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Old 09-13-2013, 07:19 PM   #1
FiestyRed OP
Better hang on!
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Joined: Sep 2012
Location: Southwest Sandbox
Oddometer: 7
The Great Two-Week Western Adventure

The Big Two-Week 4800-Mile Camping Adventure Across 6 States, with Newly-Engaged SpeedySteve and FiestyRed!

Things to know about us:
-Steve (a.k.a. SpeedySteve): owns and drives a ’12 R1200GS Adventure, named “Gus”; driving style is a cross between “Why yes, I do own the whole damn road” and “Drive it like you stole it”.
-Andrea (a.k.a. FiestyRed): the (mostly) easy-going passenger; enjoys the “armchair” feel of a fully-loaded Gus.
-We like taking photos of Gus in awesome locations, also referred to as "Gus pr0n". Don't ask...

Back story: We had been planning this trip for months prior to embarking. I have some family in Montana and we were invited to stay at my uncle’s cabin (on a lake!) this summer. So we started planning the trip around that family time, expecting to reach the cabin in early August.

[Side note: The trip planning was mostly handed off to me because it was supposed to be “my” trip. I had never planned a trip like this before, and for me it was definitely different. I am very used to planning trips based on destinations, and the route is just the fastest way from Point A to Point B. This trip needed to be about the route itself, not so much the destinations. It’s a little tricky to change that mindset! It was a pain in the butt sometimes, but I learned a lot and now I know how to best plan a trip like this again! ]

The 10 most important things we learned on this trip:
1. Expect rain. All over, everywhere you travel. Just expect it.
2. Dry bags, dry bags, dry bags – extras are great!
3. Look up some hotels/motels for possible rain scenarios
4. Expect to restock camping food items – don’t bring so much!
5. Alternate planned routes are your best friends
6. Wet Wipes, face wipes, and hand sanitizer are also your best friends…
7. Just relax. No need to be so hung up on following the planned route.
8. Planning may be extremely time-consuming and boring, but it is worth it!
9. Plan some chill time into a vacation
10. Don’t try to do a huge motorcycle trip as a two week vacation!

Anyways, onto the best part: the ride!!

Day 1: 7/27/2013 - Tucson, AZ to Cortez, CO

We had planned to depart before the butt-crack of dawn (somewhere in the vicinity of 4am? Uhh… ) However, that didn't happen due to our late bedtime of midnight the night before, completing trip preparations and such. So we took our time, got a few hours of sleep and finally got up and going around 7am. Not too bad in my book, but it was already getting hot at that point – probably in the upper 80’s? And humid too. My TourShell gear does NOT breathe well, as I learned more and more on this trip. I was anxious to get moving out of the valley and into the mountains.

All packed up and ready to head out!

The route we took is below:

I must apologize, I didn’t take many pictures on this first day. As a Tucson native, the desert scenery is old-hat to me and I was just so anxious to get out on the road that I honestly forgot about taking photos. (I know better now!)

Our first stop was going to be Showlow, AZ. In the mountains, at 6400 feet elevation… Ahhh, cool air. We saw some clouds in the distance and were slightly apprehensive about riding towards them, but, what the hell, we did anyways.



“On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again…”

As expected, we got drenched on our way to Showlow. We had to pull over for Steve to get his rain gear on - he wore his AirFlow jacket and City 2 pants, which are not waterproof. He has much less of a heat tolerance than I do (seeing as he’s from the great Midwest), so breathability is an important factor.
[Steve: Thick blood is slow to thin out…]

Anyways, although riding in the rain on a motorcycle is usually not a good idea, we fared alright through the first bout.

The big thing we learned is that as soon as dark ominous clouds are getting closer and cars coming from the opposite direction are wet and have the windshield wipers going at full-speed… Time to stop and get the rain gear on!

Riding through the mountains was really awesome, though! We ended up riding through low-hanging clouds and mist on the mountain. No photos, sadly – too much rain.

