Travels with Stella! The Vermillion Cliffs and Beyond

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by JayElDee, Jun 30, 2012.

  1. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    Have you been to that place, you know that place?
    Have you felt that wind, you know that wind?
    Have you felt that sun through your visor, you know that sun?

    It's nowhere particular, it's calm in your soul, you can see forever if you want. You've been riding for hours, still have half a tank. A car passes sometimes, the grasses gold the sky robin's egg blue. You probably stink. You have a day's stubble. You stretch your fingers, stand in the pegs.
    There's a bubble around you and you are not alone within. There's someone else who whispers and chats, supports and advises, sings along.

    She gets a little restless in the spring
    She might follow the lines you sing
    Bu//sh!t though they are
    ‘Cause sometimes that’s just the thing
    If delivered with panache and a certain grace
    Fingertips on satin lace
    Cutting cards and quoting Proust
    Whatever turns her wild mare loose


    It's hot, but not that hot; dry, but not that dry and it's a long ride, but not that long.

    Stella! and I on the road and this time I know who's riding shotgun. There have been those voices, or maybe it's only one, on rides before and I thought they were me, but now I accept it could be, just might be another.

    Oh, hell, lemme get a scotch and show you where I went...BRB
    Back.
    I usually take Balvenie 12 with me on these trips, but this time it was The Macallan (only) 10
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    And a fine companion indeed, a departure gift from MLW . Always give credit.

    So, this is where I went.
    http://www.spotadventures.com/trip/view?trip_id=303140

    According to SPOT it is 4200something miles, but according to my GPS it was 4741. There were a few 500+ miles days, more than I usually want but Stella!'s only erogenous zone, her starter, was acting up or threatened to. More on that later

    I was talking about voices, I think. Rewind...yes, that's what I was talking about; that's where I was.

    So, I am riding along and I think it's day one of two weeks, an auspicious start to be sure, and I hear it. That voice.
    And I think for the first time, since maybe what? Second grade at St Pius X? It could be my guardian angel along for the ride. Why not, better her than schizophrenia, right, and it's a good voice, a sweet voice.
    MLW won't ride with me because, "someone has to stay alive," but that does not worry her, my guardian angel. It's a good voice that speaks without words.
    Does it take the solitude of two wheels, hours alone, to hear? Finally getting through, shouting loud enough to hear, or me, putting aside the quotidian? It just doesn't matter...and I can play with the thought. And I can play with the conversation and we can sing as loud as we want...Who else the hell is going to hear?

    So, I think of this and it makes sense at 75 mph on wherever I was. It fit. So I start thinking about my guardian angel and I think what's your name? Molly.
    I knew she would be a girl. Guardian angels are not gender specific, why should they be. And I picture her.
    I know she is not the guardian angel of our grammar school "holy" cards, though her mission is just the same.
    This is not her--not me either, but you get the idea...

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    Not Molly, though maybe when I was that age so many years ago that is what she was. No, now I think she is more like Jessica Lange in All That Jazz, one of my absolute favorite movies ( ok, what are the others---Pulp Fiction, Clockwork Orange, Dr Strangelove and anything by the Coen Brothers).
    Yes, more like Jessica Lange. More like this.

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    That's what I'm talking about. Ok, true...in All That Jazz Jessica Lange was Angelique, the angel of death, doesn't matter. That's how I picture her. Like Jessica Lange. Like that.

    No conversation, no question and answer, nothing but a sweet ever-present companion in some space between my ears, maybe a little to the left of midline, but so comfortable. Anyone who's ridden those long miles has met their own, You know who I mean. Did you know it was your guardian angel? If you did you should have shared. It's important.
    And Molly sings to me in lyrics meant just for me, in songs never heard, in songs I am incapable of sharing. Her songs are sweeter than Restless Spirits (Jimmy La Fave), and more touching than Collective Soul and can Bewitch, Bother, and Bewilder so that even Queen Ella's voice would quake.
    She sings that well. Ymmv but you've heard her. Not Molly herself but, well you know. You need only the road and the wind and the sun to hear if you listen, and chances are you've heard your own.


    She gets a little restless now and then
    She feels the changes in the wind
    Way down deep where I can’t see
    She can get clean away from me
    With a side step and subtle shift
    And the turning of a key
    Locks me out and lets me drift
    She’ll come back if I let her be
    She’ll come back if I let her be


    John
    #1
  2. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    Always a tough question to answer is where to go.
    There is a bucket list:
    And there is a short bucket list including the Jefferson Highway to Winnepeg, around Lake Superior, around Lake Michigan and tooling around New England just to see how far I could go.

    But as I was deciding I saw an article in the National Geographic, and that made the difference, tipped the scales.
    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/vermilion-cliffs/klinkenborg-text
    and
    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/vermilion-cliffs/barnes-photography

    A friend and I had passed through this area on the way back from Torrey a couple of years ago. It was magical as we saw it for the first time at dusk.
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    Settled, the others will have to wait. It will be the Vermillion Cliffs.
    I would leave the day after my birthday.
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    Dessert at Restaurant August, one of the best meals ever figuring I would burn it off somewhere along I 10, I 49, I 20 the next day and I probably did

    Because I was crossing Louisiana and Texas and heading to the Utah Arizona border, weather was a real consideration.
    It was spring weather season, read tornadoes and spring storms. I could not do anything about that except get Molly to help. The main concern was temperature. It is often 90 in La and Texas in late April and May, and it would be much cooler at the elevations and dryness of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. I opted for summer mesh pants and my now vintage Rev It Cayenne Pro jacket, carrying the liners for the jacket and a pair of Chillies long underwear for the pants. I took summer gloves and a now nearly worn out pair of HELD "Steve" gloves. That arrangement worked out well. In Az and UT the temps were mostly in the 50s, 60s, and occasionally in the low to mid 70s. I often used the heated grips. I was more likely to be cold than hot.
    I also took only 4 pairs of underwear and socks--all Underarmor brand--and that was enough. Other than washing/rinsing them in the evening, no washing was required ( I think :) ) and they held up just fine.

    So, it was to be the Vermillion Cliffs.
    Aside: Vermillion Cliffs also seems to be spelled "Vermilion," you'll find both spellings

    The Bureau of Land Management describes them this way, in this sterile fashion

    From the map below ...
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    you can see that they are part of the series of escarpments that make up the Grand Staircase Escalante. That slit or invagination at the bottom is the Colorado River, I think.
    They don't tell you that you should expect to see a terrain that the Opportunity and Spirit rovers on Mars see.
    This is Mars
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    This is Earth
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    The company the Cliffs keep is pretty awesome. To the south is the north rim of the Grand Canyon
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    To the north is Bryce Canyon and Kodachrome Basin
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    To the east is Glen Canyon and Monument Valley (well, ok, the northeast)

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    And to the west is Zion.

    Point is that Stella!'s trajectory toward the Vermillion Cliffs seems a good choice. I know I cannot do it all, but focus focus focus.

    First stop, the Longhorn Inn in Gordon Texas.
    #2
  3. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    The Longhorn Inn in Gordon, Texas should be noted for one thing: it's presence. There is nothing else around. Gordon, Texas is a sleepy town that made it's mark in the late 19th century as a railroad town. It processed coal from, where else, Coalville, but when oil became king its fortunes dwindled. Thurber, Texas is part of the Gordon "metroplex." To the uninitiated, me, it's hard to tell when you've left Gordon and arrived in Thurber. And actually, It seemed the Longhorn was more in Thurber than in Gordon. 600 miles away as I am now, I supposed it's a quibble. But in Gordon (or Thurber), I s'pose, thems fightin' words, pardner. Thurber was a much more cosmopolitan town. It was a center for masonry. Bricks made from the red clay of the area are widely known and are used to pave many many Texas streets, statewide. Immigrants from Germany, Poland, Italy poured into Thurber during it's heyday--the same as Gordon's--to make the brick bearing it's proud name.

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    But, when oil became king, both Gordon and Thurber declined to their present states.

    As I usually do I asked the Proprietrix of the Longhorn ($51 a night and very " spare," but acceptable accomodations) where's a good place to eat.
    Well, I always send people to the New York Hill Restaurant, up on New York Hill, up the service road about 3 miles, you can't miss it

    Whenever I hear "you can't miss it" I always think how creative I can be in missing such a landmark, and also, after riding well north of 600 miles I didn't want to get on the bike again, I wanted to get on the scotch and walk somewhere.

    What about that place across 20?
    I had noticed an Exxon with BBQ in BIG BLACK LETTERS plastered over the associated Qwiki-Mart...walking distance, Macallans distance.

    Well, that's there too but I really don't know a lot about it, I know a lot of truckers stop there.

    Sounds like you don't think much of it? She smiled in a thinly disguised assent.

    Well, I send a a lot of people to the New York Hill Restaurant and they all like it.

    Done! The Macallans will await my return. The New York Hill it will be.

    I unload Stella! and ride, now in the late afternoon Texas heat to the New York Hill Restaurant. You can't miss it.

    I walk in and the wait staff and their families are sitting at the only occupied table in the place, but it is clean and interesting in that there are old photos of the towns all over the walls.

    I take a seat. Just ice water please and a tall glass, sweating with condensation arrives with a wedge of lemon. A few other patrons arrive, visitors to Thurber.

