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Westbound Flight

Joined
Jun 26, 2003
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1,890
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Huntsville, Tx
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Debbie
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McMullen
Hey RB,

Squeaky told me about your trip. Glad to hear that you made it there & have started back. :thumb: Hope the weather improves for you. Looking forward to more pics. :popcorn:
 

Squeaky

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Katy
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Rebecca
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Nelson
36-hour forecast shows that dropping south is probably a good idea.

 
Joined
Feb 6, 2006
Messages
1,573
Location
conroe
Warning, she may want to slow down a bit:

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:eek2:

Tornadoes have sprouted in Texas and Oklahoma this evening, the start of a dangerous outbreak that is expected to continue through Thursday. Earlier this evening, there were reports of an overturned tractor-trailer and a roof blown off a house from a tornado over one hundred miles west of Dallas.

Severe thunderstorm and tornado watches are in effect until the early morning hours in anticipation of thunderstorms producing tornadoes, hail, and strong winds.

The northern half of Texas, much of Oklahoma, and western Arkansas appear to be the most susceptible to these severe storms.

A severe weather outbreak -- perhaps one of the most prolific of the season -- will continue through the day on Thursday.

A large part of the central U.S., from Illinois southward through east Texas and Louisiana, will see a threat of tornadoes, damaging winds gusts, and large hail.

Residents in these areas need to monitor the weather situation in their area very closely and take appropriate action should severe storms move in.
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
First Name
Becca
Day 03
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Santa Barbara, CA
50 miles

Today was a much needed day of rest (at least from the bike). My parents and I got up early and had breakfast in the restaurant at the Doubletree resort we were staying at.

They graciously drove me to a nearby OSH (hardware store) where I bought an assortment of torx bits (I could NOT remember what size the valve cover bolts were). Deciding that dirty fingernails and weddings do not mix, I held off on actually pulling the cover until that evening.

Steven and Allison’s wedding was casual and comfortable. I saw a few friends that I hadn’t seen in several years. After a short ceremony, we mingled on the lawn of the park. Dinner was a tri-tip, rib, and chicken BBQ (in CA that means grilled :P ) with traditional Santa Maria fixing’s (potato salad, green salad, beans, garlic bread).

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Back at the hotel, I sat next to the R1200ST in the dark. With the light of an LED headlamp, I pulled the left valve cover off. As I suspected, the “donut seal” around the spark plug shaft was misaligned. It was now slightly malformed. I cleaned it and reinstalled it, hoping that it would at least slow the leak.
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
First Name
Becca
Day 04
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Santa Barbara, CA to Cupertino, CA
341 miles

Waving goodbye to my parents, my first attempt to leave the hotel parking lot resulted in a stalled bike and a sheepish grin.

I started (successfully) the day’s ride by heading up and away from the coast on San Marcos pass (CA 154), a badly-kept secret shortcut of US101. It had been foggy and overcast on the coast, but as soon as I got on the other side of the first set of mountains, sunny blue skies greeted me.

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California’s famous golden hills are green this time of year, but there were lots of patches of golden poppies, bright yellow mustard flowers, and waving blue lupine.

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Coming down off the pass, I followed US101 to Pismo Beach. Just a few blocks from the ocean in “downtown” Pismo, Splash Café makes the tastiest, most wonderful clam chowder in the world (in my opinion).

My college town, San Luis Obispo, is just 15 miles up US101. Price Canyon Road, an alternate route from San Luis Obispo, runs inland through rolling hills. Back in college, when I had my Honda 80cc scooter, I would pack a bag with textbooks and ride down to the coast for an afternoon of studying on the beach, always punctuated with a sourdough bread bowl of clam chowder with seafood topping.

At just 11:30, the line was already out the door.

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My plan for the day was to hug the coast all the way up to Santa Cruz. Back in college I would do this run as a weekend lunch ride, so I knew that Highway 1 from San Luis Obispo to Cambria was fairly boring. I had planned to liven up the route with a short trip inland to a couple of very special Central Coast roads.

I headed north to Santa Margarita. CA58 always makes it onto lists of the “Best Roads” in California. I’ve run it many times, but it’s always nice to revisit, even if only for a short distance. I like to think that the engineer who designed this road liked motorcycles.

