Road Trip 2005

In September 2005 I quit my job to pursue some other interests. The first thing I did was hit The Road for a couple months.

I started out with this itinerary.

I have the itinerary in a Google Earth format too.

Miles driven: 11538

States visited: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana*, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri*, Montana*, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio*, Oklahoma*, Oregon, Pennsylvania*, Texas*, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming*

Part 1

Sunday September 11th

I left Fairfield and headed to Crater Lake. It took me a while to get there because I stopped in Redding for groceries and a a visit to a bike shop. That and I followed what my GPS said. It had me going down some unpaved forest service roads, granted they were well maintained. But I will pay more attention to the route next time.

I got a spot in the Mazama Campground. It is a great campground. It is in the woods a few miles from Crater Lake, and there are some nice views too. There are flush toilets. There are water faucets throughout the campground. The showers are hot with lots of pressure. Stay in the F loop where the showers are. I believe I read it had over 200 sites, but it didn't seem that big. It is right at 6000'. It costs $18/night.

Monday September 12th

Woke up to a light frost. I talked to the guy next to me. He told me the reason the ground was wet was because there was 2" of snow a couple days ago.

I got up and headed to the North Umpqua Trail to ride my bike. I kept my spot at Crater Lake and opted for a longer drive to the trail because I wouldn't have to search for a campground, there was a shower at Crater Lake, and I wouldn't have to set up again. Later I talked to a few people and found out that there are two campgrounds with showers at Diamond Lake, one had closed for winter the day before. It was 54 miles and a little over an hour drive to the trail from the campground. A lot of times remote highways are really slow. Except for some extremely precarious highways in the national park, the highways were conducive to higher speeds. I stopped at the Toketee Ranger Station off 138 to get some maps and info. I read on mtbr.com that the Dread & Terror segment of the North Umpqua Trail was the most technical section of the trail. So that is where I went.

To get there take 138 and turn east when you see the sign for the Toketee Ranger Station. Make a right onto Forest Service Road 34. Follow it for 2 miles then make a right at the sign for Umpqua Hot Springs. Follow the road, Forest Service Road 3401, for 2 miles to the parking lot. The Dread & Terror segment of the North Umpqua Trail picks up just a little further down the road from the parking lot. There is a $5.00 access fee. A box with payment slips is provided.

The Dread & Terror segment gets its name from the fact that a good portion of the trail is narrow over cliffs or very steep hill sides. Falls in many spots would be dangerous or fatal. If you have a phobia of those situations, this trail is going to piss you off. The trail was indeed very technical and very fun. There is no sustained elevation gain, but it is certainly not flat. I did 4 miles then turned around and rode out. Ideally you would shuttle with someone and do the full 13 mile segment from east to west.

A kind of funny story about the ride, I came up to a small puddle formed from bike tires going through a wet spot. It looked to be 4"-6" deep. It would definitely throw you if you hit it at speed but only a small problem if you roll through it slowly. But looks can be deceiving. I hit it and my tire sunk halfway to the axle and I went over the bars. I really tweaked my neck trying to stay out of the much larger puddle just beyond that one. Also I saw a few huge mountain lion tracks when I got up, that was a little disconcerting.

After I got done with the ride I went to the Umpqua Hot Springs, just a half mile walk from parking lot, to soak my neck. The springs are perfect, 108 degrees and little or no smell.

Tuesday September 13th

The plan was to take off in the morning, bike the North Umpqua Trail, then go on to Washington and camp at Mount Rainer. Well it did work out so smoothly. First it took me forever to take off. I got up late and took a long time cleaning up. Then I went to do the Deer Leap segment of the trail and wound up spending more time there than planned. I was going to bike until I got to Toketee Falls then turn back. But Toketee Falls is not on the Deer Leap segment. By the time I realized it was not on the trail I figured it would be easier to complete the 9.5 mile segment then take the road back, about 7 miles.

To get to the trail head take 138 and turn east on Forest Service Road 34. Turn right at the Toketee Campground sign. Turn right at the boat launch sign and park in the parking lot. The trail head is across the road from the Toketee Campground sign. I didn't see anything about a fee, though I am pretty sure the man wants one to be collected.

The Deer Leap segment is top notch. It is a fast segment with a few technical challenges to keep it interesting. It has long sustained accents and descents. The segment is 9.5 miles long.

I went over the Toketee Falls after the ride. Then I hit the road. I got to Salem Oregon and got a room.

Wednesday September 14th

I left Salem and made my way to Mount Rainer National Park. Rainer is a great park, I wanted to take a picture of everything. I definitely want to come back here and backpack. I would like to see Mount Rainer too. It was in the clouds the whole time I was there.

I got a spot at the White River Campground on the north side of the park. It is a nice campground. It is right by the White River and the views are great. They would be even better if the fog cleared. I didn't notice the restroom or water situation, but the web page said it had flush toilets and water. There are no showers though. The only showers in the park are at the visitors center in Paradise, quite a ways away. There are 112 sites. At 4400' it was considerably warmer than Crater Lake. It runs $10/night.

Thursday September 15th

The night wasn't too cold. But the morning seemed pretty cold because the sun was buried in clouds. I packed up and headed for Skookum Flats Trail.

To get there take highway 410. Take Forest Service Road 7160 on the west side. Make a left into the parking lot. The north bound trail head is across the road from the parking lot. A $5 pass is required to park and ride the trail and it must be obtained elsewhere.

Skookum flats is another top notch trail. As the name implies there is not a lot of vertical change. But there is enough to keep some of the technical parts interesting. And it is fairly technical. I would not say it is a fast trail. I did 4 mile until I came to a long set of stairs around a cliff face. Then I turned around and headed back.

Before I started my ride I stopped at a NF ranger station just outside the national park and he told me the Greenwater General Store has showers and laundry. It sounded too good to be true but it wasn't. Definitely a shower that requires the use of flip-flops though. I wish more places offered showers like that. They are very convenient for travelers. So I took a shower and did my laundry. Then I headed back down 410 making my way to my next destination.

Highway 410 is littered with National Forest Service campgrounds. I stopped at what I belive was the last one on 410, Cottonwood. It was an ok campground, nothing to write home about. This one had a campground host, Sanford and Son. It made the place feel a little sketchy. It was set on the Naches River. The views were nothing compared to the terrain I had been through. But my goal was to shorten the drive to my next destination the next day so it was just fine. And at around 2500' it was a little warmer. I didn't pay attention but I believe it was the standard pit toilet. And I don't recall seeing water faucets either. As is typical of these National Forest Service campgrounds there was no shower. You need a $5 pass to stay there.

