Archive | October, 2015

NOAA weather

28 Oct

I’ve a free NOAA weather android app on my phone that works where ever I can get WiFi and has been invaluable on this trip. When riding in the mountains the elevation is critical and this app has that information clearly shown without having to search for it. The radar map is easy to pan and zoom and runs quickly. Todays weather is wet, windy and cold. That sucks on a bike at highway speeds. We expected it and we can’t blame NOAA. We made a decision to stay over at our friends home for a day even though we are just an easy day ride home to Kingston. Look at these two pictures and our options. Cozy and warm inside

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or wet, cold and windy outside
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Sammy has about 7000 kilometers on her butt since I picked her up in Las Vegas and I’ve about 17,000km since I left home in September. We’re not wussy riders but riding home in this wet weather to complete such a grand adventure just isn’t an option.

We have the use of Carol’s car for the day and will pick up a few ingredients at the grocery store in Naples; it’s our turn to make dinner. We arrived early and parked here
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to pick up Carol from her office.
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She works in a family owned and operated winery. Some of the building complex is historic dating back to 1852.
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On a few occasions I’ve enjoyed a glass or two of Schooner Red; one of my favourite voluptuous tasting wines image

We slept in until about 8:00 and saw some blue sky. Maybe 30% blue and the rest clouds, so it should be decent for our last day’s ride. It’s 12℃ and will be dropping during the day. If we don’t get wet we can be comfortable in 10℃ to ride all day.
Just after a rain shower we packed up and were on the road at 10:00 The sky was clearing and within about 30 minutes we had sun and blue sky above us. Of course at the back of the weather front, as it cleared it got colder and windier. We had lunch in Watertown and were excited to cross into Canada shortly. But alas the Thousand Islands Bridge was closed, for safety reasons, to us and some high light trucks and RVs because of winds gusting to 75mph. The bridge is high and straight and has solid decking; I’ve been over it many times.
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So we had to go out of our way about 50 miles east to the bridge near Ogdensburg. It’s also plenty high, but is curved and has an open deck that gave me the willies the first time I crossed. I felt like I was riding over a giant cheese grater and if I fell and went for a slide I would end up dripping through down into the river.
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The steel grated bridge over the St Lawrence River is long, high and curved. Today it was extremely windy and combined with a small amount of drizzle the open grated deck was slick. I would describe the entire crossing today as insanely treacherous. Then of course having to backtrack the same 50 miles west, so adding two hours to our ride home.

Sammy has been baffled in the past few days why there is such a discrepancy between the GPS calculted Estimated Time of Arrival and when we actually arrive at our destination. We’ve been really late some days and ridden in the dark much to her dislike. Today I realized the the difference between the GPS ETA and Actual Arrival is simply the Adventure. Mathmatically speaking:
AA = GPSETA + A

Anyway we finally got safely to Kingston at 6:30pm. Having ridden 500km today we are tired and hungry and very happy to be home.
I left home 49 days ago; about 17,000 kilometers and 5300 pictures.
What a Ride! What and adventure!

Bilbo Baggins replies to Gandalf, who is looking for someone to share in an adventure. “We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!”  The Hobit, JRR Tolkien

My count now is 45 states and 10 provinces visited. It’s been to 220 ft below sea level and over 12,000 ft elevation. The Vstrom odometer reads 176,809 kilometres (or 109,864 miles) and the bike is reliable and still running well. I’m very impressed with Suzuki Motor Corporation.
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On the road again

24 Oct

We woke early ( post written October 24 but somehow magically went weird and dissapeared temporarily but the help techies at WordPress were readily available and helped me fix the issue. Those people rock! ), well rested, and looked outside only to be slightly disappointed because it is dark and still raining. The radar shows that by the time we have breakfast and pack up and ride a short distance northerly towards Lexington it should be clear. We have good warm waterproof gear so some rain is ok but the visibility and scenery sucks. We just don’t want to ride long distaces all day on wet roads because of our safety.
During breakfast it stopped raining, and we left on wet roads but didn’t have any rain all day.
Although we were in the “horse capital of the world” we didn’t see many. Today will be remembered for a ride in coloured leaves! I think that we are here at the peak of the colours. Wow, even the major highway I-64 from Lexington was a pleasure to ride. I think it was my first enjoyable and scenic ride on a interstate highway.
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We stopped briefly in Kentucky at the historic Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill. The dry stone walling competition was on at the Dry Stone Conservancy.
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Even the leaves on the road, although slippery to ride on, were colourful.
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Crossing over the Kentucky River and the deep canyon was a photographic experience and very twisty and scenic.
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We criss-crossed the Ohio River a few times this afternoon so Sammy can now add Ohio to the states she has ridden in.
We are in the RedRoof Motel in Parkersburg WV for the night.

