Friday, July 17, 2015

Boobs, Beers, and Old Friends

The view from our room.  Colorado Springs is beautiful!
After much contemplation we decided Pikes Peak was going to have to wait until Day 3.  Neither of us were thrilled with the idea of doing that run in the rain.  The thing we've noticed with Colorado is morning riding is usually pretty nice, but look out for those thunderstorms in the afternoon.  Our hope was that if we just holed up for the night, we'd be able to ride with some sun the next morning and actually be able to see and enjoy more of it.

As I said in my last post, we have friends that live in Colorado Springs.  The BWG grew up with them and I met the wife through Facebook.  Old friends for the BWG, new friends for me.  I'd talked to her through Facebook messenger and on the phone a few times while doing some custom jewelry pieces.  I knew I had to meet her in person.  She seem so down to earth.  The kind of person we call "Salt".  I had a feeling it would be an instant friendship. 

From the awning at Santa's Workshop, I gave her a call.  After we coordinated where we were with where they live and where we were having dinner I had an idea of where we needed to be.  Thank goodness our new laminated Colorado map had an additional city map of Colorado Springs on the back that included exits.  That made it pretty simple to get us back on the road and headed in the right direction.

Just when I thought roads where were bad they got worse.  The interstate through Colorado Springs is awful.  Pot holes from hell and traffic, that I swear, is worse than Las Vegas.  I was grateful we only had a few miles.  Busy interstates throw my anxiety right over the edge.  Everyone is in such a damn hurry to get somewhere and no one really looks for motorcycles. Along with pot holes the size of toilet seats I was ready to get back to two lanes.

We lucked out on finding a room big time.  The first motel we checked out, the Embassy Suites, was booked.  I've stayed in Embassy Suites before and if you're willing to pay a little extra, they are great.  The rooms are nice and there's a lounge.  Needless to say I was a little bummed we couldn't get in.  Right across the street there was a Best Western. They had a few suites left for $130.  This is was way over our budget.  But with the rain, the fact that they had a laundry, a decent continental breakfast, and a bar across the street, we jumped at it.  Still wet and cold we unloaded into our new digs for the night.  We were pretty excited about the bed too.  It was HUGE.  Which meant we could sleep without butt kissing all night the way we had in Delta.  The BWG is twice my size.  Sleeping in a full bed with him is near impossible.  I spend all night on a slant trying not to roll in to him.  Plus he's a restless sleeper so arms and legs are flailing all night long.  I was looking forward to us both getting a good nights sleep.

After unloading, getting my contacts out, and a ball cap on, we walked over to the Embassy Suites to try and dry out and relax with a beer.  Our friend met up with us there and offered to chauffeur us for the evening so we didn't have to worry about getting ourselves around.  I gotta tell ya, I instantly loved her.  Real people make me happy.  She and the BWG reminisced about their years growing up and I could see a true friendship that had withstood the thirty some years since high school when they last saw each other.  Happily married for a couple life times, she filled us in on her husband and kids and all the changes they had been through over the years.  Her husband was working that night so dinner was to be just the three of us.

I had never heard of The Tilted Kilt other than it was an Irish bar and grill type restaurant.  After walking through the front door I was pretty sure we don't have those in Utah.  There were boobs. Lots of boobs.  It was a Celtic version of Hooters.  For a moment I was certainly feeling my age.  Not that I ever had much in the way of boobs, but I did used to be one of the dolled up young girls that could walk around with a plastic smile for hours on end.  Things are a little different at 39 than they were at 23. 

The food was GREAT!  We all ordered fish and chips.  After my first trip to Canada my mom told me when you order fish and chips always look on the table.  If malted vinegar is a condiment in the place it's more than likely going to be pretty good.  As soon as our food arrived I spotted the malted vinegar and was a little giddy.  It's not an easy feat to find good fish and chips where we are from.  The Tilted Kilt did not disappoint. And it was only two buildings down from our Motel.  BONUS!  AND they serve beer. Another bonus.

