I ain't no young chicken, having turned 69 years of wrinkled geezerdom in July 2009. A few aches and pains notwithstanding, I decided to hop on Red Leader and take myself a little bike trip while the wife was away. Unlike most of my previous motorcycle tours, this time I decided to ride strictly solo. Having but one camera (mine) made it hard to have much in the way of action and "people" shots that the girls prefer. No matter - my goal was the journey (see route at left) - not any particular destination. A sub-goal was to advance my already respectable mileage position among the Colorado group of riders of Honda ST motorcycles. As you can see at right, I was in 7th place in the state of Colorado after my return. 7,500+ total miles by end of June in 2009 is not too bad for anyone - especially geezers.
My previous bike trip to Yellowstone was in 1980 and I was eager to see that wondrous place again.
Various Panoramic Views from the tour:
|DESCRIPTION||CLICK PHOTOS FOR MEDIUM RESOLUTION||HI-RES|
|Looking out from the porch of the historical Old Faithful Inn. The famous geyser is behind the camera about 1,000 feet. Watch the Old Faithful video (at right) and you will get a good sense of how the Inn and geyser area is laid out. I have named my motorcycle (2005 Honda ST1300) Red Leader - can you find it in the photo?||
Old Faithful video
|The beautiful Grand Teton Mountains about 50 miles north of Jackson Hole, Wyoming (point #8 on the route map further above, left).||hi-res|
|My long-legged Red Leader crouches, engine softly purring. She is eager to be on the road again. None of the other bikes I've ever owned could so effortlessly throw as many miles behind its tail lights in a single day - and none as likely to earn a Performance Evaluation.||hi-res|
|A long shot of the high plains, and in the distance a huge lake behind the Flaming Gorge Dam in southwest Wyoming (point #10). If you ever go there, be sure to take highway 191 along the eastern rim and avoid highway 530 on the west rim. The road signs in Vernal, UT are really messed up so be careful if you're coming from the south.||hi-res|
|Red Leader seems to be uninterested in the beauty of the Flaming Gorge. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of riding this magnificent steed is when I actually have to rein her in for a stop to take pictures.||hi-res|
|Looking down over the water impounded by the Flaming Gorge Dam in southwest Wyoming. On the far shore, look for the arched bridge spanning a finger of the lake.||hi-res|
|hi-res - one of the first glimpses of Devil's Tower, WY||hi-res||hi-res - almost there...||hi-res - Standing in the shadows of greatness.|
|hi-res - Day Two: Going to Yellowstone National Park in WY||hi-res||hi-res||hi-res|
|hi-res - This is going to be a tight fit||hi-res - Many red cones in Yellowstone this summer.||hi-res||hi-res|
|hi-res||hi-res - Paint Pots in 2009 and when I saw them first in 1980||hi-res||hi-res|
|hi-res||hi-res - Wheeling into the historical Old Faithful Inn||hi-res - She looks a little hippy but it's just the wide angle lens||hi-res|
|hi-res Wayback: Two photos of Old Faithful we took back in 1980: here and here.||hi-res||hi-res||hi_res - In 2009 - Here is the same Lodge as it was back in 1980 with Scott, Brian, and me. Fireplace 1980|
|hi-res||hi-res -This place is huge inside!||hi-res - Lots of 1990s fire damage but mostly OK now||hi-res - We look ahead as Yellowstone rushes away behind us.|
|hi-res - Cone Zone: Still more construction||hi-res - Ruts and loose gravel for 15 miles. Very bad for bikes.||hi-res||hi-res|
|hi-res||hi-res||And so we leave the the mighty Grand Teton range heading south towards Jackson Hole, WY. It is late in the afternoon and there are many miles to crush beneath our wheels before we sleep tonight.||Tomorrow we will continue south west into Rock Springs WY and thence due south through Flaming Gorge along its eastern rim.|
|hi-res - Day Three begins with a really friendly Bambi.||hi-res||hi-res||hi-res|
Red Leader and I continued onwards for the rest of the day. It was a long way home. Near Glenwood Springs, eastbound on I-70, we encountered a heavy, cold downpour. That lasted - without remission - until Idaho Springs. Finally made it home to Longmont about 8:30 PM that night. Other than the rain, there were no problems during the entire tour. Well done, faithful steed.In 2012 I found a lady singer on YouTube that had made a stunning video. It is beautiful and inspiring in both the audio and video dimensions. Here is Eliza Gilkyson's Beautiful World. She sings its haunting melody over a Yellowstone slideshow. I have put the words and chords to Beautiful World into a text file, at this link.
