Goin’ to Montana for a demo ride

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ScottFree, Aug 6, 2019.

  1. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    307
    Location:
    Hampshire, England
    Great report and interesting assessment of the Himma. I had not expected it would fare so well!
    #41
  2. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Ill-Annoy
    It is a great bike. Extremely confidence-inspiring for an old guy trying to do the stuff he did when he was young... and actually enjoy it!

    With any luck, there will be news on the Himma front in the next several days. Stay tuned...

    In the meantime, let’s continue the road trip...

    Wednesday Morning: it’s cool to get high in Utah

    Funny thing about the whole Orem-Provo-Springville metro area: it’s long, but pretty narrow. So it only took a few minutes to get outta town and up into the mountains on US 6.

    EACA19D6-4047-4C94-AE58-2E83191C71C3.jpeg

    Nice stretch of road, cool in the morning. Sometimes four lanes, sometimes two. I passed a sign warning of road damage from a recent flood. Didn’t see any damage until I noticed clouds of dust behind oncoming trucks. Then I looked at my lane and realized that shiny stuff in the middle of my lane was dried mud. This road was under water not long ago. Hmm... maybe I should slow down a bit...

    Stopped at a little rest area, where I could get off the bike and take a closer look at the mud. Fine powder clay. Lots of it in the parking area. Must have been a pretty good flood.

    After using the rest area for its intended purpose, I snapped this photo.

    F5EF59FB-F5EE-4338-8E6F-1C36497E2EB4.jpeg

    Funny how, since spending a weekend on the Himalayan, I’ve been attracted to steep, unpaved uphill roads...

    A bit past Soldier Summit, I turned off busy US 6 and onto nearly deserted UT 96.

    28A96873-93FD-47CC-B522-019FF6F321DD.jpeg

    The “Huntington & Eccles Canyon National Scenic Byway,” also known as the “Energy Loop.” Not much traffic, but what traffic I encountered was two-trailer hopper trucks. What were they carrying? They looked a lot like Iowa or Nebraska corn-haulers, but I didn’t see any amber waves of grain up here.

    All was revealed a bit past Scofield Reservoir, at the place where the road mysteriously transformed to Route 264.

    0D232D89-360C-4AB2-9FD6-158EE7F9E852.jpeg

    A Forest Service marker explained how there’s a whole lotta coal under these mountains. Hence the name “Energy Loop” for this road.

    It’s all deep mining, so apart from the trucks and the coal silos, it’s just a great road through the mountains.

    I came to the end of UT 264, where it runs into UT 31. This, however, is not route 31...

    810B372E-8D91-45E5-A756-A5E0F329BF26.jpeg

    It’s Skyline Drive (one of a bazillion roads with that name, I’m sure). I had seen the northern end of this road just before I turned off US 6. It appears to continue quite a ways to the south. Another road for the next trip...

    My plan had been to take 31 south to Huntington, and eventually I did that. But the view north, going down the mountain toward US 89, just looked so inviting...

    AECEAE66-FA0E-4A04-BA62-50492EF7EEDF.png

    Couldn’t resist running most of the way down the hill, turning around and riding back up.

    C62E035C-3BBF-4652-B8D6-3BDD44B6D409.jpeg

    So... over the top of the range (Wasatch? I think so), and down the other side. Lots of lakes up there.

    1E94F626-F468-4E78-926A-950F347342B1.jpeg

    Eventually the road descends, the mountain cool disappears, and green vegetation gives way to red rock.

    3663CCB9-0510-47C0-B002-6CE464363D5A.jpeg

    And we find out where those coal trucks were going.

    F1A30FF4-DCD1-41D6-9D0E-3DC5195DE891.jpeg

    The complete Energy Loop, from coal to juice.

    And so, into Huntington. The high, cool part of the day is over. Time to enter the blast furnace...
    #42
  3. LogHouseBikers

    LogHouseBikers Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    Oddometer:
    350
    Location:
    Yuma, Arizona
    That Skyline Road looks like a Himma road! Thanks for including its presence.
    #43
  4. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Ill-Annoy
    The “Skyline Drive Scenic Backway” is an interesting squiggle in my Benchmark Maps road atlas. The upper part (US 6 to UT 31) is depicted as “unpaved road,” while the part south of 31 is shown as “high clearance/4WD road” (Gravelly Range Road is shown as a regular unpaved road, though I would not attempt it in a passenger car). Could be all kinds of fun on a Himalayan.

    Anyway, on to Wednesday afternoon: hot, hot, hot!

