I’d never been to Utah before this trip. From this point on, I’d never driven any further West. I’ve spent time in Southern California before, but just about everywhere else over there would be new, so I was excited.
Our Utah destination was Moab. They’ve got these cool arches that show up constantly in middle school science books and a lot of great trails to ride. Arriving at Moab was a bit of a test. Aaron had installed a fuel filter about a month before the trip that would sometimes give him trouble. When his tank got anywhere near empty, or even on some hills, there would be issues with gas getting to the engine and the bike would stall. He removed the filter a bit earlier in the trip, but we never really got to see how far we could get on a single tank of gas (we never pushed it past about 80mph before). Not noticing any stations along the way, we had no choice but to ride and pray that we made it, as it was quickly becoming night and we’d heard that deserts are cold during that time.
When we arrived in Moab and made a record of about 140 miles on a single tank. We then put more gas in the tanks then ever before and stopped at a McDonalds for the free WiFi connection.
We were ready for beds. The general rule for the trip at this point was one night of “camping” followed by a night of regular person sleep… with beds and stuff. Upon inquiring at local hotels and motels and an internet search, we found that the average night at even unheard of and, frankly, unpleasant sounding establishments in Moab cost roughly $5,000 or a firstborn child and we didn’t have that kind of cash and our mother’s very fond of grandchildren, so we were out of luck (This is an exagerration, but seriously well out of our price range… or even what we would ever in our lives want to pay for that level of comfort). So I added an “s” to the search and we found the Lazy Lizard Hostel and had use of a small cabin all to ourselves for $38.
We fell asleep about as soon as we unpacked.
I woke up to Aaron taking his oil cooler apart. The oil problem had been slowed, but not properly fixed. Mountain showed Aaron a way to make a sort of bandage for the thing, but it had broken, so Aaron, who’s leg and boot were again soaked in oil, spent the morning remaking it and I spent it trying to do internet things with the not-so-reliable connection we had at the cabin.
At about the hottest part of the day, Aaron finally felt good about the patch-job and we decided it was time to ride into the desert. We went to Arches Park and tried some of the trails there. We realized how ill fit our bikes laden with our belongings are at traversing loose sand (or perhaps how bad we are at it). We finally started to get the hang of it when we hit some very difficult trials while trying to get to the Whales Eye. About when we were deciding whether or not to try it out, we found a sign forbidding us from doing so. Just then, a jeep passed us and slowly climbed the rockfaces ahead, as jeeps do. This brought about a debate. In the end, we decided to obey the sign and preserve our bikes. We figured people might be disappointed if we broke down in Utah… or got arrested.
We left the park after looking at a few more arches and rock formations and headed out towards Onion Creek. It’s a great dirt trail with wavy hills and creeks running through the valleys. It then climbed up into the mountains. We drove up and around until we got to the top of some scenic cliffs and pulled off the road to camp. It was just getting to the point of being too dark to comfortably ride and we didn’t want to set up a tent in the dark.
After we set everything out and looked out on the canyon. We could see two lights well out in the distance, but besides that we were completely alone. Then Aaron turned on his phone and we called our parents and checked Facebook with the 3G connection (we’re still a bit baffled by that… I mean there was nothing around for a good number of miles).
We got the guitar tuned acceptably and invented a song recalling the events of our journey.
We woke up early the next day and rode out to a tiny town Castle Rock. Three nice ladies on their
morning walk told us we could get breakfast at a resort named green … something. I cant recall now. We had the breakfast buffet and ate more than we probably ate in the previous four days.
After that, we felt pretty good about riding. So we rode. We stayed to the roads and headed South. We wanted to get to Arizona, mostly because we wanted to see the Grand Canyon.
But as we started to make good time, Aaron saw a sign and we pulled over. We asked where we might find some ancient Indian petroglyphs and the man at the ATV and bus tour building invited us in. That’s how we got to listen to a man describe his 12 year-old cougar hunt that ended in him shooting one dead with a bow and arrow while standing in front of it’s enormous stretched skin mounted to the wall.
That’s also how we learned that right along our path was an easy little off road path that would lead us to some old Indian petroglyphs (chisled) and pictographs (painted). It was also a part of the Mormon Trail. It’s actually the part where they decided they were tired and turned around.
So, worried a bit about the extra time it would take, but encouraged by the man’s confidence that it would not take long and that we wouldn’t regret it, we rode to the trail head. The we hit the sand. The sand continued. There was an uphill area of deep, loose sand that turned and then declined and continued to be deep sand. Aaron went slowly around and I lost all speed. I lost sight of him around the turn and I was stuck pushing the bike up the hill. By the time I got over it, I found Aaron with the bike on top of him. He was unhappy and, apparently not fast enough, I helped him up. We rode the rest of the way without incident, but Aaron refused to look at his foot outside the boot just in case something was seriously wrong.
We again found “No Motor Vehicles” signs and dismounted. We walked, walked, and then we wondered if we were going the right way. We saw a coral like the man told us we would, but then soon after were confused again. Then we walked more. We again wondered how it was possible that we’d walked over two miles when the man said, “Oh, you wont walk further than from here to across the street there.” We tried several times to think of different ways that sentence could be interpreted, i.e. Did he mean a further street?
After about 45 minutes of wandering through the desert, rock climbing, and getting stabbed by a cactus (Aaron stepped on a few the night before, which I found entertaining, especially as he pulled the needles out of his toes with tweasers. I discovered after this, that cacti are very painful, but it was still pretty funny), we found the place. It was nice. I think I’d seen it in a book once.
We turned around and went back the way we came. We went faster on the way back, but we’d lost a lot more time than we’d hoped we would. I strongly believe that the man understated a few things to encourage us to get out there, but whatever.
We got back on the roads and headed off into the insane heat, again, towards Arizona and the Grand Canyon.