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Turning north onto CA227, I swooped and curved through rolling green hills. This road is unique in that it is one of very few numbered California state highways with no center line. Care must be taken in the many blind curves to stay to the right. This undulating, twisting road is a roller coaster. Due to the narrowness, there were very few spots where I felt comfortable pulling over.

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I finally headed back toward the ocean on CA46. It was definitely wildflower season along this road.

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I don’t think I’ve ever taken so many pictures along Highway 1. When I was in college nearby, it was a regular weekend ride for me, nothing hugely special. Many of the curves and distinct sections were like old friends. I vividly remember all the times I stopped for coffee at Ragged Point, gas at Gorda, and lunch in Big Sur.

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The elephant seals were out in force north of San Simeon.

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The fun really begins north of Ragged Point. The coastal mountains fall steeply into the Pacific Ocean, making for a thrilling ride hugging the slopes.

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The vista point turnout overlooking Big Creek Bridge is a traditional stop for me. I always park the bike in the same place and take the same shot. I’ve got photographs of all my bikes (except for the scooter and the new GS of course) at this exact spot.

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I’ve actually already got this shot of the ST, but I just had to grab another. I love this bridge. Really, I love all the 1930’s coastal bridges. The arches are so graceful and beautiful.

I slowed to pass through Big Sur and then crossed the Bixby Bridge (another delicious ‘30s structure). I’ve always considered this the end of the fun part of the coast road until you get north of San Francisco. The traffic between Big Sur and Carmel makes this stretch either a “passing fest” or a 2nd gear “hope the bike doesn’t stall following this RV” ordeal. I opted for a little bit of passing, a little bit of following.

From Carmel to Half Moon Bay, Highway 1 is mostly straight with a few stretches of freeway. I had been considering running all the way up to Santa Cruz and taking CA9 over into Saratoga, but I decided in the end to cross via Soquel-San Jose Road. This less well-known road through the redwoods has long been one of my favorites.

I would be staying the night with my friend (and motorcycling idol!) Carolyn (“Bluepoof” on several motorcycle forums). I arrived at her house around 6pm. After unpacking the bike and changing into “street” clothes, we chatted about cats and moto-camping gear until it was time to go to dinner.

We met about 12 members of Sport-Touring.Net at the “New Saffron Club” in Mountain View. All of us opted for the buffet, enjoying various curries, vindaloo, and other Indian dishes.

Carolyn, her husband Peter, and I finished off the outing with a trip to a local Asian supermarket. There, next to durian and taro popsicles, just down the aisle from the fish balls (yummy?), Carolyn stocked up to satisfy her sudden mochi craving.
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
First Name
Becca
Day 05
Monday, April 7, 2008
Cupertino, CA to Death Valley, CA
475 miles

It was a parade of the Beemers as Carolyn led me out of her subdivision this morning. She was on her way to work. I was on my way to motorcycle paradise.

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As I visualize it, there are three valleys heading south toward the Central Coast. US101 is the western-most, for those with destinations along the coast. I-5 traverses the Central Valley, with the lion’s share of travelers. Running down an incredibly scenic and rural valley between them, CA-25 is an almost deserted road that sees only local traffic…. And motorcyclists/sports cars.

In the 60 miles between Hollister and CA-198, it is not uncommon to pass only 15 other vehicles. Cell service is very spotty. It’s just you, your motorcycle, throttle-tempting straights, vertigo inducing curves, and scenic California country-side.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

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CA-25 terminates at CA-198, a busy thoroughfare between US101 and I-5. (CA-198 later continues on to climb into Sequoia Kings Canyon NP, an incredibly steep switchback-fest)

I turned east onto CA-198, immediately gaining serious altitude climbing over a pass. This road is a roller coaster! Unfortunately there is always so much traffic that it’s hard to find good places to stop.

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Reaching the Central Valley, I got on I-5 for the grind south toward Bakersfield and CA-178 (Walker Pass).

Early spring conditions limited my choices for crossing the Sierras. Most of the really fun passes will still be choked with snow for a few more months. Walker Pass is the first open pass south of I-80 (Donner Pass).

