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Old 05-09-2011, 05:52 PM   #16
csustewy OP
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Joining the Herd at Mesa Verde

In line with our ruins tour, we headed over to Mesa Verde. First stop in the morning, though, was at the World's Best Visitor Center in Cortez, CO. A volunteer named Bill was the most helpful guy ever - he knew all the roads we were planning on taking across Utah, he offered us the coffee he made, told us a bit about Mesa Verde, let us use their computer. It was a one stop shop. The road up to the cliff dwellings was a nice ride and moved along okay, which was good because we had scheduled two tours at noon and at 2. We had a bit of time to do some exploring before hand though, including the Spruce Tree House where we were able to drop down into a reconstructed kiva.


After exploring around the museum and Spruce Tree House, we headed out to the parking lot where we ran into Ken and Eric, 2 riders out from GA for some exploring. We chatted with them for a minute and wished each other well. They were even nice enough to point out my latest piece of lost hardware (thankfully only a license plate bolt and wing nut). Eric, give a shout if you find us here!

We toured the Balcony House first, which was cool because we were able to walk through a lot of the ruins. It was smaller, but had some sections that were in amazing shape.


There were some fun aspects to the Balcony House tour, including the tunnel...


...and some ladders for Jill to conquer her fear of heights.


The views from all over the park were stunning.


The second guided tour we took was of the Cliff Palace, one of the largest cliff dwellings in the Americas.


We were lucky to see it in the afternoon when the sun was shining through lots of the doorways and windows.


There were many more kivas and a lot of examples of the masonry that were in excellent shape (with some NPS touch-ups, but very few major reconstructions).



We bolted out of the park just after the tour, aiming towards Blanding, UT. Mike made the mistake of following the GPS directions instead of trusting our good Visitor Center friend Bill. We ended up heading north on the more major highway (GPS default) which was heavily trafficked by trucks, up on a plateau, and super windy. The alternate route would have been much better from what we could see to the south - mesas and cliffs, and smaller roads. Not noticing the difference until 5 miles out of town, we pushed on instead of doubling back. We ended up at a nice campsite in Devil's Canyon between Monticello and Blanding, but learned a lesson - get lost first, then turn on the GPS navigation.

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Old 05-09-2011, 05:55 PM   #17
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Onward to Zion

After camping at Burr Trail, UT, the main goal for the day was to get to Zion National Park to meet up with Mike's sister, brother-in-law, and niece. We got another early start and had another very beautiful day of riding. Our first stop was at Cannonville, UT where we got gas, coffee, and checked out the visitors center. We were debating taking a gravel road instead of the highway but when we heard it was going to be about 20 miles of washboards, we collectively decided that the highway sounded like a good idea. That took us through the northern portion of Bryce Canyon National Park and also through Red Canyon National Park. We didn't really take pictures because we were anxious to get to Zion and also because we may pass back through the area soon. Some of the view was similar to this, although Bryce and Red Canyon are much redder and the formations are much different:



We drove into what seemed like a wind tunnel with 30+ mph headwinds with additional gusts thrown in for fun the entire ride to Mt. Carmel Junction, about 40 miles. By the time we got there, we were ready for some food and this place seemed mighty inviting.



Mike was pretty excited about the ho-made pies, but was a little confused by the flavor.



Next we had a beautiful drive through the southern portion of Zion National Park, meeting the family at their hotel in the early afternoon. Then we took care of some things we have been needing to do for several days, like showering and washing clothes. We also had a chance to spend some time uploading photos for our blog and ride report. The difficulty of traveling without much technology is the dependence on finding a cheap/free place to spend some time online. Once we cross the border, internet cafes will be easier to come by, but for now, weekly updates may be the norm. Sorry for the delays...

Most importantly, once arriving, we got to spend some much needed time catching up with the family.
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Old 05-09-2011, 06:03 PM   #18
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Good stuff, I'm in
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Old 05-09-2011, 07:31 PM   #19
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I'm in also ...buena suerte
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Old 05-09-2011, 09:31 PM   #20
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Very cool adventure. Looking fwd to further posts.
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Old 05-09-2011, 10:34 PM   #21
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Looking good!

OK, I'm in too! Looks like a great trip, enjoy it. I just went thru Cortez and past Mesa Verde today, but on 4 wheels. Just got home to Breckenridge.

How did you guys cope with todays wind, I chatted with a couple of bikes in the Az desert and they were hating the gusts on the slab.

Anyway, keep up the good work!

Jim
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Old 05-10-2011, 04:16 AM   #22
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be safe.
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Old 05-16-2011, 07:49 AM   #23
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Ken and Eric

It was great to meet you two in Mesa Verde.....and great that you reattached your license plate! We continued our trip after meeting you including a sandstorm and incredible winds in Monument Valley and a great ride from Durango to Silverton, Ouray, Telluride and back to our adopted home of Mancos. Got home last night and the only scary part of the whole trip was the jockeying traffic in my home town of Atlanta. Crazy!
Mike, I was telling Ken that I would feel better about your safety if Jill wasn't so attractive! Be careful south of the border!
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Old 05-17-2011, 01:12 PM   #24
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CrazyLegs - yeah, we got some nasty wind across there too. Mostly headwind, with some good sidewind gusts to keep us on our toes. We talked to some locals in Eastern Utah who described this time of year as windy season. A fitting description for sure! Hope you enjoyed your trip by Cortez and Mesa Verde.

