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Old 05-11-2012, 06:08 AM   #31
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I agree with you about Yosemite, but I was really impressed by the Sequoias nearby.
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Old 05-11-2012, 06:45 AM   #32
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I still love driving into the Yosemite Valley, but I usually come in from the south and the change from forest to open area lined with rock going straight up always makes me smile. I hope you made it up to Sequoia NP, it's definitely worth the extra time to see those trees. Seriously, they're pretty incredible.
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Old 05-11-2012, 09:54 AM   #33
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May 6, 2012 - San Francisco was the next stop. And what a stop it was... We had roughly 2 full days to poke around and we saw plenty. First stop was Pier 23, where we pulled up as we rolled into the city and parked the bikes casually on the sidewalk, next to a few shiny (and loud) Harleys. Not something we would entertain in other circumstances, but we were hot and tired and needed to get off the bike.

Looking around for a motel was an interesting challenge. A few tries later, we ended up a block away from San Francisco city hall in a pretty decent place, although it had its moments. From there, everything was within walking distance, except Golden Gate bridge.



One of the first stops was the Museum of Modern Art, always a treat.



Even the foyer provides rich photographic fodder.



The entryway.



The MOMA covers off a range of topics. One of the themes was the "Whole Earth Catalogue" movement and the alternative ideas therein to make the world a better place. From it, some interesting work persisted into current sustainable living models, such as this fully automated sun-activated residential concept.



The MOMA's paintings are still the most enjoyable aspect of the whole experience.



Next stop was Golden Gate bridge. Quite interesting and although I'd crossed it in the past, this was the first time I actually spent some time looking at it.



We had a few excellent meals, most notably at Modern Thai on Polk street, a very lively corridor right near the hotel.

Next stop is Death Valley and Las Vegas, where we are going to take a breather and hang for a few days. The pace of travel has been high and we want to start slowing down.

Edit: I updated the slideshows page as well if you wanted to see more pictures.
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Old 05-11-2012, 12:49 PM   #34
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Good report, keep them coming, you'll be glad when you have it to look over after the ride. My wife and I just got back from seeing many of the same places on a different kind of boxer. Loved it all including having fellow inmates ride along vicariously. Thanks for taking the time to post your adventure, Tom.
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Old 05-11-2012, 01:04 PM   #35
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Great report so far; subscribed.
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Old 05-11-2012, 06:31 PM   #36
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May 10, 2012 - From San Francisco, we went to Big Pine, CA, as a first stop to Death Valley and Vegas. Between Big Pine and Lone Pine, Lone Pine is the place to stay, as Big Pine is a wide spot on the road with no functioning restaurants, three gas stations and a convenience store. We bought some food in the convenience store and later Jan went back to buy a frozen pizza, in the hope we had a microwave in the room.

The motel owner very kindly warmed the thing up in her oven. The next day was a leisurely ride to Death Valley and Vegas. I'd never dropped into Death Valley from Lone Pine so this was a nice change from the Ridgecrest/Trona or Vegas routes. Gradually the temperature increased as we descended.



There were a few new lookout points as well along the way.



We didn't do a whole lot in Death Valley except ride to Furnance Creek, flee into the restaurant and order lunch. After quaffing five glasses of water, I felt human again. A few days ago we were freezing on Sonora Pass and now we were faced with the opposite extreme. This ride ranked an 8 out of 10 in terms of heat, runner up to riding along the Dead Sea in summer time on the Jordanian side and crossing the desert in Iran mid-summer. In Iran my handlebar grip glue let go and the grips spun around. Made it challenging to keep the speed up...

We skipped Dante's View but instead circled through Artist's Drive.



Vegas is just Vegas. Not much changes except the levels of collective insanity seem to increase every time I come here. There is not much here but people acting out of character, or worse, people in character. It's a cheapish place to cool our heels for a few days, catch up on websites, emails and to-do lists. We've discovered that some things in the world do get better, such as McDonalds coffee, now certainly better than Starbucks, especially the lattés. Since I wanted to make sure Jan would get a taste of America true and proper, we went off to Denny's, only to be disappointed. They now have healthy "build your meal" choices and lean cuisine. We had an excellent fish-based meal the other night and will be back for more. The portion sizes are also much more reasonable versus the mountains of food you get elsewhere.

The first time I stayed in Vegas, in 1982, we stayed at Circus Circus, then a novelty, now an also-ran casino and hotel. Still, the rooms are large and very well appointed, so it was an easy choice given the prices are very reasonable.



