JadeRider Journeys

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Day 14: Arrived in Dallas

by on Oct.02, 2009, under Uncategorized

I arrived in Dallas. I am staying with family and taking the day off from journaling.

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Day 12: Summits, Ice, and Rubber Underwear

by on Sep.30, 2009, under Uncategorized

I need to get this out of my system. The reference to rubber underwear goes back to the old days, when disposable diapers had not even been invented. After the DNA pack had been properly wrapped in cloth diapers, a sorta rubberized set of underpants was fitted on top, in case of leakage. Well, I could have used some of those today. I must confess, today was scary. All the stuff I wrote about riding in the wind yesterday, went out the window today. Two things changed my perspective, wind velocity and water. Yes, I have ridden through storms; and yes, I thought the wind yesterday was pretty strong, but today, leaning the bike to compensate for the wind, and doing it in wet asphalt, with gusts up to 40 mph did not put a smile in my face. I arrived in Raton about an hour ago, and I am writing this while I drink out of a 24 oz. can of beer with lime. I made it through the day because of God’s watchful hands over me. I am not that great of a rider. In all honesty, I was humbled today.

There were plenty of highlights today, as a rode off from Cortez though. I was expecting it to be cold and wet, so a put on my usual assortment of riding gear in layers, and wore my rain suit on top. The ride from Cortez to Durango was beyond description, as I experienced, once more, the magnificence of the changing foliage, along with the panoramas and vistas of the area. Small creeks kept me company and over all, my heart and soul were filled with joy, and admiration. I even began to philosophy a bit, thinking about the bouts between creationism and evolution, considering the complexity, richness, and uniqueness of what lay in front of me could be as amazing, and spectacular, if it had been created in seven days, as if the mechanisms that have lead it to its present state would have been laid down in the blink of an eye, and the process been allowed to unfold. Either way, it is all awe inspiring.

Eventually the road began to climb through the mountains of Southern Colorado, leading me to the Continental Divide, for the second time in this trip, at Wolf’s Pass. At an elevation of more than 10,800 feet, even under pewter and lead skies, the feeling was exceptional, with snow and ice covering the mountain tops.

The day was proceeding pretty well, with an acceptable amount of challenge.  I even managed to score some elk, and buffalo jerky from a ranch on the side of the road, along with an elk antler tip.  I stopped someplace, I honestly can not remember the name, and had the Southern Colorado version of Mexican food, while a blond little kid watched from the table next to mine.

However, just West of Alamosa, things began to change. The southern wind started picking up. I could see the sand getting blown up, and traffic seemed to be enveloped in a fog. All of the sudden, some brownish objects, that looked like giant nanospheres, began to come into my field of view. Soon I realized they were tumbleweeds, being blown across the road. I was trying my best not to hit them, or get hit by them. I have never seen one up close, and had no idea what their consistency might be. What would happen if one of them got stuck between the wheel spokes? Would it lock up the wheel, and send me flying over the handlebars? What would happen if it would get stuck between the chain, and the sprockets? Same result? Being blown by the wind, the tumbleweeds came across the road in unpredictable patterns, and I felt like Han Solo trying to navigate between asteroids, or like I was playing the old Asteriods arcade game. Soon I would find out. I hit one head on, and it just disintegrated. In retrospect it makes sense, since they have to be very light weight to be carried by the wind.

A bit up the road, the Sand Dunes National Park appeared to my left. I was now part of the weather processes that bring the sand to the dunes, and wondered if the sand deposition would reflect this crouching figure on a V-Strom as it caught the wind and sand from the right. Just when I thought it could not get more worrisome, I hit another mountain pass. The wind did not let down, and the roads were wet. All may effort was concentrated at that point, into directing the motorcycle to the white line on my right, gaging what kind of lean I had to apply so that the tires would not go out from under me, and keeping my cool. I could not figure out, how the MotoGP riders, the motorcycle equivalent to Formula 1 car racing, manage to race in the rain. Some illogical mechanism in my head, kept insisting that if I made it to Walsenburg, the point where I would turn South, everything would be fine. Wrong! Yes, the wind did let up while I was in the city, but as soon as I hit Interstate 20 South, it all picked up again. My blessing, and consolation was that it was now dry. Still, at some points, a wind gust pushed me from the right to the left lane, even though I was doing my best Valentino Rossi impression, riding with my right knee out, and my right cheek hanging of the right of the bike. It took sixty agonizing miles to get to Raton. I am thoroughly worn out. At this point though, it looks like, while tomorrow’s ride will be cold again, the wind will have let down some.

