Go West OFWG

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by drdubb, May 29, 2016.

  1. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,020
    Location:
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    Update:

    I'm placing links to all of my videos to make access easier.

    Day 1-4 NC, Tenn., Mo., Kansas, New Mexico

    Day 5 Million Dollar Highway, Silverton, Ouray




    Day 6 Moki Dugway, Monument Valley

    Day 7 Vermillion Cliffs, N Rim Grand Canyon, Zion

    Day 8 Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef

    Day 9 Canyonlands

    Day 10 Arches

    Day 11 Monarch and Independence Pass

    Day 12 Rocky Mountain National Park




    I'm reticent to make this post b/c this is certainly not an epic journey in terms of the other reports on this site. However, it is a milestone and bucket list ride for me.

    I was originally planning a 10 day trip from NC to the Arkansas Ozark's for this June. I contacted my usual riding buddy to see if he was interested and he countered by asking how long I thought I could get away. My wife has some medical issues, so I must make arrangements when I'm away on a ride. I contacted my daughters and we figured that three weeks was doable, so I replied

    "three weeks." "Where do you want to go?"
    "West"
    "How far west?"
    "Three weeks worth."

    So began the planning of this trip. My route was designed around the highlights of many other riders and my own desire to see and ride specific places. Special thanks goes to Tewster2 for his videos. He documented most of the route that I"ll be riding and I found that seeing the terrain through his lens helped ease my mind greatly. I even wrote down and marked the diners that he visited.

    I'm looping through northern New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. I'll touch base with most of the national parks and meander on a few of the best motorcycle roads. (at least according to Butler maps) I am taking camping gear, but don't anticipate camping very much. In fact, if not used regularly, I might ship it all home. I've never attempted this type of trip, so I'm not sure what I will prefer. I just a read a "50 tips for a cross country ride" article and it said to ditch the camping and just motel and travel very light. We'll see. Most of my trips have been 4-5 days, the longest being the TAT as far as Arkansas and the ride home. Camping is a mixed bag. Its cheaper, usually allows for meeting folks and allows you to be "in" a place. However, setting up slows down morning exits, you have to deal with finding food etc, and sometimes its just uncomfortable for an arthritic old man.

    I didn't mention that I and my riding buddy are in our sixties and suffering from various ailments. I'm planning a shoulder replacement for later this year and am receiving Cortisone shots to keep it moving until then. Lo and behold, he started having issues and when he finally got the verdict on his shoulder it was "Invest in Tylenol". He can't make this trip, so I'm going alone, which creates its own mental issues, but I think this might be good for building my Zen state.

    I leave June 1. Not sure what the ride report will look like, but I am taking a camera and go pro as well as an aux. hard drive.



    Wish me luck.
    #1
  2. frozenpoet

    frozenpoet Valks rule, clowns drool

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    So? what's the update?
    #2
  3. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    I did about 6500 miles in 16 days. Great trip. Dodged a lot of hot and stormy weather. I moved much faster than I thought I would. Being on East Coast time, I was up at 4:30 and on the road by sun up. I would be in a motel by 3:30 most days. I shipped my camping gear home on day 5. I Favorite places were the high forests and Meadows. Very peaceful...and lonely.

    I'm currently on vacation with wifey and will do a full write up with video when I get home.

    A few pics.

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    #3
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  4. frozenpoet

    frozenpoet Valks rule, clowns drool

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    looks good so far.
    #4
  5. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Apologies for the dearth of photos in these first few days. My phone died on day 4 and with it much of my video evidence.

    Day 1

    Firsts: CBX
    Theme: Good Friends
    Route: Raleigh, North Carolina to Smyrna, Tennessee
    Miles: 572

    Background:
    This idea for this trip began when I suggested to my riding buddy, Tom, that we go to Arkansas (foreshadowing) for about 7-10 days and explore the roads and sites in the Ozarks. Tom’s email reply was a cryptic,

    “How long can you get away from home?”

    My wife has a physical condition that requires me to arrange someone to stay with her whenever I am traveling. Usually my daughters fill in, but this was an exceptionally long time period. In addition, my wife also doesn’t like to have anyone in the house but me, so a little negotiating was required and we ended up with three weeks as a workable time period.

    My email answer to Tom was ...

    “Three weeks. Where do you want to go?”
    Another crytic reply was issued by Tom stating, “West”.
    Ok dude…”How far west?”
    “Three weeks worth.”

    So began the planning for this trip. I used Furkot to start outlining the route and picking spots I wanted to visit. Furkot assisted in estimating the daily mileage and how far I could travel in three weeks. My first run at a route ended up covering over 9,000 miles. It included Montana, Oregon and the Pacific Coast Highway as well as a tour of the National Parks in Utah and Colorado. Looking at over 400 miles per day (more foreshadowing) in the saddle was daunting so I redrew the route several times until it was about 6500 miles. I published this route to my friends and received feedback concerning “don’t miss” roads and sites. Adjustments were made. I purchased a set of Butler maps which highlight the best motorcycle roads. More adjustments were made. I also found a series of videos made by another rider that covered my route almost to a T. I found these very comforting and even noted the diners and Mom and Pop motels used by this rider. The route was set.

