Day 14
June 18th, 2007                                                                  
Monument Valley, Utah
Goulding Campground 

With the no rain fly on the Eureka, I could see the morning sky overhead was clear.  The sun was rising but the tall canyons surrounding the campground will keep the area in the shade for at least another hour.

I picked up my watch to check the time, "6am, better get moving."  The college boys were still fast asleep, and all was quiet with the Oregon couple, but the mini van from Missouri was active, he was making coffee.

The morning was cool, and a slight breezed ruffled my hair.  "Man I need a haircut."  I was shaggy when I left home (didn't cut much off last time) and by the end of the tour I was going to look like I just crawled out from under a car.  

My route today would be a custom route created in my study a long time ago.  I'll be riding out of Monument, to the Valley of the Gods, Mexican Hat, into Colorado, than following a few state routes to Montrose.

I reset the trip meter, rolled out of the campground, back through Goulding, than down the bumpy road and to U.S. 163.

The Valley is pretty in the early morning sun, but it doesn't rival the sunset.  I quickly brought the 1300 up to speed, and after a few pictures took off for the Colorado mountains.  I enjoyed the blue sky, and bright sun, and looked at the day ahead as another special gift.  Riding across the country with no worries or cares is something I never get enough of.  Back home I know my family is good, and that goes a long way for a nice trip.  I thought about today being the first day of my son's new job.  I checked the clock on the ST, "that joker has been on the job 2 hours, wonder how he's doin?"  My wife was busy at her office, and I was busy riding.  All was good.
​I took this picture on my way out of the Valley.
I recalled the running scene from the movie "Forrest Gump," and tired to find it out here on 163, but never could.  I'm referring to the one where he is running with a group behind him with the monuments in the background.

A few miles north of the monuments I passed 2 HDs pulling trailers.

As I rode through the empty land, I couldn't see how anyone could survive out here, but Native Americans did quite well for a long time.   Riding past rock mesas and empty draws the Honda and I were at peace.  The long whine of the ST 1300 is something I've always liked.

Mexican Hat is one of the more active places around there.  The motel and cafe there do a brisk business with the biker crowd.  Several HDs, about to start their day, left a side road and came in behind me, but stopped for something to eat at the motel.
​Why they call it Mexican Hat.
I turned off at SR 261, and went in the Valley of the Gods.  In front of me stood a large expanse of mountains, but no slopes, just straight up.  The road surface was not the best and it canted me off to the right.  When I came to the table top like mountains, I looked up at the twisting road ahead.  The peaks were high, at least 8,000 feet,  I can find elevation easy enough from my GPS, not that its vital information, just interesting.
​SR 261 goes up the mountain.
SR 261 began to twist up the steep mountains, and suddenly went gravel.  "The map says this road is paved, what's goin on?"  I continued on, there seemed to be no large rocks, and the surface was packed down.  Still, there was no room for error because as always, a long drop of is on the side- thousands of feet.

The ST left a trail of dust behind me while I rode up the steep grades, but soon the pavement returned, but it wasn't much better then the gravel.  Bumpy, unmarked and full of holes.  It would not be hard to bottom out in a deep one, jolted off course, and over the edge.

Near the peak, I came across a breathtaking view.  I came to a stop and looked out in wonder at the scene under me.  One of the most beautiful places I'd ever come across.  Not on anybody's map, just a view from a old dirt road.  But what a vista.  Out before me stretched the vastness of Utah.  On this crystal clear day, the horizon was probably 100 miles away.  The hills in the valley below, several hundred feet themselves, looked like ant mounds from this great height.  I stood on the pinnacle for a long time, trying to absorb it all in.  The road was set in the side of a red mountain, the walls sheer and high, and the sky was a endless blue.
​Quickly becoming one of the more popular photos on the site.
 A glorious morning on a Utah mountain top.

I only found this place because I took the time.  I thought this might be and interesting road when I had my software and atlas out all those many weeks ago.  Here, I didn't have to compete for a spot with a bus load of tourists, with cameras whizzing away.  No, I could stand alone, and at least from where I could see, not another human being for at least 20 miles.  I locked the coordinates of the spot on my GPS, so I would have no problem returning to it, if I ever wanted to, which I'm sure to do.

It was time to get back on the road and continue my ride over the mountains.  SR 261 is not the best of roads in terms of riding, but the views are magnificent, however, you can't be in a hurry.  After cresting the mountains the road improved greatly and I didn't encounter any further gravel sections.  When it was over I had successfully passed over 3 half mile sections of "unimproved" roadway.

