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Author Topic: BBB2010 - The Wonders of Utah (Part 12)  (Read 1988 times)
Ghost Rider

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« on: July 27, 2010, 06:40:11 PM »
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Next on the daily agenda was Escalante and the Grand Staircase.  The natural wonders just continued to unfold, one after another.  The landscape gradually changing over short distances.  A lot of elevation changes and curves.

I was disappointed at first with Escalante, in comparison to the previous scenery it seemed not to offer nearly as much.  But I stopped to document the experience regardless.  Parts of it seemed to be very repeatative, with smaller vistas.  Not nearly as awe inspiring as the towering monoliths and canyon walls of earlier in the day.  But it still had a lot to offer.

I passed through another nameless small town, where it was time to fill the tank with gas.  As I stood at the pump, a truck pulled into the lot and parked at the pump in front of me facing me.  A grizzled older fellow wearing a bandana hopped out.  He glanced at my bike, strode right up to me and said “Hi!  Are you the lady from Red Deer?”

A little surprised, I answered, “No.  I'm from Calgary.”

We both stood and looked at each other for a moment a little puzzled.  Red Deer is only an hour and a half from Calgary.  And it seemed totally out of character for a total stranger to drive up to me and ask if I was from another town in Alberta in the middle of Utah's wilderness.  Given the direction of travel and how the truck had pulled up there was no way that he could have seen my Alberta plates either.  It was odd.

The gentleman remembered his manners, and introduced himself as the Desert Doctor, the only bike mechanic within 400 miles.  He explained that he was looking for a woman who had called him who was travelling with a group from Red Deer.  He found it absolutely amazing that he had found someone else from Alberta down that far south given the timing.  It was another odd moment, almost like running into Guy and Guy from Quebec three times on the trip.  One of those moments which make you marvel against the odds, and feel that the universe has singled you out for a moment.  He was very friendly, as a lot of folk from small towns tend to be.  We chatted a little about the trip,  and I commented about my initial approach down the coastline.  He seemed a little amazed that a person would try a run like that on their own, expecially a woman.  I chose to take that as a compliment.  We chatted for a few minutes, and he gave me a business card, encouraging me to pass it along to any other bikers I ran into who encountered difficulties on the road.  It definitely was a promising sign, that eve n out here, in the middle of Utah that a fully equipped bike mechanic could be found.

He asked me to hold on for a moment.  Disappearing into his truck, he returned and handed me a small metal symbol, painted orange on the edges.  “This is for you. You have the true spirit of a rider and have earned it.  It's a road warrior for luck – put it on your keychain.”

I felt a little awkward, but smiled and thanked him.  There is something that just feels odd about accepting a gift from a stranger, no matter how small.  He gave me some advice about the road, told me where the local cops like to hang out, and wished me a safe journey.  It really was an odd encounter.

It wasn't until after I got home that I decided to try to google the term “Road Warrior” to see if I cuold find out more about the symbol.  Unfortunately my google-fu was lacking, but I've kept the three legged symbol on the keychain, as seeing it there makes me smile even if I don't know the full meaning/background of the symbol.  For me, it is the symbol of my adventures far from home.  

Sometimes there is something really special about things that you are given by others.  The value really doesn't matter.  It truly is the thought which really counts. Hanging on one side of my bike is a small Gremlin Bell that was thoughtfully sent to me by NoMo last year after my adventure with the front tire.  It has a small image of the dragon from Deals Gap, which is a nice connection to SEMF, given the origins of the board.   Every time I see it, it brings a smile to my face.  Same thing with my bike key chain.

After my odd encounter with the Desert Doctor I rode on through a series of curves which opened onto an absolutely magnificant vista.  I felt jaw-dropping awe at the incredible sight in front of me.  It's a very good thing that a roadside pullout was provided for travellers at that point, otherwise I might have lost track of the road..  From where I stood to the horizon all I could see was a marvel unfolding in front of me.  Rock, exposed in the desert.  Canyons and ridges, sandy colours in surprisingly vibrant shades.  From my high vantage point once again I felt dwarfed from the wonders that lay in front of me as far as the eye could see.  The road was quiet, as was the pullout.  I had it to myself for a short while.  Then other vehicles pulled in, people jumped out, milled around for a few moments taking quick photos, and jumping back into their cars sped away.  I stood there for a while, just admiring the view.  Photos simply do not do it justice, as with many things I encountered on this trip.

Looking down I could see the road dropping through a series of curves that promised a lot of riding excitement ahead.

Heading down into the valley, walls of rock towered above me, as I followed curve after curve through a natural wilderness.  I paused at another viewpoint to get another vantage of the view.  It was hard not to allow myself to become overly distracted while riding, and my experience approaching the Golden Gate bridge remained reasonably fresh in my mind.

As I stood there, I pressed my hand against the rock as I am sure many had done before me.  It was warm, having spent the day absorbing the hot desert sun.  In some ways it felt alive, as if I was in communion with something living and breathing, but at a much slower rate than I was.  My lifetime fleeting in comparison to the testimony it stood of the ages.

