Sunday, May 31, 2009

Trail Ridge Road, Check!

Those of you who read my meanderings, know that I tried but failed to ride the whole length of Trail Ridge Road which lies in the northern half of the Rocky Mountain National Park last weekend.

Today, the weather promised to be warmer and sunnier than last weekend so I rode out around 08:45 am today to take another shot at riding the Trail Ridge Road. This time however, I'd do it in reverse, starting from the western end of the park and heading east on the Trail Ridge road.

Again I took the superslabs out of town, this town using the I-25 slab to the I-70 slab westbound. I did however take the US40 exit before reaching C470 and used that to ride a sedate pace parallel to the frantic traffic on westbound I-70. All things come to an end however, and I soon was forced to get on the I-70 slab to proceed towards Empire where US40 leads northwards.

One's view of the Rockies, just past Genesee

I fueled up in the town of Empire and proceeded onwards to Berthoud Pass. The roads were clear and dry and the traffic light. The mountains were mostly cloudy but not overcast like yesterday so I had high hopes for clear weather over the Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP).

Some of the mountain peaks one sees as one approaches Berthoud Pass and the Continental Divide

A wider view

The requisite picture of the pass

I continued northwards on US40, winding and hairpin-turning my way ever downwards. I could see the continental divide mountains to my right as I made my way down to the ski resort town of Winter Park.

The view back towards Berthoud Pass

Once past the towns of Winter Park, Granby and Grand Lake, I could see dark storm clouds approaching the RMNP from the west. Dammit. Still, I was committed to my course and I thought I could possible stay ahead of the storm clouds as I made my way through the park. This was not to be.

On CO34, heading towards the Grand Lake

Still on CO34, looking to the SE between Grand Lake and Granby

I paid my $10 fee and negotiated the 7 hairpin turns or so up towards Milner Pass. You cross the continental divide once again here at Milner Pass by the way. The sky overhead was overcast and it was lightly raining at times. The roads were wet but not bad since the temperatures were holding in the 40s.

Nearing Milner Pass, after transiting about 4-5 hairpin turns or so

I chatted briefly with a German tourist couple who commented favorably on my choice of motorcycle here as I took the above picture.

Once I was enroute once again, I enjoyed pretty dry roads, high walls of snow on the upper side of the road and deep drop-offs on the lower side. Once past the Alpine Visitors Center while lies shortly to the east of Milner Pass, I stopped at an overlook for these pictures:

Looking back at the mountains bordering the Trail Ridge road portions I'd already traversed

Coming up on my favorite part of the Trail Ridge Road

The storm clouds were overhead by now and I'd given up on being able to outpace them. No rain was falling yet though, just the occasional small snowflake so I was not much worried. I got to the overlook area I prefer for shooting the mountain ranges visible from the Trail Ridge Road. It was this spot in fact, where I got the picture of Maria, that I use as a masthead for this blog. Conditions were not as "sunny" as when I rode Maria up there same time last year though:

The pano shots above came out much better in terms of consistent exposure than yesterday's shots, not sure what I did different. Oh well.

I continued on Trail Ridge Road, heading ever eastwards towards Estes Park. As I approached the eastern end of the RMNP it started raining pretty steadily. I didn't think much of it as the temperatures were still in the high 30s by this time. Just when I passed the two mile high elevation sign, I spotted icy hale which still covered the pavement! Apparently the storm had outpaced me and dumped a bunch of pea-sized hale onto the road. I should have known something was wrong when the cars going westwards had what looked like clumps of snow on their hoods!

Since the temperature was still in the high 30s though, it was no problem. All I had to do was make sure to ride in the channels cleared by the cars ahead of me. Everyone was taking it easy and going slowly. The slow speeds however caused my helmet visor to start fogging up a bit and this interfered with visibility but still it was not too bad. Mother Nature even threw in a little bit of hail/snow at me during this stretch of road but still, it wasn't too bad.

I got to "enjoy" the slow traveling in slushy snow bordered channels all the way to the eastern edge of the park. The rain continued to fall steadily though and by this time my visor was wet on the inside and outside. I stopped at a gas station in Estes Park to tank up, put on my waterproof pant liners and dry things up inside my helmet.

