I was up and showered by 6:00. I found a local breakfast restaurant called Brunch and went there to finish yesterday’s blog post and have breakfast. The Scallops Benedict was good, as was the coffee.
Using the Wi-Fi there I finished my post then went for a walk past the Pabst Theater where in 1976, the company I worked for, had me running the installation of renovated seating from the late 1800’s. That job was a long time ago.
There was a pub across the street from the Pabst job, you entered it from the alley it was called the Safehouse, this was the 70’s and the time of 007. I took a picture for old time sake. When you walked through the door you went through a series of challenges to enter the Safehouse. Very 007.
I walked back to the hotel at about 10:00 and found Bill having breakfast after he had used the workout room. He commented on the fact that it was going to take some work to get in shape after this ride.
We packed up, loaded the bikes and headed to the ferry, a short 3 minute ride from downtown. We got in line and were soon staged for loading when the ferry got there. After Labor day the Motorcycles travel free. All we had to do was pay for our passage, about $98.00 each. It was another beautiful day and we thought it would be a nice trip.
We loaded, strapped our bikes down and went up top to find a place to plant ourselves and await our departure. When under way we discovered 4 to 6 foot waves coming out of the South. A few people had and odd pale look to them during the trip. Once we were into Muskegon we were almost first ones off the boat.
We headed straight home and Bill followed me to the house to drop off some things before heading home. Pauline was waiting and took pictures of our arrival. We were home.
Now the unloading, unpacking, cleaning and maintenance begin. We traveled over 11,400 miles with few troubles and we only encountered rain on 2 days. One day it rained for an hour and another day it rained lightly on and off for the better part of the day. We were lucky. A fantastic trip.
I may not post everyday but will add things as I feel appropriate.
We left Carroll Iowa at 8:30 on another brilliant day with a mid 60’s temperature to start the ride. Still on the Lincoln Highway US 30 we continued East through the gently rolling farm country that is dominated by corn.
We passed ethanol plants reminding me of the sad and costly fleecing we are taking with this crazy requirement for this product to be added to our fuel. The joke is on us, we put up with it.
Our first stop of the day was about 30 miles West of Cedar Rapids. While I was on the phone arguing with Sirius radio Bill went to move his bike from in front of the pumps. During this process Bills helmet started to fall off the back of his bike. When he reached around to try and prevent it from falling he lost the bike’s balance and over it went. I helped Bill right the bike and after that listened to a profanity laced assessment of the damage. We’ve made it 42 days on the road without an incident till now.
After passing Cedar Rapids we turned North on US 151 with our next stop being Anamosa, Iowa and the National Motorcycle Museum. We were in for $10.00 and spent an hour looking at bikes old and new from all over the world. They had many custom bikes and some bikes that were used in racing and in record attempts on the salt flats. We could have spent many more hours inspecting the hundreds of cycles but we needed to press on to Milwaukee.
We stayed on US 151 until Madison, then feeling we were short of time we got on I 94 to finish our ride into Milwaukee. We had reservations at the Hilton Gardens Inn downtown. Parking out front we unloaded our bikes and checked in. With my Hilton Honors card we were upgraded and ended up in a suite with a living room and ceilings that I estimated at 13′. Living large again.
After settling in we went across the street to The Swinging Door Exchange to have a bite and a beer. We shared two appetizers had an IPA and talked with the locals. Devious Bill propelled us in the wrong direction with a whiskey order, Bourbon for Bill, Rye for me.
The Sunday night game was on we were talking to some locals and to the bartender when in walked a group of girls having a bachelorette party. It seemed strange to me, 9-11 and a Sunday night for a wedding in October, but they were having a great time. I was taking pictures when the girls behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said can you turn that around an take a selfie with us in it. I made the sacrifice and took the picture.
We somehow came to the conclusion that we should take the trip across the street to the hotel. Devious Bill led us to the bar in the hotel for a nightcap that we desperately needed, then off to our room and the discovery of a cheese plate, a bucket of beer on ice and a note from the desk clerk I had a discussion with upon our arrival. We needed beer and food. In the morning the plate had the lettuce on it and I was surprised that was left.
Monday we get on the ferry for our final day of travel.
