Planned Route – Week 9

Day 57 – Thu 29 Aug – Austin, TX to Lake Charles, LA
Day 58 – Fri 30 Aug – Lake Charles, LA to New Orleans, LA
Day 59 – Sat 31 Aug – New Orleans, LA
Day 60 – Sun 01 Sep – New Orleans, LA to Vicksburg, MS
Day 61 – Mon 02 Sep – Vicksburg, MS to Memphis, TN
Day 62 – Tue 03 Sep – Memphis, TN to Nashville, TN
Day 63 – Wed 04 Sep – Nashville, TN

After 8 weeks riding, it is only in the 9th week that I start getting to the “Southern 14”, which  are the main objective of this second trip. Doreen hadn’t been to many of the southern states either, so it will be good to incorporate some of them into her visit. We did toy with the idea of all of Doreen’s visit being in these states, but if we did that there wouldn’t be an opportunity for her to visit Martha, Korilyn or Lisa.

Apart from a week long conference visit in 2003, I haven’t been to any of the “Southern 14” previously, so I have no pictures to post for these route plans.

From Austin, we’re heading for New Orleans, with an over night stop planned for Lake Charles. We’re planning to stay for a couple of nights in New Orleans and hoping to be able to meet up there with our friend Bill. On our 2011 trip, Bill was living in Billings, MT and we used his house as a base for the start and end of Doreen’s initial 2 week adventure. I had been thinking that I’d head up to Billings to see Bill after riding Beartooth Pass, before heading down to Sturgis, but Bill had other plans and decided to move to Florida. I possibly have a chance to meet up with Bill again in Florida, but for Doreen, the only real opportunity to see Bill is if he comes along to New Orleans or our final destination of this leg, Nashville, TN.

After our 2 nights in New Orleans, we are planning to ride up to Nashville, with overnighters in Vicksburg, MS and Memphis, TN. Unfortunately, Nashville is the end of the line for Doreen’s part in this adventure. She flies home from there on Thursday 5th September.

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Planned Route – Week 8

Day 51 – Fri 23 Aug – San Diego, CA to Mesa, AZ(Martha)
Day 52 – Sat 24 Aug – Mesa, AZ
Day 53 – Sun 25 Aug – Mesa, AZ to Silver City, NM
Day 54 – Mon 26 Aug – Silver City, NM to Fort Stockton, TX
Day 55 – Tue 27 Aug – Fort Stockton, TX to Austin, TX(Korilyn)
Day 56 – Wed 28 Aug – Austin, TX

This week is really all about visiting friends and family, and covering the distance between them at a fairly rapid pace, with 300+ miles a day the norm. After leaving Lisa and San Diego, we’re planning to ride east to Mesa, AZ to visit Doreen’s sister, Martha and family.

The plan is stay 2 nights in Mesa, and then ride to Silver City (home of Billy the kid), via Tombstone. I visited both of these historic wild west towns on my last trip, and there is a certain hotel in Silver City that I’d like to stay at again if we get the chance.

From New Mexico

From Silver City, it is a relatively hard ride to Austin, TX. We’re planning to break the journey at Fort Stockton as over 700 miles in one day might be pushing it. I’ve managed 800 in a day before but that took over 12 hours hard riding and I really don’t think Doreen is going to be up for that.

From Texas

Austin has a lot of fond memories for Doreen and I. It is  the place that I proposed to Doreen during our last adventure, and thankfully she said yes. It’s also home to one of Doreen’s dearest friends, Korilyn, who was maid of honour at our wedding last year.  We’re planning on stopping a couple of nights in Austin, TX, which might also give me the chance to catch up with our friend Max if I miss him in Indianapolis in the first week.

