Tag Archives: US 191

Hail Causes Mini Flash Flood – Monticello, Utah to Ely, Nevada

It’s hard to believe it’s been eight months since I got caught in the open by this high desert hail storm.

Blog Hail

The day before was filled with change, this day with challenges.

The morning started out harmless enough. I walked to a family owned restaurant hoping for oatmeal and fruit, senior price of course. Even though it was past the opening time, it was closed. There was a handwritten note taped inside the glass door. “Sorry, we’re closed.” Down the street was J & B’s Hamburgers.

What the heck, I’ll give it a try. They didn’t have oatmeal, nor did they have a senior price. Bacon, eggs, and pancakes it was. It tasted good with two giant pancakes on a second plate. I could only eat one.

My plan to visit the Arches went awry as soon as I pulled out on US 191. Tired, I decided to skip the Arches. I don’t think eleven days in the saddle had anything to do with it.

Within minutes, a D.E.E.R. appeared. With that omen, I should have been forewarned.

US 191 took me through beautiful country, red rock formations, canyons, and some greenery. The remaining 90 miles were filled with vistas that artists dream about.

My buddy Paul Wallace likes Moab for mountain biking. I can see why. The town is small, attractive, touristy, and bicycle positive. Unlike most towns on this trip, there were no “Bikers Welcome” signs. They didn’t get any of my money.

Reaching Green River, Utah, I realized that this was where JAK had suggested we deviate from our plan last year, and take US 191 north to Jackson Hole. It was an outstanding decision with fantastic scenery. The lower half is different, all desert, but just as spectacular. I recommend either segment for a great ride. Next month, June 2013, JAK and I are riding to a Veterans Memorial Run in Marseilles, Illinois. We might take this route.

Leaving Green River I took I-70 to Salina, Utah. It was hot and dry. That changed. Storms were brewing west and north. Rain chimneys were visible. Shortly after noon, a chimney materialized dead ahead. I kept going and got rained on for about a minute. With the temperature hovering around 100º, the rain cooled me off. Dry in minutes, I narrowly missed a second chimney. I was in for more than rain.

I had nowhere to pull off when it started to rain. Ouch, this stuff hurts, it isn’t rain it’s hail. So much for finding a safe place to pull over, I stopped as fast as possible. The Ultra was not quite off the interstate. I didn’t care. I scrambled off and ran to some small trees for shelter. The hail stones came in two sizes, some the diameter of a dime, most that of a nickel.

Beaten and drenched, I ran to the bike, unlocked a saddle bag, grabbed my coat and ran back. There was no way I could have gotten the pants on. Several cars stopped on the other side of the four-lane interstate. After I got my coat on, I heard a horn honking. A minivan with California plates stopped and the passenger doors opened. A woman in the front shouted; “Get in, Get in.” Still wearing my helmet I jumped in and closed the door. She said; “Does this happen very often?”

“I don’t know. I’m from California like you.”

She said in unaccented English; “Actually we are from Belgium. They are warning of flash floods.”

When I ran under the trees, the ground was dry except for falling hail stones. When I ran to the van, my sneakers were under swift moving water.

Blog Hail.2

The trees didn’t afford much protection. This picture was taken minutes after the hail stopped falling. In the short break between hail and the subsequent rain, I got into my foul weather gear. I had one question, Where are my boots?
Two more cars and a motorcycle stopped to inquire if I was okay. None had been in the hail storm; it was pretty well confined to a small area, my head.

* * *
Continuing on, it started raining heavily. I won’t say it was a cloud burst, but darn close. I could not find any shelter. I put on the 4-Way flashers and slowed to 30 MPH on the 70 MPH Interstate. Motorcycle helmets don’t have windshield wipers and my vision sucked. The cars passing me were all doing over sixty. To say I was stressed is putting it mildly.

In Salina I went straight to the world famous Mom’s Café. The building was constructed in the 1890s. The café has been in continuous operation since 1926. When I finished eating, the rain had stopped, the temperature ninety plus. Once again off with the hot foul weather gear.

It remained hot until I got into Nevada, the rain chimneys getting darker and closer by the minute.

For two hours I fought winds strong enough to push the Ultra across the roadway, a tad scary. The area was desert with blowing sand. In one stretch the sand blew handlebar high across my path. It hurt like the dickens.

Blog Hail 3

I continued for a few miles after I took this picture. I pulled over and geared up. Five minutes later I was in the rain. It rained the forty miles into Ely, Nevada. Of course, as I parked in front of the Motel 6 the rain stopped.

I knew if I went downtown to eat, it would rain again, I ordered pizza. “It won’t be long.” After an hour I called. “The delivery man will be back soon and you’re up next.” How reassuring. Another hour passed before my cold pizza and warm soda arrived.

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Grand and Glorious Ride – Day 11 –Durango to Monticello, Utah

The day was filled with changes in scenery, weather, and states. It began warm with dry rugged high mountain forest and ended the same. In between I experienced high mountain plateaus, high plains desert, just plain desert, rocky canyons, cool temperatures, warm temperatures, HIGH temperatures, clear bright skies, overcast skies, some drizzle, and a cloud burst.

After a hearty Grand Slam at Denny’s it’s off to Four Corners via Mesa Verde National Park. It was 30 miles to the park entrance. The ride began like most on this adventure, gorgeous. There was soon a stumbling block. There are two seasons in this part of the country, winter and Road Repair. We were in the midst of road repair.

