I made it to Colorado a beaten and disheveled man. I had ridden 3 full days in blistering 100 plus degree heat through unmerciful open plains. Now in Colorado with the Rocky Mountains soaring high before me, it was time to rest. I found a cheap room at the Stagecoach Motel in Colorado Springs. It’s a real nice place where each room comes with it’s own carport, which is nice because I treat my bike as if it has feelings like a pet. I’ll give her a pat on the side of the tank once in a while and tell her she’s a good girl. It comforted me to provide her with shelter as well. We’ve been through a lot. Outside my room is a huge old apple tree. The lady who runs the motel told me the place was built in 1949 on a former apple orchard. This was the last of the apple trees. It is over 100 years old with a trunk larger than I have ever seen on a fruit bearing tree. The rooms are large with one of the most powerful showers I’ve ever had. I rested well here.
I went to visit a place in town called Garden of the Gods. It’s a nice enough place, but knowing what lies ahead on the trip, it doesn’t compare.
While riding slowly through the park my foot pedal came loose. Not cool! Last year my other foot pedal snapped right off. A park ranger lent me his knock off Leatherman tool to tighten it a little. I left my real Leatherman tool back at the hotel (a gift from my brother and his wife, thanks!). It is very difficult to get to this nut with anything but a thin fixed wrench. Of course I didn’t have one. Back at the motel I borrowed a tool from Rick, a neighbor with a Harley. He and his wife Debbie were touring around from Texas. He had a 1/2 inch wrench which was enough to tighten it a bit further, but I would have stripped it had I continued further. Bonnie is a British bike. I needed metric tools. I wasn’t going to sweat it for now. Today was a day of rest. I would deal with it tomorrow and start a new chapter of the journey as I traverse the great Rocky Mountains.
In the morning I headed to Pikes Peak. It is high in the sky. Notice the mountain goat.
Up at Pikes Peak there was this old fella sitting in the passenger seat of the SUV I pulled up next to. His name is Don. He used to ride until he pulled his hip out. That is also the reason he sat in his car as his family walked about Pikes Peak. Don said he has an old BSA in his basement. He can’t ride anymore, but just like Roy Rogers had Trigger stuffed to keep him around, Don can’t part with his old bike. So it sits. It’s funny we were having a great conversation about bikes, travel and survival. But as soon as I mentioned I was from New York City the conversation changed to politics. This happens a lot when I talk to old timers. It sucks, cause I don’t enjoy talking politics. It’s a dead end to otherwise interesting conversation.
After Pikes Peak I stopped at a Walmart to get a 12 mm wrench for my foot peg. Walmart only sold wrenches in sets. When I walked out there were two trikes parked next to me. One of the guys with the trike had the wrench I needed. That was the ticket. I tightened her up and was confidently on my way.
I spent a lot of time at Pikes Peak. It takes a while just to get up there and back. I planned on riding north toward Aspen and find a place to camp out in the mountains, but something drew me to turn around and check out a town I had just passed. I was so glad I did. Welcome to Buena Vista, CO.
I was hungry and it was getting late in the day. I still had no idea where I would stay the night. I rode passed this restaurant trailer. It just looked like the right spot. A billboard outside said Baja Shrimp Tacos was the special of the day. Mmmmmm! As I approached the place I could hear Sugar Magnolia playing inside. Groovy good! Sadly they were wrapping it up for the evening and closed the grill. No shrimp tacos. Boooo. But they said they could make me a chicken curry wrap. OK!
The folks running this trailer restaurant are Amy and Dave. Sincerely, two of the nicest people I could hope to meet. Real good people! I asked if they knew a place I could camp. Dave told me of a great place. A primitive site down a dirt road. Perfect. He said follow the dirt road along the river, then when I see the tunnels turn right and head up that road for about a 3/4 of a mile and I should see a BLM campsite. It started to rain and I flew down the dirt road staying ahead of the storm.
I don’t know what type of predators roam these parts, but apparently they don’t have a taste for hoof.
The next morning I bathed in the local river along side those tunnels Dave mentioned.
