Our first order of business was “Get the HELL out of this Shit Hole!” I awoke to the noise of Sean packing up his bike at 5:00AM. John and I were not about to complain. We took our showers, packed it up and stopped at the office to check out. Behind the counter was the same lady from the night before, albeit in a differently patterned mumu.
“You were the guys referred to by that lady over there at the other hotel, huh?” She inquired to John and I.
“Yup.” I said.
“Yeah she had some nerve saying she doesn’t recommend us. Her place aint all that. My husband is in construction and worked on her place and said she had rats in her walls this big…”
Right then John cut her off.
“Well I wouldn’t get so HIGH and MIGHTY about THIS damn place lady. Let me tell you something… this was the worst hotel room I’ve EVER stayed in! There was broken glass, dirt.. The sheets look like they were pissed in, and there were GODDAMN earwigs and ticks crawling on the walls! Should I go on?”
The lady was blind-sided by John’s remarks. She turned to look at me blankly.
“He’s right. You know if this were a $50 room I wouldn’t complain, but for a $150 room this is ridiculous.” I said “And another thing… we have pictures of all the damage to the room so I better not see anything on my credit card for that. And if I do… we’ll be back to straighten it out. We only live a few hundred miles from here.”
“Well I’m terribly sorry about that, I’ll speak to the owner and see if he’ll credit some of the cost back to your card.” she apologized.
The lady was nice, and I felt bad for getting cross with her. Had she not began to insult the other lady who was so kind to help us the night before we probably would have bitten our lips and never said a word, but something about her tone fired off both John and I.
We had breakfast in downtown Durango, which was a pretty cool little place, and then started over to Durango Harley-Davidson. We got to the dealership a little early and started chatting with an Australian couple in the parking lot who was also waiting for the doors to open for business. So what they did every year was come to America and buy a new Harley-Davidson. Then they spent 3 months here riding around the U.S. on the new bike. After 5,000 or 7,000 miles they ship the bike back to Australia and sell it for enough money to cover the cost of the bike and all the expenses of their trip. I guess Harleys are quite a rare commodity in Australia. What a brilliant gig!
Shopping around the Durango H-D for a bit guess who we ran into? Our buddy from Four Corners with the car whip. We chatted him up a bit and told him our horror story about Spanish Trails Inn. He was riding to Denver that day for a party all the way from Sante Fe the day before. He was a nice guy and we shot the shit for a bit and then part ways. Our route for the day would take us through the “Million Dollar Highway” to Ouray, and we were looking forward to the cooler weather.
The “Million Dollar Highway” is basically highway US-550 from Durango to Montrose. It’s full of steep grades, hair pin turns, and ledgy elevations. There are a number of photo opportunities and old mines along it with quite a bit of history. We rode a steady pace through only scraping the floorboards and pipes a few times. It’s a beautiful ride but nothing I felt was any better than riding over Independence Pass in Aspen, or Tioga Pass in California, yet somehow it earned the name “Million Dollar Highway.” When we reached Ouray it was time for a break. Ouray was a small little town nestled in a gulch along the Million Dollar Highway. It was filled with small hotels and Bed and Breakfasts. If I were to return here it would be with Kim and we would make a weekend out of it. There were lots of riders with adventure bikes and motor cross bikes stopping in for gas at the station we were at. Apparently there are some awesome trails in the area for off-road riding, but we were on street bikes so we’d have none of that side quest.
We road from Ouray to Ridgeway and onto Montrose where we stopped at Montrose Harley-Davidson for a drink of water and bathroom break. Sean and I bought some shirts and looked around at the bikes they had on display. The dealership was converted from a gas station and quite small, yet the most unique H-D I’ve ever seen. They removed the pumps and put up displays with Colorado Maps in their place so that lost bikers could simply roll in and take a look at where they were going. The staff was nice and they had losts of unique items we didn’t usually see in a Harley dealership like H-D rocking horses, miniature models, and other eclectic things. I picked up a shirt for Kim and we spent the better part of an hour just checking it out.
We then rode East along US-50 to HWY-92 through the Black Canyon. It was already 5:00pm and the routes we chose had no fast straightaways, but rather a bunch of slow, hairpin turns. When we entered the Black Canyon it was a sight to behold. Although not as Grand as the Grand Canyon, it was narrow and deep enough to fit the Empire State Building. HWY-92 is a fun road though the canyon with lots of curves and hair pins, great for cruising in third gear and hitting it. Of course, when we arrive we find out that about 14 miles of it is under construction, leaving only deep gravel roads. That sucks. For those of you who don’t ride, riding in gravel is one of the suckiest things you can do on a motorcycle. And this wasn’t asphalt with some gravel on it, it was raw, 4in deep, coarse gravel. We made the best of it and took our time which impacted our arrival time. We were shooting for home today and it would be a shame to have to stay in a hotel in Hotchkiss only 62 miles from home. We managed to move on and still stop for photo opps. This was Sean’s first time in the Black Canyon so we had to show him the views.
By around 6:30pm we stopped in Crawford for a Gatorade and a Snickers. We were beat after riding all the way from Durango and needed just a minute to recollect and finish our trip. It always seems to happen like this… you’re on a trip and it’s a great adventure until you’re within 100 or so miles of home, then it becomes a race to get there. From here we knew the road well, we rode it quite frequently, and we wouldn’t stop again until Carbondale.
We rode through Hotchkiss and gave a nod to Zack’s Restaurant, one of our usual stops. As it was already about 7:00PM and we had at least another 70 or so miles, we pressed on without our usual BBQ ribs and Miler High Life. By this time of the day the wildlife starts to emerge from the roadsides and we had to be extra careful to keep a watchful eye. As we got up to about 70mph just after Somerset by the Coal mine I saw John’s tail light glow and his rear tire lock up. I quickly scanned for deer but saw nothing. He waved me to stop as I approached so I locked them up as well. Just then a family of Wild Turkey ran out from the brush and across our path. Had he not had a quick eye, we would have all been eating turkey for dinner… and not in a nice way.
We rode along the Paonia reservoir and past Marble and Redstone… we were at the home stretch now. John and I passed a few RVs and Sean got caught behind, so when we arrived in Carbondale we pulled over at the Casual Corner and waited for Sean. I called Kim and told her where we were and she raced over to greet us. When Sean arrived we inspected the bikes and found that John’s was leaking oil from the head. After a moment’s inspection we soon realized that we were home and our trip was over. Kim arrived in time to snap our photo in the last few minutes of daylight. We were tired and satisfied that we had a good ride in the company of friends. John’s wife Kacie was pregnant with their first child so it was uncertain when he’d be able to get a ride like this in again… but this was one for the books. We parted ways as John head back to New Castle and Sean and I followed Kim home in the Land Cruiser. And the only thing on our mind was …
“So where are we going for next year’s trip?”
Day Five Photos: