19 July 2013

Summer Trip - Days 13 and 14

The last two days of our trip were all about getting home. It was insanely hot in and around Las Vegas, Death Valley had a forecast for 49C/120F. Therefore we left Las Vegas very early in the morning, made our way to Pahrump, then to Furnace Creen, Lone Pine, and so on.

We stopped a few times to soak our shirts and helmet caps in water, then rode on with most vents of our jackets closed, letting just the little bit of air coming in the sleeves and through the fabric cool us down. This worked very well and as soon as we were getting uncomfortably hot again (every two to three hours) we stopped and repeated the procedure.

We rode in one day from Vegas, through Death Valley, to Mono Lake, then over 120 and through Yosemite all the way to Oakhurst, about 30 miles South of the Yosemite South Entrance. This was our longest day.

In Oakhurst, CA - Shows how much we used TVs during our trip

From Oakhurst we rode backroads through the Central Valley then some faster roads to Gilroy and from there again backroads all the way home.

Well deserved break.

We arrived late in the afternoon and had still a weekend to settle down and relax before we had to get back to work.

Back at Home

Overall it was an incredible trip. It was tough sometimes, hot, long days, sometimes tough riding, but it was soooo much fun. We can't wait for the next long trip!

11 July 2013

Summer Trip - Day 12

We decided to take one day "down time" in Las Vegas. Booked the hotel for another night and decided to not do all too much. 

And what did we end up doing – riding to the local BMW shop and doing a test ride ... ;-)

Test Ride on a R1200R 90 Years Special Edition

You already know the outcome of that one ... and no, it's not the bike we actually bought. We got one from the local dealer here in San Jose that was about to come in from Germany. 

And, after having been in Las Vegas a few times now, we finally saw the "Sirens of TI" show in front of the Treasure Island Hotel. Typical Vegas show ...

Sirens of TI

Always make the best out of what you have.

We went to bed early that night as we wanted to cross Death Valley early the next day to not hit the hottest time of the day. It was already incredibly hot in Las Vegas (over 45C, 113F) and the forecast for Death Valley was 49C (120F).

Summer Trip - Day 11

It's been a while since I updated the blog – don't call me lazy though. There's a lot of work going on in the office at the moment and I just didn't have the energy to spend more time in front of the computer when I didn't have to.

But, there are still a few days worth of photos remaining and here they come.

From Kingman we rode over Highway 66 to Oatman – the Ghost Town that refuses to die.

Oatman, AZ

Oatman has wild donkeys which roam the streets during the day and leave for the hills during the night.

Oatman, AZ

And that's definitely reason enough to go there – as you might know, we love donkeys!

Getting the ears scratched

It really doesn't matter whether the donkey is male, female, young, old, small, big - they all like to get their ears scratched - at least if you are careful, get their trust first, build up some interest. Donkeys are such friendly animals.

Still in Oatman, AZ

Appropriately named

Donkey Bar

And you can see that humans and asses have made a real symbiosis (like in so many other places ...). The donkeys get tourists to Oatman, the people living there sell carrots and other treats and make sure the animals are treated okay.

Better be an ass ...

Some History

Yes, there was a public restroom.

From Oatman we rode North on fairly boring and big freeways towards Las Vegas where we wanted to spend two nights to relax a little, enjoy hot showers, clean some clothes and prepare for the long ride home.

We had dinner in the Harley Davidson Cafe – this is a really good location with great food and drinks, well worth it.

Las Vegas, NV

Enjoying our drinks


We really don't like Las Vegas for what it is. It's a crazy place, completely artificial and weird. But we do like the nice hotels for very reasonable prices. It was good to have comfortable beds after a long day of riding and a great dinner.

04 July 2013

Summer Trip - Day 10

After a good sleep in Cameron we couldn't resist and headed for Grand Canyon.

We had been here before and are still planning a hike through the Canyon, but thought it was well worth the time to stop for a few photos and to renew our impressions.

Entering Grand Canyon National Park

It's really hard to get good photos of Grand Canyon, as it's very often misty and the photos are very washed out and can't show the real landscape. This one was filtered quite a bit afterwards, but it shows pretty much what we have seen that day.

