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Old 08-22-2017, 09:09 PM   #1
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Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

Pre-Ride

With Alaska out of the question (for now), I thought about the places I’ve yet to see that would be worthy of a Trippin’ Connies trip. The first place that came to mind was Crater Lake National Park. I brought it up to dad and he didn’t have any objections, so I began planning this year’s route around a ride through there. I initially planned on 10 days, taking my required 10 consecutive days off of work. When I told me wife I would be leaving on Wednesday, she asked why. I explained to her that I was trying to not be gone for too long, and she basically said 2 extra days wasn’t going to kill her, so just leave on Monday. She's the best and there was no need for her to repeat herself! The extra time would allow us to fit in a few extra roads I’ve been wanting to revisit, at the top of that list was US 191 in Arizona.

With the route planned along with hotel reservations made, my attention turned to my bike. To be honest, it was a mess. I’d ridden it twice since last year’s trip. Both were trips out to COTA, one for the MotoAmerica tire test and the other for MotoGP. When cleaning it prior to that first trip to COTA, I noticed the bottoms of the forks were covered in grime. I’ve changed the fork oil before, but replacing the seals felt a bit out of my league. I decided to turn them over to a professional and gave Patrick a call at Motorcycles Unlimited for a quote. It sounded reasonable to me, so I pulled my forks off the bike and brought them to his shop at 2 pm. He called me at 5 and said they were ready for pickup! I couldn’t make it back out that night, so I picked them up the next day. Great service and I’d definitely recommend them.

I decided to tackle the rest of the bike myself. I’ve had a nagging oil leak for a couple years now, so I decided to investigate. After pulling off the plastics it was evident that oil was coming from the cam sensors, both as far as I could tell. There seemed to be a layer of oil on everything, stacked with miles and miles of road grime. Leaking cam sensors are a known problem with the Connie. Murphs’ Kits sells a 2 pack of “Oversize Cam Sensor O-Rings.” They are just slightly thicker than the OEM o-rings and supposed to solve the problem.

Several weeks out from the trip, I began spending every night out the garage from the time my daughters went to bed until midnight or later. This went on for about two weeks straight. I work slowly when it comes to my bike. I’m terrified of forgetting to properly cinch something down, causing problems down the road. Thus, I work slow and methodical. It takes me about 5 hours just to get to where I can pull the valve cover off the engine. The list I completed prior to takeoff is below:
-Replaced both cam sensor o-rings
-Checked valve clearances (first time since 18k miles, and all were still in spec)
-Synced the throttle bodies
-Replaced spark plugs
-Changed engine oil and filter
-Changed air filter
-Removed and reinstalled forks for fork seal change
-Replaced front and rear brake fluid
-Replaced clutch fluid
-Flushed and changed coolant
-Cleaned all brake calipers and replaced front brake pads
-Replaced front and rear tires
-Installed 90-degree valve stems (batteries on the TPMS finally quit, too expensive to replace)
-Removed old Autocom wiring
-Installed Ronnie’s highway pegs (explanation below)

In mid-May, I found a set of Buck’s Sport Touring pegs posted for sale. I told dad about them and he said one of us should get them. I bought them and decided to give them to him as a present. Being jealous that he would be riding in more comfort, I posted a WTB thread on the Connie site for a set of highway pegs of any variety. I about gave up, but a week later “cogger” offered to sell a brand new set of Ronnie’s highway pegs. With the deal done, I could now rest a bit easier. The installation for my pegs was much more involved, which for me, took a full night. Dads took about 10 minutes.





