2012 Vacation Motorcycle Trip

This year's trip should cover about 6000 miles. One objective is to satisfy an item on Kathleen's 'bucket list'---Zip lining---which we have reservation for at Durango, Co. Besides just touring on the bike thru some of the America's most beautiful and diverse landscapes, we hope to visit Mesa Verde NP, Monument Valley, UT, Capitol Reef NP, Bryce Canyon. Yosemite NP, up Hwy 1 along the California coast across the Golden Gate Bridge, Kings Canyon NP, Sequoia NP, Death Valley NP, Boulder Dam, Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano, NM

Day 1, 480 miles....480 total miles--What a great 'travel day'. We got 3/4 inch of rain overnight and we finished packing in a lite sprinkle. The light rain quit about the same time we were ready to leave. We never did see any temperatures over 88 degrees....unbelievable for OK/Tex panhandles in August. We also had light cross winds. Kathleen DID get to wear her favorite 'outfit'....rain gear. We came to a major storm between us and our destination, Raton, NM. We have learned to suit up BEFORE we get to the storm.....that was a lesson learned from several previous failures to heed the signs. It was very fierce with 50-60 mph cross winds driving the rain sideways. We found a rest area about that time and sat in the shelter for about 30 minutes then dove between 2 storms that final 45 miles to Raton....and the Holiday Inn.

Sabaka supervising the last-minute packing

Kathleen putting on her favorite outfit with the storm in the background

Day 2, 105 miles....585 total miles--Nice short but beautiful ride to Red River, NM. through the Cimmarron Canyon State Park along the headwaters of the Cimmarron River. It was a very puzzling ride. There were 5 or 6 highway patrol cars at the beginning and another 5 or 6 at then end of the canyon...and then there were people stationed about every 100 yards all along the road.....for miles.....to keep people from pulling off and parking on the shoulder.....and then we passed this SUV type truck with cameras out on the end of a long mechanical pole. I don't know....maybe Obumer was in the area.

Kathleen enjoying the relaxing waters of the Cimmarron River

Day 3, 233 miles....818 total miles--It was a glorious 39 degrees when we got up at Red River this morning. It had warmed to about 50 when we headed out. We stopped at the Rio Grande Gorge bridge just west of Taos, NM for a look-see and then proceeded past those funky Earthship houses we saw a couple of years ago. Then we took a road west from there.....HWY 64 towards Tres Piedras. Of all the wonderful motorcycle roads we've been on thru the years this 60 miles to Terra Amarilla is absoultely the BEST. Absolutely gorgeous scenery up to 10,500 ft besides a wonderfully curvey road...with NO traffic. Kathleen even saw a bear meandering across an open field just off the roadway ( I missed it since I was concentrating on the wonderfully curvey road ). Very funny-- we pulled off on a scenic overlook to take in the scenary---think we interrupted a lady that had decided to releave herself just down the slope a bit.....in wide open spaces....as we pulled up to the edge of the overlook she was pulling up her britches...we laughed that she probably just filled her drawers (we were getting a disgusted look ). Next time she'll probably look for a tree or bush. We made it to Durango to our very nice room at the Best Western Rio Grande Inn. Took a walk to the train depot to get familiar with tomorrow's trek.

Phil in the middle of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, looking down

The view at 10500 feet

The picture I just had to stop and take...where the lady was peeing

the locomotive for tomorrows train ride to the zip lines

Day 4, 0 miles....818 total miles--What a day to remember. we had a wonderful time enjoying the worlds largest zip line. All I can say about Soaring Tree Top Adventures is "First Class"

This is how we got there

This is what we did
And even upside down....see the video sometime

Day 5, 235 miles....1053 total miles--Started the morning a little later since our soaring adventure caused us to sleep in a little. We arrived at Mesa Verde NP visitor's center about noon. The ride was grand and the scenery gorgeous. Oddly enough...we bumped into a lady that we spoke to the morning before in the train depot....she was from Oklahoma too. What are the odds of getting within 2 feet of the same person 30 hours....and 40 miles later? In the same group, we met a 77 year old man and wife while having lunch. They were from Ada, OK. He was very excited to see our bike and wished to be traveling with us. We enjoyed our guided tour of the "Long House" ruins in Mesa Verde then had about a 4 hour drive to Kayenta, AZ for the night. It was a very windy, sand blowing, desolate area. We did get to see a preview of tomorrows ride thru Monument Valley ( the amazing rock formations seen in many western movies)

One of the vistas entering Mesa Verde,NP and inside the tunnel as we were leaving

The "Long House" ruins

A preview of tomorrows scenery

Day 6, 267 miles....1320 total miles--If you are a nature lover as Kathleen and I are there is only one word for today -AMAZING- pictures don't do it justice. I have never seen such worthless ground yet with unbelievable beauty. We started the day going thru Monument Valley....just in awe. Then on our way to Natural Bridges Monument we got our challenge for the day....maybe lifetime. The road we were on came to the bottom a huge mesa....turned to gravel....and was a 3-mile long switchback journey up the mesa. Hard to believe I made it up the 10% grade....gravel....switch backs on a Goldwing pulling a trailer. I am either incredibly brave or nuts (probably the latter). But we made it up and had an amazing ride thru some of the most gorgeous canyons.....thru Glen Canyon and on to Capitol Reef NP

