Saturday, August 6, 2011

(Day 55) On entering Utah... and climbing the Grand Staircase...

The morning came soon enough... I woke up at 4AM and then again at 5AM and at 5:30AM I decided it was time to go.  As quietly as I could I gather up my stuff and loaded the bike - trying hard not to wake Danielle and Jake (I hope I succeeded in this guys and you got to work in your backyard today!).

It was still dark as I left so I took it very slow through town - taking time to stop and wash the headlight and windshield and have a cup of coffee at a gas station.  Eventually dawn broke and I set out in earnest.  Unfortunately it was still not light enough to warrant a drive to Shoshone Fall.  Jake said this is was the one place in the Twin Falls area that was worth visiting.  This spring they had had the most water volume over the falls in many years.  Too bad I didn't get to see it...

I did however get to see the sun rise in the east.  This made my day.  I am a morning person and I love seeing the day break.  I stopped a couple of times to take pictures of the eastern horizon as I travelled south east on I-84.  One of the times that I stopped I made the decision to put my liner in my coat.  It was cold.  And, I put on the winter gloves.  It was cold.  Bundled up I was good for another two hours and when I needed gas, I also needed food.


I stopped in Temonton and found the local Denny's.  I was starved.  The Lumberjack Slam looked like just the thing to fill my belly: two pancakes, two eggs, hash browns, 2 slices of bacon, 2 sausages, ham and toast and coffee...  mmmmh!!  Sorry no pictures.  I was too hungry!!

I learned something too... on your birthday you get a free slam!  So, on the ninth of August I will get a slam for breakfast and later that day in another location I'll get a slam for supper... that will be a really cheap day on the road!!




With my belly overfull and the gas tank topped off it was back to the slab.  I really just wanted to put on some miles today so I could enjoy the ride tomorrow through Bryce Canyon and Glen Canyon.


As I entered Bountiful, Lenard Cohen was singing "You Can't Hurry Love" I just started laughing to myself!  It was just to coincidental and so frigging funny!!

It is clear that the population in the Salt Lake City corridor is booming... the cities seemed to go on forever and ever... Bountiful, Salt Lake, Provo, they all seemed to be as one large city to me!!  I was glad when all that urbanization was past - the smog was awful.  There were signs on the freeway advising people to drive less on Saturday and Sunday as air quality was deteriorated.

At Nephi, UT I got off the Interstate and filled up with gas, passed by Yuba State Park and by then I was done with the Interstate.  I exited onto US 50 and then onto Hwy 24 and was so glad I did.  The vistas were so wide... big sky country... just like Alberta.  The horizon goes on forever!!




A Sigurd I missed the exit to Hwy 29 and had to do a little gravel road and then pass through town.  It seemed as if most of the population of Sigurd lived in mobile homes and that the bulk of the wealth of the town was located at the local mormon Church.  Kind of sad.





About 20 miles in on Hwy 29, just past the Paiute Indian Reservation, I bypassed the exit to Hwy 62 and continued on 29 toward Capitol Reef National Park.




My planned stop for the day was Loa, UT.  As it turned out I arrived here at 1:30PM - far too early to stop!!  So onward I went - thinking I would stop in Torrey... but as I arrived here nothing appealed to me - looked like a very quiet place and not much going on... so, onward I went... after all I really am enjoying the riding!!!



Turning left off of #24 onto #12 really started to change things up!  The colours of the rocks started to change and the landscape was so diverse.  Like the Drumheller Valley on steroids!!


The name of the town, Boulder, is quite befitting.  Boulders abound and if you loose one - just head out of town a ways and you can easily find a new one!!





The icing on the cake today was the Grand Staircase.  The road follows a ridge that spits two canyons.  There is not much room for error on this road.  Take your time, enjoy the views but focus on the road.  There are signs all over reminded people only to stop in those areas set aside for stopping.  I guess they have had issues in the past...

The colours in the canyons just take your breath away.  It would be truly amazing to be in this space at sunrise or sunset and see the light play off the canyon walls...  I though briefly about camping at one of the campgrounds but there was no power... and I know what happens to me if I tent without power for my machine... I'm no good for nothing the next day...










So I continued on... taking my time to stop and enjoy the view at various roadside turnouts even as I experience my first tar snake!  What a weird feeling.  They fill the cracks in the asphallt with tar - same as we do at home - only here, the pavement gets so hot, those filled cracks become very slippery and when a motorcycle tire catches on the wrong way your wheel can kind of slip sideways... a little hop if you will!  The first one or two were kind of unnerving!



Eventually, I arrived in Escalante, UT where I took a room at the Prospector Motel.  I am 131KM further down the road then I expected to be... which means my trip tomorrow to Cortez, CO will only be 707KM with a little dip into Arizona.


I have had supper.  Spoke to the family.  Checked in with friends in Alberta and now the blog is updated.  A few more emails and another Bud Light or two... and then it will be off to bed... on the Sabbath Road...



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