Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

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Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by Dr. Strangelove »

VINCENT
So if you're quitting the life, what'll you do?

JULES
That's what I've been sitting here contemplating.
First, I'm gonna deliver this case to Marsellus.
Then, basically, I'm gonna walk the earth.

VINCENT
What do you mean, walk the earth?

JULES
You know, like Caine in "KUNG FU."
Just walk from town to town, meet people, get in adventures.

VINCENT
How long do you intend to walk the earth?

JULES
Until God puts me where he want me to be.

VINCENT
What if he never does?

JULES
If it takes forever, I'll wait forever.

VINCENT
So you decided to be a bum?

JULES
I'll just be Jules, Vincent – no more, no less.


There are those who ask, “Mary Anne or Ginger?” or “Bert or Ernie?” But, I ask, “Jules or Vincent?”

This dialogue exposes the conflict between those who do solo rides and those who cannot understand the appeal. The gulf is broad and only rarely is bridged.

Jules continues, ” I was just sitting here drinking my coffee, eating my muffin, playin' the incident in my head, when I had what alcoholics refer to as a "moment of clarity."

A moment of clarity, we’ve all had them, when suddenly answers fall from the sky, perplexity is simplified and the way is clear. Moments of clarity come at the most unexpected times, but mostly when one is alone doing something mindless and repetitive, but the answers or the directions or the muse can be startling.

Mine came during the decision process involving a piece of real estate, but that’s not important. The important thing is that it came. And it directed me to undertake not one, but two solo journeys., something I had never attempted, something I always wanted to do, something that always had some very good reason to prevent it. But I knew, I realized, I saw that these two journeys were important enough to hurdle all the good reasons to avoid them.

I read ride reports from solo travelers and one thing unified their journeys:
a sense of purpose.

Their routes, their plans, their adventures differed, but their purpose, even if questioned along the way, was there. And that purpose was Adventure. Adventure as defined by Cook, Lewis and Clark, James T. Kirk, and Jules.

A plan arose. The second trip would be the big one, a Great American Ride, and the first no slouch, a shakedown ride to test myself and my preparations and to see if I knew what the hell I was talking about.

Colorado in late September would be the shakedown. Camping the preferred mode of lodging, and alone.

Ride reports of others were closely followed and an itinerary was made. Of course I knew that it would not be set in stone, but in order to serve as a guide, it was there.

Equipment and food purchases, bike readying, all done. People, the Vincents, of course, thought this was nuts.

Won’t you get lonely? No
Are you taking a gun? No.
How long are you going to be gone? As long as two weeks—wound up 15 days
Are you meeting anyone? No.
Why are you doing this? I am seeking clarity—quoting Jules, and I would get a “hunh?”

Fast forward—I don’t know if I found clarity (well, in one sense I did) but I find something else. And lost something also. You just never know how these things are going to turn out.

I think they really didn’t believe I would do it and, in truth, as the day drew closer I did become more anxious about the whole thing. My greatest fear was bears; that turned out to be a non issue.

Anyway the day grew nearer and nearer to departure and then was here.
D Day, Put up or shut up, time for the rubber to meet the road.
I left after work mid day Sept 20

Image


And my going away party


Image


Traveling across South Louisiana is the pits, but hey, it’s home and I had to get out. Unfortunately for me, as I was moving out the lovebugs were moving in from Texas.

I am responsible for the ignominious deaths of hundreds of the red eyed beasts. Lovebugs are pretty strange creatures, traveling in pairs, no shame, openly lustful, and when they finally met me it would turn out that they mated for life.


Image


Sorry for the lack of quality but this is my windscreen. The lovebugs seen congregated here seemed to be either mourning their dead or conspiring revenge. This was just outside of Opelousas, La. “Opelousas” is a Choctaw word which, roughly translated means “Get me the f--- out of here. I don’t like lovebugs and pass the Tabasco, please.” It was cloudy and gray, a good day for lovebugs to die and many, many died that day.

