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Old 06-11-2009, 12:06 PM   #1
nvdlboy OP
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3 friends and 12 days travelling - a little Western tour

It seems like just yesterday we were trying to plan an annual trip and now it's done.

After last year's trip along the West Coast and back through the High Desert, we were looking for a change of pace. In December, we decided that all the pictures of UT needed verification, how could such a picturesque place exist? The plan came together with the usual hiccups around compatible dates and family/work commitments, but the destinations were consistent. In early May, the plan was set - leave the 29th and return June 9, visit lots of state and national parks/monuments, take some pictures and camp in some cool places. Bikes prepped, new oil and tires, etc. and we were good to go!

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Old 06-11-2009, 12:22 PM   #2
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Day 1 - North Van BC to Winchester State Park ID - 808 kms

I agreed that the earliest I could meet the guys - Richard and Mark - was 0730 just down the street from my place. I was up by 0600 and getting set, breakfast with the kids and my lovely wife and I started loading my bike. Everything was packed the night before, it was just a matter of putting the cases on the bike and securing everything.

Wouldn't you know it, the kids wanted to talk and dawdle, my wife got them sorted out and in the car for school by 0720 (they had an early band rehearsal). I was getting tense about running behind, but I got everything on the bike and jumped on at 0730 ready to race down the street and meet the guys... crap, the cables for my iPod, 2-way radio and headset were still under the seat! I pulled my camping gear off the pillion and got the cables organized, reinstalled the camping gear and set off. My wife was waiting with the guys down the street to say goodbye to us all. Not bad, only 20 minutes late.

Under a beautiful sunny sky, we set off for the border 45 minutes away. Waited for about 20 minutes or so to cross (I figured it would be rude to use the Nexus lane when I was the only one with a pass). Showed passports, answered the obligatory questions about the contents of our bags and we were heading down the I-5! Wanting to avoid Seattle traffic, we exited at Bothell and headed off towards Snoqualmie Pass - what a great road, but it was stinking hot, just over 35*C when we stopped for fuel and lunch.

After Snoqualmie, we headed for Lewiston ID. It was a hot ride, but the scenery was great and we made good time. The only picture I took on day 1 was this one overlooking Lewiston:


After refueling and pick up some cold beer, we set off for Winchester St Park to camp for the night. The campground was great and is set upon a beautiful lake.
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Old 06-11-2009, 12:37 PM   #3
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Day 2 - Winchester St Park to Smokey Bear Campground in Sawtooth Park (Stanley) ID - 645 kms

We were off nice and early, anxious to hit the road. Our route took us along the Salmon River - what a beautiful ride!! It was a relief to be riding in cooler weather as well. We found a lovely place along the river to stop for a brief break - Cleo H Patterson Memorial City Park. While we were there trying to figure out where to head that day, we got some good advice from a Fisheries agent who suggested that we make for Stanley.


The ride south was beautiful along the river, a great 2-lane road through the mountains and forest. We missed the turn-off we should have taken and ended up in a very hot Boise for late lunch. To top it off, we then were stuck in traffic for 30 to 45 minutes due to road work - not a pleasant experience when you're dressed in full gear!

Escaping the traffic, we set off for Idaho City and enjoyed a fabulous twisty road over the pass heading to Stanley. We hit heavy rain for a while (heavy enough that it hurt through the gear or maybe that was the hailstones)! Once we got to the campground, we settled in and endured the view (the trials we must overcome travelling like this):

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Old 06-11-2009, 01:04 PM   #4
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Day 3 - Smokey Bear Campground in Sawtooth Park (Stanley) ID to Caves State Park (Ely) NV - 802 kms

The advantage of talking to locals (as I'm sure you're all well aware) is that you end up taking roads that are great. Day 3 started off with a suicidal chipmunk unsuccessfully trying to throw itself under my tires as we exited that park; it got worse for him as he missed the wheels of the bike following me! How can you top that? Well, we were immediately treated to a cold ride through Galena Pass heading towards Sun Valley. The pass forces you to see scenery like:

and:

(okay so you only have to suffer looking at Richard if you travel with him, so this was my own fault)

Sunday morning in Sun Valley is very quiet this time of year (or maybe everyone was at church, it was before 1000 hours):


We waited for the bicycle shop to open so that Mark could buy some cycling shorts, which he figured would be better under his gear due to the heat we were experiencing in the afternoons.

