Author Topic: Kinda Death Valley, Almost Naked  (Read 24951 times)

Offline angelo

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Kinda Death Valley, Almost Naked
« on: July 04, 2015, 08:43:10 pm »
Last fall when first thinking about this trip, I traded out the C10 Connie for a Honda 919.  No problems, Death Valley naked.  Fun bike.  Enough motor and lighter than I am used to.  Wolfman bag and top box, all good.




On a short ride this Spring, we discovered my wife doesn’t mind me being naked; she just doesn’t want to be naked with me.  In the late 80s and 90s, she was happy to be naked with me.  Now, not so much.   Nothing personal, just not a great two up bike for two folks closing in on 50, so we had to find a bike she could enjoy on the occasional rides we take together.  A week and a half before leaving, we wound up with this.




What better way to get to know a bike than with a 4k mile trip, right?  Change all the fluids, slap on a new rear tire and let’s go!  Determined to get to Death Valley, in July, on a bike I’ve had for 10 days.  What could possibly go wrong?

The picture above is from a free campground in St Francis KS.  I first visited there in 1987, met an old man there, and wrote this: http://leroylanes.blogspot.com/p/old-man-in-st-francis.html   Northern IL to St Francis turned out to be 800 miles on this day.  Left dark and early.




Rode and rode and rode, decent lunch stop and few others.  Eventually got off the super slab and by sun’s light setting gold, came across some Great Plains views of Nebraska and Kansas.




Free camping in St Francis is a great option and the park is still well maintained.  Long ass ride to start a trip, but at least now only a few hours from big mountains.  Midwest is in the mirrors.  Great Plains are vast and open and very different from home.  Bigger sky, smaller towns.  Talk slower, listen longer.

Daybreak on the Plains.




Kansas melts into Colorado range country and little changes other than the signs.  Next thing you know, a little traffic through the springs, there it is, off in the distance. 




Rocky Mountain altitude high.  And some of the best sporting roads of the trip where here in the great state of Colarada.




A turn off said no trucks or RV’s.  How can you pass on that?




And then a lot of this.




Honestly, could have taken a lot more pics, but the riding felt too good to stop.  You know how it is. 




So, for someone from a different state, all this talk about Colorado’s recent decision, of course, makes one curious.  And there, in tiny little Salida, CO, I saw it.  Needed a pic.  Tourism, don’t ya know.




Throughout the trip, there were great, even paced conversations at nearly every stop.  Lunch in Salida turned out to be a group table with two sets of travelers.  Great discussions and insights.  Had nothing to do with the local dispensary ;-)

Reservoir outside Gunnison.  Big water and big views. 




More good conversation and cold pop inside.  Awesome paint.




50 leads into a nice spur off onto 92.  Never on this road before and well worth the detour.  Decent sightlines, great pavement, and very little traffic.  Eventually, some time on the Million Dollar Highway.  Decided to take a fortunate change of route at Ridgeway.




Great smooth roads.  And, of course, the views.




That led into what I think is called Red Canyon.  62 to 145.  Never been here before - oh my.  This is likely the best sport riding of the trip.




I’ve been through Colorado a lot, but mostly to the north.  And, will be there again in a few days.  But, no doubt, really enjoyed this route.  Some places I haven’t been to in 30 years.  Some, never.  Nearing the border, Utah lies ahead, the southern canyons, 95,  and the beauty they bring...

Offline fartymarty

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Re: Kinda Death Valley, Almost Naked
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2015, 10:09:52 pm »
 
What better way to get to know a bike than with a 4k mile trip, right?  Change all the fluids, slap on a new rear tire and let’s go!  Determined to get to Death Valley, in July, on a bike I’ve had for 10 days.  What could possibly go wrong?

I hope it doesn't happen, but with the above lead in...I'm waiting to hear the other shoe drop.


More good conversation and cold pop inside.
  POP..yep, definitely northern Illinois. Funny thing is, after you leave N Ill. they'll refer to it as soda until you get to Utah, then they start calling it pop again. There's a linguistic tale there I'm sure, perhaps Brian will tell us about it in the thread about nothing at all.

..but anyway, very nice photos and story Ang', keep it up (and my fingers are crossed that nothing goes wrong)!


Offline Conrad

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Re: Kinda Death Valley, Almost Naked
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2015, 08:55:12 am »
 :thumbs:
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Offline Pilgrim

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Re: Kinda Death Valley, Almost Naked
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2015, 03:26:14 pm »

Nice job.  Did you keep the 919?

Offline Stasch

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Re: Kinda Death Valley, Almost Naked
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2015, 04:11:55 pm »
I call being in places like that (like at the national in Cortez) 'scenery ADD'.

Look at that, no look at that, wow look at that, watch the road there's a 1200' drop off right there, wow look at that.

It just doesn't stop.  Incredible.
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Offline Arata

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Re: Kinda Death Valley, Almost Naked
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2015, 11:34:30 am »
How full was that lake?

It's been really low the last few years!  Really low!!!!!
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Offline angelo

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Re: Kinda Death Valley, Almost Naked
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2015, 04:03:27 pm »
Thanks guys.  Yes, my wife is from Connecticut, so I throw in a pop once in a while to keep her attention.  ;)
The 919 is gone.  One bike at a time stage of life.  Clearly, 2 (actually 3 or 4) would be a good number.
The lake is actually quite good.  Several people mentioned how the level are normal or nearly so. 

Offline angelo

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Re: Kinda Death Valley, Almost Naked
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2015, 04:18:47 pm »
“Well Brigham kicked a prairie dog, and he muttered in his beard…”
“Where it’s so easy keeping straight…”

Sunday in many Utah towns is a pretty quiet time.  Here at Blanding was final chance for gas as far as I knew for 125 miles.  Fill it up, some down time in the shade drinking a soda, and some cool old structures.  Streets empty, parking lots of the churches full.  One of the joys of travel is to feel far from home with the wind blowing cool in the shade. 




And so the road leads to indigenous lands and some incredible scenes.  Certainly ride and enjoy 95, but also know that this year’s fresh tar snakes, when heating in the sun at 90 plus degrees will certainly swallow up that front tire in a very real attempt to throw you from your steed.  Twice.




Slow is better anyway here.  Usually, I drive my family nuts stopping for pictures.  Here on 95 I was doing it to myself.  Vista after vista.  Amazing after amazing.






Butler Wash ruins are quite a site.  As are these a little further. 




And another reason to stop.




And another.




Brochure shot for Maw Kaw.




Really, can you stop for pics any more?








More signs from past times.




Eventually, the road shows yet more faces of Utah.  See the soaring bird?






Had never been to Zion before.  Wondered if it was worth paying a toll just to ride through.  Wow.  Really need to get back here and spend some real time.




Forget sport riding.




This is all about going slow and gawking.





As the sun was going down cooling the hot rock land with softening light, I had my wife back home priceline me a hotel room for the next night in Pahrump.  Camping with Calf Creek laying down a perfect soundtrack for sleep, the moon rose with Venus and Jupiter shining bright.  I knew a hot ride through Nevada would end in air conditioning and a real bed before waking early for Death Valley...

Offline rhhall

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Re: Kinda Death Valley, Almost Naked
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2015, 05:06:20 pm »
Nice!!!
rick
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Offline angelo

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Re: Kinda Death Valley, Almost Naked
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2015, 02:14:57 pm »
So I am fortunate to have a job I love, enough vacation time, and an understanding wife.  Can pretty much go anywhere in the US I can afford -- as long as it is in July.  Jump on the interstate heading towards Vegas.  Have to say, for a super slab, there is a pretty awesome stretch in Arizona.  Even got a little disoriented with the elevation / cliffs / mountains / heat.  Wish I had some pics from there.

Then began the never ending march towards Vegas.  It was HOT.  At one point, I was going something like 50 miles then stop for water, reload the cooling collar, and get back on.  Another 50 or 60.  Stop again.  Full sun, full heat, even took off the jacket and rode no-gatt.  Would love to see the Valley of Fire, but that wasn’t happening this time.  

110 ish degrees. For the first time, I notice the heat pouring painfully out of the bike.  While many say this bike is too hot, it felt about as shin burning uncomfortable as my old C10 did when Idaho surprised with 109 degrees one day two years ago.  

Had to exit at Vegas and least take a quick look.  Got a few pics - all sucked.  Couldn’t handle sitting at the forever stop lights, so eventually make an illegal u-turn, hope CSI didn't see, and get the heck out.




Finally, the temps started dropping into the 90’s as the elevation changed.   Pahrump around 4PM, quick errands, drive by Art Bell’s house, and plenty of time in the AC to chill with some Jack and cokes and a good night's sleep.  

Bright and early - rode to the valley.








Nice and early, the temps were very reasonable.  Stunningly stark and beautiful.  Didn’t really capture it well with the pics.  The morning sun really contrasted colors from each layer of rock.








The sign is cool, but the mountains in the background are cooler.





So early in the morning, as the descent from the high desert to Death Valley began, I could feel the air getting thicker.  3,000 feet.  2,000, 1,000, thicker and thicker.  Now, down in the valley a couple of hours, it was getting too thick, hot, and uncomfortable.  Maybe by 10AM it was 100 degrees.  Time to get going to higher ground.  

