Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JayElDee, Jul 31, 2019.
It's time to bid Concrete adieu and head east along WA20, a remarkably fine road traversing wonderful scenery.
It often looks like this, like just outside of Concrete, one blind turn into shadows and canopied roadway, one after another for miles and miles...
...yet, will open up this this
Turnouts are frequent and very short walks bring you to cool green scenes
with glimpses of how elevated the roadway is...
Here you can see WA20 in the midst of North Cascades Park as it begins to "straighten" out
WA20 goes through the valley seen here. It's spectacular and was one of the favorite rides of the whole trip. I anticipated this, though not to the extent that it was. It gets little mention in the forums, though there are certainly those that say it is a don't miss...I am now an apostle of that view. It is pretty remote so even if there are billboards advertising it, I don't think most would venture up that way. However, it is a major east west route, though i suppose for many the lure of the interstate is too much to ignore...wtf!
Turns out, along the way was the Grand Coulee dam, hey why not! Looking like the Pillsbury Doughboy as a Italian Ninja.
The Grand Coulee dam is not named after a person. Coulee is a Canadian French word meaning dry streambed. The Grand Coulee was so named in the 19th century to indicate that the canyon once filled with water.
I was curious was it named for labor to construct it, as in Coulee "labor." Let's not think of the insensitive, perhaps vaguely racist, implications of that question, I mean who is the authority on the proper spelling of Coulee labor? Cooly, coolee, culee, coolie, what is it? I always assumed that it referred to Chinese immigrants in the 1800, but the wisdom of the internet tells me something different...
So what, exactly, is a coolie? And how much do they get paid?
The dictionary definition of "coolie" is simply "a hired laborer." But the term quickly became synonymous with the thousands of East and South Asians that traveled to the Americas as part of a system of indentured labor used throughout the British colonies.
For more info
So, I'd bet, in fact, "coolie" labor was involved in the construction of the Grand Coulie Dam, but not associated with its moniker, and is in fact, a generally ethnic slur, though, hard to pinpoint as racist. A paradox of sorts. It was applied equally to those who make up the function of that labor.
My route now turning south as well as continuing east brought a pleasant surprise...a return, though passing visit to the Palouse, an agri area of easterm Washington, known for it's gently rolling landscape. It's notoriety for photgs is that the hills are tall enough that, when seen from an elevated postion, when the sun rises or sets, beautiful, changing shadows race across the landscape. I was just riding through this time though.
Gotta love minimalist landscapes, I think...
I was up in the Palouse in 2014, went to Steptoe Butte early am, joined by a bunch of other photogs and shot the following. The shadows change by the minute and the early bird gets the best worms...I was abit late to the wormfest, but you get the idea. It's beautiful.
I am now making some serious tracks. There's a storm in the gulf that could threaten my return to NOLa, the storm soon to be named Barry, and what a phenomenal flop it was, though mercilessly hyped by all the "experts." The cone of Uncertainty of these "reports" from the "experts" should more accurately called the Cone of Hyperbole.
Today is the 14th anniversary of Katrina. I am a veteran of that storm. I am also a veteran of Camille. Those were real storms. The hype that Little Jimmy Cantore and his ilk perpetrated regarding "Barry" was awful. But I didn't fully realize how wrong the "experts" were calling wolf after wolf after wolf. I tell you what...people who live in hurrican prone areas, have seen them all their lives can read a weather map as well as any of the so-called self proclaimed "experts." But persist they did with their most dire predictions. Anyway...it was out there so I was trying to beat it to South Louisiana...spoiler alert...I did...easily. Their History Channel Ancient Aliens predictions pretty much failed, miserably, to materialize of most. "If this happens and then if this happens, and if then the Earth stops spininng, well, it is Armageddon, people! OMG we're all gonna die!"
So, I was doing 450-500 mile days. I stopped in Lewiston, and then on to Twin Falls where at El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant I came across this guy.
I ordered the special, fajetas something. His party came in after I was seated and ordered so I had a front row seat, though for his performance, any seat at the El Sombrero was good.
He's at a table for 10 at the El Sombrero and loud enough for the entire side of the restaurant to hear.
What is everybody hearing, you ask?
Well, the only one talking at the table, he's going after the everyonegetsatrophy culture, about how he raised his boys, about ghost peppers at a sushi restaurant in Idaho Falls, he calls pico de gallo, "pico,"
and... he announced that he is one of those people who don't smell.
When all looked up--and he certainly had my attention, he asked his fellow diners if he smelled...
I didn't hear ANY response,
but he then followed by up with, wait for it...
