2013 Coast to Almost

Well hello! It has been a while. I know, What can I say?…I’ve been busy.

As you may have seen in my last couple of posts (and you may suppose from my absence), I have been spending a lot of time with Jillian. An extended trip seemed unlikely for a variety of reasons. But in the end, both Jillian and I knew I had to ride. So I parted ways with my lovely rock n roll lady and hit the road.

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Maybe Jill can join us somewhere down the road apiece.

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In my last post I shared Jesse’s blog with you and now I share another. A guy named Trevor from Scotland shipped his bike over to the states for a three month adventure! He is well on his way, attempting to traverse the crusty remains of Route 66. Have a look and wish him well, http://ridingamericana.wordpress.com.

And so today began my trip. My trip to “who knows where?” I’ll hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway and see where that takes me.

I packed my bags, but hadn’t ridden in weeks. It’s likely the longest break from riding I’ve taken since I started riding. Once all the gear was fully packed, I went to pay my garage and check on the bike. Paid the bill and figured I’d start Bonnie up just to make sure she was ready. Turned the key and VROOOOOOM! It was time.

I ran a couple errands then back to the bike. I rode her to my apartment and parked her outside. Then I ran upstairs eager to get my gear. I loaded it all from the apartment to the elevator and into the lobby. Not an easy task. Then I went to put Bonnie directly in front of my building. I turned the key and CLICK. Noooooooooooo! Again. CLICK.

Ater some initial freaking out I went back to my garage where they had a portable machine made for just such emergencies. With the cables connected to the battery Bonnie started right up. I loaded the bike with my gear, dropped off the charger and got the hell out of a nasty urban heatwave that repulsed all senses. You can see the battery charger strapped on for it’s return to the garage in the photo below.

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I had to move fast. The doppler showed a major storm headed east. If I didn’t get ahead of it I was going to get slammed. I headed down to Maryland on a no nonsense I95 ride to visit my brother. I used to live in Maryland too. When my parents split I moved down here with my dad and finished my last 2 1/2 years of high school at High Point High. I could ramble on about this place and the many adventures with local inhabitants, but lets keep rolling.

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Finally as stormy weather approached I reached my brother’s house.

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My bro was still at work, but I received a warm welcome from his dog Yellow.

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Yellow anxiously awaits my brother’s return.

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My brother got home and we stayed up late. My original plan was to get up and go the next day. A late start and rain in the mountains today has delayed my start and besides Bonnie needed a good washing.

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So folks the adventure continues. I hope to share some good stories and photos along the way with my fresh, shiny ride.

It was good spending that extra evening with my brother. We don’t get to hang too often. There is a fire station near my brother’s house that has artifacts from the World Trade Center and the Pentagon from 9/11. Coming from a rip in this giant Trade Center “I”  beam is the decaying head of a bird. It looks like it may have actually lodged itself there, but I did not investigate further to see if the rest of the bird is dangling within.

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I like that my brother keeps an American flag hanging from the tree in his front yard.

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My bro put the trash and recyclables out to the curb for the morning pick up. I went to toss an empty bottle out and noticed a spider had already created this masterful cob web. Incredible!

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In the morning I was headed to Skyline Drive. Two hawks flying overhead assured me it was going to be a good day. I had seen this old mill from the road on the way to the mountains once before. This time I figured out how to get there. Beverley Mill is a massive stone structure (believed to be the biggest stone build building in the states) and was built in 1742. The Confederate Army burned it during the Civil War but it was soon restored and remained a functional mill until the 1950’s. It then stood proudly intact until 1998 when it was gutted by fire. I parked Bonnie and walked down some railroad tracks to get to the mill.

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I believe all the floors were still standing and the windows intact before the fire. Now just a shell remains being held together by a metal framework.

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On the other side of the tracks a bit deeper in the woods I found the remains of some other structure which I assume dates back to the same time period as the mill.

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Front Royal, Virginia is the last town before getting onto Skyline drive. Next to the gas station where I was fueling up was an old diner turned car dealer turned abandoned diner. A fresh rain had just dropped. This leads me to mention a new piece of equipment. Gaiters!  Not the kind one finds in the Everglades. Gaiters are a clothing item that cover the space from the boot to just below the knee. They are perfect for times like this when it has just rained. Keeps those pant legs bone dry and no water can drip down into the boot.