Barely saw the surface, maybe licked it a little - tasted salty.  Some year, in a different month, probably with a different kind of bike, I really want to spend weeks here.  People were vacationing even in July.  Must be pretty cool to do with AC houses or trailers and a car.  Nights must be great.  So leaving, I don’t feel I have explored Death Valley in the least.  Just kinda visited.  A drive by.








Cool town of Goldfield.  Kinda artsy, kinda laid back, very Western.  A lot of great pics from here.  Posted are just a few.  Great talk at the old school souvenir shop / general store.






Climbing in elevation towards Tonopah, full tank of gas, and a long ride to the next station.  When originally planning on the 919, this is one stretch where I strongly considered carrying some fuel in an illegal Gatorade container just in case.  With Connie, no such worries.



Took three pics of these wild horses.  Here is the best one.  Wild life photography not a strong suit!




This 163 mile stretch was great.  So desolate and open.  There were huge clouds in the sky so that about half the time was spent out of direct sunlight.  Really kept the temps down and the spirits high - what a difference it would have been otherwise. Getting on passed Ely, it was actually raining at Great Basin.  Great for cooling down and great for raising strong aroma of junipers and cedar.

Into Utah and some salt.



Crossing the border to yet another face of Utah.  While the temps were uncomfortable at times, glad to have gotten into areas of the desert I haven’t seen in decades.  Some never - unique beauty.  Though heading back to the east, the ride is not over yet.  Some great areas of Utah, northern Colorado, and my favorite place on earth in Wyoming still to come.  Makes riding away from the sunset a little more palatable.  Especially with that bottle Jack in my right case still going strong...

Offline Lonnie

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Re: Kinda Death Valley, Almost Naked
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2015, 08:42:09 pm »
I'm fairly new on this site but just thought I was post up that I've been to Utah 2 times and Colorado 2 times Atv riding. The sites are just beautiful and seeing them from the off road side is an adventure you should try sometime. Some where down the road I want to do a motorcycle trip out there but seeing as I live in North Carolina I'll need lots of vacation time to make it happen. i would want at least a month so I could take my time and really enjoy it. Great pictures by the way.
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Offline angelo

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Re: Kinda Death Valley, Almost Naked
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2015, 09:16:50 pm »
Absolutely.  In the late 80's early 90s my wife (girlfriend) and I would take our raised 4 wheel drive Comanche pickup out there.  Sign the 10 day pass and go out on the white rim trail down in the canyons til our water ran out.  Did the same in Glen Canyon and down by Hite when that was still a lake.  You are correct.  Simply beautiful.  Bittersweet seeing it again riding out but knowing I had not the bike for serious off road travels....

sailor_chic

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Re: Kinda Death Valley, Almost Naked
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2015, 01:42:18 pm »
Great pictures! thanks for sharing :)

Offline angelo

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Re: Kinda Death Valley, Almost Naked
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2015, 09:05:32 pm »
Last day out West started with some great roads in Utah - here the first pic is by a rather large mine, but the rest of  probably 50 miles or so were less populated and very quick roads.






Through some Colorado and Wyoming landscapes.




Rain in the future heading in the same direction I was going - Medicine Bow.






Within 100 yards of the marked continental divide.  There is lovely modern house near by with a big, proud, US flag.  Great place to make a stand.




Dropping into the entrance to Medicine Bow, cloudy skies, wet roads, so nice and slow and a great chance to enjoy the scenery.




My favorite place on earth.






From there, off to Laramie and the West turns into the great plains, the great slab, and miles to make.  So several years ago, we began a little tradition.  Each trip, my wife sends me off with a bottle of Jack.  Makes it easy at the end of the day to just get a couple of cold Cokes rather than hauling around looking for a sixer from the local micro brew.  Often, I come home with some left and we finish it together on the deck.  On this trip, in a run down cheap hotel in Kearney, the bottle emptied as it rained all night.  Hey, you tour, you’re gonna get wet.  Last day of slab it rained hard all the way to Des Moines, finally cleared, and I found myself 1.5 hours from home in a gazebo eating the best gas station pizza in the country at exit 10 of I88 in Illinois.  Same way the trip started.  

Kinda saw Death Valley.  Know I need to get back there.  Zion too.  Ashley NF as well.  And, of course, Medicine Bow on the way home.  Had a lot of great stops along the way - what a great trip.  Got to know the new bike a little too.  Droning along, I usually reflect and look forward to next year.  Thinking a little out of the box - probably best not solo, which will be different.  Can’t wait to begin the planning.  Hope she has some beers waiting for me at home.  

Offline angelo

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Re: Kinda Death Valley, Almost Naked
« Reply #14 on: July 10, 2015, 07:01:05 pm »
Here are a few random pics that for some reason I didn’t include earlier..  Caught myself reliving everything looking at them again - you know how it is.

















Holy cow.