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Old 06-08-2009, 08:45 PM   #1
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Eight Days to Escalante

As winter faded into spring day-dreams of warm weather and lots of riding started to take over my thoughts.

Like a lot of folks these days I had recently lost my job and was doing some temp work to make ends meet. I didn’t have plans for any big rides this season (and damn sure didn’t have the funds ) but that was all about to change.

And it began the way so many other adventures have found legs – over drinks in a bar and the off-hand comment of a friend

"You should come with us to Escalante this year!"

(my mouth answered before my brain could come up with the hundreds of reasons of why it wasn’t a good idea right now )

"Why, yes…yes I should."

From Denver Colorado to Escalante in southern Utah…Zebra Canyon, Dead Horse Point, Goblin Valley and all points in between. Eight days to ride, hike, camp, explore, drink scotch, smoke cigars and hopefully forget about everything else.

And I can’t wait!

Although truth be told it’s not really eight days TO Escalante, rather eight days there and back (but it really just sounded better this way).

This is really a small trip all things considered but there is a lot to see and do in only eight days.

Even so as far as I’m concerned no good adventure follows a schedule and I’m a firm believer in ’staying loose’ when venturing forth to parts unknown – because its in the confluence of fate, circumstance and an open mind where things always start to get interesting.

I’ll be heading out of Denver with my buddy Plastic Sun and meeting up with fellow rider Rope Kid who is meeting us in Escalante on part of a loop from Southern Cal out to Yellowstone.

I’ll be on my trusty ‘03 Honda XR650L

I’ll be doing some simple mods from stock but nothing out of the ordinary in terms of performance. Mostly they are of the ergonomic variety – bar risers (I’m a tall dude), lowered pegs (like I said…tall), Buell headlight / screen mod, bark busters, and Baja tank. The only other major piece to tackle is the suspension - its stock right now and that dog just aint gonna hunt

I wont bore you with all the gory details of my pre-trip prep but suffice to say I had a lot of work to do. If anyone is interested my blog gets into the nitty-gritty - you can check it out here:

With the departure date looming it was turning into a week of evenings running into the wee hours, getting to bed around 1am then tossing and turning, getting up mulitple times to fish a piece of gear out of a long forgotten pack or to jot down more punch list items as my mind refused to slow down. I would finally drift off between 2-3am, getting about 3-4 hours of sleep then getting up to do it all over again.

This is when you start to make mistakes so I was trying to be extra careful and think things through before I reached for any tools…especially hammers or cutting wheels.

Oh – did I mention we decided to leave a day early?

With less then 48 hrs to go this was the state of my ride :

I was able to get the majority of my priority items knocked out the night before were are supposed to leave with the exception of figuring out how to wire up the new lights. I stopped there as I wanted to be fresh and thinking clearly when I started cutting and soldering wires.

Around midnight I sat down to sort through my gear and organize the loadout. I am a convicted over-packer but I committed to keeping it light this time around and it was a struggle to keep from adding more gear to the list but once I saw the basics all laid out I was beginning to wonder how this was all going to come together.

I finally knocked off after I found myself wandering around looking for something and could not remember for the life of me what the hell it was…oh well, cant be THAT importaint – right?

I climbed into the rack and blinked through bloodshot eyes at the clock

Sweet, 1am – I'm getting to bed early tonight!

Kinjari screwed with this post 06-08-2009 at 09:16 PM
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Old 06-08-2009, 09:10 PM   #2
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Day 1: Get out of Denver baby!

(Lots of text for the first day since we were focused on turning miles but I promise to get more pics in once we get further down the road)

Some how, some way I did it. All the checklists are checked and punchlists punched. If it isnt on the bike it isnt going.

It was a relatively leasurely morning of packing and adjusting and strapping and taping. I finished up just in time for a quick shakedown ride to Jimmy Johns for a sammich before heading over to meet Plastic Sun.