In the last couple of days I have gained respect for careful weight distribution, and for the uncontrollable power of wind. Its all about vectors, and its all about physics.

More tomorrow.

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Day 11: Sand Storms

by on Sep.29, 2009, under Uncategorized

As I checked into the campsite yesterday afternoon, the gentleman at the desk let me know that they were expecting strong winds today. Based on my experiences on the ride from Shiprock to Moab, I decided to check into this, and pulled the expect forecasts for the main via points I would hit today. This was a lesson learned at the beginning of the journey; the ride is a full weather experience. The main warnings were based on the fact that a front would cause strong winds to blow from the South, in some cases up to 60 mph, and in exposed areas, would blow up sand. People traveling to the eastwards, or westwards, should be particularly concerned. By the way, as usual, early morning temperatures would be in the 50s.

Last night at dinner, I met a fellow V-Strom owner. I must clarify here, in case you do not know, that the V-Strom is a motorcycle model that Suzuki has been making for many years. It is an adventure-touring bike, and it comes in two engine sizes, 1000cc, and 650cc. The 1000 is usually referred to as a Vee, whereas the 650 is called a Wee. Strom owners are often referred to as Strom-troopers, or members of the [borg] collective, as we share a passion for our unique machines. While the Strom does not have nearly the cult[ure] and following of Harley-Davidson, or cruiser owners, the collective is a tightly knit group. The guy from last night, and I, spent about 20 minutes talking about out excursions and adventures. We shared tips and opinions, and pointers about good riding places. One of the things that he suggested was that I should look at the balance on the load of my side cases, to get better slow handling characteristics. Sure enough, I was noticing that my bike was pulling to the right, and that all my tools were loaded on the right case. Once I distributed the pliers, and grips, to the left, things have been a lot better.

I left Cannonville this morning, fully bundled again. I made a quick stop in Tropic, to get coffee and breakfast, which ended being pop-tarts. I had to buy six of them, even though there was literally nowhere I could put the extra four. I offered them to people in the store, but I guess I would no accept gifted food from a biker sporting a mohawk either. In the store, people were wearing t-shirts, and maybe long sleeves. So were people coming out of cars. I, on the other hand, had three to four layers over different areas of my body. While stopped I was melting, but as soon as I started riding, I knew I had made the right choice in clothing.

The first part of the morning took me West, past the Bryce Canyon entrance. Soon after that the road turned South, and down. With the change in altitude and direction, came a change in landscape, with pines becoming the predominant trees. Once again, red sandstone became the predominant rock, and I was treated to two small tunnels carved into it, on the way to Kanab. I also came across a very unique site, where next to a small lake, and in a fenced in area, someone had erected a statue in South American style, and posted strong warnings against trespassing and hunting.

In Kanab, while I was stopped for fuel, I noticed another Wee-Strom rider. As he passed by the gas station, he noticed me too, and pulled a u-turn just to come over, say hi, and chat for a while. An important fact we tend to share when we meet is the number of miles on the bike. In his case, over 42,000. That is rather impressing on any bike, but like I said, Strom owners are proud of their machines. Another thing that is part of the biker culture, is to wave at on-coming bikers. The wave is rather ceremonial. You do not raise your arm and wave your hand. That would not be cool. Instead, you barely, but noticeably stick you left hand out. Now, you could read lengthy discussions about who waves and who does not if you care to go to the biker bulletin boards on the internet. One thing I must say, having been part of the cruiser culture, and now being part of the adventure touring culture, is that I have yet to meet more enthusiastic and friendlier riders than the A-T folks. As a Christian, a question that follows for me is why we are not so enthusiastic at being identified with our Savior?

After a few hours I approached Lake Powell from the North. I had never seen it from this direction, and the sight was breath taking. Glenn Canyon, which houses Lake Powell, is certainly an iron ore setting for a liquid turquoise jewel in the middle of the desert. The area is very dear to me, as Adelina and I have stored very special memories about the lake since she was just a wee-little one.

