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Road Trip 2017 Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad

Joined
May 29, 2005
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Location
Out Riding
Buying the Goldwing in July of 2012 reinvigorated Linda's desire for longer motorcycle trips. After getting the Wing properly set up we took a great trip to the Smokys in 2013 and in 2015 to Nova Scotia:

http://www.twtex.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1151243&postcount=1

http://www.twtex.com/forums/showpost.php?p=1377689&postcount=1

In 2016 our travel plans got postponed due to a wedding of a childhood friend over on the Outer Banks.

With having a new owner of the company my work hours have been crazy this year. That said, I did get in Trail Bosses GDR ride on the Africa Twin and a week in Ouray on the WR250R this year along with some local rides.

Linda has had taking a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad on her bucket list for many years. Late September was our only window to go. We were hoping to see some color and still have nice riding weather. To hedge our bets I plotted two routes after leaving Durango. One to North and one to the South.

Day 1 Fort Worth to Tucumcari, NM. 450 Miles

Linda has been having some back issues so we planned for relatively short days. The plan was to make it to Amarillo get in early and take it easy the rest of the day.

Hitting the road at 6 am.

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Was a beautiful day for riding and made our first gas stop in Vernon.

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It was warming up quickly and with one less stop for stretch than usual we were in Amarillo at 11 am. Have been by The Big Texan many times but have never stopped. Today would be the day.

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In the background is the Countdown clock for those the take on eating the big one in less than 60 minutes.


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We split a burger for lunch. It was early and Linda was feeling great so we decided to knock of some more mileage and head for New Mexico.

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We would be soon enough with time change we were in Tucumcari pretty early. After an Ice Cream we headed to the local historical museum to look around.

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When we left the museum it was balmy 97 and Linda and were ready to find a Hotel and cool off.

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We had a great dinner at the highly recommended DEL'S Restaurant and then headed back to the room to call it a night.


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Looking at the weather forecast day 2 would interesting.



Day 2 Tucumcari to Chama, NM. 279 miles




We both slept good and got up to look at the weather forecast. Heavy thunderstorms, flash flooding and much colder weather forecast for the day. We grabbed breakfast and got on the road in light sprinkles. The sprinkles didn't last long and we were soon in a cold moderate rain. We took back roads to Las Vegas and since the rain had temporarily stopped we took a break for a quick stretch.


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It soon started raining again as we headed for Taos. As we went up the Aspens were changing color. Even on a cold, rainy, gloomy day the scenery was great.

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It was still pretty early and had stopped raining temporarily again as we arrived in Taos. Had a quick lunch in Taos and as we left it started raining again.

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Linda has never stopped at the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge for a look see.


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Found it interesting that this was at each overlook off the bridge. Such a beautiful place . So sad for people to take their own life here.


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Off to Chama we go over Route 64. This is a great route especially when the weather is nice. That would not be the case today.


The second time I have been here in the past few months. The first time was on the GDR ride in June.


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There are a couple pull offs with some great views from 10K feet. Today we would ride in fog, sleet, rain , and 45 degree temps.


We got a room in Chama just long enough to fool us in to thinking we could walk for supper. It soon started pouring again. We wound up ordering a Pizza and had it delivered.





Day 3 Chama to Durango, CO. 153 Miles



After a long night of rain the front had passed but it was darn chilly out when we got up.

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We headed down to Fina's Diner for breakfast. Had a great lunch here in June.


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Another historic railroad. While waiting for the weather to warm up.


The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad C&TS) is a 3*ft (914mm)narrow gauge heritage railroad running between Chama, New Mexico and Antonito, Colorado. The line runs for 64 miles (103 km)over 10,015 ft (3,053 m) Cumbres Pass and through Toltec Gorge, from which it takes its name. Trains operate from both endpoints and meet at the midpoint. The train traverses the border between Colorado and New Mexico, crossing back and forth between the two states 11 times. The line was originally a portion of the San Juan Line of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railway, jointly owned by the Colorado and New Mexico since 1970. The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad received the Designation of a National Historic Landmark in 2012 by the United States National Park Service.

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On the way to Colorado.


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Since we only had a short ride and Linda had never been up on Wolf Creek Pass, we made a detour to check it out.


