AMA Conference Part One

(AMA Conference is the third of four trips taken as part of Iron Butt Association’s National Parks Tour (NPT), where I visited at least 50 national parks, monuments, historical sites, etc., in at least 25 states in one year.)
 
 
BTH 8-16-09
 
Hello from Santa Rosa, New Mexico!   I’m taking an indirect route through New Mexico and East Utah to Keystone, Colorado, to end up at the American Motorcyclist Association Women’s Conference, which happens every four years.
   
Besides the AMA conference, for the next three weeks I’ll be visiting several national parks in an attempt to get my Iron Butt Association National Parks Tour Master Traveler Award.   Got a pretty good start on it with the Death Valley and Colorado Springs trips, but have a long way to go.    
 
As usual, there is nothing to say about the ride out of Texas except hot, windy, and flat.  Rode 623 miles today, which is a lot for me.  Tomorrow’s destination is Moab, Utah, where I’ll spend two nights.  This is gonna be good!
 
Peace on the Road!
BT 
 
 
BTH 8-17-09
 
Hello from Moab, Utah!  It was another long day and I’ll be glad to stay put for two nights.
 
The ride through North New Mexico was, of course, scenic, green and constantly changing.  The weather was absolutely perfect with sunny skies and little wind.  Nice riding.
 
Visited the Aztec Ruins National Monument, where you can watch real live ongoing archeological work.  By the way, this was a Pueblo site, not Aztec.  The locals who originally named the site assumed it was Aztec based on sensationalized reports.  Here is a park ranger carrying a bucket of dirt from the bottom of that ladder, and you can see where they’re sifting through the dirt. 
 
 
From Aztec the scenery turned into gorgeous high mountain plains with huge cottonwoods, wild flowers and alpine trees at the high elevations.  Cut through Southwest Colorado for a few hundred miles.  The scenery was postcard perfect, but there was so much ground to cover that I didn’t take the time to stop and take pictures.  Finally rounded a curve and all of a sudden there it was – those incredible red canyons of Utah.  This is Wilson’s Arch, taken from the side of the road. 
 
  
Peace on the Road!
BT
 
 
BTH 8-18-09
 
Hello again from Moab, Utah.  It was another action-packed day and I’m exhausted — but in a good way!  It’s a good thing I arrive at the conference tomorrow, where I hope to get some rest!
 
Before getting started on the day’s events, I have to gripe about something that irritates the heck out of me.  Seems that no matter where I am or whether I’m on my little scooter or motorcycle, people in cages just have to crowd themselves in, whether they have plenty of room or not.  Anyone else noticed that?   Here is what I found this morning.  What you don’t see in the picture is the empty six feet to the left of the cage.   What’s up with that?   Perhaps the license plate gives us a clue?  Grrrrr. . . .
 
 
 Anyway. . . .  Got up early, drove out to Canyonlands National Park, and spent several wonderful hours in the northern section.   Really, though, you’d need at least a week to fully appreciate it.   Canyonlands is a bit like a mini Grand Canyon, but without the enormous area and huge crowds of people everywhere.  Took over a hundred pictures today and it was difficult to pick out only a few.  You can see how rugged and difficult the terrain is.  Apparently, Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid, along with other outlaws, used these remote canyons for hideouts.   
 
 
This next picture shows where the Green River carves through Canyonlands, and you can see how the river got its name.  
 
 
Isn’t this incredible?
 
 
From Canyonlands I high-tailed it over to Arches National Park for the rest of the afternoon.  Got to see numerous arches from the roadside and places where it looked to me like arches were in the process of being formed.
   
All the cool, big arches had to be seen by hiking back to them and I only had time for one.  Here is Delicate Arch, claimed to be the most famous arch in the world.   Recognize it?  It’s the arch on the Utah license plates and anything else to do with Utah.  Isn’t it amazing how it’s free standing like that?  By the way, Tevas stick like glue to slickrock!
 
 
Peace on the Road!
BT
 

BTH 8-19-09

Hello from Keystone, Colorado! 
 
Left Moab early and headed to Colorado National Monument.  I’d never even heard of it until a month or so ago and I don’t understand why.  It’s beautiful, fascinating, and deserves a lot of recognition.  The park video is excellent, and this visit might be the thing that inspires me to take a basic geology course.  Rimrock Drive, which is a 23-mile drive around the rim of the canyon, is claimed to have “one of the grandest scenic drives in the American West” and it just might be true!   Be sure to add this to the list of national parks you have to see! 
 
