Saturday, October 5, 2013

Red Canyon to Zion National Park

Who wants to sleep in a tent at minus 10? We have to be mad. We are of course :-) Our sleeping bags aren't up to minus 10 and neither am I. The only thing I took off that night were my boots. I slept in my motorcycle jacket, Dragging jeans, winter gloves and had a beanie on too! It was still cold. My nose is too big, I need a beanie for that too. Even Jeanette decided to wear a jumper that night… and grabbed her beanie halfway during the night as well! It must have been cold. Mike has a mummie type sleeping bag. Inside the bag was indeed a mummie; in full motorcycle kit! 

The next morning my Triumph didn't start. The computer said the battery wouldn't be up to it and thus refused to operate the starter motor. I had made a jumper lead two years ago, which I had taken with me. Just 5 minutes later we were on our way. First stop was Bryce Village where the big waterwheel had been transformed by mother nature into an ice sculpture.

The National Parks might be closed but there was still plenty to see. Red Canyon for instance! It's so beautiful that we stopped every 200 metres for photos. I just kept coming back to the same thought; how can Utah have so many beautiful landscapes in one state? It's almost embarrassing to the other states. They are beautiful too, but Utah is just on a different scale. The vastness, the variety, the colours, the accessibility… it's all there in just one state. Red Canyon is, simply put, just another one red Canyon. There are lots of red colour canyons in Utah of course but this is a beautiful one! We were  completely spoilt of course but we did appreciate it's beauty, it's impossible not to. Yet I wondered why is it all in Utah? 

Somewhat later it was almost all over. An elderly couple overtook me dangerously. He had stayed well behind us on the perfectly straight section, not giving any indication he even wanted to overtake. Suddenly he decides to overtake anyway, while there are 4 cars coming from the opposite direction. There is no room for overtaking, yet he does it anyway and runs me off the road… He then tries to overtake Jeanette in her lane… and does the same with Mike… I explode and go after him. What the $#$#@ was he thinking? He killed almost 3 people in less than 2 minutes. Riding next to him I look inside the vehicle and see two old farts looking back… Raising my arms in a 'what were you doing' motion, he decides to move towards me…! Is he for real? Surely he's not going to ram me? Less than a split second later he did… The pannier takes the full hit and the bike moves over a metre. I'm not going down… just! This guy is totally insane. On a motorcycle you don't get into an argument with a car, so I back off and he disappeared in the distance.

Later I see a State Trooper's car parked in a service station, I thought about going in but as the car is long gone, what is he going to do about it? So we continued. Only to be followed soon after by that same StateTrooper with flashing lights and an undercover agent in tow. The car driver told the StateTrooper that I had rammed him… They asked me my side of the story, but didn't believe me. This was getting funny, killed almost twice by this idiot and now a copper that believes I rammed him. Showing the thick rubber mark on my pannier I asked him how that could have been on there unless his wheels were pointing towards me… Troopie begins to doubt the old farts story is correct,  but then his colleague says 'that happened when your pannier went inside his wheel arch!' 'Maybe if he had a huge monster truck it could have happened, although the rubber would still be on the front or rear of the pannier, not in the middle. This guy was driving a little Japanese thing, this pannier will not fit inside his wheel arch and is mounted too high for it too.' Troopie decides to yell at me that I should not lie to him…! Is he for real? The proof is hanging on my pannier and he still doesn't believe it? Then his colleague begins to see that the old fart's story just doesn't add up. Adding to it 'I'm on a trip from Alaska to Argentina with my family, do you seriously think I've come all this way to get into an argument with a car driver and kill myself?' did the trick, they finally saw some sense.

Only then did I find out the car driver was behind the two police cars. To my utter surprise they gave him a reprimand but let him go… and came back to me to urge me to call 911 next time and let them sort it out. I didn't say anything but thought 'yeah that will help, you've just let him go despite him trying to kill us all…' They had another look at the pannier and compliment me on not going down… !?!
Still high on adrenaline we continued the trip. I wondered why he didn't even asked for my license, insurance or any proof of who I was… all he asked was 'are you an American?' Unlike in the movies this US Cop didn't even point his gun at me…

The State Troopers kept following us for a while in the distance, no doubt checking if they could find anything to book us for, before turning off into a one-way street. I'm not the brightest kid on the block perhaps, but did realise they would be back… and they were just a couple of minutes later! 'Hey Mr Policeman, this guy checks his mirrors!' They gave up in the end. Mike and Jeanette have proven they ride safe and check their mirrors by avoiding disaster today. Well done!

Zion NP was next on our list and also shut down. As it's a main road that goes through Zion, they don't actually stopped us going through it… and there is no entrance
fee either. Blast! We had paid for a National Parks pass. We are not allowed to stop, they said. When we did anyway a bit further on to take a photo, a ranger stopped to tell us we had to move on. 'Oh, sorry but as this isn't fenced off I thought it was ok' He smiled and told me that we were not allowed to stop anywhere but we could 'pause'… 'what's the difference?' I asked him. He smiled and said...  well pausing is shorter and you don't leave your bike.' Ok, I can live with that!

Zion is a beautiful park, the strange sandstone formations look like they have been melted. Beautiful colours too, well you'll see it in the photos. It is a mecca for photographers. Just outside the park is a photographer with an old bellows style camera. He's using the old glass plate negatives and works in pure black and white. Looking at his camera, I found out it's actually quite new! No point and shoot for this young man, he made his own negatives and developed them himself in the back of his car. The Zion campground was closed of course but just outside Zion we found a campground that had a spot right next to the river :-)