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A solo bicycle journey from Telluride, CO Moab, UT to Rockdale, TX

[introduction | week 1 | week 2 | week 3 | week 4 | week 5 | week 6 | week 7 | in conclusion]




INTRODUCTION

08-07-2003 I'm in the process of buying a bike. I'm looking into the Bruce Gordon BLT or the Cannondale T800. Nothing too fancy. My current plans are to take a bus to Telluride, CO at the end of August where I will begin my ride. Although EXTREMELY out of shape, I hope to take no more than 2 months to complete the trip. Wishful thinking?!? Maybe I had better start training.

I chose the Colorado to Texas route, which includes pieces of the Western Express and Southern Teir routes as well as all of the Grand Canyon Connector route (Adventure Cycling Association), because I love the southwestern desert and have for years been dreaming of seeing the high(er than Washington) peaks of Colorado. The Grand Canyon is an added bonus, although maybe bonus won't be the first word that comes to mind after pedaling around it. We'll see! Rockdale, my destination, is a small town about 70 miles northeast of Austin, TX... which just happens to be where my parents are currently residing. Wow, what a coincidence.

All in all, the mileage for the trip should average somewhere around 2500 miles.

08-29-2003 My bike arrived yesterday! =) I bought a used 2002 Bruce Gordon BLT from a guy off the Internet. He used it to tour from Seattle, WA to Sacramento, CA last year. Other than that, it's pretty much new and appears to be in excellent shape. I put it together yesterday and was not dissapointed. Thanks Sean.

I'm planning on starting my trip around the 8th of September. I looked into Greyhound, but they have no stops in Telluride (or Moab for that matter), go figure. I can fly to Telluride, but I am also going to look into taking the train. In any case, once I arrive in Colorado, I am going to have to acclimatize a couple of days since the elevation is around 9,000ft. My first day of riding will take me over a 10,122' pass. Whoa!!! Almost as high as Mount Baker back home. It was hard enough walking up Baker, let alone riding a loaded touring bike over it. ;-)

Today I'm going into Austin to pick up the remainder of my gear. Things are finally coming together. =)

09-03-2003 I went for my first ride (in awhile) yesterday... 12.5 miles along the relatively flat roads of Texas. It took me just under an hour and I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little winded. What am I getting myself into?!? ;-) Oh yeah - this was a stripped bike with no gear and near sea level.

Telluride is crazy expensive. I don't think I will be staying there other than to grab a beer (or two... or three... oh how I could go on) and do some shopping for food. I will probably stay in a campground close by, or maybe just free camp on NF or BLM land.

It's funny, as this trip is finally a reality... it no longer seems like the great feat it once did. Does this mean I can do anything?!? The only requirement being: to make it a reality. Not a bad philosophy.

09-09-2003 Change in plans!!! Isn't that always the case?!? Instead of starting in Telluride, CO... I will be starting my trip in Moab, UT on the 11th. Moab is another place I've wanted to visit (from my Mt. Biking days) and I plan to spend about four days just relaxing and acclimatizing to the environment.

I decided to switch my ride from Telluride to Moab because of two reasons... (1) Telluride is crazy expensive & (2) the Brews & Blues Festival. Under normal circumstances I would have loved to attend. In this case however, there will be too many people, too many cars, and too many rate hikes.

I'm happy with my choice. See you on the road!!!

WEEK 1
[this week's pictures]

09-11-2003 DAY 1 (Moab, UT) - A GENERAL LACK OF SLEEP AND A SHORT JOURNEY INTO MOAB
Today: 27.9 miles Total: 27.9 miles 12.5avg-mph

My flight left at 6:50am. We are an hour and a half away from the Austin airport. Rather than wake-up groggy at 4 in the morning, I decided to stay up all night and watch movies on my parents satellite (still trying to figure my logic behind this?!?). Both my parents woke early to see me off, and my Mom even graciously drove me to the airport. Thanks Mom! To be fair, my Dad would have come too... but he had a prior engagement. Thanks Dad! =)

I was a little concerned about shipping my bike on the airplane. About 5 months ago, an airline (who's acronym is 2/3rd's that of a popular roadside service) demolished my 12-string acoustic when flying to Peru. My guitar was even in a hardshell case... of course they took no responsibility for it. All the worry was for nothing though, my bike arrived pristine.

The plane from Denver to Moab was TINY!!! Only 17 seats (I think?!?). At this point I am very sick of flying, but all-in-all it was a fun ride.

Moab is crazy beautiful. From the plane the view was spectacular... only to be surpassed by the view from my bike below. Sheer cliffs, tall spires, deep canyons... and all bathed in an eerie red.

At the Moab airport I spent the better part of 2 hours reassembling my bike and packing my gear. Not more than 1 mile down the road did I have to pull off and again repack. This is where I met the nice lady from the Park Service (I think?!?) who stopped to see if I was okay. From her I learned of a great camping spot on the Colorado River (just 4 miles out of town) and a more scenic, less traveled, and very very rough road into Moab... 17 miles away.

True to her word, the campsite was spectacular. Deep in a canyon on the Colorado River. I setup camp, stripped my bike... and rode into town for some food & beer.

09-12-2003 DAY 2 (Moab, UT) - A TOURIST IN MOAB
Today: 7.8 miles Total: 35.7 miles 11.3avg-mph

I didn't do much today. Woke up around 8:30am, lounged around camp until just after noon, and learned that you can make tasty oatmeal with cold water.

I rode into town, walked around a bit... met a friend of a friend, and retired to the brewery for a couple (okay 3) pints of beer.

09-13-2003 DAY 3 (Moab, UT) - UP THE HILLS AND THROUGH THE WIND TO GRANDMOTHER'S HOUSE WE GO
Today: 41.7 miles Total: 77.4 miles 10.4avg-mph

After much early morning debate, I decided to ride into Arches NP. Problem was, it was very very WINDY!!!

Arches National Park is about 5 miles north of where I am camped, and the first 2 or 3 miles into the park is straight uphill (no kidding, carrying my bike up a ladder would have been easier). Actually I wasn't feeling to bad so it wasn't too excruciating.

Arches (or should I say lack of arches) National Park is gorgeous... despite riding over 12 miles into the park to see only 3 arches. The rock mountains, domes, towers, and spires however were more than worth the trip. It reminded me of Joshua Tree without the Joshua Trees.

When I made it to my turnaround (the 3 arches & The Windows) I only stayed for a few minutes. There were too many people and the light was wrong for a good photograph. I did talk to a nice German couple who told me about a bike trail that runs all the way from Somewhere, Germany to Budapest, Hungary along the Danube. Might be worth checking out. =)

At the arches there were scenic trails, but I just couldn't brinf myself to hike them after riding 16.5 miles uphill and into a headwind. So, off we go!!!

The ride back was mostly downhill and much much faster (I actually hit 34mph - okay 33.8). I couldn't understand it though - how could I be riding into a strong headwind this direction too? Ugh!?!

After a little more than 3 hours, I rode/hobbled (exhausted) into camp. I rested for an hour and rode into town for some dinner and a movie - 'Once Upon a Time in Mexico'. I rode home in the dark (and it was dark) with the stars to guide the way.

09-14-2003 DAY 4 (Moab, UT) - A BUMP IN THE NIGHT
Today: 16.6 miles Total: 94.0 miles 11.3avg-mph

Last night as I rode into my campsite, I met Kye (I think this was his name) and his girlfriend (who's name I can't remember). She was visiting Kye from Taiwan and they were touring the National Parks. Kye is a German Physicist working in Santa Barbara. They were looking for a campsite, so I offered to share mine. After chatting a bit, I headed to bed.

HHHHOOOONNNNKKKK!!!! It's 3am and the horn in the truck at the campsite next to mine is blaring! For 10 minutes it persisted before the owner finally got out of his tent to disconnect his car battery. Heavy sleeper I guess!?! Remember, we're in a canyon. Saying it was loud would be an understatement! AfterwardsI had a hard time getting back to sleep and had crazy dreams the rest of the night/morning.

I got up around 8am and had breakfast with my new friends before they headed off to conclude their trip.

Around 11am I headed into town to run some errands. Nothing too exciting although I did find out that MSR no longer makes their quart size containers of stove fuel. This leaves me the gallon size to fill my 22oz bottle. You do the math!?! ;-)

I went shopping for food, had lunch at the Brewery, and rode back to camp to get ready for tomorrow.

After a highly nutritious meal (1 orange & bag-o-salad) I got a little bored. There was still some daylight left so I decided to ride up the canyon a bit. Sheer 500ft? cliffs rose to the right and shimmered in the setting sun. It was a nice ride.

09-15-2003 DAY 5 (Wind Whistle CG, UT) - WHY AM I DOING THIS AGAIN?
Today: 41.1 miles Total: 135.1 miles 9.0avg-mph

Damn! Today was hard for me. Up and down, up and down - mostly up. It would be nice if the downhill portion of the ride lasted as long as the uphill portion. Why does it have to happen so fast?!?

My goal today, Wind Whistle Campground in the Canyon Rims Recreation Area (about 38 miles south of Moab). After packing my gear and loading my bike, I noted that my bike might possibly weigh more than my VW Microbus. Maybe I should have cut foothole - a la Fred Flintstone - and taken it instead!?! ;-)

My lunch point, La Sal Junction... I was hoping for a restaurant but instead got 2 boarded up shacks. Should that even be on the map?!? After an orange and a Clif Bar (they have new flavors now - Spiced Pumpkin Pie - YUM!) I was off.

Up, up, up... now why did someone spray grafitti all over the side of that monolith wall of rock? It said, "Hole in the Rock - turn left 400ft" in GIANT white block letters. Because their method of advertising, in my humble opinion, was a little tacky - I decided to forge on. I learned later that this place apparently has some historical signifigance. Hmmm, maybe I should have stopped after all.

Along the route their were so many great places to take pictures - one in particular, Wilson Arch. Sorry - no pictures, I was too tired and trying to keep something that might resemble a rythm!!! =)

When I finally made it to the turnoff for my campsite, I had gone almost 36 miles. I was tired. Only 6 more to go (off-route), and guess what?!? It was ALL uphill (okay mostly uphill). By the time I made it to camp, I could barely crawl let alone ride. I walked my bike up the gravel drive into the park and picked one of the first sites that I found.

There are two things that I am extremely thankful for today: 1) there were empty campsites, and 2) the water wasn't out of order.

I met Roberta at Gearheads in Moab. I was filling up my fuel cannister (they sell it by the ounce), she was doing something else - not sure what?!? This was the 12th day of her tour and we were both headed for Wind Whistle - we decided to hook up there.

About two hours after I made it to camp, Roberta strolled in. In all fairness though, she left Moab almost 3 hours after I did - so she rode a bit faster.

It turns out she had just come from the route that I was heading for, so she gave me the low-down on the sites and the good places to camp. We're both headed to the Grand Canyon, but via different routes. Maybe I'll pass her on the road.

After tea, raisins, and talking until 10:30pm, we decided to call it a night. I headed to my tent and slept like a log. I've noticed that each night I've been sleeping a little better. This is good because the 1st night I hardly slept at all.