Today, Monday, we left about 8:30 dressed up for cold weather. The thermometer showed 5°C on the way to Marietta OH for breakfast.image

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Sammy created this reflective picture of the Vstrom while we sat in Tonya’s eating our good food. We recommend this place for many reasons.
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We stopped to photograph some of Harley Warricks work; probably one of his best preserved barn paintings.
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The historic Biehl General Store along highway SR 26 closed about 1990. We stopped, Sam walked over to be in my picture
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and we took lots of photographs but only waved at Dick and Martha Biehl in their window; Sam could hear their music but respectfully didn’t want to disturb them. They waved at us as we left and I figured if they had wanted conversion with strangers they have would come outside. Dick, now in his 80’s, has seen a lifetime of people come and go from his family store since he was a young boy.
For more details of the history of the general store built in 1860 see an article in the local Marietta Times newspaper. Just touch the old doorhandle to open
Biehl's Store, Door Handles of closed General Store,  Ohio SR  26, Moss Run Ohio, 10-2015

We’ve just checked into the Quality Inn at Clarion PA. We’re both a bit chilled and tired. We have gone over many huge bridges today, back and forth from state to state. It’s been another great day of coloured leaves, twisties and meeting some memorable wonderful people. We hope to hear from the couple that we met at the covered bridge who have been married for 72 years. I wish them more years of holding hands together. Their daughter had taken them out for a drive because is was a beautiful sunny fall day.
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It’s the Rinard Covered Bridge over the Little Muskingum Rivet. Built in 1876 but destroyed by a flash flood in 2004 and rebuilt in 2006; along the scenic byway hwy #26 north of Marietta Ohio; for pedestrians and not open to vehicles.
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Sammy doesn’t really like to ride in the dark. She says “that she has a hysterical aversion to crashing into a deer.” She has been counting dead deer carcases along the roadside and her count is12 in the last 2 days.
Ah, Tuesday morning, we are both up early and well rested. I love the pillows, the bed and sheets were great. I went outside at 7:00 and to my surprise there is no frost on the bike but the temperature was only 5℃, cold indeed with a crazy windchill effect at 50mph. Today we rode along mostly minor state highways and backroads to the Finger Lakes in NY. As is often the case I start and end my trips visiting our friends Rich and Carol in their home in the country near Prattsburg. Most likely we will stay over two nights because the weather forecast is for heavy rain and thunderstorms and strong gust winds for Wednesday.
Alas, our trip is coming to an end. I had some cold freezing nights with frost on my ride westbound but always warm daytime temperatures and never any rain. I did see snow some mornings along the roadside and plenty in the distance on the mountain tops. We have been very lucky with the dry warm weather for most of the trip together and we managed to get to the North Rim of the Grand which is often closed by mid October.
We stopped this morning to get some last pictures of coloured leaves, the fall season is very quickly changing to winter as we travel northerly.
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I managed to get a few pics of this forest and some last remaining beautiful leaves
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and just a few miles later ….”Huston, we have a problem” I said to Sam. Lucky for us, Joe Avenali is a capable mechanic and we were so very fortunate to end up at his shop this morning.
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We stopped in Kane PA for fuel and the bike wouldn’t start. I’ve stopped in so many remote places in the past month or so where I could have been stranded and today was just incredibly lucky to be in Kane.
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Only a half a block from Joe’s shop, so we just pushed the bike and pleaded our case, hoping for some compassionate help. It didn’t tale long to diagnose that our problem was probably just a dead battery and that the stator, which charges it, was working properly. In less than 10 minutes the correct size battery was delivered from Napa. Wow, I am a lucky traveler! Joe is an auto mechanic but also an avid rider. I think he was very happy to have a bike in his shop. I would recommend him to anyone needing motorcycle repairs or service. We could have talked and swapped strories for hours but he did have other customers and we neeeded to make up some lost time. After we left Kane we rode non-stop for about an hour and a half to be sure to allow the new battery time to get properly charged. The new battery is great and I now understand that the all the odd problems we’ve been having are all because the battey was weak and the low voltage confused the electronic brains inside the beast. It’s been strange for weeks and I can’t believe that I didn’t come to the conclusion to get a new battery sooner. In Joe’s words, “these simple problems just creep up on you, slowly and imperceptably.” I could easily have had a new battery installed in Stillwater a week ago. Now I know, that a few strange Vstrom behaviors might just be caused by low voltage.
We stopped on the main street in Bolivar NY because I needed a short rest and a fruit snack. This shop was fortunately closed and a decent place to flop down and relax. I wonder if it had been open if the staff, according to the sign could have modified my old body into an improved condition. image

I have to say once again that this bike is amazing; even with an abused and dying battery it kept on running. I can’t say enough about how I am thrilled to own and ride such a durable and dependable Suzuki motorcycle.
We finally did get to our friends house in daylight in plenty of time for dinner. Sammy’s dead deer count along the roadside today was six.

