Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Panguitch to Escalante Utah June 24

June 24----47.59 miles in 3:41. I got into the saddle late today, as we packed up the motor home and Pam took me to the entrance to Bryce Canyon, where I had left off  after my ride through the canyon yesterday . After a three mile warmup into the headwind that had been predicted, I proceeded to descend, quickly into the valley that we had been looking out over from the overlooks in the park yesterday. I saw a sign that said 8% grade, and I was off to the races. The steep hill was about two miles long, and if it wasn't for the gusty headwind, I might have  been able to hit 50 mph. I hit 35 without even pedaling. I couldn't have pedaled anyhow with my gearing problem, but I got some insight on that dilemma today before we left. I called Wamsleys Cycles in Morgantown West Virginia, where I bought my bike, and talked to a tech on the phone. We did some trouble shooting, and I think I know what happened. When I had my leg lock cramps in Marble Canyon, and I tipped over on the bike, I bent an aluminum plate that helps hold the derailiere onto the frame of the bike. It's not something I can fix without a special tool that bike shops are supposed to have. Hopefully, I can find one around here somewhere, maybe in Moab, which is still days away. Supposedly I won't have to buy an expensive new derailiere, and since they make a tool to fix it, I'm not the first guy to have this happen. All I've gotta do is find a shop with this magic tool.
     Anyhow, within ten miles, I had descended 1600 feet into the valley, where I stopped in a beautiful little farm town called Tropic, Utah. It was a green oasis in an otherwise mountainous, rocky area. I could look up to my right and see the colorful cliffs of Bryce Canyon Park. This may be the town where a candy bar saved my life. I wasn't even hungry, but I decided to stop at the general store and get a dark chocolate Hershey bar. I was only in there for five minutes, but when I came out, there had been an accident, about a third of a mile down the road, where I would have been riding. A truck had gone off of my side of the road and into a drainage ditch. The fire trucks and cops were just showing up. If I hadn't stopped.....who knows. I think God as watching out for me. I savored the chocolate bar as I rode by and snapped a picture of my unrealized demise.

Truck in the ditch

We think these are pens for the cattle when they are ready to load them into  trucks

     I rode through a few more connected, very small towns in the next five miles, then the ascent began. Gradually at first, but relentlessly,through nondescript scenery with an occasional neat rock formation. Within 15 miles, I had gained back all 1600 ft that I descended into the valley, topped off by a one mile, 8-10% climb, that tested my willpower and leg power. I serpentined up the hill from lane to lane. Fortunately there was very little traffic, because I don't know if I could have powered all the way up without stopping. I did not stop, however, until an overlook at the top, at an area of grey mountains that was known as 'the blues' to the locals, because the sun must give the area a blue hue on a sunny day. Today, however, was as cloudy as I have seen in a long time. Cool, too. As I ascended the hill, God looked out for me again, giving me a nasty, chilly tailwind, to help push me up that hill. From there on, I had a crazy tailwind for the rest of the trip. At the top of the hill, I read a plaque, about this area being the last uncharted area in the continental USA. Until John Wesley Powell mapped it, the same guy who explored the Grand Canyon.
     The next 16 miles to my final destination, I coasted downhill. I don't mean JUST coasted, I mean between 20-30 mph nonstop, with very, very little pedaling. I've never coasted that far or that fast for so long. That wind was rockin, right at my back, and I descended, once again about1600 ft or a little more into the town of Escalante. I don't have any idea why this town would be here, except for the Grand Staircase National Monument, which I had never heard of. It is a huge area, with tons of atv and Jeep trails, and intermittent colorful rocks, slot canyons, spires, and formations that people hike to. 
      With all the potential cool things to be explored, I checked with a local guy, and he gave me an idea for Pam and I to have a Jeep/hiking experience in the evening. We took a road called Hole In The Rock Road, for ten miles of the worst washboard road I have ever been on. It's a wonder bolts weren't falling out of the Jeep. Then we turned on Harris Wash road, which was a narrower dirt, with less washboard, but more big bouncy type obstacles in the road, including deep sandy areas as we crossed the dry wash several times. We finally came to a parking area, which we missed once, and we had to hike a cow path for about a quarter mile into the dry creek bed. The sand in the creek was so deep, it was like walking on the beach. We walked for about a mile, with beautiful red rocks narrowing in on us, until we were in a slot canyon. It was about fifteen ft wide and very high on both sides. It was the kind of place they told you not to be in a storm, because of flash flooding. We took some pictures, found a dead cow who once must have roamed the path we walked on, and headed back out. The roads  didn't get any better on the way out, and if we would have turned left instead of right on Hole In The Rock road, we could have driven 57 miles of progressively worse roads, all the way to Lake Powell and the Colorado River! There is also supposed to be some fantastic hiking and scenery down that way, and I thought about doing it tomorrow, but I don't think we can torture the Jeep anymore.

