Neil and Mel's Big Adventure

Adventure Tunes

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Ceremonial Ride

San Francisco was great. The pictures tell the story. The "Whitebeards" rode the ferry from Vallejo to San Fran. Karen and I met Neil and Mel at Pier 41 at about 2pm on Wednesday. It was great to see them! We finished the day sight seeing and eating great food. Thursday morning was the final and ceremonial ride to the ocean, dipping in the wheels. We visited the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausilito; then spent some time in Muir woods -- more quiet time. It was a great trip for all of us. We're glad to have them back home, and hope they can be happy here after such a marvelous adventure. The hard work paid off -- they both have skinnied down. The beards are white, not grey, and Mel's hair has grown back. They parted with a handshake and are back to normal today; their normal. (?)
Here's Mel's final chapter:
We're home now. The saga has finished. My son, Adam, told me that a lot of people will be disappointed as they have been following our journey avidly. That is amazing to Neil and I--that our children's co-workers (and their mothers, and neighbors, etc.) would find the trip of two old geezers on bikes so interesting. As I have mentioned previously, we really aren't that unique. We didn't see anybody close to our age out there, but we have heard about oldsters doing this from others. Maybe the unique part of our trip was the late departure. Not many people start a transcontinental trip after Labor Day. The chances of facing bad weather are greater--and that indeed happened to us. But thanks to a rescue from the wives, difficult times were made bearable and the journey more joyful with their visits. Now for an update on the journey's final two days:Following a hard, windy day that saw us reach Vacaville, we set out for our final destination. At Vacaville, we bedded down in a motel near the freeway. It was one of many places where we couldn't find anything but a motel--no nearby public or private camping. I've had a checkered past of sleeping in people's boats on Balboa Island, in bushes outside the entry to the Santa Barbara police station, and in ditches en route hitchhiking to Zion, but Neil was averse to that kind of behavior. Come on, Neil--Bob Dylan could have written a song about us had we done that. Instead we bedded down in a flea-bag place like you may have seen in Chevy Chase's "Vacation" movie--scum and ducks in the swimming pool, etc. Well, maybe not that bad, but it's a good thing I had my glasses off when I took a shower. I saw the mold the next morning when I put my specks on. But who cares? Showers after a day in the saddle always felt so good. I also think I forgot to mention how we blew into Vacaville on the heels of a young lady on her racing bike. She caught us (easy to do) while out training and volunteered to show us how to get into town and find the library, a motel, etc. I told her we'd have a hard time keeping up with her pace, but she said that any guys who could cross the country could keep up with her. And then it was off to the races.Well, back to getting out of Vacaville: We followed a nifty bike trail to get back to our map's route in the foothills. Along the way, I smelled licorice. Fennel was growing wild along the road and it smelled so good. Along the way, we met some ladies out for an early-morning walk while going up a hill. Neil told them he might need a boost. When they learned where we had come from and where we were headed, they said, "Well, you won't get to San Francisco unless you can get up this d__n hill." That's one of the fun things about biking. You're not isolated in the cocoon of a car. You can have interactions with others all the time. I loved hollering out for directions to people on sidewalks, in cars, on bikes. Loved it. We met up with our map's route near Fairfield. At that place, we followed little traveled roads through suburban neighborhoods hugging the hills. At one intersection, I pulled up next to a motorcycle cop and hollared over to him about how far it was to our next road. He told me and, realizing we were heading for a San Francisco ending, said, it looked like I could go another 200 miles. Probably, but the water might be a bit too deep. After leaving the suburbs, we entered another area of orchards and vineyards. At one corner, we passed a large farm produce market surrounded by many cars. After a quarter mile, Neil pulled over and said he had a feeling we needed to go back and check it out. Such feelings need to be followed on the journey. It may have been no more than Neil's mid-morning need for a Diet Coke or a pastry, but it could also be something cool we needed to experience. It was. People were doing their fruit and vegetable shopping at Larry's Produce with wheelbarrows, not shopping carts. Huge bins were laden with pomegranates, grapes, squash, apples, walnuts--every variety of locally-grown produce. The grapes tasted like they were picked that morning. Larry's Produce had it all. It was one of those moments. But this was a day when we had a date to meet our wives in San Francisco. It was like that all day--a mix between wanting to linger and lengthen out our final day on the road and wanting to reunite with our wives. It was such a fine riding day, too. No wind or only a tail wind. Easy hills (until nearing the end). Our wives missed seeing us paralleling the freeway by only about fifteen minutes as they barreled towards S.F. after spending the night at some tawdry place in Reno. As we crested a hill, we got our first view of what looked like San Francisco Bay and fleet of moth-balled Navy ships. Then it was back behind some coastal foothills and more rollers and serious hill work. How could we end this journey properly except with some more heavy-duty hill climbing? Neil's maps mentioned that the transcontinental route we took climbs a total of 140,000 plus feet in elevation. Most of that elevation gain is undoubtedly in the western half that we took with all its mountains, so I might not be amiss in guessing that we probably climbed over 100,000 feet in elevation during our half-country journey. We exited the foothills on some nice downhill runs into Vallejo--the town where we would pick up the ferry to cross the bay to the Summer of Love city. The ferry was an open-hulled speedster that cranked up to over thirty knots when we got into more open water. Our bikes on the rear deck were covered with salt spray residue from the rooster tail the ferry kicked up. We slowed as we neared Fisherman's Warf and I craned my neck to see if I could spot our wives. I went from one side of the ferry to the other looking for them. Finally I spotted them and, waving joyously, hollered out to Neil, "Here's the ladies!" They had first seen, not us, but Neil's yellow bob trailer flag waving in the breeze on the back deck of the ferry. I can't speak for Neil, but I felt like a sailor returning to port after an engagement and a joyful reunion with his wife after a lengthy absence. My brother asked me if I saw any cruise ships tied up along the wharf, but I can't recall anything but the happiness of seeing Karen and the barking of some nearby seals. Although we had deferred the actual ending of our journey to the next day when we would dip our wheels in the Pacific Ocean, that moment of reaching San Francisco and seeing Karen really felt like the end of the 6-week journey for me. We walked with them to their parked car and unloaded all our heavy gear--our panniers, the bob trailer--all that