New Orleans to California

Hey Folks! I have been on the road for a month now. Sorry I haven’t posted here in a while. I keep another blog with things other than motorcycle stuff @ nygumbo.com. So if you see any nygumbo references in the following text, that’s why. It has been difficult to work on two blogs while on the road. If you would like to check the other blog, feel free. But now that I am here, so let’s get caught up.

I went to a magical place from my childhood today. City Park. Within City Park is Story Land where my Grandma and Grandma Lu (great grand mother) would take me when I was a little boy.
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It was filled with large sculptures from stories and fairy tales that kids can go in and climb on. I always like the old woman who lived in a shoe.

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City Park is also home to some fantastic old Live Oak Trees.

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These trees are amazing. Old and wise trees.

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After City Park I crossed Lake Ponchatrain to visit my uncle. He was at the Abbey where he used to be the Abbott. He is retired now but was there to celebrate his 50th anniversary as a monk.

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There are some really cool murals where the monks eat.

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From the Abbey I headed to my cousins place in Gretna. I rode through a storm and like a dope did not put my rain gear on. DUMB. Now my boots are soaked and I’ll have to ride with sneakers on for a bit today. My cousin and her family took me out for some New Orleans seafood. Mmmmm Mmmmm Good!

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Ya can’t visit New Orleans with out having some crawfish.

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This little feller slept with me last. Cute kitten prrrrrrred under my arm throughout the night.

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So I was packing the bike to leave New Orleans after a big breakfast with my cousin and her family when I noticed a problem.

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My clutch cable was about to snap. Fortunately it was Saturday and I was still in New Orleans. First we went to Smitty’s bike shop in Gretna and spoke to Lurch. They didn’t have the cable but they let my call Triumph from their bike shop. They had two cables in stock and fixed it in a jiffy. So I said good bye to my cousin and headed toward River Road along the Mississippi. I had a great visit. It felt like family should. Bye Cuz!

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So it was on to Plantation land. This one is called Evergreen.

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This shot is a little piece of a plantation called Laura. It cost $15 to get it and I could afford the time.

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And finally, a place I have always wanted to see, Oak Alley.

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I rode South to check out some Cajun Country. In a town called Franklin I saw this wise old tree. This tree looks as though branches have come an gone, but it remains standing strong.

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Then I rode through a wicked storm to Lafayette. When the storm broke the sun was just setting.

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The next day I rode North along the Western edge of Louisiana. I stopped by this yard full of old trucks and fire engines. I met this old guy there. He was a lot like Goober from Mayberry with overalls cut off just below the knee. Goober’s handshake was so firm he is just the one you would want around if you slipped at a cliffs edge. He brought me into the garage to show me an old Mack truck they were working on.

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I rode all day and into the night where I arrive at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas. There is a river bed here with actual dinosaur tracks.

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It’s really cool. The tracks behind the campsite are the best ones.

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It started raining as I snooped around. I was told later it was the first rain they’ve had in 6 months. Below are Brontosaurus tracks.IMG_1147 copy

The other tracks are from the guy in this painting jumping on the Brontosaur.

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From Dinosaur land it was time to cross Texas. I stopped to stretch my legs when I saw this old car.

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I stopped again when I saw Bob’s well. You have to take a break every once in a while.

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There is lots of debris on the roads. Most of it is bits of rubber from truck tires. As I was flying down the highway at 85 I noticed one of those pieces of debris moving. I turned around to investigate.

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Yes! That piece of debris was a tarantula. I played with him for a little while before finding a place to camp for the night.

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I am off to Cadillac Ranch. See ya next time. I should be in New Mexico by nightfall.

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It’s been a long ride since my last post. And it has only gotten better. Once I hit the Rocky Mountains everything has been perfect. So back to Texas. I had the scariest night to date as far as weather goes. I pulled into Caprock Canyon for the night. The sky was magnificent. Stars galore. So I figured I’d crash in my hammock for the night. Bad idea. I saw some lights on the horizon before falling asleep, but I thought it was just a little heat lighting. WRONG! At about 2:30 am I woke to a bright flash and a sonic BOOM! Then came the winds and sideways rain. I had not time to set up the tent. I covered what I could and ran to the bathrooms where I waited out the storm. Intense! One of the two tarantulas I played with was in Caprock Canyon. Here are some of my bathroom buddies.

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In Turkey Texas, home of Bob Wills, I saw this great old gas station. Route 66 eat your heart out.

