Tag Archives: Raton

Day 3 National Park Ride – Dalhart, TX to Georgetown, CO

Dalhart to Pikes Peak to Georgetown, CO

Dalhart to Pikes Peak to Georgetown, CO

Today is day 3 of our national park motorcycle ride. Over the course of 16 days we will ride some of the best national parks, historic sites and national monuments in the U.S. and Canada (Pikes Peak National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, Banff National Park, Little Bighorn National Historic Site, Devils Tower National Monument and Mount Rushmore National Memorial). Come follow along as we ride one of our dream rides on our bucket list. Today we are headed to Pikes Peak.

We were up early and on the road. Today’s ride was 469 miles from Dalhart, Texas to Georgetown, Colorado via Pikes Peak.

From Dalhart we rode Highway 87/64 to Raton, New Mexico. It was a pleasant 62 degrees with cloud cover that looked as though it could rain at times. It was a scenic ride through the great plains of Northern New Mexico. Miles and miles of ranch land with rolling grass-covered hills and Prairie. Everything is “few and far between” with the occasional barn, home, windmill, cattle and pronghorn antelope.

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Rest stop heading to Raton, NM

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Capulin Volcano in the distance through the misty rain

100 miles out of Dalhart we rode past Capulin Volcano National Monument. Because of the number of miles we are riding today, and since we stopped here 5 years ago on another ride, we elected to ride on. If you are in the area I would suggest you  and stop. Capulin Volcano began over a million years ago. Recently,  Capulin has been a hub of activity as native people  traversed across the Great Plains. The ride to the top of Capulin spirals around the volcanic cone and has spectacular views.  It’s not for the fain of heart as the road is narrow and fairly steep with a shear drop off on your right going up. The panoramic views from the top are incredible.  There are views of other extinct volcanoes,  snow-capped mountains, and views of  New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado. All around Capulin are large volcanic fields with over a hundred recognizable extinct volcanoes. At the top you will gain insights into 10 million years of the geological history. So take some time to see this unique site.

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Riding over Raton Pass

The ride over Raton Pass is always a highlight on this route. My first time  to ride Raton Pass was  36 years ago. Raton Pass’ elevation is 7834 feet/2388 meters and is designated as a National Historic Landmark.

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Riding I-25 heading to Colorado Springs & Pikes Peak

We have finally made it to the mountains and cooler temperatures. On Pikes Peak the temperature was 37 degrees and the hottest it got on our ride was 85 degrees. For most of the trip it stayed in the 60’s. Hopefully, we can enjoy the cooler (not cold) temperatures for the rest of our time in the mountains. I know we will have to eventually return to the hot temperature of Texas but for now we will just enjoy…

From Raton Pass we ride up I-25 to Colorado Springs and  to the top of Pikes Peak. The Pikes Peak Highway is a breathtaking scenic 19 mile ride  to the summit. The terrain and scenery varies along the ride. The road is a tollway. When you pay the toll you receive a map and brochure. You need to take a look at the map to see where there are pullouts for photo opts.

Me and Larry at Pikes Peak

Me and Larry at Pikes Peak

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View off Pikes Peak… Noting to see due to cloud cover

The last time I was  at Pikes Peak was also in July, many years ago. As soon as we reached the summit it started snowing so hard we were unable to see anything beyond a few feet. Today it was cloud cover that spoiled our view. Part of the ride to the top was difficult in spots for 2 reasons… 1) The clouds made it difficult to see very far ahead. It was nice to see the hair-pin-curves on the GPS ahead of time. 2) We were following a car that slowed almost to a stop in the hair-pin-curves. After the first one I put a lot of distance between us to give them plenty of time to get through the curve.

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Heading to Georgetown, Colorado for the night

From Pikes Peak we headed to Georgetown. Yes, Georgetown is a popular town name. It seems that just about every state has a town named  Georgetown.  When Janet and I lived in Colorado Georgetown was a favorite day trip for us. This is why I picked it as the destination for today. We took Highway 67 to I-70 to Georgetown. This is a very scenic route which took us through Evergreen another favorite day trip destination for Janet and me.

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Our home for the night in Georgetown, Colorado

Georgetown, Colorado has many attractions that include the Georgetown Loop Railroad, Hamill House, and Hotel de Paris Museum. Georgetown is a quiet little town, just off busy I-70 an hour west of Denver.