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At some points you are above the cloud line or sometimes actually in a cloud.

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I camped out on Loft Mountain. I stayed here last year as well. I nearly stepped on this guy later in the evening.

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A full moon set the ambiance for my first night out under the night skies.

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The next day I continued down the drive. It eventually changes from Skyline Drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway without interruption.

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I came upon this bizarre orgy of butterflies. They seemed attracted to some charcoal someone had dumped by Otter Creek.

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I pulled of at Meadows of Dan and stayed the night at Willville. Willville is a great biker only campground. I highly recommend staying here if you are riding the Parkway.

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Will (of Willville) recommended I take Route 58 West. It did not disappoint. Not only did it present some of the Americana decay that I like, it had some real twisty bits as well.

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On to Tennessee. This giant guitar was just across the highway from the visitor center as you enter the state.

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There isn’t really a straight shot across the northern part of Tennessee. It may be because of that water you see down below. That and the mountainous terrain cause roads to zig zag across the state as you head west.

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Tonight I headed deep into the mountains for another night of camping.

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This was bear country. I saw a fox run across the road, but the only critter to visit me this night was a toad. Ribbit.

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When I left off I was deep in the Tennessee mountains. The roads out here are a lot of fun to ride on. Twisty rolling highways zig zag across the country slowly bringing me west. Many of the roads are carved through the limestone mountains. In the photo below a giant overhang creates a nice cool shelter.

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For my girlfriend Jillian. There was another rock that said Jesus in front, but I moved it for the photo. Sorry Jesus.

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I saw what looked like a cave. I went in to investigate.

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I assume it’s a limestone quarry dug into the mountain.

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There seemed to be a labrynth of tunnels within. I didn’t have my flashlight with me so I could only explore the parts where the daylight shined through.

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As usual on these old highways there are a lot of places long out of business.

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This old house was beautiful set back off the highway.

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I got a little lost after breakfast, but found my way to a town called Red Boiling Springs. There I came across an great little motorcycle museum.

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It’s called the Cyclemos Motorcycle Museum. Let’s go inside and have a look.

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The guys running the place were super friendly. They invited me into the shop where they were working on this magnificent 1941 Harley Davidson Knucklehead. Like many of the bikes in the museum this bike belongs to Mike Wolf from American Pickers.

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Mike (the mechanic) was taking this baby apart and keeping all the dirt and grease in some coffee cans because Mike Wolf like the dirt put back on when it is running again.

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There is a yet unsolved mystery with this bike. There are these little lights on the solid front wheel. It is still an unsolved mystery as to how these little lights are powered. Mike told me to keep in touch through facebook to find out the mystery of the lights..

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This town also has some really old hotels from days gone by.

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I was in need of a new rear tire. I called the guys at the Triumph dealer in Madison, TN and they said they would squeeze me in the next day. Madison is just north of Nashville. So I booked a room for the night in Nashville. My hotel had a guitar shaped swimming pool.

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In Nashville they have a recreation of the Parthenon from Athens, Greece. When I arrived they were filming some kind of country video for a girl named Julliete.

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The main strip in Nashville reminded me a bit of Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

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The street is lined with bars pumping out live music and people partying.

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The next morning I was off the Castle Powersports where they hooked me up promptly with a new rear tire. The folks here were friendly and courteous. If you need help in the area give these guys a call.

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It’s always strange to see someone else riding my Bonnie.

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I was going to go north through the Land Between the Lakes and into Kentucky, but first I had a look at old Fort Donelson. Here you see old canons set up to take on the old ironclad vessels of the river during the Civil War.

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An old furnace in the Land Between the Lakes.

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Rain came down so I wasn’t able to take any photos of my Mississippi River crossing. Too bad, it was a beautiful bridge. I thought it would rain into the night, but much to my amazement the storm split and cleared right before me.

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I camped out in this swampy wilderness.

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I always like those old one movie theaters you find in small towns. Many have been converted for other uses but keep the facade intact.

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I was on old Route 66 for a minute in Missouri.

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I asked a local where I could camp in the area. I was lost for over an hour on dirt and gravel roads before finding my way.

