Due to the unpredictable weather over the Rockies this time of year and to simple time constraints Dad just loaded all the bikes up in his trailer and hauled them out there. This allowed us to do a few things: 1) we didn't destroy our knobbies on mile upon endless mile of tarmac and 2) it gave us more time to ride, always a plus. Dad just retired so he simply needed to be home "sometime mid-November".
The trip out to Moab started for me at Nashville airport. Instead of driving for 4 hours from Johnson City, finding a room for about 3 hours, then getting back up I just headed out at about 11:30 pm the night before my flight. Thanks to Cokes, Snickers bars, and homemade cookies from my awesome wife I was ready to go at 5:00 am when I watched the employees head in for the morning routine. You know you got there too early when you beat the employees at an international airport. I'm sure most everyone has seen an airport so no pictures there, but I did fly out on a Frontier Airlines Airbus 318, N802FR with "Montana the Elk" on the tail. Took off in the dark and watched the sun rise so that was pretty neat.
Landed in Denver and then the fun started. Scott and I were on the same Frontier flight and headed down to Great Lakes Aviation, the airline that would take us over the snow-covered Rockies into tiny Canyonlands airport in Moab. Got down to the desk and our flight was delayed. I literally backed up 3 steps, counted the Beechcraft 1900's, and said "Huh?" Turns out Canyonlands airport was having problems with their weather transmitter. Boom! Right there went our flight. My family has been involved in aviation through our publication since the 30's and through WeatherTAP for the last several years. The lady at the desk didn't have to say anything more; I knew that if the transmitter was down not a chance in hell FAA would let in any inbound planes. Long and the short was 7, thats right 7, hours later we were on a flight to Cortez, CO where Padre was picking us up.
Climbing onto the plane the only thing I could think of was Ron White: "Hey hey hey man, how far do you think we'll make it on one engine????"
"All the way to the scene of the crash. Put 'er in hard, I don't want to limp away from this one."
In reality the flight was smooth. Beechcraft has been around forever and make some fantastic planes and the pilots were very skilled. I wouldn't hesitate to get on another with them at all. Scott, however, said he probably wouldn't eat the Kung Pao Chicken from Panda Express before flying next time. I think it might have been the turbulence coming out of Denver. If you've ever seen a toddler fly a toy plane, the way they shake it and everything, you've got the general idea. At one point we were flying sideways and I'm pretty sure I saw the pilot and co-pilot looking almost a full head turn left to see where we were headed.
When we finally got into Moab it was dark. Now I've seen many nights outside but nothing compares to darkness out West. East of the Mississippi things get dim. Out there it's dark. Damn dark. But the next morning man did we make up for scenery...
That little orange speck in the left side is my 990.
If you look closely you'll see Padre coming down the road.
I come in peace...
We were on 313 headed into Canyonlands to hop on the Shaffer Trail, Scott and I breaking our necks because we'd never seen anything like this. I'd been to Montana (slept through all of it) as a kid headed to Wyoming but this was just strange. Whole lot of nothing then BAM! rock formation the size of a 4 story building in the middle of nowhere.
We did the obligatory pictures at the top then proceeded to stop every 300 yards for me to take pictures. Not that I had much trouble making everyone stop and just look.