Cholo's 2019 Road Trip--16,750 miles in 9 weeks

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Cholo

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Time for this year's Great Adventure :) I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything I missed last year due to fires and record heat while on the bike. In '14 I bought a Nissan NV2500 full sized cargo van for the business that would have eventually gone to my tech when his Chevy Express crapped out. I used it as a sales van and sold the business in '16, the Nissan not being part of the deal. I drove it very little over the next 3 years but didn't want to sell it. I sold the unused racks out of it a few months back and now I have all sorts of room. Time to put it to good use...

I put some new Goodyear on/off road tires on it and off I went. I knew I wanted to make a bee line to Colorado Springs, 1300 miles. I'm off! 440 miles later I'm about 40 miles south of St. Louis and needed some gas. Filled up, used the restroom, and came back to the van to load my 2 guns after going thru a very short piece of IL. Right... I really felt like sleeping in my own bed that night so I turned around and headed back home.

The next day I awoke refreshed! While I'm here, why don't I take this over sized Rubbermaid container sitting on my living room floor that has literally all of my clothes, 2 handguns, binoculars, and 2 jackets? That would be nice to have on my extended road trip, ya think? Sure, I'll take it this time... This won't be the last blunder I'll make and I'm sure many of you will wonder how I can find my way out of a motel room, but I manage, usually :)

I'm in the middle of Enema, KS getting gas at the only thing at the exit. It's a 28 gal. tank so I sit in my easy chair while the dollars tick off. Bump bump bump on the side of my van. Huh? I look out and a guy asks me where I'm from in GA. I told him. He's from the same town and works for the Sheriff's Dept. Very small world!

I don't think I'll ever get tired of my 1st view of the Rocky Mtns while traveling east to west. This time I was about 100 miles from Colorado Springs, and it was Pikes Peak. I think I'll go there tomorrow.

My adventure begins...

The road to Pikes Peak is steep and relatively narrow. Lots of sheer drop offs with no guardrail. You'd be wise to put your transmission into 1st gear for the descent. It's hard to imagine that people race up this mtn. A week or 2 before I got there a racer went over the edge 100-200' from the finish line. Talk about bad luck!




I hadn't been to Rocky Mountain NP since '73. Let's go!








I've heard Mt. Evans is pretty this time of year. Think I'll check it out :) It's a lot like Pikes Peak but with a narrower road that was horrible for the last few miles. The view was far prettier than the relatively bland PP. Quite windy!








I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's adventure. My Physical Therapist for my back recommended this out of the way place.
 

Cholo

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I didn't know if I was going to like this 4 wheeled travel feeling that it might be too sanitized.

I stayed in Leadville with a line of beautiful snow capped mtns. right there. I was getting up at 4AM to get out the door at 1st light before the sun comes up. I'm already 2 hours behind Eastern Time so it was like me getting up at 6AM back home.





Regarding that last pic: That's snow melt and those beautiful cascading waterfall like creeks are everywhere! They keep meeting each other until you have a raging white water river. It's simply amazing! I was told that last year this general area of Colorado didn't get much snow, but this past winter they got around 120-140"s :shock: It made for incredible scenery throughout the summer!

On to Aspen and one part of this trip I was really looking forward to, what my Physical Therapist said she thought I'd like. This place is shown several times in the video I believe Pat put up last spring. It's at the 3:07 and 5:14 mark: https://vimeo.com/186483277 There's not much parking at the destination so it's recommended to take the shuttle bus for about $7. It's closed in the winter because it's in an extreme avalanche area. It was quite obvious with the non stop barren areas where avalanches take out everything. They don't, obviously, clean avalanches up. They just leave a massive pile of tree trunks piled up. Yes, they do clear it off the roads.

So here I was at one of the most spectacular places I've ever been--Maroon Bells. I'll never stop being almost shocked at such beauty. Pics can't possible do it justice as they always look so puny, and that goes for all the pics I took on this trip and every one in my lifetime. The Bells rise 4,583' above the lake. It was still pretty early so there were few people there. It's a short hike to the lake, but you can see them from the parking area. I stayed for 2 1/2 hours. No matter how many pics I took, I never got the perfect one.





One thing's for certain: You'll get scorched in that brilliant sun at higher altitudes so make sure you wear a hat or sunscreen. I talked with a young Park Ranger on the trail. He said 3 years ago Maroon Bells had 170,000 visitors. 2 years later, last year, 470,000. Word's getting out so stay away! :)

It's pitiful that rest rooms have to post signs like this:



It's well posted that no drones are allowed here! I saw those signs at many places and National Parks I visited.

I'm convinced that there's not many places on earth where someone won't go on a bicycle. Maroon Bells was an obvious one with many cyclists, most of them courteous. The not so courteous ones I want to ram a broom stick thru their front spokes :mrgreen: While taking the shuttle back down the steep mountain this bicycle came out of nowhere and passed us doing 60-70 mph. I've never seen a bicycle go that fast, and I'm not so sure it was intentional! It reminded me of this video :)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rLkfC2CuZ4
 

tom black

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Stunning pics. Maroon Bells are on my bucket list. Also, that's a great shot of Billy Gibbons.
Tom Black
 

Bear Paw Jack

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Between 12,095 and 14,130 ft. I hope you had a batch of oxygen with you. I would have needed it. You traveled some nice country.

They are right about those goats. They can be mean, and those horns (daggers) can be dangerous.
 

Pat-inCO

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The only thing you missed so far is the valley behind the Bells. REALLY nice.
I lived/worked there for three years, while I was young enough to really explore it. 8)


P.S. You could not get your van in to the back of the Bells. The clowns from Denver
have turned the road into a 4x4 rock trail. SIGH!