Cool colors on the mountains

Patches of green in the desert due to irriation

Someone climbed to the very top of the mountain to plant this flag.

And this is the mountain!!!

Grand Staircase National Monument - Escalante

Escalante River

Utah 12, a national scenic byway.  It is beautiful, but narrow.

You see some strange things while on the road......

Just your everyday view!  HaHa!

Gateway to Hole in the Rock

Big sign for a small town!  Population 200!

We live every day under red flag warnings due to the high heat and low humidity.

Our little adventure.... did we mention that we started on this trip at 5pm and it was cloudy?

This was deep sand that we were hiking in - it killed my calves and knees!

Escalante to Boulder, Utah June 25

Boulder, Utah is nothing like Boulder, Colorado, I'll tell you that. A small town of 200, including the ranches outside of town, Scenic Bypass 12 goes from one end to the other in less than a mile. What made it such an appealing place for me, was the fact that there is NO civilization between Escalante and here, and if I didn't stop here, there is no civilization for the next 37 miles until I get to Torrey, Utah.  The distance itself is not a factor, but the mountains and the climbs made the 28 miles that I rode, seem like 128. I had short, steep teasers coming out of Escalante, but ended up pretty high, overlooking the Escalante River Valley, which looks like one giant rock. The valley below me at that overlook was a beautiful brownish white, with a few trees dotting the landscape. There is a reason that this area is the last region of the continental US to be explored and mapped. Rock. All of it. I blew down the 8% grade from the overlook for two miles. I hit 39.8 mph, but every time I started to roll, a sharp curve with no guardrails had me hitting the brakes. If bike brakes could overheat, mine would have. There were hairpin turns, no shoulder, and no guardrails. This will be the most challenging terrain Pam has ever navigated in the RV. I'm glad I'm not driving it!
      Once I got down that hill, there was some reasonable road, until I came to another 8% drop just like the last one. This one took me all the way down to the Escalante River, its beautiful valley filled with cottonwoods and plush greenery, and I gradually went upstream on Utah 12, until the climb out of the valley began in earnest. A guy in Escalante told me I would have a 'pretty good pull' to get out of the valley, but holy crap! I didn't know it until I saw the sign near the top of the hill, but I had two miles of 14% grade that I had just climbed. It was a challenge, but not terrible. There was once again very little traffic so I could serpentine my way up the worst parts, okay, all that I could possibly serpentine up. The advantage of this method is that the hill is easier to climb, but also, as I go side to side, I can look at the scenery on both sides of the road. This includes shear rock face on my right, very close to the road in most areas, and sheer drop off on my left. ( how do you spell shear/sheer in this case? ). I climbed 1100 ft in three and one half miles, shattering anything I had ever done before. To add insult to injury, the 'plateau ' that I was on for the next four miles gained another 300 ft or so. When Pam passed me on this plateau, I was relieved because there was some serious driving to be done, and she did it. All good plateaus have to come to an end, and this one did with an 8% bomber into Boulder. I rode through some farm country, part of the time listening to a guy playing guitar and singing on his porch as I rode by. I had a little climber up into Boulder itself, and I noticed how fried my legs were. Pam and I had agreed to meet in Boulder and discuss whether I wanted to go any further or not, and I decided that I didn't. Here is why. Boulder Mountain, between here and the next civilization, 37 miles away has a steep five mile, yes I said five mile, climb to nearly 10,000 ft. We are at about 6700 here in Boulder, and with 37 miles of 8-10% rollers culminated with this climb of climbs, I decided to save it for fresher legs tomorrow. 
      We found a little campground that barely fit our motor home into it, and hunkered down. It was another challenge for Pam to fit the RV into the space, dodging poles and low trees. There a no spaces anywhere on this stretch for a coach as big as ours, because nobody is crazy enough to drive one on this road. We spent the rest of the day at the Anasazi Museum next door, and walking to the 'grill' that was one mile back down the road for supper.

At the top looking down.  Not many pictures today because we were too busy flying down the mountains!

Great views up here!  Yes, were are going down there!

Don't know if you can appreciate the drop off!  But the bike does!

No comment needed!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

This post is all Pam's.... June 24

June 24, 2013 - I just looked back at my post from June 24, 2012 and decided that I needed to do a post all my own!  It has been a year since I left our home in Houston, PA and started on the "weekend that never ends"!  Last June 24, I was sitting on my porch in Rodanthe, NC, listening to the ocean, waiting for Mike to officially retire and join me.  Most of all, I was thinking about what the future would hold for us.  Would we be able to tolerate each other 24/7?  Would we be able to tolerate living in our rolling tin can?  Would we be able to tolerate wondering around like gypsies?  Well, I can now answer those questions.  First of all, I can't believe it's been a year since I left home!  We did spend 7 days back in Houston, PA just a few weeks ago after my mother-in-law passed away.  It was a very bitter sweet time.  It was wonderful to see our neighbors, our children and grandchildren and my Dad (love you Daddy!), but it didn't really feel like our home anymore!  Our rolling, 42', 4 slide tin can is our home.  We have a shelf with family photos, and a shelf with small treasures collected on our travels (owl feather, rocks, etc.).  We have learned to live in a compact, efficient manner.  I am still travelling with my flowers (after all, it is my home!)  Wandering like gypsies is a very non-stressful way of living.  It maybe more problematic this summer (especially around the 4th) when we just show up at a campground near a National Park with all the tourists, but we will see!

