Saturday, September 29, 2012

I've Got an Idea Simmering...

Come Tuesday morning or so I'll load the Raider on the truck, hitch up the fiver and we'll start our fall migration toward the NASCAR Races in Avondale and our Arizona desert winter camp.

This year we've got a bit different plans for the winter. We're hopin' to make some progress with our plan to arrange some sort of more permanent winter camp / RV Home Base.

It promises to be a bit of a challenge since I am apparently genetically predisposed to operating without the finances that would allow most to walk with the demeanor of high optimism.

To confuse our thinking... Floating around within the dust cloud of my scheming is an idea that I've had for some time. So, I'm puttin' it out there as sort of a Market Research question;

I'm wonderin' if there'd be much demand or market in North Central Arizona... likely somewhere between somewhere SW of Prescott and on up to Ash Fork... for a nice Biker Camp of sorts? I'm thinking of something that would be able to offer pretty much year round service.

My idea is for a camp that has a few mini sleeping cabins along the lines of KOA, a small tent ground, a pair of Forest Service type outhouses ~ "Chicks and Dudes", (maybe only "commercial event" porta-johns to get started), a shower setup of some variety, a community cooking Ramada (stoves and misc hardware), a fire pit, and a motorcycle maintenance area (tools and such you could use at your own risk!) 

The "Vision" is for a rustic log and rock kind of place... maybe even include some sort of Industrial Moto Rustic design using shipping containers for the core of the cabins! ??? ;)

If anyone has an opinion I'd be interested to hear it. I'd like to see if there's any interest at all 'fore I really started investing much of my limited remaining intellect into the project. :)

I haven't really hammered out a solid idea for what I'd need to charge for the place. I know my goal is to build it with an idea toward keeping it targeted on the more low cost / frugal sort of rider and considerably below the sort of rates KOA and such places other places collect. A guy still needs to turn a profit to keep the thing operating... but... My idea of the profit I need is to put beans on my table and gas in the tank of my Raider.

That said I'm guessing I'm lookin' at $10 bucks or so for the tent ground and maybe somewhere around $25 for one of the sleeping cabins (depending on their absolute cost of construction).

What's your mind? Is there a call for such a setup down there... and what kind of "Rates" and facilities do you look for when you search up a camp?

Is there an Arizona market for this or am I flailing in the wind?

Many Thanks for your input.

Grab Your Handles and Ride

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Way Home...

After listening to the Elk bugle much of the night I rose to enjoy the soft sunrise of my last day on the road, walking along the Canyon rim of Flaming Gorge.

As I was returning to camp to pack up several of the locals wandered by...

I was watching this doe and this year's fawn when I spotted some movement coming up from a Canyon Overlook up ahead.

I'm guessing they bed down in the safety of the Canyon Walls for the night and then come back up to graze through the day...

Don't know if it's coincidence or they're prospering, but it seems like every time I come back their numbers have increased...

*Big Horns, just clearing the Flaming Gorge rim*

*Nice View from camp*
But no matter how fine the view I had miles to go before sunset so I'd no choice but to load the bike and keep on rolling...

I wasn't anxious to get where I was going (the end of the trip) so I cruised pretty easy coming down out of the High Country into the desert around Vernal Utah.

The Fall is well advanced up there...

*The road out of Canyon Rim Campground*

*Roads through the Aspen Gold near Flaming Gorge*
I rode out past Dinosaur National Monument (didn't stop this time) and on through Meeker, Craig, Steamboat Springs to Walden. I fueled there and coffeed up for the final run down Pouder Canyon and home...

Figures that the best mileage of the ride (55 mpg+) came on that last tank running down the canyon. ;)

Getting back from a ride is always a mixed bag. By the time a trip is done my head is clear and my strength is greater... The sheer Joy of being exactly where I belong feeds the desire to just keep on rolling...

We'll be moving camp early next week. It's the start of a slow, month long migration back to the Valley of the Sun for a weeklong November job at NASCAR.

... I'm scheming a few rides this winter around that southern desert country...

Grab Your Handles and Ride!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Making the Run From Almo, Idaho to the Canyon Rim at Flaming Gorge

I wasn't looking forward to the ride out of City of Rocks that next morning. After that washboardy hammering of the earlier afternoon, it wasn't what I figured to be a good start to a day of Highballin'!

