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Trippin' Connies 4: Blown Away

Joined
Sep 11, 2006
Messages
2,451
Location
Houston, TX
First Name
Kory
Last Name
Burleson
Warning: This ride report will not be built in a day.


The players in this year’s edition of Trippin’ Connies are my dad, brother (Brett), and myself. I’ve maybe put 500 miles on a motorcycle since the trip to Colorado last year. Brett has rode 0 in that time. Dad, well, he retired earlier this year and rides all the time, but only short little jogs. But none of that means anything, we’re ready to pile some miles on. Dad was once again generous enough to offer up his Honda ST1300 for Brett to ride since he is currently bikeless.


I originally had this year’s trip all planned out to Glacier National Park. Right before I started booking hotels, I read on their website that the Going-to-the-Sun Road that runs through the park would not be fully opened until the week after we had already planned on being there. There’s some sort of 5 year reconstruction process that is currently in place. It wasn’t worth practically riding to Canada and not being able to ride the whole road. So I started looking at the other big park that was on my list, Yosemite. The good news is I have most of next year’s trip already planned.


Day 1 – Saturday, June 2, 2012

Houston, TX to Amarillo, TX – 593 miles





This year, instead of sitting at home while I'm gone, my wife decided to take a trip to Virginia to visit her friend who had recently moved there. She’d be leaving for the airport with our daughter the same morning we were taking off on the bikes. I set my alarm for 4:15 am in hopes of getting to my dad’s house by 6. I’m working on a Project 366 where I take a picture of my daughter every day for the year of 2012. When I woke her up this morning she was in a daze.


Daddy, why are you getting me up so early!!!
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My mom picked my wife and daughter up at 5:45 and I left shortly thereafter. My starting mileage is 31,524.
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I filled my tank up on the way and was pulling on my dad’s street right at 6. After a short time we were off and running.
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Dad and I were going to give his newish SENA SMH-10s a try this year after my Kenwood walkie attached to my Autocom crapped out last year and we were unable to communicate the whole trip. As we were leaving dad’s house he mentioned something about the Honda revving wildly. He had attached a RAM mount to his bars for his iPod and it was making the throttle stick and tough to turn. He’d ride several hundred miles the first day before deciding to fix it.


The first and last days of these trips are always the worst. There’s nothing to see that we haven’t seen before. It’s generally hot and all you’re trying to do is get out of Texas. The first gas stop of the day was made in Rice, TX.


The day before leaving Brett told me he was going to run a mustache for this trip. He said his hair already made him look stupid, why not add a mustache to the mix.
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Brett’s also going old skool on this trip, FILM ONLY! He brought along his Nikon F100, 40 year old Yashica medium format, and a saddlebag full of film.
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These little guys were swarming the station in Rice.
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The second stop for gas was in Wichita Falls, TX.
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And here Brett decided he had had enough of fighting the throttle, so I whipped out my tools and a couple of zip ties and he rigged his new RAM mount up. His iPod was “broken-in” on last year’s trip.
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The third and final gas stop for the day was in Claude, TX.
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Today was warm, but certainly not unbearable. We’ve been doing these trips at the end of July, so with this being early June it seemed to help with the heat. We pulled into the hotel at 4:30 pm.


We flipped on the A/C in the room, unloaded our bikes and made the short trip to Coyote Bluff for dinner. When we arrived there was a line outside. They are open for lunch but close and reopen at 5 for dinner. We got in line and ended up being the first ones to be left out of getting a table. It’s a small place.
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We’d have to wait until a table opened. In the meantime we hydrated.
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And Brett took a picture of a toilet with fake flowers in it.
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The food is good and the burgers are a mess. The waitresses are entertaining and do a great job. I’d certainly recommend this place if you end up in Amarillo. This was our second time there.
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They even brought us a bowl of green chili soup on the house.
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When we got back to the hotel Brett and I got in the freezing cold pool and never could warm up. The sure sign for us to get out was when the little league baseball team all jumped in.


