Utah – Part Two
I left Goblins State Park in hurry. It was getting dark fast and I had a way to go before getting to the place I wanted to camp for the night. Of course, if it is getting dark that means it’s the golden hour when everything is aglow. So I had to stop for at least one photo.
I stopped for gas in Hanksville at the Hollow Mountain station. I wanted to camp in Capital Reef National Park. The sun had dropped, but it was still light out. I asked the girl working at the station how long it would take to get there. “19 minutes.” she says with conviction! I figure, damn, she is local, she must know what she is talking about. But 19 minutes? What a strange definitive number. Why not 20? As it turns out this girl must drive 130 miles per hour, maybe slowing to 95 around the canyon curves. 19 minutes…right!
It took well over a half hour to get there only to find out that the campsite was completely full. FULL! On a Wednesday night! I was not expecting that. At that point I could have gotten some food and ridden up into the mountains on route 12 where I saw a mountain lion 4 years ago, but I decided a motel was the better choice for this night. Wise. That photo of me bathing in the Colorado in the last post was from day one at that location. Day two would have looked a lot different. The river had changed color as if Moses had been sparring with Ramses turning the river to blood as the red sediment from the north had made it’s way downstream from the previous day’s storms. My morning bath may have gotten rid of that sweaty aroma but technically made me filthier then I was. It turned my yellow washcloth orange. So having a shower was a good thing.
And though I had been to Capital Reef before, I was unable to take the scenic road because of bad weather. So staying close instead of heading south into the mountains was a win win!
I wasn’t expecting the scenic drive to turn to dirt, but I was undeterred.
My original plan was to camp at Capital Reef then head down Route 12 before shooting out to Vegas. This however has been the trip of alternate plans. I have changed routes this year more than ever before. And it always seems…it’s for the best. I instead returned eastward. Realizing this could possibly have been a trip without seeing any ancient native ruins, I made my way to a place that had been pegged on my map since my maiden voyage. And on the way I saw a few other unexpected sites.
I rode south on route 95 in Utah. I had ridden this road in the opposite direction a few years back. It is amazing how the same place can look so different depending on which direction you are looking, or depending on the time of day. I was pleased as if I had never been there before.
I love contrasts, whether it be with lights and darks or new and old.
I rode through Glen Canyon, a magnificent area at the north end of Lake Powell.
Below those three vultures is Hite, a place I camped in 2009 right along the lake. The water was noticeably lower this year.
Here is where the Colorado River feeds Lake Powell which was created in the late 50’s by building a dam in Page, Arizona.
After passing the road which led me to route 95 in 2009, I was experiencing uncharted territory for myself. I came across Mule Canyon Ruins. It is a small ruin consisting of partial walls but also has a well preserved kiva.
I was very pleased to have stumbled upon these ruins. Bonnie on the other hand was having issues. She wouldn’t start. This has happened time and time again on these trips. I am beginning to believe it’s a personality disorder more than a mechanical issue. I think she doesn’t trust me when I hoof it. Jealous women tend to behave poorly. So I chalk it up to that. Eventually she started and we vroooooomed away.
When I then came upon Bulter Wash Ruins I was left with a dilemma. The ruins were a mile walk round trip. I was far from civilization and beyond a phone signal. Do I turn off the engine and hope Bonnie doesn’t get act up? Or…do I just leave her running and take the hike. I chose the latter.
It turns out that Butler Wash Ruins are cliff dwellings. The thing about cliff dwellings is you never know whether the sun will be lighting them or not. This is important when taking photos. Turns out photos of Butler ruins would be better served in the AM. Besides it was freaking me out a bit that I left Bonnie running a half mile away. So I hightailed it back and moved on to the place I had been wanting to visit for years. Hovenweep National Monument.
Hovenweep consists of numerous ruins in and around the canyon at this particular location. And there are more ruins scattered about in other locations both here in Eastern Utah and in Western Colorado. I arrived at a great time of day with the sun hanging low.
These phenomenal structures were built between 1200 and 1300 and yet when you go to school and learn about American History, it begins in 1492. Bullshit! At the same time Kings and Queens were having castles built in Europe the Ancient Puebloans were building these beautiful structures.
I didn’t expect to find the opportunity to take reflection shots here in the high desert of Utah, but in the puddles formed in craters surrounding these ruins I got a couple shots. Reflections are my thing. Have a look if you like:
OK. Now I am a little worried. I let time pass in order to take some photos with this great lighting. But, I had a long way to go if I was going to camp in Bluff where I planned. I knew there was a store there where I could get supplies. Darkness was going to be upon me soon and the road to Bluff was somewhat treacherous and still a good 40+ miles. What to do? I felt I had no choice so I started back down the path to return to the bike and go.
