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Trippin' Connies 3: Voluptuous Colorado

Joined
Sep 11, 2006
Messages
2,446
Location
Houston, TX
Disclaimer: It seems like most of the trip reports on this site have been about Colorado this summer. Some of this may be redundant after reading the others, but I’m going to write about it anyway. Oh, and this is going to take me a while because I have over 2,000 pics to sift through. :eek:

Background: Dad was sure the Trippin’ Connies would not take to the road this year. This thought came from the birth of my daughter, last November. But, all I can say is, my wife is AWESOME! She certainly wasn’t jazzed about being a “single mom” for a week, but she dealt with it for me. I felt nervously unprepared as the trip approached. Between taking care of my daughter, renovating our house, and being busy at work, I really didn’t have much time to even think about the trip. Hotel reservations were made two months early, and the general routes were planned earlier in the year. But, I left changing my tires, oil & filter, and misc. checks until the final days before leaving. While putting the wheels back on the bike, I realized I must have gotten air in the rear brake line while swapping out the rear subframe. I changed this out a month prior so I could mount my left side bag, which was impossible after TC 2 without the assistance of a bungee cord and safety wire. I packed in the final hours before going to bed the night prior to leaving.

Our wolfpack expanded once again this year. We finally convinced my brother, Brett, to ride along. After selling his two bikes in the last year, the decision wasn’t too tough when my dad offered to lend him the Honda ST1300 to take the trip on. So this trip consisted of the original two Trippin’ Connies (dad and I on our 2008 Kawasaki Concours 1400s), my Uncle Randy on his Yamaha FZ1, and Brett on his loaner Honda ST1300.

Day 1 – July 24th, 2011

Houston, TX to Amarillo, TX - 595 miles



Starting mileage and MPG cleared:



The plan was to meet at Randy’s house at 5:00 am. It was going to be a tough haul for me, since he lives four houses down the street. I woke up at 4:00 am, finished packing a few final items, scarfed down some pop-tarts, kissed my wife and daughter bye, and road down the street. Dad and Brett were a few minutes early. Before taking off, Dad and I tested to see if we could hear each other via the Autocoms. I heard him, and he heard me for one split second. After that he couldn’t hear me anymore. I figured one of us had a setting off, so we just hit the road, leaving at 5:15 am.


I planned on stopping every 120 miles or so for gas. This would keep us somewhat fresh and make it about four even stops before hitting Amarillo, the night’s destination.

The first leg was uneventful and boring. Dad and I are used to talking to each other most of the time while we ride. Honestly, it was going to take away from the trip if we weren’t able to figure it out.

As to be expected, there was a huge herd of deer on the side of the road, just south of Huntsville. Everyone saw that, but I was the only one to see the single deer standing right next to the shoulder just a quarter of a mile prior. Also, it was interesting to see some of the wildfire damage to the north of Huntsville.

The first gas stop was in Centerville. While here we started testing a few things with the Autocoms. Push-To-Talk switches in the correct positions… check. Frequencies the same… check. We unplugged the Kenwood two-way radios and tested them without going through the Autocoms. Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner. Nothing wrong with the Autocoms, but the Kenwoods were messed up. Dad’s would transmit to mine, but he would get nothing back from me. Good to know that these expensive radios were useless in less than two years.

Next stop was in Mansfield, after breaking off on US 287 from I-45. We’d remain on US 287 for the remainder of the day.




Ah, finally something good to take a picture of.


With each passing ranch you could see the cows trying to take cover in whatever shade they could find… next to a building, a bush, another cow. I couldn’t imagine standing out in that heat all day. I’d never make it as a cow in Texas. Third gas stop of the day was in Wichita Falls.



The last break of the day was in Childress.



We rolled into the La Quinta entrance at 3:30 pm. We were hot, and happy to be at our destination so early.


We discussed where to eat. I had hoped for Coyote Bluff Cafe, but they were closed on Sundays. We decided to give the Big Texan a try. It was definitely an interesting place. I wasn’t in the mood for a regular steak, so I got a chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, and macaroni. The food was decent, but the rolls were the best part, to me at least.









Menus



It was featured on the very first episode of the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food.

“The owners Danny and Bobby Lee, say the challenge originated with their father Bob Lee. The Big Texan Steak Ranch was built next to the stockyards in Amarillo and when the work day was done the place filled up with hungry cowboys. Bob decided to have a contest to see which one could eat the most and play upon those cowboy egos.

Everyone put money in a hat and the one who ate the most got all the cash. Clever idea. However, the winner ate 4 and a half 1 pound steaks, a shrimp cocktail, a baked potato, dinner salad and a roll in under an hour. Bob Lee couldn't believe it and announced that any other person that could eat that much in his restaurant would eat for free! And the Big Texan legend was born.

Adam calls this steak "a bicycle seat of meat". And that's probably an under estimation. He goes in with a strategy and easily overtakes his competitors and leaves them in the dust. Finishing the entire steak first in about 20 minutes he moves on to the rest of the meal and finishes everything in just under 28 minutes.”


Tempting, but no one attempted the challenge while we were there.



I forgot my bathing suit at home and Randy wanted to try and find some better fitting ear buds, so we headed for Walmart as Brett and Dad went back to the hotel. Success for the bathing suit, not so much for the ear buds. Back at the hotel we jumped in the pool, which was nice and cool for being so hot outside. Later, we introduced Randy to the show My Strange Addition, which entertained us for the rest of the night.

Dad and I stayed at this same hotel two years ago and thought it was pretty decent, which is why I had us staying there on day 1 and 6. Two years of wear and tear made the hotel a little funky, but for the price it still isn’t all that bad.



More to follow.... eventually.
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2006
Messages
2,446
Location
Houston, TX
Day 2 – July 25, 2011

Amarillo, TX to Bloomfield, NM - 503 miles



When my alarm went off at 5:25 am, I was somehow able to stay in bed another 5 minutes without falling back asleep. With the routines of four men in the morning, it makes it tough to get on the road quickly. After eating breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road around 7:30 am. Today was going to be a pretty big day mileage wise. Less than day 1, but today only includes about 100 miles of interstate. Brett offered to lead for a while in the morning. Sounds great to me, sometimes it’s just nice to sit back and follow for a while. We headed west on I-40, passed the Cadillac Ranch, and into New Mexico. I wouldn’t say the morning was cool, but it was comfortable.