Once fully suited up for rain, the rain of course slackened. It didn't stop, just enough to get your attention. I took US36 away from Estes Park and stayed on it with the rain occasionally hitting me as I made my way down to the front range. Still, it was mostly dry roads from the town of Lyons onwards. I'll confess I smirked at the large herds of cruisers clustered around the bars in Lyons. The weather down there was actually nice and warm, with no rain.

I reached Boulder on US36 and while the rain did finally stop and the sun come out, I had to slog my way through the many red light intersections. Woe be unto you if you choose to run a yellow light, the town of Boulder reaps much revenue from camera devices at their intersections.

Once "free" of Boulder, US36 becomes a superslab heading into the Denver Metro area and I took advantage of the dry roads and sunny conditions to pick up the speed. Soon I was at the junction with the I-25 slab which I took southwards to I-225 and thence to the Parker Road exit and my home neighborhoods. I got home just at 4:00 pm, and shed all the warm layers I'd had on since Estes Park. The temperatures in the city had soared to 82°F so I was bordering on "too warm".

I covered 285 miles today, perhaps six hours of saddle time total. Trail Ridge Road is now marked as "done" for this year.

EOM Mileage Readings:
Brigitta: 73,326, Maria: 67450. 2360 miles ridden in May.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

End of May 2009 on Mount Evans

Though it took me a while more than I had planned on, I managed to ride up to the top of Mount Evans today. The US Forest Service claims its the highest Auto road in North American at 14,130 ft in elevation. I'll tell you one thing for sure, weather can be radically different up there than on the Front Range at this time of year!

I rode the superslabs out of the Denver Metro area in order to make up some time since I had slept in this morning. By 10:45 AM I was at Idaho Springs and I-70, fueled up, and heading up on CO103 which is part of the Lariat Loop Scenic Byway towards Mount Evans Road or CO5.

The US Forest Service Ranger told me it was "hailing quite well" at the top as I queued up to pay the $3 charges to motorcyclists. I told her I'd stop if things got bad, while my mind was saying " oh, oh".

Still the initial five miles up Mount Evans Road were just fine. Roads were mostly dry, not much snow at all and not too cold.

Pretty tame looking conditions right?

Yeah, the road was wet, but not slippery at all

Things would get a little more iffy after the above set of pictures!

I went past the Mount Goliath overlook and went past Mile Marker #5. The way ahead was very foggy as this stretch of the Mount Evans Road was in the clouds. Not just any clouds of course, but thick dark ones with occasional bolts of lightning and sounds of thunder seemingly not too far off! Of course, it also started to lightly snow.

My Caberg helmet was having its usual hard time staying unfogged, and I rode all the way to just past Mile Marker 7 before stopping since I basically could not see very far ahead. It was a combination of fog, clouds, ice crystals on the visor and on my eyeglass lenses. It was around 11:45 when I stopped, and I just took the below pictures while trying to "wait the storm out" and continue riding.

Waiting out the light snow fall

As you can see, the snow was not "sticking" to the road

Around 12:05pm, three bicyclists slowly made their way down the mountain road. They stopped near me to adjust their gear and put on some rain gear. I talked to one of them and he said they'd turned back at Mile Marker 12 due to slushy snow accumulating on the road. Not good.

Soon after they left, the mountain top became even more thickly covered in clouds and fog. I figured then that even if I got up there, I would not be able to see much or take pictures. I headed up a bit, but turned back shortly before Mile Marker 8. I road back to the Mount Goliath Overlook at Mile Marker Five after a slow ride down the mountain in a medium snowfall. Lucky for me, the road was too warm and the snow melted immediately on contact with the road surface.

Self portrait, unfortunately taken AFTER I'd brushed off most of the snow

Lunch Site, the Mount Goliath Overlook's Parking Lot

I spent perhaps 45 minutes or so at this overlook, eating the lunch my loving wife had made for me. I wandered about the overlook, took the pictures above and just gazed at the scenery around me while the snow storm blew away. It was a balmy 35°F while I was there, much warmer than the low 30's I'd seen reported by Brigitta's thermometer just two miles up the road!

