Fran's Story

2007 Mountain Tour - Fran's Version

Day 1 – Saturday, June 23, 2007

We left the house at around 7:00 a.m., drove around the block and came back because Ken left the map on the counter.  Off again.  It was pretty warm, probably 85-90 degrees, but not unbearable.  We took Highway 87 to Payson and got there around 9:00.  We had breakfast at the Bee Line Cafe – normal breakfast stuff.  Continued on to Show Low.  We stopped at the Chamber of Commerce because Ken wanted information on some Lodge at Springerville, our first overnight stop.  Right after we went into the minuscule Chamber of Commerce, some really wide and short guy came in and everywhere I went or turned, he was usually right next to me.  He was so stealthy I never heard him getting very close behind me, I'd turn around and run right into him.  He sort of crab-walked and finally when we were getting ready to leave, he was leaning over the counter talking to the old guy running the place.  We seriously couldn't get around his immense girth.  We finally squeezed out and were on our way.  We got to Springerville about 12:30 or so.  Ken asked around about the lodge and got directions.  It was about 25 miles in the direction we just came from, but he was intent on going there because someone from his work recommended it.  It was very close to a ski slope and apparently was the happening place, but now it's summer so it was “off season”.  The place looked like a dump, no it was a dump.  We went in to the reception desk and after about 5 minutes of waiting to see if the reservation person was alive, found out we could get the deluxe room overlooking the late for $89.00.   We took it, unloaded all out stuff from the Indian, went up the threadbare carpeted stairs, past the bird poop and humongous flies in the entry to our deluxe room overlooking the lake.  Wow, what a great room – but I think they should have taken luxury tips from Motel 6.  Fortunately, it did have a bathroom.  The “lake” was some pond that was man-made with a couple of fishing boats stuck in the mud.  We changed out of our leathers and went to find a restaurant or bar to get something to drink.  We found the pool and made our way past a grill (closed), past a bar (closed) and finally up to the restaurant – which amazingly enough was closed!  We asked the slovenly person next to the cash register when it would be open for dinner and she then s-l-o-w-l-y recited the entire working schedule of the staff.  We gleaned from that that the restaurant would be open around 5:00.  We looked around.  Seriously, there were folding tables and plastic chairs with a grungy portable salad bar, circa 1970.  I dragged Ken outside and asked him how much could it really cost us if we checked out now.  It took him a couple of seconds of thought and agreed.  Back to desk person.  After about 5 minutes of deep contemplation and blank stares, she said “nothing”, so we raced upstairs, grabbed our stuff, put the leathers back on and we out of there!  We raced back to Springerville and grabbed a room at the Rode Inn – much nicer!  Out of the leathers again.  We walked around Springerville, attended an art show at the police station, had an espresso shake, had a copy made of the motorcycle key because in our haste to leave the lodge, Ken apparently left a key and his sunglasses in the room.  A whole gaggle of Triumph riders are having a party at a picnic table right outside our room.  Ken was spending a happy time swapping tales with them until I finally dragged him away for dinner.  We ate at the coffee shop we had espressos at earlier – Java Blues.  Great meal, ribs, corn on the cob, rice and beans, coleslaw and buttery cheese biscuit with honey butter.  Ken had to roll me back to the room.  We recommended it to the Triumph riders and I think they went to eat there and continued to party at the picnic table well on into the night. 

