Arizona
April 11, 2012 - April 24 2012

Bill, David and I started talking about a trip to Arizona one day last winter. It all got started when David said he'd like to see the meteor impact crater near Winslow, AZ. We decided we'd each put together a list of things we'd like to see in Arizona and someone would complile them into a coherent plan for a ride.

Shortly after we decided we were going to ride to Arizona, Rawhyde Adventures announced they were holding a rally near Flagstaff on April 17, 2012 in partnership with the Overland Expo folks. Bill and I suggested we combine the two trips - David wasn't interested in the Rawhyde Rally but said he had a friend in Kingman that he would like to visit while Bill and I attended the Rawhyde/Overland event. A plan was taking shape.

As April approached, two things happened to put little wrinkles into the trip. First, Bill's wife was experiencing some health issues and he felt he should stay home to support her rather than take off on a motorcycle ride. Second, it became obvious that David and I have two different approaches to trip planning. David is a "spur of the moment" kind of guy and would rather keep the planning loose to maintain maximum flexibility. I, on the other hand, am very anal about my trip planning - in fact, I have almost as much fun planning a trip as I do making a trip.

So ........... I proceeded to start recalling Arizona stories from my riding buddies, looking at maps, and marking off things I wanted to see. The North Rim of Grand Canyon and in particular, the Toroweap overlook has been on my bucket list for several years - I moved it to the top of my list. Also, we had been talking about exploring the dirt roads south of Austin, NV for some time. We'd planned a trip earlier in the spring, but had been forced to abort it because of bad weather. It seemed logical, since it was right on the way to Arizona, to check it out on this trip. Also, Zion National Park would be easy to include in our way to Arizona. And .......... not to forget the meteor crater that started the whole process.

By the time I was finished, I had plotted a 7 day ride from Folsom to Flagstaff that hit all these locations plus a couple more. We decided to leave on May 11, arrive in Flagstaff on May 17 and split up - me to the Rawhyde Rally at Mormon Lake and David to Kingman to visit his friend. David was kind enough to buy into my plans and it went unspoken that we would play it by ear after we met up after the Rawhyde Rally. The map above shows our entire route for the trip - there and back.

April 11, 2012
Folsom, CA to Fallon, NV

We met up at 0900 at Early Toast, a restaurant in Folsom. I rode my BMW R1200GS and was loaded up with camping gear as well the rest of my clothing and equipment for an extended ride. David rode his Suzuki DL650 ( "WeeStrom") and was packed a little lighter since he wasn't going to be camping.

I had planned out a pretty easy day's ride to get started. Although we were taking the long way to Fallon along the more scenic secondary roads, the distance was only 230 miles - all paved - and we had plenty of time to set a relaxed pace. After breakfast, we headed east and generally followed Hwy 50 to Pollock Pines. There are many scenic, local roads that offer more pleasant riding than Hwy 50 itself and this time we followed Green Valley Rd north of Hwy 50 to Placerville, then Pleasant Valley Rd and Sly Park Rd south of Hwy 50 to Pollock Pines. These roads provide plenty of scenery and good motorcycle riding.

At Pollock Pines we jumped on Hwy 50 and rode all the way to Lake Tahoe.

 

We then rode up the west side of Lake Tahoe on Hwy 89. There are many great views of Lake Tahoe along this highway and plenty of twisty roads to keep one's interest. It had been several years since I had taken this route and I was surprised that it was so scenic - I guess my failing memory has some advantages.

We continued on around the north end of Lake Tahoe then took the Mt. Rose Highway over to Hwy 395. Mt. Rose is the highest ski area in the Tahoe area and we found ourselves riding in very cool temperatures nearing 9,000 feet in elevation. Over 8,000 feet there was still a little snow on the ground.

We then headed southeast on Geiger Grade Rd to Virginia City, NV. There was some construction at the base of the grade and we were first in line. This was great ....... there would be no RVs, trucks, or slow cars to curtail our enjoyment of climbing the curvy, climbing, mountain road at a brisk pace. Unfortunately, the construction work put a few obstacles in our way - things like loose gravel here and there and lanes that were 3" higher than the adjacent lane. I have to say that I enjoyed my ride over the summit, anyway.

Virginia City is an interesting place - a little touristy, but interesting. It is one of Nevada's oldest cities and was a mining boomtown as a result of the Comstock Lode silver strike of 1859. I read somewhere that Virginia City is where Samual Clemens first used his famous pen name while a reporter for the local newspaper. Some of the buildings from its heyday still exist.

We stopped at a BBQ place at the south end of town and split an excellent BBQ pork sandwich. When we were finished eating, we took a walk around town. The most interesting thing, in my view, was St. Mary's Catholic Church. I found the view of it stunning.

We went inside and admired its exquisite interior. This church is apparently home to a unique pipe organ. It seems that members of the church (docents?) were expecting some organ experts to arrive to give them some of the history of the organ and some of the technical aspects of it. I heard someone playing a few notes on the organ and made a comment to David about it. One of the women (docent?) somehow decided that I was one of the organ experts and began asking me questions. I hemmed and hawed for a minute before one of the real experts walked up and saved me. Strange - I wonder how many organ experts show up in full riding gear complete with boots.

We left Virginia City by way of Six Mile Canyon Rd and cut across the countryside to Hwy 50.

Once on Hwy 50, it was only about 45 miles to Fallon and soon we were checked in at the local Motel 6. I had told people they could follow our trip by checking on my SPOT page. SPOT is a satellite tracking device that I can use to summon help if I break down out in the boondocks. It has the added ability to track my location every 10 minutes and post my location on a Google Map. People to whom I've given the address, can see where I am at almost any given time. Anyway ............. once in the motel, I broke out my laptop and did a quick check of my track to see what others might be seeing. The answer was NOTHING! My SPOT didn't seem to be working. After replacing batteries and doing some other checks, I called SPOT technical support and they confirmed that my device was bad and needed to be replaced. Great! Since David and I were heading off road tomorrow, I felt an empty feeling about being out of touch in the wilderness. Funny how one gets spoiled. Four or five years ago I was heading out into the wilderness all alone with no way to contact anyone and nobody to go for help and didn't think a thing about it. I guess I'm getting soft in my old age.

It turns out that Linda also has a SPOT, so I called to see if she could send it to our next motel. Since today was Friday, Monday was the earliest she could get it anywhere. So .......... she sent it to the Best Western in Kanab, UT, our destination for Monday.

Miles traveled today: 230
Miles traveled total:   230

Click Here to see our GPS tracks on Google Earth
Click Here to see more photos from today

April 12, 2012
Fallon, NV to Tonopah, NV

David and I have a pretty liesurely start to every day. We get up about 6:30 AM, clean up a little, go get something to eat, come back to our rooms, have our daily constitutionals, pack up, suit up and finally get going about 8:30 AM. When I'm alone, I just get up, pack up and take off - I don't stop for breakfast until I've put 100 miles behind me. Strangely, I think I like David's way better and may be changing the way I travel when I'm alone.

We headed east towards Austin, NV where we would leave the pavement and begin our explorations of the country between Austin and Tonopah. The two main attractions were a place called Diana's Punch Bowl and Belmont, a living ghost town. The 112 miles between Fallon and Austin illustrate why Hwy 50 road is called "The lonliest highway in America".

