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Thread: Highway 89 Revisited - My wife's Biker Stories from the Road III

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    Highway 89 Revisited - My wife's Biker Stories from the Road III

    This ride report is taken from my wife?s emails she sent back to her coworkers and family as we travelled from September 20 - October 7 2013. The trip began in Dryden Ontario and covered Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and Colorado. I have filled in some blanks and added the photos but otherwise it is a pretty complete report from a gal who said she would NEVER get on a motorcycle.

    You can read some of the background of how she went from ?never on a motorcycle", to "OK lets go again"! and her first report http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=828217

    This will be our third long distance motorcycle trip and second trip together (last year we traveled to Vancouver island with friends). The ride report for that one is found here. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=839391.

    It was a great trip but this year we needed to finish of some unfinished business.

    For our first trip (and Denise's first ever motorcycle trip) we ventured west and traveled US Hwy 89 which is also known as the National Park Highway. It (US 89) covers an area from the Canadian border to Flagstaff AZ. and links seven national parks across the Mountain West. On that first trip we traveled to the west through the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana and visited grand old Yellowstone Park, along with Devils Tower. We rode through amazing mountain passes and watched the leaves and world turn colour in front of our faces daily

    We made it as far south as Grand Teton park. Time and a lot of smoke from prescribed fires in the area got in our way so we headed home but vowed to return to once again travel hwy 89.

    Because of the desire to ride in decent temperatures and the fact that work etc requires we need to travel in the early fall, the return to north west Ontario can be a cool one on motorcycles. On each of our last trips west we have hit either some very cold or windy weather in the last legs heading home.

    We were leaving even later this year to the plan is to trailer our motorcycles to Jackson Wyoming and then ride from there. It does mean having to do a loop but we hope to cover a lot of country in the 2 weeks we have set aside.

    We will be carrying camping equipment and will likely stay in a mix of motels or tenting as available or required. The motto for our motorcycle trips is "No Interstates, No chains, and no Walmarts". We enjoy the quieter back roads and the "mom and pop" type cafes, diners, restaurants and motels that are found there.

    We will be leaving home and dog on and actually heading east on the first day to attend a motorcycle rally and also some personal appointments in Thunder Bay.

    Until then we were packing and getting the bikes loaded for our latest adventures!!!

    Our bikes loaded on the trailer and ready to head out from Thunder Bay, ON.

    Denise is driving a blue 2010 BMW F650GS and my ride is a 30th anniversary edition 2010 BMW F800GS



    Come on for the ride, I will be updating it over the next couple days.
    Last edited by garthw; 11-03-2013 at 06:21 PM.

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    Day 1 Thunder Bay, ON ? Fargo ND

    Day 1 Thunder bay ? Fargo ND
    Map


    We started off from Thunder Bay Friday (after my checkup) and headed down the Atikokan highway to cross at International Falls because Garth had parcels to pick up at his border box. Our goal was to make it to Bemidji, MN for the night but we were making good time so carried on through Detroit Lakes and decided that we would find good accommodation in Fargo, hah!

    One thing about following the interstate highways is that you can easily miss the areas of a city that offer good accommodation. We got into the Fargo area after dark and although there were lots of street lights ahead of us it soon became apparent that we were running out of city. My favorite (insert sarcasm here), the Super 8, appeared ahead of us. So deciding to take one for the team I pointed it out and Garth pulled into their parking lot. It was a long skinny parking lot but had empty spaces around the back. So we parked in front of the lobby doors and Garth went inside.

    Following him inside were 2 policemen, both putting on their black leather gloves as they proceeded. Immediately my radar went off. The lights went on in a room adjacent to the front lobby with windows to the parking lot and I could see that the guy who had been on the phone in the lobby was now summoned to this room. Not 2 minutes later a second police car pulls up behind us and a third cop, again putting on his black leather (I ain't takin' no **** from you) gloves, goes into the building.

    Garth is still standing at the front counter and seems to be oblivious to what is going on behind him. I am in the truck thinking dear god get us out of here! He finally came out and had rented us a room. So we pull out and he takes us around to the back parking lot where we can find enough room to park our truck and trailer that holds our motorcycles. We sit there for a minute, both feeling very apprehensive about this situation, and finally I ask him if he is going to be able to sleep knowing that our truck and trailer with our multi-thousand dollar motorcycles on it are stored in this back parking lot in this seedy part of Fargo! I know that I wasn't going to be able to (and I think that I could have added a couple more very good reasons to that argument). Garth agrees and he pulls back around to the front lobby door. The front desk clerk, with the frizziest, most bleached out blond, needing a haircut in the worst way hair, is outside having a smoke. I say to Garth "cancel this room and blame it on me". He tells me that the clerk told him that the room we rented had been a smokers room a year ago but it had been fumigated. I jump on that info and tell him that my allergies are just too bad and we can't take a chance on this "fumigated" room. OMG!
    Away we go down I94 hoping that something else will appear. Next up the "Sunset Motel"! Ok way better parking situation, in fact the parking lot is so full that we had to park in the spots right outside the front lobby door. $50 for the night! We walk in through the side door and well $50 for the night!





    The room is absolutely bare bones. No clock, no telephone. But on the desk is a plague of the "God grant me the serenity ..." prayer! We immediately pull back the sheets, nothing to scary there, but the mattresses are so soft that we decide to sleep separately. Divide and conquer the bugs, haha!

