Last Thursday after my morning bus run, I decided to walk outside in the sunshine before going to the gym. My intention was to raise my energy vibration level. The air, the sun, and being able to sing out loud all help to increase my vibrations. I parked at the gym, put on my headphones, clicked on a playlist that I last listened to when I was riding through the Nevada desert, and off I went. I was about a mile in and a book in the road caught my eye. I passed it and then thought to myself, that it had something to say to me. I went back and read the page it was opened to, It did indeed have a message for me. I just smiled, looked up and said Thank You. I had originally planned to only go two miles, but was so wrapped up in thinking about the poem and it's message to me that I just kept walking. I really should have brought some water with me, I thought to myself. A half a mile later, I passed a bottle of water lying on the side of the road. Light bulb --- that was for me. I went back. It was unopened. Definitely for me -- WOW and WOW. I picked it up opened it and drank. I must admit, I first took just a little taste before really drinking. Once again, I found myself looking up and saying Thank You.
This was the fourth Christmas without Tommy. I think the reason this one was so hard is because I had no mission in place. Christmas 2013, I was still in shock but I was hatching my plan to do a charity ride across the country in his honor. Christmas 2014, I was still working on my plans for my ride. Christmas 2015, I had done Tom's Moms Ride. I was feeling content. It was a powerful ride and I was healed. Little did I realize. This year I just felt empty. I some times feel guilty about this feeling - I am so lucky to have Jay, India, and Ary. I think sometimes, they want to be enough for me. They try to understand, they have their own feelings of loss to deal with. When Jay, India, and Ary are together, I miss Tommy even more, as I loved the four of them together. They were teams. Jay and India - Ary and Tommy. And then the teams would switch - brothers vs sisters, brothers there for sisters, sisters there for brothers. So much fun together. We still have a lot of fun together but a huge part is missing. The dynamic has shifted. They are occupied with their lives, their careers, their growing family -- and that is wonderful -- as it should be. But I just keep wondering what Tommy would have wanted for Christmas this year. His brother and sisters are aging and he is still 25. Kenny Chesney's words became even more poignant this year. " Who You'd Be Today" The good news is that I was finally able to take a proper photograph of the three of them. That represents healing to me.
Tommy will forever be 25, I can't stand that. Last weekend India and I went to one of his close friends 30th surprise party. He has become like a son to Todd and me and we are so happy to have him be a part of our lives, part of our family. I heard lots of stories of Tommy that I hadn't heard before, some made me cry, most made me laugh, all made me thankful. Brian and Ashley are going to be married in November. Nick and Tori have a baby, beautiful Scarlett, who will soon be a year old. Johnny and Dom were married shortly after Tommy's death, they are now expecting. Matt and Ashley were married two days after Tom's death. Caleigh and Rick have two children that Tommy will never meet. He was uncle Tom to their first one. He was at their wedding, but he will never be able to stand with his other friends at their weddings or meet their babies. India and Bill's baby is due March 25th. He will never be able to hold his nephew, he would have been such a great uncle. I just can't stand that.
And so, as much as I think I have a handle on this grief thing, I realize I have a long way to go.
Have to share Matt's story -- They were working on a science project in the living room. They had a fire going and Tommy asked Matt to go out on the porch and get some wood. Matt was in bare feet and started to complain. Tommy, " Dude, the front porch stones are heated." Matt believed him and out he went. I can hear Tommy laughing.
It was a cool 85 degrees and overcast when I headed East on I-80 mid-morning. Listening to the Dixie Chicks, " Wide Open Spaces" -- all I could see was white space in all directions. For 42 miles, I only saw white --- eventually, I started to see growth starting but could still tell there was salt underneath. While all I saw was salt flats, in the very far distance there were mtns. Newfoundland to the left of me, Cedar to the right of me and Lakeside to the right and front -- The Great Salt Lake was directly to the front (East) of me. There is an outside art installation there called "The Spiral Jetty". It was created by Nancy Holt's ( Sun Tunnels) husband. It's on my list but will have to wait until another day. I'm ready to get off the road.
On the advice of Betty, I avoided SLC and headed SE on 36. Stopped to get fuel as soon as I exited. The same group/gang of Hell's Angels were there that were at the hotel I stayed in last night. I saw them this morning as I was loading Stormy. There were a couple that were loud and obnoxious, they def. were not interested in talking with me but the majority of them were low key. Much different experience than the last time I was with a group of Hell's Angels in a bar N of San Francisco. The Jody West band was playing for a charity they were supporting -- the bikers were friendly and protective --- but then I was " with the band". We are talking 35 years ago? WOW! Anyway, at this stop I stood by Stormy, parked off to the side, and watched as they left. Funny thought --- why do you usually see riders of Harley's in groups and BMW riders solo? Something to ponder. As they went past me, I nodded. I got 3 nods back --- not bad.