    I spent several months purchasing equipment and prepping my Honda NC700XD. New tires, new chain, skid plate, radiator guard, Rotopax mount for extra gas, a new tent, and a Garmin 660 GPS fulfilled the perceived needs.

    As preparations continued, Tom’s email grew quiet. He finally revealed that he was having trouble with his shoulder and might not be able to make the trip. Both Tom and I are in our 60’s and we are starting to feel the results of years of abusing our bodies. I have arthritis in several joints and receive Cortisone shots in my right shoulder to keep it moving without excrutiating pain. Tom finally visited an orthopaedist and determined he could not make the trip. I was disappointed because Tom is a good traveling companion and I would miss his company. However, I was going!

    June 1 was set as the departure date and it was upon me surprisingly fast. My target for Day 1 was a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, Tom’s home, which he had graciously offered for my first night on the road. He also hoped to ride an hour or so with me on Day 2. That is about all his shoulder could stand.


    I woke early and was on the road by sunup in an effort to avoid commuter traffic and to ease my departure anxiety. The route to Tom’s is a mundane slab (Interstate) ride of about 525 miles. It was an ambitious first day. I considered taking some secondary roads for interest, but decided to get there and then relax.

    At one of my gas stops, I ran into another motorcyclist riding a Honda CBX. These are older, six cylinder motorcycles that are fairly rare. This was only the second one I had seen in the wild. The owner shared with me that this bike was highly modified and he was using his “second” engine. I also learned the my SUV gets better mileage that his CBX. These are marvelous pieces of engineering and motorcycle history and it sounded soulful as it screamed out of the parking lot on towards a gathering of fellow CBX’s.

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    After gassing up, I returned to the drone of the interstate, looking forward to a promised change of scenery provided by the Appalachian mountains. As the dark bumps of mountains began to appear on the horizon, other dark bumps began to appear in the sky above. On the next gas stop, I checked my Weather Bug app and noted that pop-up storms were showing orange on my live radar. I’m pretty good at dodging storms, but it looked like I might be hemmed in by the growing orange.

    The NC carried me into the narrow gorges of the Smoky Mountains as I watched the clouds build. The rolling hills of east Tennessee replaced the green mounts of the Appalachians and I began to near Nashville. Rain began to appear in the distance as I hit construction traffic near Crossville. I jumped off the interstate just as the stop and roll began and wandered through the countryside towards Nashville. At Sparta, the way ahead appeared to be blocked by a downpour, so I headed back to the slab. This avoidance was futile and into the rain I rode.

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    The trusty GPS had Tom’s address, so I was able to concentrate on avoiding puddles and the increasing traffic of an urban zone. I turned the last corner and there was Tom, nestled in his garage, watching my approach on his computer screen via my SPOT device. We chatted as I unpacked some street clothes and got out of my damp riding gear. (thank goodness for Goretex)

    We then retreated to his back yard, which he has converted to a outdoor living room. We watched the rain, enjoyed a cold brew, and looked for hummingbirds stealing sugar from his feeders.

    Since I joined the adult world, I’ve not really had close friends outside of work. It seemed that family, work, grad school, second jobs, and the mundane tasks of the modern world kept me too busy to maintain close friendships. When I started riding again at the ripe old age of 56, I looked on-line for advice on maintaining and repairing my new-to-me Honda 750 Nighthawk. I stumbled upon nighthawk-forums.com and there I found patient advice and support for my amature wrenching on the motorcycle. A few months into my membership in this forum, someone suggested a meet up. Ideas were thrown about and the consensus ended up being a trip to the mountains of NC and Tennessee, to the Land of the Dragon, Deals Gap, one of the premier motorcycling roads in America. I had no clue as to the significance of this road, but I wanted to go.

    Since I was a boy, I get big ideas and then as the reality approaches, a hesitation and anxiety start to creep into my head. A story from one of the riders to this gathering, a fellow from Louisiana, best illustrates my trepidation and worry as I approached this adventure.

    Wife of rider: “ So, you are going to the mountains of NC, where there is no cell reception, with other riders who you’ve only met on the internet.”
    Rider: “yes.”
    Wife of rider. “You will be raped and murdered.”

    I went, had fun, met great people, crashed, recovered and came away a different person. I now have many new friends, from all parts of the country, all ages, from varied backgrounds, who were united by a motorcycle, a Honda Nighthawk. We are a fraternity of riders with many chapters. I am in the chapter that includes older, more conservative riders. Many of us are returning to riding after giving it up while we raised our families. There are other chapters, younger, faster riders; quiet, peaceful riders; loud, brash riders, but all united at this event. We might not all be friends in a traditional manner, but we trust each other, we support each other, and we wouldn’t hesitate to help one another. My chapter now gets together once or twice each year to ride and camp together. I look forward to those times.

