05 Trip Notes
Days 11-12, July 23-24 –
The Long Ride Home, Part 1
No matter where you
go on vacation, you always have to head home sometime. We (Larry, Barb
and I) loved the resort at Estes Park so much, we actually tried to get
another night, but they were sold out. (Check out the pictures, taken
just outside our room…)
We continued on 34
through the “Big Thompson” canyon (along the same river that was outside
our room), all the way to I-25. However, almost 20 miles of it had
recently been black-topped, some of it with fresh oil. The bikes seemed
to be ok, but whatever oil we got will be hard to get off.
Riding up I-25, and
then on 59 after Douglas, is just rough, barren landscape. Not much to
talk about. I did notice that, in Colorado, there is a Cheyenne
Mountain, which is an integral part of our anti-missile defense system.
AND, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, there is a real missile base. Hmmm; I wonder
if they every play make-believe war games, and, if so, who wins?
Perhaps the most
interesting thing that happened on our return to Gillette was that my
bike hit 95,000 (ninety-five THOUSAND) miles. It was just north of
Wright, Wyoming, and I stopped to take the picture. 95,000 miles on a
2000-model-year bike means I’ve gotten a lot of riding out of this
machine. I’ll also hit 96,000 miles somewhere around the Snoqualmie
Pass, but I don’t think I’ll take a picture of that.
Getting back into
Gillette, I called my buddy Gary Woods, and suggested we do dinner. I
wanted to meet his wife and family. Gary and I went to the local Pizza
Hut, and called Colleen. Colleen gathered up the kids (Trevor, 7, and
Michael, 17?) and came to meet us. We ordered pizza, and Gary and I
split a pitcher swapping stories. Gary has always told me that his
Colleen is much like my Anne, and he’s very right. After dinner, we
headed to Gary’s house, to look at pictures and more stories. Around
10:00, he took me back to the Sanneman’s, who were very patient with me
bouncing around so much. We watched some TV, talked about my early
departure, and said some good-byes. A very nice evening.
When I awoke and
got dressed around 6:30, Larry was up and ready to go get a Starbucks
and doughnut with me. We had our last face-to-face chat for a while,
drank our coffee’s, and I left town right at 8:00. I had a blast with
Larry & Barb, and will always remember this great trip with good
I got to Sheridan
around 9:30, and tried to call my uncle Bud and aunt Lucy. But I didn’t
have their phone number, and none of the 3 “Clark’s” that I tried were
home or them. Too bad. I probably should have planned to visit them,
and brought their number for sure. Next time.
Gillette to Redmond is about Missoula, where I planned to spend the
night. About 60 or so miles out of Butte, the winds and dark clouds
started acting up, and it lasted until about 60 miles the other side. I
became rather tired of fighting the winds, but didn’t really realize it
until I stopped, and my arms felt 6-inches longer, and I felt I was
walking around like a gorilla. The hotel had internet access, and I’m
able to up-load pictures to the
www.weltner.net web site, as well as send out emails.
Tomorrow is another
long-haul day: 500-ish miles. But I’ll be glad to get home to my own
bed, to see my lovely wife, and all the other things that matter when
you come home from a trip. But it has been a great trip.
Day 10, July 22 –
Passing through lots of Passes
After packing up
and getting ready to go, we quickly concluded trying to do Pike’s Peak
would be an all-day event, so we needed to put that off for another
year. No problem. Our route to Estes Park went through the Rocky
Mountain National Park, as well as at least 4 passes, most over 10,000
ft in elevation.
Springs, we went on Hwy 24 through Manitou Springs. We made up for not
seeing the Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde (where there were forest fires)
by stopping at these Cliff Dwellings and historical artifacts from the
Anastazia People. These particular dwellings were transported from the
4 Corners region of Colorado, to be related to the Garden of the Gods,
Pikes Peak and other attractions nearby. They were, quite frankly,
better than I thought they might be (after I was told they were
transported from the 4 Corners area). Larry, Barb and I had our
pictures taken in some windows, and also browsed through the gift shop
for a long time.
Our first pass was
Ute Pass, at 9,165 ft, along Hwy 24. Next, also along Hwy 24, was
Wilkerson Pass (9,507 ft), which brought an impressive vista of a wide
open valley, bounded by other Rockies further west. Continuing west on
Hwy 24, we stopped for gas and lunch in Hartsel, and then headed north
on Hwy 9. Next on the route was the town of “Fairplay”, which is the
inspiration for South Park, the TV cartoon. The next pass was Hoosier
Pass, at 11,541 ft, and presented the great view of Breckenridge, the
famous skiing center. The next town of “Frisco” reminded me of Lake
Tahoe, because it was very “Yuppified”, and near a beautiful lake.
Next was a short,
25-ish mile ride on I-70, and the craziness we have come to know from
Colorado drivers. We took a rest stop at Georgetown, a famous silver
site, and then proceeded to our turn-off on Hwy 40. This was a very
spectacular stretch, which crossed the Continental Divide at Berthoud
Pass (11,315 ft). We took pictures here, too. When we got to Granby,
we went right on Hwy 34, and quickly got into the Rocky Mountain
National Park. I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever been in this park
before; I might have been, but I can’t remember. My parents took me to
lots of National Parks. If I had been to this one before, I should have
remembered it. We saw elk and other wildlife, much like you might find
at Yellowstone Park.
But the real beauty
of the park is how the road travels on the crests of several great
mountain ranges. Up and up and up we went, through twisties and
switchbacks. The vistas were great, and we would stop for pictures
frequently. Finally, we’re at what seems like the top, around 12,000
feet, and we travel at the top of the crest for what seems like an
hour. The road was narrow, and off either the right or the left side
were shear drop-offs. Winds were blowing, and it was difficult to keep
the speed up. I was also a bit worried about my front disc brakes, but
didn’t really have much problem. Our route down was equally impressive
with switch-backs and views. What a wonderful ride. The closest thing
I can compare it to is the rim road around Yosemite.
The town of Estes
Park, just outside of the Rocky Mountain National Park, is just a little
hamlet. The resort operator recommended a little place called “Beverly
Hills”. I was buying dinner. We got good, homemade food, and took
dessert back with us for later.
My ride today was a
bit of a dream. You can’t imagine how small Snoqualmie seems once
you’ve been up 2-3 or 4 times higher. And, going over several of these
in one day, well, I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.
Day 9, July 21 –
Panic in the Garden of the Gods
I’m generally an
early riser, so I had no problem getting up early for a fast run up to
Denver before Larry & Barb woke up. The place that would have my
diabetic supplies was supposed to open at 9:00, and Denver was supposed
to be 45 miles away, so I figured I would try to be on the road by 8:00,
there by 8:45, and back before 10:00. Was not to be.
I actually had
breakfast among a bunch of Mennonites; they might have been Amish, but
they were traveling by bus, so I think they were Mennonites. News of
the London bombings on the TV. How sad; the true measure of terrorism
is when even relatively ‘small’ disasters cause so much grief. I got on
the road by 7:45. Good thing, too. Denver is actually more like 60-70
miles away. And I had to stop for gas somewhere. The real panic of the
day, and, frankly, this whole trip occurred trying to get around
Denver. People drive 70+ mph, and drive bumper to bumper. Very scary.
I was next to a truck that slammed on his breaks, created a cloud of
blue smoke as the tires skidded, and then whammed on the throttle again
in order to not get rear-ended and in an accident. Very scary. The
directions I had were good, albeit without any indication of distances.
Found the distribution site, which was really nothing more than a “Mail
Boxes Etc” kind of place. Nobody there, and it didn’t open until 9:30.
Wandered around, had some coffee, killed time. Finally showed up at
9:29, had a fax about me, and a form or me to fill out. They gave me my
supplies, and I was once again in the Denver rat race.
I got back to our hotel in Colorado Springs, Larry & Barb were gone. I
went to my room, and promptly fell asleep. Awoke to the knock on the
door, them telling me that they were doing laundry, and also checked out
the local Harley shop. No problem; I went back to my nap. Awoke again
around 12:30, hungry for lunch, but no Larry & Barb. Found them in the
parking lot. They, too, were ready for lunch, so we did the “Old
Chicago” right next door. Good food. Asked if we could get some ice
from them for our cooler, and they said no problem.
Our plan for the
afternoon was to visit the “Garden of the Gods”, a picturesque and
unique rock formation, which is actually a city park. We took the
guided tour, and then went around the park on the bikes. It was nice to
hear the history, and then experience it in the open air of the bikes.
Took the long-way around to Balancing Rock, and took many pictures.
Stopped for a coffee and water at the century-old “Trading Post”, and
enjoyed the various exhibits there, too.
Coming home, I
wanted to stop at a Honda shop. I can hear my front disc brakes
squealing, and its time for new pads. But we had to find it. I had
looked it up on the internet, but didn’t have an exact address. Sure
enough, I went left when I should have gone right, and went 15 minutes
in the wrong direction. It was so hot that we decided to heat home. In
6:00 traffic. Man, was it hot. Very frustrating, not knowing exactly
where you’re going, and making wrong turns, in near-record breaking
heat. But we did survive.
I’ve been trying to
call my wife, Anne. Tomorrow is her birthday. I miss her very much.
She’s with her sister in California. She has her cell phone. If you
call 425-941-5176, please wish her a very happy Birthday, and tell her
that I’m very lucky to have her stay with me for so long. If you’d
rather send an email, it’s
email@example.com, but she won’t get it until Sunday. If you could
help me out with this, I’d really appreciate it.
Dinner at the
Outback tonight. Good steak. I’m hot and tired, and should go to bed.
Tomorrow we run Pike’s Peak, and go to a resort north of Denver (Estes
Park), hopefully without trying to go through Denver in the process.
Day 8, July 20 –
The Durango / Colorado Springs Dichotomy
certainly an interesting place, and one I should come back to when I
have more time. As it was, we had 300+ miles to make in a day of
record-breaking heat, so we elected to try to get an early start, and
didn’t spend much time there.
At breakfast, Larry
noticed a group of particularly ugly cars outside the hotel, apparently
lining up. By their behavior (and odd paint jobs), Larry assumed they
were taxi’s, waiting for fares. When I went out to start loading the
trailer, I asked what they were. Turns out they were pre-production
factory cars, from Michigan, out on an extended test run, apparently
trying out different configurations and so forth. They couldn’t tell me
what kind they were, but also said, “you can probably tell just by
looking at them.” Ford Focus’s? Something better? I’m not a good
judge. Maybe you can look at the pictures and tell.
