Featured Sturgis 2023: Taking The Long Way ' Round In The American Southwest

Discussion in 'Rideouts, Trackdays, Touring & Spotted' started by Sandi T, Aug 19, 2023.

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  1. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #1 Sandi T, Aug 19, 2023
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2023
    Two weeks ago today, eight of us headed out for a twelve day adventure to attend the 83rd annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Black Hills National Park in South Dakota. We had five solo riders, one two-up bike, and one car--a Prius no less! :eek: Along the way we had loads of grand adventures--plus a few "misadventures" (none too bad thankfully). I'll share our adventures in this thread day by day as I've done with other write ups that cover multiple days of riding. My big takeaway from this trip, which Mr. Sandi (Steve) must have heard 20 times in his Sena headset, was "I LOVE THE WEST!" :heart::heart::heart:

    These two maps show our entire route during which we covered 3,130 miles--according to my bike anyway! :joy: We found there to be a decent amount of measurement error among the six bikes on the ride. And we found even MORE "error" when it came to consulting the multiple GPS systems in the group! I got so I just walked away from those GPS discussions and pulled out Steve's and my paper maps. :p:joy:

    Here's our route to the Sturgis rally. While in the Black Hills for the rally, five of us stayed in a hotel in the former mining town of Lead while the other three camped near the town of Spearfish. Including the riding we did in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, my trip meter read 1,750 when we pulled into our hotel in Lead.

    Tucson to Lead.png

    And this was our route home.

    Lead to Tucson.png

    Up next, Day #1: Tucson, Arizona to Page, Arizona

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  2. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #2 Sandi T, Aug 19, 2023
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2023
    Day #1: Tucson, Arizona to Page, Arizona
    Miles today: 428

    After five months of planning and anticipation, here we all are at the meet-up gas station, ready for our big adventure! Well, all except for one guy who was still in the bathroom.:rolleyes: Our agreed-upon goal was to be on the road at, as Steve put it, 6-0-0. We made it but wouldn't have if we'd waited for the photo for another five minutes. And the adventure (and cat herding) begins.......;)

    P.S. Guess who's on the BMW and who's driving the Prius. :joy:

    IMG_6193.jpeg


    Here's our route for today. This was a bit of a change from the original plan but it took us past Lake Roosevelt which was stunning. This was only the second time Steve and I have ridden past the lake. The last time we did it was about ten years ago and the winds were so severe we thought we'd be blown into the lake!

    Screenshot 2023-08-19 at 1.13.29 PM.png

    After our first gas stop in Globe, 100 miles from Tucson, one of our group said that 100 miles was about the point where he probably would need to think about stopping. He was the oldest in our party at 76. He's a great rider but hasn't been riding much in awhile and has had a number of issues including back, hip, and knee. With the number of miles we did, all of us wound up being pretty happy with this arrangement no matter what our age or physical condition!

    This time around at Lake Roosevelt we had beautiful weather! All of Arizona's "lakes" are reservoirs with accompanying dams. Here are a couple of Google image of Roosevelt. As with other reports I've done, I'll supplement my "story" with some Google Images since we didn't do a lot of stopping by the roadside along the way. :(

    We rode right over this bridge and this was about what the lake looked like on this day. It's a bit like seeing a lake on the moon with nary a tree in sight.
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    Screenshot 2023-08-19 at 1.20.48 PM.png

    Our group had agreed to take backroads as much as possible. And we stuck to that agreement for the most part. Between Lake Roosevelt and Payson we took the Beeline Highway, a road that Steve and I love and have ridden many times. It is wide open with lovely sweeping turns and massive views. Once past Payson we entered the first of 25 national forests we rode through on our trip. I kid you not. Steve looked that up yesterday and did an official count....25!

