September 15, 2003 GMT
DAY 12

Day 12

Westminster, Colorado to Westminster, Colorado

257 miles

2758 Total Miles

We assembled at 10:00 in the hotel parking lot. The skies were crystal clear and the temperature was moderate. It looked to be a great day for riding. Today would be a little different because Bill would be carrying a passenger, his wife Laurel.

lsc1
The three stooges?

We hit the road at 10:30 and drove to Golden, Colorado on route to Estes Park. From there we took the Golden Gate Canyon Road through the Roosevelt National Forest. In Estes Park, we ate a mediocre lunch at Nicky's Restaurant. After Estes Park the ride got really interesting. We soon arrived at the Rocky Mountain National Park. The national park annual passes we purchased from Herr Burman at the Florissant Fossil Beds a couple of days ago came in handy.

rmnpentrance
Father photographing his daughter, a future Cosmo cover

The park road featured a series of severe switchbacks and, as a result, we gained altitude quickly. Heavy traffic made the ascent a little slow but the scenery was some of the best we've driven through. We continued to climb and climb. The view got better and better (we're running out of words to describe the views). It was another case of the scenery being almost too good for our own good as we tried to watch the road while driving our motorcycles up a very twisty, very scenic road. Once again were had no guardrails and the drop-offs were deep. We were on the Trail Ridge Drive, the only road that crosses the entire park. It is the highest paved road in the United States.

mtn1
Views from Trail Ridge Road

We negotiated switchback after switchback, each one revealing another incredible view. The air became noticeably cooler until it dipped to the mid--30's. Finally, at 12,200 feet we reached the crest. Well past the tree line, the terrain was a monochrome of tundra and rock.

mtn2
A hidden valley on our way down the mountain

We began descending rapidly and the switchbacks were now all downhill. This was challenging riding for two guys who have been on motorcycles for only 16 months. Bill faced the additional challenge of carrying a passenger, something he rarely does.

Shortly after leaving the park, we stopped for gas. That's when we learned the tragic news that the Colts beat the Titans 33-7. After a moment of silence in honor of Steve McNair's dislocated finger, we gassed up. It was a good stop, however, since we met Lloyd Curry and Larry St. Clair from North Carolina. They've been riding buddies for 11 years and have logged thousands of miles riding together. Bill and Bo thought it took them only a short time to drive from Tennessee to Colorado until they heard that Larry and Lloyd drove from North Carolina to Colorado via New Orleans in just five days. These guys are real road warriors.

larry
Larry and Lloyd with thier bikes

We said goodbye to Larry and Lloyd and drove on through Winter Park, Colorado, which like Aspen and Snowmass, is busy in preparation for skiing season.

It was then time to return to Denver. By this point we were back to a bit over 10,000 feet. Our route downhill took us through the Arapaho National Forest, which contained tremendous stands of Fir which led up to a treeless ridgeline. The road, Highway 40, was a newly paved four-lane, with a wonderful series of twisties and long sweeping curves. It was an unexpectedly fine ride.

Our last 40 miles or so were uneventful and we arrived back in Denver at 7:30.

Although she never protested and was a trooper all day, Bill and Bo probably gave Laurel more of a ride than she needed on her first day in Colorado.

lsc2
Married with children

lsc3
Cruising the West

Posted by Bill Thompson at September 15, 2003 04:55 PM GMT
Comments

Go girl....You two look wonderful.....the views are incredible...I can only say I wish I were there

Posted by: Beth on September 15, 2003 06:09 PM GMT

We are enjoying your log!! Pictures are great.
Enjoy your trip.

Posted by: Jerry and Audrey on September 16, 2003 02:31 AM GMT
Sorry, due to heavy form spamming, Comments are OFF.
 



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