June 2017 Bike Trip

June 2017.  Earlier in the year the company I worked for announced a new vacation policy.  Basically limiting the amount of vacation that a person could carry over from year to year.  So, had a delemma.  I had carried over into 2017 the maximum number of hours I could accrue and was taking smaller vacations to just keep it near max, which was 200 hours (Yeah, I know, rough problem to have.  But it's because there was a big project at work and I just couldn't find the time to take off.).  So, had what I carried over the year before, and what I would earn this year.  Thought about it and decided to just take the whole month of June off.  Decission done.

Now the questions was, what to do?  First thought was to ride the motorcycles (Jessica and I) to Alaska and back.  But the more I looked into it, the more I thought... meh... Do I want to get eaten by moquitos the size of buzzards.  I had already been to Alaska, thoug not on bike.  I also wondered if Jessica could do it, because there would be lots of gravel, and her an gravel don't get along.   Then I thought, how about just go into Canada, get the passport stamped, cut west, come out in Oregan or Washinton, etc..  Then I thought, if I'm on the bike for a month, riding 300+ miles a day, I'm going to need a vacation from my vacation... like I always do... lol...

A new plan formed.  Take the first week and go to the Virgin Islands, get some sun, sand, do some snorkeling, hiking, then come back and go southwest; down to Kansas, cut acrossl Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, up through Arizona, into CO to see my daughter and grand kids, then back home.  All back roads, of course.  Sold.

Thursday June 15th

Get right into it.  Mid day, somewhere in IL.

The excitement started a couple hours after this photo.  Dark sky started rolling in, the winds started kicking up like I hadn't seen a while.  Stuff was blowing across the road.  Jessica was starting to slow down cause the wind was freaking her out.  It started raining and I was it was going to come down good.  First chance I got I turned on some kind of gravel road or drive and headed for a treed area to get some shelter from the wind and rain.  When the front passed through we got out the rain gear and got back at it.  It was coming down pretty hard and at the next intersection I saw a big warehouse, and not much else.  I took a bet that it would have an awning in back so I signaled and Jessica follewed me back and around, and sure enough there was a big cannopy.  We pulled under it to wait it out.

A guy came out of the building, said he saw us coming, and waved us to pull the bikes under.  He had broom in had and we talked to him for about 45 minutes as the storm blew over.  He was a big simple guy.  Said he'd never been outside of this small Illinois town we were near.  He was a character, and when we told him we were headed way out west, it put a smile on his face and he was just jabbering away.   After the storm passed we shook hands, said good bye and continued.

We rode until just before 7:00 pm.  Everything was still wet so, it was motel time.  We got to a town and gas station and looked up the cheapest motel I could find.  I forget how much it was, $40... it was over priced... There literally were no lites in the bathroom, though there was an exposed heater in the ceiling... so we hurried to take showers before it got dark, and the wiring in the place was pretty sketch, as well as some of the people staying there.  There was also something sticky scattered on the rug... but, the bed looked clean enough and if you just kept your shoes on when walking around... lol

Yeah, that birck wall and wiring are INSide the room...  I think this was somewhere in MO.

Friday June 16th

We made our way down to Arkansas and were around Lake Norfork by about 9:00 am.  It was nice riding, in the 70's and cloudy for a while.

We were by Sam's Throne Campground by about noon.  Which is along route 128.  Amazing roads.

Can't really remember now if it was before or after this stop, but we ended up on a narrow two lane road that twisted up into the hills, and we quickly found out that when it said 10-15 mph speed limit, they meant it.  You really could not take the switchbacks any faster than that.  Jessica blew a corner and ran into the oncoming lane before she got the idea (luckily no cars), and I came into one corner way to fast and had to stand it up and hit the breaks hard before leaning it at the last minute.   After that it was all smoth sailing.  We stopped after and just laughed about how much fun it was.  This might have been the stop because were were just grinning ear to ear.  In which case it would be a section of 123?  No shortage of nice twisty roads around there.

Saturday June 17th

I should say that somewhere around here, temperatures really started going up.  Early morning was actually nice, just on the verge of drizzling, but as the day cleared and we got further into Oklahoma the temperature was hitting over 100 degrees, and humid.

As the state goes, the roads start out alright but after a while it's just straight roads with nothing much to see.

Sunday June 18th

By about 9:00 am we were a the Texas border... A state I hadn't been to yet.  Again it started out overcast, but soon as the clouds cleared the temperature shot up.  We shot through just the northern part of the state and for the most part, a whole lot of nothing.   At one point there was a lot of wind blowing around, and all the red dirt was flying in the air.  At some points it was like driving through fog.  But mostly it looked like we were on Mars.

Tell you what, there's some tumbleweed town in northern Texas...  Felt like we stepped into a time warp...

Then the Martian sky.  Guess the road must have flooded because there were areas where this dust obvioulsy was cleared off by a bulldozer in the lower sections.

Texas hill country?

As I recall it was actually chilly for the first time.  But not to fear.. .the sun came back out again...

Did I mention there was no one out on the roads...

