Day 4
August 24, 2014
Colorado Springs, Colorado

I slept in this morning.  My ride today would be a short one (about 250 miles) so I took advantage.  After Kansas, sleep came easy.  Still on Alabama time, I pulled out of bed at 7am, and went downstairs, the rest of the house was still asleep.  I slept 10 hours and it felt good.

I can't begin to tell y'all what good hosts Peter and Nora were.  I had the run of the house and they couldn't do enough for me.

The bright morning light was covering the house, and I went down to the garage to clean the FJR as best I could with the Plexus.  I had some bugs and rain spray on the bike that the Plexus made short work of.  When I finished, I took the bugs off the Shoei.  The 1300 looked all shiny and new when I finished.

Shortly after, Peter came down and then Nora.  We gathered in the family room for more conversation.  
"Y'all never knew Chris wanted to be a priest?" Nora asked.

"No we didn't.  Looking back I can put my finger on a few things that said he was being called, but we failed to connect the dots on it."

"We want Debbie to come next time"

"tell ya what, next year I'll fly Debbie in and and we'll hang out a few days, do the Pikes Peak thing"

"love it"

I called and checked in with home, Debbie had just got up.

Nora fixed a small breakfast of sausage and biscuits, that I wolfed quickly. "I can skip lunch today," I thought as I took a swig of OJ.  Around 9am local time I loaded the feejer and got ready to get back on the road.  The bags on the FJ are a little smaller than either the Honda or BMW.  Not by much, but noticeable.  I load all 3 bikes the same way. The right bag houses the camping stuff (tent).  The left has a liner with my Nikes, shorts, and Polo shirt, along with whatever gloves I'm not wearing.  In possible cold climes it will have insulated liner, thick gloves.  Notice I make sure the wet stuff (tent) stays away from my bedding.

It was time to ride, so I said my goodbyes.  Arriving early yesterday, and late out today, made me feel I just finished a full day off from the road.  Those are important on a long ride.  I took full advantage of my time with Nora and Pete.  I was able to regroup after Kansas, and take a break.  I was ready to ride now.

I told the Zumo to take me to Granby, a valley city on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park.  My plan is to ride t US 34 West to East, instead of the more common East to West.  This would bring me to my planned finishing spot of the day-Estes Park.  Radar put scattered rain in the mountains, but it was well west of where I was going.

I can see living in Colorado Springs.  Good weather, lots of activities, close to the outdoors and winter sports, low crime, clean, no ghettos, nice housing, good schools. Peter told me winter weather not what you think it would be. Lots of former/fellow yuppies to hang out with, I could see that at the party last night.   My home here in Prattville is long paid for, I could turn a nice profit and buy a really nice place out here, my retirement check follows me anywhere I go.  The only thing holding me, are the friends and family in Alabama.  I have friends in Prattville that go back 45 years, my brother, Debbie's mother, no, leaving them would trouble me.  I thought about all that while I was riding north on I-25 toward Denver.

I had the tinted visor down on the Shoei to shield my eyes from the white, almost luminous light of the Colorado sun.  Been a few yeas since my last ride west, I'd forgotten how distinct the sunlight can be out here.  The weather on this morning was typical Colorado in summer.  Mild and sunny, but I mostly enjoyed the NO humidity. 
Gas was good, the data readout said I had almost 200 miles of range.
Passing through Castle Rock I saw the rock formation that gave the city it's name.  It was pretty neat
A cop had a hapless motorist pulled over, could have been anyone of us, every one I saw was doing at least 80.
Entering the South Denver suburbs, the GPS swung me west to 470 to connect with I-70 West. 

Everything was going well, until I hit I-70, then it was construction, lane shifts, mergers, and traffic.  I had to move my awareness to the next level.  It took a few miles to work over to the left lane, and once there I couldn't hold it because lane closures shifted me back.  All around me cars buzzed.  I wanted to use the Feejers biggest advantages in such situations- speed and agility.  I swept past lumbering traffic on the inclines, only to get boxed in by some U Haul in the wrong lane at 50 mph.

My last visit on I-70 came way back in the 80s when we flew into Denver for ski trips.  In my long riding career I avoided Denver and I-70 for the very reasons I was encountering on this day.

I was leaned in a sweeping left hander, in a line of cars overtaking slower traffic on the right, when I suddenly I spotted some kind of large obstacle in my right hand track.  I only had a second to make a decision on it, because it emerged out of nowhere, hidden by a couple of cars.  A quick glance to the right mirror," no good, not enough room,"  I was going to have go left, so leaned the bike a little more and missed it by a foot or two.  It was close.  It appeared to be some kind of large pillow.  In a lean, like I was, it would have surely put me down, and in all that traffic, bumper to bumper at 70, not a good thing.  I escaped because I was looking for it.  I can't stress enough how you MUST think ahead in such scenarios, you can't focus on the guy ahead of you, you HAVE to be looking 2-3 down the road.

​Half mile later I saw the owner of the pillow in the breakdown lane trying to tie down the load in his truck.  I also a boot on the highway I'm going to say was his too.