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I finally found the campsite and chose a spot on the lake. That night it stormed. I was scared. I was in Kansas now and read on the weather app that north of me were 50 mile an hour winds and hail. They were warned to prepare to seek shelter. Fortunately by the time the storm got to me it had died down a bit. But still, everything got soaked.

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A couple years ago I passed by the home of Laura Ingels who wrote “Little House on the Prarie”. Here in Kansas I came upon that Prarie where they had built a replica of the Ingel’s home.

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Replicas are always a little disappointing, but it is the actual location of the old home. I was equally interested in the surroundings like this cicada and the softball sized walnuts.

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Sometimes on the road you meet some real friendly people. Sometime you meet an ass.

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I also like the old service stations. Like the old theaters many now serve other purposes.

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After many a twisty road, Kansas offers a straight shot west.

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I stopped by Meade, KS to see the Dalton Gang hideout. It was closed when I got there. As it was getting late and there was a storm ahead I figured I would stay in Meade.

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I stopped by a fleabag motel to ask how much a room was. While there I see a guy pull up on a Bonneville. When I stepped outside to say hi. He said we had met before. Really?? He said last year we talked for a while in Greensburg KS. Wow! This guy Danny lived in Meade. How strange to bump into him. Danny told me of a place I could camp for free in Meade and said he would be happy to show me. I grabbed a bite to eat and headed to his place. Below is his 2003 Bonnie.

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In Danny’s garage was a beautiful 1966 Chevelle he is working on and a 1978 Yamaha with only 5000 miles on it.

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Danny rode me out to a location where I could camp for free near a lake about 15 miles outside of town.

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The camping area was in an open field located behind a fishing hatchery with a few trees for strategic positioning. I got out my compass and chose a spot that would provide me with morning shade. Then I set up my tent and rigged the tarps for some extra shielded real estate.

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In the morning I returned to the Dalton Gang Hideout that was closed when I arrived the day before. The Dalton Gang began their careers as U.S. Marshals before turning to crime robbing trains. This hideout was actually their sister Eva’s home. A tunnel was dug from the house to the stables where they could make their escape. Of course this only worked a couple times but a place of history nonetheless.

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Visiting the location and adjacent museum of artifacts is interesting in itself, but the price of admission is truly made worthwhile if you chat it up with the curator Marc. He is a colorful, knowledgeable character who could easily blend in to any Western film. He has that cowboy look with a gold pendant of the Free Masons dangling off a chain from a watch pocket. We talked for a while about the Dalton’s, but then I noticed a framed picture of the cast from the movie Tombstone. That began a whole other topic, The Western film. We both like Tombstone a great deal. But he knew a great deal more, right down to the the very first Western and very first movie in general, “The Great Train Robbery”. Last year I was teaching my students the history of film and we researched and watched it. As a disclaimer, Marc also explained that the tunnel (as pictured below) was actually a dirt tunnel supported by wood at the time of the Dalton’s. It was later supported with stone.

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From Meade, Kansas I was going to head into Colorado. Things looked daunting ahead so I checked my Doppler radar. Sure enough, if I continued down my planned path I was destined for a heavy dousing of rain so I turned south. I headed toward New Mexico via Oklahoma. While passing through Oklahoma I rolled through Boise City. For the common traveler there is absolutely no reason to stop here. However, I am attracted to the desolate, once inhabited environments.

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The road I would have taken to Colorado would have passed through that downpour you see in the background. And that was only one in a long series of hazardous rainstorms.

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I have to be honest. As I often do, I was hamming it up for the photo. Usually I look like the fella in the photo below. The greatest challenge to touring as I do is mastering techniques to battle the natural elements. Sun and water are the greatest ongoing battle. Last year while passing through Moab, Utah I bought this fabric tube. I never really got to test it back then because I was riding east after the purchase where the sun spends most of it’s time on my back. This year I was able to test it against the Western sun. Mission accomplished. It is the first time I made it this far without looking like a raccoon from the goggles.

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I passed into New Mexico. The sun was going down and I still had many miles to go before finding a place to camp for the night, but I couldn’t help stopping to take a shot of this place glowing from the low sun.

