Update - Chuck forgot to tell us about a short side trip he made into Rocky Mountain National Park. The update is in Blue below and the map has been updated to include this 50 miles or so venture.
Don't forget that you can click on any image to get a larger version and see these maps better.
Try to feel sorry for Chuck when he feels forced into taking the quickest and most direct route back to Durango and it ends up being US-24, one of National Geographic's most scenic roads in the US.
He is having a great time, losing some luggage not withstanding. Take a look at the overall map so far, and the breakout maps below. I've tried to edit some of his comments to give you a feel, but for the full version, you should really consider joining MLC on our annual ride to Arkansas coming up. Chuck will be in full display mode to tell us all about the Rockies while we ramble around the Ozarks.
From Durango, take 550 to Silverton. Nice views since the mountains had gotten more snow last night. Two passes and one 10mph twist tie (this is better than a twistie) just before you head toward Ouray.
In my book, the road between Silverton and Ouray is one of the best in the state. Not that far (20 miles) but you better be on your toes because there are many cites called "falling rock" you must pass through.
If you want to scrape your floor boards, this is the road. BUT, make a mistake and you are some 300/600+ feet down into the canyon. Beautiful is not the right word for this 20 miles!
Out of Ouray, stay on 550 thru Montrose to Delta and then take 50 into Grand Junction.
The sun peaks into the valleys about 5:30am up here. By 6am I had loaded the bike and turned the ignition key. Out of Grand junction, I took I70E to Rifle and 13N to CR325. Turned right on 325 and road the twistie ties for about 12 miles to a fish hatchery. Just past this place, the road turned to dirt. So, nice canyon ride but retraced my steps to 13 and turned North again. At CR317 I turned right. Both these county roads show paved and they were (for awhile).
Anyway, about 8 miles up 317 and find a man on a 4 wheeler
(at a curve) franticly waving his arm for me to stop. So I pulled off just about the time I could see around the curve. There was 200 - 300 head of cattle walking right downt the road toward us. We chatted and I told him about MLC and my annual ride etc etc. He told me the payment went only a couple more miles and then it also turned to dirt. So, waying goodby to all the cow hands (they were all on 4 wheelers) I did a U'ie and headed back to 13. So far only 1 u'ie.
At Graig, I took a right on 40 and followed that into Steamboat Springs. The weather was starting to turn very gray so I headed for a Super 8 and I no sooner got the tarp on the bike when a hail storm hit me. This continued until about 5pm when I could get out and drove over to see some friends that had moved up here from Clear Lake some 3 yrs ago.
Back to the hotel and guess what, it started raining again. Got up on Monday, and the weather had settled in on Steamboat. I spent the day Monday reading and watching TV. Man was I ready for a break in the rain and I got it on Tuesday.
Monday - Still Raining
6am I was motoring out of Steamboat on 40E to 14N that goes through Walden (at 8200') to Cowdrey. Now, for you soon to be mountain bikers, if you only use unleaded, most towns have gas. However, if you use premium like I do, be careful. Many stations don't carry anything higher than 87 octane. Anyway, my whole purpose for this Northern side trip was to go into WY and take a picture. So out of Cowdrey, I take 125 NE into WY. Guess what, no sign&^$#@# Not even a CO sign welcoming you back?? So, back down 125 10 miles to 127 and I turn NE toward 230 and Laramie. A mile post #1, no sign so I keep riding for 10 more miles. Nice country but still on sign. So I took a picture so I want be yelled at. Back down to Walden via 14 to 125S, back over the Cont Divide to Granby and 40.
In Granby I took a short spin up 34N to Grand Lake and into Rocky Mountain Nalt Park. If the pass on 34 had not been closed due to snow, I'd have continued over the pass into Estes Park on the other side. I did make 10 miles into the park before I got to the snow gate. Of interest is that 34 is the highest man made rode in the USA and it tops out at 12,183' at the pass. This is a must if you come up after Memorial Day and before the snows start in late November.
Took 40E through Hot Sulphur to Kremmling. About 8 miles out of Kremmling, I see a man on the side of the road, all dirty and he had his thumb out. Don't know why, but I stopped. Seems he took his 2 wheel truck where only 4 wheelers need to go and he needed a phone and s tow truck. So, on the back he went and off we journed to the only store in Kremmling (this is a 3-4 house small town). He got off and we said our goodbys. He sure was thankful since there are VERY few cars on this road. I continued 40N to 134 and headed East to 131 where I turned south to Wolcott and I70. I wanted back to I70 because someone had told me that I70 from here to Glenwood Springs via Glen Canyon was a must to drive. Boy, they were not wrong!! This is a NARROW canyon shared by the CO River, RR and 4 lanes of traffic. I'll tell you more at the upcoming picnic on during the AK trip. Anyway, at Glenwood I took 82S toward Aspen. Don't go folks - they are developing this whole section and there are lights and slow traffic all the way to Aspen. At Aspen I got the bad news: (1) the pass I needed to Leadville was snowed in and (2) gas was $3.99/gal for prem and (3) it started to snow. Waited for the snow to stop and back tracked to I70. Headed East on 70 to Vail where I got a room. When I got off the bike, I realized that my backpack was missing. It had blown off the bike somewhere on I70 with all my clothes, wallet, cash and more. You would figure with all the info in my wallet and my bussiness cards, someone would call. They didn't nor have they since. After a fun day of riding, not the ending I wished for.
Today is Vail to Durango which ends with 304 miles of fantastic scenery and super roads! I had other routes picked out BEFORE I lost all my money and clothes. So, this was the fastest most direct way back to Durango so I could "re-supply". 6am I'm headed back West on 70 to 24 where I turned S toward Leadville. 24 has been written up in Nalt Geographic and some CO web sites as a must drive. What twist tie roads!! On one curve with a bridge over the river, I stopped to take a picture of the snow covered mountains. I had noticed a lady with a camera but as she approached she asked if she could take a picture of me taking a picture?? I said OK and later she came back with a notebook. Seems she works for a Vail paper that puts out info to tourists of things to do and see. Hopefully she will send me the article so I can share with you. Yes, she was cute. Anyway, back over the Cont Divide to Leadville. I was wondering how come my nose, cheeks, knees and hands were so cold. Leadville's temp said 26!!. I stopped at the Golden Burrow in town for coffee and to warm up. They had a neat t-shirt I had to buy. This town is at 10,200' and their football statium is "2 mile high" stadium. Out of Leadville, you stay on 24S to Buena Vista then you pick up 285S to 112W to 160W. During this route, there is about 40 miles of nothing but 14,000' peaks on your right. I've got the cruise going and really enjoying my tunes when a State PD flags me down. Seems an airplane clocked me at 76. Another "fine day" in black rock. From 160W you go over Wolf Creek Pass (alwasy sometype of construction to hold you up) to Pagosa Springs and into Durango. Bike has run well and so far I'm getting about 44mpg.
Keep after it Santa, We all wish we were there.