About the only thing out of the ordinary that happened as we blasted across the desert was that we were joined by another motorcyclist that pulled up behind David and stayed with us the rest of the way to Austin. We all stopped for gas in Austin and David chatted with the fellow for a little while as he was waiting for David to finish with the pump. After fueling up, the guy said he was going to stop for coffee in the restaurant up ahead and invited us to join him. David and I, however, were a little anxious to start our dirt road adventure and we continued on.

The road east out of Austin climbs quickly and has a lot of nice twisties for a great motorcycle ride. About 10 miles up the road, we took Hwy 376 south and almost immediately turned off onto FS-001, and started off on our little dirt road adventure - neither of us been in the area before and didn't know anyone else who had been in the area. Not to worry. The dirt roads were in excellent shape and very interesting. The road surface varied from smooth, graded gravel to plain old dirt in some areas. Although they were generally in great condition, there were a few places here and there that could cause problems if a rider isn't paying attention. The scenery also varied - flat, desert-like, wide valley floors; a few climbs over mountains complete with lots of curvy switchbacks and a few rough places, lots of neat little desert valleys ...... a great ride.

Diana's Punchbowl was a complete surprise and if we were to see nothing else, made the trip worthwhile. At first glance, it looked like a little bump on the valley floor. This view, however, is a little deceiving, since it it over a mile off the road. At first I wasn't even 100% sure this was Diana's Punchbowl - there were no signs, just a little dirt road heading over to the 'bump'.

We had to stop to open a gate at the base of the 'bump'. It looked like a road went right up to the top .......... so off I went. I'm glad I wasn't going real fast - one could ride right off into the crater. No signs, no fences, nothing to warn the unwary.

Panoramic View - use the SCROLL BAR to SCROLL --------------------->

It's hard to estimate how deep it is - maybe 25 feet. At the bottom is a pool of clear, hot, deep water. A fascinating place and David and I stayed around the area for quite a while.

We continued south on roads that stayed in good condition. We came to a fork in the road and the GPS told us to take the one that didn't seem right. We decided to ignore the GPS and continue on the main road for 5 miles and see where it took us. It turned out the GPS just wanted us to take a little shortcut - about 3 miles later the two roads joined up.

Belmont is a ghost town that saw its peak in the late 1860s after a silver strike. In 1867 it was made the county seat of Nye County and they say that 15,000 people lived there. The mines soon played out, however, and in 1905 the country seat was moved to Tonopah as the population of Belmont dwindled.

Today Belmont is a ghost town and many of the old buildings remain - some of them in pretty good shape and some of them look like they have been restored. People are apparently still living in the area and there's even a small store. I understand there are plans to restore this old ghost town, but since it's on goverment land the hurdles are considerable.

On the way back to pavement, we also rode through Manhattan, another small town ghost town with a few people still living in it. I thought I shot some photos, but I can't seem to find them. Maybe it wasn't that interesting - I don't remember anything about it.

A few miles west of Manhattan we picked up Hwy 376 and we were back on pavement only 45 miles from Tonopah. We pulled into Tonopah about 4:00 PM and had plenty of time to relax. The motel clerk recommended we walk up the newly remodeled Mizpah Hotel for dinner. It turned out to be a good move and we both enjoyed some great food as we reviewed our day.

Miles traveled today: 266
Miles traveled total:   496

Click Here to see our GPS tracks on Google Earth
Click Here to see more photos from today

April 13, 2012
Tonopah, NV to Kanab, UT

Tonopah has a pioneer cemetery that I've always meant to visit but never seemed to do. When I made a Facebook post last night, one of my friends reminded me to check out the cemetery. The time seemed right this time so we made our way there right after breakfast.

Someone has taken the time to mark each grave with the person's name and the manner of death. Each marker is unique and together they tell a tale of life in the area from 1901 - 1911. The photo below shows one of the markers as an example. Check out the rest of the day's photos for more.

Neither of us was expecting much excitement out of today's ride. It was going to be all pavement and we had to make 400 miles to Kanab since I'd made a reservation at the local Best Western. One of my concerns was making it to the next fuel. At the 75-80 mph speeds we were expecting to ride and the low mileage that comes with high speeds, my range is only about 200 miles. Throw in a little headwind and making the 182 miles to Caliente gets thrown into a little doubt.

Rachel, NV is a very small place with a store about halfway to Caliente. Linda and I traveled through Rachel in the fall of 2010 and I knew there were no fuel pumps there. I verified that with a phone call a couple of weeks before we left on this trip. Fortunately for us, the lady said they kept some 5-gallon cans of fuel around in case of emergencies and for motorcycles, since many motorcycles don't have the range to make it from Tonopah to Caliente. I was counting on using some of that fuel. David, on the other hand, has a about 50 miles further range and he wasn't worried a bit. As we approached Rachel, a sign said "Caliente: 82 miles" - I checked my bike's computer and it told me I had 80 miles before I ran out of fuel. I was happy to pay the $5 per gallon price for fuel out of a gas can when we arrived.

Since Rachel is very close to the famous Area 51, it has an "ET" theme and there is a lot of fun stuff to see around the place. There is a small settlement of people who all seem to live in trailer houses. The fellow that filled up my bike from a 5-gallon can said there used to be a mine in the area, but nowadays almost everyone there is retired.

We spent a little time in Rachel, talking with the locals and enjoying some cool drinks. I wouldn't say it was too hot, but it was definitely warm

Linda and I stopped in Caliente on our 2010 road trip to have a picnic lunch at their local park - we thought it was kind of a neat little town. David and I, however, just motored on through this time. Both of us had been here before and couldn't remember anything worth stopping for.

We motored on into Utah on Hwy 56 then headed south on Hwy 18 towards St. George, UT. As we dropped down into St. George, it actually started to get very warm with temperatures in the high 90s.

We then picked up Hwy 9 and followed it through Hurricane, UT and through Zion National Park - temperatures remained hot until we started gaining elevation in the park. As I showed the ranger my "Golden Age Passport", I wondered how many time it had paid for itself in the 9 years I've had it. I paid $10 for the pass and it saved me $25 just for today.

I've been through Zion several times before, but it still strikes a little awe in my heart. Mother Nature wasn't fooling around when she created this place.

We planned to stay two days and three nights in Kanab and make day trips to Toroweap and the North Rim. When I made the reservations, however, they were already booked up for the third night and it looked like we would be scrambling to find a room for May 14. The reason for all the activity is that the road to the North Rim officially opens on May 15 and lots of people are anxious to get in. Luckily, when we checked in this evening, a room for the 14th had opened up and we quickly snatched it up. I love it when a plan comes together.

It was a little busy at check-in and I forgot to see if the SPOT Linda sent had arrived. After we got the bikes unpacked and we were settled in our rooms, I went back to the desk - it had arrived earlier in the afternoon. I felt a lot better about tomorrow's ride to Toroweap.

There was a great little restaurant right across the street and tonight we enjoyed the first of what would turn out to be three dinners at the same place. I had some kind of chicken stir fry that I liked so much that I had it every night we were there.