Only 3 miles into NM, we were already getting off the beaten path. We turned north onto 392. 392 Was bumpy, boring, and it had a low speed limit. Don’t ever ride this road; I’m not sure why it even exists. We did see an antelope right off the bat along it though. This took us to 469 where we headed north again.


469 took us to Logan, where we made a gas stop.



Seeeeeeeeetttt, HUT! (I have no idea what I’m talking about here, but Randy is in position to take the handoff.)


Out of Logan, we headed northwest on 39. It was along 39, just east of Mosquero, where we hit our first couple of curves of the trip that took us up a plateau wall and into the high plains. Brett and I laughed later how we were blowing those turns after riding straight and fast for so long.






In Roy we turned west onto 121. Soon thereafter, we rode into and out of a neat little river canyon. Riding through the canyon was a nice way to break up the monotony of the morning.



Our next gas stop of the day was in Wagon Mound, at the intersection of 121 and I-25. While there we met a fellow Connie rider. He was in the middle of a big ride, down from Saskatchewan. I’m not sure if he lost all of his luggage, or if he was really just traveling that light.








We hopped on I-25 and headed north for 30 miles, exiting on 58, which took us to Cimarron, “Where the Rockies Meet the Plains.” We continued west and now on US 64, we finally got into some mountains and rode through Cimarron Canyon State Park. We remained on US 64 for the rest of the day.









Randy’s suffering from back problems, stretching helps.


Another stop in the state park.






We came out of the mountains and descended into the town of Eagle Nest, sitting next to Eagle Nest Lake. It was a beautiful little lake nestled next to the mountains. The town was small, but looked pretty neat. I’d like to check it out one day.




Leaving town we had to dodge prairie dogs as they darted across the road. Many had already become roadside speed bumps. After Agua Fria we got back into the mountains and twisted our way to Taos. But, it wouldn’t be a summer trip without road construction.




Taos wasn’t as bad as I remembered two years ago. I swore I would never ride back through there on a bike. On this route, there was no easy way to avoid it. I think it helped that we just hit the northernmost portion by staying on US 64. Coming into town I figured we would fill up here. I passed one small gas station remembering there would be more. Hmmm, I guess the others were back 68 and the busy part we were ignoring. I knew after Taos the gas availability would be few and far in between so I started to have a mini panic. Just about then we rolled into a station at the corner where US 64 turns back west near the airport. Looking back at the mountains we had just came from, there was a storm a brewin’ and lightning filled the sky.





We grabbed some snacks at the gas station and headed to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. I told the guys I’d rather spend more time eating there than here. This bridge is the 5th highest in the United States (we saw #2 on the list last year in West Virginia). Unfortunately the bridge was under some construction, so everyone was forced to view from one side. It made things a bit crowded, but it’s always worth the stop. The best part is it shakes when large trucks drive over it. We took a bunch of pics at this stop.
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Lots of people love each other.
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This is Rusty (he looked like a Rusty at least, or maybe even a Ralph), controller of the south side of the bridge. Don’t you dare cross these here cones. I kept trying to get a picture of his amazing pony tail, but every time before I snapped he would turn and look at me, so I’d just act like I was taking a picture of the scenery behind him.


I’d rather not know why this cross is here.
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Me: Brett, did you leave your helmet on the ground?
Brett: Ah, crap!
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Continuing on US 64 and right past the bridge is an Earthship subdivision. There seemed to be a lot more than I remember two years ago. They are pretty interesting looking, most of them covered by earth with some sort of funky designs added. I’ll have to stop and get some good pics next time by.

West of Tres Piedras the road starts to get entertaining with some good sweepers and a few tight sections. We stopped for as break as it looked like we were heading for some bad weather. I was the only one to forgo putting on rain gear.
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Look alive, dad!
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It turned out as I suspected, and the rain gear was not necessary. A bit up the road we passed a cool half mountain, half rock formation.
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Of course I ALWAYS pick the worst places to stop. It’s one of the main things I dislike about leading. From this spot we rounded a couple of corners and there was a nice pull off area that had a full view of the front of the rock. Instead of stopping again, I kept on truckin’. The ride down out of elevation from there was great, lots of nice twists.

The last gas stop of the day was in Tierra Amarilla. I had to get a picture of this little pup for my wife.
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With feet added for scale.
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Nice view behind the station. There were also lots of hummingbirds flying around.
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West of Chama we ran into two construction zones with flaggers. There were signs warning of 15 minute delays. Luckily we timed them pretty good, and only lost a couple minutes at most. As we continued on US 64, the rest of the ride was decent, but nothing spectacular. It was filled with long sweeping curves and the scenery started to look the same after a while. I made one last stop for a stretch. This was one of those times where it would be nice to talk to everyone because it seemed they all wanted to just get to the hotel instead of stopping.
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We finally arrived at the Best Western in Bloomfield, well, Randy and I did. Brett and dad got stuck at the light on US 550. They said it was the hottest part of the day. All in all it was a very comfortable day, temperature wise.
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I asked the girl at the front desk what the best place to eat in town was and she recommended the place next door. Not sure if she gets a commission or what, but we tried it. The food wasn’t bad, but it certainly wasn't great. That is, except for Randy’s chicken fajitas, which looked and smelled heavenly.
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After dinner Brett and I decided we hadn't had enough to drink and needed to track down some batteries for his GoPro camera. We did just that at the Shell across the street. Later we kicked back in the hot tub that had some powerful jets, swapping back and forth between the scalding tub and the cool pool, which probably wasn’t the best idea. Oh well, it felt great.
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We watched a re-run of the Hooters episode of Undercover Boss. After this, and a quick search on Brett’s phone for Colorado locations, we decided we were going to eat there in Grand Junction the next day. I guess that’s if we make it there before it closes.

I highly recommend the Best Western in Bloomfield and will gladly stay there again. It’s nice, new, clean, and has great amenities. Definitely two thumbs up.
 
