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Rocketbunny Rocks the Rockies

Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
Day 07
Friday, June 15, 2007
Cody, WY to Great Falls, MT
412 miles

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I had a big day planned, so when I awoke (feeling surprisingly refreshed for camping) I immediately wriggled out of bed. The KOA we were staying at holds a $2 pancake breakfast every morning, so the group of us STNers went down for breakfast before showering and packing up.

Walking around saying goodbyes, we discovered that we were all headed to Great Falls, MT that night. We decided to meet up again in the evening at the KOA there….i.e. group incentive to camp!

After a quick shopping trip to get the BMW some oil, I was on my way up WY-296, the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway.

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Clouds were rolling over the mountaintops as I approached the summit. I worried that it would be foggy with low visibility.

I was pleasantly surprised when I finally crested the 8000’ Dead Indian Pass and found a valley filled with sunlight.

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While carefully navigating the seven switchbacks that took me down from the pass, I remembered reading up on the history of the byway back when I came through in 2005. It follows the 1877 route of Chief Joseph and about one thousand Nez Perce Indians as they tried to escape from the cavalry and reservation life.

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Out of the valley, I enjoyed the high elevation scenery while nervously anticipating Beartooth Highway.

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Beartooth Highway (US-212) is generally recognized as among the best motorcycling roads in the country. It’s also the “highest elevation highway in the north Rockies.”

I’ve wanted to ride it for years, but I was also a little scared. Not knowing quite what to expect, I imagined steep rocky switchbacks, snow banks melting all over the road, and high winds jostling my bike.

Instead, I was pleased to find easy 20mph marked curves and dry pavement as I climbed out of Cooke City to 10947’ West Summit.

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The treeless alpine fields of the plateau were spectacular.

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Having found the ascent so easy, I was fully relaxed going through the tight switchbacks on the north side of the summit. Once down, I stopped to look back at the terraced mountainside.

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Even at high elevations, the weather was perfect. It was in the 60s. While I was wearing all my suit liners, I never needed my heated grips. Vivid blue skies greeted me as I crossed into Montana.

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I stopped often during my descent into Red Lodge. Walking back to my bike at a vista point, I found Bird runner (Jeff) and his fiance (Colleen). I had assumed that they were far ahead of me, but they had stopped for lunch in Cooke City, allowing me to take the lead in our mutual drive towards Great Falls.

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Getting hungry, I hurried down the mountain to have lunch in Red Lodge.

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I proceeded to I-90 in Laurel for a 100 mile slab-o-thon west. About 50 miles into this jaunt, I began to feel tired. After stopping for gas and a snack in Big Timber, I suddenly realized that it was 5pm and I’d only covered 200 miles. I had fully half my route remaining before I reached my intended destination.

It was time to buckle down and eat miles. Finally leaving the interstate, I took US-89 north through more plains and valleys.

Just because I was hauling *** didn’t mean that I was no longer interested in the history of the region. I was stopped at a marker honoring the mountain men who explored the area when Birdrunner pulled up behind me with his Blackbird and unique Uni-go one-wheeled trailer.

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We decided to travel together over the remaining 135 miles to Great Falls.

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Close to the longest day of the year, it was still very bright out when we pulled into the KOA at almost 9pm.

We were negotiating for a cabin when Ninjagirl and her S.O. arrived, only 10 minutes behind us. After unpacking the bikes, it was time for another evening of camp food, burned campfire popcorn, and roasted marshmallows.
 
Joined
Jan 11, 2007
Messages
531
Location
Sugar Land
:popcorn: :popcorn: Great report. I always expect such good things from you and am never disappointed.

Rocketbunny just plain RAWKS:dude:
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2007
Messages
891
Location
Central Texas
Becca, This is a great adventure story. You really should consider publishing this story. Please, contact Larry Gore with "On The Road Again" Magazine larry@getontheroadagain.com http://www.getontheroadagain.com/contactus He is looking for good writers with tales of their travels to write articles for his magazine and you fit the bill perfectly.

Larry is the promoter of The Lone Star Rally in Galveston held in November. This year there will be a special event just for the ladies http://www.lonestarrally.com/html/untitled22.html.

:sun:
 
Joined
Mar 28, 2005
Messages
3,002
Location
Houston, Texas
Looks great Becca. Based on your Trip Report I am eagerly anticipating September.

I have two questions while they are fresh in your mind.

My route takes me from Cooke City to Red Lodge via 212. I plan to take a detour down 296 to ride Chief Joseph. Now to my questions.

