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Old 06-14-2014, 07:56 PM   #1
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So Frodo and Phaedrus bonny out of a bar...

So it's been nearly two weeks since I made two big steps:

1) Quit lurking and threw my hat into this virtual moto bacchanalia, and 2) Quit my job/sabbatical and hit the road

I've been dragging arse on starting this ride report because I've been busy riding, visiting family, and just getting used to travelling by motorcycle, so I sequestered myself in a 4-star hotel in Denver with some whiskey, and sat my behind down and here we are!

Here's me, and my bike, and my poster

Some background:

I've lived in Austin, TX for the past 2 years, working at the Firehouse Hostel & Lounge as a bartender and general Johnny-on-the-spot-with-the-ammo handyman. Shameless plug: You won't find better priced accommodation in the heart of ATX, plus killer drinks and conversation right downstairs in the bar.

Here's a photo of a German guy (Stefan, riding a Triumph Scrambler from Berlin to the 2014 World Cup. Cool dude, we rode the hill country and had some beers a the bar after.

No, I've never done more than an overnight on the bike before, and Yes this is my first motorcycle, I've been riding a little over two years. I ride a 2006 Bonneville T100, fairly modified (caught the bug early) and what it lacks in practicality and on some level comfort, I'm happy to be doing the trip in style and making it on what many people don't consider a touring bike. Also, I've never made it past pg 75 in Zen, just thought the title was catchy.

Ima be keeping these next few (dozen or so) posts photo rich, better browsing but if you have a thought let me know. Prost!
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Old 06-14-2014, 08:11 PM   #2
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Day 1-ATX to Kerrville TX

After spending a week putzing around in Sayulita MX on a dudes vacation, I got back to ATX and went to work doing a final packing, and throwing what stuff I wanted to keep/couldn't sell or give away into storage.

The bike, named Frodo, naked

And packed

I left fairly late, headed to meet some friends at the Quiet Valley Ranch to spend a night a the Kerrville Folk Festival. The trip started auspiciously enough when I'm in Dripping Springs getting gas, and I trip the sidestand switch and the bike won't start. After fiddling for a half hour, I flip the transmission though the gears and once back in neutral, its good to go. And then I snapped a bungee hook.

Finally got rolling, and headed out to Fredricksburg, TX; super kitsch German but somehow charming

Got into Kerrville just as the sun was falling

I picked up some beer, and settled in for a night of alternately delightful, moving, bad, odd and just plain "????" music by an eclectic group inhabiting the Kerrpit, our campsite. Thankfully the ???? was tempered by a starry night, warm weather, and adult diversions.
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Old 06-14-2014, 08:49 PM   #3
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Day 2-Kerrville to Alpine TX

So I woke up on top of a tarp, under my Mexi-blanket/asspad, feeling a might groggy and noticing that I'd written a lyric to one of the songs I'd heard the night before in sharpie on my arm

Its a nice sentiment

I stopped and got some coffee in Kerrville (the ranch is on the way south to Medina), before heading west. Got a quaint shot of the Guadalupe River flowing through town. Fun Fact: the Guadalupe is the southernmost tailwater trout fishery in North America

About 5 miles down the road, I stopped at Bill's, a shrine to people eating tasty animals. Yum

A sign at the front reminded me why I worked so hard to pay off all of my debt the past two years: So I could take this trip!

Heading out towards Rocksprings TX on the way to Del Rio. Not a lot out there, but the landscape changes pretty dramatically from hill country lush to barren Chihuahuan desert within 100 miles.