Miles traveled today: 384
Miles traveled total:   880

Click Here to see our GPS tracks on Google Earth
Click Here to see more photos from today

April 14, 2012
Daytrip out of Kanab - Toroweap Overlook

For me, today was the big day. The Toroweap Overlook of Grand Canyon has been on my bucket list for several years, since I read a ride report on Advrider. Since then I have read several reports and talked to a couple of people who have been there. Some say it is easy ........ some say otherwise. It appears to depend on the weather - if it has recently rained, the road is impassable, if it hasn't rained for a long time, the road is easy. We weren't sure what to expect. It was very early in the season. In fact, the road to the North Rim didn't open until the next day. I wasn't successful in my attempts to see what kind of winter they'd had and for all I knew, the road wasn't even open. Also, the evening before, a few thunderstorms drifted by to the north. There was only one way to find out and that was to give it a shot.

Once leaving pavement south of Fredonia, AZ, the way to Toroweap (aka Tuweep) consists of about 60 miles of dirt roads. The weather was warm and skies were clear and blue. The road, too, was in excellent shape - well graded gravel and dry enough so David followed at a reasonable dust interval. I was actually a little disappointed that it was so easy, but decided to withhold judgement until we were actually there. Sometimes these roads can have a surprise for the unsuspecting rider.

The first 50 miles or so went by quickly and there were no suprises - there was just enough variety to keep it interesting. About 5 miles from Toroweap, the road narrowed and got a little more interesting, but it was still pretty easy riding. About two miles from the overlook, we passed a sign near a couple of building that announced we were passing through the "Tuweep Metropolitan Area", and the road became more interesting, still. I was lucky enough to be in the right position when I encountered the surpise - a sharp right-hand turn, followed by a steep grade with rocky steps complicated by loose rocks strewn around with some sand for good measure. I happened to be on the left of the roadway which happened to be the best line. When I made it to the top, I quickly stopped and got out my camera. My first thought was to warn David, but my evil nature prevailed and I just waited for the photo op.

No riders or motorcycles were injured in the making of this photograph. We had a couple of laughs and rode on. These kinds of little 'tip overs' are common in the world of 'adventure motorcycling' and seldom have serious consequences. They usually don't get so well documented, however.

After a couple of more miles of fairly challenging road, we made it to the rim of Grand Canyon. It was almost surreal - not a soul around, no signs, no fences or railings, no concrete, no man made objects other than a single picnic table. David rode over and parked in the shade by the picnic table, but I just continued riding on the rock until I was as close to edge as I dared.

After David took this shot, I moved my motorcycle to the shade and David moved out to the edge for his shot. Very exciting stuff. After both bikes were parked and we had stripped off our jackets, we spent a couple of hours walking up and down the rim of the canyon taking photographs. Our little minds really have trouble taking in something so large and spectacular. I had a moment when I was standing as near to the edge as I could bear, waiting for David to switch cameras as he was taking a photo of me. I was looking across the canyon, trying, but not succeeding to NOT look down, when a breeze came up that was strong enough to make me to brace myself. As the weird feeling came upon me from the breeze, a small bird soared by about 20 feet in front of me. I can't describe the sense of disorientation I felt - when I recovered without going over the edge, I decided that I'd had enough rim walking for the day.


You can see me in the upper right of this photo - that's as close as I dared get


For more photos from Toroweap (Tuweep) click the link for all of today's photos

Before we headed back, we sat in the shade, drank water and finished off a couple of energy bars. Just as we were preparing to leave, we saw a Chevy Suburban slowly making its way down the road. As the occupants headed for the rim on foot, they passed close by and we exchanged a few pleasantries.

On our ride back, we decided to take a little detour to check out the road to Mt. Trumbull - we had seen the sign on our way up. We were expecting a road right to the top of the mountain, hoping for a lookout or something. Unfortunately, nothing was there but a campground and the road just runs past Mt. Trumbull without climbing much. We rode up to the campground, turned around, and headed back for Kanab.

On the way to Toroweap in the morning, we saw a sign to the Pipe Spring National Monument on Hwy 389. Since we had plenty of time, we decided to run over there to check it out. I hate to say it, but for me, it was a waste of time. It turns out there is a small spring that had been the center of life for the local indians for hundreds of years. When the Mormons arrive in the area, they built a small fort there. There was a nice visitor center, a restored fort, a few restored buildings and lots of nice exhibits.

I'm not sure how I feel about the goverment spending money on these types of things. This little operation obviously cost millions of dollars to build and hundreds of thousands each year to keep going. Preserving History? Maybe. But doesn't every single place in the country have a history to preserve? You can't build a monument to everything.

The ranger was so nice that we had to take a little tour around the place. Neither David nor I was impressed, although someone had obviously gone to a lot of work to make it interesting. I guess I'm just getting cynical in my old age.

After we left Pipe Spring National Monument, we made our way back to Kanab and spent a relaxing evening.

David and I have a fallen into a very simple evening routine. After we get checked into the motel, we unpack the bikes, get out of our riding clothes and relax for a bit. I always pick the bed closest to the bathroom because of my nocturnal missions (not emissions, sadly) during the night. I suspect in a few years, David will be wanting to get closer to the bathroom - I hope I'm still around to argue with him about it. After a little relaxing and some checking for urgent voice messages, text messages, and email, we go get something to eat. So far we haven't had any disagreements about where to go - we're both easy to get along with, I guess. After dinner, it's back to the motel room and out with the laptops. We then fool around with our photos, email, facebook, gps tracks, check the weather, and a host of other things. Of course, during all that time we talk about the day's ride and speculate about tomorrow's ride. 10:00 PM rolls around very quickly and we're both ready to hit the rack. Not too exciting, but it seems to work for both of us.

Miles traveled today:   185
Miles traveled total:   1065

Click Here to see our GPS tracks on Google Earth
Click Here to see more photos from today

April 15, 2012
Daytrip out of Kanab - The North Rim

Today promises to be another great day, but again, we have no idea what to expect. This is the first day the road to the North Rim is open. It will be all pavement to the North Rim itself, but we have some explorations planned to some of the overlooks that can be reached only by dirt roads. We're hoping it won't be too early in the season for these explorations.

The first surprise is how lush and green it is on the north side of Grand Canyon - completely unexpected. Everywhere else along the canyon had been high desert country with lots of rock and sagebrush and little else. Additionally, the North Rim is very high - between 8,000 and 9,000 feet - and I didn't expect many trees at those elevations. Not so! Almost the entire ride on Hwy 67 south of Hwy 89 is lush and green with plenty of timber. The photo below is fairly typical of the view. Hwy 67 was freshly paved and traffic was light in spite of it being opening day on the North Rim.


When we stopped at the park entrance, my "Golden Age Passport" paid for itself (2-1/2 times over) again. When we got to the parking lot at the end of Hwy 67, we parked our bikes and walked to the overlook. At an elevation of nearly 9,000 feet, the rim here is about 3,000 feet higher than the rim at Toroweap and the views are even more spectacular. We spent a lot of time walking to the various viewing spots and clicking photos.