Most of all, we have rediscovered each other.  In our previous lives, we were so busy working, we hardly saw each other.  Now we get to hike, bike, wander, raft, etc. together! Sharing all this cool stuff with the love of my life is the way to go!  Is this a life for everyone?  Probably not.  Is it a life for us?  Most definitely!  As we meet and talk to people, I tell them that I am now attending the University of Retirement!  We have learned SO MUCH about our country in the past year!  Our vocabulary has increased, we have learned so much about the Native Americans, and most of all, we have discovered our country like we never imagined!  I highly recommend coming out west and wandering through our National Parks.  After all, we own them!  They belong to us!

I hope I didn't bore you too much, but I just felt that I needed to say something after a year on the road!

Two days at Bryce Canyon June 22 & 23

Pam and I headed to Bryce, not quite knowing what to expect. The information for this park is hard to come by compared to the Grand Canyon and Zion. We arrived at the park entrance, well sort of...we came to the shuttle buses, but weren't sure where the park was. We showed our National Parks entry card, well sort of...and hopped on a bus. We went to the visitors center, watched a movie, and tried to figure out the maps of trails, overlooks, and bus stops, and weren't really successful, so....we hopped on a bus and went to the first stop, Bryce Overlook. As it turns out, it was really unique, beautiful, and we found out what a hoodoo was. A hoodoo is the unique rock formation, like pillars, that make up the areas topography. Our pictures will hopefully show how different the area is from the other parks we've been to. We found trails, and even though we weren't really prepared for a long hike, down into the hoodoos we went. We did the Peekaboo Loop, and the Navajo trail, which were steep, up and down, and very dusty. We were walking through an inch of fine, dry, powder in some areas, and hard pack clay, either white or red, in others. We ended up walking probably 4+ miles, and came out at a different overlook than we went in. We started getting a feel for the place, and what was available. The shuttle buses don't run the entire length of he park, so we checked out the main areas accessible by shuttle today, and saved the stuff we have to Jeep to for tomorrow. Bryce is not nearly as busy as the previous parks, very nice and beautiful in its own way, but Pam and I agree, it places third out of the three national parks we've seen in this area...but still....really unique and nice.

More tunnels!!  These are short guys in Bryce Canyons

Bryce Canyon

These are hoodoos!  Kinda look like pillars

We are hiking down there......

Looking out to Bryce Valley, and the town of Tropic

Hiking down the trail again!

More hoodoos

Walking thru an arch and if you don't make a left turn, you walk off the cliff!

Look at the base of this rock, it has purple in it!



This is called a window.

Mike out on a point

Panoramic view - click on it and it should grow.  Cyndi, let us know if it works!

Another narrow trail.....

Taking a break

Mike's feet on the hike

This is called Two Bridges

That's our trail!

Just grin and bear it!

Good advice!

Day two was a Jeep day, as we rode out through the park an additional fifteen miles or so, stopping at some new overlooks, checking out the pronghorn sheep in some of the meadows, and riding through some more forest fire areas from a few years ago. When we got out to the farthest reaches of the park, Rainbow Point, we took some pictures, and I hopped on my bike for a ride back through the park, while Pam hopped on a trail to do some hiking. Rainbow Point was at an elevation of 9115 ft, and the ride through the park was going to be a downhill run for me. It was a good ride, more gear headaches notwithstanding. I did have a few good climbs, even though I dropped about 1500 ft. My first climb was at about 9000 ft, when my blood wasn't flowing yet. The skies turned green and the trees turned blue, and the sound of sucking oxygenless air went with my dizzy feeling. But, it was gone soon enough, and everything turned back to the proper colors as I hit my downhills. I got a total of 32 miles in about 2:15, and met Pam at the Red Canyon Visitors Center. After leaving Bryce, I got back on highway 12, and rode a pretty good bicycle path through the Dixie National Forest to the Red Canyon. We hooked up the bike to the Jeep and stopped at Sonnyboys BBQ for supper, 2013 Utah BBQ Champion!

Prong horn 

I guess some people just don't have common sense!

Bryce Canyon is a beautiful place

Natural Bridge point - but it isn't really a natural bridge, it's an arch!  It's made by wind , not by water.  That's the difference!

Taking a break before he starts his "short ride thru the park"

We told you it was steep!

Almost looks like a castle, doesn't it!