Six Days in May
6 1/2 Days (Wed. afternoon through the following Tuesday)
2765 GPS Miles (2890 + Odo miles)
Fun Factor = 7 out of 10 (More time and less slab would have been nice)
New Things Seen = 5 ( I-70 Southern Utah, Black Canyon, Red Mountain)
Friends Met = 2 (Steve and Jacquie)
New Roads Ridden = 2 (I-70, US-550)
Memorial Day weekend – three full days! And Lynda had given me the go ahead to take a ride. The only question was where. I thought about doing a California Four Corners, or another trip up the coast, but couldn’t decide on which to do. Then here comes an email from Dale, reminding us that the District F rally was being held in Montrose, Colorado over Memorial Day. Now, I’d not even thought of making that trip before Dale’s email arrived, so I started looking at my maps and potential routes. There was no way that trip could be made in three days (if I was going to spend any time at the rally itself). I approached my boss and asked for a couple of days off. It wound up being three days off, and I needed pretty much all of it. I had not made any room reservations, and I knew that would be a problem – after much frustration trying to find something on line I finally sent an email to a fellow listed on the flyer – Bill Agnew – asking if he could explain the reason for the hour and a half ride required between Montrose and Grand Junction (Grand Junction being the only spot I could find a room), Bill sent me an email back almost immediately saying they had a reservation at the “Country Lodge” that they weren’t going to use, and I was welcome to it if I wanted -- Of course I took them up on it!! Now, imagine my surprise when I arrived in Montrose and went to the opening ceremonies only to find the Bill and Jan Agnew are our new regional directors! These two are the real deal. So, I’m all set - Got the time, got the room and a route.
The route I decided upon was South, through Las Vegas, then Southern Utah to Grand Junction and Finally Montrose. For the return trip I wanted to see Bryce, Zion, and Grand Canyons and perhaps taking 395 back up to Reno and finally 80 home.
Here’s how it all worked out.
I left work at 12:30 on Wednesday, and rode hard down 99 to 58, over the pass, gassed up in Mojave, through Barstow where I picked up I -15 to Baker where I paid way too much for 3.5 gallons of gas, and finally arrived in Las Vegas at 9:00 PM (without a reservation, but I found a very reasonable room at the Comfort Inn on Flamingo.). I was glad that day didn’t count as a vacation day, because it sure didn’t feel like one !! I got up early on Thursday and checked out of the hotel. As I was loading up the bike (which, by the way the desk clerk made me park in front of their entrance so they could keep an eye on it !) , the security guard chatted to me about the bike, and did it have this, that etc. He was very surprised to learn that it had a reverse! So I left Las Vegas about 7:15 and headed back North on I-15 to where I-70 intersects it. It was I-70 then all the way to Grand Junction. This was the first time I’ve ever been across southern Utah on I-70. I was very impressed - beautiful scenery, beautiful mountains, a very enjoyable ride. When I checked my mileage at noon I noticed that I was nearing a thousand miles, so, while I’ve not done the 1K Iron Butt yet, I know I can just based upon those two days of travel. When I arrived in Grand Junction I was still 63 miles away from Montrose. I picked up US-50 and headed south. It took no time at all to figure out why it would take an hour and a half to get from Grand Junction to Montrose -- the city was built up all along the highway, so there were stop lights and traffic everywhere - even when I left the city environs the speed limit was very low. 15 miles outside of Montrose the highway was getting a new “Chip Coat”, so the speed dropped even lower. Anyway the ride ended at the Country Lodge at 3:30 California time. I got checked in and had a great (old 50’s style – but really clean and neat) room. There were about 12 other wings already parked in the lot. Dinner that night was at an all-you-could-eat Chinese buffet – it was ok, but just ok.