09-16-2003 DAY 6 (Monticello, UT) - MY FIRST FLAT - OH BOY!!!
Today: 18.5 miles Total: 153.6 miles 7.7avg-mph

Today was a short day, although a little shorter than planned. I woke up extremely sore and wasn't too sure about today's ride. After talking with Roberta a bit, eating breakfast, and packing - I was off! The first few miles I was pretty stiff, but after a while I felt pretty good.

Today was entirely uphill. My average speed slowed to 7.7mph and I felt like I was moving the pace of a broken-legged snail (do snails even have legs?!?). To top it off, there were very strong headwinds. Ugh!?! I didn't see too much today other then the pavement about 2 feet in front of my front tire - and no, it didn't change much. The ocassional brokewn bottle, the dirty diaper, beer cans - you know, the usual. The end of my ride was a 5 mile steep pass in which I had to drop to my lowest gear - now I can't even keep up with that snail. To top it off, the bike is very hard to control at these slow speeds. It wants to veer left or right, but not go straight. Despite this, I obtained a nice rythm and glided (I'm using pleasant words for when I reread this later) to the top. At the top (or what I thought was the top) I decided to stop before heading the final 8 miles into Monticello. There was a campground there, so I pulled in to sit down and drink some water.

I looked around a bit and started to think about staying for the night. When I looked down to see that my rear tire was flat - that was decided - I'm staying. A side note: just this morning Roberta was telling me that she had never gotten a flat while touring - thanks Roberta!?! ;-)

The campground - the Roughlock RV Park is great. So are it's owners Bob, Jane, and their daughter Bobbie-Jane (no kidding!?!). They were extremely friendly and I almost hated to leave. Maybe we'll run into each other again. =) If you're travelling through here by bike, stop in. There's even a restaurant - oops, Steakhouse - sorry Bob! You can't miss it, it's at the top (false-top) of the VERY BIG HILL!!!

09-17-2003 DAY 7 (Blanding, UT) - A SHORT DAY'S RIDE
Today: 32.4 miles Total: 186.0 miles 8.3avg-mph

Pee Wee's secret word for today, 'Headwind'! In some cases I even had to pedal to ride downhill. It's not supposed to work that way is it?

Today's ride was harder than it was supposed to be, at least in my head. For some reason (misread the map I guess) I thought today would be mostly downhill... no such luck.

I rode to Blanding and am now on the ACA Western Express Route. I stopped by the Visitor's Center to ask about Internet access and a photocopy machine, low-and-behold... I had found both. After updating my journal and copying some maps from the HEAVY atlas I had brought, I was off to the Post Office to mail 10lbs of gear back to myself in Texas. Hopefully I won't need that puff jacket in the Grand Canyon?!? I'll let you know (that is if I don't freeze solid).

Things to go: water filter (not a lot of water in the desert in fall), my new Moab Brewery shirt, atlas, MP3 player (believe it or not), a couple of extra non-important bike parts, and a few small odds and ends. I'm looking forward to a lighter ride.

Tonight I am staying in a Motel, and for only $22 / night. Not bad?!? The rooms were actually $25, but I got a deal because my comforter was off being washed.

There is a terrible movie on TV called 'Dangerous Waters', but it was filmed in Oregon on the Deschutes, so I have to watch. =)

WEEK 2
[this week's pictures]

09-18-2003 DAY 8 (Blanding, UT) - REST DAY
Today: 0.0 miles Total: 186 miles 0.0avg-mph

Last night in bed my legs started to cramp - so what the hell?!? Today would be a good rest day.

Overall it was pretty uneventful, I basically watched a lot of TV. The only time I left my room was to walk to the store to buy some bananas - oh joy!

09-19-2003 DAY 9 (Natural Bridges NM, UT)
Today: 48.1 miles Total: 234 miles 9.6avg-mph

It looks like my rest day paid off - sort of. Physically I felt pretty good today - even climbing 2000ft over a pass. Mentally, now that's another story. Before any climb today I kept (unintentionally) psyching myself out. Several times today I questioned why I was doing this?!? I kept thinking about where I could find the closest Greyhound Station... but in the end, my insanity returned - or rather prevailed. On I go!

I made it to Natural Bridges about 3 hours earlier then I had planned - when does that ever happen?!? The campground sign read full, but I learned from camping at Joshua Tree that the NP Campground signs ALWAYS say full. I rode the 5 downhill (tomorrow's uphill - ugh!?!) miles into the park and was pleasantly greeted (no kidding, it actually shook my hand) by a half empty campground. I picked my site and made some lunch.

After lunch I became extremely tired. There was not much shade to speak of, so I went to my tent to lay down and read. In reality I never even opened my book, but I did use it as a pillow for a couple of hours.

After getting up I felt terrible. Headache, groggy, worn out. I really wanted to see the Bridges though, so I downed some water, packed my camera, and rode off to do the lovely 9 mile loop - unloaded.

At first the going was tough, but the little exercise proved me well. By the time I made it to the 1st Bridge, Sipapu, I was feeling great.

The 3 Bridges, Sipapu, Kuchina, and Owachomo were originally called President, Senator, and Congressman respectively. I don't know about you, but I'm sure glad they changed the names.

The loop was spectacular and the canyon gorgeous. My two favorites were the Sipapu Bridge and the Anasazi ruins. I'm definietly coming back, but by car, with all of my camera equipment to hike the canyon and try for some amazing shots. The pictures I took from the rim, I'm afraid, just won't do it justice.

09-20-2003 DAY 10 (Lake Powell, UT)
Today: 52.0 miles Total: 286 miles 12.1avg-mph

I woke up to the sound of a crying baby at 2 in the morning. I was still awake at 3 in the morning because of the sound frmo a crying baby. No worries though because I had to use the bathroom anyway and needed the little extra motivation to get out of my warm sleeping bag.

It's 7am and everyone in the park seems to be awake. Huh?!? At 8am, I finally crawled out of bed... and rolled out of the park at 9:30am. Despite the 5 mile uphill, I felt good and looked forward to a long, mostly downhill day.

Between Natural Bridges and Lake Powell there is one stop, Fry Canyon. There's a lodge, a restaurant, and gas pump... unfortunately all was closed when I rode in... so I sat on their porch and had an orange and a banana.

Now is where I start to get a bit worried. My left knee, which has been bothering me a little the last few days, started to hurt a lot. For the next 20 miles it continued to get worse. I'm hoping this will work itself out in the next few days, in the meantime I will favor it and shift the stress to the right leg - which feels fine.

I hobbled into Lake Powell National Inferno - oops, I mean Recreation Area, and rode down to the campground/pile-o-rocks. I was the only person there so I picked the best spot (least amount of rocks), unloaded my gear, and walked down to the lake/mud-puddle. It seems that Southern Utah has been under an extreme drought for the last 5 years. The water level at Lake Powell is about 100ft down, and from what I could see, there wasn't much left. Environmentalists unite - Glen Canyon might soon be restored to it's pre-dam glory.

After what seemed like a 10 mile hike, I made it to the water. I was going to go for a swim, but when I got close... my feet sunk into roughly 2 feet of very sticky, very dark mud. I managed to get my them out, but looking down noticed I now had 10lb blocks of mud for feet. This stuff was hard to get off, and I couldn't get close enough to the water to wash it off. Not the worst predicament I've been in, but it was a bit awkward - and it was a long hike to the batchrooms. I scraped off as much as I could and clumsily sloshed my way back to the Ranger Station.

After cleaning up, I walked out of the bathroom to see Roberta's bike leaning against mine. I guess I would run into her sooner rather than later. I was happy to see her again and have someone else to share the campground with. =)

Roberta did a loop and was coming from the direction in which I am heading. Just think, if I hadn't stayed in Blanding the extra day, we would have missed each other by a couple of hours. We briefed each other about our rides ahead... and retired to light conversation and food experimentation. I'm still not too sure what that was we made?!? ;-)

09-21-2003 DAY 11 (Hanksville, UT)
Today: 51.2 miles Total: 337 miles 9.6avg-mph

Today we got off to a late start. We were up early enough, but spent the better part of an hour playing photo shoot. We both wanted some pictures of ourselves riding, which is a little hard to do by yourself, so we staged a few shots. Unfortunately today wasn't the best day to do it since we both had long hard rides ahead of us... but as the old adage goes - 'beggars can't be choosers'.

At 10 o'clock we said our goodbyes, confident that we'd cross paths again somewhere near the Grand Canyon.

Destination: Hanksville! I started out with a very steep climb which when looking upon yesterday, made me shudder. I could tell I was uncounciously favoring my bad knee because my right leg was getting very tired. All in all, my knee gave me very little trouble today. A good sign if I do say so myself. Now I can abandon those thoughts of air lift rescue and get on with my trip. ;-)

Today I watched the scenery change from the red rock mountains to the dull brown prairieland. It was odd how quickly this happened... it seemed like I only put my head down for a second, then {poof} no more rocks of red.

Pete and Jennifer waved me down at the top of a steep hill (and luckily my high point for the day) to see if I wanted some water. I graciously accepted while playing with their dog Sparky. It was nice to be helped by someone in an RV rather than being run off the road by one.

I rode into camp around 3:45pm, a little later then usual. I pretty much threw everything off my bike and headed for the recommended Stan's Burger Barn for an Avocado Sandwich.

I was sitting in camp studying my map when another tourer, also named Stephen, strolled in. I went over and introduced myself and found that he too (or three) is headed towards the Grand Canyon, via Roberta's route. He's on a super ride though and has to be home by October 2nd, probably too early for us to cross paths again.

We met for dessert at the campground restaurant and I learned that there are 2 riders in front of me on my route. Maybe I'll get to meet them, but more than likely - a giant game of cat n' mouse.

09-22-2003 DAY 12 (Torrey, UT)
Today: 50.4 miles Total: 387 miles 10.5avg-mph

I got up and had something other then oatmeal and bananas for breakfast. Pancakes, yum! I had some time to kill before the store opened so I figured, why not?

Today was entirely uphill, but surprisingly I felt really good. The first 37 miles to Capitol Reef went by like nothing - in some cases I even felt like the bike was riding me. ;-) This was supposed to be my stop for the day, but Torrey was only 11 miles further... and after the day I've had so far, how hard could it be?!? Big mistake!!! Almost 2000ft in 11 miles. I felt like I was riding my bike up a ladder.

Outside of Capitol Reef, in the middle of the Utah desert and the bottom of a narrow canyon, I found the oddest thing... u-pick fruit orchards. Joy!!! I had heard about the historic Fruita district all the way back in Moab... it wasn't a complete surprise, but odd nontheless. At one small orchard I stopped to pick my lunch, and possibly dinner - but found only 1 small pear. If you promise not to say anything - I will tell you that I snuck out of the orchard without paying for the pear. In all fairness, it was a really small pear.

In Torrey I forst stopped at the Robber's Roost Coffee/Bookstore. Cool place... they have live music and an organic vegetable market on Saturdays. I inquired about a place to stay and was told about the hostel a few blocks down the street.

Great recommendation! Donna and Duane, both from Washington and Florida - two places I have lived, built the Sandcreek RV Park/Hostel. It was $10/night for a bed in the hostel, or $11 for a tent site. The hostel it was!

I was sitting outside, drinking a beer, and writing in my journal when I met Dana, then Deitre (sp?) the German Cowboy, and finally Al. Dana and Deitre are seasonal residents while Al is retired and lives here year round. Deitre was (is) cool... a long haired Harley looking guy with a cowboy hat and a thick German accent. He comes to Torrey three weeks every year for vacation and then heads back to Germany to resume work. Dana is a retired Dentist who splits her time between here and her home in the Ozarks.

