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About Me

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Motorcycling has been a life changing experience. I hope sharing the info and pictures on the Blog gives you some idea how impressed I am with the experience, travel and the people I have met. Made new friends especially among Riders here in Orange County. Special recognition to Johney (Wrench)-helps with all the maintenance stuff+rides, plus other great riding friends: Ken Y., Luis V. & Minita, Chuck & Patty, John R., Joe, Carolyn, Gregg, Charlie & Carol, Rick, Stan P., Ed & Susan P., Barry, plus Terry, Bob B., Brian H., Glenn, William & Daveta Jo, Bob (Concho) and others. ************* DISCLAIMER: This is my personal write-up (Blog) of motorcycling news, rides and events that I am involved with in some way and not affiliated with any group, organization or club that might be mentioned herein. There should be no confusion regarding the fact these are my personal comments and not those of any other entity.

Amazing scenery, great ride, wonderful time.

Amazing scenery, great ride, wonderful time.
Monument Valley, Utah-9/2011 photo by Johney Harper!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

6 days of amazing sights in Colorado and Utah

The trip to Colorado and the Beginner Bikers Forum-annual Potato Ranch Rally meeting in Durango is on and even a 2 day stay in the hospital getting pumped with IV fluids is not going to stop me this time.  Recovery was rather painless once I got out of the hospital (see previous blog report) and with 3 days to pack and get everything ready for the 6 day road trip over 2,000 miles on my recently reacquired 2009 Road Star we are going for it.  The trip will start out with Wayne and I in what I term Group 1, and three other riders, including Phil, his father John and Adam a friend of John’s, designated Group 2.  John is bringing his recently acquired BMW CHP auction 1150 pulling a trailer he found in salvage and has put together an interesting and useful trailer package that will really help with their ambitious plan to camp out most every night along the way and at the Potato Ranch Rally-as it is called.  The entire one wheel trailer could fit in one of our STAR members trailer with room left over.

Our 6 day daily ride schedule will look something like this:

  Day 1.  Leave home, Arrive Flagstaff, AZ for overnight stay, via I-40.
  Day 2  Arrive Durango, CO, check in and head for the Potato Ranch-Jo’s Place.
  Day 3  Ride the Million Dollar Highway- CO 550 or at least some of it.
  Day 4  Depart Durango heading for Torrey Utah –overnight stay.
  Day 5  Ride Hwy 12 then overnight in Las Vegas NV, location to be determined.
  Day 6  Arrive home.

Our very first meeting as a ride group will be at Molly Brown’s in Victorville on Thursday May 31, 2012 at 7:30AM.  When I meet Wayne to ride to Molly’s there is a pleasant surprise to see John Ruhland going along for a breakfast run.  It turns out that 7:30 meeting did not quite work as planned due to Group 2 not arriving until later.  Finishing breakfast we all take off with me in the lead and John as Tail gunner.  All goes relatively smoothly but at our first gas stop it is apparent that Adam does not quite like the idea of group riding or my leading, so we put him in front then Phil, me and the rest following.  He did a good job up there actually. 

Someone asked if Wayne was carrying everyones luggage

Our first major challenge hits us beyond our gas stop in Ludlow with higher and higher temperature until it gets around 114 deg. on our way thru and past Needles, it is really very hot.  Here is where the Kool Vest comes in very handy-a life saver really, but I wind up with a burn on my leg and Wayne is really feeling the effects of the heat as is everyone.   We pulled off at US 95 exit but in Needles not the one in Arizona, when John drops his gloves as we rode off, Phil and Adam turned around and rode back but never found them. We all caught up at the US 95 exit to Lake Havasu, after some food and drink blasted down I-40 with temps still hovering around 114.

 In Williams, AZ-Day one, the three riders designated Group 2, decide they want to see the Grand Canyon so we part company and the two of us continue on to Flagstaff where the motel awaits, while the Group 2 heads off for some extra sightseeing and an unknown campsite location.  That is the last we see of Group 2 until arriving in Durango.

Day two from Flagstaff takes us into Indian Country and Monument Valley through Mexican Hat and then Cortez to Durango.

Last year Johney and I went south and this year going north or east through Monument Valley with Wayne get to see it from the other side. We try and stop where we can for pictures along the way but traffic moves very fast on this road. 

 On arriving in Durango we find our motel, check in and then head over to the Ranch on 12 Mile Road south of Durango on Hwy 550. A lot of riders are already there and I spot some familiar faces. Group 2 does not arrive until late around 8 PM

L-R: Jefe, Ann, Mike (OBX), NutherJeff, Joey (Midori), Shaun (Repeater), Brian (Redheadrider), Christhisguy.  This will help me remember who is who.

Saturday morning Day 3, means breakfast at Christina’s on Route 160 and the whole crew is there, some 24 people all together. 

 We form up in various groups depending on the speed level you wish to participate in. Wayne and I join Bob on his C-50 and one other rider-Chris (as I recall) in our own moderately slow group.

photo by Wayne

Entering the town of Ouray

On arriving in Ouray for lunch about 74 miles into the mountains Wayne and I decide to turn back and do the hard part again, but it is much shorter than going all the way around.  Look at those clouds.