The pass follows the Kern River up to Lake Isabella. I’ve never taken this road, so my first inkling that it was going to be fun was the view of the huge opening in the Sierra foothills.

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The Kern River canyon was a typical river canyon, with curves hugging the hillside and great views of the water rushing over the rocky riverbed.

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Like many Sierra passes, the flora changed noticeably as I crossed. Lush and grassy on the western slopes, desert plant-life took over on the eastern side.

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Crossing the Panamint Mountains, I started to feel hot. I‘d been wearing my liners all day, but with very few miles to go and the sun getting low in the sky, I didn‘t want to take the time to pull them out.

I stopped at the park entrance to add another sign to my growing collection.

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With my destination for the night so close, I had a hard time stopping to see the attractions. This was exacerbated by the park service’s frequent use of signs reminding travelers to “park off pavement.” Yeah. Fat chance. I don’t THINK so!

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Very ready to call it a night, I stopped at the Furnace Creek Market for some bottled water, peach iced tea, and a sticker for the R1200ST before setting up camp. My Jetboil made short work of the water for my backpacking food. I was soon sleeping comfortably in my tent.

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Joined
Aug 1, 2007
Messages
8,834
Location
Fort Worth
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Dan
Last Name
Gill
Beautiful! Central California is just gorgeous in the Spring. I missed CA-25 when I was there, but spent some time on 198, since I was going from Monterey to Visalia. The almond and pistachio groves were in bloom when I went through. The road was fun in a car, and I can just imagine it on a bike. You're making me jealous. Keep it coming!
 
Joined
Apr 26, 2006
Messages
4,044
Location
Seabrook, TX
Looks like thing are going well. Thanks for the updates and near-real time pix.

How's that seal doin'? (the oil seal, not the elephant seal :-P ).
 
Joined
Jul 7, 2004
Messages
1,735
Location
Tomball, TX
First Name
Bob
Last Name
Krzeszkiewicz
Nice trip report. I can never stop to take that many pictures. I carry the camera but rarely use it.

It's a shame so many tourists are souly enamoured with the PCH, it is nice, but there are so many gems just on the other side of the mountains. I'm a big fan of red wine, so the vineyards are my favorite places to visit.

Interesting to see I'm not alone in my admiration of bridge architecture. My first big trip west was after my freshman year of college (I was an architecture/civil eng. major my first year) to ride the PCH from L.A. to Cape Disappointment, just over the OR/WA border. That seemed to take forever. But I was interested in the bridges I had learned about in school. Worth the trip just for that.

My successive trips to CA were much more off the beaten path. I'm considering a trip to NorCal to dig up abalone and tear up the forest roads with some friends in a few weeks.
 

scar04

2
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Feb 18, 2005
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Laredo, TX
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Oscar
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Saldana
Much jealousy, looks like a gorgeous ride thus far.
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
First Name
Becca
Ok guys... this is bugging me (a couple people referred to it this way). I DIDN'T RIDE THE PCH!

The PCH is ONLY in Southern California (as evidenced by the "The" always put in front of it) and is very little fun. Scenic, I guess, but giant houses and cheesy resorts line the beach. Think "Malibu".

The part of the coast road that I was on is simply called "One" or "Highway One" by most people. The state calls it the Cabrillo Highway.
 
Joined
Jul 7, 2004
Messages
1,735
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Tomball, TX
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Bob
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Krzeszkiewicz
Anyone who's never been there wouldn't know that. Everyone knows what PCH is. Don't get upset about it. Enjoy the rest of your trip.
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2007
Messages
2,500
Location
Houston, TX
Every time I see pictures of CA I physically ache. Wow it is beautiful. Makes me just want to quit my job and move. :giveup:

Becca - Great ride report so far! Please stay safe in the bad weather you're running into.
 