While sitting around and chatting, Dana mentioned that a movie was filmed in Torrey with the Sandcreek RV Park as the setting. It was a B movie called 'No Place Like Home' and featured none other then Judge Reinhold and Richard Moll. None of us had seen (or even heard of) the movie, so we headed over to Al's to watch it on the big screen (at least big to me at 19" ;-).

Now it wasn't the best movie I'd ever seen, but it was cool to see the places I had biked through that morning, and the hostel, on the screen. Wow, I'm storing my bike in Judge Reinhold's shop. =)

Torrey is a great town with great people. Quaint and somewhat hip. I'm definitely staying an extra day, possibly two. =)

09-23-2003 DAY 13 (Torrey, UT) - REST DAY
Today: 31.3 miles Total: 419 miles 10.7avg-mph

Now how did I bike 31 miles and not have gone anywhere?!? One of those great mysteries of the South I guess.

I woke up at 7:30am and walked to the office to pay for another night. Donna offered me a cup of coffee and with Duane we sat down and talked a bit.

It turns out that by the end of October, Torrey becomes a ghost town. Everything closes and most of the people leave for their proverbial 'Souths of the Winter'. Only a skeleton crew stays on, but even they don't work. Most just collect unemployment. Thoughts of holing up here and pursuing a career in writing started to sound very enticing.

After breakfast at the Capitol Reef Cafe, where I met Mary, I rode out to Bicknell (the big city - population 200) to see about using the Internet at the library. When I arrived it was noon, and they didn't open until 1pm - so I rode around town, lost my motivation to sit in front of a computer for a few hours, and rode back to Torrey.

For the afternoon I sat around the hostel, had a couple of beers, and immersed myself in some Kerouac.

After her shift, Mary stopped by to invite me out to her place to spend the evening with her and her boyfriend. She gave me directions and told me to show up whenever.

A couple of hours later I saddled up and headed to Teasdale (the next town over) to see what Mary and Chad were up to.

The ride was gorgeous. Green fields, rocky spires, and sweeping views. When I made it to Mary's place, no one was home (other then the random animal parts strewn around the yard - not a good sign), so I pulled out my Kerouac and waited on the porch.

About 2 chapters later Chad and Mary showed up. They were at their friends house collecting fresh vegetables - something of an oddity out here. We all chatted for a bit, but work had to be done... they both went outside to tan some deer hides, which I believe had come from roadkill (a-ha, now the animal parts make sense). I watched for a bit, but was very disinterested. I started to get a little bored so I excused myself for a walk around the property and eventually a ride back to the hostel.

But first, something for dinner. I rode back to Torrey and then to the junction of Hwy 12 (where I will continue my ride) and stopped at the subway for a Veggie Sandwich. There I met 3 BOB toting tourers headed to the east coast, and a German guy who started in Alaska. For the relatively sane, a BOB is a trailer that some tourers use in leiu of panniers. They look cool, but I have never used one.

09-24-2003 DAY 14 (Torrey, UT) - ANOTHER REST DAY
Today: 6.6 miles Total: 426 miles 0.0avg-mph

Today was mostly functional. I lubed my bike, shopped for food, and mailed some post cards. Nothing terribly exciting.

I will comment on the canteloupe at the market - there were 2 and I wanted one (or both) very badly. Problem was, neither was quite ripe and I had nothing big enough to cut them with. I am really missing fresh produce right now... I have been settling for questionable bananas and oranges up to this point. I think my next tour will be around Hawaii. =)

Poetry From The Road Series - Volume 1

#1

Here I sit, drifting in and out of a lonliness -
but the kind of lonliness that is there to keep you company.
Nothing too familiar is awaiting my gaze...
...it only sits...
...and waits...
like me - outside of the sun - waiting to be let back in.

#2

myfeetaredirty
andIlookatmyfeetthinkingtheyneedtobecleaned
butIlookatmyfeetandseethememoriesoftoday
toobigtobewasheddownthedrain


WEEK 3
[this week's pictures]

09-25-2003 DAY 15 (Escalante, UT) - THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD!
Today: 63.3 miles Total: 489 miles 10.0avg-mph

Today was a loooong day... my longest yet. I had planned on leaving early, but slept so poorly the night before, I didn't wake up until after 8. It took some coaxing to get myself out of bed, but since I was already late... I might as well make myself a little later and head down the street for breakfast.

I packed up... said my goodbyes, and wolfed down some french toast. It was 9am, it was windy, and it was cold. I rode out of town, a little nervous about my 2600ft climb over Boulder Mountain, but soon found company in another rider (on a recumbent) heading for the same destination. Ivo (prounounced Devo w/o the D for all you 80's fans) is from Switzerland and has already biked over 12,000 miles in Europe, New Zealand, and the US during the last year and a half. I was fortunate to meet him as this is the last leg of his trip. He's heading to Flagstaff, AZ... then flying home to rejoin the "real" world.

Pretty much from the get-go it was uphill. I rode with Ivo for a bit, but his lower gears were worn out, making it harder for him to ride uphill... so, I rode ahead - spacing out in my own little world. I noticed today that I am counting my revolutions... I get to 100 then start again at 1. I used to do this in high school cross country... I guess to get my mind of of the race. Half the time I don't even realize I am doing it.

Highway 12 is supposed to be the 2nd most scenic drive in the United States. After getting to the top of Boulder I could see why. Sweeping views all over Utah and into Colorado and Arizona. Simply amazing! Of course this is rated by someone driving a motorized vehicle, by bicycle the rating drops a bit since it is such a steep climb. ;-)

The trees, alders I believe, are changing their colors as we speak. Reds, yellows, oranges (my 3 current favorite colors)... a little green - and all looking as if they're bleeding off the canvas. Yes Timmy, in this case it is okay to color outside of the lines. =)

At the very top was a 9400ft summit sign. I waited - not long - for Ivo... we took some pictures and had lunch.

Now the fun part - the downhill. It was great! We dropped 1400ft in about 10 minutes. Ivo and I met up in Boulder Town, our halfway point for the day. We stopped by the Anasazi Heritage Museum, and were off to do the Hogsback... a stretch of road with no shoulder, 100ft drops to either side, and great views of the Escalante Staircase. It wasn't too bad, actually it was quite pleasant... there wasn't too much traffic save for that one tour bus which kept passing me and then pulling off the road (to enjoy the views), where I would pass it. I think this happened about five times over the course of the next couple hours. Maybe I was part of the tour?!? =)

The rest of the ride into Escalante was HOT & UPHILL. We rolled into town just before dark, hit the grocery (the biggest one so far) and walked across the street to the cafe.

After dinner we rode by a campground in town which had nice cabins, no RV's, and real grass. We decided to check it out... the owner wanted $10 for each tent, but Ivo talked her down to $10 total since our tents were so small.

09-26-2003 DAY 16 (Ruby Inn/Bryce Canyon, UT) - BRYCE & THE 50 PICTURES!!!
Today: 45.9 miles Total: 535 miles 8.7avg-mph 40.7max-mph

We woke to a semi-warm morning and slowly started breaking camp. After yesterday's epic ride, I could barely move my legs.

After spending far too much time trying to find space for all the food I bought the day before, I was off. Ivo left about 10 minutes before me, and although I would catch glimpses of him on some of the longer stretches of road, we wouldn't meet again until the top of the first climb - 18 miles away.

After a bit of food - lunch #1 (I'm starting to feel like a hobbit with my new eating habits), Ivo was off and I struck up a conversation with a couple from Seattle. It seems the majority of the people I have met on this trip are from 3 places: Germany, Oregon, and Washington. I've never been to Germany, but Oregon and Washington I know a little about... it's been fun reminiscing, but still no one from Anacortes.

After a very steep and very fun downhill (I peaked 41mph), I met up with Ivo in the tiny town (don't blink - no seriously, DON'T BLINK) of Cannonville. His bike had started to give him trouble - so we stopped for a bit while he looked it over. It turned out to be a very worn bearing on his derailleur (sp?) - hmmm, and after only 12k miles... I would get the manufacturer on the phone!?! ;-) After the quick diagnosis, we set off for the 13-mile climb into Bryce Canyon.

And uphill it was...

I round a corner and {BOOM}, Bryce canyon in all it's glory. There was a parking area up ahead, so I pedalled up and stopped to wait for Ivo. In the meantime I pulled out my camera and took about 50 pictures.

Last January I went with some friends to Prague in the Czech Republic. The medeival architecture there was stunning (if you've seen the beginning of the movie xXx with Vin Diesel, you know what I m talking about). The view from the Mossy Cave Trailhead reminded me a bit or Prague - a huge citadel perched on the hill - not waiting for knights and kings, but cowboys, indians, and the Wild Gang of Butch Cassidy.

Ruby's Inn is a resort turned town (read tourist trap). It was a little off my route, but Ivo was going to explore Bryce the next day, so we decided to share a camping site before we parted ways the next morning.

Once Ivo fixed his bike, or made it work rather - not so sure fixed is the right word, he let me take it for a spin. I've never ridden a recumbent (those weird looking bikes where you lay on your back) and at first was a bit shaky... but soon was able to ride with the best of them (that is if the best of them were 4 years old and just learned to ride a bike).

Before bed I went in the hot tub... nice campground huh?!? =) About an hour later I was in bed about to doze off when all of the sudden... two covered wagons (am I dreaming) came rolling by carrying the voices who were singing the tune 'Oh Susanna'... huh... I didn't realize there were so many verses.

09-27-2003 DAY 17 (Panguitch Lake, UT) - JLo WHERE ARE YA GONNA GO?
Today: 42.9 miles Total: 578 miles 9.9avg-mph

On my first day out of Moab, I started thinking - 'You always see cassette tapes along the side of the orad (usually strung-out), I wonder if there are any CD's?'. Sure enough not more than a mile down the road, almost as if I had materialized it, was a CD. I didn't stop to pick it up though, I was tired and really wanted to get to camp.

Yesterday on my way up to Bryce I saw my 2nd CD. This time I had to stop... so I turned around and saved it from it's eternal life in the hot desert sun. Wouldn't you know it?!? (and my apologies to all of you Jeniffer Lopez fans out there)... a JLo CD. Well, I did find it on the side of the road afterall. I can just picture some guy flipping through his girlfriends CD's, and upon seeing the CD in question, not wanting subjection to any form of musical torture, accidentally dropping it out of the window, while directing his girlfriend to the beautiful sites of Bryce off to the left.

Feeling a little guilty from resurrecting this CD from the dead... I came up with a new plan... a biker game of tag of sorts. I signed the CD and then gave it to Ivo who then signed it. His job to give it to the next tourer he sees... and on and on. Maybe 10 years from now I will be given a worn (too worn to play with any luck), but well travelled JLo CD. Only time will tell. =)

It was a bit chilly this morning and Ivo was still asleep, so I decided to have breakfast at the lodge. Pancakes and coffee!!! I'm usually not much of a coffee drinker, but for some reason it has been really tasting good. Hopefully I'm not forming a habit.