    I stopped for gas and to pick up a petroleum distillate sandwich in Castle Dale, and headed south. By now I was down in the desert, and the temperature was pushing toward 100 (but it’s a dry heat, or so they say). Took an unpromising-looking turnoff toward the tiny tiny town of Moore, where I picked up a county road that ran east, cutting off about 17 miles that I would otherwise have to do on the interstate. According to my ten-year-old Utah map, it was unpaved, but the new map I picked up on Tuesday correctly said it was paved.

    43C286BF-312A-4305-92D0-B9B1D1F1E4CC.jpeg

    Rather recently, with fine chip seal.

    Two weird things in this shot. Can you spot them?

    4E761DAB-C5F2-41A9-A786-0EBBC234722D.jpeg

    First weird thing is that tall, out-of-place pine tree on the left. What’s it doing in the desert? Well, it’s actually a cell tower disguised as a tree... which raises a stranger question: this land is empty. What’s a cell tower doing in the middle of nowhere? The other weird thing is the sign: “PASSING LANE 1/2 MILE.” In the 15 or so miles if this road, I saw maybe two other vehicles. Why a passing lane here? Yet another Desert Mystery...

    Moore Road dropped me onto I-70 at the Eagle Canyon overlook, which is spectacular but utterly defies photography (at least until I get a 3-D camera). Further down was the reason I was willing to ride the interstate: the passage through the San Rafael Reef and the Spotted Wolf viewpoint.

    C5079BC1-5CF4-4662-9E60-63D4E26322D0.jpeg

    Last year I went through this stretch in the other direction... but you can only get to the viewpoint from the eastbound lane, and it’s a 66-mile detour to reach the viewpoint if you’re going west.

    I stopped here, got out my sandwich and some ice water (more on that later), leaned against a rather warm rock and enjoyed lunch. It was getting pretty warm by now, and I got some funny looks from people who pulled up in air-conditioned cars, jumped out to snap a quick photo, and quickly got back into their life-support capsules. Probably thought something like, “that biker is out of his mind!”

    After getting my fill of the view (and petroleum distillate sandwich), I set off through the Reef. Highway engineers say that before this road was built, you could stand at the narrowest point of Spotted Wolf Canyon and touch both walls at the same time. Even now, after a whole lot of drilling and blasting, the road is a tight fit.

    And out...

    0F03D83E-4D15-4AE3-83D2-EC51838C0962.jpeg

    If you look very closely, you’ll see the gap where the highway comes through this wall of stone. It is an orher-worldly place.

    Knowing there’s nothing on I-70 between Green River and Fruita, CO, I stopped for gas... and to see what calls itself the World’s Largest Watermelon:

    802BE661-5800-46C3-AE4C-1D915A594A78.jpeg

    Uh-huh...

    In the park near the Big Melon, there’s a rocket.

    3389C628-D32E-4F32-9E45-9ACFE1B5B4C7.jpeg

    Lots of towns have Cold War vintage rockets quietly rusting away in their parks, and I get a kick out of learning what they are and why they’re there (I’m still trying to identify the one in Cañon City, CO). Most are just generic military surplus, but sometimes I find a neat story. Like this one.

    Back in the 1960s, the Air Force was experimenting with ballistic warheads and anti-ballistic missiles, and they wanted a way to do these experiments without being watched by those Russian “fishing trawlers.” So Canaveral and Vandenburg were out... but Utah and New Mexico were perfect. So, between 1964 and 1973, they launched 141 “Athena” missiles from Green River, up over the Four Corners region, toward White Sands. The missile in the park is a full-scale model of the Athena. Kind of disappointing it’s just a model, but I suppose a fifty-foot stack of solid rocket fuel (also known as “slow-detonating high explosive”) in the city park might be just a wee bit risky... especially on a hot summer night (“hold my beer and watch this!”)

    The heat finally started getting to me during the 90 miles—which seemed like a lot more—between Green River and Fruita. It was the hottest part of the day, as well as the least interesting scenery, which allowed me to focus my full attention on the heat. Well, I did have the road as a distraction... it was a bit rough, and at the posted 80 mph (which most drivers were viewing as a suggested minimum), I really noticed the Harley’ three inches of suspension travel. By the time I reached the motel, I was ready to crank the AC to “arctic tundra.”

    But I rebounded quickly enough, and decided to take a quick run up to Colorado National Monument. After all, it might be a bit cooler up there. And I had that “senile citizen pass” that gets me into the park for free.

    I’d been to this park twice before, ten and thirty years ago. This time I only rode up as far as Independence Rock.

