Sunday, June 11, 2017

Big Bend & The Land of Enchantment - 2

The next morning we arose bright and early to find ice on our saddles. I had purchased a new Hot Wired electric jacket liner for this trip and now was the time to initiate it. It was 33’ when we left. The liner was great and along with my heated motorcycle grips kept me warm. Of course, it warmed up fairly quickly but not so much that I didn’t keep the liner.

We stopped for a cache or two before turning east at Wells, NV, and proceeded to Wendover. Interstate 80 takes you along the Bonneville Salt Flats – really desolate country. Sam has a 6.5 gallon fuel tank and mine holds only 5 gallons. I believe I had a little less than half a tank when we passed through Wendover but I didn’t realize there was no gas for many miles. Each little town we passed would say “No Services”. We had a terrific quartering head wind to make matters worse. As the “miles to empty” indicator on my motorcycle computer crept lower and lower I knew I had to do something a bit drastic if I was going to make it to a gas station. As there are many semis on the Interstate I pulled up close behind one to draft which uped my miles per gallon from about 40 to close to 60 mpg. However, if you’ve ever ridden behind a semi on a motorcycle you know it’s like being slapped back and forth by a big invisible hand. Nevertheless this saved my bacon. When I finally pulled off the Interstate where I could fuel up the “miles to empty” indicator read 6.

"Shaft Who" cache
One interesting cache we found after turning south off the Interstate was called “Shaft Who?”. It was a long rod or shaft concealed in a fence post a couple hundred yards out in the desert.

We continued south before turning east on Highway 24 toward Bicknell, UT. All the time we had been narrowly dodging rain storms. Soon we entered the Capitol Reef area which I think is one of the most scenic rides imaginable. A rain storm had just preceded us as the road was still wet but it was still a beautiful ride on a twisty road amongst sheer cliffs and fantastic rock formations. I had several caches lined up but it was getting so late we didn’t stop.

Hog Spring Picnic Area
We made it to the Whispering Sands Motel in Hanksville after 7:00 pm having traveled 502 miles (our longest day) and logging 9 geocaches with 2 DNF’s. This is the same place where Yancey and I stayed on our Utah trip in 2013.

The next morning dawned clear and cool and we headed south on Highway 95, the same route Yancey and I traveled in 2013. It was another beautiful ride and I’m sure I overuse the term when it comes to the southeast Utah area. We stopped for a geocache and break near the bottom of the descent at the Hog Spring Picnic Area. I

Cafe Display at Bluff

Mogi Dugway View
t had rained recently and the stream beds which are dry most of the time had a little water flowing in them.

We continued this route until we came to the intersection of State Route 261 known as the Mogi Dugway. This 34 mile road was built by Texas Zinc in 1958. It is a steep narrow gravel road with sharp turns and no guard rails. We stopped for 2 geocaches on the way down. It was really not that frightening just slow going. As I recall many of the turns were posted 10 mph.

After traversing the Mogi Dugway we turned east on Highway 163 and stopped for another cache before stopping at a cafe in Bluff, UT, for a break. They had an interesting art display out front consisting of old wheels and various mechanical pieces.

Lunch Site
From Bluff we backtracked a few miles to the Mogi Dugway intersection and turned south toward Mexican Hat, UT. It was getting past midday and we were desperately searching for a piece of shade to eat our lunch. This is very barren and poverty stricken country. We finally found a little shade along side a fence by a graffiti painted water tank with a working windmill. Sam’s usual road fare was a can of tuna mixed with a can of beans and mine was sardines and Wheat Thins washed down with a flavored tea mix.

Spider Rock
As we traveled south into Arizona Sam suggested that we make a detour to Canyon de Chelly National Monument which he had visited before. It was well worth the extra time we took. It had been home to ancient Pueblo Navajos also called Anasazi. The most outstanding feature was Spider Rock towering 750’ out of the canyon.
Canyon de Chelle

After visiting the Canyon de Chelly we turned east to Gallup, NM. As I told Sam, “Now the business begins”. Up until now the geocaches had just been for breaks and occasional ones that looked particularly interesting. Now, for New Mexico and west Texas, I had to log at least one find in each county of our journey to fulfill my mission.

McKinley Court House
We checked into the motel in Gallup and after unloading the bikes I left Sam there and set out to find caches for McKinley County. The first one was at the Historic McKinley County Court House. It had been a WPA project build in 1938. It had obviously been well kept as it was a beautiful building. I found one more cache at a mining cart exhibit. After narrowly missing getting run over after pulling out in front of a car I didn’t see, I stopped for gas and then returned to the motel. This had been one of shorter days traveling 378 miles and scoring 8 geocache finds with 1 DNF.
To be continued.


Yancey Warnock said...

I am jealous! Wish I could have been with you on this adventure!

Hallie said...

Good photos!