Joined
Oct 13, 2007
Messages
2,034
Location
Georgetown,TX.
That gorge is amazing, it's like out in the middle of no where and all of a sudden there is this huge crack in the ground, awesome pics.
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2006
Messages
2,446
Location
Houston, TX
Note: Sorry for those not able to see all the pics now because of firewalls. My quota was exceeded where I began hosting the pics, so I had to move to Photobucket. I won't be able to see the rest of them at work now either. :doh:
 
Joined
Feb 13, 2008
Messages
4,622
Location
Jennings,La.
I notice you are running a Garmin Zuma. I was wondering if it had Track filing and setting up as per the 167 267 types. I always like downloading the days track file into my laptop to see just where in the world I'd been that day due to just going here and there just to see what was down this or that road.

Great report and do know about the heat. Was in OK and KS just a month ago. Vetty Hot with the 30 mph south wind just killed my energy and enjoyment.
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2006
Messages
2,446
Location
Houston, TX
I notice you are running a Garmin Zuma. I was wondering if it had Track filing and setting up as per the 167 267 types. I always like downloading the days track file into my laptop to see just where in the world I'd been that day due to just going here and there just to see what was down this or that road.
The Zumo does keep tracks of where you have been. The only downside is, after a full day of riding, the track log is basically filled. I can't remember exactly how many points it tracks, but it's not enough IMO. This leaves you with two options 1) they just get written over by the next day of riding or 2) you can save your tracks as a route. I try to remember to do #2 after the day is over, and then import those routes back into my computer when I get home.

The only other thing I don't like about the Zumo is you cannot see your elevation while you are on a route (at least I haven't figured out how to). You have to stop the route, then go back into the map to see it.

Overall, I've been very happy with the Zumo. If my calculations are correct, I've had it for about 4 years now.
 
Joined
Feb 13, 2008
Messages
4,622
Location
Jennings,La.
thanks for the info. Getting harder and most expensive to come about 276Maps any more. Think the last I saw on Ebay went for 595 for a used one bare of accessories. May have to go with the zumo in the near future.
 

Liteitup

Forum Supporter
Joined
Oct 21, 2010
Messages
1,421
Location
Waco TX
The only other thing I don't like about the Zumo is you cannot see your elevation while you are on a route (at least I haven't figured out how to). You have to stop the route, then go back into the map to see it.
Don't know about that model, but on the 660 that info is a page away.
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Great report! Waiting for more.
 
Joined
Jun 22, 2010
Messages
1,216
Location
Summer Grove, LA
...Cimarron, “Where the Rockies Meet the Plains"...

Great photo of an encouraging sight after 100's of miles across the plains:

 
Joined
Sep 11, 2006
Messages
2,446
Location
Houston, TX
Day 3 – July 26, 2011

Bloomfield, NM to Grand Junction, CO - 331 Miles - MAP



We woke up at 5:30 am, but didn’t leave until 7:45 am. We were supposed to have a full breakfast at the hotel, but at 6:00 am nothing was set out. Apparently the girl who prepares breakfast didn’t show. Lucky us. A front desk guy along with another employee scrambled around got some stuff together eventually.
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Brett found this little critter smashed on the underside of his sheepskin cover.
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Out of Bloomfield we headed north on US 550. 23 Miles later we were in Colorado.
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And because one pose is never enough.
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It was amazing how almost instantly the landscape turned green and the temperature dropped a couple degrees.
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We continued north to Durango.
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The train was leaving Durango, headed for Silverton.
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We carried on through Durango on US 550, the Million Dollar Highway. We climbed out of town and within the first couple of turns we ran up on an accident. The wreck had just happened, I hope everyone was ok.
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Because of this, we got stuck behind a few slow moving vehicles climbing in elevation, so I went ahead and pulled over for a break. There’s going to be lots of these along this road because it’s amazing. Amazing doesn’t even do it justice, and these pics certainly don’t.
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Another stop… and we’re only a couple miles in.
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We turned back around from this point to go check out a waterfall that only I saw. It was only a turn back. I also got a few action shots.
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Two guys came cruising by, one on a FJR and one on a Connie. We would end up seeing these guys a couple times this day.
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Next stop, Molas Pass.
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We continued north to Silverton and road down the main street.
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We made a quick stop at a beautiful corner. Brett was in charge of getting a pic or two of me riding. With the mishap of last year in the back of my mind, I went about 2 ½ mph around the corner.
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Next up was Red Mountain Pass.
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This little slice of heaven was just north of Red Mountain Pass.
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We did run into a little bit of construction.
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These are some sights from dad’s point of view as we rode along further.
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Yet another little break.
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Someone noticed there was actually a house/shack across the way. How in the world do you get to it? You can barely see it in this picture.
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We finally made it to Ouray, the end of the Million Dollar Highway.
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Yeah, it took us forever to get down the Million Dollar Highway. The road beckons you to fly down it, but the scenery makes you stop and enjoy the beauty. It should be on everyone’s must ride list, unless you’ve already experienced it. It’s simply amazing.

We made our way north to Ridgeway and stopped for gas. While we were there, it started pouring. We tried to protect ourselves under the small cover while allowing others to get gas. I finally caved and put my rain suit on.
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We took 62 west out of Ridgeway and climbed in elevation until we reached the Dallas Divide. Heading up, there were two lanes, going down was only one. We were almost at the top when an 18 wheeler came barreling around the corner and in one of our two lanes. We had just passed a few cars, so I checked back to make sure everyone was in the right lane. Luckily they were. The truck appeared to be a run away and out of control. If we would have been passing cars at the time we would have all been hood ornaments.

