August 07, 2005 GMT
America the Big

America is big.

Really, really big.

Huge, gigantic, colossal, enormous.

It is hard to grasp the sheer enormity of the country until you spend entire days at 80 mph trying to cross portions of it. Todayís convenience of cross country flights belittles the vastness of the American countryside by reducing it to a couple of security checkpoints and several hours packed in a cattle car with mouth-breathing bottom feeders.

You should go see it. As much as possible. And, of course, I recommend a motorcycle as your method of conveyance, but I may be biased in my opinion.

I never understood what would make people never leave their hometown. Ever. We all know some of these people - never been out of the state, sometimes even the county, that they were born in. Arenít they at all curious about what else is out there?

Try crossing Utah, for example, on a motorcycle, like we did today. You can see mountains on all four points of the compass, and what amounts to vast wasteland filling all the space in between. An hour later, and the mountain range you could see in front of you may be closer by 70 miles but it looks just the same. Awe-inspiring, bedazzling, and a bit frightening. Letís hope you donít run out of gas while youíre between, say, Salt Lake City and Wendover, NV.

There were a few vehicles parked on the side of I-80 as we crossed the desert. They had strange markings on them that I couldnít decipher. There was no evidence of human remains, so some kind soul must have stopped and picked them up. Or they just melted into the salt and sand, leaving no trace. It could happen.

There were also arrangements of stones in the sand, apparently left by fun-loving tourists, spelling out various initials, nicknames, messages, etc. Hey, that sounds like a lot of fun, letís get out of the airconditioned car and move rocks around in the sand at 100 degrees. Not my cup of tea but I donít really understand most people anyway.

The reason we were crossing Utah instead of heading back towards Denver and eventually Sturgis was due to our decision to run our own race. Ever try to get 20 people with strong individual egos to do anything, especially in a timely fashion? The lack of organization of the group we met in Grand Junction was a big turn off. Dad and I rise early, ride hard, and enjoy the heck out of each otherís company. Waiting for a bunch of other jokers to get their, uhh, stuff together at every gas stop for the next 600 miles didnít sound like a lot of fun. Plus it was back tracking. Heading west and then north, basically reversing the loop we had originally laid out, just seemed more logical. I love having the freedom to change a trip in midstream and God bless him Dad is playing along.

So we headed out of Grand Junction into Utah. Sunrise was nice over the west slope of the Rockies.

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Did I mention that there is a whole lot of not much out there? I mean, itís beautiful country, but dang thereís a lot of oh, rocks, dirt, more rocks, a couple of big rocks, and maybe a sage brush. Oh yeah and mountains.

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We took US 6 / 191 up through Price, UT. Didnít get many pics as the road was fairly involved and the trucks running on it (dang triple trailer units) were in a big hurry.

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This ended abruptly, dumping us on I-15 just south of Provo. The culture shock from scenic two lane canyon road (even with the monster trucks) to eight lanes of overcaffeinated Starbucks junkies who were way more important and busy than me was a bit much. I had to pull over, eat some lunch, and get into my urban warrior concrete jungle mindset to fight through the traffic. This has happened several times already on this trip. My temper has generally disappeared only to reappear with a vengeance, usually when confronted with too many people. This bodes not well for my return to regular society in a month.

Anyways, just north of Provo is Salt Lake City, and yes, they have a big salty lake.

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No, I didnít taste it, but the white stuff here is SALT. Lots of it.

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Remember the desert I mentioned at the beginning of this entry?

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We cleared the desert at Wendover (right by the Bonneville Salt Flats) and headed through a few mountain passes to Elko, NV. We agreed that since we were in NV, we should gamble. Plus, my bill for gas at Wendover was $7.77 - how could I lose? We got a palatial suite at the Best Western

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and ventured out to see what we could see.

I left with $100 budgeted for the evening. I won $40 at blackjack fairly quickly and took Dad to the all you can eat seafood buffet. Turning two Norwegians loose in a seafood buffet is not a money making proposition for the establishment.

Dad called it a night while I hit the blackjack tables for a while longer. I returned to the room having eaten, drank, and entertained myself for several hours, and had $106 in my pocket. Pretty good deal!

Tomorrow we get off the interstates and start hitting some interesting roads south and west towards Yosemite National Park. Thanks to Dave for the reminder to get off the highways!

Posted by Chuck Skarsaune at August 07, 2005 02:00 AM GMT
 
 

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