After dinner our friend drove us out to where her husband works so the BWG could catch up with him for a bit and so I could meet him for the first time.  He was a great guy.  Fantastic sense of humor yet a somewhat quiet.  He's worked hard through the years to get where he is, yet he wasn't arrogant or egotistical about that at all.  Just a super nice guy that is just happy to be who he is.  You could also see the bond between he and his wife.  The genuine caring and friendship they share that I'm certain took years to cultivate.  Relationships are hard at their best, but this couple truly has something special between them. They are the kind of people you WANT to be around just so you can learn how it's done. I'm sure we will be visiting them again.

Back at our motel we decided to get laundry done.  By this time we are getting pretty tired and more than ready to just lay in bed with the TV and kill a six pack.  However there were two other couples that had the same laundry idea.  Fortunately our room was right across the hall from the washer and dryer so 15 trips to check our clothes wasn't as bad as it could have been.  I did learn a lesson though, get up early and wash your clothes in the morning.  It was almost 11pm before I drug our stuff back to the room half wet.  I ended up laying everything out hoping it would dry before we had to pack up the next morning.  We were tired enough that we ended up leaving the maid three unopened beers.

In order to save time we decided to refill our water bottles in our room and have breakfast at the motel.  That way we could just be on the road and head over to Pikes Peak without trying to find a decent place to eat and a grocery store.  I'm not big on refilling water bottles.  I've heard the stories about how those things can contribute to cancer so a one time refill within 24 hours is my limit on that. It worked out great though.  Breakfast was better than we expected as well.  Scrambled eggs, omelets, sausage, bacon, yogurt, fruit, waffles, and a variety of other options were available.  We figured we saved $20-$30 on breakfast and it was decent eating and balanced out the over budget room for the night.

It never ceases to amaze me the people who will strike up a conversation when they see you are traveling on a bike.  I had stepped outside after breakfast for a smoke (please don't judge).  That bike is my comfort zone so I always head to it when the BWG isn't with me.  We have a bond.  LOL.  I look out for the bike and it looks out for me.  I parked my butt on the curb and it didn't take long for a gentleman, that was also smoking, to walk over and strike up a conversation.  He was from PA and I think this was their sixth trip to Colorado over the course of a few years. The second in a month.  He filled me in on some of the sights and things they loved about the area including Cave of the Winds and The Royal Gorge Bridge.  He had been up to Pikes Peak already and was heading back up via the Cog Train that leaves from Manitou Springs. He mentioned that it was probably a good idea we had skipped Pikes Peak the day before given that so many people get struck by lightening up there during the thunderstorms.  Well duh, why didn't I think of that???  I was hugely relieved we had decided to wait as the weather was looking good for us this morning. 
This little critter decided to join the conversation as well.  The gentleman from PA said that happens a lot around there.  I guess the bunnies just hang out and are somewhat like rodents.  Who knew?  I probably could have fed him if I'd have had anything to offer but our snacks were still in the room.  We said goodbye to Mr. PA and he told us to look for him below us on Pikes Peak, he'd be in the train.  We never did end up seeing him again.

Ok friends, Pikes Peak is going to have to wait another day since my posts are running so long.  And I KNOW that one is going to be lengthy.  It was one of the highlights of our trip and I'm so excited to share but want to give it the attention it deserves.  So, until tomorrow.....

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Day 2: Delta, Co. to Colorado Springs Co.

We lucked out Wednesday morning.  The rain had already passed through Delta Co. by the time we got up.  After managing our way through the tiny shower, we headed down to our favorite little restaurant in Delta, Co.  C & J Cafe has a total hometown feel.  We've noticed that this is the place where many of the older, local farmers spend their mornings for coffee.  These little treasures are the BEST!  If the locals hang out there, it's gotta be good. Right?
The BWG and I are both pretty traditional when it comes to breakfast.  Bacon, eggs, and hash browns for me.  Sausage, eggs, and hash browns for him.  Along with coffee and toast for both of us.  This place makes a pretty good cup of coffee.  The service is great too.  These ladies are seasoned waitresses and know how to make you feel right at home.  I'll tell you right now, if you're more about chain restaurants like Denny's or McDonald's for breakfast, just skip this place.  You'll never visit Denny's again after you've been here.  C & J Cafe will ruin you and you'll spend every vacation the same way we do, searching out the best local "mom and pop" places to eat.

