Potato Ranch Rally 2011

Six days of leave.  In a row.  No Blackberry.  No phone calls.  1866 miles on the Concours  (1670ish for Kelly, since I rode solo between here and Tucson and then back after the rally).  One minor mishap (more about that later), but no injuries and no significant issues with the bike.  We left last Thursday, and headed up to Moab, UT for our first overnight.  Since they’re up at the campground for the summer, we met with Kelly’s parents in Flagstaff for lunch.  I need to do a little basic instruction with Kelly’s mom so she’s not so intimidated by the big SLR, but she still did fine shooting our first ‘all kitted up’ photo for the trip:

On our way up through Monument Valley, we were amazed by the mesa formations, some of which looked way too orderly not have been man-made.  Since we were headed to Arches National Park on Friday, we weren’t impressed enough however to stop and take any photos.  Until we passed a group of bikers who were all pulled over.  I slowed down, and the first guy returned my ‘thumbs-up’ question, indicating everything was fine.  The second guy was messing with his camera, which made me look in my mirrors for the first time in a couple of miles.  Yeah, now we were impressed enough to stop and take a photo:

We went up through Kayenta, and then on to Mexican Hat.  Interesting name for a town, thinks I.  Um, right… there’s a reason it’s called that:

On into Utah.  Shortly after hitting the border on whatever State Route we were on, we dropped down into a little valley, and I was once again impressed enough to pull the bike over and get out the big gun:

The Super8 in Moab was the least expensive place in town, but not a bad place to stay.  The bed was decent, and we’d both definitely recommend the northern of the two Chinese places in town, as they deliver, and their fried rice and lo-mien noodles are most excellent.  Especially when you don’t have to leave your room after being on the bike for just shy of 600 miles. The next morning, I realized the BMW F650 parked out front belonged to one of our rally-mates, Clair.  He was headed straight over, and when I walked out the door, was talking to Todd, who was about an hour out of Moab on their way through.  Todd has a ‘new’ Ural, and was apparently not making as good headway as he wanted to.  We asked if he and Testcase (I can’t remember his real name, and everybody’s screen name, real name, and what they ride were used mostly interchangeably over the weekend) wanted to stop in Moab for lunch, since we were heading back into town after hitting Arches for the morning.  No dice, the Ural isn’t making good time, so they’ll just press on, maybe we’ll catch them on the way.

Arches NP was great, and I finally convinced Kelly to take the point-and-shoot and take photos from the back seat of the bike.  She did okay on Friday, and really got some good shots when we got over to Mesa Verde NP later in the weekend.  Here are all the shots from Arches, commented on as applicable:

With the desert being so brown, desert flowers are really, really beautiful:

More desert flowers:

Kelly in front of Turret Arch:

The north and south Window arches:

Yes, we were really both there:

Do not adjust your monitor.  The arch is crooked.  Yes, you’ve probably seen pictures of the Delicate Arch before, and they’re usually taken from the end of the hiking trail (where you can see people behind the arch).  After hiking all around the Windows and Turret arches in MC gear, we weren’t really interested in the 2-hour hike to get the up close photos, so we went down to the ‘closest to the parking lot’ viewing area, and were glad I brought the 18-200mm zoom lens.  Most images I’ve seen of this arch are ‘corrected’ with the top of the arch running parallel to the top of the image, and the bottom only appearing slightly tilted.  The camera was dead level for this shot, and you can see how slanted the ground and arch really are.  Pretty cool really:

We then went back through Moab and headed on to Durango for the rally.  The sooper sekrit surprise guests (Overcaffeinated and MN Smurf, again, board names) were already there, as well as Clair, and the other UT bubbas, who had arrived only minutes before us.  Apparently the Ural was having some issues doing anything above 65mph, or rather, the Todd was having problems getting the crap beat out of him by the Ural whenever he tried to drive it over 65mph.   As usual, the CO crew (coming from IN STATE) arrived last.

Charlie’s new bike, while not as freakishly tall as the KTM (Charlie is still his freakishly tall 6’7″ self…), was still quite high for Clair:

Heather checking out Jo’s new Spyder:

The CO crew rolling in:

The larger-than-ever tent city:

After a bit of milling about, it was time for almost everyone to pile into the available cages and roll down to dinner.  Just as we got there, the train rolled through town:

Small world: The manager at the restaurant had parked his vehicle behind the place, and as Kelly is pointing out, might have come from our neck of the woods:

(Kelly teaches at Pima, and is a grad student at UofA)


In the morning, I was (not unexpectedly) the first one up.  I showered, made coffee, and then proceeded to arrange all of the bikes out on the parking pad.  Mae had left her forks locked, so the second row all got arranged around her SV, but otherwise it was pretty easy.  Why rearrange the bikes?  Bike Pr0n!

Anything wrong with this picture?

