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I’m talking about the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe who are the native people of Death Valley.

Death Valley

Destination: Death Valley

With multiple weeks of nice weather, our posse departed Portland, Oregon early morning on September 17th with a cold front and threat of rain and the occasional spit of rain drops in the face. We haplessly listened to the V-Twin’s drone on as we traveled east on Interstate 84 for 426 miles.

Long delay due to overturned semi on I-84

Long delay caused by an overturned Concrete semi on I-84

We arrived in Boise late afternoon which was hosting Oktoberfest in the Basque Block part of the vibrant downtown!  We enjoyed some island fare and refreshments on the rooftop tiki patio at The Reef.  Crowds gathered in the closed off streets for authentic German biers, food and of course the occasional chicken dance.  And in what has to be one of the best Idaho cover bands — Pilot Error — rocked the crowd most of the evening.  Here is a video of the band doing a Def Leppard cover with Derek Roy as lead vocal and the awesome Roger Witt – on lead guitar.

As the evening wore on it seemed filled with young college kids who were trying hard to “be” the club scene.  Like those videos produced by I’m Shmacked.

Idaho Basin

Snake River and Great Basin area

The next morning was a continuation east on the mind-numbing straight road of Interstate 84. However, we really clicked off the miles to Twin Falls doing the freeway speed limit which is now set at 80 mph!  We rolled along and were surprised by how many 18-wheelers tried to pass us.

As a side bar, you might recall that in the mid-1970s, Congress established a national maximum speed limit by withholding highway funds from states that maintained speed limits greater than 55 mph. Do you remember the “I can’t drive 55” days?  The requirement was loosened for rural interstates in 1987 and completely repealed in 1995. As of today, 41 states have speed limits of 70 mph or higher. Oregon state legislators who seem to know more than the average citizen about how to protect us from ourselves just recently increased some rural interstate speeds to 70 mph.  Texas is the fastest at 85 mph.

Idaho

In route to Ely, NV

But I’ve digressed.  This part of our arid motorcycle journey took us on the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway which runs through the Snake River Canyon. We rode through bright green irrigated fields, crossed the Snake River, saw a waterfall spilling from the top of a high bluff, and watched windmills turning in the stiff wind.  As we headed further south on U.S. Route 93 we split the Great Basin that covers most of Nevada and part of Utah. There were mountains to the East and West, and the traffic thinned to an occasional tractor-trailer hauling freight or cattle.

Our ride ended that day in Ely, Nevada, which was founded as a stagecoach stop along the Pony Express, and later became a booming copper mining town.

We parked the bikes and enjoyed a nice dinner at the La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant.

On the Lonliest Road

On Nevada’s Loneliest Road

The following day we were up early and continued our ride south on one of Nevada’s loneliest roads.  I’m not sure about you, but I find the Nevada desert to be immensely beautiful and awe-inspiring. Even though most of the roads are flat and straight, the scenery is grand and I always enjoy the ride.

Just a few miles south of Ely is a turnoff for the Ward Charcoal ovens.  We didn’t travel down the eight miles of gravel road, but there are beehive-shaped stone kilns built by Mormons around 1876 to produce fuel for the silver and lead smelters serving the mines on Ward Mountain.  As you look across the valley at the Big Basin National Park, there is the 13,000 foot Wheeler Peak standing off in the distant.

More Lonely Road...

More Lonely Road…

We traveled the mostly straight 240+ miles and finally rolled into North Las Vegas and could see the skyline of the famous Las Vegas strip.  Speaking of the city that never sleeps, our posse picked up a lot of traffic at the U.S. 93/I-15 interchange and were immediately greeted with a dude on a sport bike weaving in and out of lanes.  Then adding to the traffic drama he started to split lanes at full on freeway speeds.

I must have missed that part of the training about how motorcyclists should always make sudden moves in heavy traffic!  Most people who’ve had any experience driving in and around Vegas know that it can be a bit treacherous. Cages with locals that always seem to be in a hurry and cabbies are out in force all day and night driving fast and cutting across multiple lanes.  Add to that the tourists trying to navigate a new city on the freeways and it’s a perfect storm of distracted drivers.

After all the traffic hustle and bustle I was looking forward to parking the bike for awhile and relaxing around the pool for a day.  That evening we took on the “clickers” (i.e. porn panderers) who stand on every corner of the Strip and aggressively try to shove advertisements for adult entertainment in your face.

Selfie

Departing Las Vegas

Don’t take me wrong, Las Vegas has world-class restaurants, cool bars, amazing entertainment and great weather, but after a couple of days of breathing air freshener the casinos pump into their ventilation systems to mask the reeking of camels, cigarillos, cigars and those slot machines going ding-ding-ding… I’m ready for some fresh air and wind in the face!

We did have an opportunity to walk through the sprawling Harley-Davidson dealer across from the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign.  We checked out the new Milwaukee Eight touring bikes and spent some time chatting with a knowledgeable sales person about the 2017 differences.


It wasn’t too long (about 48 hours) and Las Vegas was in our mirrors as we rode out into the desert on Hwy 160.  We departed the city early so that we could tour through Death Valley before it got too hot.  It was still in the high-70 degree range as we departed.  We increased altitude going through Red Rock Canyon National Park toward Pahrump as the desert landscape morphs from sandy, rocky terrain dotted with low brush and creosote bushes.  Big stratified rock formations and hills define the valleys in the distance, closing in on the road periodically before opening up to a wide expanse of flat desert floor. It’s a wonderland of muted color.
Rearward pic

Looking back on Hwy 190

We fueled up in Pahrump which is an interesting town.  Like in the rest of Nevada, gambling is legal in Pahrump, and there are several casinos to take advantage of that fact. But, unlike Las Vegas, the casinos in Pahrump are present but not dominant. They’re smaller and a little less intimidating.  There might be some wisdom in staying overnight in Pahrump instead of the hectic scene in Vegas. Certainly the traffic situation would be a lot less stressful.

