I was excited to go from Blanding to Grand Junction, which seems quite boring, but you go right up to Moab then turn off on Highway 128. Checking out Google's "street view" looked promising—you're right alongside Arches National Park for a ways, go through a ghost town called Dewey, and are next to the Colorado River. Sounds nice, right?
Well, I clearly wasn't paying attention to my maps. To be honest, it was a small miracle that I hadn't gotten lost until this point. I'm the kind of person with the broken compass, relying heavily on my phone to tell me which way to turn with that friendly, sterile voice. I wasn't lost per se, because I was technically on the main route, but I had completely missed 128.
I was still enjoying myself turning off on beautifully barren, desert dirt roads (before I realized I missed the turn.) One particular road was incredibly washboarded, and I thought at any moment the engine would get rattled clear out of the frame. I pulled off on the side to take some photos, and realized just how hot it was out here. I figured I'd be done because it was scorching, and it probably wasn't good for my bike to be shaken around so badly, not to mention I was probably getting all sorts of new chips and dings.
I flipped the 'run' button and heard the usual hum, priming the motorcycle to start up. I then pressed the 'start' button and there was nothing. Oh, shit. I'm a mile down a totally random dirt road with no cell reception whatsoever, and the sun is mercilessly beating down with no shade in sight (I also had maybe a few sips of water left.) I hadn't seen anyone go down this road yet. Slightly panicking, I tried starting it again, and again, and again. Still nothing.
I moved it around a bit forwards and backwards in neutral and tried again. Strangely enough, that worked. Why, I don't know, but I was just so immensely thankful that I wasn't going to be forced to walk down that road to the freeway and wave down help. That very thought was terrifying, being alone and a woman.
Back on the road, I was beginning to wonder where that turn was. I looked down at my directions and realized just how many miles I'd gone past 128. I was upset. But, at least my motorcycle was still running. I eventually made my way onto I70, and was into Grand Junction before I knew it. The town itself is pretty ho hum, but the surrounding beauty is amazing. I was planning on another sunrise expedition to the Colorado National Monument, which seems to be an overlooked park. I'd never even heard of it before. I checked into my room, with a sign on the table that said This Is A Smoke Free Hotel. Hotel was more like "motel", but the scent of cigarettes was not contaminating the room, a refreshing change from last night. I watched cars audibly zoom down the freeway with illuminated gas station signs framing the view.
Early that morning, I set off into the cold and made my way up the winding road in the dark. One nice thing about going to a national park before the entrance kiosk opens is that you won't have to pay the fee.
I began to see light. I had to pick a spot quick. That's the one unfortunate thing about sunrise—the window is so small, so you have to choose your spot wisely. I began to see what looked like the view in some images I'd seen. I pulled off into the first lookout area I could make out. Where I ended up was overlooking "Redlands View", showing part of the road I had gone up nestled in the middle of two red rock formations.
You can't help but be in awe as the sun's rays peek over the horizon. Alone with my motorcycle patiently waiting next to me, I was mesmerized being bathed in such wonderful light. In the future, I'd love to make it over to "Grand View", about 5 miles further up where you see a dazzling collection of sandstone towers.
I thought about a nap, but decided to soldier on and get started on the final 250 miles to my apartment where an anxious boyfriend of mine was waiting. As I was leaving the motel, I noticed that the pool had a mural painted on one of its walls above it. How strange the outdoor scene looked illuminated by cold, sterile fluorescence with chlorinated water below in a jarring shade of artificial blue.
Now that I was back in Colorado, I'd hoped that the week and some days away had greened the state up a bit, but it was wishful thinking. Still, I25 was surprisingly beautiful, maybe because I'd only ever seen it coming back from Christmas when the landscape was completely dead. It was at least halfway alive. I was thoroughly enjoying myself, especially riding next to the Colorado River, until a bee managed to fly right down the sleeve on my left arm. At least I thought it was a bee—I never saw what it was when I exited the freeway and furiously shook out my jacket, looking for the culprit. That hurt. It had been a while since I'd been stung by a bee. My forearm continued to swell and itch like crazy, not fully healing until more than a week later. At least it wasn't my face?
As I entered Boulder, I was exhausted, but I had almost made it home. I laughed to myself thinking of making it all this way, being so close, only to be hit by a car tearing ass out of the parking lot (something that I'm always cautious of because it almost happened to me once.) But I rolled up behind my car unscathed, and felt incredibly triumphant turning off the ignition. I thanked my bike for getting me back safely. It was a long journey for the both of us.
I learned so much along the way, and apart from a few mild hiccups, it went as well as it could. I can't wait to do it again as soon as I'm able to.