29 December 2015

Traveling the world by moto


As much as you can

As far as you can

As long as you can

Life's not meant to be lived in one place

   I recently submitted an entry to a contest a company named Touratech is hosting. They are sending one adventure rider from each continent--with the exception of Antarctica, I guess--to ride Northeastern Madagascar with Touratech's founder Herbert Shwarz and his photographer/journalist wife, Ramona--two badass riders. The trip has been described as the adventure of a lifetime--no set schedule and cushy hotels here, but an immersion into the culture and landscape of the area. Part of the trip includes stopping at a school and giving students a lesson about each of the areas the riders come from. The contest required a three minute video, along with a written introduction and description, of why each rider is interested, and what would make that person a good team member.  The task of creating a video was a bit daunting to me at first, but then I started going through material and trying to figure out editing programs, and it became downright overwhelming! I may, or may not, have run around the house waving my crazy muppet arms over my head. In the end, it looks like a completely amateur video created by a woman who had never done it before. However, it makes me smile to watch, and at the very least, I think I managed the "Be sure to show us your sense of humor" admonishment which went along with the instructions.   

  I had so much fun going through all the photos, remembering the events and trips, twisties and terrain, and people met along the way. I have gotten to do many day rides in the front range and Rocky Mountains, and some really fantastic trips in North America,  both with other riders and solo. I have ridden in beautiful places, ridden fantastic roads--some of which found me screaming in my helmet, "HOW IS THIS A ROAD? WHO CALLS THIS A ROAD!?!"--and I look forward to so many more such trips and so many more roads.  But, one of the biggest things that draws me to traveling is the people I have met. Between meeting other motorbikes from all over and locals wherever I stop, I've made friends and wonderful connections. Thanks to Facebook and ADVRider, it is easy to keep up with people.  Travel feeds the soul. Immersing oneself into the local culture and really taking time to talk to people broadens one's view of the world. We get to see that despite different cultures--politics, skin color, religion--underneath it all we are simply people. Experiencing this first hand allows for greater empathy and a greater ability to relate to others, and I haven't yet met a motorcycle traveler who regretted his or her decision to travel afar. I certainly never have. I look forward to the coming year of moto events and trips, and I send warm wishes to all those traveling now, or who will be soon. Enjoy what you find, put yourself out there, and enjoy the beauty this world has to offer.   

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many

of our people need it sorely on these accounts. 

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of

men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one

little corner of the earth all one's lifetime. 

Mark Twain

A quick note

Update: This new app apparently just turns all my carefully crafted paragraphs into one, gigantic paragraph, unless I insert something such as a photo or video between them. I am trying to get this resolved. Until then, my new posts appear to be made up of run-on paragraphs. Is that a thing? It is now.  



I will admit it. I am woefully behind on writing.  I had some problems with the iOS 9 update completely shutting down the iPad, on which I always write. Then, I was using the Blogsy App to write--I've been using it since I started this blog--but because of changes that both YouTube and Apple have made, they have been unable to keep up with being usable. It all came to a head when I had written an entire post offline, and when I got to the library to upload, everything disappeared.  Just. Disappeared.  I was pissed. So, I have switched blog apps, and am using a new one. It may take me a few posts to get used to formatting, so please be patient. And know, also, that I am having to be patient as well.  And to Blogsy--who, since February have been claiming to try and fix things--I say:
I know, not particularly charitable. But I didn't feel particularly charitable when all of my writing disappeared into the ether.

15 September 2015

RawHyde Colorado--Big Bike Training In The Mountains!

RawHydes's last class of the 2015 season! Nope, they didn't have fun AT ALL!
If you ride any kind of motorcycle, how can you not want to do that RIGHT NOW! That scenery, zero traffic. Off-road riding like this makes a rider feel as if he or she is on top of the world.

Just over three years ago, Jim Hyde brought his highly regarded off-road training company to the Colorado mountains for the summers. His hugely successful training camp located in Castaic, California is just too blasted hot to train in during the summer months, so Colorado is Rawhyde's training center during the months of May through September. Last august, Josh and I rode to the facility--about two hours from Denver--to meet the Colorado crew and Jim Hyde.

