Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by 1911 »

Monday May 24

We are still learning the art of camping. One thing we learned here is to try to pitch the tent where the morning sun will hit it.

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The plan coming into Bryce is to spend Sunday afternoon and a good bit of Monday in Bryce and then spend two days working our way over to Moab. No reservations for Monday night, just a bunch of first come first served primitive campgrounds loaded in the GPS POIs. We are enjoying Bryce quite a bit. The campsites in the park are all taken but the park doesn’t seem crowded and there are no traffic jams. We must have really missed some spectacular stuff back at Zion. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for why Zion was packed and by comparison it feels like we have Bryce all to ourselves.

Got to take a break here to say how much I like the national parks that we have stayed in. They don’t pack campers into the improved campgrounds like sardines. Even though the campgrounds are fully booked we still feel like we have our own little piece of wilderness. We have heard whining from some of the folks in really large rigs about it being hard to maneuver, no WiFi or cell and such. I think these campgrounds were built long ago before diesel pickups could tow 24,000 pounds and everything had three slideouts.

Monday morning we are in no hurry to leave Bryce. We look around a little first thing. Maralee gets even less enthusiastic about my two day to Moab plan when I tell her we’ll be picking a somewhat primitive FCFS site this evening. The reservable sites in Bryce are all booked and have been for six months, so we load up a little early and head over to the FCFS campgrounds in Bryce. At a half hour past checkout time we snag the last available site. WooHooo! Another whole day in Bryce.

As soon as the tent is up we go over to the park store and eat a fine pizza.

After lunch it’s back out to look around.

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Seeing this group of trailriders coming up the valley makes Maralee want to take a trail ride. We inquire at the stables. The earliest available is about two weeks out. Planning fail number two :(

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Mrs1911 hoofing it horslessly, and cursing this 10,000 foot air

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Monday evening, in the office adjusting the route to Moab.

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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by 1911 »

Sure I posted some twice, but I didn't post them all.

The whole Bryce album:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/151982254 ... 9582349255
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by wheatonFJR »

1911 wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 11:16 am Sure I posted some twice, but I didn't post them all.

The whole Bryce album:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/151982254 ... 9582349255
Wow.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by dcarver »

Really like this pic..
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by raYzerman »

Moab...... last there in 2018 on June 5 it was 42C (108F). Dry though. If you're doing Arches NP, go in the morning when it opens, ride right to the very end scouting your pic stops along the way, then turn around against the incoming traffic, make your little picture stops on the way back... a couple of hours is enough unless you want to dawdle at the hiking spots... by 10:30 it will be 35C (95F) and then get a few miles north to Canyonlands.... cooler there.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by 1911 »

dcarver wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 4:58 pm Really like this pic..
Thanks. Really liked getting there to take it, on a very smooth running 07 FJR, the kind of smoooooth that can only come with a set of well balanced injectors :)
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by Hppants »

Duane - I'm enjoying your ride report immensely. I've been to much of what you've shown thus far. In that light, I look at your pictures and recollect the fine memories of my own trip. But I also enjoy reading about your thoughts on the matter, both in general and more specifically, as it relates to motorcycle touring.

A man earns his worldly view only one way....
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by extrememarine »

Eagerly awaiting the next installment. Its like watching a TV show before Netflix was invented; one cliffhanger episode a week...

;)
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

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Tuesday May 26

Morning sun warming the tent and the outside of the tourists, coffee warming the inside of the tourists.

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Our original, well researched, two day route to Moab zigzagged around Glen Canyon and came into Moab from the south. Our new one day route is a little more direct and comes into Moab from the north. I hope for fun roads and a variety of scenery. Grand Staircase-Escalante does not disappoint.

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Burr Trail down to Lake Powell was in our two day plan. Just by chance we pass by the turn for Burr Trail at lunch time and we head down it just far enough to find a picnic spot.



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Capitol Reef offers us some old art to contemplate over (under?) and a chance to pick some fruit.

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Not a bad day for just getting from one big attraction to another, huh?

We check into KOA Moab with cracked and bleeding fingers, lips and sinuses. Our weather app says the humidity is 7 percent. That’s a good bit drier than us southeasterners are used to. Our usual petrochemical moisturizers aren’t doing the trick. We pick up some all natural and expensive repair salve from a display in the campground store placed to snag out of towners just like us. It does seem to work BUT the list of ingredients reads like a recipe for a topping that a grizzly would use to glaze a snack :shock:

We asked the host to recommend a local restaurant and then ate somewhere else. I watch Mrs1911 eat a very nice looking but tourist priced steak at a place just down from camp. The parking lot is full of off-road SxS, dualsports and jeeps.

