Sunday, June 5th, 2011

1200hrs, Colorado Springs, CO
Checkout from hotel. Open bars don’t lead to early starts. I say my farewell to the friends I can find wandering around the lobby, tighten and lube the chain (which is starting to make it clear that it’s pretty much time to be replaced. I cross my fingers it gets me back to California safely). The Bellhop warns me of heavy police activity on my planned route.

1313hrs, Woodland Park, CO
I’m running late, and I’m supposed to be in Moab, Utah by tonight. I’ve made it 24 miles from the hotel. Progress for today is looking slow, and that’s an understatement. I’m quite hungry, so I stop in at McDonald’s for some much needed fast food. As it turns out, this is the most poorly managed McDonald’s I may ever have been to. There is a line to order, and then a very evident queue to pick up food. After waiting about 10 minutes in the queue, and noticing a few people who ordered AFTER my get their food, I mention that I still have not been served. I am given my meal immediately (and wonder why, if they can make it so quick on the spot, why there is a ~10 minute queue waiting for food). It takes this establishment approximately 10x as long as a normal McDonald’s to serve me. Things are not looking good in terms of making it to Moab.

1400hrs, Just outside of Florissant, CO
I decide to pass some slow moving traffic on an open, clear section of road, despite the fact that it is not a legal passing zone. As I’m passing the final car, I notice there are two motorcycle cops sitting talking to each other in a rest area. I hope they don’t see me.

1402hrs, Florissant, CO
They saw me. Things are REALLY not looking good for making it to Moab on time. Given a ticket for an illegal pass. This is my first ticket ever while touring. Only my second ticket ever on a Motorcycle.

1456hrs, Hartsel, CO

1553hrs, Independence Pass, CO
After making an accidental detour to Leadville, CO thus making me run even MORE late, I finally make it up Independence Pass. There isn’t too much tourism right now, but I find the road to be mediocre, the traffic still relatively heavy (especially on the West slope) and the views to be marginal. This truly is a destination just to say “I’ve been on the highest paved mountain pass in the US.” I am now back in the Pacific watershed, more specifically, the Colorado River watershed.

Independence Pass - Highest paved mountain pass in the United States

Shameless product plug - When It Pours at Independence Pass for more info on my line of waterproof sleeves for portable electronics.

1738hrs, Basalt, CO
Fuel Stop

I get some much needed food at the local Subway and call my contact in Moab to tell him that I’m not going to make it tonight. Too bad. At this point I’ve accepted that I’m not on schedule, and that I’ll only get one night in Moab rather than two. It’s OK, because I would rather enjoy the ride and be late than constantly feel rushed. Now I just need to find a nice place to sleep…

I make some wrong turns, and end up on I-70 before I go on the Great Mesa Scenic Byway. Damn. Luckily I know exactly where the turn-off is for this road on I-70. I only spend ~30 miles on the highway, and luckily some of it is actually nice driving.  Seriously, I-70 through Colorado isn’t that bad as far as interstates go, but I’ve done this section of road twice before, no need to do it again.

1949hrs, Powderhorn, CO
After some much needed empty, twisty road, I stop in at Powderhorn Ski Resort to see if there’s any off-season lodging. The place is dead and reminds me slightly of The Shining. This will not be my safe haven for the night, however, it does provide a nice sunset.

Sunset as viewed from Powderhorn Ski Resort

2032hrs, Grand Mesa, CO
It’s cold on top of Grand Mesa. I also didn’t realize I would be at nearly 11,000 ft elevation here. It’s dark, and I want a warm hotel. I wouldn’t say I’m miserable, but being low on fuel (my reserve light came on just after leaving Powderhorn), seeing ample numbers of wildlife, and riding at night through snow-covered fields isn’t what I’d like to be doing right now.

2058hrs, Cedaredge, CO
As I’m dropping off of Grand Mesa, I see what looks like a nice safe haven. It’s a motel style establishment, which I’m always just a little wary of, but the ambiance is warm and inviting. The wonders of technology allow me to check a Yelp Rating before actually walking in and booking a room. 4.8 stars (or more?) out of 5, and the cheapest room for $69/night. Ok, a bit more expensive than I would like, but comes complete with glowing reviews.

Cedaredge Lodge, in Cedaredge, CO should be a destination for anyone in this part of the world – Especially couples. No, it’s not the cheapest room, but when a Motel 6 is going for $50/night in Grand Junction, and this place is only $20/more per night, I guarantee that the $20/night will be worth it.  Complete with hot tub, babbling brook, game room, massage room, home-cooked meals, and – if you’re really lucky and get there the day after a wedding – free beer!

With a beer, in a hot tub, loving life!

Onward to Moab, Utah tomorrow…