My employer has come into hard times - just like the rest of the world and closed the plant for 2 weeks forcing everybody to take a vacation who works there in an effort to reduce inventory and save money. Two weeks is a bit of a hardship for most but I am in pretty good shape having saved up my tax refund since last year and this years refund I had a good bit of money to go travel. My friend from College (whom I roomed with after graduation for a couple of years) recently moved back to Denver from LA and we have been getting back into touch with each other. He was also taking a vacation around the same time. Andy is an avid scooterista and he had booked a trip to Las Vegas to attend the 10th annual High Rollers Weekend scooter rally at the Tropicana - he offered to split the room with me and we could go have some fun.
So I put on a new back tire and headed out to Vegas!
Mt Mestas Near La Veta Colorado
The Spanish Peaks heading up La Veta Pass hwy 160
La Veta Cross Mountain snowcapped in the background
Historic Fort Garland once commanded by Kit Carson
Fort Garland with Mt Blanca towering over it 14345 ft
My first day on the road started out really cold in the 40's so I broke out my Gerbing heated liner for the first time - it performed well keeping my arms and chest warm - even hot! I was warm as I climbed the sandy and snowy Cumbres Pass, liner heat, seat heat and heated grips. I was heading up into 30 degree 30mph wind at the top of the pass, but I was as comfortable as you can get on a bike in those conditions.
Cumbres Pass The Colorado side facing north
Cumbres Pass The New Mexico side facing south - much more snow on this side
I crossed the Colorado Boarder into New Mexico with the intent of heading west on hwy 64 to stay out of the Colorado High country. I stopped in Chama to get some water and shed my liner since it was around 60 degrees there. It felt down right warm after riding sub 45 degree winds all morning. I was wearing my leather jacket and some tourmaster over pants that I had stuffed my old stich tf2 pads into. I reused my aerostich, I sewed the shoulder and elbow pads into the liner of my jacked before leaving. I was really missing my stich since it was in Duluth MN getting repaired and fitted with brand new tf3 armor. While in Chama I was greeted by a couple of travelers from Minnesota who just happened to live in Duluth which I thought was a bit of a coincidence. They saw my license plate and asked me a few questions on the best route to take into Colorado. They where all paranoid about going up McClure Pass but surprisingly had no qualms going over the million dollar highway. To which I thought was probably more dangerous to a traveler this time of year then McClure pass. I said it probably was going to be OK to do both - since the sun had been out for a week now. I recommended a lunch stop in Durango and pointed them in the the right direction. Then I headed west into indian country, where I found there is allot of Oil and Gas exploration/development going in near Farmington - it seemed to be to be booming. Oil Trucks and construction going on all over North West New Mexico.
I hated Farmington with its 4 lane safety corridor that dragged on for 15 miles into an oblivion of industrial parks and road side businesses. Folks where pulling out incessantly in front of me I was covering my brake lever as best I could. Safety corridor my ass these drivers were nuts! In Farmington I looked for a good lunch spot that was local - so after riding around downtown and having found nothing satisfying I settled on a burger at Wendy's. I was sporting my new high and tight haircut (thinking I would be immune to helmet hair with it *wrong*). I seemed to fit in since I look just like a Navajo Indian - even have the same haircut - most Navajo males all sport buzz cuts. I was not local though its still a small town and everybody recognized I wasn't from there. The woman at the counter started talking to me in Navajo which when she realized I did not understand she changed over to english, I really got a kick out of that. I had the same thing while in college in Durango the local Navajos would talk to me in Navajo all the time till I realized I am Hispanic. My girlfriend though was 100% Hopi indian and she would do all the talking, all of it, all the time. Good girl and I was really in love, too bad I let her get away. I was glad to make a friend like Andy back then, he will talk to anybody anywhere and he can be spontaneously funny, me I am a bit shy. So I make up for it by hanging out with guys like Andy who are not shy than I get to know people through them and feel more comfortable getting involved.
Shiprock New Mexico hwy 64
Shiprock boring riding out there
Vally of the Gods Utah hwy 163
Valley of the Gods Monument Valley way off in the Distance
I stayed the night in Mexican hat the Mexican Hat Lodge, the famous swinging steak, I have featured it a few times before. This is my favorite stop for the night in Southern Utah, good company good food and great atmosphere. It makes you feel like your on some kind of cattle drive or something complete with old Gene Autry movies on the tube before you go to sleep on the comfy beds they have, not a 4 star hotel but its authentic as it gets. I drank beers with the family who own the place and discussed all sort of things while they cooked my steak over an open fire on their one of a kind swinging grill. With beans cooked on an old wood stove out on the patio. This is the sort of place you go to get unplugged and away from everything.
Mexican Hat Lodge home of the swinging steak - as seen on the food channel
Mexican Hat Lodge next best thing to roughing it
Monument Valley early in the morning hwy 163
Monument Valley at a road side indian art display
Monument Valley Stagecoach - King on his thone - Brighams Tomb
Top of Monument Pass hwy 163
Hwy 98 to Page AZ I stopped cause my phone rang - gps bluetooth thing went off - this horse was all alone watching my every move
Phone calls out here?