Leaving town, we
saw (and heard) the steam trains heading on their run up the mountain.
There was not one, but four trains, and they left such a cloud of smoke
that the Hwy 160 was covered in black smoke for quite some distance. I
probably should have stopped and taken a picture or two, but we really
wanted to be on the road.
The 100+ degree
temperatures have had a deleterious effect on my insulin pump and
delivery system. My “tender” is something similar to an IV, only it is
subcutaneous, or just under the skin, not into a blood vessel. But the
heat makes the site of the injection fall off from sweat. I brought two
more than I might normally need, but have gone through them. I called
my pump maker, who has a place where I can get some more in Denver, and
I’ll make a run up there tomorrow morning. I’ll have to buy a whole
box, much more than normal, but with the heat, that’s what I have to
A place where I
took many pictures was a very high (10,000+ feet) pass, Wolf Creek
Pass. First, the rocks there reminded me of the Castle Craigs in
Dunsmuir, California. Second, we got stopped for 45 minutes outside a
tunnel, where they were doing road work on the other side. Very warm,
but not in the 100’s.
Just after the
pass, still on 160, we got into the high dessert again. But, probably
due to the time of day, the temperatures were more tolerable, something
like 85-95. We cruised through dozens of towns where the elevation
exceeded the population. No bother, really, other than having to change
from 65, to 55, to 45 and then to 35, and then back up the scale to get
out of town. Eats a lot of time. Very boring, too.
Where Hwy 160 meets
up with I-25, the temperatures rose dramatically. Suddenly, we were in
the 105 degree heat again. Fortunately, we only had about 70-90 miles
of this before we reached Colorado Springs. While Durango is a small
tourist town nestled into the crevices of a mountain base, Colorado
Springs is a big, spread-out metropolis. Very, very different cities.
there are two Hampton Inns in Colorado Springs, and we went to the wrong
one first. Didn’t get checked in until about 6:00. Again, we had the
smoking rooms. Again, we asked that they be sprayed. (I think they
called the treatment, “getting ozoned” or something.) Took one-half an
hour per room. We didn’t want to go to dinner until the treatment,
because we wanted to get cleaned up first. I used the time to call my
insulin pump people, and make the arrangements to get the supplies in
Finally in the
rooms, we agreed to meet in one hour for dinner. I got the laptop ready
for email, and stripped down to nothing to clean up. “I’ll just check
email first”, I thought. Then, before I knew it, there was a knock at
the door. 45 minutes had passed with me just looking at email!
Arrrgghhh. Larry checked his email while I got dressed.
Intended to go to
the “Old Chicago” pasta and pizza place. 30 minute wait, so Larry
decided to check out the wait at the “Outback”. They, too, had people
out in the street. Just for the heck of it, Larry and Barb walk over to
the Hooters next door, and call me on my cell to tell me they got a
table right away. Now, most people know I’m far to shy to go to
Hooters. I must say, it is hard not to stare. I don’t know how I will
go to sleep tonight.
Tomorrow we go to
the Monument of the Gods, supposed to be a fun, interesting rock
Good day, good
friends. The kind of day vacations are supposed to be full of.
Day 7, July 19 -
The Dance to 4 Corners and Durango
In a day when you
go over a pass which was 10,000+ in elevation, and then walk around a
4-corners monument with the temperature at 110 degrees, you know you’ve
covered some ground.
I left Durango and
the Gold Rush event with some trepidation. Before I went, I had felt
sure that some of the staff did not really want me there; but, in
actuality, almost everybody I met was surprised at my change in
position, and had wanted to sit with me to discuss things about the GWTA.
However, I had my plans to go see the 4-corners area, and see other
parts of Colorado, so I took off.
Larry, Barb and I
met for breakfast at 7:30, which is early for Barb, intent on getting on
the road before 8:30. We had the trailer packed and ready to go by
8:15, and we were off. Our route today took us 90 miles down south on
Hwy 50 to Ridgeway, 30 miles over the Dallas Divide (8,970 ft), and then
87 miles down 145 through Telluride and the ski areas of Lizard Head
pass (10,222 ft) then down to Delores and Cortez, which are pretty much
dessert. It’s about 40 miles of 65 mph freeway from Cortez to the
4-corners area, which links Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.
It’s in the middle of nowhere. And it’s hot there: it was 110 degrees
while we were there. I actually didn’t like it that I had to pay $3 to
the Navajo Indians to spend 15-20 minutes at the 4-corner monument, but
I guess that’s what it is. I bought post cards, but not enough, I
discovered. Oh well.
Throughout the day,
I was trying to compare the geography to places I have been. Much was
like the Methow Valley, only the rock out-croppings were way more red
than that. Much was like the area between Wenatchee and Quincy, with
rocky cliffs running by a clear river. Other parts were much more like
eastern Washington, with more green and mountains.
