A trip report over a year in the making - Running the TAT during a 'pandemic'

desert_steve

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Phelan, CA
Id like to tell you that its taken me over a year to write this trip report because its just THAT GOOD, that once you start reading it you wont be able to stop. Id also like to tell you that the storytelling and professional-grade pictures will have you begging for more. That it'll haunt your dreams (but in a good way of course) and youll be happy to lose sleep just to read the next post, and the next, blah blah blah. But the truth is, life got busy and writing this report wasnt at the top of my priority list. In fact, it dropped off the list entirely and was forgotten about. A lot of people have reached-out over the many months since Ive been back home asking whats taking me so long, when it'll be done, etc. Im sorry it took so long, sometimes you just fall into a rut and time flies by.
So here we are, its kind of ironic that when I ran the TAT (Trans America Trail) the world was in the midst of a pandemic, and then fast-forward to more than a yr later when I finally start writing about it... and Im home sick WITH covid. **Laughs in Covid-y snot and chills/shivers**

The backstory: I first read about the TAT roughly 6 or 7 (or more?) yrs ago. I stumbled across a "ride report" on ADVrider.com and I was hooked. I couldnt stop reading the thread. What a badass adventure, a *mostly* offroad route that takes you literally from coast to coast?! The official starting point was in Cape Hatteras NC, and it would take you winding and zig-zagging across the US, ending up in Port Orford OR. Over the years Ive read countless threads about it, written by riders that would take-on the TAT on bikes ranging from Honda Groms, to big-ol gigantic BMW GS', and everything in between. I knew I had to add my name to the list of riders that attempted this beast... but how? How do these people get enough time off work to run this thing? Do they not have jobs? Independently wealthy? HOW?! While trying to get those answers, I took a lot of notes from various threads on TAT info that might be useful to me if I ever got a chance to run the TAT myself.

So here we go, heres how *I* planned for, and tackled, the TAT.

Ive been lucky enough to have worked for the same company (a utility company that need not be named) for 15+ yrs now. That means that at the time that I did the TAT I had been with them for just over 14yrs and had been saving as much vacation and money as I could (they only allow you to 'bank' so much vacation time) for years up until then, in anticipation of the TAT. From all of the various threads I had read, I estimated that it would take me anywhere from 25-45 days to run the TAT, and a minimum of $5k/each to get us across the country. I say "us" because the original plan was for my dad and I to do the TAT together. Him on his Husky 501, and me on my OG XR650R. Unfortunately, with roughly 6 or so months to go, my dad backed-out. But back to the vacation time and money part - I saved both for YEARS before attempting the TAT.

Ok so Dads out, would anybody else want to run it with me instead? I reached out to a few people that I thought were 'die hard' enough riders that might be up for a ride of this magnitude. As we can all guess, they all declined for one or more reasons. I guess asking people to take 1+ month off from work so they could ride a dualsport 5k+ miles across the country to places none of us have been, whilst costing them thousands of dollars was asking too much. Fun-killers!

Alrighty, I'll do it alone. Not a problem, Ive always been comfortable doing multi-day death valley rides alone, this would be just like that right? The only problem that I could see is that my kickstart-only XRR became the wrong bike to take if I was doing it by myself. Not because its a heavy beast with too much power, but because its got a 'revloc' clutch and can only be kickstarted. The option to bump-start this piggy went out the window long ago. Meaning if I crashed hard enough to break myself well enough, I wouldnt be able to start the big red pig and would be effed. Ok so now my trip budgets screwed because I need to find a RELIABLE bike thats electric start. I told myself Id buy a new-to-me bike, run the TAT, and sell it at the end. What a great plan, that shouldnt cost too much by the time you factor everything into the equation and the dust settles. Shouldnt be too hard, its not like Covid made some insanely priced "toy" market happen overnight right? I was shitting my pants looking at clapped-out 2005 DRZ's with 20k miles on them being listed for $8k. WTF?!? After searching high and low for months, I came across a 2019 WR250R about 45min from my house that only had 383 miles on it, and the seller wanted $5.5k. Seemed reasonable when compared to the 15+ yr/o bikes that were being listed for a similar price, so I went and checked it out. For those of you that arent big "bike enthusiasts", the WR250R was Yamahas version of an anvil on stilts. They made no power, had the seat height and dry weight of a clydesdale, and the bore was the same as the stroke. They were known for living at 10k+ RPM for hours on end with zero problems, and there were rumors of them living to see 50k miles without ever needing to be opened up. I brought it home. Time until departure: roughly 3 months.

Meet 'Project Blue Balls' (sometimes referred to as PBB)20210516_084942_resized.jpg
Now, when I brought PBB home the bike was almost completely stock. I failed you all because I dont have a picture of that. In the above pic, Ive already got an IMS 4.7g tank, Cycra handguards, some cheap-o mirror, a 12o'clock labs tail tidy, and a sandman case saver on it already. It came with that skidplate, the same skidplate that would drive me insane for most of the trip as it vibrated its way across the country. Here in this pic also you can see the GiantLoop "mototrekk panniers" that I initially planned on using to hold all of my gear. In this pic I was about to head out for an overnight run on the Mojave Rd for a quick gear shakedown. Thankfully I did, as it made me realize the mototrekks werent going to survive (so I switched to the ol trusty GiantLoop coyote bag), and while I initially thought the stock tires would work for my trip, I dumped them in favor of a dunlop 606 rear, and motoz rallZ (with HD tubes) before I left for the TAT. Time left before TAT departure after this shakedown: 2.5 weeks.

The astute reader will notice the stock seat of the WR has been shaved down. The gentleman that I bought it from did that to lower the seat height, but unfortunately seat concepts was MONTHS out on new seat orders and a new one wouldnt arrive before I left. My ass was about to be in misery. As luck would have it though, while perusing FB marketplace a brand new seat concepts "comfort low" seat for the WR popped up for sale brand new. I was able to get it 2 days before my departure date. Heres some last minute prep going down on the bike while a neighbor stopped by to help (he/she did that all on their own).20210514_173130_resized.jpg
 
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desert_steve

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Location
Phelan, CA
Heres what some of my gear looked like laid-out on the floor, including what I'd be wearing, what I'd be carrying in my vest, and what the bike looked like loaded down. Wheelie mode engaged!20210527_164814.jpg20210527_164823.jpg20210527_164827.jpg20210527_164833.jpg20210527_190107.jpg

Some things that I havent yet covered: I had GPS tracks for the TAT that I had purchased online from the guy that "mapped/created" the TAT, loaded up into my GPS (just an old phone that doesnt have cell service that I downloaded a couple of different mapping apps onto - in case one of the apps had a problem or something, I wanted some redundancy). I also carried the GPS files on my main/primary phone, as well as on an 8" tablet that I carried to use to watch movies and TV shows on (I normally need noise to fall asleep). Now almost EVERYBODY starts the TAT on the east coast, and rides to the west coast. I hadnt quite figured that mundane detail out, but in the end, I didnt care what end I started on as long as I started w/in a certain date range. Leave too early, and youre not going to make it through the mountain passes in CO due to snow. Leave too late, and youre going to sweat, burn, and die everywhere else. Ive always been a husky guy (as in a little butterball, not brand enthusiast), so the thought of riding in cold weather and potentially even snow sounded WAAAAAAY better than sweating my ass off across the country, so I opted to chance hitting snow instead of vice-versa.