    About 20 miles past Payson we were winding our way up into the White Mountains when we heard a siren coming up from behind. I relayed to Steve, who was leading the group, that a fire truck was coming up behind us. Traffic up the winding mountain began to crawl, for what reason we had no idea. Imagine our horror when we came upon a crash that had involved two motorcycles. One rider was being put prepped to load into an ambulance and we didn't see another rider. But there were two badly mangled bikes lying in the opposing lane. We never learned what happened to the riders but one of our friends saw a report indicating that a car had swung wide into the oncoming lane, causing the crash. It was quite a sobering sight to see on our first day. :pensive:

    Our next stop was at Cameron Trading Post, a place that we love and have stayed on previous trips. Today we were stopping for a late lunch and to get the heck out of the 110ºF heat! Note the bike parked behind my orange bike. Steve's bike is on the other side of mine. His bike is pretty new to him and he found out quickly that his ignition/fork lock didn't work. There was no way to get it fixed prior to our trip so he enlisted others in the group to park behind him when at all possible. He'd bought a brake rotor lock but didn't fully trust that the lock wouldn't crap out on him so used it rarely.

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    Cameron Trading Post has a wonderful history and we always like to make a stop at this gem when it's on our route.

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    Only Steve, Russell, and I had been here before so it was fun to see our other friends enjoy this lovely place. The restaurant is beautiful and filled with weavings of local Navajo weavers. And the food is excellent and very Navajo.

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    Here's my Green Chili Pork Stew with a side of Navajo Fry Bread. I pretty much always order this when we eat here. It's tried and true...and my favorite!

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    Russell with his Navajo Taco. He managed to eat most all of it!

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    About 3/4 of the way through our lunch the power went out in the restaurant...and the entirety of the Trading Post, Gallery, and hotel! The staff handled it with good humor and patience but we had to pull out our cash since the credit card system was down, too. Fortunately it was Steve's turn to pay for his and my lunch (we trade off) and he loves to carry a big wad of cash. :joy: Next stop--our day's destination of Page, Arizona. This was to be Steve's and my first time in Page!!

    Day #1 -- Tucson, Arizona to Page, Arizona -- continued in my next post
     
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  3. littleade

    littleade The only sane one here
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    Great write up as ever Sandi, I still can't work out how some of you stay so slim with those portions. Looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip

    I would like to tell you what we call those suits over here but I'm much too polite :joy: Did your B*W friend have one of these?

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  4. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Thanks, @littleade! Looking forward to sharing the rest of our trip. :) Speaking of sharing, I’ll have to show a photo of that helmet to our beemer friend. Knowing him, he just might get one! :eek::joy:
     
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  5. Armando Morales

    Armando Morales Noble Member

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    Awesome! Another travel log, can't wait for the continuation
     
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  6. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    @Armando Morales
    Thanks, Armando! I'll try to stay on it day by day. Hope you enjoy the "ride! :):kissing_heart:
     
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  7. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #7 Sandi T, Aug 20, 2023
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2023
    Day #1: Tucson to Page, Arizona continued

    The road between Cameron Trading Post and Page was stunning with steep-walled mesas in brilliant hues of red, orange, and tan under the bluest of skies and the whitest of puffy clouds. It was a stretch of road where I wished I had purchased and set up a GoPro or similar device to try to capture the beauty around me. Granted, it was still hotter 'n snot, but I didn't even seem to mind. This is a Google Image that shows the road we were on as we got closer to Page (again, no photo stops and ops for the weary...). It gives you a good idea of the uniqueness of the lands here minus those puffy white clouds.

    Screenshot 2023-08-19 at 10.41.29 PM.png

    It was still pretty toasty when we arrived in Page in the late afternoon. :sweat: Russell chose our hotel for this evening because he had stayed in the same one last year when he rode to Sturgis solo. It turned out to be a fantastic choice because Glenn Canyon Dam and the Colorado were nearly in our "back yard".

    IMG_6212.PNG


    Page is a town of 8,000 people located about 10 miles from the Arizona--Utah border that is a tourist hub for Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell. It was founded in 1957 when the Glen Canyon Dam was built and housing was needed for workers. This isn't a good map but was the only one the hotel had to offer...and it was free.;) Most all of the water indicated on the map is Lake Powell and the Colorado River. These days the water levels in Lake Powell are precariously--and sadly--low.

    IMG_6210.jpeg

    I took this photo shortly after unpacking the bikes and showering up. I literally walked through the parking lot and across the street from the hotel and this was what I was looking at. That's the dam...and there are those clouds. That's the Glen Canyon Dam but the best views were yet to come when the whole group hiked over a bit farther and down into the canyon.

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    All except one in our group walked down this path which was no small feat. Look carefully to see the adult and child standing on the rim above the river to get a sense of the scale.

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    We saw no signs of graffiti or vandalism, thank goodness, only this warning sign admonishing those who might consider defacing this amazing place.

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    All that hiking made us hungry! I'd tracked down a local brewpub earlier so we figured out how to shuttle those who wanted to go there in the Prius while several others in our group opted for the Denny's next door. I was one of the brewpub folk and glad of it. For some reason, hammering down the rode on a big arse Harley for hours on end makes me want a BEER at days end! :joy::joy::joy: And for some reason, the beer I ordered tasted even better in a place named the Dam Bar & Grille. ;):D

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    Up next, Day #2: Page, Arizona to Provo, Utah
     
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  8. Dawsy

    Dawsy Cumbrian half-wit
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    Welcome back @Sandi T :grinning:
    Yet again, fantastic writing and pictures which drag us into your trip like we were there.:)
    It's always sobering to come across a motorcycle accident, brings home how vulnerable we are but we carry on because it's brilliant!
    Can't wait for next installment!
     
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  9. Markus

    Markus Crème de la Crème
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    @Sandi T: I can't wait for the next parts. Your report is great and the pictures are incredible!;)
     
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  10. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    #10 Sandi T, Aug 20, 2023
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2023
    Day #2: Page, Arizona to Provo, Utah
    Miles today: 362


    Today's ride would take us from just south of the Arizona-Utah border into southern and central Utah. Neither Steve nor I had ever been in this part of the United States until today. And I have to say, I'm already plotting to return! The only part of Utah I've been in prior to this trip was the very southeast corner with its stunning sandstone spires. Today's scenery was very different than Monument Valley but equally stunning in its own way.

    Page to Provo Day 2.png


    If any of you saw my June trip ride report, you may remember that our group has taken to wearing Van's sneakers as our "club colors". ;):joy: There were four people on this trip who didn't do the June trip so we informed them of this new custom. One couple got into the spirit of it right away with one pulling out some old Van's he already had and his spouse buying a new pair. Another couple hemmed and hawed and made it sound as thought it was a silly thing. So we gave them some (relatively) polite shite about wearing boring shoes and sandals. Imagine our surprise when they trotted out these babies.:eek: They totally snookered us and wound up with the Most Flamboyant Van's Award! :joy::joy::joy:
    Here's a pic of the unveiling and shoe switch.

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    And everyone sporting their chose versions. Note: the Van's were leisure wear only with proper riding boots while on the bikes.

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    After breakfast and packing up, we hit the road on U.S. 89 over the Glenn Canyon Dam and into Utah past Lake Powell. Until I saw the map in this picture, I had no idea of the scope of Lake Powell becausethe little bit on our route this morning that we rode by seemed to go on and on while it was just a snippet of the whole thing!

    Screenshot 2023-08-20 at 12.06.00 PM.png

    Lake Powell is massive with nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline. It's not a lake at all, but a reservoir--the second largest reservoir in the United States behind only Lake Mead. Currently it is far below capacity, changing not only the face of the lake but the activities available to visitors. It has historically been a very popular place to rent a houseboat and hang out for a week exploring bays and inlets shaded by massive sandstone walls. I never did that but Steve has done a house boating vacation there with friends about half a dozen times over the years. The marina in the Google image below is now closed because of the low water levels and drought.

    Screenshot 2023-08-20 at 12.01.13 PM.png


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    As we continued riding past Lake Powell and into southern Utah, we began to climb in altitude and the sandstone cliffs turned to more mountainous and green terrain. We passed several signs indicating that we were close to Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument which made me think that we'll need to return to southern Utah to visit that area along with Bryce, Zion, and Canyonlands. So much to see just right here in the Southwest!

    Screenshot 2023-08-20 at 12.17.07 PM.png

    In planning this trip, we were surprised to learn that our beloved U.S. 89, with its many Scenic Byways designations, stretches all the way to Canada! Here's a Google image taken on U.S. 89 which shows you what it looked like where we were riding for much of today's ride.

    Screenshot 2023-08-20 at 12.25.01 PM.png

    Our first gas stop was in a little town called Mt. Carmel. This was clearly a meeting and starting point for tour groups to gather for trips into Bryce and other nearby parks and vacation destinations.