Then I returned to that restaurant and sat down with Dave and Amy. AND I had yummy shrimp tacos and something called jicama. It’s a type of root that tastes like a combination of apple and potato. Amy added a tasty citrus dressing to it and it was delicious. They told me about some sites to look out for on my way to Aspen which was great because I probably would have missed them. I really owed Amy and Dave a lot for making my stay pleasurable. And how did I repay them. I walked out forgetting to pay for my lunch! Ahhhh! Amy and Dave, please get in touch with me and tell me what I owe you! Text me, call me or leave your address in a comment here. You guys were super cool and I feel bad! Didn’t realize I walked out on you guys until I was on Independence Pass. So sorry!
Independence Pass is the road leading to Aspen from the south and it is beautiful.
One of the sites Dave mentioned was the old ghost town of Independence. This one I would have seen from the road anyway. I totally dig ghost towns.
This next place I would have definitely passed by if Dave hadn’t told me about it. He said to turn off at the sign for the grottos. It’s really cool and there is an ice cave there. Man was he right! Here are the cascades at the grotto.
And then I climbed down into the ice cave. It was surreal.
It may be difficult to tell from the pictures but the ground is all ice. And it was as if the cave was air conditioned. Excellent!
There was this brand new Mustang riding my ass in the mountains. I hate that. He ended up passing me on a blind curve. I screamed “Asshole!”, like Otto in A Fish Called Wanda. He then continued whipping around other vehicles after following them dangerously close. After a few more miles. The Mustang was holding up traffic, because Asshole ran into a large branch sticking out on a tight curve. Karma’s a bitch. Glad you met her asshole.
I stopped in Aspen for gas, but didn’t stick around. A long haired drunk dwarf was babbling to me about needing to get to the dispensary and asking if I had a cigarette. I told him I didn’t know what he meant. “What’s a dispensary?” He screamed, “What are you fucking kidding me man? WEED man!” Oh! I knew they had those in California. Didn’t know about Colorado.
I went to another ghost town outside Aspen called Ashcroft. It was a booming town during the silver rush of the 1880’s.
My plan from Ashcroft was to head to Route 133. I rode there a few years ago but the weather was awful. It was pouring and I couldn’t take any pictures. As I approached it this year it looked like more of the same. So I altered my route and headed toward Lake Ruell to camp for the night. On my way there I saw one of the saddest things. At first I was excited. A young fox was up ahead. My camera was packed away because of rain. Then I realized why this fox cub was in the road. It’s mother had been hit by a car. It was confused and didn’t understand why mom wasn’t getting up. As I rode by another pup was just sitting there totally staring at me as I went by. I nearly cried. These poor pups didn’t stand a chance. I made it to the lake for a night’s stay.
In the morning I rode by where the mother fox had been hit. You can see the stain. She had beed dragged away by either another animal or someone keeping the road clean (it was an affluent area). I stopped and looked for the cubs, but there were none to be found.
So I carried on past the red rocky terrain to resume my original path. And now the weather was perfect.
I stopped at the Redstone coke stoves. I don’t really understand the process or purpose for them but it had something to do with cooking coal to extremely high temperatures to produce coke.
While here I met a couple dudes on bikes, one of whom, Dylan shared my last name and another who shared the first name of my old buddy in Arkansas, Grady.
The rest of route 133 was a great ride through the mountains.
The environment here in Colorado is ever changing. From the chilly mountain air above the tree line to the hot desert climates in the valleys below, I moved up and down nature’s roller coaster. I turned north on to route 65 and headed into another mountain range. This one gave a spectacular panoramic view of the storms that often gather over the mountains in the afternoon.
As I descended the mountain it heated up fast. My chin got scorched! Maybe I should have kept those whiskers. They are slowly growing back.
This road winded through a canyon along a river for many a mile. Eventually it met up with Interstate 70 which I jumped on to take me into Utah. This was one part of a glorious day of riding.
This day wasn’t over. I ended up at my favorite spot to camp along the Colorado River in Utah, but Utah is a post for another day.