    Tom and I discovered that we had a similar desire to explore this country on our motorcycles. We’ve taken several trips together. The Blue Ridge Parkway, Gettysburg, and the Natchez Trace. We attempted to go to Arkansas one other time, but the weather turned us around. That’s another thing, Tom has great judgement. He was a career Air Force pilot, flying helicopters and then C-130’s. He is blessed with wisdom and lots of experience, which I trust. It is always good to have Tom along on a ride. I hope we can find rides that will address his current needs.

    That evening trusty Tom grilled hamburgers while Ms. Tom whipped up baked beans, cole slaw, pasta salad and even a little cake for dessert. Twas a good night.

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    #5
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  6. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    Day 2

    Firsts: Dead Armadillo
    Theme: Racing the wind, running from the rain.
    Destination: Smyrna Tennessee to Willow Springs, Missouri
    Miles: 419

    For the second day in a row, and for the remainder of this trip, I was up early and ready to ride at dawn. Tom made an offer of breakfast, but I just wanted coffee before hitting the road. We could have something to eat an hour down the road. Tom chose to join me for the first 60 miles of this leg. That’s all his wounded wing would allow.

    The morning was overcast and misty. We quickly jumped on the by-pass around Nashville and headed towards its terminus with I-40. At that point, Tom and I stopped at a McD’s for some breakfast and last chat. As we ate our egg McMuffins, we noticed more than one passer-by stop and look over the motorcycles. That sure makes us feel special. In previous posts I’ve mentioned being “Nighthawked”. That’s when someone notices our motorcycles and tells us about their Nighthawk experiences. Despite the fact that I no longer ride a Nighthawk, people will still stop and talk about the motorcycles.

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    Tom returned to Nashville and I headed west on I-40. My original plan was to head northwest towards Cairo on secondary roads to avoid the boredom of the Interstate. However, the forecast for rain and possible severe storms encouraged me to stay on major highways. They are much safer in heavy rain.

    As the road drones, it is difficult to remain Zen, or to live “when you ride, ride” philosophy. The mind fills with all sorts of useless drivel. The main topic for today was coming to grips with the reality of the ride. It just didn’t seem real. As a kid, I always looked forward to finishing high school. Years of hard work (well, mediocre work), the pining and lusting for that final summit, that moment of arrival, attending my own graduation. When that moment came and quickly passed, the thought of “so what” entered by teen brain. Ok...new goal...College! Those four years passed much more quickly and again the climatic moment came and went like a blink of the eye and “so what” returned. I went to work as a teacher and a coach. I was lucky enough to achieve the pinnacle of my coaching efforts in 7 years….a state championship! I was again facing the “so what” syndrom. Now I was on a trip that had required months of planning, too much money, and most of my mental energy. It just didn’t seem real. This is too close to “so what”. ….refocus…” When I ride, ride”.

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    As the miles rolled I noticed the scenic beauty of Tennessee. Rolling hills, forests, lush valleys. It is a really nice place and great riding for motorcyclists. I also saw the most intriguing name for a town….Bucksnort. Who came up with that name and who approved the sign? Love to know that story.

    The Mississippi came and went and now I was into Missouri. The eastern section is very flat, but I was soon into the Ozarks and the rolling, green hills were pleasant to see. Too bad I was viewing through a haze of rain. I did note the graceful curved shapes of nature that were accentuated by the geometric forms of farm structures. Nice place.

    At one time a song crept into my mind and it seemed appropriate…

    Clouds to the left of me, clouds to the right, stuck in the middle with rain.

    Not sure if I got that right.

    I had previously picked several possible stopping points and I was nearing one of those. I turned off the four-laned US-60 and immediately saw a Comfort Inn in the middle of no place with a steak house next door. I had arrived at Willow Springs, Mo. and it looked like a good stopping point. I had covered a respectable 419 miles that day. It was time to stretch, to dry out, and to get some sustenance. I had started another trend that day, riding through lunch.

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    Breakfast of Champions
    #6
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  7. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    Day 3

    Firsts: Nodding Donkeys, Wind Turbines
    Theme: The same, yet different.
    Destination: Willow Springs, Missouri to Liberal Kansas
    Miles: 584

    Day 3 was a long one, but surprisingly, I did not get bored. Once again, I was on the road at dawn, after a cup of coffee and a banana. There was a light rain with more significant storms and rain in the forecast, so I decided to skip highly recommended highway 14 for a safer US 60 for crossing Missouri. The rain varied throughout the morning with a heavy deluge caught me in the morning commute traffic of Springfield. Seemed like a good time to take a break, so a trusty McD’s provided sustenance. While I drip dried, a fellow rider, a Harley guy, questioned me about my trip. We exchanged experiences and riding information. He seemed impressed that I was taking on such a trip on the little Honda. While we conversed, a homeless guy came up and made comments about my helmet. I just responded that I needed something to protect this big head.

