Lori's walking the wolves so I'll do day 2.
Mesa Verde is drop dead beautiful. Mountains over there. Butte over here. Valley over that-a-way. Awesome views in every direction. We survived an overnight in the low 40's and woke up to a near cloudless day. After a quick breakfast we cruised down to the main visitor center to get tickets for the Cliff Palace and Balcony house tour. Then we rode down to the end of the mesa where the cliff dwellings are at.
Words can't do Mesa Verde justice so for the most part these pics will have to do:
Spruce Tree House:
We topped the day off with a nice dinner at the Far View Lodge's restaurant, the Metate Room.
We were more comfortable overnight since we were anticipating the mid-40 degree overnight temps this time. In the morning we broke camp then rolled over to the little cafe next to the Morefield store for a pancake breakfast. Then it was time to hit the highway. US 160 west dropped us into Cortez, CO and after a fuel stop and a quick jog south on US 491 we picked up County Road G going west through the southern end of the Canyon of the Ancients and hitting Utah north of Aneth.
Some sights from Cty. Rd G:
Sleeping Ute mountain:
After entering Utah we picked up Old Aneth road on our way over to Bluff.
At Bluff we took on gas again since on the next leg fuel opportunities would be few and far between. After gassing up it was time to hit the Valley of the Gods, an awesome, and frequently overlooked drive through the desert just north of Monument Valley.
The road is fantastic and the scenery is stunning. We leapfrogged another group of DS riders while in the valley and everybody seemed to be having an outstanding time.
The Tigers were performing great. They handled a 40 degree temperature swing and some serious elevation changes with no problems at all. Off road handling with our full load of gear and stock tires was limited only by the tires. The tires work OK but can't really handle sand, there's just not enough open tread. Otherwise, the bikes handled so well that the luggage was hardly noticeable.
I commented over in the Tiger thread about a noise that I thought might be the kickstand coming down partially and then being sucked back up by the spring. After this ride I am convinced that what we are hearing (both Lori and I hear it on occasion) is the chain slapping on the forward chain guard. Other than the moderately loud clack noise this appears to be harmless.
At the end of the Valley of the Gods road we hit UT 261 just below the Moki Dugway. Moki Dugway is a mining road that was carved into the side of the sandstone Utah cliffs north west of Mexican Hat. About a lane and a half wide this gravel section ascends the cliff through a series of crazy hairpins. Fun to ride and awesome to see.
From Moki Dugway we headed north to Natural Bridges National Monument. Here we did a quick trip around the ring road stopping to look at the three easily accessible natural bridges cut from the ancient sandstone.
After the quick tour we headed east on UT 95 to Blanding. The highlight of this section of 95 is the pass through Comb Ridge:
Arriving in Blanding we wanted to get a hotel room so that we could re-charge our portable electronic devices but securing a room was a near thing since the holiday weekend crowd had almost booked the town solid. After some phone recon work by Lori we were able to secure a decent enough room.