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WINTER RIDE '06—For all of you who are pacing the floor in anticipation of a new "tip sheet", all I can say is that there will be a year's delay in that I'm recovering from a failed attempt at a winter ride that would have taken me (us) through Death Valley, south-southeast Arizona, part of New Mexico and Nevada. The trip was cut short on the second day into Death Valley when, while avoiding several coyotes, a major collision occurred sending me to several trauma centers and finally surgery. This ended my winter sojourn. However, I did return with a few tips: always wear a helmet and take along a first aid kit.  

What follows cannot even be called a "tip sheet" in that it is devoid of tips. Perhaps a "route sheet" would be more appropriate. The following trip cannot be as detailed in terms of mileage, rest stops, taverns etc. as the fall (Canada) trip because it will be drawn entirely from memory and a few notes. Hopefully it will be useful in some way for those looking for a spring adventure via motorcycle.



Spearfish SD to Walden, CO

Begin, as usual, from the center of the universe (Spearfish and the Black Hills, S.D.) traveling through Spearfish Canyon on Highway 14, then highway 85 to Newcastle. Continue on #85 south through Lusk Wy., Lingle (there is a good Mexican restaurant just outside Lingle), and finally Cheyenne. Turn west on Interstate 80 just outside of Cheyenne and ride to Laramie. It will be tempting to stop at Laramie for the evening in that you have ridden about 300 miles by then but overcome the temptation and take Highway 230 south out of Laramie headed toward Chowdrey.   The highway then turns into Highway 127 and the small berg of Walden, Colorado. This is your destination—Walden. You will want to stay at the Moose Creek Cookhouse and Saloon on Main Street. The Cookhouse also has a newly renovated hotel to one side and above the saloon. To call for reservations dial 970-723-8272.

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Dan Simmons Introduces Dan Peterson

Dan Peterson has been a close friend since we met in the long, hot summer of 1977 while traveling and studying in India together on a weird group Fulbright Fellowship trip for educators. It was Dan Peterson I talked into going with me when I wanted to explore the dark back alleys of Calcutta, peer into the Monkey Temple, or swim – fully clothed – between masses of sharks in the Bay of Bengal.

In the decades since we – and our families – became friends, Dan and I have gone on other odd trips together, usually to places our families didn’t want to risk. When I needed to go research Bangkok and its AIDS-infected sex industry in 1992 for a story I wanted to write for PLAYBOY (“Dying in Bangkok”), it was Dan Peterson who suggested we spend weeks wandering all around Japan and Hong Kong on the way there. It was also Dan P. who said “Let’s go for it” when we flew into Bangkok on the last plane allowed in during a shooting revolution. If a place has beer, Dan Peterson will go to it. (And we were only a little non-plussed when we were greeted at the Bangkok airport by our driver from the Oriental Hotel carrying a sign saying – MR. AND MRS. DAN.)

In real life, Peterson was – until 2005 when he retired – a PhD (“Dr. Dan” I like to call him) professor of sociology (and head of the Department) at Black Hills State in Spearfish, South Dakota. In decades of traveling there to hang out with Dan, I’ve discovered that Spearfish – and the nearby Black Hills – are some of the Best Least Known Wonderful Places in America. It’s also near Sturgis, S.D., which every summer – as most of you know – becomes the site for the largest motorcycle (read Harley, read Hawg) rally in the world. Peterson first started studying the biker subculture as a sociologist – producing learned papers and videos on the subject – but very quickly he went over to the Dark Side (as in dark beer). He bought his first motorcyle around age 50, before he knew how to ride one, and his ride home from the store, so local legend in Spearfish goes, was a case of . . . BRRRMMMM . . .FLOP . . .. BRRMMM . . . FLOP . . . . BRMMM FLOP. Now his bikes have grown into Harleys too heavy to lift if he flops.

The retired Dr. Dan Peterson now spends a good part of each year motorcycle-touring America and Canada. His trips are rarely without adventure. In these installments, he’ll share some of his tour tips with those of you who might want to ride hard, see much, eat well, drink deep, sleep cheap, and die young. (Scratch that last part.)

