December 09, 2007 GMT
Utah & Colorado

After leaving Vernal the next morning but keeping the prehistoric theme, we head out East and cross from Utah into Colorado, heading for a place called Dinosaur.


We had planned to visit the Dinosaur Museum which is housed in the actual quarry that the bones were found in. Or at least it would be, on reaching the museum entrance and sitting through the introduction video we were told that we could walk around the quarry and view the odd find, but the major attraction of the museum itself (that we had just seen in the video) was actually closed due to subsidence and was in fact falling down and had been for several years (I guess the 80's clothing in the video was a clue).
I asked the curator where all the fossils had been moved to, his reply "oh, they're still in there" - priceless!


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Prehistoric Landscape


We conclude that there are no dinosaurs in Dinosaur and disappointed we move on. It's now lunchtime and we decide that we can reach the town of Grand Junction by last light.


The route down was to take us through the 8300ft Douglas Pass, as we climbed higher it got colder and colder until it eventually started to snow. After stopping to put my waterproofs on in a cow field, we continued on up the second gear hairpins avoiding the odd truck as we do so, the view from the top was cool and as we start to descend the other side the snow stops and things warm up slightly as we again enjoy the twisty downhill sections of road.



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Douglas Pass


As we reach the town of Loma things have really warmed back up and its now just a short run to Grand Junction, which proves to be a big town.

Stopping for our one meal of the day (well the American portions are huge) we eat in a great Italian resturant, top food, great service and feel relaxed as we put the tent up in the nearby campground.



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Its then that I start to feel a little too relaxed, that great Italian clearly did not agree with me, as I was to spend the rest of the night running from the tent to the toilets, the first time I was still in my riding gear - ever tried getting out of motorcross boots and armoured trousers quickly? No fun.


While I am busy, Em has been talking to a couple camped next to us, they are from Utah and say we must visit Dead Horse Point while we are in Moab (which is our destination for tommorow anyway) and kindly give us their Utah map for reference.


Next morning we pack up early and get on the road, thankfully I am feeling better as we head south west towards Moab. The roads are stunning, little traffic and great views, the temperature is in the low 80's and the morning passes quickly as we cross back into Utah.


Gradually the road enters the canyon areas and the Colorado river comes into view, its amazing to think that this great river carved this landscape.



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The twisty tarmac road continues to follow the river and steep cliffs of red rock, before finally opening out into a scene that was familiar to me - big red rocks climbing to the skys from the valley floor, this view has been used in so many westerns, I felt like I had been here before.



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We turn off the tarmac onto the red dirt road to ride into the scene from the western, the track is washboarded and we have to cross a dried up river bed - all great fun.


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After about 15 minutes we arrive at Fisher Towers for the obligatory photo opportunity.



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We meet a nice couple from Scotland while we are stopped there and chat for half an hour. They are hiking in the area and it is nice to talk to them as we have a good laugh together whilst all sharing our travelling tales. They have been staying in Moab and give us some advice on the area.


After a bit more off road fun heading back to the tarmac we continue to follow the canyon towards Moab.



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On route we pass a Ranch that is now a guest house and activity centre, they also have a museum dedicated to the films that had been made in the area, such as Thelma & Louise and John Wayne's Rio Grande.
It was a really good stop and the museum was excellent.



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We reach Moab and get the tent up in the KOA campground, the tent is pitched on sand as grass out here is non existent, we also use rocks instead of tent pegs as the ground is rock hard. The temperature is in the 80's still as we decide to ride into the centre of town to get something to eat.



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Moab is a good place to stop, its a real adventure junkies paradise with all sorts of wild things to do - if its dangerous or thrilling then you can find it here.


We pull into the car park of a Diner alongside a group of Harley riders who have just arrived, Em gets talking to them and we swap stories. They are from Texas and are amazed at our trip and we talk to them for a while before following them into the diner. They are on the table behind, once they had eaten they stop by to shake our hands and wish us well and we return the sentiment.


It's then that we call the waitress over to get the cheque only to be told that our bill has been paid by the Harley riders, unbelievable! I rush out the Diner just in time to catch the guy I think picked up the bill, "that was very genourous of you" I say, he replied "I dont know what you mean" with a smile. I say to him that next time Em and I are in a restaurant with a fellow biker we will pick up the tab and see if we can't get a thing going across the states. He nods then rides off with the noise only "screamin eagle" pipes can make.



