Posted: Mon, 25 June 2012
DAY 6 BOULDER TO CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK
OUR FINAL DAY OF THE WHITEROCK CANYONS RIDE
This is it...the final day of our tour in Utah. It proved to be a memorable day in many respects---a day we will all remember fondly for years to come.
The 50 mile ride from Boulder to Capitol Reef National Park offered a staggering array of contrasts.
It was cold at 6:30 am as Joyce and I rolled out onto Highway 12 and began a long, arduous 15 mile climb up Boulder Mountain. We would ascend 3000 feet to the 9600 foot summit. We slowly climbed through the pine forest, and the aspens whispering in the cool morning breeze. Black Angus cattle grazed roadside and some stood on the road glaring at us. They were restricted only by the cattle guards in the road. We were focused on the climb, psyched to “Just do it”, so we were confident in reaching the top.
The morning breeze had become a howling, pushing wind in the long, beautiful descent into the Capitol Reef National Park. With the rock formations of the Waterpocket Fold in view ahead, we sped downhill for miles. The fast descent brought us back to the desert and its magnificent canyonlands.
A picnic lunch at the van, surrounded by the redrock cliffs of Capitol Reef National Park, provided the relaxation stop we greatly appreciated.
But...it was not over yet! The greatest finale to any bike trip I have ever experienced was our last lap of 10 miles descending into the spectacular canyons in the Capital Reef National Park. High cliffs enclosed us as we pedaled to the finish line. What an incredible ride...we hoped it wouldn’t end.
But it did...we then said our goodbyes to the staff and cyclists in Grand Junction, CO. It was an incredible experience for Joyce and me. It was fun, exciting, challenging, scenic , and an interesting life experience. It was a terrific vacation, and one which provides of lifetime of memories.
Thanks for joining us!
Bill and Joyce
PS This is the last journal entry of our Southwest trip. We hope to report again soon on our next cycling adventure.
Posted: Mon, 25 June 2012
Posted: Sat, 23 June 2012
DAY 5 ESCALANTE TO BOULDER, UT
ESCALANTE TO BOULDER, CO
Today’s 32 mile ride on Utah’s Scenic Byway, Route 12, between Escalante and Boulder was divided into very different halves.
We began early to get ahead of the 90 plus degree heat that was to come later in the day. Our scenic route was relatively flat for the first 17 miles. We were at 6,000 feet on another sunny, dry desert day in the southwest.
Our first stop was a popular destination sitting atop a rock outcropping in the middle of nowhere: the Kiva Coffee House. It was built by a 87 year old eccentric architect with reclaimed local wood. The unique circular wood-beamed construction is as unique as its hidden off-road location.
The caffeine boost proved to provide an assist in the challenging second half of the ride; 15 miles of riding which included an 1800 foot climb up “Hell Backbone’s” 10% to 14% grades.
The ride along the Backbone offered great “top of the world” views on both sides of the road. There were not even guard rails along the steep drop- offs on either side.
Joyce and I climbed into Boulder, UT with our guides Nicole and Thurk. Thurk had joined us for a few days of riding, having completed his mountaineering guide duties ascending the 7 summits of Denali Mountain in Alaska.
The afternoon optional activity was an hour yoga class outside in the shade of the cottonwood trees . Joyce and I were among the 7 “students” stretching and twisting with our instructor on the lawn at the lodge. I am todl by those who do yoga regularly that my “practice” needs work.
The group gathered for a cocktail party before dinner.
Ciao, Bill and Joyce
Posted: Thu, 21 June 2012
DAY 4 BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK
I have frequently seen photograpphs of Bryce Canyon and have thought that SOMEDAY it would be great to really see it “up close and personal”. Today was that day!
Joyce and I experienced this absolute miracle of nature from a bicycle seat and on an extended hike into the Canyon. We were actually in the famous “Hoodoos” of Bryce Canyon and were overwhelmed! We found that the Grand Canyon impresses with its grandeur. colors, and magnitude; Bryce Canyon with its uniqueness of the eroded Hoodoos and the ability to walk among and through these geological monuments. What a terrific day!
At breakfast this morning in our small “gold star” B&B we were joined by the Bush twins; Barbara and Jenna, daughters of George W. They are here to film a special report for the “Today Show” on NBC. Joyce spoke briefly with them.
We were driven to Bryce Canyon National Park and taken to Rainbow Point, where we hopped on the bikes and began a 15 mile ride to the Bryce Lodge. It was a beautiful ride with numerous scenic overviews that shock your senses. We enjoyed cruising through the aspen and ponderosa pine forest of this National landmark park.
