What TAT ride report would be complete without a picture like this…….
The official diagnosis is a displaced fracture on the tibia, Jon has a broken leg……..
Of course we didn’t know that as we prepared our bikes for the last day riding the TAT. The forecast was for a beautiful northwest day, sunny and mild temperatures near 70. To make the day even more perfect the three of us unloaded most of our luggage into the trailer so we could ride the last day with lightweight motorcycles.
Did we really carry this much stuff?
We rode back to the small town of Tiller so we could pick up the TAT trail where we left off. We were extremely proud that except for trying to follow the track onto a road that didn’t exist we had managed to ride nearly every inch of Sam’s tracks. We learned many of the riders we met use Sam’s tracks as a guideline but pick and choose their route. We considered doing that but decided that wouldn’t be riding the TAT, just traversing the country on some mostly dirt roads. It was the official TAT for us.
A short way out of Tiller we came across this guy.
The road was closed due to a forest fire. He was really nice, even posing for a picture but firm that we weren’t allowed down NF3201. He even got out a map and helped us plot an alternate route. The route chopped off about 6 miles from the TAT, acceptable considering how far we had gone without a detour.
The roads and riding were fantastic, we were enjoying the lightened bikes and beautiful weather. At one point the track took a turn and suddenly we were going up a steep rocky slope.
Pictures just never show how steep these sections can be. Notice Weston standing in the trail? Look close, is that Jon to the right of him?
Technically I wouldn’t call this a crash, he was literally bouncing up the hill when a rock sent him into the brush. He didn’t tip.
I stopped on the steep slope below, it was so steep my brakes wouldn’t hold the bike, the locked wheels started skidding backwards. Yikes, I managed to turn the bike sideways in the “road” to stop the slide but I couldn’t get off the bike to help Jon. I took this picture behind me to show where we had come up and almost slid back down.
Fortunately Weston had a stopping point and was able to help Jon pull his bike out.
The rest of the ride was rather uneventful and quite enjoyable, I really want to come back and ride this section again since it’s so close to home. Here is a picture from a scenic part in the road.
It felt great being back riding in the tall trees of the Pacific Northwest.
At one point we stopped to inspect Jon’s rear tire, the knobs were literally breaking off. I guess we got our moneys worth out of this one.
After 217 miles we arrived at our destination for the day, Port Orford, OR on the Pacific Ocean. Someone had this great idea that we should all jump for this picture. Broken leg and all. Woohoo!
We were especially thankful to Deby, Uncle Richard and his brother Johnny for coming to get us.
So, we did it. By my records we travelled 5,582 miles in 5 weeks and a couple of days. We camped every night except the last two and two nights for a “break” with the girls in Salida, CO. That is a lot of camping.
Jon came back from the doctor today and they told him to wear this boot until he can see a specialist.
I dunno… looks like a motocross boot to me.
Pretty happy to be home.
Spent the day power washing the gear. Some of it may be salvageable.
Thanks again to everyone who encouraged us along the way through comments here, Facebook messages, Weston’s instigram and all the e-mails. We limped into Port Orford literally and figuratively but we made it. I’m sure this is a trip we will all remember for many years. Jon, thanks for having the dream and talking your aging dad and busy brother into doing it with you. Get well soon (and happy birthday).
Yes, we made it home but not without more adventure…. I suppose that’s why they call it Adventure Riding. I’ll try to catch up on the last three days of our journey.
We were packing up at the warm, hot springs campground when another TAT rider on a Husqvarna motorcycle pulled in. His name was Garett from Indiana and asked if he could ride with us for a while, no problem.
Looking forward to getting through the last of Nevada we finished the last of our morning oatmeal and were riding by 9:30. It wasn’t long before we came to a rather large water crossing.
We sent Weston on foot to scout the water depth and pick a path. He thought it was passable but this was the swampiest, smelliest, deepest and longest water crossing of the trip. I looked for a go around but nothing presented itself.
Weston, being the youngest and least injured volunteered to go first. I recorded a short video….
Weston really did take the deepest route and got thoroughly soaked.
Onward we rode trying to get out of Nevada. The riding was better even though the weather was cool and wet. I was enjoying the ride but worried about not having enough gas to get to Fort Bidwell, NV. Sure enough the “mighty 250 that could” started sputtering within sight of town and I was stranded on the side of the road. I was hoping for gas in Fort Bidwell so Weston stayed with me and Jon and Garett rode the last few miles into town to search for gas. I should have known that indeed, there is no gas station in Fort Bidwell. There is really nothing of anything there…. except by some stroke of luck we found this….
A club of old cars was parked in town having a lunch stop and impromptu car show! This guy here saved the day…. look what he had!
Ha, I couldn’t believe it. We each took a gallon and profusely thanked our benefactors. I tried but they wouldn’t accept any payment for saving us from being stranded. These guys were excited to here our story and glad to help.
Tempted to just say thanks and ride off I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I had to look around at the cars, I had never seen so many rare automobiles in one location, I asked and they said there were about 50 cars, most of them nearly 100 years old. Amazing.
You just don’t see this every day…. mostly never!
I asked how on earth did they end up at a nowhere place like Fort Bidwell, NV and they explained that they purposely look for very deserted roads and isolated places to visit with these vehicles to avoid traffic. What an amazing stop.
We were told that the nearest gas station was in Cedarville, 20 miles to the south. I considered trying to make the jump over the mountains in the Fremont National Forest to Lakeview which was 40+ miles but heard there was a restaurant in Cedarville and we hadn’t eaten since our oatmeal breakfast so south we went. Garett wasn’t interested in a 40 mile detour so he headed north. We saw his motorcycle later that evening parked in front of a hotel in Lakeview while we were looking for a campground in the rain. I could imagine him taking a hot shower or having a cool beer at the local bar. We never did see him again.
In Cedarville we got gas in the rain and found the only restaurant in town, the Country Hearth run by Janet Irene. We arrived soaked, dangerously cold, tired and hungry. It was nearly 3:00 so we were the only patrons. Janet, a grandmotherly looking person served us warily at first but eventually warmed up to us as we told her our story. She recommended camping at the local fairgrounds only a few blocks away. And then made it more tempting by letting us know she was open until 9:00 and would be building a fire and had cold beer if we wanted to come back. I was convinced…. they boys were not. Onward to Lakeview, OR! They proclaimed anxious to get in some more miles and finally leave Nevada, rain or shine.
By the time we said goodbye to Janet she was worried about us leaving to cross the mountains in the rain and let us know they were predicting snow. She was honestly concerned for our well being and made us promise to call her to make sure we arrived safely or she was calling search and rescue. Off we went.
Sure enough it snowed…
Ha, now did we have every kind of weather on this trip? (Actually, no…)
But despite the cold and snow the ride to Lakeview was easy and as enjoyable as could be. Lakeview wasn’t that impressive. The only campground was the local fairgrounds and the only camping area seemed to be occupied by the local homeless population. We consulted our iPhones and decided to make the 20 mile run south to Goose Lake State Park which is on the shores of what once had actually been a fairly large lake/reservoir before the California drought. Now it was completely empty.
We were tired, cold and feeling the effects of over 5,000 miles on the TAT. We managed to sleep but for the first time I was cold enough at night to use my backup battery to power my heated liner in my tent. Also for the first time I didn’t get any pictures of our camp site. I did take time to call Janet and let her know we were OK, she was relieved. Thanks Janet.
The day started with a neighbor in an RV inviting us to come over for fresh brewed Starbucks coffee. Whoo Hoo, no instant for us at least. His name was Gives and was travelling with his three legged dog and deaf, mute, albino dog. We all hung out around his picnic table and swapped stories about travel and dogs. Thanks Gives.
We rode back to Lakeview and looking at my map I decided we should top off all the bikes and make sure our extra 2.75 gallons of extra fuel was full as well. The next stop would be Silver Lake, OR approximately 200 miles away. Just on the edge of our range.
It was another cold, wet day which at least for me was tough because I hadn’t thoroughly recuperated from the previous days ride. My gloves were so wet and my hands were so cold it was difficult to get my gloves off and on so I didn’t take any pictures except this one in Silver Lake.