necessary gear we had hauled for almost two thousand miles. They gave us directions to find the motel where we would stay on Nob Hill. A bike with no gear! Just a bike! What a novel concept! Seventy plus pounds that we had hauled up and down mountain passes--now free from us. San Francisco has hills, some of which are very steep. It's like we had been in training for this moment. I felt like a bird set free. San Francisco's hills were nothing. We had crossed the Rockies (twice) and the Sierras. San Francisco's hills were just a blip. Bring it on. It felt like I could just bop up those bumps, passing cars at will. Maybe they were parked waiting for a red light to change, but the sensation was like I was Steve McQueen in the movie "Bullit." I pulled into the motel right behind the ladies. They were impressed. I know my brother-in-law and nephew will want to test out my hill climbing ability in Salt Lake's canyons next. First give this old man a little rest.After cleaning up, we walked to a nearby Italian restaurant. Everyone working and eating in the little cafe sounded like they had just gotten off the boat. It was the best Italian food all of us had ever eaten (at least in America--as Neil and Becky are world travelers). Becky proposed a wonderful trip-ending toast to "the two graybeards who are really white beards." We all clinked glasses. How nice. How fitting. We were and had come a long way from Ness City, Kansas. Our wives were such a help--from beginning to end, and in between. But as my wife, jabbing her finger at me, said, "Don't do it again!"The next morning, we put on our bike togs for the final trip-ending ride to dip our wheels into the Pacific Ocean. Neil and I rode down the succession of hills to the water front with brakes squealing--but in our minds picturing ourselves as Steve McQueen. After a little practice, we can do a pretty good "California stop" at stop signs--that is, a light touch to the brake (not) and through the intersection we go. Hey, we're laid back, we're cool. Yeah, I know, we're two old geezers caught up in a mid- to late-life crisis. At least that's what some people think. I'm not sure we know ourselves. We met the wives at Fort Point underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. The morning was warm and delightful--no fog and not a cloud in the sky. The people of San Francisco are so joyfully physically active. Young and old walk, run, and bike along the beautiful bay waterfront. Some old fools even swim out in the bay for their exercise. This beautiful city has that effect on you. It makes you goofy and you do whacky things. Like riding from the point (remember that place in a scene in a Dirty Harry movie? Inspector Callahan) around to Baker Beach to haul our bikes across the sand, take off our bike shoes/socks, and walk our bikes into the crashing surf of the Pacific Ocean. We did it. We finished the journey properly. How did I feel? A bit reflective, but the emotions at the end were more muted. Unlike the feelings I had been waking up with for the final few weeks as I remembered so many moments along the way. I had logged them in the vault and they seemed to spill out in the hours before the sun arose and Neil's blackberry alarm sounded. It was lunch time and as we wanted to do a celebratory bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge, we told the ladies we'd meet them on the Sausalito side for lunch. A bike ride (or walk) across the bridge is the best way to experience that iconic structure. It gets you out of the car cocoon. We had trouble linking up and the ladies made three trips across the bridge before finally meeting us for lunch. After lunch, we decided to drive to the Muir Woods. It was a wonderful, almost reverential, contrast to the hub-bub of the city. None of us had ever been there--to see the world's tallest trees--thousand year old coast redwoods preserved from logging. Then it was back to the city, another bike ride across the bridge, and another bop up S.F.'s hills. In the parking lot of the motel, Neil then felt it was safe to say, "Well, we cheated death again." He always says that at a conclusion of one of our snowshoe hikes, but must not have wanted to say that until this bike journey officially ended. Neil likes fish and wanted to go to a seafood restaurant. He had thought that a restaurant down on the wharf would be great, but the motel manager convinced him to try a nearby place on Hyde Street. We walked to it and Neil had the best mahi mahi he'd ever had. All had wonderful fish dinners, but me. I had pork chops and, yes, they were good. Thanks for asking. The next morning, we stuffed the trunk with all our gear and racked up the bikes for the two-day drive back to Utah. We arrived home unscathed and nothing fell off the back of the car.We're a bit banged up. Neil's right foot is numb. My left toes are numb, my knee tendonitis is a bit flared up, a few bruises here and there, the wrist is tender, and we don't need to talk about my saddle sores. I'm going to take few days off before returning to work. I may have lost the work ethic.I've been asked, will we finish the eastern half of the transcontinental trip next year? I can only answer for myself at this moment. I think not. What we did was a hard journey--harder than I could have imagined just sitting here in Salt Lake thinking about doing it. I still am imbued with that spirit of adventure, but I like my adventures closer to home. I like to be able to have a hiking, snowshoe, or backcountry skiing adventure and come home to a hot shower at night. I have such adventures every single week as I rarely let a Saturday go by without going up into the mountains (so close) to do those kind of things. Pete, the generous biking guy who hosted us at his house in Carson City, said that I must have learned something about myself when I verbalized those thoughts to him. I guess I did. I still would like to do a bike ride up to and around Yellowstone, but that isn't so far from home. I can see me doing little jaunts for a few days here and there in our beautiful state. We live in a wonderful place. Bikers we met pronounced it one of the most beautiful they traveled through. And so it is. Pete from Carson City told me that we did the most interesting part of the transcontinental journey--the western half. I'm not ready for the rocking chair yet. In fact, it feels quite a bit strange to have not ridden my bike the past two days. Quite a bit strange. It feels like I'm doing something wrong not to be on it. Weird.We are each wired differently. Surfer Joe, the two guys from Wales, Will from Chico, the two old men--you. We are happy to have shared our journey with each of you--from reports there are over a hundred of you who have followed us on our daily grind. Amazing. Becky has done a wonderful job posting photos and a chronology of our travels on her blog. She was able to retrieve some of the photos we thought were lost into the ether including the whacky shoe tree. She will probably put up those photos and others of our trail ending exploits in S.F. in the next few days. You don't know how knowing your interest, support, e-mails, etc., strengthened us and buoyed us up on lonely days out in the middle of nowhere. I echo what that transcontinental lady walker said when we met that couple in the Wah Wah Mountains in the empty wastes of western Utah: "This is a BIG country!" Amen.P.S.: For those of you who might want to get in touch with me in the future, it's best to now use my home e-mail ( and not the hotmail account (which I just set up to use on the road).

