Author Topic: Heading East Out West: (Report Complete with Map & Summary)  (Read 4699 times)

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Offline WANDRNG

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Heading East Out West: (Report Complete with Map & Summary)
« on: October 19, 2016, 01:08:30 am »
A 3912 mile, 11 day adventure that started with the SW Regional "Red Rock 'n Rally II" and included 5 western states in two directions, 8 National Parks plus 1 cool State P, deserts, mountain ranges, canyons, dirt roads, trains, rains, snow, deer, relatives, town from my childhood,  good meals, bad meals, cattle, late night rides, more than a couple pucker moments, a large mapfull of awesome roads and a bucket of new memories.

Sorry about the long load time - there's a lot of photos


Hope someone enjoys the report, or at least tolerates it.

Day 1 - Central Valley CA to Tonopah NV - Yosemite, Eastern Hwy 120, Nevada

Day 2 - Tonopah NV to Cedar City UT - Extraterrestrial Highway, gas search, Red Rock 'n Rally II starts

Day 3 - Red Rock 'n Rally II - Hwy 14, Cedar Breaks NP, Panguitch, Loop + Ttre kickin', food eatin', story telllin'

Day 4 - Zion NP, Bryce NP, the amazing Hwy 12 to Torrey and Hanksville

Day 5 - Canyonlands NP, Dead Horse Point, Arches NP

Day 6 - Colorado border,Hwy 145, trains and Durango

Day 7 - Million Dollar Hwy, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Monarch Pass

Day 8 - Pine Valley Rd, Deckers, dirt roads and family

Day 9 - Heavy rain, 31 degrees, Steamboat, McDonalds, Dinosaur

Day 10 - Rain, Snow, Wind, Wyoming, Logan, a Deer & an 18 wheeler

Day 11 - Daylight damage inspection, super slab to home and the adventure is over


« Last Edit: November 14, 2016, 05:51:57 pm by WANDRNG »

Life is too short to live the same day twice.
2015 Concours 14 -- 2007 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2003 Honda Magna 750 -- 2 V65 Magnas
Wandering Back Roads: RRs -- Wandering the Northwest -- Heading East Out West

Offline WANDRNG

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DAY 1

PanAm52 and I rode together for the first few days. We met up just outside of town, shook hands and immediately headed east. The starting roads and passes were familiar to us; 132 up in to the Sierra foothills connecting up to Hwy 120 through Yosemite. Being familiar doesn't make them any less spectacular. It doesn't matter how many times you take Tioga Pass through Yosemite, the wonders and beauty are still amazing. Can't ask for a better start to our eastbound adventure.

Hey - Lake McClure has some water in it!


Tioga Pass through Yosemite (we skipped the ridiculously crowded 120 overlook with a view of HalfDome)



On the down slope from Yosemite, we stopped for lunch at the Whoa Nellie Deli, a renowned tasty little food place built into a Mobil station. It's very popular with YNP employees and visitors alike. From here, we would continue east on Hwy 120, a section of road I've not ridden before.<BR>
Whoa Nellie Deli : If you haven't tried it - do. Amazingly highly rated.
The Route To Whoa Nellie Deli

It starts with lots of lovely curves through high chaparral environment of small pines and open spaces. Compared to the traffic of Yosemite this road feels abandoned. It gently leads us to a long horizontally straight road that turns out to be nothing but a stretch of huge elongated whoop-Dee-doos. A constant peaking of a hill with you wondering what's on the other side. Even though you "know" it's long and straight, your brain is shouting, as you reach the top of every whoop, "what the hell is on the other side, what's over the ridge". When you can see again, you feel a sense of relief. Then you start the process again. Great stretch of road - recommended.



The Whoops finally give way to open flatter scenery as you drop into Benton CA. Jumpimg onto Hwy 6 northbound, we now thread our way through huge open valleys bordered by ridges and small mountains. Within a few mintues we leave California  and crossover to the open arid areas of Nevada and it's long straight stretches.
Curves and Whoop Dee Doos

We simply enjoy the lonely openess of Nevada. Time passes quickly as me make great time and arrive in Tonopah NV for some dinner and lazy night at the Tonopah Station Casino. They let you roll dice to see if your room is free for the night. No joy for the COG travelrs on this trip. Couple of good meals and some evening beverages and PanAm52 and I were ready to head out the next morning.
Tonopah Station Hotel and Casino
CA to Tonopah, NV - the full day

Life is too short to live the same day twice.
2015 Concours 14 -- 2007 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2003 Honda Magna 750 -- 2 V65 Magnas
Wandering Back Roads: RRs -- Wandering the Northwest -- Heading East Out West

Offline WANDRNG

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DAY 2

In the AM, we topped up the tanks with as much go juice as possible. We had heard mixed answers about how far to the next available life blood for the bikes, between 180 to 240 miles. My C14 tank leaving me a little more concerned than PanAm52's C10 reservoir sized fuel storage. If it was 240, I was in trouble.



We headed out Neveada's Hwy 6, and it's exactly how you picture much of Nevada's climate and scenery. Warm and dry (if dry can describe a scenery). Looonngg straits with an occasional easy curve to change your direction on the compass. Then a brief set of turns to get you through or around a small eruptions of dirt and rock we could call a mountain and then back to the long straits. It's beautiful and lonely out there. Not far out of Tonopah we came across a sign that said "Next Gas 185 Miles".

Soon we arrived out our next junction, leaving Hwy 6 for the infamous Nevada State Highway 375 also known as the Extraterrestrial Highway. PanAM and I stopped at the junction for a quick break.  The question came up, "So does the 185 miles to gas mean only along Hwy 6 - could it be farther now that we are on ET Hwy?" Huh.

A few miles farther down the ET the sign said "Next Gas 155 Miles" and I already had 49 miles on the odometer. Huh.



Along both Hwy 6 and now especially ET Hwy, the repeating environment is that you pass through a narrow band of mountains then follow a long strait down into a shallow basin then slowly gain altitude on the ridiculously strait road climbing out the other side of the basin into the next band out rocky, hilly mountains. A sign at the beginning of very trip down into the basin states, "Warning - low flying aricraft". I mean, we are near Area 51 and the Extraterrestrial Highway. One of the few big disappointments of this trip is that in the four or five basins with aircraft warnings we traveresed, I never saw a plane; not a fighter, not a Blackbird, not a UFO, nothing stealth, not even a Cessna or Ultralight. Nothing.

We cruised on past Rachel and the road south to Area 51 and thought about an off-road side adventure, but I don't have a radiator protector on the C14 so I wussed.



We got to Crystal Springs at the junction of 375, 318 and 93. No fuel to be had. I was at 155 miles. Caliente NV was another 45 and we weren't sure it had the refined liquid gold we needed. If it didn't, that's where my trip would find a great big pause.

Caliente NV has a Sinclair gas station. It was 197 miles from the Tonopah gas station to the Caliente station. The Low Fuel warning was having coniption fits from a few miles past Crystal Springs to Caliente. But we got there. Rested for a bit and chowed down at J&J Fast Food Restaurant - pretty good - if you're ever in Caliente NV...



A little farther up the 93 we hooked a right onto 319 wihich tooks us over the border into Utah and we followed it right into Cedar City and the Stafford Court Hotel for the Red Rock 'n Rally II, Southwest Regional.
Tonopah to Caliente to Cedar City

We arrived to a smattering of COGgers hanging out in the Rally Central parking lot.  Social time had started.  As everyone got checked in and unpacked they began to gather around the pool.  It was time for old friends to catch up and new friends to get to know each other.  Some even cleaned up their bikes at the hotel provided wash station.  We all slowly divided up and headed out for food and beverage tasting in various places. It was an early night.

Life is too short to live the same day twice.
2015 Concours 14 -- 2007 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2003 Honda Magna 750 -- 2 V65 Magnas
Wandering Back Roads: RRs -- Wandering the Northwest -- Heading East Out West

Offline Old Man on a Connie

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Offline WANDRNG

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DAY 3

By the time I got moving the next morning, 90% of the COGgers attending the CCRRRII were already out on adventures.  Happens to me a lot.  I headed out of Cedar City on Hwy 14 and took a left onto Hwy 148 to get to Cedar Breaks National Park. One look at Cedar Breaks and you pretty much knew where the Red Rock part of Red Rock 'n Rally comes from. The canyons, washes, formations and spires of the NP were beautiful and inspirational. Don't miss the views in Cedar Breaks.