At one point I was looking down into a deep gorge and got a bird’s-eye view of a very active, noisy bluebird.  It was such a treat to be able to see and hear the brilliant electric blue flashing back and forth.  In fact, I was as impressed with him as I was with the timeless beauty of the canyon!
 
Here are a few pics of this “grand” place.  Unfortunately, they don’t even begin to do it justice.  Nice weather, huh?
 
 
 
 
 TRAVEL TIP:  If you go to Colorado National Monument, manipulate the situation to where you can be a passenger so you can rubberneck to your heart’s content.  There are lots of switchbacks on narrow roads with sheer cliffs and steep dropoffs, and the driver is way too busy to get to see everything!
 
From there I rushed over to Keystone.  Got here in time for packet pickup at registration, find the condo, unload and run back over for opening ceremonies.  Looks like the conference is gonna be good!  
 
Peace on the Road!
BT
 
 
 
BTH 8-22-09
 
Hello from Keystone, Colorado! 
 
I’m still here at the AMA conference and today is the last day.  The conference has been fantastic.  It’s been well done with a lot of high-quality seminars, large vendor’s area, a chance to demo ride a variety of motorcycle makes and models, and lots of fun activities.  And the speaker for the closing ceremonies tonight will be none other than Lois Pryce, who you “met” in Biketrash Holiday Colorado Springs.  
 
Now for the not-so-good news.  Keystone sits at 9,200 feet, which I’m told is the third highest ski resort in North America.  Your Biketrash has always had trouble with high altitudes, and staying here for several days has taken its toll.  Yesterday I was sick with every single symptom of high-altitude sickness (called acute mountain sickness) and had to go to a medical clinic.  They sent over an oxygen machine for sleeping and today I do feel better.  At least my lips and fingernails aren’t purple anymore! 
 
The gentle reader will want to avoid details, but let’s simply say my digestive system was completely cleaned out in a most uncivilized way yesterday, which has left me very weak.  I’ll be staying an extra day to regain strength, but will continue using the oxygen at night.  
  
Anyway. . . .  This was taken from the back of the condo.  You can see how close we are to the timberline.  Now, that’s a high elevation!  
 
 
This is NOT  a stuffed animal!  He’s a sweet little sheltie that has been attending the conference workshops.  His chauffer says he loves riding back there.
 
 
This rider uses a wheelchair, and  her husband designed this ingenious system and has applied for a patent.  How cool is that?   Notice the bungee on the floorboard that holds her left foot in place.
  
 
Peace on the Road!
BT
 
 
BTH 8-24-09 
 
Hello from Vernal, Utah, which is just over the border from far Northwestern Colorado. 
 
This morning the ole digestive track was finally in control of itself, I weakly limped out of Keystone, and after descending 4,000 feet into Vernal, my appetite and enthusiasm have miraculously been restored.  Now that it’s all over, I must confess to y’all that yesterday I was ready to abort this trip and not even care.  Just goes to show how profoundly that stinkin’ altitude sickness will affect every cell in a person’s body.  However, that was then and this is now, and your Biketrash certainly does not intend to repeat that high-altitude mistake!
 
The ride into Steamboat was chilly, crossing two mountain passes, but it was beautiful and the fresh smell of pine was intoxicating.  West of Steamboat there was one sprawling high-plains ranch after another.  Lots of horses everywhere.  Here are a few examples, still in Colorado.  I love the different shades of green!   
 
 
It took several minutes to get off the bike, get out the camera, take the next two pictures, put it all away and get going, and not one vehicle passed during that time.  Some might call this area boring, but the wide openness and big sky completely draw me in.  A girl sure has room to take in a full, deep breath here.  But can you imagine the winters?  Yikes!  Not me, man!
 
 
 
 Went to Dinosaur National Monument, which is mostly in  Colorado with a small sliver in Utah.  Sadly, the main Visitor’s Center with all the good dinosaur fossils had to be closed for structural problems.  Arrived too late at the temporary Visitor’s Center to hike back to the fossils there, but did get my stamp. 
  
These pictures were taken on the way to the Utah side of the park. 
 
 
 
In the true spirit of U.S. commercial exploitation, there are huge pink and blue cartoonish dinosaurs all over this area.  You should see the City of  Vernal, where they’re everywhere.  Here is a shameless American consumer and an anonymous rugrat who insisted on being in the picture, buying into one of those vile frauds.  (Her grandmother was taking the picture, so I had to act like an adult and not kick her off.  Doh!)
 
