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Dan Hughes

Thursday June 10, Clayton NM to Tonkawa OK

Very straight roads, huge ranches, mega-argi, Sun beating down, big cross-wind, and as late afternoon approaches, hot way beyond comfortable. Rode mostly US 64 and US 60 straight across the panhandle and into the heart of Oklahoma.

Another 360 miles of journey-as-destination. It takes all kinds of journeys. They make different destinations.

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June 14, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | Leave a comment

Saturday June 5, Day ride

Took a short day ride up into the Snowy Mountain Range in far Southern Wyoming. Very correctly named. The snow banks near the top of the pass are still higher than I am. And very very cool; cold even. Another great ride.

Had brunch at the Bear Trap Bar, Cafe, and Cabins in Riverside WY, population 59; package liquor and beer, too. The usual all-in-one arrangement. Complete with pool table and juke box. My kind of place. There are two other package liquor stores in the same village. What’s with all these liquor stores in Colorado.

If we take the Hot Ham Cafe in Amsterdam NY as the reference relative to the possibility of existence of un-sanitary conditions, and assign it 10, then the Bear Trap Bar etc. comes in at about 8+.

June 5, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | 1 Comment

Thursday June 3, Salida CO to Boulder CO

A long day today what with stopping and sight seeing and road touring. I have some business to take care of in Boulder, so I’ll try to get kind of close.

As planned, I head for CO 9 to ride North into the high mountains. I’ve been in these parts several times, but I can’t tour every road every time, so some parts will be different.

Out of Fairplay the road goes over Hoosier Pass ( 11, 541 ft ) and then down into Breckenridge and Frisco. Met Bill in Frisco. He was just returning to his Can-Am Spyder as I got to town. Bill has one of the machines from the original production run. And he loves it. His is serial number 15. Jay Leno has serial number 1. Bill will ride the machine to Sturgis this year.

I continued through the mess that Frisco, Dillon, and Silverthorne has become heading for Kremming. CO 9 follows the Blue River here. The last time I was here, the mess more or less ended at the light at the intersection. Now it extends up the canyon for a few miles. And the road has been proved up to the max and most of the fun parts cut-and-filled and straightened out for a good way up the canyon. Still a great ride, tho.

From Kremming I take US 40 toward Granby with the objective being Bethoud Pass ( 11,315 ft ) out of Winter Park. It seems that all the Ski Resorts have grown to be enormous and ugly cities. This is a great pass ride; it’s a long way up. The road has been made into a three-laner, more or less. But the surface is getting to be pretty bad. It remains very cool up here above the snow line. I’m wearing my aviator scarf to help keep the chill off. And it looks way cool, too.

I ride down the other side of the pass to Idaho Springs, another beaten down former mining town. I probably should start looking for a motel, but it’s kind of early, so I decide to continue on.

The next objective road is CO 119. I’ve not been on this ride before. And it turns out that Central City is another one of those places in which gaming, née gambling, is allowed. There’s a Central City Parkway now. A brand new four-laner with enormous cuts and fills. Enormous. Built solely to get the gamers to and from the town. I wonder how much the good citizens of Colorado paid for this thing.

The countryside around Central City is much like that around Cripple Creek. Beautiful. I could stay here because I’m sure there are a large number of empty rooms. But this gaming environment has absolutely nothing to offer for me. I’m guessing there won’t be other rooms between here and Boulder. So it goes.

Soon the road is riding across the ridge lines for a long way until it starts down the Boulder River Canyon past Eldora. Lots of camps up here. The canyon is narrow and very twisty and the traffic is heavy, so it’s somewhat of a chore, but beautiful nonetheless. I’ve seen lots of authorities on patrol all through Colorado and many pull overs to collect fees. So it is in this canyon, too. Driving awards we call them when there are appropriately earned.

I end up in the middle of Boulder and lots of traffic, but manage to find a cheap motel. When I check the Maps app, I discover that I’m only about 12 miles straight up the road to where my business is to be conducted.

It’s been a long day, but two big passes and miles and miles and smiles all day.

June 4, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | 1 Comment

Friday June 4, Boulder CO to Walden CO

Boulder is a beautiful place. More correctly, the surroundings of Boulder are beautiful. It is very evident how the town got its name.

I left Boulder on CO 36 heading North to take care of some business. Following completion of my assigned tasks, I took US 287 farther North to connect with the first objective road for the day. If you have a more detailed map than mine, you should be able to bypass almost all of 287. It wasn’t really bad except for Fort Collins.

The objective road is CO 14 through the Poudre River Canyon. I have been on this road only one time before and that was way back in the 1980s. That would have been on one of my first moto tours of Colorado and for some reason I entered the state by way of Walden. If I recall correctly, I continued on to Estes Park and there were no motel rooms available. I had to ride down Big Thompson Canyon in the growing dusk to get a place in Loveland.

