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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weekend Rides

July 29-31, 2011
Colorado, USA

Friday, the 29th - We took the long way around the lakes to our favorite little dive - ok - diner in Loveland. It was about 28 miles or so round trip to get that burger and BLT at Fatso's in Loveland, CO... worth the ride. The day was fine and we were reluctant to settle for such a short ride.

Saturday, the 30th - After Tim rolled in from Saturday shift work - we decided to take an afternoon ride. It was 2:38 pm and the odometer was sitting at 23,800. It was a HOT (I can hear you laughing Texas) afternoon so without saying as much, we found ourselves winding up the Big Thompson Canyon (Hwy 34) toward Estes Park and the high country. It was cooler riding alongside the Big Thompson River. Estes Park traffic tested our patience. It is usually crazy on the weekends. We rode on through as quick as possible, deciding to ride down into Lyons. There we landed in the middle of a river fest traffic jam. Again, we rode on through. We called it done after a 95 mile ride and spent the rest of the evening on the patio, burning hot dogs and relaxing with a beer and a mikes.

Riding the Big Thompson Canyon (Hwy 34)

Approaching Estes Park, CO - the mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park in the background

The ride down to Lyons, CO via Hwy 36

Sunday, the 31st - Today's ride took us up the Poudre Canyon to Walden and on to Laramie. The canyon was busy today with lots of traffic. The river is still flowing high and fast, but the level is better now than in the recent past for water-lovers. Near the summit of Cameron Pass we saw moose in three different locations. We made a brief stop at the Moose Center for a stretch and a cup of thermos coffee and stopped again in Walden to top off the tank.

Coffee Break - Moose Center - Near Gould, CO

Coffee Break - Moose Center - Near Gould, CO

We had thought to ride the Snowy Range but took the Laramie turn instead. It's probably a good thing as the clouds in that direction were building fast. Actually, clouds were building fast all around us. We had packed a picnic lunch so we found a table under a pavilion at a park near the old depot in Laramie, just a couple of blocks off of downtown. We shared the pavilion with a large family traveling home to Littleton (near Denver). They had toured Wyoming and part of Montana, camping in an oversized custom toy hauler. Two adults, two or three children, two grandparents and a great grandma... traveling together for a week - yikes!

The clouds continued to build as we munched on fried chicken, noodle salad, fruit and cookies. We did not get in a hurry and rather enjoyed watching the trains rumble by. The clouds were between us and home. Finally, with a rumble of thunder overhead, we rode to the southern edge of town and pulled the bike up on the sidewalk, under the awning, in front of Bart's Indoor Flea Market where we shopped for about the next two hours. Bart's is a customary stop for us, but we rarely spend as much time there as we did this time. Just before 5 pm, it looked like we had about as good a break in the clouds as we were going to get so we rolled out of Laramie toward home. We got lucky... riding chilly in light rain and on wet highway for about half the trip. One storm had passed, another was approaching fast, but we managed to get home mostly dry. Today we burned some burgers to go with the beer and mikes on the patio.

Here is a slide show of today's 217 mile picnic ride (33 photos):

Thursday, July 28, 2011

PGR Appreciation

July 28, 2011
Colorado, USA

PGRTexas -- A very nice letter of appreciation... not a veteran standing would say otherwise... the honor of the day belongs to the one no longer standing among them.
John and Linda Howell, Wichita Falls

Standing for freedom

On July 19, as family and friends arrived at Life Tabernacle Church for the funeral of Robert H. Parker, a Navy war veteran, our hearts swelled with emotion not only for the passing of a wonderful man, but at the sight of all the American flags, even the Navy flag, blowing freely in the hot Texas wind. Standing beside each flag was a member of the North Texas Patriot Guard Riders. Many of these members are military war veterans, others are volunteers who pay honor to those who have served for the freedom of our country.

The temperature that day reached 105, but there they stood for several hours, perspiration dripping off their faces, once again sacrificing for a cause they believe in. Our country may have it's problems, but as long as we continue to have dedicated Americans such as these who willingly give of themselves, we will always remain strong! We say thank you to the North Texas Patriot Guard Riders, to our U.S. military and veterans and all Americans who stand for our country's freedom.

Source: Times Record News

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Road trip #4, day 2 - Spearfish Canyon - Deadwood, SD and the ride home

July 24, 2011
Colorado, USA

We rested well in Belle Fourche, SD except for a short time about 2 am when a thunderstorm rolled through. The flashes of lightning woke us first. The Ride was covered, but sitting in the open so thunder had us on our feet checking out the situation through the screen door. The storm gave us a hard rain, tossed a few hail stones around and then moved on.

Geographic Center of the USABefore riding out of town, we stopped at the park just across the river near downtown where the geographic center of the USA is located. Well, sort of. The geographic center of the total land mass of the United States is located about 20 miles north of Belle Fourche. It is located on the open prairie and it is marked by a sign and a rock tower known as sheepherder's monument or Stone Johnnie. The official designation is 44 degrees 58 inches north and longitude 103 degrees 46 feet west. This is 30 miles north of town along Highway 85 and 6/10 of a mile east of the highway. It was moved here as Alaska and Hawaii were admitted into the United States in 1959.

We rode the short distance south to Spearfish, stopped for gas and then went in search of breakfast. The search took us to downtown or old town Spearfish. We were about to settle on a chain restaurant up on the interstate when I spied several cars parked at a steak house as we rode by. We turned around and went back to the Shoot the Bull Steak House. As it turned out, it was a bit pricey but they were serving a breakfast buffet and offered omelets cooked to order. The food and the coffee was good and the service excellent.

Bridal Veil Falls - Spearfish Canyon, SDThe plan all along was to ride Spearfish Canyon again and we would make up our minds at Cheyenne Crossing which way to head from there. Hwy 14A is designated as Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway. It has been recently resurfaced, probably in preparation for the thousands of motorcycles who will ride it during Sturgis Bike Week in August. The road gently twists through nineteen miles of a narrow gorge over which limestone walls tower on both sides up to a thousand feet. Spearfish Creek runs alongside the road. We stopped to snap a couple of pictures of Bridal Veil Falls.

Wild Bill's Grave - Mount Moriah, SDAt Cheyenne Crossing we chose to ride north on Hwy 85 to the towns of Lead (leed) and Deadwood. The ride is beautiful and the road is great. We had it in mind to see the historical Mount Moriah Cemetery where Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Preacher Smith are buried along with a few other historical Deadwood characters. We recently watched the HBO series Deadwood on DVD and find we'd like to know more about the actual history of the area. The road going up to the cemetery is very steep and travels through a residential neighborhood with many beautiful Victorian homes.

