A couple weeks back I drove down to Phoenix to visit my aging father. I was set to travel fast and comfy in the Toyota Camry, bicycle on the back and tent camping gear in the trunk. My plan was to spend a couple days in Phoenix then head north to Sedona, northeast towards Durango, northwest to Fruita, west to the San Rafael swell, south west towards Red Canyon, west to Zion and then burn it for home. I was *thinking* of doing this in 10 days from Friday to Monday. I was traveling alone. I had a general idea of where I wanted to camp and ride and a bit of info as to what I would encounter. There is probably a name for this type of planning, like, ” ambitious overreach”…… or something like that.
Phoenix was hotter than Hades but the desert was beautiful.
One of the things I wanted to see on the trip were some nice pictographs or some evidence of the “ones who came before”. I got lucky with a bit of ‘local knowledge’. It was two visual clues and, ” you’ll have to figure it out on your own from there”.
I did not even put a scratch on the depth of desert beauty in the Coconino National forest, absolutely gorgeous. Driving north from Flagstaff I started to question my plan. I rode two days in Sedona and burned a ways into my time bank on the second afternoon. At Kayenta, Az I was looking at 120 miles to Cortez and the turn off for Monument valley was coming up. What to do? Moab or continue east? I was losing my resolve and took the turn onto 163 north into Utah. Some unsolicited advice; don’t attempt Valley of the Gods rd an hour before sunset in a car with 10″ of ground clearance! I made it but a bit sketched, especially with the rain damage at all the washes.
More than a few miles from the car, alone, facing some substantial chunk. “Be present, pay attention, you got the chops geezer boy”.
Blazing down Hiway 24, the San Rafael Swell looming to the west, I realized that I was never going to be able to enjoy and savor the true spirit of the amazing places I had put on my itinerary. As in Sedona I was only scratching the outer surface. Time is needed, lots of time, to experience the true essence of any of these places. Each one on it’s own. I had talked to only 11 people in the last 4 days and I was feeling a little lonely to be honest. I thought of Susan and Hamal just as Temple mountain rd and the Goblin valley turn off came up and said to myself, “f’it I can make Escalante before dark easy”. Hammer down on the gas….again.
Looking east towards where I came from.
I jumped up early in Escalante and got to the Thunder mountain trail head at 8 am. It was cold but I knew the sun would warm it by the summit. The first part of the single track from the campground was good but the descent was hammered and blown out.
Erosion from a recent rain event and way too much wear from equines. The fast flow at the bottom was gone as every little cross trickle was a blown out wash. Not the fun that Dick and I had enjoyed two and half years ago. I never saw another person on the trail. I was really getting lonely when I got back to the car. Ugh, the car…the freaking car. I think one of the realizations I came away with on this trip is that all of us in the first world are really only who we are because of the easy access the magic fluid oil gives us to move freely around the surface of this planet. It is truly amazing and I was proving it to myself in my own CAR! Sure we ride our bikes every chance we get, but we get to most of the places we do by CAR. Something to ponder in another blog post perhaps? Perhaps not. :-)
I was still toying with the idea of camping near Zion and doing a hike and a ride. I got there in the early afternoon and when I realized that I was one of about 20,000 humans trying to steal a little bit of the soul of this place on a Friday afternoon I knew my fate was sealed. “Burn some gas Buzz, burn it for the cause of home sweet home”.
A picture that has been taken a million times one more time.
Some of my thoughts in the final push home: “If I can make it thru Las Vegas before rush hour I’ll see how I feel”, ” Damn are all these cars coming down into the valley from LA?”, “I’ll see how I feel at Barstow”, “I wish Susan would return my text”.” “I wonder if Hamal will still smell like the same dog?”, “I’ve got 20 minutes of sun in Barstow, I’ll see how I feel at Mojave”, “Damn look at all those blinking red lights on those windmills, must be thousands of them”, ” Bakersfield 58 miles, 90 more from there, I’ll get a burger in Wasco and I can be home by 10:30″
Nowhere is somewhere too.