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Joe Frickin' Friday

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Joe Frickin' Friday

Well, that was a helluva trip. The weather was incredible. I mean that in the constructivist sense of the word, i.e. the weather was not credible, not to be believed. When I went to Torrey four years ago, the daytime highs over the course of the trip generally were in the 80s, and occasionally popped up above 90. This time, I'm pretty sure the warmest temperature I saw on the entire trip was 75, and even that was only briefly on one particular day; the rest of the time the weather was usually in the low 50s, and at times dipped into the low 30s. That kind of crap is to be expected in certain areas of the Rocky mountains, but not on the Great Plains in mid-May, and not in the high desert. Or at least that's what I used to think.


And it rained. Gadzukes, did it rain. And it snowed, and hailed. Plans were changed (and mortal terror instigated) because of the weather. Did I mention the weather was incredible?


Anyway, just gonna post a few pics and a few words; relax, there will be no epic poems today. :grin:


(And yes, Day 1 is kinda weak on pics; expect more on later days.)



Day 1: Saturday, May 14, 2011

Route: Ann Arbor, MI to Lincoln, NE

Distance: 751 miles




The morning of departure was a harbinger of things to come:




7:30 AM, 63 degrees and raining. At least the temperature wasn't bad.


At first.


Two hours later the temp had plummeted to 45 degrees. The slipstream at highway speed can suck a LOT of heat out of you, making you very sensitive to ambient temperature. Before long I had stopped twice to put on more gear, and finally I was wearing everything I had, with the electrics kicking in some makeup BTUs. For the rest of the day, the temperature oscillated between 45 and 55 degrees, but the rain was a constant. The wind picked up a bit as I crossed Iowa, but not the worst I've ever seen.


I won't tell the story of crossing the Great Plains a second time. For that, click here and look up Day 1 and Day 2. Suffice it to say that with such craptastic weather and a lot of ground to cover, I wasn't too interested in taking pics on the first day. The only two highlights worth mentioning were gassing up at The World's Largest Truckstop, and then this picture taken later on at the gas station in Casey, Iowa:





I stopped here for gas on my previous Torrey trip. They really do have grain elevators across the street from the gas station. :grin:


On the Torrey trip four years ago, at the end of the day I arrived at the Super 8 motel in Lincoln first, and Shawn pulled in about 25 minutes later. I thought that was pretty good timing, considering we had each travelled 750 miles on totally separate paths. This time we had the same travel arrangements, but Shawn arrived first – and I arrived while he was still checking in. :Cool:


The Super 8 is nicer than you might think. They put mints on the pillows:






If you're ever in Lincoln, there's big selection of interesting restaurants to be found in their Haymarket district. Shawn and I ate at Buzzard Billy's, which had some decent Cajun offerings. On a previous cross-country trip with Masako, we ate at The Oven, which has really good Indian food so good that we ate there twice on that trip). Lots of other choices there too.



That's it for Day 1. Day 2 will be posted in a couple of days...


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I'm looking so forward to the rest of this ride "tail!" (Even if it isn't going to be long, since I'm a huge fan of your long tales!)

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Joe Frickin' Friday

Day 2: Sunday, May 15, 2011

Route: Lincoln, NE to Louisville, CO

Distance: 499 miles





At the Super 8, the morning after: :rofl:





With only 500 miles to cover and morning temps starting out in the mid-40s, we slept in and ate breakfast slowly, hoping to stall our departure until things warmed up a bit. It didn't work; I think we hit the road around 9 AM, and it was still under 50 degrees (Weather Underground has since reported that the temperature never did start climbing until around noon that day).


You know you're in Nebraska when the door at the rest area has this sign on it:





Shawn is starting to have second thoughts about the whole venture:




Gassing up somewhere in western Nebraska:




Rest of the day? Unventful, except for some clutch trouble (more on that tomorrow). Just a smidge of rain in the morning and some chilly temps, and we arrived at my sister's house in Louisville late in the afternoon.


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Joe Frickin' Friday

Day 3: Monday, May 16, 2011

Route: Louisville, CO to Rocky Mountain National Park and back

Distance: 122 miles





It was that gas stop in Nebraska the previous day where Shawn noticed his clutch lever was getting spongy. I had noticed the same thing with my bike at the end of my first day, but didn't mention it because I thought I might just be imagining it. But it turns out the last 50 miles I rode on my first day were in Nebraska, where the highway speed limit jumps up to 75 (and so I was cruising about 80). Shawn hadn't done any major distance of highway cruising at this speed on his 1200RT until Sunday (our first day of riding together), so that was the first time it had happened to him, too. Apparently there's something about cruising at that very particular speed that causes air to get into the clutch's slave cylinder; it's a known issue. The stop-gap measure on the road is to cut some zip ties and rearrange the hydraulic line to eliminate a high spot that traps air, then orient the bike in a nose-high attitude for a while to let any existing air in the line travel up to the master cylinder and out into the reservoir. So that was the first thing we did on Monday morning.


The first step was to build some risers for the centerstand. Shawn is seen here hammering his fingers into a 2x4, occasionally hitting a nail in the process:





With the carpentry done, it was time for some wheelie impressions:








Shawn gets extra points for his facial expression. :grin:



After an hour or so of sitting, both bikes' clutch levers had pretty much returned to normal. With the weather looking hospitable, we geared up for a short day ride up to Estes Park for lunch, and then up into Rocky Mountain National Park before returning back to Louisville. The road across the top of the park was closed, but you could get as far as Rainbow Curve (elevation 10K feet) for some good photo ops. Instead of taking US36 directly up to Estes park, we headed from Boulder straight up into the Front Range to find interesting twisty roads.


