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It was mid July and I had a couple weeks away from work.  My regular riding buds, for months, had said "heck yea, I'm in", but with one selling and buying a house, one with a new job, another with a more strict new boss, one with body ailments, and the other with bike ailments, it began to look hopeless that they were going to make it.  I had done my "down season" bike chores and was pleased with fresh oil, clean air filter, new hubs, new chain, new sprockets, and a new rear tire.  I was ready to roll.  I began doing house chores during my time off and each chore hinted that another was also needed and the days were rolling by fast.  I didn't want to finish my vaca time with only house chores completed.  And, I knew I was going to take some time with my gal for a vaca, but my moto riding time away from the heat was fading away fast.

Then I began to see the SDAR reports of Colorado, Oregon, Idaho, Big Bear, Kennedy Meadows, and I knew I had to act fast. I am kinda thinking that the site might install a "gonna ride non-locally if you want to swing by for a loop" link.  I suggested to my gal that we take a drive over to Durango to ride the train, that should be nice, and I always wanted to do that.  We could also take the Vstrom so we could ride through the mountains together (and that I would purchase SENA communication for our helmets so we could chat on the way).  It was a go, and I didn't even get "the look" when I also loaded my solo ride bike in the cargo trailer with the vstrom in case I wanted to get in some high country solo riding in on occasion. 

All systems go, with the only goal and obligation being to stay in the Flagstaff KOA and then go to Durango for a Train ride to Silverton. 

Well, after a pleasant cruise control ride through Yuma and Phoenix, (gotta love those gas prices  :)    and within a few miles from Flagstaff, we got the evacuation notice from KOA due to fires, and we were just about to arrive, so we rolled 10 more miles and found a great campground just before you drop in elevation from the flagstaff plateau into the heat. The Bonito campground, clean and spacious...  alongside the Volcano, was just right!

This pic while driving by KOA...


Entrance to the New Campground near Volcano entrance:


The next day we then rolled into Durango.  We then had a beautiful train ride to silverton along the river.... and a speedy air conditioned bus ride back to town  (the way to do it) and then a great lunch in an Irish pub in town.  So far so good.

Pic from train on route:


The next day we rolled the dice to see if it would be Ourey or Pagosa Springs.... and the roll came up that we would head east.  We found a great RV resort, "Mountain Landing", even though we are often like the blacksheep of the resort in our old pop-up camper and cargo trailer  :) amongst the mega-sized motorhomes and 5th wheels, but for this night, we opted for a cabin (more like a condo).

We hopped on the Vstrom in the morning:


and it was glorious, just how I knew it would be... cool mountain air... fast travel.... as we flew up to Wolfcreek pass and beyond, super cool cruising:


And I use the throttle the same solo or double:


We then tried some forest roads....  not so fun in the soft stuff, rocky stuff and wet stuff.... so the adventure seemed to be simply to stay upright on that street bike with street 705's on it....


Hmmm, I did see some trails to try with a different bike, so the next morning I decided to get a ride in... on 50 inch atv trails, 2 track, so when this older newb losses his line, there is another track to jump over to .... as if it was planned  :)


Kinda fun not knowing what lies ahead....


And sometimes smooth and grooving....


Ready to roll through the trees...



This area, Turkey Springs, connects to some trails that are much harder (and some of the easier ones I enjoyed on my mountain Bike, as some are non-motor only, which is nice on a bicycle).  I became quite tired riding the more advanced ATV route to Middle Mountain on my 525 (kinda wished I had a smaller bike), but you all would like it, so plan to go there!


And of course, after riding in first and second gear for over an hour, when you hit the forest service roads, you can fly through all gears..... vroom, vroom, vroom, Brap...  to cool both you and the bike down a bit...


Great ride!


After that adventure, and the pics I showed my gal, I opted to bring her along.....


She loved it, and it was worth it, and we rode many of the same trails.  Hmmm, some of the scary challenging climbs on my bike going up and over softball and volley ball rocks sure were easy in 4 wheel drive....

Leaving Pagosa Springs made us choose between Ourey or Mancos......  and since I heard about the Aspen loop Trail, (even if I didn't pick up on the hint that there might be a ride available there earlier....),  I steered us in that direction.  The Mancos State Park at the reservoir was nice enough, and only 5 miles from the trailhead (and the campground called "Transfer", NOT "Transfer Park" which is over near Durango).


We rode the reservoir on bicycles, but I kept looking up to the area where the Aspen Loop might be:

Hey Honey, why are you pointing up there?  I think I might need to go see what's up there.....


I even tried to sit in the shade and chill......and enjoy the moment....  but in the distance was "the Loop":


So we went back to the campground and I suited up:


GPS? check, Satellite tracking? check, extra gas and flashlight? check, hard maps/iphone for pics? check, water/food? check, tools?, check, saw n knife? check......  


I lived in Aspen once upon a time, and I drove Vermeer tree spades for a living then, and I transplanted thousands of Aspen trees for landscape companies then...  but I had never seen such dense Aspen groves.... Quite spectacular!


In and out of the groves with spectacular views:


This spot may have been where a camera took footage of 2 SDAR riders riding by a couple weeks ago and singing....  as you can see the location "Aspen loop trail" between tire and engine...  (Thanks for the prompt PB and Bagstr)


Truly Fantastic....  and fully satisfied that my summer riding did not float away...

A casual rising in the morning with campfire coffee following a night with great cold beverages was icing on the cake....

We had other options for a day or 2 more fun, but the monsoon weather kicked in pretty strong near flagstaff...  so we left the 60 degree pouring rain in Flagstaff to travel through 108 degrees in Phoenix, and head back to town... with a special sunset as we passed El Centro....


as stated similarly in an earlier report... Mancos to San Diego straight... in a camper and cargo trailer though, was just under 13 hours...  

What a great 8 days.....  Well worth it!  Cheers

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