Page, which sits on the Arizona side of the lake, was my East turning point. As soon as I passed the Upper Antelope Canyon area, the winds began to pick up. Soon, just as the weather guys, with their 3-D models and computer graphics, had predicted, sand was being blown by the wind from my right. Do you want to add a sense, and flavor, of adventure to your next ride? Make sure to add wind and sand to it, The battle between rider and wind becomes a really interesting one, since the motorcycle needs to be angled against the wind to counter its effects. Under normal circumstances, such a lean would cause the bike to turn, but in this case it produces a straight line. Things become more interesting because the wind tends to gust, so the angle needs to be constantly corrected, so as to not be blown onto the left lane into oncoming traffic, or to veer into the right side of the road. Want to make it a buffet of situations? When you pass a car, like the gigantic motor-homes that roam the planes of the South-West, and then you get a wall that stops the wind, your own force vectors change, and then, suddenly, as you clear the front of the motor-home, the wind blasts you from the right again. Real fun. You ought to try it some time.

I kept riding West, stopping for gas at Kaibeto, where one of the local youngster, standing in the midst of a red sand stream said to me: “Welcome to the desert”. Little did he know, but that is the way I have been feeling for the last week. Highway 160 carried me East. The sign to visit Monument Valley tempted me to the North. Not this time though. It had already been a long day of battle.  The route south of Monument Valley though, was extremely rewarding, though, treating me to the amazing landscapes from the navajo National Monument. Around three in the afternoon, Teec Nos Pos appeared on the horizon, and I knew I was getting close to Cortez. I turned North, and rode on. South of Cortez, I found a Honda dealer, and I decided to make a quick stop to have them adjust the chain tension. This is a maintenance issue that had been nagging me, and remembering the Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance book, I decided to work the splinter off my side. The guys in the shop were extremely nice, and took care of it on the spot, while we talked about long distance riding. I had the chance to share with them my desire to offer testimony on God’s endless love, and His graceful healing powers. When they were done, we hung out for a bit, and then took a cash donation for the work, which they proceeded to put in a large coffee can.

Motorcycles bring together the finest people.

Two things Cuz:
1) yes, we have to do it.  I invited tu viejo a couple of years ago and he turned me down.  Lets talk seriously about it.
2) You do not know this, but you inspired me when we got together in Memphis last year.  You need to read Shopcraft to Soulcraft. <!– @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>

Day 11: Sand Storms

As I checked into the campsite yesterday afternoon, the gentleman at the desk let me know that they were expecting strong winds today. Based on my experiences on the ride from Shiprock to Moab, I decided to check into this, and pulled the expect forecasts for the main via points I would hit today. This was a lesson learned at the beginning of the journey; the ride is a full weather experience. The main warnings were based on the fact that a front would cause strong winds to blow from the South, in some cases up to 60 mph, and in exposed areas, would blow up sand. People traveling to the eastwards, or westwards, should be particularly concerned. By the way, as usual, early morning temperatures would be in the 50s.

Last night at dinner, I met a fellow V-Strom owner. I must clarify here, in case you do not know, that the V-Strom is a motorcycle model that Suzuki has been making for many years. It is an adventure-touring bike, and it comes in two engine sizes, 1000cc, and 650cc. The 1000 is usually referred to as a Vee, whereas the 650 is called a Wee. Strom owners are often referred to as Strom-troopers, or members of the [borg] collective, as we share a passion for our unique machines. While the Strom does not have nearly the cult[ure] and following of Harley-Davidson, or cruiser owners, the collective is a tightly knit group. The guy from last night, and I, spent about 20 minutes talking about out excursions and adventures. We shared tips and opinions, and pointers about good riding places. One of the things that he suggested was that I should look at the balance on the load of my side cases, to get better slow handling characteristics. Sure enough, I was noticing that my bike was pulling to the right, and that all my tools were loaded on the right case. Once I distributed the pliers, and grips, to the left, things have been a lot better.