As I recall, we were on this road and there was a detour saying closed bridge several miles ahead.  We were running low on gas and had to decide which way to go.  The detour would take us miles out of the way.  So, we took a chance and went for the bridge... instead of closed bridge, we found a nice new bridge and a gas station not long after that.  We may have been in New Mexico by then.

Can't remember where we stayed, the night, but I know we didn't camp... cause who wants to camp after you've been riding all day in 100+ degree temperatures, sweating, and it's till 90's and humid.

Monday June 19th

We were back on the road  before 9:00.  And there is not much to see in New Mexico.  Beautiful in it's isolation and baren land.

And apparently it was too hot to keep your shirt on.   I did finally convince Jes that the better approach is to have a shirt but wet it for cooling.  She got the hand of it, and there was a lot more heat coming.   We were art the Arizona border around noon.

Must say though, the roads in Arizone are nicer than New Mexico.   Close to 5:00 that day we hit a really nice piece of road that wound down into a vally and than back out.  It was beautiful.

Someone is taking selfies again...Hey, you want to speed it up, there's rain coming.  Actually the shade and some moistness was welcome, but as we were riding back out of the valley, it got chilly and the wind was really blowing hard.  We moved along...

See that road just snaking down there along the river?  S-weeeeet....

How hot was it?  Well, this is at 6:30 in the evening. Oh yeah... the amount of heat coming off the bikes and just blowing past us was staggering.  Like riding into an oven.  Lots of shirt wetting kept us from overheating.

Again, considered it, but decided against sleeping in a hot tent.  Needed some serious showers.

Somewhere in all this riding we saw a place called I'll Do Motel... Yeah, in some of these town, pretty much anything will do, just get me in an air conditioned room... whew!

We ended up in a Motel 6 for the night that happened to have an outdoor pool.  Man, that felt good.  All day of heat and sweating and then into a relatively cold pool... aaaaaaaaaahhhhhh...

Tuesday June 20th

This is us about noon, trying to get some shade from the heat.  Holly cow!  Turned out that this particular week that we were riding, there was a record heat wave across the dessert southwest.  One thing difficult to find in Eastern Arizone is shade.  Even when we soaked our shirts, within 15 minutes or less we were dry and heating up again.

That day I do know where we stayed, in Prescott AZ, at Jes's cousin's.  We got there early afternnoon and immediately thought, this traffick sucks. Stop and go, in the heat... could have been worse, but needed some air flow! They lived in the hills and we followed the GPS until it kind of didn't know where the address was... and we were already on a dead end gravel road and ended up in someone's driveway.  Just as I was trying to figure it out, Jes's cousin comes in a car.  I guess they saw us coming up the road, because their house was just a bit behind us, and then down and up a  dirt road into their driveway.   From where we were, there was a little back down hills and then a nasty right angle, that seemed like you were just going to rid of the edge.  Jessica went first, I got myself turned around and then down the dirt road, then flat, then back up the hill, and what did I see?  Jessica had fallen over.  The road was steep and she would have been ok if she just went straight and to the flat area in  front of their drive, but she tried turning into it, hit some gravel, stalled out, and over she went.   I couldn't really stop, so I just went to the flat area, got myself off as quickly as I could and helped her lift up her bike, which was leaking anti-freeze from the fill bottle.   Well, she was ok, and the bike was fine after I did another oil filter burp and put some more anti-freeze in int.  But, that's one way to make an entrance!

We spent the day with them, and their three, minature doberman pinchers... no they are not chiuaua's... they have longer legs....Honestly, it was rough sleeping that night... we had a couple fans blowing on us in their spare bedroom, but it barely cooled off over night, and on top of that, it was really dry... it was a lot of tossing and turning.  But it was good to visit. Next day I did make sure that I rode Jes's bike down and up the dirt road, so that we could get through the day without having to do another oil filter burp.

Wednesday June 21st

Off to see one of the biggest holes in the earth... the Grand Canyon, South rim.  

One of the better times of the day was the few miles of 86A leading up to Jerome.  That is an awsome twisty piece of road.  If you're in the area, don't pass it up.  Jerome itself is a town literally on the side of a cliff... I mean there are narrow noads and switchbacks, things are tight... I'm thinking of all the places to pick and build a town.  Apparently it'a big biker draw every year.  The town gets packed.  And there's no gas station there, probably because you couldn't get a gas truck through it.

From there it was Sedona and Flagstaff, which is such a tourist trap.   Actually the scenery reminded me a lot of Moab.  

Yes, there was stuff on fire... I'm surpirsed there wasn't more, with all the heat.  Actually, a day or two later, Jes's cousin had to evacuate their house because of fires back in Prescott theat were threatening their house.  

Well, we made it to the Grand Canyon!  Ready for takeoff!

And we were off, Northwest to Colorado.  This was about 3:xx in the afternoon, the height of the heat... We stopped at an Oasis at route 64 and 89, and I recall check ing the temperature, which showed 123 degrees.   The excitement at the stop was Jessica loosing her key, which happened to get swiped up with the garbage and into the trash... Luckily she found it!

After eating and cooling off we took off for Kayeta Mounument... not to see the monument, but stay at the Wetherill Inn.  More cold showers and relaxation... Nope, not a whole lot of camping going on ths trip.

