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SCOOTER TOUR of CO, NM, AZ, UT -- MAY 2011  

In my 65+ years of riding, I have owned many motorcycles. Since moving to Colorado in 2001 these have ranged from the sensuous Honda ST1100, the mighty Honda GL1800 Gold Wing, the lovable Honda Reflex, the fierce Honda Silver Wing (see more here), the formidable Honda ST1300, and today in 2011, the mega-fun Yamaha YP400 (400cc) Majesty scooter. I call it ScooToro - my "leetle bool."

The tour through CO, NM, AZ and UT was awesome in both distance and scale - especially for a mere "motor scooter." The route included Carlsbad Caverns, Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, and Mesa Verde. I was out for 9 days (longest time ever). The Yamaha Majesty and I covered 2300 miles. It performed flawlessly and cruised easily at true 75 mph (GPS). I found it as comfortable to ride 8 hours at a time as any 2-wheeler I have ever owned, including the iconic GL1800. With the extra 2 gallon tank strapped on, my "Majesty-ST" became a 'Super Tanker' with a 300 mile range - a reach equaled only by the other two long-legged STs listed above. Here is a link to the few modifications for touring that I chose to make before leaving.

Various Panoramic Views from the tour:
Wide open spaces, and huge fields of volcanic basalt. I stopped here for some coffee and a granola bar. Oh yeah, as a 70 year old geezer I also took the opportunity to swallow my blood pressure and cholesterol pills (4 in all) to make sure I have a fair chance of surviving to be 71. I love to ride because Motorcycle Wisdom says that 'God does not subtract from your life the time spent riding.'
A scene from the Painted Desert, adjacent to the Pertrified Forest. The mineralized "trees" there are mostly in 2-3 foot chunks. Not a lot to see of them except in the accompanying museum and gift shop.
Grand Canyon - one of the first views you see.
Go down there on a mule? No thanks, I'll just ride around the rim on ScooToro!
Deep within Monument Valley, the silent red monoliths stand eternal guard over sacred Navajo land. This is a place all Americans should visit before their personal end of days.
The beautiful Mancos Valley lays below the Mesa Verde plateau. The historic Mesa Verde National Park is about 15 minutes outside of Cortez, Colorado (in the southwest corner of the state).

Below are selected individual photos (best of several hundred) from my CO, NM, AZ scooter tour:
First night; Pueblo, CO. Two gallons extra gas. So ready to go.
Don't know where this will take me, but I like it already.
My favorite fighter of all time: the F86 Sabre. Read more here. Not looking back much but so appreciating where I've been so far.

My furthest point south was Carlsbad Caverns in southeast New Mexico. So awesome. I last visited there in 1977 with my son Scott.
My armored, day-glo green, Tour Master jacket is very easy to see. Cavern tours are self-guided now so you can go at your own speed.
Lighting is very low so set your camera accordingly. Use a tripod if you can (I didn't).
This one's for the girls...

And this one's for the guys...
Few will be pleased to learn that a Nuclear Waste Disposal Plant ("WIPP") is operating near Carlsbad, NM. Land of the Free; Home of the Brave - but held hostage by a gang of usurpers. God bless America in 2012.

Roswell NM was on the way back from Carlsbad Caverns. A fun place with plenty of other-worldly ambience and history - as seen in the movie Contact. On the way to the Grand Canyon I was fortunate enough to pass by the Very Large Array, located near Socorro NM. In a way, visiting the VLA in 2011 completed the journey I began in 1976 when I visited the awesome Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico (also featured in Contact). Both are associated with the SETI Project.
You have to be old as me to know the meaning of B.E.M.
Many unusual creatures have been reported in Roswell, NM.

I photographed this weird looking creature myself.
Rolling at 75% of red line; soaring 100% free in my mind. The fore and aft of forever
- and I am riding right in the middle.
Freedom is never having to wonder what's around the next bend.

Yes, it is possible to have a straight curve...
Creator-less science rips a hole in the spirit. Can science ever fill that void? The order of the universe only convinces me all the more that God is real.
These 2 wheels are my personal Telstar.
The rail system is used for both maintenance and moving the dishes.
The pickup truck is dwarfed by the huge size of the dish antennae.
In the 1970s I was an amateur astronomer - very amateur. I had a 6" Criterion telescope and spent many a Kansas night peering at the night sky. As a member of the Kansas City Astronomical Society I was treated royally by the good folks at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. More info here. More info on both radio and visual astronomy is here. Me in 1976 when I visited the mighty Arecibo Radio Telescope. In 2020 it is up for demolition.

