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Finally making some time to share one of my favorite adventures from the summer. After the "SistersRide", I made my way to Montrose, CO. to meet Todd and Ary for Todd's Navy re-union. Ary had a rock climbing friend from college that currently lived in Telluride. I was invited to join them on a rock climbing expedition to take some photos. Ary and I followed Wes to the climbing spot. He was in his truck and we were in our F-250 diesel, Nellie. We were headed to what was called the pipe wall, on the Eastern edge of Box Canyon, up by Bridal Veil Falls. They are the tallest free falling falls in Colorado - rising 365 ft. in height. We followed and climbed the switchbacks up a dirt/stone/gravel road for about 2 miles. Wes was right, we def. needed the truck. Stormy would have loved this road. There were more than a few places where Nellie needed 3 points to make the turn. We even made a water crossing. Have I mentioned that I LOVE water crossings. Little did we know, it would not only be the first of the day, it would be the easiest as well.
As Ary was making her final ascent of the day, we could see the storm in the distance. The darkest of blues, just over Telluride. As she rappelled down, the raindrops began. Very light drops as we made our way back to the trucks. My concern was the water crossing. Water comes up fast during these aft. storms. But within minutes of starting, the rain never really got going and stopped. We were feeling all was right with our world, what a great day.
Wes went his way and Ary and I headed back to Montrose. Just North of Telluride, Wes calls Ary to let her know there was a mud slide and the road was closed. He didn't know the exact location. I saw a shell station on the left and pulled in, I had a gut feeling we were going to need a full tank of fuel, and we needed to look at some maps and re-group.
As I fueled, Ary went in to see if she could find out the exact location of the slide. While fueling, 2 young men on dual sport motorcycles pulled in and parked off to the side. I walked up to them as they were taking off their helmets to let them know about the mudslide. As I got closer, I realized they probably didn't care, they were traveling off road anyway. I simply said, "Looks like you two are having fun". One of them replied, "You would think - I dropped my bike 4 times on that last section - what was I thinking?" I laughed and said - "TAT?" Yes, they were riding the Trans-America Trail. Almost 5000 miles of mostly off road road riding. The dream of Sam Correro, it begins in SW North Carolina and ends in SW Oregon. It runs East to West. I let them know about the mudslide. I wished I was on Stormy, they wished they were in Nellie. We chatted for a couple more minutes and then wished each other good luck, and safe trails.
No one inside knew the location of the slide, we called Todd, and asked him if Betty had time to check out her local Montrose information FB page. The slide was between Sawpit and Placerville. That would prevent us from getting to 62N. There is no easy way around, we were screwed. Wait for possibly 4 hrs. or go S and E to Durango and then N up 550 - "The Million Dollar Highway". Either way, it was going to be a really, really, long day.
I looked at my Butler Map of Colorado and I saw a forest road called "Last Dollar Highway" that was before Sawpit. It would drop us into 62 about 12 miles S of Ridgeway. Then it was an easy 27 miles N into Montrose. I asked Ary to call Jim to see if he knew anything about it. Meanwhile, I talked to the owner of the fuel station. He said we had the perfect truck for it. Jim hadn't been on it personally. Todd was against it -- part of that road could have been washed out. Logical, I guess. Frankly, I think he was worried about Nellie. He just had a new aluminum flatbed, with stake sides, and boxes put on her, he loved her.
I looked at Ary and said, let's just go take a look, if we have a bad feeling, we'll come back to town, get dinner and wait for the road to open. She agreed.
I went by it the first time, nailed it the second time, hahaha. All seemed perfect - note the fullsize photo of Nellie. That was taken when we were about 5 miles in. The road was only 24 miles. Easy Peasy. We hadn't started climbing yet nor had we entered the forest. The first of 6 water crossings was the scariest. Ary took a photo through the window, I didn't have the presence of mind to take a pic. I was worried. It was muddy, I couldn't see the bottom. I'm going to guess 15 ft long by 8-10 ft wide. There were huge logs floating in it. I'm assuming that someone else threw them in to to how deep it was. One of my concerns as well -- also how far would we sink? Nellie was not light, hell, we got stuck at the Hunt Cup one year. Just sank, while Kimmy, in her van, stayed on top and drove off.
I got out, fished the logs out, didn't need them getting stuck underneath her. Found a long, somewhat thinner pole, that I was able to use to test both the depth and the bottom. We were going for it. Not too fast, not too slow, just right! Big cheers -- whoo hoo.
As we continued, the road got narrower, and there was the occasional jeep or truck that was coming in the opposite direction. Most of us figured out how to pass with little difficulty. There was the occasional A-hole -- the first one had NJ plates, the second, PA. At one point, Ary and I had pulled over on a larger section of road to take some pictures. Another F 250 comes by pulling what looks like an enclosed motorcycle trailer. He stops to warn us that up ahead is a cluster F... Lots of people up here that shouldn't be. We thank him, he asks us if we have any beer with us and starts laughing....... hmmmm. He was right and we made our way at a top speed of 5 miles an hr. The road was like grease ----- my heart was in my throat at one point, as we slid around a sharp corner that had nothing but air to the right. Now, we had other people that we had to dodge. Eventually, we started our descent and the road got progressively wider and better. Just as it was when we started -- packed dirt, clay with lots of gravel.