We had also wanted
to go to the Mesa Verde area to see the Cliff dwellers, but time was
going by, and we were exhausted from the heat. Instead, we just headed
straight for our hotel in Durango. To the air-conditioned rooms. And a
BBQ dinner. Ahhh, what bliss. There are some things you just don’t
appreciate until you experience the other side.
We’re staying in
Hampton Inn’s, because Larry & Barb’s daughter Dianna works at one, and
we get the employee discount. BUT, because we’re last on the list, and
the hotel is full, we have smoking rooms, much to the chagrin of Larry
and Barb. For the price, I’m not going to complain one iota.
Turns out there is
a Kawasaki Voyager (another touring motorcycle) convention going on
here. We talked in the CB to some folks from Seattle. Pretty cool.
We have a long trip
tomorrow: going to Colorado Springs, about 300 miles, but a good part of
it is through the dessert. We plan on bringing lots of water, and
stopping as often as necessary. Larry did not get a good night sleep
last night, perhaps because of the wine we drank. I slept well, but was
still tired in the heat. I hope to get to bed early tonight.
Day 6, July 18 -
Gold Rush and the
everything, they say. Day 6 found me chasing time, all day long.
Started out when I
got up early, and discovered that the Registration for the GWTA Gold
Rush (the original reason for my trip to Colorado) opened at 7:00 am. I
had set up to meet Larry for breakfast at 7:30. If I hurried, I could
get registered before breakfast. It was neat getting to the
registration early, and seeing my friends from the National Office,
Jennifer and Tara. And others on the National Staff of GWTA were there
and very friendly to me, too. I had been a National Staff person, too,
until April. A falling out with the person who put Gold Rush together
caused enough strife and stain that I thought perhaps they should find
someone to replace me, who could get along better with the Gold Rush
organizer. Perhaps I could have handled things better; water under the
bridge now. Now I was just another GWTA member; I was happy to have the
friends I do on the National Staff, and I hope to keep them in the
But my renewing
friendships took me longer than 7:30. I got back to the hotel (just
across the street from the convention center) right at 7:30, but missed
Larry, who was looking for me. We finally get together, and, after
eating our breakfast, he decides he’d like his own registration bag,
rather than have all of our stuff in one. No problem. We wander back,
and get another. By the time we get back, Barb is there. We have
nearly 2 hours until the Opening Ceremonies (with a laser light show),
so I go back to my room to brush my teeth and perhaps take a short nap.
I wake up just 5 minutes to the 10:00 start time, and end up rushing
over to the convention center. Can’t find Larry & Barb. They do the
“Oh Canada” and the “Star Spangled Banner”, and I see them. We sit
together for the mostly-fun opening, but Larry takes offense to a slight
jab to a Harley that could be a prize in the National Raffle ticket
sales. Oh well; I didn’t even catch it.
Ceremonies, we wander across town to where the vendors are, at the
Double Tree. Not much in the way of vendors, really. But I do see more
friends, and I’m glad for that. Didn’t get to spend much time with
anybody, because I was running around to and fro. While having a drink
inside, one of my old National Staff friends comes up, and I buy $5
worth of raffle tickets from him. I explain that this guy still liked
me, so I had to buy them from him. He tells me that 99% of the National
Staff wishes I was still there, which makes me feel better. Bitter
sweet stuff. We then went to lunch at Denny’s, and I went back for the
chat with the Executive Director and Chairman of the Board. Not well
attended: maybe 30 people came. I learned a few tidbits, but mostly it
was things I already knew, or had no interest in. Not a total waste of
time, but somewhat.
Larry and Barb had
gone on a ride to some wine tasting places, and brought back some to
drink tonight. We loaded the bathroom sink with ice as a make-shift
cooler, and then went on a ride to the Colorado National Monument. Such
a spectacular geological site. It was like the Grand Canyon, only we’re
inside of it. Only 27 miles in length, it takes a long time to ride it
because you just have to stop and take pictures. But you could never
have enough film, or batteries in the case of a digital camera.
Again, I had
misjudged the time. I wanted to get back for a dance at 6, but we had
spent a great deal of time taking pictures. I eventually decided that I
had to take off, get back to the hotel to change, and get some dinner,
too. Didn’t get to the dance until about 7:30. But it was a real drag.
Nobody was dancing. They were doing Karaoke, but it was lousy. No
fun. I went back to the hotel, but Larry & Barb must have gone out to
dinner, and were no where to be found. So I decide to start writing my
(this) daily journal.
I have to look at
the bright side: I saw a large number of friends, renewed other
acquaintances, bought some GWTA shirts I wanted, and saw the Colorado
National Monument via motorcycle. Who could want more in one day than
Life is better when
you think positively. I did have a great day after all.
Day 5, July 17 –
Grand Ride to Grand Junction
Day 5 of my 05
Adventure found me up early. I had had a low-sugar condition the night
before, and I wanted to get a good breakfast to make sure I would be ok
for the day. I was up at 6:15, showered, made the coffee, and waiting
for Larry on the deck of the timeshare condo by 7-ish. Larry & I had
agreed to let Barb sleep in, and we would go find a breakfast place. I
had decided to bring the laptop, too, in a wish to find a place to
wirelessly upload my daily chronicles.
Larry and I went to
“The Egg & I” restaurant, where he had a great omelet, and I had so-so
Denver scramble. But, interestingly, what we talked about were family
Thanksgivings and other holidays. We each had some rich memories to
share. Very neat.
