Well damn. It’s been WEEKS I since I traveled through Ouray and decided to camp in Buena Vista. My vacation has been over for over a month and I’m just now getting around to documenting the events that lead me Buena Vista, Colorado; so without further ado, let the recollections begin…
Repairs to the motorcycle seem to be holding up. The chain is still tight and looks pretty damn good. I write this post as I wait for a Prime Rib from Whiskey Creek Wood Fire Grill in North Platte, Nebraska. It’s my second time in 2 weeks eating here, but feels more like 2 months. So much stress and aggravation and money has been burned through, as well as of time well spent with friends and family. After 523 miles on the road, I think decompressing with food, beer, and blogging is in order.
Unfortunately, this meal was pretty awful. Smokey Mac & Cheese was, in a word, disgusting. Prime rib was ok, but it and the au jus were cold. The potato might have been delicious last weekend when I suspect it was initially baked. Can’t win them all, I guess.
After Durango was even winding mountain roads. Tucked away in Sid mountains was Silverton, where I had a lunch. Well, not really lunch, but coffee and soup. A friend of mine on Facebook disgustedly inquired what that was all about. I hadn’t noticed the trend, but looking back, yeah. It kinda was. After so many giant meals, I figured maybe I ought to cut down a bit. After all, I wasn’t running or cycling across country.
The Brown Bear Cafe was quite popular, and where I got my French onion soup and coffee. The joint is not unlike something you’d see in Virginia City. The town seemed a bit better maintained than VC, yet looking like it might be as old.
With lunch taken care of, it was now time to get through to Ouray! Cutting though the Rockies is always fun, until you get behind a struggling 18 wheeler, or some cartoonishly oversized RV lethargically making its way up the 8% grades. Compound that with construction! That’s where I ran into these guys.
Every single one of these guys riding bikes that cost 3 or 4 times as much as my poor KLR650. The leader of the pack, obscured behind the guy on the far left, greeted me, shook hands, and struck up the usual biker talk. They were riding the Montrose loop, or something like that, and this was their last run. He asked where I was coming from. I said Reno! He laughed and called one of the other guys over and told them I was from Reno. They all got a kick out of that. As it happens, every single one of these guys were from Reno! Not a single one of them under 50 years old. The guy on the yellow bike was a buddy of theirs from Colorado. He was the only guy not riding an adventure bike. It really was a catalog of all the badass bikes, BMWs, Triumphs, and KTMs. All 1200cc or more.
Needless to say, I could not keep up with these maniacs. Hardcore dudes hauling ass down these scary ass roads. Kinda blew my mind. Before they took off, the leader guy let me throw a leg over his Triumph, a massive 1200cc beast. I’ll be damned if that thing didn’t feel smaller and more nimble than my Kawasaki. The tech on these bikes also made my ride seem like something from the Stone Age.
Check out some of the 360 video to give get a taste of what I was dealing with.
At some point I had to pull over and put on warmer clothes. The altitude was getting close to 10,000 ft and the sky was threatening rain. I did not look forward to that. Luckily, like most of my trip so far, I kept missing the rain. Always ahead of it or right behind it.
I passed through the actual town of Ouray, but only stopped for gas. I was trying to make tracks. Most of my trip,has been trying to keep up with my insane riding schedule. Trying to maximize the time I can spend at my two main destinations, Iowa City to hang with my old friend Bill and then Chicago to see my family. All I’ve got time for is photos on the side of the road and the occasional stop for a sitdown meal. Gas stations seem designed to give you the ugliest possible view of whatever town you happen be in. I challenge you to take a good photo at a truck stop! Do it!
Montrose Colorado was an exception to the rule. I had to stop and strip off my cold weather gear, since the heat was picking up, and I needed to replenish my camping food supplies. Short visit. Not a particularly interesting town, to be honest.
Nothing really special about Cimarron Colorado except that I remember camping here on one of my earliest epic rides on the Can-Am Spyder. Somewhere near here is a primitive campsite and a cool little dam tucked away into the mountains. I remember this area mainly because the campsite was filthy with insects at night. So many gnats and creepy crawlies. It totally wigged me out. I’m a much tougher camper now. Nothing shocks me anymore!
