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Old 09-22-2018, 10:56 AM   #1
boney
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Confession of a Long Distance Ride(r)- Almost no pictures

I recently went to Colorado Springs for some combination work/play/healing and decided to ride there and back. Camping/hotelling and riding the miles. Often times I need a lot of hours in my helmet to clear away the distractions. And often times I get moving and I keep moving. For a few days... It's why there aren't a lot of pictures.

I have a few take-aways from this trip which I'll share at the end.

Day 1 was a 730-ish mile blast out of the North Bay to Maple Grove Campground. It's a nice NF Campground of about 15 sites and I imagine sees a lot of traffic, since there are numerous warnings about occupying your site and having someone there the first night. highway 50 never disappoints. I had a cup of coffee in Fernley, Breakfast in Austin and was 150 miles into Utah by 5:30 their time.

A creek running right next to my site drown the generators of the Mo-Hos, who were respectful with their use and shut them off nice and early.

I packed a small drone I bought in The Classifieds right here on BARF. Got a great deal and still have some learning to do.

Panorama of the valley Maple Grove is in- this is the stretch of 50 between Scipio and Salina (UT).


Maple Grove:

youtu.be/PLL7k5bfZ8s

Very few bugs, a nice spaghetti dinner and some time with a book rounded off the evening which cooled off, but never got cold.

Day 2 Shortly
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Old 09-22-2018, 11:15 AM   #2
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Day 2 starts with a nice cup of organic and local Taylor Maid drip coffee and my favorite road breakfast- granola with a fruit cup poured over the top. Cheap and easy, requires no fuel or water, and has plenty of go in it. Funny how dry camping in the desert has taught me these things that become the go-to.

My destination is near Gunnison Colorado. There was no more specificity than that. The big push the previous day was to open up time for taking a detour or two to ride some roads not previously covered.

A quick blast across I-70 to Green River got me there in time for another short coffee break at a little place in town. I discussed motorcycles with the owner who also suggested her favorite places to get tires in the area. The front tire on my bike, according to my logs of past performance would make the entire distance of the trip, but was looking suspiciously shagged after spending a day on the chip-seal of Nevada.

Loaded with good intel, the afternoon found me dropping out of Grand Junction on Highway 141 along the Dolores River to Naturita, when I stopped for an ice cream cone. 141 is one of those epic rides that starts in a yellowing Aspen studded glacial carved canyon that ends on a roadbed shelf cut into the side of a sandstone cliff that would toss you in the river if a mistake were made. Seriously- no guard rails.

Stolen from the Interwebs... Unaweep Canyon at the north end of 141:


Backroading up the hill to Highway 50 again, I found a nice camp site at Dry Creek. I settled in as the only occupant in bear, sheep, and coyote country.



Dry Creek Campground

youtu.be/I8xJh1oT698

Around 1 AM I woke up to the sound of nothing. Zero sounds. No breeze in the trees. No running water nearby. Only the sounds of a critter in the grass every once in a while and the rustling of my nylon sleeping bag. And of course, now I can't sleep. Every sound is massive when this happens. I could hear my heart beating. Everything was a bear except for the infrequent coyote call from miles away- or so it seemed.

I read my book for an hour or two, dropped some earplugs in and went back to sleep. Such a shame to waste such silence with ear plugs. (FWIW, I'd has this happen once before in Canada. It's maddening that we become so used to background noise that it's not possible to sleep when it's actually quiet.)
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Old 09-22-2018, 11:48 AM   #3
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After a fitful night of sleep, a quick cruise over the pass and down to Salida was in order, where I ran into a friend whom I'd ridden with in various parts of the country, who now lives there and runs a store- The F Street 5 and Dime.

Down the street is a nice little coffee shop where we caught up. I took a peek at the Chaffee County Honor Roll, with is a mural of all the names of all the county residents that fought in World War 2. It was covered in plaster in the 60's, and "discovered" accidentally recently, and restored. Very Cool.



From here I went over the hill to Colorado for a couple of days.

I'll follow up with the ride home in a bit.
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Old 09-22-2018, 01:58 PM   #4
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Super cool memorial. Whomever covered it should be ashamed.
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Old 09-22-2018, 08:22 PM   #5
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Sunday morning doesn't come too early. I've managed to make it through two nights in Colorado Springs without a hangover or even feeling slow in the morning. How that ever happened considering the company is going to be one of the great mysteries. Maybe someday Geraldo will make a show about it like he did Al Capone's vault.

So I'm on the road nice and early and I decide that the detour up Pike's Peak would be fun so long as there isn't a massive line. I've heard horror stories from some of the LDRider guys about 15 MPH speed limits, no passing, long lines of cars to get into the forest etc. I'm headed right by, so I drive up the road to the entrance and there's no line. $15 gets me a pass to the summit and off I go- only to get stuck behind a slow car a mile later. Another mile later and the double-yellow becomes only a suggestion. I'm passing cars, riding hard, wondering how the racers keep it on the road at those speeds as the temp drops below 40 I hit the summit. There's construction everywhere, but still enough space for a bunch of cars.

