Utah 2016

June 2-5, 2016 

On the trip this year were Skip Blecker, Dave Delie, Craig Littlefield, Dave Locey, Dave Mason, Susan O'Brien and Ron Shannon. Craig, Dave Mason and Dave Locey returned home on Sunday. Susan, Skip and Dave Delie two extra days for a ride through Colorado. Ron Shannon went to visit family in Albuquerque.

A story from Susan O'Brien


We met at Saddlebrook on Thursday morning and headed for our first gas stop in Globe. Our group of seven included three Daves, Craig, a Ron, a Skip and a Susan. Five various BMWs, a Triumph Tiger and my Honda. A very nice mix of people and bikes. We were all well aware that we were getting out of town at the right time knowing we would be climbing in.altitude.a d escaping the soaring weekend temperatures. Our route out of Globe took us down along Lake Roosevelt with temps in the low 90's but we climbed up to Payson and into the 80's in time for lunch at Craig's favorite gourmet restaurant--Dairy Queen. He had a banana split! We picked up 260 heading northwest below the Mogollon Rim and then down into the Verde Valley for our first taste of temps above 100. A quick on and off the freeway took us into Sedona and traffic on 89A through Oak Creek Canyon and into Flagstaff where our favorite fearless leader promptly got us lost and seperated. We all wound up at the right motel which has lost what little ambiance it had last year and we all agreed would be the last time we stay there.


We decided on an early start and to stop at Cameron Trading Post for breakfast. Leaving Flag on 89A, you immediately start climbing to over 7500 feet and the San Francisco peaks pop out with their snow covered heads. Then it's a drop down to the grasslands of the Navajo Nation. Cameron is about halfway between Flag & Page. You have to walk through the enormous gift shop of Native American souveniers to get to a gorgeous dining room overlooking the Little Colorado. We had a wonderful breakfast then off to the Vermillion Cliffs, the curves climbing to Jacob's Lake at the entrance to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, across the pine tree forrest of the Kaibob Plateau and the first view of The Grand Staircase as we wind down into Utah. A lunch stop in Kanab, then past Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and through numerous small towns to Utah 14 which heads west toward Cedar City. As we climb upward, the temps fall and patches of snow appear. We stopped at an overlook with a pastoral view of a.cold looking lake, tall pines and clear blue skies. Then back on the bikes to Cedar Breaks National Monument where a part time park ranger gave us a geology lesson on the iron rich layer that gives the soil its red color.

By the second day, we're starting.to.get comfortable with each other and our riding styles. The group is fun and tight and that makes riding together really fun. As we leave Cedar Breaks we climb to over 10000 ft. Then wind down through sweeping curves and Panguitch Lake to its namesake town. Our eigth rider Bill joins us on a.Suzuki. Now that we're getting comfortable with each other there's lots of trash talking about each other over 3.2 beers then off to bed for an early start.


Day 3 on this trip is the reason I go.  We got an early start because Craig wanted to take Utah 22 which would be a new road for us and since it was already going to be a long day, we all tried to talk him out of it over a great breakfast in Panguitch.  Luckily he agreed but said, no matter what, we were going to do the paved part of the Burr Trail--also a road we had not tried on motorcycles. So, okay...we take off and enjoy the rolling, curving start of UT 12 (also known as America's Highway for its breathtaking views) through Red Rock Canyon and it's two arches over the roadway, past the cut-off to Bryce Canyon and down into the booming town of Tropic.  You can see the lights of Tropic in the dark from the top of Bryce Canyon--but that's another story.

After Tropic, it's a series of tiny little wide spots in the road with one or two houses, a farm, some cows, horses, chickens and always a flower garden or two.  I always wonder who lives there and what do they do to make a living clear out in the middle of nowhere.  We make it to Escalante for gas and a quick change out of warmer gear and head out for a strip of road called the Hogsback but is often referred to as The Devil's Back Bone.  We pass the Escalante river, Calf Creek (which is the trailhead to a 40 foot waterfall and easy 3 mile hike from the parking lot if you're ever in need of a cool dip!) and start climbing to an overlook I thought we were stopping at.  Oops.  No one there so we start the ride down through a series of tight "S" curves carved into a huge slab of a pinkish stone that becomes very slippery when wet--it's what the locals refer to as "slick rock." Avoiding the motorhomes and lookie-loos, we make it through the curves to the top of the hogs back with sheer drop-offs on either side of the road and finally find Craig's Overlook.  Whew!  What a view!  360 degrees of forever and ever as far as the eye can see.  Back on the bikes and despite objections, Craig heads us down the Burr Trail. 

