Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Annual Fall Trip, Sept 23-25

Karla and I have started a tradition of doing a three day "fall trip" to enjoy some fall colors, Ouray, Durango, the million dollar highway and camping in Arches National Park outside of Moab, UT. Now, the campground requires reservations MONTHS out, so we don't always hit the colors spot on, and this year we missed most of them. It's ok, still a beautiful ride.

Want to know the best thing about this year's trip? Mom and Dad joined us in Durango! Couldn't believe it! It really was fantastic when they accepted our invitation, I really wasn't sure if they were going to. We met up with them in Durango on Saturday morning, they followed us to Moab, toured Arches National Park with us and joined us for dinner at the campground! We enjoyed breakfast with them Sunday morning before we parted ways. It was incredible.

We packed up the bikes Thursday night. Karla had been putting in long days all week. She walked into the bedroom with her bag and said, "I'm so tired I don't know what to pack!" LOL! It was so funny. I helped as best we could. We weren't up too late, which was great as we had an early start to enjoy some awesome mountain roads! Smiley

The next morning, Karla had another goodie, " Omg why is the alarm going off? The sun isn't up yet." LOL! Smiley She takes her bag out to the bike to throw it on the bike and it wasn't as small as she'd hoped. So, she goes digging in the bag, tossing stuff out! "what is all this ***!" LOL! Evidently she packed too much stuff in her sleepy stupor the night before.

Thankfully we had no problem getting on the road on time! Packed up and ready to go, putting some more air in the tires to handle the load:

Made a few stops on the way up I-70 for clothing adjustments. Tucked in I-70 it was almost all shade and it just wasn't any warmer in the little bits of sun we got! Hopped off the highway heading for Independence Pass, still not much sun at all, so we put the rest of what we had on! EM with cold

Was a bit of a running joke on our North Carolina trip that I seem to have a nose for road construction... And not in a good way! Well never fail, I found us more 1 lane road construction not long after those pictures were taken. The good news, we got to stop and wait a few times in the sun! LOL! However, Karla remembers atleast once thinking, "Ooo. Sun! Warmer! Wait a minute, its gotten colder. Why is it colder in the sun?" Too funny.

Wandered our way up the beautiful twisties past mines and small towns to the summit of Independent Pass, I think one of the most beautiful paved passes in Colorado.

Up in the sun it was much warmer at the top! We shed some layers, got rid of the heat packs in our gloves. A couple, not sure if they were local or not, walked up to the pass sign for photos, both in shorts, tshirts and sandals. The young woman looked really cold! I had just pulled my heat packs out of my gloves and offered them to her. You'd think I was speaking martian by the look she gave me..... Haha, I took that as a no and sheepishly agreed to take their picture with the sign. Embarassed Smiley

Anyways, run down the backside of Independence Pass, through Aspen, then back on I-70. Loads of stoplights on 65 mph 4 lane highways make me wish I knew how to wheelie, bwaha! We were riding right under the approach for the Aspen airport, which as you can imagine hosts many high end jets! Well, one especially nice one came flying over... Here's what I'm thinking in my helmet:

          Oh look, that plane's coming right over the road
          Ack, yellow light!
          Fancy plane, look at that landing gear
          Karla had plenty of time to make it through that yellow light
          I guess that guy's heading to Aspen.
          Hold on, where'd Karla go? Smiley

LOL ended up she squealed tires stopping for that yellow light! Hahaha, I laughed pretty hard at myself in my helmet.

By the time we hit the little town of Silt along I-70, it was 72 degrees! Whew!! We went from 32 degrees to 72 degrees. Talk about stripping in the parking lot! Relaxing in the parking lot having a snack, Karla was sitting on curb and I'm talking to her. A lady and her friend parks next to us, gets out of car, when I finish asking Karla a question, the lady says, "oh! I thought you were talking to me the whole time! I couldn't figure out what you were talking about and why you were asking me questions!" Roflmao, she didn't even see Karla sitting on the curb until she walked into the store. When she and her lady friend came back out she says, "ok well it was nice talking to you, if you need anything else just let us know!" Smiley

I had a new road in mind this trip for Karla, Grand Mesa. What a beautiful area that is! I had just been on that road for the first time myself the previous weekend, and lets just say it was much warmer and drier when we were there.
Got off 70, and I'm thinking,

         ah what a cute little town mesa is. Look at these little stores. I wonder if any of them are open. Ohh
         please Mr. Pickup don't pull out in front of me. Wait, where did karla go?

