After about a five year hiatus from riding motorcycles, I am back on the bike and really loving it. Riding is one of those things that gets inside and never goes away.
While I am a big fan of Honda motorcycles, with my last two bikes being a 2005 CRF450R and a dual sported 2006 CRF450X I have switched over to KTM.
When I chose KTM as my next bike, it was for three reasons...
1. Dual Sport ready with a license plate
2. Electric Start
3. Fuel Injection
Being able to have a license plate on a motocross bike is a huge factor and makes it legit to ride on street legal roads that are sometimes the only method of connecting two trails into a complete ride. Electric start is a huge convenience and fuel injection eliminates the mess of a carburetor and getting jetting perfect.
So, earlier this year, the 2015 KTM 350 EXC-F became part of SoCal Overland.
To me, the KTM 350 EXC-F is like the sharpest of knives with a trifecta of perfect power, light weight, and optimal design. This KTM provides pure confidence for carving trails and powering through technical single-track.
I have already completed some bolt on modifications as well as regeared the countershaft and rear sprocket. Let me know if you have any questions about this well thought out machine and I will also be posting up some more info on the mods that have been completed as well as pictures from the trail.
On the final day of our family road trip, we decided to take a dip in the hotel pool before jumping into the Jeep for the 500 mile drive home. While the kids played in the hotel pool, I chose the jacuzzi for my relaxation location.
Though, before leaving the hotel completely, I had the kids take a quick shower to wash the pool water from their hair. And for efficiency, they went into the hotel room shower-tub together. They were not in the shower for more than two minutes before I heard our little KK say "let's do a butt high five" which was immediatelty followed by our little guy being knocked down into the floor of the shower. Perhaps it was the excitement of having gone swimming or it being our final vacation day, either way, a butt high five in the shower can be a dangerous thing, so let this be a lesson to everyone to proceed with caution before doing a butt high five in the shower.
Fortunately, no one was hurt and there was only some crying and hurt feelings after the butt high five.
As we set out across the desert from Prescott, Arizona to San Diego, California I could not help but to recount all of the states we traveled through, nine in all:
9. New Mexico
While we were not able to thoroughly travel through each state, we did have some great experiences including:
117 degree heat driving across the desert in Mesquite, Utah (hotter than Baker, California) while enjoying a home made iced latte.
Brian Head, Utah where we reached the mountain top at 11,307 feet elevation. As well as seeing Yankee Meadow, where we were able to play amongst the Aspen Trees.
Idaho Falls and dinner at the Republic restaurant as well as almost getting blown off the road by heavy winds as we drove toward Victor, Idaho before crossing into Wyoming.
Taking pictures at the Wyoming border crossing, driving over Teton Pass, and driving into Jackson Hole. Enjoying Cowboy Coffee and playing soccer with the kids in the park.
Riding bikes for 16 miles in Grand Teton National Park, seeing the Grand Teton mountains for the first time, and watching a deer graze on grass outside our cabin window.
Seeing Old Faithful and the many natural wonders of Yellowstone, KK photobombing my video of Castle Geyser, our mistaken close encounter with a real live Bison, and crossing the Continental Divide in Wyoming.
Ascending the Bear Tooth Highway and taking in all of its natural beauty. Making new friends in Red Lodge, Montana and the help of a local to get a hotel room for the night.
Spending time with family in Joliet, Montana and properly celebrating the Fourth of July with loads of fireworks. Oh, and taking a rock to the Jeep windshield as a souvenir from Montana.
Driving through Flaming Gorge, Utah and watching the kids encourage the truckers to pull their air horns. And Jensen, Utah's Dinosaur National Park.
Driving the Unaweep scenic byway, hanging out in Telluride, Colorado, passing through Ouray in the rain that continued to pound on us all the way through Silverton. Staying at an Airbnb house in Durango and taking care of 11 chickens that provided us with fresh eggs each day. And riding the Durango-Silverton narrow-gauge train.
Passing through Four Corners and seeing more of beautiful Utah and its rock formations.
Taking a wrong turn on an Arizona highway and ending up in beautiful Prescott. And a "butt high five" in the shower to finish off an incredible trip.
As we pulled into our driveway at the end of this trip, we had driven a total of 3,618 miles. Our Jeep Wrangler ran flawlessly through extreme heat, rain, and hail.