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As I continued across Texas I saw this old jail in the town of Silverton. It’s now a museum of sorts. Inside was this great old guy, Jerry Baker is his name, who told a little of the jail’s history.

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Here is Jerry who told the stories. Man this guy loved to talk. Real nice guy with an awesome Texas accent. He said some of Bonnie and Clydes gang did some time here. He told me he is self educated and signed a copy of the brochure for me. His claim to fame: He told me he met Kelsey Grammer once.

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Then I came across one of my planned stops. CADILLAC RANCH!

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Hey! Does it say nygumbo.com on that gas tank?

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It’s too cool.

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Texas Mission accomplished. It was on to New Mexico. I had to crash at a hotel. It threw my budget off but I couldn’t deal with another storm like the night before and it was comin’ for sure! The next day I went to Taos. While checking out the former home of Kit Carson I spoke to basket maker Bob. He came to Taos with aspirations of being an electricians. The natives told him they don’t need any electricians. What they need is basket makers. So Bob learned a new trade. He told me how to get to the Pueblo where he learned his trade. I believe it’s the oldest habited pueblo in the States.

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From Taos I rode to Bandelier Nation Monument.

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This place has mountain ranges with unique cavernous formations. The ancient natives built homes on the mountain side making use of the caves as rooms.

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Here is how the would have looked with the adjacent buildings.

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Here you can see the uniform holes that would hole the joists in place.

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I saw a sign which read “Stay on Path”. I just couldn’t resist. Most of the sites open to the public have been cleaned up and the floors cemented. I needed to explore and find something more pristine. That’s just what I did. I found this old site and the most amazing thing happened. As I sat there meditating and contemplating on how life must have been for the natives I began to feel myself lift from the ground.

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There were some strange areas nearby fenced off with signs that said “No Trespassing and Beware of Explosives. These sites were only marked by numbers and were frequented by unmarked trucks. I stopped at the local tourist bureau to inquire. Bandelier is in the mountains of Los Alamos, home of the Manhattan Project. It is still a government site with some of the most up to date nuclear reasearch to date.

So many amazing sites to see out here, like this beautiful Butterfly. Hi Butterfly!

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There is more to post, but I don’t want to spend my day in Starbucks. I’m in Arizona now. I haven’t even looked at my photos from The Petrified Forest yet. That place was super cool!

The four corner is what they call the section of the states where New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado meet. It is the only four states that meet at right angles in this way. It is also where you can find most of the ancient ruins left by the native people of this country. I’ve already introduced you to a couple spots in New Mexico. Let’s move on.

I headed south a bit to a place called El Morro. El Morro’s history involves the native people, the Spanish and the early Americans headed West. Here is how it looks from my campsite.

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It has also been called Inscription Rock as many who have crossed it’s path have left their mark.

The Natives.

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Spanish Conquistadors.

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The new Americans.

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Another unique feature of El Morro was an oasis. The water that ran of the side of the cliff was situated so it would not evaporate. A source of water in this climate was valuable.

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I climbed to the top of El Morro where there were ancient ruins.

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When I returned to pack up the campsite I found this peculiar bug crawling across the floor.

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And I found a snake skin.

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From El Morro it was off to the Petrified Forest. It began with the Painted Desert.

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There were ruins and petroglyphs there as well.

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Then along with the terrain the skies got grayer and the wind started kicking up. I was getting sand blasted as I rode. I think the strong winds is what prevented this guy from flying away.

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And of course there was petrified wood. Lots of it!

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Then there was something I was not expecting. Ruins made from Petrified wood!

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I saw this great old ride outside of a vendor just beyond the park.

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If you pull off at exits along Route 40 you may find bits and pieces of old Route 66. This is the Wig Wam Motel.

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From there I had hoped to find a place to camp, no problem. But I lose track of time sometimes and now it was the weekend. Campsites were filled. So I had to camp in the local forest.

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Well I am tired and it’s been days since I’ve had a hot shower. I’ll try to catch up in the morning.

In that same forest where I slept there were some old ruins.

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Then I rode south to Monezuma’s Castle. It is a huge multilevel ruin on the side of a mountain.

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Just north of Cottonwood AZ there was this ruin on the top of a hill.

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Cottonwood and the adjacent small towns are filled with old hippies. I past a huge drum circle on the way to this ruin.

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From the ruin I had to zoom to get ahead of this oncoming storm. I have been surrounded by storms for days but somehow have remained dry.

