30 June 2009

Utah From The Rear - 268 miles

It was our turn to be led today and Bob and Kerry were our fearless leaders. We rode down the back and had a nice relaxing day.

First of all was a ride through Capitol Reef National Park towards Hanksville. The road runs the canyon bed and it was cool and comfortable. Then we turned south and headed into the magnificent Glen Canyon with its high red sandstone walls towering over us.
This canyon spills out on to the Colorado River at the far north end of Lake Powell and what a spectacular area that is. Not only the natural vistas, but the engineering feats of carving out the roads and building the bridges were also amazing.

After that it was follow a ridge across to the Natural Bridges National Monument. This is a park which contains a very winding river that has carved it's way not only down, but actually through some of the sandstone. Three large bridges are there for easy viewing and we are told there are many more in the park.

After this visit, we turned towards Blandings and new roads for Charleen and me. There were still great things to see. Another engineering feat where they have cut clean through a rock escarpment. Then a nice hamburger lunch in Blandings, followed by a rainstorm. We were hiding under the service station awning but I could see clear blue sky not far away and decided to forgo the wets for the three minutes. By the time we all got going the rain was pretty much fizzled out and we rode in to hot weather again. I was interested to see how long the others, in wets, would go before the sweltering got too much. They went surprisingly far. Where we stopped was beside Wilson's Arch and while they disrobed I went for a short walk up to the floor of the archway. Short but steep. Still at high altitude I had trouble breathing and had to make several stops, but made it eventually. From up there I could see........ well why should I tell?

I had forgotten to take up a camera so when I got back, a tourist who had joined us offered me a beer to return and take some photos for him. I'll do many things for a beer, but dying isn't one of them. I declined.

After that it wasa short run into Moab where we collapsed in to our rooms and turned the coolers on full. When it cooled down outside a bit, we went for a nice walk downtown for a meal. Nice pasta in an Italian restaurant. Then a browse through some shops on our way back.

Here's piccies:-

An excellent view of Capitol Reef. Click the image to embiggen.

Surreal structures abound

Another one you can embiggen by clicking

Kerry takes in the scenery.

Crossing the Colorado River

They call it Cheesebox Butte. I had another name.
Sometimes it takes a bit to see the bridge structure

Same with this one

Where the road cuts through the escarpment

It is deep

The storm was chasing us

Thought it was a haystack at first

Wilson's Arch

Click to see where I really am.

29 June 2009

Canyons R Utah - 215 miles

Yep - more of em today.

We started out refuelling at a servo where no one was working. Novel idea this - set up a refuelling servo with self-serve pumps and there is no need to even have an attendant. Almost.

I finished and pressed the button for a receipt, which usually just prints out at the pump, but this time I got the message "See attendant for receipt". Great.

Ah well. Straight out on to the freeway heading north on a fine and sunny morning and we sped along for 35 miles. 'Nuff of that. We turned off onto a cross road and headed up into the hills. It immediately got very cold, dropping down into the mid 40's F. And we were - as usual - dressed for warm.
So we pulled up and put on some more stuff and were away again. At Panguitch they were having a ballooning day and that made for some pretty pictures. Then, along a bit, Charleen heard a hissing noise. A little worried about our rear tyre, we immediately stopped and switched off and listened. Turned out it was crickets, at just the right frequency for Charleen's ears. False alarm, thank goodness.

Then our first Canyon for the day, Red Canyon. We drive slowly through it, occasionally photographing each other going through the arches. Then it was turn off past Ruby's Inn and head up to Bryce Canyon. What a spectacular spot this is. One could take endless photos. We spent an hour or so, suffering the usual high altitude breathlessness.

Back to Ruby's and we went in for coffee and a good browse. It is mostly browsing as there is absolutely no room for souvenirs on the bikes. Luckily, Charleen can buy some very small additions for her Italian charm bracelet.

Off again, with a few stops for scenery and we headed for Escalante and its magnificently huge canyon. It covers many square miles, bordering the Escalante River. We rode right through it.
Then it was lunch at Burr Trail Cafe - yes John, I know - then we had just enough fuel to get to Torrey. So it was a fairly early day. But the view from the rear full-length windows is of a big red - you guessed it - Canyon.

Across the road is a nice little cafe so we had tea there - good chilli - and even a game of horseshoes.

