Hello there you Yodelers and Chodelers! Can you believe it? We're on BikeTour!
Let's get down to BS (business). We've got a lot of animal dung to shovel down your throats, and we want it to be resplendent with linkage and photographic representation, so we're going to attempt to get the last nine days into this post AQAP.
We left Telluride on a frigid morning. It was difficult to depart from such luxurious accommodations, but we did. We had to climb up to Lizard Head Pass (10,222 ft above sea level (asl?)) through some stunning deep wilderness. It seemed like the mountains were engulfing us like friggin Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters. The rest of the way was down down down into Dolores, CO--passing through some truly spanktacular valleys and et cetera. This was our last major day of riding through the Rockies; Alex was heard (by himself, the pompous braggart that he is) to say, "This is the end of an Era." In Dolores, we were mistaken--for the second time on this trip--for Phish fanatics. What the heck?!?
Remember that story about how we got nailed by sprinklers in the middle of the night in a city park in Colorado? Unbeknownst to us, the producers of this trip had planned a sequel, and it was set in Dolores' city park! What fun!
In spite of its outwardly racist atmosphere, the Ponderosa Restaurant on Dolores' main drag offered a pretty wonderful, stupendous, scrumptious, tasty, yet delicious Breakfast Buffet for a measly-weasley $7. We basically loaded our faces with: WAFFLES! FRENCH TOAST! FRUIT COCKTAIL! HASH B'S! CERE! B's and G! C-ROLLS! M.E.! D! .! and MORE!!!!!!!!!
We rode out of the pine forests of Western Colorado, across another state border and into the increasingly desert-like world of Eastern Utah. This was our longest-mileage day since hitting the Rockies; we banged out 83.64 relatively smooth miles between Dolores and the day's landing point: Blanding, UT.
In Blanding, a city that lives up to its name, we hung out in the town square (A&W Restaurant) and purchased groceries (Ramen and beans) from a cashier (of androgynous countenance). We slept underneath a jungle gym in order to avoid a spontaneous outbreak of "Alex and Emelio Become Enraged Due to City Parks in Desert Situations that Massively Utilize Sprinklers Syndrome."
Alex, in his habitually boisterous and increasingly annoying way, quoth: "This was our first day of riding in 'The Real Utah.'" Emelio grudgingly agrees. Nevertheless, the scenery became much more craggly as we approached what turned out to be our evening's destination, Natural Bridges National Monument. This National Park Service-administered site contains three spectacular natural bridges (which are specific geologic formations; don't get them confused with arches or a Ranger will give you an ATOMIC WEDGIE) in close proximity -- an occurrence not matched elsewhere on this godforsaken planet. Needless to say (or is it??), we went to the park to check them out.
N.B.N.M. itself is relatively small; a one-lane road circumnavigates the rim of the canyons in a 9-mile loop. From this loop, there are multiple overlooks onto the three bridges and the surrounding rock formations. At least three trails down into the canyon depart from this loop; we were basically foaming at the mouth to bury ourselves deep, deep underneath these hard, massive chunks of rock.
We selected the hike down to meet Sipapu, the largest of the three bridges (second largest in the world only to the Golden Gate Bridge of course!). It was sweet and excellent and high-five-slappingly awesome. There was no one else around, and it was basically like a big rocky playground and we reverted into little idiot children and even crapped our pants (honestly!!). The canyon floor was lush and magical; looking up at Sipapu was disorienting and we puked (honestly!! (no, really, we did!!!)). But seriously though, the bridge was huge and it was great.
The best part of this evening, although, came just a bit later as we realized that we were running out of daylight and needed to find a place to camp, quick-like. Serendipitously, a group of thirteen lively geezers from Salt Lake City were on a sick bicycle trip themselves and happened to be camping at one of the Park's fully-booked campsites. We fooled those idiots into letting us couple dudes camp with them, for FREE! What luck! Seriously folks, they were really kind and interested in our trip and our lean young muscles. It was a super night. Thanks again to the Wasatch Mountain Club!
We tooled around a bit this morning, chatting with the other cyclists and getting our proverbial shit together. No more than an hour into the day's riding, we encountered a really big Australian guy... riding a bike! Matthew (that was his name! (GET IT??? (Alex did that so we could have a double parenthetical; Emelio thinks he is an IDIOT (and now, Gawd, we have a triple parenthetical (ARGHH it's up to five now!!))))) gave us a really slick localtip. It went a little something like this: "Why don't you mates throw a shrimp on the barbie and take a ferry across Lake Powell so that you can meet up with the famed Burr Trail; I want a Foster's: Australian for Beer!" (JK sorry about the racist jokes Matthew, we're just doing it for our racist friends back home! You know we're down with the Aussies and everything that you're doing).
Matthew's tip led us, of course, to Lake Powell--a lake (JK it's a reservoir). When you picture lakes, you probably think of a bucolic tree-filled setting, with fauna galore. L.P. is slightly different, in that it is not like that at all. Our route to Powell was brutally empty, and after some extremely taxing canyon climbs (9% grade for nearly four miles) we stumbled upon some really, really barren desert and a horrible lakeside supply store (square footage: 24. number of people staffing this hole of a shop: 5) where we spent way too much money on paltry comestibles.
We had a hard time convincing the ferry captain that we weren't pirates, but eventually she/he let us on board!
The ferry across the lake, however, was a real delight. We chatted up some megababes (one of them was even Serbian!) aboard the vessel, and they gave us water and applesauce as well as a cucumber. Thanks, Ladies! When we got to the other side, we were hot. Not like that, you guys!! The lake beckoned to us like John Madden beckoning you to buy some Tough Actin' Tinactin. Our swim was both refreshing and in Lake Powell.
We knew we would be riding into some truly back-country areas where campsites would be be both abundant and spectacular. Even so, we never expected to find as sublime a sleeping spot as we did that evening. As the sun set golden over the ruby-red canyons, we pedaled over a completely car-free and sand-shrouded Scenic Backway (From this website: A Scenic Backway is back country road or path that offers outstanding scenic beauty along with historical, recreational and cultural qualities. Backways have surfaces that vary from pavement to gravel with vary degrees of travel difficulty. Backways are generally recommended for vehicles with high clearance and four wheel drive. When planning your trip along a backway it’s advisable to bring preparedness items such as food, water, spare tire, & maps. Cell phones often do not work in the back country. Always tell someone your travel plans).
Things looked great. And then, just in time, we saw her across a crowded room: the campsite of our dreams. In the Land of Many Contrasts, this was just the contrast we needed. Smooth, sculpted white stone mounds billowed up from road. To the west, a range of distant mountains and the blazing, dipping glow-orb. To the east, a radically striated cliff-monster that stood watch like either a massive ancient headless ancestral Puebloan Sphinx or a crumbling fascist temple of terror (see pics for pics).
We made a fire, roasted mallows, and camped out under the open starlit sky (that means we didn't use the tent, doy!).
"What an ass"
It's beddy-bye time for a couple a beat dudes. We're just simply gonna hafta finish the story when we wake up tomorrow! (...if we wake up!!)