But, I fretted on that road out the east side all for nuthin'...

*Elephant Rock, City of Rocks, Idaho*

*The Road out the East side of City of Rocks*
While the west side coming in from Oakley is a 1st gear washboardy ride, rough as most would want to roll a road bike over, the east side going back out to Almo is a nice, smooth rollin' hardpacked  trip. No Worries!

I soon caught Hwy 30 running east and linked up with I-84 near Snowville, Utah.

The plan was to race down that chunk of slab about as quick as I could. I really have little use for 'em and avoid interstates as much as possible. I'd catch I-80 east at Echo and jump the hell off that boring slab of asphalt as soon as possible at Fort Bridger to take Hwy 414 down through Manila and then take Hwy 44 to Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.

Along the way, I got to feeling a lil' sorry for myself 'cause I'd felt the need to cut my trip a few days shorter than I'd hoped. I was standing in a mens room at a fuel stop and I came across this lil' picture...

Kinda refreshed the knowledge that a lot has to do with perspective! ;) I expect there's quite a few folks toilin' away in their cubicles that'd give most of their right leg to enjoy the Freedoms I do have! So quit my whinin' right? :)

I'd fiddled around enjoying the morning back in Idaho so I wasn't riding into the Flaming Gorge area until nigh on to suppertime.

*First Color near Flaming Gorge*
 ... only to discover... all the campgrounds were already closed and locked up! Geeze... I'm so weary of this crap. The forest service has handed over most of the country's campgrounds to be run by private corporations.

If they can't turn a profit they lock 'em up as if they own 'em!

When the traffic falls off in the fall, so that they can't turn a profit, they leave and go home... locking gates that never used to exist when I was a kid. The Forest Service didn't seem to have a problem running the camps then... arrrrrrrrrggggghhhhhhhh

When you take into consideration that all those mgmt. corps pay is something around 4% of the take in "Rent" on their contracts... My wife and I still own a small store in Fort Collins. I wish to hell we could have rent of only 4%!!!

...and a company can run those camps at a profit... while only paying that 4% or so... Why can't the Forest Service run the places themselves, since it is their chartered job... considering they don't have to turn a "Profit"... and the fact... that they'd be getting 100% of the take... not 4% or so? Just Sayin'.

Here it was gorgeous September weather and the camps were all locked up! Why'n hell do you need a padlock on an outhouse?

Last I heard the responsibility of the Forest Service was to manage the Nations Forests for the benefit of the people... NOT ... the profit of a corporation... ok... end of rant...

Well... at the Canyon Rim campground, the bozo's hung the gate in past several tent campsites... So closed or not... I set up my tent and enjoyed myself. Since they failed to leave any way to pay for the night, and didn't come around to collect the rent... they didn't get it... or that from the several other folks who camped on OUR land anyway. ;)

I know a "few" fellas that just roll their scooters around the gates and pitch their tents... Kind of a Thoreauean exercise in civil disobedience! ;)

That was another dark, beautiful night...

*Moonrise over Flaming Gorge*

Layin' there in my bag with the ends of the tent fly rolled up I watched the stars and the moonrise... as the coyotes howled... and then long after sunset the Bull Elk started bugling. Awesome!

Got up the next morning early, and enjoyed another sunrise over some of the prettiest country we have to live in. Was a little melancholy though... It'd be the day I had to ride on back home...

"Going Home" and Splitting the Wind on the Road... It makes me mindful of the line in that song; "Torn Beween Two Lovers..."

But the end of the ride will have to wait for tomorrow!

Grab Your Handles and Ride!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tailoring a Trip to the Unfortunate Reality of...

... I'm a buster with more ambitions than dinero to finance 'em! :)

I sat in that Motel 6 pullin' and stretchin' my last dollars, tryin' to make 'em fit a run for the coast... and no matter which way I tweaked it... that last dollar kept snappin'. Wantin' to run out to the Oregon coast was just a mite over ambitious this time...

It'd be a real unpleasant couple of weeks... pushin' that 800 lb motorcycle the last 500 miles or so home...

