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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tahoe, Sonoma, Great Basin, Lake Powell, Monument Valley, and... ColoRADo!!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ok, let me work backwards here...  

First off, I made it!  I crossed the border into Colorado yesterday afternoon.  An unusual feeling after begin gone for so long.  I pulled over to the side of the road next to the 'welcome to colorful Colorado' sign and sat there staring at it for several minutes.  I was washed over with a sense of sadness that the trip is nearing an end, but also had an intense feeling of happiness that I'd made it back safe and sound, and with so many unbelievable adventures, memories, and new friends.  I had originally planned to make it somewhere near Ouray to camp for the night, but there was a random turnoff to the left that said 'visit the beautiful town of Dolores'.  I knew Telluride was that direction as well, so figured "what the hell?", reality is coming soon so random 'lefts' (detours) in life are few and far between in the near future unfortunately. 

As I was passing through I noticed an RV park called Dolores River Campground.  Normally I scoff at those, but something pulled me in.  I asked if they had tent space and they did, only one other camper at present.  In addition, they have these amazing little cabins, both of which are nestled at the backside of the property away from the RV'ers.  I pulled the bike in, selected a spot on the river, set up camp, and went to use the facilities.  There's showers, bathrooms, wifi, laundry, a store, etc, so it isn't exactly roughing it.  There is also a friendly community of older RV'ing couples, some of who've been here for months.  When I wandered up to shower I noticed a circle of gentlemen sitting around drinking beer and swapping fishing stories (apparently I'd arrived at happy hour - a nightly tradition).  They invited me over and asked about me.  I told them about the trip, and needless to say they were all impressed.  Some yelling across to the other circle, this one filled with females and large glasses of chilled chardonnay, to share the news...  "Martha, you'll never believe this!  This young man rode that motorbike over there all the way to Arg-en-teena!".  This morning as I was walking to shower and brush my teeth, everyone was waving, saying hello/good morning David, and all in good spirits.  Such a relaxing little slice of paradise here.  As we speak I've commandeered an unused cabin porch, and am typing away overlooking the flowing river.  PS...  According to the couple that owns this place, the BDR (Backcountry Discovery Route) begins near here, so this would be a PERFECT place to begin or end. 

To continue working backwards, yesterday I woke up on the shores of Lake Powell in Glen Canyon.  My campsite was stunning, as is the entire surrounding area, along with the lake itself.  I took back and side roads to end up riding through Monument Valley for the afternoon.  I've explored the majority of the US, but those two spots have eluded me.  Sweet Jesus!  I'm really glad I added them to the list, as riding around them via motorcycle is simply breathtaking.  The perfect weather, huge sandstone formations, and seemingly endless beautiful views had me speechless the entire ride.  It's also very interesting to stop and see a glimpse into the Native American history, heritage, and culture surrounding the area.  I will say, the ride from Great Basin to Lake Powell wasn't quite as spectacular. 

After doing a spontaneous hour-long cave tour upon arrival at Great Basin Nat'l Park, I selected an isolated campsite.  Not hard as the park doesn't get many visitors.  After getting settled in as the sun was setting, I collected some downed wood and made a fire.  I enjoyed a fantastically prepared gourmet meal of Beanie-Weenie straight from the can, washed down with filtered river water.  Yeah, not the best.  I'd heard that a storm 'might' blow in during the night and sure enough, just as I was finishing dinner, drops of rain began to fall.  I battened down the hatches and retreated to the tent.  I fell asleep fairly quickly due to my current reading material, which was gifted to me by my new dear friend Ivo whom I met in Salta (Alan Watts, 'on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are' - an interesting read).  Sometime just after midnight, I woke up to a storm like you wouldn't believe.  I've never heard thunder like that.  The lightning would strike, light up the sky, then BOOM!!!  Echo all the way down through the valley and into the basin.  It was so loud that it would shake the tent.  I was thrilled and mesmerized, but would be lying if I didn't say a little scared as well.  

I woke up sporadically throughout the night, and the rain continued and continued.  Finally around 6:30am there was a slight lull, so I made a break for it.  Let me say this, if you haven't had the pleasure of packing up wet, soggy, muddy camping gear in the rain, you haven't lived.  Such a pain in the ass.  Anyway, got it all done and as I was headed out, the sky opened up again.  Within minutes I was soaked to the core, but continued riding.  I thought to myself, "how bad could it be?  how long could it last?  how big could the storm be?"  Well, that was one of the longest, most brutal riding days of the trip.  400 miles in pouring rain for the entirety.  I stopped four or five times along the way.  Once at a $hit motel, but couldn't bring myself to be held up for an entire day in meth central.  Then several other times along the way for gas, to get a coffee, and warm up.  When I finally made it to Glen Canyon, the skies cleared, the sun came out, and all was perfect.  It was strange how quickly I forgot about the painful ride.  Simply set up camp, and enjoyed a beautiful fireside night under the stars.  This too shall pass...  it always does.  

When I last left off, I think I was planning to split from Dyann, and do my own thing due to her motor issues.  Well, on a whim I decided to point the bike back to the coast and join her for the wedding in Sonoma.  I'd never really done 'wine country', so figured I'd take the opportunity.  It was a cool experience, got to ride by Tahoe again and again, which is worth it by itself, and enjoyed my time with Dyann and her friends.  I even got to do several wine tours/tastings the day of the wedding.  From Sonoma I ended up riding east to a dumpy hotel for the night near Fallon, NV (certainly wouldn't recommend that place).  From there it was onward to Great Basin.  Dyann on the other hand hasn't had much good luck.  The engine she ordered, which was supposed to arrive in Reno on Monday, was shipped to Denver instead.  So, not only did she have to rent a car to get to Sonoma, will also be renting one to get back to Denver for another wedding this coming weekend.  Then she'll have the bike shipped from Reno to Denver at some point to pair up with the waiting motor.  What a disaster!  Poor thing.  Anyway, I wish her all the best.  And a HUUUGGE thanks to Arlo for providing us a most welcome and comfortable home base in Verdi for a few nights.  My door will always be open for you in Denver (or wherever life takes me).  

I guess that's it for now.  I'm gonna go ride the bike into town for a nice lunch on the river.  After that, it will be back here for more relaxation and probably swapping stories and laughs at Larry's RV for 'happy hour'.  Tomorrow I'll press on, not sure where.  I plan to meet a few friends on Sunday at 2pm at the cafĂ© in Deckers.  From there we'll ride the last few miles home together to Denver.  Looking forward to that.  

Until then...  chat soon amigos!  ~ D

PS...  I had my first run-in with a pointless revenue collector (aka copper, cop, police officer, whatever you want to call him/it).  22k miles, 9mos, 16 countries, and only a couple days back in the 'Land of the Free', I find myself on the receiving end of a $115 speeding ticket.  Thanks Nevada!  Funniest part was, as I was sitting there waiting for Officer Awesome to finish writing the ticket, this Forest Gump looking guy came strolling by with a huge backpack, and rolling adventure case.  I asked him, "where ya headed?"  to which he responded, "walking coast-to-coast, west-to-east".  I yelled back to him, "good luck, don't get pulled over for speeding".  He smiled and walked on down the road.  Crazy guy!  Didn't get his name, but wish him luck on his own adventure.  

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