It was a great time of year as many of the trees and foliage were starting to turn as the fall set in. The the bursts and variety of color were astounding.



When I reached Hwy 143 I headed east. At Panaguith Lake I made a little detour and followed the small lanes around the lake, looking at the homes and views in this small resort area. They ranged from modern mansions to 100 year old falling apart log cabins. Nice place to hang out.




I then followed highway 143 through the mountains and beautiful forests on a fun road with lots of sweeps to the town of Panquitch. I stopped at a couple of antique and collectibles stores. My favorite, Cowboy Collectibles, had a ton of truly old stuff. Guns, belt buckles, spurs, eating utensils, holsters, horse tackle and so much more that was obviously old and original. They also had lots of knick knacks and more modern country life stuff. Something for everybody. I just like to look though.



Headed out of Panguich down 89,  past the road to Bryce - Hwy 12,  to Hwy 14 and headed west back toward Cedar City. After getting most the the way back to Cedar City on this fun and scenic road, I felt like I wanted to keep riding but there weren't many Connie options from were I was. So, I turned around and road the 14 in the opposite direction. Then I turned around and road it the back towards Cedar City again.

Some strung together chunks of video from the days riding. Sorry about the music. All you can hear on the original is wind noise cause I can't have a remote mic, so music seemed better than nothing.


Like I said, it was a fun road. (And the last time, I sat by the side of the road and waited for a long gap between two vehicles - a car passed, it was almost 7 minutes before the next card came around the corner heading for me - so I jumped out ahead and got to ride the best portion of 14 in a slightly more spirited pace before catching up to the cage).
My CCRRRII Saturday Loop




Back at the Southwest Regional rally food fest in Cedar City, we enjoyed the tasty catering of Ray's Ductch Oven. As we shoveled in the chow, Mark our AD told some stories, shared some info and gave away some stuff. Then the tire kicking, story telling and general socializing started.  The pool, as usual in SW stuff, was the gathering point.





Life is too short to live the same day twice.
2015 Concours 14 -- 2007 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2003 Honda Magna 750 -- 2 V65 Magnas
Wandering Back Roads: RRs -- Wandering the Northwest -- Heading East Out West

Offline Sailor_chic

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Re: Heading East Out West: (Day 3 posted CCRRII ride and festivities)
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2016, 09:44:30 pm »
Great ride report! Awesome write up. Wish I was there. I need to find a reason to move west.
Nicole     Port St Lucie, FL.
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Offline WANDRNG

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Re: Heading East Out West: (Day 3 posted CCRRII ride and festivities)
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2016, 03:31:47 pm »
Great ride report! Awesome write up. Wish I was there. I need to find a reason to move west.
Thanks. It's long winded as usual, but helps me remember the trip ;D

You where there, I saw it on Spot! You experienced a lot of the west this summer on your epic rides, without even moving here. You talking about riding the Million Dollar Hwy in CO was part of the instigator for me to turn the 3 day CCRRRII  SW Regional into a longer more expansive trip. I made Colorado's Hwy 550 a major destination and it was worth it (coming up in the Day 7 part of the report)

Life is too short to live the same day twice.
2015 Concours 14 -- 2007 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2003 Honda Magna 750 -- 2 V65 Magnas
Wandering Back Roads: RRs -- Wandering the Northwest -- Heading East Out West

Offline WANDRNG

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Re: Heading East Out West: (Day 3 posted CCRRII ride and festivities)
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2016, 07:14:54 pm »
DAY 4 -  Zion, Bryce and Hwy 12 to Torrey

Once again, in the morning, by the time I struggled out of my room, 90% of the COGgers were gone and on there way home. Said goodbye to a few stragglers as well as AD Mark and the Counterweight. PanAm52 had bailed earlier that AM heading back to our origins via the faster slab method as opposed to our original backroads ride out.

So it is decision time. Head home or keep heading east for a very losely planned (seriously the plan was - "I think I'll go east") adventure.  No brainer, east I go!

Okay, so east is a general concept since my actual riding was going to be southward to get to Zion National Park - my first destination. As it turns out, I stopped at Kolob Canyons first, which I believe is a part of Zion. Just as beautiful and impressive as Cedar Breaks, Kolob was a good first stop on the trip. Continued on to Zion NP proper.



Zion NP is not the Zion of my youth. In college a group of us photographer types took off for a weekend in Zion that was amazing and gorgeous and fun and remote. Hardly anyone about, you could walk and hike anywhere, many roads were still dirt and you could drive to within half a mile of the Narrows.
Zion is now Disneyland (much like the south Grand Canyon was for me last year). People EVERY where, huge amounts of infrastructure, 90% of the park can only be accessed by Tram, full jammed parking lots where you catch said tram and did I mention people everywhere. I wound out seeing the 10% of Zion you can see from Hwy 9 as it passes through the NP itself.  Because of time and other reasons I can't wait in line for tram and make 15 stops prior to tootling up the road to the Narrows, hiking to take a quick look there, and then heading back out. (and Springdale, the town you pass thought before entering Zion itself - now an expensive resort city with expensive hotels, shopping and hig end restaurants).



Rant: I pulled into a tiny parking turnout along the switchbacks of Hwy 9 in the park that was currently empty or cars. Hoped to get a few pics and views without other people in them. Two minutes later a bus pulled in behind me (with his a$$ hanging out in the road) , within two feet of the back of my bike and disgorges his load of Italians (they were speaking Italian). I'm suddenly surrounded, people are now blocking my shots; are bumping/rocking my motorcycle; shooting pics of Zion with me (and other strangers) standing in their foreground. WTH, I'm outta here. Famous last thoughts.

Right then another bus pulls in, next to the original bus, literally double parking with half of the bus still in Hwy 9 causing traffic issues. He pulls all the way forward till his front end nearly touches the small rock wall lining this tiny little turnout. And now I'm am blocked; trapped; held hostage in this little turnout that would be lucky to fit three full size cars. M...F...

Japanese tourists begin to spill forth from the buses gaping mouth. It's like it's vomiting tourists.  The masses of tourists are just oozing everywhere. Bumping me, bumping each other, standing in each others shots, wandering onto Hwy 9 and blocking more traffic, dumping coffees on the ground (not the cup at least) and half aren't even looking at Zion, it's just a chance to get off the bus. When a woman being photographed finally backs into my motorcycle following the shooters commands and knocks my camera resting on the seat off the bike which I manage to leap over and catch about 5 inches off the ground - I've had enough.  I yell, though the helmet I just put on, "Are you F.. kidding me?" to no one in particular. Start the Concours, move slowly through the crowd that divides fairly quickly in terror as I move through them with an engine rev or pathetic horn honk now and then. When I get to the front of the second bus with it's maw still gaping open and idiot driver still sitting in the drivers seat. I yell into the echoing void, "Back up". He kinda grins and shrugs. I yell, "Back up or I'll show a Ranger photos of you parked blocking Hwy 9 and causing traffic problems." He glares at me. I wait him out. He closes the door and backs up about three feet so I can pass out of this darn turnout. A$$hats. Rant over





What you can see of Zion is still pretty. You just have to view it from between other peoples heads (<exaggeration, a little).

After the Zion fiasco, I almost changed my mind, but I decided I'd move on to Bryce National Park as the next step in my "plan" for the day. (And I promise no more rants about people in the NPs)

It's only about 70 miles from the eastern exit of Zion to the entrance to Bryce. Along that trip I stopped for lunch at a traditional German bakery, Forscher ( http://www.forscherbakery.com  ) . Very tasty. Tried a couple of breads, rolls and desserts. Worth it.



Bryce National Park basically is another of beautiful red rock formations, ridges and cliffs. You would think it gets old after 4 national parks, and on paper they probably do, but live in person they are just so impressive you can't help but enjoy them. Bryce mainly consists of a major 19 mile road on the upper ridge of the canyon and park. It takes you from one end of the park to the other (north/south) with 10 or so turn offs leading to parking and viewing areas. The first six were filled and closed to new visitors. So I went all the way to the end and worked my way back towards the entrance as they slowly emptied. Bryce is beautiful, but you basically look at it from a distance, looking down from the top.





