|DAN PETERSON'S BIKERS' GUIDE
TO LESS TRAVELED ROADS
WINTER RIDE '06—For all of you who are
pacing the floor in anticipation of a new "tip sheet",
all I can say is that there will be a year's delay in that
I'm recovering from a failed attempt at a winter ride that
would have taken me (us) through Death Valley, south-southeast
Arizona, part of New Mexico and Nevada. The trip was cut
short on the second day into Death Valley when, while avoiding
several coyotes, a major collision occurred sending me to
several trauma centers and finally surgery. This ended my
winter sojourn. However, I did return with a few tips: always
wear a helmet and take along a first aid kit.
What follows cannot even be called a "tip
sheet" in that it is devoid of tips. Perhaps a "route
sheet" would be more appropriate. The following trip
cannot be as detailed in terms of mileage, rest stops, taverns
etc. as the fall (Canada) trip because it will be drawn
entirely from memory and a few notes. Hopefully it will
be useful in some way for those looking for a spring adventure
SPRING RIDE '06—DAY 1
Spearfish SD to Walden, CO
Begin, as usual, from the center of the universe
(Spearfish and the Black Hills, S.D.) traveling through
Spearfish Canyon on Highway 14, then highway 85 to Newcastle.
Continue on #85 south through Lusk Wy., Lingle (there is
a good Mexican restaurant just outside Lingle), and finally
Cheyenne. Turn west on Interstate 80 just outside of Cheyenne
and ride to Laramie. It will be tempting to stop at Laramie
for the evening in that you have ridden about 300 miles
by then but overcome the temptation and take Highway 230
south out of Laramie headed toward Chowdrey. The
highway then turns into Highway 127 and the small berg of
Walden, Colorado. This is your destination—Walden.
You will want to stay at the Moose Creek Cookhouse and Saloon
on Main Street. The Cookhouse also has a newly renovated
hotel to one side and above the saloon. To call for reservations
Introduces Dan Peterson
Dan Peterson has been a close friend since we met
in the long, hot summer of 1977 while traveling
and studying in India together on a weird group
Fulbright Fellowship trip for educators. It was
Dan Peterson I talked into going with me when I
wanted to explore the dark back alleys of Calcutta,
peer into the Monkey Temple, or swim – fully
clothed – between masses of sharks in the
Bay of Bengal.
In the decades since we – and our families
– became friends, Dan and I have gone on
other odd trips together, usually to places our
families didn’t want to risk. When I needed
to go research Bangkok and its AIDS-infected sex
industry in 1992 for a story I wanted to write
for PLAYBOY (“Dying in Bangkok”),
it was Dan Peterson who suggested we spend weeks
wandering all around Japan and Hong Kong on the
way there. It was also Dan P. who said “Let’s
go for it” when we flew into Bangkok on
the last plane allowed in during a shooting revolution.
If a place has beer, Dan Peterson will go to it.
(And we were only a little non-plussed when we
were greeted at the Bangkok airport by our driver
from the Oriental Hotel carrying a sign saying
– MR. AND MRS. DAN.)
In real life, Peterson was – until 2005
when he retired – a PhD (“Dr. Dan”
I like to call him) professor of sociology (and
head of the Department) at Black Hills State in
Spearfish, South Dakota. In decades of traveling
there to hang out with Dan, I’ve discovered
that Spearfish – and the nearby Black Hills
– are some of the Best Least Known Wonderful
Places in America. It’s also near Sturgis,
S.D., which every summer – as most of you
know – becomes the site for the largest
motorcycle (read Harley, read Hawg) rally in the
world. Peterson first started studying the biker
subculture as a sociologist – producing
learned papers and videos on the subject –
but very quickly he went over to the Dark Side
(as in dark beer). He bought his first motorcyle
around age 50, before he knew how to ride one,
and his ride home from the store, so local legend
in Spearfish goes, was a case of . . . BRRRMMMM
. . .FLOP . . .. BRRMMM . . . FLOP . . . . BRMMM
FLOP. Now his bikes have grown into Harleys too
heavy to lift if he flops.
The retired Dr. Dan Peterson now spends a good
part of each year motorcycle-touring America and
Canada. His trips are rarely without adventure.
