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March 2011 Winter Trip to Tahoe – Snow initiation for Izzie

Over the next few days the snow continued to fall in Lake Tahoe. While we were loving the snow we weren’t loving the several hours of snow shoveling each day. There was no snow blower so we had to move all the snow by hand which really started to tweak my back. The snow was beautiful but the accumulation was getting a bit crazy.

Here’s a shot of the snow piling up to the height of my truck.. yikes!

Later in the day the city snow plow came by and cleared the streets so we took Izzie out for her first taste of snow. Prior to bringing her out on the snow we decked the dog out with snow booties and a jacket. (Yeah.. I know your probably thinking the dog has a full coat to keep her warm but keep in mind the temperature was in the 20’s)

During our walk we discovered that Izzie loves to bite snowballs

The following day Izzie graduated from walking on the snow covered streets, to walking on the snow covered meadow adjacent to the cabin.

March 2011 Winter trip to Tahoe

In mid 2011 Paige’s sister Jamie, and her husband Dave, bought a cabin in Lake Tahoe. Paige and I headed up in March of 2011 to check it out and to do some renovations.

We packed up the back of our truck to the rim with furniture, tools and gear and headed up hwy 395 from southern California.

The drive from our place to Lake Tahoe is about 10 hours. Even Izzie got bored on the drive up.

We stopped off at Mono lake to let the dog get here first taste of snow. Turns out she really likes to romp around in it.

When we arrived in Lake Tahoe we were amazed at how much snow was on the ground. (oops..the camera thinks it’s already 2012)

We unloaded our gear and turned in for the night. While we were sleeping an additional 6-10″ inches of snow fell overnight.

Here’s how close the snow accumulation is to covering up the 6′ fence in the backyard

Wanting to take advantage of the fresh snow, we grabbed some snowshoes from the cabin and headed out to the meadow just around the corner. The meadow parallels the upper Truckee river and sits between South Lake Tahoe and the lake itself.

It was our first time on showshoes, and we were pretty clueless as to how they should be properly used, but we had a blast

Sierra Nevada Motorcycle Trip – Day 7

At around 7:00 am I rolled out of bed listening to the roaring sound of the Downie River just outside my window.

I short while later I strolled downstairs to grab some coffee, juice and a bagel which I brought back to my room ate on the patio overlooking the river. It was a chili 40 degrees outside, which was unseasonably cold even for Downieville.

Shortly after 8:00 I hopped on my motorcycle and decided to do some exploring.  Last night when talking with the owner of the hotel, she showed me a map of the area which contained numerous off road trails for motorcycles, jeeps and bicycles.  I was pretty sure I saw jeep trail that started just a mile or so from the hotel so I headed out to see if I could find it.  Just a few miles from the hotel I saw a dirt road following the Downie river.

I headed up the dirt road and found that is branched in several directions. I randomly selected one of the roads and followed it for about 40 minutes.

I could not believe that dirt fire roads were just around the corner.  The paved roads around Downieville were at a 10+ and now I discovered the dirt was equally as impressive. Too bad I needed to leave in just a few hours, otherwise I would have explored more of the dirt.

After an hour or so of exploring I headed back to the hotel to find the hotel owner standing outside as I parked my motorcycle.  She noticed that there was a good bit of dirt on my tires and rims.. She smiled and said “I guess you found some of the trails I was showing you last night”.  It turns out that she owns a 125cc dirt bike and her son has a 250cc dirt bike and both of them ride the local trails frequently.

A short while alter I packed up my gear, checked out of the hotel and headed south out of Downieville.

I headed down hwy 49 towards the town of Nevada City.  Once again hwy 49 served up a healthy portion of incredible scenery.

About an hour later I rode through the town of Auburn and continued on hwy 49 through the foothills.  By now the terrain changed from pines to large towering oaks dotting the landscape.  Hwy 49 once again kept me grinning with non stop curves for the next several hours.

In the town of Jackson I stopped for a bit to eat and then headed east on hwy 88 which would take me up over Carson pass at over 8000 ft.  As hwy 88 unfolded I ascended higher and higher into the Sierras back into dense pines and awesome scenery once again.

