Wandering from my meandering (Latest: White Bird Grade ID)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by ScotsFire, Dec 10, 2017.

  1. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    August 28, 2018: Colorado Mountain High...er

    Expecting to ride a some of the back ways to Denver and then hit the slab, I really didn’t have a lot of expectations for the day. I mean really, I was headed towards Kansas for goodness sakes. However, after a thoroughly enjoyable ride south on CO72 to Nederland, I ran into a couple of locals (from Denver anyway) at a coffee place. They suggested that if I had never done it before, the ride up to Mount Evans, then east down Squaw Pass Rd back to the Interstate was well worth my time. They were absolutely right.
    CO119 south to Central City, then the Central City Parkway to Interstate 70 was all good pavement with better than average sweeps. Black Hawk/Central City itself looked pretty cool and would probably be worth checking out.
    Taking Squaw Pass Rd south west out of Idaho Springs was all right, the the fun definitely began when starting up the Mount Evans Rd. Twisties galore! It was too good to stop for pics for the most part.

    A whole passel of Bighorn Sheep ewes and lambs were hanging out at a pull out.
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    Not shy at all...
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    The rest of the road to the top was spectacular. The only caveat is that there was some hellacious frost heave in an about mile and a half section of the road. It was so bad that I easily caught a couple feet of air goosing it on one spot. I’m not sure if it was amusement or disbelief that was on the face of the oncoming car’s driver.

    The peak is at 14130 feet elevation, reportedly making this the highest paved road in North America. I did not expect to break my altitude riding record by 2000 ft. The next day.
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    Views are pretty good at 14000 ft.
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    I spotted something I had vever seen before near the top. Mountain Goats, a momma and baby.
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    Pretty neat!

    After a wonderful ride down, again too much fun to stop for pictures, I stopped at Echo Lake Lodge for a bite. The bison dip didn’t dissappoint. The view from the bar was good too.
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    She was actually a very attentive server.

    Squaw Pass Rd to the east was another fine collection of twisties, though traffic was more of an issue. Once down to the metro area, traffic, even with the early rush hour going on, wasn’t too bad. Only got stopped on the interstate a couple of times.
    Rode west on I-70 to Limon where I stopped for the night. I wasn’t as far as I was thinking I would be in the morning, but the detour was extremely worth it.
    #81
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  2. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    August 29 to September 8, 2018: Some thoughts about the interlude.

    I headed east to visit family in Kentucky, especially my Grandma.

    Kansas doesn’t suck like I thought it would. Eastern Kansas actually has terrain features.

    It was weird being literally the only vehicle on I-70 around the Central Industrial District in Kansas City, especially since it was rush hour. I didn’t realize until I came back west that I-670 cuts straight across, probably saving a few miles.

    I wanted to ride a bunch of the county roads around Frankfort and Versailles, but weather and family activities prevented much of that. The River Rd from McCracken Pike into Frankfort did get a nearly daily run for coffee though.

    My bike seems to visit many different BMW shops around the country for service and maintenance. Thanks to BMW Motorcycles of Louisville for getting me in on two days notice to rebuild the front shocks. They got me in earlier than scheduled and back on the road in less time than quoted. Hill Street Fish Fry is a good place to wait for said service to be completed. Nothing fancy, just good fish, fries, and hush puppies.

    The only significant rain I got for the whole trip was in Missouri. A bit going east outside of Kansas City, then a huge amount from hurricane remnants westward in Saint Louis. It rained 4-5 inches overnight. I got a real late start to,try to let it slow a little. Once on the road, it stopped raining within 20 miles, with only periods of sprinkling the rest of the afternoon.

    I detest going west on Interstate 90 through South Dakota. Mostly due to the damn Wall Drug signs. So I went up to I-80 from KC then cut through Nebraska on state highways to come at the Badlands from the south. Plan worked well, and Nebraska is much more interesting away from the interstates. However, hotels in Seward NE were inexplicably more expensive than I had to pay anywhere else on the whole trip.

    Slabbity slab slab.
    #82
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  3. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    September 9, 2018: Badlands of SD

    Attempting to avoid the scourge that is the plethora of Wall Drug signs, I came at the Badlands from the south. This allowed me to see some of it that is not in the National Park. This plan necessitated riding through Nebraska, kind of South to North. I gotta say, Nebraska surprised me. It’s not going to have high mountains or crazy deep canyons, but the terrain was more varied than I would have thought. Get away from Interstate 80 and it gets a whole lot more interesting. I followed NE HW2 Westish then north on US83, and had little traffic, decent roads, and fair weather. Apparently it wasn’t cool enough to stop for pictures, so you’re gonna have to take my word for it.

    Once to White River, on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, to took NE44 west to Wanblee. There is an unsigned road that exits town on the north end, where the 90 degree corner turns south into town. On Google Maps it is labeled BIA Road. This was a fun dirt road that degraded into a two track that passed through some of the eroded canyons that make up the Badlands. It kicks you back onto NE44 a little south of the Badlands National Park.

    After hitting the visitor center (which was trying to close as it was 5pm) and gift shop, NE240 took me across most of the northern, and more highly visited, half of the Park. Lots of awesome views, and some nice twists up and down when traffic was light. Then I followed the Sage Creek Rd (also labeled Rim Road on some maps) across the top and then south. This was a fun and well maintained dirt road, and allowed me to avoid the entirety of Wall South Dakota and the cursed tourist trap.

    After getting back to pavement at Scenic SD (it really isn’t), I rode north to Rapid City for the night.

    Route 44 west from White river is shall we say lightly traveled.
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    Turning west kind of sucked as a South wind had kept the ride quiet and improved my fuel economy north on US83.
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    BIA Road, just north of Wanblee.
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    The riding got more interesting pretty quickly.
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    The scenery soon followed.
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    Better riding.
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    Then better terrain.
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    There’s reasons this bit isn’t in the National Park, as it isn’t as dramatic. But you can’t ride through the canyons in the park either.
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    I was reasonably sure that exceeding the cautionary speed limit was not going to be an issue.
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    It then opened up and went through some farm lands before returning to 44. Maybe a 45 minute loop.
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    There it is.
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    The lowering sun made for some dramatic shadowing, but made decent shots of some of the hills nigh impossible.
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    A pic of me courtesy of other tourists.
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    Typical National Park driving behaviors.
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    Baaaa baaa.
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    A little like the Painted Desert.
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    Why it’s called the Rim Road.
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    The signs aren’t kidding: Watch for Buffalo.
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    This one actually turned towards me when ai stopped for the picture, seemingly becoming more aggressive.

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    Not all are roaming free.
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    But a bunch are.
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    Definitely another animal to add to the “Do not run into”list.

    The road got straighter and less cool. At one point I pulled over to let a Jeep go by. He stopped to make sure I didn’t have any problems, and as he pulled out remarked “Man, you’re riding the f**k out of that bike!” It’s what I do.
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    Scenic Scenic. Such as it is anyway.
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    I had wanted to go to the southern portion of the Park, but sunlight was going fast. There are supposed to be some in and out dirt roads down there that are open to vehicles. Maybe if I come back.