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First we needed to take a look at Treasure Falls at the bottom.


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It was a little cool up on top of the pass. I guess we know what was going on here while it was raining in Chama.


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Linda was pretty chilly as we didn't bring our electric gear with us so we headed back down the mountain and on to Durango.

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We were too early to check into the hotel so we walked around the corner for lunch.

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After getting in our room we walked around the corner to train station check things out as we didn't know how much time we would have tomorrow.

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We soon learned there was big train museum that was open to walk through. If you are a train buff you could spend all day in the museum.


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After the museum we went for a short walk grabbed some chow for supper and turned in early.

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Tomorrow would be bucket list day for Linda.




Day 4 Durango to Silverton and back. 0 Miles



The plan for today was to take the day off from riding and a knock another item off Linda's bucket list.

The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNG) is a 3 ft (914 mm) narrow-gauge heritage railroad that operates 45.2 miles (72.7 km) of track between Durango and Silverton, in the U.S. state of Colorado. The railway is a federally designated National Historic Landmark and is also designated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.


The route was originally opened in 1882 by the Denver & Rio Grande Railway (D&RG) to transport silverand gold ore mined from the*San Juan Mountains. The line was an extension of the D&RG 3 ft(914 mm) narrow-gauge line from Antonito, Colorado, to Durango. The last train to operate into Durango from the east was on December 6, 1968.


The line from Durango to Silverton has run continuously since 1881, although it is now a tourist and heritage line hauling passengers, and is one of the few places in the U.S. which has seen continuous use of steam locomotives. In March 1981, the Denver & Rio Grande Western sold the line and the D&SNG was formed.


Some rolling stock dates back to the 1880s. Trains operate from Durango to the Cascade Wye in the winter months and Durango-Silverton during the summer months. Durango depot was built in January 1882 and has been preserved in original form.


We were happy to be in one of the Premium cars with heat. It was a whopping 26 degrees when we walked over the the Station to board the train.


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After 3.5 fun hours on the train we were in Silverton.

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After a quick lunch and walk around Silverton we were on the bus warming up to head back to Durango.

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After returning to Durango we had time check things out a little more on our last night in Durango.


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We had a nice burger for supper and again turned in early after spending an awesome day on the train.



Day 5 Durango to Kayenta, AZ 200 miles



With a another bucket list item checked off if it was time to decide on North of South route home. While I was putting routes together Linda wasn’t real keen on the South Route and was really looking forward to going up through western Colorado. I figured it would be a coin flip at time of departure. The forecast eliminated the coin flip. It was 26 degrees in Durango with a winter storm warning for Ouray. South it is.


We bundled up as well as we could and headed out on the southern route I had planned. Leaving Durango we headed towards Cortez on 160. For those of you that follow the Iron Butt this was one of the bonus locations this year.


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From Cortez we took a back road that went through the bottom of the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. Our first stop to remove a couple layers. This was at or near the Utah border.


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It was a very fun scenic back road.


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On ward towards Mexican Hat.



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Run Forest Run.


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Our next stop would be at Monument Valley. I stopped in here a couple years ago on the WR250R.


Monument Valley(Navajo:Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii, pronounced tsʰépìːʔntsɪ̀skɑ̀ìː], meaning valley of the rocks) is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft (300 m) above the valley floor.[1] It is located on the Arizona–Utah border near the Four Corners area. The valley lies within the range of the Navajo Nation Reservation and is accessible from U.S. Highway 163.


Monument Valley has been featured in many forms of media since the 1930s. Director John Ford used the location for a number of his best-known films and thus, in the words of critic Keith Phipps, "its five square miles [13 square kilometers] have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West."[2]



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This trip it was posted that motorcycles would not be allowed on the self-guided loop. It is hard packed dirt and sand so we weren’t planning on riding the Wing anyways. We opted for a 2.5 hour guided tour in the back of a truck that went a few places the self-guided tour didn’t go.



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Linda checking out a Hogan.

