From Cedar City to Denver, aka Up

Isaiah recovers from his bone marrow transplant, thanks to a donor in Germany.

Isaiah recovers from his bone marrow transplant at Colorado Children’s Hospital, many thanks to a donor in Germany!

This section of my trip started with lots of climbing, and that was pretty much the theme for the next two weeks or so.

Wednesday June 10th found me in Cedar City, visiting my Cousin Kathy and her two sons. I got going pretty late as I took the opportunity to clean out and reorganize my panniers in an attempt to get a fresh start. I also really enjoyed chatting with my cousins and continuously helping myself to just one more slice of coffee cake.

Eventually I left and started my adventure on the Western Express Route. This route has a rather foreboding description on the Adventure Cycling website:

The Western Express Bicycle Route… challenges the rider with extreme weather and riding conditions, as well as logistical obstacles. One’s efforts are rewarded, however, by experiencing some of the least visited and most magnificent areas of the American West…

East of Cedar City, Utah, the route passes through some of the nation’s most isolated communities and several of its most spectacular scenic wonders. Take some time to explore Cedar Breaks, Escalante, and Natural Bridges National Monuments; Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks; and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. To even the most experienced of travelers, these natural sculptures, spires, buttes, and canyons are no less than humbling. The Utah portion of the route could be a worthy destination in itself.

I’d already taken my tours through Zion and Bryce Canyon, so I wasn’t expecting to encounter anything that could really compare. Oh, I was so unprepared. Continue reading

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From Boise to Salt Lake City, aka What’s the Matter With You?

What's the matter with me? Why am I out here by myself saying goodbye to Boise?

What’s the matter with me? Why am I out here by myself saying goodbye to Boise?

Bulls standing in the road, falls in the mud, rugged dirt roads, a swarm of bees, thunder, lightning, overpowering gusts of wind that come out of nowhere, mosquitoes the size of hamsters, clouds of tiny persistent bugs, more flat tires, long stretches of empty road, coffee deprivation, and aching solitude. Just some of the things that come to mind as I think about the week I pedaled from Boise to Salt Lake.

Saying farewell to a newly beardless Dan.

Saying farewell to a newly beardless Dan.

It was really difficult to say goodbye to Boise. Boise had been excellent to me. I loved my hosts, Kristi and Dan. They made me feel so cozy and welcome. They reintroduced me to music, which I hadn’t realized I’d been missing so much.They shared their scotch with me! Of course I didn’t want to leave. But leave I did, and as I was on the road by myself, without Kevin and Sunyoung, outside the city of Boise, I snapped a picture of being on my own again. When I looked at it, I surprised myself with how bewildered and abandoned I looked. A little rattled by the image, I had to remind myself that I’ve done this traveling by myself thing before. Just keep going, it’ll seem normal again soon, I thought. I doubted that, though. I was already missing the coast and the redwoods. I gazed out at the seemingly endless desert and sagebrush, my ribbon of road just disappearing across the horizon, and felt very out of place.

My destination for Wednesday, May 20, was Glenns Ferry, but, as usual, I didn’t get the early start I was hoping for. Wary of the lack of services along my route, I had spent a long time at the grocery store restocking on granola bars and other essentials. Then I made my way to Pleasant Valley Road. The name promised good times, didn’t it? I’m sure it’s very pleasant when it’s paved, but at the time I arrived, all the asphalt was scraped off and construction crews were hard at work. I bounced along and fought the soft dirt and rising dust, almost thinking it would be a relief when Google Maps took me off of the main road and onto a dirt path.

5.20 crummy road

Rough conditions, and only about to get rougher and muddier!

Continue reading