    Rapid City seemed a neat town with reasonably priced accommodations. The “Irish” pub downtown was ok, but wasn’t really Irish. More menu items I would expect in Aspen rather than Dublin. IPA’s really are not an Irish beer.
    #83
  4. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    September 10, 2018: Black Hills

    After a chain maintenance session and coffee in the coffee place parking lot, I headed up towards Mount Rushmore. This is the main reason I chose this route back to the NW as I had never been to the giant sculpture before. While certainly an impressive artistic and engineering feat, I can't really say that it made a big impression. It really didn't seem worth the ten dollars "parking fee", which really ticked me off as I have my annual pass to federal lands already and access should have been free. Having a parking garage kind of kills the natural vibe a lot.

    Afterwards, I doubled back towards Keystone a little to jump onto the Iron Mountain Road. All I can say is wow. Sublime paved riding. Twisties so twisted you have to go over bridges when they get past 360 degrees! Overall the riding here was stupendous, even though I didn't get on dirt at all.

    The view from the highway going up to the Monument
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    At the actual monument.
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    With everyone else.
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    The Iron Mountain Road
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    My pictures really don't do the road justice. It was too curvy.
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    Lots of other riders around.
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    And the view didn't suck.
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    After lunch in Custer, I swung past the Crazy Horse monument, but just couldn't see paying another entrance fee. It will be even more impressive when completed. Maybe my grandkids will see that. Some time after they're born that is.
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    I then headed north. I was going to go to Devil's Tower, but also was eyeing the clock. It would be nice to make some miles back towards Spokane as I wanted to be back there on the 12th.
    The riding here was phenomenal I will definitely come back to spend some quality time here.
    So I basically cut the corner of Wyoming between Belle Fourche SD and Broadus MT, then hopped I-90 to Billings. The next day slabbed back to Spokane. I had to get back there as I was supposed to go on a motorcycle ride.
    #84
  5. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    September 13, 2018: Salmon River Loop I - up the Clearwater

    My friend Brett was instrumental n getting me back into riding a couple of years ago. He and I went on a week or so ride into western Montana, including Glacier and the Yaak (Cherry Popping ADV Riders). We haven't had a significant ride since. Therefore, we took one of his extended weekends and hit the road. We only had a general idea where we were going, and that firmed up only a day or two before we left. We had another friend that was going to go with us, but he is a wussy and didn't want to risk getting rained on in Canada, where we were originally going to go). Brett and I were ok with not going to the Banff area this time as it actually was snow in the forecast, but we weren't going to let the threat of rain stop us. We ended up ridiculing our friend the whole ride for missing out on some awesome riding (when is riding ever NOT awesome by the way?) due to his delicate nature.

    We hit the interstate out of Spokane relatively early Thursday morning, headed over to Coeur d'Alene Lake. Brett had never been on the back side of the lake, so we first had to rectify that.

    It seemed odd to have someone with me for a change.
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    Views are better than my pics, as usual.
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    After an early lunch in St. Maries (the Barnyard sandwich at Cabin City Q is quite tasty - three barbeque meats!) ID3 provided an entertaining route, despite the few sprinkles. We bailed off just before Kendrick and took Southwick Rd over the top of the plateau to Orofino. This is an excellent twisty road, that was only slightly impacted by the rain that started. Traffic was pretty light, and the wet road speeds meant we didn't have to slow much. I would like to ride this again the opposite direction as the pull out of the Clearwater River canyon there would be something you could do over and over again all day.

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    Here comes the rain.
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    Along Smithwick Rd.
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    Other riders were out enjoying the road as well, though this cruiser didn't want to go as fast as we did.
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    Here comes the rain again...
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    We stopped in Orofino for an un-masculine European coffee to warm up a little and let the rain pass. It didn't take long and the skies totally cleared. We headed up the Clearwater River valley on US12, towards the famous Lolo Pass.
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    After some confusion related to letting Brett take the lead out of the parking lot of the grocery store in Kooskia, and around 15 miles going south instead of east, we ended up staying at Knife Edge, one of the Forest Service campgrounds on US12. One thing that was kind of fun was cooking for someone else. I hate cooking for just myself, but having my friend there made it worth while to make up some spaghetti. This was a bit less fun given that my flashlight died as did my headlamp batteries. Brett had a flashlight that you had to shake every twenty seconds or so to keep lit. So I'll let your imagination figure out how that went setting up camp and cooking after dark.
    #85
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  6. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    September 14, 2018: Salmon River Loop II: Lolo and Horse Creek Passes

    Morning along the Clearwater was a cool affair. Fog had formed, though not much dew on the bikes.
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    The fog burned off real quickly, though the temperature didn't change much as we were climbing the pass.
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    It stayed cold in the shadows.
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    From the "Brett's Finest Moments" file.
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    So the highway up the pass IS a very fine collection of twisties. That and the scenery make this an absolute must do for any rider. The best part is that they were working on repaving the road, so the uneven, broken surface will be a thing of the past soon! Anyone that has ridden it this year may want to return in the future for an even more sublime ride. Once again, the riding was too good for pics. It seams that I should get a Go Pro or something to capture some of these spots better.

    Lunch, fuel, and a bottle of scotch in Lolo (the bottle for later) then south on US93. The West Fork Rd peeled off just south of Darby. This was a nice road too, with some good views. Brett got some video on his phone that I'll try to get later and put in the thread at a later date.

    The road along the North Fork Bitterroot
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    Painted Rocks Lake.
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    Actually a reservoir, it was drawn down quite a bit. The south end was in use as a muddy ORV area.

    Headed up Horse Creek Road, towards appropriately named Horse Creek Pass.
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    There have been numerous fires in this area over the years.
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    We met three other riders right at the pass, including @tommybelvedere . They were heading the opposite direction, on all dirt. They were 700 miles in or so to our couple hundred of mostly pavement. It is amazing how small a world we live in. It gets smaller every time I travel. One thing they did tell us was that the store in Shoup had closed. FYI.

    We took the side road up Blue Nose Mountain to the old fire lookout there.
    Awesome view
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    Then two nimrods ruined it.
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    We thought about staying in the lookout overnight, but weren't sure if you had to make reservations or not. Also, though early, it was already getting chilly up there.