In these installments, he’ll share some
of his tour tips with those of you who might want
to ride hard, see much, eat well, drink deep,
sleep cheap, and die young. (Scratch that last
You may wonder why all such tours have to start
from Spearfish, South Dakota, but – besides
that being the place Peterson lives and has to
start from (duh) – he reminds us that the
great Sioux prophet and visionary, Black Elk,
discovered that Harney Peak, very close to Spearfish,
happens to be the center of the universe.
Some of you may also be wondering what a sociologist’s
Harley tours are doing on a writer’s web
site. To those of you, I say only . . . BRRRMMMM
. . . FLOP . . . BRRMMM . .FLOP.
-- Dan Simmons
Walden to Moab
From Walden ride Highway 14 until you reach Highway 40 and
go west to Steamboat Springs. Continue on highway 40 through
Craig and on to Dinosaur. At Dinosaur turn south on to Highway
64 and then Highway 139 south. You should get on Interstate
70 east somewhere around Loma (Highway 6). It is but a short
ride on the interstate (about 30 miles) when you will turn
off on exit 212 and Cisco. Highway 128 to Moab will prove
to be a memorable ride through a beautiful river valley. There
is also a beautiful lodge by the river, about half way to
Moab that you might consider for your evening's stop. If you
travel on to Moab you will find a number of reasonable motels.
Keep your eyes open for a restaurant on a hill (left side
of road going into Moab) and try to eat there for dinner.
You'll love the place but don't drink too much—the road
down can be a little tricky.
Moab to Mexican Hat
Take Highway 191 south out of Moab. You will
travel through Monticello and Blanding. A few miles south
of Blanding to turn west on Highway 95 and then eventually
south again on Highway 261. This will take you into Mexican
Hat. I would recommend staying at the San Juan Inn and I would
recommend reservations. Their telephone number is 970-749-1164.
A double at the Inn will cost you $70.00. They also feature
a good restaurant and it is minutes from the Valley of the
Gods and some of the most memorable scenery you will experience.
You can easily spend the rest of the day touring the area
and if photography is your hobby, this will prove to be a
Mexican Hat to The Grand Canyon
destination is the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Leave Mexican
Hat on Highway 163 to Kayenta and Tuba City. From Tuba City
you will shortly run into Highway 89 north. Take it to Jacob
Lake. From Jacob Lake you will ride south again on Highway
67 to the Lodge on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. The
view from the north rim alone is worth the trip. Hopefully
you got reservations nine or more months in advance of your
trip and booked a rim view western cabin (cost $125.00). You
can call for reservations at 928-638-2611 or email
them at www.grandcanyonnorthrim.com.
The ride from Mexican Hat to the north rim is about 315 miles.
If, for some reason, you didn't get reservation to stay at
the canyon lodge, Jacob Lake has a motel and a number of cabins.
Check them out.
The Grand Canyon to Vernal
Leave the Canyon and Jacob Lake via Highway
Alt. 89 to Fredonia. Stay on Highway 89 north through the
Brice Canyon area to Hatch, Utah. A few miles north of Hatch,
turn east on Highway 12. When you eventually reach Loa,turn
north on Highway (sort of) 72. Highway 72 will eventually
connect to Highway 10 which will take you through Emery, Castle
Dale, Price and Helper. A little north of Helper, turn northeast
on Highway 191 to Duchesne and Vernal. This is as far as you
will probably want to ride so find a room where you can.
Vernal to Buffalo
Continue through Vernal on Highway 191 to Rock
Springs, Eden and Farson. When you reach Farson, turn east
on Highway 28 to Lander Wyoming. From Lander take Highway
789 to Riverton. From Riverton take Highway 26 to Shoshoni.
From Shoshoni take Highway 20 to Thermopolis and Worland.
From Worland take Highway 16 over the Big Horn Mountains to
Buffalo. This is a good place to end the day. I recommend
that you negotiate for a room at the Occidental Hotel in the
old section of the town. You can call for reservations at
307-684-0451 or 307-684-8989.
Buffalo to Spearfish
Out of Buffalo take highway 14 to Ucross, Arvada and Gillette.
Stay on highway 14 and it will parallel the interstate until
you reach Moorcroft. At Moorcroft take Highway 14 north to
Highway 24 and Huellet. Highway 24 will take you past Aladdin,
Wy. and into Bel Fourche, S.D. Highway 34 south will then
take you back to where it all began—Spearfish S.D.