Sunday, 19 August 2012

CHAPTER 20



DAY 42 SALT LAKE CITY TO CRAIG. 470km


If you have to leave Salt Lake City and are worried about the traffic then 7.00am on a Sunday morning is a pretty good time to do it. The sunrise was spectacular as we headed over the pass to the East
We stopped at Vernal for a break about mid morning. The town was delightful with about 2km of hanging baskets in the street and hundreds of American flags. I have always been not sure about excessive displays of patriotism but somehow this seemed to not only be appropriate but rather touching. I have to sat the American flag does look good and it reinforces my thoughts that we need a radical revamp of the New Zealand flag.




Then it was a stop at the dinosaur quarry where you can see the dinosaur bones bedded in the rock. At 64 million years old they do have a bit of age
"The thigh bone is connected to the hip bone and the hip bone is connected to......"




Certainly in another 64 million years I do not think they will find any bones of Hubbardartis Rex but who knows. Perhaps I should rethink cremation !
There were of course the inevitable dinosaur jokes. After a while it was agreed that there should be a moratorium on any more such jokes. My wit was sheathed.
Nightfall saw us in the town of Craig. A bland and boring town although. I must say it did have a very good barmaid as a redeeming feature .
In the bar chatting as you do we talked to the driver of an oil drilling truck. He has an 80 tonne Mack. He offered to lend it to us so we could go into town to a restaurant. Was he joking? - you could not be sure.
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DAY 43. CRAIG TO DENVER. 418km

Today the highlight was going thru the Rocky Mountain National Park to Denver. Actually through the park is not the right description. - you go over it. At about 11,000 ft it crosses the main divide. It was a spectacular slow ride.




A nice touch in the park were volunteers at the various lookout points. These good people were a mine of information and were clearly loving what they were doing. We should do this sort of thing in our National Parks in New Zealand. It could be something for the retiring baby boomers to do..
And then we drove triumphantly into Denver which will be our furthest point East in the USA.


DAY. 44. REST DAY IN DENVER

If you ever want to experience something that is quintessentially American then go to a Baseball match. We did with our kind hosts Richard and Shelli. We went to Coors stadium and watched the local team the Rockies defeat the Milwaukee Brewers. It was great fun .




I never realized how many of our common expressions derive from Baseball
Try these -
To throw a curved ball
To step up to the plate
To come out of left field
To have all bases covered
Three strikes and you are out
I am sure there are more and therefore I leave space!
Anyway I think Baseball American style is a great game and I can understand the appeal of it.


DAY. 45. DENVER TO DELTA. 460 km

It was a pass hopping day today with the biggie being Independence Pass which is supposed to be the highest sealed road in North America. It is certainly a great pass for motorcycles as we pulled around bend after bend with views unfolding



Then it was down to the ritzy town of Aspen were the rich and famous all have houses. We passed the airport which was wall to wall with parked private jets. I do not know if some of them had repossession notices on them or not.

Just as we were leaving Aspen there was a commotion. There was a big black bear half way up a big tree. ( an Aspen?). Right in the middle of town. I surmised that perhaps Steven Spielberg had a place there and had put an animated artificial bear up the tree as a tourist attraction. However the presence of an animated but very real Sheriff put paid to that notion.

All afternoon I pondered the question - how do you get a big and angry Black Bear down from high up in a tree? All afternoon I came up with no helpful suggestions to phone thru to the Sheriff.


DAY. 46. DELTA TO CORTEZ. 480 km

We just had to have an early start as how could you not see a " Delta Dawn ". And it was a good ruby red one too!

Delta Dawn!



I do have to say ( modestly of course because it was my idea) that the early starts to beat the heat are a good idea. We have been getting up at 6.00 am and trying to hit the road at 7 am. At that hour not only is it cool but there is a lovely golden light. Then of course the early starts mean that we can finish early and try to miss some of the late afternoon heat.
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Today we went thru some stunning countryside and thru the quaint towns of Outray and Silverton. Both towns simply ooze character and one could have easily stayed in each of them for several days





And then there is was the high mountain passes - all three of them. The curves could best be described as " Reubenesque" i.e. curving all the way from one curve straight into the other with the road disappearing into a "cleavage" every so often. You could even see a tantalizing glimpse of bush from time to time. I will stop the analogy there!




We passed thru the town of Durango which was of course named after a Ford truck. They call them trucks over here but we know them as Utes. From Durango it was west to Cortez which is one of those strip towns where all the shops are on a soulless strip. There was obviously a Main street once apron a time but the Walmarts of this world have lead to thousands of towns like Cortez losing their main street and their character. Bill Bryson laments the loss of main street USA and makes the same point in his book about his travels thru America.

Then finally for the day it was to Mesa Verde National Park. This is where the Pueblo Indians lived in brick structures inside caves. It was very impressive to see and well worth the extended side trip







DAY 47 CORTEZ TO MOAB.         520 km

And a long day to but a great one. First up was down the road to " Four Corners" where the states of Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona meet. This is the only place in the US where four states meet. One then of course has to do some minor gymnastics and put two legs in to different states and at the same time two arms in the other two states. The body should come right in about two weeks.




Then to Monument valley. What can one say. Using yet more superlatives it was "oarsum" as our American friends souls say.






Remember the film Forrest Gump". Well at one stage when he is walking across America with a gaggle of followers he suddenly stops walking, turns to his followers and say simply " I think I will stop now". Well we stopped on that exact same stop but unlike Forrest we carried on. Not having a gaggle of followers helped!

Then it was up a back road towards the National Arches then on to the touristy but tasteful town of Moab. Moab is an adventure town a little like Queenstown and the young people flock to it. We felt quite at home!

Actually many people we talk to us look at us in amazement when we tell them about the whole trip. I am sometimes a little naughty when they ask why are we doing it so I tell them we found one day that the keys were left in the door of the rest home so we escaped! The other answer that works quite well is to say we are cramming it in before we get to middle age! It is rather nice when people seriously agree that this is a good idea. Mind you some laugh just a little too heartily !


DAY. 48. MOAB TO TORREY 354km

Well, well, well three National Parks in one day! First cab off the rank was Arches National Park just north of Moab. In the early morning light the towering rock walls were a fiery red. The arches were pretty cool too !



Then after being visually assailed by Arches National Park it was up the road and into Canyonlands National Park. This one is characterized by glorious vistas over gigantic canyons that go for as far as the eye can see. It was like being in an IMAX theatre standing on the rim.



Then if that was not enough we finished of the orgy of National Parks by riding thru the Capitol Reef National Park. This time it was the late afternoon sun that made the canyon walls fiery red. As Diana said no cathedral or any man made structure can compare with the raw beauty on show here. We hopped off our bikes almost memorized and overwhelmed by all we had seen today .

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