Entry is $1 a head. I have never seen the like of this cemetery. How they managed to bury people on the side of a steep mountain boggles the brain. Sheriff of Deadwood during the gold rush days, Seth Bullock is buried outside the cemetery at the top of a rise overlooking Deadwood, this was not a hike for biker boots. Ha! People had left a deck of cards and coins around Wild Bill's grave. Booze bottles, coins and makeshift crosses adorned Calamity Jane's grave. There are several Potter's fields (unmarked graves), a mass grave for victims of a lumber mill fire, a veterans section (including Civil War and Indian War veterans) and sadly, a large children's section. The Chinese section is odd in that there are only a couple of graves. According to the signage, all the other Chinese buried there were disinterred and sent back to China to be reburied. Ol' Glory flies over this cemetery night and day.

After roaming through the visitor center with a bottle of cold water, we rode down the mountain and took a turn through downtown Deadwood and along Main Street. It was busy but looks like fun. The old buildings were occupied by casinos and stores, restaurants, saloons and hotels. There is a Saloon #10. This has to be the spot where Jack McCall shot and killed Wild Bill. Like I said, this was only a ride through.

Indian TacoHwy 85 and 14A make a loop through the Lead/Deadwood area. Before long we were back at Cheyenne Crossing and decided to stop before starting the journey home. Cheyenne Crossing is a store, cafe and lodge built on the site of an 1870s stage stop. Beside the store is a tent with picnic tables. It is basically a beer tent and beside that is a decked area with tables next to the outdoor cookers. It was hot under the beer tent. We chose a table on the deck where we could catch a breeze. The place claims it is famous for the Indian Tacos so we ordered one we could split (it hadn't been all that long since breakfast) and a couple of cokes. It was busy with bikers and other tourists so it took a while but the Indian Taco was tasty.

We had another day of vacation if we wanted it but decided to spend it somewhere else. We traveled back on Hwy 85 and was surprised at how great the road was. We took Hwy 18 west out of Lusk, deciding we would zip on over to I-25 and cut some time off of the return trip. That did not work out. The bridge was out at the interstate and the detour took us 11 miles north to Douglas, WY before we could get southbound again. We stopped for ice cream and a cold drink in Wheatland, but got bad service from the A&W there.

Stormy WyomingThe skies did not look good between Wyoming and home. We rolled into our drive about 9 pm - slightly damp.

Otherwise, the trip home went really well until the last 60 miles or so. We got caught up in the tail-end and the back build of a nasty thunderstorm that had just dumped 1 inch hail (still stacked on the side of the road like snow) and a ton of rain on Cheyenne. It looked like the concert was canceled and although the rides were running, the midway was all but empty. Worse, the people parked in the park-n-ride area for Frontier Days were going to have to fish their vehicles out of the field -- what vehicles were not submerged in water up to the middle of the tires, or sunk in the mud were surrounded by a moat of muddy water. I doubt the buses could get out either. Yikes! As it is, we rode in and out of rain and wind from Cheyenne on in and counted ourselves lucky to have ridden in behind the worst of it.

Today's ride was 416 miles (just 1 mile shy of what we did yesterday), making the entire two day trip 833 miles.

Slide show of today's ride (130 photos):

Alternate link to slide show

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Road trip #4, day 1 - Riding out in search of a close encounter - Devils Tower, WY

July 23, 2011
Colorado, USA

Belle Fourche, SD -- Tim's belated birthday ride...

Kid RockWe did not ride on Friday but I cannot adequately describe the three-day weekend without mentioning we kicked off our mini road trip with a Kid Rock Concert at Frontier Days in Cheyenne, WY. The tickets, purchased in February for the Born Free Tour was our Valentine gift to each other. After roaming the streets of downtown Cheyenne most of the afternoon, we drove to the fairground area. We located a parking spot on the street, a good stretch of the legs away from the arena. We found a beer and a Mikes on the midway and slowly made our way to our designated seats.

The show kicked off with a tribute to the military. Three soldiers marched on stage and saluted the crowd while The Warrior Song played and the matching video flashed across the big screens. The crowd jumped to their feet cheering. The applause was patriotic thunder. Sheryl Crow opened, walking out in a mini skirt and cowgirl boots and hat. She entertained us with a bevy of her greatest hits and later joined Kid on stage for a couple of duets including the song, Picture. The weather was perfect, the house was packed, and the party zone was overflowing. It was great to see Sheryl Crow live, but Kid walked out and immediately owned the evening, the town and by the end of the night, our hearts when he sang Born Free with a giant American flag unfurled behind him. Cheyenne, WY will never be the same. The pyrotechnics and laser light show - especially during So Hot - were - in a word that does not begin with F - Awesome! We rocked for about three and a half hours. I could give you a blow-by-blow, but it is one of those things - you just had to be there. (See the end of this post for a slide show of us fooling around in Cheyenne before the concert.)

Tim - Kid rock ConcertA man and a beer - life is good.

Military Salute - Kid Rock ConcertMilitary Salute/Tribute - Kid Rock Concert - Cheyenne, WY

The Grand-Daddy of all Rodeos had the Grand-Mommy of all traffic jams afterwards. Cheyenne is about 40 miles north of here. It was 2 am before we got home which set us back a bit on our planned daybreak ride out... it was more like 7 am. Yawn! There's nothing like a ride in the brisk morning air and new roads to travel and the promise of coffee at some little cafe along the way to make one forget about the loss of a few hours sleep.

Breakfast - Outpost Cafe - Lusk, WYWe decided to travel 85 north out of Cheyenne - with a loose destination of The Devils Tower. We looked for breakfast in Torrington (the first town of any size so far) but found nothing besides fast food joints so we traveled a little further to the small town of Lusk, WY. We knew the breakfast at the Outpost Cafe would be worth the wait. It was. The food (breakfast) is well prepared and served up in generous portions at a reasonable price. The coffee is good and the friendly, efficient wait staff never let a cup get empty.

The 80 mile stretch between Lusk and Newcastle was long. That's all I got - long. Ha! At this point, we needed something cold to drink and found it at a convenience store where we met and chatted at length with a couple out of Colorado Springs who rode up on a Road King. The terrain changed on Hwy 85 north of Newcastle. I mean, it became a bit more interesting, as a rock formation and a bend or two in the road actually interrupted the horizon. It was a pleasant ride on Hwy 585 between a community you can almost miss called Four Corners and Sundance, WY.

Military Salute in Sundance, WYWe accidentally found the Harley dealership in sleepy Sundance, WY while looking for a statue of The Sundance Kid. Actually, Tim commented on a pickup parked in the middle of the street. We looked harder and noticed the H-D logo. When we looked over our shoulder we noticed the dealership. Deluxe Harley-Davidson of Sundance is really nice although basically a clothing and parts store. The staff was friendly and laid back. Tim found a hat and a do-rag he could not live without. I do not know why we did not ask about the Sundance statue because we never found it. It was good to see the street lamp posts of Sundance adorned with banners stating the name and branch of service of active duty and veterans in the area.

