2010 Canada

This was going to be our big ride and we decided to make this trip the first 2 weeks in July.. weather is much better!
We try to find lodging reasonably priced at each of the stops, we don’t do the camping routine while on the bike.
The ride up was going to be quick but still enjoyable, we wanted most of our time to be in Canada.
Great times with family.

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2009 Kings Canyon and Sequoia

It was another anniversary ride we wanted to experience.

It was great weather and these roads are new to us. We road out on Friday and got to Fresno to spend the evening with our son Keith. The next morning we had the whole day to ride into Kings Canyon and Sequoia and see some of the worlds largest trees. Getting from Fresno to the park we took highway 180. Climbing up in altitude was good as the temperature was already starting to get very warm.  We got to the intersection of 180 and 198 and stayed on 180 to the Kings Canyon visitors center where we saw a large group of Harley’s that made it up from the Los Angeles are. It was another HOG group that were riding through the parks.

Leaving the visitors center we road out to the General Grant Tree and walked around the area. A large tree that had fallen was hollowed and you can walk through the tree.

Leaving this area we tried to continue on to Roads End but as we were riding and descending the temperature began to get too warm for our liking so we decided to stop and take a break to see the river below and take a few pictures. This will have to be completed on another trip to the parks.

We road back out to 198 and continued into Sequoia and stopped at the Lodgepole Visitors Center. Good place for a stop and getting souvenirs. We continued for a bit more and stopped at the General Sherman Tree and walked down the path through all the very large trees. Many people on the trails there.

The next stop was at Moro Rock which was a little hike up to the top where you could see a panoramic view of the Sierra Mountains. Be safe on the rock as the drop off is steep.

Riding out to Three Rivers included switchbacks to come down the mountains. We stayed at the River Inn and then went up to Gateway Restaurant for our anniversary dinner. Very nice evening sitting on the patio overlooking the river as it flowed by. Very enjoyable time and good people there.

The ride home was taking highway 198 west across the central valley and connecting to highway 101.

An easy trip to enjoy on a weekend.

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2007 Canyon Ride

The ride through the ‘canyons’ was to be our major ride for the year starting at home in North Monterey County, California. It seems time goes by so fast and we always have reasons to postpone trips but we end up missing special times to enjoy our lives. I hope to encourage you to take the time and enjoy trips on your motorcycle. I know some like short rides and some like the long rides so ride the ride you are comfortable in, but ride and have fun.

I wanted to check out the areas of Southern Utah/Northern Arizona so I could re-plan for ‘hub’ rides in the future. The trip was 9 days, Saturday to Sunday. The route included National Parks and scenic roads from California to Utah and back. After hours of map and internet research I came up with a route using the HOG Ride Planner that captured most, if not all, of the interesting areas. These include Yosemite National Park, Death Valley NP, Zion NP, Bryce NP, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, Capitol Reef NP, Colorado River, Arches NP, Dead Horse Point State Park, Canyonlands NP, Gooseneck SP, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Vermillion Cliffs NM, Grand Canyon – North Rim NP, Coral Pink Sand Dunes SP, Cedar Breaks Area (we missed the NM but rode over the pass), Nevada Great Basin HWY 93, The Loneliest Road in America HWY 50, and Ebbetts Pass HWY 4. Yes, this is miles of roads to ride but well worth it, now I know what to do for the next few rides.

The ride was about 2880 miles and a few days were 360+ miles and some were less than 300. It seemed to be the best plan to take in so much area. I used 70 gallons of gas averaging 41 MPG and costing $256. We had a cool ride over Tioga Pass and the next day was hot through Death Valley to Saint George, Utah. Death Valley was 95 degrees at 9:30am and we met about 40 Austrian/German Harley riders touring the US. It was an interesting ride when we got close to Utah, the road seemed to go into the side of the mountain and then we were in the canyon area and out of the desert. What a quick transition.

