Important "Google Be Annoying" Note: If you are trying to read this after around the second week in April, 2019, you will probably find that all the photos have disappeared. This is because the place where I stashed them on Google was an (unidentified as such) part of the now-dead "Google+" service. Thanks, Google... While Google claims they will move all the photos to another Google product (Google Drive), that product doesn't allow in-line display of images on third-party websites (thanks again, Google), at least without doing the digital equivalent of standing on your head, putting all the URLs on little slips of paper in a bag and spinning it around while standing on your front lawn screaming like a chicken... So, to at least somewhat archive this tale, I will print this entire report, with pictures, to a PDF once I've finished it, and place a link in this note once I've uploaded it. Not at all a great solution, but it's better than nothing, in case somebody at some future point wants to have a look at this diminutive opus. Which, I admit, ain't bloody likely... Here are the links to the ride report PDF: Page 1 Page 2 The YouTube videos do still work. Until Google decides to "improve" YouTube, anyway... ---------- We apologize for the inconvenience ---------- "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you might like to have." --Donald A. Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense, 2001-06 This is the story of what was supposed to be my Big Adventure Trip to Moab and environs in August of last year. Things did not go as planned, despite much planning. Prologue I fell in love with the canyon country of southeastern Utah back in 1977, when I happened upon Zion and Arches on the way back from a trip to Oregon and California with my girlfriend of the time. We were both enchanted with the wild scenery of the redrock country. We promised ourselves we'd be back. We returned in 1980, riding our street bikes to Moab and renting an International Scout with no roof and a carburetor that killed the engine if it got bumped too hard (which was to say, several times each mile). We had a fantastic time in Canyonlands National Park, going over the infamous Elephant Hill, getting stuck in deep sand in the Grabens, going up to Land's End on what was at the time a dirt road... though we didn't go down Shafer Trail, because She had an issue with Edges. And that was enough to make me pick up some additional trail maps and Jeep guides, and promise that I would be back... this time to explore the area (and, in particular, ride the Shafer Trail) on a motorcycle. Which I did, after spending the next year learning to ride in dirt (this required buying a competition bike and riding a few AMA-sanctioned enduros, as there were few other opportunities to ride dirt in the Chicago area) and outfitting an XT500 as a proto-ADV bike, with a plush seat, big tank and panniers made from K-mart suitcases. I rode across the prairie, the Rockies, into Utah, and eventually to the Shafer Trail, as promised: And Lockhart Canyon, Kane Creek, Pritchett Canyon, Behind the Rocks, and some trails that may not have officially existed. It was a blast. (ATTGATT had a different meaning in 1981) I came back (via southern Arizona and Texas), and then... that was it. The Usual Suspects--job, marriage, family--pre-empted any further explorations for, well, a long time. I got back to Moab in 1990 and 1992, but both times I was on a Harley with a sidecar, so it was all paved roads (except for one memorable construction zone between Hanksville and Green River, anyway). In 2013, having reached the age where I no longer had a kid at home and could start raiding my IRA, I got the bug to go back to Utah. In particular, to ride the Shafer Trail again, and maybe some of the other scenic trails. So, I bought myself a KLR650 and started playing around on gravel farm roads. Quickly decided the KLR was a bit of a torture rack on long days of highway, so in 2015 I traded it in on a 2006 R1200GS. Spent a couple years getting comfortable on that bike, rode some dirt/gravel stuff in Missouri and Arkansas (see my tale, "Steamed And Baked In The Ozarks"), took an off-road training course at the BMW rally, made reservations and plans. Things were all ready to go. The First Day: Known Unknows and Unknown Knowns I set off on the thirteenth of August (which was a Monday, not a Friday), in the company of an old riding buddy on his Buell Ulysses. We headed across northwest Illinois, skipping the interstate in favor of "Former IL Route 2" along the Rock River, crossed the Mississippi, ran a hundred miles or so of I-80 to Iowa City (stopping along the way to see the World's Largest Truck Stop, which is... large, and a truck stop), and started picking our way west on Iowa's well-mapped, well-marked network of county roads. Mid-afternoon, we stopped to stretch our legs (that's code for take a pee) in a little park in Montezuma. That's where I happened to look down, and saw... Uh-oh. Let us now pause to discuss Rumsfeld's taxonomy of knowns and unknowns. There are of course the things you know, and know that you know (which included how to change a leaky final drive seal, as I'd read it in a BMW Owners News magazine); and there are the things you know that you don't know (how much fluid had leaked out). And there are "unknown knowns," the things somebody knows, but not you at the moment (like how to tell when you've got the right amount of fluid in the drive, which Jim von Baden knows and posted online, as I found when I got home). It didn't help any that the only dealer who was open on a Monday told me "well, we might be able to get to it by the end of next week." And she was "pretty sure" they didn't have a seal for a bike that old (never mind that same seal was used through 2017). Now, had I known that the correct oil level is right around the bottom of the fill plug on the back of the drive, I would have bought a pint of lube and a roll of shop towels and continued till I found a dealer who had the seal in stock. Not knowing how to check lube level, other than by draining the drive (which requires separating the drive from the driveshaft and draining through the fill hole, as the '06 model had no drain plug) and refilling with a measured amount, I was stuck. There's a lesson in that: learn how to limp along when things break! So, I did the wimpy thing: nursed the GS to a U-Haul place and rented a trailer. A friend dragged the trailer and bike as far as Moline, while my wife drove out in my car, met us, and we hauled it the rest of the way home. I told my traveling companion to keep going; somehow I'd catch up to him in Estes Park.