And When I was 60 I Was a Vagabond Biker

The “Northwest Passage” Odyssey of 2004

Well, a vagabond at least for a few weeks.
No, there is nothing to be ‘proven’ in a venture of touring on a motorcycle for almost 7,000 miles — merely a need to satisfy a ‘wanderlust’ that everyone feels from time to time.

This is the story of such a wanderlust that probably has merely whetted, not satisfied, the appetite.  It is the story of first a wonderful family vacation and then a trip with a good friend to do something that most people will never have the opportunity to do, or even to think of doing.

We saw the beauty of America, experienced the vagaries of Mother Nature, and engaged many interesting people along the way. It is my pleasure to share some of the experience through my inadequate words and barely adequate photography but if any of your wanderlust is thusly satisfied then I am pleased.

Near the bottom of this post is a list of links to many of the places we saw.

We covered Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California and Arizona.

Some of the highlights included:

  • 8 days in Lake City, CO
  • The world’s roughest road (456 in NW Oklahoma enroute Raton, NM — but scenic!)
  • Camping in the Jim Bridger Forest just NE of Montpelier, ID
  • Jackson Hole, WY
  • Viewing the Grand Tetons
  • Yellowstone
  • 3 nights and 2 days of touring Glacier NP
  • Hike to Avalanche Lake in Glacier
  • Camping in the forest under Mt. Hood
  • California Redwoods and the “Big” Tree
  • Lake Tahoe, camped by the lake

Some of the best roads/routes were:

  • SR12 Trinidad, CO to U.S. 160
  • Southfork/Creede/Lake City
  • Lake City/Gunnison/CR742 over Cottonwood Pass
  • CO SR82 over Independence Pass to Aspen and on to Glenwood Springs
  • WY SR 530 along West side of Flaming Gorge Reservoir
  • U.S. 2 from Browning to West Glacier
  • Going-to-the-sun road up to Logan Pass in Glacier
  • U.S. 2 to Libby, Eureka, U.S. 93 back to Kalispell
  • Kalispell/US 93/SR28/SR200/SR135 to I90
  • Coeur d’Alene/US 95/Lewiston/US12 to Umatilla,OR
  • Oregon SR35/US26 around Mt. Hood
  • US 101 on the entire Oregon Coast
  • CA 299 to Redding/44 to Lassen/89 to Lake Tahoe

The “worst” of the trip:

  • Craig, CO KOA (can you spell T R A I N?)
  • Waiting for tire change in Post Falls, ID

and the most disappointing:

Columbia River Gorge which was long, hot and boring. Not up to the hype.

The longest day of riding was

Cedar City, UT to Santa Rosa, NM — 695 miles.

Most rain:

Albuquerque to Clines Corner.

Browse and feel free to log your own observations, similar experiences or comments.

(these links need to be cleaned up) Look at the PINK links in the left column to navigate directly to the entire “2004 Trip” section or the “Trip Images” or just the “CapnJ’s Blogs” about the trip. Or, you can click here for full trip album — caution — it’s big

gil — a/k/a ‘Captain Justice’

Original Itinerary with lots of links

The Trip of July 2004. Initial itinerary is:
Fri 7/2 (if not 7/1) depart. Arrive Jones Valley same day.

Sun 7/4 depart Jones Valley. Arrive Raton, NM – 760 miles.

Mon 7/5 Raton to Lake City, CO – 250 miles. Map.
We’ll pass thru the Creede area and the headwaters of the Rio Grande.

We’ll go over Slumgullion Pass which is about where Jennifer was asking just what I meant by the primitive campground on Lake San Cristobal near Lake City, which was formed out of the Slumgullion Slide.  To call it a gorgeous lake is a serious understatement.  Here is a view from about where we camped in “ought one.”

Stay at Henson Creek RV Park. We have reservations on the beach.  Some area photos.

Tue 7/6 Mess around town, arrange for jeep.

Wed 7/7 Tour of Alpine Loop — full day trip. More here.

Thur 7/8 Depart — Jennifer: 938 miles back to HSB … arrive Saturday. Map

I will be headed to the Paonia rally and not far from Lake City will pass the Black Canyon of the Gunnison.  Jennifer will remember the fantastic road from there past Crawford where Joe Cocker’s place is, and on to Paonia.

That’s about the plan for the first stage. From Paonia I’ll trail along with some of the “rolling rally” to Spokane Washington before I break off to head to Portland, Oregon for my judicial conference (edit: did not happen — came to my senses!).

The “Rolling Rally” group’s schedule:
7.11 Sun. (PM) Paonia, CO to Vernal, UT (210 mi)
7.12 Mon. Vernal, UT to Jackson, WY (320 mi)
7.13 Tues. Jackson, WY to Pine Creek, MT (196 mi)
7.14 Wed. Pine Creek, WY to St. Mary, MT (340 mi)
7.15 Thu. St. Mary, MT to Spokane, WA (315 mi)
7.16 Fri. Spokane, WA (0 mi)
7.17 Sat. (PM) Spokane, WA to Winthrop, WA (188 mi)
7.18 Sun. Winthrop, WA to Queets, WA (324 mi)
On Saturday I’ll peel off for Portland and leave the group. Will be in Portland until 7/21. I like the rest of this route … may use it for my own return.

7.19 Mon. Queets, WA to North Bend, OR (378 mi)
7.20 Tues. North Bend, OR to Shingletown, CA (368 mi)
7.21Wed. Shingletown, CA to Lee Vining, CA (364 mi)
7.22 Thu. Lee Vining, CA to Cedar City, UT (422 mi)
7.23 Fri. Cedar City, UT to Cortez, CO (444 mi)
7.24 Sat. Cortez, CO to Tucumcari. NM (430 mi)
7.25 Sun. Tucumcari, NM to DFW

Links to “stuff we might see” and places to stay along the way:

North Cascades National Park

Olympic National Park

Glacier National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Grand Teton National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Zion National Park

Cedar City, UT C of C

Crater Lake National Park

Grand Coulee Dam

Jackson, WY Lodging

KOA Cedar City, UT

KOA Jackson West – Teton Village

KOA Livingston (Pine Creek) WY

KOA St. Mary, East Glacier, WY

KOA Vernal, UT

Lee Vining, CA

Livingston, WY Lodging

Port Townsend / Keystone Ferry Schedule

Port Townsend / Keystone Ferry Fares

East Glacier Lodging

St. Mary Lodge

Trinidad, CO Lodging

Vernal, UT Lodging

About Gil Jones

CPA/Attorney/Judge by training and trade. Hobby nut at heart with BMW m/c, computers, ham radio, kayak fishing, photography, hiking and, starting in 2010 some semi-serious running and bicycling (road and mountain bikes). Retired after 16 years on a Texas District Court bench and since 2013 have been mediating cases. I am a Credentialed Distinguished mediator (TMCA).
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