    The ride down was good too. Lots of switchbacks.
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    I'm thinking someone could get a hell of a deal on this Ford.
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    We stayed that night at the Spring Creek Campground, right on the Salmon River. This is right near where the pavement for the Salmon River Road ends. It was quite pleasant and mild overnight, which was nice as our bellies full of fajita chicken left us lethargic as all get out. It was fortunate that we had just enough fire wood at the campsite to enjoy a little of that scotch.
    #86
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  7. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    September 15, 2018: Salmon River Loop III - Round the bend

    After a very nice night's rest, we packed up and actually got on the road at a decent hour. It was a little overcast, but otherwise perfect weather.
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    We both saw and wanted to stop at the Indianola Helibase at the Memorial for Jeff Allen and Shane Heath, who were killed on a nearby fire in 2003.
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    The Cramer Fire, because of this tragedy, is one of those fires that is examined frequently in wildland firefighting training. It unfortunately shares many of the same factors as the Storm King Mountain and Mann Gulch fire fatalities. Both Brett and I are in the fire service so this stop was very meaningful.
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    And then the road continued.
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    That's a lot of gravel washed down the ravine.
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    We stopped in Salmon for breakfast at the Salmon Coffee Shop. Good grub, and a sentimental stop for me. I worked for the BLM as a firefighter way back in 1987 in Salmon, and would eat at the Coffee Shop on occasion. It still looks the same, and I couldn't help but wonder if some of the waitresses worked there back then.

    We then headed towards Challis on US93. While a major highway, this too has some really good riding through the canyons and along the Salmon River.

    I can't let him be in front all the time.
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    Camp coffee apparently doesn't agree with Brett's bladder so we had to stop often, here at one of the many river accesses.
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    I of course am made of sterner stuff.

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    We stopped at Challis for a coffee. The espresso and bakery shop is all the way west into town on the main drag. I forget what it's called, but it's in a Victorian style house. Worth the stop and a sit down on the front porch.
    ID75 turns west from US93 just south of Challis. This too was an excellent ride with enough twisties to keep your attention, and scenery good enough to be a distraction.
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    I would SO like to bring back my WR450F to ride up the roads going into these hills.
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    In the hay enclosure on the left in the above picture were a couple of buck deer that got stuck in there as I pulled in.
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    I kept thinking to myself that I was riding on the wrong side of the river.
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    And then you come around the corner into Stanley, and BOOM! Where did those come from?
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    The Sawtooth Range, which fortunately we would be forced to ride around.

    A stop in Stanley had Brett put on his rain gear back on, which looked to becoming necessary. Fortunately after a few sprinkles, the rain subsided. Still cloudy and a bit windier, but otherwise fine.
    We did catch up to and get stuck behind a couple of other riders. Actually I will call them bikers, as they weren't very considerate. They clogged up and screwed up every possible place to pass going towards Lowman. Brett got by both of them, which was impressive for his 34 horses of thunder. I passed the first but the one in front would not let me by. And he couldn't corner for shit. So we slowed way down for turns, and then he had more than enough punch to stay ahead of me on the straights as he was unloaded. The two of us totally left his buddy behind, but I couldn't safely get by him. Thankfully Brett pulled over and waited for me. I was off my bike and helmet and coat off before the buddy passed where we were parked. Brett and I waited a few minutes, hopefully giving them enough time to get well ahead. But once we got going again, we caught up to the two of them parked on the side of the road. Apparently seeing Brett waiting for me reminded the dude that he should hold up for his buddy who seemed to be a relative inexperienced rider. Then they waved at us as we went by. It was hard, but when I waved back I used all my fingers.
    A big reason the above was so frustrating is that ID75 going into and then out of Lowman is SPECTACULAR riding. I mean the best we had on the whole trip good. The hills and curves hit you back and forth. I could ride that section of road back and forth all day long. Note the lack of pictures.
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    Towards the end of the Road of Awesomeness.

    We stopped for the night in Idaho City. This is a really neat town that still has many of it's original buildings. We actually were able to rent the historic Broughan House when the Idaho City Hotel only had one room. This is owned and operated by the same owners as the hotel. We were the very first guests there since a full interior remodel. It was very nice and had lots of character. Unfortunately Brett added to it's history.
    We ate at Diamond Lil's Saloon, a very western style bar with very good food, and even better staff. Lots of local characters and other tourists. We even got to have a piece of birthday cake from one of the staff's party. They close early, or at least as soon as the customers are gone, so we had to relocate a block down the street at Harley's Pub. This is more of a biker place, but also where the locals hang out. This is also where Brett's desire to be a star didn't work out for him. I had to help him stagger back to the house. There's much more to the story, but I should have some restraint. Suffice to stay that I had to ride two bikes back to the house. At least he didn't drown overnight.

    Interesting end to one of the best whole days of riding I've ever had.
    #87
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  8. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    September 16, 2018: Salmon River Loop IV - Brett needs an IV

    After a stellar performance the night before, we didn't exactly get a quick start out of Idaho City in the morning. I hardly ever get hung over, and I was feeling it a little too. So after cleaning up and packing, we got on the road between 10 and 11. The forest roads going north from IC were pretty good, nothing remarkable, with some decent views. The surface changed from dirt to pavement and back to dirt several times.

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    After stopping for a light lunch including watching some football, and I was ready to go. Brett puked again about 25 miles up the road.

    The road along the Payette River was fun. Not ROAD OF AWESOMENESS fun, but still.
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    McCall was an unexpected sweet spot. Mountain lake big enough to sail on and a ski resort right outside town. It was pretty cool, if way out of my price range. I did take a power nap in the park.
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    Once on US95, we rode along the Little Salmon River, and then back into the Salmon River (thus the loop in the subtitle).
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    We stopped at the White Bird overlook. I kick myself now for not going back and doing the White Bird Grade. Somebody didn't want to backtrack the four or five miles... I thought I had taken some pics, but don't see them now. If you go through this area, peel off US95 at the town of White Bird, and take the old US95 route up the hill. The interpretive sign about the old road said that the switchbacks equaled like 37 360 degree circles.

    The slope into Granger ID.
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    We stopped in Granger for a relatively short day. Some rest was needed on all parts. Needless to say, Granger doesn't have much of a nightlife on Sundays (if ever). The surprisingly best choice for food was the kids pizza party place on the east end of town. The pizza was really good and they had a very impressive selection of taps.
    #88
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  9. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    September 17, 2018: Short stab back to Spokane

    Not surprisingly, a good nights sleep improved spirits, clarity, and moods. I slept good too.

    Not really a lot to write home about on this day. We stopped in Lewiston for a much needed coffee, and more breakfast as the Super 8 breakfast in Granger wasn't all that super. I also took Brett to the Spiral Highway, which is a great ride.

    The Lewiston Grade National Forest
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    Spiral Highway from the top. A really fun ride.
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    After this, I took Brett on WA 27 through the Palouse. It's never at it's most picturesque just after harvest and before the winter wheat sprouts, but still better than staying on US195. We got back to Brett's place just after noon, and didn't do much the rest of the day.
    #89
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  10. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    November 5, 2018: Kyrenia, North Cyprus

    On an impulse, I am visiting the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, Cyprus. I rented an apartment dirt cheap through Airbnb in Kyrenia, on the north shore. It took me a good couple of days to get over jet lag, but did finally get the rented bike out for a little spin about town.

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    Kyrenia Castle. I haven't done the actual tour yet, but will probably get a chance in a few days when it's supposed to be rainy. Nice days are for riding.
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    Some neat ships in the harbor.
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    Bellapais Monastery
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    I didn't do the tour here yet either, though walked up one night. Views are good, and the building is pretty amazing.