Day 2 – Sunday, June 24, 2007

We left Springerville at 6:45.  Ken found his sunglasses in his pocket – yea!  We crossed the New Mexico state line at around 7:00.  Saw a small antelope grazing by the side of the road and got hit by a bird.  It must have been one of the famous “highway birds” because they were always standing on the highway and were startled every time a car drove by.  The countryside is totally rolling hills covered in dry grass, punctuated by junipers.  The road was straight and we could see it stretching forever to the horizon.  Yawn.  We passed through various no-horse towns with names that sounded like STD's.  We rode forever and finally went over the continental divide and the countryside became a little more interesting, but not for long.  We immediately dropped back down into boring nothingness.  After awhile I noticed some triangular white things sticking up in the distance.  As we got closer, we recognized that these were actually radio telescopes and we had come upon the “Very Long Array”.  Too cool, if you ever saw the movie “Contact”, you've seen them.  We took the road to the visitor's center where an extremely large buck antelope was guarding the entrance.  He bounded off when we roared by, fortunately in the other direction.  We took the walking tour and got to be right next to one of the huge telescopes.  This made Ken very happy.  We were about 20 miles west of Magdalena in case you are planning a trip there soon.   At Magdalena we finally found a gas station open; it appears the entire state of New Mexico closes on Sunday.  We got to Socorro around noon and we were both starving.  We finally found a restaurant open that wasn't McDonalds – Sophias.  Next time we'll stop at McDonalds.  We ordered hamburgers, something that most anyone can make and those were okay, but we also ordered chili fries.  I thought it was suspect that the waitress asked "red or green", and we both picked "red".  The chili-fries turned out to be soggy french fries with (I swear I'm not making this up) Las Palmas Enchilada Sauce poured over the top.   I have no idea what they used for the "green" ones and I really don't want to know.  We headed north to Albuquerque.  It's really hot when we get there and we're both weary so we stopped at K-Mart to cool off and wander around awhile to give our butts a rest.   I told Ken we could stay in Albuquerque if he wanted instead of going on to Santa Fe.  We went to old town Albuquerque to check it out, but it was wall-to-wall tourists (unlike us) and we couldn't find a close place to park; and we didn't want to haul helmets and coats around in the heat so we decided to go on to Santa Fe.  National Geographic recommended an alternate route to Santa Fe, other than Highway 25, so we traveled east until we found Highway 14 – otherwise known as the “Turquoise Highway”.  It winds through the mountains so it was cooler riding.  Tons of bikes on this road.  We were about 20 miles from Santa Fe when we suddenly came into a tiny, obviously historical town full of tourists and bikers (Harley riders too) – Madrid!  Who knew?  If you saw the movie “Wild Hogs”, this was the town it was filmed in.   We wandered about, got a Frappacino.  The place is really cute, but only contained art galleries and “quaint” food places.  The set "Maggies Restaurant"  from the movie was still there.  We continued north to Santa Fe and checked into a Hampton Inn at about 4:00.  Of course our room is the only one in the entire hotel that they are painting the outside window trim so I'm currently being gassed out.  We found an Olive Garden within walking distance so we ate there.  Ken was happy because this one didn't suck as much as most of them.  Still overpriced – it's spaghetti – how much can that cost?  Ken loves Santa Fe and wants to live here.  Who doesn't – but who can afford it?

Day 3 – Monday, June 25, 2007

We left the hotel at around 8:00 and drove to the old town plaza in Santa Fe.  We walked about and took pictures of huge churches, religious stuff, looked at the Indian jewelry presented by the street vendors.  It's probably been 12 or more years since I've been to Santa Fe and I think it's still the same vendors.  In one of the parks, there was this statue of the “civilized” conquerors, padres, military men who “gave their lives fighting” and right there in the marble was a hacked out section before the word “Indians”.  I guess you can fill in the blanks.  Ken thought the word may have been “savage”.  I love all the censorship our current freedom of speech offers us in the face of political correctness.  Our parking meter was about to expire so we had to leave.  We headed straight north towards Colorado.  Pretty country, not very populated.  For several miles the New Mexico Transportation Department was oiling and graveling half of the road, always the preferred paving method – make the cars compact it.  Probably everyone in New Mexico has a broken windshield.  Every so often I would see a picture of a cow, below that a sign that read “No Center Stripe” and below that a sign stating “45 MPH”.  Apparently they have very fast, one-color cows in that state.  We crossed into Colorado around 11:00.  We stopped at Antonito at 11:30 for lunch at the only restaurant in town. While we were there, a couple came in on a BMW.  They were on their Bluetooths most of the time, giving instructions to their kids at home.  Ken talked to them about riding, but on their comfy Winne-Biko, I doubt they even feel the road.  Some guy overheard Ken talking about our planning to go to Yellowstone and he came over to tell us what to see.  He also mentioned that when Mt. St. Helens blew up, it changed the pattern of Old Faithful.  I said “what?” and that it wasn't Mt. St. Helens that changed Old Faithful, but a humongous earthquake that rocked Yellowstone several years ago.  He said he was from Lewiston, Idaho, like living in a college town made him smart.  When we were leaving the restaurant, BMW riders told us to “ride safe”.  Actually we had never thought of doing that.  We continued north into farming country.  We could start to see the mountains looming in the distance.  More farmland, it reminded me of where I first lived in San Jacinto, California.  Lots of antelopes. We started coming into the high country.  All day we had been riding up the middle of the Rockies, but now the mountains on both sides of us started to get closer.  We stopped in Buena Vista for the night.  Two hotels – a Best Western and a Super-8.  We first went to the Super-8.  There was a sign on the front desk that said “Ring Bell for Service”.  There was no bell.  We made bell noises, said “hello” and then counted to 10 and left.  The Best Western sold us their last room.  It would have been bad if we had to go back to the Super-8.  I had no idea Buena Vista is the whitewater rafting capital of the world so it's fortunate we got a room at all.   We walked around town and it basically was empty for being such a popular place.  We went to this restaurant because Ken was hungry and when we stepped in the door, the hostess told us that they were only serving dinner.  I asked if that meant we couldn't stay for breakfast.  She told us it actually meant "No sandwiches for you!"  I nibbled on Ken's food and drank my water, but we didn't stay until breakfast.