LOL I lost her again. She'd pulled off in a little parking lot, seems the XJ was giving her some trouble.

Karla - "Every time I stop worrying something goes wrong."
Me - "Well that's cause u stop worrying every 6,000 miles, which is about the interval in which an old bike breaks."

Got the tool kit out, did some mental diagnosis, and thankfully it was a quick fix of an exhaust leak. Back on the road! Thankfully, luckily (?), the XJ gave us no more problems.

Off to Grand Mesa we went!

So Grand Mesa is just that, a really big, tall mesa that's a national forest. It's beautiful and nothing on it is developed except a few campgrounds and one lodge. One drawback? It's 70 degrees at the base and 55 along the top!! BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. On our way back down we got behind a big horse trailer really crawling down. No problem, here's a pull off with a view, lets stop and hang out a bit. Just sit there on the bikes chatting, didn't take any gear off. Then another slow trailer passes going downhill. LOL I guess we will wait a little longer!

Finally we get off Grand Mesa (cause we were clearly in such a hurry, LOL) and continue heading south towards Ouray, our stop for the night. We are in prime farming country now, especially apples, peaches and wineries. Passing fruit stand after fruit stand, I finally stop at this promising looking one in Cedaredge. Unfortunately, no photos allowed inside (??), so only have this:

WOW. Applecrisps straight from the orchard, picked the day before. WOWOW. I've never had an apple like that. We happily bought a few, as many as we could carry.

Kept moving towards Ouray, with loads of time. GPS was saying we'd be there around 6:30, so we decided to stop in Ridgeway at a Subway to pickup dinner (we opted not to pack the kit and camp food this trip). We rode into Ouray just as the sun was starting to set. On the outskirts were a couple of cute donkeys. Later, Karla said in her helmet she was thinking:

              A donkey? What's a donkey doing way up here in the mountains?

ROFLMAO. Here's why that's so funny.:

Aaaanyways! We hit Ouray, picked up a 6 pack (found room for that, don't you worry) and located our Motel. Holy cow was it nice! Run by two gay guys, gardeners by trade and excellent hosts. Thanks to a special price, we got the room in our price range. Even had a little kitchenette, and yes that's real tile! For anyone looking to stay in Ouray, I strongly recommend this place. Tasty breakfast too. Reservations recommended, they were booked up while we were there. The River's Edge Motel

There was a hot tub, which we were excited to use but it was lukewarm and we couldn't find any controls to turn it up or turn the bubbles on. So, we just sat in the lawn chairs down by the creek and had our sandwiches and beer. Man this place was beautiful.

Oh, and of course, we sit down to eat and I grab two beers for us. I ask Karla for her bottle opener, and she says, "Sure dear, just give me those and I'll open them for you." I hand her the bottles, she twists the caps off. Smiley

A few other great quotes just from when we were sitting there...

Karla: "Honey! That family over there is going to think you're so rude with all that burping!" *belch*
                  (yep, it was Karla burping the whooooole time)

Karla: "Man, I don't really like sitting next to running water"
Me: "Why, because it makes you have to go to the bathroom? " (Karla has a teeny tiny bladder)
Karla:  *evil glare*

When we got up, Karla knocked her white lawn chair over. "Ooooh, earthquake!" she says. Funny? Oh yeah! Here's the reference:

It's hard to find a more beautiful place to wake up to in the morning than Ouray. It's always crisp, cold (31 degrees that morning) and stunningly gorgeous. I find it even better a morning place than Arches National Park.

See the sun starting to hit the mountain in the distance? The grounds of the motel are immaculate!

We were the show of the retirement community.... We were the youngest people staying at the place, by 20 years EASILY. Haha, everyone was very friendly, staring at the bikes and talking to us. It's a pet friendly motel, so lots of people had dogs. The breakfast room was PACKED with retirees, so we sat out front. Pshaw, it's warmed up! 34 degrees! And beautiful.

