|July 2000||Louisiana HSTA Newsletter||Page 1|
Yep, a new name for this old rag. Hope you like it. The summer is heating up! STAR 2000 has come and gone and was another huge success, setting a new record for attendance. There were a great number of sportbikes on hand including several CBR929's and RC51's as well as Yamaha R1's and Ninja's. I was personally amazed at the number of Blackbirds and I made friends with several of their owners. I only heard/saw of one crash, no details yet about injuries but the VFR800 looked pretty crumpled, tank and upper fairing looked totaled. The Vail Valley had more rain than usual but the weather on the whole was quite comfortable.
Had the pleasure of riding with new member Bill Ellis (VFR800), whom we welcomed in last months issue. Bill is the maintenance manager of the Cajun Electric plant near New Roads, LA. He has been riding about 30 years. Bill sent this photo from a recent trip to the Smokey Mountains:
Bill Ellis on his VFR800, my friends Deb Reid on her new Yamaha V-Star and Joe Lavrea on Honda Magna 750 and myself on the BlackBird Headed North from Fred, Louisiana into Mississippi on various back roads and then West on 84 to Natchez. We stopped a couple of times for gas and to cool off and rehydrate. From Natchez we crossed the river and had lunch at a nice seafood restaurant called the Sandbar. I understand that this place is named after the sandbar where the historic duel took place that involving Jim Bowie and that made the Bowie Knife famous. The food and service was very good. The restaurant is roomy and comfortable and we even found some shade trees to park under!
On the trip back down Highway 61 from Natchez we took a detour at Woodville through Pinkneyville on one of my favorite local twisty roads. That little loop put me at home just before the storm clouds broke loose but the rest of the group may have gotten a bit wet. It was probably a welcome relief from the heat!
Halfway between Silverton and Ouray, Colorado, where highway 550 clawed its way up the cliffs to Red Mountain Pass at 11,008 ft., the situation had gone from bad to worse. The winter had been hard on the road this year; frost heaves had left a ragged pattern of cracks in the asphalt - some of them 3" wide - that had been hastily patched and partially filled with concrete and tar. Whole stretches of pavement, damaged by rockslides, had been temporarily resurfaced and were as rough as a washboard. (I was actually thankful that the speed limits on the switchbacks up here were only 15mph!) On top of that, the "30% chance of rain" predicted for today had moved into the mountains (just as we passed the last pullout where we could have stopped to don our rainsuits) and had changed from drizzle to snow at 9,000 ft. Fortunately, the windshield on our GL1500 was at its lowest setting and I was able to see over the Plexiglas as it was iced over. At least the road surface hadn't started to freeze - yet. My hands were getting AWFULLY cold in my light, rain-soaked, summer touring gloves but I couldn't spare a glance at them; the road ahead held my complete attention. (It wasn't until I was forced to brush away the snow accumulating on my faceshield that I became aware of the ice encrusting the fingers and back of my gloves.) As we headed into a steep, triple corkscrew turn, posted at 10 mph, I thought: "At least it can't get any worse!" That was when the first lightning bolt lit up the clouds around us like a broadside of flashbulbs. (It's amazing how much brighter and louder lightning and thunder are when you're inside the cloud with them!)
Evie hadn't said a word to me for the last ten miles (or two eternities, whichever came first), but I could tell from the whispering coming through the intercom that she was going to catch up on missed novenas, clear back to third grade, before we were out of this. (I'd been telling our Guardian Angels for the last hour or so that they were doing an OUTSTANDING job, but if they wanted to call in reinforcements at any time, it was perfectly all right with me.)
Once past the Red Mountain Pass summit, it was all downhill to Ouray. I lost count of the switchbacks, and was fervently thankful for the Escapade trailer tagging along behind us because it acted like feathers on an arrow; stabilizing us on the steep downhill curves. As we entered the tunnel, at 9,500 ft., the clouds split apart with one parting lightning flash. The concussion rolled down the inside of the tunnel, deafeningly loud, like the backblast from a heavy artillery piece, but once we were through, we were out of the clouds and into the sunshine again!
By the time we had found a paved pullout in Ouray and had stopped to wring ourselves out, the sun was already drying out the pavement and the worst of the storm was pushing through the mountains to drop its moisture on Silverton, across the pass. Evie and I pulled on our winter gauntlets and put on our rainsuits for warmth. (The dry underwear would have to wait until we reached Gunnison, later that afternoon.) We gave thanks for our deliverance and went happily (though still somewhat soggy) on our way.
This year's 5,000-mile tour had begun on Sunday, May 14th, (the day after Evie's granddaughter, Brandy, graduated from college) with our first stop in Houston to visit Mike & Charlene Guillory, a couple of Sportbike riding friends and fellow HSTA'ers. We spent one extra day there, riding the scenic loops of North Houston's farm and market roads on their "spare bikes", (a V65 and a V45 Magna) while "Dream Weaver", and our color-matched trailer, "Dream Catcher", rested in the garage. (Evie got addicted to Honda V-4 power riding Charlene's V-45; we're combing the want ads now for a used '85 or '86 Magna. Anybody got one for sale?)