From Sun Valley we headed for the Craters of the Moon National Monument. It was an interesting tour, though too hot for us to linger long.

I had no idea there was so much flora on the moon:


Following this stop it was time to head south. Along the way, we stopped at Shoshone for fuel where I was approached by the first ADV'r brave enough to introduce herself - Motokat! Thanks for saying hi, since I haven't had that happen before, I was likely more than a little confused. Idaho was a real treat for all of us, we certainly didn't expect the beauty that we saw!

After stopping for gas, we headed for Twin Falls and had lunch at a great Mexican place (Rio Cafe) - well we thought it was great and that's what mattered most.

Next we set off for Ely NV. Another first for me (and the group) was encountering HEAVY rain along with thunder and lightning with no where to take shelter. We pressed on as the storm was heading north while we travelled south. Filled up with gas in Wells NV and made the very fast and straight run out to Ely. Mark's BMW pinned him to the gas pump at Wells, but there was no damage. We spent the night at Caves State Park - another beautiful spot to camp. Warning - the roads in the campground are gravel, loose at the edges and it's on a hillside, which is how I came to break my left turn signal as I was making a U-turn uphill, I goosed the throttle a bit, the rear wheel promptly shot out and I was making a beautiful backwards somersault away from the bike as it lay on the ground...


As you can see, with a little duck tape and electrical tape, the turn signal is like brand new! We all took a turn dropping out bikes while stopped, however, I'm an overachiever, so I dropped mine again later in the trip just for good measure!
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Old 06-11-2009, 02:40 PM   #5
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Great trip. Good to see a cat in the fray. What sort of mileage did you clock up?
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Old 06-11-2009, 03:47 PM   #6
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thanks Zadok, from my house it was 7046 kms in 12 days (587 kms/day or 4404 miles in 12 days = 367 miles/day).

Richard likes his 06 Tiger, but it has had issues on each long trip. In Alaska 2007, he had an issue with an exhaust sensor; on our West Coast trip last year, it didn't like the heat and high winds of Death Valley and NV, the engine light came on and it would cut out or run rough the rest of that day. This year it was a similar issue without the heat, so the Tiger went straight to the shop on the way home so they can hopefully figure out the issue - it's unnerving at highway speeds to have the engine cut out or stutter as if it's starved of fuel.
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Old 06-11-2009, 04:11 PM   #7
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Day 4 - Caves St Pk NV to Zion National Park UT - 432 kms

The campground was very quiet in the morning, so we packed and had a peaceful breakfast before hitting the road. NV highways (at least the ones we pick) are SO straight and fast! There were a lot of creatures on the road, so we did have a little carnage to deal with when we stopped to stretch our legs just before the UT border:

For all the folks we saw without helmets or any gear at all, I'm sure these grasshoppers would hurt!

We crossed into UT through yet another National Forest, a very beautiful bit of scenery, then it was into the New York deli in Cedar City for lunch. There was a young mom with a young, pre-school aged boy who insisted on seeing the bikes until they drove off. He was delighted when we started the bikes and waved as we rode off for Zion.

Entering Zion was amazing, the transition seemed so sudden changing from desert to canyon in what felt like an instant. We got one of the last campsites in the park and set up camp just in time for a sudden, hard downpour, which meant it must be nap time. After about 45 minutes we walked to the shuttle and rode it to the end of the canyon, listening to the driver tell us about the park and formations. On the way back we got off and walked up the Emerald Pool loop.





