Where I left off in Part I, I was camped at Craig, Colorado in a KOA campground. My evening meal was the same as my breakfast, instant oatmeal but in the morning instead of herbal tea, I had instant coffee. Traveling light means compromising. After breakfast I loaded up, quite early as it was warm enough and why not? Plus I was sure the weather was going to get hotter the closer to Salt Lake City I got. The western US was experiencing record heat and epic level wildfires. The smoke from California fires could be seen and smelled in SLC. My destination for the day would be another KOA somewhere in SLC. I’d never been in this town for anything more than an overnight on a motorcycle crossing back in 1982 when the Salt Flats were flooded across I-80.
With this photo, I’ll introduce the most cautionary of tales from this entire trip.
What is seen in the above photo is a restroom along US 40 just east of Elk Springs, Colorado. Being of a certain age, I don’t pass up too many opportunities for a restroom or water. It being early with the heat of the day just beginning to be a faint hint in the air, I pulled up and parked. Figuring on a short stop, I still grabbed my phone off the bike along with my keys. Still wearing my helmet I made my way through the door. The door hanging open as you see in the photo, I pulled it nearer to closed, but it swung freely back to near fully open. Figuring the traffic was light, but there still might be some passerby who would not wish to catch a glimpse of me, here, I swung the door closed.
I finished up my business, washed my hands with sanitizer and once dried, reached for the door. It was latched fast. I did not recall throwing the lock. Because the door swung outward, I could not see the latch of either then bolt or at the handle. I pulled off my helmet and without my hearing aids, I could not hear the mechanisms move, but felt I could feel the top deadbolt as open. The door was well and truly stuck fast closed. Hmm.
I called 911. Yes, talked to the rural operator/dispatcher who said a state trooper was probably fifteen minutes to half hour away. I had water a fully charged phone and time. Thankfully the area was relatively clean and as pit toilets go, with the lids closed not that ripe. It was warm enough to open my jacket, but not so warm I needed to remove it. That was good. I was comfortable to a point, but annoyed a bit. I decided to work at the lock. No fasteners were visible from the inside. I saw the door had a beaten bow to it, so I worked at wrenching it this way and that. Lifting or pushing down on the handle, then rotating in turn. Trying all the combinations I could imagine. I finally got it to click or spring free and pushing it open I nearly jumped free of the interior as if the door my suddenly spring closed like the trap it had been. I set my helmet on the bike and called the 911 operator back. Of course I got the same helpful woman who I informed I had made my escape. We chuckled over that a bit. That type II type of fun. It was immediately funny, but not at all while it was happening. I also made a point of inspecting the door and latch to discover what was the cause and was not successful in that in anyway. I related such information to the operator, who said a highway crew would be made aware.
After I took the above photo, I remounted the 990R and headed off on my way thankful I’d only burned about 45 minutes of my day there.
The Salt Lake City KOA I had reserved turned out to be well shaded and close, but not that close to food and fuel. The campground is located across from an industrial area and along a commuter rail track and somewhat busy four lane road and surrounded on three sides by residential area. Quiet enough for my poor hearing to get a good nights sleep. The campground is mostly big motorhomes, there are showers, laundry, pool, hot tub and small shop. The campsite itself had a lamp that could be switched on or off along with an outlet and fresh water. This would be home for the next few days while I met up with friends for the sidecar races west of town at the Utah Motorsports Campus. The race meeting was part of the Vintage racing series.
Racetracks in the desert are never picturesque. Drab, dull and hot. Well here there were great garages and the meeting was run more like a club getting together for fun than sectioned racing. Which translates to no gate fees. Lunch trucks are available for food.
Walking around the garages and pits and displays there was a lot to see. Plenty of vintage race bikes. The Aprilia in this photo was once raced by Jeremy McCoy.
The food was good.
This was most of the sidecar racers and crew assembled for a group photo.
At the awards dinner later, I ran into an old friend who I used to work as a BMW motorcycle mechanic with. He had won his class championship.
I would later catch up with him in Denver at his shop where we talked for most of an afternoon.
The next day was back to the track mostly for fun and walking around.
Kids dreaming of racing glory and fun. This rig was designed and built by Bernard who is the lead at Jay Leno’s Garage. Quite an interesting guy. Another motorcyclist I met at the camp ground and talked into coming to see the racing, spent most of both days talking to Bernard.
The next morning we would split up and head off in different directions. One headed home to Illinois and two of us toward Colorado. I didn’t really have much idea where we were going.
We were chased into Steamboat Springs by rain and thunder. At the KOA on the west side of town we stopped and made the decision to get a motel instead of betting on the weather. We got off the bikes and into the lobby just as the kids opened up. Soaking everything but, happily us. A room and walking distance to food. The rain would stop about halfway through unpacking gear for the night into the room. We changed and cleaned up a bit as things dried up more, then walked downtown for dinner.
Too much good food, a walk back to the motel ended the day.
We headed south to Gore pass over to Kremmling, then on to Estes Park and up the mountain to the top of Trail Ridge Road. We had coffee and a snack up there as it was cold and wet outside.
At the top we shot some photos and walked around, but really walking fast or even slightly uphill had me gasping for breath. Living at nearly sea level, even being a bicyclist had not mitigated this level of elevation gain.
I grabbed a selfie, then we headed into traffic and down the hill eventually getting to Golden for snacks, then I called a friend and went to stay with him up the canyon.
And with that I’ll end this part. Part III will conclude the recounting of this trip and the remainder of the year.