Home Stretch

Hi again, We are in the home stretch. One day away from San Francisco and we are feeling the love. Yesterday was like a love fest. I couldn't keep the smile off my face. We biked from Placerville in the foothills of the Sierras and began entering an area of California that is mecca for bikers. Davis is the biking capital of California, but biking is really big as far east as Folsom. It was in Folsom where Neil and I stopped to look at a flock of wild turkeys on the lawn of their city hall. Three bike guys heading the other way whipped around on a busy street to hear our story and give us the commendable pats on the back. That was the start of the same treatment by bikers all day long. None of the bikers had ever done what we are doing, but they knew what an accomplishment we have done (almost) and just wanted to talk to us for inspiration to maybe do it, too, and to congratulate us. You can't imagine how we felt. Neil and I stopped at a quiet place along the American River bike trail to reflect and to let it all sink in. He said he doesn't want it to end. He just wants time to slow down so we can lengthen out this whole thing. I'm ready for it to end, but it's winding down in such a wonderful way. You can't imagine the thoughts about this whole journey that go through my head. I woke up about 4 AM this morning and replayed so many memories. But as each day is different, so was today. I hoped it would be more of the same going through Davis on their bike trail, but we had some really stiff winds battering us without letup from the north for most of the day. It was a battle to just keep moving ahead with such a strong side wind. We have all that luggage with our panniers and bob trailer that other bikers don't have to contend with. We really have to lean into the wind to keep our bikes upright and that takes a big toll on us for thirty miles. But then we started heading south through some very pretty coastal hills and the winds weren't a factor from our lunch stop in Winters to Vacaville where we are bedded down tonight. Our wives are in Reno tonight and will drive to San Francisco tomorrow. Plans are for them to drive to the Nob Hill Hotel near Fisherman's Warf where we will stay for two nights. They will then take the ferry across the bay to meet us tomorrow afternoon to cross the bay with us on that ferry from Vallejo. Vallejo is only a thirty mile ride from here so we should be there by early afternoon if we have favorable winds. We will then finish the ride on the next day by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and back (for fun) and then dipping our wheels over in the Pacific Ocean. But that is the future and I have a bit of catching up to do from when I last wrote. We have been out of civilization quite a bit with no computer access. I think I last wrote when we were in Fallon, Nevada. At Fallon, we had an interesting thing happen. We were eating dinner in a Mexican restaurant that a lady crossing the street told Neil was pretty good in response to a question from him. He was pedaling his bike and just asked her if it would be a good place to eat. He noticed she was eating in the back with her family. On their way out about fifteen minutes before we finished, she asked him if he enjoyed the meal. He said he did. When the waitress came over to us after our meal, she said that couple had paid for our meals. I've seen that in movies, but have never been the recipient. We got their last name from the waitress and I hope to locate them and thank them for their kindness. We have a warm spot in our hearts now for Fallon. I also fell down again in Fallon. I skinned up my knee a little and strained my old broken wrist. I've been wearing an ace bandage on it and that give it a pretty good cushion while riding. Neil said, "Now no more." He's been giving me point scores on each fall (two official falls and two half falls so far). A half fall is where I fall and land on him or his bob. So we don't give that any points. But my other fall was somewhere in Utah (I think) and I got a 9 on that because there was no ill effects, but the one in Fallon I only got an 8 because I got roughed up a bit. But I still love my clip in pedals. They are just more of a hazard to one whose mind isn't always apparently on the task at hand. Just got to keep thinking, unclip, unclip, unclip. I'll have to send this now or lose it, so I'll finish this in a second e-mail.Mel

Mel's Insight

Picutres are "Smelly Mel's" outhouse near Placerville, Hostel in Sacramento, and Chuck and Linda in Sacramento. "We had a phenomenal ride from Fallon. After about twenty miles of our good old riding through the sagebrush lands of Nevada, the good stuff began happening at Silver Springs. We started on a road with good pavement and a nice wide shoulder and the wind shifted to a tail wind. We learned later that bikers don't get a tail wind on that stretch from there into Carson City only about 1 out of every hundred days. It probably was a result of the Santa Ana winds they are also experiencing in So Cal. We just flew, not only downhill, but uphill. Usually bikers fight a head wind all the way into Carson City. With our luck, maybe we should have played the slot machines. But what also happened was something really wonderful. We stopped at a bike ship in the center of Carson and met some great guys running that shop. While Neil was getting a new mirror and a tire replaced on his recumbent, I talked with Mickey at the counter. I asked him where guys going cross country usually camp in town. He said there were a couple of people who liked to host people like us gratis. My kind of talk. He called a couple and left a message that I would be calling in a bit to see if they would like to put up two old geezers at their place for a night. I called after a bit and they said come on over. So we spent a most delightful night with this great couple, Barbara and Pete. I've got on tape what Pete said about why they do this. A number of years ago, he sold a business before they were married and spent five years traveling on his bike on four continents. Many people hosted him (sometimes for months at a time). What a story! He is returning the favor, plus it enriches their lives to hear the stories of our journey. They served us a gourmet dinner and a great pancake breakfast before sending us on our way. Unforgettable. Pete and Barbara seemed to think we could just pop over Carson Pass (they call it a bump) the next day. Neil and I knew better. We now watch out for the expectations about our riding strength by any fellow bike rider who refers to big passes as bumps. We got as far that day as Hope Valley. There were some dangerous no-shoulder stretches for about two miles prior to Hope Valley where we just walked our bikes (not because it was steep), but for safety. I don't know how the Carson riders can safely ride that stretch. But we didn't see any others doing it, but plenty sure told us they did. We had a nice rest in the old town of Genoa (Mormon Station) before heading up toward the pass. In Hope Valley, we got off on a short dirt road and found a spot to bed down in the forest before darkness set in. It got down close to freezing that night, but it could have been worse as there was a slight cloud cover. The next morning we climbed up to Carson Pass. It's only 8,500 feet high, but we had a 4,000 foot climb up that east side from Carson City. That's why it was nice for us to only go up to Hope Valley from which we were able to start that next morning for the 11-mile ride the rest of the way over the top. Only it wasn't really the top because on the west side of the descent are a couple more "bumps" including one that took us back up to 8,000 feet. So we renamed it "False Carson Pass." Our definition of a pass is something that you only go up once and then down once--not up, then down, then up up up, then down. Carson Pass redefined our definition of what a pass should be. So we worked our tails off that day. We only got as far as about 32 miles short of Placerville. So once again we found a place to bed down in the forest. All the official forest service camps up there are closed already so we just look around for a likely spot and bed down. We found a nice one that was in a logging area and overlooked San Joaquin Valley. A beautiful sunset finished that day. The next day was Sunday and the woods in El Dorado NF were very quiet. It was almost church-like. Neil said, "Feels almost like church." My thoughts indeed. We moved from woods into the wine-tasting country of the Sierra foothills. It was mostly meandering through back country roads with big oaks shading the road on either side. There were a couple of quick drops down to the Consumnes River and then the mandatory difficult climbs back up, but then we moved into some beautiful rides through shady glens in a mostly downhill run to Placerville where we shacked up in a motel on the east end of that historic town. And I think that takes us to where I finished (or started the earlier e-mail). Now it's time to head back to our digs about a mile from this library to rest up for the ride to San Francisco tomorrow. That will be quite something for this old whitebeard to ponder for years to come. There has been so much that has happened that I think I forgot to also mention another event of yesterday. As we neared Sacramento, on that magical ride on that wonderful American River bike trail, I called Chuck and Linda Boice, who live there, and who had invited us to stay with them on our journey. It was a sixty mile day for us and we just couldn't do the added journey down to where they live--ten miles south of the city. Ten miles is easy in a car (almost nothing), but to two old men at the end of the day, ten extra miles is very hard. I did want to see them, as Linda is my old neighbor from my childhood in Claremont and Chuck and I became good friends during their year of missionary service where I work in the LDS Church History Library. So they graciously said they would come to where we were bedding down (in an 1885 Victorian Italianate 3-story mansion hostel) just next to the city hall in downtown Sacramento. That is a story in itself. We got to make our own beds with sheets they gave us at registration. I have slept in hostels before (once in an unconverted horse barn) so I knew the drill, but this was new to Neil. He thought the other guys would murder us in our sleep when we set up our world-class snoring, so he finagled us a dorm room for ourselves. That prevented a mass murder last night in Sacramento. Anyway, Linda and Chuck treated us to a wonderful night out with them and dinner at Fat City on the historic old Sacramento river front. It was just a beautiful day. So many memories. So many wonderful people. Tomorrow we'll be heading for the city of love and we're feeling the love big time."Mel