I left Cannonville this morning, fully bundled again. I made a quick stop in Tropic, to get coffee and breakfast, which ended being pop-tarts. I had to buy six of them, even though there was literally nowhere I could put the extra four. I offered them to people in the store, but I guess I would no accept gifted food from a biker sporting a mohawk either. In the store, people were wearing t-shirts, and maybe long sleeves. So were people coming out of cars. I, on the other hand, had three to four layers over different areas of my body. While stopped I was melting, but as soon as I started riding, I knew I had made the right choice in clothing.

The first part of the morning took me West, past the Bryce Canyon entrance. Soon after that the road turned South, and down. With the change in altitude and direction, came a change in landscape, with pines becoming the predominant trees. Once again, red sandstone became the predominant rock, and I was treated to two small tunnels carved into it, on the way to Kanab. I also came across a very unique site, where next to a small lake, and in a fenced in area, someone had erected a statue in South American style, and posted strong warnings against trespassing and hunting.

In Kanab, while I was stopped for fuel, I noticed another Wee-Strom rider. As he passed by the gas station, he noticed me too, and pulled a u-turn just to come over, say hi, and chat for a while. An important fact we tend to share when we meet is the number of miles on the bike. In his case, over 42,000. That is rather impressing on any bike, but like I said, Strom owners are proud of their machines. Another thing that is part of the biker culture, is to wave at on-coming bikers. The wave is rather ceremonial. You do not raise your arm and wave your hand. That would not be cool. Instead, you barely, but noticeably stick you left hand out. Now, you could read lengthy discussions about who waves and who does not if you care to go to the biker bulletin boards on the internet. One thing I must say, having been part of the cruiser culture, and now being part of the adventure touring culture, is that I have yet to meet more enthusiastic and friendlier riders than the A-T folks. As a Christian, a question that follows for me is why we are not so enthusiastic at being identified with our Savior?

After a few hours I approached Lake Powell from the North. I had never seen it from this direction, and the sight was breath taking. Glenn Canyon, which houses Lake Powell, is certainly an iron ore setting for a liquid turquoise jewel in the middle of the desert. The area is very dear to me, as Adelina and I have stored very special memories about the lake since she was just a wee-little one.

Page, which sits on the Arizona side of the lake, was my East turning point. As soon as I passed the Upper Antelope Canyon area, the winds began to pick up. Soon, just as the weather guys, with their 3-D models and computer graphics, had predicted, sand was being blown by the wind from my right. Do you want to add a sense, and flavor, of adventure to your next ride? Make sure to add wind and sand to it, The battle between rider and wind becomes a really interesting one, since the motorcycle needs to be angled against the wind to counter its effects. Under normal circumstances, such a lean would cause the bike to turn, but in this case it produces a straight line. Things become more interesting because the wind tends to gust, so the angle needs to be constantly corrected, so as to not be blown onto the left lane into oncoming traffic, or to veer into the right side of the road. Want to make it a buffet of situations? When you pass a car, like the gigantic motor-homes that roam the planes of the South-West, and then you get a wall that stops the wind, your own force vectors change, and then, suddenly, as you clear the front of the motor-home, the wind blasts you from the right again. Real fun. You ought to try it some time.

I kept riding West, stopping for gas at Kaibeto, where one of the local youngster, standing in the midst of a red sand stream said to me: “Welcome to the desert”. Little did he know, but that is the way I have been feeling for the last week. Highway 160 carried me East. The sign to visit Monument Valley tempted me to the North. Not this time though. It had already been a long day of battle. Around three in the afternoon, Teec Nos Pos appeared on the horizon, and I knew I was getting close to Cortez. I turned North, and rode on. South of Cortez, I found a Honda dealer, and I decided to make a quick stop to have them adjust the chain tension. This is a maintenance issue that had been nagging me, and remembering the Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance book, I decided to work the splinter off my side. The guys in the shop were extremely nice, and took care of it on the spot, while we talked about long distance riding. I had the chance to share with them my desire to offer testimony on God’s endless love, and His graceful healing powers. When they were done, we hung out for a bit, and then took a cash donation for the work, which they proceeded to put in a large coffee can.

Motorcycles bring together the finest people.