The Bellagio is the new darling in Vegas, despite the other and newer Wynn developments.



Next we're off to Grand Canyon and beyond.
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Old 05-16-2012, 10:53 PM   #37
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May 14, 2012 - Part of our ride from Las Vegas ran over Route 66, which was amusing in the usual tacky tourist sense. The ride was pleasant though. The original plan was to ride to Flagstaff and cut up from there, but we ended up in Williams, AZ, a very friendly place with loads of cheap motels and one crazy Greek restaurant owner.

My bike developed a weird ailment in that it decided to leak oil from the filter housing cover. I fixed it, twice, and now it seems ok. Another fix that was needed was replacing a U bolt on the side stand as yours truly had a tendency to scrape the side stand on hwy 120 coming out of Yosemite. Some of the best twisties in the world, five miles of nothing but hairpins.



Grand Canyon was very nice this time of year. Sunny, but not too warm. It was a bit hazy this time around. When I was here in November 2010, it was cold and crisp, which was better for photography. I shot all the Grand Canyon pictures with the Canon S95. There are a few more here.



We camped at the last campground before heading out the Eastern exit of Grand Canyon. It was very quiet at night, with the Milky Way out in full bloom. I was fully intent on getting up at the crack of dawn to take sunrise pictures, but the first time I peeked out of my sleeping bag it was just before 7 am.

If you want a super-sized picture from Grand Canyon, click hereto download it.

From Grand Canyon, we headed towards Zion National park in Utah. On the way, we came through Marble Canyon, which was a nice surprise as we'd been a bit sloppy planning our route. However, we're in a part of the world where it's hard to find a road you don't thoroughly enjoy.



We stopped in Vermillion, just past Marble Canyon for lunch and then crossed the valley floor. The shot below looks back at where we came from.



Mt. Carmel was the stop for the night, from where we will start a leisurely ride along a lot of the national parks in Utah, starting with Zion National Park.
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Old 05-18-2012, 08:08 AM   #38
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I'm looking forward to the rest of your adventure. Looks like a fantastic ride so far
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Old 05-19-2012, 09:09 PM   #39
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May 16, 2012 - Zion National Park was a surprise in the most positive sense. It was much more of an "in-scene" experience versus the gaping impressive hole that is Grand Canyon. You really are among the rocks. You can get off the bike and touch them and be part of it all for a brief moment in time. A nice touch was that the road was red, instead of black asphalt.

We stopped just about everywhere you were allowed to and the camera got a workout. Again we were there mid-day, so the light was too harsh and I can only imagine what it would be like if sunset pictures were an option.



Zion doesn't have single must-see pieces but rather an uninterrupted stream of new small surprises.



After Zion, we ended up in Panguitch, UT. Unwittingly, we had dinner at the Cowboy's Smoke House Restaurant, apparently an institution in the BBQ world. The place was filled with tourists and a very sullen guitar player who cranked out tunes that left us guessing as to whether we had ended up in a new version of the Milgram experiment.

On May 17th we went through Bryce Canyon which was certainly the prettiest of the three so far.



After hitting all the highlights, which took the better part of the day, we looked for a place with some decent coffee and were sorely disappointed. We're still convinced, after plenty of sampling, that McDonalds serves the best lattés. It's a bit like saying the Virgin Mary can be seen on stage at Crazy Horse, it's that unlikely, but if this is the result of the Liebeck v. McDonalds case, then they need to be applauded and we'll gladly bid adieu to Starbucks.



The travel routine is falling into place nicely. We've only been gone for roughly three weeks and have covered quite a bit. The next stop is Moab and Arches National Park, after which we'll head for Colorado and start poking around there for a while.
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Old 05-22-2012, 05:42 PM   #40
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May 18, 2012 - The odometer clicked past 4,000 miles a day or so ago, a mental note made to check the valves on my machine. After Zion, we rode from Escalante all the way to Blanding, CO.

On the way from Escalante to Blanding we passed through some great riding areas. It's hard to find a bad road around here and eventually you give up trying to remember the best spots. Draw a big circle on the map in southeastern Utah and ride every road in sight is probably not too far off the mark.



In short order, we rode through Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Natural Bridges National Monument. Drifting through the ever changing scenery is a mesmerizing experience. The roads are picture perfect, well marked and, at least at this time of year, there is next to no traffic. Purring valve chatter from the old boxer engine completes the happy experience.



The Colorado river snakes through the countryside and I have lost count as to how many times we've crossed it now.