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Up and over after Carson City

Pictures are road near Omo Ranch and camp (somewhere in the National Forest near the Carson pass). The log building was right at the pass (one of the many passes), a sort of visitor's center. Greybeards had a good day on Friday, up and down and up and down to the pass above Carson City until dark. The resorts, state parks, camps, etc were are closed, being this late in the season. They found a little road into the woods and rough camped with no facilities, but were prepared. Saturday morning was pretty cold, and they continued through the mountains. The dark came before they came to city, so they again camped in the rough, in much warmer weather. Mel finished his 2 lb jar of peanut butter. Sunday morning they went 30 or so miles to Placerville, where they finally got a motel and shower and most of the day to rest. The next 3 days are 60 mile days, and will bring them into San Francisco. Karen and Becky are planning their trip to San Francisco, too. They expect to meet up on Wednesday afternoon.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Carson City, NV, Hospitality

Thursday's ride was 66 miles, a full day. They rolled into Carson City at 5 p.m. decided to visit a bike shop, since both had broken mirrors. While there, Neil decided to have them mount his new back tire. In talking with employees, they found that a lot of locals take bikers in and contacted one, Barbara and Pete, who they stayed with. They have a 2 bedroom home, one bathroom and a yard filled with organic plants. Pete has ridden his bike all over the world. Since they've been together, Barbara also tours with him. They visited late into the evening. This morning brought whole wheat pancakes and eggs, sunny side up. After a thankful farewell they are on their way over the next and last mountain, 4500 feet elevation up from Carson City. They may be over it tonight or maybe not until the next day. They are looking forward to San Francisco and wrapping this adventure up.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"Onward" from Mel

Picture is of Pony Express Station west of Austin. "From Fallon, Nevada: On Monday, we started from Eureka, where Karen dropped us off during that bitter snow storm on Sunday. It was 12 degrees when we woke up (in a plush motel) and by the time we started off, it had probably warmed up into the low 20s. My beard was frosted within 15 minutes. I had put on multiple layers so I was warm enough once we began pedaling. We went through some great country and once we went over a couple of passes, we were in a flat basin area for about 40 miles. We made good time because the winds were with us for most of the day. Generally we find that we have a tail wind in the morning and a head or side-head wind in the afternoon. The common knowledge that we are bucking a headwind in Nevada because the prevailing winds blow east has not been our experience. The prevailing winds are way up in the sky, not down on ground level. We had to make good time today because we needed to travel 70 miles to make the next town--Austin. This was a long stretch with no places to get water or food, but the cool weather was in our favor and we didn't expend a lot of sweat (if any) in the cold air. We had a 1400 foot climb at the end and then a 3-mile quick descent to get to the old historic mining town (1863) of Austin. There were only ramshuckle motels to choose from, so at this cold time, beggars could not be choosy. My room had a classic orange shag carpet, but it was warm enough to be home for the night. We left Austin on Tuesday morning facing a 65 mile ride to Middlegate where we hoped to find a place to stay. On the outskirts of Austin was a nifty cemetery (or cemeteries). They were bisected by Highway 50 and there were separate cemeteries for IOOF, citizens, and different religious denominations and Indians. A rather category conscious way to be buried. We did all of our climbing in the morning after crossing the Reese River Valley. Then we had a long haul through a slightly-downhill but flat valley for a long way. We stopped at a Pony Express station site that had a Joe Nardone stainless steel marker (for those of you who know Joe) at Cold Springs. There were other Pony and Overland Stage sites along the way--very historic. Also the Lincoln Highway was ever present with remnants visible along the road. As we neared Middlegate, we saw a strange large tree with shiny things dangling from it in the distance. When we got even with it, we saw hundreds (400-500) shoes dangling from its branches. This was better than the world's largest ball of twine or house of mud (Chevy Chase's Vacation). There were about a hundred shoes at its base that had fallen. It was a head scratcher. That was only the beginning of a very wonderful time at the motel/bar/cafe at Middlegate. We have been looking for this kind of place in half the country--and Middlegate is it. The ambience. The character. It had it all. The photos won't do it justice. It was unforgettable. We left Middlegate this morning with only about fifty miles to go to Fallon. It was an easy day and we blew into Fallon about 2:30 after a leisurely ride. There were some ups at the beginning but the rest of the day was mostly flat. We are connoisseurs of roads. I recall riding a semi-rough road until about 15 miles from Middlegate when we chanced upon a first class road--very smooth. As Neil said, "Wake me up when we get to Fallon. This is as smooth as a baby's bottom." We love the good roads and times when the inclines are absent or minimal. During the day we had some good riding when we rounded a mountain corner and up ahead we spotted a rise. As he usually says, Neil blurted "Holy Moly! What's that about?" Today I took the opportunity to ride my bike on a stretch of the historic Lincoln Highway just to see what it would have been like. It was really rough. But as Neil said, "Well, they haven't maintained it in about 100 years." We are camped tonight in the Churchhill County Fairgrounds campgrounds. Pretty nice that they have a campground here at $5 for us tent people (with showers). Tomorrow we go to Carson City on an easy jaunt where I hope to link up with my neice, Aubrey. By Friday we should be in California, trying to position ourselves for a launch to get over Carson Pass which will be a 4000 foot climb". Mel

