Wednesday, November 23, 2011

666SToc/Kingman, Arizona trip Nov 10-14

I had been watching the road and weather conditions for atleast a week.... Hoping the backroads and mountain passes would clear to make this ride! Sure, I could definitely go if I took all interstate, but who wants to do that? Was also watching the weather in Kingman, Arizona, my destination, as at first it was supposed to rain all weekend! Well, the snow passed, the mountain roads cleared and the weather forecast for Kingman improved, so I made the decision Wednesday night to leave Thursday after work. The plan was to stick to the 2 lanes as much as possible this trip. Cortez, Colorado was the goal for Thursday night. Friday head through 4 corners and Monument Valley to Kingman, Arizona. A friend was hosting a ST-Owners (motorcycle forum, the last bike I had was an ST1100) gathering at his place in Kingman, offered even to let me use his tent and bag so I wouldn't have to pack mine. Saturday and Sunday ride locally. Monday take the long, scenic (how about 12hrs 45min? ha!) route to ABQ to work with Dad and visit Mom for a few days. Then back to Denver Thursday.

Yep. LETS DO IT! Here's a map of the whole trip, not including the day rides out of Kingman, Arizona. Logged 2,219 miles total, less than 20% of that was interstate!

No pictures from the first day. I was aiming for Cortez, Colorado and a little motel called the White Eagle Inn. They had good reviews, especially for a place that would cost me $24 a night! Normally I just camp, but I knew it would be cold and didn't have my camping gear with me. Remember I would be borrowing the host's gear in Kingman? So, motel it was, and MAN was it nice to have a hot shower and a warm bed! Here's what the day looked like:

I wish I would've stopped to take atleast a few pictures... What a beautiful ride! It was 52 when I left Denver, dropped quick to 42 and stayed there or colder the whole day. It was 28 when I pulled into Cortez around 7:30pm. Saw snow most of the ride, but clear roads. Hopefully I can invest in a second digital camera soon to take pics on the fly! The one I have is too nice to risk. I did set up the GoPro to take video over Wolf Creek Pass, which is just north-east of Pagosa Springs on the map and summits at 10,857 feet above sea level. Breathtaking, especially with fresh snow.

Hint: These videos were shot in 720p HD, please feel free to open them in another window and view them fullscreen! To do this, start playing the video, then look along the lower toolbar where you can play/stop/pause/adjust volume etc. You'll see the YouTube logo. Click that to open the video in a new window. If you want to watch the video here on the blog, along that same lower toolbar you can click the "360p" button and increase the video quality playback to "720p." Right, hint over!

Met with a warm welcome (although an odd look rolling in on a bike at 7:30pm when it's 28 degrees out) at the motel. Warmed up some soup, took a hot shower, turned up the heat in the room and slept like a baby.

Up the next morning at sunrise in time to make 4 corners when they open. It's all about $3 to get in, so why not drop by and get a photo with the Ninja? From there would head through Mexican Hat and Monument Valley, then on to Flagstaff and interstate to Kingman.

Pulled over not far into my morning to grab this picture. I'm not sure which one I like better!

4 Corners was a short ride away, rolled up just as they were opening. But guess what, they've built those darn stalls for local to sell random **** all the way around the monument!! I have NEVER seen more than 8 stalls being used, and I've been here loads of times. So, this means you can't pull your bike up and get a decent photo. *insert angry face. Seriously people?? They've turned the monument into a damn flea market. Yeah, I won't be returning... This is the best I could do.

Pretty neat, but not enough to return if you can't get the right shot with your bike!

Right, off we go. We had miles to make and it sure as heck wasn't getting any warmer just standing around taking pictures.

Did have to pull over to try and grab this scene.... Can you see the mountains? Camera struggled to get them, but let me just tell you in person it was awe inspiring.

Pulled over at a nice spot once we were creeping in on Mexican Hat and Monument Valley to setup the GoPro. Opted to take stills with it, instead of video to see what I could get. A few pictures from the pull off:

It was cold (37 degrees), cloudy, with this low, light fog and some snow here and there. The ground was wet, making the dirt turn a rich red color. I've never seen this area under these conditions. What a gift! Can you see Monument Valley in the distance?

