“Keep Movin’.” It’s all I could keep thinking. When you plan a 1400+ mile motorcycle road trip with two friends you’re preoccupied with taking into consideration everyone’s schedule. Rarely do you try to anticipate things like … weather. And driving across the Utah desert in mid July on the blistering highway was something we didn’t anticipate. As long as you’re moving, it’s fine. But the second you stop for traffic, gas, or whatever, the heat bakes you in your leathers like a Thanksgiving turkey wrapped in aluminum foil. But Hell we were men. And at least our bikes were air cooled.
We met that morning around 7:30am at John’s house in New Castle, Colorado. We hadn’t eaten yet, and the plan was to get breakfast in Grand Junction with at least 100 miles under our belts. Sean had rented a Dyna Low rider, his bike of choice, from Aspen Valley Harley-Davidson for the week. Along with John on his sporty, and me on my Fatboy, we were ready to rock and roll. It was the longest any of us had ridden in one trip before, and it was sure to be an adventure.
In Junction, we ate and then stopped off at the local Harley-Davidson shop to buy some cooldanas and gloves. John had lost his gloves and mine weren’t vented, which at 9:00am in the morning was already essential. The cooldanas were a gimmicky, silicon filled neck wrap that swells with moisture when soaked and supposedly keeps you cool via evaporation. It was the best five bucks any of us had ever spent.
We headed out on I-70 and into Utah. The highway was long and hot and barren, with desert on either side. The temps reached 103 + F and it felt like we were riding through a convection oven. I had the lead most of the trip as I was the one who plotted the maps and had one handy on my tank bag. We passed a sign stating “No services for 57 miles” without a thought. After about 45mins of riding, as I look in my mirrors… neither Sean or John were behind me. I pulled over to the side of the highway to give wait. After 2 minutes or so John come roaring past me with Sean in chase. I caught Sean and asked what the hell happened? He pointed to his tank then to John who was already off in the distance. It was clear. John had run out of gas and switched to reserve. We had about 15 miles to get to a gas station before he’d run out of gas.
We drove for about another 30 mins through the barren desert. Then, in the middle of nowhere, lie a single gas station at the next exit. John’s bike sputtering, we pulled in. We had to calibrate our tanks to his as he has no gas gauge on his bike. So basically, when our tanks were at the half mark, his was near empty and it was time for us to find fuel fast. John gave a high fist in celebration of finding this petroleum oasis. As we laughed about it a tourist en route to his mini van stated “A little hot for you guys today, eh?” “Bah..” we sneered with a wave of the hand. “This is nothing” as the tourist retreated to his air conditioned wife-wagon.
The next leg took us south on HWY-24 through Utah. The road was long, hot, and straight, littered with big pickups dragging huge houseboats and speedboats to Lake Powell, some 100 miles away. We’d spend the rest of the day on Hwy-24, enjoying the occasional monument or mesa along the way. We stopped as often as we could to wet our cooldanas and gas up. It became a regular ritual to buy a bottle of water for the road, then chug a small Gatorade or smart water at the stop to quickly hydrate ourselves, the bottle being for later possible emergencies. We stopped at the “Hollow Mountain ” store, an interesting little cave converted into a convenience store located at the turn off to Lake Powell. A lot of boats, bikini clad women, families, pets, etc. littered the parking lot. They were obviously on their way to their various boating adventures on the lake. We saw several exits for Lake Powell, and I wanted to check it out, but it just never was within an acceptable range of detour miles, usually some 50 – 100 miles out of our way.
We pressed on along Hwy-24, and some interesting views as we entered Capitol Reef National Park. We rode through neat little box canyons, lush little greeneries filled with deer, and even past some petroglyph sites. Then we arrived in Torrey, a quaint little town with a few RV parks, a hotel, a gas station and a couple of restaurants. We rode through town to check it out, then settled back at Thousand Lakes RV Park where we setup camp.
The RV park was largely vacant, but the few rigs who were parked were obviously locals who had been there for quite some time. Large RVs with picket fences, covered wheels, swing sets, sheds and more setup around them. I’d estimate some of them had been staying in the park for at least a year or so. They all seemed to know each other, and used their Polaris 4×4 “dinghies” to head over to the store for supplies, or just tool around town. That night there was some sort of get together in the common area. A couple old cowboys sang and played the guitar. People from various RVs brought food and beer and they all sat until the wee hours of the morning singing and clapping. It made me wonder if this was a special occasion or a nightly ritual. Either way, they were all happy and seemed like friends.
We were tired and hungry. After we set up camp we mounted up on our bikes, sans the luggage which was nice, and took a tour of Torrey. First we went to the General Store for some waters and snacks for the tents. The number of tourists in the area was stifling, and we barely heard any English at all from other visitors. Two thirty-something German women were trying on cowboy hats in fun at the General Store. They snickered and made comments in German under their breath. They were cute, and gave Sean the eye. Immediately John and I postured to tease him over it, threatening to “set him up” with the both of them.
After the General Store, we rode to a place aptly titled “The Burger Joint.” We weren’t expecting much from the place, and decided to each order the joint’s namesake and had a burger a piece. The place was small, wood paneled, and license plates from all over the country hung everywhere. We ordered our food from a window inside the dining area and had a seat. To our surprise entered Sean’s German girlfriends who sat a few tables down. Of course my scheming mind immediately assumed they were tracking us, for Sean’s sake, and I tuned my fluent German ears like a spy trying to eavesdrop on foreign diplomats. Unfortunately, their conversations were of the most boring type… the weather, drivers in America, the West, cowboys, etc. I would rather they have been talking about how they wished to have a threesome with the fine red-headed chap in our party, and how they wanted to strip him from his bike, throw him in the car and usher him back to their hotel room only to return him in the morning unkempt and disoriented…. But unfortunately for Sean there was no such luck. So we ate our delicious burgers and head out for a ride.
We drove back through Torrey, and over to Capitol Reef National park some 10 miles away or so. We stopped at a petroglyph site, parked the bikes, and had a look around. The petroglyphs were a sort of “cave painting” made by the Fremont tribes people 700 – 1300 AD. It was cool to see something like that to have survived for so long. After tooling around the petroglyph site for a bit, we headed over to panorama point which boasts the best visibility in the continental 48 states with views of over 140 miles. We snapped some photos and then head off back to the campsite.
It was time to relax back at camp. We scored some PBR tall boys from the general store, lit up the mosquito coils and shot the shit for a few hours. The schedule had us pushing all the way to the North Rim tomorrow. Of course, our fate would have it differently.
Day One Photos: