Day 15
June 19th, 2007                                                       
Country Lodge Manor Motel
Montrose, Colorado     

It was a beautiful morning in the Rockies.  Cool temps and lots of sunshine.  Uncle Phil and Bill were already stirring about, "dang I better get moving, but this bed feels good."

Bill was packing up and heading home, he was going to ride south with us to Ridgeway.  We didn't have a plan, so we took out the atlas.  Uncle Phil said, "look here, we for sure wanna ride the Million Dollar Highway, after that I don't really care, I just wanna see some mountains and have a good time."  "Well, we can go on down to Telluride, then over Lizard Head Pass, and then to the 550.'  "Yeah, that sounds good, and along the way, we can check out Mesa Verde."  "Sounds like a plan."

Bill was loading up his Yamaha cruiser.  Folks, it was the biggest load I'd ever seen on 2 wheels.  I kidded him about it big time.  He had something for EVERY contingency, he put Uncle Phil to shame.  He had FIVE pair of Levi's in his clothes bag.  "So you brought a pair for each day of the week?"  "Yeah."  "Dang."  His rig was stacked high above his head.  He asked Uncle and I for a lot of advice.  We just reminded him all this was new to him, that over time and miles, he'll learn what to take and what to leave behind.  I told him I carry TWO pillows, I hate it's that way, because they take up A LOT of room, but they are essential if I want a good nights sleep.  So I'm forced to leave something else behind.  It is common among neophytes to pack more then they need.
​​Bill Roberts-loaded and ready for Tennessee
I went outside to the ST and saw Uncle Phil going over a few things on his 2002 ST 1100 ABS, that now has been in all the lower 48.  Uncle Phil is more goal oriented about his riding then I, and he now has 2 1100s that have been all the lower 48, I don't know anyone else that can say that.  In a just few days he has ridden up to Lolo and and South Washington, a series of 700 mile days, most of it on interstates, but he said he was going to slow down, now that he has all the states and the appropriate pictures.  You can read about his adventures on his web site.  If you've not been there, go check it out.  Like I said, we have different philosophies on this or that, but for every difference we have a similar.  As much as I've done this, I still pick up hooks of knowledge here and there, I'm always looking at ways to do things better, a road to ride, or a theme for a tour.

I was chatting with Uncle Phil while checking my PSI.  I was down 3 psi in each.  "Here use this compressor while I got it out,' I could hear Uncle Phil say.  "Thanks."  He always seems to have the right tool at the right time.  He duct taped a broke mirror for me in NY, had some warm clothes in the UK, and some cash for me to get home from the Blue Ridge when a card reader at a old gas pump destroyed my ATM card.

By 8:30 we are on the road.  We stopped for a fill up at con store down the street from the cabin, and went south on U.S. 550 to Ridgeway.  The ride is nothing special as we clear the congestion.  

In Ridgeway we bid Bill good bye and went to SR 62.  We got hung up in a construction zone, the first of many for the next couple of days.  SR 62 took us up in elevation, and traffic picked up, this is the main road from Montrose to Telluride.

In the old days, summers were quiet in the Rocky Mountains, as the ski resorts were pretty much shut down, but no longer.  The Rockies are a 12 month a year recreation destination, and are busy year round.
Getting to Telluride means a long ride up several mountains, then a long descent down into the valley.  We waited out another construction zone on one of the long up hills.  It was tedious and dusty.
​I took this picture of the valley near Telluride, while waiting
out a construction zone.

We skipped going into Telluride and stayed on SR 145, riding past the ski mountain to Lizard Head.  A nice photo presented itself at Trout Lake so we took the cameras out.  A couple of Gold Wings from Florida made room for us.  Judging the condition of their bikes, I'm going to say they trailered from Florida.  They were too clean.
​Trout Lake, near Lizard Head Pass
The ride south down 145 was scenic and twisty.  We swapped positions often and had a lot of fun.  I've ridden a lot of miles with Uncle Phil, and things just seem right when are out on a ride together.  Our speed was sedate as we took in the views.  We even pulled off and took a few pictures near a mountain stream.

We skipped anything to eat this morning so we took a early lunch at a place in Cortez called the Fargo.  The food was ok and the service friendly enough.  I made a phone call or 2, and chatted with Uncle Phil about the ride.

Uncle Phil had been riding hard since Tennessee so our intent was not to do a lot of miles today.  We were getting back on the bikes when I mentioned, "Dang Uncle by the time we get back to Montrose we're gonna come in around 350."  