At the Death Valley junction we turned west on Hwy 190 and headed for Furnace Creek where the Native American tribe known as the Death Valley Timbisha Shoshone Band of California are located.

Initially it was was quite comfortable, but as we descended into the valley it felt like someone was turning up an oven.  It was still early and the temps were in the high 80’s but by the time we stopped in Furnace Creek it was 100 degrees.  Surprisingly hot for the end of September, but the scenery is spectacular!

Death Valley

Death Valley – Timbisha Shoshone Tribe

It’s some of the best “landscape” on the planet that looks a bit like you’ve arrived on Mars. There’s nothing growing out there higher than your knee yet it will be forever etched in your memory as not just one of the greatest motorcycle rides ever but one of the most beautiful.  At one place in the park you can look down at one of the lowest points on earth at -280 feet in one direction and up to the highest point in the continental U.S. in another (Mt. Whitney, at 14,494).  It’s an amazing color contrast.

Existing Death Valley

Exiting Death Valley

We scurried on out of the national park and headed toward Mammoth Lakes on Hwy 395.  The first real town you come to is Lone Pine. In the early to mid 20th century, the area around Lone Pine, particularly the Alabama Hills, which lie between the highway and the Sierra range, was a popular setting for western movies.  Just west of town you’ll get another nice view of Mt. Whitney.

By the time we rode through the Inyo National Forest the desert heat had faded and we were getting hit with cooler air.  Much, much cooler as we gained altitude and it started to spit rain drops.  Not enough to soak the road or require rain gear, but enough to make it a bit uncomfortable.  Our ride on this day ended at Mammoth Lakes which is a ski and outdoor-sports town.

Heading up toward Mammoth Lakes

Heading up toward Mammoth Lakes

Surprisingly it rained most of the night, but the sky cleared up in the early morning and we departed Mammoth Lakes with the temperature only in the high 40’s.  A brisk start to our riding day as we continued north on Hwy 395 on the eastern side of the Sierra’s.  We rode around Mono Lake, and we climbed to another 8100-foot ridge, which offers a great view back to the Mono basin before starting back down past the turn-off for Bodie.

Mono Lake

Mono Lake

The last real town before your reach Nevada is Bridgeport.  We stopped at the Bridgeport Inn, for breakfast.  A nice place built in 1877 and about 23 miles from Mono Lake.  It’s a family run historic period Victorian hotel, old Irish pub, and fine dining restaurant.  After warming up a bit we continue our ride and crossed into Nevada about 50 miles after Bridgeport. Aptly named Topaz Lake covers the state line next to the highway as you cross.

We arrived in Reno for the start of Street Vibrations 2016. Downtown was rumbling with motorcycles of all shapes and sizes for the fall rally which marks the last big motorcycle rally of the season for the west. There was no shortage of vendors and having been to the event a number of times we repeated some of the events over a couple of days.

The Posse

The Destination: Timbisha Indian Country Posse

Part of the posse departed early Saturday morning and some headed out late morning to return back to Portland.  I’m not sure about you, but I don’t take many photos on the return trip from Reno as I’ve been on these roads a lot over the years and just focused on riding home vs. scenery.


In summary, we traveled over 2100 miles in 8 days with no mishaps, tickets or mechanical malfunctions. What more can you ask for?

 

Street Vibrations UPDATE:  There was some disappointing  news surrounding Street Vibrations which I learned of upon my return.  Jeffrey Sterling Duke, 57, of Georgetown, Calif. was shot to death on Interstate 80 near Truckee on Saturday night.  According to law enforcement he was semi-associated with the Vagos Motorcycle Club and his Facebook page noted that he was a Green Nation Supporter.

According to officials three motorcyclists rode up to the victim and fired multiple gunshots before taking off.  It’s not clear if this shooting is associated, but you might recall that five years ago this past weekend, members of the Vagos and Hells Angels Motorcycle Clubs exchanged gunfire during a deadly brawl on the floor of a casino in Sparks.

Randy Burke (Road Shows) applies some media “spin” and explains why the Street Vibrations Rally is not to be blamed for the shooting.

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog
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Shark Week III - Utah

Shark Week III – Utah

This blog post is a continuation from HERE.

The next day we decided to avoid the large group ride, instead to venture on our own ride.   We planned to do an approximately 300 mile loop to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park.

Though one of the smallest of southern Utah’s national parks, it’s visually stunning, particularly at sunrise and sunset when an orange wash sets the rock formations ablaze.   There are steep trails that descend from the rim into the 1000ft amphitheaters of pastel color daggers, then continue through a maze of juniper trees in the high-mountain desert.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

The high altitude meant cooler temperatures (80°F)  than in St. George.  And if we were looking for solitude on the road we wouldn’t find it out here.  The crowds and RV’s had arrived in force clogging the park’s main road as we watched ill prepared visitors explore the trails.

The Native Americans once called this colorful landscape of jumbled rocks and sedimentary canyons the Land of the Sleeping Rainbow and it was easy to see why when you snapped a photo.

'Glidin' Bryce Canyon

‘Glidin’ Bryce Canyon with Sandcastle-like Spires

We made a number of stops in the park and walked around for photo op’s and then made our way back to the entrance.

Prior to leaving the park we had a late lunch in the Cowboy’s Buffet and Steak Room.  Yeah, they had National Park prices, but it was quite tasty food.

Afterward we headed back through the park to St. George and the oppressive heat.

Bryce Canyon Panorama

At Bryce Point Overlooking Bryce Canyon – Panorama

The St. George’s forecast was Howard Beale-esque.  “We’re hot as hell, and we didn’t want to take it anymore!”  Apologies to actor Peter Finch’s rant as the “mad as hell” broadcaster from the 1976 film “Network,” but Utah was in a sizzling grip of triple-digit temperatures and we were getting sick of it!

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon Hoodoos

It was the first time I could recall where I’ve been on a motorcycle ride and unable to sit outside during the evening.  At 11pm at night it was in the high 90’s.  We didn’t need to watch the news to understand there was a heat advisory.