We met this one dog staying at the motel, a rather odd looking blue healer. He walked around with his tail straight up, his head held perfectly high, and kinda pranced everywhere. He was VERY intense, hard to look at in the eye. He came up to us while we were eating breakfast and it was like he looked at Karla and said, "I can see you would like to pet me. *heavy sigh. Well, I guess you may pet me now." No tail wag, no nothing! He would just stare at you. I've met some rather intense herding dogs, but this guy took the cake! And he wasn't even a working dog!

Walkway from the front to the back

I swear these guys must have employed gnomes to keep this place so clean. There were hardly even any leaves on the grass!!

View from our room. The hanging baskets off each floor were beautiful too.

Me: [while pulling my pants up] "so...um...Honey? The toilet paper roll is possessed. It just unrolled itself."

Smiley  Smiley Smiley

A few more pics before we left

Yep, ready to go. Karla walks to her bike and says, "ooooh the sun! And it's actually warm!!" Yep, it was beautiful and time to go! The Million Dollar Highway was next! Next stop? Durango to meet up with mom and dad. Smiley

On the million dollar highway, over that mountain is Telluride.

Bathroom break at the gas station in Silverton, here we spoke with a pair of older gentleman on sport tourers (one BMW, one yamaha) that were from just outside Lexington, KY! Also met a brand new rider, get this, riding a brand new Triumph Daytona 675.

Dude was gonna get himself killed. Said a little prayer when he left. Then took a few more pictures!

Colors weren't at their peak yet, probably 75%. Still beautiful and worth the trip.

Met up with mom and dad in the supermarket parking lot in Durango! I'll start mixing in some photos mom took, thanks again!

We are off for Ted's Tacos in Mancos, CO!

There happened to be a small fair going on in Mancos.

Mom: "do you need a moomoo? Cause they have some floral ones back there." Smiley

We found Ted's Tacos.... Can I say, killer food! Yummy. Nothing special, but everything was very fresh.

While we were eating a local went up to the window to order.

Local: "why are you closing early?"
Cook: "Cause I'm tired and we are out of food!"
Local: "Well, sleep more!"


Loads of random old stuff on the walls. On the window sill next to our table was a big bowl full of.... really old egg beaters. LOL.
Mom: "Karla, would you like an egg beater? I have plenty of room in my purse!"

Back on the road, aiming for Moab! Lots of flat farm country, fun 2 lane roads, eventually getting into the dessert and rock formations closer to Moab.

We had one more gas stop to make before we got to Moab. Nice chance for a bathroom break too. It's one thing about bikes, especially ours, you gotta stop pretty often for gas (for Karla's XJ, we stop about every 130 miles). Anyways, we grab gas then all head in for the bathroom and a snack. I walk out and I swear I hear someone belching from the 2 horse trailer this truck at the pump was pulling. It was the weirdest thing. I stop and stare at the trailer and hear it again. It's not belching, it's bleating!! LOL there are sheep in that big horse trailer, I just couldn't see them!! I laughed about that in my helmet for miles.... Lets see... Dad almost drove off with his coffee on the roof, which sent mom running after him flapping her arms like some sort of flightless bird... The looks from the locals were priceless!! Keep in mind we were on a tiny two lane road far from anything... Yep, priceless. Oh! mom noted Karla and I splitting a 5 hour energy drink (awesome little things, but you gotta split them):

Mom "why do you drink that?"
Me "it works like coffee."
Mom "but you hate coffee."
Me: *smacks forehead*

It was now that mom noted the grill basket and tongs bungied to the back of my bike.... Evidently this was really funny! She raced off to tell dad. He didn't laugh as hard as she was. Who knew, there does exist a joke that is funnier to mom than to anyone else in the family! (sorry mom, couldn't help it!) Smiley

Thanks again for the photos mom!! (I am now going to post too many pictures of Karla and I riding, cause, well, I've never had any before!! So, if you don't like it, skip ahead!)

Into Arches National Park we go! I had reserved a campsite for us (well, for Karla and I) 4 months ago, it books up quick! Made a pit stop at the visitor's center, they have nice bathrooms and a gift shop. Also a spot to fill containers with water, but mom had brought us a gallon so we didn't have to!

Me: "Hey mom! Thanks for grabbing water. Gonna need it to put out the fire."
Mom: "What? I bought a gallon of fancy water!"
Me: "What, did it cost $2 instead of $1??"
Mom: "$1.34! LOL"

Now keep in mind, neither mom or dad had EVER been to Arches National Park! Amazing, given how close it is, and that dad used to live even closer in Salt Lake City, UT. Karla and I go every year, I think we might have converted 2 more!