"I haven't taken a bath since yesterday morning and I've been in all that heat." It was in the 90s today.
What a silver tongued fox he was.
And in non-sequitur afetr non-sequitur, he informs all, that there was one thing that was never served at his house when he was growing up, and "don't even bring it in [his] house:" canned spinach.
Note taken, though I suspect there are not too many visitors.
I think he was the brother in law or uncle they had to include at least a couple fo times a year. he was the guy that not only the family talked about, but, hell, here I am talking about him posting it on the web.
After I got home, a news article appeared in my feed...not this one, but similar:
Thing is, I don't think this guy is in the 2%, or maybe he's in the 98%. Who would tell him he does stink?
The next morning readying for departure I notice this
What focus group came up with this name?
I find something disquieting about a toilet paper called Marathon.
Is that the message they want to send?
Maybe Sprint would be better, or if the wags prevail, Long Dump?
But under no circumstances, 4x440 Relay, or Hop-Step-Jump (Hop-Step-Dump?)
Time to move
The area where Idaho, Wyoming and Utah meet is very pretty. Lots of rapeseed fields,
and winding into Wyoming on WY530 and onto Flaming Gorge
Wyoming 530 is a fine road, but those clouds looked ominous. Within a few miles I climbed to 10k feet, had some sprinkles of rain, but in a short bit of time wound up near Flaming Gorge, Utah.
The late afternoon sun in Flaming Gorge is hard to beat.
There is a formal area of Flaming Gorge to visit and I have a couple of times, but for this afternoon it was not in the cards, gotta roll on.
This is all primo riding though, and the ride down from Flaming Gorge to Vernal drops you over 1000 feet, maybe 2000, and has twists and turns and overlooks the valley and Vernal...very hooligan inducing, not that I would ever do that. Of course I would not. I did blast past an electric lime green Challenger on the way down. I feel so ashamed!
I was on my way to Vernal, Utah. Vernal is an attractive little town with many good restaurants and located in some very good and very scenic riding areas.
It is dinosaur country...or was dinosaur country back in the day. Vernal is a nice ride from Moab and the attractions there, plus, Vernal is no slouch when it comes to it's own appeal. As I said, lots of good riding in the area and one could easily spend a couple of days there exploring, but that would not be this time.
The next morning, now making tracks to beat the "storm" (that wasn't), I am heading to Gunnison, Colorado. Took some interesting back roads out of Vernal, that were paved after a fashion.
I was mostly taking squiggly roads into Colorado, but rain was a constant threat. My plan was to take CO92 along the north side of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a very fine road that parallels US50 sorta between Montrose and Gunnison, but Mother Nature had other ideas. It was getting later and if dry, fine, take 92, but it wasn't...
The rains over 92
Earlier in the day I put on my cooling vest because it was hot. Now however as I rode US 50 between Montrose and Gunnison, a notoriously dangerous for motorcycles road, it got dark and the skies opened. The temperature dropped and my cooling vest continued to cool. I was wet and cold when I finally arrived in Gunnison.
Wanna give a shout out to a couple of places:
The Western Motel
I pull in and I was almost shivering, or maybe I was, but the lady at the desk, an owner I think, took instant pity on me. She told me to park my bike under the portico to the side, she gave me a room right by the office, IOW, close to my bike, told me where I could find rags for the bike, opened the door to the room for me so I wouldn't have to fumble in the rain. Now, there are many places that "allow" this sort of thing...if asked..., but this was spontaneously offered, noticed and much appreciated. Shout out to the Western!
The other place is the Gunnison Pizza Company, about a block from the Western.
Nice pizza place run by sorta hippie millennials, and they had a "Pizza Verde" to die for... that good.
The rain stopped and I am fast approaching the end of this mega ride. In the am I hit the WalMart for some essentials and then I was on very familiar roads, heading toward Trinidad for the night. No rain and nothing approaching cold for the rest of the ride.
My route from Gunnison to Trinidad is one of my favorite Colorado rides. However the two roads that I am going to ride don't seem to make the "best of" lists when it comes to the area. No idea why. They are just as picturesque and fun as the 3 digit north south state roads. Not as rugged as 550, but not any traffic either. the roads I am referring to are 114 and 12, both just wonderful roads.
This shot was taken where Colorado 112 and the dot are. Those are 13 and 14,000 foot mountains on the horizon. This area of the route is flat and agricultural, but 114 and 12 are NOT, but just very fine motorcycling roads.
Whenever I am in the area I always take 12 to or from Trinidad. I will detour for it.
