Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Representing the 99%!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Who's There? A Trip to Remember by Wolf Raaen

Canyon Ride 2013
12 Days of Perfect Sunshine, Spectacular Scenery &  
Good Folks as Company!

Zion National Park
All Photos & Words © Wolf Raaen

Day 1 Las Vegas  Our timing and planned arrival in Las Vegas went flawless; 1:15 pm landing, 15 minutes to the hotel and 4 pm motorcycle pick up in walking distance from hotel. Evening free to explore……

What Happens in Vegas...
Day 2 Las Vegas, NV to Hurricane UT  After a leisurely breakfast, packing the bikes we headed out. A last minute route change had us taking the “North Shore road” out of Las Vegas. Great choice as it winds its way along Lake Mead to the junction of the Valley of Fire State Park Hwy and to our same name first sightseeing stop. Magnificent red rock formations and a meandering road though them, made for some great pics. After a brief lunch stop in Mesquite UT at Playoffs we ended our day in Hurricane UT. We had originally planned to stay in Springdale (Zion National Park gateway), but the entire city had been sold out for that weekend for months already…

Valley of Fire
Lake Mead
Day 3 --- Hurricane UT to Torrey, UT  Knowing that we had a long day ahead, we headed out early after a typical “continental hotel breakfast (included with most hotels). Zion National Park , Bryce Canyon and Escalante State Park were our main stops for today. Within ½ hr we were at the entrance gate (fee charged, but we had purchased a yearly pass for $ 80, which turned out to be perfect!)…What a fantastic ride; a steep climb up the mountains with hairpin turns and fantastic scenery everywhere you looked. Full concentration was needed to stay upright :-) and mostly the ladies (on the back seat) reaped the benefit of our surroundings. The Zion - Mount Carmel Tunnel was met with fear and exhilaration at once. After carefully negotiating the darkness, we entered a world of unrivaled beauty under a perfect sky. Winding our way north we eventually reached Bryce Canyon, and after a mediocre lunch at the “Cowboy Buffet and Steak Room” (located in the local Best Western hotel), we headed into the park. It was really busy and the main lookout I had planned to visit had been blocked off by park rangers die to overcrowding, so we just kept going until the end to Rainbow Point. “Beautiful” and “majestic” are some of the words which come to mind. We spent quite some time soaking it all in, but at one point we had to push on to make our next destination, Escalante State Park. Got the only at 5 pm, so barely made the Escalante Petrified Forest skipping the 1 ½ mile walk and only seeing a few “dead trees” lol. 2 hrs before dark we had to move on…..route 12 (after Bryce Canyon) needs to be talked about. This was the most fantastic road on our entire trip, rising and falling, winding and twisting its way to Torrey UT. We rose to an altitude of 9,000 ft, along the edge of mountains, then dropped into a farming valley, ending up in thick forests before reaching Torrey at 7:15 pm, exhausted and cold but veeeeeery happy. :-)  This day turned out to be the best (riding) day of the entire trip.

Bryce Canyon
Escalante Petrified Forest
Day 4 --- Torrey, UT  to Moab, UT  Woke up to 4 degrees Celsius and after a quick breakfast, bundled up and started our day. Brrrr….made it to Capitol Reef in no time and set out exploring this spectacular area, winding our way on the tiniest of roads until the end parking lot and eventually back tracking to Rt 24 east. Each nation park has its own unique rock formations and scenery, so one is never bored by it. Photo ops are plentiful and we took full advantage of them. We often felt as though we were the only visitors in these areas and so our experience was even more fulfilling. The rest of the day found us traveling though lone stretches of desert with little to see and so our thought rested on the what we had just experience. Our destination for tonight, Moab came in time for us to enjoy a great dinner at Pasta Jays which had been recommended by a bunch of cyclists we encountered at the hotel. Moab is a hub for all types of outdoor activities, so the “granola” crowd is everywhere. We would stay here for a full “rest” day……this turned out to be an “action” day instead.

Picture Op!
Blue Skies Are Smiling On Us...
Day 5 --- Moab day of “rest” (hahahaha)  Waking up to another beautiful, sunny day and after a leisurely breakfast, we started our exploration of Dead Horse State Park. Again, perfect weather, excellent pavement and twisty winding roads to the grand lookout where photo ops are plentiful. This is where we got the bad news from a park ranger that all National Parks would be shutting down at midnight tonight!! Oops! Only two to go, one of them at the end of today…time to get moving, lol the story of our (action packed) lives :-) Canyonlands National Park brought us to yet another spectacularly scenic environment and we immersed ourselves in our surroundings. A quick lunch at Peacetree Juice Cafe and since the day was getting on Arches National Park was our sunset target (apparently all arches are best seen in the setting sun) With perfect timing, we ascended to Devil's Garden where I ended up doing a 1 ½ hike/jog, lol, to Landscape Arch, leaving all others to “chill”.  The Arches at sunset were fantastic as anticipated and we strolled though well trodden paths about for 1 ½ hrs to get shots from every angle. Done!  “Dinner” was in the lobby of our hotel and consisted of store bought goodies. :-) Exhausted, but happy, we turned in…..