I stopped in Del Rio for gas, and a gent named Bob pulled up on Frankenstein. We chatted for a bit, and he explained that his brother and him had made this custom. "This" was the front end of a late '80's Kawasaki and the driveshaft and engine for a Ford Taurus contained in the trunk. He said it cruised at 75 no problem, and the only suspension is what you see on the front! Super Chingon

Went ahead and crossed Amistad Reservoir, right on the border

My original plan was to camp at Seminole Canyon State Park, which is at the northern end of one of the arms of the reservoir. I got there, and in addition to being West-Texas hot, it was blowing hard and the campsites were exposed. What put the nail in the coffin for me was a guy that obviously lived in his car being stoked that the rangers station was closed and he wouldn't have to pay for the night. I'm not that hardcore yet, and truthfully it was no reason to worry, but I decided to push on as I had plenty of sun and energy to burn. Did get some nice shots of the canyon, and if you hike down in there the petroglyphs are some of the oldest in Tejas.

Seminole Canyon, which used have water backing up into it from the lake

Now, I will say that HWY 90 between Del Rio and any point west it a slog, and the stretch between Del Rio and Marathon is doubly so. I got badly needed gas (Frodo doesn't have great range) in Langtry, even though the gas station/café/motel was already closed. The home/owners were playing pool and nice enough to let me interrupt their game.

It was here that I noticed that my new mesh jacket wasn't sun-proof, as my forearms were blistering. Be forewarned, there's a reason moms and wives everywhere are militant about sunscreen. My evidence is a photo of my 3 days back from Sayulita (got excited about the surf and went out for waaayyy too long with no sunscreen and the complexion of Gollum). Here ye are:

I've learned my lesson, hopefully minus the lesions.

At some point thereabouts, I crossed the Pecos River. Having fished its headwaters many times as a kid in northern NM, it was cool to see it near where it dumps into the Rio Grande. Quite a view

Then my phone died. Suffice it to say that there is nothing in Dryden, a little bit more in Sanderson, Marathon is still there because of Big Bend NP (my next stop), and Alpine is the most happening place between El Paso and Kerrville. Halfway between Marathon and Alpine, I did see one of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever witnessed, but I guess some things are not meant to be shared, only appreciated and contemplated on as they're happening.

I ended the night flopping into a Best Western, to tired to care about the $. Ate Subway. Meh.
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Old 06-14-2014, 09:42 PM   #4
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Day 3-Alpine to Big Bend NP, TX

So, after flopping in Alpine, I fought my bank to get some cash as I wasn't sure of the usefulness of cards in that remote an area. For future note, they take cards everywhere. All hail the intermenets!

That still led to a late start, but I ate in my first restaurant inhabiting the carcass of an old gas station. I'd read about this some months back with great interest as I frankly adore the "reuse" ethos; it guides my material selection when I build furniture. Apparently these kind of establishments are popping up all over the USA, kudos to them and the Cowboy Grill (?) had solid food and huge portions. A view from the interior

I jetted south along 118 towards Study Butte and the western entrance to the park. Long straightaways punctuated by long turns on a general downhill trend and surrounded by some unique mountains.

Finally reached Study Butte some 100 miles later, and it was hot. Sat in the shade for a good 45 minutes and drank nearly a gallon of water.

While fueling, I met Erroll who pulled up on an old Harley. He'd just moved to Terlingua, and told me RM 170 through the canyon to Presidio TX is a World Heritage Road and wholly worth the time. I took note and gave him a wave as he pulled off. Still haven't checked if that road is UNESCO certified.

I decided to run east across the park to Boquillas de Carmen. I was interested in the history of the informal border crossing that had existed there for decades until it was closed after 9/11. First I rode up towards the Chisos, then down toward Boquillas; frankly, its a long ride. You don't realize how big Big Bend really is until your in the middle of it.

The border crossing reopened in 2013, undergoing a huge transformation. Its paved and gated and monitored by cameras and wholly lacking the romance of yore.

I talked with the guy behind the desk, holding it in as tempted as I was to be a smart-alec about this "posting." The crossing is via rowboat, and then you have to walk/burro/taxi the mile up to the village. Decided to skip it on seeing those horrid automaton customs machines that scan your passport and take your photo; had to do it in Houston flying back from Sayulita, didn't feel it justified here at the south end of Big Bend. Disappointment, I guess?

