We pulled into Salt Lake City just as the sun was setting behind the mountains. The sky was glowing pink, peach, orange and yellow, creating one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. After grabbing a snack to eat, we rode around the city searching for a place to camp. Salt Lake has many large beautiful parks but, they were all well lit and difficult to hide a tent and motorcycle. As we rode up a large vacant street we noticed a car that ran out of gas, we pulled over to help push the vehicle and out of no where approximately ten strangers sprinted together from different directions to help as well. It was a sweet moment to have witnessed and a great reflection of this city’s kindness.
Before continuing our search, we stopped at the gas station to prevent from running out of gas as well. We met a drunken couple there who started a conversation with us and when we asked if they could recommend a secluded place where we could camp, they told us of a park located just minutes away. The park was very dark, surrounded by bushes and hidden in a valley between mountains. We decided to place our tent in the far end of the park, near the bushes and under a large tree. As I was setting up the tent, Rocky walked around with a flashlight to check out our surroundings.
Through out this journey, Rocky has been fearless, so I was very surprised when he called me over and I noticed he was frightened (he denies this). He asked if I could hear strange noises in the bushes and although I heard strange, growling, screeches, I wasn’t sure what I was listening to so I headed back to finish setting up the tent. When we began this trip, I had told Rocky that I wanted to purchase bear spray, a stun gun and a large sharp knife but he knew that I would only hurt myself while handling a weapon. After convincing me that a loud whistle would be the smartest and safest protection, every time I was frightened, I would sleep well while holding my whistle. As we sat in our tent that night and continued to hear creepy noises, I asked Rocky to pass me my whistle. His response was, “I don’t feel like looking for it right now. Besides, that whistle won’t do shit for you.” The following morning, when he admitted to having nightmares, I couldn’t help but grin vengefully.
After packing up the bike and having a bite to eat, we arranged to meet Jill from www.couchsurfing.org. She was very soft spoken and polite but also really sweet for letting us stay with her at the last minute. It would have been nice to have gotten to know her better but she had previously made plans and was only able to talk for a few minutes. There was a beautiful large trailer parked in her driveway and she welcomed us to stay for as long as we needed. Although Rocky and I love hanging out with new people (because we are usually only around one another) it felt great being able to relax by ourselves in a place that felt our own. We picked up some Chinese food and beer, and while we were enjoying eating and drinking, I began to notice my surroundings and wondered if Jill had a ‘thing’ for Santa Clause. There were many pictures, CDs, DVDs and books about Christmas and Santa everywhere. The next morning, as we were packing, there was a knock at the door and everything began to make sense. Santa was outside the door and he introduced himself as Jill’s husband, Bill. He explained to us that he is a professional Santa and he uses the trailer as his change room/workshop. Bill was a very jolly man and he seemed to be just as kind as Jill. He invited us to stay longer but we were packing up and getting ready to meet up with Brian.
Rocky met Brian on www.Advrider.com and he had asked us to stay with him and his family while riding through Utah. He owns a KLR and rode to meet with us at the Wasatch National Forest entrance. It was a scenic ride through the mountains and past Sundance before reaching Provo, Utah. As we neared Brian’s home, we stopped at the grocery store and offered to pick up a bottle of wine to go with dinner but we were given the impression that it wouldn’t be a good idea. I felt it was strange and I wondered if Brian was either a recovering alcoholic or a Mormon. Seconds later, we stopped at a street light and Brian pointed to a statue of a golden angel holding a trumpet. He told us that the trumpet would sound when Jesus arrived, Brian was definitely a Mormon.
We got to his home and met his lovely wife and children. Janene was very quiet and shy but that didn’t last long. She was funny, personable and prepared a delicious meal. For dessert, Janene offered us some green jello made with carrot shavings and told us that our experience in Provo, Utah wouldn’t be complete without it. I didnt understand why, but she informed me that it was a Mormon joke and google informed me that it was a popular Mormon snack. I was surprised that it actually tasted good. Their children Layton and Liam were well behaved and very cute. I was amazed that at the age of 2, Liam was not only able to run very fast but he also had a natural ability to climb high and quickly. I predict that he will be a mountaineer when he grows up. The next morning, just as we finished packing up our things, Janene showed up with a key lime pie and lit candles to surprise Rocky for his birthday. It was extremely sweet and it made Rocky blush.
Back on the road, we headed towards Moab. It was nice to watch the landscape change drastically. As we finally arrived, there were dirt bikes, motorcycles, climbing gear and hiking boots everywhere, it became obvious that Moab was an active city. Our first night there, we camped in a field beside a motel. After packing up the bike in the morning, we decided to ride through Arches National Park. I really liked it there, the earth was decorated in the most beautiful red colored sand and rock. There was a lot to see and we quickly discovered that we would have to return the following day to do some hiking.
