23 July, 2012

Day 18, 811km: What do we do on Sunday in Salt Lake City?

So my plan of buying the few things I needed was heavily perturbed by the fact that it was Sunday. I came with an emergency plan B. Leave the city!

Oh and the website of the two Germans Carmen and Mickael is http://www.klapperscheese-reloaded.de/ (they have an English version too!).

I was going south-east into the "parks" area of Utah. Although before heading down there I wanted to check-out the Bonneville speedway. Just a little 370km detour (round-trip). So it was like being in Toulouse and thinking "Oh let me check-out Perpignan before I head to Bordeaux".

The highway borders the lake and the salt late later on. In the middle, that kind of  bittern water
Now I realized while on the way that driving 185km just to see on thing is long/ridiculous. But whatever, I'm on vacation and not really running late on my (lack of) schedule so I guess I can!

So there was ... not much there!
There was mostly nothing on the salt flats itself, apparently the "season" is at the end of August where speed contests are organized. I was hoping to see classic cars and all, I'm not really sure why.
Anyway there were some nice people to talk to, a couple from British Columbia who took the above picture. Due to my license plate everyone thinks I'm Canadian. And with my accent they think I am a "French Canadian". What is that? Quebecois? They're not French! But whatever, I'll do my stickers next time I'm in a big city.

Just drove a few hundred meters on it, salt gets everywhere - still, cool shot :)
Also met a young couple travelling in a heavily kitted VW Golf (the 80's model). Engine had been replaced and all. The guy told me he took it to 160 on the sand flats.
It's only an hour later that I realized he being American probably meant 160mph, 240kmph...!

Stopped for lunch here, the closest (and only) restaurant in the area, full of souvenir pictures, and bank notes! There were a couple 100THB notes!
So I was back on my way to Salt Lake City, through the exact same road. Maybe it was the (heavy, but cheap, spicy - I start missing Thai food - and delicious) lunch I had, I was feeling sleepy on that road. They actually have signs saying "Sleepy, pullover". But strangely, no break/rest area.

Broke the "longest straight line" record there, 57 kilometers - no hills, no rest area. That sucked!
I hope I won't break the longest straight line record again soon. 30 minutes of absolute boredom. Plus it was 35 degrees! Luckily while in Bonneville I was recommended to go on the highway 190, crossing some mountains south of Salt Lake City. I'm not sure whether that was really lucky or not as we shall see later.

All started well, nice scenery and road!
It was also a bit cooler up there, which was much appreciated. Also I can't say enough good about having a camelpack/back (don't remember how it's called) while driving. In Thailand we used to stop every 30 minutes or so to hydrate a bit, having water on your back is a real comfort!

You noticed that there is a nice barrier here
Still I made frequent stops, to enjoy the view and try to take some nice pictures for you all. A few kilometers after the picture above, I parked once more, although there was no side area. The road was going literally into the forest, it felt like a tree tunnel. I parked on the side to take a photo. But it seemed that my bike wanted to keep on driving and the front wheel went downhill, soon followed by the rest of the bike. I had enough time to see it slide down the hill and tried catching it but there was no chance I would win the fight versus a 250kg bike going downhill.

Luckily (!) there were some trees down there so the bike didn't go too far. I took of the luggage and stopped cars so that someone would help me pull it back. That wasn't going to happen, too heavy. After a while, my savior showed up in his pickup truck, with a tow rope. So we towed the bike back onto the road. I was exhausted by that point with all the pushing and pulling so I didn't take any picture but it was kind of fun, a crowd had amassed (since we blocked the road towing the bike ...!) and people were clapping when the bike was back on the road.
No damage to it, just a few scratches. The headlight guard, handlebar guards and panniers did their job very well to protect the bike.

Nice roads again going south from Salt Lake City
So I was eventually back on my way to Moab (a city that's close to two famous parks in Utah). At that point it was 4pm and I still had 400km to go, that was going to be a long day.

I had to take one of these shots ...
The last 280km were actually really hard. I already did 700km the day before and my back started to remind me he's not used to this kind of treatment. So I decided I would stop after reaching midway. Luckily I had the presence of mind to call the campground I was going too while stopped. They were closing precisely at the time I would arrive. So we made the booking via phone and I was good to go ...

Arriving in the canyons at night was actually pretty cool
The sunset was at 8.50pm and I arrived around 9pm, so I had the opportunity(!) to setup camp in the dark. Luckily I still had that headlight Thomas, Maxime and I bought when we went to Ladakh (India). It saved my day.
But still two things went wrong.

The first is that once all set in my tent, I wanted to copy the photos over from my camera and ... no more camera. I looked into every single bag, pouch, box, pannier I had, couldn't find my camera. Looked in every piece of clothing, in the tent, under the tent, no camera. Then looked around the tent all over my campground, no camera.

Obviously you know this story will end well since you've seen the pictures above. But I was very pissed at that point. I thought it might have fallen between the campground entrance and my campsite since the road was all gravel. So I walked all the way back, using my headlight to search the ground (it was midnight by that point). No camera.

So I just went to bed thinking that was a really shitty day, dropping the bike down a hill and loosing my camera. I planned on going back to the last spot where I took a photo (the one above), assuming that I had dropped it there, and hopping it would still be there.

The next morning I would realize that another thing went wrong too.

See you at the next episode,

1 comment:

  1. Nice pics and did you try to go fast on the bonneville to see if the GS has some guts?
    Regarding your camera let's hear the comments about your 9 phones lost in 1 year :-)
    Cheers and keep posting you make our morning coffee much better while sitting in the office...