Taking a break in Nederland, with some old earth-moving equipment in the background:





Shawn calls in a favor from another tourist at RMNP:





At Rainbow Curve, our first encounter with seriously deep Rocky Mountain snow:





Lots of chipmunks running around, plus this little guy (a pika):





A snow bunny:





Oh yeah, the mountains were kind of pretty, too:







Coming back down to the lower elevations, we stopped at a wayside to pose with a herd of elk and bighorn sheep:





Shawn surveyed the herd to see which one he wanted to chase down for dinner:





Thankfully Shawn never did catch that elk. Upon returning to my sister's home in Louisville, we headed over to my parents' house where Momma had cooked up a big ol' turkey dinner to celebrate my birthday. (thanks, Momma; it was a good birthday! :clap: :clap: )


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Good stuff :thumbsup:


I miss that part of the country........2012 Torrey or bust!.....or maybe 2012 UNrally or bust! Have to wait and see where it is first :grin:

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Joe Frickin' Friday

Day 4: Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Route: Louisville, CO to Ouray, CO

Distance: 413 miles





The last time Shawn and I went to Torrey, we did two day trips from Louisville into the Front Range, and then took two days to commute from Louisville to Torrey. This time, it was a single day trip, and then a three-day commute, hoping for the opportunity to visit new roads and roads we hadn't seen for a while.


Before departure, I had an opportunity to test-ride my brother-in-law's electric bicycle:








In that second pic, you can see the battery pack hanging behind the rear seat. That powers a brushless DC motor inside the rear wheel's hub. As modest as it looks, this thing has impressive acceleration and top speed. It ain't gonna place at Laguna Seca, but it'll hit 26 MPH without pedaling, and it'll go 16 miles between charges. Not bad at all.


OK, enough fun with the e-bike, it's time for departure. Get ready:





Get set:










We headed up to Nederland again, then down CO119 all the way to I-70. Instead of Eisenhower Tunnel, once again we took Loveland Pass. Why? If you have to ask, you don't ride a motorcycle. :grin:


Instead of Breckenridge and Fairplay, our route this time took us down CO91 through Leadville. At 10,152 feet, this is the highest incorporated city in the entire country. It feels like it, too; the RT's engine was much less ambitious than it had been back in Louisville.


After lunch in Salida, we headed west on US50, where we hit some construction on the approach to Monarch Pass, with a shutdown lasting long enough to take a quick snapshot:




Back at lunch Shawn noticed one of his headlights had burned out (didn't this happen on the last Torrey trip, too???). We stopped in Gunnison for gas, and then set about replacing the bulb:






Whereas this is a relatively easy job on most bikes, it's a serious PITA on the 1200RT. The upper-right side panel has to be removed so that your arm can approach from an anatomically reasonable angle to access the rear of the headlight assembly, and even then, you're still pretty much guaranteed to get your hand cut up on the various zip ties and metal bits in the area. Also, the harness wires are very much in the way even after you pull the plug off of the bulb. Compared to Shawn, I have little girly wrists and forearms, so I volunteered for the job. It still wasn't easy, and I ended up touching the bulb glass at one point, so I had to take it back out and clean it before attempting to install it again. When all was said and done, I was bleeding from several points on my hand and wrist, but Shawn's RT was once again operating at full photon capacity.


After leaving Gunnison, we turned onto CO92, a fine stretch of road that tries to maintain its current elevation by following the contour of every ditch, gully, ravine, valley and gorge, resulting in a spectacular stretch of twisty pavement.


Miles into it and just a few minutes after passing a couple of fully-loaded dumptrucks, we stopped at a scenic overlook, and were slightly surprised a few minutes later when the dumptrucks slowed and turned in to the same overlook:





I was even more surprised when the lead driver pulled the nose of her truck to within maybe ten feet of my bike, a prelude to backing up and dumping her cargo on a nearby gravel pile:





At her closest approach to my bike I gave her my best “terrified” expression, and she got a good laugh out of that. :grin:


BTW, it's a nice overlook, with a clear view to the San Juan Mountains in the south, and to the Gunnison river far below:


(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)




CO92 mellowed out once it pulled away from the river, and then it was a nice scenic cruise through Crawford, Hotchkiss, Delta, Montrose, and finally to our destination for the night, Ouray. Once you're in Ouray though, if you go a quarter-mile in any direction except due north, you run into mountains. The map gives you some idea what's going on:





The town has pretty much expanded as far as it can without bolting structures to the hillsides, and as soon as you get to the south end of town, US550 – the famed Million-Dollar Highway - begins a steep, switchbacked climb to get out of the canyon in which Ouray resides. Standing on Main Street, no matter which way you look there are mountains (and a Shawn :grin:):







From our hotel we took a nice walk through town before settling on the Ouray Brewery for dinner. They sell T-shirts if you're interested (come to think of it, what would Jesus brew?):





The beer there was pretty tasty, though Shawn found the Buffalo wings to be a tad warm (so did I):





As far as tourists go, mid-May was pretty much the off-season. Ski bums and snowmobilers were scarce, and school was still in session, so families from around the country hadn't yet launched their summer vacations, all of which meant the locals were out on the town enjoying some peace and quiet. We had a nice conversation with a retired fellow seated next to us while other local folks relaxed on the swinging seats at the bar:





It was a good end to a great day's ride.


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Well, that was a helluva trip. The weather was incredible.


Heh. I almost stopped in Torrey on my way back to Portland from Denver. Ran out through the rain and snow, hung out with family, returned through a small break in the snow, to hit more snow heading into SLC. Got a dry day and rode about 750 to home- happy to not be applying anti visor fog goop at every gas stop and watching my gear indicator freak out due to water contamination.


I've said it 100 times this year, I don't know how I used to ride w/o heated gear. Dodging the snow icon on the Zumo weather screen across the Rockies....

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Joe Frickin' Friday

Day 5: Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Route: Ouray, CO to Moab, UT

Distance: 299 miles





Even before going to bed the previous night, we pretty much knew we would have to abandon our original planned route, which was to take us south on US550 through Silverton and Durango, then west and (eventually) north on CO141.




Wednesday's forecast for Silverton (the first town south of Ouray) had called for a high of 23, and 4-6 inches of fresh snow. Never mind riding, these were conditions that would make people think twice about even driving.