During this trip we discover we have a discrepancy in our mileage readings. Bills reads 500 miles less then mine after 10,000 miles. Bill claims my bike is wrong and its a Harley problem. I tell him the same person that sized the radiators for his bike that occasionally overheats must have been tasked with building the odometer and he screwed that up too.
I don’t tell Bill that I used the mile markers to check my odometer and that after exactly the 20 mile marker my odometer turned 21 miles. I’m 5% off, Bill’s is right, but I refuse to admit it. Devious Bill has done something, I know it, he can’t be trusted.
We were off to a slow start today on a clear beautiful 60 deg. day. It was East again to Hastings and then North to Grand Island, NE. At Grand Island we got on US 30, the Lincoln Highway, for almost the last leg of our journey.
We continued on the Lincon Highway to Columbus NE where we stopped for a chip at Harley Davidson of Columbus. Marilyn, the owners wife, greeted us. After finding out we were on our way back from Alaska she called her husband over to meet us. He had completed a trip 2 years before and we again traded stories of our experiences. Marilyn, after finding out that I collect the Harley dealer poker chips, came up with a couple of dealer meeting chips for me. Great and friendly people like you almost always find at the dealerships I’ve visited.
We soon crossed into Iowa and were enjoying the ride through the plains and rolling farm land when we started to consider where to stop for the night. After going through the town of Carroll, Iowa, we were on the East side of town when we saw another Harley dealer, Carroll Cycle Center.
There was a group of riders in front of the dealership all talking out front. We pulled in, stopped and the dealership owner’s wife came over to greet us. Because of the nice weather they were having a hog club meeting out front and asked what we were up to and where we had been riding. The dealership was closed but when I mentioned I would like a Poker chip she opened the doors and let us in. Again, a Harley dealership owned by great people.
There was a motel just to the West of the dealership and after getting the scoop on which of the two sportsbars by the motels was better, we checked in and walked over for a meal. The Iowa, Iowa State was on and as can be expected in a spots bar, there was lots of interest in the game. We finished our meal and retired early. Devious Bill had hurt us the night before.
On to Milwaukee tomorrow, then Monday we catch the ferry to Muskegon.
I was up early and went for a walk through the park in the hills to the west of the Rich’s house. The park is the William F Hayden Green Mountain Park. There is a nice trail along the hillside with views of the city of Denver. Rabbits were everywhere and I’d been warned to watch for rattlesnakes, I didn’t see any.
We had breakfast with Bill’s cousin and after goodbyes hit the road. It was 9:30 and in the 60’s when we left. We chose the expressway to get us out of town as fast as possible.
As we headed East on I 70 we stopped at Mile High Harley for a chip and talked with Paul Johnson. He took the time to discuss engine changes on the new 8 valve engine. Paul was knowledgeable about the changes to the new engines and all things Harley.
After the stop we were on our way East again. We exited I 70 and took US 36 to Kansas.
Shorty after entering Kansas we stopped for fuel in the town of St. Francis. On the way in we saw a sign for a motorcycle museum in town. After fueling up we decided to go and have a look. On mainstreet in the middle of town was the museum. Bill and I went in and were pleasingly surprised by this collection. Many old Harleys and Indians, but they also had many rare bikes from the early part of the century. Names like Pope, Jefferson, Flying Merkal, Flanders and Orient. The Orient is one of only two known to exist. The Jefferson was made in Jefferson, WI, 5 miles from where my mother grew up.
We had to leave, so we said goodby to Bruce the volunteer that was working at the museum and who had greeted us on the way in.
East again on US 36 to SR 116 and North into Nebraska where we turned East on US 34 to Mc. Cook. We took a room at the Days Inn which was located near a resturant called the Coppermill Steakhouse.
After settling into our room we walked over to the restaurant for dinner. We sat at the bar and had a drink and talked with locals before ordering dinner. I found a Salmon appetizer that filled my need not too order to much. Bill had a salad with grilled chicken.
We met another guy who came to the bar to eat and we had drinks with him after dinner. Devious Bill lead me astray as we went out on the deck overlooking the golf course and had cocktails with our new friend Justin Hamlin (I hope I have his first name right). Sitting around a gas fire pit, like the ones on the roof of the Alex Johnson, and enjoying the conversation with our cocktails was great.