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    The remains of the old town in the distance, the brick oven's chimney is pretty much all that remains, except for the cemetery with 1000 souls, awaiting my next visit.

    The menu is heavy on attractive pork, and I can't remember what I ordered, but it was good, though not quite as good as the conversation.
    At the table of the staff and their familiars...and, no value judgment here but we are talking about a table with an average BMI in the high 30s.

    Anyhow, at that table one of the (must be regular) gourmands observes the fine quality of the bread, and it was very good as was everything,
    "The bread is so good it sticks to your teeth," and the table's response was a collective "Eeewwwwwwww!" and laughter.

    Just then, the big guy in the hat walks in with his woman, seen here reaching for something thought to be edible.

    [​IMG]

    So, before they sit they stop at the staff table and many know each other.
    "Oh, look who's here!" and laughter and greetings in that small town way, Cheers without Shelly Long.
    A waitress says," You haven't seen me for a while!" The big guy remains the poster child for non-plussed, silent, surveying, thinking of his move. Stealthy in thought.
    From across the room I can smell deductive reasoning at work, "who is she," he thinks.
    The waitress goes on in fast talk telling him of someone she was married to, or had some relationship with that surely will ring a bell with him...and it does.
    He blurts out, loudly, "Yeah, well he went to JAIL!"
    Demurring now, getting smaller by the moment, almost invisible now, going going, she manages a very tiny "Yes, well that was a long time ago."

    Such drama at the New York Hill Restaurant in Thurber Texas.
    They take their seat, and I snap the above pic.

    So, what's the deal? Why New York, Why Thurber? Are we talking James Thurber, the humorist, of The New Yorker magazine fame? I make the connection faster than innocence disappears at a Courtney Love motivational lecture.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    James Thurber

    I ask my waitress, she has no idea, however the lady cashier and I have a discussion about it.
    No, not James Thurber, but for H.K Thurber, friend of the founders of the coal company.
    Ok, Why New York Hill?
    Well, because this is where the rich people lived, Episcopalians, by the way, and the immigrant settlers, who were Catholic, refered to the hill that way.
    So, It was sarcasm that named this New York Hill?
    Yes.
    Deep in the heart of Texas you do come across some interesting tidbits, ya know?

    I return to the Longhorn for what will be one of the most restful night's sleep of the trip, not that the others were restless, but this was noticeably restful.

    I didn't mention my fellow travelers in Trurber/Gordon, The moths.
    They were swarming and whenever I stopped they fluttered arounf Stella! landing and seemingly checking out this strange beast. They looked inquisitive, not like the flies that swarm to feast on dead bug carcasses on your windscreen or wherever. No, it was like they were looking around and when their curiosity was sated, they left.

    [​IMG]
    Eloise, the moth.

    Now to cross the panhandle, but backroads at last, off of the slab for a good while.

    John
    #3
  4. Pantah

    Pantah PJ Fan from Boston

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    10,491
    Location:
    India Wharf
    Kodachrome between the tar

    [​IMG]
    #4
  5. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    SpotAdventures having issues, but the route is now showing up on the link. I departed on the uppermost line and returned on the lower line.

    I awoke the next morning eager to hit backroads for the first time this outing. First, some coffee and breakfast. The Longhorn, although "Native Texan Owned," sporting Clean Restrooms,
    [​IMG]
    failed to have Drinks Snacks at the beguiling hour of 715 am, so I walked across the parking lot to the FINA, as in "nothing could be," well, you know, station across the gravel parking lot to sample their wares. Native Texans here also, who actually had home made versions of an Egg McMuffin in an overly hot and bright display case, and weak coffee with the pink stuff. I'm a yellow man, myself.

    I remember back during my army days something that came out said the pink stuff gave bladder cancer to mice, but I sprinkle it anyway on the translucent Joe. One half and half makes it too light. I set at a table and let the scene unfold. The two women working there inhabit the late afternoon of middle age and from all appearances received no "stimulus" money, though I could be wrong, having not been here during the what now appear to be halcyon days of George W.
    They are manly women.
    One resides behind the register and is quiet, the other "floats" and is not. I overhear a conversation:

    No, he ain't given her nothing. I don't know what she was thinking getting all involved with him, but now they have Patrick (this was the offspring, who is a baby and being raised solely by the "floater's" daughter. Kids, huh?)
    She was speaking to a gentleman who came in for, I don't know, but maybe just to catch up. He nodded and said Yup. And hmmm.
    She went on.
    Yeah, I know he has money and I don't know where he's getting it (and here I think she mean the "money" because I inferred that as of now he was not "getting it" from the mother of his child). But, he's got money. hell, I called up the DEA on him, I told them to get over there ("there" being the trailer), I even told them which one it was...
    More nodding, a Hmm or two
    It's easy to see it, you know!
    I told'em it's the one with the flashing strings of red lights because he ain't took down his Christmas lights, but they ain't done nothin'. They ain't done nothin'

    Oh, the places you'll go when you are alone on the road, but those who have done this know I am not lying. I'm not making this up. You've heard this stuff. After my first trip out with Stella! I carried a small notebook to write it down. Now I use my iPhone, just to share.
    I poured another cup of coffee, still weak, still pale. Generalization coming----Texas often has crap coffee.

    I pack up Stella! and we hit the road, heading for Santa Rosa, New Mexico and I am ready for the Land of Enchantment.

    I head mostly west along US 180 and tributaries to it through Albany and Anson until I take 70 north then 380 and west.
    I mention this because, well, it is a ride report, and it was a very nice little stretch of road, nice surface, little traffic, hilly and sweepers.
    But, man when I hit 380 heading west and up into New Mexico, the wind really picked up.

    This wind has no name and it certainly wasn't Mariah. It was as hot and dry as the Sirocco, but from the west north west.
    It was hitting me from 9 to 12 o'clock in position and mostly from like 10:30.

    I have never felt winds like this before.
    I was glad that Stella! had such heft. They were constant at 35-40 mph with gusts. While riding I just leaned into it, but when stopped I was afraid it would blow me over. It didn't. Sometimes dry earth from dry fields was blowing across the road obscuring vision as a dense fog might.
    There were dust devils around and they were big ones. I remember riding through one and when I did the air felt "softer" and warmer for a moment or two.
    I sort of aim for them sometimes.
    There was one stretch when my low fuel light lit at 122 miles, another tank at 135, and when I tried to nurse it I got to 143. Normally, highway speeds like that would light it at 170-190. Every time I stopped for gas I looked all around to be sure I had no fuel leak. I think of the nearest dealer: Albuquerque.
    Nope, no leak. Just wind resistance. Press on. First photo op ahead.
    Fort Sumner, NM.

    Known to be the death place of William H. Bonney (from wiki), born William Henry McCarty, Jr.on November 23, 1859 and meeting an untimely end, only in the sense that he lived far too long, on July 14, 1881, Bastille Day. C'est la Vie!
    He had another alias, Henry Antrim.

    You may know him as Billy the Kid

    "Billy was not a bad man, that is he was not a murderer who killed wantonly. Most of those he killed deserved what they got."
    I cannot tell you the number of times a gunshot "victim" has been brought to the OR and the comments were along the lines of the same. Meaning, they probably deserved it.
    [​IMG]

    I don't know. I have a little trouble with sympathy here. And most certainly the marketing of this "perhaps" thug.

    So, I go to the "authentic" gravesite of B the K, the "museum" is not free, but the grave site is. On the walls of the "museum" are images of wild west characters.
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    Have you ever seen a flattering portrait of Calamity Jane? None to be found here
    Martha Jane Cannary, best known as Calamity Jane, was a U.S. frontierswoman who was famous for her riding and shooting skills, as well as for her kindness.
    Your mother would've told you she was a good dancer and had a great personality. She also had easy virtue...interested now, grasshopper?
    [​IMG]
    Admittedly, not particularly flattering, but damn! This is CJ at the Fort Sumner Museum
    [​IMG]
    Hot? I think not.
    However, Hollywood chose Doris Day to portray her in "Warner Bros. Sky-Highest Smile-Widest Wild'n Wooliest Musical of Them All!"

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    Aside: I saw no camels on this trip, however it appears one of their toes made it to the poster. And did she have a whip?

    Anyhow, I go around to the grave. It is sparsely attended. Lots of room in the cemetery.
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    And I have enough of the whole Billy the Kid scene. good kid, bad circumstances...maybe I am just jaded from another hundred plus years of that sort of thing, and those excuses are still used for many gangsta predators (victims?) on our streets. My kid is an honor student at Billy the Kid Elementary. SFW!

    What was ironic or poignant or somewhere in between were these signs right there.
    [​IMG]

    The Bosque Redondo, just down the road was an internment camp for many Native Americans in the time around the Civil War. Mostly Navajo, but other tribes/peoples also were force marched, in the winter 400 miles on occasion, to this location. One piece of the Southwest is as good as another, right? That appeared to be the thinking then, and that land was "needed" to fulfill Manifest Destiny, I suppose. Terrible times. But this wink and nod to the almost glorification of the Kid, next to this Other real estate, a bit much.

    I made it to Santa Rosa being a relatively short ride away, in that wind and hunkered at the Motel 6 on Route 66.
    Trivia: Motel "6," why 6?
    Because the first rooms were $6 a night.

    John
    #5
  6. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    Sorry for the delay, work's been hectic and busy, and many after hours engagements this week, so I have been away from the keyboard. I did get this shot of the Transit of Venus though.