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Day 10: Solomon, you ain’t got nothin’

by on Sep.28, 2009, under Uncategorized

This will be a short note on an awesome day. I am very, very tired. Weather wise it was much of the same as the other days; freezing mornings, and grilling afternoons. The ride today, was anything but run of the mill. While it was supposed to be short, it took me about 8 hours to complete. That, from a track that covered about 220 miles. However, instead of taking the quickest route, I took the scenic one, which put me on highway 56 at Scipio, to SR 24, and then SR 12.

The most extraordinary thing of the day was the crossing of the mountains at 9,600 feet, cutting through stands of golden aspens. What a joyous moment, especially because I had not expected any of this. Repeatedly this scenery brought to mind Luke 12:27. Indeed, not even Solomon looked this great in his finest. No human hand will ever weave fabrics, or smith jewelery that will rival the wonders of nature.

For lunch I was once again able to find a family owned cafe, where people talked about cutting and splitting wood, had their names engraved on their cowboy belts, and strangely, all walked with a peculiar limp. As I left the cafe, I twisted my ankle on one of the two small steps by the door. This explained it all. The people who frequent and own this place, have been twisting their ankles for so many years, that this trait has become a hallmark for the town.

I rode through forests and new rock formations, stopping often for pictures. Calf Creek was a special treat with red rocks, and sand stone. Hells Backbone beckoned me, but I had to leave something for next time. The list now includes the Kodachrome basin, but first, and foremost, the Escalante Grand Staircase.

I settled into my cabin by about 5 in the afternoon, and since Bryce Canyon is only 15 miles from here, I decided to go check it out. The ride was wonderful, but I did not get into the canyon in the end. The area is quickly becoming a theme park, with over commercialized settlements around it. There is plenty to be enjoyed in the area, without having to join the Mickey Mouse club.

I stopped in Tropic, Utah, to have dinner, and while there, met a fellow V-Strommer, who has been riding around quite a bit one would say, since the odometer on his red bike, read over 32,000 miles. Boy do I have a long way to go.

Tomorrow I have an early rise. The ride from Cannonville to Cortez, Colorado promises to be a great one, and a high wind weather watch is proving a strong motivation to high-tail it outta here very early in the morning.

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Day 9: Leaving the Flats

by on Sep.27, 2009, under Uncategorized

Today marked the beginning of the return. However, if you happen to look at the route, there may be moments when you would wonder if that was really the case. The general route though, does make it clear.

The morning was clear and crisp. I was packed and ready to go by 8:30 or so. I headed West, and crossed into Nevada, even though, in this ares, the transition between states is marked by the word ‘Slots’ sprinkled all over the place, instead of the official sign welcoming travelers to the state. I guess that is a way to save tax payers some money. At the intersection between Interstate 80 and Highway 93, I turned South into the vast open plains of Eastern Nevada. The road stretched in front of my, like a deep black wound cut on the golden landscape of grasses, sage, and yellow wild flowers.

Just as I came across a sign that read “White Horse Pass”, the air went from warm to frigid. What had been two layers of very comfortable clothes became irrelevant at that point. Note to self: “The combination of the words ‘white’ and ‘pass’ should from now be taken as a very obvious, and clear signal of impending frost bite”.

I stopped, and added more layers of clothing, feeling like the Michelin man with just two little wheels showing up under me. I continued though, a bit more comfortable now, until a rest stop on my left gave me the opportunity to escape the wind chill of riding. I noticed that there was some sort of Bar, Grill, and Motel across the highway to my right, but besides an old, seemingly abandoned, red pick-up truck, all other vehicles were parked at the rest stop on the left. The abanbdoned motel complex seemed like a great Kodak moment to me, and I pulled into the parking area in front of it. At first it all seemed pretty normal for an abandoned place, with logs piled up in next to the door, an old broken gas pump, some dear antlers nailed to porch beams. Always looking for the unusual angle to shoot photos, I approached the log pile from the left, and after snapping the first photo, I noticed a huge number of flies buzzing around. Unusual, I thought. But the photo snoop had to go on. I caught some shots of the antlers, and then, as I turned around, right behind me, a picnic table with a large spit, and large pieces of charred and raw flesh, covered in flies and surrounded by old beer cans, lay right in front of me. I was in Nevada, I thought, this is just out of CSI. The old red truck became even more suspicious at that point, and slowly back tracking I got away from there as soon as I could. Another note to self: “When all other cars park away from a facility, rotten flesh and crazy killers may be know by the locals to reside in the area”.