P.P.S. Now you know what I miss about CO. :wink:
 

Cholo

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The air was def. thin up there. I chased a few goats and younger women to no avail. I was fine unless I exerted myself. Then it was a no go :(

Getting out of Aspen was a chore with traffic backed up all over the place. There must have been a fairly good sized airport because I saw all sorts of fancy jets flying in. How do those rich and famous get around once they land? Helicopters? Hover-boards? Beam me up, Scotty? What a nightmare!

Cholo Sez: If you want to see anything popular, get there no later than 7AM. By 10:30 you're screwed with the crowds who can't get their bright screen zombie spawn out of the motel door earlier. This goes for any popular State Park or National Park, from here on referred to as SP and NP.

I didn't mind jumping on interstates to get from here to there as opposed to last year on my motorcycle. I crossed into UT and pulled over at the same rest area I did last year. A guy was traveling back to San Diego from Chicago on his bike. I gave him water and all the ice out of my cooler he wanted. I've been there in the heat, though it was nothing like last year. Super nice guy! I well remember the good samaritan who pulled over and offered me cold water, as opposed to the hot water I had, when I was played out from heat exhaustion east of Fresno.



Last year I missed going thru the town of Cisco, UT by 2 miles. That's where Barry Newman crashed his '70 Dodge Challenger into the bulldozers in the movie Vanishing Point. I didn't know it then, but I did now. Well, there's not much left other than dilapidated buildings and this gem. If you don't get it, you didn't see the movie:

I'll leave out the pics I took that had my fingers over the lens. Sometimes it's just so bright that you can't see that you're doing it, and it doesn't take much with pics taken on a smart phone horizontally.






I've got a few NP's to visit in SW UT. Time to move on...
 

Bear Paw Jack

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"Getting out of Aspen was a chore with traffic backed up all over the place. There must have been a fairly good sized airport because I saw all sorts of fancy jets flying in. How do those rich and famous get around once they land? Helicopters? Hover-boards? Beam me up, Scotty? What a nightmare!"

I used to love going to Aspen. That was a lot of years ago. Coming back down the mountain, before you get very far you can frequently look across the valley and watch elk meandering around. I liked watching them.
 
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Beautiful photos! Great big country. Brought back memories. Somewhere I have a photo of me sitting in front of the Pikes Peak sign. For a guy with COPD that altitude was an EXPERIENCE to say the least. I figured I could go into the gift shop and get a shot of O2. Guess what wasn't operating that day? Any chance you bought a doughnut at the peak? I did and only ate half up there. By the time we got back to Colorado Springs the other half was as hard as a hammer.
 

bogus bill

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"I've got a few NP's to visit in SW UT. Time to move on..."
That's where we live. Honk when you pass through.
 

Cholo

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The building at the top of Pikes Peak was under construction so there was limited access. Frank, if I'd have bought a donut I doubt 1/2 of it would have survived to test it like you did :)

Colorado really is gorgeous!

Now I was in UT. What in the crystal meth dope smoking world is this swill? 85 octane is considered regular? You're kidding, right? I'm not using it. I believe Idaho had the same thing.



Here's a NP most have probably never heard about.



The main road thru the Park was nice but not spectacular. The petroglyphs were really cool, but very hard to see and photograph. These were way up there! This was made between 600 and 1300 AD.



The real beauty of the Park is taking Scenic Drive to the end of the paved road and then taking the dirt road to the end, Capital Gorge. Now, that's nice! The narrow road winds thru the gorge with cliffs right at the road. I was fortunate to see 3 Desert Bighorn Sheep with the largest climbing out on a ledge that didn't look to be 2" wide. No pics of it on the ledge, only video that I don't know how to upload.

The Gorge









I took the slower but more scenic route, Hwy. 12, to get to Bryce Canyon NP. I really enjoyed that ride along with its 14% grades. Very scenic!

Well, I got to Bryce Canyon NP after the dreaded 10:30AM I talked about. It was a nightmare full of people. The 1st 2 scenic pull offs were completely jammed with a line of cars waiting to find a parking spaces. Great! I got in the 3rd one and it really was pretty! I got in the rest of them but never could get near the 1st one. Oh well.







I finally got in the 2nd pull off after traveling all the way to the end of the Park. There weren't many spots at the railing to view the formations. I just had to get stuck next to a basement dwelling full fledged communist loudly trying to convince 2 elderly women of their need to pay much higher taxes, and he was LOUD!

"Paying the government higher taxes is a good thing! Let's have a discussion about that. The government needs more of your money!"

"But we can barely make ends meet as it is."

"Everybody can be more thrifty, even you two. Let's discuss ways you can be more thrifty. Remember, the government needs more of your money."

I had to walk away. It wasn't my battle, and if I said what was on my mind, it wouldn't have ended well, not at all. I have no patience for fools like that. What possesses people to talk their politics to strangers in a NP? NP's are calming and not a place for unsolicited political drivel from either side. I was taking a vacation away from politics. Om... :)

The next day I hit Zion NP bright and early. You have to take a shuttle bus into the main area of the Park.







I walked the trail to the end, something I couldn't have done 4 months earlier. The physical therapy is really working! There's a place where water seeps thru the rock cliff. The shuttle driver said that it takes the water 1,100 years to get from the top of the cliff to the bottom. He mentioned that the water had been tested to give it that 1,100 year time frame. I wonder how they do that? :?



Stayed in Pahrumph, NV--the home of Front Sight Firearms Training Institute. It was a pretty good sized town. 1st thing in the AM I'll be hitting Death Valley NP, CA. I've been wanting to go there for years. Last year I would have on the bike, but it would have added 2-3 more days in the record heat. Not a problem this year.
 

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