Everything fell into to place about a month or 2 before I wanted to leave/start the TAT, when at a friends wedding (in April) I happened to ask my friend Adam (of Clean-Dezert fame) when he'd be visiting his family up in eastern-ish OR (why talk about the wedding we're all attending, RIP dude, youre DONE). When Adam answered that he'd be heading up there for Memorial day weekend the little lightbulb went off in my head!!! I quickly asked if he planned on driving his truck, or taking his wifes car - and when he answered "the truck", a grinch-like smile came over my face. Most excellent. I then enquired if I could hitch a ride, and explained what my loose plan was, and before the end of the night the logistics and firm departure date of my TAT journey were figured and complete!

The plan for day one of my TAT journey was to be something like this: meet up with Adam at the McDonalds off the 5fwy in Gorman. That wouldnt put him out of his way at all, and it would save me the hassle of riding down to his house in SOUTHERN-Southern Ca in the wee hrs of the morning, or worse yet, the day before, and hitch a ride with him up to northern CA until we'd separate and head in our own directions. We linked-up a few weeks prior and I got him to take my hitch rack home with him, that way when we met up I could just toss my bike on there and we'd be good to go. It worked out perfectly!



- May 28th, 2021-
At 0400 my alarm went off. It didnt matter, I wasnt asleep anyways. I laid in bed and went over everything I could think of in anticipation of being absent from my house for an entire month (or more). I laid in bed for a few minutes as my head spun over hundreds of things. The fastest I had ever heard of the TAT being ran was 17 days. That guy was hauling some major ass and while I tip my hat to him, I wanted to enjoy the scenery a little more than that. On that same note I read reports where guys would just ride so far in a month, throw their bikes in a local storage unit, then the following year come back to their bikes and see how far theyd make it in another month. I didnt want to go quite that slow either, I needed something in between. What if I crashed and got super messed up? I mean, Im a pretty shitty rider and I crash a lot, but luckily I never get really hurt *knock on wood*. What if all of my lifes crashes were being saved-up for some badass middle of nowhere, Im-going-to-die-alone-while-I-hear-banjos-closing-in-on-me type of injury!? I had done too much planning and spent too much money to back-out now. It wasnt that I was too afraid to start, its that Im too much of a cheap-ass to see all of that money go to waste. I got up, gear'd up, and sent Adam a text msg with my ETA to the meeting spot. I rolled project blue balls out of the garage, fired him up, and rode away from my house into the desert night with my over-priced LED upgraded headlight bulb illuminating the way in front of me. "F@CK this bikes slow lol!" I thought as I hit the pavement and starting wringing it out through the gears. A quick stop at the bank for some cash and I was on my way across the high desert to meet Adam in Gorman. A couple of hours and a ton of Antelope Valley wind later and I made it to McDonalds. I beat Adam by a few minutes and had enough time to hit the bathroom before he showed up. We got some breakfast ordered up, scarfed it down, and went outside to load my over-burdened Yamaha onto the hitchrack that was attached to his truck before hitting the I-5. This was happening!20210528_074616.jpgMore to follow (hopefully) tomorrow.
 
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desert_steve

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The 3 of us (Adam, his daughter, and I) slowly headed north on the I-5. We all give Adam shit for being old and driving slow, and Im here to double-down on that. If he wouldve driven any slower I was going to have to ask for more vacation time to finish the TAT.
We finally made it to Weed CA (where Adam and I would be splitting up and heading our own directions. Him heading northeast into OR via the 97, and me continuing on the I-5 and the stupid gigantic curve it makes as it goes up into OR, then back down into CA in order for me to make it to the coast) at about 4pm.
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We got the bike pulled off the hitch rack, I gear'd up again, and we shook hands before parting ways. HOLY SHIT, THIS THINGS REALLY STARTING NOW. I headed over to the closest gas station and topped-off the mighty WR before jumping onto the I-5 N. Now, when I said that I thought the WR was slow in my last post, I truly meant it. But it became so overly clear on that section of the I-5 when I had semi trucks crawling up my ass as I attempted to hold 65mph on the interstate while the little blue bike under me screamed and begged for mercy. I had never been to that part of the state and while I wasnt having a particularly good time on the interstate because I feared for for my life, I couldnt help but notice some of the absolutely beautiful scenery I was passing. Unfortunately there really wasnt a "straight shot" to get to the CA coast from Weed, so I got to slog along the interstate (and then hwy 199) for HOURS before making it to Crescent City CA, where the plan was to just head north along the coast and enjoy the views. While it was a decent plan IMO, it took so long on pavement that by the time I made it to Crescent City it was dark. No worries though, I had spent some time online scouting out possible locations to 'stealth camp' if need-be.
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Stealth camping was going to be my not-so-secret weapon for my TAT run in an attempt to keep costs down. Hotels/motels are pricey, and most camp grounds charge $20+/night these days. But setting up a tent in some off-the-beaten-path location and not drawing attention to myself was cheap, free actually as long as I didnt get caught, and I LOVE the sound of FREE. Ill point out now that Im not some slob that tosses my trash on the ground and makes huge messes. I typically try to live by the 'leave it better than you found it' mantra, and stealth camping was to be no different.
Ok so back to steath camping. It was roughly 9 or 10pm by the time I hit the OR border.
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I took my obligatory 'welcome to OR' pic (the plan was to get a pic at every one of those signs I came across) and started hitting my double-secret, pre-scouted stealth camping locations. Apparently I did a piss-poor job because the 1st two I had scoped out were behind fences. I grabbed gas at a gas station and asked a sheriff that happened to be there if he could recommend a spot to throw a tent down for the night. He literally pointed to the bushes next to the gas station that already had some homeless peoples camps setup there as well. I think he was serious. Not wanting to paint ALL homeless people with a broad brush, but I had some serious concerns regarding my stuff still being there in the morning if I chose to camp there. I jumped on my phone and checked my google mapping app. A few miles north I found a wooded area that sat behind some sort of community college and figured Id give it a shot. Once I got to the back of the parking lot there was a small opening to the woods, and I was tired enough at this point that I didnt care if I was camping in someones back yard. I headed through the small opening, made a left turn on a narrow trail, and headed uphill until the trail leveled-out. I did an awkward 'circle' with the bike, checking if I could see any reason why I shouldnt camp there (I didnt), and shut PBB down for the night. Having never been in OR before, I noticed that the woods kind of reminded me of the movie "E.T.", or "The Goonies". Wow, Im a nerd. I busted out my camping gear and began setting up my tent. I noticed the ground was moving all around me. Strange, it doesnt do that back home. WTF are those moving green sticks?!?!20210528_223819.jpg
We have slugs in So Cal. Ive seen them. Ive touched them. Theyre harmless. This slug was as long as my hand! I dont know shit about hand-sized Oregon slugs, but I knew I didnt want to take any chances in case it had teeth and liked human flesh. I left the slugs alone and finished setting up my camp. I crawled into my sleeping bag and sent a couple messages on my "In Reach" device letting people know that I had made my camp location for the night. I knocked-out pretty quick and slept like a log. The 1st day of my TAT trip was over and I wasnt even to the official start point yet. Pic of night 1 camp.
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desert_steve

