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Old 06-22-2012, 06:18 PM   #31
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Day 5

Monday, June 4th
Total Mileage: ~ 200

In terms of mileage, today was a short one. But there was a lot crammed into those miles.

Our first goal was to tour The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
http://www.nps.gov/blca/index.htm

We left the bike at the hotel - figuring we would driving by after touring the park and would pick it up then ...for a couple of reasons: 1. Keeping additional miles off that worn-out chain was important, and 2. We hadn't yet figured out how to handle two vehicles entering the multitude of parks that were upcoming without having to pay big bucks for two passes.

First stop, which I guess should go without saying, was the entrance gate. The young lady / Ranger was very helpful. She helped us decide that the $80.00 year's pass was the cheapest way to go. I also asked her advice on what to do with the bike at future parks. The year's passes are kind of strange in what they allow; it will get a car full of people in, or two people on a motorcycle in, or two motorcycles in (assuming both drivers are the two people who are listed on the pass ...each pass has two people's names on it). There is nothing specifically spelled out regarding a car and a motorcycle.

Part of what you get for your year's pass is a sticker. The ranger suggested that I put the sticker on the bike, and dependent on how anal the future entrance rangers were, there was a good chance they would just wave me through. ...sounded good to me. Time will tell if it works.


None of us had ever been to The Black Canyon, and we didn't really know what to expect. As a matter of fact, I hadn't even heard of the place before reading Flanga briefly reporting about it in his incredible ride report, (it's awesome reading if you hadn't seen it) http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=310834 ,and it was on the way to our next stop, so I worked it into our itinerary. It greatly exceeded my expectations.




After paying for the pass, one of our first stops was at the Visitor's Center to watch the short movie and to get our newly purchased National Parks Passport stamped. I know it's cheesy, but over the next couple of weeks we became obsessive about getting it stamped. For some stupid reason, it added a new dimension to the fun.








All obsessive-compulsiveness aside, let's talk about the park. First of all, it is much larger than I had anticipated.






And second of all, it was just amazing!








Let's zoom that last shot in some...


That river is WAY down there - like about 2000'



There were a LOT of "OH WOW" moments...



The composition of the rock was cool. Below is "The Painted Wall".
Take a look at that wall and try to get a perspective on its size by noticing the full-sized trees on it, and on the land above it. A recurring problem we ran into: so many of the sights were enormous! Capturing them, along with the incredible impact that had on us, was near impossible.


Even the plant life was cool...



For some reason we really liked this tree.





We drove around the south rim and really enjoyed the place.




Up next, the Million Dollar Highway...

guitarhack screwed with this post 07-04-2012 at 07:23 PM
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Old 06-22-2012, 07:09 PM   #32
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Day 5 Continued

After touring the Black Canyon, we passed back through Montrose, picked up the bike, and headed south on U.S. 550
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Route_550

It was a cool section of road, but rain, my crappy chain, and traffic slightly dampened (pardon the pun) the route - but it really had some cool moments.





Glamor Shot:

There was a HUGE waterfall behind the bike - but it was way too big to capture in one photo without a wide-angle lens.



After we started to really climb...


We got stuck behind a fricken moving van...

...and it was REALLY creeping along.

But unbelievably, the one and ONLY turn out was right around the corner and the guy pulled over and let us pass.



Like the majority of mountain roads we traveled, there were no guardrails, and some of the drop-offs were sobering if you thought about it.



Let's look a little closer at that last drop-off...

That car was WAY down there. How will they ever get it up / out of there?


Some more shots squeaked in between rain showers...