My mind was still racing with thoughts of all the things I probably forgot to do as I merged into the heavy Memorial Day Weekend traffic on I-25. One of the great things about riding is its inherent Zen nature – you are forced to concentrate on the ebb and flow of the traffic, the twists and turns in the road and the ever changing conditions. Before long my mind was at ease as I accepted that there was nothing else I could do at this point other then ride and if there was something critical that was missed its not like we were leaving the country – for better or worse stores would surely abound.

Our goal for today was an afternoon start with a relaxed pace out to Gunnison where we would find someplace to rack for the night.


I got to Plastic Sun's place around 1:30 and chilled out while he grabbed his gear and made ready to go. As I was sitting there while he prepped his Dakar I glanced over and noticed a small puddle forming under my bike. Since I don’t ride Harleys this was a new and very disconcerting experience for me

Further investigation revealed that the crush washer for the drain plug had seen better days. I really should have caught this when I changed the oil but in all honesty with the lack of sleep I really hadn’t been firing on all cylinders the last few days. After debating my options (and a failed attempt to stop the leak by over-tourqing the plug) I decided that it really wasn’t losing much oil and I would just keep an eye on it. I would later have some regret over this choice but for now we were looking at a green light and the trip was on

The Denver area traffic pretty much sucked and I was shouting in my helmet in vain for the traffic to clear and the road west to open up. Finally we were off and running up through the foothills on 285, the rushing air a welcome relief from the heat and sweat of crawling through the stifling downtown traffic

Plastic Sun promptly opened up the Dakar and pulled out and away, the bright orange of the rear mounted Pelican case disappearing around the next corner. At first I was trying to keep pace but I soon backed off to ride my own ride. His Dakar is much better suited to the road whereas my XR was really more at home in the dirt. I knew he wouldn’t bail completely and I could rely on him to be waiting at all key navigational points.

We have done day rides together before and I was used to him pulling out ahead on his own. I actually prefer it to some extent since if you end up playing follow the leader it can be very easy to target fixate on the bike you are chasing and before you know it you are riding past your limits and can find yourself burning into a corner. A lot of accidents happen in group ‘parade style’ rides where otherwise intelligent and conscientious riders magically turn into lemmings.

As we climbed up towards Fairplay on our way to Gunnison the skies began to darken in the West and that nice cooling breeze started to grow some teeth, biting into my hands. With just my leather gloves and no heated grips I began to wonder how things would go if it started to rain. Turns out I wouldn’t be wondering for long. I guess now is a good time to mention that this was my first ‘big’ ride and the start of only my second season riding on the street. I had never ridden in rain before and just figured you found an overpass or something and waited till the squall passed. Pretty naive, I know.

As the storm clouds gathered it became apparent that A) Generally there are no overpasses / shelters / warm and cozy roadhouses around when it starts to rain and B) This was not going to be a little squall that would quickly blow over. We were riding into an oncoming storm front that would be with us for most of the journey. In retrospect I’m glad I was ignorant of these details at the time. It was so much easier to think it would all blow over in another 20 minutes.

As the first raindrops smacked my goggles I hunkered down as best as a tall assed dude on an XR can and gritted my teeth. In the next few moments the rainfall was dialed up and the biting cold began to have its way with me

Looking back on it I’m not sure which element ranked highest on the pucker factor for me, the clinical way in which I monitored the onset of hypothermia, the lack of trust in my TKC-80’s in the driving rain, the boiling walls of water I was flung headlong into as semi’s blasted by in the opposing lane or the constant struggle to maintain some semblance of vision through glasses, goggles and alternating helmet visor.

Basically it really sucked

I would ride until I started to lose reaction time and motor control in my hands. This was usually followed by the uncontrollable chattering of my teeth – a sure sign that I was becoming hypothermic. I would then pull over (another butt clenching experience with traffic blasting up from behind and my shat visibility) and wrap my hands around the cylinder head until the pain of blood returning to my hands gave way to relief and the return of some coordination. Then back on the road to push as far as I could – rinse and repeat (quite literally).

At last the ‘Gunsmoke’ (a gas station / coffee shop) came into view on the horizon. At this point Plastic Sun could have already been in Escalante for all I cared – I was pulling over. But of course he was there waiting to laugh at my general condition and document it for posterity.