Grand Canyon

Perfect place for an iPhone panorama shot again

After leaving Grand Canyon National Park we again headed East but, at the first chance left I-40 again.  It was again very windy and with the high speed of the rest of the traffic here it was not good riding for Andrea.

Fortunately, there's an alternative:

Route 66 at Seligman

Seligman, AZ

That night we stayed in a hotel in Kingman. It was very hot and we were happy to be in an air conditioned room with a nice shower!

Summer Trip - Day 9

Leaving Monument Valley the next morning, we packed our tent before even thinking about taking photos. Ah, okay. Next time.

Our next target was Four Corners National Monument. We left Utah for a short time (and took the photo we wanted to take when we entered Utah).

We made some friends along the way ...

Donkeys ...

And of course had to take the obligatory ridiculous tourist photo at Four Corners National Monument:

Four Corners is the only place in the US where four state lines meet at a single point. Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. It belongs to the Native Americans, but the Monument itself is kind of weird. In the background you see open trading booths, the whole thing is surrounded by them. We waited in a line to take the photo above. It was kind of a zoo - total tourist trap. But okay, it was worth going there.

Now we had reached our most easterly point in the trip and it was time to turn the bikes around and start the long trek home.

Back into Arizona

One thing we always found in the Indian areas were dogs. Lots of them. Hanging around, begging for food. Also quite a few neglected horses and other animals. Not certain what this is all about, but it didn't leave the best impression.

To avoid riding all the time on 160, a fairly big and windy high speed highway, we detoured South on 191 and then took a route East again.

This part was the most miserable stretch of our whole trip. It was super windy. Gusty winds were coming from the side, blowing dust and sand over the street, on us, everywhere. We were riding with the bikes at an angle most of the time, only to be surprised by a sudden gust of wind going in another direction. It was frustrating, hard, taxing, long, and later on super boring.

Andrea was quite miserable for some time in the high winds as the F650GS was really hard to ride there. It was blown all over the place, scary and exhausting.

Dogs at a Gas Station

Finding shade next to the bikes

Boring straight highway - but still windy
After a long and super exhausting day we ended up in the Cameron Trading Post - nine years after we had been here the first time. We got a nice room, shower, dinner, and were about to sleep at the table, but in the end decided that the beds might be a more comfortable place.

Summer Trip - Day 8

From Monticello we rode further South to Natural Bridges National Monument:

Natural Bridges National Monument

We learned that the difference between the bridges and the arches is that the bridges are formed by flowing water in streams, while the arches are from moisture in the air and wind erosion. Makes sense.

Short Break at Natural Bridges

Quite a Large Bridge

Now it was decision time - we wanted to get to Monument Valley as we had booked a space on the campground there and there are two ways: the short connection which has a dirt section at Moki Dugway, where a gravel road goes from the ridge into the valley. The road is hard pack gravel but fairly steep and has some switchbacks, but overall it was super easy to ride.

The other option would have been a loooooong loop around to stay on paved roads. We decided to take Moki Dugway - a good decision!

Top of Moki Dugway

Switchbacks on Moki Dugway

The scenery there is incredible and I can only recommend taking that route. It's easy on any type of motorcycle and absolutely no issue in a car.

Quite a View
When we arrived at the bottom we decided that while we were riding dirt roads anyways we'd do Valley of Gods, too. It was well worth it ...

Valley of the Gods
The road there is also mostly hard pack gravel, some sand in a few places but as long as you watch out these patches are easy to avoid. There were some washboard like sections where speed helped to at least kind of "float" over the bumps.

At one point, Andrea decided that she needed to take a look that the underside of the Beemer was still intact and fine:

Sleepy F650GS
A little bit of sand can get you, especially when trying to stop for a photo ... nothing bad happened other than a few scratches on the case and the ego of the rider.

Mexican Hat

In the afternoon we arrived in Monument Valley:

Monument Valley

We quickly set up our tent - no photos because we were busy getting it set up to then head back to Monument Valley Visitor Center for sunset photos.

Monument Valley at Sunset