Richfield to Kanosh: A cold wind coming.
A cold wind and darkness coming and it’s lonley, oh so lonely. What are we doing out here? Thousands of miles from anywhere and anyone we know. Metal signs squeak on a post. “ice” it says. The storm approaches. Its made more sullen by fall leaves blowing and the dust and the soon darkness. It’s a big, open land, makes an easterner uneasy. Then the rain falls.
The campground is abandoned and dark under big old maples and oaks. The day turned gloomy somewhere outside of Richfield. We got a late start. The motel was too comfortable and then we stopped by a motorcycle dealer. They put a new front tire on Samantha’s TW and then it was 2:00 pm.
We climbed up into the Fish Creek National Forest. First red dirt, sunshine, juniper and sage. Then higher into oak, maple and aspen. The trees were turning, red for the maples, yellow for aspen. The trail was loose and rocky and over trafficked. It’s the Pauit Trail and the ATV’s have had their way with her, turning her track to dust and ruts. We slide down the hills and spin up them. We are both tired and not all there. We lack the intensity the trail demands. So we just lope along, following our instinct. Some days you wake up slow, maybe your gut has a little trepidation in it. Those days we ride slow.
Then it gets darker, cold and drips on us. We finally descend to the campground. We’ve only ridden 35 miles but it’s late. The first camp site has an old car hood in it, graffitied and riddled with bullet holes. There’s a sign warning that this is bear country.
What happened up on this mountain? It’s a foreboding, brooding, place. Perhaps it’s the weather. Interesting what a dark sky and a sudden cold wind can do to a place. Or maybe it’s the land, beat down by cattle. Mud watering holes ringed by cow shit. But it ain’t them’s the matter, it’s the men that put ’em here. To clomp and eat and shit their way through the gentle forest to feed all the people in this world, eating cheeseburgers. We are a voracious species of meat eaters. It’s cows and chickens and pigs we like. Eat ’em right up like giants in a children’s story.
We hide from the rain in the entryway to the campground bathroom. It smells like air freshener, apple and spice. The rain lets up and we race the five miles to Kanosh. Downhill on a good dirt road. Huge, black clouds loom over us. A little white haired lady is taking her plants inside. She watches us ride by. I wish she was our grandmother, welcome us in out of the coming storm. I feel stricken. Oh the lonliness.
Kanosh is a five block town in a huge empty valley at the base of the mountains. Bob comes out of the Sinclair station, “So you gonna get gas or what?” we are happy to see him. “I guess I’m gonna tell you should get a room, storms coming. I’m the motel guy too” and just like that we’re ok again. Bob will put us up for the night in the little motel next door. We’ll be warm and dry.
The gas station smells like they did when I was a kid, of earth and oil, coffee and tires. It reminds me of Pine Island New York in 1977 and you can’t get that at a Quikie Mart. Maybe part of the American Dream is a childhood dream. It’s the memories of a simpler time. And one of the wonders of this trip is that that place still exists. Places like Bob’s Station here in Kanosh Utah, or the old Movie Theatre in Alva, Oklahoma, or the Drive In ice cream stand in Salina, Utah.
We chat with Bob and watch the storm roll in. He tells us its 20 miles back to Richfield. “Not the way you come, no, packhorse, straight overland.” And he points up into the mountains with his whole hand.
He talks of nearby towns and highway names. For some reason I think of the boyhood roads we made with our hands for our match box cars. “Well your braver than I am,” Bob says, “don’t you miss home?” we hesitate, not really sure where home is anymore.
Raining hard now I ride the bikes over, one at a time. I can see Samantha, warm and dry through the window, as I park the motorcycles. This will be our home, at least for tonight.