36 was a pleasant ride -- pulled over in the little town of Vernon, UT to change my playlist. I was at a crossroads by a general store 36/Castagno Rd. Castagno Rd was gravel, every 30 seconds a pick -up truck, or 4 wheeler came up the gravel road and turned left in front of me. Without exception, every single driver waved, nodded, smiled, asked how I was. What a wonderful way to be. I got back on the road feeling loved.
I was pushing to make it to Wellington for the night, but as I got of of 15N and headed E on 6, a huge storm appeared. Really huge! It was close to 4pm, so I got a room for the night in Spanish Fork. Lots of eating options within walking distance -- opted for Mexican take-out. No alcohol served, so back to my room and my cooler --- I was prepared for Utah.
The next morning, I looked at my maps and thought about a couple of options but a voice in the back of my head kept saying -- just beeline for Montrose. Montrose is where I am meeting my husband, Todd. Old Friends, Betty and Jim Ebrecht are hosting the group HCMB's Navy re-union. Come to find out -- Betty had been sending telepathic messages to me to come early and recharge before the festivities started. I am so glad I received and listened to them. Was able to get the salt off of Stormy - mostly, anyway - and sleep the sleep I needed -- safe in a cool, dark, room with dr.'s orders not to come upstairs before noon. Very much needed and appreciated. AND, I arrived to rib eye's on the grill!! My favorite.
I did wonder through Colorado National Monument on my way. Rode historic Rim Rock Drive from the West entrance at Fruita to the East entrance in Rosedale outside of Grand Junction. #22 on Butler's Colorado Map - it is classified as a G1 ride. "While Colorado often conjures images of rocky peaks, rusty mines and alpine passes, Colorado National Monument blends sandstone towers towers and red rock landscapes akin to southern Utah." And no crowds!
Can't wait for Todd, Ary, Remus, and Sophie to arrive! Tonight or tomorrow.........Let the party begin..........
Yesterday was a much needed, relaxing, and fun day of adventure. I stayed two nights at the Best Western in Wendover so that I could go day tripping without a load. Speaking of tripping, why is the desert so conducive to taking hallucinogens? I have pondered this question for the last couple of days as I have been doing a lot of riding in the California/Nevada/Utah Deserts. Yesterday, it occurred to me that perhaps it's because our perspective is already compromised -- or at least different. I see mirages in the desert, my imagination goes into overdrive, my sense of smell is heightened -- if there was even an inkling of shade -- I'd sit and just breathe in the aromatic sage. Then there is the stillness, yet at the same time, movement is faster without seeming so. Without a load, I found myself going much faster yesterday than I am normally comfortable with and yet I felt like I was barely moving. There is nothing to use as a gauge for speed. And then there are the clouds --- the day before yesterday, I saw a spaceship in the clouds. Yesterday, in one cloud, I saw the flying dragon from "The NeverEnding Story", my Doberman, Jackson lying on his back, and then a baby chick.
Anyway, back to my day. Visiting the "Sun Tunnels" has been on my bucket list for a few years now. I don't remember how/where I even heard of them, but when I did, I knew I had to go. They are four concrete tubes laid out in an X. Two line up with the rising and setting sun of the summer solstice and two with the winter solstice. Each tube has varying diameter holes drilled into them, forming four constellations that you can see inside the tubes in daylight. Draco, Perseus, Columbia, and Capricorn. Nancy Holt finished the installation in 1976. She purchased 40 acres outside of Lucin, Utah -- an abandoned railroad community, now a ghost town --- in the Great Basin Desert. The only thing even close is a big ranch that you can barely see in the distance. The roads in are dirt, gravel and sand. Basically close to 13 miles one way. No road signs and lots of spurs. There were small artfully done signs that let me know I was on the right track. Very reassuring! I was super careful -- only one other time have I gone off road by myself -- that was in the Great Smoky Mtn. NP -- but there was shade, and I had camping gear and fire starters with me. I felt very exposed on this trip in. I kept repeating to myself the lessons I had been taught by Shawn Thomas at "RawHyde" and just recently practiced with Trevor and some sisters off-road in Kodachrome State Park. Once there, I was so excited. Stormy and I had done it!! This artwork had been on my radar for a reason --- inside the tunnels was so cool - temperature wise. I just sat and looked out. Peace. No one else around. Nothingness but light coming through drilled holes forming a pattern. Looking out the round tunnel brought the sky and the earth into the same frame. It was the first time I have really reacted to an outside art installation and it is something I want to do again.
