The Legend of Cowboy Bob; the CO & UT BDRs and beyond

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by AZ Africa Twin, Sep 13, 2021.

  1. AZ Africa Twin

    AZ Africa Twin From the AZ High Country

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Flagstaff, AZ
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    I wanted to get this ride report out, but was unsure how to write it . Initially I thought it might be about a decision to take on the challenges of this ride with being less than a month and a half out from prostate cancer surgery, and hopefully the success of that endeavor.

    But that all changed on the first day of the ride,when I met the ultimate motorcycle rider.
    No sorry , AZ Mt Thumper, it’s not you, your close. And I didn’t run into Chris Birch or Lyndon Poskitt.

    I had stopped to relive myself in the Chuska mountains on the Navajo reservation, and there he was, Cowboy Bob. After nearly drowning him, he took his place on my windscreen bracket and there he remains to this day. He became a legend by staying on the bike though mud, wind, rainstorms, and even when I and the bike became separated in several tough sections of high mountain passes.

    So ride along with us and I will tell you the tale of Cowboy Bob and his 14 day, 2,900 mile journey from AZ to NM, CO, UT, WY, and ID, and the amazing country we saw and great people we met.


    DAY 1- Flagstaff AZ to Haviland Lake CO

    Once again AZ Mt. Thumper and I headed out across the Navajo Nation, but this time on a different route for a change of scenery. The route took us through Chinlee, Tasale, and into the Chuska mountains. Then it was on to Shiprock, NM.

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    There we received, for $1 an Eagle Blessing from a Tribal member who at first wanted to hook us with some women. No thanks, the blessing was pretty lengthy but I was later grateful for the protection I think it gave us.

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    We spent the first night at the Forest Service campground, that is north of Durango CO.. We had stayed there in the past and it has some nice views of the lake.

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    Attached Files:

    #1
  2. AZ Africa Twin

    AZ Africa Twin From the AZ High Country

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
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    837
    Location:
    Flagstaff, AZ
    DAY 2- Haviland Lake to Lake San Cristobal CO

    This was the day of truth for me, could I physically make it across the high CO passes? Cowboy Bob woke us early to report that a large bear had raided the dumpster. We of course had slept through it all.

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    Over the Million Dollar Highway we rode to north of Silverton, where we finally began our CO BDR journey. We had already completed the previous sections, including Ophir Pass.

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    At Yankee Girl Mine we met two other riders from Massachusetts. It was a fateful meeting. They were riding a DRZ 650 and a Africa Twin. We bumped into them several times on our route.

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    The passes are spectacular, and the riding fun, but challenging, on a big bike loaded with gear. On one switchback I lost momentum for the next incline and in the loose rocks managed to bounce out of the trail. No injuries, but the AT was not in its usual tip over position. A side by side pulled her back onto the trail and she started right up. Lucky me, except oil poured out of her from the air box and engine. No cracked case, & no damage, just she doesn’t hold oil well when up side down. The dipstick barely registered any, and my trip was now in serious jeopardy. The two Massachusetts boys had helped me upright the bike, and Eric, on the AT, magically produced a quart of Honda oil and graciously gave it to me. My trip was saved, and I can not thank you enough.

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    We were all astounded when Cowboy Bob was found still firmly astride his perch, obviously a better rider than me. Other sections prove also difficult on a big bike but no more tip overs got us through the passes and some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen. It had been a goal for a few years, thwarted by weather but it was worth the wait to reach those heights.

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    After the passes and dodging rain clouds we found a campsite at Lake San Christobal, run by the County. It was windy but overlooking the lane. We also bumped into our Mass. friends there for the last time.

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    #2
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  3. AZ Africa Twin

    AZ Africa Twin From the AZ High Country

    Joined:
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    I made it!

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    A few more pics from up there. Just to make you want to, or not want to, get up there yourself. It is rough l, but the biggest issue is keeping up momentum, other vehicles on the trail can cause you to lose it while waiting on them or encountering them on the narrow trail.

