Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The move, the job, and another ride

Before I left on this 13 day motorcycle trip I was very busy, and it had nothing to do with motorcycling. The lease on the house in Fort Collins I was living in was ending and I had to be out of there by July 4th. I had to be out because the owners were coming back and they live in this house at times and rent it out when they go to Mexico, where they have another house.

I was lucky enough to find a place to live in Loveland, just 7 miles away from the old house. I even managed to bring a carload of stuff to the new place the day my friend Sandy was riding from Illinois to Colorado so we could start our motorcycle trip.

While all of this was happening I also accepted a job in Loveland which would start July 1. So all of this activity made the last week of June the most exhausting week that I can remember. Monday I spent packing and moving stuff to Loveland. Tuesday I had to go in to the office for training, it ended up being a full 8 hours. And on Wednesday I started working.

Meanwhile, after work and until wee hours of the night I was packing and moving stuff from the Fort Collins house to Loveland. I was glad when I drove up to Fort Collins after work on Thursday to pick up the last of my things, not only because I was finally done but also because the owners of the Fort Collins house were already back - days early.

But the craziness doesn’t end there. That weekend was a holiday weekend and I had Friday off. Dalton and I had planned to do a three day ride that weekend but I wanted to put new brake pads on the ST3 before I did any more riding. So on Thursday afternoon I drove from the Fort Collins to Loveland for the last time with the rest of my belongings. Dalton was already in my driveway when I got there, so with no time to waste we got working on the ST3 so we could leave on our ride Friday morning.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Colorado and Utah Trip Summery

This was a great trip. Not only did I get to ride some of my favorite roads in this area but I had some great company as well. I spent a total of 13 days on the road. The first 5 days and 1,036 miles I spent riding with Sandy. I haven’t seen Sandy since I moved to Colorado so it was fun showing her some of the great Colorado roads and just hanging out and catching up. This was only our second multi-day ride together. We did a 10 day ride in 2006 but only rode through Colorado one day, so this ride was almost a continuation of the first ride. We had lots of fun.

Sandy and I in Crested Butte, CO

Sandy took this picture of me goofing off on highway 65

Getting some serious photography

A ruin on highway 65

On day 5 of my ride with Sandy, Dalton rode out and joined us in Steamboat Springs. The following day Sandy rode back to Denver to visit with her aunt and Dalton and I began our 8 day and 1,950 mile ride.

Dalton riding through the Sunset campground at Bryce Canyon National Park

I only did one day ride with Dalton before heading out on this trip. We went over the ride plan in detail to make sure we both understood what to expect on this trip. I think that is very important especially if two people haven’t done a multi-day ride together. We discussed how many miles we should ride each day and what time we wanted to be getting to the campsite. We talked about other activities we might want to do on this trip, like hiking and eating out. The trip turned out great. We had a lot of fun riding and camping together. This was Dalton’s first long multi-day moto-camping trip and I think he’s hooked now so we’re already planning the next moto-camping ride for the 4th of July.

The ST3 and VFR on highway 24 in Utah

Dalton took this one of me taking pictures at Molas Pass on highway 550

A stop on highway 12

Trip Details:

13 days on the road

2 states visited (CO and UT)

2,986 miles traveled (1,036 miles with Sandy and 1,950 miles with Dalton)

7 nights - camped
5 nights - stayed in motels

My 13 day and 2,986 mile route

Highway 95 in Utah

My favorite road of the trip:
Highway 95 (Blanding to Hanksville, UT)

Twistiest road of the trip:
Highway 82 (Twin Lakes to just west of Aspen, CO)

Most boring road of the trip:
Highway 491 (Cortez, CO to Monticello, UT)

Most scenic camp site of the trip:
Crawford State Park - Crawford, CO

Best camping facilities of the trip:
Thousand Lakes Campground and RV Park - Torrey, UT

Hiking Bryce Canyon National Park

National Parks and Monuments:
Natural Bridges National Monument
Bryce Canyon National Park
Capitol Reef National Park

CO Mountain Passes:
Fremont Pass 11,318 feet - highway 91
Monarch Pass 11,312 feet - highway 50
North Cochetopa Pass 10,149 feet - highway 114
McClure Pass 8,755 feet - highway 133
Rabbit Ears Pass 9,426 feet - highway 40
Muddy Pass 8,772 feet - highway 40
Gore Pass 9,527 feet - highway 134
Tennessee Pass 10,424 feet - highway 24
Independence Pass 12,095 feet - highway 82
Red Mountain Pass 11,018 feet - highway 550
Molas Pass 10,910 feet - highway 550
Coal Bank Pass 10,640 feet - highway 550
Lizard Head Pass 10,222 feet - highway 145
Yellowjacket Pass 7,783 feet - highway 160
Wolf Creek Pass 10,850 feet - highway 160
Poncha Pass 9,010 feet - highway 285
Trout Creek Pass 9,346 feet - highway 285
Red Hill Pass 9,993 feet - highway 285
Kenosha Pass 10,001 feet - highway 285

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Pagosa Springs to Fort Collins, CO

Today was the last day of this trip. Today Dalton and I we were heading home. It was my 13th day on the road. For Dalton it was the 9th. I was sad to see this trip come to an end, I was having too much fun.

After a good breakfast at Victoria’s Parlor we left Pagosa Springs. The weather was perfect as we rode east on highway 160. I haven’t been on this road since they finished the construction at Wolf Creek Pass. Going up to the pass was awesome, lots of curves and a passing lane. So of course we just passed everyone on our way up. Heading back down from the pass was a different story. There was no passing lane heading down from the pass so we got stuck behind a long slow line of cars.