    I got a little confused (or maybe the Garmin was confused) while trying to leave Springfield, but I eventually made it down to highway 14. As mentioned above, it was recommended, and with the few miles I traveled on this piece of tarmac, I could see why. It was a curvy piece of tree-lined tarmac. There was only one fly in the works. The section I rode was freshly paved, but each wonderful corner was grooved as if to add pavement. I don’t know why only the corners were treated this way, but those grooves are very unsettling on a motorcycle and they just ruined the short section I traveled.

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    As I approached the Kansas border, the clouds started to lighten and the rain eased. Another plus on this section was the discovery of Route 66. In a little crossroads of Avila, Missouri, I learned through the expression of local artists that I was on a section of Route 66. Cool.

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    The rolling, emerald hills of Missouri soon transitioned to the dry waves of Kansas. I was actually surprised by the topography of Kansas. Yes, it is flat. In fact, scientists have actually proven that Kansas is flatter than a pancake if you account for the scale differences. True. I’m not making that up.

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    I crossed the pancake state on highway 160 and I found slightly varied topography. As I droned on my steel steed, I would see a ridge rise up 5-10 miles down the road, like a giant dusty, ocean wave. As I crested each of these waves, the scenery would change. One particular ridge stands out. As I looked out over the prairie ocean, there were stands of forest with giant grain elevators jutting out above the treetops, like castles protecting the lord’s lands.

    The day continued to heat up and I droned westward. At the entrance to one particularly sad town, was a sign proclaiming Molina as the home of the “World’s Champion Hanging Judge.” I guess they are proud of that history. As I entered the town proper, right before the boarded up stores, were two kids selling lemonade. I was by them before I could think, but I did a Bat-Turn and paid my dollar for a cup of lemonade. Sad town.

    Another item of interest to my small mind was the topography just past Medicine Lodge. The unlike the rolling prairie of previous miles, the soil was red and there were deep gullies and small mesas that were a precursor of the coming days.

    I ran into some road construction and was the first vehicle in line for the escort truck. Spent about 20 minutes talking with the sign holder. Riding a motorcycle offers unique opportunities.

    Much of the highway paralleled a railroad line. At one point, I was catching up with the engine of a mile long string of railroad cars and the engineer was blowing his horn. I answered with my pitiful motorcycle horn and he replied. Made my day. I was the "cowboy, on a steel horse I ride”.

    I continued westward towards the southwest corner of Kansas, to a little burg called Liberal. I wonder if the citizens uphold their town’s name. I rather doubt it. I checked into a Day’s Inn and when I entered an older couple, 70 I think, (not that much older than yours truly) were at the main desk dressed in motorcycle gear. I struck up a conversation and learned that they were at the closing end of a 30 day, cross country ride. I was truly impressed.

    There was no restaurant in walking distance, so I went to a nearby Subway and brought home dinner. The end of a long, but lovely 584 mile day. The adventure was on!

    A little video.

    #7
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  8. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    Day 4

    Firsts: Human burrows
    Theme: Mountain Mellow
    Destination; Liberal, Kansas to Chama, New Mexico
    Miles: 417

    Liberal, Kansas is desolate. The bright, western sun emphasizes the simplicity and lifelessness of the town. It burns your brain. Sun up and it was time to go. I drank my coffee, stretched my back, finished a banana, and hit the road as the sun spread the brightness westward.

    Liberal is just a mile or two from the Oklahoma border and I was quickly headed southwest towards New Mexico. Out to the west, I could see rain falling from a cloud that gave menace to the partly overcast sky. I was happy for the clouds as I knew they would hold down the temperature, at least for awhile. Nayati carried me south of the raining cloud, but it was still there. As I turned west, it was still there, but now north of my position. It appeared to be getting closer. I watched that cloud for hours, but it never closed on my position.

    Oklahoma presented true plains. There wasn’t much out to see. Occasionally I would pass a crumbly house or barn, but except for the occasional car or truck, there wasn’t much life out there. One thing that surprised me...the elevation. My Garmin was giving me a constant update on the elevation and I was riding along at 5000-6000 feet. In the east, that elevation would be the top of very few mountains….here...I was cruising along for a hundred miles at that elevation….and it was flat!

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    I crossed into New Mexico...love their signs. They illustrate a evidence of life, of exuberance. Despite being in a new state, the plains continued for more miles. I could, however, sense change. Purple bumps started to blur the horizon….and one bright spot. I wasn’t sure what it was until I got closer...snow!…..I was seeing a snow capped peak in June! I can’t express how excited I was to see that bright spot on the horizon. That spot drew me, like the antithesis of a lighthouse. I had to head towards its bright beam. It was magical.

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    I rolled into another sad town, Springer, New Mexico. Supposedly, there was a diner style restaurant that needed my attention. I wheeled up and down the only street and could not find the diner. I decided to head out to I-25 and maybe stumble across something there. Only six miles of interstate brought me to the Cimarron exit and what do I spy...Foster’s diner. It was really a truck stop, but looked clean, not crowded, so I stopped and had a mid-day breakfast. I enjoyed my cheese omelette while looking out over the plains to some snow capped peaks. Marvelous.