If you keep your eyes open you see the most beautiful things:




Into each life a little rain must fall, but the results can be amazing:
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:30 PM   #8
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Day 5 - Zion NP UT to Marble Canyon AZ - 555 kms

It really sucks to have to wake up to this type of view:

or this:


The ride up from Zion to Bryce was amazing. Leaving Zion, there was just a purple squiggle on my GPS! We passed through Dixie National Forest and saw terrific views like this:

and


We made it to Bryce Canyon, which is totally different from Zion. Bryce is very picturesque, I'll have to return for some more exploring and hiking. The problem we had travelling by bike and trying to see so much is that we would arrive at places, be hot and really not feel like stripping down and hiking in the heat, just to get back on the bikes and head for another destination. Zion worked best for us because we were camping in the park, so we had a home base to leave our stuff.







After spending some time looking at Bryce, it was time to make tracks for our next destination where we hoped to set up camp - the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We motored on down to Kanab for lunch - our first Subway stop. Wanting to be a little different, we had been stopping at Quizno's or other places, but this time it was Subway. The ride out to the North Rim was very pleasant, once we turned off for the park it got even better! We pulled up to the gate to discover that the campground was full , so we paid our entrance fee and went to the lodge for a little walk around.

One bonus about these types of trips is that you learn something about yourself almost every day or at least I do. The North Rim had an unexpected effect on me - I was extremely nervous walking out along the path to the viewpoint. I have been skiing for over 30 years as well as many other sports and have never been overcome by a drop like that before!




This path seemed to be too narrow, especially without a railing. Getting older sucks - it is however, much better than the alternative!


I went and poked around the gift shop while waiting for the others and then we set off to find a place to spend the night. We headed east towards Marble Canyon - what an amazing ride and place!! The transition from forest to desert seemed instantaneous!


Entering Marble Canyon, I kept my snake average up - not sure what kind of snake I ran over, but Mark managed to finish it off after it squirted out from under my rear tire. I hate it when they blend into the road surface so well that you don't notice them until you've run them over! Two trips to the States and two snakes finished off with my bike!

Marble Canyon was amazing if you like desert type camping:


We headed down for a walk along the Colorado River after dinner - what a way to finish up the day!!
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:13 PM   #9
nvdlboy OP
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Day 6 - Marble Canyon AZ to Mesa Verde CO - 539 kms

Being the midpoint of the trip, today started with laundry and showers at the Marble Canyon lodge. On the way out to the lodge we stopped to look at some balancing rocks.

After that was taken care of, it was off to Monument Valley. The ride was hot and fast through the desert. We took some pictures in Monument Valley, but declined to go past the Navajo gate - we figured that we could see almost as much on the outside.




Afterwards we set off for Four Corners National Monument. We were getting quite hungry by this time as the only cafe close by seemed to have closed. Little did we know that there would be burgers and other food available at the Monument - oh well, live and learn, at least it wasn't like our lesson last year when we ran out of gas in Area 51! As you can see, I was making the most of getting positioned in all four states...


Following Four Corners, we departed for Mesa Verde - if you've never been, I would recommend camping at MV, it was a beautiful spot and tons of history to boot!! We rode through a bunch of Colorado road construction and at one stop (on a downslope) Richard popped his bike into neutral, put the sidestand down and took his turn dropping his bike - lesson learned, leave your bike in gear when you're shutting off your bike and putting it on the stand while facing downhill! No damage to the other than some new beauty marks.

As we approached Cortez CO, there were three sport-style bikes on tour that we'd been following for a while. They were passing lines of cars and behaving a little squidlike in general. When they were just two or three cars ahead of us in the middle lane, everyone was slamming on the brakes - one of them went down, it looked like he was caught off-guard by the traffic and grabbed too much front brake. Within seconds they were picking up the bike and everyone seemed fine. The fire trucks and ambulance passed us about three minutes later as we got to the liquor store.

At the park, we converted our receipts to national park passes to save some money. We found a lovely campsite and set up:

We had a couple visitors too:
#1 was this fellow -


# 2 turned out to be our second ADV'r brave enough to say hi - RandyRider. We had a couple of beer and swapped route information and suggestions. Sounds like RR is on a wonderful tour with lots of time and no real hurry!! Good luck.
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:06 PM   #10
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Looks like a great ride! I came through the Stanley area this week...Awesome!