Digression: We endured a BS traffic stop by a local motorcycle officer in Sundance. We saw him coming toward us as we rolled toward the edge of town. He made a u-turn behind us, we suspect to confirm we had out of state tags, before pulling us over. Apparently, his interpretation of a STOP at a stop sign is the rider has to have both feet on the ground. I'm telling you, we made at least a 2 second stop whether Tim's feet touched the ground or not. And, I swear, at the time of the stop, not another vehicle besides that officer and us was rolling between the city limit signs. Of course, I mean no disrespect - the guy was just doing his job, even if his concept of a stop is debatable and even if he was rather over-zealous with his document check. I mean c'mon, for some reason he assigned relevance to the fact that the insurance cards are new (ie: dated recently -- just got them at the end of June - they expire in 2012) - Duh. Tim's drivers license, complete with motorcycle endorsement also drew a comment (it expires in 2015). OK. The registration on the bike expires at the end of the month (we have a whole nine days left on it and we had the current documentation in hand that does not expire until July 2012), but the officer made certain we understood that we would be illegally riding in Wyoming after the 31st. Duh! After detaining us for about 20 minutes, he finally sent us on our way with a verbal warning - put your feet down at a stop sign. Ha! We chuckled as we drove out of town because the officer said he had to be on his toes because the county fair started tonight in Sundance (it was mid-afternoon and not a soul was stirring in the whole town) and as soon as that was over he would have Sturgis riders to deal with... (maybe he was honing his skills on us). I am thinking the stop was detrimental to business, as about half way through - three more Harleys slowed down as they passed going the opposite direction, hesitated for a brief moment and rode straight on through.

The Ride - near the Devils Tower, WYJust outside of Sundance, we picked up Hwy 24 - the road to the Devils Tower. Probably about eight miles out, you get a glimpse of it. I believe the photo op pullover was about six miles out. Once the Devils Tower came into view, it dominated the horizon.

A couple of Devils Tower stats - 1906: President Theodore Roosevelt declared Devils Tower as the first national monument in the USA. Devils Tower is 867 feet tall, summit elevation is 5112, teardrop shaped top is about the size of a football field, the circumference of the base is 1 mile.

The charge to enter the park on a motorcycle was a reasonable $5. We took our time hiking the 1.3 mile trail around the base of the Devils Tower in biker boots and snapped a good many photos. I am happy to report the closest encounter we had was with a noisy squirrel and tourists with more small children than they could efficiently herd - I am laughing.

Attached to Devils Tower are many folk legends, a good many of them inspired by the reverence Native Americans have for the monument.

Legend of the Devils TowerLegend of the Devils Tower - click for a larger view

I believe we both can say that visiting this rock far exceeded our expectations and we enjoyed the experience.

We continued on scenic Hwy 24 traveling through small town Wyoming. Hulett, the first town you reach after the Devils Tower has several restaurants, saloons and motels. We saw a sign designating the town of Alva (population 50) but that's all I remember about it. The tiny spot in the road called Aladdin (population 15) has one claim to fame, a 115 year old general store (it was closed already when we rode through). Another time, then.

Today's great 417 mile ride has ended in Belle Fourche (bell foosh), SD (population 5500 or so). Belle Fourche means "beautiful fork" and refers to the rivers that converge here -- the Bell Fourche and the Redwater. Sheriff Seth Bullock of Deadwood fame was instrumental in putting Belle Fourche on the map with the railroads. And, this is allegedly the geographical center of the United States. We will check that out tomorrow.

We have found accommodations at a small tourist court type motel - the Ace Motel which sits a block off the main drag and just over the river bridge from downtown. The motel room was a bit musty at first, but an open window and the ceiling fan circulating have about cured that problem. It is a bit "dated", old, somewhat threadbare, but clean. We do not have a/c, but the night is cool. We do have WIFI. There is a small TV, but who cares? Dinner was OK at the American West Restaurant which sits next to the Motel 6 on the southern end of town. (The difference between the not-so-low rate of the Motel 6 and the rate at the Ace Motel paid for dinner. Hmmmm...) Tim had a New York strip Philly steak dinner. I had a fried shrimp dinner.

We will wind down the day sitting on the bench in front of the room, enjoying the night breeze, sipping on a convenience store beer and talking about our day.

Here is the mini-movie of the day's ride:

Devils Tower Ride

Click here to play

Here is a slide show of the day's ride and The Devils Tower (78 photos):

Alternate link to slide show

Source material:
Devils Tower, Wyoming
Brief history of Belle Fourche, South Dakota
Indian Legends of the Devils Tower

Just a few pics of us roaming Cheyenne, WY before Kid Rock concert (55 photos):

Vik and Tim - Cheyenne, WY before Kid Rock concertVik and Tim - Cheyenne, WY before Kid Rock concert

Friday, July 22, 2011

Latest road trip update

July 21, 2011
Colorado, USA

OK gang... all the photos are uploaded and the posts written for the Utah road trip. You gotta check out the photos of Bryce Canyon, Utah - July 4th. Coming up pdq are the pics of last weekend's Devils Tower/Deadwood ride.

Posted 07/13/2011 July 2, 2011 Road trip #3, Day 1 - The ride across Colorado, Hwy 141 and Unaweep Canyon - Destination: Utah by Sundown

Canyonlands - Utah, USACanyonlands - Utah, USA

Posted 07/15/2011 July 3, 2011 Road trip #3, Day 2 - Riding canyon after canyon in Utah, from Monticello to Panguitch, UT

North end of Lake Powell, UTThe Ride at north end of Lake Powell, UT

Posted 07/21/2011 July 4, 2011 Road trip #3, Day 3 - Parade, Scenic Byways and Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon, Utah - USABryce Canyon, Utah - USA

Posted 07/26/2011 July 5, 2011 Road trip #3, Day 4 - Hwy 89 north to Vernal, UT

Scenic Central Utah

Posted 07/27/2011 July 6, 2011 Road trip #3, Day 5 - The road home

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Tim!

July 19, 2011
Colorado, USA

Happy Birthday Tim!It is your birthday... I say we roll out of the drive with an attitude that delivers on the happy part.
A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.
Tim's day so far = SOGGY: We had coffee on the patio where he opened his gift from me and his card from Mom. Earlier, he read the well wishes from friends in his email. After coffee, I loaded up the Harley-Davidson branded cooler (his gift from me) with picnic food (fried chicken, macaroni salad, watermelon, fresh cherries, animal crackers, even a tiny cherry pie, and lemonade). We rode east (away from the clouds building over the foothills). Rolling into a little township about 30 miles east of here called Eaton, we found the City Park and a picnic table.

We sat the food out and had about two bites when the sprinklers came on and before we could get anything moved or covered, water had drenched our table, the food, the camera, cell phone, us and even the motorcycle parked in the street. !!^%$&^#&^@!! I mean, four jet sprinklers were aimed at the table we chose. Ha! Who waters a park with picnic tables at noon when the facilities are most likely to see use? That's the question I asked the city manager of Eaton when I emailed them just a short while ago, just one of a few choice remarks I had for him...