    [​IMG]
    You can see Venus as the circular spot near 2 o'clock--that's about 27 million miles away. On the Sun's face the other dots/smudges are sunspots--cooler areas--that are 65 million miles behind Venus's shadow.

    So, how's that for a segue back to the land of the Sun, the American Southwest?
    Mercifully the wind stopped by the next morning. I depart Santa Rosa - "the Oasis on Route 66 and Jewel of New Mexico. Santa Rosa is a beautiful small city with great recreational facilities; home of the Blue Hole, an artesian, bell-shaped lake, crystal clear blue water, crisp 61 degrees year round and 91' feet deep" - and my general direction is north west, but a bit of tourism stirred in.

    I head down NM 91, south, a neat road to Puerto del Luna. At PDL Coronado and his conquistadors built a bridge across the Pecos River and named the site for the view of the moon they had as it rose over a ridge.
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    PDL is mostly in disrepair these days, but the church remains, Nuestro Señora del Refugio Church, seen above. A dusty spot renown for it's history and its chili, I depart, swing around and tool off.

    When you ride one of these rides, and those of you who have know this, there are pictures you miss along the way and in Vaughn, NM there was one--I think there were only 3 on this ride though. So, I am riding along, looking at Vaughn on US 60/285, a diorama of what used to be, preserved only by Nature now, and on my left is one of those old decrepit former gas stations that now serve only to function as a repository for delinquent tumbleweeds. It's a small one, two ghost pumps, one shuttered service bay, no outward sign of its former affiliation with an oil producing multinational, let go, adrift.
    In the window is a sign, hand painted, on wood, black letters on white:

    Female Vocalist Needed

    and then a phone number.
    Really?

    [​IMG]

    Sometimes what is out there just bounces you around; it could be the winds, it could be the hitchhikers, it could be three words placed so joltingly inappropriately to their surroundings, or maybe not inappropriately, I'll never know. I realized that was a picture waiting to happen, but by that time, at 80 feet per second, I was a block away and as I considered the 180 involved, I was two blocks, then three, and It was lost. I could have done the 180 and gone back, considered it, but I really do not like to do U turns on any highway, and not this one. So, that was one picture we both lost, but it would've been a good one I think, or maybe not.
    Not far from Vaughn, is Willard, NM, home of the Willard Cantina. Great Food and ICE.
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    The food was ok and I needed no ice. And the coffee was ok, but better than Texas coffee--or the Texas coffee I had.
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    I sat at that chair on the right, by the window with the plants and the moths that you can't see.
    It was a classic road house, though. There was a dining room on one side and a ramshackle bar with tables on the other. It would be described a "rough" if there were any other establishment in Willard to compare it. There were not.
    The dining room.

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    There were other tables occupied by locals with families, kids, grandmas and grandpas, and a couple of harley riders, and two middle aged women seated in the bar area/ dance floor section.
    I was the "lone traveler." But, you get that a lot, and it is interesting to do a little out of body to see yourself seated, checking out, walking to the bathroom, see yourself as others there must see you, road worn, bugs on your jacket, helmet head.
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    It was a place heavy on the skull motif, I don't get it, someone educate me on that. Above the bar, there is the "Ground and Pound" bumper sticker and above that is "You Drink...You Drive...You Lose."
    Maybe it's the Día de los Muertos thing, especially seen in this area, but it seems to be the rage among a certain crowd of riders, whose only ties to Mexican culture are microwaved frozen cheese tacos from WalMart.

    Anyway...

    At the time, Willard was a nice little stop along the way, a photo op and decent food and the coffee I missed at the Motel 6 in Santa Rosa. But now, a month later, It is a microcosm for the road. Relish those places, stop, relax a second and those places, The Willard Cantina, wind up achieving a status you couldn't realize at the time, but will later.

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    That evening I wind up in Los Alamos. That is a neat place. They invented the Bomb here, Manhatten Project and all that. The museum is very cool with mock ups of the two bombs dropped at the end of WW2. There is a cool film about the whole project.
    [​IMG]
    One of the cameras used
    And, home to the greatest junk/surplus shops you will ever encounter: The Black Hole
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    It is in a beautiful area, and just down the road from one of my favorite cities, described in a previous ride report, Santa Fe.

    Really getting into the meat of the trip now, though, I pass through a favorite spot, but now seen from a different vantage point, Shiprock, outside of the town of the same name.
    It's one of those places you can just stop and stare for a while and there are roads all around it, but it is Navajo Nation so the dirt roads leading to it are not well traveled and can be very muddy and rutty. Still it is a special area and a beauty.

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    Shiprock is in the Four Corners area, but I have never been there. It really is the definition of out of the way, but not that far out of the way. People talk about the area as being pretty cool, but I think that all areas around there have the same appeal. Still, it is worth a detour if you find yourself nearby, just to say you've been there.
    There is a monument to the political boundaries. It is a spot where everyone takes the same picture, and yes it is cheesy. But, hey, why not! It's not like anyone there is going to talk about you unless you do something like the Chevy/Ford after market (well-after-market) pick-up truck decal
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    and you then substitute Ford for Arizona and Calvin for Utah, or mix and match to your own "taste."
    Then you may be discussed afterward, if not arrested on the spot--take away message if you choose, get it right the first time, there will be no second try.

    So, feeling the fromage rising I walk up, take a shot of a happy family at where "X" marks the spot.
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    The picture taker and the happy family are not related, but these areas engender a camaraderie, so everyone is willing to help out each other. I can feel it coming over me.
    Now, it should be noted that the lady grimly observing from Arizona the goings on across the states' lines
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    accompanied the lady in jeans, also in Arizona, doing the happy family the lifelong favor of preserving the moment of this geographic oddity.
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    Now it was Grim and Jeans's turn to have their picture taken and I offered. They accepted and we laughed. I said This Is So Cheesy with a smile, but falling deeper into the fondue of the moment. Jeans laughed and protested, Oh No! Not At All, but Grim agreed with me still posing happily at the nexus of Arizona Colorado Utah New Mexico.

    Now it was my turn and in full Monterrey Jack Havarti Gouda Gruyere Cheddar mode I Carpe Diem the moment and place four of my longer appendages in each of four states, put on my best feces consuming grin and "snap," a picture is worth a thousand words.

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    We part, and I head to my destination for the evening, Blanding, Utah

    [​IMG]
    #6
  7. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    Where was I? Los Alamos, Shiprock, Four Corners, Blanding...ready for "red rocks."

    But before I leave that and move on, there are two things I want to mention.
    1) Lost picture number 2

    It was near here
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    This is on the road to Abiquiu and beyond, outside of Espanola. Espanola is worth a stop if you're in the area. It's pretty old, I think and has a famous trading post, The Chimayo Trading Post
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    The old guy in the front window is not a mannequin, that is a living breathing human being.
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    courtesy...HMdb.org
    That's Mr. Leo "Polo" Trujillo.
    He runs the place. Doesn't say much and we were the only customers. There was truly nothing to buy, but lots of knicknacks and old clothes.
    Just outside the Chimayo TP, was this house.
    [​IMG]
    The Trujillo-Blanchard House
    Betcha can't see the legend over the blue doorway...here

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    I cannot find anything about the Trujillo-Blanchard House, specifically who were Trujillo and Blanchard--a common south Louisiana name, except:
    Blanchard, Antoine
    Taos, married Gertrudis Trujillo, 12 July 1826

    I don't know if that means anything though, but Shoulder of Mutton Alley? :-k

    But it could be all of this has a much more mundane history, other than it being a well preserved old home on the National Register.
    Turns out, Leo Trujillo worked as a member of a cabin crew on PanAm. He met his wife on the job. They traveled the world and collected stuff and brought it back here when they retired to this place. One of the items collected was the street sign from the dockyards of London, Shoulder of Mutton Alley. You can connect the remaining dots.

    There is good food in Espanola, I ate at this place, favored by locals and it was delicious.
    [​IMG]
    El Paragua Restaurant
    http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/279/1226015/restaurant/Santa-Fe/El-Paragua-Restaurant-Espanola

    But back to the item at hand, the lost picture in Espanola. All of us have seen the roadside crosses, marking a loved one's place of demise, automobile, motorcycle...
    for example,
    [​IMG]

    Nothing elaborate though in this case. On US 84/285 skirting the western edge of town a simple cross stating:
    UNSOLVED MURDER

    and then the name and phone number. Yet, again, I am jolted by the incongruity of the view, but unable to turn around on the very busy highway. I made a mental note to get that picture if I came back through, but Stella! had other plans for me, directing me on the way home through ABQ.

    Item number 2
    Alcoholism among Native Americans
    I am not going to get into the social arguments regarding root causes; I am not going to address whether Native Americans have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism (from I I see, btw, it appears not. The "facts" that they lack a gene that is involved in the metabolism of alcohol by the liver is controversial at best and possibly wrong, but the jury is out on that one).
    No, what I want to mention is something I have seen primarily in the Navajo Nation in multiple states and that is the beer bottle litter on the side of the road.
    It is a strange situation because it seems
    1-to be worse in the Navajo Nation than Zuni, or Ute, or other tribes
    2-it is only on certain roads, always far from any township, read, in the middle of nowhere, one road will be afflicted and others in the same area will not
    3-there is no increased density to the beer bottles at any particular spot on the road, for example, at an intersection, or STOP sign.