We sat in the A/C room looking over maps and determining what direction or ride to take on the next day.

Tunnel Riding Toward Bryce Canyon

Tunnel Riding Toward Bryce Canyon

We had a member of the posse that attempted an “Iron Butt” ride.  He departed a couple days later than the main group on Tuesday, July 30th and was scheduled to arrive that evening from Portland, OR to St. George UT (approx. 1034 miles) in less than 24 hours ride.  He arrived around 9:30pm with all the documents and gas receipts in hand as well as a navigation unit with the stats to validate his ride.  Congrats and BIG props for that accomplishment!

"Big Ben" Completes Iron Butt - 1034 Miles!

“Ben” Does An Iron Butt – 1036 Miles Under 24 Hrs!

One of our riders (MC) had to split from the group and return home early for a friend’s wedding.   He planned to leave early the next morning and the remainder of our group had decided to ride out early to Las Vegas, stay overnight and then loop back north on Highway 95 and take a couple extra days for our return ride.

It’s very difficult to write/post the following…

More Bryce Canyon

The Land Of Sleeping Rainbows

We awoke early Wednesday (July 31st) morning to get a jump on the heat of the day.  We were just getting out of the showers and packing up the gear about 7:30am when the cell phone rang…

It was the sheriff and he stated that “MC” was hit by a car in the Bluff Street-Red Hills Parkway intersection.  This was about 3 miles from the hotel.  The person who got the call rushed up to the intersection.  The rest of us got there about 10-15 minutes later.  We arrived to see the paramedics working on him and prepping him for Life Flight.  Once the helicopter took off we helped clear debris and gather up some personal belongings.

Life Flight Takes MC

Life Flight Takes “MC” To Dixie Regional Medical Center

We talked to St. George Police Sgt. Craig Harding about the accident.  He stated that “MC” was traveling northbound on Bluff Street through the Red Cliffs Parkway intersection.  This is the last red light leaving town!  There is some disagreement by multiple eye witnesses whether “MC” was on a solid green or just changed to yellow light. While traveling through the intersection, “MC” was initially cut off by a southbound car making a left turn toward Red Hills Parkway.  Some witnesses reported that “MC” yelled at the first car before being hit in the side by a second car who had clearly run the light and was also making a left turn.   None of it mattered as the driver of the second car was cited for failure to yield to oncoming traffic.

The impact left “MC” with significant injuries to his left leg (multiple compound fractures).  He was in surgery for nearly 4 hours.  He has a broken collar bone, severely smashed ankle/foot, head trauma (3” gash around the left eye) and other miscellaneous cuts, scrapes and bruises to his arms and hands.  He was coherent at the accident scene and the reason why we got the phone call so fast.

"MC" Enjoying The NV Desert And Ride On Hwy 93

“MC” Enjoying The NV Desert And Ride On Hwy 93

It’s one thing to read and blog about motorcycle accidents, but quite different being there in person and knowing the rider.  The 4 mile ride to the hospital was very difficult.

In the trauma center doctors told us they were extremely concerned with the potential loss of his foot.  In fact, they prepped “MC” while in his pain medicated state about how he could lose the foot.  We all thanked God that he was alive and not paralyzed.  Dr. Clark told us following the accident in the trauma center…“The boot might have saved the foot… but, the helmet saved his life!”

We stayed at the trauma center for a couple of days until significant others arrived in St. George.   We then started our return ride home be it with some riding anxiety and shaken confidence.

The EMT’s, Life Flight personnel, the trauma doctors, and nursing staff all deserve a HUGE debt of gratitude.  Also a shout-out to Dr. Clark!  Yeah I know that a shout-out from this blogger is not nearly enough, but it’s a small start and I’m sure when “MC” is feeling better he’ll show them this post.  I also want to send a big shout-out to Mike aka “Shark Daddy.”  He rushed to the scene prior to the Life Flight arrival and helped in an immeasurable way by talking and holding onto “MC” as he was being worked on by the EMTs.

Lastly, I want to extend a special thank you and evangelize my appreciation and gratitude to the Shark Week organizers and attendees.  During the closing awards dinner the group passed a hat around and collected over a $1000 cash and presented it to “MC” in the hospital to help out with medical expenses.

Ron “Stray Mutt,” you and the group are absolutely awesome and I can’t begin to remember or list all the names of our new “best friends!”  Just know that we’re telling everyone about the groups generosity and kindness.

Final comment is to “MC”… get well buddy so that we can all ride another day!

Part 1 of this blog post is HERE.

UPDATE: August 13, 2013 – It’s been almost 2-weeks since MC’s accident.  All the prayers and outreach have helped because the news and trend on his recovery and foot/leg is positive each day.  Thank you!  He was recently transferred to an Acute Rehabilitation Unit where he is undergoing intensive physical therapy.  MC is in good spirits along with getting terrific support from his sig other (Sherry).  Both have an attitude to push forward and through the healing/rehab process and I’m sure we’ll continue to hear good news.  Yesterday he spent a couple hours in a hyperbaric chamber with enriched oxygen to increase blood flow and to help heal his foot. 

Unfortunately he is facing mounting medical expenses.  The driver of the automobile (using his girlfriend’s car) had minimal insurance coverage and MC is unemployed and under insured.  We’re looking into fund raisers to help, and appreciate everyone’s continued positive thoughts and prayers as we work on a plan to get him transported back to Oregon.

UPDATE: August 21, 2013 – MC was scheduled to be release from Acute Rehab today, but unfortunately he suffered a major heart attack while lying in bed this morning.  MC was rushed to the Dixie Regional Medical Center ER for emergency surgery.  He will be back in the ICU within a couple hours. Reports are that the angioplasty and stent placement surgery is going well.  Sadly, this is exactly where MC started out twenty-one days ago almost to the exact hour. The trauma doctors at Dixie are awesome and he’s in a good place if this was going to happen.