There was a good bit of snow along the road in the higher elevations which made for some pretty damn cold riding.

Hwy 88 eventually intersected hwy 89 about 20 miles south of Lake Tahoe. I peeled off on 89 heading towards the lake. A short while later I found myself at the doorstop of the cabin belonging to my sister in law.

The cabin sits in a small neighborhood in South lake Tahoe which is bordered on 3 sides by national forest.  The forest sits between the cabin and the lake which means one can walk directly from the neighborhood, through the forest and down to the lake shore.  I had been told there was a trail that would take me to the lake, but had no clue where it was. Lucky for me a neighbor pointed me in the right direction when I inquired about the trail.  He also told me about another trail on the opposite side of the neighborhood that would take me to the lake in a different direction.

I headed out on the trail for about 45 minutes and found that it ventured into a vast area of pines and open grassland that meandered along the perimeter of the little trucker river which flowed down towards lake tahoe.

I never did make it all the way down to the lake, but that really didn’t matter.  The hike along the river and surrounding pine and grassland was incredibly relaxing. Hard to believe it’s right down the street.

Sierra Nevada Motorcycle Trip – Day 6

Wow.. what a day. The best day of motorcycle riding so far on this trip!

When we arrived in Downieville yesterday we thought it was an awesome town, but after hanging out for 24hrs we were more impressed than we anticipated. The town still hasn’t been tainted by any commercial development of any kind. No Starbucks, no McDondalds… nothing of the kind. There are only 3 or 4 places to eat, a handful of hotels and five or six small shops. The charm of this place is off the charts. I was told by a shop keeper that 100 people fill this town to capacity.

Noah and I woke up refreshed at 8:00 am having the best night sleep in a long time. We left the patio door of our hotel room open all night to allow the sound of the Downie river to pour into our room. The sound of the rushing water was absolutely amazing.

I said it yesterday but I’ll say it again, the Carriage House Inn is one incredible hotel. We woke up in the morning to find fresh brewed coffee, orange juice, yogurt and bagels waiting in the tiny lobby. We both filled our cups with java and lounged overlooking the river while we lazily geared up for the day.

We were the only ones in the hotel in the morning so I walked around the hotel and took a peak at the other rooms all of which were open to allow potential lodgers to select their favorite.

Today Noah and I will head in different directions. Noah will head to the coast and then travel south along the coast to San Diego and I will spend more time in the Sierras. At around 10:00 Noah took off west while I gathered my gear and checked in for a second night in a smaller room on the 2nd floor. I just couldn’t get myself to leave this place so I decided to hang around another day and do some more exploring.

After moving my gear to my new room, I headed west on hwy 49, picking up where I left off yesterday zooming down the smooth pavement flanked by a dense pines.

About 20 miles down hwy 49 I veered north and headed towards Lake Oroville.

Just shy of Oroville my GPS routed me onto some tiny rural roads.


After about 10 miles or so I ran into a road closed sign with a construction crew blocking the road. I spoke with one of the guys from the crew and he said the road would be closed for a few hours. This road was the only way to cut across to where I needed to go so I had no clue how to detour around the closed road. I asked the crew member if there was a way around and he said there was… if I didn’t mind a little dirt.

Dirt you say?..no problem.

He than rattled off a succession of info that was too much to absorb. “1/2 mile back turn right onto sumthin or other road, when you see a large boulder on the right look for a turn, hang a left then ride x number of miles till you see a bridge, then turn left…..right.. left, up, down, sideways, uturn….. “. OK.. maybe he didn’t say that exactly but his verbal description was too long to remember. All I remembered was 1/2 mile back turn right and hit the dirt. 10 miles or so later after turning a bunch of times I’ll be back on pavement.

So.. i doubled back and hit the dirt. My GPS showed the dirt road and it appeared that the GPS could route me on more dirt roads that would eventually take me back to pavement. I just followed the GPS hoping that it was leading me in the right direction.

The succession of dirt roads were pretty tame in terms of terrain.. which was just fine by me. As I rode I passed some fantastic scenery, scenery I would never had experienced had the paved road been open.


