We woke up on the edge of a cliff in the middle of nowhere. Yesterday had been a dream of incredible wild lands and rock formations and now we were living in the middle of it.
We made coffee and oatmeal overlooking the canyons. Then we carefully threaded our way back to the motorcycles. We made our path on the rocks so as not to crush the delicate Utah soils.
It takes us a long time to pack up. Our homemade racks are partly to blame. We stuff dry bags and then strap everything on, spare gas tanks, rain gear and random bags of oils and lubes. Then the tool bag and finally nalgene bottles of water. Everything has to be as tight as possible for another day of rock hopping.
The trail is just as technical as the day before but we are a little more used to it. We are low on water and gas which is great for handling the lighter bikes. Our plan is to ride all the way to Salina, Utah today. Yesterday we averaged about 10 mph on the rocky and sandy trail but we have to make it somewhere today for gas and water. The ride starts off with more technical riding. I tumble down a set of rock “stairs” and then fall again and again. it appears today is my day to tip over. I can’t pick the bike up myself so after coming into a steeply banked turn too slow I have to sit and wait for Samantha to notice I’m not there and come rescue me. I try to lever it up with a log but it breaks. I could strip the bags but she’ll be back before then. Finally I hear the T Dub coming back. Once upright again we ride more canyons and some steep, loose descents before the trail flattens out into a sandy wash. It’s very deep and we struggle to keep moving forward. I finally get brave and take the bike up to third gear. It settles down and rides better, but the stakes are higher. We settle into a rhythm I’d deep sand, then gravel, then a turn in the wash ansmd it starts again. We ride the wash for what seems like hours. The landscape is slowly changing from red rock canyons and spires to dirt mound mountains.
We are finally released from the canyon wash and climb up and out onto a great open plain. Far to the North are huge mesas, like battleships sailing across the grasslands. We come across round balls of cooled lava of all different sizes, from house sized monsters to gum balls. They are odd black balls of pumice just sitting out there, placed by some mysterious force.
The road is smooth now and faster. We start to sense civilization, a candy wrapper, graffiti on a rock, the improved road. We come to a crossroads. We shut the motors down to carefully calculate our mileage. We have just enough gas to make it to Salina. We oil Samantha’s chain on the fly because it is squeeking and we’re off again. Over one more rise and there’s highway 70 with all that trafficking and noise and human life. The trail follows a gravel road that parallels the highway. We leave a plume of dust as we ride side by side a chain link fence away from semi’s and hemi’s and SUV’s. The road is a blast to ride, following a little river before ducking under the highway to pop out the other side and climb and descend in great swooping turns. Then it’s a tunnel right through the rock, then another, than 90 degrees and back under the highway again. Salina is close now. Suddenly a quad appears coming the other way. It’s really moving, the dust flying behind and then I get a glimpse of the bearded maniacal driver, a huge pair of flight goggles around his bald head and a little girl between his arms, hair flying and then all is obscured in dust. Out the other side we come up on a cattle drive. We kill the motors and coast up to the sweeper. He and another cowboy stop and we chat for a while. The conversation invariably turns to Samantha and her pink pony tails. Then the herd of cows drops into a meadow and we speed on.
Finally Salina. We stop by a little drive through ice cream shop for malts and burgers and I get us a room over the phone at the Ranch Motel. Fed and lodging secured we relax and take in the scene. It’s small town America on a Saturday evening. The rodeo’s just over and all the cowboys are rolling up for ice cream. Boots, hats and belt buckles, Wrangler Jeans and cowboy shirts. The big diesels gurgle up, towing horses, and the cowboys and cowgirls spill out, numbers still pinned to their backs. On the trucks and trailers are the names of the lonely ranches, perhaps some of the ones we passed, 60 miles from anywhere.
We people watch for a while and then grab a six pack and ride down main street, we turn at the four way and down two blocks to roll up under the breezeway of the motel. We meet My Tai who checks us in, invites us for a fire outback and maybe some pool over at the saloon later. It all sounds good but we are so tired. Days in the desert wrestling motorcycles around will do that. I sit outside our 50’s bungalow and drink a cold beer. It will be another hour before we wander into Mom’s pink countertops and aqua booths for more burgers and beer. We walk the deserted streets back, passed a chained off motel, some boarded up windows and back into our little courtyard. Tonight we sleep in a bed and watch television and take hot, hot showers.