Yes, we made it on fumes to Silver Lake and Yes, there is a gas station but….. NO, it wasn’t open. Only open on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. No gas on Thursday. Hungry and cold we went inside more to warm up than anything else. I ended buying a Hostess Fruit Pie and a fifth of Whiskey for lunch. I only took a sip of the Whiskey but it helped warm my inside and calm my nerves as I found myself for the second day in a row wondering where I could get some gas.
I only half noticed a guy hanging around the store who was roughly my age and seemed somewhat disheveled with an old leather jacket that said Harley Davidson. Maybe it was the visual of me, definitely disheveled, dripping wet, standing there slugging down straight whisky that brought him over to me. “Want some gas?” Ahh, sure….
Long story short he came back a few minutes later with a five gallon can and told us to take all we wanted. Wow. We split the gas between bikes and even though our new friend objected, this time I managed to give him money for the gas. Thanks Harley Dude!
Back in the cold and rain we rode the remaining 60 miles to Gilchrist, OR. I had enough and decided it was time to use my fatherly veto against camping every night. It really was getting to the point of being dangerous with a real chance of serious hypothermia setting in since we hadn’t really dried out in days. I’m sure we were all mildly hypothermic anyhow. I’m not sure if I was surprised but I didn’t get any objections from the boys…. oh yea.
Our iPhones guided us to the Gilchrist Inn. I called ahead to make sure our hopes of a dry night wouldn’t be dashed and was assured they had room. The hosts, Rick and Kim couldn’t have gone out of their way to help us more. Kim took one look at our sorry selves especially Jon with two sprained ankles and immediately returned to our room with a first aid kit, bath salts for a bath and a cold pack. She insisted on not only drying our wet clothes in her dryer but washing them as well. When I told her we were not riding any more for the night her husband drove me into town to pick up food and beer.
We were all fast asleep when Kim dropped off our clean and dry laundry off at 10:30 PM, wow, wow, wow, Thanks Kim!
We had a nice morning, with fresh coffee brewed in an actual coffee pot. Wanting to get an early start we decided against stopping for breakfast and I walked to a nearby convenience store for milk and cereal. Perfect. Ready to leave by about 9:30 we looked outside and another downpour had begun. The goal for the day was Canyonville, OR, about 190 miles away and even a gas stop along the way. We had been averaging about 200 miles a day so it seemed pretty doable so we decided to take time and wait out the shower. We were finally dry and wanted it to last at least for a little while.
Around 10:30 the rain abated somewhat so we packed up, said goodbye to Kim and stopped for gas before resuming our route.
The track leaving Gilchrist circles around the back of town along a road that houses the lumber mill that supports the town. There was a sign that said Private Road and further explained that permission to use the road could be withheld at any time. I checked my GPS and it looked like a public road, there was no way around it and we would only be traversing the sawmill operation for a very short distance. We continued on when a guy in a pickup truck started waving to me in the lead. I suspected he wanted me to stop but I decided my interpretation of his gesture was a friendly wave so I waved and continued on. The boys behind me stopped briefly and heard him say that this was a private road and we weren’t allowed. They relayed the information in our helmet communicators and we continued on.
Now I wasn’t sure if this guy was coming after us so I was tempted to ride fast and just get out of there. On the other hand, it was a somewhat busy parking lot with cars and trucks maneuvering about so I wanted to go slow just in case. I ended up compromising by going about 20mph when a Ford Focus pulled out right in front of me, not even looking. I tried to emergency brake as much as I could while still maintaining control on the wet blacktop with my knobby tires. In slow motion I was closing on the car with my speed down to only a couple of miles per hour. I could see the driver not even looking in my direction as I got closer and closer. I thought I would just miss the back of his car as he crossed in front of me when he suddenly looked left, saw me and hit his brakes. CRASH BAM DOWN.
There were people all over that saw the whole thing and they all came running. I stayed on the ground purposely while I assessed my situation waiting for any pains, listening to the yelling and making sure it was safe to move. Convinced I was actually ok I eventually got up and helped Weston pick up my bike. Once again, proper riding gear including helmet and body armor had saved me, I was fine except for the removal of the scab on my arm from my previous crash. I checked out my bike and amazingly it looked ok. Wow, what a tough bike, the little 250 that could.
Eventually I got around to looking at the car…. not as good a result.
You can see what actually happened is I turned my handlebars at the last second and my tire tracks are on his bumper. My very sturdy Safari gas tank bashed the quarter panel and taillight and my metal hand guards dented in the top part near the trunk.
As could be expected there was a flurry of activity with people calling 911, asking if I was ok, taking pictures of the scene and spouting various comments about being a private road. I few people came over saying they saw the whole thing and couldn’t believe the guy pulled out in front of me. I didn’t feel any obligation to discuss the situation with anyone so I just sat down waiting for the police so we could be on our way.
Scene of the crash. Just beyond the white truck to the left is the BLM road.
So we waited and waited. Gilchrest didn’t have a police department so we were waiting for the County Sheriff, it could be a while. Eventually after everyone got back to work and the three of us were just waiting around when a young Hispanic man came over to apologize. He was the driver of the car and admitted he didn’t even look for oncoming traffic before pulling out of the parking lot. He was genuinely concerned that I was ok. I told him I was fine and my bike was ok and as far as I was concerned he didn’t owe me anything. For some reason I just couldn’t be mad at the guy. I asked about his car and he said as long as I was ok that was all that mattered. We shook hands and agreed that was that. A little while later someone who looked important dressed like an office worker (plant manager?) came over and asked if we worked things out. I said yes and he responded that he didn’t see any reason to wait for the police and we should just get going. We hot-tailed it out of there in no time just in time for the rain to return.
Except for the weather the riding was fantastic, I felt at home in the wooded mountains of Oregon riding some fantastic roads. After the snow I thought we had every weather condition…. I forgot FOG. Every time we got around 5,000 feet in elevation we were riding in dense fog that immediately fogged our face shields and made it nearly impossible to see. I felt that I was getting cheated out of some of the best riding of the trip and decided Deby and I would return one day to ride the Oregon section of the TAT, well, maybe skip the private road around the Gilchrist Mill.
We had been having pretty good luck following Sam’s tracks for over 5,000 miles but at one point later in the day the track took a turn on a pretty narrow side road. Yes, Dean. I saw your comment about getting lost in Oregon. I’m pretty sure we weren’t lost but the track was on a road that had been abandoned long ago by the forest department. When a road is abandoned they start by digging big trenches to discourage travel by car, they dig pretty many to discourage motorcycle riders and then to ensure the long term elimination of the road they plant really a lot of trees.
When we got to the firs trench Weston saw a motorcycle track and concluded it must be the way so off we went like a bunch of lemmings. Over trench, over trench, over trench and finally crashing through saplings in a dangerous way. It wasn’t good. Eventually Weston crashed.
This was not a road. While they were getting upright I walked ahead through dense forest and found the road that once there ended in a steep ravine with no hope of escape. We decided to turn around in a small wide spot. Here is Weston with his bike turned around to go back through the thick trees.
We spent over an hour trying to find a through route. When we finally got back to our starting point at the first trench we erected this sign to warn future TAT riders.
We zipped tied the warning to the tree hoping it would stay and the skull and crossbones would dissuade any future people from trying. Ok, I have to admit it was fun trying ….
Canyonville, OR is on Interstate 5 and is a slight detour off the TAT but we had arrangements for Deby to meet us there at the Holiday Inn with the truck and trailer in preparation for our final day of riding. We arrived as the sun was setting in what else but… rain. We were once again really thankful for a dry place to stay for the night. We decided to celebrate the almost end of the TAT by getting a steak dinner at the local casino. Ahhhh…. almost home but more adventure to come.
We woke up at the BLM campground south of Battle Mountain to assess the site in daylight. It looked like a lot of people had camped there on the previous holiday weekend and trash was still overflowing the garbage cans. It must be a hunting camp because the picnic table was covered in blood stains, maybe somebody cleaned their deer? Something worse? We tried not to think about it too much and packed up quickly to leave.