Beyond Opelousas is a town called Elton. Even the casual traveler though Elton must be puzzled by the seaminess of such a small town. One-Eyed Jacks—no minors; no weapons, and Neptune’s are the gathering places of who? There are 1261 souls in Elton. Are weapons really a problem? Elton is the kind of town where all signs are hand painted, poorly. Maybe Elton suffers by comparison to its more affluent neighbors, Eunice, and Opelousas, and Rayne, and Basile, and Kinder, all part of the Elton megalopolis. Maybe. But the lovebugs seemed to like it there. And they had no weapons.


A quick stop in Longville for gas and to try to clean off the carcasses and this conversation

Cashier: The lovebugs are bad
Me: they sure are!
Cashier: Did you eat any?
Me: (didn’t think of that and trying to give an honest thoughtful answer) No, but they fly up into my helmet and the feel like drops of water hitting my face!
Cashier: (grins and laughs) They say they’re worse in East Texas.
Me: Great. That’s where I am headed.

As it turns out they were not worse in East Texas, only just as bad.

Ok flash moment from work: On a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 is no pain and 10 is the worst pain you can imagine, how would you rate your pain. Almost invariably the answer is a 10—just an fyi, anything 8 and above involves an anvil. So on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is no lovebugs and 10 is so many that ACORN is registering them to vote, where would you rate the lovebugs—about a 7.

They were awful.
They smell.
Their acid black bodies eat painted surfaces and they are not small, about an inch or so when coupled. But their numbers were ending and my trip would continue.

I arrived in College Station to spend the night with a friend and it hit me.

I knew the major part of my diet for a while would be CLIF bars and Mary Jane Farms foods. I wanted red meat for the road.

Outside of College Station is a well-known steak house in Sommerville, Texas—not the place in Snook, Texas, famous for their Chicken Fried Bacon---the other one. Story goes that one is run by the husband and the other is run by his ex wife. But I digress.

We were finishing our rib-eyes (very good, no food pictures, get the garlic sauce) when an obviously biker couple strode in and sat down. All in leather, with fringe, my friend asked what they rode, as if we couldn’t guess.

That’s my Road King outside.

Oh, well I have a Sportster and I ride an ST 1300. My friend (me) has a BMW.

His eyes lit up and he said: Oh you can ride those cross country.

And I got to say, slowly and with a grin:
“That’s what I am doing,”
and, when I said that it really sunk in that I was actually doing that, riding cross country, solo.

Pride or hubris swelled.

And I also felt the bit of trepidation, the what ifs. But those, I realized are going to always be there. Get over it. And by the next morning I was really on my way, crossing the great state of Texas on backroads.

To be continued*********************************
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by Photoguy »

Great read...looking forward to the next installment!
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by Boxer »

Nice work Doc! I can't wait to see what happens in Texas. BTW, cute nurses! :mrgreen:
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by GypsyRR »

I'm following along. I'd like to see your route through Texas, if you are posting a map. Riding in Texas can be great. Riding THROUGH Texas can take a lifetime.

Looking forward to the rest of the report.
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by Dr. Strangelove »

Up before the crack of dawn and eager to get started, really started on the journey.
I had cleaned most of the lovebug residue from my bike and I packed again.

Packing is an intensely personal thing.

Any solo traveler knows this.

It is also something that evolves, to a point, no, to that point where it is “just right.” And, lucky for me, I achieved that on that morning of the second day.

I learned, for example, to have the rain suit readily available. I actually wore it to protect myself from the bugs, and it was easily cleaned.

The bike took a little more work. I know I am spending a lot of time on these critters, but they were that bad. In fact, on my way back I inquired about the lovebug situation from some fellow travelers and they told me that the infestation had moved eastward and was now in Mississippi. That was welcomed news.


So, on the road.

I had received a route from a fellow traveler.

It meandered across Texas from College Station to Abilene to Amarillo and it was terrific.

Meandering … is that something that is uniquely Texan? I meander, you meander, he, she, it meanders, anyway…

A fairly simple route, really, that took Texas 36 up as far as Comanche and then swung left up to I 20 into Abeline.

