“Old Reliable,” the good Kawi was happy to step up to the plate and carry me northward on my annual migration to Logan, UT**. That Kawi, she has as much grit as my beagle, and all she ever asks for is a steady supply of zip ties, WD-40, and packing tape***. After a few gentle reminders she has half the front braking power of the Ducati - aieee! – we were comfortable with each other again.
|Roosevelt Lake, AZ|
June belongs firmly in the Season of Wind. Riding hundreds of miles in a 55mph crosswind? Situation Normal. Three hundred miles of vigorous pounding feels sufficient for the day. Sunset Crater National Monument is a good place to spend the night.
|Jet Boil (new acquisition!) with… Ducati? And Ramen? Do explain!|
Yep, that’s my Ducati in the photo background. You don’t mind if I cheat by writing about both Annual Migration 2013 and 2014 in one post, do you? Yep, that’s Maruchan Ramen in the photo. It’s not my normal fare, as I’m sure you realize, but a hasty test subject for the then newly acquired Jet Boil. They’ve since been replaced by Eating on Two Wheels proprietary instant soup mixes. Just so you know. Why am I not whipping up a crown roast with fingerling potatoes and wild greens over the campfire? Because washing dishes at a campsite downright disgusts me. Just one of those things, I guess. I strive to minimize my clean up duties, but refuse to resort to a depressing handful of GORP for dinner, or something even more awful than campsite dishwashing: an “energy bar.” Ew.
The wind bashes the sides of the tent into me all night, while the Friday the 13th Honey Moon drills a hole through its walls. I’m awake in the wee hours trying to calculate exactly why the sun is rising at 3am.
The rippling sea of grass in Wupatki National Monument is mesmerizing in the morning breezes. I nearly miss a turn watching the invisible hand brush the desert grassland this way and that. Last year, I stopped to visit some of the ruins.
At a gas stop in Marble Canyon, a familiar sound from just across the street makes its way into my helmet, past the music in my headphones, and into my brain. I snap a blurry photo with my phone to send to Pilot Guy.
|I’ve never noticed this airport before! I guess little planes haven’t been on my, uh, radar, until recently.|
Last year, the Ducati and I had time to check out the twists and turns of the Cedar Breaks Scenic Byway, which had eluded me for so long, and Cedar Breaks National Monument. You don’t have to hike far to get a spectacular view.
|Spectra Point, Cedar Breaks National Monument|
After a rough year, several hundred miles on the Ducati were just what she and I needed to rebuild our relationship. We were finally getting places! It was just about the time I was starting to trust her again, of course…
… that I was rescued by my own fearsome Corolla. Pilot Guy and I had arranged to meet that evening just a few miles away, so it was easy for him to skid in for the glamorous rescue. “It’s just the battery,” we told ourselves. All that southern AZ heat is so very hard on batteries, you know. And – Lo! – after a long drink from the Corolla****, she came back to life. But you know what? It’s never just the battery, as far as I can tell.***** And I was right. What we don’t know yet is that the stator had all but melted away.
|Rolling again… for now.|
Whatever the mechanical issue, the next day I was able to limp the Ducati 270 more miles, with the Corolla support vehicle not far behind. We had to stop over and over for long stretches to recharge the battery, we sipping endless cups of lemonade and iced tea, she sipping electrons.
|Traffic stoppage in Salt Lake City. What will come first, a dead again battery or an overheat?|
We made it as far as Adrian’s****** house before nightfall threatened. Adrian just happens to live about 60 miles from my final destination, and has a very well equipped garage. It was an obvious place to throw in the towel.
|The beagle watches while I optimistically install a new voltage regulator. It's not going to do the trick.|
|Sushi consolation dinner upon arrival in Logan via Corolla.|
But that was sooo last year. This year, the easy-natured Kawasaki and I ride along encumbered only by the swan song of my tent stakes*******. After my lengthy and arguably painful absence, I’m falling in love with the Great American West all over again: majestic, brilliantly painted, and just plain big here; gentle, sweet, and abundant there, with everything in between. Utah Route 89 between Panguitch and I-70 has none of the drama of Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Capital Reef, and the areas further south, but it is so very beautiful in a simple gifts sort of way, that it still wrenches my heart on this, my twelfth migration. The glassy blue Sevier Creek, hesitantly twisting its way through the verdant green grass, ever unsure of the proper direction, and later, as the Sevier River, briskly bubbling with intent, northward down the slope, touches me deeply and inexplicably. The dreamy landscape is rhythmically broken by little towns from another era, sporting Lavender Festivals, baskets of flowers, soda fountains, and picturesque temples perched atop hills that call to mind storybook Transylvanian castles. There’s something too special about this place for me to just pull the bike over, snap a casual photo, and be done with it.
I spend my last night out at Freemont Indian State Park, in quiet reflection and gratitude.
My final approach the next day offers little room for detouring, aside from a pass down Utah’s “Fruit Way.” The road is lined with trees visibly bursting with sweet cherries. It’s hard not to stop, but there’s no room on the bike for produce at the moment, and I’ll have a pleasantly difficult time keeping up with northern Utah’s cornucopia as it is.
Home for the summer is around the bend…
|My back yard - the mouth of this canyon.|
… and before I know it, I’ll be packing for my August return migration. Oh wait... ********.
*Turns out one of the new seals was defective. For once, the easier answer prevails.
**Beagle, Toyota, and Ducati have since arrived under separate cover.
****No, I couldn’t simply jump start and go. If only.
*****Recent victory! As it turns out, sometimes it is just the battery!
******You met Adrian in Baja.
*******Quite problematic with the crazy wind, actually.
******** Posting about June at the end of August is also Situation Normal. Have I broken a blog post asterisk record?
Cooking Equipment Review:
The Jet Boil Sol Advanced Cooking System performs exactly as advertised, so I advise you not to turn your back on it for a second. Jet. Boil. Get it? It's fast. Despite the fragile plastic bottom cover (customer service replaced it with a smile,) and ill-fitting plastic lid, this thing has opened up a new camping culinary world for me. I can't believe there was a time I didn't want a camp stove. The Coffee Press accessory is a neat little item, which I even used in the house in Utah, when I didn't have my usual press available to me. I use the fuel modestly, but it's lasted so long that I haven't yet had the opportunity to try the fuel canister Crunch-It recycling tool. You can use the stove to cook with an actual little pot or pan, too, but because of my camping dish washing aversion, I just use the provided cup to boil water. The metal cup gets really hot (duh!), even with its little heat cozy, so take care not to burn your flute playing lips. It's a bit tricky to disengage the cup from the stove itself, especially when it's hot, and I don't trust the cozy handle to keep me from spilling boiling water over myself, but neither of these things keeps me from loving my Jet Boil! Not the cheapest stove in the shed, but worth it, in my opinion, especially since I got it as a birthday gift!