Day 4 – Tuesday, June 26, 2007

We left Buena Vista at 8:20.  We changed our plans about going over Pike's Peak and then dropping down into Colorado Springs.  Ken preferred to avoid the large cities because it would be like riding through Phoenix.  We headed north on Highway 24 through the Arkansas Valley, past Leadville – very old Victorian-type mining town, past a huge molybdenum mine, on constant winding roads and eventually turned off the road at a town named Frisco, in the heart of ski country.  We pulled on to the main street and passed a sign that said “Est. 1847” or something like that.  Maybe so, but only about 3 original buildings were left.  Every building in the quaint tourist trap town was no more than 10 years old.  Of course it was built to look old, but was, in fact, a totally pre-planned Disneyland town.  The place was packed with poseurs and I actually saw (this is for you, Brandon) a guy wearing a leather kilt!  We were waiting at the exit of a parking lot to pull back on the busy street when some idiot almost backed into us.  He mumbled “sorry” and went on his merry way.  It was beautiful riding in the high mountains provided we didn't get behind a Midwesterner.  The flat-landers were terrified of the heights and curves.  We stopped at Winter Park for lunch, another cutesy town.  Our waiter was from the Land That Time Forgot.  Either the 60's were good for him or he currently was a total coke-head.  The guy was driving me crazy with his zipping around and intensity for placing the 17 mini-fans in just the right spot.  Of course, relying on his long-forgotten memory, he got Ken's order wrong.  Some guy stopped to talk to us about the Indian.  He said he had a newer one and that he had moved to Colorado from Tempe because he didn't agree with the management where he was working and quit.  So basically all he did during the day now was sit in the restaurant and read the local paper.  Apparently this restaurant was also the hang-out for slackers, snowboarders and skiers; and the percentage of those in that town was quite extensive.  I kept looking out the window at the Indian and noticed small raindrops collecting on the street.  I told Ken, thinking if we left then, we could outrun the rain.  He looked outside and ordered dessert.  By the time old coke-head remembered to bring it (with psychedelic colors around my pie), it was raining pretty good.  I don't know if it was about that place – the zippy waiter, the drinking slackers or non-working guy, but I wanted to get out of there something fierce.  I grabbed my helmet and walked outside to stand under the awning and watch the rain pelt down on the Indian.  Ken came out and we stood there about 15 minutes.  I told him we should just leave because north there was blue sky and south was black, raining, lightning and thunder sky which kept looking worse as time wore on.  He reluctantly agreed and we rode out of the rain after a couple of miles.  There were hundreds of Harleys on the road – some kind of huge run, but they were going the opposite direction of us.  Outside Granby we turned to go to the Rocky Mountain National Park.  We headed back towards the rain clouds and kept riding higher and higher.  We were really high on the mountain – so high that the clouds were hitting the side and sliding down which meant we were riding through thick fog a lot of the time.  It was getting colder and foggier.  I thought we would go up as high as the timberline – but no, still climbing.  By now we were into freaking tundra, we could touch glaciers and still we climbed higher.  I was freezing, but I did learn one very important thing.  At the very top of the Rockies are rocks – lots and lots of huge rocks.  I swear it felt like we were at 24,000 feet.  Finally we started going down, but it's still really foggy and visibility is zero.  Suddenly the traffic would come to a complete stop because the flatlanders were leaving their cars in the middle of the road so they could take pictures of an elk.  Give me a break, it's a stupid elk, don't you people ever watch TV?   Not to mention the fact that they were endangering the lives of everyone with their selfish parking habits.  I wish the elk would have eaten on of their fat kids.  We finally got off the mountain directly into Estes Park – yet another tourist trap packed to the gills with people.  It was our plan to stay in Loveland for the night.  Great plan because apparently there are no places to stay In that town.   We finally found Highway 25 north and had to stop at more than one hotel to find one that wasn't full.  I think we ended up in Fort Collins.  I was really happy to get off the bike. 

