The IAFF-MG Eighth District had a very successful and enjoyable trip out to the Third Annual IAFF Motorcycle Group Rally and IAFF Fallen Fire Fighters Memorial service in Colorado Springs.
The Eighth District decided to do a long trip in conjunction with the rally route this year. We left Indiana on September 8th and journeyed by interstate to Springfield, MO. By the end of day one, all bikes were with the group at motel.
Day two was much the same, just road work to get out to Gallup, NM to start the tour through Arizona, Utah and Colorado. Only difference was the over four hours of driving rain. All marched through it. Day two ended at the Big Texan Steak House in Amarillo. Always thought of this as a "Tourist Trap", but the steaks were great and enjoyed by all.
Day three again was just seat time to Gallup but the scenery change started to hint as to what we would see.
Day four was the start of the two lane tour. After a brief moment of silence, (Sept, 11) we were off to "Four Corners". Second was over and up to the "Valley of the Gods". As this has a "wash board" gravel road through it, I ask if some wanted to go in a ways for a photo, all agreed. After they saw what most visitors miss, they decided to do the whole 17 miles of gravel. Out the other side and up more gravel switch backs we made it into Monticello, UT for the night. Most chose to clean bikes as the dust made them look sad, as well as use materials from the coolers in chase truck to clean the dust from their mouths. Most could not believe that the sites could get any better than this first day, they were mistaken!
Day five took us first through "Monument Valley", another of the many must ride areas. Once through the valley, we then headed over and up to Page to catch route 89. Right before 89 ties into 89A, we stopped at the scenic overlook of canyon we would go through on or way to the North Rim of Grand Canyon to spend the night, again, most felt it could not get any better than this. As we had several Brothers with good cameras and the knowledge to use them, Jeff Greenup volunteered to ride ahead and setup for individual photos of each bike as they passed. After a stop at Lee's Ferry we ended day at the North Rim of Grand Canyon. After a good meal and sun-set over canyon, we spent evening on patio at rim of canyon enjoying a fire provided and good company of all. Most later commented how well they slept, as cabins provided no TVs, A/C and such, cool breezes through windows and just quite provided by location was great after the long days of heat and noise of wind and bikes.
Day six was a relax day. First part was sunrise at canyon and relaxing till about noon at the North Rim. Then individuals broke off and rode their own ride and pace the short distance to Kanab, UT where we spent the night. Most spent afternoon doing a bit of laundry. Then most ate at Houston's Trails End in Kanab. Great chicken fried steak and pies a foot thick if you have room for desert.
Day seven we were off to Zion National Park, this is another must ride. We did a trip through and then a turn around and back through. It has a tunnel through the rocks. We put the trouble truck in front of us. As it had a wide trailer, they shut the tunnel down to one way. This allowed us to have both lanes for this one and one-half mile portion. I made the mistake of telling all I wanted to hear the pipes they were so proud of in the tunnel. Loud is an understatement. The entrance road on East side of Zion has a restaurant that serves buffalo burgers, it was decided to eat lunch there on our way to Bryce Canyon. After lunch we took the short trip to Bryce Canyon National Park and spent night there. The short section of highway 12 East to Bryce through Red Canyon was only a brief preview to the next days journey East out of Bryce on the same road.
We then took us east on 12 to 24 and up to I-70. Again, these are very scenic roads. If one has the time, at Hanksville, go on with 95 over to the Blanding area, great road also. On I-70 we took the short jaunt to 191 and South into Moab and stopped into the upper portion of Canyon Lands National Park. (Islands in the Sky) Hit a hard driving rain in park, some chose to go onto motel but those who chose to ride it out were given some great views when the skies cleared and sun came back out. Then we high tailed it to Motel in Moab and dinner of soup, salad and brick oven pizza at ZAX in the center of Moab. Others chose the Moab Brewery for burgers and ice cream and then the Branding Iron with great results for all.
Day eight (second day in Moab) saw two couples renting a jeep for a tour of Canyon Lands the only way you really see it, driving down into it and through it. The rest of us headed south to 211 and into the lower portion of Canyon Lands. (The Needles) I had boosted that the entry road was as good as anything they had seen to date. Well the first few miles fool you, then it drops into a canyon and some of the best riding bar none. On return trip I road one of the chase truck guys so he could experience it on a bike. I think it was more an "experience" for me! Then back to Moab and Arches National Park. Most spent time there till sunset.
Day nine took us through Colorado on 50 and over the mountains through the Monarch Pass. For once the weather was good, only dropped to 45 at pass. We had one bike break down but the chase truck was able to haul it on into Colorado Springs for repairs on Friday.
Day Ten spent Friday with some doing rides provided by IAFFMG/Local 5 and others visiting with old and new friends. That evening we took the MG provided shuttle down town. We ate at Quinn's Pub, (Great Shepherd’s Pie) and then were treated to hearing all the Drum and Pipe folks in town for the FFF Service. They cut loose out in the blocked off street in front of pub. It is hard to describe hearing all of them together.
Day 11 was about the reason we took this trip, The IAFF FFF Memorial Service. Every fire fighter should attend this service at least once in their life. Held at what I consider the Holy of Holies of the IAFF, Memorial Park in Colorado Springs, the IAFF always provides a fitting tribute to those who paid the ultimate price in service to their communities.
The group chose to ride into the night ending the day in Weekenee, KS. The group broke down further the next day with some taking the long ride home and some spending another night on the road in Columbia, MO and then on home on Monday.
I would like to thank the following sponsors of this ride. Without their support we would not have been able to support the group with the chase truck and trailer.
The Professional Fire Fighters Union of Indiana (PFFUI)
The Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois (AFFI)
Muncie, Indiana Local 1348
Kettering, Ohio Local 2150
IAFF Motorcycle Group (Eighth District)
The truck provided much needed hydration during the days we were in very sparsely populated areas as well as the added support for any bike that may have broken down. Some shared they would not have attempted some of these areas without this type of support.
We planned this trip to expose the group to what was out in these areas. We went through areas in one day that a person could spend a week in and not see all that was offered. To this end, we hope they now take time to revisit those areas and enjoy them fully.
Great ride, if you chose not to go, you missed a good one. Think about joining the Motorcycle Group, small price to pay for what you get.
Dennis Swan/Steve Strauch Muncie, Indiana Local 1348
IAFF/MG Eighth District