Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day 13 - Billions and Billions of Miles! (in your best Carl Sagan voice)

Sorry to report, another non-picture day today. Today was about covering miles again. We broke into two groups, Brian, Keith and Bob doing mostly Interstates to get to Joplin, Missouri, the rest of us taking secondary highways and such to hopefully meet at the same destination. Turns out that if we didn't hit a few hiccups along the way, we would have likely arrived with in minutes of each other. Oklahoma Rt. 64 did some crazy 50-mile southerly job and put us almost an hour off course, then OK Rt. 20 was closed in sections with no apparent signage for detours. We probably wasted close on to two and a half hours with those two bits of silliness.

Beaver, Oklahoma is now my favorite town. No... that's not why. We were 50 miles into reserve, thru' two towns and several gas stations that no longer sell gas when we found Beaver. They had a gas station and that means I didn't have to walk 30 or more miles, or be eaten by some of Wayne's mutant killer cows like in some bad ripoff of a Steven King novel. My Harley has a 6-gallon tank. No exaggeration - I pumped in 5.97 gallons of fuel. Wayne's 5.5 gallon tank took 5.45 gallons.

Oklahoma is freaking big and there is NOTHING in the pan handle. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing.

Oh, for Christmas the family bought me cruise control for the Harley. I know, it seems silly, and I'll admit to having doubts as to whether it would really be all that helpful a feature to have. But as it turns out, I've discovered - thanks to the ridiculously EMPTY vastness of outer space (read as: Northern Texas and Oklahoma), I have many things to do with my hands since they're no longer needed to maintain throttle control for three-hour stretches (no, not that!).

You can...

* learn to mimic the secret hoof language of the deadly killer cows
* air-drum every Def Leppard song in your music library
* figure out all the intricacies of the aerodynamics of the Harley fairing, and the crappy aerodynamics from up under the gas tank, causing my buffeting. I have a fix designed in my head and just need to build a prototype. WOOT!
* become ridiculously proficient at programming your GPS to play Mary Had a Killer Cow in three different keys
* decide if/where to move or adjust your handle bars when you return from the trip
* find 37 different ways to use your camelbak hydration system while it's bungee-netted to the back seat
* practice your Miss America beauty pageant wave
* give your riding buddies the finger over and over again, smiling with satisfaction that your bike will hold a steady speed while they try to lock their silly little throttle locks to give you the finger right back
* wave to farmers
* wave to cowboys
* wave to road-construction workers
* wave to the old guy cutting the three blades of grass he calls a front lawn
* rinse, repeat

Oh. My. God. I've never ridden more boring roads in my life.

But hey... we rode a 600+ mile day and found a motel for $54/night. SCORE!!! Tomorrow we head East, Keith, Adrian, Wayne and I. Bob and Brian are splitting off to bee-line home. Good luck guys, be safe.

And that, as they say, is that for today. It's late. I'm tired. Morning comes early. 'night night.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Day 12 - Miles, money and mistakes

Today was just about covering miles. No pictures from me on this one. We left Durango and headed out 160 to 64 to 87 and on to Clayton, NM. Parts of 64 completely rocked. We went thru' some mountains and had a grand old time running some fast twisties through the Carson forest. Awesome!

We got in to Clayton and I started making plans for some riding in Texas, catch up with some people... I've been promised *real* Texas BBQ! Then I checked my bank account. Yikes! Crazy I thought I was keeping better track of things. I might have to dig in to household money to get home and that's worrisome to me. Gas has been consistently more expensive then I'd planned, as has food. I splurged and got my own room a few more nights than I should have, and some of the places we've stayed have been a bit more expensive than planned.


I really wanted to get down in to Texas. I gotta log on to the bank and credit card sites again and see if I can do this.

Day 11 - Surprise, Solitude and Silliness

This morning we all had a bit of surprise planned for Brian. At one of the planning meetings for the trip, Brian was concerned about the apparent lack of Eastward progress by the time we were into the second week. The plan was to be in Durango, Colorado on the 11th day. He kept pointing at the tv screen (the PC was hooked up to it) and saying, "So you're saying that on day-11 we're only going to be HERE?!?!" and such. It became something of a joke, and we decided to get t-shirts that said "It's day 11" on the front and "where the hell are we?" with a map of the US on the back.

I did up the graphics and put them together on and ordered them up for everyone. Today, day 11, was the time to spring them on him.

Adrian holding back a grin on t-shirt day

After breakfast we crashed Brian's room to present the shirt to him, then we all stepped outside to take pictures in the morning sunlight.

