Posted by: Beemer Bob | October 4, 2011

2011/09 – Bri and I


Bri and I – A new adventure is about to begin!

Hello all. Some of you may have thought I died or quit riding. Well the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. My wife is a school teacher (someone in this household needs to have a job) and as such, she is off during the summer. My sweet wife that lets me go on my adventures prefers that I not take long trips while she is off. For some odd reason she wants me around when she is off. I have no idea why.

I’ve been doing short trips here in Texas and while those were fun, they were not blog worthy. Well school is back in session so it’s time to take an epic trip.

As most may know, it has been hot in Texas this year. VERY HOT! I live in Central Texas and we have broken numerous records with this heat spell. The record heat has been combined with a record drought so it’s time to head to the cool mountains of Colorado.

This trip will be most unique because my youngest son (Brian, age 31, sometimes called Bri) is joining me. Brian took a class to learn how to drive a sidecar rig and got a motorcycle endorsement on his license so we will be taking Lyekka the Russian (a Ural motorcycle with a sidecar). Brian and I will switch between being the driver or being the monkey in the sidecar. Brian has no interest in motorcycles and no interest in a quest to travel the continental divide or other such foolishness. Why then, you may ask, is Bring coming on this trip. TO BE WITH ME! Although Brian worded it much better, but with my tendency to ride into foolish areas or try to negotiate turns at 100 mph, he wanted to go on a trip with me before I manage to kill myself.

So this will be a father/son trip. Just the two of us. We have never done anything like this before and this will be very meaningful for the both of us.

The weather here in Texas has been unbearable. As of today we have had over 80 days of temperatures over 100 so far this year. We have broken several all-time records concerning the heat. So we are heading to the cool mountains of Colorado. This journey will begin Sept. 6. We felt it best to wait until after Labor Day so that the venues we want to visit would be less crowded and cheaper.

Beemer Bob

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*****          Day 1         *****
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We are off. The trip has begun! Bri is driving the rig and I am driving the truck.
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Start of our trip began a little questionable because of the wildfires. The storm that drenched Louisiana and Mississippi with tons of water also brought central Texas heavy winds. But because hurricanes rotate counter-clockwise the winds that hit Texas had blown over very dry land. So all we got was hot, dry wind. After a summer of record breaking heat and drought, this was a disaster waiting to happen. Well it happened! Yesterday Texas was on fire! Wildfires all over the place. After this drought, almost anything would start a fire and the dry winds fed them to an uncontrollable state traveling through the woods at a fast speed. Brian lives in an area where a fire had broken out and all the roads to his house had be blocked. This presented a problem in that he could not get to his house to get his boots and clothes. I suggested to Brian that we delay the trip until he can get his clothes but he was anxious to get going and wanted to go without his stuff. So off we go, but I fear that running around the snowcapped mountains without any clothes might be too cold.

We start out about 8 in the morning. Brian drives the rig and I drive the truck

Our first stop is the Koffee Kup Restaurant in Hico for breakfast.

At this point we switch and I drive the rig while Brian drives the truck.

After a nice hardy breakfast we continue northeast. Even though we had a big breakfast, by early afternoon we were feeling the need for nourishment. So we pulled into a Dairy Queen for a wholesome lunch of blizzards.

By late afternoon we make it to our first destination on our journey, Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo.

The home of the free 72oz steak! Wow, what a deal! Well there is a catch; you have to eat the steak and all the trimmings including baked potato within an hour. If you succeed, the meal is free. If you fail, the charge is $72.

When we lived in Colorado (20+) years ago, this was our stop over place when we would come back to Texas to visit family. Therefore we had a lot of fond memories of this place.

This is a fun place and if you are ever in Amarillo, I recommend you stop.

Part of the ranch is a motel redone like an old time western town. We checked in to the dodge house hotel for the night.

The motel had a Texas shaped pool, but it was hard to get a proper picture, so trust me on this, the pool was Texas shaped.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

At the shooting gallery

Just sitting around for a while

I wish I was big. I wish I was big

After a hard day at the ranch, it was time for a homemade beer

Time for a steak

And a little music while you eat (click on picture for video)
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Beer in a boot
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And to end the day

G’nite Y’all

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*****          Day 2         *****
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In the morning, we swagger on over to the Big Texan for a hardy Texas breakfast. Afterwards we pack up and leave our rustic hotel.