10 miles down the road construction required several miles of one way traffic. Ordinarily this wouldn’t cause more than a 10 minute delay. Not today, once all the cars and trucks came through we continued to sit. After ten minutes, I got bored and walked across the street and watched a second string of vehicles come our way. What is going on? More time passes. We learn the cause of the delay when a couple pedal bicycles towards us. At first angry, I realized that bicyclists have to get through the construction zone.

My visit to Mesa Verde National Park deserves a separate blog. Look for it tomorrow.

From Mesa Verde it was ninety miles to Four Corners, where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah all touch. The wind was dreadful. At Four Corners another biker told me; “They call this Four Corners, because the wind is coming at you from all four directions.”

The monument is located on the Navajo Nation. They charge $3 per person to visit. Around the monument were no less than 50 Navajo vendors.

Two bikers parked next to me, one wearing a HOG Patch from Brunei. HOG is for Harley Owners Group. He is the HOG Chapter President for Brunei, an oil rich country on the island of Borneo. He and his buddy rented Harley’s in San Francisco to ride to New York.

4 Corners #1

4 Corners #2
Leaving Four Corners I head into Arizona on US 160 to US 191. It wasn’t long before the clouds began getting ugly and I got a few sprinkles. With lightening off to my left and right, I stopped and suited up. The rain stopped. 50 miles further along, I got out of the rain gear. Instead of packing it away, I tied it behind my seat. Just in Case. Until I got to Monticello, Utah there were rain chimneys visible all about, but I seemed to turn just in time to miss them.

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Grand & Glorius Motorcycle Ride -Day 9 – Spearfish, SD to Fort Collins, CO

My day started at 6:45 a.m. when a loud thunderclap woke me. Happily there was only one, and it rained less than an hour. Long enough to get soaked riding to a coin operated Laundromat, where they had raised the laundry rates for bike week.

Back at Motel Kozy I checked out. I hoped Spearfish Canyon at 9:20 a.m. would be traffic free. It wasn’t, but at least traffic was lighter than later in the day. Spearfish Canyon is one of the reasons I came this way.

Spearfish 1

The first 10 miles was wet and slippery from the rain. While ambling along at 30 MPH, a squirrel ran in front of me. I had a split second to make a choice; “Do I swerve to miss ‘em, or go straight on?” Swerving and hitting the brakes would have probably resulted in going down. “Sorry squirrel.” I ran over his tail. I ruined his day, but he survived the encounter.

Spearfish Canyon is on US 14A. 20 miles up the canyon it dead-ends at US 85. A left turn takes you to Deadwood. On a whim, “why not go right, I’ve been to Deadwood a dozen times. I’ve never turned right. I wonder where it goes.” So a right turn it was. US 85 took me to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

US 85 was a great ride for about an hour and then it turned bad. The temperature was a cool 80.

Spearfish 2
This was taken 20 minutes before it turned bad.

Not long before this picture, I saw movement ahead on the right. I’d been going about 50 MPH because the ride was so nice, slowing wasn’t difficult. The movement was a fawn, (D.E.E.R.). As I approached it took a step towards the roadway, I slowed even more. It turned back towards the woods, then it turned back toward the road and me. I was down to 10 MPH and almost upon the critter. It jumped up, turned and ran into the woods. I continued slowly for about 100 yards. When you see one deer, you often see a second. Where is Momma D.E.E.R.?

Spearfish 3

Here is a shot after it turned bad.

The temperature was 100+ the rest of the day.

I saw several groups of antelope. I left cruise control on 75 for about 200 miles. Stopping in Lusk, Wyoming (You don’t ever want to visit Lusk) for lunch I pulled out the maps. I saw that Fort Collins, Colorado is not far below Cheyenne.

The maps showed that once out of Denver, I could ignore the Interstates for days. I wanted to visit Four Corners, where Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico all meet at one point. I could stand in all four states at one time. Added fun would be crossing the Continental Divide at least two more times, and a couple of scenic highways. It was 450 miles so I could make it in two days of easy riding. God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise as my dad often said.

After lunch, the ride to Cheyenne took two hours, but I had to stop twice for water, plus drinking the bottle I had on the bike. Gassing up in Cheyenne, I guzzled two bottles of water. I had a hard time staying hydrated. Checking in at the Best Western in Fort Collins, the clerk handed me a bottle of water. It was gone in two gulps.

I called the local Harley-Davidson dealer about an oil change. They got me in the next morning. Usually I get an oil change every 5000 miles, but this had seen some pretty heavy riding conditions. My good buddy, Larry Eade, sent me a reminder to change the oil, thanks Larry.

I planned to turn north on US 191 after Four Corners. This would take me through Moab. Then it would be I-70 until I reached Salina, Utah. I always call my Granddaughter Salina, when I go through Salina. From there US 50 would take me to Reno where I’d take I-80 home. The entire trip ended up being 4,500 miles, less than what I wanted.

US 50 across Nevada is called The Loneliest Road in America. Trust me it is. I’ve ridden it west to east twice. This was my first east to west trip. Crossing Nevada, you stop every time you see a gas pump. There are very few, and it tests the limits of my Ultra. Last time across, there were stretches when we went upwards of 20 miles without seeing another vehicle. If you think about it, one realizes that there was probably 40 miles between the two vehicles.

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