For the 12 years that Doug and I were exiled to Utah, there was always and still is much controversy over paving the Burr Trail.  For now the western end of it is paved for about 20 miles and winds through breathtaking red rock narrows negating the rather poor condition of the paving with its striking beauty.  We reach a parking area near the end of the pavement and turn around to go back and eat at the Burr Trail Grill where just about everyone opted for homemade pie for lunch.

The ride into Torrey was awesome.  Mile after mile of sweet curves through pine forest and aspen. The temps were 75ish and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. This is when you can open up the throttle and push the envelope screaming around curves marked 30 mph at speeds that would make your mother nervous.  We stopped at the bottom  for a quick gas-up then we entered Capitol Reef National Park and took the 10 mile ride into the scenic canyons.  Back on the main road it was really getting warm.  We sped along the Freemont River for awhile and stopped for gas and cold water in Hanksville.  The last part of the day took us on the east side of the mountains we had ridden in cool temps earlier that day and down to the cliffs overlooking Lake Powell and Hite Crossing.  The ride into Blanding was nice as it began to cool but the tar snakes were out making for a nervous ride in.

A nice lady picked Bill and I up when I asked for directions to the steak house Craig had said was in walking distance but turned out to be a fur piece further.  But we all enjoyed a nice last meal together as we would be taking off in the morning going in three different directions.


We took off in four directions, not three.  Ron needed to head out to Albuquerque to see his sister who is very ill.  Bill headed for Moab to do sales calls with two customers.  Craig took two of the three Daves and headed for Tucson, while Dave Delie, Skip and I headed for Colorado. Montecito, Cortez and a bunch more small towns too little to remember then toward Grand Junction zig-zagging through canyons carved by one river after another with names like San Miguel and Dolores, all eventually becoming the Colorado.  Occasionally we would rise above the canyons crossing valleys with names like Desolation and Disappointment.  I had to wonder how and who named them!  As we crossed the southwest corner of the state, from many different vantage points, I could see the white peaks in the distance creeping closer and closer as we rode further and further into Colorado, until finally they loomed before me and the only thing going through my mind was "Holy Sh*t!"  No matter how many times I've headed east up the western slope of Colorado, the mountains always impress.

We wound our way into Ouray about 3pm. Plenty of time to unload gear and hit the hot tub.  The hotel (nice job, Skip!) had three redwood tubs fed by a natural hot mineral spring.  There was no obvious Sulphur smell like some springs and the water was cooled to a nice 102 degrees.  Sitting in the tub, I could see the 100 foot waterfall on the mountain wall to the north and hear the rushing of the Ouray river running past the hotel.  The soak was followed by a quick shower and a short hike with the guys to the Ouray Brewing Company for a beer on the third floor deck showcasing main street on the south and the waterfall on the north.  Strong micro brew at 8000 feet after a soak in a hot tub is not an unfamiliar experience, but certainly had an effect!  We walked across the street to The Outlaw restaurant, in business since 1952, for a wonderful meal.  Best fresh trout I've had in ages!  Then we wandered past some of the local shops and headed back to the hotel where Skip took a turn in the hot tub.  An early night after a long day of curves and an early start scheduled for the morning.  I fell asleep to the sound of the rushing river and only had to get up twice to pee from the suggestive flow.


We pulled into Molas Pass around 8:30am. At 10,899 ft., it was cold. 34 degrees to be exact.  No heated gear, no warm gloves.  At least I had on long johns! Once my hands thawed, we took off for breakfast in Durango.  But alas, after more mountain roads and snowcapped peaks, as we rode through town, we could not find one place to stop to eat.  We pulled into a gas station to fill up the tanks and while the boys headed to the boys room, I talked with a couple of ragged looking guys in a Forestry Service pick-up and they recommended a bakery down the road about 20 miles in a town called Mancos.  What a find!  Skip finally fulfilled his cinnamon roll fantasy and we had a wonderful breakfast in this small town tribute to the '60's.  The slogan at the bakery was "Old hippies never die...they BAKE!"

As we left the restaurant I asked Dave, "I suppose it's all downhill from here?" and he of course replied "That's about the size of it."  417 miles of hot windy desert later, we rolled into Springerville about 4pm.  A quick dinner and stop at the Rexall Drug, I fell asleep some time between the 6:30pm national news and a re-run of Law and Order.  Which, of course, had me awake at 3:30am!  But, a pleasant ride home rolling in about 10am before it became unbearably hot.

Funny though, after 1900 or so miles, my butt was tired, my hands were sore and I could not wait to get home, yet the whole time on the road this morning, I was mentally planning the New Mexico ride in July.  See you there!    

Photos by Dave Locey, Craig Littlefield and Skip Blecker

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