Day 5 – Wednesday, June 27, 2007

We left the hotel at 8:00 or so.  Ken wanted to buy oil for the Indian so we backtracked to the huge Harley Store.  It didn't open until 9:00 and the weather sucked.  It was very overcast, not warm and raining intermittently.  When Harley finally opened, we tried on rain gear, but it is all really bulky, not to mention that “Harley Davidson” is written all over it, and we just didn't have storage room for anything that big.  We decided that we'd just have to take our chances.  We topped up the oil and headed north.  We crossed the Wyoming state line about 10:00.  The countryside is very Midwest – rolling plains, no trees, stretching to the horizon.  The subdivisions consisted of ¼ - ½ acre lots with a boring house in the middle, no trees, no landscaping, no nothing – just the house on a lot.  We stopped at Hawk Springs for lunch at the only restaurant by the side of the road.  This is total farming country and the only hang-out for the locals.  Various degrees of cowboys, farmers and farm women were in there swapping the latest news.  The daily special was shepherds pie with dessert which consisted of a piece of chocolate cake sort of dumped in a bowl.  The cake did have cream cheese frosting, so I was willing to forgive the bowl.  We continued north.  We were supposed to stop in Torrington for the night, but it was still early when we arrived there, so we continued on to Lust, I mean Lusk.  We checked into a motel from the 50's which was modernized and nostalgically cool.  We walked downtown (50 feet) and checked out the main street.  It blows me away that I actually grew up in towns as small as this.  We checked out the museum which consisted of a bunch of stuff local people had donated, so there was a lot of unusual stuff of no real value.  We walked back uptown and had pizza at the local pizza place which was extremely good – no Pizza Hut here.  We walked back to the motel in anticipation of a busy day tomorrow.

Day 6 – Thursday, June 28, 2007

We left at 6:45 and headed northeast, crossing the South Dakota state line at 7:45.  More rolling plains.  The place must have been a rabbit haven because there were dead bunny patches in the road about every 100 feet.  We stopped at a very smelly and fly-infested rest stop where some kid was on a riding lawn mower.  We looked about and there wasn't any grass to be seen.  Maybe that was his method of transportation because he was the last kid and the family had already run out of money.  The countryside started being much prettier – actual trees and bigger hills.  We came to Hot Springs and washed off the bike because it was no longer white from the rain.  We went north into Custer Park.  A million prairie dogs were living all around so we stopped and chattered with them.  There were buffalo all over the place and we had to stop several times to let them go across the road.  We weren't going to argue with them about right of way.  One time a bunch of antelope crossed in front of us to go join the buffalo and prairie dogs.  Custer Park is very beautiful – mountains and pine and lush greenery.  We took a curvy road to head towards Mt. Rushmore and had to stop because cars were blocking the road so stupid kids could feed wild donkeys from their car window.  The donkeys were in the middle of the road and wouldn't move because the kids kept offering them food.  Finally there was a tiny break so Ken roared the Indian through them.  I was hoping they'd scatter and stupid feeding people would get the message, but no such luck.  The road to Rushmore was a series of hairpin turns and one-way tunnels.  Toward the end we got a long-away glimpse of Mt. Rushmore.  More turns and finally we reached the main road to the Monument.  The visitor center has been completely changed and it's really nice.  You can get fairly close to the mountain, not contained behind glass windows like the last time I was there.  We backtracked south to see Crazy Horse.  What a rip – it was $10.00 to see a far-away face blasted in the mountain and essentially to have the opportunity to walk through a mall where the Indians were selling their stuff.  There was one window where you could look at the mountain – no nearer than the road we rode in on.  We then headed north through more mountains and great country to Deadwood because another motorcycle couple said they were staying the night there and it was a great place.  We found a hotel on the edge of town.  I hadn't eaten all day so we caught the trolley to downtown Deadwood.  It's really old, many Victorian houses and of course loaded with history.  It's also, we discovered, a gambling town.  Every single building was a mini casino.  We wanted real food, not casino food and ended up in a restaurant above a casino.  Every restaurant was a steakhouse because this place is entirely too close to the Midwest where people only know how to eat large slabs of meat.  I found ribs on the menu and they were okay.  I think Ken had a large slab of meat.  The best part was when were walking downtown and found a fudge shop.  Large slabs of fudge are better than large slabs of meat any day.  We took a bus tour of Boot Hill and saw where Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane were buried.  This really a tall hill so we got some good shots of downtown.  We learned a bit of history from “Steve”, our bus driver who still lives with his mother.  (Think Napoleon Dynamite's brother).  I'm sure she worries about his driving that big bus up the steep hills.  By the time that was over, it was getting chilly and I didn't have a coat with me so I talked Ken into going back to the hotel.

