Reader Ride–Colorado High Country: Back to My Childhood Home

Text: Rae Ann Norell • Photography: Rae Ann Norell, Howard Hexum

Our 2012 Honda Gold Wing purrs as we head south on U.S. 6 through the beautiful Spanish Fork region. It’s Day 2 of our seven-day journey from Eagle, ID, to Golden, CO, where I grew up. I look forward to sharing my home turf with Howard, my intrepid driver and sweetheart. He’s in for some eye candy!

But first, we have to cross the scorching July desert between Green River, UT, and Grand Junction, CO. Almost every highway exit sign for 90 miles states, “No Services.” In need of a break, we pull off anyway and stand by the bike in the blistering sun as we drink lukewarm water from the bottles that had been stored in our luggage compartment. After 10 minutes and some stretches, we begin the day’s final push for Grand Junction. Come late afternoon, lightning bolts dart from ominous-looking clouds rolling in from the horizon. Howard opens up the throttle to beat the approaching storm.

The next day, we have CO 141 nearly to ourselves as we head south toward a little-known gem—the Gateway Canyons Resort and Spa (that also has an auto museum on the property). We meander past red rock mountains, junipers, and the Dolores River. Blue skies add to the scenic delight. We stop at an abandoned café and service station that has a phone booth and rusty truck standing sentinel out front. Bees buzz nearby as we rest in the shade. We’re pleased when a group of men on Gold Wings pulls up. They hail from Alberta. One of the perks of motorcycle trips is the easy camaraderie among strangers. We tell them about the car museum a few miles up the road and recommend Ouray for an overnight stay.

We bid our new friends farewell and head to the resort and auto museum, whose red adobe buildings are beautifully camouflaged against the red rock formations. We peruse the museum’s 45 cars that range from a 1906 Cadillac Model H Coupe to a 2008 Tesla Roadster. After learning the adjoining resort costs a cool 0 a night, we stick to the original plan to stay in Ouray. As we leave the museum, the Canadian group drives up.

We step into the 1950s at Blondie’s Drive In & Café in Naturita, a town with an approximate population of 500. Burgers and old-fashioned milkshakes hit the spot. After heading southeast on CO 145, we crest a hill and a refreshing breeze drops the temperature 10 degrees. We soak in the scene of majestic snow-capped peaks in the distance. Continuing north on CO 62 to Ridgeway, we pass the town square and store fronts built for the set of True Grit, starring John Wayne.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the September/October 2014 back issue.