    I'll be riding along and on a road like this--not this one, but like it, often on a reservation, and again most certainly in a "Nation's" land
    [​IMG]
    something shiny will catch my eye. There will be beer bottles strewn along both sides of the roadway, with no increase in density, but a steady "pollution" for miles and miles and miles. In an area the size of the top of an office desk there will be three or four bottles, clear, green, brown. Thousands of them. In any one spot, within beer bottle throwing distance there will be 25-50 bottles. Again, it will be that way for miles and miles
    It is so incongruous that this landscape will be desecrated in this way. And it appears it is desecrated by the people of that Land.
    Remember this guy?
    [​IMG]

    Iron Eyes Cody

    Ok, there is a story there also.
    Iron Eyes was not Native American at all, "but played one in the movies." His portrayals were so good though, that even though not Native American, (from Wiki) "In 1995, Cody was honored by the American Indian community for his work publicizing the plight of Native Americans, including his acting in films."
    But wait! There's more!
    Turns out that Iron Eyes did NOT go by the moniker Tony Five-Tears, BUT he was Italian! Actually BETTER than Italian...Sicilian! Yeah, Baby!
    Born Espera Oscar de Corti in Kaplan, Louisiana (in the heart of Cajun country, Acadiana), the second son of Antonio de Corti and his wife, Francesca Salpietra, immigrants from Sicily. He had two brothers and a sister. His parents had a local grocery store in Gueydan ( pronounced GAY-Dawn), Louisiana, where he was raised.
    de Corti became Corti and then Cody.
    He denied his Italian (Sicilian) ancestry when it was revealed by our local paper, The Times-Picayune, in the late 90s, but eventually "turned" and spilled his guts.
    Tony Five-Tears now "sleeps with the fishes" meeting a "natural" end in 1999 at 95 years old.
    So, yeah, we need him now on those back roads, making the litterers an offer they just cannot refuse, capisce?
    #7
  8. Pantah

    Pantah PJ Fan from Boston

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    10,491
    Location:
    India Wharf
    [​IMG]
    #8
  9. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    Hey, Pantah,
    Looks like we have the same wanderlust destinations! did you stealth at Shiprock? That is a very cool pic of Kodachrome Basin, btw.

    I arrive in Blanding in late afternoon. I take a cool route there, but in truth there aren't many options. Let me put it another way: from the Four Corners area I went into Colorado for a little bit then I followed the squiggliest road marking I could and that included Utah 262 which was a sweeping twisting route with good views off to the south. There was another route out of Aneth (which I always thought looked like "Anes" which is how we often abbreviate Anesthesia, and in fact is the way I'd say it if I had a lisp, which I don't). It was even squigglier, but iirc it was dirt??? On this route, the route from Colorado to 262, I saw the aforementioned detritus, the thousands of beer bottles strewn on the shoulder.
    So, Blanding.

    Blanding is aptly named, but just outside of town are many scenic areas, all day trips from B., Ut. It had that high plains dry hot wind that promised chill later that night. It had that late afternoon sun that no matter which way you turned, you were staring into our own star. It had a Comfort Inn next to an Italian restaurant, and late on this Sunday afternoon, that was what I wanted. I wash the road kill from my hair, wash my face and I am ready to savor what Mr Macallan has to offer, ice bucket, I pour a double, really a 1.5 into the cups that others use for the weak coffee in the room.
    Ahhhhhhh.

    Ok, let's go eat. I hit the restaurant, walking distance. And I do not remember what I ordered, I don't remember it being good or bad or anything but not unsatisfying. I like to remember meals.
    Fast forward to the next morning. The sky was washed clean, the late afternoon yellow sun was replaced by a whiter light in the morning.
    I take 191 S from Blanding, but hang a right onto UT 95 just out of town.
    95 is a beautiful road for both the ride and the scenery. First you are gawking at the beauty of the ride, up and down and sweepers in magnificent country, but there is a spot that will stop you every time, well, it stopped me on two rides through this area.
    The road is cut through a mountain and you emerge on the southwestern flank of the Coxcomb Ridge.
    [​IMG]

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    This is the route

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    and the ridge itself from afar
    [​IMG]

    That is what you ride alongside of when you come through that break on 95. You get a hint of what it is when you're along side, but to take it in, you follow the road as the views just become better and better. Both times I've been here have been the morning, but I'll bet that late afternoon golden sun lighting it from the side must be magnificent. If anyone has that shot please post it.

    Going a little farther and one of the National parks that make Blanding an attractive base, arrives. It is Natural Bridges National Monument. There are three huge natural bridges in the park and if so inclined you can hike to them.

    I am not a hiker by any stretch. And I am especially not a hiker ATGATT and carrying a heavy camera. And this area is at enough elevation, that, for this dweller of submarine atmosphere, I get short of breath. And hot. No hiking.
    But you really don't have to. The park has a 9 mile loop with parking and vault toilets (yes) along the way. Viewing areas are placed well. Pretty cool.

    [​IMG]

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    The one above I stared and stared and could not see it, right in front of my face, and that was because I didn't expect to see an arch so long

    [​IMG]

    And I saw this. kind of looks like a dinosaur print? But I am ignorant when it comes to this, so I am probably wrong, but if someone wants to say Nahhhhh, I'm fine with it.

    [​IMG]

    At the visitor's center I meet the first European of this trip, Marco, from The Netherlands. Well, actually he is living in Calgary now, and on his 650 GS, yellow, he is tooling around the US and will eventually get to the deep south east, but only after he rides back up to Calgary. Young kid, probably in his late 20s, very chatty. We talked technology and roads and life on the road. I was able to offer some suggestions on considered routes. He was doing this on the cheap and camping. He had just done the loop of the park and encouraged me to do so, and I did. I think I sent him toward the Moki Dugway, but he could handle that. And that is where I headed now.

    A good description of the Dugway can be found in the link below, but it's one of those places that you just have to be there to appreciate it. I came from the north side as in the description.
    I rode the Dugway a few years ago from the other direction so I was climbing rather than descending. It was easier and felt more sure footed, even though it was in the rain. The gravel/dust mix of the road is that sort that would turn glissando, one would think, with the mention of precipitation, but I found it slipperier in the dry. Not once when ascending in the rain did I feel the sphincter tightening I felt when descending in the dry. It is steep somewhat rutted, had the goldilocks sized gravel (just the right size to make you feel every time your tire slipped on a piece), and never ever level fore to aft, side to side. Stopping for pictures is precarious. It is the kind of place the DESERVES a sticker and if one exists please let me know. It deserves a sticker.

    check out this link---good info and good pictures. There is one picture though that could not be taken today because the sign is gone, as is the fencing. It's the second to last one with the elevation listed.
    http://www.midwestroads.com/otherstates/mokidugway/

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    This road literally climbed, descended these cliffs. Looking at them from somewhat afar they looked like and were probably part of the Vermilion Cliffs, and were certainly part of the Grand Staircase of southern Utah.
    [​IMG]

    The feeling was somewhere between Yikes! and Woo Hoo! and Did It!! But it was closest to Yikes! I didn't feel my guardian angel's presence on this ride, or maybe she was just staying quiet unwilling to distract me. Whatever. I made it.
    This is what I just came down, see the road? No? Neither can I and I couldn't then, when I snapped this.

    It was at that spot, and this is the picture the other way, my direction of travel,
    [​IMG]
    that I had a Clif Bar, drained the lizard, and answered my phone. Yes, answered my phone...there was service here. AT&T huh? Service breaks up in my bedroom, but I have service here. Amazing.

    The other amazing thing was that it was a call I awaited, from Hummer Adventures in Page, Az. More on that later though. A fortuitous stop for more than one reason, though.

    So, I travel on, and visit an old site, visited once before, Goosenecks State Park, so called because of this bend in the San Juan River.

    [​IMG]


    So, I am there taking pictures with about 50 other people when this subtle roar arises, becoming less and less subtle and then loud, very loud

    [​IMG]
    I think that's a C130? But very cool buzzing the canyon.

    [​IMG]

    I straddle Stella! and we ride out of the park on the nice little road that connects back to the highway and then south toward and through Mexican Hat, Utah, called such because of this rock formation

    [​IMG]

    It was around here, that Stella! started protesting almost whenever I hit her starter button. She whirred rather than yin/yin/yin/vroom!'d. Before the trip I knew there were a few things that needed tending, but I thought, and as it turns out I was right, I thought they could wait for the trip to be over. They were changing the fuel filter, now externalized, and the air filter which requires (for me, ymmv) removal of the tank--ugh, and getting a new starter. Her starter has been in and out of her at least three times in the previous 20k miles, being cleaned and lubed and other than clattering on start, seemed to perform just fine.

    Just fine until we hit the exceedingly dry air of Utah and now that Honda Moly grease, the 6% stuff, no longer made the distance to lube the shaft enough to actually engage the flywheel. And it got worse. She always started in the morning and maybe once after that without drama, but later in the day, it was certain that it would take a few tries to get lift-off. Houston we have a problem. On the second to last day I found a trick to coax the starter to engage and that was to bump the starter button a couple of times in rapid succession and she would engage. I really didn't notice anything dramatic with the fuel or air filter and still routinely got nearly 50 mpg, but when I got home and changed them, the air filter was really dirty and gross, and when I blew on the end of the fuel filter there was significant resistance to flow, far more than the new one. And like the good date she's always been, she waited for me to be safely home for her hi beam to burn out.
    Always the lady.
    Changing the starter is pretty easy, instuctions can be found online. It is FAR cheaper to do it yourself. I found a new OEM Valeo for $191 delivered. A shop doing it would reach $400, I'm pretty sure.