We stopped in Showlow for an early lunch at Subway and ran into an older couple decked out in Frogg-Toggs on a cruiser. We chatted with them for a few minutes and found out that they lived on a houseboat for 15 years! Wow, talk about your small spaces!

We continued north without any real issue. Our main goal for the day was to make miles and get out of Arizona, so that’s what we did. Because of the threat of rain constantly around us, we chose the alternate asphalt routes instead of some of the dirt roads we wanted to ride. We slowed down to drive through the Canyon de Chelly and stopped for the view.

More Gus pr0n!

Pretty scenery and interesting history, but Canyon de Chelly is probably one of the worst-kept national monuments/parks that I’ve been to. Definitely a depressing section to ride through.

We dipped into New Mexico for a few miles and saw some awesome formations…

… And popped up into Colorado, our home-away-from-home for the next few days.

As you can see by the clouds in the previous photos, we were being chased by rain again. Once we got into Cortez, it was past 8pm, wet, and we were tired. After all, it was a long day of more than 500 miles of riding. We decided to stay at a motel for the night instead of trying to set up camp at Mesa Verde National Park like we had planned. We stayed at the Rodeway Inn (decent motel) and zipped over to the Main Street Brewery for dinner and some beer. Beer… yum! Definitely refreshing after a long day.

We crashed for the night and got some sleep so that we could head out bright and early the next day.

To be continued…
2012 R1200GS Adventure, aka "Gus"
The Patient Pillion Passenger
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Old 09-13-2013, 07:57 PM   #2
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Aug 2011
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Looking forward to more of your ride! Thanks for sharing.
The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done and self restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. Theodore Roosevelt
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Old 09-13-2013, 08:39 PM   #3
The Examiner
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Location: Clearwater, FL USA
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this is going to be a great ride report. I'm loving it already.

Thank you for sharing what us
'11 R1200 GS Adventure with a DMC M72DX Sidecar
'14 R1200 GS & '14 R nineT (march, 2014)
Live life like you mean it... but take your family and friends (and DOGS) along for the "ride"
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Old 09-14-2013, 03:27 AM   #4
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In keep it coming
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Old 09-16-2013, 10:39 PM   #5
FiestyRed OP
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Location: Southwest Sandbox
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Day 2!

Day 2: 7/28/2013 – Cortez, CO to Glenwood Springs, CO

After a refreshing night’s sleep in the motel, we set off again around 7:30am to continue on our journey. It was drizzling when we woke up and continued to drizzle on and off throughout the day.

“Good morning!"

[I don’t have as many photos for this part as I’d like due to owning a non-waterproof camera… Oh well. Sorry!!]

Our planned route for the day:

We had hoped to end up outside of Redstone at a nice campground that we had researched, but this is the actual route for the day:

We drove through the town of Cortez a little, just to explore. I like unique architecture, so here a photo of an older hotel building in the “downtown” area:

I bet this person has an awesome view of the town! (Sorry for the not-so-great quality)

We headed up the Million Dollar Highway through Silverton and Ouray. No pics of Silverton (raining too hard), but I managed to snag a few of Ouray:

Mouse Chocolate & Coffee café where we stopped for some coffee and a snack:

I have to confess, the name drew me in! A match made in heaven…
Here’s our snack: two caramel-y mochas and a “garbage” cookie - all sorts of little chocolate bits smooshed into cookie batter and baked – yum!

From Photos for Report


I loved the Victorian-style architecture of the houses in Ouray! Just beautiful…

It’s hard to find houses built these days that are almost considered works of art/craftsmanship.

Another house…

A lovely building in the main street of Ouray:

After going through Ouray, we headed up through Montrose towards Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

It’s an absolutely beautiful canyon and park. I definitely recommend stopping there if you get a chance! Some of the pictures below…

By the way, I hate posing for pictures, but here we go!