Friday September 16th

My original plan was to head to Vancouver British Columbia after Washington. But I will have to save that for another time as I am short on time and money. I would have worked longer and saved more money for my trip but it was getting late in the year. If I didn't leave then I would miss all the fall colors in New England and many of the campgrounds would be closing for winter soon. As it is I started a couple weeks later than I wanted and I was $1000 to $1500 of what I calculated the trip would cost me. So my compromise is to skip the two Canadian destinations and Glacier National Park I had on the itinerary. I will come back and check them out another time.

So I stopped in Yakima, got some supplies, and found a place with Internet access and reformulated the next leg of my trip. I decided the next destination would be Ketchum, ID. It took a long time to find an Internet connection. Finally after over an hour of searching I finally found a coffee shop in the mall called Columbia Steppe. And when I found it I spent a good amount of time there. So I was a over a hundred miles from Ketchum before I needed to stop for the night. I got lucky and spotted a campground right off interstate 84 right when I was ready to pull in.

Farewell Bend State Recreation Area is a nice little Oregon campground on the Snake River, right at the Oregon-Idaho border. It is one of those campgrounds with the nice clipped grass, showers, and electrical outlets. And of course it had water and flush toilets. It was pretty big, it must have had 75 sites. And the climate was very temperate compared to what I had been getting in Crater Lake and Mount Rainer this time of year, probably because I was back down to 2600'. $17/night.

Saturday September 17th

I got up and headed to Ketchum. In Yakima I checked the web and found there was an REI in Boise. I made a stop at REI to get some bike clothes. Wearing what smelled the least was getting fucking old. I still need some more but this will get me started.

Sooner or later it was bound to rain. Too bad it had to be in Ketchum. It would be nice to get a hotel and get out of the rain. But I wouldn't want to pay for a hotel in Ketchum even if I was working, I definitely can't afford it now. Motel 6 Ketchum hasn't opened up yet. All the campgrounds around Ketchum are the primitive National Forest Service sorts, so no showers. But I stopped by the visitors information center and the lady there said you can get a day pass at the Sun Valley Athletic Club and take a shower there, 131 First Avenue. There are a half a dozen campgrounds north of town on 75 so I headed there. The Sawtooth NRA headquarters is also just north of town. I stopped there and poked around. I asked some questions and got a great Sun Valley Trail map with info on the mountain biking trails in the Ketchum area. Then I headed on to Murdock Campground, just a mile up the road. Damn, setting up a tent in the rain and cold really gives me RV (or trailer) envy.

Murdock Campground is set in a beautiful Idaho valley, what I think of when I think of Idaho. The typical pit toilet is available. And there is a faucet too. It is a primitive spot so there are no showers. Murdock is small with less than a dozen sites. It was around 6500'. The cost was $10/night.

I couldn't cook in the rain and I was getting tired of sandwiches. So I headed into town to get some food and a beer. I found a map of town that listed the restaurants. The Cellar Pub, Sun Valley Street two blocks east of Main Street, sounded like what I was looking for. It turned out to be a good choice. Looks like it is where the locals hang out, mostly 20 to 30 some things. I got a few tips from the bar tenders on where to ride.

Sunday September 18th

That night was the coldest so far. When I woke up Camp Schulte was blanketed in a heavy coat of frost. The rain drops on the tent where now icecicles. But I remained warm (for the most part) and dry. And it looks like if Camp Schulte was a few hundred feet higher it would have had snow too. The hills above camp had a good bit of snow.

I set off to ride the trails in Greenhorn Gulch. To get there take 75. A few miles south of Ketchum take Greenhorn Road west until it dead ends at the parking lot. Parking is free.

I started down Mahoney Creek Trail. Then I turned onto Greenhorn Creek Trail. Actually I first made a wrong turn and descended 800'-900' and 3.2 miles on Howards Trail. From Greenhorn Creek Trail I got on Trail 155 and then Imperial Gulch Trail. A nice 15.75 mile trail, or 22.25 miles with the 6.5 mile wrong turn.

If I keep making these mistakes I am going to be in great shape out of sheer stupidity. I will be the Forest Gump of mountain biking. I will enter the 1000 meter downhill race and end up wining the 40 mile epic race.

As for the trail, it was pretty good. There are a couple things that keep me for saying it was great. First there is a lot of gravel on the trail. It can get to be a real pain in the ass. Not near as big of a problem as the gravel is the motorcycles. They make some of the sections, especially the switchbacks, very sandy and hard to ride. There are a few sections that are too step to peddle too. Though not being used to the altitude made those sections tougher than they normally would be. Other than that the trail was great. The views were outstanding. You have the subtle beauty of the Idaho hills with all the colored grasses, the aspens, and the pines. And in the background you have these huge mountains. A good part of it was gently rolling hills. The later part had some killer climbs and descents. It was defiantly a fast trail, not much technical on it. Maybe the rock garden in the first one to two miles would be called technical. The descent down Imperial Gulch was awesome.

After that I went to the Sun Valley Athletic Club, one First Street and First Avenue. It was $11.00 to take a shower but it was well worth it. It is a pretty fancy club, they have towels, soap, shaving cream, blow dryer, etc. there for you.

It was late and I was tired so I headed over to the Cellar Pub again, got some food, and hung out. I met a couple people from Oregon and we made plans to ride the next day.

Monday September 19th

I woke up to a winter wonderland again. I made breakfast. And by the time I was done I was too late to meet Allan and Mara, the people I met at the Cellar. The cold nights were getting to me, I needed to get done the mountain. So I packed up camp and got ready for the ride at Oregon Gulch.

To get to the Oregon Gulch Trail head you take 75. Seven or eight miles north of Ketchum is a sign for the North Fork Country Store. Immediately after that is a dirt road that leads to a parking lot. I did not see any signs for fees.

I took the Oregon Gulch Trail. Then I turned on to Trail 149C. There were quite a few trails not on the map and it got quite confusing. 9.8 miles and many turns later I wound up back at the trail head.

Miraculously I meet Allan, Mara, and Ascher (Allans dog) at the 149C junction. They had just finished an out and back of the next section of the Oregon Gulch Trail, which is supposedly very technical. They were both good riders. And riding with Ascher was kind of cool. He would stay right beside the front rider on the up hills. Then he would get out of the way on the downhill, keeping up the best he could.

The trail was great. It was mostly technical, but there where a handful of great technical sections. There were a few sections that needed to be walked. But it did not have any of the gravel problems. And it was a no motorcycle trail.

I went and got another fine shower at the club, got some dinner at the Cellar, and I started driving toward Salt Lake City. I got to Twin Falls and got a room.

Tuesday September 20th

I drove to Draper, just south of Salt Lake, and met up with my friend Andrew. I met Andrew and his wife Kate in Austria earlier that summer. They are both pilots for Sky West. Andrew and I hung out and then did a little 3 mile ride in the trail system right by his house.

Later that night I met up with my friend Abe. I meet Abe through my old roommate Alex. Abe is a grad student at the University of Utah. He was interning at SGI where Alex works. Abe and I went and got dinner and drinks. Then we went back to his place and crashed at his place.