    7D763019-CB19-4762-8E9E-C573858A9E8F.jpeg

    And, finally, a wildlife picture!

    59074290-589D-4C1E-A605-E106C7B6A5B6.jpeg

    I will confess, I don’t know exactly what these critters are. But they didn’t seem at all concerned with me.

    There was next to no traffic in the park, so I pretended not to see the “NO PARKING” sign and snapped a picture of the tunnel.

    6B4851CB-C8E7-428E-A167-7916F2971BE7.jpeg

    And the “balanced rock.”

    AE79054D-CADA-4A82-8B3E-95B3D3321563.jpeg

    Seems every park in this part of the country has at least one of these (which aren’t actually balanced at all; they just happened to erode to this shape).

    Back to the hotel for a dip in the pool, and pretty soon it had cooled off enough to stroll the mile or so over the interstate and into downtown Fruita in search of some beverages stronger than 4%.
    #44
    interceptor1972, bobw and staticPort like this.
  5. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Ill-Annoy
    A few odds and ends, before moving on to Thursday (and some of the most spectacular scenery of the trip):

    Colorado National Monument is all about the straight up-and-down topography of the Colorado Plateau:

    3CE4ECFC-D9CB-48BA-B8FF-A33947E664CA.jpeg

    Can you find the road?

    Here it is...

    110DF11B-CB89-41C4-8DD7-04B1ADDD38F4.jpeg

    Complete with speed limit sign.

    I mentioned ice water. In the 100-degree desert? You bet. This thing is priceless:

    F9C6D8B7-FF7B-4829-92EF-50D1751B27F6.jpeg

    It’s a stainless-vacuum growler I picked up for sixteen bucks at the local home improvement store. While it’s intended to carry a half gallon of beer (and has, on occasion), on this trip its purpose was to be filled with ice and water every morning at the motel (it fit perfectly under most of the ice dispensers). Then, at each stop, I’d decant a bit of cold water (with ice) into the smaller (but still vacuum insulated) bottle on my handlebars. Ahhh... After a full day of riding in desert heat, there’d still be ice in the growler.

    About the only thing more refreshing came at the end of the day:

    A3CC6532-6F95-44A6-B5F9-3709543A9A34.jpeg

    Stay hydrated, everyone!
    #45
  6. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    307
    Location:
    Hampshire, England
    Brilliant!
    #46
  7. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Ill-Annoy
    Continuing...

    Thursday: Gotta Collect ‘Em All!

    Several years ago, someone remarked that with all the motorcycle trips to Colorado I’ve taken, I was going to use the state up. That got me thinking, so I grabbed an old HOG road atlas and started highlighting the roads I’d ridden since my first trip West in 1977:

    B23C9541-11E7-47B6-860E-1098ECEB7C58.jpeg

    Not many left! Just last year I added route 141 between Dove Creek and Naturita, and the newly paved road over Guanella Pass. This year I saw the opportunity to finish off the paved roads in the northwest corner of the state, CO 139 from Fruita to Rangely, and CO 13 from Meeker to the Wyoming line. Plus, I could go up a 30-mile dead end in Dinosaur National Monument, to a place called Harpers Corner. I read somewhere that it had a pretty view.

    Because Harpers Corner was said to involve some hiking (though the NPS website and the ranger at Colorado NM disagreed on just how much), and I did not want to change clothes in a fly-infested outhouse, I left Fruita wearing shorts under my Aerostich pants. Mr. Subjective would be proud of me. This meant I wanted to get on the road early, while it was still on the cool side—while it was 60 at sunrise, the forecast called for 100 by noon.

    I didn’t have high expectations for route 139, even though it’s part of the “Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway.” The line was pretty straight, the one pass was only 8200 feet, and the Google “satellite” view was less than impressive. As it turned out, the road was pretty nice, especially when the morning sun lit up the mountains.

    E1F9C6F0-CE08-4015-8929-EAF3EC00B785.jpeg

    Douglas Pass, which not that high, had its Minimum Colorado Requirement of switchbacks and steep grades.

    A552A27E-0FB7-44D6-98BF-4C4EBAAA8C05.jpeg

    The pavement, which had been new, smooth and fast most of the way, got old and uneven in the vicinity of the pass itself. Maybe that’s how they enforce the speed limit drop from 65 to 35. The pounding I got courtesy of the Harley’s three inches of rear suspension travel reminded me that you don’t have to go off-road to appreciate a dirt bike!

    0CDC52A6-2475-4BF3-9736-84F1E9C4811D.jpeg

    After the red rock desert of Wednesday afternoon, the greenery was a pleasant sight.

    301541E6-CC1E-461E-9CE4-AAA5CFE53F05.jpeg

    Down from the pass and into the desert. Passed any number of BLM trail heads and dirt roads that would be very inviting to a Himalayan.

    Hoodoos!

    24F0A488-B48C-4051-9FAC-B2449EDC997D.jpeg

    That is, those mushroom-shaped things atop the cliff.

    CBB8EB80-E10B-47E7-9A5B-19E45D607CA2.jpeg

    The town of Dinosaur, CO, is really into the big lizards—the main streets are called Brontosaurus Boulevard and Stegosaurus Freeway—which makes it a bit odd that the first thing you see when you pull into the National Monument is a sign saying this part of the park is dinosaur-free. If you want to see big fossil bones, you have to go to the other entrance, in Vernal, UT.

    Fortunately, I wasn’t here to see bones; I was here to ride a dead-end road, hike a dead-end trail, and see some pretty scenery.

    For most of its 32 miles, the road to Harpers Corner runs through a skinny pseudopod of National Park land barely wider than the road itself. And in a few places it seems the land is barely wider than the road.

    7BF1F0F1-A00C-47C1-81F4-5B018DD6280B.jpeg

    Cattle roam freely (and leave their calling cards on the road). So do horses, and I quickly re-discovered how they’re much more skittish around motorcycles than the placid bovines.

    A few dirt county roads branch off the pavement, going to parts unknown. And one road goes to parts known.

    E38FC847-E038-4F44-8672-05406BCE7FFC.jpeg

    That’s Echo Park Road, a twelve mile, high clearance dirt road that goes all the way down to the Green River, a couple thousand feet below. Yet another reason to return on a Himalayan.
    #47
    interceptor1972, bobw and staticPort like this.
  8. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Ill-Annoy
    Before I continue with Thursday’s tale, I can’t resist this GoPro snap from Wednesday. Remember that road out of Moore, UT, the one with the passing lane and almost no traffic? Here’s pretty much the only other vehicle I saw on that stretch...

    1849C088-6B43-462E-A5B0-B39013AC88C5.jpeg

    Of course. Who else would be out in this heat?
    #48
  9. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Ill-Annoy
    Had surgery on my right elbow today, so until the nerve block wears off I’m typing (verrry slowly) with my left hand. Story continues tomorrow, but I can’t resist this picture:

    582B14EF-4C73-4038-B857-144A819E7828.jpeg

    That shortcut from Moore to I-70, where I saw only two other vehicles in 20 miles... this is one of the two. Of course. Who else would be crazy enough to be out in this heat?
    #49
    interceptor1972 likes this.
  10. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Ill-Annoy
    Digression: on camera location and fun things I can do with the phone

    With the nerve block still working, and the narcotic pain meds starting to kick in, I am having some fun with the speech-to-text feature of this phone. If I use my best “Sunday morning liturgist“ voice, Siri does a pretty good job.Toys, toys, toys.

    This picture, taken while leaving Jackson, Wyoming, on US 89 Tuesday morning, is pretty enough.

    9F4E66A9-7229-400E-BDF7-DCBBC4DD8497.jpeg

    It’s also the only GoPro snap where the Snake River shows up, which brings us to a discussion of the fine art of camera positioning.

    On the Harley, I have a GoPro mounting on the left bar, in front of the hand guard.

    EC323197-1427-408B-8958-6F4EBE9ACFD9.jpeg
    This is a nice stable location, sees what’s in front of me, the button’s easy to reach, and I can see the little LED to confirm I’ve turned it on (and perhaps more importantly, off). It’s also out in front of the bike, so only a bit of the headlight is in the frame.

    On the other hand, as the picture shows, one splatted bug can ruin the day’s entire footage! And because the bars are lower than my eyes, the camera doesn’t always see the things I see—like the Snake River for most of the ride from Jackson to Alpine. Even though I could see the river most of the time, this is about the only place it shows up in the video.

    I sometimes mount the camera to a piece of plastic in the chest pocket of my Roadcrafter jacket. This is what I did during the Himalayan rental, since I didn’t have a mounting bracket on the bike.