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    After replenishing, I set out to the nearby foothills. Once through the crossroads of Cimarron, I entered Cimarron Canyon and now the fun begins. This is a great road. Narrow, twisty, climbing, great scenery; perfect for a motorcyclist unless you are stuck behind a motor-home. Despite the delay, this road was an absolute delight.

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    I continued to climb and then suddenly popped out into this small clearing overlooking a high mountain valley with a lake running down the center. Gorgeous. This was Eagle’s Nest. Too bad it was allowed to develop. The cheap homes spoiled the view.

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    I continued to follow US 64 and enjoy the mountain riding. Eventually, this came to an end as I rolled into Taos. Apparently, this is an art enclave and being a Saturday, was teeming with folks looking for finds. I rolled right on through town, just stopping for gas and a ChocoToco ice cream. My wife confuses the name and thought I was in Taco, NM, so I thought a ChocoToco in Taco was appropriate.

    Leaving Taos, the landscape abruptly changed to a desert valley. Not far out of town I came upon a spectacular bridge spanning the Rio Grande.(that was a surprise) Lots of people were stopped around the bridge taking photos. As I approached, I could see why. The Rio Grande cut a narrow gash deep into the earth in this flat desert. It was truly amazing. I took some obligatory photos, even took close ups of local mountain goats, but they were on the cell phone that was due to fail that night. I did attach one photo to a text I sent my wife and that is displayed here.

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    As I ventured on, I noticed odd looking structures strewn about the desert. I later learned that they were part of Earthship Biotecture. Supposedly, these are immensely sustainable homes. They dig them partially into the ground and use recycled materials, like tires full of dirt. Interesting. Looked like prairie dog burrows.

    After burrowville, the road began to climb and curve into the sky. I was entering the Tusas Mountains, part of Carson National Forest. Never heard of it nor what to expect. I climbed for quite a while until I noticed that my GPS altimeter had gone past its 9,999 foot maximum. It was cool, evergreens scented the air, to my right were rising mountains, to my left were high mountain meadows with an occasional cow. Signs warned of elk...and for good reason. I saw some in the tree line. This lasted for a most pleasant 40 miles. In reflection, it was one of the high points, literally and figuratively of the trip. This was true Zen riding.

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    Eventually the spell ended and I descended into Chama, New Mexico. I followed three BMW riders into a cabin motel with a restaurant on the premises. Just what I needed. Clouds were closing in and I did not want to get soaked finding my evening meal. By the way, it was a fine meal of rainbow trout rounded out with some blackberry cobbler. Yes…….(sorry Pantsman, the food porn went with the phone)

    I spoke with the Beamer folks for awhile as we strolled down the river behind the cabins. They were from Texas, a married couple and another fellow, (she was not a pillion rider but on her own GS1150) and they were on the way home after a few days touring Utah. Nice folks, but they didn’t seem inclined to join me for dinner. Their loss.

    Back at the cabin I met my neighbors, another couple from Texas. They were escaping the bad weather in Texas (they didn’t know what was coming) by visiting Chama and Durango. Old trains are their thing and apparently there is a doozy train ride based in Chama.

    I settled into my cabin, watched the dark clouds and checked the weather radar. Bad stuff was heading towards New Mexico.

    My timing was just about perfect.

    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. bk brkr baker

    bk brkr baker Long timer

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    Moar , please dr.
    #9
  10. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    OK here's some more.

    Day 5

    Firsts: Mountain Goats
    Theme: Colorado High
    Destination: Chama, New Mexico to Cortez, Colorado
    Miles: 342

    The dawn on Day 5 was bright and clear. I was packed and on the road in my usual fashion. I had one major set back this morning. When I grabbed my phone, the screen just displayed an LG logo and could not be coaxed into doing anything else. I was very upset with this development because I could not maintain contact with my family (at least the SPOT would let them know I’m moving) and I had lost a lot of good photos and self-interviews from the first 4 days.

    Highway 64 out of Chama was not spectacular, but it did have its moments. There were many buttes, low forests and occasional rock formations. I did see some goats up on a mesa, on what looked like a vertical cliff. Amazing.

    I rolled on towards Farmington, New Mexico where I would pick up highway 550, which I hoped would lead me to the promised land. Another task I hope to accomplish in Farmington was to find a Verizon store and try to get the phone working. Alas, no joy, the Verizon store was not open on Sunday, which was today.

    I churned on up 550 and quickly began to see snow capped peaks. My adrenalin was flowing. I moved through Durango quickly and started climbing. The railroad tracks for the Durango to Silverton RR paralled 550 and I could see the smoke from the old steam engine above the trees a few miles ahead. I really wanted to get some video while running alongside that train. Another “no joy” moment. The tracks switched sides and by the time I caught up to the train the tracks had veered away from the road.