There is a small town, Weston, closer to the Trinidad end of the route. Everytime I passed through it, I always wanted to stop, but it would just flash by. This time I was waiting for it and finally stopped.
I cut across the northeastern corner of New Mexico and the temps are still pleasant.
Typical backroads New Mexico scene
and then I get to a spot that I always stop to take a picture, Bellview.
Near the Texas border, the area looks like a ghost town, though there are people around. One time a car, not this time, stopped and asked if I was lost.
No, not lost, for me the Bellview Post office is iconic and exemplifies motorcycle travel.
The combination of exploring and adventure on two wheels, taking you to places like Bellview, places far away and out of time. And Port Renfrew, and Revelstoke, and Thermopolis; like, finding someone in a gas station in the middle of Nowhere, Wyoming who knows your home and helped when your city needed it. And this middle of nowhere is no nowhere for her, but her home. I notice those things and you would or do, too, right? Lots of emotions on these ride, but poignancy is often present.
There is something that is apart on these rides, but there is also something that is together, a unity, when all these little parts come together to make a whole, and the picture of the Bellview Post office, shuttered, blanched in the New Mexico sun, whispers of past floating on the breeze, paints that for me.
So, while in the reverie of so many stops at the Bellview Post Office over the years I did not know what lay ahead...in Texas.
What I found out later was that I was riding through a heat advisory.
I watched the ambient temp rise and at 91 degrees I put on my cooling vest.
I was headed to Abilene, and between Bellview and Abilene everything associated with living gets worse. I see 98, then 100, 102, and at 70 mph that's a furnace. Eventually the temps topped out at 108. I was riding at temps over 100 degrees for hours, pushing fluids as best I could, but no alternative than to push on.
It was brutal.
I was alert to the symptoms of dehydration and heat injury and I think I didn't have any, but heat can cloud the mind. I was probably wrong about that though
The next day, Abilene to Beaumont, was only slightly better, it was only 104, but still it was hours at over 100 degrees. Gotta love Texas in July, right?
NonStorm Barry got me going from Beaumont before dawn and the trip back to NOLa was uneventful.
It took me a couple of weeks to recover from the heat of the trip's last two days. I was dehydrated so much that I think the lenses in my eyes lost some volume from the dehydrated state, my vision was different...back to normal now.
So, that's about it. I am calling this an epic ride, and for me it was. When I left on the ride I could hear the swans telling me tales, but after the ride, the swans have gone silent. I think they are just waiting for a better and later time to start singing.
There will not be a quiz, but any questions?
Get out there and ride with the oil you're using, the tires on your bike, the windscreen you have, and the seat that's paid for.
CO-114 is a treasure...never fails to give maximum motorcycling pleasure....
Epic ride? Yep!
Epic storytelling and photography? Absolutely!
Good to hear no more stinkin' Swans!
"Get out there and ride with the oil you're using, the tires on your bike, the windscreen you have, and the seat that's paid for."
Why yes, Doc; sounds like a prescription for exactly what ails this old rider. I'll get right on it . . .
First, thanks to all of y'all that helped support the muse that kept me going on this.
Aside: it always happens when I am on these rides that I don't think I am getting good pictures, but then I am surprised that I did when I get home. I say this to encourage others who think what they are doing is somehow not worthwhile to persevere or report... it will be worth it no matter what happens along the way.
Arguably this is the best motorcycle forum out there, I think, and it is because the people here are here because they actually ride! they don't buy lawn art and fret forever over which set of Clearwater lights. So, the people here can relate. They are willing to dance with the one who brought them.
There are some forums, I posted on 3, where the response was almost non-existent. I mean after all, it's so important should I use Mobil One or Castrol or Rotella? Lots of time and work go into these things and I respect everyone that does them.
I really appreciate all of the inmates here, esp those of you north of the 49th, whose enthusiasm pushed me to do this, and whose wise counsel made this ride what it was. You guys were noticeably great!
Thanks for posting this report Doc. I enjoyed all of it, pictures and prose. Swans be damned. Ride til' you can't.
Enjoyed every word and every shot, just stunning photography. Humor that you have to read twice is always the best. Great report that will get others of us up there I'm sure.
BTW, my younger brother was the commander of USCG AIRSTA NOLA during Katrina. He flew the first helo in after the worst passed, & then for days afterwards. Proud big brother - & glad this current one isn't headed your way.
Thank him for me and the people of New Orleans. Those guys were indeed angels. I got back very very early, about 2 weeks after Katrina, and before the one-two punch of Katrina and Rita hit. Rita was as big as Katrina but hit west and didn't do the damage that Katrina did.
