The Fly Geyser Tour


The Fly Geyser Tour 2014


The Ride Goes On Forever

Some time ago my brother read an article about a ride across parts of Utah. It sounded interesting, we had done part of the ride but not all and it sounded like a good reason for a ride. Also, while looking around on the web he ran across an article about something called The Fly Geyser located near Gerlach Nevada. It seems that in the late 1930's someone was attempting to drill a geothermal well and had problems. The well was not plugged and since then the well has built a sizable mineral deposit of various colors. This also sounded like a good reason for a ride. Tying both together sounded like a better idea for a really outstanding ride.

As with all rides, I selected the bike, BMW this time, checked it over, loaded it up and headed out. I left OKC on the 9th and hit I-40 headed west. I have been that way many times and it has not changed. But it is a good way to make the miles. Four hundred and forty miles west I stopped in Santa Rosa New Mexico with a good meal and watched Cosmos on TV.

Before I left I had checked the tires. They looked good and only had about 4,000 miles on them. When I gassed up in Amarillo I checked the rear and was surprised to see how little tread was left. By Santa Rosa it was clear that the rear was not going to make the ride. I don’t know why the tire wore out that fast, but sometimes things happen. But, as I firmly believe, tires and brakes are no place to skimp. I needed to find a replacement tire.

As the 10th was a Monday I was not optimistic about finding a replacement but I did find a place in Santa Fe that was a possibility. Luck is sometimes with us. It was 37 degrees with beautiful clear skies when I left Santa Rosa. I rode to Santa Fe, called OCR motorcycles, they were open, had a tire, I rode over and they put it on. Good folks, not cheap, but if you need work in the Santa Fe area, give them a shot.

After a good lunch I headed north on Highway 84. This is a very nice road through some very scenic country. This is the area that all of the Southwestern painters like for the views and colors. The Ghost Ranch is where a lot of them hung out. It still exists and you can stop in for a tour and if the time is right, a meal along with a couple of small but interesting museums. Highway 84 North of Abiquiu II

This was taken along that road, looking to the south and is typical for that area. I rode through a road cut and thought it would make a good photo. I rode to the top of the road cut up a very rocky trail. Not a problem on the BMW but it would be on the Goldwing.

Along this road is the little town of Abiquiu. They have a deli that serves up good food, in large portions, also gas for the bike. If it is near breakfast, lunch or gas time this is a good stop. Also, they sell wine that is produced at a Monastery nearby. I have not sampled it, but it looks interesting.

I made it into Farmington around 4 or so with no problems. While on my way my brother Mick had been readying his bike and had found a couple of nails in his rear tire and was out getting that taken care of. With his return we settled down for a drink, nice dinner, good conversation and eventually a good night’s sleep.

The next morning dawned cool with a beautiful clear sky and lots of wind. We loaded the bikes and headed west through Shiprock into Arizona and eventually north into Utah on Highway 191. Most of this part of the ride is on the Navajo Reservation and it is a land of stark vistas. I have been this way many times and it is always interesting. We turned left on Highway 163 for a bit, then right on Utah 261 and rode over to Gooseneck State Park for a look. We have stopped here before, but it is worth another look.

This is an incised meander on the San Juan River. This is way cool; it is caused by the river cutting down and the plateau Incised Meander of the San Juan, Gooseneck State Parkrising up. It is about 1000’ down to the river. Also cool, but difficult to see in this little photo is in the background you can see the formations from Monument Valley, quite a few miles to the southwest. There are also some very cool fossilized mud cracks but as that would not interest most folks I left that photo out. But think of it, several hundred million year old mud cracks, cool or what?

Leaving Gooseneck we headed north on Utah 261 to ride up the Moki Dugway. The Moki Dugway is a steep unpaved road climbing up an escarpment. It was constructed in 1958 by the Texas Zinc company to transport uranium ore from the Happy Jack mine to the processing mill in Mexican Hat. It is only three miles long but climbs 1100 feet to the top Moki Dugway Highway 261of Cedar Mesa. The Moki Dugway is dirt, but it is well maintained without deep sand or gravel. Neither of our bikes had any problem. It is also very scenic as the photos shows.