Dead Horse Canyon
Devil's Canyon
Landscape Arch
Day 6 --- Moab, UT to Page, AZ  Another “must do” and the beginning of our ride this morning was the La Sal Mountain Loop Road which starts by winding its way along the Colorado river (route 128) and then climbs steadily until the road nearly disintegrates, before descending again, almost back into Moab….a well worth 2 ½ hr run! Heading south our next destination in mind was Monument Valley, native owned and operated and so not affected by the government shutdown. :-) There are available tours lasting 1 ½ to 2 1/22 hrs and cost anywhere from $ 40 to $ 80 per person, depending on your negotiations. :-) Monument valley This Navajo Tribal Park can only be seen from the Valley Drive, a 17 mile dirt road which starts at the visitor center and heads southeast amongst the towering cliffs and mesas, one of the most famous being “Totem Pole” which rises some 450’ high with diameter of only a few feet. With noon approaching and still lots to cover we pressed on and by 2:30 we had reached our days destination: Page, with the world famous Antelope Canyon in close proximity. Just made it in time for the afternoon tour and so life was good! Relaxing by the Courtyard Marriot pool before dinner with some drinks completed another fantastic day...

Monument Valley

La Sal Mountain Loop

Picture Perfect!
Typical Day at the Office!
Day 7 ---Page, AZ to Grand Canyon Village, AZ  Heading south on the 89 T, today would bring us to the canyon of all canyons the Grand Canyon. We had not heard anything at all about a reopening of the National Parks and so we just decided to go and see. Entering route 64, which is the only eastern access route, we immediately started to twist and turn our way through a variety of landscapes, all the while climbing higher and higher until we reached the actual park entrance gate. To our great disappointment, the park was still closed! A park ranger politely asked us to turn around and after securing our hotel in Flagstaff, we back tracked, reaching the Flagstaff Marriott by mid afternoon. Quick showers and shopping was on the agenda! Cracker Barrel dining that evening, turned out to be a home cooking treat. Although I have personally seen the Grand Canyon several times, I felt badly for those who had not. It was to be the grand finale of all canyons.

Grand Canyon
I'll Take Two Please! ;-)
The Only Way to Explore the Grand canyon! ;-)
Day 8 --- Flagstaff, AZ to Jerome, AZ  Another sunny, perfect morning. Full breakfast at the hotel and off we were. Riding south again on route 89 A is magical and serene: perfect, gently winding our way through spectacular scenery we happened upon Slide Rock State Park, OPEN, because it was a “State” park and not a nation park. After paying a $5.00 entrance fee (fees are payable at each park) we took our time walking along the well trodden paths right along oak creek where photo ops abounded. We spent a good hour or so soaking it all in….on the road again, Sedona became our lunch stop. Sedona has to be one of the most picturesque cities in the world and a hub of outdoor activity. Strolling up and own the main drag and after stopping in at the local Harley Davidson dealer, we settled down for our lunch overlooking a distant mountain range. Life is good!!  In the saddle again along the 89 A the road straightened and flattened a bit, so we decided to go off a bit, looking for a winery to do a bit of (light) sampling) Page Springs road promised to be the place to do just that with twisty roads to boot! To our disappointment and although there were two wineries, we could not stop, since the access to the wineries was very “unruly” gravel. Back on the 89 A, we eventually stopped at the historic city of Cottonwood, before continuing on to our final destination for today: Jerome…. Grand Hotel awaited us! Situated literally at the top of the hill, we snaked our way steeply uphill along a narrow hairpin turn road until we were met with a final semi-gravel path leading to the hotel. Gingerly we made our way up, one-by-one, until we were all safely tucked into a niche near the front of this haunted hotel. :-) This hotel has a long history of death; murder, suicides, ghosts and hauntings. I had not told the girls about it…oops! :-)  The hotel gad a certain “aura’ about it and was aptly decorated for “Halloween” on top of it all…..creepy is not the word and after seeing two ladies crying, because of feeling a “heaviness” in the staircase (they actually left the hotel!) our own ladies really got creeped out! Check in was swift and our rooms were perfectly decorated in the era when the hotel was built complete with squeaking doors and dim lighting. A perfect dinner at The Asylum, right at the hotel and our day/night was complete…or so we thought,,,,,. 4am came around and there was a commotion just outside our room. Turns out that one of our group had decided to play a little joke on another…after switching rooms, because of feeling eerie (one of the guys btw) only one hotel key was exchanged. The person in question decided to sleep with all his clothes on, full lights and TV going (talk about being creeped out). The other person using his second key, quietly entered his original room and turned everything OFF which immediately led to a freak out ruckus and party time in the hallway, complete with Jill in a bed sheet wandering the halls. :-) Luckily we occupied most rooms on the top floor, although some were not impressed……with 460 km of riding coming up, it was going to be a loooong day.