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Unfortunately that storm blocked the sun as I drove through Sedona. Sedona is surrounded by huge red rock formations. Without light it wasn’t worth taking photos. I did stop at this stream and take a shot.

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I might have stuck around this area, but that storm was moving toward me as I made my way north. Besides it was pretty touristy. Not my scene.

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That night I camped out at Navajo National Monument. At the visitor center I bumped into my new Korean friends I had seen earlier in the day at Starbucks. They were amazed that a guy could travel by himself as I was. They wanted to have their picture taken with me. So I had a shot taken too.

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From the mountaintop where the campsite was I could see storms all around, but amazingly none hit me. I caught a lightning strike as a watched what I thought was the impending storm.

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I was safe with the Captain on my side.

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In the morning I hiked to see the ruins. The only way to see them upclose is register for an overnight hike. I was asking the Park Ranger about it. She is Navajo. I must say I had a hard time keeping a straight face as she kept reminding me I have to make a “reservation” for the hike. Instead I settled for the overlook.

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Here is a closer look.

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Then I was going back to New Mexico to see a couple more ruins.

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This is Salmon Ruins.

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This is an old kiva. Kivas were the big round room for ceremonies.

The old bunks where the original surveyors lived were still intact too.

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Next I went to Aztec National Monument. It is called Aztec because it was first believed Aztecs had built the site.

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It’s rare to find ruins with the original roof. At Aztec they have rooms with the original roofs.

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I ended up visiting all four states of the four corners on this day. After passing through Durango CO I saw these elk.

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From there I rode to Bluff UT where I had been last year. I hadn’t showered in days and I knew the campsite there hot great showers and WIFI. I fell asleep to the sounds of frogs croaking in the pond.

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When I woke up the next morning I could see the sun glowing on the bluff.

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I decided to go to the Valley of the Gods. I was afraid to go there last year as it is a 16 mile dirt road. Now it was time.

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It was an exhilarating ride through the monumental cliffs and bluffs.

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Then I went back to the site to pack up camp where this lizard watched over me.

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I then had the unpleasant task of riding all the way back to Navajo National Monument where I had left my camera battery charger with the Ranger. How funny is that “reservation” thing now pale face! I made the best of it and took a few shots on the way. This huge rock can be seen from 20 miles away.

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I found an old pull tab can.

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Then in order to get where I wanted to go I had to ride up an 8 mile switchback.

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The view on the way up was incredible as you look down into the Valley of the Gods.

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Next stop Natural Bridges Nation Park. It’s in the middle of nowhere. I was low on gas. Fortunately they had a supply for emergencies. I had to fill out some paperwork and pay a premium price but I needed it to get to tghe next gas station. I’d like to go back there I hike to the bridges. They aren’t so exciting from above. But the flora was interesting.

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I rode on not sure how far I’d get. Then the sun began to set.

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I love a good sunset.

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Got to go this place is closing.

Utah is where I left off and where I remain. I left you at sunset 2 days ago. So let’s ketchup!!

Oh, first let me go back to New Mexico for a moment. As I was riding from Taos something funny happened. When you ride on a motorcycle there are many of things to worry about. Loose gravel, deer in the road, and of course bad drivers. If you read my post from the Catskills you heard of a story about an owl flying into this guys chest. Since then I have been super aware of birds. They are nuts! They dodge in and out of the rode before you coming so close you often duck (get it, duck) uncontrollably expecting that the bird will fly into your head. Well, I was riding through the mountains from Taos and there was this bird in front of me. I expected him to cut to the left or the right, but no. This bird wanted to go ahead and race me. Well he lost the race. I caught up to him all right. Face first! That little bird landed right in my mouth. I could actually feel the cold texture of his feet entering my mouth. That’s when he decided it would be a good idea to make a sharp left turn. No harm no foul. I am just glad I didn’t scare the shit out of him because I was firmly in place for a hot meal.

UTAH:

With every turn in the area around Glen Canyon I would yell out loud because of the shear beauty before me. Especially at sunset. I want to pull over and take it in at every corner.

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I didn’t care that it was getting dark. I didn’t care where I would stay the night. I just wanted this moment to last. I was told by the ranger at Natural Bridges of this place to get gas. He said the store would be closed but I could still get gas. Much to my surprise I could camp there too. And it was magnificent. A place to camp right on the edge of Lake Powell.

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I love this part of the country.

