2017 Journey – A Wrap!


Day Ten – Desert Deja Vu

Anxious to get home, we skipped the free breakfast at the motel, had a Spark and a protein bar and hit the road.  We said goodbye to beautiful downtown Ely.

We began the long, lonely journey into the desert.  Highway 50 is known as the loneliest highway in the US.  It’s true.  We drove miles and miles without seeing another car.  

The scenery rarely changed for over 200 miles but every now and then, something interesting would come into view like these wild horses.

We stopped in Austin for a light breakfast and an espresso.  Feeling recharged, we set out to more of the same.

The air was filled with smoke due to the California wildfires.

The temperature was beginning to reach the low 90s so we stopped in Fallon to wet our cooling vests.  After about another 50 more miles of desert, we finally began to enter our familiar Sierra Nevada mountains.

Although there was a lot of traffic, we enjoyed some cooler temperatures (80s) and beautiful views.  Eventually we started to make our way down to the hot Sacramento valley, but we were close to home.  As we turned onto our street, the temperature was 102.  Thank goodness we have the cooling vests.  They make a big difference in our comfort.  

We unloaded the bike and took this picture of our trip odometer.

So, 3,404 miles and nine states in ten days.  We saw some beautiful sights and met some interesting folks along the way.  We’ve already started to explore where we will go next year but for now, we’re happy to be home and snuggling with our puppy!  And, Cathy is grateful to have something besides this to look at:

Cathy’s “Barn of the Day” pic:

Day Nine – Birthday in the Great Basin

It’s Tom’s birthday!  We got up early and hit the road by 8am in order to beat the incoming storms.  It was a good thing we did because Price received two inches of rain in 90 minutes today.  

We didn’t have high hopes for an interesting ride but we were wrong!  Just outside of Price, we began to climb into the surrounding mountains.

We then turned south at Mt. Pleasant toward Fairview and enjoyed some of the most beautiful scenery we have seen on this trip.

The birthday boy taking a stretch break.

Soon this beautiful ride was over and we descended into the Great Basin which is surrounded by high desert mountains and laced with salt flats. And it’s windy.

We entered Nevada and arrived in Ely around 2pm.  The birthday boy was tired so we took a nap.  After a good rest and a shower, we walked into Ely.  Not much here.  We decided to be very bad and have an ice cream cone before dinner.  We then found the one restaurant that wasn’t in a casino and therefore not full of smoke.  Not exactly the Ritz but it was an adequate birthday dinner.

Tomorrow we head home.  It will be a long day – about 430 miles and it is supposed to be very hot.  Our cooling vests are a lifesaver.  We are ready to be home and off the bike for a while.  

Cathy’s “Barn of the Day” pic:

Day Eight – Desert to Deluge

The Nordic Inn was great.  Clean, comfortable and offered the best cup of coffee and breakfast we have had thus far.  We took off around 9am.  We passed some beautiful ranches along the outskirts of Steamboat.We hadn’t realized that Steamboat Springs is on the edge of the Rocky’s forested area. Within minutes of leaving Steamboat we were back in high desert.

The sky was beautiful and the temperature was a perfect 76 degrees.  As we rode along the sagebrush lined road, we noticed the thunderheads forming in the distance all around us.  

The surrounding mountains were so interesting with their colors and different rocks formations.  Dinosaur fossils have been found in this area so in addition to the Dinosour National Monument, the locals have embraced that theme as well.

Soon we entered Utah and the mountains were even more beautiful… and the clouds were becoming more ominous.

We stopped in Vernal for lunch and overheard some locals talking about flash floods the day before.  We saw flash flood warnings on the weather report due to monsoonal storms.  We weren’t sure of the area they were talking about.  It was here.  We decided to get back on the road and try to beat the incoming storm.

As we began to climb in elevation, the storm was getting closer.  Also our Zumo (navigation device) froze up.  Luckily, we knew where we were at this point.

We were seeing lightning ahead of us but soon we were in it – the hardest rain we’ve ever experienced while riding.  So strong that it hurt when it hit us.  And it was difficult to see.

Luckily it was only a few more miles to Price, Utah.  And, of course once we arrived, the rain stopped.  

Tomorrow we hope to beat the afternoon showers and get to Nevada’s dry, hot desert without arriving soggy.  

Cathy’s “Barn of the Day” pic:

Day Seven – High, Low, High

We headed south out of Custer early this morning.  We had a long day ahead of us.  The sky was beautiful as we traveled through the last of the Black Hills on this trip.

We understood why they were called the Black Hills when we looked back at them as we descended back into high desert.

The landscape soon changed into meadow and then high desert.  Cathy hit the wall today and was struggling to stay awake. Falling asleep would not end well so despite the boring landscape, she tried to take some interesting photos.As we re-entered Wyoming, the high desert went on and on and was a bit tedious, but the pastel pinks and greens are really beautiful.  In some places, even the road is pink.  Great place to film a western.

The wind tired us both and we stopped often.  It was 97 degrees in Laramie so we stopped to rehydrate and wet our cooling vests.  The bike is a mess.