There was a
Starbucks next door, but they didn’t have wireless. They recommended a
bookstore / coffee shop in town. While there, we invited a nice lady
from Yonkers, NY to sit with us, and had a delightful conversation. The
laptop I’m using is a 6-year-old Gateway, which is surely one of the
slowest systems on earth. Takes about 10-15 minutes to just boot up and
load Internet Explorer, Word, and FrontPage. Only then can I send my
mail, and upload new pages to the weltner.net site of my travels.
(House-keeping note: please do visit the
www.weltner.net site to see pictures of my trip; a button off of the
main page will take you directly to the 05 Adventures.) (Another
house-keeping note: many folks have emailed me concerned about my
comments about not wearing a helmet; rest assured, I always wear my
helmet while going down the freeway on this trip. However, when the
temperatures are in excess of 100 degrees in town, it is easy to fall
into the habit of not wearing it for around-town trips. Because of the
large number of messages, I will endeavor to wear it all the time, no
matter what. Thanks for your concerns; I appreciate your thoughts.)
We were on the road
by 10:00, through a very scenic part of Colorado between Steamboat
Springs and Wolcott. It reminded me of Eastern Washington, but there
was much more exposed rock and vertical uprising. The two-lane road
curved through numerous small towns, and I did stop to take a picture or
two. We then got on I-75 and stopped for lunch at Eagle. (Larry wisely
asked me to check my blood; it was fine, but it was also a good time to
stop for lunch.) We also went to a visitors center there, and got
several brochures about scenic spots around Grand Junction. From Eagle,
it was just a short trip to the most spectacular run of the day, through
Glenwood Canyon. The deep carving through bright red rock assaults your
senses and makes you wonder how such a beautiful place was formed over
thousands, millions or billions of years. I-75 goes right along the
river here, and is an engineering masterpiece melding art and function.
I don’t know exactly how long the canyon goes, but it seemed like 20 or
more miles that we traveled in the bowels of the ancient river crevice.
We stopped for
water at Rifle, and read about Christo’s ‘70’s curtain across the canyon
there. $650,000 in ‘70’s dollars, for a curtain that only lasted one
day. Larry wasn’t impressed, but I had to explain to him that this was
art. Larry just doesn’t understand the message behind the medium, I
It was a straight
shot from Rifle to Grand Junction, less than 65 miles. Found the
Hampton Inn in short order, and we all decided to rest before dinner.
At 5:30, I was ready to go to Palisades for the GWTA “Family Reunion”,
but Larry and Barb decided to stay. No problem. I had trouble finding
the Civic Center, but eventually spotted the couple hundred
motorcycles. Got pictures of several friends, and met several new
ones. After a couple of hours, I headed back to Grand Junction (about
10-12 miles) with a group of bikes from Illinois. Was looking for my
friend Burt Wagner (from Chicago), but didn’t find him. Oh well; I’m
sure I’ll find him tomorrow.
Larry & Barb found
me when I returned, and we all went out to get a beer. The main street
of Grand Junction has lots of artwork on it, and we wandered around
looking at the various pieces before we found the local brewery. I
wasn’t impressed with their “Rabbit Ears Amber”, but thought their
“Colorado River Pale Ale” was OK. I’ll ask for a sampler before I order
It was a grand ride
to Grand Junction. I’ll always remember the stark beauty of the
Day 4, July 16 –
Cruising to Steamboat Springs
Day 4 of my 05
Adventure found me being “that guy”. You know, the guy who is always
late; who wants to stop at this and that; who can’t seem to get ready;
the guy you’re always waiting for. Today, I was “that guy”.
First, I normally
am up and at ‘em early. My internal alarm starts going off at 5:00, and
I’m ready to go do whatever by 6 or 6:30. Not today. I slept in past
8:00. I have no idea why. Then, when everybody else seemed ready to
go, I couldn’t get my stuff packed. People kept bringing me stuff I had
forgotten. It was embarrassing, too. We had said we wanted to get an
‘early start’, which I think meant gone by 9:00. Well, we were on our
way to breakfast (in Gillette) by 10:00, and not on the road until
closer to 11. Poof! There went our early start.
Then I wanted to
stop to put ice in the cooler. Went to get gas, and got ice there. I
also wanted sun screen; the temperatures were over 95 degrees already,
and I decided to ride without my leather jacket. Barb put some of hers
on me, because the little store at the gas station didn’t have anything
above SPF 4. (What good is SPF 4, anyway?) Bought some more water,
too; a 12 pack. (More on this later.)
So off we go.
Gillette down 59 to Wright. Along the way, we saw a huge herd of
Buffalo (being raised for their meat), and I stopped to take a picture.
(“That guy…”) From Wright (where Gary Woods and I had had lunch), we
went west on 387 to Edgerton and Midwest, catching 259 and I-25. Along
this route, we stopped for the sign about the “Bozeman Trail”, and read
the signs about unitized oil fields in Edgerton/Midwest. From there we
went to Casper for lunch, at an interesting A&W that was over 50 years
old. (We just had root-beer floats, fries, and lots of icewater.)