A hogan (/ˈhoʊɡɑːn/ or /ˈhoʊɡən/; from Navajo hooghan [hoːɣan]) is the primary, traditional dwelling of the Navajo people. Other traditional structures include the summer shelter, the underground home, and the sweat house. A hogan can be round, cone-shaped, multi-sided, or square; with or without internal posts; timber or stone walls and packed with earth in varying amounts or a bark roof for a summer house,[1] with the door facing east to welcome the rising sun for good wealth and fortune.
Today, while some older hogans are now still used as dwellings and others are maintained for ceremonial purposes, new hogans are rarely intended as family dwellings.


Traditional structured hogans are also considered pioneers of energy efficient homes. Using packed mud against the entire wood structure, the home was kept cool by natural air ventilation and water sprinkled on the dirt ground inside. During the winter, the fireplace kept the inside warm for a long period of time and well into the night. This concept is called thermal mass.



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Some scenes from an Indiana Jones movie were supposedly filmed here.


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There is currently a Jeep commercial filmed in this area airing on TV.



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Watson our tour guide.



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Enough of Monument Valley for this trip. We saddled back up and headed for Kayenta for the night. *This day we gave up on keeping up with what time it is. Arizona does not observe daylight savings, however the Navajo Nation does depending on the where the road took you the time of day was a moving target. We booked a room in Kayenta the night before. Lodging is scarce in this neck of the woods and therefore pretty expensive.



Day 6 Kayenta to Springerville 320 Miles



We got up following out normal routine of looking at the weather and picking a direction. The radar showed it still raining in Eastern Arizona and almost all of New Mexico. The whole area had been stuck in the last of the late summer monsoon season all week. We figured we would get a little wet today so we opted to start towards the East and then head South Westerly to stay west of the rain for another day knowing we would eventually have to ride through the big front.



We headed towards Chinle and then Southwest towards Winslow. Where we had to stand on the corner for a while.



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It was a tough job helping Glenn Frey hold up the light pole.



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Unfortunately we were just a couple days ahead of this and had to keep moving:



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We had lunch in a little café on the corner and turned East towards Holbrook. The sky was real dark with lots of lightening in front of us. We lucked out and stayed just behind the worst of the thunder storms. We kept the camera’s put away for this. We turned south in Holbrook towards Show Low. The temperature dropped pretty quick. I now wished I had stopped for a picture here. The roads were still really wet and the sides of the road still lots of sleet from the thunderstorm were riding just behind. The heaviest sleet accumulation on the side of the road was just before we passed through, and I can’t make this up, Snowflake, Arizona.



Leaving Show Low there are two ways to get to Springerville. We took the scenic route of 260 through Pinetop-Lakeside. People think of Arizona as the desert Southwest. If only shown the next couple pictures most people wouldn’t guess we were a few hours from either Phoenix or Monument Valley.




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It had just stopped pouring when we neared Springerville so we pulled into a McDonalds for drink and survey our options for a room for the night. We chose the Rode Inn. Shortly after we pulled in the sky opened up again.



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Linda did a load of wash at the Hotel and I checked my work email while it poured out again. We got a couple hour break in the rain and walked down the street for Mexican for dinner and called it a night as the rain started again and would last the night.



Day 7 Springerville to Silver City, NM 210 Miles.



Today is going to be about the road and then scenery. Now that we are couple days into in the Southerly route home, Linda’s original thoughts about not being keen about the Southerly route have been washed away.


The overnight rain had stopped and it was looking like it was going to be a great day for a ride. After a nice breakfast in the Hotel we loaded up and head out on the Devils Highway formerly known as Route 666.



An excerpt from someone else’s ride report describing the Devils Highway:



Springerville and Clifton are 120 miles apart along Highway 191, but some claim there are 1,100 curves in the road separating these two towns so it takes a few hours to get from one town to the other. The curves are tight, very tight. As a matter of a fact in all the years I’ve been riding motorcycles I don’t think I have ever seen a road where the “10MPH” curve sign was not used to mark a particular curve but miles and miles of curves. If you like seeing signs that say “10MPH for the next 6 miles” this is your road. And these speeds are pretty accurate (for cars), although of course on a motorcycle you can go a little faster then 10MPH. The road is narrow and at times it runs along the cliff side, there is no shoulder and no guard rail separating you from the cliff’s edge. This is not a road to push your cornering abilities on. A mistake can be fatal.



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We started out in vented clothing but made a quick stop 20 miles down the road to put on some extra gear as it was getting cold and foggy as we went up in elevation.