Upon emerging back out of Bryce, it was pretty late in the day. Figured I had 2 maybe 2.5 hours of daylight left, so I needed to decide on a direction and where I might sleep the night away. Since I wanted to make Canyonlands the next day I decided further east with a northerly slant was the best logistical option. I chose to head for Torrey UT along Hwy 12 about 2.5 hours away. Mainly because I heard Hwy 12 was great ride.

Hwy 12 is simply amazing. Stunning scenery ranging from open desert, to mountain roads, to canyons following creek beds and open range land all traversed by winding roads with sweeps, twists and altitude changes. In the waning light, the beauty of the streaking light and contrast of the shadows made everything more eerie and dramatic. I knew time was tight, so I didn't stop to take photos - one of many big mistakes on this trip.
Hwy 12 Bryce to Torrey

https://youtu.be/eDBdhQmr3o4

This section

As the day wore on, I stopped in both Escalante and Boulder to see about lodging. The couple of places I stopped in each town were full up so without checking them all I decide to head to the next town.

As I road Hwy 12, north of Boulder, in the twilight of the day the curves got a little sharper and a little blinder. While much of the earlier part of this road is "Open Range" it wasn't until now, as darkness set that I started to meet up with cows on the side and middle of the road. That can provide some true pucker moments even if you aren't racing along.  No real close calls but... I finally arrived in Torrey, UT in full darkness.

https://youtu.be/40cCsh50O14
Oh look, cute little cows

You're thinking Day 4 ends here, but it doesn't.

I proceeded to look for some lodging in Torrey. Uhm, yeah. Torrey has like 2 of everything; gas station, restaurants, mercantile, tourist shops. Except it has like 15 hotels from 1 to 5 stars, 3 large RV parks, cabin rentals, campgrounds and bed & breakfasts. Every single one was occupied. Every hotel room, cabin, b&b room, teepee, tent, RV space, tent space was occupied. The town and general vicinity of Torrey was sold out. I even offered to pay for spending the night in a deck chair by the pool at a couple places with a "nope" answer. I even checked the $600 a night place.

A couple of miles north of Torrey is a grouping of the hotels. They were a couple of the last places I checked in my search. I pulled into the lot between two of the places. As I was removing my helmet and gloves to go in and ask the futile question, two cars pulled in almost together. The guy from one and woman from the other stepped out, looked at each other, then looked at me, then both took off running for the hotel door. They literally ran into each other trying to get through the door. Guess I wasn't the only one  having trouble finding last minute lodging. Some random guy hanging around the hotel then walked up in his pajama's (seriously), and say's "hey, if you want a place to sleep, you can come up to my place. It's kinda small cabin up the road a bit I rent from a lady, but I'll share with you as long as she don't know." We all left disappointed.

According to locals, my best bets were back to Boulder (which I figured was full too), Salina or Redmond (northeast away from Canyonlands) or the major roads up and over to Green River (on the way to Canyonlands). So of course I decided to ride the open range, deer infested desert Hwy 24 through Capitol Reef National Park through Hanksville up to Green River that they all expressly said, "I wouldn't do that, dude."
The Bad Way at night



I stopped at the mercantile looking for warm coverings for emergency sleeping (as I brought no camping gear). My choices were a $20 sleeping bag for $75 or an emergency silver lined warming "blanket" that fits in a 4x3x.75 inch box and sells for $2.75. I spent the $5.50 and grabbed two of the emergency blankets, figuring if I get tired I can find a picnic table of something to camp on.

What I could see of the Capitol Reef NP in the very dark of the night seemed beautiful. I didn't wind out counting Capitol Reef in my NP count though. I never really did get sleepy, mainly because my adrenaline was spiked because of all the frickin deer and cows I came upon, suddenly appearing in my headlights. For crimeny sake, find some place to eat that isn't in the middle of the one damn road in the whole damn park!



Shortly after passing out of the other side of the NP I came across a building, all lit up, just off the road. Turned out to be a Rodeway Inn. As I blew past I saw people packing their car up. Huh. So I missed a couple more deer, navigated a u-turn around an nice bovine family and went back to the Rodeway. When I pulled up a lady stepped out of her unit and said "Hi, I'm the manager, looking for a room?" Deep sigh a and feeling of relief, "Absolutely yes! What do ya need?". She kinda frowns, "Well they are $260 a night." My head screams WTF, it's a glorified Motel 6. But she continues on, "but I just rented the last room." I just kind of look at her, glance at the guy packing luggage into his car and family coming down the stairs. She notices and says, "Oh, they came in and said they had an emergency and needed to leave. That guy over there in the SUV pulled in while I was talking to them and immediately took their place." I couldn't help but release a slightly amused sigh/snort. Then she said, "Why I asked, is my friend in  Hanksville called and said he had 1 room left in his Mom & Pop place in Hanksville, the Hanksville Inn, for $80 - interested?" Me, "Oh yes, Please, Thank you." She took me into the office, called him and reserved the room. After many thanks and a big hug from me, I suited up and headed out with her last words in my head, "Have a good night, ride safe, there are a lot of deer out there."  Don't I know it.

20 miles later I arrived at the truly old school motel, the Hanksville Inn. The sheets were clean,  the water warm and wifi fast. I was asking for nothing more.

 Both literally my longest travel day and I'm guessing the longest write up day too.
 The full days route

That is FINALLY the end of Day 4

Life is too short to live the same day twice.
2015 Concours 14 -- 2007 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2003 Honda Magna 750 -- 2 V65 Magnas
Wandering Back Roads: RRs -- Wandering the Northwest -- Heading East Out West

Offline FTB530

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Re: Heading East Out West: (Day 4 posted Zion, Bryce, Hwy12 to Torrey)
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2016, 07:33:12 pm »
All of it sounds fun to me, except the deer and cows!

Offline Old Man on a Connie

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Re: Heading East Out West: (Day 4 posted Zion, Bryce, Hwy12 to Torrey)
« Reply #9 on: October 21, 2016, 01:37:38 am »
Geezum Crow. Why do I always miss the fun stuff?
"I don't always ride street bikes, but when I do, It's a Concours. A C14 '11 silver to be precise." OTP 2017 We gonna dance! Danke Schoen

Offline Smitty

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Re: Heading East Out West: (Day 4 posted Zion, Bryce, Hwy12 to Torrey)
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2016, 04:39:08 pm »
Great trip report!  Sounds like a great adventure.   :great:
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Offline WANDRNG

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Re: Heading East Out West: (Day 4 posted Zion, Bryce, Hwy12 to Torrey)
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2016, 08:32:44 pm »
DAY 5 - Canyonlands NP, Dead Horse, Arches NP

Up early the next morning, I headed out of the Hanksville Inn heading north on Hwy 24. Slept like a baby.


One of the amazing things I find about Utah, is that along even the straightest most boring of roads, there is cool scenery to look at along the way. I thought about stopping at Goblin State Park and visiting Temple Mountain along Hwy 24 cause they looked so awesome. But if I stopped for every interesting thing in Utah I'd be there forever.

 

By late morning, riding some major freeway time, I'd made it to Canyonlands National Park. Far less crowded and more remote, it's just as beautiful and inspiring. I rode to many of the major viewing areas and gather in the sights, sounds and smells of the visually stunning canyons and formations. You can walk right to the edges, nothing between you and the bottom of the canyon but a long steep fall. Just the way a natural park should be. I enjoyed the quiet openness.




Looking down into the canyons, you could see a few dirt trails and fire roads and in a few places follow them up the side of a canyon wall. These are times I wish I was on my KLR instead of the super sport touring bike. I envied the mountain bikers enjoying the trails. I rarely envy a bicyclist. After a couple of hours enjoying the views and vistas I headed back towards civilization.




Along the road to Canyonlands is the turn off for a Utah state park called Dead Horse Point. I have a few vivid memories of the visit my family made to Dead Horse Point when I was a kid. I've been looking forward  to this stop on my eastbound adventure.