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It was a scary ride to get to the campsite. Dusk is when the critters are most unpredictable. I passed a number of antelope (pronghorns) along the way and the bugs were bugging out right at that height which plasters your vision with debris and smacks your face harder than rain. But I finally made to the campsite for my first night in the Rockies. To be in the mountains after spending days with a flat horizon line is heavenly. It brings a euphoric peace to me. I love it here. At night I become mesmerized by night sky. Last year I began to figure out how to capture them in a photo. One of my challenges for this year was to master that skill. I hoped to have many opportunities.

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When I arrived at that campsite, I met a nice family. A couple of teachers from Texas, Shannon and Scott was with their two daughters and visiting father from Taos. They were very kind and provided me with a few logs for my fire. It was that fire that lit my bike in the photo below.

The stars out here are magnificent! I will miss them when I am back in NYC where the skies are obscured by the city lights. The shooting stars right now are remarkable. They are frequently criss-crossing the sky like a hockey puck in a Stanley Cup Finals.  Just fantastic!

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If you want to check out a great adventure that has been updated regularly, check out Trevor’s blog. He has the passion for adventure and the support to keep him going. Good stuff Trevor. Cheers!

I tried lining up my tent to be shaded with that single tree when that sun peaked over the mountain. A little more to the left would have been nice.

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Alan, the father from Taos rode this 89 Honda Translap. I wasn’t familiar with this bike. It’s a nice machine. Unfortunately Alan says finding parts is near impossible. If anybody out there knows of a place to find parts for this baby, please leave a comment.

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In the morning I wanted to check out Fort Union, but to get there I took the scenic way deeper into the Rockies.

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There are a number of alpaca ranches in the Rocky Mountains. This one was bountiful with freshly shaven alpaca.

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Along the small twisty highways one passes a few forgotten wonders.

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Then it was on to Fort Union. There was never an actual battle at Fort Union, but it played a pivotal role in the shaping of this country. The continued expansion westward by white settlers and atrocities by the military created a great deal of conflict for the natives. Naturally there was retaliation. As a result, Fort Union was established to protect settlers traveling along the Santa Fe Trail.

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The fort continued it’s purpose as a defensive post against a Confederate invasion during the South’s succession. Texas was moving north but with the help of Colorado’s brigade they were driven back before getting to the fort.

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After the Civil War Fort Union became a supply hub for the settlers and other forts in the vast area. Eventually the railroad came and that purpose became less necessary. I got all this info from the Park Ranger at the reception desk. She, like Marc at the Dalton joint knew her stuff and was easy to talk to.

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I came across this can top while roaming around. After having a look I placed it back where I found it.

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Though the foundations of the fort are original, National Parks Service continually layer the adobe exterior to protect it from natural erosion.

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Fort Union also had the most state of the art hospital in the entire country. Here are the remnants of the hospital below.

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Next I went to Pecos National Monument. Pecos, like Abo and Quarai (that I visited a few years ago) was a place where Native Americans lived with Spanish missionaries. In the background behind the pueblo ruins you can see the remains of the Spanish Mission.

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There was a recreation of a native kiva. I would love to have some land and build one of my own one day.

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Here is what’s left of the Spanish Mission.

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From Pecos I was headed north toward Colorado.

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I wasn’t going to make Colorado before nightfallI. I found out about a campsite off route 503. I  had to continue. I didn’t know however that this campsite was at the end of a long dirt road. The sun was going down so I had no choice. After conquering my apprehensions I was rewarded with a place to pitch my tent along a cliff overlooking this lake. Being so remote in a place I was unfamiliar with was a bit unnerving, but that is all part of the fun. Tomorrow, Colorado!

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I didn’t get a great night’s sleep camping on the cliff’s ledge. It wasn’t fear of falling over the edge. It wasn’t the thought of being alone amongst the wild animals. It was concern about humans. Although I was alone miles down this dirt road on a Tuesday night, there was plenty of evidence that this was a local hangout. There was garbage around. And there was graffiti depicting the initials of what I assumed might be a local gang. In NYC I am used to the city deviants of the night. But out here I was unfamiliar with who might consider this their territory. It was one way in and out on a dirt road with a harsh washboard surface, so if there was trouble there would be no running from it. I would have to confront it. I figured I was safe on this weekday night and would remain alone. Then I heard vehicles. Three sets of headlights were headed my way in the darkness of night. I was truly out of my element here. As the 3 trucks stopped at the edge of the cliff I listened intently. Much to my relief I could here the sounds of men and women laughing and having a good time. In my fantasy this was a danger zone. In reality it was a romantic spot to hang out with your loved ones. I fell asleep. Later I awoke to the sounds of the trucks pulling away. All was well. I am a silly man.