"Yeah, but whose counting?"

I've been through the area a couple of times but never stopped to see Mesa Verde, so I was looking forward to it.  U.S. 160 took us to the park in short order.  I saw the sign for Mancos State Park and recalled a cold, lonely, night there in 2001 on my first cross country ride.

The attendant advised the road was under construction and had recently been skinned.  The entrance to the cliff dwellings is 20 miles or so.  Traffic was moderate as we skimmed over the groves, pebbles and dust, that really agitated my hay fever.  I had some of the worse attacks of the year in Colorado, and I trace it back to the fine dust that seems to be on everything.  It was frustrating.  My eyes itched beyond belief, and controlled sneezing in a full face helmet was for the birds.

The main view point of the dwellings was crowed but we can shove our way with the best of them.  "I ain't gonna do ALL this and not get a pic?"  Was MY reasoning for joining the battle.
I studied the cliffs and was amazed  people could scratch out a life here.  It took every one in the community to make it work according to literature.
​Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde
After taking pictures we got back on the road and began the ride out of the park.  Shortly after leaving the parking lot of the vista, I passed a RV-on the double yellow.  Speed limit was 35.  I looked to the rear to see Uncle Phil following suit.

I rode another couple of miles and saw no Uncle Phil behind me, so I slowed.  Still no Uncle Phil.  "Must be takin a pic, I'll wait for him here," as I pulled to a turnout.  Ten seconds later he rounded a corner with a park ranger behind him, lights on.  "DANG!"  They came in behind my bike and parked.  "Man this sucks, we're BOTH gonna get a ticket."  A young female ranger stepped out of the white SUV.

"You know why I stopped you guys?"

"I know why," in my most poor southern boy manner.

"You passed the RV double yellow"

"yes m'am, I did that, it wasn't that he wasn't going fast enough, but he was kicking up all kinds of debris (road construction) and pelting the stew out of me, but I'm wrong for doing that."

I did not offer any other excuses, she had us, and there was no need to insult her intelligence.  I did the talking while Uncle Phil stood quietly.  I got us in this mess, maybe I could get us out.  As far as Park Rangers go, the lady was not bad, and I noticed no ring on the left hand. "Maybe she hasn't made up her mind yet what she's gonna do, and being a single lady, just wanted to check 2 guys out on bikes?"  I made some more small talk with her, and we handed over our paperwork.  She checked my registration, and was confused by the paperwork.

  "Do you have more then 1 bike? These numbers don't jive." 

"I do have more then 1 bike m'am, lemme check if I handed you the right copy."  I looked it over and it was the correct paper for the Honda, but she was looking in the wrong box.  "See here it is, ATJ 673, same as my plate."

  "Ok now I see."

She looked over my drivers license, and back at me.  "M'am that ain't the best pic of me, and it was about 50lbs ago, (on the heavier side) but that is ME."  She looked at me squarely and smiled, "Well Guy you know your license expires this year." 

"September no?" 

"Yes, I just thought I'd remind you." 


"Y'all step back from the bikes, you can talk,  just don't get too close to each other, I'll be right back."  She went back to her vehicle.

I knew she was going back to check us for warrants etc.  I told Uncle Phil.  "Look here brother, we ain't gettin a ticket today, I can feel it, she spent too much time chatting, she's gonna check us out and let us 2 southern boys go."  "Man I hope you're right."  I wasn't sure, but I had a good feeling.

On her way back, I thought it was time to loosen up things.  "Look here m'am, if y'all are holdin any warrants on Uncle Phil, I just met him back in the parking lot."   "You guys are good to go,  Just slow down, stop passing on the double yellow."

Uncle Phil said, "I feel like givin ya great big hug."

I yelled in my mind, "NOoooooooo Uncle don't mess it up NOW!"

She said, "I don't think that would be appropriate."  "Well I know, I just said I felt like doing it."

Folks, I don't know why she let us off other then she liked us.  We blatantly passed on the double yellow, 50 in a 35, and in a construction zone to top it off, she could have wrote us for us for 3 different violations in which we had NO defense what so ever, other than my lame one about debris being thrown back.  All that and we got off scot free? 