We finally see Rt. 62 in front of us, 24 miles is a lot of miles when you're on forest roads. WE DID IT!! YAY NELLIE --- What a great adventure. Breathtakingly beautiful scenery and the confidence that comes from "just doing it." Now, back to Montrose for that beer!
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.
Today was amazing!
A storm blew through overnight and the tail end was over us until about 8am. Lisa and I decided to hang out. I needed to catch up on my blog, we were tired of rushing, and did not want to deal with rush hour traffic on our way out of town. We left around 9:15. Of course, we went the wrong way out of the hotel again. Don't ask, I don't know. Anyway, we got right back on US 30 - the Lincoln Highway. I was wearing my mesh jacket that Todd sent to the hotel and felt really good as it was supposed to be a scorcher today. Once on the road, I was cold. I knew I couldn't pull over right away to get my fleece, I could hear her in my head "tough it out, buttercup." I lasted about 40 miles and then I didn't care - there was a little town called Tama, and we pulled off into a gravel parking lot. On the way in, I noticed a sign about a historical marker for the Lincoln Highway -- we immediately turned around and pulled in. It changed our day. We found the Lincoln Bridge. In 1913, when the coast to coast highway was proclaimed, it was actually a series of mismatched roads. One of the hundreds of towns it went through was Tama. In 1915 the town built a concrete bridge over mud creek with the words Lincoln Highway cut out of it's guard rails. The Lincoln Highway was rerouted 11 years later, and then with the Interstate System in the 1950's, the bridge became obsolete. But here it was. And the town had signs marking the original road through town. The sisters had ridden over this actual bridge and through town. YES! We started following the original Lincoln Highway. It was very well marked. Once we got back on 30, we noticed that the signs for Lincoln Highway started pointing down dirt and gravel roads that crossed Railroad tracks and ran almost parallel to 30. At our next fuel stop, we talked about it, had both noticed the same thing. Why not? It would be no problem for me, I was on Stormy, a GS, she lived for those roads. But Betty? An electraglide classic, a cruiser? If anyone could turn a cruiser into an off road machine, it is 9R. We pulled off at the next sign that pointed across the tracks - I looked over at 9R, questioning --- "Hell Yeah!." We were off. We were pumped, even went through a little mud. They would only last a few miles and then we'd have to get back on 30. We did that a couple of times and had a blast - we could feel the sisters. We were the sisters. Finally, because of our late start, we needed to focus on making time, it was late.
I just love where the county roads meet 30. They are dirt, forming a huge T-square, and I love watching as trucks speed down them raising dust to the wind. This stretch of 30 is beautiful, Iowa is beautiful, all different textures and shades of green, with some browns on the side of the roads.
Passed the De Soto Wildlife Refuge before we crossed the Missouri River and into Nebraska, just like the sisters in 1916 and Lewis and Clark on their expedition in 1804-1806. Treeless prairie, ideal for grazing cattle. Also seeing corn and soybeans in addition to pastures, alfalfa and wheat. We were riding on 15 and 19 - sun was low - fun gentle curves on rolling hills - Lisa was in front, in shadow. An overwhelming sense of Pirsig's "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance " came over me. All Good.
Spent the night in Omaha. Up early the next day, just wanted to book to the next stop in McCook, NE, catch up and take a nap. The universe had other plans. I get up at 5:30 every morning to work on my blog. Around 6, I go get a cup of coffee. This morning I was in the elevator and the ride's photographer, Christina got in. Our ride yesterday came up and she asked if 9R and I would have time this morning to do a shoot. She'd find a local place. I said I'd ask Lisa and text her. There will be a book from this ride and we do want to be included so.......yes. We didn't leave until 9:15, but the place we followed Christina and her assistant daughter, Ella, to was nothing short of heaven. We were all brought to tears. It was a mile down a dirt and gravel road just off of I -80. The Holy Family Shrine, gateway to Heaven. "It is situated on a 23 - acre site overlooking the Platte River Valley. Native bluestem prairie grasses have Been re-established. Native perennials highlight the entry and the passage leading to the chapel displaying colors symbolic of a pilgrimage with the Holy Spirit. The paths are natural limestone. The Visitor Center is carved out of the side off hill to evoke Christ's tomb. Light from the center reveals a suspended sculpture. This sculpture represents the shroud of Christ as it fell to the tomb during the resurrection. From the sculpture, water appears. Symbolic of the Holy Spirit, the mystery of the source is perceived to be invisible. As the pool fills with water and we with the Holy Spirit, the outpouring leads us to the Church - and the body of Christ. Exiting the Visitor Center, we see the chapel entry facade, which is made of Western Red Cedar and glass. The upper web members of the trusses interlace like waving wheat in a field, thus reminding us of Jesus who is 'the Bread of Life'. Inside the chapel, water continues to cut through the floor, but splits to each side of the aisle, increasing in volume and velocity. Limestone 'bridges' the water allowing those to enter each pew, recalling our baptism. The water culminates and flows into a pool beneath the alter, symbolically joining our spirituality with the Eucharist. Three members make up each support column, symbolic of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - who support our lives. Glass windows between the columns serve as the chapel walls. The simplistic and modest design is purposeful to suggest how we may live to obtain the beauty and harmony of God's will." The 4 of us spent an hour on our own, exploring in silence and peace, all 4 of us came back with a calmness, with gratitude, with a full heart. I prayed in the chapel and lit a candle for Tommy. We joined back up outside and started our shoot, it was getting late and storms were threatening. Had a great time, I channeled my mother, a TV reporter in Baltimore for many, many years -- hmmm I'm embarrassed to say I don't know exactly how many - will have to ask. I have always shied away from the media, grew up with it, but this trip is all about media attention -- every town --- so Mom, you are with me on this one -- helping me to get through. We spent 2.5 hrs shooting, thus getting a very late start. Lisa was cussing the photographer as we rode in 93.2 degree heat at 5 pm. When she went up to Christina later and damned her, Christina laughed and said you'll get over it when you see the photographs. I had said the same thing. As we rode on rt 6 through Nebraska, concrete corn silos all as one giant building greeted us in almost every town. Interesting note, In Iowa, we had trouble finding fuel with only 10% ethanol. Here we have no trouble finding fuel with no ethanol at all.