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The next morning I woke up, stepped out of my tent and saw a large hawk sitting atop a small tree. All the trees here are small. Then I looked over the edge and saw a coyote coming toward me. As soon as he saw me at the edge he quickly did an about face and disappeared. Unless your camera is set and ready, chances are you will miss shots of much of the wildlife out here. I packed up my backs and hit the dirt road. I did not notice the odometer in the photo until later. 55,555 miles on the money. I was just taking a photo to show the dirt road. Nice! I had consciously thought about taking this picture, then did it unbeknownst to myself.

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I road through a small town called Chimayo. It seems like a population mostly comprised of Native American/Spanish folk with a focus on the local churches. I had been to this area around Taos once before. I like it here. My plan was to visit some cliff dwellings I missed previously called the Puye Cliff Dwellings. After speaking to a local dude in a parking lot, I changed my mind. He said that Puye is on a reservation and they charge at least $30 for a visit. He also told me there were many other cliff dwellings in the area that one could visit for free. Perhaps on another trip I can plan that out.

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I am always amused at how folks use Jesus to promote things like agendas, politics or here Chile´.

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This funky bug was at a gas station. When I tried to lift him he hissed at me like a cat. Freaked me out!

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Having decided not to see the cliff dwellings I was headed north toward Colorado. Here in New Mexico the mountains still had a great deal of color in them.

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Once you cross into Colorado the mountains become lush with trees and the rock is generally grey.

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The roads here are a rider’s dream. If you look at the photo below you can see the road approaching the mountains from the valley, then it twists it’s way up switchbacking as you ascend.

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At times a switchback won’t do. They had to tunnel through to provide a road up here.

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As is always the case, there will be some roadwork along the way. Often times it is a welcome relief to stop and have a little jerky or other snacks while you wait for the one way traffic. The smells however clash heavily with the serene environment. PU.

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Many of the roads travel along rivers that have spent the last million years cutting their way through the mountains. Those same rivers have also provided me with a place to bathe over the years. This was Route 149.

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I connected with Route 50 and was headed for the very twisty Route 92.

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At the foot of Route 92 is a dam that creates the body of water you see above. On the other side is the beautiful Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. I was psyched to ride this road. I started zipping along, when suddenly I had to slam the brakes.  A huge 10 point buck had jumped into the road before me. He then did an about face and ran back up the slope to my right. By the time I grabbed my camera all I could get was his horns over the horizon line. What a thrill. Earlier in the day I had already barely missed hitting a chipmunk, a rabbit and a coyote. Crazy, wonderful day!

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Here is a close up from the same shot. Big Buck!

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The canyon was gorgeous and the road a lot of fun to ride on. At this overlook I met another rider named Roger. Roger was from the coast of South Carolina, but was hanging in Colorado for the month. We rode together for a bit after this.

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Roger was a more experienced and I have to admit better rider than me. We took turns taking the lead. I watched him handle those crazy turns like a champ. I ain’t bad, but I could tell he was better.

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See that smiling man in the photo. That would be his last. Circumstances back home have forced me to abort this wondrous adventure. I crashed in an old hotel called the Hitching Post in a small town called Crawford.

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The next morning I awoke to rain pouring down. It’s just as well, I was headed toward the Interstate. There was nothing more too see. Nothing more to photograph. My only view from here on in would be the pavement lined with cops pulling people over and the parades of joyous bikers headed in the opposite direction toward Sturgis. Each acknowledged wave from my fellow bikers felt like a slap in the face as I plowed through my 500 plus miles each day headed east. With every stop I make people ask, “You going to Sturgis?” I’d just smile through the pain and say “I can’t make it this year”.

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Sorry for the anti-climactic ending, but sometimes that’s how it goes. I rode over 2000 miles in 4 days. My hands and body were buzzing for days. Now I am home. That’s all folks!