I was glad to leave the mayhem of I-70 for US 40.  In Empire I took my morning break at a small con store.  I got off the bike and dug my neck wallet out. Immediately my heart sank.  I keep my clip wallet and Iphone secured in my neck wallet, but not this time.  I knew instantly it felt too light, the Iphone was missing.  I knew I'd forgotten it at Pete's house.  "How did I not double check it before leaving??  I took a deep breath to settle down and think this out. "Ok at least I know where it is, I have my Ipad, it may not have a data plan, but I can at least text and email when I have WIFI and that's almost anywhere. First thing I gotta do is contact Debbie and then see if Nora has found my phone."  The small local store had no WIFI.

There was nothing else I could do so I went inside and bought a cookie and Mountain Dew.  Empire is the first place you enter on the way to the ski resorts.  With no phone I was resigned to doing this the old fashion way.   The cookie and drink were a little less enjoyable, but I had to let it go and move on.  "I'll make the contacts and just tell them to FedEx it back to Prattville."

There wasn't much room in the store parking lot, so it was a little tricky getting back on the highway.  Only a few separated the highway from the pumps.

Back on the road I was moving up the mountains and into high elevation.  I tabbed the screen that showed the elevation field, and checked the posted elevation sign, the GPS was only a few feet off.  It grew cooler but not cold.  US 40 is a great motorcycle road, but I spent most of my time on it bogged down in traffic. 

Winter Park was mostly a ghost town when I arrived looking for a WIFI.  This time of year not much going on.  I went left down into empty ski village to see what I could find.  All I found were a bunch of closed ski shops, bars, and condos.  I was on the way back when I found a bar (saloon?) kind of thing.  I stopped,  got my Ipad, and checked to see if I could grab a wayward WIFI.  I did have a signal but for some reason I couldn't do anything with it.  It did not require a password, and the graph said I had a decent signal, but maybe not.  I left and continued on.

I was on the far side of town when a saw it.  McDonalds!  I shot over and went inside.  I put the Shoei on a booth by the window and ordered 2 hamburgers.  "Might as well eat so I don't have to get back out tonight." After logging in I saw I had a good signal and sent Debbie a message-

"Forgot my phone at Nora's"

"I know she called me"

"So she does HAVE it?"


"Ok, I'm on the Ipad right now, we'll just have to make do, I can only use it when I have WIFI, but almost everywhere has it"

"But I can't leave voice mails"

"Well no, just leave a text, but it maybe awhile before you get a response. lemme contact Nora and tell her to FedEx it back home, I'll catch ya later"

I went ahead and ate the 2 hamburgers, that proved to be mostly bread, but it was cheap. I sent Nora a text-
"You have my phone?"

"Yes, we can bring it to you tonight, you said you were going to be in Estes Park"

"I am, but don't do that, 100 miles one way"

"what else do we have to do now that Peter is retired, and you need your Iphone"

"I do, but I can get by"

"It's no problem, and we'd like to get out"

"Look here, if you just wanna get out and enjoy the nice day then c'mon and we'll hang out tonight, but if ya think it's some kind of critical situation don't bother.  I have the Ipad, and if it is critical I'll borrow somebody's or something."

I sent the the address of the KOA to her.

A Shell station was close by so I went in and topped off the tank.  They had 91 so took advantage.  The skies were growing a little cloudy but they didn't look like rain clouds. 
I stayed on US 40 to Granby where the GPS showed me the checkered flag to let me know I'd arrived.  I went to US 34 and followed the signs into the park.   I stopped for a few pictures of Granby Lake, that I was sure had too cold of water for a Southern boy to try to swim in.  I used the stop to mount the Garmin Virb, it was time to catch some video.

​   Lake Granby

The ride up to Mt. Evans was scenic and challenging.  Long drop offs were everywhere along with myopic drivers who stopped to take video and pics every time they saw a moose or a big horn.  "Must be wreck up there?"  No just some idiots stopping in the middle of the road, and getting out of their cars.  A small herd of moose were grazing in the brush near the road and 50 cars were pulled out, with people walking all over the place.  I slipped by at 10 mph and out the other end I saw 2 ranger cars on the way to get things moving again.  I can see it when they get home, they invite people over and whip out the vacation video.  "Ok this is in the park and we saw these Big Horn."  And then make a guy watch sheep eat for 15 minutes.  I'd leave that house thinking I just spent a week in Gitmo.  Some joker makes me watch video of a moose eating for even 1 minute I'm going to seriously disfigure him.

Climbing in elevation, the scenery was just fantastic.  All around me were mountain peaks.  I kept my eye on the Zumo 390 so I could stay informed on the elevation.  I knew Mt. Evans was 13.000+ feet, and US 34 was the highest U.S. marked road in the country.  The roadway curved up the mountain in a series of tight switchbacks.  I was stuck behind a few cars, but noway did I want to do any hooligan riding on this mountain.  Over shoot a curve and you're looking hundreds of feet down.