OldFart123 - hey Eric! Good to hear from you! I agree that Jill is a looker, but she's got some fire hidden behind her kind shyness, so she stands up for herself when necessary. Even so, we'll do our best to be safe and careful, especially south of the border.
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Old 05-17-2011, 01:14 PM   #25
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Livin' It Up

We stayed in Zion for a few days with Mike's sister's family and it was an absolute blast! They were kind enough to let us stay with them at the Driftwood lodge in Springdale, which made the cold and rainy weather bearable. It also gave us a chance to catch up on some much needed laundry and consistent showering. The meals during our stay at Zion were a major improvement over our one-pot meals from camping, and we certainly enjoyed that. We should have taken pictures of those meals since they were presented much better than our camping meals, but it's much easier to get the camera out while camping than while at a restaurant, so no pics of the good meals. Thanks, Mark and Amy, for the dinners!

The first full day we had there was fairly cold and rainy, but we still went out for a short hike during that rare rain storm - Zion only gets ~15 inches of precipitation each year. Even though the weather was a bit dreary, it gave us an interesting perspective on the park that many don't get to see. There were a number of waterfalls that we got to see that usually weren't there, and the ones that were more constant were thundering water down instead of just dripping. Also, the entire valley floor looked so much greener and more alive with all of that moisture. The rain prevented us from considering the hike through the river up the Narrows, but that's ok, we were able to see a lot, and Mike's niece Claire was able to enjoy all of it too.









The second day of hiking we managed to get out fairly early (thanks mostly to Claire's early morning schedule) and enjoyed some morning sunshine for our hike to Angel's Landing. The hike was a long trudge upwards through Refrigerator Canyon to Scout's Lookout. Mark got the best workout as he had Claire in a carrier the entire day, but we definitely all felt the hike up.





At Scout's Lookout the trail continuing on to Angel's Landing is a bit more of a challenge with some risky exposure to 1000 ft + cliffs. Mike was the only one that was excited to make it to the top, so set off along the trail. In the riskiest places, there were chains bolted to the rock to help with balance, so the trail wasn't too dangerous. It was bad enough though that Mike took off his sunglasses so nothing would impede his vision, he certainly did not want to kick a rock and stumble anywhere along that path. The pictures don't do it justice, but here's a glimpse of that stretch...









We all met back up at Scout's Lookout for a snack and some water, along with a family photo.



It was a relief to walk back down the trail, and well timed as it was getting much more crowded as the day went on. That, and rain moved in by the time we got back to the hotel, so we had timed it perfectly.



Our final day in Zion was a shorter day, but we managed to view a part of the park that we hadn't seen before, Kolob Canyon. Before taking off, Claire got her first "ride" on a motorcycle. A future ADVrider inmate, perhaps...



Claire was soooo much fun to hang out with for those few days. She has the most fun of any of us, and causes us to have a riot as well. Her laugh is frequent and contagious. Even simple things like graham crackers can be the most entertaining (and messy) things in the world.



That, and she's very good at sharing, too.



It was a chilly ride up to Kolob Canyon, but a nice section of the park that deserves a longer day to explore on foot.



After our quick tour of the area, it was time to say goodbye to Amy, Mark, and Claire. That was extremely sad as we had such an amazing time those few days in Zion, and we are unsure when we will get the chance to run into them again. Hopefully it's soon, we miss you guys a ton already!

Jill and Mike took some time to bundle up for the drive slightly north to catch a road East back towards Bryce Canyon. Thankfully, we heard that the road we were considering gained a lot of elevation, so we went out of our way a few more miles to the north to catch a lower road. We still managed to catch up to a cold rain that luckily wasn't too heavy. We pulled off in a rest stop to get our bags and selves covered, where we hung out with a couple heading home on the BMW touring bike. After the rain let up, we headed east, but still managed to find ourselves in a rainstorm. It was a good first ride in the rain for Jill - now she knows what she has to look forward to in future rainy rides. By the time we got to Panguitch, UT, we were cold and tired and wanted to find some warmth. So we sprung for a $30 room (yay, off season!) early in the afternoon, allowing us some time to walk around and catch the National Forest office and library.

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Old 05-17-2011, 01:15 PM   #26
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Hoodoo, Who Do You Think You're Foolin'?

After spending the night in the hotel, we got up relatively early and went to Bryce Canyon National Park. There is a 20 some mile road that goes through the park where you can stop at several overlooks. There are also several hikes you can take through the park. It was tourist city at the main areas, even more than at Zion. The area is really quite amazing. We did a hike from Sunset View that ended up being about 3 miles through the bottom of the canyon. Everyone hiking was super geared up in huge hiking boots and other important stuff. We were in flip flops and kept getting warned about how difficult the trail was going to be. Ended up being not at all treacherous in flip flops and not a strenuous hike at all. One lady stared Mike down as she passed and laughed/scoffed at him for his attire. It was hilarious. Here are some views from the overlooks and trails.