Instead, we backtracked north to Ridgeway, then went west on CO62 and CO145. We passed through Norwood, stopping at the same gas station where Shawn and I repaired his 1100RT on the previous trip. On to Naturita, then north on CO141, stopping for some photos along the way:


(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)




Where we came from:





We had a little rain around Norwood and Redvale, not much. However, after this photo stop, it started to rain pretty steadily, dumping on us until we were within a few miles of Delta. Despite our soggy condition, the abandonment of the Million-Dollar Highway gave us an opportunity to ride through Colorado National Monument. Located just outside of Grand Junction, the monument includes a road that climbs up to the top of a cliff, and then winds along the cliff edge for maybe 15-20 miles, passing several scenic overlooks before descending back to lower elevations. All we can say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time. It began raining as we climbed toward cliff-top level, and by the time we got to the top, it was raining hard and steady – and the temperature dropped into the 30s. Not the best conditions for sightseeing on a bike, but we still stopped at a couple of overlooks before we decided it wasn't particularly fun and turned back:







By the time we got back into Grand Junction, the steady rain had evolved into a right proper downpour. We sheltered under a gas station canopy for the worst of it while we scoured the GPS, looking for a lunch place where we could relax for a couple of hours and let the crummy weather pass by. Turns out Grand Junction has a nicely developed Main Street, with lots of shops and restaurants – and a parking ramp with free daytime parking for motorcycles. :clap : We ditched the bikes in the parking ramp and wandered over to the Rockslide Brewpub. Not for the beer this time, as we still had 100 miles to go – but for a sammich and a couple of cups of nice hot coffee. Good food; if you're ever in Grand Junction, check out the Main Street area, and Rockslide Brewpub in particular.


After warming up and stretching out over the course of a long lunch, we headed out – under rain which still had not ended – to cover the final 100 miles to Moab. For the last leg, instead of the straight/short US191, we took long/twisty UT128. The last time we had been on this road was on our 2003 Torrey trip with Ron. Back then, it was a bright sunny afternoon, and the stop by Fisher Towers looked like this:


(photo from 2003 trip)




This time, conditions were less hospitable:








Shawn left his helmet on for that stop, and so did I; it was warmer and drier that way.


Tell you what, Mother Nature is one mean-spirited old lady: the rain stopped just about the time we rolled into Moab, and a couple of hours later we were walking from the hotel to dinner under blue goddam skies:





Dinner itself was a cheeseburger at the Slickrock Cafe. It was...OK. Nothing to write home about. Afterward we stopped at the Red Dirt Shirt shop. Their facility in Hawaii was featured a couple of years ago on Dirty Jobs, and the Moab store has a lovely cardboard cutout of the show's host, Mike Rowe:







After that, it was back to the hotel to rest up for the final push to Torrey the next day.


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Really cool Mitch !


I'm taking the family from Estes Park to the Grand Canyon through Gunnison, Ouray and Durango at the end of July.


Your story/pics has got me chomping . . .

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Joe Frickin' Friday

Day 6: Thursday, May 19, 2011

Route: Moab, UT to Torrey, UT

Distance: 322 miles





First order of business after breakfast? Reassembling my Autocomm push-to-talk switch. During the previous day's rain, the switch had filled up with water and began causing all sorts of bizarre comm behavior. I had disassembled it at the end of the day to give things a chance to dry out:





While fueling up and stuffing more air into the tires before departure, I spotted this fine artwork on the side of a bicycle shop, a giant spider pursuing several cyclists across the desert:




We left Moab around 8:30 under sunny skies, with the temp at a comfortable 50 degrees. An hour later, it was raining again and the temperature had plummeted to just 34 degrees (did I mention the weather was incredible???). Before long the temperature had climbed back up into the 40s, but the rain persisted almost until we had nearly arrived at the top of the Moki Dugway, where we stopped for a few pics:





That's Shawn's picture of me, in which I'm busy taking this picture:


(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)




The panoramic didn't turn out as cleanly as I'd hoped. Shawn's pic does a better job of showing the sheets of rain coming down far ahead to the left:





That pic also shows one of the switchbacks the gravel road goes through during its 1100-foot descent (at bottom-center), followed by the zig-zag path of the paved road across the desert floor (up the right side of the photo). We had considered riding the Valley of the Gods – a 17-mile gravel road purported to pass through some very scenic territory (the dirt road that veers off of that zig-zag and heads toward the downpour) – but the rain so far had sapped some of our enthusiasm, and standing at that overlook and seeing that downpour off in the distance kind of cemented our decision to skip that potential mud bog and just go straight into Mexican Hat for gas and lunch.


After a few minutes at the overlook, a guy on a V-Strom arrived, travelling in the same direction as us. He had no heated gear, not much insulation on his body, no heated grips, and the bike wasn't providing much in the way of weather protection. He had improvised with some duct tape and (I think) aluminum foil to create weather guards for the handgrips:





Even so, as soon as he stopped he took off his gloves and tucked them into a hot space on the engine, and as he chatted with us he kept reaching down to warm his hands on the transmission. Shawn and I soon headed on down the road, and a few miles later as we were carefully navigating around gravel switchbacks, this guy came roaring by at about mach 1, apparently very anxious to get to Mexican Hat and find some place to warm up. :grin:


Mexican Hat...I wasn't sure what to expect as we pulled into town. But there were places to get gas, and places to eat. Two of the restaurants weren't open for lunch, so we ended up at the Old Bridge Grill, down by the river. The restaurant is wedged in between the river and a nearby cliff. Here's the cliffside view from our table:


(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)




Maybe it's just me, but if I saw a big yellow sign that said “DANGER – FALLING ROCK,” I don't think I'd park my car there:





The food there was pretty good. If you order a “Navajo taco,” you're gonna be there for a while, and you better call ahead and put off your dinner reservation:





Feeling much better after a long lunch:





After lunch we headed back up to the top of the Dugway. Not knowing when we'd be back, we stopped on the way up for one more photo op:







From there, the 20-mile run north to UT95 is open-range, and we encountered a few cows who obstinately refused to recognize our right of way. A deer in the road will generally skedaddle when they see you coming from a long way off; cows, as we discovered, will stand and stare, right on the double-yellow line, until you get to within twenty feet of them before they decide that maybe they should find a different place from which to stand and stare.


Cows playing chicken. Huh. They're pretty good at it, too. Not wanting to hit a side of beef at highway speed, we had to slow down a few times, even as low as 20 MPH before the cow decided to moooove off. :grin:


Somewhere in that same stretch of road the rain started up again, and stayed with us for the next hour. The temp also dropped back into the mid-40s. Coupled with a low ceiling of clouds that obscured the tops of the bluffs and mesas, it was pretty dreary riding, except for one particular quarter-mile stretch. I remember looking down and wondering, for a half-second, why the road was light gray instead of its usual black.


That conscious thought was quickly replaced with the visceral comprehension that we were now riding through an inch-thick layer of icy slush.