KOA laundry and the moon over my laundry

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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

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Wednesday May 26

Our stay at KOA Moab was in a cabin. The laundry was all done last night. No tent and camping gear to pack up so we get an early start. When we get to Arches, the gates are closed :( The sign says “park full check back in 3-5 hours”.

Canyonlands and Dead Horse are loaded in the GPS. They are in the opposite general direction though, of where we are headed. We’ve spent about 5 days in southern Utah. We’d have to spend 5 weeks, maybe months, to see everything on our wish list. We decide to head east. My urge to get back to Colorado and Utah on something with knobbies is great.

So, up the Colorado River we go

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Not exactly Maralee’s idea of a beach trip but I can say now that I have dipped a toe in the Colorado River



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We take some notes for reference to future possibilities

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Maralee says “NO HORN!”

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Anyone else see a cartoon coyote with a lever behind this rock?

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Glad we weren’t here when this one crossed the road

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Drastic change of scenery once we climb up out of the river valley

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And very little camera play until we reach our stop for the night

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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by wheatonFJR »

FJRIDERS version of American Gothic?
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Awesome.

Savoring this report and reriding my 2013 FJR trip to that area in my mind.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by gixxerjasen »

1911 wrote: Sun Jul 18, 2021 11:17 pm Image
Amazing how such a tiny out of the way spot is so iconic that I bet most here know exactly where that shot was taken without having to scroll down at all.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by Hppants »

I do - ironic indeed. I've stood where Marilee stands and I've seen that spectacular view.

That Hwy 128 run from Arches to the interstate just before the CO border is spiritual, man. I LOVE (LOVE!!!) that stretch that runs along the Mighty Colorado River.

I can only assume you passed up the Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction? Put that one on your "upon return" list.....

More, please.....
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by 1911 »

Arches being sold out put us a little ahead of schedule. There are some POI in the GPS between Arches and BCotG, like Clorado National Monument. But the crowds and traffic in Zion and Arches and that US50 detour are gnawing at me. I read once something about a fellow who occasionally felt claustrophobic with a full face helmet on. Opposite for me. I feel Freebirdish when I have my full face helmet on. Still, I can empathize. Crowds and traffic are what trigger might flight instinct, even though they might not be that bad. So we take advantage of running early. Through Grand Junction. Through Montrose. Let’s see what Black Canyon of the Gunnison has for us.



All the campsites are spoken for but the park is far from crowded. It’s like the only people in the park are those camping. The road down to the river is closed so we do all our sightseeing from the top side.

If Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Yellowstone make the most of the rest of our parks “second string”, then my friends, we have one hell of a second string. That the scenery can change this much in a half a day shouldn’t surprise me, considering how much the scenery can change in 15 minutes back where we just spent a week.

We set up camp and then go exploring. The gasping for air while hiking is included with the elevation.

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Farm land and sand dunes

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And amazing fudge swirl

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Sneaking up on Bugs

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Young man a couple sites up asks to borrow a stove. He has in one hand a butane stove and a propane canister in the other, and a cold dinner back at the tent. He and his fiancee are from quite different parts of the country and have met half way for vacation. They both work for NASA, and they aren't janitors. We hand the lad a near empty can of butane and tell him it's theirs, and if they finish that one off to start on the one in the bear box and put it back when morning coffee is done. In the morning we find our fuel cell returned with a thank you gift.

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I remember when rocket scientists and my health care providers were older than me :(
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

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Amazing!😀
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by raYzerman »

Black Canyon is great....... now waiting to see if you made your way to Independence Pass.......
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by gixxerjasen »

You sure are taking the long roundabout way to Red Lodge. I like it!!!
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

Post by wheatonFJR »

I love all of your photos, they are really striking for various reasons. You have a treasure trove there buddy. There are a couple that struck me.

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I love the marbled effect...you sure hit it!

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I love that wall of white mountains...
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

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The next four days are four great days of motorcycle touring, and I’ve got next to nothing to show for the first three of them.
The US50 road closure between Montrose and Blue Mesa Reservoir adds a big roundabout to our ride today. We loop around the back side of Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

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Highway 92 is a good ride that would be a great ride without the tractor trailer traffic using it as a US50 detour.