Panoramic View - use the SCROLL BAR to SCROLL --------------------->

As we were heading back to our bikes, we encountered two bicyclists on a sidewalk. The sidewalk was only wide enough for two people and the bicyclists drifted to their left as we drifted to our right, putting us on a collision course. I asked them: "Are you guys from England?" One replied: "Actually we're from Austrailia." We talked with these follows for quite a while. They had flown into Los Angeles from Austrailia with their bicycles and ridden them all the way to the North Rim and had plenty of stories to tell. These folks riding bicycles always make me feel like a sissy.

When we finally broke away from the bicyclists, we headed for the Point Imperial Overlook

Then the Cape Royal Overlook. Each of these views offers a different look at different parts of the canyon and each is spectacular in its own way. If you haven't been to the North Rim, you haven't seen Grand Canyon!

We still had some time left to do a little exploring and a ranger had told us that all the dirt roads were in pretty good shape and she recommended we check out the Saddle Mountain Overlook. So, off we went. It is about 13 miles of very interesting dirt road to this overlook - not the well graded gravel we had become used to. This road had plenty of gravel, but there were also some rocky places, some downed trees, and some two-track - nothing too difficult, mind you ............. just enough to be interesting.

It was worth the ride ......... another spectacular view. Here, however, we were the only ones to see it. The other viewpoints are accessible by paved roads and it doesn't take much effort to get to them. The Saddle Mountain Overlook, however, can only be reached by someone who really wants to get there - that makes it special, somehow. And that folks, is why David and I ride "Adventure Motorcycles".

We stopped for fuel at a little store just outside the park and went inside for some refreshment. We chatted some with the gals running the place before heading back to the motel. By now it was cooling down at the higher elevations and I was plenty happy as we started losing elevation and gaining temperatures.

Once back at the motel we cleaned up a little, ate dinner, and started sifting through the many photos we shot. Don't forget to check them out by clicking on the link below.

Miles traveled today:   234
Miles traveled total:   1299

Click Here to see our GPS tracks on Google Earth
Click Here to see more photos from today

April 16, 2012
Kanab, UT to Flagstaff, AZ

Our destination for the day was Flagstaff. It's only about 200 miles by the main highways so we had a slightly different route in mind. First off we headed for Glen Canyon Dam - we'd both been there before but figured it deserved a second look. The ride along Hwy 89A was pleasant with great weather and more fantastic scenery.

An hour or so down the road I saw a road heading off to the right with a sign saying "Lee's Ferry". Somewhere in the dim recesses of my mind, I recalled reading something about it once, so I followed the road. As we headed for the river, we saw lots of rock formations that reminded me a lot of the country around Torrey, UT and Zion National Park.

Lee's Ferry is considered the beginning of the Grand Canyon. It is also the only place within Glen Canyon where visitors can drive to the Colorado River in over 700 miles of Canyon Country.

We didn't go all the way to the park. It looked to us like the road ended at a boat launch area and didn't look very interesting from where we stopped, so we turned around after reaching the Colorado River. After doing some reading about Lee's Ferry, I wish we would have gone further. Apparently there are still a few old buildings from the 1870s plus an abandoned steam boat.

Almost immediately after getting back onto Hwy 89A, the highway crosses the Colorado River at the Navajo Bridge. There are actually two bridges there, one built in 1927 and a modern bridge currently carrying traffic built in 1995. To the casual observer, these bridges look identical, although the old bridge isn't up to current standards. We stopped there for a while and David chatted with the local indians selling jewelry from a row of stands between the bridges. David wound up buying some jewlry for his wife while I wandered around checking out the sights. I don't like haggling with these types of vendors, but I realize that haggling is required to keep from getting screwed. For that reason, I never buy souvenirs from roadside stands. I guess I'd rather get screwed by corporate America.

Shortly after we left Navajo Bridge and headed for Glen Canyon Dam, I noticed that my camera was no longer working. I hang it around my neck so that I can easily access it when there is something to shoot. Unfortunately, this means it takes a lot of abuse - not only the banging around, but also dust and dirt from all the dirt roads I travel plus extremes in temperature. This is the third camera to die on me in this manner. At Glen Canyon Dam, I had only my cell phone do document our visit.

We spent a lot of time at Glen Canyon Dam. We walked out on the bridge for some photos and also went inside the visitor center. In his working life, David worked for a power company and did a lot of work with hydroelectric power plants. He was very interested in all the specs about the dam and its generators and spent a lot of time looking at all the exhibits. I was an engineer in my prior life and I also have some interest in such things, although it's not quite as strong as David's.

As we drove through Page, AZ on our way to Glen Canyon Dam, I noticed a Walmart just of the highway and decided to replace my camera. The salesman was very helpful and in about 15 minutes, I walked out of there with a 16 megapixel Fuji "point & shoot" for $79 plus tax and license. This is the first shot ever taken with my new camera - right outside the Walmart in Page, AZ.

We then headed for our next adventure. While looking over maps for things to see as I was scoping out a route to Flagstaff, I noticed a reference to White Mesa Natural Bridge out in the middle of the Navajo Indian Reservation near a very small town called Kaibeto, AZ. Since the only access was by dirt roads, it seemed like a natural destination for a couple of "adventure riders". All we had to go by was some GPS coordinates that I plucked off the map and entered into my GPS.

A couple of miles south of Page, AZ we headed east on Hwy 98 towards the reservation. When the GPS directed us, we turned off onto Bia 16, a wide, poorly maintained dirt road. After a few miles, the GPS directed us onto a "unpaved road" with no name - this is usually not a good sign, but we had no choice but to follow the directions. This road turned out to be really sandy and we spent the next couple of hours wallowing around in very deep sand. We never did find the natural bridge. We ran into a local guy out on one of the roads and asked him about it. He said he'd never heard of such a thing. The maze of roads eventually led us to Hwy 160 and pavement about 30 miles northeast of a place called Tuba City and we continued on to Flagstaff.


Sand isn't my favorite condition

We stopped in Tuba City for fuel and something cold to drink. As we were sitting in the shade, enjoying a Gatorade, an old Indian fellow walked up and started talking to us. He seemed to know the area pretty well and he was recommending all kinds of places we should be visiting. He was a personable old guy and both of us enjoyed talking to him. I kind of expected him to hit us up for some cash, but he never did. He did mention that he was traveling on foot.

Flagstaff was only 75 miles or so away and we had some time to kill. David spotted a scenic route just north of Flagstaff that ran through the Wupatki National Monument and the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument so we decided to to take the tour. Although the ride was much more pleasant than blasting down the freeway, we didn't see much of great interest. This is a shot of Sunset Crater Volcano which erupted about 900 years ago and blanketed about 800 square miles of surrounding countryside.

After we checked into the local Best Western and had some dinner, David and I began making plans for our separation the next day and joining up after the Rawhyde Rally was over on Sunday. My initial thought was to make a reservation at this very Best Western for Sunday night and meet up here sometime Sunday afternoon. David wasn't crazy about this motel because of several features his didn't find friendly. He was right, the room was small for a Best Western and not very well organized - it also had only an inside entrance. We both prefer the old style motels that allow you park right in front of the door to your room. Unfortunately, these types of motels are getting harder to find - I have no idea why. Security? Liability? Anyway, as we discussed out options, David changed his mind and agreed to meet back up at this motel. It was just too easy - we were already here, we both knew where it was, and it really wasn't too bad a place ........... so we went back to the front desk and made the reservation for Sunday night.