Later that night, we met up with Chris, who we contacted on www.couchsurfing.org. He had just gotten off of a long shift at work and we were offered home made beer as soon as we got comfortable. Since it was Rocky’s birthday, it was nice to cheers with beer that put most brands to shame. I really liked Chris, he was a nice guy and he had a lot of information to share. It surprised me that he wasn’t a park ranger.
Early the next morning, Chris went back to work and Rocky and I were awoken by roosters crowing. Excited to explore, we rode through Canyon Lands national park and with all the gear off the bike and we took Potash road down into the canyon. The road was dirt, narrow and steep but the view was incredibly stunning. I’m afraid of heights and, at times, I feared the depth of the canyon, but I was mostly afraid when Rocky admitted that the back brakes had failed. He tried to reassure me that his front brakes still functioned, but being on a narrow, bumpy, dirt road without back brakes made me feel a bit uneasy.
As we continued riding, I got flash backs of watching cartoons as a child. I kept noticing the same type of bird running past so quickly that I could barely see its feet, but there was no coyote in sight. I always wanted the Wile E. Coyote to catch Road Runner but I now understand why it wasn’t possible, Road Runners are fast!
We continued on Potash until we reached a paved road, with centuries-old petroglyphs carved into the cliffs by Native Americans. We returned to Arches National Park, but this time, we wanted to hike through the canyons. What a great way to spend a day!
Since we hadn’t properly celebrated Rocky’s birthday yet, I took him out for dinner where we both tried Buffalo, Elk and Boar. It was all very tasty but I liked Elk the least. After our meal, we went back to Chris’s and he had just arrived from work. He poured us some shots of the best whiskey we have ever tasted and showed me some pictures after Rocky passed out. After packing up the next morning, Rocky and I took Chris out for sushi before having to say goodbye. I highly recommend visiting Moab, meeting Chris and eating at Sabaku Sushi.
The night in Jackson, Wyoming was a cold one. We were awoken before sunrise to the sound of water splashing against the outside of our tent. It sounded like the sprinklers of the irrigation system we must have missed it in the dark the night before. We had to wait until the sprinklers stopped before we could leave the tent. Luckily, the sprinkler head closest to our tent was just outside our gear shed vestibule. If we had placed the tent a six inches to the left, the sprinkler head would have been inside the gear shed and we would have had a wet morning. It was a close call.
The sun rose above the trees and melted the frost covering the motorcycle. We loaded up the gear and decided to go for breakfast. We had met some local kids the night before in the park who were drunk and climbing on the outdoor climbing wall. They had recommended a breakfast burrito place in town, so we decided to check it out.
After polishing off the burrito and making a stop at McDonald’s to use the internet, we hopped on the bike and made the, roughly, 450 km journey towards Salt Lake City, Utah. The weather was warm and sunny. The riding was steady and we were able to make good time. The sun neared the horizon when we were still about an our away from Salt Lake City. We rode the final 75km in into the city under a quickly darkening sky.
Paula, Almeida and I arrived in Salt Lake City about an hour after the sun had set. We rode in on the i80, westward over a hill that gave us a amazing view of the city lights and a dark red glow on the horizon. Salt Lake City look enormous.
Without a place to stay, we decided to look for an internet connection so that we could plan our night in the city. After spotting a few place on Google maps, we decided to head out and find a place to sleep.
Riding around town looking for a place to camp proved to be quite difficult. We rode around the city for over an hour looking for a place to set up the tent. The public parks in Salt Lake City all seemed to be too well lit for stealth camping. After visiting two major city parks, we decided to head up to the University of Utah to see if we could camp there. On our way there, we saw a car stalled on a hill. I pulled over to the side of the road and ran over to try to help push. At the same time, a group of university-aged kids ran over to help push as well. The driver of the vehicle had run out of gas.
Unable to find a decent camping spot on the university campus, we set off to find a gas station since the fuel light had been on for quite a number of kilometers.
While fuelling up, we drew the attention of a middle-aged couple who appeared to be quite drunk. They approached us and asked us about our trip, and we told them that we were looking for a place to camp for the night. They recommended a place not too far away from where we were that was secluded. We thanked them and followed their directions to what is know as “dog park”. The park, situated at the base of steep hills that were surrounded by apartment buildings, was dark and quite secluded. Paula and I both heard eerie sounds coming from the darkness of the trees that we both had nightmares about that evening.
In the morning, we packed up and went for breakfast. We spent the day hanging out, working on photos and the blog, and trying to find a place to couch surf for a night or two. Paula made contact with a lady, named Jill, in a suburb of Salt Lake who offered her camper for us to sleep in. We arrived at Jill’s place just after 5pm, met her and her niece, and settled into the camper for the night.
That night, I was contacted by a guy named Brian, who was also a member of the motorcycle message board, advrider.com. He live in Provo, Utah, and had offered us a place to stay for a night. We planned to meet him the following day for a ride through Wasatch Mountain State Park and into Provo.
