​​​BamaRider
  
Day 5
October 5th, 2017
Super 8 Motel
Laramie, Wyoming

It was cold this morning.  At 7am it was 34 degrees in Laramie.  I went out to load the RT and found a frost on the seat.  “Dang, going to be chilly ride this morning.”  Weather app reported 60s for highs in the mountains, and 80 in Moab.

“Don’t worry about the weather right now, gonna warm up quick, so dress in layers.”  I told my brother as he prepared for his first ride across the Rockies.
  
A chilly 34 degrees greeted us on wake up in Laramie, Wyoming.
  
I hit the starter on the RT and it took a couple of spins to catch idle.  Finally, it settled on a rough idle.  It was a hint of what was to come later. 

We gassed up the night before so all we had to do was get on the road.  The customary mic check told us we were connected.  For the first time I had the insulated liner in the Klim, checked all the vents on the pants and coat to make sure none were open.  I stayed with the ballistic gloves.  They are not as thick as my full on winter gloves, but I can feel the heated handgrips better with them.  I switched them on as we were leaving Cheyenne on SR 230 South.  I also turned on the heated seat.   In the cool mountain air they were awesome, and made what could have been a cold morning ride into a pleasant one.  The effectiveness of the grips were so good, they were down right hot.  If I left my hands too long in one place on the grip I had to move it, too hot to touch.

With seat and grips full blast, I brought the screen up to create the best riding cocoon in motorcycling.  Behind the dome and warmth of the seat and grips, I was toasty, as we made our way to the high country in mid 30 temps.

South to Colorado we rode on 230. Surrounded by magnificent scenery, we rode past ranch lands with the mountains in the distance.  They were heavy in snow.

“See those mountains up there?”

“yeah”

“that’s where we’re goin”
  
We saw antelope, a bear, and other animals on our way to the mountains.
​It was a beautiful ride out of Wyoming to the Colorado Rockies.
   
We saw a lot of antelope in the fields around us as we rode toward to the mountains.  Snow was piled in the shady areas.  A storm came through last week and dropped about a foot.  We seemed to be right in the middle of  a past and future snow event.

The morning sun was bright, and the skies a radiant blue.  Western skies just look better than back east.

Mountains grew larger the farther south we rode.  The temp was rising as the bright eastern sun did his work.

“Walden is up ahead, I went through there riding east a few years ago. They’ll be something to eat there.”

“I hope, I’m getting hungry.”

Located in the foothills of the mountains, you find the town of Walden.  I want my tours to find me the Americana of America, and Walden is one of the answers.  Isolated, it still manages to hang on.  Connected by SR 14, and in the middle of Fort Collins and Steamboat, it serves a purpose for Long Riders and skiers.

On this morning we found the Moose Creek Café right on Main Street so pulled in.  Rustic and full of character, the café had a few locals eating what looked to be excellent food.

“where ya want us to go baby’?

“anyplace is fine”

We took a seat at the front window.  Always good to see your ride while you eat. 

“One of the locals called out to us, “where y’all from?”

“Alabama”

  “where ya headin?”

“Utah”

“Nice day for it”

“You aint kiddin”

  
  
​Walden, Colorado
  
The Moose served us some great hotcakes and sausage, one of the best meals of the trip.  It was fabulous.  Good food and good conversation with the locals, always hard to beat.

Weather checks told us we were in good shape all the way to Moab.  “The pace will pick up once we get East of Steamboat.”  I called Debbie and checked in.  “Yessss good day today.”

  
Getting back on the road at Walden, Colorado.  Great mountain town.
 From Walden we followed SR 14, and began the long ascent into the high mountains.  The road gently climbed at first, and we could feel the temp drop.  Snow was banked on each side of us. 

Cautious of deer we restrained from any hooligan riding.  There is really no describing this scenery.  Approaching Rabbit Ears Pass I called out to Gus.

“Smell Christmas trees?”

“Yeah”

“Check your right side, acres of Blue Spruce” 

With little traffic to work around, we took the turnout at Rabbit Ear Pass to take a few pictures.  I also took a little time to explain to Gus the significance of the Continental Divide.

  
Gus on his Concours 1400 near the Wyo-Colo line.  Elevation about 8,000 ft.
​Rabbit Ears Pass
It took about 15 minutes to soak it all in.  Despite all the snow the road was dry.  It was still cool so I kept my cold weather gear on with the seat and grips on.

The long descent into Steamboat Springs came next.  High sweeping curves greeted us as we cruised downhill.  It took a while to get through Steamboat, which was alive in Fall colors.   I noted the mileage on the Garmin and saw we were not quite halfway to Moab, but the second half of the ride would go much faster now that we were out of the mountains.

Thirty miles east of Craig I turned off the heated seat and grips.    We pushed on to Craig before taking our second break in the most eleaborate con store I'd ever done business with.  The thirsty Concours needed gas so I went ahead and topped off.  "Might as well gas while I'm here."  This Kum and Go station has a long drink bar, a deli, snacks, and a clean dining area to sit.  We took full advantage of it.