Gassed up, replenished the ice, and bought some lip balm for my poor
blistered lips. Less than a mile down the road, the cooler chest came
un-done from the trailer, and spilled the contents all over the
highway. (“That guy…”) Larry helped me collect as much as we could get
easily, and we (together) made sure the cooler chest was secure before
we headed out again.
southwest, the temperatures were easily above 100, probably more like
106. Much of this way, I thought we were traveling in God’s great, big
ice cream container of various kinds of chocolate swirls, raspberry, and
Neapolitan; the geography just seemed to be scooped out, leaving us to
see the edges of the rock layers and their variously colored strata. We
went to “Independence Rock”, where people heading west had to pass
before July 4th in order to sure to get past the Rockies
before the onset of winter. The rock itself is also know as the
“Registry of the West”, because people would carver their names in it,
with data like their age, the date, and other stuff. Very interesting
place. Also met some other Gold Wingers heading to Gold Rush in Grand
Junction. They were from Rapid City, South Dakota, not far from where
we started in Gillette. They were only going to Rawlings for the night,
and then on to Grand Junction.
Our next stop was a
short ways down the road to “Muddy Gap Junction”, where we bought more
ice for the cooler, to keep the few bottles of water we collected cool.
From Muddy Gap to Rawlins, we criss-crossed the Continental Divide
multiple times. I stopped to take pictures of one of them. (“That guy
again…”) From Rawlins we went on I-80 for a short ways, then exited to
Hwy 789 to Baggs. This lonely highway also crossed the Continental
Divide, and ran along what sometimes seemed to be the top of the world.
There was a lightening storm going on in the distance, and we were
occasionally pelted by water bugs (rain drops). Just after Baggs we
came to the Colorado state line, and I wanted a picture of that, too.
From there to Craig we discussed on the CB whether we wanted Mexican
food or Chinese food: Larry supports several coal mines in the area, and
could recommend these two choices. We decided on the Mexican, because
the had such good Ice Tea, according to Larry. He was right, and it was
a good dinner. Craig to Steamboat Springs down Hwy 40 wasn’t very far
(41 miles), but it was becoming twilight, and we were eager to get
stopped. After 400-ish miles, with someone who wants to be “that guy”
all day, we were ready to stop.
is really a ski-town for the winter, but it was full of tourists /
visitors for a softball tournament (we think). I’m rather impressed
with the time-share arrangements, but Larry and Barb are somewhat
disappointed, having higher expectations than me. I will say that not
having any internet connections seems out of sorts for 2005, but perhaps
that’s just me.
I’m happy to be
here, and I’m hoping I’m not “that guy” tomorrow.
|Day 3 - Doing Devils Tower
Day 3 began with Larry suggesting that
we go down to Albertson’s for some good Starbucks coffee. Because this
is Wyoming, helmets are essentially optional. And, with the heat over
100 every day, most riders don’t wear helmets. So, I decided, when in
We got to
Albertson’s, sat and drank our coffee, chatting with the baristas and
other customers. We talked about Cat (who Larry works for), their
future technology, and what Larry wants to do with them. Cool stuff.
We went out because
Barb wanted to sleep in for the first day of her vacation. Getting back
to home, Larry checked the rubber on his rear tire, and decided he
needed a new one before we took off for Colorado. The local Harley shop
had one, and worked him in. We ran over there; I had never ridden at
highway speeds without a helmet before, and it was a strange experience
for me. (We took a different way home.) Since we had the morning of
time, I used the time to complete my paperwork for the Saddle Sore 1000,
and send it off to the Iron Butt Association.
from my trip: I went 1053 miles by my speedometer, used 33.9 gallons of
gas, for an average mpg of 31. I figured that, doing 75 mph most of the
time, pulling a trailer, 31 mpg isn’t too bad.
During lunch, I
find out that it is Larry and Barb’s 27th Anniversary. So we
sang “Happy Anniversary” during the lunch. After lunch, I pushed their
son, Tom, into riding the Silver Wing 500 I had given him a couple of
weeks before. I would have thought he couldn’t resist riding, but he
really hadn’t ridden. So Larry had him doing starts and stops in front
of the house, eventually shifting into second, and down shifting and so
forth. But it was the middle of the day, and very hot, and Tom got
tired. No problem. So we all shifted to inside, where it was cooler.
Time caught up with
me. Staying up late, the oppressive heat, and other excitement made me
very tired, and I took a nap. I woke up with Larry coming home from the
Harley shop with the bike. We decided to do he Devils Tower run in the
afternoon. Only about 70 or so miles, it was a relatively easy run,
through great country. Coming up on it, it simply takes your breath
away. You go over a rise, and wham! – it’s right there! We got to the
gate, and they let me in for free because Larry & Barb had a year pass.
We saw lots of prairie dogs, and toured the visitor center.
Devils Tower rises
867 feet from its base, and stands 1,267 feet above the near-by river
which eroded the surrounding sedimentary rock, leaving the tower. In
1906, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devil’s Tower the first
National Monument under the Antiquities Act. Scientists thought at first
that the tower was the core of an ancient volcano, but recent data
suggests it is instead an igneous intrusion. It is a spectacular piece
of America, which I had not seen before today.