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- 5/29/21 - I woke up at 0700, quickly broke camp, and tried to sneak out of my camp location in case the community college had some issues with me camping there. I popped out of the woods and saw a handful of older people using the parking lot for some walking/exercises. I waved to them, they waved back, I dont think they cared that I was there at all. I pointed the bike back towards the town that I had ridden through the night before (Brookings OR) so I could grab an egg mcmuffin before continuing north towards Port Orford. It was cold and foggy and water beaded across my helmet as I cruised back to McDonalds. The town was setting up for a big memorial day parade and there were people EVERYWHERE. Fortunately since Covid was happening, the McDs was drive-through only and the line was close to 10 cars deep. My fatass didnt need an egg mcmuffin that bad, so I pointed PBB north and stopped at a few of the beaches just to get a look at the OR coast as I worked my way north.
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I made it into Port Orford about 11am or so and grabbed lunch at the Portside Cafe. The Chicken fried steak was pretty good and after eating everything I headed down to the beach to dip my toes in the Pacific to signify my official START.
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So when I got gas the night before, it was nothing new or different than any other time that I had gotten gas. However, Port Orford was different, it was "full service". What is that you ask? Well, as the term implies, the gas station (or a gas station attendant) does everything for you as you sit in you car. Different, but ok I guess. Well on a motorcycle its not exactly full service. You pull up, you hand them your card (or cash), they swipe the card for you, then ask you what grade of fuel you want. Well the mighty project blue balls requires 91 octane to keep his fire breathing powerplant running at peak performance. I told the attendant at this particular gas station "91", and he quickly pressed the button for 91... then handed me the gas nozzle. Huh? This is getting gas like normal, but with extra steps! I topped-off my tank and awkwardly handed the nozzle back to the attendant. I asked him if it was customary for motorcycle folk to tip him, and he just laughed and said "not really. Its not quite the same for motorcycles as it is cars". Cool, I just saved $.25! If he only knew how much I was going to tip him he wouldve changed his tune... sucker!

Lunch was over, pictures of the coast/start were taken, bike was topped-off. I guess I was out of excuses to keep me from starting my TAT. I fired-up my GPS aaaaaaaaand - F@CK. Apparently I was missing a little piece of the map that I needed. Only a small part, the STATE OF OREGON. I searched high and low on my phone, checked the emails from the TAT godfather that I bought the maps/files from, etc. Nope, zero, nada. Not there. Well, shit. How can I run the official TAT if I dont know where Im going? I emailed the TAT godfather asking for him to resend the missing portion of the map. Reached-out to Ryan Rouse to see if he could find something online for me, and started to slightly panic a little. Then it hit me: I need to make it to NORTH CAROLINA, who gives a shit how I get there as long as I make it *MY* ride, and hit a few of the things that I knew I wanted to see along the way. Done. I knew a few of the roads that I needed to take to start heading east, and just started winging it.

I eventually came to a spot where a poor dude was trying to jumpstart his truck with a tractor (or vice versa). I stopped to see if he needed a hand and thats when he pointed-out my devastatingly handsome looks. Ok thats not what he said. Instead he mentioned how he was the caretaker for some rich guys middle of BFE vacation property and asked if Id like a tour. Now, Ive seen a lot of shows and listened to a lot of podcasts that describe people being kidnapped by someone doing/saying exactly what this guy said. Sooo, I told him "sure!". Luckily for me the guy was out of chloroform or something, because he literally just gave me a tour of a massive piece of propery in the middle of the OR forest that was owned by Rick Harris of the show 'Pawnstars'. I took a ton of pictures of the guys place/grounds, but out of respect for him (he wasnt there and I didnt meet him) Ill only post a few of them up and leave him his privacy.
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The place was badass. Totally off-grid, generated power via a combo of hydroelectric generation and solar power. Really neat place. And not that Im much of a fan of the show but there was a lot of stuff that had been on the show there at the property. After a couple of hours of an incredible 'right place-right time' tour, I left before the caretaker was wearing my skin like in that one movie with the guy that has that funny accent and toys with that FBI agent chick. You know the one. Hello Clarice.

The rest of the day went by pretty uneventfully, I just cruised up and down forest roads that winded their way along the mountains, always trying to make sure I was headed in an eastern-y direction. As the sun was starting to go down I felt that I hadnt gone very far since I left Port Orford. I consulted my GPS and confirmed my fears: Riding in the mountains is stupid. I'd travel 20+ miles, but only actually make it 8 miles towards an eastern direction. The Mountains were HUGE, and I didnt like them. Zig-zagging UP and DOWN the mountains as you made your way up and over them was time consuming and I didnt really care for the western part of OR so far. I started looking for a place to camp and came into a small campsite in the middle of nowhere. Perfect, Ill just snag a spot in there. NOPE, it was full. I headed down a dirt road that took me through a ranchers property, over a cattle gate (I had never seen a cattle gate like this one before, it "rocked" as you went over it) that popped up when I was halfway over it, hitting the skidplate hardware on the bottom of the bike hard enough to mushroom the head of one of the Allen mounting bolts. That sucks. Oh well, I made it to the end of that dirt road and over to a spot right next to the Rogue river where I set up camp for the night.
20210529_195132.jpgP5290073.JPG In the sleeping bag and knocked-out by 9pm.
 