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    Day #2 continued in my next post.........
     
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  11. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Day #2: Page, Arizona to Provo, Utah continued

    I was glad to see someone breaking out and pouring over maps BEFORE we got on the bikes (for a change). ;) The GPS systems didn't seem too happy on this trip (nor did they agree) and that pattern really began at the end of today's ride. I say, "Long live paper maps!" :joy::heart:

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    And, a "truism" seen on my way to the loo in Mt. Carmel. :D

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    Most of the remainder of day's destination of Provo took us idyllic scenery and small towns. The town of Marysville wound up being our next stop. It was unplanned but was right around the time we needed to gas up the bikes and "gas up" our bellies. Marysville has a population of about 400 people and is known for its ATV trails. It also has only one gas station and no high octane gas. :rolleyes:

    Screenshot 2023-08-20 at 12.43.09 PM.png

    Russell saw the Prospector Cafe when we rolled into Marysville so after filling the bikes' tanks we had a terrific lunch of, as the waitress said, "The best burgers in Utah!" I'm not sure about that...but they were definitely delicious!

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    Most of the second half of today's ride took us through more spectacular countryside along the Manti-La Sal National Forest, a 1.4 million acres mountain range. We were continuing on U.S. 89 but definitely noticed that the road quality of 89 in Utah is definitely better than it is in Arizona! In fact, at the end of our trip having ridden in seven western states, we all agreed that Utah was the hands down winner of the Good Road Quality Award. :):heart:

    Utah has the highest proportion of Mormons in the United States and we saw several Mormon temples as we passed through the towns on our route. This particular temple is in the town of Manti. Manti is a small town with a population of about 3,500 with an appearance like many other small towns. So it was a big surprise to round a corner and see this enormous temple up on the hillside! We learned that it is currently closed for renovation.

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    Screenshot 2023-08-20 at 1.36.05 PM.png Screenshot 2023-08-20 at 1.37.07 PM.png

    As I mentioned previously, we had a bit of a "snag" finding our hotel thanks to multiple GPS's at work, none of which seemed to agree and all of which seemed to want us to take the most complicated route to reach our destination. No major issues but we did wind up seeing quite a few residential streets in the process!

    Screenshot 2023-08-20 at 12.34.52 PM.png

    We did learn that finding not only a restaurant that is open on a Sunday evening in Provo but an open restaurant serving alcoholic beverages is a difficult task indeed thanks to the Mormon influence. However, I was highly motivated to find that end-of-the-day beer and a good meal. Persistence prevailed and we found a place at another hotel down the road that worked out great. Here we all are at The Slate in the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. We were transported to the restaurant by Harold who runs a car service. Evidently there aren't Uber and Lyft drivers in Provo--or maybe there aren't on Sundays. Nevertheless, Harold was awesome and I kicked myself for not taking a photo with him in his jaunty driving cap and sport coat. :):heart:

    IMG_6289.jpeg

    Up next, Day #3: Provo, Utah to Jackson, Wyoming
     
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  12. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Thanks, @Dawsy! It's good to be back...although nearly as soon as I'm done with a great trip like this one I'm scheming about where we might plan to go next. :joy: I completely agree with your assessment of coming across a motorcycle accident. Sobering and a clear reminder of our vulnerability but yet we carry on...perhaps even appreciating all the more being able to ride. Glad you're enjoying my report. :heart:
     
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  13. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Thanks, @Markus! I just posted about Day #2 and am now planning to catch up on YOUR travel reports! :kissing_heart:
     
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  14. Dartplayer

    Dartplayer Crème de la Crème

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    Awesome as always @Sandi T
    I am trying to find green chilli in NZ, as I’m sure we would love it:heart_eyes: Taco had me drooling :p
    I made some guacamole today with the new season’s avocado s, so dip for tonight’s drinks :party:

    image.jpg
     
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  15. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Thanks, @Dartplayer! If you can't find green chile in NZ, I wonder if you could grow them?! Or maybe you could have them shipped to you. https://www.hatch-green-chile.com/

    I'll bet you'd love them. I can't think of one person that I know who doesn't!

    Hope you enjoyed your guacamole! I could live on that stuff. What drinks did you pair with your dip??
     