We rode the 20 miles back to Battle Mountain to where else? The Owl Club for breakfast. Soon it was back on the dusty (literally) trail. We came across an abandoned car, this person wasn’t as successful on the TAT.
The track was as difficult as the previous day with long stretches of sand and ruts. Jon was riding at a very significant disadvantage with his sprained right ankle. It was challenging for him to stand and painful if he needed to put a leg down in a turn or tricky spot. Sometime before noon Jon crashed again trying to negotiate a tough spot with only one good leg. Ouch, sprained the other ankle. This sprain (right) ended being much worse than the left.
With nothing to do we didn’t dare remove his boot so we dusted off and rode for another hour before we came to the Chimney Dam Reservoir with water access. We decided to take a break to inspect Jon’s ankle and soak it in the lake. We set up our camp chairs and rested for a while.
Back on the trail at a slower pace we continued into the Humboldt National Forest eventually coming to a 7,000 foot pass where we stopped for a few pictures. I took this picture looking east, where we came from.
It was windy, Weston and I took a break off the bikes but Jon decided it was less painful to stay mounted. Getting on an off the bike was a painful challenge which had one advantage, when we got to locked gates Jon was excused from gate duty. I would open the gate and Weston closed them.
Glamor shot of the little 250 that could.
Soon we were riding down the West side of the pass, you can just see Weston’s dust.
By 5:30 in the evening it was starting to get dark in the mountains and we had gone 160 miles without seeing a person, building, vehicle or most importantly a gas station. A little worried about our gas situation and not wanting to repeat our late night from the day before we decided to look for somewhere to camp along the trail. We came across this somewhat level wide spot on the trail and decided to call it a night.
We got Jon wrapped up and situated on the best chair. Good thing he still had his cane with him.
Weston was on dinner duty, corned beef hash in tortillas.
I climbed up a nearby hill to see if there might be a cell signal, there wasn’t but I got a good picture of our camp site.
We were tired and sore after another long day of difficult riding and quickly fell asleep in our remotest camping spot of the trip.
The most excitement we had in the night was a small herd of cows that ran down the road, I think we were in their regular sleeping spot judging by all the cow pies in the vicinity. We packed up without any problems and continued down the road. After about 20 miles we were in McDermitt which is on highway 95 and the NV, OR state line. We filled up our gas tanks and extra fuel containers and had a big breakfast at the local casino.
Soon it was back on the trail. The dry hot weather was changing and the day was overcast with cooler temps and some rain. There was still a haze in the sky from nearby forest fires. As usual we came across many gates so we settled in our pattern of Jon waiting for Weston and I to have gate duty. I didn’t count but there must have been 20 or 25 gates.
After about 60 miles we came to Denio Junction. We were warned that there was no gas there and it was recommended if we need fuel we should detour 20 miles north to Fields, OR. We decided to empty our extra fuel containers into the bikes and continue on.
It started to rain so we donned rain gear before moving on.
The further west we got the road became more and more rocky, eventually coming to some steep hill climbs on loose rock. I tried to take a few pictures but the hills never look as steep in pictures.
This was tough going, especially for the old guy on the 250 (me) and even the young un-injured guy (Weston) but it was especially hard on the guy with two bad ankles…..
At one particularly bad section, unable to use his legs Jon just decided that instead of another painful crash it would be better to hop off when he lost momentum.
Again, the pictures don’t show how steep and difficult these sections were. The difficult riding continued, we weren’t in Kansas anymore….
Another long day of challenging riding with no gas stop since morning and slow progress. After 130 miles for the day it was getting late so we started looking for camping spots. We almost pulled over and “cowboy” camped in another wide spot in the rode but decided to keep going a few more miles when we came across this!
A camp spot in a Dufurrena Ponds wildlife refuge, no charge and a genuine Hot Spring Pool! Wow, how cool was that. We would have jumped right in but decided to wait a few minutes for an amorous couple we startled to finish their turn. It ended up being more of a Warm springs than Hot but we didn’t care after not having showers for days.
In addition to the hot (warm) pool, the building had showers with the same water that just ran 24/7. We all took advantage of the chance to get clean with actual soap and shampoo.
The weather was threatening with high winds but we stayed dry that night.
I was glad I reinforced my tent with a bungee to the mighty 250.
There were a lot of these rabbits with big ears running around. We had been seeing them for the last few days and I just happened to get a picture.
Strong winds continues throughout the night and it was cold but we survived intact and had a relatively good nights sleep.
I’ll take a break here, tomorrow…. Oregon, the last state in our adventure.
We ended up getting a late start from the luxurious KOA, we took full advantage of the showers and a nice dry morning to access our plan for the day. We took some time to go over the bikes, adjusted and lubed chains and the boys pulled their air filters which were a huge mess. Fortunately they installed foam pre-filters that were easily cleaned in the outdoor sink provided for camp dish washing. Finally packed up we rode into town for a hearty breakfast and were on the road about 11:30, The road out of ELY was more of the same, hot, and dusty but we were having fun.
Eventually we came to a sign for the Old Lincoln Highway, interesting, this sign was pretty much in the middle of nowhere.
According to the GPS track we would be riding on this historic route…. hmmm, looked like a couple of sandy ruts to me…..
We spent a lot of time stopping to open and close gates.
The dust was so bad we tried to space out for what was probably almost a mile.
Great long stretches of riding, we rode fast to blast through the sandy stretches hitting most of them about 50mph..
Well, finally it had to be my turn….. I hit this section of rutty sand WAY to fast…
This was the result….
Crash #1 for me, but it wouldn’t be my last. The boys were way ahead of me in a cloud of dust so I rested for a few minutes, dusted myself off and was getting ready to ride when the two KTMs came over a hill to check on me. Good kids… checking on the old guy.
After verifying I was OK, we all had a good laugh, both Jon and Weston had their first crash in, so much for my no-hitter…
I slid for what seemed like 20 feet in the silt and dust was thick over every inch of me and my bike.
I found out later that I had a little road rash and a sprained thumb…. no big deal.
We were getting pretty late into the day after our late start but I decided to slow my pace a little. As the sun was getting lower the sky was an eerie color. There was a lot of smoke in the air from Washington and Oregon fires. Between the smoke and some clouds we had a great sunset, you can see the dust cloud in the distance of my riding companions…
Was it me or were we about to loose our sunlight?
Ha, pretty much YES. Soon we were riding in complete darkness following our GPS tracks into the city of Battle Mountain. Little did we know that the last few miles into Battle Mountain is the location of the fabled deep silt in Nevada. We rode that section in complete darkness except for our dim stock headlights that were mostly covered in mud. We manhandled the bikes in loose silt up to our axles. It was a blast. Since we can all hear each other in our helmet communication system I could hear the boys laughing and hooting as we battled our way to battle mountain. When we arrived at the gas station we were totally exhausted, covered with silt from head to toe and looked like a royal mess. We really were getting some stares from people.
Here is a picture of Weston, he tried using his headlamp for extra light, he claimed it helped…
We were tired but happy.
At about 9:00 PM we found ourselves at the Owl Club restaurant for a late dinner, we had no idea where we would camp.
Since the Owl Club had a hotel attached and it was late I considered invoking by father veto on the no hotel rule but restrained myself. After consulting our iPhone app and the hostess at the club we decided to take a nighttime ride 20 miles to the south to the Mill Creek BLM campsite. We were tired and it was getting cold as we rode down the road in complete darkness. I was in my tent and instantly asleep at 11:00 PM. What a day, I checked my odometer and we rode 266 miles for the day, mostly all TAT miles in the sand.
I’m breaking up the last few days into separate posts and should have it completed soon.
The nice thing about KOA campgrounds is the showers, laundry, free WiFi and this time even a pool. We were glad for some down time and Jon was able to soak his sprained ankle in the cool water.
We had a 9:00 AM appointment with Fred at Arrowhead Motorsports for tires so we hurriedly pulled up stakes from the Moab KOA and made our way over to his shop.
