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Westward Ho -- Torrey and Beyond

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RandyShields

Westward Ho Trip Blog – To Torrey and Beyond

For many years, I have thought of riding across the US.  After my jaunt to new England last summer, I got a lot of criticism for a lack of reporting and photos, so I plan to remedy that with this trip to Torrey and the west.  It is a planned 22 days, 9,000 miles, and will capture the remaining 27 states I haven’t yet ridden in to let me check off all the lower 48.  Departure date is Thursday May 9, and preparations are well underway.  I will clip some states, but others will get a full workout.  And when not staying in hotels, I will mooch off of family and friends to save on expenses

Day 1 – Thursday May 9.  Charlotte to Birmingham, AL

 

Day one began with a lovely send-off from Laura, with a photo of me with the pooches.  Laura must have seen a copy of my golf trip checklist, because she came out with a small roll of toilet paper to add to my toiletries.  You never know.

It was an 0 dark 30 start to beat the ugly storm approaching Birmingham.  The temps were nice – low 70’s but lots of traffic and construction on I 85.  Getting around the construction and truck traffic in Atlanta took an extra hour.  I hate semis.

 

At a gas station along the way (where I devoured the tasty breakfast sandwich Laura made for me), a local southern mother got out of her mini-van and declared in a heavy drawl:  BMW?  I didn’t know they made motorcycles.  I was so taken aback, my witty response was yes they do, as she hustled the kids into the QT.

I raced to get to Birmingham as the storm front looked like it was closing in.  I came up 20 miles short, as I huddled under a Valero canopy as the wind whistled, the rain came in sideways and 1.5 inches dropped in 45 minutes.  After that, it appeared to let up, so I headed for the hotel, only to see tornado warnings on my GPS.  Just a bit disconcerting.  The forecast looks like more rain coming across the south for the next few days, so I need to get used to it.

 

I had never stayed in an Extended Stay America before, but definitely don’t like their business model.   No roof over the motel driveway to park under in the rain.  Crappy room with no shampoo, ice bucket, coffee maker or hangers.  Oh yeah, the non-smoking room had clearly been smoked in.  For the price, I was actually OK with most of that, but dammit, I shouldn’t have to drink my bourbon neat from the bottle.

 

Talked to the bartender who noticed my jacket and BMW ON magazine. He grew up riding sport bikes, and still did, so we had a good motorcycle conversation.  He told me that they had a separate speed control force on the Natchez Trace, so watch how fast I was going.  Later, had dinner at a Thai place with Laura’s aunt, niece and her husband, so we had some nice catching up. 

 

Just to be safe, I double checked my motel reservations for the rest of the trip, and no Extended Stay America rooms.  Only super luxurious Super 8s and Motel 6s from here on out.

 

Ride today was 405 miles.  New states = 0 (Rode through NC, SC, GA and AL, but they don’t count.) Total miles: 405

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TEWKS

Have a great ride Randy, love the as they happen ride tales! Will be watching. :thumbsup:

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RandyShields

Day 2 – Friday May 10.  Birmingham, AL to Natchez, MS

Day 2 started as a bit rainy and cool, but turned foggy and misty for the 150 mile ride to Tupelo.  After gassing up and getting breakfast at a Huddle House, I headed through town to jump on the Natchez Trace Parkway (NTP).  Breakfast was tasty and I had a young waitress with a nice smile that was learning the trade from her mother who seemed quite proud of her (an owner?).  The NTP is a raised and gentle roadway, meandering through the MS countryside, but the concern was another nasty storm almost to Jackson, the halfway point of the ride.  Watching the radar map, and trying not to be a captive of my route, I jumped off the road after 75 miles and dashed west to I 55, where I rode south to West MS, and let the front hit from under another Valero canopy.  (Who’s on first?)  There were a lot of the locals around, likely poor and out of work looking at their lack of teeth and cars in disrepair.  Just makes you appreciate what we have to be employed (or retired) and comfortable enough to ride expensive motorcycles.  I also here discovered that I had forgotten to put the top back on my drink bottle, letting an entire can of Red Bull spill out onto the contents of my topbox, including my laptop.  Luckily, it saturated the paper and magazines there, with most ending up in the Alaska leather pad, which has been drying out on the motel radiator for a while.  

Just north of Jackson, I hopped back on the NTP for the final 100 miles to the southern terminus.  The road is a bit boring, somewhat pastoral and wooded, similar to the BRP in VA.  It was slow, with a 50 mph speed limit, but I was able to get behind a few faster moving cars on occasion.  I took some photos at some of the historical markers, and met a bicyclist who was riding and camping, but didn’t seem to have enough gear for a long ride.  At the end, I was in Natchez, a nice, historic town on the Mississippi, where I rode around a bit to get the flavor of the city.  Upon check in at the Super 8 overlooking the river and bridge to LA, the front desk clerk offered to let me park my bike under the portico, a welcome relief that would have been really nice the night before.  The room was a veritable lap of luxury compared to the prior room, including a seated, level toilet, ice bucket, shampoo and coffee maker.  They also serve breakfast in the morning and have a small workout room. 

 

I ate dinner at the Pilot House up the hill, with an even better view of the Mississippi valley and river.  I had a seafood pasta dish with an outstanding sauce.  I also chatted with the manager, who came to Natchez from Las Vegas with the aim of setting up a casino at the hotel, a former Ramada property.  When that funding did not come through, some locals bought the hotel and she liked the city enough she stayed on.  Ride today was 430 miles.  New states = MS. Total miles 835.

