Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Crazy-ass Road Trip '08: Part Two

That didn't turn out so bad, turns out the problem was with one of my email accounts refusing to send. I'll try to bring things up to date now.

Sunday morning my feet were still rather sore from the hiking, and I still had big blisters near my big toes, the left one being worse. I headed back up the interstate, stopped for a McGriddle since I didn't want to pay Holiday Inn any more, and went through Walsenburg again. I went on to Great Sand Dunes NP, where I waded across the shallow river and climbed up the dune a little bit. A combination of sore feet and wanting to get to Durango kept me from climbing up to the top. When I went through Alamosa I really wished I had stayed there instead, it had way more going on than Walsenburg and would have given me more time in the park. I got to Durango HD about 2 hoping to get an oil change I was slightly overdue for after the rebuild only to find that their service department is closed on Sundays. I was kind of secretly hoping that would be the case so I'd be forced to spend the night in Durango. I started something of a random search for a place to stay when I saw an information place. The woman there gave me some info and suggestions, I checked with a place that was reasonably priced, and booked a room. I had planned to drop my stuff and visit Mesa Verde NP but the information woman suggested morning would be a better time, so I decided I would spend the afternoon drinking beer by the pool instead. I checked into the motel which was older and not anything great, but it was comfortable and clean. It was a really beautiful 80-something degree day and I enjoyed spending some time by the pool. I changed and walked downtown to a brewpub for dinner. I drank a beer made with habaneros, which was quite spicy, and ate a tasty calzone. I went to another brewpub nearby which was almost empty but I actually enjoyed myself chatting with some locals while watching the Olympics.
Monday morning I left the motel at 6:45, before the office was even open and had breakfast at Denny's since the Harley shop didn't open until 8. After they checked me in, right at 8, I started writing but didn't get very far (what with the tiny keyboard and all) before they had it ready at 8:30. I rode to Mesa Verde and found a pretty good line of people waiting to buy tour tickets. Since all the tours before noon were sold out already, I just decided to do the self-guided sites. I checked out about as much as I could, taking a bunch of pictures, and I did climb inside the demonstration kiva at one site. I headed on a bit past noon and got to Moab at 4. When I got to the entrance to Arches, the woman told me the campground filled at 9 am and to get info on other sites in the visitors center. I got the info and checked and a place nearby with a pool had tent sites available. It was 99 degrees at that point so I opted for the private campground over the National Forest sites. I picked a shady spot with a leanto, set up my tent and changed into my bathing suit, and went back to the front to pay for my stay and get some beer to drink by the pool. The pool felt so excellent and I hung out there for a while, alternating between the pool and the hot tub. I had a freeze-dried dinner at camp and then went back to the hot tub until after dark.
Tuesday morning I went back into the park with my backpack full of water and headed straight for Delicate Arch, the most famous in the park. It turned out to be a good time to get there because other than a tour bus there weren't many cars. I did pass the tour group heading back when I was almost to the arch. The arch is pretty spectacular and probably moreso in dramatic light. There is kind of a bowl-shaped area around it that was kind of hard to sit on. I very nearly lost my sunglasses. I took a bunch of pictures and headed back. Again the timing seemed good as a steady stream of people were headed the other direction. From there I went to Landscape Arch, which is pretty amazing at 300+ feet long, however it looks quite fragile, especially considering the nearby Wall Arch just collapsed and the main path to Double O Arch was closed. I would have liked to see the other arches in that area but the extra 3 miles was less than appealing at that point. I stopped along the path back to the parking lot and ate a PBJ in the shade. I then went to the Windows area, where they have the unusual Turret Arch, of course North and South Window, and on the other side of the parking lot was probably my favorite, Double Arch. I sat in its shadow for a while, but that was also because it was getting hot at that point. I headed out of the park from there, stopping for a quick picture at Balanced Rock. I got gas before going into Canyonlands NP's 'Island in the Sky' unit, basically a large mesa connected to the rest of the area by a narrow 'neck.' I rode through there, stopping to take some pictures, but it was real hot and my feet were bothering me enough I was limping a little. I went back to camp, showered, jumped in the pool and had dinner before doing a bunch of repacking.
I packed the rest of my gear this morning after waking up at 4:30 and not being able to get back to sleep. I only had a granola bar for breakfast since I had packed my stuff to make my usual oatmeal. I was off at sunrise, 6:30. I had more of a real breakfast at my first stop. I was chilled early on and almost put on my jacket, but figured it would warm up soon enough. And boy did it. I first felt like it was going to be a scorcher about 11, and it did not disappoint. I was hot and tired and decided to stop for a little while in Boise. I took a picture at the capitol and stopped into the tiny t-shirt store of the local Harley shop on my way to a brewpub for some dinner. The food and the beer were pretty good. I headed out of town at 6 headed right into the late afternoon sun and ran into construction. It wasn't pleasant, but it could have been worse. I continued on to Baker City, Oregon and got here about 7 Pacific time, and this is what I've been doing since.

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