Wednesday September 21st

Andrew and I went up to Park City to do part of the Mid Mountain Trail that afternoon.

I may have these direction a little wrong but... To get to the trail head take highway 242 (Park Avenue) into town. Make a right on Deer Valley Drive. Make a right on Silver King Drive. Then make a right on Three Kings Drive. You should see the Spiro Trail trail head.

We did an about a 11 mile loop. I don't know the exact amount because my odometer stopped working for a while. We started on Spiro Trail. Turned on to the Mid Mountain Trail. Then we descended on Johns Trail. Park City Mountain Resort whose land these trails are on was doing a lot of construction. So riding on Johns Trail was a bit confusing. In fact I am pretty sure we on the wrong trail by the end.

I give the trail high marks. It is around 7500' to 8500'. The climb up Spiro was good. It was very beautiful, the optimal time for the leave colors. And Johns Trail was a good descent. The first part was very tight single track through an aspen forest. Then there was excellent technical section. Though I have a hard time evaluating the last part. As soon as we started descending Johns Trail it started raining. After we got out of the aspens the trail was getting hard to ride because it was too wet.

Just when I thought I could take any more of the rain and cold we landed back in Park City. We stopped at the first restaurant we saw, a Mexican joint, and got some food and warmed up. After that we headed back to Abe's. Andrew had to go to work. Abe made some homemade pizzas and we watch a movie.

Thursday September 22nd

I took off that morning and headed to Moab. Abe recommended that I take a long cut through some BLM land called the San Rafael on the way to Moab. It wasn't a bad little detour. The views were good. The roads were pretty good too. So it really didn't slow me down that much. I saw some pretty nice Indian pictographs at the Buckhorn Wash Rock Art Panel.

The road names are differ on each map. But I entered a little north of Castledale on highway 10. There is a sign the pointing to Buckhorn Wash and a few other points of interest. I followed the signs to Buckhorn Horn Wash/Draw and then to the San Rafael bridge. From there it was easy to get on to interstate 70.

Important lesson of the day... These are not regular roads and should be driven as if around the next corner is a 50' drop off. I know, it happened to me. Don't expect any fancy warning signs. I was driving through a little valley. The road went up a bit. Right at the crest of the hill the road turned sharply to the right and the left side of the valley fell away into a huge gully. I turned as fast as I could and gave it some gas to try and avoid skidding sideways into the gully. I don't even know how deep it was. But I am sure it would have been the end of my trip or worse. I talked to Abe later that day and he told me of a similar sup prise with some washed out sections of the road in the same area.

I got into Moab and got a spot at the Riverside Oasis Campground. It is right on highway 191 just north of the Colorado River on the north side of town. It is one of those privately owned campground where they pack you in tighter than sardines. This one has 2 dozen tent sites, some RV sites, and a half dozen little cabins. The views are spotty, but you could see the Colorado River and a few nice cliffs. Riverside Oasis provided all the amenities, flush toilets, water, and they have the much need showers and laundry too. Most campground around Moab don't have showers. And they even have sinks dedicated to washing dishes, that is always a great idea. There are no fires allowed though. But the brochure says will give you a grill if you ask. One nice thing is they have grass. And they are really clean, so it is an ok deal at $18/night. Moab sits at about 4100'.

Friday September 23rd

I got up and ran some errands, washed the car and got some groceries. I always appreciate how good the City Market grocery store on the south side of town is, expensive, but good. Grocery stores are usually so pathetic in remote areas. Then I found Internet access in the cafe in Eddy McStiffs plaza. That afternoon I set out to do the Slickrock Trail.

To get to Slickrock Bike Trail start out on Main Street in Moab, highway 191. Go east on 100 North Street. Take a right on 400 West Street. Left on Millcreek Street. Millcreek turns into Sandflats Road. A little ways up you pay a $5 entrance fee. A little ways further you will see the parking lot for the Slickrock Bike Trail.

I found Slickrock to be a easy, fast flowing, and untechnical bike trail. Just kidding. Slickrock is very technical. Certainly it is not the most technical bike trail in the world, but it is probably a good baseline. "Trail X is not near as technical as Slickrock." "Trail Y is way more technical than Slickrock." I did expect it to be more technical though. I walked a dozen or so sections that were to steep to peddle up. But there were only two obstacles I walked over and the only time I crashed was when I tried to peddle up a hill that was way to steep. And of that I am grateful. Crashing on that rock would take a heavy toll. It was 11.3 miles doing the practice loop both way according to my odometer. All said and done it was probably the best trail I have done so far. But I seem to have expected more. Like when you go to see a movie that your friends have really talked up. The movie may be awesome, but you are left wondering if it was as awesome as it was built up to be.

I saw that Eddy McStiffs bar had a poker tournament at 8:00pm on Friday and Saturday. I got cleaned up and headed down there to check it out. I got there to late and I was resigned to watching and drinking beer. Eddy brews some descent beer though. But I think they get too wrapped up in the sweet beers. The menu looks like a candy shop, cream this, berry that, no thanks.

Saturday September 24th

Abe was coming down to meet me in the afternoon and do the Porcupine Rim Trail. I was really happy about that. It would be the first through trail that I could do from beginning to end because I had someone to park their car at the end an shuttle back to the start with. Until then I killed time washing clothes, checking out the bike shops in town, and reading.

The directions to the Porcupine Rim Trail head are the same as the Slickrock Bike Trail. Start out on Main Street in Moab, highway 191. Go east on 100 North Street. Take a right on 400 West Street. Left on Millcreek Street. Millcreek turns into Sandflats Road. Go 7.1 miles past the booth and park in the parking lot on the right. The trail ends by Negro Bills Campground on highway 128.

Porcupine Rim Trail is great. It is very technical, more so that Slickrock. Slickrock has a lot of dangerous descents, but Porcupine is a harder ride. And there are some dangerous exposed parts of the trail near the end, couple hundred foot drop. It is just under 15 miles from the trail head to where it ends on highway 128 by the Colorado River. And it is a very strenuous 15 miles. It took Abe and I 3 hours. Abe got to Moab late. So we didn't get started until 4:45. The last 10 minutes of the ride were in the dark.

After we got back we headed to Pasta Jay on Main Street to get some dinner. This is the second time I have eaten there and I was impressed both times. After that we headed up the road a bit to the bar Rio, not bad. I think Moab has a lot more men than women though, the San Francisco phenomenon.

Sunday September 25th

Moab weather had been perfect, T-shirt weather night and day. But it was time to ramble on, I was out to see the fall in New England after all. I had heard a lot of great stuff about the biking in Fruita Colorado just a hundred miles away so I decided to head there next. Unlike the other destinations this one was not on my itinerary. I had done no research on this place and would be winging it.