By the way, Kayeta Mounument is a rock, in the middle of nowhere, that apparently grew a town around it.

Thursday June 22nd

So apparently a trip from Arizona into Colorado takes you into the World Famous...  four corner...Which is ... where four state borders meet... well, close anyway.. and where there really is not much to see... plus they want you to pay to get in and see nothing... So, we just parked it by the side of the road and took some photos to prove we stop at noting...

Hello..  any reception out here!...  Actually I think there was...

And then 1:30 in the afternoon, we get into Colorado and the world begins to change... Cool air, green, and turbulant rivers... I love Colorado... We spent a good half hour at this road side having a snack and enjoying the sight and sound.  I thnk I had a half day old, dried up egg McMuffin I dug out of my bag... Yum...

After six day of progressively hotter and hotter temperatures, getting into the 70's was plain chilly, but felt so good.  

As I recall, we got through Telluride that day, thought about finding a camp site then continued on to Montrose.

Friday June 23rd

Out of Montrose we took 50 out to 92.  If 50 isn't nice enough, 92 seems like it just goes on forever... endless curves, amazing scenery, you want to stop every mile and just take it all in.

I'd been through this area before, but it doesn't get old.

That day we rode all the way to Meeker and ACTUALLY CAMPED just outside of town!  We were going to head out toward Boalder, but my daughter wasn't home yet from a school retreat, so we basically just rode around to kill a couple days.  Rough job, I know... and it was all sunshine and blue skies.. and NOT 125 degrees...  Why no more pics?   Because my camera ran out of charge and I forgot to bring my charging chord... sigh... I think the rest of these were from my phone...

Found a nice RV park that had some huge camp sites, showers, etc.. We were the only tenters there.  We  had some food we had baught along the way and had a feast.

Saturday June 24th

To put it mildly, we froze our buns off that night.  It got down to just above 40, which doesn't seem that bad, but when you're body is used to 100 degree days... brrrrrr... The cold woke us up, we got our selves together and took off early, I think around 7:00.  It was a cold ride the few miles into town to have breakfast.  I must have downed about 8 cups of decaff coffee to get my body temperature back up... wondering now why I didn't put my heated vest on... what was I an idiot?  We put them on AFTER the restaurant, that's for sure.

That day was pretty short.  Rode from Meeker to Kremmling via 13 and 40.

That night we stayed in Kremmling in what I found in Google maps as a local  hotel for $40.  Can't beat the price, but actually that was for a room with no bathroom, it was down the hall..  I paid the extra $20 for the in room bathroom.  Hotel Eastin.  That was something.  The caretakers were an old woman and man that used their life savings to buy this old hotel, which was once home to people like Zane Gray, who was a famous a Western Author, our room actually had a whole row of his books on the table.  All the rooms were themed and we were in the Zane Gray room.  Other people also stayed there like John Wayne.  The work in the rooms was amazing.  She decorated and he fabricated and fixed.  And these rooms were just the size you would see in the old western movies.   On top of that, when we walk in it smells like cookes because, well, she's baking cookies, so we got it fresh out of the oven because we arrived relatively early.  On top of that, the lobby was basically their living room... in addition to cookies, there was a jigsaw puzzle on a table that anyone could assist with, and the window sill, which stretched the width of the room, was filled from one end to the other with bobblehead dolls.  Bobbleheads from all over the world, sent to them by guests who had stayed there.

Look at the copyright...can't be used for "talking-picture purposes"...

If you're in the area, stay there.

Sunday June 25th

In no hurry, and we needed to bide our time some more, so... we had run into a couple bikers the day before at a stop just outside of town.  He said we have to go to Mount Evans.  Ok then.  We went from Kremmling down through Winter Park (beautiful road) hit I-70 for a while, got off on 103 to head for Mount Evans.  At the base of the mountain it was just a mad house... traffic and parking lots stacked up everywhere.  Didn't help that it was a weekend.  We're like, ah... no... We took the road less traveled which was Squaw Pass.  Wow, what a way to finish up the trip... This road is amazing.  Endless curves and peaks out at just under 10,000 foot elevation.

Just south of Winter Park Resort... excellent place to go Snowboarding too!


That's near peak elevation.  After that it was all down hill and more amazing road.

And we spend the next two days hanging around with my daughter, her husbands, and my grandkids.  

On The Road Again, Wednesday 28th

Contrary to last years trip we had time, so we took back roads all the way from CO to IL.  So, aside from two sections of I-70 in CO, the whole trip was backroads... the only way to do it...  


The worse part of the trip was the heat and the resulting but rash I got... I literally had blisters from the endless heat... It was not comfortable.  

So, I've made a small modd to my seat... White, so it doesn't get hot sitting in the sun, and totally reshaped it to get me some more support and less pressure points...

What's next?   I think it's time to venture ouside the border... and head down the America's... If that works out, it's time for the rest of this world... Will I take the Bandit?  Not exactly a dual sport bike, and the fact that it weighs 550 pounds unloaded doesn't bode well if I were to drop it with gear and all, on some muddy gravel road...  Might have to get something more appropriate...