So... I made the decision that, this time, a lil' discretion was in order and I decided I should shave a thousand miles or so off this run and make Boise the far end of this circle.

When I got up in the morning I coffee'd up, fueled and headed South East on I-84. I've never been partic'lar fond of interstates... and I still ain't... but that piece of slab was the onliest way to get where I was headed that morning; The Thousand Springs Scenic Byway / Hwy 30 that starts near Bliss, Idaho.

Just south of Bliss is the Hagerman National Monument and Visitor center. That's the place where they found the fossils of what used to be the Native Horses... leastways, 3 million and some years ago!

*Hagerman National Monument Horse Fossil*
They were actually a lot bigger than I thought they'd been. Nearly what a modern Mustang is...

Climbed back on the Raider and kept moving easy down U.S. 30. Just a few miles down the road from the Nat. Monument Visitor center is a section of the Snake river with high bluffs on the north side. It's the area that gave the byway its name.

 A thousand springs blow out of the side of the bluffs and pour into the river...

 For a mile or so ... you'll have to work at keepin' one eye on the asphalt while the other is tryin' to focus on the many springs cascading down the bluff...

When you come down into Boise out of the mountains you enter the high desert of Idaho. Running SE you pass through long miles of that dry, open ground broken up here and there by irrigated fields.

I kept moving and turned straight south onto Idaho 27 at Burley... and discovered one of the... uh... difficulties slow witted drifters can encounter when they're using multiple paper maps! :)

Just 'cause grey means pavement on one map... don't mean that's the legend working on that Other map. Turned out the road into the City of Rocks Reserve... AIN'T paved all the way.

Now, I'm not so wussy that I avoid un-asphalted chunks of road just 'cause I straddle a road bike... but... I might have made excuses to travel a different way if I'd known how washboardy that trail was gonna be...

... and I'd have gone another way to my Loss! It's a pretty sweet camp you'll find in there... even if the road is not quite prime.

*Just south of Oakely Idaho on the way to City of Rocks*
Yeah... for 8 or 10 miles it was often a first gear thumper of a gravel/dirt road. Somebody on a dual sport wouldn't even notice it likely... on a fat tired road bike... it got my attention here and there! ;)

*Past the worst of it and nearly to camp*

*West entrance to City of Rocks National Reserve*
Though it was a lil' unexpected... If that buddy of mine succeeds in talkin' me into a return ride to Alaska next year... along with accompanying him up the Dalton Highway to Prudhoe... I guess I can consider lil' jaunts like this'un to be good training.

It hit me as I was pullin' out of Oakely where I'd picked up my supper for the night at Searle's Market. I had one of those Cowboy Epiphanies... This'un is about why I like these solo rides into lil' corners of no where so much.

I'd passed a couple of small feedlot operations earlier in the day and it struck me that Those are how I see cities for the most part. The Human version of a feedlot. Yup, pack as many critters as you can into as small a space as you can and then squeeze the profit out of 'em.

Such thinkin' always seems to set maybe my favorite John Denver tune rollin' through my brain pan.

"To the Mountains, I can Rest there
To the Rivers I will be Strong
To the Forests I'll find Peace there
To the Wild Country where I Belong

To The Wild Country Where I Belong"

'less of course it be "Wild Montana Skies"

Ran that last lil' bit from the entrance monument and found a sweet camp among the City of rocks.

*making notes of the day*
*Left the rain fly off to see the stars in the Sweet Weather*
If you're a climber or hiker there's every sort of climbing in this lil' park I guess.. That's what the few people there seemed to be doin'.

Me? I was cowboy engineering...

*First you build your kitchen*
You remember I blew up my stove... and hadn't a good experience with the minimal Sterno Stove I replaced it with? So... bein' stubborn... and hungry, I erected a biker cowboy kitchen to shield the cooking from the wind the lil' stove lacks the power to fight...

 With proper ventilation and drainage and good wind protection ya'll got some hope...

but... the flooring design interferes with the contents of your "cooking pot" and requires...

The construction of proper support legs to level the stove on the well drained floor!

That'll keep your supper in the "Pot" while it cooks...

But then you'll discover that Sterno's designers apparently didn't feel the need to actually test their design before the slung it on the market...

The result being that you need to install a height adjustment device to get the heat near enough to your pot to actually cook anything...