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RandyShields

Day 3— Saturday May 11.  Natchez, MS to Harrison, AR

Left Natchez in a warm 74 degrees, but misty conditions.  After an hour or so, the temps had dropped to the mid-60s, but hovered there most of the day as I dodged intermittent rain showers.  I thought it was going to be an uneventful day until I barely missed another cardinal hit, then had a pair of buzzards launch from the side of the road, with one almost hitting me as I jammed on the breaks to let it rise, like a slow, lumbering B 52 bomber. 

With another approaching storm front, I adopted the tactic from the previous days, and cut the planned ride route short, and headed directly west into the approaching shower, so as to outflank the storm or at least be near an interstate with exit services to protect me in case it was severe.  It wasn’t bad when it hit, but I was reminded of the scene from The Hunt for Red October when Captain Ramius was dealing with an attack from one of his own – “Combat Tactics Mr. Ryan.  The captain closed the distance to the torpedo, so it couldn’t arm itself.  Is that it?  No, now Tupelov is removing the safety features from his weapons; he won’t make the same mistake twice.”  Luckily, the storms this day weren’t as bad as day one, and I eliminated hours of riding in the wet by my combat tactics.

The highlight of the trip was the ride from Hot Springs up into the mountains and down to Harrison.  There are two great sections.  The first is through the Cuatchita National Forest.  It is about 50 miles with nice curvy roads and great scenery.  The second is after Dardenelle, up and over the Ozarks and the Ozark National Forest.  That is like an F 5000 race care compared to the Indy Formula 1 car – a 2/3 replica of the Appalachians, with nice sweepers and lovely scenery.  Unfortunately, it was still a bit rainy so the roads were wet, hampering the ride a bit, but I did find that my sore shoulders and neck disappeared as I had to work hard to manage the fully loaded K1600 over the mountain.  Good practice for the Rockies, since I have been cheating with a GS for the last three years.  Also, for the last 45 minutes in the mountains, we were in a dense cloud, so I had fog and reduced speeds to deal with.  Overall, the bike performed flawlessly, and I really like the traction in the wet of the new Michelin PR4GTs.  Total mileage: 480.  New states: LA, AK.  Total mileage:  1315, just over 10% of the trip.

 

 

Day 4 – Sunday May 12.  Harrison, AR to Enid, OK (Mother’s Day)

 

The day began at a cool 51 degrees, so the heating liner came out.  It looks like clear riding for the next few days! The ride up to Springfield, MO was beautiful. Great rolling hills and wonderful scenery.  As good as anything VA or the Carolinas has to offer.

After solid cloud cover, the sky began to get a bit sunny, and it actually got much warmer than predicted.  Off came the heated liner and long sleeve turtleneck and the rest of the ride was quite comfortable.  After dodging into KA to check it off, I noticed that the route was a toll turnpike down to Tulsa and over to Enid, OK.  Why the heck would I want to do that?  So, with the technology of Google Maps and a Nav V, that plan was out the window, and I headed cross-country in KA, just above the OK border, before dropping down and finishing the ride in OK.  Did I mention that there are miles and miles of modern windmills there?   Whether KA or OK, there were hundreds of them.  Maybe they have some wind there?  I am just glad that storm that hit in Birmingham didn’t hit me in the plains of KA.  That would have been dangerous.  After a short day, in by 4 with a hot tub at the motel!  Going through the bourbon faster than I had anticipated, but that is probably more healthy than popping a lot of Advil, right?  Still trying to figure out how to transfer my photos from my Canon Elph to my phone/laptop.  Maybe a shower will help

Mileage today 390.  New states: MO, KA, OK.  Total mileage: 1700.

 

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RandyShields
40 minutes ago, TEWKS said:

Have a great ride Randy, love the as they happen ride tales! Will be watching. :thumbsup:

Thanks. Having more trouble with the camera technology than anything.!

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Lowndes

Randy,

 

Looks like you may need a USB cable with a Mini-B (if that's what your model Elph has):  image.png.5db1325ae7bb939e250f8793c8f24770.png

 

I'm sure you have this cable and have tried it many times.  Sometimes these cables fail and cause problems.  Happed to me recently.  Also, some generic cables are "charge only" with no data connection.

 

The other option is to pull the flash card from the Elph and put it in the card reader slot or an adapter to a USB port on the laptop, but I'd guess you have already done that, too.  Does your Elph have wi-fi??  You didn't get any Red Bull involved with any of these components, did you??

 

THANKS for all the updates and pics!!  We are following your progress closely!!  The SPOT is working very well, too.

 

Lowndes

 

 

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Lowndes
 
Hey, Randy, 
 
The replacement battery came today.  It's a 380mah where the OEM was a 300, and it is 46mm long vs 43mm for the old battery.  May have to use a shoehorn to fit it in the case.  It's as close as I could find anywhere without going below the 300mah.
 
 
I'll have to splice the connector leads onto the new battery leads.  That will ensure the plug is right and give more options on installing it, too.
 
Was watching your progress on SPOT cross the OK panhandle mid-morning and it seemed to get hung up on #51 (at the time) like the battery went dead.  You just HAD to go to "Liberal, KS", didn't you??
 
The SPOT is usually right on time at 22-24 and 52-55 min after the hour but it stayed on #51 for over 90 min.  Also noticed SPOT only shows 3 days worth of travel and keeps changing the spot numbers. 
 
Get that camera-laptop connection working!!  Remember,  "Without pics, it didn't happen"!!
 
 
Lowndes 

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RandyShields

Thanks.  This Elph has a wifi connection that will not connect via the motel's wifi.  Not sure why.  It also has a regular usb, but I only brought along a mini.  So, those photos will have to wait.  Took via the phone today, so Day 5 will have some color. 

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Lowndes

Randy,

 

Your original SENA 10U is up and running!!  The battery fits inside the housing, too!!  With 27% more battery life.

