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Old 10-28-2013, 03:59 PM   #16
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Day 2

DAY 2: Echo Point to “Excellent Camp” by Hoop Lake, UT
225 Miles


I awoke early at the sound of tents rustling, and popped my head out of my tent to see Phil already starting to pack up. “How did you sleep?” “Well despite the nasal symphony, I suppose I slept well” – I laughed and decided to get with the program. A couple of coffee’s and breakfast bars and we were all rolling before 8.30am – highly unusual for a group such as this.







Immediately upon leaving we checked out some really old cow camps and petroglyphs.

























I made a mental note that this was a place I would like to come back to and spend a little more time exploring.



The climb out from Echo Point was breathtaking with the sun rising over the rock formations.





After a quick recce of the route which went right and followed the mesa down to the desert, we decided that we should head into Dinosaur and gas up. I think it was around 30 odd miles into town, and was relatively uneventful except for a close encounter with some deer – brought back memories!

A little disappointed that we had to cut off the route to get gas when we all had capacity to carry much more than we were, we all decided to fill up our auxiliary tanks, rotopaxes etc. Unfortunately, the café in Dinosaur was closed so we each bought a sandwich and decided to push on.

During this break, Phil keenly discussed the merits of new communications technology - after all, he designs the cockpits and software for fighter jets in his real job. Despite this, he steadfastly refuses to buy a smart phone. In stead, he prefers to carry around this:



The next rendezvous with the actual route was some 60 miles down the highway, so after a quick study of my GPS, I worked out what should be an easy dirt road link back onto the trail after only 20 miles on the slab. We turned off the highway onto a reasonable dirt road before the main entrance into Dinosaur National Monument, which deteriorated into a fun 2 track climb over slick rock and then into some deep sand – it reminded us very much of the Moab area. Apparently there were a couple of “rests”, and Phil believed he had broken a finger. Anyway, after dropping down out of the sand we were back onto the route which took us out onto the main road through the park.













After meandering through the Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge, we headed to Crouse Canyon which was once again, spectacular riding. It ended with a pretty cool suspension bridge spanning the Green River which was a great spot for a quick break and some photos.









Onward towards Flaming Gorge through some very wet sections made interesting by quite a lot of cattle grazing intermittently for about 30 miles. It was great riding, although it was pretty amazing going from very wet bog holes to very dry and dusty road surfaces – all at the same time. We pulled into Dutch John for gas and quickly went down to the Flaming Gorge dam wall for some pics. Hungry, we decided to pull into the Flaming Gorge Resort for the biggest burger I had ever seen.





Bloated after our late lunch, we had a bit of a conference trying to decide to find an early camp or push on. There were some ominous black clouds heading directly for us, so we decided to push on. Byway’s route took us through some beautiful pine forest roads, and we passed a great forest service campground at Deep Creek which I thought would be a nice place to stop. Outvoted by the lure of Byways destination campsite marked “Excellent Camp” at Hoop Lake on the route, we pushed on for another 50 odd miles. Of course it rained, and turned the forest service roads into a pretty slick affair. I am fairly comfortable in most riding conditions on the big 990, but mud scares the shit out of me!

Eventually we arrived at Excellent camp just in time for the heavens to open up. We couldn’t really see too much of the surrounding scenery because of the storm, but we knew it would be spectacular in better conditions. We hurriedly set up tents, and then went in search of better shelter from the latest really heavy down pour. Thunder, lightning, hail… all good stuff.







Andrew and I managed to climb under a spruce tree and solve all the worlds problems for about an hour until there was a break in the weather. Anthony, Phil and Stan apparently spent quality time in the wooden pit toilet – sheer luxury! By the way, Anthony only rated the toilet facility here as a 7.

Trying to stay warm, Andrew set about collecting some firewood and with the help of plenty of 98 octane, we had a roaring fire. Despite the miserable weather, we had a great night. Our group was really starting to gel and was in great spirits. We had covered some quick miles on a great route, bikes were running well, and no major crashes or mechanical drama’s.
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Old 10-28-2013, 04:20 PM   #17
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And while that was with my very lovely wife, this would be in the company of three extremely un-photogenic hairy-arsed locals and a rancid Aussie. The next few weeks therefore were spent frantically trying to become familiar with the intricacies of camping and the myriad of associated gear selections (paying particular attention to selecting an industrial strength bear spray - to fend off the potentially amorous advances of the Aussie, obviously). For the gear selection, I decided that I would place a premium on comfort combined with packing density (paying less attention to weight requirements since there would be 100 horsepower hauling everything around).