From Our Wedding

Planned Route – Week 7

Day 44 – Fri 16 Aug – Mexican Hat, UT to Torrey, UT
Day 45 – Sat 17 Aug – Torrey, UT to Cedar City, UT
Day 46 – Sun 18 Aug – Cedar City, UT to Page, AZ
Day 47 – Mon 19 Aug – Page, AZ to Flagstaff, AZ
Day 48 – Tue 20 Aug – Flagstaff, AZ to Blythe, CA
Day 49 – Wed 21 Aug – Blythe, CA to San Diego, CA – (Lisa?)
Day 50 – Thu 22 Aug – San Diego, CA

Most of this week will be spent touring the National Parks in southern Utah and, of course, Grand Canyon. When I started thinking what route Doreen and I should take from Denver to San Diego, it became obvious pretty quickly that this was an area we had to ride. I’d visited southern Utah almost by accident on my last trip. After riding through Death Valley, I’d headed down to Las Vegas with the intention of staying a couple of nights and then riding over to Grand Canyon . I’d even booked and paid for my hotel ahead of time. But one night in Vegas was more than enough. First thing the next morning, I packed up the Trooper and escaped by heading into Utah without any particular plan. I happened upon Zion National Park almost by chance and what a refreshing difference it was from Vegas. The scenery in southern Utah is some of the most stunning of my whole trip.

From South Utah

Knowing that Doreen hasn’t been to Utah, I’ve planned this leg of the journey to take in as much of south Utah as we have time for. It really is a “you’ve gotta see this” place. All you Route 66ers, you really would do yourselves a favour taking a couple of days to go north into Utah after visiting Grand Canyon.

From South Utah

I really won’t mind in the slightest re-visiting some of these beautiful National Parks, and I’ve planned in checking out a few I missed last time, such as Goblin Valley.

From South Utah

I’m also quite keen to go back to Grand Canyon. Last time I has there, the canyon was shrouded in fog, almost the entire time, aside from one spot on the road, where I did get to see it.

From Arizona
From Arizona

From Grand Canyon, we’ll take a couple of days to ride the scenic routes down to San Diego to visit our friend Lisa. We’ll stay a couple of nights in San Diego, and if they’re in town, I’ll also try to see Derrick and Megan (aka Mango and Dango), the couple who made my visit to Seattle in 2011 so memorable.

Planned Route – Week 6

Day 37 – Fri 09 Aug – Sturgis, SD to Laramie, WY
Day 38 – Sat 10 Aug – Laramie, WY to Golden, CO
Day 39 – Sun 11 Aug – Golden, CO to Denver, CO
Day 40 – Mon 12 Aug – Denver, CO to Glenwood Springs, CO
Day 41 – Tue 13 Aug – Glenwood Springs, CO to Montrose, CO
Day 42 – Wed 14 Aug – Montrose, CO to Cortez, CO
Day 43 – Thu 15 Aug – Cortez, CO to Mexican Hat, UT

Week 6 is the week Doreen arrives! She’s flying into Denver, CO, on Sunday 11th August and spending almost 4 weeks riding with me. The plan is to spend the first part of her trip touring Colorado and southern Utah, which I thought had some of the most stunning scenery of my last trip. Then to spend some time visiting friends and family between San Diego and Austin, before rounding off her trip in the southern states. She is due to fly out of Nashville, TN, on Thursday 5th September.

From Colorado

I’m going to stop in Sturgis until Friday 9th August, in order to see Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Buffalo Chip. I really hope they turn up this time. I’ll still have a few days before Doreen flies  in, so the plan is to take a scenic route down to Denver to reunite with Doreen. Because we’ll only have the one bike, I’ll have to forward more than half my luggage on for collection in Nashville. This will include all my cold weather gear, so I hope the weather behaves for us.

Doreen isn’t going to get much time to recover from her long flight, because after one night in Denver, we’ll be hitting the road again. The plan is to take in more of the beautiful Rockies, with its waterfalls and switchbacks, riding west to Glenwood Springs. From there it’s south down to Montrose and then Durango, via the Million Dollar Highway – another of America’s great motorcycle roads, before cutting west again to Cortez.

From Cortez, it should be sightseeing all the way. Right by Cortez is the Mesa Verde National Park, then onto Four Corners Monument, where Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah meet. From there we’ll be heading up to Mexican Hat in southern Utah, but not before visiting the Navajo National Monument and Monument Valley.

