Dec 2, 2012 - Friends, Motorcycle Trips    No Comments

Motorcycle Trips

Between February 22, 2012, when I took my motorcycle off its stand for the first time, and December 2, when it went back into its cocoon, I rode 7,167 miles, changed the oil twice and the tires once. All the trips were in Colorado and Utah, and all were made more enjoyable because of the company of  good friends.

During the year, I started to fill the stamps on my National Parks  passport. Many of the trips this year are in posts of their own (click on the category “Motorcycle Trips” on the sidebar if you’re interested in reading about them), but some of the day trips we took were worthy of a magazine article to read on a cold, snowy January day.

Here are a few pictures from some of them.

 

Oct 4, 2012 - Motorcycle Trips, Travel    1 Comment

Cortez


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My quest d’jour is the Iron Butt Association’s special ride for those who aren’t up to ride 1000 miles in a day: for those of us whose butts aren’t exactly iron clad, they offer  a National Parks Tour.  I rode with Don, W0DET, to Dove Creek, Colorado.  It was his first excursion on his new (to him) Honda Shadow 1100, and I think he had a great time.  The fall colors were at their prime:

Entrance to Mesa VerdeAnasazi Heritage CenterP9280018P9280020P9280021P9280023
P9280028P9280030P9280031P9280032P9280034Hovenweep National Monument
Remind you of Cars and Cars II?P9290041P9290042FriendsYou can get anything you want ...Welcome to Utah, again
Wilson Arch just south of Moab, UtahSome of the beautiful jewelry availabe from a Native American at the rest sop.Arches National Park

Cortez, a set on Flickr.

 

Note that in order to document your National Parks Tour, you need to take a picture of your motorcycle in front of the park or monument.  Otherwise, you might be accused of cheating and gathering validation stamps in your car!  That’s why you see several pictures of mine.  For those who are interested, there are (of course) websites for the National Park stamp collectors, and those of us who are collecting them by motorcycle.

We stayed at the home of Don’s friends Norm and Carla.  He has installed a ham radio shack there with a huge directional beam antenna.   It’s located on their dryland farm not far from Dove Creek which is wonderfully isolated and quite beautiful.  From the radio location, you can see a majestic panorama of mountains in Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.  And since the location is far from town, the stars and the full moon were  painfully bright, the coyotes’ cries piercing, mournful and a little scary, and the level of radio interference incredibly low.  Don set up his station for radio teletype, and his first contact was somebody in Croatia!  But the best part for me was spending time with the three friends.  They’ve known each other for years, and it took abut five minutes for me to feel at home.  Thanks for your wonderful food and warm hospitality!

On our trip back through Moab, we drove through Dove Creek, where the principal crop is dried pinto and Anasazi beans from the dryland farms.  We then pointed our handlebars west to to Utah, stopping  at Wilson Arch, where a Navajo girl sold me [spoiler alert] two lovely necklaces.

It was a wonderful trip, and I snagged six new stamps for my tour:  Anasazi Heritge Center, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Mesa Verde National Park, Hovenweep National Monument, Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park.  I now have ten of the 50 required parks, but only in two of the required 25 states.  Planning my next trip could be problematic, since there are very few  national parks and monuments in the midwest.

Sep 22, 2012 - Ham Radio    No Comments

Reviving Droid

One of my favorite hobbies is reviving old computers and electronic devices.  Most of them have been built to last a long time, but technology passes them by long before they wear out.  A good example is my old Motorola Droid, the original Android device.  Our Verizon contract ran out, and both of our Droids have been replaced by an HTC Incredible (Android) for me and an iPhone 4S (Georgia).  Faster, prettier, snazzier. Read more »

Sep 20, 2012 - Travel    2 Comments

Postcards from Yellowstone


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Park service gift stores no longer stock film and flashbulbs or prephotographed slides or View Master reels of  scenic wonders, and their postcard collection is hidden in a corner.  How long has it been since you have sent or received one? I think I still have a lot of 20 cent postcard stamps somewhere (it now costs 32 cents to mail one, which is just about what they cost to buy). So in lieu of postcards, here are some pictures we took a couple of days ago at Yellowstone National Park.  You have seen thousands of photos like these before, and so have we; we’ve even seen some of this in an Imax theater; but it doesn’t compare to the real thing.

 

The park suffered from a devastating fire in 1988 which burned a good portion of the pine trees.  In keeping with their spirit, the Park Service pretty much let it burn, and has taken no steps to alter the course of nature; and nature has responded with a good growth of new forest where the old trees were.  Sometimes the trees are the same species, sometimes they’re different.  Towering over the new forest are occasional reminders of what was there 24 years ago; in some cases, there are tiny spots of green growth high up an otherwise dead tree.  It’s weird.

The viewing gallery around the Old Faithful geyser can probably hold over a thousand ogling visitors; the next eruption was scheduled for 3:59 p.m. The crowd assembled, and when nothing had happened by 3:05, several people started grumbling and looking at their watches.  “Hey, you’re on vacation,” I wanted to say.  After a couple of false starts, the geyser geysed, but because of the wind blowing the water and steam away from us it wasn’t quite as awesome as some of the ViewMaster reels I remember.   We followed in the middle of  post-eruption bumper to bumper traffic all the way back to Jackson.

Sep 19, 2012 - Travel    No Comments

Tetons

A dangreous forest fire near Jackson has brought lots of firefighters to the area, and depending on the prevailing winds, your view of the Grand Tetons can be obscured by smoke.

We drove from our condo in Wilson (west of Jackson and on the way to the Jackson Hole ski area) on the back road to Jackson Lake Lodge.  Along the way, we were stopped: gridlock on the dirt road.  It seems that several people were ignoring the copious Park Service warnings about wild animals, and  were chasing a good sized bear with their digital cameras and zoom lenses ready.  I wouldn’t have blamed the bear if he’d turned around and attacked them!

Jenny Lake is spectacular and the aspen trees are at the height of their color.  It’s been as dry here as in Colorado.

Halfway up the narrow road to Signal Mountain, we were stopped by a young bird – it looked like a falcon – in the middle of the road.  I stopped.  He didn’t go away; instead, he jumped on the car and glared at us.  When I started to drive, the bird hung on and rode with us around a hairpin turn to a scenic turnout where several other tourists saw our stowaway and started snapping pictures.  Perhaps they found the falcon perched on a green Honda CRV with LT WORF license plates a little unusual.  I cracked the window a bit and handed my camera to one of the bemused tourists (afraid that if I opened it any more the damned bird would jump inside) who took our picture.

The falcon then glared at Georgia, pooped on the hood, and jumped off, to the amusement of everyone.

Ken Burns was right.  The national parks are one of America’s best ideas.  And their $10 lifetime senior pass is the deal of the century.

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