We had a photo session with some horses in a trailer in the hotel parking lot.
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At some point before we went to bed it rained, but it quickly passed over. I told the guys it was going to be a tough day tomorrow, about the same mileage with some scenery thrown into the mix. We went to bed pretty early. Night night ladies.
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cdc

Registered Lurker
Forum Supporter
Joined
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Messages
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Location
Katy, TX
First Name
Camilo
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Your reports are always good. Plenty of pictures and enough text to complement.
:popcorn:
 
Joined
Feb 13, 2008
Messages
4,637
Location
Jennings,La.
First Name
Andy
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Chesley
Not sure of your planned route but, some beautiful country in your path. Your gonna LOVE , LOVE, LOVE Yosemite. One of my TOP FIVE Places to Return to. Only advise is plan to get to the gate at opening time and have it to yourself for a bit before the tour buses arrive at 10ish.
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2007
Messages
11,299
Location
Far East DFW
Not sure of your planned route but, some beautiful country in your path. Your gonna LOVE , LOVE, LOVE Yosemite. One of my TOP FIVE Places to Return to. Only advise is plan to get to the gate at opening time and have it to yourself for a bit before the tour buses arrive at 10ish.
Note the date of Day 1. June 2. He's already back and is doing the writeup. :mrgreen:

I''m subscribed also, I've read the first three and know this one will definitely live up to the rest.
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2006
Messages
2,451
Location
Houston, TX
First Name
Kory
Last Name
Burleson
Day 2 will not be posted until tomorrow, so in the meantime I leave you with a picture I can't stop laughing at. This was taken by Brett on day 1. I'm trying to take a picture of some bug on dad's back. Look at that concentration on my face and the look of annoyance on dad's face. :rofl: The funniest thing about it is the picture sucked! :doh:

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Joined
Sep 11, 2006
Messages
2,451
Location
Houston, TX
First Name
Kory
Last Name
Burleson
Day 2 – Sunday, June 3, 2012

Amarillo, TX to Bluff, UT – 618 miles



Day 2 - Map Link, Non-Embedded

My alarm went off at 6 am and we took our time getting ready. Breakfast at the hotel didn’t start until 7. I guess we missed the memo because when we walked in there right at 7 everyone and their boy scout was in the little breakfast room. Oh well. After breakfast we got rolling at around 7:45.

Dad went to Sam’s Club before the trip and got royally prepared. Brett and I are carrying photo equipment, dad opted for the 5-Hour Energy.
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It was a nice cool/comfortable morning as we headed West on I-40. We crossed into New Mexico and gained an hour on the day that we’d need. We stopped for gas in Tucumcari. This taking pictures of each other is starting to get old, we need some scenery.
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So I headed back behind the gas station to see what I could find… and maybe I had relieve myself as well. Two birds, one stone. There were a couple of rabbits running around back there, but they wanted nothing to do with me. Here’s the wall hangers I came up with. Ha!
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The riding is still uneventful other than getting around the eighty-three thousand semis on the road this morning. Next stop for gas and a break was in Santa Fe.
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This is quite possibly the first capture of a medium format film camera, headphones, and a sheepskin in the same frame.
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After I took these pictures, Brett started roaming around the gas station looking for something to photograph. I guess he looked suspicious/homeless because it didn’t take long for one of Santa Fe’s finest to pull up and start questioning him. I’m dead serious.

Behind the gas station there was an interesting looking graveyard.
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I had heard the area around Los Alamos was scenic so I planned the route through there. Before reaching the town we finally hit some curves, elevation, and scenery.
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After these pictures I wasn’t paying attention to my GPS and missed a turn, no harm done, but it wouldn’t be the last in Los Alamos. There must have been some new roads through there because my Zumo was telling me to turn into parking lots and I didn’t think we’d ever get out of town. We finally made our way to NM 501 and then reconnected with NM 4. The ride on NM 4 was nice and you could tell the area was recovering from some previous wildfires.
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Somewhere along NM 4 we came upon a huge green valley that was an elk viewing area. Indeed there are some elk somewhere in my pictures. This place was beautiful.
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Up the road we came across the Las Conchas Trail area that runs along the east fork of the Jemez River. The area was crowded and there were quite a few people rock climbing. We walked down to the stream and watched some climbers briefly, but didn’t venture down the trail.
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It had been slow going ever since Los Alamos, so when we hit US 550 and headed North we started making up some time. Somewhere South of Bloomfield we stopped in an area that was rich with red dirt and rock.
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While I went in another direction to take pictures, Dad and Brett watched a lady make some authentic food in a stand on the side of the road. (Photo courtesy of Brett)
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We stopped for gas in Bloomfield right next to the hotel we stayed at on Day 2 of last year’s trip.
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Brett realized he had some donuts left from yesterday morning. I forgot to mention that Brett works the night shift, so getting back on our schedule was brutal the first couple of days.
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Leaving Bloomfield we took US 64 West. On the Western side of Farmington we could see a huge rock formation in the middle of nothing else, it was about 30 miles away. It turned out to be Shiprock. We would have needed to take a detour to go right next to it, and that wasn’t in the cards today. So I had to settle for a long distance picture.
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And then the exciting road we were headed down.
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I planned the route to go right by the 4 Corners Monument in case we wanted to stop there. None of us really cared to see it, so we looked at it from a distance as we rode by on US 160. We rode through the corner of Colorado before getting into Utah. The last 50 miles of the day we saw basically no one on the road.