UPDATE: September 18, 2013Many are already aware of this, but in case you just landed on this blog post and didn’t know, you can now get updates or follow MC’s recovery progress HERE on Facebook or on his blog HERE.

Photos by author.

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Fire near Goldendale, WA casts smoke on I-84

Fire near Goldendale, WA casts smoke on I-84

“The boot might have saved the foot… but, the helmet saved his life!”  said Dr. Clark, Dixie Region Medical Trauma Center.

But, let me go back to the beginning.

You haven’t heard from me for several days because I was on a ride to southern Utah for the annual Shark Week gathering.

Shark huh?

backward-picI’m not talking about the Discovery Channel event this week, but a semi-secret society of Shark Nose owners (a.k.a. Road Glide or ‘Glides’) that meet up on an annual basis and talk about the joy of wrenching and riding a ‘Glide’.  More importantly was the opportunity to ride through Zion National Park and see Bryce Canyon up close.  You know, those sorbet-colored, sandcastle-like spires and hoodoos that look like something straight out of a science fiction movie.

Mineral Hot Springs

Mineral Hot Springs

So we loaded up the iron steeds and rolled out of Portland early in route to St. George, Utah.  It seems that ‘Gliders’ like to awaken and ride off early.  Not me so much, but I conformed with the posse knowing that the previous 5-days had record heat and getting a lot of miles under our belt prior to the real oppressive heat would be a good thing.

We planned to take three days to cover the approximately 1100 miles to St. George.

On the first morning it was some good and quite riding with the gorge wind on our backs.  The first bit of change was due to a fire near Goldendale, WA., which blanketed I-84 and much of eastern Oregon with a thick blanket of smoke, but we rode on.  We did a quick ‘drive-by’ at the Oregon H.O.G. event in Pendleton, but it was largely winding down on Saturday (July 27th) so we continued heading east.

Downtown Boise, ID

Downtown Boise, ID

The first overnight stop was in Boise which seems to have a perpetual Basque street party anytime we arrive.  I didn’t see any Basque athletes, but supposedly they are famous for their feats of strength.  Something about dragging around a 1500 pound rock attached to a belt.  We did see some husky dudes that likely played on the college football team.  We ate dinner at the Reef Restaurant and enjoyed some refreshments in the Tiki Bar.

Snake River Panorama

Snake River Panorama

We rolled out early the next morning and were making good time on the interstate.  We crossed the Snake River at Twin Falls and headed south on Highway 93.  We decided to overnight in the small copper mining town of Ely, NV.  It’s located at the cross-road of highways U.S. 50 (“Loneliest Road In America”) and U.S. 93.  There is a newer La Quinta Inn that was quite nice and we ate dinner at the La Fiesta Mexican restaurant.  There was a group of riders coming in from Cali that all rode Screamin’ Eagle touring models.  It looked like a dealer convention and we chatted with them for a while and share some stories.

It's a long road...

Highway 93 Stretches Across the NV Desert

The next morning (Monday – July 29) we continued on U.S. 93 where the road stretches across the Nevada desert with very few services.  We had a light wind at our backs and I recall Molly Hatchet’s, “Flirtin’ With Disaster” sounding especially good.

I know, a third-rate boogie band.  But, it was different in the seventies.  It was overplayed to death back then, and the boomers know it by heart and get a nostalgic thrill every time we hear it today.  You see country records rarely had any presence north of the Mason-Dixon line, and southern rock bands dominated the airwaves, to the point where we got imitation acts, like Molly Hatchet, third generation stuff that was easily dismissible, except for the hits.  And that’s what the rednecks and the northerners had in common. This sound. It brought us together. Because it could not be denied. And it was always played by southerners. First, the Allman Brothers. Then Lynyrd Skynyrd. Then the Outlaws and Molly Hatchet.

But I’ve digressed.

Showers roll across the desert

Showers Roll Across The Desert

In the town of Panaca we took Highway 319/56.  The road continued to be flat and most straight with a few zig-zag’s across the irrigated farm land.  At the Beryl Junction, we made a brief stop at a John Deere farm implement business/gas station and then we rode south on Highway 18.  It was too long and the heat became oppressive as rode down into the valley.  Most of day we were at higher altitudes and it was comfortable, but about an hour outside St. George, Utah it felt like a furnace.

Arrived at Shark Week III

Arrived at Shark Week III

Off to our right I noticed that the afternoon sun was casting shadows on Snow Canyon State Park.  It’s a canyon about 15 minutes from St. George carved from red and white Navajo sandstone in the Red Mountains.  Finally we had arrived in St. George.   We checked into the Shark Week III event at the Lexington Hotel and after a day of desert heat we were badly in need of food, showers, air condition and some rest.  Mostly showers!

After showers and some dinner we thought about sitting outside with some chairs in the parking area, but it was too hot.  We did wander the parking area and chatted up the planned events with the other ‘Gliders’.  It’s a great  group of folks and was nice to meet some fellow ‘Gliders.’

The blog post continues HERE which provides more details on the Dr. Clark comment.

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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4-Corners By Harley-Davidson – Part 3

Beartooth Pass Scenic Highway

Gaining Altitude on Beartooth Pass Scenic Highway

This is a continuation of Part-2 HERE, of our 4000-mile journey to 4-Corners that led us through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota/Sturgis, Montana, Northern Idaho, Washington and then back to Oregon.

Billings to Bear Tooth Pass – Yellowstone – Bozeman, MT – On this morning we said “Hasta la vista, baby” to one of the riders in our group who had to peel off and take a more direct route home to Oregon.

Beartooth Pass

On Beartooth Pass

The rest of the posse was heading to Wyoming’s highest paved primary road…the Beartooth Scenic Byway.

It’s on Highway 212 and runs about 70 miles south and then west from Red Lodge in Wyoming to Cooke City, in Montana. The online data states that the Beartooth Pass summit is at 10,947 feet although our GPS from the top was reading 10,957 feet.