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If anyone is interested in gear. This folding saw called the Big Boy by Silky cut through wood like butter.

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I almost stepped on this guy before going to bed.

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I am just going to post some photos. I want to hit the road. I may have a thing or two to say along the way.

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I will add text at another time. There is still so much to see out there. Not that sitting here is bad. This is the view from where I am now.

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Howdy Folks! I am at Bryce Canyon now. Here they have lots of facilities. Laundry, Wireless Internet and Showers! I will take advantage of all 3.

Yesterday was fun. After posting I rode right into a storm. I have to admit, I try to look cool when I am taking a photo of myself, but when it rains there is not time for cool.

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Many riders have waterproof gloves. I find that the xtra large heavy duty chemical proof rubber gloves over my riding gloves do the trick. The storm was heavy and a little frightening but fortunately brief.

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So from Capital Reef I headed toward Bryce Canyon.

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Between the two parks is a state park called Kodachrome.

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Needless to say they have free range cattle in the area.

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These storms appear out of nowhere. But the effects in the sky is great for photos once the sun hits your subject.

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These folks learned what a flash flood was the hard way. When they crossed it was a dry creek bed.

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Another storm was approaching as I neared Bryce.

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And then came Bryce Canyon. Having been here before I thought about skipping it. I am so glad I didn’t.

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Not too shabby huh? And now it’s shower time with fresh clean clothes to put on afterward. Oh yeah!

