Day 23 - 227 Miles - Mesa Verde

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

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Saturday, August 16, 2008

  Daniel here again,
We  started out the morning with breakfast at ... you guessed it, Joes favorite breakfast place, Denny's. Then we stopped at the local Yamaha Dealer, Handlebar Motorsports at 346 South Camino Del Rio, Durango, CO, and had them take a look at my bike as the oil light came on during that last hill. I was almost a quart low. They added synthetic and checked our tire pressures and we exchanged stories. They suggested we take this side trip through the mountains about 225 miles and helped us plan it out. They even printed out a map for us. The guys in the service department, Jeff, Jimmy and Mike were great fantastic at getting us on our way. They told us they take 4 wheelers up into the mountains and ride the trails all the time. Sounds like fun. We made a quick stop at the Durango Harley Dealership to see if they had the new rain suit for Joe. It compresses really small. We did come out of there with some great shots of a '49 panhead that was rebuilt and painted to look just like the one "Billy" rode in Easyrider. We even got our pictures taken on it.
Just when we thought we couldn't see anything more majestic; we rode through the Rocky Mountains and looped around 225 miles to Cortez. Much bigger and more awe inspiring. Imagine riding your motorcycle through passes where there are sheer rock walls 2000 feet high on either side. Places where the two lane road narrows and there is no guardrail and not even an inch to pull over with a sheer drop off of over 2000 feet. Not 200 I said Two Thousand Feet! No wonder Joe was hugging the center line. One slip and you're gone and they would probably never find you. To make matters worse it rained and hailed off and on. I thought it was hard to breath at 7000 feet. We stopped at overlooks that were 10,000 feet and over 12,000 feet above sea level. Walking a short distance up a little grade to get some pictures was taking our breath away. Literally. We  had to wear our leathers and warm clothes. There was snow on some of the peaks and in some of the valleys. They said that it even snows up there in July. Taking some of those sharp curves at 10 miles an hour made it look like those guys that race when the take a turn and their knees almost touch the ground. Then add a slippery wet road and you get the idea. Scary. We kept passing these bikers that are on a 1000 mile in 24 hours butt buster ride to earn a patch. No we were going the other way and didn't speed in any way. You couldn't. We passed through little towns that were amazing like Switzerland in America. Driving through you'd swear you were going through Switzerland. All the houses had Swiss style designs. Really cool Joe said that it was just like being in another country.
We feel crowded sometimes in our towns we live in and here you don't see anything for hundreds and hundreds of miles. We meet people who live here and are snowed in for the winter. Try 32 feet of snow. You really have to stock up for the winter with food, fuel and your own entertainment. They close the mountain. I can't see how these little towns survive being so isolated during those storms.
We made it through the ride late around 8:30 and it was dark. We stopped for the night in Cortez, Colorado. Seems like a big enough town but everything shuts down early. Even on a Saturday night. We had dinner at, you guessed it, Denny's. Only because it was right across the street from our Motel. We unloaded the bikes and covered them then cleaned up a little bit and hit the sack exhausted. It wasn't the miles; it was all those sharp turns and the stress of trying NOT to fall off the mountain that wore us out. Great day ... great ride.
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