Dead Horse Point is much as I remember it. Barren and rocky with steep cliffs on all sides. Less traveled and croweded than even Canyonlands, you can get a sense of being alone at DHP. Watching the Colorado glide along far down along the twists and turns of the canyons. Seeing an walking the 20 foot wide "neck"  that served as the "gate" for the horses once they passed it helps you understand about Dead Horse Point. If you get the chance stop here.



It was getting later in the day, so I headed back out to Hwy 191 and turned south towards Arches National Park and the city of Moab. I decided to run in to Moab find a place to stay the night, have an early dinner at a good restaurant and visit Arches in the morning. Yea, nope. It was Torrey all over again.

Hotels.com, priceline, kayak, booking, expedia, orbitz; every online booker I could think of offered NO hotels. Even the $600 rooms were sold out. I stopped at least 20 hotels. Every one booked 100%. The people working the desks all calling other hotels unable to find rooms for anyone, any where - everyone helpful but apologetic. All RV, cabin, teepee and camping sites 100% full. Then I got lucky, I was standing in the KOA 10 minutes south of Moab talking to a clerk when another clerk took a cancellation for a cabin. They both looked at me, I said "Sure, how much." $269 with no heat, no AC, no running water, can't park the motorcycle near it and a 50 yard walk to the bathroom. I couldn't do it. I hopped on priceline and booked a Motel 6 room in Green River for $59 (heat, ac, bathroom and parking out my front window), 1 hour back north up the 191.

Who knew that September and 1st 2 weeks of October are busier then the summer months. The empty nesters (my age, go figure) and foreign tourists prefer this time cause there aren't any kids around, college and lower. Well, at least I now understand the logic.

So I had about 2 hours of daylight left, so I headed straight for Arches. No line to get in to the National Park. A nice ranger lady in the visitor center showed me a couple of the best spots for sunsets and off I went. Arches National Park is a pretty cool place. Obviously, this NP is all about the arches and rock formations. When I visited hear as a kid (same summer but different trip as the DHP visit) the roads were almost all dirt and you often had long likes to see the arches and formations. Now they have paved roads to within a couple of hundred yards of many of the major attractions. That has it's good points and bad points. I'm sure you can figure them out.



There were many cars leaving as I decided to head over to Garden of Eden, the Window Arches and Double Arch for sunset watching. No word applies better than stunning.



Climbers in the Garden of Eden at twilight.



https://youtu.be/GFbtqfNZ-bI


https://youtu.be/OTdJ6Mp4F3A


After the sun went down I left Arches, went the 7 miles to Moab to do laundry, then road the 45+ minutes north to the Green River Motel 6.
Full days route






Life is too short to live the same day twice.
2015 Concours 14 -- 2007 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2003 Honda Magna 750 -- 2 V65 Magnas
Wandering Back Roads: RRs -- Wandering the Northwest -- Heading East Out West

Offline WANDRNG

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Re: Heading East Out West: (Day 5 posted CAnyonlands, Dead Horse, Arches)
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2016, 12:25:26 pm »
DAY 6 - Colorado Border, Fall Colors, Trains and Durango

Woke up to cloud cover toady.

Back to Arches National Park to see the rest of the stuff close to paved roads. The line at the gate at 9AM when I arrived was probably 100 cars long, quite a contrast from last evenings no line. Oh well, I took my place in the parade. Suddenly the line started moving quicker, but the gate was slow as ever. Then I noticed rangers were letting about every third car take a cutoff off the main road into the authorized only area. It started about sixty cars from the front. They were letting people with almost any type of pass, skip the gate and enter through ranger areas. My annual pass counted. I was in. Way to go NP employees.




I rode each major stopping or viewing area. Did a little hiking without leaving the bike unattended for to long. I got to see many of the formations and beauty I saw as a kid. It was a nice visit to a very cool NP.



I road into Moab by lunch and had a great meal at a breakfast/lunch place in the "downtown" area. I thought it was time to leave Utah and head for Colorado. I decided my target for day 6 would be Durango CO. A number of people I talked with in Moab and Arches recommended Hwy 46 as a better motorcycle road for the crossing over to Colorado than the more common 191 to 461 to 160 combo. I decided to trust them. I was in no rush and looking for fun riding roads as opposed to the quickest way to Durango.

Utah Hwy 46 transitioned me over 30 miles from the rock and formations of Utah to the pine trees and lusher mountains of Colorado's Rockies. A road full of fun sweeps and twists (still my favorite type) and no traffic. When you cross the border into Colorado, two things immediately happen, the road changes to Colorado State Route 90 and the speed limit drops by 15 miles per hour. I'm thinking, "Wow, this must be a really twisty road, yeehaw!" But nope, exactly the same sweeps and twists level as the Utah side, just with a lower speed limit. This turns out to be foreshadowing for two things, CO speed limits are dumb and slow, and 2, CO drivers are generally dumb and slow. No offense. Ahh, who am I kidding, if you are offended tough, cause it's the truth.

 


CO SR 90 continues east, through some beautiful mountain range surround farm valleys. It looks to be idyllic living (except for the ridiculous speed limits of course, even California isn't this bad). The colors of fall are just starting to show. Small bursts of color here and there is a sea of dark green. It feels remote and cozy at the same time. 90 leads into Naurita where you combine with 141 and then eventually switch to Hwy145 south. You pass through more ridges and valleys than you even change roads. You crest over to constantly see new views and valleys.


Video cover this section of road

Hwy 145 follows a southwest path, running across mountain ridges and deep canyons. It passes the famous Telluride as it basically takes me back west. But the extra miles and roundabout flow is more than worth it for the great motorcycle riding and lush and lovely scenery. It was getting a little chilly and there were even a few drops of light rain. This turns out to be foreshadowing too.


     

Hwy 145 eventually took me through Dolores CO (just north of Cortez, a familiar rally spot for many of you) where I hoped on 184 south to Mancos and then through lower mountains and farmland on Hwy 150 into Durango.



I made Durango in the waning light of the day. I found my hotel, the Iron Horse Inn, to be at the very northern edge of the town. Nice place each room being two stories with a bed up in the second story loft as well as the main floor. The view out the windows was pretty nice scene ouf pastureland at the base of a mountain. Sure beat the GR Motel 6.

Then I heard some odd noises after unloading the bike. A weird huffing, what sounded like a steam release and then, a whistle? I walked back out and noticed the train track for the first time and looked up the track and sure enough here came a train. But not any ol' train, a steam engine pulling cars full of tourists all waving at me like maniacs. I stood there in my motorcycle regalia waving back, along with some kids and other folks that came out of their rooms. My front door and panorama windows were 30 yards from the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. How cool is that?!?  (they do stop running at night and don't run till later in the morning, so...)




I headed into town to find some grub. Durango is a pretty nice little berg with what appears to be a big tourist crowd and the restaurants to handle them. I explored back in to downtown. I had a hard time choosing. In the end I picked a local pizza place back up closer to my hotel called, Home Slice Pizza. The place was nearly empty, only the tables near the the indo0r and outdoor fireplaces were occupied. As I looked at the wall menu and contemplated my turn at the order window, the bartender from the full bar says "I can take your order here too. Can I get you a drink?"  I looked over the very well stocked full bar and took a seat. From the lovely and pleasant Kate I ordered an Angels Envy bourbon with 1 large ice cube which I took my time to savor while talking with her about the uncommonly sparse crowd, Durango and awesomely enough, motorcycles. As we got back to discussing the pizza menu I asked her to pour me another bourbon of here choosing and recommendation (a dangerous thing for a couple of reasons). She poured me Fireside Bourbon distilled in Colorado. I finally ordered a half Grandma June’s Bacon Dbl Cheeseburger (Smoked Bacon, Ground Beef, Cheddar and Mozzarella Cheeses, Homeslice BBQ Sauce (Grandma’s Favorite!)) and half Fiona Apple (Chicken Sausage, Apples and Aged Cheddar Cheese on Garlic Oil Sauce}. It was so good, but so much. I had one more Kate selected Bourbon for desert (I can't remember what it was, but Angeles Envy and Colorado's Fireside were both better). Spent another 30 minutes chatting with Kate before heading back to the hotel. I stopped at the front desk and left the half a pizza I had left over with the guy and gal working the desk. His comment was, "So cool dude. Home Slice is my fav pizza. Huge thanks." So I left them to the pizza and headed off for my snoozefest.