    8A336961-E360-450C-B104-BF696D890936.jpeg

    This is a bit higher up, and gives a bit more of a rider’s view, but it also catches the windshield and other bits of the motorcycle that might be in the way. On the Himma, it’s those big honkin’ mirrors:

    376D958B-E77D-491A-947C-CB4C76195968.jpeg

    A couple years ago, while in Arkansas on my GS, I looked at my GoPro footage of a ride up the Pig Trail. It was little more than the adventures of my water bottle! And, of course, the reason my card was full when I was face-to-face with the bison in Yellowstone is that I recorded seventeen minutes of flat straight road in Montana the day before, when I couldn’t see that it hadn’t shut off. Oops...

    The one thing I’ve never had any luck with at all is putting the camera on my helmet. I move my head around way too much for that to work.

    So what do you think? I think those narcotic pain pills are kicking in pretty good...
    #50
  11. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    307
    Location:
    Hampshire, England
    Loving your story and wishing you a good recovery. Off riding now ...possibly about as much suspension travel as your HD IMG_5637.jpg

    Thanks for posting!
    #51
    interceptor1972 likes this.
  12. LogHouseBikers

    LogHouseBikers Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    Oddometer:
    350
    Location:
    Yuma, Arizona
    I have/had the same issue. My first (and only) attempt at using a go-pro was on the top of my helmet. My wife said the video made her car sick.:puke2

    If you ever find an ideal location for use with the REH please share.
    #52
  13. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Ill-Annoy
    If I can figure out another place to mount the mirrors, I’d say mounting the camera ro a piece of plastic (I used part of an old windshield) and sticking it in a jacket pocket is about ideal. It gives a sort of rider’s-eye view, but is a lot more stable and mounting it on a helmet. The Himalayan’s windshield isn’t very big and doesn’t really get in the way. Not like that barn door on the Harley!
    #53
  14. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Ill-Annoy
    Well... nerve block has worn off, and no need for narcotic pain pills. Life is good. So, on to...

    Thursday afternoon: dirt under my boots... and my wheels

    Got to the Harpers Corner parking lot around noon, bungeed my ‘Stich to the back seat, and hit the trail.

    I always seem to forget something when I leave on a trip. Never anything essential, just something would have been handy. On this trip it was the little day pack that could have carried my camera (phone) and that big jug of ice water. Oh well...

    That’s about a thousand foot drop if you stray too far off the trail.

    577DD5A9-47B3-4D22-9244-B9B897997A63.jpeg

    At times like this, remember: you can’t sue the federal government.

    Funny thing: out on this remote trail, far from much of anything, I found enough cell signal to send a text containing that picture. Nearest “town” is over thirty miles away! Meanwhile, in the Chicago suburbs, surrounded by people, I can’t get a signal. Go figure.

    Remember the Echo Park road? This is where it goes.

    A82ABEE7-F7A0-416C-BB73-C1F6E885A265.jpeg

    Echo Park, so named for the way sounds bounce off Steamboat Rock, is where the Yampa River flows into the Green River. It’s about two thousand feet below Harpers Corner.

    892EFB09-92B4-4F26-ABFD-969BF3FCEC61.jpeg

    Some of the tiny dots in this picture are rafts and people floating down the river. I think. Phone camera’s not quite sharp enough to tell, but I could see ‘em. I think.

    The trail follows a narrow ridge. On one side, the rivers wind through twisty canyons in white sandstone. On the other, the river is straighter and the layers of shale are more orderly.

    6D1C1F78-5743-4FF6-92C5-4F7FA367D17C.jpeg

    For orientation: looking downstream on the Green River from the left side of Harpers Corner.

    This next picture is looking upstream from the right side of Harpers Corner.

    F2AECC7C-3888-470D-9B92-F70B219607B9.jpeg

    From this overlook, you can see some pretty violent geology going on down there. The Green River flows down that dark red canyon in the upper left, while the Yampa River meanders through the white sandstone at upper right. They meet behind that ridge at the center, flow around the end of Steamboat Rock, and left, down toward Utah and Arizona. You can pick out the various rock layers, see how tectonics has warped them, try to figure out why a fast-flowing, canyon-cutting mountain river meanders like a lazy flatland stream. Or you can just stand there for a while and say, “oh s#!t is that cool!” I tried both. They both work.


    Back from the hike, quick change at the park office rest room (which was not fly-infested). Quick lunch of Petroleum Distillate Sandwich and Cheetos (more petroleum distillates) in Dinosaur, and I’m heading east to Meeker and up Colorado 13 to Craig and Wyoming. US 40 to Craig would have been shorter and quicker, but I had never been on CO 13 north of Meeker, while I have been on US 40, and don’t recall it being anything special.

    The sky started clouding up as I left Craig and waved at this guy.

