25 July, 2012

Day 20, 634km: Canyons begin

For once, I will start today's update at the day before, day 19's night. I was expecting Carmen and Michael from klapperscheese-reloaded.de at the campsite but didn't see them, I guess they changed their plans? I was pretty tired anyway and went to bed around 9pm, with a pretty cool view.

Sunset in Moab
Fell asleep rapidly, soon to be woken up by the sound of a storm. Rain and strong winds. This was the first time camping in strong winds (like strong enough to slap me with the sides of the tent) and I was worried the tent pegs wouldn't hold since the campground was sand. So that wasn't a very relaxing night! But the pegs held and all was good.

So I said goodbye to Jacob and Kathryn and went north towards Canyonlands National Park. I would then come back to Moab and drive south to ... more canyons!

My first stop was for WiFi and breakfast at Mc Donalds. Say what you want about the food, $5 for a breakfast and coffee plus fast internet is a good deal. Oh and the price includes taxes. Here ALL prices displayed exclude taxes which is really annoying. I don't get it at all, and never know exactly how much I'm going to pay as taxes are different between states. What is the point of displaying prices excluding taxes? A passive aggressive way to complain about government taxes?
Mc Donalds got it right, the prices displayed are for example $4.32 but if you include taxes it comes to a perfect $5. Which is fast for the cashier, easy for the customer and better for the shop since we can assume they round up. Compare that to paying $4.99 excluding taxes which comes to a stupid $5.78 after taxes. 
Sorry that is a long rant but I have difficulties understanding the benefit of this habit people have here.

The view from Canyonlands Grand Viewpoint
Canyonlands was absolutely stunning. I had one of these "holy shit" moments where you just look around you in complete amazement. The landscape extended for 50km (the mountains you can see in the distance, center of the pic). A natural park ranger was up there at the viewpoint and gave a nice, long talk about the formation of this amazing place (link for the curious) this was very interesting and punctuated with music that she found illustrated the different stages of the canyons formation. Cool and entertaining. The ranger, Kathryn obviously loved her job and that was nice to feel! She also told me that in the 1940s the area was searched for uranium. I made the link with the Manhattan project, turned out she didn't realize it and I was happy to add my little contribution to her presentation. (In the end the uranium for the Manhattan project came from Congo and Colorado but that's not the point)

Cool landscape south of Moab
After that I came back to Moab and fueled up before continuing on my way south. I couldn't fill my spare gas tank as I lost its cap, probably last time I refueled. At that point I didn't know that was a big mistake!

Then I saw this
And I had to go this way, no way around the shower. So I put on my rain gear ("PNC aux portes. Armement des tobogans. Fermeture de la porte opposee."). I'm still using the same bags for my boots!) and went ahead. It got really windy, dark and cold (from 35 deg C to 25 deg C). Felt like going into a rollercoaster. You know you're going to be fine, but your guts don't.

The rain and wind were intense, sometimes so much that I put on my warning lights and drove slowly on the side of the road. That went on for 60km. Now I have to thank Klim, the makers of my jacket and pants. I stayed dry. My "canoe bag" however had (just a little) rain come in!

The sky finally opened up on my way south
So on my way south I arrived the junction where I would turn west on the highway 95 towards Brice Canyon, recommended by Willie (thanks!). I saw a sign for "National Monument" in another direction and thought it reminded me something so I would make a small (120km) detour. After 30km I realized that the place I had in mind was "Monument Valley" and not "National Monument" so I made a u-turn and came back on the initial plan towards HW95.
Now that I have internet though, I see that it actually was very near the place I was. Well. Next time!

So I took off the highway 191 onto the highway 95. I passed a gas station but was daydreaming and didn't stop for gas (second mistake).

Natural Bridges Park
Stopped on my way at Natural Bridges Park and talked with the rangers there to ask about directions for Bryce Canyon. I was planning to take the ferry across a nearby lake (Lake Powell) but learned it was too late for it, although there was another route. The thing is that arriving at the park I realized I was low on gas. I had between 3 and 4L left (the gauge isn't more accurate). The nearest gas pump towards my destination was 86km. The nearest if I went back from where I came was 50km.