Sleepy little towns, ranches, and pasture land. Towns dying and towns nearly dead, but thoughtful roads that allowed one’s mind to wander and the miles to roll on.

Meandering is good for the soul, in fact, to paraphrase the bard, meandering knits the raveled sleeve of the soul.

Beyond Abilene there was not much. “Starkly beautiful” would be the description in the travel brochures, if such brochures existed, but they don’t. This is profoundly monotonous territory. Windswept plains with no texture. It was here that one of the few mishaps of the ride occurred.

I was on US 83. 4 lane, grassy median, 18 wheelers.
Windy, and everyone going 80+mph.

Afternoon sun burning my left cheek, listening to my tunes, on autopilot, when out of nowhere came a rogue gust of wind.

At first I thought that somehow the cord of my Etymotic ear buds had tangled and pulled because I felt a sudden YANK on the cord, almost pulling them from my ears.

And the sound stopped.

Looking down I saw the bare miniphone plug, no longer attached to my iPod. It was gone. Kaput, Finis, Termine.

I turned around and went in search of the lost iPod and I did find the case that previously held it. The case, leather with a plastic clip, was empty and the plastic clip shattered.
But, the silver and black 8 gig Nano was nowhere to be found. Really bummed, partly because I lost my tunes—though I had the capability of recreating the music on the trip; but, mainly because it had been a special and very thoughtful gift.

Ride on, keep moving, be more careful, think about replacing it. I realized that neither the iPod nor its contained music was the purpose of this ride and some clarity was found in that loss. Though it was a painful sort of lesson, a lesson still.

And I rode on.

This was to be my first night camping. I am pretty much a novice with this camping thing, but I had some good teachers and I sort of soaked up the unscripted methods of efficiency they showed when I camped with them a few months earlier. After all, it is not rocket science. I had it planned out, I was going to go to the KOA campground north east of Amarillo, but when I got there I discovered a dirty secret of camping.


Dirty Secret #1

Some campsites really suck.

There were three campsites in Amarillo, but only one seemed remotely pastoral or interesting.

Wrong. None were remotely pastoral. None were interesting.

It is sometimes a little difficult to get good information on campgrounds. And, absent the recommendations of members of this and other boards, it can be difficult to plan ahead for a particular destination's overnight stay.

I happened to have the AAA book and the chosen one in Amarillo sounded ok, but upon arrival the “site” looked like a parking lot, was in a sort of industrial part of town—just beyond the prison (Texas has a lot of those) and was populated by RV after RV, stacked right next to each other.

Not appealing at all. And I found this to be the case sometimes. You come into an area and think the campground is going to be one thing, but it is another. It would be the Comfort Inn this evening and it was. I cooked in the room and met Mr Macallan’s 12 year old in a thin plastic cup, two cubes and a splash.

Always bring your own.


The next morning I had to take I 40 for about 100 miles into New Mexico, but it passed quickly and soon I was again in prairies and isolation

Image


Arriving in New Mexico did not present a vastly different picture than Texas, but it was a real psychological lift.

No one for miles. Distant horizons in all directions.


Image


And then getting into high plains

Image



I was chasing the daytime moon.

Image


Roads stretched until the sides converged in the way way distance. Straight as an arrow in many places, it was me and grasses and earth and sky and my motorcycle.

Image



Tempting as it was I did not see what she could do.

Who am I kidding?

Well, of course I am lying, yes I did .

You’ve all been there, but this was ideal, a Sunday morning, an empty road and the urge.

I slowed after arriving well into 3 digits with more than a quarter of a turn of the throttle still to go; heart pumping, peripheral vision a blur, rigidly focused on the future road that so quickly became the past road, excitement builds and then you have enough or don’t want anymore, or just plain come to your senses and the throttle is released gradually and 90 looks sooo slooow.

It is almost like a time warp, so much distance in so little time. Scotty brought in the warp drive and di-lithium crystals yet another time for my traveling pleasure, my need for speed, to placate the testosterone storm. Storm. Storm. Another was brewing. I looked ahead and saw this to the WSW.