Beartooth Pass

Riding Across The Top Of Beartooth Pass

It didn’t matter because it felt like we were on the top of the world and could see 100’s of miles!

It is an incredible road to ride a motorcycle on and although I’ve never been there, I believe it would compete with riding through the Swiss Alps for excitement.   The road is essentially in two parts – the lower section that rises as you head south out of Red Lodge and the upper part at the higher elevations.

Descending Beartooth Pass

Descending Beartooth Pass

The views on the way up are terrific and it is a difficult decision whether to continue riding or stop every ¼ mile and take pictures.  We did some of both, including GoPro’s mounted on the helmets to video record parts of the trip.  We met other riders along the road and they all had big smiles on their faces as if we had all found a long lost secret riding location.

Some parts of the upper section of Beartooth Pass had gusty winds that were inconsistent from bend-to-bend that required our attention and it was much colder at the higher altitude.  Nothing more than leather jackets, and the slopes were steep and the views were spectacular.  On top there was snow in the shadow parts of the mountain.

Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park

Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park

We made several photo stops on the way down as we headed toward the Northeast Entrance of Yellowstone Park.

In the summer this is a dramatic entrance with a rich diversity of landscape compared to other entrances to the park.  Traffic was very light and just after we entered the park at 7,365-feet altitude, we cut between the 10,928-foot Abiathar Peak and the 10,404-foot Barronette Peak.

Bison in Lamar Valley

Bison in Lamar Valley

Lamar Valley is home to large amounts of Bison, some of which we met on the road meandering along without a care in the world.  We exited the park at Gardiner where The Roosevelt Arch is located.  The top of the Roosevelt Arch is inscribed with “For the benefit and enjoyment of the people,” which is from the Organic Act of 1872, the enabling legislation for Yellowstone National Park.

The Roosevelt Arch

The Roosevelt Arch – Yellowstone National Park

We continued on to Bozeman, MT., and overnighted at the rather nice Best Western Plus Grantree Inn.  There was an upscale sports bar and restaurant in the hotel and we grab dinner there and chatted with some of the locals.

Bozeman to Shelby, MT – The next morning we fueled up early and motored north on US Route 86.  It’s also referred to as the Bridger Range Scenic Drive.

On US Route 86 - Bridger Range Scenic Drive

On US Route 86 – Bridger Range Scenic Drive

It’s about 40miles and intersects with Highway 89 north of the town of Wilsall.  The road follows the eastern flank of the Bridger Mountains.  Once the road enters the National Forest, the views are a bit more limited due to the thick forest, but there are still enough open areas to keep the drive interesting.  The Bridger Bowl ski resort is about 20min from Bozeman.

Smith Valley

Smith River Valley

There are no services along the route, but what an incredible scenic road!  If you ever get a chance ride this route do it.  The road is a nicely paved and provides excellent views of the mountains which dominated the view to the west.

We connected up with US Route 89 which is the “Backbone of the Rockies” and links seven National Parks across the Mountain West.  We rode through the The Smith River Valley.  Stopped for a late breakfast at the Branding Iron Café in White Sulphur Springs.

IMG_3393ADeparting White Sulphur Springs meant we were on the Kings Hill Scenic Byway as it winds through the Little Belt Mountains.  We passed through the Lewis and Clark National Forest and savored the rugged beauty.

As the scenery turn flat there were gravel roads that crisscrossed US Route 89 all the way to Great Falls.  It was hot with a lot of wind buffeting on this day and in Great Falls we stopped at Big Sky Harley-Davidson for a soda break and to look for a t-shirt.

Glacier National Park - Going The Sun Road

Glacier National Park – Going To The Sun Road

We departed and connected with I-15 north and headed toward Shelby.  Several miles up I-15 we stopped at the Mountain View Co-Op in Brady for fuel.  We ran into some old farmers there and spend a good deal of time chatting about various items from how loud the bikes were to the price of wheat.  It was almost like a TV show!

We arrived in Shelby and overnighted at the Comfort Inn.  It was an interesting hotel with part of it being on Indian reservation and had gambling in the lobby, but the rooms in the new section had just opened and they had friendly service.  We walked down the hill and ate dinner at the Ringside Ribs which was full of hungry truck drivers.

Riding the Going To The Sun Road - Glacier National Park

Riding the Going To The Sun Road – Glacier National Park

Shelby to Sandpoint, ID (via Going To The Sun Road and West Glacier) – We departed fairly early the next day and motored out on Highway 2 west bound.  We were headed for the “Going To The Sun Road” at St. Mary and east entrance of Glacier National Park.  We rode through Cut Bank then Browning and when refueling in St. Mary we took some time for refreshments.

If you’ve never driven a motorcycle on the Going-to-the-Sun Road it’s clearly one of the top 10 national park experiences.

Going To The Sun Road

Riding the Going To The Sun Road

There is significantly less traffic (shuttle buses and tourists) when traversing the park east to west and we didn’t have to contend with large crowds at any of the prime viewing pullouts.  The road offers a visual assortment of moutain views that anyone will enjoy.  It’s narrow in places, and in a constant state of repair due to the annual freeze-thaw cycle.

We didn’t pull off at the Logan Pass visitor center.

Lake

Lake McDonald

We’ve been down this road before and the visitor center crowds are not our gig.  The view of the Clements Mountain and the southern tip of the Garden Wall were terrific.  Many of the park visitors motor up the pass aboard a Red Jammer, one of Glacier’s renowned fire engine-red, open-air touring buses that debuted in 1937.  Supposedly they gained their nickname for the way drivers “jammed” their way through the gears.

"Glides" on the Going To The Sun Road

“Glides” on the Going To The Sun Road

We had GoPro camera’s running through much of our way down to West Glacier where it looks like time has stood still in this remote corner of Montana.  The log buildings have changed very little since they were built in 1938.  Any “inappropriate development” has been curtailed and the village has maintain its historic character.  There was a quick break at the village and we were making good time so we continued on to Kalispell.  We motored on and thought about stopping in Libby, but continued on to Bonners Ferry then connected with Highway 95 south for Sandpoint, ID.