Tranced out to see Boquillas canyon, and got a dose of free range on the way

A view of the Rio Grande just past the border crossing, Mexico's on the far side

Now, I'd heard that after the crossing had closed in 2001, Boquillas de Carmen had gone into freefall as economically dependent as it was on the tourists from the park. That got hammered home on these big rocks that denoted the parking area.

I had some pesos leftover from Mexico, and decided to grab a few things for my dad and stepmother. Shouting across the river to thank the guys sitting in the shade on the opposite bank, I was stoked to see this (my phone has a bad zoom function sorry)

They waded right across the river to get the money from the milk jugs. This is Felix, who made me promise not to tell La Migra nothing

Salesman that he is, he talked me into donating another $200 pesos for a piece of amethyst still stuck in its mother quartz. I gave that to my father, who's a jeweler.

Heading to the end of the road and the edge of the park, I went to the entrance of Boquillas Canyon. I hiked the two mile trail back into the canyon mouth. Spectacular, and who knew there were beavers this far south?

There were lots of turtle shells along the trail. Thought it might be from the floods, but noting the holes in the shells I'd bet $200 pesos the people in Boquillas eat them

Couldn't bring myself to support this charity

Lesson of the day: even with a bottle of Gatorade, even at 5:30pm, heat stroke is real. Me after the short hike. I sat in the shade of an outhouse for an hour.

Relatively rested up, back to the cool elevations of the Chisos to camp. Milestone along the way, hit 19K on Frodo

And the view at that milestone

You gain about 3K' elevation heading up towards the Chisos Mtns campground, my first view of the valley

And the road heading into all that

Camp that night, along with a great dinner of cliff bars and canned Vienna sausages

Final lesson of the day: upturned pipes + that new camping mat in the bottom of the panniers = heatsealed. Thankfully, usable.
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Old 06-14-2014, 10:15 PM   #5
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Day 4-Big Bend to Marfa TX

That high up in the mountains, after minor heat stroke the prior day in the valley, I woke up chilly. View from the tent

The original idea was to camp at Cottonwood in the bosque, but I took the entrance ranger's advice to camp up in the mountains where it was 30 degrees cooler.

Headed SW on the road to Costolon and Cottonwood, a view of the Chisos from the west. The "v" in the peaks in the western outlet of the valley where I camped

On the way out to Santa Elena Canyon

At the exit of the canyon. It's floatable (another trip, alas) and nearly 1500' deep in places

I exited the park the way I came in, and headed out to RM 170 following the Tao of Erroll. Lajitas, nice golf course and view of the bosque!

The sign to the left there is info on the journey of Cabeza de Vaca. He was wrecked along the Gulf in the early 16th century, and walked all the way to the mid-west coast of Mexico. Highly recommend the book "A Land So Strange" by Andres Resendez. Glean what you will:

Finally hit RM 170. A challenging and exciting road for sure. This is near the south end of the canyon:

I had fantastic chile rellenos at El Patio in Presidio, across the river from Ojinaga. They even had a hand carved statue of Cabeza de Vaca (I think/wish)

Was heading to Marfa for the night, and on the beginning of the long slog uphill to Colorado I saw this immense dust devil. What's the cutoff for a tornado?

I camped at the glamp site El Cosmico in Marfa for the night. Not to shabby. It was windy as all hell, but they provided cold beers gratis while I cleaned and adjusted the chain on Frodo. The courthouse and camp for the night:

I went to Planet Marfa that night, had a few beers, some good nachos and a great Coney Island Dog before turning in for the night. Chatted with some new friends, watched some of the X-Games, which of course started just after I left ATX.
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Old 06-14-2014, 10:46 PM   #6
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Day 5-Marfa TX to Santa Fe NM

This was no BS the toughest day so far. Woke up to an idyllic sunrise with a cat who would not stay the frak out of my tent

And yes that is a spitter can

Gassed and coffee-d up, and with a souvenir from Planet Marfa that some cousin's cousin had stolen for me.