I did eventually end up back on pavement and was able to make my way to Lake Oroville, which was on my original route. I had not been to Lake Oroville since I was a kid when my grandfather took me fishing when I was probably 7 or 8. I remember bobbing around the lake in an inflated semi truck inter-tube while attempting to fish. The inter tube was our low tech version of a fishing boat.  I remember falling asleep while bobbing around and then waking up in a bunch of reeds a short while later after the current carried me into the brush.  I had not visited that memory in 30 years.. crazy how revisiting a place can jog a memory.

After drifting from that memory back to reality and the view of the road ahead.. I headed across Lake Oroville on Oroville-Quincy road heading up towards bucks lake.

The road climbs several thousand feet over 20 or 25 miles and eventually takes you back to the town of Quincy on the eastern side of the sierras. The road to bucks lake is un freakin’ believable! Turn after turn, after turn on butter smooth pavement. Lean left… lean right… lean left… lean right. This rythmic motorcycle dance goes on for a very long time. To add to the magic of this road is the fact that I only encountered 2 cars in just over an hour of riding. It was like I had the entire mountain pass to myself.

This road had only been open 2 weeks and still had a good amount of snow towards the top.

I eventually made it to bucks lake and snapped a few photos before continuing onto the town of Quincy.

After riding through Quincy I followed hwy 70 back towards the town of Graegle (pronounced Grey Eagle) and turned west onto the Gold lake Hwy that would take me over the mountains and back down towards the town of Sierra City which is just above Downieville on hwy 49. The Gold Lake hwy turned out to be an absolute gem of a ride. I ascended high into the mountains with snow periodically flanking the road. Once again there were almost no vehicles around. Only one other car passed me going the opposite direction while I rode the Gold Lake Hwy.

When the road peaked out in elevation I turned to see Gold Lake. Wow.. what in incredible alpine lake!

it was at gold lake that I took what is my favorite picture of the trip.

The highway took me past several alpine lakes and creeks flowing with fresh snow melt.

A short 15 minutes later I hit hwy 49 once again and headed south towards Downieville and my creek side room with a view of the Downie River and the bridge into town.

A short while later I found myself at one of the two places open for dinner… La Cocina De Oro Taqueria where I dined solo on the patio overlooking the river.

Sierra Nevada Motorcycle Trip – Day 5

Here’s a video summary of today’s ride.

At around 4:00 am we woke up to what we though was lightning… nah.. couldn’t be lighting. A few seconds later there is thunder in the distance… Uh oh.

A few minutes later Noah and I hear ….plink….plink….plunk……. the sound of heavy rain drops falling on our tents. You know when rain first starts and you hear really heavy drops falling slowly, then they steadily pick up speed? It was that kind of rain… or was it? The sound of rain was getting really loud… curiously loud. It turns out it was actually small hail. I opened my tent briefly and could see hail bouncing off the ground. Uh oh.. I left my tank bag with all kinds of stuff sitting outside and it was not getting pelted.

I climb out of my sleeping bag and rush out across the muddy ground to grab my bag. I didn’t bother to put on shoes or a jacket.. I just ran out half asleep. When I got about 3 steps out of my tent I realized it was freezing out there.. Holy Crap it was cold.. definitely in the 30’s. I grabbed my tank bag and scrambled back into my tent in about 10 seconds.

When the sun came up a few hours later, here’s what was left of the hail. Kinda hard to see in the minimal light

The agenda for today was to ride down hwy 49 through Downieville and then continue south on 49 to Placerville and find somewhere to camp or a motel to crash in. We packed up our gear and got rolling at about 9:00 am

We headed north on Hwy 89 and pealed off on hwy 49 towards Yuba pass.

Just over the pass we began to follow the headwaters of the Yuba river that meandered along side the road.

We descended down.. down.. down.. through smooth sweeping turns and dense forest.

We passed through the town of Sierra City as we descended towards Downieville. As we passed through Sierra City we both were thinking.. Wow! what a cool little town.

South of Sierra city the hwy followed the Yuba river which had now increased in size quite a bit.

A few miles later we crossed a narrow one lane bridge into the jaw dropping town of Downieville.