This one was a goof, but I ended up kinda liking it, so I kept it



It eventually dropped into the 50s. 40 degree temp swings were the norm MANY days of this trip



Yours truly in another "glamor shot"



We passed through Durango (and it's maddening traffic) and crossed into:

Where we stayed two nights just south of the border in Farmington (the hotels were cheaper)


Up next: Mesa Verde.

guitarhack screwed with this post 06-23-2012 at 08:17 PM
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Old 06-22-2012, 10:28 PM   #33
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Please...do continue
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Old 06-23-2012, 06:13 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by WHITEHOUSE View Post
What kind of support crew is that? Can't even change a chain? Tell 'em to get in there and get their hands greasy! Damn the fingernails, full speed ahead!
I know! but what are ya gunna do? Replacements will wind up being WAY too expensive.

guitarhack screwed with this post 06-23-2012 at 02:28 PM
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Old 06-23-2012, 08:10 AM   #35
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Great RR; glad the tool tube was useful; all I ever use mine for is hauling booze it seems.

So what went down with the chain?
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Old 06-23-2012, 05:20 PM   #36
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Colorado Springs

My previously mentioned cousin from Colorado Springs just posted on Facebook that the wildfires are w/ in a mile of her home. ...and they may have to evacuate.

For those so inclined, payers would be appreciated.
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Old 06-23-2012, 07:33 PM   #37
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Great RR; glad the tool tube was useful; all I ever use mine for is hauling booze it seems.

So what went down with the chain?
Chuck, as you have seen, your tool tube saved my bacon twice. Muchas gracias my friend.

The saga of the chain continued. It grew progressively worse, and I fixated on it - long days on a bike gave me too much time to think (and fret). After getting the chain and sprockets ordered I had a decision to make; I had packed my chain tool, but for some stupid reason I didn't think to bring the wrenches I would need ... let alone a grinder or the inch and 1/4 socket I would need to take the front sprocket off. As you know, I have everything I would need ....at home.

The decision: try to round up loaner tools and / or buy what I would need (stuff I really don't need duplicates of at home), or find a competent mechanic. Hmmmm

I had a few days of uneasy riding to decide.
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Old 06-24-2012, 02:40 PM   #38
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Day 6

Tuesday, June 5th
Total Mileage: ~200

A semi-off-topic digression...

There are times when I think about my family's history, and plug some of those events into a mental timeline, my perspective on the passing of time and the age of our country can shift. A case in point. As I have mentioned, I grew up in Kansas. Until she finally passed (at the age of something like 103), most every year on her birthday we would pack up the station wagon and drive down to Neodesha; a tiny little town in southeastern Kansas that contained the nursing home where my great grandmother lived. Among the few stories that I remember about her was the one that stated she came to Kansas in a covered wagon as a little girl. Doing the math, that had to be sometime around the range of the 1860 or 1870s ...right after the Civil War. So not only does the "covered wagon" claim seem credible, the time between the Civil War and now seems to somehow have been cut dramatically.

Around that same time period, a rancher in southwest Colorado, while looking for lost stock, stumbled upon Mesa Verde. It took several decades, after most of the sites had been damaged by treasure / relic hunters, before the area become protected as a part of the National Park System http://www.nps.gov/meve/index.htm

Fast forward about 40 years. My grandparents, who traveled the country in a small pull-behind camper every year on vacation, visited Mesa Verde and purchased a "View-master" along with the discs of Mesa Verde. Apparently, view-masters, before they ultimately became children's toys, were widely used by adults to view, among other things, travel related topics. In time (mid 60s), the view-master and discs were given to my brother and sisters and I. Not only were the 3-D pictures fascinating, the topic (Mesa Verde) seemed like something from outer-space. I just seemed too strange to be real. And from then on, before the term "bucket list" was coined, Mesa Verde was on my list of places I had to see.

Today was the day.


Our hotel was about 45 minutes away, so there was a good bit of desert to drive through to get there.






The "Support Vehicle" was running low on gas, but the GPS promised that we were about there, and I was too jazzed to stop, so my wife's requests to stop for gas fell on deaf ears. A decision that later became a minor annoyance.


We turned off the highway at this familiar landmark




and then entered the park




Soon after entering the park, we saw a new, cool looking, building on our left. As it turns out, a new Visitor's Center is being finished up. It wasn't open yet, so we went to the old one - which was something like 25 (maybe 15 - I forget) miles away from the entrance. So from that point on, we played the "how many miles can we go before we run out of gas" calculation game. As a spoiler: we didn't run out of gas - it just added some minor tension to the visit. ..which was my fault





Anyway, we drove to the old Visitor's Center






...got our passport stamped, and bought tickets for a tour of "Cliff Palace".