Here's a link to a pdf map of Arches National Park, if you'd like to see where we stopped! The viewpoint for the delicate arch is way too far away, so I skip that one. The campground is at the very end of the park road.

A stop at the Balanced Rock, photo of our caravan! (ha, if one of the bikes broke down we could just put it in the back of the BMW).

I got this wonderfully framed photo of mom and dad! I know, I'm amazing (LOL, please note the sarcasm here). Unfortunately mom and dad weren't really smiling their best, so I'll refrain from posting. Lesson? Always take a couple copies of the same shot! Anyways, I wanted the same frame of Karla and I, MAN was that hard to get! Way too many photos, finally showed mom the picture I took on her phone and something clicked, LOL that was a process! Thank you mom for being patient and trying so hard til we got it right!

Next stop is the Double Arch and Elephant Butte.

Me: "Look over there. Do u see the elephants? I always wonder who the first person was that said, 'hey those look like elephants,' and then what idiot agreed with him. Then how did it become official?"
Dad: "Must have been the mormons."
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When I was taking pictures of this neat dead tree near the arches, 2 guys I noticed before came walking by. I knew one was riding a big Harley dresser:

 The other on a BMW GS1200:

I stood up, let them know I was the one riding the Ninja and my girlfriend was on the old Yamaha. "You guys make interesting touring partners," I said. They looked at me weird and quickly changed the subject, asking where in Colorado I was from. They're from Greeley, closer to where I used to live. It wasn't until 30 minutes later that I realized why they got uncomfortable with my comment. I think they thought I was calling them a gay couple!!! Smiley When no, in fact I was just commenting on how unusual it is to see a rider on a big Harley touring bike traveling with a BMW GS1200. Whoops!!

Anyways, the tree:

I really like this picture. Mom and dad look like that really cool retired couple with an RV traveling everywhere with awesome stories to tell. You know, the kind I run into at campgrounds all the time when I'm traveling by myself. They always invite me into their RV for dinner and their dog sits in my lap. Yep, that's what they look like. And I guess it's really accurate, sans the RV and small dog!

Me: "Alrighty, dad you ready to go?"
Dad: sitting on a rock next to the arch looking out over Arches NP, "no."
Mom: "Gather around dad for a picture!"

LOL I'm not sure that's what dad had in mind when he said he wasn't ready to go yet! Smiley It did make for a nice picture though!

Ok, on to the campsite at the end of the Arches National Park road. And, more pictures of Karla and I riding, because I love them.

Yay campsite. We got a pretty good one! Not the best one, mostly because I forgot to reserve until 4 months out. Whoops! Still very nice. We did have a rude neighbor, two buddies with their sons who were completely out of control with noisy electronic toys and wandering all over the campground. Just had to ignore them! Everything else was perfect. Well, besides trying to setup the tent, which for some reason was confusing this time. LOL. AND I forgot a lighter! Went like this:

Me: "Honey, I managed to forget a lighter. Will you go ask the lesbians next door if we can borrow one? You have nice boobs."
Mom: "if you're not back in 10min we are calling the authorities"
Me: "no, just going over there with a video camera"
Mom: 15 seconds later, laughed awkwardly (LOL)
Karla comes back, hands me the lighter. Says, "the lesbians say you're fired." Smiley
I get the fire lit, then hand the lighter back to Karla, "you take this back, I'm not going over there!"

Karla and mom do a great job getting the table ready while I work on the fire and prep food. Thank you to mom and dad for bringing the food!! Dad does a great job supervising, lol.

Yep. Beautiful. Look up!

Dinner menu? Marinated chicken breast (white wine vinegar, mustard, salt, sugar, pepper, fresh basil and capers), roasted bell peppers, corn on the cob, bread and fresh berries with whipped cream! All cooked over the fire, YUM! Mom and dad even picked up beer for us in Durango! Thanks again!

Me: "Karla, I need a fork, any clue where my fork went? I think mom stole mine, so will you pass me hers?"
Mom sits down, with no fork. Dad says to her, "here, have a fork, I have 2!"
LOL musical forks!

Dad: "Karla, you need more whipped cream. I can see your fruit."
Me: "yeah I just saw you put just whipped cream on your plate. No fruit"
Dad: "and?"