Today............ Colorado Springs here we come!!!!
I am beginning to realize the historical importance of this ride. Yesterday, the town of Marion, Iowa had an ice cream social for us in the park. As we rode into town, there were people on the street waving flags, they'd reserved parking for us around the square, had home made ice cream for us. It was so cool. Everyone in the park wanted to talk to someone on the ride. One woman we talked with was a Vietnam vet, she asked me not to repeat her story, and so with respect and admiration for her, I will not share that. Suffice it to say, I will never forget it or her face. A gentleman came up to me after that and starting asking me questions about the ride, he and his wife are riders. He was shy, almost hesitant to ask too many questions. Turns out he owns a craft beer and wine bistro on the square - he pointed to the green awnings - everyone who knows me knows how I reacted to that. About 45 minutes later, 9R and I, along with about 4 others headed over to buy something to take back to the hotel for the night. He was still in the park, so I went back to find him, he was so glad. We all had a great time, see FB photos. Side note here -- it is very frustrating to upload photos to this site, so I am just going to post 1 at the top and the rest to FB.
Every evening after we've unloaded our gear, changed out of our gear, and opened a beer, I go down to tend to stormy's chain, check her fluids, lock her up, thank her and say goodnight. Last night a man in an International Harvester, with greasy shirt and jeans was walking around looking at all the bikes. I introduced myself. He is a diesel mechanic, was driving home from work and saw all the bikes. He loves any kind of engine, so he thought he'd just take a look. We traded stories for an hr. Or more. 9R came looking for me, that led to more conversations. Then a guy on a Harley Sportster pulls up -- shorts, Birkenstocks, Hawaiian shirt, looks like he was freshly showered. He knew about the ride and was disappointed because he missed us at the park. He looked and talked like an earth child. He was Vietnam Vet. The 4 of us talked for another half an hr. Then 9R and I begged off --- still lots to do, already 8:30 pm. We all hugged goodbye, then 9R and I raced for the shower -- we smelled like diesel fuel.
Yesterdays ride was a really good one after the first 88.6 miles of I-88. From there we went back to rt. 30 and the Lincoln Highway, this part of the Lincoln Highway was pretty. The day before we were on rt 30 most of the day -- it was boring and lots of lights -- 9R and I made a competition of the lights -- who could get through without having to put a foot down. We both rocked it. We stopped in Fulton to see an authentic Dutch windmill right on the Mississippi. The stories of windmills are fascinating ones. I loved this stop. From Fulton we crossed the Mississsipi on a two lane bridge and headed W on rt. 136, the Grant Wood Byway - Grant Wood was an American painter from Anamosa, Iowa. He is best known for his "American Gothic" which is in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. The byway named for him is fun. It runs through beautiful Iowa cornfields, with scattered farms, all neat and tended. The corn right now is "as high as an elephant's eye and it looks like it's going clear up to the sky." Gently rolling curves abound and just a scattered truck here and there. It was heaven. Best riding of the trip to date, says 9R. I have to agree.
That led us to US 61 and The National Museum of Motorcycles. Another huge welcome and lunch --- Ceasar salad, grilled chicken, pulled pork, fresh fruit! Lisa and I had a blast in this museum ---- This used to be in Sturges, but the town wasn't very cooperative and it was going to be closed. The owner of J&P Cycles, John took on the museum's $70,000 debt and moved it here to his home town. He has since sold his cycle business and is not in great health, but he was there to welcome us to lunch. He loves everything related to motorcycles and this museum reflects that. It is well laid out, the exhibits are fun and interesting, even if you don't know anything. It is filled with love of life and the adventures that brings.
neither one of us have seen so many dead skunks on the road
Why have hotels stopped putting fans in bathrooms? The only thing I can come up with is they are trying to make it harder to smoke in rooms???