We left Salt Lake City the next day in mid-afternoon, and met Brian the at the entrance to the park. All three of us rode through the mountain pass and over the other side, through Sundance and into Provo. Brian made a quick stop at the store to pick up some things for dinner. We asked if he’d like us to pick up a bottle of wine, but he said that might not be a good idea since they did not drink. Paula and I were beginning to wonder if Brian and his wife were religious, not knowing, at the time, that Provo, Utah is the Mormon capital of the universe. We came to a stop light on the way to Brian’s home and Brian pointed out Bringham Young University and the trumpet-blowing angel. We immediately knew he was a Mormon. We had been warned by a few people to watch out for the Mormons. We didn’t understand the reason for the warning, but I thought that this would be an interesting experience.
We arrived at Brian’s and met his wife, Janene, and his two young children. Janene cooked us a great chicken dinner, with Jello and carrots for desert – a Mormon tradition. We all talked for a while after dinner. Brian asked Paula and I what religion we belonged to – Christian or Catholic. I responded by saying , “to be honest – I’m an atheist.” Brian’s face turned beat red, which I assumed was the embarrassment of bringing a non-believer into his home. I asked Brian and Janene about Mormonism. They said that they’d answer any questions that we had, but he seemed not to want to get into a religious discussion.
We awoke the next day, showered and started to pack up the bike for the ride to Moab, Utah. Janene was at work and, while we were loading up the bike, Paula and I got into a religious discussion with Brian. The conversation, as ones such as these so often do, snowballed and became quite intense. Put an Atheist and a Mormon together for long enough and a spirited discussion about religion is almost inevitable. Besides, I trip through the Mormon Corridor would not be complete without a good religious debate.
Janene returned home from work and surprised me with a lemon pie with some candles on top. It was my birthday, which both Brian and Janene had know, but this took me completely by surprise. I was a bit embarrassed being the center of such unexpected attention, and my face went as red as Brian’s had been the night before.
After finishing off a piece of pie each, Paula and I had to get going if we wanted to make it to Moab before dark. We said goodbye to Brian and his family, and set off for Moab. Despite our philosophical disagreements, Brian and I got along quite well. Brian is a great guy with a kind and wonderful family.
It was dusk by the time we made it to Moab. We took a quick look around for a place to camp, and went to look for an internet connection. We wanted to wait until it was a bit darker to set up camp. After dark, we set out and found a spot in a large field near a hotel, and, after setting up camp, we settled in for the night.
We packed up in the morning and, after a quick Subway breakfast, Paula, Almeida and I headed out to spend the day exploring Arches National Park. We visited many of park’s attraction, which took the major part of the day. Just before sundown, we head back in town to use the internet to try to find a couch to surf for a few nights. Paula contacted a guy named Chris, who said that he’d meet us after he got off work. We met Chris late in the evening outside of a grocery store in the center of Moab. Paula rode with Chris and I followed them back to his place. Chris is a really cool guy who works as a radio show host and waiter. We all hung out, had a few drinks and were later joined by another couch surfer who was a traveling musician.
Paula and I spent the next day riding around Canyonlands National Park. We arrived shortly after noon and decided that we’d ride along Potash Road. We took the route that lead along the edge of the canyon and rode down a switch-back that descended into the canyon. Halfway down, Almeida’s rear brake completely failed, leaving me only with front braking power. After safely making our way to the bottom of the canyon, I allowed the bike to rest. I assumed that the heavy use of the brakes had caused the fluid to overheat and fail. It was a good opportunity to take a few photos, and, after a short cool-off period, the rear brake seemed to return to normal. Potash Road is an unpaved dirt and rock road that cuts through the canyon and leads back towards Moab.
Having not had the time for the hike to Delicate Arch the previous day, Paula and I decided to return to Arches National Park. The walk from the parking lot to the arch took almost an hour. We took some photos and hung out around the arch for a while. With very little daylight left, we decided to return to the bike and head for dinner.
We rode to the exit of the park and headed back into Moab where we spotted a steakhouse on the outskirts of the town. Since we hadn’t had time the previous day, Paula wanted to take me out for a birthday dinner. I was craving a steak, but, wanting to stay on budget, I decided to opt for a more affordable meal. Paula and I finished up dinner, and we arrived back at Chris’ place just after 9pm. I was exhausted and decided to hit the sack. Paula stayed up with Chris’ for a while, hanging out and talking before heading to bed.
We packed up our gear in the morning, and rode into town with Chris for lunch. There was a good sushi restaurant in town, and, having been a while since we last had one of our favourite meals, we decided to check it out. Chris’ friends were the chefs, and they prepared a great selection of dishes for us.
We left Moab shortly after noon. The sun was shining and the air was warm, but the bright, blue skies eventually turned dark and cloudy. The ride ahead into Colorado looked like it would be a wet one.