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Thread: My Retirement Ride

  1. #1

    My Retirement Ride

    Since I'm new here, if figured I should post up a ride report from my most recent trip. My plan was to take off out west to see some of this country over the course of a few weeks. The plan was to take off on a Sunday morning, to avoid the Atlanta traffic. My first real destination was to be Palo-Duro Canyon State Park, near Amarillo, TX. I have taken the two lane roads to New Mexico and Utah in the past, so this time I planned to just interstate it out to west Texas to save time. I’m not big on picture taking, so there are not too many photos. The ones I did take were just with my phone, so they are not the best quality.

    Day 1. I got as far as Forest City, AR, where I stopped at a hotel for the night. The local Goldwing Riders were giving out free ice water at the Alabama welcome center, definitely appreciated on that hot day. Other than that, there was nothing special about the day. I-22 through Alabama and Mississippi was an easy ride with almost no traffic.

    Day 2. Continued west on I-40. I hit a big slow moving storm as I approached Ft. Smith Arkansas. Since it was raining too hard to see, I spend an hour at Starbucks. After a while I decided to take a detour south, then west, to get around the storm. It refused to move out of my way. I spent this night at Dripping Springs State Park, in Okmulgee, OK. This park is not the best place to camp on a bike. The pull offs for camp sites all had about eight inch drop-offs from the pavement onto very unlevel grass to park on. I ended up having to camp next to the dumpsters, as it was the only spot I could easy pull off the road. Damn raccoons kept me up half the night. Also, of the two shower stalls, only one worked, and only at a drizzle. On the bright side, the campground host did not have any change, so I got the sight for the senior price of $10.

    Day 3. Continuing on I-40 I stopped at the Route 66 museum for a short break. I arrived at Palo-Duro Canyon State Park, fully expecting to get a camp site. After all, who ever heard of a campground being full on a Monday? Well, now I have. Luckily just outside the park there is a zip line attraction that has a small camping area. Not much, just a place to pitch a tent, a porta-potty, and water spigots. The chain was across the drive, so I called the after-hours number and was told just go on in. Someone will be by in the morning to collect $10. After hanging out the next morning as long as I could, nobody ever showed up. Scored a free night.
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  2. #2
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    Re: My Retirement Ride

    Day 4. I need to look at maps a little closer. NM 120 looked like it would take me where I needed to go. When I saw the sign warning about tight curves and hills, I knew I picked the ride road. When I saw the sign that said “pavement ends” I knew I picked the wrong road. I do not want to try and tackle what was about 14 miles of that stuff on the Chieftain. After I got turned around, I pulled out my map to find a bypass. That’s when I noticed the gravel road symbol. Not a big deal. Just a small detour that took me to a nice restaurant for lunch. I ended up at Coyote Creek State Park, near Mora, NM. As far as a place to spend a rainy night, it was excellent. They have three sided shelters with picnic tables in them. I was also able to pitch my tent in there. They also had the cleanest bathrooms and showers I have seen in a campground. Even the pit toilet that up by my site was clean and odor free. At $10, I considered it a bargain
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    Day 5. This is a day I had been looking forward to. I took US 64 across the top of New Mexico, through the Carson National Forest. I had ridden this road home from Zion two years ago and really enjoyed it. A delicious southwestern breakfast was on the menu as I went through Taos. From there it was westward across the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, towards Chama, NM. The ride through Carson National Forest is fantastic. This is where I saw my first glimpses of the snow covered peaks in Colorado. I would be thinking a lot about them later in the day when temperatures were reaching 100 in northern Arizona. Once past Farmington, the winds started picking up and getting fairly gusty. They took most of the fun out of the ride at that point. Upon reaching Kayenta, I decided a motel was in order for the night, seeing as how it was still another fifty hot miles to my planned camp. Hotels here are expensive, but as hot and dry as I was, I decided it was worth it.
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    Day 6. Monument valley… I skipped it on my way home from Zion due to the pouring rain on that trip. So after reaching Kayenta, I turned back and headed east, well northeast, to see the monuments. I had been told that you see just as much from US163 as you do going through the Tribal Park. Seeing as how they charged $10 to get into the park, and would not let me take my motorcycle past the visitor center, I stuck to o US 163. You still get all the iconic views from here. After the monuments, it was on through Mexican Hat to Durango, CO. I stayed at the KOA in Durango, and took a tour of the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum. I spent a few hours just walking through town and enjoyed a burger and beer. The museum had an interesting contraption called the Velocipede. It looked like a hand powered “motorcycle” with an outrigger for the second track. The view of the sunset this night took almost a half hour from onset to dark.
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  3. #3
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    Re: My Retirement Ride

    Day 7. This was another day I had been looking forward to. Parts of US 550 from Durango north to Montrose is known as the Million Dollar Highway. I was told the views were spectacular. They were. If you go this way, expect sharp curves, no guard rails, sheer drop-offs, and as an added bonus on this trip… a lot of loose gravel from recent road repairs. This day ended in Grand Junction, CO at the KOA. Once again, not the best place for tent camping. No shade until almost sunset, but the swimming pool was a nice relief. The ride from Montrose to Grand Junction was tough, thanks once again to strong gusty crosswinds.