I got some good
pictures of the sun going down around the tower. We headed home sort of
late for me. Had dinner, and decided to wash some clothes before taking
Visiting the Devils
Tower was a big experience for me. I will be back here again. It was a
great day to be on a motorcycle, seeing a great American treasure.
Day 2, July 14 –
Bumming with Buddies
Woke up to the
sound of Larry making coffee. Larry knew that I would be so tired after
the Saddle Sore 1000 that the couch alone would suffice as a bed. He
was right. As we’re sipping coffee and catching up, my buddy Gary Woods
called and suggested we meet for breakfast, and I hang out with him
while he was working in the numerous coal fields around Gillette. I
took a shower (whew!) and got dressed, and we headed out to Perkins to
Gary brought his
video camera, and was making scenes about what we did all day long.
(Most of the pictures I have from this day can be accredited to Gary.)
A very nice thing about good friends is that they likely get along well
with your other good friends. I’ve noticed this recently with my
buddies Al & Joel, and the same thing occurred with Gary and Larry.
Gary and I have been close for over 30 years, but we don’t see each
other much. This was the first time in 6-8 years, in fact. But we’re
able to take up just where we left off from the last conversation. Both
Gary and Larry were entertaining themselves telling Jerry stories,
usually at my expense. It was heart-warming to be able to sit with two
buddies, and have them seem to already know each other strictly from
their experiences with me, and be able to get three-way laughs the whole
of our conversation concerned another friend of Gary and I, Brad, who
had come out from Oregon looking for a new start in life, but had been
unable to tame his alcohol demons. I had been looking forward to seeing
Brad, but Gary didn’t know where he was, and feared he was either living
under state of Wyoming hospitality, or on his way back to Oregon.
(Turns out he was right on both counts…)
After breakfast, I
rode with Gary in his coal fields exploration rig down 30-40 miles to
near Wright. I was literally amazed and baffled how Gary could find his
way around the burned clay red roads, turning left here and right there,
with seeming little or no landmarks or signs to guide him. Along the
way, Gary would explain both his family history in the area (which was
quite colorful), as well as the geological quick-course. Turns out that
this area was affected by volcanoes from Yellowstone, which left
silicate ash everywhere, as well as being the bed of a massive formation
of water. The sediment of the bed (probably from volcanic ash) covered
ancient forests. It is these ancient forests which make this area the
“Saudi Arabia of Coal”, explained Gary as we ambled along at 60-70 miles
per hour down narrower and narrower dirt roads. Gary would explain the
various mining methodologies as we would pass them, in one case noting
that one of the big processing operations is the largest single user of
electricity of its kind in the entire US.
After about an hour
of meandering through herds of antelope and jack-rabbits, we came upon a
group of trucks performing a core sampling. They would dig down
50-60-80 feet, looking for how deep the coal was, how thick of a layer
it was, and the general quality. The family operation (father, wife,
son, grandson and a few others) digs 2-3 holes a day, trying to
determine the best location to start a mine. Gary’s rig follows,
sending a radio-active probe down the just-dug hole, producing a visual
report of the gamma resistance and potential quality/quantity of
resources at that site. With my hard-hat firmly attached, they let me
wander around the operation, ask questions, and see how it all
happened. Pretty cool.
It took the first
crew an hour or more to dig a core hole. We had time to kill, so Gary
and I climbed a small butte in the area, with a great look-out of 30 or
more miles of the Wyoming countryside. During the climb, Gary would
tell me about the conflicts between cattle ranchers and homesteaders;
his family had history with the cattle ranchers. There were some
interesting times back then, when arguments would be settled with
pistols as likely as not. When we got back to the core drilling crew,
they had apparently decided this hole did not need Gary’s rig for
analysis, and it was time for a late lunch. We went down the road to
Wright, visiting a Buffalo herd operation in the process. We ate at the
local eatery, and downed a couple of beers, telling the poor bar maid
some of our history together from 30 years ago. My sides were sore from
laughing so much.
We called in to the
core drilling crew, and they had knocked off early, too. So Gary and I
went searching for our buddy Brad, looking where he had last lived to
see if anybody had seen him or knew where he was. No luck. So Gary
dropped me off back at Larry’s place. I spent some of the afternoon
doing my report of the Saddle-Sore 1000 day, and updating the web site.
About the time I had it all up-loaded and sent out, and we were heading
out the door for dinner, Gary called. He had found Brad. Yes, he had
been a guest of the state for a few days, and now was in a motel at the
other side of town. Gary gave me the room number, and I promised to go
looking for him after dinner.
Had dinner at the
best place in Gillette, called Humphries. It’s essentially a Sports Bar
with a camel theme. Waitresses wear shirts with phrases like, “Life Is
Short, Hump Hard”, and “Will Hump For Food”. Great steak. Afterwards,
we took the left-overs to Larry’s daughter working at the Hampton Inn,
and then went to find Brad. He was at the motel, looking a little worse
for wear, and clearly not happy about life. I took him to dinner, and
we talked about things. He’ll be heading out to Oregon as soon as he
can put together the necessary resources. We talked for a long, long
time, but never brought up the subject of his addiction, which was
clearly the root of his issues. Not much to say or do, I guess. I’ll
just keep praying for him from time to time.
