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post #1 of 15 Old 08-17-2011, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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California to Colorado

My buddy Dave and I just got back from a 10 day trip to Colorado, some 3,000 miles.

The real objective of the trip was to visit Rocky Mountain National Park and the Estes Park area. Now, you can’t get there from here without going through Nevada and Utah unless you want to go through the desert of the southwest in Arizona. Given the heat wave that’s going on, we opted for a more northerly route.
.
This is the whole route:


As much as possible we wanted to avoid the Interstate and travel as many back roads as possible.

We started by heading up to our favorite campground in Lone Pine and then set out through Bishop and Benton and into Nevada, heading for the 50. The 50 is known as the Loneliest Road in America and is aptly named. It’s just miles and miles of straight stuff. If you settle back and just enjoy the ride, there’s plenty to see.

I guess no major road trip should come off without some drama, at least not for the two of us. There’s a town called Gabbs in Nevada, and it’s supposed to have gas, or at least that’s what my research had told me. We rolled into Gabbs and found no gas station (a problem, as the big Zook was getting close to being on fumes), so I stopped at what looked like the local Official Place (seemed to be a combination of police station and town hall) to ask. The nice lady told me that all we needed to do was follow the low road around to the general store and that there was a gas station across from there, right next to the motel with the airplane out front.

Sure enough, there it was. All you had to do was go over to the store and ask the lady to come over and pump the gas for you. The pumps were really old style; the type where you pulled the nozzle out of the side and flipped the lever over to start the pump. She allowed as how we should let her do the pumping, as the nozzle was a bit touchy. I asked how often the gas truck came by and she replied that they had a 40,000 gallon tank, so it only needed to come by overy four months or so. Uh oh. Cross our fingers...

As she was pumping I asked about the name on the pump – Dummar – and she told us that the guy who owned most of the stuff in town was a Dummar and that he was the brother of Melvin Dummar, the fella that picked up Howard Hughes out on Highway 50. Howard supposedly left him millions in his will, but the courts ruled against the will.

From Gabbs we were about 30 miles from the 50 and making good time on the day, so off we went. We arrived at a place called Middlegate Station, where I went in to get a couple of waters. When I came out, Dave told me my front tire had just exploded. Upon disassembly we found that the tube had a rip in it about three quarters of an inch long. A guy named Bill, who seemed to be the official mayor sort in this town of 10, tried to help us out. He was a biker, with a Harley and a ’76 R100, but his stores didn’t include a 21 inch tube.

Dave set off for Fallon with dusk rapidly approaching while I did a multiple patch job if his shopping excursion was fruitless. A couple hours later he returned with two tubes and we were on our way in 10 minutes or so. Can’t help but think what would have happened if that tube had blown 10 minutes earlier or later when I was moving along at 70mph.

Our dramas behind us, we continued to Eureka and the Best Western. The next day we continued on 50 into Utah and finally got into some really nice scenery, staying the night at Scofield Reservoir. Scofield doesn’t have much to recommend it, except it would be a good place to start a campground. They have everything they need, sites, picnic tables, a reservation system, etc. All they need is a camp host and places flat enough to pitch a tent. We high-jacked the group tent site, which was no problem as the camp host wasn’t around to object, and spent a good night there. Woke up to a serious frost, which was surprising since the altitude wasn’t that much.

Leaving Scofield, we headed down to the 70 and on to Glenwood Springs, where we turned south on Highway 82 and went through Aspen and the Continental Divide at Independence Pass. After a brief stop at the pass we headed on to Leadville for the night.


Looking back on the canyon towards Aspen...

Independance Pass...

The next morning we continued on Highway 91 up to a brief run on the 70 to Highway 9, then on to Highway 40 and a small town called Granby. Granby is a nice place, at least in the summer.

Highway 34 leaves north out of Granby and takes you into the RMNP and over the top at about 12,200 feet. There are fantastic vistas at several turn outs. Traffic was ‘heavy’ simply because everyone was travelling slowly admiring the views, including the two of us.


From the top of RMNP at about 12,200 feet...


We dropped rapidly into the east end of the park and arrived at our campground, Aspenglen. Very nice, and highly recommended.

At this point in the trip we had to make some changes to our plans. We had originally meant to take a southerly swing through Colorado on the 285 and the 50, going through Gunnison and up to Grand Junction. That was going to be a pretty long day given the roads we’d be on and we wanted to change the next day to include Highway 12 in Utah instead of a route more to the west. We decided to run the 70 across Colorado into Grand Junction instead.

That route took us through two highlights – the Eisenhower Tunnel and Glenwood Canyon. The grade on the eastside of the tunnel is the most incredible I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to believe that cars, back in the day, could even make it to the top. I suppose many didn’t. Glenwood Canyon is spectacular.

The next day was a fast run from Grand Junction out to the 72, then joining up with the 12. The 72 runs through red rock and sandstone areas, while the 12 offers incredible views, running the gamut from desert and red rock to alpine forests. It gains some altitude, but not much over 7,000 feet. Still plenty high enough for scenic overlooks of Reef National Park and the Escalante National Monument.


Sandstone columns off the 72...


Overlooking Reef from about 7,000 feet on the 12...