After breakfast I packed up camp and rode out, parting company with Ivo as he headed into the park. I might see him again in Zion (but since I'm in Zion while transcribing this, I'll let you know I didn't), but most likely he will beat me there by a day or two. His route into Zion is much shorter and much flatter than mine. I thought a lot about riding the shorter route, but in the end... a 10,600ft summit and Cedar Breaks National Monument win out.

At the summit of the climb out of Bryce, there was of all things - a bike path. The sign said it was to give riders the feeling of a motor vehicle experience. Huh, didn't I choose to pedal to leave behind the motorized experience?!? In any case it was fun, fun, fun!!! 10 miles of a mostly downhill - roughly the equivalent of a mountain bikers singletrack - through very scenic terrain... and all to myself. =)

After the bike path, the scenery changed from gorgeous to that needing a bit more imagination. More Hanksville prairieland... the rest of the ride into Panguitch was fairly uneventful.

In Panguitch I first found the library... I wanted to use the internet to catch up on my journal - but wouldn't you know it, closed on Saturdays. I have had the worst luck with libraries on this trip. In leiu of spacing out in front of a computer for a few hours, I rode back to a pizza place I had passed and had a vegetarian pizza.

Panguitch, at 6660ft was the low point for me today. It was also the start of a very long climb up to Brian Head.

The climb from Panguitch to Panguitch Lake wasn't too bad. I arrived around 3pm and wanted to go further... problem was there was nothing until the other side of the pass. Trying to do the whole pass today, although enticing, would have put me dangerously close to nightfall... so camping at the lake it was.

The campground was almost closed... and the only open one on that side of the mountain. No toilets or water, but there was a store down the street. Plenty of firewood though - so tonight my first campfire. =) Apparently there are also bears afoot - so tonight, my food goes in a tree.

09-28-2003 DAY 18 (Cedar City, UT) - BRIAN LOST HIS HEAD (aka: DEATH MARCH ON HWY 14)?!?
Today: 40.0 miles Total: 618 miles 9.6avg-mph

I'm reminded of one of my favorite Ani DiFranco albums as I set off today... can you guess which one it is? =)

Despite being stiff (a recurring theme it seems) I had a leisurely stroll up the mountain. I'm learning to pedal in a lower gear so I'm not getting as tired. So far it's been working, and although you would think the opposite... I'm probably getting to 'there' faster.

The trees today were like the trees on Boulder, but more brilliant. Vibrant oranges, reds, and yellows all screaming to be admired - I had a hard time keeping my eyes on the road. This is how I imagined Maine to be, not Southern Utah. In Washington the leave turn 2 colors, green and dead. Here I have been pleasantly surprised.

"Hey hang on and we'll give you a tow!", yelled the guy from the drivers side of his old pickup. His buddy is sitting in the passenger seat with a shotgun resting on his lap and conveniently pointed at my head.

"No, but thanks anyway!", I call back, just hoping they'll speed off to wherever it is they're going.

By this time my breathing was getting a bit shallow. I didn't notice the thin air on Boulder, but I could definitely tell the difference up here. Of course 10k feet is nothing to an experienced mountaineer, but to an amateur on hiatus travelling on an 80lb bike... let's just say I've felt better.

Once I reached the top (the 2nd highest I've ever been on ground) I was a little bummed - no summit sign. There was one at Cedar Breaks though, a fwe hundred feet down... so I took a picture there.

After talking with the Ranger and a nomadic couple from Florida, I headed for what I thought to be the fun part of my ride. In truth it was the scariest ride of my trip, and will be remembered affectionately as {trumpets please}, 'The Death March on Highway 14'!

Traffic had been light up to this point - this changed... and the traffic, combined with steep downhill, no shoulder, and crazy multi-directional winds, all combined to put me in a very compromising situation. At average speeds of 30mph I sped down the hill (20 miles & 4500ft drop) trying to hug the white line as best as possible. Cars, trucks, RV's, whatever would speed by and I could (if I wanted) reach my arm out and touch them. What do you call jet wash on a car? Auto wash?!? Their auto wash, combined with the confused winds, were throwing me every which way but loose.

The situation was tense, but I prevailed. At 3pm I rolled into a HOT Cedar City and was finally able to relax. Strolling through town I noted a hotel sign advertising a $32 special - ding! ding! ding! This is my place. In hopes of seeing a play at the Utah Shakesperean Festival and updating my journal, I booked my room for 2 nights.

Poetry From The Road Series - Volume 1

#3

some people will never change
locked into a life that is living them
no way out but ahead and the dreams of a past lest forgotten
it only takes one decision
- to the left -
- to the right -
dream of the greener grass my friends & break free
for it's only a fence and it's easy to climb over or under


09-29-2003 DAY 19 (Cedar City, UT) - REST DAY & SOME ON STAGE ENTERTAINMENT?!?
Today: 0.0 miles Total: 618 miles 0.0avg-mph

Today's plan: (1) sleep in, (2) find the library and update my journal, (3) purchase a ticket for one of 3 plays - The Little Shop of Horrors, The Comedy of Errors, or The Importance of Being Earnest.

Sleeping in... absolutely no problem. Finding the library - did I mention that I am directionally challenged?!? The play, no such luck - before I even made it to the box office I realized it was Monday. Nevertheless, I stopped by and asked, "Any plays tonight?".

"No plays on Mondays.", came the reply.

I was looking forward to comparing the award winning Shakespeare Festival with that of the festival in my college ama-matre (how do you spell that?), Ashland, Oregon. Oh well, maybe next time.

The last couple of weeks I have been thinking a lot about my music. Not trying - mind you - ideas just keep popping into my head. Maybe it's the clear air?!? Travelling has been an amazing experience, but I'm looking forward to settling down for a bit and setting up a mini-studio. I really miss my guitar and was thinking that I probably should have brought my harmonica along afterall. Oh well, this journal is probably the better for it. =)

09-30-2003 DAY 20 (Virgin, UT) - WOW, ONLY $27 FOR A TENT SITE!?! ;-)
Today: 45.9 miles Total: 664 miles 11.9avg-mph

Over the last 3 weeks I've been noting that when a car, truck, whatever?!? passes me, their eyes turn from the road, to me, and then to their spouse. I wonder how many conversations have gone like this, "Now what the hell does that a**hole think he's doing - doesn't he know he's in the middle of the desert?". =)

Today was late day... I didn't get up until 9:30am and didn't leave town until after noon. I attempted to get up at 7:30am, but that didn't just wasn't gonna happen. I decided to spend the morning at the library updating my journal... but that wasn't gonna happen either. I spent most of my time replying to the numerous emails I had received since the day before... (hmmm, is there a vortex here).

After stopping by the store to buy some fruit, I headed out. Today was to be my first day of Interstate riding - I wasn't looking forward to it. The map claimed that traffic was light, but I beg to differ. At least there were wide shoulders... the main thing that I didn't like was crossing the exits... thankfully there were only a few.

One particulary sketchy spot was littered with what looked like robot parts. I rode over something and my bike all of the sudden felt squishy. Uh-oh, 'flat tire', I thought... but they both looked fine. I was still on the Interstate and was only a mile from my exit, so I forged on.

It continued to feel weird, but everything looked okay from my vantage point. My stop (or so I thought at the time) was only 6 downhill miles from the exit... so again I forged on.

Damn, it was a flat. Only 1 mile from La Verkin and in the scorching sun my rear tire went completely flat. So begins the process: remove all gear, flip the bike, throw the chain (get all greasy), and remove the rear wheel. Upon inspection I found a rather gnarled piece of chicken wire sticking through the tire. I removed it, replaced the tube (oops, only 1 left), and repacked for the remainder of my ride into town.

La Verkin was scary, I didn't like it's vibe at all. The only 2 places to camp were smack dab in the middle of town and eerily resembled something from a white trash horror movie. Virgin was only 6 miles away, and there was a campground there. After going back and forth for no more then a fraction of a second, Virgin it was. Zion was only 20 miles, but it was getting a bit late.

I made it to the campground, pardon me - resort, and they wanted $27+tax for a tent site. It was highweay robbery but I didn't want to push my luck, so I took it. While there I took advantage of all the amenities - pool, hot tub, piano, and free movie.

I went to sleep around 10pm under a huge crecent moon.

10-01-2003 DAY 21 (Springdale, UT)
Today: 20.4 miles Total: 684 miles 9.2avg-mph

Last night was a long night. For some reason I couldn't fall asleep and tossed and turned all night. Luckily it was a short day... I was planning to ride to Zion and stay there for a couple of days.

The ride was uneventful, but I did stop at an organic market along the way to make a lunch of some freshly picked peaches. They were very good, but not quite ripe (as usually is the case).

Springdale, Utah - the tourist town at Zion. It's one long stertch of road with motels, restaurants, and gift shops on every corner... as I rode through, it seemed like it went on forever... but in reality, maybe only 3 miles.

I was hoping to camp in the National Park and was in luck... there were a lot of empty sites. I picked one next to a small stream - still not sure where the water is coming from - setup camp, snagged some free fuel for my stove, and rode into town.

I stopped by the Springdale Cycle Shop for a tube repair kit... of course they're not going to have tubes to fit my odd size tires... this is Mountain Biking country afterall. Turns out I was wrong... the owner Vince is a tourer himself and his store is properly equipped, having just what I needed. So, instead of buying 'just what I needed', I bought 2 new tires, 4 new tubes, a tube repair kit, and a t-shirt. Okay, you may be asking youself - 'How did that happen?'. Well, let me explain... my front tire was old and was cracking... my rear tire was new, but not a touring tire - I could only inflate it to 60psi which created quite a bit of drag... the new tires are 700x32c instead of 38c (thinner), so four new tubes - 2 for the bike and 2 spares... the tube repair kit to save my butt when I'm in the middle of nowhere - I should have had one anyway... the t-shirt because I only have one and I like it.

Vince, the owner, was cool, he showed me the proper way to change a tire and let me use his tools. I met Timmy there too who had a bike which more resembled a motorcycle. The thing was stout and I have never seen tires that wide... I'm sure one could replace the donut spare on your car.

Since I didn't really feel like I had spent enough money, I decided to see the Zion movie on the 6 story (really) big screen. The grand effect of this movie - I miss rock climbing!

Poetry From The Road Series - Volume 1

#4

You are able to move, dance in the wind...
yet your backdrop is stone.

Is this the way it should be?

Dazzle, sparkle, & shine - throwing the light this way and that.

- you are young -
- showing off -

The stone once moved too, you know!


WEEK 4
[this week's pictures]

10-02-2003 DAY 22 (Springdale, UT)
Today: 0.0 miles Total: 684 miles 0.0avg-mph

It's been exactly 3 weeks since I left Austin... the weather thus far has been pristine. Last night was a different, but welcome, story. We had the most amazing thunderstorm I ahve ever been witness to. At first a few drops of rain - oops - time to close my rainfly (I have been sleeping with it open since my 2nd night in Moab for a better view of the stars) - then the lightning (almost as if I were bombarded by a busload of foreign tourists all simultaneously snapping pictures of my campsite) - then the heavy rain (whoops - should probably put my gear under the picnic table) - and finally the thunder. This was the really spectacular part:

{BOOM}
from the left...
...from the right
{BOOM}
no that was an echo
are you sure?
it's everywhere
behind and above me
{BOOM}
now under me

I am in awe!


