9 August – Day 18
Vernal, Utah to Moab, Utah
There was nothing to see in Vernal – so we were out on the road by 8.30am. Good to see that we’re reclaiming the morning! Adrian did his research in terms of the best biking road into Moab and it paid off big time… we had an absolutely spectacular ride through the desert. The stark, barren landscape, the red soil and yellow desert sand, the clumps of green – it was just so raw in its beauty, it was breathtaking. For me, the mountains of the trip so far have nothing on the awesome, vast power of the desert. Dead straight roads gave way to tight corners and windy climbs up and over desert mountains, where chipmunks risked death by darting across the road in front of the bike and eagles soared high overhead. Moab. Wow. The town itself isn’t up there with my favourites – but the desert gets under your skin and just draws you in.
The early start meant we arrived in Moab by lunchtime, which was good given how hot it was. For the first time this trip, I had to take all liners out of my jacket and open all vents… and I was still hot. I’m thinking I’ll need (read: wish for) vented shoes/motorbike jeans as we continue further south!!
We walked the main street and tried to find a mountain bike hire place with XXL bikes available for Adrian to hire… preferably also with size 48 clip in bike shoes. Yeah – no. Nowhere had bikes or shoes in that size, and a guy at one place actually said to Adrian ‘we don’t hire bikes to guys your size. You’re a bike killer’… which Adrian had to concede… Apparently, because the available bikes aren’t big enough, he’s got to put the seat up as high as it can go, which places significant extra strain on the seat post and bike frame which is weaker at maximum extension. Anyway, we eventually found a bike that was only a bit too small, so that’s what Adrian’s got to ride ‘Slick rock trail’ tomorrow.
We then headed out into Arches National Park to watch the sun set over the desert. The rock formations, the arches, the red and yellow desert soil – it truly is a special place. At one point, I just picked up some of the rich, ochre red sand and let it run through my fingers, hand under hand, watching as it danced in the wind back to the earth, settling with the millions of other grains of sand, millions of years old.
We climbed up to the hollows of one of the arches and sat 15m above the desert, encircled by rock as if we were sitting inside a giant, ancient hula hoop. In front of us, the sun was setting – with the landscape seeming to change colour, shape and texture with each change in the light. The rocks got darker, a rich earthy red as the sun disappeared behind one of the few, scattered clouds on the horizon. Then the sun reappeared to illuminate the rocks, glowing a bright ruby red. And as the clouds started to gather around us, the rocks changed again. And again. And again. A spectacular light show; nature at her finest.
The day was topped off with dinner at a local restaurant with live music – a guitar and cello. It was excellent! A Texan musican, Amanda Mora. Check her out: http://www.amandamora.com.
Oh and the muffin flavoured muffin? That was in the town of Rangely, Colarado, where we stopped for a break on the way to Moab. We got (very average – no surprises there) coffees and a muffin. Through the gladwrap, it looked like it might have been an apple muffin. Post-purchase, and on closer inspection, the ‘apple’ looked more like melted chocolate. And on tasting… it was impossible to tell what sort of muffin we were eating. It had no discernible flavour, leading Adrian to declare that it was a ‘muffin-flavoured muffin.’