Easy Rider to Fallon, NV

Mel is at the Pony Express Station at Cold Springs. The camp tonight is at an RV park in Fallon; $2.50 each for a total of $5 for the camp spot. Mel is ecstatic. Showers are okay. The ride today was good -- easy. About 50 miles. They passed Sand Mountain, a sand-dunes kind of place with lots of people and RVs and stuff. They have seen a couple of Pony express historical sights and have been on "Lincoln Highway" some, which was the first road coast to coast in the 1920's. They've probably missed the couple-pushing-a-stroller. They were in Fallon, but were going to Reno from there, said the RV park guy. The Greybeards are going to Carson City, a different route, tomorrow and maybe beyond. Hopefully we can get pictures to post of the past few days. They don't seem to be making it here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Middlegate on Tuesday

Pictures are at Middlegate and the shoe tree. (I've tried to include a map of Nevada; somewhat legible. The course is highlighted in bright yellow. Double click and it should enlarge to screen size.) About 58 miles and lots of nothing to Middlegate, NV today, about 30 miles shy of Fallon. The greybeards are busy figuring logistics for the rest of the trip, hoping to be in San Fran on Friday, Oct 24. Just before they hit town they could see a huge cottonwood tree from miles back. As they got closer, they weren't sure what kind of tree it was as they could see something hanging all over in it. Upon arrival they saw that the tree and the ground below are covered with shoes! Its some kind of famous tree that people throw their shoes in. (I've heard that druggies throw shoes on a power line to signify they sell drugs?) Neil called it a "classic" town. The population is listed as 18 on the welcome sign, crossed out and listed at 17. There is a bar, a gas station, a motel, and a saloon and restaurant. They are in a motel room for $45 for the night with separate bedrooms so Neil won't wake Mel with his snoring. Way to score, guys!!

Awesome in Austin

Monday's ride was a good one from Eureka to Austin, 68 miles, and their longest so far. A lot of long straight road, but great vistas and beautiful skys. It made for a great ride after all the snow, even though it was still chilly. There was a 1700 foot rise to Austin at the end, where they arrived at about 7pm -- long day, but they're still having fun Neil says. Their motel was cheap and barely sufficient. They planned on leaving early today and setting sights on getting to Fallon tonight, 93 miles. We'll see.... Attached are some photos from the past few days that Karen took. A big thanks to her for being there when they needed her! Without a lift they would have had to wait the storm out in Milford, and probably be 3 or more days behind schedule.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday's Update

First picture is west of Eureka, NV, at 12F on Monday morning....

Due to the still freezing temps and winds, the Greybeards again hopped a ride Sunday morning with Karen and Will another 40 or so miles west from Ely to Eureka, NV. They stayed there Sunday night. They opted to get another boost with Karen before she and Will returned home. The forecast is still for 17 degree weather Monday morning but warming more during the day. It will be a pretty cold ride, but not so much elevation; rather level in comparison to most days. Neil loaded up on wool long socks, farmer's gloves and will be using the baklava. Hopefully they will still have fingers, toes and noses when they arrive. The monument shown with Mel is the Frisco Mine monument between Milford and Baker. Always the historian...

Mel's View

Yes, we are woosies--but we are alive. Today is Sunday and we are in Eureka, Nevada--thanks to my wife, Karen. They are having record low temperatures here in this part of Nevada. It is 18 degrees here for a high today--and that doesn't factor in the 10-15 mph wind factor. I'll backtrack to set the scene. After leaving Cedar, we headed north with Milford our destination. It would be a 56 mile day with 1000 foot elevation gain. It was a pretty easy climb, sustained over distance. Temperature was nice in the 50s with little headwind until we neared the hills we needed to pass over. Karen and my son, Will, had left Salt Lake about 8:30. We hoped to meet them about noon in Minersville. We met them about 4 miles south of Minersville--a joyous reunion. A month is a long time to be gone from home. Will joined us for the ride into minersville and then lunch. he then joined us for 14 mile finishing haul to milford against a 15 mile head wind. We had been hearing about the coming weekend's storm so got a motel on the hill--very nice. With a hot tub. it was owned and operated by the union pacific which puts up some of it's transitory workers there. milford is a railroad town. weather reports were very dicey. the wind was very gusty that evening and very cold. we huddled and decided that the weather looked almost impossible to bike in. karen's hope was that she could get us at least as far as Ely before she returned to Salt lake. We agreed. it was snowing and bitter cold the morning we left milford. We strapped the bikes on the rear rack and neil's bob trailer on the roof rack of the car. We put all our gear in back and off we went to Ely. That would have been an 84-mile day with 3 passes over 1000 feet en route --to Baker. We would have never made it in one day under the weather/head wind conditions. we would have been sleeping in a ditch probably 20 miles shy of Ely on a record cold weather night. there is a point when weather and adverse conditions this late in the year dictates what can be done on a journey like we are doing. i drove that 84 miles slowly so we could see what we would have seen had the weather been better. before getting to Baker (which would have been our stop that night), we met a lady and man walking west in the storm about halfway between milford and baker--there is absolutely nothing between those two places. we wondered if it were the couple we had heard about who were walking across the country, but they didn't have a baby buggy. We stopped and it was another couple who had cached water every twenty miles across this barren stretch and were indeed walking across the country. They were from Fort Worth, Texas, and had started walking from Delaware in March. They were hoping to reach San Francisco by Thanksgiving and were generally traveling about 20 miles a day. We had a delightful visit with them. It was great for karen and will to see some of these amazing people who are doing these very hard things! The woman echoed my sentiments when she said, "i have no idea why i'm doing this!' if she doesn't know after almost seven months into her journey, i might as well quit trying to figure it out for myself. We wished them well. After leaving them, neil said, "I feel like we're babies." We stopped at the Great Basin National park visitor center, coasted through Baker, and made for Ely. Ely would have been another tough ride--bunch of uphill stuff. So we rode in a car to Ely for what should have been two days on a bike. Hate to admit it, but my backside sure enjoyed the soft seat of the car. At Ely, all our weather reports were atrociously bad. Record lows, bad head winds. neil and i had poor night's sleep--thinking about all possible options. We reviewed all our options this morning and decided to take up karen's offer to pack us another long day's bike ride in the car here to Eureka. After making the ride here a few hours ago, both neil and i believe this was the right thing. there is no point turning this ride into an absolutely miserable bad weather journey. it is tough enough to ride the distances we do, with the elevation gains required, under good conditions. no sense making this into a death march. we think good sense prevailed. and our thanks be to karen for hauling our sorry bodies to this place. She said not to call her an angel because it would soil her demon reputation carefully cultivated for decades. So i won't. i can't wait to hear she got back safely home this evening. So we'll start from here early tomorrow to head for the next town, Austin, about 70 miles away. prospects are good for improved weather in the 50s for the high. that is not only bearable, but good biking temperature. The morning will be really cold, but we won't die. By Wednesday they are talking about weather in the 60s or 70s. Really wide swings here in the high Nevada country. This is a mountainous country. lots of ups and downs. Big valleys and big mountains. we are traveling on highway 50 which is billed as America's loneliest road. We don't see many vehicles and the towns are very far apart. All the bike riders have told us that we need to pack a lot of water, so karen brought my Camel back, a bunch of bottles of G2, and a couple gallons of water. We estimate that we are 9-10 days from San Francisco, barring some storm brewing for the Sierras. The Sierras won't be that high to cross, but there is a 4000 foot high climb for us to get over them. The rest of California should be a breeze.mel p.s.--sorry about the capitalization, but the shift key on this keyboard is sticking.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Another Stormy Weekend

