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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Historic Carpenters Bluff Bridge

With progress or growth comes change and some changes are not always the most desired.  Some changes are sad, but necessary.  The population growth of North Texas has brought a lot of changes in the roads, highways and byways and there is no end in sight to this growth.  Increase traffic has stressed and strained the actual roads as well as the drivers and riders on the roads. 

Road construction has been and is large scaled and far reaching in our area.  Fun, curvy, low traffic Farm to Market roads are more difficult to find than just a few years ago. One particular casualty to the growth is a historic one lane bridge crossing the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma.

Bridge from Texas side
Bridge seen from the Oklahoma side.
The wear and tear can be seen under the bridge
Carpenters Bluff bridge was built in 1910.  Trains, wagons, horses and people paid a toll to cross over the bridge.  In the 1960's Grayson County was deeded the bridge and it was renovated for the modern automobile traffic.  Today one lane is for motorized traffic and a deteriorating wooden walkway on on the south side.  I have walked on it, but there are holes and missing boards.
Wooden walkway on the side of the bridge

VFR idling on the bridge for a quick photo
Part of the charm of the bridge is having to stop and make sure no vehicles were already crossing.  (See video below) The rusted iron bridge provides great views to the Red River while crossing; however, due to the age, condition and the increase traffic on the bridge the two states decided to build a new bridge near Carpenters Bluff bridge and close it to vehicle traffic while allowing pedestrian use.
One lane - two bikes - Honda VFR 1200 and Aprilia Tuono
New bridge under construction
The historic bridge is east of Denison, TX on FM 120 and west of Kemp, OK on Carpenters Bluff Road/Kemp Road.  FM 120 has multiple curves and is a fun road to travel.
FM 120 to bridge and ride on bridge
If you want to experience some history before growth and progress gates off the ride head to Carpenters Bluff soon.  Authorities have not release a date for the opening of the new bridge and closing of the historic bridge, but I suspect it will happen sometime this year (2017).
Update on Carpenters Bluff Bridge on Ordinary Biker Oz Youtube channel

Friday, February 10, 2017

Loving the view from Independence

Beat The Heat Tour parked at Independence Pass overlook.
In July 2016 I led some friends on a motorcycle tour based out of Breckenridge, Colorado.  One of our days of riding included a trip to Aspen via Colorado Highway 82 over Independence Pass.  At 12,095 feet Independence Pass is the third highest pass in Colorado.
Eastern view from overlook
We turned onto CO 82 heading west from US 24 quickly passing Twin Lakes and gradually gaining elevation. Just past the lakes there is a small community with a little "surprise" as travelers enter town.
The sudden appearance of police car can make one grab some brakes
I am sure the old police car and mannequin gets the attention a lot of travelers on CO 82.  I know I grabbed some brake as I came out of the corner approaching the little community. 

From US 24 to the Independence Pass Overlook is 23.5 miles.  The road has nice curves and long sweepers until the last five miles where there are three very sharp switchbacks which require low gears.  The views a long the way are awesome!
 Video of riding down west side from Independence Pass
Sign at overlook warning riders and drivers
View from overlook - watch on YouTube
We left the overlook and continued about 19 miles to Aspen.  The portion from the overlook to Aspen did not have as many switchbacks, but still had curves, sweepers and elevation change.

We did not stay long in Aspen, it was crowded.  We stop in Leadville for lunch at High Mountain Pies.

We greatly enjoyed the ride, the lunch, the views and the fun.  I look forward to riding the area again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pizza in the Rocky Mountain town of Leadville

If you perform a quick search for "pizza" on this blog you will find I like pizza and two of my favorite pizza restaurants are located in Colorado.  Well, I found another place in the Rockies that serve up great pizza.

Our annual Moto Oz Beat The Heat motorcycle tour (we leave Texas when the temperature get high) in July of 2016 was based out of Breckenridge, Colorado.  On Thursday of the trip we rode to Aspen and I experienced my first ride over Independence Pass - CO 82.  Wow, what a fun road!  It is also a road on which one cannot afford to let his/her concentration slip.
Of course we had to stop at the overlook of Independence Pass and check out the view.  The short walk up the small hill is worth the time.  The view of the Collegiate Range with Mt. Elbert, Colorado's highest peak at 14,439 feet, was breathtaking.
After making it to Aspen and  looking around for a little while we wanted to get away from the crowd.  We  decided to ride back to Leadville for lunch.  I had read reviews on High Mountain Pies and decided we should try the pizza.  Once in Leadville it was easy to find High Mountain Pies.  The place was one block west off the main road, US 24 on 4th Street.
High Mountain Pies - 115 W. 4th St., Leadville, Colorado
The small blue building had limited seating inside, but several picnic tables outside.  There was a good crowd at the restaurant even after 1:00, which signals people must like the place.
Due to the size of our group we commandeered two picnic tables and ordered some pizza, salads and drinks.  The outdoor seating was a nice atmosphere and we enjoyed the crisp mountain air.

The pizza was handmade to order.  We did not mind waiting the 20 or so minutes.  We relaxed in the shade sipping our drinks.
 Being a bunch of guys we ordered the all meat pizza with thin crust.  The pizza arrived fresh and hot.
Hot meat pizza from High Mountain Pies

By the end there was no need for a doggie bag.  All the pizza was eaten.  The ingredients were fresh, the spices were flavorful and the crust was a great base for all the toppings.  I love it!  If you are riding through Leadville, Colorado and it is time to eat stop by High Mountain Pies - you will not be disappointed.