*Adjusting the Heat on a Sterno Stove*

So... While I was looking around camp while supper heated up I discovered they had added a few amenities...

Like Cup Holders scattered amongst the scenery viewing seating...

*City of Rocks National Reserve Cup Holder!*
But shortly supper was done and the table was set...

*Two Course Biker Cowboy Gourmet Cuisine!*

Now, Ara the Beemer Chef might be able to whip up five star, one pan recipes in camp... but it takes a broken down old puss gut Biker Cowboy to spin up a fine 2 Can feast like this! :)

*Tough Little Flower in City of Rocks*

*Sunrise over City of Rocks*

I believe this camp may have revealed more stars and constellations... and the Milky Way than any other I've been in. The darkness and silence was awesome...

and tomorrow is yet to come...

Living High and Free

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Running Between the Fires and Nearly Lost Coffee

I got up to frost on the Bike... Frost on the tent... on the table... uh huh, it was cool! ;) So... I went to work building a cup of coffee with my brand spankin' new REI coffee maker and that Sterno stove. Luckily the wind weren't blowin' this morning!

Knowin' it was gonna take a bit, I set the water to heatin' while I started breakin' camp. I had near ever'thing down and loaded by the time the water was hot enough to build my first cup...

I was plannin' on havin' two!

Always in the past I carried a lil' jar of instant. It's easy to just drop it in the cup.

The problem with instant is... you likely know... it tastes like something you scraped off your boot...

*MC Charging Plug*
While the water was cookin' I also plugged my phone in to the charging socket that I got reinstalled last week. (this is a pic I took then of my Ipod gettin' rejuiced but you get the idea)

Anyhoo, there I am this chilly morning; camp's mostly down and the bike's warmin' up to make sure I didn't kill the battery chargin' my phone...  ground coffee got loaded into its place in the maker and I started pourin' hot water into my cup.

I can hear the water dribblin' into the cup and the anticipation of a good hot cup to warm up as I watched the sun rise had my mouth watering...

... and then the water stopped.

I mean... It just stopped. Lookin' down at that coffee maker, the water just sat there in the top of the funnel and... wasn't makin' nuthin'. arrrrrrggggghhhhh...

The grounds had worked like a cork and just sealed up. First time an REI bit has failed me. So.... I tap the thing a couple of times hopin' to break something loose and get it to flowin' again... 'cause about all I'd got was a few tablespoons of coffee...

and I did... break something loose.... The GOL DURN Coffee carrier part! KeeerrrrrrrRAP!

 Yeah... the $%@# thing fell off right into the mug and dumped all the grounds out in the process...

Well... I'm not goin' 'thout a cup of coffee when it's all still right there in front of me...

I fished the lil' carrier cup out of my mug, which, of course, left all the grounds still in the mug with my Coffee! Well... I poured the coffee out of the mug through that strainer cup into my second canteen cup.

That sorted out the grounds and left me with one cup of well handled hot coffee... and kinda strong! :) Good thing too. I mighta hurt someone had I not got that one, single, precious cup of hot coffee...

Only had to flush the mug of remainder grounds with a bit of water and I was back in business... but... you guessed it, that cheapie  coffee maker... that didn't!...  followed the old stove into the trash can! ;)

I strolled around that Beaver Dick campground in the morning sunrise, sippin' my coffee and enjoyin' the morning quiet along the river.

*The river passin' by Madison Counties Beaver Dick Campground*

Once I packed away the last of my gear I climbed on and headed west on Idaho 33 through the morning chill to Mud lake in search of that second cup of coffee and a jelly donut!

Properly fortified I made the turn north onto Idaho 28  for the run up to Salmon Idaho.

I suggest you get well coffee'd up in parts of Southern Idaho... seems there's tolerable stretches where if you don't have caffeine to keep you awake you might could doze off... the road is a lil' bit straight for some long pieces!

Me I still like that open country... It lets a mans chest expand to full volume... not all constricted like it gets down in the heavily peopled places.