Tim - Birthday 2011I snapped this pic with my phone just before we dug in -- a few minutes later -- we were drenched.

Anyway, we dumped our soggy chicken plates in the trash and rolled out of Eaton toward home. We took the long way home, blow-drying ourselves along the way. We had our picnic anyway -- here at the house -- as there was enough leftover chicken and salad and other goodies on hand. A couple of slices of cherry cream pie sent the man off to work with a smile.

PGR Mission: Robert H Parker, US Navy - Wichita Falls, TX

July 19, 2011
Colorado, USA

Texas -- North Texas Patriot Guard Riders will stand the flag line today at the memorial services and interment of Robert H Parker, US Naval Veteran.

Parker served in the US Navy where he served on the USS Mackenzie as a BMSN. He received the Korean Service Medal with 2 stars, China Service Medal, National Defense Medal and the United Nations Service Medal.

Our hearts go out to the family and friends of this Veteran.

Rest in Peace Sir and thank you for your service!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Crazy Mike!

July 18, 2011
Colorado, USA

Happy Birthday Crazy Mike!

Many thanks to you sir for signing on with the PGR. Please extend our appreciation to your son who has served this country. And congratulations on your recent induction into the ranks of the mBSc!

Texas -- The following is a letter/article to the editor of the TRN penned (as I understand it, literally penned) by Crazy Mike. The Times Record News of Wichita Falls published it as a Guest Editorial on July 4, 2011. I read the article that morning on a friend's FB page from my laptop in a motel room in Utah. It made my day. What a pleasant start to our Independence Day ride! I have CM's permission to share it here. I hope you enjoy it, too.

We are One Nation Under God
by Crazy Mike Rykoff

I would like to start by telling on myself. I am embarrassed — almost ashamed to admit — that my patriotism was pretty much nonexistent for most of my life.

I was too busy complaining about the government, the price of gas, food and clothes — and most people. Trying to raise a family was pretty tough. I know now that it is supposed to be hard! Not much value is if it is easy!

Several years back, while watching my son graduate from boot camp, I heard the base commander say, "Welcome to the world's largest Air Force base and the world's largest air power." It gave me chills and my negative self began to feel a little proud.

I came back home and joined the Red River Harley Davidson HOG chapter. You know — American-made and all that.

This past year I signed up with the Patriot Guard Riders — standing tall with respect for fallen heroes. (If you are not familiar with the Patriot Guard Riders, please look it up on the Internet).

I am going to be 60 in a few weeks and can honestly say my heart is getting softer. I don't know if it is because of my age or because of just what is going on in this country. Either way, I am much more aware of my choices. I know that I am not as smart as I thought — AND not nearly as important.

One thing that I do know is that I can live where I choose, go to my choice of church, drive what kind of car I want and eat at any restaurant.

Sadly, I also know that all of these choices — and my freedom — were paid for by our troops. I owe a great debt to all our armed forces. To those who served and to those who are still serving. You know — the REAL American heroes who paid the ultimate sacrifice for my freedom and yours!

Republican or Democrat, rich or poor, whatever your religious beliefs; they are not for free. Because freedom is not free. I hate to admit I used to take all of this for granted.

The next time you are out and about, look around and see who is flying Old Glory. Maybe it will touch your heart as it touches mine. You might even raise the U.S. flag at your business or at your home.

I don't know who these un-American people are who want to take the flag out of the schools and God off the dollar. We are a lot stronger together than divided. How did it ever get this out of control?

So this Fourth of July and every day, let's celebrate freedom in our hearts and raise the U.S. flag with pride. I know every time I see one of our troops, I shake his or her hand and thank them for what they do.

Many years ago in school, I was taught that we have room for one flag, one language and our loyalty is to the American people. Also, we are one nation under God.

If this offends you, please feel free to leave. Canada and Mexico are easy to find. I know MY country is still under God.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Increased suspicious activity - mBSc

July 12-13, 2011
Colorado, USA


Texas -- This just in. ALERT ALERT ALERT





Monday, July 11, 2011

Belated mBSC Advisory

July 11, 2011
Colorado, USA







P.S. Perhaps the threat was not as dire as it initially seemed. It has come to my attention that one member of the mBSc ladies auxiliary "Laura" was present, so I'm certain the men were gentlemen after all.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Happy Birthday Tex!

July 9, 2011
Colorado, USA

Happy Birthday Tex!Wishing you weather cool enough to ride, the company of good friends and many, many, many happy returns. And don't forget - you must have CAKE! And CATFISH! And BEER!

Once again, Congratulations on your promotion to Patriot Guard Senior Ride Captain!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Road Trip #3, Day 5 - The Road Home

July 6, 2011
Colorado, USA

Time to take ourselves home... We did not tarry in Vernal, UT this morning. Tim confirmed what he suspected yesterday - the continental breakfast at our motel was unappealing and the coffee - ick!, the weather was damp and threatening worse and we wanted to get out of town before barricades to block the streets for the Dinosaur parade were erected.

Near Dinosaur, COWe ran out from under light rain as we rolled west on Hwy 40 toward Colorado. The Green River was flowing high. This is the first time we have traveled into Colorado along this route. The Dinosaur National Monument sits just over the border from Utah in Colorado. We did not plan to visit it this time through. We expected more out of the town named Dinosaur which does not have much to offer considering its proximity to the national park. The 90 miles or so between Dinosaur and Craig, CO had a few scenic stretches but nothing that would make us intentionally travel that stretch again.

By the time we rolled into Craig, we were thinking -- breakfast! We looked for interesting cafes but did not find much within a block or so of the highway so we settled on The Village Inn which is Colorado's version of an IHOP, the prices and the food are usually better and the pies are outstanding. We ordered big breakfasts and lots of coffee. It was free pie Wednesday so we topped off our breakfast with a slice of peach cream pie - yum!

Near Steamboat Springs, COSoon we were traveling the scenic highway into Steamboat Springs. The Yampa River was still out of its banks in some areas of the valley after record snows and the subsequent melt off. The Yampa Valley was green and lush, wildflowers blooming all along the way. As usual, part of this stretch of road was under construction so we spent a few minutes standing around waiting for our turn to travel the single lane open.

We stopped for gas in busy Steamboat Springs and then we stopped at one of the busiest McDonald's on the face of the earth for a cup of coffee. I usually cannot get out of there (both the city and the McDonalds) fast enough. Ha! As it is, we preferred to sit at one of the outside tables where we fed fussy magpies a few animal crackers.

Highway 40 travels over scenic Rabbit Ears Pass to Walden, CO. At an elevation of 9426 we had snow. Normally, we will find a bite to eat in Walden but today the clouds were gathering a little more steam so we stopped for only a few minutes before riding on.