We held our breath in the parking lot when it came to leave, not sure if Kawasaki would power up or stay dark.  It fired up no problem.  "Our luck is still holding out" Gus said in my helmet.  I took the liner off and vented out the Klim and went back to mesh summer gloves.

In Craig we turned south to hook up with SR 13.  It would take us to I-70.

The change of direction placed us in a stiff headwind.

The ride from Craig to Rifle was the longest hundred miles of the tour.  I thought we'd never get there.  The West slopes of the Colorado Rockies are not as scenic as the east.  It does not rain as much on this side of the mountains and the landscapes reflected that fact.

In Rifle we sought out the Mcdonald's to take a early afternoon break.   I had a coke and a cookie and used the wifi.   The ride in from Craig wore on us and we wanted to absorb it.  It was here we had our first encounter with the exit roads round a bout.  It was not layed out well and confusing.  We missed our spoke and had to go around again.

The speed limit was a generous 75 mph and we took full advantage of it.  I set the cruise on the RT at 78 and went on auto pilot.  It felt good to be in open country again after all the mountains.  The desert land was featureless. 

Grand Junction came and went.   The only thing of note it was home to world’s fastest pick up truck drivers.

I knew the turn off for Moab was not far after crossing into Utah, and began looking for it.  We were coming in on the more scenic SR 128.

SR 128 was much better than I remembered it as we rode the sport touring bikes through the canyons.  It was later afternoon and the colors on the rocks were stunning.  I could hear Gus, “man, look at that,” over and over.

The highway had some good curves to lean, but we were bogged down behind numerous slow moving cars.




  
On SR 128
A few miles after turning on SR 128 the highway begins to drop down into the canyons as it mimicks the Colorado River.
The Moab area is high desert country.
The last 30 miles into Moab were some of the best of the tour.  My brother was very excited to be here, and riding a fine motorcycle in such vast beautiful country.  It was quite a treat for a southern boy on his first Western Adventure.  We stopped for many photo ops.
The Colorado River working its way past the canyons of Utah.   All 
through the west the river carves such majesty.

​  "We stopped for many photo ops.'
Late afternoon in the Utah Canyons.
Many areas along SR 128 see very little sunlight.
  
Our afternoon ride through the canyons was one of the best.  Traffic was building in the area in anticipation of the 3 day weekend ahead (Columbus Day) but it was all good.  It was a great way to end the day.

SR 128 dropped us off in Moab and we had to find a place to camp.  The city was a busy place and the few vacant motels were asking 250 a night for 80 dollar room.   Not that I’m cheap or anything, but no way, we had our camping gear with us.

A cursory check of the campgrounds brought mixed results.  A off road thing was in town and many were sold out of RV space.  These guys had in tow what I use to call “dune buggies.”  Now they are high tech vehicles.

I looked for the campground I camped in 2005 but couldn’t find it.  I couldn’t even find anything that looked like it, that’s how much this end of town had changed.  In the end we just picked one.  “This looks as good as any, sign says they have tent space.”

We came into the Moab RV Resort and set the stands after a 428 mile day.

Sixty-five dollars bought us 2 nights for our tents, split came to 33 dollars.  The Moab Resort was nice; good facilities, covered tent space, and a store.

We were sitting up our tents and bed when Gus found out the pump for his air mattress was not working.  “I’m not sure if it’s the batteries or something else, won’t power up.”

“It could be the jarring of 400 miles in the pannier turned it on, and killed the battery, or knocked something loose.”  I told him.  “We’ll buy some batteries on the way back from supper and find out.”

As a rookie long rider Gus had no system yet.  A certain method to pack, unpack, break camp, and where to put things.  That starts somewhere around the 2nd long tour.  You learn what works for you and follow it. 

Our campsite was at the end of a long row, that worked well because the campground was busy; many, many RVs were already set up.  This was not what you call a scenic campground, but it served the purpose.

Finished with our campsite, we rode a few miles into downtown Moab to eat supper.  We settled on some mediocre Mexican.  I believe I ate here in 2005, and it was much better back then, but maybe I ordered the wrong item?

After supper we stepped out to the parking lot to face a cool night.  A pedestrian stepped out in front of us when turned back on Main Street, I jammed on the brakes; he was on the phone. 

On the way back we stopped off in a grocery store thing and Gus bought his batteries and some fruit.

The Concours powered up again leaving the store, and we were beginning to grow more confident in the bike.  It had showed no signs of the earlier problem.

The entrance to the campground is hard to see at night.  Several driveways are there and we rode past it.  Had to double back.

The laundry area had a decent WIFI so we went there to call home and check on things.  “We’re gonna sleep in the morning, wash clothes and then ride over to Arches.  At least that’s the plan.”

Gus, smiled, “sounds good.”

We chatted away at the table, but not much left to say.  We’d just spent 10 hours or so today doing just that. 

I left the rain flap off my tent.  “Not going to rain tonight.”  That later proved to be a dumb thing to do.  Without the flap cool night air was free to move through my tent.  Temp dipped down to high 40s and I didn’t sleep as warm as I like to.

Went to bed looking forward to tomorrow.


Next -Touring Arches National Park.  Easy day.