    8B91E2EE-40E0-45CE-9834-0ECD9F04E31D.jpeg

    Pretty soon the clouds started stacking up for the afternoon monsoons.

    ABB83D2C-5E7F-44F9-9C8A-6340BC3F2A6E.jpeg

    Never got much more than a sprinkle, just enough to keep the dust down.

    99BC2383-7862-4BDF-9A38-0FFF8D8A268F.jpeg

    And dust there was, since the Highway Department had decided to take five miles of 13 all the way down to the dirt.

    9E3F59D4-9403-49B9-A70D-7D4F27880D66.jpeg

    What a pleasant way to say “goodbye” to Colorado.

    And good practice for the parking lot at the motel in Baggs.

    5CA8B66A-718B-4048-B88D-858CAE5F9C2F.jpeg

    Nice little place, the Cowboy Inn. Motel, restaurant, bar... and it can be yours for a mere million and a half bucks. Ran into some Harley riders from Iowa in the restaurant. They planned to head south into Colorado in the morning. I’m sure they’ll do fine in the dirt stretch. The Street Glide is an adventure bike, isn’t it?
    #54
    staticPort and Deflave Sr. like this.
  15. rjnutt

    rjnutt Desert tortoise

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,114
    Location:
    Washoe Valley, NV
    Thanks for sharing!
    #55
  16. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Ill-Annoy
    Friday: the Pros and Cons of Peripheral Vision

    It had been a great trip, but by Friday morning both the Harley and I were ready to start for home. My nine-month-old replacement hip had performed well, but near the end of Thursday’s hiking a couple muscles and tendons started acting up. I was limping pretty badly when I returned from dinner that night. As for the bike, it was making a lot of mechanical racket, especially first thing in the morning when it was cold. I suspected that crossing half of Utah at 80 mph in 100-degree heat had cooked the oil. Some things are too much, even for pure synthetic.

    So, three days, 1200 miles, and (I hope) at least a few interesting things.

    Maybe twenty or so years ago, I got a new Wyoming road map that proudly proclaimed, “Route 70: a New Wyoming Mountain Road!” First rode it seven years ago, on my way back from the Canadian Rockies. The road was still a bit new and unstable, including a one-lane dirt stretch around a slide area. This year, in the early morning, it was just pretty, and pretty much all mine.

    A3316C31-C8E7-435A-BBA1-2D8942061DC8.jpeg

    Somewhere along here, I saw movement in the weeds along the roadside and got on the brakes just as a big ol’ coyote came racing into the road. Managed to miss him, but decided to slow down a bit anyway.

    WY 70 is rich in scenery and history, with lots of overlooks.

    B7B20CBA-4541-4C87-8ECE-222907B28595.jpeg

    If I recall from 2012 (when I stopped to read all the shiny new Forest Service markers), it was a mining area. And, oddly, the place where Thomas Edison went fishing... and, if you believe the stories, got the idea for his first successful light bulb. This year I didn’t stop much. Had a lot of distance to cover. Besides, it was chilly and I was getting hungry.

    Battle Pass is named for... a battle.

    2B7667FA-75F6-458C-BF2C-D546973E5B7B.jpeg

    There’s a marker. I didn’t stop to read it. Wait—yes, I did. Just don’t remember what it said!

    Wy 70 ran me into Riverside, where I stayed in 2009, in a tiny motel across the road from a great little bar. This day the bar/restaurant wasn’t yet open, so I grabbed a microwave breakfast module at the gas station. I was joined by a local rider, who was curious about my handlebar-mounted water bottle holder. I think he was disappointed to learn I cobbled it together from a no-longer-relevant toll road change holder, bicycle bottle cage, and random hardware, and no, he couldn’t buy it at his Harley dealer.

    Fortified with microwave radiation and petroleum distillate sausage, I headed up to what was the high point of the day in terms of both scenery and elevation: Snowy Range Pass.

    BFB88213-1412-4BCB-B5D2-0391821510D6.jpeg

    Mountain scenery just doesn’t get much better than this.

    From there, down into Laramie, taking a few miles of I-80 to avoid the town. I got off at a rest area that marked the highest point on the interstate with a fairly unattractive statue of Abe Lincoln (Lincoln Highway, remember?). Thought about visiting the Ames Pyramid, one of Wyoming’s more peculiar monuments, but it’s on a dirt road. So instead I rode to Cheyenne on WY 210, a two lane road that’s not in my Harley atlas. Go figure. Perfectly fine road through rolling hill country; I feel a bit guilty about not taking any photos, but after Snowy Range Pass...

