Saturday, March 30, 2013

Prelude to Alaska: Spring Break - Day 1: Durango and the San Juan Skyway


Before I start in earnest on my trip to Alaska, I get to spend a week with my wife and sons visiting with my Father-in-Law, Richard in Flagstaff, AZ.  Richard snowbirds in Phoenix which is less than two hours from Flagstaff and this will allow us to visit the Grand Canyon National Park and the Meteor Crater Park as well.

A picture of Valencia's odometer at the start of the trip
(it's in Kilometers)

We all left at around 7:20 AM, my family and Patrick's GodMother Terry K riding in the BMW X5 Suburban Assault Vehicle and I on Valencia, my 2011 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig.

Martha and company stopped for a quick breakfast pickup at the Golden Arches and still they caught up with me west of Pine Junction and then swiftly left me in the dust.

They were taking the southern route via US160 while I chose to take US285 to its intersection with US50 which takes one past Gunnison and ends up at a junction with US550 at Montrose.  US550 is the Million Dollar Highway, one of my favorite rides.

Mountain view west of Fairplay, CO on US285

 The view one sees as one approaches Buena Vista, the mountains
are part of the Collegiate Peaks.

 The Dillon Peaks near Gunnison, CO

 Closeup of a mountain peak visible south of Montrose, CO

 Grand Turk and Sultan Mountains along US550
This is at the parking lot on Molas Pass Summit

Mountain peaks visible as one descends on US550
heading towards Silverton, CO

Due to a combination of bad lighting and a dearth of safe spots to park Valencia, no shots of the "cool" portion of the million dollar highway came out.  The video I shot remains to be edited later on, I'll add it to this posting and let anyone who subscribes to the post know when its online, if anything turns out.

I got to Durango around 5:40 PM, about nine hours of actual riding time, the rest of the 10.5 hrs taken up with photo ops and filming the ride up and down a section of the Million Dollar Highway.   Martha et al only took about seven hours to get to the motel we're staying at in town.  

After unloading the rig (I'm going to have to figure out a way to lock some of the stuff in the tub's passenger compartment); us adults left the boys in the motel and went downtown for dinner.  We went to the historic Strater Hotel and dined at the Diamond Belle Saloon which is part of the hotel.

Tired, slow internet at the motel, full of good food.  Road 573 KM today or almost 344 miles for you non-metric types.  Valencia did great!  A good start for the prelude portion of the Alaska Trip.  Tomorrow we go to Arizona!

Here's a link to today's trip on  LINK

Previously: Alaska Load Out Test


SonjaM said...

Well done for a first leg. Still looks cold out there. I am looking forward to your trip reports and will curiously follow you by spot. Safe travels and enjoy your trip.

Unknown said...

Jeez Dom, great photos. You're starting to make me miss CO already.
You did good on timing, usually a 4 hour ride takes me 8hrs what with stopping for photos.
Allow yourself plenty of time for photos on your trip. Remember, you CAN"T go back to the same spot with the same opportunity, you only get one shot at it, and that's when it occurs. So just stop. You'll be glad you did when the trip is over and you're looking through all the photos. Time is of no importance when you do a trip of this type and length. If you're 100 miles short of your intended destination that day, just pull off the road and set up camp in a quiet spot.
And don't worry too much about locking stuff in the tub. If they want it, all the have to do is cut the tub cover. This is one of those trips where you'll just have to trust your fellow man and hope for the best.
I've been extremely lucky so far, nothing stolen. I have heard horror stories, but hasn't happened to me so far. You can't let it run your trip. And if they do steal something, look at it this way. Which is worse, a stolen camera or being T-boned by a careless driver and having your leg shattered?.
I'd swap my $5000 Nikon D3s for that any day of the week. In fact it nearly happened once.

I'm getting excited for you Dom.


Canajun said...

Like the others I too am looking forward to some great posts and photos from your trip. And I agree with Murph to a point about security - you can really only keep honest people honest because if someone wants your stuff they're going to get it. But one thing I have that I really like is a PacSafe ( Won't deter a determined thief, but for everyone else it's great.

whythedevilnot said...

Love checking out your blog. Snow's been a big part of our lives these past two months in Yorkshire but even then, it's not like yours. Even wonder if there's room for a outfit in my garage (there really isn't but I never thought I'd consider it). Anyway, I'm looking forward to future ride reports.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks SonjaM, I lucked out on the pictures really.

Murph, I got lucky yesterday, the light was right...thanks for the info re leaving stuff on the rig and trusting one's fellow man....that one is kind of hard for me, as I've had my home broken into before....still, I will try.

John S. Thanks for the kind words, I do love Winter snow....

redlegsrides said...

Canajun, the expression goes something like this I believe: Locks keep honest people, honest. You're right though, someone wants your stuff bad enough, they're going to take it....

GF said...

Beautiful pictures but in this part of the country you can't take a bad picture ;-)
I have done by car a trip from Denver down the rockies pass the Gunnisson canyon, Montrose, Ouray and it was stunningly beautiful. I want to go back and do it by bike.

redlegsrides said...

George, truly the scenery in Colorado makes a photographer's task that much easier...

redlegsrides said...

video added

Unknown said...


this is a great start to your trip. Looks cold with all that leftover snow.

lately I've been yearning for the "Open Road". Always stop for photo Ops, returning is never the same. It's always better the first time around, good light or not, it doesn't matter. Bad light you turn into grey scale.

I thought Ural's had a lockable trunk under the tire behind the seat ?

Riding the Wet Coast

Canajun said...

Nice video of the Million Dollar Highway. I was impressed by how smooth it was - no camera shake or road jitters at all.

redlegsrides said...

Thanks much for your comments and advice Murph!

redlegsrides said...

Bob, yeah it does but I was worrying about the stuff in the passenger compartment. It's basically the camping gear, clothes and spares.

redlegsrides said...

Canajun, the mount that comes with the gopro does great on pavement, rough terrain requires additional stabilization.