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Leonard - Motorcycle Touring contributor

Leonard and Judy's Autumn Tour 2008

Preparation for the October Utah 2008, nine day trip, started in February. All the routing had been worked out by mid June and all our reservations had been made by mid August. The Victory and trailer were fully prepared in September waiting for the October departure date to arrive.

Saturday, October 4th. (The first day.)

Leonards Tour Aspens near Ashley National ParkWe pulled out at 10:00AM, about an hour later then we had planned, but that's the way it goes sometime. Not to worry, we were only going to ride about 300 miles to our overnight stay in Craig, Colorado. We had only ridden about a hour and a half in total, when we ran into very cold rain. After catching a weather report on a gas station radio, we decided to change our route avoiding Muddy Pass & Rabbit Ears pass near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, which are farther north. We put on our snowmobile suits, cold weather insulated gloves and ski masks which we wore for the rest of the day. It was a pain to remove the ski mask each time we paid for gas. I didn't want the small town stations thinking I was going to rob them.

By changing our route to US Highway #24, we still had to go through Tennessee pass at 10,000 ft. and on I-70, Fremont pass at 11,000 ft. which are farther south giving hope for warmer temperatures. At the small town of Minturn getting onto I-70 is a little tricky. The signs are confusing and come up to fast. The result was, we turned east, going the wrong direction. A split second later, I knew we were headed east, but one cannot just ride across the medium and head the correct way. The state Police frown on such activities. When we did reach the next exchange to correct our direction, we were met with wind blown snow. This was near Vail pass at 10,000 ft and we were glad we were going back west. We quickly ran out of the snow, which changed back into rain and the rest of the roads were busy enough that the traffic kept the surface wet, but free from ice. However, it was fate that we would ride in rain for the rest of the day and half the next. Because of the rain and cold weather, we didn't observe much. Lunch from the trailer was eaten in haste. Gas stops were quick. No pictures were taken, although the Aspen trees were at their peak with vivid yellow and orange colors along the roadway. Conversation during our short stops, was limited to brief comments about the weather. We may have even swore a little bit. I don't want to remember. I do know we questioned our sanity.

At Rifle, Colorado, we left the Interstate highway and turned North to Craig and the KOA. It was nearly dark and the air was bitter cold, when we arrived. So, we opted for a nice quick supper of soup and sandwiches prepared on the cabin deck. We ate inside the cabin in spite of the big sign inside that said, "No eating or cooking in the cabins." We turned on our tiny electric heater and ate in comfort. Although it's a small heater, it will warm a cabin easy, thus keeping us cozy and warm all night.

Sunday, October 5th. (The second day.)

Tour-Leonards Tour - Helper, UtahIt was still raining in Craig when we left, so we climbed into the snowmobile suits again. We checked the weather hoping for a break, but it was not to be. So, after a quick breakfast, we headed west on highway 40 through Vernal, Utah, to Duchesne. (Pronounced Do-shane.) Just before Duchesne, we ran out of the rain and the clouds. We toured the town briefly looking for a park where we could eat lunch, but didn’t find any. On a chance we stopped at the Post Office and the kind lady there gave us directions to a very nice city park only one block off the highway. (We have found that eating lunch from the trailer is convenient and saves time.) We fed some bread to a mooching squirrel, but had no other visitors. The rest of the day was clear, but cool. We were able to exchange the snowmobile pants for chaps, which made riding a lot more comfortable. We left Duchesne turning south onto US # 191, passing through Ashley National Forest. The forest is on both sides of the road, so we were able to once again feast our eyes on the brilliant trees, small pristine creeks and the beautiful back drop of mountains. As we wound our way south, we passed through the towns of Helper and Price, Utah. Helper seemed to be a very dead town with empty buildings and no people on the streets. It appears as though it never advanced beyond the 50's. Later we learned that Helper depends heavily upon revenue generated by the local constabulary. So if you ever transverse Helper, for goodness sakes, watch your speed and stop at the stop signs. Price on the other hand was a bustling small town offering big stores and cheaper gas. We rode on through Wellington, staying on # 191 all the way to Green River for this night's stay.

On the way to Green River, we did see some pretty scenery. The Aspens and other trees again were brilliant in color and such a contrast against the vivid red stone mountains. It was refreshing to see blue sky over the valley we rode through, set between the mountains. The road was nice and the traffic was light. But, due to the morning rain and a gas shortage problem, we lost a lot of time, so we only took a couple of pictures. Our gas problem started when we left Craig this morning. Craig to Vernal is 120 miles, but I figured we could top the tank off mid way to Vernal at the small town of Dinosaur, Colorado. So, we didn’t fill the tank before leaving Craig. When we arrived at Dinosaur, we found the only gas station in town, that was always open on our past tours, to be closed. It looked like they had gone out of business. Continuing on west, we slowed to 50 mph and then to 40 mph hoping we could get as close to Vernal as possible, before running completely out of gas. Our guardian angels were on the job and we made it to the first gas station in Vernal.

The Victory has a five gallon tank and it took 4.8 gallons to fill it back up. After that we topped off the tank when ever we made stops.

We arrived at Green River right on schedule and had a relaxing evening dinner at a great restaurant with in walking distance of the KOA. After a good days ride and a wonderful meal, we were ready for bed.





Leonard and Judy's Autumn Tour - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4




More of Leonard's articles: Two Wheels by the Campfire




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