I notified folks at work about 6 weeks previous that I'd be taking that Friday off. We planned on leaving between 7:00 and 7:30 from a meeting place about 30 minutes from our house, so we planned on leaving home about 6:30 AM. About a month out my boss mentions that we need to head out to DC that weekend. OK... what days, since I'm taking Friday off, remember? OK. No problem, we'll go Mon - Thur. That's kind of cool because many times we fly on Sunday and then you basically just lose a day of being off. Since I'm on salary we don't get paid for overtime... although we charge our internal customers. Yeah, weird and one of my pet peevees/hot-buttons, but I'll save that for another post. Anyway, out Mon and back Thur, getting into the springs at 9:05 PM. That's cool - should be home by 10:00 and plenty rested for the trip the next day.
The business trip is pretty good - a few frustrating/boring parts, but some really good productive sessions as well so that is all cool. We get to the airport with plenty of time to spare and get on our flight... and then we sit there for 2 hours on the plane because "there is some weather mid-west that we want to avoid". We finally take off and are told "Even though we are 2 hours late, you'll probably make your connecting flights because Dallas is having weather problems and so the planes are way behind." We have 50 minutes to make our connection... and are 2 hours late. Yeah - the math isn't hard to figure out. Anyway, we get into Dallas and all get off the plan at separate times. Hans is off first, and when I come off he is no where in site. I see that our flight has been delayed (Yah!) till 9:30... and its 9:28 now. :( - Everyone else comes off and says Hans already figured gate C-
Lukily Hans is in the "Admiral's club", so we go there and a guy hooks us up with tickets. "OK, here is what I can do. I'll get you on a confirmed flight to Denver (close enough)... tomorrow at 1:00 PM" (What???) "But there are two flights out tonight, one at 10:30 - so you better rush over there, and if you can't make that one on standby, you can roll over to the 12:00 flight and maybe make that one."
Ok - so there is still a chance. So we quickly head to the gate and get there... and there are people everywhere. There are 63 people on standby. Hans is #4 and the rest of us are #23 - #27, with me being #26. Folks tell me, "You can take my spot so that you can get home and do the rally, if I don't make it I'll only be late for work." Which was a great thought, but turns out you can't do that. Anyway - they call Hans and it looks like he is going to make it; but then a pilot shows up for the jump seat and he misses it by one.
We FINALLY eat dinner at 11:00 PM and then head to the other gate. Get there and there are 63 people on standby - but Hans is #1 and I've moved up to #16. So the odds are looking better - but the last gate only 3 people made it on standby. So we figure Hans will go but maybe not the rest of us. He uses some upgrades to bump us up to first class, in the hopes that will improve our odds. They start boarding and he is called immediately and disappears onto the plane. We are then watching the "standby monitor" and watching our names move up the list. There are quite a few people hanging out - not looking good. Then they start calling people in groups of 5, "Mr Jones, Mrs Smith, etc., etc." - no one shows up! They wait maybe 30 seconds, "Last call for Mr Jones, Mrs Smith..." - nothing. So we just jumped 5 places, then the next group... no one. Then the next group, a few folks show up. We are within 5... we wonder how many seats they have open and whether we'll make it or not. Then they call our names, and we rush the counter. :)
We make it on, and first class no less. I thought they said they didn't have any food service, so I conk out. Its almost 1AM and I've got a rally to leave for at 6:30! I sleep the entire trip and we get to DIA and Hans says, "Man, you didn't even enjoy the cookies, nuts, drinks or anything - see if I ever upgrade you again!" I think he was *half* joking... but he had to spend a ton of upgrades to upgrade 4 of us. Very cool of him.
We land at DIA get a car and head home to COS, grab the jeep and my head hits the pillow at... 4:45 AM. Set the alarm for 6:00 and a little over an hour of sleep and I'm up, quick shower (skipped washing my hair or shaving), and I throw on my leathers, load the bike, and off we go. (Luckily we packed before I left so it only took a few minutes to get everything onto the bike).
We get to the Safeway right off 24 and there is everyone we are going with, most of whom we didn't know. But there is Wes Rutter! - which was very cool. Old friend from Impact and turns out he is a friend of a friend and going with us. All in all we had 14 people and bikes on the road were at least 7 with sometimes up to 11. There were two trucks with trailers and some folks trailered their bikes either down or back and some trailered them off and on during the trip.