Have you ever rolled into a town and said to yourself Wow..what a cool little town! I could definitely find myself staying here. Well.. that’s exactly what we were both thinking so we ditched our plans to ride down to Placerville and grabbed a room in Downieville.

We found a room at the Carriage House Inn but were told by the person at the front desk that the room wouldn’t be ready for an hour or so. No problem.. we figured we would grab lunch and come back. The person at the desk recommend a cool restaurant back up the hill in Sierra city so we doubled back and rode up to the Mountain Creek Restaurant in Sierra City.

The restaurant has an outdoor patio with a creek running straight down the center!   Tables are staggered on either side side of the creek giving everyone a perfect view of the flowing water. If you ever ride down hwy 49 do yourself a favor and stop at the Mountain Creek Restaurant in Sierra city.

We finished up lunch and headed back to Downieville where we checked into the Carriage House Inn. We were given a room with a large patio directly overlooking the River and the narrow bridge leading into town. Here’s a few shots of the view from our room.

The room itself was impressive as well with tons of space, a huge bathroom and a small kitchenette. This is a must stay hotel if you visit Downieville.

Sierra Nevada Motorcycle Trip – Day 4

Here’s a video summary of today’s ride. Feel free to watch it instead of reading all the long winded info below.

Today started with a lazy departure at about 9:30 am as we rolled out and headed north along the east shore of Lake Tahoe on Hwy 89.

Once we reached the northern end of the lake we continued on 89 north toward Sierraville. Along the way we spotted a dirt road following the Little Truckee River so we hopped off the pavement and followed the dirt road for a while. A few spots of the fire road were pretty rocky so we had to flat foot it a few times to keep from getting knocked around.

A short while later we headed back to the pavement and continued north on Hwy 89 through Sierraville, Greagle, and Quincy. Hwy 89 transitions from dense pine, to open alpine prairie and back to pine several times as it heads north.

In the town of Quincy we stopped to grab some lunch at the courthouse Cafe. The staff in the cafe was really friendly and the food was pretty dam good as well.

After finishing lunch I asked one of the waiters if the campgrounds near bucks lake were open because that was where we where planning on heading. As I asked the waiter, a local who was eating lunch at the front counter said the campgrounds were all closed but if we continued north on 89 and hung a right just past Taylorsville there was a really nice campground along a creek that we should try.

So off we went another 20 miles north towards Taylorsville. Just short of the campground we stopped off and grabbed some supplies at the market, which was one of 3 buildings in the tiny town.

Just down the road from the market we found the campground. The campground was on a small creek like the guy in Quincy said, but it was a county campground with a racket ball court, pavement and buildings. We were looking for a primitive campground away from people and cement so we headed southeast on a road that we though would take us back towards hwy 89 where we spotted some cool campgrounds earlier in the day. The tiny sliver of pavement we were on lead us through some breathtaking scenery.

The road eventually teetered out and turned into dirt about 20 miles later. Our gps indicated that the road would head over a mountain pass back to the hwy, but after talking to an old guy at a small farm house at the end of the road he said the road probably had not been graded in a few years and we were taking our changes trying it. We decided to play it safe and double back the way we came in, heading south on 89 back to one of the campgrounds we saw earlier in the day.

We set up camp at about 6:00 and picked spot next to a creek with a healthy amount of water flow. The sound of the rushing water was just what we needed to wind down after a long day on the motorcycles.

As the sun set we started a fire and fired up the camp stoves to make some freeze dried beef stroganoff from our supply of camp food. We spent the rest of the night relaxing around the fire and listening to the rushing creek just a few feet away.

Sierra Nevada Motorcycle trip – Day 3

Had another great day in the Sierras. Feel free to read all the rambling below, or watch this 4 minute video which summarizes the day..

At around 8:30 we left Lee Vining and headed north on hwy 395 passing Mono Lake.

Just north of the lake we headed east towards Bodie, a ghost town about 10 miles off the hwy.  The road out to Bodie was a lot of fun, even more fun when the last few miles turned into dirt.

