Thursday, September 5, 2013

Gunnison Ride - Labor Day Weekend 2013

I took a Labor Day ride with my brother-in-law this weekend.  I left the Springs yesterday morning at 0930, met Chris in Buena Vista and arrived in Gunnison at 1500 or so after 201 miles.  We stayed at the Inn at Tomichi Village over night.  It is a pretty nice motel.  I like staying at motels on motorcycle rides better than hotels.  Hotels might be more secure but I like being able to open the door and see the bike parked right out front.  If it's raining and I have a couple of beers to drink that's all the better.

The motel was the cheapest listed on  It had a two out of five star rating but a 4.1 of 5 on the number scale.  Not sure what the difference is but it is definitely a 4.5 out of 5 in my book.  So once we got settled in we headed 30 minutes north on Colorado Route 135 to Crested Butte for dinner.  We got there in the middle of a festival and the downtown was blocked off to traffic.  The last time Lisa and I were there there was also a festival and the street was blocked.  It made me wonder if the street is blocked off every weekend.  So we walked around looking for a steak house and found a pub that served steak, close enough. The West End Public House has a great 12 oz. New York strip. Chris had chicken and waffles which made me envious but it's not in my diet plan.

West End Public House
Afterward we rode a few miles up to the ski resort and took some photos.  In a state lousy with scenery this was some of the most scenic.  We got there at an optimal photo time.  It was sunset and thunderstorms had just passed through.  Everything was fresh and pinkish-orange.

It was just turning dark on the way back to the hotel and it was getting a little chilly.  We made a stop for a 6 pack of my favorite beer, Paulaner Hefe-Weizen and got back to the room for some local news.  I was out by 9 o'clock with a well earned sleep.

I got up at seven the next morning and realized that I had forgotten my toothbrush so it was off to the local Walmart for that and toothpaste.  This was one of the older Walmarts like you don't see anymore.  It was very small with a little electronics section in the middle of the store.  Anyone remember that lay out?

We rode west to the Blue Mesa Reservoir for a few more scenic shots then turned the bikes back east.  While stopped at a rest stop an older guy on a V-Strom pulled in and said hello.  I noticed the Oregon plates and talked to him for a little bit.  He had just come through Grand Junction visiting his son and was on his way to Texas to visit his other son.  I thought "There's one lucky guy" but then so am I.

We made one last stop in Gunnison on the way back through for gas.  I got to talking with a guy on a Harley with New Mexico plates.  The bike had the same dirty look form rain that our had.  The guy had rode up Saturday from Albuquerque and was on his way home.  On the way to Monarch Pass I questioned why I love to ride so much.  I mean it's really nothing more than a mode of transportation, one in which you're exposed to the elements and vulnerable to careless drivers and wild animals.  I couldn't come up with an answer that satisfied.  All I know is that I spend a lot of time laughing or singing out loud when I ride.  I know the guy on the Harley, the older gentleman on the V-Strom and Chris could identify.

Poor Man's GPS
Chris and I made it up over Monarch and got rained on (again) briefly.  Traffic was light Sunday afternoon going west but was pretty busy on Labor Day headed back east.  I drove way to fast up the mountain but took it slow down the other side.  Chris and I parted ways at Poncha Springs (I love these old west town names).  He headed for Silverthorn via Beuna Vista and Leadville and I decided to try a different way than I had come and headed for Salida and on to Canon City.  It's a great ride through a twisty canyon.  The road runs alongside the Arkansas River.  The headwaters for the river are just north of Leadville and the river is still narrow enough to walk across in spots in Colorado.

The traffic was heavier through here but a lot better than it would have been had I come through Woodland Park and across route 24.  I stopped for a little water break in Canon City.  Canon City's chief industry appears to be prisons by the way.

I finally pulled in around 4 o'clock.  I got in and was met with the greeting I always look forward to from Moon, Dash and Ruby the three wonder dogs.  The wife was still at work unfortunately.  It was a great ride.

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