    Views from near the monastery.
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    Really not much of a ride. Maybe an hour oot and aboot. But good to be back on two wheels after a groggy couple of days.
    #90
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  11. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    September 6, 2018: Cyprus - Karpaz National Park

    Finally a real ride. But first some thoughts and details of me in Cyprus.

    I first thought of coming here around six weeks ago. It seemed a really interesting spot to get away from the rain in Seattle. After booking the flight, it did of course become a lovely fall in the Jet City. One of the things that intrigued me was that the island is for all practical purposes two countries (three if you count the United Kingdom military enclaves). The Republic of Cyprus, legally the whole island except for the British bits but in reality the south western 60 percent of the island. The other 40 percent of the north west calls itself the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. It self-proclaimed itself as such after Turkey invaded and occupied this area. Not recognized by any nation other than Turkey, it is still self governing and going about it's business. This dichotomy was really interesting to me, and has proven to be so on the streets in Kyrenia, or Girne as the Turks call it.

    I flew into Larnaca, in the southern lands, chiefly because it is an EU country and there are no questions about visas or anything like that. There are sources on the internet that say that getting a North Cyprus stamp in your passport can lead to issues, especially in Greece. When entering North Cyprus overland from the south, they just scan your passport; no stamps. It was cheaper to fly into Larnaca anyway.

    The moto I rented is a Yamaha YBR 250. There aren't really many freeway type roads on Cyprus (though some that pretend to be the autobahn given the way some people drive) so I felt comfortable with the smaller bike. Also, no gear and luggage this trip, unlike most of mine. So far so good... mostly.

    So today I got a later than wanted start east to the tip of the island. You know, something has to stay consistent in my travels. But it was a beautiful sunny day!

    Started the ride with a stop at a café for a latte. This was how the bike was surrounded during the coffee.
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    The people of Kyrenia are very friendly. Their driving not so much. I think it is worse than Mexico. But their parking is totally anarchistic. I was able to wiggle between the two cars (the van was merely passing by).

    I didn't take many shots on the way east. But did stop on a hill that actually turned out to be a wrong turn.
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    At the tip of the island is a national park, Karpaz. It really didn't look much different than the rest of the trip. Still some isolated farms, small resorts on the shoreline, etc. The only real difference was the road got much rougher.
    Apostolos Andreas Manastrin (St Andrews Monastery) is the main attraction at the park.
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    I did leave a donation and light a couple of candles for prayer. The legend has it that St Andrew was shipwrecked here and upon landing, struck his staff on a rock at the shore, whereupon a spring came forth. There is still a spring flowing next to the sea where the church is now.

    Did stop for a few shots on the way out of the park.
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    The ride back to Kyrenia was kind of long, and it got dark fast. The little 250's head lamp was fine unless there was oncoming traffic, when I couldn't see shit. I had not planned on breaking the no riding after dark rule, but will do all possible to not do so again. And the seat get's pretty uncomfortable after three hours.

    I was really missing my BMW.
    #91
    simbaboy and B10Dave like this.
  12. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    November 7, 2018: Cape Kormakitis, Cyprus

    I left the flat in the mindset to take more pictures. So I did.

    After hitting the ATM, Gloria Jean's Coffee, and the fuel station, I headed west a little before noon. Except today, I meant to leave at that time. The weather was perfect all day, with temperatures around 20c all day. The forecast had a 20% chance of rain, but in the morning, which is why I waited a bit to get going.

    West from Kyrenia is slow going at first as it's pretty urban for a while. More sprawl than anything else, as either direction off the main road, development is very sporadic. After a bit though, it gets much less populated.
    Looking back towards Kyrenia.
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    I stopped at a couple of sights along the highway, including this sculpture that I never did figure out what it was for. Some sort of remembrance it appeared.
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    So, the flags. The white one is for the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. The independent, self-proclaimed nation right? The red one is the flag of Turkey. Anywhere there is one flag, it is the Turkish one. If there are two flags, then you
    will
    probably see the North Cyprus flag too. But always the Turkey flag. Hmm.

    Someone that I was talking to the other day said that the water was very cloudy this "winter". It is much clearer in the summer she said. It seem pretty clear to me except where the waves are hitting the sand. The darker areas are rocks just under the surface.
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    After a bit, the road to the Cape got more remote.
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    The road surface was much rougher, but also more twisty! The YBR really wallowed through the corners. It didn't instill much confidence.

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    Small churches are frequent, though most of them don't seem to be used much. Go figure, as North Cyprus is Turkish, therefore a predominantly Muslim country.
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    Lots of unfinished structures everywhere, and not all of them this little. Also big resort/hotels. @flyingdutchman177 (thanks for some of the inspiration to go to Cyprus!) mentioned this when he rode through a couple years ago. They are everywhere, uncompleted and/or abandoned. The only saving grace would seem to be that nearly all this construction is reinforced concrete "frames" with masonry used to fill in the walls. I would guess that these structures will handle the exposure to the weather pretty good, and be salvageable.
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    What was doubly odd is the amount of new construction going on. Most of which seems to be brand new, not projects that have been restarted after sitting a while. Makes me wonder if someone could pick up something like this for a song.

    View from the Cape.
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    Back atcha!
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    I have met a couple of Ukrainians. Though I've seen/heard more Germans than any other group I can identify.

    I turned more south at Sadrazamkoy, hoping to get off pavement. After a few klicks, JACKPOT!
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    Some of it started to get pretty rough. But I picked my track carefully keeping the low clearance on the exhaust in mind and had no issues.
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    After following that track all the way to the sea shore, I took a break to enjoy the waterfront.
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    Cloudy water my @ss.
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    The only bad thing about this secluded spot was the trash.
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    There is garbage everywhere here, especially in the water of the harbor. A real shame.

    There are innumerable places to wild camp around, especially from a dual sport. For example, just down this...
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    ...was this.
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    Through some sand, and brush.
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    It got rough again, but kind of like Slickrock in Moab, just not so slick.
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    This is turtle nesting area, so these signs show up every so often. I did not ride the beaches.
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    The little YBR actually did amazingly well in the sand. The one hundred yard stretch of the deep stuff was a lot of work as I had to walk it from the saddle to keep the weight lower, and bouncing up and down to get some traction. If it had tires other than worn out streets, it would have gotten through like a champ. I thought every bike was supposed to have knobbies.
    As it turned out, I had more confidence in the little road bike off the pavement than on.

    Stopped at Caretta Beach and Restaurant, near Akdeniz, for a bite. Had one of three available fish dishes (not including the calamari). He said they were little fish.
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    And yes they were. They were actually pretty good. Of course there were French fries. Every meal I have had at a restaurant has had some. It wouldn't be so bad if they weren't always cheap frozen ones. I think a fresh, quality French fry place would make a killing.
    But the view wasn't so bad.
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    Afterwards, I busted it back on the highway to Kyrenia. Like I said, it gets dark fast, and I barely made it back in time to NOT have to take my sunglasses off.
    #92
    roadcapDen likes this.
  13. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    November 9, 2018 St Hilarion Castle Cyprus
    I had to hunker down all morning due to rain. If finally cleared a little before noon and so I hit the road after the obligatory coffee stop.