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desert_steve

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Phelan, CA
- 5/30/21 -
Some annoying ass bird woke me up at 0430, but luckily it flew away to bother some other poor suckers and I was able to sleep-in until 0540. I foolishly left my tents rainfly off the night before and woke up to EVERYTHING being sopping wet. This isnt something I have to consider when camping back home unless its going to rain. I dried everything off to the best of my abilities and broke camp. I found a beat-to-hell "paved" road that was worse than any dirt forest roads I had been on the day before, and took that road towards civilization. I didnt want to get stuck spending DAYS in Oregon when I only had a limited number of days total for this whole trip, and I had zero interest in seeing more steep mountains and pine trees. I was looking forward to the eastern part of OR, and I really wanted to make it to Crater Lake today so I could check that off my list. I jammed on this paved road20210530_092524.jpg
(I dont understand the science behind it, but somehow this D8 and my WR weighed the same amount of poundage)
until it eventually took me into Grants Pass. I rode through Grants Pass a couple days earlier when trying to make the coast, and like a true So Cal native I was able to find the 'In n Out' burger just by following my nose. I stopped at the Grants Pass In n Out for a couple (thats right, a couple, as in TWO) double doubles with a chocolate shake, and topped-off with gas and snacks before continuing on towards Crater Lake.
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I cruised along whatever road I found that took me towards Crater lake (I didnt write that detail down in my notes, sorry) and stopped to check out the Rogue river Gorge. Pretty neat spot, the sheer power of water is amazing!20210530_140700.jpg
I continued on to Crater Lake. Now remember, Covids in full-swing and surely everyones terrified to go outside and catch it. Im sure Ill have the whole place to myself. Uhh, no. I rounded a curve in the road to find a line of cars waiting to make the turn towards the park. FML. 20210530_145340.jpg
I tried bullshitting with the fellow Californians in the purple Accord in front of me but in typical fashion they didnt speak English. No worries. I eventually made it to the gate where I was charged $30 to enter the park, then quickly went straight to the tourist shop to buy trinkets and junk to send back home. $30+ poorer for some smashed pennies and other 'small' things that I could easily pack-up and carry, I headed out into the PACKED park to try to get some decent pictures of this beautiful place.20210530_182512.jpg20210530_174055.jpg
I happened to get my ass chewed off by a grumpy ranger who said I couldnt park my massive motorcycle at the end of the row of cars, and that instead I had to be that A-hole that takes up an entire precious parking space with my tiny motorcycle and piss off the cagers. While talking to said grumpy ranger though, he pointed-out that I shouldve only been charged $25 instead of $30 to enter the park. Hey, $5 is $5, and I wanted my $5! He told me to hit the shack on the way out of the park and theyd fix it for me. Cool. Well, I hit the guard shack on my way out of the park, but there wasnt anybody there. Damn!20210530_185419.jpg
My next scheduled stop was the town of Bend OR. I had recently watched a documentary on Netflix about the "last Blockbuster" and given that I spent a lot of my youth in those awesome blue and yellow stores, I sure as hell wanted to pay homage to it! Oh, and one of the bags I was carrying was made by 'Giantloop' and it had a defect right out of the box. GL was also located in Bend and I could get that taken care of while I was there too... priorities though - BLOCKBUSTER!

I headed north out of Crater Lake NP and started heading in a northeastern direction towards Bend. Every damn road I went down would go so far before running into a big hole full of water and I was getting tired of having to turn around every mile or 2.20210530_191954.jpg
The sun was starting to go down and I could tell I was riding stupidly out of frustration. Plus I kept hearing a metal-y tinging sound that was starting to concern me. I figured I should shut it down for the night and get some sleep. I found a spot off the beaten path where other people had obviously camped before and set my tent up. I figured I could make it into Bend the next day, grab a hotel, shower, do laundry, all that good stuff.20210530_201221.jpg
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desert_steve

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Phelan, CA
- 5/31/21 -
I slept-in and laid in my tent for a while. I had cell service where I was at and made a few phone calls. I didnt have a whole lot planned for this day except make it into Bend OR and grab a hotel room. It was Memorial Day and if figured most everywhere I'd go would be a zoo. I started calling random hotels in Bend and started asking a series of questions that would be my standard hotel questions for the remainder of the trip.
"Hello, do you happen to have a washer/dryer on site that customers can use, and if so, whats the cash price for your cheapest non-smoking room?". Winner winner, chicken dinner, the "Old Mill & Suites" in Bend had the best price out of the handful of places I called. I packed-up camp and started heading northeast until I hit hwy 97 right outside of La Pine OR. Now, remember old man Adam that gave me a ride up to Weed CA? Well he was visiting family in the La Pine area, and like a good friend I remembered that. So, when I got into La Pine I sent a text in our group chat just to let the other guys know what the area was like.20210531_125709.jpg
[Obviously Im only talking about Adam, not the members of our military branches that earned their purple hearts. Ive got nothing but respect for them. Adam, not so much]
I continued North on the 97, making a mental note that the metal-y sound from yesterday was gone, and just kept plugging away until making it into Bend. The blockbuster and GiantLoop were both closed so I just went straight to the hotel and got checked-in. I unloaded the gear off the bike and the hotel workers were kind enough to let me wash the bike and gear off with their garden hose.20210601_095819.jpg
While everything was drying I took my 1st shower in 4ish days and put on some shorts and flip flops - AHHHHHHH. I stepped outside, grabbed my tool pouch off the bike, and started taking a good look at my steel horse. Everything was looking good until I tried taking the skidplate off. That cattle guard from a couple days ago really boogered up one of the bolt heads and was making the simple job of taking the skidplate off a total PITA. Using my Leatherman I was able to hammer a small allen socket into the bolt head and get the bolt out, dropping the skidplate. At first I tried to figure out what made this neat pattern/shape in the bottom of the skid plate between the lower frame rails. Whatever was riding around in there left an off mark... almost like a cartoon xmas tree. Sadly it took me a minute to figure out that the neat shape/pattern/xmas tree I was looking at was left there by a bolt. A bolt, ok. A bolt from... where? I started looking around to find a bolt hole with no bolt, and after 20 or 30 seconds of intense searching, the smell of mexican food from the restaurant down the street distracted me. Curse you mexican food, one of my many weaknesses!!! I quickly decided that food was more important than the mechanical security of the motorcycle that I planned on riding across the country, so I walked down the street for a badass carne asada burrito and a massive sprite and brought them back to the room. Food and drink punished, I went back outside to find this mythical bolt hole. I found it almost instantly - PBB's missing a bolt for the water pump cover. Now normally Id be pretty concerned by this, but the rest of the bolts were tight, and there were 2 shops in Bend that *should* have a bolt that would work that I'd try the following day. Crisis averted, I put the skid plate on and watched "The Goonies" on TV until I fell asleep.

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desert_steve

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Phelan, CA
- 6/1/21 -
I woke up around 0700 and packed the bike up. Giant loop was only about 10 minutes down the road and they opened at 0800. I made it to their shop right at 0800 and they exchanged my defective bag out for one that had all of its straps attached the correct way. Very stand-up guys and just part of the reason that Ive been using their products for last 6+ yrs that Ive been doing "adventure" types of rides. They also let me ship some unused gear home from their shop. I sent home a camp chair, some clothes, and some other misc stuff to the tune of nearly 8lbs of junk that I no longer had to carry. While there, the TAT godfather sent me the missing map that I needed, and I got that loaded-up into my GPS. Oddly enough the TAT goes right through La Pine as it heads east/west.
I left GL and went down the street to the Yamaha dealer where I bought a bolt to replace my missing water pump bolt for $2, then asked the guy in service for a drop of blue loctite before putting that bolt in its proper home. I then headed to the local post office to drop off some post cards for the family/friends, and headed to THE LAST BLOCKBUSTER. When I got there I was able to snag a parking spot right up front.20210601_115422.jpg
This place was awesome. There were a handful of other nerds there taking pictures and geeking-out about how much of their youth was spent at their local blockbusters, etc.20210601_115443.jpg
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I spent about an hour checking the place out, it was exactly like I remembered it, but with modern movies on the shelves. I bought some more tourist-y junk, and made plans to meet up with Adam in La Pine since I was headed south to pick up the TAT.