After conquering the Moki Dugway we were on top of Cedar Mesa. The wind had been blowing all day, on top of the mesa it really got with the program. We went north on 261 and turned left on Highway 95 and shortly turned right into Natural Bridges National Monument.

Over the years I have visited Arches and several others of the parks and monuments in Utah and have seen plenty of arches. However, I had never been to Natural Bridges. The arches here are different in that they were carved by flowing streams rather than by the freezing and thawing cycle at the other places.

We did the visitor’s center then took the 9 mile ride through the Monument to take a look at the easily seen three arches. It could just be the time of the year, but I have to say that Natural Bridges doesn’t seem to get very many visitors.

After Natural Bridges we were heading for Hanksville, Utah. Also we were looking for some fuel as Mick was getting a little low. He was packing a couple of extra gallons because we knew there are a lot of miles out in this area. This is a very scenic area with all of the red rocks, mesas and everything else related to weathering of the rocks. It looks like a place where Wylie Coyote would be chasing the Roadrunner.

After a bit we came to the turnoff for Hite Marina which, once upon a time was a busy marina on the north end of Lake Powell. Not so much anymore. We fueled up at a 24 hour credit card station but everything else was closed as Hite Marina was high and dry.

In 1983 I had brought the family out to Lake Powell and rented a houseboat. At that time Lake Powell was full and Hite Marina was doing a booming business. The lake level dropped and things got tough but over the last few years the lake level raised somewhat then it was decided to send water to Lake Mead and that is where we are now. Bridge Over Colorado River, Hite Marina

This photo is the bridge over the former Lake Powell which is now the bridge over the Colorado River. The white line under the bridge is the bathtub ring from when the lake was full.

No one knows if and when the lake will be full. As long as we as a country keep subsidizing water to people in the Colorado River Drainage it probably won’t be filled. An interesting book on the subject is “Cadillac Desert”.

With full tanks we rode on through magnificent scenery and called it a day in Hanksville at a very nice motel and a nice meal next door. The next morning dawned clear, cool and with less, we hoped, wind. This is the view while I was waiting for breakfast at Blondie’s. That is Mick walking over with the motel in the background. Is that a spectacular view or what? It would look much better had I not taken it with my phone.  Also you can also get the idea that Hanksville is not exactly a major city.IMG_20140312_082236

After a more or less decent meal at Blondie’s (Blondie is a brunette with a streak of red) we loaded up and headed west towards Capital Reef and points beyond.

Highway 24 is a great road. There was not a lot of traffic with lots of scenery and enough curves to be interesting. When we started the temperature was in the low 30s so we had to keep an eye out for water on the roadway, especially in the shadowed areas, but after a bit it warmed up.

Capitol Reef is a very nice area. Just before the visitor’s center is a pull out and a walkway for viewing some petroglyphs. They are fairly faint so I didn’t try and take a photo but you could see them fairly well. It is one of those things that the longer you look the more you can see.

We rode on a bit and stopped at the visitor’s center and then took off on the scenic drive. Capital Reef National Monument IIAs this photo shows, it is indeed scenic. The snow on the ground is from a storm that blew through the night before while we were in Hanksville. As you can also see, it was a great riding day. There was not a cloud in the sky and at this time the wind was not blowing.

While we were at the visitor’s center we were told that we should ride Highway 12 as it is a great bike road. As it was seriously out of our way we didn’t but that is just an excuse to come back another day.

After leaving Capital Reef we continued on west and surprisingly, to me anyway, we kept getting higher. Some of the places were over 8,800’ and snow was not in short supply, thankfully none on the roadway.

We stopped for brunch in Sigurd and then with short hops on I-70 and I-15 we were out of the mountains down into the desert on our way to Delta and a fuel stop. To say the scenery changed would be a large understatement.

We were now in the basin and range area with mostly straight roads and very little traffic. That being the case there is no reason to be shy about putting the hammer down. So we did and started covering some miles. We did swing off the road for a few miles for Great Basin National Park but the visitor’s center was closed as it was “off season”. It was back on 50 heading west. We eventually pulled into Ely and checked into a motel. We had a nice meal and a drink or two and called it good.