Along the way to the Grand Canyon was the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. The ride along the two way blacktop is smooth. Little traffic preserves serenity and promotes safety, but distances between gas stations is often great. Twice I was so glad I had the extra two gallon tank on board.
Man-made Majesty is humbled before the works of Gods Hand.
From 6 to 60 miles per gallon;
From boring to endless fun.
The beautiful Watchtower from afar. Can you see it here?
Just another metaphor for 'from boring to fun' - and in that order.

Leaving the Grand Canyon behind, the trek continues along the endless vistas of the southwestern territory. The Navajo National Monument was a bit out of the way, but barely a stride for the eager and adventurous ScooToro. This side trip provided both an interesting sojourn and a free-spirited new friend.
I had to ride 30 miles off the main road to see this. Well worth it.
One never knows when the road will present a new friend: Right: Sculptor Dennis Patton (holding Tibetan chimes) took my pic (at left). Dennis said:
"It pleases me to chime the world," and he played them.

Onwards to Monument Valley, a place of very special meaning to me.
Before this trip I thought I would never return again but I was graced with more time upon this sacred ground.
I left this picture large to give you a better sense of being there. A final shot of MV in the rear-view. Here's another from 2008. For picture credit and additional links, click here. Leaving Monument Valley, the next stop is Cortez, Colorado for the night.
Along the way I stop for a snack bar and some coffee. Click for pictures from the same place in 2003, and from 2008. A fellow traveler on a Gold Wing stops too. He may think I envy his grand ride, yet he'll never guess my ScooToro is a carnival cruise on wheels. GL1800 vs YP400;
6-cyl vs 1-cyl;
Fun vs Funner.
A pathetically desperate self-shot. Note how the button mirrors widen the view.

Just 10 miles outside of Cortez, Colorado is the beautiful and ancient Mesa Verde National Park. My Golden Age park pass saved me a lot of money at all the Natonal parks because it let me in free. Vehicle fees are $25 otherwise so be sure to get one if you qualify (62 or over). They cost only $10 (one time fee) but are now known as the "America the Beautiful / National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass / Senior Pass."
Sounds like a bureaucrats translation of 'Hope and Change' to me.
A trite visual metaphor for "Stairway to Heaven" - on two wheels.

Leaving Cortez and Mesa Verde, I proceeded north and east through Ouray, Montrose, and Gunnison Colorado. Along the way were many beautiful mountain passes to travel. Negotiating tight curves without losing momentum becomes a real artform when one only has a 400cc engine. Slowing down very much for curves while going uphill often means there is no way to regain speed until the summit is reached.

Not an Adult toy shop, just a photo of opportunity!
'The streams of the mountains please me more than the sea' - from Guantanamera GPS report on the four state tour. Max speed is from my ST1300.

A month later I was riding ScooToro along CO 7 & 72, the beautiful Peak to Peak highway between Estes Park and Blackhawk. Another motorcycle had been following me for awhile. Eventually he passed me and a car ahead within a space too short for my valiant 400cc motor to handle.

I saw the bike was a BMW "boxer" twin; its rider decked out in full touring regalia: helmet, gloves, boots, armored all-weather suit, etc. All the cues definitely suggested a wise and thoughtful combination of mind and machine - not a weekend poseur strutting his show leathers and loud pipes.

Soon I had passed the slow car and began to overtake the BMW rider, curve by curve. In Blackhawk I pulled alongside him at a stoplight. He shouted over to me 'What's in there, a 650?' I held up four fingers and shouted back through my helmet, 'No... just a 400.'

He hollared back, 'Well you've got a lot of motorcycle there and you ride it very well.' I had heard a similar sentiment before from another BMW rider (while riding my 600cc scooter) - it always feels good to be validated. The light turned green and we went our separate ways.


Yellowstone 1980

Monument Valley 2003

Highway 101, CA, 2004

Gateway, CO, 2008

Devil's Tower,
Yellowstone, 2009

Grand Canyon,
Monument Valley,
May 2011
Glacier National Park,
Going To The Sun Road,
July 2011

Motorcycle quotes and wisdom.


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