First, How long, time wise, is the ride from Dead Indian Pass to 212.

Second, I am trying to decide whether to turn around at the Pass or go another 6 miles on 296 thru the next set of switch backs. What do you think.

Thanks
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
I have two questions while they are fresh in your mind.

My route takes me from Cooke City to Red Lodge via 212. I plan to take a detour down 296 to ride Chief Joseph. Now to my questions.

First, How long, time wise, is the ride from Dead Indian Pass to 212.

Second, I am trying to decide whether to turn around at the Pass or go another 6 miles on 296 thru the next set of switch backs. What do you think.

Thanks
Hmm. I'd say it was probably around 30 miles from the pass overlook to 212. Once off the switchbacks, you can pretty much move nicely. I'd probably allow at least 1.5 hours for the out-and-back.

I have no idea how long I took, but I was stopping often to pull out the camera...and would probably have stopped more if it had been my first time on that road.

And yeah, go ahead and turn around at the pass overlook. It's only a short way down to the flats from there... and the scenery is similar to that between the valley and 212.
 

M38A1

Admin
Joined
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Messages
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North of Weird
Excellent trip report Becca! Thanks for bringing us along in your journey, and I can't wait for the next installment.
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
Day 08
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Great Falls, MT to Kalispell, MT
350 miles

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Birdrunner (Jeff & Colleen) were already on their way back to Canada by the time I finished packing the bike. Ninjagirl and her guy were still around though.

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Initially, it was a warm morning. However, as I approached Glacier National Park over the plains on US89, it got progressively colder. I stopped to put in my liners only an hour or so after taking them out at the campground.

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I had lunch in Browning, the heart of a large Blackfoot reservation, before entering the east side of Glacier at St Mary.

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I knew that Going to the Sun road was not yet opened all the way through, but I wanted to do a little of each side to get the full “Glacier” experience.

Sadly, the day was overcast, and the tops of the mountains were in the clouds.

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Leaving Glacier, I took little MT-49 to the town of East Glacier before continuing on US-2 toward the west side.

MT-49 was narrow and dirty, with very little shoulder and a 25 mph speed limit. I *probably* had too much fun on it.

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I stopped briefly at the Continental Divide on US-2. The clouds were lifting and I was beginning to be able to see the snow covered peaks that dominate my memories of Glacier.

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US-2 dipped in to Glacier at one point. I saw several cars stopped on the side of the road and decided to check out what they were looking at. Mountain goats!

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I went through a little rainstorm while approaching West Glacier. I strongly considered ditching the visit to West Glacier and just continuing on my way. Happily, the rain ended and the skies cleared by the time I reached the turn off. I entered the park again and was not disappointed.

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I’m not sure how far Going to the Sun road was opened, but I went about twenty miles in before I decided that it was getting late and I needed to move on.

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Reaching Kalispell, I followed my GPS to the home of a “motorcycling friend of a motorcycling friend.” Erin was a great host! We went out to dinner at a local restaurant and then spent a pleasant evening over our laptops, discussing riding, touring, gear, and various other issues of interest to riders. I did a load of laundry and then went to sleep in probably the most comfortable bed I’ve experienced this week.
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2007
Messages
891
Location
Central Texas
Becca, I noticed a yellow tote bag on the back of your bike. What brand is it and how waterproof is it. I'm on the hunt for something waterproof to store my tent and sleeping gear in and be able to tie to the back seat of the Wing.

I've looked at dry bags here http://www.altrec.com/shop/compare?mode=S&pid=19848 and here http://www.ortliebusa.com/cartgenie/prodList.asp?scat=10 , but have yet to make a decision.

Since you have logged many miles on the road as a camper, I would welcome any advise you could provide in the way of waterproof stuff sacks or duffel bags.

Rather than turn this into a high-jacking, Becca, if you could PM me that would be great. If anybody else wants to comment, please, just pm me.

Thanks
:sun:
 
Joined
May 19, 2007
Messages
40
Location
Denison, TX
I'm loving this ride report!

Excellent story and pictures.

The more I read these ride reports, the harder it is to sit at a desk for 50 hours a week....
 

Squeaky

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Katy
Since you have logged many miles on the road as a camper, I would welcome any advise you could provide in the way of waterproof stuff sacks or duffel bags.
She doesn't detail the bag on her website, but from memory that's a generic stuff sack that she uses to keep her sleeping bag dry and small.

Keep on rollin, Becca! :rider:

EDIT - actually, the yellow blob on the back seat is two compression bags - one is her tent and the other is her sleeping bag. Small, eh?
 
Joined
Mar 21, 2006
Messages
1,900
Location
NW Houston
Girl, what a report! :clap:

You definitely need to write an article for the magazine that Quicksilver mentioned.

This is just too sweet. Be safe out there and continue to have fun.

We'll miss you at PO's tomorrow but looking forward to hearing your stories live when return.


For now, Okay, ready for more. :popcorn:



Hehe, just noticed that PO's without the ' is replaced by stars. Took me a moment to realize why...
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
Not a hijack at all. The yellow bags are two waterproof compression bags by Outdoor Research. I've had them purposed to my tent and my sleeping bag since 2004 and they've never failed me.

I've put them in outer bags at times, big duffels or tail packs. I always seem to come back to just tying them together and bungie-ing them to the seat. Since I also do backpacking, separate bags work best for me, so I can stack them pre-compressed in my backpack.
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
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Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
Day 09
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Kalispell, MT to Bozeman, MT
500 miles

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When I started planning this trip, there were so many places I wanted to go and things I wanted to see. It was truly heartbreaking having to pick and choose what would fit into my limited vacation time.

I pulled a lot out, but one thing I couldn’t bring myself to remove was Lolo Pass.

I first rode US-12 between Kooskia, ID and Lolo, MT back in 2005. I remember it as having endless easy-feeling curves with no surprises in a pretty river canyon. River canyon is generally my favorite kind of road…and Lolo Pass generally makes it to near (if not) the top of motorcycle roads top ten lists.

But in order to ride Lolo Pass on this tour, I would have to compromise. It was kinda out of the way of my intended route. I left it in, but it meant that the rest of the day would be spent pounding miles to get positioned for the next day.

After Erin fed me breakfast (Thanks Again!) I headed south from Kalispell on US-93. It was at times a two-lane and at times a 4-lane highway. It always had traffic, but I entertained myself with watching Flathead Lake pass to my left.

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I made it to Lolo, MT around 11:00. I wasn’t yet hungry for lunch, but I knew that I would be starving by the time I finished riding the twisties, so I got a snack after filling up the gas tank.

I headed up the pass, roughly paralleling the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Westbound from Lolo, the road starts out as a 70mph speed limit river canyon with wide sweepers smoothly transitioning to the next. Then it climbs to Lolo Pass on the Idaho/Montana border.

I bagged the all important signs at the top of the pass.

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After that, my picture-taking intentions kinda fell by the wayside. I was having so much fun…. And each time I saw a likely turnout, I was moving too fast to stop in time. Also, I went through cells of light rain…enough to wet my face shield, but not enough to impact visibility or traction. I saw temperatures as low as 41 degrees at the top of the pass, but I was warm and dry with my waterproof touring suit and Widder electric vest.

Once down the mountain, the road settled into *river canyon* mode. I swept along the Lochsa River, powering around the curves mostly in second or third gear. I think I spent more time in a hard lean than upright. No sooner did one curve end than the next began in the other direction. They seemed endless.

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I was throwing the R1200ST back and forth, pressing hard at the bars and enjoying the feeling of the suspension settling into each curve. There were plenty of passing opportunities and most cars quickly got out of my way as I approached.

I seem to remember sticking strictly to the speed limit of 50mph (on the Idaho side) last time I was through here. I don’t *quite* think I managed that this time…considering that I was almost always within 2000rpm of redline in 2nd and 3rd gear. The R1200ST loves revving.

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A little while later, while stopped at a historical ranger station, I looked down at my dash to see that I was at the half tank mark….after ONLY EIGHTY MILES! I decided it was probably a good idea to turn around then… in hopes of making it back to Lolo without assistance.

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My reserve countdown was blinking angrily at me when I finally pulled into a gas station in Missoula. I had almost completely smoked a tank of gas in 160 miles. (Normally I get 220 miles out of a tank before the countdown ends)

It was 4:30 and I was starving. Riding through Missoula, I found a Mongolian BBQ chain restaurant that hit the spot. The both of us fueled up, it was time to pay the price for spending so much time on Lolo Pass.

I put my Widder vest back on, carefully buttoned up my suit for rain, and set my glove gauntlets inside the cuffs of my jacket.

Missoula to Bozeman is 200 miles via I-90. I spent the first 40 miles going through rain cells. After that it cleared slightly, but I was still getting occasional drops. The suit did it’s job. I was completely dry and managed to keep warm with the extra assistance of my heated grips.

