I wrote this blog entry on Saturday night but couldn’t post it until Sunday. That’s because I have no wifi or cell access here at the Rodeway Inn in Capitol Reef, UT. Interesting name, since there is no water anywhere and thus no “reef” — and it doesn’t appear to be the capitol of anything except, perhaps, desolate but beautiful desert.
We left Dale Berkbigler’s mountain home this morning bound for Del Norte airport, where Dale stores his planes and, for one night only, my motorcycle (his was there too). After just a few miles driving down Pinos Creek road, we came across an honest-to-god Colorado cattle drive. This was a bona fide, genuine movement of beef cattle on the hoof — not dude ranch fakery.

After a brief delay, we completed the drive to the airport where I started packing up my bike while Dale washed the cattle drive mementoes off of his car. Finally, the four of us — Clive, Dale, Laurie Anne and me — climbed on our motorcycles and hit the road. We headed west over Wolf Creek Pass (subject of a “semi”- famous trucker-themed song from the 1970’s; I still know the words), through Durango, past Mesa Verde National Monument and into Utah.

We took turns leading because my riding partners have not yet learned that if you give me that kind of control, I’m going to stop the group so I can take pictures. Our first group picture was by the side of the road in the middle of Utah — it was spectacular and nearly barren of traffic. To get this shot, I perched my camera on my helmet across the road, set the timer and ran back into the frame. I also took many other shots and during this elapsed time period of perhaps 15 minutes; not one car passed from either direction.

We then rode on to an overlook where you can see a little bit of Lake Powell. It was obviously time for another group shot, so I used the trusty camera-on-a-rock-straightened-by-twigs method and snapped a decent photo. The scenery there was amazing.

So was the heat. During the subsequent leg of the journey, we covered about 150 miles and the temperature was well over 100 the entire time, topping out at a toasty (but not steamy; no humidity here) 107 degrees.

We refueled at the Hollow Mountain convenience store, where an angry-looking man, accompanied by his embarrassed-looking wife and disinterest kids in a large pickup truck pulling a large boat on a trailer honked at me while I took this picture:

Which brings me to the Rodeway Inn in Capital Reef. It’s not fancy but it’s very clean, quite updated (except for the intermittent wifi) and the sunset is spectacular. The picture of the butte across from the hotel is straight out of the camera, with no retouching at all. This is the full glory of sunset in the desert, as though nature is giving you a small reward for tolerating the wicked heat of the daytime.

Tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter, but I genuinely don’t care. This is a fiery paradise but a paradise nonetheless. It’s a humbling thing to witness the vastness, the majesty and the unique beauty of this landscape and the heat is part of the experience — a character in the drama.

More tomorrow and thanks for reading.