New front and rear tires for me and a new front tire for Weston, with this we’ve all had a change of tires along the route and should be good for the rest of the trip.
When we pulled my front tire we found this split in the tube, wow, glad it didn’t blow on the White Rim Trail.
Glad to have new tires we left Moab in the heat of the day on the Gemini Bridges Road. Remember last time we got new tires and got a flat 30 miles later? Well, it happened again except this time we made it about 50 miles.
It wasn’t one of the new tires it was Jon’s relatively new rear tire. We are getting pretty good at the roadside repairs and had it swapped in about 30 minutes.
Back on the road we continued following Sam’s TAT tracks, at one point it was a little unclear which turn to take so we found ourselves on this road.
I was insisting it wasn’t a road but Jon and Weston insisted it was. Eventually dad was proved right but it made for some interesting riding.
It wasn’t long when I come around a corner and Jon is pulled over.
Same back tire. Why does he always have to pick a spot on the hottest time of day with no trees for miles? By now we were low on new tubes so we installed a tube we had patched the night before and hoped it held.
Between our late start and two flats we decided to start looking for camping spots. We saw a place on the map called Goblin Valley State Park and headed that direction. You never now what to expect when randomly picking a state park for camping. We pulled in an quickly realized this place was amazing.
The park ranger recommended a small walk in spot a short ways from the parking lot. Cool, check this out.
This was a great place, I hope I can return with Deby, she would love it.
Jon and Weston collected these bones along the trail and wanted to take them home for their mother but practicality prevailed and we had to leave them behind.
Goblin Valley State park was so cool I declared a late start day so we could relax and explore a little. Did a little rock climbing.
For a view of the park from above.
Back on the road it was more great riding over the San Rafael Reef.
Came across this cool bridge.
It wasn’t long before….. you guessed it. Jon had another flat. In the hottest part of the day on a stretch with out any trees on a long dusty road. We removed the tire and put in another patched tube from the night before. We noticed all the flats were caused by some sort of rubbing on the sidewall of the tire. We inspected the inside of the tire and found a small sidewall split so we removed the whole tire and I applied a patch to the inside of the tire hoping that would help. After an hour we were back on the road but I was worried that the problem would continue and there were no known motorcycle shops for hundreds of miles.
After some more riding we stopped for gas in the really small town of Castle Dale, UT. While filling the bikes I noticed a pickup truck pull in with a Yamaha dirt bike in the back. I asked the guy driving the truck if there was a motorcycle shop in town where I might get a tire. His answer was no but there was a guy who did some work out of his garage. I wasn’t sure but decided to follow him to his friend’s house not really knowing what to expect.
It turns out it was the shop of Doug Jackson of Jackson Racing. Doug greeted us in his shop that was the cleanest most organized and well equipped shop I have ever seen. Doug was a serious motorcycle racer haven raced for Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki and most recently for Yamaha. Doug pulled Jon’s tire and confirmed that the insides seemed to be pulling apart and the tire should probably be replaced, no, he didn’t have one.
But…. he called a shop 30 miles down the road and found a Dunlop MX 51 dirt bike tire that would work, never mind that it wasn’t street legal. I didn’t think anyone would check. The store closed in 30 minutes, could we get there in a half hour to pick it up? No problem I said and tasked Weston with making the 60 mile round trip. He returned in record time, I didn’t ask if he broke any laws but the big KTM can go pretty fast.
Doug and his shop.
Jon’s a happy camper with a new rear tire.
It was close to 7:00 PM by the time we left Doug’s, our original intent was to try to make it to Ephraim but we settled for a state park in nearby Huntington.
Not too far from the campground was a Mexican place with the huge mondo burritos.
Total miles for the day was only 100 but we managed to get a new tire and had a great day. Thanks Doug for all your help!
Thursday 9-10-15 …. My Birthday
Ha, somehow the kids managed to surprise me with a birthday cake and card in the morning, wow, really nice. Thanks guys.
What a great start to the day, carrot cake and coffee, breakfast of champs!!!
For a birthday gift they declared that I would ride in front all day and not have any dust, ha, did I score on that deal.
Anxious to make up for lost time we spent the day literally hauling a** over fast dusty roads.
All I saw in my mirrors all day was a huge plume of dust. I couldn’t even see the headlights of the bikes behind me.
We stopped for gas and the kids thought I should have a Red Bull to compliment the coffee and carrot cake I had for breakfast. I think they just wanted me to ride a little faster.
We made tracks over the Wasatch Plateau, San Pitch Mountains and dropped into the Tule Valley. Great roads.
I was really enjoying a dust free day. Weston and Jon were coated with dust.
Towards the end of the day we came to Salt Marsh Lake close to the Nevada border. We couldn’t resist spending time blasting over the dried salt flats. Way too much fun.
Weston took this really cool picture, maybe the best one of the trip.
You can see we were all coated with dust from the day, I was less dirty and really scored having a birthday on the dustiest day yet.
We wrapped up the day riding highway 50, “the loneliest highway” into Baker, NV for the night. We stopped for a lonely highway picture.
It was starting to get dark when we arrived at the Baker Creek Campground inside the Great Basin National Park. When we arrived we saw a sign for an Astronomy festival at the visitor center after dark. What a fun way to wrap up the day. But first dinner.
Since it was my birthday I got to pick the menu. So….
Peanut butter and potato chips! Oh yea, what a day of gourmet food.
After dinner we rode to the visitor center and had a star talk by a ranger and walked around to telescope stations set up by amateur astronomers where they explained various features in the sky. There was no moon, crystal clear sky and we were a hindered miles or more from any civilization. The sky was incredible with the milky way as bright as I’ve ever seen it. What a great way to wrap up my birthday. I checked my odometer and we managed exactly a cool 300 miles for the day. A great TAT day by any measure.
After a long day on Thursday and a late night watching the stars we were tired in the morning but wanted to get going early enough to beat the typical 90 degree heat.
Back on the TAT for the first sections of Nevada it was sandy rutty and dusty right away.
I volunteered to take up the rear to make up for being dust free the day before.
The road was tough all day and I couldn’t not get into any kind of riding groove.
We stopped in this cool canyon for a break in the shade.
We rode 200 dusty, rutty, sandy sections with periods of dry creek bed riding and steep boulder downhill stretches. By 4:00 hot, exhausted and hungry from not even being near a place for lunch we stopped in the tiny town of Lund, NV where we filled up with 87 octane and ate at the Whipple Café.
I think I enjoyed my Peanut Butter and chips dinner the previous night to the BLT from Whipples.
We were hot, dusty and tired after a rough day so we checked with Google and found a KOA campground about 30 miles up the road in Ely, NV where we camped for the night. They had the best hot shower I’ve had on this trip, I’m sure I used my $30 camping fee in hot water usage, ahhhh.
Ok, so time go get going this morning. I’ll try to get another blog post in soon.