While waiting for our tour time, we went on a self-guided tour of one of the other ruins.




There was nicely paved trail leading to it.

Little miss, SAT Smartypants
















We had a quick bite to eat from the cooler, then waited for the guided tour at this overlook



Another view while we were waiting



The tour started by descending these stairs...


And then these


We then rounded a corner and waited for the crabby ranger to bitch at a kid for some minor transgression - before entering Cliff Palace







The overlook where the tour started



I was intrigued at how well constructed these things were. This "kiva" would have had a roof on it, and you entered via a ladder through the roof / smoke hole. They had a fresh-air vent at the ground level and had used flat rocks, planted on end (see below) to diffuse the incoming air.






..and finally, some "bricks" for iDave




Mesa Verde, while it was HOT, did not disappoint. We about drained the camelbak (which was new to us and we grew to absolutely LOVE).


After filling up with gas, while we were physically tired, we weren't ready to call it a day. So we decided to travel to the 4-Corners Monument.

There were a few sights along the way...


We wondered what the story was with this horse. A happy/secure horse wants company. This horse (who was staring at us until moments before the shutter clicked) didn't have a friend within MILES.


One thing we noticed that took us a while to figure out what it was we were seeing: 20 kazillion beer and liqueur bottles lining the road. I'm serious. There were absolutely millions of them! I don't know where they came from and don't intend for the observation to be any sort of editorial comment... we just found it bizarre.

Other than that, the drive was mostly featureless desert.

The monument is on tribal land, and we had to pay to get in.


There are stalls surrounding the monument where the locals were selling souvenirs


The youngest member of the Support Team - in 4 states at once.


The side-trip to the monument served it's purpose (to kill a little time), but having been there once I wouldn't plan a vacation around it.

So we left Arizona,

and headed back into New Mexico and passed "Shiprock" on the way.



Thanks for traveling along. ...the trip has a long way to go.

guitarhack screwed with this post 06-29-2012 at 07:07 PM
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Old 06-25-2012, 12:28 AM   #39
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Shoot the gap! It's almost big enough for a third semi to fit through! Let that inner hooligan come out...
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:45 PM   #40
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Shoot the gap! It's almost big enough for a third semi to fit through! Let that inner hooligan come out...
Yikes!

Not this wuss.
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Old 06-26-2012, 03:58 PM   #41
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Day 7

Wednesday, June 6th
Total Mileage: ~230

Have I mentioned (whined about) my chain lately?


Today was the first day of the trip where the day didn't go exactly as planned. The original plan was to hit Mexican Hat, Natural Bridges, the Moki Dugway, and Monument Valley before ending the day in Page, Arizona. I was looking forward to it all, and missing those sights was going to be disappointing, but we made the decision to drive strait to Page. By this time we had been traveling for about a week without a break, and the Support Team needed a light day - and so did my chain. Knocking four hours off of the day made a lot of sense.

After looking at a map, I realized that we would be doing a lot of backtracking from where we had been the previous day (towards the 4-Corners Monument) and prepared ourselves for a boring day of traveling. We were pleasantly surprised.

We crossed back into Arizona on US 160 and enjoyed the rock formations along the way...



My wife... um, I mean Support Team Leader, didn't appreciate the fact that I wondered if this photo should be age restricted



I know that some of these are a little blurry, but remember, they were taken left-handed, upside down, flying along on a V-Strom. Weeeeee




Finally, we hung a right and started going north on Hwy 98.

A good portion of the road had just been paved, and it was sweet!. One minute you are rolling along, just enjoying the ride,


then you would round a corner and see something ultra-cool.




More mildly suggestive rock formations




Nearing Page


It wound up being a nice ride (when I managed to ignore that my bike felt like it was falling apart).