It was late in the day, so I wanted to just get to my destination without stopping. I successfully managed to run the entire segment without pulling off even once.

For an interstate, the road was surprisingly fun. The speed limit was 75mph, through several steep and winding mountain passes.

I finally arrived in Bozeman around 8:30. The skies were threatening more rain, so I found myself a hotel room and bedded down for the night.
 
Joined
Mar 21, 2006
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NW Houston
I just think it is funny how you keep running into people you know or even met earlier in the trip. Was that pure coincidence or had you talked about the route beforehand?
 

Tourmeister

Keeper of the Asylum
Admin
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Feb 28, 2003
Messages
45,765
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Huntsville
If you like river canyon roads, then you will love Hwy 65 East of Grand Junction before you start climbing over the Grand Mesa. Also, you will love Hwy 141 South of Grand Junction down to Naturita and then 145 on down to 62. Both sections are incredible and seldom have any traffic.
 

Toe

Joined
Dec 28, 2005
Messages
513
Location
Plano, Texas
:drool: Need more updates !! :drool:

I am thoughly ejoying reading your reports. Makes me yearn for a "LONG" trip soon.
 
E

EGale

:popcorn: :popcorn:

Yes, I need another update.

I have a trip to Colorado, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons coming up in a few weeks. This thread is making the wait even worse.:drool:

Rocketbunny Rocks!!!:bow: :bow: :bow:
 

Squeaky

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Katy
Last update was Sunday's report and was posted on Tuesday (but essentially late Monday night).
I'll give her 'till tomorrow night before I start calling out the dogs. There's a particular bloodhound that I know already has her scent....
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
Day 10
Monday, June 18, 2007
Bozeman, MT to Pinedale, WY
314 miles

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The big challenge today was *trying* to do justice to two national parks while getting through them in a timely manner.

Of course, this endeavor was not helped by my late start.

The first order of business was to head south on US89. Interestingly, this road (the only access road open year round) parallels several historic roads and rails into Yellowstone. In several places along the route, cuts can be seen in the hillside both above the current road and in the cliffs across the Yellowstone River.

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Just before entering Gardiner, MT, I stopped at a turnout to read about the preservation of Yellowstone’s winter range, where 10,000 elk, bison, and other animals migrate each winter in search of milder climate and grazing area.

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The northern entrance to the park is historically the most popular. In the early years, before good roads, it was very difficult to get to the park. Visitors increased dramatically in 1903 when a railroad line was completed to Gardiner. That same year, the “Roosevelt Arch” marking the north entrance was completed and dedicated by visiting President Theodore Roosevelt.

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Of course, the NPS sign was just behind the arch. I had to wait in line for my pictures yet again.

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And with a flash of my National Parks Pass, I was inside the park. It was already noon and I had a long way to go, especially with 45 mph speed limits and frequent stopping.

The time constraints weren’t worrying me hugely. I did not have any plans to do any hiking or sightseeing other than that possible from very close to the road.

I’ve been to Yellowstone several times in my life. I’m not exactly sure how many times because my memories of visiting the park go back to my youth. At some point in my visits, I’ve walked all of the major geyser basins, some many times. I remember what it was like before the fires of 1988 (in fact, I was in the park only a few weeks before the fires started). I’ve stayed in the lodges, licked ice cream cones while waiting for Old Faithful, screamed at the sight of large insects, and watched bison walk through the parking lots in the morning.

Just driving past places brings back memories. For example, passing “Artist Paint Pots” instantly brought back memories of the sights, sounds, and smells of walking through those particular hot springs with my cousins. Driving past a picnic grove brought memories of finishing a cold-cuts lunch before grabbing toy animals to play make-believe with around the creek.

So really, just being in the park was a walk down memory lane… a cascade of experiences past in only a few hours of riding through.

I started with Mammoth Hot Springs. The town looked just as I remembered. We stayed there many times. I think the colorful terraces there are my favorite springs in all of Yellowstone.

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I got my only wildlife shot of the day while riding through a parking lot trying to get a better view of the terraces. This elk was on her way to graze on a lawn.

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The amount of fun to be had on the slow winding roads heading south from Mammoth was amazing. Several Rvs pulled over for me, and many turns were tight enough that I wasn’t exceeding the speed limit. Much.

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\

When I came through the park two years ago, one of my major disappointments was the lack of activity at Echinus Geyser. I have fond memories of spending hours sitting around the geyser watching it fill, erupt, and empty before repeating the cycle. Back in 2005 I brought a book and sat around the geyser for two hours while absolutely nothing happened.

While on a “Happy Fathers Day” call with Dad last night, he suggested that I ask a ranger about the status of Echinus. I parked at Norris Geyser Basin with that intention. The ranger sadly told me that Echinus no longer erupts regularly. Once every few weeks is more likely, with the last eruption noticed by a passing visitor a few days prior.

I walked over to the Porcelain Basin overlook to take in the view before continuing through the park, Echinus unvisited.

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I saw some wildlife on the way between Norris Basin and Old Faithful. In each case, there was a lack of paved turnouts and too much traffic to stop and get my camera out. While elk were plentiful, I saw only one bison. I guess next time I should plan to drive through Hayden Valley on the eastern side of the park.

I did not stick around for an Old Faithful eruption. The interval is now around 90 minutes and I felt like I’d seen enough of them in my life to not be missing much.

The historic Inn at Old Faithful is still under construction, but I was able to walk inside while looking for stickers at the gift shop. (I’ve been stickerfying my top case with national park stickers). I love looking up to see the rough timbers that hold the dizzyingly high roof.

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Heading south, I crossed the Continental Divide several times. This was not the highest elevation crossing, but it’s the only one I stopped at.

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The sun was getting low in the sky as I entered Grand Teton National Park.

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Riding alongside Lake Jackson, I marveled at the jagged snow-covered peaks to the west.

The Teton range was formed when two fault blocks slipped vertically. Lake Jackson sits in the pit of the lower fault block while the mountains are the remains of the higher block. Grand Teton, the highest peak in the range, is almost 14,000 feet high. Several peaks in the range top 12,000 feet.

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I looked down at the GPS in horror as I left the park. It told me that I would get to my intended destination (Rock Springs, WY) after 11pm. Thinking that it was a supremely bad idea to ride in wildlife-infested Wyoming in the dark, I decided to ride to the next major town past Jackson (a freakishly overpriced tourist town). Pinedale, WY at 100 miles north of Rock Springs was the winner. I found a motel and vowed to get an early start to make up the 100 miles that had been added to my next day’s route.

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Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
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Cypress (NW Houston)
Last update was Sunday's report and was posted on Tuesday (but essentially late Monday night).
I'll give her 'till tomorrow night before I start calling out the dogs. There's a particular bloodhound that I know already has her scent....
Sorry guys. I got behind (as you will read on this last post) and have been playing catch up ever since. This made for some extremely long days and I've been feeling more like just going to bed at night than doing my trip report. Of course, being behind on my trip report adds just as much to my anxiety levels as being behind on my route... :rider: :doh:
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2005
Messages
6,294
Location
Spring Texas
Don't be sorry RB. You are on vacation and you have your schedule. You are in "Semper Gumby" mode (always flexible). Enjoy the ride cause I am enjoying "riding" along.:clap:
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2007
Messages
891
Location
Central Texas
Becca, you seem so young to have so many good memories about your travels during your youth and to think at your still very young age that you are making so many more good memories traveling on your motorcycle. It's just fantastic. I wish I was riding along beside you on this trip.

Your such a brave woman to just head out on your own like this. Your parents must worry themselves silly over you.:-)

Your report and the pictures are so inspiring that I am going to accept an offer from a fellow rider to make a trip to the Glacier National Park in the middle of July. If all goes well, I will peel off somewhere along the way and head for the west coast to ride down the Oregon and northern Cali coast line before turning back east toward Texas. I will be thinking about your trip the whole way.

You must be getting a little tired about now, but try to stay bright eyed and bushy tailed and keep having having fun.

Can't wait until your next report.
:sun:
 
Last edited:
Joined
May 29, 2005
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Out Riding
Sorry guys. I got behind (as you will read on this last post) and have been playing catch up ever since. This made for some extremely long days and I've been feeling more like just going to bed at night than doing my trip report. Of course, being behind on my trip report adds just as much to my anxiety levels as being behind on my route... :rider: :doh:
I am glad you are enjoying your trip. One of the main reasons I leave the laptop at home when I go on these adventures is that I don't put pressure on myself thinking that I have to use it for trip reports and stuff.
 
Joined
May 29, 2005
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Out Riding
Hehe...

But for me, the trip report is half the fun!
I understand completely. If I traveled by myself I would probably do the same thing to occupy my non-riding time. Since a buddy of mine from my home town back in NY flies in to ride with me every year I would feel guilty sitting in front of a laptop instead of sitting with him a bar room:lol2:

With out spoiling your upcoming reports, where are you right now? I would think you would be nearing the home stretch.
 

Toe

Joined
Dec 28, 2005
Messages
513
Location
Plano, Texas
Yes most definitely... ride on, write on, and take keep taking those great pictures at you own pace! Thanks for taking us with you!
 

Squeaky

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Katy
Just to ward off any bad karma - Let me clarify that I wasn't bashing the 'Bunny, I was worried about her and was trying to figure out how long she'd been out of contact.

She knows I just worry like that... :cool2:

I'm about to head east from Safford, AZ. :) I decided to get home a day early and have some time to recover before I have to be at work on monday.
Safford - Staying at the state park? That's the one we got locked out of and almost got THROWN out of! :lol2:
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
Day 11
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Pinedale, WY to Durango, CO
517 miles

map11.jpg


Leaving early this morning, I easily managed the coveted “!00 miles before breakfast”, sitting down to my coffee and yogurt at about the time I’ve been getting onto the road this trip.

US191 south of Pinedale was essentially straight and flat until just after Rock Springs.

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It then got interesting, with sweeping curves along ridge tops and views hinting at the geology lessons ahead.

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I stopped at the state line for some pictures. After snapping the Utah sign, I turned the bike around to get Wyoming. I entered Wyoming twice on this trip, failing to get the sign each time. From South Dakota, I was distracted and missed the sign. The sign in Yellowstone was a little brown NPS sign that wasn’t worth the trouble. I didn’t want to “cheat” on acquiring the sign, but it might be a while before I’m back, and I’ve certainly earned it.

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Utah is very proud of it’s geological heritage. Besides the many state and national parks covering rock formations, there are formation identification signs pointing at the rock strata along many major roads. US191 was no exception. For example, I learned that “such and such” formation was composed of an ancient seabed during the whatchamacallit era.

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I stopped at a couple of vista points to take in the view of Flaming Gorge Reservoir and dam. I vividly remembered stopping at the same vista points in 2004 and almost leaving without taking pictures. That was not even a question this time.

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Utah is also very proud of the switchbacks on US191. For miles prior, I was continually getting warned about the 10 (count ‘em!) steep switchbacks ahead. I might have gotten excited if I hadn’t ridden the road back in 2004 and found out that the *switchbacks* are huge sweeping curves on a mostly 4 lane road.

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Reaching US40, I got gas in Vernal, UT before entering Colorado at Dinosaur.

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Riding down CO-139, it was as if I’d never left Utah… until I got up into the higher elevations of the pass. Unfortunately, at that point, I was stuck in a line of cars and motor homes on a steep mountain road with no paved turnouts that I noticed. I think I took one picture on the entire road.

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I decided to have an early dinner in Grand Junction, CO before crossing the Grand Mesa to Montrose.

The mesa was HOT! I was dying in my full gear, with my only thought being the headlong dash toward US550, higher elevations, and cool air.

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Cooler air was achieved as I ascended the switchbacks above Ouray, CO. I stopped to look down on the historic mining town from a turnout on the road above.

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US-550 roughly follows several historic routes important for finally making it feasible to mine claims in the high Colorado mountains. It’s called the “Million Dollar Highway” for the purported cost of building the road.

The climb out of Ouray was steep, with a rock face rising high above me to the left and sheer cliffs dropping to the river to my right. I carefully focused on the road and tried not to look down as winds rocked the R1200ST. I think I prevented myself from freaking out by speculating how much my friend Rebecca would be freaking out.

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The road was memorable, with great curves and ever-changing views of colorful mountains and high elevation flora.

Going over three passes, one over 11,000 feet, I think I spent at least an hour above 10,000 feet.

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It was getting dark and I was very tired when I reached Durango, CO around 8:45pm. I decided it was safer to just get a room than try to continue to Cortez. It had been my longest day on the road this trip and US550 had been an incredible workout.
 

Tourmeister

Keeper of the Asylum
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:tab If you followed the route shown on your map at the beginning of your post, you did not cross the Grand Mesa. It looks like you just went straight down 50 from Grand Junction to Montrose to pick up the start of 550. That being the case, I can see why it would have been HOT!! That stretch is basically desert and can easily see 100+ temps in June. Last time I was out there, it was hovering around 107 F during the late afternoon. Had you gone over Grand Mesa, it would have started out hot down in the river valley leading up to it, but then you would have climbed to over 10,000 feet at the top of the mesa. Every time I have crossed it, June or July, there has been snow on the ground at the top.
 