    St Hilarion Castle is visible from Kyrenia, though it blends into the rocks really well and I had not seen it. It was a very short ride from town. The road is good pavement and pretty twisty, but also had a handful of tourist busses coming down.
    This tower seems to guard the approach, but not entirely sure as it sits inside a current military base.
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    Whoa! There it is.
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    Training ground for the military. The road up to the castle goes through the middle of a base.
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    There are bases everywhere, most extremely small, at most a couple of acres. This was actually the largest I've seen, mostly due to the drill grounds they had set up.

    Parking was wide open as there was hardly anyone there. Including at the ticket booth. Nobody around to take my money when I left either.

    Now where does that go?
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    The first section, as it was called. Parking is just below it.
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    Probably pretty obvious, but the whole castle is strewn across the south face of this mountain, coincidentally named St Hilarion's Peak.

    Kyrenia.
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    Really old shitters.
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    No, really.
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    A barracks.
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    The royal apartment.
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    Not a bad place for a princess to take in the view.
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    Must be this tall to join the middle ages army.
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    Tour busses had started to show up about twenty minutes after I did. The horde caught up to me at the top.
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    Moo. The "ribbons" are wrappers from water bottles. One thing about this place, North Cyprus anyway, is that there is trash everywhere. Even next to a can, there will be a pile of trash nearby. I personally didn't think this use of garbage was a good thing.

    Not ADA compliant. But grandfathered in by at least 800 years.
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    The stairs and other engineering still in use. Probably not the guardrails.
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    Lets just say I got my steps in for the day.

    The Byzantine Church was pretty neat. Some nice detail work on the walls and pillars, absent everywhere else. This site was originally a church before being converted to militaristic use.
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    There are other Byzantine era sites I want to take in while I'm here.

    The only invaders on the approaches now are the wild goats.
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    On the way out, there must have been six or eight tour busses piled up. I was able to squirm the YBR through them, but would have been stuck for some time if I'd had a car.

    On the way out.
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    I took the road I'd noticed earlier that went further into the mountains. It was well worth taking.
    Views were great. Looking south over the central plain.
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    Red over white.
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    The road narrow and wound through the forest.
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    No. It's really narrow.
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    If the beach camping gets old, there's a bunch of spots up in the mountains too.
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    I did find a little bit of dirt, but not much.
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    On the south side of the ridge line, it was mostly agriculture areas. Not sure what they grow as it was all tilled up.
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    Lots of back roads and villages to explore.

    Sorry about many of the pictures being fuzzy. My point and shoot seems to be not working as well as it used to. The sharp pictures are from my iPhone.
    #93
  14. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    November 10, 2018 Nicosia, the divided city
    Cyprus

    Lots of riding today, just not much of it interesting. After a coffee at my regular place on the waterfront in Kyrenia, I bombed it down to Larnaca, on the south coast to swap out bikes. I was just not feeling the YBR250. It was like my knees were in my chest, and definitely felt cramped for rides longer than an hour. The XT660R is much more comfortable to me. It's maybe an hour and a half to cross the whole island north to south.
    I got back up to the Nicosia area before noon, depending upon which side of the UN Buffer Zone you are. Different time zones it seems, though I didn't know that until later in the day. Saw the old market area (on the north side) then took in a football match (on the south side). I ended up crossing the "border" four times in the day.

    There was some sort of military ceremony in the morning at shore. Hundreds of uniform personnel from different branches. Even a band.
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    There were several laying of wreaths by the different branches, the police, and a few civilian groups. The flags were lowered to half staff while a bugler played what I'm guessing is the Turkish version of Taps. The song was almost familiar, having the same note structure, but a slightly different rhythm. No mention of it at all in the local news that night, so I still don't know for sure what it was.

    The new ride in Larnaca.
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    I felt like Goldilocks. This one fit me JUST right. (Still wish I had my BMW...)

    The "old market" in Nicosia is on the Turkish side, but just so. Here is the buffer zone.
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    Some places it's narrow like this (or narrower), others it is a couple kilometers or more wide. But in all of it, the only development or habitation at all are "border" crossings or UN housing.

    As much as I noted the Turkey flags in the north, Greece is well represented in the south.
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    Very common sign in the north, usually on fences around the many military installations. Here on a playground that uses a small portion of the buffer zone. Must be closed up by 18:00.
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    Attaturk I assume.
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    Definitely an older place.
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    Part of the market
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    This 1500's inn had been converted to more market space.
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    Selimiye Camli. This mosque was built in the 13th century as a Catholic Cathedral. It was converted in the 1500's when the Ottoman Empire took over Cyprus.
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    I ate a light dinner at the sidewalk café inside the mosque grounds. Which is odd as I could have had a beer with dinner. But I opted for traditional lemonade to go with my mezes. The fried hellim (cheese) showed up after I took the pic, but here is the yoghurt, olives, humus, and bread.
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    And the cats.
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    Not a lot of stray dogs like other places I've been, but cats are everywhere. They seem to be pretty well tolerated, and even cared for to some extent. Especially around food places like this. Another three of them showed up a few minutes later.

    Nicosia buskers. The same but different. He was very talented.
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    And from my former life, I just couldn't help but take some pics of this building that had been on fire.
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    Reinforced concrete is a wonderful thing. Fire did not extend significantly from the unit of origin.

    So I slipped back across to the south to feed one of my other obsessions.
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    FC Apoel beat their opponent 3-0. Even though not a ton of people (the stands on my side are much more packed) the behaviors of the fans was a lot of fun.
    Maybe not so much for the away fans.
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    Big difference from the 2nd place team and the 2nd from last place team in the Cyprus Super League.

    And this.
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    Sorry for the shitty picture, but off in the distance is the biggest National F*** YOU I know about. A huge Turkish Republic of North Cyprus flag is painted on the hillside northeast of Nicosia. This bad boy can be seen from just north of Larnaca, about 40 km away. And yes, it lights up like a Christmas tree at night! Just in case you Greek Cypriots forget we stole part of your country.
    #94
  15. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    November 11, 2018: Kolossi Castle, Ancient Kourion, and then some.
    Cyprus

    Spent a long time riding today, though most of the KM's were slab if you can believe it. My earlier statement about no freeways on Cyprus is wrong. There are several, on both sides of the "green line" as I've heard it called. Seemingly all going to Nicosia, but not through. And freeway is a little bit of a misnomer as you can be tooling around at 120 or more (km/h, just keeping up with traffic sir) and all of a sudden instead of an interchange, there's a roundabout.
    So took said quasi-freeway (I want to call it an interstate, but not sure the word state works in this context) past Limassol on the south coast. Total trip from Kyrenia not quite two hours. Third largest island in the Med still isn't that big when you can get to freeway speeds. I would guess there are no two places on the entire island that you couldn't ride between in a few hours, route dependent, even tip to tip. Really reminds you just how large geographically the United States is.
    Once past Limassol, I visited the mediaeval castle of Kolossi. This one isn't nearly as large or impressive as the others I have visited, but still worth a stop.
    Then I entered one of the two British Sovereign Base Areas. These two "enclaves" were retained by the United Kingdom when they granted Cyprus independence in the 1960's. One cannot really tell the difference as there is no crossing, nor even a sign. But this area has the Kourion Archeological sites. This is a mix of Roman and early Christian ruins. These were one of the draws for me to come to Cyprus in the first place.
    After a few hours there, I had a meal on the beach below the site then headed north into the mountains looking for some small churches that are on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Fortunately, I couldn't find them at all. Mostly as I hadn't researched them enough to know what I was looking for. I say fortunately as I was forced to ride around in the Troodos Mountains all afternoon, and that's some great riding to be done.