The next morning, we all rode down into town for breakfast.  Here’s Clair doing the pre-ride brief with everyone:

At the first stop, there was some snow in the parking lot.  Yep.  Snow.  Gotta love being over 10,000′ elevation:


Charlie and Heather horsing around:

A Touron, most inappropriately dressed for the weather:

Kelly and I at Molas pass:

The required ‘everybody picture’ atop Red Mountain Pass:

We then rode down into Ouray for lunch, where I screwed up the parking, and stopped about 3 blocks from the sandwich shop we at at last year.  Oops.  Most of us walked back up the hill while waiting on our lunch orders to come out and moved the bikes down to the front of the shop.  The locals were interested in what all these unruly bikers were up to:

We then rode on to Lizard Head Pass, where the view was incredible again this year.  Brian (RedheadRider) checking out the scenery:

Freakishly tall Charlie cheesing it up:

Rebecca then decided to do some Yoga poses while on the seat of her bike.  This one worked, the inverted somethingorother position she tried next had no pictures taken, since we were all rushing to catch her and the bike before it fell over:

Kelly doesn’t like her picture taken, but I think she looks great on camera:

We then all loaded up and motored back to the ranch for brisket, bonfire, and MONKEY RIDES!

And to end the night, Russian Monkey Driveby!

The next morning we loaded up and headed off with Smurf to go check out Mesa Verde NP.  By this time, Kelly had gotten pretty decent at shooting pictures off the back seat:

This one was shot from the pull-off just past the entry point, which Google had correctly placed at approximately 35 miles from the ranch.

What Google didn’t tell us was that the road from the entry gate to the actual cliff dwellings was 20 miles long!  We went first over to Spruce Tree House, which was one of the two areas for which tours were self guided.  Had we gone over to Long House, it would have been another 7 miles down a different road.  What was very cool was that this was possibly some of the best corners on the best pavement of the entire weekend.  The $15 entry fee was worth it for the road and the views, much less the cliff houses.  When we got to Spruce Tree House, we got buzzed by a couple of Mountain Bluebirds.  This picture doesn’t even begin to do their coloration justice.  Nearly iridescent.  This was one sitting in the shade, and it’s still crazy blue:

We then spent the better part of an hour walking around looking at the site.  This spot was about 90% unrestored, as it wasn’t all looted out (like Cliff Palace apparently was).

Some painting on one of the walls:

Kelly climbing down into the Kiva which had been reconstructed by the Park Service in front of the original structure:

Tool sharpening area on one of the rocks:

A grain grinding spot.  Apparently grinding grain this way introduced more rock chips to the resulting flour than mill-ground flour done with rotating wheels (as was done in Europe), so the resident’s teeth were worn down much more quickly:

This spot was one of the reconstructed sections of Spruce Tree, as the center (discolored) section had apparently fallen in some time between when the occupants moved out and when the place was rediscovered.  It was reconstructed in order to keep the surviving upper section from caving in and becoming further damaged:

The upper section of this wall was dry-fitted (not mortared) and has been sitting that way undisturbed for around 700 years.

We then mostly squidded (I was wearing the required PPE… just not all the gear I had with me…) our way over to Cliff Palace, which required a ticket for the tour, but was mostly visible from the overlook above the site.  I shot a large series of shots which I then stitched into a panorama.  The image below is a very, very small version of the overall shot.  I have a larger (5000 x 1460) shot up on my Picasa album (link at end), but the full-size shot on my computer is around 114 megapixels.  Redonkulous amounts of detail:

Here’s the valley in which the Cliff Palace sits (the site is just off camera to my left):

And another shot proving we were there:

On the way back out, we saw two groups of horses just out grazing in the park.  The first were off in some trees, and we didn’t have a chance to get the camera out, but Kelly did manage to get some shots of the group which were across from the visitor’s center:

I had to get off the bike to get this shot on the way out, since the overlook where I shot it from had a bunch of bushes and crap between the parking spots and the view:

On the way back to the ranch, Kelly insisted that we stop and take a picture of this sign, as we had gone by it twice already in getting there and making the loop on Sunday:

We packed up after we got back to the ranch, and headed out for Farmington, to spend a night in a hotel bed before making the ~500 mile trip back to Tucson.  The minor mishap occurred as we were getting the bike down off the center stand before leaving.  We had not been too efficient in our repacking, and ended up with about 8 pounds or so moved back and up into/onto the topcase.  The bike was sitting at a slight slant to the right, so when we bounced down off the centerstand, the bike sprang back up and to the right… and I dropped it.  Combination of not having my feet down until both tires hit the ground and bad loading, and it was just more than I could hold up.  No pictures, as everybody was scrambling to get over and help us get it upright.  Minor scuffage to the fairing, back of the mirror, exhaust pipe endcap, and side case, but most importantly, no scuffage to either of us.  Picked her back up, got her over on the side stand, and resolved to repack everything when we got to Farmington.

We did move the aforementioned 8 lbs or so about 3 feet down and forward, which ends up making for a significantly more capable handling profile.  Which was a good thing, because the 30-35mph winds (with gusts to 50!) made the ride home enough of a hell as it was.  The fires in AZ combined with the wind made for a smoky trip through northwest NM:

Luckily for this guy, the crosswind was from the left, or else the windmill blade would have been a giant wing instead of a wedge shoving down on the trailer:


That’s it, and all the photos are available over at my Picasa album.




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