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Rancid Aussie......amorous advances - glad to see you are still drinking heavily

Thanks for adding your usual color to the dialogue Phil. You did neglect to mention, that despite carrying a self contained apartment on the back of your poor steed, you couldn't quite fit a camp chair?

Dave
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Old 10-28-2013, 04:22 PM   #18
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We turned off the highway onto a reasonable dirt road before the main entrance into Dinosaur National Monument, which deteriorated into a fun 2 track climb over slick rock and then into some deep sand – it reminded us very much of the Moab area. Apparently there were a couple of “rests”, and Phil believed he had broken a finger. Anyway, after dropping down out of the sand we were back onto the route which took us out onto the main road through the park.
I must confess I was having serious thoughts about bailing on the entire ride at this point. When we stopped at the top of that climb, I put my foot in a hole and basically tipped over at zero mph, which in itself wasn't that big of a deal, but it raised significant question in my mind over my ability to effectively control the pig at slow speeds. The thick Renazco perch was writing seat height checks that my questionable inseam couldn't cash. With around 80lbs +/- of gear and additional gas perched over the pillion, consequently the bike didn't need to get that far off upright before I lost control of it.

Tipping over, the offending finger got jammed in a small pocket in the rock and it was pointing at a funny angle when I stood up. To be honest, with the glove still on, I just kind of looked at it and - apparently still having a bit of adrenaline circulating - just grabbed it and straightened it back out without thinking too much. Looking on the bright side, at least it wasn't the one that was - by this stage - typically being used to communicate with the Aussie....

After we all got situated, as I remember it, we started downhill over the slickrock, still somewhat uncertain where the route went. To me, the trail was an averagely technical downhill with a rockface to the left, but an instant death/serious injury drop off a couple of feet to the right that certainly increased my fear factor significantly. It was extremely relieving to reach the bottom in one piece, but I rode along second guessing my next move for the next hour or so.

In retrospect, even given the amount of crap I took for various parts of my setup, the seat choice was by far the dumbest. A perfectly serviceable 'gel low' was sitting at home, on which I can basically flatfoot the bike, an advantage that - under the circumstances - trumps any comfort shortcomings. Btw, note to any potential HOW riders: this isn't part of Byways' route, we were just taking a shortcut. However, I'm sure David can provide co-ordinates for the adventurous.

Douf

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Old 10-28-2013, 05:10 PM   #19
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Douf (Phil)-

Hmmm we've been emailing you for weeks with no response. Now as soon as the stage lights come on - WELL there you are..... welcome to the show!- We'll have plenty of time here to review your steep learning curve around group camping etiquette, bike prep and riding gear.


Casey- whoo hoo nice to see ya chime in!

Dave-
Keep it coming....




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What I was really concerned about, was the CAMPING. Apart from a couple of nights spent sleeping next to the Colorado River during an organized raft trip, the sum total of my adult experience under canvas (or what Ultimately however - and what hopefully will become apparent in this narrative - camping was the biggest revelation and one of the best parts of the trip (even for this outdoor neophyte).

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Old 10-28-2013, 06:35 PM   #20
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Day 3

Day 3: Hoop Lake to Soda Springs.
250 miles.

I woke up as the sun came up happy to see that my well used MSR Hubba Hubba tent had survived a fairly rough night of heavy rain, lightning and high winds – and I was completely dry. What was becoming more of a concern though, was the effect that our diet of freeze dried packet meals was having. I swear at one point I saw Phil’s tent actually lift off the ground after a particularly violent gas expulsion – but that is another story….. Overall, I had a pretty good nights sleep except for a bull elk that wondered into our camp in the middle of the night and proceeded to bugle for female company for what seemed like hours. Are bull elk attracted to stinky motorcyclists?

Our packing progress was slowed somewhat while we tried to let the tents dry off as best we could, so we indulged in the luxury of a morning fire to add to the ambience of our beautiful location. Now that the weather had cleared, we found ourselves camped on the edge of Hoop Lake surrounded by beautiful green mountains. Once again, it was spectacular. A couple of coffee’s and breakfast “a la Mountain House”, and the packing was completed.







We weren’t sure what to expect on the first section after the torrential rains, but the road surface was generally pretty good. A couple of muddy spots kept us on our toes, but the roads through the mountain scenery, lakes and forest trails were amazing. We kept a pretty good pace up and swapped the lead a couple of times.










We finished up that section and got to some pavement near Bald Mountain in the Wasatch Range just north of Park City, UT.







E. Mirror Lake Highway (HWY 150) has to be one of the most scenic roads in North America. Beautiful high alpine lakes, rugged granite ranges, and a great scenic overlook from which to view the desert plains below.







