After checking my credit card balances, plus the fact I could hardly move, I realized it was no dream but a real trip that I not only imagined or dreamed but it actually happened. Here's the story. Every year for the past 3-4 years some Beginner Bikers forum members meet at the home of Jo and Gregg in Durango Colorado and it has become known as the Potato Ranch Westside Rally. Ken and I are the only Californians and I'm the only California forum member to ever make it. This year it took place with about 15 members and guests showing up for the festivities including a day long ride into the mountains and a Bar-B-Que beef brisket, potato salad and beans dinner back at the ranch. There are lots of details and some of it covered in the pictures with labels of explanation. Map shows all the stops on the way there and we took the same route back but spread the stops out a bit longer.
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A first stroke of good luck was finding my riding partner Ken, through the Pashnit Motorcycle Roads forum, where on reading my forum write up of the trip he decided to come along for the ride.
Ken turns out to be a former water skiing National Champion, excellent motorcycle rider and all around multi-talented person that really helped make the trip as successful as it was.
He even has his own nearly 1/2 mile water skiing lake in his back yard. Without Ken this trip would never have happened as I was not going to do that alone. This is Diesel, a big gentle dog.
Thursday, June 4,2009 Our first day on the road heading for Flagstaff, AZ as our over night stay of a 2 day ride. Ken is on a 2007 Suzuki C90T (1,500 cc)and is carrying all the usual stuff plus several pieces of camping gear including a good size tent, camp stove, sleeping bag, small ice chest, and a folding camp chair. He is really ready for two nights of camping at the Potato Ranch. There are 4 pounds of bungee cords holding all this together it seems. I have my sissy-bar bag stuffed with clothing and things plus bottles of water and Gatorade, but brought along a green duffel bag with my winter jacket, extra pair of jeans and room for dirty clothes on the way back. For this trip I wore my Australian Draggin Jeans with some hip inserts and the knee armor just in case.
Arriving in Kingman we are both getting low on fuel since we did not stop after filling up in Ludlow. Gas up and stop for lunch at the Cracker Barrel Restaurant I ate at on the Laughlin trip. I live for their turkey lunch special. Back on the road stop in Seligman for gas.
and then on to Flagstaff. The views along the road are of wide open stretches of desert and rolling hills and mostly uninteresting vistas. The road is good, traffic fairly light with trucks the main obstacle course to deal with. I'm in front and the pace is about 75 mph or so. Arriving in Flagstaff I had mapped out where the motel is but still never know if I will spot it and follow the correct road, but we hit it dead bang right on.
We stayed at the Econolodge in Flagstaff and Ken made dinner on his camp stove. Ken's dietary requirements are a bit limited but dinner was good. Next morning Friday and Durango lies ahead.
Friday, June 5, 2009We head out of Flagstaff and the sweeping views just open up and we stopped for a couple pictures.
Before getting to Kayenta we stopped to take a few pictures of this canyon view, it's even more spectacular further on but the wind started to pick up a bit and we press on.
Heading up route 89 to connect to Route 160 we hit some breezes but no real wind and it's somewhat cloudy keeping the heat level down. Did I say no wind? When we hit Kayenta, the gateway to Monument Valley, we both start to question our sanity because of the high wind.
There is a lot of dust in the air due to wind pushing across the road, not severe but up at least a notch or two. We decide to push on with no sightseeing into Monument Valley. We do stop at 4 Corners and cover Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.
The wind and dust both diminish in intensity and the trip just gets a bit warmer. Then we hit Colorado and the road disappears. A stretch of construction with no pavement, just hard pack gravel. From here it's into Cortez and next stop Durango, CO and the Potato Ranch, (at the end of a gravel road).
On arriving we see a couple members already here with more to arrive over the next few hours. Several members show up and I notice there are only three cruisers, mine, Ken's and Bob on a 2004 Suzuki C50 the rest are various sport or sport tour models.
Suddenly the wind picks up and Ken's now set up tent is really getting whipped around.
Just as I ask him how much wind can it stand a corner comes loose and we have the answer. Derick, my roommate in town finally arrives and the whole group heads into town for dinner at Francisco's.
I ordered enchiladas for some dumb reason, like I need spicy food, am I losing my mind.
After a very nice dinner and in the dark he and I head to the Quality Inn just a few miles up the main road. Ken and the other campers came in a vehicle and are now back at the ranch with all his camping gear and tent plus the facilities in Jo and Greg's home. I never really asked him how it went but doubt he had any problems. Camping is not on my list of things to do or try so the motel was fine.
Where did I get the idea for this trip?From the very start of the ride I was questioning how in the world did I wind up doing this. It's way beyond my comfort zone, doing something I have never even thought about, going somewhere with no idea of success and not a clue if we can make it back. Will the weather hold up, will it rain, what about wind, my stamina, flat tire, crazy drivers on and on. The only thing I could relate it to was how early explorers trying to reach the North Pole heading out into the unknown must have felt. Even now I am in awe of the fact that this trip really happened. Plus there is this ride into the mountains and several 10,000-11,000 ft. high passes, what was I thinking.
Saturday June 6, 2009 We all meet for breakfast at 9 AM, gas up and get ready to head north out of Durango into the mountains.
It gets steep but not really difficult so far, and we wind up at our first pass over 10,000 feet.
Red Mountain pass pic: Clockwise from Mrs Taterhead.. (no, not Jo, look closely for plastic potato head)
El Jefe (asp), Bobthearch, Ken (from Pashnit.com), Richard66, Josh (morgydan), Charlie (expatbrit), Mike (Bull), Jo (MsPPH), Brian (beveritt), Jeff#2 (wraith), Derick, Todd (rmrr), Ruthann (wonderbunny)keeping track of all the mountain pictures is getting jumbled
We continue on toward Silverton nestled in the bottom of a valley. Along the way wecame to the stretch in the road that could only be described as a South American Road of Death with no margin for error.
Once through all that and more we came into the Town of Ouray, another town surrounded by imposing mountain on almost all sides.
I wonder who lives here and why. A lady in a store where I bought a couple pins was from Long Beach and said the came to Ouray a couple times and decided to live there.
After lunch we saddle up and continue on with just one real photo stop and supposedly a sighting of an Elk...never saw it my self. Our group of cruisers fell behind except for Ken who got caught up with the fast group and stuck with them the whole way back. We wound up getting back to the ranch before them as they stopped in Telluride but we just turned a corner and kept on going.
The evening wound down with a great BBQ Brisket, potato salad and bean dinner mentioned at the beginning, I headed back to the motel and packed up.
Sunday and the trip home Our two day trip back starts with continental breakfast at the quality Inn and then off we go. We hit the stretch of no pavement beyond Cortez and made that OK but I never saw the turn-off for 4 Corners where we stopped on the way up. I think I was having a bit of trouble with altitude adjustment as I was not the sharpest and our pace was much slower. After we passed Kingman and it warmed up a bit I started to wake up and let Ken take the lead and the pace picked up. We deciced to head for Seligman, AZ
and stayed at a cozy older courtyard motel (THAT'S NOT IT) and ate at the Road Kill Cafe (see all the pics on Picasa) Monday and we take off for Newberry Springs and for me, on to Placentia.
Our last gas stop in Arizona for cheap gas. One thing that I noticed along the way is the openness of the area. The views on the desert just seemed to go on and on, plus there were no windows or door pillars to block the view.
Total miles from door to door for all 6 days was 1,872 miles. A record for me on several levels. Most one day miles, longest total trip, Highest altitude on a motorcycle, and most unbelieveable trip ever. CLICK THE PICTURE BELOW TO SEE ALL THE PICTURES!