We arrived in Bluff at 7:15 pm, and that was Mountain time. It was a long day in the saddle. Pulling into town the guys were doubting my trip planning abilities because it looked like there were 30 people who lived in Bluff. But, we rode down to the Desert Rose Inn & Cabins and checked into our oasis for the night. The lady at the front desk said we had two options for dinner. The fist was within walking distance so we tried that without looking at the menu. We walked to the steakhouse and there was nothing on the menu cheaper than $18. None of us are ballers, so we opted to walk back to the hotel to ride our bikes to the other restaurant.

This was the view from the back of the hotel.
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This is Bluff, UT.
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Dad headed straight to the restaurant while Brett and I rode a mile up US 191 to a cool looking area.
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Across the street from the restaurant the sun was golden on the rock walls, so I couldn’t resist some more pictures.
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Finally, Twin Rocks Café.
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The ladies in the restaurant rushed us to order since they were trying to shut down and were planning on a busload of people very soon. The tour bus full of Europeans showed up quickly, I have no idea what they were doing in Bluff, UT. We all had burgers… again, and the hummingbirds fighting outside entertained us during our meal.
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We were treated with some free ice cream, I’m guessing there were a few less Europeans than expected.
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We filled up on the way back to the hotel.
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I tried to Skype with my daughter but the internet wasn’t working and the office was closed. So all I had to work with for my photo of the day of my daughter was a picture my wife had sent me earlier, from Washington D.C.
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Before going to sleep Brett and I messed around with long exposures.
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Today was long and tough, tomorrow was going to be the same. Not as many miles, but we would be doing some light hiking that would eat up time.
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2006
Messages
2,451
Location
Houston, TX
First Name
Kory
Last Name
Burleson
Day 3 – Monday, June 4, 2012

Bluff, UT to Ely, NV – 509 miles



Day 3 - Map Link, Non-Embedded


We got up at 6 again and took off about 7:30 Mountain time. One of the downsides to the hotel is they didn’t offer any breakfast. That just meant we’d snack at gas stations all day long. The problem is we wouldn’t hit a gas station for many hours. We took US 163 West and rode by the Valley of the Gods. We took a right on UT 261 and headed North. If you look on a map several miles up UT 261 you will see a tiny cluster of switchbacks. This section of the road is called Moki Dugway. As we approached the wall in front of us, I told dad we were climbing up to the top. At the time we really couldn’t see how that was possible. We stopped at the bottom for a couple of pictures.
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Here’s where we came from.
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Dad headed up.
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The 3 mile section is dirt/rock/gravel and not too tough on a loaded down tourer. We stopped almost at the top to see if we could find a memorial of a fallen rider on the Honda ST forum. Unfortunately we were unable to find it, I’m convinced it was taken or moved. It was a bummer, but the views from the this spot made the trip down UT 261 completely worth it. There was a trail that skirted the rocks, so we followed and were treated to an amazing view overlooking the Valley of the Gods. We took a bunch of pictures while here.
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We finished off Moki Dugway and then took a left on Mulie Point Road. My research had told me the view at the end of the road was incredible. Well, it was. It’s a five mile ride one way with a nice mix of dirt, rock and…. sand. Sand on a loaded sport-touring machine is never a good thing. While I was waiting to turn on the road as dad took a picture of the Moki sign, Brett started riding ahead. Not 50 yards down the road I see him get into a huge tail wag. It looked like he was going down but saved it somehow. That served as a nice warning for us all. Some of the sections were grated and if you hit it too fast it felt like everything was going to shake off the bike. We all made it down the road to the point without any incidents.
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As we’re standing on the point dad yelled out something about a plane. A few seconds later a fighter jet came screaming through the canyon. It something I’ll never forget.
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We had the place all to ourselves. It would be a great place to camp out. Although, you’d have to run it past the birds first. There’s nothing like standing near the edge of a rock with a thousand foot drop and a bird buzzing by your head sounding like an arrow. Every once in a while the swallows would dive bomb us and scare the crap out of us, or at least me.
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We had to turn around and go back down Mulie Point Road to get to UT 261. Just 5 more miles of dirt, rock, and sand. It was nothing we hadn’t already traversed, but in one sand section my bars turned to the left and my left foot went down to the ground. It immediately ran through my head that this is where I was going to drop her and how fun it was going to be to pick her back up. But, somehow, and I really don’t know how, I was able to save it. We averaged 15-20 miles per hour down the road and when we hit UT 261 again and got up to speed 70 mph felt like 150.