Colorado River down stream from the Glen Canyon Damn in Page
Navajo Bridge at Vermillion Cliffs Marble Canyon - Lee's Ferry
I stopped in Page to get a burger at some local joint, lots of kids there and it was a bit greasy but it hit the spot, allowed me to stretch my legs but nothing to go on about. I was surprised to get a phone call out in the sticks on the way there from Andy - I had no idea there was cell coverage out there, my Zumo made a funny noise and it had a phone icon on it so I pressed it but the call sounded like hell so I pulled over and tried connecting with the hand set - no luck I had to wait till I got to Page to let him know what was going on. I wasn't going to make it all the way to Vegas in one day - not since I planned on hitting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon along the way. It was a bust since the road was closed at Jacob Lake on hwy 89 up there at 7k feet there was allot of snow on the ground but I was happy to see some curves on the mesa going down into Fredonia where the road took a turn for the worse - boring and windy again.
I avoided the traffic and cold into Zion NP and headed into Colorado City (est 1985) on a lower route - a low road and a high road to the same place as it is! I couldn't believe they would even put that on the sign (est 1985?) - the place was an eyesore next to some pretty rocks - nothing but dirt roads carved into the hills and ugly houses mixed in with warehouses it was just a hodge podge of disorganization and sprawl. I wouldn't call it an establishment at all. It wasn't long before I headed down the hill to Hurricane an equally unappealing town next to Zion National Park its just one long 4 lane enterprise zone to nowhere that goes on and on with stop lights every 2 minutes your more then happy to be riding on interstate 15 as soon as you get to the end of it. Now thats not saying much - interstate was more appealing to me than Hurricane. I stayed in Saint George for the night and I do like that place, its got pretty scenery and its not so much stop and go traffic to endure as Hurricane and it has a lot more to offer.
I ate at a steak house right next to the motel and enjoyed the food, but there was an obnoxious family sitting in the next booth. Parents constantly slapping the kids down till I got sick of listening to it I ask to be moved, two parties in the place and they sit them right next to me? I drank my beer and got the hell out of there.
The next day I had 150 miles to Vegas and I chose to take the Road to Lake Meade, I pulled off and recognized where my Busa had broken down 6 years ago leaving me stranded in the desert for 2 hours till a tow truck came along. I patted the tank on my viffer cause I know that wasn't going to happen again! It was starting to piss me off since I was again traveling in stop and go traffic in these small towns near the lake going 30 mph behind some local pickup trucks, one would pull out in front of me, turn off and another would take its place. ON and on like this for 15 miles till I was finally out of town but then I ran smack into road construction for another 20 miles - stripped down to bare dirt and following a string of RVs behind a lead vehicle with a follow me sign on the back. I was thinking I was never going to get to Vegas!
Then the road got good, new pavement, lots of shoulder and good sweepers I was starting to enjoy it, two days of crap and now finally some good road. Still I was thinking about what Toddulu told me - the Feds patrol that area and they hate speeding bikes so I kept it under 90mph, for the most part. It seemed like they could hide anywhere in those bushes and bust you. You have to be going 110mph there to really lean it over but I was just cruising at 80mph hitting the brakes when I saw something that looked like a car.
I finally rolled into Vegas around noon following an R1 on the freeway from Henderson that began the overheating water boiling weekend of riding in Vegas! Me and Andy on his scooter we resorted to lane splitting and pissing off the 100's of taxis on the side roads along the strip. I over ate, over drank and over partied for 2 days in Vegas and later met up with Tod and Ben for a ride around the city for a half day ride.
Fremont Street Las Vegas
Golden Nugget right on the mall
Street Musicians everywhere
The Light show at Fremont street KISS theme
I have seen this on TV its huge
The pool at the Golden Nugget
Day Ride with Toddulu and Canib we went where ever it wasn't raining - around Lake Meade
Red Rock Park near Lake Meade
I must have spent $500 bucks in Vegas even though I had not planned on it, its too easy to drop money there. I said goodbye to Andy and Tod and took off to explore Arizona
Heading out of Vegas I stopped at the Hover Damn
Bridge construction above overlooking the Hover Damn it was huge too
Lots of Concrete I need a wide angle lens to see it all
Once the again the wind was blowing and it wasn't quite cold but it sure wasn't warm, I rolled into Kingman on Sunday and fell into line with the truckers on the Interstate 40 with plans to go ride some twisties in Arizona near Prescott. I turned off toward Phoenix and found a back road hwy 97 that resembled a roller coaster ride the whole time I was on it, I kept expecting to see cattle in the road when I crested a hill so I was worried about going too fast. I took out the camera and did some video.