Day 7 – Friday, June 29, 2007

Left the hotel at 8-ish and headed northeast to Sturgis – blew through that one-Harley town.  I noticed the home of choice is a single-wide – must be a great place to live.  We headed west and crossed back into Wyoming around 9:00.  Followed the signs to Devils Tower.  The countryside is no longer mountains but rolling green hills.  The elevation got a little higher at Devils Tower.  It's really cool to see it from a distance and then be right next to it.  We took the 1.3 mile hike around the bottom the tower.  There were 3 groups we could spot actually climbing it, in various stages of ascent.  That thing looks pretty steep and slick to me which proves rock climbers are insanely stupid.  Got back on the road going west and it is so windy, we nearly are blown off the road.  We passed countless towns and rode through rolling green hills.  We noticed a few oil wells and passed one coal mine, other than that, not much exciting to see.  We got to Sheridan at 2:30 and found a Best Western at the west end of town.  At first they said they were booked due to 2 weddings, but the other clerk said they had a couple of singles left.  They forced us to make an actual reservation and wouldn't give us the keys until 3:15.  A whole family of backwoods rednecks were waiting in the lobby from the wedding party.  Apparently they didn't understand the concept of making reservations ahead of time for rooms the bride/groom parents had blocked for the wedding, so they were upset to learn they actually didn't have rooms because they never made reservations.  I don't know what happened to them, but I'm sure one bed is what the 10 of them are used to sleeping in.  We walked downtown and found a pub-type place to eat dinner.  After dinner we kept walking deeper into downtown and happened across a car show.  Ken was a happy guy.  There were mostly muscle cars from the 70's, a few older ones, some really nice.  Ken swapped tales with the owner of a 51 Buick.  After that, we kept walking and noticed a young redneck on a crotch-rocket cruising up and down main street and then a fatter young redneck on another crotch rock – both hoping to get lucky on a Friday night.  We went into a store that sold giant wood furniture.  Imagine cutting down a tree, peeling off the bark and then taking the entire trunk and branches and assembling them into furniture.  That's what they had.  There were giant log beds, tables, chairs, lamps and antler stuff (of course).  I really tried to imagine the home that would contain this monster furniture and we were silently laughing when one couple came in to seriously look at the stuff.  Rednecks.  We decided to go to the local movie place and saw “Ratatouille”.  Very good – I love the computer animation.  After that, it was past 9:00 and we were walking back to the hotel when we noticed skinny crotch-rocket guy had gotten lucky and had a girl clinging to the back.  We went to bed and were kept awake by the constantly barking dogs someone at the hotel had left in the back of their pickup in cages and the drones of unlucky crotch-rocket guy racing up and down the street still looking for his babe.  I'm sorry, even the drive-by shootings, police helicopters and sirens in Phoenix aren't as noisy as this town.