    We took a walk down the service road to the nearest convenience store to pick up a couple of things and walked by a bar/saloon. Have you ever seen the movie "Fargo"? Well you know the character (played by William H. Macy) who hires two hoodlums to abduct his wife ... pretty sure he hired them in this bar/saloon. Wow! So we stayed up as long as we could and then decided that we would get the hell out of there as soon as possible in the morning. At 5:30 I whispered "are you awake"? He answered and we got showered and bolted! Breakfast at McDonalds and then off we went.

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    Day 2 Fargo, ND to Cody, WY

    Day 2 map


    We left Forgo just as the sun was rising.
    There is something about morning on the prairies that just makes getting up early worth it



    Stopped for gas in Bismarck ND and picked up some travelling snacks at a great market.

    Some say that the plains are boring but it seems there are always a few things to stir the imagination or entertain like this huge steel sculpture of geese in flight



    West of Dickenson we made a stop at the Painted canyon overlook which is part of Theodore Roosevelt National park. I had toured some of the park on another motorcycle trip earlier that summer and it is worth a visit.





    As we left I saw the best highway sign I have ever seen. I saw it this summer also but never got a picture. Don?t you wish everything would be made this simple? No flag people, no lights, just a simple sign that says ok folks settle down and just take turns. I love it.



    It got warmer and warmer as we went. Stopped at Mile City Montana for a bowl of soup and it was 27 degrees. Came across a national monument, Pompey's Pillar, and needing a leg stretch we decided to stop and check it out.

    The national parks pass that Garth bought this summer also applies to the national monuments so we didn't have to pay to get in. So Pompey's Pillar is a big rock formation where Captain W. Clark, of the Lewis and Clark team, carved his initials and the date, 1806, into the rock. Steep set of stairs to climb up but a terrific view of the surroundings. 32 degrees so a very warm climb.



    Clarks signature is well protected so hard to get a great picture


    Like all national monuments it was interesting with some great historical links. When on top you can imagine what was going through the Lewis and Clark expedition as the looked out over the area.



    After making Garth pinky-swear that we would stop in Cody Wyoming for the night we carried on. Beautiful ride down to Cody. We ran parallel to Yellowstone National Park so the mountains were visible in the distance. The farm lands are all being cultivated so there is a rich earthy smell. Lots of cattle grazing. The valleys are beautiful and green, dotted with farm houses.





    Finally drove into Cody around 7pm. Right on the corner of this main highway intersection sits a Comfort Inn and beside it is a Holiday Inn. I am thinking, yay! And to my delight Garth pulls in. He leaves me with the truck and goes inside. Taking in my surroundings I realize ... holy smokes there are a lot of senior citizens! Most of them with white tags hanging around their necks.

    Off to the right of the Holiday Inn sits an old building painted white and yellow. It's sign says "General Store, Sasparillo, Motel, etc." and it looks like the original building restored as a gift shop. After a few minutes Garth comes out climbs into a golf cart and takes off with an older gentlemen ... what? They speed by me with a wave and a grin ... double what? The old guy eventually brings him back and Garth is just a laughing when he climbs into the truck. "Well", he says, "that was a hoot". The rooms at the Comfort Inn were $159 a night. When the old guy heard Garth say that he was going to have to talk this over with his wife, he took Garth aside and told him that there were also little cabins available out back for $89 a night. So being the good husband that he is he knew he should check out this "little cabin" to avoid another Sunset Motel situation. They were so damn cute!



    And there were a lot of them all painted brown with green trim. The gentlemen knew we had a trailer so he recommended a cabin that had a parking spot suited to our needs. This man is from Alabama and to avoid the heat and humidity he comes up to Cody and works for the company that not only owns the Comfort Inn but also the Holiday Inn, all of these cabins and the yellow and white gift shop! Talk about cornering the market!
    Inside the cabin they even had a little stuffed bison and ?cowboy? curtains and pillow covers




    Many many tour buses occupy the parking lots of the Comfort Inn and Holiday Inn as this is where touring companies arrange for there guests to stay before they take them through the 2 national parks.

    After a great walk down the main street of Cody we popped into "Granny's" for a late supper and then retired and slept pretty well in our little cabin. Day 3 we are heading down to Jackson Wyoming and I am so excited because we have to go through a part of Yellowstone and also the Grand Teton National Park (both of them absolutely beautiful) to get there. Once our truck and trailer are secured we will be loading up the motorcycles so stay tuned as there are more adventures and stories (and pictures) to come.

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    Day 3 Cody to Jackson WY,

    Still in the truck but the plan is that we should be riding by the end of the day buttttttttt.
    Map for today


    After breakfast and a visit to the Laundromat we pulled away from Cody and headed for Yellowstone. Only about 170 miles from Jackson we were looking to have a nice easy day. The weather was cooler with cloudy skies and the threat of rain. The drive through Yellowstone was once again beautiful and the drive through the Grand Teton National Park was wonderful as well.

    Road from Cody into Yellowstone


    Jackson Lake. When we were here 2 years ago this was full of water. Looks like lots of drought problems


    So many other folks in the parks, we were thinking, especially for a Sunday in September. Many cyclists and quite a few motorcyclists too. And of course the tour buses.