About halfway between Marfa and Valentine, I see a blimp in the desert. La migra?

Rolling into Van Horn TX, I notice my steering go out pulling into the gas station. Flat front....%$#&^*@

Thankfully I had some spare tubes with me, but no spoons. Kudos to Drew and Scott at Lonestar BMW/Triumph for taking care of me during my time in ATX, and especially for getting me some tubes on the day I left on no notice. Good looking out!

I rolled the bike over to IMI tire across the street, where Daniel was super chill and let me use his truck to find someone with some tire spoons. After a few false starts, I met Russell at Roadhouse customs

He changed the tube for me, and repaired the flat. Was probably a brad or mesquite thorn, but a good sized puncture nonetheless. I have no idea how long I was running with just the heat of rubber on road keeping it inflated

A few of the bikes in Russell's shop

Back on the road and smiling again!

I left Van Horn in the early afternoon, took two bees to the chest between there and the TX/NM border, but got a good shot going by Guadalupe Mtns NP

As I'm from Santa Fe NM, I didn't take any photos between there and Vaughn-ish. Hwy 285 is long, gently uphill through the Llano, and Carlsbad is still hot, Artesia smells like oil, and Roswell is really not that bad; rather bustling.

It was only about 50 miles from Vaughn, the only gas between Roswell and Clines Corners and a necessary stop on the Bonneville, that things got beautifully hairy. The gray clouds ahead...

...started moving fast about 10 miles later. Then a ton of lightning. Then funnel clouds started twirling fingers downwards to my left and right. There is absolutely-fricking NOTHING out there. No trees, no houses, only some conveniently placed radio masts to get fried under. I made a call and booked it the next 40 miles through some nasty gusts at about 90mph to get to Vaughn. Sphincter factor was definitely a solid 8. Gassed up, heard tornadoes were about to hit the ground 10 miles away and got the hell out of Vaughn back out into the sunlight just north of I-40.

About 30 miles outside of Santa Fe, this moved into my way:

After donning rain gear, attitude improves!

Of course the weather holds until I'm exiting I-25 south towards the ol' family homestead. Literally the moment I get off the freeway, nickel sized hail comes down in sheets. Cars are pulling over under overpasses, but I'm so fried and 3 blocks from my goal I just say "ow, ow, ow..." all the way home. Hail sucks.
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Old 06-14-2014, 11:44 PM   #7
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Days 6-8-Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe is home. First girl kissed, first arrest, first hangover. I spent the three days eating and drinking, putzing with the family dog Kodar the Barbarian (below), and running errands for the family businesses.

Went down to PJ's in ABQ to get some new jets.

I'm still carbureted, and running 135 mains at 7K' wasn't cutting it, so I dropped to 110's and she's purring at elevation now. And my gas mileage went up, stupid-like. was getting 35+, now I'm getting 45+. Don't know why, don't really care right know, but learning for learning's sake if anyone has any thoughts...

Most important rediscovery was the sopapilla. Just eat one, preferably with honey and/or hatch green chile.

Another interesting thing about Santa Fe, and one that I'd frankly forgot, is that people stand on the medians at intersections and sell the daily paper. Still ain't seen people doing that anywhere else for a long time. Shot from dropping off tile for the family biz.

I did grab a couple of token shots of downtown. San Francisco St:

The Plaza:

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, where I had my high school graduation. It was a mass.

The Palace of the Governors, built in the early 1600's:

And finally the Scottish Rite Temple, possibly the most pink building in one knows why...