62 Was a nice ride down to 145 where we continued, now heading northwest, running along a river in a canyon. We stopped for a break as we climbed out of the canyon, just east of Norwood. Our buddies passed by again.
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After Naturita we broke off on 141 and headed north. We stopped several miles in to prepare for the weather.
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It rained on us pretty good in some sections, but mostly just a heavy drizzle. I must go back and ride this road again, hopefully the weather will cooperate. It’s 75 miles of pure motorcycle bliss. Most of the time you are following the river in the canyon with huge rock walls on both sides. At one spot, another river joined and there was a nice pull-off spot. It was raining hard, so I keep moving on. There was an incredible view at the spot where the rivers joined. If you are into tight twisties, this isn’t the road for you. But if you love sweeping turn after another, following the lines of the river, you’ll love it. The clouds were hanging right at the top of the cliffs, making it even more majestic. The road reminded me of 128, between I-70 and Moab in Utah, or 89A north of Sedona, AZ, except much better. Oh, and I forgot to mention, we only saw a handful of cars the whole way. We did make one stop, a good way in and our buddies passed by once again.
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My hand got some glove love due to the rain.
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At US 50 we headed north towards Grand Junction, our stop for the night. A few miles after turning we caught up with and passed our buddies, but needed to stop for some gas. Our buddies pulled in there as well, and we finally got to chat with them. They were on a two week trip from Arkansas, making their way to Glacier National Park. They planned on camping through it all.
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At this stop, I also wanted to make sure everyone still wanted to go through Colorado National Monument today. That was the plan, but it was getting later in the day. Everyone agreed to carry on. We wished our buddies the best of luck on their trip and continued into Grand Junction, and into Colorado National Monument.

It was $5 per motorcycle to enter. We paid our fees and entered the park. Right from the entrance we immediately started climbing, one hairpin after the next. As soon as we reached the top we hit the thick fog. It was looking like we weren’t going to be able to see much. We first stopped at Ute Canyon, making the short hike down to the canyon.
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We talked two couples who were also viewing the canyon after we walked back up the bikes. One of the guys told me a story about how he wrecked his older model Concours. The same guy had told Dad how he was thinking about getting a Can-Am Spyder because he was getting too old for two wheels. This made dad feel good because he was born a year after dad. One of the ladies looked at our bikes and said we were city slicker motorcyclists. I laughed, but there was definitely some truth to it.

Luckily, after stopping for a while here, the fog had cleared. We made several more stops while riding the 25 mile road through the park.
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Another stop with a panoramic view.
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The last stop was just past the visitor center/store. It was already closed, so we made the little loop next to it that had some great views.
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Here’s a few parting shots leaving the park. It was well worth the $5.
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We made our way to I-70 and back into Grand Junction. Getting up to 75 mph felt more like we were going 250 mph after traveling so slow for so long. Looking to our right you could see the park where we had just came from, but it looks so unassuming from the Interstate.

It was about 7 pm when we finally arrived at the Grand Vista Hotel in Grand Junction. We unloaded our bikes, and as planned, made our way to Hooters. It was bingo night there and Randy ended up one number away from winning $350. Good times.
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When we got back to the hotel, Randy mentioned something about getting on the elk. What ensued was the accumulation of a long day on the road, a couple drinks, and peer pressure.
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Whoopsie….
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We hit the hot tub and pool before crashing out for the night. We didn’t do a lot of miles, but we saw some amazing sights, and stopped a ton of times. I ended up going to bed around midnight.
 
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Messages
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Location
Houston, TX
Day 4 – July 27, 2011


Grand Junction, CO to Leadville, CO - 364 miles - MAP



We woke up at the usual 5:30 am, packed up, said our goodbyes to Mr. Elk and rode down the street to the Burger King for some breakfast. No complimentary breakfast at the Grand Vista Hotel.
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It was just a short ride east on I-70 before we were exiting and heading back south on 65. We immediately started climbing up the Grand Mesa. We started out below the clouds and were soon riding through them.
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And just a few miles later we were above them and on top of the Grand Mesa.
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It was not what I expected at all from looking at the map. It’s a beautiful area. Everything was vibrant green with lakes sprinkled in here and there. It would be great to go back and camp in the National Forest one day.
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Continuing south out of the National Forest and down the Grand Mesa was a great ride. We stopped in Eckert for some gas. While we were there we talked to a guy at little shop next to the station. He's trying to sell a 1980 Goldwing. The thing is in great shape for a 31 year old bike. I told him I’d take some pics of it and include it in my report for him.
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He was happy about that, and then started pushing his luck by asking me to do the same for a dresser kit he was trying to sell. Ok, but I draw the line here.
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At 92 we turned east and in Hotchkiss the road turned south towards the Black Canyon. I’ve heard there are some better places to view the canyon, but I just decided to stay on 92 and view that part of the canyon.
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While at this stop a guy on a manpowered bike rolled by. Dad said something to the effect of “you’re heading the wrong way” as he pedaled uphill. He responded with “only cool guys go this way.” He was a cool dude for sure.
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We made a quick stop just a bit down the road. I had the feeling we were getting close to something good.
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A little further down 92 we pulled into Hermits Rest area. We talked to the two guys below in fluorescent for a while. They are both Colorado locals and one of them was thinking about a future ST1300 purchase.
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This road was sweet. There were great views around every corner and it will filled with nice turns.
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Cruising along 92.
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For once I pulled over at a great place to stop. This may have been my favorite of the whole trip. We decided to walk down to this massive rock cliff. Standing near the edge of this thing was amazing. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty scary. It was a sheer drop WAY down over the edge of the rock. We stayed down there for a while, in awe of the beauty. These pictures don’t do this place justice. Sorry for all the pics, but I couldn’t get enough of the place. If anyone wants the GPS coordinates, just let me know, I’ll be happy to share.
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A few miles later we were at the end of 92 and crossed the Blue Mesa Dam. 92 Was a really nice ride with very light traffic.
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We stopped for a quick second to gaze at the lake.
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On US 50 now, we headed east as the road hugged Blue Mesa Reservoir. I’m sure I sound like a broken record, but it was a nice scenic ride.

We took US 50 to Gunnison where we turned north on 135 and filled up before leaving town. It was at this gas stop I began to realize that quite a bit of the Colorado population in these smaller towns is what I would consider “earthy.”

135 From Gunnison to Crested Butte was fairly uneventful.
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Dual sports were bountiful in Crested Butte, but you’ll never believe it because I didn’t get pictures of any.
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We headed out of town on Co Rd 12. It wasn’t long before it turned into a hard-packed dirt road with some gravel thrown in here and there. This was no surprise, I knew going into the trip we would be running into dirt here. It wouldn’t be an adventure without some dirt twisties thrown into the mix.
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The first several miles were the worst because there were spots under construction. Imagine 30 foot stretches of chunk gravel on a loaded down sport tourer. One patch in particular I believe I entered too slow, almost dumping it. Thankfully somehow I didn’t. It gets frustrating looking in the side mirror and watching your compadres go through the sections with what seems like great ease. Then we made it back to land, the paved road, but it was just a tease. It was a wonderful mile though.
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Somewhere along Co Rd 12 we went over Kebler Pass, but I never saw the sign, only a sign saying we were approaching it.