That first ride made a lasting impression because the road has been on my To-Do list for a long time. The ride down Big Thompson also made an impression. I don’t know what has taken so long, except that the road is kind of out of the way. On the Eastern end there’s nothing but big city and lots of people. On the Northern side there’s nothing because that’s Wyoming.

Well, my memories did not do the ride justice. This might be the number one ride so far. And that’s saying a lot if I recall previous entries of this journal. The canyon is beautiful. Tight, twisty and very narrow in places. Wider and open and valley-like in other places. The tight and narrow parts are classic Western Canyon with just barely enough room for the river and the road. In other Western Canyons, the tight and narrow places include the railroad. I’m certain that the river grade was modified when these things were built.

The river is quite large for most of the distance and easily becomes a part of the journey. The road varies from narrow to kind of wide and the surface varies between smooth to rough. All in all tho, very ridable. Some sections have been proved up to the max; very wide, very smooth, wide shoulders. It looks like upgrading the road is on Colorado’s to do list. Near the top of the pass, as usual, the conditions are less than perfect.

The outstanding part of the canyon is from the intersection of CO 14 with US 287 West to the top of Cameron Pass ( 10,276 ft ). Simply wonderful. Just ride it !

Eventually, as you always do out here, you come to the immense valleys and straight and flat roads. Many time with a big wind that is not a tail wind. That’s what CO 14 does as it drops off the pass and makes its way to Walden. Mary and I were here back in 2004 on our way to Steamboat Springs. So I decided to stay here in this very quite place. Another one of those towns that has seen much better days when mining and limber were big business. Oil might make a come back if the fall out from the recent troubles in The Gulf are significant. Walden must be the last un-discovered place in Colorado. Huge ranches. No gated communities in sight. No MacMansions on the ridge lines. There’s not a single national franchise here.

The place I’m staying in has been significantly upgraded by a guy who is extremely optimistic about the possibilities for Walden. He is also very Biker Friendly. If you have any money left in your 200.5 ( K ) a Subway would likely be a money maker. Or an ice cream place.

A most excellent moto road touring day.

ps

Met three Beemer riders here from Missouri and chatted with them for a bit. They trailered their bikes from Missouri to Steamboat Springs. One said that they had ridden across The Great Flats Barrier one time, and they don’t intend to do it again. Hell, Mary has made that trip three or four times.

Shameful.

June 4, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | 1 Comment

Wednesday June 2, Canon City CO to Salida CO

Yet another perfect day in Biker Trash Paradise. I’ve ridden these parts only one time before and that was many years ago. I have found some new roads, very likely these were not paved when I was here back then.

I left Canon City on Big Road US 50 West with the objective road being CO 9. I’m not sure I’ve been on this road. It’s a fine two-laner that heads directly into the boonies. Another back road to be explored.

The ride out to the intersection is very good even if it is a Big Road.

Not long after I get on the road I spot a sign that points to an even littler thin- line road. A Fremont County road, 11. That guy Fremont really got around out here in the West USA. This is another jewel. The sign says the road will take me to Cripple Creek. I see on the Real Time Moto Road Trip Planer that the place is really deep in the boonies. There’s a road off US 24, CO 67, that goes to Cripple Creek. I guess my map is not up to date.

Now we’re riding a true Biker Trash Paradise road. Beautiful country side and a twisty road with a pretty good surface. The road wanders through valleys and over mountain ridges. There are a few ranches out here, but not many.

I pass other small roads that intersect this one, but not a clue about where they go to. Maybe some other time. Lots and lots of dirt roads, too. Those people who do it on dirt would be in Do It On Dirt Paradise. It has been my observation that these dirt roads almost always go up into the really high country. Probably some can’t be beat long views from up there.

As I approach Cripple Creek I start to see MacMansion type hobby ranches for the idle rich. Every place in Colorado has been discovered.

Cripple Creek is a famous ole West mining location and town. The State of Colorado has allowed gaming ( née gambling ) to be legal in several of these old historical towns. This place has been completely converted to gaming. I don’t know how many casinos are here, but it’s a bunch. And while many of the old buildings have been retained, there are also many new structures.

I don’t know how this is working out for Colorado, and Mississippi when I was back there. But it is clear that very large numbers of people were expected to show up because of the massive areas covered by parking lots.

Cripple Creek is located right in the middle of high mountains. It’s a beautiful setting. Pike’s Peak is one of those mountains and I stopped to take a picture. The road on the mountain is still above the snow line, so I won’t be riding up there today.

It’s still very cool up here, mid 50s F to low 60s.

