My Adventure Story
Summary of the trip: 8 days, 5214 miles and 18 states
Thursday (4/7/11) left Neenah, WI about 9:30AM this morning, and finished the day in Blytheville, AR
(northeast AR). It was kind of a cool, gray day, with a short spot of rain around El Paso, IL (just north of Bloomington
), but it was great to be on the road, in the wind! It was in the high 70's here in AR today, and the low tomorrow morning is supposed to be 60's! I think I will have to buy some shorts!!
Tomorrow I will meet up with Mark Hickey near Jackson, MS and then we will ride to Shreveport. Dinner and a short sleep in Shreveport and then off to Tucson
at 3AM.Day Two
Friday (4/8/11) was the ride from Blytheville, AR to Shreveport, LA, through Jackson, MS. The day started at about 60 degrees, but was overcast as I headed south on I55. The sun came out south of Memphis, and it turned into a beautiful day to ride. I55 from Memphis to Jackson, MS was a very pleasant ride. Believe it or not it was very scenic and very little traffic. It was green, and the road was filled with curves, hills, and lined by forests. As I got to Jackson I took a little detour on the Natchez Trace Parkway. I then met up with Mark Hickey in Edwards, MS, and we rode on to Shreveport to meet up with the rest of the SFFTTR riders. We had people from AZ, Colorado, Virginia, Maryland, Louisiana, and Canada there.
When we arrived we found out that instead of getting some sleep the plan had changed and we were leaving at 11PM Friday instead of 3AM Saturday! So we had dinner, cleaned up, took a nap in Jody Munch's room for about an hour, and then left for Tucson as the sweep riders. We ended up being the second group to arrive, as two other groups had to stop for some power naps in route. Our group consisted of Jody Munch, Mark Hickey, Alan Hayes (LA State Director), and Tony Taylor (a member of the Lafayette, LA chapter)
Saturday (4/9/11), when the sun finally came up it was a very nice day with plenty of sun. Even in the middle of the night it was 72 degrees, and clear as we rode across TX. It took us 13.5 hours to ride across Texas. let me tell you that in my opinion there is no reason to got to west Texas other than to get to the other side! When we got to the western edge we got to the Davis Mountains, and then the Guadalupe Mountains, they were very different yet beautiful. If we had time we could have done the Big Bend National Park, but we didn't as we were on a mission to get to Tucson. When we got to El Paso we found out that there were high wind warnings, and dust storm warnings in west Texas and New Mexico, but we went on anyway. As we headed across I10 west we encountered 35 to 45 MPH steady winds and gusts up to 60 MPH. It was interesting, especially when we hit the dust storms, on and off for about 100 miles. It was a "interesting", and challenging ride. The dust storms were worse than white outs in WI. You could see them coming, and the bike in front of you would enter the dust storm, and disappear, and when you were in it, you were pelted by sand, small stones, debris and tumbleweeds.
One of the folks in our group got hit by tumbleweeds three times! We survived, and came through safe into AZ. Frankly southern NM was just as boring as west TX. AZ was prettier, mountains, and beautiful vistas, but the temperatures dropped drastically. We put on our rain gear as there was rain ahead, and possible snow. The snow didn't happen, but the rain came down hard for the last 100 miles, and the temperature was in the low to mid 30's. Damn that was a cold miserable last 100 miles, but we made it through to Alan Cease's house.
There were Stars that made the ride, and other Stars from the AZ chapters there (about 30 people in all). Alan prepared a great dinner for all of us. He is starting a new hobby/business as a competitive BBQ company called the Toxic Toad. He barbecued pork, beef brisket, and ribs. He also made the barbecue sauces that we used on the meat. We had a great dinner, and hung around talking and enjoying each others company until 9:30PM!
Boy were we tired by the time we got to the hotel for the day! The entire ride took us a total of 18 hours, and was mostly uneventful except for the winds, dust storms, and the cold rain! One SFFTTR rider did have tire trouble in west TX, but we had a chase truck with a trailer driven by Vickie Trumbetic(Virginia) and Gloria Packard (New Liskeard, ON, Canada). Vickie waited for the group, and picked him up and he rode with in the chase vehicle to Tucson. All the riders made it through safe and sound with the last crew arriving about 7PM.
