Friday, June 19, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
So I hop on the bike and fire up the GPS, programmed for the final leg of my journey. Arrival time shows 8:43p, although I know that's a generous estimate as that didn't include any stops for gas, food or rest. Today ride would take me through 4 states; Kansas, Illinois, Indiana an Ohio. The weather was starting out cool and cloudy, but fine for riding. Little did I know that just one state behind me they would be expecting severe thunderstorms that even included a tornado in Denver. Other than some cold weather here and there, I've been very fortunate with the riding conditions.
For those who have made the long drive (approx. 9 hrs) across Kansas, the scenery is basically hills, wheat & cows. Perhaps in an odd way this feels very confortable to me as I lived in Wichita from age 3 to 12. I have lots of fond childhood memories from here. Regardless there was no time to stop and remenisce as my mission was to get home as soon as was safely possible.
One treat that I did take time for was to stop at a barbeque place called Bandannas for ribs. With the Kuamoo's Ribfest coming up July 18th (yes this your first notice) I needed to get a tast of midwest barbeque. It was well worth the stop.
The rest of the day was pretty much 'hammer down'. Good weather & good traffic, much better than expected. I only had a few moments of tiredness, but I found that a mouthful of sunflower seeds kept me alert quite nicely. I rolled into the driveway at 10:40p and by that time I was ready for some sleep. It's great to be home!
So let me summarize my trip:
The final tally, as shown below, is 4556 miles. With each rotation of the tires taking me 7 feet, that's 3,436,525 tire rotations. I'll never doubt the significance of a good tire.
So now that my journey has ended, let me share a few things that I have learned:
- I like riding more than I thought I did (I wouldn't hesitate to go on another ride of this distance.
- Plan for all weather conditions (it was much colder than expected)
- Flexibility is good (it's about the journey, not the destination)
- There's a lot of beautiful country out west (lots of it)
- People drive real fast out west (gotta love the 80mph speed limits - you know what that means)
I was able to visit 4 national parks while in Utah. Here's a quick summary of each in order of my preference:
1) Bryce - Awe inspiring sandstone structures. Take one of the hikes to see the scenery from within the canyon. The view changes continuously with the light of day. Perhaps the most picturesque of the parks.
2) Escalante (Lower Calf Creek) - A challenging drive through some very rugged country. The hike itself is a great combination of red cliffs and wildlife, culminating in a view of a very nice falls. This park had it all.
3) Zion (The Narrows) - A challenging hike through the river bed that is carved deeply into the canyon. Impressive surrounding rock structures. Initially a bit crowded, but the further I hiked into the canyon the more the crowd thinned out.
4) Arches (Moab) - Picturesque and ever changing. Certainly a must see as what you see today may not be there tomorrow.
In closing, I'd like to thank the readers of this blog for the many nice comments. I hope you enjoyed reading the blog as much as I enjoyed talking about my trip. Over the upcoming weeks I'll be putting enlargement quality pictures on my website (jkuamoophotography.com), should you like to see more.
For you bikers, if you've been thinking about taking a road trip like this, but aren't sure if you can do it, I think you would find that it's easier and more rewarding than you think. My reason for taking this trip was more of a personal 'bucket list' thing. But I wouldn't hesitate to do it again.
Last but certainly not least, I'd like to thank my wife who put aside her personal fears and anxieties and supported me in my quest even though her mother was constantly trying to convice her to talk me out of it. Thanks goodness Misty shares my belief that if you gotta go, go doing something you love. Misty, I know this was hard for you, even though you didn't show it (much). I'm a very lucky man!
This journey has come to an end but there's plenty more coming this year. Until then, happy trails!
Friday, June 12, 2009
Another beautiful aspect of the park was the wonderful blooming cactus and other flowers. If you stood still long enough you would see the hummingbirds drink nectar from the cactus flowers. It was a really cool site.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
First stop was Park City, playground of the rich and famous (but they even allowed us there). The number one order of business, BEER!!!
We went to our favorite micro-brewery, The Wasatch Brew Pub. Here we sampled a couple of local brews including:
Raspberry Wheat - a nice wheat beer with a very light hint of raspberry.