It was in the 20's when we loaded up in the morning. Over by Gooseneck State Park Mick had cracked his visor when the wind blew his helmet off the bike. He had taped the visor on but could not open it. As a result in the cool air he was having a fogging problem. Once he got Shoe Tree Highway 50 west of Austin NVthat sorted out we cruised on west stopping for fuel in Austin.

This is a very large shoe tree a few miles west of Austin. I like to tell myself that I am a little more observant than most, however, on my way back from California I rode by this in broad daylight and did not see it. It is right by the road, no curves, nothing but I missed it. That bothers me a bit.

Eventually we hit I-80 and then Highway 447 and headed north to Gerlach. About the only way you would have heard of Gerlach is if you know anything about the Burning Man Festival in what is called the Black Rock Desert. Otherwise there is not much there.

It was an interesting ride up to Gerlach past some very interesting outcrops and a couple of ancient and mostly dry lakes. After getting to Gerlach we followed our directions until it was obvious they were wrong. We went back to town and Mick found a guy who steered us the right way. He said go 20 miles north of town and you will see the geyser steaming on the right hand side of the road. We did and we did.

The downside is that the site is on private property and the owner has gone to the trouble of erecting a tall fence with a heavy metal gate with large chain and IMG_1203lock. The guy in town said we could probably walk over with no problems. However, I could not bring myself to go onto private property when the owner so obviously did not want anyone there. Private property is called private for a reason.

We settled for a long distance photo and then headed south. We stopped for fuel in Gerlach and with the wind at our backs headed for Sparks and the Nugget where I had stayed before. It was as nice as before. We checked in, had a nice dinner at the buffet and called it good for the day.

The next morning we were at it bright and early headed for Carson City. Mick wanted to tour the old mint and we needed to pick up a couple of t-shirts for our cousins at the Harley shop. When we pulled into the Harley shop there was a couple of greeters in full biker regalia out front who told us we were at the wrong place. I think they told us that as we were on bikes and there were no other bikes in the parking lot.

I told them that we were there to convert the heathens. I sprinkled them with BMW essence, delivered a short homily about actually riding a bike and they bothered us no further. After making the appropriate signs and acknowledgements to the various idols on display we boldly entered the shop and scored a couple of shirts and arranged to get them mailed. After bowing and kowtowing to the idols we backed out of the Harley shop (our bikes unmolested, also, still, no other bikes there).

We then rode the short distance to the old Mint building which is now a museum. It was a very interesting museum and very much worth the time. The mint was opened back in the mid 1800s due to the gold and silver activity in the area. It refined its own ore and then produced the coins. It opened and closed often depending on the politics in Washington as to whether we were on the gold or silver standard. Interestingly to note the workers had to wear certain types of clothing changing upon arrival and leaving. The clothing had no pockets and was burnt periodically to recover the dust in them.

There were numerous other exhibits including guns and a couple of old Henderson Motorcycles in the lobby. Interesting but they can keep the good old days. There was also a reproduction of a mine which was interesting but I bumped my head more than once. I should have left my helmet on.

Around one we headed south. We elected to swing our route to the east as the weather looked a little iffy to the west and if we kept straight south we would be getting very high. We cut over to 95 and rode through Hawthorne which it turns out is the location of the Hawthorne Army Ammunition Depot, evidently a sizable facility. There were ammunition bunkers as well as what appeared to be salvage operations going on for miles both sides of Hawthorne.

Shortly after leaving Hawthorne we were glad we had not taken the high road. We did not get any moisture but the clouds looked nasty and the wind howled from the NW. With the wind behind us we sailed along. With a side wind it was a tough ride especially the last section into Tonopah. But we made it and checked into the Best Western which has a section of the parking lot right by the lobby marked off for bikes of which we were the only ones. After unloading we walked to the Mizpah Hotel for a real nice meal then back to the motel and called it a day.

It turns out that even though Tonopah is in a desert the elevation is high and there was frost on the seats when we pulled out in the morning.