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The weather still looked ominous and foggy as we climbed higher into the White Mountains. There were sleet remnants of the previous days storms as we climbed eventually we broke out the front the weather went from cool and gloomy to sunny and nice as rode turn after turn after turn in this awesome stretch of highway.



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All too soon we would start seeing the Copper Mine in Morenci indicating our time on the Devils Highway was almost over.



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The Morenci Copper Mine is one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world. Located in the state of Arizona, 9.9 miles (16 km) south of Silver City, Arizona, the mine first opened for operation in 1872 and has since closed and reopened, where it is presently being worked in different stages. The Morenci is the largest producer of copper in North America.


Over 380,000 tons of copper is produced per year in this large-scale open-pit mine which marked its beginnings as an underground mine. The mine employs approximately 2,000 people to operate heavy equipment such as drills, Caterpillar trucks, copper recovery equipment, crushing equipment, and processing equipment.


Copper was first discovered in Morenci by a regiment of California Volunteer in 1865. What was detected turned out to be a major source of copper that reached across an entire mountain. Seven years later, mining of the underground portion of the Morenci Mine commenced, and continued until the 1930s. In approximately 1937, the operation was converted into an open-pit mine. In the conversion, the open-pit mine was made operational with rail haulage.


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The giant dump trucks actually looked tiny deep down in the mine.



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Still have a few curves to go dropping down in to Morenci.


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We decided to stop at little café in Morenci for lunch. It was pretty full and two guys invited us to sit with them. We soon found out they were the riders of the two BMW’s in the parking lot. They were from Phoenix and headed up the Devils Highway after lunch. We had a great visit over lunch and to our surprise they picked up our lunch tab. We said our goodbyes and headed off in opposite directions.



We were done with the Devils Highway but still had some curves to ride before our day was through. We turned East in Three Way and headed towards New Mexico on route 78. We were back in the desert again but the road was curvy and scenery beautiful.


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We weren’t the only ones out on this great day for a ride.



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We would soon be back in New Mexico for what we were hoping would be a dry afternoon.



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After what seemed like a zillion curves for the days we stopped in Silver City and picked out a little Hotel just down the street from the one I stayed in back in June on the GDR ride. We walked across the street supper and called it a night.


The tall narrow trees in front of the house up high reminded Linda of our trip to Italy.


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Day 8 Silver City to Cloudcroft, NM 220 Miles


Today we would head in East in earnest towards home. We had 3 days to get home so we weren't quite done checking things out yet.


The weather was calling for a lisght chance of rain but otherwise a nice day. We headed off towards Cloudcroft by taking NM 152 an great road through the mountains provided the weather is good. Today would not be that day.


Leaving Silver City would be nice. 15 miles East of town we would be ride by the Chino copper mine and then up the mountain over Emory Pass.


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As the road narrowed and as we went up it starting raining and was very cool.


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We slowly snaked our way over Emory Pass in rain and fog. There would be not be a stop at the overlook today as it was completely fogged in.


As we headed back down the mountain the weather started to clear.


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We stopped for a stretch and potty break in Hillsboro.


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Things were flattening out again as we approached I-25.


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Instead of taking I-25 South we opt for the two lane road just West of the highway. This is really neat road agriculturally. Lots of big fields and irragation systems for flooding them. Lots of pecan trees and miles and miles of peppers.


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We would soon be in Hatch, NM famous for you guessed it Hatch chile peppers. It was a little early for lunch but Sparky's Bar-B Que looked too inviting to pass up.


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There was a ton of neat stuff here to look at.


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We split a barbecue sampler for lunch and it was top notch. After more fun than should be allowed by law for lunch we hit the road again.


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Yes, we were at White Sands, a place I never tire of visiting.

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Climbing up the mountain to Cloudcroft the weather changed a bunch. Going from sunny and 75 to cloudy, foggy and 45. We stayed at my favorite place in Cloudcroft. Ron still owns the place and it is still for sale. Linda has never been to Cloudcroft before so went for walk and then dinner at the Western.