 

Safe Travels.

 

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RandyShields

 

Day 5 – Enid, OK to Raton, NM

Day 5 started with cool temps but a clear forecast for a change.  It was to be a long day, with over 500 miles to cover.  Did the trek to Enid up to Liberal, KA to see the house Dorothy lived in for The Wizard of Oz.  It was clear that the town leaders had spent time and effort to ensure the legacy.  There was a museum and dedications all around, however, the house itself is small and in the middle of town!  I wasn’t expecting the fully rural setting from the movie, but it was odd to see it in a commercial area.  Photo below.  Note the windmill to the side of the house.  Riding out, I noticed statues of Dorothy in front of many businesses.

 

On the way to Liberal, there was an interesting sign warning motorists not to pick up hitchhikers as they could be escaping convicts.  Sure enough, up the road a bit was a pretty serious looking prison.  I guess if your car broke down in these parts you better have an Uber account or AAA.  Similar larger signs near another prison in eastern NM.  Maybe just a good practice to keep driving in these parts.

 

As many have reported, the ride across KA and the OK panhandle is long and flat.  There were a few rain storms blowing up, and you could see them from a long way off.  You could also see the rain bands across the road as you were riding into them.  With the temps now in the mid-80s, getting a 20 degree drop with cooling rain actually was a relief.  Unlike pilots, who can see the storms from a ways off, there was no vectoring around these dark clouds; the road went where the road went and there were no alternatives.  Oh, and did I mention the wind gusts?  They hit hard and I found leaning the bike a lot necessary to stay up.  I did see a UPS truck blown completely into the oncoming lane of traffic before he could correct it. Luckily, there was very little traffic on these roads.  I understand now why the storm chasers love this tri-state area for tornados. 

 

Another interesting observation.  As I passed over small bridges, there were hundreds of swallow-like birds flying around, almost sporting with the bike – swooping in and darting away, then flying alongside for a while.  They looked a bit like purple martins, and boy could they turn sharply.  I imagine they had their nests under the bridges to stay cool in the hot sun, but liked to come out and play with the traffic.  Notably, most of the rivers under the bridges were completely dry, including a pretty wide one in NM. 

 

Through OK and NM, there were a number of pronghorn antelope and bison herds.  Some were pretty large.  Not a typical sight in the east.  Riding into NM, you could see the southern section of the Rockies in the distance with storms over them, at least 50 miles away, some of the peaks still with snow on them.

 

To avoid afternoon drowsiness on this ride, I planned not to stop for lunch.  With a long 10 hour day in the saddle, I took a lesson from our cattle driving ancestors and picked up some beef jerky during a gas stop.  No Man’s Land Beef Jerky is locally made and pretty special stuff.  It went great with trail mix and Red Bull.

 

One of the goals of this section of the ride was to revisit Cimarron NM and its Philmont Scout Ranch, a tough test of senior scouts who must hike through some tough terrain in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, the southernmost range of the Rockies.  After a train trip across county and accomplishing that two-week hike 48 years ago, it was heartwarming to be back to such a special place for scouts.  The National Scouting Museum was finished last year and had some very moving exhibits, including a wall of notable Eagle Scouts over the years.  I will do a side post with lots of photos in Riders Discuss Other Topics for those scouts in the group – or others – who might be interested in more detail on the museum.  Interestingly, the road leading up to Philmont was part of the original Santa Fe trail.

 

Arriving at the motel in Raton, NM, it became apparent that there are wide-variations among Super 8s and other motels in the Wyndham family.  This one was pretty basic, and it will sure be hard to beat the experience of the previous night, where a lovely young high-school age clerk went out of here way to fetch me a pool towel while I was in the hot tub, and even brought me my laundry that evening from the commercial dryer because the customer dryer was broken.  I see a bright future in public relations with this high-energy youngster.

 

Mileage today 515.  New states: TX, NM.  Total mileage: 2215.

 

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RandyShields

I have many more photos of the trip but the max total size is restricting me from adding more.  Is there a way to do that for a long trip like this?

 

Thanks.

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RandyShields

Lowndes, you have just created a business opportunity!  Get out there and solicit battery replacement services for all the headset users who need that service!

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RPondaRoad

I'm really enjoying the stories and photos of your trip Randy...   I'm rollin' along with you....

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Lowndes
13 hours ago, RandyShields said:

I have many more photos of the trip but the max total size is restricting me from adding more.  Is there a way to do that for a long trip like this?

 

Thanks.

Hey, Randy!!

 

One way to post as many pics as you want for free is to use Google Photos, a phone app, and laptop program. 

 

For the laptop app:

https://photos.app.goo.gl/wh89fLDUNm2b4b8DA

 

For the Android app, go to the Play Store and search for Google Photos.  Free download and use.

 

After you are set up your phone pics will upload to the cloud and download to your other set-up machines automatically (probably from the Elph, too).  You then create a SHARING ALBUM and click all the pics you want to share.  Those pics are copied into it.  You can then, 1) individually post any pics you want on the forums like this, or 2) post a link in the forum or in an email to let others see all the pics in the album.

 

This is an example of a single pic in a forum:

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Looks pretty good, I think!!

 

This is a link to all the pics in the Sena battery replacement:  https://photos.app.goo.gl/wh89fLDUNm2b4b8DA

 

Send me an address and I'll mail a tested mini USB cable to it for your Elph.  I can send the SENA too  if you are needing more battery life for these long days

 

I did post a short writeup on the SENA forum on the battery replacement: https://community.sena.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/360043697032-Replacement-battery-for-SENA-10U-Neotec-How-to-   It will be interesting to see if SENA will let it stay!!