    When we drove past the Grand Teton mountain, plus the Middle and South Tetons, we looked for the scenic turnout that we stopped at 2 years ago (it was where we were approached by the funny Chinese guy) and we couldn't find it. The scenery looked different and we were both baffled. It wasn't until we stopped at the visitor centre (so Garth could get some stickers) that a map had the answer. We were on a different route! We didn't know that there were 2 routes through that part of the park. So nice to learn that we were not losing our minds, haha! That caused us a bit of back tracking because "Damn It" we were going to stop at the same turnout come hell or high water! Once we had cleared that scenic turnout we were now travelling where we had not travelled before.

    Our stop from the last trip and the beginning of new ground for this trip


    We finished off the rest of the Grand Teton National Park and made our way to Jackson Wyoming.

    We got there (Jackson) around 2 pm. It is quite the place. Very touristy and the downtown still has that old western town flare to it. Lots and lots of people everywhere.

    Busy Tourist area


    We drove through and found a McDonald's so that we could get WiFi and find the storage place that we were to drop off our truck and trailer. With the address we found the place but it is Sunday and it is closed. The journey ends there ... no motorcycling away from Jackson for you! We drove back into Jackson with the realization that we now have to find accommodation. The first place we try, a Motel 6, tells Garth that they do not have any vacancies and won't until the parks close for the winter ... yikes! From the parking lot Garth calls the place next door, my favorite the Super 8, and the gal says they have 1 room available and Garth has to give his credit card number RIGHT NOW! And she says that if we don't show up to take this room we will be charged for it anyway ... holy crap! So we go from one parking lot to the other and take the room and it proves to be very nice (every once in awhile they do come through). We asked the front desk gal about this "no vacancy" situation and she said that when the parks are open the city is crazy busy. It slows down during October.

    We took a wonderful walk downtown to see the sights. On the way back we hit up "Bubba's Barbeque" for some supper.

    Downtown Jackson and the entrance to a city park. There is an Elk refuge just outside of Jackson and they say that all the antlers in these entrance gates are from antlers shed yearly. (At least that is the story they are sticking with)

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    day 4 Day 4 Jackson to Heber City Utah

    Day 4 Jackson to Heber City Utah
    Map


    A bit if a delay but Finally riding

    Monday morning, after our free breakfast at the Super 8, we unloaded the motorcycles, packed and repacked, and delivered the truck and trailer to the storage place. $95 bucks for 2 weeks of secure storage ... a pretty good deal! By 11 am we are on the bikes and heading south and just in time too ... the weather forecast is for rain and snow (especially in the higher elevations). 10 degrees when we took off so I had my heated jacket on and plugged in! Our route took us along the Snake River and then the Salt River. A very nice ride with lots of twists and turns. The temperature did rise to 13 before we stopped for lunch at Afton Wyoming where we ate at the Salt River Grill.

    Love the western flare of just about everything


    After lunch the route took us into Idaho for a few miles, then back into Wyoming, then finally into Utah ... or so we thought because we were soon back into Wyoming and then finally into Utah.

    Wide open spaces of Wyoming


    Finally into Utah


    Criss-crossed 3 states in a matter of 2 hours. Pretty flat land where the temperature got to 16 but it was pretty windy. Our ultimate goal was to make Provo, south of Salt Lake City, but just after Evanston our route headed towards the mountains ... snow capped mountains!





    We were already riding at an elevation of 7800 ft. but Garth warned me that we were going up! At the summit on the Bald Mountain Pass we hit 10,759 ft. in elevation and a lovely 6 degrees! We were riding above the snow line! I love my electric jacket, haha!



    It was very sunny though with a beautiful blue sky. And we finally saw some fall colours as the mountain sides were dotted with reds and yellows. On our way up we stopped at Mirror Lake for a kodak moment. There were a couple of guys fishing with hip-waders on and I cannot imagine how cold that water must have been, brrr!


    Also stopped for a break were 4 other motorcyclists who were all riding crotch-rockets and were not dressed warm enough for the weather. They looked frozen and they were not friendly ... so they were frozen crotch-rocket riding snobs! After the summit the decent was really a good ride. The roadway was in such great shape and a real pleasure to drive on. We rode through the Wasatch Forest and the temperature rose. By 5 o'clock it was pretty apparent that we were not going to make Provo so we stopped in Heber City.

    It was 19 degrees and very pleasant. Got a room at the Swiss Alps Inn. Right across the street is Chick's Cafe and the specialty is ... chicken! And pie! Wow! Such a great day!

    Chicks Caf?, same age as Garth ha ha


    Swiss Alps inn Heber City


    Fabulous Chicken Noodle Soup


    and PIE!!!

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    Day 5 Heber City to Orderville, UT

    Map


    Breakfast at Chick?s Caf? proved to be just as delicious at supper. Garth's huge ham and eggs breakfast set us up great for the day ahead (he shared) J


    We weren?t able to stay true to highway 89 all of the time on this journey as it would have taken us through Salt Lake City and we didn?t? want to tackle that much city driving. So we weaved away from 89 when we had to and followed it when we could. Garth bought beautiful maps (one of the many Purolator drop offs at our front door) and they have coloured coded motorcycle routes so we have made good use of these maps and have seen some amazing country.


    The state of Utah is beautiful! Well worth travelling through. When we first looked at the map of the state of Utah I commented on how few roads there are and well now I know why. It is very mountainous. Everywhere you go you are surrounded by mountains. We are either driving through them or driving down a valley surrounded by them.