HB-51 - A copper colored beer that commemerates the passing of the Utah law that allowed home brewing of beer.
Polygamy Porter - A dark beer that looks like a stout, has a smooth creamy texture, but has absolutely zero bite or bitter aftertaste.
While enjoying our beer and nachos, we couldn't help but take a few pictures of our enjoyment and harass some of you back home who couldn't be here to join us. Sorry...
Next pleasure, chocolate covered strawberries at the good ole Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
For those of you who have not been to a RMCF, they have some of the most sinful chocolate covered treats available. We got a couple of strawberries, to go, and started on our hunt for some High West Whiskey.
High West Whiskey was actually a request of one of Misty's work associates, but after some research we find that it gets rave reviews as a Whiskey that is hand made in small batches, right here in Utah. It turned out that their Park City Distillery was still under construction but we were able to find some at a state liquor store, so we picked up a few bottles. Mission accomplished.
The final stop of the day is a must do, any time you are in the Ogden area. It was the Shooting Star Saloon, the oldest bar west of the Mississippi to maintain the same name and home of the 'Shooting Star Burger', arguably the best burger in the world. This massive burger definitely rivals the well known 'Thurman Burger' (for those of you in Columbus). It's nearly a pound of hamburger topped with bratwurst, onion, cheese and of course, that special sauce. Since Misty and I had eaten a few hours prior, we split a small Shooting Star Burger which still satisfied us.
In my last post I had mentioned that inclement weather would prevent me from making the trip to Yellowstone, so as a substitute I bring you some of the wildlife inside The Shooting Star Saloon.
First there was the wild moose. A giant beast that I wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley
Next, it's the 5 point buck. A thing of beauty in the forest.
Then there's the St. Bernard. Legend has it that this is the actual head from the bar owners pet dog after it passed away.
All along the trail you look up, hundreds of feet and you feel as if the spires are alive and looking down on you, watching every move you make.
The trail continues for many miles in many directions until you begin to zig-zag back up out of the canyon. Tunnels, carved through the rock act as doors to the next chamber. The view again changes as you gain altitude.
Finally as we exit the canyon we are blessed with a beautful moonrise over the canyon walls. It's time to just watch and listen to the solitude of the
Oh to be a tree blessed with the duty of standing guard over this hallowed ground. I would love to hear the tale of what this tree has seen.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Headed into 'The Narrows' prepare to get wet as at least 70% of the trail is in the river. Typically river depths will range from ankle high to chest deep. Today the water temperature was 62 degrees, so after the initial shock of hitting waste deep water, we had no problem adjusting to the temp. We were fortunate to be able to take this hike as the weather this week as included intermittent rain. Threat of rain in this area would make the hike a no-go, due to the high risk of flash floods. Flash floods are a big threat when hiking a slot canyon as any rain water coming from up stream will quickly pick up depth and speed bringing with it literally tons of debris. So if you are stuck in the canyon and a flash flood is coming, hopefully you can hit higher ground since outrunning it is impossible.
Monday, June 8, 2009
While in Southern Utah I visited Arches, Zion and Bryce. With over 1200 shots from the three parks, there’s no easy way to share them all with you. Therefore I’ll just pick a few shots from each park, trying to pick ones that best represent the characteristics of each.
Since I will now spend a few days getting some R&R with the family in Northern Utah, I’ll introduce each park on separate posts so that I don’t flood you with “TMI” all at once. That being said let me start with Arches National Park in Moab, UT.
Many other arches also exist in the park, each of different size and configuration. As the arches age and erosion continues to take its toll, the park is continually changing as older arches collapse and new arches are formed. It's an amazing evolution that in its own way reflects the frailty of our own existence.
One other interesting aspect of the park is its red rock structures, again formed out of a mixture of clay and sandstone. These shapes can vary from complex conical shapes to huge mountains of red rock, each of which are impressive in their own way.
A final aspect of any Utah park is it's wildlife. Most prevalent are the Yak (according to me) but really an antelope (according to my wife), deer, squirrels and of course, lizards.