Thursday, October 7, 2010

Long way 'round to Moab, September 2010

  • Dates: Monday, September 27, 2010 - Wednesday September 29, 2010
  • Attendees: Smash and Karla, Todd (from DC) and Jeff (from Philly)
  • Total Miles: 1,112
  • Major Waypoints: Denver, Aspen, Ouray, Million Dollar Highway, Durango, 4 Corners, Arches National Park 

(Map not exact... I cut a few things out to shorten the first day for our riding partners)

View Larger Map

Todd and Jeff were on a month long tour of the US on their motorcycles and decided to hit Denver! After a few days here, and some new tires, we headed out on this trip. Although they didn't tag along on day two and we parted ways in Moab, it was great to have some riding companions. This was Karla's first time on most of these roads as well. I was thrilled to be able to show everyone around!

On to the photos....

Left rear: Jeff's 1999 Honda VFR 800
Right rear: Todd's 1994 BMW K75 w/Rifle fairing
Left front: Karla's 1982 Yamaha XJ1100J Maxim, work in progress
Right front: my 1994 Honda ST1100


 We hit the road early Monday morning, the day would be all about Colorado: mountain passes, small towns, coal mines and two lane roads.

We took a break at the crest of Independence Pass to watch a helicopter removing old snow fence from the '60s.


We also met [a rather ripe smelling] bicyclist from Boulder who had a sign on his heavily laden road bicycle "Venezuela or bust." Interested, we asked the young man where he was going [while trying not to breathe]. "uh, I dunno," was his answer. Brilliant let me tell you, just brilliant. Did I mention he looked like Napoleon Dynamite with shoulder length hair? Yeah.... We happily mounted our motorized vehicles and rode off!

Coal Mines.... Lots of them!

Started to leave the mountains for just a bit...

To hit that infamous bit of incredibly boring pavement in the middle of nowhere before heading into Ouray.

Finally something to look at!

Working our way back to these!!

I just love these shots....

We made it safely just as the sun was setting to our resting point for the night: Riverside Inn and Cabins in Ouray, Colorado.  Quite a nice little place. Very friendly and accommodating people, as is the norm for Ouray. It's hard to go wrong in that town. Price was not bad for a cabin to share, but man $15 in taxes on a $60 cabin SUCKS. Nonetheless, we were happy to not have to set up tents, plus having electricity and heat were major bonuses. We hit up the local liquor store and made food on the picnic table behind the cabin along the creek. It was clear our companions were not used to long days in the saddle and were questioning our long day tomorrow. They agreed to see how they felt in the morning. Karla and I were definitely doing our pre-planned route, as these were places she'd never been. That required a 7:30am departure, not very palatable to our friends, but quite normal for us. So, I gave them a shorter (but still very scenic) route that took them down the Million Dollar Highway to Durango then directly to Moab.

Day #1 slideshow (a)

Day #1 slideshow (b)


Karla and I woke bright and early for day 2, and it became clear within 30minutes it would just be the two of us...

No problem! We have no issue riding just the two of us, knowing Jeff and Todd would be just fine.

Took a few shots of the cabin:

Said goodbye to the awesome little town of Ouray. 
We were told by a local that Christmas is a great time visit... Evidently they all get plastered and have a big parade. Karla and I put that on our bucket list... 
Either way, we do love spending time here!

And entered the world of the Million Dollar Highway....

The sun just coming up created some incredible shadows in the deep canyon

We couldn't have timed it better for the colors... Amazingly, seeing as this ride has been on the calendar without changing for 3 months! 

oh, did I mention it was freezing cold? Haha, it was. Good thing we'd packed accordingly. We both were wishing we had electric heated gear though!

Full moon all morning too....


Some of the richest mines in Colorado history are just across that ravine... 

Neat shot of the road!

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE THIS ROAD???

Made our way down into Silverton and detoured onto the only paved street through town:

Goodbye Silverton!

On to Durango, a town I spent a load of time in when I was a kid! Grew up in Albuquerque, but learned to ski in Durango....

I learned to ski here... Every winter for YEARS, starting at what age I can't remember (young).
It used to be called Purgatory... Guess that turned enough people off they had to change the name.

About 30-45minutes away from the ski area is the town of Durango.
Wandered around for quite a while (thankfully Karla was loving me pointing out all the places I remember as a kid).
I don't remember this! LOL!!

Finally managed to find the cabin our family used to own! Man I remember it being bigger....

That really was a highlight of the trip for me! So many great memories, especially of playing Lincoln Logs with my sister on the living room floor. Oh and marbles! I remember playing with marbles...

Next we leave the mountains, we won't see them again until after we leave Moab!

Karla and I have a game of trying to make our hands look like rocks or landmarks that we see. Believe me, it gets rather entertaining! 

This one turned out really neat!

Finally... Man I forgot how bad those roads are out there. Dip after dip after dip.
With a blown rear shock we were bottoming out atleast every few minutes.
Good thing I have the center stand down there.