    When we left Heber City we drove through Provo, which is a pretty good sized city, and found the neatest place called Legends Motorcycles, It was like a museum of extremely old Harley?s and Indian?s. Garth took many pictures.




    Cleanest bike shop I have seen in a long time


    Salt Lake City boundaries have spilled over into the Provo area so we did ride through city type traffic for a bit. Really nice roadways and really nice people. When we broke away from the city we were able to reconnect with 89 and we drove through some spectacular scenery. The hills and mountains are full of color. Red, rusty red, brown, tan, caramel. All variations.



    Some of the leafed trees have started to change colour but not many. The sides of the mountains and hills are freckled with lots of cedar and scruffy little pine trees.

    There is also a beautiful shrub that has bright yellow flowers on it and this shrub lines most of the roadways. The valleys tend to be really windy and this yellow shrub is my tell-tale sign on what the wind might be doing to me next. If it was being blown over I knew that I was going to feel that next.

    Not the best picture as we were trying to hold our own during some pretty gusty conditions but the yellow flowers can be seen all along the roadside



    In the broad valleys there was not a lot to see but there were many small communities. As we approached the community of Manti,UT there was a huge building that could be seen from quite a distance. Turns out it was constructed as a Mormon temple but has been now changed to a spa


    We made an afternoon stop in Salina Utah and the kindest waitress told us that a peach pie has just come out of the oven. Oh man Garth was all over that one. Peach pie and a cup of tea ? for 2! It was the best pie ? to date! The road turned into some pretty long stretches and it was hot so when we hit Junction City we stopped for a rest. They had a nice porch out front and in the shade.




    It was nearing 5 o?clock and that is our stopping point. So we ended the night in Orderville Utah and encountered the most unique way to rent a room.

    The lady who owned the Parkway Motel had to step away from the place for a few hours so she posted a sign on the door that said choose the room you want (she had them listed on the sign with the prices) the keys are in the room and just stroke off the sign the room you have taken. She would settle up with us later that night or the next morning on check out.





    We have been told that the stretch of country we just rode through is true Mormon Country and so this is not unusual business practice. The one room was called the ?Wild Wild West Room? so we checked it out. It was hilarious! 4 poster bed with black lace curtains hanging off the corners, really old wooden dresser, TV stand, etc. Red velvet chairs. And for the tub ? a huge piece of culvert! All tiled into place with a faucet and a chunk of green garden hose. We have no idea how many gallons of water it would have taken to fill this massive space. It was crazy and no we didn?t rent it but in hind sight I wish we did.



    The tub



    The TV didn?t have cable, there was WiFi but no phones and no clocks. Garth went and checked out the main office and found the ?On Golden Pond? DVD so we watched that.

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    Day 6 Orderville UT to Zion National Park

    Day 6 Map


    We woke up after a nice night in the hotel and got packed up. The motel cat decided to pay us a visit.


    The only caf? wasn?t open that day and doesn?t open early so after we packed up in the morning we had to head down the highway to find breakfast and coffee.

    At the Mount Carmel Junction we stopped for breakfast and coffee and encountered a group of folks who were having such a blast! One of the gentlemen approached us and told us that they were all college friends, they were all 77 years old and they were all from Taiwan! So wonderful that these folks make such an effort to get together and travel to see other places in the world.

    After breakfast we motored into Zion National Park! This is just an amazing place! We have taken so many pictures but they are not going to do this place or scenery justice.




    The highway into the park is paved with red asphalt and the centre lines are painted yellow. These colours compliment the colours in the mountains (and this is very pleasing to the eye).


    The main descent into the canyon is fantastic. Full of switchbacks and 2 tunnels. The first tunnel is short but the second tunnel is 1.1 miles in length.




    They only allow one row of traffic at a time and they recommend that you take your sunglasses off. Every so often there are openings in the tunnel wall that lets in air and light. On a motorcycle it is really cool to drive through. When finally at the bottom we found our campsite and settled in and then used the shuttle system (individual vehicles are not allowed to travel through the park since 2001).


    The shuttle has been a god send to this park as this is the most visited national park in the national park system. The size of parking lots that would be needed to house the number of vehicles that would come down would take away from and impede upon the landscape and the beauty of this canyon.


    It was a glorious day. We jumped off the shuttle when we wanted to further investigate a place. We hiked and walked and oohed and ahhed and got crinks in our necks from constantly looking up! It is too beautiful for words. The colours in the mountains are red, orange, caramel, tan, white and grey. There are dramatic cuts, crevices and carvings into the side of these majestic mountains. They are predominantly sandstone and therefore soft. A rain storm or a flash flood can make and does make changes to this landscape.













    We went into Springdale which is just outside of the park (and is a free shuttle) and had a terrific burger (man I was so hungry after all that walking and hiking).



    A unique local beer


    Had a good look around, as it is very touristy, and then retired to our campsite where we built a fire and as the sky darkened watched all of the bright beautiful stars come out. It was such a wonderful day, warm temperatures +25 and windy.






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    Day 7 - Zion to Grand Canyon North Rim National Park and Cliff Dwellers Arizona

    Map Day 7


    After a warm night in the tent, the wind pretty much blew all night, we woke around 7 and packed up the campsite.



    We drove into Springdale and found the laundromat and a cafe for much needed morning coffee. At the Laundromat Garth met a very friendly local who was chatty and gave us some great advice on our travel plans.