We drive through the Texas panhandle, every now and then we even see a tree. We then cross over into New Mexico where Brian hangs around.

I, on the other hand, shimmy up the pole. This is a picture of me coming down from the top of the sign.

Through the northern section of New Mexico is a place called Capullin National Monument and it is the site of a now dead volcano. You can drive up a narrow winding road to the top but trailers are not permitted, so we unloaded Lyekka and rode her. I drove, with Brian in the tub. It was a lot of fun, but Brian did not get to see most of the views during the ride. On the way up we were on the outside lane with a drop off to our immediate right. As we would round a curve with a magnificent view I would tell Brian to look at the fantastic view, but instead he would look down at the floorboard of the sidecar and say something like “I saw it”, but never look up. Other words he said sounded like a prayer. It was funny, well at least i thought it was funny 🙂

Well we made it the top without going over the edge. Some views from the top

The crater

We return to the bottom without incident and Brian was much happier with us being on the inside lane.
We continue our journey; by time we get to Raton, NM we feel the need for a wholesome nutritious lunch, so of course that means Dairy Queen. I have a small blizzard

Brian, however, orders a supper size cone.

The monkey is happy about reaching Colorado.

I’m happy but not quite as excited.

We continue on to the town of Walsenburg, TX. This is the end of the trailering, time to unload Lyekka. We store the truck and trailer at a storage facility and it’s Lyekka from here on.

Some questions were raised as to why we were trailering instead of riding the entire way. As exciting as it is to ride through the flat boring panhandle, Brian has limited time off from work, so it was quicker to trailer to where the fun is. So anyway, we now leave the comfort of an enclosed truck and into the elements.

From Walsenburg to Pueblo, the winds were very high that made the ride a little less than pleasant. We encountered some light rain and with the high winds the drops stung slightly where it hit your skin. We stopped for a short break in Pueblo and then heading on to Colorado Springs. The winds died down and the ride became more pleasant but a tad cool. By time we got to Colorado Springs, the sun had falling and the temperatures dropped. Then it started raining. Uch

We ride on to Manitou Springs and stop at a really neat place to eat, Stagecoach Inn. We got a nice table next to the fireplace so we could thaw.

Yum yum

After we check in to a local motel (Pikes Peak Inn), the rain had stopped so we walk to the Manitou downtown area and find the shops and arcade have closed but the bars are open

That bar was a bit wild for these mild mannered Texans so we find a tamer place for a night cap (or two).

After a while we head back to our motel and deem the day done.

G’nite Y’all

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*****          Day 3         *****
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In the morning we head over to the Garden of the Gods.

The Kissing Camels

We come across this big ol’ boulder about to crash down on the citizens of Colorado Springs, but Super Bri jumps into action to save the day.

He holds the boulder in place until the city can send in heavy equipment. Bri, Our hero.

Brian is not too thrilled with the idea, but I persuade him that we should do Pikes Peak. So off we go.

We ascended about 8,000 feet with no problem. A scenic photo opp.

The peak covered by the cloud is Pikes Peak

We find Big Foot

As we gain altitude, it starts to get chilly so we done some extra layers.

After a while the incline becomes very steep and Lyekka is huffing and puffing to continue on. A few times we would stop to let the engine cool.

A few more scenic pictures once we start getting into the clouds

We plug along at a very slow pace. For a while I was thinking Brian was going to need to get out and push. But we continue and …

We go inside the warmth of the summit building and have some famous Pikes Peak donuts.

We are completely engulfed in fog with no visibility. Following are some of the majestic views from the summit.

Stay tuned to find out if the dynamic duo makes it down from the mountain.
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As previously stated, the fog/cloud was as thick as pea soup and when we were leaving, it started to snow. Well not exactly snow, nor was it sleet. It was more like “snow pellets”. Not only was it cold, but I couldn’t see 2 feet in front of me.