 

I never went to Philmont.  We had several trips out there but other adults went.  I went to the Northern Tier in Ely, MN, and to Sea Base on Isla Morado in the Keys a bunch of times.  Everyone said Philmont is special.

 

Keep those SPOTS coming!!  

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RandyShields

Thanks Lowndes. I have a Photobucket account and can pit them there. I was just wondering if there was a way to do it directly.

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TEWKS
On May 14, 2019 at 8:46 AM, RandyShields said:

I have many more photos of the trip but the max total size is restricting me from adding more.  Is there a way to do that for a long trip like this?

 

Thanks.

 

Randy, are you saying you can't add anymore pics to this tale? :( Must be a way, Mr. Olson!!! :5146:

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Lowndes

Have you ever used your cell phone as a hotspot or wifi port??  EZPZ, and more secure than a motel router!!  I do it all the time.

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RandyShields

Day 6 – Raton, NM to Denver, CO

 

This was a pretty easy but tremendously satisfying day into the Colorado Rockies.  The day started with a concern – a rear tire down to 31 psi.  I added air and rotated the tire to inspect for any nails, but didn’t find anything.  After getting up to temp, it held its pressure for the day, but I will keep watching it closely.

 

Just a few miles into CO, I hopped off onto the scenic byway, CO 12, for the 70-mile loop over the lower Rockies, the Highway of Legends.  It was quite lovely as the road rose in elevation and, even though these weren’t the tall passes, there was still snow on the sides of the road.  At the top and heading down, there was some gravel and water in the right handers, but not really a problem.  Mrs. Garmin initially identified the road as Minnesota 12.  I couldn’t figure out why until I saw a sign that notated the route as MN 12, likely for mountain 12.  She thought better of it and later started saying Colorado 12.

 

Instead of heading up I 25, I went left on US 160, then north to catch US 285, a spectacular hilly ride through a number of mountain passes, with fantastic white-capped mountain scenery on every side.  I can see why so many folks love this road.  The sweepers were fun and the traffic light until getting into Denver, then what a shock to the system to have to deal with I 70 and heavy traffic.  But speaking of sweepers, there was one short delay when a road sweeping truck – yes, like the ones you see on city streets – was out in the middle of nowhere sweeping this road!  Surprised drivers paused a bit before they finally had enough of its 2 mph pace and went around him.  Notably, the creeks and rivers were flowing hard, unlike NM, with all the melting snow flowing down the mountains.

 

The evening was capped off with a visit to a nephew and his wife in Denver.  They kindly left one of their cars out so I could park my bike in the garage.  We then headed out to one of the new restaurants in town, Linder, built in the old O’Linder mortuary.  Not sure why they changed the name, but the place had a very eclectic atmosphere and specialized in small plate street dishes from around the world.  The food quality was outstanding and it was the best restaurant meal I’ve had out in a long time.  Back to the house, we were greeted by their two sweet Australian shepherds, Berkeley and Cinder.  I gave them some grief about having 4 unopened bottles of specialty bourbons in the liquor cabinet, so we opened the bottle of Jefferson’s (Ocean Aged at Sea) for a nightcap. 

 

Mileage today: 375.  New states: CO.  Total mileage: 2590.

 

Day 7 – Denver, CO to Salida, CO

 

I thought this would be an easy day with a short ride report, but boy was I wrong.  The plan was to head up to Estes Park to visit the Rocky Mountain National Park and its famed Trail Ridge Road.  Unfortunately, with 58 feet of snow this year, it might not be open until June.  So, I still went that direction, planning to get my senior national park pass and visit the Stanley Hotel, the inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in The Shining.  Mitch (Joe Frickin’ Friday) had giving me some cool shortcuts over the mountains, and that was another shock to the system, hitting 10-15 mph switchbacks after highway traffic.  Golden Gate Parkway and CO 119 up to Nederland were very nice roads with great scenery and turns that tested you riding.  All good even with a 1.2 miles of dirt to deal with (not a mile, but 1.2 miles).  

 After visiting the interior of the Stanley, including the nice facilities for guests only, I headed back  and hopped on I 70 west for a trip over Loveland Pass, many years after the last ski trip here.  More on that later.  The road went down into Breckinridge and over more passes to end up at Whip’s for another night of mooching before heading to Torrey, with Burt and Ron along from Grand Rapids.  We had a great meal in town, and the bartender is riding buddy who may join us tomorrow for part of the trip.  Will check out adding my photos via Photo Bucket but, for now, just narrative.  I have also observed that the cage drivers out here are very courteous.  Most will move over to let you pass in the mountains, even if they are at the speed limit.  Nice.  Much better manners than out east.  

 

Mileage today: 305.  New states: 0. Total mileage 2895.  Off to Torrey tomorrow!

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Whip

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RTinNC

Enjoying the post Randy!   Be safe and stay warm.  I keep hearing of snow in the mountain passes in CA. 

 

Also, a bit of trivia .... the original movie The Shining used the Timberline Lodge in Oregon on Mount Hood.  The Stanley hotel was later used for a TV remake. 

 

http://www.movie-locations.com/movies/s/Shining-1980.php

 

Be safe !! 

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twistyguy

Enjoying the narrative Randy.  Thanks!

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RandyShields

Day 8 – Salida, CO to Torrey, UT

 

Today officially completed one third of the trip, and was the most eventful yet, so this will be a lengthy report.  After waiting until 8 am for Whip’s friend, Diamond, who must have decided to pass (it was 50/50 at best I was told), we headed out with Whip in the lead.  Rob (Scout 6) ran second, I was third and Burt (Burt) ran sweep.  We headed west on US 50 towards Gunnison, and crossed over Monarch pass, one of the tallest in the Rockies at over 11,000 feet.  Not surprisingly, it was cold and still snow covered.  Over the mountains and just south of Gunnison National Park, the temps swung from mid-40s to near 80.  At the 130 mi. mark we stopped for gas and to shed layers.  That was the site of my first of several gas mishaps of the day, when the flow was so fast, I overpoured a bit and had to wash the top of the bike off.