M38A1

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I understand you are home now and I'm glad all turned out well. WHAT A FANTASTIC TRIP!

Also glad to see you had lots of great blue sky and white fluffy clouds the last few days.

Thanks for sharing!


ps-
I'll be interested to hear how many total miles, fuel consumption, problems/solutions, bike wear, things learned on the road etc...
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
I understand you are home now and I'm glad all turned out well. WHAT A FANTASTIC TRIP!

Also glad to see you had lots of great blue sky and white fluffy clouds the last few days.

Thanks for sharing!


ps-
I'll be interested to hear how many total miles, fuel consumption, problems/solutions, bike wear, things learned on the road etc...
Yup. I'm now home safe. A great trip with many great memories made.

I spent Sunday with my poor BF who's been non-stop worrying for 2 weeks, and now I'll be working each night to finish off the trip report. I won't have fuel consumption stats (but with the exception of Lolo Pass, I probably got close to 50mpg) but I will have sorted trip costs and bike wear to discuss.

I'll try to make it out to bike nights this week, but I'm moving into an apartment this weekend, so this month's pie run is out.

:)
 
Joined
Feb 16, 2007
Messages
891
Location
Central Texas
I'm moving into an apartment this weekend, so this month's pie run is out. Solution: Get the BF to move your stuff into your new apartment so you can make the pie run. Sunday night when you get home just give him a big hug and every thing will be OK.:-)

:)
There will never be another pie run like this one.
:sun:
 
Joined
Mar 21, 2006
Messages
1,900
Location
NW Houston
Nice reports Becca! :thumb:

The Durango/Ouray area is just beautiful. I've gotta get up there on the bike sometime.
+1. I went from Durango through Silverton and Ouray to Breckenridge in a S2000 for a national carmeet there once with my former boyfriend. It was fun but I got a bit motionsick from the up and down through the mountains. :doh:

Becca, you should've asked for the phonebook in Ouray. :rofl: We did (looking for a friend's mom living there) and the guy in the store where they make the little sand bottles pulled out the 'phonebook'. It was one printed page, front and back. :lol2:
 
Joined
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//So yeah... life got in the way. But now I'm mostly moved into my new apartment so the report can finally go on...

__________________
Day 12
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Durango, CO to Williams, AZ
454 miles

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As always seems to happen on those days when I most desire an early start…well… it didn’t happen. I decided to skip breakfast and just hightail it west to Mesa Verde National Park.

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Some ominous road construction signs outside the park were making me nervous, especially the one that said “Motorcycles Use Caution.” The gate attendant reassured me that the roads were easily manageable.

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After a quick stop at the visitor’s center, I headed down the park road to the “Mesa Loop”. I didn’t have time to actually hike down to one of the cliff dwellings, and a ranger at the visitor’s center said that the loop was the best way to quickly experience the park.

The road toward the loop was very much under construction. I used to say that the worst rain grooves I’d ever experienced were on US101 just north of Los Angeles. These were FAAAAAR worse. Initially I was taking it slow and cautious until I realized that a little bit of speed smoothed things out nicely.

It was hot. Walking around the “Pit Houses” (early structures built by the Indians who lived in the area), I was constantly sipping from my camelbak. I was making lots of quick stops, so it made no sense to remove my helmet and gloves.

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Interestingly, the Indians didn’t construct the famed cliff dwellings until very late in their occupation of the area.

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It was just past noon by the time I got to Cortez. I had a quick lunch before dashing west.

My big goal for the day was to make it to the Grand Canyon while there was still light to see. With this in mind, I decided to skip the big tourist trap at Four Corners. I crossed into Utah on scenic UT-262.

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I turned north on UT-261 for a brief visit to Goosenecks State Park. The view at the end of the park road was spectacular. The winding San Juan River has managed to entrench itself 1000 feet below ground level in an ever-deepening canyon. I’ve never seen anything like it!

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Returning to UT-261, I carefully turned south. Just a few miles north was Mokee Dugway and the infamous 1100 foot descent over three miles of steep unpaved switchbacks. Perhaps someday I’ll be back with a more capable motorcycle (or rather, a more capable Rocketbunny).

Heading southwest on US-163, the unmistakable sight of my next trip highlight soon appeared in the distance.

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The mesas and buttes of Monument Valley have been photographed countless times. I felt somewhat sheepish adding my clicks to the multitude.

