Sunday, March 31, 2013

Prelude to Alaska - Spring Break: Day 2

Got a late start to the day's riding, I left Durango and the motel at 8:45 AM, after the X5 group had already departed some time earlier!  I kept re-arranging things in the sidecar from its being unloaded last night, and couldn't quite get the arrangement to my satisfaction!

The side driving light on the hack is also out, and while troubleshooting it this morning, realized the multimeter I carry with my tools wasn't working right.  Sigh.  It'll have to wait till tomorrow when I can purchase another meter and a soldering iron.

I hit the road and was to stay on US160 westbound most of the day.  The major spots along the way were Four Corners (which I skipped), Kayenta, Tuba City and finally Flagstaff, Arizona.  There were some interesting rock formations along the way but for the most part it was dull slab riding through desert country.

Just west of the town of Mancos, CO, the big arrows attract a driver's 
eye to the Hogan Trading Post.
The above is near the entrance to the Mesa Verde Park

 At the junction where US160 turns West and US491 continues South
there was this interesting rock formation visible from the highway.
Naturally I turned off and got a bit closer to it.
I found what appears to be an old jail ... curious.

 The above Mesa brought back memories of my first overnight road trip
on a motorcycle back in October of 2007,  this same rock formation got me published for the first
time on the BMW Owners Association Magazine: LINK 

 Just to the East of Kayenta which is the gateway town to Monument Valley
is this group of strange looking rock formations.  To me they looked like
tight queues of people exiting the main rock formation.

Church Rock, to the west of Kayenta on US160.

From this point on, it was straightforward riding into strong headwinds and rolling desert terrain.  I was truly the slowest vehicle on the road due to the headwinds.  Still,  I was doing pretty good apparently, as the ladies and my sons didn't catch up to me until after I had transited through Tuba City, AZ!  

I got to the rental place about 30 minutes after they did, quite a nice vacation rental place if I do say so myself.  We'll use this as a base for the next four days to explore the area around Flagstaff.  

I covered 494 kilometers today in 7 hours of riding and shooting photos, for a total on the odometer of 21,974.  It'll be soon time to do Valencia's 22500 Km service.  Valencia once again did great, nothing fell off the sidecar but Murph is right, I need to get better straps.  My father-in-law comes to join us tomorrow and we'll come up with a plan by then I am sure.

Today's travels: LINK

Previously: Prelude to Alaska - Spring Break: Day 1

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Prelude to Alaska: Spring Break - Day 1: Durango and the San Juan Skyway


Before I start in earnest on my trip to Alaska, I get to spend a week with my wife and sons visiting with my Father-in-Law, Richard in Flagstaff, AZ.  Richard snowbirds in Phoenix which is less than two hours from Flagstaff and this will allow us to visit the Grand Canyon National Park and the Meteor Crater Park as well.

A picture of Valencia's odometer at the start of the trip
(it's in Kilometers)

We all left at around 7:20 AM, my family and Patrick's GodMother Terry K riding in the BMW X5 Suburban Assault Vehicle and I on Valencia, my 2011 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig.

Martha and company stopped for a quick breakfast pickup at the Golden Arches and still they caught up with me west of Pine Junction and then swiftly left me in the dust.

They were taking the southern route via US160 while I chose to take US285 to its intersection with US50 which takes one past Gunnison and ends up at a junction with US550 at Montrose.  US550 is the Million Dollar Highway, one of my favorite rides.

Mountain view west of Fairplay, CO on US285

 The view one sees as one approaches Buena Vista, the mountains
are part of the Collegiate Peaks.

 The Dillon Peaks near Gunnison, CO

 Closeup of a mountain peak visible south of Montrose, CO

 Grand Turk and Sultan Mountains along US550
This is at the parking lot on Molas Pass Summit

Mountain peaks visible as one descends on US550
heading towards Silverton, CO

Due to a combination of bad lighting and a dearth of safe spots to park Valencia, no shots of the "cool" portion of the million dollar highway came out.  The video I shot remains to be edited later on, I'll add it to this posting and let anyone who subscribes to the post know when its online, if anything turns out.