Finally, close to 1:00pm, I saw a break in the clouds overhead and glorious blue sky with sunshine peeking through! I got Brigitta turned around and started heading back up the road since it was no longer snowing and the road, while wet, remained ice-free. It would in fact, be ice free the whole time I was on the mountain.

So with just a few clumps of slushy ice in the center of the lane, which I easily avoided, I went back past Mile Marker 8 and road all the way to the top of Mount Evans. In fact, once you got high enough you just basically came out into less cloudy conditions, some sunshine and best of all, dry road! It was all cake once I got past Mile Marker 12.

This is just past mile marker 10 I think

Even though I "locked" the exposure setting, the pano shots didn't come out as well as usual

The buildings at the top, that's the observatory on the right. There used to be a small snack bar up here but it burned down I think.

Brigitta at the top

It's perhaps another 1/4 mile of hiking up the rocks to get to the very top of Mount Evans, seen here behind Brigitta. Both she and I passed on this hike.

After I took the above pictures, I slowly made my way back down the mountain. The clouds were rolling back in as I rode down which made for very few scenic shots. That and the fact that there's not too many "safe" spots to park one's motorcycle in order to take pictures!

Still plenty of snow around when you're above mile marker 12

Summit Lake on Mount Evans

One last look the Mount Evans Road as it hugs the mountainside

So I made it safely back down the mountain, things were in fact quite dry once past Mile Marker 5. I stopped by the entrance to Mount Evans Road and tried to phone home to check in, no signal. As I was getting ready to go, a trio of beemer riders rode up from CO103. One of them walked up to me and asked about conditions up on top. I told him what I'd seen, and said if they were going to try it, they had to hurry. I left them with that and proceeded eastwards on CO103 towards Squaw Pass.

The ride down CO103 with its many twists and turns, coupled with sometimes "interesting" changes in elevation, was completed with no problems and minimal use of the brakes. When going downhill on mountain roads, Mr Gravity is NOT your friend but engine braking is!

I got back down to where CO103 junctions with CO74. I took CO74 towards Evergreen, transited through this quaint mountain town, and rode on towards Bear Creek Canyon and the towns of Kittredge, Idledale and Morrison. One final stop just shy of Morrison to take off my warm layers now that I was back int he mid-60s in terms of temperatures.

The following shot is for Jack Riepe, who always says shots of snow and ice make him feel like eating his gun. So Jack, here's some greenery as you've requested before, this is the river which flows along CO74.

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. I transited through Morrison, past the herds of cruisers parked outside the town's bars, and continued on Morrison Blvd into the Denver Metro area. Using this blvd, then US285 or Hampden Road I made my way to the I-25/225 slabs which I took to my home neighborhoods using the Parker Road exit.

Though it was in the high 60s back home, the clouds were dark towards the south and east. I saw a couple of lightning bolts and got home before any rain. In fact, it's two hours later as I type this, and still no rain! Just ugly storm clouds to the south. Perhaps 6 hrs in the saddle today, 191 miles covered. I got rained on, hailed on, snowed on, rode through thick fog, heard thunder and saw far off lightning. Ya gotta love Colorado spring weather in the mountains!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Some long distance riding tips

I thought I'd write down some of the tips I've learned, discovered, re-learned and put to good use as I've ridden both my motorcycles up and down Colorado's roads and the roads of several other states.

First and foremost, take care of your motorcycle and it'll get you home. I do my own services where I can, not only to save money but to get to know my motorcycle more closely in case it ever breaks down. Not only that, but when I do a service, I know it was done and done as right as I can possibly do it.

Speaking of working on your motorcycle, try and do the work with just the tools you normally carry on your motorcycle. You obviously won't have that fully stocked tool chest in your garage with you when riding, will you? If I find my onboard toolkit does not have a tool, I buy it and carry it from that point on when riding. I've accumulated quite a bit more tools/materials than what the motorcycle came with! LINK

Buy a good service manual, check your basic stuff at least once a week: Tire pressure, loose or missing fasteners, check the oil and brake fluid reservoirs, your lights and signals, the horn and lastly check for leaks. Keep your motorcycle clean so you can spot the leaks early! Buy your motorcycle the high octane gas, she deserves it.