Then we had to go back. HA! Directionally challenged as I am, you would think I would remember even the first road I came in on. I originally started in the right direction, but then doubted myself, turned around and went about a mile down another road -- no didn't feel right, my head was turned to see the tunnels coming in -- eventually, I figured it out -- but I added a couple of miles and some anxiety to the trip.
Once back on pavement, I was feeling quite full of myself. Off to the Bonneville Salt Flats and The Bonneville Speedway. Erin Hunter Sills had been on the "Sisters Ride". Beautiful, well spoken, sincere and supportive. I was inspired to see where she made and broke records.
Fun to go out on the salt. Saw all kinds of donuts -- guess who I thought of? Both of my sons, boy would they have had some fun.
Met a young man from Florida, Jeremy and his mostly Harley motorcycle, "Grandpa". He was from Florida, had ridden to Santa Cruz to see family and was on his way home via SLC to get a front fork fixed. He had hit a metal highway pole --- he was lucky he only needed a front fork replaced. His nickname was J-Bird. I loved that.
Stopped in at the Salt Flats Cafe because apparently you just have to, and then headed to Historic Wendover Field, a WWII Army Air Force base. Just thought I'd take some photos for Jay. ( See FB for photos ).
Wonder what the numbers are -- ATV's per person in Nevada
I am currently back in Ely, NV, just in a different hotel --- I miss the ambience of the Historic Nevada but here at La Quinta, Stormy is parked right outside my room and I don't have to deal with stairs/elevator. I was going to try and make it to Wendover yesterday, but on the easiest route, I still manage to miss a turn. Didn't realize it until I saw the welcome sign for California --- Damn good play list -- all I'm going to say on that.
When we left Ely just a couple of days ago, we traveled rt. 50, " The Lonliest Highway in America". I believed that to be true until yesterday. Rt 6 from Coaldale to Ely is the lonliest stretch I've ever been on. I can count the # of vehicles I saw on 2 hands. The majority of those were NevadaDOT trucks. The only places where it looked like there might be life was in 2 different cluster of blue houses and maintenance garages -- all belonging to NDOT. The road was very well maintained and not one piece of litter. I tried for a long time to find some, kept my mind occupied. There was no place to fuel, even using my spare container of fuel, I pulled into a Shell station in Ely with 43 miles on my reserve gauge. I usually get 45 mpg, although at altitude I'm getting 48-50mpg. Either way, I was seriously worried. 104 degrees and no shade --- I did not want to walk! Stormy pulled through once again.
There were some interesting sites along this stretch of road --- there was the Columbus salt marsh outside of Coaldale. There was no sign, but my map says that's what it was. Outside of Hawthorne, where I spent last night, were acres of barrack type buildings. A sign said they were a part of the Hawthorne Army Ammunition Plant. There were also dirt hogan type buildings with a concrete entrance going underground and a single smokestack coming out of the top. There were a lot of them. Don't know what they were.
Outside of Tonapah ( isn't there an Emmylou Harris song about with Tonapah in it?), there was a flight testing area -- a pretty robin egg's blue rocket marked that dirt road. Ahhh, the Nevada desert.
I have gotten back into my alone mode. When I left San Francisco without Lisa, I was homesick and shaky. After I crossed the Bay Bridge into Oakland, there was a fully engulfed pick up truck on the side of the road -- response on the way -- I could hear sirens as I sped by. Freaked me out -- my mind started focusing on all the things that can go wrong. Stopped that train immediately -- zippity do da, what a wonderful day -- mom and tom --- does it everytime!
Spent my first night alone in Groveland, CA at Hotel Charlotte, 2 rooms left --one off to the side with a queen - but very small. The other one had twin beds. I took the queen and it was perfect. I felt like I could stay there for days. The Iron Door Saloon was right across the very narrow street and it's local beer was Thompson's Ale. Nice, friendly people. I asked if my room was open for another night -- it wasn't --- not meant to be. Onward to Yosemite and the most beautiful surprise -- Mono Lake!