The Georgia Connection:




We stopped here for a few pics, and then had a spirited ride down into the small town of Kamas for gas. Time for lunch, so we headed to a pretty cool little sandwich shop just down the street from the Gas station. After lunch, Anthony went in search of a supermarket to top off supplies. It seemed that he was quite impressed with their selection, because he checked out every single item, then assisted management in inventorying every single item, cooked all the staff lunch…..then dinner..... all while we waited in the sun.



The next section took us on a pavement blast down through Provo and off to the west towards Toole County and the Old Pony express route. What a culture shock to ride in the city after being in the boonies for so long. Rude and aggressive drivers had us all a bit shaken as we pulled in for gas at Cedar Fort. OK, now for some fast stuff. Wide open desert dirt roads. We stopped at the start of the Pony Express route and checked out the monument – it seems like the Pony Express had a very spotty history but was vital to trans-continental communications in its day.








It was great to let the bikes fly over the smooth and fast dirt roads out here. I think we were all pushing a little but were well spread out because of the dust. It was pretty cool looking for nearly 20 miles to the horizon and seeing 6 individual dust clouds.









We weren’t really sure of a camp site, but again trusted Byways route notes and set our sights on a place called Simpson Springs approximately 60 miles from Cedar Fort.

Once again, Byways has picked another great campsite. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, Simpson Springs had an organized camping area, well off the road, with clean toilets (8/10), and we even had firewood. If this place wasn’t marked, you wouldn’t know it even existed. We pulled in and set up around 4.30pm which allowed plenty of time to relax. Stan and Andrew must have been bored with our conversation because they went and washed their clothes. I set up my tent without the rain fly, and Anthony slept on the picnic table under the stars.











Once again, we had a nice fire and good conversation under the bright desert sky.

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Old 10-28-2013, 06:43 PM   #21
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DAY 1- additions from the Steamboat Gang-

The night before we set out, we were up late packing- unpacking- repacking. When you set out for a 2 week ride, and you're not adept at packing for 2 week rides, it's kind of hard to know how much crap to bring vs. bare essentials. Ive done some long trips, but never a 14 day trip into remote West. I'm used to packing light, but its completely different on this route. You have to plan riding from dessert regions to mountain regions, change of seasons, and prep for mechanical issues. Bring the wrong gear, and you'll be miserable, bring too much gear you'll be miserable, dont bring enough, well- same. And if you have a mechanical out in the middle of nowhere, and you are not prepared to deal with it, that impacts the trip for everyone. So I had more tools, spare parts in gross weight than riding gear, but I was prepared.

We were really serious about getting to the meeting point in Meeker ahead of schedule to meet Anthony and Dave. It was our first date with Dave & Anthony, and we didnt want to be late. We pulled out of SteamBoat Campground around 7:30 and headed west about 25 miles to Hayden CO where we would pick up the H.O.W tracks to Meeker.

We stopped in Hayden to top up on fuel, when best laid plans came to a grinding halt. We had our first "Mechanical". Phils bike decided not to fire up- yep- dead battery. Hey Phil- how old is the battery? M8- he repsonds, I rekon its the original battery- hmmm 7 years old: bike prep rule #1 for a 3000 mile offroad adventure- replace the battery. Luckily I had half of my shop packed in my trailer full of spare parts, and I had a new YTZ14 charged and ready to go- I just needed to ride back 25 miles and get it. Thankfully Phils battery gave up there Hayden, instead of 300 miles out- I think we were lucky. So after 75 miles of riding to & from Steamboat Springs 3x before 9am we were finally on our way to Meeker.

The 120 miles or so of this set of tracks worked its way though cattle country, open range, mountains, hills & valleys. At one point we came across a Fed Ex truck out in the middle of nowhere- the gal driving it was parked on the side of the road using the natural "facilities". I guess when you gotta go, you gotta go. She actually caught up to us a few miles up the road when we haad pulled off and were deciding who's Garmin we werre goinf to believe, mine or Stans. As we discussed which turn to take, FedEx gal rolled up in her deilvery truck and pointed us in the right direction, and said the road ahead of us was remarkable. That was an under statment. The Hayden-Dino leg was a great introduction to ByWays route.

We climbed over the White River mountain range, and passed over our first 10,000 foot peak, one of many. We motored hard to make up time so we could get into Meeker with out keeping our riding partners waiting long. And rolled in about 45 minutes behind schedule.

We had our initial meet & greet- topped up on fuel, grabbed a quick snack and headed out for our first ride together. I was also pretty happy with the pace and skill level of our new riding partners- seems we were all well pretty well matched and kept a great pace in the first few sections, considering we were riding loaded down LC8's.

