The Grand Staircase

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by kickstandsup, Apr 24, 2021.

  1. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    Slotting a trip between snow/cold and wildfires/hot usually involves a narrow window even without the complications of a pandemic. But I've nailed it...a seven day, counterclockwise loop through Utah and The Grand Staircase. Temps between 40 and 90, with zero rain expected. Let's ride!

    Day 1 - Tucson to Winslow, AZ

    Every trip must have a signature hotel and restaurant. Something memorable, unusual, unexpected and just effing great. La Posada, in Winslow, is this trip's cornerstone, and it just happens to fall on the first night. The Turquoise Room, inside the hotel, was rated one of the top three American restaurants by Conde Nast in 2009. The hotel itself was originally completed in 1930, adjacent to the Santa Fe Railway station; it remains an active Amtrak station to this day. It was closed in 1957, turned into offices, and later abandoned. In 1997, it was bought and restored. La Posada was one of the last hotel-depot complexes built across the Southwestern United States, a collaboration between Fred Harvey and the Santa Fe Railway. It is an iconic landmark, on an iconic road: Route 66.

    Character oozes out of every well-worn crevice and hides around every corner.

    But first, the ride there. There are only a few ways "out" of Tucson, especially if you want to avoid the highway and the Phoenix metro. North through the Salt River Canyon is today's choice.

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    That squiggly part of the line is the fun bit.

    El Capitan pass

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    Once you get to Winslow, you HAVE to find THE corner:

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    #1
  2. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    La Posada is literally right down the street.

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    Ginger gets exclusive parking.

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    And tucked in for the night.

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    I'm in the Douglas Fairbanks room

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    First things first, it's time for a cocktail. I'm thinking gin and tonic, but not just any gin and tonic. Stroll up to the bar:



    "Do you have Hendricks?"

    "Yes."

    "Schweppes?"

    "Yes."

    "Cucumber?"

    "Yes."

    "Pepper?"

    "Um, yes."

    "Ok, all over ice, the pepper on top, last. Two cucumbers."

    Bond, James Bond.



    I call it a Siena, an homage to where we were introduced to this exceptional twist.
    #2
  3. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    Let's drink around the grounds, shall we?

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    The entrance to the Amtrak station

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    The waiting room

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    #3
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  4. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    The interior is just as funky

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    Dinner at the Turquoise Room lived up to the expectations. Spring salad, grilled filet mignon in a port black pepper sauce with caramelized onions, red skinned mashed potatoes, and a vegetable medley, paired with a bold Lodi, California Cabernet. Followed by this:

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    This was a good start...

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    #4
  5. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    Day 2 - Winslow to Cortez, CO

    Arizona, the Navajo Nation, New Mexico, the Ute Mountain Reservation and Colorado. Sounds more exotic than it was, mostly straight roads and, unfortunately, Canyon de Chelly was closed to visitors.

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    Many apparitions in the distance, perhaps the most famous of which is Shiprock

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    Elevation Dude knows that the peak is 7,177 feet above sea level. And now you do too.

    Right after this photo, it got windy AF all the way to Cortez. I'm staying at a Holiday Inn Express tonight, so whatever you need tomorrow, brain surgery, nuclear bomb assembly, getting people vaccinated, whatever, I'm your guy...

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    I will say, this is pretty welcoming.

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    Snow on the peaks

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    But tonight's happy hour is juuussst a bit different than last night's.

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    The route north

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    The really good stuff starts tomorrow.
    #5
  6. freeway crash

    freeway crash Been here awhile Supporter

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    Great RR...I’m in!
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  7. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    Thanks, good to have you along...:photog
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  8. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    Day 3 - Cortez to Escalante, Utah

    Letting the big ball of fire in the sky do its magic for just a little bit gave me the time to finish up a last minute heart and lung transplant, and check out of the Holiday Inn Express. Hang a right at the airport for Road G, heading west through the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. A fun road in mostly good shape

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    But it really starts to get fun when you turn north onto 95, confronted with a sign declaring "No services for 125 miles." Ok, I'll fill up here...and those 125 miles to Hanksville are just stunning.

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    #8
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  9. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

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    Good stuff, brightened my day!
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  10. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    Hanksville...gas and food. I don't know what it is about the rural West and Sinclair gas stations; never see them anywhere else. Dinocare Lives!

    I remember the 1964 World's Fair in NY...you could get an injection molded Dino made right in front of your eyes...

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    Then it's west on 24 through Capital Reef National Park.

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    Then south on 12, climbing into the Dixie National Forest, with a summit of 9600 feet. Snow on the side of the road and a brisk 42 degrees! It was a balmy 65 in Hanksville.

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    Check that rear view mirror!

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    The worst thing about this road are the tar snakes...everywhere, lateral, longitudinal, squiggly, straight, everywhere. And at 42 degrees, slick as ice. Not fun.
    #10
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  11. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    Over the summit and into the Grand Staircase National Monument they disappear.

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    And another one in Escalante!

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    Happy Hour

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    Resting up for tomorrow and The Burr Trail.

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    Today's route

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    #11
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  12. live2ridetahoe

    live2ridetahoe BSN, RN, CEN, TCRN, MICN Supporter

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    I absolutely love Utah! So in!

    Tahoe
    #12
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  13. smalls78

    smalls78 Been here awhile Supporter

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    Great pics! Thanks for bringing us along.
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  14. Comrade Arturo

    Comrade Arturo Veterinario

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    Spectacular scenery. Keep posting :thumb
    #14
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  15. eaglescan

    eaglescan Borrego rocks

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    Nice choice of photo stops.
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  16. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    Thanks for the positive comments, it was a great trip!
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  17. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    The Burr Trail

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    This took me by surprise. Absolutely breathtaking scenery; otherworldly, really.

    The Burr Trail connects Boulder in the West with Bullfrog Marina in the East. Both the western and eastern sides start out paved, but the "connection" is dirt with a series of steep switchbacks. A few years ago, I rode the eastern section; today, I start from the western side. There's no contest: West beats East like a drum. We have to come back with Nigel and connect the dots.

    The dirt portion is the "missing" blue line that would connect the dark and light areas.

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    From Escalante, I backtrack on Route 12 to Boulder, which is no hardship...perfect twisty pavement, spectacular views.

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    At Boulder, you turn right, and it starts off innocuously enough.

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    You quickly enter Escalante National Monument

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    #17
  18. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    Things turn from white to red and, boom, you're IN it, with ever higher walls. Photo dump time...

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    #18
  19. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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  20. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Been here awhile

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    Wow kickstandup….
    Those last 2 posts—-amazing photos of some alluring terrain.
    Who doesn’t want to be there right now?:smile6
    #20
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