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Timmer's 14 day US trip report

14046 Views 24 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  Gunner71
We don't seem to do this much here but I see ride reports on other sites and almost always enjoy reading them, and since the guys who ride with me know that I typically take a bunch of photos I thought that I would give this a crack and share some of them... Another Warning: I'm gonna write this as a narrative in the Tom Wolfe journalistic style... so if you find this kind of stuff tedious.. skip this mess and read something useful.

My bike is an '05 1300C. I had been planning to take a couple of long rides this summer since work circumstances afforded me the opportunity to do so. This web board has been invaluable in learning what to add and what not to add to the bike. I have equipped the bike accordingly. You will see from my signature that I have a Mustang Seat, Garmin GPS, throttle lock, and an XM radio which plays into speakers in my helmet... I rode a little motocross as a kid and have always been big on wearing the safety equipment including a full face helmut and armored jacket. For luggage I took a foreign made (Chineese) leather soft bag and a couple of roll bags. This bag is available from several sources and I have seen a number of other folks with the same one. I got mine from Fox Creek.

I am big on gadgets and travel with a lap top and card reader. The lap top allows me to book reservations on the net and to plan routes with Garmin and Microsoft software and download the routes to my GPS... I do not typically carry any other maps... Prolly risky if I were going to a remote area but this summer it's just the good old continental USA. My camera is a little 5MP Kodak.. My younger daughter had bought one to take to College with her and I was impressed with the quality of photos that it took for the price. We have had show horses for years and have shot with Nikon equipment for publication. I think I have a good eye but my 16 year old son is better.
Had been wanting to do the Stuirgis Solitary trip since I saw that Hal had posted it on the board here. I had met a couple of guys who were going at the Coloradical and other places and generally enjoyed their company. So this ride became a top priority for me... I saw that Ed the Head was heading up with several guys from Florida and would be staying a couple of hours from where I live I PMed him and he graciously agreed to let me tag along.
I really enjoyed riding in Colorado over the 4th so I decided to tag along for part of Ed's trip through Colorado on the way home as well. Made the appropriate reservations and looked forward to the departure date.
Circumstances in late July found me home alone the week before my planned departuer date... My wife and daughter were showing one of our horses in Asheville NC and my son had gone out of town to visit a friend. It was just me and the critters... Birds, dogs, cat, the usual cast of characters that you tend to accumulate when you have kids. I was chomping at the bit, (notice the equine reference? hanging around too many horsey types) to leave. "Hey!", I says to myself. "I've never ridden the Blue Ridge Parkway and If I plan it right I could leave a couple of days early, ride part of the the Blue Ridge, and watch my daughter show our horse and stay for free (at least no additional cost) in Asheville." "Mostly I could leave early! What a plan!" So I boards the dogs and the cat, gives the birds extra food and water and I strike out for North Carolina.
Kentucky is a beautiful state. We are fortunate to live in a rural county just outside of Louisville. It's a 2 mile drive off the highway to our place and most of the road bisects a thouroughbread farm. Always fun to see the babies out with the brood mares in the spring. I stopped to shoot a couple of pictures as a fitting way to begin the trip.

The Route: I've left at about 6:30AM.. I don't have many options since I have to be at the show grounds in Asheville at 6:00PM since my kid is in the second class. Also as I have already announce my attendence it's a case of "Miss this and risk divorce." Seems like lately I find myself in this circumstance quite often... Prolly has to do with being unemployed and sqandering family resources riding around the country on a motorcycle. Draws squinty looks from my wife...
Anyway it's pretty much gotta be:"get to the parkway asap."

I decided that about all that I can risk riding (and still get to Asheville on time) is a ection of the Blue Ridge from about Boone NC on down... That pretty much means riding the slab as much as possible to save time. The one concession that I make to speed is that I will leave the slab to ride across the Cumberland Gap and through the tunnel there and pick up the slab in Tennessee.

Hwy 321 is a nice little road running from near Johnson City Tenn. to Boone NC. Lots of twisties and not too much traffic.

Sometimes I wonder if the entire South will eventually be swallowed up by Kudzu.

The Blue Ridge:
Many of you know this...but for those of you who do not live in this region of the country... the Blue Ridge Parkway was begun in 1935 as a WPA project and completed in 1987. It is a limited access 2 lane road that meanders across the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountans for 469 miles between Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks though Virginia and North Carolina. There is no commercial traffic allowed and limited signage and only very limited services. It is administered by the National Parks Service and maintained in impeccable condition. The roadway is densely planted with native flora and fauna and is very popular in the Spring and Fall when it is abloom and when the foliage turns in the fall. There are no fees required to drive this road. I rode most of the Carolina section in the middle of the week and traffic was very light. More on this later....

The section I rode beginning near Boone (sorry I think that the mile marker was about 280 or so...) to Asheville is mostly rolling hills. The Feds have apparently limited land useage adjoining the Parkway since everything I saw was agricultural but without row crops and limited to grazing land and cutting hay. Prolly really pisses off the land owners but provides for a beautiful drive for those on the Highway.

Typical section of the Blue Ridge in NC above Asheville

The speed limit on the Parkway is 45mph and in some sections 35mph. Do not travel this highway if you are in a hurry. There are frequent turoffs, at every significant overlook. I got to the Parkway at about 2:00 with a full tank of gas... I was about 120 miles from the showgrounds in Asheville and figured I could make it easily.... But.......just couldn's help myself from stopping frequently on the beautiful road and could not bring myself to do more than about 50 on the highway....
I love highway warning the West they warn you about everything imaginable... I would not be surprised to someday see signs in Utah reading "Meteor Zone" or "Watch for UFOs". This was one of my favorites on the whole trip and I saw it the first day:

As you get closer to Asheville on the Blue Ridge you begin to get into the mountains.

I'm having a great time on the Blue Ridge but it's beginning to get late. I have about an hour till show time. I check the GPS and it says 37 miles to the showgrounds... I know from experience that this is 37 miles as the crow flies. Heck that could be a bigillion miles on this road.... I imagine that the phone is ringing in the office of my wife's lawyer.... Oh no! I decide to jump off the parkway... I load the showgrounds waypoint which I have entered on the GPS. The GPS is programmed to find the fastest route to any point that you choose and it tells me to get off the Blue Ridge on Town Mountain Road about 15 miles ahead on the Northeast side of Asheville and take it to the Bypass... Just the ticket I think, all is not lost!
Streets and Trips does not do justice to the snake that is Town Mountain Road!