Full Day Route

Life is too short to live the same day twice.
2015 Concours 14 -- 2007 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2003 Honda Magna 750 -- 2 V65 Magnas
Wandering Back Roads: RRs -- Wandering the Northwest -- Heading East Out West

Offline WANDRNG

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Re: Heading East Out West: (Day 6 posted Colorado, Trains, Durango)
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2016, 05:53:42 pm »
DAY 7 - Hwy 550 / Million Dollar Hwy, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Blue Mesa, Monarch Pass

When I started this trip it was either just over to CCRRRII and home - OR - over to CCRRRII and then east. Once I chose "and east" there were only two things on the agenda with everything else being spur-of-the-moment decisions; 1) visit relatives in the Denver area (I'll get there in a day or two) and 2) ride Colorado's Highway 550, the Million Dollar Highway. And since I was in Durango, sleeping in a hotel on Hwy 550, I guess today was the day.



Unfortunately for me, I woke up to rain, wind and overcast. I took my time getting ready and packing up. By the time 10AM rolled around, the rain and wind were pretty much gone. So I hit the 550 (Million Dollar Highway being only the stretch from Ouray to about Silverton) in my weather proof jacket, blue jeans and vented summer riding boots and aimed it north. I have this bad habit of riding into weather underdressed shall we say (see Wandering the Northwest, The Not Epic Adventure / Bark at the Moon, Death Vegas for proof I do this and seem to learn no lessons).

About 5 miles up the 550 the drizzle started again but the C14 weather protection was handling it. About ten miles farther it turned into a real rain. I was getting wet despite the windshields and plastic cowls. I pulled into the first (and probably last) gas station I saw. On went the Frog Togg pants that I did bring (but hate wearing). I went in and the nice lady working at the general store counter gave me 6 small plastic bags. Two used over my socks IN my boots, 2 over my boots tied above my ankles and tucked into the Frog Togg elasticized cuffs and 2 over my insulated (and actually mostly waterproof winter riding) gloves that I do usually pack. Tada - winter riding gear.



The lower 550, before the Million Dollar stretch, is gorgeous. Beautiful scenery and road even in the stupid rain. Because of the rain and my delicate waterproof boots (I didn't want to tear the bag by walking around in them) I didn't stop much so not many pictures. The road simply snaked through the towering trees, many already changing to fall colors, regardless whether covered in needles or leaves. The startling contrasts of the dark deep greens infused with bursts of yellow, orange and red was breathtaking. I think the water and rain may have even added a glisten to the world that day. 100% enjoying myself in spite of the rain and cold.




When I crested a ridge 1/2 the way up the 550 from Durango to Ouray, laid out before me was the town of Silverton. It looked like an idyllic town created and built on a toy train set. It looked perfect. Surrounded my tall mountains cover with forest of green, the fall's colors exploding and competing with the green where foliage had started the turn. I could actually see the Durango & Silverton steam engine down there puffing, getting ready to take a load following the narrow gauge tracks back down to Durango.

Lower Hwy 550



After passing through Silverton I reached the section of 550 that gives the Million Dollar Highway its name. It was narrow, steep with switchbacks and impressive grades. I can see how it is frightening for many. I loved riding it, even in the rain. Unfortunately it's so narrow and dangerous, I wasn't about to stop in the rain and take pictures. Bummer.

Million Dollar Highway

The 550 stretch from Ouray to Montrose was beautiful but very drenched most of the way so no pics and no real memories cause I was concentrating on staying upright and on the road. About 20 miles south of Montrose I passed through the leading wall of the storm out of the heavy rain into a menacing calm directly in the storms path.  Stopped in Montrose for gas and removed my improvised wet weather gear (plastic bags). During the ride and here at the station they were the cause of a few strange looks.



Now heading east on Hwy 50, I could look to the right and see the storm chasing me. Coming over the ridges and across a open valley trying to snag me in its clutches once again. I was flying east, giving it the finger, sure I would escape its reach. Then I saw a sign on the side of the highway, "Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, turn left here" Passed it at high speed, slowed, u-turned on the highway, went back, took the turn to the NP I didn't know existed.  "Look, Squirrel!"

This is the beauty of traveling alone with no specific schedule. I can just decide to make any change; long term stop, new direction, weird destination, if I want (even if it probably means the stupid storm will catch up to me again). I'd never heard of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, but it drew me like a moth to a giant blue glowing killing box of death on someone's back deck. Bzzzzt.



So, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is simply beautiful and stunning. It's a giant deep gorge with rocky cliffs for sides and the Gunnison River flowing through the bottom. It's located in middle of large rolling hills. Your just crusin', for miles through the soft rolling hills and then suddenly you come to a vertical cliff and there is the massive drop down to the Gunnison River.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

I toured a few of the viewing areas along the southern ridgeline. I stood on the edge of the 1000 foot strait drops to the river. I took in the vistas of beauty.






And then I took a really cool little road down to the bottom to the river access point. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is as amazing looking up from the bottom and looking down from the top. I highly recommend a visit to this NP.






Coming back out out of  the BCotG NP, to my surprise I could see that the storm hadn't reached Hwy 50 yet. The race was back on. I may yet escape riding in more rain by hustling east on Hwy 50 till I could once again head north for the days recently decided final destination, Breckenridge CO.



Hwy 50 took me past the large Blue Mesa Reservoir, farm country and then up and back down a moutntain park of lushish curves, Monarch Pass.





  Monarch Pass

Finally arriving at the Hwy 285 junction where I turned north. I managed to stay ahead of the falling water and now was pretty home free on the final run to the nights hotel.

Hwy 285 took me through some lush, fertile valleys with a few sections or curvy roads. Leading me to Fairplay CO where I switch onto Hwy 9 north into the resort town of Breckenridge at dusk. Breckenridge is pretty much what you expect for an upscale, Colorado ski resort and community. I had myself a nice dinner and packed it in for the night.



Full days route

Life is too short to live the same day twice.
2015 Concours 14 -- 2007 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2003 Honda Magna 750 -- 2 V65 Magnas
Wandering Back Roads: RRs -- Wandering the Northwest -- Heading East Out West

Offline notsluggo

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Re: Heading East Out West: (Day 7 posted Million $ Hwy, Black Canyon, Monarch)
« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2016, 09:00:07 pm »
Having ridden most all of the same roads (and having better luck with hotels) I thoroughly enjoyed your write-up and pics.  Thanks!
Ride safe(r).
- notsluggo
2011 Concours 14 - The Silver Bullet!
2014 KLR650 - Kelly
Parker, CO

Offline Old Man on a Connie

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Re: Heading East Out West: (Day 7 posted Million $ Hwy, Black Canyon, Monarch)
« Reply #15 on: November 02, 2016, 11:35:59 pm »
When does the book come out? I would like to be on the advanced list please. It would look real good on my cocktail table. Next time we hook up we will cover proper gear for extended travel and packing techniques  :beerchug: :) :great:
"I don't always ride street bikes, but when I do, It's a Concours. A C14 '11 silver to be precise." OTP 2017 We gonna dance! Danke Schoen

Offline Rusty

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Re: Heading East Out West: (Day 7 posted Million $ Hwy, Black Canyon, Monarch)
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2016, 01:57:08 am »
That was a great write up! Pictures were fantastic and I have been on many of the roads and went to many of the same places too. So fun to read about your adventure! Should go in the next Concourier! Thank you for spending the time to put it all together!

 :motonoises:   :motonoises:   :great:

Offline WANDRNG

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Re: Heading East Out West: (Day 7 posted Million $ Hwy, Black Canyon, Monarch)
« Reply #17 on: November 04, 2016, 05:26:03 pm »
Having ridden most all of the same roads (and having better luck with hotels) I thoroughly enjoyed your write-up and pics.  Thanks!
Thanks. I think somehow I  make finding lodging harder and more complicated than it is each night. But Torrey was ridiculous  ;D (but riding 12 was well worth it)

When does the book come out? I would like to be on the advanced list please. It would look real good on my cocktail table. Next time we hook up we will cover proper gear for extended travel and packing techniques  :beerchug: :) :great:
And this is the shortened version. I know, talking to much and too much irrelevant (to the world) details. But I figure I need some way to remember the trip details as I get old.
I just always think in terms of California Central Valley weather - doesn't everybody have the same weather?