After seeing tons of “Open Range” signs on the trip, we finally had an encounter.
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All in all, it was almost 30 miles of dirt. At a 25 mph average with a couple of stops, it took us quite a while to travel down Co Rd 12. Some of the sights were great, but it was hard to take in the scenery when we were trying not to wad it in a loose gravel corner. I thought it was worth the trip down the dirt, but dad said he could have done without. I told him he could thank gixxerjasen for recommending it.

Co Rd 12 finally ended and dumped us out onto 133. We headed north, feeling good to be back on solid ground. We made a stop at the Paonia Reservoir dam.
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Next up was the run up and over McClure Pass.
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133 Was a nice ride all the way to Carbondale, nothing fantastic, but nice. At Carbondale we turned onto 82 and headed back southeast towards Aspen. For most of the way this was a divided highway with two lanes on either side. We were able to make some good time on this stretch as it was nice and open.

This little spot was somewhere between McClure Pass and Aspen, either on 133 or 82. If I had to guess, I’d say 133.
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Brett dropped his brand new iPod from 2 ½ feet above ground. It still works though.
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Heading into Aspen on 82 we rode past the airport with all the private jets lined up against the fence. The town of Aspen was beautiful, but very touristy. Brett swore it smelled like women’s perfume throughout the town.

We continued on 82 through Aspen towards Independence Pass. The first section of this road was extremely tight, with very small lanes. There was a river with small falls running next to the road.
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Dad looking whooped…
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Hey dad, give me a plank!
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Once we got out of the trees everything opened up and you could see the magnitude of the mountains. Dad got a few shots as we headed towards the pass. We’re headed “up there” in the first pic. Right around the corner from there is the pass.
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Finally atop Independence Pass, it was nice and cool/cold. Right before the pass we rode beside some snow still banked against the side of the mountain. There is a beautiful 360 view from the top of the pass.
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A couple panoramics for good measure.
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Leaving the pass, we tried to gear up and get going before 3 cruisers and their pit crew in a car took off. We were unsuccessful, so we had to follow them for a while. In fact, we ended up following them all the way to our nightly destination. They actually set a decent pace, most likely because it was getting later in the day and they wanted to get to their hotel. But, it allowed to me to look around more than I usually would, so I didn’t mind.

82 From Aspen to Twin Lakes was awesome. There’s every type of turn imaginable and it’s as scenic as can be. We made it to US 24 and headed to Leadville. Looking to the left while traveling on north US 24 we watched the two highest peaks in Colorado go by, Mount Elbert and Mount Massive. As the sun was going down we road through Leadville and made it to our hotel, Columbine Inn & Suites.

Black eye or dirt?
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We quickly got ourselves together and headed back into town for some food. At first we went to Zichittella’s Italian, at the recommendation of the girl at the hotel desk. It was a nice little place. We ordered our drinks and food and everything seemed fine. Drinks came out, and so did the salads. Their Caesar salads tasted great. I know, just some lettuce, cheese, and dressing, but it was really good. Then our waiter comes out and tells the people who sat down after us that the kitchen is out of food. Weird. Next he walks over to us and tells us the same thing. Doh! We were really looking forward to what we ordered. He said the drinks and salads were on the house, so we polished those off.
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We walked down the street trying to find another food establishment still open, and ended up at Tennessee Pass Café. The lady at the bar said the kitchen was open for 5 more minutes if we wanted to order. She said the special of the day was the French Dip, it sounded good so we all ordered it. It turned out being the best food of the trip! It was heavenly!
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It was definitely chilly out being at 10,200 feet. We headed back to the hotel for the night and ended up going to be late. Before hitting the sack I opened the window to let that cool mountain air into the room while we slept.
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Joined
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Messages
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Location
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Wow, what a trip. You've hit just about every favorite spot of mine in the state of Colorado. We're all green with envy.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Far East DFW
I thought it was worth the trip down the dirt, but dad said he could have done without. I told him he could thank gixxerjasen for recommending it.
Glad you enjoyed it, tell your dad I'm sorry, there was absolutely NONE of that gravel last August. I did notice a bunch of trucks so they must come through every year or so and dump gravel to keep the road up and it sounds like you came through as they were doing it. My only issues with the road were where it was wet from the rain under the trees where it wasn't getting any sun to dry it up. It was a little slippery but nothing too bad...if you don't come hauling into the corner way faster than you should have. Took me several days to get that pucker mark out of the seat.

This is what the entire road looked like last year.



klb1122 said:
Sheesh, are you men or little girls?

Real men stand on the edge!:rofl:



Yea, 92 and the Black Canyon of Gunnison is a must on that trip. However, ride careful because there's no guardrails and the penalty for failure is high!
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2006
Messages
2,446
Location
Houston, TX
Glad you enjoyed it, tell your dad I'm sorry, there was absolutely NONE of that gravel last August. I did notice a bunch of trucks so they must come through every year or so and dump gravel to keep the road up and it sounds like you came through as they were doing it. My only issues with the road were where it was wet from the rain under the trees where it wasn't getting any sun to dry it up. It was a little slippery but nothing too bad...if you don't come hauling into the corner way faster than you should have. Took me several days to get that pucker mark out of the seat.

This is what the entire road looked like last year.



Sheesh, are you men or little girls?

Real men stand on the edge!:rofl:



Yea, 92 and the Black Canyon of Gunnison is a must on that trip. However, ride careful because there's no guardrails and the penalty for failure is high!
It's all good. I think he just gets tired after being on a motorcylce for 12 hours a day sometimes. :lol2: He still won't let me forget a gravel, or should I say rock, road I took him down 4 years ago in Arkansas.