    We left Zion and followed highway 89A to Jacobs Lake where we were told to stop and get some cookies because they are so damn good ... and they were.



    The wind was epic today! Gusts of up to 80 kph! Good thing that for most of the time we were either alone on the highway or with slow drivers. And as we got closer to the North Rim, which means climbing up to an elevation of 8800 ft., the colder it got! It was a cold, windy day in Arizona! Garth said it was warmer in Dryden today.



    I had my electric jacket on and plugged in for quite awhile. We followed highway 67 to the Grand Canyon National Park North Rim.



    We had planned on camping at the North Rim but the campsites were full ... so we looked into the Lodge situated at the North Rim but no vacancy there either.

    We took some time to look around, over the edge actually, and took lots of pictures. Garth was brave enough to take the walkway out to a scenic view point. I got freaked out by the narrowness of the walkway and the wind so I just stayed put and waited for him to come back.







    While waiting the Taiwaneze friends that we met at the restaurant in Day 6 came plodding along the walkway ... and that's when I realized that we were on the same route as the big tour buses and that's why all accommodations are booked up.

    After visiting the Gift Shop so Garth could buy stickers we made the decision to carry on our way. It was too cold to camp anywhere and we had pretty much seen what we could of the Grand Canyon ... for now anyway. We back tracked to Jacob's Lake and turned onto highway 89A again heading towards Page Arizona.

    The Arizona landscape is different again.




    All the way to the North Rim it is very heavily wooded with huge Ponderosa Pines. There is quite a stretch where a forest fire roared through a few years ago. Eventually the highway takes us out of the trees with many twists and turns bringing us down to 5000 ft elevation. Another bonus of being "down" is that the temperature got warmer.

    Highway 89A is taking us through the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument. These cliffs are a brilliant red and can be seen for miles. Once down in the valley we followed a pretty straight line of highway. It is a huge valley that is green but it should be brown at this time of year as they have had some unusual rain.


    We ended our day at Cliff Dewellers AZ as the wind had taken its toll on us.




    It is another really small place like Orderville UT but it has a wonderful restaurant where we had a great supper.




    Tomorrow we will be carrying on down highway 89A to Page where we will rejoin highway 89 and make our way to Bryce Canyon Utah.

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    Day 8 Cliff Dwellers, AZ to Bryce Canyon the long way

    Map for the day



    We left Cliff Dwellers early thinking that we would have breakfast in Page AZ. As we headed down highway 89, with the brilliant red rock all around us,


    Bridge crossing the Colorado River a hundred k upstream from the Grand Canyon


    Yes no kidding


    we found that part of highway 89 was under construction due to a landslide so there was a detour. The detour took us deeper into Navajo Nation, but it was quite chilly, so even though the highway was dotted with stalls where the natives would sell their wares they stood empty. Can't really blame them ... the wind was howling and it was chilly ... but I am a tourist looking for unique items to bring back to the family as gifts! The country was pretty flat and uneventful outside of the elevation climbs that would cool the temperature down. It is amazing country as you think you are riding on a flat desert but all the time you are climbing and it is getting colder.

    The wind wasn't as bad as Thursday but the temp was lower. It didn't really get above 15 degrees, especially in the higher altitudes where we are. The detour took up about an hour of travelling time so by the time we got to Page it was more like lunch time than breakfast time. We decided to stop for a litre of oil for my bike and the nearest place was a Super Walmart. Garth ran in and I stayed with the bikes.

    A tour bus pulled up and as the folks filed off I recognized most of the faces having seen them at Zion. One of the locals walked by and commented to his buddy, "those folks have paid thousands of dollars to take that tour and they can't take them anywhere else to shop but a Walmart"! Hey friend those folks probably asked the driver to find them a Walmart!

    Glenn Canyon Dam that creates a huge recreation area in otherwise desert type country.


    The sedimentary formations are everywhere in this neck of the woods


    Crossing the Colorado once again.


    From Page we made our way back into Utah and up highway 89 towards Mount Carmel Junction and the turnoff into Zion ... sadly we had to zoom right by because we wanted to make Bryce Canyon.





    We were going to stop and see if we could get in to see ?the Wave? but all spots were taken and they had moved the location for the 10 daily draws to Kanab so we were too late for that day.







    Red Canyon just before Bryce NP




    The temp got colder and colder as we went. The temperatures changed like clockwork with the elevation. By the time we hit Bryce Canyon which is near 8000 ft it was 6 degrees with a north wind. The flags at the Foster Motel were bent damn near horizontal! We grabbed a room because camping was out of the question. The gal at the desk offered us a deal ... $75 cash for the night or $89 on the credit card. So down the road a couple of miles to find an ATM. Next to the Fosters Motel was a really great restaurant with .... you guessed it PIE! After dinner we had the Foster's special, strawberry, rhubarb, raspberry and blackberry ... it was delicious! The room had the electric heat on full blast and it hit us like a brick when we opened the door. Quickly turned it down and slid open the window.

    During the night I woke to coyote's howling in the distance so I had to close the window.

    This woke Garth who got up and turned on the electric heat ... at 7:30 the room was stiffling again ... off goes the heat and I was going to open the window until I saw the heavy frost on the windshields of the vehicles in the parking lot ... brrrr!


