2010 Middle America Tour, Days 4 & 5: Cedar City, UT, to Escalante, UT, to Moab, UT It’s About Who You Meet Along The Way0
I’m sitting in downtown Denver’s Hotel Monaco remembering all we have experienced and trying to put in all in order. So many memories already, so much to share. Okay, here goes something…
Cedar City, as you read in the first entry, was a very welcome site as we rolled in soaking wet and FREAKED from the line of storms we encountered. After a night of bad take-out pizza and no liquor stores in site, my boots STILL weren’t dry. I told ya, I was soaked to the core! I knew there wasn’t a chance they’d be fully dry, but I tried. Terry even put the blow dryer on cool inside each of my gloves. Thanks, Mr. T! It helped, but still smell a tad stale.
I was hoping to connect with Ben, an old friend from Santa Rosa who lives in St. George, but the weather was forcing us to head out earlier than we’d planned. I didn’t want another day of back-to-back storms, so we had to jet. Fortunately, I’d been out to Utah on a solo trip in April and was able to hike with Ben and his son, Josh. Also, we’d promised to get together again in California later in July, so all was not lost. After a splendid meal at Applebee’s (Ick! Chain food…), we climbed aboard our respective bikes and headed east on a 2-lane road towards our one-night camping destination, Escalante. After such a neat-o ride we’d had the day before, we wanted to be off the bikes at a decent time and give Jack some daylight to help set up camp and build a fire. Trust me, this kid digs setting up his own tent these days (Yay!) and refuses help from anyone. Rock on, little man, rock on. After having our heads buried in our computers looking for any changes in the weather pattern, we decided not to go through Springdale and Zion NP. And boy howdy, we made the right choice! It was an awesomely beautiful ride along Highway 14. One lane each way that curved in a way that only a motorcycle rider could appreciate. Unless, that is, you’re on a Harley. Okay, I KNOW some of you ride Harley’s, but DUDE! Is there no such thing as going the speed limit or letting other bikes go around? Every time I find another bike catching up and I know I can’t go any faster, I always give the 2-finger wave for them to go around. You get the “Thank you” wave and off everyone rolls away, riding their own ride. All are happy, no one is pissed, ta da. But I gotta tell ya, some of these Harley riders are pissing us off! I get that you’re carbureted and have trouble in the altitude (8,000 feet mind you), but could you PLEASE see your way to pulling over and letting us by? You have PLENTY of chances at the turnouts! Crikey! We did finally find a spot to pass and were once again rolling at a nice pace. Almost scraped the pegs a couple of times! If you ride, you know what I mean. Nice. But our ride of bliss was quickly squelched when Jack proclaimed he was cold and needed to pee. You’ve got it, little man. Come to think of it, I needed to find a tree myself. We pulled over at the top of an awesome peak and proceeded to layer up and scout the area for a “toilet”. Being a member of the female persuasion, I have to look a little deeper in the woods, a tad further from the highway than the guys. I rode up a dirt road that boasted no turnaround areas, but didn’t really have a choice. Let’s just say this is a learning trip and I managed to turn around on the uphill, fully loaded, without sticking the front tire on the muddy, red ditch. Whew!