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  16. BonnieCat

    BonnieCat Crème de la Crème

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    Awesome read and trip Sandi. The food photos always make me drool. Looking forward to the next parts.
     
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  17. learningtofly

    learningtofly He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy!
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    As always, @Sandi T, loving the write-up and all the little details therein. Epic reporting yet again.

    I have to admit, I did find myself wondering how you guys were getting on. From YouTube videos I've seen it looks like a somewhat crazy event!
     
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  18. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Thanks, @learningtofly! Yes, those YouTube videos generally do show the "wild side" of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. We saw even less of that this year than we did when we were there in 2019 most likely due to the rainy weather. That does tend to make people not only keep their shirts on but to top them with rain gear! We're a rather sedate bunch so I don't think our YouTube videos would get many hits (if we posted any videos). Now, I'm not sure the same can be said for my two nephews from Minnesota who are in their 20's and rode to Sturgis for the first time ever. ;):joy:
     
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  19. Sandi T

    Sandi T It's ride o'clock somewhere!
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    Day #3: Provo, Utah to Jackson, Wyoming
    Miles today: 323


    Today's theme seemed to be "antlers"! Stick with me through all of my Day #3 posts and you shall see what I mean. ;):joy: Here's today's route.

    Screenshot 2023-08-20 at 2.08.18 PM.png

    Our breakfast conversation was "interesting" in that we had all agreed upon our route plan well in advance (say, like, 4 months!) but Russell was insistent that we take I-15 through the heart of Salt Lake City rather than the originally-planned route up 89/189. I wasn't keen on this revision since we were leaving during Monday morning rush hour. Ah well, we can always go back to see Provo Canyon another time. : unamused:

    A Google image of Salt Lake City. This is a better view than the one we had from the freeway. We wound up riding I-15 for about 90 miles in the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane which is open to motorcyclists. So the good thing was we didn't need to worry about anyone on our left and we could just remain in one lane the whole way while going about 80mph. The bad news was that...we missed Provo Canyon.
    Screenshot 2023-08-20 at 2.41.12 PM.png

    Things changed for the better once we took the exit to Logan, Utah, where Utah State University is located. The city is built on terraces of prehistoric Lake Bonneville at the mouth of Logan Canyon, 4,535 feet (1,382 metres) above sea level, in the Wasatch Range. Route 89 took us directly past the Utah State campus which is beautiful. I told Steve that I might have to go back to graduate school. I've no idea what I'd study but it wouldn't matter. ;) That said, I was told the winters there are brutal so never mind.

    As we left the town of Logan, we entered Logan Canyon. I'd never heard of Logan Canyon prior to this trip but I'd go back in a heartbeat. The road traveled between steep forested canyon walls and along a sparkling river. I'm not sure how long that part of the ride was but I'd estimate about 20 miles or so. Gorgeous! Another Google Image...thank you Google. :)

    Screenshot 2023-08-20 at 2.16.07 PM.png

    We continued on U.S. 89 the whole day, cementing our original thoughts that this is one fantastic American road. As we climbed out of Logan Canyon, we began climbing into the Wasatch Mountain Range and the Uinta-Watsatch-Cache National Forest. This was my first time in the Wasatch Mountains but, as I mentioned already, I'd go back in a heartbeat! :heart: In the summer.....

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    As we started descending and as we rounded a tight curve, both Steve and I (connected by our Senas) exclaimed, "Wow! What's THAT?? Ahead of us was a huge turquoise blue lake! And it came as a complete surprise. Our buddy, Russell, did this route last year solo but hadn't prepared us for the beauty that we'd see today.
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    We descended down to the little lakeside town of Garden City and parked the bikes (and Prius). Russell told is this was Bear Lake and that the area is famous for raspberry milkshakes. So off we went to find ourselves some raspberry milkshakes! We didn't have to look far. This place was right across the street from our parking spot. Later we realized there were many, many places known for their "Famous Raspberry Milkshakes" in Garden City. :):yum

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    The entrance to our milkshake joint choice... :eek:

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    The milkshakes were as good or better than advertised! I made mine a malt. ;)

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    Day #3 continued in my next post.......

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  20. Helmut Visor

    Helmut Visor Only dead fish go with the flow
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    As always I'm enjoying the journey Sandi but what was Russell's rationale for his insistence on I-15?
     
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