We were at 9000 feet as we began our descent, the temperature was a refreshing 64 degrees...a full 40 degrees below what we had been experiencing. The increase in altitude explains the difference in temperatures from earlier in the week.
At lunchtime at our Lizard Head outdoor kitchen we were joined by Cris and Alan, our friends from Naples, who were here hiking. They enjoyed meeting our cycling gang.
Our hike from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point descended deeply into the Canyon. We were surrounded by hoodoos and rock spires of all shapes and sizes. We stopped to photograph the “Queen Victoria Rock”, which very much resembled the statue in London. It was an interactive hike with the environment. You walked into, under, and through these spires of rock under a true blue sky. What a memorable day in the American Southwest!
Dinner laughter continued at the slit Rock Canyon Inn that evening.
Posted: Tue, 19 June 2012
DAY 3 BOULDER TO CALF CREEK FALLS AND ESCALANTE
BOULDER TO CALF CREEK FALLS AND ESCALANTE
Today the Whiterocks Canyon Tour joins Utah State Highway 12, a road built for cycling, as it has little traffic and has spectacular scenery.
We rode across the ridge of Hell’s Backbone, an exposed piece of highway that drops hundreds of feet on either side. The highway, nicknamed the “Million Dollar Highway”, was built by the CCC during the depression years. The road traces the northern edge of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The Park is 1.9 million acres of multi-colored cliffs and mesa with distant views that challenge the imagination.
We arrived at Calf Creek Recreation Area where hiked 6 miles in the desert oasis to the remarkable 126 foot waterfalls , where we cooled off in the water and had lunch. It is a spectacular sight!
The Slot Canyons Inn in Escalante is our home for the next 2 nights. We will be very comfortable here! It is beautiful; set on 160 acres of canyons, cliffs, and streams. Horses and cattle graze in pastures in front. Dinner is served from their open-air kitchen.
The weather remains HOT! we have not seen a drop of rain or a cloud in weeks.
Posted: Mon, 18 June 2012
DAY 2 BULLFROG TO BOULDER, UT
Bullfrog to Boulder, UT
The cycling group met this morning at 5:30 am in the parking lot of the Bullfrog Lodge. The Lizard Head van and trailer is also known as the “outdoor kitchen”. A hearty breakfast prepared by John and Nicole, our guides, was served in the morning darkness. It was already 80 degrees and headed into the high 90’s, so we planned to get an early start on the heat.
Our route to Boulder (55 miles) included the opportunity to cycle in 3 National Parks or National Recreation Areas: Glen Canyon National Recreation at Lake Powell, Capital Reef National Park, and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.It was in Escalante that we had lunch in the only shade available; under the tent.
The Burr Trail, our main road today took us “Way back into the Way Back” of canyon country. It is a little known and rarely used historical trail that is described as “One of the most unique and challenging bike rides in North America”. Joyce and I agree!
Cycling through the redrock canyons, climbing and descending in the heat and parched conditions of the desert, Joyce and I enjoyed the ride and the sights. The views were never less than outstanding!
We arrived at our country motel in Boulder, an oasis in the desert, at the end of the day.
Posted: Mon, 18 June 2012
HANKSVILLE, UT TO BULLFROG ON LAKE POWELL
BULLFROG TO LAKE POWELL
Nine cyclists and two staff guides left Grand Junction, CO early Sunday morning in the van. We had a 2 hour ride to Hanksville, UT where the Whiterock tour commences on a high desert plateau south of town. The day’s ride was 41 miles in the Henry Mountains ending in Bullfrog on Lake Powell.
The road twists and turns past deep canyons as it climbs to 5,235 feet. There appears to be no FLAT roads in Utah!
With a late start we biked in the heat of the day...and a HOT one it was; over 100 degrees.
The heat and climbs definitely took their toll on Day 1, but the comfort of our lodging in Bullfrog, and the views overlooking the house boats on Lake Powell was our reward.
Our congenial first group dinner gave us the opportunity to get to know our fellow cyclists. As always, cycling groups bring together interesting and fun-loving people. Five members of the group had done the Redrock Canyon Tour together and are strong cyclists.
In the extreme and dry desert heat we all learned quickly the necessity of proper hydration.
The endless awesome scenery is just amazing. Over the crest of every climb and around every corner is a view that is unimaginable.
We are off to a great start!