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Homebound

22 Oct

We’re in Arkansas now and generally homebound, still enjoying backroads when possible. I’ve not yet resorted to having to ride interstates to make time, but that could happen when we head north. Sammy is taking lots of pictutes on the go with a handy sized Nikon Coolpix attached to a long lanyard. Without a computer and SD card reader we can’t share them until we get home. I’m not stopping as often to take as many as when I ride solo so we do make good mileage. Not stopping and parking along the roadside so often is a pleasant relief for me; although I didn’t accidentally tip the bike over this trip which was a daily concern.
We are going to ride from Fayetteville through much of the Ozark National Forest this morning and we will have an early start before 8:00am. We might even get to Tennessee by the end of today.
Unfortunately our SPOT locating device isn’t working properly so our blog map may not get updated. Similarly I’m concerned that it won’t work in an emergency.
This morning we rode hwy 16 to Clinton. It was spectacular! About 270km of never ending corners, grade changes, gear changes and a few hairpin turns, even a few deer crossing right in front of us. And beautiful fall coloured hardwood, mostly oak.
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Nice to have fresh clean oil in the engine and gearbox for this kind of riding. I think that this mornings ride is likely the best Sam has ever had.
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Right after lunch In Clinton we got back on hwy #16 east for more sweeping corners to Mountain View and then #14 still enjoyable for a way. Sam missed getting a picture of the sign for the little town of Weiner, “Home of the Arkansas Rice Festival”. We stopped at a park in Oil Trough for a break and some fruit, lots of fast current in Black River.
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All in all about 350 of nearly continuous corners! Finally got to the FairBridge Inn in Jonesboro AR for the night. Cheap through HotWire booking, not the best place, but certainly ok for $60 and it did have a choice of foods for breakfast; and walking distance to Cracker Barrel for dinner.
Whatever issues and problem we had with SPOT seem to have magically disappeared. I’ve no explanation. I’ve been using the same device for 5 years all over the country and it has always worked well. Like Russell I’m an experienced GPS adventure traveler.
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Sammy says that Fayettevile AR must just be a dead zone for satellite coverage, ha ha.
NOTE: now days later at home in Kingston I’ve spoken with the SPOT customer service and a new replacement is being shipped to me for the $30 replacement fee; my unit has been in use for four years.

Often during the last few days we’ve visited historic locations that are a reminder of the atrocities inflicted on Native people.
Follow this link for more information
http://www.ushistory.org/us/24f.asp
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It’s been a long haul for Sammy, Arkansas, Missouri and Kentucky ending with night riding which is not her favourite activity! She is a good sport so still speaking to me. Stopping three times in the darkness to fumble finding the right tools and adjusting the horizontal alignment of the lights tested her patience. My fault; after installing the new springs in the front end of the bike, which now sits much higher, I didn’t remember to adjust the lights before I left home. We don’t normally ride far at night because we both think that critters are lurking in the shadows just waiting to jump out into our path. We don’t know for certain if that’s true or not.
We did make 670 km today from Jonesboro AR to Lebanon KY, including a stopover at the visitors center at Golden Pond along The Trace in The Land Between The Lakes.
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I think that’s a very impressive distance for one day for any passenger! So far on this trip she has ridden close to sea level and well over 10,000ft. Her list of Canadian provinces and American states that she has touched while riding with me on the Vstrom in the last few years continues to grow. Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Alberta, New York, Vermont, Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware.

This was just one day, her longest to date.
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We’re in the Hampton Inn for Friday night, Sam booked it at lunch today using HotWire to get the best deal, while I route planned. We do make a great team!

Thanks to my friends Cathy and Bob in Oregon for their suggestion of baking soda; my boots are no longer hazardous smelling. Just a small amount dusted into my boots occasionally seems to neutralize the acidic environment that hosts the world’s most stinky bacteria. Seriously, it really works. My life, and the lives of those around me has been changed!
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By the time we had planned the next couple of days and had some salad and beans for our late dinner it was getting late. We know approximatly our route to our friends in the Finger Lakes NY and the next 3 days of riding. I had a shower and it is after midnight. It feels like a great bed, too bad my sleep will be short.