Hey there nygumbo fans! I thought I would have time to post in Vegas, but that didn’t work out. I was only able to pay tribute to the Mook. Now I am camped out in California amongst the Sierra Mountains and I am able to get a wireless signal from a nearby radio station. So I am back. When I left off I was in Bryce Canyon, so let’s return there. There is so much to share. At Bryce I did my laundry, I posted, I showered. Then I went to see the rest of the canyon. I have to admit the first few stops at Bryce Canyon are exceptional. The other stops are far away and not nearly as scenic, but I had to check it out. IMG_3853 copy IMG_3785 copy I saw this jive turkey. I have seen a few turkeys but they are not very good subject for photos. They are quick to run away. IMG_3798 copy I was rather annoyed at having spent so much time at Bryce. The latter part was anticlimactic and it looked like storms were inevitable. IMG_3796 copy Not that it’s not an amazing place. It is. But I was hoping to be at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon before dark so I was beginning to stress a bit. I left Bryce with worry on my mind. On the way was Red Canyon. I felt the need to fly by, but I just can’t help stopping everywhere. I get real caught up in the natural beauty of this part of the country. I’d like to come back in December and decorate this big sucker. IMG_3928 As I was riding away I passed this place Mugwumps. I turned around to take a photo. Besides, the storms ahead were making it cold and I had to put on a couple layers. As I was taking this picture a lady came up from behind me and asked, “What is it about that place that people want to take a picture?” I said “It’s tacky.” She said, “It’s mine.” Oops! IMG_3938 copy So now I was cold, and stressed about the time. I started flying south toward Arizona. I realized I wasn’t enjoying myself. It felt like work. Then I saw something on the side of the road, a tree that I wanted to photograph. I pulled over. I started noticing all the flora around me. It was growing out of this bright orange sand. All sorts of bizarre plant life. I calmed down and began to take the time to smell the roses (and take some pictures). IMG_3958 copy IMG_3978 copy IMG_3995 copy IMG_4017 copy There’s my Bonnie on the horizon. IMG_4023 copy There were these strange patches of grass that would grow in a circle. IMG_4037 copy And this colorful little cactus. IMG_4010 copy So mother nature taught me a lesson. I needed to relax and take it all in. If I didn’t make it to the canyon, so what? It’s not as if I had a reservation. So I moved on at a different pace and with a better attitude. I rode by this small canyon about 8 miles north of Kanab, Utah and felt the need to investigate. I found out most of the area is leased by an organization called Best Friends. They care for animals. It’s a remarkable place. The canyon itself is beautiful and it’s valleys are lush. It’s called Angels Canyon. IMG_4050 copy The shades of green between the white and orange rock formations are innumerable. I’ve never seen so many shades of green! IMG_4056 copy It was like the garden of Eden and I lost all care for time. IMG_4054 copy IMG_4080 copy Of course getting around here meant taking my Bonnie on another dirt road. IMG_4087 copy Here are some of the horses they care for. IMG_4096 copy I saw this garden with wind chimes and small markers on the ground. I thought it was some artist’s creation. It was very Zen. IMG_4097 copy IMG_4099 copy Upon further investigation I discovered it was a pet cemetery. IMG_4098 copy This is a memorial for all the animals lost in Hurricane Katrina. IMG_4111 copy For those that don’t know, the “Gumbo” in Nygumbo was my dog’s name when I was a child. I think Gumbo would have liked it here. Here is an old mule spending the twilight of his life in style. IMG_4145 copy It was time to leave this little piece of heaven on earth and head to the Grand Canyon. IMG_4117 copy Now there was no way I would make it there before dark. And, as I have mentioned before, I only have a high beam headlight. This would certainly be most annoying to all I come across and indeed it was. This one guy ahead of me started blinking his lights when I came up from behind. Then he put is hazards on. Finally he slowed down and signaled me to pass him. Then he blasted me with his high beams. I twisted the throttle and moved on quickly. After a long cold ride at an elevation of 8000 feet I arrived at the entrance to the North Rim to find a sign that read “CAMPSITE FULL”. I couldn’t believe it. I was under the impression that the North Rim was not a popular destination. WRONG! I remebered seeing a campsite 8 miles back. I went there to find the same sign, FULL. Then a pick up truck pulled in. It was the same guy who I had annoyed so much with my high beam. I apologized immediately. It turns out he is the host of the campsite. He said don’t worry about the light and he was sorry that he could not put me up for the the night. But he said if I don’t mind “dry camping” there was a dirt road I could pull off on and camp in the woods for free. Free is right about where my budget needs to be right now, so that was great. I drove down this dirt road for about a mile and found this nice spot where someone had already built a fire pit and laid out pine cones, kindling, and wood for a fire. IMG_4284 copy I took the campsite photo the following day after I napped from my sunrise excursion. I saw on a sign that if I rode down that dirt road another 3 miles I could get to the East Rim of the canyon. So I decided to get up at sunrise and check it out. IMG_4240 copy IMG_4212 copy The sunrise itself was beautiful but there wasn’t much canyon. I guess if there had been the National Parks Service would have grabbed this spot as well. After a nap I awoke again and headed for the North Rim at last. Waking up to nothing but the sound of wind blowing through the trees is a treat. Have you ever watched a birch tree as the wind hits it. The birch has little round shaped leaves, each one doing it’s own little happy dance as it glistens in the morning sun. Together they create a swooshing symphony you can hear as the winds travel through the thick forest. IMG_4289 copy First I scoped out the area around the lodge. IMG_4322 copy When it comes to canyon views, these vultures have it made.IMG_4292 copy After the lodge view I went to see the rest of the vistas. You have to drive down a 20 mile road to see the rest of the North Rim. IMG_4365 copy IMG_4460 copy While bouncing from one lookout to the next I met a family from France who was traveling with a couple who had recently moved to Page, Utah. It started when I offered to take a photo of them. Then they took one of me and so forth. I continued bumping into them from place to place and we would talk and take pictures. IMG_4379 copy This picture Christine took of me reminded me of my friend Thierry’s photos. He often turns the camera at a diagonal angle. Have a look at my links page to see Thierry’s work. It’s damn good. IMG_4505 copy IMG_4424 copy IMG_4462 copy It was funny, I kept saying goodbye to these people I met thinking it would be the last time, but then we would see each other again at the next lookout.