This is Will, Mel's son, riding into Milford. The Greybeards stayed in Cedar City on Thursday night. Friday morning they set out early for Milford and met up with Karen and Will about 1/2 way there. The temperature warmed to the 50's, but riding into the wind was still frigid. Will then biked with them into Milford around 4pm. They spent Friday night in a warm motel and had a quite a time figuring logistics with the storm and all. The route for Saturday morning would be to Baker, around 80 miles, which is more than a day. Camping out wouldn't be too pleasant with the storm, so they decided to hop a ride from Milford, through Baker, NV, and on to Ely, NV with Karen today, which put them back on schedule, hopefully missing most of the storm. They will be spending their Sunday in Ely, and attending a local LDS church. There has been up to 2 inches of snow on the ground during their travel today. They had snow on the ground when they got up this morning in Milford, snow in Baker, NV, and snow on the ground in Ely. They are hoping to hit the road again by Monday morning, but the temperature still looks way cold; 17 degrees F Monday morning, only warming to mid 40s (See proof of cold in Ely today in attached picture). They did run onto a couple in their mid 30's walking the trans-atlantic route. They hike for 2 weeks, mostly on trails, then take a ride ahead and stash water for their next 2 weeks. The are from Delaware and are heading to San Francisco, taking 10 months altogether. The Delawarians? had run onto a couple in Fallon NV who are pushing a baby stroller across the US, from West to East, I think. They carry their gear in it, and are stopped frequently by law enforcement who think they are endangering a child. Neil and Mel and the walking-couple-from-Delaware all agreed that the walking-couple-with-a-stroller are really crazy. (Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black to me....)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

More Pictures

Here's Neil at Panguitch Reservoir yesterday and in the snow on Boulder Mountain the day before. The boys pose with the 2 guys from Wales that they met in the Glen Canyon area. Little gear, 100 miles a day. This adventure stuff seems to be a male thing.

Mel's Muffed?

This is Mel at 10,000 feet, top of Boulder Mountain. (Its a good thing they ride different style bikes. Its getting hard to tell them apart!) He titles his next chapter Muffed.
"Hi all, We left Torrey on Monday after two days rest because of the snow storm on Boulder Mountain. We just hunkered down and watched a lot of conference. Becky saw us off all bundled up in our warm clothes early Monday morning. We waved goodbye to her and headed south to get over the mountain. It was a great day for us. We climbed 4,000 feet and went 65 miles. We went from 9,700 feet in cold mountain air on the top of Boulder Mountain air, zipping down to the town of Boulder and then down the famous Hogsback twisty ride that is a favorite of motorcyclists. That was a thrill all the way to Calf Creek. Some of the drops were 12% grades. When we got to Calf Creek, the thrill was over as we had to climb back up about 1000 feet to get up to a high point from which we descended to Escalante. It was much warmer there than on Boulder Mountain. On Tuesday, we went from Escalante to Bryce. That was a tough day. We had a slight climb up through the Grand Staircase-Escalante area, only to do a big drop down to the town of Cannonville where we refueled. Then we had to climb back up through the pinnacles of Bryce. It was cold again up on top and getting dark on us. Fortunately they had a bike trail that took us to a state campground at Red Canyon. We set up tents again in the dark. We got an early start on Wednesday, but it was enough to freeze our tails. We stopped at the Highway 89 junction at a cafe for breakfast just to thaw out our fingers and everything else rather than ride to Panguitch to eat. At Panguitch we stopped at the forest service office to take off a few clothes because we had warmed up by then. Big mistake. Neil started talking with a guy who claimed to be an avid local cyclist. He was pretty persuasive about us taking a road to Mammoth Creek rather than going up to Cedar Breaks. We had some Welsh bike riders warn us about Panguitch when we met them about 7 miles outside of Glen Canyon. Chris Terry and Paul were from Swansea, Wales. They warned us against staying in Panguitch. Chris said, "It is a Fascist town." They tried to find a pub there after a day's ride and a resident pridefully told them that they had run the bar out of town (and the tattoo parlor). They asked where we were from. I told them I was from Salt Lake, but that Neil was the head of the Panguitch Chamber of Commerce and tourist bureau. They laughed and said that maybe it was time to split. They were traveling very light on racing type bikes. We wonder how they will fare in the Rockies. I have their e-mails to see how things go for them in the days ahead. Back to that road to Mammoth Creek. Big mistake! We lost a day of riding and had to reclimb a couple thousand feet. I had been on that road 40 years ago when it was dirt, but couldn't remember all the details about where it ended up, etc. I should have looked at the map closer, but Neil seemed pretty convinced that it would be the route we should go. He's beating himself up pretty bad over the decision. Oh, well, we just have to make do with what has happened. We ended up sleeping at Duck Creek campground instead of 25 miles further west in Cedar. We see that there is a nasty storm coming in two days. The gusty breezes tell us that. We had snow on the ground up on the mountain at 10,000 feet before we started down to Cedar. The wind gusts in the canyon threw me around like a rag doll on the bike. My panniers catch those side winds pretty nicely and just throw me around. I had to slow down a lot on the downhill just to play it safe. After weighing all our options, we decided to stay here in Cedar tonight and push for Milford tomorrow. We look forward to seeing some of my family who are coming down tomorrow to give aid and comfort. Karen and Will are coming for sure. That will not only be a wonderful reunion, but could not come at a more opportune time. After Milford is the dreaded ride of 84 miles to Baker (with no services in between) on what is called America's loneliest highway. Becky saved our bacon in the Monticello to Glen Canyon ride and Karen will be a Joan of Arc for us on that stretch. The storm is scheduled to hit that day and snow is expected (about 70% chance). Not good riding weather. This may be the last time I communicate for quite a while as we are heading out in land where we may not find a terminal (or much of anything else). Just check the blog as Becky updates it daily with our progress and news. Also Neil just sent her a bunch of recent photos. Some of the drivers here have "given us a brush." Must be descendants of the Cedar MMM participants. That is code language that my MMM mates will understand. While eating at a fast food place, I saw Rick Turley's photo on a big electronic message board across the street at bank. It said he would be speaking here at the Cedar library later this month. Would have been fun to have got here when he was to speak, but can't linger with the weather. We saw an eastbound rider on the top of Cedar Mountain, but it was too cold up there to stop and visit and he really was moving. I don't know exactly, but I guess we are about 1200 miles into this journey now." Mel