I got to Durango around 5:40 PM, about nine hours of actual riding time, the rest of the 10.5 hrs taken up with photo ops and filming the ride up and down a section of the Million Dollar Highway.   Martha et al only took about seven hours to get to the motel we're staying at in town.  

After unloading the rig (I'm going to have to figure out a way to lock some of the stuff in the tub's passenger compartment); us adults left the boys in the motel and went downtown for dinner.  We went to the historic Strater Hotel and dined at the Diamond Belle Saloon which is part of the hotel.

Tired, slow internet at the motel, full of good food.  Road 573 KM today or almost 344 miles for you non-metric types.  Valencia did great!  A good start for the prelude portion of the Alaska Trip.  Tomorrow we go to Arizona!

Here's a link to today's trip on  LINK

Previously: Alaska Load Out Test

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Alaska Load Out Test

Back in the day, when the Soviets and NATO stared at each other across the IGB or Inter-German Border; I was a young officer in an American Field Artillery MLRS Battery attached to the 1st Armored Division of the US Army..

We faced, I dimly recall, the 14th Guards Army stationed on the east side of the IGB.  The running gallows humor in the division was that we were the First Armored, or First Tank, and also: First to get rolled over by the Soviets as they charged through the Fulda Gap (wiping out the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment) and into West Germany.  Interesting times to say the least.

Anyway, with that as the historical background, we'd practice fast deployments to our GDP or General Deployment Positions.  These were pre-selected field positions where we'd deploy as war warnings were sent out by SACEUR (Supreme Allied Commander, Europe).  The idea being, we'd not get caught in garrison and easy targets.

Part of the fast deployment was doing fast load outs with all assigned gear and vehicles, hence the title of this post.

Today, as a remnant of that training, I tested out packing out my 2011 URAL Patrol with all the gear I plan to take with me on the long road to Alaska.

 The yellow waterproof bag contains my sleeping bag, the rubber ground cloth on top
and the foam kneepad for my old knees when working on the motorcycle.  Note
the shovel secured to the cargo rack on the hack, along with two new tires.
The Tailbag contains, camera gear, gloves, hats.

 All the above fits inside the tub, with cover in place:
1. chains, 2. camp supplies, 3. Fuel Cans, 4. Cooking gear
5. maasdam rope puller gear,  6. tripod, 7. tent, 8. heated vest
9. camp chair, 10. cold weather boots, 11. Lysol, 12. campstove, 13. sandals, 
14. Ural Spares and 15. bungie cord bag.

 A view of the five gallon spare gas can I am carrying in addition
to the Kolpin 1.5 gallon can on the left side of the tub.

 On the pillion seat: Sleeping bag in yellow waterproof bag.  
Rubber poncho to serve as ground cloth.

Nice weather helmet and the Nikon Camera Bag.

All that is missing (besides sundry small items) is a smaller yellow waterproof bag which will contain my clothes; it too will fit inside the tub with the cover in place.  Oh, and my sleeping mats which I will lash to the front of the spare tires.

I am quite happy everything fit with no hassles to speak off.  I was able to unload the rig in less than ten minutes and to load it takes about the same amount of time.  I went for a short ride to the bank to test the rigging and nothing fell off!  

Here's a link to the current packing list: LINK

Previously: Spring Snow Storm

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Snow Storm

The weather guessers really got it wrong with the present snow storm that's hitting Colorado.  The predictions had been for "no accumulation" for the Denver Metro Area.  I am here to tell you, we got accumulation!  We're in the SE portion of the metro area and we got a good six to seven inches of snow in my neighborhood.

Went out twice with the snow blower and by later afternoon, the snow fall had abated to just light snow mist.

Chores done, I went out for a short ride on Valencia to check out road conditions.  Predictably, the roads were snow-covered in the neighborhood, with good accumulations on the road sides.  The main roads were no better, with about an inch of snow covering them as well and very slick!

I tried to keep Valencia in 1WD, and managed to do that for most of the ride.  Towards the end of the ride, I got tired of the back end trying to fishtail on me and engaged 2WD, things were much easier after that.

I went by the auto parts store to get engine oil for Martha's car, prepping it for our upcoming week in Arizona, visiting with her Dad and seeing the nearby sites such as the Grand Canyon and perhaps the Big Crater.