We arrived in time for lunch which, prepared by chef Julia del Real, was fabulous. Clients and coaches headed in from the morning's drills on the training grounds, and we were enveloped in a high-energy vibe of motorbike excitement. I sat between Jim Hyde and Russell Burton, one of Jim's Colorado coaches, stuffing my face and talking motorbikes, but trying not to do both at the same time.

As lunch finished up, we rode out with the coaches and clients, heading for the "hills" training area. I spent the afternoon in the hot Colorado sunshine, at the top of the big hill with Dusty Wessels. If he was any measure of the crew's skill and fun, this was something I wanted to be a part of. At the end of the day, anyone who was in the class was invited to take a gorgeous ride out on the dirt roads of South Park, led by the fabulous Shawn Thomas. Josh and I were happy to join in, and took off with the group.

Stopped to take pictures on a ride after the class was done. Aspen groves and mountains as far as one can see.

A few miles into the ride, the rear brake on the 1200GS Mark Ferguson was riding locked up. Mark, being the ultra-professional he is, calmly brought the bike to a stop without hurting himself or anyone else, and Shawn looked at it, releasing the brake in a cloud of steam. That was the end of the ride for Mark, as the brake was not fixed and could do the exact same thing again the next time it was used. He sent Mark back to camp, and asked someone to accompany him just in case something went wrong and he needed a hand. I volunteered to go with him--Mark was the whole reason I was there in the first place, speaking to me about the idea of adding a female coach to the team. Though I was sad to miss out on the ride, I was only too happy to be there for a friend should he need me. As it turns out, we made it back no problem, but as we pulled in, Mark found he had no rear brake at all. Turning back had definitely been the right call.

Spending that day at the RawHyde facility, and meeting the awesome crew--which also included Trev, badass coach, and Lauren, awesome hospitality manager who also rides--made me excited about the possibility of joining such a talented bunch.

Fast-forward to the middle of July this year. I talked to Jim and he invited me to join them for camp one weekend. I signed up just as any other client would, and rode with the class. I suppose this was my official "interview". Also, it was a chance for the coaches and other crew to spend the weekend with me as a person. This is a small company. Personality, I have learned, is very important with this group. And it makes sense. Not only is staff there to do his or her individual job, but they also work together while in camp and serve the clients' every need. Jim has built a training center that not only trains well, but offers the utmost in hospitality and service.

I rode all the skills and drills with everyone, often helping people pick up their bikes, and having a great time with everyone. There were two women in that class. Erin Hunter Sills is a 12 time national and world champion in land speed racing, and she and her husband hold two Guinness World Records in the same. I thought meeting her was pretty badass, as I had heard her name before and I found out that weekend that she is just one cool chick. The other woman, Tara, had ridden her 700GS all the way down from northern Alberta, to give herself a birthday gift of the RawHyde class and High Rockies Adventure which followed. She took a couple of good tumbles, but her chin and attitude always stayed high, and both women came away with new skills and love for off-road adventure.

Coaches Dusty and Trev talk about body position and braking. Why does Jim Hyde's butt look so much better in riding pants than mine does...?
Coach Sean Thomas talks with clients about the beautiful surroundings, the joy of motorbiking, and beer. Cuz that's how we roll.

Two moments that weekend made me smile bigger than any other (and to be honest, I don't think I stopped smiling the entire weekend). At the end of the first day of training there is a tough turns drill that puts together all the skills clients have learned that day. It's a tough one. Sometimes people can accomplish immediately, and sometimes it takes a little more work and a little more time to get it right. The class that day was divided into three groups of seven, each with its own coach. I was the first to attempt the drill, and accomplished it with no trouble. The same could not be said for the other six. Each of them struggled, but by the end, all but one were able to get it done. At one point while one person was making his second attempt at the drill, two people behind me were talking quietly about the difficulty of the drill and one of them said, "It's so hard. But the girl was awesome." The other one agreed, and I quietly smiled in my helmet.