Before I left I went by Slickrock to snap a photo. All my gear was wet as I had just washed it that morning and it wasn't worth gearing up to ride 600 yards of the trail anyway. So I rode out on the trail with only a pair of jeans and flip-flops, no helmet, no gloves, no shirt even. Here are all these people doing this highly technical strenuous ride and I am half naked. I got couple smirks. I wish I would have run into somebody on the way out, "Wow that was a tough ride, next time I am not going to wear my flip-flops".

I got to Fruita. I had found a bike shop on the Internet a few days before. So I stopped there to get some info on the trails. I got some trail info, a map, and a lead on a campground with showers. But first I got some groceries, I was going to try a split pea and ham recipe on the dutch oven.

I got spot at the Colorado Riverway State Park Fruita. It was just south of town on highway 340, though it is practically in town. The views are 50/50, to the south you have Colorado National Monument and the river, to the north you have McDonalds and the latest gas prices. They have flush toilets, water, showers, laundry, and even those new fangled dish washing sinks. There are 13 units for tent campers. Some dimwit decided they should have a parking lot and have people walk to the tent sites. They have wheel barrows, as if that makes it better. The RV and group sites have drive up access and there plenty of room for roads, so why walk up? There is a bit of highway noise from 70 too. But it is clean and they have a lot of facilities, so at $17/night it is cheap comfortable place to stay when biking the Fruita area. And I think they will give you an RV site if you complain because I saw a few tents in the RV section.

Monday September 26th

I was planning on doing the Edge Loop. It is a 30 mile loop on the IMBA epic trail list, which many of the destination I am going to are on. So I tuned up my bike and packed a lunch in preparation for the long ride. As I was driving around trying to find the trail head I realized the dirt road I had been driving down for 4 miles was part of the trail. This trail was going to turn off to some great single track but as this dirt road was about a third of it I decided to revise my plan. I would be content to just do part of the Edge Loop and I would mix it up in a loop with some other great trails in the area.

To get to the area take highway 6 east out of Fruita. Turn right on 16 Road. 12.6 miles later turn right on V.8 Road. There are no signs, if you don't have a GPS look for a road crossing a creek on the right. .3 mile later veer right at a V on V.7 Road, again no signs. 1.1 miles later you will cross the Western Zip Trail. This is were I started. I parked at a little turn out down the road.

I wound up doing a 15 mile loop. Some of that 15 miles was back tracking trying to find out connecting trails though. I went north on the Western Zip. Then I cut a right onto Frontside Trail. This turns into Chutes and Ladders in a confusing junction of many trails and roads. Then I cut back onto the Edge Loop. When I got to where the trail crosses 18 Road I believe I had got off of the trail. After nearly killing my self, a bunch of trobule fixing a flat, and frustration trying to pick up the trail again I cut the ride short.

The near death experience is a pretty good story. I was riding through a wide open area. It had a slight downward grade so it was easy to keep up a good pace. In fact I think I was going over 20mph. With no hope of stopping a good size ditch (well over a foot deep) appeared right in front of me. The only thing I could do is lean way back to keep my front wheel out of the ditch and keep me from going through the air. And I made it! The force of impact was too much for my rear tire though. My rear tire quickly deflated. And when I was reparing the flat I found out I had put a dent in my rim. Actually I was just grateful I didn't put a big dent in my front teeth.

The trail good though. It was nice fast single track with a few technical spots. And the views were great, the subtle beauty of the high desert.

After the ride I headed back into town. I found Internet access at Hot Tomato Cafe on Aspen and Mulberry. It is across from the bike shop, Over the Edge Sports. I got a slice of pizza and got on the net for a while. Then headed back to Camp Schulte.

Tuesday September 27th

The next destination was some trails in Pine Colorado. In the morning I cleaned up and headed to the bike shop to see about my rim. The guy at the bike shop trued it up. I will want to replace the rim eventually, but if it stays true it will do for now. It was raining off and on all day so I changed the plan around a bit. I was going to stop by the Denver REI after I left Pine. Instead I went to the Denver first.

Interstate 70 is really impressive from around Grand Junction to Denver. A little before Aspen is a area called Glennwood Canyon that is particularly impressive. I had been there before and I thought the same thing, "I have to come back there and do some hiking, or better yet, some backpacking".

The REI was really impressive. It is a flagship store so it is really huge. After shopping I got some dinner and found a cheap room.

Wednesday September 28th

The rain continued in the morning. But I was determined to bike Pine so I went to a few stores to kill time and found and Internet cafe in a Mall near Denver. The forecast was sunny skies for Thursday.

I headed out to Pine and setup camp in Pike National Forest. A few miles past Pine on highway 126 there is a sign for Buffalo Creek Recreation area to you right, Road 550. They have a primitive campground there with pit toilets and picnic tables. It was closed but you can camp anywhere in National Forest land, except closed campgrounds. You just need to make sure your car is off the road. And I did just that. The view was excellent. Near highway 126 was a pit toilet if the need arose. I am not sure but I think a pass may be required. At 7800' it promised to be a cold night.

Thursday September 29th

It was in fact a cold night. In the morning I headed to the Buffalo Creek Trails.

To get there take highway 285. Then go south on highway 126, also called Pine Valley Road. Then take a right on Crystal Lake Road, you will see a sign for Pine Valley Ranch Park. Follow the road to the parking lot at the end of the road.

I did the Buck Gulch Trail. Turned onto Skipper Trail. Then got back via the Strawberry Jack Trail. My odometer said I did 12 miles but it was on the fritz, I believe it was about 2/3rds of that.

The award for the most boring trail I have been on so far goes to ... The Buffalo Creek Trails. My grandma could bike that shit. I have a suspicion those trails were created by the Pine Quilting Society. The trail was very smooth. Your hard pressed to find a single rock or root on the whole trail. Though there were plenty of down trees from a fire. A burned out forest can be a beautiful thing when it starts to grow back. The shrubs and small tree can be quite colorful and the area will be filled with bird because it is such a good habitat for them. But the regrowth was not that far along so it was a little drab in parts. There are tons for great rock slabs near the trail that could be turned into some fun obstacles. A bike group needs to get out there and make it less grandma friendly and more bike friendly. I could have done more but I was eager to get back on track to New England. In addition you really have to work for every foot of elevation at 8000', if I had worked hard more of the same I would have been a little disappointed. I saw some more signs of bikers on the Strawberry Jack Trail so I suspect I could have just done some of the less appealing trails.

I drove the rest of the day. Then I got dinner and a room in Douglas Wyoming.

Friday September 30th

Other than laundry in the morning and a stop for groceries I drove all day. I got a spot at Cottonwood Campground in Theodore Roosevelt National Park that night.

Cottonwood is a real pretty campground. The park is awesome with a lot of wildlife. The campground has flush toilets, and water. Sadly no after biking shower will be available at the campground. The only fires allowed are in the little charcoal grills though. There are 75 sites available. It costs $10/night. At 2500' the weather is pretty good too.