We're obviously not real men. :mrgreen: There was a stout breeze that day. :eek2: That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
 
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Arlington
Sheesh, are you men or little girls? -- Nah, the little girls would be at the roadside, standing next to me.:nono:
 
Joined
Feb 13, 2008
Messages
4,622
Location
Jennings,La.
Great pictures bringing back many many fond memories of my travels about that country.
Was wondering what kind of fuel mileage the Connie 14 averaged up there. Tooling about on my Bandit 1250S a couple years ago got me a high of 56.2 for a tankfull in the Independence area. Best fuel mileage I've ever had on a street bike up there. Course, the speeds I was running helped loads. LOL!
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2006
Messages
2,446
Location
Houston, TX
Great pictures bringing back many many fond memories of my travels about that country.
Was wondering what kind of fuel mileage the Connie 14 averaged up there. Tooling about on my Bandit 1250S a couple years ago got me a high of 56.2 for a tankfull in the Independence area. Best fuel mileage I've ever had on a street bike up there. Course, the speeds I was running helped loads. LOL!
My bike was averaging 46-48 mpg at elevation. The other three probably averaged over 50 mpg, even with dad being on the same bike. If dad's in 5th gear, i'm most likely in 3rd or 4th, and my mileage suffers because of it.
 
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Messages
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Location
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Day 5 – July 28, 2011

Leadville, CO to Evergreen, CO – 347 miles - MAP



Ah, good morning Colorado!
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It was getting tougher and tougher to wake up at 5:30 am every day, but we somehow managed. The pics above were taken out of our hotel window. It was a great, crisp morning. We had some breakfast at the hotel, loaded up and got on the road at about 7:15 am.

We had a good stay at the Columbine Inn & Suites, I highly recommend it if you are staying in Leadville. This one definitely looked the best. It has nice lounge and breakfast areas, and the price is right.
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We stayed north on US 24 out of Leadville. It wasn’t even 10 miles yet and we were already at Tennessee Pass.
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Just three turns later we stopped to view the bridge. As I was pulling into the overlook I could see there was a trench where the rain had dug out the dirt and gravel. I went slow through it, trying not to drag anything under the bike. I made it through and put my kickstand down. Brett made it through as well, but he almost dropped the ST while trying to park. Next thing we see is dad in front of us, headed to the ground on the Connie. I got off my bike and ran over to help him pick it back up. Apparently he didn’t like where he was parked, so he tried to move, but he was uphill in second gear and popped the clutch. When that happened, she started going over to the right and dad didn’t have the footing nor strength to prevent it. No harm was done to dad, and somehow only very little cosmetic damage to the bike. I think what made him more upset was the tank bag picked up some tiny little rocks off the ground, so when he put it back on, it scratched up his tank.
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We continued north on US 24 to I-70 where we headed east. It was a very scenic ride down the interstate, over Vail Pass and through Vail, with mountains on either side of the road. We were slowed down by some construction on the west side of Vail pass.

We exited US 6 at the town of Dillon and made a stop at Dillon Reservoir. A local policeman pulled in the parking lot to chat with us for a bit.
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Next up was Loveland Pass on US 6. Loveland and Independence were my two favorite passes of the trip. Both had absolutely beautiful 360 degree views. Loveland was a bit more crowded due to its proximity to interstate.
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We hopped back on I-70 and headed east again for a bit. We exited on US 40 and headed back west, but it eventually ran north. It took us over Berthoud Pass where we stopped for a break.
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I forgot to mention that dad saved part of his French Dip from last night to have as leftovers today. Randy wasn’t able to finish his either, but he gave it to Brett to have today as well. Anyone who owns a ST1300 knows how ridiculously hot the glove box gets. So naturally, at this stop they popped the leftovers into the oven to enjoy later.
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Next up was a gas stop in Fraser.
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We turned onto US 34, passed Lake Granby, and headed into Rocky Mountain National Park. I believe the entry fee was $10 per motorcycle.
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As soon as we entered the park it started sprinkling. The clouds ahead looked somewhat threatening, so I pulled over so we could suit up.
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Right after leaving here I saw my first moose in the wild. It was out in a field, a good distance from the road. We continued on and started climbing higher and higher. Traffic wasn't too terrible getting to the highest section. We took a break here; it would be the only place we stopped for the rest of the park.
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A mile down the road we saw two elk just sitting on the side of the mountain.
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From this point through the rest of the park we were in slow motion. There were people everywhere. Every single scenic pull off was overflowing with vehicles. It was definitely worth the ride through. I’d like to go back again someday in a car and spend more time in the park. Sitting in traffic or going 5 mph isn't my idea of fun on a bike. To make matters worse there were several construction zones.
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Almost out of the park a coyote ran across the road. Dad got a picture of it. It’s somewhere in there.
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We cruised through Estes Park and turned south on 7. Still in town there was a huge elk sitting in a field on the side of the road. Several cars were parked there with people standing by them, just watching the elk. It was as if it was in a zoo. Leaving Estes Park it started raining on us. This time it rained for quite a while. The trip down 7 to 72 (aka Peak to Peak Hwy) and onward was mostly a blur. I tried to make one quick stop while the rain was light.
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I wasn’t a fan of 7 or 72. The road surfaces were not that great, and the slow drivers and weather didn’t help. Once we turned on 119, things got better. I enjoyed this road much more than the last two. It was interesting to ride through Black Hawk, a little gambling oasis in the mountains. We turned back west on US 6 and west again on I-70. In need of gas, we stopped in Idaho Springs.
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Of course the one time you actually want the glove box to be hot, it isn’t. We were running at elevation and cool temperatures all day. Brett had checked a time or two before and the leftovers weren’t ready. At this gas stop, they finally were. Dad even let me have a piece. It was just as good as the previous night.
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From the gas station we hopped on 103 and headed south. The rain started again, so when we pulled into the park entrance for Mount Evans, I pulled over to see if everyone wanted to continue on. I think the consensus was, we’re already here, let’s do it. The guy at the entrance station said it was $3 per bike. I asked him if that was the, it’s raining and foggy you aren’t going to be able to see a thing on a motorcycle discount. He laughed and said yes. I tried to get him to pay us for going to the top, but it didn’t work. He warned us that between the 7 and 8 mile marker the road was in pretty bad shape from the cold, he compared it to ski moguls. We got our receipts and tags and headed on. It’s right at 15 miles to the summit. The ride up to Summit Lake wasn’t too bad. It was a divided road with nothing too crazy. The moguls start right around Summit Lake. Moguls or whoops is definitely a good description. They last less than half a mile though. Just a quick glance over at Summit Lake while riding by is all we did because it was raining on us. With 4 miles left, things got intense. It was getting cold and our hands were not function as well. Between the cold and rain, it was extremely hard to see anything. My visor would fog up, and when I would crack it open I was getting hit by rain. The road got narrow and the center dividing line went away. There was no room for error. Guardrails, who needs those. Take all of these conditions and add to it over 10 switchback turns to get to the top and you have an intense ride. I know I was holding the others up getting to the summit. I was going so slow I probably should have been putting a foot down around the corners. I didn’t care though, with the road being so slick I was scared of dropping the bike or worse.