Image



I pulled up my compass and my map and could it be that I was headed that way? A few more miles up the road and it was confirmed, yes. I am heading right that way. I noticed the massive thunderhead, but didn’t notice that tall tall updraft that you can see in the photo. This was a mother of a storm and I had no where to go. The energy in that updraft must have been phenomenal. That must be a mother of a storm.

Still not 100% sure I was going to head into it I stopped to take a picture of myself (complete with goofy grin) and some cattle.


Image



I did this for two reasons. I wanted a picture of me and “cows” for my two 3 yo grand daughters, and I put on my rain jacket.

I wasn’t committed to getting wet so I did not put on the rain pants


Dirty Secret #2

If you’re going to put on the rain jacket, put on the rain pants, too.

Commit to the rain.

It is far far far better to needlessly put on the pants than it is to deal with a cold soaking rain on your legs.

Live and learn.

Look over my shoulder… see the big gray monster looming there? When I looked ahead, I thought I saw my road going between the rainfall.

Wrong.

Within 10 minutes of this picture I was in lightening and ice. I don’t know if it was hail or sleet. But I heard “things” hitting my helmet and saw fallen ice on my sleeves. I also saw big bolts of lightening to both the right and left of me, striking the ground.

Really pretty scary stuff, but there was nothing to do. I know one should not ride in such weather, but there was no shelter whatsoever so I figured it was just as safe or as dangerous to just keep going and that is what I did. I passed through the storm and got to the other side of it. No lightening strikes, no need to change underwear, but a pair of very wet pants, that in the arid New Mexico air dried pretty quickly.

The other side of the storm

Image


And then I was arriving in Colorado. Two days after leaving Mandeville, Louisiana I was at my destination and it felt real good.

I knew the adventure was still just beginning, and I still had a bit of trepidation about the whole thing, but the solo rider finds that with each mile farther along, confidence builds that much more.

That is a common realization of solo riders and it is something that cannot be taught, it can only be experienced and relished for the accomplishment that it truly is.

Different people put it different ways, but the visceral response is probably much the same for all who get this far. A smile stretches across your lips and you hear yourself say “YEAAAHHH!”

And the angels sing beautiful music just for you.

This happened to me a few times on the trip.

Each time it was the same good feeling and each time it was different because of the set of circumstances that promoted it.

Sometimes the smile was not broad, but more subdued; sometimes the exclamation was whispered or even just thought or sometimes just so spiritual that words did not accompany the feeling, yet the feeling was just as rich.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think one could live their whole life and not ever have that moment outside of a solo journey.

Is it tasting your courage?

Is it seeing or feeling your efforts succeed?

Whatever it is it feels damn good.

To be continued
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by Sunbeemer »

Inspiring =D> =D> I'm looking forward to your next installment while starting to plan my solo journey. :)
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by Dr. Strangelove »

Yes, Rich, do it...but you have to get out from Fl and go through Tx--lots of time for "inspiration." There was a bond that occurred when another traveler was passed along the road. I always noticed who was just out riding and those with packs and bags. Not that there was anything less with a joy ride, but there was something more with the journey (a way overused word, there must be something better...Odyssey?)

thanks

next installment Wed pm, I think.

John
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by Entropyd »

Great narrative...but what the hell are you doing with a picture of my wife?????????
(That would be nurse "B" of the cohort)....rhetorically asked. Seriously, I'm riding / living vicariously just reading your script (merci' for the free ride).

A thought comes to mind (C/O Donald Fagan):

You maybe got lucky for a few good years
But there's no way back from there to here
He's a one way rider
On the shriek express
And his new best friend is at the throttle more or less

(my read: it's a good a thing...not everyone gets to go there)
;)

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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by GypsyRR »

I'm enjoying your report. It brings back memories quickly fading from my own trip through that area last summer. I understand about those NM storms. I saw them all the way through my third and fourth trek across that state in July and August. It must have been an unusually high year of precipitation for them. Keep writing.
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by Dr. Strangelove »

I took I 25 as far as Trinidad, Colorado where I met up with Co 12 for the first time. I would meet it again later in the trip.