A bit farther west, after you make the turn SW at Salmon leaving Hwy 28 you turn onto U.S. 93 and then Idaho 21 at Stanley... This trip I was shooting for the gap between two fires. I'd turned this way to avoid the collection of conflagrations to the north. Here, on the only good road across this part of Idaho there remained just two... A big one South of the road and NW of the lil' town of Featherville in Elmore county and another to the North of the road a ways.

'twas my hope to slide 'tween the two without getting singed. 

The smoke was strong for a ways but began to thin the farther west I rolled. What can I say? This part of Idaho is some Joyous country and a genuinely Great Motorcycle road... Smoky or not!

*Along the Salmon River*

*The "misty" smoke seemed almost mysterious at times*

The barren country is behind you. The rivers water the land and the road finds its way through the mountains in ways that hang a shining smile on your face!

You come to a section of it, down on the Idaho 21 part where I swear, that road should easily give The Dragon in North Carolina a run for its money. I don't believe there was a straight stretch of much more than fifty feet for several miles...

I remember thinking in the middle of a couple of hard leaners, where I was close to draggin' the pegs on that bike loaded with my camp; "OK, that's pretty much 180, I better be ready for it to swap back over the the other side, it'll be comin' up soon... which it eventually did but I swear it went closer to 270 degrees before she turned back. :)

I only wish I'd hit it earlier in the day when I was a bit fresher! :) and I wished I'd had that helmet camera that got stolen a couple of weeks back... Suh-Wheet Motorcycle Road!

It's a road that tests you in a couple of ways. The pavement ain't in the greatest condition, so it tests not only your riding skills and the traction of your tires... but your Judgement as well... as in; "Hmmmm.... maybe I should oughta ease up rollin' through here!" Ha ha! Shining Times!

I dropped down into Boise toward the end of day and decided that after three days of, ridin' in the smoke, busted stoves, failed coffee makers, cold nights and an internet system that wouldn't let me Do My Thing... I'd treat myself to a bed inside and a store bought supper.

Yup... the treat was a Motel 6 bunk for $43 bucks and a Denny's Fish dinner! Hey, I'm a cheap date!

That set me up good though for gettin' up early the next morning. I'd figure a thing or two out, do that bit of posting I managed and hit the road with one good nights sleep under my belt.

Another small lesson I may have gained; I think me and mummy sleeping bags might have seen our last get together. ;) I haven't had a chance to check yet... but I think I may have grabbed the wrong bag. I seem to remember that mine is a touch roomier than hers... 

It's either that or I've outgrown the claustrophobia inducing torture bags. Whichever it turns out to be... on this trip, I felt like I was tryin' to sleep in a sock!

Not a good thing to wake up in the middle of oh-damn-it's-dark and you can't move... It reminded me of that nightmare I had forty years ago where a giant spider had wrapped me up in it's web...

When I woke up and my arms were pinned to my sides and I couldn't move for a few seconds. I fear I... uh ... might have made some noise... the camp neighbors sure looked at me "oddly" come the dawn! ;)

That and I believe my old bones are gonna go lookin' hard at that luxury lite fold up cot I've had recommended to me...

On to makin' a decision after breakfast...

Ridin' the Wild West

Friday, September 21, 2012

Making Adjustments in Cody Wyoming

So... first things first... I fought with that lil' whisperlite stove for another few minutes and nearly started another local fire! The thing was either an out of control inferno or dead...

*deceased 20 year old whisperlite backpacking stove*

After chucking it in the dumpster I climbed on the packed up bike and headed for Mickey D's. Figured I could have an egg McMuffin' while I used their WiFi... except... took me twenty minutes to even get their WiFi to let me on... and when it did Blogger wouldn't let me log in to build the post!

Things are By God Lookin' Up! :)

So, all I could do was choke down that McDonalds Breakfast and roll by Walmart to see if they'd have some sort of an acceptable, if temporary alternative to my broken stove. Got one... Named Sterno... but that's sort of a story for a lil' later. ;)

Word was that there were Health Warnings out in Missoula and the area for all the smoke up that way. I finally found a map on my phone that showed locations of active fires...

... and yup... right through where all those dots look like a pin cushion is where I'd wanted to roll... So... I opted to change course and cut straight west across Yellowstone National Park. My hope was to slip 'tween number eleven and twelve... as that was the only remaining good road without having to detour too far south going west...