Scenic Hwy 14 - CORiding east on Scenic Hwy 14 toward the Never Summer Mountains

Highway 14 west from Walden is also designated as scenic. This is a road we ride often. It travels past the Nokhu Crags through the Never Summer Mountains, over Cameron Pass (elevation 10,276) and eventually descends into a canyon which follows the winding Cache La Poudre River. The Poudre (Pooder) is still raging after record snowfall and melt off. As we came out of the canyon and traveled the last ten miles or so to the house, it looked like the clouds might get there ahead of us. We managed to ride in dry. The clouds brought rain and wind, thunder and lightning about ten minutes later.

Slide show of the ride home (72 photos):

Alternate link for this slide show

We traveled 1707 miles this road trip through some beautiful canyons in western Colorado and southern Utah and along some great scenic and winding roads.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Road Trip #3, Day 4 Scenic Ride Central Utah

July 5, 2011
Colorado, USA

We have not seen everything we wanted to see in southern Utah, but this morning it was time to point The Ride north and east. We rolled out of Panguitch, UT about 8 am under partly cloudy skies on Hwy 89, riding for a time past misty mountain-scapes and fog-laden valleys and farmlands. Hwy 89 follows the Sevier River through the edges of the Dixie National Forest and the Fishlake National Forest. The road travels through rugged, high-walled canyon lands as well.

Near Marysvale, UT there is a mountain and resort named after an old folk song - The Big Rock Candy Mountain. My grandmother (age 100) used to sing this song to me.
Big Rock Candy Mountain, Utah
Oh the buzzin’ of the bees
In the cigarette trees
Near the soda water fountain
At the lemonade springs
Where the bluebird sings
On the big rock candy mountain

As the story goes: Shortly after the release of the song in 1928, some local residents, as a joke, placed a sign at the base of a colorful mountain in Utah naming it “Big Rock Candy Mountain.” They also placed a sign next to a nearby spring proclaiming it 'Lemonade Springs.' These names stuck, and the mythical Big Rock Candy Mountain of the song became perhaps one of the most recognized geologic sites in west-central Utah. The mountain is huge, mostly yellow in color dappled with orange and red and white.

In Richfield, UT, we stopped for gas and a bite of breakfast. It must have been a forgettable breakfast because I cannot remember what it was. Ha! (Update: I was right - forgettable - Tim reminds me we had an Egg McMuffin at McDonalds.)

Manti Mormon TempleMiles away from the city of Manti, two twin towers were visible from the Sanpete Valley on the horizon. We thought they must be those of a courthouse or a very large church. As it turns out, the towers (179 feet tall) belong to the Manti Utah Mormon Temple, conceived by Brigham Young in 1875. It is third of five LDS temples built for the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. The site for the temple was the Manti Stone Quarry, a large hill immediately northeast of town. The area is known as Temple Hill. The massive limestone temple was completed in 1888.

The architecture in the little towns along the way is indicative of the late-1800s through the mid-1900s, much of it ornate in Victorian styling. Sadly, many of the buildings stand vacant and in disrepair.

We continued north on Hwy 89 until we reached the junction with Hwy 6. We would dip south again on Hwy 6 until we reached the town of Helper, UT. Actually we traveled the few miles to Price, UT just to check it out and returned to Helper where we filled the ride with gas and ourselves with ice cream sandwiches. The day had grown warm and the skies, surly.

Indian CanyonOut of Helper we took Hwy 191 to Duchesne (dew-shane). This stretch of road is also known as the Indian Canyon Scenic Byway. At least one summit was near 10,000 feet in elevation. The first thing of interest we passed was the Carbonville Cemetery along the side of the road. It appeared to be old and neglected. Some research claims there are graves dating back to the 1700s. As we rode along, the skies grew dark and the clouds that we had watched building over the horizon all morning finally pulled themselves together. Lightning creased the skies and thunder roared overhead, magnified by the canyon walls. As we rounded one bend about halfway along the fifty some odd mile stretch, we saw rain maybe a mile ahead. We stopped, pulled on the rain gear and tucked away the camera. A mile later, we were traveling in rain. We were slightly damp and chilled as we rolled into a convenience store in the the small town of Duchesne. We spoke briefly with a local man who stopped to admire the Harley and asked where we were headed. He commented briefly on the road ahead. He said he hunted mountain lion in Indian Canyon as a youngster.

The skies remained troubled and we ran through light showers as we headed northeast toward Vernal, UT. By the time we reached Vernal, we decided to call it a day. We found a room near downtown at the Econo-Lodge. Vernal was gearing up for a Dinosaur Days bash of some sort. The busy streets were congested with traffic and festival vendors trying to set up shop.

We strolled through the Veterans War Memorial Plaza on our way downtown to find a bite of supper. There are several memorial stones erected for all American Wars, a statue of a WWI soldier and a Vietnam era Cobra Helicopter on static display. Vernal is always decked out with flags and flowers. Baskets and baskets of flowers (mostly petunias) line Main Street. Giant dinosaur sculptures are everywhere and Vernal is home to the Utah Field House of Natural History where you will find an amazing dinosaur garden.

We found supper (but no beer) at the Ranch Restaurant. The meal was a bit pricey, but hot and tasty. Utah has some funky liquor laws. A couple of years ago, you had to join a club at a restaurant just to get served a beer. Now, in most restaurants, if you have beer with a meal, the limit is three per person. We stopped at another restaurant on the way back advertising beer and found we could not order a beer at all without ordering a meal. We walked on and finally found convenience store beer which we took back to our room.

FYI: A word about the Econo-Lodge. Don't do it! The room was over-priced and while it appeared nice on first impression, closer inspection proved otherwise. It took me about half an hour to realize one of the unknown scents (later identified as dirty mop smell) in the room was not emanating from us after a long day on the motorcycle but the area near the bathroom. We had a flat screen TV but half of the channels listed on the visitor sheet were unavailable. Later, we would have to call the office twice to report a neighbor who apparently had hooked up a play station to the TV and was bombing the hell out of something at full volume. Tim reported the continental breakfast looked like packaged muffins and dry cereal with no designated spot to eat. We will pass on that.

Here is a slide show of today's ride (103 photos):

Alternative link for this slide show

Today's ride was 285 scenic miles on roads we have not traveled before. Tomorrow, we ride for home...

Source Material:
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Manti Utah LDS (Mormon) Temple, 1888

Monday, July 4, 2011

Road Trip #3, Day 3 - Happy Independence Day Ride and More

July 4, 2011
Colorado, USA


Road Trip #3, Day 3 (part 1) - Parade, Cedar Breaks, Scenic Byway 143 aka Utah's Patchwork Parkway

We had a great night's rest at the Color Country Motel in Panguitch, UT. We rose somewhat earlier than we might have done because some enthusiastic local could not resist setting off a round of fireworks nearby about 6 am. Ha!

After our less than satisfactory experience with the Flying M Restaurant last night, we thought we'd ride out a few miles and see about rustling up breakfast elsewhere. As we were getting ready to ride we met a nice couple from Saint George, Utah who were friends with the owners of the motel. We got side-tracked talking about the balloon festival Panguitch hosts every June along with a motorcycle rally. The owner had already told us about it and after talking to this couple we thought it might just be a lot of fun to come back for the event.

Panguitch 4th of July ParadeGetting to the gas station proved interesting since law enforcement officials blocked the entire Main street and access to just about everything as they geared up for the annual 4th of July Kiddy parade. We rode several blocks around the town to finally make our way into the back side of a station about two blocks from the motel. By the time we filled up, the parade had begun so we left the Harley parked at the pump, walked to the curb and watched the parade. Just about every kid in town was in the parade including a few teens and adults and lots of pets. Just about every kid in the parade was riding something, from motorized battery cars, bicycles, scooters, motorcycles, wagons, go-carts, dune buggies, and every kind and size of ATV one could imagine. (This is off-road country.) And every one of them were flying the American flag. Wow! What a fun exhibition of small town patriotism. It made me proud.

As soon as the parade cleared, we made our way out of the crowded gas station and rode the back streets a few blocks before finding a cross street that was clear and let out on the highway. Today's plan was to ride Bryce Canyon early and finish the day off with a scenic byway loop.

As we rolled out of town I noticed a road sign that said, This is not Highway 89. What? We had missed the turn for Highway 89 because we rode the back streets out of town to get around the parade barricades. We were on Hwy 143. Oh well! Shall we do the scenic byway first then? Why not!

The Ride - Hwy 143 UtahHwy 143 is a nice ride. The road is smooth with lots of gentle curves winding through The Dixie National Forest and wildflower festooned roadsides, around rock outcroppings and past sage lands. We came upon Panguitch Lake and I noticed on the signage that we were traveling at 8400 feet in elevation. Neither one of us wanted to admit it I think, but it was chilly and getting more so. I discovered later that this route exhibits a 4,500-foot elevation change. We stopped at the first pullover and put on the denim jackets.

Before long, we remarked on the large lava flow fields alongside the road. A look at the map later revealed this area is known as the Markagunt Plateau Lava flows. These flows are only a few thousand years old.

The road climbed and the terrain became alpine meadow, colored by vast expanses of wildflowers just reaching their first bloom. We had snow beside the road. Turning south onto the six mile Cedar Breaks Scenic Byway (U148), we pulled over at a lookout point to admire the area known as Cedar Breaks National Monument, described as an amphitheater, over 2000 feet deep with a view that extends over 100 miles.

Tim - Cedar Breaks Overlook - Utah USATim - Cedar Breaks Overlook - Utah USA

Vik - Cedar Breaks Overlook - Utah USAVik - Cedar Breaks Overlook - Utah USA

Soon we were traveling southwest along the very busy Markagunt High Plateau Scenic Byway (U14) finally turning north on Highway 89 aka Heritage Hwy. All along the way we looked for breakfast and bypassed a couple of places where in hindsight we think we might should have stopped. The small town of Hatch looked promising. We chose the Cactus Cowboy Restaurant on the outskirts of town. Having missed breakfast, we ordered lunch (burger/sandwich) and a sweet concoction called a red white and blue something or other. It was tasty. The service was quick and efficient, the food was prepared well and served fast. The decor was old cafe with several life size cardboard cutouts of western characters scattered about (John Wayne, Roy Rogers, Lone Ranger and Tonto). There was some nice western artwork and lots of old vintage photos and posters. The gift shop was mostly out of date souvenirs and not very interesting.

I picked up a bookmark size brochure that told an interesting story...
The Quilt Walk: When Mormon pioneers settled the area in 1864, both the lake and the new community took on the name Panguitch. Life was hard for those early settlers. At an elevation of 6,630 feet above sea level, in mountain country near Bryce Canyon, the growing season is short and winters can be harsh.

That first year was cold and crops froze before reaching maturity. The settlers grew dangerously hungry. A group of seven men volunteered to go over the mountain to an established settlement to obtain flour. They braved snow so deep, they had to abandon their wagons and walk much of the way. While walking, they would fall through the snow's crust. But these men found a way to get through. They placed a quilt down on the snow and walked to the end of it. Then they would place another quilt down and retrieve the first quilt. By "quilt walking" the men made it to the settlement and obtained flour to bring home to feed the starving settlers. Their return trip was even harder, because they had to carry the flour over the mountain.

Slide show of today's ride (part 1 = 83 photos)

Alternate link to this slide show

Road Trip #3, Day 3 (part 2) - Bryce Canyon

We came out of our jackets again. About 8 miles out of Hatch, we turned east onto Scenic Hwy 12 which bears the All American Road designation. We back tracked on Hwy 12 (this is the road we came in on yesterday) and had the pleasure of riding through Red Canyon again. We turned north on UT63 which goes through the resort area known as Bryce Canyon City and leads to the entrance of Bryce Canyon National Park. The fee to enter the park for two people on a motorcycle is $24 (FYI: They cannot break $50 or $100 bills).

The canyon is named for Ebenezer and Mary Bryce who lived in the area 1875-1880. The Bryce Canyon Lodge, built in the 1920s is located in the park near Sunrise Point. Wonderful cabins. The paved park road is very nice. It travels about 18 miles in and is lined for the most part with forest. Scenic points are clearly marked and all the pullouts and parking areas (at least the ones we used) are paved. The elevation of the park is near 9000 at some points. There are many hiking trails in the canyon. Colors in Bryce Canyon are the result of oxidized minerals -- red, pink, orange from iron, purple from manganese, the whites are from limestone. The rock formations are known as HooDoos. HooDoo = pinnacle of rock created by the forces of erosion.

Our first view of Bryce Canyon - Wow!Our first view of Bryce Canyon - Wow!

Our first stop (we missed the first one located outside the entrance) was Sunrise Point (elevation 8017). Oh my goodness! We had seen a few photos in our research that led us to this area but we had no idea of the grandeur we were about to behold. I cannot begin to describe how beautiful it is. Stunning. And the view changes with light and shadow. Each point had its own charm.

After stopping at the first point, we realized that all the points overlooked the east side. So, to avoid crossing traffic the whole way, we traveled to the far end and worked our way back.

Vik and Ravens - Bryce Canyon - UtahAt Pondersoa Point (elevation 8904) we encountered a couple of friendly ravens. The pair didn't mind posing with dozens of tourists including me. Ha! We worked our way along, stopping at nearly each point and strolling along the rim, pausing to sit and snap far too many photos. The park was busy today. Very busy. One thing we noted is that there were a good many international visitors. I recognized dialects from Sweden, Germany, Japan, China, Italy and France among the crowds. I brushed elbows more than once with a man from Georgia and a couple of other bonafide Americans.

The art of erosion and the tenacity of lifeThe art of erosion and the tenacity of life

Bryce Canyon Utah

Click here to play

Bryce Canyon Slide Show (104 Photos - trimmed down from about 500 shots):

Alternate Link to this slide show

Road Trip #3, Day 3 (part 3) - Red Canyon

Red Canyon is located along Scenic Byway 12 aka All American Highway 12, just 9 miles from Bryce Canyon. Red Canyon's arid desertscape is peopled with sandstone HooDoos. We rode this canyon three times over the course of this road trip - it was a great scenic ride and we loved riding through the arches.

