Tuesday, February 26, 2019

~ Ride of a Lifetime ~

Keep close to Nature’s heart… break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”                    John Muir


Four Corners, a ride of a lifetime.


Imagine riding your motorcycle across New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona.

I've been on these roads, always coming home with a smile on my face.  An adventure is what I call it and so does the Managing Editor at RoadRUNNER Motorcycle and Touring magazine.

I could hardly believe his words, “Would you like to join us on the Four Corners tour in the spring?”  Florian Neuhauser is the Managing Editor at RoadRUNNER Motorcycle and Touring magazine.  I listen intently about this organized motorcycle ride operated by their Blue Rim Tours - the Four Corners Tour.

I’m intrigued even before his words fade. 

The Four Corners region is iconic, perhaps one of the most sought after motorcycle rides in America, maybe the world. Epic. I’ve ridden these scenic corners across the four western states on a motorcycle.  It’s hard to say which is best.  These routes are timeless, absolutely motorcycle bucket list rides. 



Monument Valley is timeless.




Monument Valley always stays with you.


Florian continues, “This ride begins and ends in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  We ride to Santa Fe, then near an inactive super volcano - Valles Calders, Aztec Ruins National Monument, Shiprock, Colorado Mining Towns  Durango, Silverton, and Ouray (the Million Dollar Highway), Mesa Verde National Park, Goosenecks State Park, Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, and El Morro National Monuments.”  

Now, I’m intrigued.  “Florian, I’ve been on most of those roads except the Million Dollar Highway, and the ride sounds awesome – I’m in,”  I say almost before he finishes speaking.  "You will be part of the lead team, we'll cover the logistics," he finally adds.

The Blue Rim Tours logo is impressive and saying their manta out loud puts a smile on my face – “The motorcycle ride of a lifetime.”

This ride across the four corner states is unique, even epic.  I've never led an organized motorcycle tour, and that is a bit concerning.  But then I stop myself and recall the numerous benefit rides that I've been on with other bikers over the years.  Think about the roads, vistas, and those isolated roads across Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado.  Relax.  Breath.  Think about John Muir's words. Go for it.  Kickstands up!

One of my favorite rides in the four corners region was with our son, Keith.  It's called, "Father and son ride."  We rode from San Diego, California to La Joya, New Mexico along some lonely, scenic roads.  I remember asking him shortly after leaving Bandelier National Monument on NM Highway 4, “If we go left, we’ll end up at Bernalillo; if we go right, we’ll end up in Cuba.” He looked puzzled, later realizing that Cuba was safely along Highway 550 in New Mexico!

I tell him more about another ride over some of the same routes, it's called,  "Exploring the Badlands of New Mexico, Johnny Cash style."  Sharing an experience like this with your son, well that's priceless.



Father and son ride entering Arizona.




Cameron Trading Post - Arizona.



A few years ago on a solo ride, I camped at Canyon de Chelly National Monument and rode a horse into the sacred canyons of the Navajo Nation.  I’m not sure which I love more, riding a horse or a motorcycle.  Later, I invited my wife Denise to join me on a trip back to Canyon de Chelly; she loved it.



Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Arizona is the heart of the Navajo Nation.




I had to come back to this natural wonder.



White House Ruins- Canyon de Chelly National Monument.




Amazing history before us - White House Ruins - Canyon de Chelly National Monument.



On another motorcycle ride, I remember the evening light slowly fading far above the San Juan River.  

My brother Gilbert and I build a small fire and cook our Dinty Moore stew over our primitive campfire.  They call this place, Goosenecks State Park.  We thank our ancestors for such a beautiful spot to camp and sleep comes easily on the rim etched by time.  Our first visit to this place was special, bonding two brothers beyond our earthly comprehension.  We talk about life and our love for such beauty found in Utah where our brother Moite once lived.  Tomorrow, we head towards the infamous, Monument Valley.  Gilbert has been there before but I have not.  I hope my dreams will paint a picture for me; I'm sure it will be priceless.

Monument Valley appears after a few short miles straight out of a John Huston movie.  I know this place.



Our view in the morning was incredible - Goosenecks State Park, Utah.


Our ride through Monument Valley continues just as John Huston's cameras recorded the scenes - the towering sandstone rock formations are incredible.  It’s hard to describe.  One needs to feel the wind in your face riding the miles.  Timeless.  Solitude.  Perfect.  Sacred. You'll never leave the same.  Time slows, then almost stops.  Moments.  There is a story called Hágoónee’ that you’ll remember.



My brother Gilbert and I riding towards Monument Valley. The scenery stopped us cold.




Monument Valley has beautiful people and awesome jewelry.  James taught me how to say "see you later" in Navajo.



The Land of Enchantment - New Mexico.



Out West, the roads are wide open.




This Indian is leading me to that place called - 'Nowhere.'




Near El Morro National Monument in New Mexico.



El Morro National Monument tells a story of timeless history.  In 1598, Spanish explorer Don Juan Oñate who searched for gold inscribed his name on the sandstone walls declaring his presence -“Pasó por aquí” ("passed by here").  The complete story is in my article “In Pursuit of Wildness:  New Mexico’s El Morro National Park.”



One can see fifty miles from the top of El Morro.



El Morro National Monument - a short walk on top of the mesa is a must.



Leaving El Morro National Monument - decisions.



The Million Dollar Highway is heavy on my mind; perhaps that will be a future article.  First, I need to ride those miles in Colorado with Blue Rim Tours, experience the moments, and then take a deep breath.  The words will come; the miles will see to that.

The Four Corners tour will cross three mountain passes in excess of 10,000 feet.  This past summer I crossed similar Colorado passes at Rocky Mountain National Park writing the article, Sí Se Puede honoring my brother Leo's retirement.  On a motorcycle, the air is crisp, clear with magnificent views that stretch forever, and then some.

An adventure on a motorcycle!

Blue Rim Tours calls it, “The motorcycle ride of a lifetime.” 

You decide!  I need to pack.  The miles before me beaconed me towards the four corners.

"Florian, I'm in."



I love Colorado.  I once worked for Rocky Mountain National Park, living in Estes Park for nearly seven years.




Quaking Aspens, high in the Colorado Rockies.




Riding high in the Colorado Rockies.




These bikers,  from France, riding their dream. See their story in the Bikers' Wall.




This Indian riding high in the Colorado Rockies.



Sweeping views in the Colorado Rockies.










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