Notable Saves: We all took turns leading a few sections that first afternoon, and at one point I took the lead after a brief stop. I liberally applied excessive throttle to pick up the pace a little and have some fun evaluating my new 908RR rear knobbie- till a sharp left turn introduced itself to me- accompanied by a deep sand berm. As the front wheel started to plow into the deep sand- the thought quickly passed through my head, " hows this going to look on the first day- when the rest of the guys come around the corner and find a KTM yard sale and me upside down in the tumble weeds" Only as a stroke of luck- I had throttle left- I applied all of it- and moto'd out of that slide and shot out upright and got pointed in the right direction, like I actually meant to do that....

Off to Echo Canyon for our first night out...
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Old 10-28-2013, 07:06 PM   #22
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Super cool Dave!!!! i have been wondering how your trip went.
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Old 10-28-2013, 07:45 PM   #23
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Some great photos in there boys.
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Old 10-29-2013, 07:13 AM   #24
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Super cool Dave!!!! i have been wondering how your trip went.
Hi Pete,

As you will see, we had a really great time. I received your message while we were riding - sorry I didn't get back to you.

Dave
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Old 10-29-2013, 09:56 AM   #25
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Day 4

DAY 4: Simpson Springs, UT – Wendover, NV
260 MILES

At around 4.30am I was rudely awoken by the incessant sounds of Phil wandering around the camp making as much noise as possible. He proceeded to pack up his tent and then set it up again three times. In my best Charlie Boorman impression I yelled out: “Hey, I’m trying to have a wank over here”. I heard him chuckle as he continued to make enough noise to wake people in California. Oh well, time to get up. I made us both some coffee and we watched the sun come up. Phil was apparently eager to get the day started.





Our packing this morning included a bit of bike maintenance – chains cleaned, oiled and adjusted. Fluid levels checked and topped up if necessary. Stan noticed that he had a slight leak in one of his fork seals. We tried to clean it out with a seal saver and he was hoping that the leak was caused by a bit of debris. The funny thing about getting up early – we still didn’t hit the road until 9.15am.

We set off riding west through the vast open valleys that make up western UT. Again, our pace was quick and highways speeds were the norm.




We wound our way up and around some fun mountain passes. The terrain was very remote going from mountain pass, across huge salt flats and then back over passes. We stopped and checked out some cool old cabin ruins and I really felt the hardship that these hearty settlers must have gone through while living out here.









We knew this was going to be one of the longest stages between fuel stops, so we stopped at the remote old mining town of Gold Hill and the guys transferred all their fuel from their Roto-paxes to their main tanks. All I had to do was open up the valve on my ADV tank and I was done.





We did hit a very sandy / silty wash just before Gold Hill that woke us all up and provided some “death grip” moments. At one point we stopped on the top of a high mountain pass, and we could hear some air force jets flying around. We looked up to see what was going on and right above us we watched a drone fly over being chased by 2 fighter jets – very cool. I don’t think anyone got a picture as it happened very quickly, but we felt lucky to have seen it. It is not the sort of thing that we see every day – I suppose we should consider ourselves very fortunate for that.







The route deteriorated into a fairly rough two track meandering for about 30 miles through the desert. It was made tougher from the recent rains which had eroded the track and left deep ruts mixed with rocks. It wasn’t super technical, but it was by far the roughest section we had encountered on the Heart of the West route so far.



We kept riding until the narrow two track led us out to HWY 93A. We high fived after successfully riding the two track at a good pace with no problems. Once again, I was very appreciative of our group – everyone was a really good rider and everyone had a great attitude.

We headed north on the slab to Wendover, NV constantly watching the huge expanse of the Bonneville Salt flats to our right. We gassed up and had a quick lunch. Of course, riding in a group also means that it takes a fair amount of time to make decisions. It was around 3pm and we had finished the section of the route. To push on and camp? Or settle into our first hotel for the trip? Everyone checked the route on their GPS’ and it was decided to push on and find a bush camp somewhere on the way.

A little way out of town, we crossed the highway and rode past the Bonneville Speedway. It was pretty cool for me to see where all the land speed history had been made. For some reason, I can't seem to find any pics of this section. I think sub-consciously our location had an effect as our average speed spiked for a while.





The roads were similar to what we had ridden earlier, but the recent rains had really affected the surfaces. One minute you are flying along at 80mph, and the next you are sliding into a deep wash out full of mud hard on the anchors. Any of these obstacles could easily send you over the bars if you weren’t paying attention.