    So, we leave Medicine Hat and head toward Monument Valley, skirting it on the west, heading to Page, the Vermilion Cliffs and Hummer Adventures
    #9
  10. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    It was getting warm on that ride from Medicine Hat to Page, but there was a photo op along the way: Monument Valley.

    I would just skirt it, but the majesty of the megaliths never fails to arrest one's vision. Even if you're just passing alongside, you have to stop. There is a picture that is often taken on rides around here.
    It's this one
    [​IMG]
    I took that a few years ago on my big ride, Out West. You'll see it in many ride reports of this area.
    This time I couldn't get that one; the area is much more built up, and there was a lot of traffic on this Monday afternoon.

    As I approached Monument Valley from the north, from Goosenecks State Park and Mexican Hat, it was clear that the Big Rocks of MV were not confined to the stretch known as Monument Valley. They extended far to the west. This is a view from Goosenecks toward the west and these are not part of MV, but to anyone they would appear to be siblings.

    [​IMG]

    and a baby Big Rock, just on the edge of Goosenecks

    [​IMG]

    Still, just down the road a bit the card carrying formations of MV appear nearly straddling the border of Utah and Arizona, a border that after this trip may have become my favorite place in the USA--if only they had Louisiana seafood.

    [​IMG]

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    And here on the Arizona side of the border. That signage was not there just a few years ago.

    [​IMG]

    From there you can take 160 down to beyond Tuba City, a hot dusty place of big box stores and wide intensely bright asphalt streets, OR, you can take 160 as far as Az 98, aka Indian Route 22, through the Navajo Nation

    [​IMG]

    I took 98. It's an interesting ride on a very good blacktop surface with no services. Take that back, there is a gas station on the north side of 98, about 3 miles east of US 89. It is to be avoided. Surly operators--you have to go in and pay before pumping, and with a bladder commanding as much conscious thought as shifting, braking and not falling over, it was just plain awful to hear that the bathroom was out of order. Ugh. And it was not the kind of place you could go "around the back." When in that area, fill up in Kayenta. There are some nice people at the Fina station. OK so I digressed to talk about my bladder, again, but it was that important at the time, ok? Still I got ahead of myself a bit.

    AZ 98, Square Mesa and environs
    [​IMG]

    Page, Arizona is a VERY cool destination. It is so near so many beautiful areas, Lake Powell, Glen Canyon, Monument Valley, North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Grand Escalante, Capital Reef, The Wave, Antelope Canyon, and the Vermillion Cliffs.
    Page itself looks to be a town dedicated to the outdoor lifestyle. You'll see lots of hikers, bikers, motorcyclists, travelers, etc. And there's a WalMart.
    The people are generally nice, and on these trips you'll find that 99% of the people you meet are, but there is that 1%. This is the 1% that the Occupiers should schedule for summary execution...just because.

    I neglected to bring a hat to wear when off the bike and everywhere I went the sun seemed to burn brighter and brighter.

    I don't do sun well.
    I needed a hat, some aspirin, and a couple of other things that Wally world would likely have. The Days Inn where I stayed was:
    1-the nicest Days Inn I've ever visited--I had a private balcony.
    and
    2- It was across the highway from a WalMart.

    I had 2 and 1/2 days in Page and on the first day I would do a big loop around the Vermillion Cliffs, 89 to Kanad to 89a and back to Page--A GREAT ride. But a hot and dry and sunny ride.

    I pull into the WalMart and park, as other bikes have in the white cross hatched end on a row of cars
    like this
    [​IMG]
    As i am taking off my jacket a gentleman leaving the store comes up and starts talking to me about the bike, where I've been, where I am going, that sort of thing that any rider of these trips knows too well. It happens a lot, almost everyday. Riding like this is a natural conversation starter. No big deal except it's always a nice thing. You know that.

    I go in, find everything I sought, including a hat, one of those big olive drab, sort of like a tennis hat with a jungle influence, tie on the bottom, hats, made in Pakistan (that war is good for something it seems), and promising that "one size fits most."
    I try it on in the store and sure enough I am one of the great masses, for whom this hat fits.
    I am most.

    I walk back to my bike and I see a man in a car leaning out his window and taking a picture of Stella! Having just had the experience of chatting it up with a passer by, I think, incorrectly this guy is interested in my travel. I shout, "You want to take a picture of me next to the bike?" Big smile on my face.
    This guy is anything but pleased to see me. He's angry. He is the Parking Lot Vigilante. The Self Proclaimed King of All Parking and the sole arbiter of what is and, more importantly, what is NOT a LEGAL PARKING PLACE.
    That's you parked there?
    Yes,
    Can't you see that you can't park there?
    No. (And this really gets his creative juices flowing. A real candidate for arrogance management)
    There's a sign right there!!!
    No, there isn't.
    That Handicap sign!
    I look and the handisign says nothing about where I am parked and I left tons of room for a hospital strecther, an OR table, An ICU bed with invasive monitoring between where I am and the nearest vehicle.
    Looking to defuse the situation, I say I'm sorry and "It doesn't matter anyway because I am leaving now."
    Yeah, well, we see how smart you are when you get a $300 fine in the mail!
    Every word this bitter old fart uttered was with a scowl. This guy had some real issues and he was taking it out at the WalMart parking lot. And I get to meet him...the 1%
    As he drives away in the current rendition of a K car I see his plates.
    Arizona "NOLUCK"
    Yep, that was his license plate, NOLUCK. What a POS excuse for humanity, Welcome to Page. This guy did more to destroy my favorable impression of Page than anything else I encountered on this ride. In fact, thinking about it, I think
    Mr NOLUCK was the single most rude and obnoxious individual I've met on any of my rides around the country. Ever. He wins. Hands down.

    So, if any of my friends in Az run across NOLUCK, try to get him angry, or maybe extend him the ADVRider "salute."

    So after, that encounter, and worried that I might get a $300 present in the mail, and not wishing to become again a fugitive from justice in Arizona--I think the statute of limitations probably applies to the incident in Two Guns, Arizona in 1969-I took a couple of pictures of my surroundings detailing other bikes parked egregiously illegal, according to NOLUCK, and then rode rode rode, with the lingering distaste of my tete a tete with the scummy piece of goat cheese, known as NOLUCK in Page Arizona.
    Lake Powell drains into the Colorado River that snakes its way along the western edge of Page. There are nice viewing areas in Page of the Lake Powell Dam and the slice in the Earth the Colorado makes, hinting at the carving it will do farther south.

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    This is a subdivision in Page. The houses are adobe style. Not a bad view, you think? That is the direction of Monument valley.
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    The dam
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    The Lake
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    The Prickly Pears were abloom
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    And along US 89. I have "officially" gone to where I have been telling everyone I was headed, the area around the Vermillion Cliffs.
    #10
  11. iloco

    iloco Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
    Oddometer:
    291
    Location:
    Chilhowie, Va
    I am enjoying your report. :clap
    #11
  12. Pantah

    Pantah PJ Fan from Boston

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Oddometer:
    10,491
    Location:
    India Wharf
    Great report. Am enjoying your commentary too. Pretty handy with that camera!

    I rode through many of those spots a few years ago. I rode that KTM from Boston to Monterey to see MotoGP. I took the northern plains west. Basically hitting the Badlands, Wounded Knee, Black Hills, Yellowstone, Tetons, and into Twin Falls, then south and west through Nevada to take in Yosemite before rolling into Carmel. I left the bike a couple months in the Bay Area and flew back to ride her home through what AAA maps calls "Indian Country". I connected some of the tar with dirt roads suggested by another inmate. I even camped on the edge of the north rim at a remote spot called Toroweep.

    The Dugway almost got me, though. I was blowin' south on top of that Mesa trying to make Mexican Hat before dark. The sun had set, but still light and I was cruising about 80, when I saw the first warning signs. Fortunately I snapped out of my zone in time to get woa'd up. :eek1

    I didn't know about the Dugway. I couldn't believe my eyes when I stopped at the first switch to take a pic.

    [​IMG]

    I've since been back a few times. In fact I keep a small dual sport in Arizona to explore with. My favorite town in those parts is Taos. I have a client who lives there so I visit when I can. In fact in Sep I'm going to ride to Dinosaur National Park and then trace the Pony Express route to Nevada. I bought the tracks for the route from Tony Huegel of backcountrybyways.com.

    Great part of the world out there. I wish everybody could go see it aboard a motorcycle. Looking forward to your Hummer thing and return trip. :clap

    Thanks
    #12
  13. secretk6

    secretk6 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2007
    Oddometer:
    39
    Location:
    Bettendorf,Iowa
    Thanks for taking me along! Great writing like yours (and photography) really helps me get through my life. My wife has decided to take away my motorcycle. We have been married for 39 years and I guess she wanted to test the "for better or for worse". Thanks again for sharing.
    #13
  14. lookatdirt

    lookatdirt Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2009
    Oddometer:
    101
    Location:
    San Diego
    What a terrific Ride Report. Thanks for sharing, I am enjoying this so much. That part of the country is epic.

