Monday, September 28, 2015

Horizons Unlimited 2015

Attending a Horizons Unlimited meeting is something I've wanted to do for a long time.
HU is a club (loosely defined) of people for whom travel is a passion. It is mostly directed at two-wheel travelers, but 4-wheelers are welcome as well.

An HU meeting is scheduled in Mariposa, California in September for Thursday 24th to Sunday 27th, I reserve my spot and meals and now its...time for a ride.
I go via some straight roads to Tonapah, Nevada where I spend my first night, I was the only one in this large campground so I don't bother putting up my tent and just sleep on a picnic table.

It was a great night for star gazing.

On my way again.

My route from Tonapah to Mariposa.

I have to go through Yosemite NP. It is beautiful, but SLOOOW going.

On the 140 going down toward Mariposa.

My camp spot (the closest tent) - to the right of me were some Brits, an Aussie, and a German; a very nice group of people and I was glad to have them as my neighbors. I had one of the most flat spots there, many tents were pitched on a slope that I'm not certain I could have slept on.... I was lucky to arrive as early as I did while the pickings were still good.

There were many vendors including this one.
I test rode one of these bikes and was pleasantly surprised. The bike is 250cc and comes kitted out for adventure travel at a very low cost. The model I rode was $3500. The one I'm sitting on was a grand or so more, I'm not certain of its price.
They are Chinese made and are not a knock-offs as none of the parts will fit on other brand bikes. The US distributor (the vendor you see in this pic) keep at least one of each part on the bike in stock and can ship same day.
If I were doing an RTW ride I would give serious thought to one of these bikes for at least three reasons;
1 - The low cost to buy and maintain.
2 - The larger bikes make one a target in most countries.
3 - The light weight, and ease of maneuvering.
On the downside; obviously they have less power, and they need oil changes much more often....but, I'm still a fan.

While manning the entry gate I was able to meet this interesting gentleman and his dog. He didn't stay long, but was fun to talk to.

He 'flew the chair' so I could get this pic.

At a lot of bike rallies you will find the people and/or the bikes can be cookie-cutter images. Not so at an HU rally. The BMW GS was the most popular bike there but there were also numerous other brands and models that showed up.
Also, there are very few low mileage bikes here. These are not, 'ride to Starbucks and home twice a year' riders. These bikes are high mileage, chrome eschewing, utilitarian machines.
Oddly enough, I didn't see any "Ride to live, live to ride" stickers.

A German RTW rider's vintage BMW (Beaky in the background).
Vintage Honda CB 750 still going strong
GSA I think

Honda 500
Ducati, (one of two at the meet) ridden by the wife of the guy you see. Had I included her in the pic people would have thought I did it just for the, you just get the bike.
Honda ST
Honda ST and a Yamaha something

You had a choice of three or four one-hour long presentations given from 9 am to 5 pm each day. Most were given twice so that with a little planning a person was able to see almost every presentation. 
All were purposed to educate the attendee on how to better travel, and most were very interesting.

My favorite was "Radioman rides the world".
Here is his blog;

And it is Sunday morning.... time to say my goodbyes to new friends and the town of Mariposa and ride home. I'm anxious to get on the road as I've decided to make it home in one day, a 660ish mile ride.

(I tried to find the guy I spent the most time with but he wasn't at his tent and I felt like I didn't have the luxury of waiting.... so Frank, if you check out my blog, when I came to your tent and you weren't there I moved your boots up next to your helmet so you would know someone visited....I hope you had a good ride home and thanks for the great conversation.)

Mariposa is Spanish for butterfly.

On my way....

I took two days to get there - 667 miles, and then simply reversed my route to get home in one day, 666 miles. I had a devilish good time, learned a TON, made some new friends, and won some cool swag. I (along with numerous others) volunteered to help and spent several hours at the entrance directing new arrivers; actually kind of a fun thing to do. Plus it resulted in making two good friends, Kim and Steve.

About 280 travelers attended.

The catered food was very good, my camp spot was OK, the until-the-wee-hours-of-the-morning parties were....ummm...taxing, but all in all it was an interesting, and positive experience.
Will I go again? Yes, but not soon. I think this is a good once a year or maybe every two years event.

For better or worse, one thing the HU meeting did was stoke the fire of my wander-lust...if I could find a funder for an RTW, I could be packed in about 5 minutes! :)

1333 miles total.

Monday, September 21, 2015

An Enchanting ride, part 1

We've bought a new, to us, '07 Yamaha Venture. Time to try it out.
Beverly and I will ride for a few days ending up in Taos, New Mexico, then we will ride to Torrey, Utah to meet the other three couples that comprise our annual "Couples Ride".

First stop, Green River, Utah.
Dinner at Ray's Tavern.

We are overnighting in Green River, so after dinner Beverly picks up some snacks at the grocery store...I'm waiting outside sitting on the bike parked next to two SUV loaded with tourists when I hear a soft voice, "Sir,sir...would you like an ice cream bar?" I turn my head and one of the tourists, a pretty young lady is talking to me. She says, "We got these for a snack, everyone has one and this is left over if you want it...."  
Well, heck yes!
I thank her as I unwrap it and we chat about where they are going etc.
Then they leave and I enjoy my treat.

The next day we are on our way via the Cisco Junction and Moab via the SR 128

We stop for a snack here, Beverly gets a cream soda that she claims was the best she's ever tasted, I get a root beer.

Our final destination for the day is Pagosa Springs, Colorado where we have a condo waiting for us. The lodging is in the middle of a golf course, right on the edge of a small lake. It is a nice setting for despite the  golf course...anyway, we are sleeping when Bev wakes me at about 1:00 am...
"Ken! There is something in here!"
And sure enough I hear something scritching around.
I get up and arm myself with a riding boot... and start checking the closets etc. 
I find nothing, but can still hear the scritching...I finally figure out it (whatever "it" is..) is underneath our condo in the crawl space.
We go back to bed, but a few minutes later I hear our neighbors talking loudly, and then the doors slamming and they were outta-there!

We didn't get eaten or attacked during the night, so following day we're off to Taos.
We see this a few miles outside of Taos. They didn't move during the three days we spent there.

We spent three days in Taos, shopping, tasting authentic Mexican food, shopping....

We also visited a place several miles outside of town that builds these houses called "Earthships".
The earthships are pretty neat. They have built in greenhouses, solar gathering, recyclable water systems, etc. The power usage of the earthship is extremely small and can reportedly be satisfied by solar or wind powered power.
We took the self guided tour and were fascinated by the earthship. 

After the earthship tour we rode the "Enchanted Circle" an 87 mile loop through the local mountains.
We stop at the New Mexico state park Vietnam war memorial.

And then we go back to our lodging.
It was an educational, beautiful, and humbling day.
(more in part 2)

An Enchanting ride, part 2

The next day our main activity is to visit the Taos Pueblo.
The Taos Pueblo has been continuously occupied by the Tiwa people for over 900 years.

The Church. 
The Native Americans here were converted to Catholics when the Spanish came, but then returned to their Earth based religion. They have now combined the two, seeing similarities between the two and they practice both religions.

 The oldest part of Taos Pueblo. About 150 people live in this village.

 The graveyard.

We leave in the morning for Bluff, Utah.

This guy was caught texting while driving...

Gas stop in Chama.

We pass Shiprock, New Mexico. This monadnock rises 1583 feet above the desert floor.

Four corners.

Riding into Bluff.

We eat at the Twin Rocks Cafe.....can you guess how they got their name?

Beverly had an excellent burger, sans buns. I had a ho hum Navajo taco.

Tomorrow (in part 3) we'll ride to Torrey, Utah.