At Monarch Pass we get a surprisingly good lunch.

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The fellow on the Harley is headed to BCotG and he has just gotten the word about the US50 closure. I tell him what the 92 option is like and that the road to the lower part of Black Canyon is closed. He is distraught about not being able to camp down by the river. Says he’ll skip BCotG now. Makes me wonder what we missed. Our little bit of info may have helped Harley guy avoid unpleasant surprises. Can we count the bit of butane and traffic heads up we’ve given away as a little something added to our Karma stash? We may find out later. He gives us some info about the area we are headed to.

Monarch Pass to Cripple Creek is good riding. Maybe not as dramatic as The Million Dollar Highway but darn good riding, with a little new RV owner entertainment. Oops, making light of this families misfortune and not stopping to help-not good for the Karma account. I’m getting the impression that Colorado, west of Denver at least, is like western NC. Any pavement is good riding, but with a lot more variety of scenery. Mrs1911 now says riding at home offers nothing to look at but trees.



Picking a KOA as a place to stay without checking reviews and satellite is a low odds crapshoot. Many KOAs are more roadside parking lot with plug-ins than camping destinations. The reviews for KOA Cripple Creek are good, and understated. Pike’s Peak and Mount Evans are within range of Cripple Creek. Neither of them are open yet :( KOA has only been open a day or two for the season when we roll in early Thursday afternoon. A man older than me asks if we are pulling a Bushtec. He pulls one with a Valkyrie. I ask if he is camping here tonight. Nope, his kids own the place. Beginning Saturday they are booked solid all summer.

Pike’s Peak being closed has given us more time back than the bonus trip across the back side of Gunnison cost. We get set up early and ask one of the locals on staff about stuff to do. Her info, combined with Harley Guys info, gives us lots of choices. Cripple Creek has converted every old building to a restaurant or casino.

Of all the possibilities this is what we decide to do

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And this is the dinner and show that we pick

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KOAs Livingston Montana, Manchester Beach California and Cripple Creek Colorado. These are three great places to spend a little time.

I ask the owners, Terri and Deric Gunter, if they built this place up from scratch. I’m a little shocked to hear that they are at least the third owners. The facility is in such good shape that I thought it was nearly new. It’s obvious that this family is pouring their heart and soul into this place.

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Camping at the world’s highest KOA means a good chance of a frosty morning.

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There is just something about 10,000 foot coffee

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The town of Cripple Creek, as seen from over the graveyard.

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I hope to return.
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Re: Red Lodge Better Late Than Never

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Cripple Creek to Pearl Lake is another short day with Mount Evans not yet open. For some reason, riding through Breckenridge doesn’t trigger my fight or flight instinct. The “Gatlinburg with money” vibe amuses me.

The only pics we take on the way are of some old farm buildings that catch Mrarlee’s eye.

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Pearl Lake State Park campground slot number 4

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I confirm that the sunset pics are from two different devices to make sure that the colors aren’t a technical glitch.

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Frost on the seat again.

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Getting up EARLY to walk around and take pictures of the sun coming up-has nothing to do with needing to visit the vault.

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View from the house

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Wait, better with coffee

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There were clouds and a mountain breeze in the evening but morning is clear and dead calm. As we stand looking over the campers below us smoke from a morning wood fire rises in a perfectly straight plume. A little later somebody adds bacon and the smell wafts through the whole campground. THE BASTARDS!

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Pearl Lake to Red Lodge means crossing Wyoming. Being Memorial Day weekend, my brainstorm is to route us to avoid traffic and crowds. Well, you know what you see when you intentionally avoid population while crossing Wyoming? A whole lotta NOTHING! Holy Cow! Talk about some wide open country. Wild River Indian reservation/Boysen State Park would have been worth a stop but we kind of blew through before we knew we were there.

Signage at a rest stop on Sweetwater River. Being out here leaves us in awe of those that crossed the continent by wagon train. As I have said before, it is a treat for us to get to see the wide open west, at least so long as we are crossing it at FJR pace. At an Ox pace it might get a little tedious.

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Checking in indoors for the night, we get a recommendation for dinner from the desk. Red Lodge Pizza Co delivers one of the best pizzas we have ever eaten.

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