(Look at all those hoodoos)











Next we went to Kenab, UT just south of Bryce on the way to the Grand Canyon. We happened upon the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office and asked about camping for the night. The lady knew a lot about cows, but not much about camping unless it had showers and other amenities. BLM land is supposed to be free public land where you can camp openly, so we had expected at least a recommendation for a place to stay, but we got no help at all. Then we stopped for gas and found a great outdoor store across the street. Jill was finally able to find a second pair of riding socks and the owner was able to tell us about a place to camp that included petroglyphs of dinosaurs. We didn't find the site he was talking about, but we did find some free camping in a pretty good spot if not for the bugs.

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Old 05-17-2011, 01:18 PM   #27
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Big Ass Crater in my Backyard, I Hope that You Stay a Hole

Somehow our alarm didn't go off in the morning so we got a later start than expected. That was ok because we worked the daylight savings system to get a time change in AZ that gave us an extra hour. We drove to Page, AZ, tourist mecca of Lake Powell travelers and had a hard time finding a visitors center. We did find City Hall, but they had no idea where it was either and called random people to find it. Eventually it was found in a strip mall. Then we went to Denny's for a big breakfast. Unfortunately, we saw the Baconalia menu after we had ordered, but still managed to down lots of coffee and good food.

After breakfast, Mike did some basic maintenance to the chain. The US models (only sold in 1988 & 1989) of the Transalp never had a centerstand, and don't have a mounting bracket for one available from Honda. Thankfully, a fellow inmate, CigarMike, has been working on creating an aftermarket centerstand for the TA. We are lucky enough to be traveling with one of the first prototypes, which so far has been great, and will continue to prove valuable for regular maintenance and tire changes/repairs. The best part about it is that CigarMike, lives south of Denver, so we were able to work with him to get the stand on. Thanks again, Mike, for working so hard to make these stands work out!! There will be a lot of happy TA owners due to your hard work.



We then hit the road to make it to the Grand Canyon for some amazing vistas and a short hike into the canyon. When we first saw the canyon, it was difficult to fully appreciate the scene - it's almost too massive to take in.





We caught the free shuttle bus from the visitor's center to the S Kaibab trailhead, where we planned on checking out Ooh Aah point, a couple mile roundtrip hike. Somehow we blasted on past ol' Ooh Aah and made it down to Cedar Ridge, which was a beautiful overlook into the canyon. Hiking down and back up that trail certainly gave us a better understanding of how deep and large the Grand Canyon is.







While in the park, we decided to take advantage of the showerhouse at the campground. The place was a madhouse of activity with lots of people doing laundry, waiting for showers, and just hanging out in the parking lot waiting for clothes to dry. Jill had the pleasure of waiting in line for the women's showers behind a 6'6", very manly person, seemingly going through a few changes in life, who apparently felt more comfortable in the women's bathroom than in the men's, even if those around him/her didn't feel the same. Luckily the showers were all separate stalls, so no extra body parts were seen. Unfortunately, we don't have any photos to share with you of that experience.

Due to our longer than expected hike and much needed shower, we didn't want to drive too far at dusk, especially after seeing a few mule deer when leaving the park. In mule deer vs motorcycle, mule deer would win. We made it to Ten X campground in Kaibab Nat'l Forest, which was a nice wooded place to crash. Since it was an official campground, it cost us $10 to stay there, but getting off the road then and also having a picnic table to sit at was worth it. FYI - there are a couple of signed National Forest roads just south of there that would have been perfect for free camping, if you're headed that way.

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Old 05-17-2011, 01:38 PM   #28
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Tire swap in Henderson

We are in Las Vegas now, heading out to Henderson this afternoon. Inmate tbarstow was kind enough to allow us to ship fresh tires to his place and provide us some assistance with swapping tires out. As a noob to dual sport riding, I've actually never changed my own motorcycle tires, or needed to fix a flat, so this will also be a good tutorial for our upcoming ride through rougher roads south of the border. We will post again with some more details of that experience, as well as an update of how the CigarMike centerstand works out for that maintenance. So far, the centerstand has been a huge help and has been holding up perfectly well. This prototype is about there, probably pretty near production.

And thankfully, neither Jill nor myself is a big gambler, so we still have all the money that we entered Vegas with.

We also have a couple more days to catch up on to bring us up to today, but that will follow in the next couple of days...
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Old 05-17-2011, 03:11 PM   #29
Cigar Mike
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Mike and Jill,

I have been looking forward to your next post. I is good to know that you are having a great time. It is also good to hear that the stand is being put to good use.

Be safe and keep us updated on your progress.

Cheers,

Mike
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Old 05-17-2011, 05:59 PM   #30
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Riding in the wet

Riding in the wet? If you find the inside of your panniers collection moisture along the way, consider this cheap mod: trash compactor bags at the supermarket offer an additional layer of defense against the elements and they tend to fit very large panniers very well.

Safe rides!

Brian
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