We met up at a local pizza place and Adam was kind enough to buy me lunch. 20210601_124509.jpg
I managed to pawn my blockbuster swag off on Adam to take home for me and keep the mighty WR as light as possible for an afternoon of slaying the eastern OR trails. We parted ways and I headed east through the middle of nowhere. The open-ness and vegetation of the area reminded me of the Owens valley back home, and everywhere I looked I found myself loving the scenery. Now THIS was the type of visual candy I was hoping to see on this trip. I knew I wouldnt be too impressed with the mountains and the forest, but the desert-esque landscape was (is) what I wanted get lost in. 20210601_163524.jpg
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I rode through the small town of Prineville OR, grabbed gas and topped-off my camelbak at the gas station before heading off into the mountains. As the sun started to get lower in the sky, the sun reflected off a small pond that I was passing and I decided to make camp right there. That would prove to be a bad move as the mosquitoes were out IN FORCE. I set my tent up with one hand as I swatted at the mosquitoes with the other. While it was a pretty spot and a rad sunset, Id be listening to the high-pitched whine of flying mosquitoes all night long, and randomly turning on my flashlight throughout the night to make sure they didnt somehow make it into my tent.
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The above pic was taken less than 30 seconds after getting into the tent. At one point in the night there were easily 50+ of those blood-sucking bastards on this part of the tent.
 

desert_steve

Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2022
Messages
46
Location
Phelan, CA
- 6/2/21 -
My beauty sleep was disturbed several times throughout the night as a number of logging trucks made their way down the dirt road that I was camped by. I finally got up at 0705 and started breaking camp with one hand again as the mosquitoes still wanted a piece of my sexy ass. I crudely packed my stuff enough to get down the road a few miles before I stopped in a safe(r) area to repack a few items WITHOUT the mosquitoes hindering my progress. As I rode through the backroads I came across more cows, a ton of turkeys, some deer, and came across 2 guys running graders down the road. They made sure to stop me to let me know that the road might be soft where theyve already graded. I thought that was nice, they apparently saw the CA license plate and automatically assumed I was a complete moron (they might actually be 100% right).P6020194.JPG
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I stopped in the small town of Mt Vernon to grab gas, top off my camelbak, and grab lunch. I had a delicious burger at the Silver Spur then jumped back on the bike and out of town. Made it to a closed fire lookout tower and had to see if it was open (spoilers, it wasnt)20210602_142524.jpg20210602_143046.jpg
Every now and then as I was riding I could hear a rattle-y sound that I was hoping was just a rock in the skid plate and not something more serious like another self-ejecting bolt. I stopped a couple of times to investigate but could never see anything that was cause for concern. This rattle-y sound would continue to drive me insane for a LOOOONG time. I continued making my way towards the Malheur Forest and into some winding hill-y area. It was really pretty and the road I was on was fun to just cruise and slide around on. I came across a nice little lake that made me wish I had packed a small fishing pole P6020227.JPG
I came around a turn and there in the road was my first rattlesnake of the tripP6020230.JPG
He didnt seem to care that I was there, but he also didnt appear to want to hang out either. I let him head off on his way and kept heading east. It was starting to get late in the day so a place to camp started crossing my mind. I REALLY wanted to make it into Idaho today, I felt I had spent enough time in OR but I also wanted to avoid riding at night if possible (Im not the best night rider). If I camped tonight that would be 5 nights out of roughly 30 (that I figured it would take to complete the TAT) spent in OR alone, and I still had 12 states to get through/to. The math wasnt on my side here. P6020237.JPG
I stopped to consult the GPS and there didnt really seem to be any areas coming up that were better than the one I was already stopped at. I setup camp next to an old front end loader and hoped nobody would be able to see me from the road (not the road visible in the pic, Im not quite THAT stupid)... I only needed to borrow that small patch of dirt for 10hrs or so and then Id be on my way.20210602_202707.jpg
 

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desert_steve

Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2022
Messages
46
Location
Phelan, CA
- 6/3/21 -
I caught the sunrise over the valley that I was camped at (and overlooking), pretty cool sight to see and something that I dont get to do nearly enough. It took less than 15 minutes to make it into the next town, grab gas, top-off the camelbak, and make it into ID.20210603_091351.jpg
I headed through the small town on my way to Nampa to meet-up with an old coworker from So Cal that moved up to ID. I passed this hillside that was swiss-cheesed out with hundreds of holes with birds flying all over the place (you cant really see them in the pic)20210603_085259.jpg
On my way through Boise I stopped to grab some lunch. Once again due to covid only 1 place would let me sit down inside to eat (and it was a Carls Jr). Worth noting: 1) there was a ton of traffic in Boise 2) Splitting lanes is NOT legal in ID. I met up with my coworker and stopped at a military museum down the road from his work. Place was badass! P6030292.JPG20210603_104924.jpg
I continued on my way and have to admit, I was a little disappointed in ID so far. I had seen some amazing pics in other peoples ride reports, but now that I was there I was starting to wonder where I went wrong. The place was flat AF. The TAT route was just taking me down dirt roads that followed the FWY. For that matter, Id rather jump on the FWY and save some time. I finally got frustrated with the map and hit the FWY, stopping only to check out some of the tourist-y spots and grab gas. It was surprisingly hot and I was sucking down water like it was going out of style. By the last gas stop, I was sucking down as much water as the bike was gas. What I ended up finding out later is that theres a "north" route through ID, and a "south" route through ID. Apparently the scenic and more superior route to take is the NORTH route. Sadly, I had chosen the SOUTH route. Oh well, next time. 20210603_172312.jpg20210603_180544.jpg20210603_182500.jpg20210603_182450.jpg20210603_184811.jpgP6030339.JPG
By this time I was done with ID and just wanted to make it to the next inspiring sight. I hit the FWY for about an hr until I got to the next spot where the TAT and my current location crossed paths. I headed off into the hills until I found a spot that I could make camp. With the sun setting I jumped in my tent and quickly fell asleep once again. Its kind of hard to tell, but the wind on top of this hill was howling. While it was a cool little spot, I was worried that being this close to this wildlife guzzler thingy mightve been a bad idea. Either nothing big and scary came through, or if it did, I slept right on through it. Oh, also worth noting is that where I was camped was actually in UT. Not only did I FINALLY make it out of OR, but I also clicked-off 2 more states! 20210604_060215.jpgP6040353.JPG
 

desert_steve

Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2022
Messages
46
Location
Phelan, CA
- 6/4/21 -
I was woken up multiple times throughout the night to my tent getting its ass handed to it by the wind. More than a few times I opened my eyes in the middle of the night to see my tent being smashed down and almost touching my face. I finally got up and broke camp by 0715 (0615 back home time). I was riding through valley after valley of HUGE farmers fields20210604_074828.jpg
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I meandered through rolling valley after rolling valley until I came across a Northrup Grumman facility. Ive always found military history and technology interesting so seeing the NG facility and their various signs intrigued me to say the least. What did they do there? Was there some secret MASSIVE underground facility here? Probably.

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Their facility was HUGE and as I rode down various roads I kept coming across fence line after fence line. In some spots there was just a simple gate that I couldve easily squeezed past with the bike and done some serious snooping - but Im a chickenshit and didnt want to get arrested and ruin my TAT run.