At 60 MPH.


In a left-hand sweeper.


Looking back on it now, I guess it wasn't that bad because I never felt the slightest loss of traction. But at the time, I was experiencing industrial-grade mortal terror, the kind you get in your nightmares when Frankenstein's monster is chasing you and your legs just aren't working right. Shawn had the presence of mind to pull in his clutch; the best I could manage was going for neutral throttle. Apart from that there wasn't a damned thing we could do but ride it out. We wanted to go straight, but couldn't, because the road was gently arcing to the left; we just HAD to follow the curve of the road and hope for the best.


It was a solid ten seconds before our speed had decreased (and the road had straightened) enough that we knew it would end well. I had never seen anything like that before. You expect this kind of extremely localized snow squall in the mountains, but in the desert? There wasn't any kind of mountain nearby to generate this sort of thing, and yet here it was: mid-40s, in the middle of steady pouring rain, and the skies had dumped a quarter-mile-wide swath of snow. Sheesh.


Shortly after that we made a brief stop at the Hite overlook to let the adrenalin rush fade:





Seems strange to me that there's no bathroom at the Hite overlook. That dictated another stop five miles later at the Hog Spring rest area, which does have a bathroom.


Seeing double:




An unabridged bridge shot:




The rest of the trip into Torrey was pretty uneventful. The weather was mostly cooperative until the last five miles or so, when we started to get really dumped on, actually turning to hail as we pulled into the Chuckwagon.


Wade (Kitsap) captured our arrival:




The view from the handlebar of Ron's GS (me, Shawn, Ron, Wade):




Although the rain soon stopped, the temperature never did come up (Wurty, Brian, Al, Shawn):





This – riders hanging around with a lot of their gear on in an effort to keep warm – was a common sight for the first couple of evenings.


Here Shawn is hijacking Ed's truck to ferry a bunch of waterlogged riders off to dinner at the Rimrock (thanks, Ed! :thumbsup: ):





Back at the Chuckwagon after dinner, a few of the bikes (and a Shawn) in the parking lot:


(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)



They say the cheapest thing on a BMW is the rider. I agree. I got a helluva deal on a rain cover for my seat (a chunk of garbage bag):




All in all a good day: we arrived cold and wet, but rubber side down. :thumbsup:


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Maybe it’s just me, but if I saw a big yellow sign that said “DANGER – FALLING ROCK”, I don’t think I’d park my car there:


To quote Gleno: "It's a rental!"

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Not to hijack Mitch, but how is that Corbin working out for you compared to the one on you had on your 1100? Considering taking the plunge for my GS

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Cows playing chicken. Huh. They’re pretty good at it, too. Not wanting to hit a side of beef at highway speed, we had to slow down a few times, even as low as 20 MPH before the cow decided to moooove off.
You're lucky they mooooved at all, several times I've had to 'bump' cows out on dirt roads to get them to move out of the way of the Tundra. (And Whip's story about me pushing one off a cliff is not true, officer)
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Joe Frickin' Friday
Not to hijack Mitch, but how is that Corbin working out for you compared to the one on you had on your 1100? Considering taking the plunge for my GS


With the backrest incorporated into the passenger's seat, it's farther back than it was on my 1100, but still usable if I tilt it farther forward.


The pilot's saddle seems to be tipped a bit forward, making me slide forward more than I'd like. Not bad, but enough so that I've contemplated lowering the back end of the saddle by maybe a quarter-inch. Haven't actually done it, which tells you it's bearable. I wasn't hurting at the end of a 780-mile day; I guess I can't ask for much more than that.


I'd be careful about extrapolating from the RT to the GS. The saddles on each are fundamentally different, and you'll probably get more relevant info from someone with a Corbin-equipped GS.

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I'd be careful about extrapolating from the RT to the GS. The saddles on each are fundamentally different, and you'll probably get more relevant info from someone with a Corbin-equipped GS.


I agree, but just thought I'd ask considering we both had so much seat time on your old Corbin and both liked it. I don't actually think I have seen anyone with a Corbin on a GS. Seems like most GS guys go for the Sargeant, but I'm hesitant to go that route after my experiences with the RT.


Anyway. Thanks for the info. [/hijack]......carry on

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Joe Frickin' Friday

Day 7: Friday, May 20, 2011

Route: Torrey, UT to Capitol Reef (via Burr Trail) and back

Distance: 137 miles




The weather forecast for the day looked cold and likely wet in most directions. Judging from the radar, the most promising outlook was to the south, so Shawn and I ran UT12 over Boulder Mountain, destined for the Burr Trail. Depending on who you talk to before you ride, the paved portion of the trail starting from Boulder is either 10 or 20 miles long. If you actually ride it though, you discover that the pavement lasts a full 30 miles before you run into the edge of Capitol Reef National Park, where the road turns to gravel. :grin: The first ten miles crosses open territory, with minor twists and turns that travel past some really unique rock formations; the middle ten miles squiggles through a narrow canyon; and the last ten miles hustle across open, slightly hilly terrain. After all that, at the gravel/pavement juncture, there's a turnout where you can park and wander out into the scrub. Searching for a high vantage point, we actually ended up a fair distance from the bikes:





Shawn is seen here leaving Bigfoot tracks to be fossilized for future cryptozoologists: :grin:





Our high ground:





Don't worry, we're standing upright; it's just that the camera was positioned by a drunken, fluorescent monkey. :dopeslap:


If you're curious about the local geology/history, I took pictures of the roadside plaques here. and here.


On the way back up the trail to Boulder, we stopped at a few spots in the canyon for pics. Here at the first stop, Shawn accidentally dug a muddy trench with his rear tire (his front tire did some of the digging as well):







At a stop further up the canyon, we saw a massive arch in its formative stage (Shawn nailed the best photo of it :thumbsup: ):





Yes, those are full-sized trees beneath it; it's a big arch. Come back to this spot in a few millennia, and we may have a fully formed arch to look at.


After climbing out of the canyon, we stopped for one more batch of photos:




(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)




In the above photo, you can see how narrow the canyon is in comparison to the road.


A close-up of the peculiar texture on a rock I saw at that overlook:





For scale, those little divots are each approximately 1/4" across. Strange.