As I peeled myself off the bike I was jealously cussing and swearing at him in his electric jacket and heated grips but all that came out was incoherent babble through chattering teeth. What I was trying to say was 'Nancy boy! You call yourself an Adventure Rider with all that plush gear!?!'

After warming up with 15 or 20 cups of coffee it was obvious that the rain wasn’t going to be letting up and the rest of the day was likely to bring more of the same. I was not looking forward to the next stretch - Monarch Pass. With rain down here who knows what we would find going over the summit. Ice, snow, Yeti's - anything was possible

Reluctantly I traded the warmth of the Gunsmoke for my wet and clammy riding gear. With daylight fading we really needed to crank out some miles to make it to Gunnison before we turned into pumpkins. Again I found myself riding alone as Plastic Sun confidently pulled ahead in the driving rain.

As I made the turn up the canyon things started to get kinda weird. I came across a Harley rider sitting on the side of the road. I asked if he was ok and got a mumbled response that he was fine...something about water in his gas. I was guessing he was feeling the cold probably worse then I was since those guys don’t seem to believe in riding gear (and he was no exception). I asked again just to make sure then left him on the side of the road in the gathering gloom and started the climb.

The road twisted up the canyon gaining in elevation all the while. Eventually I ascended into the low cloud layer and found myself wrapped in the dense swirling mist. With visibility dropping by the second I was forced to back off the throttle. Great, now I could add getting rear-ended to the long list of morbid scenarios playing out in my head

Finally I crested the summit and spotted a shadowy figure aiming something at me on the outside of the corner. A State Trooper running a speed trap up here? Nope, just Plastic Sun capturing the moment.

After a quick break and 'laying of hands on cylinder' we were off.

The decent out of the clouds was a welcome relief and it was a long straight run into Gunnison.

About 15 miles out of town the XR coughed, skipped and suddenly died - out of gas. I quickly pulled over and switched to reserve. With all the extra gear and full panniers there would be no tipping the bike over to get every last drop - guess I would find out just how far my reserve would take me.

It was a little stressful eeking out the last few miles into town as dusk turned to dark- I had promised myself no riding at night and this was cutting it a little close. But all was well as I made Gunnison and spotted Plastic Sun waiting at the side of the road at a Hampton Inn. After getting into some dry clothes we rolled over to Garlic Mike's for a fantastic dinner (I highly recommend the grilled chicken with pasta in vodka sauce or the baked ziti!)

That brings me to a personal viewpoint with ride reports - you will notice a glaring absence of food pics in my write up. I know I’m not going to win any friends with this next statement but honestly no one gives a shit about the roadhouse cheeseburger I had for lunch If you are riding through southern China and a local shepard serves you up some goat ball soup by all means post a pic but otherwise I think we all know what a Denny's Grandslam breakfast looks like.

Back at the hotel I flipped on the Weather Channel before hitting the rack.

The 10 day forecast for Utah? Rain


Kinjari screwed with this post 07-14-2009 at 02:21 PM
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Old 06-08-2009, 10:32 PM   #3
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Old 06-09-2009, 03:50 AM   #4
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It's gotta get sunny soon... the weather man is frequently wrong! Thinkin' positive here!!

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Old 06-09-2009, 12:29 PM   #5
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Although I'll be on a cruiser, i'm doing something similar all next week (Denver-Ouray-Page,AZ-Escalante-Moab-then back home). Is there really that much snow still on Monarch? Eek for me...

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Old 06-09-2009, 05:17 PM   #6
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Day 2: Gunning for Mexican Hat

I rolled out of the rack around 7ish and checked the condition of my gear. Everything had dried out nicely with the exception of my Tech 7's. No matter, if the weather reports were even close to accurate I would be soaked again by lunchtime anyway

After a light breakfast the gear was racked, tanks were fueled (and my oil level checked) and we were back on the road.

Even though it was another push day it was a wonderful ride through gorgeous canyons with massive clouds sailing through brilliant cobalt skies

There was no wind at all and a positive side effect of all the rain became apparent - everything was green and bursting with life.