Miles traveled today:   334
Miles traveled total:   1633

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April 17, 2012
Flagstaff, AZ to Mormon Lake Campgound

Today is the day that David and I split up for a while. I'm off to the Rawhyde Rally at Mormon Lake until April 20. While I'm off rallying, David is headed to Kingman to visit and ride with a friend of his. Neither of us is expected at our destinations until the afternoon, so we headed east out of Flagstaff on Interstate 40 for about 50 miles to Meteor Crater, the world's best preserved meteorite impact site. This site had been one of the primary reasons we decided to go on this ride. I can't say much for the ride - blasting down a freeway is my least favorite place to ride - but I have to say the ride was worth it.

As we were standing on the overlook, David asked me how far I thought it was to the other side of the crater. I took a WAG of about 1,000 feet. Another old guy overheard us and volunteered that it was about 4,000 feet across. I expressed disbelief until he pointed out that the crater was 570 feet deep and that it was probably 1,000 feet to another nearby observation point just below us. It's hard to argue with facts ................. After that little discussion, I took another good look and it actually did look bigger.

Panoramic View - use the SCROLL BAR to SCROLL --------------------->

When we got back to the Flagstaff area, we pulled into fast food place (Burger King?) for something cold to drink and to have one last confab before heading off in separate directions. As we walked over to sit down, we were both surprised to see that same old Indian gentleman we'd talked to the day before in Tuba City, about 80 miles away. What are the odds of a chance meeting like this? Pretty damn long, I'd guess. Naturally, he came over and sat with us, and again, offered his opinions on places we should be checking out. Again, it wasn't unpleasant talking with the old gentleman, he know what he was talking about and had a good sense of humor. He volunteered, however, that he would soon be celebrating his 60th birthday, making him the youngster in the group. When we got up to leave, David went first, and the old guy called me back in a conspiratorial tone of voice. This was it ............ he hit me up for some money explaining how times were tough. I'd already decided that if he made his pitch, I'd give him the $5 bill I had in my pocket, so I handed it over. He expressed his gratitude and we said "Adios". I'm usually not such a nice guy and very seldom do I give money to these beggers. Maybe I'm getting soft in my old age.

Since we were a little east of my turn off to Mormon Lake, David and I both hopped on the Interstate 40 freeway. I was soon heading south on Lake Mary Road to Mormon Lake all by myself - it seemed a little strange to be riding alone after 7 days on the road with a partner. I enjoyed a pleasant, solo, 25 mile ride down to Mormon Lake though a forest environment on the lightly traveled road. When I got to the Mormon Lake vicinity traffic picked up a little, but I wasn't prepared for what I saw as I approached the campground/rally site. It was almost shocking after my peaceful ride. There were thousands of people and vehicles milling all over the area, with tents and RVs all over the place. Luckily for me, the first gate was to the Rawhyde site and there wasn't anyone in front of me. I rode up the the gatekeeper and was directed to the nearby registration table - easy enough. I chatted a little with Barbara as I was checking in and was informed that my friends Mick and Michele had arrived the day before and were already set up. She pointed me to the general area of their camp site and it didn't take me long to find it and get set up.

Mick and Michele weren't in the area because Michele's brother had an accident the night before on the way to the rally. He was riding at night, not 10 miles away from his destination, when he hit an elk - Mormon Lake is an elk preserve. He was very lucky, suffering a cut on his leg and a broken wrist. Mick and Michele were with him at the hospital in Flagstaff and would be back later in the afternoon.

I did a quick tour of the Rawhyde area looking for people I knew, but execpt for Rawhyde staff, there was nary a familiar face. I wandered around the area and took a few photos.

As I wandered around, I began to see a few familiar faces. Mike, a fellow I met in Moab on the White Rim Trail ride. Bob, who I met at the Pike's Peak Rally a couple of years earlier and kept in touch with - I also rode with him in Moab last September. Jim, one of the folks I rode with on the Great Divide Ride in 2009 and again in Leavenworth, WA the previous June. Mick and Michele also showed up sometime later and reported that Michele's brother was doing OK and would be discharged from the hospital the following day. A little later in the day, I ran into Del, my instructor at the Rawhyde "Next Step" class and a great guy.

By the time everyone got their camps set up, and I had visited a little with each person, it was time for dinner and we all enjoyed one of Rawhydes famous meals. By the time we were finished eating, it was dark and after a little more schmoozing, I headed for my tent.

Miles traveled today:   122
Miles traveled total:   1755

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April 18, 2012
Mormon Lake Campgound

Mick, Michele, and I had talked about going on one of the organized rides this morning. After breakfast we all joined up with Ryan, one of the Rawhyde guys, and followed him down the road. We spent the morning riding a 60 mile loop of forest service roads west of camp. Ryan had done some exploring of the area in the days preceding the rally and had plenty of interesting detours off the main forest roads. Although this was billed as an "easy" ride, some of the places had their challenges and it didn't pay to get too relaxed. One of our riders got caught up in some deep ruts and broke his collar bone. We stashed his motorcycle with some nearby campers and Ryan rode the guy two-up to the pavement. Once on pavement, Mick carried him two-up to the hospital in Flagstaff about 25 miles away. The rest of us continued our ride. I must have had my hands full with the ride because when we got back to camp, I had only two photographs to document the morning.

After lunch, I decided to forgo the afternoon ride. I injured my ankle in Death Valley a few months ago and it still isn't up to par. I could feel it talking to me and decided to wimp out and save it for another day. I spent the afternoon walking around the Overland Expo area, checking out all the exotic vehicles that rich folks use to explore the world. I doubt we could buy some of these vehicles if we sold the house, all our possesions, and cashed in all our savings.

A little later in the afternoon, the Rawhyde staff put on a little motorcycle rodeo to demonstrate the capabilities of adventure motorcycles and I went over to the bleachers to watch. Since Mick hadn't returned from his hospital transport mission, Michele was also wandering around the area and we wound up watching the rodeo together. During this time Michele's brother showed up and shared his story about the run-in with the elk. He seemed in pretty good spirits considering.

After the rodeo, I mosied back to my tent and took a little nap. Hey ....... I'm on vacation.

Eventually, riders began to trickle in and soon the Rawhyde area was full of people again. I wandered around, talking with people I know, and meeting a few folks I didn't know. Soon, it was getting dark and time for dinner again. It was a lot cooler tonight than the night before and I was more than ready to crawl into my warm sleeping bag when the evening's conversations began to lag.

Miles traveled today:     56
Miles traveled total:   1811

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April 19, 2012
Mormon Lake Campgound

Today, I joined Mick and Michele on a ride to Sedona for lunch. Mick led us over a series of dirt roads west of camp that had been mapped out earlier by the Rawhyde crew. This road, again, was rated "easy", and most of it was. We did, however, encounter one downhill section that was covered with melon-sized rocks with no path between. It is hard to imagine that anyone could consider this section, "easy".