I wanted to take a few pics at Milner Pass but just too many cars in there.  I kept the windscreen on the Yamaha down low because I was in the twistes, but my face was getting cold so I flipped the main shield down on the Shoei for the first time on this tour.

Air temp gauge on the feejer was dropping by the foot it seemed.  At 12,000 feet it was 51 degrees.  A strong wind, blowing through the surrounding peaks, knocked me around.  I met a few west bound HD riders wearing nothing but leather vests, half helmets.   I don't know how they stood it.  Ever climbing in elevation, I closed in on the summit.  I was above the tree line.  I went to a scenic turnout to take pictures.  It was 47 degrees, a gusty, bitter wind made it feel much colder.  I was getting off the bike when a lady walked by and said, "nice bike."

High in the mountains on the incredible Yamaha FJR 1300.  This tour was the kind
it was made for.

I gotthe pics I needed and got underway.  "I'll be going down now, so temp gonna warm up, I just gotta hang on."  The main shield on the Shoei wanted to fog up but I cracked open the bottom solving the issue.  The air grew warmer and the sun came back out.

    Near the Summit of Mt. Evans

Traffic on the descent thinned out, and I was able to get some good leans on the feejer.  Fun stuff.  A small mountain stream afforded a good photo op.  The water was clear and fast.  I stepped down the incline, (in riding gear not easiest thing to do) to the banks to soak in the moment.  While I was there a HD rider came in for a smoke break.  He asked me if it was raining at the summit and I advised, "no, but its cloudy and cool."

The road flattened out on the way in to Estes Park, the day's ride was coming to a end.  I went by the James Hotel.  "Hey, ain't that where they filmed The Shining?"  I took a few pictures then put the KOA address in the Zumo and headed that way.  ( I later googled the James Hotel to learn the movie was not filmed here, but on a set in the UK.  (But Stephen King got his inspiration for the movie while visiting here).

At the KOA office a few minutes later I got a bad case of sticker shock.
  Enjoying the moment at a Colorado mountain stream.

"Yes sir"


I went ahead and paid up.  I didn't feel like shopping.  Later, I did some checking and found all the campgrounds in the area were about 30 dollars.  Random checks on couple of local motels was 69 plus.  I didn't bother to even check the chains.  It's called being at the doorstep of a National Park.  Earlier, I had a notion to camp in the park, but erased that when I saw how cold it was at 3pm.

My assigned site was down a narrow dirt path to a dead end.  Once again I unloaded the Yamaha, turned it around pointing out so not have to do it tomorrow with a loaded ride.  I finished the day at 290 miles.
My campsite was all set up when a guy from New Hampshire pulled across in a 10 year old SUV.  It was so loaded he could only see out the windows in the front.  

Loaded New Hampshire SUV.  What I'm talking about is just throw your stuff in the back.

I spoke out to him.  "Dang where you goin with ALL that stuff?"

"I'm moving out here," he said in a thick yankee accent.

"you're movin into a KOA?"  I asked cause you never knew what a yankee's general reasoning might be.
"Nooooooo. I hope I'm outta here in a week.  I gotta job interview in Boulder tomorrow."

I sent Nora a text-

"Y'all comin this way?

"yeah be there in 30"

"man y'all too good, if I ain't here when you get in I'm in the shower, just give me a minute"


It was a long walk to the showers but that was ok, needed to move some air anyway.  I was missing my running, which is more like jogging now that I have this part time job.

About 30 yards from my tent I saw Nora and Pete's SUV on my way back to the tent. "MY phone!"

"y'"all are too awesome, I was messed up till you got here"

"Its not a big deal we enjoyed the drive"

I called Debbie to tell her I had my phone and all was good.

We jumped in Peter's ride and rode into the business district for supper at a local place I failed to get the name, because I keep my phone away when I'm in person with someone.  Nothing but rude to take a call when you're in a conversation sitting right across from a real person.  You're going to have to leave me a voice mail, not answering.

I had the Salmon and it was quite tasty.  Supper was on me, it was the least I could do to thank them for bringing my phone to me.

It was dark when they returned me to my camp site.  It was a short goodbye, they needed to get back to Colorado Springs.  When they left I went across the way to the New Hampshire campsite, he was eating bread and crackers. 
"What kind of interview ya got tomorrow?"

"I'm in I T."

"oh ok"

I was looking at his tent and kept thinking, "something ain't right."  Then I noticed, the floor floor was 5 inches off the ground!

I hollered out to him, "why ya wanna have your tent up in the air?"  It looked like someone was levitating it.
"I dunno, not how it goes?"

"LOL, never seen a tent up in the air like yours"

"I think that's how its suppose to be"  As it swayed in the wind.  I'm thinking he had the floor grommets attached to the poles.

"So what ya reckon is gonna happen when you lay down in it?"

"we'll see shortly"

I was going to hang around for the show but too sleepy. 

I wished the young man good luck.  In MY tent I tried o to watch a TV show I had downloaded but just too sleepy.  I hit the Ipad off button about 10 minutes into it.

Sleep came quick.

Day 5- The ride to Badlands