    But first, the obligatory coffee by the shore.
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    It continually blows my mind just how BLUE the Mediterranean Sea is. Way more than this picture shows.

    Kolossi Castle
    [​IMG]
    With prerequisite German tourists. I've seen more Germans here than any other non-Cyprus people. Must have been a real deal on tours there. The only place I see much other than them are the numerous English in Kyrenia, and them almost only in the expat pubs.

    But I digress...
    Here are some of the original castle parts. Reportedly built in 1210.
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    The current, standing castle was built in the 1454, and was at points operated by of both the Knights Templar and Hospitallers. It was the last headquarters of the Templars before they were declared heretics by the Pope.

    A fresco of the crucifixion.
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    First floor store room.
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    Stairs. One could see the advantage a defender on the up side had.
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    The commander's apartment.
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    The coat of arms on the exterior of the structure.
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    http://www.mcw.gov.cy/mcw/DA/DA.nsf/All/715C0A5218C174DFC225719900331A09?OpenDocument

    After leaving the castle, it was a very short ride to Kourion. The whole place is probably twenty or more acres, and sits on a bluff overlooking the sea. The Romans certainly picked a nice location.
    I visited the theater first, an open amphitheater looking out to the sea. Seating around 5000 people, it has been reconstructed.
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    The Roman baths were next. This one, the frigidarium or cold bath, still had the tile floor intact.
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    The hot baths were all collapsed, but that is because they were suspended. These piles of tiles created a space for fires that would heat the water.
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    Not a bad view from sitting in the pool, eh?
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    There are quite a few mosaic floors here, this one done in pebbles.
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    Others used small tiles.
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    And again, nice view from the front porch.
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    Then I went to the Gladiator House. It is called that because of the detailed mosaics on the floor with named gladiators, heroes of the day.
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    As I mentioned, for some reason I just had to see these mosaics when I was deciding to come to Cyprus or not. It was a real thrill to see them.
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    This is the Episcopalian Basilica. It is a little bit newer than many of the structures here, from the early 400's.
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    The latest design in carved stone sinks.
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    The Earthquake House, so called as it was destroyed by an earthquake, but was not excavated after the event. So it sat with the snapshot of life there till modern archeologists dug it up. The family's skeletons were found inside, as was their donkey.
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    In one very large house, thought at first to be a palace, is this interesting mosaic floor.
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    What makes this so interesting (other than the age and condition of course) is that at the other end of the hall, is this.
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    (Note: Angle is weird as I rotated this picture 180 degrees to put the face right side up.)
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    Asking for Christ's blessing upon the building and occupants, but also honoring the Roman Goddess of creation.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kourion

    Must be time for a break.
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    Rough duty, but someone's gotta do it.
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    The seafood platter was pretty good, and included the best fries I've had in Cyprus. EVERY meal comes with fries BTW. Usually shitty frozen ones.

    But wait, there's more!
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    The Troodos Mountains are AMAZING! The far too short afternoon ride was the best of the trip (so far)! I was trying to find the churches, but failed gloriously.
    Hillside villages are common.
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    I rode through this one to find a mediaeval bridge that a sign pointed to from the "main road". This was one of those times I really wish I had a gopro or some such, as the narrow village streets were really cool. Streets is probably a generous term as I could have touched walls on either side of me a couple of times if I'd have been stopped.
    But I did find the bridge.
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    As you can see, the shadows were deepening, and I didn't want to be in the mountains after dark. The roads, while spectacular in view and riding, did have a fair amount of rock and gravel on them. So rather than risk a fall, I called it a wonderful day.

    Though I did really want to see those churches....
    #95
    B10Dave and Suncoaster like this.
  16. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    November 12, 2018: Troodos Mountains and Byzantine Frescos
    Cyprus

    So when the weather was better in the morning than predicted, I hit the road quickly. Well, quicker than normal anyway.
    I backtracked the way I had gone back to Kyrenia the day before, but with a plan and necessary research completed. I would try to get to a few of the ten churches recognized by UNESCO as world heritage sites. These ten churches are clustered in a relatively small area in the Troodos Mountains. So, gosh darn it, I would have to spend the day in the best riding area on Cyprus.
    [​IMG]

    The crossing at Astromeritis is much less crowded, though the clerk was confused by my rental agreement, which had my required insurance information for the Republic of Cyprus. He wasn't at all impressed when I showed him my separate insurance for North Cyprus, though all I was trying to do was show him the license plate number.

    Panagia Asinou was the first of the churches I stopped at, conveniently (for me anyway) located just as I got to the mountains.
    The outside is pretty typical for small churches.
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    But the inside...
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    Nearly every surface had fresco paintings on it. I recognized many, many stories of Jesus.
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    And my new favorite nativity scene.
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    To say that it was amazing would be an understatement. This church was one of the oldest of the ten listed collectively as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the frescos. It also had the most complete and intact paintings I saw.

    There was a doctoral student taking pictures of the natural light every fifteen minutes with the doors closed. It was very interesting talking to her about her project and the church. Even more interesting that I knew more about the other nine churches than she did. And I didn't know much at all.
    Not too impressive a structure. And amazingly, these are open and free to the public.
    [​IMG]
    http://www.mcw.gov.cy/mcw/da/da.nsf/All/AB4501039DBBC4ABC22571990031F7A8?OpenDocument

    After a good while at the church, I continued to head into the mountains. There was a sign showing the way to another village. I will say this about Cyprus, it is easy to figure out where you're going. Signs point the way to nearly any nearby village or large city.
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    The views got good fast with the altitude.
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    I pulled in at a fire lookout on the top of the mountain, not expecting anyone to be there. But was greeted and welcomed by a firefighter staffing the tower. He immediately offered me coffee. My first reaction was to refuse, but I know that hospitality is a valued trait in many cultures so accepted. The Cyprus coffee was strong and good! I didn't catch his name, but shortly afterwards his brother Mario, also a firefighter, arrived. We had a good discussion about fighting wildland fires, and also about the situation of the divided country. It was weird that I had easier access to the north, where these brothers' mother still "owned" a house, than they did. Of course, they were also not happy that a Turk lived in their mom's place. I didn't tell them that I was staying in the north, but did tell them some of my observations from there. Very friendly men.
    The Cyprus version of a Type 6 engine.
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    This route through the mountains was dirt roads. YAY!
    I did have the rear wheel slide out from under me at one point. The XT660R is the supermoto version, so the road tires were a little too smooth. It will be interesting how this affects my damage deposit...
    But otherwise, it was just like riding forest roads back in Washington or Idaho...
    [​IMG]
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    ...except different.
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    The pavement was pretty awesome too.
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    And the villages.
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    This is the main highway through town.

