Rides & reports of motorcycle adventures..

6/10/12

Grand Canyon 2012


I'll set the stage first.

Tom, from prescott, is riding a honda 650 xrl, &; 2 of his riding buddies from California came over to ride with us.  Terry, also on a honda 650xrl, &; Bill on a honda 650xrr.  Kim &; i are in sedona.  Kim is riding a kawi 250, &; i'm on a yammie 250wrx.  All are moderate to excellent riders, the youngest is pushing 50, &; Tom broke 70 some time back.

Tom, Bill, &; Terry ride over near sedona.. mostly on dirt, &; we head up stoneman lake road, &; go through mormon lake &; wynona ranch road up to flagstaff.

Up near mormon lake, it is near 7k ft elevation, &; it is nice &; cool in the pines.  Here are Kim, Terry, &; Tom coming down the road.

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Wynona ranch road is where the boulders begin, &; the road gets interesting.  We had a few gnarly spots on the way, but they start increasing in intensity here.

Terry is leading the way here, picking out a safe line through the boulders.




Wynona ranch road is a  great day ride that we like to do at other times during the year.  It makes a great inclusion in the grand canyon ride.  It's not too long, or too rugged, but is challenging &; scenic.. &; it's on the way to grand falls on the rez.




We gassed up &; had a snack when we got to flag, then continued on up leupp road toward grand falls.. aka, chocolate falls.  There would be no falls today.  The road to grand falls was sandy, wide, washboarded, dusty, &; fast.  Tom passed all of us &; got to the falls first.

Here are the riders:  Me, Kim, Tom, Terry, Bill.  Behind us is the mighty grand falls.  This is the little colorado river, &; here it is mostly a spring runoff from the white mountains in central eastern az.  It also flows during summer monsoons.

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We took another short break here, then continued along reservation roads to cameron.. about 40 miles through sandy washes &; long flat roads.

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We saw some wild horses in the distance, but since they have spring foals, they usually don't come close.  They are hunted &; caught by the Navajos, &; stay away from humans.  Very rarely we've seen them within a hundred yards, crossing the road, or galloping up into rocky heights.

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This section of the ride is one of Tom's favorites.  If we dare suggest another route, he would pout for weeks, so we now consider the ride through grand falls as essential to the grand canyon destination.  It is a fun ride.. the roads are sandy, there are some washes you have to go through, &; some rocky sections to keep you alert.



We very seldom see any vehicles here, but we did cross paths with an advrider on a yamaha going the other way.. but neither of us stopped to chat.  There are a few older hogans, &; some inhabited trailers &; small homes that the ranchers live in.  But it is  very isolated.  You feel a long ways from civilization, which is what we want.

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There were a few spots where the sand got deep or blew over the road in long heaps.  If you kept your speed up, they weren't a problem.

Eventually we made it to cameron, where we would cross the little colorado river again.. this time over a bridge.  We would double back to gray mountain, where we connected with the gray mountain truck trail, another fantastic road going the way we wanted to.  This was still on the Navajo reservation, &; was a very rugged road.. lots of rocky climbs, turns, dust, &; more wild horses.

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The gray mountain truck trail mostly climbed up to 7k ft.  We dropped below 6k at cameron, but climbed again.  The views were long, &; it was still very sparsely populated.  There is one ranch early on the gray mt trail, but none after that.

This clip has a short view of some horses galloping over a ridge at the beginning.



About 1 minute into the next clip, there are some more wild horses crossing the road in front of me.. a mare &; her colt are on the left, not being able to cross in time.



At the very top, you can see the little colorado river canyon below.  This is the same river that we crossed at grand falls & cameron.  We would see it again in a few days on the cape solitude ride.

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We came down the switchbacks, and proceeded down pavement for a few miles until we came to another dirt road.. a blue-gray gravel improved road.  Not far to the grand canyon lodge, now!


These videos are all in high def, so you can switch them if you have a fast connection.. it makes the rocks bigger & the offroad look tougher.  Mostly it increases detail, so you see things better.

Coming down the switchbacks to hwy 64.


Fast & dusty on graded gravel.