Tomorrow, Bob and Kerry lead the way. Should be fun.


Early morning, there was a lot of irrigation going on. Mostly on lucerne.


at Panguitch

Red Canyon "statues"

Bob films at Bryce

The pose shot below Bryce

Surveying the road from the lip of Escalante Canyon

It seemingly goes on forever

A couple of nice Victorys

Ah - here's one of Bryce Canyon. We've got plenty more, but you'll have to wait.

28 June 2009

Canyons, Precipices and Lost Coffee Shops - 201 miles

With an early start, we were sure to have an easy day - after all, there were only 180 miles to do, with a little sight-seeing on the way.

Cedar Breaks is quite close to Cedar City and we soon left the suburbs and climbed up to a record - for me - 10350ft above sea level. Hard to breathe up there. The view of Cedar Breaks was terrific. We spent quite some time there.

Then it was on to a loop road I had seen on Google Earth. After one wrong turn which took us to a ski-town which had no working coffee shop, we turned and got back on the right road, only to find the return section of the loop was dirt. No thanks. So still coffeeless, we retraced our path by Cedar Breaks and headed further along.

We eventually came to a town which had a cafe nestled amongst the quad bikes. It was late enough to make it a brunch stop so we had bowls of chili, soups and chef salads. Someone finished off with apple pie and ice cream.
This whole area is riddled with trails for quad riders to follow so the little town of Duck Creek Village caters for them quite well.

The road through is also a popular one for "normal" bike riders and so we saw many of them on this weekend day. Lots of waving.

Then it was down the road to Zion National Park. We were entering from the eastern side and so did not have the long lines to get in. But we did have a little laugh at the bloke with his wife on separate bikes trying to convince the ranger that they were entitled to a single vehicle entry fee.
Two people with four wheels = one vehicle doesn't it? Not likely.

Just before the long tunnel there is a walk that took us out to an overlook with a magnificent view. Probably the best panorama in the park as most of the rest is down in the canyons. It was quite hot, but we took it easy and had a nice time. Kerry has a problem with heights so declined after the first narrow ledge without handrails. Fair enough.

Back to the bikes and down through the long tunnel and switchback roads to the canyon floor. This is where all the 'regular' people go and on summer holiday time and a weekend it sure was packed. The car park was full - only room for bikes.

Charleen and I had done it all before so left the others there to take in the sights up the canyon floor on a bus ride. We made our way around to the western side of the park - via the main roads - and went in to Kolob Canyon. We had done this before as well, but in the morning. Kolob is best viewed in the afternoon when the sunlight hits the cliffs and we weren't disappointed.

It is a beautiful 3 mile run in to the lookout and picturesque all the way. Hardly a soul there either. We took some photos and then Charleen decided it would be a good place to have her first ride of BRed back out of the park. Nice quiet road.
So she backed it out, I climbed on the back and had a nice relaxing chauffer-ridden ride out of the park. We'll do it some more.

Back in Cedar City we took the time to give BRed a good bath in a very cool DIY car wash. Very cool because the hose had a leak high up and sprayed us as much as the bike. So now all three of us are washed, waxed and bug free. BRed is still the shiniest of the three though.

Then it was a few refreshing beers and a meal in the restaurant next door - a nice buffet for under $11.00 each.

Another great day.

Here's the pics to prove it.

View from the Ranger's office window at Cedar Breaks

I've reached new heights - and can hardly stand up.
Cedar Breaks

Almost too cute.

Tunnel entrance in Zion - not the long tunnel

Charleen stands near the edge - couldn't do this previously.

Overlooking the switchback road
Kolob Canyon panorama. Click the picture for a full sized version

27 June 2009

Desert Crossings R Us - 445 miles

Today we were to travel over roads we have done before. In 2007 we travelled this way with John and Kaz.
This time we left Lee Vining bright and early at 7am. We headed out across the undulating Hwy120, enjoying the corners and the ups and downs. Then it was turn left on to US6 and to our first state border. Into Nevada and the roads straightened out and ran in great swoops from mountain range to range.
Think about crossing the Hay Plains, but with something on the horizon to look at - and much better roads. It is amazing that these roads across barren deserts are so smooth and well made.

We refuelled at Tonopah and called in to the Ramada Casino for a coffee. Which turned into a second breakfast.