That was a great write up! Pictures were fantastic and I have been on many of the roads and went to many of the same places too. So fun to read about your adventure! Should go in the next Concourier! Thank you for spending the time to put it all together!
Thanks Rusty. Dan would have plenty of fun with the red pen in correcting and shortening this report to make it Concourier worthy.
I learn about a lot of great destinations and fun roads from reading other folks reports and posts here on the forum, figured I could contribute (I'm just a little more longwinded than most ;D)

Life is too short to live the same day twice.
2015 Concours 14 -- 2007 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2003 Honda Magna 750 -- 2 V65 Magnas
Wandering Back Roads: RRs -- Wandering the Northwest -- Heading East Out West

Offline WANDRNG

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Re: Heading East Out West: (Day 7 posted Million $ Hwy, Black Canyon, Monarch)
« Reply #18 on: November 04, 2016, 05:56:34 pm »
DAY 8 - Pine Valley Rd, Deckers, dirt roads and family



Today my final destination is my cousins place near Denver, but I had until 2PM before they would be home. As I was only 1.5 hours away by super slab 70 I decided I needed to find a better (read longer and curvier) path. I was looking for some smaller more remote roads to experieince. Headed south out of Breckenridge the way I came. Retraced my steps to Fairplay, where I made a left onto 285 heading northest.



Travelled through some very beautiful ranch and grazing land nestled way the heck up there in the Rockies. After a bit Hwy 285 added some curves and sweeps as I passed through the surrounding peaks. As I dropped down towards Denver on Hwy 285 I turned right and headed SouthEast on Pine Valley Rd (126), sweeps and twists carving their way amongst the pines and oaks following the path of a small but growing creek. 

http://youtu.be/x3ufvnBbaRI (Embedding disabled, limit reached)

By all the guys standing around hip deep in the flowing warter, I'm guessing this is fly fishing country. Just looked cold and wet to me. Pine Valley Road eventually brought me to the metropolis of Deckers CO. After a small break and some conversations with locals I headed north east on Hwy 67. (the word highway doesn't really apply to most of these roads.

Again, this curvy road followed a beautiful, and bigger, stream full of wading fisherman and I'm assuming some kind of fun to catch fish. The locals told me that I'd come to a junction of Hwy 67 and Road 97. They said at that point I needed to switch to North Platte River Road (97) cause if I stayed on Hwy 67 it turned to dirt for a bunch of miles. Still have no radiator guard so no dirt for me.

They said a few miles North Platte River Road I'd come across W Pine Creek Rd. (one of the few roads not associated with some number). And I did. Up ol' Road 97 I went for about 50 yards before it turned to dirt. Perfect. Ah, what the heck. It wasn't very steep and pretty well graded. But that made it oky, the rain hadn't got here yet and it wasn't mud! Turned out to only be only about 4 miles and no biggy.

http://youtu.be/mkduuoMUgBM (Embedding disabled, limit reached)

Where W Pine Creek Road connected back to Hwy 67, both arriving roads were dirt and now the continuing north bound Hwy 67 returned to blessed asphalt. I looked at a map later and W Pine Creek Rd was the better choice as the stretch of dirt 67 was far longer, far steeper and far curvier. Love my C14, but trail bike it ain't.

The dirt I rode
The dirt I avoided

Hwy 67 continued to be a nice scenic set of curves into the Denver Metro area.

I arrived at my cousin's place where I got to eat, play pirate ship with the kids and all around just got to relax and visit. One of the best parts of the trip for me, but i won't make you suffer through it.




Until tomorrows report.

Days Full Route

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2015 Concours 14 -- 2007 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2003 Honda Magna 750 -- 2 V65 Magnas
Wandering Back Roads: RRs -- Wandering the Northwest -- Heading East Out West

Offline Rusty

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Great finish to a trip! Visiting family is always good! Thank you the Road trip write up, pictures and videos!! All great!!

 :motonoises:   :motonoises:   :great:

Offline WANDRNG

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DAY 9 - I-70, 31 Degrees, Steamboat, McDonalds, Dinosaur

Early start to the day to say goodbye to the boys as they headed off to school and give my cousin a see-ya-round hug.

Rode some crowded freeways up through the burbs of Denver to reach Hwy 70 and head west. As super slabs go, I-70 west of Denver is probably one of the best (read fun to ride). Many Interstates pass through beautiful country, but I-70 has enough curves to keep it interesting as a rider.

By the time I reached Silverthorne CO the temps had dropped, so I pulled off and added some layers. The sky was bright and clear and blue and beautiful. I checked the weather app just in case and it showed no rain at all until west of Glennwood Springs, and I wasn't going that far on 70 (bet you know where this is going). So off I go again.

There is a ridgeline that separates the Silverthorne/Frisco area from Copper Mountain area. It's a gorgeous ride through canyon walls and lush meadows. As I reached the western side of said ridge, the sky had clouded over, then temps dropped yet again and in my mind it was threatenting to rain. Just couldn't see the overcast gloom from the other side of the ridge in Silverthorne.

Silverthorne to Copper Mountain

The drizzle started just past Copper Mountain Ski Resort. It started light, with rays of sunshine streaking through it. It was really quite beautiful with the grand mountains as a backdrop. It was light enough that the C14 protection was keeping me dry. That didn't last long.

By the time I reached Vail it was a fairly heavy rain, temps where down to 45 degrees and the roadspray generated by the other cars and trucks on I-70 was blinding. So it was time to pull off and put on my full rain gear again. I went into and AM/PM and the nice clerk gave me 6 brand new rain shields (those are plastic shopping bags to most people). I proceeded to apply the gear in the building's minimal overhang, sitting on a big cement garbage can, trying to stay dry while rigging my rain protection accessories.



For some reason I wasn't smart enough to get gas while stopped at this AM/PM.

I continued on I-70 eastward. The rain got heavier and the temps got colder. But the worst part was the overspray from other vehicles. That all encompassing mist, that just gets everywhere. It's like trying to see your reflection in a fogged mirror. There are shapes and colors but no definition or details. It was getting pretty tiring and dangerous. While it would still be raining pretty hard, I knew it would be easier to see off the Interstate.

When I reached the junction of I-70 and Hwy 131 I bailed off the interstate and headed north on a smaller less traveled, therefore less oversprayed, road. This was always my intended route as it would take me past Steamboat Springs and a more northerly route home. Provided I survived it.

The Remote CO Hwy 131

The rain was heavy but the visibility so much better on Hwy 131. The improvised weather gear was once again doing an admirable job. The only thing on a downward slant where the temps, 40 degrees. I had on all my available layers by this point and they were beginning to lose the battle.

I watched the temps drop, degree by degree. When it hit 32 degrees indicated, I was confused by the still present rain, shouldn't it be sleet or snow. And does that mean the water on the road should start turning into the slippery stuff? I know my blood felt like ice. The things California kids from the central valley don't know.

31 degrees. Ah, come on. It's gonna get colder? At this point there were some soft dry snow flakes mixed in with the now lighter rain. I just kept riding along pretty sure the roads wouldn't really turn to ice. First time I'd ever had my grip heatrer over 50% let alone on full.

My plan was to fuel up in Toponas at its one tiny gas station. About 15 miles out the Fuel Warning Annoyance System kicked in. Perfect, just as I planned it (except for the rain, snow, 31 degrees, etc.).

I pulled into the little two pump general store. The rain had backed off to a slight drizzle. Quick fill and I'm out of here. Wait somethings not right. No lights in the store. No product on shelves I can see. Oh Oh. Spin around, there it is, small hand written signs on the gas pumps. "Sorry, no gas. We won't be getting anymore. Next gas Oak Creek. Management." Oh come on.

Oak Creek is 20 miles down this road (and who says they haven't gone out of business too). So Fuel warning for 15 miles and 20 miles yet to go. 35 miles after the warning on a remote road in the rain and it's now 33 degrees out. I gotta quit doing this.

Made Oak Creek, getting gas, guy walks out of the store all bundled up, is about to get in his giant extended, raised, accessorified, monster pickup turns an looks at me, kinda smirks, shakes his head and says, "You're an idiot. Ride safe." The man had a point.