After Laramie we headed for Colorado.  We began climbing in elevation and the scenery became more interesting.

We stopped in Walden for a light lunch.

The sky began to fill with clouds so we hit the road again, trying to beat the rain before we got to Steamboat Springs.

Thankfully we turned before heading into the heavy rain. We got a few sprinkles as we pulled into Steamboat Springs.  Our motel is very nice and the innkeepers were helpful in choosing a great dinner spot.  We ate at a restaurant right on the Yampa River.  The food was delicious and the view spectacular.

As we walked back to the Nordic Lodge, it began to sprinkle again.  The town looks so pretty at night.

Tomorrow we head to Utah and the weather there now is stormy.  Fingers crossed…  

Cathy’s “Barn of the Day” pic:

And a bonus (not really a barn but a very cool building):

Day Four – Buffalo Breath

We  awoke early in anticipation of Yellowstone.  We were out of the hotel and on the road by 8:30.  Once inside the park we were immediately greeted with beauty.We passed by some fumaroles soon after we entered the park. The first wildlife we encountered were elk.We stoppped at Gibbon Falls.And then had to let this little friend cross the road.Yellowstone is fascinating with its geological formations.And the wildflowers were in full bloom.Then, we hit a Yellowstone traffic jam.  This was sketchy because they were in front of us, next to us and behind us.  We had no metal between us and them.  And they are huge.  At one point they were only a few feet away from us.We soon exited the park and jumped on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway with more fantastic scenery and great roads.  We even encountered a little rain.

 We rolled into Cody around 2pm and stopped for a quick lunch, which turned into an interesting event.  We met Skye, a Vietnam vet from Ontario, Canada, widower, and general BSer.  He invited himself to join us and carried on all sides of the conversation.  Nice enough man but we were ready to get to that museum.  We rode a few blocks down and entered one of the best museums around.

It is a must-see!  We only had a few hours there but took in so much.  We checked in to our B&B.  The Roaming Cowboy.  This is what happens when a hoarder becomes an innkeeper.

The innkeeper gave us a great recommendation for dinner at an Italian restaurant.  While we waited for our 7:30 reservation, we went to the Silver Dollar Bar.  Tom was happy.Tomorrow we go to Little Bighorn and will wind up in Gillette, WY.  

Didn’t see a barn today so this will have to do as the “Barn of the Day” pic:

Day Two – Rivers and Canyons

We left Burns around 7:30 this morning.  It was a comfortable 72 degrees as we headed toward Ontario, OR.  

We passed through tranquil farmland with crops of alfalfa, corn, onions and oregano that smelled so good, it made us hungry.

We soon met the Malheur River on Hwy 20 and followed that for a bit.

​​​We entered Idaho and continued east on Hwy 52 where we met the Payette river.  It was starting to warm up to the low 90s and it was cloudy which made the air muggy.  

The Payette is fast moving with many forks. We followed the river for miles and miles through beautiful canyons and saw a bald eagle and several ospreys. 

At Horseshoe Bend we turned north on Hwy 55 for a short while that followed one of the forks of the Payette and saw several kayaks navigating the rapids.  This road was called the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway and was very twisty.  Hundreds of curves later, we reached the Sawtooth Mountains which are spectacular.  We could smell rain and see it in the distance.  We encountered some damp roads but nary a drop on us!

Sawtooth selfie with helmet hair (not Tom).

At Stanley,  we continued east on Hwy 75 and met the Salmon River.  Finally it turned north and brought us to Challis, Idaho.  

We met several other bikers along the way.  Tonight at dinner we met two guys who are on a six to eight week ride and have no formal plan.  They were from North Carolina and both retired – one an engineer and the other a psychologist.  They just decide where they want to go each day.  We were envious of their freedom.  Earlier we met two gentlemen from Atlanta and Tom met a Frenchman from Banff.

Tomorrow we head to Montana; one of our favorite states.  We have about 300 miles tomorrow and will end up in West Yellowstone.  We are hoping to see some wildlife.  Today we only saw raptors and a bunch of “Game Crossing” signs.  Fingers crossed.

And… Cathy’s “Barn of the Day” pic:

This Year’s Route

We’ve decided to stay closer to home this year.  Cathy has a new job and can’t take as much time off as she could in the past so we’ve decided to go to several of our favorite spots this year. 

We’ll start from Cathy’s parents house in Grass Valley; they’ll be dog sitting the Duds.  We’ll make our way up to Ashland via Mt. Lassen National Park.  In Ashland we plan on seeing two shows at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival – Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Taming of the Shrew.  We’ll take a day to go see Crater Lake and we’ll head to the coast for one night in Bandon, Or.  On the way home, we’ll stay one night in Weaverville.

The entire trip will be seven days and not nearly as far as we’ve gone in the past.  We’re looking forward to more sightseeing than time in the saddle this year.  We’ll post pictures daily and Cathy promises to keep the barn pics to a minimum.  2013 Route