The rest of the ride proved more stellar than we imagined. How could the ride keep getting better? Mountain laden trees, winding roads and views of natural lakes and red rock formations were found around every bend. This breathtaking highway ended just north of Zion. We looked south into a very dark, stormy skyline. We really did dodge the storms today. Very thankful. Another restroom and Snickers stop and we were almost to our destination for the night, Escalante. We were hoping to finally break out the camping gear and roast some dogs over an open fire. We’ve all been itchin’ for charred wienies and burnt marshmallows since day one. It’s just not summer without them. We rolled into Escalante but did not find the plethora of camping sites we had hoped to find. Up and down the town we went, only finding one viable camping option at Escalante Outfitters. Wait, isn’t it just an outdoor shop? Nope! Not only did this place have a shop and restaurant, it boasted about 8 small cabins, 10 tent sites, a covered eating area and a communal fire pit framed by 10 foot split logs as benches. Perfect. As we were unloading and setting up, we were greeted by 2 long-range cyclists on their way to Virginia. And where did said cyclists begin their journey? In San Francisco, of course! Small world. They were young; one fresh out of college, both had been working odds and/or just quit their job to take this opportunity to ride the states. They had met online via an adventure cycling site. Nope, they did not know each other before this gig. Rocky, the 22 year old, had actually flown out from Connecticut to meet Isaiah, the other youngin’, in San Francisco to begin the journey together. Rocky had done this trip with his girlfriend last year, only they began on the east coast and flew home from the west after completing the tour. They were great guys to talk to. We all talked about life and it being an adventure. All of us were looking to reaffirm our sense of good in humanity through our travels. They’d already encountered many, many good people who offered food and shelter during the storms. We told them of our encounters from years past and how we, too, were hoping for the same result. Bottom line from both parties – don’t watch the news, don’t listen to the hype, get off your ass and find out for yourself. It’s a story for you to tell, not be told to by others.
Our desire for charred wienies was quickly extinguished when Isaiah told us that the restaurant attached to Escalante Outfitters had been written up in the New York Times for the tastiness of their pizza. That’s all we needed to hear! Fresh pizza and a pint of Utah’s finest 4% alcohol beer….mmmmm. Yes, Utah has issues with its liquor. Look it up. It’s depressing, especially when you’re just off the road from a day of riding. Anywho, I waited on the outdoor patio for Jack and Terry when a dude on a Harley rolled up. He was quite friendly and said he was waiting for his friends who were down the road fueling up. They were looking to camp at the same locale. After a few minutes of conversation with the first dude, I KNEW it was going to be a night we’d always talk about. And they didn’t let us down. The second bike rolled up with another dude and a female on the back. They looked fun and just solidified my “fun evening” comment.
While the Harley bunch was setting up their camp and we were on the patio eating our grub, a Suburban full of pretty boys pulled up and made their way to the patio. They talked about a flash flood they encountered a day earlier. I tried to engage them in conversation, asking where the flood was, etc., but was met with a single sentence answer and a cold shoulder. Whatever, pretty dudes with manicured hands. Not 3 minutes later, a couple of Harley’s rolled by and the prettiest of the bunch started making bike gestures and motor noises, spouting forth, “That just seems to boring! Sitting there all day just VROOM, VROOM.” Dickhead. Me being the lady that I am, I couldn’t keep my trap shut, even with the look that Terry shot me before I opened my mouth. He knew I couldn’t keep quiet on this one. I immediately spouted back with, “Well, I just rode out from California and I was quite entertained the whole way.” This was met with a rousing round of “Doh!” from his friends. Home slice then proceeded to reply with, “Well, it’s just not my bag”, arms folded and an “Hmmph” to end the rant. And that was that. There’s a reason why guys like that aren’t married…the ladies are all too smart! Asshole.