22 Days prior to takeoff, dad had an incident with the battery on his travel trailer. He was tightening down the connection on one of the terminals when he completed the circuit between positive, the wrench, his gold ring, and the negative. Once he let go, he was able to get his ring off prior to it swelling up, but he said his finger felt like it was on fire. It was perfect timing to mess up his throttle hand. Over the next few days layer after layer began to peel off where his ring was. He ended up going to the doctor to have it checked out because it wasn’t healing up. The doc gave him some ointment to keep on it, but there wasn’t much he could do other than that. Below is what it looked like 10 days after in incident. It ended up starting to heal right before the trip began but certainly was not 100%. Luckily, the best position for it to stay in was slightly curled, so it was ok when he was holding the throttle.
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Old 08-22-2017, 10:05 PM   #2
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

Can't wait to see the photos! And if I may suggest.....
https://qalo.com/

Rachel and I wear these about 99% of the time unless we are going out somewhere really nice.

Sorry for the quick thread hi-jack.
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Old 08-22-2017, 10:08 PM   #3
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

I'm ready for this season of TC....
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Old 08-23-2017, 07:54 PM   #4
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

Quote:
Originally Posted by DFW_Warrior View Post
Can't wait to see the photos! And if I may suggest.....
https://qalo.com/

Rachel and I wear these about 99% of the time unless we are going out somewhere really nice.

Sorry for the quick thread hi-jack.
Funny you mentioned the QALO rings, dad just ordered a 3 pack last week. The good thing was this was his right hand, so it wasn't his wedding ring. It was, however, a gold nugget ring he's worn for over 30 years. The jeweler said he can fix it like it's new.

Also, my wedding ring got to where it was flying off all the time, so prior to this trip I ordered a QALO one. I wore it for this trip and it was nice not worrying about it.
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Old 08-23-2017, 11:12 PM   #5
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

Day 1 – 6/19/2017 – Houston, TX to El Paso, TX – 758 Miles

Houston, TX to El Paso, TX – 758 Miles – MAP LINK

This year dad met me at my house at 6:30 for the launch. This gave me the chance to see my girls in the morning and wave bye as we began the journey. Also, my wife was able to get this picture of us, unfortunately it was through a layer of fog on the lens due to the extreme humidity.



The starting mileage for my bike was 55,855.



Morning traffic leaving town was fairly uneventful as we were going against the grain and able to make use of the HOV lane on I-10. The first stop for gas was in Seguin.



The man, the myth, the legend…



“Which card do I use?”



Continuing on, there were no problems getting through San Antonio at all. I was expecting construction and traffic, but we breezed right through. Past Kerrville gas begins to get sparse. Knowing this, I told dad that I planned on stopping at shorter distances than usual, which I knew he wouldn’t argue with. The second place we stopped was in Junction. We took some time to snack and be out of the saddle here. I found a nice shady spot where we avoided the tow trucks and bird poop.



Chugging on, I wasn’t sure if we could make it all the way to Fort Stockton, so we decided to do a quick splash in Ozona. I ended up seeing an exit sign with gas on it, so I took that exit. As we approached the gas station I didn’t know if it was still opened, it looked abandoned. Turns out it was open, and while we were there a few other people pulled in as well. A couple miles up the road was the actual town of Ozona, I had stopped short, but all was good.







Sticking with the shorter stretches, we stopped in Fort Stockton for gas as well. In preparation for the ride, I stocked up on almonds, smoked sausages, and beef jerky. The good news is I have the snacks I want on me at all times and it costs much less getting them before than at gas stations. The bad news is the extra weight and room it took up, but it was worth it.





The first test for both our highway pegs was crossing west Texas. My pegs do not allow my legs to stretch as much as dads do, but they make the slabbing experience manageable. Dad was enjoying his. The only complaint he had was that the heat deflectors on the bike dug into his legs a bit while they were on the pegs. We both wondered why we waited so long to add something like this. The last gas stop for the day was in Van Horn.