    I-80 from Cheyenne to the Nebraska line could be called the TINA Highway, because There Is No Alternative. At the state line, US 30 resumes as a separate (and officially historic) route.

    Our Lady of Peace welcomes you to Nebraska:

    33D8E28B-3A2A-429B-A021-56C4223AC6FD.jpeg

    Or perhaps she’s bidding you farewell from Wyoming—I don’t remember which side of the state line she’s on.

    Crossing Nebraska the long way, US 30 is more about history than scenery. Take this century-old irrigation flume, for instance.

    23CC8847-1724-42A1-93B7-6C669DD9B684.jpeg

    It rates its own historical marker, along with a spot on the national register of historic places.

    Unlike Kansas, Nebraska doesn’t start flat and get flatter. Even a hundred miles from the Wyoming line, small mountains attempt to rise.

    7277B33B-09F4-4F2D-AF03-FC6D9C9D7F47.jpeg

    Not much compared to the Rockies, but remember I’m from Illinois. This little outcropping would be pretty impressive in another 800 miles.

    You don’t find things like this along the interstate:

    922363C2-DD79-4A1C-A421-6C09AAC9E41E.jpeg

    “Honda has it all!” As long as “all” is under 185 cc. But it’s neat somebody’s maintaining this painting, on the wall of a building that doesn’t even look to be a motorcycle shop anymore.

    Finished the day in Paxton, the home of Ole’s Big Game Bar & Steakhouse.

    BB11124A-A67C-4481-8CFE-3B67A0E1198D.jpeg

    I first stumbled upon this place in 1989, and by then it was already at least fifty years old. The place is full of mounted big game trophies—the perfect place to stuff yourself with dead animals while sitting among stuffed dead animals. I highly recommend the ribs.

    It was here, sitting at the bar with a plate of St. Louis baby backs, that I contemplated the pros and cons of peripheral vision. In the morning, peripheral vision had saved me from a possible nasty collision with a coyote. Definitely a “pro,” that. At dinner, I experienced the “con,” in the form of a TV screen that was just barely at the edge of my vision. The sound was muted (saints—or maybe Our Lady of Peace—be praised!), but it kept grabbing my eye and making me twitch my head. Some days I wish my hat had blinders.

    So... 760 miles from home... and one more Destination Stop in the plan. There was a reason I chose to stop in Paxton rather than having dinner and continuing to North Platte...

    Attached Files:

    #56
    OV10 likes this.
  17. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Ill-Annoy
    Just a thought: do you have Barkbusters (or equivalent) on your Himma? If so, you might try attaching the GoPro there--the National Cycle "Hand Deflectors" on my Road King are basically street-bike equivalent of Barkbusters. Might need an extra bit of angle stock (plastic or aluminum) to get three-axis adjustment, if your bars aren't level and facing forward. GoPro sells a mounting gizmo that's the standard GoPro tongue-and-groove on one side and a standard 1/4-20 threaded hole on the other (the standard size for camera tripods, etc.). This part is your friend when you're trying to bolt a camera mount to a bike!
    #57
    Deflave Sr. likes this.
  18. LogHouseBikers

    LogHouseBikers Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    Oddometer:
    350
    Location:
    Yuma, Arizona
    Not yet.....
    #58
  19. tag3

    tag3 Doofus

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2014
    Oddometer:
    13,774
    Location:
    Inland from the coast of Santa Cruz and Trona.
    I had to throw this up. Honda makes bikes bigger, not much, but they do. IMG_1099.JPG
    #59
    Mofrid and rjnutt like this.
  20. ScottFree

    ScottFree Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    275
    Location:
    Ill-Annoy
    OK, heading into the home stretch, let’s wrap things up...

    Saturday: the International Dan Conspiracy Steals My Day

    I said there was a reason I stopped in Paxton on Friday, rather than going on to North Platte. That reason was the Kinkaider Brewery in Broken Bow, which I’d first learned about in 2015. Being a home brewer myself, I wanted to check the place out, but in both ‘15 and ‘18, I’d passed through Broken Bow at the wrong time or on the wrong day.

    Paxton is a bit less than two hours from Broken Bow via a reasonably pretty two-lane through the Sand Hills. Add the time zone change between Paxton and North Platte (in Paxton, my phone was already on Central time, apparently picking up a tower in North Platte), and an 8 am departure would get me to Broken Bow just as Kinkaider opened at 11. Perfect!

    NE 92 is a nice ride through the Sand Hills, which are actually a lot prettier than they look in a cell camera picture.