The rain continued while I continued up Hwy 131 to Steamboat. Pretty much through flat meadow and ranch land now. Still beautiful, but wet and cold. I'm tired of this wet and cold so I didn't stop for pics, videos, food or warmth. Steamboat looks like the ski resort town I expected it to be. I just kept going. Hello and goodbye to Steamboat Springs while still on the Concours.



I'm now heading west on Hwy 40. The temps are rising slowly and the rain is beginning to dissipate. As long as that was the trend, I was gonna stay on the road. By the time I reached Craig CO, the temps were back in the low 40's and the rain was pretty much gone and hunger was winning the battle.

The nicest McDonald's I've ever been in. This was my first fast food on this entire trip. The McDonlad's in Craig was big, nicely decorated, the kids area was separated though glass with double doors, it had padded lounge chairs arranged in conversation groupings and, wait for it, fireplaces! Yep, picked me out a lush, padded couch in front of a fireplace to degear. As I undressed in the middle of this McDonalds, a young lady employee stepped up, "Sir. You looked really cold. We thought you might like some coffee or hot chocolate." She held up two cups. I took the hot chocolate with a huge thanks and off she went. I warmed up, ate my meal, told them thanks again and headed back out to westbound Hwy 40.

Weather was now basically partly cloudy with small short fits of rain. Temps in the high 40's. Were back to doable, if not enjoyable.

Crossed back into Utah. Utah signs are great. They each reflect something local to the sign, something the area is known for. I thinks that's great. This sign reflects the reason I took this wet, northerly route, Dinosaur National Monument.



Arrived at Dinosaur NM visitor center, at the far west end of the park, about 5:30pm. They were closed at 5pm. Sigh.




Dinosaur Quarry Visitor Center

Rode in to nearby Vernal, found a place to stay and ate Subway in my room. I was exhausted and gave up early.

Days Full Route

Life is too short to live the same day twice.
2015 Concours 14 -- 2007 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2003 Honda Magna 750 -- 2 V65 Magnas
Wandering Back Roads: RRs -- Wandering the Northwest -- Heading East Out West

Offline WANDRNG

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Oooops - accidental post - removed

Life is too short to live the same day twice.
2015 Concours 14 -- 2007 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2003 Honda Magna 750 -- 2 V65 Magnas
Wandering Back Roads: RRs -- Wandering the Northwest -- Heading East Out West

Offline WANDRNG

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DAY 10 - Rain, Snow, Wind, Wyoming, Logan, a Deer & an 18 wheeler

This turned out to be a very long day that contained some of the highest highs and lowest lows of the trip for me.

Woke and went right to the weather radar. Not good. Vernal was surround by a horseshoe shaped ring cold, rain and snow. The only clear direction was back east the way I came on Hwy 40. Figures.

Headed 15 miles back to Dinosaur National Monument. At the visitor center I learned you can only go the "dig building" by tram. Skipped it (been there before), but road out on the few paved roads stretching into the park itself, which was interesting, but there were no Dinosaurs running around. I felt scammed.


 


Same 15 miles for the third time back to Vernal, where I headed north on Hwy 191. The rain started 15 miles out of town. I quickly gained altitude as I curved my way up into Ashley National Forests past Red Fleet State Park (I wanted to stop but I was tired of you know, the rain) through the red rock and dirt the area is know for.



The rain continued as I approached Red Canyon and Flaming Gorge. While it was warmer today, only in the low 40's, it started snowing. It even had a little staying power on the roadway.



I wanted to follow Hwy 191 to Flaming Gorge, but again, you know, the rain. Plus it was in the opposite direction of today's final destinations. Road 44 heading west was the choice for me. The snow disappeared soon after the switch and the rain became a light drizzle. But boy did the wind crank up, steady force with huge gusts.

Hwy 191 and Road 44 to the border



I fought the wind and gusts all the way to Manila UT after I got a glimpse of the Green River, which looked more like a lake. I crossed into Wyoming after skirting along the UT/WY border for a few miles and UT Hwy 44 changed to WY Hwy 414.



So guess what, Wyoming is beautiful and pretty empty. I cruised through the open range and farmland, bordered by various ridge and mountains for a couple of hours. Never saw many cars or trucks, but plenty of cows.



My little corner of Wyoming

Eventually I passed Fossil Butte National Monument. I wanted to stop, but I was pressed for time. I needed to make Elko NV tonight and I had a lot of long miles and one important stop left to make.

I crossed back into UT after cutting the corner across Wyoming, My next short top was Bear Lake shared by Utah and Idaho. This is a rare  high mountain lake that doesn't have steep cliff like sides. It has wide sandy and in places muddy beaches. I visited this lake many times as a kid and it's pretty much as I remember it.




My real destination and why I took this slightly out of the way Northern route was Logan UT. Highway 89 leads from Bear Lake through a mountain pass following a windy canyon down to the doorsteps of Logan. This was a fun a beautiful road that I can't recommend enough. Do it weekday mid-day to avoid the traffic.




Bear Lake to Logan - great road

Logan is nestled at the base of high peaks with half the town and Utah State University on an upper plateau. It's a gorgeous little college town with atmosphere and in amy portions still a small town feel. I lived here 4 summers in a row and then one 9 month stint through winter while my father acheived his PHD. There are just so many great memories for me in Logan.



The "Triads" where we lived with hundreds of other families attending the school. The giant cemetery that we walked through to elementary school, the stadium (highly upgraded) where we watched the July 4th fireworks, the mountain we climbed as kids (with no adult supervision) and then would climb down ropes into the air shafts of closed and boarded mines (guess they forgot the air shafts existed). This was truly a walk down memory lane. I visited many of the old places I could remember.



It also reminded me how different my childhood was different than that of the current crop of kids. My parents would have been jailed for letting us do the things we did. Glad I got to grow up then.

One thing I didn't realize as a kid was just how beautiful and picturesque Logan was, even from a distance.



Reluctantly I headed out of town, I wanted to make Elko tonight so I could get home the next day (day 11, Sunday 25). Knowing what I know now, I would have had a nice dinner in Logan and spent the night.

Rather than go through the metro area of Salt Lake City and it's surrounding suburbs and traffic, I decided to take Hwy 30 north of the Great Salt Lake, a remote, empty and rarely traveled path. My favorite. So I headed out of Logan, through Tremberton and up I-84 towards Idaho and the Hwy 30 junction near Snowville UT.


The deer, the eighteen wheeler and me.
Just past Snowville I turned off onto Hwy 30. Within the first 1/4 mile I passed the first sign that said "Open Range. Watch for cattle and deer" and then a "No Services" sign that didn't give an actual distance. Kinda weird. As I was 40 miles into a full tank I was a little concerned I was pushing my luck, this is a very remote road. I turned around to fuel up in the one station in Snowville. As I made the u-turn in the middle of the road, an 18 wheeler had exited I-84 onto Hwy 30 behind me and watched me turn around.

By the time I got the gas and ate a donut, the sun was pretty much gone and we were in the grasp of twilight. I asked myself if this was smart and maybe I should find a place to sleep. Then  I called myself a wuss and headed out Hwy 30 again; a deer and cow infested stretch of road in the middle of no where taking me basically deeper into no where. At least it wasn't raining.

Hwy 30 Snowville to Oasis

Very quickly it was like a tunnel through darkness. Brights on I could see 50 yards forward and ten feet to each side - you've all been there (before adding your aircraft landing lights to your canyon cages or under your mirrors). While the road is remote, it's pretty much straight and in pretty good shape. I cruised along near the speed limit (meaning slightly over it). I was on high alert and concentrating pretty hard on watching for those wandering animals.

The temps were dropping out here pretty quick and wearing a neck gator and everything all closed up I was breathing carefully to avoid fogging the glasses inside the visor.

I relatively quickly caught up to the truck rig that had started out on Hwy 30 as I turned around to get Snowville gas. He was right at the speed limit, so I goosed it for a quick pass and then settled back to my original 3 to 5 over. The trucker gave me a wave as I passed.

I slowly crept away from him until his lights were pinpricks in the dark night behind me. To this point I had seen no other vehicles, no buildings, no lights, no animals, just nothing out here but me and a fading 18 wheeler. But I kept my concentration up, scanning the side of the road as much as forward reach of my lights.