Just before the Town Mountain exit I come up in back of a car.... A older Mercedes with, HORROR, Blue hair at the wheel... This car has just turned off on my exit.... a 2 lane snake that looks to have about a 12% grade and about 10 feet of visibility to the next corner ahead.and a freshly painted ... DOUBLE YELLOW LINE oh chit... the lawyer's phone is ringing again.... It is here that I made my first forey into the land that would, before the trip was over, become known as The VTX Lane. Downshifted and juiced the bike and of course it was around Mercedes in an instant.... "What was that red thing Helen?" I imagine was the comment in the car.... I gave the polite " I don't have time to explain" wave as I went by and proceeded to try to burn what was a relatively new set of tires on the 1300, right off onto the Carolina roadway.
It was now about 5:20 and I felt confident that If I got to the bypass (240) that I could get to the horse show and save my marriage. But the best laid plans... Murphy's law... etc. etc. eventuated. I hit 240 and come to a dead stop....
Rush hour traffic jam in Asheville.... What? How could this be? Asheville? Apparently in the years that we had been coming to this town to show horses the town has been booming.... I have come to understand that traffic jams at 5:30 on a weekday are more the rule than the exception.... Bike is stopped... rider is cooking (it's about 90 degrees) fan is cycling....
Eventually traffic starts to move and I ride as fast as I dare without risking a traffic stop that would surely be fatal and I make it to the show grounds at 6:00... Fortuantely they are running a little late and the first class has not yet entered the ring.... I hurry over to the box seats that have been leased by the trainer and give my wife a little smooch.... My daughter has a good ride and finishes second in a class full of very expensive horses. The evening is fun, visiting and catching up with old horsey friends.....
I am going to have to interrupt this narrative at this point... Just received a call from my Son-in-law... My older daughter is in labor.... Hope to get back to this later this evening but will for sure at some point soon.... Gosh I'm getting old...
Blue Ridge Day 2
In the morning I awaken and pack to leave... I give my wife a peck on the lips... she grabs me for a hug... Chit I won't see her for a couple of weeks plus.. sometimes I am such a dunce...
The sun can't penetrate the heavy fog as I wipe off the seat and pull the choke to start the 1300. Gonna have a wet butt for an hour or so this morning. The bike responds as Hondas do and after a brief warm up I am off... On the parkway by about 7:00 AM headed South.. My plan is to ride it to the end in Cherokee and then to head for Deals Gap and the Dragon before finding the interstate and meeting Ed and the boys from Florida in Mount Vernon Illinois.

I pick up the Parkway and begin my ride South. It's a cool misty morning as the bike picks up the rythm of the road.

I travel 60 miles and see only 3 bikes and 2 cars... This road is truely a treasure. It's about 9:00 AM and the traffic is beginning to pick up on the Parkway. Also it is now possible to see down to the valleys and the cloudbank lifts.

There are 27 tunnels along the Parkway and all but one are in North Carolina.

I try out the camera's auto timer... the subject is perhaps not worth the trouble...

Eventually all good things must come to an end and the road eventually reaches it's end at Cherokee.

Here is a link to a brief video shot on the Parkway... Don't click on it if your service is anything but the fastest since you will be PO'd that you wasted any portion of your precious life waiting for this thing to load...
Cherokee is a place that gives crass commercialism a bad name.... You can stay at the Pocahontas Teepee Motel, pan for genuine gold, buy authentic "Indian" pottery... (this is probably true the stuff is probably made in India), and generally avail yourself of every possible manner of hucksterism when you are not (of course) gambling. It puts Panama City Beach to shame. I did not stop. Hwys 74 and 28 eventually took me to Hwy 129 and the "Dragon". This web site will tell you everything you want to know about "The Dragon".

This is the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort- the unofficial "headquarters" for the Dragon. Some idiot accidently deleted my photos from this trip and these are from an earlier trip last spring but this place pretty much always looks like this.. My advice if in the area is ride the ride and buy the tshirt.

In case the web site did not provide you with all the info you need:

This road was not one of my favoites on the trip... In fact it would not make my personal top 5... That is not so much a rap on the Dragon as it is how much I personally enjoyed riding some of the other roads later on. I'm thinking that I'll prolly list a top 5 or so somewhere along in this narrative.
The remaider of the trip to Mount Vernon was super slab and uninteresting. Got in, checked into the hotel and got something to eat. Ed (the Head) got in, I think around 8:00 or so. He was riding with Don (Wolf 1) from Florida. They had left Jorge and Owen back in Tennessee, delayed by bad weather. Don rode on to St. Louis and we were to pick him up along the interstate in the morning...
Days 3 and 4
Day 3 was a grind 680 miles on the interstate to Sioux Falls. It was hot and there was not much to see but the usual slab stuff.

Ed and I head out early in the morning...Keep your motor runnin.....

Ed looking "bad" on the Boss...

There was a river...

Look! a bridge! Can you find Ed in this Picture?

We managed to get through St. Louis and miss Don. Ed called him on the cell and Ed advised him that he would prolly catch up with us.... How that was gonna happen was beyond me....
miles and miles and miles.... Could be a Who song....
Eventually we come upon Don sitting under an overpass on I 29. He has managed to pass us somewhere during one of our gas stops. Our stops are extended because the Boss draws a crowd everywhere that Ed parks it. He is polite and explains to people about the bike but it takes time.... I am happy to get my butt off the seat....
Can you find Don in this picture? Hint: he is the one that is not Ed.

Eventually we reach Sioux Falls and run into RayJay in the parking lot. Ed hears from Jorge that Owen has had mechanical trouble (HD). I will leave that one alone.... and will be delayed... They will meet us in Rapid City... Food next door and to bed.... Tomorrow promises to be a hot one...
Day 4
And hot it was.

Ed, Don, Ray and I struck out for Rapid City.... Our plan for the day was to ride 90 West to Wall then head South through the Badlands loop and ride Hwy 44 into Rapid City. Ed had a stop he wanted to make in Mitchell that sounded really interesting to me!
But.... I thought you said.... nevermind...

The boys have a big old time in Mitchell

Ray is captivated... "I'm gonna bring my kids back here to see this!"

I bought Tshirts for my younger kids... "Bet none of your friends has one of these!" They loved them...
We stop to buy fuel and have a discussion.... "How we gonna top that?"..."Dunno"... "I think I could now die happy."

Yet life must go on... so it was down the road we went.

The scenery in South Central South Dakota is nothing short of breath taking.

Finally Don can resist no longer..... "This is cool... I gotta have one... Do you think it will fit on the back of my bike?"

We stop for a break... Ray says he thinks that he can see water ahead.... Ed takes a picture....


Not much passed us... 84.5 on the GPS is 286 on the slightly inaccurate VTX speedo.

We passed a number of bikes heading to Sturgis for the Rally the following week. About half were Harleys.... We passed a bagillion trailers with bikes on them heading to the Rally as well... Probably 90% of those were Harleys.
This guy shouould be ashamed of himself.

As a Psychologist, I know that prolonged sensory deprivation can make a person susceptible to suggestion.

After lunch it was South to Badlands National Park.
We headed South to Badlands National Park.

and met a Canadian family at this sign and took their picture.... Ray spoke to them and asked them how hot is was..since he speaks Canadian....and we had no way to know how hot it was, but it seemed friggin hot....

They answered 47 degrees... seemed hotter than that to me since the soles of my boots were melting on the asphalt.... Ray explained that it was really 109 in America... "Then why didn't they say so?", I inquired.... He didn't answer.
I asked the Ranger at the Ranger Station and she said it was 113... so much for the Canadians....
The Badlands were cool but really hot...

These are Bighorn Sheep which were apparently recently reintroduced to the park.

The place had a quiet beauty that was hard to capture in a photograph.

