The original plan for this trip was for Sandy (my wife), my brother Pete, and I to take 8-9 days to go to the STN national meet in Custer. However, Sandy and I were inattentive, and she took her vacation from work with the assumption that the national would be during the 3rd vs. the 2nd week of June. When we realized our mistake, and that Sandy could not make it to the national, Pete and I decided to skip the national, and head out west with no particular plan in mind. Sandy would then fly to Albuquerque when her vacation started, we would pick her up at the airport, and then the three of us would ride for another 8-9 days.
We only had two specific goals: 1. Pete had never seen the Grand Canyon, so we decided a side-trip to the north rim of the park must be included. 2. My eldest daughter lives in Albuquerque; we would spend a day or two with her and would pick Sandy up at the Albuquerque airport on the 8th day of the trip. Otherwise, we would just keep an eye on the weather and follow our impulses; we generally selected our destinations on a day-to-day basis.
The bikes: Pete has an '09 C14 that he bought used last summer. Since then he has put about 15,000 miles on the bike. I rode "The Fridge", my '09 MG Norge purchased 9 months ago new (It now has about 18,000 miles on the ODO). I must admit, I had a few reservations about taking an MG on such a long trip--you know, concerns about availability of parts, scarcity of dealerships, etc.
Leg one: Northern KY to Rocky Mountain NP.
Pete rode from northern Ohio to my house in KY on the morning of the first day, and then we headed west in the afternoon. We spent the first day making time on I-64 and I-70, and got to Kansas city. The slab was terribly boring, but fast. Next day we moved northward and completed the ride to northern CO on US route 36. I highly recommend this road to anyone wanting to make good time across the Great Plains, but who likes to avoid the interstates. The mountains in the Park still had a heavy snowpack on top, It was cool riding right next to 20 foot tall walls of snow. At the main entrance we learned that we could purchase golden-age pass-cards that would give us free admission to all federal parks/monuments (Pete is 67; I'm 62).
Leg two: RMNP to Lake City, CO. We rode through Vail, Leadville, and Buena Vista; spent the night in Salida: great place. In Salida we had some good pizza and microbrew at a place called Amica's. En route to Salida we stopped at a pub in Minturn; pic below:
From Salida we rode through Gunnision and picked up route 149 through Lake City. Below are a few pics taken along that road.
We ended up spending the night in Cortez, CO. Below is a pic taken in a biker bar we found near there.
Leg three: Cortez, CO to North Rim of Grand Canyon. We rode to Kanab, Utah; used it as a home base for a few days. The ride to the north rim from Kanab, is pleasant, but not spectacular. I much prefer the higher elevation and smaller crowds of the north rim over the south rim. At the entrance to the Grand Canyon, the ranger would not believe that we were golden-agers. We actually had to dismount, show picture ID, take off our helmets, and answer questions about specific information listed on our ID's. I guess we should have been flattered, but it really was a lengthy pain-in-the-ass.
From Kanab we also went to Zion and then onto Bryce (my favorite NP). We took great hikes in both parks.
Leg four: Kanab, UT to Albuquerque: nothing special to report along the way. My daughter, Carolyn, and her boyfriend had just bought a house in NW Albuquerque; they were anxious to show it off to us and to have some house guests. It was nice to see that she is thriving and is quite happy. It was also good to get some time with her dog; we miss ours, and puppy time on the road can be uplifting. We picked Sandy up at the airport.
Leg five: Albuquerque to Montrose, CO
The ride was great, especially the section between Saguache, CO , and Gunnison on route 114. Montrose is a good homebase; lots of restaurants & bars, and close to some wonderful places. We stayed there 3 nights at a motel called the Black Canyon Inn--the best motel deal of our trip. One day we rode to Ouray--had some excellent beer at a microbrewery/pub (Ouray Brewery). The next day we attempted to ride to Telluride, but got turned back by some very cold, slushy rain; I was concerned that it would change into snow at a higher elevation.
Leg six: Montrose to Moab, Utah. My favorite side-trip. We went to Arches NP and Dead Horse Point. In Arches, we all took the hike up to delicate arch; lots of European and Asian tourists were on the trail (they generally seemed to be in better shape than their heavier American counterparts). On the return ride to Montrose, we took Utah route 128 along the Colorado River--an absolutely wonderful road! If you ever get to Moab, this ride is a must! Below are pics of delicate arch, dead horse point, and a scene along highway 128.
Leg seven: Montrose to home: we took our time--four days. Went through Salida again, Pueblo (no fun, avoid it at all costs!), and then took back roads to Burlington, CO. From there we picked up US route 36 again--followed it all the way back to Indianapolis. Great way to get back home. Overall, we covered 6,000 miles. The bikes were both great; no issue with either one. The Norge averaged about 47 mpg (got about 55 mpg in central Colorado). Sandy and I were comfortable 2-up on the Norge, even on 500 miles days. I would take this bike on a long trip again without hesitation.
I love these kinds of trips, with few specific destinations in mind. Pete and I are currently discussing our plans to ride to Alaska next summer,