Carry a tire puncture kit and know how to use it, heck, practice using it on an old tire. The side of the road, in the rain and late at night is not the time to try and read the instructions that came with the kit! Invest in a small air compressor, those CO2 tubes really aren't up to the job.

Carry a cellphone, along with a charger for the longer trips, more often than not, you'll have coverage and can call for a tow truck.

Now, for on the road:

Read up on and practice the Master Yoda Riding Position. Sound weird but it works! I've done many a 10-12 hour day, 600+ miles at a stretch, and still not hurt too badly at the end of the day, and this is with stock seats on both my motorcycles! If the link above is broken, just google the phrase!

Your feet are not meant to just be in one position on the pegs, move them around once in a while! Point your toes down a bit if your knees are starting to feel sore, it really helps. When I first started motorcycling, I thought you were supposed to keep your feet still and in the same spot on the pegs, wrong!

Move your butt back towards the rear of your seat if your knees are getting sore, I sometimes slide back onto the pillion seat to allow my legs to stretch out a bit during the straight runs.

If your motorcycle's clearance allows it, and you can get up on the pillion seat while still holding the grips, then you can let your feet dangle free for a few moments. You can also try resting the back of your booted ankle on the top of the pegs as well to give your knees some relief. Remember, be careful and do this when there's little traffic and no curves!

On the same line of long straight stretches of road with little traffic, invest in some kind of "wrist rest" device, sometimes referred to as cruise control for motorcycles. There's many types and brands but they all do one thing: They allow you to lock the throttle in place, letting your free your throttle hand for a few moments to stretch your fingers, wiggle your wrist and whatever else hurts from holding the throttle for long periods of time.

Personally, and I am not saying to try it, but sometimes with the throttle locked and going straight where I can see very far ahead, I'll lean back and rest one arm on the respective side case for a minute or so, it helps stretch the back and shoulder muscles.

Get a kidney or back support belt and wear it nice and tight under your outer riding gear. Speaking for myself and my bad posture, having some lower back support is a wonderful thing on the day long rides!

Consciously avoid using the death grip on your handlebar grips, a light touch is plenty most of the time. If your wrists are bent downwards, you're not doing it right. Try to form and keep a V shape with your thumb and index finger when gripping the throttle and left hand grips. Keep your elbows up and your back straight!

The cruiser riders like to stretch out their legs and rest them on top of their engine guards or on highway pegs they've mounted on their engine guards or frame. I like to sometimes rest, for a just about 30 secs or so, my boots on the engine guards that I mounted on my R80 airhead. No such luck with Maria, my 2004 R1150RT due to her fairing. Yes, they do make pegs that one secures to the valve covers but its not in my future.

Sometimes, if the road is really empty and straight, try standing up on the pegs, while securely holding onto the handlebar! Don't go blaming me if you crash for doing something this risky without at least giving it some thought! Just standing while riding, for 15 seconds or so, makes the world of difference for me and allows me to ride further on.

Note: You may attract unwanted attention from the local law enforcement, apparently they believe your standing is a prelude to popping a wheelie or a mark of being a squid up to no good.

Standing on the pegs, it's been floated on the Internet, is also a way to get that idiot cager who's been tailgating you to back off as you're exhibiting unexpected and possibly dangerous behaviour. I don't know how effective this is, just be careful.

Invest in good riding gear, use the layers concept to stay warm in hot or cold weather. Pack rain gear, because you will get rained on if you ride enough. Wear a helmet!

Yes, being ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) can be a PITA, can make you sweat on hot days but you damn sure won't have time to put it all on when you go down! Let the others make jokes, or try and tell you that you don't need all that gear. I am here to tell you, it's saved my butt a couple of times. Gear can be replaced....your body parts tend to be sensitive to pavement when contacting it at anything above say 5 mph!

