Torrey to Hanksville
Enjoyed a short and spectacular ride through Capitol Reef this morning, complete with rainbow and other bits of nature's majesty. Mostly downhill so we were free to zip about and enjoy the view of dynamic red rock spires. We stopped to get a close look at the petroglyphs. Surpringly, this was a highlight for me. Typically I breeze by the historical parts in favor of natural vistas and a silent bike ride. But, I was really in awe of the bizzare stories told in the walls of the cliff. Many of the stories involve deer, antelope and men with crazy shaped heads. But they also include mystical swirlies that are hypothesizes to represent shaman and spirit creatures.
Met two English cyclists in the morning. They were chipper and both looked like Harry Potter. Sorry, but it's true. They told us Hite, our next destination was, "Total shite. Nothing there." Swell. We have had more than our fill of "nothing there". The terror of running out of food and water has been a looming cloud. Not to mention, absence of a shower after a 70 mile ride can cause your tent to smell like a stable.
We made it to Hanksville in the early morning and considered pushing on. But Ted, the owner of a lovely campground/steakhouse, instructed us not to go. He said the winds were gusting up to 50 and the heat by the afternoon would be well into the hundreds.
Ahhhh, lovely Hanksville. You can...sit on a picnic table, stare at the road. You can watch the townspeople get their mail anx groceries on four wheelers. You can walk through a gravel park loaded with house boats from the 80's that has become a make shift RV park. Believe me when I say, there is nothing more depressing or surreal than seeing people come out of the top deck of a rusted house boat in the middle of the desert. I want to shout, "How was the fishing today?"
Chris and I decided to sit in the steakhouse for the majority of the afternoon. Crippling heat and walls of mosquitos kept us too scared to enjoy the four square feet of watered lawn in this desert town.
We came upon a couple we had met at a grocery store in Torrey. They have been out in the mountains, camping and hiking for some time; really roughing it. Glenn and Leslie are both teachers. We find that this is one of two answers given when people are travelling in the summer. The other is: We are European. We have lunch with the two of them and afterwards they offer to drive us out to the Goblins, a oddly shaped group of rock formations just a bit out of town.
Riding in their dusty VW station wagon, packed to the gills with camping and cycling gear, I am experiencing one of those times my mother has taught me to embrace. I'm having a perfect moment. I am in the exact place I want to be. There is enough cloud cover to make all the mesas and buttes change color completely. Glenn and Leslie tell stories of teaching and how they met. Chris talks about his final project as an Eagle Scout.
We arrive at the Goblins. They are spectacular. A proper playground. A million places to hide and climb. And so we do. We wander for a bit, but know that the bikes and our entire lives are sitting behind a laundromat, so we head back. On the drive back to town, Leslie magically spots an antelope from the car. We get out and inch into the field to get a better look. A rustle from our walking stirs him and we see, as they stand, one by one, that there are nine! I have just become a photographer for National Geographic. My heart is jumping. Leslie manages to get several excellent photos.
We return to the campsite and part ways. How lucky we are to come upon such cool people on a daily basis. I lugged a stinking pile of clothes that had nearly grown limbs and walked away and took them to the laundry, where I met Mario, another west bound cyclist. Mario, a sun soaked dude with a mop of shiny black hair, told me about riding the south, up from Florida. I asked him if he got lonely, travelling alone everyday. He said it was, indeed, lonely. I can't fathom it. I am riding with three other people and I'm still lonely. He told me about going fishing in the Rockies. Sounded like a good time.
Chris and I attempted to retire but only after a full blown war against the mosquitos. I look like I have the chicken pox. It's grizzly. Slept directly behind the restaurant, which was a totally poor choice. Drunk men on ATVs came tearing through the gravel at three in the morning. Get this: fighting about the existence of god. Thanks a lot guys. You couldn't do this in your home? Strangle.
We're leaving this godless land as early as possible tomorrow morning.