My old friend Jimmie and his wife Diann with Larry and me in Georgetown, Colorado

My old friend Jimmie and his wife Diann with Larry and me in Georgetown, Colorado

In Georgetown, I met Jimmie and Dianne . Jimmie and I have been close friends ever since we worked together beginning in June of 1965.  We lost contact years ago and I just reconnected with him recently through Facebook. We had a lot to catch up on…

 Today was a great ride through some beautiful scenic country and I got to finish the day catching up with and old friend. Tomorrow we ride on to Pinedale, Wyoming through more beautiful Rocky Mountain scenery.

More post coming so check back…

Ride safe…

 

This has been one amazing ride for Larry and me. Check out the other post from this ride using the links below…

National Park Motorcycle Ride – 5542 Miles in 16 Days 2013
Day 1 & 2 National Park Ride -Getting There
Day 4 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Georgetown, CO to Pinedale, WY
Day 5 National Park Motorcycle Ride: Grand Teton & Yellowstone
Day 6 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Yellowstone National Park
Day 7 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Gardiner to Kalispell
Day 8 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Glacier National Park
Day 9 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Troy, MT to Golden, AB Canada
Day 10 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Banff National Park Canada
Day 11 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Lethridge, AB to Billings, MT
Day 12 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Little Bighorn Battleground
Day 13 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Devils Tower National Monument
Day 14 National Park Motorcycle Ride – Mount Rushmore

W.D. & Me On Our First Long Motorcycle Ride 36 Years Ago!

Dallas -Dumas 411 miles, motorcycle, route, ride

My route to/from Dallas, Texas/Dumas, Texas (411 miles)

Several weeks ago I met my cousin W. D. (aka Dub) in Lagrange, Texas (of “Chicken Ranch” fame). Dub recently bought a new camper for his retirement travels and was setup at “Colorado Landing” RV park. He and I lived close by growing up and have been like brothers since we were kids. Dub is 18 months older, so like any little brother I wanted to do everything Dub did. Cousins are your first and best friends. We have a long history so we spent the day visiting and talking about old times.

My KZ400

My KZ400 that I rode on the trip.

Dub and I rode our first long motorcycle ride together. He lived in Eastlake, Colorado just north of Denver, Colorado and I lived in Dallas, Texas. We were young and rode the trip “on a wing and a prayer”. The only thing we planned was the date of travel and our destinations.  We met each other in Dumas, Texas which was about midway for each of us. Back then there were no cell phones to communicate with each other as our trip progressed. Dub devised a crazy way for us to communicate on our trip without having expensive long distances charges. When we stopped for gas or to eat etc. we would call Dub’s wife Barb “person to person”. If everything was okay we would ask to speak to ourselves. Barb would reject the call if everything was okay. If either one of us had any problems we would call and ask to speak with Barb. Barb would accept the call and we could tell her what our problem was. This worked very well. As the day progressed we kept checking in and knew the other rider was having a good ride. Fortunately, we did not have any problems that needed to be relayed during the trip.

That first day the weather was great… not too hot or too cold. We both made good time and arrived in Dumas about 5 or 10 minutes apart. I was riding a 1974 Kawasaki KZ400 and Dub was riding a 1974 Yamaha 500. Seats on our bikes were not made for staying in the saddle for hours on end.  As the hours became longer and longer it seemed as though we were sitting on 2×4’s turned edge ways. When we met up, we both shared similar stories about how hard the seats were. I had passed many riders that day who were standing while riding. It wasn’t long before I understood why they were riding that way. I was soon doing the same. If I remember correctly I could only travel about 100 miles before stopping for gas. It was a welcome break from the saddle. I also had to stop occasionally to oil and make adjustments on the chain. Because of that trip I decided my next bike would not have a chain drive.

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Our route from Dumas to Clovis (182 miles)

We were a bit paranoid about parking our bikes outside the motel room, so we pushed them into our room for safekeeping. Nothing like the smell oil and gas as you sleep. The following day we got an early start and headed to Clovis, New Mexico. Dub’s brother John was stationed at the Air Force base in Clovis. It was a short ride relative to the day before. We stayed with John a couple of nights. John had a bike so we spent the following day riding around Clovis. Dub had a minor mishap the first day. Shortly after starting his ride he broke his windshield and had ridden with half a windshield. We checked with the local Yamaha dealer there in Clovis to get a replacement windshield. They had a windshield that was the same size and shape but the mounting holes did not match. We solved the problem by drilling a couple of holes to make it work. Later on the trip, Dub would find replacing the windshield to be a good decision.

