Marilyn Across America

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by fletcherguitar, Dec 6, 2019.

  1. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Arizona

    Mark,

    Next time you have a few minutes not used to set up that new bike, look on you tube for a guy named Jerry Skinner.

    He does videos on past Hollywood stars, mostly cowboy types. He narrates them.

    I mention this because he sounds like he could be your brother. Its sorta uncanny.

    Ride on.
    #61
  2. terryna

    terryna Adventurer

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    Luxembourg
    I'm following[​IMG]
    #62
  3. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Arizona
    Days 15-19

    Never change horses in the middle of the stream. So the saying goes.

    I wondered if the stream happened to be the Trans America Trail, did the saying still apply?

    As much as I loved the WR250R, its pavement expertise left much to be desired.

    If I made it to Oregon, I was going to need some pavement expertise.

    So....in one of those chain of events that sometimes just happens, I changed horses mid stream.

    Read on for the story.


    After a daylong reprieve in the warm waters of Orvis Springs, I once again point the front tire of the blue WR westward, this time into the state of Utah. A series of GPS twists and turns leads to 3 Step Hideaway, near La Sal, Utah in the south east corner of the state.


    Southern Utah is almost a subtropical climate. Mostly dry, having only fourteen inches of rain per year. October, the month I passed through, can begin to register nights in the thirties, but days are usually in the high sixties, making dual sport riding a pleasant experience.


    My plan was to spend one day at 3 Step catching up with Scott and Julie Stevenson and then to ride west. Since a cold front was passing through, I used that fact as an excuse to hang around a bit longer. Anyone planning to ride the T.A.T. simply must stop at 3 Step. It’s becoming a bit of a legend in the dual sport world. For more info see 3stephideaway.com

    upload_2020-1-8_18-56-19.png
    3 Step Hideaway welcomes weary T.A.T. riders with hot foot, comfy beds and a warm shower.


    There is a barn/workshop to take care of those bike maintenance issues and honest conversation about off road riding, the pursuit of the perfect dual sport bike and the quickest way to change your tire. They also have a vast collection of off-road GPS tracks to keep a rider entertained for weeks.




    upload_2020-1-8_18-56-46.png
    The “gang” at 3 Step Hideaway.



    While bending Scott’s ear about the lightweight Yamaha WR250R and mentioning that I wasn’t looking forward to riding it from Oregon to Arizona, where I was going to visit a friend, I mentioned that something like a Suzuki DR650 might be more tolerable for all those road miles.


    Scott says, “I know guy with a DR650. And I might be interested in buying your WR.”


    “Really?” says I.


    “We can pick it up in two days,” says Scott. He lets that statement hang, then adds, “I think it has a ton of upgrades.”


    I may have hesitated about half a second, “Let’s do it.”


    The thought of sitting on the WR, from Oregon to Arizona was weighing on my mind like a chipmunk pedalling a circus bike to China. Sure, it can do it, but it’s going to be less comfy than a DR650. Others may not mind. My two hundred- and five-pound self-wanted a bigger bike. There are guys my weight and height who love their WR for long rides. It’s possible if I had taken the time to set up the suspension on the WR, I too would have enjoyed it more. More likely, I was just ready for a change.


    “Let me call him.” says Scott.


    Ten minutes later the deal is done. A day later, I'm in Scott's truck, with Julie driving. Turns out they needed to make a run to buy supplies and Julie was willing for me to tag along. to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, where I meet my new ride. A motorcycle that looks like it’s been cleaned nightly with Q-tips and chloride.


    The owner, David, says, “Nice to meet you.”


    I gaze at the shiny bike and say, “You sure you want to turn this baby loose on dirt, mud, sand and the wilds of Utah, Idaho and Oregon?”


    “Jeff,” he says, “I bought this bike six years ago and outfitted it for a long adventure. Then, life happened. The bike has less than two thousand miles on it, most of them going to the coffee shop. It’s time it saw some dirt roads.”


    He gazed at the shiny motorcycle, lowered his eyes, then raised them, catching my own, and added, “get it dirty.”


    We shook hands, and loaded the beauty into the truck.

    upload_2020-1-8_19-0-19.png
    Marilyn had changed clothes. She now wore a functional white outfit with a dark blue seat outlined in red piping. She looked stockier with more resolve.


    Last year, Scott had installed a gas tank, fuel pump and new steering head bearings on the WR. Now he had led me to a great bike on which to complete the T.A.T.