At the end of the trail in Boulder, we stopped for lunch at the Burr Trail Grill. For me, a pulled pork sandwich topped with fennel jam and stewed tomatoes. Severely good food, and a cozy dining room with big windows that afford a great view of the area; I heartily endorse the BTG for anyone passing through Boulder around lunchtime. :thumbsup:


After lunch I was hoping to ride further down UT12 to Escalante, but Shawn and I both agreed that the clouds over Boulder Mountain looked like they might be dropping a load of snow on our return route very soon, so we decided to head straight back to Torrey. Once we got up on the mountain proper, we could see that the weather was probably going to cooperate, so we stopped at a couple of overlooks:





Interesting to learn that the 37-mile stretch of UT12 north of Boulder was unpaved until 1977 – and after that, it took fully eight years to complete the work:


(click on image to open a full-size, hi-resolution version – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)




This was a significant achievement. The original mud/gravel road was only open from late May to early November; the rest of the year, travelers had to detour a whopping 200 miles through Panguitch to get from Boulder to Torrey. Clem Church was the Utah transportation commissioner who oversaw the project; when he died in 1989 – just four years after its completion – officials renamed this stretch of road the “Clem Church Memorial Highway.” Earlier in his career had had also helped develop UT95. Next time you're leaning into a curve on one of these incredible roads, take a moment to give Clem a silent “thank you.”


A later stop at another overlook, this time with the Henry Mountains behind us:





We shoulda left our helmets on for this one, cuz man, it was getting COLD out there.


We arrived back at the Chuckwagon in late afternoon, and spent the rest of the day chatting with folks and relaxing, alternating between beer (to stay happy) and coffee (to stay warm).


A fine beer for the great state of Utah:





The cigar aficionados were present in large numbers. A representative few:





I don't like smoking cigars, but I like the smell of other people nearby smoking cigars. Weird. :confused:


Chilling, quite literally, outside the general store:





A local resident stopped by with a dog carrier on his quad, making new friends:





Wurty and I get our clothes done by the same tailor:





Are you a girl? Do you ride like one? Then this license plate frame is for you (digits censored to protect the guilty party, but you know who you are...):





Step 1: open cabin door.

Step 2: snap photo.

Step 3: close cabin door.




That's about enough fun for one day.


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Goodness gracious! An absolutely wonderful ride report (again), Mitch. :Cool: The trek you traversed reminds me of how often I forget (!) what an amazing place southern Utah is. This particular chapter of your tale on Burr Ridge Trail brings back LOTS of memories. Thanks!




I've been to Torrey twice, but never when the rest of you yahoos are in attendance. One of these days I need to make it to one of these gatherings. SOON! :grin:

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Joe Frickin' Friday

Day 8: Saturday, May 21, 2011

Route: Torrey, UT to Fairview, UT and back

Distance: 342 miles





Our second day ride from Torrey took us up Sweeper Madness (UT72) and then through Huntington and Fairview Canyons on UT31 over to Fairview. The weather was sunny, and it even warmed up enough to remove a layer of gear after a couple of hours – a welcome change from the weather we had had so far on the trip.


Huntington Canyon was a gorgeous piece of territory. The ascent took us from desert scrub at 5700 feet up through pine forests, alpine meadows, arctic tundra, and finally snow barrens as we crossed the summit at nearly 10,000 feet. The road was one big slalom most of the way up, a series of constant-radius turns with great sight lines and zero traffic.


The descent down into Fairview required more discretion. The pavement was a bit of a mess, with slow subsidence of the road bed causing a turbulent ride in some places. In numerous spots we encountered very fresh landslides, with mud and glistening wet rocks the size of motorcycle wheels right in our lane.


In Fairview, a quick photo at the gas station before the return trip:





After climbing back up out of Fairview Canyon, we stopped a few times to check out the snow, which was extraordinarily deep. I did this ride in 2004, and I didn't remember there being any snow on the entire route, but here it was a good 15 feet deep in places:







It was hard to get around in it; if you ventured any distance from the road, you tended to sink quite deeply. This is me, setting up the camera for the previous shot:





At one point Shawn had a camera in one hand, and was unable to break his fall. I guess the soft snow was a mixed blessing in this instance: :grin:





Closer to the summit, we found folks making good use of the snow. Several snowmobilers were enjoying the countryside, and other folks on skis were parasailing up and down an open slope. Dopy me, I didn't stop to take pictures of that. Bad monkey, no banana! :dopeslap:


As the whole trip had progressed, Shawn had become increasingly concerned that his rear tire wasn't going to make it all the way home to the east coast. Once we finished our run back down into Huntington, he decided he wanted to replace it that day, rather than interrupting his tightly scheduled commute from Torrey back to his home in South Carolina. There was nothing in Huntington, but a local feller pointed us toward an ATV shop 20 miles north in Price. We cruised up there, but they had nothing in his size. They referred us to a Honda shop 5 miles further north in Helper; we got there, and unfortunately the only tire they had in his size was a sport bike tire, which – even though brand new – might not have even made it all the way to South Carolina. After a few phone calls to more distant places confirming no joy, we headed back to the larger town of Price to look for lunch.


Believe it or not, lunch was hard to find in Price. The GPS pointed us to a few places that were either out of business or not open for lunch. We finally poked our heads into a bar, where even the locals had a hard time suggesting a place. Finally someone told us to go to the Elks Club a few blocks away, where they had a restaurant. Huh; I would never have thought of that, but without any other viable options, we went for it. When we walked in I felt like we were on the set of the Lawrence Welk show, but it was pretty tasty.


The ride from Price back down to Sweeper Madness was pretty much a straight, untwisty run for 70 miles – but it was a nice, serene ride through pretty territory. Sunny, mild temps, and wide-open views of distant bluffs, mesas, and mountains in pretty much every direction. The detour up to Price had added 20 miles to this return leg, but I didn't mind at all.


