Thursday, April 18, 2019

Railroad crossing, look out for the cars......

Luke and Kimber (Kaybi's kids) are on Spring break or something for a week.
Soooo....a field trip the the Golden Spike National Historical Monument is in order.

It is a RAINY day! My windshield wipers were on for the entire 95 miles to the Monument, but as we arrive in the parking lot I'm able to turn them off...  Nice!

The friendly and helpful Rangers give the kids a map/treasure hunt booklet, and let us use a golden spike for this photo.

The Golden Spike was driven at this location (Promontory Point) May 10 1869 completing the first transcontinental railroad across the U.S.
Mr. Leland Stanford (rich guy) who later funded much of guessed it, Stanford University. Was the designated celebrity spike driver...
Anyway, Mr. Standford swung the huge hammer and missed the spike on his first try, but he was eventually able to tap it into its pre-drilled hole, and, being 75% gold, it was then promptly removed and put in a safe place
The actual spike that linked the east-west lines was a normal everyday iron spike that was pounded in by an Irish laborer named Wilde McHamrr, and holding the spike was a Chinese laborer named, Hu duc Faste...

As the tourist season had not yet started, the two replicas of the trains that met on that historic day were not on display yet, but still housed in their garage. We were able to go in and see them and get a couple pix.

From the west side, California being California sent a gayly colored engine name Jupiter. From the east side they sent boring Engine 119, festooned with the typical black and soot of the day.


And on the other side, Engine 119

After that we drove another 18 miles to see the Spiral Jetty.
The Spiral Jetty is an earthwork sculpture by Robert Smithson, and considered to be his most important work.
It was completed in 1970 at this site chosen partially because of the salt water resistant algae that lives here and makes the water blood red. The Jetty is 1500 feet long and made of basalt rocks.

"WHO'S GOING TO CLEAN MY TRUCK?!"  I ask.  "Not me" says Kimber, "its your truck..."
Darn kids! :)

Next up for us is the Thiokol rocket garden.

Luke does his "Shuttle Booster before launch" routine, while Kimber shows us her 'rocket dance'...

A stop at the Golden Spike cafe where the lady at the counter compliments the kids on how polite they are. "Good parentage" I reply. "And I'll bet good grand-parentage too" she says.  
Well....who am I to disagree?? 

And then on our way home.
An awesome day!!!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Utah to Vegas to Marfa to Home. I

A couple of the grand-daughters are in a dance competition in St George, Utah. Bev drives down to watch the dancing and (unfortunately) I show up (on the bike) to late to go to the competition...
But....after they are done and heading back home, Bev and I ride and drive onto Vegas and spend a week there seeing the strip....oops, nope, the other sights around Las Vegas!

This is the Goldwell open air museum near Rhyolite, Nevada.

"The Last Supper"

And a couch.

And then...
Somebody paints these rocks just off the freeway near Primm, Nevada.

Then on to Landers, California to see the Giant Rock.
Several years ago there was an annual convention of UFO-logists at this location. There is a dirt landing strip (for airplanes...) to the left of this photo.

This very nice ......priest or lama or something.... was telling me there was a World War II spy that lived underneath the rock in order to spy on the nearby Marine base. He is pointing at the hole where the spy accessed his 'home' under the rock.

This is the "Integratron" built by George Van Tassel between the years of 1957 and 1959. It was apparently designed to 'refresh' people, allowing them to live longer more productive lives, instead of losing all that hard gained experience to our 'short' life spans.
George reported that he was given the plans bit by bit by an alien visitor. As he would finish each part, he would then be given another part of the plan and so on....
Unfortunately George died under suspicious circumstances, and his papers disappeared shortly before he was able to finish and activate the we'll never know if it actually worked or not.
The Integratron is 38 feet tall and has a diameter of 55 feet.

Our next days excursion started in Boulder, Nevada at the World famous Coffee Cup Cafe.

Breakfast was delicious, as is usual at the Coffee Cup!

Then on to to the 'Ghost Town" of Nelson, Nevada.

From Nelson, we drove to Nipton, California for lunch.

More in part II

Utah to Vegas to Marfa to Home II

We then drive toward Goodsprings, Nevada where Butch Cassidy is supposedly buried.

To the best of my knowledge a person can't go to the internment site without special permission, but just getting to the town is close enough for me.

And that was it for the first part of this trip. Bev drove home the next day and I rode south passing through Laughlin, Nevada.

Then on Route 66 and stopping for the night in Holbrook, Arizona....but not in a Teepee!

Onward the next day I pass through Magdalena, New Mexico....

And see this sculpture by artists Elmgreen and Dragset, near Valentine, Texas.
'The Prada Store.'

The thing about The Prada Store is, it is in one of those "middle of nowhere" locations... hence the 'art'.

Sadly, the very night the sculpture was finished in 2005, it was vandalized. 

Repaired and wired with an alarm system it was again vandalized in 2014. That time the perp, a local  self described 'artist' (actually a shithead) was caught, tried and convicted.