We cruised up and took a left on UT 95 and made our way to Natural Bridges National Monument. We went inside the visitor center to pay our dues and we were on our way. The road makes a 9 mile loop through the park and along the loop there are 3 pull-offs to view each bridge and a trail to walk down to some ruins. You can walk down to each of the bridges, but that would take way too much time out of our day. So we decided to view the first bridge from the overlook, hike to the ruins, view the second bridge from the overlook, and hike to the third bridge.

The first bridge we came to was Sipapu Bridge.
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We continued on the loop and stopped to hike to the Horsecollar Ruins. It was a 30 minute round trip hike, and it really wasn’t worth it. When we got to the end, you could barely tell where the ruins even were.
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Another view from the ruin overlook.
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Next up was bridge number two, Kachina Bridge.
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Brett led to the third bridge, Owachomo Bridge. This is the one we wanted to hike to. It’s the oldest bridge of the three and most fragile. When we pulled up to the overlook, it appeared as if the trailhead may not have been there, but further up the road, so Brett took off. I stopped to pull out the park map and dad stayed behind me. From looking at the map, it did show the trailhead was there. Brett was gone and it was a one way nine mile 25 mph loop. I didn’t want to follow him and have to do the loop again so dad and I stayed. We decided to walk down to the bridge, if Brett came back, he’d see our bikes.
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The hike was something like .3 miles to the Bridge. Getting there was all downhill. Once we got down there, we talked to an old-timer who told us to get the postcard picture, we’d have to climb up this other rock where some people were at. I told him we’d pass and that my pictures from there would be just fine.
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Dad and I took our time with the hike back up. I was definitely winded and feeling the elevation, we were over 6k feet here. We were gone about 45 minutes. I wasn’t sure how we were going to get back together with Brett, but as soon as we got back to the bikes, he pulled up. Apparently he had gone back around and stopped at the second bridge instead of the third and had unloaded all his photo gear only to realize he was at the wrong one. He didn’t want to talk about it. Ha! We told him to hike down to the bridge since we thought it was worth it and we’d wait for him. It seemed like he was down and back in no time as we chatted with some people at the overlook.