We came from the east, & followed what used to be a nice dirt road.. we seldom saw any cars on it, but for some reason, the park service felt the need to grade it & dump loads of blue gray gravel on it, which made it very dusty.  We had to spread out a lot on this road.  But eventually it brought us into the park, & we rode to the village & checked into our hotel.  Notice the difference in vegetation between the last video & the next one.  We start getting into pines again, as the elevation gets back up around 7k ft.



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Some of us split a pizza, had some beers, & watched a basketball game on the bigscreen.. no camping/roughing it for us!  I had been turkey hunting & camping with my son for the previous 4 days, & this was the lap of luxury for me!

But no trip to the grand canyon is complete unless i get to stop by & visit my mule friends.. they always listen attentively, nod to me with understanding, & are very sympathetic to all my troubles.  The other guys don't seem to understand the deep spiritual connection i have with the mules.. plus they like the apples i bring them.

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Kim & i got about 150 miles in.. the other guys added about 80 more.  The roads were long & dusty, but we made it without any real trouble.

end of day 1.

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Day 2.

Tom's shoulder has been troubling him.. he had tommy john surgery on it a while back, but he still can't throw fastballs, or ride very long.  Terry, too had not ridden much in the last year, so 2 long days of riding were enough for him.  Kim was glad to have the other guys make excuses, so he would stay with them.  That left Bill & i to ride this day.  We met at the maswik cafeteria & had a hearty breakfast, then we suited up & left the sissies to sachet around the park while the real men went on a ride.

Bill was low on gas, so we rode out on the dirt to tusyan & gassed up.  Then we ran down some very dusty roads until we got near the rez.

We rode out to the west.. toward the havasupai reservation, but stopped short of there & cut through some nice 'almost' single track.  These roads were pretty tight, & snaked their way through the woods.  Bill doesn't get much of this kind of riding in s. Ca, so it was a nice change for him.



We got some dead ends.. i hadn't ridden this in a few years, but we eventually found our way through.

Along the way, we came across the same old truck that Tom & i had seen a few years back.. it is on a very remote, rugged road, so hadn't changed much that i could tell.  We think it is an old dodge, but there are no markings.  The story behind it is when Tom got out of the rough riders, he came out west to watch over the grand canyon for Teddy.  When motor vehicles became available, he picked up this truck to ride out to the rim & watch for poachers or squatters.  Anyway, here is Tom's old truck:

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The destination overlook was near the bass trail head.. some  cool views to the west.

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We took a break here, then headed for an old fire tower.  Not really grown up yet, we could not resist the urge to climb up it & look around.

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Bill was able to get a faint cell phone signal, so made the best of it by sending a picture of the views.  It took a while, but made it.  We climbed down & continued our adventure.

A few years back, Tom & i had ridden a road south from the tower, but it kinda disappeared.. we lost it & found ourselves wandering in the trees & brush until we could make it to a little more recognizable road.  This information did not deter Bill in the least.  He wanted to see if we could get lost, too!  Armed with his trusty gps, showing very little information, other than were were in az somewhere.. we headed across the remnants of a road.

This is long.. for my clips.. over 10 minutes.  I include all of it as proof that we didn't get lost, nor wander for days in the scrub pines & chaparral.  Bill was able to see time worn remnants of a trail, & he stayed on it.



The dirt roads on this side were very rutted.  You had to be careful in those or they would pitch you over the side of the road.  It was also quite dusty, & we took turns riding point.  My gps had gotten a glitch, & i lost my topo maps & some other reference points.  All i had was some way points on a blank screen.  There were a lot of roads criss crossing & going every direction, & many were not on the map & none were marked.  We found a gate back into the park.. we had been out of the nat park for a while.. & followed a bee line road back to the village.  It had some rocky sections.. some nice steps & ups & downs, but nothing we couldn't handle.  We were back in town by mid afternoon.  We sauntered over to the ice cream shop & indulged in 2 scoops of dryers finest.  ..not a bad lunch, but we'd need dinner in another hour or so.  Tom missed his long island iced teas, so we stopped at the bar & Bill bought everyone a round.  We drank to his generosity, & then staggered back to the rooms, it being almost dinner time.


