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Old 07-31-2013, 12:14 PM   #91
El Explorador OP
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Joined: Apr 2011
Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
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Muchas gracias amigos!

Got some down time so I wrote up a bit more, good to see people still read this thing :)
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Old 07-31-2013, 12:17 PM   #92
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Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
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Wild creatures rise with the sun.

I pack up my gear in near darkness, sit again to listen to the canyonwind lullaby, watch the sky lighten. I realize I want to spend weeks here. I need to spend weeks here. This whole part of the world, it soothingly overwhelms my wanderlust with its endlessly layered wonder and beauty. I feel love for the earth and the world that surrounds me, empty of tainted minds and petty desires.
Sometimes you just need to be alone in the natural environment to be reminded of the beautiful simplicity of being; shed the layers of abstraction placed on the daily imitation of life.



I have lots of time to hone these thoughts Ė inflating my tire back to 32 PSI takes about 375 pumps with my tiny handpump. Iím doing this after escaping Point Solitude the easy way. Thereís frost on the fields, alpine flowers covered in crystals ablaze in the morning sun.

I had originally planned on passing through here in a day. Itís going to be a hard ride to California, but apparently Nevada is just endless desert and no cops. Might be a fun place to play on the way back, but at least getting through quickly wonít be a problem.

Ah, I can be such an optimist.

Racing past the majestic Vermillion Cliffs, the gut-wrenching sound of grinding metal announces the next chapter of my adventure Ė mechanical troubles in the appropriately named Bitter Springs. I had adjusted my chain before leaving the Grand Canyon. Guess I overtightened.
A native lady happens by in her truck and tells me I need to go to a town called Page for a new chain.

Too many people lead lives directed by default Ė unexamined fear of the unfamiliar. Grotesque serpents lurked in ancient maps, ďHere Be MonstersĒ at the edges, where lazy cartographers insisted the world ended so they could declare their work done. It seems this attitude has survived the test of time, where people see monsters lurking in any unknown. Maybe this is an ancient survival instinct, back when there really were monsters in the dark.

You find yourself really trying to get into the heads of people when hitchhiking.

I sweat next to my lamed steed with my thumb out. Occasionally a car will pass by, and I try to flag it down Ė no dice. In the intense heat the minutes feel like hours as car after car plays it safe and decides to speed past me. Iím less perturbed by the fact that I donít get a ride than that nobody even stops to ask if Iím okay. I knew this would take a while, but it wears at my faith in mankind that self-concern keeps anyone from making the barest of efforts to extend at the very least an offer for a cell phone call to a tow truck. Then again, I am in a state where regular citizens carry firearms to protect themselves from one another.

Whatever, Iíll hike if I have to.

Fortunately, as Iím considering unpacking the bike to switch gear for just such an event, my ride arrives. Iím glad to have sweat it out to run into Troy. Heís going to what he claims is the most desolate and untouched part of the United States, a confluence of canyons, days into the wilderness by foot. He gives me his card, on it a quote by Everett Ruess, whom he calls my kindred spirit:

ďThough not all my days are as wild as this, each one holds its surprises, and I have seen almost more beauty than I can bearĒ

Iím glad to have had to opportunity to meet this fellow wanderer on the road; he kindly takes me right up to the moto shop where they hook me up with a new chain that I slip into my jacket before heading back out for the next Trial of the Indifferent Highway Travellers. Remembering the previous attempt, I pick up some hydration at a gas station and decide to start walking in the direction I need to go. Should I hold my thumb out the whole time or just try and shoot out my hand when I notice cars coming? It would be easiest if I walked backwards but thatís so slow. If I face ahead I canít try to make contact and guilt them with my eyes. Youíd think Iíd be better at this by now...

After a walk that probably wasnít nearly as long and tortuous as it felt, a sweet girl named Aquilla picks me up. When I tell her where I need to be she takes me to her momís so she can meet me and approve. Itís a welcome respite from the road Ė next thing I know theyíre serving up some delicious home cooking and showing me her momís fossil collection. They identify a cool rock I found in Moab as a jellyfish fossil; I decide to leave it for her. What am I thinking, carrying rocks around anyway? They come to the conclusion that if I want a ride Iíll have to cough up $40 in gas to cover the distance and suggest I hitch to save money Ė no hard feelings. Aquilla makes a cardboard sign for me that reads ďBitter SpringsĒ. Apparently thatís what all the cool hobos are using these days.



Aquilla leaves me out by the road and in no time (relative to the last couple) a native couple in a large pickup offer me a lift Ė the lady says she saw my motorcycle already when I tell her where Iím headed. She and her son Alex tell me about Dine, The People, as the Navajo call themselves. They try and explain their philosophy, living under the ideal of ďwalk in beautyĒ.

