Leaving the southern end of Flaming Gorge yesterday, I punched in Moab in the GPS and it actually routed me the way I wanted to go - south to Vernal then down the western side of Colorado along SR-139 - a road I traveled a few years ago and fell in love with because of its beauty and history.
Vernal, UT is the dinosaur capital of Utah. I didn't stop at the dinosaur museum, but it's on the list for next time I'm through the area. The entire region (all the way to Dinosaur, CO) is dinosaur territory. If you're into it, this is where you want to be.
South from Rangely, CO to just before the ascent to Douglas pass, SR-139 is chock full of Native American Indian petroglyphs and ruins. I explored this area a few years ago and took many photos at all the turn outs and exhibits. I was going to share these photos with you here, but I'm on the road and don't have them on this computer. I thought I already posted them on the website, but... Oh well. You'll just have to ride up and check it out firsthand. Just as with the dinosaurs, if you're into American Indian history, this is one of the areas in the west you'll want to explore. The vast majority of exhibits are right off the highway, but there are some more remote exhibits that, if you have the right bike or don't mind a little dirt/gravel, are certainly worth the effort to see.
The road surface on the ascent to Douglas pass is in need of some repair and there is some minor construction going on, but there's some room for improvement. I'm sure they'll get to it. At the top of the pass are some amazing views of either side.
After reaching Loma I decided to head toward Grand Junction and change my oil. It's been 7k miles and I felt like treating the Strom to an internal mechanical bath. I stopped at
Grand Valley Powersports 2865 North Ave Grand Junction, CO 81501 970-263-4600
They let me change the oil in the parking lot and supplied an oil pan and funnel, but only after charging me $16 for a filter. The shop next door sold Amsoil and I thought I'd give it a try for the first time. Expensive, but if it's as good as they claim, giddyup. I'll certainly put it to the test over the next several weeks.
With the fresh oil change, I was ready to make a b-line to Moab. I love approaching Moab from the east as it's a fine excuse to run SR-128 from Cisco to Moab along the Colorado river. I liken this road to SR-170 between Lajitas and Presidio, TX. They both run along the river. They both go up and down and around and around and they both offer some spectacular scenery. Running both of these roads should be on every motorcyclist's list of gotta-do's.
While approaching Cisco I could see the afternoon rain in the sky. The rain didn't materialize until about twenty miles from Moab and I was able to enjoy a good portion of 128 along the Colorado river.
The ride into Moab was interesting with a sand/rain storm from hell. See the last picture above. Coming around some corners was a little shaky as I was met with head-on blasts of wind and dust and rocks in some cases. It was brutal. I thought about stopping a few times, but figured I had a better chance of keeping the bike upright if it was moving. So I carried on. The storm let up just before Moab and I found a nice bed at the newly remodeled Inca Inn in downtown. The mexican food at La Hacienda wasn't too bad either.
I was really looking forward to a nice, warm ride across southern Utah the next morning, but it turned out to be cold and wet. The cold rain started just south of Moab and got worse all the way to Blanding. The locals loved it, but I loathed it. I like feeling the heat of the desert and that's what I wanted. In retrospect, I know I was treated to an uncommon experience in this region. Sitting in a hotel room in Torrey, UT right now, I'm thankful. But make no mistake, tomorrow better be damn sunny and hot! I think I'll get my wish as I head toward Vegas.
It wasn't all bad coming across from Blanding. The rain stopped around Jacob's Chair and didn't start again until just before Capital Reef. Between the two, I was able to get some good pics of the Colorado river as it empties into Lake Powell.
I sure didn't like going through Capital Reef in the rain. It just doesn't seem right as the area deserves a nice, slow ride through to enjoy the area. I reached Torrey at 3pm and decided to stop for the day in hopes that tomorrow will be better. Better as in drier and hotter. In the end, I have an excuse to come back again. And I'll use it soon.
More tomorrow.... Burr Trail