Joined
Aug 1, 2007
Messages
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Fort Worth
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Dan
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Gill
Don't forget that you're seeing the prettiest time of year for that part of CA. It gets quite brown and dry later on. I still like it, though.
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2003
Messages
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Location
Huntsville, Tx
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Debbie
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McMullen
Hey RB,

Where was the teaser pic taken at? :eek2:

or rather Squeaky ..... where is she? :giveup:

Be safe & keep up the great ride report and awesome pics. :clap:
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2005
Messages
1,952
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Katy
First Name
Steve
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M
The PCH is ONLY in Southern California (as evidenced by the "The" always put in front of it)
Hehehe. Reminds me of a discussion I had about "The Ten"... it took me a few minutes to realize the commies... err... SoCal folks were talking about I-10.
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2007
Messages
2,500
Location
Houston, TX
I just read that huge post about the SPOT. Ooh, I want one! :lol2:

Seriously I think that would give my husband some peace of mind if I go off riding without him. ;-)

Squeaky - Any update on Becca?
 
Joined
Jul 12, 2005
Messages
10,891
Location
Cleburne, TX
First Name
Nathan
Last Name
Seery
Great, I've been wanting to ride Highway 1 (do I get points for using the correct name?) and now you go and show me all kinds of pretty pictures from it. Thanks a lot :whatever:

Keep the reports coming, but more importantly, stay safe!
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
First Name
Becca
Day 06
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Death Valley NP, CA to Zion NP, UT
294 miles

I only had two waypoints in my route for today: start and end. I wanted to get to Zion National Park as fast as possible to have time to ride the shuttle into Zion canyon (something I missed last time I was there).

With no showers available in the campground, I had little reason to linger. My tent was down and the R1200ST packed in record time. Breakfast was a granola bar washed down with some water from my Camelbak.

My desire to move quickly warred with the draw of the spectacular scenery I was passing by. Between vista points and desert flowers, I stopped several times on the way out of Death Valley.

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A panoramic shot from one of the vista points is here(2.6mb): http://www.rocketbunny.net/uploads/april08/DVpanos.jpg

Reaching the border, I realized that I didn’t have a Nevada state line sign in my collection. That situation rectified, I suddenly realized that (odd as it was) I didn’t have a California sign either.

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I rolled into Las Vegas on US-95 around lunchtime. An exit services sign advertised a favorite western fast food chain but didn’t give any further direction. I went up the road about a mile before turning around and trying the other direction. Just when I was about to give up and go find something else…. There it was!

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Lunch was a cheeseburger with grilled onions, vanilla milkshake, and French fries that actually looked like they were some relation to potatoes.

When I walked outside after lunch, a woman (probably about my age) was gearing down by a sport bike parked next to the R1200ST. She stopped short, “Now why did I assume that it wouldn’t be another woman?”

I laughed and we chatted for a few minutes before she went in to start her lunch break. It’s rare to find another female motorcyclist riding alone.

I-15 surprised me with a rather fun ride through the Virgin River Gorge.

I reached Zion National Park around 2:30 pm.

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Several years ago the Park Service closed Zion Canyon to automobile traffic (at least during the busy months) and instituted a shuttle system. The shuttles are free and make several stops at vista points and trailheads in the canyon. I came through Zion in July 2005 but didn’t have time to ride the shuttles into the canyon. I didn’t want to miss it this time!

I also didn’t want the R1200ST sitting unattended in a parking lot with all my gear on it for several hours. Upon arriving at Zion I checked into the campground and set up my tent. I pulled as much as I could off the bike and tossed it into the tent. Unfortunately, since there was no way that I was leaving my laptop and other electronics in an unattended tent, I had room only for my helmet in the bags. I boarded the shuttle in full gear (sans helmet) carrying my Camelbak and tank bag.

The canyon is an out-and-back trip. I decided to ride the shuttle to the end of the line to scope out the most promising stops.

I had expected the shuttle to be an ordeal. Instead I found knowledgeable operators who announced quirks of the canyon, quipped anecdotes about the various hiking trails, and pointed out rock climbers on the rock faces. While I would certainly have liked to be in control of my own vehicle, I think I learned much more about the canyon on the shuttle.

This deer was grazing beside the road and barely flinched when the shuttle rolled to a stop about 8 feet away.

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Some shots taken through the open window of the shuttle:

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In my bug splattered riding suit, tank bag swinging from the chest strap of my Camelbak, camera in hand, I must have looked like quite a character to the other hikers on the Riverside trail.

