USA, May 2014 − Travels − Captain Tom

USA, May 2014

An unbelievable journey with unforgetable Impressions. A gang of five mad guys go to explore the south west of the US. Partially we were a group of 8 with seven motorbikes and a Ford Mustang. Paul developed a route north of Arizona which brought us to one wonder of nature the next.

Such a tour is a checkmark on the bucket list, something you have to do (at least) once in your life. I was so fortunate to enjoy this gorgeous trip with a group of equal minded from Europe and the US. I will remember this trip all my life with great joy.

The group was a mixed bunch from all over the place. Thomas and myself came from Germany, Paul from New York, Steven from Massachusetts, Kevin from Connecticut. This was the core group. Temporarily we had Ralf and Thomas from Georgia and Iain from London, UK with us.

The tour was also a tour of extremes. We rode in 10,000 feet and -280 feet of elevation. We went through temperatures of 26 F and 104 F. We got snowed in. We had to return and find another way due to an icy road. On the very same day we faced temperatures around 100 F. We had days with 200 miles and others with more than 600 miles. And we have seen spectacular nature and scenery. In total we made 2900 miles in 8 days of riding.

Find here an overview of the routes taken

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1 Day #1 - Journey to Phoenix

A very long day. We travel almost 24 hours. Thomas and I fly from Berlin via Frankfurt and Washington to Phoenix

Ready to go
Last view to Berlin
Approaching Frankfurt
Canola fields in the UK (close to Kingston Upon Hull)
Harrisburg - we are approaching Washington
We pass the Washington airport before we touch down
Three hours delay for our flight from Washington to Phoenix. We have dinner at the airport
We arrive in Phoenix close to midnight local time. with a time difference of 8 hours
2 Day #2 - Grand Canyon

We have booked a tour to Grand Canyon. Including Helicopter flight. But the weather does not cooperate. It is cold with gusty winds and there is snow falling at Grand Canyon. No heli flights this day.

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First we stop at a trading post. They offer all kinds of souvenirs.
Then we go to the aiport, but he helis stay grounded
Grand Canyon. Despite the weather an impressive view
On the way back we stop for the red rocks of Sedona.
We meet the rest of the group in the evening Thomas, Paul, Thomas, Iain, Ralf, Steven
3 Day #3 - Phoenix - Flagstaff

We get the bikes at noon and ride to Flagstaff

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All seven with luggage in a small hotel van
We receive the bikes
Unfortunately the bikes are not in expected condition. We get five tires changed. We need to wait.
In Jerome near Flagstaff we see the first nice roads
The video of that road
In a distance the snow covered peaks close to Flagstaff
4 Day #4 - Flagstaff - Moab

We go towards Utah and scenery gets more and more spectacular. We will ride Monument Valley, Moki Dugway, Valley of the Gods and Arches National Park

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Kevin was first in discovering the beautiful scenery
Monument Valley
We get into Utah
Mexican Hat
Paul leads us into a little gravel road Moki Dugway. Incomprehensibly (a word which comes to my mind quite frequently during our trip) beautiful view
Then down to Valley of the Gods (again gravel road)
In the evening we arrive at Arches National Park
Skyline Arch
Tom passes by
Devil's Garden
Balanced Rock
The access road of the park
Yes, roads seemed to be a bit dusty this day.
5 Day #5 - Moab - Panguitch

We go west and the splendor of nature continues.

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We start with Wilson Arch - just sitting next to the road
Then we go to Natural Bridges National Park. Again very impressive
Video of the park road ride
We cross Colorado river just where it starts to feed Lake Powell
Video of this ride
Then Grand Staircase
Last point of the day and highlight not just of this day but of the tour is Bryce Canyon
Splendor of colors
Natural Bridge
A raven comes quite close
6 Day #6 - Panguich - snowed in

Unbelievable. We get 5 inches of snow over night and are snowed in. Thomas, Kevin and I decide to hire a van to go to Zion National Park

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Snow in the morning
This van looks like it is 100 years old and it got 240,000 miles on it. It is supposed to get us to Zion National Park
Very beautiful Canyon
Emerald Pools
A daring visitor
We have been there
Nice rocks at the park entrance
7 Day #7 - Panguich - June Lake

An extreme day. We want to go to California. About 500 miles. Due to weather we will make 620 miles.