    Your wife "took away" your motorcycle? Dude, seriously. That reminds me of the joke-

    "My wife called me a pussy. That made me so mad, I almost said something!"
    #14
  15. CapCal1000

    CapCal1000 Uhhh....

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    239
    Location:
    Here and there.
    I ride through Page, AZ on a regular basis.. Excited to run across Mr. "NOLUCK" and hopefully amp him up for some fun..
    #15
  16. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    Thanks for the kind words and glad y'all are enjoying the report. I apologize for the delay in continuing, but I had the op arise to ride to New England for a couple of weeks, and I suddenly had to plan for that. That is where I am now and I have been plagued by bad internet connections.

    So, Mr Pantah, you just serendipitously happened on to the Dugway. Lucky you. I'll bet it got your attention, huh? There really should be some sort of badge for that, I think. But back to it...

    The Vermil(l)ion Cliffs are the raison d'etre for the trip. It was the place. And now with two full days to explore, they did not disappoint. They are not quite as otherworldly as some other parts of Utah nearby, like Fry Canyon along UT 95, but it comes close. We all like "other-worldly."

    I decided to do the loop the north way, i.e., from Page, go west on US 89 to Kanab then south to Fredonia, then back to page on US 89a.
    [​IMG]

    There was only one side trip and that was up Johnson Canyon Road, and that's the route to the north from 89, nearing Kanab.

    I chose this way because I would have the sun to my back, on all parts of the ride, leaving in mid morning, just after my encounter with NOLUCK.

    There is a spot that deserves googling, and that is The Wave.
    This route is in the heart of the Paria Plateau. The PP contains some breath-taking scenery. The Wave area is apparently one of those.
    [​IMG]
    This is not my picture, I couldn't get there, but you can, IF
    you are a hiker--I am not
    have about 7 hours to spare
    and have the luck of a lottery winner

    It is on Navajo land, sacred land. There is an office in Kanab that administers the site. Only a handful of hikers are allowed in on a daily basis, handful = ~7.
    Those 7 are chosen by lottery performed the day before. You can put your name on the list months before, but that does not favor your chances. Still, looks pretty cool doesn't it?
    There are dirt tracks that cris-cross the plateau, so the off road crowd could get into the area, though maybe not the Wave, but still some other-worldly stuff, I'm sure.
    The 500+# sport touring people, maybe not so much.
    So, I am exploring the well-beaten track of this off the beaten track land.

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    Stella! whirrs a couple of times then kicks over, as I ponder being stuck out her, if "stuck" is an operative word in such surroundings, still it's really dry and our star is unrelenting in its burn.

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    I took a right up Johnson Canyon road.
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    Johnson Canyon Road is special among special. There was a farm or two along the road, and the cattle looked at me with bovine curiosity, or, bovine loathing, or bovine angst, it's just so hard to tell, you know? I took their picture and ridiculed their speech doing the impersonation that every dad does, though maybe a little different in ATGATT than leaning out the window of a Honda Odyssey with Sarah and Jim, Jr tucked in their Century car-seats watching The Little Mermaid for the umpteenth time, MOOOOOOOOO. I thought I saw one kind of shake his head a bit, hurt, but another turned and mooed to no one in particular, "How come that steer gets to ride a motorcycle?"

    I ate a Clif Bar, and took care of a problem on the side of the road, then hopped back on Stella!, whirred her to an eventual start, and continued up into Johnson Canyon.
    It reminded me of the Burr Trail, though not for its color, white vs red, or its dryness, less desert-like here, but for its tangible intermingling of sky and Earth. And that sense of significant insignificance. The isolation is similar, but the touch is also. JCR is only about 9 miles long before it turns to well packed dirt and continues northward, not my direction, and I turn around to experience this beautiful little side-ride from the other direction.
    I head back to 89 and west to pass through Kanab, then Fredonia, then the ride to Jacob Lake and beyond.

    As you travel to Jacob Lake, which is little more than a gas station--the only gas from Fredonia to Page, the road ascends into an alpine forest of squiggles and sweeps. It gets cooler. Jacob Lake is at the intersection of 89 and AZ67, that if taken, will send you on a fast twisty ride to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, if Ma and Pa Kettle in their RV, Soujourner, do not block your view or your fun. Did this a couple of years ago and it IS worth the detour, but not today...BTDT AND the road is CLOSED, though no explanation is given. It is a high enough road and I am early enough in the season that it could be snow, but I don't know that.
    Doesn't matter, I snake Stella! through the sweeps and travel fast, as 89a begs, pleads with you to have fun...that kind of road.
    My radar bleats, and I slow down in time to see officer friendly on the side of the road ready to snare, I mean protect and serve me. I wave and ride on, though no more bleating ensues.
    And I know where I am heading, The Vermillion Cliffs proper, having crossed the plateau formed by them, on 89, but 89a is down below. I remembered that there was a spot as you come out of a tight sweep on 89a fromJacob Lake, in alpine forest and dive back into Arizona Desert, but WHOA...The Vermillion Cliffs!
    the first view

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    You can see Stella! parked on the side of the road on the right, way down there. I think you drop about 1500-2000 feet right here, so walking back to get this pic was uphill at about 8000 feet???? Could be wrong, but my heart and lungs protested, but who needs those killjoy organs anyway. I wanted to get that picture!
    Snap.
    Then on down the road and for the next just under thirty miles these views are your ONLY companions. You are alone with the sky and the Earth and the breeze and your guardian angel who is just as awe-struck by the beauty as you are. It's one of those places that you know you shouldn't make a sound, or if you do it's a whisper, like it's Gaia's Cathedral, and she may chuckle when Stella! is reluctant to leave, whispering look, and listen, and smell, and touch and taste the icing.
    To quote Wayne and Garth: we are unworthy. But, damn! thanks anyway!

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    When I looked at this picture, following, I thought to myself that this is what long distance solo touring is all about...lightyears from usual context, but able to see that context with a clarity that is impossible when in it..if that makes sense.
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    And I head back into Page, the Days Inn, with the nice balcony, ready for tomorrow and a little more of the Vermillion Cliffs.
    #16
  17. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    89 and 89a are are as meaty with digestible scenery as any highway circle is in the southwest.

    Traveling into Page there is a sign, easily missed, pointing to the west , a turnoff from 89 going to "Horseshoe Bend."

    If, fellow traveler, you come this way, take that detour as it will bring you to quite a spectacle, a horseshoe bend of the Colorado. To be sure there are many of these bends in that meandering scalpel of a river, but this one is pretty special.

    For one thing, you can easily kill yourself with one false, or determined move. It is the kind of drop that allows you to "get there from here." The contrast of green water and orange red rocks, Navajo Sandstone, is probably present at hundreds of overlooks, but here you can clamber over wind sculpted slabs and boulders and explore lava-pies that look like they were laid, plopped, dumped by Babe, Paul Bunyon's Blue Ox.
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    " Well now, one winter it was so cold that all the geese flew backward and all the fish moved south and even the snow turned blue. Late at night, it got so frigid that all spoken words froze solid afore they could be heard. People had to wait until sunup to find out what folks were talking about the night before.
    Paul Bunyan went out walking in the woods one day during that Winter of the Blue Snow. He was knee-deep in blue snow when he heard a funny sound between a bleat and a snort. Looking down, he saw a teeny-tiny baby blue ox jest a hopping about in the snow and snorting with rage on account of he was too short to see over the drifts.
    Paul Bunyan laughed when he saw the spunky little critter and took the little blue mite home with him. He warmed the little ox up by the fire and the little fellow fluffed up and dried out, but he remained as blue as the snow that had stained him in the first place. So Paul named him Babe the Blue Ox.
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    It is a place of frozen time or a place of eternity unfolded, it is a place where "all spoken words froze solid afore they could be heard. People had to wait until sunup to find out what folks were talking about the night before."

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    Lava-pies belched out of the Earth long ago and far away..look out!

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    what a scene it must've been to see this splurt of molten rock land here, and hear its sound, sizzle, steam, sputter, spit then its glow before dying on the surface of the planet whose innards rejected it or sent it out on its own journey.
    A journey from the center of the Earth.

    You walk a little farther, and you come to the main attraction.
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    Near the bottom you can see part of my shadow. No rails, no nothing for "protection" here. It would seem that the area just speaks for itself. There were people, well, there were a couple of young guys, and me, who belly-crawled to the edge and hung our cameras over to get THE shot of the horseshoe. Don't tell our mothers we did that. No females did that when I was there. I can only guess that the daredevil ignoramus gene is dominant and/or sex linked.
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    It's about a quarter mile from the parking lot to the edge, through sand as deep and fine as any beach, so bring water.
    I hop back on Stella!, and she protests a little more with each succeeding restart, but I can always coax her to carry me on, and we head south on 89, now over familiar territory on our way to Lee's Ferry Road.
    When you're in Page, you are actually on top of the Vermillion Cliffs, that step in the Grand Staircase. So, coming and going brings you up and down the face of the Vermillion Cliffs. I never tire of seeing them.

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    and looking the other way, the face of the cliffs near the top.
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    Lee's Ferry Road follows the valley of the Colorado. It is the place where John D Lee ran his Colorado river crossing, significant because, until the early 20th century, Lee's ferry was the only place, the only means, to cross the Colorado for 260 miles. It's pretty damn scenic also with, in addition to the cliffs and mountains, very large and oddly shaped boulders festooning the arid landscape along the way to the end of the road.

