Saturday, April 30, 2016

Snowy Ride for Scarlett

I returned home on Thursday this week, leaving behind rainy weather in the Moab, UT area and that rainy weather arrived here last night in the form of snow for us here in the Metro Denver area.

Not much snow has fallen, and it's not sticking to the roads, so not a big deal.

Scarlett and I motored out after breakfast hoping to catch some views of snow-laden branches on local trees.  It snowed lightly the whole time we were out.

 Hey, what's that under the trees?

Next was running to the hardware store for some supplies to try and fix the broken post on the spare tire holder on Fiona.  It broke off during the last ride to Mineral Bottom Road.

 Looks like the previous owner had repaired it by welding?

The parts I got will not work, now trying some JB Weld, though most likely I'll end up cutting off the remnant and putting in a 6.25 bolt to replace the post that broke.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Fiona's last day of riding in Moab area

Quite the day today for the Uralisti who joined the group of 13 Ural sidecar rigs for a ride in the back areas of Arches National Park.

Two more canine monkeys joined us today
That's Kim and Cheryl's Red/White Patrol
These folks have impeccable taste in colors for a rig!

Dana led as usual and soon we were riding on rough trails with plenty of rocks, gravel, loose sand and then more loose sand thrown in for good measure.  The rain we'd had the previous day helped some but some of the spots with reverse camber proved a challenge to many of us.

We did have one rig flip onto its side due to the off camber and loose sand conditions I believe, but rider and monkey survived with only minor injuries; heck they recovered and went riding in Arches National Park!  Kudos to Tracy and Tamara for being such tough Uralisti.

The movie at the end of this posting shows what would prove to be the highlight of the soon to be aborted ride.  It was a steep hill, strewn with rocks of course, but all the rigs proved capable, even Fiona though her rider missed the dang line and got a bit off course near the top!

Due to the accident, it was decided by Dana to turn the group around and head back to the back end of the Arches National Park so everyone could get back onto pavement.

Here's some pictures taken at Arches:

 Balanced Rock is where we emerged from dirt onto pavement

Courthouse Rock

I returned to camp, and joined Milo M for a ride to Mineral Bottom Road.  Milo led as he'd been there before and about 14 miles later, we were descending down a very twisty canyon road to the level of the Green River.  Beautiful area, the river the lined with high rock canyon walls and dramatic rock formations.

Today was Fiona and I's last day of riding for this year's Moab gathering of Uralisti.  Met new friends and rekindled previous friendships.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sunset near Moab, after a rainy day

No riding for me during the day today, got work done instead while it lightly rained on us hear for most of the day.  Gray clouds, steady sprinkling rain and cold but mild winds didn't deter some of the Uralisti however, which I was glad to see.

Not a lot of rain mind you, more of annoyance than anything else.  We here at the campground hope that the sunset we saw tonight augurs for a nice weather day tomorrow so we can get some more group riding accomplished.

Speaking on sunsets though, Troy, the rider from Maine who writes for the Bangor Daily News popped his head in Chris L.'s tent where I was BS'ing and had me come outside to look at the clearing skies and the promising colors of a sunset.

We both geared up and went in separate directions to try and capture the sunset's light.  As I exited with Fiona out of the campground, I saw the nearby butte lit up beautifully by the setting sun which was behind the Seven Mile Ridge across the street.

I didn't get there in time to pose Fiona though, the rich colors dulled quickly as the setting sun made its way westward.

So I decided to chase the sun as it lowered itself in the west horizon.  Fiona and I made good speed along UT Highway 313 which leads one eventually to the Canyonlands National Park.  We didn't go that far, just a few miles past the Monitor and Merrimac Overlook site.

I almost missed the setting sun by the time I found a good spot to pose her along a dirt road about a mile from UT Hwy 313.

We motored home in the rapidly darkening evening light, Fiona's head lamp lighting the pave UT Hwy 313 as we motored on back to the campground.

The rock formations and canyon walls on both sides of the road looked quite nice silhouetted against the evening sky.

Got back with no issues, only sunset pictures today, not much in the way of riding by me.  The new battery on Fiona performed well and I've confirmed she charges nicely at above 2000 RPM.

Moab, the gathering and the first ride

Sunday 24 April, my fellow Uralisti riders started gathering around the Archview Resort campground.  Some trailered their rigs behind trucks and RVs, some rode their rigs from their home destinations.  All gathered to meet new and old friends, talk about our quirky rigs and share news.

 An old "acquaintance", I won't call him friend since he's definitely
reported to be a saboteur of rigs, WTF Chuck showed up  with 
Warcat from Washington state.  Tracy, his current "owner" is trying
for foist, I mean, introduce him to some other lucky rider.

 Left to right:  COB (Crabby Old Bastard) aka Dave Hooker, Dana
the informal leader of this event, Tamara of Canada and Tracey of WA

Enough folks had gathered on Sunday afternoon that wanted to get a quick ride in.  So four rigs left the campground to do the backdoor loop into Arches National Park.  Dana led and got us to this nice view of nearby mountain peaks:

Not any pictures of the rest of the ride, I was too busy trying to not get myself killed or worse, damage Fiona as we traversed steep rocky inclines, really deep sand in dried up river beds and a little bit of water fun where the river actually had a bit of water in puddles.  I definitely wouldn't have tried that route on my own, and Dana threw in some bonus "technical" riding points on the way home that at one point had Fiona stuck on a big rock.  No damage worth reporting however and all four rigs got back safe and sound.