Steve won’t let me post the photo of him in his waterproof pants, as they look rather goofy on him. In order for them to actually cover his motorcycle pants, they have to be pulled on like grandpa pants. Let me just leave you with that image…

One of my favorite shots of the canyon:

After enjoying the views at the top of the canyon, we rode the 5 miles down to the bottom of the canyon to see the river. As a native Arizonan, I consider running rivers to be a novelty. Good thing Steve enjoys them too!

After Black Canyon, we continued north towards Crested Butte. It was mid-afternoon by the time we finally arrived in the town, and we were more than ready for some tasty beers after a long day of riding in the rain.

[The “WTF?!” moment of the day: a tin knight and dragon fighting?]

We rode into town and drove around to get our bearings for a few minutes…

Photos of U.S. Post Offices are a common theme throughout this trip (and most others that we take!), you might as well get used to them!

Very large poppies (haha, at first I didn’t recognize them! Amateur gardener, truly I am!)

Historical plaque on the side of a building in Crested Butte (we saw several of these, they were quite cool; plus you learned some history while exploring!):

Evidence of the town’s main tourist attraction in the winter:

Gus parked across the street from where we stopped for refreshments:

Hooray! Beer! We stopped at Eldo Brewery:

The pretty view of the main street from the second-story deck of Eldo:

The beer was pretty good. Then again, as a disclaimer, just about anything tastes good after a long cold day on the bike! Another hallmark of our trips – finding and trying all the local/state beers that we can.

Another town oddity:

After we were refreshed, we continued on a rather muddy dirt road that connected Crested Butte with our next intended stop, Redstone. However, Mother Nature decided that she wasn’t done yet with making our day and dumped more rain on us as we headed north. Luckily, the mud portion didn't last long and we hit tarmac soon. But we still had rain dumping on us and we were chugging along. Slowly. Riding in the dark with rain dumping down is not exactly relaxing or fun, especially at 9pm (2100 hours).

We bypassed Redstone (and the Off-Road Design folks, whose place we wanted to at least ride by in daylight hours, but we missed them unfortunately) and continued to Glenwood Springs to find a motel. Thank goodness we found one! We quickly unloaded, washed out a few clothing items, and crashed for the night. Today, Colorado; tomorrow, Flaming Gorge!
2012 R1200GS Adventure, aka "Gus"
The Patient Pillion Passenger
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Old 09-17-2013, 02:31 AM   #6
The Examiner
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Joined: Jul 2005
Location: Clearwater, FL USA
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Continuing to enjoy every single image and the stories behind them. Once again, thank you very much for sharing with us
'11 R1200 GS Adventure with a DMC M72DX Sidecar
'14 R1200 GS & '14 R nineT (march, 2014)
Live life like you mean it... but take your family and friends (and DOGS) along for the "ride"
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Old 09-17-2013, 04:17 AM   #7
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Canyon de Chelly to Shiprock

Say, I noticed you took the back way east out of CdC. I did that in 2005 aboard a KTM twin. I thought Indian hwy 13 was one of the most spectacular roads I had ever ridden. Sort of a tail of the dragon type road over a mountain range and down into Shiprock. This should look familiar:

Straight ahead and faster -Bo Weaver 1970
"There I was..." -Griffin Niner Three Hotel
"One day closer to a parade..." Jonny Gomes, spring training 2013
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Old 10-27-2013, 10:44 PM   #8
FiestyRed OP
Better hang on!
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Joined: Sep 2012
Location: Southwest Sandbox
Oddometer: 7
Day 3: Glenwood Springs to Flaming Gorge NRA

Sorry for the long delay in another post, life has gotten crazy (and I've been pretty stressed and tired after these past few weeks at work). Hopefully this has passed and the updates will continue at a faster pace!

Anyways, back to the ride!

Day 3: 7/29/2013 – Glenwood Springs, CO to Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, UT

We woke to a somewhat overcast sky and a free, if somewhat greasy, continental breakfast at the motel. Still, free is free! We packed up and set off – we’re getting pretty darn good at this!

