Tuesday, September 23, 2008

howl at the moon...

Aunt & Uncle HouseRose and I recently returned from a vacation in Utah. It seems like an odd place for a queer couple to vacation, but the land is beautiful and the motorcycling is outstanding. We had a thrilling time.
Our first few days were lazy and fun, just passing time getting across West Texas (snooze) and into Cortez, CO (beautiful). We enjoyed the warm hospitality of my aunt and uncle in Las Vegas, NM along the way and sampled some terrific cuisine in Taos. We even shopped! Furthermore, we bought something! Neither Rose nor I shops recreationally so that was a noteworthy moment. It was a home decor item so large we had to ship it home as it wouldn't have fit on our motorcycles. Srsly. I'm sure that I'll post a photo of it once we get the room painted and hang it on the wall.
Five Metric BikesWe met up in Cortez with some friends from Bakersfield, CA and another friend from Phoenix, AZ. Chewy (one of the two from Bakersfield) started having trouble with her bike out on the road. It turns out an electronic component in her bike was on the fritz, and this is a widespread problem. They had several dozen back ordered at the shop where she stopped for repairs, so we had a makeshift solution for starting her bike: keep trying until it works. It turns out, though, that the uncooperative electronic component governed other miscellaneous systems, like headlights and the cooling fan. These will both be important later...
Mesa Verde
So on our first day out, we hit a bunch of big destinations: Mesa Verde, the Four Corners, Goosenecks State Park, and a terrific (in the terrifying sense of the word) Four Corners piece of road called the Moki Dugway. About 2/3 up the Moki Dugway, Chewy's bike overheated and we had to pull over. (Fritzy Electronic Component strikes again!) On the face of a cliff, in a switchback, five bikes parked on the gravel, with sunset approaching rapidly. And that wasn't the scary part of the day. Goosenecks Just so you know, everything worked out okay. Now you don't have to scroll to the bottom of this post looking for the awful news before you come back to finish the story.

Crazy Road

After about an hour waiting for the bike to cool, we carried on. This meant we were passing through Lake Powell territory right at sunset, but we were still a good hour and a half from our destination in Hanksville, UT.Mexican Hat As full darkness got serious about settling on the mesa there, Chewy's absent headlight became a real problem. (Fritzy Electronic Component strikes again!) However, she's a real tough lady and not one to stop riding for something so silly as absence of light. So she put me out front, and she rode just off my flank so she could use my headlight to illumine her path. Everyone else followed behind. Really, this worked pretty well as long as the road was straight and flat. We had to slow down significantly to take the curves, though. UNTIL... [dramatic music: DUN-DUN-DUNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!] the coyote.

CoyoteThat's right, gentle readers. I had my first motorcycle/wildlife encounter. This little coyote was out in the middle of the road, sniffing something on the pavement that I'm certain was quite disgusting and probably dead. As soon as I saw it, I jammed on my brakes and (reportedly) created quite a nasty-smelling cloud of rubber smoke behind me. I did not manage to avoid the coyote, but I did manage to avoid the pavement. So I call that a tie. I hit the thing with my tire and then IT hit my left foot and went spinning off into the darkness. Some brainiacs have asked me when I tell them this whether the coyote lived. Now, really, if you hit a wild wolf-like creature on the highway at night, would you go unarmed out into the desert to look at the outcome? Really?!?! Just FYI, the pictured coyote is one that we stumbled across in a national park the following day.

About five minutes later, the massive rush of adrenaline wore off, and I had to pee like i have never in my life needed to pee. And I went through both basic training and military survival school, so I know about needing to pee. :) Luckily, we were only another 10 miles or so from Hanksville, at that point. We pulled up at the first gas station and examined my bike for signs of damage and everyone else's teeth for rubber cinders. Turns out there were none of the above, but I finally got to pee. We concluded (and rightly so) that it was too late by then to expect any restaurants to be open in this roll-up-the-sidewalks-at-dusk sort of town, so we bought some cans of Chef Boyardee and rolled to our campground.

Chef Boyardee heated over a camp stove, when savored with that Boyamigladtobealive sauce and topped with superb company, is probably the finest gourmet meal I've ever eaten.

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