Headed north to CO the next day
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Old 06-16-2014, 07:30 PM   #8
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Day 9-Santa Fe NM to San Luis CO

Super hipster heading out of Santa Fe

Interestingly enough, after seeing very few bikes all the way from ATX to Santa Fe, as soon as I got north on my way to Taos there were bikes everywhere. All the way from Pojoaque as far as I've gotten north, everyone's out riding enjoying the good weather. In NM Harley's rule and helmets are few and far between, but once into CO I'm seeing many sport bikes and scores of dual sports daily.

Just north of Espanola, I caught up with the Rio Grande again, just as it exits the tail end of the canyon.

The water was running fairly high from the spring runoff, and there were a good amount to people rafting, didn't snap any photos of them though. Across the river, where the old hwy ran decades ago, there are a lot of interesting, dilapidated old farmsteads and other structures. Reminds me of how old NM really is

After climbing for a good piece, you break out onto the Taos plateau, and the main section of the gorge slashes severely through it all. I'm glad the light was good that day

As small as Taos is, the main highway though is clogged with traffic. Considering the slow going, I stopped and walked around for a few minutes. Here is a cool mural on the side of an old adobe

and a ristra, used to dry chiles in the sun after the harvest

I decided to drive the 10 miles out to the Gorge bridge. It's quite a marvel, and famous from movies like Natural Born Killers to as recent as Terminator: Salvation.

Just on the west side is the ice cream/coffee bus

Heading back to the main Hwy, I wound my way up through Questa and Costilla until hitting the Colorado border

I headed to my aunt's house in San Luis, and cracked a few beers.

The view from her house looks out on the Sangre de Cristos.

Super glad to be at elevation now where its cooler, only 75 or so unlike the 115 around Big Bend
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Old 06-16-2014, 08:00 PM   #9
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Day 10-San Luis to Cedaredge CO

Waking up, I called my mother who was in Cedaredge CO, just north of Delta. She lives in an RV, so catching her is always hit or miss. Since she was close, I decided to cross the Rockies and head out to the Western Slope. Heading into Alamosa, I was tempted,

but recalled I'd been there when I was 8 or 9. I'd be interested to know how they keep them alive in the winter. The San Luis valley is an ancient lake bed, and the winds can be fierce and its high up, so it get frikin cold!

I headed up the westernmost "gun-barrel" to Saguache, and came across this abandoned drive-in in the middle of farmland. Some highschool kids were scrounging around for god knows what.

Heading west, I took 114 up into the mountains winding through some quaint valley's, feeling the air cool as I got higher.

Then I crossed the continental divide for the first time!

Frodo was running pretty good this high up. Acceleration was lax, and the bike didn't want to go above 60MPH, but I was pleasantly surprised

A few miles later, I hit 20K, and the view this time was decidedly more lush than west Tejas.

Not much out here but the occasional ranch, but all of the sudden you descend into this little canyon and follow one of the Gunnison's tributaries into the Gunnison valley.

In Gunnison proper, there were a ton of riders heading east and west on Hwy 50. I gassed up and headed towards Blue Mesa Reservoir, which gradually opens up and fills a beautiful high desert valley.

The reservoir is about 20 miles long, and you cross several bridges along the way. Towards the dam, the scenery is incredible as the mountains tighten in again has I headed nearer the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

Just as you hit the damn, US 50 takes of south and climbs into the Uncomphagres. You get just a peek of the beginning of the Black Canyon. The road just visible on the north rim is CO 92, and a hell of a ride. I saw several groups of riders the next day as I took it back east.

Followed the Uncompahgre River Valley down into Montrose, and got a peak of the 14ers to the south.

Another 40 or so miles, and I made it to the RV and a home cooked meal. Pretty dern perfect day
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Old 06-16-2014, 08:34 PM   #10
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Day 11-Cedaredge to Colorado Springs, CO

I woke up on the RV's sofa to the smell of steak and eggs and coffee. Madre making a man breakfast, what more could you ask for. After conferring via phone with my stepdad, a seasoned rider all over western CO, he suggested I head to Hotchkiss to catch CO 92 along the northern side of Curecanti NRA. Man I'm glad I took his advice.

