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Leonard and Judy's Autumn Tour 2008, Part 2

Monday, October 6th. (The third day.)

Motorcycle Touring - the View Along highway 72 We were out and on the road from the Green River KOA at 9:00 AM, right on schedule. We headed west on I-70. The weather was cool, but the skies were crystal clear. The snowmobile jacket and chaps were the outer wear of the day. Our map told us to turn south at exit # 91, onto highway # 72. We expected a gas station at this junction, but the area was void of civilization. Not even a vulture could be seen. Loa, Utah and a couple of other small towns were less then 35 miles distant and we had plenty of gas, so we traveled on. Highway # 72 turned out to be the entrance road to hell. It was very curvy, with steep long climbs. The scenery was great with towering monoliths and green valleys. We made it to Torrey, filled the tank and found a nice park to have our lunch.

We left Torrey going south and entered the highway that goes through hell. Highway # 12. It made highway # 72 feel like a freeway in comparison. Highway # 12 was just as steep, with longer climbs, with more curves that were much sharper. The road was narrow and we crossed several "Hog Backs," which has the road winding across a mountain ridge, with no guard rails, no shoulders and deathly steep cliffs with bottomless canyons on both sides. Meeting motor homes was treacherous, because they over hung our lane by a good 3 feet. The speed limit was 25mph on the Hog Backs and I wondered who in their right mind would want to go any faster. Judy says these stretches of highway were beautiful. How would I know? I had my eyes glued to the road as I asked God to absolve me of all my sins.

I was able to observe the scenery a little bit and it was very pretty and unusual. Deep narrow and shadowed canyons, that must contain the ghosts of lost prospectors. I think this is the area where Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, along with "The Hole In The Wall Gang" had their famous hide out. Anyway that is what the sign post said. However we went by the sign to suddenly to really see what cross road one should to take to the Hole In The Wall. I think it's in the Box - Death Wilderness Area, which is part of the Dixie National Forest. Box-Death says it all for this area. Although pretty, it was very desolate and you knew if you wondered off and got lost, you would probably die.

When we reached Escalante, we took a short break and changed out of the warm clothing. It was here that we met "The Desert Doctor." He had seen us stop from his shop window a block away and drove over to make sure we were not having any trouble. He really is a nice guy, full of wit and humor. And he has the only motorcycle repair shop for 200 miles. Something to remember if your in South West Utah.

Motorcycle Touring photo - Highway 12 near Esclante Utah We left Escalante and rode the few remaining miles to Cannonville and the welcome sight of the KOA. At first Shelby, the sweet 15 year old girl on the desk, wanted to put us in cabin # 6, way at the top of the hill. We walked up the hill to see if it was suitable for the bike and trailer. At the top, the road was narrow and would not afford us the space to make a turn around. After explaining this to Shelby, she said, "No problem. You now have cabin # 1." This turned out to be perfect for us.

We did have a panicky moment our first night, when some touring Germans tried parking a huge rental motor home in a lot directly across the drive from our cabin. They nearly struck the motorcycle. In total, 5 of those huge German filled rental motor homes pulled into camp that night.

Tuesday, October 7th. (The fourth day.)

Although we had originally planed to ride to Bryce Canyon this day, we found the morning damp, chilly and overcast. So we opted to take care of other business. Judy wanted to check her business e-mail, using a motel's computer a block away and I wanted to get the bike back looking pretty. It was still muddy and grungy from riding in the rain. Judy walked to the motel and I asked the KOA owners if they had a bucket to wash the bike in discretion, since they had signs posted that people could not wash their RV's. The owner said go to a rear lot where a hose might be laying on the ground and wash the bike on the grass. This I did with a little dish soap and was able to take my time and do a good job. By the time the bike was dried and Judy had returned, it was time for lunch.

Motorcycle Touring photo - Highway 12 Hogs Back After Lunch we rode into Tropic to scout out the stores and then to the town of Rubys Inn to do the same. While sitting on a bench at Tropic, we spotted a farmer bailing hay with a pull behind compacting hammer type bailer. I, being originally from Iowa and farm educated, was explaining to Judy how the bailer worked. As I was pointing to the scene, a nice middle aged lady suddenly stopped in front of us and said, "Oh God, what's the matter?" I replied nothing, that I was just explaining to Judy how the bailer worked. The lady gave a sigh of relief and said, that the tractor driver was her husband and he was putting on a show for some local middle school students. We sort of chuckled at her panic. It seems they are from California and have been in Tropic about two years. And he's already farming? If I was their age and had the money to buy a farm? Why heck, I would just go motorcycling and forget working.

Golly the prices in this area are nearly doubled compared to the big town stores. Everything has to be trucked in, which raises the price. We replenished our groceries and took a brief tour of Cannonville. Two minutes later we were done, since the town is barely a town. We did spend some leisure time chatting with Marsha (The KOA co-owner) and Shelby. Marsha is by profession a Historian and also is a professional on the "lost people" rescue team for the area. She currently is working on a project about the lost ancient Indian tribes of the area. She is an avid skier and her rescue training comes in handy year around, since both skiers, snow boarders and hikers get lost. Shelby is 15 and a full time high school student, although she acts much older then that. We saw a lack of law enforcement in the area and so I asked about this. We were told that several people in almost every town are sworn Deputy Sheriffs, having gone through the state required training and that they are called upon when ever necessary. With all the tourists we figured there was bound to be some crime. Yesterday on highway 12, we did see a State Trooper talking or citing a motorist for some reason. That was the only cop of any sort we saw the entire trip.

While eating that night, we met a husband and wife in the pavilion. She was about 20 years younger then he, but she told him exactly what to do in great detail. His lack of spine was almost comedic. We felt like we were in the middle of a TV sit-com. We don't remember her name, but his was Walter. We heard her yell "Walll'ter!! many times while camping there. They were nice people, but boy was she bossy.

After supper we met a husband and wife each on their own BMWs from Germany. They were not with the motor home group, but were touring for two years across North America. Their English was poor, but sufficient enough to get them by. They were pleasant people to camp with and we enjoyed learning about different German food preparations, suitable for camping. Also what we found amazing was the size of their three room tent when open and how small it was when compacted for the bike. Just as amazing was how fast they could set up and break camp. They were very experienced.

Later that night, the wind shifted, the air warmed and the skies cleared, promising a good tomorrow.

Leonard and Judy's Autumn Tour - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5

More of Leonard's articles: Two Wheels by the Campfire

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