Panaca to Valley of Fire State Park, NV

Slot Canyon in Valley of Fire State Park

Old man winter has booted me out of Nevada. Just too much arctic cold!!!

So now we’re heading south to 70*F country. We stopped at Valley of fire to see the slot canyon and we saw it. Done.

Valley of fire is like a miniature Arches Nat’l Park just a few miles north of Lost Wages NV. Also very close to California judging by all the CA license plates. The campgrounds were mostly full when we arrived at noon. There were a few spots left until about 2. Popular place

Valley of Fire to Somewhere in the desert south of Kingman, AZ

Saguaro south of the snow

Down the paved trail to an overnight camp spot an hour south of Kingman. We camped among the saguaro cacti and it was only about freezing come the dawn

Cacti camp to Oracle AZ

Cacti Garden

More pave eastbound across Phoenix. Seventy miles of city-driving. Yuck

Now we can sit at friends place and get some projects done! YaY!

Escalante to Panaca, NV

Got Rain?

The Escalante River failing to get to my pant cuffs

The Escalante River in Escalante is not even deep enough to get my socks wet! To be fair we’re only 15 miles from its beginning and it’s November. Even so, the west needs rain!

A few weeks ago friends and I were looking at a map of the western US and wondering where it still rains. Turns out not many places are without a drought

Drought Map via NOAA

I also looked up the average annual rainfall in the US and it looks a bit like the drought map. If I want wet socks I’m going to have to move out of the desert

Rain fall map via NOAA

Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada

Slot Canyons in Cathedral Gorge State Park, NV

What a delightful surprise this place is. Plenty of slot canyons, cute little campground, and sand. Again with the sand. It was discovered by settlers in the late 1800’s along with the mining boom and became one of Nevada’s first state parks in the mid 1930’s. The campground has electric hook-ups and Verizon wireless service. Nice

Slot Canyons in Nevada
So many slot canyons within walking distance of the camp spots
The stairs to a very cool view point
Bridges!

Fruita to Escalante, UT

I-70 west from Fruita is the same as it always is. We turned onto Utah Hwy 24 West of Green River like all the peeps going to Powell but at Hanksville we struck out west to Swing Arm City OHV area where we ate dinner and watched the sun set.

Swing Arm City, UT
Sun set at Swing Arm City
Silt + water + sunshine = mud tiles

Next morning we took on the wyndy blacktop through Capitol Reef N.P. and on to the Dixie National Forest. From UT 24 we jumped onto UT 12 and it got twisty and wyndy! This road would be SO much fun on a motorcycle! After 3.5 hours of slow climbs and descents we rolled into the Utah State Park in Escalante.

I need this!

The park is small, the spaces are small, and the visitor center is just a wood-framed skeleton. Looks like it will be done for the 2021 summer season.

One of the boys is white with orange spots and I’ve always wondered what background that would be camo on. Now I know!

Moab is Full

We went over to Moab to ride the rides and man is that place full to the brim! In addition to being jeep-something week it was also dim-wit in 2wd van getting stuck in the sand week and wait in line forever at City Mark-up week

On the plus side I did see some squeeee and I got to ride all the rides

So squeeee

I rode the Gemini Bridges trail then walked out to the bridges. First time I was here I rode my bike over the bridge

Over looking Hwy 128

The slick rock trail was still as hard as I remember it being. Mikel and Polly were also in town for the week so we went out to the KlonZo area and rode all the flowing trails out there

Getting ready to ride The Slick Rock Trail

I met up with Tom and the Lost Box for some fun rides

Troy and I out on the LaSal Loop Rd

Troy and I managed to get in a ride from Fruita to Moab via Gateway

About 6″ of white stuff fell out of the sky

End of the season! An early storm blanketed Fruita with some much needed wetness

White Rim Trail

This little gem has been on my bucket list for about 20 years. I wanted to ride it on my XL650L but the fuel tank was too small. Now that I ride the All-new for 2017 Huskie Adventure-450 I had a chance at it

I met up with Stevan of Loose Nut fame out on the trail. Big fun meeting fellow riders!

I met Stevan about 55-miles into my ride. He had come from the west and already done the hard 2/3-rds of the trail when his WR250 died. I towed him a couple miles to the Gooseberry campground where he was able to make cell phone calls. After I rode west Stevan said, “thanks for the tow Mike……..a good Samaritan couple found me at Gooseberry and hauled me out of canyonlands in the back of their van……8 hour ride sitting on a cooler holding up the WR”

Vans are cool!
Less than 3-miles to civilization. Straight up, but only three miles

While I was eating a snack at this cross-roads a guy walked down from Island in the Sky. He said it was very steep!