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Snow has gone - at least in Panguitch
We went west a little bit down the road and then turned onto a road which climbed up to almost 10,000 ft of elevation. And it got completely icy. I had to check the situation
We were not able to pass. We had to return and had to find another road further south
It is getting warmer quickly
Arrived in Nevada. We have to take off all the warming layers of clothing.
A local guy notices the slack of the chain of Paul's bike and offers to fix it. So we go to the guy's place and let it get fixed.
Extraterrestrial Highway from a helmet cam view
A very loooooooong straight road.
8 Day #8 - June Lake - Oakhurst

Brilliant roads and Yosemite National Park - unbelievable

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Day starts at June Lake
At Tioga Station get a view to Mono Lake
Then we go up the almost 10,000 feet Tioga Pass.
We have snow on top.
Tenaya-Lake on the other side of the pass
A marmot is watching us
Highway 120 and 49 are dream roads for motorbike riders
We get lunch in an american diner
And then we get into Yosemite National Park The entrance road
The rock El Capitan
A waterfall on the opposite side
We have been there
Another waterfall (Lower Yosemite Waterfall)
Half Dome - almost 10,000 ft tall
Tunnel View (next to a tunnel)
Video riding Route 40 towards western entry of Yosemite National Park
9 Day #9 - Oakhurst - Lone Pine

And we move on. We go through Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park and via Sherman Pass to Lone Pine

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First of all chain maintenance for Paul's motorbike at BMW Motorcycles in Fresno
The mechanic has tensioned the chain
Two police officers come to hand in their bikes and we had to take a picture with Thomas.
Riding Route 198 King Canyon
General Sherman Tree is said to be the biggest tree on earth
Other Sequoia trees are impressive too
Video riding through Seqouia National Park
Approaching Sherman Pass
View from Sherman Pass
At the end of the eastern ramp great views towards the desert
We close the day with an american dinner.
Steak and Cheese Cake
Thomas tries Butterscotch (disgusting Schnaps)
10 Day #10 - Lone Pine - Kingman

We are on our way back to Phoenix. But we go through Death Valley. Very hot and very beautiful. And we pass Las Vegas

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The hotel in the morning - this will become a hot day
We reach Death Valley at Father Crowley Viewpoint
Then we pass dunes
Paul has included the 20 Mule Team Road - it is a gem of a road
The video
Then we get fuel and have something to dring in Furnace Creek
Badwater. We are 280 ft below sea level
the sea level marker up in the rock
It is very hot
We get lunch in a village called Shoshone
Thomas and I have to get up and down the strip of Las Vegas
Strip northbound
Strip southbound
We have been here
The last point of the day is Hoover dam. It holds back Colorado river to form Lake Mead
The new highway bridge behind the dam
11 Day #11 Kingman - Phoenix

Just getting to Phoenix. The bikes need to be handed in by noon, Thomas wants to see a Mall and I have to buy Starburst candy.

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Busy packing
12 Day #12 Journey home

Now a very exhausting part. We have to go from Phoenix via Washington and Frankfurt to Berlin. It will take us almost 24 hours.

Airport transfer in a real american car: a Cadillac Escalade
Farewell Phoenix - The Sun Devil Stadium
View to Phoenix
Theodore Rosevelt Lake northeast of Phoenix
13 What else?

Yes, it might need a while to get to the next turn (see the upper left corner)
We went high in elevation (see lower right corner) - this is the point where we had to return due to an icy road
And we went very low in elevation (Badwater in Death Valley)