We were all looking forward to the last stretch of road into Sedona, called Schnebly Hill Rd, a very scenic road that drops steeply into the Sedona area. It didn't disappoint. The views are fantastic and the road is a little challenging, with lots of steep grades, sharp turns, rocky steps, and a few loose rocks thrown in for good measure. Not too difficult, but a nice change from well-graded gravel.

As we dropped down into Sedona, the temperature began to rise and it got quite warm. Traffic also picked up when we hit pavement and things were hopping in town. Mick opined, and we all agreed that it was way too crowded in Sedona and maybe it would be better to head south to Cottonwood for lunch. Once in Cottonwood, we stopped at a sandwich shop and had a great lunch. We drank "old fashioned" root beer with our sandwiches and I may have a new favorite soft drink - it really hit the spot.

By the time we finished lunch, it was getting close to 2:00 PM and we figured we didn't have enough time to do much exploring on the way back to camp. We headed south to Camp Verde and wound up gritting our teeth and taking Interstate 17 for about 20 miles before exiting on Stoneman Lake Rd and riding about 15 miles of gravel road back to Mormon Lake Rd. Another 10 miles of easy riding and we were back in camp.

When I showed up for dinner, I looked around for some familiar faces but didn't see anyone. After my plate was filled and I exited the chow tent, I must have looked lost, looking around for somewhere to sit. All the tables were full and not a familiar face in sight. John, one of the Rawhyde staff, a fellow I met on GDR 2009, approached me and told me to follow him. He led me to a table where he, Bill and wife, and Keith from the Rawhyde crew were eating and soon I was surrounded by folks I knew. Mick, Michele and Jim eventually showed up at the table and we had a great dinner and conversation which continued until it was time to again retire.

Miles traveled today:    114
Miles traveled total:   1925

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April 20, 2012
Mormon Lake to Flagstaff, AZ

My original plan for today was to eat breakfast in camp, spend the morning wandering around the Overland Expo, then break camp, load up my bike and ride to Flagstaff to meet David around 3:00 PM at the Best Western. Since I had already seen my fill of the Overland Expo, there was only a continental breakfast and everyone else was making tracks for home, I decided to break camp, pack my bike and take the long way to Flagstaff, stopping along the way for a full bacon and eggs breakfast.

Since I had plenty of time, I slept in a little, then got up and liesurely started to break camp. Everyone else was pretty much doing the same thing, and there was a lot of visiting going on while work was in progress. Eventually the work was done and I was ready to head out. I made the rounds, saying my goodbyes - I was kind of surprised at how many people I felt I owed a "good bye" and it took about 30 minutes to locate those that hadn't already departed. As I rode out of camp, I spotted a few I had missed and there were some shout outs and waving as I motored on.

My plan for getting back to Flagstaff was to head south for a while, then make a big loop through the Sedona area back to Flagstaff through scenic Oak Creek Canyon. So ........... I headed south on Mormon Lake Rd ...

As I approached Hwy 87, it occurred to me that I was getting mighty hungry. It was about 10:00 AM when I left camp and by now, it was getting close to 11:00 AM. My planning was a little lacking and I had no idea where I might find an eating establishment. Shortly after turning right on Hwy 87 a sign said the next town was Strawberry, about 20 miles ahead, so I went right past the turn off to Hwy 260, my planned route. Well, I didn't see a likely eating place in Strawberry, so I turned around and returned to my original plan.

Then next possibility was Camp Verde, about 50 miles away. When I pulled into town, I was happy to see several eating places that looked pretty good and as I pulled into the Valley View Restaurant which advertised "family dining", I had high hopes. The place didn't disappoint. Not only did they have an excellent spread with large portions of great food, the waitress and a bus boy were both very chatty and interested in motorcycles.

I then headed north towards Cottonwood then on to Sedona. It was a Sunday morning and traffic was very light - except in Sedona where it was stop and go for at least a mile. It seems to me that traffic in these little touristy places is worse than commute traffic I had to endure in Los Angeles and Sacramento. The cities at least have some alternative routes ......... these teeny little places usually have only one narrow street, with too many cars, too many pedestrians milling around, and too many signals. I was glad to finally get moving again.

Oak Creek Canyon lived up to its billing. The road was twisty, in good shape and there was some visually stunning sight around every corner.

It was after 3:00 PM when I pulled into Flagstaff so I headed straight for the Best Western and checked in. I was just returning to my bike after dropping off my first load of gear, when I saw David walking into the lobby. I went to greet him and while we were near the desk, I asked the clerk for the location of the laundry facilities. She said they didn't have laundry facilities, but there was a laundromat about 1/2 mile down the road. NO LAUNDRY? That was entirely unacceptable - I had been camping for 4 days and didn't have a clean article of clothing. We were able to get our room cancelled and our money returned without a lot of problem and the desk clerk also located another nearby motel that DID have laundry facilities. This turned out to be an entirely acceptable motel that was actually quite a bit less expensive than the Best Western - all's well that ends well.

After we got settled into the new motel, and my first load of laundry was underway, we got to talking about the solar eclipse that would be visible later in the evening. Since it was the first annular eclipse visible from the United States in 18 years, I was more than a little interested in seeing it. Soon, David, I and the desk clerk were all busy trying to make something to see it. David and I were both working on some kind of pin hole projection viewer, but the desk clerk found something on the Internet about using binoculars. Although we could see the eclipse with the pinhole viewers, the binoculars were much superior. CLICK HERE to see how it's done.

Miles traveled today:    159
Miles traveled total:   2084

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April 21, 2012
Flagstaff, NV to Holbrook, NV

David had arrived in Flagstaff a day early and spent the day mapping out a 5-day route home. He included all the scenic routes he could find and even included some dirt - PERFECT!

He was a little curious to see the Mormon Lake area where the Rawhyde Rally had been held, so we headed south on Lake Mary Rd and followed it all the way past Mormon Lake to Hwy 87. I didn't mind riding this road again - the road is in good shape, there is plenty of great scenery and I even saw a few things I'd missed the first time through.

We headed south on Hwy 87 towards Phoenix and the temperature started to rise as we dropped down from the 7,000 feet elevations of the Flagstaff area. When we pulled in for fuel at a gas station at Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation north of Mesa, AZ, the temperature was 103°. We took a nice long break and drank a lot of cool Gatorade.

As we were enjoying some shade, David dragged out his map and said that we'd missed a turnoff on Hwy 188 to Roosevelt Lake about 40 miles back. After some discussion, we decided to continue on to Mesa, AZ then take the Apache Trail to Lake Roosevelt. The Apache Trail is one of the dirt roads I had on my list of things to check out in Arizona and I was happy to be getting a chance to see what was there. After we rode through Apache Junction, we had about 15 miles of paved road before it turned to dirt.

The Apache Trail was a lot more rugged and interesting than I had imagined. It follows the Salt River upstream, up a canyon with several small dams and lakes. The canyon is quite steep most of the way and the road gets quite precarious sometimes. The road surface, however, is in pretty good shape and it would be rated as an "easy" ride in my book. In this canyon, we saw the temperature rise to 107°, which seemed really warm.

The east end of the Apache Trail is at Roosevelt Dam which creates a pretty good sized lake. We didn't see much of the lake since Hwy 188 heads directly south away from its shoreline. The dam and a bridge just upstream of the dam provided some photographic opportunities and we took another short break before continuing on.

