Friday, September 12, 2014

3000 Mile Motorcycle Ride: The 4 Best Roads of the Ride

This is my second ride to Denver from Tennessee.  Going to Wisconsin first really made this ride special although longer, the approach to Denver was new to me, with a completely new perspective.   Here are the highlights from the 4 best roads of the ride.   These roads are ingrained in my memory.   While on these roads I achieved nirvana on a motorcycle; it was a complete religious experience.   For people that ride this is what it is all about.  It's always about the journey, it's about the ride.

I love lonely roads;the feeling of complete isolation stirs the soul.   These 4 roads have this in common.  On these roads there are 3 equally defining parts of the experience, that you can feel deep in your marrow.  The rush of the road beneath your wheels, a direct connection to the world at that given moment, and a feeling that you are the only one really alive.   These 3 things create a freeing detachment from the rest of the world.  It is the drug that I can not get enough of.

South Dakota Route #44:   Leaving Iowa crossing the Big Sioux River in South Dakota US Highway 18 joins Route #44.   Corn fields start to give way to a more western landscape; big skies and rolling grasslands.  Riding along you are hit in the face with the Missouri River and the valley that it dominates the road for the the next 30 miles.  You seem to be alone in the west in complete bliss.

Nebraska Route #88:   In the panhandle of Nebraska you realize that this is not your farmers Nebraska.  Route # 88 is dominated by bluffs as you head out Bridgeport.   Say goodbye to the world, you will be on a different planet for the next couple of hours.   I stop for a drink of water and feel like I'm on the set of an old western.  I don't remember seeing a car on this road.  Is it a good thing or was it a short step back into the twilight zone.

Kansas Route #177:   Headed south out of Manhattan Kansas it's not long you come to the K#117 overlook.   Take a look at 200 or 300 miles of plains just riden.  When traveling through Kansas stay off of Interstate 70 and see the real Kansas.   Riding south on K177 there are long sweeping turns with changing views that will stop your heart.  Arriving in Council Grove I get gas and catch my breath.   It takes a while to savor the experience.

Missouri Route #17:  After leaving the twisting roads of the famous route #66, you turn south on Missouri 17.  It is downhill to US Highway 60 and then 4 short hours to my home in good old Tennessee.  First it is this road that I must conquer.   Back in the south it is twisting roads in the company of hardwood timber.  Rivers and the road flow south fast towards the Mississippi. The morning dew rising from the valleys gives the road a feeling of perfection that will not last into the afternoon.

Back home in the deep south I start to sing Rocky Top it is good to be home in Tennessee.  Looking back I realize that these roads are now part of me and no one can ever take them away.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

3000 Mile Motorcycle Ride: Fishing in the Rockies at Stagecoach Reservoir

What can I say it's another fishing trip to Stagecoach Reservoir.  This place is near Oak Creek in Western Colorado. We always catch fish there so that's why we always go back.

First, it is a quick trip to Rocky Mountain National Park through Longmont and Lyons.  Lyons was affected quite a bit by last Fall's flood, but they are coming back.   What can you say about Rocky Mountain National Park, it is the stunning beauty.

We work our way to through to western Colorado stopping in Kernelling it is the best Mexican food of the trip.   Los Amigos Mexican Restaurant is in an old house at the corner of US 40 and Colorado Route 9.   It is so good we stop again on the way back.

We make it to Stagecoach by mid afternoon we are fishing.  After a few hours, we have 5 big trout.   You can only say fish fry once we get back to Denver.   We meet a character called Rudy who seems to be catching all the fish.   If only we had his spot.  It might have been the whiskey he was drinking that was attracting all the fish.

Once it started getting dark we make it to the Oak Creek Motel and dinner at the Colorado Bar and Cafe.   The food isn't bad, but average.  It was a good sleep but time to get back at it.  The next morning we are up at 7 am and back to fishing.  Rudy beats us to our stop again.  This time with no luck.

So back to Denver and a fish fry. First another stop at Los Amigos Mexican Restaurant.   We get what we need to make it over the Eisenhower Tunnel and back to Denver.   A short overnight trip is just what the doctor ordered.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

3000 Mile Motor Cycle Ride: The Nebraska Pan Handle and Denver.

Riding into the Panhandle
Well it's the final push to Denver it was a clear morning in Chadron Nebraska on the pan handle.  The western part of Nebraska has a unique western flavor.   Riding through the Nebraska National forest was exhilarating; part plain, forest, and bluff.  It is a good morning to be alive.

On Route 88 in Nebraska 
The high sandstone bluffs in western Nebraska provide western vistas one cannot imagine.  You must ride through them yourself.    Riding out of Bridgeport on Nebraska Route 88 for a hour I never encounter another car.   Bluffs and forest giving way to grassy plains on both side of the road.  Definitely the right road at the right time.

Sunset in the Panhandle
It is still a couple hours to Denver after leaving the Bluff Country.   Before Denver it is the desolation through Pawnee National Grassland and the high desert plain of eastern Colorado and Nebraska.   Heading south Nebraska Route 71 turns into Colorado route 71.  On this a lonely road there is a strange eerie beauty to it all.  Once through the grasslands its a left turn on Colorado Route 14 for more of a ride on the Colorado high desert plain.  Once reaching US Highway 85 in Greeley it is a short  romp on 4 lanes to my destination in North Denver.

The trip is now 2/3 over with.   My fantasy football draft party is in 3 days; but first a trout fishing trip in the rocky mountains.

Monday, September 1, 2014

3000 Mile Motorcycle Ride: Route 44 in South Dakota and Pine Ridge

Have you ever been on a perfect road at a perfect time in a perfect place.  South Dakota Route 44 and US Highway 18 is just what I needed on this trip to Denver.   Leaving Spirit Lake Iowa it is about a two hour ride to the South Dakota Border.  The rest of Iowa on Route 9 in Northern Iowa is one big cornfield.

Once crossing the Big Sioux River into South Dakota the terrain is much the same.  Cornfields and small towns consume the landscape until you run into the the Missouri River and everything changes.  You are truly in the west and heading into the high plains.  As you drop into the Missouri River basin there are hills, ridges and forested areas on both side of the river.   It is a site for sore eyes after the 150 miles of cornfields.

After crossing the river I climb out of the basin through rolling hills.   This is cattle country with the badlands in the distance.   It becomes a lonely road once entering the Lakota and Pine Ridge Indian Reservations.  A little depressing as well worn Government housing dots the Landscape.  Stopping to get gas in Winner SD, I did get to exchange words with some people of the Lakota Nation. They did seem to be a happy lot.   A proud warrior nation I pass the cemetery with it's veterans monument.    I have to admit they do live in a beautiful area in this place of South Dakota.

The ride becomes lonely without any traffic.   It is good to own the road this day.  Once reaching the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation it was time to turn south into Nebraska.    This real pine ridge runs from Western South Dakota into the panhandle of  Nebraska.  This part  of Nebraska is highly unusual with the Nebraska National Forest Dominating the area.   This is not your Instate 80 Nebraska.  There is a unique beauty here like no other place that I have been too.

I finally stop for the night Chadron on the edge of the Nebraska National Forest.   I vow to one day return and make this ride again.  I must do it again on another road less traveled.