Fact of the matter is I went home to meet my girl. We then booked a flight to Vegas, rented a car and road tripped around the 4 corners.

Though it is not motorcycle related I may as well add it to this post:

August 2013

Fire Island

I rode like mad for 2100 miles from Crawford, Colorado to New York City. I parked Bonnie and headed to Fire Island to meet my girlfriend Jillian.

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We then began plans for another trip out west.

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Fire Island is a peaceful private strip of land along the Atlantic where there are no cars.

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People either walk or more commonly ride their bikes to get around here on the island.

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We made a quick trip back to the city and then we would fly out of Newark Airport to Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Go West!

As we approached Las Vegas you could see Hoover Dam from the plane.

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Las Vegas

We arrived safely at the Mirage for a couple days of rest and relaxation before heading out on a 2 week road trip.

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The Mirage was great! We had a sweet room high up overlooking the strip.

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Our view of the Strip at night!

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A stroll through Venice.

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All You Need Is…

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The Mirage volcano would blast off periodically below our window.

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We used our hotel voucher at the buffet and pigged out on seafood and such. Our waitress Vicky was sweet but anxious to be done for the night. She told us she was getting a 12 pack and heading back home to her 6 cats. Oy!

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We could watch the Mirage volcano from our window.

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This Thai joint was opulent and delicious!

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Vegas was fun, but after a couple days we were eager to check out some of the country’s natural beauty.

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It was time to get our rented vehicle and hit the road. On the way to Enterprise we asked the driver of the van to pull over for a photo op when we saw the KISS wedding chapel.

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We picked up our little SUV and headed out for some adventure.

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Route 66

We road along part of Route 66 on our way to the Grand Canyon.

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There are a few spots to pull over for those nostalgic Route 66 shots.

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Seligman, AZ has a number of old places still keeping the Route 66 pilgrims entertained.

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Jillian captured this action shot of the only riding I did on this trip.

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Jillian’s animated stroll across the famous highway drew the applause of two old timers at the local ice cream parlor.

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The Grand Canyon

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The Grand Canyon is always breathtaking, (or was it that kiss).

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Balls of cacti.

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Y is for Yogababe.

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I’ve got some moves too!

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These elk calmly lie around the Grand Canyon campsite area.

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Beyond the tent of the left you can see a large bull elk. And you can see another cute little critter poking her head out of the tent.

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The Grand Canyon Lodge supplied some cleverly packaged crayons and coloring activities while we waited for lunch.

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Just after capturing this relaxing moment, that pink lemonade in Jillian’s hand continued to tip downward ending up in our laps.

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This large bull elk was magnificent. I ran back to get Jillian when I saw it. He was huge. We were eager to get some photos, but he quickly let us know we were too eager. He lunged at us with those giant antlers pointed dead at us. We would have been helpless if it were an all out charge. Fortunately it was just a warning to let us know we were too close. Scared the %$!& out of us!

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Jillian put the lantern in a white paper bag. It worked great dispersing the light evenly about. We used it the whole trip.

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Too tired and unprepared for a campfire meal, we opted for pizza.

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This raven struck a pose before diving off the edge.

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This is not a vulture. It is one of the California Condors that lives here in the canyon.

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After many near misses, I caught this lighting bolt at the last observation point in the canyon.

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Two Guns

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Two Guns was, in the past, the site of a major confrontation between the Navajos and the Apaches in the 19th century. Its modern history begins when the site is recognized as an easy place to cross Canyon Diablo–first, by wagon, and then later by motor cars. It was originally called “Canyon Lodge” when the National Trail Highway moved westward; when the Trail was re-named Route 66, the site’s name was changed to Two Guns, because the proprietor of the facilities located there was one Henry E. Miller, who called himself “Two Gun Miller” (for reasons unknown).

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During the heyday of Route 66, Two Guns became one of the numerous tourist traps along the way, with a gas station, overnighting accommodations, a food emporium, etc., as well as the zoo (signs of which are still visible from the Interstate). Two Guns went into decline with the building of Interstate 40. Remains: The old bridge across Canyon Diablo which was a part of the National Trail and Route 66 is still standing; there are also numerous ruins associated with the zoo, as well as the remnants of buildings associated with various eras of Two Guns’s past. There are also the abandoned (modern) gas station and the camp grounds buildings, both visible from the Interstate.