You may wonder why all such tours have to start from Spearfish, South Dakota, but – besides that being the place Peterson lives and has to start from (duh) – he reminds us that the great Sioux prophet and visionary, Black Elk, discovered that Harney Peak, very close to Spearfish, happens to be the center of the universe.

Some of you may also be wondering what a sociologist’s Harley tours are doing on a writer’s web site. To those of you, I say only . . . BRRRMMMM . . . FLOP . . . BRRMMM . .FLOP.
-- Dan Simmons


Walden to Moab

From Walden ride Highway 14 until you reach Highway 40 and go west to Steamboat Springs. Continue on highway 40 through Craig and on to Dinosaur. At Dinosaur turn south on to Highway 64 and then Highway 139 south. You should get on Interstate 70 east somewhere around Loma (Highway 6). It is but a short ride on the interstate (about 30 miles) when you will turn off on exit 212 and Cisco. Highway 128 to Moab will prove to be a memorable ride through a beautiful river valley. There is also a beautiful lodge by the river, about half way to Moab that you might consider for your evening's stop. If you travel on to Moab you will find a number of reasonable motels. Keep your eyes open for a restaurant on a hill (left side of road going into Moab) and try to eat there for dinner. You'll love the place but don't drink too much—the road down can be a little tricky.


Moab to Mexican Hat

Take Highway 191 south out of Moab. You will travel through Monticello and Blanding. A few miles south of Blanding to turn west on Highway 95 and then eventually south again on Highway 261. This will take you into Mexican Hat. I would recommend staying at the San Juan Inn and I would recommend reservations. Their telephone number is 970-749-1164. A double at the Inn will cost you $70.00. They also feature a good restaurant and it is minutes from the Valley of the Gods and some of the most memorable scenery you will experience. You can easily spend the rest of the day touring the area and if photography is your hobby, this will prove to be a bonanza.


Mexican Hat to The Grand Canyon

Today's destination is the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Leave Mexican Hat on Highway 163 to Kayenta and Tuba City. From Tuba City you will shortly run into Highway 89 north. Take it to Jacob Lake. From Jacob Lake you will ride south again on Highway 67 to the Lodge on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. The view from the north rim alone is worth the trip. Hopefully you got reservations nine or more months in advance of your trip and booked a rim view western cabin (cost $125.00). You can call for   reservations at 928-638-2611 or email them at www.grandcanyonnorthrim.com. The ride from Mexican Hat to the north rim is about 315 miles. If, for some reason, you didn't get reservation to stay at the canyon lodge, Jacob Lake has a motel and a number of cabins. Check them out.


The Grand Canyon to Vernal

Leave the Canyon and Jacob Lake via Highway Alt. 89 to Fredonia. Stay on Highway 89 north through the Brice Canyon area to Hatch, Utah. A few miles north of Hatch, turn east on Highway 12. When you eventually reach Loa,turn north on Highway (sort of) 72. Highway 72 will eventually connect to Highway 10 which will take you through Emery, Castle Dale, Price and Helper. A little north of Helper, turn northeast on Highway 191 to Duchesne and Vernal. This is as far as you will probably want to ride so find a room where you can.


Vernal to Buffalo

Continue through Vernal on Highway 191 to Rock Springs, Eden and Farson. When you reach Farson, turn east on Highway 28 to Lander Wyoming. From Lander take Highway 789 to Riverton. From Riverton take Highway 26 to Shoshoni. From Shoshoni take Highway 20 to Thermopolis and Worland. From Worland take Highway 16 over the Big Horn Mountains to Buffalo. This is a good place to end the day. I recommend that you negotiate for a room at the Occidental Hotel in the old section of the town. You can call for reservations at 307-684-0451 or 307-684-8989.


Buffalo to Spearfish

Out of Buffalo take highway 14 to Ucross, Arvada and Gillette. Stay on highway 14 and it will parallel the interstate until you reach Moorcroft. At Moorcroft take Highway 14 north to Highway 24 and Huellet. Highway 24 will take you past Aladdin, Wy. and into Bel Fourche, S.D. Highway 34 south will then take you back to where it all began—Spearfish S.D.




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