Colorado Springs from Pike's Peak:


Selfie with dumb look on my face:


Dropping off the peak, my GPS sends me on a little dirt road detour off the back side toward the highway. Only the road is closed and there isn't a way out. Doubling back up the hill to the pavement adds 25 minutes to my route, which is still 500+ miles back into Utah. At least I had the forethought to A)book a room in a known impacted camping/lodging region B) call the hotel along the way to let them know I'll be in around 7 pm.

The Chuckwagon General Store and Hotel in Torrey Utah is the greatest place ever. Seriously. If you're in the area, stay there. Back when I was a young pup riding around the southwest in the back of the car, we'd stop on the warm afternoons and have ice cream on the porch. Years later, another group I ride with on occasion come here twice a year. Now, I'm a week in advance, but still enjoying a walk down the road for dinner and sitting on the porch of the hotel talking with people from all over the world. So cool.

Independence Pass, which is on Colorado 82, climbs over the Rockies and then drops down through Aspen and Snowmass. The Aspen trees are all turning yellow right now, and the ride is spectacular. With a 7:30 PM ETA to my destination, I'm not likely to stop for a picture. Not only are the turnouts and parking lots PACKED WITH TOURISTS looking at the colors, but the roads near Torrey Utah become just as dense with deer around sundown, and I'd like to avoid it. About a half hour out of town a few years ago, one of my friends cut a deer in half with his motorcycle and I'd prefer to not experience that myself.

So I wick the throttle and blast down I70 past Rifle to Grand Junction. Filling my tank, I've managed 50 MPG over the pass. Easy to do when at altitude where the air isn't so dense (less wind resistance) and the throttle openings are limited by all the other people on the road. I also put on my cooling vest, it's 95 degrees.

For the next 200 miles I'm blazing across the highways. Colorado has 75 MPH speed limits and Utah has 80. Nobody goes that slow, not even the trucks. Dropping down 24 and then across it over to Torrey, I manage to trim about 40 minute off the ride. The whole way I'm pushing into a mild headwind and manage 30 MPG for the stretch. It's amazing how drastic the fuel consumption can be and a good lesson in aerodynamics (which my bike is not) As I'm riding into Capitol Reef National Park and into Torrey, the smells that filter into my helmet are familiar. It's comforting somehow, that a place so far from home can be like coming home when you arrive. And that's just how it is every time I go there, even though it never has been.

After checking in to the hotel and grabbing dinner nearby, the patrons of this fine establishment sat around and talked about all their recent travels. It seems that being from California makes me the one who is closest to home. Michigan, Florida, Manitoba and Germany were the rest of the folks.
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Old 09-22-2018, 08:59 PM   #6
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... love the write up, the pics
and the drone vids!

my last trip I did 730 miles ...
took me two weeks ...
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Old 09-23-2018, 06:06 AM   #7
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my last trip I did 730 miles ...
took me two weeks ...
We ride bikes built for specific purposes. You'd do just fine on mine and I'd do 730 in two weeks on yours. Mine was a bitch to pick up in the desert (in a later installment) but a breeze to ride at 90 on the interstate.
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Old 09-23-2018, 06:54 AM   #8
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Old 09-23-2018, 06:55 AM   #9
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So, the nice thing about being on the road for a few days is that I now have no idea what day or date it is. I know I have to be home tomorrow night, and that's a few miles from here, but that's all I have.

It's also the first day I've had in months... MONTHS... where I don't feel like I have some kind of looming deadline. Or that I'm chasing some goal or being followed by some long forgotten task that's going to come back and bite me in the ass.

This was the reason for the ride. To get all that BS cleared out, free my mind from it for a few days, hit that big reset button, and spend as much time as possible without those distractions. Finally.

Of course, I had a list though. It's the locations of some charcoal kilns, or ovens out in the desert. They're "not that far away" and should be easy to access. So I make my way over to western Utah, fill the tank, get a little bit of grub at the only restaurant in town and set out to find these things.

So, if you've been to Death Valley, it's possible you've seen the Charcoal Kilns they have up in Wildrose Canyon...

Here's a picture:


[history lesson]
Back in the days when they were mining for silver in the area, which is the late 1800's and early 1900's, these were built to convert the Pinon Pine into charcoal. Most of these are a little bit out of the way and up at altitude where the pines were since it's easier to transport only the charcoal, which is lighter and more energy dense, than it is to take the trees to the mine.

