BICYCLE COAST TO COAST ACROSS AMERICA
September 1, 2014
Part 12: Utah, desert, vastness of forever
Two cycle nerds ride along on a tandem, when suddenly, the one on the front slams on the brakes, gets off and starts letting air out of the tires.
The one on the back says: "HEY! What are you doing that for?"
The first nerd says, "My seat was too high and was hurting my butt. I wanted to lower it a bit."
So the one in the back has had enough. He jumps off, loosens his own seat and spins it round to face the other direction.
Now it's the first guy's turn to wonder what's going on. "What are you doing?" he asks his friend.
"Look mate," says the rider in the back, "if you're going to do stupid stuff like that, I'm going home!"
We bid Zeb and Deanne good-bye after the interview and headed for the City of Rocks. Truly, it’s a city built in a valley of rocks.
Later we pedaled along Route 81 to I-84 toward Snowville, Utah. We faced a vast expanse of nothingness. How Howard and Misty traversed so vast a semi-desert region astounded me.
Eight hours later, with the sun setting, we bedded down in a high grassy field near an abandoned gas station still totally out in the middle of nowhere.
“You gotta’ wonder why on Earth anyone, especially women and children, would ride across this endless expanse of desert,” said Howard.
“How in the daylights did you keep your sanity with nothing but you and Misty?” Wayne asked Howard.
“Pretty much,” Howard said. “I just gritted my teeth, kept a full canteen as much as possible, and ground out 25 miles every day until I reached a gas station or small town. I asked for help with water from passing motorists. Nothing else to do. As I said, it wasn’t fun and it wasn’t easy. Hard livin’.”
(Howard on his bike along the desert-arid area of Utah. For the Guinnes book of world records: Howard is the only man in history to ride a horse and a bicycle coast to coast across America. I bet the record stands for all t
Over those miles, I gained a tremendously new appreciation of my brother’s “true grit.” Even more so, I gained appreciation for the women and their kids who followed their men across this wasteland in covered wagons at seven miles per day. I wondered what possessed them to suffer such hardship. Even more so, I wonder how the Indians felt as they watched their lands and way of life vanish before them.
The next day, we pedaled up some long grades only to descend on the other side. Over 70 miles later, we made camp. Didn’t say much because we continued through nothing but nothing.
I’ll say this: bicycle adventure may not always be comfortable or exciting, but it always leads to “something” in the future if I keep pedaling. Perhaps in moving toward that unknown factor, life opens to creative opportunity.
(Frosty celebrating our entry into the “Elevated State of Utah” the land of the Mormons, Great Salt Lake, Rocky Mountains, great skiing and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.)
Rod McQuen, a popular poet of the 60s wrote a poem that I memorized: “I have been gone a long time now, but along the way, I learned some things. You have to make the good times yourself. Take the little times and make them big times and save the times that are “all right” for the ones that aren’t so good. I want you, but night is only inches away, and I can wait. Meanwhile watch the butterfly playing on the tall flower in the yard; and the sun’s going down; it always does you know.”
Somehow, that poem imprinted on my mind and I recite it around the campfire.
Additionally, I am a product of the 60s and because of that, I love Elvis, Ray Orbison, Aretha Franklin, Barry White and Frank Sinatra along with the crooner Dean Martin. Can’t forget Bing Crosby and Perry Como, plus “I left my heart in San Francisco” with Tony Bennett. Dang, he’s still alive and still singing.
We hooked up with Route 89 where we pedaled on the edge of the mountains heading south toward Salt Lake City. We cranked through mountains of junkyards and trash. Funky trailer homes created an ugly backdrop. Then, out of nowhere, a $2 million home that looked like a castle. It stunned us. It felt like looking at the Taj Mahal set in the middle of a junkyard.
In the distance, a gray pollution cloud covered Salt Lake City and the Great Salt Lake.
(Route 89 heading into Salt Lake City as we hug the foothills to the Rocky Mountains. In the distant lake, a flock of white winged pelicans that fly from the Baja, Mexico to nesting grounds in Canada. Magnificent birds.)
That night, we camped out in a rock quarry with the sun setting in a brilliant display of colors as it filtered through all the air pollution. It started out orange against streaking white horsetail clouds until it transformed into deeper oranges and gold. Quickly the sun vanished below the water. The blue sky turned silver with pink-stripped clouds reflecting light from their underbellies. The last light sprayed across the heavens.
In an instant, the beauty vanished. Perhaps a day stands as a metaphor for your life. You wake up with promises rising in the east. You fill the day with your activities, passions and purpose. At the end, you blaze across the universe of your life with a colorful life lived to the maximum. Then, suddenly, your life vanishes back into darkness. For sure, make it a good one so that when you make that final descent, you carry a big smile on your face for a life well lived.
“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread. A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself.” ~ Edward Abbey
© 2014 Frosty Wooldridge - All Rights Reserved
Frosty Wooldridge possesses a unique view of the world, cultures and families in that he has bicycled around the globe 100,000 miles, on six continents and six times across the United States in the past 30 years. His published books include: "HANDBOOK FOR TOURING BICYCLISTS"; “STRIKE THREE! TAKE YOUR BASE”; “IMMIGRATION’S UNARMED INVASION: DEADLY CONSEQUENCES”; “MOTORCYCLE ADVENTURE TO ALASKA: INTO THE WIND—A TEEN NOVEL”; “BICYCLING AROUND THE WORLD: TIRE TRACKS FOR YOUR IMAGINATION”; “AN EXTREME ENCOUNTER: ANTARCTICA.” His next book: “TILTING THE STATUE OF LIBERTY INTO A SWAMP.” He lives in Denver, Colorado.
His latest book. ‘IMMIGRATION’S UNARMED INVASION—DEADLY CONSEQUENCES.’