In Hotchkiss, there were motorcycles everywhere,

and I met Tai Chi Bob and we talked KLR's and safe riding along the twistys heading east.

Out of Crawford, it's gently rolling farmland until you start climbing into the Curecanti area

Once I got up along the peaks, the views opened up and the riding got a little more technical (at least for me)

You keep heading east and getting higher...and wonder how difficult it must have been to get the power lines strung up these super steep slopes from the dams in the canyon.

Finally you mount the ridge, and begin to feel like you're in a Coors Light commercial.

I was taking it slow and enjoying the scenery. Amazingly, there are ranches up on top of the peaks, and little cabins dotted along the ridge in seemingly impossible little reaches.

Closer to the Blue Mesa dam, you get a great look over the Black Canyon

And some perspective on why it's "black." Its bloody deep!

Nearing the dam, there are some enlightening info plaques until you see the dam itself

CO 92 was definitely a highlight of the trip. I caught US 50 back into Gunnison, and began the long climb toward Monarch Pass and the Arkansas valley on the other side. This is looking back west about halfway up the road to Monarch

Another 15 miles or so, and we're back on the atlantic side of things, and the highest pass yet! I was a little disappointed in the souveneir shop, kind of spoiled the majesty

Just a mile further on, and there's Monarch Ski area; its a theme that the further north and higher I'm getting, there's still snow even in mid June.

Hitting 285 again, I turned on 24 and stopped for gas. Second time I was tempted to pick up a gift for the family

Who can resist a free DVD???

Heading back up the hills on the east side of the Arkansas, all of a sudden I found myself in the land of Kenny and Cartman. Park county is fairly amazing, and I also learned to look out better for brake lights! Yikes!

About 80 miles later, I got my first glimpse of Pikes Peak. This was a view of it that I'd never seen; odd how a change in perspective on something you know so well can really excite you. I know I was. Further down into this valley it starts getting more suburban and I dropped probably 3000 feet down into the Springs. I have a lot of aunts in CO, and free places to crash are always sweet.
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Old 06-16-2014, 09:23 PM   #11
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Day 12 & 13-the Springs to Denver to Berthoud CO

So I got a lot of Aunts, and family in CO, especially the Denver area. I spent these days visiting my grandparents, and finally saw my stepbrother who I hadn't seen since vacationing in Sayulita with him about 6 years before. He was out at Bandimere Speedway helping his girlfriend's dad with his SNS dragster. It was only a qualifying day, but damn if it wasn't awesome to see things go fast!

Super glad I had a bag full of earplugs, because these cars and bikes were loud!

Here is the dragster they were racing

Getting ready to race

On that run he hit 142.5mph, pretty impressive.

The super dragsters, alky-cars, etc demons on wheels. The fastest I saw was 228mph and a shade over 6 seconds in the 1/4 mile. Walking around, its bike and car porn with the feeling of a flea market. Everything was seemingly up for sale or trade

Cars and bikes lined up in the pits

Me and my stepbrother

The day ended up getting rained out and closed down due to lightning. Walking back to the parking lot, these drag cars were being towed by golf carts back to their trailers

I decided to stay in LoDo for the night as I hadn't been into downtown Denver in the better part of a decade. Heading into town

Two blocks from my hotel, there was a huge screen set up as a fan zone for the World Cup (big fan, I went to south Africa in 2010). I checked in, and headed over. Caught the last half of the Italy-England game and drank a Bud. Good way to unwind.

Walking around before turning in (the idea was to sequester myself to get to work on this ride report), I came across this open air dining along Larimer St where all the restaurants serve out on the street. Pretty cool, though I headed into a dark cocktail bar that served BBQ. How could I resist?

Another good day, though I did come across this beautiful Norton being used as a clothing prop.

I may or may not have meant to include the stores name...