The next stage was down US 550, then past Telluride to Dolores, for another gas and lunch stop.  Even though we did not do the complete the Million Dollar Highway, CO 145 over Coal Bank Pass (10,000+ ft) was just spectacular.  Gas mishap 2 occurred here, with some splatter but nothing as dramatic as the first.  After grabbing a Red Bull, I joined the guys who were getting a quick bite across the street.  With a sore back and already too much sitting, I stood to check messages and sneak some jerky with my Red Bull when Whip surreptitiously captured a photo of some old-looking guy who resembled me.  I guess I will have to take up with board management about removing unauthorized likenesses.

On the next stage into Utah, the mountains and foothills gave way to flat dry prairie, then the amazing land that is southern Utah.  There were mounds, hills and canyons that resembled something formed by a lava lamp.  Bears Ears National Monument and part of Canyonlands National Park were very special for a first timer.  We actually raced across the bottom of a mini-Grand Canyon and the Colorado River for much of this leg.  The evening before, our conversation turned to gas mileage, and Whip noted that he never got the 40-45 miles per gallon range that the rest of us reported.  I can now conclude why that is.  Our contemplated pace for the day was 10-15 over.  That never happened; it was more like 20-30 over, or as Whip conceded: 10-15 over 70-75.   

The final run to Hanksville and Torrey were marred by my third gas mishap, a fuel nozzle that was not fully emptied so that it spilled out as I went to lower it into my tank.  Bike wash number 3.  Oh, and that tire pressure issue from earlier in the trip reappeared, with the yellow warning now turning red and flashing at me.  It is clearly a slow leak – 4-5 lbs. a day, along with a sensor that was already reading 4-5 lbs. low.  So Friday will have to start with a closer inspection and hopefully a repair to put this pesky problem to bed.

More concerning about the final few hours were the numerous deer, elk and free-range cattle warnings, with one flashing sign indicating that there were cattle in the road for the next 13 miles.  Luckily, no cattle were seen.  But we did have to contend with some very scary winds.  Checking out the reports later, they were a sustained 25-35 mph, with gusts to 50!  I can tell you that when those gusts hit, it was a struggle to hold on and keep the bike from getting pushed off the side of the road.  More pucker moments in those last few hours than I care to experience again.  And there were also rocks in the road that had fallen off the steep cliffs.  I wasn’t so worried about those, as they were easily avoided, but I couldn’t help think of what it would feel like to have one of those fall down and hit me.  By now, I was ready for the end of a long day and a few toddies.

The last part of the ride was also quite beautiful, as we rode through the rock formations of Capitol Reef National Park.  The National Parks pamphlet describes it this way: “home of the Waterpocket Fold, a massive 100-mile long warp in the earth’s crust with unique desert features including colorful canyons, arches, brieges and domes.”  It literally looked like we were riding through another planet.  And after the speed of the earlier part of the day, slowing to 70-75 felt like we were crawling.  It was fast enough, though, to get into Torrey ahead of schedule, and ahead of a nasty looking storm that sprinkled on us a bit, but we made it before it hit.  Dinner was a burger and fries from a trailer next to the motel, and the quality was just outstanding.  I think Burt and Rob finished theirs in about 5 minutes.  Whip thought better of it and headed off to dinner with some friends.

Looks like I can add a few pictures for today.

Mileage today: 505.  New states: UT.  Total mileage:   3400

Monarch2.jpg

Utah1.jpg

Utah3.jpg

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TEWKS

Outstanding report so far, Randy! :thumbsup: But, (why is there always a but) :grin: you left points on the table by not snapping a photo of that "trailer burger". They always seem to taste the best! :lick:

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RandyShields

Tewks, you are absolutely right.  I will try to correct that.  And for readers following my saga, you will see that Whip gave you a spoiler alert for Day 9 of the ride report.  That will follow soon.

 

Randy

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More photos for Day 5 Enid to Raton.

At Philmont.jpg

Santa Fe Trail.jpg

Distant storm.jpg

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Day 6 Raton, OK to Denver, CO photos.

Hwy of Legends.jpg

Rockies.jpg

Berkeley and Cinder.jpg

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Day 7 Photos -- Denver, CO to Salida, CA.  I found the trick.  You have to go out of the topic and come back it to eliminate the 14.65 MB size restriction. 

Stanley.jpg

Breckenridge.jpg

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RTinNC

Nice!   Monarch Pass is very neat ... have done that twice.   And heading south on 550 is a much preferred route for me :-) 

 

Top box looks nice too!   Color match looks pretty good from here !! 

 

Be safe! 

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Day 9 – Torrey UT

At one point, Whip mentioned that it would not be a Torrey if we didn’t have mechanical or tire issues to deal with.  Unfortunately – and those of you following my SPOT tracker, will know this – I became one of those riders.  My pesky slow rear tire leak ballooned into a full-fledged problem.  I was determined to find the cause of the leak.  With some good advice from Rob, I spent 30 minutes in 40 degree temps this morning splashing soapy water on my tire as I slowly rotated it.  Finally, the bubbles appeared, next to a barely noticeable shiny object lodged in my tire. 