Learning from my experience the previous day I stopped to have a look at the local flora. IMG_4509 copy IMG_4519 copy IMG_4524 copy IMG_4544 copy IMG_4566 copy The families I had met must have passed me while I was taking these pictures. I noticed their camper stopped ahead of me in the middle of the road. Then I noticed everything turned orange. IMG_4571 copy A lightning strike had caused a fire creating this apocalyptic image as the smoke came before the sun. IMG_4569 copy There was one last lookout left and of course I saw everyone again and we shared our enthusiasm about the vision created by the fire. Jean Bernard offered me a Dr.Pepper. I hadn’t had one in many years. And as we took our last look at the canyon we noticed, what I found out to be, dust devils. Little tornados that blow up debris in the open valleys. It is very much like when you see the Tazmanian Devil show up in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. We saw one then another. There ended up being 4 all together in the valley far below us. Then I noticed something else. A rainbow appeared over the canyon. A perfect way to end this time at this amazing setting. IMG_4603 copy So we said our final farewells and I gave them the address to this blog since they were contributers having taken my picture. I stopped a couple more times. Once I pulled my Bonnie to the edge of the canyon. IMG_4640 copy I stopped again to talk to some of the fire fighters who had gathered at a lookout. They were distraught. They had no idea how they were going to get to this fire. It was not accessible by any roads, so they met to plan their attack. IMG_4659 copy Then 50 miles later, what do you know? There was the camper again as my new friends were admiring the Vermillion Cliffs during the setting sun. IMG_4667 copy When I mentioned my plan to find a forest road to pull off and camp on, Lloyd from Page offered to have me stay with them. He said there may be some of those forest roads ahead, but there is no forest. It’s all desert and cliffs. It was getting dark and there was no way I was going to find a road as I envisioned it. And it was a Friday evening. All campsites were surely filled. So I joyfully accepted the offer. These are some great folks indeed. I met up with them in Page and they set me up to sleep in the camper. We sat around, talked and had a couple beers. We were all tired so we called it a night. The next morning I awoke at sunrise again. The previous night Lloyd had shown me some photos of the views from his back yard. Truly impressive. I had to see for myself. IMG_4723 copy This is what they wake up to every morning! There is a golf course behind the house then a drop so this view is theirs for keeps. Not too shabby! IMG_4713 copy And here’s the whole gang! I can’t say enough how grateful I am for their hospitality and quality company. Thank you all so very much! From left to right we have, Lloyd, Sarah, Christine, Jean-Bernard, Maude, and your truly, Pat. IMG_4725 copy There is more to the journey but his blogging takes time and I need to crash. I’ll try to get everything up to date in the morning. Goodnight all!

NEXT DAY

Good Morning Everybody! I will just continue this post instead of starting another. I heard from Sarah. She told me I left my sandwich in the fridge of the camper. I realized that soon enough as I rode through blazing heat the next morning. She also informed me that the aforementioned North Rim blaze had closed that 20 mile rode of scenic views to the public. It’s all in the timing! So after a great night in Page with the gang I took their recommendation to backtrack just a bit to a place called Horseshoe Canyon. I am glad I did. Pretty cool huh? IMG_4732 copy Then I stopped at the dam which creates Lake Powell. Remember I camped at Lake Powell the week before. That was at a place called High at the opposite end of the lake. This is the Glen Canyon Dam. IMG_4744 copy I don’t know how I feel about dams. They destroy so much but then create a whole new interesting environment. I can say, I enjoyed my time along and in Lake Powell. Someday I’d like to go out there on a boat. Hey Nikki! Are you still doing that? So I continued the ride. Today was hotter than many of my days during this trip. I came across another spot Lloyd had recommended. It’s called the Paria Pass(or something like that). It is a 5 1/2 mile dirt road that brings you to an old movie set. Actually it’s the recreation of an old movie set since the first one burnt down. I figured since it’s all fake who cares if it’s the original fake town or another. Besides, the mountainous terrain had amazing multicolored stripes from the many layers created over millions of years. Beautiful. IMG_4766 copy

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So at about 4 miles down this road I came to a hill. This hill was eroded with cuts and grooves, potholes and loose debris. I figure with me on it my bike and I combine for at least 800 pounds. So of course I went for it! Holy Shit!!! To date this was the greatest challenge of my riding life. How I stayed upright is completely unbelievable. My guardian angels must have been holding on tight flapping their wings with all their might to keep me up. I was sliding, and fishtailing, and bouncing down this hill. Scared the hell out of me! When I got to the bottom I was a nervous wreck, sweating profusely. At the bottom of the hill I looked down at my mileage gauge. It read 666. I decided to turn back.

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But I’ll tell ya…had anyone been watching what I had done, they’d be saying, That is one crazy bad ass mother fucker!

IMG_4793 copySo thanks for that recommendation Lloyd. It truly tested my skills.

I decided to go check out the Pink Corral Sand Dunes. Those photos I had taken of the plants on the side of the road with the orange sand are adjacent to these dunes so i thought it would be cool. It turned out it was a costly state park, not included in my annual parks pass and you had to hoof it. I decided to pass. I did creep up over a hill to have a look though.

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I found this odd looking whatchacallit along the way.

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Then it was through Zion Canyon. Here’s the rub. Things have changed at Zion since I was last there 10 years ago. If you want to go through the part of the park with the river, you have to park and take a shuttle service during the summer months. That’s not for me. Had I been camping there I would have considered it, but there was a King size bed in Vegas calling me so I stayed on Route 9 and rode through that part of the park. Nice enough in itself.