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    At the end of the road, I came across this group,
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    who were embarcking on a 16 day float down the Colorado. They were loading up their supplies and just about ready to shove off. Most were middle aged and white. Most had done this before. I was informed that this was a "minimum impact" trip, meaning leave only footprints, albeit wet ones. It also meant that theey left nothing behind. NOTHING.
    Oh, yeah, we don't leave anything behind.
    Really?
    Yeah, we even carry out our waste.
    What?
    Yeah, we carry it out also.
    I asked how they pack it away and was informed that plastic bags were the answer. I admit that my mind did a bit of a tumble about this. I hoped that they were not biodegradable plastic bags, and then that, non-biodegradability, kind of flies in the face of (I'm sorry for that image) the No Burd (with a T) Left Behind policy. Just switching one site of pollution for another? Yeah, I thought about all that, but what I said was:
    Eeewwwwwwwww!

    This lady
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    said,
    Oh, it's really not that bad!
    I said 16 days? Not that bad? That would make it onto my short list of bad things!
    and she laughed
    I then added that she must be easy to shop for and both she and her husband laughed, and we parted, each bidding the other well.

    I headed back toward 89a on Lee's ferry Road and decided to take a few pix at the Navajo Bridge over the Colorado.
    As I am parking, I see a woman roaming the parking lot with a laptop. I mistakenly think she is from the visitors' center taking some sort of survey. From a distance she looked to be Native American, but when I got a better look she was Asian, Asian accent. She sees the fleur de lis sticker on my side case, The LSU sticker, puts 2 and 2 together, and arrives at a solid 4. She starts quizzing me about the recovery of New Orleans, the corruption of city government, the state of the levees, the displaced people, what is the population now, and all with a big smile on her face. She knew so much about the underbelly of the city, I asked if she had studied it...evasive answer, with another question. I try to quiz her...Where are you from?
    Grinning, I am here.
    Ok, where is your residence?
    Here
    You don't live at the visitors center.
    No, I live in my car, and she gestures over to the cars in the rest of the lot.
    Why are you asking me all these questions, and as she did she in entering my answers, I think, into her MacbookPro. I am thinking that she is going to hit me for some money, now, and beginning to think I have found a real crazy, or not? It did cross my mind that she was only crossing the country, finding adventure and logging it into her MacBookPro. Everything I asked she turned around into a question for me, we covered a lot of territory, from the state of the city, to making money, she needed it and I suggested a life of crime, to which she added that she could not get caught, and I suggested becoming a member of organized crime. It had somrhow come out that I was Italian and she suggested that I could get her in. I asked her name. Her response?
    What is your name ?
    ready for this I answered John, Now what is your name?
    She opened a bit, just a little crack and said Soon, pronounce like Sun,
    Like the star?
    Yes,
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    I want to take your picture, I said.
    I want to take YOUR picture! she said
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    This "conversation" went on for easily 20 minutes, but I started to drift over to the bridge and she began to follow me. She wanted my real name and my email address.
    I was not about to give her my name, other than John, but I did give her my email address and as she entered it
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    she wanted to know why it wasn't my "name@gamil.com?"
    And for a very brief time I held the information strings...
    Because it's not that,
    But why?
    Because it's not
    And then I added look it up, see what it means.
    My everyday email is scylla@ whatever . com and I was a bit surprised she didn't recognize "scylla." Again I told her to look it up, and as she entered it, she labeled me in her MacbookPro as
    "BMW Guy."
    Aside--from Wiki: In Greek mythology, Scylla (play /ˈsɪlə/ SIL-ə; Greek: Σκύλλα, Skylla)[1] was a monster that lived on one side of a narrow channel of water, opposite its counterpart Charybdis. The two sides of the strait were within an arrow's range of each other—so close that sailors attempting to avoid Charybdis would pass too close to Scylla and vice versa

    Scylla was a horrible sea monster with four eyes, six long necks equipped with grisly heads, each of which contained three rows of sharp teeth. Her body consisted of twelve tentacle-like legs and a cat's tail and with four to six dog-heads ringing her waist. She was one of the children of Phorcys and Ceto. Some sources, including Stesichorus, cite her parents as Triton and Lamia.

    Traditionally the strait has been associated with the Strait of Messina between Italy and Sicily, but more recently this theory has been challenged, and the alternative location of Cape Skilla in northwest Greece


    Looking back at the encounter with Soon, and no followup email has surfaced, I am a little puzzled by her. She was obviously well educated, aware, but was she crazy, schizophrenic, or just really talkative? Don't know. But I suppose I'll possibly find out one day when I appear in her round the world adventure memoir and I am BMW Guy.
    Time will tell as it does in this time-rich land.

    Oh yeah...the Navajo Bridge...
    where sanity reigns
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    The most profound graffiti I have ever encountered...ever.
    There is a Joan Baez song, Diamonds and Rust
    But Rust equated with Eros is something else, beyond, parched, lifeless, long since dead. The roadkill of memory, desiccated, dusty, ready to cease existence with a less than stiff breeze.
    Rust-Eros 412
    How depressing is that?
    Do I want to end it all here? On the Navajo Bridge, on 89a? It's a far drop, instant, no pain ,a thrill til the end and the emerald beyond.
    Jolted back!
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    Maybe a day at a time, crawl then walk, baby steps, Blue skies ahead? and then...
    HAYDUKE LIVES!
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    There is another day, another road to travel, another crazy, another
    another
    another
    Days Inn or Super 8 or, well, let's just leave it at that, no wait...Comfort Inn.
    And on that night, my last in Page, I dream of Fern and her Ho-Made Pies, but cannot (yet) bring meaning to that dream...
    #17
  18. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    Page is in the area of Antelope Canyon.

    Antelope Canyon is a "slot" canyon of Navajo Sandstone, on Navajo land and can only be accessed by Navajo guides. It is universally thought to be one of the prettiest photogenic spots on the planet, yet is infuriatingly crowded most times and attended by guides that are often more interested in the tunes on their iPods than taking visitors to this sacred spot. TripAdvisor has reports of guides getting downright surly with guests. I do not know if the guest deserved surly or not, but the point is that, though it is often photographed by professionals and is admittedly gorgeous, sometimes you "just can't get there from here."

    What's a tourist with a big-ass camera to do?

    This
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    Great outfit to deal with.
    What they offer is small group travel to other slot canyons. In my case I was one of three people. And one of the other two was a very professional photog.
    They have regular tours and what they call "photographic tours" that are dedicated to photographers who want to take more time and with no chance of someone being in their shot, unless desired.
    Our tour was going to a place called "Secret Canyon" and it is hard to believe that Antelope could possibly be prettier. And our guide told us he thought this one was prettier.
    The tour was three hours long--a 900 foot long canyon; so we had lots of time to take pictures. I had a monopod and used a 16-35 zoom with VR2 (Nikon). Our guide, Brian, told us how to change our white balance for best rendition.
    Everything about this organization and our guide was top notch and recommend them without reservation. To be clear, "reservations" are needed.

    Secret Canyon is reached by Hummer. Only by Hummer. Lots of sand to wade through as well as some 45degree ascents/descents. It was a very cool ride. Takes about 30 minutes to get there on the "Manson Ranch." (Another Manson).

    Once there though it is one whispered OH WOW after another, one picture after another. It is not something to wax poetic after, or to get spiritual during, or to be anything but a kid in a photographic candy store, eye candy all around.
    Maybe it is spiritual in a way, many times it was just silent, me and my guardian angel and she enjoyed it too, sure...I was paying, but what a view.

    So, with a picture being worth a thousand words and in homage to my second grade teacher...This is what I did on my summer vacation, Mrs Brocato.

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    the entrance. This is the wife of the prof photog with her point and shoot...Jean-Louis and Cynthis were very nice and very knowledgeable.
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    And we overstayed by about 20 minutes. Secret Canyon was an amazing place and is an otherworldly destination. To do it with a small group people, essentially by myself, was one of the highlights of this trip. It's one of those places where words just fail, or at best are inadequate.
    But it was time to hit the road, and I would travel again on US 89
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    to my next stop, my date wit Fern and Sunshine and Zion
    #18
  19. Ivyleague

    Ivyleague Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    186
    Location:
    Dizzyland
    Great! Thanks a lot - I've been to many of those places and went back and looked at my pictures. Now I guess I'll just throw away my camera:clap
    #19
  20. JayElDee

    JayElDee not saying what I mean

    Joined:
    May 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    645
    Location:
    The City that Care Forgot
    After Secret Canyon and Vermillion Cliffs, I had met the goal of this trip. I knew I wanted to get that far, I thought that anything farther would be lagnaippe.
    When people ask where are you going, there is an answer that is emitted from your mouth, that is one thing, but there is fluid turbulence that ebbs and flows in your brain.
    All the what ifs and buts and hopefullys race around competing for conscious thought, though they never make the cut to be spoken when having a coffee pot conversation with those who think you're crazy for thinking about such a trip, much less actually doing it. And there is the adrenalin laced trepidation, the jitter, that arises as departure day approaches, reaching a max in the 24-12 hours before you pull out.
    Not saying anything new to those who've done anything similar to this. Hell, it is crazy, it is dangerous, but you pays your money and you takes your chances; and you've come to the conclusion that the risks are worth the rewards. It comes to a point where you just do it.