Off to find a grocery store after breakfast.  The BWG and I no longer buy water or Gatorade from convenience stores.  A C-store is for gas and potty breaks only.  Taking an extra few minutes to find a grocery store for water can save lots of dollars over the course of a few days.  On average it's $2.49 for a six pack of water in a grocery store vs. $0.99 a bottle in a C-store.  You get the idea.  We no longer buy Gatorade at all, although I will admit it's saved my heat fried ass a time or two.  Heat stroke sucks!  Especially when you're traveling on a bike.  I need electrolytes so water alone doesn't cut it.  We found these Camelbak tablets during our travels last year.
Each tube has 12 tablets and costs around $7.  Add one tablet to a 16oz bottle of water and you have Gatorade, only better.  We found that we really like the performance of the Camelbak tablets over Gatorade.  We didn't feel bloated, thirsty, or slightly nauseated after drinking a 16oz bottle of Camelbak treated water.  Slamming a Gatorade during a drink stop has left us feeling kinda yuck more than once.  There's another brand we have used as well.
The Nuun Hydration tablets seemed to work great.  However they don't have the little extras the Camelbak tablets have.  This four pack was $16.19, which is $4.04 a bottle.  That makes a bottle of treated water about $0.75 using this brand.  Honestly it didn't get hot enough for me to do a fair comparison between the Nuun and the Camelbak brands.  As it stands now, I like them both and may actually prefer the Nuun because it doesn't have the added caffeine. That's what coffee and midol are for.  LOL.  I bought our Nuun tablets on Amazon here.

We always pick up a few snacks from the grocery store as well.  You can get good, real food for less money.  A couple of candy bars will run you a few bucks.  This trip I found dried cranberries on sale for $2.49 a bag.  It was a great trade off for me.  Too much sugar and I just don't get along when we are traveling.

Grocery stores in different towns fascinate me and piss me off all at the same time.  We always check out the produce and meat departments to compare with what we have at home.  Usually I end up thinking it's time to move.  Such was the case this entire trip.  Safeway's and City Market grocery stores are freaking AWESOME!  USDA choice meats AND about any produce you could ask for.  Plus we can always find a good salami and good quality cheese to pack with us to snack on.  We do not have those stores at home so I get a little envious of those towns that have so many options in one grocery store.

Ok, enough about shopping and drinks.  Back to the road.  I have no clue what time we actually left Delta.  I have a horrible sense of time out on the bike.  I pay absolutely no attention to it whatsoever.  It's all about the weather and how high the sun still is in the sky.  We also go through so many small towns and travel so many two lane highways it's difficult for me to remember where we have actually been and what we saw there.  What I can tell you about this day is that the weather looked like it was going to be crap all day.  We seriously rode all but the last 50 miles in between two storms.  How we stayed dry for as long as we did amazes me.

These pics are from our last stop before Colorado Springs.  I have no clue what town it was, but it was itty bitty and really really cool.
This little house totally intrigued me.  Had it not been in the middle of the day with lots of people around I probably would have hiked up to it just to check it out.

We couldn't decide if this was an old out house or an old pump house.  Either way we thought it was pretty neat.  It was just kinda there next to an old service station that had been closed for years.

One of my favorite things about Colorado is that nearly every two lane highway will lead you through the mountains.  And Colorado mountains are amazingly beautiful.  I have no clue where I took this picture above but had to have it.  I think this was the first time I have ever actually rode through clouds.

If you look on the left side, behind the bike, in the pic above, you can see a cloud just sitting there behind the tree.  Seriously, I'm a desert girl so this totally blew my mind.  Being up so high you feel like you can actually touch the sky was a new experience for me.