Watching the look on the faces of people heading back down made the ride even more worthwhile. Their expressions mostly said, “these guys must be nuts!” One guy even gave us a shocked laugh. We made it though.
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Here’s the summit.
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See for miles!?!?!? I don’t think so. But, on a clear day I guess you can see Rocky Mountain National Park and Denver metro.
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Funny, as soon as we parked there was a huge clap of thunder. It’s probably not the best idea to stick around too long up here.
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Brett said he would lead on the way back down. No offense taken, I know I was crawling. So we got to do it all over again, now downhill instead of up. Heading back down Brett saw 37 degrees on the ST ambient temperature thermostat. It was chilly and still raining. Several miles in we got stuck behind 5 or 6 cars. The lead Tahoe was literally going 10 mph on a straight section. No one was making a move and then all of the sudden dad, who was in the back, went around everyone and flew right by all the cars. We followed suit and dad set a blistering pace all the way back to the park entrance. When we finally reached the stop sign, I asked dad if he wanted to keep leading, but he said, “no, I just wanted to get the %#$& off that mountain.”

Back on 103 we headed east to our hotel. The road was rough and there was gravel and sand in most of the corners. The rain was making it hard to see. This part of the ride seemed to take forever. We found out once we got to the hotel that Randy’s back tightened up on him with just a few miles left in the day. He was in pretty bad shape trying to get off the bike. Thankfully the riding was over for the day though.

We stayed at the Quality Suites north of Evergreen.
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We walked next door to the El Rancho Colorado and watched the X Games while eating. I had a chicken sandwich with sweet potato fries, cooked to perfection.
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Back at the hotel we jumped in the hot tub to relax and then went to bed. It was the perfect night to have a big room because we had gear scattered everywhere in hopes it would be dry by the morning.
 
Joined
Feb 13, 2008
Messages
4,622
Location
Jennings,La.
What a ride up Evans. Thanks for sharing. My thing for Nat'l Parks is to be at the gate at opening time. Beats a heck of a lot of traffic and many times, you have the park to yourself for an hour or so. Then, comes, the, pack. LOL!!
Course on a rainy or foggy day, ;-(.
LOL! I probably ride a lot like your dad. Brings good fuel mileage and tire wear. ;-)
 
Joined
Sep 4, 2009
Messages
11,186
Location
Arlington
Wow, the pictures just keep getting better and better. What a great adventure. I see they already have the marker sticks up along Trail Ridge Road.

In our experience at Rocky Mountain National Park, the line is always way shorter if you enter from the east end of Estes Park, near the Stanley Hotel. Turn north next to the grocery store, drive about 10 miles, and you come through a much less crowded gate, right next to the Aspen Glen campground.
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2006
Messages
2,446
Location
Houston, TX
Day 6 – July 29, 2011


Evergreen, Co to Amarillo, TX – 533 miles - MAP



It was another beautiful Colorado morning, but today was bittersweet in that we would be leaving this beloved state. We got up at the usual time, ate some breakfast and packed up. The night before I realized just how tough today’s mileage was going to be. In addition, we were going to be losing an hour crossing time zones.
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There were some top secret cars in the parking lot. We had seen them riding around on our way to the hotel yesterday. When I saw them on the road I was wondering what they were.
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Someone’s representing in Colorado.
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The morning was slow going at first with lights through towns and quite a few people on the road. Keeping time in mind, we didn’t stop too many times between gas breaks. The roads in the morning weren’t great, but they were better than running interstate. I believe this first stop to stretch was somewhere along 67.
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We rode into the western side of Colorado Springs and filled our tanks.
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The next break to get off the bikes and walk around was somewhere along 96.
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Dad saw some rocks that looked like flint and tried to make a spark.
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Dad and Brett told us what we had missed back on 115 leaving Colorado Springs. As we were leaving one of the construction zones, a truck hauling some of the newly excavated concrete pulled out in front of the group of cars ahead of us. At a passing lane, Randy and I were able to get around everyone, but Brett and Dad got stuck behind the truck. While they were following the truck, smoke started billowing out. They had to slow down because they could barely see. Then sparks started flying out from under the truck. Next, one of the double wheels/tires on the truck broke loose with a piece of axle still attached. It then rolled up the incline on the side of the road, hit some trees and bounced off, rolled back across the road and off the drop off on the other side. All of this happened right in front of their eyes.
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Just 15 miles later we arrived at a planned stop on 165, Bishop Castle. It’s definitely worth the stop if you’re in the area. Just knowing Mr. Bishop built this castle with his own two hands is quite the eye-opener.
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I guess you have to be a bit wacky to build a castle. To say Mr. Bishop is a bit wacky is a huge understatement. The whole time we were there he was working… and ranting.
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There’s intricate detail everywhere, but there’s also unfinished work everywhere.
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We all climbed to the highest point of the castle. There is quite the view from the top. As I was holding on for dear life on the top step, Randy was kind enough to shake the upper section. The thing really moves around and that’s not a good feeling when you’re that high and on something a crazy guy built.
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The road leading up to and after the castle, 165, was really nice. It had good curves and a nice surface.
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165 Took us back to I-25, and we headed south for another short stint. Exiting on US 160 we went west and then jumped on 12, the Highway of Legends. We stopped for a fill-up in La Veta. A deer walked right by the station while we were there. The weather ahead was looking pretty bad.
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Brett was the only one to put any rain gear on. We continued on the Highway of Legends, right for the mountains, and right for the storm. As we got closer, I could see just how active the lightning was. I was looking for a spot to pull over real quick and ask the guys how they wanted to proceed. I found one and whipped over. Randy and Brett followed suit but I don’t think dad was expecting it. He ended up stopping ahead of me. At this point I figure we’ll just make a little stop here. I look up and dad and his Connie are laying on the guardrail in front of me. I got off my bike and went over to him, grabbed the passenger rail and helped pull him up straight again. Apparently he put his foot down and it slipped on the small gravel. Once again, dad was fine, and somehow so was Connie, well, maybe except for a couple new scratches on the mirror.
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I was the only one to not put any rain gear on, don’t ask me why. I made sure everyone wanted to continue on instead of backtracking to I-25 and slabbing it. Everyone said they were ok, so we continued. We road right through the storm, but it wasn’t all too bad, for a while at least. Then we came into a little town with a low speed limit and I got stuck behind a truck crawling along. Right at this time it started pouring. I had streams running all down my body and the truck was pissing me off, so I bolted around it and took off. As long as I was moving at a decent speed, the rain wasn’t effecting me too much, but going slow was killer. There were several pucker moments when I would spot a river running across the road at the last minute. Oh, I failed to mention that the rain brought some cool temps. It was in the 50s and I was soaking wet. I felt legendarily stupid. 12 may or may not have been a nice ride under normal conditions, I’m not sure because I couldn’t see or feel much.

