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Author Topic: BBB2010 - Arches and other natural wonders in Utah (Part 13)  (Read 1674 times)
Olive
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« on: July 29, 2010, 03:53:09 PM »
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The ambient light in the tent began to brighten as the sun peeked over rock formations.  Another day with promise of more great riding dawned.  I moved everything to the front of my tent, and stuffed my sleeping bag back into its sack.  Next was the sleeping pad – once flattened out it took little more room than a rolled newspaper.  Both of these were stowed in the hardsided Givi so they would remain dry for the following night.  Next I hauled the roll bag out of the tent, securely attaching it to the bike with the resident Bunji straps.  Around the back I added one more small bunji as extra insurance.  The last thing I wanted to experience on a trip was the loss of luggage. 

Next, I took down the tent.  The poles folded into a small light package, and the tent and fly stuffed into a sack also making a compact bundle which I secured on top of the roll bag with a bunji net.   I had noticed the day before that the plastic tips on the hooks of the bunji net had come off, leaving sharp metallic hooks.  Unfortunately one of them had made a small slit in the tent's sack, as well as a minor cut in the fly of the tent.  I was not very happy about this, thinking myself careless for not having noticed the problem early enough to prevent damage.  I recognized that I was very fortunate not to have shredded my tent in the process.  I was taking extra care with the sharp ends of the hooks, ensuring that they were nowhere near anything they could damage.

This was becoming a daily ritual, packing the bike and ensuring that everything would remain secure.  I remembered last year's adventure with a tank bag, when I had gotten distracted while returning to my bike.  I had exchanged pleasantries with someone who felt compelled to comment about the bike and the fact it had Alberta plates, and had completely neglected to fasten the straps.  It wasn't a problem leaving the parking lot.  It wasn't a problem on the interstate on-ramp.  It wasn't even a problem on the interstate – at least not until I was caught by a large gust of wind and the tank bag moved four inches to the right.  Something like that only has to happen once to remind me of the importance of keeping everything securely strapped down. 

After a final survey of my campsite, and a final check of my ride, I clipped the tank bag to the bike, retrieved my kickstand plate and got ready to ride.

Heading down the highway I found the Petroglyphs that I had been seeking the night before.  There were two viewing stations at either end of a boardwalk, but if you spent a few minutes hunting you could spot others along the rock face.  Art from those who had lived here hundreds of years in the past was all that remained – there weren't even graves to mark their passing.  In some ways this was the graffiti of the past, but graffiti with purpose.  Signs surmised that perhaps they were chiseled in stone by a shamen to ensure good hunting, or as an appeal for rain.  The superstitious past – not really that different from us at all.  We may not share the same superstitions, but we have created many of our own.

I took quite a few shots of the petroglyphs, and am reflecting them here.  Perhaps image overkill, but it seems to be what readers here encourage.

















Along the cliffs life struggled in rocky crevices.



I continued to ride through Capitol Reef as the morning continued to brighten.  My first stop of the day was in Hanksville for gas and breakfast.  I stopped at a small diner called “Blondies”. 

The small local places have a lot more character than chain restaurants, and can be more interesting.  The parking lot was loose gravel, and once again the kickstand plate came into play.  It was proving to have been a good investment.  The diner was a cafeteria style restaurant.  You paid up front, picked up your own food and found a table.  The owner seemed to take an interest in the fact that I was a lone biker, and peppered me with questions and told me his own stories as he kept me supplied with fresh coffee.  As we chatted, I took the opportunity to refold my map so that the highlighted route was easy to reference on the tank bag.

I continued to run up the 24.  It was a pleasant road, but fairly straight and not as much to offer for scenery.  On a trip like mine I was apt to ride some roads like this to balance out the more challenging and scenic routes.  The next turn-off was the I70/50.  Signs weren't completely clear, and I took what I thought was the right turnoff. 

It was the right turnoff if I wanted to visit the San Rafael Reef on an accidental detour.

As I headed along the highway I saw mileage signs that didn't seem to line up with what I thought should be shown.  A creeping suspicion came to my mind that I was traveling west rather than east, but I didn't have time to study my map in the heavy traffic of the divided freeway.  I reasoned that there was little I could do until I found a place to turn around regardless, so I continued to ride.  A roadside turnout opened up for a view of the San Rafael Reef, and I stopped there for a chance to stretch my legs and consult my map.  Sure enough, I was heading precisely where I thought I was... the opposite direction.  It was a good opportunity for photos though!













There was little option but to continue to travel west, as the rest area I had stopped in was for westward traveling traffic only.  I continued through the Reef, and onwards for quite some time until finally a turnoff presented itself.  Once again I headed through the curves and steep inclines traversing the pass through the San Raphael Reef.  A small consolation for having taken the interstate.

Signs advised trucks to slow down, told the tale of tight turns ahead, and quite a few brake test areas and run-offs were provided for the eighteen wheelers.  On one section of the road that had a steep decent I noticed black smoke billowing from the rear tires of the semi that I was about to pass.  It smelled like something was burning – perhaps the brakes.  I opted to get past the truck as quickly as possible, and left him far in the distance.  I didn't need the excitement of finding out what had been smoking – brakes or tires, neither seemed a good potential on this road.