A Night in the Mountains

The good ol' boys were camping in the mountains last night. They met a cyclist at the Panguitch Visitor's center who told them he knew an easier route over the mountain, so they tried it. They decided it was a harder route! Funny joke. They did over 2500 ft elevation yesterday and decided they better stop at a campground, after 40 miles for the day. They had another 1600 ft to climb this morning before heading down to Cedar City, where they arrived by lunch time. They would like to make it to Milford tonight, another 53 miles, but may stay in Minersville. They are studying the map at this very minute. They are at Hermmes for lunch in Cedar City. (Karen and I have been a little concerned, since we hadn't any word last night, but common sense told us they were out of cell phone territory.) So good to have contact. The Bashore bunch, Karen and her sons Adam and Will are heading out tomorrow morning to Milford and beyond to catch up with the Gray Beards. Adam and Will want to ride the high Nevada desert with them. Looks like they may run into some cold and windy weather. So its another few days with riding company, which is great for us family members spirit of well being. Enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

More Canyons: Red in Bryce tonight

Here's the Gray Beards East of Bryce Canyon. Also a good picuture of the picnic lunch on the way to Hite, UT last Wednesday. Mel is telling stories! Fisher is busy eating chips, and Nate is busy thinking, it appears. This Wednesday, tomorrow, will be a similar trip, except no Fisher, no Nate and no Sag Wagon lunch, just the Gray Beards. Tonight Neil called from just past Tropic and outside Bryce Canyon at about 6:30pm where they were having dinner. It has been another difficult ride today. Lots of elevation and then down big hills and more elevation, about 40 miles all together. That makes them pretty close to 1000 miles, half the total distance of their adventure. They are probably looking forward to the boredom of some long flat roads for a change. Even with all the difficulty, they are determined to finish what they have started. They are planning on camping in Red Canyon, a camp we stayed at when we had rented a motor home, about 3 years ago. It was a pretty campground. It is another 4 miles down the road from where they ate dinner tonight. The bikers they have run into going the other direction say the Utah part of the trans-Am route is spectacular -- so much different scenery. Tomorrow they head to Panguitch and then up and over the mountain and past Panguitch Lake, to Cedar Breaks then to Cedar City. They're not sure how far they will get. Enjoy the journey -- look for happy things each day.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mel's Newest Chapter

We're holed up in Torrey as it's snowing on Boulder Mountain. We're going to make this a rest day and just hole up here until conditions get safer. They are projected to get 6-10 inches of snow on the mountain during this storm. Becky (Neil's wife) and Nate (Neil's oldest son) joined us in Monticello. Clint (another of Neil's sons) joined us for the ride yesterday from Hanksville to here. That was really one of our best rides yet. It was cloudy and cool most of the day and not too much uphill except for the last 11 miles. I had never been to Capitol Reef before. That was a beautiful ride going through there on a bike under the best of conditions. We also saw a small herd (6) of desert big horn sheep in the park. We watched them feeding about 100 yards from us across the Fremont River. Neil talked with a lady ranger in the visitor center who said that in six years, she had never seen them. Pretty fortuitous for us. It has been great having the Spencer clan here to help us through some tough stretches and just for company. His boys wanted to experience a little of what we have been going through. In fact, even though Becky had the sag wagon to haul our gear, Nate wanted to see what it was like to pack pannier bags and gear weight on a bike. That had me scratching my head, but each to his own. In my way of thinking, if there is a sag wagon, you take full advantage of it. It was a life saver (maybe an overstatement) for us on our ride from Monticello to Lake Powell. Anyway, there was a 2000 foot elevation hill in the middle of that journey that would have put Neil and I into walking mode if Becky hadn't have been there. I told her she was "Angel Becky." In fact, Neil and I would probably have had to sleep in a ditch half way there and made a two day affair out of it. We really should have started in Blanding to make it a one day do-able journey. But we had three flat tires after leaving Dolores, Colorado. They were all on our rear wheels which meant unloading all our gear and reloading it to repair the flats. Took considerable time. We probably wouldn't have had the oomph to push on to Blanding anyway. The road into Monticello was rollers (up and down hills). Not good. We like to blow into a towns in a down-hill rush (like we did into Hanksville). We didn't get into Monticello until 7 PM. To catch you up: I think we left Telluride on Monday. We gained most of our elevation on that day's ride just outside Telluride, but we rode (not walked) most of that day's ride. We climbed up to Lizardhead Pass (10,200 feet). There was a beautiful Swiss-like Trout Lake near the top. While resting at the top, a biker blew up from the other side and we had a great visit. He was T.J. from Ricoh, twelve miles down the road. He had spent his growing up years in Wanship. We had such a great visit that he asked if he could go down the mountain with us. Sure. He was 56 years old and races mostly in New Mexico on the senior circuit. Very enjoyable. Our last presence in the Rockies ended with about a 40 mile downhill ride to Dolores. Even though it was by a river, in a beautiful forest with full-blown golden aspens, the ride was rather a blur in sameness. Dolores was kind of a hodgepodge town. Had to sleep in an RV park, but the showers revived us. At dinner in a Mexican restaurant, we met a guy named Chris who was taking off for a 5-day ride in the desert in Blanding. He wondered if we might meet him there when he pushed off in a few days. Sure enough, we did, and he rode out of Blanding with us for about 8 miles. He had a Surly bike similar to mine and had it outfitted with chopped off plastic water containers for panniers on the back and old front panniers. Another gritty guy. I had another flat on the way out of Monticello. Technically it wasn't a flat, but a leak from the patch we had put on previously so we just changed out to a new tube. As I mentioned, Becky hauled us over the tough climb and a little more to make it easy for us. We still rode 57 miles, but we did in one day what it probably would have taken Neil and I two days to do. Plus there was no services (that is, no water or diet Coke) between Blanding or Lake Powell. We would have had our tongues hanging out. It was very strange for Neil and I to be in the Rockies at 10000 feet and two days later be in the 85 degree heat on the shores of Lake Powell. We really couldn't get over it. And now we are looking out at Boulder Mountain enveloped in a snow cloud. Last night I slept in the tent and the approaching storm winds really whipped the tent--making a racket. So we'll take our rest day today and just hole up here in Torrey and hope for a clearing to proceed maybe tomorrow, but more likely, maybe Monday. We'll just listen to Conference and find a church in town to go to general priesthood meeting tonight. Nate, Clint, and Fisher (Nate's 3-year old son) just took off to head back to Salt Lake. It was great having them here. Becky (aka Angel Becky) is staying with us for at least tonight or until we begin riding again. Mel

3 weeks down, 3 to go. Enjoy the Journey!!!