Bonner's Ferry, ID

Bonner’s Ferry, ID

We had left the plains-induced sweat running down our backs for cooler temperatures and it was nice riding.  Although I have to admit that the cumulative riding over the previous 11 days had started to wear on me.   We were heading toward home at this point so the time to pull off and take photos were few.  We were really about getting through some miles.

It had been a 345 mile day through some slow going,  RV and tourist ridden roads, but we were in Sandpoint and checked into the La Quinta Inn before 6pm.

Sandpoint, ID at the La Quinta Inn

Sandpoint, ID at the La Quinta Inn

We showered and had refreshments at Connie’s.  We intended to eat at a Thai restaurant, but ran out of patience and instead had dinner at Connie’s.

Sandpoint to Portland – The next morning we were again up and on the road before 7:30am because we had a 430+ mile day and the forecast was searing heat.  We headed out of town and caught a glimpse of the city’s new downtown by-pass as we headed across the Sandpoint Long Bridge.  It was slow going on Highway 95 to Coeur d’Alene, but we pick up speed once we connected with I-90 and then Highway 395 through the Washington State farm land.  We pulled into the Country Travel Plaza for a fuel and refreshment stop as the heat of the day wore on.  We had a late lunch at C&D Drive In at Boardman and then rolled into Portland around 5pm.

After 400-miles the sun sets on the "Glide"

The sun sets on the end of the 4-Corners “Glide” adventure

It’s not often that you get to ride for the pure enjoyment of the open road and the excitement of what’s around the next curve.

We were on the road for 12-days, visited eleven states, made new friends, discovered a part of history and rumbled across 4000 miles of the U.S.  There were smells, wind gusts, moisture hungry lowland desert, tall pines and scented blooms along with blazing sun, searing heat, rugged landscape and mountain peaks that reached up and touched the clouds.  It was a most rewarding trip and riding the adventure with some classy motorcycle buddies was priceless!

That was the 4-Corner’s ride in August 2012.  It is now history forever saved on the internet!

This is multi-part blog post.  Part 1 – HERE and Part 2 – HERE.

Photos by author.

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4-Corners Route Map

4-Corners Route Map

It doesn’t get much better than a tour of America’s most famous roads aboard its most famous motorcycle.

To be clear,  this wasn’t the SCMA sanctioned ride to the four-corner cities in the U.S. (San Ysidro, CA; Blaine, WA; Madawaska, ME; and Key West, FL) in 21 days or less.  I’m talking about the 4-corners of Arizona/ Colorado/New Mexico/Utah which is a leisure trip in comparison.

Cruising Toward Boise

Cruising Toward Boise

I’m very late in posting a summary, but about 10-months ago, three of us set out for the mystical 4-corners.  It turned into a 4000-mile journey over a couple weeks that led us through Eastern Oregon, Southern Idaho, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota/Sturgis, Montana, Northern Idaho, Washington and then back to Oregon.

My view is that any motorcycle is better than a car, and not for the biker type reasons, it’s because you engage with the environment and the people in a far more intimate way. When it rains, you get wet, when the temperature drops, you get cold, and if those sound like reasons to take a car, then you just don’t understand – feeling the air and the weather rather than viewing it through a windshield or soaking in the experience of the environment instead of merely looking at it truly is the only way to go.

Boise Street Celebration

Boise Street Celebration

On this road trip, Moab, the Million Dollar Highway and Beartooth Pass were my most memorable highlights.   The road trip was much more than just a motorcycle ride.  We were exposed to multiple days of 100+ searing heat, dodged wildfires and rode through hail and torrential rain storms with “mud-flows” on Colorado’s Highway 110 where fishing gear seem appropriate!  Nothing we couldn’t handle and it all made for the adventure of touring by motorcycle.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Boise To Spanish Fork, UT

Boise To Spanish Fork, UT

The romance and history of the great American road trip is a powerful draw.  I’ve wanted to ride through Monument Valley since seeing an image in an American motorcycle magazine smuggled into an electronics amplifiers lecture in college: an abandoned gas stop, tumbleweed, a rusting Phillips fuel sign you could almost hear squeaking in the hot, dry breeze and, down the road, a post-war Ford tilted into a ditch, its sun-bleached side peppered with bullet holes.  Yeah, we all know the imagery; 20th century Americana, the open road, the songs, and the countless films – so, let’s jump into the actual ride:

Departing Spanish Fork, UT

Departing Spanish Fork, UT

Portland to Boise –  I’ve blogged ad nauseam about riding from Portland to Boise on various trips to Sturgis and won’t bore you by repeating the details.  We departed early and it was about getting some miles under our tires with I-84 being the fastest route east.  We overnighted in Boise where the perpetual street scene celebration seems to always be running.  We grabbed some dinner at the Reef “Tiki” Restaurant.

Cruising the CO. River

Cruising the Colorado River on Highway 128

Boise to Spanish Fork, UT –  We departed Boise fairly early and continued to roll on the freeway through semi-arid rolling hills.  We were not fully into the “tourist” mode until we stopped in Spanish Fork, UT outside Salt Lake City.  We did a quick stop at Timpango’s Harley-Davidson.  The 6-acre complex and building was the brainchild of Dave Tuomisto and was a great story.  It was a mega-dealer – almost a mini-museum – and part of Harley-Davidson’s growth strategy, but during the “Great Recession” fell on bad times and Joe Timmons purchased the dealer for pennies on the dollar.  It’s a unique complex and well worth a stop if you’re ever in the area.

Wide Open Skies

Highway 128 Heading Toward Moab

The most memorable item I recall from this part of the trip – I’m writing this post nearly a year later – was the incredible amount of road construction on I-15 in and around Salt Lake City.  It’s as if there was a mass-transit revolt by residents and the state decided to build enough lanes to accommodate traffic into the late 21st century.  There was no time for day dreaming as car’s cut us off and darted across multiple lanes.