The second moment that made me smile really big was when I walked out of the building back at camp, at the end of the day on Sunday, and heard Tara telling one of the coaches that I was her hero. She looked at me-- I'm sure I had a surprised look on my face--and repeated it for me to hear. I gave her a hug and said thank you. I was truly touched.

As it turns out, I guess I passed the test. Jim rode in on Sunday, leading a Continental Divide Tour, and we were able to sit down Monday and talk. He invited me to join the company as a coach-in-training, and we were also able to talk about women in big bike, off-road motorbiking. He has decided to add a weekend to the summers' camps that would be a "Women's" weekend. I was very excited about this idea, and his manager, Leah, and I talked about the idea of making it a kick-ass ladies' weekend.

I returned to Hartsel and the facility at the end of August to officially begin my coaches' training. There was one other coach-in-training, Matt as well as Dusty, Trev, and Mark from Colorado, and Kerry who came in from California as the fourth coach for the weekend. There were the six of us and 26 clients! What a fun weekend!

My own private campsite at RawHyde--Aspens by day, amazing sunset by night.

Before Friday night was finished, I had been approached by and spoken with each of the women who were in the class. I was excited to see three there, knowing that each year these numbers were going to get bigger and bigger.

GS Lifestyle indeed!

Saturday morning, before we headed out to start training, one of the clients said, "Hey, I recognize you! You write a blog that I found a couple of weeks ago. " I was excited to hear this. I know this blog gets a lot of hits, and I know that I get personal messages and emails from people about it, but I'm always excited to meet someone in person who has found it.

Sunday at lunch, I finally got a chance to talk to one of the clients about the t-shirt he was wearing that day. It was a RMAR Rendezvous 2013 shirt. I asked Brad if he had been to any others, and he replied he had only been to that one. I said that was the only one I had missed, and if fact the Big Bike Easy Ride at he 2012 Rendezvous was what made me fall in love with off-road motorcycling.

Brad's eyes got really big, and he said, "I know who you are!"

Uh oh.

He explained that he and a couple other guys had been on the Big Bike Easy Ride the year after I was, and partway in, stopped and told Big John, the ride leader, they thought they were in over their heads. Big John's response was to tell them about this small woman on a GS, who had come to the even all on her own and never ridden off-road before. He went on to describe how I had crushed that ride on street tires, and shamed them into continuing on. Brad said he and a couple guys eventually bailed on the ride, and by the end of the day, though he didn't know me, he HATED me--he was glad to finally find out who "Louise" was.

He said he has hated me for the last two years--without actually knowing who I was--but that experience was part of what encouraged him to go to RawHyde. At graduation that night, as he came through the line of coaches, he hugged me and said he was glad he finally got to meet me. I asked if we were good, if we could be friends, and with a big smile he said yes.

Because I am not a great writer, I find I have a hard time finding words which are adequate in expressing my true feelings. There is no way for me to say this any better--RawHyde Adventure Training Camp makes me happy in a big way. Watching people, who are completely terrified to get on a bike and ride over uneven terrain to simply get to the training grounds, turn into smiling masters of his or her big bike by the end of the weekend is magical for me. I don't stop smiling the entire weekend. The setting is beautiful, the food amazing, the people even better.

Putting all the new skills together at the end of the weekend!
RawHyde makes my heart smile!





14 August 2015

RawHyde Colorado--Women's Camp September 5, 2015


RawHyde Colorado has announced its first training camp dedicated solely to women! Happening the weekend of September 5, RawHyde looks to bring it's excellent training to the ladies. This is an excellent chance to sharpen skills and learn how to control that bike of yours, in an atmosphere of female comeraderie.

Check it out!

I had the opportunity to be in camp when Tara Mitchell (see comment in above picture) took the class on her F700GS. Though she had ridden for years, she came from a background of street riding, and off-road riding was new to her. Within the first day of training, her skills soared and so did her confidence. Of course, it helped that she had the right attitude and was ready to learn. She lives in northern Alberta, and after her ride home--that's right, she rode that bike down from the uppermost part of the province and back!--she is ready to continue putting her skills to use in the real world.