I love snowy weather.  :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spring-like Conditions

Very warm here in the great State of Colorado today, highs in the low 70's and it's not even Spring yet!

Here's some photos I took today and yesterday.  Hope you like them.

 Today's dawn, after I dropped off my son at school

 Yesterday's short test ride to test viability of the bike panniers above.
They'll help with "ready access" stuff during the trip to Alaska.

 Lunchtime Ride along Jewell Avenue

Mount Evans and Brigitta

Previously: Going on a Ride-About

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Going on a Ride-About

Hi Folks, my present contracting gig is ending really soon, end of March at the latest; so I'll be doing some long distance riding with the "free time" I will have.  An extended kitchen pass has been approved my the ever loving and enabling Martha.

The idea is to take a month or two or three off (more if I can't find the right gig) and get some motorcycling miles under my belt, outside of Colorado!

Nothing really specific so far, except for the first week of April which is Spring Break for the kids. I'll be with the family in Flagstaff, AZ spending time with my father-in-law and seeing the surrounding sights:  The Grand Canyon, Route 66, Sedona destinations come to mind readily.  I will, of course, ride there.

After that, the plan is a bit more vague, perhaps head west to California and ride the Pacific Highway to the San Francisco Bay Area and go see my folks in Marin County.

Then, perhaps continue north along the west coast, see what there is to see and do, visit with fellow moto-bloggers if schedules coincide/permit.  The plan is to camp whenever possible to stretch the budget allocated for this "ride".

There are some planned activities in Moab during the last week of April so that might preclude my going north until early May.  I've not made decisions yet on that, so more to follow.

The above should use up April, at which point, the general idea is to head north from wherever I happen to be near the beginning of May, through Canada to Fairbanks, AK and points north during May when road conditions might not be so death-defying while riding Valencia, my 2011 URAL Patrol.  The idea is to avoid going to Alaska during the annual lemming-like migration by dualsports and such in June/July.

So, I seek input from you, gentle readers and fellow moto-bloggers of sights to see and roads to ride along this general route.  You know, stuff I "shouldn't miss" if at all possible.  I know it's kind of vague, but that's the idea.

I plan to not really plan, but to listen to where Valencia tells me to go, using of course y'all's input for the areas you're familiar with in your home states.  This is Martha's gift to me, what a wife huh?

Previously: Snowy Uraling at Red Rocks Park

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Snowy Uraling at Red Rocks Park

After a dissapointing winter snow storm yesterday, Mother Nature made it up to us Uralisti here in Colorado by giving us a warm sunny day today.

I rode out in brisk temperatures, about 17°F or so, shortly before 8:15 AM from my house, and took city streets to cross westward through the Denver Metro Area for the town of Morrison, CO.  The rendezvous point was the Red Rocks Grill in Morrison, and I was meeting up with Deana, Jay and Tim L, along with their respective URAL sidecar rigs.

The cold was just starting to seep in past my warming layers when I arrived at Morrison, I dismounted and as I removed my helmet, saw Deana and Jay arrive right behind on their '07 Patrol.  I walked in while Deana and Jay de-geared and found Tim sipping hot tea at one of the larger tables in the back of the diner.

Breakfast was a leisurely affair, Tim had grabbed the biggest table and so there was plenty of room to stretch out and hang our riding jackets and such.  Deana, in the course of conversation, mentioned to us that they'd failed to get her a Mimosa yesterday when they'd been at another place for brunch.  She would be making up for that failure today, for she readily ordered the "large" Mimosa when asked by our waitress:

Now that, is the largest Mimosa any of us had ever seen.....

I am happy to report, that Deana got about $11 dollars worth of the $12 drink, though there would be consequences later.

We all gathered outside for the ritual pictures, but due to some white balance issues on Jay's camera, I had to resort to making it a 1960's B&W picture for clarity:

Striking a heroic pose, the fearless Uralisti prepare to ride....

Tim had to leave us at this point though as he and his family were going to go see the Colorado Rapids (Soccer Team) play today.  That left Jay and Deana's Rig and my rig Valencia to challenge the snowy parking lots of Red Rocks Park.