Once they'd fired the wood, it would be transported to the mine where the charcoal would be used to smelt the ore. Charcoal was a better fuel for this than wood, as it is burns hotter and longer.
[/history lesson]

Out there in eastern Utah, there's an old mine and town site (only a few stone walls still standing town) called


The only things left are the kilns, a few stone walls and the cemetery.



What I found interesting about this set of kilns is that they aren't uniform like the others I'd seen previously. They also look to have a stronger base and then almost like a lid put on top, as evidenced by the ridge around the middle. Perhaps they're not as robust as the ones I'd seen previously as well. A few of them had caved in. As a national heritage site, they were fenced but it would have been easy to climb in anyway. The advantages of having a drone in this case was that I didn't actually have to go in them to get pictures.


youtu.be/vVi5nC9NlsI
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Old 09-23-2018, 07:17 AM   #10
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Not too far away is the Frisco Cemetery. The graves are mostly eroded by the desert and difficult to identify except if they weren't fenced or surrounded by rocks. A few of the monuments were missing, leaving only the base- now an unidentified grave.

What struck me the most was the ages of the people who were buried here. They were mostly children. Frisco must have been inhospitable.









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Old 09-23-2018, 08:07 AM   #11
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I'm out of order here, as I figured I'd give you guys the general area of where I was before I started dropping places like 3 Springs. I mean, where the hell is that? Right?

Well, it's about 10 miles of dirt road off the pavement and it's not that easy to find, even with a GPS. The roads a criss-crossy and none of them look better than the others in terms of traffic. So I was left to explore a bit.

Along the way, I dropped my 600lb bike with a full 8 gallons of gas and camping gear in the soft dirt as I was trying to turn it around. It was a no-speed tip over when the front tire washed as I was off the road. It took me a minute or two to find my footing and heft the big thing back onto it's wheels. This is the kind of stuff that makes riding solo less fun but more interesting.

After a while, I found them right next to a spring. The Mustangs were not happy about my arrival, and they made it known by hanging around on the ridge huffing about it. Until I launched the drone... then they split.



These three kilns are smaller than the ones at Frisco and either less protected or more fragile. The tops have all caved in and the back of one is starting to fall apart as well. Being off the beaten path, they are wide open and free to explore. I spent a while here looking around.

3 Springs:

youtu.be/VU12Nip54Xs

I did this quick edit for instagram. There's a bad cut in it- oops.

Down the highway a bit and 10 miles of dirt in the other direction is another set of kilns. I'd been messing around long enough to feel like I'd run out of time if I went to check them out. Also, I'd heard that the last mile of road to them would be tough on a big bike, so I might have ended up hiking for a while, and that would really have eaten into the day light.

Since riding at night on open range is a personal no-no, I decided to save them for the next trip and started heading toward Eureka (NV)

When I rolled up to the turnoff for the Ward Charcoal Ovens, I pulled over and called ahead for a room. By that time, probably 5 PM, Eureka was booked, Austin was booked and Fallon was too far- too much night riding to get there. So I settled for a room in Ely and went to check out the Ward Ovens.



These are in a State Park and there was a ranger nearby. Strictly a no-fly zone according to him, even though I'd not disturb a soul with it.

These ovens are much more like the one's in Death Valley. They're wide, a bit more conical and very uniform. They were in service for about 5 years before the mine went bust. Each oven could hold up to 5 acres of pinon pine. The area was largely clear cut, so the wood source was going to be gone soon anyway- so the mine and the wood supply ended at about the same time.



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Old 09-23-2018, 08:15 AM   #12
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Yes! Yes! Yes!

Everything about this is wonderful! Well, more pictures would be great, of course
I'll take what I can get, though, which is quality over quantity! Cool drone stuff!

Random thoughts:

"Everything was a bear"...I know exactly what that feels like! One of the things I like about the desert is the complete and total silence. No wind in the trees, no distant hum of civilization, no water running...nothing but my own heartbeat. However, when that silence comes in other places I get a little sketched out and I hear every little thing! Of course it's a bear! A hungry one!


Love the cemetery photos! I need to go there!


Capitol Reef and Torrey...love those places and they do, indeed, feel like home to me! I'm due for another trip out there. Thank you for reminding me


Helmet therapy...so essential. Nothing clears away all the unnecessary bullshit better than a nice long ride.


Thanks for posting this up, boney! Looking forward to the rest of the story!



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Old 09-23-2018, 08:45 AM   #13
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I added a few panoramas i had taken if you missed those.
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Old 09-23-2018, 09:10 AM   #14
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I added a few panoramas i had taken if you missed those.


my friends call the big BMWs “mile-eaters” ...

... have watched the drone vids
more than once ... love looking back
at the camp and rising up through
the trees to the view ... awesome ...

here’s the important question:


... what book did you bring?
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Old 09-23-2018, 09:45 AM   #15
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... what book did you bring?
Dark Money.
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