Thanks for the pics!
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:33 PM   #11
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Sawtooth Mountains near Stanley Idaho.

Hi Guys,

Looks like you are having a great ride. My friend and myself were up in Stanley this past Monday.

Here is a one picture I took of the Sawtooths.

Les in Boise.
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Old 06-12-2009, 09:59 AM   #12
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Day 7 - Mesa Verde CO to Moab UT - 402 kms

Unfortunately we weren't spending more time in Mesa Verde to explore, though we did enjoy the great ride to the end of the park road! When you get there, the history of the area is fantastic with sights like:










Temple of the Sun:


Though we rode around and took pictures, it would have been even better if we'd had time to actually spend a day doing the walking tours. We saw RandyRider at the first cliff dwelling tour, he was spending the time to see as much as he could - good going!

After looking at the Temple of the Sun, we hit the road for Moab. You really have to like the heat to visit at this time of year, though locals were saying it was unseasonably cool - only the high 90s! When we pulled into Moab, we took a break in the shade at a school parking lot behind a grocery store. We ran into a fellow on a pedal bike, wearing a DEA hat who stopped to chat for a few minutes about the local routes and spending time on ADV - sorry no name, so don't know if he's a regular or a lurker. After a brief respite, we set off for Arches to discover that the campground had filled up first thing that morning. A little disappointed, we rode in and took a few shots...


Since I left my soccer ball at home, I had to make do practicing with whatever was available (the ability to balance stuff on your head is really important in life)...




Getting a shot of the bikes and Delicate Arch requires some work (you have to look closely on the left)...


After viewing a lot of formations and arches, it was time to find a home for the night, so we headed up the river and found a wonderful, remote place:

The views were acceptable:


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Old 06-13-2009, 07:07 PM   #13
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Great pics, keep 'em coming! Glad you guys had a good time and made it home ok.




PS. Sorry if I scared you at the gas station
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Old 06-14-2009, 06:46 PM   #14
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Motokat - thanks for stopping by and saying hi. I was more startled than anything else since that was the first time anyone had noticed the ADV stickers and said anything.
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Old 06-14-2009, 07:29 PM   #15
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Day 8 - Moab UT to Afton WY - 743 kms

We woke early to a beautiful morning in Moab:


We wanted to make tracks today, so there was little or no stopping to smell the roses. Our initial destination was Rangely CO, which I entered on my GPS. It was a beautiful ride through the mountains, though I obviously chose the wrong address because my GPS told me I was there about 30 minutes before we actually reached the town. From Rangely, we headed to Vernal UT for lunch and then through Flaming Gorge - the ride over the dam was neat, but the wind was incredibly strong, pushing us around as we reached the far side.

The wind should have been a clue, we pushed on into WY and hit powerful winds crossing the mountains. Suddenly, our radios were picking up conversation between hunting parties who were after deer. We only saw a couple of white-tailed deer high-tailing it away from the highway. Finally, we stopped for gas along the ID border, where we discovered that beer was sold in the liquor stores/bars. Mark found a dark bar just down the road and grabbed a 6-pack. A while later, we stopped at a roadhouse to get some more beer (we didn't really fancy the Busch that Mark had picked up). The roadhouse was quite a sight, the locals all well on their way to hangovers at the bar wanted us to stay and have a couple before heading up the highway... ... we thanked them for their hospitality and hit the road figuring we should be far away before any more of them got into their 4x4s and started weaving all over the road. A little ways further and we found our home for the night:




Shortly after setting up camp, it was time for a beer and dinner. Mark chuckled as we looked for a bottle opener and he had his cans; I said nothing waiting for Mark's reaction about halfway through his first can when he noticed that it was... NON-alcoholic beer!!

We had a peaceful dinner but during clean up, the first few drops of rain hit - suddenly the heavens opened up and we had our second thunderstorm of the week!! The storm lasted 20 or 30 minutes and then the sun was out again. We enjoyed a nice campfire and went to bed enjoying the sounds of the forest and nearby creek along with a nearly empty campground!! Bliss.
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