Day 22 - 287 Miles - Colorado Mountains

Trip Start Jul 26, 2008
Trip End Sep 24, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Friday, August 15, 2008

  Daniel here,
I woke up this morning at 3:30 am to an extremely loud thunderstorm. Mary said when these happen you have to get up and see it. I went upstairs to the sun room to watch and found Mary was already there watching.
The storm was clear across the sky from one end to the other. You could see about tem miles Major lightening and thunder so loud it shook the house. It even set of some alarms and turned on motion detectors.  It was a great show.
The morning started with Joe and I loading our bikes and getting ready to go. We realized it was pouring outside and Mary asked if we'd like breakfast before we left and maybe it would slow down by then. It was the first time I ever cooked with my chaps on.  Oh baby baby! I cleaned up and we were ready to go. It was in the low 50's out so we dressed heavily. Chaps, leather coat, gauntlet gloves and full face helmet. Pretty much as soon as we left it started pouring again. It got to the point that we were getting hit by large hail.
We met Trooper Rudolph Johnson who rides motorcycle patrol through the Canyon. He was originally from Maryland. He said he doesn't put his motorcycle away until about mid November here. What a great job! Patrol the Canyon on a cycle. The only bad part is that he has to work shift work and most weekends. Bummer! We exchanged some good stories. He also told us the two things to watch out for while traveling the Canyon. The first is falling rock and the second is wildlife especially mountain goats who will cause rockslides. The rain slowed and we rode through the Canyon which was an awesome winding ride through a deep canyon with a wild whitewater river down the middle. There were rafts on the river and an antique train on the other side doing sightseeing. Some of the rafts were set up for fishing. All along the route there were fishermen. It rained off and on.  We saw two mountain goats up in the hills but not close enough to do anything to us. We stopped at the end of the Canyon in the little town of Salida. Which means exit in Spanish. There was a restaurant called The Windmill which had the biggest helpings of food anywhere. Joe and I had the chicken fried steaks. Mine was with white gravy and Joe had his with mushrooms. One older gentleman ordered deep fried mushrooms. It was amazingly huge. He ate 1/2 and took 1/2 home. Joe and I got to sample them. They were so fantastic they should be featured on The Food Network. Our waitresses were Jesse who moved here 26 years ago from Pennsylvania and Kelsey who is 17 and lived in Salida all her life. (Word has it she may be on the next Olympic womans golf team.)   
We got hit with 2" hail again as we rode in the Sand Dune National Park and Preserve. Great pics. The clouds were coming over the mountains and closed in on us. We kept moving. We saw Elk. Two females and one large male with a rack that had to be 6 foot across or better. These Elk are taller than the bison we saw. Much taller. We wouldn't want to meet one in the middle of the highway after dark while riding.
Then we rode through the Rio Grande National Forest . Again the views were spectacular. You have to see the pics to appreciate it. 1/2 way through we stopped at Wolf Creek Pass for more pics which is where the Rio Grand National Park and the San Juan National Park meet. It is were the Continental great divide is. The average snowfall here is 38 feet. Not inches ... 38 FEET. We had pics taken of us  standing on both sides of the Continental Divide at the same time. You will see some magnificent photos here with stunning views and waterfalls in the photo section here. There were areas where we stopped for photo opportunities where there were sections of the mountain where there was 500 foot drop and then it was into the treetops below us which were another 100 to 200 feet high. You could see for 20 mles. It was amazing. We stopped to see a beautiful waterfall. The pictures do NOT do it justice.
We made it to the town of Durango around 9:45 pm settled into the Dollar Inn Motel and headed off to Serious Texas BBQ at the motel managers suggestion. They closed at 9 pm. Back to Denny's for some good old Chicken Noodle soup and a Superbird sandwich which was a hot turkey, cheese, bacon and tomato sandwich.  Lots of hot tea and some Ibuprofen. Another great day!
Daniel and Joe
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