Sunday, May 31, 2009

Southwest Trip--Day 3

When we woke up Monday, we felt like pieces of jerky--withered and dry. Our primary goal for the day was ingestion of fluids. My other goal was to finish putting the bikes together so we could ride..

I had just about everything done, but I sought the aide of one of the local shops, Zion Cycles, when it came time to inflate the tires. Why pump up four 29'er tires with a mini-pump if I don't have to? Zion Cycles was a great shop, and we loaded up on energy bars and local knowledge (okay, and a t-shirt).

Fully assembled, we headed back to the B&B to fill our hydration packs and to set out for a day of riding. On our ride into Zion National Park (ZNP) I made another stop at Zion Cycles to grab some tubes--otherwise we would have been guaranteed a flat. We rolled into ZNP on the Pa'Rus trail--a smooth paved bike path that follows the Virgin River. Did I mention that it was perfectly flat and smooth? I did? Good, then you can imagine my surprise when I heard a loud "PING" followed by "grrrb, grrrb, grrrb, grrrb, grrrb." I broke a spoke and my wheel went wobbly, rubbing the frame. I could have tried various trail-side techniques to get the wheel straight, but being only a couple of miles from the shop, I decided to commandeer Jean's bike and ride with my wheel back to Zion Cycles. I'm sure they were thinking that I was just going to keep popping back in all day! Fred re-spoked me and had me straight and true in no time, and I was back on my way to ZNP for us to continue our ride.

ZNP does not allow cars into the main canyon (unless you're staying at the Lodge). Everyone has to park at the visitor's center and take the shuttles in to the park. This makes for some great road riding. Park rules do state that you have to pull over to let the buses pass though, but this wasn't frequent enough to be a problem.

We rode in to the end of the canyon, took pictures, rode some more, took some more pictures, and continued to hydrate as it was hot. How hot? Easily more than 100F. My watch thermometer (which was NOT in direct sunlight) registered 107F. Gotta love the desert!

Later that night, Mike and Jo were still in town so they came by our B&B to chat beneath the stars, and our "neighbors" in the room next to us (who were visiting from Pennsylvania) sat with us to talk about all sorts of things. Good fun with good people, then my battery went to "E" and it was bed time.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Southwest Trip--Day 2

Sunday morning Jean and I grabbed great breakfast sandwiches at Cafe Soleil before meeting Mike and Jo at the Zion National Park visitor's center. There we worked out the logistics for dropping one car off at the trailhead, and shuttling back to the visitor's center to pick up the other car that we would eventually use to pick up the first car. Huh? Our plan for the day was to hike the 10-ish mile East Rim Trail which started at the eastern entrance to Zion National Park and ended at the Weeping Rock Trailhead. From there we took the shuttle back to the visitor's center where our other car awaited. Enough of that.

The hike was great, but hot. Really hot. As in "more than 100-degrees hot." We could have had twice as much water as we had and we probably still should have had more. Anyway, not much to say other than we got to see some amazing desert vistas. The photos just don't do it justice. One of the best parts was going through a narrow slot canyon towards the end. After descending an endless series of swithcbacks, we reached the end. And, "thanks" to Mike who let Jean borrow a trekking pole. At Weeping Rock, we picked up the Zion Shuttle to the Lodge for massive rehydration (Jean alone drank 64oz of unsweetened Nestea and still didn't have to pee for a couple of days).

Mike, JoAnne, Jean and I grabbed dinner at the Spotted Dog (which was adequate), then it was time to go our separate ways--Mike & Jo to the Best Western and Jean and I to our B&B.

One a serious and somber note, that same day that we did our hike, a group of mountain bikers went out for a ride nearby (Little Creek), and one died on the trail. As of this writing, I'm not sure what happened--heat stroke? Heart attack? Either way, my thoughts go out to his family and those he left behind.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Southwest Trip--Day 1

They say getting there is half the fun. They lie. Jean and I were up packing on Friday night until about 11:00pm. We were actually all packed a few hours before that, but then we re-packed. It was annoying, but it did allow us to only check our bikes and bring everything else in our carry-ons. It was a good idea--and a money saver--but that alarm still went off at 3:30am. Yep, up at 3:30am, out of the house by 4:30am, then off to the Park & Fly Shuttle, then off to the Delta terminal, then wait in a LONG security line. When all was said and done, shortly after 6:00am we were PACKED into our tiny seats in row 42 for the first leg of our journey. Departure was at 6:30.

We landed on time in Salt Lake City, but we had to wait about 20 minutes to get to a gate. Yes, our gate was changed--changed to a farther gate from the one we had to get to for our connecting flight. Of course! Then we had to wait for more than 240 passengers to gather their belonging from the overhead compartments (belongings which may have shifted) before we could make OUR move to the aisle. Being in the back of the plane sucks. By the time we actually disembarked, we had to pretty much sprint to the next concourse to board the next plane. Translation--no food.

Our flight from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas was uneventful, and after what felt like an eternity, our bikes did pop out onto the baggage carousel. From there, we were shuttled to a black-hole of time known as the rental car counter. I waited with the luggage while Jean stood in line for 45 minutes at Avis. Forty five minutes! I was actually calling customer service from my cell phone in the lobby, but of course, it's wasn't Monday through Friday, so unless I had a roadside emergency, no one wanted to talk with me. We did get upgraded to a Rav4, but that was still an ridiculously long wait.

Once in the car, it was time to find some food. We were fortunate enough to find a Whole Foods just outside of the airport, so we were able to get some good natural food. We grabbed some additional food for the week and couldn't wait to get OUT of Vegas. Highway 15, here we come.

The two-hour drive from Las Vegas to Zion National Park was fine, but we had been traveling all day, and it was getting weary. We found our accomodations--the Canyon Vista B&B, which was perfect--Matt and Trista were excellent hosts, their property was just outside of the national park, and the amenties included two dogs! After throwing our bags down, we hooked up with our friends, Mike and JoAnne who were also in the area vacationing. Dinner at the Whiptail, then it was lights-out time as my battery went to "E." Plans were made for the following day though...

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Lots to blog about--updates should be forthcoming this week. In the meantime, check out this RIVETING video of the trail I cut on our little piece of East Burke. This is only one SMALL section, and I've got LOTS more work ahead of me. But to put it into perspective, it took me about three hours to clear logs and tree fall, trim and rake this one small section that it took me about three minutes to walk. More to come.