Saturday October 1st

After doing a few things around camp I headed into Medora and got some info. Following a sign that said visitor info to museum I was redirected a little further down 4th Street to Western Edge Books. The couple that runs the place are real nice. I asked about showers and a bike shop. I got three options on the showers. Western Edge Books used to be a hotel, they offered showers for $5.00. There are also two private campgrounds in town that have showers. I checked both of them out for future reference. The Medora Campground on the north end of town was closed so I couldn't find out if they let non-guests take showers. The campground looked pretty descent for a private campground. There were some trees and a bit of space between sites. I drove over to the Red Trail Campground and found they were still open. Showers for non-guest cost $5.00. The place was very cramped and did not look very appealing. Dakota Cyclery on 3rd Avenue had some good advice on the trail. I also got a map of the trails. I also found out that Medora hosts a fairly popular musical from spring to Labor Day. That explains why the town is so touristy. And I learned that the reason most things are closed for the season is that the nice weather I was experiencing was somewhat unusual. Medora often has snow in October.

The Theodore Roosevelt National Park has a north and a south section that are about 90 miles apart. There is a trail called the Maah Daah Hey that starts a few miles south of the south section in Sully Creek State Park and runs to the north section. To the east of the parks south section is the Theodore Roosevelt Wilderness Area. As you mountain bikers probably well know, mountain bikers are not allowed to ride in wilderness areas. So there is a trail called the Buffalo Gap that goes around the wilderness area. The girl at the bike shop said I should avoid the Maah Daah Hey immediately north of Sully Creek and instead start where the trail crosses under interstate 94. So that is what I did.

To get to the trail head park in town. Ride the paved path that heads out of town to 94. You will see trail head will be on the west side of the road.

I rode the Maah Daah Hey south. I intended to connect up with Buffalo Gap Trail as advised. But for a straight trail, the Maah Daah Hey is really hard to follow. There are many side trails and unfortunate the markings for the Maah Daah Hey do not always available at these intersections. At one of these intersections I got some advice that lead me into the section that the bike shop told me to avoid. I eventfully looped back to the Maah Daah Hey at the Buffalo Gap intersection. From there I took the Maah Daah Hey back to town. It was a 11 mile ride.

The Maah Daah Hey is really beautiful. The badlands in the fall are awesome. But I am not so sure about the trail for biking. It has really soft dusty soil. A lot of the trail is a big rut from the horses. Issuably this rut in 8" wide and 3"-4" deep. But the rut can be well over a foot deep and only a foot wide and nearly unbikeable. In many of these ruts are 2"-4" of dust, also really bad for biking. As there very few rocks or trees in North Dakota the trail also lacks them. So the trail is not technically difficult at all. I think I would have enjoyed the trail much more on foot so I could see more. Perhaps shuttling and going for a really long ride there would be enjoyable.

Sunday October 2nd

I packed up quickly and did a quick hike in the park. Then I headed to Itasca State Park in Minnesota. Itasca is the headwaters of the Mississippi River. It was a long drive so I broke it up with a stop in Fargo to get some Internet access.

I got a spot at the Bear Paw Campground in the park. It has flush toilets, water, and warm showers. A nice old CCC campground. There are over 200 sites in Bear Paw and the other campground nearby. A park pass is $7/day. And the campground is $15/day.

Monday October 3rd

I got up and got ready for a hike. I stopped by the visitor center for advice. I said I wanted to do a hike. She pointed out a couple spots that I could drive to. They were small loops about a mile in length, the midwest idea of a hike! I feel like an iron man athlete next to some of these people.

The next day I got up and did a nice 11.5 mile hike. I started at the visitor center. Got on Deer Park Trail. Then I got on Eagle Scout Trail. I a got back via Ozawindib Trail.

It was exceptionably beautiful. A park ranger said the peak color was the week before, so the colors were just awesome. Being and only child and growing up in the country I did a lot of exploring in the woods. This hike reminding me a bit of the exploring I did in the woods as a kid. The forest was full of birches and pines, a little different from the midwest forests I used to hike. And there were lakes and ponds every where. And I hardly even noticed bugs except for a few locations. It was the perfect time of year for this trail.

Tuesday October 4th

I had initial considered staying three nights at the park. But the ranger saying the peak colors had past motivated me to keep moving. Also I had seen a lot of the park on the hike the day before. So I decided to start heading to Porcupine Mountains State Park on Lake Superior in Michigan. I made some cinnamon rolls in the dutch oven for breakfast, a nice way to start a cold morning, and packed up. As soon as I got the last of my gear in the car it started raining. What timing! I wanted to get on the Internet and get the weather forecast. So I stopped in Duluth. I found a nice brew pub called Fitger on Lake Superior and got some food and brew while I surfed the net.

Unfortunately the weather forecast wasn't good. So I drove to Ashland Wisconsin, the last town of any size on the way to the park, and holed up in a room.

Wednesday October 5th

The weather wasn't forecasted to get better until Friday. I would just have to deal with it. So I headed to the park and got a spot at the Union Bay Campground. The rain was off and on and I was lucky enough to the get tent up while it was off. I hung around and read in the tent for the rest of the day.

Union Bay is pretty nice. It sits right on Lake Superior. It has flush toilets, water, showers, and laundry. There are about 100 sites. It is kind of expensive, $21/night on top of the $8/day park pass.

Thursday October 6th

The sound of the waves from Lake Superior and the rain made for some nice sleeping. I did a short hike along the lake in the morning and then headed out for another hike.

I started at the Lake of the Clouds parking lot. And I did an out an back to Mirror Lake on the North Mirror Lake Trail. It was an easy 7 mile trip with less than 1000' of net vertical.

It was an awesome trail. Much like the Minnesota park but with some of the lakes replaced with rocks and cliffs. It was just a little before peak color here. A few places were mostly green.

After that I headed to the next destination, mountain biking at Levis-Trow Mound near Neillsville Wisconsin. On highway 73, I forget the town, I came across a bar named Funte's House of Knowledge. No doubt many of todays great ideas are spawned right there. I stopped and got a spot at Russell Memorial Campground outside of Neillsville.

Russell Memorial Campground is a nice campground set on Lake Arbutus. You have the lake and lots of trees with good sized campsites so it is quite pretty. There is water. The restrooms have flush toilets and showers and are heated too. There is also laundry. I belive it is the only place I have been so far that offers firewood at anything approaching reasonable, one wheelbarrow for $6. There are over 200 sites. And it only costs $14/night. It is south of Neillsville on Road J. Take 73 south, to 95 east, to Road J south. There will be a sign that says "Clark County Russell Park".

Friday October 7th

The first day in five with clear skies and the first day in three with no rain. I was driving through rain off and on until I got to few miles from Neillsville. Apparently they had not been hit by any of the storms I had been in. I had hurt my left hamstring and my right knee on the previous days hike so I just hung around the fire all day reading.

