GDMBR2 – DAYS 19-22

The good, the bad and the ugly. Sometimes all in one day.

I woke up early, packed up my tent and, as I was fumbling through my tank bag, I noticed my granola bar was opened. It took a minute to realize a mouse had crawled up my motorcycle, under the cover, and chewed a hole through the fabric and zipper of my bag to get at the bar. Fortunately, the critter was not in there when I was fishing around. But, the bag is shot.

Then, when I went to start the motorcycle, it barely turned over and started. Oh,oh. Something is still wrong with my battery or charging system. I headed west towards the next largest city, Montrose, to see if I could get a charger or battery jumper.

Traffic jam along the reservoir

My guess was right, Montrose was large enough to have a Wal-Mart. I bought a trickle charger, went back to my bike and it was dead. I pushed it to an alcove where the employees smoke and take breaks. There was an outlet there that I shared with a couple of transients charging their cell phone and drinking a slushie. Nice.

While the battery charger was working, I ate a sandwich and started searching the internet for motorcycle repair shops. I talked to a guy in Macon, near Durango, who refered me to a guy in Montrose who was off the internet radar. I called Randy, talked to him for quite a while about the suspected problem, a bad stator or regulator,or both. The mechanic in Macon had warned me that the BMW replacement parts were around $1100 but that there are aftermarket parts at a fraction of that cost. Randy said he knew a guy in Denver who might be able to FedEx them to him by Friday Noon. He could then fit me in after another customer and before he leaves for the holiday weekend. A lot of if’s and maybe’s. I decided to put my faith in a stranger and told him to order the parts.

With my battery 44% charged, I headed back to the KOA I had seen coming into Montrose, got a tent site, did laundry, took a shower and ventured back out of town 6 miles to check out The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. I was disappointed there was no ranger in the entry booth that I could flash my Senior Card at… The park was a complete surprise to me. A very deep gorge (blackish of course) in the middle of a desert landscape.

The view from the first overlook

I stopped at the visitor center and watched a 20 minute video a guy in the laundry room at the KOA said not to miss. It talled about exploration, the building of a railroad in the canyon and the tunnelling of a water diversion path to make the arid desert around Montrose a fertile farmland. Very interesting.

I ventured as far as I thought I could risk with my battery and the rain clouds to a few overlooks.

Montrose traffic jam

Back to the KOA, and a short walk to a local brewpub, Horsefly, for dinner and beverage. A text to my nephew who lived in Montrose for a spell determined it was a favorite spot.

The back page of a paper I found at Horsefly…

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To bed for a restless night worrying about how tomorrow would play out. I put the charger on the battery and hoped for the best.

Since I had until at least Noon and I had a fully charged battery, I went back to the Park to explore further. There was a ranger led geology hike which talked about gneiss, schist and pegmatite. She talked about the unique circumstances that led to the canyon including uplifts, volcanoes and erosion. It was all fascinating but the real highlight was back at the visitor center where a volunteer had a telescope with a special filter so you could look at the sun’s surface. You could see the spots. Freaky cool.

Around Noon Randy called to say my parts were in but that he needed until 3 to finish the other guy and start on my bike. I drove out at three to his address, it was a house with a big garage at the end of a gravel road miles out of town. Breathe deep.

I met Randy and he told me some of his life history which gave me more confidence. He had worked for the BMW dealer in Denver for a while but that was before my bike was built. Breathe deep.

He started and I helped pull the shiny parts off so he could begin the surgery. The stator went well and it smelled burnt which gave me confidence it was the root cause of the problem. The regulator was a challenge but after two hours the bike was back together, it started, and a check of the battery voltage indicated it was charging. Hooray!

I thanked Randy sincerely and rode off to Grand Junction to meet an old biking friend, Greg and hjs wife who had moved from Golden Valley earlier this year. I got there just at dusk, they fed me food and an Indeed beer. What a relief to a stressful day.

In the morning, Greg and Shari took me to Rocky Mountain National Monument, anther spectacular geological feature I’d never seen. To my dismay, they had a National Park pass and I didn’t get to flash my card. It was a beautuful climb along the park road to the visitor center.

The prominent feature, Independence Peak

Another Ramger talk on geology.

There were few barriers to falling to your death. But there was this sign..

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I bid farewell to Greg and Shari and headed east across Colorado on I-70, a National Treasure, towards Boulder, and the home of a former work associate/friend, David.

It was hot. 90+ degrees until I hit Vail Pass. I got to his home in Longmont around 7. His wife and son joined us for dinner in Boulder, a town like no other. There were street performers on a pedestrian mall and all sorts of people, really. I was thoroughly entertained.

In the morning , David took me up into the mountains for a 6.2 mile hike to a cascading stream with a view to Long’s Peak, one of Colorado’s 58 14’ers.

It was a great outing. We had lunch, I packed up and headed my bike out of Colorado and homeward. The adventure is coming to an end..

The temperature was over 98 and the winds were strong out of the north, of all things, making the riding a slog. Add to that, the air was filled with dense smoke. Something is burning somewhere. The sun was an orange ball that looked just like what I had seen in the telescope.

I made it back to Scottsbluff for the night. Another 12 hours of riding to get home…

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