On to Rapid City via Hwy 44

Monday Day 5
Several of us Ray, Myself, along with Dave (Balou 44) from Wisconsin and Ken (H20x) who have shown up during the evening decide to do see some of the sites in the area... We rough out this loop.

And hit the roads... Dave is never one to mug for the camera.

We Ride North to:

Where we visit two of the town's most famous celebs...

The 1800 guys (all of them) think that it would be funny to feed the 1300 guy (me) to Woo's pigs..... Fortuantely they are nowhere to be found.
It would have been fun to poke around Deadwood for a couple of hours. There is a museum (Adams) in the middle of town, but the place is already crawling with Harleys a week before the rally starts and parking is darn near impossible. Can't imagine what this place must be like duing the following week. We instead opt to head out of town and up Spearfish Canyon...
14A meanders through Speafish Canyon for 16 miles. Unfortunately a high overcast did not help to bring out the detail and color of this canyon in the phogographs. They remain beautiful.

Ray's Wife tells him that he scares small children..... I don't see it...

Bridal Veil Falls in the Canyon

From Spearfish it was on to Wyoming.
The first of several welcomes from Wyoming

These things were all over the area. Don't think that they could stop very fast.

Two Kentucky boys Clifford and Bubba traveled out west for work. Since they had experience logging back home they applied to drive a lumber truck. While they had Ky drivers licenses the company HR director thought it best to interview them to determine whether they had adedquate judgement to drive for them.... After several questions the interviewer gave Clifford the following hypothetical: "OK Clifford, let's suppose you are driving a loaded truck down a mountain... say a 12% grade and you loose your breaks.... Your partner is asleep and you are picking up speed.... you round a corner at 70 and there is a stopped school bus in the road with children getting off and crossing the road.... What do you do?".... Clifford thinks for a few seconds and responds:" Why, I wake up Bubba!".... The interviewer is dumbfounded...."That's all?... in a crisis like this... all you can thik to do is to wake up your partner?"..... "Yep", replies Clifford...."Bubba, he's never seen no bad accident!"

Can you find Dave in this picture?

Hwy 14 from South of Devil's tower was wide open with big, high speed, sweepers. Probably not top 5 from this trip but not far off...
Big Sky

We burned the slab back to the hotel stopping only to tag Sturgis.... Most of the vendors were still setting up but there were 23000 t shirt tents already open. Didn't need any photos of tshirt tents. Also..., guess what? no place to park... so we didn't.

Day 6

Met Mike (Black Hills) who lives in Rapid City the evening before. He lets us know that he will be off on Wed. (which will be day 7) and we make plans to ride with him and take advantage of his local knowlege.

Also Jason (Jlment) has shown up from the Honda Homecoming. He has ridden a bunch of miles to get there and is one of the hand full of veterans from the first Sturgis Solitary. We will room together through Colorado.

Jason and I rough out a route after breakfast that will take us to see the sights South of Rapid city, including Mt. Rushmore, Iron Mountain Road and Crazy Horse.

In addition to Jason a couple of other guys joined us as well, making a group of 7.

We were under leaden skys.... again not very conducive to photography.

Wake up Bubba!

We tagged Mt. Rushmore...

And ran down Iron Mountain Hwy towards Custer State Park...

This display on the upper left hand corner of the GPS is not an error.. There are two pigtail bridges built on this hwy which were built to lessen the environmental impact of the road. Looks to me like they built them just because they could.

Disclaimer here: These are the only 2 photos in the report that I did not take. I didn't have any good ones of the bridges and thought that they were interesting enough to include here.

One of the bridges terminates in this tunnel.... The sign ahead commands drivers to "Sound Horn" You can imagine what ensued..... Jason has 3 air horns on his bike...

Near the entrance to Custer State Park... Wildlife Loop.

Motorcycling is relatively safe when proper caution is exercised.

Must be Harley Sheep

Oh give me a home....

"Wild Burros"

They found out I had nothing to eat.... Must be Harley Burros.

After lunch we tagged Crazy Horse

I has some work to do on my bike so... I headed back to the hotel... most of the guys rode farther south.

Couple more images, this area is called the needles... can you guess why?

Last 2

Day 7- Wednesday, last day in South Dakota

Mike (Black Hills) shows up in the parking lot of the hotel in the morning. He will show us some of the local roads today. For some reason we do not get an early start.... Much bench racing and bench touring goes on in the parking lot.

We eventually get going a little late and as near as I can remeber we ride this route:

Mike takes us up towards Sturgis to ride Vanoker Canyon Road. This, he says will be a great road and will not have anyone on it. He is right in one respect, it was a great road. Unfortuantely is was jammed with Harleys. In fact, virtually everywhere we go, unless it has a couple miles of gravel or chip seal is jammed with Harleys. It is a very frustrating day. Vanocker turns out to be a well paved 2 lane with big open sweepers, just inviting a 70+ mile per hour blast.... However that is not possible since there are 4 or 5 lines of Harleys all riding at 15 miles per hour under the speed limit. Now I know why so many arrive on trailers...

The canyon road is twisty enough that it is virtually all double yellow lines. The prudent solution is to stop and wait for the Harleys to get ahead and then ride your ride.... I do this a couple of times but run up on the long lines time after time.... Only one solution remaining... Use the VTX lane. Most of us blast by the Harleys left of the double yellow... this becomes a theme for the rest of the day... While raising the adrenaline level and adding excitement to the ride, even I (who ride with one hand while shooting these photos) deem it more prudent to save my left hand for the front break... which I have occasion to death grip (probly and appropriate reference) more than once. Photography, this day, will be sketchy.

Here is an 8 second video from which the above photo is liftd. This represents a typical section of this road. For those of you with dial up.. We pass 7 Harleys going the other way in this sequence.

At the end of Vanocker Canyon Road we pause at a turn off to relive the experience. From left to right in this picture we have Ken, Ray, Nate, who has arrived from Colorado, Dave, Jorge, Ed, Don, Mike, Jason, and Owen. In the left foreground you will see Mike's CBR which prompted accusations of cheating in the curves.

We discuss the plan for the rest of the day and decide that Lunch is in order. Mike tells of a burger place called the Sugar Shack which is South of Deadwood on Hwy 385.. We will tag Deadwood, have lunch and tag Rushmore again... (Somebody in the group hasn't seen it) and ride Iron Mountain Road again.


I stop on the way out of town to take a picture of this shed which is featured in another post on here but not worth the story. I fumble with the camera and nearly drop the bike.

Anyway... all of this takes me about 5 minutes, which means that there are at least 30 Harleys between me and our group.

They are not standing still either ... they are blowing off Harleys in the VTX lane ahead.....

I leave town behind a group of about 10.... There is lots of oncoming traffic and I am stuck behind them for what seems like an eternity.... Fortunately the road ahead has a passing lane and I figure I'll just pass them when the road expands..... Only.... at the passing lane they split into 2 groups... half in each lane... I am fuming.... I crack the throttle wide open and ride through the middle of them.... Hope they're not hostile cuz I'm not very tough and if someone did that to me I would be pissed....