Just a couple of pictures of the Monument Valley area

Kathleen shot this pic of the GPS screen of the gravel switchbacks while I was sitting waiting for the bike to cool down a bit
Just 1 of the gravel road switchbacks and what it looked like about 1/2 way up looking over the edge

Phil standing under one of the Natural Bridges

Day 7, 236 miles....1556 total miles--We took a scenic drive in Capitol Reef NP before heading out this morning. It was quite a diverse landscape day. Leaving the canyons of Capitol Reef then up over a moutain at 10K feet....then across the top of the canyons of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument....then on to Bryce Canyon National Park....across another mountain pass into Cedar City,UT for the night. I have posted some pictures below but they in no way show the beauty of the canyons. If you haven't....you must see this area of our country.....pictures simply will not do.

the scenic drive in Capitol Reef National Park

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Bryce Canyon National Park

Day 8, 445 miles....2001 total miles--Today was a "travel day". We completly crossed Nevada and landed in Lee Vining, Ca. at the foot of Yosemite National Park. We were pleasantly surprised at the unexpected cool temperatures. The scenery was also unexpected at first....but that soon changed to match our expectations.....miles and miles of nothing. I wouldn't exchange a shovel full of my 6 acres at home for a 1000 acres of what we saw today. However, excitement on one of these bike tours can take all kinds of forms. Since today's journey was expected to be in a desolate area.....we invoked the "1/2 tank rule". That is to say, not to pass a gas station without filling up once the gas gauge showed 1/2 tank left. We did so and continued down the road until we passed that sign that said "No fuel for 150 miles". I quickly checked the odometer and gas gauge(65 miles since filling up)and did some mental calculations to *estimate* we *might* make it. Pulling the trailer along with going up and down hills made my estimate somewhat ify. I was coasting down hills whenever possible. You should have heard us yelping when we saw that Texaco and McDonalds sign with maybe 10 miles to spare.

These were some of the more scenic areas today

Day 9, 191 miles....2192 total miles--Started the day by purchasing a new tire for the trailer then we spent the rest of the day in Yosemite National Park. The park is the size of Rhode Island so there is a lot of driving from one scenic overlook...or hike to the other. Tho' we enjoy hiking and always try to take one or 2 we look for the easier ones mostly because us 'flat landers' tend to get a little winded in these higher elevations. Today, we ranged from 10,000 ft to 5,000 ft. Yosemite is everything we anticipated. The only drawback is the mob of people. It is interesting in that a very large percentage are from other countries. People watching is about as much fun as site seeing.

A couple of pics in Yosemite including the famous El Capitan

More scenic views

Tunnels are always fun

Day 10, 235 miles....2427 total miles--It was a ride of extremes today. We left the Yosemite NP area in upper 50's only to arrive in Fresno in the lower 90's. We rode thru the San Joaquin Valley and saw mile after mile of vinyard. Then there were the desolate areas where there are obvious water problems. We stopped at Paso Robles for a smoothie to cool down a bit only to experience a 30 degree drop in temperature when we arrived at our destination for the night...Cambria. We holed up in the Fog Catcher Inn right across the street from the beach.

ahhhh...made it to the Pacific

the sun setting on a great day

Day 11, 217 miles....2644 total miles--Drive was entirely going north on Hwy 1 along the coast. It was very cool (59-60) and foggy most of the trip. We got to see some elephant seals, cool light houses and just wonderful curvey road along the coast. We landed in Pacifica, CA for the night and will see the Golden Gate Bridge tomorrow before turning the wing back to the east and head in the direction of home....however, we have a LOT more to see along the way.

Day 12, 241 miles....2885 total miles--First stop of the day...about 30 minutes from Pacifica was the Golden Gate Bridge. It was really a more interesting stop than anticipated. We ended up spending a couple of hours there. We then circled across northern San Francisco thru the Napa Valley where they were just beginning the grape harvest. Vinyards, peach orchards, and walnut groves everywhere. I also opted to take Kathleen thru San Andreas since she was a little rattled about the 300 earthquakes they had in Brawley (southern end of the San Andreas fault)just a couple of days before we entered California. However, the San Andreas town isn't really located on the fault. We then passed thru Calavares ( from the celebrated Jumping Frog from Calavares County ). We landed the wing just a few miles from the west entrance to Yosmite, poised for tomorrow's run thru Yosemite to Kings Canyon NP and Sequoia NP.