Slide show of Red Canyon (30 photos):

Alternate link to this slide show

Cowboy's Smokehouse - PanguitchBy the time we rode out of Bryce Canyon, we were ready to freshen up and find supper and beer. As we moseyed back into town, I noticed the restaurant the owner of our motel had mentioned was open. We parked The Ride in front of the room and covered it. Then we strolled downtown to Cowboy's Smokehouse. We loved this place as soon as we walked in the door and got a whiff of Mesquite BBQ and heard live music. We were seated immediately and served our beers before we could crack open the menu. I ordered the beef brisket, Tim ordered a sampler platter. Tim had the pinto beans, I had the baked beans. Both were tasty. The potato salad was thick and chunky. The service was fast, friendly and efficient. Our waitress was very attentive. The decor was western lodge cafe and very informal. The entertainer (trying to get his name) was great, He sang a selection of songs you rarely hear these days, kind of country folks songs like Moriah, Ghost Riders in the Sky and so on. I loved it.

After dinner, we walked the rest of Main Street and back to our motel, settling in the chairs outside our door with a convenience store beer served up in plastic cups. We spoke with some of our neighbors as they walked by and checked in with the rest of the world on the laptop. At dusk, we decided to walk a few blocks south toward the rodeo arena and happened upon what looked like a small park. This was the place to see the fireworks I guess because at least half the town was there. Near dark, we got a rumble out of the sky. And then, we got a big light show compliments of Mother Nature followed by some large raindrops plopping on our head. Not being all that interested in making ourselves a conductor of electricity, we slowly started making our way out of the park and back the few blocks to the motel. Most of the other people on foot were doing the same thing. About halfway back the skies let loose and we arrived at our room's door slightly damp.

I told Tim they better light the fuse quick. They did. It sounded like they lit every firework they had at one time. Ha! The whole shebang was over in less than five minutes and that in the middle of a downpour.

No matter, we have had a great day - seen some amazing things - and have come away grateful that we live in such a glorious country with the freedom to go where we please and celebrate as we choose. I say it again:

Happy Independence Day USA - Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park
Scenic Byway 143 - Utah's Patchwork Parkway
Red Canyon
Cedar Breaks National Monumnet

Happy Independence Day USA!

July 4, 2011
Colorado, USA

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Road Trip #3, Day 2 - Utah Canyon after Canyon Ride

July 3, 2011
Colorado, USA

Road Trip #3, Day 2 - Utah Canyon after Canyon ride

Panguitch, UT -- We rested well in our room at the Monticello Inn and slept in a little after yesterday's 501 mile ride across Colorado and down scenic Hwy 141. But, the motel fell somewhat short of making the Great Places to Stay list. The room was clean and cozy. We had WIFI, but no cell service (would have been nice to know in advance). The water pressure was really low (the shower ran about as well as a pinched water hose), the blow dryer failed to work this morning and no one could be raised in the office by any means. Hmmmm...

We rolled out around 9 am and my hair dried on the short ride to the gas station just up the street. There, we met a nice couple out of Farmington, NM who were out trying to get the first 1000 miles on a beautiful 2011 Ultra in a color called dark candy rootbeer/merlot sunglo I believe. So, by the time we hit the road (Hwy 191 S) it was near 10 am. We had clear blue skies and warm weather.

Brunch at the Old Tymer Restaurant - Balnding, UTAs we rode away from Monticello we had a good look at the Abajo "Blue" Mountains. Both the motel manager and the waitress said it was beautiful drive up there. It was tempting. Between Monticello and Blanding we rode along the edge of Recapture Reservoir.

After only a few miles, breakfast started dominating the conversation. We found chicken fried steak and eggs at the Old Tymer Restaurant in Blanding, UT. It is a nice restaurant, with fast, friendly service. We had the special priced at $6.99 and both the food and coffee were good. Every plate that whizzed by looked great! It is where the locals eat. YUM! We are thinking Blanding might be a better place to spend the night in this neck of the woods.

After brunch, we continued south out of Blanding on Hwy 191 for about four miles until the junction at Hwy 95 which is known as the Bicentennial Highway (it was paved in 1976) and it is also designated as part of the Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway. Highway 95 runs 122 miles between the cutoff at Blanding to the town of Hanksville where it junctions with Hwy 24. It crosses Cottonwood Wash almost immediately then follows and crosses White Canyon and a little over 50 miles out travels through Fry Canyon. Fry's Canyon (also known as Fry's Gulch) is a small community (all we saw was a small motel and what might have been a gas pump some distance off the road) that was allegedly a uranium mining boom town in the 1950s. The road eventually crosses the Colorado River and the northeast end of Lake Powell at Hite Crossing Bridge, near the confluence of the Dirty Devil River which it crosses just two miles later.

Hwy 95, UtahThis was an amazingly scenic ride, through some desert-like terrain but mostly through canyons and around rock outcroppings one could see from miles away. One looked like a yurt Tim said, another looked like a gloved hand, still another sat atop a butte and looked like a chair which we discovered later was named Jacob's Butte Chair. We stopped for a stretch on the north end of Lake Powell just after crossing the Hite Bridge, hot and thirsty. A look at the thermometer on the bike along the way indicated the temp around the bike was 100 degrees. Now we are not complaining. We set out to ride in a warmer/dryer climate. At the risk of ridicule (considering how many TX/OK people read this blog), I'll say it was HOT!

Note: Let us digress. The difference between Hot there (Texas) and Hot here (the arid southwest) is: In Texas during triple digit weather you can crack an egg on the sidewalk and fry it. In Utah during triple digit weather, you can whip the egg, add a little cheese, sit it on the sidewalk in a cup and have quiche. Ha!

Mini Movie of Hwy 95

Riding Scenic Hwy 95 Utah

Click here to play

Slide show (part 1 = 72 photos):

Link to this slide show.

Hwy 95, UtahScenic Highway 95, Utah

Hite Crossing Bridge - Hwy 95, UtahHite Crossing Bridge - In 1880 a prospector named Cass Hite established a ford near the mouth of the Dirty Devil River, 2 miles downstream from the present-day bridge location. This ford, named "Dandy Crossing", served as one of the few locations in the region where travelers could cross the Colorado River. The settlement which formed at the crossing location took the name of its founder, Hite.

The Ride - Lake PowellThe Ride at the north end of Lake Powell - Hwy 95, Utah. Lake Powell is 186 miles long and has 1960 miles of shoreline. It is the second largest reservoir in North America.

Tim at the north end of Lake Powell - Hwy 95, Utah

Vik at the north end of Lake Powell - Hwy 95, Utah

Anyway, by the time we reached Hanksville (now about 75 miles along this stretch of road), we were hot, dry and ready for an ice cream break... and so was everyone else in the area. Since housing was almost non-existent along the highway, we were thinking the area is sparsely populated - these people had to be from the lake. Stan's Burger Shak was at the convenience store where we stopped. The line to place an order was about thirty people deep and seating was near capacity. We opted for ice cream now - a couple of ice cream sandwiches from the freezer suited us just fine. I believe there was one other cafe and gas station in this busy little town and a small motel, not much more. Considering the distance between towns thus far and the fact that it was a Sunday, we topped off the tank before rolling out again.

Slide show (part 2 = 73 photos):

Link to this slide show.

Refreshed, we began the second leg of today's 300+ mile journey about 2:30 pm, traveling Highway 24 west which took us through the Glen Canyon area and across Capitol Reef National Park before reaching the next turn on our journey. It was hard to tell where one canyon ended and the next began. Photos will not do justice to the scope and grandeur of it.

Behunin Cabin, built 1882We stopped at one point alongside a point of interest called the Behunin Cabin. It is a stone cabin built by Elijah Cutler Behunin and his family of ten in 1882 when they settled on the narrow floodplain of the Fremont River in southern Utah. They lived near Fruita, where Mormons were settled and established orchards that gave the area its name. A family of ten! The cabin might be large enough to adequately house the Harley and little more. We stopped briefly again at a rest stop with a little stream of water running through it called Muddy Creek and then continued on our way.

Old schoolhouse, Fruita historical areaOld schoolhouse, Fruita historical area

Scenic Hwy 12 and 24

Click here to play

Slide show (part 3 = 74 photos):

Link to this slide show.

In the small town of Torrey we took Highway 12 toward Escalante, traveling south through the Dixie National Forest, over what is known as Boulder Mountain (Summit elevation 9600) and The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. It was cooler! At the busy Larb Hollow Overlook, a few miles south of Grover, UT we spoke with another biker couple (from Utah) who asked which direction we were heading. When we told them and said how much we had enjoyed the ride so far - the guy just grinned and said - it gets better. They were right - I could not snap pictures quick enough. At one point the road travels over a hogback and falls away to reveal canyons on both sides. I believe the drop is about 1000 feet to the canyon floor in some areas. I read something that said mail was delivered in this area by mule until the 1970s. The road ascends and descends drastically along the way from 4000 feet to 9600 feet to 6000 feet. I believe I remember seeing at least two 14% downhill grade signs. The topography changes around every curve...

Grand Staircase Escalante Utah

Click here to play

Slide show (part 4 = 119 photos):

Link to this slide show.

We stopped in the small town of Escalante to stretch and get something to drink, both of us eager to talk about what we had just seen. The only convenience store in town was closed, so we helped ourselves to a cold drink out of a vending machine and got out the animal crackers. We talked with a couple of young guys on dirt (off-road) bikes who had stopped for fuel and were trying to get their bearings. They were dirty, hot, hungry and SMILING. I forget where they were from (northern Idaho I think). They were headed to Phoenix, AZ across country (stopping only in towns long enough to get gas and food). One laughed and said they couldn't travel highways much as the bikes were not licensed for the road. They asked us about the area behind us and looked at our map. They were trying to find food before riding into the hills and finding a place to camp for the night. I gotta tell you - thinking about the terrain we just skirted - I think they are crazy - but, I also think they are having the summer of a lifetime. We wished them well, told them to ride safe (although I hardly think that was the idea) and rode out as they were packing their stuff back on their bikes.

We were still on Hwy 12 riding in and out of and along the Grand Staircase heading southwest toward Henrieville. Before Henrieville we reached a summit labeled 7600. Like the Boulder Mountain summit we crossed earlier, this actually indicates the summit of a high plateau. I discovered later that this is the summit of Kaiparowits (kye-pah-ro-its) Plateau. The road descended into an area known as the Kodachrome Basin, would turn north at this point and eventually intersect with Highway 89 which would take us to the small town of Panguitch, our destination. We picked up more clouds than sun on this part of the ride so the pics are not as clear as we would have them. Red Canyon must be spectacular in the sunlight. We plan to ride back that way tomorrow on our way to Bryce Canyon National Park.

We are delighted with our cozy motel room at the Color Country Motel in Panguitch, UT. The owner, Lance greeted us with a smile and pointed us to a room on the back side of the office area. It is out of sight of the street and so far, quiet. The room is immaculate and has a good a/c and a ceiling fan. We are already talking about extending our stay here another night.

It being Sunday night and a holiday weekend, just about everything is closed in town. The restaurant that Lance recommended downtown is not open on Sunday. The other options were a pizza place on the far end of town (too far to walk), an Arby's in a gas station downtown, a Subway in a gas station a couple of blocks away and one cafe/restaurant. So we walked a few more blocks to the latter which we saw on our ride-by earlier.

Now, it was about 7 pm or so and we discovered the rest of the tourists in town had the same dilemma. No place to eat. We ended up standing in line forever for a seat at the Flying M Restaurant. I am thinking we would have been better off with a sandwich from Arby's or the Subway and convenience store beer. The dining area looked a little dingy and dirty. Half of the tables were not bussed, the other half were filled with what appeared to be hungry, disgruntled tourists and ornery, loud children. When we finally got seated by a grumpy hostess/waitress we were informed by Ms Grumpy they were working short-handed and that someone (not her - thank goodness) would see to our needs as soon as they were able. That someone waited on at least three other tables (seated after us) before she got to us just to take our drink order. We ordered beer and water before she could disappear again. With a couple of beers on the table we thought we were in no rush to order, although had we waited much longer we might have been able to squeak in Thanksgiving dinner. As it is, we did not get to order what we wanted. They were out of any kind of steak that could be broiled or grilled, they were out of turkey pot pie, they were out of spaghetti and they were out of BBQ. We managed to get chicken fried steak ordered with potatoes but the other veggie would be a surprise we were told (whatever they had in the kitchen). The waitress asked soup or salad and seemed puzzled when Tim informed her that the salad bar was empty (he had just checked it). So, our option was vegetable soup, the likes of which I haven't tasted since I was in Jr High School. It was about 8:30 before we got the second beer. It was about 9 pm before we got bread and butter. The bread was good, but I am thinking cardboard and butter would have tasted good by then. It was about 9:20 pm before we got our over-priced meal and a third beer (for Tim). Tim ordered a 4th beer but Utah liquor laws are funky so they would not serve him a 4th beer. I ordered a third beer and slid it across the table as soon as the waitress turned her back. Yep - we regretted not going to Subway. It was after 10 pm before we got back to our motel.

Slide show (part 5 = 40 photos):

Link to this slide show.

The amazing ride today was about 335 miles or so. Tim and I agree - the best thing about two days of riding in both Colorado and Utah's canyon country is that we traveled seemingly deserted highways with a jaw-dropping view around just about every curve. Yep! We had the roads and the views almost to ourselves and loved every mile of it.

What follows are just a few photos of the mind-boggling sights we saw along the road today.