Got up on Friday morning and headed down to the fairgrounds to pick up my registration stuff and get my green arm band. Then it was over to the Pavilion for the Opening Ceremonies. Now, this was my first rally -- Oh man, when I turned the corner where the Pavilion was and saw all of those wings parked, that’s when I developed one of those ear to ear grins you see on happy Goldwing owners. There must have been 200 bikes parked there. I parked my bike and was entering the auditorium when I ran into Steve and Jacquie Foster. We sat together and I heard about how their trip had been going so far - I’ll let them tell you that story! Opening Ceremonies went about as one would expect – all the muckity-mucks from national and district were there and said their pieces -- it was very nice to see the Mayor of Montrose there also, and she greeted us as honored guests to here town -- made me feel good. After the opening ceremonies we were free to do what we wanted – there were lots of classes and seminars to take, not to mention the vendors back at the fair grounds. – That’s were I headed. Lynda’s been complaining about wind buffeting here on the back, so I promised I’d look for a Tulsa when I got to the rally. Well, shortly after noon on Friday I had a new windshield installed. Looks good and it is quiet – I’ll have to see if it improves Lynda’s ride.
I took a couple of small rides during my two days at the rally. One took me out to the Black Canyon of the Gunninson National Park – just outside of Montrose. This is about a 2 hour round trip experience. There are 12 turnouts spaced around the canyon rim, some with short hikes to an observation point, and some that offer amazing views just from the road. Very nice park, and should be on your must see list if you are in the area. Another very lovely ride is back north to the natural bridges in Crawford. That same road will also take you back to the black canyon, and eventually back to US-50. On Saturday evening about 80 of us went on a pie ride, a short 25 mile round trip around some of the county roads around Montrose. The pie and ice cream was good, not to mention the company!
I decided to leave on Sunday rather than Monday because I wanted to take it slower going home than I did getting there. On Steve and Jacquie’s recommendation I decided to head over the Red Mountain “million dollar” road. You can find that on your map by looking for US-550 between Montrose and Durango. WOW! This ride was the highlight of my trip. The better part of the 110 miles is in the heart of the Rockies. Two passes, each over 12,000 feet high. Snow, sweepers, and hairpin switchbacks, plus a gorgeous little town right in the middle of it all (Silverton). I was on the road by 7:30 on Sunday, and had breakfast in Silverton at the Chatanooga restaurant -- best chicken fried steak and egg breakfast I’ve ever had! I ran into several groups of wing riders doing the same ride. Some were on their way home, while others were doing a loop around Red Mountain. Descending out of the Rockies into Durango was a disappointment - I knew that I was done with the “twisties” for this trip. The ride from Durango to Gallup, NM was straight – and pretty uninteresting. From Gallup I headed West on the old US-66. Truth be told, I was unimpressed and decided that I-40 would be a much better alternative on getting to Holbrook, AZ where I planned on spending Sunday night. I don’t know if any one has ever seen the picture of the “Tee-pee” motel on route 66 or not. I remember it from 45 years ago when my family moved to California. It’s in Holbrook, and it’s still there! WOW! Such a cool thing to see - 15 Tee-pee’s each with a vintage car parked in front of it – fun! Monday I was to get from Holbrook to at least Kingman or Barstow if possible via the Grand Canyon. The 90 miles from Holbrook to Flagstaff went fast – lots and lots of trucks on the freeway, but everyone was moving right along. Breakfast at 8:30 in Flagstaff followed by another 50 mile ride up AZ-180 to US-64 and into the South Rim took another two hours. Highway 180 was a nice ride, but a little slow what with lower speed limits - I noticed the Arizonians weren’t paying a great deal of attention -- but us “tourists” were. The Grand Canyon is still an incredible wonder. I wasn’t able to spend any real time there, but I knew I didn’t want to be that close to it and not see it. Monday, being Memorial Day, I expected the park to be busy, and it was, but not as busy as it could have been. After I left the park there must have been 15 tour busses I passed on their way in. The ride out of the Flagstaff area and down into the Desert went without problems, although I have to admit I liked the cooler weather at the higher elevations! About 40 miles East of Barstow I-40 was undergoing some construction. Two lanes of traffic reduced to one on Memorial Day, on a Major Freeway -- Only in California!! It was fully a five mile backup and it took over an hour to get through it. I was glad for the CB for that hour, as the truckers I was sharing the road with were a blast to listen and talk to. I made it to Barstow by 5:30 and checked into the Holiday Inn. Pizza for dinner. Checked out at 7:30 on Tuesday, and made it home by 2:30. Got unloaded and the bike cleaned up by 5:00. Excellent ride - If you haven’t done a district rally – or haven’t done one recently – you should. Good people , and fun times.