Monday, September 7, 2015. Moab, UT Weston stomped the black widow spider before I had a chance to take a picture for the blog. Fortunately he spotted a web on his sock that had been stuffed in his boot all night and thought to shake his boot just in case. The spider dropped out and was positively identified as a Black Widow by Jon who seems to know about these things. That was this morning, Labor Day 2015 at the Murphy backcountry campsite about halfway around the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah. But how did we end up camping at the halfway point of the White Rim Trail? (Click link to read about it) Let’s backtrack. Thursday September 3 we had a late start after spending a few hours in the morning with Deby, Leah and Savannah who surprised us in Salida. It was 2:30 when we finally got under way and that is when the sky let loose welcoming us into the mountain terrain with big drops of heavy rain. Seventeen miles into the mountains Weston’s dry bag broke a strap and fell into his tire rubbing a hole rendering it no longer “dry”. Only a few miles more of the much rougher terrain and Weston’s stop KTM license plate assembly came in contact with his knobby tire and ripped off, necessitating some roadside repair. Used a camp saw to remove the stock license plate holder. And used zip ties to attached the license plate to his extra gas tank. Before long the rain let up a bit and we made it to Marshall Pass. We were trying to faithfully follow Sam’s tracks but some of the roads were long gone but we needed to try anyhow, this one ended up at a fence and we had to route to a nearby road. As it was getting dark we found a flat spot near the boat launch down a path from the main road next to a reservoir. A great camp site as it turned out complete with outhouse and picnic table, two nice things to have. Despite the nearby thunder and lightning we managed to mostly stay dry and even gather enough wood for a fire. Happy campers. The campsite was at almost 10,000 feet and the night was cold. We were glad for the new sleeping bags from Walmart. Friday 9/4/15 After morning coffee and oatmeal we once again donned our rain gear and rode off in the light rain towards Cinnamon Pass. Great riding all the way up the mountain trail. Rock, ruts and some steep sections but not too bad. Along the way we noticed a motorcycle headlight behind us. We slowed and along side us pulled Bryn! The guy we met at the TAT SHAK over a week ago. Ha, good to see him. We rode together the rest of the day. It was pretty cold most of the day but we had fun. Great roads, a little slick at times because of the rain. At the time we thought this was muddy, ha, the worst was yet to come. Eventually we found our way into Silverton, CO. Bryn, being much smarter and not having the camping challenge to contend with checked into a warm and dry hotel. We… rode down the road a few miles and found what they call “dispersed” camping which is basically a clearing somewhere where it is ok to camp. Right after I took this picture it started raining, we managed to cook dinner under the trees and stay slightly dryer before giving up and spending the rest of the evening in our tents. It dumped hard rain all night, a serious deluge. I was glad we learned to position our tents away from likely area of flooding. Amazingly we managed to stay dry all night. Saturday, 9-5-15 We managed to just get packed up and don our rain gear when the rain returned with a vengeance. Back we headed into the mountains for some cold 10,000 foot plus passes. We rode into Lake City where we found a dry spot for breakfast and a chance to warm up. It seemed like everything was wet. the town was full of side by sides for some type of rally on the start of the holiday weekend. I stopped at a Ski Do shop and splurged on a pair of heavy duty snowmobile gloves, boy were my hands happy. I had my heated Gerbing liner on as high as I dared with my little stator that was under warranty recall with chance of catching fire. I managed to stay warm enough, I wasn’t too sure about the boys. A little after lunch we stopped at some type of truck stop, convenience store, deli and decided we needed food. Gas station fried chicken. We were tired, cold, wet and dirty. Finally we dropped out of the mountains and neared the border with Utah, the rain let up but we were following huge thunder storms in the distance. We could see where the rain was falling but it seemed to be staying just ahead of us. Just into Utah we ran into mud, lots of it. Gooey, bad, stick, clay, ugly mud. This is the stuff they say to avoid at any cost. We hit it on an uphill section. My little 250 halted. The tires were so jammed with mud that the engine wouldn’t turn the rear wheel. You would think we would be discouraged but all of us were laughing so hard in our helmet communicators first Weston dumped then Jon then…. I almost crashed but my bike just stopped unable to go any further. This is actually pretty hard on a motorcycle as we would find out. I needed to find a stick and break off enough mud to get my bike going. I found the only way to move forward was to run next to the bike up the hill. When we got to the top of the hill we were laughing so hard at the crazy mud and had a great sense of accomplishment that we survived. We checked the GPS and found we weren’t far from a small town where we promptly located a car wash. Perfect, boots first. Then bikes Good as new! The closer we got to Moab the weather dried out and we crossed over a great pass, Goat Pass? We rode into Moab with 300 hard miles behind us, Rain, Cold, Mud and then into HOT dusty and technical sections. And…. we arrived in Moab, a huge tourist destination on Saturday of Labor Day weekend looking for a camping spot. As luck would have it we found a place not too far out of town that was basically an overflow farmers field but we were glad to have a place to set up camp and ride into town for dinner. We treated ourselves to a nice Italian place. It was a half hour wait for a table at 9:00 at night but they were really nice to us scraggly bikers and served great food. I had two Polygamy Porters (why have just one). We returned to our campsite in the farmers field and promptly crashed. Sunday 9-6-15 The astute reader may notice that the places we’ve camped the last few nights probably did not have showers. They didn’t. We hadn’t had showers since Tuesday Morning in Salida. Hmmm. What to do in Moab on Labor Day weekend? Ride! I decided we would take a break from the Trans American Trail and explore some of the routes Deby and I rode when we were here a few years ago. We loaded the bikes, stocked up on groceries, and headed out the Potash road for the Shafer Switchbacks. We cruised up easily.
A million fantastic photo opportunities. The view from the top of the road. I should probably just stop taking pictures, they just don’t do justice. At the top is a visitor center and ranger station for Canyonlands National Park. We stopped to inquire about a permit to ride the White Rim Trail, a famous 100 mile trek around, what else, the White Rim. We were informed that there was actually one campsite left and it was at approximately the halfway point of the White Rim Trail, did we want to reserve it. Sure! We were told that we should leave soon since it was already 1:30 in the afternoon and the ranger predicted it would take 5 hours to arrive at the camp site. Did we go directly there? No. First down one of my favorite tracks, Pucker Pass. Here is why. We were going down and these Jeeps were coming up. We managed down the pass and headed to the start of the White Rim Trail. We arrive at the starting point at 3:00 PM. Hmm, I hoped we could make it 50 miles in less than 5 hours. Riding with these guys, no problem until…… CRASH The riding was tough, technical, very rocky and steep. Weston was in the lead when he came to a steep uphill with a sharp left turn over the rise at the top. Miss the turn and it was about a 1000 foot drop over a cliff. Weston managed the turn but tried to yell out for us to slow down in the helmet communicators. The line of site communications turned off and Jon tore up the steep incline even faster than Weston. When he saw the cliff and realized he couldn’t stop he skidded left on purpose dumping the bike instead of flying over the edge. I was behind him a minute later but exercising more caution made the turn. We pulled under an overhanging cliff to triage the situation. The good news is that his protective gear saved him from some really serious injury. The bad news was that he appeared to have a sprained ankle. That happened 30 miles into a 100 mile backcountry ride, I suppose the prudent thing would have been to ride back to town but we decided to continue on and “see how it goes”. We made it to Camp Murphy at about 6:00 PM, almost half the time the ranger predicted. The camp site was fantastic, words and pictures can’t even come close to how cool it was. I’ll try with a few pictures here. We made Jon stay put with his leg up while Weston and I set up camp and cooked dinner. Great sunset and views. Monday 9-7-15, Labor Day We slept with our rain fly’s off and were plenty warm all night, with only a crescent moon rising later in the night we hoped for some great star gazing. A layer of clouds moved in and the sky was obscure all night. I was up early for the sunrise and we weren’t disappointed. Storm clouds and nice rainbow. A good place to sit and drink coffee Those clouds are moving away from us right???? NOT, we packed up in a hurry as the rain started and a big black cloud with dark earthbound streaks headed our way. Rain following us in the desert, go figure. Took time for a quick glamor shot of the bikes before we rode out in soft rain. There were more than a few really technical spots on the trail. I was amazed what the 250 got me through. Numerous really tricky steep uphill sections, some with loose rock, some sand and one I somehow managed to get up was giant steps. Whew! No time to take pictures of those places. The road ahead. Jon and Weston waiting for me (as usual) at the bottom. I love this picture of me that Weston took. Just a small example of some of the craziness on the White Rim Trail. Seriously, you don’t want to fall off any of these edges. Whew. We rode the 50 or so miles off the WRT in about 2.5 hours, again, about half the time recommended. Jon and Weston set a pretty fast pace. The trail has many sections of deep sand so against all intuition the safest technique is to go really fast! Lean back, stand on pegs, steer with feet. It works. Jon was having a hard time shifting and walking but managed to get back to his old riding speed of pretty fast. About noon we rolled into Moab, all three bikes with the gas lights on but we made it to gas and a Denny’s next door for breakfast. We have arrangements to get new tires on Tuesday and we noticed there is a KOA campground a few blocks from the tire store so we decided an early day was in order. We picked the KOA because it has a shower, WiFi and a laundry. After 5 days we got showers and clean clothes. There was even a pool for Jon to soak his foot. Tomorrow we get back to the TAT. I notice it leaves Moab on the Gemini Bridges Trail, cool. Deby and I rode that when we were here. Should be fun. Thanks for following. Note: Thanks for your comments and messages here and on Facebook. They do keep us going even though It’s difficult to respond due to sparse connectivity. If you want to see where we are in real time click on the Follow Us tab above. Finally, I’m using my cell phone for pictures and whenever I get a good connection I upload them to my Smugmug account. You can view them here: https://donnh.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/ADV-Dual-Sport-Rides/2015-TAT Donn, Jon, Weston
Deby called me a week or so ago and there was a small window of days that would work for a surprise visit on September first if we would be near a big city. She had to coordinate schedules with Jon and Weston’s girlfriends but it might just work out for the three of them to visit. I guesstimated we would be in Colorado about then so I suggested they book a flight to Denver, rent a car and follow my SPOT tracker to our location. We also decided to keep the trip a secret from the boys. Salida, Colorado was the closest city on the TAT to Denver so I worked on a plan to slow down the ride to get the timing to work out. The roads in eastern Colorado were fun but still too fast so we were making too good of time. I came up with an excuse that Deby was sending a care package to Salida and it wouldn’t arrive until Tuesday. We arrived in Salida Sunday night so I declared a day of rest on Monday. We ended up camping in a KOA that was actually pretty good and we took full advantage of the laundry, shower facility and free WiFi.