I woke up late, and then mozyed my way up to my brothers house in Berthoud. Stopped for lunch and saw this great sign in the restaurant

Spent the afternoon looking around his amaze-balls shop (handmade CNC machine...yup) and chatting with him and his girlfriend and a few of their coworkers over dinner.

He's been working on this custom café racer

We drank a lot of whiskey and smoked too many cigarettes, but it was a sorely needed reconnection between us. Here we are during our "barefoot in the kitchen moment" as his girlfriend put it

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Old 06-19-2014, 10:44 PM   #12
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Day 14-Berthoud to Steamboat Springs CO

Wind sucks.

My stepbrother and his girlfriend convinced me to take the Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain NP, crests at just over 12,100 ft. Super glad, except for the 40-50mph gusts. The views were totally worth it though.

After a few shorter days, I was looking forward to making some miles. As you can see, my packing technique is still in the works, but as the weather gets colder things are getting more compact.

The view after first climbing to altitude

It was relatively busy in the park, but there were plenty of elk ranging around. This is getting near the top of the world

Its pretty amazing climbing from lush montane forest into barren alpine tundra (that was lifted from the NP brochure, but dern if it ain't true). At the top, it was cold and gusting something fierce. Definitely the most challenging ride so far, as I was trying to maintain the pace of traffic without getting blow off of one side or the other. The Bonneville is only 450 wet, and with me and gear it still isn't much of a match for anything blowing over 25mph, esp. as compact as it is. If nothing else, its an opportunity to refine my riding skills.

Coming off of the ridge line, I dropped into the Kawuneeche Valley, the headwaters of the Colorado River.

Its a stark difference from crossing at Yuma along I-10.

In the Valley there were a plethora (?) of elk

After exiting the SW side of the park after 3-4 hours, I skirted the Granby and Shadow Mtn Lakes. I decided to make a run to Steamboat Springs since I've always been a skier and had never been. No shut Sherlock its summer, but I needed to crash b/c the wind had serious kicked my n00b ass.

I followed the Colorado River for a minute, through this canyon
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Old 06-19-2014, 10:48 PM   #13
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Day 14 cont'd

There were a lot of riders around, but I booked it up and over several passes (I've now crossed the continental divide 5-6 times I think) until I broke into the Yampa valley during that magic hour at sunset. Crashed, ate Mexican (my cravings lately are unnatural) and talked the World Cup with the bartender. Little did I know that the wind was only flirting with me....bum bum bum
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Old 06-19-2014, 11:26 PM   #14
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Day 15-Steamboat Springs CO to Strawberry Reservoir UT-Wind = STFU

STFU Wind.

At least the day was more clear.

I left Steamboat fairly early for me, by 10a. Then we got super-America in Craig, CO!

And questioned gas station morality

I am formally nominating US Hwy 40 for realistically the loneliest hwy in 'merica. Its wind blasted, empty, and rolls past a lot of empty nothing.

By reaching Dinosaur, CO, I'd already been worked by gusts from north and south.

Passing Utah, I got to thinking

QUICK: Top 3 dinosaurs, GO!

1) Littlefoot from Land Before Time
2) Velociraptor, duh
3 Janet Reno

I was greeted my Littlefoot's, um, cousin, in Vernal, UT, and hit 21000 miles

And crossed the Green River at some point in there

Frankly have no idea where this canal was, but it was picturesque nonetheless

A little pass this Fort Duchesne in the Uintah Reservation, the weather started to look a little bad, and the gusts were demanding all of my attention to stay on the road. My goal for that night was Heber City just inside the Wasatch. Spoiler alert, I didn't make it.

The little puff of cloud just beyond the far ridgeline at the "V" just left of center in the bottom photo is as far as I made it

After getting on my rain gear about 10 miles down the road, and getting my helmet knocked off my bike while doing so and breaking the lock on the visor, things got nasty.