I ended up in Prescott around 4pm and decided the cool wind had gotten the best of me - I found this great old hotel in down town Prescott and enjoyed the night sitting at the bar of the Bistro there. Met a bunch of people and talked most the night with a couple who were living in Boulder Colorado - he was a scientist she a homemaker and they retired there after living in San Jose for many many years. The Bar tender was a good kid who was also a transplant from California, they apparently have a homeless problem there so they have a lock on the bathroom door that uses tokens - which was kept in a cup by the bar. I must have handed out 20 of them sitting right next to it, I thought I would give that bartender a break and just hand them out to whomever came looking. A big family was having dinner in the Bistro after a wedding - a young couple just married - the groom in his Dress uniform from the Army. I decided to buy them a drink so I could toast the newly weds I was having a great time in Prescott.
The Historic Saint Michael Hotel In Prescott AZ
Public Library Prescott AZ
Historic Downtown Prescott lots of tourist at the St Michael
The hotel had a parking garage in the alley behind it so there is where I locked up the bike for the night, old elevator, old everything but it was very cool. I headed for some more twisties toward Jerome AZ and into Sedona, my buddy Craig told me to head to Sedona. It was definitely pretty there but I was again stuck in urban sprawl stop and go traffic there with 15 miles of road construction I was going to spend some time there but decided the place was an eyesore next to those great rock monuments, like it was just piled on top of the place hodge podge but with allot more money than Colorado City, It would be great if it was a National Monument with none of that crap surrounding it but thats just me. I hate to see million dollar houses sitting on top of beautiful bluffs it just ruins the landscape no matter how much money they pour into it it looks horrible. The 15 mile per hour speed limit for and hour wasn't much fun either I was glad to be out of there and I crossed the Interstate on hwy 179 and encountered 11 miles of dirt road to the turn off at hwy 260. To my surprise it was rather smooth and 40 mph on smooth dirt road is way better than 15mph of traffic in Sedona any day!
I was soon into some enjoyable mountain riding for the next 3 hours, passing into Payson for a gas stop I stopped and ate at a road house in Overgaard on hwy 260. Nice joint with good food but It was pricey so I cant recommend it - it was a bit steep in price for a burger and onion rings and a Dr Pepper $17? Rim Café I think it was called,
I ended up staying the night in Sprigerville AZ on the New Mexico boarder I was lucky to find a room since the had no vacancy signs on all the motels, construction people they said. I couldn't for the life of me figure out where the work was going on? But I found a room, I met a couple of riders at the gas station headed to Santa Fe like me. They warned me it was supposed to snow the weekend so I made plans to stay with my sister for the weekend in Santa Fe over the phone, I could go see her new home they had built. The guys were staying in Socorro - a place that is alright but the last time I was there some drug dealers took over the motel 6 where I was staying at. For 4 hours they were selling out of a room on the first floor (last year on a trip to Silver City NM). Guys with guns in the doorway, they were menancing looking 5 of them out in the grass of the yard. I decided there was no way I was going there again.
In Springerville I walked across the street to the Mexican restaurant and had some great chili relleno for $7 - and $4 corona = cheap food and expensive beer? OK it was good though. I was on my way to Santa Fe the Next Morning 9am. Once again 50 degrees out and windy like it had been the whole darned trip. I took out the Gerbings again and got comfy on the slab. I was surprised to see some good scenery near Grants though
El Malipas National Monument New Mexico hwy 117 at a place called the Narrows
The Narrows along the La Ventana Trail
La Ventana Natural Arch
The Highway Borders the Acoma Indian Reservation
This is a seldom traveled road
I gassed up in Grants and got a meatball sandwich at the Subway, to warm me up. Sat next to some really really old folks who did not even recognize I was there, boring conversation anyway! I minded my own business. When I went outside it had warmed up to 65! Yea I stripped down and took off my over pants too. Headed to Santa Fe
This is a seldom traveled road
Madrid New Mexico
Madrid NM on hwy 14 called the Turquoise trail
Arrived at my Sisters new home in Santa Fe her family just moved in this month - its huge inside
It was great to see my sister though she was sporting a cold, the kids looked great, grown a few inches and my brother in law was exited about his new home. We took a trip to go get a new couch that weekend but mostly I just hung out with my Sister for 3 days at home. I had to wait a few hours when I arrived in Santa Fe so I took in a movie - then I went to the school they both teach at and sure enough there was my sister Laura in the Parking lot waving at me as I pulled in. Kind of nice both their kids attend the same school too. I waited out a snow storm then headed home Sunday on some boring route to avoid the cold, again found myself in Fort Garland and I stopped for lunch at the Old West Café - wow it was cheap and it was great, the food on the menu all looked great and affordable I couldn't decide so I asked the waitress to just get me a burger and she brought out the best green chili burger I have ever had! good and scrumptious! Then I made it home and found I a sore throat - my sister had given me her darned cold! So I have been camped out in my room reading vfrd and blowing my nose for 3 days. Good trip all in all!
My lunch stop in Fort Garland I needed a break from the cold - wonderful menu - I had a great green chili burger good service too
trip log in gpx form attached