Goldfield Nv, Show CarGoldfield is just a little south of Tonopah and not much of a town. This is a 240 Volvo and is one of several vehicles sitting by a building, no explanation in evidence. They all were similar; the one to the left has a boat on the roof.

While I was looking at this Mick walked around and found a shop with several old bikes on display. It was essentially a souvenir shop. We went in and talked with the owners. They were a couple of retired guys who lived in Vegas but opened the shop in Goldfield just to give them something to do.

As we headed south we dropped down and it warmed up. It was also Saturday and as we pulled into Beatty there were motorcycles all over the place. We saw more in 20 miles that we had in the past week.

In Beatty we picked up the road leading over into Death Valley. It is always interesting to me how little distance it takes for climates to totally change. While Beatty is in a desert climate it is different than Death Valley. Here we are at sea level with nary an ocean in sight. A little south of here at Furnace Creek it is 190’ below sea level. Not bad for being 200 miles from any ocean. While it was not hot while we were there it for sure was much warmer. I had no worries about needing the electric gear. We looked around a bit then rode on.

When we came out of Death Valley and stopped for fuel in Pahrump and the wind was back with a vengeance.  We initially had considered stopping in Vegas for a bit. However, it turned out that it was the week end the March basketball thing started and there was little if any room in the inn and we kept riding. We gassed up again at Kingman and then took off on old Highway 66 for a few miles and then hooked up the big road and made it into Williams, checked into a motel, unloaded and walked over to a Denny’s for an actually not bad meal.

Williams is high in the piney woods and Flagstaff is higher so it was cool the next morning but not too bad. We were heading for Farmington. I had found an interesting looking road on the map that we would pick up going through Flagstaff but on the ground we could not find it. We elected to ride I-40 to Chambers where we cut north on 191. From Chinle we picked up N64 which lead us past Canyon De Chelly to Tsaile and then to Lukachukai where we picked up Highway 13 going over Lukachukai Pass which is a very interesting road with little traffic and lots of curves. Unfortunately it also has a lot of animals on it so be careful. We passed two dead horses alongside the road that had been there for quite some IMG_1221time and no one was removing them.

I had wanted to take this road for a couple of reasons. One, it is a nice ride, two you get a great view of Shiprock along with a couple of secondary vents and the dikes on the way down from Lukachukai Pass. This is one of those views. It is not a bad photo but not near as good as I wanted it to be.

I have upgraded my camera and will be returning to try again. Hey, it is as good a reason as any for new toys and to ride somewhere.

After stopping for the Shiprock photos we rode on and rolled into Farmington. We settled in had a nice dinner a drink or two, nice conversation and a good night’s sleep.

For Mick it ended a nice ride but for me I still had 700 and some miles to do. However, I have done it many times and pretty much know the way. I took highway 64 over to Taos where I stopped for a late breakfast then onto Las Vegas. Cleveland Bar IIAlong the way I rode through Cleveland where I found this guy guarding the Cleveland Bar. I have been through here before and don’t remember this being here. It could be new or maybe like the shoe tree west of Austin I just missed it.

For the last three days the wind had been pretty strong out of the NW. Up until I came out of the mountains near Las Vegas the wind had not been bad. Now it was; this time out of the WSW. If I was going east it was not a problem, any other direction it was. After Tucumcari I was on I-40 with not much to do but make the miles. The wind was really kicking up with dust storms and such. Passing semis was an adventure. By the time I reached Shamrock I had all I wanted and I checked into a motel and went over to Big Vern’s steakhouse and had a good meal.

The forecast for the next day was a repeat with if anything stronger winds. With that in mind I hit the road early and made it into OKC before the winds got too bad. Later on in the day the wind was all that had been forecast so I was glad to be safely at the house.

It was a very nice ride. I covered a little less than 4,000 miles, Mick about 1400 less. We saw some great sites rode some nice roads and had no trouble. We didn’t get to see the geyser up close, but we did see it.

So, with this one ended it is time to start planning the next.

Those who ride are considered insane

By those who cannot feel the wind