Now I should point out that the TAT maps that I bought took a lot of the guessing and "danger" out of things. They point-out gas stations along the way, telling you mileage from one gas station to the other, etc. They even point out food and hotels on the map as you go. Up until this point I hadnt had any gas-scare-type issues, usually only grabbing 1 or 2 gallons of gas at each stop. Well, not this time. The next scheduled gas station I came across was CLOSED (or maybe it was out of gas, I dont remember). I quickly checked my GPS and found out that was the only gas station in that little town. No worries, I should be able to easily make it to the next gas stop in a couple of hours, PBB was getting impressive mileage to say the least, so WE PUSHED ON.
I was cruising along, rolling through various valleys and sprawling fields. I saw a rancher rounding-up some giant cows P6040391.JPGand made it to the very northern part of the great salt lake. This area was D-E-A-D. There was nothing around for as far as the eye could see.20210604_103236.jpg
As I cruised down the dirt road I noticed a "light" on the dash of the WR was lit-up. Upon a closer look I noticed it was the low gas light. Now at 1st I didnt think anything of it. After all, I had put the MUCH bigger (than stock) 4.7g tank on the bike, so now the low fuel light would come on when the bike "thought" it had a low tank, but in reality I'd still have somewhere around 2.5g or so of gas in the tank still. I swear, as the miles racked up, that little orange light would get brighter and Brighter. I made it to a paved road and contemplated my options. Option 1, I cross the paved road and continue down the dirt road until I run out of gas, leaving me to be eaten by hills have eyes people by nightfall. OR, jump on the paved road and take that towards the next town that (according to the GPS) had a gas station. I figured I had a better chance of coming across other humans on the paved road, so I jumped on pavement and made a left towards Montello Nv.P6040411.JPG
At this point the gas light had been on for quite a while and I had only passed one other car going the opposite direction. I came across the welcome to Nevada sign and stopped for the obligatory pic 20210604_121021.jpgP6040417.JPG
Id be lying if I said I wasnt starting to panic a little bit as the WR started sputtering when the trip meter was showing 295.5mi on it. Holy shit, the gas light came on somewhere around 215mi and now Im going to run out of gas 80 miles later after riding conservatively for the last couple of hours. The GPS showed the bustling metropolis of Montello just a couple more miles down the road, COME ON PROJECT BLUE BALLS WE'RE ALMOST THERE!
I pulled up to the only gas station in that tiny town with 299.4mi on the trip meter. We made it! Just over $20 and 4.5g of gas later and the tank was filled back up.

20210604_122416.jpg20210604_122817.jpg20210604_123220.jpg20210604_131807.jpgThe weather was getting cloudy and it looked like it was going to rain, so I hung out for a little while and ate a snickers and downed some more water. A couple on a Harley came cruising up and we BS'd for a while. Turns out they were from Mammoth Ca, small world. We parted ways and I consulted the map to see where I needed to go to meet back up with the TAT.

The quickest way to get back to the TAT was over the giant mountain range just out of view of the above pic. With a full tank of gas and false sense of security, I pointed PBB straight towards the mountain range and started charging it. After a few miles I found myself on a little dirt road that had a bunch of cattle fences that was taking me towards the saddle of the mountain. The weather was perfect and the views were incredible. It was easily one of the neatest spots I had been to yet.20210604_134344.jpg20210604_150132.jpg
Up and over the mountain range and back on the TAT, the rest of the road into the next town was fairly uneventful. I made it into Wendover UT/NV by early afternoon and decided it was time for another hotel room and laundry - I was really living it up! I laid on a random sidewalk in town like a hobo as I looked for a cheap room, then headed to the local bed-bug-inn to treat myself to some luxury. The place was an absolute dive and I think they were running a chop shop in the back of the parking lot. I ordered up a pizza and salad for dinner and rolled the bike into the room to make sure it didnt accidentally wander off in the middle of the night. It was a fun day and I kept laughing at the potential 'running out of gas' situation from earlier. I was having a great time!20210604_164357.jpg20210604_181403.jpg20210604_215229.jpg
 
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desert_steve

Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2022
Messages
46
Location
Phelan, CA
- 6/5/21 -
I woke up to my 0700 alarm and punished some leftover pizza and sprite for breakfast - I could make questionable choices like that since Im supposedly an adult at this age (or so I had been told). I took a quick look around outside of the room before rolling the bike back outside and loading all of my gear up. I headed to the truck stop up the road to top-off the tank and my camelbak, then jumped back on the TAT just outside of town. 20210605_121938.jpg
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I cruised along the open desert-esque terrain, enjoying every mile as it reminded me somewhat of home, stopping to take pictures of whatever I found interesting. After a bit I ended up riding along a short portion of the old pony express. Pretty rad to think about the guys that were jamming across the united states on horseback to deliver some mail, and fast-forward roughly 160 years later and there I was, scootin' across the same open desert they were!
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I stopped A LOT this this day just to read the numerous plaques that I came across.
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I ended up riding south for what felt like hours in 6th gear down a perfectly flat, wide open dirt road until I got to the "town" of Baker NV.
20210605_150001.jpg There wasnt much in the way of a town there, just a hotel, and a building that was a convenience store, casino, restaurant, and who-knows-what-else all under the same roof. I topped-off the beastly 4.7g tank of the bike, and headed inside to grab a bite to eat. By this point of the trip I was trying to eat 1 big meal per day at a restaurant of some kind, and just eat small snacks or a top ramen if I was still feeling hungry (usually before climbing into bed). For some reason on this trip I was really feeling chicken fried steaks - Which is strange because I barely eat em any other time.20210605_152442.jpg
After eating too much food I headed out and jumped back on the TAT where I left off. I saw all kinds of great views and critters as I crossed valley after valley.20210605_165316.jpg20210605_172440.jpg20210605_164205.jpg20210605_164501.jpgP6050509.JPGP6050526.JPGP6050542.JPGP6050531.JPG
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I made it to the town of Delta UT where I topped-off again, then began looking for a place to make camp. I found a quiet little spot just out of town in what seemed like some kind of old quarry or something. With some great views and the sun painting everything a pink-ish hue, I had to take a moment and appreciate that I was able to make it this far on the trip and see the things I had.
20210605_204739.jpgP6050560.JPG20210606_083114.jpg (I took this pic of camp the following morning)
 