Our new friend has a musician/songwriter son in Nashville that was picked during the CMA awards show as a person to watch. His name is Easton Hamlin. If your interested his website is. Easton Hamlin.com
This morning Bill called his cousin Rich in Denver and we made plans to go to his house for the night. We fueled and started East on US 40 with our first stop of the day being the Rocky Mountains National Park.
The trip to the top with a top elevation of over 12,000 feet was great. When we got to the top we walked up a walkway for about a 1/2 mile up a walkway to the top. You breath a little harder at 12,000 feet. The altimeter on my cycle maxed out after 9999 feet and switched to miles. We were up 2.3 miles at the peak.
Bill claims to have lost his hearing aids, I’ve come to the conclusion that he has hidden them because he is tired of listening to me. I now have to yell all the time for him to hear me. When in restaurants or stores people think I’m angry with him because because I am always yelling. Bill just smiles and knods his head. I know he is getting back at me for feeding him all my extra food during meals thats helping with his weight gain. I on the other hand have a sore throut and am horse requiring throat lozengers. Bill is devious. I get back at him by moving my lips when he is trying to listen and not saying anything.
On this bright clear 54 degree day, we started out with a 52 mile stint on I 70; not the way we like to begin. At exit 91 we got off and headed north on SR 10. This road was nearly deserted and again went through a variety of terrain.
We came accross another rural art collection. Aliens and spaceships seem popular in the West.
We continued to Vernal where we fueled and started North on US 191, again starting out driving up a canyon and transitioning to wider valley. Except for the construction it was a nice ride.
We connected with US 40 at the town of Vernal and turned East for the final leg to Steamboat. Dinosaur national monument was the next stop. By the time we arrived there we were too late to take the long ride into the excavation area so we visited the information center and then we continued to Steamboat.
We arrive in Steamboat at about 5:00 and checked into a motel called The Nordic Lodge. It was owned by a couple that immigrated from Germany. He is Polish, she is German, very nice people.
As we checked in, we met a group of 4 riders that flew in from eastern Pennsylvania and Western Jersey area. They rented bikes in Denver and were on a week long ride out here. This was the first day of their ride. One had rented a KTM 1290 Adventure, the other 3 were on Harley Street Glides.
We swapped lies and had some laughs before walking up the street to a local brewery where we joined them for dinner.
All of us continued to discuss our travel plans, the weather forcasts, always important for rides, and what we did in life. Great people to meet and good conversation.
Devious Bill (my Trump name for Bill) talked me into a nightcap at a small local establishment right next to the motel. We sat down at the bar and I looked at the whiskey choices we had before us. I noticed the they had the same Rye I had paid $32.00 a shot for in Mammoth, it was $9.00 a shot here. I got seriously fleeced in Mammoth.
We had a good conversation with the bartender and a local named Hans who owned a local design and house building business for upscale housing in Steamboat. The manager Michael came over and got in the conversation with us and bought a round. Another great time with locals.
We will be going East to Estes Park, then East on US 34 to Loveland, then out to the plains.
An addendum to yesterdays post. I forgot to mention as Bill and I were traveling in the dark and down a canyon hill heading into Caliente I almost hit a Coyote. At 65 mph this would be no fun. This is the second big animal I almost hit. The last being a bear in the Yukon.
Another animal concern has been the cattle herds we drive through on some of these roads. With open range and no fences the cattle stand on the roads, next to the road and most times on both sides. We slow down as we pass just in case.
Onto the current post.
We got a slow start today. It was in the 60’s when we got left at 10:00. The ride to Bryce Canyon took us through a variety of terrain. We started out in valley farm land and transitioned to high desert on the way to Cedar City. We drove through an area of scrub pines that covered the entire area.
After about an hour we crossed into Utah and passed through a large area of high desert farm land. The lower areas were irrigated and growing alfalfa. We were traveling all morning at about 5600 feet.
After fueling up in Cedar City we headed West on SR 14 and were treated to a canyon that provided spectacular viewing as we rode through it. The road climbed to almost 10,000 feet and ended up on a high plateau. We rode on top for many miles past volcanic lakes and fields of broken up lava.
We decended down the other side of the plateau to US 89 and headed North to Bryce.
We went thru the Red Canyon on SR 12 on the way to the park.