A short while later I passed the exit for the 24, and was once again on the right track for Moab.  Another gas stop.  They seemed to run into each other as an endless dance.  But it certainly illustrated the distance that I was covering.  Another turn down the 191 and the signs proclaimed that I was on the right track for Moab.

There are a few different touristy options near Moab.  Arches.  Dead Horse Point.  Canyonlands.  I stopped at a gas station for a quick topup, as I had discovered that many of the parks didn't have any options for fuel.  And quite a few didn't even have options for water.  I refilled the pop bottle I was using as a water bottle.

Arches was my destination!  It was still early enough in the day for me to take a trip through the park before I had to locate a campsite for the night.  I paid my admission, and started up the steep slope with switchbacks that climbed up the cliff offering access to the park.  It was relatively tight and larger vehicles were having some difficulty navigating it.  Like many of the other roads I had encountered there were few guardrails.  On a bike a guardrail would do me little good, but there is still something about the idea of having one there.  The thought that there is something between my bike and a steep dropoff.  I've never had much interest in skydiving, and definitely didn't want to take it up with the bike. 

As I continued up the switchbacks a large tour bus had some difficulty on the oncoming lane.  He crossed into my lane, cutting the corner, and I tucked towards the outside, but not quite far enough.  He clipped my mirror which folded in towards the bike.  I swore, and concentrated on the throttle as I pulled up the hill.  On the next straight section I glanced down.  The tour bus continued to travel down the hill, and I continued to head up.  There was little point in turning around and chasing him down.  No harm was done to me or the bike,  although it had given me a real burst of adrenaline.

Arches unfolded in front of me.  Miles and miles of road wound their way through some incredible rock formations.  I had to share that road with tourists, but I was resigned to that eventuality.  Here perhaps the best thing to do is to allow the camera to speak for me in description of the towering rock monoliths that rose skyward, shapes sculpted by the elements that had stood over time.

Balanced Rock is one of the classic images of Arches National Park, and seemed an appropriate place to start.









Proof that I was there













One of the famous windows.



Another famous arch.  A closer viewpoint was also available, but I really wasn't interested in a hike in the warm temperatures.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I realized that there was a lot of wisdom in watching where you put your feet.  I had stepped on a local critter that had taken off the instant he felt pressure on his back.  This came very close to upsetting the bike, as I landed heavily on the just deployed kickstand while admiring the view of my boot as it headed skyward.





The road was full of gentle curves and incredible scenery.







Quite a few rock arches are found in the park.  Here is the famous double-arch.  A few photos show people in relation to the rock, underlining just how massive it really is. 







A perspective shot  - look how tiny the tourists are in relation to the rock monolith towering high above.



Signs around the park advise tourists to pay attention to their surroundings.  Rocks and arches can collapse without warning, usually a creaking sound heralds the start of a new landscape – one that it is inadvisable to remain near as it forms.

A few short hikes were in order to gain a reasonable vantage for photos.  Arches qualifies as desert, and temperatures were high.  I was glad to have water with me, although it quickly reached temperatures appropriate for brewing tea.





For the ladies.

















Shadows began to lengthen giving a lot of drama to a section of wall-like stone known as Park Avenue.  The colour of the rock in the shadows works well with the monochromatic sign in the foreground.





The sun hid behind the rocks very quickly.  This was the scene a few minutes earlier.



Dramatic lighting set the mood. 





As the sun was beginning to get low in the sky, it was time to leave Arches behind and continue into Moab for a quick bite to eat, and to locate a campsite for the night.  McDonalds value menu sufficed for a small burger and a cold drink.  It had been a scorcher and a cool place to sit down for a few minutes was welcomed.

I drove around the town for a while after my dinner looking for a campsite.  Quite a few were full, and I settled on an RV/tent park.  The office was already closed by the time I got there, and there was no light on the graveled road except for my headlights.  The sign pointing towards tent sites went down a very steep graveled incline, but there were a lot of open RV sites, so I chose to park the bike on a paved pad and toss up the tent beside it.  The pavement was flat and even and proved to be a good choice.  There was nowhere to stake down the tiedowns for the tent, so I opted to sleep with the fly off in the warm Utah night.
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« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2010, 07:48:40 PM »
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Another great installment  icon_thumleftlaughing7 at the "for the ladies" pic. Great writeups so far!  notworthy Not that we would expect any less.
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« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2010, 09:15:59 PM »
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My next mission, should I accept it, is to get to Arches......  Incredible !!!! 

Great shots.  Your camera speaks my language  ! ! !     notworthy 
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« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2010, 06:42:26 AM »
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Utah sucks huh........bout time ya hit Co and Wy.... laughing7  laughing7
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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2010, 06:49:38 AM »
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Be patient Aussie...  That's the next installment.

And yeah, Utah is boring rocks in a desert the same way the coast is a body of water...  It just doesn't get old.  (At least not for me).
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« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2010, 11:24:09 AM »
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Amazing pics! TY
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