From South Utah

Planned Route – Week 5 (Sturgis Week)

Week 5 is Sturgis week!

From Downtown Sturgis

The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was one of the many highlights of the trip last time – 600,000 bikers apparently when Doreen and I were there in 2011, and there may be even more this time since it’s Harley-Davidson’s 110th Anniversary – so I’m coming back, but solo this time, as Doreen won’t be joining me until a few days after Sturgis.

From Downtown Sturgis

Last time we were here, Doreen had just flown in from Scotland and we did the whole thing quite gently, one night in a “quiet” campsite (Lamphere Ranch Campsite, Sturgis, SDhighly recommended if you want a campsite with good facilities to get a reasonable night’s sleep, but not too far from the action), then alternating with the next night in a hotel in places like Deadwood and Custer City.

From Deadwood

This time around, I’m planning on basing myself in Sturgis and camping for the whole week. As I’ll be based in one place there is no route, per se, for this week, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any riding. The Black Hills around Sturgis have some splendid rides and sights to see, such as Spearfish Canyon, Deadwood, Custer State Park, Devil’s Tower, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse memorial, etc. I’ve done many of these rides, but it will be no hardship to do some of them again.

From Ride to Devil’s Tower
From Rushmore, Crazy Horse & Custer

One ride I do want to do this time is to go out to the Wounded Knee battlefield and memorial for the many Lakota men, women and children who were massacred by the US 7th Cavalry in December 1890. The US Army awarded 20 Medals of Honour for the slaughter. I missed the opportunity to visit the site when we were here last, but since I found the many historic sites in and around the Black Hills very moving, this is a site I hope to visit this time.

Being somewhat of a metalhead, one of the major appeals of Sturgis for me, aside from the bikes and the riding, is the live music. Many of the bars and campgrounds put on big name acts during the rally, and the daddy of them all is the Buffalo Chip. The line-up I’ve spotted so far looks like this (which kind of acts in lieu of a route for this week):

Day 30 – Fri 02 Aug – Queensryche @ Buffalo Chip
– Brian Howe (from Bad Company) @ Glencoe
Day 31 – Sat 03 Aug – Black Label Society @ Full Throttle
– The Cult / Buck Cherry / Pop Evil @ Buffalo Chip
– Candlebox @ Glencoe
Day 32 – Sun 04 Aug – ZZ Top / Halestorm @ Buffalo Chip
– Warrant / Quiet Riot @ Glencoe
– Black Crowes @ Broken Spoke
– Bret Michaels @ Full Throttle
Day 33 – Mon 05 Aug – Skid Row / LA Guns / Saliva @ Glencoe
– Queens Of The Stone Age @ Broken Spoke
– Kid Rock / Doobie Brothers @ Buffalo Chip
– Gretchen Wilson @ Full Throttle
Day 34 – Tue 06 Aug – Scott Weiland @ Full Throttle
– Molly Hatchet / Lita Ford @ Glencoe
– Korn @ Broken Spoke
– Toby Keith @ Buffalo Chip
Day 35 – Wed 07 Aug – Rob Zombie / Mastodon / Machine Head @ Buffalo Chip
– Vince Neil (from Motley Crue) @ Full Throttle
– Jerrod Niemann / Lee Rocker @ Glencoe
Day 36 – Thu 08 Aug – Lynyrd Skynyrd / Brantley Gilbert / Sweet Cyanide @ Buffalo Chip
– Great White / Bullet Boys @ Glencoe
– Get Big & Rich! @ Full Throttle

This gives me a bit of a problem deciding where to stay. 3 of the 4 venues are campsites (Buffalo Chip, Glencoe, Broken Spoke), whilst Full Throttle is a huge bar. The problem is that the campsites charge for camping, but the bands are free. However, they charge a lot when compared to somewhere, like the Lamphere, that doesn’t have its own entertainment; I could stay there for $20 a night. This is all fine, but if the bands don’t show up for whatever reason, you don’t get a refund, as Doreen and I found out when Lynyrd Skynyrd didn’t show up in 2011 when their lead singer Johnny Van Zant came down with a throat infection. Since most of the bands I really want to see, especially Rob Zombie, are playing at the Buffalo Chip, I opted to stay there and have booked my $380 early bird ticket. The Chip is known for being party central at Sturgis, so I’m doubtful about getting a whole lot of sleep for that week.