Man, Karla had mom and dad laughing uncontrollably with stories, especially the ones of Karla and I. Dad said something to the effect of, "She's so funny! We should let her talk more often!" LOL

After eating and laughing way too much, mom and dad packed up their things and headed back to Moab to their hotel, about a 15 minute drive. Karla and I still had 2 beers each left, so we drowned the fire with mom's fancy water (lol, thank you) and took our beers up the rock face behind our tent. A little awkward to get comfy on because it was so sloped, but it worked! Beautiful view up there! No moon, loads of stars, could see the whole campground. We sat up there for easily an hour, maybe more. How about a few funny quotes...

"I could sleep on this rock"
"I couldn't"
"Well maybe a different rock. This one is really slanted."
"I have a big wedgie"
"Me too"
"But its holding me up"

"Shh. Did I just hear a coyote?"
"No, I think that was a child."

Me: Farted, really loud. Twice. "I think if I can hear their footsteps down there they definitely heard my farting up here."
Karla: "Honey, if they can hear you farting, the lesbians can definitely hear you talking about them"

Finally decided it might be best to get some sleep. We opted to leave the rain fly off the tent so we could enjoy the stars. I lay down, "oh man this is great! So many stars!" Karla takes her contacts out and lays down, "ah damnit, I can't see any of them. Oh wait, I see three small fuzzy dots!"

How about my second most favorite place to wake up to? Get ready for too many pictures of the same thing... Light changes fast!

Looking west at our tent:

Looking east:

One of my favorite pictures from the trip. Complete bliss. Lol Karla's still sound asleep in there.

Good morning sunshine!

My kind of picture window!

Shortly after I took that photo, Karla still half asleep says "oh no, honey I hear my alarm going off on my phone!" "Where is it," I ask, "I don't hear it!" Karla, "It's down the hill in my tankbag on the bike!" Man I've never thrown my shoes on so fast and ran down that hill to find her cell phone!!

Yay some warm sun!

Every time we'd start to make process on packing, the light would change and one of us would grab the camera and make a mad dash to take a photo. Needless to say, we were a little late meeting up with mom and dad for breakfast in Moab!

Finally almost ready!

On the way into Moab we stopped along the side of the road here and there to snap a picture. Stayed on the bikes so we weren't too late for breakfast! Arches is so amazing, and so different at sunset than it is at sunrise. You really want to see it both times.

We managed to find mom and dad's hotel, did you know there are two Best Western's in Moab? LOL, I saw one and was pointing frantically at Karla to get over so we can turn. All the while she's seeing the one down the road and wondering what in the world I'm doing!! LOL. Breakfast was delicious! We sadly parted ways and headed home. Ride back was beautiful, although the temperature swings going from Moab to Denver this time of year are wild! Karla said I completely disappeared in my bike going over Vail Pass! Brrr, I was running the stock windshield, which is very small and provides very little wind protection, so you feel every degree of cold air!

We got back to Denver with loads of time, even taking a lot of backroads the last bit to avoid Sunday afternoon traffic on I-70. So, one more stop, our favorite bar The Buffalo Rose in Golden!

Rocky Mountain Oysters and two beers please!

One more funny story.... As we are sitting on the back deck of the Buffalo Rose having our appetizer and beers, we see this guy on a purple Harley roll up a bit awkwardly. He definitely looked like a new rider. At closer inspection, he and his bike actually reminded us of Dudley from the movie Wild Hogs 

Haven't seen the movie? Well Dudley is hilarious, not a very good rider and a total geek... And go rent the movie!

Anyways. This guy kinda wobbles around making a u-turn to park his shiny little Harley.... Loads of room in the usual bike parking area. What does this guy do? Oh yeah... That's a VERY nice, VERY expensive customized Harley he wiggled his way next to... Inches to spare. We were pretty sure there wasn't enough room for the other guy to pick his bike up off the kickstand to leave! As you can see, gobs of room to the right. ROFLMAO!! We were dying of laughter, covering our mouths so he wouldn't hear us!!

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Yep. That was funny. Total icing on the cake for a fantastic trip! I hope you all enjoyed the report. Slide shows below!

My photos

Mom's photos

We will be doing this trip again next year, hopefully mom and dad and some of our friends choose to join us!

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