With several experienced tire experts now in attendance, including Ed (Edd), Rick, Rob and, of course, Whip, we extracted a longish nail, inserted the reamer to clean the hole, then plugged the hole with a Neely plug supplied by Edd (mine were too thick to work).  My compressor needed a 12V to BMW plug adapter, which I had but it didn’t work, so we went straight to a 12V battery plug on Rick’s bike.  Soon, the tire was inflated and we were back in business.

After long rides to Torrey, and the threat of unseasonably cold weather, the group headed off on a short scenic ride to Fishlake, with me following 30 minutes behind.  As the tire pressures started up slowly on the way out of town, the pressure sensors that I was closely watching soon showed the rear tire dropping suddenly in 5-10 psi increments, to 15 pounds.  I knew that the plug had blown and luckily found a historic site turn around on a very narrow county road that was the perfect place to pull over.  Yep, the tire was flat and the plug gone.  I called the motel to talk with Taralyn, the friendly clerk, to see about the tire shop another mile or so down the road.  When she called back, she advised that Chad, her father, was coming with his pick-up and a trailer to help.  After a few woe is me moments, I got busy with another plug, and trimmed in half to make sure it could be inserted into the tire.  When Chad arrived, we plugged the compressor into his cigarette outlet and, shortly, we were inflated and good to go.  Note that this all was happening with a lot of white stuff coming down, which I initially thought were tree blossoms.  No, it was sleet and it was starting to stick.

Neither the local tire shop nor the Honda dealership 60 miles away had the size tire I needed, so I decided to limp back to Torrey and the expert riders at the rally who would know what to do.  Chad kindly followed me to make sure I didn’t blow another plug. 

When I got back, the group had already returned from the ride.  I had missed a number of texts from Whip, but he put a 911 call into Brian T, a motor cop coming 600 miles in from LA, who was at a dealership and could bring me a tire!  So, my choices were to choose one of two acceptable tires, or plan to wait up to a week for a tow or some other unacceptable alternative.  So, the choice was made and I was glad that Brian could throw a tire in his truck to bring to Torrey.  Oh, he doesn’t have a truck?  No, he will just strap it to the back of his Yamaha FJR!

So, a group got together with me supervising (er, onlooking), to remove a muffler and then the tire, to run to the tire store who had agreed to change it out for the new one at 8 am Saturday.  They are both currently sitting in my room.  We already transported the current tire and rim over to the dealership when Taralyn’s mom and son were heading that way after a visit and agreed to take me there and bring me back.  Wow.  And stop at the liquor store for a bottle of Woodford Reserve as a thank you to the guys.

Soon thereafter, Terry and Candy knocked at Whip’s door indicating that they went down at a near stop in the ice/sleet, an had punctured a hole in their valve cover.  Without missing a beat, Whip was up with his tool kit and the group moved on to the next challenge.  Bob Palin (Killer) arrived and knew a guy in town who did aluminum welding, and off went the head cover for a repair.  It was being tested and reassembled when Brian rode up with my tire strapped to his bike.  I was never so happy to see a guy I had never met before. About this time, Edd, the local who had been so helpful, mentioned that we might have another problem as he walked us to my front tire to see a large nail in the tread.  I was initially shocked, but Whip and the others immediately knew it was Edd just playing with me.  Funny now, but a bit shocking at the time.

Even in the face of adversity, it was quite satisfying to watch this group of fellow riders help one another out.  Terry and I were both extremely fortunate that our issues didn’t happen so far out in the cold desert that we were stranded.  If all goes well, I will have a new tire on and miss only a half day of riding.    The pictures say it all: it takes a village.  So thankful here in Torrey.

Mileage today: 0 that count.  New states: 0.  Total mileage:  the same.

Chad.jpg

Tire arrival.jpeg

Front tire.jpg

Open head.jpg

Cylinder head replacement.jpg

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TEWKS

Tire issues are no fun but wow, that's a boatload of rocks retrieved from a Wethead boxer motor. :eek: It should run much better now. :grin:

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RandyShields
On 5/16/2019 at 11:31 PM, RTinNC said:

Enjoying the post Randy!   Be safe and stay warm.  I keep hearing of snow in the mountain passes in CA. 

 

Also, a bit of trivia .... the original movie The Shining used the Timberline Lodge in Oregon on Mount Hood.  The Stanley hotel was later used for a TV remake. 

 

http://www.movie-locations.com/movies/s/Shining-1980.php

 

Be safe !! 

Thanks for the clarification.  I should have said it was reported to be the inspiration to Stephen King for the Overlook.  And thanks to all for the positive comments and messages.  I plan to keep at it.

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RandyShields
13 hours ago, RTinNC said:

Nice!   Monarch Pass is very neat ... have done that twice.   And heading south on 550 is a much preferred route for me :-) 

 

Top box looks nice too!   Color match looks pretty good from here !! 

 

Be safe! 

Thanks.  The color is much different looking when up closer.  But as you and others have noted, I may be the only one who cares about it not being a perfect match.  BTW, in addition to avoiding another 30+ miles by not taking in the full million dollar highway, there were reports of uncleared snow and lots of trees and limbs down.  

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RandyShields
1 hour ago, TEWKS said:

Tire issues are no fun but wow, that's a boatload of rocks retrieved from a Wethead boxer motor. :eek: It should run much better now. :grin:

Everyone was wondering why his RT sounded like a Ducati!  Actually, it was so windy in the parking lot, they needed those to keep the cardboard from flying away!  

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RTinNC

WOW .. sorry to hear of your tire woes but nice that you got help and seem to have it resolved.   And I promise you that part of the "adventure" will be a memory you will recall for a long time and have a nice tale to tell.   It's just all part of the adventure.   Hoping you have a bit less "adventure" on the remaining part of your trip. 