 
Peace on the Road!
BT
 
BTH 8-25-09
 
Hello from where I-84 and I-15 meet in North Utah!   
 
Left Vernal by 8:00 a.m. and headed up to Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.  The ride was fabulous.  The first twisty mountain pass ran through sheer cliffs and ancient formations.  Then the second more-like-sweepers mountain pass was mile after mile of aspen stands that turned to alpine in the higher elevations.  Don’t know how that can happen, but it sure makes for a varied ride.  Here is Flaming Gorge just before the dam crossing.
 
 
From there I headed up to Fossil Butte National Monument, which is in Wyoming.  Oh, man, what a nice ride!  In and out of beautiful green hills (small mountains?) and canyons, but not abrupt and angular like they are south of there.  
 
 
Fossil Butte National Monument is a fascinating place, so put it on your to-go-to list.  This stuff is incredible and the fossils there are some of the most perfectly preserved remains of  ancient plant and animal life in the world.  There are literally billions of fossils of plants, insects, reptiles, birds, mammals and fish.  Here is the weird part:  they’re all subtropical.   In Wyoming?  In fact, after watching the excellent park video, I’m going to have to add paleontology to my adult education.  I could have easily spent several more hours there, but needed to keep focused on riding for stamps!  
 
The following picture shows the actual fossil butte where the excavations happen.   It’s mainly that white ridge at the top.   
 
 
Left FB and had a spectacular scenic drive back into Utah through Logan Canyon in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.  It was 40 miles of some of the most enjoyable riding I’ve ever experienced, and Lizzie was grinning from driving light to driving light!  Stunning scenery (when there was time to sneak a look) with twists and turns and ups and downs.  Couldn’t call it super technical riding, but will say you’ll quickly end up in a ditch if your mind wanders.  Sorry about no pictures, but for this section it was all about the joy of the ride.  
 
Eventually ended up at Golden Spike National Historic Site, which is the location where the Union Paific and Central Pacific railroads met to make cross-country rail a reality.  You know, I tried to be interested in this – watched the park video, walked around and took a few pictures — but to me, honestly, it’s nothing more than one more stamp in the passport book.  
 
Here is the exact location where the last tie was laid with the famous golden spike.  Exciting stuff, huh?  
 
 
This picture shows a replica of Union Pacific’s No. 119 engine that pulled up to the golden spike.  More importantly, it correctly reflects the average age of every other park visitor than myself!
 
 
In case anybody plans to visit Utah, I will definitely be keeping a copy of today’s incredible route.  It’s absolutely worth repeating — except maybe for the, ahem, exciting last destination.
 
Peace on the Road!
BT
 
 
 
BTH 8-26-09  
 
Hello from Pocatello, Idaho!
 
Today’s episode will be short and sweet.  It’s late and I need to leave early tomorrow.  I’m finding out why this National Parks Tour is an Iron Butt event — because it sure is a lot of riding!  After tomorrow I’ll take it easy for a few days.
 
Intended to go to City of Rocks National Reserve in far Southern Idaho.  After losing quite a bit of time to construction and a terribly torn-up road, decided to cut my losses and turn around.  These next two pictures show what I was looking at during one particularly long construction delay.  At least the scenery was outstanding!  
  
 
 
Had a nice turkey-on-wheat at the Albion Cafe, which is a friendly mother-daughter operation.  I do believe the mother is the brains of the operation, although the daughter is very sweet — bless her heart!
 
 
From there I traveled up to the Minidoka Internment National Monument, one of the Japanese encampments from World War II.  Very somber.  This is what little is left from the actual camp, although a rock garden has been reconstructed.  The site is being developed and in a few years there should be a lot more information available and displays.  You can see the rock material is lava, which is everywhere in Idaho.  No Minidoka park stamp at this remote location, but was able to get it at my next stop.
 
 
From there I headed over to Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument.  One thing that’s unusual about this particular location  is that they’ve found some ancient horse skeletons.  The park video called them “zebra like.” 
 
When I was through at the Visitor’s Center, the thermometer on my motorcycle said 101 degrees in the shade, so, needless to say, I didn’t spend time looking around or even take one picture.  (What’s up with all this heat?)   
 
Peace on the Road!
BT
 

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