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This place was cool! There was no one around.

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Winslow, Arizona

Old Route 66 takes you through Winslow, AZ the town made famous in the Eagles song, Take it Easy.

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Well, I’m a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona and such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me

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Winslow had a few old weathering businesses from the hey day of Route 66.

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Flying J – Good to go!

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As we drove east after Winslow we took an occasional exit to see other bits of the old 66.

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Wigwam Motel, Holbrook, AZ

Route 66 goes through the town of Holbrook, still rich with with the kitch of former tourist traps.

The Wigwam Motel is a perfect example.

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Unfortunately the Wigwam was fully booked for this night, but we stopped for photos.

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These beautiful old cars sit in front of each wig wam motel room. Though many of the old rides are weathered and rusting this 51 Studebaker Commander was in mint condition.

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This 59 Chevy was has some of the coolest lines

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There are a number of rock shops in the area.

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Petrified Forest

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The Petrified Forest offers a remarkable landscape of various colors and textures.

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We had fun goofing off around here.

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On the far end of the Petrified Forest was the Painted Desert.

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Feeling mighty patriotic here!

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We were headed East before going North toward Utah.

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New Mexico

We hadn’t planned on crossing into New Mexico. The road that ran North in Eastern Arizona was closed, so we were forced to stay the night in Gallup, NM.

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This road is called The Devil’s Highway as it used to be Route 666. It was changed in 2003 to Route 491.

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Utah

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Ah, Utah. The landscape in Utah is endlessly entertaining.

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Monument Valley on the local reservation is an iconic site seen in many movies from John Wayne’s  Stagecoach to Forrest Gump.

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The original plan for the evening was to do some primitive camping in the Valley of the Gods.

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Although the rainbow was beautiful, the storms all around brought fears of flash flooding so we looked elsewhere for camping.

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Bluff, Utah

We ended up camping at Sand Island along the river outside of Bluff, Utah.

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I made a semi private shower in the morning. I had to walk pretty far for water and I must say that shower bag is not light when full.

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In Bluff there is a historical site which has developed a great deal since my first visit here 6 years ago. One of the folks here, Frank took our photo for us. Then he told us to make sure to pass by the visitors center were his wives were working. Yes wives.

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From Bluff we headed west on Route 145, a small scenic highway that led us into Colorado.

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Telluride, Colorado

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Jillian had friends in Telluride who were able to get us a great deal at a fancy hotel spa called The Peaks in Mountain Village.

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The mountains in the background are supposedly the same as you would see on Coors beer packaging.

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To get from Mountain Village to the town of Telluride they offer free gondola service. It’s great! We shared a gondola with some kid who just went down the hill on his mountain bike. He gave us some info about  Telluride and provided a vidid description of getting a “nutter” on the way down the mountain.

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The hotel had a spa with pools, hot tubs, dry and wet saunas and a super fast water slide!

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I sported a variety of hair styles here in Telluride. This is my chia pet fro.

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And here is my Siamese hair share.

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After a lovely ride down the mountain in a gondola we had some yummy Thai food in Telluride.

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The next day we met up with Jillian’s friends Jen, Patrick and their one year old son Justus. We walked about town and got some insight into the town’s history and present day going’s on. Real nice people and we totally forgot to take a photo with them.

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From Colorado we were headed back to Utah. On our last pitstop in CO, this pup was sitting comfortably against the truck cabin. When I approached to take a photo he moved closer. Was this the movement of the humble crouching canine looking for a gentle scratch behind the ear or was it the stealthy stalking of a trained hunter about to go for the jugular? Fortunately he was the humble type, but that is what went through my head.

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The Bedrock Store is for sale. A very appealing store on the road less traveled.

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Back to Utah! Yahooo!

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Arches National Park

We headed for a night in Moab and Arches National Park.

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I waited for a rare moment to catch this little arch without a crowd of people.

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There were some powerful storms scattered about in Arches.

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When the sun opened up on this spot with the dark background we had a couple take out picture. By the time we did the same for them the sun was gone.