I woke up early as usual to rain and the radar and forecasts on NOAA confirms that the wet cold front has caught up with us. I’ve been dry for the whole trip except for a 20 minute downpour of rain with hail in Arizona. We both agree to stay here another night because riding north easterly today will just keep us in the rain. Might as well let it pass; on this radar map we are just SW of Lexington
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This is what I see out our 2nd floor hotel window and I see no need to go outside and spoil the comfort of a Hampton Inn. I can easily spend hours with the hotel business center computer and big screen monitor and my GPS to tweak our routes.
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Although no doubt the next few days the temperature will be cooler; that’s ok with me because I’m still wearing my shorts under the RoadCrafter suit. We’ve always been concerned about freezing temperatures on our homebound leg, but I expect we will make it home Wednesday, October 28 without any seriously chilling days.
The Garmin Zumo continues to be a reliable device that I couldn’t do this trip without. One of the lefthand buttons fellout in Las Vegas but I taped it and the others in place. A few days later at Cedar Breaks I noticed that the bottom right button, the on/off one was gone so I taped over the hole to keep dirt and moisture out. I can only turn it on by placing it into the powered cradle on the bike. Kind of a nuisance but at least it is still useable.
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We had a day off and only rode the bike about 10km back and forth to downtown Lebanon to get wine and dinner. We also filled up the fuel tank with Shell high test.

** Inserted in February 2016   I highly recommend Short Tronics for GPS repairs.  My Zumo 550 which I love is discontinued and a comparable replacement with either the Zumo 390LM or the 590LM is more expensive that my original cost.  Shipping costs to send it Canada Post from Ontario with tracking was $17. Chris  installed a new internal backup battery and replaced one button and repaired all of the rubber buttons for a total of $58.85  plus return US First Class of $16 payable using PayPal.  I mailed it and got it back in only 13 days. Chris Short, President of Short Tronics provided estimate and notifications by email. Perfect service, fast and economical.

http://www.palmdr.com/

Phone: 612/326-4364   but email is preferred repairs@palmdr.com

Short Tronics, INC.  /   51612 US Highway 169  /   Mankato, MN 56001-6584  **

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Oklahoma

20 Oct

First planned stop today was at the National Historic Site at the Washita massacre. Early in the morning on a cold wintery November daybreak Col. George Custer and his cavalry troops murdered Chief Black Kettle, his wife, many women and children, and a few sleeping warriors. A tragic moment in history in which a peaceful Cheyenne Chief, who had previously signed treaties, was murdered by a legendary decorated soldier under governmental orders. It is referred to as the Battle at Washita River; a surprise attack on a peaceful Cheyenne encampment. Those not murdered were taken captive and witnessed the slaughter of all of their ponies and mules, over 800 animals and the burning the lodges, and winter clothing and food supplies.
The friendly and very knowledgeable staff at the visitors center were most informative. Thank you Katherine for you time spent with me talking about buffalo jumps.

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We are very comfortable staying in Stillwater OK at the Wyndhan Garden Hotel; Sammy found it and booked ahead using Hotwire. It’s an older place that be well upgraded and very thoughtfully appointed with fixtures and furniture; we highly recommend it.
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We have arranged to treat the Suzuki to new oil and a filter in the morning at Stillwater Kawasaki – Suzuki. The whole crew there were great to me. I was well treated and the bike is happy. These people have extensive race experience and know engines and motorcycles.
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We hauled it to non-stop to Tahleguah, a distance of about 230km, to have lunch at Sam and Ella’s
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It’s a locally known favourite that I had researched months ago. Our leftover pizza is sufficient for our dinner.

We are staying overnight in the EconoLodge in Fayetteville Arkansas. We crossed over a state line and didn’t even notice.

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Texas, just passing through

19 Oct

This afternoon we left NM behind and rode into the small town of Texline Texas, then Dalhart and from there straight east across the panhandle, along some paved roads that no tourist has ever seen. Just us and an occasional pickup truck or transport. We lead for a while one of the very few cars we saw, but shortly after they passed us they were stopped by a state trooper. The posted speed limit was 60mph and we were just lucky it was them and not us. Straight roads through corn and cow county mixed with oil pump-jacks. We made it safely to Canadian TX at 8:30pm in darkness and got one of the last hotels rooms available. This is the morning after “welcome to Canadian”
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The headlight needs adjusting because of the change in load. A small increase in passenger weight has the high beams pointing up in the sky and of no use. We didn’t plan to ride much at night but I will make an adjustment this morning.
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We saw this sad sight in the morning, fortunately with our poorly aimed headlights we were not involved. Seeing all the roadkill keeps one alert when riding day or night.
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This is oil worker country, so it’s all crazy including the high prices. We both agree that there is probably a more scenic area in this big state.