We noticed that Stan was backing off a little and remembered that he was working with now 2 blown fork seals – I was amazed that he was hitting this stuff as hard as he was. We climbed over another mountain range and stopped to watch a couple more fighter jets doing exercises. This time it was some kind of Top Gun dog fight training involving really tight manouvres and flares. Super cool.

The trail turned back to the south and at around 5.30pm we started looking for a camp. Byways had marked a campsite and Phil and I went exploring off road to try and find it. Not very enticing – very exposed, rocky. We saw a couple of buildings a couple of miles down the road, so went to check them out. From here we could see I-80. I punched in the nearest services on my GPS and was shocked to see Wendover just 4 miles away. We had just done a 70 mile loop. Oh well, back into town in search for a hotel.

Anthony had his heart set on staying in a casino. After much fluffing around we pulled into the Montego Bay Resort and Casino, got some rooms and had a much needed shower. As much as I would generally hate a place like this, I have to admit that the rooms were big and clean, and the food was good. Andrew, Anthony and I went down for a chill in the hot tubs and talked with some other guests.

We had a nice dinner and Stan decided that he was going to have to leave the group and slab it directly up to Idaho Falls to get his fork seals replaced before he does any real damage. While no-one was happy to see Stan leave, we all agreed that it was probably the only opportunity he would have in the next 4 or 5 days to get the work done. I was carrying spare fork seals but we didn’t have the tools to get the job done.

After dinner, we went back to the room, and noticed the distinct smell of funny smoke coming from the central air – so we assumed that Stan and Andrew were enjoying a private herbal indulgence next door?
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Old 10-29-2013, 10:45 AM   #26
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M8- that was the smell of your boots permeating your room ( and the hallway). Nothing coming from our room.

The last section of 2 track leading into Wendover was the highlight of the previous 300 miles of travel. This section doesnt get much traffic, so the track was somewhat over grown and hard to follow at first- then got a little more technically challenging as we progressed, and as the speeds picked up. The track snaked up & down through rocky & sandy terrain, through washes, and scrub. I really enjoyed this part, and had a great workout keeping pace with the rest of the team.

While Phil got the brunt of the mornings camping etiquette lesson, what really got everyone's attention was his disco dance style of counter balancing on his bike through some of the technical sections. It sure was entertaining to watch- and I am sure Tony Manero would have been jealous of those moves.

As we passed through those massive basins, and into the 2 track towards Wendover, we also noticed that about every 400-500 yards a fairly fresh pile of manure was dropped on the trail. Since we had experienced such great guidance with the route and found each of our campsites stocked with firewood- we only assumed that ByWays had also left virtual road-apple tracks to follow the route by. No GPS needed. I really have to hand it to Tony Hugle- that guy not only plans great routes, but his service and support is off the charts.
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Old 10-29-2013, 11:45 AM   #27
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While Phil got the brunt of the mornings camping etiquette lesson

I could never really rationalize why there was so much ill feeling mustered over a couple of minutes 'lost sleep'. However, the pic David posted of our apparently happy couple allegedly holding hands possibly puts things in a little better perspective...




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After dinner, we went back to the room, and noticed the distinct smell of funny smoke coming from the central air – so we assumed that Stan and Andrew were enjoying a private herbal indulgence next door?

David, I'm guessing it was incense...


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what really got everyone's attention was his disco dance style of counter balancing on his bike through some of the technical sections. It sure was entertaining to watch- and I am sure Tony Manero would have been jealous of those moves.
Andrew, I'm certainly surprised that you of all people would bring up the delicate subject of dancing. And, although alluding to an early John Travolta character was clever, on the evidence I've seen, it would appear blatantly obvious that you're more of a Grease fan than Saturday Night Fever aficionado. However, I feel I must refrain from further comment on very our own Danny Zuko - and his would-be partner, Olga Newton Johnski - until we get to Jackson Hole.



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Old 10-29-2013, 01:34 PM   #28
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As the front wheel started to plow into the deep sand- the thought quickly passed through my head, " hows this going to look on the first day- when the rest of the guys come around the corner and find a KTM yard sale and me upside down in the tumble weeds"
Somehow that sounds oddly familiar, but without the save. Nice move!
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Old 10-29-2013, 02:17 PM   #29
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Somehow that sounds oddly familiar, but without the save. Nice move!
Thanks- I was showing off a little as I pinned it through that section, and since it was my first go at leading the group, I sure would have felt like the swapped end of a mule had I crashed. All good though-
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Old 10-29-2013, 04:01 PM   #30
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.
Phil don't you have some pics of that section?
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