At Arches National Park

At Arches National Park

Spanish Fork to Moab –  On this day the ride was all about mountains.  US-6 leads to Moab and Arches National Park and from the first mile we were climbing.  The grade was mild so the elevation stretched out for miles until we finally reached the summit at 7500 feet.  All the while peaks with short scrubby trees surrounded us.  US-6 between Spanish Fork and Price has the honor of being one of America’s most dangerous roads owning it to a mix of heavy trucks, RVs and cars traveling at freeway speeds through narrow canyons.  There were 519 fatal and serious accidents from 1996-2008.

Balancing Rock at Arches National Park

Balancing Rock at Arches National Park

The descent from the summit was much quicker though it didn’t seem all that steep and we ended up on I-70 at a Papa Joes Gas-n-Go station where we fill up the fuel tanks.  We headed east on I-70.   Most people will take Highway-191 at the Crescent Junction interchange into Moab.  There are over 8500 cars that travel this road daily.  We decided to take a less-traveled route that adds only a few miles and you come into Moab from the back side on Highway 128.

Parade of Elephants at Arches National Park

Parade of Elephants at Arches National Park

This spectacular 44-mile scenic byway meanders along the Colorado River and the lack of vehicles was a bonus. About halfway you pass a viewpoint of the red rock spires of the Fisher Towers which is set against the peaks of the La Sal Mountains.  It was an impressive scenic ride with the red sandstone walls rising up around us as we watched the colors of the sunset.  It was a day of searing heat and we headed to the Best Western Plus Greenwell Inn pool to cool down.  We had dinner at the Moab Brewery and reviewed the “tourist” plans for the next day.

4-Corners National Monument

4-Corners National Monument

Moab to Cortez, CO (with stop at 4-Corners Monument) – We awoke early to get a jump on the desert heat and rolled out of town in the cool morning toward the River Canyon.  The plan was to ride the loop in Arches National Park and do some tourist sightseeing early then rumble toward 4-corners.  There have been good books written about Arches and this simple post will not do it justice.

4-Corners National Monument Plaque

4-Corners National Monument Commemorative Plaque

We rode most of the 36-mile round trip scenic drive.  We rolled through the petrified sand dunes between “Courthouse Towers” and “The Windows.”  We stopped and walked around a bit at “Balanced Rock” and again at Elephant Butte near the “Parade of Elephants.”   Unfortunately we didn’t have the time or were we dressed appropriately to walk the 1.5mile hike into “Delicate Arch.”  We took a lot of photos and then exited the park.

Departed 4-Corners Monument Heading to Cortez

Departed 4-Corners Monument Heading to Cortez

We headed south on Highway 191 where the only sound was of the V-Twin rumbling off the canyon walls.  Horses nuzzled the rough cottonwoods by the riverbank and the red sandstone walls rose up around us again as we headed toward Monticello and Blanding.  I don’t exactly remember which route we took to Montezuma Creek – all roads looked similar – but we ended up in Teec Nos Pos, AZ and then connected to Highway 160 for the 4-corners monument.  We paid the fee to get into the park and walked around, did some shopping at the Indian vendor stands which wrap around the monument area.  It was cool to stand on the 4-corner disc and straddle the four states.

cortez-motelIt was getting late in the day and we really needed to find a town large enough to host a motel so we departed.  We headed north on Highway 160 and overnighted in Cortez, CO., at the Best Western Turquoise Inn & Suite.  It was another scorching day of heat so a quick dip in the pool was in order and then we headed to dinner to discuss the next day riding plans.

This is a multi-part post.  Part-2 continues HERE.

Photos taken by author.  Map courtesy of Apple.

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I previously blogged about how miserable, weather wise the rally was this year.  And Steve & Eric Folkestad tapped out.

Meaning they surrendered to the weather and the public outcry and decided to move the date of the annual event.

It’s a smart move given the weather over the last 3 years has prevented this rally from achieving its full potential.  The new dates for the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally are now July 12-15, 2013.  Mark your calendar because the Devil’s Tail with hundreds of curves, blue sky and t-shirt warm temps will be a spectacular view.

Speaking of the Devil’s Tail — it can easily lull you into a catatonic state-of-mind during the 20+ miles of curves and may let your attention drift off the road.  Don’t let it!

And speaking of attention span, during this years rally around 1:30 p.m. on Saturday June 9th, at milepost 17, on the Idaho Power Road leading to Hell’s Canyon Dam one person was killed and another injured after the two motorcyclists collided.  I was talking with a person (name withheld) later in the day  about the accident… as their group was the first to come up on the accident and it looked like a sport bike failed to stay in his lane and traveled left of the double yellow center line, where it collided with the other motorcycle.  Life Flight was called in, but John S. McCree, 68, of Port Orchard, Washington later died from his injuries.  According to law enforcement reports it didn’t appear that weather or alcohol was a factor in this crash.  This same group also came up on a sport bike accident a couple hours later on that same road.

The above motorcycle accident along with the one on Highway 7 which occurred just 11 days earlier make this one of the deadliest starts to the “summer” riding season for the Baker City area.  My thoughts and prayers are with the McCree, Mohrland, and the Currey families.

Photos taken by author

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PORTLAND to BOISE – The outbound ride route was about getting miles under our tires as we looked for the fastest and most direct route (I-84) to Boise, ID.

The day started off with a heavy coastal cloud layer, but the futher we rode through the gorge the sunny weather was clearly present in the distant east.  By mid-morning the clouds burned off and as we rode up the gorge we stopped at a rest area prior to Boardman and met up with another group of riders/friends who were taking the northern route to the rally.

We continued on along a more southern route and headed toward Pendleton and over the Blue Mountains of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.  The crest of the range sits at 4193 feet just prior to La Grande and then we dropped down into the southeastern flank of the range and Baker City, home of the Hells Canyon Rally.

We arrived in Idaho, the coast-less, semi-arid, mountainous state to near triple digit temps and stopped at a rest area where the Snake River meandered along the interstate to cool off.  We made our way into the downtown Hampton Inn having to navigate around road blocks for a 3-on-3 basketball street tournament running over the weekend.

As a side-bar, the Hampton Inn experience (price/quality/service) was the best we experienced on the entire trip.  Major shout-out to Phil Cordell (GM) and team!

"The Posse"

We needed something to do and luckily for the group it was Friday night!  We grabbed some “Boise Caviar” (at: Bar Gernika) i.e. some spicy lamb grinder and a drink mixture of cola and red wine.  No thanks, I stuck to a local hops.

Bar Gernika is a dark little corner joint, but a fav for Basque food.  Some in the posse decided to doubled down on the croquetas and ask for extra spice because let’s face it – is there any better drunk food than spicy lamb?!  The joint had a sidewalk patio and was in close proximity to “Alive After Five” and the “cougar” deck at the Reef “Tiki” Restaurant where we finished off the evening.

BOISE to IDAHO FALLS – We departed Boise fairly early and continued our route to the “Craters of the Moon National Monument.”   About an hour outside of Boise we headed east on Hwy 20 and traveled through the semi-arid rolling hills landscape.  About 18 miles from Arco, ID on Hwy 20/26/93 is the National Monument and we pulled into the visitor center to cool off.  Even though we were at 5900 feet, the temperature remained in the 90’s.  The Craters of the Moon is a geologic wonder.  It’s a preserved volcanic landscape with craters, cinder coves, lava tubes and large fields on the Snake River plain.  It’s quite the contrast in colors.

Craters of the Moon

After leaving the monument we continue east toward Arco and rode through part of the nearly 1000 sq mile Idaho National Laboratory (INL) complex located in the high-desert.  For as far as the eye can see (~20 miles) there was nothing but sage brush and then a small industrial complex comes into view. INL manufactures highly radioactive plutonium-238 for classified national security purposes.

According to the reports there have been more than 50 one-of-a-kind nuclear reactors built at the INL facility yet all but three are shut down now.

"Middle Butte"

More important from a tourist viewpoint is that we passed by the now famous EBR-1 (Experimental Breeder Reactor) which first produced electricity back in 1951 and was the design test-bed for a nuclear military.  It’s on public display.

We continued heading east on Hwy 20/26/93 and rolled past “Middle Butte” which is this large cinder cone shaped mountain in the high-desert with every conceivable antenna tower on the flat top to broadcast or capture an electronic signal.  Undoubtedly it provides the 4000+ workers at INL cell phone coverage so they can check their email.

Idaho Falls

Evidently AT&T has yet to learn about this mountain as I had no service.

Finally after some road construction delay’s we arrived literally at Idaho Falls and the Best Western hotel.  Dinner was great at the Brownstone Restaurant and by moonlight and a small flashlight we made some late night foot peg adjustments before calling it a day.

IDAHO FALLS to CODY —

Grand Teton National Park

(via southern Yellowstone National Park entrance) – This day took us through northwestern Wyoming, via Jackson Hole and the Grand Teton National Park.  We were most fortunate to have sunny weather to view a spectacular landscape rich with majestic mountains and blue clear lakes.

The jagged Teton Range provides an incredible contrast to the sage-covered valley which Hwy 191 runs through on our way north to Yellowstone.

The Teton's

Yellowstone National Park is always inspiring with waterfalls, Lodgepole pine and the thermal areas. The south road entrance passes the Continental Divide three times and the route passes five geyser basins.  We drove by Lewis Lake and over Craig Pass (8262 ft) and then west to Old Faithful.  It’s the world’s best known geyser and erupts at intervals from 40 to 120 minutes.

We watch it do its thing and back tracked toward the East entrance through Lake Village and the Fishing Bridge where we were rewarded with panorama views of Yellowstone Lake.

Lewis Lake - Yellowstone

The lake is North Americas largest mountain lake at 20 miles long, 14 miles wide and 430 ft deep with average August surface temp of 60 degrees.

We traveled around what seemed like the entire lake then progressed over Sylvan Pass (8530 ft) and finished out the riding day with about 50 miles to Cody, WY.

The last hour of this route took us on the Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway which is a two-lane road in the rugged canyon carved by the North Fork of Shoshone River.

Buffalo Bill Reservoir - Cody, WY

Just prior to arriving in Cody are a couple of interesting tunnels and the Buffalo Bill Reservoir which provides recreational activity for locals as well as some limited hydropower from the dam.

With the sun setting behind us the scene made for some great photo’s.

CODY to STURGIS/LEAD – It was our 4th day of adventure and Cody is a transition point between the forested mountains of northwest Wyoming and the plains of the Bighorn Basin.

At Shell Falls Trail

There is spectacular scenery in all directions from Cody, the Beartooth Mountains to the north, the Absaroka Range to the west and Wapiti Valley to the south.  Our posse headed east on Hwy 20 to Greybull and picked up Hwy 14 which traverses the Bighorn National Forest.

We all have our favorite roads and one that I really like riding is the Bighorn Scenic Byway (US 14) which connects the cities of Greybull and Sheridan and includes 45 miles of scenic mountain driving.

Posse rolling across SD Plains

Within the National Forest area, you’ll encounter grass prairies, evergreen forests, mountain meadows, rugged alpine peaks, dramatic canyons, arid desert lands and cascading waterfalls — all within a couple hours journey.  The Cloud Peak Wilderness area, is quite unique and diverse.  I’d like to spend more time exploring the area rather than quickly rolling through on a motorcycle.

The Deadwood Cabin

We connected onto I-90 and headed east toward Sturgis.  Although the interstate is fast it’s somewhat of a boring ride until you get near Spearfish and the US 85 junction which routes riders south into Deadwood/Lead.  We had a cabin south of Lead, located near Recreational Springs.   Although it was a bit of drive into Sturgis it turned out to be a really sweet setup!

70th Sturgis Rally Travelogue – Part 2 HERE.

Photos taken along the route.

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