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Day 9 Cloudcroft to Snyder, TX 320 Miles


We got up early to pea soup fog and mid 40's temperature. We only had about 320 to go today so wandered back over to the Western for a leisurely breakfest. By the time we were done and packed up the fog was a lot lighter so we headed East down the mountain. The radar looked clear rain wise so I left in vented gear, Linda being smarter than me left in her rain gear as much to stay warm as dry.

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The above would be our only picture for the day. At the bottom of the mountain in Mayhill it started raining hard and it was still foggy. It would remain like this the rest of the way to Snyder.


We made a stop for a stretch and gas in Artesia. When I passed through here in June it was over 100 and we stood in the beer cooler in a convenience store for a while to cool off. Today it was in the 50's and wet an gloomy.


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I asked a guy standing outside about the weather. He indicated it had been like this for a solid week and he was looking forward to the monsoon season getting over.

We would grind out the rest of the miles to Snyder. It stopped raining for a bit, so after getting out of our gear and settled into our hotel room at the Days Inn we started checking out places to eat. We would be foiled again like in Chama many days ago. It started pouring cats and dogs so we ordered a Pizza and ate in our room. It would rain all night again.



Day 10 Snyder to Home, 230 Miles



We only had a short ride to get back home and the weather forecast was for a beautiful day.



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After a continental breakfest at the hotel we headed for home but not before gasing up the bike.


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Soon after leaving Snyder it got real foggy again for about 50 miles. We stopped for a stretch in Albany and the weather was now awesome.


We knew we left the fridge almost empty so we stopped for an early lunch in Cool. The food is always great here and today did not disappoint.

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90 minutes later we be back home after another awesome bucket list ride.


Summary:
2500ish miles
5 States
High Temp 97
Low Temp 26
1 Bucket List Item checked off
0 Equipment Failures

Epilogue:

We were a little worried about heading this direction as late in the year as we did. Never would have believed we would cross most of New Mexico both directions in rain, or see snow and sleet on the ground in Arizona. We road around the weather when we needed to and it was nice when it counted most on the trian ride to Silverton.

Not one of the longest rides I have been on but one of the great ones none the less. Linda had an awesome ride with no issues with her back and got to see parts of the country she had not seen previously. It is just so fantastic for me be able to share these trips together with her.

The report only contains a sample of photos from the ride. All of our photos from this ride are available here:

https://simmons1962.smugmug.com/Road-Trip-2017/
 
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Texas T

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GREAT ride report. We were probably in Show Low at the same time.

ps. That's 78 coming out of Three Way heading to NM. And yes, it is a great ride. You do have to be careful in the rainy season as I'm sure you saw some of those water crossings over the road.

You stopped at the Tackle store to get gas in Alpine. One of the best places around to eat is the Bear Wallow, about 100 yards to the east of where you were.

I saw the sign for Hannigan Meadow. That's a good lodge to stay at, or in the hot summer months just to stop and drink a root beer on the front porch for a while.

I camped near there one time about 20 years ago and it was the first time I heard a wolf pack howling in the wild. Very spooky.

Again, a great ride report and photos. Thanks for sharing and letting folks know that we're not all sand and cactus out here.

;-)


Any issues with cops not being able to see your license plate?

Does that case quick detach or is it bolted to the plate?

Tequila's Mexican Restaurant in Cortez is a great place to eat. When you see the local ranch manager and all his Hispanic cowboys show up wearing their spurs to dinner, you know you picked a good spot. We stop to eat there on every ride through town.

Have you already been to Mesa Verde? It's only a couple of miles from Cortez and is a great place to spend the day.

I see you went past Chinle. If you haven't been there before, Canyon de Chelly is another great spot (my favorite as an Arizona native) to spend a day.
 
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:clap::clap:

Some years ago, we had driven from our Alpine AZ campground over to Glenwood NM. Road construction cost us over an hour. So, looking at a map, we decided to take a "short cut" by dropping down to Clifton and back north to Alpine. And that's how I discovered Highway 666. It was a beautiful drive, but probably cost us an extra 4 hours!
 

FCBH

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Hey Rich,

Great report! Lots of lovely pictures to bring back memories.

The Wing is an amazing touring bike.

Keep packing on the sMiles.

