Oh right, I’d just pulled into Farmington after my long day. Despite its name, Farmington is an oil town. Haliburton has an enormous facility there and there all sorts of companies dealing with pipes, valves, compressors, and the like. Not what you’d expect but the oil wells keep producing and the natural gas reserves are thought to be the largest in the lower 48.
I had an excellent steak dinner at the 3 Rivers Brewery and talked to the owner for a little (a motorcycle helmet is a great conversation starter!) It’s a very redneck town and he wasn’t quite sure what he was doing there but the business is doing well so he’s sticking it out. I asked about a good place for breakfast and he suggested Durango, CO, about an hour up the road. Everything in town and in nearby Aztec are greasy spoon joints that serve the oil workers and aren’t worth eating at was his opinion. I decided I’d just drive out of town in the morning and look for something.
The next morning I did just that and about a half hour later I was looking for anything I was so hungry. I found a local place full of old people and the food was about as bland as could be. It filled the whole is all I can say. I was already looking forward to lunch.
Starting this day, my trip changed in tenor. I had to be in Salt Lake the next evening, at the race track the following morning, and after the races I have only a few days to get back to Bellingham in time to return to work. The sight-seeing and meandering roads were off the agenda and making good time has become the priority. I have to admit that after 2 weeks on the road I’m getting antsy about getting home and staying in one place for a while. However, the road beckons and I must obey.
A few miles after eating I was in Colorado so I stopped for gas and a map of the state and Utah, too. I was only in CO for about 45 miles so that was an unnecessary purchase.
The ride into Durango was beautiful, mountains now, with a nice smooth road and a honking great tail wind. It’s broken record time but the winds came up again, the weather service said 20-30 winds with gusts to 50, and they weren’t kidding. As long as it was behind me all was good but the mountains caused gusts in all directions and it was a challenge.
I’d hoped to spend some time in Durango because I’d been told it’s a nice little town but the wind was telling me to move on before it got worse. The road drops steeply into the town then follows the Animas River valley out. At this point I headed west which put the wind directly on my left and I spent the next couple of hours leaning just to stay upright and hanging on for dear life.
Since I was going past Mesa Verda National Park I thought I’d take a look, which turned out to be the wrong decision. The road to the ruins is 23 miles long and was in the process of being rebuilt. They had recently ground the asphalt down, leaving deep grooves in the direction of travel. Motorcycles don’t like grooves and my bike was wandering all over, as was the road and the motorhomes clogging it. After 10 miles the grooves stopped but they had chip sealed the road that morning so now I was on thick gravel. After some quick math I realized this was a 2 hour trip at the minimum and I didn’t want to use up that much time, so I turned around and headed back to the highway.
The view north from part way up the road to Mesa Verde
A canyon to the south
[Another hour of strong winds goes here]
I finally made it to Monticello, Utah, where I found the Peace Cafe. It’s a cool hippie kinda place in the middle of Mormon country, rather unexpected. However, they make a killer club wrap and blueberry milkshake, so I was happy as a clam. They only had one table so I joined a local who chewed my ear off about the local powers in town and how they were doing everything in their power to stop him from building a big garage. People are the same everywhere!
The best news about Monticello is that I turned north on Hwy 191 and had that d**n wind at my back almost the whole way into Moab. I made some great time, cruising easily at 70 most of the way.
In Utah the landscape changed again, this time to well worn red sandstone.
I passed both Arches and Canyonland National Parks on this road, I suppose I’ll have to add these to the list of places to visit next time I’m in the area. As it was Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, the roads were crowded with campers and motor homes, and the roads into these parks were crowded, so it’s probably a good thing I bypassed them.
I had tried to get motel reservations in Moab but everything in my price range was booked, so I figured I’d cruise the town and see what popped up. Finding a motel here is like looking a grain of sand on a beach – they are everywhere! As are restaurants and outfitters. If you took those three businesses away you’d be left with a few houses and gas stations. Eventually I chose The Virginian because it looked nice and had free wi-fi. The Apache Motel (“stay where John Wayne stayed”) was tempting but a quick glance told me to move on. I ended up getting a newly remodeled handicap room with a huge shower, so I scored. I noticed the Harley riders all got rooms out front while I was all the way in the back. Maybe I should have cleaned the bugs off the bike. Oh well, I like the patina.
As you might have surmised, Moab is a major recreation destination, from mountain biking to ballooning and everything in between. It turns out that this Memorial Day weekend there was a national Unimog happening, so the town was filling up with them. What a truly weird sight.
The weather in Moab was unnerving, it was blowing like mad, over 90 degrees, and had a feeling like a storm was blowing in, but the skies were clear with nothing on the horizon. There was a sort of energy about the wind that gave me an odd feeling, the willies perhaps. Certainly not the heebie-jeebies, though, please don’t that impression.
The end of another day, with yet another one coming right up.