Terry was back from being a tourist, & we all went back to the cafeteria, then back to the rooms where Kim, Tom, & i watched another playoff game in basketball... well.. i made it to halftime, then drifted off.

End of day 2, for me..

Day 3.  The search for solitude.

This is the highlight of the ride for me.  The destination was Cape Solitude.. at the confluence of the colorado & little colorado rivers.  It is a long, rugged ride, starting in the park, then going into the rez, then back into the park.  We go from pines to sage & grass.  We have steep, rocky switchbacks, long sections where the road almost disappears, & a few turnarounds & backtracking.

We start early, since it will be a long day.  We grab some breakfast at the cafeteria, then head out toward the desert view tower at the far end of the park.  It's about 30 miles through 7-8k pine covered roads, & at 8am it's pretty chilly.  There are 4 of us, as Terry had to go back home this morning.  He left earlier than we did, to get a jump on the long ride.

Some of my videos don't have any sound.. my camera is getting old, & i guess dust has gotten in & makes a bad connection with the mike.. not a big deal.. you can only hear motor & wind noise, anyway.  Also, remember to change them to high def if you've got a fast connection.. the detail is better.

We got to desert view, gassed up & started down the switchbacks.  Some of these are pretty rugged.. rutted out, loose rocks.. tricky riding, but we all made it ok.  This first section is one of my favorite view rides of all time.  You ride along the rim of the grand canyon, with killer views at every switchback.


Then we head away from the rim, toward the reservation.  The vegetation starts to get more sparse as we descend in elevation, & things open up in the distance.  But the roads stay pretty rough.


By now, we're on the rez.  ..very few ranches.. sometimes we'll see wild horses, but not this time.  We go for miles & hours through these rough, lightly traveled roads.  Very few people get out to the cape.  Near the 4 minute mark in this video, i go off the road on a steep climb, & have to get reorganized to get back on track.


There are some pretty steep, rocky sections, with high steps in them.  You'll go down one, then up the next.  We take few breaks, but we have a long ride ahead of us, so you never get much of a break.. the road is always bringing up a new challenge & something you need to be alert for.


I'm still having some problems with my maps.. i had some nice topos loaded, but they got glitched out somehow, so all i have is the regular maps that come with the unit.. they show some dirt roads, but not all of them.  They also show some roads that aren't there.  I follow one of those roads to a gated fence.  We get through it, but the road disappears & we have to turn back.  We get back on track after a short side detour..  There are 2 really big, steep, rocky climbs we have to do before we get to the cape.  This is one of them.  I have to stop at the top & let my heart catch up with the rest of my breathing.


By now, the road is less traveled.  It is clearly marked, but no vehicles have been on it for a while.  We still are winding around, going up & down some pretty steep, rocky sections, but the destination is worth it.



There is one last climb.. possibly the gnarliest one.. that we have to go up before we reach the cape.  I try to keep my speed up, because i remember it from before.. very steep, lots of steps, loose rock.. all the things that make riding this fun.


We finally climb the last rugged section, & have a little bit of easier riding for the next few miles.  Here's where the views start to open up, & glimpses of the canyon come to view.  This is what we came here for!  The long ride has finally brought us to our destination.  We have found Solitude.  Cape Solitude.


Cameras just cannot capture the grandeur of these views.  We were all awestruck by the distances & both rivers below.  The little colorado is turquoise green, from travertine in the water upstream.  It is very cool.

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I this shot you can see both rivers coming together.. the next picture shows the confluence.
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Here are the riders that made it to solitude:
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We stopped for a snack.. stared at the vast expanse, & pondered the meaninglessness of the other guys' existence.  But we knew we'd have to ride back, eventually, & there were ominous looking clouds in the distant southeast.  We got ourselves psyched back up & headed back the way we came.

I didn't take any more videos, and we didn't have any significant problems to record, anyway.  No one crashed, had bike problems, ate a big sandwich, or any other photo worthy event.  We just bounced along on the bikes & returned the way we came.

But we didn't go back up the switchbacks by desert view.  No, we went up the infamous gray mountain truck trail.. this time from the north side of hwy 64!  My camera ran out of juice, so i was not able to record this groundshaking event.  But we did stop at an old hogan.  Bill got closer for inspection.