I truly wish I had known about RawHyde when I began off-road riding. I learned the way most people do--getting a capable bike and putting my unknowlegeable self into tough situations. In a conversation with Jim Hyde--the owner of RawHyde--I told him I learned the wrong way. The way I learned has put more women off riding than made them want to do it more. RawHyde is training the RIGHT way.

Why train with all women? There are a couple of reasons for this:

First, there are many women out there who have taken up riding to be able to accompany their spouse, SO, friends, etc., but have missed out on the basic fundamentals that can make them feel safer in their riding and have fun at the same time. And after all, isn't FUN the reason we are out there?

Second, I had no idea, NO IDEA, there was such a large number of women riders out there riding solely with the men they learned to ride from or on their own. This was me. Go ahead and browse back through previous blog posts and see how many women appear. Far too few. I have recently found a group of women to ride with, and HOLY SHIT! We have fun. We enjoy ourselves, support one another, and nobody feels the need to out ride anyone else. We have FUN!

I would also like to point out that although this is an official BMW training company, it is not required that you have/ride a GS. I've seen everything from a Yamaha XT250 to V-Strom 1000s in camp. Of course, every make, model, and year of GSs make an appearance regularly like my old girl! The other option one has is to rent a GS there. If you've thought about big-bike riding, adventure riding after years of street or little-bike dirt riding, this is a good way to see what you might like in the way of a bike.

I have one final thing to say about this. I loved my GS from the moment I bought her, however, when I learned the potential she had--and that I had as a rider--in off-road situations, I loved her even more. Ninety percent of the U.S.s roads are unpaved. RawHyde's goal with their Intro class is to make you feel confident in handling 80% of those. Think of everything you can see from that seat--that's definitely worth a weekend!

If you are interested, go to:


for more information on the company and training camp,

Or here to express interest in attending a training camp



P.S.--they have amazing food and there's beer and wine too!









Keywords: motorcycle, 1200GS, 800GS, 700GS, 650GS, training, off-road, adventure, dirt, dirty girls, Rock On, Badass, counter balance, BMW, Yamaha, KTM, Suzuki, Kawasaki, GS Trophy


12 August 2015

Horizons Unlimited--Grant, CO

"Going around the world on a motorbike is just the most amazing fun!" This was the first thing Lindsay Knapkin said in The Acheivable Dream: Ladies On The Loose, a film produced by Grant and Susan Johnson--Horizons Unlimited. I bought this film a few years ago, not long after I read Lois Pryce's books, Lois On The Loose and Red Tape and White Knuckles. It is a hilarious and inspiring film, and it made me want to get to know this huge group of people who also think traveling by motorcycle is the best way.

Horizons Unlimited has numerous events around the world each year, mostly dedicated to bringing travelers together for seminars and presentations pertaining to traveling the world by motorcycle. The Colorado event is slightly different than all the rest--it is a riding event. Thought there are presentations in the evening, the point of the Colorado event is to get out and ride. This year, base camp was at the Terry A. Gross (Geneva Creek) campground in Grant, CO. Most people came in on their bikes--of ALL varieties, though adventure touring bikes made up the majority--checked-in, and set up camp Friday afternoon/evening.

Loaded up and ready to roll. It was in the 90s when I left Denver--I was ready to get out of town!
Thumper on the right, Grant and Susan's new-to-them GS on the left, and a Harley in the middle.

The campground has a beautiful area, across a rickety bridge, where we were able to set up tents along the river. They didn't allow cars across the bridge, but we were told we could ride the bikes across, and by the end of the evening, the was nothing but motorcycles and tents as far as I could see. For future reference, please note the campground has pit toilets but no water--campers must bring their own.

I mean, come on! This is a beautiful site!
Josh drove the MINI that weekend because we were dog sitting. Oliver got to go camping with us!

Friday night, after we had all eaten bar-b-que made by the locals, Fritz Sampson gave a presentation on his trip from Ireland to Mongolia. He had some nice pictures and fabulous video which accompanied his stories of being on the road, meeting people, and conquering the dreaded border crossings.

