The road to Sturgis starts with a long ride down the Interstate highway. We got
onto I-84 in Portland, Oregon and followed it east nearly 400 miles to the town of
Weiser, Idaho. I set the cruise control at 70 mph, 5 above the speed limit. This
makes me slow traffic! It is a boring and hot ride. The temperature reaches 100
degrees. But this is our last of the "Oregon" checkpoints. We have all 15 of them. Now
only the bonus checkpoints are left. There is nothing of interest in Weiser so after
camping for the night we got back onto I-84 and followed it another 300 miles east. The
speed limit is now 75 not 65, but the roadway is the same. (Again the Oregon government
has no confidence in the ability of its citizens to drive safely. Also you are not
allowed to pump your own gasoline because it is not safe.) Our destination is the
small town of Victor. Again a place of no great interest. It is at the border of
Wyoming and looks at the backside of the Teton Mountains.
Now the roads get interesting. They are two lane and have lots of hills and curves. As
we left Victor and we caught up with a slower driver and two cars caught up with
us. I was leaving lots of room and in a passing zone the first car behind me passed
me and cut into my following distance. Just as the passing zone ended the second
car passes me too. When they were beside me, and on the wrong side of the double
yellow line, an oncoming car came over the hill! I was already braking hard and
pulling for the shoulder of the road. There was not room for it to pull in ahead
of me even without the oncoming car. We all made it through this alive and I'm ashamed
to admit that these two cars were from my home state of Washington. Obviously they
were together and the second driver was more afraid of not being with his friend
than he was of killing us!!
We made it over the pass and into the Teton Mountain basin. The highway is good
but crowded. This is our third trip through the Teton Valley, including last year. Every
time the weather has been cold, wet and cloudy.
This year we are here in the middle of the summer, instead of May, but the weather
is still bad!
This year did have one moment that made it more interesting than our other two trips. An
American bison decided to cross the road. We were about the tenth vehicle in a string
of traffic. The Bison walked up to the road and kept on walking. The car ahead
of us rushed ahead and we stopped. Oncoming traffic also stopped and he ambled slowly
across the road. Then we went on our way. We have seen Bison here before but never
right in front of us. He is bigger than us and weighs more, so he gets the right
We headed east. Our destination is Lander, Wyoming, the first of our bonus checkpoints. Along
the way we saw this strange sight. It looks like a Sheriff's plane with the star
on the side. But it is colored in camouflage paint. The landing gear is collapsed. It
has crashed here alongside the highway. There is no ambulance or emergency personnel
here. Very mysterious!! Is this a drug interdiction plane? Was it looking for
Anyway we arrived in Landers, WY. We can't find the checkpoint. The address does
not agree with the business name. So we go in and find that they have changed since
the Grand Tour started, but they recognized the booklets and stamped them. We had
a mediocre lunch and headed for the Sinks Canyon State Park.
The river here disappears underground. It goes into this hole and is gone! This
is "The Sink".
Then a quarter-mile downstream it reappears! This is "The Rise". And all of those
black streaks in the water are trout. They are HUGE! No fishing is allowed and,
for 25 cents, you can buy fish food and throw it off the deck we are standing on. This
has made the trout as big as Salmon.
We rode the bike down the canyon from our campsite and parked at the Visitors Center
which is at "The Sink". We then walked the trail down the canyon the quarter mile
to "The Rise". While there it started to rain a little. We started back to the
bike and the rain increased with lighting and thunder.
We got back, covered the bike, and hurried into the tent as the skies opened up and
it rained hard. But like thunderstorms do, it was all over in less than an hour.
At home when it starts raining it drizzles for days, but rarely really rains. This
was the reverse. It really rained, but only for an hour.
From Landers we followed many miles of very boring two-lane roads south into Colorado. We
saw lots of Sagebrush and long, lonely roads interspersed by sections of construction. None
of the construction was a serious problem. They were just aggravations. The sun
is out now and the day is hot. Waiting for the "Pilot Car" to lead us through the
construction is not fun.
We made it to Glenwood Springs, CO. We setup camp and went to town for dinner at
the Glenwood Canyon Brewpub. I was here as a firefighter for the "Coal Seam Fire". This
was a wildland fire started by a local coal seam that has been burning underground
for years. It came to the surface and started a wildfire. I was one of hundreds
sent to put it out. On the last night of my stay there I had gone to the brewpub
for a beer and wanted to go back. While there we heard of a free concert in the
park. (My last trip here I was sleeping in the park, it was the basecamp!) Firefall,
a band from the 70's was the featured attraction. The afternoon thunderstorms had
moved on and the sun was out. The park was crowded and people were having a good
time. Notice the man sitting on the edge of the stage playing "air guitar" to the
We are now headed to Independence Pass. The highest pass in the USA at just over
12,000 feet. The road is narrow and windy, although usually there is room for two
vehicles at the same time. It climbs about 6,000 feet from Glenwood Springs to the
We made it to the top, 12,095 feet. The bike ran fine, no hesitation or stalling.
From here it is on to Pike's Peak via the Royal Gorge.
The "Royal Gorge Bridge" is a huge tourist trap! It is owned by Canon City and goes
to nowhere. There is no purpose for this bridge other than to look down into the
gorge. It cost $24/person to enter the grounds. There is a petting zoo, zip line
ride, huge swing ride, a magician and a 1880's western town with a gunfight on the
hour, every hour.
The view was interesting and the ride across the bridge was fun, but definitely not
worth the money. They had the flags of each state along the sides of the bridge,
and there were signs asking you to take a picture of your state and Facebook them
From here it is on to our campsite near Colorado Springs. It is right near the road
that leads up to the top of Pike's Peak. Which we did the next day.
The road is in awesome shape. It is paved all the way to the top. Only the parking
lot is not paved.
The bike ran flawlessly again, and we are another 2,000 feet higher at 14,110.
Going down the picture taking is easier. The road reminded us of some of the roads
in the Alps in Europe.
Not all the road was like this but it was all fun. Most of the road had no guardrail
and if you went off it could be a few thousand feet before you came to a stop. Definitely
not a road for someone afraid of heights!
After the run to the top we went to the Garden of the Gods.
This is a collection of sandstone ridges that are almost inside the city limits. This
picture is of the formation known as the "kissing camels". It does take a little
imagination. Visitors can walk or drive through the area and view or climb the ridges.
The place is over-run with tourists. This one is called "Balancing Rock:".