Monday, July 19, 2010

July 18, 2010 – Day 43 Dinosaurs and the ride thru Flaming Gorge, UT

Sunshine and warm temps were forecast for the entire area around Steamboat Springs today. I have to admit I’m feeling a bit spoiled waking up to this when my Oregon coast remains cool and rainy. Linda sent an email saying I might have to do some serious readjusting when I get home and she’s right, I just hope the webs between my toes haven’t dried out.

After another gourmet breakfast ala Comfort Inn I fueled up the thirsty yellow beast and continued my ride west towards Utah. I dialed Naples into the GPS as that seemed as logical a place as any – Hey, they’re on the map so why not? This would be another typical day for me, no idea of what it might bring, just saddle up and ride.
One thing I’ve not mastered yet and it’s going to take practice is parking this monster bike on gravelly surfaces, the kind that most road shoulders are made of. She’s top heavy due to the large amount of cargo I’m carrying so I have to choose my resting places carefully, otherwise over she goes like a giant beetle on her back. Because of this I’ve passed up quite a few photo ops and U-turns are a thing of the past until I’m up to speed on my balancing act. No matter, there are still plenty of photo ops to be had from regular stops along the way.

The road through the countryside west was pretty, dotted with cattle and wheat ranches all looking prosperous. It’s easy to tell you’re at higher elevations in this land, the trees are stunted and there’s a sense of isolation about it. Winters are hard, you can tell just by looking.

I stopped to read about the “I Do” range fire, Colorado’s largest that happened just a few years ago. It must have been terrible but the area surrounding the wayside information point looks like its recovering. It’s easy to imagine how a fire could get out of control there, high winds mixed with hot temperatures and plenty of natural fuel all combined would be the perfect mix.
Former burnt area now coming back

From the view point I was able to see for miles in all directions and there was little traffic which made for perfect riding. A couple of cars were making about the same progress as me and would send a friendly beep at me whenever they passed. Stopping for pictures meant there was a continual changing of position and after awhile you get to know different cars as they do you.

Dinosaur National Monument is a huge park that extends from Colorado into Utah and my route took me right into it. There are 4 entrances and I took the road to the first one which drove the GPS lady absolutely nuts. Having used them for several years I’m accustomed to her yelling at me and sometimes have a friendly conversation with her. You really don’t want to hear about it but suffice it to say, the general tone is not very civil.
I rode around 15 miles along the river feeding into the park, all of it beautiful and arriving at the official entrance was dismayed to find it turned into gravel at that point. Oh to have my sidecar for this I thought, but it wasn’t so and I turned YP around and headed back. One day after lots of practice and a lighter load I’ll tackle that but not today.

At least on the way out I was able to pause for a photo of the snake on the road I’d passed earlier. I was curious if it was a rattler but it wasn’t, just another road kill and a banquet for the black flies. Ugh.

The Utah state line was equipped with a nice big sign so I stopped for the usual photo. A visiting family was just getting ready to leave and the gal stopped to ask if I’d like her to take my picture. Of course I would and she obliged. After seeing how well my Draggin shirt outlines the bagel where my belly is I had to censor it, no use in frightening people who read this. God am I ever getting fat, when I get home I’ll have to get back on my usual dieting routine.
The Utah Welcome Center for Visitors was my first stop in Naples and it was there I met one of the nicest ladies; her knowledge of the local area was boundless and she soon had me set up with several options for sightseeing.

The route that sounded most attractive would take me north through the Flaming Gorge area, an absolutely stunning ride. She said she has several friends who ride and they all liked that area. Vernal was just a bit further on from Naples so I stopped for lunch at the Golden Arches and took time to lay out my plans for the rest of the day.
I visited the Red Fleet State Park and then continued on through the Flaming Gorge area stopping for views of the Vernal and Ashley Valley.
Along about that time I felt the first drops of rain, very light but they were indicators of fun to come. A rest stop served as a place to park and locate the Frogg Toggs. I figured the jacket would be all I’d need as it didn’t look like a major monsoon on the way.
I was right, the rain was hit and miss and never really much to deal with. The biggest item was the wind coming in hard gusts. YP seems impervious to wind, probably due to the design of her fairing and windshield. There was a bit of rain hitting me in the face so I stopped and raised her windshield up to the next level and that solved that. I noted occasional Harley riders struggling along in the opposite direction wearing their little cat-bowl helmets and generally getting the hell beat out of them by the elements. Go figure…
The sign below said Death ValleyView...I dunno about that
This guy was struggling to make 10mph up the mountain

Information board at Sheep Creek Overlook
Telephoto of the lakes from Sheep Creek Overlook

That same truck came plugging by as I took photos!

Thistles in case you didn't know

Read the text. It must have been something to see.

I followed UT 191 north to the southern edge of Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the turned west onto 42 crossing over into Wyoming. All the way into Wyoming I kept hearing "This is the last cowboy's song" in my mind. I need to nurture a broader repertoir. Maybe if I learned all the words instead of just the two first lines it would help.

Once there I would follow 414 through beautiful ranch country and small settlements, eventually hooking up with the super slab I-80. YP handles super slabs with ease, ingesting them in a nonplussed manner that makes riding with semi trucks almost fun.
I arrived in Evanston, WY around 7:00pm ready for a room and found the Dunmar Inn, a Best Western affiliate right off. It’s a huge place and they had lots of rooms plus a very nice restaurant as part of the facility. By the time I’d unpacked and had dinner – Chicken Caesar with two glassed of Chardonnay I was done for the day; the blog would have to wait till morning.
Get away you filthy beast!

Tomorrow I’ll probably head into, uh, ummm…one of those other places further west...


  1. Larry, I really enjoy your blog. I like your new 'wing. I had an '03. Watch out if you're making a slow sharp u-turn in a parking lot. Don't touch the front brake in the middle of the turn. The wing will only go down to the crash bars. It's not too bad to pick back up, I've had it happen a time or two. Ride Safe. Erik

  2. Ah yes, sage advice for which I thank you. The crafty folks at Honda seem to have forseen such a likely happenstance, ergo the shiny chrome crash bars. I have a feeling I may become more intimately familiar with them...