    Friends and mentors have a way of coming into our lives; at just the right moments. If we are listening.
    #63
  4. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

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    Lafayette, LA
    I'm thoroughly enjoying your ride report and appreciate the effort you are making to post, but with my limited mental abilities, which is also trying to follow several other ride reports, can't seem to follow the narrative. You had a WR 250 that you traded for a DR650? Is that the 'nuts and bolts' of what happened? Tks.
    #64
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  5. Pete Pilot

    Pete Pilot Been here awhile

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    I do like your writing style sir, much amusing. Are you sure you don’t want to be a tamed gardener? Please continue. Petepilot
    #65
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  6. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Arizona
    Davidprej, thanks for the heads up. if you couldn't follow the route from a WR to the DR, then no one else could either. I re wrote the post above. And yes, I sold the WR to 3 step hideaway and bought a DR650. Both are very capable bikes. But, for the road miles I was going to ride from the oregon coast back to Arizona, I wanted to try a DR.

    And, Pete Pilot, can you imagine the poor soul who falls for that life? Nothing against gardening, but doing so on a leash would be like serving a life sentence for a crime one didn't commit.
    #66
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  7. Pete Pilot

    Pete Pilot Been here awhile

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    Jul 17, 2015
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    Location:
    Prince Edward Island. Canada
    Yes, do think that not a single dirt rider out there that desires to spend every Saturday morning in the back yard on a leash being exercised while on their knees in the dirt. I however have a wife of almost 40 years that allows me do entirely as I please with my motos. To the point where my friends have told me for many years, they be lined up to replace me on my demise. Kidding aside. Your living large and that’s the only way. Merlin
    #67
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  8. Javelinky

    Javelinky Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2019
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    Kentucky
    I am enjoying the RR. Thanks .
    #68
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  9. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Arizona
    Day 20

    I'd sat on my rear at 3 Step long enough. It was time to continue to ride westward. So, I took off on the DR650, refreshed and ready to ride once again. The long miles and long days on the WR250R had worn me out. Had I stuck mostly to dirt, the WR would have been more than perfect. But I had a habit of by passing some sections and sneaking over to pavement.


    The DR650 proved to be a better fit. For me. This won’t be true for everyone. In fact, a case could easily made that the WR is far more capable off road. And don’t forget, the DR is heavier than the WR. Strangely, I enjoyed the extra weight. On pavement and on smooth dirt. No way was the DR as easy to ride on rougher rockier terrain as the WR. Compromises.


    Just north of 3 Step sits an abandoned gas station that was used in a “Transformers” movie.


    Movie set



    Before re-joining the T.A.T. I make a side trip recommended by Julie Stevenson to the Valley of the Castles, just north of Moab, Utah. A detour that was rewarded with red rock spires and a canyon curled road that runs next to the Colorado River. It’s a detour I highly recommend.

    upload_2020-1-10_15-23-21.png


    While riding that canyon road, I was thoroughly enjoying the DR650. This thing rocks. My mind sees a future in long distance tours sponsored by advertising agencies. Three cups of coffee later, after a stop on Moab, I’m delirious with fantasy.

    upload_2020-1-10_15-23-44.png

    Potential sponsors are likely already begging for video. A camera company has offered a free digital slr. A bike shop promises to sent a rep.


    I imagine three foreign babes in yellow bikinis fawning over the pristine DR650. Regrettably, one speaks English. But, thankfully, she is the silent type.


    “I don't always ride motorcycles, buy when I do, I ride a DR 650.”


    I really need to lay off the caffeine.
    #69
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  10. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

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    It's interesting to me to hear your internal dialogue about WR250R vs. DR650, with the DR650 being on the "too big" side of the argument. My dialogue is between my currently owned DL650 and a DR650 or smaller, with my DL650 on the too big side. I'd like to think the TAT could be in my future, but with almost zero off road experience and an "old dog, new tricks" issue (I'm 61) my thinking is that my DL650 will be the limiting factor. If it shouldn't go there, I shouldn't go there. Know what I mean? Or do I have it assbackwards?
    #70
  11. Casey miller

    Casey miller n00b Supporter

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    Orland ca
    Keep on keeping on man.. that trail is a blast. You going all the way? I did it in 2013 but backwards on a modified ct90 .. one of the best trips to date
    #71
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  12. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Arizona
    When I left Atlanta, GA to ride towards Tennessee ,(the start of the T.a.t. in 2015) I had less than 5 hours off road experience. Did it limit me? Yes. Did it really matter much? Nope.

    Someone wrote that riding the t.a.t. east to west is a training excersize, meaning the ride starts out fairly easy and only becomes challenging in Colorado. I agree

    You could ride 80 percent of the entire t.a.t. on your vstrom. The other 20 percent can be bypassed.

    However, that 20 percent is likely the most scenic riding on the trip.