After waking and having breakfast, I decided to hunt down an authentic Indian flute. Should be easy in a town like this, yes? I neglected to buy one while in Peru, and I'm currently without a musical instrument... so, why not!?!

Let me preface this by saying, "I hate to shop - especially in touristy gift shops!". So, the first place I went - no luck, but they had rain sticks. The second place - nope, but they too had rain sticks. The third place I went - no flutes, but guess what?!? they had rain sticks. I'm from the Pacific Northwest, now why would I want a rainstick? =) Actually I do want one, but in this case I'm looking for something a little more challenging.

Well, it appears that the fourth time is actually the charm. I found a beautiful handmade Navajo flute. I tried out a couple, and not really knowing too much about what I was doing... bought the best looking one. I couldn't wait to get back to my campsite to fiddle (or is it flute ;-) around with it.

After 20 minutes of very horrific sounds... wouldn't you know it, it stops working. I blow, but no sound comes out. Bummer! Back to the gift shop to exchange it.

After an inquisition that would have made the Spaniards blush with envy, they let me choose a different flute. This time, being a highly accomplished flute player, I played them all and chose the best sounding one. =)

I barely made it back to camp before the rain. THOSE DAMN RAVENS!!! This time they pecked apart one of my panniers and the waist strap of my raincoat... I feel somewhat satisfied knowing that they weren't able to get to my food. Okay, everything in the tent - hopefully they won't tear it apart.

Since it had started to rain, I figured it would be a great time to take the shuttle through Zion Canyon. On the shuttle I would stay dry (if that lady in front of me would close her window) and partake in the viewing of waterfalls galore. At the last stop, The Temple of Sinawava, I left the shuttle to hike the Riverwalk Trail and then back into the Narrows - you know, where are those cool canyon photos are taken of the swirly red rock and the perfect sunlight. The rain had pretty much stopped and a smell reminiscent of that first fall shower was in the air. I hiked the paved Riverwalk Trail to the end, then through and up the river into the Narrows. The water was a little chilly - but it did clean off my feet. =) By the way, just after a thunderstorm is not the safest time to be hiking through the canyons - just thought I would throw that out there. =)

The hike was gorgeous and I must have taken close to one hundred photos (Bryce Canyon eat your heart out). At a small waterfall the weather started to look a bit menacing, so I decided to turn around. By the time I made it back, the sun was shining and I was getting hungry... so back to camp.

Back at camp I decided to help myself to some of that tasty grub that the ravens so ravenously (note: root = raven) tore my campsite apart for. Then onto some music... I think I've almost figured out the scale on my flute... and preliminary test reveal that it may not be chromatic and it's definitely not a full octave.


Definition

raven (rA-v&n): n. - a large glossy black corvine bird (Corvus corax) of Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and America; one who hacks a campers site to pieces, punctures his toothpaste, and eats his food while he is away (see also squirrel).


10-03-2003 DAY 23 (Springdale, UT)
Today: 7.5 miles Total: 692 miles 10.9avg-mph

Rain Rain Go Away... Come Again Another Day!

It started to rain again about 4:30am, and by 8:30... it hadn't let up. I laid in my sleepingbag for awhile & practiced playing my flute... yeah! I've almost got Greensleeves down.

I'm not too excited about packing a wet tent and riding in the rain... so it looks like I'm staying an extra day. I think tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and there are definitely worse places I could be... in fact, I really like it here. I'm even digging the weather.

After stripping myself from my warm sleepingbag, I caught the shuttle into town and had a long breakfast. Instead of writing, I reverted to my old habit of reading... right now I'm reading two books: Shardik a novel about a bear prophet by Richard Adams (Watership Down fame) and Desolation Angels by none other than the father of beat, Jack Kerouac. Today I was in the mood for Shardik.

After breakfast I went to the library and spent WAY TOO MUCH time on the computer. There's a half-hour limit normally, but if no one is waiting you can spend as much time as you want. For me that was 2 hours... just enough time to catch up. Now I can spend a few days away from the computer (& since I'm in Rockdale writing this - it was more then a FEW days ;-).

Back at camp I fooled around with my flute for a bit & organized my gear for an early departure the next morning. Before I left I wanted to drop by the Organic Fruit Market again & pick up some good treats for the road... little did I know that this one trip to the market would prove to delay my overall trip by another 4 days. =)

Upon entering the market I noticed a lovely redhead standing at the back of the store... I bought some fruit and some other goodies and mosied on up to the register. Melinda (like the hot sauce I was buying, as she pointed out) had run into each other two days before at the bike shop. Nothing special, just a quick hello. She remembered me and asked about my trip. While talking, a long line had formed at the register - so we said our goodbyes and went outside to eat some of the peaches I had bought. I almost left, but decided I couldn't leave without asking Melinda out for the evening... so I went back in to replace the peaches I had eaten.

This time I wasn't so lucky, Melinda was on the phone with a customer - so I bought the peaches from Sven and went outside to leave a note on her car.

Melinda, or Moulanda Rouge as her friends call her, caught me as I was leaving... we chatted for a bit & she invited me to a funk show that evening at the Bit & Spur... the local bar. You don't have to ask me twice... a beautiful woman, live music... sign me up! =) Before I left, we agreed to meet before the show to better aquaint ourselves with one another. Her only warning, "Watch out, I can dance!". ;-)

And dance she could... it was something reminicent of Rick James Superfly meets Richard Simmons Deal O' Meal - if that makes any sense?!? If you can't picture it, don't worry - take it from me, it was actually quite impressive.

Poetry From The Road Series - Volume 1

#5

The day that I didn't care, everything seemed to live in a dream.
Have you ever seen an apple that was orange?
I have.
But oranges are apples and today I feel fine.
I wouldn't mind hiding behind that wall, but it's actually only a long line of toothpaste stream.
If I wanted clean teeth I would be in a world all my own... like that guy!
Look at that smile - rivals the sun - such a brilliant persona - a God!
Would the moon be jealous - or is it just me?


10-04-2003
thru
10-07-2003
DAY 24 - 27 (Springdale, UT)
Today: 7.4 miles Total: 700 miles ?avg-mph

Zion was amazing - while she wasn't working, Melinda and I played flutes under the moon by the river, ate veggie-sushi, crammed into her Cadillac turned Winnebego or my 1/2 person tent (we should be on a Marmot commercial - See, you CAN fit two people in our incredibley tiny tent), listened to Kerouac beat his blues, and in general just enjoyed each others company. Solo - I hiked to emerald pools & exposed peaks (if I only had a backpack), read, wrote, and took many pictures (I'm not a real photographer, but I play one on TV). =)

What great times... but as is the case - all great times must come to an end (is that really the case?!? I must change this...). Melinda's an amazing friends and maybe someday we'll cross paths again. In the meantime, if you stop by the Fruit Market in Springdale, say hi for me.

Things to do while in Zion:
1. Hike the Narrows (yes, through the river)
2. Angel's Landing (warning: not for the faint of heart)
3. Eat @ Oscar's (great food and VERY friendly staff)
4. See a show at the Bit & Spur
5. Although I didn't do this - apparently Karaoke is big at Sol Foods every other Friday night
6. Most importantly - Sit under the stars

Mileage Correction

I've finally figured out my bike computer - there's a setting which has been set to 26(1.9) since I started this trip. Hmmm... what does that mean?!? Best to just leave it alone. Today my computer froze up and as I was resetting it, I realized that setting was for the size of the tires. While riding to Hanksville a couple of weeks ago I noted that my mileage was off by 1 mile for every 40 miles. This is why... I don't have 26 x 1.9" tires - I have 700 x 32c tires. From here on out, I've adjusted the total mileage to the correct number.


10-08-2003 DAY 28 (Kanab, UT)
Today: 33.5 miles Total: 750 miles 12.6avg-mph

Back on the road! Today I needed to ride through the Zion Tunnels, but bicycles aren't allowed through the mile long west tunnel, so I needed to find a ride. Already taken care of - yesterday Michael and Lucy (my camping neighbors) offered me a ride since they were leaving at the same time - how could I refuse? =)

Melinda and I spent the better part of the morning packing, talking, eating vegan muffins, and trying to figure out who put my candle in our pot f hot water (which melted and created a really cool wax lid) - if you're reading this and you happen to be the culprit - come clean... we won't be mad. =)

Before heading out I needed to mail another package to myself in Texas. Shoes - which I have used only once (maybe I should do a Teva commercial too), a CD of my pictures I had made at the local photo shop, 2 new sarongs for me and Costa (my VW Bus), a book, and a map. 5 pounds when all is said and done.

Back at camp Melinda and I said our goodbyes (a sad and happy occassion), I crawled into the back of Michael & Lucy's camper with my bike and we were off. The views weren't the best from the camper windows, but who am I to complain. I cut off about 7 or 8 miles of steep uphill - I wasn't terribly upset.

Riding through the tunnels brought back some distant childhood memories - I'm pretty sure I have been here before, but I was pretty young. Looking out the windows I could see why bikes weren't allowed... I wouldn't want to ride through the tunnel.

At the East Entrance to Zion, I was dropped off - complete with an invite to stay with Lucy in Tempe. I loaded my gear and rode up the road. Although I really dug Springdale, it felt good to be moving again. So good in fact that I had to stop a mile down the road to compose myself - and maybe eat a little more breakfast too. =)

The ride to Kanab was nice... there were some picturesque ponds along the side of the road which receded into dark caves. There was also one tourist stop, for me at least, Moqui Cave. I was riding by, and I like caves, so I decided to stop in. Moqui Cave was a cave turned bar/dance hall turned museum. It proprietor, Lex, showed me around the cave which had all kinds of cool stuff - such as, flourescent minerals, fossilized dinosaur tracks, and even a black light oasis. At first the $4 entry fee seemed kind of steep, but I felt such peace there that it was more than worth it. Plus Lex really took his time to show me around & explain the artifacts.

After taking a couple of pictures of the outside, I was off to Kanab - about 5 miles away.

I arrived in Kanab around 3pm and was very hungry, so I stopped for lunch and rode to the library to check my email. No emails - at least that weren't junk.

There was a hostel in town and an RV Park/Campground. I thought I would check out the hostel, but as has been the case on this trip - they're open sign really meant 'Sorry, We're Closed', so I rode to the RV Park and treated myself to one of their cabins (ahh! a real bed). =)

The RV Park is on Hwy 89 and every other vehicle driving by so far has been a big truck with an exhaust problem. Huh, maybe they don;t believe in mufflers in Kanab. So much for a peaceful nights sleep - although I am pretty wiped out.

WEEK 5
[this week's pictures]

10-09-2003 DAY 29 (Jacob Lake, AZ)
Today: 39.1 miles Total: 789 miles 9.2avg-mph

Oh joy! Today I got to climb back up to the higher elevations that I'd been missing. ;-) Thirty miles of uphill brought me to the town, service stop, whatever?!? of Jacob Lake. From here I can ride to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon - 45 miles away and 90 miles off-route. Today's ride left me thinking I might skip it though - the weather's supposed to turn & me knee has started to hurt again. I've already been to the South Rim so I won't feel like I'm missing too much.

I arrived in Jacob Lake around 2pm, which is actually 3, since Arizona doesn't participate in daylight savings. On second thought - maybe Arizona is right and it is actually 2. Although the state doesn't adjust it's clocks, the Navajo Reservations do - so it might be interesting when I ride through them. Back & forth, back & forth.