This guy rode his Harley down with some friends, but before they left, he decided he didn't have enough space for everything he wanted to bring. So, he fabricated this box for his bike.
Ready to roll Saturday morning. Several of these riders split from us at Jefferson, and we rode on to catch a larger group at the summit of Boreas Pass.

Saturday morning, we awoke to a beautiful day. I would only be able to ride part of the day as I had a wedding to attend that evening. Listening to where people would be riding, I decided I wanted to hop in on the Boreas Pass ride. The group would be going on to do other riding, but I would be able to blast home in time to get cleaned up and go to my friend's wedding.

This is Charlie from Boulder. This pic shows that Boreas is relatively smooth, but I was still amazed to see Charlie bumping down the pass. Pic by Fritz Sampson
Wide open, easy road. Beautiful scenery abounds on Boreas Pass and I loved every minute of it. Pic by Fritz Sampson

Boreas Pass goes from Como, off 285, into Breckenridge on highway 9. It is an easy pass to ride, even if you're on a chopper. This is a pass I could easily do in a top gear, but it tends to have traffic on it. Any car can make it easily to the summit and back down, as it is well maintained. There is even a place in Como where one can stop and pick up a guide for a self-guided tours. Numbered markers along the way correspond to different historical facts, and this is a popular place to escape to for a weekend drive.

Fritz Sampson--this was his first real riding since breaking a bone in Mongolia and having to end his trip early. We had a really nice day on our F650GSs!
Plan B--1150GS
Fritz and I have cousin F650GSs--mine is the older, more beat-up cousin.

When we got to Breck, we rode over Loveland Pass to the Loveland Ski Area and on to Georgetown. I had never ridden that pass, but I thought it might be a nice substitution for the interstate. It was a great road, and the summit had amazing views. In Georgetown, Fritz and I had lunch together, before we went our separate ways--Fritz over Guanella Pass to camp and me back to Denver and a wedding.

After the wedding, I managed to get back for two presentations, one being Grant and Susan's story of riding around the world from north to south. They had many pictures and good stories to tell. For being a couple of mild-mannered Canadians, they sure know how to have adventures! As the presentations ended, a number of us hung out around the campfire, enjoying beer and some music by two people I'm not sure any of us knew.

Wanda on her nearly new V-Strom. She went from a Yamaha V-Star 650 to the DL650, and is just getting to know her bike. But, it sounds as though this woman likes to ride as much as I do!
Stephen--he rode Mosquito Pass on his Super Tenere. When I asked him about the ride later that evening, he smiled, shook his head, and said it was a challenge. After riding Mosquito recently, I am super impressed.

Sunday was the end of the event, and people packed up and slowly headed out. It's hard to describe the feeling I have as I see campgrounds emptying and people rolling out, but I usually feel a heaviness in my heart. I know that I will see some people again in the future, and I know that I will have enjoyed the company of people I may never see again.

Luckily, I was able to hook up with three other people to enjoy a fun ride home--Livio on an 1150GS, Sawyer on a DR650, and my friend Dusty Wessels on his 1200GS. We rode over Guanella Pass into Georgetown, where Dusty and Livio traded bikes for a short time. The plan was to ride the frontage road, missing Sunday I-70 traffic, into Idaho Springs, where we would pick up Oh My God Road.

On the frontage road, since we weren't riding very fast, I rode with my visor up. Boy was that a bad idea! There I was, pleasantly riding along, when all of a sudden a large insect hit me square in the nose and exploded on my face. EXPLODED! I could feel bug guts all over my skin, and they speckled my sunglasses. Thankfully, Dusty pulled off the road a few minutes later and I was able to examine the carnage. Whatever color the bug was on the outside, he was bright orange on the inside. There were streaks of orange guts across both cheeks, and covering my nose. I hastily wiped it away thinking, "Ew, ew, ew eeeewwwwww!" When I tried to wipe the lenses of my sunglasses clean, the sticky orange guts spread across the plastic in a film, and I had to resort to spitting on them to get them clean.

Ah, the glamorous motorcycling life....