    This road cannot be described in words. It was absolutely gorgeous. The mountains grew while the valley remained a bright green. The first section to Silverton was not a technical ride. I did cross some 10,000 foot passes, and there were a few switchbacks, but the road was wide, with good shoulders and smooth tarmac.


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    Once past Silverton, things tightened up a little bit. The cliffs grew steep, the green gave way to granite gray and the road narrowed to a twisty sliver. It was daunting, but simply amazing.

    At one pull out, the location of an old mine, I spoke with a fellow riding a classic Norton. He hadn’t noticed that his right shock had collapsed. He was from Durango, so he felt he could get home. If not, help was nearby. I continued on, passing through Ouray and taking a map and water break in Ridgeway. Two BMW GS 1200’s pulled up for gas and I struck up a conversation with the two riders. Well, actually one of them. The other did not speak English. They were brothers, one working and residing in Baltimore, the other visiting from Germany. Nice fellows. They were at the tail end of a thirty day tour of the US.


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    From Ridgeway, I headed toward Cortez via Telluride and Ophir. I expected a difficult road, but it was very pleasant with spectacular views. As I crested a 9500 foot pass, surrounded by snow capped peaks, buffered by high mountain meadow, I reflected on this adventure. What a man I was taking on such a feat. Then a sign appeared by the side of the road. It read,

    “Caution, school bus stop ahead”.

    Well, that checked my ego. Some bus driver carried 50 children over this road twice a day, 180 days a year. Apparently, I’m not much of adventurer.

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    I just have to say, Day 4 and Day 5 were just marvelous. They are what this ride is about. They are the reasons I came west.


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    The remainder of the ride down to Cortez was pleasant, except for the building heat. It was quite toasty when I checked into the Best Western. Since my phone was not functioning, I asked the girl at the desk to text my wife to let her know I was alive. I also obtained some good intell on the roads ahead.

    I found another Verizon store that was to open at 9:00 the next day. I planned on being there when the doors opened. I also visited a WalMart, purchasing some new under crackers. For any of you who remember the old John Candy movie, Uncle Buck, there is a scene where he is doing laundry in the kitchen, making use of the ceiling fan and microwave to dry the clothing. Let me say, microwaving these modern, high tech fabrics is not a good idea. They melt.


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    #10
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  11. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,020
    Location:
    Durham, North Carolina
    And a little video.
    I thought I had more, but sometimes you don't want to let go to push the little button, or you think its on.
    I also lost a lot of photos and videos when my phone ceased to function in Chama, NM. But here's what I do have.

    #11
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  12. KLRalph

    KLRalph Because KTMalph sounds funny

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2006
    Oddometer:
    227
    Location:
    California, USA
    Cool video! Thanks for sharing
    #12
  13. camit34-1

    camit34-1 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 23, 2010
    Oddometer:
    144
    Location:
    Colorado
    Fun trip!
    #13
  14. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,020
    Location:
    Durham, North Carolina
    Day 6

    Firsts - Canyons
    Theme - New Friends
    Destination: Cortez, Colorado to Page, Arizona
    Miles: 282

    I constantly checked the weather during this trip, both on my Weatherbug app and on the local TV news. I figure those guys know the local variations better than the national guys. I wanted to know about possible thunderstorms. I didn’t mind getting wet, but I don’t like to be on the motorcycle during a thunderstorm. There is no insulating value to the bike.

    As I was checking the weather, I paid attention to three stories.
    The area of New Mexico around Taos, Chama, Cimarron, the places I traveled through yesterday, were hit by torrential rains, large hail, floods, and heavy lightening. If I hadn’t ridden hard through the firsts days, I would have hit that stuff dead center.
    Lots of thunderstorms in the Colorado Rockies. I had just missed those.
    Record heat for the areas I was traveling.

    I was relieved that I had not hit the severe weather and I hoped to avoid the heat as well. The best thing to do was get up early each day, make miles prior to the worst heat of the day and the afternoon and evening thunderstorms.

    My problem with that was another bad event in Chama. When I got up yesterday, my phone was frozen on the LG logo and no amount of tricky button pushing was making any change. I drove all day without being able to call for rescue or to contact my family. I did have my SPOT device in case of dire emergency, but the phone was a very useful tool. For instance, I needed to find a Verizon store, but couldn’t search on my phone…..it doesn’t work!

    I woke at my usual pre-dawn hour and was restless with nothing to do until the Verizon store opened. (I should have gone out to the Mesa Verde N.P. but I didn’t know what was to happen later.)

    I ate the free breakfast at the motel, putzed in the room for a bit and then gave up and rode Nayati down to the Verizon store. I arrived at 8:30 in hopes that the manager would arrive a little early and have pity on this poor traveler.

    As I waited, I noticed a time and temperature sign on the bank across the street. It taunted me with a quickly rising temperature. 82...83….84...85. This just fueled my anger at having to wait for the manager to arrive. Nine o’clock came and went, then 9:15, 9:30, 9:45… the temp….86, 87….It was infuriating.