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At the top, we came back to hwy 64 & most decided to head back on pavement, through the park.  But Bill was not through with his adventures.. He followed a dirt road, missed a turn, then followed another until he got back on the blue gray gravel road we came in on.

We were tired.. but went to the cafeteria for dinner.  No one wanted to sit in the pizza bar to watch tv, so we walked over to the market & bought a 6 pack to take back to the rooms, where soft beds & easy chairs awaited.

End of Day 3.

Day 4 was uneventful.  We had breakfast, then Tom & Bill rode back on the pavement to Prescott, while Kim & I took the pavement through Flag back to Sedona.

1/24/12

Oct. 2011 Utah ride, Moab white rim trail

Tom & i got up early, had a nice breakfast at the hotel, then rode out of moab to the white rim trail. We went along the colorado river, then past the potash ponds to the trail. We were hoping the road was open & we could do the full loop.

It was a chilly morning, but as the sun rose it warmed for us. We had no bike issues, & the sky was pretty clear.



We stopped at Musslemans arch.. Tom is demonstrating how he would ride across it, if they would let him.



The scenery along the white rim trail is fantastic. Next to the grand canyon, this is my favorite view ride. But the white rim ride has everything.. rocky switchbacks, wash crossings, long sandy stretches, etc. It is challenging, scenic, & without a doubt one of the best motorcycle adventure rides out there. You can do it in a day, & there is more to see than you can remember.



The audio got lost in this one.. my contour hd camera is having some technical difficulties.. sometimes the audio does not get switched on.. not a big deal, the audio is pretty useless. All you hear is motor & wind noise. But it does add to the video effect.

You can see by the long shadows that it's still pretty early in the ride. We hadn't gotten to the 'white rim' yet.



If you've got a fast connection, turn up the resolution on the videos. I recorded them in HD, and the detail is better if you can download it. In this clip, we come up on the edge of the rim. The whitish colored rocks along the edge give the trail it's name.



It is mostly rocky in the first part, with a few bits of sandy roads sprinkled in. There are also some switchback sections, where it is loose & sometimes stepped.



Every so often there are some very cool rock formations.. it is amazing how they can form from just wind & water.



We came upon this little section.. it had a rocky section.. a little steep, but nothing too bad.. i just got on the wrong side of the trail & bounced off. I landed on my feet like a cat & let the poor bike crash by itself. I picked it up, rolled down the hill & came up with no problems on the second try. Tom just yawned as he rode up it.





This is the section of trail that goes up to murphy's hogback. It sometimes is very loose & torn up from use, which makes it more difficult on a bike. It wasn't too bad this time.



The views from on top are always magnificent.



After another climb, we start following the green river & get down to the sand. We try to keep our speed up.. the sand is very dry & loose, & a bit of speed helps to get through it. It was very dusty, & whoever was following had to let the dust settle a bit or you couldn't see the road. This is a long clip. It also has a climb through some rocks, follows along the cliff, then goes back down to more sand. It was a little steeper, had more turns, & was looser, and longer than the murphy's hogback climb.



This is the final section winding along the cliffs above the green river, then heading back down into the sandy valley. The sand along here was the worst, & was very loose going down the switchbacks. This is another longer clip, but has great views along the river cliffs, & has some interesting riding terrain, too.



After this, we had few climbs until we get to the big switchbacks at mineral bottom road. But we still had lots of sand.. i rode behind, & the dust was so bad i couldn't get any videos. It was nice along the river, & several times we were just at the water's edge.



This was the final climb on the switch backs that got washed out a couple of years back. They had only been finished for a short time, & of course the riding was smooth & easy.



We got up on top, took a wide graded road to some pavement, then rode the rest of the way back to moab. Dinner, cold beer, & back to the room for a rest. Tomorrow, we head to hanksville!

Oct. 2011 Utah ride.

We may think we're just taking a ride, but in reality we're continuing a quest started long ago by our ancestors. I've thought a lot about my rides.. the places I've ridden.. the people i've ridden with.. the adventures & events that happen along the way.. & i've come to the conclusion that i'm not just going on a ride, but a holy quest.. a search for meaning & the purpose of life.