The third day was going to be a long day and we were going through major parks, Zion, Bryce, Grand Staircase, Capitol Reef. We ended up in Green River but not until after a strong wind storm. Zion was so packed we couldn’t find parking at the visitor center so we just rode through the park, stopping at pull-outs to take in the scenery. Bryce was so cool, we need to go back and hike down into the canyon there. I really enjoyed the road through Grand Staircase as it weaved through the country side. When we got to Capitol Reef the visitor center was already closed and so we decided to pass on the scenic ride into the park and just cruise the main road. The road into the park isn’t going anywhere so we can come back to it next time. On exiting Capitol Reef we knew we had about one and a half hour ride from Hanksville to get to Green River. The weather was starting to get a bit grey, which was unusual for this time of year. By the time we got to HWY 70 we hit a very strong wind storm, Maggie was a bit concerned but I had confidence in the Road King so we rode through to the hotel.

On the fourth day we took a ride east on HWY 70 and got off on 128 which travels down the Colorado River toward Moab. This road starts out flat and prairie like but soon gets into some very deep red rock canyons, and soon we were seeing bicycles and campers along the river with raft trips getting started. Moab is a perpetual bicycle store, it seems to have one every other store front. Got some gas and drinks and headed to Arches. I didn’t realize how big these rock formations were until you see them up close. We went to ‘The Windows’ arches and then to ‘Delicate Arch’, which is the arch on the Utah license plate. On the roads we started to recognize the motorcycles we passed as it seemed everyone was going to the same places as we crossed Utah and Arizona.

We left Arches and headed toward Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands. What a spectacular view from these places. Dead Horse Point is set out on a small mesa and the vista was almost 270 degrees around the point. At Canyonlands you could see forever, canyons inside canyons. We ended the day at Monticello and it was laundry day. It was getting colder and the day before it snowed at Monticello so we knew the next day might be a bit wet.

When we left in the morning there was new snow on the mountains outside the hotel. The route was going to take us to Natural Bridges State Park and then down the Moki Dugway past Valley of the Gods but since it was raining we had to pass on the Dugway which is a gravel road down the canyon edge. We will save this for the next trip. We rode south on 191 and then turned up 261 to Gooseneck which is where the San Juan River does a serpentine path cutting deep gorges into the plateau and it is set out in front of you at the lookout. The weather was a bit cold and we had a few light showers so we continued down through Mexican Hat and stopped for a warm coffee and snack. When we got back on the road we started to see Monument Valley and the place where Forest Gump got tired of running and went home. We went into Monument Valley and to see these large monoliths, you get a humbling feeling of how small we really are. The cold and rain was starting to get us down so we started out to Kayenta. From there we went south on 160 to 98 and cut up to Page. All this land is Navajo reservation and we passed a coal mine where an automatic train loads and then travels to Page where the Navajo Power Plant is. It was told to me that they call it a ghost train because there is not one person aboard. The country was beautiful and the roads were very good. Page was warmer so we thawed out and relaxed when we got there.

The next morning we went out to see the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. This day was anticipated by Maggie and I since we were going to the Grand Canyon. We have backpacked the canyon twice from the south rim but we never had a chance to be at the north rim. The ride from Page took us to Marble Canyon and the Navajo Bridge where we saw a pair of condors there that made the area their home. Traveling on toward the Grand Canyon we started to climb into pine forests and stopped at Jacob Lake before heading into the National Park. After gas and lunch we started out to the park. The road travels through a black burned-out forest where a fire has been. Then we traveled through large meadows where deer were feeding and finally to the park entrance. It was different from the south rim as we were in a fairly dense forest and up at 8800 feet. When we arrived at the lodge we were able to see the canyon through large windows, it seemed as though they were paintings of the canyon. The lodge is built right on the edge of the rim, rooms here book up a year in advance. We spent some time walking out on the rim trail and absorbing the views, remembering the backpacking and spotting the places where we had been on those trips. We took a ride out to Cape Royal where we could see the Colorado River from the rim. After another restful time at the rim we had to continue back to Jacob Lake and on to Kanab.

Kanab is where I would recommend as a hub center for rides in these parts. From here you could take day rides and loop rides to many of the national parks and scenic areas.