    We made our way to the restaurant for breakfast and sat there nursing coffee for as long as we could. Check out is 11 am and I do not plan on leaving until 11 am! We are going to tour Bryce Canyon today, which is apparently fantastic, so lots of pictures will be taken and then posted.

    The forecast is for a warming trend so I sure hope that is true. Didn't think that I would be in the south of Utah and be so frigging cold! I have come to realize that Utah is just one big mountain ... guess that is why all the tourism posters say "Life Elevated"!

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    Day 9 Bryce Canyon to Loa UT

    Map Day 9 Bryce Canyon to Loa UT


    Good morning from "Man it's cold here in Bryce Canyon"! -6 this morning when we woke at 7:30




    On the way to Bryce Canyon the low air pressure light came on for the front tire on my motorcycle ... the friggin' cold even affected my tire! So I rolled into Bryce going very slow because I was worried about ruining the tire. We pulled into an all service gas station to get some air. Before we know it there was a line up of vehicles and a dude on a bicycle, from Calgary, all needing air.

    Saturday September 28th was National Public Lands Day so the park entrance was free. At the gate we encountered the crabbiest park attendant ever. Most are so friendly and chatty but not this gal. We tried joking with her and ... nothin'. The ride into Bryce Canyon is kind of deceiving because it is thick forest and you don't get any hints on what awaits you. We stopped at the visitors centre so Garth could pick up some stickers and decided that our plan would be to ride to the end of the park, approx 18 miles, and then slowly make our way back.


    Did you know that the Utah Prairie Dog is an endangered species? Well now you do! Along the way the canyon starts to open up with glimpses of it from the scenic turnouts and it is breathtaking!


    We got down to the end and just could not believe that such a place existed. All we kept saying is that ?you could wear a camera out here?

    The most prevalent characteristic is a rock formation called a hoodoo. The best way for me to explain them is that they remind me of chess pieces and they are everywhere sometimes in clumps and sometimes individual. In some places they are huge and in others they are small.


    Massive rock faces with an amazing canyon hundreds of feet below. But the colours are another matter. The orange rock is almost flourescent with mixes of tan, caramel, white, and grey all throughout the entire area. The Rainbow Point is the scenic area at the end of the park. We walked the Bristlecone Trail in our motorcycle gear and that was how we started to warm up.



    Absolutely beautiful blue sky and sunshine. Garth took many pictures.





    We stopped at a couple more scenic turnouts and then we encountered this chick who thought it would be a good idea to stand on the top of one of the posts of the barricade (maybe 18" by 18") and attempt a yoga pose ... holy crap! I grabbed Garth and said "let's get out of here before we witness this chick fall to her death" and turned to see her bend down to grab the edge of the top to balance herself ... crazy!

    This was a similar post that she tried to stand on. Did not take a picture of her incase it was to be used in evidence but lets just say this is a reasonable facsimile



    The next scenic turnouts that we visited were Paria Point, Bryce Point and Inspiration Point. At the Paria Point Garth decided to turn into a dare devil! In search of the perfect photograph he went beyond the barricade and way out to the edge ... I couldn't watch ... it gave me heart palpitations!






    The most photographed area of Bryce Canyon is the scenery off of Bryce Point.




    There are literally thousands of hoodoos in this area. It is beautiful ... crazy beautiful! At another viewpoint the hoodoos were white, huge, and arranged in such a way that it reminded me of a cathedral.




    At Inspiration Point the viewing area was a steep hike up from the parking lot. It was getting quite warm and I was tired and hungry so I didn't make the hike but Garth did.




    Again many pictures were taken but they honestly will not do this amazing place any justice. And it is so hard to explain ... it really is a place that you have to see to appreciate. Being a free parks day there were a lot of folks out to enjoy the park. Many motorcyclists as well.

    When we got back to our bikes in the Inspiration Point parking lot we found another BMW parked really close to us. They really squeezed in beside Garth. They came along shortly after we got there and the wife seemed friendly but the guy would not give us the time of day. Just a nasty piece of work!

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    Day 9 continued

    After leaving Bryce we stopped for some long overdue lunch at Tropic, a couple of miles east of Bryce and in a valley. While there Garth had a conversation with a fellow motorcyclist who warned that we might not get a place to stay at our destination of Torrey Utah. There was a rally happening in the area and everything was booked. He recommended "The Snuggle Inn" in the town of Loa just a half hour out of our way. So away we went to find "The Snuggle Inn".

    Our route was highway 12 east and a stretch of it is considered a class 1 motorcycle route. Class 1 routes are "the best motorcycle rides ... dramatic and thrilling, high mountain passes, deep canyons, sweepers, switchbacks, and twisties". This was a crazy ride and had all of the above.






    At one point we were riding a ridge ... it was only as wide as the highway itself ... no guardrails and probably 500 ft drops on both sides! This went on for about a half a mile! It was scarey and all I did was look forward ... no looking around for this gal!

    We eventually caught up with some Harley riders and this proved to be very entertaining. There were 6 or 7 choppers with the big fat rear tires and one big orange bike that had a corvette engine. So in the line up I was the last rider. The big orange bike was ahead of Garth and in front of him was an, what looked to be, inexperienced Harley chopper rider. He had a helluva time making the tight turns. And they are so low to the ground that they cannot lean too far over or their foot pegs will drag or get caught on the highway. So they roar through the straight stretches and then crawl through the corners.






