Spreading the Gospel of Brammo at 8000 feet.

6 09 2013

Brammo Blog: Mesa Verde felt like a Church and I was a Disciple.

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I have to admit that I had a hippie upbringing as a child. Southern California in the 60’s, a cat named Love, VW camper out front that Mom had to park on a hill to get a rolling start. Nature, open spaces, and quiet beauty have always been a draw to me. And it doesn’t get much more beautiful, open and quiet than Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado.

I took a nice little 3 1/2 day weekend and headed north. Mesa Verde is only 250 miles from Albuquerque (I should freaking go every weekend), so not “far”, but too far to ride the Empulse R unless I wanted to take a few more days off work—which is what I will do next time.**

I didn’t take enough days off to drive to and from Mesa Verde by electric motorcycle, but I really wanted to ride the Empulse once I got there. Electric motorcycles excel at riding through nature. So quiet and smooth, you feel so attuned to the surroundings. Plus Mesa Verde has some cool twisties.

So off to U-haul to rent a trailer.

(hint to Brammo…Make an Empulse Trailer. I will buy one)

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Loaded up and ready to go.

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IMG_7673Like Sammy Hagar would sing/scream: “I can’t drive “backwards” 55″

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So I get a bit of a late start (this will figure into the blog later). I worked half a day Thursday and then went to get the trailer at about 1pm. When I got to the U-haul location where I reserved the trailer I noticed they only had a tiny trailer with 8 inch wheels. Their first question,

“So you don’t plan to go over 35 mph do you?”

Me: “Well yes, I am driving to Colorado and back.”

Them: “Oh, this trailer can’t do that. It is for in-town towing only.”

Ignoring the bigger question of why U-haul is renting trailers not much bigger than the Radio Flyer pull-cart my granddaughter gets pulled in around the Albuquerque Zoo, and trying to keep the incredulous look off my face, I ask, “What person would rent a motorcycle trailer for 4 days if they are only using it in-town?”

So off to a second U-haul stop where I get the trailer shown above. It doesn’t have a ramp and they want to send me to a third U-Haul location, but luckily I have a ramp at home. So with that bit of trouble over I am finally good to go. I get home, load up and it is suddenly 3pm (I had planned to leave before 2–I guess a hour late isn’t too bad). Deanna usually gets home from work at 3:30, so I decide to wait to say goodbye before leaving.

I hit the road just after 3:30pm. Since it is a 4 1/2 hour trip I figure I should get to the park at 8 pm (right at sunset). Off I go.

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And, as predicted, I am just outside of Mesa Verde as the Sun is setting (the edge of one of the Mesas is seen at the left of the photo).

Panorama Photo. If on the intrawebs, please click the photo for the bigger.

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So I get to the entrance at about 10 after 8 and the Entrance Booth is un-manned (un-womanned too). With nobody home and I drive on through. I notice a sign that says: “No Trailers beyond Morefield Campground.” I wonder if Morefield Campgrounds is before or after the Far View Lodge where I’m staying. Even so I figure they can’t mean a small little motorcycle trailer, right.

It’s 15 miles from the Entrance to the Far View Lodge where I had reservations for a couple of nights. It is rapidly getting DARK. I’m about 5 miles in when I pass a second sign that says, “Morefield Campground. No Trailers beyond this point.” OK. Hmmm, well I have reservations and there was nobody to ask at the Entrance Booth nor here in the middle of nowhere. So I drive on.

Suddenly I am no longer just the “I park where I want” guy; I am now the “I trailer where I want” guy. Both guys can get into trouble when on Federal Land (see Trinity Site blog).

So about a mile past that last sign I drive by a Ranger going the other way. And I see the near instant U-Turn of impending doom. When the authorities pass you and immediately make a U-Turn it is never a good thing. Ask my wife (that is another story though—short version—a child had been taken in a red car. My wife has a red car. Cop jumps a medium doing a U turn behind her and pulls her over. She starts to roll down her window when she notices the cop is now in the middle of the road with his gun drawn and pointed straight at her. He yells at her to put both hands out the window .Our daughters are in the back seat. My wife freaks out. She does everything she is asked, but is in tears from fright. The cop says, “Sorry, wrong make of car” and takes off. A man points a gun at my wife while our kids are in the back seat and he says, “sorry”. I know he has a job to do…a hard job…still, though this happened 15 years ago, I would like to politely punch him in the face. Especially as I have a police officer friend who tells me that anytime a cop pulls a gun he is prepared to use it. And if they fire they are not shooting to wound, but to kill.)

Blue Lights start flashing and I “pull” over. Pull over is a bit of a misnomer as there is no place to pull off the road. So I guess I more accurately “stop” in my lane.

Now the Ranger walks briskly up and I ask, “Do you want me to move further up the road and find a place to pull over?” He ignores this and I notice that he is actually quite angry…more so than I expected.

Him: “Did you see the signs back there?” He was red in the face and instantly pissed off.

Me: “Well it is pretty dark.” Perhaps not the best reply.

Him: “There are two signs that say, No Trailers. Did you stop at the Booth and get clearance?” He looked at his watch. “Oh, maybe they had already closed?”

Ok, I see that I am not going to get shot. He is pissed, but he hasn’t moved his hand toward his hip. Do Rangers even carry guns? I didn’t want to find out.

Me: “I’m sorry. Nobody was at the booth. I have a two night stay up at Far View Lodge and, yes I saw those signs, but I couldn’t ask anybody at the empty booth and thought I would ask up at the lodge. I just drove up from Albuquerque and I really wasn’t’ sure what to do. When I made my reservations nobody told me I couldn’t bring a motorcycle trailer. I ride an Electric Motorcycle and they don’t have the range, yet, to get here from Albuquerque. But I really wanted to ride it up here at Mesa Verde as it seems the perfect way to see the park without being loud and invasive.” A bit wordy…I might have been more nervous than I thought at the time. I really didn’t want to turn around and look for a room for the night some place outside the park.