We spent a couple hours in Bodie checking out the sights.  Bodie is a town that was created during the gold rush years but eventually teetered out much like most gold mining towns.  There are a good number of completely intact buildings  in Bodie, some dating back to the late 1800’s.  A few of the buildings still have all the internal contents completely intact which is pretty impressive for such an old ghost town.

After checking out Bodie we headed back towards hwy 395 and diverted off the paved road to ride around on a few of the dirt roads that sprouting from the main route.

We cruised around for a while just kind of checking things out. At one point we startled a dear and it darted across the road ahead of us.  No collision potential at all but the deer did take us by surprise.

At one point when we were monkeying around in the dirt, I was rode next to my buddy Noah and I attempted to pass him on his left.  He was not aware that I was passing and just happened to switch lines in front of me just as I was about to pass.   I had to lock up my rear brake to avoid a collision, a collision that would have been my fault because I didn’t make sure he knew where I was before I tried to pass. No harm.. no foul… lesson learned.

It looked like one of the dirt roads we were on would have taken us all the way back to Mono lake to the south, but we wanted to head north during the day so we returned to pavement and hwy 395 heading north through Bridgeport and hwy 89 towards Monitor Pass.

As expected the ride over monitor pass was a blast. Long smooth 40 to 50 mph sweeping turns with a good measure of tar snakes to keep us on our toes.

At the top of the pass we found a dirt road heading north so we pulled off 89 and rode up fire road passing a really cool alpine lake.

A short while later we found ourselves on hwy 4 heading towards Ebbets pass.

o the top of the pass is one not to miss.  As you ascend the road narrows down, the middle stripe disappears and the turns get tighter. At the top of the pass you pop out at a fantastic lake that was still partially frozen.

At the top of the pass we doubled back and headed back down towards hwy 89. On the way down Noah spotted a patch of snow that he tried to ride across. A few feet across the snow his rear wheel sank in and he buried his rear tire in the snow.  He hit the throttle to try an dig out but his rear wheel just sank deeper to the point where he was able to hop off his bike and leave it standing by itself wedged into the snow.

We were able to yank the bike out in just a few minutes, but we had a good laugh.

After our little snow adventure we headed north on hwy 89 and eventually ended up in lake tahoe at the end of the day.

Sierra Nevada Motorcycle Trip – Day 2

Today we rode through Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, over Tioga Pass and on to Lee Vining in the eastern Sierra. Here’s a short video summary of the day.

The day started when we left the town of Three Rivers at around 9 am and headed through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The road into Sequoia was a lot of fun due to the numerous small tight turns but our fun didn’t last too long because we hit road construction and traffic after about 10 miles into the park. Although there was a bit of traffic it was still quite beautiful. Sequoia national park has some absolutely enormous trees which are really hard to capture in a picture.

After riding through Sequoia National Park we went through Kings Canyon and then made our way down towards Fresno (yuck). The ride down to Fresno was great..the ride through Fresno is a different story. When we hit Fresno it was 96 degrees which was quite a departure from the high 50’s we just left in Sequoia and Kings Canyon.

Heading out of Fresno we hit a bit of traffic heading towards Yosemite. Our biggest delay was due to a driver in an RV that refused to use any of the many turnouts. This guy had about 20 cars lined up behind him but just wouldn’t pull over. Oh well.. I guess it was just another opportunity for us to learn some patience.

We eventually made it into Yosemite national park and took a few hours to check it out. As expected, the view from the valley floor was amazing. I had been here a few times in the past but had never seen any of the waterfalls at full tilt like they were today.

After doing our site seeing we attempted to leave the park but found ourselves stuck in grid lock on the valley floor. A few times we sat so long that we turned off our engines and waited around for the parade of cars to move. Yosemite is a beautiful place, but can be quite a buzz kill due to the crowds and traffic.

We left the valley floor and headed up towards hwy 120.. Tioga Pass. Along the way we ran into this fuzzy guy lazily munching grass on the side of the road.

A few minutes later we headed east on 120 and spent the next couple of hours riding over Tioga pass towards Lee Vining. It was late in the day…and there were not many cars on the road which made for a very enjoyable ride.