CO 67 is the established road to Cripple Creek. A wide two-laner, kind of rough in spots, mostly wide sweepers, especially as the bottom is approached. A very good ride, nonetheless.

CO 67 hits US 24 at Divide. Heading West the roads starts to drop down out of the high country. Soon we’re at the Western edge of an immense valley. I know I’ve used immense several times, but this time I’m talking immense. Maybe 15 miles East of Hartsel the valley is bounded by maybe 9000 foot mountains, and bounded on the West by 14,000 foot mountains. And they are on the entire horizon from South to North. Still topped with a little snow. Amazing!!

Can’t get a good photo of these very large scale landscapes. I’ve try for years and years.

The ranches in the valley, very likely actual working ranches, must be measured in square miles.

Out of Hartsel, US 24 continues downhill to intersect US 285. US 285 South of Buena Vista goes over Trout Creek Pass to reach this valley in which Salida is located. The Collegiate Range mountains are on your right as you come down the valley. Another spectacular sight.

A day filled with spectacular sights. Biker Trash Paradise.

I’m thinking that tomorrow I’ll go back to CO 9 and finish that ride northward. And continue North toward I-70. So long as no tiny-line road temps me.

I’ve been through Salida several times. Mary and I were here in 2004, or maybe 2006. Salida has been discovered. There’s a super Wal Mart here now. That’ll do in any remaining local businesses. I think there are no places left in Colorado that haven’t been discovered. Cripple Creek might be the next, shudder, Aspen or Telluride or Vail or . . . An uncountable number of Gated Communities are in Colorado’s future.

June 2, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | Leave a comment

Tuesday June 1, Monte Vista CO to Canon City CO

Another glorious day moto road touring in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.

I have found a gold mine of wonderful roads and scenery here in the Southeastern corner of Colorado. West if I-25, of course. I-25 forms the Western boundary of The Great Flats Barrier, and you don’t cross over the boundary until you’re ready to accept the challenge and conquer The Flats once again.

I left Monte Vista on the big road US 160 heading East. The first objective road for today was CO 12 which runs by the Western edge of the Spanish Peaks mountains. And there are lots of mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation around these parts. US 160 gets to be very nice East of Fort Garland, especially over La Veta pass, and almost to the intersection with CO 12.

I rode CO 12 to Trinidad. What a beautiful ride and a great road. I have some photos, maybe one of them is good enough to share. The best place to stop was at Cucharas Pass, and that’s what I did. I startled a coyote when I walked off the road to take some photos.

As usual in these parts, if you leave the hot flat straight-roads semi-arid plain and go up into the cool twisty road mountains, you’ll have to come down again. So I did. But it was a great ride and beautiful scenery up there. And much cooler, too. About 10 F cooler than on the plains.

I had to take the dreaded I-State to get to the next road objective, CO 69 out of Walsenburg. I’ve been on this road one time before while I worked at Los Alamos. I recall that it’s another wonder ride and plan on checking it out.

Maybe half the road to Westcliffe, the Eastern end of the road, goes through a very wide valley. It windy here this afternoon, but not stop-riding bad. Past Gardner the road starts to run parallel to the Sangre de Cristo mountains. The road is up on the slope of the Eastern side of the valley and the mountains form the Western side of the valley. It a beautiful sight for miles and miles and miles and smiles. Probably for 15 to 20 miles beyond where I turn off to check out CO 96.

Almost right out of Westcliffe, CO 96 starts to head down out of the high valley. And not long after that the road is in a very narrow, twisty canyon. Wonderful riding. Later the road runs through the Wet Mountains. And soon after that the temperature starts to increase and all too soon, it’s 22 F higher here than when I left Westcliffe and ultimately here in Canon City the temperature is 25 F higher. Hard to believe.

What a great moto road touring day.

There are a couple other roads that I’ll try to get to starting tomorrow.

June 1, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | Leave a comment

Sunday May 30, Dolores Co to Pagosa Springs CO

What a glorious day !!

Clear blue cloudless sky, cool high mountain air, gentle tail wind, spectacular scenery. There’s nothing more you can ask for.

Spent the morning on Mesa Verde and then rode over here to Pagosa Springs.

Another beautiful day.

Sometimes life throws big headwinds at you, trying to convince you that you’re going the wrong way. Tailwinds, on the the other hand, push you the way you’re going making it very easy to keep going and doing what you’re doing.

May 30, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | 1 Comment

Saturday May 29, Moab UT to Dolores CO

A great day. All three-star roads. River canyons. High mesas. High mountain passes. It still very cool at those high places. And kind of cool all day.