Saturday October 8th

To get to Levis Mound from Neillsville take 73 south, to 95 east. Then go north on Fisher Avenue (directly across 95 from Road J). Make a left at the sign into the parking lot. There is a $3 fee per person.

At the trail head I hooked up with a group of bikers from Wisconsin, a real nice bunch of people. They had been there before and invited me to tag along.

The area was not that big, maybe 1500 acers. But it has a ton of trails. We rode some large loops that covered a good part of the trails. The ride turned out to be about 13 miles.

The ride was shaping up to be just a nice ride through some midwestern woods. But near the end we rode to the top largest of the mounds, mounds are what the big hills there were called, and it got really good. It had quite a few tricky obstacles. So I give the ride high marks.

After that I was off to New York. There were some trails in Ellicottville that I had read about and I was going to camp at the nearby Allegheny State Park. I made it to Indiana and could go no further that night. I got a cheap room in a town called Michigan City.

Sunday October 9th

I got up and drove all day. From around Rockford, IL to Cleveland interstate 90 is a toll road. I paid 10 or 11 tolls totaling just over $20 to do that segment. The fuckers who came up with the idea to make an interstate a toll road will be the first against the wall when I am in charge. In Ohio they had a healthy disrespect for the 65 mph speed limit which was nice though.

I stopped at Erie to try and get some Internet access. I found a place downtown called Molly Brannigans that had access but it wasn't working. So I broke down and subscribed to the way overpriced T-Mobile in the Starbucks next door.

Late that night I got a spot at Allegheny State Park. It is a nice park. The views are nice and even nicer because it was just a few days before peak color. The park web page said it was voted one of Americas top 100 campground. It has flush toilets, water, showers, and laundry that is open on the weekends. There are about 120 sites (and nearly filled Sunday because of a Canadian Holiday as I understand it). It costs $13/night.

Monday October 10th

After breakfast I headed into Ellicottville to get some info on rides at the bike shop. Mud, Sweat, and Gears is on the main drag Washington Street, or highway 242. I got a map and some advice and was on my way.

Most people park at the Holiday Valley Ski Resort Training Center. From Highway 219 head east on Holiday Valley Road. Less than a mile up the road is a sign for the training center. Take that left and an immediate right. Park in the parking lot. It is free to park.

I did the 4.5 mile Race Loop Trail.

It was a fun little ride, mostly single track, through the woods. There were a lot of roots and logs, a few "rock gardens" here and there. Nothing to write home about though.

Really it was too wet to ride. I was slipping off roots and I couldn't pedal through a quite a few spots because of the mud.

I stopped in Ellicottville to do some laundry at a place on Monroe Street. Right across the street was a bar called Balloons that had free WiFi and it was in range.

Tuesday October 11th

I decided I would be better off hiking rather than biking through the mud. There was some rain in the evening so the biking wasn't going to by getting any better. I hiked from the campground to Red House Lake and in the woods around there. I kept it short, a little over 7 miles, because my hamstring was still bothering me while walking.

Wednesday October 12th

I got up early and started driving. The forecasted rain continued. The next destination was the Kingdom Trails in northeastern Vermont with a detour via Lake Champlain.

I stopped in Albany for an oil change and to get on the net and check the weather. The forecast was for 5 more days of rain. For the first time on the whole trip I was pissed off about the weather.

I saw on the map there were some campgrounds. I stopped at Cumberland Bay State Park outside, or really in, Plattsburgh New York. It is a campground/beach on Lake Champlain, nice for that type of campground. It was closed for the season but there were no gates so I went in and set up my tent. I was too tired to keep looking. The campground looked like it had all the usual amenities. I saw signs for a laundry and a restaurant too. Cost: free (after seasons end)

Thursday October 13th

The rain continued. I got up early and left. No one gave me any grief for camping in the park. Perhaps only because I got there late and left early.

That night I heard a very large number of geese off shore. I checked them out before I left. A couple hundred yards off shore were 3-5 large groups of Canadian geese. Each group had a hundred or more geese. I had never seen so many geese. I suppose these things would have been very common in the 19th century before there were so many men. It sounded like a very bad traffic jam in Manhattan.

To get from northern New York to Vermont there are a there are two islands, the North and South Hero, and a series of bridges over Lake Champlain. I took this route, as opposed to a ferry. There are some very old houses in barns in the area. I suspect a few are from the 1700's. Some of the barns are very elaborate too. I am fascinated with barns. I suspect because I spent so much time playing in them as a kid. Sadly most the old barns are disappearing. They are not as useful on the modern farm. Large modern tractors don't fit in them well. And there is no longer a need to loft hay and straw. The ones people have the luxury to maintain and restore will be left in a 10 years.

There are three state parks on the two islands. I pulled off on Grand Isle State Park to have some lunch and to check out the park for future reference. It was a real nice park, lots of woods and views of the lake. And they had large lentos. So I decided to wait out a couple days of the rain in one of these. The park has all the amenities, flush toilets, water, and showers. There are over a hundred campsites, and a couple dozen lentos (many with lake views), and even a few cabins. The lake view lentos where $25/night, the campsites where $16/night.

Friday October 14th

Rain, rain, rain. I read a lot. Made some beef stew in the dutch oven.

Saturday October 15th

More rain. Some dude in a boat full of animals floated by. I waved.

Actually at this point there was some signs of the rain clearing up. For instance, you could tell that at 1:00pm it was brighter than it was at 10:00pm. And there were some long periods were it stopped raining. But all that could be said definitely was that I was sick of stew. I made a peach cobbler in the dutch oven. I read and worked on my bike. And I actually got a little hike in along the lake.

Sunday October 16th

It didn't rain all night. It was looking better. I had already decided that I would drive on. But I didn't really have a choice as the park closed that day. It started raining soon after I got on the road.

I got to St. Johnsbury and stopped to do laundry. In the newspaper I saw there had been some flooding in New England. There was also some historical rain data. Average precipitation was for the most part the same every month with October having the smallest average. I guess I just got lucky this year. The forecast was still for the rain petering out late Monday but also with a small chance of rain Tuesday.

I headed on to East Burke where the trails were. I got a spot at the Burke Mountain Campground outside of town. From northbound highway 114 take a right onto Mountain Road, and a left on Toll Road. The campground is on the right side of the road. Luckily the campground had lentos too so I could keep dry. It is a small campground with 25 tent sites and 5 lentos. The campground is a heavily wooded area. It has flush toilets, water, and showers. Cost is $14 for a tent site and $18.50 for a lean-to.

I stopped at the bike shop in to East Burke Sports to get some info on the trail. The cafe across the street, Bailey's and Burke, was supposed to have wi-fi but it wasn't working. They have a good turkey cranberry sandwich though.