    Age is not a factor on the 80 percent where your v strom could go. And its only a factor on the 20 percent because if altitude and ones overall conditioning and strength. Picking up a dr650 at 11,000 ft sucks.

    Then again, picking up a vstrom at sea level after a slow motion gravel road tip over also sucks.

    My opinion is to go. Take the dr650 and go. The other thing to take, is your time. Speaking of, guys like you and I dont have limited amounts of that substance called time. Neither do the twenty year olds, but they dont know it yet. Laugh.

    So, ride slow, take lots of photos. And if possible, find a friend with off road experience and have them show you the ropes. Or go on e bay and buy a used copy of Ned Suesse's (an inmate here) off road riding CD called Dual Sport Riding Techniques.

    Then read Big Dog Adventure blog, Mark Sampson. He is a wealth of information.

    Sorry for the long post. You wont regret the ride. As a friend says, "it aint rocket science."
    #72
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  13. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Arizona

    Wow, on a modified ct90? That had to be a blast. I'll tell a quick story about going on smaller and smaller bikes.

    After the T.a.t. I rode the continental divide.

    Last few miles of the trip in patting myself on the back and in general feeling accomplished.

    Then, I see a guy walking north, as I rode the last mile south towards the Mexican border.

    I pass him, ride to the border, take a photo, turn around and head north. When I reach him, I pull over and say hello.

    He was perhaps mid 20's.

    I say "hello, need a lift."

    "No thanks, but if you can spare some water."

    "Sure. Where are you heading?"

    "Well, I just walked the continental divide. And now, I'm thinking I'll walk to California."

    Suddenly my dr650 felt like a Cadillac.

    Your ct90 would have been at least a Nissan. And you and he saw more and experienced a completely different mindset and slower moving and therefore a more full scenic beauty.

    I tip my hat to you both.
    #73
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  14. Thinwater

    Thinwater Adventurer

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    If you are concerned, go on a bike that you can double flat foot to back it up and turn around in a single lane rd. That way you can turn around anywhere and abort for a detour. GO. Don't just think about it, do it. As long as you can pick your bike up it could be done on most any standard bike as long is its dry.
    #74
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  15. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

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    Location:
    Lafayette, LA
    Retiring at the end of the year and then - I'm on it (and off of it as appropriate). Tks.
    #75
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  16. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Arizona
    Day 21 and Day 22 on the T.A.T.

    Giant bees... Alien landing craft and miles and miles.


    Stark. And comfortably so. October dust rises, falls and settles. It’s nice to be rested, enjoying the expectations of the horizon once again.

    upload_2020-1-12_11-25-51.png

    The DR650 and I are heading north. Moab, Utah settles into my own trail of dust. I continue on, following a GPS track; certain of latitude and content with regained attitude. While at 3 Step, Sam Correro had sent his newest version of the T.A.T. It by passed Nevada. Once in southwest Utah, after skirting Bonneville Flats, the new route points directly north, running along the very western border of Utah, never crossing into Nevada. Having never ridden the old route, I have no comparison, but I can attest that the new Utah section of the T.A.T. is a breeze. The DR ate it up like a five-year-old licking an ice cream cone.


    Rolling the throttle propels this motorcycle and my armoured body over Blue Ridge road, intersecting among the cracked earth with Ruby Ranch Road. Dips, ruts, sweeping light gravel turns where I get to know this new mount. So far, so good. I'm enjoying the ride.


    The route through western Utah runs along an altitude of approximately four-thousand feet. The days were getting shorter and colder and I was anxious to press onward to Idaho and Oregon before those two states became uncomfortably cold.


    My eyes scan ahead for my nemesis. Sand. Seeing none, the surrounding landscape comes into focus. It’s an unadorned sort of beauty. Like a woman wearing colourless sweat pants and a tempting smile.


    Day 22

    The Utah desert, north of Canyon Land National Park, could swallow cities whole. A sign, twenty miles in, says “Ranger station, fifteen miles,” It goes on, “Estimated drive time to the Maze camp site… Four hours.”


    Mind you, these are dirt roads, with zero shade. How many trees? Nada. Water? Ha-ha. Engine trouble would lead to an endurance hike. I hadn’t seen another motorcycle in two days.

    upload_2020-1-12_11-28-17.png


    Somewhere along that hike, if it’s dusk, your eyes bleary, and your mind fried, certain scenery could be troublesome. Utah is the bee hive state. If the gargantuan yellow jackets don't get you, the aliens may.

    upload_2020-1-12_11-28-37.png


    #76
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  17. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Arizona
    For those riders seeking more of a how to approach, what to pack, how to pack, what tools to take, etc, I recommemd two sources. Both are inmates here.