30 Miles outside of Van Horn, a wicked looking storm appeared on the horizon, but no worries, it was to the southwest of us. A few miles later the road took a turn to the southwest and right at the storm. As we approached we could see it was quick-moving and stirring up lots of dust across the desert. The road straightened out to the west and I thought we may be able to miss it, right about that time I got hit with a ping pong sized piece of hail on my finger. Of course, it hit right below my knuckle protector. It was the only one at that time and I started wondering if I was dreaming and it was actually a rock. As we rode on, people in cars were freaking out and pulling along the shoulder of the road and waiting. We pulled over for a brief second and discussed what to do. We’ve never been riding and caught in a hail storm before, much less in the middle of the desert. We took off again and started to get pelted with hail. For some reason I was getting hit much more than dad. Then, we approached an overpass that had cars jammed under it. I tried to find a spot to fit into to wait it out, but we ended up still somewhat exposed. After a few minutes of watching everyone panic, we took off again. It was still hailing but we could see that we were right on the edge of the storm. A couple of slow-riding miles later and we were clear of it and on our way to El Paso. Getting caught on the edge of a hail storm was the last thing I expected in El Paso, but it was an interesting experience.

As we rode into El Paso there was a huge wreck on the other side of the freeway involving an 18-wheeler that had that side shut down. Luckily our side was clear and we didn’t have any problems until we hit the west side of town, and it was all due to some construction. We arrived at the Best Western Sunland Park Inn on the west side of El Paso at 5:40 MT. 12 Hours on the road, but it helped the actual arrival time that we gained an hour going west. I checked my GPS and the moving average for Day 1 was 75mph and our overall average was 60 mph. I FaceTimed with my daughters before checking in as it was almost their bedtime.

My wife and girls and I had lunch with our good friends Ryan and Lynda the day prior to going on the trip. In casual conversation my wife asked Ryan where he was traveling next, and he said he was leaving in the morning for El Paso. I told him I’d be there tomorrow night and we struck up plans to go to dinner.

After checking in I gave Ryan a call and he said he’d be by to pick us up at 7. I jumped in the shower and by the time I got out it was hailing outside. Funny thing, the guy at the front desk said the weather always seems to miss this specific part of town. Always, except for this particular night, I guess.



Ryan arrived at the end of the storm. Since one of the offices he has to visit frequently is in El Paso, he’s pretty familiar with the town. He gave us 2 good options for dinner and we chose Track One. It was on the other side of town but as Ryan says, “it’s just El Paso.” It was Monday night and we had to wait for a table. Not a problem, we just hung out at the bar and grabbed a beverage.



Here’s Ryan, my brotha from anotha motha, enjoying a wing he’d been looking forward to…



I had a chopped steak, and while it may not look like much, it was delicious.







After dinner, Ryan dropped us back off at the hotel and we went straight to bed.

Over 750 miles of riding in one direction and we’re still in Texas. Day 2 we escape.
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Old 08-24-2017, 09:26 PM   #6
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

Day 2 – 6/20/2017 – El Paso, TX to Eagar, AZ – 391 Miles

El Paso, TX to Eagar, AZ – 391 Miles – MAP LINK

My alarm went off at 6 MT, except it wasn’t my alarm, it was my wife calling because the girls wanted to talk to me on the way to school. After talking for a bit there was no going back to sleep, so I started getting ready. Breakfast was supposed to start at 6:30, but they didn’t open it up until 7. After eating a bit and getting some coffee, we hit the road around 7:30. Things looked a bit different in the morning.





Into New Mexico we headed towards Las Cruces. I was telling dad I wanted to make sure to stop for gas early, because I remember when you get on the north side of town on I-25, there aren’t many options. Well, I didn’t even do what I was saying and ended up waiting too long. I was worried I blew our chance but we ended up catching the last exit on the north side.





We continued north on I-25 until we hit NM152 where we headed west, and onto one of my favorite roads in New Mexico. After climbing in elevation, we took a break.







While we were here, a lady slowed down and approached us. She rolled down her window and said that she had just seen a bear a few turns back and to be careful.









With our eyes peeled for bear, we continued on making a stop at the Emory Pass Vista.




(Click for larger pano size)







As I was walking around and taking pictures, a guy on a Moto Guzzi pulled up. We chatted with him for a bit. He was a local, from Silver City; just a retired guy out for a Tuesday ride. He said he had never seen the view with the haze like it was this day, certainly from wildfires. We told him about the lady seeing a bear and he said he’d been up and down the road at least 100 times and has never seen one. I did look it up and black bears do exist in Gila National Forest. Enough of the bear talk and back to the Guzzi. What a beautiful bike!







With a long day still ahead of us, we had to break up the conversation and get going. We finished off the good part of NM152 and headed towards Silver City. As we passed by the Chino (Santa Rita) Mine, it peaked my interest, so we turned around to have a look. It’s the third oldest active open pit copper mine in the world.







Moving on we stopped for a quick fill-and-go in Silver City. We took US 180 out of Silver City and towards Arizona. We continued west on NM 78, which crosses over into Arizona. 78 Is a nice road that I always enjoy. Once in Arizona there is a great view and then the road twists down the mountain. This time I didn’t stop for any pictures. At Three Way we came to the junction with US 191 and rode north. We stopped for gas again in Clifton since I knew there would be no opportunities once we left there.







The beginning to one of the best motorcycle roads in the country…



The road quickly climbs out of Clifton and then you are suddenly engulfed in the Morenci Mine, the largest copper mine in the country. We passed a nice overlook and I thought I would stop at the next one to have a good look. The next overlook was about 3 miles down the road, and of course it was closed. Dad and I had gotten disconnected with our Sena headsets, so I pulled over. I told him I was going to go back to the first overlook. We did, but it cost us a bit of time and some extra miles.





The mine is something to behold and you can only understand the magnitude of size if see it in person. The overlook is only of one area, it goes on for miles. Those little black dots on the right side of the pano below are huge trucks, with tires the size of the ones our bikes are next to above. Humongous is the only way I know to describe the mine.
(Click for larger pano size)











Moving on, we only stopped one time in the extremely twisty part of US 191. This stop was right after getting out a sketchy section where there was a layer of dust/dirt on the road for miles. We ended up seeing a few construction type trucks that I guess were making the mess. That section had me puckered up, I was thankful when it ended.

















And when we’re taking an extended break, things like this happen…




As you can see from the pictures above, the sky began to threaten us with rain. Right after taking off it started to sprinkle on it, but it only lasted a few miles. The next stop was somewhere south of Alpine, but I have no idea where. The temperature here was perfect, and almost a bit cool.











We continued north and stopped for another break along Nelson Reservoir.
















We arrived at the hotel in Eagar at 4:30, Pacific Time now because we gained another hour in Arizona. As we were going back and forth to the bikes unloading them, dad noticed that our stands were digging into the asphalt. It must have been newly paved, and combined with the heat, it was a recipe for bad news. We both put our bikes on the side stand with pucks under it for the night.



We went next door to TrailRiders Family Restaurant for food, it was supposed to be one of the best places to eat in town. It wasn’t spectacular, but it was good food. I had the chicken fried steak along with a Four Peaks – Kilt Lifter. I asked for a local beer, and Tempe was as local as they had. I was completely fine with it though because I’ve actually been to the brewery before and enjoyed their beer. Dad, on the other hand, was happy to have his lightly flavored water. We both went back to the hotel absolutely stuffed and passed out.








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Last edited by klb1122; 08-24-2017 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 08-22-2017, 11:08 PM   #7
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

I was thinking about you guys earlier this month, wondering if there would be a 2017 edition.
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Old 08-23-2017, 09:09 AM   #8
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

Subscribed (and reminded about how much bike maintenance I need to do..)
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Old 08-23-2017, 09:39 AM   #9
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

That looks painful. All that from a battery. Wow. Working in the electrical and hvac business I've always heard not to wear a ring on the job. Would have never thought a battery could do that though.


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Old 08-23-2017, 10:00 AM   #10
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

Very cool, i'm excited to see the updates from the trip! That ring finger looks so painful, I can't even imagine how sad I would be if this happened just before an epic trip like this.
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Old 08-23-2017, 01:02 PM   #11
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

In.