I hold the bike wide open in fourth gear for most of the 10 or 12 miles it takes me to catch Dave who is at the back of our group but have to cut into a long line of Harleys when an oncoming truck forces me back to the right lane.... I cut off a guy who looks like he splits his time between the Tattoo parlor, the Gym and his Juice Dealer... Oh chit... Having caught our group they are just about to pull into the Sugar Shack and this guy pulls in right behind us.... Fortunately he doesn't say anything and I count my blessings.....

The burger at the Sugar Shack is filling... Did you know that today was the last day that you could order french fries? No fries during the rally. Too much time to make them? This remains today one of the great mysteries of the trip...

After lunch we burn up the roads passing everything we see... Somehow our group becomes sepeaated and about half of us continue on to Rushmore...

Mike takes us across Old Hill City Road... which is a beautiful and peaceful little valley road dotted with ranches and horses... There is a narrow gague railway (steam I believe) that runs twice a day through here and it is one of the nicest stretches of road that I will ride on the trip... I think of my horsey family and they would have just loved this place. Sorry I don't have more pictures... I think that I screwed up and deleted some of them by accident. This photo, which I lifted from a poor video doesn't do the place justice..

We tag Rushmore again

Mike takes us to an overlook on Iron Mountain Road where we get a good view of the Black Hills.

Mike and I dedcide to head back to town. I have laundry to do since we are leaving tomorrow and a couple of adjustments left to do on the bike. He takes me down a nice little chip seal road and I have my first encounter with Free Range Cattle.... Out West there are places where cattle are allowed to roam all over the roads... It is very disconcerting to round a corner and see several of these critters staring at you from the edge of the road or crossing it right in front of you.... These beasts will fill my nightmares for the rest of the trip.

More stuff that will kill you:

Several of us have dinner together that evening and we say our goodbyes for this trip... It has been a blast riding with these guys and I have many fond memories of this part of the trip. Tomorrow Ed, Nate, Jason, Jorge, Owen and I are off to Colorado!

Day 8 Thursday-

I'm gonna start a new thread here because the string is getting pretty loaded with photos and this one promises to be the heaviest so far....

After breakfast and final good byes to friends we head out. Ed, Jorge, Owen, Nate, Jason and myself.

We will travel south, through Southeastern Wyoming to Estes Park Colorado where we will ride Trail Ridge in Rocky Mountain National Park. I am looking forward to this ride since I missed it earlier this Summer at the Coloradical.

Off we go:

It's only about 70 miles from Edgemont SD to Lusk Wy..... those of you who have ridden this know what's coming.... However if you have already ridden over 80 miles when you hit Edgemont and you don't buy fuel at Edgemont it is a very long 70 miles since there is virtually nothing between these two towns.... The problem is compounded if you're riding 90mph..... We get about 1/2 way and realize that we may be in deep chit and decide to keep our speed at about 70 the rest of the way into Lusk... All the VTXs were on reserve by the time we got there but fortunately no one ran out...

This stretch of road is really out there...

Wonder how this town got it's name?

We stop at the longest continuingly operating (open 24 hours) truck stop in the nation... The have a great bakery on site and the baked goods are excellent.... Ed gets a cinnamon roll to share with the boys and offers me some... I decline.... Wouldn't have mattered anyway Ed has already eaten it all.

We are in Colorado .... canyon riding on the road to Estes Park:

We get to Estes Park and it is looks like some weather is coming in. I'd call this an angry sky... Makes for great photos though doesn't it?

Trail Ridge... Rocky Mountain National Park

Soon we are riding above the timberline.


Higher yet

No respect...

The altitude, long days on the bike and riding position on the Kaw are really getting to Jorge... He and Owen decide to head down the mountain and will, in the spirit of the Sturgis Solitary decide to ride their own ride... I will see them at dinner a couple of nights later but not again after that. They stick to the interstates and ride their own ride.

We stop to use the facilities and Jason decides that he will climb to the top of nearby outcropping that represents the highest point on Trail Ridge... Ed and I stay in the parking lot....Kids.... By this time it is beginning to get late and I am beginning to become concerned about riding down after dark.... We start out down the mountain with Jason running down the steps after to get to his bike and catch up with us.... We begin our descent down the mountain and round a switchback and decend into a high meadow and are confronted with this sight.

Harley Elk?

Here is a 27 second video of Elk on Trail Ridge:

By this time it is getting very late... We make one more stop at the Continental Divide to get the obligitory pictures... Someone suggests to Ed that he pee on the Divide to see if the stream goes both ways... Since there are kids about, he declines....

It's nearly dark... getting colder and beginning to spit rain... We head down the mountain and out of the park.. It's slow going because the elk and deer are beginnign to move and are crossing the roads ahead of us all the way out of the park... I have to stop several times to let them pass. Somehow we become seperated and I continue by myself to Silverton where we are staying. It's cold, spitting cold rain and the wind has picked up to what seemed about 30. There is no moon and it is really dark on the two lane to Silverton... The 70 miles seemed like 200... I am afraid to run very fast because I can's see and I know that there are deer all over the roads. Finally a car passes me and I latch on to it's behind figuring that he'll hit the deer first. I finally get to Silverton and find the hotel... Check in and go next door for Chicago Pizza and a couple of beers... That's much better.... Ed, Nate, and Jason get in about an hour and a half later... They have ridden a different route to the hotel but are just as miserable... After exchanging war stories over another beer it's to bed... Montrose tomorrow...

Day 9 Friday:

Short day today, only have to travel a little over 200 miles from Siverton to Montrose. We will ride across Fremont Pass, through Leadville and Buena Vista. We will turn West at Poncha Springs and ride through Gunnison to Montrose.

We loose anothe member of our group this morning. Nate has a problem with the care of his dog and must return to Denver, leaving only Ed, Jason and myself to ride together. Bummer, for us and Nate as well.

We don't get a particularly early start. After last night Ed is concerned about the weather... as it turns out with good reason. We head west on 70 for a couple of exits and get off on Hwy 91 and head South. At Fremont pass we pass a gigantic strip mine. Apparently it has had several iterations, originally mining gold and, I think, silver, but is now a copper operation.

We pass through Leadville, a town trying to attract tourism to it's little victorian downtown and mining history. There is some kind of festival going on but we don't stop. It is interesting to note that Leadville is at 10,200 feet about sea level... They call Denver the mile high city... then is Leadville the "Almost 2 mile high City"? Doesn't have the same ring to it, needs work....

South of Leadville on Hwy 25 you can see the remains of the old stage road on the east side of the highway. I didn't get a good photo from this trip but you might be able to see part of it in this one from July. For the sake of perspective we are traveling South, I was traveling North when I took this:

A couple more from Hwy 25:

Today we will be killed by..... elk!

We don't do much in the way of pass crossing today and spend most of the day on the high plains so it is not a dramatic photo day...

We stopped at a couple of good restaurants along this route in July but I can't remember where they were.. As it turns out they were in Gunnison... Ed spots a BarBQ place outside of Poncha Springs. It turns out to be pretty good and we enjoy a nice lunch.... After lunch the skies are threatening again... It's really dark in the West where we are going and it looks like a certainty that we're gonna get wet.