 Yours truly going through the tunnel that leads down to the main part of
Red Rocks Park from the North Parking Lot
photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

Video courtesy of Deana and Jay

 photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

Valley View
 photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

 photo courtesy of Jay and Deana

 Jay and Deana negotiate the North Parking Lot

 You can see the snow was not too deep, perhaps 12 inches 
in the areas where it had built up due to other vehicles 
having tried their luck in the snow

 Some sedate, scenic shots to show it wasn't all just
hooliganism in the parking lots on our part.

A last shot of the rigs together before Deana and Jay 
went back towards their home.

You remember that picture of Deana and her "large" Mimosa?  Well, the full effects of that drink, the bright Colorado sun and the fact that temperatures had soared into the mid-30s had the predicted effect on Deana.

Hey, why is Deana's head leaned over so far to the right?


Deana did wake up as Jay started their rig's engine, and they both waved cheery goodbyes as they left Red Rocks.  Finding ourselves alone, Valencia and I motored over to the area near Ship's Rock and got this shot:

 Ship's Rock

A parting view of Creation Valley

It was not late in the day as I exited Red Rocks myself, so Valencia and I turned right at the exit and proceeded to look for canyon sights along Bear Creek Canyon Road.  Not sure why, but there was very little traffic heading into the mountains and a ton of it heading towards the city!

 Sights along Bear Creek Canyon Road

As you can see, a brilliantly sunny and beautiful day here in the Great State of Colorado.  The company of good friends at brunch, fun riding in snowy conditions afterwards and warmish temperatures to comfort one on the way home.....

Here's a couple of videos, one from Deana and Jay and one from get to see both sides of the same time sequence!

Video courtesy of Deana and Jay

Here's hoping you got a ride in today!

Previously: A Dissapointing Winter Storm Ride

Saturday, March 09, 2013

A Dissapointing Winter Storm

You would think, after all these years of listening to the weather guessers over-hype incoming winter storms, that I would have been able to hold down my expectations for the current one.

But no, my heart danced at the thought of the promised 8-10 inches of snow for the "urban corridor", which is basically the Denver Metro Area.  There was even forecasts for the eastern part of the area getting more snow than the foothills!

We woke however to slightly wet streets and a few flakes of snow starting to fall only after 7:00 AM.  Sure, the snow kept falling lightly all morning but accumulation in my neighborhood was less than two inches, at best.

By late morning, the snow finally started sticking to the neighborhood streets though I could the main roads were just slushy and wet.  Snow plows were out on the main roads, doing their usual good job, and basically the only hazards were points where snow was being blown onto the road from the fields.

I rode out after lunch, with not much in terms of snow expectations, and found not even that.  It was basically like riding in a freezing rain for the most part.  There was quite the strong winds coming at me from the North where the storm was blowing in from but even that was pretty much inconsequential.

Don't get me wrong, on two wheels, it would have been quite dangerous out there but in a Ural Sidecar Rig, not so much.

I went North towards Smith Road by way of Powhaton Road, visibility was less than 500 meters or so.  This I judged as I could see two power line towers only at a time, and it was about 200-250 meters in between said towers.  The rest was blowing snow, almost whiteout conditions.

Near Smith Road , a side road with Valencia facing North

It was kind of spooky how quiet things got when one had the howling winds at one's back, almost tranquil.

I retraced my steps back towards Powhaton Road which I took back to Jewell Avenue.  Valencia and I headed a little bit towards the east so we could get a shot of the trees we could dimly see in the distance from Powhaton Road.

Facing West on Jewell Avenue, east of Gun Club Road

I took Gun Club Road back towards my home neighborhoods, gassed up at my local gas station and made my way home by way of neighborhood roads.  These roads were snow-packed and slushy as well but again, not much of a challenge when accumulations rarely topped three inches.

Valencia and I got home with no incident, both of covered in icy slush with a slight powdering of snow.  Hopefully there was more accumulation of snow towards Morrison, Colorado as that's the meeting point tomorrow for a few Uralisti to go ride in Red Rocks Park after brunch.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Vicissitudes of Life as a Uralista

Vicissitude: a difficulty or hardship attendant on a way of life, a career, or a course of action and usually beyond one's control. 