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    I rode to the top of Mount Olympus.
    https://www.dangerousroads.org/europe/cyprus/3229-mount-olympus.html
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    High enough to be in the clouds. Fortunately no rain barring a couple drops or three.
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    So after going to the wrong place and looking at a small chapel at a convent (1. Nuns make good tea! 2. After being asked if I was Orthodox or Catholic, I replied Protestant. I got a little eye roll from the nun, who then asked if I realized this was an Orthodox church.), I was directed to the correct village, and after wandering past it twice, found another of the churches.
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    No. Not that one. Though it was nice too.
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    Nice view too.
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    This is the Chapel of St Georgios. Still really old (14th century) but not one of the UNESCO sites.
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    This is the one I was looking for. Maybe a hundred meters away from the last.
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    The frescos are not as intact, but still impressive.
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    Same bible stories.
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    Though I had not noticed Judas betrayal of Jesus at Asinou (though it is there in the above pics).
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    http://www.mcw.gov.cy/mcw/DA/DA.nsf/All/D428666FED03784D42257A78003413F0?OpenDocument

    The village of Pedoulas, as shown above, has a trove of churches all of it's own.
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    It would be easy to spend a whole day here walking the village and seeing these. You'd get your steps in too.

    The shadows were getting long by now, but there is another of these UNESCO sites in the next village of Moutoullia.
    Panagia tou Moutoullia is older than the last chruch, being built in the early 1200's.
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    http://www.mcw.gov.cy/mcw/DA/DA.nsf/All/6EA9C6E0BDC399DC42257A780033CCB9?OpenDocument
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    The frescos here were also not as intact. All of these buildings have been damaged by earthquakes. That they still exist at all is amazing. (Yes, I am using that word a lot.)
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    The frescos are amazingly reflective.
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    It took me four tries to get this shot without a blinding glare from the flash.

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    I totally forgot to get an outside shot of the church. I was distracted by the view.
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    These mountain villages are incredible! The building in the below picture at top center is the Church.
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    One of my objectives of this trip was to scout a possible "home base" for exploring Europe and the Near East. I could totally spend a winter in Padoulas or Moutoullia.
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    Oh yeah. There was still some awesome riding to be had.
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    This day was by far my most enjoyable in Cyprus. I know, hard to believe without even one significant sea sighting. If any of you ever go to Cyprus, you MUST ride the Troodos Mountains.
    #96
    B10Dave likes this.
  17. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    November 14, 2018: Famagusta Cyprus

    After a mostly planned down day enforced by the heaviest daytime rain of the trip on the 13th, my time in Kyrenia was over. I had another two nights on Cyprus, but was spending them in Larnaca at another AirBnB. But I took the long way there, through Famagusta. I didn’t say the scenic route, as it was mostly slab through plowed fields and light industrial once through the Kyrenia mountains. The riding was only marginally better between Famagusta and Larnaca, the highlights being those sections of the freeway on the bluff overlooking the Sea. Overall, not a great riding day per se, especially compared to the mountains. But it was still a very interesting day.

    The biggest draw to Famagusta is the Venetian walled city. Lots of old buildings and ruins to see, and a nice market area. Other than riding the inside perimeter of the walls (I always wanted to “inspect” the walls of a fortress city) the best way to see things is by walking.
    After that, I wanted to see as much as possible the Varosha area. This was evacuated/fled by the largely Greek Cypriot residents as the Turkish tanks advanced in 1974. The Turks fenced it off and it has been vacant ever since. It is a large area that was at the time the biggest and most developed tourist area of the entire island. The only thing that seems as near a big waste is Nicosia International Airport, similarly abandoned.

    Going through the Kyrenia Mountains, there were some dirt roads that went into the hills. I was sorely tempted, but had to get to Famagusta.
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    Bye bye Kyrenia!
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    The entrances into the walled city were just what you'd imagine: gates. This was the biggest of the three.
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    View from the wall.
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    Famagusta is supposedly the best natural harbor on the entire island.
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    The moat.
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    There was a small cemetery just inside the walls for "martyred" Turkish Cypriots and Turks during the communal violence of the 70's and then the invasions.
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    The Castle was huge, with a whole town inside.
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    A large modern city surrounds this.

    Bridge to another entry gate.
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    More moat.
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    Looking inward.
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    a real mix of ancient and 19th and mid 20th century buildings. Nothing really new (though that term is more relative here than many places).

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    At one of the churches converted into a mosque, they were having an art show.
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    Restored with US Tax dollars. Hmm.
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    It was cool inside.
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    Some of the art in the show was not subject matter I expected in Cyprus...
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    ...nor in a church/mosque.
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    There were some remnants of some Christian art on the wall. Really surprising given how the Ottomans converted it to a mosque.
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    Outside, the market was getting busier. The roast lamb I had there was one of the best meals of the trip.
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    There were lots of other ruined buildings, almost all churches. Famagusta used to be known as the City with a church for each day of the year.
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    Another cathedral cum mosque. Also changed in the 1500's by the Ottomans.
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    Still active, it was open to the public (sans shoes of course).
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    Segregated seating for women.
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    A tree just outside the mosque.
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    Ficus trees will live a while it seems.
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    The back of the Cathedral/mosque.
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    Remains of the Venetian "winged" lion. W/O wings.
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    Another ruined church.
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    The Twin Churches, one each belonging to the Knights Hospitaller and Templar.
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    The one on the right looked like it was being used as a night club.

    Yet another ruined church.
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    Famagusta has the best and deepest port on the whole of Cyprus. Apparently this guy didn't get the memo.
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    There are beautiful beaches south of the walled city, leading to the neighborhood of Varosha.
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    All those buildings you see down the shoreline are abandoned. Some of them are not doing well.
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    One is not supposed to take these pictures. Please don't tell the Turkish Army. I'd like to go to Turkey some day.
    I rode south along the fence line maintaining the isolation of this area. It wasn't just big tourist hotels that are abandoned. I saw churches, stores, and many houses too. All just rotting away. Something I never did find out was why the Turks didn't repopulate this area like they did the rest of the North.

    The view from the south, on the south side of the UN Buffer Zone, with a UN facility in the foreground.
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    After that, I bombed down the slab to Larnaca. Good thing I did as I found that my headlight had burned out sometime during the day (worked fine the night before). The sun starting to go down over the sea did make for a good view, but I didn't stop on the freeway to get a shot.
    #97
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  18. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    November 15, 2018: Larnaca, Last day on Cyprus

    Well, my last day was another mediocre riding day, but I still saw some really neat stuff. And the weather was perfect!