We finished the meal and hit the campground to finish any last minute camp setup. The cyclists were eating their MRE’s and the Harley’s had made their way to some grub. I had to run back to the store to grab some more wood and other stuff and returned to find all, cyclists, Harley’s and my family, sitting around the fire, chattin’ it up. Talk about your motley crew of people! Now this is what this trip is about, right? Random people coming together to share stories and make memories. The Harley rider’s were Bill, Huey and Veronica, all from Texas. Bill rode solo while Huey and Veronica were an item. Huey, tall and skinny with Willie Nelson braids, was such a nice guy! Veronica was a second grade teacher, though I don’t think she wore leathers and smoked cigarettes while on the job. Bill, we learned later, hadn’t worked in a while, still trying to recover from the death of his girlfriend of 9 years. That’s a hard one hear. I’ve got to tell you, we sat in front of that fire until almost midnight, sending the youngin’s out on a 4% beer run and Huey to get more firewood. Over and over, Huey proclaimed just how much fun he was having and how he was so glad to have met us all. Piles of empty beer bottles grew as the night sky shed its layers of clouds, replacing it with a comforting sunset. There were stories of our past, our hopes of rediscovering humanity and goodwill, and our desire to continue this path as long as we could ride, no matter what 2 wheels you rolled in on. We were all on the same journey. We were all looking for adventure, to take back what the media stole from us – faith in each other as people. If you listen to the hype, you start to believe the hype and eventually lose your way. But, if you turn the TV off, put down the paper and go learn for yourself, you’d be amazed at what you’d find. I mean seriously, here we all were, BMW’s, Harley’s and cyclists, all looking for the same thing and dammit, loving every single minute of each other’s company. You can’t plan this, but it happens all the time! All were taking pictures of Jack as he played his guitar by the fire, proclaiming that he was going to be famous some day. They wanted to be able to say, “We knew him when…” We’re so proud of our son. He’s never afraid to put himself out there for all to listen. Are you starting to catch a glimpse of just how valuable this lesson is? Can you imagine the memories Jack will have of all the wonderful people he’s met on his family adventures? We want him to grow up with a passion for life and the desire to find good beyond what we’re “told”. I think it’s working.
The next morning, I awoke at 6AM as I’d promised fresh, pressed Peet’s coffee for all. Bill was the first to roll out with the others not far behind. As we all packed up for the day’s travels, blue sky enveloping the entire valley, we talked about meeting for breakfast just down the way. The others left before us, promising to save seats. And they did. It wasn’t just a night of idle chatter; it was a night of bonding, sharing, true friendship. We parked in front of the restaurant, all 2-wheel modes of transportation lined up, and found our seats waiting for us, just as promised. After a hearty meal (which Veronica and Huey covered for the youngin’s), we headed out to our “vehicles” and began suiting up. It was a bittersweet moment, Huey still expressing his enthusiasm for meeting us all. We exchanged cards and made promises to keep in touch, I mean REALLY keep in touch. There were photos that needed to be swapped and stories to finish about our journey’s home. We wanted to make sure the boy’s made it to Virginia safely. Veronica promised to make me a bling doo rag. I’m holding you to that, Veronica! With more pictures, hugs and handshakes, we all departed, heading east, in search of another memory.
Our goal on this day was Moab, Utah, site of the Delicate Arch and home to some fantastic scenery. We rolled in with plenty of time to find a campsite. But, where to find one that wasn’t home to full-timers, retirees and icky people! We rolled through town and found Canyonlands RV Park and Campground on the other side of town. It had a pool, Laundromat and tent sites. Perfect! We set up camp and were the only one’s for quite some time. It wasn’t until later that 2 chicks from Canada drove in and set up next to us. They were very cool with hopes if staying for several days to get in some good hikes. I don’t think that’ll be much of a problem in Moab.
We headed to the town grocery store for some provisions (Finally, charred wienies!), and whom do we run into but A FAMILY FROM DAVIS WHO ATTENDS THE SAME SCHOOL AS JACK! I’m now convinced that our planet is tiny. I spotted the mom first and asked, “Are you from Davis?” I was met with an odd look and a, “Yesssss.” “Your kids go to Cesar Chavez, right?” “Yesssss.” “We’re from Davis and Chavez, too!”, I exclaimed. Laughter and rounds of, “Oh my god!” ensued as we swapped stories of our travels, where we came from and where we were headed. Funny!
A night of dogs, Jack Daniels, and marshmallows quickly came to a close as we were all bushed. It was Terry’s turn to sleep in Jack’s tent. Ah! A night of not having to pull Jack back on his bed pad or check to make sure he was warm enough. Nighty-night.
So, kids, have we learned anything from today’s passage? Love thy neighbor, learn from your travels, trust in others and trust in humanity. It doesn’t matter what you ride or how many wheels you’re on, the ride is meant for all to enjoy – you just have to be willing to make the leap and keep moving forward, looking back only to reflect on those you’ve made along the way. I’m off to a Rockies game! Timing is everything. Cheers!
“Do one thing everyday that scares you.” Eleanor Roosevelt