I continued riding in the freezing weather until I reached Ely. Someone said to me, not too long ago, that there was really nothing there. However, getting there, and beyond was a continuous treat to the senses. After reaching Ely, I turned East on Highway 6. When I got to the Utah state line, I was greeted by the proper sign, and dismounted to document the moment. At this point, they day had warmed enough to allow me to shed a couple of layers of clothes, and the warm air made for a pleasurable ride. As I rode, I noticed that my mind had started to wander, thinking for things I might face back at the office upon my return. It was then that I came to realize that letting my mind wander to things other than what lay in front of me was like wasting a great gift. Mindfulness is indeed a way to recognize, and take in all the gifts and blessings that have been bestowed upon us. Being slow and deliberate to take it all in is a necessary state we need to put ourselves in to thank our Creator.

In traversing Utah, I have to wonder if this is not the geologist’s heaven. If I ever wanted to explain sedimentation, rock formation, plate tectonics, upheaval, and erosion, I would only need to take someone across this wonderful state.

By mid afternoon I approached Fillmore from the West. As I rode a secondary road, a small twister formed in the fields in front of me. What a finish to the day. I am now sitting in the porch of my cabin, writing these words, planning tomorrow’s schedule, and thinking that very few two-week periods in my life have been soaked in such a spectrum of rich experiences.

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Day 8: The Salt Flats at Dawn, Flying Corsair

by on Sep.26, 2009, under Uncategorized

This day was a double dipping one. I woke up this morning at 6:30, knowing that the sun would rise at 7:30. I confess that I had to drag myself out of bed. The promise of this day though, got me going. I quickly bundled up for the fifty degree temperature ride to the Bonneville Speedway, mounted my bike, and headed out. The Speedway salt flats are a few miles East of Wendover. A small road leads North and then East into the salt deposits. I arrived to the end of the road, and there, in front of me, as far as I could see, lay the famous raceway. I was the only person there. The spectacle started unfolding. Purple and blue began to shoot up from the ground, and reflecting on the sodium crystals. God’s creation began to shine, first in subtle strokes, and then in riotous majesty, in blood red gold, as it has done for millions of years, and yet, with the unique character of every second that has transpired since the dawn of time.

I was blessed with this moment becoming a reality. Standing there I was in awe. All of this was for me to take in. Time rolled by, the sun ascended mightily, and as much as I wanted to, I knew I could not freeze this moment. I just had to soak my soul in it, and feel the joy that came with all this. I was the crowning moment of a long trip. Joy, and pain, both were my companions. Hesitation, and focus were both with me. But more than anything, the love of God, my wife, and my daughter, along with that of friends, held it all together. Thanks to all.

When people heard I was coming here, I was asked if I would run my bike on the flats. My answer was no, I knew my limits, having heard, and seen how slick and slippery the salt beds can be. But being there, there was no denying it. To bring your motorcycle over 2,000 miles to the Bonneville Speedway, and not let the tires kiss the white crystals would be a crying shame. The road the ends at the salt flats just dips into them, and so, after walking around to test the surface (its that German upbringing in me), I rode the V-Strom into the salt. Not at speed you mind, but the feeling was great.

Salt accumulated all over the bike, so at the end, I had to find a gas station to wash the caked up white salt off. After that, I went back to my room and slept for a while, with the idea of taking it easy for the rest of the day. Around eleven I decided to go out for a short ride, since I had read about the aircraft museum on my way in. In store was for me was a huge surprise. An air show was in town for the weekend. I ended up spending four fabulous hours watching the most amazing airplanes. Top of the line was a Corsair, which flew several demonstration passes. The collection of war airplanes was fantastic. Circular engines, wooden propellers, and masterful riveting, all components of machines with heroic stories associated with them. The afternoon was closed by an F-16 demonstration.

The day is being closed as I prepare to set off on the return ride tomorrow. I watched the sun set at Bonneville, but more importantly, I met Daniel at that time. We spent time in fellowship, shared some bread, and shared the Word. All I pray for tonight, is for God to bless Daniel, and face the life he still has to walk.