On the way we came across this sigh, Weston liked it.
Eastern Colorado had some long great roads heading into the mountains.
We stopped to check out this cool old church along the road.
On Sunday 8/30 we found a great free campsite at the DeWeese reservoir. The best we could tell camping was allowed anywhere around the lake. There were a number of people with campers who were there for the fishing.
After the sun set a huge full moon rose over the mountains in the distance.
During the night we heard all kinds of wildlife, which might be expected camping in a wildlife refuge. Something woke Weston up and I heard him yelling at a big raccoon that was on the seat of my motorcycle feasting on a can of Pringles I had strapped to my top sack. I got out of my tent to shoo away the camp thief and took time to secure all our provisions. For the rest of the night I could hear the raccoons sniffing around my tent.
When I woke up I discovered we must have camped in a cow pasture.
The loud chewing is what actually woke me up. The cows didn’t seem to interested in the raccoon’s discarded Pringles can.
Soon it was back on the road and some fantastic views into Salida.
One thing we noticed as we gained elevation was the nights were getting much cooler. Jon and Weston opted for light weight sleeping bags that were great for the beginning of the trip but were obviously not suitable for the send half. We made a stop at a local camping supply store.
Up on a top shelve on clearance was two 10 degree bags for about $40 each, deal.
Sunday night we opted to ride a few miles north of Salida to the KOA where we booked two nights while waiting for our “package.” It was cheaper for us to get a group site since they only allow two tents per tent site. This worked out great since we got a shade structure and a large spot.
Monday was a free day so of all crazy things (for me) Weston wanted to take Jon and I golfing! Heck, why not? Jon had never played before and I used to years ago when it was partially required for a previous job.
We had a blast.
Besides golf we hung out at the local brewery, watched movies in the KOA club house, did laundry and I borrowed a book from the lending library. It was nice to have a day off the bikes.
Tuesday was the big day. The girl’s plane was landing at 10:00 and it was about a 3 hour drive from Denver to Salida so I was expecting them to show up about 1:00. Checkout time at the KOA was 11:00 so we had a slow morning of coffee, pancakes and hot showers before we left promptly at 11:10. We found out there was a Yamaha shop near the campground that opened at noon, I needed an oil change and wanted to inspect my sparkplug so we killed an hour at the local coffee shop. While there we struck up a conversation with a guy in his 70’s about motorcycles. After the usual questions about our motorcycles and the TAT he slowly told us about himself. His name was Bruce Brown (not the same as the director of “On Any Sunday”) and he had actually raced the Baja 1000 and 500 multiple times! He was friends with Malcom Smith and had some great stories. We had a great time hanging out and chatting, I wish I would have got a picture.
Still sort of killing time but needing an oil change we got to the Yamaha store shortly after they opened. It was a small one man operation and the guy behind the counter was on the phone constantly, and treated us with the typical dismissive attitude that is sadly typical in many motorcycle shops. Clearly he wouldn’t have time for an oil change to I talked him into letting my use a drain pan and we found a shady spot next to the shop to do it ourselves. I had the oil, filter and spark plug changed in less than a half hour.
We were just buttoning everything up when a black car tore into the gravel parking lot with three hot babes. Horn honking and gravel flying as they skidded to a stop. Weston looked up an said “what the heck?” The three girls jumped out and the TAT riders were reunited with their women.
I declared a pause from the official TAT and that it would be ok not to camp for two nights since we had reservations at the Mountain Goat Lodge a few miles down the road towards Salida.
We spend the day Wednesday kayaking the Arkansas river having fun.
Weston and Savanna
When we got to the end of the river we had to deflate the kayaks and strap them to the top of the rental car. A fun day for all.
Today we say goodbye and resume the TAT, back to camping, camp food and mountain roads. Everyone says the best part of the TAT is just beginning, I can’t wait. It’s been great having a couple of days off with Deby, she wishes she was riding along but is being very gracious and understand about the father and sons experience.
Oklahoma is a long state on the TAT, probably 600 miles or so. Our first night in OK was at Snowdale State Park, just across the border and probably 45 minutes from Tulsa. We had a great morning ride and stopped for breakfast at this place,
We rode up a place called Rock Mountain (Deby would have loved it) and took a picture here.
As usual Weston and Jon were well ahead of me so I came around a corner and found Weston standing in the road with his shirt up.
First bee sting award goes to Weston.
Glad this guy didn’t want to chase us.
The whole day was great riding, fast dirt through hilly wooded country. Had to go around two “Road Closed” gates but the road went through ok. One road said Dead End but we went anyhow and wow, a car couldn’t have made it. We rode about a half mile downhill through what must have been a dried creek bed. Good practice for the Colorado section to come.
Setup a nice campsite at Snowdale State park when we see someone coming in pushing an adventure motorcycle. It’s our friend Bryn from the TAT Shak. He got a flat tire just outside the park and was pushing it in so we camped for a second night together and we helped remove the tire and identified the smallest finishing nail that caused the problem.
Glad to help
The campground had a number of Ducks that lived there and liked to visit.
The black one was a Muscovy duck, interesting.
We shared the food in our pack for a community dinner, nice.
Even had a wonderful sunset.
The next day Ted from the campground (Bubba) told us about “an old guy” down the road that had “some kind of motorcycle shop.” Typical, turn left, turn right, left at old gas station and big brown shed on right. Ha, eventually we found it and met Eldon.
Eldon not only had a tube for Bryn, but had some brand new D606 tires for the KTM’s, wow. This was a deal too good to pass up so I bought his last inventory of these tires and decided to spend the morning getting them on. Eldon’s deal was that he could put tires on and off the rims but I had to take the wheels off the bikes, something about insurance I found out. No worries, he let me in his shop and let me use his tools.
It was an amazing shop, probably one of everything if you could find it.
Although, go figure, he didn’t have an SAE Allen wrench for the wheel weight.
It was about 2:00 when we finally got going with new tires on the KTMs and off we were on fast gravel roads with the temperature climbing into the 90’s we were determined to make up for lost time when.
Jon picks up a nail 50 miles down the road from a new tube and tire. Well, no worries, popped off the wheel for the second time in the day and slapped in a new tube.
So Jon got the first flat award.
I didn’t take any more pictures on Tuesday just blasted on roads like you see above. We found a nice camp site in Copan, OK on Copan lake. We were hot and tired but managed a fire in the fire pit and had a good night. Another day in the books.
Decided to break into the pancake supplies Deby made for us, yum. Light and fluffy brown, the finest in the town.
Crossed a cool old bridge
The rest of the day was HOT and dusty.