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Rinkydink

Loving the trip posts. Having ridden in a lot of the same places brings great memories. One thing...the abbreviation for Arkansas is AR not AK (Alaska). Neat trick reaching AK from LA. Those 1600’s must really fly!!😀 

 

Keep ‘em coming and ride safe. 

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RTinNC
1 hour ago, Rinkydink said:

Loving the trip posts. Having ridden in a lot of the same places brings great memories. One thing...the abbreviation for Arkansas is AR not AK (Alaska). Neat trick reaching AK from LA. Those 1600’s must really fly!!😀 

 

Keep ‘em coming and ride safe. 

 

HA!  When I saw that Randy had done AK I was very impressed at his ability to make a quick side trip north.  Was just hoping it was not his GPS that went crazy!  HA! 

 

I had similar feelings reading his report as having ridden all of the lower 48 and doing it over about 5 years in order to truly see all the states this made me want to return to all those cool places and roads out west.   Next year's BMW MOA Rally in Great Falls MT should allow me to return to a lot of them. 

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RandyShields

Day 10 – Torrey, UT to Bryce Canyon and back

 

Today was a pretty amazing day.  It started with the mounting of a new tire.  The shop had us out of there in 20 minutes and the bike was ready to go by 9:30 am.  Pretty phenomenal, all things considered.

Terry’s valve cover was leaking, so the team worked on that with some JB weld.  That would take 4-6 hours to set, so Terry and Candy were hotel bound while the rest of us headed to Escalante.  The ride was down lovely UT 12, one of the best scenic byways in the state.  After a number of photo ops, we headed down the Burr Trail, 30 mile ride into a canyon with steep cliffs on both sides of us, all of it with spectacular views.  Whip promised we would enjoy it and he was absolutely right.

From there, we headed to the town of Escalante.  Before arriving, we found ourselves on top of a tall ridge with only the width of the road to ride, and each side straight down sheer rock with no guardrail.  This part of the ride lasted a couple of miles and was breathtaking and scary at the same time.  There was no room for error here or the consequences would not be good.

In Escalante, we had a nice lunch in the café of a hiking store.  The group said their goodbyes and some headed home and the rest returned to Torrey.  I continued south for an hour to take in Bryce Canyon National Park.  This is the park with the pink cliffs carved out of the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau.  From a number of rim vistas, one can see a bizarre assortment of hoodoos, fins, mazes, spires and arches.  They look almost like those creations of kids playing with the wet sand that hardens into different shapes.  At over 9000 feet at imageproxy.php?img=&key=b613679a0814d9ecimageproxy.php?img=&key=b613679a0814d9ecimageproxy.php?img=&key=b613679a0814d9ecimageproxy.php?img=&key=b613679a0814d9ecRainbow Point, the temps had dropped into the 40s and there was a light snow falling.  The sights in this park were definitely a highlight of the trip so far.

Heading back to Torrey, I cruised up a long green valley (UT 62) with horse and cattle farms framed by mountains on each side.  A lovely scene near the end of this route was a mare with her barely one-week old foal learning to walk alongside mom.  As I draft this, I am still taking in the varied and magnificent sights of the day, grateful to have a repaired tire and opportunity to continue the adventure.  With some weather coming in Sunday, I will likely pack up and head south to try to see Zion and get closer to the next stop at the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff.

 

Mileage today: 305.  New states: 0.  Total mileage: 3705.

 

New tire.jpg

To Escalante.jpg

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More photos.

Bryce arch.jpg

Rainbow point.jpg

Tunnel.jpg

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RandyShields
On 5/17/2019 at 10:55 AM, TEWKS said:

Outstanding report so far, Randy! :thumbsup: But, (why is there always a but) :grin: you left points on the table by not snapping a photo of that "trailer burger". They always seem to taste the best! :lick:

Failure corrected!

Burger truck.jpg

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Bob Palin

Good to meet you Randy, if you come back this way give me a little notice and we'll go see the Capitol Reef back country in my truck, there's some more great stuff off the paved roads.

The narrow section of 12 with drops offs on both sides is called The Hogsback, it causes people to detour many miles between Torrey and Bryce because they don't want to drive over it.

 

The deep valley on the Burr Trail is Long Canyon, I'm guessing you didn't stop at the little slot canyon down there, called "Singing Canyon" because it has such good acoustics.

 

Highway 62 follows Otter Creek which is also the name of the reservoir you passed near Antimony, the valley is Koosharem Valley. You may have noticed the tall cliffs to the east, it's possible to ride/hike along the edge of those, the views of the valley and Monroe Mountain opposite are spectacular.

 

The mini Grand Canyon along 95 was probably White Canyon, you can't ride the bottom of it but you can drive to the bottom from the highway, it's hairy!

 

One of your pictures was a turn sign where the road goes through a gap in the cliff, the road descends down the cliff into the valley then up out the other side. That's Comb Wash and the area is covered with Indian ruins, I camp in the bottom of the valley every now and then and go exploring.

Now you know a little more about Whip's Express Tour! (BTDT)

 

My last time camping in Comb Wash - an unexpected morning surprise and 17F to help matters.

1941706768_20181202_0826441024.thumb.jpg.ed1825d58330b7d8f9955fc12c6d729f.jpg

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RandyShields

Bob, thanks for all the additional color!  Whip mentioned that some of his followers have some difficult reactions to Hogsback  that are more dramatic than my inside the helmet: "Holy Shiiit."

 

Great to meet you and thank you so much for your help.  Stay tuned for the Day 11 report, which will have a similar surprise!

 

Randy

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On 5/18/2019 at 11:02 AM, RTinNC said:

 

HA!  When I saw that Randy had done AK I was very impressed at his ability to make a quick side trip north.  Was just hoping it was not his GPS that went crazy!  HA! 