68.9 degrees as we rode through Red Canyon in Dixie National Forest, Thurs. morning. On 89 W into and out of Panguitch, Utah, there were acres upon acres of irritigated pasture and alfalfa, fields of horses and cattle, mostly separated. The smell of freshly mown alfalfa was strong and I loved it. The greenest large, square bales I have ever seen, stacked and covered.
As we went through the little town of Beaver, 2 young boys, I'm guessing 4 and 6, were walking barefoot down the road with their grandmother ( again guessing). As we went by -- I saw the most enthusiastic thumbs up from both of them. Brought back memories and warmed my heart.
Through Milford, home of World Champion Saddle Bronco Riders and into Baker for fuel and lunch. Great chicken caesar pita sandwich. Named T&D's after it's owners Terry and Debra, it reminded Lisa of the "Whistlestop Cafe". Along with the owners there was a young waitress that was saving for college -- reminded us of Ruth.
After lunch, we stopped in at Great Basin NP --- home of the Lehman Caves and protector of the world's oldest living trees, Bristlecone Pines. When I have time, I want to look into that more deeply. There are different classifications for oldest. According to Wikimedia Commons -- A Bristlecone pine named Methuselah in California's Whie Mtns is the oldest non-clonal tree in the world. It's exact location is a secret for protection. But I thought one of the Giant Sequoias -- General Sherman or Grant held the title of oldest. Hmmmm --- no time to investigate right now.
Spent the night in Ely, NV - home of the bathtub races. We stayed at the historic Hotel Nevada and Gambling Hall. Themed rooms - Jimmy Stuart, Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman, Mickey Rooney, Kit Carson. The Halls of each floor were covered with old Wild West memorabilia. Hand plows, hitches, traps, lanterns, saddles. One floor was dedicated to motorcycles, mostly Harley's. Fun, funky and old -- we had a great time. The Mayor of Ely came to dinner and gave us all our own "official survival guide and passport" for NV Highway 50 -- the loneliest highway in America. Apparently, in 1986, Life magazine described NV 50 as such and said their were no attractions or points of interest along the 287 mile stretch and recommended that drivers have " survival skills " to travel the route. Nevada put a positive spin on this article and now has a passport that can be stamped along the way. This highway follows the old pony express route. It is lonely, and hot in July, but it is historic and everyone along the way was friendly. As the passport says, " If you consider yourself a traveler, rather than a tourist, if you welcome the twists and turns that come with a new adventure, then this belt of Nevada highway was paved just for you".
We took our time leaving Ely. It was 80 degrees, 77 in the Mtn passes. Saw 2 patches of Black eyed Susan's. Started thinking of my brother. Robert and Sara rode with us in Robert's Indian and sidecar. They did some filming of us while we were riding and then an interview by an old general store in Eureka. It was shaded and quiet. It is also, another place I dropped Stormy -- see 9R's wresting pic on FB. LOL. We had lunch in Austin at a great little place called Cafe International. Met a 9 yr. old girl sitting at the counter on a stool. Her name was Chloe. She was learning how to cook and she was good with money. We told her about the sister's ride, she thought her mother would be interested, so we gave her a card. She looked at the word Centennial and said, " the T gives that word it's life, it is it's soul". We were blown away. Our angel. Sara later looked up what the name Chloe meant. It is Greek and means "Young shoot, new growth -- a powerful name for a spirited woman". It fit perfectly.
Before lunch and after our interview, as we started to take off, my gear shifter fell off. ---- Luckily the torq screw was still in it and I had tools. Robert put it back on for me, as I sat on stormy to make sure it was in the right position. Of course, it took 3 times to determine that. Everyone was patient and this time we used loctite.
Outside of Austin, we dropped down onto 722. -- it was cooler and more interesting -- went through a couple of passes which was fun. I hung back and watched Robert and 9R play. We saw fires, and watched Mountain Goats that climbed sheer rock cliffs. We stopped at the shoe tree..... See photos on FB for these days. We passed a mountain of sand that reminded me of the dunes in Corolla, NC.
As we did the last 52 mile stretch on 50 into Carson City, the road was pushing up heat, the sun was in our faces and I saw 4 riders. In front was Dad, then his grandson, my son, Tommy. Next was my brother, Jody, and me. We rode together -- a dream come full circle. No words.