For the first leg of the trip, I decided to go west for along I-70 and then north to Vernal, UT. This would put me into a "clockwise" pattern of travel which would, 7 days later, return me to Longmont, CO. Out of Vernal I would head north through the Flaming Gorge and back into Yellowstone. Unfortunately, I was relying on my GPS and it decided to put me on Highway 530 out of Vernal, which runs along the west rim of the Flaming Gorge. No real problem with this, except that Highway 191 along the eastern rim (which I had ridden in June 2009) is much more scenic.
At any rate, Highway 530 took me to Green River, WY, which is about 15 miles or so west of Rock Springs. To make a long (and painful) story short, during a slow (under 10mph) left turn at an intersection in Green River my bike passed over a small slick patch of something (oil, antifreeze, whatever) and the front wheel washed out. The bike and I went down and in the process my left leg was broken in three places. And this was only on Day One!!
At the time of the accident my wife was visiting friends in eastern Wisconsin and it took her 4 days to pick me up at the hospital in Rock Springs, Wyoming. The "tip-over" wings on the bike worked perfectly and not even a scratch was to be seen on Red Leader. We left her in a storage bin for two weeks until one of my sons could drive up to Wyoming and haul her back home to my garage. No scratches on me, but I now had a bionic leg held together by a titanium plate and 10 screws. I could never pass through airport security again without challenge.
Update: 20 weeks after the accident my leg bone is still not healed but at least I can hobble about without crutches. My gait now has a definite Walter Brennan-like lurch (and probably always will), quite appropriate to my ever more geezerlike features. Maybe even worse, I have unavoidably missed many months of good riding time. Still not sure when I will be able to ride again, but it will certainly not be anytime in 2009.
Final Update: In March 2010 I was finally healed enough to take the bike on a few brief rides. During the eight months of convalescence since the accident my body clearly had aged (my 70th birthday is July 2010) past the point that riding even the best of the best of bikes was going to be too difficult. Knees and back were weak and painful. Then in April 2010 I made a life-changing decision: I began a campaign for public office. Win or lose there was going to be neither time or stamina to roll America's highways any longer. So in April 2010 I took some photos and placed an ad on Craig's List. Within days Red Leader was sold to a Highway Patrol cop who lives - huge irony - in Rock Springs, Wyoming.
The month before (March 2010) we had foolishly sold my wife's sweet 'Stormy'. She seldom rode it and at the time my devious plan was to keep Red Leader. Along the way, I had put almost 5,000 miles on this cheerful red 250cc scooter. How was I to know then how deeply it had worked its way into my cold, black heart? As I write this final note in July 2010, after 57 years in the saddle, my deepest regret is that happy little Stormy is no longer in my garage.
Over 'n Out.
But Wait! There's More:
I guess lack of two wheels was making me mean, so my sweet wife suggested that another, much smaller, bike might soothe my troubled soul. This is all the encouragement I needed so in late fall of 2010 I got a used 2007 Yamaha Majesty scooter. Yes, she's only a 400cc "scooter" but her eager heart always pleases me.
In May 2011 I did a "test tour" to the Grand Canyon (see below). That went so well that In July 2011 I completed the Going To The Sun tour (see below) that I started in July 2009. I've ridden this sweet little thang From only 2,700 miles in November 2010 to almost 17,000 miles in August 2011. Not bad for an old geezer.
Monument Valley 2003
Highway 101, CA, 2004
Gateway, CO, 2008
Monument Valley, 2011.
Glacier National Park,
Going To The Sun Road, 2011
Motorcycle quotes and wisdom.
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