For lunch I stopped at the Jacob Lake Inn. Finally a beer without a limit on it's alcohol percentage. Utah beer is capped at 4%, which is up from it's previous 3.2%. Dueling Banjos came over the radio, a little eerie, especially out here in the middle of nowehere. =)

After lunch I rode to the USFS Campground - which closes tomorrow. Good timing! A day later and I would have had to stay at the motel - which was actually booked, so, homeless again!?! I rode through the park, most spaces were empty... but one called to me like Angelic Voices falling from heaven. =) It wasn't anything special, and I'm still not sure why I liked it... but I did. I setup camp and lounged in the sun - trying to store as much heat as possible - it's going to be a COLD night.

Changing the subject a little - let's talk about tires - more specifically my new tires. I've had the chance to ride on them both up and downhill. I like them... switching from 38's to 32's was a good decision. My bike is a little less stable under load, but the lack of drag more than makes up for it.

Before the sun went down I was walking around camp and was reminded of a story my mom once told me about how her and her brothers used to carve rings when they were camping to pass the time (is that a run-on sentence? maybe some commas?). In Costa Rica this past July I had a discussion with my friend Michelle about natural vs. synthetic jewelry - specifically piercings and energy blocking. Michelle used her wisdom teeth in her gauged ears - which I thought was pretty cool. I had acrylic plugs which I wanted to replace with wood - so I hunted around camp for some sticks and carved myself some new earrings. I like them, I think they turned out well. The true test though will be to see if I can sleep with them.

Kerouac sayeth - 'The moon she come peekin', and shrouded by her veil - tonight she be big and bright.

Poetry From The Road Series - Volume 1

#6

My legs are the tree trunks consumed by minds fire.
A prophet, a wiseman - spurred on by desire.
My thoughts piercing bullets with nothing concealed -
All losing their meaning as I cease turning the wheels.



10-10-2003 DAY 30 (North Rim, Grand Canyon)
Today: 45.3 miles Total: 835 miles 11.6avg-mph

So indecisive! Yesterday I had it all figured out...

After Zion & Bryce, the Grand Canyon was nothing more than a large hole in the ground.
- lady at Jacob Lake Campground

... skip the Grand Canyon and ride to Marble Canyon - the Navajo Bridge - leading me out of the Arizona strip (who's claim to fame is being the last wild place in the continental United States). This morning I wasn't so sure - I'm here - why not go?

A funny clown for which I'm down
upon my like... forever stuck
on the out with no route
- and you -
you've got it all figured out.

Right now you, the reader, have the advantage - you can read ahead - you know if I went to the North Rim or not!?! But as I sit eating breakfast, I just don't know. It's a beautiful morning though, albeit quite cloudy to the south. Hmmm... this will more then likely be one of those occassions where I jump on my bike and let it decide. =)

Into the Heart of Darkness

As I rode to the junction my mind was racing - left or right - left or right? In the end, I just wasn't ready to leave the pnderosas behind, so right - to the Grand Canyon it was. Plus, whenever I tell someone about my trip - I'm sure they'll ask if I went to the Grand Canyon, being literally the biggest attraction on my route. This way I don't have to make up some lame excuse. =)

It was a beautiful ride, but as I got closer to the rim - so did the darker clouds. No problem, so far everyone assured me it wasn't going to rain. "It's been like this for weeks and it hasn't rained yet.", they'd say.

Okay - at this point I need to apologize as I've left you in the dark about something (and another reason I wanted to ride to the North Rim)... my friend Roberta. If she was on schedule, I should be seeing her today - and sure enough, as I rounded a bend about 18 miles into my day, there she was... riding towards me in the opposite direction.

It was really nice to see her again... it's almost been 3 weeks (or som my journal says). We stopped and talked for about 20 minutes - longer would have been nice - but she had a really long ride ahead of her (and was sick) and the clouds were still moving my way.

Roberta is cool - I hope I get to see her again... she really made my day (which as you'll see, proceeded to get much worse).

WARNING! The following few paragraphs may not be appropriate for younger readers. WARNING!

Today's ride wasn't hard - but it seemed to drag on - more uphill then down, but rolling and easy. Hmmm, thos clouds are getting worse!?! No worries, I was assured it wouldn't rain, remember?!? There's the kiosk, only 12 miles to the rim - drop drop - what was that?!? Splash - drop drop - splash! Damn, it's rain... oh well, it probably won't be that bad - always the optimist.

Shit! It's raining hard, it's cold, it's windy. Plus it's downhill - which turned out to be a mixed blessing. You get there faster, but have a colder time doing it.

My mistakes for the day - packing my raingear at the bottom of my panniers and being too lazy to fish it out.

Only 11 miles no problem... 8 miles - this isn't that bad - 5 miles, stay positive Stephen - 3 miles, screw the campground, I'm getting a room - 1 mile, this is MISERABLE, I can't feel my feet and my arms are all tingly - phew! I'm there!!! =)

As I rode up to the lodge I received the strangest looks... shorts, sandals, and soaking wet. I climbed off my bike but could barely move - I hobbled into the lodge and apparently today was my lucky day - they had exactly one room left (apparently this place is booked a year in advance), due to a cancellation. A cabin with a single and a double bed - and get this, a heater and a hot shower. =) I had absolutely NO problem paying the $98 (which is a lot by my standards - especially on this trip - but cheaper then I expected). I've paid a lot more for a lot less.

After all was settled, I walked my bike to the cabin (still raining). I quickly (I was really shiverring at this point) unloaded my bike and moved all my gear inside. First - turn on the heater - second, arrange wet clothes over my bike near the heater - third, HOT shower.

I step out of the shower warm and content and get dressed. What the hell?!? It's sunny outside... there's not a cloud in the sky. How did this happen? Bad karma?!? Maybe... or possibly just the weather in the Southwest.

A large hole in the ground it is not... lady from campground!!! This place is absolutely amazing. With the sun out I was able to explore a bit and the first views made me glad I had come... rain and all. Last time I was here, at the South Rim, I couldn't believe what I was seeing - and nothing has changed. In reality though, my whole trip has been that way - one big WOW!

At sunset I hiked around the rim taking pictures. At the South Rim I could see others doing the same - hundreds of flashing fireflies all hoping to catch a last glimpse of the sun.

10-11-2003 DAY 31 (North Rim, Grand Canyon)
Today: 6.4 miles Total: 841 miles 8.2avg-mph

I was awoken by noisy neighbors to a picture perfect day. It was a little after 6am, and a bit chilly (although not cold) - so I turned on the heater and sat in front of it reading about Utah and Arizona's National Parks. Hey, I've been there & there!?!

At 7am I decided to walk to the lodge to try out the buffet Roberta had recommended. Along the way I noticed a van with the stenciling - Transcanyon Shuttle - written along the side. Hmmm... this got me thinking.

My original plan was to hit both the South and the North Rims, but then I altered course through Sedona - which skipped the South Rim, and as you already know I almost skipped the North Rim. The Transcanyon Shuttle takes you from the North to the South Rim and vice-versa. By changing my route a little and taking the shuttle I'll get to skip the 200 miles or so of vast nothingness and I'll get to spend some time at the South Rim. From there I'm not too sure which direction I'll head - east into the valley or south to the Interstate. Both directions lead me to Flagstaff and both have their problems.

When I called the shuttle company, I only wanted to ask them if they transported bicycles - by the time I hung up the phone I had a confirmed reservation for the next morning. Now how did that happen?!? =)

Checkout was at 11am and I intended to use every last minute of that $98 room as possible. After checking out I rode to the campground where I only had to pay $4 for a site (since I'm a hiker/biker). Hmmm... $4 - $98... you do the math! =) And what a site it was - the hiker/biker sites were directly on the edge of the rim - oh what a view! =)

For the next few hours I lounged around camp, read, bouldered on some easy but exposed rocks, and basked in the sunshine that I wished would have been around for my ride the day before.

The grasshoppers here fly & snap beat fingers -
dazzling butterfly yellow.

I just realized it has been exactly one month since I left Austin. Not a bad place to spend my 1 month anniversary. I celebrated with a couple of beers at the bar (voted best tavern at the North Rim in 2000 - which is odd since I didn't notice any other taverns) and a wonderful dinner at the lodge.

Now is where the fun begins. I'm not sure what posessed me to go back to the tavern - but I did. 7% beer (were not in Utah anymore Toto) at 8200ft hits you fast and hard. Sitting next to me was Charlie & we struck up a conversation that was to last well into the night.

A better conversation never had - than over a couple of beers.

Charlie had dinner reservations at 9pm and invited me along (thanks for the dinner Charlie)... I hadn't eaten since five, so, dinner #2. I wonder how often people have done that?!? =) Our server Shellee was cool & she let us in on all of the secrets to getting a job at the North Rim... something our drunk minds were most interested in.

I think I would really enjoy seasonal work. Maybe something I should think about?!?

After talking for another hour or so... Charlie and I stumbled to our respective places of sleep. I had to ride my bike back to the campground which was a mile away - you should have seen it, it was really quite comical. At this point I was pretty smashed and was sure I was going to miss the shuttle the next morning. Get up at 5:30am, yeah right!?!

10-12-2003 DAY 32 (South Rim, Grand Canyon)
Today: 4.1 miles Total: 845 miles 10.4avg-mph

I woke from a heavy sleep (was I passed out?) to the sound of my neighbors breaking camp - it's pitch black outside - but looking at my clock showed that it was 5:30am - huh?!? I guess there was a little sun peeking over the horizon. Maybe I would make the shuttle afterall.

Everyone's up with the sun -
& I'm just late for the bus.

The sunrise was gorgeous, but it was hard to enjoy since I wasn't feeling very well (why do I drink again?!? something I'm starting to come to terms with more and more every day). I packed up quickly and rode to the lodge to meet the shuttle. Plenty of time to spare. There were 2 shuttles, my bike and gear went on one, I went on the other.

From the front seat of the van I was able to appreciate all of the beauty that I missed while sufferring through the rain two days before. Oh, the colors - apparently this has been an odd year for weather which has added to the splendor of the trees. With the scenery so amazing I was really wishing I was on my bike - the scenery passed by so fast - was that a little frost?!? By the time we passed Jacob Lake I was more content to kick back and let the day take me where it may (which wouldn't be too much of a surprise - I knew where I was going remember).

As we dropped off the plateau (it seemed a shame to waste such a beautiful downhill ride in a van) and out of the trees - the Vermillion Cliffs materialized in all of their early morning glory. Soon we were passing a small community called Cliff Dwellers... and cliff dwellers they were - at the bottom of the giant cliffs and under gigantic rocks perched on tiny weathered away pedestals, they've built their homes. I actually thought they were quite ingenious, but I'm not sure I'd want to spend a lot of time in one - those rocks have to fall sometime.

Next, Marble Canyon and the newly constructed Navajo Bridge - which sitting next to the old, is identical in design, only wider and a few feet longer.

The rest of the trip was fairly uneventful. What is only a distance of 10 miles as the crow flies, took us 215 miles and 5 hours by car (3 days by bike). The roads were extremely busy and there were absolutely no shoulders - in some cases the white lines had even eroded away.

The shoulders have disappeared - into Negative Space.

