Sunday, July 19, 2009

Border to Border Ride Day Three

Day Three

Start – Page, AZ 8:00am

End – Ely, NV 6:20pm

Later start today than other days. Was nice to sleep a little bit. And just like yesterday I was up a few minutes before my alarm. It sounds silly, but the bike was calling. Long day ahead, let’s hit it.

Day started out very cool. About three miles from the hotel we crossed the Glen Canyon dam bridge. Dams blow my mind. (Ed. Note: I see them and I think to myself, “Daaaaaamn!” Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.) It’s a cliché but they are astounding feats of engineering. How do you hold all that water back while you’re building? How do you get the bridge across? I guess we’ll never know. Nuts. Very cool.

After that we headed towards Zion National Park, which means we quickly left Arizona and entered Utah. On the way we learned that Utah drivers are the worst so far. Almost died twice as soon as we crossed the border. We plotted revenge for miles.

Also, as soon as we crossed from Arizona into Mormonland, the terrain changed again. And it’s not even a really subtle shift. Went from Arizona desert to incredible rock faces reminiscent of Sedona, AZ. But Sedona was an isolated pocket of coolness in AZ, all of Utah looks like that. (Ed. Note: All of Utah that we saw. Could be the rest of it is hideous…but I doubt it.) Just massive rock formations in all kinds of colors. Now I understand why they are called “earth tones”. Joe Smith may have had a lot of crazy, to me, ideas but he sure knew how to pick a spot that would make people believe in God. Made me believe in erosion. Eh, to each his own.

Too Good, Papa Rocket, and Lillypad all had to pay when we got to Zion National Park but since Stitches is a medical retiree from the Army we got in free. Way to be, Uncle Sam! Tubby ranger at the gate even snapped a jowl-wagging salute at her. Nice.

Temps had been creeping up all morning and while I was confined to my long sleeve shirt and Wild Hogs denim vest (having lobstered my arms on Day 2), the others stripped too cool off through Zion.

I don’t know if I can describe the place. It’s all rock formations, Sedona times a million. It’s art in nature, pure and simple. And the road twists right through the center of it. One or three photo stops gave us some nice visual keepsakes. But the coolest part of the park is the tunnel. At least a mile long, it cuts through the mountainside. (Ed. Note: Google says that the tunnel is 1.1 miles long. Never question the Google.) It is unlit except for occasional, massive, square holes cut in the wall, giving brief snapshots of the opposite canyon. Awesome, in the original sense of the word. I’d tell anyone to go. Stitches and I will be back some day to camp and hike.

After Zion we lunched at The Prospector, Papa Rocket went out of his way to bother the young waitress (and why not?) and then we were blasting down the road again. At this point I was dragging ass. It was, like the song says, hot hot hot, plus we were full of food. Happily, Papa Rocket decided to stop at a bike dealership just to wander. (Ed. Note: Not even a Victory dealership either! OMG!) We cooled off there for a few minutes, checked out their overpriced merch, then rolled back out.

The next road was the second series of 4th gear sweepers of the day. I love sweepers. Cruising at 50 or 55 (or more), easy leans, a rider becomes one with the bike. No tunes on this stretch, just the exhaust note and the wind.

Next time we stop for gas we are congratulated by Papa Rocket. This stop is exactly 1,000 miles into the trip. A grand in three days. Hell yeah! Most Motor Company bikes don’t do that in a year.

Oh yeah, I forgot. On the way into Utah we took a slight detour back into Arizona. Stupid GPS. (Ed. Note: I have a GPS on my bike too. My Girlfriend Pointing System. “Turn there! Turn!”) The only reason I mention the detour, aside from it being funny whenever we get lost, is during it we passed not one but two cop cars with dummy cops inside, ala SuperTroopers. “Hey buddy, catch any speeders today?”

More 4th gear sweepers. Yay!

At some point we crossed into Nevada. Again, huge terrain change immediately. Empty desert to some shrubs to border and BAM, trees. Well, a desert rat like me would call them trees. Washington-born Stitches would probably call them really tall bushes. But aside from those there is nothing out here. Nothing. Nada. We’re stacking them 24 stories high in town and out here there ain’t a thing. Desolate. Guess that’s a good thing. The sky is so blue, and perfectly cloudless.

One last stop in a dead mining town called Pioche. (Ed. Note: I’m not sure how it’s pronounced but in my helmet it’s Pioche! like Biotch! I’m channeling [insert rappers name here].) The gas station has the heads of dead animals on display inside. The gas station, people! I’ve noticed that nearly every sign in Nevada has been shot. Must be easier than shooting rabbits. Warm-up, I wonder? (Ed. Note: I must be clear, these shot up signs are next to the highway. So people are shooting from their cars at whatever speed they happen to be traveling. We even passed a sign that said, “Please report shooting from the highway.”It was shot. *sigh*)

From Pioche to Ely is 112, and each one of them is out to prove my wrong about having already seen what empty is. This, this is empty. The greenery is reduced to tiny growth inches off the ground. The road is straighter than a Republican senator claims to be, and the deep blue sky is painted with perfect clouds. An uneventful road with few exceptions. One, Stitches gave me the go ahead to let the bike wind up and we got up to 108 before she had me pull it back. Papa Rocket didn’t even see us coming until we rocked past him. Too caught up in his music/massage/making a Slurpee. Right after that, back with the group at a comfortable 80mph, a red Urban Assault Vehicle slammed by us, still accelerating as it passed. Wow, big hurry.

A few minutes later I get a tap on my shoulder. Stitches has got to pee. Bad. Remember how I said there’s nothing out here? Yeah, no trees or bushes to hide behind. After trying unsuccessfully to get Papa Rocket’s attention and scanning in vain for somewhere with coverage to stop I simply pull to the side and she sucks up her modestly for sweet relief. No worries, that red SUV was the only other thing we saw for 45 minutes. One the road again.

More 4th gear sweepers and we finally arrive in Ely, NV. We are staying at the Nevada Hotel. Think Vegas…then think Vegas 50 years ago. There ya go, now you are seeing where we stayed. The water temperature was affected by what the people in the rooms around you were doing. I see I forgot to mention that we also road through Enterprise, UT, a one stop sign town. Why? Because it’s called Enterprise, duh! Next ride will stop in Riverside, IA. Beam me up!

Weather should be much cooler tomorrow. Off to Idaho. And we were in Mexico two days ago? How cool is that?

402 miles today

1223 miles total

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