 

I had similar feelings reading his report as having ridden all of the lower 48 and doing it over about 5 years in order to truly see all the states this made me want to return to all those cool places and roads out west.   Next year's BMW MOA Rally in Great Falls MT should allow me to return to a lot of them. 

Yes, a typo in the final line, but you see that I got it right in the titles.  Not the first typo of this blog to be sure.

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Day 11 – Torrey to Zion

After thunderstorms, dangerous wind gusts and a flat tire, how could the fun not continue?  Everyone was heading out Sunday morning because of the approaching storm from the southwest.  After initially planning to stay in Torrey that night, I realized it didn’t make sense to ride 175 miles south to Zion, then return, only to head south again on Monday.  And with the storm approaching, I decided to head out towards Zion to be further south and ready to hunker down if necessary.  The Chuckwagon graciously agreed to cancel and refund my final night, and I headed out about 8 am after hugs and thanks all around. 

It got colder over the pass into Koosharem Valley (thanks Bob) as I proceeded down the same roads that brought me to Torrey yesterday from Bryce. I also got spit on a bit, but it looked like I was going to successfully get through the storms.  Little did I know that those wouldn’t be the low temps of the day.

I made a quick stop at the boyhood home of Butch Cassidy to capture another movie trivia half point.  During a nice conversation with a couple over breakfast in Panguich, I learned that they loved the area, were building a cabin nearby, and rode a Road King.  Just in case, he gave me is phone number in case I needed help.  Again, little did I know that he almost got a call.

I continued south with the temps dropping through the 40s and into the 30s.  The wind was steady but the gusts not as bad as the day we rode into Torrey. That is when things got interesting.  It started to snow. Then it got heavier.  Soon the temp was 32, and it was full blown snow storm mode, with the K bike crawling down the road at 40 with my flashers on, face shield getting covered and bike getting iced over.

I pulled into a gas station/convenience store at the high point of the range north of Alton UT with about an inch of white stuff on the road.  No one saw this coming, so my plan to beat the storm to Zion came up 25 miles short.  The nice lady in the store (Melissa) got me a towel for my phone and even wiped the ice off my faceshield.  With no wifi or cell service, she let me download My Radar and Dark Sky, which showed the snow turning to rain in an hour or so.  So I made the easy decision to wait it out. Shortly, a Harley couple from Quebec (with half helmets, frozen faces, and no heated gear) pulled in and reported that it was not snowing 10 minutes south.  Shortly, two other guys from Vail, CO pulled in.  Even with their familiarity with snow, they were taking no chances.

As we waited, it appeared that the rain in the front was moving out, but it was cold enough at Alton's altitude (7400 ft) that the snow shower was not moving.  While waiting, we saw a couple of intrepid GS riders heading north, not understanding that they faced a good 30 minutes of snow and slick roads.  By then, we had 2 inches of accumulated snow.  Luckily, the snow started to wane and a couple of plows passed back and forth clearing the road.  That town has got it going on!  After well wishes all around amongst the stranded riders, I headed back out after a two hour wait and, sure enough, 10 minutes later at a lower elevation, the snow was gone.

With the temps back to normal and no snow, I decided to complete the ride plan and head into Zion.  At the entrance, the ranger admired my bike and reported that he had a K1200RS.  He also assured me after my snow story that I would see only rain in the park. 

Well it did rain.  I got to see some impromptu waterfalls as the showers washed down the steep slopes of the park’s dramatic geology.  It was different than Bryce because you drive down into the Canyon, but just as dramatic.  Before long, though, my day would see additional trials from the cold, rain and snow that I had already experienced.  Before the long tunnel through the mountain into the park, the promised rain turned to sleet then, just to top it off, a 5 minute hailstorm.  Luckily, it wasn’t the baseball size stuff that hurts.  Surprisingly, on the other side of the tunnel, there were clear sunny skies and the temps rose to 60!  What a day.  The suddenly nice weather provided a lot of good photo ops.

After a day like that, I decided to stay just a short ride away at the Best Western in Mt. Carmel.  They have a restaurant on site the specializes in fresh baked pies!  That might be the needed energy I need for the next couple of days.  Tomorrow is the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff, with more cold temps and snow in the forecast.  If I have to hunker down in a place specializing in fresh pies, I guess it could be worse.

(Note, this is the official halfway point in days, although the mileage looks like it will need to be adjusted downward since the last few days didn’t generate all the side trips I had anticipated.)

Mileage today: 300.  New states: 0.  Total Mileage: 4005.

Butch Cassidy.jpg

Iced over.jpg

Refuge from the storm.jpg

Zion 1.jpg

Zion 2.jpg

Zion 4.jpg

zion 5.jpg

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TEWKS

Dramatic changes! The packed on ice sheet covering the 16 is no joke! :eek:

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Whip

Great Ride Tale!

 

Some of that shit DID happen!

 

 

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RandyShields
23 minutes ago, Whip said:

Great Ride Tale!

 

Some of that shit DID happen!

 

 

Not unlike your trip last month to Flagstaff.

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Chris K
37 minutes ago, Whip said:

Great Ride Tale!

 

Some of that shit DID happen!

 

 

Yes, Randy is great story teller! :grin:

 

Glad your having fun Randy. 

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RandyShields

The photo I posted for Day 9 with the tire on the back of Brian T's bike was actually from the shop.  Here is Brian arriving on his trusty FJR in Torrey 200 mi. later, after a 600 mi. day.  Couldn't have kept going if Whip hadn't sent out the 911 and Brian brought me the tire.  Still grateful!

Brian T arrives.jpg

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