We talk about native art and its influences. They confirm that the famous geometric weavings are indeed a reflection of the world around them, and as such a skilled eye can tell where a weaving is from just by the pattern. Their idea of the ďspirit lineĒ intrigues me Ė once finished a weaving, they will weave a line through it, breaking the pattern. This is the spirit line, the catharsis that allows the energy that goes into the creation of something so consuming to be passed back out from the piece. Keeps them from going crazy, Alex tells me.

Bob, an older gent on a DR650, stops by as I finish putting on my chain and offers to help. I think Iím done, but the engine refuses to turn over. He helps me try to pushstart the bike several times, and we pore over the damn machine until for a couple of hours until by a stroke of luck my good man Jimmy stops by and loads the bike into his truck. No photos, as it was his employerís truck and heís technically not supposed to be helping people out like that, but thatís just how awesome this guy is. We shoot the shit out by the dealership, which is of course closed; talking bikes and listening to Bob unravel the strings behind the housing bubble. The United States is fascinating, so many layers to consider.

Eventually Jimmy heads out and my good friend Bob offers to camp out with me overnight Ė I think he is getting a kick out of this. I get a can of salty edible stuff from the gas station across the road and he gets a sandwich. The stars are sharp and bright from inside my hammock; life is good.

The next morning Bob heads out after sharing a banana with me. Good man, I definitely appreciated the company. The garage lets me roll in my bike and says itís cool if I store it there and fix it up. Top notch, guys! The kind lady across the road lets me use her computer and the KLR forums lead me to the culprit Ė the chain cut the stator wires. I walk into town, musing my options.
Iím surprised to discover couchsurfers in this small town, and even moreso to secure a shower and place to crash for that same night. On my walk in from the outskirts of town a car driven by some native ladies stops and a really pretty girl gifts me a water bottle and tinfoil wrapped ďNavajo TacoĒ. Iím touched by the unexpected kindness. Thank you just doesnít cut it, doesnít come close to describing how good it feels to share food, how relieved to meet people concerned for others after withering under the indifference of the highway and the sun all day. Also, the taco is delicious.

That evening I meet with Korey, who is awesome enough to not only offer me a place to crash but feeds me succulent baked salmon with sweet potatoes and spicy tangy mayo. I shower off the accumulated grime from my latest adventuring and uncover the skin above my ankles, raw and cracked from the abrasive grit on the road getting in my boots. I smear it with polysporin and get some welcome rest on Koreyís couch.



The next morning he has to head out, heís going on a trip with his girlfriend and Iím ever grateful for his generous offer to let me stash my gear in his shed while I sort my situation out. I fail miserably at fixing the bike by pigtailing the sheared stator wires together, proving once again that enthusiasm is no replacement for experience in the world of motorcycle repair. Iím not going to make it to California on time to get Lostís oil burning problem fixed. The only important plans I had are in shambles.



The motorcycle community comes to my rescue once again; thanks to endorsement by the exemplary Wyman Wynn I shortly have the entire project organized to take place at another community memberís garage in Flagstaff. All I have to do is wait for a replacement stator to arrive. Iím feeling enthusiastic, as bad as these past two days could have been they turned out into excellent learning experiences and Iím not doing too shabby, all things considered.

So begins my week in Page and the unexpected adventures in this tiny town.
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Old 08-02-2013, 12:53 AM   #93
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Although short and not often updated (how they should be, really - the writer should be too busy adventuring), this is one of my favourite RRs.
What camera do you use Explorador? Your pictures are stunning.
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Old 08-02-2013, 09:20 AM   #94
blake716
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Subscribed. Great ride report!

I wish I would've seen this thread a long time ago and known that you were going to New Orleans.

Now you've sparked my interest. I'm going to Jazzland (Six Flags).
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Old 08-02-2013, 09:38 AM   #95
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Travel safe, my friend. Your pix and words are amazing.
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Old 08-03-2013, 12:25 PM   #96
E-Bum
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Great writing. Your polarizer has made your landscape photos stand out. I am also curious what camera + lense set up you're using.
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Old 08-08-2013, 03:35 PM   #97
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Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
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Nicola, Thanks, that's exactly how I feel!

In these photos I was using a t2i with sigma 10-20 (loved it) and a canon 50mm 1.8.
My current gear is a Canon 5dMKII an 17-35 lens. Open camera bag fell off a cliff and sent my 50mm into the river, and smashed the 24-105. Hopefully I can at least find a used 50 here in Guatemala (yes, the report is very, very far behind haha).