By this time it was well past noon and we hadn’t gone but about 75 miles on the day. Brett was ahead of us with his extra 9 though. We got back on UT 95 and headed Northwest. I made a quick stop somewhere along the way for a picture. I pulled in way to far at this spot and got in some deep gravel, which you can see in the first pic below. It was fun getting out of there.
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We continued on until and then stopped at Glen Canyon at the bridge over the Colorado River.
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We rode up to Hanksville being pushed by a tailwind, so we got great gas mileage. It was scenic along the way, but I didn’t want to stop if I didn’t have to due to time. We filled up as the wind blew sandblasted everything at the station.
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The remainder of the day mostly sucked! That tailwind that was pushing us up UT 95 soon turned into a crosswind as we headed West on UT 24. I remember the first big gust that hit me as I rounded a corner, it turned my head sideways. Along UT 24 we rode through a brief portion of Capital Reef National Park. We made one stop in the park. The wind was driving me crazy, but it didn’t seem to bother Brett or Dad.
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We made our way to US 50 and didn’t stop anywhere between Capital Reef and Delta, UT. I passed up a couple of gas stations figuring there would be one where we exited I-15, but that wasn’t the case. We rode on to Delta hoping I could make it. The wind was killing our gas mileage. I average about 2 mpg less than dad’s bike due to the exhaust and my right hand and the Honda was getting the same mpg’s as mine, but it’s working with an extra 1.3 gallons. The wind on the West side of I-15 started to reach new levels. I actually rode behind 2 semis for a long time just so they could buffer some of the wind. We were getting blasted by dust. The looks on our faces sum up how we were feeling.
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Mmm, Sweet & Salty bar.
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I need Chap Stick.
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We talked to a couple guys at the gas station. They told us it’s usually windy there, but it was pretty bad that day. They also warned us it would most likely be the same for the rest of the day. Great!

It was 153 miles from Delta, UT to our destination in Ely, NV. We rode it in one shot. It was the worst 153 miles I’ve ever rode on a bike. The wind had to have been a steady 40 mph the whole way with gusts on top of that. That section of road isn’t technically the Loneliest Road in America, but there is nothing between Delta and Ely. I take that back, there’s a hotel/gas station on the border of Utah and Nevada. Other than two small sections of curves the road is as straight as can be. Luckily there were signs on the side of the road saying “Soft Shoulder.” That was comforting to know because I was doing my best not to get blown off the road, but if I did, at least it would be soft. My hands were getting cramped because I had a death grip on the bars and my head was trying to be ripped off my body. This part of the trip was a nightmare. On top of the wind, we timed hitting the mountains prior to reaching Ely just as the sun was going down. It’s a ball of fun riding curves with the sun in your eyes and the wind blasting you.

We pulled up to Hotel Nevada at 8:45 Pacific time. It’s a shame because Ely looked like a cool town to explore. Hotel Nevada opened in 1929 and at that time it was the tallest building in Nevada. The first floor is a casino and they offer each guest a free margarita, which made me feel slightly better.

At this point in the trip, dad was pretty convinced I was going to kill him with this trip and he wasn’t going to make it home. He was calling my mom to tell her his wishes.
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We convinced him to go downstairs and eat some dinner.
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Dad went back upstairs and Brett and I went out to take some pictures of the hotel.
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Back upstairs I took my daily picture of my daughter and we went to bed late and exhausted.
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M38A1

Admin
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The aircraft shot, B1 bomber?

And that stretch from Delta to Ely IS as horrible as you describe. I bet your GPS didn't waver a degree of 270 for the entire ride, right? lol......


Keep 'em coming. This is epic.


.
 
Joined
Mar 1, 2003
Messages
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DFW, TX
The aircraft shot, B1 bomber?

And that stretch from Delta to Ely IS as horrible as you describe. I bet your GPS didn't waver a degree of 270 for the entire ride, right? lol......


Keep 'em coming. This is epic.


.
Definitely a B1.
 
Joined
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Kory
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Burleson
The aircraft shot, B1 bomber?

And that stretch from Delta to Ely IS as horrible as you describe. I bet your GPS didn't waver a degree of 270 for the entire ride, right? lol......


Keep 'em coming. This is epic.


.
I know nothing about aircraft, all I know was it was awesome. :mrgreen:

I didn't look at the GPS much during that stretch, but when I did, it was at the amount of remaining miles. :giveup:
 

cdc

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Fantastic views!
 
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Fantastic pictures of a fantastic land. Keep them coming. Some days out there, I only do about 250 miles, Due to, what else but neck pains due to WIND.
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2007
Messages
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Far East DFW
Yup, I was thinking B1 as well, thanks for the confirmation guys!

That sounds like an incredible day and a horrible day all at once. It's almost like your mood changes were as steep as the terrain.

I do have to say, that steak sandwich looks impressive though. Dang if that and a margarita wouldn't have been the perfect end of that day. I'd have gone back to my room and gone into a coma.

Enjoying this very much so far, thanks for sharing!
 
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