I took 12 to make a big loop to US 160 and then to Lathrop State Park near Wahlsenburg.

12 was wonderful. It was the first time of many on this ride that I thought I had come upon my favorite motorcycle road of all time. Before I got into it though I looked ahead and saw clouds on the distant mountain tops.

Image


Remembering my rain experience from earlier in the day, this time when I stopped I put on the complete rain suit. I can learn, I can learn.

The ride on 12 was just an appetizer for the rest of my stay in Colorado, but it was tasty indeed. Twists, sweeps, elevation changes, my first sightings of golden aspen made for a delightful ride.

Image


I arrived at Lathrop State Park late in the afternoon and this would be my first camping experience. I discovered what a hassle it is to set up camp with a stiff breeze. But, camp was set and I rewarded myself with some of Mr Macallan’s 12 year old in a Mardi Gras go-cup as I watched the sunset.

Image


Image


It was very rewarding. Mr Macallan and Mary Jane’s food never went better together.


The wind howled that night, but I was comfortable. In fact, I found that I was very comfortable in the tent with my sleeping pad and bag. When camping, typically when the sun set I did also. Not bad. It had been a long day and recognizing the adventure was well underway, I slept well.

I heard coyotes for the first time that evening.

Coyotes and wailing winds in a isolated state park go well together. The cries of the coyotes was at once thrilling and a little scary, but mostly exciting. They were far enough away that this city boy did not think they were planning a raid on my site, but close enough that I could hear their cries so clearly that they sounded like eerie laughter. And the wind continued to shake the rain flaps and the walls of the tent.

I could easily see the Milky Way through the tent’s plastic window. I could feel the cold wind slide under the rain flap and chill the interior a bit just by its contact.
It was so dark and it was so fine.


I awoke the next morning…whenever.

Dirty Secret #3

Time means less and less on such travels.


I had much of the trip planned. I knew where I wanted to go, certain roads, certain sights, but when it came down to it those things were going to happen in their own good time. The only way that time was kept was by the sun. When the sun was up, I did stuff. As the sun was going down I prepared for the evening. When the sun was down, I was in the tent. Probably similar to the way early man did it. I had a clock on my dash, right in front of me, so I saw the time, but it truly only gave me a rough idea how much daylight remained in the day.


I think, and it seems to be common among those who solo travel, that there are two times in the day: daytime and night time. You take advantage of both, but to divide that daytime into 12 or 10 equal segments breaks up the sense of adventure, the sense of going somewhere the sense of being a part of something huge.

I am reminded of a recent description of “second lining” I read in my hometown paper and how much it sounded like the lure, the hook, the delight of the traveler on his or her own:

The impulse is freedom and it comes from the heart. We all have an internal rhythm that does not depend on your consciousness…It’s spiritual in its motivation and religious in its form. There is a loose, fluid, symbolic organization to it all, and when you are out there parading under an open sky, you are connected to the universe in a very special way.


Sound familiar?

Leaving Lathrop I headed north.

The impulse is freedom and it comes from the heart.


To be continued
Last edited by Dr. Strangelove on Fri Nov 07, 2008 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by Dr. Strangelove »

Highways 69 and 9 run along broad valleys. Green and tan and blue and white were the colors of the day. Do whatever you want on these roads and they are forgiving. Not much traffic, fresh air, beautiful clouds and what had become a relative companion—storm clouds on one horizon or another.

Image
Image
Image




But, today would be dry, though ominous clouds to the west ruled out Great Sand Dunes as a waypoint. I did a big loop and eventually headed back south and then west on US 50.

Image

Image





It was on US 50 that I would happen upon my first pass, Monarch Pass and the second mishap of the trip.





and looking smug just before...

Image


I was a little surprised and pleased how well the R1150R performed in the thinning mountain air. No decrease in power at all. I guess the fuel injection system compensates for the decreased oxygen content of the air. I also wondered if by using a lower octane gas if that made the firing in the cylinders easier? Maybe someone more knowledgeable than me would address that, but I had been a little concerened about how the bike would perform at high altitudes and the short answer is:
Just Fine.