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desert_steve

Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2022
Messages
46
Location
Phelan, CA
- 6/6/21 -
Up and rolling by 0730. Id like to say that I was getting quicker at breaking camp but the truth is that I was on vacation and didnt really care how quickly I could get moving. I was making good time and already made it over the 1st mountain range and down into the next valley. It was pretty warm but I was looking forward to making it through the Manti-La Sal national forest. It was supposed to be massive climb up and over to somewhere in the vicinity of 10250ft in elevation. I came across another snake20210606_093044.jpg20210606_093359.jpg
and saw a TON of birds (swallows?) that were making their nests under a bridge that crossed the Sevier river.
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I made it to the I-15 and for a moment I considered how long it would take for me to make it home. I mean sure I was having a great time, but I make a house payment for a reason: I REALLY like my house. I was feeling a little homesick but at the same time this could also be considered a bucket list ride. P6060568.JPG
I figured my family and friends would never let me live it down if I gave up already, so I stayed on the TAT and continued on. I rode through a valley for a while where the trail was lined on both side with small flowers for miles. Little white and pink-ish purple flowers as far as you could see. 20210606_102556.jpg
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I made it to the town of Ephraim UT where I got more gas, and feasted at the local McDonalds before heading up the mountain. The road winding up the mountainside was a decent climb and the WR was anything but powerful at 10k ft elevation 20210606_142142.jpg
I had to stop and put my jacket on as there was snow EVERYWHERE. Strangely enough there were people all over the place up there. Some were up there with their kids playing on sleds, and others had their quads up there and were splashing through the large mud puddles that were quite plentiful. I had to take a slight detour from the route on the GPS due to a large snow drift that was blocking the road, which led me to 3 guys on motorcycles (BMW GS, XR650L, Tenere 700) that were trying to make it up and over the mountain from the opposite direction.P6060609.JPG20210606_150419.jpg
I talked to the guys for a while who explained they were on their way home (I dont remember where they were from/headed) after a weekend of camping off the bikes, but that they couldnt make the climb up the hill in the picture above and unless they made that final climb, they were going to have to go back down and around the mountain, adding 4 hrs to their ride. I lucked-out and was able to come down the hill in the direction of the arrows (see pic), but 2 of the guys in the group were running some pretty tame rear tires and regardless of which line they picked, they couldnt make it up that hill. After about 20 or 30 minutes I wished them luck and headed down the mountain on my way, not knowing how far I'd make it before dark.20210606_152947.jpg20210606_155015.jpg
After riding through the beautiful mountains, I dropped down onto the valley floor and was amazed at how quickly the topography changed. Now I was getting into what Ill call the "badlands". Green trees and vegetation were replaced with sand and mesas. Not that I didnt like it, it was just crazy how fast it changedP6060681.JPGP6060684.JPG20210606_180821.jpg20210606_181015.jpg20210606_184902.jpg20210606_184027.jpg
I made it to the middle of nowhere and found what I consider to be the best camp spot Ive ever had in my life. The view from the top of the small mesa that I was sitting on was awesome. I got the tent set up and just enjoyed the view as the sun slowly set. BEST.SPOT.EVER.20210606_201949.jpg20210606_203152.jpg
 
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desert_steve

Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2022
Messages
46
Location
Phelan, CA
- 6/7/21 -
I had to get up in the middle of the night to put the rainfly on the tent, the wind kicked-up something fierce and I was getting covered in dirt. I woke up at about 0630 and broke camp. I headed a few minutes down the road and stopped to take some pics of more pictographs.
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The map for today would be taking me W A Y out to the middle of nowhere. Like, go to the middle of nothing, then keep going. Tons of beautiful views, large mesas, and the worst washboarded roads I had ever been on in my life. I was amazed that PBB could stay together after that mean chatter all morning long.

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Kind of hard to tell what Im pointing at, but I came out of that canyon at the start of the day.
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At about noon I made it into the fresh-smelling town of Green River UT. Before I left for the TAT I had wired-up a dual USB plug on the bars of the bike to charge my GPS phone, and a battery pack thingy that I could then charge my other devices with at night. The 1st plug crapped-out before I even made it out of OR, and after miles of brutal washboard today the 2nd plug decided it had enough too. I stopped at the local truck stop where I feasted on some Arbys and took advantage of the plugs they had at each table to charge my various things. I called a couple of local auto parts stores hoping to find another plug but came up empty-handed.
I still had about 7hrs of daylight left and a reservation at the "3 step hideaway" outside of Moab the following night (so I couldnt keep pushing east), so I figured Id get a room in town and start hunting-down supplies for the WRs 1st service of the trip. I once again found the cheapest room that I could (a very fancy Motel 6), dropped the bags off the WR, and strapped my tube and tool pouches to the bike so that I could head east towards Moab to do tourist-y things.20210607_172627.jpg20210607_174238.jpg20210607_165436.jpg20210607_165503.jpg20210607_165903.jpgP6070807.JPGP6070813.JPGP6070814.JPGP6070816.JPGP6070818.JPG
I ran some of the trails west of the "well-known" Moab trails, checked out the Gemini Bridges, and when I had service I made multiple calls into Moab looking for Oil, an oil filter, an air filter, and a back tire (I wanted a fresh back tire for the CO passes Id be hitting in a couple of days). Unfortunately I couldnt find an air filter or a back tire in Moab. It was getting late-ish and I wanted to head back to the room to do laundry and get cleaned-up. I stopped at the "Crystal Geyser" because WHO WOULDNT WANT TO SEE A BADASS GEYSER?! That turned out to be a total bust and a bunch of homeless people were camped nearby, making it look even classier.20210607_200535.jpg20210607_200651.jpgI got back to the room and cleaned up, made some calls back home, and tried to go to the restaurant next door for dinner. The place was PACKED. Apparently all of the people that dont want to pay MOAB prices for rooms come to Green River. I went back to the motel and grabbed the WR and headed down the street to the Arbys from earlier = CLOSED. I tried the Subway across the street and they were out of everything but Tuna (eff that). I settled for some truck stop corn dogs, if those dont kill me nothing else will.
 
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desert_steve

Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2022
Messages
46
Location
Phelan, CA
- 6/8/21 -
Today was a day of bad decisions on my part. When I couldnt find the filters and tire for the WR in Moab, I figured Id get it all from Rocky mountain ATV. A quick google search had them about an hour away in Helper UT. I could go grab my supplies and make it to the 3 step hideaway [ https://3stephideaway.com/ ] before lunch, service the bike at the 3 step, and have the rest of the day to BS with the other riders that were staying there. I packed up the WR and started making my way to Helper UT. What I discovered in Helper was that this wasnt *THE* rocky mountain ATV, but some smaller satellite shop! They didnt have any of the parts I needed, and the location of the ACTUAL rocky mountain ATV that I needed was still over an hour away. FML. I had already placed my order online and paid for my parts, and although the WR wasnt exactly a fan of the highway, this was pretty much my last opportunity to service the WR before I got into CO.
I pressed-on, wringing the poor little WR out against a head-wind almost the entire way there (AND BACK, how is that even possible?!) - if anything, this would make for a good story and I'd be laughing about this with my friends back home. Im still waiting for that part...

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Once I got to the right location, I went inside and got my order. The place was run like a well-oiled machine and I couldnt help but compare them to Chaparral (a big-box store local to me that I frequently buy from), and realize Chaparral should take some notes. I explained to the RMATV folks inside that I was doing a cross-country trip and had spent all of $27 of my own money to get the tank graphics on my WR in an effort to get some free or discounted parts, but they didnt seem to care, the nerve of them.20210608_151728.jpg
The remainder of the day was full of me trying to haul ass to the 3 step in order NOT to lose my tee-pee and dinner reservation. It took a lot longer than I thought it would for me to make it and by the time I made it there, the sun was already starting to go down (The pics Im posting of the 3 step were taken the night of, or the following morning).20210608_200600.jpg20210608_204134.jpg20210609_055748.jpg
They fed myself and another rider that showed up late a delicious meal of BBQ chicken breast, corn, beans, a side salad, and some strawberry shortcake for dessert. I got cleaned up in the bath house and joined the rest of the guests around the fire where we all talked about our various travels and shared stories into the night. The "large" cabin was occupied by a group of guys that had been friends since their college years (IIRC). A few of the guys rode down from Washington, while another guy from their group came from nearby Colorado. The guys were telling stories from their younger years and a lot of them reminded me of my friends back home. Even though they were a bit older than me, I had to laugh at the realization that we never really grow up do we?