    Hit the slab and ran around 40 km west to see some really old ruins. Choirokoitia was a Neolithic village occupied from the 7th to 4th millennium BC. So roughly 9000 years ago. This easily wins the oldest place award in my experiences. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/848

    Replica houses
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    Whats left of the real things.
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    It isn't much to look at in the pictures, but it was really interesting in person.

    The tourist guides all say that the flamingos should be stopping in Cyprus, specifically at this salt water lake near Larnaca, on their migration.
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    Apparently the birds misread the schedule.

    But the goats and sheep didn't. They totally acted like they had the right of way, so I parked and let them mosey on by.
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    On my way towards the town center of Larnaca, I came across this. Nothing special, just an intact Roman Aqueduct.
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    White egret included at no extra charge.
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    In the old part of Larnaca, was another church turned into a mosque when the Ottoman Empire took over the island. This one had flying buttresses.
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    Alley runs right through it.

    At this point it occurred to me that I hadn't spent anytime, other than a couple of meals, sitting at the shore. So I did.
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    One of the things I wanted to see in Larnaca was the Church of St Lazarus. This is also an active church, but the icons and other items inside were impressive.
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    There were a couple of different tour groups at the church.
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    Lots of pictures of Saints.
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    And as always, I'm looking at the architecture.
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    A casket that appeared to have some bones, reportedly belonging to Lazarus himself.
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    Next door to the Church, was this.
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    Even Saints diversify their investments it seems.

    One last building construction pic. It was interesting to me that this partitioning was using metal studs in the curtain walls.
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    And one last little chapel, surrounded by the city.
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    I dropped off the rental bike shortly after this, and once back to the Airbnb had an interesting conversation with a man from Finland who was purchasing a second, winter home in Larnaca, and a French college student who was taking a weekend off from studying in Palestine. She had some interesting perspective on divided cities as her classes are in Jerusalem.

    Overall, the trip was well worth while. I'll post some thoughts on Cyprus shortly.
    #98
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  19. ScotsFire

    ScotsFire And then a drifter rode into town...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2016
    Oddometer:
    925
    Location:
    Here and there... but more there than here
    Thoughts on Cyprus

    The division of the Island nation is tragic. But neither “side” is blameless in the situation. It would be easy to blame Turkey for continuing to basically occupy part of another country (and I do…) but Greece had a heavy hand in instigating the whole crisis, then bailed when things got messy. It cost them (the military junta that was in control of Greece was removed from power as a result of the invasion of Cyprus) but it was all very avoidable. Extreme nationalism from both Greek and Turkish Cypriots basically created this no-win situation. But mostly I blame (in an admittedly biased and probably ill informed basis)… England. That’s right, another case of British Imperialism messing up a perfectly fine situation. The British inflamed nationalism in both the Greek and Turks in Cyprus in order to keep them from forming a unified front against them. Prior to the British taking over from the Ottomans, the population had a greater identification as Cypriots rather than Greek or Turk.

    Motorcycle riding on the island is frankly rather blasé. The views and vistas along the coast make for an enjoyable day, but the actual riding is just ok. Roads are in decent shape for the most part, and only the most remote are unpaved.
    The exception to this is the Troodos Mountains. That is very much a superior riding experience area, also with stunning views. Unfortunately, you could ride pretty much the whole thing in a couple two or three days.

    Food was average at best. I only had maybe three really good meals in two weeks. It was all very bland, which was not what I expected. Probably the best meal I had was at a Colombian restaurant in Kyrenia. Second best was a meatball pita in Larnaca. The seafood was all very fresh, but still came across as pretty tasteless. And don't EVEN get me started on the shitty French fries.

    The cost of a visit to Cyprus is in getting there. The plane ticket was more than I spent in two weeks of being there (excluding the motorcycle rentals). Hotels are somewhat reasonable, but places on AirBnB are very affordable. Restaurant meals were probably 20% cheaper than in the US. Fuel was the only thing more expensive. If one were to take the ferry from Turkey to Kyrenia, it would be a pretty cheap trip all the way around. Especially if you were able to wild camp. Lots of opportunity for that.

    People are friendly, especially in the south. It’s not that the folks in North Cyprus weren’t friendly, but there always seemed to be this distance that was maintained. The Greek Cypriots seemed to want to get closer and know you. All in all, people were always friendly and helpful.

    The only thing that didn’t seem perfectly safe was the streets in the cities. While not as bad as the Asian or Indian traffic I’ve heard of, one definitely had to be aware of the other vehicles. Pedestrians are NOT yielded to, despite there being a lot of walking traffic. Crime seemed non-existent. Things like bicycles, building supplies, and other things were left unsecured, and would have sprouted legs in most places I’ve lived in the US. I was never uncomfortable walking around after dark.

    Oddly enough, I went to the Mediterranean Sea and all I did was stick my hand in the water. Maybe twice. I am not much of a beach or swimming person anymore, but was still surprised I didn’t take advantage of the very warm water.

    Cyprus would be a very good destination for a romantic trip. It’s beautiful, the weather is pleasant, lots to do that isn’t over the top (there is some of that, but not too much), and even the tourist areas are not too schtick-y.

    At first, I thought that there were more pretty women in Northern Cyprus. Kyrenia was full of them. But after spending more time in the south the last couple of days of the trip, the pretty Greek women were there, I just missed them at first. The prettiest police officer with a sub-machine gun in the world is definitely in the Larnaca airport.

    It was interesting to rent and try out two different motorcycles. I had been thinking that
    something a little lighter weight than my current BMW
    would be better for the type of traveling I do. However, I found myself missing my bike much more than not. Cyprus is very first world as far as roads go, so the heavier bike would have not been an issue at all. I never saw any dirt or off road that I wouldn't have taken the 800GSA on. The only thing I didn’t need was the extra power. The maximum speed limit on Cyprus is 100 km per hour, or 62 mph. Certainly traffic (and myself) went faster than that, but not by too much.

    On a personal note, I was curious about how it would go being on my own in a totally unfamiliar place. I have ridden in Baja Mexico by myself, but this seemed somehow different. I have always (since high school anyway) known at least a few Spanish phrases, but my Greek and Turkish is still totally non-existent. It really wasn’t a big deal, even in the few occasions no one spoke any English. I still very much enjoyed the experience. The history and cultures were very interesting, and as I’ve said already it is quite beautiful.

    I’d go back to Cyprus, but it will probably only happen if I’m looking for a place to winter in the Europe/Middle East area. For that it would be perfect. But there’s still too many places to see to take up a travel time slot to go back. It would also be a pretty good place to live as an expatriate, though somewhere in South America is still probably at the top of that list for me at this point. Ask me if I still feel that way in a year.
    #99
  20. B10Dave

    B10Dave Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,965
    Location:
    Kingsmill Corner Ont.
    Nice report ScotsFire. Outstanding pictures.Thanks.
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