So I stop at the sign at the peak of Monarch Pass and that the prerequisite photos. I help others with photos and I tell them that this is 11,320 feet higher than my home, New Orleans being mostly at or below sea level. I get ready to leave. I swing my leg over the seat and that little bit of weight on the right side of the bike causes her to crash over to the right, landing on the right jug, my helmet and the right side case. Bags loosen and I just look at the fallen warrior. Now, this is a relatively heavy bike, about 525# unladen. But with the luggage on her, probably closer to 600# or put another way, about as heavy as a console piano.


As I am standing there looking at what I did I hear a voice behind me,” I was riding past and I looked over and I thought,’That looks like a guy that could use some help,’ so I stopped.”
I look over and I see a guy, a big guy, who looks like a healthy version of a member of ZZ Top. He tells me he has a Harley and knows how heavy these things are and how hard they are to right when they go over. I readily agreed and we got her upright and after sincere thanks, I was again on my way.


To Be Continued
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by GypsyRR »

I WAS THERE!!!! But no picture. I'm looking forward to the rest of the report. I'm missing the roads I traveled this summer. Keep 'em coming.

glad there was someone there to help with the bike lift.
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by Dr. Strangelove »

One of the really nice things about this trip was how nice and ready to help were the people I met along the way. This was in every state, too. I would be stopped on the side of the road, taking a break, just chillaxin, or having a Clif bar, and often someone would stop to make sure I was ok. I always was, but it was a very nice surprise to experience it. Sometimes they were old, sometimes female, but always with a “Are you ok?”


Before the trip I was considering should I travel armed. There were definitely pros and cons and most certainly one trip does not a complete answer give, but I will say that for this journey never did I feel the need for any weapon at all. In fact, the only thing close to a weapon I had was a signal air horn. I kept it on the bike while riding to alert wildlife I was coming through and I kept it in the tent at night to at least annoy any wildlife that considered me enemy or food. That animal would have to put up with over 130 decibels to deal with me, but it was just not needed.

I also thought that a gun would have been very hard to pack in any useful way. If one needs a weapon, you do not have time to get it out of a sidecase, a topcase, or a duffel bag. On the next ride I will still consider bringing one, but this was an experience that called into question its utility.


So, I head west on US 50 heading for the south rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a truly amazing landscape. So narrow and so deep. There are some places where a baseball player with a good arm could throw a baseball across. Big deal, it’s narrow in some places, but this mother is deep also…very deep. Ranging in depth from 1750 feet to 2700feet.

Sunlight infrequently illuminates it so it is in shadow much of the time. Couple that with the dark brown of the canyon walls and one can see how aptly it is named.

Image

Some have described gazing upon it as a semi-religious experience. I did not feel that (there were other places where I did). But it was very impressive and it was one of those scenes that really grew on you. It was very easy on the eyes and traveling along it yielded different views. But, that evening I camped on the south rim and it was a rush to get camp set up before nightfall. Cold and windy again, but again comfortable within the tent and sleeping bag. I remember two things, well three things if you count the Macallan’s, yes, three things, how can one not count the Macallan’s. The other two were again hearing the coyotes laughing and crying far away and seeming ageless; and the other was seeing the Milky Way yet again through the plastic window of the rainfly directly over my head.


Man, that is nice and it is something that if not personally experienced, no amount of words can adequately describe it. So often on this excursion I felt separate from what and who I am, but never apart from this world I was in. Always intimate with it. Another reality. And one ripe for exploration and giving in beauties and teasing in answers to questions yet to be asked.


Dawn broke very cold. I fired up the JetBoil and made my morning ritual of oatmeal and Luzianne coffee from home. I suppose I will get better at it, but breaking down camp and getting it loaded on the bike always took about an hour. And then I was on my way. I needed gas and the closest was 10 miles away in Montrose, where I would discover a fine little diner, having decided to eat an early lunch and light at supper.

The diner was JoJo's Windmill restaurant. Lots of truckers wearing ball caps, loud conversations and so many varieties of omelettes. All in all a very nice place to stop. There will be no food pictures (but the obligatory shadow picture is coming).

Heading out from there I headed back east on US 50 to Co 92, a great road that borders the north, and less traveled area of the Black Canyon. Definitely a must ride for anyone in the area. The following are images from mostly the north rim along 92. The canyon was on the left and the mountains were on the right.

Just friggin sublime.

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At Aspen Trails Campground in Cedaredge--a good staging area for day trips, ready for Co 12 and 133 tomorrow
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to be continued
Last edited by Dr. Strangelove on Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by GypsyRR »

You did much better photographing the Black Canyon than I did. Did you go inside the park too? It was there that the canyon 'spoke' wisdom to me. Along 92, I was just trying to stay ahead of a pack of Harleys, which wasn't that hard to do if I kept riding, but I wanted to stop for pictures too. It's pretty neat seeing your photos at the edge of Autumn golds after I had been there in the height of summer greens.
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by Dr. Strangelove »

I really didn't do much on the south rim. It was much more developed there and all I did was check out the view, looking for water, and then camped. I was up early the next morning and after JoJo's went to 92 and it was awesome. There is a ranger station on the north rim that was deserted and I road the rim road--that mix of mud and gravel for a few miles to the left, I suppose that's east. It was pretty amazing and scary too because there were NO guard rails--that fence was at a viewing station, and I found Colorado gravel roads much slipperier that eastern gravel roads for some reason. Typically the gravel was granite, maybe that makes a difference?

Anyway I had 92 and the north rim to myself. For much of the shots I used a 20mm lens from my slr that on a dslr is probably like a 28mm. On 92 it was empty enough that I'd see a picture and turn around to go back to get it. There was very little traffic.

but thanks for the comps. The color was really just beginning and I really found it starting the next day which will come tomorrow, I hope.

John

PS it was there that I found my exclamation was a pretty obscene exclamation of two words, the first being the appellation of the maternal unit. This is NOT a comment I use AT ALL, but it--the scenes-- arrested me that much. I realized how totally inappropriate that was and switched to "spectacular" and that was good for a couple of days then that wore thin, but I knew of no other word to use. I didn't pack the thesaurus. Next time...
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by bruno71 »

Doc,
You have given us some great photographs and a compelling description of your adventure(s). I'm looking forward to seeing and reading more of your trip. =D> Like you, I've never felt it necessary to carry a gun on my bike, but I think you said it just right when you suggested that one set of experiences do not account for the totality of individuals or situations. I sense in your narrative tone the thing that frustrates me the most when I put together one of these ride reports; the pictures and words never do justice to what I saw and experienced. However, I'm glad you didn't let that hold you back. Thanks for an exceptional report.

-Damon
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by Dr. Strangelove »

Hi, Damon

Thanks for the kind words. there is much more coming...did a major service this weekend and didn't have time to post, but more will be up this evening

John
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by Dr. Strangelove »

It was at JoJo’s Windmill Restaurant in Montrose where there was a bit of drama between a mother and a daughter.

When you’re on the road as I was, there is little conversation. Most days I would maybe say only a few sentences. I’d run into that few a number of people.

As it happens, when your mouth isn’t working, your ears pick up the slack.

On a solo ride the most frequently heard thing is silence. Stopping on the side of the road, stretching your legs, even the wind, when present is muted.

Silence reigns.

Now, if you’re stopped for a while and really listen, you can hear your heart beat. You rub your foot on the earth to hear the crunch, you hear the sound of the wrapper coming off the CLIF bar, you hear the legs of your pants rub. Distant horses whisper, butterflies tumble through the air brightly, but without report. A bee may buzz, or may not. And you hear all of the nothing to hear that becomes everything to hear. The silence is all there is.