The Highway of Legends dropped us back off at I-25 in Trinidad. The weather had cleared up, but there still remained one cloud over Trinidad. You have to jump through hoops to get on I-25 from 12, but we finally arrived, with some rain coming down. It was a funky ending to our time in Colorado. We rode into New Mexico and headed east on 72 out of Raton.

72 Was an interesting road. Through the first part there was quite a bit of wildlife. I saw several deer, wild turkeys, antelope, and birds were flying everywhere. The road was rough. We climbed up and got onto the high plains and everything changed immediately. There were no trees in sight, just grass with a lot of cows and a few antelope. It was desolate and it felt like we were a thousand miles away from civilization.
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I was starting to worry if we were going to find a gas station any time soon. We rode through Folsom and there was no gas in sight. We took 325 down to Des Moines. Thankfully there was a new station there that wasn’t showing up on the GPS.
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While at this stop Brett mentioned how he had an unusually bumpy ride along 72. It was a bumpy road, but his butt actually got air off the seat several times. Hmmm, that’s weird since he should have the smoothest ride out of all of us.

We were now on US 87 heading for Texas and starting the boring ride back home. While still in New Mexico it was quite windy, and a storm was threatening to the south of us for a long time. We never got into rain though.
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Entering Texas we continued on US 87 to US 385, east on 354 and finally south on US 287 into Amarillo. Pushing the limits of the FZ1’s tank, we went the last 180 miles to the hotel without a stop. We pulled into the hotel at 8:21 pm. It had been a long day on the road that included a hike to the top of a castle. We were exhausted and opted to just walk over and eat at Taco Bell, which was within the La Quinta parking lot. We discussed getting up earlier to get home at a decent time and crashed out.
 
Joined
Oct 16, 2008
Messages
1,877
Location
Bryan, TX
We went to the same castle, but for some reason your pictures turned out nicer than mine. Must be your camera.:-P Nice report. Nice pictures.
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2006
Messages
2,446
Location
Houston, TX
Day 7 – July 30, 2011


Amarillo, TX to Houston, TX – 593 miles - MAP


We woke up at 5 am to try and get on the road a bit earlier. Instead of waiting around to eat breakfast at the hotel, we decided to just snack at gas stations on the way home. We had to get gas in the morning because none of us wanted to mess with it the previous night. We were checked out and on the road before the sun was up.
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By the end of the previous day it was apparent to Brett that the ST had a blown rear shock. Big bumps at speed, and any bumps while going slow, and he was getting bucked out of the saddle. He led all the way home so he could set a pace that he was comfortable with. I know I shouldn’t have been laughing, but he kept me entertained most of the way home.

The plan was to stop every 150 miles or so, making it 3 stops to home. The first stop was in Quanah. There wasn’t much to take pictures of on the way home, so I was getting desperate.
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I’m starting to think these guys have the right idea. This was my fourth time riding in between Houston and Amarillo in miserable heat.
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You don’t see this anymore.
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The next stop was in Alvord.
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Dad’s 2 year old HyperPro shock left oil all over the rear of the ST.
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It was slow going through Fort Worth and we had to split up here and there due to traffic. Between Waxahachie and I-45 there is a long rough section of road. It looked like Brett was riding a bucking bronco through there. Our final gas stop of the day was in Fairfield.
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“My bum hurts and my back is killing me.”
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Brett was jockeying the ST home.
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I was riding on the wings of Red Bull and Aleve.
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I’m almost home sweetness.
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There’s not much to write about the rest of the way home. We split off from each other at the I-45 and the 610 loop interchange. I pulled into my driveway right around 5:00 pm and tucked Connie into the garage with her sisters.
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Here are the ending stats from my GPS and bike computer. I’m an old dad now, didn’t even break 100 mph the whole trip!
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Another trip in the books: 7 days, 3300 miles, a bunch of mountain passes, one and a half bike drops, Million Dollar Highway, Colorado National Monument, the Grand Mesa, Rocky Mountain National Park, Mount Evans, Bishop Castle, some crazy heat, some cool fresh mountain air, and a huge desire to go back to Colorado.
 
Joined
Mar 22, 2005
Messages
120
Location
Frisco
Many thanks Kory for your trip report with lots of good road pics. This report will likely have some folks here checking the maps and dreaming of tasting the good atmosphere of Colorado.

Neal
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2006
Messages
2,446
Location
Houston, TX
Whoopsie, didn't realize my pics were disabled on Photobucket. It should be squared away now.

Many thanks Kory for your trip report with lots of good road pics. This report will likely have some folks here checking the maps and dreaming of tasting the good atmosphere of Colorado.

Neal

Great report. Pics were awesome. Thanks
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it. :-P
 
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