The buzz of being on the bike kept me awake and I did pretty good. About an hour out I was driving down a stretch that was pretty straight, with hills on both sides, when I caught sight of a 4 point buck (western 4 point, thats 4 points on EACH side), in mid-flight leaping onto the road from the left side... about 30 yards in front of me and me going 70 or so. Heart-pumping, a quick light squeeze on the brakes and release of the throttle, and he hits the road, leaps from the left lane onto my lane, and I'm about 15 yards away and realize he is going to clear the road, and so I let off the brakes. We flash by him and he is gone and Tina catching a flash of brown out of the corner of her eyes says, "Was that just a deer?"... "Yeah". OK - so I'm totally awake now!
The rest of the trip was really good, although I did zone a bit for a while when Tina was riding in the Hummer with a friend. Next stop I told her that so she got back on the bike and the rest of the trip was pretty good. Going down the million dollar highway (Montrose, Ouray, Silverton, etc.) was BEAUTIFUL. Someone at work told me, "This part of CO is pretty, but that part is the prettiest part of the state." and after seeing it, we agree. Lots of twisties, mountain roads, etc. Great riding. One girl did dump her bike, but it was right when she stopped and her feet hit the gravel and she just teetered over. No harm done, other than a bit shaky. The last 30 minutes or so it starting raining... hard, and I couldn't see very well (I'm going to have to rethink my goggles or something) and was going very slow, which slowed up all the bikes behind me. About 30 miles out from Durango I pulled over and wiped them off and told everyone else to go ahead and the Hummer could just stick with me. Tina was back in the Hummer by now because she didn't want to go over the mountain roads on the bike. But then 2 miles later we got to the place we were staying. None of knew it was going to be so far from town, but it was in a great place and we were so glad to see it sooner than we expected.
So... some cat-naps on the plane, 1 hour of sleep, and then a 10+ hour bike ride down to Durango. It was all good and quite the adventure and a great ride!
This is already quite long for me, so I'll just quickly wrap up the rest of the trip. Into Durango for dinner that night, which is a great ride down the valley. Next morning back into twon (after discovering that a bear had messed with one of the bikes during the night - but luckily didn't hurt anything) and ate at the Durango Diner. Then down to Ignacio to check out the rally. It was a pretty good street rally. Ate some good food. Tina got a great jacket she's been wanted to get. Saw one for $175, and then found one she liked even better for only $75 that matches her chaps. Rallies are great for this kind of thing. Visited with the Bad Pig owner. We always stop in and talk with him. Last time in Red River we talked with him and his wife, discussed grand children, etc. She wasn't with him this trip because her son was in the hospital - serious but recovering, so that is good. (Our prayers are with you guys). Tina got some good discounts for some of the girls with us that wanted to get some Bad Pig clothes. She always does. He laughed when we asked where his wife was. He said everyone was asking. The night before he was in the bar after setting up, and this girl walks up behind him and says, "Hey... what are you doing in here without your wife! I'm keeping an eye on your and telling her if you don't behave." He called her laughing and told her she has spies everywhere. :)
We spent a couple hours there and then Tina was getting hot, so we headed back "home". Hit a bit of rain on the way (looked like it might be worse) and so after stopping quickly at the Durango Harley store and getting some stuff, we returned "home" w/o getting any food or anything. Back into two later that night (which again is a very nice ride) and headed home way after dark. I don't like driving at night, but with someone in front of me it wasn't bad... and I came to ride; so all was good.
Up the next morning, back into town and a quick bite at McDonald's and then home up over Wolf Creek Pass.
All in all a quick, and somewhat exhausting several days, but well worth it. I had great plans for Monday, having been gone a week - like mowing the lawn, grocery shopping, etc. Instead I checked the mail, paid some bills, and zoned in front of the TV with Jaime all day. But like Peter Fonda said in Wild Hogs, "Ride hard or stay home!"
I'd go back down there again. The rally was... ok. No where near as cool as Red River, imo - but the ride is awesome and it was still a good place to check some stuff out. I *definitely* want to go back to the area. I'd like to spend more time there and check out more of the area. Actually go down to Farmington, NM, over to Cortez, hit Utah, etc. Perhaps we'll go that way some trip down to Tucson. We'll see...