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I crossed into Arizona at Mexican Hat. This state line crossing was more exciting than most because Arizona is one of my “missing” states….that is… a state that I’ve driven through but never RIDDEN through.

It’s really a shame that the scenery at the state line consisted of a Native American bazaar.

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From that point, the ride was mainly just a race to get to the Grand Canyon during daylight hours. The ride in was tantalizing, with glimpses of the beginnings of the canyon to the north and the sun inexorably setting to the west.

I paused to take a deep breath at the entrance to the park…. Before crossing roughly 100 feet of dirt to get to the gate (under construction!).

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Just past the entrance, I parked the R1200ST in a half-full parking lot at Desert View and carefully stowed my gear. I grabbed my camera and walked down the path, passing the 1933 Indian Watchtower, a combo gift shop, visitor’s center, and fire lookout tower.

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The canyon was glorious at sunset.

To the west, layers of rock in shadow…

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To the east, bold warm colors…

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After a quick stop into the gift shop, I rode west to Canyon Village and another view.

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I decided not to take the time to walk out onto this viewpoint, but it brought back some memories.

I was last here in late November 2004. My boyfriend of the time had never seen the Grand Canyon. We were headed to Texas for Thanksgiving and decided to make the 80 mile round trip off the interstate.

The snowflakes coming down as we drove up the access road should probably have told us something. Arriving in the deserted parking lot, we carefully walked out onto the viewpoint (very icy).

I stood there and ruefully told him, “Right there, stretched out before us is the most amazing, thrilling view of the Grand Canyon…. Trust me!”

The canyon was a white-out that day and he got his views of it from a large panoramic picture in the visitor’s center where we went to warm up.

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With my 2004 trip on my mind, I wasn’t terribly concerned about the ride south to Williams, AZ. The sun had officially set (according to the GPS) by the time I was halfway down what was in my memory as a fairly straight road.

As it got darker, I realized that the shine of my headlights was far too white. I stopped to look and found that the halogen headlight in the top slot had blown and I was running only on the HID in the lower slot.

I found a car to light my way and continued to Williams, where I a found a hotel room and satisfied a strange craving for fruit.
 
Last edited:
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Day 13
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Williams, AZ to Safford, AZ
442 miles

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Having eaten only fruit salad and fruit juice the night before, I was happy to get back to my normal yogurt and coffee prior to starting off the day on I-40.

Reaching Flagstaff, I headed south on US-89Alt to Sedona. I was somewhat disappointed to find more Native American bazaars at every overlook point. Makeshift booths full of wares lined the walkways, making it hard to get great shots of surrounding landscape.

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Just north of Sedona, I enjoyed the views of Slide Rock State Park but didn’t enjoy the traffic. I had no qualms over skipping a dip in the famous swimming hole.

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The town of Sedona itself appeared to be a lovely place to while away an afternoon. Cute shops attracted hordes of tourists without feeling kitschy. There was lots of construction in the area, with red dust drifting over the road in many places.

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After a short stint on I-17, I headed east on AZ-260. The ride was mostly unremarkable with long portions of busy slab through hills around Payson. It was very hot. I stopped often to refill my camelbak and even took a short break for some gas station soft serve ice cream.

I began to take interest in my surroundings again while riding through the foothills of the White Mountains.

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Late in the day, I turned onto the most anticipated road of my day, US 191, the Coronado Trail. It was past 4 PM and I had around 150 miles to go.

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The main thing I’ll say about US191 south from Alpine, AZ is that it was a whole lot of work.

I love these kind of roads…. Slow turns, switchbacks, curvy runs down shaded forest paths. I was doing a whole lot of back and forth transitioning.

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It was high elevation, so cooler than it had been in the heat of the day. I went through a few areas that had seen recent rain (judging from the wet pavement) but saw no rain myself.

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I was constantly worrying about making it out of the mountains before sunset, but I just HAD to stop whenever I saw a great photo-op.

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Too many pictures…. Yeah.

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Reaching the area of the huge open pit Morenci Copper Mine, I was shocked by the contrasting landscape. The largest (in total output) copper mine in North America, Morenci covers 60,000 acres.

After rock has been crushed and copper removed, it is put back in place. These terraced “benches” are all that remain of the mountains in the area.

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US191 wound through Morenci and the very obviously company town of Clifton.

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Finally getting out of the hills, I enjoyed the sunset and braved the heat of the desert plains on my approach to Safford.

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I parked the R1200ST next to several large mining trucks at the Econolodge in Safford.
 
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