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    Animas Fork

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    To me the worse incline was after Animas, but the AT got me up and over it.
    #3
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  4. Carl_Mega

    Carl_Mega Been here awhile

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    Location:
    Durango
    Well happy trails to Cowboy Bob. That generation of cowpoke kept a much leaner figure than those which followed. Maybe the Nav spirit leader had your prostate well being and a different sort of test riding in mind with his unaccepted offer? We'll just call it a missed opportunity.
    #4
  5. AZ Africa Twin

    AZ Africa Twin From the AZ High Country

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    DAY 3 - Lake San Cristobal to Gold Creek CO

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    Having survived the passes, Cowboy Bob suggested a good breakfast in Lake City CO, and we agreed. I was also able to obtain some oil there, just as a precaution. A few more passes were on store for us, Las Pinas, and a slight detour to Old Monarch Pass, and a reroute on the BDR. The passes were nothing like the day before.

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    Pulling into Gold Creek, near Tin Cup. AZ Mt. Thumper had noted the campground was full of women. One of which was showering in the nude. They were a group of older hikers and we shared the campground with them.

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    Thumper had also said he would like to camp along a creek to hear it flowing. It would make for a good nights sleep..not! It kept him awake all night long with the rushing sounds of the water, or was it the thoughts of that 70 year old gal bathing?
    #5
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  6. AZ Africa Twin

    AZ Africa Twin From the AZ High Country

    Joined:
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    DAY4- Gold Creek to Weston Pass Campground

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    More passes, after riding through Pitkin, Tin Cup, and a stop at Taylor Reservoir for fuel and to check in with home. Up and over Cottonwood and Cumberland passes to Buena Vista. Was surprised that both sides of the pass into town was paved but it is a great road. A slight Reroute on the BDR due to a washed out culvert in this section. After lunch in Buena Vista we decided to skip the sandy section and just follow FR 375. Different scenery, low pinion/cedar trees and still enough sand to keep you paying attention. I dropped the bike on a short but steep rocky section, but by now Thumper and I had perfected the Monkey lift. With me being the monkey. Cowboy Bob, took it all in stride and remained on his perch but he was eating a lot of dust.

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    We camped at Weston Pass CG, and I was shocked that when my riding partner and dear friend refused to wash out my skivies in the Creek with his!
    #6
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  7. AZ Africa Twin

    AZ Africa Twin From the AZ High Country

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    SAY 5- Weston Pass to a stormy campsite

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    Weston pass was very Rocky and rough, almost jarring Cowboy Bob out of his boots. We made into Leadville, then on to Hagerman Pass. That was even rougher. Thumper got his exercise by helping me pick up the bike twice. Cowboy Bob said he wasn’t surprised that I couldn’t stay on the bucking bike for a full 8 second ride.

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    Near Silvan Lake we had another re-route due to a fire closure on the BDR route. We continue on past the lake to Eagle and Gypsum for lunch. Trail Gulch Rd out of Gypsum showed signs of a recent flash flood with rocks, timber, and debris in the road, but overall it was in good shape. An alternative loop on the BDR was bypassed in this section due to the conditions and we never saw where it rejoined the main route.

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    The Colorado River Road was line a super dirt highway and we made good time and enjoyed the scenery. Then it was back up into the mountains to find a campsite. No campgrounds we’re in the area and there was private land, with no access. We finally found a small dirt track into an Aspen grove and set up camp. Just as we finished eating I noticed dark clouds approaching and then covering the whole horizon. Then came the thunder and lightning followed by a tremendous wind and rain. We ran for out tents and I’ve never experienced wind roaring constantly for over an hour. The next morning we both agreed there would be no way to describe the storm we had camped though. Amazingly that Aspen grove protected us though it all. Cowboy Bob cussed me for leaving him out in the storm and credited the Eagle Blessing for his survival. The rain did clean him and the bikes up.
    #7
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  8. AZ Africa Twin

    AZ Africa Twin From the AZ High Country

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Flagstaff, AZ
    DAY 6 - Stormy Camp to Hahn’s Peak Campground

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    We had a late start from camp due to everything left out in the storm needing to dry. The sun finally reached us and we were on our way to Steamboat Springs. A town we really didn’t like, but visited twice!

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    We stopped for burgers in Steamboat; two burgers, fries and a soft drink, that will be $60 please! We then used our high dollar and octane burgers to propel us up yet another rough snd Rocky pass, Buffalo Pass. I heard Thumper say oh no! We were on another GPS track and rather than re-trace our route back down the pass we continued on through Rabbit Ear pass, and back into Steamboat.

