Here is the recap of our journey from Vernal, Utah to Alamosa, Colorado on Saturday and Sunday, August 19th and 20th.
Our Saturday ride began early after coffee and a light breakfast as usual. The temperature was in the 50s. We took US 40 east toward Dinosaur, Colorado. Although this is a major US highway there was very little traffic. Once in Dinosaur I noticed a small church off to the right, the Dinosaur Baptist Church. The name brought a smile to my face. We then took state route 24 east to pick up route 139 toward Grand Junction, Colorado. This section was as remote as the section in Utah we traveled earlier in the morning. However, there was a difference in the terrain. We had moved from vast open dry plateaus to the edges of the Colorado Rockies. Many portions of these areas are marked open range. This brings me to a story about Rich’s close encounter of the bull kind. I’m going to let him tell it in his own words first. His words follow:
- “We had entered an area of small mountains and hilly terrain, and I noticed a sign that said “Open Range Watch For Cattle”. We had seen these signs before and kinda got used to paying them no mind. The ranches out here are huge with some portions unfenced. So you could possibly see horses or cattle roaming freely, although we hadn’t seen any yet. This day would be different. As we rounded a bend, I noticed a small herd of cattle to my left a short distance away. Joe was a little ways out front, so he passed them by. However, as I approached, there was this one big bull who decided that he wanted to cross the road in front of me. When he saw me approaching, he paused on the shoulder and began to stare at me. So I stopped in the middle of the road and waited, and waited, and waited. The bull and I just stared at each other for about three minutes. There were now three cars also stopped behind me. I certainly didn’t want to do anything to excite him or annoy him; because I was in a pretty vulnerable position should he decide to charge the bike. At last he decided to slowly cross the road, and took his own good time too. I then snapped a few pictures and called him a few choice names for making me wait, but somehow he couldn’t hear me as he began to climb a trail going up the side of the mountain. After he was about 50 feet above me and a good distance away. I drove on. So from then on we began to watch for animals always.”
Now for the real story – the photo gallery evidence indicates that I was not that far in front of Rich (He took the picture.) I think it had something to do with him riding a RED bike that caused his concern.
We stopped to eat lunch about 20 miles from Montrose, CO and ran into a group of bike riders who were on their way to the grand opening of a Harley Davidson dealership in Montrose. One of the guys, Gerald, invited us to join them there since it was in our direction of travel. I included a picture of Gerald and his friends. BTW – he had an outstanding black custom show bike. We stopped at the dealership for a short time. Rich ate again. I took a look at a Harley just for fun.
We picked up US 550 in Montrose. There is a portion of this highway that is referred to as “Million Dollar Highway” and we were anxious to see it firsthand. The terrain changed again. The road followed the top of a canyon down into what appeared to be a box canyon to the town of Ouray. It began to rain just as we entered this picturesque little town that is surrounded by tall red canyon walls. We stopped to wait out the rain there. Ouray is a place I wished that I had more time to explore. However, we had to continue on to our destination for the night, Silverton.
Out of Ouray we continued on US550 and discovered some of the most awesome scenery we had seen. Red Mountain was spectacular. The road traversed up mountains passes and at times required a lot of concentration. There were signs which displayed “Motorcycles Use Extreme Caution”. Portions of the road had been washed out and were covered with mud. There were no guard rails and the drop-offs were at least a thousand feet. We pressed on slowly but were still able to take in the scenery as we rode.
Finally we arrived in Silverton, elevation 9100+ feet. This is a very small town nestled within mountain walls all around. We booked a hostel there for the night since there were no motels. The main street is paved but the side streets were dirt (actually mud from all of the rain). We turned on the road where the Silverton Hostel was located. We proceeded carefully through the mud and parked outside. Upon entering we met Robin, the owner. Robin had a very warm and humorous personality. She made our stay very enjoyable and she posed for photos with us.
When we left Silverton the next morning the temperature was 44 degrees. However, by the time we reached Durango the temperature was in the 70s. The scenery from Silverton to Durango was outstanding. But I call the scenery between Ouray and Silverton simply stunning.
We’ve arrived at our destination for tonight. Tomorrow we head toward Colorado Springs. I must have my bike serviced at a dealership there before proceeding toward home. It is clear that our journey is now winding down. We have covered more than 3,500 miles so far and we have 2,000 more miles to travel before reaching home in Maryland. Our goal now is to take it easy and ride at a leisure pace. I have one more major stop planned. I have some friends and relatives in Louisville, KY. An annual cook-out is scheduled for this Saturday and I want to be there for it.