Big word, and it touches upon a facet of life of a motorcyclist, with special emphasis on that rare breed of rider who hold in contempt and glee the riding conditions which cause others to remain at home. That breed of rider who eschews computerized controls/sensors on their motorcycle and instead embrace the KISS principle when it comes to their ride. Keep It Simple, Stupid. 

So, where am I going with all this you ask? Part of the Vicissitude of life as a dedicated Uralista is that you accept you must deal with mechanical issues on what seems to be a more frequent basis that riders of other marques.

 Take for example, yours truly. On the return portion of my ride this past Sunday, where I and fellow Uralisti had ridden into the snow-capped mountains and roads of Berthoud Pass on purpose and with impunity; my rig Valencia had developed some idling issues!

 She wouldn't hold idle at stops, rather troubling,  and I had to make like your stereotypical Harley riders and constantly blip the throttle while stopped to keep the engine alive. Still, she got me home and after a brief examination I thought I found the issue.

 I'd somehow knocked loosed the air tube going into the left carburetor, probably while "hanging a cheek" on the tight right hand turns.  Turns which were done with elan I might add, as we rode on Bear Creek Canyon Road. As I placed my body weight to starboard by "hanging my right cheek", I must have repeatedly hit the tube with my left foot causing it to dislodge after a bit. I found it loose, and just barely contacting the opening for the carburetor. No trouble, I reconnected the tube and re-tightened the hose clamp and called it a day.

The motorcycling gods were not done with me yet though, sports fans.

The next day, it was lightly snowing so I rode out to do a "test drive" to ensure my repairs from the night before were all that was needed. Valencia seemed to run fine but still a bit loud and there was some hesitation when rolling on the throttle from a stop. Hmmmm.

I parked her in a safe spot, and with the winds howling and the snow blowing horizontally from the north, I checked things out.  (OK, it was just light snow, no winds to speak of and the roads were just wet)

The idle was low but steady, at 660 RPM, too low as the manual calls for 900 RPM. Puzzled, I slowly adjusted both carburetor idle screws till things were steady at 900 RPM and drove her home. She still didn't feel quite right.

A brief email exchange with a couple of fellow Uralisti later, it was suggested to check my carburetor compliance fittings for cracks. I knew of this common issue but had not done this check before emailing thinking that my motorcycle was only two years old! Alas, I should have checked.

 The left side carburetor's compliance fitting had a big old crack! The function of the compliance fitting is to ensure a smooth seal between the leading edge of the carburetor and the engine's jug. Compliance Fitting, funny name isn't it? Makes me think of some Russian Commissar, inflicting his will upon poor soviet troops to comply with the dictates of the party.

 Compliance fitting with rather large horizontal crack

Well no wonder her idle was all over the place huh?  I carry a spare compliance fitting, as an experienced Uralista tends to do, so in a couple of minutes I had it swapped out and tightened done.  The right hand side carburetor's compliance fitting was fine.

Today, during lunch, went out again for a test ride though the weather was clear and sunny with temperatures soaring into the low 40s.  Not quite the challenges of yesterday.  Valencia rode as great as ever, good throttle response from a stop, good power, good sound.  The motorcycling gods were once again smiling upon me.

Once again a happy Uralista, I've ordered another replacement fitting to carry as spare for when the right side fitting fails me and am exploring the option of upgraded fittings made by Mikumi.  Also found out, Ural now puts thin gaskets between the fitting and the jug, to deflect some of the heat from the jug and hopefully extend the life of the rubber fitting; some of those are now on order as well.

Vicissitude, compliance fittings, eschew and can count on this blog for ways to expand/enrich your vocabulary!

8MAR13: update: ended up buying two Mikuni compliance fittings, better quality than the KOK Taiwanese ones that URAL is using.  Found the old right side carb fitting cracked on the inside, so its failure was just a matter of time.  For some reason, my rig didn't come from the factory with gaskets to help insulate them from the heat of the jug!  Got some, now they're there with the Mikunis.

Previously: Book Review: France in America

Monday, March 04, 2013

Book Review: France in America

Shortly after the start of February 2013, I received a mysterious brown package from an address in Washington state.  I quickly opened it up and it was indeed Gary France's beautifully made book on his travels through our United States on his Harley Davidson motorcycle: The Leading Ladies.