    Zion was that for me, well, sort of. When asked I said I was heading for the Vermillion Cliffs and of the people I told, only one knew what I was talking of, and I would follow up with, "and Zion if I make it that far." These trips do not have a check list, you do what you can, and realize that there will be the unexpected. That's part of the adventure, part of the risk, and considering what you're doing in the first place riding a motorcycle to areas that are real dark on nighttime photos from space,
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    well, that's the deal. So, deal.

    So, after I said, "Vermillion Cliffs," I always added, "and Zion if I make it that far." And I did make it that far, in fact beyond that. I could've done Las Vegas, NV, if I wanted. I didn't.
    So, I stop in Mt Carmel Jt, Utah as my base for the next three nights and hunker down at the Best Western East Zion Thunderbird Lodge. A great place. Dating from the 40's it was put together by Jack and Fern Morrison.
    from http://www.zionnational-park.com/hist.htm

    So, the motel itself looks not to be out of the 40s or 50s, but more from the early 60, until you walk into the attached restaurant where a larger than life Fern greets you

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    holding one of her "Ho-Made Pies," cherry, I think.
    Jack Morrison was a bit of the artiste and did this rendition of of the love of his life, Fern. Fern was a babe, you think?

    I asked what the story was, and a waitress told me that Fern's Jack did this stand-up Fern, and would use it on the sign for their motel. He originally wanted to say "Home-Made Pies," but when doing the oevre realized he had run short of horizontal space and shortened "Home" to "Ho," the term not yet achieving its full potential as a sexist slur.
    However, the play on words, pitting 40s kitsch up against urban decay was too much to ignore and the logo was rolled back out after some years in storage.
    I met a couple of women eye-balling fern and I told them the story of Fern and her Ho-Made pies. What they didn't say was "This guy is strange," (but I saw all over their faces they thought this while I just thought I was performing a public service for a couple of 50-ish BMI north of 32, aesthetically-challenged, ambiguous gender Identification females of the same, or similar, species) and what they did say was, "she has good legs." Yes she does.

    Later, I noticed something, though. Jack may have been real good with all those female body parts, Fern looked good, but there was something seriously adrift in his rendition of her left hand. In researching Fern's life I found no evidence of any traumatic mishap, or reconstructive surgical misadventure, still...

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    I sat down for a late afternoon lunch and ordered the greasiest, fattiest thing on the menu The chili/cheeseburger, with fries, and a cup of coffee. A very perky young girl, easily described as "cute as a button," is my server.
    She called me "Hon" and "Honey," and I really liked it. I was definitely old enough to be her father at least, or more likely her leering uncle on her mother's side that sometimes attends family functions and is tsk'd tsk'd by every other member of the family, and she kept my coffee filled.
    I look at her nametag. "Sunshine."
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    This is not a particularly good shot of her. Her eyes are partially closed giving her a bit of a "Deliverance" look. Pert and perky and talkative were the operative words. I asked about her name, it sounded like her parents were refugees from the 60s. She was sweet and very nice. We talked about her family, her husband her children, about how Hurricane, Utah is mispronounced there: HerKane, vs HurrAcane, and New Orleans. People from New Orleans always work that into the conversation.

    So, This place at Mt Carmel Jct Utah, founded by Fern and Jack, Home of Ho-Made Pies,
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    and staffed by the likes of Sunshine is a keeper.
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    No, thank you!

    But I was here for Zion, so on Day One, ie the next morning, I head that way.

    Zion was just as beautiful as anyone would think it would be. To get around you park where you can, there are lots, and then take a shuttle to the various spots. It's a good system and on this warm day in early May, I would just as soon let someone else do the driving while was free to gawk at the wonders.

    Zion is so gorgeous that it becomes almost ho-hum??? Not really, but the surplus of majesty lessens the wonder of it all. It's sort of like being in the Loire Valley of France and getting "Chateau'd out."
    It's one pretty awesome view after another. Bryce was stranger geology and had magic with it. And I think that for me, that made Bryce hold my interest more. To be sure I am being way too critical, so let me show the pix.

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    I'm going to really exaggerate here. Zion is reminiscent of the scene in the original version of the movie Bedazzled, the one with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, when Cook, as the devil, explains why he was so ready to rebel against heaven's claim to paradise.

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    There are a couple of roads that skirt the boundaries of the park and are off the beaten path to view it. One is East Kolob Canyon Road and the other is Kolob Reservoir Road. Both are very worthwhile and after the inundation of one postcard view after another, offer a welcome contrast. Still beautiful, but by far a more remote feel. And nice roads to boot.

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    The above photo...I wanted to walk to the edge and look into the Valley, but as things in the west go, it was farther away than it would appear and as I was walking to it, about 200 yards from Stella! I was reminded that I was pushing the edge of any perceived safety zone. These parts, I think of a mule deer, were about 15 yards apart, and there were no other parts to be seen, ok, Mr Bear, or whatever, your point is made...got a couple of shots and returned to my ride.

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    The road I planned to take back to Sunshine and Fern was closed due to a landslide so I had to detour over Brian's Head and nearly 11,000 feet. Damn it was cold, those never freezing. There were fields of snow and I was the only one up there for miles. I had on every layer I could and I could feel hypothermia trying to take hold, as the sun went down and I rode through ever lengthening shadows. I felt noticeably warmer when I made it past the pass, above the tree line and began to descend. I made it back to the Thunderbird and the sun was still up, warmed up with a bit of Balvennie and made it to the restaurant for comfort food and hot coffee.

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    Stella!'s whirring at start is getting more frequent, more worrisome, and I have to start thinking about the way back home, but there is one more day at Fern's

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    One more day in Mt Carmel Jct and then time to head back. I took a joyride. down through Kanab and then west.

    Kanab looked like a neat little town, mostly given to outfitting outdoor adventures, but also a little artsy. It looked straight out of the fifties.

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    South of town, in Fredonia, Az., a short distance away, AZ 389 splits from 89A to the right. If you have the chance, take it. This was a cool road to ride, mostly because of the scenery, but it personified out west isolation. This road above all others on this trip was the surprise road. It heads in the direction of St George, Utah.

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    At breakfast that morning, I was scoping out where I'd go on this last day before starting the long ride home. I saw on the map "site of Mountain Meadows Massacre," and I started to do a little google and wiki research.
    What I found was that a group of settlers from Harrison, Arkansas, led by a man from Jasper, Arkansas, were emigrating toward California in 1857. Many had gone before and this group was later known as the Baker-Fancher Party. The group was entirely families, many with small children. They had spent some time in Salt Lake City before continuing southward. The Mormons had wound their way to Utah after much persecution in the midwest and were now situated in Utah, full of paranoia about outsiders, possibly because of their experiences with their own persecution. These Arkansans did not make the Mormons feel particularly warm and fuzzy toward them, but probably through no fault of their own on the part of the Arkansans. They were just passing through hoping to find a better life in Cali.
    Neurotic paranoia can be a very dangerous thing and it seemed to run rampant among a certain group of Mormons, who were such xenophobes that the ultimate solution to this band of Arkansans seemd like a good idea.

    The Arkansans made their way south and were following a mountain valley when they stopped to prepare for crossing the Mojave Desert. While in preparations for the crossing, they were set upon by a militia and a group of Paiute Indians. The plan was to make it look like it was the Indians' doing. The Mormon militiamen went so far as to wear makeup to appear Native American. The siege lasted for days, and it was going nowhere, a stalemate of sorts. Their makeup was starting to wear off and the militiamen feared that they were recognized as white, thus blowing their alibi. The militiamen decided that the party need be "annihilated."
    A white flag was brought out and one of the militia walked into the camp convincing the settlers that if they would only lay down their arms and walk out of their fortifications, they would be free. The settlers agreed.

    They were marched about a mile away to a point and then slaughtered, men, women, children.
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    It is a moving and somber place in a similar way as Little BigHorn is. You can see that there were many many teenagers and young children killed cold-bloodedly. It is impossible to understand under any circumstance, for whatever "cause," how this could be.

    The Mormon church has really attempted to distance themselves from this murderous act, and has constructed a memorial. After the massacre the remains were left out and wolves ate the flesh. Later, much later, the disjointed bones of the victims and hair from the women and girls were interred and some were brought back to Arkansas, though this area remains hallowed ground as many human remains are still there.

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    That evening Back at the Thunderbird Motel, it was the night of the Supermoon. I caught it coming over a nearby ridge.

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    The next day I had to start my way home. Getting Stella! started was not a problem first thing of the day, but later on it was a dicey maneuver. I decided to stop on the way back at Sandia BMW in Alburquerque and a shout goes out to them for looking at my bike so quickly. They confirmed that I needed a new starter and also that its lubrication was fine. I guessed I had to start her about 15 more times or so in the next couple of days, and decided to chance it and get going, planning to change out my starter when I got home. I did that for $191, vs prob close to $400 at the dealer. She got me home though.

    ON the way out of New Mexico I took one last picture of a typical east New Mexico scene.

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    After that it was blasting down the highway, making miles, stopping for gas and not much else.

    Total mileage for the trip was 4741 and as the days rolled by it was one of those trips that grew as time elapsed. That's a beautiful part of the country and I would not hesitate to return.
    Thanks for riding along.

    John
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