As we were leaving one state and entering another along highway #33, I found the monument at the 100° meridian. WooHoo Sam has her left foot still inTexas and her right in Oklahoma.image

The GPS on the bike shows that I didn’t park in exactly the right location
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I was just hanging around in Oklahoma and not bothering to move the bike a few feet. We didn’t get an opportunity to just stand on the corner in Winslow AZ so this is my crazy idea of a good replacement
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New Mexico

18 Oct

We got up early as usual but didn’t eat our hearty breakfast at the cafe until 8:00, we were waiting until it opened and were the first customers of the day. Sam went for an omelet and I woofed a burrito with eggs, bacon, elk sausage all rolled up and lathered with spicy sauce. Before we left we walked around the historic village, the Hot Sulphur Baths had closed many years ago. Interesting name considering there is no sulphur in the water.
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Sam made some new friends today, and chatted for a while so we didn’t leave until 10:00
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We took many pictures of the Soda Dam, a natural formation built up over centuries of calcium carbonate deposits, bubbling up from the hot spring. Sam took this pic of me in the dam.
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I kept wondering, what were the Spaniards doing here 500 years ago?
We didn’t go into the Valles Caldera but did ride the high rim of the volcano and went to over 9000ft elevation.image
It is a big healthly looking forest at 9000ft and in some of the views are massive rock walls.
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Sam got creative with a selfie in front of Tafoya’s Truchas General Store, this old town is worn out but an artist who is a stone carver, painter and potter lives and works here in Truchas; his partner Donna welcomed us into their home/studio.
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Today I got a chance to play in some mountain twisties; excellent road surface and mostly open sight lines. I’m happy riding fast when I can see where I’m going and Sam seems unphased through the corners at any speed and just keeps taking pictures.
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We stopped at the visitors center about 3:00 in Taos and decided to stay here overnight at the historic Sagebrush Inn. We were made to feel particularly welcome with a gift of a bottle of red wine. After a glass and a snack we rode about 3 miles to the downtown and parked just across the street from Kit Carson’s house. We’re eating grocery store dinner back on our hotel room in our pajamas and have laundry pre-soaking in the bath tub.

The Inn was very quiet and we slept well and enjoyed an extensive breakfast buffet of real food, not the usual crappy continental breakfast of prepackaged junk food.
Riding part way around the Enchanted Circle twisties was great and we topped over 9000ft on a pass. Along the way we stopped to take a picture of our new waterproof yellow bag that we bought in Taos to replace the white garbage bag. It also adds to our Hi-Viz look don’t you think?
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We stopped in at Angel Fire ski resort and at Eagle Nest
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we began the downhill exit of our mountain experience. The road to Cimarron is great motorcycle road. In town we deviated off hwy #64 and took the old historic Santa Fe Trail
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and ended up in Springer for lunch. The mountains and twisties are now behind us. It’s been great.
We decided when we stopped for an ice-cream cone in Dalhart Texas to make it a long haul day and accomplish some distance in the homebound direction.
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Buffalo Pass to Shiprock

17 Oct

Cool morning but no rain, and I saw clearly Venus, Jupiter and Mars before dawn. Yeah, we got an early start.
The twisties up to and over Buffalo Pass are great and the red coloured rocks are fantastic. In some ways nicer than seeing the Grand Canyon. The scale is different but riding right amongst the rocks is better.
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We stopped at the top at a little picnic area for a break. Looking east and down through the pass Shiprock is visible in the distance. It is a lava dike monadnock, the remanent of an explosive volcanic eruption about 30 million years ago. The elevation of the sacred Navajo peak is 7177ft and it’s prominence is 1583ft. It’s only about 30 miles northwesterly, as the crow flies, to the Four Corners.
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For more geological information see: https://geoinfo.nmt.edu/tour/landmarks/shiprock/home.html

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I went for a short hike to get up close and take some pictures through one of the holes.
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We are staying at the Laughing Lizard in Jemez Springs NM next door to Hwy4Cafe that has excellent food for dinner; Greek salad for Sam and porkchop special for me. Their baked goods look deadly. Jemez Springs has an interesting history with Spaniards arriving here in 1540.
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Riding highway #4 WooHoo, we certainly enjoyed the Grand Canyon but the ride to Jemez Springs was equally or more awesome!

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Here is a view from our balcony.
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