SR 261 brought me to SR 95, where I made a right turn for Blanding.  I came this way in 2005 but in the opposite direction.  I was going to miss the best part of the road by turning east, but I needed to get to Montrose.  
The riding continued to be good on 95.  Most of it seemed to be downhill, with long lazy sweepers.  The air was getting warmer but definitely not hot.

At the crossroads of 95 and U.S. 191 I found a old store and went in for a long break.  I didn't have all that many miles to ride today, so I took a long one.  The store was a throwback to the old days, it was made of wood, and had a nice bench to sit on out front in the shade.  I loved it.   I ate a sandwich, put in a few notes and checked some video.  Surprisingly I had a good signal and called my sister.  "So where ya at?"  "Somewhere in southern Utah, not far from Blanding."  "Well that really doesn't tell me anything, what are you close to?"  "That's IT, BLANDING, UTAH is all that is out here." 

​Bends like this one were common on the roads I traveled 
this day.  Excellent challenge and scenery.

I spent sometime with Debbie, and left my son a text.  "How bout makin me a appointment to get a haircut the Monday after I get home?  Man I'm so shaggy right now."  "Ok"

Blanding, Utah seemed to be a pleasant city, as 191 split it right down the middle.  Not much in the way of trees, but that is the nature of South Utah.  I went past a few tire stores, homes, and appliance shops. Than a dinosaur museum and on to Monticello where I went to U.S. 491 toward Colorado.  

The construction zones in Utah were long and dusty, and not much better in Colorado.  It seems I've been finding them even more then usual this tour.  On this day I had 3 long sections to contend with.

A few miles of 491 made me glad to see SR 141, a twisty highway that transported me to the higher elevations.  The road was all mine and the ST and I hummed along in this land between desert and and water.  The desert shows its age more then any other land.  With no vegetation to hide erosion or wind damage, it is layed bare for all to see.  
​My first sighting of the Colorado Mountains.  Somewhere
on U. S. 491.

The 1300 ran easy as I was leaned into a long left hander.  I tilted the Honda over an began the maneuver.  I was halfway when all of sudden there they were!  Geezus! In the worst possible place!  Five or six lost cows were in the road and on the shoulder.  I was looking far into the curve when I saw the trouble.  I had to slow the ST with the throttle, get the bike out of the lean, and bring it to a stop before hitting a cow or running out of road.  I managed all that without too much problem and got the bike stopped a few feet from the first calf.  I never ride faster then I can see, and this time it saved me from serious injury or worse.

I had passed no sign that I knew of telling me I was in open range country.  Funny, I wasn't even shook up about it.  I was very business like and continued on my way when I saw it was safe to do so.  You can see the whole incident here- Safe Riding Tip

I rode across Gypsum Gap, elevation 6,000+ feet according to the Zumo, than made a long downhill run to SR 145.  I met a 1150 RT in a really sweet lean on a long right hander.  He looked really nice.
Between mountain riding you often find long run outs
to the next mountain range.

In Norwood I ate lunch at local place called the Lone Cone.  A bar/grill located on Main Street.  It had been awhile since I've been in a good local place and was glad to find one.  After parking the Honda back tire to the curb, I went in to check things out.

A long bar connected 2 walls in the front, and a row of booths occupied the wall.  In the next room I heard the loud slap of a billiard break.  Not much was going on when I took a seat in the first booth.

A young lady in her 20s, with light eyebrows and narrow eyes came for my order.  She looked pregnant, but I learned LONG ago you don't mention that to a lady unless you KNOW for sure.

After looking over the menu, she came back to me.  "So what ya gonna have?"

"Bring me a hamburger I reckon sweetie"

An old clock hung over the bar with sweep hands.  I checked time against my Ironman, which I KNOW always has the correct time.  After factoring time zones, the wall clock was 4 minutes off.

The hamburger was good and as I was finishing up I heard the sound of bikes pulling up.  From the echo I knew they were V twins. There were no windows, only a door.  

Five riders stepped in or I should say, 3 riders and 2 pillions.  They were cruiser riders as evidenced by their dress.  Leather vests, skull caps, denim and boots.  They ignored me, but that was ok.

I rose up from the table to pay my bill and return to the road.  The hamburger was good.  I ate more hamburger this trip in then in the last 2 years.  I was really decadent.