I know at some point during the day we went through Monarch Pass which is part of the Continental Divide.  At the summit it is 11,312 ft in elevation.  And it was damn cold!  Cold enough that neither of us took any pictures. I swear this is the first time I've ever been colder off the bike than going down the road.  We stopped long enough for me to run in to the gift shop, use the rest room, and decide to skip the gondola ride to the very top.  By that time I was shivering like crazy and ready to get moving again just to warm up.  This particular day it was also packed with bikers.  Not the motorcycle kind, the Tour de France kind.  I don't know how they do it.  I'll stick with a motorcycle thanks.  Pedaling to the top of an 11,000 foot mountain just doesn't appeal to me yet.  Anyway, it was a beautiful ride.  Even though the weather continued to look sketchy, and it was seriously cold, I couldn't help but fall totally in love with this pass.  There had been enough rainfall that you could smell wet bark and pine nearly the whole ride.  Between the smell of damp nature and the cool moisture, it felt fresh.  I don't know how else to explain it.  It was a big change from the sticky, dusty, heat of Millard County for sure.

Like I said, we had been pretty lucky all day.  There were black clouds all around us most of the day.  And you could see them just dumping buckets of rain.  Waterfalls coming out of the sky is what it looked like.  Somehow the clouds just kept opening up enough to allow us through.  Right up until the last 50 miles.  The BWG decided there was no way we were getting through our last stretch into Colorado Springs without getting wet.  We pulled off the side of the highway to dig out our rain gear.  Two big black garbage bags.  One cut with three holes for the BWG, a hole for his head and one for each arm.  I always only cut one hole for my head in mine, then keep my arms tucked inside.  Now before you judge our awesome rain attire, let me tell you, garbage bags rock.  They keep you warm, and dry if you don't get the holes too big.  Plus they are super easy to pack and take up very little room.  They are also disposable.  I'm sure they provide great entertainment for those who pass us on the road as well.  Unfortunately, I had cut the holes for our heads a little too big.  The rain would collect in a puddle and every time we would move that puddle would drain itself right down the inside front of our shirts.  And it was COLD!  By the time we got to Colorado Springs I had a boob reservoir going on and the BWG looked like he'd peed his pants.

The other tricky thing about this particular rain was the roads.  They crack in the direction travel rather than across the lanes.  This makes it a little difficult to see the cracks when it's rained so hard they are full of water, plus it's still raining so visibility is diminished anyway.  You get a tire in one of those cracks and it's worse than hitting a road snake.  They grab your tire and take you for a ride.  Never in all our travels have I been so grateful NOT to be on my own bike and be riding with someone who has some serious motorcycle maneuvering skills.  The BWG navigated the rain, the wet roads, and the traffic with finesse I didn't know he had.  I gotta tell ya, 40 years of motorcycle experience paid off that day.

We finally made our way into Manitou Springs, just before the entrance to Pikes Peak Highway.  There's a little amusement park there called The North Pole and Santa's Workshop (more about that tomorrow).  They have an awning which was perfect for us to pull under to get out of the rain and figure out what we were doing next.  Originally the plan was to see Pikes Peaks that day.  However with the rain, and being soaked, we decided to just land in Colorado Springs for the night and try it again the next morning.  We have some friends that live out there we were planning on having dinner with anyway so it worked out well.  Especially since the rain didn't let up until way later in the night.

Since this has turned in to a really long post, I'll cover our evening in Colorado Springs and our trip to Pikes Peak tomorrow.  Thanks for reading.  And if anyone recognizes the places in the photos above please shoot me a message and tell me where I was.  LOL.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Day 1: Delta Ut. to Delta Co.

Initially we weren't going to leave town until Wednesday morning.  However over the years we've found that getting out of town a bit earlier, and getting those initial miles out of the way, can make a huge difference.  These first 300 miles we had already traveled on previous rides and just wanted to be ahead of the game for Wednesday, when our vacation was really to begin.

We left Delta, Ut. around 2:30pm.  Thankfully it wasn't nearly as hot this year for an afternoon ride.  Not that it would have mattered, we'd have left anyway.  After planning this ride for months we were ready to go regardless of the weather.  The first little stretch into Salina, Ut. is pretty mundane for us.  We've been there done that A BUNCH.  I-70 in to Green River Ut is where it starts getting fun.  The canyon just outside of Salina is beautiful.  We did hit some rain for a few miles but nothing too serious.  It's amazing how fast the scenery can change out there.  From beautiful mountain canyons into rocky desert cliffs, it's gorgeous. 