Everyone had a good laugh over it and Brian took it all in stride. Thumbsup

Oh, remember yesterday I said the Green River Best Western might be the nicest motel I've ever stayed at? Well, they lost a point. I found what's wrong with the place.

Can you believe they had the nerve to leave ONE paving stone broken like this? FOR SHAME!!

We headed in to Moab so Wayne could get a new tire at Arrow Head Motorsports. He was down to the cords. Adrian decided not to take any chances and got a new rear tire, too. The guy had a 180 tire in stock, which Wayne grabbed, and Adrian got the 170 tire. Quicker turn-in. *snap* You GO, girl.

While we waited for their tires to be changed, I was mulling options. We were in Moab, for goodness sakes. To hear it told, the canyon riding around the area is phenomenal. I gave some thought to peeling off of the group today and finishing the trip solo. There are some things along the way, some places I want to go that just aren't on the group list. And I really enjoy my alone-time when riding. It's therapeutic for me. I grew up in a small household but I have LOTS of brothers and sisters. Even when it was only just a few of us at home, the house was always busy and there were always people coming and going. Now I have several kids of my own and really the only alone-time I get is when I'm riding to and from work and the occasional solo Sunday morning ride. I have to admit, the idea of a whole week alone on the road is really intriguing to me. Nothing negative against the group or any of the guys - this is just me.

Instead, I just chose to go do my own thing today and agreed to meet the guys in Durango, Colorado at the end of the day. Again... Nothing bad about the other guys, but I had an awesome day on my own today! I did a tour of three parks - Canyon Lands National Park, The Arches National Park and Mesa Verde National Park. Then I rode to Durango and got a room at the same motel as the other guys. Wayne, Adrian and I just killed 2 pizzas at the Pizza Hut up the street. Thumbsup

Canyon Lands was pretty cool. As the name indicates, it's about canyons. Like everything else in the West, the scenery is just breath-taking and everything is so big and open and spacious. But that's not all. So far we've ridden a third of the way across the country and have been seeing these "Free Range Cows" and "Open Range" signs all over the place. But we haven't seen a single free-ranging cow at all. Can't say that any more.

I came around a right-hander uphill turn and WHAM! There's a gaggle of cows in the road. Awesome! What a shame Wayne wasn't with me.

He's looking right at me. HELP!

Then it was on to looking at the canyons. I didn't go down into the canyons to ride, nor did I find more after exiting the park.

The wide-open spaces just never stop, do they?

On the way back out of the park, I saw cowboys wrangling up the cows I saw earlier. Awesome... I have now seen real cowboys!

I was riding down the road and saw a hole in the rock. Nah, seriously.

More space! MORE SPACE!

And I don't think I ever DIDN'T see snow-capped peaks somewhere in my sights.

And some interesting rock formations...

This one looks like a turtle to me.

More views of the snow peaks...

And finally in to Colorado.

This plane was parked in someone's side yard.

Go ahead and pronounce it.

Little bit of excitement on the road... this truck lost the left-rear tire right in front of me. That was cool watching the wheel accelerate past the truck and bounce across all lanes of traffic - both directions - then about a mile off into a field.

Then it was on to Mesa Verde National Park. The road in and out was awesome.

Lots of motorcycles were in the park, including this great looking Duc.

The cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde were very cool. I didn't take the walk-down tour, and was content to snap pics from the lookout.

Then, riding out I stopped in the road to play with a coyote. It was pretty friendly. It wouldn't let me too close, and I didn't want to crowd it and make it nervous, but it was just SO COOL to be walking along with a coyote. Truly awesome.

As I understand it, Colorado is the only place left with wild horses. I saw some today. Now... stay with me here. I'm born in Delaware, grew up in Delaware County. Coyotes? Cool. Wild horses? Holy crap!

The guys came in to Mesa Verde just as I was leaving. We met back at the motel and had dinner at Pizza Hut with a beer or two.

I had an AWESOME day, today.

The route...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Day 10 - going the distance

Today was spent covering ground, more than seeking technical riding and fun roads. We left St. George, Utah at about 8:30am and made our way to, and through, Zion National Park, then on to the Best Western in Green River, Utah. This Best Western might just be the nicest motel I've ever stayed at, and will compete with a lot of nicer hotels. IN terms of cleanliness and overall condition, I give it 5 stars. The rooms are perfect, the grounds are perfect and the lobbies are well appointed and comfortable. The restaurant right next door served a good meal at a good price, and both the motel and the restaurant sit overlooking the river.

There's really nothing much to say about the riding, but I did take lots of pictures from the saddle and some at scenic points along the way.

Enjoy some pictures...

Is it just me, or does that look like a monster in the rock?

The Checkerboard mesa

Road to the rock!

And today's route...