Plan your meals around the traditional meal times, otherwise you get caught in the "lunch rush" and lose valuable riding time. I tend to not eat a big lunch when riding, it I eat at all....I get "food comma" where one feels sleepy after a big meal, not a good thing when riding a motor vehicle!

Spare key, carried somewhere independent of your regular motorcycle key.

Known how long you have, in terms of mileage, when either you have to switch to final reserve on your older motorcycle or the fuel low warning light comes on in your newer motorcycle. These things are a pain to push even for a short distance. It will, most times, pay off to top off when you reach the midpoint in your range, sometimes the planned for gas stop is not there or its closed.....

Keep hydrated, even in cold weather, you lose a lot of water through perspiration of course in hot weather, but you lose water as well in cold weather. I am bad about this but working on it, I do travel with a water bottle now, even for day trips. The cognoscenti say: "if you pee is a dark yellow, you're not drinking enough water". Signs of dehydration are headaches, sore throat, and impacts on your reactions and reasoning abilities. Be careful, if you stop sweating in hot weather, that's bad. There's more to riding in hot weather, I might do a posting on what works for me, later on.

Keep exposed skin to a minimum, to avoid sunburn, windburn, excessive evaporation due to wind. If you're doing ATGATT, this should not be an issue except for the back of you neck.

That's all that comes to mind for now, please leave a comment if you've tips I've not mentioned.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Three Years and a bit over 64,000 miles ago....

Three years ago, I was part of a group of students going through the MSF's Basic Rider Course at the local Honda Motorcycle dealer on Arapahoe Road and Clinton Street.

I stopped by there mid-morning once I realized the weather was not going to allow for a safe ride to the top of Mount Evans today. By coincidence or good luck, there was a Basic Rider class going through their own training as I rode up and parked.

The students probably wondered who was this guy who just sat there on his beemer with a bemused look on his face. One of the instructors walked by and said hello and I told him I'd taken the course three years ago and he said he knew the instructor who had trained me. He got busy again helping the main instructor and I was left alone to observe.

The students were doing pretty good, they looked a bit unsure of course, a few kept letting out the clutch to fast without raising the engine from idle and killing the motorcycle, their turns were slow and they kept looking at the ground instead of keeping their eyes up and scanning. In other words, they were learning and I am sure having a ball; I am sure they also were wondering what the heck they were doing on a motorcycle when things proved not as easy as the instructor made it look!

A lot of the mistakes that I made while a student came to mind and I found myself nodding in agreement as I overheard the instructor coach her students.

I left as a light rain started to fall on us. I felt I was "cramping the student's style" by my observing and left them to discover the joys of motorcycling with the bare minimum of skills one needs.

I headed on home, stopping briefly at a couple of spots with good views of the horizon to capture shots of the storm clouds that were rolling in from the west.

Usually, you'd be able to see Mount Evans off in the horizon, directly behind where Brigitta sits

No riding into the mountains today for me

As you can see, the mountains are pretty much obscured directly to the west of the Denver Metro Area. I could see part of the Rockies to the southwest but way too far for riding today.

Three years, time flies when you're having fun!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend, 2009

Afternoon thunderclouds over the Rockies precluded my riding to Mount Evans today as planned. I had taken my youngest son to see the new Star Trek movie, good flick by the way, and by the time we came out of the early show, the skies were darkening to the north and west.

I decided to switch plans and visit the Fort Logan National Cemetery today instead of tomorrow during the actual Memorial Day.

I rode out to the cemetery and found I was but one of many fellow veterans and their families who were there to honor the fallen warriors of this great nation of ours. The following photos seek to remind all who read this, the real reason for Memorial Day.

The Colors have been flying at my home all weekend, if you live in the USA, I hope they've also flown at yours.

Take a moment and remember the men and women who've died for this country. No matter your political beliefs, they deserve our thanks and remembrance. That very act, of exercising whatever political beliefs you think correct, is a product of their sacrifice.

If you've served or are currently serving, I thank you for your service. If you have loved ones in harm's way, I wish them a safe return to their families and friends at the completion of their duty.