After arriving at the Bright Angel Lodge, I collected my gear, repacked my bike, and mosied on down to the Mather Campground. It's funny, it's only been a little over three years since I have been here, but absolutely nothing looks familiar.

By this time I'm starving (maybe the alcohol has finally worn off), so I switch into hurricane mode and setup camp. Off to lunch and to catch up on my writing.

After eating I hiked around the rim - still nothing looks familiar. I had a completely different picture painted in my head, huh?!? Still it was gorgeous, but I think the 1 to 10 person ration between the North and the South Rims is a little underestimated. More like 1 to 50... but still, it was GORGEOUS! =)

10-13-2003 DAY 33 (South Rim, Grand Canyon)
Today: 18.5 miles Total: 864 miles ?avg-mph

This morning I slept in... 7:30am... which sounds kind of odd coming from me. Of course when you go to bed at 8 o-clock - and for those of you that know me, thats PM not AM. =) I was extremely tired last night, and today I feel fine.

After a quick but leisurely breakfast I walked down to the rim to write (which ironically is what I'm doing right now). I found a spot off the trail where I could sit right on the edge and look down about 500ft. From the trail it looked rather suicidal...

Above the Ravens I sit
looking 2 billion years into their history
do they care?

...but from my vantage point on the edge, it was actually quite safe. As people walked by I heard many comments like the following:

Look at the kid there... oh my gosh!... Mom, he's stupid... you couldn't get me to do that... Mom, is that a good or a bad idea? Bad, honey.

A general note to everyone, "People - I can hear you!". =) My intent tranquility... in actuality I grew tired of all the comments - so off to a new adventure.

Apparently today is a holiday - Columbus Day I'm told - that explains why it's so busy. Since leaving for Peru last March, I've been so out of touch with these things. Today could have been Christmas and I probably wouldn't have known it. =)

Leave the country - even for a short while - and my mind goes to hell.
But a nice hell - the kind with mountains and flowers.

After an awful lunch I was feeling that my bicycle might be a little neglected, so I went on a 20 mile ride to Hermit's Rest. The road was pretty rough, but it was only open to shuttle buses... so the traffic wasn't too bad. There were viewpoints all along the road and a small lodge/gift shop at the end - apparently a place of rest back in the stagecoach days. A view of the lodge's fireplace is worth the trip alone - if you like that sort of thing - and if not, there are some pretty spectacular views of the Canyon and Colorado River.

By the time I got back it was getting dark and I was getting hungry. I debated whether to eat at the loadge or cook something in camp - it wasn't a long debate mind you - in the end the veggie fajitas won out - off to the lodge.

I prefer to eat alone, it's not as lonely.

The walk back to camp (about 2 miles) was grand. I could have taken the shuttle, but the stars were out and the people weren't. I walked along the rim, noting the Big Dipper sitting low above the canyon - almost as if it had just finished creating it - and at the bottom, campfires creating their own little solar system.

What is it about night that can turn a tree into a spider?

The waning moon hadn't yet made her appearance for the evening - la luna loca - but I could just make out the path. Crickets were high on their songs whose lullabies were carried off by the gentle breeze. I made it back to camp for a good nights sleep.

10-14-2003 DAY 34 (Williams, AZ)
Today: 63.7 miles Total: 928 miles 10.8avg-mph

The hiker/biker sites are great, but they have one disadvantage - they're always situated right next to the group sites - which in my experience has been late to bed and early to rise and very, very noisy. This morning was no exception and all I wanted to do was sleep in. I was having this crazy dream and right as it was coming to a conclusion - woken up... now I'll never know how it ends. =)

Today I decided to ride south to Williams instead of southeast to Flagstaff, which would have been an 85 mile trip over a high pass. Tomorrow I'll ride to Flagstaff along historic Route 66. Although it's not on my map I've been assured it's there and not as busy as I-40.

Valle was my lunch stop for the day - about 30 miles south of the Grand Canyon. 'Whoa, check that place out!?!', I think, 'It's the Flintstone's Village - cool!!!'. At this point the kid came out in me and I just had to eat there.

The rest of the way into Williams - 30 miles - I felt a little ill. I don;t think the food was tainted, but maybe all the grease was. In any case - less fried foods. I've been avoiding them as much as possible, but every now and then, ugh!?!

About halfway between Valle and Williams I saw a squirrel playing in the road - which inspired the following song. It was cool at first, but then I couldn't get the song out of my head. Megan, you will like this... it's strangely reminiscent of the Grover Kitty Song. =)

Get out of the way - squirrel.
Get out of the way - squirrel.
You surely won't last,
Those cars are so fast,
If you - play on the road!

Thos cars are so fast - squirrel.
Thos cars are so fast - squirrel.
You surely will die,
Unless you can fly,
If you - play on the road!

Unless you can fly - squirrel.
Unless you can fly - squirrel.
You surely won't last,
You'll be put in a cast,
If you - play in the road.

...now repeat 5,624 times!

Driven mad by my own song!

About 4 miles south of Williams was the Kaibab Lake Campground, and it was open. I was pretty beat and had plenty of food for camping, so I turned in - it was only a mile out of the way. Upon getting there I found it was only partially oen - no water or bathrooms - but it was free. I was tired and still not feeling well, so I seriously thought about staying (I could boil the lake water afterall), but Williams was only five miles away, so off I went.

Williams is a cool town - there's not much to it, but it does make you feel like you're back in the 50's (or what I would imagine the 50's to be like). I found a campsite at the RV Park - nothing special, but they do have showers. I've stayed in worse places and been in worse towns.

Get you're kicks, on Route 66.

10-15-2003 DAY 35 (Flagstaff, AZ)
Today: 35.4 miles Total: 963 miles 12.3avg-mph

Yesterday I inquired in the campground office about a non-interstate route to Flagstaff. Old Hwy 66 wasn't on any of my maps - nor was any other route. 29 miles to Flagstaff via busy highway wasn't exactly something I was looking forward to... but alas, there was an alternate route. It was on the Arizona Highway Map - silly me though - I forgot to ask if it was paved?!? =)

Overall the ride was nice - a little hilly, a little rough - but the scenery was gorgeous and I wasn't on the Interstate, at least for the first 20 miles. The last 10 miles was on the Interstate.

I couldn't shake the feeling that today I would get another flat. Such the pesimest I am - I won't get a flat, I have new tires, remeber - bad thoughts be gone!!!

About one mile out of downtown Flagstaff, wouldn't you know it - a flat - and my rear tire at that... what a surprise?!? La Verkin Deja Vu! I couldn't believe it - did I will this to happen? Oh well, at least I'm getting plenty of experience fixing flats.

There weren't any campgrounds close to downtown, so I opted for a cheap motel. I dropped off my bike in my room and was off to the Flagstaff Brewery for some lunch.

Downtown (historic) Flagstaff is great - there's live music every night & poetry readings, something you don't see too often anymore. Tonight - Michelle Shocked at the Mogollon Brewery. =) A little political/folk music never hurt anyone and I was in the mood for a show.

After spending too much time and too much money (usually the case) at the Brewery - I headed down to another bar to check out a local musician and then off to the Mogollon.

Flagstaff - Good Music - Good People!

WEEK 6
[this week's pictures]

10-16-2003 DAY 36 (Flagstaff, AZ)
Today: 0.0 miles Total: 963 miles 0.0avg-mph

Plan for today - see Quentin Tarantino's new movie, 'Kill Bill Volume 1'. That's it. I've been pretty excited about seeing this since I first saw the preview in Blanding. Flagstaff is the first place I've been with a theater since its release.

I was not disappointed - Great Movie! Not only was it visually stunning, but the musical score was amazing. If you haven't already seen it - know that it comes highly recommended.

Tonight there's a jazz trio at the Wine Bar which I'd like to check out. Lately, I've really been digging classical and jazz.

10-17-2003 DAY 37 (Sedona, AZ)
Today: 31.0 miles Total: 994 miles 15.3avg-mph

I woke to a day just like any other - but with one difference, today I was riding to Sedona... a place I've wanted to visit for many, many years. I took my time getting ready as Sedona was only 30 miles away and mostly downhill.

Sedona has a reputation for 2 things - being touristy & being new agey. The tourists (myself excluded) I could do without, but I did want to see what the new age hype was all about.

My motel in Flagstaff was at a confluence of three major highways and traffic was relentless. I've been scared riding my bike now three times - the Hwy 14 Death March, riding into Flagstaff, and riding out of Flagstaff... all the way to Sedona.

It's Friday today and traffic was crazy - plus there were no shoulders, lots of curves, and amazing scenery to gawk at - all combining to make a fairly dangerous situation for riding. At one point the road descended into a canyon (reminded me of Washington) and I actually had a car in front of me that was slowing me down - a fun & fast change of pace. =) Mostly though I was doing my best to stay on the road and not crash.

Every once in awhile the traffic would lighten enough for me to admire the scenery - gorgeous. I can see why people like it here. One particular stretch of road (thankfully no cars were close) I rode off the side of the road... going fast... and bounced back into the road - I came very close to practicing a front handlebar handspring (something I'm quite good at in mountain biking), but since I was going fast - momentum pulled me through. Lucky for me there were a lot of people around to see it. =) Oh well, I didn't crash!

Riding into Sedona I noticed one thing - it looks like one BIG gift shop. I checked out an RV Park on the way in - but it was a bit scary & will definiteley be a LAST resort. I'm hoping the Hostel (which is also cheaper then the RV Park) has a bed - but that I won't know until 5pm. I did ride by to check it out & happened to stumble across the Oak Creek Brewery - which I wanted to find for lunch anyway. =)

After lunch I walked around and checked out a sampling of the plethera of galleries. There are some amazing artists here. My favorite was a photographer who had photos which more resembled paintings - so vivid.

Around 5pm I rode over to the Hostel and had no problem getting a bed (something I would come to regret later that night). Nevertheless I unloaded my stuff and setup a 3 day basecamp. My plan was to take a daytrip to Montezuma's Castle National Monument, a 60 mile roundtrip, and have some time to check out Sedona. Sundar, the manager, gave me the low-down on things to do... I have so far only seen the touristy side of Sedona (the Eastside)... good news... West Sedona is hopping & there was no shortage of nighttime recreation. I walked a couple of miles to the Westside to see what was going on...

My lucky day... the Canyon Moon Theater Company was performing a play that evening and in only a few minutes. Sign me up. =) 'I Hate Hamlet' was exceptional use of my time - seeing a good play is magical and something I only learned to appreciate my last years of college. When the lights went down, my spirits rose, and for the next 2.5 hours I was in heaven.

After the play I was feeling good and inspired - I wanted to walk back to the hostel and write - but the enchanting sounds of ghostly female vocals drew me in to the Martini Bar next door. Ambient/folk - I was mesmerized. =)

Poetry From The Road Series - Volume 1

#7

You hide behind your veil of distance, ready to make an appearance.
An enigma with a hint of truth - too much - I'm here.

I'm waiting!

It's me though - I've created this beautiful tension - I've kept you waiting.

I've kept the world waiting.

But the world can wait... will wait...
You I hold too much respect, you I will see - soon - together!

- we dance our words -

Under the same sultry moon.

#8

I liked it when
we danced our words
meant everything and implied nothing
about our feelings with the ones we loved
we too could be happy!


