Saturday, June 6, 2009

Day 4 & 5: VLA & Roswell

Woke up that morning in Quemado and after an extended breakfast/rising, I hit the road. Met a rancher named Ed Wheeler who has a 22,000 acre ranch outside of town. He offered for me to come check it out with him, but made sure to comment "I'm not one of those broke back guys". I guess that movie messed it up for friendly rancher types. Hehe.

A few hours later I was at the VLA.

Here I am going for the look from "Contact". Yes, I contact UFO's in my spare time...

After the VLA I met a guy named Pete riding a KLR packed up with ADV gear. He had a friend that did a trip like mine and called it Fragile Expedidion...his name was Lee Klarcher. I bit later, I stopped at some old lava flows for a break.
And an hour or so later I found a guy with a trike broke down on the side of the road. We used my tools to get him running again. Ride on buddy!

Got into Roswell late. I met some fellow bikers, one with an F800GS like mine. I wish I had his corbin seat, my stock seat is like riding a plank. As I got into Roswell my GPS and my electronics for my iPod/Radio went on the fritz. Coincidence? Stayed the night at a motel and looked for aliens.

Got up the next day (no signs of abduction) and checked out the UFO museum. It was kinda weak and touristy. But fun I suppose.

Stopped in Post, TX for lunch. Met two really nice ranchers named Kenneth and Jody and had a lengthy conversation with them about traveling the world. They told me that Post got it's name from the founder of Post Cereal...he founded that town too.


I also talked to Jack and Carolyn Schultz for a little bit. Jack told me his grandfather walked from Millersburg, TN to Rising Star, TX to buy land..he walked because it was cheaper than the train/carriage and it took 6 months.

The riding in northern TX is very windy and boring. At least that's what I've seen so far. I have tried to take back roads most of the trip but even still it wasn't that great. But I had time to get some nice shots.

Putting the wind to good use.

Tried to stay in the Abilene KOA that night but they were predicting 3 hours of thunderstorms so I found a motel 50 feet away. Turns out it didn't rain at all. Hehe.

Tomorrow, I'm off to Austin. After that, somewhere around the TX/LA border then to New Orleans Monday afternoon. My friend Jason Greathouse is meeting me there and we are going to do part of the trip together. I plan on leaving Tuesday morning and taking 3 days to get to Daytona Beach. That puts us there Thursday night, with Friday to check out the Kennedy Space Center and hopefully Saturday for the shuttle launch. After that is not really planned yet, but I hope to see Key West.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Day 3: Meteor Crater, Painted Desert and Petrified Forest

I got up early on Wednesday and made myself some breakfast. That SnowPeak stove boiled water in no time flat (thanks Dave) and the freeze-dried scrambled eggs from Mountain House were surprisingly good.

Since I was camped within a few yards of it, I walked down old Route 66 for a ways. Guess it's just dirt in that part of the world. What was it before I-40 came along? Nobody seemed to know at the RV park.
I headed up to the crater. I did the 1 hr hike around the rim, to get the 'best 3D shot' of the crater. All I really ended up with was a bad shot of me from a bad angle (sorry Eduardo) and a sunbunrt nose. D-oh. But the crater is AMAZING. It's something you see in books and never imagine you'll get to see in real life. It's so immense that your eyes play tricks on you. There was an old rusty BBQ stove discarded in the center of the least that's what it looked like...turns out it was a fuel container 15 feet long. It really is just huge.



I did get to touch a big chunk of what was left of the friend Kevin reminded me that it is amazing you can touch something that came from the asteroid belt.

On the way out, I passed thru Windslow, Arizona. Which my twitter friends had reminded me was I naturally had to stop and get this shot.

I backtracked a bit so I could see the Petrified Forest. I arrived at the entrance to the park and after a brief chat with a few other bikers about the lack of anything but 85 octane nearby, I felt like I might not make it out of the park. I figured, oh well, maybe I'll spend the night there. ;) Actually, I just drove the speed limit of 45mph...the F800GS will get 75MPG at that speed. The painted desert came first, followed by the stony trees. img_0844.jpg
There was a pretty neat stone bridge called "Agate Bridge", formed when a petrified tree fell and then a river washed out underneath it.
The Petrified Forest looks like somebody just came in to cut up trees. But they're hundreds of thousands of years old and now made of stone. So neat. Look how the outside looks like tree but the inside looks like rock. All my childhood science books were right!