Clovis - Eastlake 511 miles

Our route from Clovis to Eastlake (511 miles)

After a good visit and rest we rode to Eastlake the next day. It was a long ride of 511 miles. As we started out that day it began to warm up. We noticed there were hundreds of tarantulas sunning themselves on the road that day. We entertained ourselves by holding our boots just above the pavement and when our boot hit a tarantula; it would go flying down the road. Please remember this was 30 plus years ago and our youth was showing.

The weather was great when we started but then turned to light snow and eventually rain. When we started up Raton pass (7834 feet or 2388 meters elevation) the clouds started to roll in. As we reached the top of the pass snow started falling. To add to the situation both of our bikes were carbureted and ran really rough in the higher altitude. I think at one point I may have downshifted to second gear climbing the pass. On the other side of the pass it was all downhill to coin a phrase. A short while later, I thought I had a major engine problem. It was as though I turned off the key. No power… it was a dead engine. I watched as Dub’s tail light became smaller and smaller as he rode farther away. Dub had not realized I was falling behind. I was in a bit of a panic not knowing if he would realize I was not behind him any longer. About a mile down the road Dub turned around and came back to see what the problem was. I had taken my hand off the handlebar to wipe my nose and in the process I inadvertently hit the kill switch. Because of the gloves I was wearing I did not feel my hand hitting the switch. It took a few minutes to realize what had actually happened. What a relief to know there was no problem. After having a good laugh we continued on our way. The snow eventually stopped and we thought we were out of the worst of it but then it started to rain rather heavily. I was wearing a cheap rain suit. It worked well until the pants started to come apart from the knee down. I was getting soaking wet from the knee down. Being wet is one thing… being wet and cold is another… As we were riding through Pueblo Colorado we were passed by a car full of kids. They rolled down their window and were laughing and shouting at us riding in the rain. We had the last laugh. They ran off the road while trying to make fun of our situation. Dub and I smiled and rode on.

Later, we stopped at a rest stop to call Barb and let her know our ETA. While Dub was talking to Barb I decided to put on some dry socks. Sitting on the curb by my bike I thought the warm engine would feel good on my cold wet feet. I was right. I was lying on my back with my feet on the engine when Dub came looking for me. Because I was lying down he could not see me. He was walking around wondering where the heck I had gotten off to. We had another good laugh when he saw me laying on the ground. The engine heat did feel really good on my cold wet feet.

It was still raining when we got to Eastlake after sunset. Dub’s driveway was long and was two strips of concrete made just for a car. Because the concrete was narrow, wet and slick, we both slipped off the runners and dropped our bikes.  We just let them lay and went in the house to clean up and warm up. Later that night we got the bikes up to the house and cleaned them up the next day. We learned a lot that day…

I stayed several days visiting, site seeing and resting up before riding back to Dallas alone. I missed having my cousin riding along. For the most part the ride was uneventful. I had good weather, a bit cold and partly overcast the first day but not bad considering it was October. When riding that time of the year in Colorado the weather could have been really bad. I was lucky.

Eastlake - Dumas 401 miles

My route from Eastlake to Dumas (401 miles)

I stopped at Capulin Volcano to take a break and play tourist. On the way up to the top of Capulin one of the supports broke on my windshield. I was in a bit of a panic until I figured out a fix. It held together the rest of the trip.

I spent the night in Dumas again. I got an early start back to Dallas. Somewhere along the way I lost my Air Force fatigue shirt I had strapped to the luggage rack. I rode a ways back looking for it but had no luck finding it. I paid 4 years of my life for it and didn’t like losing it. Your fatigue shirt was like a “badge of honor” back in those days.

Until this ride, the longest ride I had been on was a 610 mile round trip. This ride of 1858 miles round trip ignited my love of motorcycle touring. It took me out of my comfort zone and I learned a lot from this trip. After this ride I knew I needed better gear and a bike better suited for long trips. I started a family shortly after that trip and I had to put my riding on hold for 23 years. Now I am trying to make up for lost time. My posts here will attest to that.

Dub & Me

Dub and me 30+ years later…

Dub still rides but has downsized to a Yamaha scooter. We hope to do some riding together again. We have tried to get together to ride but life has gotten in the way. I’m going to try to get him to ride with me in May. I plan to ride the “Texas Independence Trail Region”. Stay tuned for that post…