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The shuttles run every 6-8 minutes. I got off at the Big Bend stop just for the overlook. By the time the next shuttle arrived, I had taken several pictures, soaked in the scenery, and was ready to move on.

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At Weeping Rock, I took the half mile roundtrip hike up a steep trail to the main attraction. Water percolates through the porous rock from the cliffs above and then rains out where the river carved an overhang long ago. The moisture is constant year-round, so a “hanging garden” of lush plant life has taken root.

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It was getting late when I reboarded the shuttle. I decided that I was about “Zioned-out” for the day. Reaching the visitor’s center, I walked over to the market for some bottled water and iced tea to go with my backpacking food supper.

Back at the campsite, I plugged in my camera and phone for some needed charging. I’ve discovered recently that RV campsites have outlets that can be very useful for tent campers in the age of electronics. I had reserved a riverside campsite for a short RV and set up my tent right next to the power so that I‘d be able to feed wires in through a side door. After dinner I shimmied into my sleeping bag and worked on my laptop late into the night.

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drfood

Forum Supporter
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Oct 7, 2007
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Houston
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Darrell
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Gerdes
WOW! Completely amazing and awesome sounding trip. You're in my favorite parts of the country. Zion/Bryce/Arches/Monument Valley so serene and peaceful.

Just out of curiosity what type of camera are you using? Great photos!!!!!
 

Squeaky

2
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Joined
Mar 6, 2004
Messages
13,258
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Katy
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Rebecca
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Nelson
Looks like she's already down on 90 not far from the STN reginal meet in Alpine this weekend. :rider:
 

Gilk51

2
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Jan 14, 2005
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Arlington, Texas
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Gibke

JTM

Joined
May 2, 2007
Messages
2,230
Location
W.Houston
She has made some excuses (on another board) about being really busy at work and that is about to leave for another trip.
 
Joined
Apr 5, 2005
Messages
1,843
Location
Yuma, AZ
First Name
Adam
Last Name
McCreight
Somewhere between Deming and Lordsburg I abandoned the SS1K idea. The main factor here was that I didn’t want to have to find a motel in Tucson in the dark (I hate staying in large cities). The sun was still in the sky when I checked into a motel in Lordsburg, NM.

Ahh, next time you or near, I live 5-8 stop lights north of I-10 on the far east side of town. Just let me know next time, and we will roll out the red carpet.
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
First Name
Becca
Day 07
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Zion NP, UT to Flagstaff, AZ
288 miles

The day dawned breezy and cool with patches of gray clouds rolling over. While packing my camping gear, I continuously switched between jacket and jacket-less. I’d get just cold enough to need the warmth, but quickly start sweating. Once I was off and moving, jacket with liner was just about perfect.

Some shots that don’t really capture the full glory of Zion: (I’m convinced that there is no good time to photograph this end of the canyon… I’ve been here in evening and now morning. The lighting sucks!)

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I stopped at an overlook to read about the Zion Park Tunnel. Back in the 1920s this end of the canyon was seen as a dead end. There was only one way into the remote park and it was poorly paved.

In 1927, the NPS started the ambitious project of building a series of switchback up the side of the canyon and then boring a tunnel through solid rock. At the time of completion in 1930, it was the longest tunnel in the United States. The road made Zion more accessible to tourist from the Grand Canyon and Bryce, leading to an explosion in the number of visitors to the barely a decade old park.

Thinking about the history, I felt shivers looking up at the tunnel *windows*, which provide ventilation and were the means to remove excavated rock. I do love seeing and thinking about the debris of history.

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Past the tunnel, I swooped along the Zion-Mt Carmel Road, stopping briefly to look at the various rock formations. I told myself that I would be seeing nothing but rock formations this day and promised to put effort into not becoming indifferent to their beauty.

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As I approached Mt Carmel Junction and my turn north, the skies started to become worrying. I hadn’t seen a weather report in days, so it felt prudent to stop, get some gas, and figure out the situation.

I sat down to a very unhealthy breakfast at the Thunderbird Lodge and heard that there was a good chance of snow that day.