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    Day 8. This day was filled with unexpected beauty. US 191 from Vernal, UT to Rock Springs, WY, is now one of my favorite roads. It took me through canyons, up and down steep, windy mountain roads, through Flaming Gorge, and then along high sweeping curves overlooking southwestern Wyoming. I had a small scare while going through Ashley National Forest. After one stop, the display on my dash went black. I thought it could possibly be a loose battery terminal, as in the past this had caused it to flicker. Seeing as I was about eighty miles from anywhere, with no cell phone coverage, I figured as long as the bike was running I would just go with it. It would be my luck to accidently short out the VCM while trying to access the battery. Of course, I was worried the whole time. If the battery was loose, it would not be charging. When I got to the Flaming Gorge Dam, I saw a lot of people and phones in case I ran into any problems. Before digging into the bike, I figured why not just try restarting it first. Sure enough the problem went away. It was just a computer glitch. After thinking about it, I remembered toggling the display switch right as it was cycling on its own, just before it went black. This must have been what caused the error. My plan was to stop for the day in Rock Springs, (it looked bigger on the map) but when I got there I decided to go all the way to Jackson WY. Tonight’s camp was next to the Snake River at the KOA in Hobart Jct. The river was running high, and the campground was partially flooded. They had posted that none of the water in camp was potable due to the flooding, so a maintenance worker gave me a gallon of bottled water to get me through the night.

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    Day 9. Woke up to cold and rain. I rode up through Teton National Park, where the clouds were hanging low, obscuring a lot of the views. I had originally thought about heading west from here and taking Teton Pass over to Idaho and the Bitterroot Mountains, and then up to Glacier National Park. The weather reports were calling for winter storm warning with roads closed and temperatures of 18 dropping to 4 in the Tetons. I kept waiting for the word “Celsius” but never heard it. My sleeping bag on this trip was rated at 35 degrees, so west was out. The Going –to-the- Sun- Road was still closed, (at that point only 29 miles of it was open). I did not want to go through Yellowstone, because my wife and I are going there in September. I figured might as well turn east and head towards the house. I rode on to Casper WY. , and got into the hotel about five minutes before the tornado warnings.

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  4. #4
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    Re: My Retirement Ride

    Day 10. Going diagonally across Nebraska. This is a long state. It was actually much prettier than I expected it to be. Anything but 85 octane gas is almost impossible to find here. It seems the bad weather did not go away over night. Areas that I rode through in the morning got hit with tornados later in the day. Stopped at Grand Island for the night.
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    Day 11. Strong steady winds all day today, but I was glad to finally be out of Nebraska. I thought that state would never end. Stopped for the night at Finger Lakes state Park, near Columbia, MO. It was a nice quiet park, with good sites and clean bathhouse.


    Day 12. At this point, I was just riding to get home. Spent the night at Naches Trace State Park, near Lexington, TN. I would rate this as one of the worst places to go on a motorcycle. Once again, I got the only spot that a motorcycle could be parked on, not counting the ones that looked like they would flood if it rained.

    Day 13. The first part of the day was spent following the Trail of Tears. Then was mostly on old familiar roads while working my way to the house. I wanted to stop at the Walking Tall Museum in Adamsville, TN, but it was too early in the day to be open. I guess that will be another trip. Ten miles from home the temperature dropped from 95 to 74, and the sky opened up on me, it felt good, I had been in stop and go traffic for a while and was getting quite hot.
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    All told I ended up going just over 5000 miles with my bike averaging about 44mpg. The best mileage I got was in Northern New Mexico, where somehow squeezed 59mpg out of one tank. I started thinking the fuel gauge was malfunctioning, But, I guess cruise control at 60mph at high altitudes is what did it. Even though I did not see everything I planned on, it was a good trip. I had to use hotels more than I had planned on, but that’s was usually due to the weather. Those places I missed will still be there. It just gives me another trip to plan. Hopefully, my wife will be able to come next time, rather than going solo. I just need to remember that it warms up much later up north than down here in Georgia.

  5. #5
    ILIKEYMYWING! wingpilot08's Avatar
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    Re: My Retirement Ride

    Nice write up...looks like you had a good trip!
    2008 GL1800-HPNA with 30,000+ miles
    1988 BunkHouse camper
    Darkside #1720


  6. #6
    mmartin_tdc's Avatar
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    Re: My Retirement Ride

    Very nice trip. Thanks for bringing us along.
    Marc
    In sunny NorCal

  7. #7
    newday777's Avatar
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    Re: My Retirement Ride

    Great writeup and trip you did there.
    Yes this year was particularly late spring/summer in the western mountains, of which they're high enough to have possibility of cold storms all summer. Hail happens quite often as do winds. I hit several 4 years ago going west of the Black Hills of SD into WY, MT, Idaho and WA. Keep rain gear on top is the best advice for flatlanders as the mtn folk refer to the non locals.
    Stu.
    2008 GL1800 Level 4 ABS/Airbag
    Moded Harbor Freight Clamshell trailer and tent
    Previously 2007 Aspen Sentry

  8. #8
    dan1551's Avatar
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    Re: My Retirement Ride

    Great reading!
    2012 Limited Harley Davidson +09 Aspen classic
    ( WIFE MADE ME BUY THEM BOTH)
    The only time you can have too much fuel.............is if your on fire!

  9. #9
    just another Saddle Tramp Dusty Boots's Avatar
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    Re: My Retirement Ride

    Welcome!
    Thanks for taking the time and effort for your excellent TR!
    I enjoyed it very much, 're-riding' many of the spots you went through.
    What time of year was this trip, mid May?
    Ken - 1992 Honda GL1500 Aspencade 2013 Victory Cross Country Tour
    Camping Styles - tent camp off of bike - 2013 HF Cargo trailer - 2011 Aspen Sentry
    "It's never too early to plan and never too late to go!" - Dusty
    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8518/8390110233_2a7d94ec03_m.jpg

  10. #10
    Meach's Avatar
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    Re: My Retirement Ride

    Nice report, sounds like you had a nice trip. I'd like to eventually ride out to the four corners/southern rockies area. Hoping to get the wife out to the Rockies later this summer, then maybe she won't mind if I take a month or so next summer to ride.
    Meach and Maggie

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