As planned, we picked up Oh My God Road in Idaho Springs. If you live in Colorado and have never ridden it, you should. It is a short road which, paired with Two Brothers Road, takes you into Central City. The views are magnificent, and I imagine that if it is done in a car or large truck, one may say "Oh My God!" as they look over the steep drop offs. On a motorcycle, it is just fun to ride the road looking across the valley and at the beautiful color of the rock and mineral on the sides of the mountain.

Dusty and I split from Livio and Sawyer in Blackhawk, and rode on to Nederland. The Sunday traffic was annoying, so we cast aside plans to continue on the Peak to Peak highway, and had lunch in Nederland at a brewpub. As we perused the menu, I said I was ordering nachos and Dusty said he was ordering wings--let's share! We agreed, remembering we had decided on the same thing in a brewpub in Moab last April. It's becoming a thing. Following our lunch, we rode to Lyons together, and then split, heading in opposite directions. It had been a good day, and a nice end to yet another fun Colorado summer weekend.

Sawyer, Dusty, and Livio in Georgetown. Guanella had nearly no traffic on it, and we had a fun ride heading over the pass.





01 August 2015

Trail Time In Colorado

I got back to Colorado late afternoon on Friday. My little cat followed me around as though she were my shadow, not even pretending to be mad at me for being gone. Though I had been riding long miles for three solid days through the desert and high country of Colorado, Saturday morning I got up, did some basic maintenance on the bike, and took off for an event in Longmont, Colorado.
Wolfman Luggage was having an open house with deals on luggage, other vendors on site to talk to, a raffle, lunch, and a viewing of the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route DVD. I own several pieces of Wolfman Luggage, and I not only love the products themselves, I love the company and the role it plays in the community and economy. The owner actually rides--he has been to many of the RMAR events and donated goods, which means he actively puts money back into trail preservation--and the gear is manufactured in the United States. Because of his ties with RMAR, I happily ran into other people with whom I have previously ridden, shared steaks and beers with, and sat around campfires with while there. I didn't know what to expect from the IDBDR DVD, but it was a great look at what the route holds scenically and road-wise. I'm looking forward to riding up there next year.
While at the Wolfman Open House, I ran into a fellow RMAR event rider, Dan Wilson, and we briefly discussed heading up to Rollins Pass after the video was over. I, however, had worn jeans and no riding pants, while he wore hiking boots and not motorcycle boots. We decided it was probably not a good idea to tempt fate. Rollins Pass is an easy trail, but one never knows when a root might jump out of nowhere to pull you off the road or break your foot....
The next day, I still had Rollins on my mind, and Josh and I decided we would head up that way. It was a gorgeous day, and perfect for getting out of hot Denver and into the mountains. We made it much further this time than we did when we were the in April--check that blog post for pics of bikes in snow if you haven't already seen it--and there was little traffic to have to contend with.
At the lake, about four miles from the summit.
Easy trail with lovely scenery. I mean, it is Colorado after all!
The only tough part of the trail. About halfway between me and the end of the snow is a boulder that I needed a hand getting my rear wheel over. No problems coming down though--gravity wins!


That is SNOW. In my footpeg. In JULY!
This awaited us near the top of the pass. We couldn't go up to the tunnel.

Unfortunately, the simple fact of it being the middle of July did not mean there would be no snow. I know, you would think so, right? We were able to make it through one berm, but the second one stopped us--and anyone other than hikers or mountain bikers carrying their bikes--from going to the top. The following week, after posting these pics for the Front Range Dual Sport Riders group to let them know what current trail conditions were, a group decided they would head up to show me how it was done. Conveniently for them, the berms had shrunk considerably over the week, and they were able to post pictures up at the top for me to see. We had been one week early....

The next weekend, we would be attending the Horizons Unlimited event in Grant, CO, but between the weekends, as we had little planned, we went out on one more day ride. We headed south on 285 to Bailey, where we turned to head toward Wellington Lake. The road down is a wide, easy dirt road I have ridden before, and we flew down enjoying the mid-week lack of traffic. At one point, we slowed as we passed a very large group of teenagers on mountain bikes, miles from anything, or so it seemed. All I could think of as I went up the following group of rising switchbacks, was how glad I was to have a motor under me!