Blake - Go there, it's a surreal gem that won't last forever. Careful though, they're supposed to come down hard on trespassers (if they actually catch them)


Adventure Poser - Thank you very much, I worked hard on them :)


Thanks E-bum. The polarizer helps but lightroom is the real trick to getting the hazy distance to sharpen up, the blues tend to fog up these distance shots.
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Old 09-10-2013, 09:37 AM   #98
Kevan Garrett
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Absolutely wonderful RR

Hey LX.

Absolutely loving your ride report.

Great pics, stories and philosophy. Keep riding. Keep learning. Keep sharing with us and all the wonderful people you meet.

And above all please be careful. I don't mean "quit climbing everything" but don't get caught up with pressing because of arbitrary schedules. It's easy to get summit fever and press on when you should stop and rest. Be safe. Most things will still be there when you get there.

Peace

Kevan
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Old 09-12-2013, 06:49 AM   #99
WHYNOWTHEN
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Awesome!
More please
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Old 09-13-2013, 12:14 PM   #100
El Explorador OP
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Hey Kegs, love the advice. Don't worry though... I left on July 28 2012, and am currently in Guatemala. No summit fever here, I'd rather have figured out how to grow wings before I get there, jejeje.
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Old 09-13-2013, 12:28 PM   #101
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WHYNOWTHEN View Post
Awesome!
More please

Ask and ye shall receive:

First order of business in Page is to explore; itís actually an interesting place to walk around.








While chatting with Ron, owner of a local coffee shop, I ask about The Steps, a hike Korey told me about last night. He insists on getting my familyís contact info in case I donít return. I thank him but insist I can handle myself. Korey himself had told me it was a hardcore trail, and at the park rangerís office they seem determined to deny the existence of this local legend. Intriguing.

The path just to arrive is arduous, and the trail itself takes a good hour to locate but finally I spot a cairn marking a path. Twenty minutes later, a very disappointed El Explorador makes it to the bottom. This was not the legendary Steps trail, it was too easy. I must have taken the Ropes trail instead.

Iíve brought some nuts and berries and plenty of water along with my camping gear, but this place is uninviting. The dam has lowered the water recently; exposed algae and aquatic life suffuse the shores with a thick marine stench. I wander along the shoreline, hoping to see the steps trail from below and catch it on the return. The water comes from the frigid bottom of Lake Powell Ė too cold to play in. Clouds of gnats swarm and bother as I make my way to the dam, no sign of any path leading back up. Eventually I admit defeat. It sucks at the bottom of the canyon, Iím not staying here, The Steps has eluded me.

A crevice leading to the top seems to offer a way to save the dayís underwhelming adventure.



I hoist my backpack on my shoulders and begin. Last night Korey and I talked about the sandstone walls here and their tendency to shear off in large chunks. Thoughts of car-sized slabs of stone dislodging with me attached keep my moves conservative as I climb, pulling my bag up behind me by hooking my tripod through the straps. I have to analyze each route carefully before climbing, these ledges arenít solid enough to stop me if I come crashing down on them. Beautiful hand and footholds reveal themselves to be treacherously unstable on closer examination, most of the way Iím shimmying up the crevice instead of climbing the slick face.

I have to deviate at one point when I find myself at an impasse, massive sandstone flakes tempting me to test them but the commitment is too final, their stability uncertain.



This looked way easier from the ground.

The route to the next ledge is sandslick and uncertain. Iím tired, and out of water. Muscle twitches in my legs indicate I still require more hydration. The sun is getting lower on the horizon Ė even if I make it past this, I canít see what lies ahead. If I get stuck too much later on Iím going to have to climb down in the dark.



Itís a rough call to make, but thereís no question that as close as Iíve been playing it with margins of safety to get up here, to try and make it any farther is a crosses that thin red line to beyond merely challenging myself.



I gave it my best shot; the canyon can win this one. With a sigh I begin to head down, the awkward positioning necessary for downclimbing even more precarious with my load. After descending to the first ledge I decide to just toss the backpack over and meet it down there.

Thud. Silence. THUD. Silence. The moment stretches, and with a final resounding impact my bag reaches the bottom. The sound reverberates up the canyon walls. Thatís exactly what a body would sound like, I canít help thinking.

The sun no longer reaches into the canyon when I make it to the bottom. I make swift tracks to the easy path, which is looking harder and steeper as the last of the light slips away. The rough texture of the rocks underfoot is losing definition in the dimness; I have to be careful to avoid tripping. By the time I make it to the top darkness has fallen, bighorn sheep scramble around me and one stands proudly on a bluff, dramatically silhouetted against the cobalt sky.