We find a car about to leave and I ask him to slowly lead the way for us because it was difficult for me to see. The way I figure it, if I see them go over the edge I would know to stop. This seemed like a good plan, but the idiot did not turn on his lights so without tail lights I quickly lost sight of him. I could only see him when he used his brakes or now and then he would stop waiting for me to run into him. My face shield had fogged/iced over and I could not see through it so I had to raise the shield and “face” the elements. COLD!

We are going very slowly and after a while some cars behind us pass us, so we are now on our own. All I can see is the yellow dividing line immediately in front but can’t see upcoming switchbacks, so I’m crawling along. As the roads are wet and potentially icy, Brian is ready to jump out of the tub. I ask him what he is doing and he tells me “if this thing goes over the edge, I’m out of here”.

We finally make it down to the Glen Clove Lodge where there is brake check point where they check to see if your brakes are overheating. If so, they instruct you to stay at the lodge for a while to let your beaks cool. I tell the guy no need to check us because we are going to stop anyway to change our underwear.

By now all is dry and the incline is not nearly as steep so after a break at the lodge to thaw out, we proceed on back to Manitou Springs.

On the way we pass through Santa’s Workshop in the town of North Pole. When we lived in the area a long time ago, Brian was very young (about 5 or 6, I think) and we took him here a few times.

After enjoyed a celebratory class of wine to toast our feats of the day, we take a walking tour of downtown Manitou Springs. Manitou is an interesting hippy sort of place.

In the center of town is an old arcade with several buildings full of arcade and midway types of games The one we liked best was the penny arcade full of real old time games.

After touring some of the odd shops (including one that sold books and equipment for growing “hemp” at home), we head to a place called “The Keg” (I think they sold beer), and ordered their filet mignon burgers.

We are done for the day.

G’nite Y’all

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*****          Day 4         *****
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Our next destination is Cripple Creek. On the way we stop by the small town of Green Mountain falls. Brian is standing in front of the building that housed a day care center where he terrorized the other little kids when we lived in nearby Woodland Park. It is now a private residence.
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Onward we pass through our old stomping grounds of Woodlawn Park. This was our donut shop that we loved to frequent.

We take the “scenic” route to Cripple Creek and divert to the old mining town of Victor. This old town is just about dead.

We continued onward to Cripple Creek. When we lived in Colorado, Cripple Creek was a quaint little old mining town that had interesting shops. Cripple Creek voted in gambling; now the cute shops have been replaced with casinos.

It’s been over 20 years since we lived in Colorado Springs but we had come back to visit a little over 10 years ago and at that time, Brian was one month away from being 21 and they would not allow him inside. So we never got to even see the inside until this trip.

Motels were plentiful but pricy; everything was $100 or more. We ended up checking into the Grand King Mountain Inn, a nice place high on a hill. We found out later that if we had taken the time to get a “players card” at a casino, it would have been cheaper, oh well.

We then take a shuttle back to the downtown area. First thing we did was to take a ride on an old train that took us to some of the gold mines in the area.

Along the way we viewed some awesome views and the train engineer provided interesting narration during the trip. Following are some of the views from the train.


While it’s still light we take a walking tour of the area. This is Brian in front of one of the many Parlor Houses) brothels that once existed on what was described as one of the most sinful streets in America. This house is the only one that remains (no it is no longer in “business” 😦 ), now it is just a museum.

There are a bunch of casinos here, so we started at one end of town and then worked our way back. Neither of us are much into gambling so we just played the penny slots. We had this mission to get a souvenir at every casino. Now days you insert a dollar but when you “cash out”, the machine will print off a ticket that you then can take to the cashier to get real money. What we would do was play our dollar down to 1 cent and then cashout and get our certificate. These 1 cent tickets were our souvenirs. If we ever got ahead of our $1 investment, we would cash out and get real money.

The fact that we were playing, we would get free drinks so a buck for a beer was ok. We had a great steak and eggs meal at one of the casinos for only $2.99 which, with free wine was a good deal.

We continue this silliness of collecting souvenir tickets at casinos.

Overall, Brian is down only a few bucks and I’m probably down $10+. At our last stop for the evening, I win over $40 at a penny slot. So all in all, we had our all our meals, drinks and an evening of fun fully paid for. A great way to end the day.

We call for the shuttle to bring us back to the motel.

G’nite Y’all

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*****          Day 5         *****
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We begin the day with a great breakfast supplied at a local casino courtesy of our hotel. It was a casino that we had not yet visited so of course we had to try our luck at the dollar slots. But no wins today, but at least we did get our $.01 souvenir winning tickets. Fiddle with this and I fiddle with that, but nothing helps. I consider seeing if we can continue our trip through Phantom Canyon with the throttle problem. I quickly abandoned that idea and we go in search of a mechanic. Nothing in Cripple Creek, so we head to the town of Florissant because we are told there is a good mechanic there. We risk it and ride there only to find the mechanic took off today to attend a car show in Cripple Creek (where we just left). Using the telephone and phone book, we are able to locate a HD mechanic all the way back in Woodland Park but after describing my problem, he seems to feel he can fix it.. Out of other Options, we make our way back. After some searching, we locate the mechanic and after about an hour of fiddling with it, he is able to repair the doodad that connects to the thingamagig that makes the whatsit work.

So… Let the journey continue. We make our way back to Cripple Creek. We stop and have another $3.00 steak and eggs meal at a casino then onward to Phantom Canyon. We go through the old mining town of Victor (pretty much a ghost town now) and finally begin the famous “Phantom Canyon” road. This is a gravel road that has not been graded in the current decade and the road is very wash boarded. We are bouncing all over the place and our teeth are beginning to hurt from all the jittering. The front brake on a sidecar rig is extremely important for control through the turs. I’m noticing that the brake seems to be a little squwishy and Brain calls out to tell me I’m squirting brake fluid. We stop and discover that my BRAKE HAS FALLEN OFF! The caliper is just dangling from the hose but is no longer connected to the wheel disk. This is not good.

Back we go. I’m thinking I may be able to fix it, but it is getting too late to begin the Phantom Canyon road, so we head back to Victor and check into a restored grand ol’ hotel, “The Victor Hotel”. This is an 1899 hotel that has been restored back to its original glory (with modern conveniences)

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There was a mechanic / tow truck operator in Victor that I contacted to see if he would help put my brake back together. Today was Saturday and he told me that he did not work on Saturday but that he would be willing to tow me to Colorado Springs. Knowing the Colorado Springs was over an hour away, I told him that the would probably be something he could fix in a short time as opposed to spending hours hauling me to Colorado Springs. He then explained that he did not work on Saturday but he would be willing to tow me to Colorado Springs…. So much for that conversation.

Upon investigation, it seemed that the caliper bolts had vibrated loose and if I could just get the caliper back on the disk, I could rig something to make it work. I telephoned a friend and he told me how to get the brake pads apart so I could get it back on the disk. I did so and then used zip ties to tie the caliper back on. Used to be bailing wire but now we have advanced to zip ties. Duct tape, however, remains a very good tool as well.

Brian is not so sure about my brakes being held together with zip-ties, but he reluctantly agrees and we declare ourselves ready to continue the journey in the morning. So now what do we do? Where is the night life happing place in Victor? There seem to be two businesses in Victor. A convenience store (but no gas) and a bar. So off we go to the bar.

It’s a nice place; the girl tending the bar, however, was a little strange.

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While there we are told that we are in luck. Tonight is the big excitement night for Victor. Tonight, the Victor Lodge had BINGO!! So now we are off to go play bingo. We are so excited.

The Victor lodge bingo parlor:

It’s a whopping $1 a card for the night, so we splurge our remaining penny-slot winnings and get two cards each.

We lost all of our winnings, so we hang our heads in shame and head back to the motel. Actually, we had a ball. Out here in the middle of nowhere playing bingo with the locals. They were all very friendly and hospitable and we enjoyed out time. Playing bingo, can you believe we did that?

