Moab Campground (Rest Day)[MAP]

I felt bad tying my guitar to my bike this morning. Last night I noticed that the neck is pulling away from the body of the guitar. It still plays ok but buzzes occasionally. I feel bad to have brought it on this trip. It seems a little weird to describe my bike and guitar as having personalities, but they’ve been through thick and thin with me and I can’t help but feel that they are somehow more than mere possessions. So I feel guilty to have forced my lovely 12-string acoustic on such an arduous trip that it never asked to be on. It’s survived cold, heat, damp – all the sorts of things that you shouldn’t expose a beautiful instrument to. And now it’s sick and it’s all my fault.

We got up late this morning, we cleaned up the cabin and said our goodbyes. I started to miss them before the dust from the car in the distance had even settled (oh crap, spouting more clichés…). I couldn’t help but admire and feel attracted to Lindsey and her car trip. Here she was doing something that I had always dreamed of doing. Driving across the US in a car with no fixed plan or route. I wish I’d met her while living in Oakland, turned out she only lived down the road from my old house.

And quirky Cat, with her stones and astrology, couldn’t help but like her good nature towards everything, whether it be a person or a tree.

So I had my bike packed and ready to go by lunchtime. I was held up for a while by two friendly, but extremely talkative, English brothers who were mountain biking in Moab. It seems there is a mountain bike on the top of every single SUV in this town, it definitely feels like the mountain biking capital of the universe.

I headed towards town and out the other side. There was a slight headwind and I felt a few drops of rain. After being spoilt with a roof over my head and being driven around for the last few days I immediately felt tired with the idea of riding again. So I turned around and went back to town, found a campsite and stayed another night. I called my good friends Brooke and Stef in Long Beach for a chat. They suggested coming out and meeting up with me next weekend in Zion National Park. It’ll be great, I haven’t seen a familiar face for months.


Monticello RV Park[MAP]

Hole in the Wall, South of Moab (Day 157)

Hole in the Wall, South of Moab (Day 157)

As soon as I got on the bike this morning I was in a constant struggle against strong headwinds. It was tiring and slow going. It was right on the border of being too cold to just wear a t-shirt and too warm to wear my rain jacket. Bored with riding again, I had long breaks at roadside rest stops. Spent an hour chatting with James, who lived out of his pickup and cleaned and maintained the toilets and lawns at one of the stops. His mower had a flat tyre and he was hoping the wind would keep blowing so that he wouldn’t have to rake up all the leaves.

Another hundred metres past that stop and I stopped for another half hour coffee break at the Hole in the Wall. Some guy built a house into the side of a rock and had also built some fabulous sculptures out of number plates, old tools and scrap metal. By lunchtime I’d barely done thirty miles. It was sad. I remember when I was with Norbert we’d asked each other questions like; “What would you prefer; this biting, cold, terrible, snowy weather or sunny warm headwinds?”. Of course, at the time, I’d answered warm headwinds, so I shouldn’t be complaining.

It’s amazing how much the wind plays havoc on my psyche. A day like this makes me consider quitting the bike and getting a rental car. It’d take me a week to see all the parks in a car rather than spending almost a month doing it by bike.

I eventually got to the turnoff for the Needles entrance of Canyonlands National Park. I’d so much wanted to see the Needles but the idea of riding thirty six miles to a possibly cold and lonely campground put me off. Especially when it was only fourteen miles to the next town South of Moab; Monticello. I was tired of concentrating on keeping my bike upright. I’d done the “spit test” and the result was that the wind was strong.

Monticello is a small town with nothing much of interest it seems. It’s just over 7000 feet in elevation with the beautiful La Sal mountains to the north. I found the first campground in town and pulled in. My tent looked tiny and lonely amongst the four caravans parked there.

Stef at Hole in the Wall, South of Moab (Day 157)

Stef at Hole in the Wall, South of Moab (Day 157)

Last night I woke to the sound of a huge rat rummaging around inside my tent fly. In the morning I wasn’t sure if it was just a dream.

It was windy as hell today so I stayed put. My shin feels like it could do with some more rest after yesterday’s effort. I washed some clothes and they were dry within thirty minutes of hanging them out. A guy at the gas station said it was the edge of a bad weather front that hit San Francisco a few days ago. It’ll start clearing by the weekend.

I spent the morning cleaning my bike and chain. I walked down to the library after lunch. Luckily it was still open I guess. A lot of the other libraries I’ve been in have had their government funding and opening times cut. It’s great that education in this country is considered so highly within the current government’s administration. Election time in a few weeks.

The library didn’t have much in the way of a magazine section unless you’re a hunter and love guns.