Sunday (4/10/11) the weather was still cold in the morning and foggy, but by noon the sun came out, and it warmed up to the high 50's. This was a day of rest and drying out!! We went over to Alan Cease's, and then took a great ride through one of the mountain chains, and Saguaro National Forest. It was very scenic, lots of Saguaro cactus, and the scenery was very Southwestern! It was a great ride through the mountains, and over the passes back to Tucson. We stopped at the Star Touring & Riding office, and everybody bought hats, and shirts, then we went back to Alan's and had lunch and hung out with the other SFFTTR riders that were still in town, Ron and Debi Green, and Alan and Ginger Cease. Very relaxing, and enjoyable We are in the hotel again, talking with Derek & Vickie Trumbetic, Gloria Packard, and Mark Hickey. Tomorrow I head for southeastern CA, and up to the Hoover Dam and then spend Monday night in Williams, AZ. Off on my own again! This has been a fun event.Day Five
Monday (4/11/11) dawned bright, and warmer, but not desert southwest warm! All good things must come to an end, and today the remaining SFFTTR riders departed Tucson
most heading in separate directions,
I left about 8:30AM, and headed west for California, and the Mojave desert. I followed I10 west through Phoenix to Blythe, CA
where I picked up US 95 north. The ride started out in the Colorado river valley
, but quickly transformed in to the Mojave desert. The Mojave is quite different from the deserts in TX, NM & AZ, it is actually more of a very arid mountain range. It was very beautiful. I hope the pictures turn out as I took them at 70mph!! At Needles, CA
it changed character in to the familiar prairie type desert. This short section of US 95 is part of the historic Route 66. I actually road parts of "historic" Route 66 in CA, NV & AZ today.
Got to the Hoover Dam
and spent some time being a typical tourist (taking pictures) but didn't have time for a tour, as I needed to get to Williams, AZ tonight so I could go to the Grand Canyon
early tomorrow morning. You are stil able to drive over the dam, but they moved the main highway off the dam, and closed the connection to Old US 93 so when you drive over the dam you end up turning around and driving back over the dam to get back up on the new US 93. Both the dam and the mountains surrounding it are very impressive.
Got back on US 93 and headed to Kingman, AZ
where I intended to pick up I40 and head east to Williams, but the lady at the gas station
in Kingman suggested that I take a particular section of historic Route 66 (also known as AZ Hwy 66) as an alternative, so I did. At first it was just so so, but then about 15 miles into the 80+ mile trip along the historic Route 66 route
it got very scenic. I could swear that this is the section of Route 66 that inspired the folks that created the scenery for the animated movie "Cars", I saw the hills that looked like the Cadillacs
hills in the movie, the Chief Pontiac
looking mountain, and there was a town named Peach Springs that could have been a model for the town in the movie. Wasn't that town call Radiator Springs?
I finished the day back on I40 but was soon reminded that they just had 24 to 27 inches of snow up here on Friday
or Saturday last week! The roads are all clear, but it is still on the grass, and I also discovered that AZ uses sand & cinders when it snows! The last 40 miles, in the dark was not fun as there was sand/cinders everywhere, and the melting snow was running over the road in some spots and getting ready to re-freeze!
Anyway, made it to Williams safe and sound. I will be heading out about 10AM tomorrow to visit the Grand Canyon and the Four Corners monument
. Hope the run off ice melts!!Day Six
Tuesday (4/12/11) also dawned bright and warm, but still in the mid 30's. Waited an extra hour for the sun to burn off any ice patches left over from the snow melting and running over the roads yesterday. Yes, I said snow! north central AZ (Flagstaff
and a radius of about 60 miles in all directions had 24 to 27 inches of snow, as I mentioned earlier, and it is melting quickly when the afternoon temps climb in to the mid to upper 40's, but it is still there so as it melts the water runs across the road, and freezes over night.
At about 9:30AM I met up with the few SFFTTR folks that are still in AZ, Derek & Vickie, and Gloria. The plan was to go to the Grand Canyon
for a couple of hours and then I wold depart while they continued their GC experience. It took us about 40 minutes to drive up to the park, where I received my first seniors discount (park entry fee). I had mixed feelings about saving money versus admitting that I was, in fact, old enough to receive the senior discount!
We parked, and checked out the visitor center, then hopped a shuttle bus to take us to the Yavapai Point. We spent about an hour walking the nearby trails, and taking pictures of the canyon. Wow, it is an impressive site, we could even see small sections of the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon. Then we hopped on the shuttle again and rode to Mather Point. Similar impressive views, but from a slightly different angle. We then walked back to the Visitor Center where Derek, Vickie and Gloria left for the GC airport to catch their helicopter tour, and I headed northeast.
I took US 64 east out of the park, and it was a fantastic ride, then took AZ 89 north for about 15 miles (boring) and then turned northeast on US 160. This was a fantastic ride, High desert (5 to 6K feet in elevation) but the mountains were all very colorful, and different as I took it almost 2/3's of the way across AZ to US 163. I then turned north and took an 80 mile ride through Utah
to see Monument Valley
. It was very impressive, and if you have ever watched a John Wayne western you have seen these massive stone monuments. They were as impressive in person as they were in those old movies! I left Monument Valley about 30 miles into this leg of the ride, and continued on through Mexican Hat, UT
to Bluff, UT
were I turned south again on US 193 to return to US 160 and finish the ride to the Four Corners Monument
. I got to Four Corners
(the intersection of the borders of UT, CO, AZ & NM) at about 7:30 PM
. I was in luck as the monument didn't close until 8PM! I did a quick tour of the monument, and took some pictures (hope they turn out, as the sun was setting, and the light was poor).
