway to our next turn. There was a large historical marker on the left side. I cannot pass up a historic marker. I flipped on my left turn signal and slowed to make the turn. Since the brakes are so bad on a KLR, you don't make sudden stops.

    A double row of about 12 Harleys was coming up fast behind me. I watched to see if they would shift to my right or ignore my signal and pass on my left. These yahoos passed me ON BOTH SIDES. I held a straight line and prayed that none of them would clip me. It took a while for me to calm down. We had ridden 2,000 miles and I almost get taken out by Harleys in the boonies! :becca :jerko

    Oh well, back to our story...

    The part was very scenic and we were right on the Continental Divide. The majestic Wind River Range rose to the east.

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    The road turned into a roller-coaster. This guy must have taken the proceeding hill too fast. He's facing the direction he came from.
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    We crossed the Oregon Trail several times. We met a couple more bicyclists and stopped to chat.
    Buckskin Joe crossing.

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    Nest near Pinedale
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    We wanted to follow the Gros Ventre River into Jackson instead of taking highway, but we weren't certain if we could connect the roads and trails. We stopped at the ranger station in Pinedale. It was Sunday, technically the station was closed and most of the rangers were out fighting a fire. I explained that we were riding dual sports that were like large dirt bikes and could handle trail. The on-site ranger radioed another who put the kibosh on my hoped-for route, although the reason was not clear. I could tell we weren't going to find out why that day.

    When we told the ranger that instead we would take Union Pass, she told us that it was a gnarly, hairy, track used mainly by ATVs, it would be slick because of recent rains and strongly advised us against it. We were surprised because it seemed unlikely that bicyclists would take such a difficult route. We decided to chance it and skipped lunch to have more time to tackle the "hairy track".

    The climb to Union Pass is long and beautiful. It contains many large scenic meadows and parks.

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    We kept expecting the road to get hairy. We kept thinking the road would get gnarly. We kept looking for it to turn into a slick ATV track. None of these things happened. It was a typical, dusty, washboard, gravel forest road. It was being driven by SUVs, Subarus and pickup trucks pulling horse trailers. Where was the "hairy ATV track"???? I don't think the ranger was playing a practical joke on us. She seemed too sincere. I guess one person's hairy ATV track is another person's gravel forest road.
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    Absoroka Range
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    We descended the pass and detoured to Dubois for the night.

    Day 10 Dubois WY - Jackson WY
    We backtracked, headed toward Union Pass, then turned west on an alternate from the main route. We had this road to ourselves as we wound through the forest.
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    There was road construction when we rejoined the highway. Fortunately our route peeled off towards Brooks Lake, which is in a pretty setting surrounded by rocky peaks.
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    Just past the lake, the dirt road turned into a rutted, narrow one-lane lined with wildflowers.
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    This was a short stretch that ended right at Togwotee Pass.[​IMG]
    More to come...
    #11
  12. TreeManG23

    TreeManG23 TreeMan Racing

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    Great Pics! :lurk
    #12
  13. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 10 cont'd
    The temp dropped and we added more layers as the Tetons came into view. We were heading to Jackson for a family reunion. I hadn't seen some of my family in years.

    Who needs a GPS? :eyes
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    Our route split north from the highway toward the Buffalo Valley. We stopped at a dude ranch and were able to buy lunch as they served their guests a family-style meal.

    This was a $200 per person per day guest ranch and some of the guests were foreign. The food was basic sandwich fixings, chips, pickles, cookies etc. Hmmm. Doesn't seem like they got their money's worth but we were content for the $7 each they charged us. I guess they charge for the spectacular setting, with views of the Tetons outside the window.

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    The road along here was great, with the Tetons coming closer into view. We rejoined the highway and it started to rain. By the time we reached Jackson it was coming down steadily. The GPS man navigated to the hotel and a short while later the family arrived. We spent a couple days visiting and celebrating anniversaries and birthdays. A good time was had by all. :beer
    Even this bat liked hanging around with us in Jackson.
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    More to come from the Great Potato State... :thumb
    #13
  14. v8turbo

    v8turbo When in Doubt.... Gas it.

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    killer pics. i want to run the same route.
    #14
  15. Ridemuch

    Ridemuch Ciao

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    Nice ride...thanks
    #15
  16. Tetched

    Tetched Local Village idiot

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    Man,nice pics and ride.You guys remind me of my wife and I
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    #16
  17. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper

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    Nice report and pics, glad the "test" was successful. :D
    #17
  18. troutdog

    troutdog I don't fish.

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    Nice report

    :lurk
    #18
  19. knybanjo

    knybanjo kinda slow

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    :lurk
    What a great trip!
    #19
  20. IDScarecrow

    IDScarecrow Long timer

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    Fun report.

    I had an experience like this in northern Idaho. I had almost the exact same conversation that you described regarding the awful road. But then I expressed skepticism, and said I was from around here and had been on similar roads . . . when I got to the "from around here" part she interrupted me and said "Oh, well, then it should be no problem if you know forest roads. It's just we get folks here from back east who expect a highway with services if you call it a 'road.'" :lol3
    #20