Some of the beautiful artwork on Gary's Harley Davidson Motorcycle

Click the link to see my posting on riding with Gary to the top of Mount Evans: LINK

The books is superbly crafted, replete with great photographs and smooth flowing narrative that takes the reader along for the ride as Gary explores his way across the country.  The format is along the lines of a coffee table book so it would be a great addition to any motorcycle rider's collection, especially riders who actually ride the long miles and have that urge to see what's at the other end of a distant valley or mountain range.

The book is a great source for a British moto-blogger's perspective on the sights and people he saw while traveling through this country of ours.  I found it very interesting to see how Gary saw things through the filters of his upbringing and culture.  It was also very entertaining!

Martha and I were privileged to host Gary for a day or so when he was touring Colorado.  He's a jovial, refined and self-effacing British rider who was living out a lifelong dream, so glad we were a small part of it.

If you love well-written travelogues, this book is for you.  Thanks for the book Gary, I look forward to riding with you once again some day.  Anytime you're in Colorado.....there's a spot for you at our home; and bring Jackie along this time!  :)

Link to where you can buy the book: LINK

Here's a video from Gary.
It's the best way to get a good background on the whys and
wherefores that brought about this book:

Previously: One Year Anniversary Ride with Valencia and Uralisti

Sunday, March 03, 2013

One Year Anniversary Ride with Valencia and Uralisti

Today is the first year anniversary of my having bought Valencia, my 2011 Ural Patrol Sidecar Rig from Unique Rides of Fort Collins, Colorado.

20,467 Kilometers is what has accumulated on her odometer since March 3 of 2012, almost 300 of which was racked up in today's riding with three other fellow Uralisti and their trusty three-wheeled steeds.

We all met at the Conoco gas station outside of Morrison, CO.  Joining me for the ride today were Darrell and his wife Piper, Roy N. and Mapperjay, aka Jay B.  Deana, Jay's wife was under the weather with a cold so she stayed home this time.

The four rigs headed north from Morrison along CO93 towards the junction with US40.   We took US40, now a two lane road which parallels the hectic traffic of the I-70 Super Slab, into the mountains.  We were able to use frontage roads for the most part all the way to the the vicinity of Empire, CO where US40 turns north while I-70 continues westward to the Continental Divide.

We started climbing in earnest once we left Empire behind, slowly making our way on pavement made wet by melting snows.  Soon we were rapidly gaining altitude as we climbed to the summit of Berthoud Pass where we would be crossing the Continental Divide for today.

 The view of US40 and the peaks visible from the summit parking lot
of Berthoud Pass.

 Darrell and I both need to work on our "heroic pose" for the group pictures.
Check out Jay (second from the left) for correct posture.

 The rigs, waiting for us to finish with our photo antics
photo courtesy of Jay

Now, is that a happy looking group of Uralisti or what?
From left to right:
Roy, Jay, Darrell, Piper and yours truly

We proceeded north on US40, heading towards the Winter Park Ski Resort area, with the goal of trying to find and ride on the Rollins Pass Road/Corona Pass Road to see how far we could get.  I lagged behind the group to take the following shot of the mountain range one can admire while driving towards Winter Park.

Looking northward along US40, to the west of Berthoud Pass

I caught up with the rest of the Uralisti shortly after they arrived at the Safeway Market in the small town of Fraser, just north of the city limits of Winter Park.  Coffee and snacks were had and we managed to get UDF'ed by a lady from Lithuania and a gentleman from the Czech Republic while getting the coffee!

I had the sad duty to inform the rest of the Uralisti that I'd spotted a large snow mound blocking the entrance to Corona Pass Road and that it looked pretty steep and deep with snow.  Alternate plans were discussed over coffee and we decided to try and find the western portal of the Moffat Railroad Tunnel.