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The weather patterns were unpredictable and because you have to walk far distances into canyons you never know if you’ll get caught in a scary situation.

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I noticed this lizard crawling around and got to taking some photos. Within no time I was surrounded by the large shadows and boisterous enthusiasm of Germans. There were Germans everywhere this summer. A few years ago it seemed French was the language most spoken in every National park. This year definitely German.

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Just after taking photos by this arch ( part of which fell a few years ago), a storm hit. We were at the far end of a long dirt path. Lighting was popping loud all around us. We were at the mercy of Mother Nature’s wrath and it was frightening and fun!

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Canyonlands

We headed out of Moab and stopped by Canyonlands. There wasn’t a lot of daylight left but we figured we would see what we could. Those storms were still gusting all about.

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Canyonlands is vast and far off the main road but well worth the excursion even if it is just for one long gaze.

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Once we got to this spot overlooking Green River, we just sat there until the sun went down.

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And the storms raged one.

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Green River, Utah

We rode into the night and ended up at a shithole motel in Green River.

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Green River, it turns out is the melon capital of the west. We bought a few melons. We also stopped at a local spot for breakfast where I had green eggs and ham.

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Goblin Valley

If you’ve not been here, Goblin Valley State Park is a must see.

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This is one of the most surreal landscapes your going to find.

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There is an endless field of these organic looking mounds.

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And within the mounds are various paths that lead you to alcove made of giant prehistoric sand castles.

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And inside some of these castles are interior caves.

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Come here prepared with lots of water and something to eat because you will want to explore and it’s easy to lose track of time.

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I climbed to the top of one of these giant mounds and the view was spectacular.

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Between Hanksville and Capitol Reef the sky put on quite a show with black and blueskies, lightning and rainbows.

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The patterns left by ATV’s leave unusual semi-circular patterns on these already textured dark gray mounds.

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Capitol Reef

Twice a Utah beer bottle broke while opening it. The second time I cut my finger on the broken glass. I knew the alcohol content was lower in Utah but this gash in my middle finger is a harsh deterrent.

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We cooked for the first time on the open flame. We did everything in the dark including pitching the tent. Got a late start because we enjoyed Goblins so much.

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We burnt the outsides of the food, but the inside were yummy good!

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From Capital Reef we headed south down Route 12.

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Grand Staircase Escalante

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Bryce Canyon

The weather sucked when we got to Bryce. It was cold and wet. Not ideal camping weather at all!

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We had a look at a few overlooks and headed toward Kanab for the night.

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Kanab, Utah

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In Kanab, UT is a museum with movie sets from various westerns. Tha shack behind Jillian was used in The Outlaw Josie Wales.

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You can see the shack at 1:42 in the following clip.

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Page, Arizona

While on the road I got in touch with my friends Lloyd and Sarah in Page, Arizona.

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I met Lloyd and Sarah in 2009 while exploring the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

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They invited us to stay with them for a couple days. It was our vacation from out vacation before heading back to Vegas to fly home.

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Lloyd helped book us a kayaking trip in Lake Powell while we were there.

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Just like out time in Telluride We didn’t take any pictures of our friends! Duh! We had a real nice time staying with our gracious hosts in Page. This night sky was taken just behind Lloyd and Sarah’s home.

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Horseshoe Bend is another must see in Page.

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Here you look down on a twisty hairpin turn of the Colorado River before it enters the Grand Canyon.

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Below is the dam that created Lake Powell.

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Zion National Park

We could have taken a more direct route back to Vegas for the last night of our trip. Instead we backtracked a bit and went through Zion National Park.

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Zion is a mighty fine looking place!

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A herd of mountain goats were hovering above the road on a rocky ledge.

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Looking back at Zion as the sun sets was beautiful.

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This smiling ass in front of the strange purple roofed structure was the last thing worth seeing before the sun dropped.

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Las Vegas

We ended up booking a night at the Luxor to change it up a bit. Bad Move. The mirage was sooo much nicer. The Luxor sucked. But we just needed a place to stay. We were exhausted and had a plane to catch the following day.

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One last look at Vegas as our plane took us back home to NYC.

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Two very different equally awesome journeys had come to an end. The Summer of 2013 rocked!

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