[Side note: Even if you’re not a super OCD type person, I do recommend making packing lists, including weighing out the bag & contents beforehand and including that on the list. We made several of them, and it really helped for first thing in the morning, packing up all of the camping gear when we camped. That way, we knew the weight of each side pannier and each side bag and we could balance the bike. On our last trip, we had a few issues remembering which item went in which bag in order to maintain balance.]

Our first stop was Rifle Falls State Park. I had done some reading about it and the receptionist at the front desk had told us about it the night before. Since we were headed in that general direction anyways, we decided to spend an hour or so there.

It was such a pretty place, and no one was there at 8:30am, which made it even better.

Good morning sweetie!

He had some fun posing, can’t you tell?

After oogling at the main attraction, we took the small trail up and around the back of the falls. It was a very pleasant short hike, maybe 0.5 miles total? There were some great views, I highly recommend! Good chance to stretch the legs too…

A view of the valley below. Just fantastic!!

A robin’s egg shell on the path.

Beautiful view of the reservoir that feeds the falls!

Another oddity on the path: a bench made from old wheels and steel. Quite a few interesting benches on the trip so far!

We walked to the other side of the falls and got some nice photos in a little alcove next to the falls.

I was definitely enjoying the cooling effect of being near the falls and getting splashed a little! It wasn’t too hot yet, but my TourShell pants do NOT breathe well at all, so I was already getting warm.

A view of the falls from the side:

Gus, enjoying the shady and quiet parking lot:

We left the state park and took the back way towards Flaming Gorge. On the way, we came across some incredible views. And of course, we couldn’t resist taking some Gus-porn pics!

We stopped in the small town of Buford for a rest and some photos of the little school house. It was a fairly quick stop, as the rain was continuing to chase us. Our goal – outpace it!!

(See the clouds? Always chasing us! )

On our way up and over, we came across some active oil wells. This old head-swinging deal wasn’t operational (it was just a small pump that you really can’t see in this photo), but it’s still pretty cool! Of course, Gus wanted a photo…

Andrea and Steve the Space-Couple wanted photos as well…

I have to say, I am so glad that Steve puts up with me sometimes. I hate getting on and off the bike so frequently while traveling. I have to remind myself not to gripe and grumble (which still comes out of my mouth sometimes!), because these pictures have turned out pretty awesome. Like this one…

Check out that road!! We rode up that!

We came upon the Chevron operations on this dirt road and got some of the most questioning looks… I’ll bet that these guys rarely see other vehicles on this road, let alone a packed-to-the-top BMW motorcycle with two people perched on top. I saw the looks that they gave us and I was very reluctant to pull out my camera to take photos – I felt awkward and invasive. (Can you blame me? I work in a metal-processing plant and I really don’t like others taking photos of me without my permission; same for the operators that I work with.) Anyways, Steve got on my case for not having my camera out, so I sucked it up and took photos anyways:

The crude oil tanks

Goodbye, civilization…

There is nothing cooler than seeing a wide-open stretch of the road before you!

Those damn clouds…

Abandoned cabin in the middle of literally no-where:


I am still surprised by how most of these photos turned out. I took them while riding pillion on a motorcycle moving at a pretty decent clip. Props to my 4-year-old point & shoot camera!

We took a quick stop in Maybell, CO for a snack and to determine our path – dirt or pavement?

Weather seemed to be holding out, so let’s try the dirt!

This is comforting…

Hurray, another state, if only briefly!

A great idea, especially on a 1200-lb bike…

Nicely-kept road, if I may say so!

Incredible views (a common theme throughout the trip)

Finally! Flaming Gorge – and the weather is holding out so that we can camp! The campground was pretty nice, if a little more developed than we usually like. But there were SHOWERS! That is a must-have after a long sweaty day on a bike!

I leave this post with a beautiful sunset for you!

2012 R1200GS Adventure, aka "Gus"
The Patient Pillion Passenger
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