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I met a nice biker couple who took this picture for me. They were totally digging Zion and each other. It’s nice to see happy couples. Sometimes as one travels you hear couples saying the most awful things to each other. It’s very distasteful.

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IMG_4913 copySo it was later to Zion and on toward Vegas. I did pass an elk farm and an ostrich farm on the way. Certainly worthy of a photo op.

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IMG_4969 copyFinally, Vegas. It seems strange, but I came to Vegas to escape the over stimulation of all the natural beauty and relax. That is just what I did. When I arrived at the hotel they told me they had run out of single rooms. So they upgraded me to a suite. And sweet it was! It was a crazy Saturday night outside and I didn’t care. I had a King sized bed and was happy to jump right in. The next day I went out for the champagne brunch buffet. I had checked another restaurant where an eggs benedict cost 13 bucks, so I figured a $20 all you can eat brunch was better for me. Boy was I right! I ate sooo much. I had tuna rolls, salmon rolls, mussels, clams, crawfish, shrimp, crab legs, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, bacon, sausage, roast beef, potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, iced tea and of course champagne. Then I went back to my room and slept some more. That evening I went for a quiet Sunday night stroll about town.

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After leaving Las Vegas I passed this beautiful rig. I was glad to catch up with it at a gas station later.

IMG_5060 copyLast year while traversing the nation I had planned on visiting a number of ghost towns. Unfortunately my laptop crashed and I lost all my information. So I was happy when I stumbled across Rhyolite, an abandoned mining community which was on my list last year.

IMG_5066 copySo that was yesterday. I will bring you more of Rhyolite in my next post. The clouds are clearing and over my shoulder I can see the snowcapped Sierra mountains. They are calling me. Later.

In my last post I left off in Rhyolite, a ghost town in Nevada.

IMG_5181 copyThis is what’s left of the old bank.

IMG_5160 copyHere is one of the mines which supplied the town with it’s profits. I could feel the cool air emanating from the depths of the mine. Most ghost towns are abandoned mining towns. Once the ore ran out the people left, leaving an empty town behind.

IMG_5172 copyThere were piles of old cans and debris from days gone by.

IMG_5090 copyI guess some artist’s community decided Rhyolite would be a good place for a sculpture garden. There were a number of sculptures around, this one being my personal favorite.

IMG_5218 copyUnfortunately I had to cross Death Valley to get into California. Last year when I went there it was 117 degrees in the shade. This time in was a balmy 115.

IMG_5256 copyThis thermometer was the only stop I made in Death Valley having seen it last year. After crossing in the blistering heat I got my first vision of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It was a surreal sight as the smoke from a fire to the South had blown into the valley. I decided to pull over to take a picture on what I thought was solid ground. WRONG! As soon as I hit the sand I knew I was going down. I even said it out loud, “Going down!”

IMG_5269 copyFortunately I was able to pick the bike up myself after unstrapping the rear bag. This was something I had wondered about. I was pleased to know I can do it on my own. I mean. it’s not the kind of thing you want to practice. The photo that was the cause for the fall turned out less than spectacular.

IMG_5271 copyI stayed at a campsite that night. At the campsite I met a nice gentleman from across the pond named John. Besides being a survivor of the “Big C”, John survived a hit and run while riding his Harley. Before that John was an avid rider. He still has an old Norton in his garage. We talked for a while and John gave me an extra token he had for the camp shower. Thanks John. Below is sunset from the campsite.

IMG_5302 copyAs I rode up route 395 I saw a small road that said ‘scenic loop’. I took it. It brought me to a beautiful vista 9000 feet up into the Sierras amongst the snowcapped mountains.

IMG_5324 copyThen I walked down into an earthquake fault. That was cool, literally. Like the mine I could feel the cool air from the deep in the crevice. There was still snow packed down in a part of the fault where I dared not venture.

IMG_5337 copyI may be a bit to confident at times. I keep taking poor Bonnie on dirt roads despite my fall in the sand.

IMG_5385 copyThis dirt road lead to a meteor crater.

IMG_5356Lake mono is a bizarre place. It is a salt water lake with a buoyancy 3 times that of the ocean.

IMG_5435 copyIMG_5451 copyI visited another ghost town called Bodie. This one was on my list last year as well. It’s one of the best preserved and biggest ghost towns.

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IMG_5508 copyI ended up crossing the Nevada border to camp last night. I found what looked like a nice site by a lake.