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Old 08-24-2017, 11:15 PM   #12
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

Great photography!
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Old 08-25-2017, 08:30 AM   #13
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

Quote:
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Great photography!
I second that!!
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Old 08-25-2017, 09:25 AM   #14
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

Quote:
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Great photography!
Absolutely agree!
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Old 08-25-2017, 05:40 PM   #15
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

As usual, great trips and excellent report / pictures.
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Old 08-26-2017, 04:12 PM   #16
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

In for the duration of the ride(report). Great report, and love the pics!
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Old 08-26-2017, 07:55 PM   #17
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

You should compile this for a Forbes article with the amazing stories you weave and meld with imagery.

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Old 08-26-2017, 10:21 PM   #18
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

Neat trip, great report. Thanks
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Old 08-27-2017, 10:29 PM   #19
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

Thanks for the kind words and for following along! More to come!
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Old 08-27-2017, 11:02 PM   #20
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Re: Trippin' Connies 9 - Snowed Out

Day 3 – 6/21/2017 – Eagar, AZ to Kanab, UT – 489 Miles

Eagar, AZ to Kanab, UT – 489 Miles – MAP LINK

The time change had me a bit wonky, I ended up waking up around 4 PT and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I just laid there. An hour later my wife and girls called on their morning ride to school/work. We were already up and had breakfast by 6, and left 15 minutes later.

We took off north on Main Street and rode into Springerville. I was hoping there would be gas there, but it didn’t look like it. We were supposed to take a left on US 191, but I turned right and headed back into town to hope to find gas. There was a Shell station there, so we filled up. We also bought a bag of ice to fill our CamelBaks with, since the hotel’s ice machine wasn’t working.



We took off and headed north on US 191. About 10 minutes later dad said he could see something shiny flashing at him from off my top box. It was my key. We pulled over so I could grab it out and safely put it in my pocket. The ride north was pretty uneventful. We crossed over I-40 and then hit the first construction stop of the trip in Ganado.



The next stop was for gas in Chinle. This station was busy!



After filling up, we headed for Canyon de Chelly National Monument. I was expecting a station at the entrance to pay at, but that wasn’t the case. There was a Visitor Center, but I told dad we’d stop there on the way back out. It was my decision in route planning to ride along the south canyon and not spend time on the north side. The south is known for better views of the canyon and rock formations. On the north side you can see more native dwellings. I’d prefer the views. The plan was also to ride to the farthest viewpoint first, then make our way back out. That being said, the first overlook we checked out and the farthest one was the Spider Rock Overlook. There was a 200 yard walk out to the overlook point and a great panoramic view from there. It was already hot and for some reason I didn’t bring my hat with me.


(Click for larger pano size)






















(Click for larger pano size)




(Click for larger pano size)







Of course, I had to take a cell phone selfie as well.



On our way back out, the next stop was at the Sliding House Overlook. The walk out to the viewpoint of this one was about half as long as the last.














(Click for larger pano size)





















The third stop was at White House Overlook. This one was much more crowded than the last two, there was only a car or two at those. I believe this spot was the start to a trail that you could use to walk down into the canyon.






(Click for larger pano size)







We skipped a couple of the next overlooks and made a final stop at Tunnel Overlook, which was right off of South Rim Drive Highway.





We made our way back to the visitor center and went in to pick up some stickers and magnets. By this time it was scorching hot outside, and would be for the rest of the day. Back out on US 191 we continued north to Many Farms, where we cut over to US 160 using AZ 59. At this point I was starting to get concerned about finding a gas station. We hadn’t seen one for a long time. Our route had us turning right on AZ 98, and thankfully there was a gas station there. There was nothing else around there, just big oasis gas station in the desert. It was completely covered and unlike anything I’d ever seen. The pumps would not take credit cards, so I had to go in and give them an amount. Not paying attention to how much I’d been spending on gas, I had no idea what to say. I just told them to put $10 on each of our pumps. I was able to squeeze all $10 into mine, but dad could only fit $8 in his. They had to put $2 back on my card. The whole process was antiquated and a pain in the butt, but at least it was all shaded.



