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June 1, 2012

NXNW Motorcycle Trip - Day 1: 'Dodging Bears'

Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly in the shadow of the continental divide in the mountain town of Estes Park, Colorado, just outside the eastern entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Date: June 1, 2012

Motorcycle Odometer:
Morning Odometer Reading: 24,281.0
Evening Odometer Reading: 24,475.0 24,375.0
Miles traveled: 94

GPS Readings:
Trip Odometer: 94.8 miles
Max Speed 81.1 mph
Elevation: 7,551 ft
Total Ascent: 9,680 ft
Max Elevation: 9,328 ft

GPS Tracks:
Follow my path online with contour maps, satellite images, etc.
Day 1 GPS Tracks


Somehow, I manage to drag myself out of bed at 8:00 a.m., which pretty much never happens because I'm such a slacker.

The generals say that "You don't go to war with the army you wish you had, You go to war with the army you have."

So, to me, this means that I'm not going on the road trip with the ideal configuration. I'm going on the road with what I have. Now, I have a load of little goodies that I wish I had...Pannier mounts, Canon panniers, GoPro cameras, etc.

I go online and order everything I wish I had, so that I'll have it for the next trip. But I won't have it for this trip. I am OK with this. This is the army I have. Not the army I wish I had.

I pack up an iPhone 4S, an iPad 3, a bluetooth keyboard, a laptop, three cameras, three lenses, 3 GPS's, Bose headphones, my passport, a .45 caliber Colt M1911, and some cash. I don't like going on the road without some walking around money. I hate leaving the country without cash. I just won't do it. And if I have cash, I figure I'll carry a pistol. So don't plan on robbing me. That would be a bad move. I'm a good shot. Ask Mark.

Then I made up this long list of tasks to do today. Things that I absolutely have to get done or I won't be able to enjoy my time off. Mailed the title of my bike to a stranger in Seaside, California. Payed the rent in San Francisco. Paid the mortgage in Colorado.

Called and set up trash for auto payment as they didn't pick it up today. Turns out it was due to Memorial Day. Whatever.

Then I raced down the hill to do a trillion little errands. Dropped off the Tahoe to have the driveline balanced, since those idiots at Emich Chevrolet screwed it up so royally. Somehow, they got it so that when you drive down a perfectly flat road, it bumps and humps like you're driving across a cow pasture. Thanks guys. Thanks for that.

So now, I have to trailer my bike down the hill so that I can drop off the Tahoe to get the driveline balanced, and then I'll drive my bike home. So, I'm trailering the bike down the hills and somehow, I end up near Wadwsorth and Highway 285. Police are everywhere. Thick as thieves. Of course, I'm freaking out. The plates are expired on everything. Tahoe. Trailer. Bike. Everything.

Cops. Firetrucks. Ambulances. More cops than I've ever seen at once in my life. Fish and Fur. Sheridan City Police. Jefferson County Deputies. You name it. I'm ready to jump out a window. Call Robert and he tells me it's a police funeral. Go figure. I'd love to know how much taxpayer money they blew on that little event. Unbelievable.

Go take some money out of the bank because, if you get too much in there, it's not a good thing. You think it's your money, but I've found out otherwise. So, when I get above a certain threshhold, I start drawing down the account because I don't trust the banks. No sir.

By the time I get all of my little errands done, it's about 7:00 p.m. So, I've got maybe an hour of daylight left, right? And this sucks, because I wanted to leave this morning. But it is what it is. I'm finally all packed and ready to go just as the sun is starting to set but I'm not spending another night at my house.

The problem with doing all of these tedious little chores is that, at the end of the day, you've really just done a bunch of tedious little chores. And there's no end to them. You could spend a lifetime just running the chainsaw, cutting up fallen timber, mowing, weed eating, refilling the bird bath and bird feeder. But that's not what I want to do with my time.