The last time I rode that way was a couple of years before, with Ian and Josh. In fact, it was the first time I did a water crossing on my bike, and they took me that way just so I could do one. That time, after doing the water crossing, we headed back towards highway 67, through the Pike National Forest, to Pine and home. This time, however, we kept heading south, riding miles south through wilderness and burn area, until we hit highway 24. It was a very easy dirt ride with gorgeous scenery. It made me thankful that I leave the pavement and get to see all that is out there.

Remember, people, you don't get to see this unless you leave the pavement. FYI--although I prefer to do it on a motorbike, most of this road is fine for vehicles. Hell, I could have driven the MINI on much of it.

Remember, 90% of the roads in the United States, and 95% of the world's roads are unpaved. You're missing a lot if you don't leave the asphalt!


22 July 2015

Homeward Bound

Having to spend so much time waiting for my bike to be repaired squashed my plans for creating a new route home by going north on Highway 1 to the Oregon border, then heading east from there. So, I set out early on a Wednesday morning and rode through California, Nevada, and Arizona, before finally stopping for the night in St. George, UT. It was a long day--close to 600 miles--with many breaks. The first half of the day was no sweat, but the second half was literally all sweat.

There was no sense in stopping before I did. Temperatures soared above 100 degrees in eastern California, and didn't begin to drop until the Virgin River Gorge in Arizona, and then Utah. I had been unsure of where I would actually be stopping that night, thinking it might be Mesquite, NV, but as I pulled into that town and felt the sun beating down on me mercilessly, I made for a Jack In The Box where I could order a soda and search for a hotel in St. George while enjoying some AC.

I made a reservation via Hotels.com, and since it was afternoon of the night I wanted to stay, they had a last minute deal with the Best Western Coral Hills, and I got a room for a great rate! I got into town, checked in, and immediately headed for the pool and spa. The hot tub really felt good on my weary muscles, and I relaxed before walking down the street to a pub for dinner. As I walked to the pub, I was reminded of the reason I always stay in Cedar City and not St. George. A car drove by, loaded with young men, and one of them yelled out the window at me. This wasn't your typical "Hey, baby!" kind of thing. It was actually violent sounding, and made me feel uneasy. In St. Fucking George, Utah.

I looked to the hillside behind the town to see the giant "D" which represents "Dixie" and the only thing I could think was, "Oh yeah, I forgot. The South plans to rise again in Utah..." No lie.

Anyway, food and beer at the pub was good, though they put something green in the hush puppies--spinach or broccoli?--which I though was just rude. No one expects hush puppies to be healthy. ZCBC's Red Altar Ale and a really beautiful spinach salad completed the meal, and I headed back to the hotel to pass out. The next morning,walking to the office to check out, I had to stop and take a picture of their signage. I gassed up, checked tire pressure, and headed out for a day of riding through southern Utah.

...in that order.

Although I wanted a new adventure and a new route, I was not unhappy to be riding through southern Utah. The beauty of the state never fails to amaze me, and this trip was no different. I stopped at a number of different "view areas" at which I never before stopped. It gave my body a chance to take a break, and I got to see some beautiful scenery.

I always imagine there are little families of birds and animals living in the holes in the rock, and that they all come out at night when no one is around and have neighborhood gatherings. What? It could happen.
There was signage at this stop explaining that when the DOT began work on putting this highway through the canyon, a man could stand at that far end and touch each side of the canyon walls. You know, before they blew it up.

At Green River, I stopped to fill my tank. When I came out of the store, a man pulled up next to me on a KLR. I chatted with him for thirty minutes or so, while he lubed his chain and took a break. Chuck Tucker was fun to talk to, and explained that he was limping his bike along for the next 150 miles, trying to get to Salt Lake City on what were essentially shot chain and sprockets. I recommended he try Rocky Mountian ATV and MC for a new set once he got to SLC, and exchanged contact information with him. Had I not been trying to get home quickly, I think I would have enjoyed riding with him. Churck was riding from Tennessee, on and off with some friends. They would be going to Paonia, then on to Billings, MT for the BMWMOA rally. Though he is usually a Goldwing guy, he and his GS riding friend bought KLRs the summer before to ride to Alaska. We shared stories of our Alaska trips, shared hugs and good wishes, and set out in opposite directions. I got a text the next morning letting me know he made it safely to SLC, and was in good hands with his friends.

