Other Riders' Stories
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|Day 1 - Santa Clara, CA
Day 2 - Lee Vining, CA
Day 3 - Baker, CA
Day 4 - Las Vegas, NV
Day 5 - Las Vegas, NV
Day 6 - Grand Canyon, AZ
Day 7 - Durango, CO
Day 8 - Glenwood, CO
Day 9 - Highlands, CO
Day 10 - Highlands, CO
Day 11 - Estes Park, CO
Day 12 - Craig, CO
Day 13 - Jackson, WY
Day 14 - Cody, WY
Day 15 - Mammoth, WY
Day 16 - Choteau, MT
Day 17 - Kelispell, MT
Day 18 - Sandpoint, ID
Day 19 - Omak, WA
Day 20 - Anacortes, WA
Day 21 - Anacortes, WA
Day 22 - Poulsbo, WA
Day 23 - Poulsbo, WA
Day 24 - Poulsbo, WA
Day 25 - Astoria, OR
Day 26 - Lincoln City, OR
Day 27 - Bandon, OR
Day 28 - Eureka, CA
Day 29 - Anchor Bay, CA
Day 30 - Martinez, CA
| Western Loop - July 11, 2002
Miles Traveled Today: 448
Miles Traveled on Trip: 2684
| Today has been a long, hot day, filled with contrasts.
We were up and out by 8:10 a.m., headed east on Hwy 40. Our goal
was to reach Jackson Hole, WY, if possible, by mid-afternoon. This
section of Hwy. 40 appeared drier than that section approaching Steamboat
Springs. The morning air was 67 degrees and comfortable but as we
continued west towards Dinosaur National Monument, the weather got
progressively warmer. By the time we reached Blue Mountain, it was
already 88 degrees.
We stopped at Blue Mountain at an overlook (photo 1) and discovered
some interesting facts about this large chunk of Colorado landscape.
It turns out that this is the third most popular Hang Gliding location
in the U.S. In 1996, the year they built the overlook, over 30 hang
gliders soared more than 100 miles to Hayden, Colorado. Apparently,
the thermals here are excellent for allowing hang gliders to gain
extreme altitudes, as high as 18,000 feet. The things you find out
when you take the time to stop. On this hot, and getting hotter morning,
no one was there but the lizards (photo 2).
We continued on down the road for 13 miles, to Jensen, UT where we
took the seven-mile side trip to Dinosaur National Monument (photos
3 & 4), a place we visited when our sons were about 7 or 8
years old, they are now in their early 30’s. While much has changed,
much as stayed the same. It was hot when we were here 24 years ago,
also. Now cars must park at the entrance and take a shuttle. Because
we are self-contained, they allowed us to drive the motorcycle up
to the quarry…. Lucky us.
Inside we heard a ranger explain that these dinosaur remains are about
140 years old and they came to be here because a riverbed apparently
once occupied this location. Not surprising since the Green River
ran right outside, about 200 yards from the present quarry. It seems
that some of these dinosaurs drowned during high water, while others
were washed into a kind of catch basin due to the course of the river.
As the climate and geology changed over the next 140 million years,
this part of the riverbed raised at about the same time that the Rockies
were being formed. You can easily see the variety of dinosaur bones
that have been exposed for all to see (photos 5, 6, & 7).
The interesting thing is that with modern carbon dating and DNA testing,
they have discovered that one of these dinosaurs is actually a direct
relative of Rush Limbaugh (photo 8). Imagine that.
By this time, it’s now 93 degrees and we need to get in the back of
the trailer and get something to drink (photo 9). Man this
trailer has been handy. Thanks again, Dave. I wander down and take
a picture of the Green River (photo 10) and wonder what that
ancient river looked like that captured those hundreds of dinosaur
bones. We head west for Vernal, Utah, then north to the Flaming Gorge
On the way up the mountain, we see an unusual site, a large strip
mine. This mining operation is mining phosphate and there are signs
saying “Danger, Blasting Area” and as you can see, the large earthmovers
look small as they go about their business (photo 11). As we
come down the other side of the mountain, we cross some small fingers
of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir where families are swimming (photos
12, 13, & 14). This is a nice looking lake.
We arrive at the Flaming Gorge Dam and stop to take pictures (photos
15, 16, & 17) and get something to drink since the temperature
is now 95 degrees. Inside the visitor’s center, they have a 52-pound
Mackinaw trout that was caught in this reservoir. That is one big
trout, especially since the largest I have ever caught is about two
pounds. We find that Hwy 191 was closed as recently as three days
ago, due to a recent forest fire.
As we leave, the docent reminds us that 500 fire fighters have just
fought and put out a 20,000+-acre fire. Sure enough, as we start
to climb out of the mountains, just a short distance from the dam
and town, we see the charred remains of this recent forest fires.
As we drive through we can smell the pungent odor of burnt wood.
This is the first real evidence of the many fires we have been hearing
about on this trip. We were told that a forest fire came within 12
miles of Durango, CO. But here, is the direct evidence of the destruction
of this fire (photo 18 & 19).
The road from Flaming Gorge Dam starts to climb out of the mountains
and takes us to an interesting sight. Most of our trip has taken
us through many large valleys or plains where we have spent much time
looking up at the mountains. Here, in the Flaming Gorge area, we
climb to the top of a plateau and end up looking down on the “Flaming
Gorge” itself. The valley below is red and green and stretches off
into the distance. A pronghorn antelope crosses the road in front
of us and bounds away into the brush as we turn a corner to view another
large valley on our left side, this one more yellow and green in color.
Now we can look down at miles and miles of Utah and Wyoming. Linda
comments to me through our headset that it was like sitting on top
of the world, looking down (photo 20).
We finally reach Rock Springs, WY and gas up. We jump onto U.S. Hwy
80 for about 10 minutes then follow Hwy. 191 north, once again. This
part of Wyoming is pretty boring with broad expanses of flat, desert
dry surroundings. I can see why they call this “Big Sky” country.
We continued on for several more hours before we started to see a
change in the surrounding terrain. It starts to get green about 50
miles from Jackson. The closer we get to Jackson Hole, the more beautiful
become the mountains, with glimpse of the Tetons in the distance.
It is now about 5:30 in the afternoon and we are in the middle of
a spectacular canyon filled with long shadows, trees, rugged rock
formations, and the Hoback River following faithfully alongside.
This road is a motorcyclist dream, and I find myself running at between
60 and 65 as the road curves back and forth crossing the river time
and again. If you were a Zen Buddhist, you would say that we were
one with the road and river. It is as close as you will come to getting
high on a motorcycle.
As we finally get closer to Jackson, the sun is getting low in the
sky and this can be a dangerous time for motorcyclist. This is the
time that deer or antelope come out to graze and often cross the road
without warning. If you're not careful, you can end up with a deer
or antelope on your handlebars. Linda is on the lookout for these
creatures and, with her sharp eyes, starts to see bunches of them.
Fortunately, all of them are well out in the fields dining on the
lush green vegetation.
At about 6:30, in 95-degree temperatures, we finally come into Jackson.
It is crowded and hot with lots of traffic thrown in for fun. Did
I say, crowded and hot? We finally pull into a Days Inn and crash.
Oops, a motorcyclist should never say crash. I mean we checked in
and relaxed. It has been a hot day, but an interesting one. Tomorrow
we will head for Cody, Wyoming.