The next Morning, Monday, I managed to get myself out and about before Sunrise:

At the gathering that morning, as folks got themselves organized, I walked about and found this "monkey" ready to go.  That's Newt, COB's buddy:

I also met Troy who writes for a newspaper back in Bangor, ME.  I've read his stuff and admired his photos and videos.  Here is is standing to the right of Randy, our stalwart and supportive URAL dealer in Fort Collins, CO

The route included bumpy rock outcroppings, deep sand whoop-de-doos (where I got stuck once when Fiona's 2WD disengaged suddenly, but I was pushed out by Walt and Troy with only minor issues).  Of course, a few of us hit rocks just right with our outboard muffler and they had to be banged back into place:

 The first of six muffler "re-engagements", Milo was first.
I was second, and so on.

 One of the founding members of this group, Walt, with
the Monitor and Merrimac Stone formations behind him.

Fiona and I on the trail
photo courtesy John S. aka Spat

We got to the Monitor and Merrimac rock formations with no major issues, and parked the rigs after negotiating the steeply inclined slope which basically marks the furthest point manageable by URAL rigs.  We had a lunch break there:

 Randy and Tammy of Unique Rides, Colorado

 Walt, John aka Spat and Milo try and solve the problems of the world

 Tammy's beautifully painted rig

Fiona rests besides Troy's rig.

That's it for photos however, we left soon after the above photo as clouds were getting grayer by the minute and Dana didn't want the group to be in the wash areas just in case of flash flooding.

He and I had electrical issues with our rigs in that the batteries were not charging so there were multiple trouble shooting stops to delay us.  We determined Fiona's alternator wasn't charging the battery so after the last jump using my portable jump starter, I just keep the throttle high and charged out the wilderness back into camp.

Trying to get Fiona re-started.
photo courtesy John S. aka Spat

Dana's rig had to be towed in by COB's rig, much to his "dismay".  So, all the rigs that went out, came back, no one hurt.

Dan, Spat and I, rode into town later to get new batteries for our rigs.  They're both now operational.

Great day of riding with many challenging spots.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Cathedral Valley, Utah

Friday, the 23rd of April, I drove my loving wife's car, the X5 Bimmer, trailering Fiona, my '99 URAL Patrol sidecar rig with the Beemer engine.  It was time for the yearly meeting of Ural sidecarists in Moab you see; but I wanted to work in a visit to Cathedral Valley in the Capitol Reef National Park.

Got there in the middle of the afternoon, checking out the 25 kilometers it takes to get to this remote valley from UT Highway 24.  I was hoping to be able to later drive the car/trailer in to the planned campsite.  It turned out to be too many patches of loose sand for my comfort.

 Our first look at the two big rock formations in Cathedral Valley:
Left: Temple of the Moon and Right: Temple of the Sun

 Temple of the Sun

 I've been told I should include more pictures of myself.
Glad I was the only one in the whole valley as I felt a bit foolish
getting the above and below shots.

 It sadly wasn't much of a colorful sunset on Friday.

I camped just at the border of the Capitol Reef National Park, on Bureau of Land Management or BLM land.  I was, I am pretty sure, the sole person in the whole valley, had it all to myself.  It was very windy however, so I didn't get much sleep with all the wind noises and watching the walls of my tent threaten to cave in on top of me!

Finally, sometime after midnight, I finally fell asleep, but didn't get more than a couple of hours of uninterrupted sleep I think.  My alarm woke me at 5:30 AM and as I opened my eyes, I saw what appeared to be the sun shining through the tent ceiling!  I thought I'd missed the sunrise, turns out it was a very bright moon shining through due to my rain cover having been ripped off by the winds!

It wasn't too cold, so I geared up and got on Fiona to enter the park and drive less than one mile to what I thought was a nice spot to capture the moon and the Temple of the Sun rock formation:

Sunrise came but it took a while before its light actually hit the rock formations in Cathedral Valley.  The initial painting done by the sun's light was gorgeous!

As the sun rose higher in the sky, the warm reds and oranges went away but there was still some good color whenever the sun shone out from behind the clouds in the eastern sky.

 The road that gets one near both rock formations allows for good
angles on the Temple of the Sun but I failed to get good angles for
the Temple of the Moon

I left Cathedral Valley around 8:20 AM and got back to the spot where I'd left the car/trailer.  Loaded up Fiona and we motored over to Torrey, UT.  I checked in with my loving wife as there had been no cellphone coverage anywhere near Caineville, UT where the road begins to Cathedral Valley.

To the south I saw thick gray clouds and it was lightly sleeting on us there in Torrey.  So I canceled the plan to ride UT Highway 12 towards Escalante, it'll have to be some other day.

Instead I retraced my way along UT Highway 24 back to the I-70 Superslab and took it eastbound to exit 182 for Moab, UT.

Got there shortly after 1:00 PM, the whole area was being sand blasted by very strong winds which picked up the loose sand and flayed exposed skin.  The wind was so bad that the campsite office where I had reservations lost power and I couldn't check in.

I unloaded Fiona from the trailer and motored over to Cotter Mine road, thinking I'd see how rough the Seven Mile Ridge road was to negotiate.  It turned out to be quite nasty, strewn with large rocks, larger ruts and a steep narrow trail with sharp drop-offs.  I went up just to the first turn and chickened out.

The view of Seven Mile Ridge, the top of which I'd
hope to get to, but not on a URAL!

When I returned to the Archview Resort, I took the time to fix (again) the ground wire for the main headlight which wasn't working.  By the time I finished, they'd restored power to the campsite office and I was able to check in.

Got myself settled in, going to call it an early night, tired from a restless night in Cathedral Valley!
I sort of miss the alone time I had in that valley, the Archview resort is swarming with campers, RVs, and vehicles moving about even at 9:00 PM as I finish this!

The Uralisti start to arrive tomorrow, it should be a fun time, at least till I have to leave to go back home on Thursday.