On the way I bumped into a man walking on a converging path. His name was Bruce. He also taught kids with special needs and he told me there was a real nice campground right here at Hovenweep. I was struck with the same feelings as in Goblin. I had to leave, I had no supplies for food. As a result, I told Bruce I had to split. He told me he had some apples he could share, (very nice of him) but still I parted ways. But once I got back to the parking lot and hopped on Bonnie, I realized I had some jerky, a bag of almonds and some beer! That with a couple of apples could get me through the night. I headed for the campsite. Then, as I was getting my tent set up I realized I had been carrying a can of soup with me since I left NYC. Woo Hoo! A feast!
Once I set up and had my bowl of Progresso Chicken Gumbo (that I highly recommend), I stopped by Bruce’s site. We were the only people at the whole campsite. The winds were gusting and stars beaming as Bruce and I began gabbing away. Bruce, like myself is a history buff and takes road trips all around the Four Corners area. Not only that, he is a vivacious reader and is quite knowledgeable about a great many things. We talked well into the night and he gave me ideas for yet another route change across Nevada on the way back east. This could give me an interesting path I have never tread and make up for some time, possibly enabling me to enjoy the last days of Sturgis! Bruce shared his apples that he picked from Capital Reef that morning. The juicy tart kind. Yum! He also had some kick ass salsa a chips. Bruce likes to try different beers. He says he likes to do it seasonally. Summer Ales this time of year and darker beers in the winter. He told me that in Utah there are certain Mormon holidays when the Non-Mormons have a beer fest! I like to try local beers too. In fact he pointed out the beer I was carrying was from a micro brewery that puts anti Mormon messages on the label. Ha! I hadn’t even noticed. I just knew it was tasty!
We got up from sitting once the winds died down to check the speckled sky. Bruce likes to stare upward too and in fact is the only other person I have met that likes to find satellites traversing the night skies. It was getting late. We figured about 12:30 and I was tired. I had a real long day, so I went back to my site. It turns out it was already 2:00 am. Oh boy!
The next morning I heard a raven call. I usually put the ear plugs in upon the first sounds of the morning birds announcing the sunrise. This time as the sun broke across the horizon, I decided to go have a look at the ruins in a different light.
Then I packed up and headed to Bluff, UT to fuel up and eat breakfast. A guy I had met back at the site along the Colorado told me about some petroglyphs in Bluff that I didn’t know about.
Back at that motel in Capital Reef I made another decision that I am very pleased with. I sent a message to someone I had met back in 2009. During that trip 3 years ago I met Lloyd and Sarah at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. They were there with J.B., Christina and their daughter Maude, a family from France who was staying with Lloyd and Sarah at their home in Page, Arizona. I kept bumping into this group at various pull offs along the canyon and then one more fortuitous time at a scenic pull off before the Vermillion Cliffs well outside of the Grand Canyon. While we all stood there admiring the last moments of sun as it bounced off the Vermillions, Lloyd asked me where I was staying that night? I said I was just going to try to find National Forest road and set up somewhere. He seemed amused and said I could easily ride off the side of a cliff in the dark. He suggested I come back to Page with them. The family from France was traveling around the States in a camper and they were staying at Lloyd’s place in Page. They decided I could come there and stay in the camper. Wow! How amazing!
Well once I realized I would be passing through Page since changing direction, I wrote Lloyd to say it would be great to say hi! He replied that they were soon leaving for a road trip as well but if I was rolling through in the next 2 or 3 days I was welcome to stay for some R&R. Lloyd and Sarah’s house is beautiful. I was completely enamoured by it in 2009. The house rests n the edge of the mesa and the view is spectacular!
OK, I know this was supposed to be a Utah post. But we make an exception in this case.
Also behind the house is a fancy golf course preventing any future development.
Besides the house being so wonderful, Lloyd and Sarah are super nice, kind people. They moved here from Tuscon and have made this their home. In 2009 the area you see before the windows (in the picture above) was still under construction. The work they have done to the house is remarkable. The entire surroundings are spellbinding, changing constantly with the light, weather and seasons. And now, the front porch had been enhanced as well.
Lloyd and Sarah were gracious hosts. We had fine meals and then after dinner they always go for a nice walk on the path that goes around the edge of the mesa. I joined them. This was also the weekend. I found out that hotels in Las Vegas cost over 4 times the price on the weekend. They offered to have me stay a second night and we went to a different spot after dinner. The winds were blaring to the point where we were giggling at the absurdity of it. There was a storm to the north, the sun setting to the west, Lake Powell (the beginning part) to the south and the Navajo Power Plant to the east. Even the power plant with it’s 3 towering smoke stacks looked remarkable making for 360 degrees of visual splendor.
Thank you so much Lloyd and Sarah. I enjoyed my time with the two of you immensely!
And Bonnie made a friend n Page as well.
On Sunday morning it was time to move on and head to las Vegas.
Before reentering Utah and then getting to Nevada, I stopped at Pipe Spring National Monument. If you look it up online they talk about it being rich in the history of the Kaibab Paiute Indians. But once you get there the guide only talks about a Mormon colony set up there initially by Brigham Young to hide from the recent conviction of polygamists. The home and fortress they built was pretty cool, but I liked these longhorns best.
Then on toward Vegas!