Leaving here I made my first lose for the day. I knew the turnoff was somewhere to the east of town but I thought it was after the casino - it was before. Something I didn't discover until we were several miles down the road. Back to town and a right turn and we were on the right track again.

We stopped at the Extra terrestrial Hwy sign and our old sticker was still there. So we added another larger one so people could see it better. Then it was in to the tiny town of Rachel for an ice cold lemonade. Happily this time the GPS didn't play up as we went close to Area 51. I guess they have shut down the jamming signal huh?

Only another 80 miles or so and we were at Caliente for a refuel after 202 miles with no servos. With the trailer on I can get a little more than 230 so we were fine. Turned out I used about half a gallon more than the others without a trailer. So we had a fix for that.

Just before Cedar City lives Bruce, an old schoolfriend of Jack who had offered to look after the trailer for a few weeks until we return this way. We have loaded everything we need into the bike and will not be camping while we are travelling on the AWRA leg of our journey. So no need to tow the trailer and use an extra third to half a gallon each fillup.

We also turned up 7777 miles today. The rear tyre is beginning to look a little second hand. Front is fine. We still have a few miles to do before getting a new set put on. I ordered a set yesterday and they are being delivered to Albuquerque. Lets hope we make it.

We found our digs in Cedar City fine, but ended up going around in circles looking for a Wal-Mart so Bob could get his specs fixed and find some medication for Kerry. We also needed some supplies for wash day tomorrow. Then it was a meal and return to the motel for some much needed rest after a very long day.

Here's the piccies:- There'll be a few memories for John and Kaz amongst these.

Hwy120 winds through the trees
US6 crosses the desert. We had clear skies and interesting horizons

Copper statues in Tonopah.

Commemorating past glories

John and Kaz will recognize this table. Didn't ask for it, but the waiter les us right to it. Spooky.

Side by siding on the ET Hwy
Now there are two Aussie flags amongst all the other stickers
This Freddo is starting to have a life of its own.

Clouds build up during the afternoon
and once again we dodged them to arrive in Cedar City nice and dry.

26 June 2009

Waiting in Yosemite - 222 miles

We had an early start today. Looked out the window and the others were already in the carpark tending to the bikes.
A quick breakfast and we were all loaded and on our way at 6:40am. A good thing too considering the rest of the day.
We powered up some more freeway and then followed the road to Oakhurst. We refueled here, enough for the rest of the day. Then it was a quick blast up some quite twisty roads to Yosemite National Park and first stop was the enchanting Mariposa Grove of giant Sequoia trees. These monster pines are spaced throughout a pine forest like giant sentinels. Certainly magnificent trees. Just as enchanting are the squirrels and chickorees that dart here and there on the forest floor.

Back on the road and we found some coffee, then headed for Glacier Point, but came to a boring halt. They were doing roadwork and only taking groups of cars through every thirty minutes. We had to wait about 25 minutes to get through.

Glacier Point is an amazing place and the views were awesome as usual. The Half Dome, the waterfalls, the huge glacial valley. Always wonderful to see.

Then it was down to the Yosemite Village, three thousand feet below. But first we had to endure another 20 minute wait at the roadworks and a slow crawl through the six miles of roadworks. Needless to say lunch was late so we just grabbed sandwiches and drinks from the supermarket, but it was a little disappointing.

Heading out of the village, taking photos all the way, we soon joined Hwy 120 for the ride over the top of Yosemite. After a lovely fine day, some clouds rolled in, it got colder and began to rain. Rain - an old friend we haven't seen for a few days. But it turned out to be just a few spots on the windscreen so we kept going up to the highest point of our trip so far, 9951ft. Then it was doen the scary Tioga pass and in to Lee Vining just in time to retain our room bookings.

Settled in, we went for drinks at Bob and Kerry's "mansion" to wait out a small thunderstorm, then walked down the street where we selected a pizza shop for some quite nice nosh.

All in all a great day, although a litle slow in parts.

But, of course, Charleen took lots of pictures:-

They are just the cutest things

Woodpecker - pecking....wood

Waterfall as seen from Glacier Point

Ahwahnee Hotel in the valley

Surreal positioning
Our new destop photo.

Riding past the Half Dome

Riding in the Valley

Eastern side of Yosemite

Tioga Pass

Looking back up the Pass