I then jumped back on US 160 south to US 64 east into NM. The entire ride today has beautiful scenery
, and the mountains were spectacular. I didn't get any pictures in NM because it was too dark, but the mountains were still fantastic. Stopped for the night in Farmington, NM
. Tomorrow will be a long ride from here through Dodge City, KS
, and hopefully ending up in Lincoln NE. I spent the entire day on two lane roads, not one expressway today. This was the first day of this entire trip where I was not on expressways for most of the day. So far I have put on over 3400 miles, and have traveled through 14 states. I will pick up slightly less than 2000 more miles, and travel through 4 more states to finish up the trip probably by Thursday evening
, arriving home in Neenah late that evening. The total trip should be a little over 5000 miles and 18 states.
This has been a great trip so far, but the least exciting states are the remaining states of OK, KS, NE & IA, but I am sure the ride will still be enjoyable! Day Seven
Wednesday (4/13/11) was another great day. The sun was shinning, but it was cool because of the elevation. Anyway, wore my extra insulation and gloves all day. That is too bad because that means no pictures, and that is a shame because today was probably some of the best motorcycle roads of the whole trip!
Yesterday doing the Grand Canyon
, and riding through Monument Valley
was great, and the roads in between were all very good, but today they were spectacular! US 64 through northern NM was a real treat to ride with all the twisties, elevation changes, mountain scenery, etc. Even the valleys were fantastic. The ride started out like the previous day with nice riding, but as I got closer to the middle of the state I encountered the first set of mountains that had to be crossed. The foothills took over an hour and a half and were the perfect appetizer for the main course. The mountain pass was snow covered, and about half way up the pass the ground was totally covered by the snow. At the top of the pass the snow was still a couple of feet deep. It got cooler as I gained in elevation, and the snow cover increased. The ride up and down was fantastic. In all it took me another hour and a half to get back down to the foothills on the other side, and they seemed to go on forever. But the best was yet to come.
About an hour west of Taos everything leveled out into high plains desert, and just straight roads, boring. Taos is a very small town, but has over the years become an artist's haven. There were some interesting looking dwellings (shapes, sizes, colors, windows, etc.) west of town, and everything in town is adobe buildings and a lot of art studios of all kinds. Interesting, but wouldn't want to live there, so just a quick gas stop, and I was out of there, couldn't wait for the next set of mountains on the other side of Taos.
This part of the ride was simply outstanding. It followed a stream (or it could have been several streams) and wound through the valleys with very tight, technical turns, changes in elevation, and over the next hill it continued to offer more of the same, over and over again! The valleys were very tight, and the scenery with the water, the trees, the hill sides, and the rock formations was great. It was just like a picture post card. It then let you out into a large valley between ranges, and once past Eagle's Nest, NM the road started climbing, and repeating the same series of hills, and valleys for another hour or so.
The ride was a lot of work, but just a blast, and a great way to finish out the trip. My shoulders, arms and hands are sore from all the work they had to do! It took me over 6 hours to cross NM, and if you took I40 or I10 across the trip only takes about 3.5 hours, but the time investment was well worth it. US Hwy 64 across northern NM is a fantastic ride, and I wish I could have taken some pictures, but even if it had been warmer, I was too busy riding to do the one handed picture taking trick. I have it all in my head, but to see it you will have to travel there and experience it for yourself. Of course I will be happy to be your guide!!
Hope to be home late tomorrow, but because the mountain riding took so long, I am about 2.5 hours behind schedule, and may have to stop one more time. Day Eight
Thursday (4/14/11), dawned gray and chilly. Saw the weather report and decided to do whatever it took to make it home before those storms hit the plains with rain/snow. Saddled up and rode hard all day through KS, NE and IA stopping only or gas/bathroom breaks. Finally stopped in Des Moines, IA for a quick, breakfast/lunch/dinner of two corn dogs, and a 5 Hour energy drink. This trip is the first time I have tried the 5 Hour Energy drinks, and those things really work! I think they made the long haul through TX, NM & AZ (over 1100 miles) safer, and it certainly helped me get through this day (about 1000 miles and 16 hours). It got quite cold when the sun went down, so I stopped in Cedar Rapids, IA and put on the rain gear as a wind break layer. It worked great and after two more gas stops, I arrived back in Neenah, WI at 1:30AM. Great trip, but you might want to add a day or two if you do it so as to have some more time to enjoy it!