Gunnison was a blip on the radar, but had nice some photo ops. It looks as if the jagged Rockies are giving way to rolling hills.
Around 7pm, the clouds started getting heavy on the way to Buena Vista, my goal for the night. My original plan was to make it to Denver, but it was getting kinda late and I hate night driving when I’m this fatigued. Big ass thunderstorms off in the distance were also a bit discouraging. I decided to just find a hotel, luckily there was one.
I pull up to this quaint motel, like a well maintained Bates Motel in the mountains. I walk in to see a young hipster dude with long Jesus hair and a goofy beard doing laundry in a room off to the side of the office. I ask if they have rooms, he says yes! I start pulling out my card and he says “$105…” I laughed. He stared at me, not getting the joke. I turned around and left. What’s wrong with these people out here in the sticks charging so much? I look up campsites on my phone and decide to go the KOA a half mile down the road. It’s either gonna be a good one or a shitty one. There’s no inbetween with these places. Weird how that works.
Turns out, this is one of the better ones. That made me happy. Even better was the fact that they allow campfires. The young guy working in the office even delivered the firewood to my site! Now that’s service.
At some point I got started on the food. I was hungry and these damn ramen noodles are better than they have any right to be. They don’t seem like much, but they’re perfect for motorcycle trips. Despite my thorough exhaustion afterwards, sitting on my ass for 6 to 8 hours a day isn’t exactly a workout. I eat like it’s the last supper, choking down the last of my shit beer.
Now fire! It’s a bit damp out here but the fire making process goes relatively smoothly. I am man, master of the elements! As I’m leaning over the kindling I hear drops behind me, like pine cones falling from the trees. I pay no mind to it until one drops on me. It was not a pine cone, unless of course pine cones move around on their own. I immediately swiped that fucker off the top of my head. It hits the ground with a thud. It’s not pissed off, it’s not aggressive. It’s just huge. Lying before me is a bug I’ve never seen before in my life. Black sparkly body, like someone hit it with glitter, and HUGE antenna. They had to have been 2 inches long, each! Normally I’d be in KILL IT WITH FIRE mode, but the child-like curiosity took over. The “little” guy was quite docile and didn’t seem to mind my presence.
After a while he went about his business and I got back to the fire. Funny thing about that, if I’d camped a mile or so further up the road in the state park, my fire would have been banned. KOA don’t give a shit and the fire restriction rules apparently don’t apply on private property.
With the fire complete, I sit there and gaze at its warm hypnotic animation. Something flutters against my ear. Damn bugs. It flutters against my ear again. As I brush it away, my hand hits something large. Definitely not a moth or a june bug. I whirl around and my mind can’t make sense of what I’m seeing. I gray mass that’s hovering at arms length. It’s making a vibration sound. My mind it completely boggled. I’m not able to connect what I see with any inventory of knowledge in my head. I’m completely baffled. I immediately make the false assumption that it’s a bat. Bats don’t hover. Bats are black or brown. This thing was grayish with streaks of color. Before I can finally settle on HUMMINGBIRD the little bastard takes off. No time to pull out my phone and snap off even a blurry photo,so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
My shitty beer was warm and unsatisfying, so after my first batch of wood died down in the fire, I rode the KLR down to the small semblance of civilization 2 miles down the road. There’s a little liquor store manned by a heavy set biker looking dude. I ask for a local beer recommendation and he points to Yanker IPA. I buy a six pack and leave. It is now pouring rain and pitch black outside. Wow. Just in the 5 minutes I was talking to the store clerk. That’s life out in the sticks, I guess.
At camp I shoot an episode of Bats and edit together the Rochester episode, drink some grapefruit flavored beer and enjoy the night. Rain didn’t last all that long, but it thundered off in the distance until the wee hours.
So, there’s Day 6 of the Epic Ride. Maybe in another month or so I’ll give y’all Day 7, the day of heinous Denver traffic and old crotchety racists in Nebraska. Stay tuned!