    While I’m steaming and pacing in front of the store, I see a fellow in a heavy coat walking up. He’s carrying a 3 liter coke bottle full of water on a string. I determine he is homeless and he continues to walk my way. I hope he’s not begging because I don’t want to deal with that. He sits on the sidewalk a few feet from me and just relaxes, but I’m still wary.

    I notice a lot of folks going in and out of another storefront two doors over, so I decide to go and ask if they know anything about the Verizon store’s situation. I remove all valuables from the motorcycle before I execute this plan, makes me feel a little guilty, but I’m a long way from home.

    The storefront is one of those mailbox places. The lady inside does not have any insight as to the Verizon store, but she does know of another one further down the road. While there, I notice she also runs a UPS business. I ask about shipping some stuff home and then arrange to ship most of my camping gear. With the heat wave coming, I’m not camping. The motels are expensive, but I get up and out earlier without having to take down a camp and pack all the gear. Plus Nayati would like to shed that weight.

    I mount up and roll to the other Verizon store and the fellow is real nice. He says the phone probably needs a new battery, no they don’t stock them, no, the other stores in the area don’t have them. (he called) Finally, I agree to purchase a new phone (full price) but he doesn’t have internet service today and can’t fulfill the transaction. I can go back to Durango or go ahead to Page, Arizona. I decide on Page and I finally leave Cortez at 11:00. I’m usually halfway to my destination by 11 and its getting hot. I need bike therapy.

    The original plan was to visit Mesa Verde, but I found out that it’s really an all day place, so I head to a recommended small road that runs through the Canyon of the Ancients. It turned out to be a pretty good initiation into the southwest. I also wanted to ride the Moki Dugway. My earlier plan was to approach from the north via Blanding, but I decided I’d just do an up and back and that might save me a couple of hours. So the plan changed and off I went.

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    Out of Cortez, I pick up McElmo Creek road. It is orange on the Butler map and is recommended by the gal at the Best Western in Cortez. She drives it everyday to work from Bluff, Utah. Another reminder that I’m not such a great adventurer. This road is curvy, hilly, but not technical. I end up in Bluff and from there I head down Hwy 163 towards Monument Valley. Before arriving at Mexican Hat, I reach the turn for the Moki Dugway. This is a road built into the side of a Mesa for the purpose of hauling uranium ore off of the mesa. As you approach, you just don’t see a way up. Wylie Coyote would have to have some type of Rube Goldburg device to scale these cliffs. When the road finally peaks out of the cliff face, I find a corrugated, narrow gravel track which is paved in the corners. This pavement actually makes traction worse because of the gravel and dirt on top of the asphalt. As I climb the switchbacks, several cars towing travel trailers are heading down towards me...taking most of the track. I could swear I saw signs forbidding that action. I get to a pull off, take my photos (the view is spectacular) and turn around for some more good vibrations. I’d thought about riding the Valley of the Gods road, but it is unpaved, looked mighty lonely, I had no means of communications, I decided to stay on the main route.

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    Monument Valley was scenic, but I think I think I had built it up too much in my mind. Glad I got to see it, but I didn’t feel a need to hang around. While I was getting my “Forest Gump” shot at mile marker thirteen, I met a nice couple from California who helped me with the photograph. This poor man was oblivious to traffic. His wife and I would yell at him to get out of the road when a car came, but his reactions never showed any urgency. In fact, I believe he is related to an armadillo. He escaped squashing, but not by much.

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    I continued on, turning on 98 towards Page, Arizona and hopefully a solution to my phone problems. This is typical southwest terrain (I assume, what do I know about SW terrain) There is one large mesa that juts up, but otherwise, nothing much of note. I did pass some hitchhikers that yelled because I didn’t stop. And where did they think they were going to ride? This isn’t Cambodia and I’m not carrying the entire family of 6 and the family goat.

    The only other notable observation was a fellow walking down the road, without bag or water...nothing. Just a regular guy in his jeans and t-shirt. Where was he going? There was nothing out there for miles.

    Considering the heat wave, it wasn’t too hot. I think the elevation kept the temps down, but when I came down the hill to Page….whoooeee. It heated up quickly. The temp eventually rose to 101F. I found a motel (should’ve kept looking when I got the price) and then went down to the Verizon store. I ended up with a full price phone….double ouch….but in this day and time, a phone is a necessity. I was doing so much with mine, searching for motels, checking maps and distances, taking photos and videos, communicating with home etc. Plus, it provides the security of being able to call (in most places) for assistance.

    I noticed a Texas BBQ place across from the motel, so I wandered over there for dinner. Earlier I saw them loading the huge smokers with slabs of meat. The place was a converted gas station with picnic tables inside and out. I chose to eat inside and ended up sharing a table with an Aussie couple, Dennis and Penny, who were also riders, although they were caging this part of the trip. Really enjoyed talking with them and after dinner they wanted to see the bike, so we wandered over to my motel parking lot and I told them about the NC. Dennis rides a V-Strom and Penny a Japanese cruiser, (Sorry Penny, I couldn’t remember which one) so we compared the pros and cons of the motorcycles.