Returned back toward Cortez on UT 46 / CO 90. No wind this morning, so I made up for the ride into Moab. The road surface rates good to very good, some rough sections, some smooth sections. Lots of sweeper curves and some tight twisties. But you still have to get from the State Line to Naturita by way of Paradox, Bedrock, and Delightfully Descriptively Designated Desperation Valley.

At Naturtia I had to decide between CO 145 to Dolores and CO 141 to Gateway. Tough decision. So, I decide to do both. I would go to Gateway and turn around back to Naturtia and then take CO 145 to Dolores. A most excellent decision. Made for a perfect day in Biker Trash Paradise.

You have to see this countryside, I can’t begin to give it justice. CO 141 runs along the Dolores River to Gateway and then up to the top of the canyon to meet US 550 just South of Grand Junction. A wonderful ride in a river canyon with multi-colored walls. Riding down into the canyon bottom is a trip back geologic time. I don’t know the names of the epochs, but each one occupied huge chunks of time. Plus, you can see the same compositions and colors of the rocks in different canyons.

CO 145 from Naturita first heads up to the top of a high mesa and then at Norwood goes down to the San Miguel River and then goes upstream to the head waters of that stream up in the Telluride Canyon. Another beautiful ride in a somewhat narrow valley.

Out of Telluride, I don’t go to Telluride anymore, the road goes way high to Lizard Head Pass. Very cool way up here, but beautiful. And then a very long downhill run to close to Dolores. The valley is beautiful after the road leaves the canyon.

May 29, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | Leave a comment

Friday May 28, Around Moab

Rode around Moab today. Started the day by riding along the Colorado River on UT 128. Down near Moab, the canyon is kind of narrow. As the road approaches the upper reaches of the canyon, beautiful big valleys are there. Bright green crops growing in these valleys. So are high-end frou-frou resorts / spas. I’m sure the last one that I putt-putted through belongs to the class, If you have to ask the prices, you probably can’t afford it. Sorrel Creek I recall the name to be.

Eventually the road moves out of the canyon and valleys and tops the high dry semi-arid plain. I haven’t been watching the miles so closely. And I see a thin-line road that parallels the I-State chunk that’s required to get back to Moab. It’s very very windy. I finally reach the intersection with the I-State and cross it to check the parallel road. A sign says, State maintenance ends. I give it a try anyway and soon enough the road surface disappears into a mess of rock, dirt, and chunks of asphalt.

Have to go back and use the interstate.

Should have gone all the way back to UT 128.

When I get back to Moab, I ride into Monument National Park and putt-putt around taking in some of the sights.

A quite day checking out Southeastern Utah.

May 29, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | Leave a comment

Thursday May 27, Cortez CO to Moab UT

Left Cortez on US 491, a very big road, with the objective road being CO 90 / UT 46, and Moab Utah. The only part of the route to look forward to being West of Paradox CO. Even the thin-line roads around these parts are mostly straight and flat. And windy. Very straight, very flat, very windy. Check your maps to find the straight sections.

Not much to note except to say that the immense depression in which Bedrock and Paradox are located is a sight to behold. It’s a valley that seems to be closed in all round, but somehow the Dolores River manages to flow across the valley. In fact, I have not yet figured out the Dolores River and how it makes its way among these high mesas and mountains. This is the same river that flows through the valley on CO 141, where Gateway is located, and down to the town of Dolores in CO.

I stopped in Dove Creek UT for brunch at Deb’s Diner The first two road cafe rules were true, but the food didn’t make the cut. Can’t win them all, I guess.

After finally getting to the good road past Paradox, at which the road leaves the valley and starts to climb over the ridges and into the next valley, I ran into The Big Wind. Mighty Big. You don’t want to be hit with a Big Wind from the left when you’re leaned way over into a tight right-hand curve. The wind is especially bad at the tops of the canyons just as you start down the over side of a ridge. It’s been funneled up the canyon and is really hard.

As I’m putt-putting along, I can see the high peaks of a small mountain group in Utah. I noticed that only a very few clumps of Aspen have just started to get a few small leaves. Not long thereafter I was up at that altitude on UT 46, and it’s nice and cool up here. The Springline is still kind of low in these parts.

Soon enough, the roads starts to move down to the altitude of Maob, and it starts to get very hot, and it is still windy. I cruise through town eyeballing the motels and finally settled for the place that Mary and I stayed in 2004. This weekend is the official start for Summer and all the rooms in all the motels at the well-known destinations will have already been taken. It’s a problem for those who accept the journey to be the destination. No destinations, no reservations. The place is still well run and clean, with a grill and a covered space with tables. I’ll have my dinner out here.

Not one of the better days in Biker Trash Paradise. But then, any day on a moto is a very good day. The good tiny-line roads only make it a perfect day.

May 28, 2010 Posted by | moto touring | | Leave a comment