We entered the park and stopped at the arch-over first.
We continued to the end of the park road and the highest area of the park.
We rode out of the park and continued straight North on the John’s Pass Road. There was no traffic as we traveled through this wide valley. As has happened before in some of these vallys we started down into a small canyon that got deeper and wider. It’s hard to explain how remote some of the areas we’re traveling thru now and on past days really are.
We went the 12 miles to US 89 due to gas and motel concerns. We ended up running about 15 miles on Interstate 70; something we try to avoid like the plague.
Our stop for the night was at Richfield, Utah. Next stop is Steamboat Spings, Colorado. We can check out the ski area and hopefully get a cheap off-season room. This is going to be fun, riding a new area of the Rockies and visiting A ski area we’ve never been to.
It was 34 degrees when I got moving this morning at 6:00am. The sun was starting to come up and lit up the eastern face of the mountains on this perfectly clear day.
The restaurant across the street opened at 6:30 and had a line out the door by 7:00. The breakfast that came with our lodging was not bad. I had a Bagel with cream cheese, salmon and onion.
Bill and I took our bikes to the car wash to blow the dirt out of his radiators to see if we could correct his overheating problem. I just wanted to get the first layer of crud and dust off of mine.
We filled up with gas and headed up to the ski lodge at Mammoth Mountain. The lifts were running and taking mountain bikers up to the top to ride down. It was in the 40’s and it’s surprising how little the temperature affects you at 8700 feet. You also realize that in the thinner air you breathe harder to get the oxygen you need.
We left the lodge and went up the mountain to go to Devils Pilepost National Park. When we got to the gate we found out that they no longer allowed you to drive up and that if we wanted to see it we would have to park back at the lodge and take a bus. Next to the gate there was the Minaret Vista overlook so we pulled in for pictures.
We went back to town and took a ride around the perimeter and then headed for the hotcreek. There was a good number of people at the hotcreek all disobeying the rules. Instead of pointing out their error in not abiding by the rules we just joined them. They were not in the best spot anyway.
We left the hotcreek heading West on the gravel road we came in on. After about 5 miles of gravel road and some exciting riding in loose gravel we were on the Benton Crossing Road. This road took us East over the mountains and the start of our way home. The terrain and what we saw seemed to constantly change. It’s difficult to explain all the changes we would see today. Here are a few pictures we took as we started East.
At Benton we got on US 6 and drove into Nevada.
We were heading towards the town of Tonopah, NV. and as we approched there was a brilliant shining light in front of us. We approched it for miles and as we passed to the South of it heading into Tonopah we still didn’t know what it was. I guessed it was a solar project, I had no idea. It turned out to be the Cresent Dunes Solar Energy Project. Something I had never heard of and as we found out, it cost 750 million dollars to build and uses a molten salt process I know nothing about, for energy storage. It produces enough energy to power 75,000 homes. I do know it was a bright object in the middle of a sunny day. Don’t ask me why we didn’t take a picture. Mesmorized by its sight I guess.
We fueled in Tonopah and continued East on US 6. Outside of town we passed a sign that said 166 miles to the next fuel stop. The land was wide open again.
Our next turn was onto the Extraterrestrial Highway. We just stop in the road when we feel like it, traffic is not a problem.
We came into an area where trees grew that I had never seen. It was strange to me because they started abruptly and went for miles.
Durring our trip down the Extraterrestrial Highway, SR 375, we passed through the town of Rachel. I wish we had stopped and talked to the people at the only business in town, the Little A’Le’Inn. There were people outside the place standing under a saucer shaped sun shade and a tow truck in front with a spaceship hanging on the hook in the back. I’m sure good stories were to be had with a stop there.
As we continued in area 51 there were few signs of civilization. The place in the pictures below was on the Extraterrestrial Highway West of its intersection with US93.
US 93 would take us to our motel. It was getting dark and we had to get to Caliente, NV for the night.
Tomorrow we are off to Bryce Canyon National Park, then we angle northeast.
By the way we’re getting rid of these aliens too. The first hour of the first day, guaranteed!
We packed up and after a breakfast at the hotel started out for Lake Tahoe. The first thing we noticed was the roads were busy. We were going to go by Squaw Valley and drove in to take a look. I’ve been there skiing many years ago and all over the Tahoe basin. Bill was taking in all that is new to him.