I headed south down the 180 towards Eager...with the goal of reaching the VLA just at dusk. I had hoped to take some really neat pictures as the sun set. But the 45MPH speeds and stopping so often thru the painted desert slowed me down. I kicked it into high gear as the sun was going down.
The roads seemed to stretch on forever.
It got really pretty as the sun went down.
After an hour or so of driving in dark and passing about 15 signs to watch out for Elk, I decided I would call it a day. I stopped at a little Motel/Cafe in Quemado about 9PM MT. They were supposed to have wifi but I couldn't make it work...weak signal in my room. D-oh. No cell service of any kind either...even the wired phone couldn't dial out. I think that Quemado is the furthest out in the stix I've ever been. And I liked it. :)

Day 2: Sedona to Meteor Crater

I got a late start due to being up so late the night I ended up leaving Scottsdale around 2PM...the hottest part of the day. I'd been outside all of 60 seconds and I was was 104 out. I remembered at the last second that I had brought an evaporative cooling vest with I dunked it in water and put it on. Wow, what a difference. I love that thing...

Anyway, I got going out of the Phoenix area and headed up the 17 North towards Flagstaff. Met a nice woman named Heidi at a gas station that suggested I meet up with her friend in Austin. The bike and my outfit get a lot of attention and are a really easy way to meet people. Usually they approach me....commonly at a gas station or when I'm stopped for a moment to eat.

I detoured towards Sedona, as I'd been there before (last year) and I knew the roads were beautiful. The couple that took the shot below said I was a "real life adventurer".


Had a great lunch in Sedona and headed north towards Flagstaff. The roads were some of the best I'd ever ridden. So beautiful.

As I proceeded east out of Flagstaff on I-40, the sun was setting behind me. That really is a nice part of I-40...I drove it so much in TN going back and forth to college and to visit family. It's neat to see a part of that same road so far away and so different.


I got into camp just as the sun had gone down...the crater would have to wait till the morning. I stayed at the Meteor Crater RV park...just a few miles down the road from the crater. RV parks are usually pretty nice but are expensive as camping goes. I paid $19 to camp in a tent. But it was on manicured soft grass and I got to take a hot shower.


Day 1: SD to Phoenix

The first day of my 6 week trip. I had originally decided to get on the road at 5AM that day...but after staying up till 2AM packing the night before, I slept in and decided to get out of town at 3PM. And after still more packing and delay, I finally left SD at 4:30. Right in the middle of traffic. D-oh. At least I'd be skipping the hottest part of the day in the desert.

SD to Phoenix was easy. I took the I-8...really the fastest route there from SD. I had a lot of people on the road giving me thumbs up. At one point, a guy in a beat up Toyota truck swerved and nearly hit me while trying to give me the 'rock-n-roll' hand sign. I stopped a few times to stretch and take pics.img_0776.jpg

Somewhere around 9PM I was getting sleepy so I stopped at a rest area with vending machines. For whatever reason, the soda machine would NOT take my dollar bills. So I ended buying a coffee and burning my tongue while attempting to drink about half of it. Strong stuff, it perked me right up.img_0778.jpg

I stopped for gas in Gila Bend and ran into a few other people on bikes. I guess I look like I'm going somewhere interesting because I get a lot of people approaching me at the gas station, asking questions. It's good, they're all very friendly, and I usually give them my card. (I had made up cards for the trip.) Then from Gila Bend on up to the I-10 into Phoenix. I got lost looking for my friend Nathan's friends house that he had arranged for me to stay at. My silly GPS kept telling me to turn into Phoenix's city streets instead of taking the 101 bypass around the city. And eventually I gave into it's messages and did. Which meant I got into Scottsdale around 12:45AM. Doh. Very tired, but wide awake from that rest-area coffee/jet fuel. After a beer and some chips, I fell asleep at about 2AM. Ray, my gracious host for the night, has a cool dog named Max that kept me company thru the night. img_0782.jpg

Monday, June 1, 2009

Leaving San Diego pics

Here are some shots I got while Nathan is preparing to leave.

Be safe and have fun!
<3 Tracy

Headed out

I moved my leave time back from 5AM this morning to 2-3PM this afternoon. To give me more time to do things right...I just didn't have enough time to get everything done. Yesterday I did so And kept doing it until about 3Am. I'm almost always a night owl and it works against me when any events call for early wake times. I bought a lot of gear too...which I'll be posting my experiences with as I go along the trip.

My route has changed a bit. While the extreme southern US is pretty and something I'd like to see, the extreme heat is something I'd like to avoid. Instead of Corpus Christi and some of the more southern routes, I'll be stopping in Phoenix tonight, then up to Flagstaff the next day. I'll be going along 40 but probably not ON 40...I'll be doing as much 2 lane state route roads as possible, unless the scenery sucks or something. Here is today's plan:

View Larger Map

Then tomorrow, on up to Flagstaff. I'd kind of like to see meteor crater, maybe even camp there. But I need to cover some distance so that kinda depends on the weather and how I'm feeling.

Thanks for the good words everyone. From this point on, I'll be doing this from the road. Woo hoo!