One of the cool things about riding in the West is that you can see rain storms very far away. I keep checking the GPS to see which way the road will turn to determine how wet we will get. As it turns out we high tail it to Gunnison and avoid most of the weather... But at Gunnison it is clear that we will soon be in a lot of weather. We fuel up there and gear up for wet weather. Unfortunately that means the end of photos for the day since my camera is not water resistant.

At this point it may be worth having a discussion about what constitutes a great motorcycle road. For me the first factor has got to be the ride... Is the road fun to negotiate on a bike? For me, what factors in, is how it is laid out by the engineers if any and how fast you can ride it... Face it, a big part of motorcycles is riding them fast! Secondly the scenery has to be fun to look at...Cool scenery makes for a cool ride... Just in order to keep this simple the third factor for me is the story of the road... History, construction, maintenance etc... What is the story of the road? Is there a story attached to the road that adds to the fun in riding it. Did something important happen here in the past.

That brings me to Hwy 50, Between Gunnison and Montrose... I think it was one of my 5 favorites on the trip... It is a distance of about 65 miles total, but the best part is the 50 just West of Gunnison. The road travels along the shore of the Blue Mesa Reservoir. The pavement is in great shape and is one big sweeper after another...There was not much traffic and we rode it at about 75. It crosses back and forth across the reservoir a couple of times and passes over the Black Canyon of the Gunnison for a short distance.... Perhaps part of the rush was riding into a big black front ahead and the fact that it was spitting rain.... Probably added to the adrenaline rush of the experience....

The road is a 10 on fun to drive and probably an 8 on scenery... It had very tough competition.

Anyway the road was great and makes my top 5 on the trip.

About 35 or 40 miles outside of Gunnison we hit a full fledged frog strangler.... It rains on us really hard and we have to slow down to about 50... The creeks along the highway are overflowing their banks and the washes which only intermittantly flow are rushing with brown muddy water.

At one of the higher (altitude) places the rain briefly turns to sleet, then back to rain.... Traffic appears to be slowing ahead so we slow down and round a fairly tight sweeper and run into a mess.... The rains have apparently caused a flash flood which has swept about 6 inches of gooey mud about the consistency of chocolate pudding across the road... Include with the pudding are rocks which vary from baseballs to about the size of my head. It's a good thing that there was enough traffic on the road to see the cars slowing ahead. If we had hit this mess at speed there would have been no way we could have negotiated it... Wake up Bubba time....

I slowly pick my way through the mud and rocks with my feet off the pegs and as high in the air as I can get them. Jason is behind me and is not as lucky.... A pick up hits the mess going the other way just as Jason is negotiating the mess and covers him and his bike with chocolate pudding. Fortuantely he is wearing a full face helmet but must stop to clean off his visor which is coated.... He looks like he is the loser in a motorcycle mud wrestling match......

Fortunately it is pouring rain and most of it gets washed off during the remaining trip to Montrose... Wish I had a water proof camera for this one.

We hit Montrose and we pass a Honda Motorcycle dealer just about a block from our hotel... Both Jason and I need to pick up a couple of things so we take advantage of its timely appearance...

Check into the hotel and hang up my rain gear to dry.... After a shower and change of clothes it's down the block to hang with the locals at the Red Barn and relive the day sitting at the bar. One of the locals hits on Jason all night but she's old enough to be his mother and he aint having any..... Tomorrow the Million Dollar Highway

I think that I will try to limit the size of these strings to make them more viewable. i'm really gonna suck up your bandwith on this one. John, sorry you couldn't make it as well. To answer the question about fuel mileage... the bikes did get better mileage at altitude and we were not going 90 the whole time just the for about 40 miles or so... I don't know when Jason's fuel light came on but Nate and I hit reserve on our 1300s with about 15 or 20 miles to go... had about 1/2 gallon left when I fueled up.

Day 10- Saturday....

Only 150 miles today but a lot to see.

We headed out first thing to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison which was just Northwest of Montrose.

There is a road on which it is possible to drive down to the river at the bottom of the canyon so we decided to do that first. The morning clouds were hanging low.

The road to the bottom of the canyon had a 16% grade. None of us could remember being on a road with that steep a grade.

The grade was very managable for Jason and I... just left the bike in first. It was however, a real problem for Ed. The Boss doesn't engine brake since it has some kind of automatic transmission and he had to lay on his brakes the whole way down the canyon.... Despite stopping a couple of times at pulloffs he either glazed his front brakes or boiled the fluid because at the bottom he had lost his front brake lever.

The Gunnison river flows through the Canyon. I really don't know how deep it was but I would guess 800 to 1000 feet in places.

The trip up was a lot easier than the trip down... This shot gives you a better idea of how steep the road was.... See Ed down there? I know he's a little short but really.....

BTW- For those of you in warmer climes.. the poles you see along this and other mountain roads are use to mark the edge of the road in the snow for driving and plowing. You can get an idea of how much is snows in an area by the height of the poles they use.

Glamour shots:

"One of us has your name on it"..... I don't think that free range chickens pose the same threat as free range cattle... Prolly why no warning signs for free range chickens.

The canyon from avove.

More Glamour shots

Why would any sensible person step off a perfectly good cliff?

A few more for perspective.... the little green mossy looking stuff on top of the canyon are trees.

We left the Canyon and headed out for Hwy 550.

Would it be death by deer strike?

Day 10 Continued:

Down Hwy 550 we go to Ouray, a 19th century victorian mining town that has made the successful transition to tourist haven. The town is surrounded on 3 sides by steep canyon walls (no urban sprall here). We have lunch on the veranda with a beautiful view of the mountains... In fact, there is no place in town that doesn't have a beautiful view of the mountains.

Ouray is the gateway to the "Million Dollar Highway" a road built to haul rich silver ore from the mines in the mountains to the smelters in the valleys below. My memories of this road and the opportunity to ride it again were a big reason that I decided to ride to Colorado after leaving South Dakota. The 23 mile stretch through Red Mountain Pass is one of the most beautiful roads I have ever traveled. The road is fun to ride but it's the sheer cliffs, deep colorful valleys and rushing waterfalls that make it one of my top roads of all time and secure it a spot on my top 5 for this ride.

We head into the mountains and give ourselves time to enjoy the beauty of this road. I tried to replicate a shot I took when I was here in July showing the GPS track up the mountain.

Views leaving Ouray

The road ahead:

Jason Checks out a waterfall:

The waterfall on the other side of the highway boarders a jeep trail that goes deep into the mountains....My kingdom for a dual sport.

People leave notes on this sign when they venture up this trail.

Someone really loved this spot in life....

A little farther along the road there are memorials to a family who lost their lives on this highway... I would expect from avalanche and members of the highway department who have died trying to keep it open.

Q: What do Harleys and Burros have in common? A: They both like to ride in the back of pick up trucks.

The steepest crookedest and best paying railroad in Colorado:

10 second video of this ^ very engine doing nothing on this very spot.

The mining operation:

Couple more:

Riding that highway might be the most fun that I had this Summer... I reflected as I rode the twisty descent down the mountain towards Durango and then on to Cortez.... when I passed this sign.