Sierra Nevada Motorcycle Trip – Day 1

Ring……Ring…….Ring

(Me) “Hello”
(Noah) “Hey.. Jeff.. You want to take off on a motorcycle trip for a week in June?”
(Me) “Are you kidding me.. Of course!. One small problem however. You don’t currently have a motorcycle.”
(Noah) “No problemo.. I’ll have one in hand in a month or so. Just need to decide which one”
(Me) “Where are we going on this trip?”
(Noah) “Um… dunno… wherever”
(Me) “Sounds Perfect!”

About a month later Noah got his hands on a completely pimped out 2007 KTM 990 adventure. For those not familiar with the KTM 990 it is the ultimate do it all machine. It can do street like nobody’s business and it can hit the dirt and handle it with ease. His bike came with all the fixins.. crash bars, rear rack, luggage.. the whole sheeebang.

I’ll be joining Noah on my BMW f650 GS twin. Why the hell BMW decided to call the 800cc machine an f650 is beyond me…. but none the less, that’s what I’ll be riding.

A week or so before our departure we decided on a destination… the Sierra Nevada Mountains. There would be no set itinerary and no set destination during this trip. The idea was to pack our bikes with enough camping gear and supplies to be self supported if necessary. If we decide to grab a motel… great. If we decide to drive down a dirt road and camp.. that’l work too.

We decided to start our trip by meeting in Corona (a logical meeting place between our respective homes) at 8:30 on a Saturday. Noah left from San Diego and I geared up early at my home in Orange County. 45 minutes into my ride to meet up with Noah (and about 5 minutes from our rendezvous spot) I realized I forgot my Camelbak. (for those not familiar with what a Camelbak is… it’s a backpack/water hydration pack type deal). Since Noah and I were planning on doing some primitive camping on the trip, the Camelbak was imperative because it would be our only water supply at times. Realizing my blunder I headed back home (adding another 45 minutes), grabbed my Camelback and then headed back to meat Noah. I of course was late meeting him.

After our late start, we headed north on interstate 15 and then north on 395 through Adelanto (Yuck….) and past red mountain and Randsburg.

We took a left an InyoKern and headed towards Kernville on hwy 178.. things started to get better here.

After a brief Lunch we headed north out of Kernville, following the Kern river on Mtn Rd 99. What a great road. It pretty much follows the perimeter of the Kern river for 15 miles or so before it ascends into the southern end of the Sierras.

20 miles north of Kern (give or take), we turned right on hwy 190 and headed towards Camp Nelson. This stretch of road ascends into tall stands of pine and sequoia taking you up to over 7000ft! A short while later we descended through the tiny town of Camp Nelson on what is without a doubt the longest stretch of curvy road I have ever encountered on a motorcycle. The road twists and turns for over an hour as it descends down to 2000 ft towards the town of Springville. As an added bonus many of the turns had rubble and/or sand spread on the them which definitely kept us on our toes. There had to be a couple hundred turns and twists on this road. Noah and I had been riding for about 7 1/2 hours when we started the descent and when we got to the bottom we were hammered. It takes a lot of concentration and focus to descend on tight twisty roads.. but… it’s still a blast. It would have been even more of a blast if I had properly preloaded the rear suspension of my bike to handle the recently added weight of all the gear. I felt a bit squirly on the descent and didn’t realize how under sprung the rear of my bike was until I checked it at the bottom… what an idiot.

After reaching the bottom of our descent we ended up on the eastern flanks of California’s central valley in the town of SpringVille. It was about 5:30 PM at this point and was blazing hot.

The combination of heat and long day (about 10 hours of riding at this point) was taking it’s toll on us. After a short stop for a Drumstick (the ice cream type.. not the chicken leg type) at a local market we headed north and ended up on hwy 198 which took us north east to the town of Three Rivers where we stopped and devoured dinner at a small road side grub hut. Noah powered down a 1/2 rack of BBQ ribs while I opted for the standard issue burger and fries.

After dinner we called it a day at a grabbed a motel room in the town of Three Rivers. We were lucky enough to grab the last available room. Although we were lucky to get a room, we were unlucky because the temperature of our room was off the charts a
(I’m talkin’ serious heat here) and the A/C unit in the room didn’t work. To add insult to injury the ice machine was also dead. We were both hot, sweaty and baking from a long day on the bike and really wanted to cool down but that just wasn’t going to happen.

