Montana, Marlboro Man country. It's big blue sky country, snow capped mountains in the distance and vast, vast grassy plains in between. Wow this is spectacular country and I mean spectacular. The splendor of Colorado, while I never tire of it, is close in so much the mountains are “just over there”, kind of at arms reach but the mountains in Montana are way beyond arms reach. We have two more days of Montana but for now are holed up in Wise River, a little spot that is probably not on a map but for the moment they have cold beer and country music on the juke box. Loved the sign in the bar - ya gotta read the small print. Tonight we washed away the smell from our gear.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Short day again today (180 miles) mostly because I had to find a solution for the broken top box. We are heading north and enter Yellowstone National Park ($20 thanks) after passing the Grand Titons and enter yet another National Forest. Now the delay is a nail to my rear tyre – ah crap, Frank has the tyre gear and he is ahead of me. Lucky me when a guy on a KTM 950 burbles into sight so I borrow his gear to fix the puncture. Actually I bought his spare tube so that fixed the problem. Frank and I mounted the tyre and wheel and we were off. Must say that the task was way easier than it is on my DR. Frank will like this but I will never tell him – I think the KLR is perfect for this ride and way better then my DR would have been.
Mack's Inn, Idaho tonight (it's a place not a pub) and another night in a forest park camp ground. After lying in the dirt and hot sun fixing my tyre I kind of would like to have had a shower. Our gear is getting a little smelly also. Frank is still suffering the stink of his sojourn into the bog hole – me, well I ride suitably far to the rear. I blame the dust. After taking our money ($12) the park ranger warns us about the bear in the woods. Ah crap, I will be awake all night now.
132 miles from Rawlins to Atlantic City – all on gravel and not a tree in sight. Vast plains of sage brush and hardy grass with the occasional beef cattle and antelope. Atlantic City is no city, just a collection of old buildings left over from the gold rush. We had lunch here but for me was the sight of a white guy carrying a side arm trying to erect a tee pee. He is having no luck at all so occasionally refers to a set of instructions which seem not to help – possibly they are written in Apache. Never figured what the gun was for. By nightfall we had made it to Dubois for a total of 317 miles for the day. Top box gave up the ghost this afternoon – just to much pounding from the trails.
To date we have ridden 2621 miles since we left Omaha and have made it to Rawlins, Wyoming where we are staying at a KOA camp ground. Very nice it is to. Rawlins looks to be a harsh town with a railroad that bisects the town with a good number of double wides (trailer homes) on the wrong side of the tracks. Lots of coal trains in town. Anyway its goodbye to Colorado. Colorado is such a visual delight despite their colour coded houses - seems you can chose from a standard set of plans and get to paint your place in either or both of two shades of brown but the roof must be green. Reminds me of Switzerland actually. Being on back roads you get to see Colorado like no one else does and I loved it. I really do like Colorado and never get tired of riding it.
Entering Wyoming we rode into an avenue of Aspens (a scene that appears on every web site of this ride) and then onto a vast rolling plain of grassland. I have mentioned that this is actually a route planned by cyclists. Well I take my hat off to them and have a new respect. We clip through 200 km of dirt road in an afternoon and think nothing of the wonderful but never changing environment but for a cyclist the scene must be interminably long winded. pick 018
302 miles today and now into Colorado – Silverthorne to be exact. Early morning was a delightful ride in pine forest and then we took a wrong turn and it all turned to shite. Steep and long rocky downhills, wheel deep ruts, mud holes and finally a river crossing with a viscous rocky uphill. Frank, bless his cotton socks, full of bravado attacked the (very deep) bog hole with gusto with the inevitable result. I was too concerned that he might drown in the bog to take a picture – long story short I had to hose him off at a local car wash. He smelled like the downhill side of a feedlot.
Afternoon much improved with excellent road surfaces through high plains meadows with grazing cattle and the odd antelope. Met a shepherd walking with a couple of dogs way out in the wap waps. We tried to talk to him but Lord knows what language he spoke. Heard wolves howling last night and this morning got a glimpse of one darting into the bush just ahead of us.
First stop Reserve for breakfast – much appreciated after lasts nights fast. Spent ages talking to the cafe assistant, George Barreras, regarding his history and the history of the area and were to learn that it would be our pleasure today to ride the calichie (red clay) to Pie Town. It was no problem in the dry but the route would have been impassable in even the slightest of wet. Reached Pie Town and its Pie Cafe, something of a meeting place for adventure riders and had the obligatory piece of pie. Frank had the good sense not to have a piece.
Excellent PM ride to Cuba (pronounced coo ba) through rugged outback country. Real trail ride stuff and country to die for – just the perfect cowboy movie backdrop I recall from my youth. Getting the hang of buying healthy from McDonald's courtesy of Frank. About 300 miles today and mostly off road. Of note were huge mounds of lava magma without the accompanying volcano.
143 miles today. We started a little late because of laundry detail but the biggest reason for the short distance was that we got stuck in the Santa Fe forest. We got stuck on 2 impassable roads so had to back track and then finally a road with deep bulldust. So once again we have been forced to camp out unprepared. Last time it was emergency rations of sardines and tonight we had to share a McDonald's apple pie and a jar of peanut butter – crunchy so we aren't so badly off. Oh and a bottle of bourbon that we are sampling from the caps of our chain lube cans. We are still in New Mexico and a lot of the country side is dry, harsh sagebrush prairie but as we head further upland and towards Colorado things are starting to green up. It is still very hot despite being up at around 7,000 feet and our water bottles don't last very long. Anyway tonight is another impromptu night under the stars. Our original plan for day 6 had us almost out of Colorado so we area little behind schedule.
From Deming to Antelope Wells on the Mexican border. We are now at the start point of our great adventure to Yellowknife. Obligatory photo, turned around and headed north. Stopped at Hachita – a cluster of buildings and a church all abandoned except for a small store with a gas pump. Got the lowdown on the area from Cheyenne McDonald whose husband,Rocky McDonald, a local rancher and New Mexico rodeo champion. Also saw his impressive trophy from the Calgary Stampede.
Picked up the gravel just north of I10 for a short period – actually it was just hard packed dirt. Back onto the seal for a period then into the massive Gila National Forest. We got lost and were forced to spend the night in it but as luck would have it we found a delightful camp site by a lake. It's a clear moonlight night and it is finally much cooler. We will start out early tomorrow for Pie Town.
Not so long a day today because we took up an invitation to spend the night at Palo Duro Canyon State Park with Bob, a friend of Franks. So tonight we share our evening with horse flies that bite like hell and rattle snakes. It was as hot as hell today (110 degrees) and even now just as the sun drops below the rim of the canyon the wind drys our washing in no time at all. Bike goes well.
Canyon, Tx to Deming, NM today, a distance of about 450 miles. First part of the days ride was through beef country with huge feed lots and grain processing facilities everywhere. Pulled into Roswell (town of alien crash) again this afternoon and later Alamagordo and the white sands facility. I have been to these places in the past and it is quite a strange feeling to be so familiar with a place in what is really a foreign country. Another hot day 98 degrees. Picture = Alamagordo and White Sand in the distance.
An early start for what ended up a 500 mile day. Initially the ride was through pleasant back roads of Nebraska then into Kansas but by days end I had pretty much had my fill of flat land and fields of wheat and corn. Collected a third rider, Randy, who will ride with us to Texas.