BILL AND JOYCE
Posted: Sat, 16 June 2012
Leaving the Grand Canyon National Park early on Friday morning, June 16th, we knew we had a long 8 hour drive ahead of us. Grand Junction, Colorado was our destination, but there was plenty to see along the way.
We traveled on Route 160 through Navajo Reservations of severely parched and rocky landscapes with only the occasional collection of trailers and homes.
Monument Valley, stretching 30,000 acres in Northern Arizona and
Southern Utah, is a sight to behold. Centuries of wind and rain have carved the mammoth red-sandstone into memorable formations; frozen in time.
For perhaps 100 miles today we shared the road with widely separated cyclists and their support vehicles. They were all tired looking participants in the annual Bicycle Race Across America. At least they had the magnificent scenery of Monument Valley to divert their attention from the 100 degree heat and strenous climbs.
Speaking of the heat...we received an email today from Lizard Head Cycling Guides warning us of the record heat wave in our bike tour area. Temperatures are 17 degrees above normal, and a concern as we ride deep into the canyons of red rock walls.
Tonight we meet our guides and fellow riders , load our bikes on the van and prepare to gather on Sunday morning at 7 am. We will van to Hanksville, Utah where we begin our day’s ride to Bullfrog Village on Lake Powell.
We found Grand Junction, CO an impressive city as we prepared today for tomorrow’s departure. The bikes are ready...and so are we!
Bill and Joyce at the El Tovar
Posted: Thu, 14 June 2012
THE GRAND CANYON....SURREAL!
“The Grand Canyon is a land of song!”
As much as we enjoyed Taos and Santa Fe we had great anticipation for our next destination; the Grand Canyon National Park.
Tuesday evening, June 12, we had our farewell dinner with our friends Cris and Alan, our housemates in Santa Fe. We were to head out in the morning in different directions.
On Wednesday’s 7 hour drive to the Grand Canyon we stopped in Holbrook, AZ on “historic Route 66”, and in Flagstaff to pick up scenic highway #108 for its mountain views of the San Francisco Peaks in the distance.
Arriving at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim’s Bright Angel Lodge by mid-afternoon, we quickly unloaded our gear and bikes into our “historic cabin” room located right on the Rim Trail overlooking the Canyon...and set out to explore.
We immediately saw the nearly extinct California Condors, now thriving in the Canyon’s environment.
We hiked 5 miles on the Rim Trail, approximately 7000 feet above sea level, accompanied by “hikers” from all over the world. The brochures tell us that nearly 5 million visitors per year view this incredible Canyon. It measures 10 miles across to the North Rim, 1 mile deep to the Colorado River, and stretches 277 miles in length. It is truly a “Wonder of the World”.
With so many others we had to experience the dramatic beauty of a sunset in the Canyon. The ever-changing play of colors and shadows here keeps photographers and hikers alike in a state of awe.
Not knowing if the Grand Canyon National Park would be a bicycle friendly place, we were happy to find that it provides several excellent, scenic and enjoyable bike routes. We biked 25 miles Thursday morning, covering the entire length of the roads in the Village from West to East. We stopped often for scenic overlooks on the route.
Riding west on Hermit’s Rest route, a 15 mile round trip stretch limited to official Park buses and bicycles, we had the road to ourselves. The Canyon walls in the light of the rising sun is simply a sight I will always remember.
We continued our bike ride on the Greenway Trail, which we again had almost to ourselves. The Trail traveled East along the Canyon rim and through a Ponderosa Pine forest to the South Kaibab Trailhead.
Dinner this evening is at the famous El Tovar Lodge, the “grand-daddy” of National Park Lodges. Reservations were made a month in advance
These lonely mules had heard that we were coming and were looking forward to giving Joyce a ride down into the Canyon. She refused, so they wait patiently for a replacement.
The Grand Canyon stay for us was very special! One cannot describe the beauty, the magnitude, the peaceful impact of this wonder of nature.
Bill & Joyce
Posted: Tue, 12 June 2012
Favorite sites of Santa Fe!
Here are just some of our favorite sights & memories of our wonderful week in Santa Fe!
The oldest home in America
San Miguel Mission
The oldest active church in America
The New Mexico State Capitol Building
Canyon Road is famous for it's art galleries
Former Palace of the Governors
It is now the New Mexico History Museum where native people sale their crafts
St. Francis Catheral Basilicia
Joyce and her stage coach on the Old Santa Fe Coach Trail
Bill biking with Joyce on the Old Santa Fe Trail
The Loretto Hotel is a classic example of Pueblo Architecture
that we loved so much!