We hope you enjoyed following us on our road trip around the western United States. And thanks for following us!
We started our day in Durango by collecting enough fresh eggs from the chickens so that we could have eggs for breakfast.
With a loose plan, we departed Durango at 10:00AM and set out for the Mesa Verde Indian ruins, however it turns out that there is a 45 minute drive past the entrance gate before getting to the ruins. Keeping in mind that we wanted to make it into Arizona, we made a U-turn and headed back out on the road knowing that someday we will be back with enough time to tour the old Indian living spaces.
We had also been talking about stopping at Four Corners so that the kids could experience being in all four states at once. However, there was quite the line of people waiting to take a picture on the giant round ground marker, so we decided to take a picture from on of the raised overlooks and save ourselves some time...which provided more time for souvenir shopping. I don't think we will need to stop at Four Corners in the future as the kids now know and remember (I hope) the names of the four states that meet: Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. Speaking of New Mexico, it is our ninth state visited on this family road trip.
Continuing on through Arizona, we headed for Tuba City, a destination I have been to before, but the kids have not. Why Tuba City? Is it for the heat, sand, and wind? Not really. Actually, just outside of town are dinosaur footprints preserved in the sandstone of the desert floor. After seeing real dinosaur bones at the Utah Dinosaur National Monument, we decided it would be fun to see these actual footprints that have been verified as real by paleontologists. Because these are on an Indian reservation, there is no actual fee, just a donation if you choose.
In addition to the dinosaur footprints, there are also a few fossilized dinosaur remains, including bones and dinosaur poo.
After our dinosaur adventure, we continued down the road, going further in a south-west direction. Being in this part of Arizona, we were hoping to complete a special side trip out to a waterfall, but we knew the out and back trip on the rocky dirt road would take 2-3 hours that we did not have, so we will need to plan another trip where we cover th south-west more closely.
We considered staying in Sedona, but most options were sold out. Continuing on, we seriously considered Scottsdale and found a reasonable hotel option that we wanted, but I guess when I saw the interchange sign from highway 89 to I-40 going to Los Angeles I was too quick to take the turn off instead of continuing onto highway 17. This cost us some time, but I managed to get a picture of the I-40 sign.
The I-40 route sent us west when we should have been going south, which meant our drive time to Scottsdale got a lot longer. By the time we realized the mistake, it was much too late for a correction, so we decided to change our destination city to Prescott and find a hotel for the night.
Overall, we drove 443 miles today in the course of 10 hours, for an average speed of 43 MPH.
Tomorrow, we will be wrapping up our family road trip tomorrow with our drive back to the San Diego area. Let's hope for a better average speed tomorrow as we cruise across the hot and arid high desert and into the cool coastal region.
We will also plan to summarize our trip with a final blog post tomorrow night. Thanks for following along and we hope you have enjoyed our stories.
Well, today we only drove our Jeep about 10 miles to the Durango train station. Arriving to the train station at the last minute, Kathy and the kids jumped out of the Jeep and ran to check in and board the train. After I paid to park, I had to run full speed to the train station and was the very last person to get on board.
The train ride up to Silverton takes close to four hours with some stops along the way. We chose to ride in one of the enclosed coach cars, which was a good idea as it started to rain halfway up the mountain and those in the open cars were getting rained on with wet soot and cinders from the steam engine.
The scenery is incredible as the train follows the river all the way up to Silverton. We decided not to hang around in Silverton very long as we had just passed through the day before when it was raining. So, today we had just enough time to have an ice cream and then board the bus for a 90 minute ride back to Durango, which worked out well as the weather in Silverton turned from blue skies to black and the rain started dumping across the town.
Back in Durango, we walked up and down Main Street shopping for some souvenirs, eventually having dinner at Fired Up Pizzeria. Here's our little Cowboy eating what he loves most.
And a selfie of me with this lonesome cowboy as we both try to keep a straight face.
And my favorite picture of the day was this one of the kids being all huggy.
Our days have been so full that it has been challenging to find time at the end of each day for the kids to pick their favorite picture and tell a short story about their adventure. However, that can only mean one thing and that is everybody is having fun.