Shunning the Interstate in favor of the scenic routes, we headed up through Temple, TX., on State 36, to Abeline the next day. (When we checked into the motel, we found it had hit a record 106 degrees at nearby Dyess Airforce Base that afternoon.) At first light we were rolling up Hwy. 84, through Lubbock, Tx., and Clovis, New Mexico; our sights set on Albequerque. Strong headwinds slowed us down on highway 60, west of Fort Sumner, N.M., and got steadily worse as we went up highway 285 to catch Interstate 40 at Clines Corners, N.M. (We found out later that the winds had been in excess of 35 mph, with gusts up to 50!) We fought crosswinds on 285 so fierce that we were able to change lanes to the right while still heeled over 10 degrees to the left! As we refueled at Clines Corners, we talked to a weary, wind-burned (literally!) rider on a battle-scarred '97 SE who had fought the winds all the way down I-40 from Amarillo, Tx., and claimed he had been blown off the road three times. From the shell-shocked look in his eyes and the gouges in the chrome and paint on his 'Wing, I believed every word he said. He elected to check into the nearest motel and wait for the weather to blow over; Evie and I pushed on the remaining 60 miles to Albequerque. (It only took us an hour-and-a-half.)
The wind was only a whisper of its former self the next morning and after watching the local news footage of the fire raging through Los Alamos, we set out again, west on I-40 through Gallup, N.M. and, eventually, north on highway 191 to Chinle, Arizona, to view Canyon De Chelly (pronounced "De Shay") National Monument. This is the second-largest canyon in Arizona, after the Grand Canyon, and is home to Spider Rock pinnacle, one of the most-photographed spires in the Southwest. We spent an extra day there, took a jeep tour of the canyon with a Navajo guide, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Running the 100 miles back down through the Navajo Indian Reservation to Holbrook, Az., on I-40, we stopped and toured the Painted Desert in the Petrified Forest National Park. (If you think it's dry here, you should see this landscape; it's like the surface of another planet!)
After that, we spent a day on the Arizona back roads, enjoying the Sitgreaves National Forest, the Sierra Anchas Mountains and the Mogollion Mesa. We ended up in Cottonwood, Az., sitting by the motel pool, sipping good Merlot wine and watching a magnificent sunset. (Glorious!)
The next few days we spent enjoying places like the Red Rock canyons of Old Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon, Walnut Canyon, Meteor Crater and The Grand Canyon. We left a number of places, like Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument, for our next trip, but included Monument Valley, Utah, on our way north, into Colorado, to see Mesa Verde.
After our encounter with Red Mountain Pass on Hwy. 550 (nicknamed the "The Million Dollar Highway" because it cost a million dollars a mile to build) between Silverton and Ouray, crossing Hwy. 50's Monarch Pass, going east to Colorado Springs, was a snap! We spoke to several groups of Wingers, both at rest stops and at gas stations, who were with the Denver GWRRA chapter and were on their way down to Durango to a Memorial Day rally there.
Picking up I-70, and (a good tailwind) at Limon, Co., we pushed east to Kansas City; running at "Warp Seven" and riding tank-to-tank with no rest breaks, we made it in one day. Visiting with relatives took up two days before we began the return leg, back to New Orleans.
The rolling, green hills of Missouri along Hwy. 65 through Branson gave way to the gentle, Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and the tantalizing curves of scenic Ark. Route 7, and finally to the sweltering heat of "Home". (It took us two more days to re-adjust to the high humidity and to learn to use our gills again. In Arizona, 14% humidity is considered high!)
Altogether, we rode just under 5K miles in three weeks, visited eight states and met many interesting, kind and friendly people along the way. (Being limited to two pages an article means leaving out neat stuff like the BMW M/C rally in Strawberry, Az., the Iron Horse H.O.G. rally at the Jerome, Az., brewery, or the large number of tourists from the Netherlands we met who were touring the Southwest on rented Harley- Davidson motorcycles, but we'll be glad to tell you all about it; just ask!) Keep Riding and Smiling; We Do!!
Kent & Evie
Thanks Kent & Evie for that interesting tale
Don't forget to check with State Director Bob Hennessey on a weekly basis for info on Sunday Rides origination in the New Orleans/North Shore area. If the weather is not too hot I'll try to organize something during August for the Baton Rouge area.
Hey: North Louisiana! What have you folks been up to?
Louisiana Motorcycle Rights Assoc.
Check out LMRA.NET or call Angelo Piazza, LMRA Pres. at 318-253-6423 for information on this organization and the First Annual Freedom Rally, scheduled for Sept. 14 thru 17 in Marksville, La.
Well, that's all for now. Keep riding & smiling.
Bob Chappuis, Editor
7060 Barrow Creek Dr.
St. Francisville, LA 70775