    Big dog adventures dot com and

    @rtwpaul

    Each has their own style and each has a knowledge base that is truly off the charts.
    #77
  18. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Arizona
    Day 23

    Joe's Valley. Wasatch Plateau, Utah. It's remote. It's beautiful. It's a place I'd like to spend a week getting to know. But Oregon is calling.

    Remote sections along the T.A.T. have a way of both creating fear and creating caution. I knew I wan’t going to turn around. I also knew that I didn’t have a history of doing dumb things. So, on I rode. Still, in the back of my mind certain sections of the T.A.T. were like a buzzard sitting upon my shoulder.

    upload_2020-1-14_21-15-46.png
    Today is one of the most beautiful days of the ride so far. High praise for a valley and a reservoir, both named after a man named Joe; deep within the Manti La Sal National Forest, high among the Wasatch Plateau. Serenity, aptly describes Joe's valley.

    upload_2020-1-14_21-16-19.png
    The landscape, as one rides east to west across America changes from the rolling countryside of Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi to the level headedness of Oklahoma followed by the majesty of Colorado mountains.


    While in the first three states, the roads are mostly lined with tall trees, limiting one’s ability to see the scope of the land. It’s like riding in a photograph with walls on two sides. Every now and then, the trees abate to allow the lushness of valley to gleam through.

    Once in Oklahoma the entire horizon is visible on all four sides of the picture. The sky becomes larger. The horizon further.

    Colorado is its own scene entirely, blending the tree lined beauty of Tennessee with the openness of Oklahoma. It adds high altitude vistas unseen on the route so far.


    As I now ride through south western Utah, the scenery once again takes on a unique geographic flavour. Desert sage is framed by low lying mountains. Trees are fewer and farther between. An arid nature rolls over the land like a gentle dragon’s breath. Not as hot as its cousin just one state south in Arizona, but just as foreboding.
    upload_2020-1-14_21-17-34.png


    During my internet search for Joe's Valley, I came across a photo, taken lakeside. There was no copy-write. Few photos could better capture the essence of the place.

    It wasn't me. I swear.
    upload_2020-1-14_21-17-10.png
    #78
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  19. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Arizona
    Day 23 Continued

    The Suzuki DR 650 came to me with a Corbin seat. Dark blue with red piping. Not only is it comfortable, its also quite stylish.

    Men have scoffed at women's shoe closets. Yet, we fawn over the piping on a motorcycle seat, gaze favorably at the svelt lines of a well designed Harley or Ducati and judiciously study this farkle over that.

    I laugh silently to myself as I gas up the bike, late in the day. Its lines speak to that opposing arguement of function and form, a conversation, to my eye at least, deftly agreed upon by its design team. The DR turns my head. The dark blue seat with its red piping holds my eye for that slight moment longer. The aftermarket gas tank blends into the seat, not as an element of flowing grace, rather as a statement of intent.

    "Want to travel far?" The tank asks.

    "Yes, I do." I answer.

    And so we have. And so we will again tomorrow.
    #79
  20. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Arizona
    Day 23 Evening

    An old I pad rests on my lap. I engage its "key pad" sloppily, stumbling over a t as I try to type a y.

    Tonight, like most on this ride, is spent making notes and sorting photographs. Digging through the days ride. Prying memories loose from the stubborn recesses of scenes captured througout the day.

    Mostly broad brush strokes first appear. But like any endeavor, its the details that matter. Gaining them comes slowly, if at all. Like the recesses on a weathered face, the days details tell the real story.

    I recall favorite music venues. Its their own set of details that keep me coming back.
    14503.jpeg


    Today, one detail holds me in its grasp, stronger than an eagles talons upon its prey.

    I didn't get his name. He sat alone. It was lunch time. He and I the only patrons dining at 2pm.

    "I used to ride, but never wore one of those."

    He had noticed my helmet as I sat in the booth adjacent his own. He spoke easily, friendly, as men often do to each other when a commonality is seen.

    "Keeps the sun off and the bugs at bay." I reply, noticing his small portable oxygen supply.

    Something in his eyes looks past me. Past the helmet. Beyond this diner. He is here, but his mind is on the road, out there where he no longer rides.

    I dont recall what I said next. Likely it was a foolish attempt to reach those eyes, to offer hope beyond that portable oxygen.

    As I stood to leave and to say goodbye, he smiled. The lines in his face eased.

    "Wish I could ride along."

    "I wish you could too. We would ride hard and long. And we would tell lies and chase loose women. Maybe even catch one. "

    The soft glare of the I pad reflects upon my own face, with its own intersecting lines. Rides like these add to those lines.

    I welcome each and every one.

    Attached Files:

    #80
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