I find it interesting that 20 miles later, even as the first barely perceptible flakes were swirling around me, I wasn’t cold, I had my heated vest running in the background, my heated grips on, balaclava in place, and all liners in. All I was really thinking about was that sickening out-of-control feeling from September 2006 when I felt my bike slide out from under me in the snow.

I told myself that I would be fine as long as I had good visibility and the snow didn’t accumulate on the road. I drove serenely into the storm.

For the first few miles, the snow wasn’t sticking to the road. The lanes were clear and I felt good about traction. Then it got to the point where there were two distinct tire tracks on the asphalt, soon followed by two tracks in the snow. Road conditions were strongly reminding me of the last time I’d stupidly ridden into snow. With my visor starting to fog up and the constant wiping no longer working, I decided it was time to turn around and find a place to hole up until the storm was over. I put on my emergency flashers and, after checking carefully for oncoming traffic, got myself turned around.

I remembered seeing a gas station not far back. It seemed an attainable goal, but my logical reasoning about visibility and traction had failed to account for the idea that snow would also accumulate where I had been. Instead of quickly finding clearer roads, I continued through my frozen nightmare.

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Somewhere in there I passed 2 bicyclists…doggedly pedaling along through the storm. I remember marveling at their determination.

In hopes of clearing the ice, I stopped briefly on the side of the road to spray my visor down with defogger. Unable to manage to cleaning more than the bottom half of the interior of the visor, I ended up forced to ride with it cracked open. My head was tilted up to look through the cleared portion and snow flakes, feeling just like small pebbles, continuously battered my neck and chin.

The parking lot at the gas station was seeing a lot of traffic. Every spot in front was taken, so I carefully parked the ST in the front corner and grabbed my tank bag. Chunks of snow dropping off my shoulders, I geared down under cover, just outside the entry. The attendant didn’t have much information about the storm, and I *needed* to know what was happening on radar, so I put my stuff down on a table and called Rebecca.

Cell signal was bad enough that I had to stand outside for most of the call. Rebecca was able to pull up some animated radar. Once I was able to make clear to her exactly where I was, she was able to tell me where the storm was and where it was going.

Bad news. The storm was headed north and east, just like me.

That pretty much clinched it. My red rocks excursion was over. I couldn’t risk running into snow at high altitudes in Bryce or on Utah 12 through the Grand Staircase area.

The storm was moving on at this point and the snow starting to melt. I went out to the bike to dig up my big US road atlas and to document (in a very melted state) the snow coverage on the R1200ST.

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Feeling defeated, I headed south. The rest of the day was cold. Temperatures never rose out of the low 50s. I went through a few areas with light flakes, but no more snow like the morning. Constantly eyeing the sky with trepidation, the road seemed less fun and the scenery dull.

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In Jacob Lake, AZ, with the skies once again threatening, I stopped for an early dinner. Walking into the bathroom in my geared down state of spandex-ey Underarmour shirt, biker shorts, and knee-high soccer socks with boots, I think my appearance shocked 2 women clad in pioneer style dresses. We eyed each other while waiting for a similarly dressed child to finish in the one stall.

Attempting to tear myself out of my funk of disappointment, I stopped several times for photos in the Vermilion Cliffs area. It was very windy, making for several scary moments wrestling the R1200ST off the side stand.

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The wind was still a concern later in the day when I stopped at Navaho Bridge, but I ALWAYS brake for history!

Built in 1929, the Navajo Bridge is one of only 2 crossings of the Colorado River within 600 miles. At the time it was built, the only other way across the river between Utah and Arizona was an unreliable ferry a few miles down river.

In the early 90s it was determined the that bridge couldn’t withstand the increasingly heavy traffic. A new, similarly styled but more modern bridge (shown on the left) was completed in 1995. The original Navajo Bridge (on the right) is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and open only to pedestrian traffic.

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I approached Flagstaff on US89, eyeing the clouds cloaking the tops of the San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountain range in Arizona. Light snowflakes began to fall as I entered the city, making my decision to pass by the local KOA very easy.

I was aiming for my Old Reliable, a Motel 6, but the newish looking Travelodge next door was advertising free wifi, a guest laundry, and comparable prices.
 