Iím completely disoriented, so I aim for the power station, deciding to play it safe instead of bushwhacking through the desert at dark. Safer, anyway, I remember the refinery incident in Louisiana and decide not to use my light. Nobody bothers me though, and I jump a gate to the main road.

Iím lucky to get a lift to town, where I stop in at the only game in town open Sunday evening for some much needed revittleization. While waiting for a table, I have a conversation with a guy who ran a hundred miles over 28 hours. Suddenly I feel less tired.

After being seated I order the cheapest thing on the menu and have a chat with the Ali, my cute waitress, about my day. She returns later, ďI told the other servers about you, weíre going to buy you dessert since youíve had a hellacious dayĒ. Well all in all I thought it was fun Ė but Iím not saying no to free pie, which is heavenly, warm, and served with ice cream.

Nourished by the adventure and the kindness of strangers, I walk over to the ridiculous golf course. I think of the conversation I had with Kenton about how much need there is in this country, and how regardless every suburban house sinks resources into utterly useless grass maintenance. Wonder how much water it takes to keep that lawn green. I tie my hammock between two posts demarcating the border, and lie down to reflect.

Itís been a good day to be stranded in Page, Arizona.

The next morning I visit Beans coffee, just to let them know Iím alive, and they treat me to a fantastic pancake for the accomplishment of waking up not dead.

Most of those calories fuel what is to become my daily trek to bathe in Lake Powell. After washing, I approach some Mormons in their late teens and tell them Iíll hurl myself off a cliff for a ride to town. They bite, and we fling ourselves into space again and again from higher points each time. The highest point is apparently 90 feet to the water.

The empty sound of rushing air after our lungs run out of scream is engraved in memory, a moment entirely captive to gravity and momentum. I almost break my nose from the force of the water. 90 feet is high. After climbing a massive metal chain back to the top, Justin tells me heís broken his nose twice off this one, then invites me for a burrito.

Seems falling is the thing to do around here, the next day I run into another group, one of whom turns out to be named Blake as well. I declare a Blake-off, only the most radical of us will keep the name. The inevitable cliff-jumping contest ends in us wisely calling it a draw.

After talking with him and his friends for some time they try to offer me money. I refuse, telling them that they should keep it for their own adventures Ė I live like this by choice, if I wanted more money to live on I could earn it, and even then I would probably just save it and stick to my budget. Regardless the argument culminates in them stuffing five bucks in my shoe, and gifting me another dollar folded into a triangle. Keep this in your wallet and youíll never go broke, they say.

I gratefully accept the token, rethinking my reluctance. I value independence, but it is rude to refuse the generosity of others. People may be charitable to reinforce a self-image or as part of their values as much as anything else - it's not all about me. I give them a crazy-looking spiral bone I found as a token of appreciation.



Iíve managed to be pretty frugal here, but still need to tighten my belt to undo the damage this stator is doing to my cash buffer. Conveniently the tourist setup here provides an excellent opportunity for the creative forager Ė hotel morning buffets. The food is decent, and the price is right Ė I just walk in, sit down, and eat like a regular guest.

For a few days of waiting I just wander around, trying to subsist off as little as possible during this unscheduled detour. Breakfast, chill, wash up in Lake Powell, explore, hang out around town.

The stator does come in eventually Ė Angela from the gas station sees me hitching out the post office and gives me a lift, invites me to come out and play ďantelopeĒ in the evening. The engine thrums, and I bid an excited adieu to the wonderful people at Page Honda whose charitable assistance I won't soon forget.



I've enjoyed the relaxed pace these past few days... but now I am reborn. Getting to the lake takes mere minutes now, I find a new friend and we enjoy the lakeside together.



I stop around town to prove to everyone I really did have a bike and wasnít just another hobo with a good story. Korey suggests I use my newly regained mobility to check out this cool hike nearby.

I do, and it is, once again, one of the most gorgeous and unearthly places I have ever had the privilege of visiting.

Words canít do this place justice.

The Wave, Arizona.











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Old 09-14-2013, 06:39 AM   #102
El Explorador OP
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Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala, and going down!
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Just got added by the Page Honda guys on FB, any of you out here on ADV?
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Old 09-17-2013, 07:37 PM   #103
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Fantastic pictures - 90feet jumps -Respect!
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Old 09-17-2013, 07:48 PM   #104
blake716
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one of whom turns out to be named Blake as well. I declare a Blake-off, only the most radical of us will keep the name.




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Old 09-19-2013, 06:52 AM   #105
El Explorador OP
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Thanks Rob, if you ever make it out to Page you should try it!

Blake, be prepared! hahaha
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