As we wound our way through the canyons a caravan of Harley riders caught up to us and we all threaded our way through the incredible scenery. The two dual sports stood out like a couple of red-headed step children amongst all the chrome and leather but we smiled and waved as the heavy bikes growled past. Nobody even lifted finger off the bars in return with the exception of a dude in the back

Out of the whole pack there only appeared to be one guy who really seemed to know how to work his sled through the twisting roads (interesting enough the same guy who returned our wave). He would lay back and just effortlessly roll his beast through the corners, easing in and out of the throttle while the rest of the pack fought with their heavy bikes, punching the throttle aggressively on the straights, burning into the corners with hair raising speed then suddenly and dramatically breaking in the middle of the turns. It looked exhausting. Once out of the canyon the road flattened out and the Harleys roared off to disappear over the horizon.

Since I was the one with the little sippy-cup for a tank I was constantly eyeing my trip meter and taking advantage of every gas station along the way. In stark contrast Plastic Sun was riding a veritable supertanker. He had his main tank and two side mounted reserves for a total of close to ten gallons. So of course he was the one to run out of gas.

I took a little too much pleasure in this and wasted no time in having a Kodak moment. I was grinning from ear to ear and for the rest of the trip would take a cheap shot every now and again to ask how he was doing on gas

He was able to open all the petcocks on the tanks and kinda shake the bike around to try and get a few more drops to his injectors. Turns out it was enough to get us to the next town where we both topped off and munched a couple of Cliff Bars to fuel ourselves.

We decided to wind on down to Cortez and stop there for lunch. As we continued on our way we fell into the natural rhythm that the trip had taken on – Plastic Sun jamming along out ahead and me as tail-end Charley lagging about 10 – 15 min behind. We worked our way down to Telluride and I was absolutely blown away when Black Bear Pass came into view. I had to pull over and pick my jaw up off my seat

Of course being the nave noob that I am I was super excited at the thought of going over the pass. The stunning waterfall, the amazing views – lets gooooo!!! Plastic Sun just stared at me in disbelief. ‘Naw man, we are headed the other way and even if we had the time there is no way in hell I’ll ever go over that pass again’ He proceeded to educate me on the details of Black Bear Pass and shared the tail of a ride he did a couple of seasons ago with Colorado Uli and the Grand Junction crew. One way pass, single jeep width wide, off camber grade with steps slick with run-off, sphincter clenching exposure and little room for error. He pointed out all the scars on the reserve tanks of the Dakar and simply said ‘Black Bear Pass’. Nuff said…we turned around and continued on our way.

Back into the canyons and into some really fun and fast twisties.

Plastic Sun was certainly not sparing the whip and he tore up the road even faster than usual. A little while later as I came around a corner I got one hell of a scare. There was a car stopped in the middle of the road with two older ladies just kinda standing there and a huge bloody streak leading off the turn. I was all over the brakes but still flew past them before I got pulled over. I was frantically signaling the oncoming traffic to stop then turned around and got over to the car. I was desperately looking for signs of the Dakar or Plastic Sun and let out a huge sigh of relief when I finally noticed the deer down in the ditch. I checked to make sure the ladies were ok then set off back down the road. A little while later a big grin spread across my face as I saw Plastic Sun chilling on the side of the road doodling in his journal. Oblivious to my little drama he just glanced up and at me and said ‘What?’

Sometime later that afternoon we found ourselves in Cortez munching chips and salsa at a little Mexican joint across the street from a Harley bar. There was a grip of little hotties dressed in bikinis and mini-skirts with a little bike wash / wet T-shirt thing going on All the hog riders were crammed onto a small deck off the back of the bar craning to get a glimpse of the eye candy when the skies suddenly opened up. I have to admit I got a laugh as it was all assholes and elbows in a mad scramble to clear the deck. Sorry to say my camera was stowed on the bike so no pic’s of the local talent.

We took our time and let the worst of the downpour pass before heading back out. Leaving Cortez was a turning point in the journey for me. The landscape suddenly morphed from green rolling canyons to a vast flat brown expanse with the odd mesa stabbing dramatically into the sky. We were in the desert and as we rolled along I could imagine the ancient ocean that once blanketed the landscape. I got the oddest sensation of riding on the bottom of the sea as we pushed deeper into the badlands.