President Monson's conference address, focusing on "Enjoy the Journey, find happiness every day" really hits home with the biking adventure. Both Gray beards were in good spirits and ready to go on Monday morning. Mel asks the question again, "What am I doing here?" Monday morning was chilly, as the frost on Neils bike seat proves. I returned home, assured that yes, they are both still alive, and yes they are both old, and yes they are both doing great. Their ride was about 60 miles today and lots of elevation -- 2500 up to the top of Boulder Mountain; then down to the Escalante River; then up another 1000 feet to Escalante, making it a late arrival, but a good hard ride. The mountain is beautiful with aspen colors almost fluorescent. It must be the adventure in the gray beards souls that make them do this. Everybody has their own demons.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Storm delay: Hunkered Down in Torrey

Big Storm arrived Saturday morning, postponing the ride. Snow on Boulder wouldn't be do-able. This proves, to quote Randy, that they "still have some common sense." Nate, Clint, and Fisher head home. The Gray Beards and Becky visited Bicknell and had the famous Pinto Bean Pie. The storm has coincided with General Conference weekend. Neil and Mel attend the Priesthood Session of Conference Saturday night in Loa. Sunday is a day of rest and conference. We also drove up Boulder Mountain to an old Ranger Station built in 1912, that Mel and his son Will had spend part of a summer working on about 5 years ago. The Bashores have participated in a Forest Service Program for volunteers called "Passport in Time" (PIT). They spend up to 3 weeks a summer working on various projects in the National Forests. They really enjoy it. The biking adventure will resume Monday morning, up and over Boulder Mountain to Boulder City, or Escalante. Weather forecast looks much better. Hopefullly, the guys will get right back into the rhythm.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Story to Torrey

Now a foursome and early departure on Friday. Nate decides to take all his gear to see how it feels. Not too far out in the middle of nowhere, at about 10am they spot Randy's Bakery, and meet "Randy the Legend". They had a pastry and bought a loaf of bread baked in a wooden stove outside the store. Its more than coincidence to Neil who loves to have a pastry at 10am. The ride was beautiful, lots of scenery and funny mountains. A ride along the Fremont River through Capitol Reef National Park can't be beat. Another perfect happening was spotting 6 longhorn sheep near the river that even the lady who has worked at the visitor's center for 10 years has never seen! Neil is beside himself with joy! Pastries at the right moment and Big Horn Sheep to boot. Then, the apples from the you-pick orchards at $1 a pound made it a day that could not have been better. Met some guys (3) in a car doing all the National parks in the country that have been on the adventure for 3 months. We picnicked in a picnic park at the Visitors Center where Mel loses his handlebar bag when hitting some road markers to slow everyone down -- must have been doing the speed of light. Then reality hits and the second half of the ride is a lot of uphill. Nevertheless, they ride in about 5pm having done another 50 miles, bringing the total to about 910 miles in nearly 3 weeks. The bad news is the weather forecast is for rain and snow from 6 - 12 inches in the mountains tomorrow, which is their next day -- up the road to the Boulder Mountains and then down the other side. Might seriously need the Sag Wagon.

Hite, UT, and Hanksville

What a great breakfast! Mel is halfway done with the 2lb jar of p-nut butter. Hot cocoa and oatmeal was good, too. 56 miles for the day, gradual uphill. The bridge over the river at Hite is gorgeous. Fisher loved it. The Sag Wagon headed right to Hanksville to locate a motel, and find lunch to take to the trio. No services were available along their route Thursday. The bicyclers met 2 grys from Wales who were traveling especially light, staying in motels. They didn't carry much water either, Neil worried about them the rest of the day. The Welch team does about 100 miles a day. They cautioned our guys to stay away from Panguitch, "they're fascists". When inquiring about a pub there they were told that the last bar had been run out of town recently as well as a tatoo parlor. Mel stayed in the RV camp and talked with the owners about tough times there, running without enough help, etc. Spencers went t0 "Blondies" for dinner, where they lost our order and the cook was leaving for the day when we stopped him. His apology included any ice cream, etc we would like, but we filled up on dinner and were great. Another Spencer, Clint (Neil's son) arrived again at midnight for a couple of days to join the dream adventure.

Rendezvous at Monticello

It felt real good to be back in Utah. Nate (Neils Son), Fisher (Nate's 3 year old), and Becky (Neil's wife) had pulled the trailer along for Nate's bike and Sag Wagon duties for a few days in Southern Utah (carrying gear in trailer, fetching meals, replenishing water, etc). Breakfast at PJs and the now "trio" of bikers headed for Hite, Ut, a mere 92 or so miles away, which was listed as having lodging (for Becky and Fisher), restaurants (for dinner, etc), and camping (for the guys). About 5 miles down the road Mel had a flat. It was a repair patch that had bulged away. That made 3 flats for Mel in 2 days. (They both got flats on Monday from truck tire wire on the road.) Neil dubbed him "Lucky Mel". A lighter load helped and the whole group stopped in Blanding at the Visitors Center where they again met Chris from Mancos, CO. He was launching from his van there, and riding in the desert for 5 days. His Surley bike was loaded with back panniers made of blue water jugs with the top cut off, and front panniers of army bags. He ended up riding along with them for about 5 miles out of Blanding, where his route turned off. The road was mainly downhill from there to Hite Marina. Lots of pretty red rock. Hite Marina was found to be more or less abandoned at about nightfall. A few campers and boats were all that were there. The store said hours were 9 to 2. No one at the ranger station. The restaurant appeared to be a table inside the store with a table cloth and salt and pepper on it. We figured it was maybe the off season being Oct 1, but no info on that either. Dinner was leftover sandwiches, granola bars, and some fruit. Tents were up and we all slept out, Nate and Fisher in the back of the Jeep. The milky way was visible as soon as the sun went down. The stars were incredible.