On the way back down through Sweeper Madness, we stopped at “Mt. Gleno”. There was a brand-new sign here four years ago:


(pic from 2007 trip)




But now it's gone:




Likewise, we couldn't find the smaller “Mt. Gleno” sign that was hidden out among the rocks four years ago:


(pic from 2007 trip)




Anyone know what happened to them? :confused:


After finishing off Sweeper Madness and a short-but-scenic cruise back to Torrey, we resumed the search for a replacement tire for Shawn. The goal at this point was no longer to change it out, but just to have one ready for when his current tire finally did wear out on the long ride back to South Carolina. With Janet's blessing and Calvin's guidance, we went to Killer's house and dug through his collection of “pre-owned” tires and eventually found a suitable spare for Shawn. I gave him some tools so he could remove his own wheel and get the tire changed at any tire shop (not just a BMW motorcycle dealer), and also some bungees to secure the tire on his bike. As you can see from this pic taken a few days later, he actually did make it home without having to use that tire:




Oh well, better safe than sorry. :dopeslap:


Dinner? Shawn and I walked down to The Restaurant Formerly Known As Brink's Burgers. It's called ”Slacker's Burger Joint” now. Slacker's was OK, and although I only ate at Brink's once, way back in ‘03, somehow I miss it. Chalk it up to nostalgia, I guess. :grin:


I'm no astronomer, but I appreciate a sky full of stars as much as the next fellow. Sunset was at about 8:30 that night, and the moon wasn't supposed to rise until about midnight. That provided a pretty good opportunity for stargazing. The most amazing night sky I've ever seen was from the high camp on Mount Shasta at 12,000 feet about 20 years ago. The nearest town was 5 miles away and 9,000 feet lower; virtually no light pollution, together with an elevation that put us above an awful lot of atmosphere, resulted in a sky that was densely packed with points of light, and the Milky Way galaxy was bloody obvious. I've never seen a sky like that before or since. This night in Torrey (elevation 7,000 feet) was the next best thing; all I had to do was ride a few minutes out to escape the handful of dim lights in town.


I saddled up and rode maybe five or six miles down UT12, found a wayside, and parked the bike. When I shut the engine off, the running lights stayed on for a minute until the accessory relay finally timed out – and then it was really dark. The sky was indeed pretty impressive, although my camera didn't think so:







Unfortunately I had a difficult time enjoying the view because I was extremely paranoid. Being in pitch blackness and knowing I was probably the only person in a 5-mile radius made me feel a bit...vulnerable. It was pretty damn quiet out there, and every faint rustle I heard off in the brush made my imagination run wild, thinking of coyotes, bears, lions, sharks, and facehuggers. After a few minutes of nervous skywatching, I fired up the bike, turned on all the lights, and then put my helmet on and scooted back to the Chuckwagon to call it a night.


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Mitch, the Gleno sign on the notice board was fairly quickly removed, probably by UDOT. The sign behind the rock was probably found by the drunk yahoos who like to hang out in that area because they aren't allowed to drink at home. FB had a new one made and we cemented it into a block of concrete in a slightly more obscured location nearby - thinking about carrying that bag of cement down the hill still makes my back ache. The sign was still there before the snow fell last winter, haven't looked this year yet. FB was here a couple of weeks ago, perhaps he looked.


Re Huntington snow: many places in northern Utah are reporting a snow pack with 10x the normal amount of water content for this time of year, for instance up Logan Canyon they have 43" of snow - in mid June! (981% of normal) There is already flooding in Cache Valley and certainly more to come.


Being in pitch blackness and knowing I was probably the only person in a 5-mile radius made me feel a bit…vulnerable. It was pretty damn quiet out there, and every faint rustle I heard off in the brush made my imagination run wild, thinking of coyotes, bears, lions, sharks, and facehuggers.
Not sure about the facehuggers but I can show you where to find shark teeth in the area, they're a 'few' years old of course. I love that feeling out there, being watched, the occasional small rock fall, a rabbit bursting out of a bush, all invisible. There are about 10 mountain lions in the region, they cover a huge area but I followed fresh tracks up Cohab Canyon one snowy morning, it was following a rabbit. The trail crossed a bare rock area and I couldn't find the exit trail, for the rest of the hike I was looking all around me at the overhanging rocks wondering where it was going to come from.


I love this place!

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Joe Frickin' Friday
Goodness gracious! An absolutely wonderful ride report (again), Mitch. :Cool: The trek you traversed reminds me of how often I forget (!) what an amazing place southern Utah is. This particular chapter of your tale on Burr Ridge Trail brings back LOTS of memories. Thanks!


Thanks, glad you're enjoying the ride-along. This ain't my most intense effort, but I'm happy to be able to give context for some of the pics I took.


I've been to Torrey twice, but never when the rest of you yahoos are in attendance. One of these days I need to make it to one of these gatherings. SOON! :grin:


Get out there for the group thang, definitely. :thumbsup:

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Joe Frickin' Friday

Day 9: Sunday, May 22, 2011

Route: Torrey, UT to Gunnison, CO

Distance: 441 miles





Shawn got up at dark o'clock, and by 6:30 he had started his long solo ride back to South Carolina. I crawled out of bed shortly after he left, and managed to depart at around 8:00. (and for anyone who remembers the last trip, yes, my departure was much less melodramatic this time, thank you very much. :grin: ) I decided to make several stops on this day to catch pictures of the area. At some point it gets a bit weird, because the only subjects to include in the foreground were the bike and/or myself. :grin:


Anyway, here's what I got as I rolled through Capitol Reef and down UT95. Just inside the park:





A few miles west of Hanksville:





I had wanted to visit Goblin Valley State Park just north of Hanksville, so I followed my GPS up UT24. When I got to the spot where the GPS wanted me to turn – about 13 miles north of Hanksville – I was disappointed to see a long, sandy road...and a gate closed across it. :( The GPS showed another potential turnoff 6 miles further up UT24; according to the park's website, that's the main entrance road, and it's paved. I didn't know that at the time, and I was hoping to not burn a whole lot of time here (since I expected to take lots of other pictures later in the day), so I opted not to check it out. That's what I get for not doing more research beforehand.



My weak consolation prize on the backtrack toward Hanksville was this nifty roadside rock formation:


(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)




South of Hanksville, looking south:





South of Hanksville, looking north:





In the canyon, near Hite overlook:





The descent from the Hite overlook (I think I'm about the ninth person in the past month to post a photo of this location :grin: ):





The Colorado River Bridge, with UT95 wriggling away on the far side:





Near Blanding, looking east across Comb Ridge:





At Comb Ridge, staring into the cut:





I stopped for lunch at the MD Ranch Cookhouse in Monticello. It was pretty empty at first, but just a few minutes after I sat down, the church across the street let out and crowds of hungry, well-dressed people began streaming in, many of them pausing to stare at the sweaty, fluorescent monkey sitting in a booth by himself. :grin:


From Monticello, I headed east on US491 (formerly US666 :grin: ) and US 160 to Durango, Colorado. It's mostly a straight shot through slightly hilly farm/ranch land, but whichever direction you look, there are massive mountains on the horizon:


The San Juans were where my next waypoint.


