Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Moab Area - Day #3

This would be our last day of riding these scenic roads and national parks in the Moab area. Last night, after a good dinner, I went back to my room to catch the last episode of The Biggest Loser. I had already decided that, rather than ride the route down to Natural Bridges, I would finish up the two parks I missed yesterday: Deadhorse Point State Park and Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky area.

As I walked out to my bike this morning to prepare for the day's ride, a small group of off-road riders were getting ready to depart. They were going to go play in the mud and snow on top of the La Sal Mountains.

Mike and John pulled into the parking lot, no doubt looking to see what other folks had planned for the day. Their plans were exactly the same as mine, so we agreed to ride together. Claye was trying to decide whether to join the off-road riders today and in the end decided to go with us to Canyonlands and Deadhorse Point.

It wouldn't be as hot today as it had been the last two days, and this was a blessing. Shade is a rare commodity in these parks and the sun is strong at these high altitudes. We headed north to UT-313 and somehow I found myself in the lead. Some nice switchbacks quickly gained 1,000 feet of elevation and there were some nice views off to the right of some (surprise!) red rock cliffs. Looking in my rearview mirror, I saw that I'd lost the group, and thought maybe they'd pulled into the overlook.

I decided to continue to the Deadhorse Point turnoff and wait for them, since I was beginning to get my fill of red rocks at this point. But soon I saw Claye gaining on me rapidly and I let her pass me, knowing that she wanted to get ahead of us for some photo ops. Sure enough, she was parked at the turn for Deadhorse Point and got some photos of us as we each made the turn.

At the visitor center, we spent a lot of time looking at the spectacular views down into the Colorado River valley below and taking photographs of the view, the flora, of each other. Claye handed her camera to a young man who looked like he knew something about photography, and he got this really great shot:

Then it was on to the Deadhorse point overlook about a mile and a half further on. Here we could see the spot where they filmed the final scene for the movie, Thelma and Louise. The park ranger pointed out the exact spot for us.

90 degrees around the bend to the right is a spire-like pinnacle where a scene from Mission Impossible II was filmed. We could see White Rim trail easily from here. The rough-road riders in our group rode on this trail the previous day.

The views from this point seem to go on forever, looking south across huge expanses of rough and desolate canyonlands. Again the feelings of vague and indescribable oppressiveness began to overwhelm me, much as they did yesterday when I was at Arches National Park. The vastness....the desolation....the lack of any vegetation....the lack of shade I found to be almost frightening.

Now we backtracked out of the park and continued west to the entrance to Canyonlands National Park. This is the Island in the Sky unit of this park, on the north end. We stopped and Claye took a great group photo of us in front of the park sign, and then we proceeded to the visitor center for the national park stamp. We would go to the Green River overlook then on down to the Grand Viewpoint Overlook.

At Green River overlook we had an excellent view of the Colorado River where it has created an unusual canyon in the valley floor below. The heights were dizzying, with views around three sides of this overlook and we got some great photos of each other as we played around on the rocks, getting as close to the edge as each of us dared (some closer than others). Claye took this of me, this is as close as I could bring myself. Ugh!!

By this point I was starting to get very hungry. It was about 1:00 PM and I had eaten only a light breakfast at 6:00 AM. The Cliff's bar I had in my purse put only a small dent in my hunger, so I was ready to head back to town and look for food. Even the enormous stash of food that Claye had in her topcase didn't tempt me as much as a juicy burger! LOL! But now I know who to go to if I ever get hungry on the road with her!

I rode back to Moab and the motel where I found Greg sitting in the shade with his laptop. I changed into shorts and sandals and joined him, unloading photos from my camera and onto my computer while I waited for the rest of the group to return for lunch. I was charged with the task of finding a good place to eat, and got a good recommendation from Greg, who'd walked into town earlier that day.

When the rest of the group arrived, I gave them the lunch info. They rode on into town and I walked, catching up with them soon enough. It was a cute place called Red Rock cafe, and we chowed down on good sandwiches and showed each other our photos of the day. It was a late lunch, so I wasn't hungry for supper when the others began to make their plans. Besides, it was just so nice to sit in that shady little park in front of the motel!!

Tomorrow: beginning the journey back home, with a couple of national parks along the way. Tucumcari will be the stopping point for the night.

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