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    Old Stagecoach Station

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    Anxious to get the hell out of there it was an enjoyable ride to Clark, CO and back on the BDR. We hoped to camp at Steamboat Lakes Campground but after an hour of trying to navigate the CO Dept of Parks website we learned that all of the sites were reserved although they were marked as available. The campground did have a great shower/laundry building. With it getting late and after our earlier detour, all hopes of finishing the BDR that day were lost. We found another NF Campground, Hahn’s Peak about 4 miles away. We quickly set up camp and had dinner. Then it was a trip back to The laundry/showers to get cleaned up and wash some clothes . Cowboy Bob refused to shower saying he was clean enough after the epic storm. I almost ate a Chevy grill as a truck and camper came barreling down the road never yielding or slowing down, but nothing was going to keep me from a hot shower.

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    Thumper’s great pic of Hahn’s Peak Lake
    #8
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  9. AZ Africa Twin

    AZ Africa Twin From the AZ High Country

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Flagstaff, AZ
    DAY 7 - Hahn’s Peak to Baggs, WY

    LAST DAY OF THE CO BDR…but not the adventure.

    Since Hagerman Pass, the BDR route was pretty easy and enjoyable. Wide gravel or dirt County roads made up most of it, allowing us to make good time.

    We were concerned as we approached WY about a fire closure and elected to skip an alternative loop on the BDR route that appeared to take us in the direction of the fire. The route stayed interesting as we traveled through the mountains towards the end of our goal.

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    I was shocked to see some of the amazing but empty summer homes as we approached the end. Most impressive was the 3 Forks ranch. The building would not fit into my picture, with another wing is hidden behind the trees

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    We reached the end of the BDR route in CO without much fanfare. There was no high fives or a marker to show the end of a 3 year quest. There is a small sign board and I thought of leaving Cowboy Bob there, but he said he had borrowed some used cows in WY and the law might still be looking for him. He decided to ride on with us to more adventures.

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    I had made it, not without the help of my AT, Eric & his oil, Cowboy Bob, and most of all AZ Mountain Thumper.

    (Honorable Mention to my Depend Adult Diapers and the Eagle Blessing).

    I had debated if I should attempt the ride due to my recent surgery. Would I be able to do it? would I injure myself? I had been sitting at home waiting for a sign and when none came, I decided to go for it. Maybe I’d last a day or two, maybe I would succeed.

    I found my sign in a restroom in Baggs. It convinced me I had made the right decision. It hadn’t been easy on me, but very worthwhile. Has it helped me in my recovery? Physically probably not, mentally, hell yeah!

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    Now that the CO BDR was over I decided to ride an additional week with AZ Mt Thumper to complete additional sections of the Utah BDR we had not finished. The pressure was off, the goal achieved, and the remainder of the trip was just as awesome as the first week. I have to leave this report for now, but hope that Thumper will add to it, and I’ll add my pics and narrative of week two in a few weeks. Hope you enjoyed it, Cowboy Bob said it was the wildest ride he’d ever been on!

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    #9
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  10. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2003
    Oddometer:
    7,575
    Location:
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    Sure enjoyed this ride---------------and cowboy BOB !!!!!
    Had the same surgery---not quite along with my recovery as you.
    BigDog
    #10
  11. swimmer

    swimmer armchair asshole

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    Thanks for sharing, OP. Glad things have gone well with your surgery.
    #11
  12. AzMtnThumper

    AzMtnThumper Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2015
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Flagstaff, Az
    That's a great recap and the pics are great. About three weeks before our planned departure, things didn't sound so rosy. AAT and I had a serious conversation about his ability to ride the Africa Twin very far. Earlier rides had proven pretty uncomfortable and doubt crept into to his voice during our conversation. At that point I decided that if he decided not to go I would cancel one week of my vacation and do a week long solo ride in Utah instead. Doing the Colorado ride without him wouldn't be cool. If he had to bow out early I would make my way to Montrose, jump on the Rimrocker trail and head west. So I had tracks loaded for a couple different rides and scenarios. I was very impressed with his decision to not only follow through with our planned ride but had a positive attitude the whole time. :beer When I saw the Africa Twin upside down on Corkscrew pass, I thought I might be going to Utah after all, but the bike was fine, other than the lack of oil in the crankcase and AAT was fine. When Eric the super cool guy from Massachusetts pulled that quart of GN4 out of his pannier, he saved the day! So if you read this RR, THANK YOU!! Damn, I think the investment in the eagle blessing was a good one! Here's a few pics:

    Molas Pass
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    Red Mountain

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    Animas Forks
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    Portrait mode
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    Lime Park
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    Near Buffalo Pass, part of our "bonus loop"
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    yeah it was pretty cold that night

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    What a cool first half of our trip.
    #12
  13. AZ Africa Twin

    AZ Africa Twin From the AZ High Country

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Flagstaff, AZ

    Hang in there BigDog. I’m frustrated with the recovery too. Abdomen is all healed but although the rain never really caught us riding it was a “wet” trip. Poor AZ Mt. Thumper had to stop a 1,000 times for me to relieve myself and hear me cuss in the headset when I’d spring a leak! I’m not there yet but am still hoping things will dry up!

    :dirtdog
    #13
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  14. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter Supporter

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    Location:
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    I'm with you brother------------can't believe you did what you did after that prostrate surgery---I know exactly what your going thru------------good on you.
    "Spring a leak"---now that's funny---------well-------------not really:dunno
    BigDog
    #14
  15. AZ Africa Twin

    AZ Africa Twin From the AZ High Country

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Flagstaff, AZ
    Before the surgery I asked the doc if he thought I should do it. He told me the danger was a hernia from lifting the bike or exertion.

    Leaking was a given, and I told him I didn’t care, I’d piss down my leg into my boot if I could get to do it. It wasn’t that bad but not good either. It beat sitting around, it’s a slow recovery and I’m trying to be patient and apply that sign to my condition, One step at a time and we will get there.
    #15
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  16. AZ Africa Twin

    AZ Africa Twin From the AZ High Country

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Flagstaff, AZ
    Ok, time to take up the tale again.

    Cowboy Bob and I were ready for more adventure after completing the CO BDR, snd Thumper had an endless supply of tracks. It was decided to attempt to finish the northern sections of the Utah BDR that we had yet to complete. A short stop in Craig CO and onto Maybell for some cool drinks and route planning.

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    Then it was off on the Yampa Bench Rd to Explore Dinosaur National Monument. It was a good ride with a lot of great views. It was getting late in the day and I wish we could have explored some more of the overlooks. I was concerned about finding a spot to camp, since camping is prohibited other than in campgrounds. The road seemed to get longer as the sun was beginning to set.

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    Thumper came through with one of the best spots we camped in during the whole trip. Echo Park Campground was luckily and surprisingly, not full. We were surprised to see a Honda street bike camped there and met Jeff from Rangely CO who swamped riding stories with us that night over dinner.

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    #16
  17. AZ Africa Twin

    AZ Africa Twin From the AZ High Country

    Joined:
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    DAY 8 - Echo Park to Flaming Gorge UT

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    That morning the camp host informed us that we were in the best spot to view a petroglyph on the rock face above us. With a little searching we located it, a Native Hunter with his bow hunting sheep. Cowboy Bob was impressed!

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    We rode out of the campground to explore more of Dinosaur and the old Chew Ranch homestead in the canyon. The road out was a little steep, loose and Rocky on the climb out, and I had to wonder how Jeff on his street bike had done on it.

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    With stops in dinosaur and Vernal UT, we then rode the Red Cloud Scenic By Way towards our next destination. We arrived in Flaming Gorge and made a quick trip to the dam and to the boat launch area to dip my head and feet into the Green River. Thumper spotted a BBQ truck at the dam and the great lady there fed us some really good BBQ. She made us feel right at home although she was closing for the day. She provided chairs for us to relax and eat and even threw in a free piece of cake. All her items are home made and I highly recommend Flaming Gorge BBQ.

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    Flaming Gorge seemed to be very quiet and at the end of their tourist season. The campground was empty and we spent a quiet night in the Greendale NF Campground.

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    #17
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  18. AZ Africa Twin

    AZ Africa Twin From the AZ High Country

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    DAY 9 - Flaming Gorge to Montpelier ID

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    Thumper has a background in Geology so he was excited to ride the Geological Loop. Sounds boring but was a beautiful ride on mostly a paved road. We got a little dirt in on FR 221 but this was to be a long day with a lot of pavement.

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    We also made our way to Ft Bridger for some history.