The bike in all its glory.



We ended up in Blanding, UT. The name says it all and we were happy to get out of there the next day. Moab and Arches National Park await.
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Old 05-23-2012, 11:24 PM   #41
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May 19, 2012 - Moab was the destination of the day and luckily the ride went quickly and smoothly. By noon we'd rolled through Moab, chatted with a few locals interested in exactly how much gas the tanks held, and started on the ascent into Arches National Park.

Arches was spectacular. Without a doubt one of the highlights of the trip so far and fertile ground for countless pictures.







After we completed our ride through Arches, we went back to Moab to find a motel. Aside from finding most of them full, prices were such that we decided to bail on Moab and Utah altogether and ride into Colorado. In Naturita we found a room in the only motel in town. While checking in, one of the people in the lobby asked me if I knew Jeff so and so, as he'd apparently moved to Vancouver a few decades ago. It was that kind of town.

Naturita is one of those towns that died long ago but refuses to let go. A slew of dilapidated main street houses and businesses, most of them shuttered, make for a dreary backdrop to the mountains. One bar was being kept alive by an enterprising expatriate from Denver. She'd organized a Reggae band for the night, which sounded incredulous to us. We went and had a look a few hours later and encountered young and old dancing a set of random styles to poorly played popular songs. With a few local Goths thrown in, it was a bit warped in a downscale Pulp Fiction sort of way.
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Old 05-24-2012, 05:53 AM   #42
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Arches was the setting for a rather influential book called Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey. His theme in this book is that to preserve these places, we need to forbid the building of roads giving easy access. Abbey himself didn't mind wrecking his new Ford bounding down unimproved dirt roads but others did so soon after the book was published, the place got good roads.

Still, the book is a good read in parts and it influenced a good many city folks that there is magic in the outdoor areas they would fear being left alone in.
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Old 05-26-2012, 01:37 AM   #43
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Old 05-29-2012, 10:39 AM   #44
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May 21, 2012 - Yesterday we rode from Naturita to Fruita, CO. We had a relaxing ride with lots of nice scenery. From Fruita, we headed towards Aspen and beyond.

We ended up in Buena Vista and on the way passed by an observatory on hwy 65. The views were stunning and we were happy to have made the impromptu detour over 12 miles of dirt road.



Looking down onto Grand Mesa, you can see an endless set of long sweepers clinging to the mountain side and fleeing into the distance. It certainly is an area not to miss when riding through.



In our hotel in Buena Vista, we heard some chatter outside shortly after we got there. Poking out head outside our room, we saw two bikes parked next to ours, a KTM and a KLR. We chatted with the owners, who were local dirt riders. After a while we were convinced we needed to change our route for the next day and include some back roads and Cottonwood Pass. At 12,126 feet, one of the higher passes around.

Cottonwood Pass was a fantastic detour.



The ride up was a feast of long sweepers with not a single car or other vehicle in sight.



The other side of the pass is a gravel road all the way down.



Around every turn there are small lakes, tufts of beautiful forest, and scenic slopes.



We stopped in Gunnison for coffee and later battled the wind on I50 till we turned off at highway 550, also know as the Million Dollar highway. 550 is one of the "must do" rides in Colorado. At the end of it lies Durango, a small town with a vibrant history and an exquisite tourist district. At night we stumbled upon a Nepali restaurant, a nice change in speed at the end of a long day.
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Old 05-29-2012, 07:01 PM   #45
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May 24, 2012 - Monument Valley was the prime target of the day. I'd been through it on a few occasions, but only once by motorcycle, so it was somewhat novel. Before we got there, we took a quick side trip to the Moki Dugway, billed as a scary, twisted, steep and gravelly road surface where you are virtually assured to get vertigo, especially when teetering on the edge as the bike plows through the gravel.

As we ascended to the top of the plateau, we were still awaiting the scary parts when suddenly the road turned from gravel to pavement. The views were breathtaking, but the scare factor is highly overrated. Nonetheless, the side trip was worth it. As we descended, a big 4x4 towing a trailer and a boat rumbled past us, despite the posted warning signs.



From atop the Moki Dugway, you can see Monument Valley.



Monument Valley seemed smaller than the last few times I went through it, but its beauty is still unmistakable.







We pushed on to Flagstaff, AZ, for the night. I wanted to get off the bike as I hadn't been feeling too well the last few days and I was looking forward to a riding pause. Tomorrow is a short hop to Scottsdale, AZ, where we will be staying with a friend of mine for a few days.
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