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The 3 step Hideaway is something like the movie "City Slickers" to motorcycle folks. In fact, the massive property that makes-up the 3 Step used to be an old dude ranch. Scott and his wife Julie are the owners of the property and have a pretty good thing going on. They welcome all comers, but the majority of their business comes from motorcycle enthusiasts. Scott himself owns a pair of WR250Rs, one of which had over 80k miles on it according to Scott! If I had any reservations about choosing the WR for my TAT run, it went out the window after hearing that (although knowing how slow the WR was on pavement, it would take a lifetime to pile that many miles on one and my ass hurts just from the thought haha).
 

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desert_steve

Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2022
Messages
46
Location
Phelan, CA
- 6/9/21 -
I woke up and quickly got to work servicing the WR in the shop. Scott has a garage full of tools and supplies and lets anyone use them as needed, only asking for a donation of any kind to help keep things going. I didnt have a lot of work to do to the bike so I figured I should have everything done before breakfast or so. I quickly got the oil changed and swapped the air filter for a fresh "No Toil" pre-oiled air filter that I had picked up the day before. I left Scott my used-yet-still-good air filter for one of his WRs, it just felt wrong to throw it away. When it came time to swap the Dunlop 606 rear tire, the group of guys from the big cabin had meandered down to talk shit as I worked on my blue beast. They couldnt believe I was about to swap out a tire that still had 60% or more tread left, in exchange for a new one. After giving me a ton of shit and repeatedly begging me not to do it, they convinced me to continue running the used tire for another few days until I made it to the CO passes. I quickly adjusted the chain on the WR and packed the bike up before settling-up with Scott and heading out for another day of TAT wanderings. Yesterday I had missed a section of the TAT in an effort to make it to the 3 Step for dinner, so today I'd be back-tracking just a bit in order to catch the La Sals and Moab.20210609_121649.jpgP6090899.JPGP6090894.JPGP6090889.JPGP6090896.JPG
Now, Im not trying to take away from all of the beautiful and amazing sights I had seen throughout my trip, but I felt that a lot of the TAT was fairly easy riding. I had yet to come across anything that I'd consider to be "challenging" by this point. Well that changed today, as I found myself on a fairly challenging road that almost made a straight-shot up the side of a mountain. I figured between this road (no pictures, I was too busy having a good time), and some Moab trails, Id get a good share of challenging riding in today.P6090902.JPGP6090911.JPG20210609_135245.jpg20210609_135221.jpgP6090917.JPGP6090924.JPGP6090929.JPGP6090931.JPG
I grabbed gas in Moab before jumping on pavement to jump ahead of the stuff I had already ridden on the evening before. Remember the part where I said the skid plate on the bike was driving me crazy? Yeah, I had to pull it off for a while because the sound of it vibrating had me fighting the urge to throw it in the next trash can that I passed. I made it to the CO state line and bid farewell to the UT wind that had been making my hwy progress less than ideal.P6090936.JPG20210609_191318.jpgP6090970.JPG
I rode through the 1st "small" mountain range and found a developed camp ground in the middle of nowhere that seemed to be deserted. I grabbed a spot and once again setup my tent and sleeping bag/pad. It was already pretty chilly and the sun hadnt quite fully gone down yet, so I retreated into my tent and started zipping the legs onto my riding pants and the liner into my riding jacket, I knew tomorrow was going to be cold. I finished the night with a chicken top ramen and Ace Ventura playing on the tablet.20210610_073655.jpg
 

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desert_steve

Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2022
Messages
46
Location
Phelan, CA
- 6/10/21 -
I woke up at 0630 and got caught-up on the "trip log" that I was keeping in a small notepad. I got camp broken-down and was rolling by 0730.
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I made it into the town of Telluride and was amazed at the amount of stereotypical hipsters that were running around. I mean, they were EVERYWHERE. I quickly realized Telluride wasnt my type of town, however, there was a couple of trails that started and/or ended there that I really wanted to tackle. I headed towards Blackbear pass and up the road towards the powerhouse that had the beautiful waterfall coming from it that could be seen from across town.20210610_110346.jpg20210610_105023.jpgP6101022.JPG
Unfortunately, Black Bear pass was still closed due to snow, damn. So, I turned my sights onto the other pass that I was hoping to tackle: Imogene pass. Once again I got shut-down due to too much snow. I would find out later that they would get Imogene pass open roughly a week after I had moved on.
I topped-off on gas and grabbed a sandwich from a local deli before riding over to Ophir pass. Finally, a pass that WASNT closed. I went up and over Ophir pass, heading in what I was told was the "hard direction" by a guy driving a big ass truck that had a bunch of seats set up on it, like a local safari 4x4 type of truck. He had a bunch of tourists along for the ride and they just lumbered up the road slowly - not a bad way to make some money and NOT be stuck in an office I guess. 20210610_135822.jpg20210610_141611.jpg
I headed over to Silverton to start running the "Alpine Loop" (or at least what I could due to snow). I had to laugh because even in the middle of the mountains they had reminders of Covid everywhere you looked.P6101079.JPG 20210610_154900.jpgP6101119.JPGP6101129.JPG
Colorado was beautiful and the mighty WR was chugging its way up and down the mountains w/o a problem. I was worried that the little 250 would have a problem at the high elevations but at the slow speeds I was going, it did great. Im sure being fuel injected didnt hurt either.
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For those that are planning on trying the Alpine Loop, prepare yourselves now for the metric a$$-loads of SxSs that youll encounter out there. I thought the So Cal deserts back home were full of Modelo bros and golf cart twat-ery in those over-priced curses that were unleashed on normal desert folks, but I was wrong. I had never seen so many in one place. This area of CO must have the highest number of SxSs in the country for sure.
In case you couldnt tell, I have a disdain for those f@cking things, I hate them. Not because theyre fast and handle pretty well right out of the box, but because every douchebag that can sign their name seems to have one and has no idea what desert etiquette is. Ok, Im done with my little rant.
So back to the Alpine Loop. I made it into Lake City CO and from there started heading up Engineer pass.
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I was checking passes off my list at an impressive rate, but knew I didnt have enough daylight left to finish this one. I was concerned with the overnight low temperature - my sleeping bag was really warm, but I hadnt tried it in below freezing temps yet. I found a neat little spot at an old mine that had a small patch of concrete just big enough for my tent. After getting trick with para-chord and some rocks, I had my tent secured to my liking and began checking out the scenery. Once the sun settled I jumped in the tent for another top ramen and a movie before falling asleep for the night.
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