So now when i go riding, take pictures, write a report, or have a beer with my riding buddies & talk about the ride, it has deep philosophical significance & connects me to the cosmos. The views, the crashes, the breakdowns, the reroutes.. the food & the beer.. all are no longer just stuff to do, but are filled with spiritual meaning & metaphysical connections.

My son in law has been wanting me to come up to Ogden to go duck hunting with him. I've never hunted ducks, but i do like to eat them, so i thought i'd come up & join him on a hunt. I also thought it would be a good time to go for a ride up through northern Arizona & Utah.

Then my riding buddies wanted to plan a ride in the San Rafael Swell in central Utah for a few days, so i thought i could combine both of those into a mega ride that takes up most of October. But the day i was planning to leave, rain was forcast. No problem. I'll bring my rain gear, & stay off the mud if it rains. The WRX will do pavement, fine. So i left early on Wed. Oct 5th, & headed north through the Navajo reservation toward Utah's southern border. It was overcast all day, but no rain. I mixed some pavement & dirt, as i wanted to make Escalante, Ut by dark.

I took a couple of side roads to see where they went. This road disappeared, but i followed a wash into a nice canyon spot where i took a break. Then back to the highway.







House Rock road went through house rock valley, & connected 89a with 89. It was about a 60 mile shortcut, & would connect me back to more dirt up the cottonwood canyon road, which followed the paria river for a ways. But as i turned onto house rock road, the skies darkened ominously. About halfway through, the rain started. The road was fairly dry, but was getting wetter by the minute. I kept up my pace, hoping to get through before the mud got sloppy & slick. I didn't stop to put on my rain gear, but wanted to get off the dirt before it was mud.







Parts of the road got a little slippery, but i finally made it to the slab. I pulled into a big culvert that went under the highway & put on my rain gear. I planned to head east to the cottonwood canyon road & follow it up to Escalante. I rode for a few minutes, & the rain came down harder. It was about 4pm, & it would be muddy. I stopped & decided to turn around & head for Kanab & get a room. Kanab was about an hour away, & it rained steadily the entire way. I stopped at a couple of places, & settled on a decent room that was within walking distance to some eateries. It was still raining, & would rain like this all night. I hung my clothes around the room & went for a pizza.

It rained all night, & was wet & cold in the morning.


It looked like rain was in the forcast for the next few days, so i decided to skip the dirt & stay on the slab. I figured i could go up 89, then take some other minor roads & get to Ogden without having to get on the interstate. The rain had stopped at 6:30, & i left, hoping for a bit of a pause in the weather. But as i headed north, the rain started back up, & it got colder. Kanab is in the 5k foot elevation range, & i would have to climb up to nearly 8k in a couple of the passes. I didn't know there was a winter weather alert up north, but i soon found out. About an hour from Kanab, i got into snow. The temperatures were dropping fast, too. It was in the 20's in the higher elevations. I could only ride an hour or so, then i had to stop & thaw out. I chatted with some highway patrolmen, who told me of a few accidents ahead where some cars had slid off the road. But they said the deepest snow was behind me, so i decided to press on & not go back to Kanab & cut over to I-15 at St. George.



I had on every bit of clothing i brought. I put on both pairs of socks. The rain gear was great.. blocked the wind & kept me dry. The windscreen was also greatly appreciated.. i put it on at the last minute before i left, because of the rain in the forcast. But i had decided to wear my Sidi road boots. They are very protective.. hinged ankles, good protection everywhere. But i thought they were more water resistent than they were. Water came right through them. My feet were wet all the time. I had dried my socks the night before, but they were wet within an hour. I put on my other pair, & they were wet in a short time as well. So my feet were numb with cold the whole time. I would stop, get a coffee, take my boots off & try to warm my feet a bit.. using paper towels to sop up some of the water. I would warm them just until they began to hurt, then hit the road. Back on the bike, they would be wetter & colder in a short time. Everything else was reasonably dry & warm. My hands got cold, but they were dry in some nice waterproof road gloves i got as a gift last year. I wished i had worn my full moto boots. They would have been a lot drier & warmer.