Further along the road continued along a ridgetop, dropping off at both sides.  The roadway had a very narrow soft shoulder, and one wrong move would land the bike in a canyon far below.  Signs warned of tight curves and the need to temper one's travelling speed, but no guard rails were provided to ensure that travellers didn't attempt extracurricular activites such as cliff-diving or offroading.

After riding through such wonders, it was a let down to follow the road into another national forest.  The roads had curves, and cattle.  A lot of cattle.  It was another section of free-range and the cattle seemed to think they had the same right to the road as their larger metallic encased kin.  There seemed little sense in pausing for photos here.   I fervently hoped that the trees would only last for a short time before more of Utah's wonders were unearthed in front of me.

A stop at a gas station was next.  There were a few cliffs in the distance, and while impressive, they had nothing on the landscapes that I had travelled through earlier in the day.  Here the difference was that the lush grass and vegetation that was seeming at odds with the desert rocks I had travelled through a short while before.

At quite a few sparkling new gas stations old signs stood preserved in the shadows.  Obviously this station had a proud history.

Not that much further along I was welcomed by a sign announcing Capitol Reef National Park.  The scenery continued to be absolutely incredible.  Colourful canyons, ridges, buttes, and monoliths stood in quiet testimony to nature beside the road. More wonderous rock formations towered high overhead. They spoke to me as I rode through them.  The Castle.  Temple of the Sun and Moon.  All sorts of fantastic names were given to the rocks for the benefit of the tourist.  Perhaps so they could check off that they had seen the marvel that was the Castle.  Perhaps so that they could label their vacation photos accurately.  But the rocks are older than the names we assign them.  How arrogant it seems that we try to tame them by labelling them with names that try to stuff them into small catagories.  They are larger than that.  They have been standing proudly before we came laying ribbons of concrete and asphalt to funnel tourists past them, and will continue to stand long after we are gone.  In relation to the timelessness of these monuments to time itself, a single life seems insignificant in comparison.  

At times I find myself waxing philosophical as I stand before the majesty of nature.  A single flower or tree, no matter how majestic,  doesn't speak to my soul in quite the same way as the ocean, mountains or rock formations.  It is a spiritual experience I feel compelled to share.  Yet words and photos can not possibly convey the experience.  I felt fortunate in some ways that I was travelling alone, solitude had a lot to do with the experience.  The chatter and distraction of others would have somehow minimized the experience.  Yet I still wished I had someone to share it with.  Someone to stand beside me quietly, sharing what I felt.  Although I suspect it is a very individual experience, and another person standing there would have a similar but also a very unique experience.

As I continued riding through the wonders of Capitol Reef I spied a sign advertising a campground and opted to spend the night in the park.  It seemed an appropriate place to stop, despite the fact I still had a few hours of daylight still available to me.

Following the road towards the campground I discovered some of the local wildlife.  A few moments before this picture was taken one of these deer had made a suicidal dash across the road in front of me.  I always appreciate it when the deer's efforts in this vein are unsuccessful.  A few days previous in Washington it almost seemed that I was compelled to hit everything small and furry, no matter if it was alive or dead.  Gophers.  Chipmunks.  I'm sure I even shortened the lifespan of a few mice.  I was glad not to have partaken of the opportunity to go for anything larger.

A small farm was situated right beside the campground.  The barn and horses against the wall of the canyon seemed a perfect photo opportunity.  One of the horses was curious about me and the camera, perhaps hopeful that I had brought him a treat.

A view from my tent site.

After I had secured a campsite for the night I headed out for a short walk with the camera hoping to find the Petroglyphs.  Alas, I took the wrong turn and wound up walking along the road as dusk developed and the cliffs towering overhead fell into deep shadow.  It was going to be a long trip to retrace my steps, so I opted to try for a cross-country shortcut.  

I was in a section of Capitol Reef that had originally been settled by a group of Mormons.  The original settlement had been named Fruita in acknoweldgement of the orchards.  A few small farms that had been partly preserved nestled amongst the cliffs. This abandoned cart sat in a field, a reminder of times past.

Continuing cross country in an effort to shorten my route back, I waded through a shallow river and scrambled up a small rocky cliff, eventually finding my way back to the campground as full darkness fell.  Once again I was thankful that I had packed a pair of boots for exploring.  Quickly washing up I retired to the tent for the night.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2010, 03:53:52 PM by Olive » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2010, 05:16:02 AM »
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Great read as always Olive. 
BTW.  That cart is what we call a honey wagon.  It was used to spread ummmmm fertilizer of the natural kind.

Chief Cricket
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« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2010, 06:57:28 AM »
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...Yet another star !!!   You're going to have to buy a fairly large cork board to hold 'em all when your reports end !....   notworthy

...and Sweeper, I had the opp to drive one of those "spreaders" when I lived in Kansas...  definitely want to stay upwind  ... !   disgust

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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2010, 01:08:37 PM »
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...Yet another star !!!   You're going to have to buy a fairly large cork board to hold 'em all when your reports end !....   notworthy

...and Sweeper, I had the opp to drive one of those "spreaders" when I lived in Kansas...  definitely want to stay upwind  ... !   disgust

Good stuff Olive.....the Honeywagons were still in use here on Farms when I was a little kid......SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO....... laughing7



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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2010, 02:45:01 PM »
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So the three legged symbol, does it look like the emblem of the Isle of Man?

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