DAY 5 9/4
I start the day with my brain turned off. The bike is standing fairly vertical and I am loading the right pannier. The left one is empty. Then I stack something on top of the pannier that I am loading. The bike falls over but I catch it just before it goes too far for me to handle. I move the bike to more level ground and finish loading the panniers. Then I close the padlock on the pannier. For some reason I am convinced I just locked my keys in the pannier.
There was still some people in the parking lot, but after dropping off backpackers, they were starting to leave. I didnít want everyone to leave before I got my keys otherwise I would be stranded. I ask if anyone has any tools. Thank goodness nobody had any because I was ready to cut the lock or try to beat it off with a hammer. I eventually find my keys somewhere at the campsite. I feel embarrassed and release all my hostages.
I ride out to the paved road. When I get up to speed the hydration tube starts to flog me. I forgot to re-route the tube so I have to stop and route it. A few minutes later I stop again because I forget to wire the gps to the dc outlet. Every morning it is like this. I have to stop 2-3 times the first 10 minutes because I forgot to do something. After a three stooges start I am moderately intelligent the rest of the day.
I make my way up to Scenic Byway 12. I had planned to take the Cottonwood Canyon road, but was talked out of it at the ranger station. I was told that it was very wet and slippery and a lot of vehicles were getting stuck. I decided to take the pavement. I am disappointed but I think I will be back to this amazing area again.
And the old.
I have a little tourist map of the dirt roads off of Scenic Byway 12. I decide to follow one. It starts out like a ski slope. Groomed at the top then moguls near the bottom. A lot of the roads I took were like that. It got a little worse than the pictures show, but it never got too bad. Even for me.
Near the end I found what looks like a ski jump into a pond.
When I reach the pavement again I see that the road took me right back to 89 where I was about 90 minutes ago. My next stop is Kodachrome Basin state park. I got the last camp site and paid dearly for it ($24). But it was money well spent. It was too hot to set up camp so I dumped the luggage and explored some of the hiking trails. I can't hike too far or fast on this bum hip, so I only do the short trails.
The DR almost looks like a pocket bike here. Hard to believe it is 425-450lbs (fully packed). The store looks big but it ain't got jack.
Dramatic entrance (exit view here) into the park.
Aerial view of campground.
The giant wiener stood guard over the campground and made us feel safe.
This park is very photogenic. Guess that is why it is called kodachrome.
DAY 6 9/5
The next morning I explored Kodachrome a little more and head back to highway 12.
It was very windy when I stopped at a cafe in Escalante for lunch. I ordered my food and called home. Soon someone walks in carrying my helmet. He tells me my bike fell over and he saw my helmet rolling down the parking lot. It takes two of us to get the bike up. I never would have lifted it by myself, even if I removed all the luggage. The parking lot had a little slope and the kick stand was on the wind side of the bike. As heavy as the bike was I didn't think anything could blow it over.
After lunch I take the Hells Backbone road to Boulder. While on the Hells Backbone I had a moment of exceptional stupidity of which I will keep to myself.
Once in Boulder I looked for the Burr Trail. Wow, what a great road. It started out between red rock cliffs.
The entrance into Capitol Reef National park was spectacular. Unfortunately I could not capture it with my camera skills.
The Burr Trail snakes down through hairpin turns along a cliff wall.
I wanted to catch the ferry at Bullfrog and camp on the other side. I missed the last ferry so had to find a place to camp on this side.
DAY 7 9/6
The day is starting out with great weather just like every other day so far.
I manage to get on the first ferry. There I meet Eric on a KLR and Bruce on a GS. They were just closing out their ride. I join them on the other side for lunch. Bruce lives in Telluride and he invites me to stop over on my return. I have no plans on where I will go after Utah. I make what will be a wise decision to include Telluride on my return.
My next stop will be Natural Bridges National Monument.
There are Indian ruins in there. I am a ruin junkie too.
I am finished with bridges and its on to Monument Valley via the Moki Dugway. I check out Mulay point before going down the Moki. Mulay was rightly recommended as a good place to camp.
I went by Monument Valley 30 years ago, but the fog was thick and all the way to the ground. I totally missed it. Today is a whole different story.
This place is really touristy but it is easy to see why. From the huge visitor center, there is a dirt road that heads down to the monument. It has a bad sandy section on the initial downhill. The right side going up was the worst. Cars were getting stuck trying to come back up. I made a mental note to myself to take the left side when I exit.
The road down among the formations was generally on the crappy side. I would not want take my passenger car there. It looked like a lot of money was pouring in to this place but none was spent to maintain the road.
When I left Monument Valley the shadows were getting long. No way would I make it to Mulay point before dark, plus the road to the point was several miles long and sandy. It would be dark by then and I wouldnít see anything anyway. I pass up a great camp site to stay at another good site in Valley of the Gods. Valley of the Gods was the opposite of Monument Valley. There were no tourists and the road was in much better shape. I find a suitable camp site. I notice too that I lost both MSR bottles. Good riddance.
DAY 8 9/7
This morning I am going up the Moki Dugway. The Dugway climbs up a cliff, with many hairpin turns. It is fun in both directions. The road to the left is the Valley of the Gods loop.
Today's plan is to take an off pavement route to Moab and see some of the sites along the way. I stop at a ranger's station and ask how I can take Beef Basin road up to Canyonlands. I was told it might rain (which it did) and am advised against it. I donít know what it is about me, but it seems the rangers take one look at me and advise me not to do it. Maybe I need some scars or tattoos or something. I take their advice and stay on the pavement. They also tell me about several indian ruins nearby. The first is between two mile markers. There are two dirt roads with cattle gates between the mile markers. I try both but the trails basically disappear and deteriorate into rock. I start to worry that if I make one mistake and the bike falls over, Iím screwed. I turn back. I probably missed some great ruins here.
I take another dirt road to the trailhead leading to the Firehouse ruins. There are no signs pointing to them. It was about a 40 minute walk to the ruins. They were pretty impressive. The ruins were far from any road, and there were no tourists, guards or roped off areas.
Another interesting piece of road.
I see a sign for Arch Canyon pointing down a dirt road. I put my supercomputer brain to work and figure out that there is a canyon that way. I follow the sign and after 2 miles I get to this water crossing. It basically turns into a sand pit on the other side. I decide to turn around and go back. When I get perpendicular to the trail, I can't back the bike up at all to turn it around. Just the slight uphill in the sand made the bike immovable. I realize the only way out of this situation is to go forward. That means I have to go through the weeds and the creek, then turn around in a pit of sand. All without dropping the bike. You can see on the right the path I took. I managed to turn around in the sand pit which is just past the top of the picture. So happy I learned a little about riding in sand before this trip.
Safe and sound.
Back on the road again I found these cliff ruins. I thought they would be close to the parking lot, but they were a mile away. It was worth it but my hip probably didn't need another 2 mile hike.
I am now on the way to Canyonlands southern entrance to look for camping. On the way I pass by Newspaper Rock.
When I get to the Canyonlands entrance I can see it is raining hard in the park. Not wanting to set up camp in that mess, I head up to Moab. I hope I beat the rain. When I get to Moab it is raining, so I backtrack to a KOA I passed a couple miles ago. It costs $27! Ouch! But the hot evening and morning showers were a real treat. It was only misting while I set up camp.
I see in the campsite next to me was a BMW Dakar. The bike belonged to Alex who was doing a solo trip of his own from California. We talked a bit that evening. He had just been to Monument Valley too and got stuck coming up the right side of the sand hill. He required onlooker help to get the bike out of there. I am thinking his setup probably weighed 500+ pounds. Good thing there were people around.