End of Day 5 – G’nite Y’all

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*****          Day 6 & 7         *****
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In the morning we find a local café that was serving up spicy green chili stew over biscuits for breakfast. Nothing like green chili stew to get you going in the morning.

I reassure Brian that the brakes being held on with zip-ties, duct tape and bubble gum was not an issue of concern through the narrow canyon roads. Reluctantly, he agrees and climbs into the tub and off we go to ride Lyekka through the Phantom Canyon Road leading from Victor to Canon City. FYI: Canon city has one of those squiggly ~ lines over the ñ, so it is Spanish and is pronounced canyon. I did not know that until I started to learn Spanish. When I lived in Colorado I just thought the people in Canon City did not know how to spell canyon. My Spanish, however, remains very limited I do know how to order a beer, how to ask where the restroom is and how to ask for medical assistance. My last trip to Baja I had the opportunity to use all three phrases. Thank you Rosetta Stone. Ahh, but I digress…
We proceed down phantom canyon road and enjoy breathtaking views. He road is very bumpy and the washboards are at time unbearable. Lyekka is just a rattling but for the most part, we don’t seem to be losing any more parts (yet). The views are great!
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OK, so we got a bit carried away with taking pictures but that’s always better than not taking enough. The road was fun, views beautiful but the bumpy washboard road was a bitch. That road could destroy a good set of shocks. The road never got technical but sometimes it would narrow to one lane and that too was OK except when we would come to a blind curve. The drop-off was severe so it was important to not be surprised by a car coming from the other direction. I installed a truck horn on Lyekka just for this situation. Every time we came upon a narrow blind curve, I would lay on the horn so that anyone coming the other direction would get the hell out of the way because they would think a Mac truck was coming.
This is a short video Brian shot through some of the narrow turns or tunnels. Forgive the jittery video, did I mention this was a bumpy road? (click on picture to start clip)
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Great ride (‘cept for our kidneys being bounced lose and comming out our pant legs), we hit a highway and headed to Royal Gorge (the other side of Canon City).. We make it to the Roal Gorge and find that it’s a pretty hefty fee to get in. All we wanted to do was cross the bridge but one has to buy a full ticket for all the attractions there, so what the hell. The world’s highest suspension bridge which spans the Arkansas River at a height of 1053 feet

First thing we did was ride the suspended cable car over the gorge. Following are the views that we saw.
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Once across the gorge, we toured some of the sites there. Here we are in a make-shift old-time bar. This picture is actually Brian’s reflection in a large mirror. They wern’t serving, so we left.

We found a place serving elk burgers, so we ate an elk or two and washed it down with Coors (We asked for Lone Star, but had to settle for Coors)
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Some more shots on the other side of the bridge.

We rode the shuttle back to the other side and then took the incline rail to the bottom of the gorge. Going down, down, down …(click on picture to start clip)
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Some of our views from the bottom.
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Now we drive Lyekka across the bridge

On the map, it shows a road that is accessible from the south side of the gorge and I had a neat route planned for us. Unfortunately, being a bit out of prime tourist season, the south gate was locked and there was not any way for us to get to that road.

So, back across the bridge we go.

Sadly our trip is nearing an end and it is time to head back to Walsenburg to get the truck and begin the journey home.

South of Canon City we were able to hook on a beautiful winding highway called the Greenhorn Highway that wound through lush green hills and mountains. As the sun was beginning to set, we did not stop to take pictures because we needed to get the truck (I only name toys, the truck is known as the truck).
The last section of our trip was on a gravel road with some bumps. It seems that Lyekka has had about enough of bumps. We are tooting doing the road and then all of a sudden there is a lot of clanging noise and then Lyekka gets VERY loud. We turn around to find that our muffler fell off. We wait until the muffler is cool enough to handle and I strap it on top of our rack, dispense some ear plugs and off we go exceeding all legal noise levels.
We roar(literly) into Walsenburg, load Lyekka on the trailer and head south.
We drive until we are tired and find a cheap motel in Dalhart, Tx. The next morning we continue heading south and make it home for dinner.

END OF TRIP

Bri and I had a great time and thank you for tagging along via the blog.

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Responses

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