Day 11, Sunday

I have cut down on the size of some of these photo files to help with loading this stuff.. Some of the panoramas will be smaller .... let me know...

Saturday evening, had dinner with Ed, Jason, Jorge and Owen.... hadn't seen Jorge or Owen for a couple of days. Brew Pub Bopplegangerf dusendorph broken bottle smirnofff skeeter... Beer recomended by the hostess was heavy, too sweet and one was more than enough... Bid my goodbyes... They were heading south to New Mexico and I had decided to ride back North and ride Tetons National Park and Yellowstone... Also a couple of people had recommended the Beartooth Hwy outside of the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone as one of the best motorcycle roads in America... What's another 1000 miles... Only 2700 miles to go.....

My plan for the day was to spend a couple of hours at Mesa Verde National Park, then ride through Durango and back up Hwy 550, back across Red Mountain Pass to Hwy 50. I planned to stop at Colorado National Monument outside of Grand Junction. Then I planned to ride Hwy 139 to Dinosaur Co., then across Hwy 40 and spend the night in Vernal UT.

Got up fairly early and said my last goodbys to the guys and rode out to Mesa Verde National Park... Just West of Cortez Co.

Mesa Verde is one of the oldest National Parks in the US... Teddy Roosevelt signed legislation designating the are a National Park in 1906... The oldest park in America is Yellowstone.. Grant 1872. The site is the former home of Puebloan Native Americans.... They are most famous for building cliff dwellings in the natually occuring alcoves in the sandstone cliffs that were cut into the walls of the canyons by water and wind over the milennia....The story most popularly told is that a family of ranchers. the Weatherhills discovered the site while chasing stray cattle up a canyon in 1888.... The family explored the area and collected and sold collections of artifacts to finance more extensive archeological exploration of the area.... Archeologists have determined that the site had been abandoned by it's builders about 600 years before being discovered by the Weatherhills.

The entrance to the Park is near the highway but the closest cliff dwellings are 27 miles off the road....

It is a very beautiful drive back to the main part of the park dominated by the Point Lookout Mesa...

The main body of the park is divided betwen two very large mesas and the drive in seems much shorter thatn 27 miles because the geography is very engaging.

Much of the timber in the park was descimated by forest fires in 2000. I found that this would be true for the rest of my travels North in Western Colorado, and Wyoming. I'm sure that the Forest Service and the Park Service caught holy hell for letting this and a big chunk of Yellowstone burn....

The fires don't seemed to have harmed this free range chicken any.

I'm going to have to interrupt this narrative for a while... hope to get back to it later tonight or tomorrow..

27 miles back to the Museum and the main body of the dwellings.... As I wrote before, the Weatherhills discovered the place in 1888. At that time it had been vacant for 600 years.... Well known to the native Utes but not to Westerners. This is what the smaller canyons look like:

You can see that the elements have carved out alcoves in the sandstone...

Spruce Tree House is a dwelling that is very accessible to tourists but most of the dwellings are a very substantial hike to see them up close and then only if accompanied by a ranger. Here are some photos:

Notice the soot from cooking fires on the ceiling of the alcove:

Longer view:

Additional shots and info:
Hope you can read some of this:

There are a couple of other valleys that are home to numerous dwellings:

Couple of last shots of cliff dwellings and off the top of the Mesa, notice the burned out timber on top of the Mesa:

Is the West beautiful or what?

Would have loved to spend more time here and taken one of the guided hikes down to the ruins but I had a 400 mile day ahead of me and challenges ahead:

I'm gonna post this now and will work on it for a little while longer but don't want to loose what I have done:

Day 11 Contunued:

Headed North on Hwy 550 and across Red Mountain Pass... I love this road:

I don't know if you can see the front ahead... It was coming in from the West...

But I finally outran this thing about 150 miles up the road:

The entrance to Colorado National Monument had no one there, no rangers, and I ran into only 2 cars in the place... Did the drive through tour but was worried about time and weather so I did not spend too much time there... The place is all gigantic canyons, mesas, rock formations and vistas. These photos do not give a very good idea of the scale of the place which was gigantic...

By all means stop to smell the flowers, but don't be surprised if the weather catches up with you....

This is the last image from Sunday... It would be raining off and on for the remainder of the evening....

After leaving Colorado National Monument I rode a short distance on I70. Got off on Hwy 139 and headed North to Dinosaur Co... Checked my odometer at the I70 exit where there was a gas station... 75 miles... Surely there would be a gas station somewhere in the next 75 miles... WRONG.... The next 70 or so miles was on a windswept 2 lane populated only by the dreaded "free range cattle" and a lot of scrawny deer. Sweated out the last 20 miles to Dinosaur and finally hit reserve about 10 miles South.

Dinosaur is a desolate place with a few ramshackle buildings and lots of huge oil rigs pumping slowly, Unfortunately, all that oil and no gas. The only gas station in town was closed... Every one of the rigs, however had
a wind sock on the top of it... Not hard to imagine why... The wind was blowing about 40 and nearly blew me off the road several times... I sweated it out a little longer and finally reached Jensen Utah... The first 2 gas stations I passed were closed... (Sunday evening)... Fortunatly the third was open... I filled my thirsty bike and headed on to Vernal....

Checked into the hotel. It was a dive.. The room smelled... I just tossed my stuff on the bed and headed back to a place I had passed on the way in.... Something Saloon..."Welcome Bikers" Probably a mistake....

I parked my bike in front of the place and the only other vehicle in the lot was an older ultra glide... Walked in an was surprised to find the place about half full. Most musta walked there... Was reminded that I was in Utah when the guy at the door asked me if I had my membership card... It was a private club... Chit... However I could buy a temporary membership for $4.... Just the ticket...

I bought my membership and looked for a seat at the bar... There was a place next to a particularly surly looking guy that had the remains of a beer and an empty pack of cigarettes in front of it... The only other option was at the other end of the bar away from the door next to a really ugly fat chick.... Ugh... Looked around and from the stuff on the walls "Harleys only all others will be crushed" I figured that I better sit near the door...

Asked Mr. surly if anyone was sitting ther and he answered "Yea, the fricking invisible man" he didn't say fricking.... Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all... He turned his back and it was apparent that the seat was open... I was really tired and I had invested $4 in the place so I sat down and ordered a beer.... About that time the door opened and a huge guy with a mohawk calls somebody's name... A guy I hadn't seen when I came in comes up from the back... I see from his colors that he's a 1%er... I hopoe they don't kick over my bike on the way out... I'm probably nearly 2000 miles from home...This really might have been a bad idea..... From the conversation with the Mohawk it appears that a mutual friend has just gotten out of prison... They leave together.... I drink my beer...

Mr. Surly is just as surly to the bartender and other people in the bar as me.. from their expressions they don't much care for him... I figure I'm ok there... Eventually the crowd turns over and more normal people filter in... Have a couple more beers and head back to the hotel... My bike is still on the kickstand.... As I head out the door the guy at the door calls out my name (it was on my membership card) Tells me I forgot it... I tell him I won't be needing it since I'll be 500 miles from there tomorrow...