    A portion of highway 12 is open range for cattle and we encountered some. They were grazing along the side of the road. A couple of times the loud Harley's spooked them and they started to move and that is not great when you are the last rider ... damn loud Harley's ... I was praying for them cows to stay put until after I went by.



    When we hit Torrey they all turned into the Days Inn and we said goodbye and made our way to Loa.
    Picture outside our room at ?the Snuggle Inn?


    We had just unpacked and walked down to the nearest gas station to get some beer when here they come ... all of these big Harley riders pulled in and got rooms at "The Snuggle Inn", haha! When Garth was securing our bikes he talked to a couple of these Harley dudes and they were really great. Out on a weekend ride and all from Salt Lake City.





    Cool old Willys jeep at hotel

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    Day 10 Capitol Reef National Park and Blanding Utah

    Day 10 map


    Sunday morning we had breakfast at a local cafe and then made our way down highway 24 east to Capitol Reef National Park.





    Not really understanding why it is called a reef we made our way and soon realized that we have been looking at this massive expanse of rock for awhile. So the reef was formed when the earth was buckling and folding and it is a massive wall of rock (with really cool, dramatic cuts and colours) and goes on for miles. It is very majestic and totally lives up to the name.











    After popping into the visitors centre for Garth to get some stickers we followed a 10 mile scenic roadway through the park. There is a beautiful campground along with a Mormon homestead to visit. There is a U-Pick fruit orchard (apples I think) and big beautiful trees. It was a perfect way to spend Sunday morning.





    The roadway was windy and narrow with a 20 mph speed limit so I just putted along in second gear and really enjoyed it all. Others had the same idea and we encountered folks that brought out there morning coffee to enjoy it in the peace and quiet of this spectacular place.



    Again we were surrounded by deep earthy colours. The rock walls loomed overhead. Two of the hiking spots were closed because of a recent flood. The signage detailed that 1 inch of rain in the mountains means a torrent flood of water down below. Leaving lots of damage and sand and mud to be removed so that roads and areas can be opened. We really enjoyed our visit to Capitol Reef.



    From there we continued down highway 24 and had lunch at Hanksville (aka Flyville ... man you should have seen how many flies there were on our bikes and jackets when we came out of the restaurant)!





    We turned south onto highway 95, one of America's lost highways,





    We were headed towards Monument Valley but we had to change our plans because we didn't realize how desolate that highway is and we were going to run out of gas before we hit Monument Valley.
    You know that part in the movie Forest Gump where Forest decides to stop running ... well the scenery in the background during that part of the movie is Monument Valley.

    (Garth) I really wanted to get to Monument valley and re-create the Forrest Gump scene. It is one of my favorite movies. I must have watched it 20 times by now.
    It would have been about the half way point of our trip and a perfect place to run up to the camera and just say "I'm tired, I think i want to go home now"



    We made a stop at the Natural Bridges National Monument instead and took the 10 mile scenery tour. The bridges are made of rock (of course) and well that is about it! Nice area ... a bit different to what we have seen already (the rocks seemed to be rounder and smoother and not so much red but tan and brown in colour) and then we scooted because like I said we were running out of gas!







    We made it to Blanding where we not only gased up but decided to stay (we had hit 5 o'clock which is one of our rules ... 500 k or 5 o'clock which ever comes first). Got a room at the Four Corners Inn and had supper at the Steak House next door. A really great day!

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    Day 11 Blanding to Monticello via Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

    Day 11 map


    Instead of Monument Valley Garth decided that we should make the treck into Colorado and visit the Mesa Verde National Park. It is where the Pueblo people lived in the cliffs 800 years ago and it is amazing.





    We motored into Cortez Colorado and found the beautiful Colorado Welcome Centre.



    There we received really good info about the park and picked up some stickers and pins. The area around Cortez is really nice farm land ... nice and green with tilled up pastures, lots of green trees and rolling hills.



    In the far distance there are snow capped mountains and the ride to the park leads us towards a, what appears to be, single flat top mountain much like what we saw in Utah. Man is that deceiving! The road takes us up and up and up ... so many switchbacks and over the top then down into a bit of a valley and then up and up and up again.



    Narrow, no guardrails and tight twisty turns.



    Then over the top and down into a bit of a valley again and then it happens all over again! The scenery is unbelievable and the distance to the parking lot for the cliffs is 18 miles.



    We bought tickets for the 1:30 pm tour of the Cliff Palace (it is the only one that appeals to me and is actually easiest enough to do ... the other Balcony House requires 100 ft ladder climbs and crawling through a 12 ft tunnel ... no way!).



    Cliff Palace requires a 100 ft climb down using man made stairs and then on the exit it means a bit of a climb on man made stairs and then 3 ladders of about 8 - 10 ft in length. So we waited around the parking lot because we were about 45 minutes early.








    Each tour is made up of 50 people. While waiting we people watch! Fantastic! One lady comes down to the platform where the tour begins and she exclaims "I forgot my puffer and I don't want to vomit"! Haha! The tour was an hour long and really informative.

    Looking at the people there you can see the scale of the dwellings.



    This Cliff Palace was inhabited 800 years ago. The alcove in the cliff that these people chose to develop was 90 ft deep and they used the existing rock or the rock that fell into the valley below to make walls for their village.



    Approx 150 people lived there and there is 3 stories with ladders connecting each level. Now it is all beige in colour like the rock but back then they used coloured plaster, red and yellow, to cover the walls. It must have been extremely colourful. After the tour we grabbed a bite to eat and then drove into Monticello Utah for the night.