Monday October 17th

It rained hard that night and it was pretty cold. The rain had for the most part let up though. To ride the Kingdom Trails you need to get a pass in East Burke. The guy said the trails would be closed today because they were too wet but the next day some should be open. So I looked around and killed some time. I checked out some of the outdoor sporting good stores and a bookstore. St. Johnsbury's welcome center offers wireless but it wasn't working. They sent me to the library and I got on the Internet with their computers. Later I found a connection at the Boxcar and Caboose Bookstore in downtown St. Johnsbury.

I also walked around St. Johnsbury for a while. St. Johnsbury has a lot of really impressive 19th century buildings. Apparently much of the money was from maple syrup and derivatives. The town is certainly worth a look if you are in Vermont. It would even be a worthy destination if you were an architect or in the trades.

Tuesday October 18th

And the rain returned. I decided to head over to Acadia National Park. The weather was going to be good there for a few days. I would try to ride the Kingdom Trails on the return trip. About an hour from the Acadia it stopped raining. And when I got there that night I could see the moon and stars for the first time in a very long while.

I got a spot at the Blackwoods campground. It is a big campground, somewhere near 300 sites, set in a nice pine forest. It has flush toilets and water. There is a private place that offers showers a quarter mile outside the park. It costs $20/night.

Wednesday October 19th

The plan to do Maine first was working out well. Not only was it not raining, it was clear skies. And there were better colors in Maine too, it was very near peak color. I made some cinnamon rolls in the dutch oven that morning.

I was going to do a hike. But I stopped by the ocean before starting and I just climbed on the rocks along the beach for hours. 32 years old and I don't think I will ever get tired of doing that.

I went into Bar Harbor later, the very touristy town outside the park. I found an Internet cafe called the Opera Cafe, but it was really expensive to connect so I just talked to the bartender Tim and his buddy Ben. Tim is quite an interesting guy, he was just finishing a novel. I meet up with Tim later that night at a bar called Rupannuni's. The locals hang out there and Tim introduced me them all, a nice group of people.

Thursday October 20th

I got up fairly early. Thanks alcohol.

And I went and did the hike I was planning to do yesterday. From the campground I took the trail to Cadillac Mountain. Then from the top of Cadillac Mountain I took a trail east toward Dorr Mountain. In the valley between the two I caught a trail south. Finally I meet up with the campground-Cadillac Mountain trail via this awesome trail that follows a stream up hill. It was about 11 miles total. There were great ocean views from the upper parts. And the parts through the valley were great too. Overall the trail was just awesome. I am always pleasantly surprised by each national park I visit.

There is a restaurant in the park that many of the people I met the night before worked at. I went there and got some lunch and ran into a guy named Joel I had met the night before. Joel was having a party at his house that night and invited me over. I went back to camp and got a few zees then headed over to Joel's place in Seal Harbor. It was a great party. They were good people. Dave who I had also met the night before lived a few blocks away and had a free bed so I stumbled over there.

Friday October 21st

Dave and I got some breakfast in Bar Harbor. And then I split.

I headed back to New Hampshire to do some trails near North Conway, near Mount Washington. Mount Washington is the most deadly mountain in the lower 48 due to some crazy weather patterns. The highest recorded wind speed, 230 some miles an hour, were recorded on its peak. When I got to North Conway I found an outdoor store called EMS and got some info about the trails. I talked to the wife of the guy that is making the maps. EMS was in a hotel called Eastern Slope Resort Inn and they had wi-fi in the lobby.

There are a quite a few national forest campground along highway 112 near Conway. All but one, Blackberry, was closed. And all 25 site in Blackberry were full. I noticed it cost $18-20/night for these campground, that is ridiculous for a national forest campground with nothing but pit toilets and water. After wasting a ton of time trying to find a campsite I got a cheap room in North Conway, it was a nice little place for the price.

The whole Mount Washington Valley seemed really busy. The campsites were full, the roads were busy, and there were a lot of people in town. I figured it would be dead as it was cold and late in the season. I suppose it could have been leaf peepers but they were a bit late to see any leafs on the trees.

Saturday October 22nd

I got up and headed over to the Rob Brooke Area Trails. To get there take highway 112 west from Conway. Go north on Bear Notch Road. There is a big sign where the trail crosses the road. You park on the west side of the road. I think there is no fee required.

I took the Rob Brooke Fire Road. Then I got on the Rob Brooke Trail. I tried a bit of the Middle Nanamocomuck Trail but it wasn't going to happen. Then I got on Owls Cliff Climb. I screwed up and did a bit of the less ridable hiking part of the trail but eventually figured it out. I got on the Owl Cliff Connector. Next the Old Rail Road Grade. Finally the Rob Brooke Fire Road back to the car. That was about 8-9 miles.

I am afraid my opinion of this trail is a little biased by the recent rain and the cold, it was in the low 30's when I rode it, but I was not very impressed. I was warned by the guy at the shop thd I was about ready to just head back. But to do the Owl Cliff Climb which was supposed to be the good part of the trail it would add only a little more time and it was higher elevation meaning no marshes so I did it. I was worried it could have the same downed tree problem but it didn't. During the descent I started having a little fun for the first time on the ride. But even if I hadn't had all the problems early on I wouldn't say the trail was that great. This place is right near Mount Washington so there is some nice steep rocky terrain in the vicinity. It seems to me the trails could have been more trilling.

After my feet quit hurting I headed back to East Burke. I got my trail pass and took off. It is best to just start riding from town.

Burke Mountain trails were closed so I just did the eastern sections of the Kingdom Trails. It is a big maze of trails. Some of the memorable sections were Tody's Tour and Pines. I wound up doing about 11.5 miles of trails.

The Kingdom Trails are on some woods with gently rolling hills. They are not the most technically challenging but they are fun. They do a good job with the terrain they have. The steep interesting areas are used and there are nice touches like berms. You can tell they are made by mountain bikers. The trails are well maintained too.

After that I got a spot at the Burke Mountain Campground.

Sunday October 23rd

There was rain last night and snow in the morning. I got ready and headed off to Savoy Mountain State Forest in Massachusetts. When I got there I found the campground was closed for the season. I wasn't very disappointed. My air mattress got a bunch of holes from the rocks at Acadia. And it was snowing at the park. There were 4 nice cabins at the park and one was unoccupied. But you had to book those ahead of time. So I found a room a few miles outside the park. It was pretty sketchy.

Monday October 24th

I headed over to the park to do a ride. There are a lot of trails in the park. mtbr.com had a little advise on the trails to ride. I did the 3 mile North Pond Loop.

It was pretty good biking, some of the best I had done in New England. But there was a lot deep puddles and a bit of snow too. By the time I finished up the loop my toes were really hurting so I called it a day on biking.

There were some pretty big falls in the park, Tannery Falls, and there were some old fire roads you drive down to get there. I stopped by the falls on the way out. They were pretty impressive.