Plastic Sun did a fantastic job with GPS of playing dodge the storm cells and although we encountered a lot of wet pavement for the most part we remained dry. The sun was slowly sinking in the west, nestled between dark clouds swollen with rain and the rocks took on a silver sheen from the sudden downpour. To see the desert drinking in all the monsoon moisture was truly awe inspiring. Waterfalls appeared off the slickrock and everything took on a super saturated tone. The richness and diversity of color and texture was almost more than my eyes could take in

I began to fall back as I was rubber-necking like crazy trying to absorb it all. Suddenly I found myself all alone on a deserted stretch of road with eerie sandstone formations flanking me and the occasional abandoned shack crumbling on a long forgotten homestead.

We were crossing over into the Navajo Territories and there was a palpable change in the atmosphere.

It’s hard to describe but it was a little spooky to say to the least and I definitely felt like an outsider intruding someplace he wasn’t welcome.

I got the odd feeling that something had been taken from this place, from the people that lived here and what remained was empty and hollow.

Suddenly a tiny one horse town materialized on the horizon and as I rolled down Main Street that one horse was right there standing in the middle of the road. Turns out it was actually a five horse town and I soon spotted the other four grazing in front of what appeared to be the school. Locals tracked me with slow blank stares neither hostile nor welcoming. There was none of the usual grins and waves from the kids and shouts to huck a wheelie, just dark eyes staring through me. The vibe was just too weird and as soon as I cleared the horses I opened it back up suddenly anxious to get back in Plastic Sun’s company

As I twisted the grip the wind started to blow the apprehension away and the setting sun warmed my face. I quickly forgot about the odd experience back in town and before I knew it I was singing loudly in my helmet and drinking in the vistas as Mexican Hat came into view.

The sudden downpours had caused a bit of a land rush with travelers stopping and scooping up reservations in one of the three hotels in town as quickly as the rains had come. Although we both really wanted to camp it was a silty muddy mess everywhere we looked. We ended up paying too much for a clapboard room with two beds, one towel and no TV. Plastic Sun seemed happy just to be out the mud and rain.

No matter, it was dry and we only had one more push day before we could really relax, back off the throttle and begin to explore the land. After a quick rinse and change into yesterday’s clothes (now thankfully dry) we ambled on down to the local cafe where Navajo Tacos and Polygamy Porter were the order of the day

I was a little suspicious of the tacos and sure enough not long after dinner the natives started growing restless We retired to the porch where a peace offering of cigars and scotch soon placated the war party in my gut

We hung out with some Italians who were staying a couple of rooms down passing through on their way to Colorado. They did their best to convice Plastic Sun to give up his German steed for the Italian superiority that is Ducati but luckily he was able to distract them with his trusty GPS.

A little later we noticed them doing the strangest thing with their rented Ford Explorer – backing in and out of the parking lot, opening and closing doors all accompanied with lots of shouting and waving of hands. We used universal sign language and spoke English very loudly (I’ll never know why that seems to be an automatic reaction when trying to commutate with someone who doesn’t speak your language. Christ they were Italian, not deaf!) before finally realizing that the dome light in the SUV was not going off after they closed all the doors. Having owned an F-150 before I was familiar with the dimmer dial that clicks over to turn the dome light on full time. Plastic Sun reached in and found the dial, clicking the light off. Huzzah! All was well and we retired for the night as the cigars burned themselves out.

I opted for my sleeping bag rather than getting under the covers. It was probably fine but judging by the rest of the accommodations it wasn’t much of a stretch to think that the sheets might not have seen a washing machine since the last visitor.