So, I am sitting at a table in JoJo’s searching the menu.
I seek greasy fatted cholesterol and I find it in the form of the Gary Oldman Omelette.—not really Gary Oldman, but some other name that I can’t remember. Three eggs, bacon bits, salsa, green peppers, mushrooms, and general goodness. Country fried potatoes on the side complete the brunch. Actually I think brunch is outlawed in certain counties of Colorado. You can have breakfast or lunch, but not brunch.

Brunch is legal in Telluride and Ouray, but those places are much trendier than Montrose.


So, this attractive young blond takes my order and while I await the challenge to my coronary arteries, the selfsame young woman approaches a nearby table and says:
Ma, did you wipe this table?
Ma—not much older and also blond-- responds: Yes, I got it, then adds, “LaShondra, I can’t believe you were suspended; I just can’t believe it.”

LaShondra responds that she, too, can’t believe it, sets the table and retreats to the kitchen as I wonder, what could have LaShondra done to merit suspension in Montrose, Colorado. It had been a quiet few days for me, and speculation ran rampant, but just as I was approaching wondering about…. My food arrived.
And it was good. Again, there will be no pictures of food.


LaShondra’s grandmother, I think, checked me out at the register and it was $10.85 very well spent.

It was from there that I rode to Co92 and Black Canyon of the Gunnison

That afternoon I needed a campsite. I wanted one with a shower and water and electricity if possible. I looked around and found a place called Aspen Trails in Cedaredge. It had wireless internet. I thought I had struck gold.
I headed for it, but passed it twice because of Dirty Secret #1 mentioned a ways back: Some campsites suck.

This one looked like it did from the road, but it was the only game in town or in the surrounding area and it was a good location for day trips so I went in.

It was actually pretty nice, nice people ran the place and the tenting area was separate from the RV area, the part you could see from the road. It was in a cedar grove and I was the only tenter in the area. I would definitely recommend it.

The sights from this point on turned truly spectacular.

I rode up 133 and took Co12 over to Crusty Butt, I mean Crested Butte. I thought 12 had about 6 miles of gravel and dirt. Wrong.

It had 30 miles of gravel and rutted dirt and the prettiest, most colorful scenery of the trip so far.

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When I finally arrived in Crested Butte I had planned to head down 135 and make a big loop back to Cedaredge, but the CO DOT intervened. At 135 just south of town there was a line of cars and a flashing sign: Construction Ahead; Expect Delays.


Na-unh, buddy, not me, I do not want to “expect” delays, and even though that meant going back 30 miles of gravel, that is what I would do.


I remembered something GypsyRR said in her so well regarded report. She said that when you go back the same road in the Rockies the scenery is different because you’re seeing it from another point of view. So, that is what I did (thanks, Kristi).

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I got back to 133, had some time and headed north, got up as far as Carbondale and turned back. 133 travels along the Crystal River and it is very pretty and a great road, sweepers, vistas and very fast

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When I returned it was time for dinner and asking the owner of Aspen Trails for a good restaurant; What kind? Home cooking; oh, The Ole Bakery in town.
Again, another place I can definitely recommend. You can eat outside along a stream, or inside. The food is very good and inexpensive.

The next morning on my way out I stopped in the local tourist office because I neede a good map of Colorado, having lost mine the day before. Duh.

Great map obtained and the price was right: Free. I was on my way up Co 65, Grand Mesa, and onto Grand Junction where I would replace my ka-flouey iPod at a Circuit City.

To Be Continued
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by taosports »

=D>

Beautiful photos John!
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Re: Travels with Stella! A Speck in the Rockies

Post by wncbmw »

Doc - nice report and pictures!

And about the solo trip - I like riding with the right friends, I like riding roads at a brisk pace and I like just puzting around my old familiar loops.

But there is nothing better on two wheels than a trip to unknown territory with no company other than your bike and camping along the way! That is the ultimate of what motorcycling is for me.

And I don't get to do it nearly often enough! :( So I will live vicariously though your trip until I can hit the road again! ;)

I hope to take a trip to Colorado before the year is out!

Edited to add - I hope to make Colorado next year! Not too keen on riding in the snow! :roll:
Last edited by wncbmw on Tue Nov 11, 2008 7:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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