Thursday, September 21, 2006

Day 11 - Zion NP to Bryce Canyon NP

Sleepy Tim getting dressed...

A "Quiet Friendly Place to Eat" (it really was)

"Whoa, slow down man, there's a cop!" I muttered over the radio as we cruised into Fredonia.

Trickery! Trickery!

Living in Texas, I don't think too much of Cedars, so Cedar Breaks didn't sound like much of a treat.

I was wrong...

Bryce Canyon...

Arches National Park? Nope, still Bryce Canyon.

The "Silent City" of hoodoos...

The views were easily thirty miles...

We did NOT hike up to this overlook. I got faint just thinking about it...

A spirit guide appeared...

Then we retired and made like primitive men, staring at the fire and grunting...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Day 10 - Salt Lake City to Zion NP

The Temple of Manti. (Are the worshipers therein known as "Praying Mantis" ???)

Departing the wonderful Flying M, after a great lunch. Note skies opening up...

Arrival at the fabled Zion...

The ominous mammatus clouds as we set up camp. They never delivered on their promise of rain though.

The nice folks who let us share their site in a full campground. They were driving around the country in their Bluebird camper/bus. They even gave us each a beer after we finished pitching our tents! True nobility.

Tim and the ranger discussing how to find the shuttle.

The graybeards in the Court of Patriarchs...

Looking out from the Weeping Wall.

As far as you can ride the shuttle and hike, sort of...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Day 9 – Idaho to Salt Lake City.

Inside my tent at the campsite, I awoke to 25 degree temperatures! Brrrrr!

Actually, “woke” is not the correct term. It was more like, “came to a gradual awareness of my surroundings that included more than thinking, “this is the coldest I have ever been in my life, and trying to sleep in all my clothes including a sweater wrapped around my head is futile” sort of “awakening.” Trying to break down tentpoles while wearing mittens proved to be a challenge. Trying to do it after removing the mitts proved to be a different kind of challenge as I raced to break one down, then put them back on long enough to get some feeling back in my fingers, and repeating the process.

Don opened a new bottle of water, and it froze the moment he opened it.

I found where a bear had been snacking nearby:

Anyway, after a campsite breakdown that took three times longer than normal, we were on the road south again. The temps were, ahhh, brisk and soon I was thanking the ghost of Thomas Edison for electric grips and jacket liners. After only minutes, Don’s voice came over the radio saying, “Something’s wrong—my bike’s only running on one cylinder again.” We headed on into the town of Mackay to grab some breakfast, and do some troubleshooting. My latest technique for picking a place to dine involves looking for a reasonable number of cars or bikes outside a local mom & pop type of eatery. As we pulled into Mackay, the most obvious spot was Amy Lou’s Steakhouse. I poked my head inside to ensure that they served breakfast, and was assaulted by the most wonderful smells. Don and I got inside as soon as we could. The photo on the menu was a little … strange, but we dealt with the strangeness and had a great breakfast.

Out front, afterwards, we poked and prodded but couldn’t figure out the problem.

All we could tell was that exactly opposite the bad spark plug wire symptoms, the bike idled fine, but ran on only one of its two cylinders at any higher rpms. We decided to press on to the nearest big BMW dealer, in Salt Lake City.

The sense of humor of the Idahoans:

We made it to Salt Lake BMW in late afternoon. They didn’t have a part for it, but they did agree to give Don a Loaner bike he could keep until the part came. Reeee-sult! Traveling Utah on someone else’s bike! (Even if it is only a F650CS (cs=city slicker?))

We checked into a Best Western and I started catching up on the blogging.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Day 8 – Greenough to Missoula to Idaho.

(I'm trying a new format, with narrative up top, and all the photos below--please let me know what you think.)

After Deb and Jerry sent us off with a tasty breakfast, we headed down the gravel road out of their wonderful valley, back to Missoula's Big Sky BMW to get Don's deceased spark plug wire replaced. I took the opportunity to unpack and dry out my tent, which was still soaked from the rain at Glacier NP.

A couple of hours later, we headed south to Idaho’s Sawtooth Recreation area. The roads winding through the mountains of the Montana/Idaho border were fantastic! Great gentle sweeping turns, and almost no traffic. I think it was one of the first real “yee-haa!” moments of the riding portion of the trip. The Sawtooth Mountains were a spectacular backdrop, looking like a jagged set of orc teeth against the sky. We had so much fun riding that we didn’t stop for pictures. As we got further into Idaho, the haze began to thicken and I noticed a strong smell of smoke. We stopped for gas and snacks near the Sawtooth wilderness area and there was a group of what looked and sounded like out-of-state firefighters having barbeque on the porch. As we continued on, the sunset turned the entire western sky a deep red.

A few miles later we pulled into the Holman Creek campground, and were pleased to see that we were the only occupants. We picked the campsite furthest from the road, next to a chuckling stream, then I rode back to the front to pay the lockbox the eight-dollar fee. After pitching our tents, we watched the moon rise over the pines, and tried some creative night photography. The temperature dropped rapidly, so we retired to our sleeping bags.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Day 7 – Glacier to Missoula to Greenough.

(You can click on any of the pictures to enlarge them...)

It was a crisp 47.3 degrees when I got up on day 7.

Don and I dressed, and he wandered off to brush his teeth. While he was gone, a ranger came looking for him.

Just kidding, he was looking for a mama bear and cubs that had been spotted in camp early that morning. He said his shotgun was loaded with rubber slugs, ostensibly to “discourage” the bears’ presence in camp.

We broke camp and loaded the bikes, then walked the half-mile to a nearby diner. After a tasty breakfast, we got on Going to the Sun Highway, only to discover that Don’s bike was only running on one cylinder. We pulled over at an extremely windy overlook—so windy that I feared it would blow our bikes right over. As Don troubleshot the problem, some folks walked by and told us of a bear eating in the bushes down by the lake.

I left Don to fend for himself and wandered over to take pictures.

When I got back, Don had discovered one spark plug wire was cracked in two places.
We taped it and got going again. The repair didn’t seem to help much, so we made a beeline for Big Sky BMW in Missoula.

Those Montanans have funny ideas for street names…

Although we arrived just about closing, they took a look at it, and asked us to return the next day after they had a chance to raid the spare parts bin.

So, off we headed to Jerry & Deb’s awesome place. After navigating miles of dirt roads, and two gates that didn’t like motorcycles, we arrived. It’s a beautiful log cabin in a secluded valley, with a river running through the back yard.

Shortly after we arrived, we partook of the old biker tradition of a refreshing beverage after a long day’s ride.

Jerry asked about the temperatures while we’d been riding, and laughed at our recounting of how chilly the 43 degrees in Glacier felt. He said there was a prediction of “24 degree lows day after tomorrow.” We responded, “Well then we’d better head South before then!”

Here is the awesome cabin we stayed in.

Great folks!