It was quite late
(after 11:00) when I got back to Larry’s. Larry and his wife Barb were
out on their back deck, enjoying the cool night air. They had made me a
bed in Larry’s office. We talked more about our plans for Friday (going
to Devils Tower), and our trip to Colorado, and other things, too. Soon
it was time for bed.
Another great day,
full of news and great views, bumming with buddies.
Day 1, July 13 –
Saddle Sore 1000
Doing a Saddle Sore
1000 (going 1000 miles or more in 24 hours or less on my motorcycle) has
been a dream of mine for some time. I had planned to do this trip for
the last several months, getting more and more excited as the time of my
departure (early on the morning of July 13, 2005) came closer. My trip
outline had me going from my home in Redmond, down 1057 miles on I-90,
to my buddy Larry’s in Gillette, WY. Larry was to meet me to escort me
in on his Harley the last part of the ride.
The short story is
that I made it, in 21 hours. The long story follows.
I decided to try to
get an early start, so as to have more / better light at the end of my
journey. I was up at 2:15, took a shower, and packed the trailer.
Truth be told, however, I had not gotten a good night sleep. I had
awoken several times, and was frankly very tired, but still very excited
to be going. I got out of the house around 3:20, hoping to hit the gas
station, get the attendant to be my official witness, and get down the
road by 3:45. I asked, Tony, the Chevron gas station attendant, but he
didn’t want to sign any thing. So I went into the 7-11, and Oralia,
behind the counter agreed. “S. Dyson”, a customer desperate for some
milk at 3:30 in the morning, came in, and was also a witness for me.
I finally got on the road at 3:45.
Snoqualmie was pretty easy; even getting past Ellensburg was pretty
easy. Nearing Vantage, the sun came out and it was beautiful. Stopped
for gas in Quincy, at 6:00 am. Blood sugar was lower than I would like
(less than 50), so I decided to eat something, and drink a cup of
Not far from
Quincy, I started having the first bit of sleepiness, that would plague
me most of day. I noticed myself drooping, and nodding off. Scared the
heck out of me. Big time. Pulled off at Moses Lake at 6:37, and got
another cup of coffee, and tried to rest for 20 minutes. Got back on
the road, and made it to Ritzville (before Spokane), before it happened
again. Pulled off in Ritzville at a little café (Jakes) 7:30, sat in a
booth, and asked for coffee. Woke myself with my own snoring; I had
fallen asleep in the booth waiting for the coffee, which was now cold.
They refilled my coffee with hot liquid, I gulped it down, and headed
down the road with just 20 minutes of rest, but I felt WAY better. Made
it all the way to Post Falls at 9:00 am (for more gas), and was feeling
much better, the best I had felt all day.
Riding through the
northern part of Idaho reminded me of a previous trip with my son Matt.
I had missed getting a picture of the “Welcome to Idaho” sign, and
decided to get one of the entrance to Montana. There wasn’t one.
Instead, I got a picture of the sign at Look Out Pass, with is at “Exit
0” at 10:25 PST. That part of Montana is also a pure delight:
mountains, rivers, lakes, curves. Simply one of the best riding areas
in the northwest.
However, I started
to nod-off again around Superior. I quickly got off, and got another
cup of coffee at 12:15 MST. But the locals kept asking me questions
about the bike and my ride, and I didn’t get any sleep. Coffee tasted
good, and I felt rested enough to get back on the road. My goal was
Missoula, about mid-way on the 1000 mile ride, and time for lunch (1:24
MST.) I felt DRAMATICALLY better after lunch, and made it almost to
Butte before having to pull off (because of getting too tired). Called
my buddy Larry from Butte at 3:52 MST; he was going to leave from his
place in Gillette to me in Billings. But Larry hadn’t had a good night
sleep, either, and suggested he meet me in Sheridan, WY. I knew exactly
how he felt, and I was feeling so much better, that I didn’t mind a
Got to Billings for
dinner at 7:39 MST. Denny’s. Slow, slow, slow. In line, 2 other
bikers came up behind me. The waitress asked if it was for 3, and we
all said that would be fine. Turns out they were from Courtney/Comox,
Vancouver Island, Canada, the same town where I bought my bike from an
estate sale. Turns out they knew the owner of my bike! (I got it with
less than 200 miles, but he had had several ‘Wings before mine.) We
talked about my trip, and their trip. Soon, an hour and a half had
passed, but I was feeling so much better, and so much more rested, that
the 136 miles to Sheridan was no problem at all. Didn’t get out of
Billings until 9:17 MST.
Got to Sheridan at
11:14 pm MST, fueled up, and found Larry very quickly. (We were at
different gas stations; my bad.) Had more coffee, talked about the
trip, and we decided to have Larry’s son Tom ride with me in case I was
getting too tired, so he could poke me. But just the simple act of
following Larry made my ride so much easier, that I wasn’t very tired at
Filled up with gas,
got the receipt, and filled out the witness reports at 1:39 am, MST. 21
hours straight on the road, with a few breaks for food and coffee. I am
now ready to send it all in and get certified as an official “Iron Butt
Association” member, the Worlds Toughest Riders.
I’m pretty happy
about all this. Larry tells me I was snoring loudly in less than 5
minutes. Hmmm. Must have been tired.