From Buffalo Chip, Sturgis

Planned Route – Week 4

Day 22 – Thu 25 Jul – Eugene, OR to Bend, OR
Day 23 – Fri 26 Jul – Bend, OR to Boise, ID
Day 24 – Sat 27 Jul – Boise, ID to Lewiston, ID
Day 25 – Sun 28 Jul – Lewiston, ID to Butte, MT
Day 26 – Mon 29 Jul – Butte, MT to Bondurant, WY – (Alex?)
Day 27 – Tue 30 Jul – Bondurant, WY to Cooke City, MT
Day 28 – Wed 31 Jul – Cooke City, MT to Buffalo, WY
Day 29 – Thu 01 Aug – Buffalo, WY to Sturgis, SD

My plan for the 4th week is to make my way over to Sturgis from the west coast. Last time I was in Oregon I visited Portland and then made my way down the coast to California. This time I’m going to head inland. I’ve heard that Eugene and Bend are pretty cool places, and that Crater Lake is worth seeing. Boise, ID is often mentioned as one of the best places in the US to live, so I’m planning to check that out to. There’s meant to be some pretty good riding round these parts, so my route is a meandering one.

But before I get to Sturgis, there are a few things I need to do. I want to call into Bondurant and say Hi to Alex and her horse-riding dog, and I believe I owe the gang at the Elkhorn a bottle of whisky, but I still won’t be taking part in the Indian Leg Wrestling.

From Wyoming
From Wyoming

After that debt is settled, I’m heading up through Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone was stunnning last time, and I’m hoping it will be again.

From Yellowstone & Grand Teton
From Yellowstone & Grand Teton

However, my ulterior motive for heading up through Yellowstone is that I get to ride Beartooth Pass again, another great bike road which always scores a top spot in top 10 US motorcycle roads.

From Beartooth Pass
From Beartooth Pass
From Beartooth Pass
From Beartooth Pass

From Beartooth, it’s all the way down to Sturgis, SD, via Cody and Buffalo, WY.

Planned Route – Week 3

Day 15 – Thu 18 Jul – Los Angeles, CA to Pismo Beach, CA
Day 16 – Fri 19 Jul – Pismo Beach, CA to Monterey, CA
Day 17 – Sat 20 Jul – Monterey, CA to San Francisco, CA  – (Graham?)
Day 18 – Sun 21 Jul – San Francisco, CA to Mendocino, CA
Day 19 – Mon 22 Jul – Mendocino, CA to Fortuna, CA
Day 20 – Tue 23 Jul – Fortuna, CA to Grants Pass, OR
Day 21 – Wed 24 Jul – Grants Pass, OR to Eugene, OR

This week is all about re-visiting a highlight from the last trip – the California coast. Highway 1 is often mentioned as one of the top 10 roads in the US to ride on a bike and I’d be inclined to agree.

From From SF to LA

Last time I rode north to south, this time I’ll be doing it in the opposite direction.

In San Francisco, I’m hoping to meet up with my Scottish buddy, Graham, who emigrated last year to be with his lovely American fiancé Sarah. They are getting married in mid-October. Graham was at my wedding last year, and I would have loved to have shared their happy day as well, but it’s just too late in the year. California may still be warm in October, but after the wedding, I would have faced the 2 week, 3000 mile ride back to Toronto. Riding across New York State  in mid-October 2 years ago wasn’t my fondest memory of the last time – days of rain and 40+ mile-an-hour winds which uprooted trees in Buffalo, NY. I felt I just couldn’t take the risk of the onset of an early winter on my ride north to Toronto.

From Our Wedding

After San Francisco, my ride will take me back up through the redwoods. There is something very special about the giant redwoods. I just couldn’t do another American road trip without coming to see them one more time.

From Road to San Francisco