We got to the overpriced budget-brand hotel where we had reservations, and the desk clerk told us the hotel was at capacity and that we would have to wait until 2:00 to check in. We looked at our watches, did the math for mountain time, and looked at each other thinking WTF, you are going to make us wait 35 minutes??? But we hadn't had lunch anyway, so we ran to the local billion-burger and were back in a half hour. The clerk recognized us when we came back. For a millisecond we perceived an odd look from her, but she checked us in, and on to the room we went.

When unpacking, one of us looked at the clock on the nightstand and a bell chimed. DOH! We had totally forgotten that Arizona doesn't recognize Daylight Saving Time. No wonder we got the weird look from the clerk. We were still an hour early.

After unpacking and unwinding for a while we decided to do a little exploring.



Once again we were surprised by some dam cool sights: The Glen Canyon and Glen Canyon Dam




A little known natural phenomenon: There are places with 90 degree gravity shifts in the area. As you can see in this example, here is a member of the support team walking on a dam wall:


From the Dam Visitor's Center (yes we got our passport stamped)




More Dam Pictures (ha, that joke never grows old)


The canyon below the dam (bet the trout fishing is good down there)


We ended up really enjoying the day. It was easy and slow-paced. We needed it.

Tomorrow: The Grand Canyon

guitarhack screwed with this post 07-25-2012 at 08:26 PM
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Old 06-27-2012, 03:35 PM   #42
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Awesome, great ride report!
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Old 06-27-2012, 05:58 PM   #43
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Awesome, great ride report!
Thanks for the encouragement, poolman.

I was wondering if the only person I was amusing with this RR was myself.
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Old 06-27-2012, 07:00 PM   #44
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Day 8

Thursday, June 7th, part 1
Total Mileage: ~ 200

As the crow flies, the distances covered today weren't that far - but there were a lot of twists and turns.

This day, and one more down the road, are going to be a challenge to report on. Because there was so much to see and because there was such a target-rich pic environment. To me, the scenery just kept getting better on this trip. Paring down the number of pictures to include is going to be a challenge. But here goes...

After leaving Page, you have to go south a bit, then do a lot of switch-backing (if that is a word) just to cross the Colorado river. We are heading for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

After traveling south, the road starts to get cool!
The top of a plateau, before plunging into the Colorado River valley:


You drop down into the valley and are in tribal land



Until you cross the Colorado at Lee's Ferry



Then you run parallel to the cliffs, by the little town of Marble Canyon. I missed it, but there are some amazing rock formations there. It is hard to describe. It looked like huge boulders had rolled off the cliffs, and then stopped in an incredibly impossible balancing act - as if there was no way they should have settled how they did. This pic does not do it justice. Imagine a rock like this shaped like a unsymmetrical ice-cream cone, landing upright and you will get what I saw. Too strange...


We traveled along the cliffs for many miles. This pic does a good job getting the enormity of the cliffs in perspective. They were HUGE.





And then ran for a while in the wide-open desert/valley floor

Say Cheese:


Approaching the opposite wall of the valley, I was able to pass a bunch of motor-homes (and other slow-pokes), that the Support Team got stuck behind. Then blasted up the twisties - climbing the huge plateau - that down the road would abut the north rim






As I climbed to the top, the temps dropped, and the landscape became greener. At the top I waited for the support team (for ever) Then we hung a left on 67, and ran though some evidence of past forest fires



And some large, long, beautiful meadows


It was about here that a lone young buck came trotting out of the wood-line...(or should I say "sproinging" - it seem to move differently then the white tail deer in Georgia - maybe it was a mule deer?) I stopped to look at it, as it was running across the meadow strait for me, but before my camera would spool-up, the deer saw me and sproinged away.

And now, for the first time, I would see if my new NPS yearly pass sticker on the bike would get me through the gate without the pass actually in my possession - the support team had it in the Support Vehicle behind me (getting both vehicles through at once is technically against the rules).

guitarhack screwed with this post 06-27-2012 at 07:35 PM
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Old 06-27-2012, 10:52 PM   #45
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Subscribed great report looking foreward to more
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