Highway 160

Highway 160

Near Wolf Creek Pass at 10,857 feet in elevation

Heading down from the pass on highway 160

We stopped in Buena Vista for some refreshments but we couldn’t linger very long. The dark clouds were approaching fast from the west and as we started to gear up we heard thunder not too far away. As we sped off toward the east on highway 285 there were many dark clouds visible in that direction. Rain was imminent.

Taking a break on Highway 285 at Poncha Pass 9,010 feet in elevation

Dalton coming down from Poncha Pass on Highway 285

Dark clouds on highway 285

Rain on Highway 285

While it was still dry we tried to make some good time which was hard to do since today was a Sunday, there was a bit of traffic heading in to Denver as people were returning from their weekend in the mountains. 285 is a nice road but there are hardly any passing lanes on it. Makes it tough to pass slower vehicles, especially when there are 40 of them ahead of you, with little space left in between each vehicle. No room to squeeze in to even if you manage to make a pass.

After a few passes we called it quits and settled in to the long caravan of vehicles. Soon after the rain started. It rained hard at times, at times it was just a drizzle, but the rain continued pretty much until we reached Denver. Dalton continued west on I-70 from there and I headed up I-25 to Fort Collins. After 13 days on the road I pulled in to my driveway with an extra 2,986 miles on the ST3.

My 330 mile route today: Highways 160, 112, 285, 470, I-70, I-76 and I-25

Dinner & Breakfast in Pagosa Springs, CO

We grabbed a motel room at the Spa Motel on Hot Springs Boulevard in Pagosa Springs yesterday. From this location it was an easy walk to many restaurants in town but we ended up eating dinner at Tequila’s which overlooks the San Juan River. This was the same place I ate lunch at in 2005 when I was riding through town. I remember the food being good and views from their outdoor seating area nice. It was very busy at Tequila’s last night but we were lucky to get the last table outside. The food was just as I remembered - good!

Spa Motel

Tequila's Restaurant

Dinner at Tequila's

San Juan River

This place has built up since my last visit in 2005

This little guy wasn't scared of humans

Checking the temperature of the hot spring near the San Juan River

A hot springs outside Tequila's Restaurant

This morning as we were checking out of the Spa Motel we asked for recommendations on a good breakfast restaurant. We were told to check out Victoria’s Parlor just a couple blocks from the motel on highway 160. When we finished packing we rode out there. Victoria’s Parlor is a restaurant and antique store. We grabbed a table outside to enjoy the nice morning. The menu was extensive and the food ended up being very good.

Breakfast at Victoria's Parlor

Breakfast burrito for Dalton - avocado quiche for me

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Green River, UT to Pagosa Springs, CO

By 8AM we were in the parking lot packing up the bikes. I prefer to camp but the one benefit I enjoy of staying in a motel is the ability to leave early in the morning since there is no camping equipment to pack up. There were only two more days of riding in this trip, today and tomorrow. Because of all the rain yesterday we had some miles to make up today.

We jumped on the interstate and arrived in Grand Junction, CO still in time to grab some breakfast before heading for highway 141. On the way to highway 141 we passed the Colorado National Monument which we were supposed to ride through today, we decided to skip it and save it for another trip when we had more time.

Dalton on highway 141 near Grand Junction

Chasing a bunch of Ferrari's on Highway 141 near the Gateway Resort

Highway 141

A couple of stops on Highway 141 - this picture and the ones below it

The Dolores River

Dalton took this picture and the one below it on Highway 141 near Grand Junction

Last week I got to ride 141, my favorite Colorado road, from south to north. And today I rode it from North to South. The scenery is different in each direction. Traffic was very light on 141 and before we knew it we were turning off on 145. I haven’t been on 145 since 2005. I’ve only ridden it that one time and it was in the rain so it was nice to finally ride it in some good weather.

From 145 we turned east on highway 160. Originally we were supposed to camp tonight at the Navajo State Park but I was so busy trying to make up some miles, I flew right by the road that went to the park. When we stopped to get gas I realized this, we weren’t that far past it but we decided that we should keep going, it was still early in the day. The more miles we were going to ride today, the less miles we would have to ride tomorrow.

A stop on Highway 145 looking towards Telluride

Dalton took this picture at Lizard Head Pass on Highway 145

Lizard Head Pass at 10,222 feet in elevation

Highway 145, that tiny spec in the distance is Dalton

Highway 145

After 425 miles we arrived in Pagosa Springs, CO. We pulled over at the visitor center to ask if there was any campgrounds near by but the visitor center was already closed. There was a motel and RV park across the street from the visitor center so I asked in there about camping. There were no tents allowed at this RV park but I did get a phone number for a campground just outside of town. No one answered the phone at the campground and after so many miles of twisty roads we certainly didn’t feel like riding out there to see if there was a tent site open.

Highway 145

I’ve ridden through Pagosa Springs in 2005 and had lunch in town but have never stayed in town. Since this was a pretty neat tourist town we decided to get a room in town and have a nice dinner. Tonight was the last night of our trip. Staying in a motel room would allow us to leave early in the morning tomorrow. The motel rooms were pricey in town, especially the ones with hot springs but that’s the price you pay when you want to be in the middle of it all.

Our 425 mile route for today: Highways I-70, 340, 50, 141, 145, 184 and 160