Three days of camping are over and on a chilly Sunday morning we pack up camp carefully trying to put everything back in its original place. The winds gusting through the tall straight pines that dot the campsite makes packing the tent a little tricky but with skilled folding on Anne’s part we are done. As we ride out of the Fort Tuthill County Park outside Flagstaff Arizona we leave behind new friends, but take away great memories. I understand why people come back year after year. Maybe we will return?
I realise that we have been on the road exactly one month. That exciting moment when we rode out of Air Canada Cargo in Toronto has not diminished in our minds, but the route we had planned back then up to Alaska has been blown into oblivion by the late arrival of summer.
After seemingly spending the better part of a month running away from Jack Frost’s icy fingers, we are finally turning north: this late wintery weather must be coming to an end, although the weather forecasts do not paint such a sunny picture where we are heading. In the East of the USA they are having record high temperatures for this time of year and the mid west there is flooding and storms, so no complaints here. But North we must go, we need to get to Vancouver by early June to have Streak and Storm prepared for shipping to South Korea. We still have a long wish list of places to visit and roads to ride. We acquired a couple of the Butler motorcycle maps at the Overland Expo and have been pouring over the possible routes though the mountain passes, but little footnotes like ‘does not open to 1 June’ and the sight of snow still capping the lower peaks as we ride, tempers our enthusiasm. Those roads will remain unridden by us this time in Utah anyway.
As we head towards Page on US89, I realise that we are now travelling over the same road we rode in May 2012 on a pair of Harley Davidson Road Kings. Our first motorcycle trip in the USA and it had to be a Harley! We felt so cool as we rode our pair of large noisy Harleys across the SW of the USA for 10 days from Los Angles to Monument Valley and back.
We are combining new and old roads, hence the title of this blog. Onto US89A and past the Vermillion cliffs again which impressively look down onto the Colorado river which we cross at the last bridge before the start of Marble Canyon leading into the Grand Canyon. For all the impressive road construction in the USA, the next river crossing is at the other end of the Lake Mead at Boulder dam which is some 288 miles / 463 kilometres by road away, quite a gap and unlikely to be bridged anytime soon.
The north rim of the grand canyon does not open until the next day, another sign that we are early in the season, so we continue northwards and see Zion National Park in the distance. We have been there twice before and do not plan to visit again. It may seem a little strange to be crossing the United States and missing all the major tourist attractions, but as we have seen many of them previously they are not on our itinerary this time. This leads me to a phrase used by one of our loyal followers, Lesley, who said “Love the gems you find” which made me realise that while we do find gems as we travel, there are so many more out there we pass by leaving for others to collect – the world is covered in them, we only collect a very small selection to place in our knapsack of memories. The rest of the gems are waiting for you out there.
In Kanab, we see a restaurant we stopped at on the Harleys, it’s a little like a game to determine what we remember and what we have forgotten. From Kanab, we diverge from our memories and head north on US89 which provides a nice slower alternative to the interstate highway. We cover over 360 miles / 580 kilometres to Brigham City, this is our longest day as we travel to get ahead of a forecast snowstorm through beautiful countryside and interesting small towns. Some towns seem to be thriving and have a well kept look, others run down with closed shops and abandoned houses. What are the economic dynamics that allow one location to prosper and another appear to be in decline?
At lunch in Manti, UT, we are approached by Jasper a local 12 year old, interested in Streak and Storm. We have an enjoyable conversation about travel, motorcycles and his plans for the future. It is wonderful to meet young people and feel their enthusiasm: they are unfettered by our experiences and the limitations we impose on ourselves. To hear them talk about all they want to achieve raises ones own energy levels. We leave refreshed by both food and conversation.
Twenty minutes later, we pull over to allow Anne to sleep off her sugar hit from the hamburger bun at lunchtime. This allows me to take yet another photo of Anne asleep to support my argument that I do all the blog work. It is very frustrating for Anne to find food on the road that is not loaded with sugar. However 10 minutes later, Anne is back on her feet and we are away again.
The following day, more winter weather is due, again, but we are able to find a window between the rain/sleet/snow forecasts and wend our way from Brigham City to Idaho Springs via a more secondary route that takes us into the Cache valley where we take US91 northwards.
Last time we were in Idaho Falls we visited KLIM, who make the motorcycle clothing we wear every day and has stood us in good stead for the last few years. So a return visit would allow us to see how they had developed since then. We heard the wind and rain overnight and woke to find that Anne’s bike cover has long gone and mine is half off. A fruitless search follows, but Anne’s bike cover is at least one county away, oh well.
Leaving our hotel, we encounter light sleet and hail that sheets and dances across road as we ride north to KLIM. The weather makes our arrival look a little more adventurous. The building has changed and grown with a new KLIM store onsite. We are greeted by Rhylea whom we met on our last visit and her colleague Kelsey. We are taken on a tour of the new facility, introduced to a number of staff as we move from department to department. It is amazing to see all the new gear they are in the process of designing, building, mocking up, spread across various work tables. We have a long chat with Jayson, Product line manager and Pat a senior designer who had organised for Anne to be one of their product testers after our last visit. Jayson is very keen to get our views on the KLIM gear and the other layers we are wearing. It is great to see that they are all genuinely interested in our opinion of their gear, having given it such a tough and long work out! It was particularly exciting to be shown their new range – a real privilege to be trusted with all the information they shared with us.
We have replaced Anne’s bike cover, stocked up on a few bits and pieces, completed this blog entry and for once planned tomorrow’s route through the wilds of Idaho on the back roads to the NW. See you on the other side.
– Anne & Anthony