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    Cowboy Bob wanted to stay for the Rendezvous that weekend but there were miles to go. We had some difficulties in locating our dirt roads to Evanston WY, but they were good gravel and dirt which made for good time. A brief stop in town for gas, and then it was paved roads to Montpelier ID for the night. We stayed at the Rest Assured Motel, a small place I’ve stayed at on previous trips. After some food and doing laundry it was
    time for some sleep in a real bed. Cowboy Bob insisted on sleeping outside on the bike, he is one tough SOB.

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    Attached Files:

    #18
  19. AZ Africa Twin

    AZ Africa Twin From the AZ High Country

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Flagstaff, AZ
    DAY 10 - Montpelier ID to Cobblerest Campground.
    Following the UT BDR Route

    My dreams of sleeping in and enjoying a real bed ended at the sound of Thumper’s alarm clock at 5:30 am. WTF! No packing up camp why not lounge in comfort a bit? No to be, Thumper’s need for caffeine had kicked in. It was cold and a little foggy, so after loading up the bikes it was off to the Trail Hand Truck stop for breakfast. The sign in the restaurant says it all, you will not go away hungry. With a full belly and a huge pancake left untouched, it was time to hit the road.

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    Relaxing on the UT BDR

    The reason for swinging north into ID was to catch the northern end of the UT BDR near Bear Lake/Garden City. It was great to be back off road, and the roads through the Cache National Forest were great. It was cold but this was a good start to the BDR as we made our way south back towards Evanston, WY.


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    A quick lunch stop on the edge of town and then a section of RT 150, a scenic byway to hit dirt again in the Wasatch National Forest. A lot of the BDR in this section follows the Shoshone Trail. We rejoined the road again and headed towards Mirror Lake. The clouds looked ominous and we considered camping prior to climbing up towards the pass which is at 10,759 ft. The rain caught us and again it was getting late and time to find a campground. We had wanted to stop at Mirror lake, and there is a great campground there, but the rain, temps, and elevation had Thumper wanting to seek a lower site. He found it on the other side of the pass at Cobblerest Campground.

    Selecting a site was tough as a group of bull Moose seemed to have reserved a few of them. The others were occupied by cattle. We got some pictures and videos of the Moose and then selected a site a little further along the creek so as not to disturb them. Cowboy Bob swore he had ridden a Moose at one time up in Canada and claimed it was the best way to cross the Rockies. This of course was before he had ridden an Africa Twin.


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    Perhaps the camp host disposing of a large bottle of Vodka in the trash should have been a warning. Later that night they were out in their truck honking their horn and Thumper swore he heard a gunshot. I slept through most of it, after all, Thumper had gotten me out of a warm bed at 5:30 am!
    #19
    juno, GringoRider and bomose like this.
  20. AZ Africa Twin

    AZ Africa Twin From the AZ High Country

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    837
    Location:
    Flagstaff, AZ
    DAY 11- Cobblerest to Clifford Rayl picnic area

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    The weather was beginning to clear and we decided to ride back up through Bald Mt Pass to Mirror lake. It was worth the backtracking and I hope to camp there in the future.

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    The Provo River Falls was also a good stop for pictures. In Kamas UT it was snack and fuel time before picking up the route again. Rains ahead of us had caused sone road damage and at one point it looked as if part of the route was closed but two fishermen said it was passable so off we went. It was damaged through Timber Canyon and was in the process of being repaired. It was a good section and saved us a lengthy re-route. It took us to Rt 191 but only for a short ride on pavement the it was into the canyons back on dirt. It was a scenic ride with Reservation Ridge Road becoming a favorite part of the ride.

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    In Argyle Canyon the road was still muddy from the rain that seemed to be always just to the south of us. We had Sena headsets and Thumper was out front. I heard a strange language then sone familiar cuss words before coming around a corner only to see the KLR and Thumper laying in the ditch. We got the bike up and Thumper had twisted his knee. The road continued to have some muddy sections and we were fortunate to find a campsite on 9 mile canyon. Not exactly a campground, a picnic shelter. We set up under it for a dry night. Markers at an old homestead told the story of Clifford Rayl, and his passion for exploring the petroglyphs in the canyon. Again, it would have been great to have more time to explore the area.
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    #20
    grumpybear, juno, eaglescan and 2 others like this.