    We had been watching the news and for some reason the US government was planning to shut down (huh????) and in turn they would close all of the National Parks. It was beyond me how this could happen.

    Did the people quit paying their taxes?

    Did they (the government) actually have the right to close the peoples treasures and not allow access by the people who owned them?

    Was this still the land of the free?

    It surely did not seem right but tomorrow would tell the tale.

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    Day 12 Monticello to Price Utah via Moab

    Day 12 map


    Todays theme. The republicans ruined my vacation but saved my ass from riding in the snow!

    We woke to a beautiful day! The drive to Moab was only about an hour.







    Moab is very touristy because of the outdoor activities that are offered in the area. It is like our Banff and Jasper with lots of wealthy people walking around with the best of gear on! You can rent ATV's, UTV's, bicycles, kayaks, 4 wheelers, paddle boards, jeeps, and dirt bikes. We stopped into a "Pancake Haus" for brunch and then sought out the Tourist Information Centre because we needed to confirm that the National Parks were indeed closed because of the government shut-down. Yup they are ... and will continue to be! The last two National Parks on our tour, Canyonlands and Arches, we would not be able to visit.

    The Tourist Information Centre was really nice with staff who had to tell the story of the government shut-down over and over again. One young lady at the front counter (European .. Germany I think) just could not believe that they couldn't go into the parks! The staff member was quite embarrassed because there are hundreds of tour buses coming and going from those parks and now what do they do! She did a really good job however of selling the local scenic tours and the state run parks.

    She recommended to us that we drive the River Road, just outside of Moab, that follows the Colorado River and also the Dead Horse Point State Park. So after picking up stickers and pins we took off for the River Road. It was outstanding! The rock walls are a bit different in this area of Utah.





    They are rounder and with the red colour and the dimples and holes they remind me of sweet potatoes or yams!





    These round rocks are what draws the dirt bikers, ATV'ers, and jeep driving dare-devils to the area. The back country has an endless amount of dirt roads just waiting to be explored.



    Anyway, we followed the River Road for 15 miles (that is where the road and river split) and then we turned around and headed back to highway 191.



    I just have to mention that the Colorado River is huge, very wide, very muddy and has pretty tame rapids along River Road at this time of year (maybe in the spring it runs wilder but we are not sure).



    For the bicycling enthusiasts there are paved bike trails all over and in fact along the River Road they are being further developed and will be fantastic!

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    Day 12 continued

    After we turned onto highway 191 we decided to try and go into Arches National Park just to see if we could 1) get in and 2) see any of the arches. Well we sure couldn't! The staff had barricades across the road and a sign posted explaining the closure. The highway patrol was even there to lend a hand. Some tourists had turned in and when we went by they were getting there picture taken with the parks staff! 10 more miles down the highway we turned into the Dead Horse Point State Park. The drive down into the park was 22 miles.





    When we got to the entrance gate Garth asked about the increase in tourists and the young man told us that the fee was good for 3 days just in case we couldn't get into the places we wanted to. That park had more tourists through it that day than it had in a very long time! As it turned out we were able to see some of the Canyonlands National Parks' pinnacles and buttes from the Dead Horse Point which towers 2,000 ft above the Colorado River which snakes through the valley below. It is an amazing view and on such a clear beautiful day you can see for miles.





    The cliff walls are staggeringly steep and full of deep reds and browns.






    The legend of Dead Horse Point is that the point was once used as a corral for wild mustangs roaming the mesa. Cowboys rounded up these horses, herded them across the narrow neck of land and onto the point. The neck, which is only 30 yards wide, was then fenced off with branches and brush, creating a natural corral surrounded by precipitous cliffs. Cowboys then chose the horses they wanted and for reasons unknown, left the other horses corralled on the waterless point where they died of thirst within view of the Colorado River, 2,000 ft below! Horrible ... what a horrible legend!




    Garth the dare-devil trekked out beyond the barricades, again, in search of the perfect picture. A lot of the point actually does not have barricades and many folks were creeping towards the edge, clicking cameras, or encouraging their loved ones to creep towards the edge for the perfect picture (right Garth!). I finally had to take over the camera ... no insurance proceeds for you buddy!



    Anyway, it was a terrific visit to the state park. They also had a great visitors centre (that's right more stickers and pins).

    We left there in 25 degrees and by the time we were back on highway 191 it was 28. So now we are headed back to Jackson Wyoming, our tour having been cut short. But there is another really good reason for cutting our tour short and that is SNOW! Yes a storm is coming through northern Utah and southern Wyoming and the forecast is for rain starting tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon turning to snow over night. A possibility of 10 - 15 cm of the stuff! And that is really terrible conditions when you are on a motorcycle!

    We left the Moab area and decided to try to get as many miles under our belt as possible. It was a 2 day ride into Jackson where we had to pick up the truck and trailer. We had been travelling at a pretty leisurely pace enjoying the area but now we had to put some harder miles on.

    We made it into Price Utah about 1/2 hr before sunset. It was a pretty open range ride so not a lot of pictures taken. I will say we were starved so we hit the restaurant and garth had one of his new favorite meals, the "Navajo Taco"\



    The plan for tomorrow is to make Jackson before the rain and snow so we are getting up early Wednesday morning and trying to get as many miles done in the morning as we can.

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