Motorcycle Vacation - June 21-29, 2008

We packed and hopped on the ST1300 after breakfast on Saturday, June 21. We were on vacation pace, and hit the road late-ish, about 9:45 AM. Our destination was Avon, Colorado, near Vail, to stay with a stranger we had never met via the Motorcycle Travel Network. This organization allows bikers to stay with other bikers when traveling, making for a more pleasant experience and saving lots of hotel dollars. We had stayed at a place in New Plymouth, Idaho last year, and it worked out well for us. This year we have hosted 5 bikers (four singles and one couple), each for a night or two, since the end of May. All very pleasant and trouble free. I had previously contacted our host and received detailed directions to his place and an updated phone number. All looked to be good, as this was a very expensive area to stay.

After an hour of freeway we turned off and headed towards Wolf Creek Pass, an awesome motorcycle road. There was a marathon going on, and while the runners posed no issue, the several hundred vehicles painted with supportive messages and full of supportive people made for some random and hazardous traffic. We safely made our way clear and had a great time over the pass and on through Duchesne , Vernal, Rangely, and Rifle to get onto Interstate 70. The area through Glenwood Canyon and on to Avon has to be one of the most scenic and exciting stretches of Interstate in the country. We arrived at the house, following the concise directions, at about 5PM and found nobody home. Since I had forecasted our arrival time to be at 6, I was not too worried, even though I had called the supplied cell number several times that day - only to get a "mailbox full" message.

The neighbors in the small cul-de-sac all noted and acknowledged us. One even offered some ice water. They said the folks had been in that morning. The next door neighbor was reading a novel in a hammock in her back yard, and she told us the couple often worked late - even as late as 10PM. But if they were expecting us, perhaps they had left a door open and a note. After an hour I tried the garage door (locked) and the back door (unlocked). Other than a very friendly calico cat, there was no note for us inside. Nor was there any sign of a guest room. There were three cots located in three different rooms around the house, all covered by laundry, and all rooms filled with "storage" items. No effort had been made to receive guests. I taped a note to the garage door and we went into town and had an excellent dinner of filet mignon and a fine Albarino wine. By 8:30 I decided we should look for something else. The GPS was helpful, informing me that the Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton were very close. Also way over budget. We finally found a nice B&B Inn about 10 miles away in Minturn, Colorado. The manager took pity on us and rented us a very nice room for $110 tax included. Our erstwhile host finally called at 9:30. Upon being informed that we had given up and procured a hotel, his total comment was, "Well that's all right then." I subsequently reported him to the MTN organizers, and he has been permanently banned from the network. Serves him right, the bastard...

After an awesome breakfast of pancakes and bacon, we loaded up and headed south, passing through Leadville, Buena Vista, Salida, Canon City, Walsenburg, Ft. Garland, San Luis, Questa, and finally Taos. Approaching Walsenburg the weather was threatening, but we stayed dry. Lightning flashed around us on the mountains as we passed through Ft. Garland and San Luis. Just south of San Luis the radar detector started pinging, and I knew there was a cop using instant-on radar ahead. There were also some nasty crosswinds, best dealt with by a goose of throttle. Just after one such episode, the radar detector nearly exploded and we saw the deputy in the unmarked Dodge Charger Hemi turn around after us. Damn. I pulled over and waited, and he approached, staying well behind us out of eyesight. I craned my neck to see he was very nervous, with his hand on his holstered pistol. "What's up?" I asked, fully knowing what was up. "Just a minute and I'll tell you." I noted that he could not see my right hand, so I raised it for him to see it was empty. "You were speeding, 78 in a 65. Let me see your license and registration." Not wanting to make him more nervous, I explained in detail where the documents in question were located (license in my pocket and bike docs in the left saddlebag). I suggested that to comply, my wife would have to get off the bike, and then I would also, and I asked if it was OK to proceed along those lines. He allowed her to get off, and directed her to stand well away from the bike on the far side, keeping the bike between him and her. He then indicated that I could get off. I slowly removed gloves and helmet, making sure he had full view of my thinning, gray hair. I then described in detail where my license was, the asked for permission to proceed. We went on like this for 15 minutes while he verified that my license, registration, inspection, and insurance were all correct and current. Never moving his right hand more than an inch from his pistol, he took my docs back to the patrol car to write the ticket. I remained at the bike, both hands resting on the saddle in plain sight. After a minute of checking that my record was totally clean, he returned. "I never let anyone off for speeding on this road. But you showed a lot of concern for my personal safety, and I appreciate that. Have a nice day." He handed my docs back and left. No ticket - Score one for the good guys!

This lengthy and windy delay was sufficient to allow us to miss all the rain storms and make our way to Taos and stay dry. We stayed there Sunday-Friday nights and made contact with many of our biker friends at WeSTOC XIII. As helpers to the organizing team, we worked a lot more than we rode the bike, and it was all good. The Northern New Mexico food was also a big plus for us - I gained 8 pounds that week! A good time was had by all, and I was awarded the coveted STOC Silver Tongue award for escaping a ticket. It's proudly on display on my office door at work. We made our way home with our friend Darryl on his Gold Wing, and he spent a night with us before continuing on to visit his father in Oregon before arriving home to his lonely wife in Seattle! Darryl is pictured here riding along Interstate 70 near Vail, Colorado.

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