Heading up into the Wasatch, it started to rain, and the wind vortexes from the 18-wheelers were slapping me around. I was only 30 miles or so from Heber city, but by 25 miles out, it had started to freeze. I came to the realization that when I couldn't see because the sleet was sticking to my visor it was either dinner or hypothermia. Dinner lost.

I dived off at Strawberry Reservoir, mildly desperate for shelter. I found a little subdivision of summer homes near the lake and as the whiteout decreased visibility to less that 250', I drove towards a home with a boat under a porch that was in the lee side of the wind. I frigidly knocked, no one home. Guess what buddy, I'm camping in front of your garage door. No dinner, but I scrambled camp up, threw the space blanket over my bag in the tent, and settled in. Once, a car paused headed to another house, probably wondering why a tent was pitched in their neighbors driveway, but whatever. I read a book for an hour, and settled in my bag glad to be warm and dry. Damn glad my dad forced me through the Boy Scouts.
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Old 06-20-2014, 12:05 AM   #15
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Day 16-Strawberry Reservoir UT to Jerome ID

To day went from "snap it's cold," to "damn it's lovely."

A couple of shots from my driveway camp

I do believe this is the first time Frodo has ever encountered ice, but he started up with a little coaxing on the choke.

After breaking camp, I rode cold as hell into Heber and promptly demolished a pot of coffee, eggs and sausage, and biscuits and gravy with a double dose of hashbrowns. Buuurrp.

Making an executive decision, I decided not to head north for the time being as that same storm was lashing Yellowstone, etc, which was my original goal.

Instead, I dove south and out of the Wasatch through Provo canyon

And popped out into the greater SLC area. Pretty vanilla but they've got the killer views

I screwed around in Salt Lake for a couple of hours, flirting with the idea of getting a new helmet until the $400+ price tags and love for my trusty ol' Scorpion got my common sense flowing again. I jetted west on I-80 and passed this fricking big chimney along the shores of the salt lake.

A little further on, demolition derby vibes. I want one...

Heading across the salt flats, I passed this tennis ball antenna thing in the middle of nowhere. It struck my aesthetic fancy, ya know?

Just outside of Wendover, I passed the sign for the Bonneville Salt Flats. Yup. But first I needed gas. I'd noticed some jerking in my acceleration across I-80, and it wasn't until I stopped that I realized my dumb-assery of the 1st degree. I forgot to stuff the rain covers from the saddlebags back in, and the right-hand on was all caught in the chain. Learning experience definitely, reckless mistake narrowly averted. I ended up tearing it off and still need to throw the stuff that can get wet in the defenseless bag.

A really nice guy from Chicago saw me tooling around and checked to make sure everything was alright. It's surprising the generosity and support fellow motorcyclists show each other, especially for this obstinately self-reliant n00b. Also, the wave: begin history lesson/philosophical queries. Why???

I headed back east to hit the salt flats.

Ran 5 miles out and back, only hitting 65 because of the load on the bike, but it felt great.

World's Fastest Indian anyone? Gets me every time.

After leaving Utah, I devoured I-80 until hitting Wells, then headed north on Hwy 93. I'd talked with a couple that has just barely outrun some hail near the NV-ID border, but took the gamble to start going north again.

Getting near the ID border, I hit Jackpot, NV and was not expecting to see all the casinos 60 miles at least from anything. Especially Cactus Pete's, the tallest thing except for the mountains for several hundred miles around. Right across the border, the mountains and basins open up onto a wide rolling plain. Incredibly idyllic farmland as far as the eye can see all the way into Twin Falls.

I knew I was rolling into the Snake River valley, but I was not expecting the canyon. Simply majestic

Little waterfalls flowing off the plains into the canyon, what looks like a great golf course a little west of the bridge, breathtaking. In downtown Twin Falls, I caught a little music for a summer concert series, an extraordinary Reuben with a good porter, and passed the F out. It's amazing what 24 hours can do to change the attitude!
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