IMG_5590 copyIt looked like like a good site, but next to me was trouble. Trouble of the noisy kind. Meet Simka, she looks nice enough, but what an asshole. This dog barked at me constantly and barked at everything else through the night, and bright and early before 6am this morning. And during the night while Simka slept, one of the youngins next door awoke and cried for what seemed like hours. Ugh! Didn’t sleep well at all. I couldn’t get back to sleep after the dog alarm so I got up and moved on.

IMG_5586 copyI began my trek west across the Sierra mountains. I stopped to take a photo when another guy on a bike pulled up. His name is Lenny and he lives in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. He is on a hell of an adventure himsellf. He bicycled West to Washington. Then hopped on a sailboat around the state into the Columbia River. He then sold his bike and bought a small motorcycle to head back east. Very impressive. He keeps a blog as well.

IMG_5613 copyhttp://myfriendlenny.blogspot.com

So now I am just south of Lake Tahoe in a cafe with WIFI. I hope to make into the redwoods tonight for a good night sleep. If all goes to plan, tomorrow I will wind my way back East.

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As usual I overextended my planned mileage. I thought I would make it to the Redwood Forest. I was confident of this after speaking to Lenny. But Lenny took the fast road. I can’t blame him. The dude’s been on the road, (sea), for over 90 days already. When I wrote last I was just south of Lake Tahoe. The place ended up making me nuts. The lake itself is beautiful. If you have a boat and water skiis It would bet it great!

IMG_5631 copyIf you are just riding through however, it’s a nightmare. Aside from the log jam of traffic, the roads have to be repaired every year once the snow melts so they have flaggers stopping you for long periods of time.

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There is a river that offshoots from the lake, the Truckee River, where people innertube and raft. It looks like a blast, but I had no time for that. And that’s more fun with friends. I am not sure what this is in the picture below. I guess it’s some type of silo, but I have never seen one this shape before.

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I remember learning about geography as a young student. Even now looking at a road map, it’s easy to figure out where everything is. It’s simple to to follow the lines and get from place to place. But no one tells you about the ups and downs. I am not talking about emotions, I’m talking about elevation. On a bike this is important because the temperature variations are extreme. Riders Beware! It gets cold at 9000 feet.

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The Lassen Volcano blew up in 1914. It was active for 3 years. It’s at the southern end of the Cascades. I mention this because I was at the highest summit (over 9000 feet high) when the phone rang. It was my brother. He asked if I was in the Sierra’s and I honestly wasn’t sure anymore. I had been riding northwest through the mountains all day. It turns out the Sierras had ended and the Cascades had begun. Below is some thermal activity. Sulfur, smell like farts.

IMG_5657 copyMan, it got cold as I got closer to the volcano. I even stopped to play in the snow.

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It was getting late and I was on the dark side of the mountain now. The temperature was dropping and I had to get to the campsite. Finally, after many visually spectacular distractions I got to the campground. I rode around looking for a spot. Every site was full! Bad, bad, bad! Then, as I was making the final loop around the “tents only” section, a woman waved me down (happens all the time). She said they were leaving, they’d already paid for the night, and it was mine if I wanted. They even had a nice sized fire going which was great because I was cold from the ride. And by chance, the lady’s name was Bonnie.

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That night was a full moon.

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I passed my saw around the campsite. It cuts wood like butter, so when I saw people in need I had to share. In doing so I met a guy from Queens who works for a Hungarian TV show. He was at the site next to me with his girlfriend from Hungary. Then this morning I heard this guy chopping away with a hatchet. I lent him the saw too. He was camping with his wife. They are from Marin County. His name is Marcus. We talked for a while this morning. Good people.

I hadn’t planned on writing today. But it was cold this morning and I needed to warm up. I found a coffee shop and logged on. Later I will definitely make it to the Redwoods.

One Response to “New Orleans to California”

  1. James Garcia Says:

    You know- I can’t stop looking at these photos. I was just showing my wife some of them- simply BEAUTIFUL! You have a great eye! I am totally sold on the bike. I wasn’t sure which color, but I do like the green/white-w/ the fly screen-Love it! I hope you’ve sent these pics to Triumph. You could do very well( if you haven’t already) w/ these shots. What an advertising campaign(-no really!) The places you’ve taken Triumph to -what a Triumph! Great work !- and I know you had a great time doing it.
    Sincerely,
    James Garcia

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