Head back to the Hotel... I open the door and immediately realize that the Indian guys who run the place have sprayed some air freshener in the place... Don't know what's worse the air freshener or the stink... What the heck can't find another hotel, I guaranteed the room on the 'net .... To bed and to sleep... long day tomorrow.

Day 12- Monday

Awoke to a beautiful morning. Today I would ride to Jackson Wyoming where I would spend the night, planning to ride Teton National Park and Yellowstone on Tuesday. I only had 300 miles to ride so the day promised to be relatively easy..

I stopped at Dinosaur National Monument which was a couple of miles outside of Vernal. Unfortunately there wasn't too much to see there since the quarry, where they were actually digging for Dinosaur fossils had been closed to the public. Apparently there had been some recent rock falls in the quarry and it had been closed a couple of months before. There was a guided tour on a tram, but I decided not to hang around for it.

I was able to see a little of the area and some cool petroglyphs(sp?).
Archeologists have determined that humans had used the rock shelter where these were found for 10,000 years... Longer than harley has been making their push rod v twins...

This is the fossil of an allosarus. It was found next to the fossil of an ancient native american on his wrecked Flintstone motorcycle. (just kidding)

A couple of the park:

Pretty cool place for a campground

I spent about an hour at Dinosaur National Monument... With the quarry being closed there really wasn't much to see on your own, so I headed North on Hwy 191.

The West is amazing in that the geography changes dramatically in a short distance... I left the dry Jurassic era rocky area of Dinosaur and literally crested a hill to find a beautifully forrested area of aspens and lodgepole pines.

I rode through the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area and across the dam.

The lake itself goes on for miles and miles... it is quite beautiful.

Much of the area around the dam had been ravaged by fire.

What would a ride be without my little buddies?

Stopped in Rock Springs for fuel ... I have finally learned my lesson and headed North on 191 again. Just as I was leaving town I noticed a new Ultra Classic ahead. They were a couple 2 up and had Missouri plates, I figured that they were headed for Yellowstone as well... I pulled out and passed them and a couple of cars that were ahead of them and set the throttle lock at about 85... GPS speed... close to 95 on the speedo...

I noticed in my mirrors that they had followed me and were about 10 car lengths ... "Pretty good running Harley" I thought to myself... Nothing passed me on that behind. For the next 90 miles.... The Ultra remained right behind.... At one point they had caught up to me when I pulled out to pass a truck and when I opened my bike up, I noticed in the mirrors that they kept right up with me... "Really good running Harley", I thought.

Stopped for fuel in a little town with about 98 miles on the odometer and they pulled in right behind me... Struck up a conversation... They were headed to Yellowstone but were going to try to make it all the way to Cody that afternoon...

It was a good running Harley... It was a brand new Ultra Classic with the 95 cubic inch kit in it and hot cams. That's why it was able to keep up.. I typically blow these things off with the 1300.

I told them that I had found a room at a motel 6 in Jackson and that the rooms I had researched in Cody were a lot more... They said that they had found a relatively cheap room in Cody by calling hotels directly.... We rode along together for another 50 miles or so... I stopped at one point to put on my rain gear when I spotted a pretty good sized thunder storm ahead and they decided to ride on since they were going further than me... They had planned to ride Yellowstone the following day and the Beartooth Hwy the day after... That was my plan exactly. I gave them my cell number and told them to call me if they wanted to ride together.... Figured it wouldn't hurt to have someone along since the Chief Joseph Hwy and the Beartooth Hwy from Cody to Red Lodge was 120 miles devoid of services... They rode on..

When I finally pulled into the Motel 6 parking lot in Jackson I noticed that the Ultra was parked out front.... They had decided to stop in and see if there were any rooms... In fact there were, and they got the last ground floor room.... Yours truely had to climb the stairs with his luggage.... ugh.. They were nice people and we decided to go out to dinner together...

We first had to stop at the Harley dealership so that Larry (his name) could buy the obligitory Harley Jackson Hole t shirt. We stopped in the dealership and the place (even though quite large) was jammed... Doing a land office business.... It took me a few minutes to figure out that there wasn't any dealership there at all but only an apparel store... The Harley Davidson Franchise is a gold mine!

We had a nice dinner at a little place near by recommended by the Harley People and headed back to the hotel... I was quite tired and decided to turn in early...We had planned to ride to Yellowstone together in the morning but when I got ready to leave in the morning they weren's ready to go... Told me they's call me when they got to Cody but I never heard from them again.... The east exit to Cody from Yellowstone was closed every night from 8pm to 8am for construction... It's very possible that if they rode the scenic loop in Yellowstone, and made many stops at all that they didn't get to the exit by 8pm... I'll never know...

Tomorrow . Teton National Park and Yellowstone

Day 13 Teton National Park and Yellowstone... Tuesday

The plan was to ride these two beautiful National Parks, make it out the East Entrance to Yellowstone before 8:00 pm and spend the night in Cody. Had to get out before 8:00 because the entrance was closed for construction at night and I could only spend 1 day because I promised my wife I'd be home by Friday... at that it would be 3 hard days to make it back to Kentucky.

Forgive me BigX, I did little more than tag Teton Naional Park. The way the park is laid out ... to really do it justice requires hiking or riding (horses) back into the mountains.. a luxury that the time I had alloted did not give me.

I entered Teton by the South entrance. The day was going to be one of intermittent rain. It was raining while I was in the park. The road from the South entrance is little more than a gravel trail through the mostly wooded wetlands beneath the mountains.

Still, the West offers numerous opportunities to die. Either from canyon exploration...

Or under the wheels of a rampaging trick bicycle:

The mountains were beautiful, even in the rain:

The Glacier:

Yellowstone is a beautiful and intriguingly diverse in its geography, geology and wildlife. I was clearly there at the wrong time of year... The place was as crowded as Disney World at high season.... There were people everywhere and anywhere that there was anything to see the traffic backed up for blocks. At one point I came upon one of these back ups... It was so serious that there were rangers motioning cars to keep on moving.... The site of the back up eminated from just along side of the compound where many of the Summer help for the park stay... in a grassy field just adjoining the road that loops through the park. A huge bull elk... Rack must have been 7 or 8 feet wide had planted himself in this field and was watching the commotion caused by the tourists watching and streaming in to photograph him.... I just couldn't bring myself to join this throng so I have no photos but that experience captures what Yellowstone is like in the Summer... My recommendation is if you plan to go there do it in the very late fall or Winter when the throngs stay home... The following is a sampling from my day in Yellowstone...

A very large portion of Yellowstone has been burned out by fire... What Hath Smokey Wroght?.... The Park Service and Forest Service have clearly jumped on replanting this park....

This is a little waterfall just inside the South entrance.. Typical of Yellowstone... It is a very wet park..The run off from the mountains passes through and collects in this park. It is full of streams, rapids, waterfalls, and wetlands...

Here is Kepler Cascades... a poor video.. Actually I should comment here... the videos I downloaded were pretty good but low resolution... this web site sucked the life out of them producing the crap you have seen in these posts... What do you expect for free?

