It’s Monday July 25th and I’m drinking coffee at my friends Bill and Brook’s house in Iowa City. I got here Saturday evening around 8:30 pm after an ungodly 524 miles on the KLR 650. That’s one for the books, to be sure! The heat and the humidity from Nebraska to Iowa was absolutely insane. It causes a weird claustrophobic panic every time I stop for gas or a rest stop. I can’t get that helmet off soon enough. The fact that there’s no relief from the heat, even at 85mph, freaks me the fuck out. My palms were sweaty for 300 miles. But, I ace it to my first destination of the trip and all is well.
Back to Monday…Zion was amazing. Tried out the 360Fly mounted to the top of my helmet. Looks ridiculous…
At around 6:24 pm I arrive in Red Canyon and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. More amazing scenery to go along with the heat.
I arrive at the town of Escalante too late to get into the park’s visitor center. I swear like a sailor, since I haven’t a clue as to where my campsite is located. Luckily, I catch a park ranger as she’s heading out the door. She gives me a map and says she’s not sure if the sites are full or not. I get some gas in town. The young guys working there look at me kinda funny and then warn me that my campsite is up in the Hog’s Leg and that most motorcyclist get a bit freaked out by the excessively windy roads.
Those guys in the shop were not kidding. After terrifying hairpins with shear drops on both sides of the road, I was ready to to call it quits. Calf Creek campsite was nearby and there was plenty of daylight, for a change. I continued on, drippy clouds filling the sky and the road starting to make me nervous. I’ve been lucky so far as to not get caught in any serious rain
Well, as it turns out, the campsite IS full. The map that the ranger gave me said there was another site about 15 miles up the road. I rode on.
Suddenly my foot slides off the left peg! I mildly freak out wondering what was going on. The peg was there but it was flopping in the wind. Wtf? I pull over.
A guy making a wrong turn down this gravel road that I’m on stops to see how I’m doing. He’s no help except a vessel for which I can vent my frustrations. He feels my pain and then leaves me with it. I go through my tools, proud that I actually brought tools. None of the sockets I brought fit the goddamn remaining foot peg. Typical. I find a set of pliers in my tank bag. They at least allow me to tighten the foot peg enough to get me to camp.
Half an hour later, I realize I may have not turned off highway 12 where I was supposed to. I see a sign for Chriss Lake and ride precariously up a dirt road only to see this sign. No campsites. Ugh.
There is however a manin a car, hidden behind a bush listening to what I can only assume is NPR. I struggle to get my dual sport bike fitted with road tires over to the guy without dumping the bike in a humiliating fashion. It’s hard. He tells me Calf Creek is a bullshit celebrity campsite. Everyone goes there. I should go to this other site which 15 miles back the way I came. He also tells me to watch out for the deer and the cows. It’s open range out here. Fucking great. It’s drizzling, it’s getting dark, I have a messed up foot peg, and now there are deer and cow on the roads. I’ve had my close call on the trip already, I don’t care for a repeat. I ride back the way I came.
15 miles doesn’t seem all that far until you mix in winding mountain roads, darkness, and animal hazards! It takes me 40 minutes! By now it’s dark. I give up on finding this campsite, I remember passing a dumpy looking hotel and a fancy ass lodge somewhere along this road. Turns out that was in Boulder, Utah. A town I’d become very familiar with over the next day.
It’s a simple joint with prices designed to take advantage of desperate people. $85 for the night. No wifi, as it turns out, and dreadful cellular access. There is, however, a nice restaurant down the street called the Hell’s Backbone Grill.
Locally grown roasted garlic and pesto and crostini. Delicious!
And to top it all off, a New York Strip of Bison, medium rare, with a spicy rub and some amazing grilled veggies. Absolutely outstanding.
The ambience was relaxed if not a bit upper crusty. Staff was super friendly and told me they get all kinds in the joint. Rich folk staying at the fancy lodge as well as people fresh off the trails.
I left very pleased with how my day ended. Sure, I had some difficulties, but good food and drink always put me in a good mood. Ready to take on the next day’s challenges. Naturally, I would put that positivity to the test…