Have you ever explored an old dusty road just to see where it went? What if that old dusty road went clear across the country, from Tennessee to the Pacific Ocean? That’s the greatest luxury of this trail, an unending dirt road to nowhere.
Last night we slept on the mighty Colorado River. This morning we had breakfast in poor little Moab, loved to death and only a ghost of its old self. There are so many new buildings I have trouble finding my way. But the state liquor store is right there where I left it and so is City Market and so is Gear heads.
We say goodbye to Jason. We had three great days of riding together. He wanted to test the off road riding abilities of the Tiger and his own skills. We had ridden some tough trails, especially up on the Uncompahgre Plateau outside of Telluride, where the trail turned faint and rocky. It was fun to be a three pack bike gang. Jason even loaded our TAT maps into his GPS and lead for a while.
Samantha and I ride out towards Gemini Bridges again. Once off the highway the trail skirts its way up the side of a mesa and onto a plateau. We clear the rocky sections and the steep, smooth rocks that turned us away yesterday evening. We climb up the mesa and discover a sandy meadow with huge and bizarre shaped rock features all around us. The road is smooth, with banked turns. We whoop it up to the end of the canyon where the road turns steeply up hill. The climb is brief, a little loose but not too technical. Once on top we catch views of the red rock canyons all around us. The riding turns less technical and we blast across the desert. I can’t help feeling like Green River is around every turn.
After a straightaway we pull up to a highway. We had thought we were deep into the beyond and then suddenly cars and pavement, our worldview shattered. But soon we are deep into the desert again, alone. We ride around bizarre mounds of earth or rock,it’s difficult to tell. The landscape changes. The earth turns white and the red rocks of canyonlands turn to mounds of earth that look like they might dissolve in a heavy rain. We dip under telephone lines on the winding and rolling road and I head off cross country on the white hard pack. My tire doesn’t leave a mark across the desert basin and after dodging creosote bushes I eventually bound back onto the trail, just ahead of Samantha. Now the road is flat and straight forever. Samantha looks so cute sitting atop her T Dub, pink ponytails in the wind. I ride one handed and unclip the phone off my bars for a video. It captures the monotony of these lonesome roads through the desert but also the roaring wind and our motors.
Eventually we hook up with an old abandoned service road to 70. It’s pot holed and weedy. I remember the girl in Tulsa who said of our adventure, “That’s so Mad Max.” and for the first time I get it. I feel like we are free to do anything on this road. Fast, slow, right lane, left lane. It’s a road you could take a nap on or film a movie. A football field away roars highway 70, guaranteeing no one will use this forgotten strip of tarmac.It seems there’s so much opportunity on this empty road but I don’t know what do with it. A drag race seems silly on the little dirt bikes. I have no idea how fast my WR will go, probably not very but still too fast for its own good.
We’ve seen a lot of things on this trip that remind me of the end of civilization. This road is yet another post apocalyptic vision on the forgotten back roads of America. What makes it even more amazing is that you can detour anywhere you want off into the mud pack hills. An alien landscape that welcomes the rider in every direction. Passing through places like this trapped in a car trapped on the highway evokes daydreams of exploration. Now we are in it, free to explore.
Green River on a late summer afternoon. We pass 1950’s era abandoned cafes and roadside eateries. One cafe has a star burst atop it’s sign, long tendrils that end in little bulbs. The main street has sad and romantic abandoned buildings but also a new espresso cafe and Ray’s Tavern, a popular hamburger joint. It’s a familiar theme for the forgotten America we’re exploring. It seems to be in some kind of flux between abandoned and reborn.
We park the bikes right out front and have burgers and cold beers at the counter. Ray’s, it turns out, has a nice selection of draft beers. Lonesome truckers and family’s come in while the guys behind the counter chat us up and chef up burgers simultaneously.
We retire to the State Park right in town. It’s a far cry from the spectacular camping we’ve been doing. A grassy lawn with a few trees between sites offers no privacy. The other campers stare at us as we set up camp from the back of our bikes. A man on a golf cart patrols in circles while rented RV’s roll in. A group of Europeans get drunk off white wine which they have to hide from the circling golf cart. I hate it here. It feels restrictive and crowded. I have lost some of my tolerance for civilized society. Researchers have discovered that the common pig, in only a few generations, will revert back to a wild boar, with tusks and bristles of hair on its back. I feel like the boar. We decide not to pay. Not because of the $16.00 price tag but just to rebel a little against this orderly place. It offends our newfound sensibilities. Our taste for natural chaos. The golf cart circles us like a shark. Finally I go to bed. Its still light out when I hear him walk by the tent. Samantha gives him the envelope but in one final act of rebellion short changes a dollar. I hear him come back for the dollar just before I fall asleep.