There is an exit on this stretch of 1-70, closer to Green River than Salina, labeled "Mussentuchit".  Cracks me up every time I see it.  Mustn't touch what???  Well I finally remembered to look it up.

"What about Mussentuchit, though? Originally, cowboys called it "Must Not Touch It" because the water was poisonous. That became "Musn't Touch it." And finally, Mussentuchit, with a new pronunciation: "moose-un-TOO-shet"."  

That quote is from an article on KSL. There's a lot more Utah history included if you'd like to check it out.

Just outside of Green River we started chasing a storm.  It was amazing to see the thunderstorms coming together over the mountains to the north of us.  At first the clouds looked like blue cotton candy. When they started transitioning into black haze I figured we were really going to get nailed.  Somehow we managed to get around it and by the time we hit Fruita, Co.  we were pretty safe from the north.  Fruita is rich with agriculture so everything is green and smells so so good.  I believe it's part of the Colorado River that runs through there and you can feel the moisture as you ride through. 

From Grand Junction, Co. we headed south on 50 into Delta Co.  Once again, we were chasing a storm, this time to south of us.  The storm was far enough ahead all we caught were wet roads and this amazing rainbow.
The BWG (Big White Guy) had left his phone is his pocket so I was able to snatch it and get a pic.  This is what makes being on a motorcycle so amazing.  EVERYTHING looks and feel different than in a car.  You are actually part of the environment.  You can easily take in the magnitude of what's really going on around you.  Being in a car is more like watching a movie, on a bike you are IN the movie.

We made Delta, Co. dry.  Which I was grateful for.  Riding in the rain isn't necessarily bad, but it does get a bit uncomfortable depending on how bad it is. 
We opted to try a different motel this time. The Westways Court Motel was pretty decent.  I don't remember exactly what we paid, but it was affordable.  The room was tiny, which was fine for us, but the shower was even smaller.  I thought the BWG was exaggerating when he said he was going to have to shower one half at time, until I got in the next morning.  There wasn't enough room to even shave my legs and the shower itself was so short it was hard for me to even wash my hair.  Which, given the fact that I'm only 5' 3" should tell you something.  But in a pinch, and if you are not looking for luxury, I would stay here again.  I loved the outside of the building.  It was quiet and quaint.  I'm also a big fan of what the BWG calls "motor inns".  I don't remember them being called that but he has a few years on me.  I love the places you can just pull up and walk in your room.  They are my favorite.

We hit Hoolies for dinner and beers. This is our second visit there and we were not as impressed with it this time.  The food is great and the beer is cold.  The bartender/waitress may have needed a little work.  Our first visit there we absolutely loved it, but this time it was a bit different atmosphere.  It is a cool place to check out.  From looking at the inside it looks like it used to be a Mexican restaurant and they've done a good job revamping it into a bar.  It's totally biker friendly if you are ever in the area.  And like I said, the food is great if you don't mind less than perfect service.

There is a really cool old building across the street from Hoolies.  It's called the Delta House.  Turns out it's now an assisted living facility.  I couldn't find any history info on it with a quick Google search.  But it's definitely worth looking at if you ride by.

Main Street is full of old buildings that are still operating businesses. We love that!  It feels "hometown" and you can tell these people honor their city and their history.

One of our favorite finds in Delta Co is Orval's Used Cars.  This pic speaks for itself.  If you are in the area and love old cars, this is a must to visit.  Seriously!  So so cool!  I couldn't find my pics of the place so I borrowed this from their website.  Really, check it out.
Delta, Co. is so rich in history and agriculture.  I expect in the future we will spend a little more time there exploring.  It's become a "gateway" for us on our travels and with so much to discover I'm sure we'll go back.  Tomorrow I'll be sharing about day two which will include our favorite little breakfast spot in Delta, Co. along with our ride in to Colorado Springs.