Panoramic View - use the SCROLL BAR to SCROLL --------------------->

We followed Hwy 188 south then turned north on Hwy 60. Hwy 60 was a very interesting road with lots of mountainous scenery and twisty roads. At some point, it crosses the Salt River Canyon making for some spectacular scenery and some great riding as the highway descends to the bottom of the canyon then climbs out the other side.

We continued north on Hwy 188 to a town called Show Low, AZ. According to Wikipedia, there are two stories about how this town got this strange name, both of them related to a cut of the cards between two men, C.E. Cooley and Marion Clark. The first story says they cut cards to determine who had to leave town. Clark said, "If you can show low, you win." Cooley turned up the deuce of clubs (the lowest possible card) and replied, "Show low it is." The second story says the two men were in a race for mayor and the final vote was a tie. In this story they cut cards to see who would be mayor - Cooley turned up the duece of clubs and became the town's first mayor. Show Low's main street is named "Deuce of Clubs" in remembrance.

We headed north on Hwy 77 and passed through another town with the strange name of Snowflake, AZ. I couldn't wait to see why a town in Arizona would have such a name. According to Wikipedia, the name comes its founders, Erastus Snow and William Jordan Flake, two Mormon pioneers.

A little later we pulled into Holbrook, AZ where we decided to spend the night. It had been a pretty damn good day of riding - scenery varying from forested mountains to desert to river canyons with every kind of road condition imaginable - two-lane asphalt, four-lane freeway, gravel roads, dirt roads, twisties, high speed straight stretches. The total distance for the day was 398 miles by my GPS. A quick look a map will verify that Holbrook, AZ is only 89 miles east of Flagstaff, AZ on Interstate 40. I guess David wasn't too interested in making time when he laid out our route home.

Miles traveled today:    398
Miles traveled total:   2482

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April 22, 2012
Holbrook, NV to Torrey, UT

We were both really looking forward to today and riding through Monument Valley. We headed north out of Holbrook, AZ on Hwy 77. About 30 minutes down the road, David made his "U-turn" hand signal, pulled over and said he'd missed a turn-off. We went back a short distance and there was a small dirt road heading off to the east - my GPS said it was named Bia 15, which I assumed was a Bureau of Indian Affairs road. This was a tough little road - lots of sand, some of it was quite deep - and we really didn't see much of interest. After about 15 miles, we picked up pavement again as we came the back way into a very small settlement on the reservation called Greasewood, AZ. It was just a short cut, I guess and made me wonder a little about what was in store for the day.

We continued along on Bia 15 until it intersected with Hwy 191, then we followed Hwy 191 north. As we neared the Arizona/Utah border, we took Hwy 160 towards the west then headed north again on Hwy 163. We soon began to see some of the rock formations of Monument Valley that are familiar from the many western movies that have been shot in the area.

Once out of Monument Valley, we continued north and soon started seeing signs to Mexican Hat. I wasn't sure what to expect other than that David had been talking about stopping for lunch there to eat an indian taco - he'd been through the area some years back and had evidently been quite impressed with their food. As we neared Mexican Hat, the road suddenly plunged down a very steep grade, across a bridge, and up the other side of the canyon cut by the San Juan River. Immediately after the bridge there was a very sharp left turn into a small collection of buildings that rest just below a 100 feet high rocky cliff about. Apparently this collection of buildings is Mexican Hat and includes the restaurant where David planned to eat. It was very warm at the bottom of that canyon. We went in to eat and found ourselves to be the only customers - we ordered the indian tacos and I was amazed at how much food was there. It was a huge bowl, made of what is called frybread ,about two inches deep and covering an entire plate. This frybread bowl was filled to the brim with beans, ground beef, tomatos, lettuce, cheese, and other goodies. As I started to eat it I couldn't imagine finishing it. It was very tasty, however, and both of us wound up with clean plates - no wonder I have trouble keeping my girlish figure.

A little further up the road, David pulled over and pointed out the rock formation known as Mexican Hat and the namesake of the town. It was pretty far off the road and I had to zoom in pretty far for this photo. There was a dirt road heading off in that direction, but we had a long way to go and decided to forgo that little adventure. In retrospect, I kind of wish we'd taken a look.

David had mentioned that just north of Mexican Hat, we would encounter another short stretch of dirt road and a spectacular climb. About 5 miles out of Mexican Hat, we took Hwy 261 north and in less than 10 miles the pavement ran out. Soon the road was climbing a nearly vertical cliff with plenty of sharp swithbacks and magnificent views.

The photo below shows the view from the top.

Distance wise, the climb was fairly short, at about 3 miles, and we were soon headed north again on Hwy 261. At Hwy 95 we veered northwest and headed towards Hanksville, UT. As Hwy 95 skirts the east end of Lake Powell, it climbs to a very scenic overview named Hite Overlook. Just downstream of this overlook, Hwy 95 crosses the Colorado River at Hite Crossing. If you look very closely between the two motorcycles, you can see the famous, beautiful arch bridge. I'm not sure why we didn't stop for a photo at the bridge itself.

By now it was after 4:00 PM and we had our eye on Torrey, UT about 100 miles away, as the place to stop for the day ........ so we started making tracks. Capitol Reef National Park, east of Torrey, has some of the most spectacular rock formations anywhere in the world. I've been through the area many time and the views are stunning every time. As we passed through the area, however, it was getting late and we didn't stop for any photos. That didn't stop me from enjoying the views again.

For a while, it looked like we might have to sleep alongside the road. There wasn't a vacancy in any of the Torrey area motels. We rode from one end of town to the other only to be told 'we're full up' at each one. Finally, at the Howard Johnson's Motel, we asked the clerk if she could recommend any place to say. She had a friend who had just opened a small group of cabins near Bicknell, a small town about 15 miles west of Torrey. She placed a phone call, I talked to the owner, and we were in. It turned out to be an OK night - the cabin was clean and comfortable and very reasonably priced at $50. We didn't even have to check in, I just handed her $50 and she handed me the key.

It had been a long day .............. 460 miles of riding, including about 15 miles of fairly difficult sand ........ and it was after 7:00 PM before we got settled into the motel. I slept like a log.

Miles traveled today:    459
Miles traveled total:   2941

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April 23, 2012
Torrey, UT to Ely, NV

We didn't spend any time exploring Capitol Reef National Park since we had another 400 mile ride ahead of us and it would have meant backtracking and spending a couple of hours we couldn't afford. We had a great breakfast in Bicknell and headed south on Hwy 12 towards Bryce Canyon National Park. We soon climbed to over 9,000 feet and there was plenty of scenery and twisty roads on Hwy 12. The weather was perfect and life was good.

We didn't go into Bryce Canyon but we saw plenty of interesting rock formations, anyway. Somewhere before this photo, a diverse group of motorcycles - including a couple of Harley-type cruiser bikes and a couple of crotch rockets, came up behind us as we were doddling along enjoying the scenery. When he saw them gaining on us, David sped up to about 80 mph and put some distance between us. We then relaxed and started sight seeing again - the other bikes came up on us again. David again opened up a gap, but this time the leaders stayed right behind me for a bit before backing off. This continued until I was ready to stop and let them pass us. Apparently David had similar thoughts and we pulled over to take this photo - I was happy to be riding alone, at our own pace, when we got moving again..