The next morning we headed out toward Coral Pink Sand Dunes, which was told to be a ‘must see’ place. The roads in these areas are so nice and the landscapes are so different from our home area. When we came upon the dunes it seemed a bit different in color but not until we actually walked out on them did we realize the deep color of the sand. This day was going to take us up to Cedar Breaks area at 9900+ feet then down through Cedar City and out to Nevada and the Great Basin Highway up to Ely. Utah 14 took us up and over Cedar Breaks and through lava fields where the aspen trees grew in the middle of the flows. Then from Cedar City we headed out toward Nevada and the Great Basin Highway. Contrasting to the previous ride we now were in a very large valley with mountains on both sides. We gassed up at Pioche, another great small mining town, and the next gas was 110 mile up the road. We stopped half way where there were a few ranch buildings and horses running in the fields. As we progressed toward Ely we could see snowcapped mountains and long straight roads. Coming into Ely we heard the whistle of the steam train blowing far off. The train makes a run to the copper mines daily, the mines just re-opened and is now a working mine.

The next day was the survival of the ‘Loneliest Road in America’, highway 50. This is featured as a one page ad in HOG Tails and Enthusiast. We started at Ely where we got the guide stamped at the Train Station, then off to Eureka, Austin and Fallon. This is not the loneliest road, it is a great ride up and down over mountain passes and through valleys. We stopped at the Shoe Tree where you could find any make of shoe hanging from all the branches of the cottonwood tree. Along the way we passed Sand Mountain and it was packed with ATV’s and toy haulers parked tightly together… must be fun.

The last day we headed up to Fernley to get the last stamp and then back down to 50 over to Carson City Harley Davidson. After a stroll through the isles we continued our ride home through Markleeville and over Ebbetts pass and down to Murphy and Jamestown. After a nice food break in Jamestown it was smooth sailing across the valley and over Pacheco pass home.

What a ride and when can I go back!

Bruce and Maggie Smith

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2006 Instead of Sturgis Ride

This was a ride our HOG chapter did. Ride up into Oregon coast then over to the mountains and down through Lassen Volcano to the Feather River and home. It was 3 nights and 4 days of riding.

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2003 Ride Home!

Riding a Harley across the United States with your brother and sister (in law) … priceless!

This ride was such a great time it makes me want to do more rides with family and friends. The ride started in California – central coast area – and took about 3 weeks so we could enjoy the places we rode to each day and not have to push the ride to get across the states. We averages about 330 miles a day some shorter and some longer and we had an extra day in Jackson Hole, 2 days in Sturgis and 5 days in Milwaukee. The ride ended in Lockport, New York and we had a few days there to visit the family and friends.

My brother Ron and his wife Sandy shipped their Harley to San Francisco and then flew out a few days later. They arrived and went to Forward Air to pick up the bike and get it out of the crate and ready to ride. They had a couple days in California before Maggie and I were ready to make the trip. He had a chance to see a few of the local roads on the central coast including Monterey and some of the Big Sur coast line. Once we made it to Lockport Maggie and I packed up our bike and shipped it back to San Francisco. This trip was a one way trip east together.

The first day was across the central valley of California and over the Sierra Mountains on highway 4 – to highway 89 to Lake Tahoe and then highway 50 to Nevada ending up in Reno. The mountain passes were beautiful and the roads were in great condition. Ron had noticed his back brakes seemed a bit soft so he had the local dealership bleed the brakes before starting our second day on the road.

Day two was across Nevada on highway 80 stopping at places for gas food and just to take in the high desert views. We came into Wendover figuring we could get a place to stay and have some time to put our feet up and enjoy the evening. We weren’t aware that it was Bonneville Speed Week and almost every place was booked up. We did manage to get a couple rooms and noticed all the cars looked like they had snow on them. This of course was the sand/salt from the salt flats just outside of town.

The next morning, on day three, we rode into Utah and around Salt Lake then cutting north on highway 15 toward Brigham City where we got on highway 89. We rode up into Idaho by Bear Lake then through Montpelier and into Wyoming to Jackson. We had a few mile of road construction in Wyoming but the views were great and the stops along the way were fun. We think this section was where Ron picked up a stone in the drive belt. The next morning, day four, as we were leaving Ron’s drive belt broke. This was not expected but we had an extra day floating to decide when we wanted to spend it. Looks like it will be in Jackson Wyoming! The town was so nice and we were able to walk around and see street shows reenacting old western life. The evening was spent at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar where we met a large group of Harley riders from Denmark. Great people and we had memorable times together.