By the time i made I-70, i decided to cut over to I-15 & take it the rest of the way to the Salt Lake valley. But there was another high mountain pass i had to cross, & the snow was still coming down. I passed a couple of cars that had slid off the road.. some tow trucks were still winching them out of the ditch. That was, of course, very encouraging. I expected the rain. The cold was a not so pleasant surprise. If i had thought there was a slim chance of snow, i would have waited until spring or next summer to come up. This was a freak, early winter storm.

Several more stops.. more coffee.. wait until the feet hurt, then ride. There were a few spots along I-15 where it stopped raining.. for 1/2 hr or so.. what a wonderful reprieve! By the time i pulled into Provo, it was a balmy 46*F, but the rain started up again. The lower elevations were much better than the mountains, though, so it felt warm by comparison. Eventually i made it to Ogden, pried myself off the bike, put on some dry warm socks & shoes, & waited for the Daughter to come home. Tomorrow i could look forward to dragging a small boat through marshes & reeds with a wet dog, & of course, in the rain.

Ogden single track.
I scared a lot of ducks, but Taylor got a couple so we did have a duck dinner. Mary decided we needed to go for a nice ride in the mountains above ogden.. the day before i was to leave. So about 3pm.. on a Sunday.. when i'm ready to settle down & watch football & have a beer, we leave for Ogden canyon. I didn't even get my windscreen off! I thought i was riding to Moab next..

It was a beautiful ride up Ogden canyon.. the leaves were all changing & the colors were spectactular. We cut behind Pineview reservoir to the trail head.

Mary coming up the trail.


Taylor riding sweep.


The riders: Scotty, Taylor, Mary, & Trevor.


Mary. She would leave for Maui in a few days to compete in the xterra triathalon. She won her age group in Nevada in April, & was second in the Utah regional event.




I seldom got out of 1st gear on this trail. It was narrow, rocky, rooted, & wet in spots. I rode ok for the first hour or 2, but started to get tired as the evening approached. I had been up at 4am, & we had been busy all day. We came down off of one of the peaks, & were heading for the long downhill section when i must have dozed off & went off the trail.


Unfortunately, i did not get this on video, but i had Taylor snap the pickup. Trevor & Taylor helped me & we got it back on the trail. No more mishaps, & the nastiest terrain was still ahead.



I didn't get anymore stills, but the video shows some great views of the trail, & the fall colors. It was nearly dark when we got back, but we made it ok. I had to adjust my wind screen a bit.. tweak the headlight housing, & pack up all my stuff, but i got it back together & was ready for the ride to Moab on Monday.

Ride to Moab.
I had breakfast with the kids & they went off to work. I finished up my packing & cleaned up my room, then hit the road. I was planning on taking some scenic routes to Moab, & would be riding about 9 hrs. But just going through salt lake city was cool enough, so i decided to just go through one mountain pass, instead of several. The colors throughout the salt lake basin were beautiful.. vibrant reds & yellows, & all the colors in between. I turned in Hwy 6 to go through price & the highest mountain pass i would do this day.

I stopped a couple of times for coffee & a break (i brought my small thermos). Along the railroad tracks, i saw this guy. He stopped & watched me for a while.. wondering if i was his shepherd, but decided i wasn't & continued on down the track. I could relate. Here we were, 2 little lost lambs waiting for the freight train of life to run us down.



My alter ego disappered down the tracks, I finished my coffee & headed on down the road.



I was traveling pretty light.. just the 2 panniers & a tank bag. I had rigged the rear pannier up in ogden. I got some alum. stock & bolted it to the passenger peg, then bent it around to the license plate holder. It held the bags off the pipe & kept them secure.

It was still chilly, especially going through the mountain pass before Price. But it was dry, so i was warm enough. Once i got down to the desert floor, it heated up & i had to take off my liner jacket.

I gassed up in green river, then continued on to moab. I got there before 5, checked in to the motel, then waited for Tom to join me. He was trailering up from Prescott, to ride the white rim trail. When we rode it last year, he missed out because of bike issues. This time he brought the wr250r.

No videos of the ride, but tomorrow's ride along the white rim will make up for it.

Scotty's info

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Sedona, Arizona, United States
Semi-retired home builder. Musician. wr250x adventure rider. Amateur philosopher. Innovator. Tech & gadget freak, genealogist.