Pulled into Carson City around 5:30 --- long day, we were hot and tired. There were a lot of riders joining the ride here to go into San Francisco tomorrow. There was a meet and greet at 7 --- but we still had work to do on our own bikes and 73 yr. old Holly from Canada had asked 9R for some help with her chain. We decided to fore go the meet and greet and just take our time. Tomorrow would be crazy, best to be calmly prepared. Around 8, LISA headed downstairs to pick up the dinner I had ordered. She texted me, get down here immediately ---NOW --- Hurry....... I head down in my sweats, t-shirt without bra and flip flops --- as I walk into the room -- Lisa yells my name and everyone starts clapping, I get pulled up for my AWARD. Embarrassed but overwhelmed with gratitude --- all cross country riders received a medal. 9R got a standing ovation when she got hers --- she was thanked for her service. Very cool, very thoughtful.
Today was the day. We would complete "The Sisters Centennial Ride" in San Francisco.
Today was Tommy's birthday. This morning, I read that one of my schoolmates lost her daughter to a post childbirth infection. Insanity. My mind was reeling as we headed W towards Lake Tahoe State Park. Low 60's --- beautiful ride through pines around the lake. Headed up to Donner Pass --- temps dropped to 50's -- I had to turn on my hand grip heaters.
Once in CA, there were the familiar brown velvet hills dotted with oaks. But the brown was actually more of a mix between camel hair and straw --- very light and dry. Could smell the dryness. I felt home. I love California, but I hate the traffic. I-80 was a mess. One big rig breakdown, and accidents put us really behind schedule. Again with lane splitting options --- still too wide with panniers and still uncomfortable. Again, we went down the shoulder of the road in 1st and 2nd gears. Once on 37, we were fine, until the Mare Island Causeway. We pulled off to regroup --- figured out that even with the 20 min. Back-up it was the fastest way. By this point, we were pretty sure we would miss the group photo and the staging to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. At this point, we just wanted to finish the ride safely. Deep breath and onward. We rode the shoulder over the causeway as well ---- beautiful orange CA. Poppies welcomed and encouraged our progress.
We made it to Ft. Baker in time --- craziness. --- dancing, screaming, hugging, crying. We were not the last in, still one more. We were staged for photo and they rolled in to our cheers!
The San Francisco Motorcycle Club led us over the bridge and around and through the city and eventually to their clubhouse on Folsom St., where they had a beautiful spread set up for us. I originally thought it was 100 plus bikes, but it was closer to 250 going through red lights and stop signs --- The club did an amazing job of blocking. So cool to ride to and along the Pacific Ocean and smell the sea and salt air. Past the Cliff House -- that triggered some memories of a beach party -- some 36 years ago?
Lisa and I made our way to our hotel on Van Ness. Parking was in a garage and there were cars and motorcycles backed up and blocking movement. It was a cluster f..., if ever there was one. People were yelling and honking. Everyone was exhausted and on an emotional roller coaster. Pete, the husband of Cathy, one of the cross country riders and a friend we made along the way, was doing a great job of trying to clear up the flow into the garage. Something the hotel staff should have been doing, in my humble opinion. The problem was that you needed a key to get into the garage --- couldn't get a key until you checked in --- then it was discovered you didn't need a key, just had to push another button and take that ticket with you when you checked in......... Anyway, I parked out of the way --- and checked us in, Niner went around the gate, lol. And found us a place to park in the garage.
Party at the Dainese D-Store on S. Van Ness. Really fun!!! We left our bikes parked and ubered. We got there late but before closing speeches. Free beer and food, Trevor ( ColoradoAdvMoto) was there as we walked in --- he said there is a really tall gorilla walking around here somewhere. I was so excited -- Another one of my favorites from Rawhyde who now works for BMW Mottorad and Adventure Brothers. Shawn Thomas! Big Hugs --- his daughter Hailey had ridden up with him. He carried me on the back of his bike for 2 hrs. In Feb. of 2015, when I broke my leg. That's another story.
Great, Great time ---- 9R presented Alisa, this ride was her dream, with a US Flag that she had flown in Afghanistan. The timing was perfect -- she jumped in right after Alisa presented "Final Salute" with a check. Very emotional.
Goodbye's and questions ---- where do we go from here.
We left Lake Powell with heavy hearts. Lisa found out that a long time Army friend, really a part of her family died unexpectedly. She spent the morning on the phone pacing back and forth from our room to her motorcycle, Betty. I gave her a long hug, told her I loved her, and then stayed out of her way. We all need to work through news like that in our own way. Lisa and I try to stretch every morning. I went into the room and she had started - she had talked with her mother. Claudia had calmed her down. She was ready to ride.
We headed SW on 89 to the Navajo Bridge, about 45 miles away. The scenery reminded me of the foothills of the High Atlas in Morocco. Sage, low shrubs were all we could see. Todd and I were on horseback there in 2005/06. We stopped in Marble Canyon, and walked the bridge over the Colrado River. We were surrounded by Vermillion Cliffs.
Once in Kanab, we headed N into the Dixie National Forest, almost immediately after entering, I could smell the Juniper and Pinyon Pine. Heaven. As I was riding, I had the sense that I had been here before, again, I felt Pirsig like. We began to see signs to watch for fire traffic, which we saw - a lot of -- but no smoke. I didn't even smell smoke. We pulled into fuel at a place in Jacob Lake. I knew why I had the sense that I had been here before, I had. Last year, but I had been traveling in the opposite direction. This is where the 2 truck drivers asked me if my husband really loved me. They couldn't believe he would LET me do that trip by myself, if he loved me.
There was Info. About the fire, it was named the Fuller Fire. I'm not sure if it had been set on purpose for forest rejuvenation, but that is the sense I got.
Coming out of the Dixie Forest, Lisa saw a heart in the sky made by clouds. I love signs that all is well. Dave was talking to her, I didn't notice it.
I saw a sign for Coral Sands State Park, on a whim, I pulled in. Then just as quickly, decided not to travel the 12 miles in. I looked for a place wide enough to do a U-turn. Stormy and I can turn in a small space, Betty needs a bit more room. Thought I had found a spot and started my turn ---- screwed up and saw I was going to go into the sand - no worries. HA!! It was deep and deeper ---- just pulled me over. Shut her off and laughed. Lisa almost wet her pants, she was laughing so hard. Just this morning I had been wondering if I would make this trip without dropping her.
We pulled into Ruby's Inn in Bryce Canyon around 4;45. Had just cracked a beer, when Robert came over with his Indian and sidecar and told us about the cool arch at the end of a cool sand road in Kodachrome State Park. There was even a water crossing. I really wanted to go. I looked at 9R --- she said GO! A group was leaving to go in 15. Lisa helped me get my panniers off. There were 6 of us. 5 sisters and Trevor - Colorado Adventure Moto - and a Rawhyde staff member. I met him when I went to Rawhyde in Feb. of 2015. He was awesome. Took care of us. The ride was badass fun. One really deep talcolm powder sand crossing --- I fell on way in, but made a nice recovery and rocked it on the way out. Chris fell on way out. Sue fell somewhere along the road --- bent the shifter -- no big deal - Trevor bent it back. Chris twisted her handlebars and a blinker light popped out. Trevor fixed her handlebars and 9R fixed her light when we got back. I was really sorry that Lisa couldn't go - she would have loved it. The group has 6? GS's that BMW donated for the ride, but all but 1 are assigned. Sue was riding the 700 that was being used as a demo bike.
I need to go back and tell you about lunch. We stopped at a place called Tod's. We made our own burgers. Have never seen anything like it -- it was a blast. We got frozen thick burgers out of a little freezer and put them in a turning grill. ( See FB pics ) There was a condiment bar with everything right in front of us. The burgers even came out rare. Lisa surmised that if someone wanted well done, they put 'em through again.
Wed. July 20th - India's birthday. Day off ---- some of the group went motorcycle riding, some horseback riding, one even went for a helicopter ride. Lisa and I rode to Zion NP and hiked. I was there exactly one year ago - July 20th. My experiences were vastly different. I guess I went earlier, because there were no lines for the shuttle. Lisa and lines do not get along. It was probably a 20 min. Wait. It was on her lips to bag it, but she held steady and decided to people watch. A man asked her if she was from Baltimore - she had an O's cap on and a Raven's key holder around her neck. He grew up in Baltimore but lives in LA with his wife and 3 boys - all were with him. We hiked the Kenyata Trail to the Emerald pools. It was a good hike but very hot. Lots of people, some rude, some polite. We heard one little boy ask his mother if he fell off a cliff should he grab hold of the cactus. A little further down the trail, we saw the spot that provoked that question. The little kids were mostly happy, teenage girls were giggly, singing, having fun. Teenage boys looked miserable. Heard some German, but mostly French along the trail. Perfume was sometimes overwhelming.