We were both committed to an early start tomorrow since we needed to make Escalante by afternoon in order to meet up with Rope Kid. I set the iPhone for a 6 am wakeup and drifted off to sleep, visions of hostile locals forcing Navajo Tacos on us dancing through my head. We did our best to keep each other up with a snoring competition but ultimately we were both too knackered to care

Kinjari screwed with this post 06-27-2009 at 09:23 AM
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Old 06-09-2009, 08:37 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by doubleu
Although I'll be on a cruiser, i'm doing something similar all next week (Denver-Ouray-Page,AZ-Escalante-Moab-then back home). Is there really that much snow still on Monarch? Eek for me...

I'm playing catch up on the RR, Ive never done one before and it takes way more time then I thought!

Anyway we did this trip two weeks ago so not sure what Monarch is looking like right now but if the weather in Denver is any clue it probably hasnt warmed up much. Roads are clear but man it gets cold when the rains come!

Have a good trip!
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Old 06-12-2009, 11:55 AM   #8
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Day 3: Escalante, Rope Kid and Camp Damp Underpants

The iPhone started chirping at 6am on the dot. Surprisingly I found myself pretty well rested and ready to get going. A peek outside confirmed that mother nature was staying consistent if nothing else - the bikes were soaked and dirty puddles reflected the sunrise in the still morning air. Not surprised in the least we had finally come to accept the rain as part of the journey.

What did surprise me though was the god-awful stench emanating from the foot of my bed. I threw up in my mouth a little bit at the thought of fishing the dead rat out from under the bed that surely must have snuck in during the night A grim task but one that could not be avoided. As I pulled the covers back it suddenly dawned on me that the stink was radiating from my boots - after 48 hours without a chance to dry out there was some truly epic funk going on that I didn’t believe would ever go away.

I didn’t think I would ever smell anything as foul as that but then Plastic Sun shot my theory all to hell. Seems the Navajo Taco's made a final stand that morning as he experienced his own personal self professed 'Trail of Tears'. God help us.

After diving back into the room with my breath held to retrieve my helmet I offered up a silent prayer of penance for the sins of the white man and hoped to be delivered from any more culinary vengeance for the rest of the trip.

We saw the owner of the clapboard shacks starting to make her rounds - not wanting to be on the hook for administering CPR when she passed out after entering our funkafied room we made good our escape stopping only briefly for gas at the Shell station next door. We skipped on breakfast and got the hell out of Dodge.

Heading out the way we came in we were treated to some magnificent views of the valley as we wound up the switch backs.

(Photo by Plastic Sun)

We were headed to the Ferry crossing down south and planning to make Escalante by late afternoon. Last we heard from Rope Kid this should line up with his plans and make the team complete. As we rattled over the top of Muely Point I realized that I forgot to put my earplugs in. I pulled over and went through the exercise of removing gear, fishing out some nappy old plugs Id been using for the last couple of days (I had brilliantly packed away the zip lock full of fresh ones) and stuffed them in my ears.

Gearing back up I pulled out and started back down the road determined to cut the distance between myself and Plastic. Just as I was winding out 5th gear I came over a rise and saw Plastic standing on the side of the road (bike parked) with some guy waving me down. WTF? My first thought was this guy must have wrecked and his car was off the road somewhere. As I shut the bike down and repeated my exercise in gear removal Plastic casually introduced me to Alex.

Now I was really confused, was this someone he knew and just happen to run into out here in the middle of nowhere? Alex shook my hand but there was something definitely wrong - this guy was anxious as hell and that’s when I got the full story. Seems Alex (who is Chinese and out here on vacation with his family from Arizona) rented a 4x4 and was trying to get to some hot springs out to the east of BFE. With all the recent rain they had gotten hung up and he had left his wife and daughter back at the SUV while he hiked out for help. We were happy to lend a hand although neither one of us could take him back to the truck on the bikes with things as slick and muddy as they were. He was gonna have to hump it back out there.

The double track off the main road lead back to where we encountered two very pissed off looking women and one very stuck looking SUV

I pulled off the track and used my Keens as a kickstand plate while Plastic came slipping and sliding through. He preferred to skip the formalities of a kickstand and proceeded to dump the bike in the mud in the middle of the track. As I was reaching for my camera the strong odor of gas wafted over and Plastic suggested I help pick up my source of fuel for the more remote parts of the trip rather than take pictures and laugh Point taken I left my camera in the bag and slogged through the mud to help right the supertanker.