Enter At Your Own Risk! ;-)
A Shining Experience? :-p
Main Street U.S.A.
Keeping an Eye Out for Lightning McQueen! ;-)
Day 9 --- Jerome, AZ to Las Vegas, NV  Up early, quickly grabbing something to eat near the front desk (and feeling lucky that no one reported us) we headed out into a beautiful sunny, although a bit chilly, morning on super winding roads through the Woodchute Mountains. Crazy road and instant wake up call, requiring full concentration and alertness to stay upright! Fantastic! This road eventually completely straightened and flattened out so good time was being made heading “home”.  After a couple of “leg stretching” stops, we did the “Route 66” thing stopping in Seligman, and had lunch at the famous (not anymore in my book) Road Kill Cafe. A disappointing lunch was had by all, but our route 66 was done!



Dyson has nothing over Hoover Dam! ;-)
Road Kill Delivers in Back Only! :-p
The rest of the ride was uneventful and we even had to skip Hoover Dam, since it was mid afternoon and the bikes had to be returned by 4pm. Made it back to the hotel and returned the bikes at 4pm sharp! All in all it was a trip to remember!


  1. What a great write up of a beautiful trip Wolf...laughed at your spoooky adventures. Lovely photos too.


    1. Thanks guys, I'm flattered


  2. Very cool!!!


  3. Wow, now that is some really nice places to see.
    I'm planning to hit some of them for sure.
    Thx for sharing.

    PS, riding North Shore Road by Lake Mead Sunday morning

  4. den's funny looking tubs.... what beautiful photos and a grand adventure!
    thanks for sharing and reminding me of my need to go there.


  5. Very well written and a joy to read. Nice pictures too.. well done Wolf.

  6. Great story...good job and awesome pics...


  7. Wonderfully written journal of your friend's adventures on two wheels. My sincere apologies to your friends for our "stupid - very stupid legislators" that chose to close the National Parks thus canceling part of your friend's magnificent journey on two wheels. Thank God for the intelligence of the native American's and the State of Arizona for not closing their parks as well. I have done some of this ride with a very dear French Canadian friend of mine. It is truly a ride worthy of doing over again. I just might be passing through your area on two wheels this coming year (in the warmer months of course). If it comes to fruition, I will be in contact.

    Ride safe - Ride often - Have fun - Share your life with others


  8. Thanks for sharing....The wife and I plan on visiting the Grand Canyon next year.....not unless the dummy decides to close them again! :-( We encountered the same closed National Parks on an early October Arkansas / Missouri trip this year.

    SUZUKI1400 02

  9. Thanks - Mario! We are heading into Thanksgiving week here! Next Thursday is ours. Great write up by Wolf. How wonderful it is to have friends in different parts of the world! Really looking forward to having U and UR friends come down here 1 day.

    Larry Banks

  10. Great pics!

    We did Zion in 2011. I'd love to go back and spend more time there!

    JFL Live

  11. Is La Sal Mountain Loop Road completely paved now? and how was it on two wheels?

    1. Hi Nick,

      According to Wolf La Sal mountain loop IS completely pave although at the very highest section, the road is not great It's certainly drivable though, Quebec style, lol. It's not be missed and takes about 2 3/4 hrs to navigate.

      Let us know how you enjoy it when you get the chance to experience it yourself!

  12. Oh My Word!!!! those pic's R absolutely 2D4!!!!!! I been to a lot of those places toooo and they R fabulous!!!!


    1. Thanks for the kind words, Wolf will appreciate it very much! Still under thick snowfall here and am itching to get out and ride...

      Ride Safe!

  13. Nice post.. Thanks!


  14. This is an excellent story! I find it inspiring as well. I plan on a lone wolf bike tour soon but the destination is still unknown. Keep the shiny side up!

    Hoka Loogi

  15. Really nice pics and story! Some stunning scenery out west for sure..


  16. Its pics like that that have me itching to visit the Midwest. Would be great to live in that area, but its a good excuse to put some miles on sunshine! Thanks for sharing.