Cheers,

RB
 
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Stellar trip Rich, looks like you and Linda had a good time. Wife and I have made that area a couple times and one of the highlights was the train ride to Silverton. Looks like y'all got the right side going up, best scenery, because the trip down hill didn't mater because after a nice lunch, the train was going to put you to sleep anyway. :sleep:
 
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Stellar trip Rich, looks like you and Linda had a good time. Wife and I have made that area a couple times and one of the highlights was the train ride to Silverton. Looks like y'all got the right side going up, best scenery, because the trip down hill didn't mater because after a nice lunch, the train was going to put you to sleep anyway. :sleep:
Thanks!

See you at Christmas in the desert?
 

Tourmeister

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:tab Man, that was like taking a trip down memory lane! I have so many of the same photographs :lol2:

:tab I did not see those phones on the bridge over the Rio Grande the last time I went through a few years ago. That is kind of sad... :-|

:tab If you liked the Durango train ride, you should do the Chama ride as well. We did it with the kids a while back. We were there in mid September and the trees were awesome already. The weather was everything from clear blue skies to rain coming in sideways that day. We did the bus from Chama to Antonito and then rode the train all the way back, stopping for lunch at the midway station (awesome lunch btw!!). Even the bus ride over that morning was really cool.

:tab If you got close to Mexican Hat you should have run up to Moki Dugway if yo had the time. You can do that on a Goldwing without too much trouble. It's pretty cool.

:tab The Monument Valley tour looks cool. I've never done that. I've always just blown through on the highway.

:tab US 191 is a top five ride in my book. I've done it twice. One day it was 80 F and clear skies. The last time it was getting dark and 28 F with deer around almost every corner! We spent the night in a cabin at Hannegan's Meadow. The food at the lodge was great and the cabin nice and toasty! Prices were quite reasonable as well.

:tab The copper mine is just one of those things you have to see in person. No amount of photos can ever really convey the scale of the operation and how much Earth has been moved from one place to another :brainsnap

:tab When we went up over Emory Pass, there was lightning and thunder, and it rained a good bit. Temps were in the low 40s and it also hailed pretty good. There were piles of it along the edge of the road. It was still an awesome ride though, as was the stretch back over to Silver City and eventually to Truth or Consequences. Hwy 15 and 35 North of Silver City are also a lot of fun. The Gila cave dwellings are worth checking out if you ever get back out there.
 
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Wow Rich like always a fantastic ride report. Looks like you two had a great time. Glad you took some pics of the train ride that is one I hope to do next year. Finas is a good spot for breakfast.
 
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Devil's highway was a favorite on my FJR trip from 2008, and your day eight run out of Silver City was a highlight of my 2014 trip. It was that stretch a little west of Emory Pass where I ran up on the mudslide that contributed to my GS crash. Ironically my wreck happened at mile marker 29. After stowing the broken mirror, securing the handlebar, and tie-wraping the windshield in place I rode on to Pecos TX that same day.
 
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:clap::clap:

Some years ago, we had driven from our Alpine AZ campground over to Glenwood NM. Road construction cost us over an hour. So, looking at a map, we decided to take a "short cut" by dropping down to Clifton and back north to Alpine. And that's how I discovered Highway 666. It was a beautiful drive, but probably cost us an extra 4 hours!
Many years ago I was coming up from Morenci headed for Hannagans Meadow. They were doing some road work on 191 by the mine and we met up with some guys with chopped Harleys. They asked if the road got any better sure does! Just not in the way they thought, pegged our fun meter on that road. The Bear Wallow in Alpine is a good place to eat. I would rather spend 4 hours on a twisty road than an hour on the interstate.
 
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Used to live in Pinedale AZ, about 16 miles west of Show Low on the 260. At least twice a summer I would ride over to Alpine to have lunch at the Bear Wallow.
If you are in Glenwood you need to check out the Catwalk about 1 mile east of Glenwood, just follow the signs. Nice cool place to take a break on a summers day.
 
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Thank you for stirring up the old memories of my saddle time in the areas you were in. Seen some new stuff in your pics that's been added in the last 5 or so years. Still miss being able to roam the West on my bikes. Do all you can while you can. Bon Voyage.
 
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We took the Durango Silverton train in 2015, and did it with a narrator. A character from the early days of the railroad rode with us, one on the way until and another on the way down. It was great.


Great report!
 
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