Ron’s bike was towed to a local motorcycle shop where they had a new drive belt shipped in overnight. The shop worked on his bike to get it ready to install the new belt as soon as it arrived. They were able to get him back on the road by noon the next day. We also ran into the Denmark Harley Club while waiting for his bike. They were touring around the USA and had 2 trucks with them, one to carry their luggage and the other was made up as a shop to maintain their bikes. They were camping so the truck had all the tents and gear.

On day five we left from the shop and road north on 26 heading out to Grand Tetons. The clouds started to come in and we felt a few drops so decided to put on the rain gear before we got wet. As it goes, the rain always stops when you put on the gear. We continued to ride north into Yellowstone passing West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake and stopped at the visitor’s center where old faithful is. We missed the eruption and decided not to wait and continue around the park stopping at places that interested us. We saw our first buffalo and yes they are large animals, also saw elks bugling and sparring. That evening we stayed in Gardiner Montana just outside the northwest corner of the park.

Day six was our longest distance day which was about 420 miles. We left Gardiner and road back into Yellowstone and then east to go over Bear Tooth Pass at 10,947 feet. It was exciting to have a heard of bison cross the highway in front of us. Once we stopped we were looking at ways we could turn and ride if the bison decided they didn’t like our pipes. They passed over the road and we continued up to the pass. It was really cold up there so we took a few pictures and road down to Red Lodge Montana. Stopped there for lunch and gas and then got to highway 90 east. We stopped at gas stations to cool off along the way as the temps were very high that day. We got to Spearfish South Dakota and checked in to our hotel, cleaned up and then road in to Sturgis for some night life with the rest of the pack riders going to Milwaukee. This is where we met up with the northern route of the Ride Home. We spent an extra day in Sturgis and the Black Hills riding around and visiting at the Broken Spoke Saloon.

On day eight we road east through the prairies, again stopping when we wanted and visiting dealerships. We bumped into many riders from all over North America. Such a great country filled with good bikers. We crossed the Missouri River and that day ended in Sioux Falls at another dealership party. Lots of corn fields in this part of the ride.

We started our ninth day riding with more bikes on the road. You get the feeling that everyone is riding with you. We stayed in Wynona Minnesota and we had Ron do a walk in to the ER and have his leg looked at. He needed some antibiotics and better circulation to his leg.

After getting things loaded up on the tenth day we were back on the road riding to Milwaukee with the millions of bikes meeting in Madison and riding into Milwaukee – all day long! The highway was filled as far as you can see in front and behind with Harleys. Wow! Locals were lined up on the over passes and along the sides where they can get a look at the parade of bikes. They were giving us their warm welcome waves and excited to hear the rumble of all those Harleys.

Then next five days were spent enjoying the 100th anniversary of Harley Davidson and the 20th HOG anniversary. Many bands played and demo rides and it seemed like the whole town was having bike events. We met up with members of the Niagara Falls HOG and I was trying to meet some of Santa Cruz HOG members that made it to the 100th. Many bands played and the big birthday party had Tim McGraw, Kid Rock and the Doobie Brothers but when Elton John came on for the finale many of the bikers left.  Elton John even admitted he never wrote a biker song. He is a good artist but for the HD 100th you would have expected a different headliner. Dan Aykroyd served as emcee of the event.

On Monday September 1st we started out of Milwaukee and heading for New York. That day was our rain day. We started down the 94 when the first drops showed up on the windscreen. Like many other riders, we pulled over under an overpass to put on the rain gear in hopes that it would stop the rain. This time it didn’t work as it just kept raining all day. By the time we got to Ohio we did a stop to dump the water out of our boots. When we were ready to continue to our trek to Toledo my bike had so much water that it didn’t start. So glad to call Harley and get a tow to the dealership and the hotel we stayed at was right next door.

The next morning I was going to have the dealership look at the problem but the bike started up and was running fine. So it was back on the road heading to Lockport New York to finish the ride at Ron and Sandy’s home. We had a few stops along the way but were happy to end the day in their back yard.

What a great ride that was!

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