Signs for entering and exiting New Mexico... A sign for entering Arizona (man those are tiny) but not exiting... Then finally:

Awesome! We did a little dance in the seat. Karla had never been to Utah!

Next was lots of this....

With a few of these....

Gives "watch for falling rocks" a whole new meaning....

his place was DEFINITELY worth the detour!
I never would have known about it sans some guys recommending it on the ST forum.
It's at the end of a dead end road so small it doesn't even have lines. I'm surprised it was paved!

Middle of nowhere!!

Remember the hand/rock thing? We were at Gooseneck, I turned around to see Karla fiddling with the camera holding her hand up... WTF? ROFLMAO

As we get closer to Moab, things start to get interesting again...

Yes, I do believe I have rabbit ears.... LOL

totally. awesome.

See the little rock sticking up to the left of her finger?
Yeah took me a second too to figure out what she was doing too....

We were hoping the sun would stay up long enough for us to get into Arches National Park... We were cutting it close... After FINALLY locating what seems to be the only liquor store along the main drag in Moab, to discover they don't have cold beer or ice (aka, add another stop for ice) we head towards the park entrance...

Start our way into the park just as the sun goes down. Still light enough for a few shots!

The silhouettes turned out really awesome, there are more in the slideshow

We made it to our reserved campsite at the end of the road (25+ miles long of park road ) to find our friends already there with a fire going. Too dark to take photos. But we tucked in and made dinner, enjoying our local brews!

PS - remember we had grabbed a bag of ice and a 6 pack of beer in town? Well, we just threw those between us, as we could hold them while still allowing Karla to take photos. Half way through the park though, I had an odd sensation.... "honey, my ass crack is wet and cold." "Oh, not to worry, that's just the ice melting." I was thinking, how am I the only one getting wet.... Moments later, Karla screeches "omg my crotch is wet and FROZEN!" I replied, "oh, not to worry, it becomes rather refreshing after the initial shock."

Day #2 Slideshow (a)

Day #2 Slideshow (b)


After much discussion when we crawled into our tent in Arches the night before, Karla and I decided we would sleep in the next day, tour the park then head directly home. Original plans included some riding around Moab, but we wanted to spend some time with our friends before parting ways.

Check out our campsite.... My friend and I stalked the reservations site to get this one, it's the most popular in the park! We've had it reserved for months...

See the bikes?

Views from the campsite:

Our friends and Karla, none of whom had ever been to Moab, all agreed this was the coolest campground they'd ever been to.

After whipping up some breakfast, we headed out to explore the park!

Loads of photos, see the slideshow to view them all. I try to just pick a few...

Karla caught me on camera doing the hand comparison! ha!

This area is called "The Parade of Elephants"

We rode past this sign:

Which were these:

Me: huh. I didn't know dunes could do that.
Karla: *long pause... then screams

get it? petrified (scared) dunes? Yeah, I almost wet myself laughing.

See the moon again?

Got about 1/2 way through the park and Todd and Jeff decided they needed to leave. It was about 11am and Salt Lake City (their destination for the day) was 4 hours away, but I guess they were worried about making time? Denver was 6 hours away. We were sad to see them go, but said our goodbyes. Karla and I continued to take our time.

We decided to stop at the visitor center. This is my second trip on the bike to Arches NP (camped in the park both times) and I decided it was time for patch. Neat to read more about the park too!

Lunch in Moab was quite tasty! Excellent local recommendation for a sandwich spot.

Off we went to follow the colorado river, making our way the scenic route to I-70.

I can't tell you how cool this route was from Moab to 70.... Words just don't do it!

View Larger Map

What's the chance of this? Too cool....

It's very dramatic riding RIGHT NEXT TO a crumbling rock face

After we parted ways from the river and turned right onto 6 it's like we entered a no man's land.... No lines on the road... One little shanty town...Zero traffic... Could see forever.... I knew 70 was to our left, but had I not known that I probably would've started to freak out a little....

After what seemed like a lifetime we hooked up with I-70, and I settled into the very familiar 5 hour ride home.

We did stop here just on the east side of Vail to throw on some more clothes. We went back to wearing most of our layers and glad we did! No weather though, clear skies the whole way. Karla did manage to almost get stuck trying to get on the bike with all her gear on. Which caused me to laugh hysterically and almost drop the bike with her half hanging off of it. LOL

The last photo of the trip....

We detoured to Lookout Mountain to see the lights of Denver and discuss the trip. We both agreed this should be an annual run for us. Although we both think we can cut out 4 corners and take the fast route from Durango to Moab. Heck, we might even cut out Utah entirely and 141 through Gateway instead, visiting and camping in the Colorado National Moment National Park...

In the end, the highlight of the trip was the fall color and the million dollar highway and we can't wait for next fall to do it again!

Day #3 Slideshow (a)

Day #3 Slideshow (b)

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