When we left the park around 2 --- it was 99.5 degrees. Traffic was light on the way out as opposed to the way in. We got to the Zion - Mt. Carmel Tunnel and it looked like we were going to be waved right through, but the Ranger stopped us. Lisa say's, " Niner's Luck" -
( always the longest line) --- then the Ranger motioned us forward and gave her the baton to give to the Ranger on the other side of the tunnel. WHOO HOO ---- That's my luck!!
Hot on the 71 mile ride back to our hotel. About 25 miles out we could see rain in the distance ---we were hot enough and close enough not to care about raingear. The temperature dropped to the high 60's. Made it back to the hotel just before a massive thunderstorm rolled through. Enjoyed it, although not with a good beer. We were out of good beer, all we could get here was 4%.
I am having a really hard time keeping track of what day it is; or what happened when. I jot down notes, but have pieces of paper everywhere. The pace of this ride is much more demanding than I when I went across last year by myself. Can't say I like one better than the other right now, as with most things, advantages and disadvantages to both.
Yesterday, we rode from Ouray, down rt. 550 - One of the Million Dollar Highways - there is another one but don't remember where it is and can't take the time to google right now. 550 is a Butler Maps G1, 2, and 3 ride. In that order, as you go south from Ouray. "It follows old stagecoach routes and pack trails with stretches of road that dance around mines, crystal creeks and ore-scarred peaks." It is exposed with no guard rails. We rode early in the morning, there was a light rain as we started - the air, the smells, the scenery was magnificiant. It lived up to it's reputation. I was so happy when we got to Molas pass, 10,910 just south of Silverton. Last year that was were I got a flat tire that I couldn't fix and had to be towed back to Durango. From there, I decided to go to Mesa Verde NP, instead of going back up.
Anyway, once Lisa and I made it to Durango, we stopped - out of rain gear and into mesh, filled our beer cooler with local brewery crafts, and bought a sandwich to eat later. We were headed to Four Corners Monument. I had been there last year, but Lisa had to see it. And the groups were meeting there for lunch. It's def. something to see, but it's basically a tourist destination with little shade, we ate under the shade of a closed restroom building. It was closed last year as well, the only difference was that this year there was caution tape wrapped around it. After lunch, we headed out -- our destination -- Lake Powell NRA, 179 miles away. It was going to be a long, hot, straight, ride through very desolate country along rt.'s 160 and 89. It is peaceful, but not friendly country. I can't believe I rode through here by myself last year. At a fuel stop, we saw the storm, but didn't care about our rain gear -- we were hot! It was quite a storm, but we just kept going - hard as hell to see, but there was no safe place to pull off. Safer to slow down and plow through. Eventually, we found a sort of an overpass with red gravel to pull over, by this time it was just light rain and I was cold. The temp. Went from 95 to 60.
We pulled into Lake Powell around 6pm, we had gained another hour, Thank God. Our room looked out over the Marina, really beautiful. See photo header.
Yesterday, we went to Seven Falls with the group for a historical photo. It is part of the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs and it is absolutely gorgeous. They opened it just for "Sisters Ride". Alisa and Robert took there sponsored BMW and Indian over a tiny bridge and our group photo was right in front of the falls. Pretty cool. Our shuttle driver was Cuby Valdez - he used to be a Hot Shot and a smoke jumper. He reminded Lisa of Rainman.
Lisa and I left Colorado Springs around 9 am and headed toward Salida, where there was a wildfire in the San Isabel National Forest. The Hayden Pass fire. We expected to see smoke as we went through on 50, and we did - in the mountains, but we didn't have to ride through any. The town had signs on the roads, in fuel stops, in a cafe we stopped in -- all thanking and praying for the fire fighters and their families. Nice to see, a real sense of community. We stopped at a subway in Gunnison and I got a text from friend, Betty Ebrect. - There was a motorcycle accident in the canyon and 50 was closed into Montrose. Lisa and I looked at each other, praying it wasn't one of ours. I checked map, and with Betty's help , we made an alternate plan. Just as we were about to leave, Betty got word that it was open, which was good, not only for us, but it meant most likely the rider was alive. We stopped in at Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP and then stopped in to see JE and Betty in Montrose on our way to Ouray.
Twin Peaks in Ouray was awesome, the little Switzerland, 3 HOT SPRINGS all different temps. Had a blast playing chicken in the 100 degree pool.
The day before was a rest day. We did laundry in our "corn maze" of a hotel. Lisa's description. The ubered into Manitou Springs for lunch. My first Uber! Went to a Mexican restaurant " The Loop". Killer Margaritas. Met an Irish Catholic family - brother and fiancé, sister, her son and his girlfriend. We all hit it off -- just so many similarities in our lives -- birthdays, suicides, mental health -- we took a group photo -- see FB for album of these days. Shawn ( Brother) paid for our meal without our knowing. We graciously accepted.