The streets of Norwood were quiet as I went through my ritual before start up.  "Cell in left pocket? check.  Wallet in right thigh pocket?  Check.  Axim in right coat pocket?  Check.  Keys?  Right here.  Ok lets go."
On the way out I noted two 1200 GS's, loaded, in front of the local auto parts store, and wondered if they had a problem.

Traffic was on the increase as 145 followed the San Miguel River.  I stopped for a few pictures but basically ran non stop to SR 62 to cut over to U.S. 550.  The route has some nice elevation and turns but is mostly stacked up with traffic trying to get to Telluride.
​You can see why Colorado is one of my prime riding areas.
I feel like all of America has become my playground over
the years.  I view a ride to Colorado  like most do a weekend
ride one state over

My patience was put on trial in a loooong construction zone.  I went to the head of the line but I didn't know I was suppose to do that or not.  It took a long time for the pilot truck to come back, and that is never a good sign. 
Ridgeway is a busy crossroads town where I connected to U.S. 550.  For all its beauty south of here, the last 25 miles of the highway into Montrose is not much, but I wasn't expecting much because I was on it 2005 bound for the Telluride area.

I brought up Country Lodge Manor (where I'll be staying the next 3 nights) on the GPS and got underway.  Last winter Uncle Phil discussed a joint Colorado ride, that it would be fun. He did all the planning (place to stay) and the rest we'd figure out when we arrived.  I've visited everything in this country that is worth seeing, my intent the next few years is to go back and spend more time in my favorite places.  Colorado being one.  We're going to spend the next few days just checking things out, the Million Dollar Highway south of Ridgeway was definitely on the list.
​It was good to leave the desert behind and find a little
more color on the roadways in Colorado.

The last few miles on the south side of the Montrose were not much fun as I worked through the afternoon traffic.  The Country Lodge Manor is on the north side of town right on Main Street.  I had no problem finding it and turned the ST off at the front door after a 281 mile day.

"I'm checking in a room for Phil Derryberry, I ain't him, but he said y'all be lookin for me."

A tall thin lady with a tatoo in small of her back said, "yes I have it right here."  She gave me a key and said, "we have a slag drive back there and more then one joker has dropped his bike on the way to the room."  "Thanks for the heads up."

The room was really nice, and I picked out one of the rear bedrooms.  It was good stuff.

After putting some comfortable clothes on, I put a load of clothes in the washer and called Debbie.  "No Uncle Phil ain't here yet, he's comin from Idaho so he's gonna be awhile."

Before taking a shower I went outside and cleaned the ST screen with Plexus. 
I was relaxing watching TV when the door knocked, "dang, WHO can this be?  I went to the door and saw a guy a didn't know.  "He stuck out his hand and said, "hey I'm Bill Roberts, from Tennessee."  It was then I remembered Uncle saying something a guy from Tennessee coming in to ride with us.  I'd forgotten all about that.  

He knew who I was from my web site, so I knew he couldn't be all bad.  After some good conversation we decided to walk across the street to Arbys.  There was a local place further down, but the lady at the desk said it was so so at best.

On the way out we went by the office and I told the lady if another southern boy comes in to direct him to Arbys.
We were just finishing up eating when I looked out the window to see Uncle Phil walking our way. I went out to let him know we were there just in time to see him slip on the sloped grass, he went down kind of awkward but looked ok.  We took him inside and kept him company while he ate.

He just put down about 700 miles, stopping only for gas. 

We mostly fielded questions from Bill.  He was on his first long trip and had spent a few days in Texas before coming to Colorado.  He was riding a Yamaha cruiser bike, and came in with the biggest load I'd ever seen on a bike.  

Bill was just taking all this end.  He said he was still a "greenhorn."  We told him everyone is at one time or another, and the more you ride and tour, the more defined your style becomes.  I asked him about his trip so far, and he said it was fun but he was going to do things different on the next.

We went back to the room and spoke about home, but riding and motorcycles were the main topics.  I grew sleepy early and was looking forward to a comfortable bed.

Bill said he needed to get back to Tennessee so would be leaving out in the morning as we go out for our ride.
We all said good night at the same time and went to bed.  Another good day went in the books.

The fall Uncle Phil took near the Arby's aggravated his right elbow, and soon after his return he under went surgery to have the ligaments fixed.  He is currently recovering.

Bill Roberts broke for home the next morning and had a safe trip back to Tennessee.