Along the way, I took a nice detour on CO184 that bypassed Cortez and put me on US160 in Mancos. This is a less-travelled road with a few more twists and turns than the main highway. A pic next to the Narraguinnep Reservoir, with the San Juans visible in the distance:





A note, to no one in particular, regarding a missed photo opportunity:

the next time you see a bloated, dead cow in the middle of a field with no less than ten turkey vultures perched on it, try to remember that you have a very capable zoom lens on your camera, and you really don't need to get so close. I passed by this exact scene shortly after leaving the reservoir, and then I turned back to take a picture. I stopped by the side of the road, maybe thirty feet from the cow. The vultures, alarmed by my proximity, took to the air and refused to settle back down on the cow until I left. Bummer; it was a pretty cool scene. They hadn't begun eating yet, they were just...sitting there on the cow. Weird.


In Durango, a local hotel was somehow maintaining a sense of humor in the face of stiff competition:





150 feet away – just beyond the tree – is a Marriott Residence Inn. :rofl:


A little past those hotels, I turned left on US550, bound for points north. Shawn and I had skipped this road several days ago due to heavy/fresh snowfall, but by this time the weather was more mild, and the road was reported to be dry.


My camera failed to do justice to the scenery I encountered, but here are a few shots anyway:







Coal Bank Pass, the first of three between Durango and Ouray:





There's a rest area here, but at the time the bathroom was, um, inaccessible:





Coming down from Coal Bank:


(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)




At the top of Molas Pass (the second of three), the snowpack was at similar levels, and snowmobilers were having the run of the place:





You can see their tracks in the meadow, and the sleds themselves are visible near the top left corner.


The descent from Molas Pass into Silverton:


(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)




Red Mountain Pass (the third of three) lies just north of Silverton. After crossing the pass, I stopped on the descent to catch these signs:







Mining companies are often villainized for the destruction they wreak upon the countryside in pursuit of the almighty dollar. It remains to be seen whether the remediation work they are doing here will provide meaningful improvements in water quality, but I thought it was interesting to see them point out that the mining industry, however problematic it may be for the environment, has played a major role in the prosperity and economy of the country.


The particular stretch of road that is famously referred to as the “Million Dollar Highway” – no guardrails, steep hillsides (or overhangs) above, and steep cliffs below – lies further to the north, in fact just south of Ouray. As much as I wanted to stop and take pictures in that stretch, there were several large signs declaring in no uncertain terms, “AVALANCHE ZONE – DO NOT STOP FOR NEXT X MILES.” Given that there were waysides here and there, I briefly considered stopping for pics anyway – except the snowpack high up on the hillsides really was pretty thick. And there really were fresh rocks here and there on the roadway. And it really was a long way down if you got knocked off the edge of the road. So, sorry for the lack of pics from this stretch. If you ever get an opportunity to ride it, make sure you do so.



After finishing the descent into Ouray, I carried on north to Montrose and then headed east on US50 to Gunnison. Somehow I managed to dodge this big thunderstorm near Blue Mesa Reservoir, just west of Gunnison:


(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)




At a couple of points during my eastward run I came across freshly dampened roads, but I never got rained on and managed to arrive in Gunnison unscathed.


I stayed at the same Holiday Inn Express that hosted the ‘06 Unrally. :grin:


Dinner: if you're looking for Mexican food in Gunnison, check out Las Palmas, right in the center of town on US50. I had a great meal there, and the staff was friendly. The waiter who served my table owned a Honda Shadow and was very curious about my BMW and all the gear I was wearing, so we chatted for a while about bikes and rides. He much preferred riding in the US to riding in Mexico. :grin:


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Joe Frickin' Friday
Very cool Mitch but I really need to see the dead cow shot! :)


Well, that makes two of us; I'm still kicking myself for screwing up that shot!



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The weather was incredible. I mean that in the constructivist sense of the word, i.e. the weather was not credible, not to be believed.


It hasn't changed much, expecting 3Putt today



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I've been to Torrey twice, but never when the rest of you yahoos are in attendance. One of these days I need to make it to one of these gatherings. SOON! :grin:


Get out there for the group thang, definitely. :thumbsup:

Maybe next time you and Shawn head west I'll tag along and watch your backs (and your dust). I could easily meet either of you on 80 somewhere seeing as though I live under 30 miles north of it!


Your panoramas are magnificent especially seeing as though you don't use a tripod or a panoramic tripod head. I use one at work and really should carry it when I travel. Tomorrow I think I'm going to try and import a few of yours into the software that turns them into a QuickTime movie that you can then pan and tilt with while viewing.

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Joe Frickin' Friday

Day 10: Monday, May 23, 2011

Route: Gunnison, CO to Broomfield, CO

Distance: 257 miles





My last day of riding in the Rockies was relatively brief, just 257 miles taking me over Monarch Pass, through South Park basin, over Hoosier and Loveland Passes, into Central City, and then east to spend a couple of nights with my parents in Broomfield.


Looking north across South Park basin, elevation 10K feet, with the Front Range visible on the horizon:





For over twenty years now, Parker and Stone have made this place famous. The town of Fairplay (at the basin's north end) has been mentioned more than once on the show, and its residents are well aware of their fame:





After leaving Fairplay, there was a long, scenic climb up and over Hoosier Pass. A view down the valley toward Alma and Fairplay:





Looking up toward Hoosier Pass:


(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)




After the descent into Breckenridge, I made my way up to the top of Loveland Pass where I spotted this monster, too big to pass through the Eisenhower Tunnel:





To the left of the truck you can see the last of a long line of vehicles that roared past when he pulled over. It's a six-mile climb from the east side with precious few passing zones, and with a load like that, I'm betting he moved at a snail's pace. :grin:


Also beyond the truck you may notice large quantities of snow. They have had record snowfalls in parts of Colorado this past winter. To better grasp just how unusual this snow cover is, check out this picture from a Torrey trip I took back in 2004:





That's Rainy next to the avalanche warning sign, with Eebie climbing the stairs (and I think that's actually me in front of Eebie). OK, so zero snow seven years ago? Check out that same sign now:





The steps up the hillside are buried, as is the fencing that forms the base of the sign. It's late May, and there is literally several feet of snowpack here.