Currently the Texas DOT is contemplating removal of the art. Again, sad.
(click on the picture to see the shoes and purses inside the store)

Locks on the fence behind the Prada Store.

Then a few miles west of Marfa I run into this....based on the 1956 movie, "Giant" with James Dean.

I finally make it to Marfa.

Marfa is a beautiful (but expensive) town! Lots of interesting architecture and history.
Here are a few pictures around the town.
Some government building.

A bank.

An Episcopalian church.

I break a little part off my kickstand....the tab that makes it easy to deploy. So I sought out a local welder, Buddy, who said he was willing to try and fix it but didn't have the proper equipment for the material it is made instead we just chatted for a good spell...which was VERY enjoyable. One thing he told me about was this scenic route down to Presidio, then to Big Bend National Park, then to Alpine....  about 180 miles.

That ride was one of the highlights of the trip!

The route took me right along the border, here is The Rio Grande

This is from a movie set shot years ago.
(I can't remember the name of the movie..)

More Rio..

An old Mission in Lijatis, Texas.

And then back to my motel in Alpine. Alpine is about 20 miles east of Marfa and lodging is MUCH cheaper there.

I arrive at my motel, and prepare for my night's activities - to try and see the "Marfa Lights".  What is the Marfa lights?  No one really knows....they've been appearing for over 150 years, but when the cowboy asked about them in 1883 he was told by locals that they had been observing the lights since their arrival in the area. Plus the Native Americans had stories about the lights in their lore.

So I rode out to the 'viewing area' about 18 miles from my motel.  The Texas DOT have constructed this area to facilitate people stopping and hoping to view the lights. chair, snack, and water in hand I set about watching for the lights.
I did see them about 3 hours later (be patient!). No pictures as they would simply look like a flashlight or something, but they were definitely not like anything I have seen before.

The lights have been described in numerous ways, but most often they seem to appear as 'glowing orbs' several feet off the ground.  And that is essentially what I saw, glowing orbs that blinked on and off and showed up in varied formations.

Ok....Marfa lights checked off my list!

Tomorrow it is time to turn north and start for home.

Utah to Vegas to Marfa to Home. III

So I head north back toward Utah.

Unfortunately I ride the US 285 in Texas which is packed with oil field trucks!

Of course that is GREAT for business but is somewhat bad for the tourist (me) as the semi-truck to car ratio was (scientifically speaking) SCADS of trucks to very few cars and motorcycles... (haha)

I had four locals approach me and tell me emphatically to ride careful.....not the normal, 'be safe' type of warning, but they stressed how dangerous this two lane undivided road is... One of them told me this is the most dangerous road in Texas.
And I was dutifully careful.

Another thing about that area is the ubiquitous "HELP WANTED" signs.  Along with the bustling  bee hive on steroids atmosphere - their economy is booming! 

I was munching on a sandwich in a gas station parking lot and happened to ask a guy standing near a truck beside me, 'what are the jobs that all these people are doing...'?
Before he could answer, his crew boss jumped out of the other side of the truck and trotted around and said to me, "What kind of work are you looking for?"
"No no", I replied, "I just wondering what type of work all these people are doing."
"Ohhh"....he seemed very disappointed that he hadn't found a worker. 

But he then explained the local industry (oil field) was crazy busy.  He then warned me very seriously to 'keep my eyes open and ride very very carefully?" 
When we parted he told me,  "Go with God and be safe".
I did and was.

Back on the road.

I make it to Roswell, New Mexico where I stay overnight.

On the road again I pass the VLA, Very Large Array. 

Farther west I ride to Pie Town, where I felt it was my duty to taste test the pies at the Gatherin Place Cafe.

I picked my pie off the shelf and it was still warm from the oven, the kitchen is on one end of the building, where three magicians....errrr, cooks were busy making pies.

When I finished the lady at the counter said, "You ate the entire thing by yourself, not many people can do that!"
I'm not sure how I feel about that comment....

Fat and happy I continue on to Springerville for an overnight rest, then the next day I ride to Flagstaff where I'll have dinner with former V-Strom buddy, now Super Tenere buddy Howard.

A building in Snowflake, Arizona.

The LDS Temple in Snowflake.


Don't forget Winona!

Howard and his wife treat me to a very delicious dinner at a nice Greek place....can't remember the name.
After the tasty meal and great conversation I return to my room and rest for a long next day.

And the next day IS a long one. I make a comfort stop somewhere north of Flagstaff....

Near Lee's Ferry, Arizona.

Annnnd 520 miles later I'm home....
...note the gentle yellow hues that I have delicately festooned my windscreen with.....

It was a super ride. I went mostly intending on seeing the Marfa lights....mission accomplished. I also wanted to see Big Bend National Park, but that will have to wait until the next time.

Marfa is indeed a beautiful town, but if you stay overnight lodge in nearby Alpine to save big bucks.
I re-discovered that Texas is a state chock full of good people! The interactions I had with local folks was interesting and gratifying. Win win.
3169 miles. 
Good times.