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Day 7: Into The Salt Flats, and Riding with the Pronghorns

by on Sep.25, 2009, under Uncategorized

I left my cozy little cabin in Moab this morning, feeling that I had filled a big void, and in many ways having created another one. When will I come back? Soon, I said to myself. I took 191 North, and then connected with Interstate 70 West for a short bit, only to veer North again, and proceed through a series of North and West turns to work my way from the South East of Utah, to the North West corner. As the roads carried me towards my destination, I saw a cross section of Utah’s geography, and landscape. The mountains started to wear a golden weave, created by grasses and hay. From the tops you could see the hills were starting to bleed the deep red colors of fall. It is indeed a fulfilling way to travel, when the Interstates are left to the side, and one gets to experience the glory of the country, instead of mind numbing, flat, straight aways.

Close to noon, I started feeling hungry, and, avoiding the trans-national, trans-continental logos, I was treated to a great breakfast of scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon, and toast, while some burly Harley riders kept staring at the V-Strom while killing their lungs, one puff at the time. The food was simple, yet tasty. They even brought me some Tabasco sauce, without my having to ask for it. All I missed were tortillas. It has been seven days.

At Spanish Fork I took another break, to take in a small creek and the colors of fall. From there, I moved onward, and avoided all big cities, including Provo, and Salt Lake. Instead, I went through Goshen. This was a deliberate move, which lead me through a small town, but connected me, once again, with scripture, and God’s promises.

At some point, and quite unexpectedly, the roads turned into dust and gravel. The voice of the lady at the KOA counter in Moab resonated one more time: “They would not put roads in this map if they were not paved”. An unexpected adventure once again, staring me in the face. But onward I pressed, and at the slow turn of a corner in the road, there it was, staring me in the face, a pronghorn. He was standing next to a fence, and as I approached he started running ahead of me. I slowed down, and gave him room. He went on running ahead of me for about half a mile, and then, just like deer do, he suddenly jumped across the road, into an open field, and kept on running for another quarter of a mile. Wow!

The dirt road became difficult at times, especially when pebbles and sand collected all across it. I kept reminding myself that this was a rear brake only type of road, and that my usual front-brake road behavior would lead to trouble. I also kept remembering a motorcycle magazine writer’s words, who when returning to dirt riding kept telling himself, “All gas, no brain”. That part, was especially hard, and I was glad to finally get to pavement by some kind of military base. From there I rode North for about 30 miles, until I hit Interstate 80. There was no other choice here. But being so far North and West, traffic was not bad, and soon I was greeted with the vast salt deposits that characterize this area. I could not contain myself. I had made it here, by the Grace of God.

As I stopped and touched the salt, I was surprised by how hard it is, and my mind connected with the moment when Burt Munroe first gets to Bonneville in “The Worlds Fastest Indian”. Today, I felt like the world’s luckiest Guatemalan.

I spent some time enjoying the seemingly endless landscape of salt and mountains, and then headed to Wendover, to check into my hotel. I had decided to check into the Bonneville Inn. It seemed only fitting. However, while the rooms were nice inside, the overall air was not safe, and I decided to move myself to another location. Wendover is a place of contrast. The East Side, on the Utah side, is like a small town, but cross over into West Wendover, Nevada, and it is like Vegas has spawned a runt. Casinos, neon, lights and noise assault the senses. I am happy sitting here tonight, on the East side. I have taken a real shower for the first time since I left Mark and Stephanie’s in Albuquerque, and the bathroom has been turned into a laundry room. It is amazing what hotel shampoo, and cold water in the sink can do for your delicates.

Tomorrow, the sunrise awaits at the flats.

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Day 5, Forrest Gump, Yo’mama was wrong

by on Sep.23, 2009, under Uncategorized

Life ain’t like a box of chocolates, its like the engine of my V-Strom, sometimes it runs like an ice cream churner, silky and smooth, and sometimes it sounds like when you run the garbage disposal and find out that a tea spoon has fallen inside. So, unless your chocolates contain gravel or cream, revisit your philosophy, Forrest.

When you ride for 9 hours, even in the wonderful, and ever-changing landscape of the four-corners states, your mind wanders. Authors suffering from writer’s block ought to give it a shot. Does it mean I am a writer myself? Not by a long shot; I am just saying.