Kathleen wanted to try out her newly learned zip line skills

Day 13, 256 miles....3141 total miles--We rode some of the curviest roads we've ever been on....lots of fun....for me anyway. I think Kathleen enjoyed it too. The scenery was beautiful. We first landed in Kings Canyon NP where we saw the General Grant giant sequoia tree. Then on to Sequoia NP where there were lots more of the giant trees along with General Sherman, the largest living tree on the planet. ( we ested today ). We even walked thru the center of a tree that was down and hollow. I don't know what it is about these trees but I feel a kind of reverence whenever I'm around them. As we were leaving the park we came upon a bear and her cub on the hill above us. Again....a wonderful day. Tomorrow is a travel day to get us in position to cross Death Valley....early the next morning.

Day 14, 259 miles....3400 total miles--back to the desert. We did have a nice ride thru a narrow canyon along the Kern River. I turned on the video camera attached to my mirror for some neat video of the ride. I hope to upload a short video so someone can see what its like to ride the motorcycle thru some pretty good twisties. We arrived in Lone Pine, Ca early and got some laundry done. We are now poised to leave the Comfort Inn about 6:30 in the morning to explore and cross Death Valley NP then on to Las Vegas.

Typical gas prices here.................from our motel parking lot looking towards Mt Whitney

Day 15, 307 miles....3707 total miles--wow...the temp was 66 when we left the motel at 6:30am....3 hours later we are in the middle of Death Valley NP and it is 109. We ested again today. Death Valley was strangely very beautiful and interesting to see. For you older folks....we visited the borax mine and saw some of the carts from the "20-mule team borax wagons". We made it to Las Vegas by 2PM got checked into the Hampton, cooled off, then headed for the strip. It was very interesting but we tired of it pretty quickly and headed back to relax.

the same mountains above at 6:30am.................Oh No, it got worse

entering Death Valley NP.................20-mule team wagons

Lowest elevation in North America...282 feet below sea level

Day 16, 290 miles....3997 total miles--a good day packed with a few surprises. We started out by heading to Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam. Boy they sure are security conscious there....even had to inspect our little trailer. We stopped at a scenic turn out on the way to Kingman....Kathleen couldn't resist taking a picture of the couple with all their trinkets for sale while sitting right under the sign saying "Selling or Advertising Prohibited". We decided on a whim to take Route 66 rather than I-40 once we got to Kingman, AZ. We had a wonderful nostalgic lunch at Mr D'z Route 66 Diner....great root beer..we stopped just in time, the place literally filled up right after we got there. We ested again today. Great ride to Seligman then on to Flagstaff we stopped 1/2 way and let Kathleen put on her favorite suit ( rain gear ). This is the first time we've really had to wear it since our first day. It was a light rain the rest of the way to Flagstaff , we enjoyed the cooler weather that came with the light rain as well.

Day 17, 228 miles (mostly in the rain)....4225 total miles--We found ourselves a day ahead of the planned schedule. Visiting the Grand Canyon was not in our plans since we were at the north rim 4 years ago....however, being a day ahead and only 78 miles from the south rim we decided to 'kill' a day here in the Flagstaff/Sedona area and go see the south rim. It was very cloudy but the canyon was still beautiful. We ended up riding in the rain almost all day. The Sedona area was also very neat, located in a beautiful canyon and with many unique shops...kinda like Eureka Springs, Ar. Visiting the Grand Canyon today made it the 14th national park or national monument that we've visited on this trip. Sure got our money's worth out of that Annual National Park Pass purchased last fall on the Albuquerque trip

"Snoopy Rock" on the hill above Sedona, AZ

Day 18, 300 miles....4525 total miles--Today was mostly a travel day again to get us positioned for tomorrow's visits to the El Morro National Monument and the Bandera Volcano Ice Cave. We did take a side trip to Jerome, AZ...neat town built on the top and side of a mountain. It was an old copper, gold, silver mining town. We then traveled to our destination, Gallup,NM, via hwy 260. What a treat. We were mainly looking for a non-I-40 route that was maybe in the higher elevations....boy was it a great road !! not much traffic and twisty roads thru the forest and mountains. We did get into a heavy rain but we are becoming seasoned sloppy weather riders.

the road to Jerome.....................he's been a bad truck

plaque at the mine

Day 19, 182 miles....4707 total miles--It was a very cool day with temps ranging from 48 to 60. We had a little drizzle and high winds. We did visit El Morro National Monument where there are names and messages scratched into the sandstone cliffs...some dated back to 1607. Very interesting but I was somewhat confused as they did not want me to scratch my name among their graffiti. We then rode and hiked up the Bandera Volcano and down to the Ice Cave (actually a lava tube). That will wind up our planned site seeing and plan a 2-day mad dash for home.

From atop the El Morro cliff

A lava vent.......................the center of the Bandera Volcano cone

Day 20, 595 miles....5302 total miles--!!HOME!! We ested again today. Headed out from the west side of Albuquerque this morning at 8:45 mtn time....pointed the bike east and at 7:30 central we arrived home. Once pointed towards home just could not find the "stop" button.

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