The video:

Old Faithful:
Most of the time it looks like this:

All of the time it has about 10gillion people sitting on bleachers waiting for it to do something... Fortunately, or unfortunately.. It is fairly predictable and about every 2 hours, give or take a half hour it does this:

The video is actually a little better than the still if you care...

Yellowstone sits on top of some kind of volcanic dome... I don't understand it and I am not willing to research it right now to explain it to you... What do you expect for free? But... Everywhere you go you smell sulpherdioxide... rotten eggs... The dead giveaway for volcanic activity.. brimstone anyone? You can be walking or driving along and all of a sudden something erupts right along the road or path... Witness:

Again, this is a beautiful place suffering from too much love but there is stuff like this everywhere.. I'll let the photos tell the story for a little while.

Of course then ther are these guys:
Might look good on a coin...

So ended my day in Yellowstone... I left out the part about the cold rain the idiot drivers and the Harleys because you have heard it all before.. Don't go in the Summer.... Ahead.. the trip out of the East Entrance to Cody... Just a few more photos... I'll get back to this later tonight.... A hint:


Hwy 14 outside of the East Entrance to Yellowstone was one of the great roads on the trip... It was also one of the worst... Just outside the Entrance there is a 7 mile stretch of construction that is gravel. It is under construction. About half of it is hard pack but the sections on which they are actively working get torn up by the construction equipment nightly and are probably rolled but are still very soft gravel... The problem for a motorcycle is that the section under construction is also about a 10% grade making it miserable on a bike....

After that 14 becomes a wonderful canyon ride with big, fast, sweepers all the way to Cody. Her are some photos and a typically poor video":



Cody was full of motorcycles.. Mostly riders heading to or returning from Sturgis, and on their way to or from Yellowstone... Had a great burger at a place crawling with bikers (of a markedly frendlier kind than those encountered earlier in Utah). Headed to bed at the "Cowboy Village of Cody", a very nice place run by a refugee from South Florida and a woman who appeared to be his mother.... I will not speculate any further.... Tomorrow... Chief Joseph Highway, Beartooth Highway and the turn for home....

Day 14 Wednesday... Last Day Out.

Chief Joseph Highway, Beartooth Highway and the turn for home.

The plan for the day was to ride the Chief Joseph Highway to the Beartooth Highway from Cody to Red Lodge Montana... These roads have been written about on this forum glowingly and the chance to ride them was part of the reason that I dedcided to ride to Yellowstone before heading home. They did not dissappoint.

The Route:

It is important to fill the bike up with fuel before leaving Cody because there is virtually nothing in the way of services between Cody and Red Lodge.
The Cowboy Village of Cody, This was a very nice little motel with several log cabin duplexes. It was immaculately clean and had a great bed... The bath was stocked with high end little soaps, conditioners and body scrubs. It was a little pricey $125 but so was everything in this town crowded with motorcycles. I talked with the owner who appeared to be running the place with a very friendly older lady.. My instincts told me it was his mother... He said that he had left South Beach to build this place... Also said that he had never "done cowboy", his exact words. I'll leave you all to determine exactly what he meant.
My bike outside my little cabin at the Cowboy Village:

I stopped to fuel up on the way out of town and ran into two guys on Harleys. They planned to ride the same route today but didn't know exactly how to get to Chief Joseph... I offered to show them the way.. Also riding with another bike or two isn't the worst thing in the world... At least someone would see me fly off a cliff and could alert the authorities... As I wrote before there was nothing out there..

It was a cold morning, I regretted not putting the liner in my jacket even though I had a denim shirt on under it and it was about 20 miles to the Chief Joseph turn off and I led out.. The road was open and traffic free, well paved and it was a great way to wake up for the day. I took the road at about 70 to 80 on the GPS.. Not especially fast by the standards of this trip but some of the corners demanded that you pay attention to your line at 75 mph. The Harley guys lagged pretty far behind.

I stopped at the Chief Joseph turn off and when they caght up they told me that they would be taking their time and that I'd better go ahead... I wondered where they had parked their trailer.

"From where the sun now stands, I will fight no longer."

The Chief Joseph Highway is a perfectly engineered (meaning that the corners have very consistant apex) and very well maintained stretch of road... Huge sweeping corners with majestic, monumental, scenery. I think that it is a better motorcycle road (from the perspective of the ride) than the Beartooth, even though the Beartooth has the reputation. It along with the Beartooth Highway, makes my top 5 roads of the trip. And I got to ride them sequentially!

No worries.. If you crash and die and are not found right away... Bears will eat your body:

It wasn't long before I ran up on a group of about 7 or 8 Harleys... Quickly blew them off in the VTX lane.

I'm going to let some of the images from the Chief Joseph speak for themselves:

And a little bad video.. just to let you know what the ride would be like if you were seriously vision impared:

The Chief Joseph ends where it instesects Hwy 212, the Beartooth outside of the Northeast Entrance to Yellowstone.. You are immediately greeted by these signs:

Today we will crash into one of our little buddies:

And if the crash doesn't kill you, you will freeze to death:

I wonder... Do bears eat frozen food?

Images from the Beartooth Hwy:

Part of the romance of this road is that Mike (Black Hills) tells us it is only open a few months a year. I hope it doesn't snow... would hate to be locked in...

Somewhere in here is Beartooth Mountain...

Your lifeless, frozen, half bear eaten body will then be buried by a rockslide:

The route out of the mountains on the Montana side is actually a better ride than on the Wyoming side:

See the road?


Off the mountain the remainder of the ride is high speed canyon riding to Red Lodge:

This is the last image I took on the road:

Even though I was still about 1700 miles from home... for me psychologically the trip ended here. The remainder of the ride home was a three long interstate days, there wasn't much to see and I really didn't feel like making the effort to take any photos.

This was a great trip. Rode with some great people... Made some great friends and saw little chunck of the country. 361 photographs (I didn't count them the webhosting site did), I'm sure that those of you who have read this mess are glad it's not sucking the life out of your computer menmory any more.

Top 5 roads;

1 HWY 550 from Ouray to Silverton Colorado... I love this road.
2 The Blue Ridge Parkway.... almost forgot about didn't you?
3 Chief Joseph Hwy (in this segment)
4 Tied for 4th are Trail Ridge in Rocky Mountain National Park, EstesCo.
and The Beartooth Hwy (in this segment as well).
5 Hwy 50 from Gunnison to Montrose.... This may not really be one of
The top 5, but I had a blast riding it.

Hey Nate: My bike is faster than yours....

WAH... There are guard rails on the Chief Joseph and on the Montana side of the Beartooth... Many, perhaps most, other places not much.

Not here for instance (you're looking at the road ahead) and it's a long way down....
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1 - 1 of 25 Posts's a few years later and I stumbled on this post while searching for something else. Looks like a few photos have been lost over time. But it still get's the point of one awesome ride across. Absolutely LOVED the humor and the running caution sign gags.

Well done! I know just how long it takes to put a post like this together. Great job and it should not be lost to time. :cheers:

I'm going to refer back to this post I think for the mapping in the future. Again. Thanks!

Now...BACK TO THE FUTURE! :bleh:
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