Scottsdale / Montrose
|Monday; July 8th, 2002
Start: Cortez, Colorado
End: Montrose, Colorado
In the morning, we take advantage of the continental breakfast at the motel. I'm adapting to the motels and hotels, but I prefer to camp for several reasons:
1. It's cheap, so I have more money to travel.
2. It's sociable; people ask where you're from and good conversation is easy to find.
3. I like to be outside.
This is the first big trip I've ever taken where there is no camping. But after 10 days on the road, living out of motels and eating in restaurants,I'm starting to see that there are things like clean sheets, air conditioning (or heat), long hot baths, the Weather Channel, and breakfast that you just can't get in a campground. It's a style I could get used to, eventually, if I had to...
I'd like to blast out of here early, but that's not so easily done when there's more than one person. And since the company I'm keeping is good, I can't complain too much. Instead we roll out of the motel around 9:00 AM, headed north toward Montrose via Telluride. Before we leave, I tell Sharon that the scenery will be great today. I've been to Telluride before, to kayak and to tour some of the off-road mountain passes in the area, so I'm familiar with this part of Colorado.
Leaving Cortez on CO-145 northbound, and the scenery is Colorado agricultural... meaning irrigated farms, small by my Midwestern standards, stuck in here and there wherever there's space. A few horses, a few barns, and in the distance some nice mountain scenery.
As we continue north, the scenery improves. Large mountains, heavily forested, and deep blue sky. We're up there a ways, so the temperatures are pleasant as well.
Then crossing Lizard Head Pass, elevation 10,222', and the temperature is just about perfect. The air's a bit thin, but the scenery is incredible...! Huge mountains all around, naked gray peaks sticking up into the sky....
And then descending into Telluride, and if you look just right you can see abandoned roadbeds that may have been former alignments of the current highway, or the narrow-gauge railroad into Telluride. All the little towns up here were connected by rail around 120 years ago, and almost all of that system is gone with the exception of the Durango & Silverton out of Durango, and the Cumbres & Toltec out of Chama, New Mexico.
Telluride, a former mining town transforming itself into a ski town, has an absolutely beautiful setting. It's tucked into a small box canyon, with a huge mountain face behind. Down that mountain face is the switchback trail of Black Bear Pass, an incredible Jeep ride. I haven't done it, I don't have the nerve - the descriptions of having to make two swings in a short-wheelbase Jeep to negotiate each switchback, your hood hanging out over the abyss while you juggle emergency brake and reverse and the clutch, well... that's just not the kind of description that makes me want to run out and give it a shot. If you're into off-road, there's also Ophir Pass and Imogene Pass in the mountains around Telluride. Both are also rugged trails for the 4WD enthusiast, and probably a grin for dual-sport riders. See the "Colorado Pass Book" for more info on off-road mountain passes in Colorado.
We talk about things, about the Cog List and the rally we're heading to, about jobs and brunch and the nice roads. Their meal done, they take off... leaving Sharon and I to enjoy an intimate brunch, just the two of us.
The scenery continues to be beautiful, as we take CO-145 north to Placerville, then CO-62 east over Dallas Divide and into Ridgway. The scenery remains fantastic to Ridgeway, then mellows quite a bit on US-550 north into Montrose for the final 10-15 miles or so.
Arriving in Montrose, we take a quick look around and find the Best Western Inn where the Cog National Rally is being held. We're sort of last minute, we weren't sure we'd get to attend, but we're in luck - there are two rooms left. Both have Jacuzzis; we can live with that. We end up with a room at the far end of the motel, right behind the lime-green Kawasaki banner, up on the second floor.
Next, we sign in at the Cog Rally in the basement of the motel. I try to buy a couple meal tickets for the dinner tomorrow, but they sold out long ago. Anne Simone suggests I leave my name and room number with her at the sign-in desk, and if anybody comes in trying to sell a meal ticket she'll send them my way. OK ... how about if I wash the bike (there's buckets, soap, water, and rags supplied) and you send any ticket-sellers to me at the bike wash? Can do, I'm told.
We're given a couple packets, just like at the Mensa gathering, with tourist info and pamphlets and rally schedules / programs; as well as a pair of really cool green T-shirts commemorating the Rally. Very cool, it appears the Coggers are a bit more stylish than the Mensans.
Then it's off to wash the bike… But before washing the bike, I need to unload the bike. I take our gear upstairs, and then take the bike over to be washed. Sharon heads into the air-conditioned room to bathe and rest.
In the parking lot, there are Connies scattered around here and there. Other Connies are seen running up and down the street in front of the hotel. Seeing the bikes, browsing the program, it appears that the Cog Rally is a bit more low-key than many rallies I've been to. And that's OK, it's simply a different flavor of party than what I'm used to.
While washing the bike, another rally attendee comes up to me and explains that he was told I wanted to buy a meal ticket. Yes! He has two, a sudden change in plans means he's leaving tomorrow morning and can't use them. I'll take them - gladly! A fair price is agreed on, and we both go away happy.
A great ending to a relaxed and fun day. Good food, great conversation, and a little alcohol to help mellow us out at the end.
We walk back to the motel, and turn in.