Jennifer left for New Mexico today. I don't want to be here at the house all alone. I want to hit the road and finally, I figure I've done enough chores and I just decide to bolt. And if it's nearly dark, then so be it. I'll get as far down the road as I can manage.

Now, ostensibly, the purpose of this trip is to drive the motorcycle from Colorado to California, since my bike in California bit the dust halfway between Big Sur and San Simeon on the Pacific Coast Highway (3 miles north of Lucia) a week or so ago.

But, in reality, this is a little mini-vacation because my path from Colorado to San Francisco is anything but straight. I actually plan to go through Canada on the way. And it doesn't take a genius to figure out that Canada's not between Colorado and California. But that's the plan, in any event.

I call Bob but he's down the hill so I roll over to Bud's house and ask him to take some photos of me for posterity's sake. Like, I don't delude myself into thinking that my little adventures are not without risk. They're clearly risky. But it's the only excitement I get in my life, and it's not something I'm willing to do without.

"Bud...come take some shots of me before I leave!" I call out to the group assembled on the deck.

Bud comes down and graciously agrees to take a few shots.

"Where' ya headed this time?" he asks.

"Canada," I reply.


"Because I can."

For me, that's really all there is to it. If I'm able to drive a dirt bike to Canada, then why not try it? I mean...we're all going to die one day. There's no other way out. It's my personal belief that the meek shall inherit nothing. All I know is that I've never been to Glacier National Park and everyone I've ever talked to that's been there says I have to go. So I'm going. That's all there is to it. Plain and simple.

I roll out of dodge and sort of imagine the path I'll take. I have a bunch of GPS technology with me, but I'm not gong to need it for today. My goal is to make it to Estes Park, but I could probably drive there with my eyes closed.

Take the new Central City Parkway, also known as the Million Dollar Highway because it cost some crazy amount of money to blast a road through the hills. Central City and Blackhawk are both old mining towns turned limited-stakes gambling towns. The road from Idaho Springs invariably led into Black Hawk first, instead of Central City. Central City couldn't stand this, so they blasted an insane road through the mountains that came into Central City first.

I'm going this way because it's wider and safer and I want to get on up the road a piece. I've seen this area so many times I could drive it blindfolded.

Trying to make good time, so I'm shooting from the saddle. Now, this amused my buddy Doug to no end. He couldn't believe that I do this. But basically, I just let go of the handlebars, and shoot through the lens, while I'm driving down the road. The trick is to try to keep it close to a normal (50mm) lens setting, which is what the human eye sees. If you get to far away from this, it's hard to keep from driving into oncoming traffic or from driving off the shoulder, because your perspective is totally distorted.

Stop on the side of the road to snap a few pics and a guy pulls over and asks if I'm OK. I'm like..."Dude...thank you very much for stopping. I'm fine, but I greatly appreciate you stopping to check on me." In California, no one would stop. Not even other motorcyclists. I was shocked.

I give him my contact information which I've printed up for the trip as I always do. I don't know if people care about my little peregrinations or not, but I sort of like to give them the opportunity to stalk me if they're so inclined. I meet the nicest people on the road, so it seems a simple thing to offer.

I head up the scenic route called the "Peak to Peak Highway". Originally, it was supposed to go all the way down south, past Mount Evans, to connect with PIke's Peak. But they never finished the southern leg of it, and now they never will, of course.

Sun setting.Temperature dropping as I roll north. I didn't layer up before I got cold because this is my strategy. I want to get cold before I start putting on my heavy gear, otherwise I end up sweating like a pig for the first 30 miles or so. But now, sun setting. Getting colder. Much colder now. Road appears to be wet and slick.

Stop to shoot the sun setting behind the continental divide. This is the part that frustrates me. Why do I toss so many days into the trash? Why am I not out here more often? What makes us think it's OK to trade these sunsets for television shows, late hours at the office, or naps? How is that a fair trade?