10-18-2003 DAY 38 (Sedona, AZ)
Today: 8.2 miles Total: 1003 miles 9.3avg-mph

I want to tell you a little story... 4 guys in a small hostel dorm - 3 go sleepless as 1 proceeds to produce a snoring sound (& it was loud - of course everything seems louder when you're trying to sleep) which was larger than life. And that's it... I told you it was a little story. =)

After eating breakfast with my fellow dormmate Pasha, I headed down to the coffee place, ordered some herbal tea, and paid for 15 minutes on the Internet. Now, if I had let you in on the details that I'm about to let you in on, you may ask yourself, "Now why would he pay for the Internet when he can go to the library and use it for free?".

A very good question my friends and one which I am more than happy to answer. You see, the computers at the library were normal old PC's while the laptops at the coffeeplace were suave and sexy Macintosh iBooks - the older ones with the colorful clamshell cases. They're cool (I can just see my friend Eric with the biggest 'I told you so!' grin on his face) and I had never used one before, so... being a PC Software Engineer - actually I take that back, it should read - when I need to make money, I perform the tasks of a PC Software Engineer - I do, not I am! I'm somehat of an anomaly among my peers, but yes - I do prefer Macs (sorry Dad). =) But enough about computers...

My day was pretty lazy... I walked around Sedona - not really doing much. I was in search of another playhouse, or maybe new-agey concert info for the evening - but no luck. I spent most of the day reading.

For dinner I walked down to the Heartline Cafe and ate at their bar. This is where I met Lisa. We had the same basic philosophies on life, so we ate - talked - and then retired to the Martini Bar to listen to some music. Around 10pm she dropped me off at the hostel and being exhausted, I laid down on the couch and quickly fell asleep.

10-19-2003 DAY 39 (Sedona, AZ)
Today: 0.0 miles Total: 1003 miles 0.0avg-mph

I've pretty much given up on the day trip to Montezuma's Castle... enter laziness - exit ambition. No worries though - I plan to visit tomorrow on my way to my friends house in Anthem. And speaking of laziness... other than see the movie 'Lost in Translation', today I did pretty much nothing.

The last few days I have been feeling - for lack of a better word - done! I have seen so much beauty and had such great experiences - I feel my trip is complete. Plus, after Utah and Arizona - the ride through New Mexico & Texas would be pretty tame... I never thought I would ever say this, but after almost a year, I'm ready to go back to work - or at least to settle somewhere for a bit. In light of this, today I bought a Greyhound ticket for Texas leaving this Saturday.

10-20-2003 DAY 40 (Camp Verde, AZ)
Today: 41.1 miles Total: 1044 miles 13.0avg-mph

I left Sedona - and in my haste left behind my lock. If anyone reading this stays at the Sedona Hostel and see's a gold cable lock tied to the fence, send me an email & I'll send you the combo - it's yours! =)

The ride out of Sedona was beautiful - I took Hwy 179 south to I-17, which was another scary ride. Out of my whole trip - this stretch of rode had the heaviest traffic... and the road was terrible - bumpy, full of potholes, and no shoulders. Oh well, I'm used to this by now - overall the roads in Arizona have been pretty bicycle un-friendly.

Around 2ish I rode into Camp Verde and immediately headed for Montezuma's Castle. What a cool, albeit small, place! If you're into ruins - this is a must see.

The five-story, 20-room cliff dwelling served as a "high-rise apartment building" for prehistoric Sinagua Indians over 600 years ago.
- National Park Service

There wasn't much to see other than the castle so I didn't stay long. Riding into town I was looking for a campground - but no luck, the closest was 10 miles out of town so... off to lunch and a motel. Riding through town I came across a nursery/bar - huh?!? What a novel idea - drink a beer and buy a rhododendron. =)

After checking into a motel off the freeway, I decided to walk across the street to get something to eat. There was construction and it was dark. In the middle of the street there were two curbs (which obviously were there for a reason) about 2 feet apart. I hopped into the center of the curbs on my way to the other side of the road, but (yes, they were there for a reason) the ground was a foot deeper between the curbs and I completely bit it. I tripped and fell flat on my face, banging my leg and slicing my toe in the process. Hmmm... I can ride 1100 miles along these dangerous roads - but I can't seem to cross one on foot. ;-) In any case, my toe was bleeding very badly so I hobbled back to the motel to clean my wounds. Later I did cross that street, without incident, and found myself some food... and a job offer at that (live-in gardener in Eugene, OR). =)

10-21-2003
thru
10-23-2003
DAY 41 - 43 (Anthem, AZ)
Today: 63.0 miles Total: 1107 miles 12.8avg-mph

Currently Phoenix is having a record heatwave... it's supposed to be 103 degrees there and guess where it is that I'm going?

The Great Arizona Grasshopper Massacre
- coming to a theater near you -

Today was one of the longest rides, on THE hottest day, and all on a busy interstate highway. What a way to end a trip - if you're going to go out - you might as well go out with a bang! =)

A little bit into my day - abnormally large grasshoppers started appearing along the sides of the road - where I was riding. At first there were only a few here and there - easy to avoid - but soon they were everywhere. I think they were mating. I did my best to avoid hitting them, and I felt terrible when I did, but there wasn't much I could do. This lasted for about thirty miles and I must have looked pretty funny to the people driving by as I jerked my bike this way and that. =)

Out of the Fire and Into the Inferno

Almost immediately after the grasshoppers faded, I crested a hill to be hit by two things: the visions of stovepipe cactuses and the most intense wave of heat I've ever felt. I must have been getting close to Phoenix. I still had about 25 miles of riding and it was getting hard. The water in my bottles turned to hot tea and did nothing for my thirst, it was hard to breathe, and the motorists were being extreme assholes. So far on this trip I've had a person honk here or there (I've always assumed they were saying hi), but today every other car was laying on their horn and one guy even leaned out his window to hurl a few obscenities at me. Wonderful Phoenix!?!

I made it to Vicki & Curt's house, in Anthem, exhausted. I used to work with Vicki in Anacortes and it's been over a year since I've seen them. When I arrived it was time to pick up the kids from school, so I went with Vicki to pickup Nathan (3 years) and Nicholas (5 years) - who only sort of remembered me. The rest of the evening was spent cleaning the kitchen and babysitting the kids. I rode 1100 miles to be put to work - thanks Vicki! =)

For the next two days I was able to catch up with vicki and Curt and spend a lot of time being a kid - it's been awhile - and long overdue. =)

WEEK 7
[this week's pictures]

10-24-2003
thru
10-26-2003
DAY 44 - 46 (Tempe, AZ)
Today: 0.0 miles Total: 1107 miles 0.0avg-mph

My trip, at least by bicycle was now officially over. Vicki borrowed a bike rack from a friend and gave me a ride to Tempe, which was wonderful of her - I wasn't in the mood to deal with all the friendly Arizona drivers. =)

My bus was scheduled to leave the next morning, so Vicki dropped me off at a motel (the only one we could find) near the station. It was in a nice enough area - downtown - and was the absolute WORST motel I have ever stayed in (luckily I wasn't going to be staying there long). This place looked harmless enough on the outside, but the smoky-musty air, the ripped up carpet, the broken furniture, and the porno mags I found in the drawer all combined to give me the impression that - Hey, maybe this isn't really where I want to stay!?!

My first order of business was to pickup my bus tickets and pack up my bike. The Greyhound Station was supposed to have bike boxes, but they didn't - no surprise - so I needed to find a nearby bike shop. It's my lucky day - there was a bike shop just down the street from my motel and they had a box big enough to fit my entire bike - wheels included. =)

After packing up my bike - I "reluctantly" left my beautiful room to track down some lunch and a new book. This is almost embarassing for me to say - but as I was walking by Abercrombie & Fitch I saw a pair of pants that I really liked - I continued walking but had to turn around. I bought the pants - feeling a little dirty - but was consoled by knowing that the majority of the rest of my wardrobe was from my local thrift store. =)

The book I bought was Lance Armstrong's memoir of the Tour and his battle with cancer. Great book! It only took me two days to read & really made me take a longer look at my own life.

I will do GREAT things!

For the evening I retired to Rula Bula, the local Irish Pub, for a Guinness - live celtic music - dancing - and to read a little more about Lance. About half way through my second beer I met Sarah as she sat down at the bar next to me. Wonderful, beautiful, crazy Sarah. We had everything in common and ended up spending the next two days together (and for those of you keeping track - yes I did change my bus ticket). =)

10-27-2003 DAY 47 (Greyhound)
Today: 0.0 miles Total: 1107 miles 0.0avg-mph

Riding the Greyhound is a lot like I would imagine a slow agonizing death to be. It's uncomfortable (although not as uncomfortable as the 60+ mile taxi ride from Ica to Nazca, Peru where my friend Jenny had to sit on my lap - that was definitely worse), loud, it smells - overall just an unhappy situation. But now I can say I belong - I am a true tourer - I felt like I was cheating by flying into Moab, since every account of travel by tourers I've read about has been by Greyound. Hey, at least it's cheap. =)

In El Paso, TX we had an hour layover. I got off of the bus and walked around outside a bit to stretch my legs... as I walked to the doors of the bus station, a (really) big security guard stepped over to me and got in my face - I said, "Hi" - and he said "Hi" and got out of my way. Huh?!?

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful - I got a little (with emphasis on the word little) sleep and managed to keep anyone from sitting next to me. I found that when at stops - if you pretend you're asleep and have your bag in the seat next to you - as long as there's another seat available - you won't be bothered. It worked quite well. =)

Poetry From The Road Series - Volume 1

#9

Hours & hours
of nothingness
and my mind wanders -

Great things are afloat
as I'm whisked away to the Eat Beef capitol of the world.


10-28-2003 DAY 48 (Rockdale, TX)
Today: 0.0 miles Total: 1107 miles 0.0avg-mph

My original re-modified changed and updated three times plan was to ride from Giddings, TX - my Greyhound stop - to my parents house in Rockdale. Since I cut short my trip by 1200 miles (1134 by bus), this would complete the trip - bring closure if you will. Reality set in however... after a 24 hour bus trip, I wasn't going to want to reassemble my bike and ride the 40 miles to Rockdale - just for closure. =) I decided that I had achieved closure way back in Anthem, and while in Tempe, called my parents to score a ride home.

My Mom met me at the bus (gas) station - we went out for lunch - and we headed home!

IN CONCLUSION

Wow - what an amazing adventure! I remember telling people, many many moons ago, that I would like to ride a bicycle cross-country. This was more something I'd say than something I thought I would ever do. Well, I didn't ride cross-country - but I did ride 1100+ miles over some pretty grueling terrain - which paves the way for such a trip. Yes - I can do it. =)

Before I began - the whole idea of this trip seemed larger than life. It came to fruition while in Peru & it didn't seem real. Now that I'm finished however, I find myself thinking, 'That was it?'. It's over and I'm proud, but it doesn't seem the amazing feat that I once thought it to be.

I did however learn so much about myself - and just when I thought there wasn't much more to learn. ;-) Hours upon hours upon hours upon hours (oh - I could go on) gives you a little bit of time to think and that alone was worth the trip. A spiritual awakening of sorts.

The people amazing - the places spectacular!

Am I glad I went? Absolutely! Will I do it again? You bet! =)


last update November 4th, 2003


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