I found these cute little condos out on the trail. Nice western views
Nice little airport. Wouldn’t want to have to fly the missed approach

Back in the mining days there was an airport here. No plane on Sundays

The Green river on the west end of the trail. It smelled so good next to the river Mmmmm

The western section of White Rim Trail is a lot more challenging than the east parts. I really liked the section from Potato Bottom to Mineral Bottom/ Creek. Only one steep hill with shin deep sand so I’m good

Western Rim Trail

I’ve been hearing fun things about the Western Rim Trail in Utah so I went and rode it

Delightful Views
I think I see Radiator Springs!
Made it!

After I finished it I discovered I rode it in the hard direction. It’s easy if you start on the south west end and ride it toward Rabbit Valley. All the steep loose hills are descents instead of climbs. This would be more fun on a bike, and a lot more fun on an ebike. Now you know

Loop de Mesa

Delightful day in the cool mountains

The temperature climbed back up in the 100’s so I took a drive to the high country. I took the frost-heave highway (US 50) to Delta then 92 toward Hotchkis, Crawford, Paonia, Somerset, Redstone, and back thru Glenwood and I-70 west

Sleepy Main Street in Crawford

Crawford was still asleep when I got there. It looks like a nice little town right at the edge of where the desert turns to green forest. Further south it looked like a delightful forest road with hay fields dotting the landscape. I went north via the Crawford Rd to Paonia. The road to Paonia drops out of the green and into the brown/ grey desert. It looks like it has never rained out there. Ever

Town Hall

Paonia was also a bit sleepy-faced. The grocery store is a decent size, but there is no sign out front saying “Grocery Store”. They also don’t do face coverings in Paonia (Written Sept 2020 – pandemic days). Real estate is spendy and there seemed to be a few rich-folk about

All about local coal

I took hwy 133 over McClure Pass and traveled thru Somerset along the way. Coal mining town gone bust from the look of it. The further I went toward Carbondale the more I saw expensive new SUV’s flying down the pavement. Ah, the smell of money in the fall, mmmmm

Monument to the miners

At the bottom of the pass sits Redstone. It was a company town for the coke ovens (the meth labs were in Marble on the Crystal River, hence crystal-meth). Seems coke was a thing besides a drink and a drug

Got coke?
Restored ovens
Below is a section of the tale of the coke business in Redstone

“These ovens comprise part of the Redstone Coke Ovens Historic District, where men at the turn of the century [19th to 20th] “coked” some of the country’s finest metallurgical coal, turning the coal into coke, or pure carbon. Brought by narrow gage railroad from the mines above Redstone at Coalbasin, the coal was loaded into the top of the 249 beehive shaped ovens. Redstone cokers cooked the coal for two days then shipped it to Colorado Fuel and Iron in Pueblo, CO, the biggest steel mill west of the Mississippi. There the Redstone coke, limestone, and iron ore were dumped into blast furnaces to create steel, which made the locomotives, steel rails, and barbed wire that settled the American West.”
These coke ovens were used between 1900 and 1909, then again from 1959 to 1961

Welcome to Redstone

Fruit to Moab = Check!

The current Welcome to Utah sign on old highway 6 & 50

I spent last fall testing out routes between Fruita and Moab and I worked out several of them. Some are dirt-bike friendly. Others are big twin-friendly. Yesterday the temperature dropped from the 100’s down to the low 80’s so Zoom! off I went on the Huskie Adventure-450

All that’s left of the Colorado/ Utah Border Monument is the base plate

I rode old highway 6 & 50 from Fruita out to Sulfur, UT then jumped on a dirt road which turned into a gas-line road and took that to the Cisco / Agate road. South to Agate past the dead cow then west to the Cisco Pump House Road on the Kokopelli. From there south to the Kokopelli trail, west to the first fork (turn right) and over the easy-way to UT 128 (easy on a dirt-bike – not for big twins)

Old concrete mile post on the CO UT border. Notice how the fence, the cut in the trees all the way to the horizon, and the mile post all line up

Down 128 a mile or two then west again on the Kokopelli Trail / Owl Creek Road to Dewey Bridge. It was getting late and the Huskie Adventure-450 was low on fuel (I didn’t fill up before leaving Fruita) so I rode the wyndy blacktop to Moab, gassed up and rode UT 128 to Danish Flat and hopped on the super-slab east to Mack then 6 & 50 to the house. 189 miles round trip, 6.5 hours

Twilight

A fuzzy glow

The Sun, half as bright as a car’s turn signal and just as amber-colored, is about an hour and a half from setting. It’s dark enough for automatic headlights to come on

The power of the Sun so muted by the smoke the temperature has dropped from 95* to 85*F in less than an hour

White flakes drift gently down like snow on a windless February day; ash from the Pine Creek fire

We are hoping for rain in September

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

So there are a few fires burning in Colorado this week. One is snowing ash on everything in Fruita, and the other has the interstate closed so all my online orders are delayed a few days

Sunrise over the Pine Creek Fire
Nasty ash on everything these days
A red sun

So now we’re wearing an ash mask on top of our Covid mask to stay safe. The good news is we only have to put up with this until the rainy season which maybe starts in October????? So only two months or so away