Our adventure will be wrapping up over the next few days. On Saturday, we will leave Durango Colorado and make it half way home, ending somewhere in Arizona. We have a couple of long days of driving, but I am confident we will have some fun and interesting stories to talk share.
Well, we launched into Day 13 by driving from the Angler Inn in Placerville to Telluride; really just a short distance of about 10 miles. We first drove straight through town to get our views of the waterfalls and take a short walk, which is when I got this picture of our little Mouse on the trail in his "1 Jeep 2 Jeep..." SoCal Overland shirt.
We spent most of the day hanging out in the cool little town of Telluride, eating lunch, shopping, and getting a latte from the girls at The Coffee Cowboy.
I also liked this little sign that is attached to the wall at the gas station in Sawpit on the way to Telluride.
After spending most of the day in Telluride, we needed to start making our way toward Ouray, Silverron, and eventually Durango where we will plan to stay a few nights through an Airbnb connection.
The drive up over the pass was filled with heavy rains and wind along the cliff hanger highway. There is no margin for error here so I took it slow to help keep things calm inside the Jeep. And I did such a great job driving that I put the kids to sleep; this is one of the very first times on this trip that the kids have actually slept while we were driving and they missed all of the scary stuff.
Looking back at Ouray as we climbed the mountain to over 11,000 feet.
We reached the peak and remained motivated to keep going; we did have one minor side exploration, but decided to keep it limited as we knew we needed to get to Durango and have dinner and get to bed.
We arrived in Silverton, Colorado and it continued to rain on us so we decided to not get out and walk around. We made only two quick stops in Silverton, one for the potty at a Saloon, which happened to be next to the old jail and a second stop at a chocolate shop.
We finally made it down the mountain and into Durango arriving at our Airbnb house, which has a trampoline for the kids as well as 10 chickens. We are very excited to have fresh eggs for breakfast while this gun slinging Cowboy might have different plans for those chickens.
Tomorrow, we will take the bus up to Silverton and then ride the train (with all of the gold and silver in board) back to Durango.
We finished up our stay at the Jensen Inn Bed & Breakfast in Jensen, Utah with a yummy homemade breakfast.
The kids also surprised us and packed up our entire room at the Jensen Inn and loaded the Jeep. After the kids finished and we jumped in the Jeep, we waved goodbye and set out for Colorful Colorado.
Despite traveling light, it somehow takes us a long time to get packed up and onto the road each day. While we have gotten used to our late starts, it typically means that we do not arrive at our next destination until dinner time or later.
And while today's total mileage was under 300 miles traveling from Jensen Utah to Placerville Colorado, we still spent most of the day driving and sightseeing as we took the Unaweep scenic byway, also known as highway 141. The Unaweep highway travels deep into a gorge that gives the feeling of driving through the Grand Canyon with its red colored walls and lush green plants. However, don't be mistaken for this red colored river that parallels the highway is not the Colorado River, but the Dolores River.
Here are a few images from our beautiful drive along the Unaweep highway. The weather was a combination of sun, followed by rain that in some parts washed mud onto the two-lane road.
We arrived in Placerville, Colorado and are now just about 10 miles from Telluride. We enjoyed dinner at the lodge and are now looking forward to being in Telluride for the first time tomorrow.
Well, we landed at the Jensen Inn Bed & Breakfast in Jensen, Utah last night, got a very well deserved good nights sleep and enjoyed a homemade breakfast in the morning. After breakfast, we headed a short distance down the road to the dinosaur museum and displays at Dinosaur National Park on the Utah side.
We did a fair amount of exploring today and the kids had a great time, including touring of Josie Bassett's old house up the canyon where she had homesteaded and lived off the land for decades.
Here are a few pictures from the dinosaur museum, which is something that everyone should be able to visit in person.
We also viewed some petroglyphs along the way...
While I somehow forgot to take many pictures at the Josie Bassett house @wholefoodfam did take pics so check out her Instagram to see the little homestead house. But here is one picture of the the house and the short story...