The margaritas had def. done their job, so we ubered through Garden of the Gods, with the AC blasting and windows open - Lisa had to sit on the door to take pics, of course.
"The most effective defenses of wildness seem to be rooted squarely in the needs and interests of civilized people." Roderick Nash, 1982
We left McCook , NE around 9:30 --- Hung out with one of the groups. One of the Van Burens was on a sponsored Indian and it wouldn't start --- after a lot of different attempts, it was decided that it had to be towed to Denver to an Indian dealership. The problem ended up being a simple computer communication issue with the key fob. This particular bike was a pre-production model, the issue was fixed in the production models. It just so happens that there is a BMW F700GS demo along with us on this trip, so he was able to ride that. All good, his bike was fixed and returned to him in Colorado Springs. Dare I say it ----- BMW's ROCK.
Absolutely beautiful ride out of McCook, NE and into Kansas. Cool 70's, overcast dark blue sky. 27.8 miles outside of McCook, we entered Kansas and the landscape immediately changed from greens and browns to hues of yellow, gold, and gray. Noticed that pines, not sure which kind, surrounded most of the farm's homes and out buildings. I am assuming for wind protection. As I was riding, I couldn't stop thinking about the BLT I had last night. It was the best I've ever had -- thick bacon, leaf lettuce, good tomato -- have no idea where it came from --- on fresh sourdough. Taste of Texas BBQ -- if ever in McCook, NE --- don't miss it.
Today's ride became hard because it was so straight --- The Great Plains Highway -- straight with ups and downs. We slowly gained elevation as we traveled West. We stopped at a VFW in Burlington, KS to use their bathrooms. There was a Cobra Helicopter monument outside which of course, drew us in. Passed through a wind turbine corridor and into Colorado. I LOVE Colorado. Great experiences every time I visit, even when something goes wrong.
Colorado Springs welcomed us in true mountain style ---- afternoon hail, thunder and lightening. We were able to get our raingear on in time but Lisa had bruises from where the hail hit her. It was not fun negotiating through rush hour traffic in pouring rain --- just so damn hard to see. We use rain-X and anti-fog stuff ---- still hard to see.
Our hotel is HUGE ---We're in the South wing --- Our bikes are close, but it's a half mile walk to the lobby --- I kid you not.
Yesterday we rode up Pike's Peak. The summit is 14,114 ft. One of Colorado's Fourteeners, it is in the Front Range, along with Mt. Evans, which is 14,265 ft. And Mt. Bierstadt - 14,065. In 2000, Jay, Tommy, and I, along with Troop 735 climbed Mt. Bierstadt. Then we took the Sawtooth, a class 3 scramble - which means that we had to use our hands in places to climb and navigate rocks -- over to Mt. Evans. One of my fondest memories with both of my sons.
Yesterday, I learned there is a difference between hiking up to 14,000 and riding up to that altitude. Even though we stopped at 10,000 for about 15 mins. And then at 12,000 for about an hour - it snowed up top and they closed the road for snow and ice. We were fully hydrated, clear pee - but still felt very lightheaded and a little dizzy at the summit. Admittedly, when we were here in 2000, we did a much better job of acclimating. Camped at The Air Force Academy, then climbed to 13,000 and came right down the day before we went to 14,000.
Anyway, we made it!!! The coolest thing was that The sisters ride creator/organizer was being interviewed/filmed about her thoughts on the ride thus far. The film crew who are really great and work for Indian, asked Lisa if she would sit on a rock with Alissa with the magnificiant view in the background and talk about her experiences as a woman veteran. One of the charities this ride supports is Final Salute, a group that helps support women vets with housing and re-entry.
Lisa spoke beautifully, honestly - she was real --she told stories that she has shared with very few of us, I was in tears --- everyone that was grouped around watching was crying. I was so proud of her.
After we descended, we headed to Pike's Peak Motorsports. Stormy had an app. For an oil change and chain cleaning and adjustment. While we waited, we sat outside and ate lunch. Another rider/staff member joined us. Apparently, we missed the traditional donut at the top of Pike's Peak. Seems they are made from a recipe that only works at 14,000 ft or above. They have been sold on the Mtn. In one form or another for 125 years according to Rocky Mtn. Food report. Luckily, neither one of us likes donuts.