Suddenly, a sign that said "45 Mile Zone". Wow - something, some form of civilization. So I dropped down to 50 as I saw the next "45 Speed Limit" sign and what looked like 1 completely dark house. Vaguely I could see the outlines a few buildings ahead to the right and left, but still almost no lights. I just relaxed a bit to cruise through the speed zone for what out here was civilization. Sign says, "Park Valley UT".

There it was, jumping out from between the third and fourth darkened building. No light from the buildings to outline it. The only foliage I've seen on the whole dang road hiding it from early sight. Darting out into my headlights and stopping smack in the middle of my lane - the deer.

Quick down shift and hard on the breaks. I quickly drifted to the opposing lane in my first attempt to miss the deer that has now turned tail and started running away from me in my lane. But once this antlerless deer saw me hit the opposing lane, the young he or grown she decided they wanted the opposing lane.  I'm not picky, I'll take whichever damn lane the stupid deer doesn't want and moved back. Dumba$$ deer decides the original lane was more to its liking now and veers its brown hide and skinny legs back into my lane, directly in front of me once again. Seriously?

I'm guessing I'm down to 30mph now and only a few actual seconds have passed. It seems like this deer and I have played a full quarter of a ground game football by this point. I make another fade to the opposing lane as the distance between its sparkly white a** and myself is getting really dangerously close. Sure enough, dipstick deer turns into my lane again. In a last ditch effort, I fade as far left as I can get. Tires on the opposing lanes white fog line.

And now it happens, the deer and I are trying to occupy some of the same space at the same time and it's not a fun scifi movie. Front right fairing comes into a glancing blow with some part of the deer. I then feel the warmth and weight of the deer against my leg. Somehow the deers head hits nothing; no windshield, no handle bars, no me, no nothing. Finally the deers big white butt comes into contact with the leading edge of my right saddlebag, full on knocks it off the Concours and it disappears bouncing into the darkness.

With that, I'm past the deer with a death wish. I'm thinking it was deer suicide by motorcycle, and he/she screwed it up, maybe.

I've lost my breathing control, my glasses and visor are now a foggy mess. I'm finally coming to a stop, panting with my heart slamming in my chest, some distance from the impact point. I didn't go down. Wholly cow, we made contact and I didn't go down. I didn't full-on lose the tangle with the deer.

Visor up, glasses off, I realize I'm basically stopped in the middle of my original lane at a slight angle. As my heart returns to normal, my scattered thoughts; wonder what happened to the deer, I'm gonna have to hunt around the shoulders and ditches looking for my saddlebag & stuff, and oh yea, that eighteen wheeler should be getting here soon. I should probably go back find the deer and warn off the truck.

I head back towards the collision point. Up the road I can see the lights of the approaching eighteen wheeler. That's when I see it. My saddlebag. Sitting dead center in the middle of my original lane. It's popped open, but looks whole. The liner containing my stuff is still zipped and inside the case. Awesome.

I kick down the kickstand thinking I'll grab it real quick. I look up the road, but, not far enough. The huge truck is barreling down. He's right there already. I don't think he slowed for the speed zone like I did. Passing me like a freight train, straight and unstoppable.

All I could do was stand there in the opposing lane watching him plow right into my poor sitting duck of a saddlebag. It was just gone. There was nothing there. Poof.

The truck kept going on going, no slow down, no break lights nothing. He was probably looking at me, wondering what the hell I was doing in the opposing lane just kinda sitting there giving him a lsight wave. Probably never even saw the black saddlebag - wonder if he even heard it hit.

Turned the bike around and parked on the edge of my original lane to look for remnants of my belongings.

The plastic shell was obliterated. I found nothing of it larger than a piece of plastic the size of a finger, except the locking/handle mechanism which was whole but twisted and bent with the handles and latches missing (I didn't think to look for the key tumbler though). There was no saddlebag left.

The OEM liner was about 10 more feet down the road sitting in the middle of the lane. The zipper had opened along 1 edge - not broke, just unzipped. My Slime air compressor in its case were laying about a foot past the liner, but everything, seriously everything else was still inside the liner. Near as I can tell I didn't lose a single thing in the saddlebag - just the saddlebag.

I had two glass bottles of booze tucked in the saddlebag, neither broke.

So as I'm cleaning and searching I see two headlights heading from where I came. I hustle a little before the parked bike to warn them off and slow them down. But it turns out to be a 4x4 side x side. I have no idea where he came from as all the houses still looked 100% dark to me. BUt some one was coming to check on me. Guy with his 10ish daughter in her pajamas pulls up, says "Hi, what's up? Did you break down?" I'm, "ah, no, I just hit a deer". He: "What? Where?" looks around real quick. Me: "a deer, back that way" I'm realizing at this point he and his daughter were just out here, and not because I hit a deer or am stnaing around this remote road at night. He: "did you go down?" Me: "nope" He: "are you hurt" Me: "nope".  So we just kinda looked at each other. Daughter says: "daddy, I'm cold" We kinda just look at each other. He: "need anything?" Me: "nope, but you could take this chunk of heavy scrap off the road and trash it so no one hits it" as I hand him the remains of the key/handle mechanism. He: "no problem. Good luck, be safe". Me: "thanks".

And they just drive off into the darkness and disappear. I'm not even on the Extraterrestrial Highway.

Pretty sure this is exactly where the remains of my saddlebag are

I gather my crap, bungee cord it to the top of my pillion/tail bag and ride back to the strike point to find no dear and no blood. I just got back on the road.



I saw only one more car, coming the opposite direction, the entire time I was on Hwy 30. The 1 eighteen wheeler on the road managed to destroy my saddlebag within 2 minutes or less of me striking a deer. What can you say to that.

I did wave at the same truck when I caught up to it on I-80 on the way to Elko.  Driver got a weird confused look on his face. It was our fourth meeting and third wave.

I made it to Elko with no more problems. Found a little place to stay and while eating a crappy meal at the Elko Burger King at 11pm on a Saturday night, asked myself some questions; if I would have gone down would the eighteen wheeler have found me or maybe just driven right over me, would the guy and daughter in the side x side noticed anything if I hadn't been standing in the road waving at them, just how long does it take to get an ambulance or helicopter to get to the middle of nowhere, when I asked myself if taking this road at night was a mistake how dumb was I for going anyway, so did I have bad luck or good luck tonight? Geez that was close. Both the deer and I were able to walk away, I guess that's a win-win.

Full Day Route

Life is too short to live the same day twice.
2015 Concours 14 -- 2007 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2003 Honda Magna 750 -- 2 V65 Magnas
Wandering Back Roads: RRs -- Wandering the Northwest -- Heading East Out West

Offline WANDRNG

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DAY 11 - Daylight damage inspection, super slab to home

Slept in a bit. Surprised as I wasn't even sore when I woke up.

Packed up. Ate a protein bar.

Took a good look at the Concours in the daylight. Few cracks here and there, some popped plastic holders, some plastic piece joints out of wack and some deer hair stuck in a bolt or two. That's it.



Strapped the extra stuff from the now obliterated right saddlebag back on top of the pillion/tail bag and headed for home.

   



I did notice that the rear tire was getting pretty thin. So while keeping an eye on it in case I wanted to buy and swap a tire in Reno. I rode super slab for the final 493 miles with three quick gas stops and not even a break for a meal. I even skipped the good roads in the Sierra foothills. I just wanted to be home.

A huge thanks to everyone that played a part in this never-to-be-forgotten trip.

End of adventure.

Last Day's Route

Life is too short to live the same day twice.
2015 Concours 14 -- 2007 Kawasaki KLR650 -- 2003 Honda Magna 750 -- 2 V65 Magnas
Wandering Back Roads: RRs -- Wandering the Northwest -- Heading East Out West

Offline notsluggo

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Thoroughly enjoyed the entire write-up.  Thanks!
Glad you didn't sustain more damage than you did when bambi got in the way.
Question - was your bag "pinned" or did you have any additional mechanism in place to keep them from coming off?
Ride safe(r).
- notsluggo
2011 Concours 14 - The Silver Bullet!
2014 KLR650 - Kelly
Parker, CO