Chuck, riding the country with Pracilla the Possum and A LOT of luggage!

I left Green River and kept heading east, smiling when I got to the Colorado state welcome sign. I stopped in Fruita, at the Colorado Visitors Center--across the parking lot is the Vietnam War Memorial. I sat in the park and hit Hotels.com again to find a hotel in Grand Junction. A man walked by with his very cute little dog, and as I played with her, he asked me about my bike.

Before he walked away, he said, "It kinda looks like a dirt bike."

To which I replied, "I sometimes treat her like one!"

Colorado Visitors Center and Vietnam war memorial.

After making a reservation for a hotel--which, for the record, turned out to be neither as nice nor as inexpensive as my Best Western the night before...--I rode into Grand Junction, making my first stop the BMW dealership. Hey, you never know when they might have something you just can't live without--I'm looking at you 700GS. Actually, they didn't have a 700, so I wandered into the gear section of the store, spying the women's KLiM gear in the corner. It was like seeing the elusive white tiger! This was the first time I had set eyes on it, and you can damn well believe I was going to check it out.

As I walked--by which I mean noisily swished like a little kid in snowmobiling pants--over to the corner, a salesman I hadn't even seen said, "Did you buy your pants before the women's line came out?"

I stopped, looked at him smiling, and said, "Gee, how can you tell?"

"You look like you're wearing your big brother's pants."


I got my pants about a year before KLiM released the women's line, and I just couldn't bear to spend $500 more to have another pair of pants. But...there was no reason for me to not try on that jacket. The small fit like a glove, and the brilliant drapers/patternmakers at KLiM made the sleeves long enough. It was wonderful, and the fit of the sleeves was a winner in sharp contrast to my two Olympia jackets. In all fairness, prior to trying the KLiM jacket, the Olympia jackets had been the clear winners prior to that, and I have worn them both well for the last three and a half years. But, it may be time to move on... I did not spend the $569.00 right then and there to buy it, though I seriously though about it. Being currently unemployed probably had something to do with that decision.

BMW (and Harley and KTM) dealership in Grand Junction.

Arriving at the hotel, I thought I'd head down to the pool and hot tub again, but two things stopped me. The hotel had no hot tub--bad research job, Louise!--and a huge thunder and lightning storm. I managed to get everything into my room in time to avoid a soaking, but it rained, at times heavily, for the next two hours. I never got to the pool.

I left in the cool Colorado morning and rode east on I-70 until I turned southeast on highway 24. I rode this highway on the very first long-ish distance road/camping trip I did on Thumper, almost four years ago. The first time I rode it was within the first 200 miles on this bike. Now I've got more than 40,000 miles under me, and it's a completely different game! The scenery was beautiful--duh!--and I stopped in Hartsel for lunch. It wasn't too busy in the restaurant, and I sat at the bar to have my lunch, chatting with the bartender, Dan. I really recommend stopping here if you will be in the area for any reason. Food is good and people are nice.

There is a sweet little waterfall in the distance. This was a nice spot to stop and take in some gorgeous Rocky Mountain scenery.
Southern Utah may be beautiful, but Colorado is just as amazing!

Leaving Hartsel, I really began to feel the pull of home. I was ready to be back in Colorado, and done with this trip home. As soon as I pulled in, I left the bike completely loaded, cracked open an Oskar Blues Pinner, and sat petting my cat. She doesn't even pull the "I'm so pissed at you for leaving that I'm going to ignore you" bullshit that most cats do when their people get home from being gone for an extended period of time. But, she has one white whisker. My beautiful, all black cat, has grown one white whisker while I've been away from her. I think it's a sign I shouldn't leave her anymore. So for now, here in Colorado I shall stay.