I made it to Pennsylvania that night before I had to stop. I saw a park called Promise Land State Park on the map and stopped there. They were primitive sites with pit toilets and water. There were showers down the road. It was $10/night and up. It looked like a nice park but I was just there long enough to sleep so I can't say too much about it.

Tuesday October 25th

I had planned to stop in State Collage Pennsylvania and ride some trails in Rothrock State Forest outside of town. But a snow storm hit and it was forecasted to last a couple days. So I just bailed out and drove on to my dad's in Illinois.

The roads in the hills were awful. At one point there was guy pulling a boat in an SUV, a semi with a flatbed trailer, then me, finally a semi with a 53' trailer behind me. We are all driving along at 40 mph and with a reasonable distance between us. All of a sudden the guy in front with the boat loses control and stops with his boat sideways and his SUV facing the wrong direction. I think he saw this gas station turn off at the last minute and decided to go for it. The semi behind him brakes. But at the last minute the semi trailer starts to slide sideways. I come to a complete stop and let things get sorted out in front of me. I look behind me to make sure I am not going to get plowed and things look good, the truck behind me had dropped back. I look up and see the semi in front of me had given it a bit of gas and had moved on and then the guy with the boat started moving too. I look back again and now I see the 53' trailer starting to slide sideways toward me. I didn't finish waiting for the boat to move out of the way and got out of there ASAP.

I made it to Dayton that night got a room and caught a movie.

Wednesday October 26th

In Monticello Illinois there is an old mansion, gardens, and estate that was turned into a park, Allerton Park. I went to 4-H camp there a couple times twenty some years ago. It wasn't too far out of the way so I stopped there to check it out. I pulled in to my dad's place that night.

Part 2

Monday November 7th

I had had a real nice stay at my dads. But I had to leave. I scored a part time job in Park City Utah and was going to snow board all winter. I decided to take the southern interstates back home with a stop by Sedona and Malibu to do some biking. I had heard good things about biking in Sedona and knew Malibu had some killer stuff. The route would take me along interstate 55, 44, and 40. These are the interstates that replaced route 66.

I made it just over the Oklahoma to Twin Bridges State Park. The campground was not very nice even though it had toilets, water, and showers. It would do as a fishing or water skiing destination though.

Tuesday November 8th

I got through 680 miles. That was probably one of the longer days on the road, or the longest, for this trip.

I spotted New Mexico's tiny little Villanueva State Park on the map and went to check it out. What a find, beautiful and secluded. It had flush toilets, water, and showers. There were about 2 dozen campsites. It was $10 for a basic site, and $14 for a site with electricity. It was at 5600' feet so the nights can be cool.

Wednesday November 9th

I hiked the Villanueva's trails. It only took me about an hour and a half. If there were more I would have stayed another day.

I headed to Sedona. Sedona is probably one of the most beautiful places I can think of. It is even more amazing because it is like an oasis in the desert.

I wanted to get a spot at Cave Springs campground. It is the only campground in Oak Creek Canyon with showers. But it was closed for the season. I wound up with a spot at Manzanita Campground a little further down highway 89A. It is $18/night for pit toilets and water. It was a pretty warm night for 4800'.

Thursday November 10th

I went into Sedona to take care of some stuff. I found wireless Internet at Sedona Coffee Roasters on the south side of town.

Asking around I found Mountain Bike Heaven and headed there to get some trail advice. What a bunch of asses. The first guy I talked to kept going on and on about what kind of bike I ride, how I rate my skills, what areas I have ridden, what trails have I ridden in those areas. Then he gave me some vague advise on where to head. If your a local who knows all the trails and someone asks you where to ride it makes sense to ask them what kind of riding they do so you don't waste time telling a cross country rider about trails only a downhiller is going to do. But this guy was just being patronizing. That might be excusable if this was some pimply faced kid with low self esteem. But this guy had grey hair. Grow up. I kept pressing and at this point a lady started to give me some helpful advise. But before I could get the specifics written down this younger kid came over and chewed me out for asking for advise with out buying a map. That is kind of funny because I love maps, collect them in fact, but I didn't want to buy the trail map because I have the map and home and didn't want to drop another $12 on a map I already owned. Anyway I got enough advise to get me started.

Then I went to try to find a place to get a shower. I found a couple resorts but they wanted $20 for a day pass. After the campsite fees and the $20 to get a shower I figured I should check into getting a room. Sedona is expensive but it was off season and midweek. I got a room at Super 8 Motel for $75.

I started the ride from my Hotel. From 89A go north on Dry Creek Road. Make a right on Thunder Mountain Road. There is a parking lot and trail head on the left.

I did the Thunder Mountain Trail and the Tea Kettle Loop. It was only a seven mile trip.

It is good to be riding in the west again. I have only done a half a dozen trails in north and New England so I am not an expert on trails in the other parts of the country. But it sure seems like the good mountain biking is in the west. The trails were blast. Thunder Mountain Trail could use a bit of trail work to make it more bike friendly, there were some parts nobody was going to be able to peddle up. But other than that just a blast.

Friday November 11th

I headed out to Malibu but got sick of driving so changed my plan and stopped short at Joshua Tree National Park. The campgrounds at the park were full so I got a room in 29 Palms.

Saturday November 12th

I went into Joshua Tree National Park and climbed around on some of the rocks for an hour or so. Even though the reservation system was not able to tell me if the campground was full or make a reservation for that day and I had no number for a ranger at the campground to check, I was sure the Malibu campground was going to be full. So I just drove on back to Fairfield.

The End

What do you take on a trip like this?

I started out with my camping gear plus the following:

Thoughts About the Trip

I like traveling in the fall, it may be the best time to travel.

cons:

pros:

Tent camping has its advantages. But I really like doing these road trips and I would like to get a camper trailer for future trips.

cons:

pros:

I really like New England. It wouldn't be a bad place to live.

pros:

cons:

I set out to do this trip in seven to eight weeks. That is not enough time to do a coast to coast trip. If you stop one or two days in each destination and you stop in one or two stops in each state it will take about 7 weeks taking in to account about a day of driving between each destination. I would prefer to stop two or three stops in each state to really get a feel for the area. This also would alleviate the problem of big drives between each destination. I won't do a coast to coast trip again unless I have about three to four months to spend on the road. Instead I will pick an area, like New England, drive to it and then start exploring.

I had nearly every destination on my trip from Fairfield to Illinois planned at the start. It is fun to pick out a bunch of destinations before hand. You can also research the area better from home But it is also really fun to do what moves you at the moment and explore. Also, when you have all your destination planned out ahead of time you cant really take into account bad weather or what you will feel like doing that day. Deviating from the itinerary may have consequences you are not willing to take so I am likely press on. I think my next road trip will have zero planning. My destination will be "the road".