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We decide to stay in Moab for another night, so next day we leave the tent up and go and explore Canyon Lands and head out towards Arches National Park.

As the day draws to a close we head out to Dead Horse Point (as recommended by the kind couple in Grand Junction), on the Canyonlands road, the sun is getting low as we reach the point and the views are simply jaw dropping - sorry America, but this place knocks the Grand Canyon to the weeds.



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Simply stunning


Em insists we stay to watch the sunset and I'm not arguing, this place is amazing and looks better the lower the sun gets.


Deadhorse point was used by Indians to catch wild horses, they would roundup and chase the horses toward the point knowing that they had no where to go, once at the edge they would not jump off and were captured instead. I find it fascinating how they used nature to their advantage in this way.



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The sun setting up here is just spectacular with the last beams of sunlight illuminating the red rock canyon all around us. There are other people around taking pictures too and we get chatting to a few. You can see for miles up here as the canyon is all around you, it is very peaceful here with no noise and I am reluctant to leave. As we head back to the bike, Darren stops to get this picture of the moon.



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We ride back to camp, its cooler now and the setting sun makes the red rocks around us glow, its an amazing scene and we both realise that this night will probably be one of the highlights of the trip.


Next day we pack up and leave Moab and continue to head south through Utah, the road is flanked by rocky outcrops. We keep moving until we reach "The Valley of the Gods", a dirt road that winds its way around stunning rock formations, it was great to get some gravel again.


I don't remember the gravel like Darren, just red rocks and really, really bumpy! The first part of the road was heavily washboarded and made my brain shake in my head.


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Then the road winds around the valley past each of the godlike statues of red rock formations. It got hillier and bumpier as we continued with the road washed away every 100 metres or so.



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Darren actually decides to stand up on the pegs halfway round as he says he can see over the hills better, but I know he is just up for some off road fun instead!

This is confirmed by him speeding up in certain places and sliding us around the various potholes and hazards on the road. We meet a car coming the other way which has stopped to take photos, they look at us like we are weird, I give them a big wave as we pass in a cloud of dust - this was really good fun!!


As the off road adventure finishes and we reach the tarmac we suddenly realise the time - 4pm and we still have to find food and a place to stay. We had wanted to ride the Moki Dugway (a famous gravel road nearby) but realising we were out of time we decide to head off and come back tomorrow.


We head off towards Mexican Hat.


This place is named after the rock which looks like a mexican wearing a hat!



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We press on towards the town, this was where we expected to stop for the night, but the town proved to be not what we expected and what accomodation we found, was expensive and poor.


We leave this place and head for Monument Valley further down the road, to get there you pass through lands that have been given back to the Native Indians, I was really gutted to see that many of them did not give a hoot about their birthright - they had littered the entire area around the road, particularly with beer bottles, broken glass glinted back at you from everywhere.


We reach Monument Valley and like before you recognise the area as the backdrop of hundreds of movies. Again, we decide to head back here the next day.



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It's getting late in the day and we still have not eaten and need to find a place to stay, we cross over into Arizona and the town of Kayenta.
We grab what food we can, but have no luck with campgrounds or motels, leaving us no option but to press on. This means that we have to ride in the dark - something we told ourselves we would always try to avoid.


The darkness is an issue for a number of reasons, the main one being wildlife, you just can't see whats about to jump out in front of you. Also the roads in the remote places can be rough, potholes and ruts are common and a big problem if you can't see them.


On checking the GPS it looks like our best option is the town of Page, some 180 miles away and in the dark would take us over three hours. The ride was thankfully uneventful but along the roadside you could see the eyes shining back at you from the Deer and other animals, if they had stepped out it would have been game over. We make a point not to ride in the dark and stop earlier.



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As Darren says, it isn't ideal being out on a desserted road at night, this did make me feel apprehensive and as the sun set it got cold quickly, so I tucked myself in behind him as we continued. The setting sun was a beautiful backdrop to a fun day, but once it gets dark the scenery is very different and eerie.


On reaching Page we were exhausted and ready for some rest, we had ridden over 350 miles which is well above our average. This sadly means we are too far away to head back for the Moki Dugway - oh well, maybe next time.

We book into a Super 8 motel and get some rest before leaving Page for a next big destination - The Grand Canyon North Rim.



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Posted by Darren Homer at December 09, 2007 03:14 PM GMT
 
 

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