Once the Dakar was standing tall we turned and surveyed the carnage that was Alex's own private Idaho. There was a rather urban looking SUV high centered in some very muddy double track, various cases of water, snacks and personal gear strewn about the weeds and two very irate looking Chinese women - although they were starting to look a bit more apprehensive then angry since the two dirty, stinky bikers roared out of nowhere, one of them apparently throwing his bike in the mud for some reason.

Just then Alex came huffing and puffing down the trail. We took a look at the situation and reasoned that with some traction, manual effort and the power of four wheel drive we would be able to unstick that which was stuck.

We got to work Wood was gathered and jammed under wheels, the escape route cleared and some muscle applied to the front bumper. Alex hopped in and the count was given - '1...2...3puuuuussshhhhhhhh!'

Only the front wheels turned.

'Hey Alex, put it in four wheel drive!'...

'It is four wheel drive!'...

'No, shift it INTO four wheel drive!!!'

...pause...'It is four wheel drive!'


'Hey Plastic, jump in and pop this pig into four wheel'...pause...'SONAFABIATCH!!!'

'What the hell is this thing? Mercury Mariner? Thats not a 4x4!!!'

Yea - front wheel drive lame assed urban soccer mom car. These guys were well and truly fucked.

We regrouped, got some GPS coordinates, checked their supplies, instructed Mom and Sis to stick to the shade, drink plenty of water, and stay the fuck out of the hot baking metal car unless the lightening started up. We got our collective shit together and prepared to ride back out for help. Alex, that poor bastard, got to hump it back down the trail for the third time that morning and we gathered back at the road to figure out our next move.

Plastic suggested he ride Alex two-up and we head for Blanding, about 60 miles away. I took one look at Alex (Teeva's, shorts, and hoodie) and my skin crawled. Plastic had no passenger pegs but lots of sharp pointy metal and spinning chain and sprockets. I suggested we chill and wait for a car to come by - after all who wouldn’t stop and help a fellow motorist out here in the desert where things can get very serious very quick?

Turns out I would get to meet just such a person in another couple of minutes. Queue the approach of two cars pulling ATV trailers. We flag them down, explain the situation and promptly get the lamest excuse I have ever heard in my life.

Lady in the first car: 'Yea, I don’t usually stop for people. I'm supposed to be meeting someone and I'd really rather not go out of my way to drop him off - Bye!'

Tires spun, gravel flew and we were left standing there mouths agape as the dust cloud swirled around us

Fucking bitch!

My faith in humanity was knocked even lower when Alex commented that before we stopped for him three other cars blew past without so much as making eye contact. Maybe its a rider thing - we tend to be a tight knit bunch and I have had other riders stop to make sure I was ok when I was just chilling out and taking a break on the side of the road so it was hard for me to fathom the callousness of these people. I want to believe that Karma enters into the picture somewhere in situations like this and all those assholes who refused to help someone in trouble in the desert got served some cosmic justice

We slapped some sunglasses on Alex, pointed out all the dangerous limb-hungry spinning parts and headed off for Blanding.

I had asked Plastic to take it easy and have mercy on the guy. His family had plenty of food and water, the skies were clear (for now) and there was no reason to go tearing ass down the road with someone who had never been on a bike before (and was riding virtually nekkid for all intent and purpose )

'Sure - no problem!'

Ten minutes later and I'm topped out in 5th doing 80 and I can’t keep up, bastard!

About 20 miles down the road Plastic blows right past a Ranger station. I'm doing my best to try and signal him to get him to stop. He pulls over and we head back. A very relieved Alex jumped off the bike and ran for the door.

"I like that guy, he's pretty brave" says Plastic. All I can do is shake my head

After passing on the GPS coordinates and making sure he was taken care of we say our goodbyes and make to leave. Alex tried to shove some money in our hands but we are having none of that. However Plastic says there is something Alex can do to pay him back - jump back on the bike for a photo op. Alex turned a little green (which was a pretty fucking impressive feat given his dark complexion) and tries even harder to give us some cash.