I sent some postcards in the afternoon in an effort to get rid of all my stamps before leaving the States. The postmaster looked at me standing there in my thongs (flip flops) and asked why I wasn’t feeling the cold. I told him I couldn’t feel my feet at all so it didn’t matter so much. The lady behind me told me it’d probably snow in the next day or two.

Called Brooke and Stef to let them know there was no way I was going to get to Zion by this weekend, maybe next weekend.

Dinner was a 400 gram can of tomatoes, a 400 gram can of spinach and a 400 gram can of salmon mixed in with about half a kilo of rice. I followed it with a half kilo tub of yoghurt (almost five pounds of food).

I’d planned to get an early start this morning but instead woke to the soft pitter-patter of snow falling on my tent. It was a peaceful sound after having just survived one of the worst night storms of my trip. As my tent only consists of the one pole, I have to face it into the wind, otherwise it acts like a sail and collapse over the top of me. It’s pretty scary when this happens in the middle of the night. I have two guy lines tightly tied to the picnic table, trying to hold the tent in position. The idea of getting out of my warm sleeping bag in the middle of the night to recover and re-secure a tent peg in the bitter wind and rain isn’t so appealing.

I slept in for a while longer, finally getting up after nine when five pounds of food decided it wanted out. Did some sewing repairs to my clothes and gloves then lay in the tent reading my latest book, a Graham Greene novel. After lunch and a coffee I relocated myself to the library’s warm confines.

It snowed all morning but not enough to stick on the ground. It cleared up in the afternoon but by evening it was looking very threatening again with quite a big drop in temperature.

While I was cooking dinner a large Mexican man, who is in the caravan next to me with three kids, offered me his spare heater and extension cord so I could keep the tent warm overnight. Real nice gesture but I could see myself going up in flames in the middle of the night. He also offered some leftover food, but after repeating last nights dinner tonight, I wasn’t so hungry anymore.


Natural Bridges National Monument[MAP]

Stef taking a break at the side of Highway 95 (Day 160)

Stef taking a break at the side of Highway 95 (Day 160)

My tent was covered in ice when I woke but the bad weather seemed to have abated. I set off on the bike, my second day of riding in a week. I spotted another bicycle tourist just before getting to Blanding. It’s been over two thousand miles since riding with Norbert but the memories of riding with another crazy bastard still haunt me. I passed him on a downhill with just a quick hi and then waited at Blanding where he spotted me and stopped to talk. He was from Switzerland, and like myself, had been on the road since May. He’d also ridden down from Alaska but while it was still warm. He’d just finished doing the Moab 24 hour marathon. It was quite funny how he described it. Nearly everyone in the race, which consists of a 15-mile course, is in teams. Anyone that’s serious about the race will have back-up bikes and even a mechanic to look over the bike after each and every lap. They’ll have energy bars and drinks passed into their waiting hands on every lap.  The riders just concentrate on one thing and that’s riding the course for a total of 24-hours. Our cyclist from Switzerland did the whole thing by himself. At each and every lap he’d jump off his bike and run to his tent where he kept a stash of almost thirty bananas. I thought it was brilliant.

We parted ways and I made it to Natural Bridges National Monument. I did the entire loop, stopping and taking a walk out to each of the viewpoints and talking with everyone. One lady wanted to touch me as she wanted some of my fitness to rub off onto her!

Natural Bridges National Monument (Day 160)

Natural Bridges National Monument (Day 160)


Hanksville RV Park[MAP]

I got to watch an awesome red sunrise. Reminded me why I used to enjoy the early morning riding. The road was a nice gradual fall into the Glen Canyon which is where the Colorado river passes through and turns into Lake Powell. It must be amazing to raft down the Colorado, it passes through some amazing landscapes.

I passed through red rock canyons, huge pillars stretching up to touch the blue sky. By the afternoon I was riding through yellow canyons which turned into sandy hills before reaching Hanksville. I was tempted to push onto Capitol Reef National Park but I was starting to feel a little nauseous from all the Snickers bars I’d eaten.

A.J. was there to meet me at the campground, take my camping fee and tell me his life story. It was a long story…he was an old guy, and it ended with him telling me he’s had three heart attacks, is on a pacemaker, takes 22 pills every day and needs to use a skin cream to counter the effects of the pills. He works at the caravan park during the summer, but when it closes in a few days he’s heading back to Texas. He’s moved around a lot because, according to him, no one can put up with him much.

While I was cooking dinner, Bill and Debra, a couple from Alabama, showed up in their rental car. We got talking lots and they ended up giving me some much needed fresh fruit and a bunch of AAA maps.

More empty road, Highway 95 (Day 161)

More empty road, Highway 95 (Day 161)

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