I'm going to have a hard time only picking a few GoPro photos... The lighting was incredible!

Oh here we go! This is my first time going through Monument Valley this way... I couldn't wait to come up on this instead of watching my rearview.

Yes, it was cold. Yes, I had everything I owned on. Yes, I was warm!

A brief, 10min glimpse of almost direct sunlight!

Slideshow of 43 photos from the GoPro of the Mexican Hat and Monument Valley area.

Stopped in Tuba City for a bite to eat and lunch at Subway, my favorite road trip stop. Fast, tasty, pretty cheap and a 6" sub and a drink are perfect. Not too much to make you need a nap! From there headed down into Flagstaff, where the temp finally warmed above 40 degrees. Coming off the hill down towards Kingman I had to pull over and strip layers! Whew! Got into Kingman to my friend George's house with no problems at all. No more photos though.

Slideshow of 19 photos from the ride from Cortez to Kingman.

So, this is officially an event through the ST-Owners motorcycle forum. These guys are my age or older and holy COW do they get up early. So I've set an alarm on my phone for before the sunrise so I don't miss anything. Thankfully it worked, I woke up before the alarm. Look what I got to see! Normally I would have slept right through this...

Yep, that's the moon!

Lots of light, sun is just barely starting to rise

 Our beautiful backyard home. Thank you George and Deba!

 (That's George taking pictures too)

 What made this even better was every morning just after the sun rose a huge HERD of these noisy little guys would come running by, hither and thither, yabbering loudly at each other. Believe me, quails don't make a normal bird noise either!! I really enjoyed watching them every morning (and salivating lightly, I will admit.)

 See the one standing on the rock bossing everyone around? By the way they were darting around you'd think they were trying to be stealthy... But they didn't seem to be that afraid of me and WOW they were chatty!

 Got some delicious, homemade breakfast and plenty of BS in the system, decided to head out for the day. These ST-Owners gatherings are very informal, with few if any set plans, really letting each rider do as they wish. I prefer riding alone, so it suited me just fine to tackle a nice, long, scenic day including a bunch of old Route 66, small towns and even the Hoover Dam! I would pass a few other ST riders in small groups throughout the day, we would wave at each other. I'm sure one group got a good laugh as they passed me all warm and dry on their big bikes and big windshields as I was tucked in tight trying to stay dry in a small cold rainstorm! LOL! Here's what the day looked like for me, I would ride in Arizona, California and Nevada.

Now, mind you, I went riding right through Oatman, and right past the "wild" donkey's on the other side... I didn't stop to take a single picture or enjoy any of it. I get in that mindset sometimes, trying to break myself of the habit of go, go, go. So, I got about 7min outside of Oatman and thought, "you dummy, turn your ass around!" So I did, got a bunch of photos, talked to some nice folks, and watched donkeys for about 15 minutes.

Oatman was a neat little town. Total tourist trap, but it seemed like they had left a lot of things untouched so it was fun to ride through.

This stuff was weird... Looks like it should be soft... But it's not!

According to the sign in Oatman, these guys were descendents from the donkeys the miners used. I sat here and watched and watched...

This guy was SOUND asleep leaning against a post.

This guy was the most photogenic.

Check these little ones out! Twins!! I'm assuming that's Momma in white.

Oh yeah. Really wild. LOL!

Check out the backdrop!

Just sat and watched for a long time.

These things were huge! Past a whole bunch of them once I got through Oatman.

Didn't stop for any more pictures until the pull off to see Lake Mead near the Hoover Dam. Wow the colors were striking!

Got the Ninja and aaaaaaaall my stuff settled in the parking garage at the Hoover Dam, plan was to take the long, 1 hour tour! I was so excited.

You just can't fathom how HUGE this thing is, and what an accomplishment it was to build during the Great Depression until you see it in person.

Check out the angle of the towers... That's the new bridge in the distance. Unlike the Dam, which was finished years ahead of schedule and under budget, that bridge was way over budget and took years longer.... What a crock.

I couldn't help myself... Check this lady out... While we were waiting for our tour guide for the long tour.... Lady, it's 60 degrees out!!

The long tour really was worth every penny. I'd recommend it! Going IN the dam was just awesome. Here are a few pictures, check out the slideshow as there are a LOT more!

Water goes through there...

Forest, one of our guides. He was REALLY good. But, if you got bored (I didn't), you could just watch his beard.... We had a couple different guides. They were all fantastically good at their job and passionate about the dam, and every single one of them was, um, different. LOL!!

The generators. Well, half of them. In the summer, they're working at full capacity to charge everyone's air conditioners! Did you know the dam has paid the federal government back in full including interest all the money it took to build the place? They are also completely self sustaining. Although they are managed by the federal government, they do not take any money. Awesome.

This "little" generator created all the power for the dam and it's buildings.

The original styling was very attractive. Very art deco, reminded me of a lot of the soviet designs.


The view at the end of the tunnel:

This crack is what they made to accommodate the shift of the tectonic plates... Could you imagine trying to calculate that during the Great Depression??

Here's how they measured it...

The original stairs... Thankfully we got to use elevators.

Neat!! According to our tour guide, the Dam has survived 2 major earthquakes with zero damage.

There is NO rebar in the Dam. It's all concrete. They used wood forms to make these tunnels. Here's a close up of the wall. Can you see the wood grain? Again, neat!!

Anyways, the tour was incredible and the original design was staggering. The beauty and extravagance of the original foyers and guest areas in almost unbelievable. A lot of marble and brass. Really difficult to get pictures of it though, very small areas that our tour group filled easily. Here's an example though, at the original guest bathrooms. Those walls are actually a very deep green stone!

Beautiful, and not at all what I expected. I can't wait to go back.

Yes, these were built right along with the dam.

I wish I was this photogenic!

Good thing I had sunglasses on. And was alone. I will admit my eyes got a bit watery...

Got back to the garage, everything was right where I left it. Fired up the GoPro and did a few passes across the Dam.

Got back to Kingman, about an hour and a half away, just in time to meet up with everyone for dinner. What a GREAT DAY that was!! Here's the full slideshow of 112 photos.

Saturday night it rained a bit (does it ever rain a lot in Arizona?) and woke to cool, cloudy skies. Most people headed home, a few of us went out to get lunch. After lunch the rest left, so it was just me, George and Deba. We took care of some things on their to-do list, and generally lazed around. What a nice relaxing day! No photos though, I didn't even bring my camera with me! Got the bike all packed up and slept in the guest room that night. Oh the joys of a warm bed!

Up bright and early Monday morning, a PERFECT day for riding! Much much better than Sunday, especially at higher elevations. I'm glad I waited. Big day planned, mostly full of new roads recommended by the locals and a few I had done before. Today would be just over 600 miles of almost all 2 laners, probably take me just under 13 hours to complete. Woohoo!!

As time was a bit of the essence, I decided to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Didn't stop for any photos. However I did run the GoPro going up into Prescott and into Jerome. I should have run it in the White Mountains too, but I was having waaaaaaaaaay too much fun to stop.

Took me 12 hours and 45 minutes to complete the day, I rolled into Albuquerque about 10 minutes before I said I would! I'm never that accurate, you should've seen the look on Mom and Dad's face! It really was a great ride. I can't wait to do it again. Spent a few days in Albuquerque then headed home for Denver on Thursday. The weather was good, I got to stay off the interstate for that leg as well.

I'm so glad I went! This really was a last minute call based on weather and road conditions, and man did I score big!


  1. Great fotos and write-up, Ash. Glad you were able to be here. See ya in the new season.

  2. Hi Smash,

    I'm sorry to say this was my first visit to your blog. It will not be my last!

    Great write up and pics. You made me feel like I was along for the ride. Want to come along with Bug Dr and I on our next adventure? We can handle the pics, but we could use a scribe!