Try to apply what I've learned from Ansel Adams to get the contrast just right, but it's hard to do with the bright sky and dark mountains. I'm not able to get the shots I want. But it's fun just to be here trying.

Getting darker. Getting colder. Now, I can hardly see. It's not safe to drive at night. I'm fully cognizant of this fact. I don't like to drive at night. But I do want to make it to Estes Park tonight, so I keep on. Once I get past Nederland, it starts to snow. Now, this really sucks. The road is already wet. And the night is black as coal. My coon-hunter headlight does precious little to illuminate the road obstacles and now I'm about to hit an elk. He's so close I can smell him as I pass, but somehow I miss him. Dunno how. Only missed him by a few feet.

Slow down to about 45 mph. Still 30 miles to get to Estes Park. Slow dangerous route through the mountains. WHere are the other cars? WHy am I the only one on the road tonight?

Now, something moving on the right shoulder. The fuzzy blur moves across the road right in front of me. Large black bear lumbers across the road, from my right to left. I pull over and stop. Try to get a photo, but it's too dark. The flash illuminates his eyes as he watches me, but the autofocus won't work, so I move on.

Cold wet road. Probably should change my riding gear now. But no. Must keep driving on. Slowly. Cold wet mountain road. Animals are really moving tonight. Light snow falling. This is insanity. Finally, I see the lights of Estes Park and I can't tell you how glad I am to see them. Way down below, scads of little lights. Now, dropping down, switchbacking down Colorado 7 into the valley below. So relieved to be back in civilization. I dunno why I do this to myself. I truly don't. Exhausted, I check into the first little motel I come to. Then go for drinks at "Ed's Cantina". I'm like...seriously? "Ed's Cantina?" Wow.

They say the generals are always ready to fight the last war.

I pick up some snacks and drinks on the way back to the motel so I don't die of dehydration / starvation like I almost did on the Pacific Coast Highway a few days ago.

Go back and crash in the motel. So tired I cannot say and I only drove 94 miles today. Why do I do this to myself? Why can't I just be normal like everybody else?

------- END OF STORY ------


Start trying to copy all of my photos out of the iPad 3 using Apple's directions for importing photos from iPad to XP via the Scanner and Camera Wizard just because I hate iTunes so much I start having seizures whenever I think about learning how it works.

Somehow, I've got 9,663 photos on the iPad and I don't want to go on the road with thousands of photos jammed into it that I don't even want.

Eventually, I gave up on the Scanner and Camera Wizard. It might work, but it's too tedious. I want to keep about 5,000 photos, and delete about 5,000 photos, but you have to select each one individually. The Scanner and Camera Wizard got the PC so hosed up I had to just turn it off. Argh!

Now, I'm going to try using Apple's Patented Oversyncing Nightmare, whereby we'll sync the photos, unnecessarily, to the laptop, then delete them from the laptop, which will then delete them from the camera. Sounds easy right?

Finally get the photos copied from iPad 3 to laptop. Move all the photos I don't want on the iPad to a different folder. Try to sync the laptop with the iPad, and now I have a choice of "Revert" or "Apply". Seriously? WTF?

I just clicked "Apply". I have no idea how freaking iTunes works. I'm just guessing. No clue.

Sync "failed to start". Can't sync. Can't revert. Brilliant.

I disconnected the iPad and turned it off. Turned it back on. Reconnected it. It says now that it's "Analyzing photo library", which looks promising...

It looks like it's working. It says "Syncing Photos to "The Coolest iPad 3 On The Planet" (Step 4 of...)" and then below that it says "Copying photo 93 of 3277..."

ZOMG it might actually do what I wanted it to? Yikes.

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 1, 2012 at 8:12 AM


HEY! What about day 2,3,4, etc.???

Posted by: Steve on June 5, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Steve, All of the days of the trip should be there if you go to www.peeniewallie.com and scroll down. :)

Posted by: Rob Kiser Author Profile Page on June 7, 2012 at 1:04 PM

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