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Joined
Feb 16, 2007
Messages
891
Location
Central Texas
Considering the heat wave we are currently experiencing, this a cool and refreshing report. Great pics

In the pic of your snow covered bike, was the glaze on the ground ice or slush?:eek2:
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
First Name
Becca
Day 08
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Flagstaff, AZ to Socorro, NM
432 miles

In a way, the snow encounter in Utah, while unwelcome at the time, actually simplified and removed some potential stress from my trip.

From the first days of planning, I'd looked skeptically at the road options between Moab, UT and the Texas border. The good roads were in the mountains and it was still very early in the season. The safer roads, on the plains of NM, were likely to be fraught with hair-raising gusts of wind. These worries were now moot.

I had two days to get to the STN Region 2 Meet. The base (interstate) route between Flagstaff, AZ and Alpine, TX is about 800 miles. I always figure that adding interesting roads will add at least another 100 miles. My days are further lengthened by stops for attractions along the way.

Sitting in my motel room with Mapsource running on my laptop, I decided that the only thing to do was shortcut Arizona on I40 (after all, I had just ridden in the region a year ago) and try to make it to some new (to me) roads in NM.

Just cuz, I stopped for gas (and breakfast) in Winslow, AZ. It wasn't much of a corner.

To break up the interstate dash, I took some time to ride through Petrified Forest National Park.

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The ranger at the entrance station swiped my parks pass, and then told me to be sure and have my camera out for the first six miles. Riding away, I looked at my gloved hands and shrugged internally. Riiiiiiiight.

Instead of attempting to take pictures while moving (yeah, I know some riders do it) I stopped at several of the Painted Desert vista points to take in the view.

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The park road commemorates it's crossing of Rt 66 with a nice informational plaque and blatant photo op.

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Having seen some geology and history, I was ready for the main attraction: petrified wood (yeah, I know it's stone).

Jasper Forest was once filled with logs fallen away from the eroding cliffs that once encased them. Around the turn of the century (the 19th/20th one, that is) the valley was plundered and many of the logs were dragged away to be ground down for minerals or sold to tourists.

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The park was created to protect the remaining logs, but in it's early years, tourists often didn't follow the rules against collecting rocks. I couldn't help but think of all the times my parents hammered into us the rules against picking things up in National Parks.

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Reaching Gallup, NM, I headed south on fairly straight state highways through a large indian reservation. The area appeared to be fairly depressed, so when I saw what appeared to be a bunch of junked trucks spread out in the valley ahead of me, I didn't give them much scrutiny...

...until ten miles later when I hadn't yet passed them and they had slowly resolved into satellite dishes. The gravel paving in the turnout couldn't stop me from pulling over to read about the VLA (Very Large Array).

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About an hour later I reached I25 and decided that I'd had it for the day. I found an inexpensive motel on the strip in Socorro, NM.
 
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
1,210
Location
Cypress (NW Houston)
First Name
Becca
Day 09
Friday, April 11, 2008
Socorro, NM to Alpine, TX
411 miles

"Screw that!" was my immediate thought this morning when the GPS presented me with an ETA of ~9 PM.

I threw out my original highly optimistic route that was going to take me over some scenic NM backroads and past Carlsbad Caverns NP for a quick stop.

Instead, I punched in a direct route to Alpine for a much more comfortable ~4ish arrival time. I spent the day racing along I-25 and I-10. The last hundred miles was on US-90, but the speed limit was still at interstate speeds.

The only bright spot worthy of mention flashed by with a double take. I didn't turn around for pictures, but I looked up the Prada Boutique in the middle of nowhere that night in my motel room. (It's "art")

I had made excellent time and really hoped to arrive at the motel in time to nap for an hour or two before having to put effort into being social. Instead, I found half the parking lot already filled with sport-touring bikes. Fortunately, the smiles came easily to my face and I happily greeted old and new friends.

At the appointed time, we strolled across the street to a steakhouse. My black and blue steak was excellent, although I think some of the other attendees were a bit put off by the idea of meat with a cool center (yum!). The accompanying (and also yummy) portobello mushrooms got a few sidelong glances: "Those look like cow ****!"

No photos today. I was insufficiently inspired and reluctant to stop on the side of the interstate.
 
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