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    The rest of the evening was quiet. My wife relieved by a call from the new phone and then I played with my new gadget for awhile. My previous apps were sorely missed, so replacements were downloaded while the Wifi was strong. The rest of the evening was dedicated to rest.
    #14
    Rapturee2 and sawride like this.
  15. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,020
    Location:
    Durham, North Carolina
    Day six video.

    #15
    sawride likes this.
  16. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    21,207
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Run Forrest, run.
    #16
  17. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    2,020
    Location:
    Durham, North Carolina
    Day 7

    Firsts: Buffalo
    Theme: Western Grandure
    Destination: Page, Arizona to Cedar City, Utah
    Miles: 410

    I was up and out early again on this fine morning in order to arrive at Vermillion Cliffs to see the early light play on the cliff face. First, a stop was scheduled to visit an overlook at a beautiful bend in the river, just outside of town. I’m there in just a few minutes. Parking is good, but from there I look up at a long, sandy trail. Remember, motorcycle boots are NOT made for walking. (sorry Nancy) At the top of the hill I see that I have a ways to go. Out on the canyon rim are little moving dots, like ants, but they are fellow travelers. I turn and head back the way I came.

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    The Vermillion Cliffs really are beautiful and the approach frames them perfectly. The canyon cut by the Colorado river is just a crack in the valley floor and provides an action line for the composition.

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    Look for the people along the canyon rim
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    Ancient peoples built shelters under bolders.


    The surprise of the day was the Dixie National Forest. After a 50 mile jaunt across a flat valley floor, the road starts to wind upwards and small trees appear. Eventually, the hill is crested and I am surrounded by the smell of evergreens. Quite the pleasant ride. In fact, it is so pleasant that the turn to the Grand Canyon is missed entirely and I don’t realize my error until a map check in Fredonia. That is a thirty mile miss. The bike is swung around and back into the forest I go. Not a terrible thing to do.

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    The road to the north rim is about 45 miles after the turn and I had no idea what to expect. The terrain tends to be flat or slightly rolling with forest, meadow and burned out forest providing the scenery. Another pleasant surprise on this section was a herd of Bison. There were so many vehicles on the side of the road, that I rolled on, but did manage to snap some pics on the way back.

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    The Grand Canyon, like many of the western sites, is just not describable and is difficult for my small mind to even comprehend. As you gaze out into the chasm, it just doesn’t seem real. I took pics anyway.

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    After dropping down from the Dixie NF, Route 89 follows desert floor, and goes through a couple of small towns on the way to the West entrance of Zion. Nothing of note to report except for arriving at a McDonalds just after a busload of Chinese tourists. Tourist buses were prevalent on this day. They packed the road (and attractions) at Zion.

    Zion is another of those places that you just have to see for yourself. I rode through, did a U-turn and rode back through. Although, hot, crowded and slow, it was worth the effort. I would love to go in the spring before the tourists arrive. (And what am I?)

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    There are several tunnels in Zion. One of them is quite long and has an occasional window in the concrete. I couldn’t stop for photos and the GoPro couldn’t adjust aperture quick enough, but they would make some cool photos.


    One of the tunnels was reduced to one lane for a time. As I sat in waiting traffic, a women running towards me appeared in my mirror. Then the cars ahead started to move. The woman was the Australian I met the night before, Penny. I told her I would pull off after the tunnel. I enjoyed talking with them and hope they had a wonderful visit to the US.

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    Penny and Dennis from Australia

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    After Zion, I motored up Hwy 89 a few more miles and picked up a Utah Scenic Byway, Hwy 14 to head over to Cedar City, where a Days Inn awaited. This was a pleasant surprise. Once again, I was lifted up over 9000 feet, where the air is cool. The surrounding forest soothed my fried brain. This area appears to be an ATV mecca. There is a little crossroads town in the middle of this forest and an ATV dealer and a few shops are the only visible job
    sources.

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    Cedar City was like any small town, but it supplied one amusing moment. In front of a motel was a man holding up a neon poster board with the simple message, BED BUGS. I bet that wasn’t good for business.

    I had another stellar ride, but was really looking forward to Bryce Canyon, my early goal for Day 8.
    #17
    pratered, Rapturee2 and sawride like this.
  18. draco_1967

    draco_1967 Spoon!

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2011
    Oddometer:
    650
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    I'm enjoying this report drdubb!
    I can confirm that Southern Utah IS an ATV Mecca! I have been camping in the Bryce Canyon/Dixie National Forest area all of my (relatively short) life, and ridden hundreds of miles of trails in that area. I've still only scratched the surface. So many great roads and trails!
    #18
  19. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,020
    Location:
    Durham, North Carolina
    The next video. Vermillion Cliffs, Grand Canyon, Zion.

    #19
  20. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,020
    Location:
    Durham, North Carolina
    And this is day 8...Bryce Canyon and on to Blanding


    #20