From WIKI about Rita...
Hurricane Rita was the fourth-most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the most intense tropical cyclone ever observed in the Gulf of Mexico. Wikipedia
Total fatalities: 120
Highest wind speed: 177 mph
Date: September 18, 2005 – September 26, 2005
Dates: Sep 18, 2005 – Sep 26, 2005
Category: Category 5 Hurricane (SSHWS)
So, between August 29, Katrina, and Rita, Sep 18, there were 6 named storms, in three weeks...a banner year
They were bivouacked everywhere, parks, "neutral grounds" (what "medians" on BLVDs and AVEs are called here), neighborhoods, just all over. Being back so soon I could go most anywhere that was not flooded. A medical license and a Vespa and I could go anywhere. Your brother's stories are probably hard to fathom, but having never heard a story of his I assure you they are true.
Surreal sights were commonplace, like a bigass helicopter flying overhead carrying a huge bag of sand to the Industrial Canal to plug the breach that...2 stories:
a barge had knocked a whole in the levee thus flooding the "lower Ninth ward"
the Corps of Engineers blew a whole in the levee to "protect the white areas of town" though the promulgators of that conspiracy theory conveniently left out that all areas of town saw flooding, including those areas that would be considered "white," like Lakeview with 8-10 feet of devastating water. Water levels, white area. That conspiracy theory still carries weight, 14 years later.
This is a Chinook, I think???carrying one of those bags of sand/dirt/rocks
Lakeview, a "white" area
Here, bivouacked at Tulane University and across the street at Audubon Park.
Our wildlife changed a bit after the storm. Egrets were sometimes seen before the storm, it was "hey, look! an egret!" but after the storm there were flocks of them in the city, and they are still here.
on the golf course in Audubon Park
and it was dangerous work they were doing. The following pics were taken a month after the storm, this is the "Mid-City" area, right near Bayou St John, a former waterway into the city in its early days.
Those were amazing and tough days for sure. It is a collective trauma for the city and after there were many many suicides. Those people who came to help us were angels.
What I found particularly interesting, and ultimately disheartening, was that during the evacuation and in the aftermath this city came together like I had never seen. The only comparable was when the Saints won the SuperBowl (not to trivialize it). We were not black and white or rich and poor or uptown or downtown...none of that mattered, everyone helped each other, strangers helping strangers.
And then on MLK Day 2006 Ray Nagin, our then mayor had to open his fat mouth, spouting words that would divide us again on race.
Ray's in jail now for taking bribes during the rebuilding process. I voted for him twice...before he went Ka-Ray-Zee.
But I am digressing...
I thanked that lady in Wyoming, please thank your brother for me. Those people will never be forgotten
Just finished reading about your journey...inspiring photos and really enjoyed the read, bravo!
Great Report. I'm glad you enjoyed our little part of the world. Sometimes those living here start to take it for granted. Hearing about it and seeing great photos like yours helps us to appreciate it the more.
You are a great story teller and very good photographer
Keep it up. Waiting to read about your next trip
It is difficult for us, living in the southern tip of Africa, to grasp the vastness of North America
You live in a beautiful country
Thanks for the kind words, Samanjo...from what I've heard your continent may even be more vast
That's not a Chinook , the Chinook is the one with a lifting rotor at both ends. I live in a National Guard flight route and often have multiple Chinooks flying over together as well as plenty of the big single rotors like the one pictured. The coolest thing I've seen fly over was an Osprey.
Anyway , great report over some places I've been as well , Kamloops , Port Renfrew , Concrete and 20 . And anyone who could handle 100 + temps for so many miles has plenty of trips left in them . You're tough.
Ha, thanks for the vote of confidence. Maybe there's a PEI with my name on it.
Looking back at it, it was an assault on my system, and is NOT recommended. The problem I was facing, besides the thought of being stuck in Abilene for who knows how long, was beating the non storm Barry back home. The hyperbolous weather people were making it sound like We're all Gonna DIE! and of course I had to be home for that. We barely had half an inch of rain and no real wind, 35-40 mph tops.
People are jumping on Trump for saying it was going to hit Alabama, but ALL the weather people had it hitting Orlando, and we had them here saying it would cross the Fla pensula, enter the Gulf and aim for my house. In truth his prediction was no worse than Jimmy cantore, and the rest of the self appointed "experts."
I was guessing about the Chinook thing, only knowing it is a bigass heli, I did see a C130 flying low overhead during the early days...Now THAT was impressive!
And thanks for your service!