When we got to Hwy 89, we headed north into Panguitch, UT and then took Hwy 143 west. There are a lot of interesting signs warning travelers of possible hazardous road conditions ......... finally, there is a sign that says "This is NOT Hwy 89". I guess they've had a few travelers get on this road by mistake and wind up in trouble. I was interested to see the road ahead.

Not too much, it turns out. The road is interesting, however, rising to over 10,500 feet at the summit of Cedar Breaks National Monument. The views are very nice from up there.

We followed Hwy 143 down from Cedar Breaks to Interstate 15 at Parowan, UT. As we descended, the mountains gave way to a rich looking agricultural landscape. We then took some local roads, including some more dirt roads through some farms and ranches, west to Hwy 130 then headed north to Minersville, UT where we picked up Hwy 21 and headed northwest. At Milford, UT the green, agricultural areas began to morph into a high desert environment and started looking like eastern Nevada.

We probably should have fueled up in Milford. Although normally I would have had plenty of fuel to make the next civilization, we were riding into a pretty good headwind and we had been moving right along. I saw a sign giving the distance to Garrison, UT and noted that my bike's computer was telling me that I had only enough range to go about 5 miles further. I was pretty sure that it was another 10 miles or so to fuel from Garrison, so I slowed my speed down to 60 mph. I was afraid David would think I was in trouble as he pulled ahead, but I felt I had no choice but to start conserving fuel. After a while, David slowed down and waited for me, but soon he was pulling away again. After the second time, he also slowed down and I knew he was aware of what I was doing. David has about a 50 mile greater range than I do and he wasn't worried a bit. As we motored along at 60 mph, the fuel situation became better as my mileage picked up and I became confident I would make it with room to spare .............. and I did. We stopped for fuel at a little way station just west of the intersection of Hwy 159 and Hwy 50, right on the Utah/Nevada border. I don't even think this place has a name. It does, however, have a nice little place to eat and we decided to have a late lunch.

After our lunch, it was only about 60 miles to Ely, NV and the ride was uneventful. I have to say that if felt really good to have a full tank of fuel and be able to move faster than a snail. These 60 miles went by pretty quickly.

When we arrived in Ely, we headed straight for the Best Western. You guessed it: "No Vacancy". We then headed for a Ramada Inn that we'd seen coming into town. "No Vacancy" here as well. David asked the two nice ladies behind the desk if they could recommend someplace. They made a call and soon we were on our way to the Jailhouse Motel. With a name like that, I wasn't holding out much hope, but the ladies told us it was a nice place ......... and ....... IT WAS! The price was right, too and included a couple of bucks off breakfast in their restaurant.

Miles traveled today:    395
Miles traveled total:   3336

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April 24, 2012
Ely, NV to Home

As we started to pull away from the motel this morning I noticed that one of my fault lights was on - my low beam headlight bulb was burnt out. That makes two in about 17,000 miles. On my old GS, i replaced low beam bulbs about every 10,000 miles. Apparently everyone with a GS that does a lot of dirt roads experiences these short bulb lives. I always pack a spare bulb and installing a new bulb is not the most difficult procedure in the world and it was soon changed out and we were off on the day's ride to Fallon, NV.

It didn't take long to cover the 150 miles from Ely, NV to Austin, NV. We took a short break for fuel in Austin then headed south on dirt roads to the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park. We'd been talking about visiting this park for the past six months and this seemed an ideal time to take a look. The roads were wide, well maintained gravel and it took less than 2 hours to travel the 60 miles. This park has two attractions: (1) Berlin is a turn-of-the-century ghost town and is maintained in a state of arrested decay similar to the Bodie, CA on Hwy 395 near Bridgeport. Berlin, however, is much smaller consisting of only a few buildings and a stamp mill.

A couple of miles further up the hill is the site of North America’s most abundant concentration and largest known deposit of ichthyosaur fossils. The ichthyosaur fossils, although very interesting, were very hard for me to fully appreciate because the remains of up to 9 individuals are clumped together in one spot. Part of the exhibit is a drawing that shows how to identify the bones of the individuals, but it was very hard for me to visualize - it was even hard for me to tell the bones from the rocks.

There are many theories of how these critters came to be lumped together, but most of them seem rather improbable. The latest theory, according to the ranger, is that this site may be the boneyard of a Kraken - is the Kraken a real creature? I thought they were mythical creatures. Maybe they were having a group grope and God struck them dead.

We left the park, and headed west on Hwy 844 towards Gabbs and Hwy 361. There wasn't more than a few miles of dirt before we hit pavement and the adventure was over. We then turned north on Hwy 361 which led us to Hwy 50 and we rolled into Fallon, NV about 5:00 PM.

Although Fallon is only about 3 hours away from home for me, we decided to stay the night in Fallon to avoid riding at night. We checked in at the local Motel 6, unloaded our bikes, and relaxed a bit before going out to dinner. As we were finishing up dinner, we decided to check the weather reports on my Android. We had heard there was some weather brewing and, although we weren't too concerned, we decided to check it out anyway - smart phones come in real handy sometimes. Much to our surprise, the weather report for night for the Lake Tahoe area was for snow and cold temperatures. Not only that, but the snow was forecast to continue for the next couple of days. It didn't take too long for us to decide that we would try to beat the storm rather than take a chance of getting stranded on the east side of the Sierra for several days - the snow wasn't expected until after midnight. We figured we might run into a little rain west of the Sierra but we wouldn't have to deal with icy roads over the two 7,000+ foot passes between us and home. David had no rain gear and really wasn't equipped for cold temperatures we would encounter, but he decided to tough it out.

So .......... we went back to the motel, packed all our gear, loaded up our bikes, and headed west - it was now about 7:45 PM. The ride to Carson City was pretty routine - it was just getting dark as we neared town and temperatures remained fairly mild. Once we were through Carson City and started up Spooner Pass it became a different story. It was now completely dark and the temperature began to rapidly decrease. Be the time we crested the summit, temperatures were in the 30s. I had my heated gear on and was snug as a bug in a rug, but I knew David was miserable. It warmed up a little as we descended into the Tahoe area, but it was still damn cold. We made our way through the Tahoe area on the Pioneer Trail and when we hit Hwy 50 I stopped to see how David was doing and to see if he wanted a warm-up stop. He said: "One down, one to go - let's get moving." So off I went. It was the same story over Echo Summit - dark and cold with temperatures in the 30s.. As we descended into the Sacramento Valley temperatures started to rise and by the time we hit Placerville, CA the temperatures were in the mid 50s.

This is were we split up - we briefly stopped, said our good byes and headed our separate directions. David headed up Hwy 49 toward Auburn then up Interstate 80 for Colfax and home. I continued on Hwy 50 to El Dorado Hills, and home. I pulled into my driveway about 10:45 PM and David made it home about 45 minutes later. We had beat the storm - the roads were dry the entire way.

Another great ride in the books.

Miles traveled today:    475
Miles traveled total:   3811

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