Says “feels like 130” wow, yes it did. We stopped in the afternoon at a Mexican restaurant just to cool off before recharging our evaporative cooling vests and getting back on the road. We ended up at Alabaster Caverns State Park just outside of Freedom, OK. We were told by the ranger that it was the only Alabaster Cavern in the world. The have daily tours but we wanted to get an early start to beat the heat. I called Deby and she was jealous and asked us to find her some Alabaster. Hmmm.
We woke up and were determined to get most of the way through OK. First we had to make a stop along the road…..
Ha, Alabaster just laying about. That Weston, what a good kid Deby.
We were on the road early and it was back to HOT, dusty, long straight roads. I had the poor WR pinned all day (really ALL day) trying to keep up with the 690s. We were flying 50 to 60 MPH all day. There were long stretches of deep sand that we just hit at speed and kept going. There was loose gravel, ruts more sand and lots of dust. It was HOT again so all the dust and dirt stuck to our pores. It was a rough day.
Around noon we needed gas and the nearest place was in here of all places.
Liberal KS! Holy cow. When I was in my early 20’s and toured with a rock band this was one of our stops. Ha. I asked an old timer (someone my age) at a gas station about Naomi’s Lounge and the woman laughed. Yes, she remembered it and used to go there about that time. We told some funny stories and she said it was still there but called The Hitching Post. Well I had to check it out.
Yep, just like I remember it.
Liberal’s #1 Honky Tonk. Well, it sure was back then.
The rest of the day was more HOT, FAST, DUSTY, LONG, Wide Open Throttle riding.
Some of the roads were these two track sandy stretches.
Some sections with ruts.
But mostly long straight loose riding.
We found that campgrounds are not really common so we have been using a campground App to identify campgrounds along our path. According to the APP, there was one in Felt, OK, just 15 miles from the border in the panhandle. We got there as it was starting to get dark and were looking forward to a good nights rest. Felt, OK is really small, I mean really small. Maybe 20 buildings in the middle of nowhere but they have this little park. When we arrive we saw this sign.
Oh Oh. Day Use Only. Ah Hmmm, seriously there was not another campground for maybe 100 miles much less a tree to camp under. Soooooo, what to do.
We setup behind a row of low trees and hoped for the best. Turned out we were ok, the town is so small only about three cars passed the whole time we were there.
Finally we exited the OK state, were we glad. As soon as we crossed the state line into the corner of New Mexico the terrain changed and the surroundings changed from agriculture to ranching. The roads and weather improved along with our spirits.
We came across this old prison in Branson, NM
We decided to have an early night in Trinidad State Park near Trinidad, CO. The phone app said showers and laundry. This time it was right.
It’s getting dark as I type this at the picnic table and the skiters are getting me so no proof reading today. I hope you enjoy the ride so far.
Today is day 6 on the TAT, it’s rained every day. Not constantly but on and off thunder storms, this might be normal for summer in the south. It’s Sunday and at about 2:00 we arrived at the TAT Shak, a single wide trailer in the hills of Arkansas. I’m not sure but we are either in the Ozark Mountains National Park or nearby. As I write this we haven’t met the owner yet but the place is setup to be a stopping point for TAT travelers. When we arrived nobody was around but the door was unlocked so we decided to have an early day of rest and park for the night.
The TAT Shak has no beds except for a raised plywood platform in one room and cots in another. Jonathan declared that this qualified as camping so tonight we sleep inside, nice. The only problem with the TAT Shak is no cell service or internet connectivity so I typing this up as I sit on the porch and will upload it when I get a chance.
Let’s get caught up.
Thursday morning we awoke at the Cross City RV park with our tents setup on the grass. It was a nice night with no rain and we all slept well. About 8:00 the propitiator, Jim came by to collect his fee. He said he never had campers before and seemed glad to have us and hear about our trip. He was carrying a bag with three biscuit and sausage sandwiches, still warm. Yum. No need to make breakfast.
We rode though the day with off and on showers and threatening clouds overhead. The non-paved sections were muddy and slippery requiring full concentration. The riding was tough and technical but Jon and Weston didn’t let that slow us down, it was full speed ahead all day.
As we neared the end of the day we looked at the map and saw some state parks around Lake Granada so we deviated from the route to check it out. The first place was obviously for RV campers, we pulled in and the camp host read the rules; only two tents per space, $20 per space and we would need two. Oh, and no camping on the grass. Really? The only other choices were the concrete RV slab or gravel driveway into each space. He told us to ride around and pick a space and come back to pay. We jumped on the bikes and bee lined it for the exit.
I noticed another Mississippi state campground on the other side of the lake so we decided to check that out. I wasn’t holding out hope because I figured the same rules would apply but we went anyway. This place was really different, when we got there it seemed abandoned. There were some camp sites near a boat launch but no outhouses or facilities. There were two travel trailer campers parked but they seemed vacant. There were absolutely no people which seemed strange for a Friday night. We picked a camp spot back in the woods near the boat ramp that had a fire pit and dilapidated picnic table. The whole thing was a little odd but it was getting dark and starting to rain a little so we set up camp. Near the picnic table was a telephone pole with a electrical box, we lifted the lid and to our surprise there was an electrical outlet with power. Weird, but we were not complaining.
Had a nice sunset over the lake.
We were wrapping up our evening routine of getting a fire going and cleaning up from our dinner of canned chili when a pickup truck came blasting down the gravel road to the boat launch, then another and another. Eventually about 8 cars and trucks arrived and there was an instant party going on. We figured oh yea, Friday night time to party at the old campground so much for a peaceful evening.
After a while we realized maybe it wasn’t what we thought because there were a number of small children with the group and they weren’t really all that rowdy. I was at the picnic table watching the action through the trees when I saw some kind of full moon looking glowing thing rising through the trees, what? It took a few minutes for us to realize they were launching Chinese Lanterns, these paper thin balloons with small fire sticks underneath that when lit fill the bags and they lift into the sky. Cool, Jon and I walked over to see what it was about. Soon after we arrived one of the guys came over and explained they were having a memorial for a friend that died and the were launching dozens of these in his memory. He handed Jon and I each one and we launched them for Zach and said a little prayer. After an hour or so they wrapped it up and left, the park was back to it’s creepy self and we drifted to sleep.
Jon launching one.
Granada MS to Heber Springs MS 309 miles
We managed to get coffee and oatmeal before it started raining at our camp site. We hurriedly packed and were on the road by 8:30AM with full rain gear on. No showers for these boys.
Crazy ivy taking over all the trees along the road.
We came across this honest to goodness Juke joint. Jazz and Blues. Man I wish we could be there at night to check it out.
Of course the boys wouldn’t be able to get in.
It wasn’t long before we crossed into Arkansas and came across signs for TAT riders to stop and sign the log at the TAT Stop in Tranton, AR. Of course we had to stop so we arrived a little after noon to sign the log. As soon as we pulled up we were greeted by Percy Kale, Glenn Kale and Al Faust. I hope I have all the names correct, they were super happy to see us and very welcoming. We went inside the building to sign the log book and there were other family members in the air conditioned building waiting to greet us. The said there is not much to do in Trenton on a Saturday so they all congregate at this old store front to hang out and hope to meet some TAT riders and hear their tales of adventure. I love it. They said they don’t have visitors every day, only a few times a week. Our arrival made everyone’s day so we sat around, sharing stories and having fun.
When we signed the guest book we noticed that a few days ahead of us was Ed March on his C90. Really? Wow, for those of you that don’t know I’ve been following his travels around the world for years. He’s ridden his little 90cc Honda all around the world with incredible tales of adventure. I even bought his DVD and supported his cause online. Now here he is only days ahead of us on the TAT, how cool would that be if I got to meet him?
As we were getting ready to leave the TAT Stop we all posed for pictures. Every year they collect pictures of all the TAT riders that stop and make a book. I’m looking forward to being in the 2015 collection.
Before we left they warned us of a section 13 miles down the trail that could be really hazardous mud if it has been raining, Wait, hasn’t it been raining for days? I asked him, you mean like all this rain? He said yep, I recommend you go around that section. Well, as you know Jon and Weston would have nothing to do with that so we thanked him for is advice anyhow. He laughed and asked me to post in my blog how it went.