Now with the reserve I know I can drive 50km, so going back where I came was the easy, safe way. Continuing towards Bryce Canyon could be dangerous, worst case (if I had 3L in the tank) I would have to average 3.5L/100km on the way, which is possible but one has to be careful. Best case (if I had 4L in the tank) I could do a comfortable 4.6L/100km. 

I decided to take the chance and go very slowly towards Bryce Canyon. I hit the reserve 42km before the next gas pump. So all in all I made it with 8km to spare. Tomorrow I'm getting a new spare gas tank again for sure.

Utah HW95, amazing landscape
It could be a national park!
Empty and majestic, better than national parks actually...
So it was a relief making it to the gas pump. Fueled up a bit, talked with some people there who were spending the weekend on a boat in Lake Powell and another German couple (this time on 4 wheels, Mustang!) who where happy to see a BMW.

How cool is that?
The road was spectacular. It reminded me of the day in Arches national park, only better. Less people, less cars (actually not many, maybe one every 2 minutes) and bigger!

Crossing the Colorado river
The road was so great that I had to take a video, here it is below. Lower your sound volume as it's just wind that was recorded.

Did you ever wonder how an ant feels, walking on your kitchen's floor looking for sugar? Well it probably feels like one feels when on that road. Amazed by the majesty and scale of what's near. Not completely sure to understand how things got here or why they look this way. Driving along these multi-hundred million years old colossus (colossi?) you really think that if this is possible, anything is possible.

So yeah, Utah State Route 95 definitely goes in my top roads.
Eventually reached Hanksville, with this cool little gas station set inside a mountain.

The cashier was surprisingly depressed for a cave woman
There I met Stirling, great guy travelling with his family in the region, which he knows very well since he drives movies crews in here for a leaving. He recommended to continue on the highway 24 across Capitol Reef and stay overnight in Torrey. Both great tips as well shall see, thanks Stirling! Told me they shot "John Carter of Mars" in this very region, has anyone seen it?

Capitol Reef entrance
It was 8pm at this point and that would be an hour to reach Torrey. The sunset light gave a really cool atmosphere.

There are actually 2 rainbows in here
Having spent the day in amazing landscapes, seeing this last stretch of road in an amazing light, and finally greeted by double rainbows, I think I had an epiphany!

And there it is, 10 000km on Day 20
2 more to go
The view was pretty nice for the 10 000th KM :-)
So 30km after that I finally made it to Torrey and treated myself to a hotel to celebrate this milestone (also because my back hurt a lot after 3 camping nights!).

Majestic view outside Capitol Reef at sunset
I even got a discounted rate from the nice lady at Chuck's Wagon Lodge since I checked in after 9pm. Isn't that a good day? (Sorry anonymous!)

Hope all is fine with you guys.
And don't hesitate to leave a comment, it always feels nice to have a word from you!


PS : I have found Walter White's meth lab, it is parked along the highway 95, just before Hanksville in Utah.

Yo M. White, we cook or what bitch?


  1. Belles photos mon Guigui! Un vrai routard. Qd vas tu troquer ta BMW pr la Harley et le leather Jacket de tes camarades de la semaine passee? Enjoyyyyyy

  2. Yeaaaah ! Like a boss !!! Top la video. Mais y'a une video que j'aimerais bien voir, c'est celle de Guigui qui monte une tente... alleeeeer, s'il te plaiiiit. Continue de nous faire rever. Le poutou !

  3. Si t'arrives a garder le rythme tout le long chapeau !
    Je suis impressioné par le nombre de nuits que tu as deja passé dans ta tente, et comme nenene je veux voir la video !

    La bise du Niger!
    Enjoy bitch !

  4. Genre y'a pas de station essence a Pattaya...

  5. Guigui, quand est ce que t investis dans une GoPRo pour une montage en fin de trip?

  6. Promis vous mets une video de la tente au prochain camping ;)
    Peut-etre a la GoPro si je me decide a lacher les dollars ici a Las Vegas!

    La bise a tous! (Meme toi Amel G)

  7. Just reading through your blog after coming across it while reading of Radioman's travels. Southern Utah is on my to-ride list for sure. Love the Breaking Bad reference. You do a good Jesse Pinkman imitation