Last year's Memorial Day posting: LINK

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Freezing Clouds, the Trail Ridge Road and Estes Park

Trail Ridge Road, the paved road which spans the north half of the Rocky Mountain National Park, was opened for the season yesterday, 22MAY09. So of course, I thought I'd try for Milner Pass which crosses the Continental Divide along this road.

I woke to overcast skies and forecasts of temperatures highs of only in the 50s. Iffy conditions at best for going into the mountains but decided to give it a shot, given the suddenness in which Colorado weather can change you know.

I made good time to Estes Park, the small town at the eastern end of the Rocky Mountain National Park, hereafter referred to as RMNP. I rode up the I-25 super slab to US36 which I took through Boulder and it eventually got me to Estes Park. The ride was a bit chilly and I stopped in the town of Lyons to don my windproof jacket liner and neck scarf!

I was at Estes Park shortly before 1100am and went in to the RMNP Falls River entrance and paid my $10 when I saw that the sign for the Trail Ridge Road indicated it was open!

The skies were still heavily overcast and I could not see the top half to a third of the peaks of the mountains around me. Not a good sign but still I went ahead and pointed Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer down CO34 which is the numerical designation for Trail Ridge Road.

You can't see the top of the mountain on which Trail Ridge road is built

The roads were dry, and things were looking good in terms of traction all the way to this sign by the side of the road:

Note the cloud/fog conditions behind and below the sign

I stopped near the sign above to take pictures of the foggy conditions all around me at this point. As you can see, I was entering the area of the mountains that were socked in by gray clouds.

Here, I hesitated a bit, let a few cars go ahead of me and then decided to forge on for a bit more. Visibility got rapidly worse in the next mile or so, to the point where I could barely see more than 50 feet in front of me! I had my helmet visor fully up since the mist was starting to freeze up on it.

I started to look for a spot to turn around soon after I saw my onboard thermometer read 37°F, which meant it was probably closer to 32°F and I feared that ice on the road was soon to appear. Finally glimpsed an overlook's parking lot, managed to turn into it and got myself turned around. Milner Pass and that particular stretch of the Continental Divide will have to wait for another warmer and sunlit day.

By this point, visibility was less than 20ft and still some of the idiot cagers on the road did not have their lights on! I waited a bit at the exit, trying to peer into the oncoming lane before pulling out of the parking lot.

Made it out with no issues but it was slow and tense going the whole way back to the lower elevations. The roads appear to have been dry but visibility and watching stuff freeze onto the motorcycle's windshield was a bit worrisome! The helmet visor was frozen over mostly, so I had to ride with it in the up position, my face exposed to the cold.

I remember riding past snowbanks that were at least 12-15 feet high on the higher side of the road. It would have made for nice photos but since I didn't want to stop by the side of the road where I'd be invisible to cars behind pictures.

Finally got down to the lower elevations below the cloud ceiling. Woof. I must remember to check cloud ceiling reports now before heading into the mountain passes
on cloudy days!

One last look at part of the RMNP

I decided to wander about Estes Park a bit, hoping for the low cloud cover to burn off. First though, it was time for eat the lunch my loving wife had packed for me with an interesting rock in the background for company:

I think this is Oldman Mountain

Here's a pano shot of the line of rocky hills that kept me company as well for lunch:
After lunch, I wandered over to the Historic Stanley Hotel of Estes Park, here's some then and now shots:

Photo of the hotel Circa 1946
link to DPL - Call#CHS.x444

The hotel's main entrance, which apparently faces away from Estes Park

Wikipedia excerpts: LINK
The Stanley Hotel is a 138-room Georgian hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Located within sight of the Rocky Mountain National Park, the Stanley offers panoramic views of the Rockies.

It was built by Freelan O. Stanley of Stanley Steamer fame and opened on July 4, 1909, catering to the rich and famous. The hotel and its surrounding lands are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Stanley has hosted many famous guests, including the Titanic survivor Margaret Brown, John Philip Sousa, Theodore Roosevelt, the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and a variety of Hollywood personalities. The Stanley Hotel also hosted Stephen King, inspiring him to write The Shining.