Day 8 – Saturday, June 30, 2007

We left the hotel around 8:00 while the town maintenance guys were busy blocking off the main road.  It must be parade day.  We headed west and saw mountains again.  The road took us up, up into the Big Horn Mountains, apparently a geological wonder because there were all kinds of signs about how old the rock was.  Again we drove up past the timberline and into the snow.  I really hate that.  Finally we started dropping down into recognizable desert – the Bighorn Basin and into Powell just as they were barricading the main street.  What goes on in these towns?  Got to Cody, Wyoming and EVERYTHING was themed around Buffalo Bill Cody.  They stopped us at the city limits and made us change into Wranglers and cowboy helmets.  Finally, about 1:00, we made it to Yellowstone.  For the first seven miles, we had to ride on gravel – always fun on a motorcycle.  We went around the big-ass lake and headed north, stopped at the bubbling mud pits and big belching steam holes.  We hiked around that and looked at heaving hot water.  Huge, I mean HUGE buffalo were wandering around.  We decided we'd best get to West Yellowstone soon or we'd never get a motel room.  It took us until 4:00, after following all the Winnebagos, Bikabagos and flatlanders going 20 MPH, not to mention stopping and blocking the road every few feet to photograph an elk.  West Yellowstone was already packed and it took us about 5 tries to finally get a moth-eaten room, unless of course we wanted to pay $250.00 for a jacuzzi room at the second motel we tried.  We walked downtown and had a very expensive $5.00 meal for $14.00 because they can get away with charging that much in Touristville.  We stopped at a coffee shop for finally some good coffee and pastries.  Now I'm ready to explode.

Day 9 – Sunday, July 1, 2007

We left the luxurious hotel around 8:00 after our scalding hot/icy cold shower with no apparent means of regulation.  It was seriously cold starting out in Yellowstone.  We went east until we came to the fork north and stopped at Monument Geyser Basin.  Being early in the morning and cold, the vents were really steaming.  We walked around probably ½ mile.  The Park Service Lady said sometimes the buffalo fall into a hot geyser, creating buffalo soup.  We went north and stopped at every amazing geyser, fumarole and steaming hot pool until we reached the northern-most intersection at Mammoth Hot Springs.  That's the one that is totally terraced with built-up minerals.  We then went east and turned south at Roosevelt.  We were riding mostly through mountains and forests.  The fire in '88 completely consumed most of the park, but the new trees have come back with a vengeance.  They are about 5-feet high and so thick you couldn't even walk through them.  We witnessed several waterfalls – yada, yada.  We came back to the same road we'd been on 3 times, but we wanted to get back to the western-most road going south.  Along the road there were some amazing scalding pools of all colors and quite a few geysers.  There was a beautiful aqua pool at Lower Geyser Basin that was at boiling temperatures and spilling over, running into the river below.  Some people tested the river water which looked to be about zero degrees and said the water was warmer than their swimming pool.  By this time, it was early afternoon and I had already walked my ass off.  Wait, no I didn't, still plenty of ass left.  Ken was still stopping at every pool and fumarole, like when we went to the Grand Canyon and I finally refused to get off the bike.  It was getting late and we still had Old Faithful to see.  Finally we pulled into the shopping mall that is Old Faithful and fortunately arrived about 10 minutes before it blew so we didn't have to wait at all.  Got the pictures, jumped on the bike to beat the exiting millions.  The most annoying thing about Yellowstone is the traffic-stopping, picture-taking idiots blocking traffic for miles.  We got hung up in one that I don't know what they were taking a picture of.  I think the stampede mentality kicked in and they were snapping away because everyone else was doing it.  Next time we're bringing a loaded gun to shoot the animal dead so they can move on.  Anyway, it was about 4:00 when we left Yellowstone.  I was a little concerned about getting in Jackson too late to get a room and we both were totally road-weary.  Right out of Yellowstone, you get trapped in Grand Teton National Park, still with the 45 MPH speed limit where the Midwesterners and Washington people refuse to go over the speed limit.  So much of the road is double yellow lined and when you finally get a break, there's always some RV in the on-coming lane.  The Indian hates running under 60 MPH (city street speed) so it was not happy.  Finally we got out of the never ending National parks and pulled into Jackson-Tourist-Megalopolis.  It was around 5:30 and there was no way there would be an available room.  The place looked like Disneyland on a Saturday.  We bucked up and continued south to the next wide spot 13 miles away (Hoback) and lucked out finding the only little resort with an available room.  That accounts for the fact that I'm writing this next to the rushing sounds of the Snake River.  We still had to ride to a restaurant, so now I'm sort of fed (large slabs of meat), and countless drinks Ken had to pour himself.  I have my concrete boots off and am relaxing next to giant pine trees.

Day 10 – Monday, July 2, 2007

Slept in and didn't leave Hoback until after 9:00.  We went south through a valley next to the mountains.  The elevation is still pretty high so it was still chilly.  We thought we were supposed to follow Highway 89 all the way to Evanston, Wyoming, but apparently that was not true.  We got turned off to Montpelier, Idaho and had lunch at a crappy restaurant.  An old man complained about how terribly hot it was (85 degrees).  We kept following 89 around Bear Lake which was some kind of destination for the locals when I spied the post office:  Laketown, Utah.  UTAH!  We were supposed to be back in Wyoming.  We bought a Utah map and figured out how to get to Evanston.  Lots of farm country – not terribly exciting.  Finally we made it to Evanston where we decided to take the mountain route across the Wasatch Mountains.  At least at 10,000 feet we never hit snow.  Very pretty drive and hardly any traffic – not like the Rockies or Yellowstone.  Dropped out of the mountains into a valley to end up at Heber City, Utah.  The girl at the front desk of the hotel was totally Indian (from India) and you expected her to sound like Apu from the Kwik-E-Mart, but when she opened her mouth – it was Valley Girl all the way.  That was really disturbing.  We got a room with a jacuzzi for less than some of the other crappy rooms we stayed in on this trip.  We went to eat dinner at the Claim Jumper restaurant next door.  We were really excited because now we could finally have good food.  The place was small, but kind of had the look of a Claim Jumper.  It was 6:30 and there was no one in there and we had to ask if they were really open.  The hostess sat us down and then set an empty wine bottle on the table.  What's up with that, I wonder and then discover the menu is written on the label.  Obviously, this was not the Claim Jumper we were used to.  There were about 5 things on the minuscule menu, all large slabs of meat and nothing under $25.00.  Ken asked if they had salads.  She replied that they did with the meal.  Ken reiterated that he wanted a large salad, not a dinner salad and she looked confused.  She said we could order just a salad at Arby's.  What?  Ken asked if they had pasta and she said they had spaghetti with marinara sauce (Chef Boy-Ar-Dee?).  It was overwhelming and we again were rude and left without ordering anything.  I think they poured the ice water back in the ice-water holder for later patrons.  No wonder the place was empty.  We went to a Mexican restaurant called Don Jose's and the prices were twice what you would be charged in Phoenix for the same food.  Not only that, it was really bad.  Note to self:  Never live in Wyoming or Utah.

Day 11 – Tuesday, July 3, 2007

We left Heber City around 9:00 and rode south towards Provo.  Went down the mountain through some canyons and into Provo.  Continued south, continuously dropping in altitude and into pretty much desert.  We turned off the interstate onto a really non-traveled road and went over some small mountains and through valleys in the middle of nowhere.  We were the only ones on the road.  It was so much the middle of nowhere, the names of natural roadside attractions were simply labled “creek” or “flat” or “draw”.  What exactly is a “draw”?  Anyway, we dropped out of the mountains and went through a few very small farming towns.  The countryside suddenly started changing to gorgeous red rock cliffs and that's where we are now – Torrey, Utah – staying at a little lodge with fake log cabins.  Very cool.

Day 12 – Wednesday, July 4, 2007

We got up and went to the general store that also runs the lodge for coffee and scones.  Three bikers were there – BMW/Triumph riders and we talked with them.  Apparently the Harley group had not yet recovered from the gallon of Jack Daniels they were consuming last night.  Three biker guys were also going to Bryce Canyon so we said we might see them there.  We left around 8:00 and headed to Bryce.  A lot of up and down riding through mountains and valleys.  At one summit, we were at 9600 feet, but there were no pine trees, only birch.  I guess it was too high for the pines, but totally weird.  The countryside – or the mountains, I should say, started changing to red colorful sandstone.  We rode through countless tiny towns and farms in the Escalante State Park.  It's really a beautiful place.  Ken said we almost hit some kind of wide animal – a marmot or badger or fat kid.  I think at one time we ran over the toes of a ground squirrel that couldn't make up his mind and just froze in the middle of the road.  We ran into three biker guys in a small wide spot taking a break.  We pressed on and finally came to the turn off for Bryce Canyon.  Ken thought about taking a tour bus through the park, but it was only about 35 miles round trip so we decided to stay with the bike.  Ken was only going to stop at the turn-outs on the right, but since they were all on the left going up, we zipped up to the top of the canyon edge.  It was very beautiful and rugged but frankly, I was disappointed that the entire time were above the canyon and not down in it.  It's actually not even a canyon, just a mountainside with eroded rocks in great shapes.  We hit all the stops going back and Ken took a gazillion pictures.  At one stop, there were two ravens sitting in top of the rock guard-rail fence, not disturbed at all by all the people paying attention to them.  One kid was actually giving them water.  We stopped to eat at some tourist place called Ruby's at the entrance of the park.  More large slabs of meat choices on the menu or a buffet of large slabs of meat.  I asked the waiter for a different menu of food I'd actually like to eat and totally confused and offended him so he didn't come back to take our order for a long time.  After filling up, we continued on to catch Highway 89 south through more canyons that range in color from yellow to red.  We started dropping in altitude and the temperature was climbing.  By the time we reached the bottom plateau, it was probably in the 100's.  Two more days of those temperatures in leather to look forward to.  We got to Kanab about 4:00 and found a “Victorian Charm” hotel, brand new to Kanab, so we got a room there.  It was totally cool – actually a bed and breakfast venue, not like a normal hotel.  Our room has a 4-poster bed, old fashioned bathroom fixtures (jacuzzi) and Queen Anne furniture – highboy and stuff.  It even has a fireplace which we're sure to light up before we leave.  We walked through most of downtown to find a place for a cool drink because we both were totally dehydrated.  Everything was closed – Kanab is a happening town.  The hotel guy directed us to a Mexican restaurant down the street where we had Margaritas and nachos.  Best food we've had all week.  Right outside our hotel window sits a Kanab Police cruiser by the side of the road.   We are at the northern-most end of town and people are coming in at highway speeds, naturally slowing down when they see the police car.  When we went for a walk and passed the cruiser, we noticed there was actually a manikin in the driver's seat.  The car has been sitting there so long, the inside widows are all scummy.  I think somebody should break into the car and steal the dummy.  Sad to say we missed the rip-roaring 4th of July celebration in downtown Kanab.

Day 13 – Thursday, July 5, 2007

We had breakfast with the rest of the B&B'ers downstairs.  The old couple who run the place were busy cooking away for all the fool travelers, hating every minute of it.  Ken, of course, was in his element conversing with whomever would talk to him.  The first was some school-teacher type from Dirty Ankle, Iowa or someplace like that and the second person to sit close was a couple from Victorville, California who took their bikes for a ride (translation:  trailered them from California) so they could ride them around Kanab.  We left Kanab at around 8:00 and headed east to Page, Arizona.  Again beautiful countryside all the way to Page.  Powell Lake is really low, but I think I remember reading about that in National Geographic where it was low enough to uncover some of the small towns that had been covered for decades when the lake was formed.  So in the name of "archeology" people were looting old water-logged, rusty stuff from the bottom of the lake.  Continued south down Highway 89.  It was warm, but not bad, due to the altitude.  We stopped at Cameron and wandered around the store for a break and then continued on to Flagstaff.  Originally we were to stay the night there, but it was only 11:00 so we decided to continue on to Phoenix and brave the heat.  It was bearable until Black Canyon City when it became an inferno.  We had stopped several times on the way to let heat escape out of our helmets.  We made it to I-17 and 101 and stopped at the Macaroni Grill to cool off and eat lunch.  (Finally, food I really WANT to eat.)  We both were totally sweated out and needed the fortification to get the last 20 miles to home.  It was so wonderful not to have to eat large slabs of meat!  We climbed back on the bike for the final last hurrah home.  The Shamrock Dairy's sign said it was 112 degrees.  Finally we got home about 2:30 – ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL BIKE TRIP!!

Copyright Ken adkison