Oh yeah, the barefoot woman: she had come up from Denver to show a friend of hers around the area. She was having trouble walking on the snow in her sandals, and when I asked her to take a pic of me, she removed her sandals so she could get around better. I laughed at the disparity between what she was wearing (jeans and a shirt) and what I was wearing (multiple layers of insulation and waterproofing), and insisted that her friend take our picture together. :grin:


That was enough sightseeing for me, so I saddled up and zipped through the remaining miles to my parents' house; good food awaited me there, but there was also a lot of work to be done.


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Joe Frickin' Friday

Day 11: Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Route: Broomfield, CO to Broomfield, CO

Distance: 3 miles (I gassed up the bike at a nearby station :grin:)




Did I mention there was a lot of work to be done?


This was my task list.


I kid, I kid, it wasn't that heavy. My parents had moved here recently, and had a set of odd jobs around the house that needed to be taken care of; I'm glad I could be there to do this stuff for them. Some of the work got done last week on my birthday – Shawn, my brother-in-law and I had worked together to hang a set of cabinets in the laundry room – but today I was mostly on my own.


First, the clerical work:

  • program the house's external keypad to open all the garage doors
  • program the garage door opener in my mom's new car to open all the garage doors
  • give my mom a lesson in how to operate her new car (seriously, those Jags are pretty damn complex, and the manual is a piece o' crap...)

That was it for the mental stuff. After that, it was all sweat:


The cabinets.

All through the house, I installed door closers on all of the cabinet doors. Here's one:





Look up near the top of the door:





That gray plastic finger at the top corner acts as a viscous friction brake, preventing the door from slamming shut. There were about fifty of them, but they installed pretty easily: hold in place, tap the screw to make a mark, drill the mark, drive the screw in. They're pretty cool devices, and one of these days I may end up putting them in my own kitchen.


The fence.




The builder had used cheap, tiny nails to assemble a perimeter fence out of nice heavy cedar timbers. Although the house was only a few years old, many of the nails were already backing out. After a close inspection, I replaced a lot of them with heavier, longer nails with much better holding power.


The Sprinkler.





One of the sprinkler heads (near the rocks in this photo) was sticking up a bit too high and was in danger of accidental decapitation by the lawn mower. I dug around it, and below it, and along the supply pipe for a foot or so, allowing us to shuffle some dirt around and sink it a couple of inches deeper. I was surprised at how deep the pipe is buried, a good foot or so underground.



Tree trimming.

My parents have a pretty nice view of the Front Range from their house, but their neighbor's tree had been sending up tall shoots that were starting to block the view. They asked their neighbor if I could trim the tree; the neighbor, a nice retired lady, was delighted that somebody would trim her tree free of charge, and so I went to work, trimming it back aggressively so that it would be quite a while before it grew tall enough again to obscure the mountains.


Caught up in the momentum, I also trimmed the tree immediately outside her kitchen window, trimming it well back to let lots of light into her kitchen:





Finished with the work, my dad and I hauled away the trimmings. The neighbor was thrilled to have her trees brought into a civilized condition, my parents were thrilled to have their mountain view restored for the next several years, and I was happy to get some exercise; it was a win for everybody. :grin:


The Footpath.

Around the house, the original landscaping mulch was bark chips, but the wind moved that stuff around too much. My parents had had it replaced with fist-sized rocks. They stayed put nicely despite occasional high winds, but they were difficult to walk across without twisting an ankle, so it was deemed necessary to build a walkway. After a trip to Lowe's and Home Depot, we returned home with the requisite materials:





After that, it was down to just a few easy steps. Step one, clearing a path through the stones:





Steps 2, 3, and 4: laying down a bed of leveling fill, placing the slabs, and filling the gaps:





And yes, upon completion of work the beer is mandatory. :grin:


All in all, a good day's labor. Dinner? Mom's corned beef and cabbage; good stuff. :thumbsup:


The evening's entertainment? Casablanca, which I'd never actually seen before. I haven't seen many “classic” films like this, but I quickly recognized many of the catchphrases that long since become embedded in pop culture; neat to finally see the source material. :grin:


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Joe Frickin' Friday

Day 12: Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Route: Broomfield, CO to Iowa City, IA

Distance: 781 miles





Well, the last two days of the trip were kind of like the first two days in reverse. :grin:


Leaving Broomfield at 8 in the morning, things started out mild enough – mostly cloudy, temps in the mid-50s, light winds. After about 90 minutes, another rider on an R1200RT merged onto the highway, and we played leapfrog for the better part of an hour before I stopped for a break. He had a NY license plate, “RKSBMW” if I remember correctly. Anyone know who this feller is?


During the morning the wind blowing out of the north had been picking up a little bit, but my direction of travel – northeast – made it only a very modest crosswind. Once I got into Nebraska, the winds picked up even more, and my direction of travel – more directly to the east – made the wind into a pure and brutal broadside, the likes of which I had not experienced before. The official data from Weather Underground looks like this:





Fans of Murphy's Law will not be surprised to learn that I passed through York right around 1:30 PM. It was a lot of work to keep the bike going in a straight line, and not just near York; the heavy winds were with me for a couple hours before and after that. By the time I had reached Des Moines, the wind had died down to 20-25 MPH, but it had also changed direction and now had a major headwind component. By the end of the day in Iowa City, I had experienced my worst fuel economy ever on this bike:





Just a few days ago in the mountains, MPG was around 46. Granted, it's usually in the low 40s for flat, windless interstate highway cruising, but 36.7 is quite a drop even from that.


That night in Iowa City, I picked a hotel with a hot tub; I needed it. :grin:


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Didn't you look at his bike while we were there? LOL. Or, did you simply pawn if off as just another generic R12RT? If you did, you should really know better than that with Mitch. I mean, the GPS mount alone should clue you into the fact that the bike is really different! I think it doubles as a roll bar for the front windscreen. :/:rofl:



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