Based on last nights weather predictions I altered my route for the day, and decided to take a more Southern route, through Northern New Mexico. Thankfully, the temperatures did not seem to dip as low as the lonely people in the Weather Underground predicted, and when I got up at seven in the morning there was a lot less ice on the grass than I had expected. I dragged myself into the Snowmansion, and had my now-customary apples, multi-grain bar and coffee breakfast. I was surrounded by all these people, old and young, that seem to gravitate towards youth hostels. Over the last two days, I observed that while they all have the appearance of free spirited folks, who have given up on the material life, they never seem to be very happy. Instead, there seems to be a spaced out, and sad demeanor in most of them. The mansion is filled with images, sayings, and phrases plastered on the walls. Many of these phrases, and images have roots in Eastern philosophy, and religion, but patently absent is the name of Christ.

Based on my experience the previous days, I moved the bike to a place where it would require less maneuvering once it was fully loaded. To do this, in the pea-gravel strewn parking lot, I did require some help from one of the mansion’s guests. It took me a bit to load all the stuff on the bike, and then I was off. Before my departure I prayed for safe travel, but most importantly, for the people at the mansion, asking God to shire His saving grace, and love on their lives.

The first part of the route took me back from Arroyo Seco to Taos, from there it was to Espanola, where I took a Western turn, and rode through parts of El Camino Real. I really loved the narrow road, which took me through small towns. One of the biggest jewels of the day was Lake Abiquiu. I had never heard of this place. It seems like a hidden treasure, and I can only compare it to a small scale Lake Powell. From there, 84 took me to Chama, where I turned West again and rode towards Shiprock. At some point, the grumbling in my gut was too much to compete with the DL-1000 engine of the V-Strom so I stopped at the first available place. It just so happens it was the Jicarilla Apache Indian Casino. They looked sorta funny at me, again, and I was not sure if it was because I went straight to the food, without dropping a single penny in the slots, of because of the ‘tribal’ hair.

Northern New Mexico must be where God took out His earthen colors, and set out to play. The layers of ocre, red, brown, and white just blow my mind. Add that to the valleys, and mesas, and your mind just feels like retiring to just sit there, and observe.

The day wore on, and I eventually made it to Shiprock, where I turned North on highway 191. In many ways this is where the dream starts unfolding. The vastness of the desert, the rock formations, and the sun-bathed skies open up before your eyes. After what seemed just not enough, I entered Colorado, and started noticing the change in landscape. The horizon turned green, and the hills started to roll. Agriculture takes over. However, I must say that past Cortez, Colorado became a blur. A Northern-Eastern wind started beating on me with such intensity, that between Cortez, and Monticello, in Utah, all I could concentrate on was trying to keep the motorcycle on the proper lane, leaning it to the right. Flags were being beaten, and roadsigns on springs just bowed down to the wind. The required concentration was to intense I had no chance to check the GPS, and missed the crossing between Colorado and Utah altogether.

The Obama administration, through the economic stimulus package, treated me to some more off-roading, as a crew work seriously, and arduously on the approaching road to Monticello, making sure that all pieces of tarmac had been removed. From there, the ride got smooth again, and I soon began to see signs of ‘the promised land’. The red sand stone rocks of the Moab area started to crop in the horizon as I descended into the area. My thoughts turned to God’s promises, and I screamed with joy as all my senses rejoice in the experience of His Word becoming a reality for me. I spotted Wilson’s Arch from the distance, and knew it by name. Even though the sun was starting to come down, I had to dismount and climb up to it. I knew it was a preview of the days to come, and I had to taste it.

Shortly after that I arrived to Moab, checked into my cabin, and rode into town to have dinner. I came upon the Slickrock Bar and Grill, which I remember from the first time I was there, and treated myself to a fish and chips dinner.

As I close for the day, I leave you with another of the gillion thoughts my traveling mind generated today. “The photographer tries to capture the images his soul should be engraved with”.

Paz

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Day 4: late update; change in route

by on Sep.22, 2009, under Uncategorized

The latest forecats has a cold night in store for the area. The temperature is expected to drop into the 20s. This prompts two changes: i) a later departure time towards 9 am, and ii) a re-route using a more southern track through Espanola, Farmington, and Shiprock. The later adds 50 miles but I am praying it is a sfer route.

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