I don’t think we recruited a new Adventure Rider that day.

A bit behind from our detour with Alex (but happy that the trip was taking on some flavor) we rocked out to try and make the Ferry by lunch. No time for pics but other than dodging open range cattle chilling on the road it was a stunning ride through another pass and down through a wide valley in full desert bloom.

We made the Ferry and found ourselves with a little time on our hands waiting for the next crossing. Something caught Plastic's eye back up the road so we go to check it out and stumble onto a Lake Powell graveyard.

The stench of burnt fiberglass was everywhere and the charred skeletal remains left me wondering if everyone made it off some of these boats ok.

Ironic BBQ.

Feeling like we had pushed our luck being someplace we were clearly not supposed to be we headed back to the dock.

Plastic gets caught up on some journaling and I get caught up with some pics.

Once on board we chatted with the other passengers and snapped a few more pics.

What’s Memorial Day without a shot of Old Glory! I offered up some silent thoughts of thanks for all the Vets who have served our country - especially those from the Greatest Generation who fought in WWII (my Pop included). Thank You!!!

I put the camera away, munched a PowerBar and mixed some Crystal Light into my Nalgene. Relaxing at the bow of the Ferry with the cool breeze in my face and sun dancing off the waves the trip suddenly felt like it was starting to happen. I looked over at Plastic and said "I don’t wanna stop, fuck it - let’s keep going...Mexico" He just nodded and smiled. We both knew it wouldn’t happen but it didn’t matter - that was just the way we felt.

After crossing Powell we pushed through the rest of the afternoon finally making Escalante late in the day. We took another soaking and it was more than a relief to get off the bike and get into some coffee.

Rope Kid was running a little late and by the time he pulled up dusk was turning to dark. A hotel was sounding pretty good by now but between the afternoon rains and a wedding in town there was not a room to be had. We headed on down to Hole in the Rock road and pulled into the weeds at the first opportunity. Camp was pitched in the dark but a nice fire and a little scotch made all the difference

I think everyone was pretty well spent after a long wet day and after some chow and idle conversation we crawled off to our tents, tired but happy and looking forward to our first chance for a lie in and a bit of exploration down in the slot canyons tomorrow.

Kinjari screwed with this post 06-26-2009 at 08:33 PM
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Old 06-12-2009, 12:26 PM   #9
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You guys banked some good Kharma with your new friend.
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Old 06-12-2009, 12:52 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by iDave
Love the title, the photos, and Escalante

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Thanks man!!!

My poor XR was pretty wrung out after getting back to Denver - I'm planning more trips for sure this summer but doing just shy of 2,000 miles on the 650 has me looking at GS 1200's with lust in my eyes! Being unemployed is getting in the way of realize my BMW dream for now so Ill probably end up doing shorter 2-3 day trips around Colorado unless something changes on the job front.

Kinjari screwed with this post 06-12-2009 at 01:02 PM
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Old 06-12-2009, 01:44 PM   #11
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Fantastic report and photos. Superbly well observed and written. Alex definitely struck lucky when you two came by.

And a huge +1 on your comment about the 'Greatest Generation'. They're dwindling fast now, but aren't we lucky they were here to heed the call when it mattered.
Pretty soon I knew the tune,
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Old 06-17-2009, 02:37 PM   #12
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Kinjari is a bit negligent in his posting duties. In the meantime here's a few photos of the days so far:

Food picture at Garlic Mikes


Halfway up the switchbacks outside of Mexican hat:

Capital Reef:

Orpheus' Bike at camp outside of Escalante:

Soggy camp near Escalante:
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Old 06-17-2009, 02:40 PM   #13
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Fantastic night pics !!!!!!
2002 R1150GS - It's not about the knockdown, it's about the recovery.
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Old 06-17-2009, 02:53 PM   #14
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Fantastic ride, report and pics!! thanks for sharing your great ride!

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Old 06-17-2009, 03:15 PM   #15
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I have been in that area many times, and just love it. Thanks for sharing, and great pics!
"We don't have to run that hard to get where we can't go."
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Regnat Populus.
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