Swedes call it resfeber, that pre-journey feeling of anticipation mixed with anxiety. I’m feeling it already, with departure still half a year away. Though Tulliver did exceptionally well on our thousand mile trip last year, I don’t have the history with him – nor the absolute confidence – that Barley and I developed over so many miles. Running into canine recalcitrance 2500 miles from home is a whole different set of issues from experiencing it a day’s ride from home. And yet, I know from my years riding with Barley that things will turn out, that when traveling with a cherished dog the goal is never a particular destination, but rather the journey itself. The British call it coddiwompling: traveling in a purposeful manner toward a vague destination. For all my extensive planning of routes over the long winters, when I finally hit the road I tend to coddiwomple…
If Tulliver and I make it all the way to Salt Lake City we’ll have a great time at the BMW Rally meeting new friends and getting reacquainted with old. Last year in Hamburg NY a few online friends who had never met in person were told to look for a big red dog in the beer tent. With his friendly demeanor and cherished orange ball Tulliver was a big hit; that informal gathering was christened The Red Dog Saloon in his honor, and already plans are being made for another round this year. Even so, if storms, heat and humidity, or any other factors prevent us from getting that far, Tully and I will cut the trip short, find a string of nice spots in the Colorado Rockies in which to spend a week enjoying each other’s company before attending the smaller, more intimate Top of the Rockies Rally in Paonia, Colorado.
I recall an enchanted evening three years ago, cuddling with Barley on the cold shoulder of Mount Rainier by the light of the stars and the burble of a nearby glacier-fed stream. Sitting next to the campfire while gently tugging Barley’s ear it dawned on me that what he and I shared – that incredible bond based on mutual love and respect – was older than time itself. Thanks to that dog I know what is possible and more importantly, how to cultivate it. I sense it flowering with Tulliver…and budding with Glenlivet. That relationship is more precious than any timeline or destination.
If conditions permit, the week between those two rallies will be spent meandering from Arches National Park in Utah all the way back to Colorado’s Front Range. Before we head for home we’ll pass through Colorado National Monument, the San Juan Mountains (including the legendary Million Dollar Highway), wander through abandoned mining towns, cross numerous high altitude passes both paved and unpaved, camp in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, and ride to the summit of Mount Evans at 14,265’.
Stay tuned for updates on our training rides (once the snow melts) as we prepare for this trip. Right now, with Vermont locked up in winter’s icy grip, the bike and sidecar are being carefully dismantled, cleaned, and reassembled.
Friday, June 30th: One week remains till Tulliver and I head out on our Utah and Colorado adventure! Nothing is packed, though I believe all the pieces are present. I’d hoped to practice setting up the tent a few times before our departure, but that hasn’t happened thanks to our incredibly wet weather so far this year. As I type this, much of Vermont is under flood warnings after yesterday’s two inches of rain on top of already saturated soil. Tully’s tonneau cover has been modified with a larger zippered hatch to accommodate his much longer body. He is back to using his old memory foam mattress though, as the new bolstered version allowed him to lean out well past my comfort zone.
There is an art to packing for a trip like this, an art I’ve not yet mastered after repeated iterations. I get it right by the time the trip is over, but invariably forget the method in the year between each rally. And to be fair to myself, how things are packed varies depending on weather conditions, camping vs hoteling, whether we will be in bear country, and a few other factors.
While not experiencing the punishing heat wave that’s centered over parts of Arizona and New Mexico, part of our trip this year will take us through regions with highs in the high nineties or low hundreds. That’s too hot for my dog, and so I reserve the right to skip parts of our planned route and head instead for the coolness of the mountain heights. Even if it means we miss the annual family reunion that the BMW Rally represents.
That said, here is our planned route:
- After our transit of the Midwest and Great Plains, we’ll visit the Morris Animal Foundation in Denver. These are the folks running the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, a well-designed prospective (as opposed to retrospective) study that hopefully will shed light on why so many golden retrievers are being lost to cancers.
- The Peak-to-Peak Byway to Rocky Mountain National Park
- Across northern Colorado to be at Flaming Gorge for sunrise
- On to Salt Lake City via the Uinta Range and Emigrant Canyon
- Two days at the BMW Rally at the fairgrounds in SLC
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Natural Bridges National Monument, Moki Dugway, Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods
- Up Hwy 145 to Lizard Head Pass and Telluride, Colorado
- Over to Ouray, then down US-550 to Durango, Colorado
- US-160 to South Fork, Colorado, then Hwy 149 over Slumgullion Pass to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison
- Over Kebler Pass between Crested Butte and Paonia to the Top of the Rockies Rally
- Over McClure, Independence, Tennessee, Vail and Loveland Passes
- Say goodbye to Colorado from the summit of Mt Evans, then head east
- Visit friends in Tioga, Pennsylvania, and possibly attend the US Sidecar Rally in Corning, New York before heading for home
Remember, though, that in all my years of motorcycle travel I have yet to follow one of my carefully plotted routes!