My last 4 stops have all been verbal warnings, they go back to 2004.  In Minnesota by a state trooper- offense speeding.  Stopped in Arizona, another state trooper, again, for passing on the double yellow, let go.  Last year I was stopped in the Blue Ridge by a deputy, 20 over the speed limit, and let go, and now this day.  All 4 were brazen law breaks.  My last paying ticket goes back to Kansas in 2003, about 150k miles ago.  I went down for doin 7 over in a 65 zone.

The only advice I can give is just admit to the offense, and don't get pissed.  And I guess it pays to be southern in a strange land, middle aged, and dressed in safety gear also helps.  It makes you look professional. The only things I can think off.  I don't know how much longer this luck will last.

We rode out of the park at 25 mph.  

In Durango we topped off the gas tanks and took a break at a con store.  I high 5 Uncle Phil about getting off.  "Dang brother we must be doin something right."  "yeah, but don't let it go to your head, we still gotta get home."

After a nice break we got back on the road and went to U.S. 550.  Now I know why they call it the Million Dollar Highway.  In terms of scenery it is spectacular.  The ride north out of Durango starts gradually, but each mile it traces the view grows better.
​U.S. 550- the Million Dollar Highway
Our bikes slipped through the mountain passes on the sweeping curves.  I matched Uncle Phil's line and just rode.  I was surrounded by tall, colorful peaks.
​ "I was surrounded by tall, colorful peaks."
We stopped in Molas Pass and spoke to several Navajo ladies selling trinkets.  I asked one how to say mountain in Navajo.  "Nuvet" is what I believe she said.  Uncle Phil picked out a charm for his wife and we continued our ride north.
​Molas Pass
From Molas to Ouray was some of the best riding I ever put down.  The sun was going down and the mountains carved up the light.  Letting some pass here and blocking it there.  All around were shadows but gold streams of light would find a crevice and make its way to valley floor or shine on a rock wall.  It was beautiful country.
​​This stream of evening sunlight filtered through a break in the high
peaks, and found its way to the valley floor.

 The ride to Ouray was peppered with frequent photo ops so it took us awhile to get there.  The high walls and steep drop offs were dangerous.  The sunlight on the mountain walls cast the area in a dream like filter.
​This band of sunlight on a mountain wall, had a heavenly
aurora about it. 

On almost every turn I wanted to stop and take a picture.  It was sensory overload for sure.
​The late afternoon sun peaking through the peaks put U.S. 550 on stage.
Ouray seemed like a pleasant place nestled in the throes of all these high mountains. I liked the city and wanted to spend more time there but it was growing late.
​The quaint valley town of Ouray, Colorado as seen from
U.S. 550.  Elevation about 2,000 ft.

From Ouray it was a ho hum ride back to Montrose.  We pulled to our cabin door around 4pm after a 317 mile day.  

Our cabin was in the rear but the owners said it was ok to walk through the office to get to the lobby, "no need to walk all the way around."  They pretty much gave us the run of the place.  They had a pc in the lobby but it was hard to find it unoccupied because of the operators children stayed logged in most of the time.

We asked the thin lady with the tattoo on her back about the the only restaurant nearby, a place caleld the "Red Barn Inn."  "I don't eat there and the customers that go there give it mixed reviews."  It was the only place within walking distance.

On our way back to the room from the lobby, Uncle Phil made this comment, "yanno, no telling what happened between this place and the Red Barn as to why she steers her customers away.  We oughta try it, we might be surprised."

So after I showered we did- and found it to be quite good.  I had chicken noodle soup and a grilled breast and baked potato.  The place looked to have a good business, so I'm thinking Uncle Phil was right.  There might be a ex husband running the cafe, why she tries to keep people away.

Uncle Phil and I seldom get to spend time together on rides, we are usually caught in the middle of larger group he is leading, and any quality time is hard to come by, so these 2 days were nice.  Uncle was the first guy I met that rode a ST way back when.  That was a lot of miles ago.  We spent the evening picking each others brain about past rides and future rides.  Between the 2 of us there are few roads in North America we don't know about.  He told me he had just knocked out the Beartooth after 2 previous thwarted attempts.  I know how he feels, that road is only open from 4th of July to Labor Day, and my West Coast rides don't fit that window.
We had a nice stroll back to the room.  The AC had the room really cold, but I can control the temp with my door.

It was time to check the atlas for the next ride.  We decided on the Black Canyon, then Gunnison to SR 92.  "That should keep us occupied," Uncle Phil said as he headed off to bed.  I went shortly after him.  It had been a fun day.