It was cool early but with light traffic making only one Buffalo Jam it made for a pretty easy transit of the park. Only saw that one buffalo who was takin' a stroll down the middle of the lane with twenty pilgrims dutifully followin' along behind...

... until some GUY :) on a Red Yamaha leaned over onto the center stripe and passed up the whole mess.

I guess that remembered some folks what that round thing in front of the driver is for... when I looked back in my mirror they'd all started passing the Buffalo Stroller. 

The haze from all the fires was pretty heavy which kinda got in the way of photography... but it was still, as always an awful pretty place to roll through.

Stopped in West Yellowstone for gas, coffee and chocolate to fuel another hundred miles or so. By then it was into the afternoon and I was dodgin' not only fires but now storms as well...

*Storm chasing me west of West Yellowstone*
This one chased me for half a tank. :) A couple of times the road would turn and I'd think of stopping to climb into rain gear... and then the road would turn again so I'd just keep rollin'.

*A Good Omen or a Warning? West of Yellowstone"
The last time I thought it had me... the sun finally broke out just as I thought I was gonna get wet... Nice.

Well, I thought I had another fifty miles or so to get to a camp when up came a county park in Madison county Idaho. Didn't get the scoop on it but with the name of Beaver Dick... I'm guessing it was named for some old mountain man.

It sits on highway 33 just west a ways from Rexburg, Idaho.

*Beaver Dick County park in Madison County Idaho*
Now... with another storm brewin'... I started my supper on the table there...

*Sterno Stove*

 Looks like a likely setup don't it? A fold up stove box with a can of sterno and some fine vittles for a Not-so-picky hungry Biker Cowboy...

... and discovered some of the short comings of tryin' to Cook... with sterno. It just ain't got enough btu's in it I'm guessin' to overcome the design flaws of the system... AND... the wind. more on that in a later post. ;)

So, though I started the cookin' on the table...

T'was dead calm right until I lit the fire, and then up came the wind. Whipping mu supper the whole time it was heating.

*trying to beat the wind with a sterno stove*

 I ended up... Sittin' on a big rock with that sterno stove cradled 'twixt my feet... with me huddled over it with my fleece spread like a 160 lb. bat trying to ward off the wind so I could have a hot supper!

I really ended up... squatting behind that big rock... eating forkfull by forkfull out of the can as it heated. Ah sweet adventure, eh? :)

Guess what happened as I shoveled the last forkful of stew 'tween my teeth? ... uh huh... dead calm!!!

Now Ara the Beemer Chef might can make you some Five Star camp cuisine... but it takes a cowboy biker to eat this fine! :)

... and I'm sorta awesome at doin' the dishes after supper as well!

*Slurp Slurp! Ah... Dishes all done! :) *
Had a good conversation with a Motorhome traveler out of Las Vegas that night and the next morning. That's one of the best parts of wandering and this trip... visiting with folks along the way from other places and ways... and gaining a lil' different perspective of the world about.

I've had more visiting on this trip than is normal for me. hmmm... maybe I'm finally growin' up! ... Say it ain't so!

The only difficulty I had all day was... um... other people "On the road"... I sure wish "Folks" would pay attention to what they're doin' and its affect on the other people they share the roads with... and it AIN'T just cagers!

They run along, in a long string... fluctuating their speed 10-15 miles an hour, and tailgating so close it's a misery to get past their rolling road block safely. It's just plain rude... and that includes that string of 8 ... um... bikes that shall remain nameless...that were spaced so close you couldn't pass one at a time in the short passing zones... and them goin' waaaay under the limit... and not being able to even hold that speed consistent... arrrrrrggggghhhhhh.... there's still a part of me that can get grumpy! ;)

They tailgate along so close you just can't pass one at a time... and the road is generally such that you seldom have space to take the whole bunch in a Gang Pass, so you waddle along waiting patiently for a safe place...

That's one nice thing about this Yamaha Raider... when confronted by rude "drivers" who disregard ever'body else on the road... it don't take nearly as much passing zone to get clear. :)

Just twist the throttle on Red Sonja and let 'er flap in the breeze. HooYa!

There's a few more days of updates comin' along... but windy as I am I'll put 'em up one day at a time!

Grab Your Handles and Ride!

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