We ventured back out into the heat after a break and took AZ 98 northwest for 67 miles to Page, where we turned south on US 89. One of these days I have to make a point of going back here and doing a tour of the Antelope Slot Canyon. It looks right up my alley, but there was no time to fit it into this year’s trip. On US 89 we’d be passing right by Horseshoe Bend. I debated all day on if we should stop there or not. Dad didn’t care. We’ve been there before, but what bothered me is that at that time I was just getting into photography and didn’t have the equipment to get the full bend in one frame. We spent so much time in Canyon de Chelly National Park it was already getting later in the day. But, not knowing when the next time I’d be back by there would be, I decided to stop. It was also later in the day and I knew that due to the time difference, I’d only have a small window to FaceTime with my girls. We pulled into the parking lot and I did just that. Then we decided to make the hike over the hill to the bend. We didn’t even change pants or boots, just grabbed our hats and headed out.

This is after cresting the hill and on the way down. Many sections of the hike have nice loamy sand, lots of fun with motorcycle boots on.



It was crawling with people, including a couple of people flying drones over the edge, which I’m not exactly sure was legal.



But, I feel like I was able to exact my revenge on the bend. Here are my favorites…


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I remembered to get a selfie before leaving.



We headed back over the hill. Dad took off before me while I was still shooting a few pictures. I’m not in great shape, but there were some people that shouldn’t have attempted the hike, especially in the extreme heat. There was a lady who had to be stretchered out. Here’s the view heading back to the bikes.



You can’t say they didn’t try to warn people.



We took off and for a few minutes it felt like A/C since we were drenched in sweat. It didn’t last long, but at it sure felt good to be moving. Continuing south on US 89 we twisted down into the canyon and took a right on US 89A. We stopped at a place along there solely because I thought it would be a good spot for a couple pictures. These are some of my favorite shots of the entire trip.















Riding on we stopped again at the Navajo Bridge over the Colorado River. We checked out the bridge and then looked to see what the vendors there had for sale. Hoping my daughters would like it, I bought each of them a dream catcher in their favorite colors.















We rode over the new bridge and continued on US 89A. We began climbing and stopped for a bit to take in the view.


(Click for larger pano size)





US 89A took us into Utah and to our destination for the night, Kanab. We lost an hour crossing the state line. We arrived at the hotel at 7 MT. I planned on eating at the Rocking V Café, which was basically next door to our hotel. But, mom had looked it up earlier in the day and told us it was closed on Wednesdays. Bummer! She suggested that we eat at Iron Horse, which was still within walking distance, so that was a win. We took off walking and I realized I left my camera in the room. Instead of turning around, I just decided to use my cell phone for any pictures. I don’t think the restaurant had A/C, but we ended up cooling down after sitting there for a while.

Sticking with my local beer theme, when in Utah…





We sat right by the entertainment for the night, a guy playing and singing random songs.



I had a burger piled high with goodness. Dad had a pulled pork sandwich.





After watching the entertainment for a bit, dad said, “I don’t think he’s actually playing that guitar.” While we were trying to figure it out, I introduced dad to the “skeptical hippo” and other skeptical memes. We quickly came up with the “skeptical Larry” face. Ha!



I started really watching his hands, and it became blatantly obvious he wasn’t playing it. We got a good laugh out of the whole situation and watching a guy by us with his own skeptical look on his face, it seemed as if he was trying to figure out if the guy was playing the guitar or not as well. We then began to wonder if he was actually singing because he was able to mimic voices really good, especially Willie Nelson. The jury is still out, but I think his voice was for real.

We walked back to the hotel and hunkered down for the night. Today we spent quite a bit of time in blazing heat. For the next day’s ride I planned a shorter route in hopes to recover from this one.
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