    9E0204C6-1592-4D44-8345-7579313BD001.jpeg

    There are better pix in my RR from last summer, “Rumsfeldian Zen on the Road to Moab,” because I brought my DSLR along on that trip.

    The Sand Hills are big dunes, held in place by a thin layer of vegetation. It’s said that a slight drop in rainfall would turn them back into dunes, relentlessly marching toward Omaha.

    C0FEBAF1-1D9B-410A-9592-F016C5DAF31E.jpeg

    Obviously not a concern this year. That’s not a pond; it’s a farm field.

    I arrived in Broken Bow right on schedule, bought gas at a station offering any grade you like, as long as it’s 87 octane with ethanol (sigh... Nebraska), and asked Google where the brewery was. The “don’t be evil” empire promptly directed me down a couple dirt (well, sand) roads. There was a paved way in, but, y’know, Google is all about the shortest and quickest route... and Nebraska had posted a 50 mph limit on the dirt roads.

    I had planned a quick stop, a scouting expedition—a “flight” of small tasters, maybe an early lunch, then back on the road to cross the rest of Nebraska and get into Iowa at a reasonable hour.

    What did Robert Burns say about the best laid plans...?

    Actually, things were going pretty much according to plan—the tasters, a pint of excellent Kölsch, a big pretzel... and then someone behind the bar, having heard me mention that I brew my own beer, introduced me to “Dan the Wiser,” aka Dan Hodges, the brewer. Who shares my first name (what, you thought “Scott” was something more than an online handle?). Who rides a Harley. Who retired some years back, started brewing at home, and was told, “your beer’s pretty good—you should open a brewery.”

    So we had some things in common, and my one hour strategic strike turned into (cue the music) a three hour tour of the third biggest brewery in Nebraska.

    1B04B37F-E159-4D6E-9903-F555D45FF6D9.jpeg
    That’s me on the left, in case you can’t tell us apart.

    Saturday turned out to be Kinkaider Brewing’s fifth birthday, and I thought briefly about sticking around for the party. But... long way to go still, people expecting me at home (that grass doesn’t cut itself), blah, blah, blah... And so, after swapping the Red Lodge IPA in my cooler for some delicious Oktoberfest lager, I got on my way. Decided not to use the “Dan Phone” by the door...

    11B5DE38-1250-473F-BD68-B2C6E0B01F68.jpeg

    Back down the dirt road (hey, it was the quickest; Google never lies), I was back on Highway 92, at 3 in the afternoon, with 300 miles to go.

    So only one picture, of a railroad truss near St. Paul. I took this mostly because I framed up a much nicer shot with my SLR last year, only to find later on that the shutter hadn’t opened. So here’s the retake—not because it’s good, but because it’s the only shot I snapped that afternoon.

    48B993FE-CB0A-415F-9A77-0442BE95B497.jpeg

    After that, just miles and miles of miles and miles, across eastern Nebraska, the Missouri River, and western Iowa to Carroll. The motel pool, which had been closed due to a chlorination problem on the first night of the journey... was still closed.

    Sunday: To Quote Bob Seger...

    “I awoke last night to the sound of thunder...”

    About three in the morning, a big line of storms rolled through western Iowa. When I left, around seven, the storms were gone, replaced by spits and drizzles, wet roads, and dark gray sky.

    About a half hour into the day, while US 30 was still two lanes, I stopped to photograph...

    5E1B9757-B445-40D3-8C6C-4D475F4FCF2A.jpeg

    Yeah. A piece of girder from the first bridge at this site. Plus signs that would have undoubtedly explained its significance in Lincoln Highway history, if I had stopped to read them.

    As I headed east, US 30 went from two lanes to four, to a freeway, back to two lanes in a construction zone (where it was being turned into an interstate-grade highway), and eventually back to a two-lane east of Cheddar Rapids. There, I jogged north to IA 64 at Anamosa, and the sun came out. Twenty or thirty pleasant miles through the rolling hills of eastern Iowa, and then across the mighty Mississippi...

    48D83A95-AD5F-4494-BCF6-9627EF4CB5DC.jpeg

    The sign should read: WELCOME TO ILLINOIS—EXPECT DELAYS. The new Mississippi River bridge opened less than a year ago, and already it’s down to one lane with a stoplight. And as I crossed the bridge, I saw the reason: no construction happening on weekends, but they needed a place to park a couple IDOT trucks when they weren’t working. Of course—wouldn’t want their wheels to get muddy...

    Ah... it felt good to be home!
    #60
    Deflave Sr. and staticPort like this.