Here's a fun fact: The Stanley Hotel shows the uncut R-rated version of Kubrick's The Shining on a continuous loop on Channel 42 on guest room televisions.

Continuing to wander, I found myself on the road to Devil's Gulch and while I didn't go all the way there, I did find Eagle Rock and posed Brigitta accordingly:
Eagle Rock

I made my way back to Estes Park and took US36 to CO7, electing to take part of the Peak to Peak highway homewards. The gloomy overcast skies were still no letting up and I gave up at this point hoping for some sunlight to burn off the clouds from the mountain tops and the Trail Ridge Road.

The views of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker, the gorgeous mountains one can see while riding the Peak to Peak highway were obscured today by the low clouds. However, here's a couple of shots of the Saint Malo Retreat Center:

From the Camp Saint Malo's website: LINK

It was an August night in 1916 when Msgr. Joseph J. Bosetti saw a fiery meteor fall from the sky. An avid mountaineer and, at the time, a young assistant pastor at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Msgr. Bosetti later related that the meteor seemed to fall into the aspen and pine-covered forests at the foot of Mount Meeker.

He never found the meteor, but at dawn, did discover an impressive lichen-covered rock formation. Bosetti regarded this as a message from heaven and vowed to build a chapel on the site.
Kind of cool huh, how the chapel ended up being built where it is above.

As I neared the town of Boulder, I could see that the cloud ceiling had lifted high enough by 3:00 PM to allow one to see the tops of the flatirons. That's the name of the eye-catching rock formations near Boulder.

I detoured away from US36 and wandered the back streets of Boulder's western side till I found some pretty good photo angles to pose Brigitta by. But first, I rode up a city park which twisted its way up a mountain. A few hairpins and views of steep drop-offs later I was at the Flagstaff Summit. I am sure the views, on a clearer day, must be awesome. Today though, they were marginal at best, lots of haze in the air:


I made my way down this mountain park (it was located on Flagstaff Mountain) and parked Brigitta along Baseline Road for several shots of the Flatirons.

The "today" shot, this one was the best of the bunch. I must go back some other day when the light is better. Note that I lucked out and unknowingly framed the rolling hills in the foreground pretty much where the "before" shot above had them lined up.

The Flatirons
Shot of the Flatirons Circa 1898-1900
 DPL - Call# X-11713

Near where I took the above shot, is the Colorado Chatauqua Park Historic Landmark site. Here's an excerpt from their website: LINK

On July 4, 1898, over 4,000 people gathered for the opening day of the Colorado Chautauqua. Boulder civic leaders and Texas educators had joined together to create a cultural and educational summer retreat. Today, the Colorado Chautauqua is one of three remaining Chautauquas in the United States, and the only site west of the Mississippi River, in continuous operation, with its original structures intact.

Before radio and television, the Chautauqua Movement united millions in common cultural and educational experiences. Orators, performers, and educators traveled a national Chautauqua circuit of more than 12,000 sites bringing lectures, performances, concerts, classes, and exhibitions to thousands of people in small towns and cities. Theodore Roosevelt called Chautauquas, "the most American thing in America."

Located at the base of Boulder's Flatirons, Chautauqua Park is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a local landmark. The Colorado Chautauqua Association, a 501 (c) (3) organization, leases twenty-six acres of land from the City of Boulder, on which are situated:

The Auditorium (1898) included on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been voted one of the top ten places artists love to play because of its superior acoustics and intimate feel.

I'd never heard of the Chatauqua Movement and was pleased to be able to add a bit of learning to today's mediocre photography results.

I give you then, pictures of the Auditorium, today and back at the beginning of the 20th century:

Circa 1900, in bright sunlight
link to DPL: Call# MCC-305
Circa 1902, on a cloudy day, just like today
link to DPL: Call#x-11721

About this point, I had been in the saddle for over 7 hrs by rough reckoning and was feeling cold and tired. I pointed Brigitta homewards, retracing my route outwards and was home by a little after 5:00 PM.