Our stopping point that evening was a town called Tropic, just before the entrance to Bryce. We stayed at a private campground/motel complex and felt kind of sorry for them as we wondered how they eked out a living in so remote an area. They said that they would be serving dinner at around 7:00 and to come on down. We wondered about that, as why bother to serve dinner to two guests?

At about 6:00 or so the tour busses started to roll in. It turns out that they have a regular gig with a French touring company and put on a big western dinner, show, and dance about four times a week. You’ve not been entertained until you’ve seen a bunch of French people line dancing to a two man band.

The next day’s journey was simply designed to get us to Tonopah, NV via the Extraterrestrial Highway, as Tonopah put us just a few hours from Lone Pine and some good fishing. There was drama, though, as we gassed up on Caliente and headed out for Tonopah. Just at the junction of the 93 and the 375 there is a sign that said “Next Gas 150 Miles”. Now, with its small tank we’re generally looking to fill the big Zook up at 125 miles, and we were 40 miles into that. Mathematically we had enough gas (considering the amount of fuel in the KLR Valdez) to take both bikes the 195 miles from Caliente to Tonopah, but just how far would the Zook go? It had been turning in an impressive 50 mpg so far. It might make it!


Obligatory photo...

As it turned out, we got within 30 miles of Tonopah and decided not to risk running the injectors dry and added 40 oz. of fuel. When we got to Tonopah it took 3.2 gallons in the 3.8 gallon tank. It would have made it.

Keeping with our intent to travel the back roads, we took the 95 south out of Tonopah and picked up the 266 over to the border, then got on the 168 from Millsby to Big Pine. Oh. My. God. What a ride! Absolutely gorgeous and the last part of 168 is a real roller coaster ride.

Arriving back in Lone Pine we fished our hearts out, had trout, tri tip steaks, corn, and beans for dinner and retired early. Got up in the morning and faced the suckery of the southernmost portion of the 395 before it joins up with the 15 at Cajon Pass, and the general suckery of being back in LA.



Here’s the bucket list –
California 168
Utah 264 from Fairview to Scofield
Utah 12/US89/Utah 14 from Torrey to Cedar City
Colorado 82 from Glenwood Springs to Twin Lakes
Colorado 91/CO 9/US 40/US 34 from Twin Lakes to Estes Park
I70 though the Eisenhower Tunnel to Glenwood Canyon

Tom [email protected]

I lit a cigarette and dragged a smoking stand beside the chair. The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips. -Philip Marlowe

'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used. -Napoleon Bonaparte


Sting like a butterfly.

Last edited by Tom Schmitz; 08-17-2011 at 02:37 PM.
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post #2 of 15 Old 08-17-2011, 02:54 PM
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Looks like a wonderful trip! Well written ride report, maybe I'll finally write one for a trip I had a couple weeks ago.

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post #3 of 15 Old 08-17-2011, 02:56 PM
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Looks and sounds to have been a great trip. How was the camping in RMNP? You seem to have gotten the retirement thing down pretty well. Thanks for sharing the trip.
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post #4 of 15 Old 08-17-2011, 03:04 PM Thread Starter
Pretty in Pink, dunno why
 
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Glasser -

The campground in RMNP, Aspenglen, was really nice. While it was full, we were on a 'tent only' loop and didn't feel at all crowded.

Surprisingly, the night was so mild that I used my sleeping bag as a blanket, and had my tent open the whole night.

T

Tom [email protected]

I lit a cigarette and dragged a smoking stand beside the chair. The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips. -Philip Marlowe

'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used. -Napoleon Bonaparte


Sting like a butterfly.
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post #5 of 15 Old 08-18-2011, 03:33 AM
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Thanks for the RR and those photos, oh how I would have enjoyed riding that trip with you feller's !!!

~Things work out best for those that make the best of the way things work out~
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post #6 of 15 Old 08-18-2011, 09:26 AM
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Awesome Tom! Where are the fish pics!!!!????

Soon, we ride.




"In a car you're always in a compartment, and because you're used to it you don't realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV." R. Pirsig

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post #7 of 15 Old 08-18-2011, 09:31 AM
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Thanks Tom.

Looks fun.

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post #8 of 15 Old 08-18-2011, 09:41 AM Thread Starter
Pretty in Pink, dunno why
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lockjaw View Post
Awesome Tom! Where are the fish pics!!!!????

Soon, we ride.
Oh dear. An epic fail.

"They are now but a rumbly in my tumbly", Tom was barely able to confess.

T

Tom [email protected]

I lit a cigarette and dragged a smoking stand beside the chair. The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips. -Philip Marlowe

'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used. -Napoleon Bonaparte


Sting like a butterfly.
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post #9 of 15 Old 08-18-2011, 10:04 AM
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Sounds like a great ride. Did you get lucky enough to see any of the Bighorn Sheep in RMNP?



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post #10 of 15 Old 08-18-2011, 10:23 AM Thread Starter
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planalp -

Not so lucky. Elk we saw, and deer aplenty. Coyotes, too.

The Stebel is a good 'critter horn'.


T

Tom [email protected]

I lit a cigarette and dragged a smoking stand beside the chair. The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips. -Philip Marlowe

'Why' and 'How' are words so important they cannot be too often used. -Napoleon Bonaparte


Sting like a butterfly.
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