He walked away and radioed somebody my license plate and name and came back a totally different man.

“Ok, just let the lodge know you have the trailer and have a great visit.” Holy Invasion of the Body Snatchers, he was smiling and pleasant. And then he left without another word.

On a side note: A) the road is twisty, but I’ve been on worse. I had no issues with the trailer, even in the near pitch black. B) I saw that same Ranger 3 more times over those two days. We had a pleasant conversation each time. He asked about the bike and my trip and was a very nice guy. I wonder if they have had some major issues with trailers in the past. When I told the Lodge about having a trailer and that I was to let them know, they didn’t seem to care at all. And at the Lodge there was another trailer parked right next to mine. So not sure what the fuss was about, but now I know to not bring a trailer…or get there earlier so I can get permission at the gate.

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But enough of all that. It was a 5 minute delay and not really a big deal…more important is this:

Mesa Verde.

IMG_7694click to embiggen

and

IMG_7738click…Cliff Palace. An amazing place.

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It is just so beautiful. And perfect for riding an Electric Motorcycle. More on that in a bit. For now…more photos.

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The weather was just insanely nice. Cool in the morning. A bit warm and intermittent cloud bursts in the late afternoon. Clear and crisp in the evenings.

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There are multiple cliff dwellings throughout the park.

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IMG_7776Panaroma. I call this “Life finds a Way”. The Mesas stand about 2 thousand feet above the surrounding area and get tons of lightning strikes, especially at this time of year with the summer monsoons. Huge areas are burned. But life, and flowers, keep coming back.

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IMG_7785Panaroma. Many dwellings are in the cliff. But there are ancient dwellings up on the Mesa tops too. The Native Americans do not want us to use the word “Ruins.” The spirits of the people are still here.

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This shows Eric Bostrom’s signature and his “signature” helmet.

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close up

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The mountains in the background are where Durango is. I love Durango. I love Mesa Verde. What a great area.

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I avoided most of the rain while riding, but I was often the highest thing on the Mesa and wondered if my electric motor and battery pack would attract or repel any lightning. I must of seen close to 100 lightning bolts in the time I was there. Not flashes, but bolts.

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A little back story. This is the “Sleeping Ute” mountain. Link here: http://deewebs.homestead.com/ute.html. The natives believed this was an ancient warrior god who was wounded in battle and had laid down to sleep and heal his wounds. I had to take some photos with this in the background.

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Cloud burst hitting Cortez, Colorado

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After a bit of rain, I went back to the Mesa Top Loop at sunset. Fun and beautiful…and I was the only one out at that time of day (the road closes at sunset…so I was pushing it a bit and thought I might end up getting my second unfriendly Ranger visit…but I finished before the road was locked shut. Lots of wildlife out and about at sunset. I didn’t have any issues as my motorcycle was driving past them before they knew I was there. Quiet is nice. One thing of interest. I’m use to white tailed deer. At Mesa Verde they have black tailed deer. They are bigger, and for some strange reason look dumber than white tailed deer. Hard to explain. They just have a slightly dim, goofy face.)

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Cliff Palace at sunset.

I mentioned about how nice it is to ride the electric motorcycle in nature. Example: early in the day when I was touring the Cliff Palace there was a group of Harleys parked up where the Empulse is in this photo. Well when they took off everybody in the tour turned and looked over as the Harleys were loud and suddenly they were part of our tour…or so it seemed. It’s not a horrid thing I guess, but it feels so much better to be moving so quietly through that place that the deer don’t even run from you.

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And the next day it was time to head back. Goodbye mesa tops. Hopefully in a few years as the tech improves, and there is more quick charging infrastructure, I won’t be trailering my next Brammo motorcycle.

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And coming down off the mesas I can see my next stop…Durango.

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Why stop in Durango? Ska Brewing. Had to pick up a few shirts and hats and such. And the Ska Brewing truck matches my black and white themed bike.

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And I had to get some Breakfast while I was there.

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Till next time:

Gavin

**Next time I go to Mesa Verde: I can ride from home to Cuba, NM. 80 miles of highway is pushing it, but I will likely stop for breakfast (a real breakfast, not a Ska Brewing breakfast) and get a few more miles of range by charging at that stop. I will charge to full in Cuba and then drive from Cuba to Bloomfield. I can stay the night in Bloomfield (never thought I would say that) and charge overnight. Next day, drive from Bloomfield to Durango. Charge while getting breakfast. Then Durango to Mesa Verde. Charge overnight. Couple of days in Mesa Verde and head home. Adds a night in Bloomfield each way (boring), but then I’m only taking the bike which is nice. And getting lots of riding in, which is nicer. There is some beautiful country between Albuquerque and Mesa Verde. Charging at Cuba could be a pain, but I think there should be 220 at the local RV park.

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For more info on Brammo, please visit: www.brammo.com
For more images, photos, discussions and all around Brammo goodness: visit, lurk and maybe join: www.brammoforum.com

Bonus:

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some photos, without the bike, from my trip:

IMG_7683morning from my room…at 8135 feet. Panorama.

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IMG_7687Excavation of a Pit House (approx 600 AD)

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IMG_7690Work being done on this cliff dwelling

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IMG_7720Cliff Palace from above.

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IMG_7748Cliff Palace from the far side heading out.

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IMG_7745A Kiva at Cliff Place.

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Inside a Kiva that was rebuilt at Spruce House.

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