Heading back towards Winter Park, I failed miserably in locating the western portal of the Moffat tunnel.  I really was batting zero today, first the road up to Rollins Pass being blocked and snow-choked, and failing to easily find the tunnel entrance!  I'd last found the portal back in January of 2010 and here's a picture as proof:

Western Portal of Moffat Railroad Tunnel

We retraced our route back towards Berthoud Pass and after crossing the Continental Divide once again, descended sedately down towards the turnoff for Jones Pass.  The thinking was, to see if it was doable in terms of riding on it with our sidecar rigs.  As we neared the parking lot for the Jones Pass Trailhead, I began to have serious doubts as all I saw was snowmobiles being used.

After some dithering, Darrell decided to take a shot at surmounting the snow mound that was blocking the way into the entrance to Jones Pass Road.  He managed to get over it just fine....but then he found some really soft snow......

The snow was deep enough, that once the rig's exhaust pipes contacted the snow, the rig pretty much became high-centered and lost traction and forward momentum.  As you saw, Darrell tried 2WD and backing up but there just wasn't any traction.

 Darrell and Jay survey the sunken rig....

Doesn't look too bad from this angle does it?
photo courtesy of Jay

While Piper took pictures, the rest of us help Darrell get unstuck and turned around so he could get a running start at the snow mound:

photo courtesy of Piper

Once Darrell's rig was safely back in the parking lot, we again discussed options and decided to head back towards Idaho Spring, tank up, and then try to find the Little Bear Creek road which appeared to lead towards Squaw Pass Road on Jay's map.

A colorful mountain peak visible from the Jones Pass Trailhead.
Doesn't that straight line look kind of like a road carved on the face of the peak?

We made it to Idaho Springs, once again using frontage roads, and watching with some amusement the stop and go traffic on the nearby I-70 Super Slab, eastbound towards Denver.  I'd not seen it that choked with apres-ski traffic in quite some time.

As we were gassing up, Darrell and Piper were surprised by fellow Uralisti Steffen and his wife Jody at the gas station they chose to use!  What are the odds right?

To us on the other gas station, it didn't dawn on us till a bit later who the couple
was that was seemingly UDF'ing Darrell and Piper.

Jody and Steffen finished chatting with Darrel and Piper and got into their Dodge Truck, swinging by our position across the street, everyone smiling at each other.

Jay then led us through the town of Idaho Springs, just for a few blocks and we turned onto Soda Creek Road which took us under the I-70 Super Slab (still choked with traffic).  Soda Springs Road took us to Little Bear Creek Road, and we took this semi-smooth dirt road into the mountains once again.  There were several hair pin turns to be negotiated, some of them slick with mud from the melting snows on the side of the road!

No problems though and we stopped at a couple of points to rest and relax a bit on the way up.

Soon enough, we made it all the way up to Squaw Pass Road, a.k.a. CO103, the road that takes one to the Mount Evans Highway.  Jay continued to lead and we rode east towards Witter Gulch Road.  This road allowed us to descend, sometimes quite steeply on tight hairpins, towards the valley through which Upper Bear Creek runs.

At the end of Witter Gulch Road, I took up the lead once again and we rode towards the town of Evergreen.  We motored on past this busy tourist town and used CO74 to go through the twists and turns  of the high rocky walls of the canyon formed by Bear Creek all the way back to Morrison.

I led the group to a parking spot alongside the road.  After saying our goodbyes, Darrell and Piper took off first to go home, the rest of us were removing layers as it was 60°F in town!  I heard a car's horn being sounded repeatedly and saw a black truck make an abrupt U-turn in the narrow street leading into Morrison.  The driver parked near us and I recognized the driver!  It was Michael L, the guy I'd bought Vikkie, my 2004 V-Strom from!

He came over, introduced himself to Jay and Roy and we chatted for a bit while his daughter played at the edge of the nearby stream.  Soon enough though, it was time for us to go and we said our goodbyes once again.  Jay and Roy took off southbound on the C-470 Slab and I continued on Morrison Road towards Kipling which I would then take towards Hampden Road.

A bit after 4:00 PM, and I was home safe and sound.  Valencia was behaving as if her air filter was choked with dust, having a bit of trouble holding idle, so I'll have to check that out tomorrow.  Too tired today.  Still, she did great throughout the day as did seemingly everyone's rig.  A good day's worth of riding on this anniversary day.

Previously: The Arch and the Reservoir