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Trip 2002 - The Big Circle

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The trip started out well this year. I was on the road by noon on Friday and making good time. Making good time all the way to Iowa that is. Then the wind started picking up and I had to stop every 70 miles or less just to rest my aching shoulders. I noticed during one of these stops that the small leak I had was getting pretty messy. I decided to stop in Des Moines and find a Harley shop.

As I'm approaching Des Moines the wind is so strong the sun screen is blown off my big nose and into my right eye. With one blind eye and a leaky bike I pull off at the first exit I can see and what do I find at the bottom but a Harley store, Zook's Harley exit 136 on I-80 in Des Moines. In the back Jeff and Jerry sort out the problem in seconds, a kinked primary gasket. Five dollars and fifteen minutes later I'm out of there.

With a working bike I road until I got too tired to go on. That and the lightning ahead really started to get close. So I stopped in a random rest stop in Nebraska and slept on a table. The next day it was into the wind again. Across Nebraska and into Colorado, where I stopped at the Iron Horse Saloon for lunch. The owners were riders too and we talked for a bit, but I had to move on. I was finally starting to make some time in Colorado when I started seeing smoke. I continued on and the smoke got bigger. Finally, I saw flames. I pulled over at No Name Canyon rest stop to find out what was going on. Like most Colorado rest stops there wasn't even a map, much less news. People were just sort of wandering about. Finally I asked a guy what was going on. It turns out he went outside at work and saw 60 foot flames approaching and a cop telling him to get the heck out of there. Everyone was heading East and I-70 was closed at Glenwood Springs.

It was about 20 miles back before I finally found a gas station. Everyone was running around, buying gas and water. I topped off the tank and went inside to buy a map. Inside I heard some ladies talking about taking Cottonwood pass around the fire. The one lady was telling the other to just follow because they had a long line of people already following a tow truck. I asked if I could follow too and they said yes.

I got in line with everyone else, right behind me was a box truck. What they neglected to tell me was that the pass was just a dirt road and at places the dirt was so fine it was even lighter than sand and at least a foot deep. The wind of course was blowing so there were many times I couldn't see the ground much less the car in front of me. I just kept going trying not to fall down and get run over by the truck behind me. thankfully he was and excellent driver and I was actually glad he was behind me instead of some fool who would hit me while trying not to get stuck in the sand.

If the sand and dirt weren't hard enough on a Softtail Custom next came the switchback. I was down two turns before the wind blew and opening in the dust cloud so I could see. I was on a dirt and sand road sloped very steep and only a little more than one car length wide. There was no guard rail and a very steep drop off. Oh and don't forget the truck behind me.

Finally though I made it. Charlie, the guy who led us through, and his wife Bonnie invited me over to their home to shower. I showered and sat in a chair for a few hours trying to recover from that ride. I had to go though. We were in Glenwood Springs, only about a mile from the fire itself. Bonnie and Charlie weren't even sure if their house would be safe. So around 10 I left to finish my circle around the fire.

More steep mountain passes, but at least this time the roads were paved. About 1 AM I saw a car wash and pulled over. The bike really needed a cleaning. I mean old Bessie was DIRTY. So I pulled in and took all the junk off the back of the bike and washed her down. She actually looked pretty good when I was done. However, by this time I was dog tired. I had been up riding since 5 AM and it was now around 3 or 4 AM. Instead of putting everything back on the bike I just unrolled my sleeping pad and slept right there in the car wash.

The next day I only drove about 150 or 200 miles before stopping in Utah and sleeping most of the day and night. In the morning I met Dragon and TJ. Two Guys from the Flaming Kings Motorcycle Club in LA. Actually I believe Dragon was the President, at least that's what his jacket said. It turns out they were heading back to LA so we road together as far as Las Vegas. Along the way we met another couple heading to Vegas to. The pictures of these people will be up later though, My batteries died in the digital camera and I couldn't take pictures until I recharged them. I bought a disposable and I will scan the pictures when I get the chance.

I decided at the last minute to stay n Vegas. Actually, I was 40 miles past and decided to go back. Of course I shouldn't have, but I can never seem to resist temptation. After staying up way too late and losing too much money I left for San Diego. I met some interesting Canadians who wouldn't leave the table long enough to have breakfast or take a picture. We traded numbers but I couldn't read his handwriting. So Darrel and Denise if your reading this email me at driver001@hotmail.com so we can hook up when I go through Canada.

I'm finally made it to San Diego. I'll be here for a while so don't expect too many updates for a while.