We also took a short cut for about 20 miles off-road up to Blue Mountain Road, which brought us eventually to Harpers point, where you are supposed to be able to see the confluence of the Green River and the other famous River (to which the name slips my mind so I need to relook it up again, haha). The weather was very heavy at Harpers Point, so we decided that only I would face the weather on the 2+ mile round trip hike. All alone and part way into my hike, I thought to myself that there are probably bears and mountain lions roaming these grounds, so I decided to carry a few fists full of rocks for defense, just in case. Trying to keep a good pace and remain on high alert for predators along the lonely mountain top trail, I was constantly distracted by grumbling sounds, which I attributed to overhead commercial aircraft. Finally out at the end of the trail, I could NOT see the confluence of rivers, despite my searching, so took a few pictures and headed back along the trail with sharp rocks in hand. Part way back, I believe I found a spot at marker #11 where the confluence may be in sight, but it is just too far down deep in the canyon to actually see; helicopter anyone?
Regardless, here are a few pics and no, I was not eaten by a hungry bear or angry mountain lion, so it was a little bit of a relief to reach the trailhead where I had started out and toss my deadly rocks to the ground.
I should also mention that as we were ascending Blue Mountain up to 8,000 feet, passing cows along the way, that we also crossed into Colorado (our 8th state on our family road trip). The only way I new that we crossed into Colorado was by looking at the Jeep Garmin GPS. No other signs that we were in Colorado, just dirt, bushes, and cows. Yew-Ha! However, later in the day as we descended down from Harpers Point, there was an official "Colorado State Line" sign for which I had to take a picture.
Descending further down the mountain on paved roads, we entered back into Utah.
And headed back to Jensen and our Bed & Breakfast where we cooked outside and watched the kids run around, kicking their soccer ball.
Oh, and we picked up some fresh cow poo to which Kathy was not too fond of, especially since it was all up in the door handle. My new friend Alan of the Jensen Inn let me use his garden hose to give the Jeep a good washing. Here is the poo before I washed the Jeep.
Tomorrow, Day 12, we will hit the road again and venture deeper into Colorado. Keep a lookout for us and if you see us, give us a wave!
Well, we are working really hard to catch up and keep current on our blog posts during our family road trip around the western U.S. Our Day 10 was defined by driving and then more driving, followed by a little more driving.
We departed Billings, Montana at 10AM and drove 520 miles through Wyoming and into the north-east corner of Utah (Jensen, Utah). It was a long day of driving and we have to appreciate the kids for being super-troopers on this long drive. Yes, they have iPads to play with, but they have taken more interest in drawing and coloring books, so we have been picking up more crayons, markers, and coloring books along the way. On a full-day drive, each kid wil color in a complete book and do some nice work given the confines and sometimes bumpy ride in the Jeep.
Of course yesterday's drive was especially long as we were driving all back roads, slowing down for each small town and sometimes getting stuck behind a big rig; however, those big rigs can really move along at a good pace, so you have to keep a lookout for them as sometimes they'll come up on your rearend and turn up the heat.
We drove through Flaming Gorge, which may be a less known spot on your map, but quite beautiful and worth a drive on your next road trip. There is a large lake and Dam as well as the beauty of Flaming Gorge itself. Something tells me that these parts are less discovered than other places like Grand Canyon that get overrun with tourists, so keep this one a secret, OK?
While I could talk about the crazy weather we experienced driving across Wyoming and into Utah, which included wicked rain, I'm taking full-speed windshield wipers (and still could not see), as well as the most incredible spaghetti lightening, and wind so strong it was blowing us onto the shoulder of the road at some points, I'll tell you that there were not many places to get a decent meal on this route, so we finally gave in and ate at Wendy's drive-thru.
While most of us ate, due to just being hungry, our little mouse was on a food boycott. I think the long drive had gotten to him and he needed a break. So, we pulled off along the two-lane highway along Flaming Gorge so both kids could stretch their legs. This roadside break for the kids quickly turned into a roadside competition with them running laps around the Jeep. And as the Mouse completed each of his laps, he took one or two bites of his hamburger which had him feeling happy.
To spice up this roadside event, we decided to do some good 'ol fashioned airhorn pulling with the truckers that were passing by. I remember doing this when I was a kid and I think that most people have forgotten about this and how much fun it can be for the kids and for the truckers. Check it out here...
Here are a few more pictures from Day 10, including the dam, bridge, and Flaming Gorge. The pictures don't do justice for this beautiful place, so take my word for it and put this route on your next road trip, just don't tell anybody else that this beautiful place exists!