As we approached the lake the traffic increased and slowed down. We creeped along the West shore of the lake on the Emerald Cove Road and stopped for pictures once. With traffic you could barely get off and on the road.
As we approached the Emerald Bay area traffic almost stopped. We crawled around the bay until we were at the southern viewing area. I’ve been there in the winter while skiing and there was little traffic, this was nuts. We took pictures and headed out.
We headed around the lake to South Lake Tahoe and our way out of this madhouse onto Kingsbury Grade Road and the openness of the Carson Valley.
Bill’s bike started with its overheating problem again while enroute to the Kingsbury Grade Road, but once over it stayed cool.
We took pictures on the way down 4000 feet to the Carson Valley. One of the pictures was a long distance photo of a place Pauline and I had stayed at. I have a picture of Pauline in the hot tube on the roof of the building with a rainbow over her. She is sitting at 8000 feet and the Carson Valley is 4000 feet down. It was over 20 years ago and still a strong and great memory.
We continued into the valley and took 207 South to 88 and back into the mountains and Monitor Pass Road.
Back on US 395 we headed South to Mono Lake, a large salt lake on the East side of the Sierras. I believe I read it was 10 times more salty then the Great Salt Lake and the water is down over 70 feet since starting to divert water away to LA.
We continued South to the June Lake loop and took the scenic ride on it.
We arrived in Mammoth and went to the Shill Inn where we stayed many years ago. No luck. We checked almost all the hotels in Mammoth with no luck. I had only 2 left to call out of 14 when I found a room; lucked out again. I thought we were going to have to go back 18 miles to June Lake where I had seen a vacancy sign.
We walked to the closest eatery to the hotel, a bar and grill called of all things, The Mammoth Tavern. I had the Ahi Tuna and Bill the turkey sandwich. After we ate we watched football and decided to have a whiskey on the rocks. I ordered an interesting rye I’d never seen before, Bill ordered a Pendleton. When we finished our whiskey the game had’nt ended so we ordered another. Bill ordered the same thing, I changed it up and ordered a different rye I had never had. Maybe I should have asked the price. My first rye was $32.00 and the second $22.00. I’ll ask from now on, another of many expensive lessons for Richie Jones.
We left Diamond Lake after breakfast on a clear and cold morning. It was in the upper 30’s when we pulled out. We had an 8 mile ride to the park entrance and 13 more miles to the first viewing area.
After showing our park passes we drove into the park and soon were in a Pumice Desert. A strange landscape for sure.
Our first viewings of Crater Lake are shown below and we were blown away with the view of the lake from here and the other three places we stopped.
Time to leave this area and move on. The road took us down to the high desert or plains area with ranches and many hay farms. We were still on the Volcanic Trail and enjoying the changing scenery.
We entered California and the terrain became more hilly and forested. We passed many dry lakes and few people.
We ended up in Susanville, CA and decided to go on to Truckee, CA. We arrived in Truckee at 5:30 and started looking for a room. It’s Saturday, Labor Day weekend and the town is packed, but we luck out and find a place to park.
We get on my phone and start looking and it doesn’t look good. I see an old hotel about a half a block away and call it. No answer, I call again, no answer. We walk down to the hotel on the chance there may still be a room. We walk into a busy lobby, the phone was ringing off the hook and the woman at the desk was ignoring it and checking in guests. I waited until she was done and asked if there were any rooms. She said no then stopped and said oh yes, I just had a cancellation. She had a two bed room on the 3’rd floor facing South toward the train tracks. I said we we’ll take it. She said would you like to see it. No, we’ll take it. Two couples came in behind us an asked for rooms. We lucked out in a resort town, Saturday night of Labor Day weekend in California.
The bathrooms and showers were in rooms down the hall but proved no problem.
Tomorrow we are off to Lake Tahoe and the Mamoth Lakes.
Saw no evidence of a Moose problem here at Truckee as I blog in this 34 deg. morning. Many different languages being spoken here as we eat and blog this morning. No compulsion to get’em outa here.
Tomorrow we go to a Black church. Think it will help our cause.
Two Corinthians went to a bar and we decided to join them.