Here’s a little video of the days ride…

Oh well.. at least we have a room and it looks like there’s some sort of free continental breakfast going on tomorrow. We’ll just have to do enough damage on the freebie breakfast to compensate for the sauna.. er I mean room we stayed in. Maybe I’ll fill my pockets with danishes… or perhaps handfulls of cereal.

Here’s a little video of the days ride..

tomorrow it’s off to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.. then Yosemite and Tioga Pass. Sweet!

Motorcycle trip to Utah – Day 5

Today we headed from Moab Utah to Page Arizona….good stuff.

here’s a video of the days highlights…

We started out by heading south from Moab on hwy 191 passing some great scenery and a couple arches right by the side of the roadway.

Near Blanding Utah we swung west on hwy 95 passing some really interesting Indian ruins. Hard to believe that they don’t have this stuff completely barricaded off. You can walk right up and through much of the ruins.

About 40 miles further west we stopped off and checked out Natural Bridges National Monument. There were less than a dozen vehicles in the entire park which made the visit quite enjoyable. Every time we would stop to check out a view there was nothing but absolute silence. I have become accustomed to hordes of people at every national park I visit but that was not the case here.

After checking out natural bridges Mike and headed south on hwy 261 and had to be careful to avoid these guys every now and then.

Continuing down 261 we came across a sign that indicated that the hwy would turn into a narrow gravel winding road 23 miles down the road. We figured this sign was bogus and continued on but a short while later hwy 261 turned into the Mokee Dugway ….which is exactly as the sign stated. The Moki Dugway is a gravel fire road that is carved into the sandstone face of a pretty large sheer face and drops 1100 feet from Cedar Mesa to the valley floor below. It was originally created in 1958 by Texax Zinc Inc to transport uranium ore from the mesa down to the town of Mexican hat for processing. (The summary video at the top of this post has footage of us riding down this road)

A short while later we passed through Mexican Hat Utah that sits right above the San Juan river as it meanders westward. It would have been great to stop and stay the night here.. so much to see.. but we motored westward through Mexican hat and into Monument Valley.

Monument Valley lies within the heart of the Navajo Nation, and Indian reservation that occupies a huge portion of Northern Arizona. Riding through the reservation is a bit depressing. The majority of the homes are really run down and you often see emaciated abandoned dogs just kind of wandering around… really sad.

After passing through monument valley and the town of Kayenta (on the reservation) Mike and I motored east and hooked up with hwy 98 that would take us to Page Arizona where we had a reservation at a motel. We made the reservation the night before sight unseen… which turned out to be a big mistake. Our reservation was at the budget Inn… holy crap was that place a dump. We ended up with a room that was not in the main part of the motel, but across the street at what looked like an older section of the motel. The place was a complete dump. I won’t go into every detail of how bad it was, but i will give you the highlights… Mold on the interior wall, sink pulling away from the bathroom wall, A/C unit haphazardly installed into a hole in the wall that was the wrong size, light sockets missing covers, absolutely filthy floors, stained bedspread and…. (wait for it)…. a healthy amount of “short and curlies” found in my bed sheets.

To add to the mystique was a guy in the adjacent room that gave Mike and I the heebie jeebies immediately. When were unloading our stuff into our room he opened his door and immediately averted eye contact. Looking past him into the room Mike and I both saw the aftermath of a bomb going off. Furniture moved all around, clothing, trash and who knows what all over the floor, bed, tables etc. There are some people that immediately trigger the “spidey senses” and this guy was one of them.

A short while later I went across the street to grab some food and was yelled at from across the parking lot by a toothless lady in wheel chair. I could hardly make out what she was saying as I walked into front door of sandwich shop but I could make out that she was hitting me up for money. As I opened the door to walk inside her voice got louder and louder trying to get my attention.

We unpacked our stuff and headed down towards lake powel to check out the dam and lake. Quite an impressive slab of cement holding all that water back.

On the north side of the damn we spotted a dirt road that dropped towards the lake so we rode down and took a few photos.