Off we went into the mud. When we go there they were correct, mud, water, ruts and slick AR slippery snot. We jumped up on our pegs, picked our lines and gassed it. Before we knew it we were through with some close calls but no tip overs. From what I hear this is good practice for the difficult sections ahead of us.
Deby’s been wondering how we are eating. Don’t worry mom, everything is fine.
Gas station fried chicken and Coke, yum.
The day’s riding was probably 80% non paved which was nice except for more mud, ruts, and miles of deep loose gravel sections. Fournately the loose stuff was fairly straight so we determined that 50mph, on the pegs with weight back worked best and we made good time.
At one point were on a lonely stretch of road and one of the only vehicles, a pickup truck, of course, was ahead of us when we saw a small puppy in the road shivering and totally soaked in the rain. What? Did that truck just dump the puppy? Of course we had to stop and Jon picked up the shivering dog to see what he could do. We noticed the pickup truck stopped and was turning around, we weren’t sure if this was a good sign or not being in the back woods of the Ozarks it could mean anything.
We rode some more and started getting hungry so at one of the gas stations we bought gas station fried chicken, hmmmm, but it was really good! Yum.
When the truck arrived we noticed it was a state wildlife officer and he passed the dog and maybe because he saw us stop decided to turn around to help. We chatted and he said he thought it belonged to one of the houses we passed and volunteered to return it. Nice, I hope.
Nice grassy section of road.
Back to the ride we were continuing Northwest. As it started getting late we looked for places to camp, which evidently is not a common pastime in Arkansas. The map has a place called Ferry Lake and indicates camping in the vicinity. We stopped for gas in the rain and checked our smart phones for campgrounds, they showed a KOA. Ok, good enough, probably hot showers, a club house to escape the rain and WiFi so I could catch up on the blog. We rode through rain and as it was getting dark we arrived at Used to be a KOA campground, now it was an RV park. We pulled in and didn’t see anyone so we followed old signs with duct tape over the letters KOA to the campsites. They sucked. Large rock gravel RV parking spots. With no choice we setup our tents on the rocks, heated up chili for the second night in a row and exhausted after 300 miles of hard riding we fell asleep.
Not the best camp site.
Them’s storm clouds commin’
Sunday August 23, 2015 Heber Springs, AR to the TAT Shak.
We woke up and after some determined searching found a shower house with toilets and hot water, men only, which seemed strange to me but so does a lot of things in the Ozarks. Never one to pass up a hot shower we showered and starting to pack up camp when some guy in a golf cart drives up, the only person we even saw during our stay there, weird. He said, “we don’t allow tents to camp here.” A little perturbed at the whole situation I said, “well that does it, we’re leaving.” He drove off, I’m not sure he had any official capacity so we finished packing and left. For the second night camping was free, nobody asked for money and we couldn’t find a pay station.
We rode south in the rain to Beebe where we would catch the TAT where we left off. We have a rule, evidently, that once we leave the TAT we have to return to the exact same spot to continue on. It was almost 10:00 when we reached our spot and continued in the rain. Along the way we found a family style breakfast spot with 8 or 10 pickup trucks parked out front. Seriously, not a car in sight. I figured this would be a good place so we stopped for breakfast. Jon and I had the Goose Hunter special and Weston had the Rambler Omelet. There was a ton of food including biscuits and gravy, we couldn’t eat it all but it made up for no breakfast and two nights of canned chili.
By 2:00 we arrived at the TAT Shak .
More healthy eating at the TAT Shak.
Ok, the battery is getting low, and the mosquitos are getting me as I type this on the picnic table so I’m going to post this and call it a night.
Still having fun, and we are finally drying out a little. The weather is perfect with a record low forecast for tonight and low temps in the 70s tomorrow for riding. , nice.
Oh yea. The challenge of riding the Trans American Trail is not just the ride it’s negotiating the weather and the logistics of camping every night which includes finding food, water and camping places. Tonight’s our third night camping and we are hoping it might be the first night without rain. The forecast says we might be dry but my weather app shows a line of thunder storms heading for us. At least it hasn’t been too hot with temps in the 80s but high humidity.
I’ve had good luck uploading pictures right from my phone so let me get caught up.
Day one riding was mostly paved with some gravel sections and four water crossings. There were only supposed to be three but somehow with all the rain we ended up with four. I only seemed to get one good pictures. I have some good video of Weston almost crashing but he pulled it through.
One interesting thing was going over a 5,200 foot pass in fog so thick we could hardly see. I had no idea anything was so high in Tennessee.
Night one Jon and Weston were successful gathering wet wood and managing to get a good fire lit while I prepared dinner. As soon as the fire really took the rains poured down and promptly doused it.
It was a pretty good camp site before the floods started.
We learned a valuable lesson, avoid setting up your tent in the low spots. Jon had a water bed after just one half hour.
The rain let up slightly and we all moved our tents to higher ground.
Wednesday it threatened rain all day so we rode with our rain gear on. It didn’t start raining until we stopped to set up camp. I didn’t take any pictures since it was mostly paved roads but really nice curvy ones. We stopped for lunch but not dinner, it was getting late and huge rain clouds were forming so we went for the nearest campground on google maps. After a 10 mile detour we arrived outside Elkmont, at the Mill Creek Park RV park. Welcoming us were many signs that said, Private Park, No Trespassing, No camping. Basically, not very welcoming. By this time the rain was starting and as far as we could tell it was about 20 miles to the next campground. On each sign was a phone number so we decided to stop in the long driveway and call. “No, we don’t take campers, you have to go to…..” I couldn’t make out what she said so I asked her to repeat. She asked where we were and I told her at the end of her driveway, cold, wet and on motorcycles. “Well….. ok, come on down”. They ended up being nice enough but you could tell they were wary, they sort of apologized and said if we were from the south we would understand. Hmmm, I wanted to have her explain but decided I would rather get our tents setup instead. The directed us far from the RV spots, Weston thought he heard her say so they wouldn’t see us. Didn’t matter we set up our tents as the rain started coming down stronger.
Camping in the back 40.
Notice the shed in the background. We ended up hanging out there during the rain, literally.
We couldn’t find a place to buy any food but managed to find a 6 pack of beer. That, some chewy bars, sunflower seeds and candy was our dinner.
You can’t tell in this picture but it was raining pretty hard. This shed was way better than spending all evening in our tents.
The next morning the rain let up enough to make coffee in the shed and get the bikes packed. We even managed to get hot showers. Once the bikes were packed and we were about to leave the sky opened up in torrents of rain. We took shelter in the club house, wish they would have mentioned this to us the night before.
Waiting out the rain.
We had coffee but no food for breakfast but we were anxious to get going so we decided to try to ride through the storm.
We managed to stay only sort of dry as no rain gear is 100 percent perfect. Even if it was humidity and sweat started soaking us from the inside.
By noon it mostly stopped raining so we stopped at a Stucky’s restaurant and caught the end of their buffet breakfast. The food was horrendous but we were so hungry it didn’t matter even if we were a little ill feeling as we rode off.
The afternoon has some great gravel sections and more water crossings. We successfully navigated three roads with closed signs. I particularly liked this sign.
The bridge wasn’t really out just not ready for cars.
Here is another.
This was a good one.
A typical gravel road. Nice, easy fast.
I’ve read about this in other TAT ride reports but I’m still amazed, there are cemeteries everywhere, it seems like every church has one and there are A LOT of churches. All of the cemeteries are full of bright flowers that look brand new. This picture does not do it justice.
A nice wooden bridge.
Eventually we crossed into Mississippi and are camping tonight at the Cross City RV Park outside of Corinth, MS. We met the owner Jim Wilkinson who recently opened the park. He wasn’t aware it is exactly on the Trans American Trial. Nice place, it looks like we will have warm showers again in the morning. We stopped at a Dollar General to pick up some food, bad idea. Everything was very expired and we just couldn’t find anything so we rode a few more miles and came across a WalMart where we got the fixens for hamburgers.
So day three is in the bag. We are starting to dry out and are looking for some good riding tomorrow.
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