   Going back on 550 turns out to be virtually a different ride than going up as we did.  This is my third time up 550 (Million Dollar Highway) from Durango but my first riding back towards Durango and the curves and twists and the view are really different.
This is the spookiest part of the whole road-550 out of Durango.
We head back for some rest at our motel a Ramada Limited and take it easy for the day. Our room is really quite nice compared to many on-the-road motels, everything works except the fan but not a major item and they have these foam mattresses that sleep great. There is an after the ride dinner at the Ranch with some really great Bar-B-Cue from the Serious Texas BBQ place in town. Really GOOD!

 Sitting around the no-campfire camp

At about this point in the report the scenery- the roads- and photos start getting serious with a total of about 250 pictures. Some comments and observations that occurred to me along the way, these are very dangerous roads due to the fact you want to look at everything and can target-fixate by staring at miles of fascinating geology and huge rock formations, red rock canyon walls, limestone and granite canyons, chasms, cliffs, towering pinnacles, deep vast gorges, water carved river beds and wide vistas and valleys that go forever it seems as you ride the curvy and twisting highways that are beyond spectacular all by themselves.  If someone tells me about a fabulous road they like, my only reply from now on will be Ride Hwy 12 in Utah and then tell me how fabulous this other road is.  It also became apparent that looking at the photos cannot compare to actually experiencing the waves of impressions bouncing aff the huge vistas splashed before you in vibrant colors and textures that almost knock you over and practically take your breath away.

Day 4 Sunday-departure from Durango to head for overnight in Torrey Utah and then Highway 12 to Bryce and Zion Parks (or is that Zyce and Brion?).  Some one at the ranch said the road to Monticello was boring and at the very least I found it  monotonous, but it did get us there safely and in decent time.
 Monticello gas stop

We take a side trip to the Arches National Monument Park for a 9 mile self guided trip to see a couple of the arches. Again there used to be a lot of water here eons ago and it left all this behind.

While at the Arches park I asked the ranger where the next gas stop was and she told me Hite, some 50 miles further on.  OK, will keep that in mind in case.  Lucky I did as the road stretched out much further than anticipated and with only 3.7 gal. capacity Wayne would have run out.  We gassed up in Monticello then rode to Blanding just a few miles down the road and saw a sign that said Hanksville 122 miles, but we had already gone about 27 miles, and then you add the side trip to Arches another 26 miles or so, plus the view points and we are looking at 174 miles before the next gas.  The road from Blanding to Hanksville is some of the most vacant and lonely stretches of the entire trip; there is nothing or nobody out there at all.  Street view on US 95---

 Suddenly just ahead as we near the northern end of Lake Powell, after miles and miles of nothing is a small marina sign-“Hite”and they indicate gas available. We each add a gallon, but turns out I don’t need it. Why they put a 3.7 gal gas tank on that motorcycle is the reason they no longer sell it.

Leaving Hite and traveling around the end of Lake Powell the scenery heaves into view as we round each corner with new sights of canyons, gorges and the Colorado River greet us with blazing reds, yellows and orange colors.  Ahead a scenic view turn-off sign so up we go. We are mesmerized by the huge expansive view of the lake surrounded by cliffs of red walls and amazing edifices. These are some of the best photos of the entire trip in my opinion.

 Leaving Hanksville with gas and a sandwich it’s on to more scenery. It gets frustrating that every time we stop at some view to marvel at and snap a photo or two, up ahead is even more evidence of Mother Nature in all her glory, but we have to keep moving on or we would still be out there.

On the road after Hanksville-a Street View magic photo...
We start entering the Capitol Reef National Park area and the scenery around each corner gets bigger and crazier as the miles pass by.


photo by Wayne

At last the town of Torrey our stop for the night and a surprising meal awaits.

Is that a fancy dish or what ($30), a gourmet chef owns the place and it’s the best eatery in town.

 Day 5 Monday (Day 2 of the return trip) and our big ride down Highway 12 begins. So far the scenery has been mind blowing now the road itself becomes the star attraction, with twists, turns, vast sweeping curves, climbing to 9,600 ft level, narrow paths on top a mountain ridge, canyon walls closing in on the road and more and then on through Bryce and especially directly through Zion Park
A scenic overlook after climbing to the 9,600 ft summit with plenty of curvy tight pavement underneath us but with lots of "tar snakes" to watch for, you know where they seal the cracks with tar.

 Now it’s time for the parks and they don’t disappoint. We just skirt past Bryce but go directly through Zion, into a long tunnel in the mountain and exit out to a gargantuan valley with skyscraper cliffs and towering sheer walls of red and multicolor rock all around.  If you have been there then you certainly know what I am referring to.

 We decide to push on to Las Vegas even though the wind is really blowing out here in St. George Utah after leaving Zion Park, but it means a much shorter ride home on Tuesday so off we go. Wayne arranges for a little nicer accommodations in the LV area and from a couple pictures you might get the idea he has some connections...

This was some adventure to say the least, hope you enjoyed the photos and story.  Check back as occasionally there are additions or corrections.  Comments always appreciated, or just send money.


Carolyn said...

Great photos and naration. So glad you were able to do this ride and love it! Good job. Carolyn

Brian said...

Great blog as always. Enjoyed your photos and your story. Glad you enjoyed your trip.